miracles (8)

Navigating the SUDDENLIES & the SLOWLIES

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is that God can work either suddenly or slowly. I’m incredibly glad the Bible calls Him “the Lord of Breakthroughs” (1 Chronicles 14:10-11 NLT), because we all need a sudden breakthrough of His miraculous power at one time or another.

But God also presents Himself as “the Lord of the harvest” (Luke 10:2). While some harvests occur more quickly than others, this word picture is quite different than for a breakthrough.

By definition, a breakthrough is something that comes SUDDENLY, while a harvest is something that develops more SLOWLY, in response to seeds that have been sown over a period of time.

Before a harvest comes, there’s a period in which you may think nothing is happening. Although the seed is growing, it’s still in the hidden realm beneath the soil.

I’ll be honest: I’ve always liked God’s breakthroughs more than His harvests, because I like His suddenlies more than His slowlies.

That’s why I love Bible stories like the one where God “suddenly” sent an earthquake to deliver Paul and Silas from prison (Acts 16:25-26). And it’s thrilling to read about the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, when the breakthrough awaited by Jesus’ followers came “suddenly” (Acts 2:1-4).

However, I’ve found that some of God’s greatest miracles happen slowly rather than suddenly. For example, aren’t you glad babies are born after a slow, nine-month process rather than just suddenly appearing on your doorstep? They come as the awaited harvest of a seed implanted months earlier.

A Kingdom Parable

Although Jesus often healed the sick, cast out demons, or raised the dead after proclaiming the nearness of God’s kingdom (Matthew 4:23-24), His parables about the kingdom often presented a much different side of the equation. For example, Jesus began His brief parable in Mark 4:26-29 (NLT) by saying, The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground.” 

When I read this recently, it was a LOL (Laugh Out Loud) moment. Think about it: Of all the ways Jesus could have described His mighty kingdom, He said it was like being a FARMER!

Hey, I have great admiration for farmers. But I’m a city boy, and I’ve never really thought of myself as a farmer for the kingdom of God.

Yet Jesus wanted us to know that many of the miracles in His kingdom come as the result of a process rather than an immediate breakthrough of power. Instead of the miracle in this story coming all at once, Jesus said it was progressive:

First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come (vs. 28-29).

The harvest in this story took a while to develop, but that didn’t mean the farmer had any doubts about the outcome. In fact, Jesus said this man was so confident in his seeds that he went to sleep after planting them!

The apostle Paul made a similar statement in Galatians 6:9 (NKJV):

Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Notice Paul’s unwavering confidence that the harvest would come. “We SHALL reap…” he declared. It was as good as done.

However, he also warned against our tendency to expect the harvest to always come quickly. Yes, we can be confident our harvest will come, but only “in due season.”

You see, farmers always must deal with the GAP between their season of planting and their season of harvest. No wonder patience is one of the earmarks of a good farmer (James 5:7).

And as farmers in God’s kingdom, Paul says we must “not lose heart” while we’re waiting. How sad it is when we give up hope right before our prayer is about to be answered.

Suddenly or Slowly?

So, what does all this mean on a practical level? If you are seeking a breakthrough in some area of your life today, I pray it will come soon and suddenly. And one thing is for sure: The closer you draw to “the Lord of Breakthroughs,” the better positioned you will be to receive the miracle you need.

But while you’re waiting, don’t forget about the lessons of the farmer. Although he had to wait, he was confident in an eventual harvest. He knew he had sown powerful seeds in preparation, and he was trusting the ground to do its work.

In the same way, farmers in God’s kingdom must rest securely in His great faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21-24). Our miracle may come suddenly, or it may come slowly. And in some cases, the breakthrough won’t occur until we pass into eternity.

Let me leave you with a word of advice and encouragement from the psalmist: Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5 NKJV). This is such good news. When you commit your difficult situation to your Heavenly Father and heed His instructions, you can trust the outcome to Him. The answer may come suddenly or slowly, but He will always be faithful.

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This Is Not the End!

Did Jesus ever make a prediction that turned out to be false? It certainly seemed so when He said upon hearing that His friend Lazarus was sick, “This sickness will not end in death” (John 11:4 NIV).  

If you know the story of Lazarus, you remember that his sickness did indeed result in death. In fact, by the time Jesus arrived on the scene, his friend had already been in the tomb for four days.

Not only was Lazarus dead, but the situation had already become stinky. “By this time there is a bad odor,” Martha reported to Jesus (v. 39).

At first glance, people could have concluded that Jesus had simply been wrong. Despite His prediction to the contrary, the illness of Lazarus had obviously ended in death.

But this was not end of Lazarus’ story. Yes, if we would have put the movie on pause at this point, we would have assumed that death was the final scene – but that was not the END.

There is a profound and life-changing lesson here – especially if you’re dealing with circumstances that seem disappointing or smelly.

No matter how dire your present circumstances may look, when Jesus is on the scene they aren’t the end of the story. Mirroring His words in John 11, I encourage you to declare today that the ending of your present story will be God’s glory and your restoration.

  • Has your marriage or an important relationship fallen apart? This is not the end!
  • Have you suffered a devastating financial setback? This is not the end!
  • Are you disappointed by choices your children or grandchildren are making? This is not the end!
  • Are you frustrated by lingering health issues? This is not the end!
  • Do you feel spiritually unfruitful, craving a life of greater impact? This is not the end!
  • Have you prayed persistent prayers that still remain unanswered? This is not the end!

When I read the story of Lazarus, I’m struck by how Jesus disregarded the request of Martha and Mary to come and heal their brother. At first, this may seem calloused or even mean. However, Jesus had a very good reason for ignoring their request for a healing: He wanted to give Lazarus a resurrection!

So if you’re frustrated by some unanswered prayer today, consider that God may want to do something much greater for you than you’ve been asking (Ephesians 3:20).

We see this same principle in Luke 5:1-11, where the fishermen had worked hard all night and caught nothing. They probably would have been satisfied with just an ordinary catch of fish, but Jesus wanted to do something far greater for them – something EXTRAORDINARY.

To their surprise, the frustrating efforts of these fishermen were not the end of the story. The night had seemed destined to end in failure, but a miracle catch of fish was right around the corner when they followed Jesus’ instructions.

Although it may not sound very manly of me, I’ve grown to enjoy Hallmark movies. There’s not really much suspense, because you know from the beginning of every story that there will be a happy ending. Despite many ups and downs along the way, the main characters are destined to live happily ever after.

Friend, I don’t know how your story is looking at the moment. But I do know this: God is planning a happy ending for you. Your present circumstances are not the END, so don’t give up on the movie until it reaches its conclusion.

I encourage you to face your disappointing circumstances head on today and declare through faith in God’s faithfulness: THIS IS NOT THE END!

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When God Enacted Daylight Saving Time

Most people hate Daylight Saving Time. So why do we still have it?

As the time changes once again, people will inevitably lose sleep and be grumpier than usual. Researchers point out that DST disrupts our body’s circadian rhythm, creating an effect similar to jet lag. Studies have shown an increase in traffic accidents, workplace injuries, depression, suicides, strokes, and heart attacks immediately following a time change. Yikes!

But as much as I dislike Daylight Saving Time, I have to admit that God Himself sometimes uses it to accomplish His purposes. For example, one day Israel needed more time to complete its victory over enemy armies:

On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said,

“Let the sun stand still over Gibeon,
    and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”

So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies (Joshua 10:12-13 NLT).

In this case, the time apparently didn’t “fall back” only one hour. For an entire day, “the sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day” (v. 13). During the entire time, God was mightily at work on His people’s behalf: “Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day!” (v. 14).

There are some very encouraging principles contained in this brief account – lessons so powerful that I’m almost reconsidering my hatred of Daylight Saving Time:

  • God wants us to pray BOLD prayers. Lately I’ve found myself praying only timid, trivial prayers, as if not wanting to ask anything that might be too difficult for the Lord to answer. No wonder God has to challenge us from time to time, Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). Be audacious in what you ask Him!
  • When we feel like time is running out, God can graciously give us a reprieve. This point is very personal to me. I have an ambitious list of things I want to accomplish before I die, and I’m not sure how much time is left on the clock. Just as Joshua needed additional time to finish his assignment, sometimes we find ourselves in a similar predicament. This happened one day when King Hezekiah was on his sickbed, but cried out to the Lord for more time. In a scene similar to Joshua 10, God replied, I will bring the shadow on the sundial…ten degrees backward” (Isaiah 38:8). Wow! God literally turned back time for Hezekiah, giving him another 15 years of life.
  • We must not use God’s grace as an excuse for procrastination or laziness. Yes, more time was granted to Joshua and Hezekiah. But that doesn’t mean we can count on God to miraculously intervene and give us more time if we’re unfaithful in doing our part. These were exceptional miracles, after all, not occurrences that happen every day: “There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer” (Joshua 10:14 NLT). Recently a doctor told me I seemed lackadaisical about my health. He perceived that I was hoping he or the Lord would do some medical miracles for me, even though I wasn’t committed to my own end of the bargain. What a lesson: We can stand upon God’s promises much more confidently after we’ve first “done all” that we can do (Ephesians 6:13).

These Biblical examples might not be sufficient to make you a fan of Daylight Saving Time. But isn’t it good to know that God can help you save some of the “daylight” remaining in your life? You may not need the sun to stand still, but He can give you a new lease on life to fulfill your incomplete assignments.

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A Miracle -- 25 Years in the Making

How long does it take for God to do a miracle? In some ways, that’s a trick question. He made the entire universe in just six days, so He certainly has no trouble doing things quickly. The Bible also describes many of the Lord’s supernatural interventions as happening “suddenly,” and Jesus typically healed people’s long-standing medical conditions “immediately.”

However, while it’s good to know that God can give us instantaneous, sudden, supernatural breakthroughs, that’s not always how things work out. For example, one of my favorite Bible verses illustrates a different kind of miracle: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9 ESV).

Rather than being immediate, this other kind of miracle involves a process, and Paul aptly describes this in terms of sowing and reaping. As any farmer knows, seeds inevitably take some time to grow. Even though the farmer’s eventual harvest could be deemed a “miracle,” he must patiently wait in order to see it happen.

Paul adds an important warning to those of us who don’t receive our breakthrough as quickly as we would like: Don’t lose heart and give up!

Let me share a recent illustration from my own life. I truly feel like God did a miracle of sorts for me…but it was a miracle 25 years in the making.

A few days ago, I received the first copy of a new book I’ve written: The Church Split Cure: How to Prevent, Survive, or Recover from Congregational Conflict. I write lots of books, so this may not sound like any kind of miracle to you. But let me explain the context…

When I held the first copy of this book in my hand, I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God. Suddenly I realized (yes, suddenly…) that exactly 25 years ago I was a pastor in Ohio, undergoing a church split that would eventually cause more than half of our congregation to leave. Still to this day, it was one of the worst ordeals of my life. Long-time friends no longer trusted me. Some blamed me for the split, and it was heartbreaking to know that people I loved now considered me an enemy.

If you asked me at the time, I would have adamantly told you that nothing good—absolutely nothing—could come out of this painful and bewildering situation. Hundreds of people were hurt and disillusioned to one degree or another, and some of the greatest agony was suffered by my own family.

So, until recently, I would have said the devil won a great victory 25 years ago. The “accuser of the brethren” had his way in our church, and we all experienced a devastating defeat.

But God revised my perspective as I held that copy of The Church Split Cure in my hands. Although I still hate how the enemy divided our church, once again I can testify that God is able to redeem even the most traumatic circumstances and turn them around for good.

You see, through the anguish I experienced during that horrible church split, a seed was sown in my life that would ultimately sprout 25 years later in the form of this book. The insights contained in my book were gained “the hard way,” and I believe God will use them to help thousands of pastors and parishioners who are dealing with church conflict today.

Paul told the Corinthians he was able to impart “life” to them because of the “death” he had experienced through life’s crushing circumstances (2 Corinthians 4:12). If you’ve gone through some distressing experiences, keep Paul’s words in mind. Your pain can bring great gain to the lives of others who now can benefit from the lessons you’ve learned and the healing you’ve received (2 Corinthians 1:3-6).

What kind of miracle is God working in your life today? I hope it doesn’t take 25 more years for you to find out. But no matter how long the harvest takes, you can be sure it will be worth it all. Someday you’ll be more convinced than ever of the amazing truth Paul finally discovered:

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV).

Yes, you read that right. Paul declared that ALL things can be turned around for your good and the fulfillment of God’s great purposes. That’s wonderful news, isn’t it?

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The Surprising Christmas Story in John's Gospel

7 Life-Changing Christmas Facts in the First Chapter of John

When we think about the Christmas story, we usually start with the Gospel of Luke and Gospel of Matthew. There we see the shepherds, the magi, and the angel Gabriel’s stunning declaration to Mary. Other colorful characters appear, including Elizabeth and Zacharias, Simeon and Anna.

But John’s Gospel presents the rest of the story. As the final of the four Gospel accounts, it reveals the deeper meaning of the events in Bethlehem that first Christmas.

In the first chapter of John, we see 7 important facts about the true meaning of Christmas… 

1.     Christmas is about eternity, not just about Bethlehem.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

You see, Christmas didn’t start with Gabriel’s appearance to Mary or with the manger scene. The Son of God stepped out of eternity as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Numerous Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by Him, and these amazing predictions came through several different people over the course of five centuries from 1000 to 500 BC. Twenty-four specific prophecies were fulfilled in just the 24 hours before Jesus’ death.

Just as your Heavenly Father could look down through the centuries and foresee the details of Jesus’ life, nothing in your life is catching Him by surprise. The same God who fulfilled His promises in intricate detail in the life of His Son Jesus will be faithful to fulfill every promise of His Word for YOU today!

2.     Christmas has been under attack since its inception, but Jesus and His message are invincible, destined to prevail.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [overcome] it.

King Herod massacred babies in an attempt to eliminate the newborn King (Matthew 2:16-18). Throughout history, others have tried to diminish the memory or message of the Messiah.

But John’s Gospel points out the wonderful fact that darkness is powerless to overcome the light. That’s very good news if you are facing some kind of darkness in your life today.

3.     Although we love the Christmas stories about Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the magi (people who loved Jesus), many people either were unaware of Jesus’ coming or else completely rejected Him.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

Even today, there still are billions of people in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus even once. Others know about Him, but have rejected His message.

Instead of being offended by this rejection or taking it personally, we should be motivated all the more to proclaim the name of Jesus, the only One who can save humanity from their sins (Matthew 1:21). 

4.     Christmas ultimately is not just about a baby born in a manager; it’s about His power to give a new birth to anyone who receives Him as Lord and Savior.

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

As C.S. Lewis well said, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” Our physical birth is not enough, Jesus told religious leader Nicodemus. We must receive a spiritual birth too, being “born again” in order to see and enter God’s kingdom (John 3:1-7).

5.     Christmas is the story of Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14), and His presence is always characterized by both grace and truth.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

God loved the world so much that He didn’t just send a letter, a postcard, an email, or an Instagram. He became flesh, personally stepping into our world.

In contrast to the example of many of His followers today, Jesus was full of BOTH grace and truth. This is a great reminder that we’re called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)—never shrinking back from sharing the truth, but always communicating it with grace.

6.     Christmas would be a meaningless event if it hadn’t been for Jesus’ death and resurrection.

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

The baby in Bethlehem grew up! John the Baptist accurately discerned His calling as God’s sacrificial Lamb—the Savior who was born to die (Isaiah 53).

7.     Christmas illustrates the promise of an open heaven, with God not only sending His Son, but also every other blessing we need (Ephesians 1:3, Philippians 4:19).

49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Jesus was referring to Jacob’s vision of an open heaven, with a ladder between the heavenly and earthly realms (Genesis 28). As John’s Gospel unfolds, we’re told clearly that Jesus Himself is the ladder or bridge to heaven, and there is no other pathway but Him (John 14:6).

Yet Christmas is about more than just getting people to heaven. Jesus also brought some of heaven down to US, and He told us to pray for heaven to be revealed through our own lives as well (Matthew 6:10).

Along with Jesus, we’re privileged to receive everything else that’s included in God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33). That’s why Paul could say in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us ALL things?”

This Christmas, I hope you’ll remember that the God who loved you enough to give you His Son will also hear your prayers and give you the other things you need in life. The next time you hear someone say, “Merry Christmas,” keep in mind that it’s not just about a historical event in Bethlehem. It’s a transcendent reality meant to change your life today—and your future in eternity as well.

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What Is That in Your Hand?

If you had just 20 minutes to prepare a sermon, what would your topic be? That was my uncomfortable predicament while visiting friends in Auckland, New Zealand recently.

My friend Rob was scheduled to preach at a Filipino church that Sunday, and I was expecting just to sit in the front row and cheer him on. I knew he was dealing with some health issues, but I always thought he would rally in time to preach.

But in the 20 minutes it took for his wife to drive us to the church, it became clear that I better get serious about giving the message. Up until that time, nothing was on my heart, but I suddenly got inspired by God’s incredible question to Moses in Exodus 4:2:

“What is that in your hand?”

When the Lord asked this question, the only thing in Moses’ hand was a crude shepherd’s rod. It wasn’t much. Just a piece of wood. An inanimate object. A tool of Moses’ trade.

God was commissioning him for the daunting task of delivering over a million Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And all Moses had in his hand was the wooden staff he had used for 40 years to tend his flocks of sheep.

Do you see how powerful this message is for you and me? Like Moses, we’re being called to do great things…supernatural things…things much bigger than we could ever accomplish without divine assistance.

Too often we think our problem is that we lack some important ingredient or resource for success. But notice that God wasn’t asking Moses to give Him something he didn’t already have. Instead, He asked Moses, as He is asking us today…

 “What is that in your hand?”

Moses had been carrying around that ordinary piece of wood for many years, and nothing dramatic had happened as a result. But after Moses surrendered the wooden rod to the Lord, it became “the rod of God” instead of merely the rod of Moses (Exodus 4:20). No longer a mere piece of wood, this rod enabled Moses to part the Red Sea, bring water out of a rock, and defeat enemy armies.

What is in YOUR hand, my friend? Money. Time. Possessions. Influence. Some kind of special God-given aptitude.

If you’re honest, the thing in your hand probably seems totally inadequate to meet the needs around you. However, you’ll be amazed by what can happen when you surrender it to the Lord.


  • Samson slayed hundreds of Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey.
  • David defeated Goliath with a slingshot and five smooth stones.
  • Jesus’ used a young boy’s lunch—five loaves and two fish—to feed thousands of hungry people.

So go ahead and give God what you’ve been holding on to. It’s not doing you much good in its present condition anyway, is it?

Don’t delay. Anytime you transfer what’s in YOUR hands into HIS hands, miracles happen. He will give you back the rod you’ve surrendered, but this time it will be infused with supernatural power to change the world. 

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The Power and the Process

I really like the concept of miracles. As a writer for a Christian ministry, I find myself regularly penning articles and books about God’s desire to give “supernatural breakthroughs” to His people in their health, finances, emotions, and relationships.

It’s not entirely hype. I’ve seen breakthroughs like that, and they are awesome. We desperately need to see more of God’s supernatural power manifested in the American church today.

However, like almost any Biblical issue, there’s another side to the story. Yes, God wants to reveal His POWER, but He also wants us to understand that some miracles require a PROCESS.

A simple illustration is the conception, development, and birth of a baby. The whole thing is pretty miraculous, if you ask me. But God doesn’t do it all by Himself. He works through a man and woman through a set process that ultimately leads to a baby being born.

A great quote attributed to St. Augustine says, “Without God, we cannot. But without us, God will not.” In other words, we’re called to be what the apostle Paul described as “God’s partners” (NLT) or “God’s co-workers” (NIV). He will always be faithful to do HIS part, but the outcome of a matter is often dependent on us doing OUR part as well.

Farmers traditionally have had a keen appreciation for this partnership. Perhaps that’s why Jesus told several parables about sowing seeds and trusting God for a fruitful harvest (e.g., see Mark 4). I particularly love the parable about a man who scattered seed on the ground and then went to sleep (vs. 26-29). Isn’t that cool? The man knew he had faithfully done his part, and then he rested in the assurance that God would cause his seeds to “sprout and grow,” even though “he himself does not know how.”  

The farmer in this story didn’t have to understand the entire biology of “how” his seeds would be turned into a crop. He simply knew the process would work, if he worked the process.

It’s fascinating to see that although this man’s harvest could be aptly described as a “miracle breakthrough,” it wasn’t instantaneous but gradual and progressive in nature: “first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.”

If you’re like me, you get frustrated by this. Why can’t the harvest come all at once, fully grown right from the beginning? While I’m sure some harvests DO arrive instantly, that’s surely not the norm. Almost always, we have to wait for our seeds to sprout, and then we have to wait some more until they come to maturity.

I’ve noticed that some people are so in love with the concept of the supernatural that they overlook their responsibility to plant any seeds. They haven’t witnessed to anyone, but they seem puzzled that no one is getting saved. Or they beg God to open the door for a new job, even though they haven’t gotten around to sending out their resume yet.

Other people are painstakingly trying to work life’s processes, but they are in desperate need of a supernatural touch from God to energize and multiply their well-intentioned seeds. They’ve forgotten that even after seeds have been planted and watered, GOD must be the one who makes them grow (1 Corinthians 3:6).

In order to reach maximum fruitfulness, we need both God’s power and His processes. The processes may not be glamorous, but they are a necessary part of receiving the Lord’s provision. Apart from Him we can accomplish nothing of lasting value, but as we abide in Him and apply His prescribed processes, we will surely bear much fruit (John 15:5).


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Churches all over the world claim to have Jesus “in the house,” but sometimes there is scant evidence to support that claim. Mark 2:1-12 provides us with a vivid outline of what it looks like to have Jesus actively working in our gatherings. The chapter begins by saying that Jesus had come back to Capernaum, His home base, and word had gotten out “that He was at home.”

I pray that this kind of word-of-mouth marketing is happening for your congregation today. Long before Facebook and Twitter, word quickly got out that Jesus was in the house, and a number of stunning results followed.

Here are 5 things you can expect to happen when people hear that Jesus is regularly “in the house” during your church gatherings:

  1. Crowds will come. Verse 2 says, “Many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door.” While your congregation may not be a megachurch, the Biblical model makes it clear that large numbers of people will be attracted if they truly know that Jesus is in the house.
  2. The Word of God will be taught. Verse 3 tells us, “He was speaking the word to them.” Other aspects of Jesus’ ministry would be demonstrated later in the story, but first He taught the Word. Today we have many churches that teach the Word, but which demonstrate no power. We also have churches that are highly experiential, with very little teaching from the Scriptures. Yet when Jesus is in the house, the two go hand in hand.
  3. Radical faith will be sparked. Hearing that Jesus was in the house, four men carried a paralyzed friend to the meeting place. When the large crowd prevented them from bringing the paralytic through the doorway, they climbed up on the roof and dug a hole to lower the man on a pallet in front of Jesus. What radical behavior! This kind of passionate determination would be so out of character for polite, conventional, American Christians. Verse 5 says Jesus SAW their faith—quite a contrast to the common misconception today that faith can be a private, personal matter that we keep to ourselves.
  4. Forgiveness will be released. Although the man had been brought to the meeting for healing of his paralysis, Jesus saw a much more critical need, telling the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5). Countless people today are paralyzed because of a need for forgiveness. Either they are immobilized by guilt and shame over things they’ve done, or else they are locked in an emotional prison because of their unwillingness to forgive others. Jesus was about to perform a miracle of physical healing as well, but first He made sure that the forgiveness issue was fully dealt with in this man.
  5. Miracles will happen. When was the last time you witnessed a genuine miracle in your church? Yet that’s the kind of thing that can be expected when Jesus is in the house. After He had taught the Word and dealt with the forgiveness issue, He boldly told the paralyzed man, “Get up, pick up your pallet and go home” (v. 11). When people saw the man immediately set free from his paralysis, they “were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this’” (v. 12).

I absolutely love this conclusion of the story. God was glorified by what had happened, as He always is when we invite Jesus to freely work in our gatherings.

People testified that they had never seen anything like this before. That’s exactly what will happen again today when you and I allow Jesus to come and fill our house today. Even if we’re longtime Christians, we will marvel at the blessings and miracles released by our Lord’s presence among us.

So let’s not settle for anything less in our churches and our homes than to have Jesus in the house.


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