Scripture: "And you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the very ends of the earth." Acts 1:8
Good morning! Let's once again invite the Holy Spirit into this moment. Come Holy Spirit and break open the Word of God for us that we may be changed, encouraged, inspired and transformed into living words of Jesus, our Lord.
Today, I want to start with one basic question. How did Jesus see His mission? Right after Jesus was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit He went to Nazareth. His first open proclamation of His personal calling, His mission on the earth, happened in the reading of Isaiah 61 in the temple. (Luke 3:21-22, Luke 4:1-2, 14) "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind...to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of God's favor."
Jesus was anointed and given the Holy Spirit to DO His mission. Obviously, Jesus was always God, but everything He did was for us to see, believe and follow. In Acts 1:8 He tells us that we too are called, chosen and anointed to be "little Christs," but without the power of the Holy Spirit we will not have the power to do what we are called to do. And Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit. (John 14: 16-18, 26) Now hold this thought!
So how did Jesus view His mission? Matthew 4:23-25 says, "And He went about all of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and preaching the good news (Gospel) of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every weakness and infirmity among the people." Jesus didn't just teach and preach about a good Father who loves His children. And He didn't talk about heaven as a far-away reality we hope to get to "one day." He told them that the Kingdom was at hand, accessible, close enough to touch right now. (Mark 1:15) He performed miracle after miracle, healed, delivered and freed people from every form of physical, emotional and spiritual bondage. Did everyone on the earth get healed by Jesus when He lived on earth? No. But 100% who came to Him and asked were healed. 100%! NEVER did He say, "That broken arm will teach you greater compassion." Or, "That demon inhabiting you will give you greater wisdom for your future." ABSOLUTELY NOT! When we read the Gospels, it is easy to see that Jesus not only COULD, but He WANTED to heal!
"They brought Him ALL the sick, those afflicted with varying diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics and paralytics and He healed them." (Matthew 4:24)
"The sent round to all that region and brought to Him ALL that were sick and begged Him that they might only touch the fringe of His garment; and as many as touched it were made well." (Mark 8:56)
"ALL those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him. He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them." (Luke 4:40)
"All the crowd sought to touch Him, for power came forth from Him and healed them ALL." (Luke 6:19)
Somewhere along the line, over the centuries, the preachers and theologians increasingly spiritualized these extraordinary statements. For example, "To give the blind new sight," became about spiritual eyes seeing with a new openness. Matthew 8:17 says, "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." His death on the cross was not about giving us better coping mechanisms and nice theoretical concepts. "The Kingdom of God does not consist of talk, but of POWER." (1 Corinthians 4:20)
People flocked to Jesus not just because of His charismatic personality, but because of the incredible miracles they were seeing. The miracles proved that His words were true. We are a society drowning in words. I've worked with young people for years and years. This generation is sick to death of empty promises. They want to SEE. As do I. Most of you know that when I was 16 years old I had a life altering encounter with the living God. Since that moment I have been passionately pursuing the presence of Christ. I've read and re-read Acts of the Apostles always asking, "Why doesn't my life look like this? Has Jesus' job description changed? If this is what the early Church looked like, if this is what they received at Pentecost...I WANT IT." And I'll be pursuing that until I die! We MUST look at these Scriptures and choose to take them as a NOW Word of God. As theologian, N.T. Wright says, "Jesus DID things and then commented on them, explained them, challenged people to figure out what they meant. Jesus soon became better known for His healings than baptizing. And it was his remarkable healings, almost certainly, that won Him a hearing. He was not a teacher who healed. He was a prophet of the Kingdom, first enacting and then explaining the Kingdom. He's promised to send the Spirit of power to his followers. We have this Presence, this Love of the Father and this Power at our disposal.
"Unless we share in Jesus' ministry of healing our preaching of the Kingdom of God being here among us is simply an empty promise. Jesus' teaching was demonstrated by His actions. He had the authority to back it up. This is the basic teaching of the Gospel, which we have largely lost: The Kingdom of God is here. The Kingdom Satan is being destroyed. If we are going to preach as Jesus preached, we also have to receive the gift of healing the sick and casting out evil spirits. That is NOT to say that everyone we pray for will be physically healed, but healing should happen enough so that we can see the Kingdom of God breaking in among us even now." Francis MacNutt, The Healing Reawakening.
Friends, to pursue Ballistic Breakthrough is impossible without power. In our own strength, we have none. If you doubt that, a little pandemic might help your thoughts realign! Why are Catholics leaving the Church in droves? Four times as many are leaving than entering. Why are people walking away in droves? Why have 2/3 of young people lost their faith (or at least any religious affiliation) by age 23? Because they see no evidence that the WORDS are true. Several days ago, I said that we had to return to being a "show and tell" church. We ARE the church. And unless Jesus is a liar, He has made it clear that He would give us the Holy Spirit so that we would carry His power to continue Christ's mission on earth.
"During Jesus' earthly life the commission was only for these chosen delegates. But after His resurrection, the risen Lord extended the authority to heal and cast out demons to ALL believers. Among the signs that would accompany 'those who believe (Christians), He said, 'In My name they will cast out demons. They will lay their hands on the sick and they will recover.' (Mark 16:17-18) He also affirmed that 'they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them.' That is, they will experience divine protection from evil. Now all believers, filled with the Spirit of the risen Lord, are gifted with supernatural power for their mission to preach the good news to the poor. (Luke 4:18) The early Christians took Jesus' Words at face value. And the Lord vindicated their faith by doing abundant miracles through them." Dr. Mary Healy, Healing.
People of God, through these last 6 days we've learned that we are beloved children of the King and co-heirs with Christ. We've talked about going to battle with the areas of unbelief in us that have a stronghold. We've talked about perceiving ourselves as kings with an anointing that we must choose to step into. We've talked about outrageous belief that the Promiser keeps His promises. We've talked about DOING something with this anointing that will only happen with faith that does not quit, and today we land on the Promise of the Father, the great gift of the Holy Spirit, who will empower us to live in our anointings with power and authority and great, great love, the very love of Jesus for His people. Probably never since the first church have we been in such a Godless, pagan society. If signs and wonders were the means of giving the Gospel a hearing in the early church, are they any less essential today?
Be it known, friends, that I am praying for a world rocking encounter for each of us in this season. We need to SEE the Kingdom breaking through in our here and now. And wonder of wonders, we are this generation's apostles and disciples who are commissioned to bring the actual experience of heaven to earth. There's no illness, body, mind or soul, in heaven. Will everyone we pray for be healed? Nope. We are not Jesus. But we should be seeing SO MUCH MORE that we are seeing. What would happen if we, the church, acted like we believed Jesus? What would happen if we said, "If God could do this with a goofy Peter and an arrogant Paul, why NOT me???" The choice is yours. Remember the ones Jesus chose as apostles and the ones He asked to unbind Lazarus. They were just the ones who were standing around and said YES. Where are you with this today? I challenge you to "Repent (change the way you think) and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL." (Mark 1:15) THIS is the great adventure, friends. YES YOU. Now just begin. Practice. Pray for people. Give hope, encourage, pray for healing, and don't stop. Jesus' disciples had been trained and sent out two by two. At some point, they tried to cast out a demon in a little boy and did not succeed. When they asked Jesus why, He told them they couldn't cast it out because of the littleness of their faith. But, in the next sentence, He said that if they only had a little faith, (the size of a mustard seed), they could command a mountain to move and it would. This was a bit confusing for me, so I did a word study on 'littleness."
It DOES mean littleness, but it also means brevity, which sheds new light on this passage. What Jesus was saying to them was, you only need a little faith, but you have to keep it in the game. Don't give up. Don't quit. If the first time you pray you don't see healing, ask the Lord for a strategy, but keep praying! And what if it takes a very long time for breakthrough. Your directive doesn't change. Keep praying. But what WILL change is your heart, mind and soul around this issue of anointing and power. Jesus is dying for us to step into our anointing. As a matter of fact, He DID die. "All authority on earth and in heaven has been given to Me. Now, go in My authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you." (Matt 10:7) "As the Father sent Me so I am sending you."
Yes YOU. In times of greater darkness, He is pouring out greater manifestations of Himself in all His fullness. I don't want to miss any of it. We give ALL glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let's pray with outrageous expectation for an encounter with the One who loves us beyond reason.
Declaration: We thank You, Jesus, that every day You are making us more and more into Your image. We thank You that every day we are becoming mighty in the Kingdom; that we are seeing with different eyes, and that the Father delights to give us the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32) Every day we are growing in wisdom, knowledge, power and love because our Savior is excited to partner with us to bring heaven to earth. And daily we say YES with our lives, Jesus. Amen and Amen.
All glory to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. May every grace and blessing be multiplied to you.