Tag Archives: miracles

Today’s Scripture – June 15, 2018

Luke 23:8-12 (NIV) When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends–before this they had been enemies.

Herod had been trying to see Jesus ever since word of His miracle-working power had reached him. A big reason for his desire to see Jesus was his absolute terror that Jesus was in fact John the Baptist risen from the dead to avenge his wrongful beheading by Herod (Mark 6:16).

Herod was greatly relieved the moment he saw Jesus face to face. This was not, in fact, John, but some other holy man. As soon as his mind was relieved of that worry, he turned his thoughts to the hope that Jesus might be persuaded to do a magic trick, a miracle for him like those he had heard so many stories about. But it was not to be.

Instead, Jesus stood silently in His bonds while the chief priests and scribes loudly shouted their accusations at Herod and urged him to judge Jesus guilty of something. While they did this, Jesus didn’t look angry or sullen, as Herod had seen many prisoners look. He just looked a bit weary, and maybe even a little bored with the whole thing. This man was clearly not a threat to Rome. And it was equally clear that Herod was in no danger of losing his throne to this stoic preacher, despite the protestations of the leaders that He fancied Himself the Messiah.

It was then that an impish idea struck Herod. Jesus was being accused of being, the Messiah, the true king of Israel. They would just see what kind of a king He would be. Herod draped one of his own royal robes across Jesus’ shoulders, and he and his soldiers bowed down to Him in mock adoration. But that game grew tiring after only a couple of minutes.

Herod had gone from worried, to amused, to annoyed in the space of these few minutes. His annoyance was not directed at Jesus, poor wretch that Herod saw Him to be. And it was not directed at Pilate for sending Jesus to him in the first place. In fact, Pilate’s stock had actually gone up several points in Herod’s eyes at his recognition of his sphere of authority. No, he was annoyed at the leaders, the chief priests and scribes. They had clearly trumped up these charges against this poor man, had gotten up Herod’s hopes that he might get to see a miracle, and then had completely wasted his time with someone who was so clearly a nobody. With the royal robe still draped across His shoulders, Jesus was quickly dispatched back to the governor.

Father, it is fascinating to me that neither Pilate nor Herod could see who Jesus really was. Despite the fact that the beatings and ridicule He had already endured had not caused Him to lower His head in shame, despite the fact that He stood alone, tall and calm, in the face of His storming enemies, they could see nothing beyond the bruised and battered visage. Despite their cross-examinations, they had absolutely no idea who it was who was standing before them. Truly they had eyes but could not see, and ears but could not hear. Empower me, Lord, to be able to see truly at all times, to be able to see past the surface of things to the reality beneath, so that I can not only know You better, but so that I can see other people as they truly are, just like Jesus (John 2:25). Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – May 14, 2018

Luke 21:37-38 (NIV) Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

Despite the fact that Jesus knew that in a couple of days He would be crucified, He still spent His days, all the time left to Him, teaching in the temple courts. It would have been understandable if, instead, He had holed up somewhere, psyching Himself up for what was coming.

But a big chunk of Jesus’ mission before He went to the cross was to teach all who would listen about the kingdom of God. So, until darkness fell on the night He was betrayed, wherever He could find people, He taught them.

Jesus never had anything on His agenda that was more important than obeying the Father and doing what He commanded Him to do. He never balanced out His time between God and family, God and work, God and recreation. He simply lived full-time in God’s kingdom, seeking God’s will for the day each morning, obeying it all day long, and then falling asleep in His presence, assured of His watch care all night long, and His provision for the following day. And so He lived constantly in God’s presence, His provision, and His power every day.

People today wonder why they don’t see miracles like were done in the first century of the Church. It is not because God is done doing miracles, or because He has grown weak or feeble over the centuries. In fact, many Christians around the world do experience miracles. It is simply that God works miracles through those who are actively following His lead in working to expand His kingdom, as signs to both those workers, and to those that they are reaching out to. But far too few Christians these days make the work of God’s kingdom and instant obedience to His commands the top priority in their lives. Instead, they prioritize their work, their families, and their pastimes ahead of God’s agenda. Some even shy away from asking God first thing in the morning what He wants them to do that day, afraid that He will call them to do something that could cost them their jobs (and He might). But fearing to even ask, or shying away from instant obedience to the things that God calls them to do, puts them outside of the place where they will experience any miracles.

Father, this makes a lot of sense. You don’t do miracles to impress us, or for our convenience, but to further Your agenda. And if we are not working on Your agenda, we are not where miracles are most likely to occur. Help us every day, Lord, to boldly seek Your will for us for that day, and then to commit ourselves to instantly and completely obeying that will, so that we, like Jesus, can live, work, and even sleep, in Your presence, Your power, and Your provision. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – February 28, 2018

Luke 17:5-6 (NIV) The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

When Jesus told His followers that He required them to forgive the brother who sins against them, even if they sin and repent seven times in a single day, their response was that they would need a lot more faith than they currently had to pull that off. Such a standard seemed to them to require superhuman faith. But Jesus stunned them with His next words: they didn’t need more faith; they simply needed to use the faith that they already had.

People, then and now, grossly underestimate the power of even a small amount of faith. In a sense, faith is like uranium. Even as inefficient as our current methods of enrichment and exploitation are, even a small amount of uranium can be coaxed into yielding a massive amount of power. In the same way, even a mustard seed’s worth of faith is enough to perform mighty miracles.

At one point a couple of decades ago, mustard seed necklaces, with a single, small mustard seed embedded in a glob of plastic, were all the rage among Christians. But even though the symbol was appropriated by many people, the reality was not. The power of kingdom faith was no more evident in those who wore the mustard seed than in those who didn’t.

The disciples didn’t get Jesus’ message at this point. It was not until after Pentecost that they were able to see God’s power unleashed through their lives; world-changing power that knocked down satanic strongholds, performed mighty miracles, and rescued the lost left and right. And, as they watched those miracles happen through their own lives, their faith grew far beyond mustard seed proportions.

Of course, in all of this, “faith” must be properly defined. Real miracle-working faith is not something a person has to “work up.” It is not a trick to make someone believe something that they know to be false. Real faith is simply trusting that God will do what He has promised, and that He will enable what He commands. When God told Peter and John to speak healing into the life of a lame man outside the temple (Acts 3:1-8), they exercised faith when they spoke and pulled the man to his feet. When Peter prayed for direction in the room where Tabitha lay dead (Acts9:40-41), and God instructed him to tell her to get up, he exercised faith by doing just that. In none of these cases did it take a mountain of faith to move a mustard seed; just a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain.

A powerless Christianity betrays a serious lack of faith, or, at best, a serious lack of understanding of what huge things even a small amount of faith can accomplish. Hence Jesus’ teaching to His disciples that is just as relevant to 21st century Christians.

Father, I recognize that so many Christians today really do live completely powerless lives that are virtually indistinguishable from the lives of the non-Christians around us. Forgive us for this, and help us to really understand the need to exercise biblical faith, even if our faith seems small, so that You can do amazing, life changing things through each one of us. Amen.

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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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