Tag Archives: Miracles

My Favorite Name

This is a post that I wrote the first December that I was blogging. I wasn’t getting nearly the traffic back then that I do now, and since I’m having a little trouble getting anything new written I thought I’d repost this. The timing is perfect because tomorrow is Christmas Eve. It’s the perfect time to ponder Immanuel.

As Christmas is fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about the many names given to Jesus in the Bible. He is called the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Alpha & Omega, and many more. But my favorite name of Jesus is Immanuel. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. This verse is quoted in Matthew 1:23 regarding Jesus, and in Matthew the writer defines the name Immanuel to mean “God with us.”

When I look at one of my many nativity scenes, that is what I see: God with us. For thousands of years God tried to get the message across to His people that He loved them and would always be there for them. He spoke through miracles, such as the parting of the Red Sea, and through prophets, such as Isaiah and Daniel. But in spite of all His attempts to get through to them, His people didn’t always get it.

So God decided to become one of us, to be with us, to experience life just as we do. I like the name Immanuel because it reminds me that God loves us enough to be willing to experience all the pain, trials, and heartache that we do, to fully understand how we experience relationships and love. God did this in hopes that we could and would better relate to Him. Because ultimately what He wants is for us to be with Him.

This Christmas, I hope you will feel the blessing of being with God and of God being with you. I hope you will experience the fullness of Immanuel.

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Why He Came – A Poem

He healed the sick,
the lame, the leper
But that’s not
why He came

He gave the blind sight
and drove out demons
But that’s not
why He came

He fed the 5,000
plus women and children
But that’s not
why He came

He taught the masses,
and His twelve disciples
But that’s not
why He came

He raised the dead,
one four days in the grave
But that’s not
why He came

He turned water to wine
He calmed a storm and walked on water
He drove out the money changers
He was baptized by His cousin
He performed many miracles
which John says weren’t recorded

But none of these things
are why He came

He was born
for one sole purpose
To die the death I deserve
To die for my sins and yours
To die so we could be forgiven
To die so every lost straying lamb
could be brought back into the fold

He came to die

 

I’ll be sharing this one over at dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night today.

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A Treasure Trove of Quotes

One of my favorite authors of all time is C.S. Lewis. The man was brilliant, his arguments logical, and his imagination astounding. I recently returned a book that I got for Christmas, and in its place got three others. (I should only have gotten one, but my husband is so nice and let me get three when I couldn’t decide). One of the three books I got is The Quotable Lewis. I love it because when I come across a Lewis quote I can use this book to determine what book it is from. It contains 600 pages of quotes from Lewis’ many books, all organized by topic kind of like a dictionary.

I was flipping through this book last night, just reading random quotes. I came across one that I wanted to share.

It is clear that there never was a time when nothing existed; otherwise nothing would exist now. Miracles, ch. 11, pg. 88 (1947).

This is a wonderful example of Lewis’ logical reasoning. How would anything exist now if there was nothing in the first place?

This logical argument doesn’t reach the point of determining what or who it is that always existed, but it does lead one to inquire about it. It makes no logical sense to start any inquiry about our universe from the standpoint of nothing becoming something.

Lewis was a very learned man and a prolific reader and writer. He had read and studied all the great philosophers that came before him as well as his contemporaries. During his early adult life he was an atheist, but eventually came to realize that atheism was not a logically tenable position.

No philosophical theory which I have yet come across is a radical improvement on the words of Genesis, that “in the beginning God made Heaven and Earth.” Miracles, ch. 4, pg. 33 (1947).

I am not nearly as well read as Lewis, but I have to agree.

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The Thief Knew the Miracle of Forgiveness

My favorite song by Third Day is called “Thief” and is sung from the perspective of one of the two thieves hanging on the crosses next to Jesus. It always brings tears to my eyes. I have seen Third Day in concert five times, and they have played this song every time. I was delighted to find this live version on YouTube:

The exchange between Jesus and the two criminals is recorded in Luke 23:32-43. One of the thieves joins in with the crowd in mocking Jesus. But the other, the one from whose perspective this song is sung, sees Jesus for who He really is.

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Luke 23:39-42 (NLT).

Two thieves dying next to Jesus. One demands that Jesus save him from the cross, the other asks for mercy. One is stuck in his own conception of what it means to be saved and what he thinks Jesus should do if He was God. The other casts all of his own ideas aside and trusts in Jesus.

I’ve been reading The Day Christ Died by Jim Bishop and came across a passage the other day in the background chapter on Jesus that touches on the different ways in which people viewed, and still do view, Jesus. Some clamor only for grand miracles; others see Him for who He is and trust in His love and mercy for the forgiveness of their sins. Writing about the people’s’ reaction to Jesus’ miracles, Bishop writes:

He dreaded to hear the word miracle. He understood the weaknesses of man—he had promised his Father to give his life in expiation of these weaknesses—but it was an almost horrifying thing to learn that they preferred the working of miracles to being told the road to heaven. They were children, and everywhere he went they grinned and rubbed their hands together and nodded their heads and asked for “a sign.”

They had asked the same thing of John the Baptist and he had had no patience with them. He had roared back that the time of the Messiah was growing shorter and that they had better repent here and now. Signs, he warned them, could come from Satan. But Jesus could not answer in that manner. With all of his heart he loved the people. Their childishness seldom moved him to anger; his response was pity, and more love. Over and over, he would repeat the same lessons to the youthful minds in mature bodies and they would listen, or debate the lessons with him, but, when they warmed to the task of looking fairly upon his face, they would always ask for “a sign.” And, no matter how many times he bowed to their whims, and effected a miracle, they would ask again for “a sign.” Without proof, they would have no part of him. And in grieved him that his chosen twelve needed many miracles too. The Day Christ Died, pg. 105-106.

I love the patience Jesus shows with those who demanded miracles. Even the mocking criminal next to Him on the cross did not anger Him, but this mocker was included in Jesus’ prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 (NLT). But eventually, those who demand a sign and refuse to see Jesus for who He is lose out on the greatest miracle of all — the forgiveness of sins. The mocking criminal may have been included in His prayer, but He did not say to that criminal, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 (NLT).

Which thief are you more like? Do you want God to just fix everything right now and do things the way you think they should be done? Do you constantly seek more proof, more miracles? Or are you willing to trust that God has a better way? Do you understand that the forgiveness of your sins by our Heavenly Father is greater than any sign or miracle that you could ever see?

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Faith: the Miracle of the Open-Minded

Christians are often accused of being closed-minded by the world. I suppose this is because we have chosen to believe Jesus is the only way to God. But when you think about it, Christians are probably the most open-minded people in the world. There is a song by MercyMe called “One Trick Pony,” and the second verse is:

If I hear just one more time
That I should try and be more open-minded
I think I just might scream
The world says this is all there is
Yet I believe the One who says there’s life after this
Now tell me how much more open can my mind be?

As a Christian, I consider myself quite open-minded because I am willing to believe things I cannot yet see. I believe in God even though I cannot see Him, and I believe in Heaven even though I haven’t been there yet. An intellectual atheist will tell you that neither exist because you can’t prove by physical evidence that they exist. To me, that is the more closed-minded approach to the potential of the supernatural.

I also consider myself open-minded because I believe in miracles I cannot replicate. For example, I believe Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born. I know that scientifically speaking, a woman who is a virgin cannot become pregnant and give birth, but I believe completely in the miraculous incarnation of our Lord Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, even some who claim to be Christians have given up believing in this wonderful miracle.

Another example is the parting of the Red Sea by Moses so that the Israelites could cross over on dry land. I saw a documentary once in which scientists tried to explain how this happened by a change in the tides or some other means of the water level lowering. But I accept and believe that this miracle could have and did happen. I believe that God is that big and powerful. I don’t need to try to explain it by the scientific method.

There are many other miracles in the Bible, which many closed-minded people reject as impossible because they defy the laws of nature. But these miracles are possible if one believes God, who created the laws of nature, has the supernatural power to override those laws when He sees fit to do so. During His earthly ministry, Jesus encountered the doubters, those who couldn’t believe what they didn’t see with their own eyes.

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Mark 15:31-32a.

The chief priests didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God, the greatest miracle ever. Many refuse to believe this even today because they can’t see Him. “‘Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never believe.’” John 4:48. When Thomas doubted that Jesus was raised from the dead, Jesus showed him the nail scars on His hands. “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” John 20:29.

Jesus said the open-minded will be blessed for believing what they cannot see. Faith requires an open mind because “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1. So how open-minded are you? Enough to put your faith in the One who claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the only way to God?

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