NO HOCUS-POCUS by Jim Cymbala

There is no better example of God’s moving mightily in a city than the account told in Acts 11:20-21: “Men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks . . . telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”

Such a harvest occurred that Barnabas was dispatched from Jerusalem to check things out. “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad. . . . And a great number of people were brought to the Lord” (verses 23-24).

Who were these men who launched such a mighty church that it eventually surpassed the mother church in Jerusalem? We don’t know their names. We don’t know their methodology. But we do know a couple of things: They spread “the good news about the Lord Jesus,” and “The Lord’s hand was with them” (verses 20-21).

This turned out to be the first truly multicultural church, with multicultural leaders, according to Acts 13:1—Simon the Black, some Jewish leaders, some Greeks, Manaen, the boyhood friend of Herod (which would have made him suspect to everyone!), and others. Yet they worked together in a powerful model of cross-cultural unity.

The Jewish-Gentile hatred of the first century was even greater than our racial strife of today. God met this problem head-on, for He was building His church His way.
Racial feelings in New York City are worse now than they were ten years ago. A harsh spirit prevails in many churches. We desperately need the love of God to override theses tensions, as it did in Antioch long ago.

No novel teaching is going to turn the trick. There are no trendy shortcuts, no hocus-pocus mantras that can defeat Satan. One man told me, “You know, you ought to think about getting a topographical map of Brooklyn so you could figure out the highest point in the borough. Then you could go there and pray against the territorial spirits.”

Others are saying, “The key to releasing God’s power is to sing through the streets of your city. Put on a march, make banners, and declare God’s sovereignty in a big parade.” Still others say, “Rebuke the devil, face the north, and stamp your feet when you do it. That will bring victory.”

Let’s forget the novelties. If we prevail in prayer, God will do what only He can do. How He does things, when He does them, and in what manner are up to Him. The name of Jesus, the power of His blood, and the prayer of faith have not lost their power.

Jim Cymbala began Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson and a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge throughout the world.