There’s no question we have been in a difficult season and are learning how to do life in new ways. The coronavirus pandemic has challenged us to daily rest, stay calm, trust God and abide in His peace. In Isaiah 32:18 the Lord promises us, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”
For a fresh perspective, I would like to share a video from Voice of the Apostles 2019 with Robby Dawkins. I believe his delineation of the early Church described in Acts 19 is a timely exhortation and instruction. In it he reminds us that we as the Body of Christ do not have to allow strife or struggle to slow us down or to prevent us from sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with a hurting world.
In fact, Paul wanted to go to places where no one had ever presented the Gospel. He asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” The people said “no”; they had not even heard that there is the Holy Spirit.
How many people and churches need to know and understand Who the Holy Spirit is?
When people heard Jesus would be coming and Paul placed his hands on them—“the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:4-6). Listen: Though it might look differently in a time of government-issued “social distancing”—be encouraged! The Holy Spirit is not on lockdown, and we get to introduce Him and His powerful spiritual gifts to people like Paul did.
So, right now, from wherever we are…
Why not also pray people receive the Holy Spirit, speak in tongues and prophesy when they pray to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior?
Now let’s read verses 8 and 9a in Acts 19 together, so I can show you something else:
“Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way (the early church).”
What I want you to see is that…
You are going to have opposition from your own brothers and sisters in Christ. You are going to have people who will question what you believe you have heard from the Lord. Be careful not to always go with what other people tell you. If you hear from the Lord, follow that. God will bless it!
God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled (Acts 19:10-11).
How many of us want to perform unusual miracles?
God gave Paul the ability to perform unusual miracles. Just like Jesus and Paul, let’s make it our goal to have our names added to the ones who the demons recognize (Acts 19:15). When we as the children of God step out in Jesus’ Name, we are shifting atmospheres.
How many of us have prayed for people and felt like it was a full-blown “failure”?
It’s important that we realize…
All miracles are performed out of a relationship with Jesus. If we look back at verses 13 through 16 of Acts 19, we read that some Jews who tried to imitate Paul were beaten by an evil spirit to the point of bleeding, and in the end they ran off naked. They did not see the success of what they had prayed for. But, let us remember:
What might seem like a “full-blown failure” to us because we do not see the results we were expecting in the moment—will never be seen by God as defeat when we are first and foremost in a relationship with Jesus.
Note: From Acts 19 verses 1 through 16, Paul was doing power evangelism on the streets and in the lecture areas with small groups of people. This was not yet a full-blown revival. But take a look at Acts 19:17:
“The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored!”
REVIVAL BIRTHED OUT OF OPPOSITION
When we read the rest of Acts 19, we see riots took place because the fame of Jesus was spreading. This is the making of a great spark for a mighty revival to happen! “See, [He is] doing a new thing! Now it springs up…” Do we see it? (Isaiah 43:19)
Often when we experience opposition in the natural, it’s an indicator that something powerful is taking place in the supernatural. When the Kingdom of God is activated, confusion takes place in the camp of our enemy.
Is anyone meeting with opposition? Check out this other portion of Robby’s message:
If I were to pull out just one directive from this week’s video session with Robby, it would be:
“Don’t run from opposition. Don’t command the fires of opposition to go out. The fire of opposition is the kiln of God. If Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had prayed for the fire to go away, the king would not have had a revelation of Christ. In the fire, Christ is revealed! In the fire, look for Jesus!”
THE ALMOST GREAT REVIVAL OF EPHESUS
As we close, let’s take a look at a few more verses:
“Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples (the believers) would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater” (Acts 19:30-31, emphasis ours).
Notice: Paul wanted to go but the believers would not let him. What a tragedy! Paul was willing to do it, but the believers held him back.
“The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all…” dispersed (Acts 19:32-34 and 41).
I have to ask…
Why would believers – the disciples of Christ – hold back anyone who is operating in unusual miracles?
Our cities and communities are at the point of “almost revival”, and they are waiting for people who are willing to step up. Why would we let anything stop us from sharing the Gospel? Why would we let anything stop us from praying for and encouraging others? Because of caution and fear? Because of worrying what people will think and what could happen?
It’s time for us to change our perspective. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to shift us to a whole new place.
YOU HAVE ENCOUNTERED TO BE AN ENCOUNTER
You are not waiting on revival; revival is waiting on you! The nations of the world need Who Jesus is in you. It does not matter how old you are. It does not matter what fear says. Fear is a liar. (See John 8:44, 1 Peter 5:8 and Revelation 12:9.) Our cities and communities are looking for people who will go all in.
Action Point: We are carriers of the kingdom. We are carriers of nations being changed. We are carriers of regions being transformed. Get even more inspired by watching this incredible testimony, again pulled from Robby’s session:
Join me in making this declaration by faith and let’s commit to this belief over all our lives: “Never again will fear be lord. Never again will we yield to the fear of man or the fear of spending our lives for the sake of the Gospel. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.” (See Matthew 16:26, 10:39; Luke 9:24.) Amen!
As the COVID-19 outbreak is being curtailed, may we continue to courageously choose and accept the challenge to rest, stay calm, trust God and abide in His peace. Let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus, Paul and the early Church by being willing to adopt a sacrificial attitude and bring the clarity and comfort of the Holy Spirit to those we come in contact with.
God bless you!