Sermon in a nutshell: “Power of the Spirit against Magic” (Acts 19:11-20)
Last Sunday, we reflected on the works of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit is our instant coach. Holy Spirit is the One who helps us to grow in Jesus after we accepted Jesus as our Savior. Holy Spirit also gives us power to overcome temptations. In other words, Holy Spirit is the One who walks with us in our faith journey till we go to our heavenly home. If necessary, Holy Spirit would also perform miracles as Jesus did when He was on earth.
So, miracles happened in Paul’s ministry. When the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched Paul’s skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them. That was amazing miracles. Such miracles strengthened Paul’s position and ministry.
Then why it does not happen here in Concord? Simply put, here in Concord, such miracles are not necessary. All the miracles are means to spread the Good News. Miracles were used to break the hardened hearts of the people. However, in our town, people would accept the Good News without such miracles. Here in Concord, people would accept the Good News through our good works. That is why we are doing good works in our community.
In the Bible, miracles have never been used to show off human power. Actually, when Satan tested Jesus in the wilderness before Jesus started his public ministry (Matthew chapter 4), saying, “If you are a Son of God, make this stone into bread.” At that time Jesus was hungry after the 40 days fasting. However, Jesus refuted Satan’s temptation, saying, “Humans live not by bread alone but by the words of God.” Jesus showed us in such answer two things: (1) First, we have to listen to the words of God for our physical and spiritual life and (2) secondly, we cannot use God’s power to satisfy our own personal desires and needs. God’s power has to be used to build up community and God’s Kingdom.
When we are hungry, we have to work and earn our bread. The Bible also says that “anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The Bible honor labor. On this Labor Sunday, we know that the Puritan Spirit was the foundation of the Capitalistism of the Western world (Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Original in German: Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus ). We honor those who work hard and pay taxes. Actually those who are blessed have to give three types of money: Tax to the Government, Wages to the employees, and Offering to churches. If you are giving three types of money to the three different recipients, you are blessed.
So, here in Concord, God wants us to work hard and earn our bread with our labor. God wants to build our church through our hard works and sacrifices. When we need miracles, God will provide supernatural power for God’s work. However, when we do our shares, God does not have to send angels for daily works. That is why we do not experience miracles that often here in Concord.
Sometimes, people want to exercise God’s power just for fun or to show off their own power. It does not work that way. In Paul’s times, there were people like that. Some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits. Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit said to them in reply, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered them all, and so overpowered them that they fled out of the house naked and wounded.
When this happened a number of those who practiced magic collected their books and burned them publicly; when the value of these books was calculated, it was found to come to fifty thousand silver coins. They did not want to use God’s name in vain. They also did not want to use magic to gain what they wanted. Now they wanted to do honest work for honest income and bread.
When we received the Holy Spirit, we do not possess magic power. We start working hard with the talent and gift that God has given us. When we have surplus resources, we want to share it with those who are less fortunate.
Brothers and sisters! Let us rebuild our country with honest work and labor. We need farmers who can grow crops and engineers who can manufacture products as well as services and intellectual properties. If we want to use God’s power to have free lunch, evil spirits will come and overpower us. We want to obey to the guide of the Holy Spirit but we do not want to use the Holy Spirit for our own benefit. If we keep this principle, we can have joyful and abundant life. May God bless all of us who listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit today!
- What is the message of the Holy Spirit for you today?
- What prevents you to listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit?