Sunday, April 17, 2016

The mystery of miracles

Peter Raises Dorcas - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 9:32-43

TO CHEW ON: "All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord … This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord." Acts 9:34,42

I love how these miracles, performed through Peter, led to chain reactions. The healing of the paralyzed Aeneas resulted in conversions in Lydda and Sharon. When Dorcas died a short distance away (in Joppa) the disciples sent for Peter. (Did they expect him to raise her from the dead, I wonder?) She came  back to life and word spread all over town and resulted in many more conversions.

A sidebar article in my Bible explains:
"There is a clear pattern in the NT in which evangelism or even mass evangelism follows demonstrations of God's kingdom power (Mark 16:14-20; Acts 5:12,14; 9:35,42 [our reading]; Acts 13:14-12; 19:11-20)" - Todd Hunter, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p.1508.

Possible reactions to miracles:

However, demonstrations of God's kingdom power (miracles) do not always result belief. In a Sunday sermon several weeks ago, the speaker at my church named six possible reactions to miracles. These were reactions when Jesus healed the man born blind (John 9:2-38). These reactions could follow the miracles we see today as well:
  • Logic - reaction of the disciples in John 9:2.
  • Tradition - reaction of the neighbours in John 9:8.
  • Religion - reaction of the Pharisees - John 9:13.
  • Unbelief - reaction of the Jews - John 9:18.
  • Fear - reaction of the man's parents - John 9:20.
  • Belief - reaction of the healed man - John 9:25, 35-38.

Why doesn't God give me a miracle?

Finally, I ask myself—and you—these questions about miracles:

1. What is my attitude toward God when He denies a miracle? I can think of many, many people who have prayed for a miracle but it hasn't happened.

2. Is there a way to convince God to perform one? Does my faith, obedience, prayer and fasting, etc., have everything to do with it? Anything to do with it?

3. The purpose of God sending a miracle, or not, isn't, according to the Bible, mainly concerned with my well-being, comfort, release from pain and suffering, prosperity etc.

The purpose of miracles:

Looking up the list of references under "Miracles Testify" in my Thompson Chain Bible reveals some of the pre-church and early church purposes of miracles:
  • Reveal Jesus' identity as Messiah and deity - Luke 5:7; John 3:2; 6:14; 7:31; 9:32; 10:25, 37-38; Acts 4:30.
  • Lead to awe and praise of God - Luke 7:17; Acts 3:10.
  • Lead to people believing in and coming to faith in Jesus - John 2:23; 4:53; 11:15, 45, 48; 20:30; Acts 9:34, 42 (our story).  
  • Show that God is present - Matthew 27:54; Acts 2:22.
  • Not always understood. If anyone could have used a miracle, it was the imprisoned John the Baptist. Yet Jesus never intervened on his behalf, telling him, instead, not to stumble over this - Luke 7:22.
  • Cause people to pay attention to the message of the miracle-worker - Acts 8:6.
  • Are distributed according to God's will - Hebrews 2:4.

Dear Father, I believe Your miracle-working power is as strong today as ever. Help me to fit in with Your plans and if those include miracles, may You get all the glory. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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