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Summary: God’s miracles, God’s power, His awesome designs, His victorious works have often come in small, disregarded, overlooked packages. Don’t discount the miraculous things that God can do through me and you if only we were bold enough to ask, expectant enoug

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Easter 4 B

Miracles Often Do Come in Small Packages

Acts 4:23-33

04/11/03

"Feddersen’s Fables" has the story of a rancher who rented a famous stallion, to sire a champion by one of his thoroughbred mares. The owner of the majestic beast delivered and unloaded the stallion directly into a corral, and the next day, the rancher rode another horse out onto the meadow and attempted to drive his mare to the corral. Playing shy and "hard-to-get," or perhaps truly afraid, she would run in any direction except toward the corral.

So the rancher switched his strategy and attempted to drive the stallion out into the meadow. Not trusting the stranger, the horse would not turn his back to him. Every time the man tried to walk around behind the horse, it would kick out or quickly turn and face him. After about an hour of this, the stallion realized fully that the rancher was trying to drive him toward the open gate, but by this time his distrust of the stranger had grown to such proportions that he was determined that the gate was the last place he would go.

The two of them stood pitiful and helpless in that corral, looking at each other. The horse was afraid to let the stranger out of his sight and the rancher was not willing to approach that wide-eyed mass of muscle head on.

The rancher reasoned that if he left the stallion alone overnight, his hunger for the green grass and running stream or for the mare would soon take him out of the corral. However, the next morning found everything exactly as before. Having no better idea, the rancher tried both procedures from the previous day and had exactly the same frustrating results.

Tired, disappointed and more than a little aggravated, the rancher phoned the stallion’s owner and related the impasse. He told the owner to come and get his valuable property before the horse starved or dehydrated. The owner said, "Well, why don’t you just put a halter on him and lead him where you want him to go?" The rancher was timid, even fearful, as he moved toward that potentially destructive force, but he found that the horse was quite content to stand still as long as he could see what was going on.

After fastening the halter, the man walked through the open gate with the stallion willingly following him. This time he was the one who had to be brave enough to turn his back and take the risk of trusting the animal. Once through the opening, he unfastened the halter and the two mates were soon sharing the joy of their freedom and togetherness as they ran and played across the meadow.

The rancher’s approach is so true to life, an apt description of how we often try to fix our dilemmas. I remember trying to get my son, Caleb, to lie down for a nap. We tried heavy handed tactic we could think of to force that child to sleep, but what finally worked most effectively was dad lying down to take a nap with him. 10 – 20 minutes later he was almost always asleep.

It happens with neighbors too. We would like them to come around to our way of thinking, adopt our opinions, conform to our standards, work with us to accomplish community goals; but instead of taking the time to work with them, it’s often seen as easier to just force them into compliance. Our first and only approach is to try to whip them into shape from a position of authority and power – perhaps with a show of anger, a bit of intimidation or worse yet, going so far as to take legal action to get them to see things in your light.

This is even the case within the church. Without going into a great deal of detail our own church body is embroiled in an embarrassingly public controversy of its own involving a district president, our synodical president and several congregations, individuals and pastors that might well have been avoided if the parties had set aside their personal agendas and sought to work out their differences in a brotherly way.

It’s the way of choice that’s not always called for; though sometimes it is. Remember, Jesus acted in righteous anger to clear the tables of the money changers in the temple. He acted to stop an injustice against Gentile worshippers of the true God and to restore God’s house to its proper function of being a house of prayer.

In a more positive example we see in our text today how God used his mighty strength to reassure His people. He shook the house where the disciples were gathered to give them a physical demonstration of His powerful presence that would go with them and that would be active to overthrow the wicked intentions of those that would oppose Him and His church. And we all know how God authenticated Jesus as His Son through the miraculous deeds Jesus performed throughout His life and on occasion through the lives of His disciples after He had ascended into heaven; not the least of which was His resurrection from the dead. Shock and awe, demonstrations of power, implementation of force has sometimes been needed and used by God for the sake of His church, and He’s not beyond using it today; but more often than not I see Jesus playing the role of the owner of the stallion in our story today.

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