New Hope Notes

Modern Day Miracles
Rediscovering Christmas

Pastor Jon Burgess
December 3, 2017 - W1749


Mele Kalikimaka New Hope! I am so excited. We are launching our brand new series “Rediscovering Christmas.” Christmas is a time of miracles and gifts. We are filming at Castle Medical Center which is a faith-based medical center. For the first time anywhere in Hawaii, they got notice today from the White House that they won an award for excellence in care. It will be presented by President Trump himself for their system in which they love, care and heal people. Just an amazing thing to celebrate.

Not only does this hospital receive gifts for its excellence in care, but each and every one of us as believers in Christ have received a gift through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can expect miracles. Now this place does medical miracles all the time. We are going to see a promise from Jesus himself speaking about what miracles to expect.

John 14:11-12:   ”Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  

“Greater” here doesn’t mean greater in quality, it is greater in quantity. Jesus is saying as the church continues to increase and more people come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, the miracles we read about in the gospels are miracles you and I will work through our lives. The same spirit that’s in them is the same spirit in you and me. That means you and I become evidence that Jesus Christ is real and that He’s here today tying back to why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. That God left heaven, came to earth so we could see the miracle of Jesus face-to-face: knowing Jesus Himself.

I want us to enter this Christmas season with an expectation that we can see miracles. Miracles aren’t just for yesterday or a select spiritual few. They are for everyone who believes according to this promise. We are going inside Castle Medical Center and look at miracles happening right here.

Miracles of modern science, this machine can scan my brain and all the synapses firing. Our brain sometimes gets in the way when we’re talking about miracles. We hear them more as myths rather than reality. Many times when we’re looking at the miracles of Christmas, we can chalk that right up with the myth of Santa Claus and Jack Frost. It just becomes another story.

Our goal here as we journey back to Bethlehem with this Christmas series is to be able to rediscover the miracle of what actually happened. It means you’re involving your brain and logic in looking at what God is saying actually happened. It happened then and God is still doing miracles now.

Miracles are an invitation to investigation of the divine.  

Jesus is saying miracles are evidence of God’s work. Evidence, investigation, this is what He’s calling us to do. We have heard the Christmas story many times. Imagine being there in the fields with the shepherds and the sheep. The stars are shining. It’s another night just like every other night. No one pays any attention to you, then the God of the universe decides that He’s going to announce the arrival of His Son to you right there, no one else watching, in the middle of a field.

Luke 2:13-15: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see the thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’”

The shepherds have just seen thousands of angels light up the night sky, yet their brain says, “I’m not so sure this is true. I’ve got to see with my own eyes.” God isn’t saying, “Just take my word for it.” He’s literally saying to the shepherds, “Go and see that what I’ve said is true; the God of the universe has come in our skin and being born as a baby in a manger.”

So the shepherds were like first century investigative reporters being dispatched to the scene of an earth-shattering story.   To separate fact from fiction. To make sure what was actually told was actually happening. To see that the angels were telling the truth.

I wonder if we can put aside the nostalgia of Christmas, the songs, decorations and movies. In the middle of the nostalgia, we miss the miracle, the power of the Christmas story that this actually happened. A baby was literally born to a virgin. It was a miracle that was truly an invitation to investigation. The medical miracle of a Y chromosome being created so a virgin could have a baby.   That God is working in and through healings can’t be explained by science.

To help us do this, we are having conversation with world-renown neurosurgeon Kore Liow in this medical center. He’s a Christian, a believer and he’s seen what he wants to share with us: evidence that God does miracles today.

Dr. Liow has been a neurosurgeon for 20-plus years directing the neuroscience group of about 10 physicians at Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience.

DR. LIOW: Faith and healing and science is part of God, and it’s not a matter of integration faith into the practice. It’s a matter of our everyday life, how we live and how God is using us to touch people at very critical time of their life.

PASTOR JON: What are some things you’ve seen serving people that you can’t really explain medically and because of your faith, that was God?

DR. LIOW: My mother-in-law had a heart valve replacement as a child. She was admitted to the hospital because the valve was failing. She was not a candidate for replacement and the cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon basically told us, there’s nothing more they can do for her. If you want to have the church come and pray for her that will be okay…

DR. LIOW: We saw how the family of God just came together for a member in need. By the grace of God, she walked out of here. I’m not a cardiologist but it’s a miracle.

DR. LIOW: What it really comes down to is the conclusion that somebody is designing this, and is making all of these things happen. It’s a humbling experience and an honor and privilege to be with our patients during the time when they really need us.

PASTOR JON: Maybe it’s cynicism or hardship that there are some listening and saying, “I hear the doctor, I hear the story about his own family, I hear Pastor Jon’s story, I read the miracle of the birth of Jesus and the Y chromosome created by God in the womb to create this baby, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen for me.” There might be some out there not able to believe that God would actually do a miracle in their behalf.

What would you tell them, how would you encourage them?

DR. LIOW:   You know, God is sovereign, so He’s not limited by our thinking. He’s not limited by our knowledge. He’s not limited.

PASTOR JON: God wants us involved in the miracle. It’s not a passive thing where we just stand back with our arms folded. God wants each and every one of us to contend for the miracle with Him, understanding that what we read about in scripture can happen today. Thank you again for your time.

[End video]

A miracle is an invitation to participation with the divine.

Luke 2:16-21: “They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, He was named Jesus, the name the angel had given Him before He was conceived.”

In those days, traditionally the child was given a family name. When they brought Jesus to the temple and asked the child’s name, Joseph said, “His name is going to be Jesus.” That was Joseph saying, “I want to participate in the miracle of God.” Mary was just a simple girl with a simple faith with a simple plan: to marry a good man and raise some children. That was her whole idea. Then God interrupted her whole idea and said, “You are the chosen one. Would you like to participate in something that’s been foretold hundreds of years before you were born?” And she said, “Be it done unto me. I don’t understand it. I don’t know why you chose me, but let it be done unto me according to Your will.”

Participation is simply the willingness to say, “I’m going to do this with you, God, whether it makes sense or not.” Most of the time you and I don’t see the miracles because it doesn’t fit in our plans. It doesn’t follow our time schedule.

Leonard Sweet said, “The dominant story of the Scriptures, from Genesis to the maps, is the story of how God takes what is worst, least, and most contemptible and does what is greatest, best, and strongest. It is nothing less than the EPIC story of the gospel.”

Everyone in the room here has a place in the story that God is writing, and if we don’t understand or believe that, then we miss out on the miraculous narrative that God is writing right now.

A miracle is an invitation for participation with the divine. A lot of us don’t like it because things get messy before they get easier. Moses had a promised land to get to, but there was the Red Sea and a wilderness in the way. David had a promotion to the throne, but he had King Saul who wanted to kill him in the way. Joseph had a position of authority but he had Potiphar’s wife and a jail cell in the way. Peter was on his path to financial stability, and he twice had long nights of no fish in the way. Paul’s passion to plant churches had a shipwreck and a snake bite in the way.

If you and I are only willing to participate in the miracles when everything is nice and easy, we’re never going to see them. It takes courage and tenacity. It takes willingness to jump into the middle of the mess and get our hands dirty. It takes a willingness to say that if God said it, He will do it, and until He completes it, I’m not quitting. You can’t get the rainbow without the rain.

Miracles are an invitation to conversation with the divine.

John 14:12-16: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever …”You’ve got a Holy Spirit inside of you that says He is with you through all things. God doesn’t choose you because you are super spiritual. He chooses you because you say, “Yes, I want to be involved in what You want to do.”

I’m going to share a story about Momma Linda, a student at our Pac Rim University here.

Momma Linda gave me a list of all the things she’s been suffering from –osteoarthritis, severe vertigo, severe migraines, Type II diabetes, fibromyalgia, systematic exertion and tolerance disease, bilateral diabetic neuropathy, the list goes on.

She woke up one morning late for chapel, and grabbed her cane. She heard the voice of the Lord, “Why do you have that cane?”

Because she has a personal relationship with God, she just said, “You know why I have the cane. I’ll fall over if I don’t have the cane. I need it to walk. I need to be able to get to my car. I got to go up those stairs at church for my classes.”

She gets in the car. She shows up. A young man named Joe Michael had recently been filled with the Holy Spirit with the gift of faith to pray for healing. He asked Momma Linda if he could pray for her.

She comes up and the whole student body gathers around Momma Linda and they all lay hands on her and he begins to pray in the name of Jesus for healing. All of a sudden, she starts feeling this warmth beginning to come up her hands and arm. She described it like “fresh blood flowing through her body.”

It’s not that she didn’t have faith or belief. She had prayed a lot for healing. But it is in that moment in God’s timing and divine design that healing is going to happen. The pain began to disappear behind her eyes.

Then a girl comes up behind her and asked, “Why do you still have that cane?” A girl that didn’t know God had asked her that same question two times before. That cane has been in her car trunk since that day. God healed her, and she didn’t need it anymore. She has no migraines, no fatty liver disease, and no high cholesterol. She doesn’t need her CPAP machine for sleeping. She’s got healthy blood pressure. She’s still contending for healing in some areas of her life, but there was a miraculous healing like Dr. Liow said that cannot be explained by medical science but absolutely explainable by the spirit of God working in and through His people.

When she went in for a check-up after the prayer meeting, the doctor was looking at and double-checking her charts wondering if she had the right Linda Martin. She asked, “Are you the same person?”

What s on the other side of your mess right now? It’s the miracle of God so that He gets the glory. All of us have something we are leaning on other than Him because, logically, we just need it. Why do you still have that? Why do you still say that? Why do you still drink that? Why do you still go to that person? Why do you still go to that place? Some of us will leave it on the floor tonight and we’re not going back because we serve the God of miracles, and He’s in the room right now.

Miracles are an invitation to investigation, to participation, and to conversation. Some of us need to have a conversation with God because we’ve actually stopped talking to Him because nothing has changed yet. Like Joseph in jail, Paul stuck in a shipwreck, Peter without fish, David hiding in a cave. There’s a miracle because you got the promise and you got to be willing to talk to God again, to bring Him the cane or whatever you’ve been leaning on so that you can receive what it is He came from heaven to earth to bring you.

Want to receive that? Yeah, me too.




Study Questions

1. What are some trials that you are going through?

2. What are you leaning on?

3. What does Christmas mean to you?

4. What are some of the miracles you’ve witnessed?

5. Share something that you may need prayer for.