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Sermon Series

 

July 7, 2013 AD Sermon, by Pastor Ben Willis

Our Scripture Reading this morning comes from the gospel According to John 5:16-30. As we begin this reading the Lord Jesus has just finished healing a man who’d been sick for 38 years: So sick that he couldn’t walk. It was a wonderful healing and miracle! Except that the Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, and the Jewish leaders hated Him for it…

John 5:16-30 [NLTse]

16 So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. 17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” 18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill Him. For He not only broke the Sabbath, He called God His Father, thereby making Himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself. He does only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing. In fact, the Father will show Him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. 21 For just as the Father gives life to those He raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone He wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, He has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father Who sent Him.

24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to My message and believe in God Who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear My voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 The Father has life in Himself, and He has granted that same life-giving power to His Son. 27 And He has given Him authority to judge everyone because He is the Son of Man. 28 Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, 29 and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. 30 I can do nothing on My Own. I judge as God tells Me. Therefore, My judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the One Who sent Me, not My Own will.

Sermon – “Who’s Your Daddy?”

R.C. Sproul tells of a German scholar who was doing research in New Testament literature and discovered that in the entire history of Judaism—across the existing books of the Old Testament and all existing books of extra-biblical Jewish writings, dating from the beginning of Judaism until the tenth century A.D.—that there is not a single reference to a Jewish person addressing God directly in the first person as Father. The first Jewish rabbi to call God “Father” directly was Jesus of Nazareth. In every recorded prayer we have from the lips of Jesus save one, He calls God “Father.”

And that seems to me to be such a key. Because I think of other names of God: Fortress, Master, Refuge, Lord of Heaven’s Armies, King of glory, Most High, Holy One, Righteous Judge, Consuming Fire, … all describing God’s abilities and character and His relationship to others beings and powers in the universe. But what brings all that He is home to me, what connects all of that omniscience and omnipotence and omnipresence and majesty to me, is that Jesus tells me He’s my Father. He’s not just a great and powerful being; He’s not just the God above all gods and the Lord over all other lords; He’s my Father! He’s our Father! And it seems to me that that was such a key.

Because you have to look to others to know how to interact with a deity: How to worship; how to pray; what kinds of offerings and sacrifices to make. But every kid knows how to interact with their father. As you get older and relationships get more complicated we need help living out all our relationships, but nobody has to teach a child how to be in relationship with his or her daddy: You just are!

And so Jesus did the works it was foretold that Messiah would do, and the Holy Spirit empowered His teaching, and so He got the people’s attention. So that when He revealed God to them as a “Father” people either hated Him (like the Jewish officials: It was ludicrous, blasphemy!) or it provided the missing piece that made everything else make sense, the bridge to personally connect them to all of God’s fairly impersonal attributes and other titles.

In our reading the Lord Jesus tells us that one of the things our Father does to show us His love for us is showing us what He does, what He’s done, what He’s going to do, so that we can do it too. This underlines to me our need to spend time reading the Bible. When we read the Scriptures we see God at work across history. And as we read about His character and His desires for human lifestyles and relationships we can become more aware of His hand at work around us even right here and now. And, of course, the Scriptures are filled with promises about what He’s committed to do in the future, and as we read we prepare ourselves to see Him at work in days to come.

So as we commit ourselves to read the Bible we literally see Him at work. And because the Lord Jesus has told us, “Since you’ve seen Me then you’ve seen the Father,” as we read the gospels and Acts and see Jesus at work, we are seeing the Father in Him at work, as well.

Even so, I think we get a little selfish when we read the Word and see what God is doing there. We see Jesus teach and we too often think: Oh, He wants to teach me. We see Him heal and we think: Oh, He wants to heal me. We see Him drive away fear and set people free and show mercy and kindness and we too often think: Oh, hooray, Jesus wants to do all those things for me! And perhaps He does. (As a matter of fact, I know He does.) But the point I’m making here is that Jesus tells us that when we see God at work in the Scriptures it’s not just there to tell us what He wants to do for us, it’s there to tell us what He wants us to be doing! He’s trying to get us on the move: Instead of always looking at what the Lord’s going to be doing for me I ought to instead be looking for what God wants me to do for Him and others. (I think about a fellow in our congregation who recently shared with me how his life turned upside down once he stopped asking God to do things for him and began offering himself to God for God’s work in the lives of others around him. Upside down!)

We need to be in God’s Word to see our Father working. After all, how do we know to pray for someone, visit someone, get involved in this work or that ministry, or trust our Father for this or that miracle if we’re not in His Word to see Him having done and doing these things?

Anybody see the very first Spiderman movie with Tobey Maguire? Towards the end of the movie Peter Parker (who is Spiderman’s alter ego) is at the Daily Bugle newspaper selling some pictures he took of himself as Spiderman. The woman at the desk is paying him for the pictures, and he says, “I’m a photographer”. She gives him his payment, saying, “Yes you are.” I bring up that part of the flick because Peter Parker wasn’t a photographer because he had a camera. He was a photographer, and he knew he was a photographer!, when he was doing it, living it, taking pictures. In the same way, Jesus tells us that when we know the Almighty is our Father, and when we’re out there doing what we’ve seen Him doing, we’ll know that we’ve passed from death to life!

But I know too many times Christians say “no” to God when the Holy Spirit prompts us to do what we’ve seen Him doing. And as long as we keep saying “no” to God we’re not going to know if we’re truly His. Doubts will overwhelm us. We may want to be with the Lord, we may want to be for the Lord, we may think He’s our dad, but as long as we keep saying “no” to Him we’ll never gain that assurance He wants us to have that we are His and that He is ours, our Father; and that we have passed from death to everlasting life!

J.I. Packer in his book Knowing God wrote, “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all” (Intervarsity Press, p. 182).

To know God as our Father is to know life as He intended it to be.



June 23, 2013 AD, by Jeff Pearson

Our Identity – In Christ

I want to open with a fun story from my time here in Milford working with the students of DV.  Early on when we were tying to get Young Life going here I didn’t know much of what that meant.  What I did know was that I was supposed to at the high school and involved in the lives of the students there.  So I was coaching soccer which was a fun fit for me and I remember being at a home football game to earn the right to be heard by going where the students are.  So I boldly put on my coaches warm up, and walked boldly into the stands to sit where the students sit, not to simply hang around the fence like the rest if the adults.  So I find a student I know from the team and sit down next to him.  I don’t realize how this is perceived from his vantage point, here he is wanting to have some fun with his friends and one of his coaches sits down next to him.  But in my mind I am the cool young coach who he definitely wants to hang out with After some awkward chit chat and some silence between us as he talks with his other friends…He turns to me and asks this question, “Don’t you have any friends your own age?”  That hurt.  And this was when I had just moved here all by myself.  I thought about his questions and answered painfully and honestly, ‘ No I don’t.”  This is fun to look back on now that I have friends but the point is that in that moment and many others I have to ask myself who am I, where does my identity lie, because in that moment I was exposed and If I didn’t know who I was or whose I was then I could have cried myself to sleep that night, and that was minor.  Going back into the high school I am out there and can be knocked down quick.

God wants for us to be rooted in Him, to find our identity in Him, not just in the easy or the hard or the common place or the extraordinary, but at all times and in all circumstances.

Do you ever feel like you aren’t anchored to anything, that the slightest wave of life tosses you up and down? Or as if you don’t know who you are at times, as the world asks us to be many different things at many different times?  God is calling all of us to Him, to find our rest in Him, to live each moment for Him.  This morning we are going to look at having our identity in Jesus and why it is vital.

Sometimes we get caught up in placing our identity where we shouldn’t in things that God does not want for us.  We let circumstances and all else dictate who we are rather than having our identity constantly in Jesus to dictate who we are in all situations, and not the other way around.   God longs for us to come to him and place our whole self in His car.

This morning we are going to look at our identity in the Lord.

First and foremast we need to know who Jesus is so that we can know why it is vital to put our trust and all we are into him and a relationship with Him. We come up short many times because we get caught up in placing our identity in so many things that come up short, that lie to us, that can’t deliver.  Clothes go out of style, money gets lost, friends and family let us down, jobs can be lost, everything in our lives can change, and nothing is constant, except Jesus.  Jesus is the only constant and that is what we need for our identity a constant, and anchor.

This morning we are going to be looking at Joseph as an example in looking at identity in the Lord.  We will be reading from Genesis chapter 37 and bouncing forward a bit.  Here is a little background on Joseph.

-He was the youngest son of Jacob also called Israel.

-This angered his brothers so much so that they could not speak a kind word to him. (he needed to know where his identity was from an early age.

-He has some intense dreams which pointed towards his brother and even his mother and father bowing down to him.  (not to pleasant at the diner table for Joseph)

-Jacob sends Joseph to check on his brother who were tending their flocks.

-We will pick it up at chapter 37: verse 18

We will start in Genesis 37

The First point this morning is that we need to have our identity in the Lord because trials will come.

1)  Anyone ever had a bad day?

-The Lord does not promise easy sailing.  I have had quite a few bad days, terrible moments, but this one is up there for Joseph.  Here he is trying to just do what his dad has asked him and he ends up in a pit.

So this is Ruben being a big brother, saving Joseph from death and yet not fully going to bat for him, instead offering up the idea that they will sell him as a slave.

The Lord promises us that He will be with us, that he will work our sufferings and challenges into good.  That is so easy to adhere to when it is smooth sailing, but so hard to own when the fight is raging, when the finances don’t add up, when we are in a cistern with our family not only in ear shot, but the ones that put us there.  We must remember who is in charge when the lights go out and we find ourselves in a dark pit.

Remember back in 2010 the miners who were stuck in a cave collapse underground in Chile? They were there for 69 days thousands of feet below ground.  These guys were in need.  I had followed the story and I read that one miner said that they could hear the rescue drills searching for them, but the drills kept missing the open area where they were.  Can you imagine?  I do not like being in very confined spaces.  I once was in the trunk of a car and although I got in willingly and it was only for a short time I started to freak out and was yelling to my friends to open the seat from the car.

These guys were in real need.  This was a pretty hopeless situation, there was no light to see at then end of the tunnel.  This was nearly impossible to imagine a way out.

These are the moments that we need to choose hope.  That God wants us to choose Him when it doesn’t make sense, when we might not have an answer for why it is we are going through what we are going through.  Maybe some of us are in a pit today, put there wrongly by others, or even by ourselves or maybe we believe we deserve it.  The point is that no matter what the Lord wants you to choose hope and loves us in the pit, even thought it may not feel like it, the Lord is in the ditch with us when we are, and when it seems only a miracle can change things.

Jesus longs for us to take refuge in Him.  The psalms talk about it because God knew there would be storms.  You don’t seek refuge when things are easy or going well.

Genesis 39:1-6

We need to have our identity in Christ, in the Lord when things are going well, we need to know who we belong to and who is the Giver of anything good.

-Joseph was a hard working and trustworthy man because he kept his eyes on the Lord, it says it all came from the Lord.  I would not do well in Joseph’s situation.  First of all, it seems as thought he kept his eyes on Jesus and didn’t let his situation break him.  No one would have judged him for struggling to find hope let alone work hard at what he was thrown into.

I would also struggle with having success at everything I put my hand to, the Lord humbles me by keeping this from being true.  But Joseph knew it all came from the Lord, the Lord got the credit.

Success is hard; it is hard to remain humble and to not steal the light from the Lord.

Joseph’s identity was not in the success, it was not in the stuff, the status or anything else.

The world would have us believe the opposite, that when things are going well that it is because of how great we are or how hard we work, don’t get me wrong the Lord has gifted us all in different ways and we should work hard, that just shouldn’t be the end all.  Often times we think, well if I just had a little bit more, or a lot more or some success in this area then I would be happy or feel complete because that would be my identity.

A couple of years ago Tom Brady was interviewed on 60 minutes by Steve Kroft.  Tom Brady is the quarterback of the New England Patriots.  Here are some facts about him:

-2x MVP

-8X pro Bowler

-3x super bowl champ

-2x super bowl mvp

-Married to a super model and get millions in football and endorsements.  The world would say he has it all.

BRADY: Well, I put incredible amounts of pressure on me. When you feel like you’re ultimately responsible for everyone and everything, even though you have no control over it, and you still blame yourself if things don’t go right — I mean, there’s a lot of pressure. A lot of times I think I get very frustrated and introverted, and there’s times where I’m not the person that I want to be.

Why do I have three Super Bowl rings, and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, “Hey man, this is what is.” I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think: God, it’s gotta be more than this. I mean this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be. I mean I’ve done it. I’m 27. And what else is there for me?

KROFT: What’s the answer?

BRADY: I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I mean I think that’s part of me trying to go out and experience other things. I love playing football, and I love being a quarterback for this team, but, at the same time, I think there’s a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find. I know what ultimately makes me happy are family and friends, and positive relationships with great people. I think I get more out of that than anything.

There is much more to life and to who we are, who we are in Christ than the success measurements of the world, that stuff, success and impressing others.

Identity in anything outside of the Lord leaves us empty and longing.

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Genesis 39:6-23

When we are wrongfully accused, we need to have our identity in Jesus when what others have the wrong idea and rest in the Lord to take care of us.  We need to know what is True, what the Lord says about us and act with integrity – Jesus and many others are watching.

I was traveling home from college my freshman year for Thanksgiving break.  I was driving my 1989 ford escort.  In college I had a bug wooden bead necklace, and bi afro and large sideburns.  I looked like a hippie.  I was driving along on 84 and all of a sudden a state trooper followed behind me really closely and then another one rode in the lane next to me for a while.  I remember making sure I was going the exact speed limit, having my hand in the correct places on the steering wheel and I even turned the radio off.  The state trooper that was in the lane next to me sped on and out of sight.  Then a couple of moments later I saw him up ahead waiting on the side of the road.  The trooper behind me pulled me over.  I remember feeling like I was in a movie as I asked the standard question when they came to my door, “Is there a problem officer?”  They told me it was illegal to have anything hanging from the rear view mirror in the state of PA.  I said I didn’t know sir, and immediately took it down.  They then started asking me if I had any drugs or alcohol in the car, I did not.  They made some funny remarks about my necklace and some of the sticker on my car.  They were fishing for me, they profiled me because I looked like someone who would have drugs on me or in my car.  They were wrong and after searching through my stuff for a while they let me go.  The funny part is that when I would pack to go home in college I would just take the cleanest pile of clothes from the floor of my dorm room and throw it in the back seat of my car.  They had the wrong idea of me.  I was wrongfully accused.  This pails in comparison as to what Joseph was accused of and what he was facing.

Have you ever been wrongly accused, or accused someone wrongly?

Now this pails in comparison to Joseph.  I had nothing to hide.  Joseph was a man who lived his life with integrity, he has nothing to hide.  He ran from the situation.  Maybe there are situations we need to run from in order to live with integrity, not simply well I will slowly walk away or work at taking a couple of steps each day, not we need to run from stuff that we know will wreck our identity being in Christ because we will place things there that aren’t meant to be there.

The rest of the Joseph story Joseph goes on to gain favor back with the Pharaoh and gets put in charge of Egypt.  He then plans really well through being prompted by the Lord to store up food for the people because of a famine that is coming.  The famine brings Joseph’s brother looking for food and Joseph is able to help that hands that hurt him.  Talk about forgiveness – but that is a whole other sermon, one that Jesus exemplifies really well.

Joseph says in Gen 45:4-7.

It is scary having our identity in someone else, it means we have to let go of control.  But if we draw close and know more fully who it is that we are giving control to, the only true Constant, it is freeing instead of scary and we don’t have to ultimately prove ourselves or care and worry about what others think and say.

Don’t let the word tell you your identity, go to Jesus for it, for all of it.

My Boss Rick one time challenged us at a staff time with Peter’s denial of Jesus.  It has really stuck with me.  Peter a bold disciple of Jesus gets de-railed by the questions of a couple of 15 year old girls.  No this is nothing against 15 year old girls, but Peter should be more secure in his identity than as to let 15 year old girls derail him to the point off lying.  And they weren’t even wrongfully accusing him, they were telling the truth when they said, weren’t you on of Jesus’ disciples.  Rick asks us, what is that 15 year old girl in your life?  What is it that we let derail us or take our identity of Jesus, stop giving in to it.

Peter lets his identity shift towards and be overrun with fear.  And yet Jesus re-instates him as the Rock of the church.

Don’t let the world dictate your identity boldly go in what is true, that Jesus is our identity and nothing else matters.

Sometimes we don’t get to see right away or at all how God is working things together for good.  Joseph probably didn’t see it all coming when he was sitting in that cistern or when he was locked up in jail.  But God used him in powerful ways through his life and circled back with his family in it all.  I believe that Joseph was so blessed by God and was used by Him in so many way because he lived his life with his Identity being rooted in the Lord.

This idea of identity for me has been a struggle going back as far as I can remember.  I still struggle with it today.  It isn’t all bad we try and put good things in our identity spot, working hard, being a good person etc.  But no matter what non of it works, because only Jesus fits.  You are not what you do.  You are who you are because of your heritage, you are heirs of Jesus.

If I were to come up to you on the street and say, who are you?  Or identify yourself, you would probably give your name, your name carries with it a heritage, a family, many different things about you are in your name.  Mark Driscoll says that our identity is how we see ourselves.  We need to see ourselves as Jesus does.  We need to realize that before we are a Pearson or a Smith or an O’Neil, that we are God’s.  We are first and foremost of the line of the Lord, as His sons and daughters.  This point would work better of God has a last name.  We are His kids, that is our identity.

We can all have our identity in The Lord by having a relationship with Jesus.

Closing Prayer

Lord, you are all that truly matters.  Lord I pray that we would find our identity in you Lord, in a relationship with You.  Lord I am in desperate need of you and of you telling me who I am in a world that is shouting in opposition of that.  Please give us the strength to cling to you and walk boldly through life with the claim of knowing who we truly are in you.

Our identity should be based of off who we are in Jesus and so we need to check our hearts and let Jesus dwelling in our hearts dictate our decisions and our actions and our character.



Sunday, June 16, 2013 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

John 5:1-15 [NLTse]

Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 2 Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. 3 Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. 5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, He asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The Law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”

11 But he replied, “The Man Who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.

13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus Who had healed him.

Sermon

This is a map of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day. You can see the Temple here… And the Roman Fortress Antonia here… Here’s where archaeologists believe the Lord Jesus celebrated that last Passover supper with His disciples… And where they’ve found the high priest’s residence… Here, near the Temple compound, is the Sheep Gate John speaks of… And here, the Pool of Bethesda… As you can see here, there are really two pools of Bethesda: One next to each other. And you can see the covered porches – porticoes, they were called – where John says that crowds of those who were blind, lame, and paralyzed lay waiting for the pools’ water to bubble, indicating that the healing angel’s power was in the water to heal them.

Healing shrines were common throughout the ancient world, especially for the worship of deities known for their healing powers. Most shrines had pools or fountains nearby, and those seeking healing were required to dip themselves in the water to be made whole.

Many have questioned whether or not the Lord would have ever truly stirred the waters in this way to actually heal those who washed when the waters bubbled, but something extraordinary must have kept these crowds of people at the pool waiting their chance to be made well.

In other places across John’s gospel he mentions the nature of the festival going on which brought Jesus to Jerusalem at different times. It is conspicuous that he does not at this time. What seems to be important is not which festival is being celebrated but that Jesus works this sign of the Kingdom on a Sabbath day…

As I read this passage so many questions come to my mind. John tells us the place was crowded with sick people: What would such a place smell like, crowded with the sick and blind and lame and paralyzed? What would such a place sound like, filled with those suffering and struggling and ready to compete with those around them for the miracle that would heal them?

Greater than those questions for me, though, is why, with so many hurting and suffering and in need, why did Jesus come to this man? “Do you want to get well?” He asked him. Why did the Lord only heal this man and leave all the others in their infirmities? There’s no evidence that the man ever puts his trust in Jesus. There is a sense, when Jesus says, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you,” there’s a sense there that the man’s troubles had been the result of his own sinful actions or choices. And yet there’s no evidence that the Lord ever forgives him his sins. So, why him?

Of course, the gospels are filled with such pictures of God’s grace, His goodness and kindness to the undeserving. Yes, sometimes we read of Jesus healing people who were powerful and prestigious and people who had great faith. But just as often we read of Jesus healing nobodies, ne’er-do-wells, outcasts, and even “bad” guys. There seems no rhyme nor reason. He healed people who came to Him themselves and healed people who were brought to Him by others. He healed Jews, He healed Gentiles. He healed by touching, He healed by speaking. There were times when God’s healing power was upon Him for great works to even raise the dead! As well as times when He was only able to do a few miracles because of peoples’ unbelief. (Matthew 13:58)

But if there’s one thing the Bible makes very clear is that Jesus healed. And if there is a second thing that the Bible makes very clear is that Jesus expected His disciples to go out and heal, as well.

There’s a couple of accounts in the Bible that make this so very clear to me. One is found in Matthew 17… Why don’t we open up our Bibles there… to verse 14…

The Lord’s just come down from what’s come to be called the Mount of Transfiguration, and he finds a dad who’s brought to Jesus his son who’s become demonized in the hopes that Jesus would set his son free. While the Lord was on the mountain His disciples try to cast the demon out of the boy but cannot. And I think Jesus’ response to their inability is helpful and hopeful to us. In v. 19 the disciples ask, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” And Jesus told them they didn’t trust Him enough, and in the footnote you can see that He might have also added that they needed to have a better discipline of fasting and praying to be able to cast this kind out.

Did you notice that Jesus didn’t say, “You can’t heal. You can’t cast out demons. Who do you think you are?” No. They ask why they couldn’t do it and He tells them so that they would be able to do it next time!

Of course, we see the apostles going out and healing people after Jesus was raised from the dead and after He’d given them the Holy Spirit. uuu Acts 5:14-16 records that the Holy Spirit had so filled Simon Peter to heal that “sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.”

And then, with us in mind, the apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, uuu “To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing…” He’s given us gifts, by the Holy Spirit, power so that together our church would not be lacking to accomplish any good thing. And Paul tells us that the grace to heal is one of those gifts to accomplish good things that He’s given us.

Who here has ever prayed for someone and then that person had been healed? [Ask those who raise their hands what had been healed through their prayers.] [Let people know about the two women I’ve prayed for, the one who had a large mass that disappeared after praying for her, and the other, a young mother of two young children, who was cured of cancer.]

Has anybody here never prayed for someone who was sick or an invalid? … Please do; we must not hold ourselves back. The Lord may want us to play an important part in showing the people around us His love for the world in Jesus Christ!

We want to be keeping track of what gifts the Lord has given different ones of us so that we can get each other involved in ministry where the Lord has empowered us all to best fit. Those of you who’ve prayed for people who’d then been healed, when you write your name in the Red Books this morning, write “healer” next to your name. When people come to the church in need of healing, we want to make sure that you’re a part of the team of folks we’d have lay hands on them and anoint them and pray for them. So that Jesus’ name might be praised! And so that our neighbors and friends might glorify our Father in Heaven!