Awakened to the Supernatural
Try this: take your phone or device and set your alarm for one minute from now. Now, while you wait for it to sound, consider this: why do we set alarms? They wake us up! They say, “Wake up! Get up! You’re asleep—it’s time to get up and get ready for something!”
The teachings of the Book of Acts are a progression of alarms meant to wake us up to what the Holy Spirit of God was doing in and through the early Church. And if we will listen, it is also a series of alarms for our times, waking us up to what the Holy Spirit can do in and through the Church today!
One such alarm from Acts resounds to awaken us to the supernatural. “Supernatural” simply means higher or above or beyond what we consider “natural.” The supernatural is the work of God. After Pentecost, when Jesus fulfilled His promise to pour out His Spirit into the hearts and lives of all who would put their faith in Him, we who have trusted in Jesus also receive His Spirit! That means the supernatural Presence of God is in us, with us, surrounding us, and beckoning us further into the plans and purposes of God.
But we need to be awakened to it. Our eyes need to be opened to see the supernatural that is constantly at work all around us.
A Dangerous Miracle
In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas encountered a man in the Greek town of Lystra who could not walk. He had been crippled from birth. When Paul saw that he had faith to be healed, Paul called out, “Stand up on your feet!” and the man stood up and began to walk. A miracle had taken place in Lystra and the people were ecstatic!
But they were also polytheists who were eager to turn their mesmerization into worship. They reasoned that Paul and Barnabas were gods and the proper response was to offer sacrifices to them. Yet, before they could, Paul interrupts them. His point was, “Don’t worship the miracle-workers; worship the miracle-Maker himself!”
Ironically though, Paul goes on to explain to the crowds that God has continually been trying to get their attention through the natural world, but that they could not see it. Paul says in verse 17, “He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” What he implies is that what they think is the natural order actually testifies to God’s supernatural sustaining of the world.
Miraculous healings, resurrections, deliverance from demons, angelic appearances—yes, these things are all very real. They all really happened in Acts and they are still happening today. If you listen to trustworthy sources coming out of Africa, South America, China, India, the Middle East—and yes, even right here in the United States—God is still a miracle-working God.
But these miracles are just one category amidst all of God’s supernatural work in the world and in our lives! The supernatural work of God is all around us, all the time! We just have to have our eyes opened to it—like the Lystrans, we need to be awakened to the supernatural that is present all around us.
We See What We are Looking For
Several years ago, my wife and I hosted a visitor for a few days. His rental car was a Chrysler Pacifica and although this model had already been out for about a year, we had never seen one before his visit. Ironically, after he left, we started noticing them everywhere! We were surrounded by them but couldn’t “see” them because we weren’t looking for them.
Has that ever happened to you? You never noticed something before, but then once it gets pointed out to you, you start recognizing it everywhere? Noticing the supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit works in a similar way. If we will open our eyes—if we will look for it—we will start to see Him at work all around us, every day!
In 2 Kings 6, the prophet Elisha and his servant find themselves in a city that is besieged by enemy forces. Elisha tells his servant not to be afraid, because “those who are with us are more than those who are with them,” and then prays, “Oh Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Once the servant’s eyes were opened, he could finally see the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around them.
Our eyes need to be opened to the supernatural and we need to be looking for it, because we often see what we are looking for.
What is Supernatural?
Acts 2:42–47 summarizes the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, which had been poured out among the Jewish audience at Pentecost. The Spirit’s presence:
- centered believers on His Word (v. 42).
- gathered His people in deep community (v. 42).
- established peace with God, self, and others (v. 42).
- led His people to prayer as a means of connection with God (v. 42).
- enabled signs and wonders in and through the apostles (v. 43).
- unified believers into radical levels of generosity and hospitality (vv. 44–46).
- produced gladness and humility (vv. 46–47).
- evoked the good-will of the surrounding community (v. 47).
- grew the Church through the ultimate supernatural act, salvation in Jesus’s name (v. 47).
As we read further in Acts, we find things like miraculous healings, resurrection from the dead, and angelic deliverance from prison. But there is a danger for us in thinking that these are the only supernatural things, the only evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit, or the main reason the early Church flourished.
We mistakenly put signs and wonders up on a pedestal, separating them from the rest of the Holy Spirit’s supernatural work. And in so doing, we relegate all the rest of the Spirit’s supernatural work in us to the ordinary, the unimportant, the unimpressive.
Lord, Open Our Eyes that We May See
Sometimes the supernatural looks different than what we might expect. Maybe we are hoping for a sign or a wonder, when what God is supernaturally providing is something we might consider to be less spectacular, something like courage, perseverance, forgiveness, prayer, a friend to walk beside us, a song to cheer us, a verse to encourage us.
Given certain circumstances, the Spirit’s work in a person’s life through courage or forgiveness can truly be miraculous. Are your eyes open to see it? Are you looking for Him in your “everyday” life?
If you want to be awakened to the supernatural working of God’s Spirit around you, would you express that to Him in some way right now? You may want to hold your hands open, or place your hands over your eyes and pray for eyes to see Him, to see what He’s doing, where He’s moving, and how He’s working.
If you recognize His supernatural presence at work in your life, would you express your gratitude to Him in some way right now? You may just want to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving, or stretch your hands upward in praise.
Maybe you’re in a place of desperation. You’re in desperate need of the Spirit of God to do something supernatural in your life:
- you need a breakthrough from sin;
- you need a relationship to be rescued;
- you need healing in your body, mind, or soul;
- you need courage to face a difficult meeting;
- you need wisdom to help you handle a no-win situation at work;
- you need grace to forgive someone who hurt you;
- you need patience to endure your present hardship.
Whatever it is, if you’re in a place of saying, “I need You, God—I need You—please help me,” then do so now. And ask Him to open your eyes to see the supernatural ways in which He is responding to your prayer.