Part II – A Brief Study II
In the first post of this series, we began diving into my word for 2017 – MIRACLES and some things the Lord spoke to my heart over the course of the year as I paid closer attention to his activity in and around me. We established the foundation that everything God does and does not do is solely for His glory and our good and from there began breaking down the different kinds of miracles that we read about in Scripture and experience today. I suggested that there are two main “categories” of miracles – Unexpected and Expected – and from there stem five sub-categories – Nature, Healing, Protection, Provision, and Salvation/Spiritual. We then unpacked Unexpected Miracles, “those events that occur with little to no warning, and perhaps even without your knowledge, that you may or may not have ever even prayed for” and from there discussed some examples.
So, now let’s dive into the realm of Expected Miracles. What sets these apart from the stories we discussed in the first post is that these, I believe, are God’s answer to that long-suffering, enduring hope of believers. Whether it’s a few hours or many years, asking God for a miracle and fully expecting Him to act will always lead to a supercharge of faith when that answer does finally come. So let’s walk through some examples of these special moves of God.
Part I – A Brief Study I
Like many of you I’m sure, I go into each new year with a special word to serve as a sort of theme for the next 365 days. The hope is that these words will help guide our decisions, define our steps, and set some intentionality behind everything we do that year. Going into 2017, the word I felt God put on my heart was MIRACLES. At the very end of 2016, our little family made a giant move, literally, from Texas to Tennessee and in the months leading up to our transition we saw God do a number of miraculous things both in our own personal situation as well as in the lives of several people around us. I had tasted a new level of the “supernatural” and I wanted more!
What I wasn’t ready for was the testing and stretching that would come with this request to see more of the signs and wonders we read about in the Bible. So the further I got into the year, the more I began studying a little more about those moments of divine activity that occur all around us whether we choose to see it or not.
Now, I’ve never been a proponent for putting God in a box or thinking that we can somehow figure Him out this side of heaven. But I do believe that in studying His character and then correlating that with His handiwork, we can and will pick up on different patterns that might help us know how better to look for the miraculous in the everyday and even position ourselves to experience the unexplainable first-hand.
Not too long ago I was studying the first chapter out of 1 Thessalonians. If you haven’t read it recently, take the time to read the 10 verses that are there. They are super powerful and have a lot of content built into just those 10 verses. The Gospel is all over the place, the truth is clear, and it’s a great encouragement for the church.
There was a verse out of there that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind and I think it gives much more depth to the typical “Faith, Hope, and Love” we normally think of. Sometimes we see those words written on wood, placed on a wall. Sometimes we see those words in the form of a tattoo. Sometimes we even use those words with others, but do we really know what they mean and why they are so important?
“We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (CSB)
Paul was encouraging the church, thanking God for them, hearing of how they are speaking the Word and not much else to others, and how they have become an example to everyone around them.
As Christians, we are called to live the same way. We are to know the Word of God and speak that and not much else to others. We are called to be an example to everyone around us because people are watching. We are called to do all of this because of what Jesus has done for us (1 John 4:19).
So as you remember who you are in Christ, do you walk in these 3 ways?
I’m thinking about God’s best lately. What does it look like for a believer in Jesus Christ? If we are encountering God and experiencing His best for us, do we continue to have a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction with who we are, where we are or what we are doing in our present state? When things get complex, sometimes I like to revert to simpler times when things just seemed to make sense, honesty didn’t have a filter or agenda and I could see things plain as day. In many cases, I’m brought back to Denver.
Some of my favorite memories of summer in Denver have to do with an amazing amusement park just down the road from my grandmother’s house. There was no place like Elitch Gardens (Elitch’s for those in the know) for a kid during summer vacation in Denver. The Splinter, the Wildcat, Mr. Twister, all of these rides guaranteed great fun and cemented my love for roller coasters.
It made a mark on me and I made a mark on it for a long time, making sure to stick a piece of gum to the portion of the log ride where every kid and immature adult seemed to leave offerings. For me and many other North Denver kids, Elitch’s had no equal; even though Lakeside Amusement Park tried it’s best, for a cheaper price.
You know those generic/store brands posing as your favorite beverage, for example, Dr. K instead of Dr. Pepper or Green Lightning instead of Mountain Dew? That was Lakeside. I couldn’t always afford admission to Elitch’s, so I spent more time at Lakeside wishing I was at Elitch’s, for one reason in particular.
Several years ago, Stephen and I had finally reached a place financially where we could afford to use our tax return to do something we wanted, rather than sending it to pay off debt. The first thing on our list was to get rid of our old carpet that was covered in sippy-cup spots (can I get a witness?), vomit stains (thank you stomach flu), and just everyday grossness. I was finally getting new flooring! It was like 10 Christmas mornings put together!
The night before the crew was scheduled to come, we started moving all the furniture out of the living room. The last thing to go was the rug that had been lying in the same place for about 4 ½ years. We rolled that thing up and I was stunned. The carpet it had been covering up for all that time was at least 5 shades lighter than the surrounding carpet. It didn’t even look like the same flooring. It was so clean, while the rest of the carpet was worn, dingy, and disgusting. Why? This 5’x8’ rectangle was stainless and like new because, for the duration of most of its time in our house, it was covered and protected. It wasn’t exposed to the same level of wear and tear that the rest of the room was. It was shielded from the spills, muddy shoes, toddler brawls, and settled in grime. But as we were going about our days, we were oblivious to just how much damage was being done to the surrounding carpet until we saw the difference side by side.
Insert cheesy spiritual analogy . . .
Isn’t it so true though?
If you study the Bible from cover to cover, one of the most consistent themes you will find is the command and reminder to pursue holiness, to be set apart from the rest of the world.