The God of Miracles
The God of Miracles
After an Alpha Weekend, a soldier called Quincy Bellot wrote to me: ‘This pain started twelve years ago. After joining the Royal Marines, it became extremely bad. The cartilage below the kneecap was completely gone. Last year was the worst when the ligaments and the tendons were torn and the kneecap went in a forty-five-degree angle. It has been a long and painful journey. I could not sit or stand for too long.
‘Cut a long story short, I decided to try God and try Alpha. I got back from the Alpha weekend and agreed to come to HTB after much hesitation. I heard people testifying and I was thinking, “yeah, yeah, yeah”. When someone said [a word of knowledge] about the cartilage issue, I took the sharpest breath I ever took. I agreed to be prayed for. I felt God moving in my knee. I dropped on my knees to test it and remarkably no pain. It’s just miraculous. I went for a run last night… it was the first time after a very long time I haven’t had any pain. God is real.’ The email was headed ‘Brand New Knee!!’
God is a God of miracles.
Receive the miracle of God’s provisionPsalm 78:17-31
The psalmist continues to tell the history of the people of God’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. In spite of God’s miraculous provision, they ‘sinned even more’, rebelled and ‘whined like spoiled children’ (vv.17–19, MSG).
God helped them anyway. He ‘rained down showers of manna to eat, he gave them the Bread of Heaven’ (v.24, MSG). This prefigured the spiritual food that Jesus provides (John 6:30–35).
Likewise, ‘When he struck the rock, water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly’ (Psalm 78:20). In a miraculous way, God provided water from a rock. Yet, the people still doubted God ‘for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance’ (v.22). Although miracles are wonderful, they do not always cause people to believe in God.
The miracle of water from a rock really happened, but it also prefigured and anticipated something even more amazing. St Paul writes, ‘they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ’ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
Jesus said, ‘“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flowing from within.” By this he meant the Spirit…’ (John 7:37–39).
Lord, thank you for the ‘living water’ of the Holy Spirit who lives within me. Help me to be the bearer of this supernatural life to all whom I encounter today.
Believe the miracle of the resurrection of JesusActs 17:22-18:8
The message is: Jesus. When in Athens, Paul begins talking to the people on their level. He does not start with the Old Testament, as he did with the Jews – proclaiming Jesus as Messiah. Rather, he begins with their worship of an unknown god (17:23a), and uses that to explain Jesus to them.
Paul’s preaching was remarkably positive. Rather than reproaching them for their idolatry, he says, ‘Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you’ (v.23b). He says three things about God: He is the creator (v.24), he is self-sufficient (v.25) and we all need him (vv.27–28).
Paul goes on to quote one of their poets approvingly: ‘One of your poets said it well’ (v.28, MSG). Christians do not have the monopoly on the truth. God has revealed himself in creation and we find remarkable insights in secular sources.
His talk climaxes with the proclamation of the greatest and most important miracle in history: the resurrection of Jesus (vv.30–31). Paul claims to have historical proof of the resurrection. He had met the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus.
The implications are huge. Death was not the end for Jesus and it will not be the end for you and me. You too will be raised to life. Here, Paul says that the resurrection is evidence that God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed: Jesus. Paul gave people the opportunity to respond to this message.
The reactions to hearing a talk about Jesus and the resurrection of the dead were very similar to those we experience today.
- Some sneered
‘Some laughed at him and walked off making jokes’ (v.32a, MSG). Do not be surprised if you get this reaction from some people.
- Some were interested
‘Others said, “Let’s do this again. We want to hear more”’ (v.32b, MSG). Many people today, as they were then, are genuinely interested but they need time to hear more and think through the issues. Courses like Alpha provide an opportunity for people to do this.
- Some believed
‘There were still others... who were convinced then and there’ (v.34, MSG). They believed straight away. It is unusual but wonderful when people accept Jesus the first time they hear about him.
When Paul went to Corinth, presumably he preached the same message of Jesus and the resurrection. He ‘reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks’ (18:4). He was not asking them to exercise blind faith. Your faith is not irrational. The facts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus give reasons to believe. It is possible to persuade people on the basis of the evidence. If Jesus was miraculously raised from the dead, that is evidence that Jesus is the Christ (v.5).
Again, as in Athens, there were different responses. Some were abusive (v.6). But some believed – ‘Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptised’ (v.8).
Lord, thank you for the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus and for the power of this message to transform lives.
Experience the miracle of fire from God1 Kings 18:16-19:21
God performed a remarkable miracle through the human agency of Elijah. This account stresses the supernatural nature of the event.
We all have to decide how we are going to live and who we are going to follow. Elijah says, ‘How long are you going to sit on the fence? If God is the real God, follow him; if it’s Baal, follow him. Make up your minds!’ (18:21, MSG).
He sets up a test for them and says, ‘The god who answers by fire – he is God’ (v.24).
It is futile to serve gods made by human hands. However loud they shouted, ‘there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention’ (v.29). But when Elijah prayed he did not need to shout (v.36). Because he was praying to the living God.
You can have the confidence of Elijah every time you pray – knowing that you, too, are praying to the living God, who hears you and will act on your behalf.
Every time we pray, ‘Come, Holy Spirit’, we are asking God to repeat the miracle of Pentecost when the fire of God came on all the people. We do not need to shout or stir up emotion – we simply need to ask.
In response to Elijah’s prayer, the fire of the Lord fell (v.38). When all the people saw this they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord – he is God! The Lord – he is God!’ (v.39).
This was a wonderful miracle, but Elijah is no different from us – he was just a human being (see James 5:17). After this spiritual high, he experienced an emotional low. He was ‘exhausted’ (1 Kings 19:5, MSG). He became afraid, discouraged, depressed and almost suicidal: ‘Enough of this, God! Take my life’ (v.4, MSG). When we are exhausted we can easily feel abused, misunderstood and mistreated. After a good sleep and some food, he was re-energised.
Nevertheless, he felt that he was the only one left (vv.10b,14b) and that everyone was out to get him.
It was not actually true, as there were ‘seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal’ (v.18). But it is easy to feel isolated and alone in your place of work, your family or your neighbourhood. When you come together (for example on a Sunday) you are reminded that you are not alone.
The ways of the Holy Spirit are gentle. God spoke to Elijah. He was not in a ‘great and powerful wind’, nor in an ‘earthquake’, nor in a ‘fire’ but in a ‘gentle whisper’ (vv.11–12). We often need to get away from the noise and find a place and time of quiet to hear God’s gentle whisper deep within our spirit.
Thank you, Lord, that you, the God of miracles, the God who raised Jesus from the dead, the God who answers by fire, the God who brings water from the rock – you communicate in a gentle whisper. Help me today to hear your voice.
1 Kings 19:2
Even great people of God have times of discouragement. Having killed all those false prophets, you would think Elijah could take on anything. After spiritual and physical exhaustion, we need replenishing. Elijah’s recovery seems to come through sleep, food, exercise (although walking for forty days and nights seems a bit excessive) and taking on an assistant (dealing with the isolation he felt). Most importantly, he hears the voice of God speaking to him again.
Verse of the Day
'God… is not far from any one of us' (Acts 17:27).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.