I’ve been asking myself a question lately. “Why wait until you’re out of gas and sitting stranded on the highway to go to the gas station and get some fuel?”
Yes, the answer is obvious. Don’t wait that long! It’s ridiculous! Nobody does that if they can help it!
But in Christianity, we do it all the time. Why has it taken me this long as a Christian to understand that I’ve been running on low to zero fuel?
I suppose it’s because my fuel gauge has been off. I’ve measured the levels of God’s power in my life by the wrong reference points. It’s not about how many ministry activities fill my schedule or how many people say they loved the worship service at church. It’s not about whether I feel content in my walk with Jesus, or whether circumstances in my life seem to be going smoothly.
There’s a new reference point on my mind now, and it’s as old as the gospel. Does my life look like the lives of the apostles and church members in the book of Acts? Does my life evidence any of the signs that Jesus prophesied would follow those who believe in Him?
“In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. ”
God “Doesn’t Do” Miracles Anymore?
“Yeah, I know Jesus said that, but Teddi, you can’t seriously expect to see that stuff in your life, can you?” And I would ask you, “Why not?”
The old objections have gained a hollow ring in this age of the Internet and widespread communications. The old excuse, “But nobody in today’s world is operating in the kind of power the apostles had!” simply isn’t true.
Look around. Turn on the television and flip to the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Open your web browser and do a search for testimonies of miracles. There are documented modern-day testimonies of people cured of “incurable” diseases, of people raised from the dead, of just about every kind of miracle recorded in the Scriptures.
Truly, our God is the same yesterday, today and forever! He hasn’t stopped empowering His disciples to do miracles. For quite a few centuries, most of His disciples were in ignorance of His willingness and desire to do those miracles through them, but that is changing. More and more of us are awakening to fresh faith as the Holy Spirit enlightens the Scriptures to our wondering eyes. And the evidence of this faith revival is all around us, if we’re willing to look and believe.
You Can’t Count On Miracles?
A subtler (but insidiously worse, IMO) deception in the Church today is the nod of acceptance given to the existence of miracles while staunchly declaring that you never know when God will decide to do them. “Sometimes He does, sometimes He doesn’t. He gives life to some people and takes away life from others, and you just never know which it will be for you.”
Come on, people! That is not the kind of attitude Abraham had. God told Abraham (then Abram) a lot of fantastic stuff. There was no earthly reason for Abram to believe God — nobody in the society around him was getting these incredible blessings. Why should Abram think he’s so special? But Abram didn’t concern himself with any of that. God said it, and that settled it for him, despite all evidence to the contrary.
The people listed in the Hebrews 11 hall of faith all chose to believeGod’s Word rather than the evidence of the circumstances around them. They are the shining examples for us to follow. But too often, our objections sound much closer to those of the generation of Israelites saved out of Egypt. Despite God’s words — and the mighty evidence of miracles all around them! — they chose to succumb to fear and doubt. By word and action, they showed God that they didn’t believe His promises. And without faith, God’s promises had no way to come true in their lives. They died in the wilderness.
If we look around and see the vast majority of Christians lacking the sort of power and spiritual success the early Church had, our conclusion cannot be that the Promiser has withheld from us what He gave to them. It must be that we are lacking in faith the receive those same promises. God doesn’t change. And He doesn’t pick and choose some believers to bless and others to put through fiery trials. But the book of James makes it quite clear that even receiving the simplest of requests — a request for wisdom, which God gives generously without regard for our sin — will be utterly sabotaged by even the smallest hint of doubt in the asker.
Filling The Tank
What prompted this entry was watching some testimonies on the Believer’s Voice of Victory TV broadcast. The stories all had a similar pattern:
- A Christian faced a serious test of their faith (medical diagnosis of a killer disease or life-threatening situation for a child).
- The Christian got serious about feeding the promises of God into their hearts by every channel available (reading it, hearing it, declaring it) as close to 24×7 as possible.
- The promises of God came through after a variable period of time standing in faith.
In these particular testimonies, each Christian had come across “Word of faith” (WOF) teaching prior to facing the trial. Although some Christian groups warn against the WOF movement as if it’s heresy, the best of WOF teaching simply encourages the believer to have faith in — to believe — the Word of God for what it says and to stop doubting!
Slight side note: I recommend every Christian pray and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit before believing anything they hear preached by any man (we should always guard against deception, and even the best preachers may get it wrong on occasion). But I also recommend you don’t reject any preacher sight unseen just because someone you think is a good, sound Christian says they’re bad. Only the Holy Spirit has the right and perfect wisdom to tell you what you should and shouldn’t listen to. There are Christians I respect very much who don’t approve of the theology of some of my most valued spiritual mentors.
As I pondered step number two above, getting serious about learning what the Word of God has to say about my circumstances, I realized something life-changing.
Why wait until I’m faced with a serious crisis to arm myself against the attacks of the devil and the effects of this messed-up world?
I could start now! I could find out what the promises of God are regarding my health and lifespan before any life-threatening illness is diagnosed. I could dig out the promises of God regarding the safety and salvation of my children before they suffer an accident or reach their “rebellious teenage years.” And when trouble comes, as Jesus declared it would while we’re in this world, I will be of good cheer — knowing that my Lord has overcome the world and as a born-again, faith-filled child of God, SO HAVE I.
No, seriously — imagine it. Ponder it. And may the Holy Spirit tell you if it might be something you should try for yourself!
Scriptures referenced above:
Mark 16:17-18; Heb. 13:8; Heb. 11:8-12,17-19; Heb. 4:2; Rom. 10:12; Jas. 1:5-8; John 16:33; 1 John 5:4