What is a Miracle?

  • What is a Miracle?A Miracle

What is a Miracle is the question raised by a recent comment. In my terms, a miracle occurs when God intervenes in any otherwise natural circumstance. – in other words – when He does something that wouldn’t naturally happen. I like to think that a miracle is God’s response to faith in action.  I.E., We have some human need, we hold out our hand to God and He responds. Viola – a miracle happens.

  • How big is a miracle?

When I had life-saving lung surgery for cancer many years ago, I had no hesitation in calling the result a miracle.  I went into surgery with no fear, joking with the surgery staff, and came out with no pain, and a very smooth recovery.  The anesthetist came and sat on my bed after to tell me he had never had an easier intubation – I told him, “of course you didn’t doctor, there was a whole church full of people praying for this op.”  It is easy t o classify such events as miraculous and to think of miracles as wonderful and momentous; but what about the little things?  When we find the empty park in a crowded street right outside the shop we need; when the rain stops just when we have to go out; when life flows so smoothly for us we feel blessed; are these blessings not miraculous in nature?

  • Little miracles.

Psalm 1 states, “blessed is the man who meditates on my word day and night”; and that “everything that he does will be blessed”.  I can testify to the truth of that.  Our lives have been wonderfully smooth and blessed since we gave God control. So it is plain to me that all these little blessed things in our lives are God-given, and therefore are a never ending stream of little miracles.

  • The Miracle of Baptism

Taivesi Duanitutu states that the baptism of Jesus is not a miracle.  I don’t understand the comment, because for me, baptism involves some divine intervention.  When the Spirit of God landed on me, and when my mind was filled with blinding light and with joyful words of wisdom and illumination; I was born again and  in no doubt that God was present. For me the size of the event was major, but for others it may be or was minor, but whatever the size, it is miraculous because God is present and involved. The element of baptism and the miracle of being born again are not necessarily synchronous, they may be separate in time, but they are one in fact.

  • Reach Out In Faith

The worldly view of a miracle is that event which can only be described by divine intervention.  My view is that it is better described as a transaction between believers and God, where the believer reaches out in faith, and God responds in love. We have some human need, and God supplies that need in some manner.  It is more impressive when the result is dramatic, but however the result is delivered it should be described as miraculous, and answering the question; “What is a Miracle?”

Scriptural Balance

  • Scriptural Balance

We must have scriptural balance – There are a thousand texts that can be made to mean Balancewhatever we suppose if we take them out of context. We pray about a passage and look for the central meaning, but to understand each part of the reading we must look at the whole. Example – Paul speaks about behavior and says (1 Corinthians 11:5-15) that “Women must wear hats”.  This is not to say that women must wear hats at all times, so much as to say that women and men should be careful to conform to the social norms of the day. You could extract a “cast iron” rule about hats from this passage, or you could look for the inner meaning and get a valuable insight.  Look for the whole meaning.

  • Balanced Perception

On the previous Sunday our speaker shared about the first “Beatitude”, and what it really means to be humble. Then last Sunday, the lesson was about  self esteem – How we are to take a sober look at ourselves and see ourselves as God sees us.  There is a lovely scriptural balance here in the examining of both sides of one aspect of self perception.  We were blessed that both speakers are led by the Spirit of God.

  • Confirmation

Another aspect of this scriptural balance is that we ought always to seek various forms of proof for what we believe: It is not enough to have a “Peace” about something we believe, we should also look for confirmation in scripture and in the wisdom of our brothers and sisters. All the proofs must agree and be in scriptural balance.  If it isn’t scriptural, or if your spiritual brethren do not agree, then it is unlikely to be the the right will of God. God does not contradict himself, so if you believe the Spirit is telling you something, then the other “Proofs” must follow, if it is true.

Bible Anomalies

Bible Anomalies

Bible Anomalies

I want to challenge you, Dear Reader, with this statement, that there ARE NO Bible Anomalies Bible anomalies when you read the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit.  At the last supper Jesus promised that the “Holy Spirit would come and lead you into all truth”.   I do not remember ever meeting any spirit filled person who was bothered about Bible contradictions.  If we read His word in a prayerful and contemplative way, then the truth will be made plain to us.

  • Witness Statements

Any two people, describing the same event, will use different language, and will colour the event with their own interpretation, and this is quite evident in the various Bible records of history.  The fact that the description detail is different from witness to witness does not mean the event didn’t happen.  We need to always look at the underlying story that is being told, and look for the relevance of that story to our own life. The story of the loaves and fishes is not about how many people were fed, it is all about Jesus supplying our needs by faith.  Which He does!  That is the enduring truth that we may prayerfully perceive. We need always to seek the underlying truth in every Bible record.

  • Point Of View

If we see two different accounts of the same event, then we can meditate about it, and we will come to fuller understanding of what God is telling us.  In this way, an apparent contradiction will lead to a more rounded illustration of the story.  Think about why one writer was struck by one aspect of the event, and why another Bible author was impressed with a different  truth.  We all perceive things in a different way, according to our experiences and to our understanding. Each person hearing a sermon, will take home a different portion of the message, according to their need.

  •  Interpretation.

We perceive things differently because we always interpret what we see in the light of our own experience and knowledge.  Our understanding can only be based on our personal experience, qualified by what we believe about the world, and our pre-existing beliefs colour what we see.  For example, a person who has never experienced unqualified love, will have difficulty accepting that others are acting without  a personal agenda: They will suspect  self interest as a motive, and interpret motives accordingly.  They will need to come to an understanding of the spiritual disinterest of unqualified love to believe that the motive is NOT self interest.

  • Truth and Reality.

We need to understand that it is quite irrelevant whether Jesus fed 3000 people, or 5000 people, the point is that Jesus performed the miracle of feeding a multitude of people from a tiny quantity of bread and fish.  If we can grasp the concept that our God will provide for our needs, then it doesn’t matter in the least how many people were fed on a given occasion.  We need to open the eyes of our mind when we read God’s word, and let the Holy Spirit of God illuminate our understanding and bless our lives. There ARE NO Bible anomalies when you read the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit of God.

Baptism – Sprinkling or Immersion

Which is the correct method, sprinkling or immersion? Do You think it is important? Whatbaptism2 happens if we get it wrong? Does God care?  What is important is that you felt it was needful to be baptized.

  • Water Has Two Purposes

The role of water in baptism is dual purpose.  It signifies a washing away of sin , a metaphorical cleansing of our life as we go  forward into a new life in God’s kingdom. As we go down into the water, so too we die to our old sinful life; and as we are lifted out of the water again we are lifted up to a new life in Christ.  The phrase “born again” has a strong meaning here, as we enter into a time of new life, a time of great love and joy and peace.

  • Lack Of Water

In desert places, or in frozen country there may be no practical way to fully immerse a new convert, so the water may be a more symbolic “sprinkle”; rather than a bath.  How much water is used is quite immaterial: What matters is the decision of the person to ask forgiveness for their former sinful life, and their intention to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their saviour. They are consciously renouncing a former life, and resolving to begin a new life. It is the mental and spiritual process that is important.

  • Being Born Again

To be baptised is to begin the process of being born again as a Christian.  This may be almost instantaneous, an event where the person emerges from the water fully fledged as a new convert; perhaps even speaking in tongues or manifesting other spiritual behaviour; Or it may simply mark the start of a spiritual growth that will continue over weeks or even years, as the person lowers barriers, and lets God have access to every part of their life.

  • Properly Baptised Or Not?

If you feel that you were baptised, and if you believe your sins are forgiven, and if you claim Jesus as your Saviour, then you are baptised, regardless of the method used.  I was baptised(sprinkled) as a baby, and it didn’t feel right to me when I grew up, so I went through the water of baptism and made my vows to God in an adult baptism.

 

The God-shaped Hole

God Shaped Hole

God Shaped Hole

“There is a space inside us that only God can fill;” was the assertion made by our Sunday morning preacher.  This hit me with some force, and I immediately felt that “Bong” of empathy with the concept.  This explains very nicely our need to search out spiritual things, and it explains very nicely too the nature of our interaction with our community.  We are in the business of filling that hole for others.

  • Find A Need

I have long believed that the only effective way to bring Jesus Christ to others is by way of meeting some need they have.  I do NOT believe in the “door knock” method of evangelizing practiced by the sects – I perceive that such “in your face” confrontation is counterproductive because it alienates people. We ought to start by discovering some need, in an individual or a group, and then attempting to meet that need. The Bible states** that; “we are the gospel to others, written not in pen and ink, but in the spirit of the living God.”   When, in love, we meet another’s need, we are being the Bible in action and showing the love of God.  This is a more powerful witness than any words we might bring. This is how we can put a little bit of God into that empty space in another person.

  • Answer Their Questions

This is how we can meet the spiritual needs of other individuals in the community, by trying to answer spiritual questions, by being willing to “fill the hole” in their knowledge.  We recently mounted a Community Gospel Outreach with the theme of “Have you got Questions? – We Have  Answers”.  There are always people seeking for spiritual truth, and we can take advantage of that need and offer to fill the empty place in their knowledge with the Gospel of Jesus.

  • The Deep Yearning Within Us

“The space inside us that only God can fill” is a metaphor for the deep yearning we have inside us for answers to spiritual questions.  We can find contentment and fulfilment when we allow God to answer those questions, when we indulge in the spiritual exercises of prayer and contemplation; and when we feed on the word of God in the Bible.  This is not to say that there are no happy or fulfilled atheists, they can be socially well balanced; but they exist in a different plane to the Christian who is dwelling in the Kingdom of Heaven, and who is fulfilled in the community by daily obedience to God and by interaction with others..

**2 Corinthians 3:3

What Are The Fruits Of The Spirit?

The fruits of the Spirit are quite literally those attributes that develop in your daily life as you live in the Spirit – that is – if you allow the Spirit of God to control your life.  These things, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control will begin to appear in your life from that very moment you give your life to Him by inviting Jesus to be your Savior.  It is interesting that they grow in your life in the very same order that they appear in the Holy  scriptures, thus the 1st fruit is love, the 2nd is joy, and so on.

  • Fruit - Not Gifts

    Fruit – Not Gifts

Confusing these fruits with the gifts of the spirit is a common error.  The gifts are listed in 1st Corinthians 12, and they are gifts that may appear from time to time in our spiritual life, just as the Holy Spirit wills. These spiritual gifts may be temporary,  depending on our needs, or they may be more permanent and form the basis of a particular gift or ministry – E.G., Wisdom or working miracles.  We can specially ask God for one or more of these gifts if we so wish.

  • Self-Control Is A Result, NOT An Aim!

Be aware that self control is the last item on the list.  God does everything he does as part of His purpose, and therefore there is some meaning in the fact that self control is listed last.  I believe the reason for this is that this gift comes naturally when we do have all the other gifts in place.  It is an error to attempt to impose self-control on ourselves; it is much better that it develops naturally as a  “side-effect” of the work of God’s holy spirit.  When we try to impose this on ourselves with an effort of will we are falling into the trap of relying on our own strength, instead of leaving it all to God.  We are told in scripture to seek first the kingdom of heaven and then all these things will be added unto us.  In other words, if we are simply obedient, then the gifts and the rewards will flow on to us.

  • Fruit Grows Naturally.

The fruits of the spirit are elements that grow in us as the Holy Spirit does its work in our life.  We do not consciously grow these things, they are the side effects of our obedience to God.  The new covenant states that we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our minds, and our neighbour as ourselves.  So the fruit of love that grows in us is a result of  being obedient to that command.  As we express that love that has grown in us as a result of giving ourselves to God, we become filled with joy, the joy that we share with God and with our fellows.  It grows naturally – we do not DECIDE to be joyful, it just happens.  And so on, and so on, with the other gifts as the Spirit works in our lives.

What is Genuine Religion?

  • Love One Another   In the book of James in the Bible there is a passage that states: “What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.” (GNT) The writer goes further and states that it is useless to just listen to God’s word, but that we need to put it into practice before it has any real value in our lives.  Taking care of widows and orphans is a metaphor for finding and helping the needy of this world.  If we aren’t doing that in some fashion, then this passage in James is suggesting that our religion is valueless.

  • Deeds – Not Words

James says too that we need to control our tongues. We need to be aware of the power and effect of the words we use, especially words of censure, or criticism or reproof. I read yesterday a story of a student who was set the task of reclaiming a bundle of feathers tossed into the wind, and of course he couldn’t get them all back.  So it is with the words we “toss into the wind”. It is not possible to take them all back later if we need to so do.  James said; “If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself.

  • Real Love is Practical!

By this I mean that the “Agape” love we have for our neighbours is truly expressed when we offer deeds of practical kindness and help to whosoever is in need.  The prophet John wrote (1 John:3) – “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” It is not enough to say we love others, for love to have real meaning we must act in love – back to the widows and orphans – we need to offer practical expressions of our love to our neighbours and anyone in need.

  • Hearing and doing.

James said; “Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice.”  We can go to church on Sunday morning and listen to the Word of God, and then go off home to a filling Sunday dinner, and very likely forget all we have heard.  I had a friend who said; “If I don’t get something to take to work on Monday and use during the week, then the sermon was worthless!”. The reality of our Christian walk is reflected in what we do during the week with what we heard, (or read in the Bible), on Sunday,

  • As You Sow, So Shall You Reap.

More from James – “But if you look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it and do not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice—you will be blessed by God in what you do. (James 1:23)”  We ought not to do good with the thought of a possible reward, but it is really nice to know that when we are obedient, and we bless others, then we will surely be blessed by God.  This is my own experience, that God blesses us mightily when we are obedient. There is this promise in Psalm 1 – That the man who meditates on God’s law both day and night will be like the tree that grows by the still water, and everything he does will flourish! How about that?  Wouldn’t you like it if everything you did would flourish?

  • Real Religion

Thus the question, What is Genuine Religion, is simply obedience to God and putting his love into every part of your life.  It is easy to keep from being corrupted by the world if we are flat out loving others.  We won’t have time to get into trouble!

How to be Wise

It is a good question to ask – How to be Wise? We are very prone to seeking wisdom from church leaders, from charismatic speakers and from noted authors; but there is a major fallacy in that because the wisdom that we need is specific, not general. We need wisdom that pertains to our present needs and to our present questions, and the proper way to get that is from the “true source”, that is, directly from God.

  • Is It Right For You?

What others discovered is right for them, but not necessarily right for you. You can pick a “hero” and model your behavior on them, but you will NOT succeed as they did, because your circumstances and your needs and your abilities are different. It would be too simple to succeed in life if all we had to do was choose some successful person, and copy what they did!

  • Success From Hard Work

We look at others and think; “Wow, I want to be like that, and I can do that too,” but the truth is that what looks like success, actually includes a lot of struggle and stress and striving that had to happen before the success came! The published record of other peoples deeds and adventures skips over the difficulties, and usually tells only the high points. We read all about the exciting bits, but the unexciting daily grind of the average weekday is not mentioned.

  • God’s Plan For You

You may not have realized this, but God has an individual and unique plan just for you, and for every one of his children; and the only way that plan can happen is if you seek his will, are obedient, and go forward in faith. We need to open our minds and our hearts every morning when we awake, and say; “O.K. God, what are we going to do today?” To be wise in God’s kingdom, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit of God, and to be obedient to that leading. If we do that we will be using real wisdom in our lives, we will be operating in obedience, and because obedience is always blessed, we will succeed and others will see the wisdom at work.

How Do You Know God is Here?


  • How Do You Know God is Here?

Well God doesn’t break his promises, and if He has said it, then it is so! After the last supper when Jesus was reassuring the disciples, he said; “My father and I will come and make our home in you”. Therefore, as long as you have taken Jesus into your heart, then you have got the whole lot, the trinity, right inside you. So it follows that whenever two or more Christians meet, God is THERE!

  •  The Still, Small Voice

I believe that the Hoy Spirit of God is manifest in that “still, small voice” that is mentioned in scripture. That is exactly what happens for me, if I seek the will of God. I sometimes get the answer to my prayer as a, “still, small voice”. It works just like my conscience used to work before I took Jesus in to my heart. It is not so much as a loud audible voice, but a conviction that grows inside me, until it takes on the form of words. I need to shut out the world, and concentrate really hard to hear Him.

  •  Listen to Him

The important thing in any meeting of Christians, is to take the time to listen to whatever God needs to say to those present. The most effective way to do this is to go into a time of silence, and let God speak to each individual as He wills. If those present then share their feelings, then the collective outpouring will be the voice of God! This process is known as, “being led by the spirit of God”; and is the only real way for Christians to govern themselves.

  • Let God Run the Meeting!

It is most important to make a point of allowing the Spirit of God to lead us. It is a great temptation to set an agenda, and to go on and discuss the items on the agenda as though it were a conventional business meeting. Do not allow this to happen. To discuss ‘business‘ without praying about it, is to deny God’s will, and impose the worldly standards that govern the rest of society. WE need to cultivate the ‘mind set’ that imposes prayer on every decision.

  •  How Much Do We LET Him Do?

God himself is present at every occasion, and how much He is allowed to do is a function of: “How much do we LET Him do?” God will move in your church if He is invited to, and if the request is made in 100% sincerity. Be careful what you ask for. It is better to let God decide how to answer a problem, than to ask for a specific outcome. Remember, “He is able to do more than we can ask or think”. The answer He provides may well be better than any solution you might have thought about. Only God knows all the circumstances, so it is better to leave the nature of the answer to Him.

  •  It Is Written!

What God has written will never be contradicted, unless God Himself changes it, so this is how we know that God is here: because it is written [John 14:23] in His Word. He said; “MY Father and I will come and live in you”. Jesus also promised that the Holy Spirit, the comforter, would; “come and teach you all things”; and would come and; “Lead you into all truth”. This is how you really know that God is here!

A Sermon In A Sentence

  • A Sermon In A Sentence …..

Alice wrote this comment recently, and it struck me as being a sermon in a sentence; “In Genesis God gave man dominion over earth. His intention was to not bring man to Heaven per se, but to bring the culture of heaven to earth. The Kingdom of Heaven, God as the King. He was intending to colonize earth with man and man to dominate using heavens culture. Adam messed that up and allowed sin to enter , but God never goes back on his word once spoken and man was still sent to dominate the earth. He still had a mission of living and acting in a Heavenly manner. Man was to influence man to live a righteous life. To seek the Kingdom here on earth.”

  •  Your Mission!

I see the punch line as the red type; “He still had a mission of living and acting in a Heavenly manner“. Is this not the key to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven right here on earth? If we do that, we become what the apostle Paul called in 2 Corinthians, 3:3, “Living Letters from Christ”. We don’t have to sermonize the rest of the world into the Kingdom, we just act out the Kingdom in our daily lives.

  •  God’s Game Plan

As Alice wrote, “man was [still] sent to dominate the earth”. – and this is exactly how it is to happen – we are to influence others by “living and acting in a Heavenly manner“. Dead simple really, just like most of what God wants from us. I.E., KEYWORDS = Simple Obedience. The answer to the question; “How to be Christ in the World?” is contained in Alice’s comment above, live and act in a heavenly manner. We do these two very simple things; we practice what we preach, and we “Shine our Light [the light of God’s love]”.

  •  Blame the Snake!

Adam and Eve blew it, they said it was the snake’s fault, and the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on, but whatever happened to prevent God’s harmonic plan of man in dominion over all the earth, the only way to restore that direction and let the plan happen, is if we do what Alice says, and honestly take up the mission of living and acting in a Heavenly manner. Read the first Paragraph again and discover the Sermon in a Sentence!