Christmas In Five

Some times I take for granted the miracles I read about in the Bible. Elijah raising a child who had died? Sure, I believe that. Absolutely! The Bible is true, so when it describes an historical event, I have no problem believing it. After all, Scripture also says God can do the impossible. I believe that too.

So I read in Scripture about a crowd, most likely approaching seven to ten thousand people, out in an isolated place away from markets and inns, and it’s getting late. They’ve been listening to Jesus and some had waited their turns for Him to heal them. It had all been very impromptu, and they didn’t have anything to eat. Mostly.

There was that one lad the book of John mentions who had five loaves of bread and two fish. From that offering — I don’t think the disciples took it from him, though they’d apparently gone through the crowd looking to see how much food was available — Jesus fed the whole lot of them, with enough leftovers to take care of what the disciples would need for days to come.

It’s a great story, a dramatic story, one all four gospel writers recorded. And well they should, because a few days later, Jesus chided His disciples for their little faith, asking them if they’d already forgotten about Him feeding that crowd. Apparently they didn’t forget again.

But back to my taking Biblical miracles for granted. For much of my life, I’ve thought God did those amazing things in a time when The Saints walked on earth. There were prophets and apostles and people who rubbed shoulders with Jesus day after day. Why wouldn’t they experience God’s miracles? But today … Mostly the people who claim to do miracles seem like con artists. And many who say they believe seem like they’re really stretching to find something they can call a miracle, like the image of Jesus in a window smudge.

I don’t see the Bible recording anything trivial and passing those along as miraculous. Instead, God’s acts were dramatic and life changing. You think that lad ever forgot what Jesus did with his five loaves of barley bread?

But here’s the point. The book of James reminds people of a particular miracle that occurred in Elijah’s day. He prayed, at God’s direction, that it would not rain, and it didn’t rain for three and a half years. Then he prayed again and the sky poured forth rain. Drought and famine over. As a prelude to recording these events, however, James gives us one other important bit of information: Elijah was a man with a nature like ours (James 5:17). He was not a super saint. In fact, the people in the Bible didn’t perform any miracles — God did.

It is God who is mighty to save. It is God who redeems His people. It is God who stretches out His hand in compassion, who draws us to Himself, who heals, restores, forgives, renews.

Why don’t we see miracles of Biblical proportion today? I think we might if we knew where to look.

Think back to the early church. Was God any less at work on Paul’s behalf when He prompted the church in Philippi to send him money when he was in need? I mean, this was Paul, the man who healed the sick, yet he was in need. God raised up His church to share with him in his affliction. Is that less a miracle than when Peter pulled the gold coin out of the fish’s mouth?

Paul wasn’t taking a collection or telling the Philippians about a donor who would match their gifts or offering them a special edition of his latest sermon for a contribution of any amount. He trusted God to meet his needs, and God worked in the hearts of the believers in Philippi.

I’ve seen God work that same miracle in my life and it makes me want to shout, What can’t God do!!

Of course, I can quickly get tangled up with what I believe. I don’t want to presume on God or fall under the false ideas of “name it and claim it” theology. I don’t want to ask, as James warns in chapter four, with wrong motives “to spend it on my own pleasures.” But all that, true as it is, should not drowned out the shout: God my Savior is mighty to save.

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm  Comments (4)  
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