Category Archives: Power of the Holy Spirit

The Acts of the Apostles in Today’s World

“So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face cloths [handkerchiefs] or aprons that had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” (Acts 19:11-12)

Some scripture commentators refer to the Acts of the Apostles as “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit.”  It begins with Jesus’ instructions to the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise.  “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses In Jerusalem…and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:5, 8) 

The same Holy Spirit that empowered the early disciples to build God’s church in the first century is still present to us today.  The following story was related to me by my friend, John who was a county prosecutor in Duluth, Minnesota and later a District Court Judge.

John worked with Eric, a detective sergeant who was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer.  Eric was in his mid-thirties, married, and had two children.  After a couple of months of chemotherapy, Eric lost his hair and was often too weak to come to work. 

John could see that Eric was very ill, so he asked him if he could attend a Christian conference in Minneapolis in order to be prayed with for healing. John explained that the healing power of Jesus had been manifested at these conferences, but Eric was too weak to make the trip. 

At the conference John stood in for Eric, as people gathered around him to pray that Eric’s cancer would be healed.  Someone handed John a handkerchief that was prayed over to take back to Eric.

Upon returning home, John met Eric one day at the courthouse and invited him into his office.  “I told him that we had prayed for his healing at the conference, and someone had given me a handkerchief, which we prayed over for him.  I emphasized that I firmly believed in the healing power of Jesus Christ and that God could use the handkerchief as a sign of our faith to heal Eric just as had been done in biblical times.  We placed the handkerchief on his chest and prayed that the healing power of Jesus would remove the cancer from him.”

Eric thanked John and told him he believed that he would be healed and would return the handkerchief after the doctors had confirmed that he no longer had cancer.  Sometime later Eric did indeed inform John that the doctors had confirmed that he was cancer free.  This took place in the fall of 2001. To this day, the cancer has not returned.

Sometimes our willingness to step out and do something that may seem foolish reflects the kind of faith on which God wishes to act.  God is still performing miracles today through the power of the Holy Spirit just as he did with Peter, Paul and the other disciples of the first century.

Can we experience “acts” like the apostles in our lives today?

What the Centurion’s Faith Means to Us

The gospels are filled with stories of Jesus personally healing people of all kinds of illnesses and casting out demons.  Early in Luke’s gospel after going to Simon Peter’s house and healing Peter’s mother-in-law, Luke reports, “the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.” (Luke 4:40)

Later, after the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus entered Capernaum and a centurion came to him to ask for help in connection with a servant who was paralyzed and suffering. When Jesus said he would go and heal him, the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” He went on to explain that he was a man subject to authority with soldiers subject to him.  He said, “I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and I say to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Luke 7:1-10)

Jesus was astonished at the centurion’s faith and because of it, healed his servant from a distance without personally laying hands on him.  

Jesus was demonstrating that the power of God’s Spirit could heal on his word without the need for him to be physically present for the laying on of his hands.  John’s gospel reports a similar incident where Jesus heals the son of a royal official from a distance. (John 4:44-53)

It is a great consolation to all Christians that God’s Holy Spirit is able to heal without Jesus’ physical presence.  Let me illustrate with a story.

When our daughter Emily was born, she was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a serious heart condition known as an A-V canal – holes in her heart between her auricles and ventricles.  Three different pediatric cardiologists examined her and concluded she needed early surgery to repair these holes in her heart.

On the weekend before her scheduled surgery, some close friends came to our house to pray for healing for Emily.  A few days later, Emily was admitted to Washington’s Children’s Hospital for a pre-op cardiac catheterization with the surgery to follow.  After completing the catheterization, the cardiologist came bounding into the room where my wife was waiting and joyfully exclaimed, “Mrs. Dalgetty, I have GLORIOUS news! There is no hole between her ventricles, and the hole between her auricles can wait to be repaired when she is older and stronger.   

My wife asked how this could be and he said, “It’s a miracle.”

After he left the room, my wife randomly opened her Bible and her eyes fell upon Jeramiah 32:26-27, “See I am the Lord, the God of all mankind; is anything impossible to me?”

Right after Emily’s fourth birthday she had surgery to repair the hole between the auricles and she came through the ICU and release from the hospital much faster than expected.  Today, she is 31 and works every day at a bakery and catering business.  Her joyful spirit has brought many blessings to our family and friends.

“Only say the word and my servant will be healed.”

An Important Announcement

If you had an important announcement, how would you go about it? 

In today’s world we would likely hold a press conference at a noteworthy location such as the nation’s capitol, with various news reporters and TV networks beaming the message across the land, coupled with postings on all of the internet social media.

God took an entirely different approach in announcing that he would become one of us in the person of his son, Jesus.  First, he speaks through the prophets in sometimes obscure ways hundreds of years in advance to people who could not possibly be alive when the event takes place.  Next he takes a more direct, but very private approach, by sending angels to speak personally to Mary, Zechariah and Joseph. 

On the day of the grand event – the birth of his son, Jesus – he sends a group of angels not to the temple in Jerusalem to speak with the leaders of the Jewish faith, but to a group of obscure shepherds in the remote hills outside of the small village of Bethlehem.   The angels announce that today a savior who is the Messiah and Lord has been born in Bethlehem for all people.  While Luke reports that the shepherds made known the message they were given by the angels and “all who heard it were amazed,” the number of people who heard this news from these unlikely heralds had to be minimal.

Any reputable public relations firm in our day would consider all of this a complete communications failure. 

But God was not done.  He still had John the Baptist.  Still, John’s initial effort was not so much involved with announcing the coming of Jesus as it was in preparing people’s hearts for the coming of Jesus.  He was calling people to repent of their sin.  Instead of John going to where the people were, he went out to the desert along the Jordan River and the people came to him.  Mark reports, “People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.” (Mark 1:5)

Think of how powerful the Spirit of God must have been working in John to cause people to make the strenuous journey, walking for a day or more over rugged roads from Jerusalem and other parts of Judea to the Jordan River! Then, after they got there, he asked them to confess their sins and be immersed in the river.  Even the Pharisees and Sadducees made the trip.  What a revival it must have been!

God tells us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” (Is.55:8)  We see a foretaste of the power of Holy Spirit working in John which he says Jesus will pass on to us.  “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt. 3:11)

Come Lord Jesus!  Come Holy Spirit!  

Holy Spirit Power Outage

Have you ever suffered multiple inconveniences due to an extended power outage?

The lack of air conditioning on a hot muggy night; spoiled food from a refrigerator not working; eyes straining to read by candle light; groping for clothes in a dark closet — just a few of the inconveniences we are likely experience.

In the same way an electrical power outage can make life difficult, so too will a Holy Spirit power outage be a challenge to live out our Christian faith in today’s world.

Before his ascension, Jesus instructed the disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they had been “baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem…and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:5, 8)

This is exactly what happened to the disciples.  They began to testify boldly to Jesus’ resurrection and experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  These gifts included wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge and fear of the Lord, as described in Isaiah 11: 2-3, and faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophesy, discerning spirits and praying in different tongues, as described in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10.

Just as Jesus affirmed that they needed the power of the Holy Spirit, so too, do we need this same power if we are to fulfill our calling as Christians, living out our faith day to day.  

While I received the Holy Spirit when baptized as an infant, it wasn’t until I seriously confronted sin in my life as an adult and people prayed with me for the release of the power of the Holy Spirit, that I began to experience God’s presence in deeper way.  Only then did I begin to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the reality of the gifts of the Spirit.  All my priorities and values began to change.  I no longer compartmentalized my life, putting Jesus in a box, but accepted his offer to dwell in me and brought him into every aspect of my life, including my family and work life.  

The Holy Spirit gives us eyes of mercy for the homeless person asking for money at a stop sign, a patient hand for the elderly person on the Alzheimer’s floor of a nursing home,  and the gentle truth and encouragement for the inmate in the county jail.  The Holy Spirit gives us patience to listen to a  business colleague who needs to talk and empowers us to pray with a friend for the healing of a serious illness.

If you are not experiencing the fullness of God’s presence and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, follow Peter’s advice in Acts 2:38, repent of any sin and pray for the release of the power of the Holy Spirit which you received in your baptism.  Jesus said, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)  All we have to do is ask.

Do not suffer a Holy Spirit power outage any longer.