Tag Archives: miracles

Today’s Scripture – September 28, 2019

Acts 20:7-12 (NIV)
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

This episode all began when Paul, trying to cram as much instructional time as possible in before he left in the morning for Syria, had no end time planned for the class meeting.

People were soaking in all he was teaching and were asking many questions, so Paul kept teaching and answering with no end in sight. The room was lit with many lamps, as Luke points out, making the room acceptably bright, but also smoky and warm.

Eutychus, who was drowsy due to the lateness of the hour, had decided to sit on the windowsill of the upper room to get some fresh air and to catch the occasional cool breeze. But he was still nodding off and jerking awake from time to time.

Finally, at about midnight, Eutychus fell into a deep sleep, and when his body fully relaxed, he went toppling out of the third-floor window. Those standing nearby saw him go, and shouted as they raced down the stairs, followed by all the rest gathered in the room.

When they reached him, they found him dead, no pulse, zero breath. A wail rose up from his friends and family, a wail that was soon picked up by several others in the group.

But then came Paul. He pushed through the group, his prayer even then on his lips and his ears listening intently for the voice of the Lord, which he soon heard clearly. He bent over the still body, wrapped his arms around him, and proclaimed the Lord’s message to all those gathered there: “Don’t be alarmed. He’s alive!”

And sure enough, it was so. Eutychus opened his eyes, his face growing a bit troubled by the sight of the crowd gathered all around him. His family and friends gasped, dried their tears, and helped him back upstairs, where they found him a seat (away from the window) as Paul continue to teach until morning.

Some debate whether Eutychus was actually dead, or just unconscious. But the people in that time and place knew death when they saw it, and they knew that this young man was unquestionably dead. Add to that the fact that Luke, careful reporter that he was, had adequate skill to communicate the error in perception if one had occurred, but clearly reports that the young man “was picked up dead.”

The fact that he was dead, but then raised to life was no great surprise to those who knew God. God is able to raise the dead in an instant. He did so in the days of the apostles and is still able to do so today.

Father, it is sad sometimes to see how we will doubt the words of the witnesses present at miracles, based on nothing more than our own opinions of what is possible or likely. But it is clear that Luke only included this particular event in his record because it was a mighty miracle. Thank You for Your power working through Your people, the same power that You can and do use today. Amen.

If you are enjoying my blog, I invite you to check out my book, When We Listen, A Devotional Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Just follow this url: https://www.amazon.com/When-We-Listen-Devotional-Commentary/dp/198668153X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=when+listen+robertson&qid=1569731760&s=gateway&sr=8-1 Thanks, and God bless you all!

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Today’s Scripture – September 2, 2019

Acts 19:8-12 (NIV)
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Paul’s process of going first to the synagogues in the cities he went to and preaching to the Jews was not just a process or a formula. He cared very deeply for the Jewish people, wherever they lived. He wanted with all his heart to save them by bringing the gospel to them in a way that they could grasp. (Romans 9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 9:19-20) And it was always a great sorrow to him when they rejected the gospel and the Savior at its heart.

In this case, Paul worked with the Jews for three long months, reasoning with them, preaching to them, even pleading with them to receive Jesus and be saved. But even though he had some success, some fruit among them, there were others whose rejection ultimately became abuse. At that point, Paul’s response was to leave and set up meetings in the public spaces in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. Those who believed left with him.

God was gracious to Paul, empowering him to heal, cast out demons, and do other amazing miracles. As with Jesus and the first apostles, these miracles were never an end in themselves. Neither were they merely “good works” done for the benefit of the people. Instead, they were signs that the kingdom of God that Paul preached was a reality. It made the spiritual truth visible, the theology tangible.

Paul never lost track of the purpose behind the power. He rejected outright any self-aggrandizement that people tried to impose on him, always pointing people past himself to the Savior and Lord who made the miracles possible.

Father, sometimes I wonder if the reason that we don’t see more of Your miracles today is that we have lost track of what they are for. We pray for our own needs (and wants), we plead for healing for ourselves or those we care about, but we really have no plan to use the miracles that we see or that answers that You give to grow Your kingdom. We tend to see the answers, the miracles, as ends in themselves, certainly praiseworthy, but not as tools to empower our witness. Help us, Lord, to see things differently, to see them the way Paul did, and to keep our focus not just on praising You for what You have done, but on growing Your kingdom in Your strength and power. Amen.

If you are enjoying my blog, I invite you to check out my book, When We Listen, A Devotional Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Just follow this url: http://eagerpress.webstarts.com/ Thanks, and God bless you all!

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Today’s Scripture – July 22, 2019

Acts 16:25-34 (NIV)
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God–he and his whole family.

The jailer had known the charges against Paul and Silas: they were Jews who were advocating the worship of other gods. And, as he locked them up, he had heard them talk and testify about Jesus. The jail was attached to his house, so that he could hear all that went on, and as he fell asleep, he heard the pair talking about Jesus with the other prisoners, heard them praying, and heard them singing hymns.

Suddenly, he was jolted out of sleep by a strong earthquake. He looked over and noticed that the door to the prison was standing wide open, something that an earthquake could not have done, as it had been securely locked and bolted.

As he walked over to take a look, all he could think about was how terrible this was! The prisoners were his responsibility, and if any of them had escaped, he would be interrogated to see if he had been in cahoots with whoever had broken into the prison. Then he would likely be executed, his whole family disgraced by being associated with a traitor to the empire!

As he stood in the door, his form was silhouetted against the light of the room. The inner doors of the prison cells had been thrown open at the time of the earthquake, and all the prisoners’ chains had unlocked and fallen to the floor at the same moment. Looking up, Paul could see the outline of the jailer as he drew his sword and pointed it at his own chest. Paul intuited what was happening and called out to stop him. Yes, all the doors had been opened, not by jailbreakers, but by a miracle. But no one had left; they were all still there.

The jailer dropped his sword in amazement. No earthly force could possibly have accomplished what he was seeing! As he went down and saw all the prisoners’ chains laying open on the floor, his mind went to the only possible explanation: the “foreign gods” of Paul and Silas, this Jesus they had been going on and on about, were all real, and had opened the prison and set everyone free.

He fell to his knees and asked the most important question any human being could possibly ask: “What must I do to be saved?”

The formula was the same for everyone: Jew and gentile, old and young, male and female, slave and free: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” The addendum, “You and your household,” did not mean that this man’s faith would save the others in his family, but that this salvation was not for him alone, but could come to everyone in his household.

The jailer got the whole family and all the servants out of bed, and they all listened as Paul and Silas told everyone about Jesus while the jailer treated the welts on their backs. They all believed, especially in light of the miracle of the earthquake and all that it had done. So, as soon as the jailer was done cleaning and dressing their wounds, the whole household was immediately baptized.

Father, Your miracle not only opened the doors of the jail, it opened the hearts of the jailer and his household to the good news of the kingdom and to faith in Jesus. Paul and Silas and the rest could have fled, but they looked for what Your real purpose was for the earthquake, and they found it immediately. They saved the jailer, body and soul, and were able to bring him and his whole household into Your kingdom. Help me, Lord, to always look to You before I simply respond to circumstances, so that I always have the opportunity to glorify You with my every action. Amen.

If you are enjoying my blog, I invite you to check out my book, When We Listen, A Devotional Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Just follow this url: http://eagerpress.webstarts.com/ Thanks, and God bless you all!

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Today’s Scripture – May 2, 2019

Acts 9:36-43 (NIV)
In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”
Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

Tabitha (Aramaic) or Dorcas (Greek), both of which mean “gazelle,” was a hard-working disciple doing compassionate ministry work in the coastal town of Joppa. When she got sick and died, the Christian community was heartbroken, and really felt that she had been taken far too soon.

They heard that Peter was in Lydda, just a 12-mile trip from Joppa, and they sent two young men to run the whole way and ask him to come to them right away. They did not set Peter’s agenda, simply asking him to come at once and depending on him to hear and obey whatever God’s will was.

When Peter arrived later that day, he was taken to the upstairs room where Dorcas was laid out. The group of widows who had worked with Dorcas, some of whom had found salvation through her ministry to them, showed Peter some of the things she had made, and told him how she had ministered so effectively to so many.

Peter was touched, but he knew that what happened next was not his to decide. So, he sent everyone out of the room. Once they were gone and the room was quiet, he faced the window and knelt to pray. His prayer was not for Dorcas, but for himself. He needed to know what God wanted him to do in this situation. Once he knew that, he could take obedient action, but not before.

God answered quickly, telling him to simply tell the woman to get up. So, Peter got up, turned to the body lying on the bed, and spoke God’s words to her: “Tabitha, get up.”

At once she opened her eyes and looked around, a little confused. Then she saw Peter standing near her and sat up, startled. But Peter’s smile and the light that seemed to shine from his face set her at ease, and she let him help her to her feet. Peter then called down the stair to the group waiting and praying. They came up, saw Dorcas standing with Peter, and were overjoyed that their prayers had been answered.

This mighty miracle was talked about all over the region and served to open the hearts of many people to the good news of the kingdom. Peter himself decided to stay in Joppa for a while, living in the upstairs guest room of Simon the tanner.

Father, even Peter did not simply decide what he wanted You to do and then direct You to do it. He lived as Jesus did, only doing what You told him to do (John 5:19) and doing it fully and immediately. If he didn’t know what You wanted him to do, he stopped and asked, and then waited until he heard. That’s a much different (and much better) model than what many of us have been taught: trying to persuade You with polished prayers and pious phrasing to do what we, in our limited humanness, have decided that You should do. Lord, help me, when faced with any situation, to pray first, then to listen, and only to act after we have heard from You, and always acting in accordance with Your commands. Amen.

If you are enjoying my blog, I invite you to check out my book, When We Listen, A Devotional Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Just follow this url: http://eagerpress.webstarts.com/ Thanks, and God bless you all!

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Today’s Scripture – May 1, 2019

Acts 9:32-35 (NIV)
As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

There was already a Christian community in Lydda, about twelve miles inland from Joppa, when Peter came into town. No record is given as to how the seeds of the gospel were first planted there, but the most natural explanation is that some Lyddans were in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and were saved and baptized under Peter’s ministry. When they returned, they brought with them the good news of the kingdom, and their families and friends believed based on their testimony.

But there was still a sizeable population in and around Lydda that either hadn’t heard or hadn’t believed. Solid theological arguments are often unconvincing to the spiritually deaf. Even the testimony of a transformed life can be less than impressive to those who don’t know a person well enough to see the difference.

But when Peter came, the Holy Spirit prompted him to do something that no one would be able to argue with. Aeneas had been paralyzed and bed-ridden for eight long years. In that time, many doctors had taken a shot at curing him, but nothing they did made any difference.

But Peter simply walked up to his bedside, and without any elaborate prayers or rituals, simply guided by the Holy Spirit, told him to get up and roll up the mat he had been lying on. And that’s all it took. In that moment, Aeneas was healed and strengthened. He got up for the first time in eight years and rolled up his mat.

Those who saw the miracle, and many more who knew Aeneas and heard or saw that he had been healed, may not have immediately believed, but they were now open to the gospel. And Peter preached, and taught, and led them into the open gates of the kingdom.

Father, a powerful miracle really can open doors that seem impregnable and touch hearts that seem immovable. And that’s true, not just in the days of the apostles, but in our day as well. A clear demonstration of Your power shows not only Your reality, but points clearly to Your character and Your almighty strength as well. Help me to be open to Your working a miracle through me today, and to eagerly listen to the voice of Your Spirit guiding me as to when, where and how. And when You have acted, free my lips to clearly proclaim the good news of Your kingdom, and to show people how they can be part of it. Amen.

If you are enjoying my blog, I invite you to check out my book, When We Listen, A Devotional Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Just follow this url: http://eagerpress.webstarts.com/ Thanks, and God bless you all!

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Today’s Scripture – April 24, 2019

Acts 8:30-40 (NIV)
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

God had been right. As Philip approached the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch, he heard him reading a familiar passage from Isaiah 53:7-8, a portion of the “suffering servant” prophecy, a passage that the apostles taught had foreshadowed the suffering and death of Jesus. And he knew exactly what he needed to do.

Philips first words to the eunuch were a question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” Implied in the question was the idea that Philip did understand the passage and was willing to help the eunuch understand it as well.

To those seeking the truth, a trustworthy guide is always welcome. So, the man accepted Philip’s implied offer and invited him to ride along in the chariot while they talked.

Philip began with the passage the eunuch had been reading, and explained how Jesus had fulfilled the prophecy, and why it was important. He also went back to the middle of chapter 52 of Isaiah, and read the whole passage in its context, all the way to the end of chapter 53, to show the man the substitutionary character of Jesus’ suffering and death, as well as the prophecy of His victorious resurrection (Isaiah 53:10-11). He followed this with a litany of Jesus’ miracles and some of His teachings about the now-present kingdom of God that many were coming into through faith in Jesus.

It was right then that they came to an oasis beside the road, and the eunuch asked exactly the right question: “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” He had believed in Jesus as Philip shared, and he wanted to come into the kingdom of God and live there forever. His faith was evident, so Philip baptized him on the spot.

Some have seen a mystery or a miracle in the next couple of verses, with Philip disappearing with a poof and appearing with another poof in Azotus. But all Luke is saying is that once the eunuch was baptized, Philip declined to go further with him, because the Spirit was calling him to his next assignment. And the next place that he stopped and taught was in Azotus, the old Philistine city of Ashdod near the coast just a few miles north of Gaza. He taught there, and then continued to teach in towns along the coast until he got to Caesarea south of Haifa, where he settled (Acts 21:8-9).

Father, this whole episode shows me once again the importance of following Your guidance whenever and however it comes. Philip heard Your voice and responded, and the eunuch was led into the kingdom. Tradition tells us that many more Ethiopians came to faith in Jesus through the eunuch’s testimony when he returned home. And then You led Philip north along the coast into territories yet unreached by the gospel, and you enabled a harvest of souls in those areas as well. Your plan is always to use Your people to reach others with the good news of Your kingdom. Thank You for letting me be part of that plan. Amen.

If you are enjoying my blog, I invite you to check out my book, When We Listen, A Devotional Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Just follow this url: http://eagerpress.webstarts.com/ Thanks, and God bless you all!

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Today’s Scripture – April 18, 2019

Acts 8:9-13 (NIV)
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

Simon was someone who today would be called a magician. That is, he performed tricks and “wonders” not by power, even demonic power, but merely through illusion and sleight of hand. But, just like the street magicians of today, the “tricks” that he did caused people to believe that there was real supernatural force behind his ability.

But when Philip came to town and began doing real miracles, the people turned away from Simon, believed in the Jesus that Philip preached and were baptized. It is one thing to be able to make a coin disappear and reappear, but it is a different thing altogether to heal the sick and infirm and to cast out demons, leaving the formerly possessed person sane and healthy.

Even Simon was amazed by what Philip could do. He watched his every movement, listened to his every word, as only a person trained in magic can do, and he detected not the smallest amount of trickery or deceit. Not only that, but he knew many of the people whom Philip healed and delivered. He knew that these were not plants placed in the crowd to fake a healing, but genuinely disabled people whom Philip healed with a word or a touch.

This led Simon to believe and be baptized. He wasn’t entirely sure about Jesus, but he was convinced that somehow Philip had discovered a way to tap into real power, power that Simon always wanted, always claimed to have, but that he himself knew was only a sham, a ruse designed to gain authority and notoriety for himself. This mystery made Simon a follower, not of Jesus exactly, but of Philip. He followed Philip everywhere he went in an effort to discover the secret to Philip’s great power.

Father, we have seen before that the purpose of miracles is not for the comfort or convenience of Christians but is to attract attention to Your reality and Your power, and to give credibility to the gospel as it is shared by Your people. But sometimes people in search of power are attracted by the power and not by the message. It was so in Jesus’ day, in the days of the early Church, and in our times as well, and betrays hearts “full of bitterness and captive to sin” (Acts 8:23) in those who are lured merely by the promise of power. Lord, keep our hearts pure and free from that kind of captivity. Instead, help us to always and only seek You through our relationship with Jesus, so that You can be free to do mighty acts and to speak powerfully through us. Amen.

If you are enjoying my blog, I invite you to check out my book, When We Listen, A Devotional Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Just follow this url: http://eagerpress.webstarts.com/ Thanks, and God bless you all!

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