Tag Archives: miracles

Today’s Scripture – August 7, 2017

Luke 6:17-19 (NIV) He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

When most people think of Jesus’ disciples, they picture the Twelve. But there were actually multitudes who followed Him as disciples. Jesus had selected the Twelve out of all of those who followed Him to be His inner circle and, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, to lead the work of continuing to grow the kingdom after His departure.

But in the meantime, ALL of His disciples needed to learn more about the kingdom, how it operated, and what the people of the kingdom were to be like. But before He taught them, He saw to the needs of those who had come from all around the area to be healed of their diseases or to be set free from evil spirits.

Notice that the healing of the people and setting them free from evil influences was not a separate thing from Jesus teaching them about the kingdom. The two went hand in glove. Jesus, the very embodiment of the kingdom, healed the people and set them free as a sign that God’s kingdom was becoming a reality right in front to them. Then He taught them what the kingdom was all about, and how to live in it.

Later, after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, and after the Holy Spirit filled His followers on the day of Pentecost, the disciples often used the same process: they healed someone, or several people, and when a crowd had gathered, they used the miracle that had been done as a springboard to tell the people about Jesus and about the kingdom of God, and how to live in it. And, because of the power that was being demonstrated through the lives of these men, the people listened and believed, and great numbers flocked into the kingdom.

Father, thank You for this example from Jesus. Lord, we need that same power flowing through our lives today to help us to be powerful and effective witnesses of Your kingdom. Sadly, the lives of many people who go by the name of Christian are very little different than the lives of those we are trying to reach with the gospel; very little different in power, in purity, or in Your evident presence. So we are often seen as offering nothing to these people that they don’t already have. Those first disciples’ lives were of a completely different kind, a different quality than the lives of those around them due to the presence of Your Holy Spirit. And that difference was immediately apparent to everyone around them. Lord, unleash Your Holy Spirit in my life today, so that the whole world can see the difference, and hunger for You, the One who makes that difference. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – July 27, 2017

Luke 5:21-26 (NIV) The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

The place where Jesus was teaching was filled with people, quite a few of them Pharisees and scribes, or teachers of the law. This was quite early in Jesus’ ministry, and these religious leaders were still trying to figure out what to make of Him. So they came to where He was, listened to His teachings, and asked penetrating questions.

These men were stunned when Jesus told the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.” This was not a simple platitude that anyone could say, like, “God loves you.” This, to them, was a clear pronouncement of forgiveness, something that only God Himself was authorized to do. For Jesus, whom they considered a mere man, to take that divine prerogative on Himself was a clear example of blasphemy, an offense that carried the penalty of death by stoning.

None of them said any of this out loud, but all of them were thinking it. Before that conversation could start, however, Jesus called them on what was going on in their minds. (The fact that He could tell them what they were thinking freaked them out a lot, too!) The question on the table was one of authority: did Jesus have God-given authority to pronounce sins forgiven? If not, then to do so was clearly blasphemy, and had to be confronted as such. If so, then that would be tantamount to Jesus claiming to be God.

Jesus presented His argument as a test of sorts. It was very easy to tell someone that their sins were forgiven. On the surface it was simply a matter of words; there was no outward sign that would prove that the forgiveness had indeed taken place.

On the other hand, it was a much more difficult thing to pronounce someone healed of paralysis. If they couldn’t then get up and walk home, the healing didn’t happen, and the healer’s authority over the infirmity was conclusively disproved.

So Jesus’ solution was simple. He would do the hard thing, the thing that was visible, as proof that He also had authority to do the easier thing, the invisible thing, of pronouncing sins forgiven. And before any debate could begin, He did exactly that. He commanded the paralytic to get up, pick up his mat, and walk home.

All eyes turned to the paralytic. After only a moment, the man sat up with wonder in his eyes at his own ability to do so. Then he stood to his feet for the first time in ages, bent over and picked up his mat, and walked out in full view of everyone, praising God the whole way.

The crowd, including the Pharisees and teachers of the law, had no idea what to do with this. It was not only an outstanding miracle, it also threw the whole question of who this man really was open to unthinkable possibilities. It tore open theological compartments that these religious leaders had long believed to be hermetically sealed and settled.

Father, we can be equally rigid in our theology, unwilling to accept any new light or fresh insights that You want to show us, because they might throw out of kilter what we already believe. So we miss out on knowing You better and more completely as we grow. Help me, Lord, to always stick completely to Your word, but to always be open to new insights into Your word that You want to share. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – July 16, 2017

Luke 4:38-41 (NIV) Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.

First Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath, and while there, a demon showed itself in a man, and was cast out. Then Jesus went to Simon’s house, His home base in Capernaum, only to find that Simon’s mother-in-law had a high fever, which was potentially life-threatening. True to His normal methodology, Jesus didn’t pray for the woman, or anoint her with oil, or do any kind of ceremonies. He simply spoke a word of rebuke to the fever, and it went away, leaving the mother-in-law not only healthy and strong, but energetic enough to get up and serve them.

At sunset the Sabbath was over, and the devout of Capernaum felt free to bring their sick family members and friends to Jesus to be healed. There were lots of sicknesses and disabilities that Jesus healed with a simple touch, bringing the powerful wholeness of the kingdom of God into contact with the unwholeness in those bodies. And when that contact happened, it was no contest; the wholeness completely replaced the unwholeness in every body and mind, making the people well.

When those controlled by demons were brought to Jesus, there was no need for ceremonies or rituals, and no power struggle. Jesus simply commanded the demons to leave as He did the demon in the man at the synagogue, and they left. Some of the demons tried to blow Jesus’ cover by identifying Him as the Son of God and the Messiah as they were leaving, but Jesus rebuked them and forbade them to speak.

The work that Jesus was doing was incredible. Nothing was too complicated for Him to resolve; nothing was too difficult for Him to heal; no demon was strong enough to defy Him or resist His commands. People came to Him sick, disabled, broken,, and oppressed, and all of them left whole.

Father, we are so easily intimidated by dreaded diseases or by hard cases that seem to be beyond even Your ability to heal. So we end up praying with doubt in our hearts and fear in our minds, and just hope that You will be able to do something. How unlike Jesus we are! He was always so connected to You that there was a constant flow of Your power, Your wholeness flowing through Him, so that nothing was too hard or challenging. Lord, we need that kind of powerful connection to You in our own lives today. Our world is so broken, and the people all around us so in need of the wholeness that only You can bring into their lives. Flow through us, Lord, so that we, like Jesus our model, can bring Your touch of wholeness to those broken people, and thus glorify Your name and expand Your kingdom. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – June 8, 2017

Luke 1:34-38 (NIV) “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Some point to a similarity between Mary’s question of Gabriel and that of Zechariah (1:18). They then try to explain the disparate treatment that the two of them received. But the questions are not actually that similar. Zechariah wanted proof, some sign that would overpower his doubts that God could accomplish what He was promising to do, while Mary was simply asking about the “how”: How was God going to accomplish this pregnancy, since she was a virgin.

That was a reasonable question. In the history of the world it had always taken the union of a man and a woman to produce another human being. Even in miraculous births like Isaac, Samson, Samuel, and even John, the miracle was that God enable the natural methods of conception to work for those who were sterile, past the age of child bearing, or both. Mary was expecting Gabriel to tell her that either she needed to move her marriage to Joseph up – awkward and suspicious-looking to the rest of the village, or that the Messiah would be conceived later, after the marriage took place. The latter seemed less likely based on the urgency and immediacy of the angel’s announcement.

But there was a third option that no one would ever have considered. God was doing a completely new thing. The child to be born, Jesus, the Messiah, would be a real human being, hence the need for a human mother. But He would also be fully divine. Therefore, Mary’s pregnancy would be initiated supernaturally, through the power of the Holy Spirit, not by the uniting of sperm and egg.

Even though Mary said nothing at first, Gabriel knew that her mind had been thrown into confusion by this whole scenario. It seemed to impossible, even for God to do (and it had never been done that way before!). So he laid out the evidence of Elizabeth’s miraculously enabled pregnancy, something that no one would have believed possible at her advanced age. For Mary, this was like a Bible story come to life and, even though Elizabeth’s pregnancy had not been initiated like her own would be, it settled in her heart an assurance that it really could be done as Gabriel was promising.

As said before, Mary was a righteous devout young woman, completely devoted to God. As such, she would never consider saying no to something that was so clearly His will for her. Even though she knew that this whole thing would undoubtedly cause complications for her, even in her relationship with Joseph, she trusted that God would protect her, and the He would be able to make everything work out right.

So she said yes. And, at that moment, Gabriel vanished, and the work was done in her body. The reality of the Messiah had begun!

Father, it is much easier to trust and believe Your promises, and even Your callings on our lives, when we can see or reason out how You could make it happen. It’s harder to trust when Your promise or calling seems impossible to our finite minds, when the way ahead seems dark. Help me to take Mary as my model in those times – to be someone who cannot ever imagine saying no to Your will, so who simply says yes, trusting You implicitly to work out all of the details and to provide every necessary thing on the way. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – June 6, 2017

Luke 1:18-25 (NIV) Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.” Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak. When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

The fact that Zechariah and Elizabeth were going to have a son was amazing news – unbelievable, since they were both well advanced in years. So, despite his years of praying, and his years of hope that his prayers would be answered, Zechariah’s faith was sorely lacking. Even with an angel making him the promise, he was unwilling to simply believe and receive.

Faith, action spurred by belief in God’s promise is essential for those who would receive any promised blessings. God had selected Zechariah and Elizabeth, and He could foresee that they could both be brought to a place where they would believe and act, but Zechariah was going to need a strong push in the right direction. The silencing of his voice was not as much punishment as it was a form of the proof that he was asking for – albeit an inconvenient form of proof. But it had the benefit that it was something that he could not deny or explain away. One moment he could speak, and the next, no sound came out, no matter how hard he tried.

Faith is vital for those who would participate with God in what He is doing, as well as for those who are simply looking for blessing, because in both cases, there is always a part for the participant or seeker to play, even if it is simply going and washing in a pool (John 9:7), or holding out one’s hand (Mark 3:5), or taking up a mat and walking home (Luke 5:24), and without faith people simply will not act. They will always be second-guessing what God tells them to do, acting timidly, or completely refusing to act out of fear that God won’t hold up His end of the deal.

When Zechariah came out of the temple, he wanted so badly to share what he had seen and heard, but he couldn’t make a sound, and waving his arms around didn’t communicate anything more than the fact that he had experienced something amazing while he was in the temple.

After he returned home to Elizabeth, he was eventually able to communicate to her what had happened. It took her a short time to really allow her heart to believe – she had often been disappointed in the past. But soon she was convinced, and was willing to give it one more shot. And, through their faith, their actions spurred by belief in God’s promise, she was enabled to finally become pregnant. She stayed out of the public eye for five months, long enough to convince her that the pregnancy would not miscarry, but the whole time she knew that she was at last being blessed with her heart’s desire.

Father, when I pray, help me never to do so with even the smallest doubt that you will actually accomplish what I am praying for – even more so when You give me the assurance that You will do what I am asking. Instead, keep my heart always hopeful and optimistic so that I will immediately act in faith to do any part of Your plan that You allot to me, without any fear or doubt.

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Today’s Scripture – May 27, 2017

Matthew 27:62-66 (NIV) The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The chief priests and Pharisees had two big problems. First, they refused to accept Jesus for who He claimed to be, in spite of His mighty and inexplicable miracles, including such things as healing a man born blind (John 9), and resurrecting a man who had been dead for four days (John 11). They fully believed that when God did send the Messiah, He would do things their way, and would fully agree with their own ideologies. Since Jesus didn’t do those things, they rejected Him as the Messiah, despite all of the other signs that He performed.

Their second problem was that they had no idea of what God was actually able to do. The miracles in their Scriptures had become for them more like a mythology since, as far as they could tell, He didn’t do mighty miracles any more. (The miracles of Jesus they attributed to another source entirely – see Matthew 12:24.) Their religion was not a walk with God in power, but had degraded to dry forms, without any power at all.

Therefore, when it came time to deal with Jesus’ prophesied resurrection, the only means that they could think of that something like that could be pulled off in the “real world” was deception. His students could break into the tomb and steal the body, then show people the empty tomb and claim that He had been raised. It never entered their closed minds or hard hearts that Jesus could actually rise from the dead for real.

So they determined to use the best “real world” solution that they could think of: an imperial guard. When the soldiers of Rome were assigned to guard something, they guarded it with their lives. Pilate was easily persuaded to assign a guard. To be honest, he simply wanted all of this to go away. If guarding the tomb for seventy-two hours would stop all of the lunacy surrounding Jesus, then so be it.

Of course, God is not intimidated by earthly guards, or even whole armies or nations. Despite the fact that these Jewish leaders slept well that night, believing that they had done all that was necessary to prevent Jesus’ “resurrection,” before they woke the next morning, Jesus would be alive, the seal on the stone would be smashed by angelic power, and the imperial guard would be running to the city in complete terror.

Father, You are the Sovereign God, and what You determine to do will be done, no matter who tries to stand in Your way! The mightiest force on earth at the time couldn’t stop Your plan, and the mightiest forces on earth now or in the future can’t stop it either. Thank You for Your mighty power, and for Your ultimate unstoppable plan, which includes eternal life for all of Your people. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – January 27, 2017

Matthew 16:1-4 (NIV) The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.  A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.

Despite Jesus’ long record of miracles, some of which they themselves saw (and objected to because they were done on the Sabbath), these religious leaders came to Jesus and demanded a miraculous sign from Him on the spot to prove Himself to them.

Jesus could easily have done anything these men requested of Him.  But that wasn’t really the point being pushed.  They refused to believe in Jesus, refused to hear His teachings, and refused to give Him any credibility, because all of that would have the potential to undermine their own authority.  They didn’t want Him to actually perform a miraculous sign; they wanted Him to fail to do a sign so that they could write Him off.  Or they wanted Him to refuse to do a sign so that they could spin it to mean that He wouldn’t because He couldn’t.

But Jesus wasn’t into playing games with these men, or allowing them to control the agenda by making Him jump to their tune.  He had His agenda straight from God Himself, and it was both important and urgent.  He would not allow Himself to be distracted by His enemies.  Besides, if they wouldn’t believe on the basis of the miracles He had already done, one more wouldn’t convince them.

So He refused.  Or, more correctly, He used a parable to show them their own obtuseness.  They had learned over the years to know what the weather would be by the signs in the sky, because they had seen numerous red skies at night and experienced a pleasant day the next day.  They had seen red, angry looking skies in the morning, and had slogged through storms before the day was over.  Past performance assured them of future results.

But they refused to apply the same standards to Jesus.  They knew from direct observation, as well as the testimonies of others, that Jesus was able to do astounding miracles, many of them every day.  There was no illness or disability that He had not been able to heal, no demon he had been unable to cast out, no crowd he was unable to feed.  He even calmed storms with a word, and walked on water!  But they always demanded one more sign, in the hopes that He might fail THIS time.  They were unwilling to accept any of His past performance.

The sign of Jonah, which Jesus promised them that they WOULD see, was His rising from the dead on the third day (cf. Matthew 12:40).  There is also a sense in which Jonah himself was a sign to the Ninevites after his “resurrection” from the belly of the great fish.  He came from that experience in the power of God with a demand for repentance, and a threat of destruction for those who refused (cf. Luke 11:29-32).  Jesus was warning that if these men refused to believe His message, especially after His resurrection, the same kind of destruction awaited them (and was actually delivered in AD 70!).

Father, help us to always give ourselves to You and to Your agenda fully, with no reservations, and without demanding any “signs” before we will take You at Your word.  You have already done more than enough for us in our past to enable us to rely on You for our future.  Help us instead to be a testimony to others as each day we trust in You, and allow You to work through us.  Amen.

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