We’ve been talking about heaven on earth. How when the King of heaven comes to live IN our hearts, we can experience the reality of heaven right here, right now. The Kingdom of heaven in us - and showing out thru us - every day. Lighthouses of living hope. Because Jesus Christ, risen from the grave and living in us is the hope of glory. Through Him we’re reborn to a hope that is real and lasting - and it’s backed by heavenly Holy Spirit transformation. Metamorphosis. Epiphany. Thru the resurrection power of Jesus.
Now sometimes heaven on earth sounds too good to be true. Christ is our Savior/Sanctifier, but Heaven is a distant dream. Right now, life is a fog of brokenness. The bed of roses is full of thorns. Surely the thorns of life are never so close that Jesus is not closer still. He wore a crown of thorns, lugged that cross up Calvary’s hill - for you. And you know what else He carried? [Is. 53:3-5 …a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried… and by His stripes we are healed.] As He climbed up that hill and onto that cross, forsaken by friends AND family, He carried our sorrows. He bore our sins, yes, but He also bore our griefs. And by His scourging, by His stripes, we are healed. Christ is our Healer.
Broken hearts. Old hurts. Relationships. But the Hebrew literally says, He lifted our sicknesses. He carried our pains. Some versions prefer to choose words that sound less physical. Why do they do that? Does Jesus only come to help us with sin and sadness? What about physical healing? Does Jesus do the supernatural today? Miracles. Signs and wonders. The world normally defaults to natural solutions. “Scientific explanations”. But even some Christians insist that miracles have ceased. That once the Scriptures were complete, God pretty much stopped doing wonders. Really? [Got a hold of a copy of the book, Heavenly Man, and read first-hand accounts of what God is doing today...] What do you think? Is a wonderful impossible no longer possible? Is “super-natural” some overhyped oxymoron? A thing of the past?
It’s possible that the NAS/ESV translators who changed the Hebrew to sound less supernatural perhaps were concerned about endorsing the [excesses]. The name-it-claim-it folks. The ones who say, if you have enough faith, God is guaranteed to make you healthy AND wealthy. Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” The LIE says, if YOU have ENOUGH faith God WILL do a miracle for you. The danger is that we turn faith into a [work]. Mark 10:27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
Faith. All things ARE possible. But not everyone gets a miracle. Hebrews chapter 11, [heroes of the faith]. Some saw great miracles. And some never saw a miracle, never even saw God’s promises fulfilled [Heb 11.36-38 Others experienced mockings and scourgings, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.]. Sometimes the journey of faith involves loss. Loss of health or freedom, or possessions. In fact the journey of faith begins with loss: Matt. 16:25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Look at Paul - in prison. Stephen, so many others - executed. Even Jesus - more faith than anyone. In the garden, asking His Father IF a miracle is possible: Matt. 26:39 He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, IF it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Did He get a miracle? Maybe not the one He was hoping for: Luke 22:43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. As those who trust in Christ we do look to a guaranteed future reward [Heb. 11:25-26 By faith Moses…chose rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.]. But Jesus never doubted what God could do today: Matt. 26:53 “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Just because we don’t SEE a miracle doesn’t mean that God can’t do one. Nor does it even mean we don’t get one.
What is it that demonstrates our faith? Asking. Asking is the primary means by which the supernatural shows up in our world. Have you ever noticed the language Jesus uses in connection with prayer? Matt. 21:22 “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Limitless! Never underestimate the power of prayer. James 4:2 You do not have because you do not ask. And never underestimate the importance of corporate prayer. Matt. 18:19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.”
And as we ask, whatever we see, miracle or no, we thank the Lord. Thanking Him reinforces faith. And it brings Him in to our situation. Cuz life is full of challenges to faith. Joy stealers. [James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. 1Thess 5.16-18 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.] But joy and grateful prayer go together. Never underestimate the power of gratitude, nor the miracle of the joy that God gives, even in trials. God, this hurts, this is hard, but I thank You - You are in control, You know what You are doing, and You are going to work this for good [Rom. 8:28 God works all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.]. Lord, I may not know Your purpose here, but I trust You. THIS kind of prayer and heart gratitude brings heaven down to earth, pours it out into and through my life. Couldn't we say that even the promise of God's presence with us in the midst of trials is in fact a miracle? [Psa. 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.] Truth be told, heroic faith isn’t about miracles - it’s about trusting in the God of the impossible even/especially when that feels impossible.. When it’s hard to even see Him. Trusting that He IS able.
Some came to Jesus looking for a miracle. What’s in it for me? Some came looking for signs. The sad testimony of Jesus’ hometown is they saw NO miracles because of their unbelief. They are marked out forever because of what they believed Jesus could NOT do. The LIE says, God can’t do that. God forbid that we should be ones who are marked by what we think the Lord cannot (or will not) do.
And the world is DYING for a glimpse. Those around us, those who are standing away from the Lord, they desperately need a glimpse of what God CAN do. What the world probably doesn’t need to see is how grateful I can be when life IS that bed of roses. Anyone can be happy in seasons of plenty. OF course a miracle might get their attention. But absent that, it’s the hard things, seasons of trials, when life deals us a curveball and God gives endurance and His people keep on trusting Him - these are the times when grateful faith gets to shine. [Matt. 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”]
Can God heal today? Can He do miracles today? Does He? Here at HF, the Alliance, we believe God still does work miracles. We won’t make that the focus, but we believe in asking God to do the supernatural. Again, [James 4:2b You do not have because you do not ask.][James 5:14,16 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.]. Prayer for healing is commanded in the New Testament. And today stories abound of [supernatural] things that God is still doing. We DO aspire to be a Christ-centered Acts 1.8 family. You WILL receive power, Jesus said. But it’s His power. He does the work. And ultimately, the point of talking about Christ our Healer is to point people to Christ. Miracles always point to the God Who works miracles. And He has chosen to build His kingdom and show off His greatness in and thru the hearts and lives of those who trust in Him, for better OR worse. THAT is Heaven on earth. Will we trust Him today? Will you?
At age 19, Yassir Eric, living in Sudan, was a radicalized Muslim. He had memorized much of the Quran and was militant in his hatred of Christians—indeed, of anything that was not in conformity to the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood.
But then Yassir met a missionary at a hospital where Yassir was visiting his sick uncle in Sudan. The missionary had come to pray for a sick child. Yassir asked him why he had bothered to come since the child had little chance of living. Yassir was puzzled. Misled by extremist propaganda, he didn’t think Christians prayed or even believed in God. He watched as the missionary prayed and then to his astonishment, observed the young boy open his eyes and move his hands as life reappeared.
“In that day, the Lord opened my eyes,” Yassir recalled.