Miracle of a Changed Heart

Acts 3:11-26

In today's first reading, we see the healing of a crippled man attracting a crowd.  Ministers who are known for their ability to facilitate healing are quite popular even to this date.  They garner large crowds and attract people who are seeking healing for all sorts of physical ailments.


One healing minister that we (Donna and I) are aware of travels around the country and visits upon various non-denominational churches. When this minister arrives at these churches, he comes to preach the word, but people mostly come for the hope that whatever ails them will be healed. He attracts huge crowds wherever he goes.


After arriving and delivering some inspirational words, he holds court. The people walk up to him, tell him of their ailment, and then he lets out a loud over-the-PA system cry, “Whoosh, be healed”, and the recipient is knocked to the ground. It’s not easy to determine the efficacy, cure rate effectiveness of this healing process, but he sure does attract a following.


In the Reading, Peter addressed a miracle-seeking crowd, saying, "Why are you fascinated by this miracle, and why do you look at us as if we made this man walk by our own power or piety?"  He was using the opportunity to turn the people’s attention away from the miracle, and away from himself and John, to guide their eyes toward Jesus, and their hearts toward conversion.


The people did not initially understand. They crowded around Peter and John because they wanted to see more miracles; what they got was a message of truth about Jesus. Some accepted this, some did not.


Where are our priorities – Christ’s healing or personal improvement? When we pray for healing, are we praying with a belief that God has the situation under his loving control and has our interest in mind, or do we pray out of fear, simply hoping that he’ll whoosh our condition away?


There's a big difference between knowing and believing. We know we are loved by rebellious children and argumentative friends, but we don't always fully believe it, and so we insist on having proof. We know that God loves us beyond all measure, but look at how readily we assume he's not willing to answer our prayers. We know God is generous, but look at how hesitant we are with our finances and giving back at times; we're fearful that God won't replenish and multiply what we give away.


We may be fascinated with miracles, but miracles won’t deliver to us a true belief in God's love, because seeing is not believing. The disciples were able to see Jesus after his death. When they saw the truth, they knew that a miracle had happened, but they felt afraid. Their conversion to believing the truth and understanding what it meant did not happen until Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.


When we pray for miracles, be they small or large, easily possible or seemingly impossible, we become true believers when we allow the Holy Spirit to give us new understanding and spiritual growth. Miracles are only bonuses in Christian living.  The heart of Christian living is believing in God's love for us, which occurs when we move beyond the desire for miracles into the realm of understanding that God is making everything work for our good and for the benefit of others.


St Augustine once said, “I never have any difficulty believing in miracles, since I experienced the miracle of change in my own heart.” When we come to truly believe that Christ died for us and lives in us and for us out of love, we find more joy and inner peace than any miracle could ever give us.


And so we pray today, Dear Lord, thank you for all the miracles that you perform on our behalf every day, some that we notice and many that we don’t even begin to comprehend. Help us to encounter you more fully today, as you continue to do your work in us, changing our hearts, and changing the hearts of others through us.



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