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If you will permit me to define miracles as wonderful things that happen that weren't supposed to happen, all because we prayed, then I will report to you two miracles that have recently taken place in Chicago's most ethnically diverse neighborhood, a place where gangs still are free to do their business, and where shootings and even murders are not totally unexpected.
Miracle 1 is Chris. Gang-banger extraordinaire, on behalf of whom his praying mother besought Heaven regularly, Chris one day connected to the Truth. The gang out of which he made his exit beat him to a pulp and threw his bloody body into the street. He was rushed to the hospital... He's up and well now, and last week you would have seen him at least twice giving out Christian literature and telling others of Jesus, on the street that saw his blood. A miracle of grace.
Miracle 2 is Eric. It's a different kind of miracle. He too wanted to follow Jesus. Same gang. Friend of Chris. He knew the price he would have to pay. We at the church knew it too. We were all so depressed with the possibility of Eric getting what Chris got. And Chris hadn't received the worst treatment possible. This gang has been known to execute its victims.
The church began to pray. And pray. And ask others to pray. On the night scheduled for the beating, he got a phone call: "Not tonight. Monday night." What was this? Some indecision had hit the top leadership. Were they already sensing the restraining power of the Holy Spirit?
Monday came. (that's last night, as I write this) Eric showed up boldly for his appointment. Final decision... No beating. Why? asked Eric. (Most of us would have been out the door by then.) Somehow the message came back that there was a feeling among the members that this wasn't right. Eric, then and at other times, was able to give a clear testimony as to why he wanted out. Jesus was glorified. A miracle of grace, also!
Two very different miracles. No rules about persecution, except that all godly will receive it. Eric, and you and I will all have to take our licks eventually, when it's the right time, and when God gets what He wants out of it. We rejoice whether He takes us THROUGH or AROUND. The important part is that we are still standing on the other side.
Situation 1: Insults the Jews on the day of Pentecost, saying they have murdered Christ. Not a hand or voice raised against him. 3,000 repent and are baptized!
Situation 2: Heals a lame man. Arrested and threatened, released. No harm done.
Situation 3: Peter's influence increases. Arrested again. An angel sets him free!