Monday, April 30, 2012

The 'greater works'

"He who has seen me has seen the Father"
by James Tissot

TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 14:1-14

TO CHEW ON: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." John 14:12

We often call the great works Jesus did miracles. His promise that "greater works" would flow from our lives can easily cause stress when we see no such works. Then it is easy to either abandon the possibility of miracles altogether (rationalizing that their era has passed and thus our signless lives are the normal Christian experience) or to beg God for miracles (interpreting their presence or absence as indicators of God's approval or disapproval of us).

Steven Stiles in his book Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles weighs in on this. Though in his ministry to street people he and others saw more than a few miracles happen, he cautions against seeking them for their own sake:

"The greatest danger in seeking miracles outside of God's will is that we become intrigued by miracles themselves and thereby disregard the One who did the miracle in the first place.

Another danger arises in seeking miracles that are outside of God's purpose. God knows what we need before we do, and he likewise knows when we need a miracle. Our first responsibility is to seek God's will.

Yet another danger in pursuing miracles outside of God's will is that we may begin to look for miracles where they do not exist or even try to discover strategies for making them happen....

Knowing God's faithful care for us is sufficient reason for gratitude, whether we ever see a special miracle or not, God is already watching over us, and he is already providing for us in countless ways we do not see. If the Shepherd never leaves us and never fails to give us our daily bread to eat, and if he always provides us with the water of life to drink so that our thirst is forever gone, why should we ask for more? John 6:35." - Steven Stiles, Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles, pp. 152, 153.

PRAYER: Dear God help me to be available for You to do whatever is Your will in my life, whether through natural or miraculous means. Amen.

MORE: More on the why of miracles

"I have come to believe that those special miracles that shake our preconceived realities, and even those quiet miracles we may see day by day, are not for entertainment purposes. They are memories to be cherished, lessons to be learned, and counsel to receive.

They cause our knees to bend and our hearts to yield. They are a privilege to see, and they tell us, sometimes when we need to hear it most, that nothing can or ever will happen in our lives unless it is allowed by the Good Shepherd." - Steven Stiles, p. 10 (emphasis added).

"His miracles are not designed in the way that we might ever think to put them together. They are not always designed for us to understand. They are designed to teach us to trust him" - Steven Stiles, p. 124 (emphasis added).

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