Daily Devotion: Baptized with Fire

At times, the work and role of the Holy Spirit is mysterious in the life of the believer. Because of the mystery involved, we often neglect or fail to grasp the magnitude of what it means that the Spirit of God has indwelt us as believers. For various reasons, some churches are a bit “light” on teaching about the Spirit while of those that place more of an emphasis on the Spirit some misrepresent the work and expression of the Spirit.

This devotional will not be exhaustive or conclusive. I have much to learn about this topic and even if I knew more could not hope to synthesize it in a few hundred words. My hope here is to point us to a few scriptures about the Holy Spirit that will begin to help us grow in our understanding of this marvelous mystery.

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” – Matthew 3:1-6

 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Matthew 3:11

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Daily Devotion: The beginning of the Good News

“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way’—
‘a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.”

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 1:1-8

John the Baptist’s message that the Messiah was coming was the beginning of the good news about Jesus. The good news starts with the promise of salvation. The fact that Jesus was coming to rescue His people. God’s promise of salvation is first seen in Genesis 3:14-15 immediately after the fall and is contained throughout the Old Testament in prophecies and stories.

John prepares the people for Jesus by making them aware of their need for repentance and forgiveness. John’s ministry was to “prepare the way for the Lord”. His message opens the eyes of the people to their situation, that they are stained by sin and far from being righteous before God. They are baptized in the waters of the Jordan River, symbolizing repentance from their sin, but the reality is that they need far more than just an acknowledgement of their sin. They need a savior who not only makes them aware of their sin, but deals with it permanently and is able to make them righteous before God. They need to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, not just physical water.

The good news now is that He has come. He has dealt with sin permanently through His death and resurrection and He has made a way for us to be perfectly righteous before God. This is the story that the gospels tell, this is the good news that they bring. What has been hoped for and longed for through the centuries has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

After Paul is arrested, he gives a defense of his faith before King Agrippa, Bernice, Festus and many other high-ranking officials and prominent citizens (Acts 25:23). During his defense he makes these statements in regards to Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament.

“And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night.” – Acts 26:6-7a

“But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” – Acts – 26:22-23

The hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ develops throughout the Bible. It begins with the good news that the Messiah is coming. Then it tells the story of how He came and what He did to work our salvation. Now we tell the good news of both the hope that is fulfilled in Jesus and the truth that He is coming again.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” – John 14:3

He is coming. He is here. He will come again.

Daily Devotion: Eating and Drinking

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” – Matthew 11:18-19

In this passage Jesus is rebuking those that have ignored or dismissed God by discrediting those He sent (John the Baptist and Jesus). Jesus points out that though He and John had very different lifestyles those that did not want to believe found something wrong with both.

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Daily Devotion: Zechariah and Elizabeth

“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.” – Luke 1:5-7

Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous in the sight of God” and yet the blessing of children had been withheld from them. From Elizabeth’s later statements in verse 25, we can see that she had felt disgraced “among the people” for being unable to have children. Not only was it a personal desire that had gone unfulfilled for a long time, but it was also a cultural mark of honor that they lacked. Their personal heartache was on display for the entire community.

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