Archive for the ‘Miracles’ Tag

God – Father, Son and Spirit of Unusual Victories!

Josua 6 God of Unusual Victories

Full Message, 27mins.:https://trinityandhumanity.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/16-11-06-god-father-son-and-spirit-of-unusual-victories-joshua-6-tah.mp3”

Theological Theme: God – Father, Son and Spirit achieves victory through the faithful obedience of His people, no matter how unusual His commands may seem.

Christ Connection: God’s ultimate victory over His enemies, and ours, takes place through the faithful obedience of His Son – Jesus Christ.

Missional Application: God calls us to battle against evil in this world using the weapons of prayer, His Word, and our testimony in the Holy Spirit.

*picture courtesy of pinterest.com

What’s the Point of all the Miracles in the Gospels?

Icon Jesus and Peter on the WaterI think this is an important question because we don’t see these sort of miracles taking place today. I know, some Christians would have you believe that we do, but let’s be honest – we don’t. Despite the best efforts of televangelists, sixth-hand stories in forwarded emails, and “you have to see this” posts on Facebook, we do not see people walking on water, rising from the dead, or having demons cast out of them as the Gospels (and the book of Acts) depict it.

There’s a longstanding tradition in Christianity, and this is reflected in the Gospel accounts themselves, that says the miracles that Jesus performed (and those performed in his name by the Apostles) were meant to prove Jesus’ Divine origin as the Son of God. That alone would be explanation enough for why these sorts of miracles no longer occur: having served their initial purpose in proving Jesus’ Divinity, they are no longer needed.

But we want them don’t we? When it’s our child who’s sick, when we are facing death, and when defeat seems to be overwhelming victory we long for God to step in with what Robert Capon has called “right-handed” power and prove to the whole world that he exists and that he is on our side. Instead, we see God acting with what Capon calls “left-handed” power. We see her working in littleness, lostness, and death.

Let me suggest another reason for the miracles of the gospels: what if – and this is just a “what if” – the miracle stories of the Gospels are meant to show us the general uselessness of miracles for the cause of growing the Kingdom.

Consider the arc of Jesus’ story for a moment: a miracle worker appears in Galilee, claiming a special relationship with God, and his miracles result in what? A mass conversion of the whole nation? A turn of the people away from darkness to light? Not exactly. Instead, he is rejected and crucified. The right-handed power of God is proven to have little to no effect in bringing people to trust God. Instead, it seems to be the opposite: the more God acts with power in Jesus the more people angrily reject him. Even Jesus makes this point in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man when he says “. . . neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

There’s something in our nature that says “if only God would show up with power; if only God would work a miracle, then I would believe and so would others and then we would be convinced that God really loves us.” It is this wishful thinking that sends so many Christians chasing after the miraculous in Facebook videos. But the Gospels themselves reveal that our thinking is more wishful than factual. The Gospels tell us that God did show up with power and did work miracles and all it did was freak us out and cause us to try to kill him.

Perhaps one reason for the miracles in the Gospels is to help us understand where and how we should be looking for the work of the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit: not in the flashy, powerful, and supernatural, but in the pain of our crucifixion, in the darkness of the tomb, and in the places at the margins of society where no one cares except the one who is Love.

~ Jonathan Stepp

P.S. There’s no need to post your personal miracle stories in the comments section. I too have experienced the inexplicable and been encouraged that the Father loves me in Jesus because of it. This post is about the kind of public events that we see in the Gospels.

An Evening Stroll

He stands on the beach in the dark and stares across the wild, windswept lake. The moon is hidden behind the clouds of the storm. Dawn is still a few hours away. The pounding of the surf and the crash of the tempest driven waves are the only sounds.

A deep breath, pulling in the scent of the fresh rain and the howling wind. He’s been praying since sundown, alone on the hill top. He feels better now. John is still dead, that obviously can’t be changed, but he has a peace about it he didn’t have before. Like yesterday’s red sky, John’s death can only be a sign of a coming storm. And yet here he stands, in the midst of the storm prophesied by yesterday’s red sky and it’s not so bad after all. Maybe the tempest to come after John won’t be as bad it seems now. The anticipation of fear is always worse than the fear itself.

Well, no one knows what tomorrow brings but he knows he can rest in the Father’s love. That love, that embrace, that assurance pouring into his soul through the filling of the Holy Spirit – that’s what kept him on his knees all night, even after the others had gone on ahead without him. And as he stares out at the crashing waves in the storm, and the specter of storms to come lingers in the back of his mind, it is that baptism of the Father’s assurance through the Spirit that gives him peace. He is loved. His future is secure. And not only his future, but the future of everyone he loves. And even the future of his enemies. The Father has embraced it all.

And then the still, small voice: “Walk out on the water.” What?

“Dad, is that you?” he asks. Again, the Spirit’s voice resonates in his soul, “go ahead, it’ll be fun – one for the books – the night you walked on the water.” He doesn’t need to hear it a third time. He only does what he sees his Father doing and he can clearly see that his Father is doing this.

A few brisk, long strides out into – no, wait, onto – the water and he is really doing it. The water crashes all around him, it’s like trying to climb up an enormous mound of hay with everything shifting constantly under him – but somehow he keeps his balance. Climbing two, three, even four feet up the face of the waves and then back down into the trough behind the wave. It’s like walking through an incredibly convoluted field of desert sand. His feet, his legs get soaked by the rising and falling waves of the lake but he never sinks.

“Wow, Dad, I am actually walking on the freakin’ water!” he prays. “Something so amazing, silly, and inspiring at the same time.”  He can feel the Spirit’s empowerment, right down through his skin and flesh to his bones – somehow, miraculously, making him less dense than the water. He can feel the Father’s love embracing him – somehow, miraculously, holding him up so that his feet touch, but never sink below, the surface.

And now the moon at last breaks out from behind the clouds. The rain fades away but the wind keeps blowing. In a pool of flickering light he can see the others in the boat, straining with all their might to row against the waves. He laughs out loud, “they are going to jump right out of their skins when they see this!”

He wonders: How much do they already know that they are in him and he is in them? How much do they see that they are also embraced in the Father’s love? Can any of them see that all of this, the Father’s love, the Spirit’s empowerment, the walking on the water, includes them?

Only one way to find out: walk up to the boat and see if anyone wants to join him.

%d bloggers like this: