Several years ago, I saw an interview of a well-known music entertainer who had recently converted to an Eastern religion. He was wearing a red dot on his forehead. The interviewer asked him why he chose that particular religion. He responded by saying that all religions can be recognized by their outward appearance as a sign as to what they believe in and the reason he chose Hinduism was because when people see him, they know exactly what he believes. He went on to say that Christianity has nothing outwardly to define what it believes.
As we read this past week in our Epic reading guide, we do have signs that define who we are as followers of Jesus. In Mark 16, when Jesus told the disciples to go out into all the world and preach the good news to all creation, he said whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. With their salvation signs would accompany them. Those signs are driving out demons, speaking in new tongues, being able to pick up snakes with their hands, drinking deadly poison and not being hurt, and laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed, all by the power of Jesus name (Mark 16:15-18).
In Acts 1, Jesus specifically talks about one gift that the Father had promised to send. Acts 1:4-8 reads, "On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But 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.”
Power is a sign of a follower of Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit is truly the sign that separates us from the world and other religions. Luke 24:49 Jesus told them to stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. Reading this made me think that another sign as a follower of Jesus is patience, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Jesus told them to stay in the city until (Luke 24:48) and wait for (Acts 1:4) the gift of the power of the Holy Spirit. It was probably like us as children at Christmas waiting with anticipation and excitement for Christmas morning to see what we might find under the tree. Remember the disciples did not know what to expect.
Receiving the gift of tongues is a sign that truly separates us from the world. The challenge with the gift of tongues is that it is also the one gift that divides the Body of Christ. Some choose not to believe that it is something we can have today, yet we will believe in healing and salvation. Some Believer's are afraid of it. Some are more likely to pick up snakes with their bare hands and drink poison than to be open to the gift of tongues. All one has to do is believe to receive and then wait. In Acts 2:1, the scripture says on the day of Pentecost they were all together, in one place. I believe the power of unity is a sign of a Believer. In Acts 2:2-4, it says a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house and what seemed to be tongues of fire rested on each of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. This reminded me of the time the Glory of God filled Solomon's temple after it was built. In 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 it says the musicians with one voice giving praise and thanks to the Lord singing, He is good, his love endures forever, that the temple was filled with a cloud and the priests could not perform because the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. (I have heard that this cloud was from the burning of lamp stand and sacrifices in the temple because there was no ventilation. Man made that fire, but God made the fire in Acts.)
We live in a world that will only believe if there is a sign. God knew that we being of flesh nature, provided signs for us to believe in the Truth. I ask you today, are you clothed with power? Only those who "believe the things of the Spirit" can "receive the things of the Spirit." I will close with this last question, what's your sign?