A Karate Kid Devotional: The Reality of Miracle

Britt MooneyBy Britt Mooney12 Minutes

Devotional #8: The Impossible is Now Possible

Another iconic scene happens when Daniel walks into the house and Miyagi is trying to catch a fly with chopsticks. The legend is that if a person can catch the fly, they can do anything. Daniel sits down and takes a crack at it, too.

Daniel catches a fly, making Miyagi mad since he’s obviously never done it. “Beginner luck.”

Here’s the setup – Daniel is new to karate, and he has agreed to fight experts from Cobra Kai in a youth tournament to settle the dispute. That’s impossible, right?

God calls us to the spiritual battle, often with dreams and visions of things too big for us. In the face of God’s calling, we feel small and weak. In reality, we are too small. The call of God is to a life of miracle (Matthew 19:26).

All too often we consider how we can follow God with things we are able to do. There is a lie behind that thought – we have no ability to follow God apart from his grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. Why would God need to save us if we could do it? God calls us to a life that requires his power, direction, and revelation.

Most of the time, when God begins to call us forward, we haven’t even considered what he’s asking. Abraham didn’t have a kid; he probably didn’t think a whole nation of Israel was even a possibility. David was alone, protecting sheep, his father forgot about him, and he wasn’t in the family of Saul; he probably wasn’t thinking he would one day be the king of Israel.

The stories are all throughout scripture. Most of the disciples were inspired but surprised to be included in the story of the redemption of all things. So was the woman at the well.

The Bible tells us that we weren’t saved by good works, but we were saved FOR them (Ephesians 2:10). The Apostle Paul says those good works were prepared in advance for us. We didn’t earn them or think them up. God saved us with a plan of awesome stuff for us to do. Things of eternal worth. Ready to change the world?

We can’t seem to keep our houses clean, get our kids to behave, or a host of other things. We fail all the time, and God wants us to change the world? He wants us to impact eternity?

The answer is YES. But to be clearer, he wants to change the world with his power through us (Galatians 2:20).

That is a life of mystery, adventure, sorrow, awe, wonder, battle, loss, and great gain. Those epic stories we love to watch on a big screen? God’s plan for each of us and all of us together is even more epic. More epic than we can imagine. And it is a path that truly matters.

We only have to begin as Daniel does. We start serving. We start obeying. It’s that simple. He’ll lead us on that path, and we’ll start seeing miracle after miracle.

Father, thank you for leading me on a path of adventure and impact, a journey that matters. Help me when things get hard and I can’t see past the moment, to trust that you are good and will work all things together for good. Amen.

Devotional #9: The Power from Within

Miyagi tells Daniel that his best karate is inside of him, that all great karate flows from the internal.

This sort of Eastern mysticism can have non-Christian roots, especially in a humanistic sense, but for the purposes of these devotionals, it has a kernel of truth that we can explore.

We can’t live that life of miracle in our own power, as we’ve established. We are God’s creation, and he loves us abundantly. However, our ability is greatly limited, even corrupted as we see from the fall of Adam through the failure of the Law to enact any true change. The Old Covenant Law was given by God and revealed his heart and what was good (Romans 7:12). But it was left up to us to keep it (Romans 8:3-4). A sinless law was left up to sinful people to follow. This is why the letter of the law leads us to death (2 Corinthians 3:6)), like our own knowledge of good and evil (the tree in the Garden) has the consequence of death.

No, we needed something else, something deeper and more transformative. The Old Testament promised a new covenant, one that wasn’t like the old one (Jeremiah 3:31-34). The old one was left to us. What about the new? God would give us a new heart and spirit, enabling us to follow his commands (Ezekiel 36:24-28).

The New Testament continually calls us to rest upon the Holy Spirit in all things. He is the taste of the Heaven to come (2 Corinthians 1:22), the confirmation that we belong to him (Romans 8:16), the reminder of all that Jesus said (John 14:26), and will lead us into the truth that transforms (John 16:13). There is no condemnation for those that “walk by the Spirit” and not according to the flesh (Romans 8:1). The Apostle Paul reproaches the Galatian church that they were beginning to try continuing in Christ by their own power and not the Spirit. “Oh foolish Galatians. Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1) It’s a deception and lie to live according to our own ability.

Jesus told his followers that the Kingdom was within them. Both individually and corporately, we are the outpost of Heaven on Earth.

The first lesson for Daniel wasn’t karate, or even service, but to pay attention to what was inside of him. Miyagi taught him how to visualize the perfect bonsai tree and work towards that when he trimmed it.

Everything flows from what’s inside us. We must learn the discipline of the inner life at the core of all we do. God seeks to teach us how to live not to get love or peace or contentment but FROM his love and peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit within us.

Father, thank you for changing my heart through the death and resurrection of Christ. Thank you for placing your power within me to live the life you’ve called me to. Help me to listen and rely upon your Spirit for all things. Amen.

Devotional #10: Training for Ownership

After teaching Daniel how to trim the bonsai tree, Miyagi gives it to him. Miyagi begins to teach Daniel karate and lets him keep the headband. After weeks of training, Daniel’s birthday comes up, and Miyagi gives him a karate gi (the uniform).

Then he gives Daniel a car. He lets Daniel pick the car he wants from the vehicles he washed and waxed. Daniel’s service and participation led to ownership. Miyagi passes these things on to Daniel. Like a father.

God is about ownership. We don’t deserve it, not at all, but that is God’s heart. It goes all the way back to the Garden. Adam got to name things, not alone but in relationship with God (Genesis 2:20).

The promise to Abraham wasn’t only for a nation of descendants but a land they would own and inhabit, literally called the Promised Land (Genesis 12:7). Once there, after years of walking and battle, the land was divided up between the different tribes and families. (Joshua 13-25) Everyone got land.

Ownership was so important that every 49 years God instituted a year of Jubilee. In that year, everyone’s family land was restored to them. It didn’t matter why or how you lost your land, it would be restored to you. (Leviticus 25)

Jesus taught that those who were trained in the Kingdom of God were like the owners of a house, bringing from their own rooms treasures both old and new (Matthew 13:52). Owners.

Don’t we do this with our kids? We let them own little things and then more and more, teaching and growing our children to be responsible adults. God is a good father and gives out of his wealth to those that serve and obey and sacrifice for the Gospel – 30, 60, even 100 times back to us in this life and in the life to come (Matthew 13:8).

We are his children and heirs of the Kingdom (Romans 8:17). His discipline may not be enjoyable for the moment, but he loves and leads us to the eternal treasures he wants to share with his kids.

Father, thank you for giving us ownership in the things that matter. Help me to apply myself and learn how to serve, obey, and sacrifice as you lead me by your Spirit. Amen.