Spiritual Survival


6. Believe You Will Succeed

"If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."  Mark 9:23

Once a stonecutter was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life. One day he passed a wealthy merchant's house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stonecutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!"

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it - a huge, towering rock. "How powerful that rock is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a rock!"

Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the rock?" he thought.

He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stonecutter."

"As a man thinks within himself, so he is." (Proverbs 23:7) Consistent thoughts of "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" will produce positive beliefs, words, and actions that will help accomplish the God sized dream and vision the Holy Spirit has placed within your heart. 

1. Do I have a God given purpose?
At your first steps of faith, the unique purpose that required your birth was put into motion. This purpose includes revealing God to the world in a way that only you can accomplish. Your challenge is discovering what it is and how to run the marathon race you were born to win. You will discover the process may be challenging, but it is designed to produce spiritual maturity as it leads you to fulfilling your divine destiny. 

2. How do I discover God's destiny for my life? 
It is revealed as you grow spiritually. The process involves:
• Scripture being illuminated to you. 
• Discovering your passion and spiritual gifts. 
• Walking close to Jesus.
• Being continually filled with the Holy Spirit.
• Focusing on future goals, not on past failure.
• Disciplining your thoughts.
• Resisting complacency and apathy.
• Living a lifestyle of love.

Discovering your divine assignment includes answering these questions. Your answers are the material used to help build a mental road map that will take you on the road to your divine destiny. 
          1. What are you good at?
          2. What do you enjoy doing?
          3. What are you passionate about?
          4. What do others affirm about you?
          5. What segment of society do you weep over?
          6. Where are you currently advancing the Kingdom of God?

3. Are you a basic believer or a devoted disciple? 
Every disciple is a believer in Jesus, but not every believer is a disciple of His. Each member of the Body of Christ is either a believer or a disciple. What is the Body of Christ? It is the living spiritual organism, composed of individuals who are members of God's family. Christ is the head of this unit and each believer is linked to Him and to one another. Both the basic believer and devoted disciple are unconditionally loved by God. For His love isn't dependent on what we do or choose. Here are distinctions between the two categories

A Believer:
Knows about God but isn't in relationship with Him; not necessarily known by others as a Christian; holds onto his or her life in order to avoid pain; doesn't produce spiritual fruit; possesses a hardened heart towards the things which break God's heart; doesn't walk the lifestyle they preach; wastes the gifts God intended to bring to others through them. The irony is that a believer has the pain of a broken heart waiting for them in heaven when they are shown what could have taken place, if only they would have chosen to live out God's plan for their lives rather than playing it safe. 

A Disciple:

Passionate about seeing heaven come to earth as opposed to being preoccupied about leaving earth to go to heaven. Peace and joy are evident in their lives. Possesses a warm, comfortable, and intimate friendship with Jesus; trusts the Lord with the process and outcome of their past, present, and future; resists sin; produces an abundance of spiritual fruit; miracles flow through them; obeys biblical commands with joy; follows in the footsteps of Jesus by carrying God's love to the world; is a world changer in advancing the Kingdom of God on earth; weeps over sin's impact; possesses a spiritual appetite for Christ's character to be formed within them; sets the captives free from bondage; binds up the broken hearted; lives by the golden rule found in Matthew 7:12, "Do for others what you would like them to do for you." As godly ambassadors, they are Christ’s hands, feet, and voice to a love hungry world. They are sent by the Holy Spirit to bring Christ's unconditional love, thoughts, and kingdom principles to the downtrodden, prisoners, widows, orphans, the wealthy, Presidents, and Kings. Did you notice that great learning, awesome intelligence, and earthly wisdom isn't included as prerequisites in being a disciple? Why? God doesn’t need these to produce a devoted disciple. He chooses to use the foolish things, the despised things, and the weak things. With this in mind, we can look at our weaknesses as assets which are opportunities for the Lord to transform our weaknesses into His strengths. 

4. Are there any costs of being a disciple of Jesus?
A realistic perspective says, 'Yes, there is a high price to pay to be a devoted disciple, but it is worth it!" The cost is sizing up whether we are willing to pay the personal price to complete the cross bearing path God has chosen for us. If you choose this path, you won't have to do it alone. Hebrews 4: 14-15 says, "Since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin." As you review the following, ask the Holy Spirit to give you additional insight to each one:

· Carrying your cross. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-25, "If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life." Carrying your cross involves putting aside your desires, plans, and goals in exchange for God's. At first glance your cross looks like an instrument of death, but on closer examination it really is the vessel God uses to bring you into abundant life.

          · You might be rejected and ridiculed by others.
          · Asked to do things for others, whether they deserve it or not.
          · Brokenness. Avoiding painful experiences is not unusual. Yet, the places we become broken in are the very places we become the strongest in. This is similar to when a bone is broken and heals. The site of where it was broken is now stronger than the rest of the bone.

5. Are there blessings for a lifestyle of obedience?
Yes, there are many blessings the Lord wants us to have in response to our obedience. Our obedience to the Lord is proven by our actions. The following story illustrates this point: "A 12-year-old farm boy was told by his father to do a certain chore. The boy really didn't like doing the mundane task, so after his father went to town for supplies, the boy noticed that their barn door desperately needed to be painted. He knew where there was a can of bright red paint and a new brush. He quickly tried his hand at painting the door. He did a really good job, but when his father came home he was irate at the sight of the undone chore he had left for his son to do. The boy had performed a good deed by painting the door, but he had been disobedient in not doing the thing that his father left for him to do.'

Obedience is not doing the thing that we necessarily want to do, but doing the thing that Christ asked us to accomplish. Adam and Eve were disobedient to God by biting the apple, but the good news is that we don't have to be disobedient. We have a choice. Another fact of our obedience is the Lord is 'not moved' by the neediness in our lives. He divinely intervenes in response to our obedience. Just as it was for Jesus, obedience is our cross and it is custom made with the goal of creating the heart of Jesus within us. 

The heart of Jesus is like a diamond that received many cuts by the master jeweler's hands to shape it into it's fullest potential of refracting light. We are asked to be willing to have each of our hearts shaped into the heart of Jesus, through the many blows life brings us. Painful though they be, without facets a diamond in the rough looks like any other rock. Not until facets are cut into our hearts will they be able to refract the glory of God to others drawing them to Himself just as Jesus did while he was on earth.

There are many believers that go through the actions and behaviors of serving Jesus, but they never embraced their cross. Eac time Jesus presented it, they reject it because it appears to be only an instrument of death. This causes them to repel from it. Their survival instincts kick in, but on closer examination they see God’s glory radiating from behind it. Their spirit man is now drawn to the cross. Jesus said in Matthew 10:38, "If you refuse to take up your cross and follow Me, you are not worthy of being Mine." So rejecting it is really refusing the transformation of becoming like Him. This rejection won't jeopardize our position as a child of God. It simply prevents the rate at which the character of Christ is developed within us, the level of intimacy we have with Him, the production of spiritual fruit in us, and earning our SBA diploma.

6. What is a SBA diploma?
It’s my concept of a spiritual degree that Christ’s disciples can earn in the school of faith. To earn this diploma requires:

S-tudy God's Word daily. It keeps our spiritual fire lit and obedient by walking on God's path. Psalm 19:9-12, "The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to those who hear them; there is great reward for those who obey them." There is no magic formula for successful bible study. The important thing is to develop an appetite for God’s Word. If we try too hard to implement a particular form of study, we may become legalistic. This sets us up to feel guilty when we don’t spend a certain amount of time studying. Then we’ll find we are out of balance by operating totally from our head and not our heart. The following is only a suggested basic pattern for Bible study:
• Make it a daily habit.
• Study by reading whole books with a goal in mind.
• Consider marking or highlighting verses that hold special meaning to you and dating them.
• Within the margins, jot brief notes recording thoughts the Holy Spirit brings to you as you read
• As you study, ask yourself these questions about the verses and write down your answers: Is there a role model for me to follow? Is there a sin I need to avoid? Is there a command I ought to obey? Is there a spiritual challenge to be considered?

B-elieve the Word you studied is eternal, sure and true. Isaiah 40:8, "The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever."

A-ct on what you believe through practical application. Luke 11:28, "More blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice!"
When we incorporate these three actions, we won't only earn a SBA spiritual diploma in God’s school of faith, but there are other benefits we'll enjoy as well.

7. What are the benefits of a SBA diploma?
When we consistently Study, Believe, and Act we receive the benefits attached to earning this spiritual diploma. These benefits are found in Psalm 112:1-9,
• Our descendants will be powerful on earth.
• Wealth and riches are ours.
• Things go well with us.
• We will not be shaken.
• Our heart is full of faith and not fear.
• Our spiritual power will be increased.

Although all the benefits listed above are tremendous, the even more important benefit isn't what we'll have in our hands, but what we'll possess in our hearts.

8. What are the three A's of action?
The three A’s of action are the building blocks to living a "believe you can" lifestyle. The are found in James 1:22-25, "Humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls. And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to.(Accurate Information) If you don't obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law (Awareness)--the law that sets you free--and if you do what it says (Abundant Participation), and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it."

A-ccurate information: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true... It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right." (2 Timothy 3:16) "People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every Word of God." (Matthew 4:4) A story is told in Armenia, where a whole village of sixty families embraced Islam under threats of torture and death. There was only one exception - a woman aged 93 years, who refused, saying, “I am too old to deny my Lord.” The fierce men snatched her Bible from her hands, tore it up, and burned it. She said very calmly, “You can do that, but you cannot tear the promises out of my heart.”

A-wareness of your responsibility
: Through the study of scripture, our eyes are opened to our God appointed involvement and the keys we need to effectively impact the world around us. It is our responsibility to appropriate the authority and power God places within our hands in the form of these keys. Jesus said in Matthew 16:19, "I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven."

Abundant Participation
: Going into action by faith with the truth we possess. A good example of this is Jesus’ parable about a solid foundation in Matthew 7:24-27, "Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on rock. But anyone who hears my teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash." Faith is the currency of God’s kingdom on earth. It’s designed to be spent, not hoarded. The more of faith that is spent the more of faith we have. Faith gives us the courage and boldness to dare to "believe we can" do great things. "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works." John 14:12

9. What are the characteristics of spiritual boldness?

Spiritual boldness is comprised of these three elements:
Courage: to encounter difficulties with firmness.
Meekness: to possess inner power without distraction.
Confidence: to put faith into action.

These attributes not only belong to spiritual survivors they are also found in successful marathon runners. For example, the runners in the New York marathon. Runners travel from all over the world to participate with thousands of others in a valiant attempt to cross the finish line. The race is a grueling 26 miles long.

Throughout the course of the race, many runners fall by the wayside as they collapse from exhaustion, injuries, dehydration, and heat stroke. These incidences, in most cases, could have been avoided if the runners had trained properly before the race by becoming familiar with the demands of the course and prepared a plan of action in adjusting for the unscheduled mishaps of other runners.

When runners are racing shoulder to shoulder, it doesn't take much for a runner to fall down. Through no fault of their own a runner could find himself falling along with another contestant. A balanced lifestyle maintains a straight course. It involves:

Spirit Realm:

1. Read and meditate on at least a chapter of the Bible a day. This feeds your spirit enabling you to be an overcomer.
2. Prayer.
3. Praise and worship.
4. Fellowship with other Christians.

Soul Realm:

1. Loving actions towards others.
2. Obedience to God's commands.

Physical Realm:
1. Healthy diet.
2. Regular exercise.
3. Laugh often.

10. What are spiritual marathon winning strategies?
One of the most important things to remember in running your marathon is not how you start your race, but that you finish it well.

Live for God by making his kingdom interests and principles a priority. Matthew 6:31-33,
"Don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

Be alert, uncompromising, brave, and loving towards others.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14, "Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done with love."

Give all worries and cares to God. 1 Peter 5:6-7, "Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you."

Do everything in humility. Matthew 23:12, "Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Pride is a cover up for shame. Jesus was transparent because he had no shame or guilt to hide. Shame doesn't come from God, but conviction does. Are you convicted or ashamed? Remove the shame and embrace conviction. This will bring you to repentance. Jesus will cleanse you and make you whole again.

Keep your focus on Jesus. James 1:3-4, "When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." When we stand guard over our hearts and minds by resisting the ways of the world and keeping our focus on Jesus we win every time. Why? Because God keeps us on track, but circumstances can detour us. "
Peter called to him, 'Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.' 'Yes, come,' Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. 'Save me, Lord!' he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him." Matthew 14:29-31

Perseverance involves pushing through obstacles on our paths. Obstacles can be as big as a mountain or something very small that weighs us down making the race harder than God designed it to be. When this happens remember this: God has not called you to be mountain climber, but a mountain mover. Use the authority Jesus gave you and command the obstacle to leave. Then keep your eyes on the goal. Obstacles become overwhelming when we take our eyes off of Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1-2 encourages us in our race of faith, "Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God's throne in heaven."

11. What does God consider to be an important activity in my life?
Praise and worship. These bring you into the presence of Father God in heavenly places. They are also absolutely critical to your spiritual survival. Praise is an outward physical demonstration of your love for God. It is an expression of your faith in who He is and it is empowered by your sincere passion for God. To praise means to celebrate, to kneel, to lift or clap your hands, to shout with joy, to sing, to boast, and to rave about God. Worship isn’t something we do for God, but with God. Worship is where we lift our voices of gratitude to Jesus for all He is and has done. Worship keeps our hearts soft and pliable in His hands. Through worship our perspective is changed from an earthly view to a heavenly one. Worshipping God is a critical in fulfilling His plan for our lives. Psalm 31:19-22 gives a sample of praise and worship rewards: "Your goodness is so great! You have stored up great blessings for those who honor You. You have done so much for those who come to You for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of Your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in Your presence, far from accusing tongues. Praise the LORD, for He has shown me His unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack. In sudden fear I had cried out, "I have been cut off from the LORD!" But You heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help."

Mary Khoury, a Lebanese teenage girl, is a disciple with a heavenly perspective. Her inspiring true story, "My Life is a Prayer", took place in Damour, Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war, which lasted from 1975-1992. "Mary Khoury and her family were forced to their knees before their home. The leader of the Muslim fanatics who had raided their village waved his pistol carelessly before their faces. His hatred for Christians burned in his eyes. “If you do not become a Muslim, “ he threatened, “you will be shot.” Mary knew Jesus had been given a similar choice, “Give up your plan to save sinners, or you will be crucified.” He chose the cross. Mary’s choice was similar. “I was baptized as a Christian, and his word came to me: ’Don’t deny your faith.’ I will obey him. Go ahead and shoot.” The sound of a gun from behind her echoed in the valley and Mary’s body fell limply to the ground. Two days later, the Red Cross came into her village. Of all her family, Mary was the only one still alive. But the bullet had cut her spinal cord, leaving both her arms paralyzed. They were stretched out from her body and bent at the elbows, reminiscent of Jesus at His crucifixion. She could do nothing with them. More words from the Lord came to Mary. Even though she was so handicapped, she knew God had a plan for her life. “Everyone has a vocation,” she said. “I can never marry or do any physical work. So I will offer my life for Muslims, like the one who cut my father’s throat, cursed my mother and stabbed her, and then tried to kill me. My life will be a prayer for them.” If you have a handicap, which presents an extra challenge in fulfilling God’s plan for your life - please don’t allow it to stop you!

12. How can I praise and worship God when I don’t feel like it?
In John 4:23-24, Jesus explains it to His disciples this way, "The time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." To worship in spirit means not to allow our emotions to dictate when we worship, but to practice God’s presence by opening our heart to love, to admire, be thankful, and revere Jesus. It also involves our minds and souls. Worship is a “whole person” experience. Whether we 'feel' like worshipping or not, worship needs to be an integral part of our daily life or we will experience spiritual dryness. Worship can be compared to the analogy of what water is for a plant. Without water, the plant becomes dehydrated, withers, and ultimately dies. Our spiritual health is like a plant. It is dependent on our times of worship and prayer.

Worship includes: Praising God in song. Telling Him how much we love Him. Thanking Him for all that He is. Being quiet in His presence. Obedience to His biblical commands. When we do these, it results in: Delighting the Lord. Developing our relationship with God. Defeating the Devil’s schemes in our lives. Declaring our faith to others and to ourselves. Dethrones our earthly desires.

13. How do I stand firm by faith?
By filling your mind with God’s Word and prayer. Putting into action spiritual truths. Ephesians 6:11-13 says to, "Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.

14. What is spiritual fruit?
It consists of these attributes listed in Galatians 5:22-23, "When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Spiritual fruit in our lives is grown for the benefit of others. The members of the Body of Christ pick our fruit for their spiritual nourishment. Yet, we are unable to discern its very existence. This is one of God's gifts of grace to us. It helps keep us from falling into the trap of pride. God will do anything to prevent us from this sin as no member of the Body of Christ is greater than any of the others. This truth can be seen in the skyline of a large metropolitan city. It contains skyscrapers of various heights. The one story buildings of the downtown are just as important to the daily functioning of the city as the taller ones. The only difference is that the taller ones are visible from a distance. Some disciples are more visible than others due to their public ministries, but not any more important to the functioning of the Body of Christ than the members that are ministering in secret behind the scene.

15. What would cause me to be unfruitful?
Recorded in Mark 4:19 Jesus says, "The cares of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for nice things." These cause our focus to be on earthly matters rather than on God's kingdom interests. The key to spiritual fruit bearing is resting in God through every circumstance. Resting is a place of trust and faith. Just as a branch does nothing in its own power to produce fruit, but remains connected to the vine receiving life for bearing fruit.

16. What miracles did Jesus perform while he was on earth? 
Made water into wine, John 2:1-11. Healed a nobleman's son, John 4:46-54. First miraculous draught of fishes, Luke 5:1-11. Demoniac delivered and healed, Mark 1:23-26; Luke 4:33-36. Healed Simon's wife's mother, Matt. 8:14,15; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38,39. Healed diseases, Matt. 4:23,24; Mark 1:34. Miracles at Jerusalem, John 2:23. Cleansed the leper, Matt. 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16. Healed the paralytic, Matt. 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26. Healed the invalid, John 5:1-16. Restored a withered hand, Matt. 12:9-13; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6:6-11. Healed multitudes, Luke 6:17-19. Healed the centurion's servant, Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10. Healed demoniacs, Matt. 8:16,17; Luke 4:40,41. Raised the widow's son, Luke 7:11-16. Healed in Galilee, Luke 7:21,22. Healed a demoniac, Matt. 12:22-37; Mark 3:19-30; Luke 11:14,15,17-23. Stilled the storm, Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25; Matt. 14:32. Healed the diseased, Matt. 14:34-36. Demoniacs healed, Matt. 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39. Raised Jairus's daughter, Matt. 9:18,19,23-26; Mark 5:22-24,35-43; Luke 8:41,42,49-56. Healed a woman, Matt. 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48. Opened the eyes of two blind men, Matt. 9:27-31. Cast out a demon and cured a mute person, Matt. 9:32,33. Five thousand fed, Matt. 14:15-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:5-14. Healed sick, Matt. 14:14. Walked on the sea, Matt. 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:14-21. Healed a girl, Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30. Healed the lame, blind, mute, and maimed, near the Sea of Galilee, Matt. 15:30. Four thousand fed, Matt. 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9. One deaf with speech impediment cured, Mark 7:31-37. One blind cured, Mark 8:22-36. Child with seizures healed, Matt. 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43. Piece of money in the fish's mouth, Matt. 17:24-27. Ten lepers cured, Luke 17:11-19. Opened the eyes of one born blind, John 9. Raised Lazarus from the dead, John 11:1-54. Woman with the spirit of infirmity cured, Luke 13:10-17. The dropsy cured, Luke 14:1-6. Two blind men cured, Matt. 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43. The fig tree blighted, Matt. 21:17-22; Mark 11:12-14,20-24. Healed Malchus's ear, Luke 22:49-51. Second draught of fishes, John 21:6. Resurrection, Matt. 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6; John 20:1-18. His appearances and disappearances, Luke 24:15,31,36-45; John 20:19,26. His ascension, Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9.

17. Do miracles happen today?
Absolutely. Jesus is recorded saying they would in John 14:12-14, "Anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in My name, and I will do it!." Although the majority of miracles are sent by the Lord, there are also counterfeit miracles performed by the devil. The enemy of our soul sends these as attempts to persuade us to accept deception and to set us up to fall away from our faith in Jesus. Satan will also use ministers and faith healers to be his vessels of deception, so be aware that not everybody who claims to be performing miracles in Jesus name really is. Jesus taught the disciples about this demonic trap in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as `Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell me, `Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, `I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized." Obviously, this is where discernment kicks in. Scrutinizing supernatural phenomenon is not a lack of faith. It is wisdom to receive confirmation from spiritually mature people. If you believe you received a physical miracle, please have it confirmed by a professional doctor.

Believe you can... because what you do with your life will echo through eternity.

Spiritual Survival Handbook by Kathleen Kaplan. Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved.
Holy Bible New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc. All rights reserved.

The Roy Pontoh story used with permission. Excerpt from the book "Jesus Freaks" by "The Voice of the Martyrs" at persecution.com

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