Summary: 5th in the series "Patterns for Prayer." Considers the question of why God performs miracles in order to help us to know how to pray for the miraculous.
Have you ever heard a miracle? Not heard of a miracle, but heard a miracle? This morning you’re going to. We’re going to play for you a portion of a Sunday school class at First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on January 17, 1993.
The teacher of this class in Reverend Duane Miller. Duane had prematurely retired from pastoring three years earlier because of a virus which penetrated the myelin sheath around the nerves in his vocal cords, reducing his speech to a raspy whisper, He’d been to the best doctors in the world and not only had he been told that there was no hope to restore his voice, but that eventually even the hoarse whisper would be lost.
On Friday January 15th Duane had gotten word that he’d lost the side job he’d been doing consisting of legal transcription because the lawyers feared that if he were ever called to testify, his wheezy voice would hurt their case. That same day he received letters from two publishers saying they loved his manuscript but that since he was unknown, they couldn’t promote his book without him going on a speaking tour, unfortunately, both publishers said, they didn’t see how he could have any future as a Christian author.
On that day Duane said that he told the Lord he was ready to go home, there was nothing left for him on earth. It was in that mental state that Duane went to teach his Sunday school class on Psalm 103. Because he was such a popular teacher--over 200 were in the class that morning--they taped each of his lessons for those who had to miss them. Here’s part of the tape from that Sunday.
(Find the audio file at the bottom of the web page: http://www.soulblaze.com/training.htm)
Does God still perform Miracles? Duane Miller and 200 Sunday School students would answer a resounding, YES!
The question I’d like to ask this morning is Why? You say well that’s not the right question, we want to know how--or better yet, how can I get my name on the list of upcoming miracles. The reason I want to ask why does God perform miracles is because I think the the question of "why" logically precedes "how." Our sermon series is titled "Patterns for Prayer." And today’s message is titled "Prayers that raise the dead.’ I’d like to suggest that the pattern for miraculous prayers begins with the question of "why does God perform miracles?" Because when we understand what part miracles play in God’s plan then we can understand what miracles to ask for, then we can understand how miracles might be a part of God’s plan in our lives.
I’d like to further suggest (as you knew I would) that miracles probably serve the same purposes in God’s plan today that they did in the time of the early church. This morning we’re looking at what from a human perspective is perhaps the most miraculous of the Miracles in the book of Acts. In today’s story we see literally, a prayer that raised the dead. As we look at this story I’d like to try to understand why God performed this miracle so that we can understand better how to pray for the miraculous.
The first reason I see for the miraculous is...
To Build our Faith
v. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, "Please come at once!"
In the preceding verses we learn about another miracle that has happened in Lydda in which a paralyzed man had been healed. The church in Joppa heard about that miracle and believed that God could work a miracle for Tabitha too. Miracles build our faith and for reasons I don’t completely understand, God honors faith--often with other miracles. I think that it’s possible that that is part of the reason you’ll often hear about more than one miracle at a particular time and place, miracles stir faith and God responds miraculously to faith.
At the end of the recording we heard a moment ago Duane Miller talks about this question of "why." He says that he believes God does everything for a reason and that he believes the primary reason that God performed a miracle for him was so that it might build the faith of others.
Seeing miracles, hearing miracles, hearing genuine stories of miracles, reinvigorates our faith in a miracle working God. And building faith is a good thing.
The next reason that I think God does miraculous things is...
To Show His Compassion
v. 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.