Friday, October 24, 2014

Let Your Light Shine

There was something different about the atmosphere that surrounded the apostle Peter. He once stood in fear in front of a servant girl, denying that he ever knew Jesus (see Matt. 26:69-70). His lifestyle changed quite dramatically after he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. People not only were healed when he prayed for them, they just seemed to get well when they were near him. The stories of these miracles spread until finally someone noticed his daily routine...he walked to the temple to pray. So they brought the lame and diseased and lined them up along the side of the street so that as he walked by they could be healed by his shadow (see Acts 5:15). It was actually the Presence of God upon him, for the anointing is a person. The hope was that his shadow might fall upon them and they would be healed. Shadows have no substance. The shadow was merely the point of contact for their faith. Yet miracles happened with some measure of consistency for the people to develop this pattern.1

Jesus was known for healing people with and without prayer. In fact, there were times when it looked as though He was not involved at all in the miracle that happened through Him. From the Gospel records, it seemed to have started when one very sick woman saw the potential of a moment and thought if she could just touch His garment, she would be well. She sensed something was available through a touch that was completely unseen. It had not been done before. Neither was there a record of this process ever being included in Jesus’ instructions for “how to get your miracle.” He never even implied it was possible. She watched Him work and came to the conclusion that He carried something on His person that could be accessed through touch.

There’s no question that faith was at work in her heart. But rarely, if ever, does a person in her condition become aware of their faith. The focus was not on herself. It was on Him. As a result, faith was her normal expression. After touching Him, she found out that her perception was true, and she was healed (see Luke 8:43-48).

The story of that one miracle spread until people everywhere realized that this was a legitimate way of being healed—just touch any part of His clothing. It eventually became the goal of the gathering as the people were “imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured” (Mark 6:56). Imagine crowds of people, sometimes numbering into the thousands, trying to touch this one man’s clothing. The Scriptures testify that everyone who touched His clothing with that in mind experienced a miracle.

There was a time in the apostle Paul’s ministry when he graduated from miracles to extraordinary miracles. It’s amazing that the miracle realm can become so normal that Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had to create a separate category to describe the new miracles. They operate at a higher level of mystery, anointing, and authority. This moment came about in Ephesus. The Scriptures record it this way: “God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul” (Acts 19:11). It was during this time that the miracles realm exceeded what happened with Jesus where people simply touched His clothing. Now things had developed to such a place that they could take pieces of Paul’s clothing to the sick and lame and they would be healed of disease and/or delivered of demons. A unique aspect of the biblical description is that these miracles that happened a great distance from Paul were attributed to being “by the hands of Paul.”

These stories are extraordinary. They are glimpses into the ways of the Holy Spirit. We have yet to live in what has already been revealed. I believe it also implies there are ways of the Holy Spirit that are yet to be discovered. These unusual methods reveal how He moves. None of them happened because the people were instructed to behave in such a way, nor was there any suggestion made to hint of the possibility of His presence and power being accessed through these unusual methods. People observed something unseen and responded with faith. Faith sees and responds to unseen realities. Each of the individuals involved in receiving a miracle did so by responding to what they perceived that rested upon these three, Peter, Jesus, and Paul.

This also shows us how the unseen realities of the Kingdom can be accessed through simple faith and obedience. Faith doesn't come from the mind; it comes from the heart. Yet a renewed mind enhances our faith through an understanding of the unseen. It finds its fuel in knowing ways of the Holy Spirit—how He moves. Their unique perspectives on reality, from which they drew their miracle, were not the results of years of study and prayer (which obviously have great value in our lives, but serve another purpose). They were responses to the grace made available in the manifested Presence of God through the Holy Spirit that rested upon people.

It’s time for these exceptional stories to no longer be the exception. It’s time for them to become the rule—the new norm. And that is the cry of my heart. The apostles learned from Jesus’ example that the greatest treasure was the Presence of the Holy Spirit resting upon Him.