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Friday, March 29, 2013

Should We Expect a Miracle?

I hear tv preachers tell their audiences, "Expect a miracle today!" Applause often follows. But I wonder . . . .

Am I to expect a miracle even if God has not told me He is sending one? Won't that just bring about disappointment? Won't that make me doubt God's actions the next time I am supposed to "expect" a miracle?

Should I expect a miracle when it might violate God's will to send me one? Didn't God refuse to remove Paul's "thorn in the flesh?" Should Paul have expected a miracle after God told him that He wasn't sending it?

Do I really know better than God about what should be expected? Can I tell Him what He must do by expecting this miracle? Could it be that God has a better plan for my life without the miracle I expect?

Do all miracles give as powerful a testimony as those who live faithful lives for Him without a miracle? Does the person who dies faithfully praising his Lord speak less powerfully than the person who is healed? Is the real miracle in the healing or in the faithfulness?

Yes, I know my God can send miracles. He did not create a universe which limited His power. He can change anything for His glory. Yet, He maintains His love no matter where His will leads.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood before a king who was sending them into an incredibly hot furnace to proclaim the power of God. They made one statement that most fail to see: "But if not" They knew that God could but they also knew that He might not. That didn't change their faith and it shouldn't change ours either.

I believe in a God of love and miracles with all my heart but I know that I might not receive the miracle I want. I will still praise Him. And I will still be faithful.

Daniel 3:16-18 (ESV) 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”


Ms Oh So Opinionated said...

Hello Mr. Prentis,
this is my first time commenting. I've preached a sermon on this passage before. It's on my youtube page if you're interested in watching it (you can find it through my blog), entitled "God is always faithful, but are we?" I found this post of yours to be very thought provoking. Like you said, I think it is a set up for disappointment to expect anything from God that He didn't tell us to. The very attitude of demanding anything from God is wrong. This law of attraction pollution has got to be removed from the body of Christ pronto. The scriptures speak specifically of God's abilities, but God tells us what He does is subject to His will. We should seek God personally for answers concerning His will for us at any given moment. Alongside with your example of the 3 Hebrew boys, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane fits perfectly. Even the miracle workin' Son of God was made subject to His Father's will. Great post my brother in Christ. Have a wonderful day in the Lord. :)

Ms Oh So Opinionated

Ms Oh So Opinionated said...

Hello Mr. Prentis,
this is my first time commenting. I've actually done a sermon on this passage before (you can view it on my youtube page through my blog if you want to) entitled "God is always faithful, but are we?" I found this post of yours to be quite thought provoking. Like you said, expecting something from God that He didn't tell us to expect is a set-up for disappointment. The very attitude of demanding anything from God is wrong. This to me, is a tactic of Satan. This law of attraction pollution needs to to be removed from the body of Christ immediately. God specifically told us in the scriptures what His abilities are. He also informed us that what He does is subject to His will. Your example of the 3 Hebrew boys can go right alongside with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The miracle workin' Son of God Himself, knowing full well what God's capabilities was made subject to His Father's will. Great post my brother in Christ. May you have a wonderful day in the Lord. :)
--Ms Oh So Opinionated said...

Should we expect a miracle?

I think first, we have to have what we, each, individually, define miracle! Although the spectacular ones, most would agree, as miracles, but what about the less spectacular ones, which were or are interventions of God, nonetheless? What is natural or happening as a matter of norm, by physical or scientific laws, are generally not defined as miracles. So, how do I define a miracle? 

To me, any intervention by God, no matter how small, is a miracle.  Otherwise, it is not (a miracle). For example, God created us generally, with some capacity to heal ourselves ( when our body is strong enough, with certain conditions, in place), and when we heal naturally, it is not a miracle.  Then we also, through intelligence endowed by God, have medicine which we can administer to help us to heal. The use of medicine to help us to heal, we generally do not call that, as a miracle, generally because it is a direct result of men's works.  

To me, when God intervenes, that qualifies the event as a miracle, not just about healing, it can be in any area of life.  For example, when certain weather conditions are present, rain can come; but when such condition(s) is(are) lacking, and God intervenes to bring rain, it is a miracle (as a contrast,  if men seed the clouds to bring rain, we do not classify it as a miracle).  When we look at miracles in this way, God's intervention to open the door for you to get a job, is a miracle; His intervention to avoid a vehicle accident for you, is a miracle; even if you are hurt, but if He has intervened to lessen your injuries or death, that is still a miracle; and the many things you and I pray about, and God brings them to pass, they are miracles.

You may define miracles differently, but I will stick to mine, as above; and so, to me, I expect miracles everyday of my life! Do you pray everyday or regularly? If you do, based on my definition, you are silly to pray if you don't believe and expect miracles to take place! (I know prayer does not necessarily need to be petitioning for something, but most people's prayers do include that). 

It is interesting that two apostles recording of Jesus' attempt to do ministry in His own home-village or town, differently, in terms of this miracle-thing!  Mark, in Mark 6:5, said that Jesus could not do ANY miracle, except a few healings; Matthew, in Matt 13:58 said that Jesus did not do MANY miracles (NIV used miracles, ESV used mighty works). Were not a few healings also miracles? Matthew appeared to think so; perhaps, Mark noted the healings were for minor ailments, and did not include them as miracles (not spectacular enough?)!  I leave you to wonder about this; meanwhile, I want to pick up from where they agreed, that the minister, Jesus, was hindered by their lack of faith (NiV, or unbelief [ESV]). 

We got to believe or have faith, if not, we may not get (not necessarily won't get).  People will tend not to pray, if they do not believe that God will intervene for them.  Then there are those who still pray, but they do not really believe God will intervene for them.  Pray or not praying, without faith will not do; Scripture, in James 1:6-7, said that, when we doubt, we would be like waves of the sea, being tossed about, double-minded, and we cannot expect to receive anything from God.

Cont.... said...

Cont. From above

Ps Prentis asked a no. of questions at the beginning, the first 3 are these:
Am I to expect a miracle even if God has not told me He is sending one? Won't that just bring about disappointment? Won't that make me doubt God's actions the next time I am supposed to "expect" a miracle?. I want to talk about these 3 questions.

Once, I was told by a Pastor's wife that we should minister or pray only when we have heard from God! Then I thought, it could not be the right position to take.  Imagine, if you have a need, and you approach a pastor or minister for prayer, he pauses for a moment, and then tell you that he is not hearing anything from God and so, he is not going to pray for you!  How would you feel? 

I have since moved in the gift of words of knowledge and prophecy, and I do realize that when we do get a word from the Lord concerning someone(s) having a need, and we minister or pray for such person(s) who step forward, they are likely to get ministered by the Lord, with observable miracles at times.  I believe if I have not made a  mistake in that receiving or reading of the Lord's words or signs or visions or dreams, and I move out in faith, a miracle happens all the time for the correct ministee(s); even though, the miracle(s) may or may not be observable. Does it then, invalidate my earlier thinking above? My answer is no.  

It is best before we minister or pray for people, we do receive a word from the Lord.  When we receive a word of the rhema will of God for a situation, a miracle is likely.  While we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, if you are a pastor or minister, your default position is that you are to minister or pray for those coming to you with a need.  You should only move away from that default position when you get a word from the Lord to the contrary, like a "do not minister or pray", from the Lord. So, it is  not we, do not minister or pray for someone, until we hear a word from the Lord.

I have ministered and prayed for people without prior receiving of the words of knowledge or prophecy, and I have had two occasions of witnessing the ministee's leg grew longer to match the other longer leg!  Now, that was a miracle, an observable miracle, for both the cases.  Had I been believing that I would not minister or pray for people unless I heard from the Lord, like it was suggested by that Pastor's wife, an erroneous belief; and had I been proud from those times of being able to receive words from the Lord, and so, told people, "Sorry, I cannot pray for you; God has not told me to do so!", I would have missed the miracles I have seen above, and the blessings they brought to the people having their legs equalized in length (people with unequal leg lengths commonly have chronic backaches).

I have explained from the position of a minister.  Not only everyone of us is a minister to ourselves, even as a believer, what is your default position to take; is it not the same as that of a pastor/minister - to pray and ask for prayer, expecting God to intervene in your situation, and so, a miracle, as long as you approach Him with a proper heart-condition, of humility and contrite of heart?  In other words, a believer does not need to hear from God that He would grant a miracle, before he, the person, will expect a miracle.  In my view, even the hearing from God is a miracle, for hearing from God, is an intervention from God, in the first place!  Talk about miracle-expectancy; if you are not miracle-expectant to hear from God, would you be attentive, and will not miss out the word coming from the Lord or the Holy Spirit?  Today, we transformed of mind and heart, be miracle-expectant.

Cont... said...

Cont. From above

Bro Anthony, aren't you setting up the believers to be disappointed, for there are ones (many, even) obviously not getting what they are asking for!? That is what Ps Prentis' second question is about. God bringing to pass, what we pray for, is a miracle; so just because so many people, they pray and their prayer requests did not come to pass, we won't exhort people to pray?!  Are we to tell people to pray, and not expect God to bring their request to pass?!

Or are we also saying, only to expect God for small things, not the mighty works or miracles!  How big is your God? How omnipotent is your God? Is it if you ask God for protection, He must protect you? Is His divine protection, a miracle, albeit, you not knowing it, that He was intervening to protect you!? Or is it if you ask God for a job, that you have just been retrenched, He must give you, one? But when you ask Him for a healing, He would do nothing for it, for sure?!

The 3rd question, disappointments create doubt, right or not? Rather than hinting that people ought not to pray or ask for prayer, or be expectant, we should enlighten people that our request not coming to pass, can be due to a myriad of reasons; we should not be disappointed with God, for God is always right, even though we do not understand the rationale of God acting or not acting to our request.  Looking at this matter, this way, is not self-delusional!  If it is self-delusion, I think it is even more self-delusional to adopt the attitude of "the lesser I expect, the lesser will be my disappointment in God". Really, often times, we are thinking what is best, based on our limited understanding of situation we are in, from our own (often selfish) righteousness.  

For example, I once have a teenager approached me for prayer, because she was very disappointed with God.  She was expectant when she prayed, and encouraged her teammates repeatedly in their trainings, for a national championship in squash.  She was hoping to glorify God, and bring glory to her school, with her and her team winning at the competition. Yet, despite her training hard and much prayers, she lost badly to a much lower ranked player from another school.  She lamented to the tune of "How could God let that happen, despite her good intention?!" How do you minister to such a teenager? How can we "truthfully" lift her from her disappointment?

For such a scenario, I explained that perhaps, the opponent was also praying, and she needed a miracle (it is a miracle, for she ranked much lower than the teenager I was ministering to), and God considers it, for this occasion, that He would grant her victory, for she needed it more, perhaps.  In addition, it could be that God considers it, the teenager (I was ministering to)'s honor and privilege to be a blessing to another, in losing, despite doing her best! I went on to say that God could be considering her mature enough to sustain such a setback. I assured her that God loves her, and this occasion does not mean God does not love her, and then, I sealed all of these with a prayer for her.

Cont... said...

Cont. From above

Often times, we forget, other believers are involved in a situation, and they too, could be praying for God to help them.  So, what do you expect God to do, give you the miracle or give it to another? Other examples, included competition for business contracts, job openings, marriage partners, or organ donation for transplant, just to name a few.  We must remember God loves us, and He loves others, too; and He will do what is best in His eyes. 

I know in the case of someone is sick, it is not necessarily in competition with others in any way, at least not in the short-run (in the long-run, if no one dies, the earth is going to have problem coping with the ever-increasing world population).  Still, it is God knows what is best.  Do you and I really know what is best?  I am afraid, it is no.  So, what are you and I, to do? Ask, my friend, ask!  Remember, Scripture in James 4:2, said, "you don't get, because you don't ask".  Then, do we just ask one time? No, the Lord exhorted persistence with the telling of the Parable of the persistent woman, as narrated in Luke 18:1-8.  If you go and read Moses' plea to God to let him enter the Promised Land, you will realize that Moses asked God multiple times about the same issue. God did not strike Moses dead, but when He had heard enough, He told Moses to "shut up" and not talk about the matter anymore.  Moses asked a few times; the apostle Paul asked 3 times about his thorns; of course, you can ask and ask again; if He does not grant your plea, you may hear from Him, and that too, is a miracle, and that would settle that issue for you, for then your heart will truly able to receive it in, that His grace is sufficient for you.

Some Christians are taught the Christian life is to suffer; please-lah, that is not the default life scenario desired by God for you, although we may face suffering.  John 10:10b, Jesus said He came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.  So, unless you hear from God that you are to suffer, don't resign to it, but be miracle-expectant.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions said...

Law of attraction - comment by Ms Oh So

I agree with you that this Law of attraction stuff, has no place in the Christian faith. At the centre of it, there is no God, despite the promoters got some so-called Christian preacher to give "testimony" on it.  Essentially, the core of that hypothesis is the forces of universe would line itself up to give you anything you focus on wanting.  God is not some universe forces, and even if one describes God as a force, He does not give you anything you focus on wanting.

Petitioning to God is a completely different thing.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions