Does Jesus Procrastinate?

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 11:17-27

“Does Jesus Procrastinate?”

Today we are finishing up our sermon series on miracles. We have been looking at the seven miracles of Jesus from the Gospel of John. Today we will be looking at Jesus resurrecting Lazarus from the dead.

As we end our series, I want to make three observations about miracles and the power of God.

First, God’s timing is not always our timing.

Second observation about miracles is that we need to open our eyes and hearts to the power of God in our lives.

The third observation about miracles is that God can do the possible out of the impossible.

The reason I wanted to do a sermon series on miracles is I believe many of us can grow stagnant in our faith. Our faith becomes dormant. We assume that all we know about God is all we will ever know. We assume all we have ever experienced about God we have already experienced. But when you add the power of God to our faith lives, all bets are off. Jesus continues to make things new every morning. Jesus is about resurrecting our lives. Rebirth is not just about salvation, rebirth is about a life with Christ where we let our everyday lives intersect with the power of God.

Homework:

Where have you seen miracles in your life?

Where in your life now do you need to experience the power of God?

Light of the World

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 9:1-11

“Light of the World”

Jesus in this miracle of healing a blind man from birth is a sign that Jesus and the Kingdom of God is breaking into the darkness. Jesus is saying there will be light. I am making all things new. Maybe what Jesus is doing in our lives does not seem as spectacular as making a blind person see but what Jesus is doing in all of our lives if we are willing to open our eyes and heart is making all things new.

Theme: Jesus was claiming to be the light of the world.

The themes throughout the Gospels of Redemption and Resurrection is about Jesus bringing back to life the things that seem dead. Our circumstances can seem so overwhelming but even in the midst of the darkness God can do miracles by shining forth in spite of it all.

Goshen International Church and Community Center

Born out of the long term friendship and ministry partnership between pastors Bigimba Ngabo and Gary Stokes, a multi-cultural church and community center seeking to bridge cultures and provide ongoing support for refugees, and indeed all those who need help with life, is just beginning. 

Imagine a gathering place where many local churches can join to impact people for Christ who are in great need through a dedicated community center.

Imagine a unique place of worship catching young refugees, people of all colors and languages, of all ages and experiences who choose to be together because of the love of Jesus.

 

The Mystery of the Miraculous

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 6:16-21

“The Mystery of the Miraculous”

In a technological world we are not always comfortable with mystery. We want explanations for the unknown. The age of Enlightenment ushered in reason and science, all good things, but this quest to explain the unexplainable leads us to some gaps. I believe these gaps lead us to the beauty and mystery of God. 

Theme: When God shows up in your life, do not try to explain it. Simply embrace the mystery of the miraculous in your life.

We respond different ways when Jesus shows up in our lives unexpectedly.

First, we can just ignore it.

The second way we respond is we just intellectualize God out of our lives.

The third way we respond is the miracles of God can make us appreciate the mystery of God.

We live in a day and age where I see people going through the motions and are less lead by their faith and more led by their to do list or their email inbox. It is easy with all the distractions to go to numb to the very fullness of life that is right in front of us. What if we are developing cataracts to our soul that prevent us from seeing clearly the mystery, beauty, and power that God has created right before us.

What if Jesus is showing up in our lives walking on water but we just happen to be looking the other way?

 

Miracle Middle Manager

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 6:1-15

“Miracle Middle Manager”

As we are doing a sermon series on miracles, one of the greatest lessons we must learn through the Bible is that often God does indeed do miracles in this day in age, but his preferred way of doing them is through you and me. We are miracle middle managers. We are the right people at the right time, that if we so choose, we can allow ourselves to be part of a miracle.

So far in this sermon series we have focused on miracles primarily in relationship to our needs, but today we want to focus on us being miracles for others.

Theme: You and I can be vessels for God’s miracles.

The creator of the universe chooses you and me in all our brokenness to be his vessels, his instruments of mercy and power to a world that is in need. Today I want to say God is nudging us, sending us to be his vessels to be his miracles; but we must have our heart and eyes open to God’s nudges, large or small, that are all around us.

God is saying to you and me, “whom shall I send?”

The question is how will we respond?

But here is the catch, often the miracles God orchestrates through us at the time do not seem that spectacular. As we are just going through life being faithful to the nudges and promptings of the Holy Spirit, God takes the ordinary and turns them into the extraordinary for someone else.

We are all miracles if we so choose to be!

 

 

Get Up and Walk

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 5:1-9

“Get Up and Walk”

Over the years, as a Pastor I have encountered folks who feel like an accident, more who feel stuck, others who feel lost, and many whose dreams for themselves did not turn out like the expectation they or others had of them. Today we are going to look at an individual in John 5 who was lost and stuck almost his whole life. I believe when Jesus healed him he did not just heal him physically, but healed his heart with a sense of purpose.

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”  (NRSV)

We often say with our lips we want more of God in our lives. But do we really? Do we want the Creator of the Universe meddling in our lives?

If we want God to do a miracle in our lives, we must first be willing for God to intervene.

8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”  (NRSV)

If we want God to do a miracle in our lives we must also take steps of trust.

Change is scary, even healing is scary because when Jesus says get up and walk, we can assume that Jesus is going to lead us somewhere. As we start to let Jesus intervene and meddle in our lives, over time we start to take small steps of trust. Many of us want external miracles! We want God’s intervention in our circumstances. But maybe, just maybe we need God to do an internal miracle first in our heart if we are to truly understand miracles and the power of God. If we want to have purpose and power in our lives we first must let God intervene and do miracles in our hearts by helping us to become willing and help us take steps of trust.

Questions:
1. Why does Jesus ask the man if he wants to be healed? What is that about?
2. Why do you think it would have been hard for the man to hear Jesus words get up and walk?
3. What prevents us from being healed?

 

Word and Spirit

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 4:46-54

“Word and Spirit”

The “Word” versus the “Spirit.” It is a great divide. Many churches and denominations are characterized by one over the other. They emphasize one and give lip service to the other. If churches could truly discover how to bring these two priorities together, the simultaneous combination would be a spontaneous combustion. That is my hope and prayer for our church, that we would be people of the Word and people of the Spirit.

People of the Word
There are times that we want to see a miracle, we want to see a sign, we want to see the power of God, and God just seems silent. It is in those times we are called to trust God’s promises, to trust our theology of God’s sovereignty, to trust God’s love for us. It is in these moments we learn to be less dependent on the spectacular and dependent on the word of God that we see in Scriptures.

People of the Spirit
We as Christians are called people of the Bible. We study and learn. But we can analyze our faith literally, at times, to death. We are called to be people of the Word, but we are also called to be people of the Spirit. Our faith and relationship with our Savior is meant to be new every morning. The Spirit allows us to discover new vitality.

So how do we be people, a church that is both dependent on Word and Spirit?
How do we become people who are tethered to God’s promises, but looking for the power of God in this world and in our lives?

Theme: It requires us to be people that trust and pray!

Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, is based on the idea that all of us can create prayer circles where we pray around an issue with boldness. Much like the Israelites who marched around Jericho praying for God’s power, we can all become circle makers. There is a deeply personal dimension to all of this. We can encircle our family, our job, our problems, and our goals in bold prayer.

 

Lift the Veil

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 2:1-11

“Lift the Veil”

This sermon series is less about understanding miracles and more about awakening to the power of God. In the book, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson explores the seven miraculous signs of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. Over the next seven weeks we will do the same hoping that as we see these signs of the power of God in the Gospel of John we can also see God’s miraculous power today.

Theme: Open your eyes and heart to the power of God.

Purification Ritual Reversed with Jesus
In changing water into wine Jesus is crashing any barriers to the power of God. Purification was no longer about ritual and Jewish Law it was about Jesus. New wine: new cleansing, new intimacy, new joy, is open to all who are willing to follow Jesus.

The Veil was lifted with Jesus
There is a Hebrew concept called “Shekinah Glory” that comes from the Hebrew word, “shekinot.” It represents the miraculous dwelling of God with his people. God’s presence was manifested by the intense light that filled the Tabernacle, in the Temple in Jerusalem, “Shekinah Glory.” This “Shekinah Glory” this dwelling place of God was in the chamber of the “Holy of Holies” in the Temple that was covered with a veil that separated God’s glory and power from the people. But we know that when Jesus died on the cross and his side was pierced the veil suddenly ripped. Jesus crashed the barrier to the power of God. Jesus death on the cross represents our access to the power of God through Jesus.

My prayer for you and me is to lift the veil in our lives that separate us from fully awakening to the power of God in our lives.
Lift the veil!

Questions:
Why is there a lack of wonder and mystery in our lives today?
What barriers do we create to keep ourselves from fully embracing the power of God?
How can we access more the power of God in our lives?