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Posts Tagged ‘Miracles’

 

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus included eight statements called beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10). Each one highlighted a virtue that results in the highest kind of happiness: sweet contentment not based on circumstances but on joyful faith in God and his provision for all we need.

In addition to the beatitudes of Matthew 5, the Bible offers dozens of blessing-statements—each one an encouraging slice of truth about God and his ways for us. They just aren’t constructed in typical beatitude style.

For example, consider Psalm 37:4:

 

 

Written as a beatitude:

 

Blessed are those who delight in God

for they shall receive the desires of their hearts.

 

Of course, the desires of our hearts often reflect child-sized plans, while God may have designed a “hugely dimensional destiny” that will surprise everyone.[1]

Kara’s* story illustrates. She fully expected to attend university and then enter the world of business. But even with a straight-A average, no scholarship materialized, and her parents earned too much money to qualify for sufficient financial aid.

Unless she took out a large student loan, Kara’s only option was community college. Highly disappointed—embarrassed even—she applied. Meanwhile a letter happened to arrive from that local college, describing a new course of study in TV production.

 

 

Kara had just completed a high school course in multimedia programming and loved it, so she applied for this new program and was accepted. Better yet, God provided full tuition as she earned that degree. And best of all, he molded Kara’s desire to coincide with the delightful and satisfying plan he’d designed for her.

Now years later, Kara and her husband make their living in the entertainment industry. No doubt the two of them marvel how God brought them together to work in a medium they love.

Kara is a miracle.

Romans 5:3-4 offers another beatitude truth:

 

 

As a beatitude it might read like this:

 

Blessed are those who embrace their challenges,

for they shall be changed for the better.

 

Anne wanted to support her husband’s dream of a free counseling service in their community and began making pretzels to sell at the local farmer’s market.

Through long effort and a number of failures, Anne was able to grow the business into hundreds of franchises across the country. You’ve probably eaten one of Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels at a mall or airport.

 

 

Anne’s personal life also included struggles, failures, and even the death of one of her children. Yet she says, “I am now thrilled to live this life, feeling that each day is one to be enjoyed. God’s grace and forgiveness are what got me through it all.”[2]

Anne is a miracle.

Our third new beatitude is based on Mark 10:27b:

 

 

Beatitude style?

 

Blessed are those who care less about their limitations

and care more how limitless God is.

 

The bio on the backs of Jennifer Rothschild’s books informs the reader she is a wife, mother, and recording artist. Jennifer also travels the country as a speaker, and cofounded WomensMinistry.NET.

What the bio does not reveal is that Jennifer has been blind since age fifteen. In her book, Lessons I Learned in the Dark, she wrote: “God often wraps difficult gifts with His grace—and then uses them to display His glory.”[3] Jennifer’s productive and joyful life perfectly illustrates that statement.

Jennifer is a miracle.

All three women exemplify what Rev. Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) wrote long ago:

 

 

Kara, Ann, Jennifer, and countless other believers demonstrate: When we embrace God’s be-attitudes, we not only experience the highest kind of happiness; we become miracles.

 

*Name changed.

 

Notes:

[1] Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant, pp. 160-161.

[2] Karol Ladd, Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive, pp. 147-148.

[3]  Jennifer Rothschild, Lessons I Learned in the Dark, p. 84.

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.freebibleimages.org; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.stocksnap.io; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.canva.com (2).

 

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For one of his most stunning and delicate works of art, The Supreme Craftsman begins with the most innocuous of materials: dust and water.

His factory/workshop for these masterpieces is the upper atmosphere of Planet Earth where he sets into motion a miracle of formation and intricate design.

God endowed water vapor with the ability to cling, even to the tiniest of dust particles floating high into the atmosphere. And when the temperature drops below freezing, those wet, clinging molecules turn into ice crystals. Very quickly they form a hexagon shape, no more than .008 or .009 of an inch in diameter, and a snowflake is born.

Vapor continues to bond to the hexagons in different ways as temperature, wind velocity, and density of moisture vary—even within the same cloud.

Some snowflakes maintain a hexagon shape.

 

(Photo by Wilson Bentley)

 

Others develop arms, and from the arms grow lacy patterns or feathery extensions.

 

 

As the snowflake tumbles downward from the clouds, vapor continues to cling and ice crystals continue to form—up to 1,000 microscopic crystals, each impacted by differing conditions. One outcome is certain: the greater the humidity, the more complex the pattern.

 

 Another photo by Wilson Bentley, 1890)

 

Is it true what they say, that no two snowflakes are alike? Most meteorologists say yes, because the dust particles themselves come from countless different sources–from sand, soil, and volcanic ash to decayed plant and animal material.

Add to that the wide-ranging variations of weather conditions mentioned above, and it becomes apparent: an infinite combination of factors contributes to the infinite number of patterns.

 

 

 

 

But God isn’t finished yet.

The awe factor is increased as tiny snowflakes begin to gather:

  • in graceful drifts,

 

 

 

  • on every branch of the trees,

 

 

  • and in sparkling swaths across the landscape.

 

 

And a few lessons present themselves as well:

 

  1. If God cares about the formation of snowflakes, he surely cares about the formation of his children.

A practically minded person would take one look inside God’s snowflake-factory and shake his head. “Why bother with all these designs?” he might ask. “Such a waste when they’re just going to turn to slush and eventually evaporate!”

But our God is a true Artist at heart, paying attention to details and creating beauty where it isn’t even necessary.

How much more must he desire to create the beauty of his holiness within our spirits?

 

  1. By itself, one snowflake is a fragile entity. But think what an avalanche or glacier can do.

 

 

By himself, one person can accomplish little. But think what happens when human effort is multiplied.

We weren’t created for isolation; God intends for us to live in community with other believers. Together we can achieve great good. Groups of Christians have generously brought aid to those in need, built schools, hospitals, and orphanages, even accomplished the abolition of slavery—to name a few examples.

There is strength in numbers, whether it’s snowflakes or God’s people.

 

  1. The miracle of snow occurs in silence; the miraculous power of God works silently, too.

 

 

Hours before we catch snowflakes on our gloves, the Supreme Craftsman sets the conditions and engineers the circumstances for their creation. Silently the snow comes, and finally we hold in our hands a breath-taking miracle of dust and ice crystals.

Similarly, long before we take note of an answered prayer or unbidden blessing, The Supreme Craftsman sets the conditions and engineers the circumstances for their fulfillment.

Silently he comes. And suddenly we hold in our hands a breath-taking miracle of his power and love.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Maker of Miracles, just as your universe is full of wonder, so are our lives. We can’t begin to recount all the awesome works you have performed for our benefit. All we can do is sing for joy at the work of your hands!

 

(Psalm 40:5, 66:5, 92:4)

 

(Art & photo credits:  http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.flickr (James P. Mann); http://www.wikimedia.com (2); http://www.pixabay.com (Natalia Kollegova); http://www.pixnio.com; http://www.flickr.com (AMagill); http://www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.nws.noaa.gov; http://www.paxpixel.freegreatpcitures.com; http://www.flickr.com & Nancy Ruegg.)

 

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“Come see what I found!” our middle-school neighbor called to us the other day.  Steve and I had just pulled into the driveway from doing errands.

We joined Emmie under their tall oak tree; she pointed to a fat,three-inch caterpillar slowly making his way up the trunk. It was the Hungry Caterpillar and he’d discovered steroids!

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“Do you know what kind of moth or butterfly he’ll become?” I asked.

“Yeah.  I looked him up on the internet.  He’s an Antheraea Polyphemus.  He’ll turn into a moth with big eyes on his wings.”

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Even though the metamorphosis of caterpillar to moth is a common occurrence, the process is still a miracle–a special revelation of God’s creative genius and power.

As I studied that chubby green fellow lumbering up the tree, I marveled again:

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Of course, God’s astounding works are not limited to creation.  Supernatural manifestations of his divine power occur all around us. Frequently.

Examples include those times when:

Events coincide to produce a glorious result.

My friend, K, was visiting from out of town, and we decided to get our hair done together.  At the time, my hairdresser’s son was dealing with a medication addiction, and K was able to speak with M from experience, about dealing with an addiction of a family member. M was so grateful for K’s wisdom. “God sent you here today!” she said to my friend as tears welled up in her eyes.

The impossible is made possible.

I thought I lost my watch at the Atlanta Airport. It turned up in my carry-on bag in the outside pocket. I’m quite sure God picked it up and put it there! Granted, some would call it a coincidence.  Most of you know what I call it: a God-incidence.

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A need is not just met, but supplied beyond what we’d even thought of.

The church my husband pastored for ten years awarded a number of scholarships each year to students furthering their education.  They provided our son a full scholarship to seminary.  He’s been a pastor now for six years.

Perfect, surprise blessings seem to fall from heaven itself.

In the 1980s our church enjoyed the ministry of an outstanding music director. However, Diane’s husband was transferred less than two years later and sadly, they had to move.

Fast forward twenty years.  Steve was pastor of a different church on the other side of the state. When we needed a music minister, guess who applied?! Diane and her husband lived just to the north.  Soon we were enjoying her creativity, passion, and expertise—all over again!

Sure disaster doesn’t materialize.

I pulled Steve’s new car into a parking space at a strip mall, so proud of driving his stick shift with no frog-jumps. Imagine my surprise, upon returning to the lot to discover the car had rolled across the aisle! I’d forgotten to set the brake. But the car sat in its new spot as if that were the space I’d pulled into—albeit backwards. One more God-incidence that filled me with wonder.

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And wonder is a perfect gateway to worship.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *   *

I praise you, O Father, for the countless miracles you perform, demonstrating your gracious compassion and the splendor of your glory. How awesome are your deeds on our behalf. Contemplation of your astounding works makes me giddy with joy!

(Psalm 77:11; Job 5:9; Psalm 66:5b; Psalm 92:4)

What sign or wonder provides a gateway to worship for you?  Please share in the comment section!

(Art & photo credits:  www.bugguide.net; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pinterest.com (3).

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Minnesota Blizzard 10 - 22609

Minnesota Blizzard 10 – 22609 (Photo credit: DavidErickson)

Maria felt compelled to make a big pot of lamb stew one winter morning. By afternoon she knew why. A blizzard paralyzed city traffic. Right down the street from her home a bus load of passengers became stranded. Maria perked coffee for them—pot after pot–and invited them into her home for the lamb stew. Gratefully and incredulously they came, about half a dozen or so at a time. The driver was the last to be served, with the remaining spoonfuls from the bottom of the pot. Maria never even got a taste! But it didn’t matter. Her heart was filled with gratitude that God had prompted her to make that stew. He enabled her to help twenty-plus stranded commuters and show them the love and grace of God.

Gordon burned his hand severely—so badly the doctor said he’d probably have to amputate several fingers. But Gordon’s mother and many others prayed, and day by day the hand got better—not worse. Today, you have to look close to even find the scar.

Nita often wears a favorite pair of gold earrings, given to her by her children. One day while golfing with her husband, she lost one those precious earrings. Nita was heartsick. A few days later, these avid golfers were again on the course. Nita prayed. “Father, I don’t know where that earring is, but you do. Please help me find it.” On the twelfth green, when Nita walked up to where her ball had landed, she saw something glinting in the grass. Not one foot from where her ball landed, there was her earring.

These stories are just three of many, recently shared by members of the Bible study I attend.  Maria, Gordon, and Nita are in that group.  No doubt you’ve heard stories like theirs, too. In fact, you’ve probably experienced a few miraculous situations yourself. It’s important we share our God-stories as encouragement for our faith. Our God-stories prove:

1) God’s Word is true. God is loving, gracious, faithful, and powerful.

2) We are never without hope.

3) God keeps his promises.

4) God continually blesses his children.

5) Christianity works.

Do all of these facts mean we can expect God to intervene in every difficult circumstance? No. We’d become very spoiled children if he did. But the number of times God does provide miracles goes beyond coincidence. They are indeed God-incidents.

Yet we cannot ignore the times God does not answer our prayers as we’d wish. Sometimes he does not step in to provide and protect. He does not always solve our problems for us. It’s in those situations that God works a different set of miracles: patience and perseverance (James 1:2), growth in godliness and spiritual strength, his compassion and mercy (James 5:11).

Such statements might sound glib to someone recently bereaved of a loved one, or an innocent person suffering unfair circumstances. But there are powerful God-stories from suffering saints as well.

G. lost her husband recently and was terribly insecure about living on her own. But God revealed his presence to her in a powerful physical sensation of warmth through her whole body. Although still grieving, G. has felt surrounded by God’s peace and empowering presence.

K. had always dreamed of getting married, creating a home, and raising several children. Then came her fortieth birthday. It appeared that dream was not going come true. Depression seeped into the corners of her life, even though she was a woman of strong faith. But day by day, the truths of God’s Word fed her spirit and hope began to grow again. Not the hope of marriage and a family, but hope in God’s plan to prosper her, to give her a future (Jeremiah 29:11)—albeit in a different direction.

In the final analysis, these miracles are the most wondrous of all. They are miracles of transformed hearts.

“Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the black chariots of bright grace” – Charles Spurgeon.

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