THE GREATER MIRACLE

Upon reading the sixth chapter of John, one finds two of the best known miracles of Jesus in the Four Gospels; the feeding of the five thousand and Christ walking on the water. What miracles they are.WalkingonWater

In the feeding of the five thousand we find a group of people who clearly resemble many in our day. After they saw this super-natural miracle of Jesus feeding the large crowd with the multiplication of a lad’s small lunch, they wanted to take Jesus, the Master Provider, and make Him King. Jesus, however, would have none of that, and managed to escape from their midst, departing into a mountain to refresh His soul in prayer.

To those who desired to make Him King only because they saw a great miracle that resulted in them filling their empty stomach, Jesus spoke these words, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26). They were not interested in following Him because of who He was, but only because they had their bellies filled and satisfied.

In the second miracle, when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the stormy waters (John 6:16-21), it at first caused great fear to well-up in their hearts. But in the midst of the fierce storm they heard from the lips of Jesus these reassuring words,  “It is I, be not afraid” (John 6:20). It seemed those calming words from the Master of the Sea were sufficient to chase away the fears of the anxious disciples, and “they willingly received Him into the ship” (John 6:21).

Sadly, it seems that many today only make a commitment to Christ based upon what personal benefits may be obtained or gained from that commitment. It is easy to see the miracle but never see Him. The greater miracle is when we see Him in the storms of life. The greater miracle is seeing Him walking toward us when fear wants to grip and overtake our hearts. The greater miracle is seeing Him when the high waves of life seek to hide His face from us. The greater miracle is to hear His reassuring voice above the noise of the waves beating against our ships. The greater miracle is seeing amidst life’s disappointments His appointment to draw closer to Him.

It is as He walks with us on the troubled seas of life that we truly come to know Him and realize that the greatest miracle of all is knowing Him, walking in intimate communion with Him, and hearing His reassuring voice above the sound of the crashing waves. It is as we make Christ King of our hearts that we realize the providing of all other needs that occur in our lives are met as our personal relationship with Him grows, matures, and develops.

Recognizing His voice in the turbulent waters of life is enough to calm our greatest fears. Do you hear Him above the noise and distractions of the world? Do you see Him though the waves beat fiercely against you? If in those times you see Him, communion with Him, and hear His voice — then what a miracle indeed; yes, the greater miracle!

Blessings,

Dr. Dan

NO SHORTCUTS TO VICTORY

On Tuesday, April 22, the track and field team I am privileged to help coach, Elkin High School, competed in the Mountain Valley Athelctic Conference Championships. It is an eight team conference consisting of both 1A and 2A schools. The competition is usually fierce and if one is not prepared physically and mentally the results will not be what one hopes for.Phil314

Preparation for championship competition doesn’t began a week before the day of the scheduled meet. Preparation begins months before. I had runners this year that have been focused on being conference champions in their respected events since last year and worked to see that become a reality. It goes without saying those that approached Tuesday’s meet with such an attitude and a dedicated work ethic did extremely well, even reaching their goal of winning. No matter how gifted an athlete may be, unless they are willing to work a much less talented runner who has worked will beat them. I have seen that happen many times over the years. My philosophy has always been, work so hard that if you get beat make someone have to run very fast or jump very far to beat you.

It amazes me that there are always athletes who are not willing to work and who don’t adopt a winning mentality, who are surprised when they don’t do well when the competition becomes heated. When one becomes lackadaisical I their training or tries to take shortcuts to get to the top they soon discover there are no shortcuts outside of a good work ethic and proper mental attitude. One can’t expect to win the race when they have sought to take a shortcut to the victory stand.

Unfortunately, the same attitude that some athletes adopt in attempting to win without proper preparation can creep into our Christian lives if we don’t keep our eyes on the prize. There are no shortcuts in athletics or in the Christian life. Paul, in comparing the Christian life to that of a runner, tells us that if anyone competes as an athlete, he will not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules (2 Timothy 2:5).

What are our goals as Christians? Are we following the “rules” to achieve those goals? We want to enjoy His blessings without obedience; to claim His promises without surrender; to experience His presence without worship and fellowship, to know His will without following Him; to say we believe His Word without ever reading it; to have an intimate relationship with Him without a prayer life. Such thinking runs against the scriptural path to victory in every way. Are we trying to take shortcuts and still hoping to win the prize?

Sadly, we adopt wrong methods seeking to achieve abundant spiritual results. Too often we want a God who pours out His best upon us but makes no demands upon our lives. It doesn’t work like that in the athletic arena or in the spiritual realm. There can be no true blessing without obedience, no claiming His promises without surrender, no sensing His presence without daily communion, no knowing His will without following Him, and the Bible can’t guide our steps if we don’t hide the Word in our hearts. Trying to take spiritual shortcuts in hopes of achieving God’s best for our lives will not work.

Like Paul we need to faithfully “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). The word “press” is the picture of a runner straining and focusing on the victory that awaits them at the finishline. Attempting to take shortcuts will not result in receiving His “prize” for our lives. Only faithful obedience will win the prize of knowing Him and reaping the rewards of such a relationship.

Let’s keep pressing toward the finishline!

Blessings,

Dr. Dan