March 5, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from March 5-11 are provided by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S. F.  Mark, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), has been married to Mira for 20 years; they have two children, Jeremiah and Carissa.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Mark 1:1-8 (ESV)

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 

The Gospel of Mark opens with John the Baptist’s acknowledgment of the superiority of Jesus’ ministry, based on one very important distinction—the nature of their baptisms.  We read that while John baptized his followers in water, Jesus came to baptize His disciples in the Holy Spirit.  John clearly saw the limitation of his own ministry, and in this passage he talks about the fact that his own work is limited to baptism by water.

Now, water serves as the symbol of cleansing and the forgiveness of sin, but in reality, water does nothing more than cleanse the outside of your body.  No matter how refreshed you may feel after a shower, no one thinks that water has the capacity to cleanse the heart or renew the soul.  I remember talking with a PhD student who marveled at the unique properties of water.  (It is the only substance that is lighter in its solid form than in its liquid form, which allows for life on earth.)  Admittedly, water is amazing and it sustains physical life, but it cannot do the one thing that is most important for you and me: it cannot give life to the soul.

It should be noted that the first activity that is identified with Jesus—the distinguishing mark of His ministry—is the fact that He is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit.  And it is this baptism in the Holy Spirit that unlocks the door to living more powerfully for God.  Dwight L. Moody, the great American evangelist, speaks about his experience with the Holy Spirit in his memoirs.  In the summer of 1871, two women in his congregation felt a burden to pray for Moody “that the Lord would give him the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire.”  Every Sunday, he would see them praying in the front row, and at first, he was irritated.  Eventually, realizing he had no power behind his preaching, he decided to join them in prayer every Friday afternoon.  In November of that year, when his church burned down to the ground, he went to New York to raise funds to rebuild his church.  Day and night, he wandered the streets of the city, desperate for just a touch of God’s power in his life.

Then suddenly it happened.  Moody explained: “One day, in the city of New York—oh, what a day!—I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name . . . I can only say that God revealed himself to me, and I had such an experience of his love that I had to ask him to withhold his hand.”  From that day on, Moody would confess that though he did not present any new truths, for some reason hundreds were converted in response to his preaching.  The message was the same, but the power behind the man had changed completely.  In the same way, the Holy Spirit is the only way that you and I can ever hope to live boldly and courageously for God.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live in the power of Your Holy Spirit.  If there is anything that is hindering the Spirit’s work in my life, I pray that it would be revealed to me.  If there is any sin that is grieving Your Spirit, help me to come to a place of repentance.  Teach me how to live according to Your Spirit and to be filled continually by His presence. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Joshua 21


Lunch Break Study

Read John 16:7-15 (ESV): Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why was it good that Jesus left the disciples after the resurrection?
  2. What will the Holy Spirit convict the world of?
  3. What does the Holy Spirit teach believers?

Notes

  1. Because upon His ascension, Jesus was free to send the Holy Spirit. Now the ministry of Christ was no longer bound by His bodily limits but available to spread freely through all those who believed in His name.
  2. One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. First, the Spirit reveals the sin of unbelief and convicts the human conscience of its rejection of Christ.  Second, the Spirit directs the world to a righteousness that can only be secured through the finished work of Christ.  Finally, the Holy Spirit declares to the world the victory of Christ over Satan.
  3. The Holy Spirit leads believers in the truth that is taught by the Father and the Son. The Spirit does not teach based on His own authority, but what has been given to Him by the Son.  In essence, the ministry of the Spirit points believers to Christ and connects them to their Savior.

Evening Reflection

Take time in worship and prayer, asking the Lord to fill you with His Spirit.  How has the Holy Spirit been moving in your life recently?  What conviction or revelation have you experienced as a result of seeking the Lord?

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