Tag Archives: miracles

Today’s Scripture – December 7, 2017

Luke 11:29-32 (NIV) As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.”

Many of the religious leaders pestered Jesus for a miraculous sign that would prove that He had come from God. The signs that He was already doing were surprisingly not good enough for these people, signs that included healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding multitudes with miraculously produced food, and even raising the dead! They would not accept any of those as adequate proof. Instead, they demanded that Jesus do a miracle of their own choosing; that Jesus, and by extension God, jump to their tune before they would be willing to believe.

Of course, Jesus was not willing to fit Himself into their agenda to try to win their approval, because He knew that He would not get it, even if He did comply with their request. Instead, He promised them an amazing miracle of God’s choosing that He called the sign of Jonah. Jesus more clearly defines this sign in Matthew 13;40: just as Jonah was in the belly of a great fish, disgorged alive on the third day, so He would be placed in a tomb in the belly of the earth, and come forth alive on the third day.

But there was more. Just as Jonah had come as a sign to the Ninevites, proclaiming God’s doom on them unless they repented, his miraculous deliverance from death proving the validity of his credentials, so Jesus was a sign to those in power in Jerusalem, proclaiming God’s doom on them unless they repented, and His miraculous resurrection from the dead would prove His credentials to make such a proclamation.

The Ninevites had repented in sackcloth at the preaching of Jonah and saved themselves and their city from being utterly destroyed by God’s wrath. But Jesus knew that these leaders would not repent, and that ultimately they, their city, and their temple would be totally destroyed (Luke 21:6). And, of course, it all happened exactly as He foretold.

Jesus also condemned the leaders of the Jews for standing far off and building walls between themselves and Him. The queen of Sheba had come seeking Solomon for his amazing wisdom. But these leaders refused to acknowledge that Jesus had even greater wisdom than Solomon ever dreamed of having, even though it was something that He demonstrated to them on a regular basis.

 Father, only those with open eyes can see who Jesus truly is. Only those with open eyes can see that the things that He did were signs of His credentials directly from You. Even today so many are satisfied with debating Jesus from their lofty seats in academia, but the whole time are totally blind to who He truly was and is, with eyes that cannot see Your truth. Thank You, Lord, for opening my eyes, so that I can see. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – December 4, 2017

Luke 11:23 (NIV) “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.

Jesus is still addressing these words to the Pharisees who have accused Him of being able to cast out demons only because He Himself was possessed by the king of demons. In the previous two paragraphs, He has successfully rebutted their accusation, as well as credibly painting Himself as being personally much more powerful than the demons, and even more powerful than the king of demons, satan himself.

Now Jesus goes on to make two self-confirmatory statements that speak not only to His power, but to His identity.

The first statement, “He who is not with me is against me,” seems strange for him to have to verbalize. Isn’t it obvious that if someone is not for a person, they are on the opposite side?

But Jesus is not being philosophical. He is actually challenging the Pharisees to choose one side or the other. And in the light of the previous discourse and the power that He has demonstrated over the demonic forces that had stymied the best efforts of the Pharisees, this statement has an extra impact.

Jesus has shown that He is more powerful than the demons, because He is literally driving out the demons by the finger of God, and as a sign that the kingdom of God was present in His own life (verse 20 above). That means that if the Pharisees continue to work against Jesus, they are aligning themselves with the demons that His is defeating, and ultimately against God Himself.

The second statement nests neatly with the first: “He who does not gather with me scatters.” If Jesus really is the messenger of God’s kingdom, which the miracles and His ability to cast out demons proves, the He is at work gathering God’s people into God’s kingdom, the work to which He was called (Luke 19:10). And, consequently, any who oppose Him, who try to cast doubt on who He is and on where His power comes from, are frustrating His efforts. And, if they succeed at all, they will only succeed in scattering those that God is trying to gather to Himself through the work of Jesus. Thus, again, they will find themselves working against God, and against what He is trying to accomplish through Jesus.

Father, Jesus’ strength in the face of this opposition came from His sure knowledge that He was doing Your work in every detail. There was not a speck of His own agenda in there, so He could actually say that to stand against Him was to stand against You, and that to frustrate the work that He was doing was to work against what You were doing through Him. Lord, help me to do Your will as completely, as selflessly, as passionately as Jesus. Help me to so identify with You, to so commit myself to Your agenda, that Your purpose becomes fully my own, and Your own passion fully consumes me, so that Your kingdom work will advance powerfully through me. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – December 1, 2017

Luke 11:17-20 (NIV) Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

The Pharisees had accused Jesus of being able to cast out demons because He was possessed by Beelzebul, the king of the demons. It was a combination of ignorance and jealousy that cause them to make this accusation. Ignorance because they were spiritually blind, and could not see at all what was happening right before their eyes. And jealousy because, even though they had theological degrees and the admiration of the people for their wisdom and righteousness, they were powerless against demons. If they ever were successful at casting them out, which was rare, it was a difficult process instead of the effortlessness of Jesus’ example.

It was because of their spiritual blindness and their powerlessness that Jesus took pity on them and patiently explained to them why their reasoning made absolutely no sense at all. First of all, there were only two possible sources for Jesus’ authority over demons: God or satan. But if Jesus’ authority came from satan, and if satan was therefore casting out his own soldiers in the name of the kingdom of God, he would have been cutting his own feet out from under himself, devastating his own forces to build up the reputation of his enemy. A very little thought shows that that idea made no sense at all. Besides, if only the king of the demons could cast out demons, that meant that every time the Pharisees were successful at casting out a demon, it proved that they themselves were in league with the devil!

That left the only other possibility. Jesus’ authority came from God, and his every defeat of a demon was a defeat for the kingdom of darkness by the kingdom of light, and proof that the kingdom of God had come into the world. That also meant that Jesus had a relationship with God that those Pharisees did not have, despite their reputations. It meant that the appropriate thing for them to do was to humble themselves and enroll as Jesus’ apprentices, so that they could learn about God and His kingdom through His teaching and His example. And, if that were true, it meant that the Pharisees had to admit that they were wrong. And they weren’t about to do that!

Father, it is sad when I see someone who is willfully blind like those Pharisees, who cannot see Your works for what they truly are, and who will not see You for who You truly are. Save us, Lord, from all such blindness. Instead, help all of us, Your people, to see You and Your kingdom every day, and to share in Your power every moment, just like Jesus. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – November 9, 2017

Luke 10:21 (NIV) At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

The seventy-two disciples Jesus had sent out had been successful in their mission. God’s power and authority had flowed through them freely, and disease and evil spirits had fled. To Jesus, this felt like a ray of bright light after many discouraging episodes, and it caused Him to break into spontaneous prayers of praise.

The wise and learned that Jesus referred to in His prayer were the high priests, the leaders of the people, and the teachers of the law. All of these were admired at the time as people of great wisdom and insight, whose lives were dedicated to following every one of God’s commands in excruciating detail. But in all of their wisdom, in all of their studying, in all of their supposed spiritual maturity, they had no relationship with God, demonstrated by their complete lack of power and spiritual authority. None of them was able to cast out a demon, heal a disease, or do any other miracle, large or small.

Jesus’ disciples, on the other hand, considered spiritually immature by these same elders and leaders, had great spiritual power and spiritual authority, given to them by Jesus Himself. That power and authority, and the miracles that they were able to do, were a clear sign that these men were in relationship with God, albeit a relationship moderated by Jesus at that stage of the game.

God longed to have that same kind of relationship with all of His people, the elders and leaders included, to be able to instill in all of them the same spiritual power and authority that the disciples of Jesus showed. But the elders and leaders were so confident of their standing with God by virtue of their position and their knowledge of the Scriptures, that they were completely unwilling to receive God’s Messiah, Jesus, when he came to them. Rather than see His power and miraculous abilities as a sign of His superior spiritual maturity and of His strong relationship with God, they wrote Him off as an uneducated rube, and His miraculous abilities as signs that He was in league with the devil!

So the simple truths that Jesus was teaching, truths about the here-and-now reality of the kingdom of God, and about the ability of ALL of God’s people to have a new kind of relationship with God through the work of Jesus was hidden from them, and revealed freely to those who simply accepted Jesus and His teachings at face value.

Father, thank You for not putting either the truths of Your kingdom or access to your power and authority on a top shelf somewhere, out of the reach of all but scholars and theologians. Thank You for revealing them clearly to simple, regular people, to spiritual children, like me. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – November 6, 2017

Luke 10:13-15 (NIV) “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.”

With great exposure to truth comes great responsibility to respond to that graciously revealed truth. And refusal to respond to the truth that God reveals to people carries with it great penalty.

The people of the towns listed here by Jesus, Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, had witnessed Jesus’ miracles in great quantities. Capernaum, especially singled out here by Jesus, had experienced more than the other two, because Capernaum was Jesus’ base of operations. He had spent far more time there, so he had done more miracles there.

It would be tempting for the people of someplace like Capernaum to try to establish a reputation based on Jesus’ presence alone; declaring that they must be a really great spiritual place because Jesus had chosen them to be His home base. It would be tempting for the people of Korazin and Bethsaida to tell about the miracles that Jesus did in their town, and to repeat the stories and teachings that they had heard from Jesus’ lips, and take pleasure in listening to the people they were talking to ooh and aah, wishing that they had been there to see and hear those things.

But those towns had not responded properly, either to Jesus’ presence, or to the miracles that He did. The proper response was to recognize God’s presence in Jesus, and to repent and get their lives back in line with His commandments. In fact, that was Jesus’ core message as He went about preaching, teaching, and healing (Matthew 4:17). But these people hadn’t repented; they hadn’t forsaken their sins; they hadn’t readjusted their lives. Instead, they had just laid additional expectations on Jesus to meet their needs with still more miracles, showing very clearly the hardness of their hearts.

Father, we can walk dangerously close to that same mindset, coming to You with our prayer lists day after day, but being unwilling to adjust our lives to Your requirements. When we do see answers, it doesn’t often fill us with holy awe. Instead it tends to feed our desire to bring You requests for more and greater miracles. Help me, Lord, to receive answers to my requests, and to read and hear Your teachings with a deep, heart-searching humility that leads me ever closer to Your heart. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – October 27, 2017

Luke 10:1-3 (NIV) After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”

Jesus had earlier sent the twelve out ahead of Him. But the work was getting more and more urgent the closer that He got to Jerusalem, and he needed His followers to pave the way for His own arrival in each town and village along His way.

This time He sent out seventy-two in pairs. He began by telling them to pray for more workers, as the available workers (the twelve) were too few to get to everyone that needed reaching. No sooner had He instructed them to pray, He informed them that they themselves were the answer to their own prayers. They were praying for more workers, so Jesus was sending them.

It is very often the case that the people praying to God for solutions are themselves the answer to their own prayers. We saw this earlier in the feeding of the five thousand: “Send the crowd away so they can…find food and lodging.” “You give them something to eat.” Luke 9:12-13a) We look at our own small resources and lack of power, and plead with God to do something about the situation. But if God is truly with us (an assumption we make in the first place when we pray to Him), then it is entirely likely that WE, empowered and supplied by God’s grace, are the solution to the problem we are praying about. Often what is needed is not someone praying for a bolt from the blue, but someone willing to pray, “Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8b) “I will feed them with Your resources. I will pronounce healing for their bodies in Your power. I will command the demon to flee in Your authority. I will provide clothing for them from my excess. I will provide shelter for them in my spare room. I will buy them a tank of gas from the resources with which You have entrusted me.”

Father, this is true. In the realest sense possible, we, as Your people, have all been called to continue Jesus’ ministry, to go ahead of Him in our world to prepare the people for Him to enter their hearts, and to be His hands, His feet, His voice to all of those around us. To meet their needs in the same way that Jesus did, with the power and authority that He has instilled into our hearts. Help me to be bold and powerful in obeying Your call on my life, no matter where that call may take me. Here I am. Send me.

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Today’s Scripture – October 19, 2017

Luke 9:49-50 (NIV) “Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

The disciples were feeling good to be part of a very privileged group – not only chosen out of all of Jesus’ followers to be His inner circle (and thus almost certainly destined for greatness), but also specifically invested by Jesus with authority to do miracles and cast out demons (Luke 9:1-2).

But when they saw someone driving out demons in the name of Jesus (and being successful at it!), that exclusivity felt threatened. If just anyone could invoke Jesus’ name and cast demons out, it would make their own abilities less special, and perhaps their positions less secure. (After all, the majority of them had just spectacularly failed to drive out a demon!)

Jesus’ answer was surprising: “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” They didn’t understand it then, but Jesus knew that it would only be a few weeks before the tide of public opinion would rapidly turn against Jesus and against His followers, and then it would be to their definite advantage to have others in their corner.

Jesus was looking at the larger picture. If somebody was casting out demons in His name, that was an indication that that person had faith in Jesus’ name, and would not quickly turn against Him or His followers (Mark 9:39-40). Like Moses before Him, Jesus longed to see the day when all people were filled with the Holy Spirit, and able to do amazing things (Numbers 11:29). That would be the ideal, the sign that the kingdom of God had really reached the whole of humanity.

But the disciples were only seeing a very small picture, which had their personal advancement at its center. That would change after the day of Pentecost, but in the meantime, Jesus had to keep urging them to see things differently .

Father, in Your kingdom there is no place for us to build our own kingdoms. In Your kingdom there is no exclusiveness and no cliques, but an open door for all who will trust in You for salvation, and who are willing to obey You as Lord. In Your kingdom, we are all valuable parts of Your one body, all with different callings and abilities, but no one more important or with a more direct line to you than another (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Help me to live out that reality today. Amen.

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