Summary: “John answered saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’” Luke 3:16.

Today is the first Sunday in 2007 and what better way to begin it than with the Holy Spirit. We all need the Holy Spirit since we are spiritual beings and can only function when we are spiritually alive. Our spiritual life comes from the Holy Spirit and a person without the Holy Spirit is spiritually dead. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers the believer and without Him our lives would be empty and fulfil no meaningful purpose, least of all please God. Every believer needs the Holy Spirit. Christ does not want us to come to Him and continue leading a life of defeat and discouragement. He wants us to come to Him and lead His life and to enable us do this the Lord baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

Who is the Holy Spirit? Different people have different ideas of who the Holy Spirit is? The Bible, however, teaches that He is a person. Jesus spoke of Him as a Person saying in John 16:13 “However when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you unto all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come”. The Holy Spirit is not a force or a thing. He is a person and the Scriptures confirm this by the personal ways in which He responds and the personal things He does. The Bible also makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is God and we rightfully speak of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is seen in the attributes that are given to Him and which are without exception, the attributes of God. He is eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. We all need the Holy Spirit or our lives would have no meaning at all.

A life without the Holy Spirit can be likened to a television set or radio without connection to an energy source. They would be useless since you would not be able to watch or hear anything. The only purpose they could serve would be as mere decorations. There is a story of a young man, the only male in a family of seven, who left home to live on his own. The first thing he did was to buy a refrigerator and as a matter of habit got his mother and sisters to cook him all his favourite food to last him for the first week. The next morning he opened the fridge and was almost overcome by the smell as all the food had spoilt. He was really annoyed and called the store to complain. “Just open the door again and see whether the light comes on?” the store assistant asked politely. “No it does not” he angrily replied. “Put your ear up close to the fridge and tell me if you can hear the hum of the motor,” the assistant again asked politely? “No” he again replied angrily. “Go to the back and look for the cord and see if it’s plugged into the energy source?” The man realised he had not plugged in the cord and after a long pause he came back to the phone and said “considering the amount I paid for the fridge it should have worked anyway.” We were purchased at a very great price but without the Holy Spirit we can not do anything pleasing to God. What better time is there to be baptized with the Holy Spirit than this first Sunday in the year? All you need to do is to acknowledge Christ as Saviour and Lord. Today you can be saved and receive the Holy Spirit.

Only the Holy Spirit can make us Christ like. Just as Jesus Christ revealed God to us being the expression of God in human form so are we also to reveal Christ to others being the expression of Christ. Christ did not save us and then leave us alone as orphans. He gave us all that was necessary for a successful and victorious spiritual life. He gave us the Holy Spirit. It is only as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit that we will produce what our lives are supposed to produce, the nature and character of Christ. This is to fulfil the Covenant provisions of God in our lives. The Holy Spirit identifies us as the genuine children of God and makes His power and authority available to us. The Scriptures declare that He makes us one with Christ and all that was made available to Christ is made available to us. The Holy Spirit testifies that we are no longer our own but that Christ lives in us. This means that anyone contending with us is actually contending with God.

The Christian life is a supernatural life. It is the life of Christ lived out in every believer by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a blessing of the New Covenant sealed with the blood of Christ. God has given us all we need for a successful and abundant life. I once heard the story about 2 friends, one a minister and the other a rabbi. The rabbi was going through a time of worry and the minister wanting to help asked the reason of his worry. “You would not understand” said the rabbi “but the reason is that my only son has just become a Christian.” “O, I understand” said the minister “The same thing happened to God almighty.” “In that case what did God do about it?” asked the rabbi. The minister replied “He wrote a new Testament.” God’s covenant with us is an everlasting one sealed with the eternal blood of His Son Jesus Christ. We can only access the incredible provisions and blessings of this Covenant through the Holy Spirit.

God has redeemed us and put His stamp of ownership on us by baptizing us with the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit brings us into an intimate relationship with the Father and the Son and we are assured He will never leave or forsake us. He will always be with us and protect us no matter the situation or condition we find ourselves in. It is only the Holy Spirit who can reveal the wisdom of God and make us understand His revelations because He is God. He reveals to us who we are in Christ and how God sees us.

The Holy Spirit is necessary if we are to understand and do the will of God. Without the Holy Spirit we would never be able to understand the blessings in giving although the Scriptures are filled with examples for us. If God comes first in our lives should He also not come first in our giving? When we observe this principle we are blessed because what we do first always determines what happens afterwards. We see this in the presentation of the first fruits to the Lord. It ensures a successful harvest. We see this in the presentation of the tithes to the Lord. It ensures sufficiency. We also see this in giving the first hours of the day to the Lord. The Lord blesses our day and we are able to achieve what would otherwise be impossible. Martin Luther used to say that whenever he had a lot to do he would spend more time with the Lord at the beginning of the day. How should we begin this first Sunday of the year? The way we begin it will affect what happens throughout the year. Today on this first Sunday, Covenant Sunday, let us show our commitment to the Lord by making an offering that demonstrates we are in covenant with Him and that the first of what we receive belongs to Him. Let us allow the Holy Spirit speak to us what we have to give.

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land the first city God gave them was Jericho. The first fruits of the conquest, the spoils of war, belonged to God and Joshua 6:19 declared “But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” All that they took in that first victory was to be totally devoted to the Lord. This made it accursed to anyone who would take any of it. Afterwards whatever they took belonged to them – the principle of the first belonging to God. Achan, however, helped himself to what belonged to the Lord with disastrous consequences. They were defeated at Ai, a much smaller town than Jericho. What God has given us at the beginning of the year belongs to Him and we want to obey Him by bringing a special offering to Him today on this first Sunday of the year. This offering will bring a special harvest as it is in obedience to the Word of God. Only the Holy Spirit can make us understand and obey the Word of God and lead us into all the fullness of victorious and fruitful Christian living. The Lord wants all of us to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and all we need to do is to ask Him. Today on this first Sunday of the year let us ask the Lord to baptise us with the Holy Spirit. Amen!