November 12 – Miracles of Jesus – The Third Day

Read John 20:1-31

Over the last several days we have explored the miracles of Jesus. How He turned water to wine, made the blind see, and allowed the crippled to walk. Each of these miracles and the many more He performed during His brief time earth on speak to the holiness of our Savior and the remarkable power He had to transform lives.

However, no miracle He performed is as transformational and beautiful as His resurrection from the dead. 

The resurrection changes everything.

Jesus’s resurrection from the grave is the defining factor of our faith. Rather than being asked to believe in principles and ideologies that secure our place in eternity, we are asked to believe that our God, Jesus, came to this earth to show us what love truly means. To be a sacrifice on our behalf so that we can spend an eternity in Heaven with Him. 

I love how our passage today ends. 

“The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.”John 20: 30-31

The miracles we have considered throughout this series inform our understanding of Jesus and the power of who He is. The miracle we consider today, the resurrection, changes who we are, where we spend eternity, and will shape our lives forever so long as we believe. Our God has conquered the grave!

I invite you to share with me today in reflecting on the beauty of the Gospel. The hope we find in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Understanding that we believe by faith that Jesus actually came to this earth, died for our sins, and did indeed rise from the dead so that we could spend an eternity with Him in heaven.

This is what Love does. Hallelujah! 

Today, consider what does the miracle of Jesus’s resurrection mean to you? How does it change the way you live? How does it influence hope?

Taylor Bennington

November 11 – Miracles of Jesus – Bartimaeus

Read Mark 10:46-52

Dear Jesus,

I’ve been reading about some of the miracles you did while you were on earth so many years ago. I’m particularly intrigued by the story of You and Bartimaeus, the blind beggar from Jericho. 

The gospel book Mark wrote seems to focus a lot on Your humanity and the way You are both Jesus the man and Jesus the God we worship. I even read somewhere that the way Mark wrote seems to highlight the way You “redefined glory and greatness as humble and sacrificial service” (Introduction to Mark, The Abide Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers). So, I can’t help but wonder if the fact that You, surrounded by that crowd of people, not only noticed but stopped and took the time to ask this lowly beggar sitting alongside the street where You walked? Did You choose this man specifically to help us know how much You value humility? 

I love it so much, Jesus, because the people who were walking with You were trying to get him to shut up. But You heard his cry and You stopped in Your tracks, called him over and asked him what he wanted. Did You already know? I can’t help but wonder.

Why did You ask him?

And, Jesus, how did his faith make him well? I’ve noticed that this is not the only time You said that, “Your faith has healed you.” So, I am curious . . . did You use his faith along with Your power to heal him? How come sometimes You used people’s faith and other times, You chose to just heal people or perform a miracle?

Finally, Lord Jesus, I am dying to know how long Bartimaeus stayed with You. Mark wrote that, as soon as he could see, he started following You on the road. It makes me think of when You gave me this new life, this freedom from shame and guilt. You worked a miracle in my life when You forgave my sins and made me truly alive, and I started following You. Jesus, I hope I get to meet Bartimaeus someday in Heaven.

Well, thanks for taking the time to oblige my curiosity. But even more, thank You for showing me how much You loved a poor and lowly beggar who had nothing to offer but a cry for mercy. You loved him enough to start a friendship with him even before You healed him. It gives me hope to know that I, being so much like that poor and needy man, was noticed and wholly loved by You, the God of the whole universe. I pray that those reading this note will show such compassion to those around us as you did to Bartimaeus.

With love and so much gratitude,

Your Daughter,

Bria Wasson

November 10 – Miracles of Jesus – Mute Man

Read Matthew 9:32-34

Going to high school here in northeast Ohio meant that I was on the receiving end of my fair share of snow days. However, just because school was cancelled, didn’t automatically mean that basketball practice was cancelled as well.

Dad would deliver the news of school’s cancellation and my attention would shift immediately to my phone, waiting for the text from our coach about the status of practice. We would receive 1 of 2 texts, “No practice today” or “Practice at 8am”. I’m 29 years old and I can still remember the exact emotions over 10 years ago that I would feel upon receiving both of these texts.

Throughout life, there are moments that are letdowns and there are also people who provide that service.

In our reading today, we see Jesus healing people and dealing with critics.

This quickly recorded miracle, again, shows Jesus’ power over evil. There isn’t much of a principle in this miracle…it just reveals Jesus’ power…and even that wasn’t good enough for some people.

Throughout the gospels, we constantly read about the religious leaders’ constant battle with Jesus. When He healed, they said He did it in the wrong way or it was on the wrong day. When He commanded this mute man to speak, apparently, He did it by the power of demons. See Matthew 12:22-27 for the danger of such thinking.

Regardless of the religious leaders’ “debby downer” mentality, there is a principle that arises regarding invitation that we cannot miss.

If you read Matthew 9:27-34 in order to gain further context, you see that, when the blind who were just healed went out and shared of their encounter with Jesus, which Jesus commanded them not to, the text says,

While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus.”

This could very well mean that it was the former blind men’s invitation that got the mute man in front of Jesus.

Can you see the process here? Two blind men were healed and couldn’t wait to tell others about it and, because of their invitation, another man was freed from the bondage of evil.

How often would you say your invitation to faith is that of the blind men? Would you say that you simply cannot wait to tell others about Jesus?

I know, for me, this is very humbling.

I can get so caught up in my day-to-day responsibilities that I’m not going out of my way to reach those for Christ. These blind men, even when Jesus told them to stay quiet, burst out and spread the news of Jesus all over the region.

Oh, that we would have similar passion!

As you finish this devotional, I urge you to pray for such a passion to share your faith and experience with Christ.

There is life change to be had in Jesus and an eternity-altering invite that needs to be made.

Jake Lawson

November 9 – Miracles of Jesus – Withered Fig Tree

Read Matthew 21:18-22

There have been quite a few times where Kelly and I have been out of town and looking for some place to eat. There are the usual joints that we like to stop at but, when we are out of town, we usually go to Chic-fil-a. Not much needs to be said as Chic-fil-a’s food is, quite simply, incredible. I can begin to taste the spicy deluxe sandwich with waffle fries dipped in the delicious sauce when the letdown of all letdowns takes place…

Today is Sunday.

Chic-fil-a is closed on Sunday.

I would like to think that Jesus experienced the same letdown when, upon being hungry, He was looking to a close by fig tree for food and saw it producing no figs. Jesus then cursed the tree and, the next day, they found it to be withered from the roots up.

This is an illustration about being fruitless as believers. Jesus was showing that Israel, while claiming to be holy and very religious, didn’t have any spiritual fruit to show for it.

They were spiritually barren.

This is a humbling and sobering lesson for us today.

Unfortunately, Christians today are known, among other things, for their hypocrisy. We say and do things that make us appear that we have it all together, are growing in our relationship with God and treating other people like Jesus would when, in all reality, our lives are rotting on the inside because of the lack of genuine fruit.

Are you actually growing to become more like Christ day to day? Are you living out and applying the truths that you learn from God’s Word? Are you being an accurate representation of Christ to those around you who don’t know Him?

What made this object lesson so impactful for Jesus’ disciples is the religious leaders of the day were held in high regard – they were the “holy ones”. As the highest-ranking religious figures of the day,  they were basically idolized because of their position. People sought counsel from them and followed their commands “to the T” with fear of being in bad standing with God.

But they were rotting on the inside.

Could Jesus have commanded the fig tree to immediately produce food?

I’m sure.

However, even though He was experiencing the very human feeling of hunger, He chose to show His disciples what a hypocritical life looked like and the danger that surrounds leading such a life.

The challenge to each of us is simple: lead the life that you claim to lead.

Be committed to growth, not just to amaze people but to become more and more like our Heavenly Father.

Bring people to a knowledge of Jesus, not for the attention, but because their decision to surrender control will change their eternal security.

If you look back over the past 10 years of your life, are you any different? What steps have you taken? In what ways have you matured? How have your eyes been opened?

Whose life have you impacted?

Who have you been Jesus to?

If you can’t answer any of these questions, allow this to be your wake-up call.

Let’s all strive to be a fig tree full of figs, not a tree that is rotting from the roots up.

Jake Lawson

November 8 – Miracles of Jesus – Two Blind Men

Read Matthew 20:29-34

Crowds…they gathered to hear Christ’s teaching. They congregated to observe and experience His miracles. And, in today’s reading, we see a mobile crowd following Him. Even though it appears that they didn’t make the full trip, they set out with Him as He began the journey from Jericho to Jerusalem. It would be strenuous…more than 15 miles and a climb of over 3200 vertical feet.

I am sure that each person had his or her reason for following. Some may have been touched by His healing power…unlike the impact of the medical practices they had attempted. Others may have been inspired by the loving truths He shared in His teaching…unlike anything the religious leaders of the day had ever taught. Still others may have joined the throng because of mere peer pressure. They did not want to be the odd person out.

Whatever their reasons for following, they seemed to also have reasons for silencing the needs of two blind men they were passing by. Why did they try to shush them?

  • Did they see themselves as a closed group? “Us 4000 or 400 or 40 or 4 and no more!”
  • Were they more destination-oriented than people-focused? “We can’t be stopping for every little thing along the way or we will never get there!”
  • Did they see the blind men as too marginalized? “Jesus came for mainstream people like me!”
  • Did they see Jesus as one being limited in grace, love, and power? “If He gives attention to them, it will distract His focus and His resources from us!”

The Scriptures don’t give us their reasons for silencing the blind men, but I can imagine the excuses given above because I have seen them at work in my life. I am ashamed to admit that, but then I am inspired by the actions of Jesus.

He wasn’t too busy or goal oriented for this “interruption.” They weren’t nuisances, they were people with needs. He responded to these men with the same patient grace and mercy that He uses to touch me and that He used to touch many in the crowd. And, with His unlimited resources, there was more than enough room for two more to join the crowd.

Thanks, Lord, I needed that reminder.

Does your attitude about the needs of others and the compassion of Jesus need to change too?

Steve Kern

November 7 – Miracles of Jesus – Water into Wine

Read John 2:1-11

I don’t know about anyone else, but I may have a slight addiction to sweet tea. Now, when I say sweet tea, I don’t mean the kind of tea that is “fruity sweet”. I’m talking all of the sugar type “sweet tea”. When people serve sweet tea, while grateful for it, I’m immediately skeptical of exactly which type of tea I’m about to drink.

I have a glass of sweet tea (or two…) just about every night for dinner and, I know many of you are saying, “Golly! You need to drink some water”. I know this. Water’s just boring but I’m working on it. Anyway, there are times where I open the fridge to grab some Milo’s only to see that I finished the last of it the night before. There have been some trips to Dollar General as dinner is being served because I just have to have my sweet tea.

Again, I know it’s a problem…I’m working on it.

I imagine the same emotions were present when the wedding coordinator in John 2 discovered that they were going to run out of wine. Imagine the panic that was immediately present and the cold sweats that came when they thought of the shame that this would bring, not only to them, but the married couple as well.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have overheard the panic because verse 3 tells us that she told Jesus simply that there was no more wine.

Why did she tell Jesus? In what way did this concern Jesus?

I’m guessing it was because she knew that He could do something about it.

The conversation between Jesus and Mary in verses 4 and 5 is borderline hilarious. Jesus asks why this concerns Him and that His time to publicly reveal Himself as the Messiah hadn’t yet come. However, Mary just tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. According to the text, Jesus never agreed to do this. His mom just signed Him up for something.

Has this ever happened to you? I know there were times where my mom would say, “Don’t worry, Jake would love to help!” The look of “Seriously, Mom?” that I would give, I wonder, if it’s the same one Jesus gave Mary.

Regardless, Jesus turns stone jars full of water into wine, thus, His first miracle that is recorded in the gospels.

What does this miracle tell us? What can we take away from it?

According to the text, it was through this miracle that His disciples believed in Him.

What is it going to take for you to believe Jesus is who He says He is? Do you view Jesus as the churchy bearded guy on coloring pages or do you truly believe that He is the Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world?

Take a moment to thank God for being who He claims He is. What is going to be the tipping point for you to FULLY place your trust in Him? What’s going to convince you to surrender your life to Him?

Allow this story to act as a catalyst for you.

Jake Lawson

November 5 – Miracles of Jesus – Walking on Water

Read John 6:16-21

My daughter used to hate storms. The cracks of thunder. The heavy swaying trees. It was enough to send her into our bedroom time and time again. But, within the worst of those storms, her terror quickly doubled down as her mothering instincts also set in. You see she had 2 pet bunnies that were housed outside…and, if the tornado sirens were blaring, I would find myself trudging on a water-logged rescue mission to get Dottie and Ginger to safety.

I was never welcomed very kindly by those bunnies. They would kick me like a speed bag. But in the end, it was always worth the giant hug I would receive from my little girl. She sure loved those bunnies.

While reading today’s passage, I saw a parallel to my own story. Both about a child asking a father to save those they loved from a storm. But also, what stuck out to me was when the Scripture talks of the fear those men felt as they saw Christ coming to save them. I couldn’t help but remember the fear in those bunnies’ eyes as I approached them in the downpour.

How often, when we are in the midst of chaos, do we choose self-protection rather than opening our arms to the Father? We will huddle in the corner and kick with all our might because storms are scary. It’s hard to trust the idea that the Holy Spirit is actually on its way to supernaturally save us from our circumstances. How foolish and naive to not hide and take shelter from the storms. But faith tells us, we will never find peace in the boat.

Peace is out there.

It’s within the storm.

Peace walks upon the waves and beckons us to have the faith to stand up and stare that storm down (In Matthew, this would be the moment where Peter would have run out on the water toward Jesus).

My daughter is older now and a few months ago she turned to me and said: “You know, I don’t mind thunderstorms as much. I even like to listen to the rain now.” What a difference a little life experience can make.

If you are in a storm right now, I pray you can find your feet once more. That you will lean over the rail, face the darkness and search for the miracle that is on its way. No matter the size, I can promise peace within it and that it will pass at some point. My goal and prayer is that one day, I might even learn to enjoy the sound of the rain as I wait for my Dad’s arrival.

Nate Torrence

November 4 – Miracles of Jesus – Feeding of the 5K

Read Matthew 14:13-20, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-15

The account of the feeding of the 5,000 is recorded in all 4 Gospels and is the only miracle of Jesus to be so recorded. The account is relatively short and objective and each version of the events sets the stage by telling how tired and exhausted the disciples and Jesus were. They were seeking a retreat from the crowds. However, they were followed by people wanting to hear more from Jesus. As the day is coming to an end, the disciples encourage Jesus to send the crowds away to find food for themselves. Jesus does the unexpected and tells them to feed the crowd.

Feed the crowd? With what? We’ve been with you all afternoon with no time to cater a meal to this huge crowd. Plus, we don’t have enough money to buy food from the villagers. You know this isn’t exactly a business area where food can be easily purchased.

Can you hear the excuses? Can you hear the desperation going on behind the scenes? This task was a daunting, if not an impossible, one.

Can’t we just let these people find their own food and we can go and find a place to rest?

How do you respond when you are given a seemingly impossible task? Do you let the circumstances overwhelm you? I know I do. I tend to focus on my abilities and my time just like the disciples did.

One of the disciples was able to round up a bit of food. Did he maybe laugh when he handed it over to Jesus, saying something like: “Here, this was the best I could do on such short notice. See, I told you so, there isn’t much food to give to these people.”

Jesus took the food (perhaps with a sly grin) and prayed to ask God’s blessing on the food. Then He began distributing it to the people. The disciples lined up and each took a basket of food to share with a group in the crowd and repeated this process until all were fed. When they were all finished eating, the disciples were able to collect 12 FULL baskets of leftovers!

It was a miracle! 

The disciples’ focus was on the here and now and the overwhelming task at hand. Jesus was concerned with the process . . .how to conquer that overwhelming task. Jesus demonstrated how to trust God with the daunting task we may face – yes, even the seemingly impossible task!

Trust God. Ask Him to intervene and then do your best. God would not ask you to do something that you can’t handle. God can use that tough task to get your attention back on Him. He will not abandon you in your time of need. He will more than supply your needs just like in the miracle of feeding 5,000 (Philippians 4:19). 

Are you facing an overwhelming task? Are you exhausted from keeping up with the day-to-day tasks of life and just can’t handle one more thing? Stop focusing on the task(s). Look to Jesus and ask for His help. Pray for a perspective change. Ask God to use you to do impossible things!

Tammy Finney

November 3 – Miracles of Jesus – Another Catch of Fish

Read John 21:1-14

Not everything in life goes as we would have hoped or planned. 

When someone goes out fishing, they do not plan on coming home empty handed.  They plan on coming home with some fish to eat.  There were disciples of Jesus who were fisherman by trade: Peter, Andrew, James and John (one third of the twelve disciples) prior to following Jesus.

So, after the crucifixion, resurrection and Jesus appearing to His disciples, Peter decided to do what he and a few of the others were familiar with; go fishing.  Several of the others joined Peter to go fishing at night, which was typically when a professional fisherman would go out with the intention to return with a fresh catch to take to the market.  Peter knew what he was doing.  Fishing was his business, his profession.

As we read in John 21 we see that their fishing trip was unsuccessful.  They were fishing all night and had nothing to show for their efforts.  This is reminiscent of Luke 5 when Peter was out fishing and came back empty handed, only to have Jesus tell him to go out again.  Taking his boat out and obeying Jesus, he hauled in a great number of fish. 

So, the disciples are out fishing about a hundred yards away from the shore when Jesus calls to them from the shore, asking them if they had caught anything.  They did not know it was the Lord at that time.  But He called out to them again to cast their nets to the right side of the boat and they would catch some fish. 

Keep in mind, these are professional fisherman.  This is not their first time on the Sea of Galilee.  Peter and the Sons of Zebedee were familiar with how to catch fish.  They had their nets out all night with nothing to show for it, yet they listen to the suggestion of the call from shore to move their nets to the other side.   And the result was a catch so large that they could not pull it in due to the number of fish.  John even gives us the exact number of their catch – 153!

Peter realizes it is the Lord who just performed another miraculous catch.  Notice what Peter does next.  He puts on his outer garment and jumps in the water.  Typically, when someone takes a plunge to swim, they take off the outer garment.  But Peter, ashamed and humbled, covered himself.  He was embarrassed for he had recently denied the Lord, so much to be ashamed of, yet he dove in and swam with all his might to get to the shore as quickly as he could to see Jesus. 

Jesus was not done with Peter.  Yes, Peter had sinned; he had forsaken and denied the Lord.  But Jesus showed him miraculously again that he was calling Peter to follow Him, just as He had done previously.  Jesus was still providing the catch and He wasn’t done with Peter. 

They were just getting started!

In what area(s) of your life has Jesus given you a second chance? Do you ever feel like you have shamed Jesus so much that He has given up on you?

That’s not the case!

I challenge you to surrender your sin, regret and pain to the Lord and seek His forgivness.

He isn’t done with you yet…not even close!

Nate Mills

November 2 – Miracles of Jesus – Severed Ear

Read Luke 22:50-51

If I’m being honest, I might have cheered Peter on in that moment. Maybe even joined him in the revolt? If I had seen the miracles. If I had followed the call to leave all that I knew to serve Christ and be among one of His closest friends. Then a posse of government officials comes to arrest Him with a charge that would lead to execution… Yes, I would have defended my Lord. I would’ve gone down swinging.

And yet, this is wrong.

Jesus answered, “No more of this!” Christ did not (and continues to not) need a defender. He does not need justice. He IS justice. His will within this moment was beyond Peter’s (and my) own understanding.

After putting a stop to the revolt, Jesus touches the wound where the ear once was and it was healed! This wasn’t what Jesus wanted. This wasn’t the point He was trying to make.

How often do we try to take control when it’s not our job? I take so much pride in being reliable to get the job done. I enjoy the process of exceeding expectations. In a world that seems to be forgetting foundational work ethic and perseverance, I have felt a call of action to be an example (to my children, my family, my friends, my church) of a man who runs toward the giants, not away from them.

But for some of us, the hardest thing the Holy Spirit can ask us to do is “to not run”. To not charge at the opportunity set before us. It sounds so counterintuitive but, in this season, I know God is teaching me to sheath my sword. The greatest act I can currently do for Him is to learn to not “overreact”.

What made a great warhorse? A broken one. Bucking broncos are fun to watch but on a battlefield, their strength is useless. A broken horse will both stop on a dime at the slightest tug of the reins and will also run straight down the side of a cliff full force with a flicker of the heel.  With this analogy, Psalms 51:17 reaches new depth: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

What area of your life do you need to give over to the Lord? Is there something in your life that you’ve been fighting, but now realize, God is calling you to go straight through?

Oh, to be strong but broken for you, Lord. If you agree, let’s pray:

“Lord, I ask forgiveness for making your will fit the construct of my will. I see that my best choice is not always based upon what I do, but what I restrain myself from doing. I will not be a distraction to the kingdom. May my unbridled actions never prevent the perfect story you are telling in the lives of those around me. I take a moment right now and am willing to ask… Lord, show me the areas I am allowing my emotions to be louder than You.”

Nate Torrence