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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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The Edge of Faith

         I remember when I was a kid there was a soap opera on television called The Edge of Night. I had no idea what the words meant or whether they were supposed to mean something. I never watched it, and thus have no memory of the content, but I do remember the stark black and white graphics of a downtown cityscape on the opening title card.

         In retrospect, someone had come up with a great name, full of meaning and pathos, and the hard reminder that life often boils down to a very rough edge. Kind of like a concrete jungle. And you better get yours or life will get real bad real quick. And along the way we’ll engage in sin to help us make it through the dark nights of our respective, though not respectful, souls…

         It’s kind of like this with faith.

         Now, hear me out, says the man who’s going to drop a nonsensical bombshell or an invitation to a multi-level marketing meeting…

         Faith actually does contain a very rough edge. Its edge can also be very fine, like a tightrope, and require a spiritual balancing act. The Lord Jesus kept referring to faith as a commodity one could possess. But He also said faith is no good unless it is invoked and used. He also seemed to say that many people are afraid to use it.

         Why is this?

         I think it’s because it’s an all or nothing proposition. Faith doesn’t work unless the 100% rule is invoked. One has to risk everything. If one tries to do the sensible thing and hold something back in case one’s faith doesn’t work it won’t work. And there is no tangible guarantee that it will work. In this regard it is not rational, like so many other spiritual things.

         Faith is an all your eggs in one basket deal.

         Faith demands 100% commitment.

         This is why faith doesn’t work for a lot of people. They hold back. They want to be assured of success before they act. They might have stepped out in faith before and things didn’t work out. But the Lord said we must keep trying.

         His Word also says a very scary thing for new Christians battling with faith:

         And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. [Hebrews 11:6]

         In other words, if a person has doubts regarding the goodness of God, one will never please God. One might still try to approach God and make entreaties, but unless pure faith in God is involved such a person will only be whining. And God does not care for whining.

         The woman who had long been sick with an issue of blood and had spent all her cash on doctors without any relief reached a point of total desperation and decided to lay everything on the line.

         First, she purposed in her heart that if she only touched the edge of His garment she would be healed. Then she had to fight her way through a crowd to get close to the Master. Then she had to violate a powerful taboo about women steering clear of teaching rabbis and actually approach the Master and (gasp!) touch His garment! This took some powerful boldness!

         And when she touched the Master’s garment she was instantly healed! And the Master had done nothing. But He made a very curious statement:

         “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.” [Luke 8:45-46]

         We know by this that the power of God for whatever we may need is always available and is activated and released by our faith. We don’t really have to ask. This woman didn’t ask. She did everything correctly, though. She honored and respected the Master. She was greatly thankful. And she is an awesome example. She showed us how it’s done!  

         Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Hebrews 4:16] [1]

         The KJV says, Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace…

         One must be bold when one approaches the Lord. One must also be supremely respectful. These two don’t seem to go together. One would think a person should almost grovel before God as a sign of deference and honor. But such groveling, though one’s heart may be right, is not conducive to showing strong faith.

         Sons of God do not have to grovel before their Father!

         Remember, one must please God by knowing God is good, righteous, tender, merciful, loving, kind, warm, understanding, benevolent, holy, strong, and has a smile and a twinkle in His eye for His children. And one must know He loves us regardless of what someone or everyone else thinks of us or what we may think of ourselves. And we must believe this and act on it in pure faith with no holding back.

         We have gone before other people in authority thinking we would be treated well and we were often treated bad. But God is not like this. He loves us.

         So let’s believe the truth that God IS, that He is GOOD, that He is a REWARDER of those who SEEK Him, and come before Him in FULL CONFIDENCE, that we may RECEIVE the mercy and grace and help we need.

         Go ahead. Make His day!

         © 2013 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.