Occasional miracles, or a miraculous Lifestyle?
Paul asked the rhetorical question of the Christians in Galatia; “does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” Paul’s question was to specifically call the church back to an emphasis on grace and intimacy with God and deemphasize their focus on the law- their performance. For the contemporary church (and contemporary leaders) we need to ask ourselves why Paul’s underlying presumption is not current for most of the church today, in the western world. Where are the miracles, which should be the norm rather than the exception?
I have witnessed first hand over almost 30 years of international ministry how many churches and ministries have grabbed hold of Paul’s teaching in Ephesians regarding the true purpose of the “ascension gifts”. They are not simply for performing ministry, but rather, for training and equipping the body of Christ as a family to move into mature, fruit bearing lives as each seeks to imitate Christ Jesus. This “releasing” of ministry to every day people has, indeed, brought about a wholesale increase of healings and, even, miracles, to many, many, churches. However, we are at a point where, I believe, God wants to take many into the next level of break through. And that is going from experiencing miracles occasionally to experiencing miracles as a lifestyle.
Duel citizenship in the land of the always possible!
Anyone who has truly surrendered his or her life to Christ Jesus while still in this world is no longer of it. They have been born into the Kingdom of God. In effect, we have dual citizenship. We have the legal rights of our home nation and, more importantly, we now have supernatural rights due to our citizenship in heaven.
With the Kingdom of God, the things that are often impossible for man are always possible for God. I like to say when the Kingdom of God is moving on earth ‘the realm of the always possible is invading the realm of the often impossible’. Hence Paul’s rhetorical question to the saints in Galatia.
If you are a follower of Christ, you actually began life with a miracle- you supernaturally entered into both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus! (Romans 6.3) So as we seek first the Kingdom of God to manifest and spread on earth, as it is in heaven, there should be a consistent manifestation of God’s nature- compassion and grace, expressed supernaturally, i.e. miracles!
When discussing a Kingdom lifestyle, however, we must make sure we are not shortchanging miracles to only those of physical healings. A true miraculous Kingdom lifestyle is one in which we experience God multiplying resources (as Jesus did) and restoring lost relationships (as Jesus did). After all, the Kingdom of God is first and last about relationships- that is the only context in which Biblical love can be fully realized. And the Kingdom of God is about seeking to give, nor merely seeking to get. That is love in action.
To make some simple observations regarding miracles let’s observe a few simple facts regarding the feeding of the multitude, as related in Matthew 14.15-21:
1) Jesus directed the disciples to miraculously provide for the hungry multitude (well over 5,000 counting women & children) even though they did not even have enough even for themselves.
2) Jesus (always our model) took what they gave him and thanked the Father for it.
3) He then instructed the disciples to have the people sit down. In other words to be in a place of rest.
4) He then instructed the disciples to begin giving.
5) No one went away hungry. In fact, they had 12 basketfuls left over.
A few simple observations:
1) Right where you are at, no matter how absurd the need of the moment, there is the possibility of the ‘realm of always possible invading the realm of the often impossible’.
2) Always give thanks for God’s provision, even (and especially) if it is by faith in what He will do to meet the need.
3) Striving is the opposite of faith for grace, hence Paul’s rebuke of Galatians 3.5. It is important to live in God’s rest, even when there is turmoil all around you. Isaiah 30.15 reads: “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.”
4) A true Kingdom lifestyle is one of seeking to give, not to get. God does not desire to take you from poverty to prosperity, but rather, from poverty to generosity. (2nd Corinthians 9.6-11) *
5) When you give out of God’s miraculous provision there will always be an incredible return to you.
The Key: What, or Whom, are you focused on?
The first generation out of Egypt certainly experienced miracle, signs and wonders. However, they failed to go from their initial experiences of God’s supernatural grace to a miraculous lifestyle because their eyes were focused on the natural problems, as opposed to their supernatural Father. When the spies came back with the report of the fierce and giant enemies they chose to focus more on the enemy than on the person of God. In contrast, Jesus, when taking the 5 loaves and 2 fish from the disciples then lifted His eyes to the Father and gave thanks rather than focus on the seemingly inadequate resources and the hungry multitude.
God is calling many of us to learn to stop focusing on the giants of famine, recession, and being seemingly underfinanced for the vision He has given called us to. When Peter asked Jesus if he could do what Jesus was doing- walk in the miraculous (walk on water), Jesus said, “Come”. When, and where, Peter got in trouble was when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the size of the waves and the increase of the wind. If you are floundering at this point due to stepping out into the miraculous be encouraged. God will get you back into the boat to complete the journey. His heart, as it was towards Peter, is to give you the desires of your heart, as you adapt yourself to Him and His will for your life. Our job is to keep our eyes on Him as He leads us in a way we have never gone before!
A Final note: God is all about relationship
A final encouragement I would like to leave you with concerns trusting in relationship. While God often releases the supernatural directly by His Holy Spirit, much of the time the Holy Spirit utilizes others in Christ (the body of Christ) to release His amazing grace. This is a lesson I have been dramatically relearning the last few months. In facing some of the giants I am being confronted with God has been doing amazing miracles in many different areas. How ever, He has been doing them as I have reached out to others I am in relationship with. Let us remember: Jesus never said wherever two, or more, are gathered I will be “on him, or her” but rather I will be “in their midst”!
Marc A. Dupont
June 30, 2010
* I highly recommend Terry Appel’s excellent book “The Father’s Financial Favor”.