Good morning Hope City! Have you ever wished for a miracle? Have you ever wished that something would drastically change in your world? Have you ever wished for that moment when something would change?
I have. When I was in 7th grade I wished that I would make the soccer team. I desperately wanted to play on our school’s soccer team. Let me tell you a little bit about my 7th grade self. In fact, I’ve got two words for you—REC SPECS. Does that help out a bit? You know those goofy looking glasses that you wore while playing sports? They were so uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as I was in my own skin. I was an awkward 7th grader. I was scrappy, and small. I was fast, but not fast enough. It was a longshot for me to make the team.
I knew that it would be a miracle for me to play on that team. Last week we kicked off our series Miracles by defining a miracle as when God in heaven intervenes here on earth.
We determined that nothing is impossible for God. It’s possible. It’s uncommon, but with God anything is POSSIBLE! And let me remind you that God does uncommon things for common people so that knowing God would be a common thing.
Over the course of these next 4 weeks we will be looking at four different types of Miracles that Jesus did and learn what God can do in our world today.
When we think of Miracles, many of us think immediately of the sick. We think of the cancer patient who is told they are healed. We think of the person who had chronic pain and is now free from that pain. That is because God will often demonstrate His power through Miracles of Healing.
But God is not only concerned with our comfort. He is also concerned with our Protection. Which is why we see Miracles of Protection. It’s that near miss, the stories of how you should have been in harm’s way and yet you weren’t.
Another favorite miracle of ours is when God goes above and beyond and provides for us in ways that are unexplainable. God will act through Miracles of Provision. And we are going to talk about these as well.
There is a fourth type of miracle, it’s often one of the least talked about Miracles, and maybe you’re a bit skeptical on this one, and that is when God shows up in power through Miracles of Deliverance.
Miracles of Deliverance are probably the least talked about, creepiest miracles, and as I said, you may not even be sure that they’re real. These are the miracles that bring to mind Hollywood movies of fear and demons…. They are gripping and gruesome.
In the Hollywood blockbuster, The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey plays a character that is interrogated throughout the entire movie. And he says a line that has stuck with me for a long time. He says, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Poof! The devil can disappear if he doesn’t exist! It’s like an operative gone dark. Now, this is not from the Bible, but it is a great summary of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15:
“…Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
Let me tell you, that if you take Jesus seriously, than you have to take Satan and his demons seriously. Which is why Paul writes to the Ephesian church and says, in chapter 6:12,
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in his dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
In other words, there is something going on in the supernatural world that shows up in a natural way.
Following Jesus is the greatest decision you can make with your life, not necessarily the easiest. But Paul is quick to remind us that when we decide to follow Jesus that means that we are siding with heaven, we are on God’s side and it puts us in direct opposition to the opponent of heaven. Which makes us what? The enemy of Satan.
This is what happened when I married my wife. I grew up in Eagles territory, and was a huge fan of Donovan McNabb of yester-year… the McNabb that could roll out of the pocket and get the first down, no matter what. We had a few dark years with Vick… but then I married Tiffany and she grew up squarely in Giants territory. Well, the time came when the Eagles were playing the Giants and there was a tension in the room that could be felt. Simply because I was an Eagles fan. Opposition stands in your face, roots against you, whispers lies over and over, and will occasionally double dip in your buffalo chicken dip.
Seriously though. When you follow Christ you are standing in opposition to Satan and his team of demons. And that opposition will get in your face and root against you, the opposition will try to trip you up and whisper lies consistently.
So what is a Demon? Like is it the spirit of the dead? You know you had that mean old uncle Chester… The guy died and you’re pretty sure he’s out there haunting people. Chester may have been mean, but he’s not a demon. The Bible says that Satan, or Lucifer, or the Devil, (his many names) was an angel… a beautiful angel that wanted to be like God. He wanted to be his own God, he wanted to be higher than God. And Isaiah 14 says that God cast him out of heaven and forever separated him from Heaven. Revelation 12 talks about Satan and His demons who have been cast out of Heaven with him. There was a rebellion in heaven, and scholars think that 1/3 of the angels rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven as well.
To be incredibly clear. There is one Devil, but many demons. What angels are to God, demons are to the devil. There are a few things we get wrong about demons…. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid to talk about them, or maybe it’s because we’re afraid we won’t stop talking about them if we do. There are two big mistakes that we make.
We OVER emphasize demonic influence. Have you ever been around someone who seems to think that there is a demon under every rock. Like, they’re straight up broke because the devil made them do it. Well the Devil may wear Prada but it doesn’t mean you needed to buy the whole store. Not every problem is caused by demons. Like Satan didn’t make you eat the whole Pizza…. I’m pretty sure you did that on your own. Sometimes we will make bad decisions on our own, because guess what, you’re not perfect. You’re bound to make a mistake.
We UNDER emphasize demonic influence. Sometimes we don’t give enough credit to Satan and his demons. This isn’t every problem…. But as we’ll see today, Satan and His demons have a plan, and a play book that they are going to run with. And more problems than you care to admit are caused by forces of darkness.
Turn with me this morning to Matthew 17:14-20, that’s page 670 in the Bibles around you.
14A man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15“Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation, ”Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.”18Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
Here is a parent who is fed up and frustrated, they’re in pain watching their son endure so much tragedy. You can feel the compassion this man has for his son. LORD HAVE MERCY ON MY SON! God would you do something for my son that only you can do? My son is in pain. He is unable to live an ordinary life. Have you ever felt that way about someone you loved? You hurt so badly for them that you are looking for a way out. Well this parent found Jesus.
And we see Jesus do something uncommon here. Jesus rebuked the demon, he called the demon out and the boy was healed instantly.
The goal of Satan’s Demon is to prevent you from worshipping God and focusing on God. They will use three primary ways of doing this.
If you’re taking notes today, the first way is that Demons Inflict Suffering. Look what happened to this mans son. He was suffering greatly. He was having seizures, and was not in control of his body. He was falling into fire and water. Satan’s mission is to steal, kill and destroy what God has established.
Q: How do we see this today? Depression, Suicidal thoughts, Anxiety, and general desperation are on the rise in our society. According to a recent study, Americans are struggling with Anxiety more now than ever before. And this is Satan’s goal. Not every negative thought is a demon lurking behind you… Our body is both chemical, emotional, and spiritual. We can be chemically imbalanced, and experience tremendous depression. But we also can be inflicted with suffering from the working of Satan’s demons.
Let me ask you…. What better way to affect generations of people than to destroy marriages, wreck finances, obliterate health, and crush your children. Satan’s reach is amplified through suffering inflicted by his demons. Satan can distract people from Christ, ruin your Christian Influence, and cause people to be disgruntled with the church because of the decisions that someone makes while in the midst of suffering.
There is a second thing that demons will do to get you to stop focusing on Jesus. If suffering isn’t enough, Demons will tempt you to sin. Look at what happened in this story… The dad came to Jesus after having gone to the disciples. He asked them to try and solve the problem. And they couldn’t. So, the dad comes to Jesus and says, can you help me? And as you can see Jesus is frustrated. He says, You unbelieving and perverse generation. Here’s why– Jesus was right there, in the flesh, standing in front of this dad. And yet, this dad had gone to someone else. He turned to another source, another method, another way… and then was disappointed when it didn’t work out.
Have you found yourself in a situation where you’re tempted to create your own method, or set your own rules, or not really pay attention to what Jesus says, or the way that the Holy Spirit is guiding you? Sin is a lie. It is a temptation to believe that something is going to be better, going to be greater than the original. It’s the air mattress that consistently deflates. You look at sin and you think that looks comfy, cozy, and maybe even good for me to lie down and rest on. But you’ve been tricked! Sin will leave you longing for more, and left unfulfilled every time. It doesn’t matter if it is sexual sin, financial sin, pride, arrogance, whatever it may be. Sin doesn’t Win. And yet demons will tempt you to sin.
Look at this! You deserve it. You deserve to watch that. Jump on Instagram Story and explore a bit. Find whatever your eyes want to look at. Watch it. Go ahead, there is nothing that is off limits to you. Touch it. We watched our society unravel in the news this past year as men in power thought they could touch whomever they wanted however they wanted. Smoke it. Drink it. Shoot it. Pop it. Whatever you want. The only thing that matters is your comfort. That’s what Sin whispers over and over again.
Paul writes his protégé Timothy in his second letter to Timothy in Chapter 2 and says, a Godly man will
“and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:26
Demons are trying to trap you with sin! And if it doesn’t work in one area of your life, watch out, they will move to another area. When you find yourself tempted by sin, turn to Jesus nothing else. Because if we search after anything else other than God and His word we will be led down the wrong path. Which Satan is happy with that outcome too!
Another thing that Demons Do, and that we see here in this story is that Demons distract you from God’s will. They will actually try to prevent you from doing what you set out to do for the Lord. Look back at the story.
19Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
20He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Demons will do everything in their power to distract you from God’s will. They will cause you to doubt and be discouraged. They will work hard to have you wonder about where God is, and why the world is in the shape it is. And in your wondering, watch out, because demons would love to see you start wandering. Wandering away from Christ, wandering away from God and what He has put you here on earth for. If you’ve got a pulse, you’ve still got a purpose. And maybe some of you have felt yourself wander away from that purpose for a while.
Be Real… Be Honest… Be Selectively Vulnerable
This is where I was 3-4 weeks ago. Discouraged, and Doubting…
Anytime you are taking new ground for Christ, or taking back ground from Satan… the pressure to forget God’s will or be distracted from it will come on strong.
First Launched the church- fearful we wouldn’t have food on our table.
Opened Hope City Headquarters- Lowest financial month ever…
Hosted: countless meetings, connect groups, prayer nights, summer session where we walked through the N.T.
Hired A Full Time Youth Pastor- Discouragement and Doubt marched in, didn’t sneak in. I was sitting with a mentor of mine for lunch this week and he said “Isn’t that just like Satan.”
Satan is happy to use the natural things that are happening in your life to undermine anything supernatural that God will do through you.
This is what happens with the opposition. They work over time to get you to be discouraged, and ultimately defeated. Its’ the mark of any true rivalry, right?
Think back to the moment I was sitting in my in-laws living room watching the Eagles Giants game. We were trash talking each other… working hard to bring the other team down. Even though it has no impact on the outcome of the game. We knew that we could impact the oppositions mindset. You do that when you’re uncertain of the outcome. You sling the mud you talk about the other quarterback… and how bad they are…. Etc.
But when you know the outcome, you can sit confidently and take whatever trash talk is coming your way. It sort of rolls off your back. You’re not phased by it any longer. Call my quarterback whatever you want. Diss my head coach… that’s fine. You’ll see.
If you are a Christ follower, if you are a Christian, than you can have this same confidence. Because we know the end of the story. Right now we may be facing all kinds of problems, pains, and temptations… But there is good news. You have miraculous authority over Darkness in the name of Jesus. Jesus has given this to us as followers of his. We aren’t fighting with our power, but we are fighting with Christ’s power. In Matthew 10, Jesus sent out His disciples and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. They had the Authority given to them by Jesus!
A police officer doesn’t have the power to make a car stop. She doesn’t have the strength to stop a moving car… but see what happens when those lights flick on, and the siren blares… You better believe she has the authority to stop that car. It carry’s the full weight of the law.
God is a miraculous God who gives you authority over darkness. But do you know what darkness is? Darkness is not the opposite of light…. That’s what many people think. No. Darkness is the ABSENCE of light. And listen to what Jesus says about himself. He says in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world.” And He has called you to be the light of the world! Jesus has said that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. That you are to let your light shine before all men so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matt. 5:16). IN other words, LIGHT IS MEANT TO BREAK INTO THE DARKNESS.
So maybe you’re facing an incredibly dark situation right now… Maybe there is a Spiritual Darkness in your life right now. Let light in. In the name of Jesus you can let the light of Christ walk in.
• Maybe you are Battling anxiety. You should call a doctor and pray the name of Jesus for healing.
• Maybe you are suffering emotionally. Seek counseling and pray for deliverance.
• Maybe you have a rebellious child. Take away their phone, monitor their friends, and pray for spiritual protection over those kids.
• Maybe you have a loved one who is battling alcohol. Get them plugged in to AA and ask God for a spiritual victory in their life.
When Jesus died on the cross. He died for our brokenness. He died so that we would move from darkness to light. He rose from the dead to defeat darkness. And yet it still feels like we are trapped in dark and chaotic times.
This is like what happened in WWII. On June 6th, 1944 the Allied Army mounted their single largest attack that delivered a death blow to the evil Nazi army. They stormed the beaches at Normandy and through the lives that were sacrificed by many, the tide had turned in the war. It was on this day that the war was decided. It was over. Hitler had lost the war. And yet, between D DAY on June 6th, 1944 and V-Day, victory day nearly 1 year later, there were significant struggles…. Battles that were fought. Loss of life was great in this time period, even though, the war was already won.
As Christians, we sit between D-Day, the day that Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death, sin, and every force of Satan. And the final day when Jesus comes back again. V-Day. The war has been won, and yet we are still in a fight.
Don’t give up. In fact, hold your head up. Darkness has not won.
Your marriage is not over.
Your secret addiction doesn’t have the last word.
Lust doesn’t have to hold you hostage.
Miracles are meant for us to grow in our amazement with who God is, rather than our own personal comfort. Miracles will build your faith and build faith in the lives of others. We should believe God for Miracles, we should believe that God is a miracle working God.
Life may feel dark. But remember, Darkness is merely the absence of light. This morning will you let God’s Miraculous light in?
This morning we are going to celebrate communion together. We are going to celebrate the day that Christ defeated Death… and while we take communion together today, let this remind you that your eternal victory is coming. V day is coming. There is a promise… there is a hope. There is a glimmer… there is more to this life than what you have experienced in your past. Jesus is setting all things right. He is redeeming the brokenness in our world and bringing light to the darkest place. But it is because of his death, his burial and his resurrection from the grave!