In Matthew 13, we are told that Jesus went to his hometown of Nazareth and taught on the Sabbath in the synagogue of his childhood. The people of Nazareth, who had known Jesus since he was a little boy, were astonished by his wisdom and his miracles. They said:
“Where did he get this wisdom? Where did he get the power to work miracles? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?…Where then did this man get all this? And they took offense at him…..And Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:54-58)
Throughout the Gospels, when people did not believe in God’s power to work miracles through Jesus, he did few miracles “because of their unbelief.”
I wonder what miracles God is not doing in our world today because of our unbelief. Unfortunately, we have often become so rational, cynical, critical and unbelieving that we too doubt God’s ability to work miracles in our midst.
Lent is a time of preparing our hearts and minds to experience God’s greatest miracle of all, the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his betrayal, crucifixion, death and burial. The heart of our faith is based on belief in the resurrection of Jesus and his living presence in our lives today.
People often say “I won’t believe it until I see it.” As an Easter people, however, we learn that we will not “see it until we believe it.”
One of the reasons congregations struggle financially is because, often, we do not believe in the power of God to perform the miracle of generosity in our congregations.
On April 20, 2017, I will be leading a workshop for seminarians, pastors, and local church leaders entitled “Expect A Miracle: Generating Generosity to support God’s Work Through Our Congregations.” God is still actively involved in our congregations and in our world, but only those who surrender and trust in God seem to be experiencing it. During the workshop, I will share some of my own experiences as a pastor in small town, suburban and downtown congregations in “expecting miracles” in giving and in healing. Copies of The Gratitude Path: Leading Your Church to Generosity, a book I wrote in 2015, will be available at the workshop.
The Expect a Miracle workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at United Theological Seminary, 4501 Denlinger Road, Dayton, OH 45426. Registration is $15 per person for lunch and refreshments. The Lilly Endowment in Indianapolis, IN, has provided a grant to enable United to develop wise leaders in stewardship education and to provide support for this workshop. Register online at www.united.edu/expect-a-miracle.
The Lilly Endowment grant will also provide funds to pay for any United student or graduate to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course, either online or in a small group, to help students and pastors become better financial managers of their own financial resources. If you are interested in receiving a grant to take the Financial Peace course, or any other personal financial management course, contact Marcia Byrd at 937.529.2201 or email@example.com. The Lilly grant will reimburse the cost of course materials up to $130, plus a $100 bonus to any United alumnus/a or seminary student when they provide evidence of completing the course.
The Expect a Miracle workshop is sponsored by United’s Pohly Center for Supervision and Leadership Formation, which is committed to the ongoing development and growth of church leaders. Learn about other upcoming events from the Pohly Center on United’s website at www.united.edu/united-events.
We give thanks and praise to God for God’s miracles in our world.
Grace and peace,
Dr. Kent Millard
United Theological Seminary