EXTRAORDINARY MIRACLES

Acts 19:11,12 – God kept releasing a flow of extraordinary miracles through the hands of Paul. Because of this, people took Paul’s handkerchiefs and articles of clothing, even pieces of cloth that had touched his skin, laying them on the bodies of the sick, and diseases and demons left them and they were healed.

“Miracles of no ordinary kind, i. e. extraordinary miracles.” This is what Adam Clarke said about the astounding outpouring in Ephesus. Luke had seen all sorts of miracles in his travels with the Apostle Paul but what they were seeing in Ephesus was unprecedented. Nothing like this had ever been seen by Luke before. Obviously the Lord had big plans for the church in Ephesus. I find it quite interesting the way these miracles were described. Luke said that pieces of cloth that had been part of clothing worn by Paul were sent out to the sick and the afflicted. Apparently the anointing that was flowing from Paul was collecting in his clothes. How else could you explain what was happening here? This is reminiscent of the garment that Jesus wore. Often times people would touch the fringe of the Lord’s clothing and healing would flow into their bodies.

Next, Luke describes the effect these clothes had on demons. Apparently, these clothes would be attached to individuals being tormented by evil spirits. The result would be that the spirits would leave and the people would be made whole.

What Luke was describing was a regional outpouring of the Holy Spirit characterized by signs, wonders, and miracles. It started with twelve men in a Bible study and progressed to daily meetings in a rented facility. After two years of these daily meetings there appears to have been an explosion of miracles that effected all of Turkey.

Is it possible for these types of things to happen in our modern world? Maybe we need more of a focus on saturation in the Holy Spirit if we are to see outbreaks of the power of God. Think about what happened here; daily meetings with Paul for two years. Maybe that is why unprecedented things began to happen. In our modern world of social media and smartphones it wouldn’t take much for our world to be turned upside down. Unprecedented miracles would surely get the attention of the world. Maybe its time for another outbreak of signs, wonders, and miracles.

TONGUES AND PROPHESY

Acts 19:5-7 – When they understood this, they were baptized into the authority of Jesus, the Anointed One. And when Paul laid his hands on each of the twelve, the Holy Spirit manifested and they immediately spoke in tongues and prophesied.

This passage gives us great insight to the secret power of the early church. Rather than a formal creed, Paul introduced this group of young Christians to the power of the gospel. Paul taught that our faith couldn’t rest on words only, it must be initiated and sustained by the power of God. 1 Cor.2:4,5 – “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” The Passion Notes described what happened when Paul laid his hands on these young believers.

“The Aramaic is “They spoke tongue by tongue and gushed out prophecies.” The impartation of the Holy Spirit and his gifts are here being transferred from Paul to these believers.”

So from Paul’s perspective it was essential for Christians to be filled with power. Because of this Paul emphasized the Baptism in the Holy Spirit characterized by speaking in tongues and prophesying. Here is a description from the Expositor’s Commentary.

“Despite their being known as disciples, Paul preached Jesus to the men as he would to any Jew. “John’s baptism,” he said, “was a baptism of repentance” that pointed beyond itself and the Baptist to “the one coming after him”–that is, to Jesus. So on their acceptance of Jesus as the focus of Christian faith, they were baptized “into the name of the Lord Jesus.” Then Paul laid his hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit and evidenced the same signs of the Spirit’s presence as the first believers did at Pentecost–namely, tongues and prophecy. Doubtless in Paul’s mind they were not rebaptized but baptized into Christ once and for all.”

Water baptism is really a picture or glimpse into a powerful spiritual reality. Water used in baptism pictures the Holy Spirit and immersion describes total immersion into God Himself. The world today is in great need of the power of God. Great programs and ministries or great singing and preaching can never change the nature of a fallen being. Only an encounter with the power of God can do that.

“Let Him touch your coffin”

MERRY THURSDAY BY PARRIS-

“Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak” Luke 7:11

I find it interesting that Jesus touched the coffin instead of the boy. He touched the box or the container that held him. Death bound the boy and his life was taken from him. There was no exchange between the mother and Christ, there was no request made or favor sought. It is a wonder the mother even saw Christ coming up behind her. He comes to touch our coffin of dead things. We all hold containers of loss, dreams shattered, lives wasted away. We put a lid on our horror stories of our sad serenades of long ago days. You have to allow Him to touch that coffin because he comes to make all things new again. He does that ; you know-changes what we think it will be. We box it all in, stuff it way down but He who knows the stars by name comes to tell a different story over you. There are songs yet to be sung, war stories yet to be told and children that will dance again. Christ comes with his basketful of gifts every ready to arrest and halt the places where hope dies. God’s love flows out of its own expansive and endless nature for there is no shadow of turning with our father of lights. His great love is at work among us and that is to stop the march of death that tries to silence our song! Christ steps up to our coffin every time with his word STOP! Stop reliving the lies of the past, the failures of yesterday, stop not forgiving yourself, stop the anger that wants to bury you once again. Allow Christ to touch your coffin, allow Christ to collide with the negativity that has engulfed you. Allow Christ to come into the small compartments, the cramped damp and dark places where shame multiplies. The boy spoke and the mother no longer wept over yesterday for her world would never look the same! The Greek word “splanchnizomai” is the word the Bible uses to describe the compassion Jesus had for this scene. There is no greater word in the Greek language to describe the depth of emotion Jesus felt for this widow over her loss. Go ahead and let him come touch your coffin!

THE ROCK WAS CHRIST

1 Cor.10:4 – and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

Every season of God is special and unique. The things we often take for granted are amazing daily blessings that come from the Lord. In the case of the Israelites they had daily miracles right in front of them. From the day that they passed through the Red Sea there was a cloud literally guiding them along the way. This cloud covered them from the heat, directed their paths, and had a fire in it for warmth at night. They also had forty years of daily provision of food. Manna from heaven formed on the ground and sustained them for an entire generation. In today’s verse Paul spoke of the Rock that followed them and provided water for them every day. Whether the Rock literally followed them is debatable. The fact remains, over a million people were supplied with water for forty years in a desert. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this miracle.

“How could the rock follow them? It does not appear that the rock ever moved from the place where Moses struck it. But to solve this difficulty, it is said that rock here is put, by metonymy, for the water of the rock; and that this water did follow them through the wilderness. This is more likely; but we have not direct proof of it. The ancient Jews, however, were of this opinion, and state that the streams followed them in all their journeyings, up the mountains, down the valleys, and that when they came to encamp, the waters formed themselves into cisterns and pools; and that the rulers of the people guided them, by their staves, in rivulets to the different tribes and families.”

How about us today? I have daily bread that comes down from heaven. Every time I open my Bible I feast on the Living Bread. The Cloud of Glory also falls on me everyday. Do I see a cloud like the Israelites did? Maybe, sometimes. Regardless I have the anointing of His presence falling on me everyday. The water from the Rock is also with us everyday. If anyone is thirsty He is right there to give us drink. So everyday our world is full of miracles. Maybe everyone isn’t aware of them but they are here nonetheless.

CHURCH LIFE

Acts 2:42-46 – Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer. A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the believers were in fellowship as one body, and they shared with one another whatever they had. Out of generosity they even sold their assets to distribute the proceeds to those who were in need among them. Daily they met together in the temple courts and in one another’s homes to celebrate communion. They shared meals together with joyful hearts and tender humility.

There was something special going on in the early days of the new church born in Jerusalem after the Day of Pentecost. The people had changed, the atmosphere of the city had changed, a sense of new life and new beginnings was in the air. It seemed as if it was a shared or a communal life that was permeating this new community of believers. Everything from prayer, worship, and teaching had taken on a new life. It seems that the large gatherings were just a part of this new life, the private homes were ablaze with new life as well. Here is a quote from the Passion Notes about these home gatherings.

“This was more than sharing meals, but participating together in observing the Lord’s Table. The Aramaic, which can be translated “the Eucharist” or “holy communion,” makes it even more explicit.”

These were more than church pot lucks, apparently they were celebrating communion just like Jesus had taught them just a few days earlier. The homes were filled with life as they celebrated the death and resurrection of the Son of God. Here is another quote about this fledgling church trying to find its way.

“As translated from the Aramaic. The Aramaic word for “church” is the joining of “meet” and “come.” This word is an invitation to enter into fellowship with Christ and his people. The Greek word for “church” is ekklesia, which is “called-out ones.”

These called out ones were the beginning of a new movement that is still alive and well today. The center of it is seen in today’s passage; the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, prayer, and the communion meal. It was simple yet permeated with the power of God.

SEED FAITH LIVING

Phil.4:19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

I had to relearn lots of things when I first began to pastor this church. I had spent four years in a Jesus Community working for various businesses run by the ministry. I had learned a hard work ethic and the importance of discipline but I had not learned to look to God as my source. In the community the bills were paid and food was supplied. All we had to do was study and put in a hard days work. That was all about to change when Parris and I came to New Orleans. Now we had to look to God ourselves, no one was providing for us. At least no one but God. Here is how Oral Roberts describes this phenomenon of looking to the Lord as your source of total supply.

“Turn your life over to God and start looking directly and personally to Him as THE Source of your supply. Although there are scores of scriptures from Genesis to Revelation concerning God as your Source, the key scripture is Philippians 4:19: “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Living in a man-run society and business community, it is easy to get the idea that man is your source of supply. This is where you miss the truth of God’s Holy Word. God often uses man as the means, but God Himself is the Source. All other sources are instruments only. Remember, in looking for your needs to be met, it’s not what is your source, but Who is your source. You may think it’s man you are dealing with, but he is only an instrument. You are dealing directly with God as the loving Being who is the Source of your supply. By looking to Him, you are confident, you are positive, and you are expectant that He will provide.”

It is important to look beyond parents, employers, or government programs for your provision. The Lord uses those things for temporary provision. After all He is the God of ravens and widows.

The second truth that came to us was just as important. Sow a seed in the work of God. God is the source of the harvest, He always uses seed as the tool to initiate the harvest. “Give and it shall be given to you, good measure, shaken together, and running over.” – Lk.6:38

IDEAS LIKE SEEDS FROM HEAVEN

Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Sometimes, let’s rephrase that, most all of the time, humans get confused with the whole idea of giving to God. Some get stuck in a religious bondage of rules like i am indebted to God. Others see giving as some sort of get rich quick scheme. Both ideas miss the mark and can cause us to miss the harvest of blessing that the Lord wants to release into our lives. What if God’s harvest on our giving were to come back to us in creative ideas. We sew into God’s work and then He floods our hearts with His kingdom plans. Here is how Oral Roberts describes it.

“God was talking about multiplying our tithes—as seed sown—back to us. He was talking about ideas, concepts , and insights. Everything begins with an idea. God had an idea to create the world. He had an idea to create man. He had an idea to send Jesus. Everybody does what they do with an idea. God begins by pouring an idea out of Heaven. Then it becomes a concept. Once the concept becomes a way of life, God gives you insight or wisdom in how to apply the idea. As a consistent tither who expects miracle harvests from my seed sown, ICI (ideas, concepts, & insights) has been at the center of my life and ministry.”

That’s how all ministries are birthed, a simple idea from the Lord. Feed the Multitudes is a great example of what Oral Roberts called seed faith living. The Lord gave us an idea to give to the poor with a free food festival in 1990 when our church faced financial crisis. FTM became the seed the Lord used to touch the hurting as well as bring financial return into our ministry. We still put on FTM every year to remind us that it is in giving that we step into God’s plan of miracle harvest. Maybe you are struggling financially today. Sew a financial gift into the work of God. Don’t be surprised if the harvest comes in the form of a creative idea that will launch you into a new season of harvest.

PRAYERS THAT ARE ANSWERED

James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

There are two things that jump out at me in this verse. First, the Lord hears and responds to the prayer of the righteous. So that has to be answered first, am I a righteous person that the Lord responds to? This goes to the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How is a person considered righteous by God? This is the very foundation of the message of the Apostle Paul. A man is considered righteous not by his own efforts but simply by his faith in Christ. Righteousness is a gift that I receive the moment I put my trust in the Lord. That brings us to the second part, prayer is supernatural and has great power when it is released in us. Again, I have to walk by faith and actually allow the Lord to pray His effective, fervent prayers in and through me. We enter this life by faith and then we begin to walk it out by faith. Here are some thoughts from Adam Clarke on this verse.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. The words δεησις ενεργουμενη signify energetic supplication, or such a prayer as is suggested to the soul and wrought in it by a Divine energy. When God designs to do some particular work in his Church he pours out on his followers the spirit of grace and supplication; and this he does sometimes when he is about to do some especial work for an individual. When such a power of prayer is granted, faith should be immediately called into exercise, that the blessing may be given: the spirit of prayer is the proof that the power of God is present to heal.”

I love that explanation, “the spirit of prayer is the proof that the power of God is present to heal”. Getting my eyes off of my own worthiness and on His worthiness is the key to righteousness. Getting my eyes on His sufficiency and off of my insufficiency is the key to answered prayer. The Lord is not looking for perfect vessels, He is looking for yielded vessels. Like it says in the Passion Translation, ‘for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer’.

PRAYING WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRAY

Ro.8:26 – And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.

Prayer is a mysterious proposition. If God is sovereign and all knowing why should I pray? Actually it is an invitation. He doesn’t really need us but chooses to work through us. Even our prayers are dependent on Him and could actually be called God breathed. This verse says I don’t how to pray or what to ask for. So what do I do ? I pray by and in the Spirit. He prays for me and through me exactly according to God’s purposes and plans. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this supernatural prayer.

“The Greek word hupererentugkhano is best translated “super [or hyper]-intercede for us.” We can only imagine how many blessings have poured into our lives because of the hyper-intercession of the Holy Spirit for us!”

The Holy Spirit takes over using our voices to call in the plans of God. I may not know how to pray but He surely does. Here is the crazy part, He bypasses our brains and prays in inexpressible groanings the intercessions of the Spirit. Here is a quote from the Expositor’s Commentary about this passage.

“Verse 27 is needed to clarify something referred to in v.26, i.e., the inexpressible groanings. How can such prayer, if it be called prayer at all, be answered? Are not such prayers unintelligible? Not for God! He is no stranger to the intent of the Spirit. He knows what the inexpressible meaning is, because the petitions that the Spirit voices are strictly in accord with the will of God.”

Just think about what this is saying, the Lord humbles Himself to become intimately involved in my little world actually praying prayers I would never pray to fulfill the will of God in my life. To me this is way too good to be true. This unlimited, all knowing, all powerful God is working in my life orchestrating my prayers in order to cause all things to work together for my good. So what will I do? Pray in the Spirit and let God take over my world.

BEFORE THEY FINISHED PRAYING HE ANSWERED

Acts 4:30,31 – Stretch out your hand of power through us to heal, and to move in signs and wonders by the name of your holy Son, Jesus!”

At that moment the earth shook beneath them, causing the building they were in to tremble. Each one of them was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they proclaimed the word of God with unrestrained boldness.

What a picture of God’s readiness to answer prayer. The words were still in their mouths when the building they had gathered in was shaking under the power of God. God hears and answers our prayer, that is an amazing benefit of being a son of God.

Isaiah spoke about God’s readiness to answer prayer in Isa.65:24 – “Before they even call out to me, I will answer them;

before they’ve finished telling me what they need,

I’ll have already heard.”

The amazing thing about this is that it is true for us today. The Lord hears our prayers and answers sometimes before we can even get the words out of our mouths. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this characteristic of prayer.

“God will anticipate their prayers with the blessings of his goodness. David did but say, I will confess, and God forgave. The father of the prodigal met him in his return. While they are yet speaking, before they have finished their prayer, I will give them the thing they pray for, or the assurances and earnests of it. These are high expressions of God’s readiness to hear prayer; and this appears much more in the grace of the gospel than it did under the law; we owe the comfort of it to the mediation of Christ as our advocate with the Father and are obliged in gratitude to give a ready ear to God’s calls.”

Too many time we try to handle all of our stuff by ourselves. Too often prayer is just a last resort. If it is true that God is good and that we are His sons and daughters then He really can’t help Himself. He is always listening and ready to work on our behalf. The real secret is being intimately connected to what matters to Him. In this story the disciples were praying for boldness to preach Christ. Before they got the words out of their mouths they were filled with power to preach Christ with the added bonus of signs and wonders.