Tag Archives: miracles

Fear and Worship

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
Mark 4:39-41, NLT*

Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record Jesus calming the storm, and they each follow the account with what happened when the boat reached its destination. Jesus freed a demon-possessed man (Matthew says two men) and sent the demons into a herd of pigs which then dashed into the lake and drowned.

In the boat, the disciples had been afraid of drowning in the storm, but then they were terrified by the power Jesus displayed. Following Jesus, they’d seen Him heal people, but somehow this authority over the elements was even more awe-inspiring to them.

On land, the townspeople also responded with fear, but of a different kind. They pleaded with Jesus to leave them.

Peter once begged Jesus to leave him, because he knew his sinful nature and feared to be in the presence of one so great (see Luke 5:8). Instead, Jesus called him as a disciple. Here, the people asked Him to go and He went. It’s not about the “please leave,” it’s about the heart-reason behind it.

Peter and the other disciples were afraid with a holy fear of God. They worshipped, but feared their unworthiness. These town-folk were afraid of a power that shook things up and threatened their way of life. They didn’t recognize it as from God, and they just wanted it gone.

God who speaks to sickness, storms, and sinners, please open our eyes to recognize Your holy power. Plant in us a holy fear of You, an awe and wonder that leads us to worship You. Let us never fear You in the way that would make us hide from You. Instead, draw us ever nearer like moths to Your flame. Thank You for Your grace that saves us and takes away our fear of judgment, and that welcomes us into Your presence.

A good worship song to focus us on God’s power is Travis Ryan’s “You Hold it All.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God: Love and Power

Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
Mark 4:40-41, NLT*

I always thought Jesus was asking why the disciples were afraid of the storm, as in, why hadn’t they trusted Him to save them? Why hadn’t they simply asked for His help instead of panicking?

But this “Why are you afraid?” came after He had stilled the storm, when they were terrified of what they’d just seen Him do.

In North America these days, we don’t often see God reveal a glimpse of His power in this way. It’s easy to forget the magnitude of who God is and to get comfortable with the idea of a “safe” Saviour. [Click to tweet]

Yes, we are safe with Him, held in His loving care, secure that nothing can separate us from His love. Relying on our Good Shepherd.

He is good. But as C.S. Lewis said, He’s not safe. Not tame.

A safe, tame, containable God couldn’t protect us in life’s storms. Couldn’t walk through the turbulence to reach us. Couldn’t defeat the power of hell to rescue and redeem us.

By all means, let’s take comfort in His care and rest in Him. But let’s remember and hold onto His limitless power.

Our God, holy and mighty, Your love assures us that You want to care for us. Your power proves that You can. We need fear neither Your abandonment nor Your failure, because both are impossible. Impress this on our spirits, and draw us to worship You in trust and adoration.

A good worship song to remind us of this is “God Undefeatable,” sung here by Austin Stone Worship. Watch the love on their faces. Seeing this group worship is good for my spirit.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

More than a Miracle-Worker

“Lord,” he said, “I want to see!”

And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.”
Luke 18:41b-42, NLT*

On the way to Jericho, Jesus responds to a blind beggar’s plea. I love this story, and the man’s cry, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:38, NLT*) can become our own in times of distress. It’s one of the variations of the Jesus Prayer.

Jesus’ approach is different in this brief encounter. (It’s only 9 verses; take time to read it here: Luke 18:35-43, NLT.)

While the crowd tries to shush the man, Jesus stops and commands him to be brought near. He invites (or commands) the beggar to make his petition – a petition Jesus grants with an authoritative response and with none of the touching or further instructions He often gives.

Instead of a dusty road, the actions bring a picture of an elegant throne room. This is a King’s response to a subject’s plea.

At first I wondered why. Jesus is usually more approachable for the common people. Reading the story again, I see a hint of His reasoning.

When the blind man asks about the crowd noise, the people say “Jesus the Nazarene” (or “Jesus of Nazareth”) is passing by. Excitement fills the air. This is the miracle-worker.

The beggar calls Him a different name: “Jesus, Son of David.” From what he’s heard about Jesus, this man’s spirit knows the truth. Jesus isn’t just a travelling healer. Jesus is the promised King. The Messiah.

I think Jesus responds in Kingly fashion here both to meet the man where he is and reinforce his belief, and to give the crowd a chance to realize there’s more to discover.

What difference would it make in our prayer lives if we remembered we’re approaching the King – who welcomes us and who has complete authority to meet our needs?

Jesus, Saviour, Son of David. You are our King, who came in the flesh and defeated death and hell. You save us when we cry out to You, even though we have nothing to offer but ourselves. Thank You for such grace, power and love. Strengthen our faith to believe that You are fully approachable and fully able to meet our deepest needs.

Like 7eventh Time Down sings, sometimes we need to “Just Say Jesus.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

A Teaching Moment

The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.
Luke 8:24, NLT*

We know from the Gospels that Jesus rose early to pray and sometimes stayed up late praying. We can assume preaching, teaching and healing was exhausting. Yet this is His only recorded nap. I think He did it intentionally during this storm, as part of the day’s lesson for His disciples.

Not that they recognize it as a teaching moment—they’re panicking, shouting. Expecting to die.

After He calms the storm, Jesus asks, “Where is your faith?” And Luke says the disciples are “terrified and amazed” at what He has done. (Luke 8:25, NLT*)

I catch an undertone of, “Why were you freaking out? All you had to do was ask.” His question isn’t about blame, or about their lack of faith. It’s to show them faith applies even here.

By this point in their relationship, the disciples have heard Jesus’ authority when He taught. They’ve seen miracles: healings, demons cast out, a supernatural catch of fish. Even a raising from the dead.

But this new crisis seems so immediate—so personal—and they don’t think to ask Jesus for help.

Were they angry when they woke Him? I can imagine their mutterings: “How could He sleep at a time like this? How could He put us into this situation—didn’t He know it would happen?”

I’ve read this account many times, but today it speaks again: In new situations I need to not only remember what Jesus has done in the past, but remember His power. His presence. And ask for His help.

Also, if I’m dealing with something that’s in my area of expertise, I shouldn’t assume I need to handle it in my own strength and understanding. Remember when Jesus sent the fishermen out after a night of catching nothing—and nearly broke the nets with the haul of fish. (Luke 5:1-11)

God, You are a patient teacher, yet so many times we don’t learn. Open our hearts, minds and spirits to receive what You want us to know. Help us to remember what You’ve shown us in the past, and to be confident in Your presence and Your power, whatever new things come our way.

Jeremy Camp‘s song, “Walk By Faith,” is a good reminder for us all.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

When God Does Something Good

“How kind the Lord is!” [Elizabeth] exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
Luke 1:25, NLT*

North American culture today doesn’t equate a woman’s worth with her fertility, but for women in Bible times, failure to produce a child – especially a male heir – was a source of shame.

What strikes me here is Elizabeth’s response. She’s old by this point, well past natural childbearing age. God surprises her with a miracle pregnancy as announced by an angel to her husband, Zechariah. (Luke 1:5-25)

Elizabeth is purely grateful. She alludes to the long disappointment in her life, but she’s not bitter. She sees how God’s gift is meeting that hurt.

She sees the power of God. And she accepts His timing. There’s no hint of asking why He took so long, let her be barren for so many years, waited until she’s old and feeble and has no stamina to chase a toddler all day.

“How kind the Lord is!”

If God chooses to meet our unmet longings – or if He chooses not to – He is still kind and good. He is still enough. He still does good things for us.

How do we respond?

First of all, let’s keep our eyes and hearts open to notice what He does. Let’s respond like Elizabeth, with gratitude and trust. Not with “well, it took You long enough!” Not with complaints to taint the thanks. Neither with mindless acceptance or casual indifference – nor a sense of entitlement.

Let’s respond with mindful worship and gratitude, acknowledging God’s goodness and mercy, and knowing that while He doesn’t owe us anything, He loves us enough to give His own Son to rescue and redeem us.

Our Father God, how good You are! How kind indeed. Grow in us an awareness of Your care and a humble gratitude for Your many gifts. Teach us, like Elizabeth, to respond with praise, adoration and trust.

I don’t have an “Elizabeth” song, but here’s Christy Nockels singing a “Mary” song of praise: “Magnificat” (from one of my favourite Christmas albums, Do You See What I See? by Todd Agnew & Friends).

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Jesus is in My Boat (re-post)

[Jesus] then left [the Pharisees], got back in the boat, and headed for the other side. But the disciples forgot to pack a lunch. Except for a single loaf of bread, there wasn’t a crumb in the boat. Jesus warned, “Be very careful. Keep a sharp eye out for the contaminating yeast of Pharisees and the followers of Herod.”

Meanwhile, the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus overheard and said, “Why are you fussing because you forgot bread? Don’t you see the point of all this? Don’t you get it at all? Remember the five loaves I broke for the five thousand? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”

They said, “Twelve.”

“And the seven loaves for the four thousand—how many bags full of leftovers did you get?”


He said, “Do you still not get it?”
Mark 8:13-21, MSG*

The disciples have a loaf of bread. Jesus has recently demonstrated that He can multiply a little food to feed a lot of people. Yet they’re hung up on not having enough.

But Jesus is in the boat with them! If they stop to think, they’ll realize He’s all they need.

Many times I feel inadequate or uncertain about situations, afraid I’ll mess up or won’t do well. That fear can freeze me up and become self-fulfilling. I feel alone.

These verses tell me something precious: Jesus is in my boat, and He’ll be all I need.

Whether it’s energy, love, ideas: whatever’s needed, no matter how small my loaf, I need to offer it to Jesus, and to remember what He can do.

Father, I know You promised to never leave us, and You’ve given us the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. Forgive me for the times I panic and believe the enemy’s lies. Thank You for using these verses to finally help me see I’m never alone. Help me remember and be confident in the truth that Jesus is in my boat, and that He is enough.

Our song this week is my prayer: “Presence (My Heart’s Desire)” by the newsboys, from their Devotion CD.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

[This is a re-post from 2009, but I needed to read it again.]

Praying in Trust

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarrelled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”
Exodus 17:2, NIV*

God had already given them a daily supply of manna in the desert. Now He patiently—and miraculously—provided water from a rock.

And he called the place Massah [testing] and Meribah [quarrelling] because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?
Exodus 17:7, NIV*

The Israelites knew, better than we often do, that if God is present He can help. And they weren’t subject to our common fear that we’ve already asked too much and used up His gifts for us.

I think they feared abandonment. “If trouble hits, does that mean He left us?”

They knew they had nothing in themselves to convince Him to stay. They didn’t think about His character that keeps Him faithful to His commitments. Of His covenant that they would be His people and He would be their God.

We often need to be reminded of the same thing. As we persist in prayer, the proper attitude is not to nag for answers but to pray continually in thanksgiving and confidence, and keep alert to recognize the answers… especially if they come in small stages.

Father God, help me remember that You’re leading me. Help me trust Your character and Your promises and rely on You. Whatever my needs, I have Jesus. All I have to do is ask for help and be alert to recognize the answer. I understand it may well not come in the form I’d like, but I pray with confidence in Your perfect wisdom and timing.

Here’s Robin Mark singing Brian Doerksen’s “Faithful One.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Goodness of the Lord

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:13-14, NIV*

This verse gave me a lot of comfort during a hard time. I don’t know the translation a friend sent to me, but the wording for verse 13 is “I would have despaired if I had not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (It’s similar to the NASB translation of Psalm 27:13)

I clung to that promise, repeated it over and over, and although that crisis has passed the words are still on my fridge. Things were bad, and I needed help believing there would be good days ahead.

The verse has been going through my head again this week, in the form of a song by Carolyn Arends, “Land of the Living”. Just the chorus:

I would despair
If I did not believe
That I would see again
Your hand in the land of the living.

And I saw something deeper: the promise doesn’t say anything about what this goodness will look like. Doesn’t say the pain will go away, health or wealth be restored, wars and natural disasters cease.

What it says is that we will see the goodness of the Lord.

See the goodness of the Lord.

One of the points I took from Ann Voskamp’s amazing book, One Thousand Gifts, is that sometimes God’s goodness—the grace He gives us—is hard to recognize. It comes disguised as what we call more bad news or hard times.

She also points the way to see it: “praise precedes the miracle”. As we pray, praising God for who He is, asserting our confidence in Him, He helps us recognize His hand even in the hard experiences.

If the circumstances don’t change, or while we’re waiting for the change, don’t we need to recognize—to see—the goodness of the Lord present with us? Don’t we need His goodness to get us through? That’s grace.

Father God, Giver of all good gifts, open our eyes and our spirits to see Your goodness here with us, in the land of the living. We will still pray in trust that You will deliver us from our hard places and heal our hurts, but in the here and the now, help us praise You. Praise You with no strings attached: not if You work things out a certain way, but because of who You are. And we will remember that the praise does precede the miracle, whatever that miracle will turn out to be.


I couldn’t find “Land of the Living” as an audio file, so here’s a video of my first favourite Carolyn Arends song: “Seize the Day.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

God is Still at Work

Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
Psalm 111:2-5, NIV*

The psalmist starts by praising God for what He has done in the past. They he switches to present tense: God provides food, remembers His covenant.

Sometimes I feel that while God’s acts and wonders are recorded and remembered in the Bible, in North America today we live with a sense of “that was then, this is now.”

Is it because the Bible is the “official” written testimony? That doesn’t mean God stopped working when John wrote the final “Amen” to end the book of Revelation. God hasn’t changed, as Christians in other parts of the world know.

I had a real treat the other week when I shared a meal with two Christian friends. Perhaps because we don’t often get together, we opened up to share what God has been doing in our lives, what He’s been teaching us, where He may be leading us.

I long for more of that kind of conversation. It encourages my faith, and it reminds me to keep a sharper eye out for God at work in the little as well as the big. And I think God enjoys hearing that we’ve noticed—and appreciate—His care.

Father, help me remember You are at work whether I see or hear or not. Help me look, help me recognize what You’re doing and return thanks. Give Your people boldness to declare Your work. And forgive us for beginning to believe that if we don’t see it, it’s not happening. How self-absorbed is that?

Let’s join Matt Redman in singing, “You Never Let Go.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Miracles and Kindnesses

When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.
Psalm 106:7, NIV*

The Israelites often looked at their troubles and forgot to look at God. We do the same, and we have the Bible and the Holy Spirit, so I’m not pointing fingers.

But we need to remember and be mindful of the majesty of God, of His vastness and His glory. His miracles. If nothing else, it puts life in perspective.

Yes, He gives us tender, personal gifts. His kindnesses. Things like a blooming flower or a bit of music that seem tailored to bless just one spirit. They root us in awareness of His love for us, and that’s a good thing.

The danger of intimacy is when our thoughts try to bring God down to our level. He’s so close, so real. But we need to look at His larger-scale acts and works too.

It’s about balance.

We need intimacy with God and holy awe of His majesty.

It’s all to keep us praising. Worshipping. Living in obedience and trust.

God who formed the universe, who numbers the stars in the sky and the hairs on our heads, You are majestic in holiness, far beyond our comprehension. Yet You love us and woo us into a personal relationship. Help us to know and rely on Your love for us, and help us develop a confidence in You and a holy awe of You. Help us know You as both King and Abba—Daddy—Papa.

Our song is Steve Fee’s “Glorious One”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.