Asking is the hard part.
New International Version (NIV)
The Apostles Heal Many12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
We have noted that the Apostles asked God for many things.
They wanted signs and wonders to be performed in their midst.
Last week we saw the account of Ananias and Sapphira played out before our eyes. Withholding what we have from the Lord has a way of not working our so well. This week we see another moment where the now Apostles have seen their simple prayer answered.
This moment is after the great sign done through the couple who sold their land and withheld their money. The sign seems to have created so much of s tor that people are believing the message. They saw great signs and wonders done through Jesus of Nazareth. Maybe God is doing the same work through these 12 men. People are now dragging their loved ones and friends out into the streets. Some of them are on mats and cannot walk. People are bringing their sick from all the towns around them. People who have been tormented by unclean spirits are finding the release and freedom they have long desired.
What stands out to me in this short passage is the article of faith.
What does it take to stir that kind of faith up in us? How much faith does it take to be in a position where we can find the healing we so want and need?
John Wesley was in such a moment early in his life. Returning from the States where he had a run of unsuccessful preaching, John found himself on a boat with a bunch of Moravians. Both on his trip to the States and then back to England, he witnessed their joy and faith in midst of travelling through horrendous conditions while travelling through storms and at time wondering if they might stay alive. The Moravian he connected with in his travels was a man named Peter Boehler. The subject of faith was personally heavy on Wesley's mind as he dealt with all the confusion in his heart. Speaking with Boehler one day after his trip back to England the subject of faith was central to the discussion. It seems Wesley wanted to view faith in varying levels. Boehler's response was so concrete. Wesley thought about maybe quiting the preaching he had been doing.
Immediately it struck into my mind, “Leave off preaching. How can you preach to others, who have not faith yourself?” I asked Boehler, whether he thought I should leave it off or not. He answered “By no means.” I asked, “But what can I preach?” He said, “Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”Faith. It is central to all we do as Christians.
Look at the people whom Jesus touched. Look at the people who wanted to touch Jesus. A woman who just wanted to touch the hem of his garment. Just the end of the tassel. Instantly she is healed. Her faith is what made it possible. Jesus said so. These people in Acts 5 have seen and heard about a great and mighty sign. Now, they are dragging their loved ones right out into the street, on beds, on mats, just to be in the shadow of Peter as he walks by. They aren't touching anybody. They just want to be in the shadow of Peter. That's faith. God wants to heal. The apostle's prayer was to see healing int heir midst. And, God honors that prayer. All are healed. Everyone. What was that Jesus has said to them? He said they would do even greater things than he had done. Here is the start of it.
Faith works it's way out in the most curious ways.
People who walk away from traditional ways of medicine and go holistic. Seems crazy. Are the reports we are hearing about radiation and chemotherapy and the effects it actually have on cancer cells really accurate? For some folks it's just not working. Some people leaves the doctors and nurses to change their diet and their intake. Flushing out the harmful toxins from their bodies, people are reporting that cancer cells are diminishing. It takes faith to try something like that. Have we gotten to attached to modern medicine to give something else a try? Prayer and consideration are needed before one just recklessly ventures into this.
We serve a God who wants a 50/50 relationship with us. He reaches out. We respond. And, God is absolutely willing to carry 100% of the load of we can't handle it. Look back at Genesis 15 where God walks through the blood while Abram sleeps. God basically tells us that he is willing to take the punishment of not keeping the covenant on behalf of both parties. "By his stripes we are healed." There is healing needed on so many levels. Physical. Mental. Spiritual. We are most familiar with praying for our physical healing. Maybe there is mental healing needed before one can understand what God is trying to communicate about His Son Jesus. Maybe people have been attacked by our enemy on a spiritual level and have been hurt. Maybe in their faith. Restoration is needed on all levels so that we can be the people God wants us to be.
Well, this isn't a long message today because we are going to spend time around the altar today at Thornville United Methodist. I'm encouraging people to come lay out what they have on the altar. I'm encouraging others to come and pray around those who are gathered. We are going to reach out in faith to the Almighty. And, I believe, in faith, God will honor our requests.