“Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.” Acts 13:8-12
This story from the book of Acts is what many of us in the Vineyard refer to as a “power encounter.” The power of Jesus and His kingdom encountered darkness and the kingdom of Satan. Through Paul, God demonstrated His authority over darkness and an important man placed his faith in the Lord.
Back in the early 1990’s, Beth and I attended a Presbyterian church in Wilmington, NC. One week, our pastor attended a conference at Ridgecrest Conference Center (here in Buncombe County) where John Wimber, Derek Prince and some other teachers were ministering. At that meeting, he witnessed John Wimber minister to a deaf woman.
He told me that as Wimber prayed for her, waiting on the Holy Spirit, suddenly there was an audible “pop” sound. She was instantly healed and could hear for the first time in many years in that ear. A complete miracle, with no hype, emotionalism or fanfare.
My pastor was wrecked by the experience. He came home to our church and said that he “had to go after the kingdom,” not just do church. Shortly after that encounter, he left his pastorate in a denominational church and stepped out to plant a Vineyard church. I was the worship leader in the first service of that new Vineyard church.
For the next several years, we were discipled in a culture of Vineyard Values where we learned that God wanted to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We learned that we could be “naturally supernatural” and did not have to be weird, or dramatic to heal the sick. We learned that God desired every one of us to flow in the supernatural power of God to advance His kingdom.
We experienced wave after wave of the presence of God in large corporate worship services and private small group worship times. We traveled to Vineyard conferences all across North America and experienced the beautiful and transforming presence of God. It was life-giving on so many levels.
I’ve experienced power encounters for many years. A power encounter is when God breaks into our common affairs with His life, healing or guidance. The Father is always working in people’s lives whether or not they are yet born again. When we learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and step out in faith, we can participate in these interesting and exciting encounters.
Over the next several weeks I will be sharing stories of power encounters I have experienced in my life. This is the normal Christian life. My prayer is that our expectation level will rise for the movement of God’s Spirit among us.
Holy Spirit, we welcome you to come and have your way among us!