Imagine being one of the apostles.
You’ve spent 3 years following Jesus around, hanging on His every word, learning things that blew your mind and coming to terms with and getting fired up for a fantastic new way of living. And then He’s arrested, beaten and crucified. This holy man who brought so much joy and wisdom, healing and miracles is killed. Scared, confused and devastated you hide.
Three days later Jesus comes back from the dead!
Now, I have moments of disbelief when small "God-incidences" happen, things that can`t be explained any other way, so imagine trying to get your head around seeing Jesus alive again. Not only seeing Him but spending the next few weeks hanging out with Him again. Everything is as it should be again. He’s back, for good, right?
No. Forty days later He returns to His Father in heaven, but before He goes He tells them you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). In the space of 5 ½ weeks the apostles have witnessed the death, resurrection and ascension of the most important person who would ever walk the earth, and not just that but he’s their friend. That’s a lot to process!
After Jesus Ascension the apostles walked for a day from the Mount of Olives to the city and went upstairs to the room they were staying in. A new apostle was elected (with God’s help!) and we assume they waited. They knew what Jesus had told them about the power of the Spirit coming to them but I don’t suppose they knew when or what that would even mean. They must have felt incredibly vulnerable tasked with spreading the Gospel to the “ends of the earth”. How would this power manifest itself and when was it going to turn up?
Thankfully they didn’t have to wait long. 10 days later, sitting in that same room presumably “a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house” and then “tongues of fire separated and came to rest on each of them” and then they started speaking in tongues “as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4) WOW!
The Holy Spirit gives the apostles the gifts they need to be understood to every person. The Holy Spirit gives them a fearlessness they need to actually use those gifts to say something no one had heard before. The Holy Spirit empowered Peter and the apostles to proclaim the good news to the nations by helping them overcome their anxiety and have the freedom to express themselves.
The Holy Spirit gives us the same gifts and other ones because the Spirit is God with us all the time in every place and time and situation. Imagine again being an apostle. Imagine the souring highs and devastating lows that came with that, and boy were they blessed!
I like the idea that God doesn`t give us anything we can`t handle. That nothing, no feeling however desperate, no situation however hurtful and no problem so seemingly impossible is beyond His power to heal, restore and put right.
So when God calls us, as He does all of us to spread the Gospel to the "ends of the earth" let`s not worry ourselves necessarily with specifics. When it comes to communication and evangelism it’s not about learning a new language (like Spanish or Mandarin!) or travelling to the four corners of the earth to talk about Jesus, lets face it, the ends of the earth are reached a lot easier these days than a plane ticket around the world, it’s about experiencing what the apostles experienced and allowing God to put the words in our mouths and his fearlessness in our hearts.
Are we fearless speaking languages of justice, compassion, and solidarity to one another? If we are not, we should be. Speak out!
Do we speak words of compassion to those who think differently than us, whom we consider the “other”? If we don’t, we should. Love.
Should we be trembling in our own upper rooms, unable to speak the truth of God’s love to the world? No. What joy or freedom is to be found in that? The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts and the capability to share that good news and to share God’s love and peace with all.
My daughter, Bea had been struggling with feelings of anxiety and self-worth and then, in answer to prayer things changed. Here’s her story:-
On Wednesday 31st July 2018, it was the fourth day in of New Wine. I went to the main arena for evening celebrations as usual, and after the talk there was a time for reflection. Paul Harcourt (National Leader of New Wine) asked for any evangelists to go up to the front, so mum and I proceeded to do so. We started to pray in hunger of the Spirit and started to see and hear people being completely redeemed through the Spirit.
Once mum had been prayed for, she went and took her seat (leaving me at the front not knowing what to do!) but a woman from the prayer ministry team came over to me, she placed one hand on my shoulder and the other on my forehead, I started to feel this heat going through my head and I began to feel unbalanced. The woman continued to pray for the Spirit to come and cleanse me and she said that God was speaking to her, expressing that he was presenting me with the gift of prophecy. Also, that he wanted to reveal himself to me in his glory which was a big relief as I was really struggling with understanding God’s presence. So, following on, the woman said that God wanted to reveal his glory to me by putting a weight on me (to show the power of this glory). And his plan proceeded, in quite an angular form, I went from standing up straight to falling to 90 degrees. I kept on trying to pull myself back up, with all the strength I had in me but nothing was happening apart from the Spirit just getting stronger. So I let it happen and soon felt my faith be completely restored. The love of God was surrounding me, all anxiety and worries had vanished, the strength of the Spirit had become a shield.
And with the amount of times I have talked to people about this experience, I do expect the “coincidence” excuse but I decide to encourage more and not go against. For if I went to the front for prayer as an evangelist at New Wine, why should I back down now? God is about to work some amazing things in your life. Trust me. Isaiah 35:4 ~ “Tell everyone who is discouraged, be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue”
One of last year`s speakers at New Wine was a guy called Robbie Dawkins, one of the things he said which has stuck with me was
"God`s gift to us is ability, our gift to Him is availability."
Mandy Mulford and Bea Bartlett