Does God still perform miracles?
This is a tough subject to approach. Yes, I believe that God still performs miracles today. He saves lives, He touches lives that result in new or renewed faith, He prevents some disasters that would have too large an impact on the world, and many, many more. However, I also believe that He allows the natural consequences of our actions to occur. This means He does not perform the miracles we think should happen - when we think they should happen. God will perform actions that He deems necessary, in His will, and in His time. This seems to be more common than the former. I guess I am really wondering if God performs miracles on demand as many claim.
Before we start
So, let me ask you a question. Why does God not always perform public miracles immediately when people pray to Him? Speaking here about prayers from people of strong faith, humility, and all those attributes we think faithful people have, why does He not appear to listen? Well, think about what would happen if He did. The world would beat a path to the door of the successful prayer and...well, remember what happened to Paul when he was bitten by the snake at the campfire in Acts 28:3
Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.
? At first they though he was a bad man, being punished. Then, after he didn't die, they treated him as a god. If the public found out that a man could pray and receive miracles at will, what do you think would happen?
Should we pray for miracles? Absolutely! Our prayers go up together and God hears each of them, as well as the whole group. But we are also told in the Bible that He does not always answer us the way we think He should. "What!?", you ask? Well, without getting too detailed about it, there is a site at Christian Answers that lists many reasons why this is so:
Is all prayer answered?
Scripture teaches that God does answer our prayers (John 16:24); but Scripture also says that there are some conditions for effective prayer. What are some reasons the Bible gives for God not answering our prayers?
1. We don't really believe God can answer them. Jesus said: "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (Matthew 21:22) James wrote: "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (James 1:6-8). Believing is perhaps the best known condition for prayer. But there are other reasons prayer is not answered.
2. We ask with wrong motives. "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3).
3. Unconfessed sin separates us from God, so that He will not hear. "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities (sins) have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2).
4. We set up idols in our hearts that come between us and God. "Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?" (Ezekiel 14:3).
5. We don't answer those who cry to us for help. "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered" (Proverbs 21:13).
6. We don't remain in God/God's Word doesn't remain in us. "If you remain in me and my word remains in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you" (John 15:7).
"But, I'm a good Christian..."
We Christians think that since our intentions feel pure, God would never deny us. We consider ourselves so in love with Christ that He will see our righteousness and give us what we have asked for. But, we are not always the people we claim to be, or even think we are. People don't seem to realize that if they prayed within the guidelines of the Holy Spirit, and kept their wishes inside the Will of God, they would see the answers to their prayers more often. God saves sinners, He doesn't necessarily pamper them because we think He should.
My wife recently purchased a book from a televangelist because this man proposed that everyone who bought it and read it would be able to perform miracles every day - or at least have the Holy Spirit perform miracles through them. Based on the television program he runs regularly, these are not the "believe and you will be saved" types of miracles. No, he is talking about "In the name of Jesus, be healed right now!" type of miracles. These are the broken-and-exposed-bone, flayed skin, bloody all over the place, crying-because-it-hurts-so-bad miracles that are completely healed in less than four minutes. Don't get me wrong - my intent is not to make fun of this claim. He claims to have done it personally and my wife believes it completely.
The problem with complete acceptance of these claims is that, as wonderful as these miracles were, judging by the lack evidence from researching this claim, no one has heard of them being reported until this book was written. Even trying to research some of them by trying to get some information over the internet has failed. Obviously, that's not the last word on truth, but if there is something this fantastic, there should at least be someone out there who would have either questioned or hailed the claims loudly by now - as we see in the media daily, no truth is necessary in order to make a statement or claim.
Finding proof? Not so easy
One of the miracles the evangelist author claims is for a lady he knew who was brought to a hospital (we don't even know the name of the hospital, just one that he evidently worked for) with a hip that was broken so badly that when she was laid on the gurney one foot was pointed straight up and the other was pointing straight down, with that leg being six inches shorter than the good leg because of the twisting of the muscles.
The doctors at the hospital were evidently fully aware of the condition of her skeleton and had already scheduled surgery. Now, this should have put it on the record books. However, any attempt to search for broken hip miracles only brings up advertising for this author's book and church - and the Arizona claim below. No date or approximate timeline was given to provide for any sort of verification.
He had a reputation
This author was already in trouble with the hospital staff where he worked because he "prayed" with some of the patients, so he had to be discreet. The author says he went quietly to the lady and placed his hands on her. After he left, she reportedly had a warm feeling start in her leg and it began to rotate back to the correct position. This lady then later gathered her things and walked out of the hospital!
Well, to make a long story short, the doctor who was assigned for the surgery came to see the patient (evidently before she walked out) and refused to operate on her because there was "nothing wrong with her", probably thinking someone was playing a prank on him. A nurse argued that there must be something wrong because she had seen the ladies' original condition. And that was the last we hear of that. No investigation, no record of the visit, no newspaper or television report, not even a novelty story that causes people to scratch their head.
Maybe they forgot to record it...
Well, with all the trouble finding anything other than the sites about his church and advertising for his book, there was an article about a miracle hip cure involving a young man hit by a car in Glendale, Arizona, on February 3, 2016, but again there are no details to verify anything about the incident. There is a statement about him being driven to the hospital in an ambulance, but there are 40 hospitals or medical centers in or near Glendale and the name of the ambulance company is not given.
Also, there is a photo of a document mentioning a broken pelvis and a fetal cephalhematoma (this refers to an injury occurring at birth involving the head, not the hip), but nothing shown linking it to this date or the alleged patient. Also, I found nothing, anywhere about the hip miracle claimed by the evangelist author in his book. A search for all accidents reported in Arizona shows nothing recorded involving a pedestrian with this name for February of 2016. Is it possible these miracles really happened? Of course! Is it wrong to be suspicious? I hope not.
How do I say this next part...?
Now, this page began by saying that I believe that God still performs miracles. There is no way to describe how or why I believe this without sounding like a "raving Christian" or a lunatic. However, the experience of several events in my life that would have to be either extraordinary coincidence or real miracles encourages belief. At least one of these happened before I even believed that God existed, and at least one other happened to me after my conversion. Yes, I believe in miracles from Heaven, but I have trouble believing that we can just order them up like a happy meal at McDonalds.
Helping God out?
God has a plan for each us and whether we follow His plan determines our success in life. But it seems to me pretty presumptuous to think that we can interfere with that plan for someone else's life by arbitrarily determining that we know enough about a stranger to step in and redirect their lives as we think should be done. Yes, we may get a prompting from the Holy Spirit that someone needs help, but how arrogant is it that we think He needs our help to accomplish His mission? We are told to "love your neighbor as yourself", not "seek all that you may heal and tell the world about it when you do". Also, there is the issue about making money with miracles - or by telling others how to perform them.
This seems to be a lack of faith, but how far does one go to demonstrate faith? Miracles happen, and if God wanted me to do something that might increase the faith of those around me, I would do it, of course. However, knowing a little about human nature leads me to also believe that selling a book that tells all readers that they can heal on demand may set some "lunatics" and "money grabbers" loose on the unsuspecting world. "But", you say, "God will control who does what to whom". If that is always so, then why does He need us to direct the healing of the Holy Spirit? I could never promise anyone that, if they would only buy my book, they could begin to perform miracles.
Where are they now?
There is another thing uncovered during this investigation. The Miracle Channel (I provide this link for the curious, but, please be wary), a Canadian station now run by Leon Fontaine (the author of the book my wife wanted above), has a history (under its previous manager) of promising miracles for all viewers who send in a "seed" (read this as "donation of money"). They were "guaranteed" a miracle in the form of jobs, healings, immediate (within hours) doubling of the amount of the seed you send in, blessings in your life, etc.
Several pastors have challenged this station and have begun investigations into the validity of their promises and statements. One had actually been a believer in their promises and donated to the point where his family began to suffer financially, but he never saw a miracle and eventually lost his business and the station would no longer respond to his attempts to contact them. Canadian authorities, and some news channels, have been watching them closer, but the Miracle Channel station claims that they are not forcing their viewers to send in money, so no action has yet been taken.
What happened to belief in the power of prayer where we tell God our concerns and ask for His will to be done? Must be too complicated, huh?
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