“When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants did), he called the bridegroom over. “This is wonderful stuff!” he said. “You’re different from most. Usually a host uses the best wine first, and afterwards, when everyone is full and doesn’t care, then he brings out the less expensive brands. But you have kept the best for the last!” John 2:9-10 (TLB)

The Gospel John records seven specific miracles of Jesus that reveal His glory in undeniable ways and teach us eternal truths that encourage and enrich our lives still today! They are often called “sign miracles” as they point to the power and deity of Christ. These were signs that only God could do. The first is found in John 2 where Jesus and His disciples attended a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. When the wine supply ran out, Jesus’ mother, Mary, approached Him with the problem and told the servants at the feast to do whatever He tells you.

Imagine being those servants when Jesus told them to fill six stone jars with water. These jars could hold 20 to 30 gallons of water each. They were typically used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Once they filled the jars with water, Jesus instructed them to pour some of the water out and take it to the master of ceremonies. At this point, I have to give these servants credit for obeying what must not have made any sense to them at the time. Yet, they followed the instructions and, when the master of ceremonies tasted the water that had miraculously turned into wine, he called the bridegroom over and said,

“This is wonderful stuff!” he said. “You’re different from most. Usually a host uses the best wine first, and afterwards, when everyone is full and doesn’t care, then he brings out the less expensive brands. But you have kept the best for the last!”

What a story these servants must have had to tell their families when they got home! Living a life of faith is an adventure in seeing God do the miraculous! Faith is obeying God when it doesn’t make sense. It’s risking looking foolish and feeling awkward. And, here’s the best part: God always saves the best for last! You may be going through a season in your life that makes you feel like your best days are in the past. You may be confused or, perhaps, feel a sense of loss in your career or your marriage. Maybe, it feels like your dream has died and you’ve lost hope in things getting better. God says the best is yet to come! Look up and take heart. God always saves the best for last!

“I tell you the truth, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. All things will be possible for you.” Matthew 17:20-21 (NCV)

Miracles are part of the wonderful mystery of God to me. So many today want to offer some kind of formula to conjure up a miracle or some special prayer that forces God to act on our behalf and pull off a miracle when, where, and how we demand. If that were true, then who would be God? It’s so refreshing and relaxing when you can just let God be God. I may not always understand God’s ways, but I never have to doubt His love. God is love. Because He loves me, I can trust Him and simply ask for the miracle I need in my life. Philippians 4:6-7 says,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It’s interesting that the Bible says, “requests” – not “demands”. When we present our requests to God, we can have confidence in His love for us to respond. James 4:2 tells us

“We have not because we ask not.”

God knows what we need, but He longs for us to enter into a personal relationship with Him where we communicate our needs to Him. As He supplies those needs, we witness miracle after miracle of His grace and love.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.” Romans 5:3-4 (TLB)

I used to think of miracles as being like a genie, offering you three wishes, or Superman suddenly appearing to save the day! The truth is that life is messy, and God works best in the midst of that mess. Think about it. If everything were perfect in your life, you wouldn’t need God. You wouldn’t pray and connect with Him. You wouldn’t rely on Him. And, you would miss out on the whole reason you were created – to be in a relationship with your Creator. It’s my mess that leads me to God and causes me to lean on Him.

Life is a beautiful mess most of the time. It’s beautiful because God gets into the mess with us and turns it into a miracle. We think we need to clean up our mess before God can work a miracle, but the opposite is true! God is waiting for us to invite Him into our mess because He’s the only One who can clean it up. He takes our messes and turns them into miracles. The Bible says that the very problems and trials we face daily are good for us because God can use them to develop our character so that others may see the reflection of His beauty in us.

So, don’t hide your messes. Admit them to God and invite Him to start working a miracle in your life. Then, be transparent with others so they can see the beauty of Christ reflected through your brokenness. One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Corinthians 4:7

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

We are jars of clay on the outside; but, on the inside, we carry the beauty and brilliance of Christ. The more cracked and broken the jar of clay is, the more Christ’s power and beauty shine through. Don’t try to hide your brokenness. Bring the broken pieces of your life to God, and let Him make something beautiful out of them. Ask Him to take the mess of your mistakes, sins, and failures and turn them into His miracle. Let Him take the ashes of your greatest pain and brokenness and turn them into a brilliant and beautiful light that brings beauty to others. When you do, you’ll discover the miracle in your mess.

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 (NIV)

Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “He who gets too big for his britches will soon be exposed in the end!” Such was the case for Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. He had exalted himself as one worthy of worship. He made a 90-foot gold statue of himself and required everyone to bow down and worship it. He led Babylon to become the world power of his day, conquering all his enemies including Israel, destroying the Temple and the city, and deporting the Jews to Babylon. Disturbed by yet another dream, Nebuchadnezzar sent for a Jewish Prophet named Daniel to interpret it. Although Nebuchadnezzar had exalted himself as a mighty, even divine king, God was about to humble him and demonstrate that he was just an ordinary man. Daniel told him the dream was God’s way of revealing that he would suffer temporary insanity and live like an animal for a set period of time until he learned that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses. The humiliation for the king would be so severe that Daniel urged him,

“… please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.” Dan. 4:27 (NLT)

Have you ever heard or shared such a warning with someone? It’s a call to repentance; to turn to God from our sin and yield our lives to His care and control. In his stubborn pride, Nebuchadnezzar failed to heed the warning. The Bible tells us,

“Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. As he looked out across the city, he said, “Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.”

Did you notice how many times he said “my, my, my…?” What an ego! Ego means Edging God Out. Ego exalts itself! When ego is exalted, we are filled with pride! And, the Bible says that pride always goes before a fall! Sometimes, God has to teach us, through failure, what we would not learn in success. I call it failing forward. The Bible says,

“While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven. “O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses. That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society.” Dan. 4:31-33a (NLT)

I wondered if he remembered what Daniel had told him the year before. It must have sounded like an echo in his heart. Why didn’t I listen then? Why didn’t I humble myself before God when I had the chance? Here was a man like so many of us. He had witnessed the power of God revealing dreams through Daniel before. He saw Daniel’s friends delivered from the fiery furnace. Despite his recognition that God existed and worked miracles, he failed to acknowledge God as the Most High. He simply wanted to add Daniel’s God to his list of other gods! Only after he was humbled and his sanity returned, did he say,

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All His acts are just and true, and He is able to humble the proud.” Dan. 4:37 (NLT)

When Jesus performed miracles in the New Testament, He always began with the miracle someone needed most. Although Jesus knew what that miracle was, He would often ask them first. In Mark, when He gave the miracle of sight to a blind man, He didn’t assume that was what the man wanted most. He asked him,

“What do you want me to do for you?” To which the blind man replied, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51(NIV)

Put yourself in that man’s sandals for a minute. What if Jesus were to ask you the same question? How would you respond? What is the miracle you need most? You may be able to respond immediately or you may not know. Sometimes, it takes a storm in our lives for us to realize what the miracle we need most really is. In Mark chapter four, we read the story of Jesus getting into the disciples’ boat and going to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He had just finished a busy day of teaching and was tired. Mark picks up the story in verse 35:

“As evening came, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion. The disciples woke Him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then He asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey Him!” (Vs. 35-41 NLT)

I call this the storm in the miracle! While you may consider the miracle of calming the storm what you needed most if you were in that small fishing boat, the truth is, the miracle you need most leads you to what you really need most – a deeper relationship with God and others. Jesus would use the storm in the lives of His followers to lead them into a deeper understanding of who He was. Sometimes, we get a wrong perspective of God when the waves begin to rock our boat. Fear displaces faith, and we question God’s love or His power to save us. In verse 38, Jesus’ disciples even questioned His concern for them. Mark tells us,

“Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’”

Have you ever felt that way? Storms can do that. But the story doesn’t end there. Mark adds,

“Jesus stood up and commanded the wind, ‘Be quiet!’ and He said to the waves, ‘Be still!’ The wind died down, and there was a great calm. Then, Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?’ But they were terribly afraid and began to say to one another, ‘Who is this man? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’” (Vs. 39-41 GNT)

They went from being afraid of the storm to being terrified of the power this man called Jesus had to speak to the wind and waves and command them to be still! Jesus was using the miracle they thought they needed most to lead them to what they really needed most – a deeper relationship with Him! They needed to understand that Jesus was God! Have you come to that realization in your life? Because Jesus is God, He is the source of the miracle! The disciples would discover this over and over again as they walked with Him, heard Him teach, and saw the mighty works He performed. Their emotions ran from being absolutely terrified to being astonished by Christ.

Matthew records one of the miracles Jesus did that left the disciples amazed.

“In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, He was hungry, and He noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then He said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ And immediately the fig tree withered up. The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, ‘How did the fig tree wither so quickly?’ Then Jesus told them, ‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.’” Matt. 21:18-22 (NLT)

Jesus was telling His disciples that miracles were not so much about how much faith they had as they were about the object of their faith. Jesus, alone, is the real source of miracles. When we put what little bit of faith we have in Him, then we could say to a mountain,

“May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and it will happen.”

Jesus was teaching them and us today that God’s miracle in your life will always bring glory to Himself and point people to Christ. This is the fruit of genuine miracles in our lives today! When what God does in your life brings Him glory and points others to Christ, you have experienced a genuine miracle!

“You will not need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.” 2 Chronicles 20:17 (NLT)

If you’re tired of living in the Valley of Overwhelmed and ready to move into the Valley of Blessing, stop fighting and position yourself for a miracle. That’s what God told King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles when he was outnumbered and overwhelmed by three armies that allied themselves against him. The crisis was beyond his ability. When we face crises like that, we often feel so helpless that we think there is nothing that we can do, so we do nothing. We become convinced that the problems are too big for us to make a difference. But, God never asks us to do something big and great; He just asks us to take a small step of faith. That’s when the miracle happens! It begins with one small step of faith, and it led Jehoshaphat out of the Valley of Overwhelmed and into the Valley of Blessing! God told him to do three things:

  1. Stop fretting and remember God is for you.
  2. Stop fearing and give the battle over to God.
  3. Stop fighting and position yourself for a miracle.

How do you do that? If you look at his story closely, you will find two practical ways to position your life for a miracle. First, respond with an attitude of prayer rather than worry. In verse 3 the Bible says,

“Jehoshaphat was alarmed by the news and sought the Lord for guidance. He also gave orders that everyone throughout Judah should observe a fast.”

This is consistent with everyone in scripture who faced overwhelming odds and experienced miraculous breakthroughs! In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul says,

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

Turn your problems into opportunities to pray.

Second, choose to rejoice with an attitude of thanksgiving rather than complaining. Thanksgiving opens our lives to receive blessings. Complaining blocks blessings. In 2 Chronicles 20:21, 22 the Bible tells us how Jehoshaphat did this.

“After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising Him for His holy splendor. This is what they sang: ‘Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!’ At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.”

Notice the phrase “…at the very moment…” They chose to praise the Lord and sing before they won the victory! They didn’t wait to see what the outcome would be before they gave thanks! As a result, God began to act on their behalf. Verses 25 and 26 wrap it up like this.

“King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder. They found vast amounts of equipment, clothing, and other valuables—more than they could carry. There was so much plunder that it took them three days just to collect it all! On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today.”

If you’re in the Valley of Overwhelmed, take heart my friend. One step of faith can move you into the Valley of Blessing. Miracles begin with one small step of faith! It’s not a matter of how big your faith is, but how big your God is.

“Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20: 15b (NLT)

One of the most formidable weapons the Enemy has against a Christ follower is discouragement. It often happens when we feel overwhelmed! Mothers of preschoolers know what I’m talking about. They finish picking up the room, and it’s instantly a mess again! The clothes are folded and put away, and then they are dirty again. About the time the dishes are done, it’s time for the next meal! Maybe the battle you are facing is even more discouraging. The diagnosis isn’t good. The company is downsizing, and your position has been eliminated. Your husband or wife has lost interest in the marriage and wants out. There are more bills at the end of the month than you can handle. Discouragement can come in many ways. Life is full of battles.

When King Jehoshaphat faced overwhelming odds, he was naturally afraid. That’s human! Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is stepping out in faith – despite my fears. But how do you do that? God told King Jehoshaphat,

“Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours but God’s”

You and I can overcome discouragement if we give the battle over to God. The main reason we become overwhelmed is because we forget that the battle is the Lord’s. It’s not our battle. Give it to God.

“This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”
2 Chronicles 20: 15-17 (NLT)

What do you do when you are overwhelmed by circumstances beyond your control? How do you handle impossible situations? If you’re not facing them now, hold on, because I’m sure you will at some point. It’s only a matter of time. Thankfully, God has not left us wondering about what to do. His Word gives us practical counsel that will move us from the Valley of Overwhelmed to the Valley of Blessing! He uses a king in the Old Testament to show us how we can experience a miracle by taking one small step of faith. As we studied this passage yesterday, we saw how God taught the king to stop fretting and remember that He was with him. In verse 17, God says,

“Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

Knowing that God is with you changes everything! With the confidence of God’s presence, the king could step out in faith.

This was the case for a young man in the Old Testament who was overwhelmed and outnumbered by the forces coming against him and the prophet he served. His story is found in 2 Kings 6:16-17. When the young servant went outside, he saw an army of horses and chariots ready to attack them. He cried out to the prophet in fear! I love the way the Message paraphrases the prophets response: He said,

“‘Don’t worry about it – there are more on our side than on their side.’ Then Elisha (the prophet) prayed, ‘O God, open his eyes and let him see.’ The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha!”

When you’re feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered, ask God to open your eyes to see the wonder of His presence! The greatest miracle is not God’s presents but rather God’s presence! Remember, God is with you, and that changes everything! You and God are a majority! It’s not what you do for God but what He does in and through you that makes a difference!

“This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”
2 Chronicles 20:15-17 (NLT)

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? The forces against you are too much, and you don’t know what to do. The King in this story can relate to those feelings. In fact, in verse 12 he prayed,

“O our God … We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you!”

He was facing not one but an alliance of three armies coming against him. He was desperate. He was in what I call “the valley of overwhelmed.” You may be there today. You’re not facing a physical army, but the forces against you threaten to destroy you and forfeit the life God wants for you. It could be depression, anxiety, guilt, fear, worry, or shame over past regrets. Maybe it’s your marriage, or another relationship, that’s been broken by hurt and misunderstanding. Whatever it is, you are feeling alone in the valley of overwhelmed, and you don’t know what to do. You could be overwhelmed by the huge problems facing our world, or the threat of ISIS, and you feel helpless against such enormous problems. When we are in the valley of overwhelmed, we think our problems are so big that we can’t make a difference. But, God doesn’t ask us to do something big and great to solve them. He just asks us to take one step of faith and trust Him. When we do, we get to see Him do something big and great that will move us from the valley of overwhelmed into the valley of blessing! This week, we are going to see how to take that step. I may not know you personally, but I know this much about you. You are either in the valley of overwhelmed, or you will be there one day. God allows these challenges and problems in our lives to develop our faith and teach us how to grow. So, whether you are in the valley now or not, God’s Word will offer you practical counsel for what to do when you are there and how to position yourself for a miracle.

First, stop fretting and remember God is with you. Knowing that God is with you changes everything! Look at verse 17 again. God says to this King,

“Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”

Now, add to that the promise in Romans 8:31 that we have in the New Testament.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

God is with you and God is for you! This means that your greatest obstacle is God’s greatest opportunity to show Himself mighty in your life! We get overwhelmed when we take God out of the picture. Remember that God is with you and for you, and every problem will be an opportunity in disguise! Whatever is overwhelming you right now, give it to God. Thank Him that, even when you feel alone, He is with you; even when you feel rejected, God is for you! It will strengthen your faith, in spite of your fears, to take that first step in obeying God, moving you from the valley of overwhelmed into the valley of blessing!

“When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, ‘Surely this man was innocent.’”
Luke 23:47 (NLT)

Creation itself responded first to the Creator’s cry from Calvary! The Bible records four catastrophic physical events that occurred when Jesus was dying on the cross. The first was three hours of eerie darkness that covered the land from noon until 3pm. The darkness of evil was trying to extinguish the light of His life. The Gospel of John says,

His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 (LB)

The second occurred in the Temple when the veil of the Temple, which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place, was torn from top to bottom! Think about this for a moment. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!”, redemption’s price had been paid in full! There was no other sacrifice needed to make atonement for the sins of men! No need for the old sacrificial system! No need for a High Priest to make confession! Jesus is our High Priest, and He paid for our redemption on the Cross with His own sacrifice! Now, anyone can approach the throne of God boldly through Christ! Amazing! Grace changes everything! It would be a New Covenant in His blood shed for the remission of sins!

The third catastrophic event was an earthquake. The rocks split apart, and the Bible records a final supernatural phenomena – following Jesus’ resurrection, the bodies of holy people were raised from their graves and would appear in Jerusalem to many.

“Then Jesus shouted out again, and He released His spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.” Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT)

Imagine being the groundskeeper at that cemetery. Beyond these four catastrophic events are two remaining supernatural expressions of the power of grace! Only Luke records both.

“When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, ‘Surely this man was innocent.’ And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.” Luke 23:47-48 (NLT)

Remember, these were the very ones who had previously mocked Jesus. They had spat upon Him, cruelly celebrating the merciless abuse the Roman soldiers were inflicting on Him. These were the soldiers who gambled for His clothing as He offered them forgiveness. What happened? For six hours, they had seen and heard all that was happening while Jesus was dying on the cross. The soldier and the crowd were deeply moved with what they saw. His death did what, even, His life could not do. It broke the hard hearts of men. Already Jesus’ saying was coming true –

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” John 12:32 (NIV)

Grace changes everything! When you look to the cross, the miracle of grace will change your heart as well!