November 23, 2019
There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.
It’s like deja vu. Check this out from Mark 1.
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
See the similarities between these accounts? It brings yet more confirmation to the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise when he said to his disciples,
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12.
Whenever Jesus inerts a “Very” and a “Truly” before he says something else, he really, really means what he’s about to say. It means go back and read it again and once more for good measure.
So thinking about today’s story and this remembrance of Jesus words we must remind ourselves of the following:
1. The Holy Spirit has not changed.
2. Human sickness has not changed.
3. Demon possession and oppression have not changed.
So what has changed?
The way we make disciples has changed. So I’ll ask you. Through the course of your discipleship as a follower of Jesus Christ did you receive equipping in the ministry of healing? Did anyone teach you how to pray for the sick and lay hands on them? Were you ever equipped to deal with evil manifesting through demonic activity?
I’ll go first: no! None of this entered into the purview of my discipleship until I went to seminary. Most of the discipleship I’ve ever witnessed could be boiled down to bible studies and the busyness required to keep the machinery of the church going. No one ever really discipled me in the normal everyday reality and work of the person of the Holy Spirit.
Whenever and wherever the church has grown in apostolic fashion, the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit has been the norm rather than the exception. I dare say the corollary is also true: wherever and whenever the church has stagnated and atrophied, the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit was the exception rather than the norm.
Whole towns don’t show up at the door because of our latest sermon series or our cozy fall festivals with awesome chili and massive inflatables everywhere. They show up because the Kingdom of Heaven is breaking in on earth through bright and visible signs of the eradication of the kingdom of darkness.
As we near the end of the Acts of the Apostles, I’m finally realizing why they didn’t title the book the Acts of the Holy Spirit as I earlier thought they should. It’s because the Holy Spirit does not typically act without apostles or prophets or teachers or evangelists or pastors or preachers or youth volunteers or ushers or singers or dancers or artists or business people or entrepreneurs or carpenters or stay at home mothers or school teachers or football coaches or truck drivers or farmers or Wal-Mart people or ordinary people like you and me.
If you’ve been with me for any period of time you know I tend to be honest but I don’t typically rant. Admittedly, today’s entry may feel a little rant-ish, but we are in Acts 28. It’s almost over and yet it cannot end. We’ve got to get on to Acts 29 and 30 and 4,253,335. The central premise and point of this whole thing has been to say this one thing:
Making disciples of Jesus Christ cannot, will not, must not be attempted without orthodox training in the every day supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit.
It’s why I close every day with this prayer:
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
Did your discipleship journey include training in the everyday supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit?
For the Awakening,
P.S. I am so pleased to let you know about an upcoming resource release from Seedbed called Supernatural. It’s a Bible study with video teaching of the supernatural ministry of Jesus authored by one of our favorites, Rev. Carolyn Moore, pastor of Mosaic Church in Augusta Georgia. Preview it here.