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This quarter, we focus on baptism with the Holy Spirit in our weekly devotional series. This week’s devotional comes from Matt. 11 – 17.

This past week, we read in Matthew 10 that Jesus had high expectations for His disciples: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give,” He told them (Matt. 10:8, NKJV).

As we read Matt. 11 – 17 this week, be mindful of how many times Jesus challenged the disciples to live out those instructions, to stretch their faith and trust Him more.

Also, be aware that His instructions were not only for His first 12 disciples; Jesus counts us among His followers, and He expects us to listen and obey His instructions, too. We are Jesus’ disciples, His look-alikes, and we are to move with the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who empowered Him. Jesus expects us to do the same—and even greater—works than He did (John 14:12), to cast out demons and to lay hands on the sick. 

Jesus was able to cast out demons “by the Spirit of God” (Matt. 12:28), but He said that to operate in authority over the demonic realm, a disciple must have faith; you and I must believe that we have the authority to cast them out. Further, when dealing with “this kind” of demonstrative manifestation (Matt. 17:21) and resistance from the enemy, we must first fast and pray to build ourselves spiritually.

Jesus was preparing His disciples to walk in the power of the Spirit through prayer and fasting, a discipline that strengthens us and increases our confidence in Jesus’ name.

Unfortunately, His disciples weren’t always the best students!

A father came to Jesus and knelt down, begging Him to have mercy on his epileptic son. The father explained that he had previously brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, but they could not cure him (Matt. 17:14 – 16). When Jesus intervened, the Bible says, “the child was cured from that very hour” (Matt. 17:18, NKJV).

Wisely, the disciples waited until they were alone with Jesus to ask Him why they couldn’t cast out the demon. They probably realized they should have been able to deliver the boy, and Jesus let them know they failed because of their unbelief. He reminded them what He had said before and then added, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (v. 21).

In the Great Commission, Jesus charged His disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He described the signs—the confirmations—that will follow those who believe: “In my name they will cast out demons.”

You and I are included in this Great Commission—we are “they” who believe. 

As look-alikes of Jesus, we need to grow in our faith. We need to be spiritually strengthened through prayer and fasting. We need to take the gospel to the world. And, we need to see the captives set free, demons cast out and the sick made whole. 

By: Kimberly Dirmann, district supervisor of the Southwest District

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is a freelance writer living in Long Beach, Calif.