This quarter, we focus on the baptism with the Holy Spirit in our weekly devotional series. This week's devotional comes from Matt. 25 - Mark 3.
I still remember my last Sunday in the church where I was saved. It was a Hawaiian language congregational church, not a Foursquare church.
About a month after I was baptized with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues, I was preaching from 1 John 2:27. My heart was troubled by our church’s teaching that the white robe I wore when I preached constituted my “anointing.” Overcome by a fear of betraying the Holy Spirit, I removed the white robe and continued to preach.
Then, feeling led by the Holy Spirit, I stopped preaching, left the pulpit and walked down the aisle to pray for an elderly man in a wheelchair. I laid hands on him, prayed and turned to walk back to the pulpit to finish the sermon.
He got up out of his wheelchair and began to walk down the aisle after me!
The man’s family pushed him back into the wheelchair, quickly loaded him into the family car and drove away. I remember hearing gravel fly as they left the church parking lot.
Within a week, I was asked to leave the church. I was hurt and confused by these events, though I came to realize my own lack of love and self-control had caused me to act impulsively, which angered the church members. I struggled with my faith and relationship with other believers for five years until I found my way to Ralph Moore’s church in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
The writers of the Gospels were consistent in their descriptions of Jesus’ experience with Holy Spirit baptism and the way in which Jesus ministered the power of the Holy Spirit. As we’ll read this week in Mark 3, the religious leaders of Jesus' day were confused about the source of God’s grace and truth in Jesus’ earthly ministry.
In the life of Christ, the “power of God” needed to be expressed out of love for Father God and neighbor, with the gifts of the Holy Spirit operating according to the sophronismos (2 Tim. 1:7), often translated “self-control” or “self-discipline.”
When people challenged His calling or authority to minister, Jesus responded with a love and self-control that could only come from the Holy Spirit. His words, works and relationships were all characterized by love and self-control—true evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit working in His life.
His disciples needed to learn this lesson, perhaps especially James and John the sons of Zebedee, whom Jesus called “the Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17).
We need to learn this lesson, as well. As we pray daily for the filling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, may we receive not just His power to be witnesses, but also may we receive His love and self-control to resemble and represent Christ in our words, works and relationships.