I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” Matthew 3:11-12
Gift giving is a gift from God. The Word explains all good gifts come directly from God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) The best gift givers try to emulate the heart of God. But even the greatest gift givers cannot out give God!
When I was a child, it brought such joy to make special occasion cards for my parents. I poured all my love into each caption and character. The anticipation of their opening and reading the finely crafted homemade specialty card was almost overwhelming! While hardly a gifted artist, I gave every ounce of energy to perfecting my feelings, anything to express the depth of my love. My Dad always laughed out loud while reading the cards. He told me what a kick he got out of each one. That was his way of saying, “I liked it, well done!” It was a special connection, from my heart to my father’s heart.
After a series of hard knocks, health problems, and heart aches, the Heavenly Father sent His special servant to share His love, from His heart to mine. It was the love of Jesus! The Holy Spirit filled me from the top of my head to the soles of my feet; it is the best gift this side of heaven! 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “We have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.” When we accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is a gift given to each who make Jesus Lord of their life.
As a matter of fact, all four gospels write about the Holy Spirit!
When I was a struggling single Mom raising four children, working four part-time jobs, there was rarely any balance on my balance sheet. Even with sparse funds, I knew it was my responsibility to teach my children to be gift givers. My children would help make cookies, brownies, and rice crispy treats for friends, teachers, and family, as our way of showing they were appreciated! This is the one of my fondest memories with my children. People remember a person showing them gratitude and kindness.
God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, so we do not have to be alone. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus and preached that people be baptized to show they had repented from their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” (John 1:32-34)
In Acts 2:37-39 Peter describes this baptism. Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”
There is no such thing as a Christian who does not have the Holy Spirit. This is the seal of our salvation and the gift that keeps on giving. It is not a one-time gift that you open and forget about. It is your daily companion, serving as your comforter, while helping preserve you in times of wobbly knee temptation.
Holy Spirit sustenance is explained in Ephesians 5:15-20, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So how do we express our gratitude for the gift God has given? By loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself. According to Jesus there are no greater commandments than these. I believe He meant “all people,” not just those who do not annoy us, and I believe He meant “all the time,” not just when it is convenient, and not just on Sunday.
But our world is so messed up, what are we to do? If we can sacrificially give our lives to God, love Him and His people, the Holy Spirit will do the rest! And then at the end of it all, by God’s grace, perhaps Our Father will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”