The book of Acts introduces us to the fire of the Holy Spirit. This fire is unlike any other type of fire; it’s not a new-age fire, and it’s not a fire of judgement. In this teaching, Katia brings new understanding about what this fire really is about.
Katia: This morning, I’m going to preach a message entitled “A Different Kind of Fire.” When you entitle a message that, you better be ready for a different kind of fire. And so I hope that you haven’t come to church this morning thinking that it’s going to be neat and tidy. Those aren’t words that generally describe my preaching.
And so I just really want to encourage you this morning, if you’ve been here for 20 years, if this is your first Sunday, let’s just start on this platform that God is real and He loves to speak to people. He loves to meet with people. He loves to show people His face. He loves to show people His goodness. And what that means is that when He is present in the room in an electrifying way… He’s always present in the room because God is always everywhere at all times.
But there are moments where He makes His presence known to us, and when that happens, it’s impossible to stay neat and tidy. It’s like putting your fingers in an electric socket and wondering why you’re shaking. You encounter power and something happens. And isn’t it beautiful that the power that we encounter is not just an unnamed God, an unknowable force, but a person, a God who is so real and wants to meet with us as people so that we would know Him, really know Him?
And so I’m expectant. I can’t preach you into the power of God. I can’t do that. I can show you truth, but actually, He’s the one who makes Himself manifest and everything changes. And so I’m trusting that He’ll show off this morning and I’m going to ask you to trust that with me because we haven’t come just to tick a box.
We haven’t come just as our religious duty. You may have come for that, but I hope you leave with a different understanding of what church is about because coming to church isn’t just about fulfilling the religious requirement for the week. It’s about meeting with a very, very real God and having our hearts transformed.
So we’re going to look at Acts 8 this morning and Marilyn did an awesome, awesome job last week on preaching on Acts 5. I’m really grateful that I didn’t have to do that preach. And so if you’re a part of this family, you’ll know that we’ve been going through a series on The Unstoppable Church through the Book of Acts and I’m just following on in that series.
And from where Marilyn left off last week, a little bit has happened in the life of the Early Church. After Ananias and Sapphira and that whole thing happened, then… And if you didn’t hear the message, listen to the message. It was awesome and that will fill in some of the blanks on that for you.
But after that, the church begins to grow in such a way that they start thinking we need to put in some leaders into place, they call them deacons, who will be very practical hands-on in ministering to the Church, in serving the Church. What happens is as leadership is put in place, because the honor of God-given leadership always brings growth…
So what happens in that moment is yet again, the Church explodes in growth and it makes people take notice of the Church more and more so. And the apostles at the same time are preaching and performing all sorts of miracles and the kind of law enforcement of the city don’t like that very much. So they imprison the apostles, the apostles get set free from prison miraculously, an angel sets them free from the prison. It’s all go in the city. It’s all crazy in the city.
And what that leads to is persecution. And what happens is one of the deacons, a man named Stephen, gets dragged before the court on false charges because in reality, what’s happening is that there’s some jealousy at play because we all know that when God starts doing things in a city, jealousy comes up in people’s hearts because we like to own the power of God rather than partner with the power of God. And so what happens is when we don’t own the power of God, we start getting cross. Anyway, that’s a side note.
So they start bringing persecution against the Church because they don’t get to control what’s happening and it’s not reflecting well on the officials in the city. And they bring Stephen before everyone on false charges and they stone him to death. The first martyr of the Church. Everyone’s thinking, “Wow, this isn’t what I came for this morning. Now I’m really not hoping that that’s what is going to be our experience.”
But that is the reality of many Christians in the world. And I just want to say this, as someone who was born in the Middle East, who knows many people who’ve been put to death and imprisoned for Christ, we get to live a very, very comfortable Christianity. But that shouldn’t mean that our Christianity becomes comfortable.
And what happens in the Church in the West particularly, because we’re not being persecuted in the same way, we kind of make Christianity become incredibly comfortable and it’s all about my comfort and we misunderstand the message of Jesus because Jesus is not comfortable, he’s inconvenient. He’s wonderful and kind, but he is inconvenient. And just because you’re not being put into prison for the sake of Christ, it doesn’t mean that your Christianity should get so comfortable and familiar that you kind of feel like you’re lying down permanently because nothing’s ever happening. I just want to put that out there.
So Stephen becomes the first martyr of the Church. The awesome thing about that moment… This is all introduction. I hope you’re okay with this. The awesome thing about that moment is that Stephen looks up and he says, “I see the heavens opened.” He’s not seeing the heavens opening. He’s not seeing the heavens opened for a moment. The word is thoroughly opened. It’s a permanent opening that’s happened.
And sometimes we go to Open Heavens conferences or we talk about thin spaces in the spirit or… And I’m not knocking those things, but what I’m saying to you is the truth. The ultimate truth for every single person on the planet is that Jesus, in dying on a cross and rising from the dead, what he did was he tore open the heavens for all time because what the cross and resurrection does is that it allows us to meet with God face to face. No longer are we praying to a metal ceiling with our prayers bouncing off. No, the heavens have been torn open.
Stephen saw it and he announced it. Guys, what I’m seeing is not just a little bit of something open, maybe it’ll close again. No, something that has been thoroughly torn for all time. You live under an open heaven, which means you get to know God face to face for yourself. You don’t need to do anything to make that happen. You don’t need to fast some more or pray some more or be better in your morality. God has torn the heavens open and He’s not going to put it back together again.
And so Stephen, even as he’s dying proclaims, “I see the heavens that have been torn open. It is done.” And then the Church gets scattered and this is where things get really exciting for the Church because up to this point, they’ve been living in their Christian ghetto and they’ve been thinking, “Okay, let’s just kind of keep in,” and sure, they’re preaching, and sure, they’re healing the sick, but they’re all together because isn’t it nice when we all stay together? It really is. It’s really lovely.
But you know what? The world needs to hear the message of Jesus, good grace, good God. The world needs that message and it’s not going to happen when we all live inside of our churches together holding hands. It’s going to happen when we get outside of the building. A friend of mine, Alan Scott, said, “Our cities aren’t hard to reach. They’re just hard to reach if we’re sitting in our churches.” It’s true.
And so what happens, even in this horrible moment where on paper, you think, “Oh, gosh, surely that’s a defeat,” we see God doing what He does best, which is using a terrible scenario to display His goodness in greater measure. And so what happens is the first martyr leads to the scattering of the Church and many people are thinking, “Surely this is over,” because they’ve all been blown about all over the place. No, what happens is we’re told that they went about preaching the Gospel.
And so one of the biggest moments of Church mission happens right after persecution of the Church, and this is where we’re going to pick up. So in Acts 8:4… I’m going to read from the ESV. We’re going to read a few verses, so just track with me if you can. “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip…”
Now, Philip was one of the deacons of the church. I just also want to say this, those of you who know the word “deacon,” who are familiar with that word, we can make that word so boring. It’s not boring when you read Acts because the deacons did some pretty insane things.
And so I just want to say being a leader in a church, being part of a church should never be reduced to boring anything because if you’re part of the family of God, your life is mental. Take it from me. Verse 4, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria.”
Now, the Samaritans, the place, the area of Samaria, it’s a big city, if you’re going to call it that. They thought of themselves as a nation, really. The Samaritans and the Jews were sworn enemies. The Samaritans were seen as dirty by the Jews.
They’d kind of compromised on what God had done. They didn’t really believe in lots of the stuff that the Jews believed. In fact, they believe that they owned what God was doing and that the Jews were wrong. And so there was real animosity between the two.
Don’t you love it that God doesn’t care about human animosity and human factions? He’s like, “I’m just going to mess this all up for you guys because your sworn enemies are about to become your brothers and sisters.”
So he went to the city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed…” He’s a man of both word and spirit. Notice that doesn’t mean he’s mediocre on the word and the spirit finding some kind of boring middle ground between the two, which really achieves nothing. No, he’s a man of extreme word and extreme spirit.
“When they heard his words and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
Now, for some time, a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, ‘This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.’
They followed him because he’d amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Phillip as he had proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. And when they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them, they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability or more exact as the authority so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’
Peter answered, ‘May your money perish with you because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money. You have no part or share in this ministry because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that He may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.’
Then Simon answered, ‘Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.’ After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the Gospel in many Samaritan villages.”
I love this chapter. It’s a chapter full of comparisons, and sometimes if we read it quickly, we’ll miss the treasures that God has put. Do you know, I love the way God hides things for us to find. God never hides things from us because He doesn’t want to tell us. He hides things from us because He understands the joy of discovery.
Yesterday afternoon, I was playing with my two kids. I’ve got a three-year-old and a one-year-old at home, and we created a ginormous den and they had both hid in the middle of that den and they’re giggling all the way as they’re shouting, “Mommy, come find us.”
And now I’m looking under every cushion and behind every door and they’re just so excited and I can hear my boys, each will say, “Mommy, we’re here. Mommy, we’re here.” I’m like, “Yeah, you don’t really understand the point of hiding. That’s okay.”
It’s because the joy of discovery is what’s so exciting about that game. He’s not hiding hoping that I’ll never find him. He’s hiding knowing that I will, and that’s the point. And when Jesus hides things in the Bible, it’s not because he’s trying to be annoying or secretive or it’s only for the special few. No, no. He’s hiding things in plain sight because if we will find those treasures by discovery, he knows that it will make our hearts so excited with the thrill of finding him.
And so I love this chapter because there’s hidden gems. It is a chapter of contrast. The Holy Spirit is a different kind of fire to what the world brings, what magic offers, what the new age realm may be able to present because he’s entirely different, and this passage shows us some of the differences.
The first is a difference in amazement. We’re told that Simon, the magician, amazed the people for a long time. This was not just kind of some random man on the outskirts. This is a man who had gripped the city with his magic and had amazed them. They didn’t know very much. In fact, they knew nothing except the name he gave himself, which was Great.
It’s a lovely, secretive, mysterious message. All he had for them was this message of “I am Great.” In fact, the NIV that I read… I should have read the ESV. But anyway, the NIV translation that I read makes it sound like they’re just saying a descriptive thing, “He is Great. He is the greatness of God.” In fact, it’s a title, “Great.” That was his title. “What’s your name?” “Just call me Great. That’s what I go by.”
He’d amazed the people. Now, there’s nothing wrong with amazement. In fact, we see in many, many, many verses in the Bible, and including this chapter, that when people saw the signs performed by Jesus, when people saw the signs performed by the apostles, when they heard the messages, they were amazed. So I’m not knocking being amazed. In fact, my own experience is that I have stood in awe and been amazed by God many, many, many times. So hear me. Okay?
Amazement is not a problem. The problem is where it leads to. And I want to be really careful as I’m saying this so we don’t misunderstand my message today. But we don’t want to create a culture of amazement, we want to create a culture of encounter. They start in a similar place, but one abruptly ends. The other one enters into revelation. They’re two very different things.
And in this church, in this family, we’ve had the privilege of journeying in a season of greater encounter, of pursuing the presence of God, of saying, we don’t want to go anywhere until we know your manifest presence.
And if you know me, you’ll know I’m 100% on board with that. In fact, when I’m off duty, if you like, and sometimes when I’m on duty, let’s be honest, I may well be the person going crazy at the front. But the point is this, that we cannot settle for just goosebumps. Right?
We love the moments of goosebumps with God. I love those moments where I can physically feel Him because, hey, He created and designed your body to be able to physically feel Him. But that’s not the sum of encounter with God and neither is it the proof of encounter with God. And I really want to charge this church if I can. Go after amazement for sure, but don’t stop there. Pursue encounter.
And often, there’s encounter in the amazement, but if we reduce everything to what our goosebumps are telling us, we will end up coming into a place where we are religious about our goosebumps and we miss fresh encounter with Jesus.
You’re hearing me. I’m saying fall down in his presence, yes, I’m saying you’re feeling the touch of Holy Spirit and you’re shaking and you’re crying and you’re laughing, yes, but often, the beautiful thing, the moment of encounter, comes a few minutes into that.
And I’ve walked this journey, so I’m saying this from personal experience. This isn’t a knock on anyone else. But sometimes we can go, “The meeting was great. I was shaking for a long time,” but all we’ve done is settle for just the doorway. We’ve just dipped our toe in and we think that’s the point.
And he’s saying, “No, I’ve got so much more for you. Keep coming. Keep coming. Don’t grow familiar with the doorway.” And I’ve been around in charismatic circles enough to know that we can get so familiar and enamored with the doorway that we start building monuments around that rather than continuing the pursuits that we started with.
Simon was great at amazing the people. He had nothing to offer of encounter. We are created to be a people of encounter, where we are amazed, where we feel His physical presence, where it’s beautiful, where we’re laughing and crying and got every goosebump. And I think it’s Richard who says that our goosebumps have babies and have more goosebumps. But the point is this, that we’re drawn to Jesus.
What’s really interesting about the amazement in the city toward Simon is that where it said they paid attention to him. They were drawn to him. They saw his signs and they were so amazed by what he did, they gave him their attention.
But what’s interesting is that in verse 6, we see that Phillip came with a message and a different kind of fire and he also amazed them with signs and wonders and deliverance. But what did they do? They paid attention to what he said.
Because what happens is the amazement is beautiful, the revelation and encounter is gold. And so what’s happening is they’re not stopping short of just what they see of Philip and going, “Wow, what you do is awesome.” They’re hearing the proclamation of who Jesus is and they’re drawn to Jesus.
I want to say our moments of amazement are only so beautiful if we get to see Jesus, if we get to know him more. You’re seeing angels? That is awesome. I see them too. Let’s talk sometime. That’s not unbiblical. Lots of people see angels in the Bible. But I don’t want to see angels if I don’t fall in love with Jesus more. Right? What is it that’s winning our attention in the moment of amazement? Because that’s a really good moment for us to weigh up what’s going on.
And there’s two extremes that we can get to. We can get onto the extreme of, “Oh, I’m too spiritual for needing to be amazed. That’s just for the emotional people who just don’t have an understanding of who God is. I’m a word person. You need to win my mind.”
Listen, I’m saying this because I was this person in many, many ways. Okay? Win my mind, you didn’t need to win my heart. I want to see the face of God, not the hand of God. Sounds so spiritual. I don’t need the goosebumps, I know what the Bible says. The problem is He designed you for the goosebumps. The problem is His hand and His face are connected. We start trying to sound more spiritual than God wants us to be, and that’s a problem.
So that’s the one extreme. Let’s throw amazement out completely because we’re bigger than that. The other extreme is amazement is the proof of everything that’s happening. So we stop believing what the Bible says about God being with me because I’m not feeling any goosebumps right now. Has He left me?
We stop believing the power of Ephesians 5, “Be filled with the Spirit,” where it’s actually a passive action. Allow yourself to be filled because he’s the one who does the action. It’s a passive moment. We stop believing that that’s true. When we ask him to fill us and we’re not getting goosebumps, he can’t have filled me today. Not true. The Bible is true all of the time.
So we don’t want to either extreme. We don’t want to be in the camp of I’m bigger than amazement because that’s just silly. He wants to amaze you. It’s fun and it’s a doorway into revelation. But we don’t want to be governed by amazement where we disbelieve the words of the Bible because we didn’t have our goosebumps that day. Right? We want to walk in amazement and walk in truth. We want to say…
I’ve been really practicing this, if I can say, the last few weeks, where I just keep saying, “Jesus, thank you every day. Please fill me,” and I’m really kind of in that moment engaging with the words of Ephesians 5. That’s what I’m kind of meditating on in that moment.
Sometimes I feel like, boom, like someone threw hot water all over me in that moment. Some mornings I feel nothing at all. But in both of those moments, I know that power from the presence of God is filling me and I know the empowerment in my day. I want to tell you, your goosebumps do not dictate what is happening in the spirit realm. But it’s really fun to have goosebumps too. Amazement.
The second thing, different kind of fire that the Holy Spirit is, is who’s at the center of the story? And we’ve alluded to this. Simon, the Great, draws everyone to him as the center of the story. This man who is proving his might with all his demonic works has himself in the spotlight of the story, and yet, with a different kind of fire, Phillip is drawing people to Jesus. You and I are part of his story. He has not come to join you on yours. You’re not the central character in your story. You’re not the hero of your story. He’s the hero of your story.
You know… And this is a scary thing for a preacher to say because it’s sobering. But if people walk out of meetings where I minister amazed at the eloquence of Katia Adams or whatever it is that I’d love them to be amazed at it, but not more in love with Jesus, then something’s wrong with my ministry. I need more presence in my ministry.
And hear me. Honor is really important. The Bible says honor is linked to blessing in life. “Honor your parents so that you will live a long life.” There’s a connection. There’s a beautiful thing about honor in the Bible.
So I’m not talking about dishonoring those amongst us because Jesus is great and you’re not. If you’ve heard me preach before, you’ll know that I preach a message that says you are great, and you are, because guess what? Your Father is the king of the universe and His DNA is inside of you. That makes you, by extension, great, but it’s by extension.
And so if the purpose, if the spotlight, if the centrality of everything we do makes other people look at us, then we’re not carrying a different kind of fire, we’re carrying the world’s fire and we need that to change.
That’s why I kind of get a little bit nervous with titles. I think it’s important to honor people as apostles and prophets. I honor my husband… He’s not in the room at the moment, but I honor him as a prophet. He’s not prophetic. He is a prophet and that’s biblical. Read Ephesians 4. It’s entirely biblical.
But I kind of get a little bit nervous if I’m entirely honest. This is just me. This isn’t a word of judgment. But I get nervous when we have official titles that people must call us because I start thinking, “I don’t know. I don’t know if I want that for me.”
I mean, it’d be really fun if you could all call me Prophet, Apostle, Teacher, Evangelist, Pastor Katia Adams whenever you saw me and that was my official title and I wouldn’t respond if you didn’t call me all of those things.
It’d be fun for me, but what it would do would be to relegate everyone to a second tier of Christianity when they’re around me. That’s not what the fivefold gifts are for. The Bible tells us that the fivefold gift in Ephesians 4 is to raise the entire body into maturity so what you see will be multiplied in you so that you can do it.
When you have a prophet in your midst, if he’s a genuine prophet, what will happen is he will raise the bar of prophecy across the board, so when we have Julian as a prophet in our midst, all of us prophesy better. The gift is an invitation for what we’re all meant to walk into. Do you see what I’m saying?
So honor the gift. But I’m not sure the gift is meant to be a title that we load over everybody else. I think the gift is meant to be an invitation for everyone else to walk in what they see. So it’s awesome because when you hear someone give you a testimony that’s insane, you don’t need to feel jealous about it because when you hear it, you know that God is inviting you into the same experience.
I’m going a little bit off my notes here, but just for a second, I feel to press this. When you hear a prophet tell you about visions and experiences, if your heart goes, “Well, that’s not fair…” Which my heart used to do, so I’m not saying something against you. This is a reality of what I felt.
When Julian, when we first got married, would tell me things, I’d be like, “This is so annoying. Well, of course, you’re a prophet, so you get to do that. I don’t get those dreams. I don’t get those visions.” I was missing the point because when someone tells you what they’re experiencing, what God is doing in that moment is giving you a handwritten invitation of encounter and experience that He has for you.
When an apostle tells you of raising the dead, you’re not meant to roll your eyes and go, “Well, it’s all right for you. You’re an apostle.” You’re meant to go, “I heard you say it, and if Ephesians 4 is actually true…” Which either it is or it’s not, and if it’s not true, then the rest of the Bible isn’t and let’s all go home.
But if Ephesians 4 is actually true, when you hear of someone raising the dead, the point isn’t to go, “Well, it’s all right for you because you’re gifted.” The point is to go, “I get to enter into that same maturity. I get to enter into that same experience,” because what you see the gifts do, all of that is intended to multiply into all of us.
So every time you see a gift operate, every time you hear a crazy, insane testimony, don’t let the enemy put jealousy in your heart or passive aggression or apathy because I’m not going to do anything now because I can’t possibly do that. That’s a lie of the enemy.
Every time you hear something awesome, think, “That’s for me,” because it is. That’s why you’re hearing it. That’s why we share testimonies on Sundays, not because we want to go, “I saw this in England and none of you have seen it.” No, we’re saying those testimonies because if I saw it, you can have it. That’s the point.
What you hear is meant to be multiplied in your own life. It’s not for the special few. It’s not “I’m Simon the Great and I have a secret power that none of you can know.” It’s “I’m Philip the evangelist. I bring a different kind of fire that every single one of you can know because his name is Jesus and I will tell you about him.” It’s a completely different experience.
Third contrast. Simon believed that the Holy Spirit could be bought. It’s a different kind of fire. You know, magicians in the day, those who practiced witchcraft, and we have many in our day who do the same, they pay for the power. They pay either in money or in life. They pay for it because it’s demonic. There has to be a transaction that costs the person something. But Holy Spirit is a different kind of fire and he’s not for sale. He’s free, but he’s not cheap. There’s a difference.
And so Simon, though he’s believed the message, hasn’t been fully transformed by the message, which is okay, we’re all on a journey, okay? So let’s not be rude about Simon entirely here. But he was on a journey and he didn’t get it and he went back to what he knew, the formula he was aware of, which was, “Let me buy what I see.” And the apostle, they… I mean, they come down strong on him because there’s something about recognizing that you will never ever be able to purchase the Holy Spirit.
Now, all of us read this and go, “Clearly, you can’t pay for the Holy Spirit. Clearly, you can’t put in your money and out comes Holy Spirit out of the ginormous machine that you put your coins into and out he comes. That’s not how it works.”
But how many of us are trying to buy him with how often we fast or how often we’re good or how often we pray or whether we did something good this week? How many of us come into a meeting and immediately think through, “What did I do this week? Was it good enough?” And when we don’t feel goosebumps, start thinking, “It’s because I wasn’t good enough.”
How many of us fall into sin… And I’m not saying is okay. It’s not because you a believer. Sin doesn’t become you because the reality is everything about you has changed. So if you’re in sin, stop it because it’s unnatural for you to sin.
But anyway, how many us, if we have given in to temptation, start feeling like, “Now I’m really far away from God and now I have to start the journey of walking towards Him again?” It’s called purchasing the presence of the Spirit and he’s not for sale.
He’s free, whether you’ve been good or bad. He’s free, not cheap, because Jesus died to make the heavens open. But he’s free. Let’s not live a Christianity that may not try to purchase him with money, but may try to purchase him with our works.
And you’ll know if you have this in you, if you get annoyed when the person sitting next to you, not right now, you understand, I’m sure we’re all perfect, but sometimes sitting next to you who’s just walked in the building for about 30 seconds, gets, boom, the power of God and suddenly, they’re giving testimonies of seeing healings every 30 seconds in the week and you’re sitting there annoyed because I’ve been a believer for 20 years and I’ve never seen a miracle.
And rather than be celebrating of what they’re seeing, you’re starting to get frustrated because I’ve put my time in. You don’t get to purchase the power and authority and the presence of Holy Spirit with your time.
And I’m saying this because when I was seven… I’m being so honest with all my mistakes this morning, but it’s because Jesus gets glory when we’re real about the stuff we’ve messed up on. I love that. There’s no shame in the stuff you’ve messed up on because he turns all of it to a glorious expression of how good he is.
When I was seven, or maybe a little bit younger, probably about six, for about a year, I’d been praying to be filled with the presence of the Spirit and speak in tongues and I had all sorts of misunderstandings about what God is like. But anyway, that’s not the point. I really loved Him and I knew He loved me.
And for about a year, I’d been praying, but I never really felt His presence strongly or I’d never started speaking in tongues. And then another family joined our church and one of the girls was nine and she within a week started speaking in tongues.
And I was really cross because I was like, “I’ve put my time in. I’ve put my time in. I’ve been praying for my healing for the last 20 years and Joe comes in and is healed of cancer in the second. Where the heck is God?” You don’t purchase him. You don’t purchase him. He’s free for all of us.
And you know what? Other people’s breakthrough, celebrating that often leads us into greater revelation and encounter. I can’t tell you why things don’t happen immediately all of the time. I can’t tell you that, but I do know that he’s not for sale and we need to do some work in our hearts if that’s where we’re at.
Last one, and this one’s not in the passage. Well, it kind of is. It’s half in the passage. You know the beauty of Acts 8 is actually in Luke 9. Flick to Luke 9. Oh, you don’t have to. I’m going to read it, so it’s fine. Last comparison, a different kind of fire. This is what makes Acts 8 one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
Luke 9:51, “As the time approached for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into Samaritan villages to get things ready for him, but the people there, who hated the Jews, did not welcome him because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?'”
Can I just stop here for a second because I think this is hilarious? They’re with Jesus and they have no power. They don’t even know what’s going on most of the time and yet they suggest to Jesus, “We’ll help you out here because you obviously don’t have the power to do whatever you want to do.”
Shall we call down fire? What would they have done if he said yes? Like, “What do we do now?” Never ask Jesus a question where you’re not prepared for all the answers. Okay? It’s a dangerous thing to do. Anyway, I just think it’s so funny. “But Jesus turned and rebuked them.” I love it.
The Book of Luke and the Book of Acts are written by the same author, which is the Dr. Luke. They are a two-part volume. In the Early Church, they came together. They were Part 1 and Part 2. It’s like “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Well, you don’t obviously read one without reading two and three. If not, you don’t know what happens. They came together.
The author Luke is being incredibly, incredibly strategic and intentional with what he’s writing. Luke 9 and Acts 8 go together because it’s interesting that one of the disciples who wanted to call down one kind of fire on the Samaritans in Luke 9 goes to call down an entirely different kind of fire in Acts 8.
Can you imagine being the Apostle John? Can you imagine standing in the same place where just a little while before you fully understood the kindness of God, you were saying, “These people deserve nothing. Bring judgment on them?” And he goes and he says, “Please let me lay hands on you because I’m going to call down a different kind of fire.”
I want to tell you, Holy Spirit is a different kind of fire to what many imagine God to be bringing from heaven. I read Facebook and it sickens me because so-called Christians are saying that earthquake was yet another moment of judgment from the heart of God, and I think, “What kind of fire have we been understanding?”
It’s like we got stuck in Luke 9, didn’t even read Jesus’ response, which was a rebuke to that crazy way of thinking. We never got to Acts 8 and we still think that God’s the one sending fire of judgment from heaven. What do you think the cross and resurrection were for in the first place?
I want to tell you for your life Holy Spirit is a different kind of fire, a fire of mercy, a fire of grace, a fire of kindness and goodness that will take your breath away. He’s a fire who empowers you, not because you earned his empowerment, but because he is just that greatest. And I want to tell you once he’s transformed you with everything in him, he wants to bring you to a place where you are empowered to lay hands on others and bring a different kind of fire.
We are agents of a different kind of fire, you and me. A kind of fire that isn’t stuck in amazement without encounter. A kind of fire that doesn’t lead people to say, “Wow, you’re great,” but leads people to say, “Wow, Jesus is alive.”
A kind of fire that is not for sale. If he’s not for sale, neither should we be. And a kind of fire that is so full of mercy that it astonishes and that it leaves lives transformed. Why don’t you stand with me for a moment?
He’s here in this room. We don’t need goosebumps, although goosebumps are awesome. So, Holy Spirit, come and impact us to such a way that we feel you physically because that’s what we were designed for. We don’t need soft playing music because, Holy Spirit, you are the power of God.
In the name of Jesus, we invite the fire of the Spirit to come and rest on us, to come and lead us to fall in love with Jesus more, to come and overwhelm us with his mercy, to come and empower us not to put our Christianity and our values for sale for the highest bidder.
Holy Spirit, fall amongst us. In this moment, Holy Spirit, fire of God, hey, we honor your presence. Where you are, freedom comes. So in the name of Jesus, I speak. I speak to depression and I speak to anxiety and I speak to demonic oppression and I say go in the name of Jesus because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom and he is here right now.
And so I speak just a few months ago, someone got healed of depression instantaneously in one of the meetings that I preached at. That’s because God is kind. And so in the name of Jesus, the same Spirit that broke the back of depression in that meeting, right now, I speak healing for those who are depressed, for those who desperately need the peace of God to quiet the storm of anxiety in their lives. I speak freedom in this place. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is much joy.
And so in the name of Jesus, Holy Spirit of a different kind of fire than what we may have understood, I speak joy in lives. I ask you, Holy Spirit, that people will get in their cars and they just won’t stop being able to… They’ll just laugh and laugh and laugh. That’s why giving becomes hilarious in the body because giving anywhere else isn’t hilarious and isn’t fun. But with the Spirit of God inside of you, even giving becomes so joy-filled because joy has ignited everything in your life.
And so in the name of Jesus, we honor you, a different kind of fire, who is neither nameless nor secretive, but is very much known in the person of Jesus Christ. And even in this moment, I want to say if you are someone who wouldn’t call yourself a Christian, maybe you’re just new to the building and everything I’ve talked about, you’re like, “I’ve never understood that this is who Jesus is,” I want to give you an opportunity because Jesus loves you and he died for you. God is not a secret. God has put Himself on display in the person of Jesus and is inviting you to know Him. And so if you want to know Him today, I want to pray with you that you would come to an encounter with Jesus.
And if you’ve been in this church for 30 years and you would call yourself a Christian and yet you’re suddenly thinking, “I don’t even know if I’ve encountered Jesus and I don’t even know if I’ve ever been baptized in a different kind of fire of the Holy Spirit,” then today’s a really good day to come forward and encounter the person of God because I’m want to tell you Jesus is very much alive and he’s here in this room in the person of his Spirit.
So, Father, we honor you. We say keep doing this stuff in our lives because it’s not meant to be about a church building. So keep ministering to us as we go home, as we have our lunch, as we try to have a nap. Give us dreams and visions to shake us up and to change our lives. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
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