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Miracles?

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Do miracles still happen? Have you ever personally seen one?


Steve Answers:

The answers to both of your questions are the same: yes! Miracles still happen, and, yes, I have personally seen one—actually many more than one! But I must admit that they don't always happen when I want them to, and sometimes they happen when I wish they wouldn't. Let's take a look at some miracles in the Bible, and then we’ll compare them to some miracles today.

Let's start with defining a miracle as something that's supernatural to us. For many, the first verse of the Bible reveals a miracle: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, KJV). But none of us were around to see it happen. So some come up with creative alternatives to the supernatural, such as evolution and other explanations that seek to leave out the supernatural.

When Moses introduced himself to Pharaoh after hiding in the wilderness for 40 years, God told Moses to be ready with a miracle (Exodus 7:8, 9). But Pharaoh’s sorcerers and magicians were able to do the same “trick,” so Pharaoh wasn’t impressed (Exodus 7:11-13). The miracles continued, including Moses’ turning water from the Nile into blood. Many people forget that Pharaoh’s magicians also did this “miracle” (Exodus 7:20-23).

Pharaoh wasn’t impressed with the miracles, because his guys could do the same things, even though it was messing up his kingdom. It wasn’t long before God did even greater things, and Pharaoh’s magicians couldn’t replicate them. That got the magicians’ attention and eventually Pharaoh’s attention as well (see Exodus 8:7, 18, 19; 12:29-32).

But miracles don’t necessarily bring about faithful obedience. The Israelites in the desert, who had seen the many miracles in Egypt as well as in the wilderness, still didn’t believe that they could enter the Promised Land once they heard there were giants present (Numbers 14:22, 23). Moses reminded the people that they should obey God since they had seen His miracles (Deuteronomy 11:3; 29:3).

Many years later when Elijah gathered the Israelites on Mount Carmel for the sacrificial showdown between Yahweh and Baal, Elijah prayed for fire to come down from heaven. His reason? “So these people will know that you, O Lord, are God” (1 Kings 18:37). And fire came down from heaven and devoured the sacrifice. But Elijah had to pray seven times before the miracle of rain came after the fire (1 Kings 18:41-44).

During Jesus’ ministry many miracles became evident, which you would expect, since Jesus was God (certainly supernatural) in human form. His birth was even a miracle (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:34-38)!

At the start of His ministry, Jesus’ first “miracle” was changing water into wine in Cana. The result was that His disciples believed in Him (John 2:11). I wonder why nobody else at the wedding believed in Him, since they witnessed the same miracle. What about the servants who had filled the pots with water?

When Jesus healed the man who’d been born blind, some religious leaders considered this a miracle from God. Others said that it couldn’t come from God, because Jesus broke their Sabbath rules when He healed the man. According to John 9:16, “they were divided.” Evidently miracles convince some but not others.

Toward the end of the Gospel of John we read: “Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book. But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in him, you will have true life” (John 20:30, 31, CEV).*

That’s in sharp contrast to what John wrote after Jesus resurrected Lazarus, and before Jesus was crucified: “He had worked a lot of miracles among the people, but they were still not willing to have faith in him” (John 12:37, CEV).

What I glean from these Bible stories (and there are many more of them) is that:

• miracles are supernatural (they can be done by God or others with supernatural powers).

• miracles cause some people—but not everyone—to believe that they were supernatural occurrences.

• miracles don’t always happen in the same way (there’s no magical formula).

Do miracles happen today? Some would think that after Jesus returned to heaven, that would be the end of miracles. But the book of Acts records all kinds of miracles. (Read Acts 5:11-20; 6:8-15; 8:5-25; 14:9-20; 19:11, 12 for just a few examples.)

Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 12:10 that miracles are one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that can be given to believers. In Hebrews 2:4 you can read that one of the ways that God confirms His messages is through miracles. So we can expect miracles to continue after Jesus returned to heaven, which means today—in our day.

Yet in scientific and technological societies, people’s tendency is to look for a rational explanation behind miracles. If you’ve seen the special effects of Hollywood or done creative things on a computer, you’ve learned that “seeing is not necessarily believing.” I

n societies that are more religious or societies that aren’t into technology as much, “seeing is believing.” In a remote town in El Salvador I was making arrangements for a group of youth to come there on the Ultimate Workout and build a church for this new congregation. During the church service on Sabbath I gave a little visual illustration of the miracle God does in removing our sins. I have a simple magic trick I purchased at a magic store that makes it appear that a small handkerchief disappears. It's just a trick, not something supernatural.

In this village they thought this trick was supernatural but not from God. In fact, they told me that the teens couldn't come to the village because I was Satanic (negatively supernatural).

I had to take the head elder outside and show him that I'd just hidden the handkerchief from them. When he saw that the trick really wasn’t supernatural, he laughed, then told the congregation that I really wasn’t from the devil. And the teens were able to come and construct a new church for them.

Are you the kind of person who’s apt to believe any miracle is from God, even though the supernatural miracles can come from the devil (Revelation 13:13, 14; 16:14)? Or are you skeptical or maybe clueless to the point that you won’t believe a miracle that has happened to you or right around you (see Mark 6:52)?

Do miracles from God happen today? I say yes, because God’s Spirit is still active on earth like He was in Old Testament times. Plus, I’ve heard about miracles, and I’ve seen people’s lives changed because of miracles that happened.

Have I personally ever seen a miracle? Yes! When I accepted Jesus as my own Savior, I changed. I had an inner peace plus an unending joy I’d never experienced before. I quit fighting with my mother and sister (which they considered to be a miracle, too!).

Maybe you’re wondering about some big miracle event, such as a supernatural healing, or crossing the Red Sea, or something like that. Do those kind of miracles still happen?

Like many people, on occasion while traveling in vehicles, something’s happened, and it seems that I should’ve been killed. I have no explanation except, “it was a miracle.”

I’ve even experienced an unexplainable change in weather. A storm cloud that covered half the sky moved toward us, split, then went around us and joined on the other side. Because of that, we were able to complete the construction of a church on the last day of a mission trip.

I wasn’t at the Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the year the tornado went around the camp and joined up on the other side. But when I heard about it, I remembered how the weather had done the same type of thing on that mission trip.

Sometimes I’ve prayed for money to come in the mail to keep Piece of the Pie Ministries going. I’ve also prayed for God to send a certain amount of money (I knew of an organization that owed me that amount, and they should’ve paid it by that time). I went as far as telling God that I wouldn’t continue with Piece of the Pie Ministries unless He provided that amount of money in my post office box that very day.

I trembled when I went to the post office and couldn’t find an envelope from the organization that owed me the money. Why am I still involved with Piece of the Pie Ministries? Because in the mail that day was a check for more than 10 times that amount from another organization. They were requesting that I do some work for them in the future, and they were choosing to pay me in advance. I was certainly not expecting that! I consider that to be a miracle, and I’m still working for Piece of the Pie Ministries (which was recently renamed Involve Youth)!

I’ve preached sermons, and people have heard things that I didn’t say—sometimes even the exact opposite of what I said. Then they’ve told me that I preached a message from God specifically for them at that time. It must have been a miracle—I didn’t say what they heard!

I’ve been involved in countless youth ministry events in which there was something present that was certainly beyond anything we could’ve planned or even “tricked” people into thinking. Our only explanation was that the supernatural was present, and we all knew it.

How many miracles have happened to you or around you this past week, month, year, or during your lifetime so far? Ask other youth in your church. For a greater span of years, ask the older members in your congregation.

It’s possible that we may miss miracles that happen right in front of us. In 2 Kings 6:16, 17 you can read about Elisha’s servant who was terrified of the Aramean army that surrounded their city. Elisha calmly said, “Don’t be afraid. There are more troops on our side than on theirs” (CEV). Then Elisha prayed for the eyes of his servant to be opened. The servant saw a mountain of horses and chariots of fire around them.

I wonder how often I’ve missed miracles because I didn’t see the supernatural all around me. In the past year I can quickly think of at least six miracles that happened to me, and I didn’t even think of them as miracles until somebody else pointed out that they were supernatural, often happening after I’d begun praying for them to happen. I wonder how many other miracles I’m oblivious to.

How about you? Are you also unaware of miracles all around you? Or are you the kind of person who can help to point them out for others to see the supernatural activity of God?

I’d recommend that the first miracle you pray for is that the Holy Spirit will come into your heart and live through your life. When that happens, the supernatural will be flowing through you. Then it’s just a matter of discernment for you to then praise God for the miracles that are happening today! *Scripture quotations credited to CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

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