Acts 19:11–20 (NKJV)
11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.Acts 19:11-20
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. 19 Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
Paul’s time in Ephesus was sprinkled with miracles and a powerful evangelistic revival that swept the city and region. Paul was in demand to pray for and speak to people in need. The demand was so high that many resorted to asking for clothes anointed, prayed over, or even just touched by Paul, and when they were brought to the sick or demon-possessed, they were healed. This was so known and revered that some sought to duplicate this power, praying to cast out demons “by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” However, the demons were not impressed by the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest, who attempted to exorcise a demon spirit in this manner. They honored the name of Jesus, and recognized Paul, but had no regard for these men, moving the demon-possessed man to attack them, injuring them. After this, many gave up their magic, burning their books and repenting. The word of the Lord “grew mightily and prevailed.”
Today, some disdain the work of the Holy Spirit to heal and cast out demons. Many feel it inappropriate to believe in faith for miracles, citing out-of-context Scriptures to support the cessation of the charismata, or the end of the operation of the gifts of the Spirit. The church is still growing around the world. While Muslim and other religious influences are still increasing, the church of the living God is still the most influential religion across the world, going into dark places with the light of the Word. Miracles are happening on the mission field, and lives–even cities and regions–are being transformed. In America, the church seems stymied at times, and growth is slow if existent at all. What is wrong in America? Our prosperity and our comfort get in the way of our utter and complete dependence upon God. Our lackadaisical attitude toward sin and debauchery leads to spiritual weakness and self-dependence. God, help us to believe in simple faith and remember our inadequacy without you. God, help us to depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit to demonstrate Who You are. And help us to inspire revival and a renewed relationship with the God of the Church, not the God of the culture around us. God, we are looking for You again. Help us find You in the power of the Holy Spirit! We need your miracles. We need your power.
Artwork from http://pitts.emory.edu/dia/image_details.cfm?ID=7709