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Releasing the Miraculous: Walking in all Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Releasing the Miraculous: Walking in all Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit

by James Tan

Learn More | Meet James Tan

Chapter Five

The Working of Miracles

“…To another the working of miracles.…”
1 Corinthians 12:10

The working of miracles is the divine stepping into the natural. Miracles are a sovereign act of the Spirit of God; a miracle with a natural explanation cannot be a miracle.

The working of miracles is a gift that manifests the ability of God to intervene, supersede, or alter natural law. At their source, miracles are purely divine, but they always flow through natural means. So rather than create water out of nothing for the flood of Noah’s day, God used water from natural rain and from the oceans rising (Gen. 7:11). The gift of the working of miracles always works through human and natural means. There are occurrences recorded in the Bible that are miraculous but did not come through human involvement—such as Moses’ burning bush. These are miracles, just not the gift of the working of miracles.

Miracles are not the doing away of the natural, but rather, the enlarging or downsizing of the natural.

This gift was in manifestation much more in the Old Testament than the New Testament. This was because the Old Testament revealed the power of God while the New Testament revealed the compassion of the Father.

The Working of Miracles Brings Supernatural Supply
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.’”
Exodus 16:4

Among other things, this miracle teaches us that there can be a daily reliance on God for a fresh supply. I love that God wants to be in our daily lives. He isn’t just God of the “big” miracle. He is the God of the daily “smaller” miracles. An understanding of miracles removes our need to hoard anything and puts us in a place of continual expectation. This same principle is repeated in what we know as the Lord’s prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).

When we grasp the significance of the gift of working miracles, it puts an excitement in every morning because it’s yet another opportunity to have a fresh delivery of heavenly manna. Neither “hand to mouth” nor “laid up wealth” is the plan of God for us. It is daily willingness to let yesterday’s manna go and to expect from heaven. Of course, this is not to say that we must not have any material possessions, but rather, that our trust is not in what we can gather in our hands. Our trust is to be in what God will bring to our hands. This is the posture that sets the stage for the gift of the working of miracles.

Manna from heaven was not the only time God, through the cooperation of Moses, brought miraculous supply. God also brought water from a rock.

“‘Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.”
Exodus 17:6

Having journeyed deep into the desert and now facing opposition from the armies of Amalak and a drought, the children of Israel were beginning to murmur against Moses. Reaching a fever pitch, some were even thinking of stoning him. But through the gift of the working of miracles, Moses struck the rock and water came forth.

Typically with God, every act, every utterance, every miracle speaks at multiple levels. While the children of Israel rightly saw this miracle as a means to end their thirst, God used this event to speak prophetically of the crucifixion of the coming Christ. Jesus was to be the Rock that was struck and had living water poured forth from it (John 19:34). Jesus was to be sacrificed once and for all (Heb. 6:6).

Moses clearly did not see the significance himself because he made some changes to God’s plan the next time water from a rock was called for.

“Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.’”
Numbers 20:11-12

Moses, out of anger and frustration with the people, struck the rock twice instead of once as commanded. God forbade Moses and Aaron from entering the promised land, not because He was petty, but because, symbolically, those who entered the Promise Land must be those who believed that Jesus, the Rock, was struck once and for all.

The gifts of the Spirit, specifically the working of miracles in this situation, were used by God to demonstrate His power, provide for the children of Israel, and speak to us today through the Old Testament type of Rock. There truly are diverse administrations with the ways of God.

The fact was that Moses was commanded to strike the rock once, but he did it twice. He disobeyed God and nearly messed up an important prophetic picture of Jesus, but the miracle still happened. The people drank of the water and could enter the Promise Land, but Moses, who was used in the working of that miracle, could not. Miracles can happen independently of the minister’s current walk with God. Spiritual gifts are independent of spiritual growth. The church in Corinth was another example of this. They had an abundance of every spiritual manifestation but also were overrun with sin and division. These gifts of the Spirit are all given from God’s throne of grace and mercy.

I think the life of Samson, with all his flaws and heartache, proves this without a doubt. Samson had the miraculous flowing through every part of his life. From the angelic announcement of his birth to his long hair and supernatural strength, Samson’s life was a sign and wonder from the start. Yet, the Bible records that he had an impetuous streak. He was prone to rowdiness and forsook his religious vows with alcohol and women. And and then there was Delilah.

I am always thankful that God chose to record flawed characters in the Bible as people He was still able to move through by His Spirit. It gives hope to all of us. Outside of Jesus, every character in the Bible was flawed. There was not a perfect one among them. But it did not stop the Spirit from giving out His gifts to them, and it did not stop the gifts from manifesting through them. Our flaws are not greater than the Spirit’s flow!

The working of miracles is a coming together of human involvement to do the “working,” and God the providing of the “miracle.”

In Elijah’s ministry, we see the working of miracles once again providing for material needs—this time for a widow. I really love that a widow is involved in this miracle because in that time, widows were low on the social ladder; they were defenseless and had no means of working. God cares for those on the lower rungs of society.

“For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’
The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.”

1 Kings 17:14,16

The prophet had gone and hidden himself by the brook Cherith at the command of God during a famine that he had prophesied. The time spent at the brook was marked by manifestations of the Spirit. But as the brook dried up, God, by a word of knowledge, told Elijah about a widow in Zaraphath that had been commanded to provide for him. This was quite a test for the widow. Even though God had already spoken to her directly about Elijah’s coming visit, she had very little money or possessions. But when she made the choice to obey God, the working of the miraculous fed Elijah and her family. God did not just have feeding His prophet in mind.

Elisha, Elijah’s spiritual heir, also saw the working of a miracle involving a widow.

This was yet another desperate situation that required divine intervention. We need to have our spiritual eyes open to see that miracles are always in the neighborhood of the impossible.

This widow’s husband was one of the sons of the prophets. Her husband had left her in serious debt so that the creditors had threatened to take her two sons as payment. In this state of despair, she came to Elisha.

“So Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?’ And she said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.’ Then he said, ‘Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few.’
Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not another vessel.’ So the oil ceased.”

2 Kings 4: 2-3,6

The first thing that Elisha did was redirect her focus from her lack to what she had access to. The seed of a miracle is already within the grasp of the one needing a miracle.

In the case of New Testament believers, the Spirit from whom the gift of the working of miracles flows lives on the inside of believers. We need not look to the hills for miracles; we need to look within to the One who is greater!

This widow, like so many believers, did not see the value of what she had and immediately downplayed it—a jar of oil—as “nothing.” When we do not see the value of a seed, we miss the possibility of a miracle because all miracles start with a seed. Honor what you have in your hands, no matter how small and insignificant it looks.

Elisha, under the unction of the Spirit, commanded her to go get as many jars as she could find. Her faith and obedience to this would affect the working of the miracle. Our faith and obedience will affect the working of miracles in our lives as well.

The widow gathered all the jars she could get her hands on. The miraculous flow of oil stopped when the availability of the jars ceased. The working of miracles involves a “working,”—a doing, on our part.

The gift of faith receives while the working of miracles works a miracle.

I have organized humanitarian outreaches for many years. In many situations, these events soften the ground in places that would otherwise be closed to the gospel. One time, I had put together a medical mission group to Asia. The team of medical personnel collected and brought medicinal drugs and all kinds of other supplements. We knew from having done these medical outreaches in the past that multivitamins were one of the most popular items to have. The team would bring the pills and medications in large wholesale-style bottles, and then repack them when they landed into smaller sacks for distribution at the clinics. We would give everyone who came a small bag of multivitamins regardless of what they came to the clinics for. Typically, we would put up a tent in a local village and stay there for a week. Sometimes we would see thousands of people per week!

Once, halfway through the week, when we met for prayer in the morning before heading out, I was informed that we had unexpectedly run out of multivitamins. The team was very diligent and kept daily records so they knew exactly what we had, and they knew that the supply would not be enough to even last the day. We still had three days of outreach left, and we hadn’t budgeted for the size of the crowds.

There wasn’t much more we could do. So, as we got ready to board the bus to the clinic, we left saying among ourselves, “Well, we’ll just have to ask God to stretch and multiply what we have.”

The crowds that day were as large as the ones we had all week, and when the outreached clinic closed, we were all tired as we made our way back to the hotel. On the bus someone mentioned that somehow we had been able to give everyone who came to the clinic a bag of vitamins. We were all a little surprised but didn’t think much of it because we were so tired.

The next morning, when we met for prayer before heading out, we saw that the same bag where the vitamins were usually packed was still full of multivitamins. Inventory of what was used and available was taken daily, so we knew this supply was not accounted for. We were shocked, and I think we were all thinking the same thing, but no one dared say a word.

That evening the team member running the pharmacy once again told us that everyone who had come to the clinic had received multivitamins. And the next morning at team prayer, we once again were surprised to see that the luggage bag that stored the multivitamins was full. This continued for the whole outreach, and by the time the trip was over, we still had so many bags of multivitamins that we had to leave them behind with the pastors.

The working of miracles always flows with what we already have in our possession. There is a “seedtime and harvest” principle to the working of miracles. The Spirit will flow through what we already have to work a miracle. That is why there is a “working” of the miracle. What is in hand must be utilized, must be worked.

  • The children of Israel had to give up the manna they had collected the previous day and gather fresh manna.
  • Moses had to strike the rock.
  • It was the clothing that the children of Israel already had on their backs and the sandals already on their feet that were preserved for forty years as they wandered the desert.
  • The donkey that Balaam rode on was the one that saw the angel of the Lord and then spoke.
  • The widow of Zarapeth had to reach for the last of the flour to make a meal for the prophet and her family.
  • Jesus filled the pots with water before turning them to wine.
  • Jesus used what little food was available to feed the multitudes.
The Power Gifts Raise the Dead

Undoubtedly, one sure miracle is when the dead are raised. This extraordinary miracle is tied to, yet distinct from, the gifts of healings in that to bring a person back from the dead, one of the gifts of healings is required. Otherwise whatever caused the death will immediately bring death about again. Then it takes the gift of faith to step out and receive the miracle. Finally, the working of miracles calls back the departed’s spirit and breathes life back into the body.

“The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
Matthew 11:5

Raising the dead was one of the specific miracles that Jesus used to identify Himself to John the Baptist. This was clearly part of the command of Jesus to the disciples as they were commissioned to go preach the gospel.

“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
Matthew 10:7-8

Yet we see that Jesus did not raise all the dead. He did not even raise John the Baptist when news arrived that he had been executed. The early Church, likewise, did not attempt to raise Stephen, the first martyr, or even James when he was executed by Herod. Like all the other gifts of the Spirit, the working of miracles is initiated by the Spirit.

Smith Wigglesworth, the famed British apostle of faith, is reported to have raised quite a few people from the dead—including his wife! John G. Lake, known as an apostle to Africa, also records raising his sister from the dead. In more recent history, evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, who recorded nearly eighty million decisions for Christ in his crusades, also has reports of the dead being raised. And they are not the only ones with such reports in our time.

Nature Bows to the Working of Miracles

Perhaps the biblical miracle most commonly portrayed in cinema is Moses’ parting of the Red Sea.

The children of Israel escaping Pharaoh’s army through the Red Sea was one of the first miracles that displayed God’s power to deliver His people over the laws of nature. There had been miracles over nature displayed in the ten plagues of Egypt, but this miracle was not just a sign like those. It was a direct response from God to save and deliver His people.

Trapped between mountains and the Red Sea, it seemed that the wrath of Pharaoh’s army was certain. They knew that there would be no mercy. The instruction of God to Moses was typical of those that accompany the gift of the working of miracles:

“But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.”
Exodus 14:16

The working of miracles always involves something you have in your hand, and it always involves yielding that to the Lord. You must “work” the miracle!

Had Moses not lifted his rod and stretched his hand over the sea, the Red Sea would not have divided. Then, after the sea was divided, the children of Israel had to physically walk across to complete the miracle of deliverance and protection.

There were so many other ways God could have chosen to do this. He could have just confounded Pharaoh’s army. He could have transported the children of Israel through the air like He did with Phillip in the book of Acts. He could have enabled the children of Israel to walk on water. But God chose to have Moses lift his rod, stretch out his hand over the sea, and then have the people walk across the ocean floor. The gift of the working of miracles, given as the Spirit wills, will always come with instructions that must be followed for the miracle to manifest. There is always a practical aspect for the working of miracles to manifest.

Joshua received some detailed, practical instructions from God before the walls of Jericho.

“You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat….”
Joshua 6:3-5

Of course, we know what happened in that story. The walls came down. But the point here is that the miracle would not have happened had the instructions not been followed. Now, granted, the instructions had no actual bearing on the walls falling down. Walls do not normally fall down because of people marching around them for a couple of days. So, it wasn’t the marching or shouting that brought the walls down; it was the obedience to the instructions that caused the miracle. Marching around and then shouting on the last day was the “working” side of the miracle.

The working of miracles always starts with “working” instructions before the miracle manifests.

The Working of Creative Miracles
“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.”
John 9:1-7

The working of miracles, like all the other gifts of the Spirit, requires the leading of the Spirit to be entered into. We have no other references of such instructions for a miracle, nor do we have instructions to replicate these steps. Can you imagine the altar call at church if we did? “Come on up here if you are sick, and we’ll spit on you to make mud to rub in your eyes!” Now, I am not saying God could not lead you to do that, but if He did, that would be the exception, not the rule.

The making of mud is reminiscent of how God created the bodies of Adam and Eve in Eden.

Again, this speaks to how the natural, when submitted to the Spirit, becomes a conduit for the supernatural. The (formerly) blind man himself had instructions that had to be followed; he had to go wash in the pool of Siloam. We can only imagine what would have happened if he had decided to rinse off somewhere else—even from a vessel of drinking water instead. Could Jesus not have spoken over him or just laid hands on him as He had done with others? The Spirit is so intricately involved in our lives that specific instructions are given for specific individuals. This is how personal the Holy Spirit is with us. He has specifics for us.

“And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.”
Acts 3:2-7

This man, being lame from birth, was not even expecting a miracle. He was simply begging scraps to live. You could say that he had settled into the lifestyle of being a professional beggar. He was by the temple not seeking supernatural help from God but seeking scraps to get through the day. This miracle was not initiated by his faith or asking but by the grace and mercy of God. Like all good things, God is the initiator. Our faith can only take what His grace first offers.

The gift of the working of miracles was stirred so greatly in Peter when he was approached for alms that he was drawn to the beggar and commanded him saying, “Look at us.” Like Elisha had done with the widow in Second Kings, Peter had to take the man’s attention off his current plight in order to offer him something better. What we focus on is important because that is what becomes magnified.

As long as the widow focused on her “nothing” or this man focused on being “lame,” it would have hindered their ability to receive. What they focused on would not have changed God’s willingness or ability to bring transformation, but they would not have been in position to receive what was offered.

Shift your sights to the supernatural. Choose to see what God can do rather than what is in front of you. Faith sees what grace offers!

The “working” part to this manifestation of the working of miracles was the command from Peter for the lame man to “rise and walk” then grabbing and lifting him up. The gift of the working of miracles is always bold in expression!

One night, toward the end of a service, as I was getting close to handing the service back to the pastors, I kept having the word pins come up as I prayed in tongues. I kept checking my spirit to see if I was to do anything along the lines of calling people up for prayer, but nothing came except the word pins. It came so strongly in my spirit that I started saying it out loud. I must have said it forcefully ten times or more.

The congregation quieted down and watched me expectantly, but I had no leading to do anything with the word. So I just kept saying, “Pins. Something about pins.”

Someone in the front section shouted, “Do you mean like acupuncture?”

The pastor’s wife answered back, “No, that’s not what he means.”

I laughed and said, “The only thing I am getting is to say pins. That’s all I’ve got.”

So the worship team started singing, and I handed the service back to the pastors. The next morning, I got a long email from my office that was also copied to the church office. This man said he had felt he needed to be in the service the night before, but he had been held up at work and decided to watch the live stream from home instead. He got back a little later than expected, and after catching the service halfway through, he saw the part where I was saying pins. He didn’t think much of it (neither did most people at the service), but that night when he was in bed, he felt warmth on his ankle. I had been to this church many times, and so they all remembered me saying that I sometimes would sense the anointing on parts of my body as a warmth. Many people in those services had also sensed the same warmth. I would not teach this as doctrine, but I am reporting it as my experience.

This man sensed a heat on his ankle, but after drifting off to sleep,he was awoken by what felt like his leg muscles and sinews moving around. He ignored it and went back to sleep, but when he awoke, he thought about his unusual night. He felt around his calf and ankle and excitedly had his wife, a massage therapist, do the same. In high school, he had broken bones in his leg and had to have orthopedic pins inserted; he also had to have a metal plate put in, but it had been so long ago that he could no longer feel them.

The pins and the plate had dissolved overnight! He contacted us later and told us that his doctor verified the fact.

The working of miracles can dissolve metal pins.

The working of miracles can operate by the simple act of saying, pins.

The working of miracles can operate long distance—there is no distance in the spirit.

One of my favorite times to minister is when we host conferences because a lot of pastors and ministers come from all around to attend them. When people come to a meeting with that type of expectation and determination, you know they are going to get what they came for.

Before the last service of one of these conferences, I was standing down front visiting with some people before they made their way back to their seats. During this time, I saw a lady standing timidly to the side. I motioned for her to come over, and she told me that she was a pastor’s wife. She had come by bus from over six hours away because she had heard about these conferences from a friend. She came to the first service early to get a seat up front.

Now, I walk around a lot when I minister, and that evening during the service, I walked over to the section where this woman was sitting. I had never met her before, and I don’t even remember doing this. But she described later that as I was preaching and passing by where she sat, I laid my hands on her shoulder and continued teaching. Then just as I was going to move on, I looked at her and said, “Bless you! All whole in Jesus’ name.”

Before she had come to the conference, her doctor had advised against it because of the severity of the cancer in her body. There was an open, bleeding sore on her breast. She said that it bled so much that every time she had to change her undergarments, they would be stained with blood. She also had water in her lungs, and the doctor had said that she might not even make the six-hour bus journey.

This was a desperate situation, but at the very first service, as she sat in the front section, I had walked over to her. That very afternoon when she went back to her room to rest before services, the bleeding sore had closed up! By that evening, she was breathing clearly, and after she went back to her doctors she learned that the cancer had disappeared as well.

Thank God for the spiritual gift of the working of miracles!

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