Tag Archives: miracles

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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Today’s Scripture – April 16, 2019

Acts 8:5-8 (NIV)
Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. So there was great joy in that city.

As an example of the scattered disciples preaching the word wherever they went, Luke focuses on Philip, one of the seven, “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3), and a coworker with Stephen. Some would have been scandalized at Philip’s going to the Samaritans with the gospel, but he was simply following the lead of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself had gained a following in the Samaritan town of Sychar (John 4:39-42), and word of Him had spread to other towns in the vicinity, so there was indeed a harvest waiting there.

Philip’s message to these people was simple and direct: Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. But the validity of his powerful message was backed up by the powerful miracles that he was doing as well. These miracles included healings and casting out many demons. When the people saw the miracles, it opened their ears and their hearts to listen to and receive the gospel message.

This illustrates the true purpose for miracles. Many in the Church today seek miracles for themselves or for others in the Church who are ill or who need a blessing. But the purpose of miracles, from the earliest days, through the days of Jesus and the early Church, all the way to today, has been to get the attention of those who are not yet among God’s people.

When Moses did the miracles of the Egyptian plagues (Exodus 7-12), it was to demonstrate God’s reality and His power to the doubting Israelites and to the Egyptians. When He parted the Red Sea, enabling the complete escape of Israel and the complete destruction of Egypt’s army, it was a sign to the as yet doubting Israelites as well as to the nations in the Promised Land and the surrounding country (Joshua 2:10-11).

When the prophets like Elijah and Elisha did mighty miracles, it was a testimony to the rebellious Israelites (1 Kings 18:38-39), as well as to the pagans who lived among them or nearby (2 Kings 5:15-17). The gods of the nations were inert; they were made of wood or stone and could not answer prayers of do miracles. But the miracles that these prophets did proved that God is the living God who is all-powerful, and who acts.

Jesus most frequently followed His miracles with a time of teaching about God and His kingdom. And the apostles and early Christians followed His example. The miracles that God did through them gave credibility to their message.

Miracles that are sought as an end in themselves or for the benefit solely of believers are rarely granted. They are sterile, a dead end. They don’t advance God’s goal of bringing salvation to the ends of the earth. But God still does miracles that are designed to give credibility to the message of Jesus and the kingdom He inaugurated, and to the messengers delivering the gospel. So those who are eager to share the gospel will naturally experience many more miracles. That is one reason why miracles seem to be so much more plentiful on the mission field!

Father, this makes absolute sense. You don’t do miracles for our comfort or convenience – You are not a genie intent on granting us whatever we wish for. You use miracles to glorify Your name and to advance Your cause. Help us to see You and your wonderful works for the right reason: to glorify You and to share with everyone we know when You do act in miraculous way, so that You are lifted up and magnified, and so that we will have the opportunity, an open door, to share the good news with everyone who sees or hears about what You have done. 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 6, 2019

Acts 7:30-36 (NIV)
“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord’s voice: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.
“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’
“This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert.”

It took forty long years from the time Moses fled from Egypt until God was ready to deliver His people through him. God caught his attention with a bush that burned on the slopes of a mountain but was not consumed. And when Moses came over to check it out, God spoke to him and gave him the calling to deliver Israel from their oppressors.

Though Moses was raised as an Egyptian and now lived as a Midianite, God reassured him of who he really was: a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, an heir to the promise given to them, and someone who belonged to God by virtue of ancestry. This was vital for him to both know and communicate, because God would not bring in a deliverer from outside His own people.

Stephen reviewed God’s commissioning of Moses, the direct call to be His chosen deliverer. He also points out the irony that this Moses, who really was the God-sent deliverer, had been outrighted rejected as a deliverer by the Israelites forty years previously.

But now, finally, they would accept him as their leader, and would end up following him all the way through decades of wandering in the wilderness, right up to the edge of the Promised Land. The thing that finally persuaded them was Moses ability to do wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt and for forty years in the desert.

But now the leaders of God’s people had again rejected God’s chosen deliverer, Jesus. And they were even more hardened and resistant than their ancestors had been, because they rejected Jesus despite the wonders and miraculous signs that He had done day after day before their very eyes!

Father, we are often told that cynicism and doubt about You and about things like miracles and the supernatural are a sign of maturity and intellectual sophistication. But history shows that those things are really a sign of depravity, increasing sinfulness and hardness of heart. Lord, we have so many hard-hearted people out there today, many of them in positions of power and authority, and many of them leading people away from the path of life under the rubric of sophistication and intellectualism. But we can only find You, we can only come to You, if we are willing to put aside any pretenses of sophistication and come to You as little children (Mark 10:15). Help me to always enter Your presence like a little child, so that I can fully receive Your love, Your grace and Your guidance. 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 – March 18, 2019

Acts 5:21b-26 (NIV)
When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin–the full assembly of the elders of Israel–and sent to the jail for the apostles. But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this.
Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

No man can stand in God’s way or foil His plan. The chief priests had put the apostles into jail, intending to stop the proclamation of the gospel by force. But God miraculously released them from the jail and sent them out with orders to continue their proclamation.

Even though the high priests and other Jewish leaders professed to believe in God and regularly proclaimed the miracles He had done for His people in the ancient past, they really had a difficult time believing that He could still work that way in their day.

So, when the apostles mysteriously disappeared from the public jail, leaving the doors locked and the guards still standing alert at their posts oblivious to what had happened, the Sanhedrin’s reaction, sadly, was not to believe that God had done a miracle, and see these men as favored by Him. They were simply confused and troubled by events that did not fit into their worldview.

When the announcement came that the apostles were found preaching on the temple grounds to a sizeable crowd, the leaders decided that caution must be used in bringing them back in, so as not to start an uprising. But it would have gone much better for them if they had taken the opportunity to step back and reexamine their assumptions about who these men were and what they were doing in light of these most recent events.

Father, so many people over the ages have resisted Your plans, and have even set themselves against Your anointed messengers, always to their hurt. But still the enemies of Your kingdom don’t learn the lessons of the past. Even today, those who oppose Your gospel and who live in fear of the expansion of Your kingdom allow themselves to feel emboldened and to act even more strongly purely on the basis of initial victories. “They say, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.’” (Psalm 71:11 NIV) But even though the enemy may seem to have the upper hand at times, You never lose the upper hand; Your plan will always have the last word, and Your name will be glorified. Thank You, Lord, for this inspiration and reassurance for our time. 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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