“I dare you to pray for me,” a tall, solidly built man challenged the pastor. “I don’t believe all this stuff is real.” Having watched dozens of people receive prayer with many being “slain in the spirit,” this cynical gentleman planted his feet in front of the platform.
“Gladly,” responded the pastor. “Please know, I don’t make anything happen. I just pray.”
The pastor lifted his hand towards the man and began to pray. In an instant, the Holy Spirit slammed the man down awkwardly on the platform stairs—frontwards! I watched as his chest hit the stairs hard, bruising one of his ribs.
Later that week, the man called the church office…not to sue us, but with gratitude. “God is real,” he pronounced. “God revealed himself to me. I am reminded that he is real each time I breathe and feel the pain in my ribs!”
Like the preceding story demonstrates, signs that truly originate with God can point unbelieving people towards Jesus.
One of my ORU students shared in class recently about a church friend of his who left Walmart praying in tongues. Unexpectedly, a Native American walking nearby stopped and thanked him. “You just told me in my native tongue that everything was going to be okay and that God will be with me,” he shared.
Worldwide, God is supernaturally revealing Jesus to Muslims through dreams and visions. Another student who travels to Turkey told me how believers there witness to Muslims. They challenge the Muslim, “Tonight, go pray to Allah. Ask him to reveal himself to you. Then tomorrow night, pray to Jesus and ask him to reveal himself to you.” Often on night two, Jesus appears to the Muslim in a dream or vision! The resulting conversions are quite dramatic because their former zeal for Islam is now transferred to being a disciple of Jesus.
God also uses signs to bring confirmation and encouragement to those who already believe. God provided many such signs when we were in the process of adopting our five children from Guatemala.
One year in November, Kerry and I gave away all our savings in obedience to God. With December approaching, we desperately wanted to see our children in Guatemala for Christmas. We sent out no support letter, just prayed. On the first Sunday of December, Kerry found an envelope under her church office door with seven $100 bills and an anonymous note saying, “Go see your kids in Guatemala for Christmas.” We received Christmas cards from people we never receive Christmas cards from during the week that followed, many with a $100 bills inside!
At another point in the process, we were discouraged by some setbacks. Tulsa had gone 110 days without rain. Somewhat mad at God, Kerry stood in the shower and prayed, “If you are in this, Lord, make it rain!” That night we awoke to the sound of rain on our roof.
Just two weeks after that incident, I opened a letter from a student who took a modular class that I taught. Out fell a check for $25,000 to help with adoption expenses! Another person emailed offering to give $5000 in matching funds. And yet another emailed to say God woke him up in the night and told him to send money to us. More stories like this one could be told.
During 2010, Kerry had gold dust appear on her several times…once at a church meeting, once at a Chris Tomlin outdoor concert (at a zoo!), and another time when getting out of the shower before drying off! Each time, this sign encouraged her of God’s presence when she was discouraged.
Some signs remind us that God is very present with us, working on our behalf to protect us and overcome the demonic. We had been having some challenges in the spiritual realm. Since our adoption, my wife occasionally sees in our house an angel named Warrior that God has sent to protect our family. One morning, our son Jesus told me he had seen an angel in his room during the night sitting at the end of his bed. He described the angel in great detail, and every detail matched the description my wife had given of Warrior.
In short, genuine signs always point us back to God and to the supremacy of his kingdom over all else…sin, death, sickness, finances, weather, etc. How supreme is God in your mind?