Believe in Miracles
Pastor Terry Inman
Christmas is a miracle! A miracle is an event that can’t be explained by natural or scientific laws. Airborne reindeer and Santa’s chimney access is not a miracle it’s whimsical holiday fun. I do believe in Ole St. Nickolas!
When you think about it, explaining Mary’s miracle conception is more challenging than getting an overweight Senior citizen down a chimney with a big bag full of toys. Getting back up would really be a miracle!
Miracles are not about facts they are about faith. I can’t present enough facts to convince you of the unprecedented virgin birth of Jesus Christ. We call our way of life the “Christian faith” not the “Christian facts”.
The supernatural birth of God’s son on earth is the first of many miracles in the life of Jesus Christ. To believe in Jesus is to believe in Miracles. The religious scholars of Jesus time questioned his claim to be the Son of God.
He said, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14.11NIV) Today I want to encourage you to Believe in Miracles.
In the classic Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle Macy’s delusional Santa, believes he is the real deal. He is hauled into court on insanity charges. Ton’s of US mail from children is presented as evidence that he is real. The US post office thinks he’s real so he must be.
Doris, the New York Macy’s supervisor who hired Kris Kringle is very disturbed by his beliefs. She taught her daughter Susan that faith in anything beyond what can be seen and scientifically proven is silly.
However, Susan her second grader, is captivated by Kris Kringle. Doris is bitter over her failed marriage. She doesn’t want to give up her cynical outlook on life. She’s worried that her daughter will expect miracles that may never happen.
Doris’ next-door neighbor, Fred is a lawyer. He argues the case with her even before he takes it to court. He is contends for faith in what he calls the “lovely intangibles” of life.
Miracles are “intangibles” they are immaterial, indescribable and unquantifiable. We can’t prove Christmas--it’s a miracle! Luke, a physician and follower of Jesus, writes a detailed account of His miracle birth.
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus”.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)
The birth of Jesus Christ over two thousand years ago is the greatest miracle in human history. Mary, in her early her teens, was promised to a village woodworker named Joseph in something akin to an engagement.
You can understand the shock and confusion of this strange visitation. Her thoughts raced with questions, “How can I be pregnant when I haven’t slept with Joseph? He must mean after we are married?”
Her question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” was not an expression of doubt just the need for some explanation. Gabriel’s answer is one of the most reassuring passages in scripture. “Nothing is impossible with God.” Miracles are God’s possibilities!
It’s not the first time God defined a miracle birth in these terms. Moses and Sarah were in their twilight years when an angel promised them a son. As Sarah chuckled in unbelief her heavenly visitor said, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Gen 18:14 NIV)
A miracle is something too hard for us but not to hard for God. He makes impossibilities possibilities.
Dr. Harvey had previously delivered hundreds of babies in Western Nebraska when Mary gave birth to our second Son Timothy. “You know Pastor, he said, “this is a miracle”. Every time a baby leaves a mother’s womb and takes a breath in this world it’s a miracle.”
We did not know at the time what a miracle Tim was. Dr. Harvey called me later that evening to tell me that Tim may not live through the night. He was over a month premature and his lungs had failed to fully develop.
Every breath he explained was like the first one. If the respiratory membranes did not open up he would just wear out. They were sustaining him with oxygen but too much of it would give him brain damage.
We prayed him through several critical stages including resuscitation. A week later he was breathing on his own and today he is the father of five and serving as our Executive Pastor. “Nothing is impossible with God."
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “miracle” as an “extraordinary and astonishing happening that is attributed to the presence and action of an ultimate or divine power.”
The bible refers to miracles as “signs and wonders”. They are supernatural interventions that point to something of greater spiritual significance. Judah’s King Ahaz fearing an enemy invasion was told to ask for a “sign” of the Lord’s intervening presence.
The prophet Isaiah promised God’s presence and much more. His prophecy foreshadowed the birth of Jesus some seven hundred years ahead of time, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Isa 7:14 (NIV) Immanuel means “God is with us”. Impossibilities become possibilities when God is with us!
The birth of Jesus isn’t the only miracle in the Christmas story. An angel visited a priest, who was past his prime but praying for a son during his ceremonial duties. Zechariah was literally left speechless until he named his miracle newborn “John”. He became the forerunner to Jesus Christ!
An ugly breakup was averted when Joseph believed an angelic dream and married the mother of Jesus. He also saved Jesus life by moving to Egypt.
The night Jesus was born, the hillside was lit-up for some sheepherders pulling the graveyard shift. Angels told them to look for a “sign” a baby wrapped up in a feeding trough. What’s the meaning of this miracle? This baby boy was heaven on earth! Miracles are heaven breaking in on earth.
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Luke 2:12-14 (NIV)
Jesus came as a newborn to offer us peace (reconciliation) and favor (acceptance) with God. God’s intrusion into earthly realms was a rather delicate and dependent miracle. Big things come in small packages.
Eastern sages were guided by a cosmic marvel to pay homage to this emerging ruler. They brought gifts fit for a king! The whole Christmas Story is full of wonder but exactly how does the supernatural world interface with the natural world to produce the miraculous? Mary’s miracle gives us some clues.
Miracles come in unexpected packages to unassuming people.
Mary was told not to fear because she had found favor with God. “Favor” (charis) means she was gifted or graced by God. She didn’t earn God’s attention or deserve his intervention. She had no status. We don’t even know who her parents were. She was no saint. She was given grace!
That’s why she broke into a prophetic song when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. The Message translation sounds a little closer to an excited teenager. “I'm bursting with God-news; I'm dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened-- I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him.” (Luke 1:46-50 Message)
You don’t have to be holy to receive a miracle just humble. In fact the angels promised the same “favor” to all of us the night Jesus was born.
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to mankind on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:12-14 NIV)God’s gift of grace is our miracle!
We don’t have to earn his miracles. He is at peace with us. He takes pleasure in us. Heaven’s gifts are expressed in down-to-earth people.
Second miracles are the result of an enthusiastic partnership between the natural and the supernatural.
Mary wasn’t asking for this favor. When the angel explained how it happened she believed and joyfully consented. Her part was simply to believe and accept her assignment. Basically she said, “I am your maid, willing do what ever you say” (Luke 1:38 NIV)
People surrendered to God experience miracles. God’s side of this miracle is called the, “over-shadowing” of the Holy Spirit. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
When humble people submit their lives to God’s purposes, His glory casts a supernatural shadow that changes their natural world.
Miracles are the direct effect of a fully realized revelation.
Now what does that mean? The most promising message in Mary’s encounter is the angel’s declaration. “Noting is impossible with God”
This word translated “Nothing” is actually a compound of three Greek words. (not-any-word)
So the angel’s statement is more like this, “Nothing God says is impossible.” What he says, he can do! So Mary responds, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38 NIV) A word from God is revelation. A revelation, received and believed is fully realized!
We can’t tell God what miracles to do. We can ask for his mercy and his intervention. But miracles happen when he says something, we hear it and we believe it and He does it!
So to wrap it up miracles happen when least expected, to ordinary people, who willingly submit to him, are willing to serve him, and listen for His word. Revelation then becomes reality and our lives are forever changed.
The greatest miracle of all is a God changed life. It happens when we acknowledge our need for God. We believe, we put our trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of our sins and we receive His gift of eternal life!
God has many “lovely intangibles” in store for us when we fully trust him. I want to give us the opportunity to express that right now.
The gospel of John is full of miracles, called signs, “These (signs) are written that you may believethat Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20.31 NIV