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THE EFFECTUAL WORKING OF MIRACLES

           I once had a pastor who didn’t care for doing any counseling. He stated this from the pulpit. He didn’t like sitting down with people from his church and going over the usual problems. He once stated that the devil “can only get you in so many ways,” meaning, of course, that the devil had a limited repertoire of mayhem-causing temptations. In this regard, we often hear preachers list the same relatively few things we, as Christians, must deal with, and they, as pastors, must attend to with counsel, and they say this because it’s pretty much all they ever hear. The short tabulation usually involves the following:

(1) Money problems

(2) Relationship problems

(3) Health problems

         I don’t fault that former pastor. I am pretty sure one of the reasons he cared little for counseling is because many people do not respond to it in a positive way. There are often solutions to the above three legitimate and often overwhelming difficulties put forth in Scripture that are rarely applied and this can frustrate a counselor, in that they give good advice designed to assist but the advice is not taken. It is not respected. Counselors know that much of the time people only want to talk. They need someone to talk to. That’s what they really want. They don’t necessarily want to do the work to eliminate the problem.

         The Lord is the greatest of counselors. Isaiah called Him a Wonderful Counselor. But even the Lord probably gets somewhat tired of hearing prayers when He knows we will not apply the solutions. So, in that light, I am going to dedicate the rest of this post to those of you who want to do whatever it takes to fix whatever the problem is.

A MIRACLE WAITING TO HAPPEN

         I stated at the end of my last post the very words of the Lord Jesus when He said that with God, all things are possible. This is obviously a true statement. The truth of the matter, however, is that there is a whole lot of stuff between the problem and His relatively straightforward solution. It should not be this way. I think we often make it far too complicated, which messes up the process.

         For example, in the case of Scriptural miracles, our eyes may glaze over as soon as someone brings them up, because we have heard them countless times and they do not appear applicable whatsoever to what we may be dealing with at the moment. But at that time the solution was clear-cut:

        There was Peter and John seeing a lame man who had been there for decades. Thousands and thousands had seen this man there over his lifetime. He always asked for money. Some would give him money. Most probably ignored him. He had a great problem and had it since birth and people were tired of seeing him. What could they do about it anyway?

          Well, in the case of Peter and John, they had just been gloriously filled with the Holy Spirit. They were charged up with the power and authority of the Lord. With their new status came a ton of spiritual boldness. So the next time they saw that man Peter had a completely different attitude. He suddenly had a solution to the lame man’s problem. He didn’t simply look at the man as usual and think, “Sorry. I feel bad for you but have no answer. Later.” Instead, this is the way it went down:

         Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.

         But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.

         But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!”

         And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. [Acts 3:1-8]

HOW IT WAS DONE

First of all, Peter would be the first to say he was nobody special and that the Lord did the work. In fact, he did say that. But let us not forget that Peter experienced Pentecost. He was one of the 120 gloriously filled with the Spirit of the Lord. So that is the main condition here. But the infilling was not limited to the apostles or the 120. It was limited to no one. It is still not limited to anyone, provided one fulfills the conditions of Acts 2.

Second, Peter demanded the man look at him. He demanded the man’s full attention. 

Third, Peter used the powerful Name of Jesus, the Name above every name, and the Name with full authority over all things, including an otherwise impossible-to-cure medical condition. 

Fourth, Peter reached down, physically grabbed the man’s hand, and pulled the man up! Peter was fully confident in everything he did because he had plenty of faith and confidence in the Lord, His Name, and His spiritual power.

         But what about the lame man? He also had conditions to fulfill. He had to respond to counseling correctly. He had to obey Peter’s counseling or the miracle would never have happened.

First, when Peter demanded his full attention the lame man looked directly at him and shut everything else out.

Second, the lame man did not object to the use of the Lord’s Name.

Third, when Peter took hold of his hand and began pulling him up, the lame man never fought against him, but allowed Peter to do all he did with no opposition of any kind.

         From this we know that miracles are always the result of a collaborative effort.

         The Lord does His part, which He is always faithful to do, and the recipient does his or her part. This is why a person acting properly on faith and correctly obeying the Lord’s counseling completes the circuit.

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE

         The Lord put the healing of the lame man miracle right there in the very beginning so anyone and everyone all through the centuries could look back at it and see that all things truly ARE possible with the Lord. It was also a great miracle at the time for the members of the early Church to look back on to build their faith and act on their faith. They saw that the Lord’s miracles could be worked through them and not only by the Lord exclusively, as in the gospels, or through a chosen few, such as the apostles. This is extremely important. As a result, greater numbers of people had their prayers answered and more life-changing miracles were performed by the Lord working through countless Spirit-filled believers the world over. This expanding dynamic continued as well by involving onlookers as witnesses, which further spread the news of the miracles and produced faith in the Lord, salvation, and more disciples.

         And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. [Acts 3:9-10] [1] 

          © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Hope Island

           About a decade ago, there was an award-winning television show I really liked on the old PAX TV channel. It was called Hope Island and ran from 1999-2000.

           The critically-acclaimed series was about a young minister who was sent to the Pacific Northwest to fix up an old church and restore a ministry that had been neglected for 30 years. It featured a cast of distinct and unique characters who somehow came together under the young man’s leadership and how a wonderful sense of community was restored under the guidance of the Lord.

           I believe this is a dream that many believers have—to live within a loving and accepting community that allows each person to walk in the fullness of what God created them to be without any religious pretext or close-minded attitudes.

           We must continually remind ourselves, as if we needed reminding, that our churches are not very close at all to the original model created by the Lord, and also remind ourselves that we keep perpetuating a false model that does little compared to the prototype.

           In fact, we have become quite comfortable with much less than the best and resist any real change with a passion.

           But God still knows our hearts. And He knows we are really not so happy but possibly merely satisfied with an essentially dead routine that never changes. Christians are some of the worst people on the planet regarding change for the better, and are ever fearful of some such calamity or losing control.

           But the young minister discovered that the paradigm he was taught in ministry school simply did not work among the people of his new flock and that he must do things differently if he would reach them and allow the Lord to bless their lives.

           This is something that has always been on my heart, that we might do as the people of the show did in this regard, and begin doing things the Lord’s way.

           We forget that the Lord’s way is off the map. We read the Gospels but refuse to see that His way flew in the face of established, traditional religion. It is because His way is the right way as opposed to our structured and their structured dead religious ways.

           His way is the way of the heart.

           He was and remains all about reaching us on a heart level and setting us free from whatever bondage we happen to find ourselves within, especially religious bondage. He shows us that there is a way to have our hearts set free and fulfilled while also walking in holiness with Him. He wants us to be filled with His joy to overflowing and His faith to the nth degree.

           And it is not at all that difficult to achieve.

           The reason so many people liked that show and were saddened to see it cancelled was because it spoke to their hearts about what Christian community could and should be.

           Last night I happened to see if I could find it posted anywhere and actually discovered part of one show. And it blessed me. The young man had been given a great opportunity to leave Hope Island and secure a “better” ministry position at a big church with much greater perks and position. He had decided to take it since it was obviously “better” for his career.

           But then at the last minute he changed his mind. One particular individual was devastated by the news, telling him in so many words, “You come here and enter our lives and we all fall in love with you and then you leave us?” The people in the small locale needed someone to help bring them closer to God and one another, and he had done that, but did not realize how much of an impact he had made.

           He decided to stay.

           I must confess, after all these years, I maintain an idyllic dream of actually doing what this fictional young man had done. I long to be part of an eclectic ensemble of real people trying to be real Christians free of all the trappings of the usual Christian dead order and decorum, where people are often bored to tears and don’t know it, and whose hearts are rarely touched or fulfilled.

           How long must we persist in, “Just do what you’re told. That’s the way we do things here and we ain’t changin,’” and how long must we wait to decide on taking a chance at having real life with the Lord?

           Hope Island is a mere fictional account of what some people did to love one another under the Lord’s guidance. Yet it is closer to spiritual reality than that of most churches. Why do we long for such but rarely do anything about creating such a place?   

           The Lord Jesus wants to touch your heart today and every day. And I want to be a part of that. Are there any others out there who feel the same?

           And, as long as I’m dreaming and take literally the words of the Lord about all things being possible, is there any potential Christian community in the Pacific Northwest that might appreciate someone to help bring it to pass?

           Must Hope Island remain a mere myth?

           © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.