New Hope Notes
Waiting For The Miracles
When Jesus Seems Abent
Pastor Elwin Ahu
Today we are continuing with the series “When Jesus seems absent”. We are going to talk about miracles tonight. We just went to the Saguaro prison in Arizona for our missionary trip. We saw that a lot of hearts were being touched and they raised their hands to accept Jesus. We witnessed miracles happening during this trip. From this experience, we see that miracles take place when the time is chaotic and at its darkest.
We have read about the miracles taking place in the past according to the Bible. In the book of Exodus, when the Israelites were fleeing from the Egyptians, God performed a miracle to part the sea so the Israelites could escape. We also know about how Jesus performed the miracle of using only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed five thousand people. Miracles have taken place when we are in the state of darkness and chaos. However, it also prompts us to ask where are the miracles today, when we are facing so many difficult situations? It is like the situation Gideon was facing in the book of Judges. The Midianites were oppressing the Israelites. They took all the harvests away from Israel, so the Israelites were living at a time which was very much like our current hard economic times. While Gideon was hiding from the Midianites, the angel came to him and told him that the Lord was with him. While the Israelites were in chaos and Gideon was the youngest from a minor Israeli family, he doubted what the angel was trying to tell him. He responded to the angel and said “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn't they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” (Judg. 6:13 NLT). The Israelites were out-numbered by thousands by the Midianites but the Lord asked Gideon to lead the Israelites to fight the Midianites. Instead of increasing the army of the Israelites, God DECREASED the Israeli army down to only 300 soldiers but Israel won anyway because of God’s miraculous help. So God performed a miracle in a way He intended for His purposes.
So how about the time we are in now? We are facing a bad economy; people are struggling with low incomes, unemployment or even sicknesses. People have started to doubt where all the miracles are like Gideon did and if the Lord is really with us. But here is our problem, we have been using the word “miracle” too loosely and not really understanding what a miracle actually is! We would even consider an available parking space as a miracle nowadays, and have started to demand miracles from God when we are in any kind of need. And when the miracles we desire don’t happen, we question if it was because of lack of faith, or blame God for not providing us with miracles. A lot of times we have prayed for a miracle and it didn’t happen. Indeed, there are times that prayers are not answered. When John the Baptist was beheaded, the prayers for him being rescued were not answered. When Apostle Paul had that thorn in his flesh, the prayer for having the thorn removed wasn’t answered. From my own experience, my wife Joy just injured her tendon at her ankle and we have been praying for healing but it hasn’t been answered yet. However, it is not because there is no miracle when prayers aren’t answered in the way we requested. We should first ask ourselves the following question:
“ ‘When you see what I do, you will not comprehend, for the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes – so their eyes cannot see...and they cannot turn to Me and let Me heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.” (Matt. 13:14-16 NLT) We need to be able to see the way God sees when we want a miracle. Besides, we also need to examine what purpose the miracle we are asking for would serve.
Are we asking for a miracle to prove God’s existence? Or do we need a miracle first before committing ourselves in serving Him? Do we need miracles happening to strengthen our faith? God doesn’t use miracles to build up our faith in Him. Faith is never meant to be built around miracles. In Luke 16, Jesus was teaching about a rich man and a poor man Lazarus. The rich man had all the luxurious things while he was living; the poor man Lazarus was a beggar lying in front of the rich man’s gate. He was covered with sores, and longing to eat the crumbs falling off from the rich man’s table. When they both died, the rich man ended up in torment in hell, while Lazarus was swept by the angel to Abraham’s side in heaven. The rich man asked Abraham for mercy by having Lazarus to dip his finger in the water to cool his tongue. But Abraham said there was a great chasm built between them so no one can go across. So the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers who were still living, “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:29-31 NLT)
The rich man’s desires were selfish and only looking out for no one but his own brothers even after he had gone into hell. And Abraham explained that his brothers would not understand even if a miracle happened to them - due to their selfishness and their unbelieving. It would have been a lot easier to trust God when everything was going well. And we would probably only be concerned about our own desires and not care about the world and other people around us. However, the purpose of a miracle is to teach us about God and not to build our faith. When Jesus fed the five thousand people with the miracle, He was teaching us that we would never go hungry if we fed on His food. When Jesus healed the sick, it taught us that anyone spiritually sick could be healed in His Kingdom. All these miracles are for building the Kingdom of God. So when we ask for a miracle, are we asking it to serve our own selfishness or to build up the Kingdom of God? So when you are able to see through His eyes, we can see that the Lord is advancing His Kingdom through miracles one at a time. When we have the eyes that can see and the ears that can hear, we will understand the miracles are not about how much God can do, it is about what we can do by the power of God working through us. It’s also not about us waiting for God; it’s about God waiting for us. He has given us everything we need to advance the Kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven. Therefore,
“For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the One who was crucified ... And my message and my preaching were very plain ... I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:2-5 NLT) Paul shut away all the worldly accomplishments, to prove that he was able to do what God wanted him to do because of the power of God working in him. When we are in the midst of chaos or confusion, it is also the time when miracles can be seen and found. One of the most chaotic moments our nation faced was the incident of 9/11 in 2001. Many people questioned where God was, why God didn’t stop that from happening. This disaster was done by men’s choices and God does not interfere with men’s choices. However, He does cry when men make bad choices. For sure He was hurting with us during the 9/11 incident. We have a guest here tonight, who lived in New York and witnessed 9/11 taking place. She will be telling us what miracles she witnessed during that chaos. She is our sister Jasmine.
Jasmine: “I am a New Yorker, who grew up in Manhattan. My mom is the pillar of my life. She used to tell me that there was a huge God living up in heaven. And she always presented things as positive as she could. We were homeless several times before my age of six. But she would tell me that we lived an exotic life as we could stay at different places for different nights. She would let me choose where we would like to stay for a night. We would be sleeping at the airport, at the alley or at the train stations. I thought I was very fortunate with my kid mind because of how my mom presented things positively to me. We ate whenever we could. I still believe in the Lord during and after all those hardest time, as my grandmother and mother taught me Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe”. Even now I would tell myself before going to bed as this always holds true in the Lord. I became an executive of 8 hospitals in New York. When 9/11 happened, I was just coming out of the subway on my way to the main hospital I oversaw. Everyone was shocked and we knew we were under attack. I was telling myself “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow and death, I shall fear no evil”. During the disaster, people gravitated towards the hospital. As an executive and the public relations of the hospital, a lot of people asked me if their loved ones had been admitted. I had to go inside the hospital many times to see if I could match any of the pictures with the list of patients’ names. In the midst of that I saw a lot of miracles. It was not necessarily a healing miracle, but I do believe that each one of us is in miracles in progress. A miracle is not what we want it to be, but it is what God needs it to be. I was talking to God, telling Him that if that was the time I would die right there, so be it. It was because I believe that God has my life in His hands. I was seeing a lot of people coming in with burns and it was so chaotic. But it was amazing to see people being able to reunite after such a chaotic time. And I also noticed that the enemy was trying to shut down God’s miracles during the midst of that tragedy, as people kept coming to me and questioning where God was and how God allowed such tragedy to happen. I understood that those questions were coming from anger, despair and an unbelief in God. That was a chance for me to tell them that God is good. I told them the Lord was hurting with us, too. I believe that it was God reuniting families, and speaking to and comforting people in the midst of the tragedy. We don’t know exactly what happened to each person but it doesn’t mean there was no miracle. I know God holds our future. I praise God for all the miracles He has done. A year after the attack, people would come back telling me that they knew there was power in the cross and Jesus even when they had lost loved ones during 911. I know there were miracles through my toughest times and these tragedies. And I can’t wait to see Him and ask Him what would have happened during those times if without Him. God is always with you. If you think He seems absent, it is just because He is so close to you that you only thought it was just you. Make sure you keep this in your heart. There is no coincidence. Everything from God is intentional.”
1. What is a miracle?
2. What do you expect from a miracle?
3. Why can’t we see miracles sometimes?
4. What purpose does a miracle serve?
5. When and where can miracles be found?