Shadows and Handkerchiefs

 
The first 13 chapters of Acts mostly emphasize the ministry of Peter, while the remainder of the book highlights the ministry of Paul.  I would like to pull out two stories that involve miracles in each man’s ministry.  Both describe unique signs and wonders the Holy Spirit chose to highlight.
The first story involving Peter is found in Acts 5:14-16. “More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.  As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.”
The second story involves Paul and is found in Acts 19:11-12.  “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”
Wow!  Aren’t these exciting accounts?  Shadows and handkerchiefs made the news as people from all over Jerusalem flocked to witness firsthand the power of God as it manifested through these two men of God.  We marvel at these wonderful accounts and perhaps ask, “Can we expect such miracles today?”  The answer of course, is yes.  However, understand that these miracles are not normative, but were included in the Scriptures to demonstrate the diverse ways that God can/does bring about miracles.  In other words, we dare not build a ministry on shadows and handkerchiefs, expecting God to do it the very same way again and again.  Pastors may not want to name their church, “Shadow Ministries” or “Handkerchief Assembly.”
As far as I can tell, God does miracles His way, in His time and according to the diversity of His nature.  In Acts, He chose to use shadows and handkerchiefs – one time.  For us to say that shadows and handkerchiefs are God’s prescribed way to bring about the miraculous is ludicrous. 
Yes, believe for miracles.  Pray for them.  Expect them.  But let God bring them about according to His plan and purpose.  I believe these two exciting accounts were recorded to build our faith – that we might look, not to preachers and ministers of the gospel for the next “new thing” in God’s miracle arsenal – but to direct our faith toward Jesus Christ and let Him bring about the miraculous in unique and powerful ways.
Do you remember the time Jesus healed the blind man after rubbing saliva mixed with mud in the man’s eyes  (See John 9:6)?  Here’s mud in your eyes!  Our God is so creative and unpredictable!  Let’s stand in prayer for miracles, sign and wonders, and let’s leave the “how’s” up to God.  Do you need a miracle from God?  I wonder what heavenly surprise awaits you! 

  

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