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Expecting The Miraculous

Expecting The Miraculous

To savor the experience of a God who can and will do miraculous things, we must first commit ourselves to a righteous and vibrant prayer life.

Mike Rhoades | Nov 17, 2017

A Miraculous Story: Bound and gagged, he lay in the cold snow as blood dripped from his forehead. Inside the guard shack, he could hear a man's voice discussing what to do with his prisoner. He let his head fall back onto the icy, blood-stained ground. When a voice spoke to his heart “The God of Peter is your God.” Moments later the same clear, calm voice whispered in his head, “get up.” Taken aback he did nothing, but the voice came again, “get up.” So he rolled onto his knees and to his amazement, the ropes binding him fell to the ground. Still confused he labored to his feet. Astonishingly, the guards didn’t seem to notice. Slowly he began to limp across the courtyard toward the outer wall. At 8 feet tall, with peaks covered in broken glass and spiraling barbed wire the walls were meant to intimidate any would-be fugitives. Standing at the base of the wall, the futility of his ill-fated escape attempt overtook him. But there it was again, that voice, so calm and so familiar. “Jump!” This time without hesitation, he jumped. Miraculously he cleared the wall, landing just beyond the drainage pits filled with human waste. His mind was instantly clear as his heart pumped furiously with adrenaline. Jumping to his feet, he sprinted into the forest, disappearing under the cover of night. Miles away, across two mountains. At this same time, a small group of friends secretly gathered together. Their friend had just been arrested as an enemy of the state by the local police. They were huddled together in earnest prayer, pleading with God for their dear friend. Casually, without saying a word, one member of the group stood to his feet and left the house. Walking through the dark forest he continued to pray. In spite of his prayers, his mind was distracted. He had heard this voice many times before. It was the gentle voice of God, but he wondered why God sent him into the woods alone. After walk for some time, he heard the frantic footsteps of someone running towards him. “Was it the police?" "Did they return to take the rest of us to prison?” he wondered silently. Crouching into the underbrush, eyes straining in the dark, his mind was racing. As the shadowy figure approach, they began to look familiar. "Could it be?" he thought. Indeed, it was the same friend that had been captured by the police. He jumped up, yelling his name and the two marveled at what just happened. This is a retelling of the story of Brother Yun, a missionary preacher in the Chinese underground church who witnessed the miraculous power of God first-hand. We love to say God can do miraculous things. However, to actually expect miracles to happen is a different thing completely. It can be easy for us to read stories from the Bible and subconsciously believe, “different time, different place.” Our culture is built on common sense, logic, and reason. We measure and plan every little detail of our lives. If we are honest, sometimes this is how we approach our faith and church life. We like it predictable and quantifiable - it’s easier that way. We read about Peter being rescued from prison with reserved adoration. It’s almost like we don’t really want to need God. We just like to know He’s capable of swooping in if we ever need Him to. Let's read the story of Peter’s prison break again:
“The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him. Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!” When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. 13 He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!” “You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.” Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. -- Acts 12:6-16 NLT
Do you notice any similarities between the two stories? Both men were arrested for their faith in Jesus. Each man was beaten and bound. Yet, in spite of all this, both men simply got up and walked out of the prison. Finally, in both stories, a group of friends gathered together and prayed for God to do something. The biggest difference? One happened almost 2000 years ago and the other happened less than 50 years ago. In other words, the God of the Bible who does miraculous things is still alive and working in our world today. Prayer That Moves God To Action: In both of these stories, prayer was a central character. On the surface, a prayer meeting doesn’t seem miraculous. People pray together all the time. So what makes prayer so incredible? Could it be that prayer influenced the outcome of these stories? For some, the thought of “changing God’s mind” can fringe on poor theology. If you believe that God is all-knowing and the He is going to “work all things according to the counsel of His will,” (Eph. 1:11) then what good does it do to think that we could “influence” the mind and intention of God? Isn’t that a bit arrogant? There does seem to be a precedent for the place and purpose of prayer as a means to impact the outcome of events in the Bible. In Matthew 14:13 Jesus says, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.” James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” The Bible is filled with verses like this. And in the stories of Brother Yun and Peter, God chose to do something miraculous. Prayer, by their friends and themselves, led both men from prison by the presence and power of God. To savor the experience of a God who can and will do miraculous things, we must first commit ourselves to a righteous and vibrant prayer life. We need to bask in the presence of our Creator. It is by tasting the goodness of God that we can then see through His eyes and marvel at the wonders around us. It is through prayer that we develop a faith that moves mountains. The Miraculous Moment: We fail to recognize miraculous things every single day. Both stories are about men who were sent to prison and were awaiting death because of their faith. It’s doubtful that you will ever be forced to endure something so extreme. That doesn’t mean that your everyday struggles aren’t as real. God is a personal and intimate Father, no detail escapes His attention. Even when you think that you stand alone, God is present. The problem with miracles is that most of the time they happen to other people. For example, we might hear a story of someone who lost their leg in a boating accident. Then out of nowhere, the leg grew back! We think to ourselves, “Yeah, good for them, but I still can’t pay my rent this month". But what’s the difference between a man’s leg growing back and God rewarding your hustle with rent money? Both require God to impose His will on a situation. It's easy to get so overwhelmed by the pace of life that we fail to enjoy the miracles at work in our everyday lives. The band All Sons And Daughters wrote the lyrics, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise.” It’s a reference to when God breathed life into Adam and Eve. It literally means that we get to experience a miracle of God every time we take a breath. To truly understand the significance of simply taking a breath should cause us to burst into spontaneous praise and worship. What we find significant is often different from what God finds significant. We question why a Jesus loving saint of a person dies from cancer and God may very well be celebrating their arrival in Heaven by saying, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matt. 25:23) God is at work all around us. He is executing His plan for humanity to perfection. Even though we are too busy worrying about trivial things to see to see it, He is still moving and working all around us. His miracles never cease even though they may cease to amaze us. Our life is a miracle. The fact that Jesus came to provide redemption is a miracle. He didn’t have to do it. He is God and He can do whatever He wants. The presence of God is a miracle. That He would care enough for us to work in and through us is a miracle. Brokenness in the world doesn’t minimize God, on the contrary, it enhances His presence. Don’t miss the forest for the trees and don’t miss the miracles of life while fretting over things that don’t matter.

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