A Cracked Cup


Fifty years ago, my great aunt gave me a wedding shower gift of a cup and saucer that had belonged to her. She mailed it to my cousin who was hosting the bridal party. When my cousin
got it, it was broken. Not wanting me to receive a broken gift, my cousin glued it back together. She did a good job. Although I can tell where the glue has mended the broken pieces, it is still beautiful.

We can learn several lessons from this cup.

First, the cup was broken. When the cup was mailed, it was perfect. As it traveled from California to Nebraska via the mail system, it cracked. It broke while being bounced from one location to another.

A similar thing can happen to us. God created us in His image. He is perfect. However, we are not perfect. While on life’s journey, we are bounced around and broken. Our brokenness includes our imperfections, wounds, mistakes, and shortcomings. But we must not be discouraged. Jesus says in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

James 1:2-4 tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

There is hope for us even though we may compare ourselves to a broken cup.

Secondly, the cup was repaired. My cousin repaired the cup before I received it. She glued it back together.

God is our glue! When we feel broken, the Lord is willing to heal us. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Not only is the Lord close to us in our brokenness, He also offers healing. Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

In the New Testament, Jesus declares to be the healer of brokenness. While in the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2. Within the verse of Luke 4:18, Jesus declares, “The Spirit of the is Lord is upon Me,… He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted.” Just as my cousin glued my cup back together, the Lord heals the brokenhearted through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Third, the cup still has the potential to leak. At first glance, my cup looks good. However, I do not drink coffee or tea from it because I am afraid that the weak spots may leak. The cup may crack more if hot liquid is poured into it.

Although the Lord is able to mend our weaknesses, we may not feel strong enough to never crack under pressure or stressful situations. We leak! We need to be refilled with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus assures us in John 14:16 NASB, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.The Holy Spirit will glue us back together and fill us with His presence. If we allow His presence to seep through our imperfections, He will repeatedly fill us. Acts 13:62 NASB says, “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”

It has been 50 years since I received the gift of this cup and saucer. Currently, it is displayed in our china cabinet. As we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, this cup still has a message for me regarding our marriage. Like the cup and saucer, our marriage has encountered a few cracks over the years. However, God has always been faithful to mend the broken pieces. My great aunt sent me more than a gift. She sent me a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” As the third cord of our marriage, the Lord has allowed us to stick together as one.

I am reminded of the chorus of Fill My Cup, Lord  by Richard Blanchard

Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up, Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting in my soul.
Bread of Heaven feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.

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Rainbows and Bows


A rainbow is beautiful. Stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet bend to form a bow, or arc, of refracted light. A rainbow is born when sunlight and water droplets unite. After a rainstorm, water drops remain in the atmosphere. The sun shines on these droplets causing them to act as prisms reflecting and refracting the light within the water. A rainbow is most brilliant when seen against the backdrop of a dark sky immediately after a storm.

The Hebrew word for rainbow is the same word for bow describing a war weapon. I sense a spiritual connection between a rainbow in the sky and a bow as a weapon of war. Let me present a picturesque possibility.

God created. Mankind sinned. Spiritual darkness invaded the earth. God fought a war against the waywardness and wickedness of mankind. A storm brewed in the heavens. The clouds became God’s chariot and He rode upon the wings of the wind. His weapon was a spiritual bow. Arrows of lightning flashed and thunder resounded. While flooding the earth with water, God cleansed it of all unrighteousness. God won the war. The Son of God then displayed an array of brilliant beauty. Rays of color – red, orange, yellow etc. Rays of character – mercy, grace, love etc. God placed a rainbow in the sky – a sign of victory and a symbol of promise.

The Significance of the Rainbow

Genesis 9:13 is the first scriptural reference to a rainbow. The New International Version says, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” The New American Standard Version uses the words, “I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.”

God judged sin by sending a great flood. Afterwards, He promised Noah that He would never judge the world again in this way. The rainbow became an everlasting sign of God’s forgiveness and covenant of mercy.

In Genesis 9:15-17 God says, “and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.’”

In Daily Fire Devotional: 365 Days in God’s Word, Reinhard Bonnke describes the rainbow as a weapon spanning the whole horizon. He says, “What mighty arrows it (the bow) must shoot when God goes into battle against the devil!…The rainbow is not a mere phenomenon of natural beauty, but a divine reminder of God’s archery.”

God’s bow, or rainbow, is a permanent display of His goodness. It reminds us of what God has done in the past. It is a promise of what He will do in the future. And, it reveals His faithfulness to us today.

Natural vs Supernatural Bows

Let’s make a comparison between the weapons used in military battles versus those in spiritual battles. Bows can represent any type of ammunition used in worldly wars. Significant advancements have been made in weaponry since men fought with bows and arrows centuries ago.

In biblical times, bows and arrows were considered symbols of strength. However, they are not effective when fighting spiritual battles. Psalm 44:6-7 declares, “For I will not trust in my bow, nor will my sword save me. But You (God) have saved us from our adversaries, and You have put to shame those who hate us.”

In I Samuel 17:45, David says to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty.” David again reveals how he fights battles in Psalm 20:7, “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.

Paul describes a believer’s weapon in II Corinthians 6:7, “We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.”

Specific Spiritual Bows

As believers, we fight spiritual battles in a unique way. II Corinthians 10:3-4 says, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We fight to destroy arguments that come against the knowledge of God.” According to II Corinthians 10:5-6, we fight by taking our thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ.

Paul says in Ephesians 6:11-13, ““Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” He then describes our armor in Ephesians 6:14-17 as a belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, a shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.

We do not fight spiritual battles with physical bows. Instead, we fight with God’s bow – His Word. The arrows are specific scriptural promises that can hit the target’s bullseye. Let me share a few verses that will help us achieve victory.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed,
for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified
because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;
And every tongue that accuses you in judgment
you will condemn.

Isaiah 54:17 NASV

He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be
free from all blame on the day when our
Lord Jesus
Christ returns.
I Corinthians 1:8-9 NLT

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

Rainbows: First and Last

We referred to rainbows in the first book of the Bible (Genesis). However, they are also mentioned in the last book of the Bible (Revelation) with a couple of references in the middle (Ezekiel). A rainbow is more than a trick of light and water. It is a symbol of God’s promises. It also is a description of God’s divine glory. Ezekiel 1:28 says, “Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.

Revelation 4:3 says, “And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.” Revelation 10:1 says, “Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.

A visible rainbow is awe-inspiring. As we gaze upon it, may we see the rainbow as a God ordained symbol of His mercy and faithfulness. Let us rejoice in rainbows! 

Overshadowed by a Shadow


I decided to go for walk as it was a beautiful sunny morning. Since it was early, all was quiet and peaceful. I had time to notice what often goes unnoticed – like my shadow. My shadow was always before me. I could not catch up with it. My shadow was not behind me because of my position in relation to the sun. I thought about shadows. I thought about the shadow of the Lord. I thought about what it means to be overshadowed by the Lord.

According to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, overshadowed means to have a shadow over; to be surpassed; to be covered with a superior influence. A short definition is simply to be covered. I decided to search the scriptures for examples of people who were overshadowed or covered by the Lord.

MOSES

Moses was covered by God.

In Exodus 33, Moses and the Lord have a conversation about the Lord being with Moses while he led the Israelites towards the Promised land. In verse 18, Moses said, “Now show me Your glory.” The Lord responded in verses 18-20, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My name, the Lord, in your presence.” However, God also told Moses, you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live.” What happened? Exodus 33:21-23 says, There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.” During this time, Moses was overshadowed by the Lord.

Being overshadowed by the Lord assured Moses of God’s presence. Moses needed this confirmation before he led the Israelites to the Promised Land. We, too, must be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit to become confident of the Lord’s presence. Having this assurance, we will be able to lead others to a personal relationship with Jesus. We will have the privilege of leading people into the Land of Promises. The Promised Land of the Old Testament is a picture of the Land of Promises where believers live today.

Mary

Mary was covered by God.

In Luke 1, Mary has a conversation with an angel telling her that she would conceive a baby who would be called the Son of the Most High. In verse 34 Mary asks, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel responds in Luke 1:35, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”

Being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit made it possible for Mary to become pregnant with new life. Today, God desires to impregnate us with His plans and purposes. When we allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow us, He reveals His divine purposes and enlarges us with the gifts necessary to give birth to His plans for our lives.

Peter, James and John

Peter, James and John were covered by God.

In Matthew 17, Jesus and these 3 men climbed a mountain. While praying, Jesus’ appearance changed and they saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about His fulfillment of prophecy in the coming days. Matthew 17:24-25 says, “While He was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him.’’

This scriptural account is known as the Transfiguration. It involves spiritual overshadowing. First, the appearance of Jesus was transfigured, or changed. Then, the minds of these 3 men were transfigured, or transformed. Their minds were transformed and renewed with a new way of thinking. We also need a transfiguration experience to transform our way of thinking. Bill Johnson says in When Heaven Invades Earth that a renewing of the mind is needed for more miracles to occur. We need a new mind, a transfigured mind, to be able to think and expect God to move through miracles today. We must change our way of thinking. This is only possible when we are overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.

Having unpacked the experiences of these people who were overshadowed by the Lord, I desire the same privilege. I want to cry out as David did in Psalm 57:1, “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in You I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Being overshadowed by the Lord means I am covered by the Lord. Jesus says in John 14:16-17, “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, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” This is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. What a privilege for us to be overshadowed by the Lord!

I close with the words of Psalm 63:7, “Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings.

Bitter to Better


Imagine what would happen if I picked fresh fruit from a lemon tree, squeezed the lemon juice into a glass and took a big gulp. Oh-oh! My face would probably pucker. The lemony liquid would be so sour that I would have a bitter taste in my mouth. Quickly, I would add a big spoonful of sugar. Hoping for a more refreshing taste, I would take another sip. From sour to sweet. From bitter to better.

The process “from bitter to better” results in the pleasant drink of lemonade. The opposite happens for a woman in scripture. The process “from better to bitter” occurs for Naomi in the book of Ruth.

We first learn about Naomi when she and her family move from Bethlehem to Moab. While living there, her sons married Moabite women. Over time, Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Then she returned to Bethlehem with her daughter-in-law Ruth. She had no money and no male relative to provide for her. When she arrived, she requested to be called Mara. While Naomi meant pleasant, Mara meant bitter. Ruth 1:20-21 says, She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?’”

Subsequently, Ruth married a kinsman-redeemer named Boaz. According to Old Testament law, a kinsman-redeemer was a male relative who had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. Boaz was a kinsman who redeemed, or vindicated, the family of Naomi by marrying Ruth. He redeemed the family of the deceased Abimelech, Kilion and Mahlon.

Ruth had a son, Obed. According to custom, Naomi became the nurse of this baby boy. The women of the community exclaimed that Naomi was blessed. Ruth 4:14 says, “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!”

Naomi had a grandson. She had a family heritage. Obed is listed in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5. Any bitterness Naomi once experienced was turned into joy.

Naomi went from better to bitter – and back to better. God knew Naomi had encountered a hard life and understood why she felt like Mara. However, He added sweetness to her bitterness. He revealed a kinsman-redeemer named Boaz.

God knows we will encounter difficulties that may cause us to become bitter. God provides us with a kinsman-redeemer named Jesus. Colossians 1:13-14 says, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. With the help of Jesus, we can become better rather than bitter.

Romans 8:5-6 says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” There are numerous reasons why we may feel bitter. Unforgiveness can ferment within one’s heart resulting in a bitter feeling. Discouragement can settle into bitterness. Telling a lie can leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth. If we focus upon a fleshly attitude, we will become bitter. If we concentrate on the Spirit, we will become better. We become pleasant as the name Naomi implies.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.“All things” means everything. With God’s help, we can learn from our mistakes and become better rather than bitter. Romans 8:29 goes on to say that God uses everything that happens to conform us into the image of His Son. Jesus was never bitter while living on earth.

With God’s help, there is no good reason for us to be bitter. Romans 8:31-35 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

With God’s help, we can be better. Romans 8:37-29 tells us, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Why be bitter? We can be better when the Holy Spirit is our helper.

Although Naomi had been bitter, she changed for the better when Boaz became the kinsman-redeemer of her family. From bitter to better – from Mara to Naomi. Jesus is our savior, our kinsman-redeemer, who changes us from bitter to better. Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.” Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (my emphasis)

II Corinthians 5:17 say, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!The new is better – no longer bitter.

Naomi’s story reveals the changes in her personality from pleasant to bitter to better caused by her circumstances. It is interesting to note that the people of Bethlehem never followed Naomi’s request to call her Mara. She is always known as Naomi throughout the book. To the people of her heritage, she was always considered pleasant. They saw her as God saw her. I am glad God intervened in her life allowing her to become the woman He wanted her to be.

We have all heard the proverbial quote, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Naomi was given a bitter lemon. With God’s help, the sweetness of a kinsman-redeemer became part of her life. In her old age, she drank lemonade.

My Reader, what is happening for you today? Do you feel bitter? Do you want to feel better? Psalm 119: 103 says, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Through His Word, God adds sugar to our bitter lemons. When we say yes to God, the Holy Spirit reveals His will through His Word making the bitter circumstances of our lives sweet. Drink the sweetness of His Word! Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” Be refreshed with a glass of spiritual lemonade.

Mercy Drops

I woke up this morning having an old-fashioned hymn fest with the Lord. The first song in my heart was There Shall Be Showers of Blessing  by Daniel W. Whittle. The words of the chorus are:

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy drops ‘round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

Our summer has been very dry and we need rain. We want rain showers – not just a few sprinkles. However, when we get only a few raindrops, I visualize the blades of grass lifting their thirsty heads and licking each little moisture droplet possible.

We have a similar spiritual desire. We want all the big blessings that the Lord can provide. This is not wrong, but we also need to be thankful for the mercy He drops into our lives. Don’t wait for the big spiritual rains. Receive the mercy drops with thanksgiving. In time, droplets become showers. A rain often begins with a few sprinkles that evolve into more abundant showers. Let us drink deeply the mercy drops the Lord extends. Great things have small beginnings.

My thankfulness for the mercy drops, brought another hymn to mind, The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases by Edith McNeill. The refrain proclaims:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
Your mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning,
new every morning:
great is your faithfulness, O Lord,
great is your faithfulness!

I love this promise! God’s mercy drops will never cease to rain down on our lives. No wonder I woke up singing about His mercy! Our God is faithful to provide what we need to accomplish His plans and purposes for us each day.

Although nature’s cycles of rain and drought come and go, we can always depend upon God to provide the spiritual moisture we need to grow in Him. Sometimes His provision comes in droplets of mercy and other times our souls are flooded with abundant blessings.

Receive the following mercy drops found in God’s Word.

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, and abundant in mercy.
Psalm 103:8 NKJV

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
I Peter 1:3

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence
, so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
from generation to generation.
Luke 1:50

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Matthew 5:6 NKJV

O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good;
for His mercy endures for ever.
Psalm 136:1

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
Jude 1:2

Water Experiences


It is summertime and many are enjoying water time. This may include swimming, boating or just relaxing on the beach.

Water had great significance for the Israelites. However, their experiences involved more than recreation and relaxation. The Red Sea and the Jordan River are two bodies of water where they encountered miracles.

The Red Sea

In Exodus 14 we read about the people of Israel crossing the Red Sea. When Moses raised his staff and stretched out his hand, the water was divided by a strong wind. The land dried and the Israelites didn’t even get their feet muddy as they walked across the water-bed. There were Egyptians following them. These men drowned in the waters when Moses again stretched out his hand. It was impossible for the Egyptians to swim across the sea.

The miracle at the Red Sea was God’s final act in delivering His people from Egyptian slavery. The exodus from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea was the greatest Old Testament act of salvation. It showed God’s saving power.

Historical records document the Israelites’ exit from Egypt. However, their departure also has prophetic significance. Physically, the escape freed God’s people from Egyptian slavery. It also points to the greater spiritual truth of God redeeming His people from slavery to sin through His Son, Jesus. John 8:34, 36 says, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Passing through the Red Sea is symbolic of the believer’s identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 10:1-4 says, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

In When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson reiterates that the people of Israel going through the Red Sea was the baptism of Moses. He then relates our water baptism after conversion to  the Israelites’ experience. For everyone involved, going through the waters is a departure from sin.

The Jordan River

Forty years later, the Israelites find themselves at the edge of another body of water. Once again, it is not a relaxing day at the beach. Joshua 3-4 tells the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. They walked, not swam, from shore to shore. Like at the Red Sea, God parted the waters of the Jordan River. This crossing was the momentous occasion that concluded the Israelites’ wilderness period. It was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Bill Johnson describes the crossing of the Jordan River as a new baptism. While the baptism at the Red Sea symbolized a departure from sin, the baptism at the Jordan River was a baptism into a new way of living. For the Israelites, this meant they would fight battles differently. Previously, they physically fought and won battles. Now, God would fight for them. II Chronicles 20:15 says, “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” Zechariah 4:6 says, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

Bill Johnson compares the Israelites’ baptism in the Jordan River to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He writes, “The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the Old Testament picture of entering the Promised Land.” He goes on to say, “Suppose the children of Israel had chosen to cross the Jordan but became content to live on the banks of the river. They would have missed the purpose for crossing the river in the first place. There were nations to destroy and cities to possess. Contentment short of God’s purposes would mean learning to live with the enemy. That is what it is like when a believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit but never goes beyond speaking in tongues….There is power that has been given to us that we might dispossess the strongholds of hell and take possession for the glory of God.”

When we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we begin a new way of living. In Matthew 19:26 NLT Jesus says, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Then He goes on to say in John 15:26 NAS, But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” We see this promise fulfilled when Paul says in Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

The Red Sea and the Jordan River

Joshua 4:23-24 connects the two water events of the Red Sea and the Jordan River. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

The Old Testament prepares the way for the New Testament. So, I wonder if John the Baptist thought about the Israelites crossing these two bodies of water when he spoke of two baptisms. Matthew 3:11 says. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This is what occurred on Pentecost. Acts 2:2-4 says, “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.”

The people of Israel crossed the Red Sea – a story of salvation. They crossed the Jordan River – a story of Spirit-filled living. As believers, we can be water baptized – our story of salvation. We can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit – our story of Spirit-filled living. God worked miracles for the Israelites and He still is our miracle-working God.

The people of Israel did not have to get wet when they arrived at the water’s edge. God rolled back the waters so they could walk on dry ground. May their experiences remind us of what God wants to do for us. He does not want us to drown in disappointment and despair. Let us remember that water offers us more than summertime rest and relaxation. Be refreshed spiritually and physically.

Resources:
https://www.gotquestions.org/parting-Red-Sea.html
https://www.gotquestions.org/Jordan-crossing.html
When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson

 

Singing about America’s Independence

The United States of America!
Independence Day – Fourth of July

This is the day that we, as Americans, celebrate the birth of our nation. Please
join me in reflecting upon the words of the first verse of the patriotic song,
My Country ‘Tis of Thee by Samuel Francis Smith. It is also known as America.
Additional comments are taken from various historical writings and records.

My country, ’tis of thee,
(“one nation under God…” from our Pledge of Allegiance)

Sweet land of liberty,
(“…with liberty and justice for all.” from our Pledge of Allegiance)

Of thee I sing;
(While singing this patriotic song, let us also sing praises to God
as stated in Psalm 117:1 NLT, “
Praise the LORD, all you nations.
Praise him, all you people of the earth
.”)

Land where my fathers died,
(“We have come to dedicate a portion of that field,
as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that
that nation might live
.” from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address)

Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
(According to Wikipedia, a pilgrim is a traveler who comes from
afar and
is on a journey to a holy place. In American history,
the Pilgrims were early European settlers of the Plymouth Colony.)

From ev’ry mountainside
(This refers to all the landscape of our nation including the
Allegheny Mountains of the east and the Rocky Mountains of the west,)
Let freedom ring!
(Lincoln’s concluding remarks of the Gettysburg Address state,
“… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died
in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth
of freedom — and that government of the people,
by the
people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth
.”
The freedoms of religion, speech and press are specifically
stated in the
Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments
to the United States Constitution.
)

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images. Other images provided by Pixabay.)