A Mighty Work of God, Where? By Whom?

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone who doesn’t follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow us.”

But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is on our side. For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward.”      Mark 9:38-41 (WEB)

“Jesus, we saw this church down the street having revival meetings every night for the last week. They do not believe like we do so we told our people to encourage their friends not to go there.” This, unfortunately, is an accurate modern day retelling of this Scripture passage.

From 1995-2000, millions of people came to Pensacola, FL to meet with God. It became known as “The Pensacola Outpouring”. As Scripture verifies, when God manifests Himself in a tangible way it can be frightening, puzzling, and extraordinary wonderful all in the same moment. The Israelites at Mt. Sinai and the disciples in the days after the resurrection had a variety of reactions and responses to the events. What I cannot understand I may often reject because to accept an unknown is to also acknowledge a loss of control and certainly brings me out of a comfort zone. Jesus, as loving and compassionate as He is, spent most of His ministry years leading His disciples far, far away from their comfort zones.

Thousands maybe even millions were forever changed after their experience during that time in Pensacola. I was one of them. I went from being ambivalent, even apathetic, about God to spending hours reading and studying the Bible. Hymns that I had once thought boring and insipid brought tears to my eyes as I raised my voice in thanksgiving for how God had healed my shattered heart. That has been almost 15 years ago and the tears still fall for His extravagant, tender love.

A mighty work was done in the name of Jesus at a church located in an area of the city known for crime and poverty. Some thought Jesus would only show up at a large, prosperous church. A mighty work happened in Jesus’ name at a church known to be charismatic. I personally met people from every denomination, evangelical and charismatic, Catholic and Protestant, Jew and Muslim, atheist and agnostic. They came from down the street, from Japan, Europe, Russia, South America, Africa, and every country between. Many were “just pew sitters” like me but just as many were church leaders including pastors and teachers who were beat up and dried up. They left after receiving a fresh drink from the Living Water of Jesus. They received messages from the Lord they served and prayers that comforted and healed. They left renewed and strengthened.

Jesus makes it clear that the work we do probably won’t be perfect!  He doesn’t ask for perfection, just a humble, willing heart.

Jesus makes it clear that I should leave the judging to Him and only Him. If I want to know if a ministry is “of Him” – check the fruit that comes from it. If people grow closer to God and give Him all the credit for how their lives have changed so that they are serving and loving others – then be thankful that Kingdom work is being done!

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