Browsing the archives for the Miracles category.


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Matthew 13-14: I Need a Faith that Responds

Faith, Matthew, Miracles

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Mark 5-6: Do We Understand the Loaves?

Faith, Mark, Miracles

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Luke 7-8: How Much Did Jairus Have to Believe?

Christian Living, Faith, Jesus, Luke, Miracles, Victory in Jesus

Luke 7-8 (ESV) by Wordle*

Today’s reading is Luke 7:1-8:56.

“But Jesus on hearing this answered him, ‘Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well’” (Luke 8:50).

Jairus heard this moments after he heard Jesus tell the woman with the issue of blood, “Daughter, you faith has made you well; go in peace.” Faith was the key. But how much faith. Did this mean Jairus must have no doubts whatsoever? I don’t think so.

Rather, the messengers had told him to trouble Jesus no more. He simply had to have enough faith to continue troubling Jesus about it. He had to have enough faith to let Jesus come see his daughter. He had to have enough faith to let Jesus declare to the crowds the seemingly foolish statement, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” He had to have enough faith to ask the mourners to stay out when Jesus asked them to. He simply had to have enough faith to do what Jesus said and let Jesus do what He wanted.

That’s how much faith I need today. I simply need enough to do what Jesus has asked me and let Jesus do what He wants with me. That’s all.

Today, I think I’ll work on that faith. Who knows what amazing work Jesus might do in me if I simply have that much faith.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading?

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*Today’s illustration was generated by the creative tool at Wordle.net. You can find all my wordles here.

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Acts 15-16: God Works in Unexpected Ways, Part 2

Acts, Evangelism, God, Miracles, salvation

 

Earthquake Seismograph

Earthquake Seismograph

Today’s reading is Acts 15:1-16:40.

 

On Wednesday, we saw Peter escape from prison. No one expected it to happen the way it did. Peter didn’t expect it. It wasn’t until he was actually outside the gates and the angel left that he realized it was more than a dream. The Christians didn’t expect it. When Rhoda told them Peter was at the house gate, they thought she must be mistaken. Yet, God works in unexpected ways.

In Acts 16:16ff we find an apostle in prison again. He is praying and singing, along with Silas. Then God does the unexpected. He doesn’t simply cause the magistrates to release Paul. He doesn’t send an angel to spirit Paul and Silas away. This time, He sends a natural disaster. He sends an earthquake. 

However, this surprising turn of events produces great results. Who knows how well the jailer had been listening to Paul and Silas’s songs and prayers. But when they stay after the earthquake, as do the other prisoners, his heart is softened and he wants to hear Paul and Silas’s message. He and his entire household submit to the gospel.

I can’t help but see the parallel established once again between Paul and Peter. I also can’t help but see again that God works in unexpected ways. Who would have expected an earthquake to be the key to the jailer’s salvation. Yet, God gets His work done. Maybe we should rely on Him more and ourselves less.

***Question: Why is it hard to rely on God?

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

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Acts 11-12: God Doesn’t Always Work the Way I Expect

Acts, God, Miracles, Prayer

Today’s reading is Acts 11:1-12:25.

I’ve heard many people repudiate the Christians who were praying at Mary the mother of John Mark’s house for not having faith in God to answer their prayers. When they heard Rhoda’s report that Peter stood at the gate, they didn’t believe her. They said it must be his angel instead. I simply want to share two ideas here that are a little different from the norm. You can let me know what you think.

1). I try to give these people who were praying into the middle of the night a little more credit. I’ve usually found that people who don’t have faith in God to grant their prayers, don’t pray very much. I’m not so sure that they were praying but not expecting God to do anything. Rather, I think they were praying but weren’t expecting God to work in this way. They were expecting God to work in some way that Herod changed his mind and just let Peter go. They weren’t expecting God to send an angel to miraculously release Peter in the middle of the night. Therefore they were surprised.

What I learn from this is not to put God in a box. God can work however God wants. Usually, when I’m praying for something, I not only have the end result in mind but a method as well. I need to let God know my desires and leave the methods up to Him. He will not always do what I expect.

2). This is just kind of a side note. But in the past, when I’ve thought about the statement “It is his angel” in Acts 12:15, I’ve thought the people meant Peter must be dead and now is coming as an angel. Of course, there is no indication that dead saints become angels. So this would be their misunderstanding. However, what about this possibility. Since a spiritual being like an angel wouldn’t be kept outside by a locked gate, perhaps the Christians meant something entirely different. 

Remember that the word translated “angel” means messenger. Is it possible that what these folks meant was not that Peter was dead and coming to them as a spiritual being, but rather that he had sent a messenger to them. Tell me what you think about this possibility.

***Question: What are some things God has done that were unexpected to you?

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

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John 19-20: Jesus Performed Signs So We Might Believe

Evangelism, John, Miracles

Todays’ reading is John 19:1-20:31.

John 20:30-31 says: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Why did Jesus perform signs? Not simply to perform signs. Why did He heal the sick, raise the dead, give sight to the blind, make the lame walk? It was not because God had given Him a healing ministry. Not at all. Sadly, many modern endeavors into the realms of the miraculous have totally missed the point. Jesus didn’t heal in order to heal. He healed in order to demonstrate He was from God.

I think we need to recognize that today for several reasons. First, so that we can quit the notion that says the miraculous gifts of healing are to remain forever because God wants to use Christians to heal the sick. That is just not so. If Jesus came into the world to heal the sick, He failed. Most of the sick were left that way and they continue to be that way. Jesus came into the world to seek and save the lost. He did that by dying, not by healing the sick. Healing the sick simply pointed out that folks needed to listen to Him.

Second, we need to understand that Jesus didn’t leave behind His church to perform a healing ministry. No doubt, Christians should do good works. But we must not confuse starting a hospital with the work Jesus asked us to do of saving souls. We must not make the mistake of claiming that social welfare, medicinal aid, or some other kind of physical benevolence equals evangelism. Granted, like Jesus, our good works may cause folks to see the Spirit living through us so that they might listen to our words. I’m not denying that. However, thinking that providing someone with medicine is the same as saving souls is simply not so. Building a hospital is not at all carrying on the ministry of Jesus. His ministry was not about healing the sick. That was simply the sign that said they should listen to His ministry of saving the lost.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What did you get out of today’s reading?

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Mark 5-6: Why Couldn’t Jesus Work Miracles at Home

Faith, Healing, Mark, Miracles

Today’s reading is Mark 5:1-6:56.

Before I share my thought from today’s reading, I was reminded of a little joke. In a Bible class, the teacher asked her elementary grade students what they would have said had they been Herod when Herodias’s daughter asked for the head of John the Baptist. After all, he had promised her anything up to half of his kingdom.

Little Johnny raised his hand. When the teacher called on him, he said, “I’d have told her that I meant something from the other half of the kingdom.”

Okay, on to what really stands out to me today. I can’t help but notice Jesus was unable to do many miraculous works in Nazareth. Why? Mark 6:5-6 suggests it was because of the unbelief of those in the town. Sadly, many today have latched on to this and acted as if this means a human’s lack of faith is so strong that the power of God cannot overcome it. This teaching makes man more powerful than God. It is as if to say that Jesus summoned all His power and might but these people were just too strong for Him and He couldn’t cut it.

However, the last story in the same chapter actually demonstrates the point. In Nazareth, people didn’t believe. Therefore, they didn’t come to Jesus for miracles. Look in Gennesaret in Mark 6:53-56. Here the people did believe. Because they believed, they ran about the whole region to bring people to be healed.

You see, the issue is not that my faith is necessary for Jesus to work. The issue is if I don’t believe, I won’t come to Jesus to get Him to do His work.

This applies to me. I am looking for spiritual healing. It is not that my faith accomplishes it. Nor is it that my lack of faith overpowers Jesus’ strength. Rather, if I don’t have faith, I won’t come to Jesus and He won’t work. That is why my faith is so important. Without faith it is impossible to please Him, because without faith I won’t come to Him to learn His way. But as faith increases, then Jesus can do His work in me.

That is why I always end with…

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What did you get out of today’s reading?

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Mark 7-8: The Patience of Disciple Making

Growth, Healing, Jesus, Mark, Miracles, Patience

Mark 8:23-25 intrigues me. So, I did a little research. It says:

And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly (ESV).

This two stage miracle is such a contrast to the rest of the book. Throughout Mark, I can’t help but notice how often the word “immediately” is used (“straightway” if you read the King James Version). 

In fact, my research indicates Mark uses words which can be translated “immediately” 43 times. That means almost 6.5% of the verses in the book say something happened immediately. Additionally, these words are only used 57 times in the rest of the New Testament. That means almost half of the times we find these terms used are in just this one book. Mark is a fast gospel. Everything is happening immediately. Everything is happening right away. You get a sense of urgency and speed as you read.

Then you get to Mark 8:23-25 and for a brief moment, everything comes to a screeching halt. Jesus did not heal the man immediately. He healed him in stages. It didn’t happen right away or right now, it happened over a period of time. What is up with that?

I can’t help but notice this story is told right after Jesus rebuked His disciples for slow understanding. They had seen the feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand. However, when Jesus told them to beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Herodians, they just didn’t get it. You can hear the frustration or resignation in Jesus’ voice as Mark relates Him saying, “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” (Mark 8:17-18, ESV).

Then we get the story of the two stage healing. Jesus is giving an object lesson about the walk of discipleship. There is a lot of urgency and immediacy in Jesus’ work. However, He is patient. He knows making disciples out of mere men takes time. After a whole bunch of time, we still only see the plan of God the way this man saw people. He could see a faint outline, but no details. However, as we keep on walking with Jesus and keep allowing Him to clear our vision, we actually begin to see those details and get the real picture and not just some general and vague idea that leaves us still wondering about what is really going on. It will take time, but we can grow as disciples. We will struggle along the way, but we will get there.

Three Applications

1. I need to be thankful that Jesus is patient with me and my baby steps as a disciple.

2. I need to be patient with myself and keep working when I know I don’t always get it immediately.

3. I need to be patient with others when they are only making baby steps in their discipleship.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

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Mark 1-2: Cleansed!

Christian Living, Evangelism, forgiveness, Mark, Miracles, sin

 

Leprosy Victim

Leprosy Victim

The leper of Mark 1:40-45 amazes me. Jesus told him to keep his mouth shut and he couldn’t. What saddens me is Jesus has told me to keep my mouth open and I don’t.

 

The thing I need to recognize about this whole scenario is the leper couldn’t keep quiet because of the joy over his cleansing. He knew exactly how defiled and vile he had been. Therefore, he was overjoyed at his newfound cleansing. He had to tell someone.

Who do you think he told first? I imagine he told the only people that had stayed with him, the other lepers he had been relegated to live with outside the city. He probably told his family. He may have told his friends. I bet he told the next person he saw in the street. 

What I need to do is realize just how defiled and vile I was spiritually. Only then can I have the joy of the cleansing Jesus has given. Perhaps, when I remember that and meditate on it, I won’t be able to help telling people about it either.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

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Acts 7-8: The 4 Tactics of Miraculous Tricksters

Acts, Miracles

 

 

The tactics of miraculous tricksters haven’t changed in nearly 2000 years. Whether we talk about Simon the Sorcerer or Benny Hinn (whom I have seen in action, live and clearly fake) we get to the same four tactics to draw folks in.

1. Talk

2. Tricks

3. Testimony

4. Time

1. Talk: In Acts 8:9, Simon the Sorcerer went around saying “he himself was somebody great” (ESV). The modern miraculous tricksters are marvelous. If you don’t believe it, just ask them.

2. Tricks: Someone might ask, how can you say what Simon did was tricks. Because when the real power of God came into town, everyone could tell the difference. Even Simon could tell the difference and tried to buy some of the real power he saw displayed. If only I had the time to tell you all the tricks I saw at the Hinn crusade. I’ll just share one. He had supposedly gotten one man who had been in a wheelchair to walk on the stage. I watched as everyone else’s attention was turned to the new person on the stage. The supposedly healed man had to be carried down the stairs off the stage and put back in his wheelchair when Hinn was done with him. Tricks. They are still being used.

3. Testimony: Simon, having convinced some with his tricks perpetuated his reputation with the testimony of those who had been duped. Just watch a few episodes of the modern miraculous tricksters on TV and you will see they rely on the same kind of testimonies. Someone touched a TV and their cancer went into remission. No doubt a certain number of cancer patients go into remission each year. The trickster on TV didn’t heal these people, but they have been duped and they get on TV to testify to the “power of God” in their life. Notice that Simon had testimony from the least to the greatest. The fact that he had duped even great, powerful and influential people to believe him didn’t change the fact that he was a fake.

4. Time: According to Acts 8:11, Simon had amazed the people for a long time. We all know how this works. It starts small. You dupe a few people. They tell others. The others are skeptical. But keep up the tricks long enough and more and more people begin to believe. For how many years have these modern tricksters duped people. Maybe I should tell the story about my friend who had been in a motorcycle accident, became mentally and physically handicapped, bound to a wheelchair who wasn’t even allowed in the main room when Richard Roberts came to heal everybody in Beaumont, TX. My friend actually found the back entrance to the stage and was watching from the sidelines. When my able bodied friends got behind the curtains to see why he was hollering, they found him on the ground with one of Roberts’ henchman on top of him about to hit him in the face. Of course, the henchman said my friend had a demon and he was trying to exorcise him. Yeah right. But, the faithful followers of Roberts just won’t believe this story because he has been amazing them for a long time.

Anyway, when Philip, the real power of God, came to town. Everyone knew the difference, even Simon. Here is my challenge. Instead of coming in to town with a crusade where you rent the biggest hall and then beg for money as a seed of faith for a miracle. How about we meet down at the hospital, the nursing home or even the morgue. Let’s start cleaning those places out for free and then maybe we can declare that the power of God has really come in among us.

Keep the faith and keep reading.

ELC

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