#2176 – Miracles Remembered! (13 Nov 2011)

The Message

Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman

Special Guest

Ms. Debbie Bonilla
Debbie is a member of Crystal Cathedral church and she has experienced firsthand the miracle of God in her life.

The Message

Today, I just want to encourage you to recognize the miracles, remember the miracles, and recount the miracles. Okay, those are my three points today, and I hope you’ll remember them. We’re going to recognize the miracles that God is doing all around us. And remember the miracles that He has done. And recount the miracles. Recount them. Recount them. You know God is the creator and He created all of nature and He created all the laws that are in nature, and as a science major, I learned all about those science laws, and all I could think of was God made these laws.

And so what happens in a miracle is that sometimes when God wants to, it’s His creation, they’re His laws and He is a sovereign God, He is the sovereign king, He is the God, the creator, and sometimes, He says, I’m going to modify My law just a little bit here. I’m going to speed it up, I’m going to alter it just a little bit and sometimes He uses the laws that He made and we look at it and go we can’t explain how it happened. And we say a miracle, it was a miracle.

You know miracles happen and sometimes we don’t even see them. With children, there’s a book called I Spy. Any of you grandparents or parents know the book, I Spy, and you sit down, there are all the different I Spy books. And I’d like to write a book called I Spy a Miracle! I spy a miracle because sometimes if you would just ask God to open your eyes, you’d be amazed at how many miracles are happening all around you that we don’t even notice or we take for granted. And yet God wants us to see, He wants us to notice His beautiful, amazing miracles that He’s doing every day, all around us; that He has done and is doing.

Some of you heard me talk a few weeks ago on Daniel, you heard me talk about my son Christopher who had spinal meningitis at three and a half months, and that spinal meningitis actually came hand in hand with a severe asthma attack when he was three and a half months old. My son Christopher was born a whopping ten pounds, four ounces. Yes he was. He was a big baby. And he grew. He had an appetite. He was the picture of health.

And when I brought him in for his well baby check up, I thought Christopher looked amazing. And then I heard the doctor looking very concerned and heard her checking him and she said ‘Sheila, how long has he been doing this?’ And I said, ‘doing what?’ And she said, ‘pulling, when he breathes he has to pull. His breathing is so labored.’ And I had to confess, I didn’t even notice it. I just thought it was normal. She said, ‘oh no, no, this is very, very serious. I want you to take him immediately to an allergist.’

So we went to the allergist and the allergist gave him medication for his asthma. Turns out Chris had asthma and Chris had really, really bad asthma. And he was on this asthma medication. There were side affects like he wasn’t quite as bubby, quite as alert and aware as he had been when before he went on the medication. And it was heartbreaking to watch this as a mom, but I began to notice over time that his breathing seemed to be better and honestly I think it was because there were so many of who had been praying for Christopher and his asthma; I began to give him less and less medication. I did it because I thought well he doesn’t seem to need it as much.

By the time he was ten months old, I wasn’t giving him any more of his medication. Now I’m not advocating not giving medication to your child if your doctor prescribes it. But Chris didn’t seem to need it. And so I just kind of eased off on it. And it probably was not the most responsible thing I did as a parent, but by the time he was ten months old, he wasn’t on his asthma medication any more.

And when I brought him for his well baby check up at 12 months, one year, back to the allergist, the allergist said, ‘wow he’s breathing really great, Sheila. Is he still on his medication?’ And I said, ‘no, actually he hasn’t had any for two months. I thought he outgrew it.’And he looked at me and he said, ‘oh no, they don’t outgrow asthma. Not at this age.’ He said, ‘it usually gets worse and worse until they’re about five or six years old and maybe it’ll ease up with time after that.’Well the doctor looked at me and I looked at him and I went home and we couldn’t explain it and finally it dawned on me, Christopher had been the recipient of a miracle. It happened slowly, cell by cell, over time, so much so that I hadn’t even realized it. I hadn’t recognized the miracle that was happening right in front of me. But God showed me and He revealed to me, He said, ‘Sheila, this is a miracle’ and it has been. I mean Christopher’s 29 now; he’s never had another asthma attack, he’s never been on any asthma medication. A miracle. That’s how God works sometimes. Sometimes He works very slowly, slowly, cell by cell. Recognizing miracles. They’re all around us. And remembering the miracles.

It wasn’t too long ago, mom said to me, ‘Sheila, I don’t know that I ever shared with you this miracle that happened when you were a baby.’ And I hadn’t heard of any miracle that happened when I was a baby and I said, ‘well do tell, mom. Tell me about this miracle.’And she said, ‘well we were in Chicago at our first church and you were a baby, and we had to drive as a family from Chicago to Iowa because your dad was doing the wedding of one of his best friends in Iowa. And as we were driving and you know how it is in the wintertime in the Midwest, there can be black ice and it can be disguised with snow over the top of it.’ And she said, ‘we hit a patch of black ice and the car spun out of control and we were hurled across the dividing line, right in front of a barreling down on us semi truck.’ And she said, ‘that semi truck saw us, could not stop in time, and quickly yanked that wheel until the truck went into the ditch and turned over.’ She said, ‘the truck driver emerged fine. Miraculously he was okay.’ But he came to us and because mom was holding me in her arms because that’s what mom’s did back then. They didn’t have infant seats. He said, ‘I saw in the front seat a mom and a baby,’ the truck driver said, ‘and I could not hit this car, no matter what it took.’ And so this truck driver risked his life for us and our lives were miraculously spared: dads and mom’s and mine. How many years ago? Gosh dare I say it? Sixty! Almost sixty years ago! But how many lives have been saved through dad’s ministry, through this ministry. God’s miracle happened all those years ago and I just learned about it not too long ago. Miracles remembered. Miracles recognized. Miracles remembered.

Psalm 77:11 says this: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord. Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” The bible tells us over and over again to remember the miracles. Why? Why is it important to remember the miracles? Well I got to tell you, not all miracles are instantaneous. Some miracles you hear about them where somebody will be healed like when Jesus healed the blind man, he was healed instantaneously. When He healed a paralytic, he was healed instantaneously. Some miracles are instantaneous miracles, according to the bible. But some miracles God does in His timetable. For instance, Christopher’s took long. It was months and months that God was healing him. His was not an instantaneous miracle.

And when you look at the story that Jim Penner talked about last week about Lazarus, that wasn’t an instantaneous miracle, either at first, because Jesus waited, remember? He waited. So what do you do while you’re waiting for the miracle? What if you’re in a place right now where you are waiting for a miracle? How many of you, raise your hand, if you’re right now in a place where you are waiting for your miracle. Yes. What do you do? How do you keep your faith going while you’re waiting for the miracle?

Some of you have prayed and you thought you would see it by now and you haven’t. And your faith has gotten a little shaky, a little bit like Jell-O. And I’ll tell you, I’m waiting for our miracle. I’ve been waiting for a miracle and the way that God has helped me keep my faith rock solid when it starts to feel like a little bit of Jell-O is to remember the miracles and that’s what God tells us to do. Remember the miracles. Remember the miracles. Remember the miracles. Because when we remember the miracles, we remember that God did do this. God can do this. And then God will do this. You see? Because God who did this, hasn’t changed. He didn’t lose His power between the Old Testament and the New Testament, between the New Testament and today. God didn’t lose His power, did He? No, God can, God has, and therefore God will. God will do His miracle, and that’s why, as we remember what He’s done, as we remember how powerful He is, as we remember the miracles, we are built up and we are able to have strong faith while we’re waiting for the miracle.
Let me tell you this story, and I’m going to read most of it to you. If you have your bible, I’m in Joshua chapter one. And this is after Moses has just died and Joshua was installed as the new leader. “The Lord said to Joshua, now then you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan river into the land I’m about to give them. God said to Joshua, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Just as God was with Moses, people, so He is with you. Here’s His promise. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He is the same God today as He was then. And it’s not easy, not easy. I can imagine Joshua, how hard, how difficult it must have been to try to follow in Moses’ footsteps. I can speak from personal experience how hard it is to follow after a great, great leader.

And so God says this to Joshua. “Be strong. Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” So this is Joshua. He’s just been installed as the new leader. And then God gives him his marching orders. He says it again and again and again. But here’s the second time he says it. “Be strong,” I’m on verse 7, “be strong and courageous.” You know I believe that my marching orders as the new leader of this ministry, God said to me Sheila, you are to be a strong leader. This was over two years ago. Sheila, you’re to be a strong leader and I kind of cringed. I didn’t like that thought because I kind of thought of a strong mean dictator type when I heard that strong leader.

And then I heard the Lord say to me, He qualified it by saying you are to love strong. You are to believe strong. You are to forgive strong. And so when I read this passage in Joshua verse seven where it says be strong, I think yes, Sheila, be strong. Continue to love strong. Continue to believe strong. Continue to forgive strong. And we can all do that, can we not? And very courageous. Be careful, God said, He warned Joshua. “Be careful to obey all the law My servant Moses gave you. Obey the law. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this book of the law always on your lips. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” Here’s your policy manual. Follow it. Here’s your guidebook. Follow it. Do you think, do you think you or I that we have a better way than God’s way? Well you can try it and see where that’ll get you. I personally think I’m going to follow God’s way as close as I possibly can.

So here it is. His marching orders are continued here. Verse 9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.” Oh my goodness, here it is again. Be strong and courageous. “Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Do not be discouraged. Don’t let anything take your courage away from you. Do not be discouraged. Why? Because the Lord God is with you wherever you go.” So Joshua took his commands from the Lord. He took his marching orders and he gave them to the people and he said get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.

So Joshua has been obedient to the marching orders that God has given to him. So how do the people respond? He’s a new leader. It’s one thing to follow Moses. They followed him for 40 years. And now this little upstart saying okay, now I’m giving you some orders and I want you to follow me. How did the people respond? “They answered Joshua whatever you have commanded us, we will do. And wherever you send us, we will go, just as we fully obeyed Moses so we will obey you.” Because they believed that Joshua was hearing and following God. And for those of us who are leaders, it is our first and foremost responsibility to listen and follow God. Our first and foremost responsibility is not to lead. Our first and foremost responsibility is to follow. To follow God’s word and to follow God’s law.

So here they are. They’ve been in the wilderness for 40 years. Forty years. That’s a long time. Where were you 40 years ago today? Imagine if you’d been wandering in the wilderness all that time between that time in your life and today. Some of you may not have even been born 40 years ago. And now finally the Promised Land, a land of milk and honey. It’s right across the river from them. It’s right there, so close. And yet they have to cross the river. They have to cross the Jordan River. They’re on this side of the Jordan River and on the other side is the Promised Land. There’s no bridge, there’s no ferry, there’s no way to get across, there’s no boat. How are they going to get from this side of the river to the other side of the river, especially because at the time this happened, it was during the spring? It was during the grain harvest time and during that time, the river was swollen and that river was big. In fact, it rivals the size of the Red Sea. So this is another huge, huge, huge barrier that they have to cross, that Joshua has to lead the people across.

And God told them, just take the ark and step into the water, and this is what happened. “When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.” I’m reading from God’s word. “Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the waters edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. Their feet touched the river, the water stopped flowing. Way upstream so that suddenly there it was, a pathway across, so the people crossed over opposite Jericho.” The miracle, the crossing, they crossed. They were able to get to the Promised Land.

This is the important part of the story for today. The miracle was remembered. The miracle was memorialized because God said while you’re crossing, pick up 12 stones and build a memorial. So when your children’s, children’s, children see this pile of 12 stones, one for every tribe, and they say mom, dad, grandma, what does that pile of stones mean? You can tell them that was the miracle. That was the miracle. God made a way. God broke through a barrier that none of us could possibly do. The stones memorialized the miracle.

So while you’re waiting for your miracle, remember the miracles. The miracles in the bible like Sarah. She conceived a child at the age of 90. The Red Sea was parted. The Jordan River was parted. Manna and meat were provided for 40 years without fail. Daniel was delivered from a lions den. So many miracles. Miracles today that are happening in your life and I hear about them over and over again. Miracles recounted. You heard today Debbie Bonilla recount the miracle of how God saved her and transformed her life. Delivered her from alcohol. Delivered her. What a miracle.

Some of you are sitting there going; I am desperate for my miracle. I am running out of time. I have a death sentence from the doctor. I have a foreclosure on my home. My life has come to an end and I am desperate for a miracle. My life, my very life depends on a miracle. The good news is your miracle has happened! Oh yes it has. The grand miracle has happened. Let us not forget it. Let us remember it. Let us recognize it. Let us recount it. The grand miracle. And what is the grand miracle? The grand miracle is when God said I will come to earth and I will be as man. I will come as man. The incarnation. I will walk on the earth. I will touch My people. I will heal My people. I will give My life. I will be raised from the dead. I am the grand miracle.

C.S. Lewis in his book Miracles says this: the grand miracle. Every other miracle prepares for the grand miracle. Every other miracle exhibits this grand miracle for every other miracle results from the grand miracle. The grand miracle has already happened. Already happened.

When I walk out of a store sometimes these days, you ever anybody come up to you and say do you have a dime you can spare? Do you have a dime you can spare? Got a life you can spare? What if somebody asked you do you have a life you can spare? Romans 8:32 says this, that “God who did not spare His own son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also generously give us all things?” If God, the God of the universe has already given us the grand miracle, will He not also give us every other miracle we need? The biggest miracle, the grand miracle, we celebrate that. We recognize it. Remember it and recount it.

Lord God Almighty, thank You so much for coming to earth, for sending Your son so we would see You. We would know what You look like. We would know what You sound like. We would know You. And You came to earth; You descended to earth so we could ascend to You. You stooped down to be a man of suffering, acquainted with grief, to lift us up. Thank You for the grand miracle. Help us to never forget it. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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