Posts Tagged Matthew 3: 11

Fire

Matthew 3: 11

As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire? What does a person who has been baptized in fire look like? Why does the prophetic word teach that Jesus’ baptism is not only in the Holy Spirit but also in fire?

Many days when I sit down to write the Word of the Day I ask the Father, “What can I possibly write that will ignite people? What will awaken their former zeal?” Too many of us have fallen asleep in our faith. I preach to myself as well. Am I aglow with the Holy Spirit as I once was? I believe Jesus wants us baptized in fire so that we will burn with devotion and passion. I keep thinking of people who are “on fire” for God. Where has our passion gone? Have we abandoned our first love?

This verse always reminds me of Moses and the burning bush. The bush was not consumed. It wasn’t a natural fire, it was the Holy Spirit. It got Moses’ attention and he turned aside to observe it. That is exactly what I think the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire is supposed to do for us. We become those burning bushes which attract people. Look at this story more closely for a moment. “So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am,” (Exodus 3: 3 – 4). What an amazing encounter. Observe the dynamic though. The bush afire garnered Moses’ attention. When Moses took the time to turn aside and look at the bush, the next thing that happened is that God spoke to him. Wow!

We are to be those burning bushes. When we are on fire for God, people turn aside to attempt to discover what is so amazing. When they do, God speaks. We are called to be the catalyst though. When we burn brightly, people are drawn to God. I am concerned that our flames are beginning to go out. We just don’t seem to be red hot anymore. What does it take to get dying embers to burst into flame? Is it something I can give you? Is it something God needs to do? Is it something only you can do for yourself?

You have heard it said that Paul told Timothy, “Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands,” (2 Timothy 1: 6). This is from the King James Bible and it’s a good word. However, many other translations, reflect back to the fire that was to come to us through the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is how the Tree of Life version reads, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” The Passion version says, “I’m writing to encourage you to fan into a flame and rekindle the fire of the spiritual gift God imparted to you when I laid my hands upon you.” The fire and passion of Paul’s heart is heard in these words.

I wish I could lay hands on every single one of you and breathe upon the spiritual gift that has been imparted to you through Jesus’ baptism. However, I can’t, just as Paul couldn’t at the time he wrote to Timothy. We are going to have to fan the flames of the Spirit ourselves. I pray you become an inferno for God. I pray you and Jesus stir up those embers and rekindle the roaring fire you once were. And, if you have never been on fire for Jesus, if you have always been a bit lukewarm in your passion for Him, I pray right now, in the name of Jesus that the Holy Spirit touch you and love you into an unquenchable fire. Jesus, send your Spirit to breathe on each one of us. Refresh our anointing and our fire Lord. Amen!!

Living Water

John 7: 37 – 39

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

This verse is enlightening, and I believe it brings a certain amount of joy as well. It celebrates both Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What word jumps out at you from the passage? I am intrigued by the word “cried.”

As I read the gospels I perceive Jesus as very cool under fire. When put on the spot, he once simply knelt down and began to doodle in the dirt. This is not the person I think of “crying out.” It is no great leap to conjecture that this message was of keen importance to Jesus. Can you picture this scene? Apparently, everyone was seated because Jesus stood. They were feasting. Who was there? How many people do you reckon were gathered? In the midst of the feast Jesus stood up and cried out with a loud voice. Wow! That must have been a sight. One can certainly suppose that the message was vital for Jesus to interrupt the feast and to make such a spectacle of himself.

Interestingly enough, the message was not about salvation. It wasn’t even about sin. Why didn’t he jump up and say, “Come all you sinners. I will save your soul from eternity in hell.” That is what most of us would expect but only because we don’t know Jesus well enough. Jesus took care of the sin problem. He conquered hell. His real message is displayed in this cry. “Come to me all you who are thirsty. I will satisfy your thirst.”

How did Jesus plan to satisfy the deep and enduring thirsty within us? He already knew about the Father’s plan to send the Holy Spirit into the earth. God made the promise back in Joel 2: 28. Then John the Baptist revealed that Jesus would baptize us in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3: 11). Now, here, in the early chapters of John we discover that those who believe in Jesus were to receive the Spirit. Right before Jesus’ exit from planet earth he gathered his followers and advised them. He was passing the torch to all who would follow him. He told them not to leave Jerusalem “but to wait for what the Father had promised . . . for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 1: 4 – 5). Then Jesus was taken up in a cloud of glory. He was glorified in the earth and in heaven as his disciples watched.

So, Jesus’ essential message was come, receive the filling of the Holy Spirit so that you will never again thirst. The living water of the Holy Spirit is a river flowing in the spirit of those who ask and receive. The invitation was simple, “Come,” Jesus said. Anyone who is thirsty is invited to the well. As Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, he says also to you, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water,” (John 4: 10). Receive the living water. Be filled and satisfied.

Immersed

Acts 1: 4 – 5

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

John the Baptist was the voice crying out in the desert, “Prepare the way for the Lord,” (Matthew 3: 3). He announced the coming of the Messiah and prepared the way of his coming. “As for me,” he said, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire,” (Matthew 3: 11).

I don’t know if there is any more misunderstood spiritual directive in the whole Bible as this. I think it may be so challenging, in part at least, because there is nothing physical in this baptism. The practice of water baptism is easy to recognize and follow because there is a physical element involved. Whether a person is sprinkled, dunked or has a pail of water poured over them, we understand the principle involved.

This idea was baffling for the early church believers as well. Even John the Baptist said, “And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit,” (John 1: 33). John didn’t know exactly what to expect either, but he knew God had spoken about this new baptism and how to recognize he who would author it. As we see from this scripture, the first phase of this new paradigm was for Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit. God identified the Holy Spirit baptizer to John the Baptist as the one upon whom the Spirit remains.

Fast forward – Jesus has come, gone to the cross, was buried and arose. After his resurrection he appeared to his followers. After greeting them, “He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” (John 20: 22). Are some of the circles beginning to close for you? Jesus has taken us right back to breath. After this he appeared to them again and told them not to leave Jerusalem but rather to await for that which the Father promised. Then he spoke today’s verse. The Apostles were commanded to remain and receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

This baptism is recorded in Acts 2, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance,” (Acts 2: 1 – 4). Don’t you find this exciting? It makes me want to shout. Can you picture how elated the Apostles were that day?

This became the new normal for the Apostles. They now had a revelation of what was spoken in the earliest days of Jesus’ ministry. No longer was it theology for them. This baptism in the fire of the Holy Spirit became their reality. Later when Peter was called to minister to the Gentiles he saw the same outpouring of the Spirit on them whereupon he remarked, “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 11: 16).

I would fail you if I didn’t include the Apostle Paul. Paul came to understand this new baptism as well or better than anyone. In fact, if you run your search on the Spirit in the New Testament you will get a feel for how well acquainted with the Holy Spirit Paul was. Related to the Holy Spirit baptism, “He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying,” (Acts 19: 2 – 6).

Paul divulges that there is a new baptism, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a free gift from the Father. None the less, there appears to be something required of us. Otherwise, all of these faithful believers would have automatically received the gift when first they believed. When they heard from Paul about the baptism of Jesus in the Holy Spirit, they must have asked to receive the baptism right then because the next thing that happened is that Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them.

This baptism is for all of us too. Our Father promised thousands of years ago that He would pour out His Spirit to every person. No one is left out of the promise. John the Baptist came and prepared the way for Jesus proclaiming that Jesus would baptize us in the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus ushered in the Spirit saying, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth,” (John 14: 16). We know that Jesus does not lie and we have the evidence of Acts 2 that He and the Father have fulfilled their obligation. There is nothing left but for us to bathe ourselves in this anointing from God and be showered with the Holy Spirit of God.

Jesus’ Baptism

Matthew 3: 11

I baptize you with water for repentance but after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

It is a new year and with the new year, hope springs eternal. I pray that you have great expectations for this year. I pray that you are looking for new revelation and new challenge. There is something fresh and optimistic about the beginning of a new year. Let’s pray together that we can challenge our assumptions and reach for the fresh new revelation that the Lord has for us this year.

Today’s verse represents one of those areas where we may challenge ourselves and perhaps open the door for new insight into the Lord Jesus and his hopes for our lives. John the Baptist was speaking. He spoke about his ministry and about the one who was to come after him, namely Jesus. Each, it would appear, has a baptism ministry. John’s baptism was of water and that baptism was for repentance. Most of us are familiar with water baptism. In fact, most readers of this devotional have been baptized in a water baptism. The curious part of the verse is John’s description of Jesus’ ministry of baptism. He revealed that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. What does that mean? Honestly, we are much more familiar with John’s baptism than we are with Jesus’. There is something in that truth that rankles. Since Jesus is our Lord, it seems we should be more familiar with his baptism.

I am not going to suggest what I believe it means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire. Instead, I wish to offer this inquiry to you. This question can be our journey for the year. Each verse we read, each devotion may lead us into a deeper revelation of what John meant. Every word Jesus spoke may give us a glimmer into what it means to live in this baptism from Jesus. Each revelation from Paul and the other writers of the New Testament reflects on the ministry of Jesus even as the entire Old Testament was a prophetic forecast of the coming Messiah. My point is this, Jesus ministry is revealed in every Word from God. Every revelation since the beginning of time was intended to reveal the Messiah. Since the Messiah came to earth for the benefit of humanity, then each of these revelations was for the betterment of our lives.

I offer this question to you then, what is this baptism of Jesus? What is the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire and what was it intended to accomplish in our lives? The Messiah is come. In his wake is a plethora of gifts and anointing and revelation. What will Jesus show us this year about himself? What does he long for us to understand? Have great expectations and allow the Lord, our Christ and friend, to fill you this year with more of himself.

Doubt Arises

Matthew 11: 3

“Are you the expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”

In Matthew 3, verse 11, are recorded the words of John the Baptist when he prophesied about the coming of Jesus. John said, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Then when Jesus did come, he (Jesus) went down to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. John at first refused Jesus saying to him to him, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” Matthew 3: 14. John knew who was coming before Jesus began his ministry. He knew the Holy One was on his way. Then when Jesus did appear to him, he recognized Jesus and who he was; as the one who was to come. He knew this was the one about whom so many prophecies had been made and he wanted Jesus to baptize him instead of the other way around.

It is one thing to believe and have faith and then it is another to keep believing and keep having faith. It can be hard to keep on believing when the pressure of the world starts bearing in on you. Would anyone think that John the Baptist, the one about whom Jesus said, “[T]here has not arisen anyone greater,” (Matthew 11: 11) could fall into doubt? And yet that is exactly what happened. Today’s text is what John the Baptist later asked Jesus via John’s disciples.

You see, John the Baptist had faith in Jesus until he found himself in jail. Now all of a sudden, things were not going to well. John began to look at the conditions around himself instead of at the Word of God which was in his heart. John was trying to use his eyes to convince his faith. Instead he should have been using his faith to convince his mind. He expected Jesus to build a kingdom on this earth. When he did not see this kingdom unfolding the way he expected it to, he began to lose his faith; to have doubts. 

Many times God will not do things the way we expect him to. That does not mean that he is not building his kingdom or that he is not fulfilling his promises. You cannot look around you for verification and then choose to believe God. It happens just the other way around. Do not use your eyes. Use your heart. That is where you plant the Word of God and you believe from your heart no matter what your eyes tell you. Then, when you have believed with your heart, you will see God’s victory coming into your life. Do not let doubt arise. Keep it down and your faith up.