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

 

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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.)

Humility in Humanity


Humility is often a misunderstood word.

Although humility can be defined as the absence of pride, there is more involved. Doug Britton writes, “God says when you are humble, you are free from pride and arrogance. You know that in your flesh you are inadequate, yet you also know who you are in Christ.We walk humbly in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own strength.

Rick Warren has said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” God created us for a purpose. He believes that we are able to fulfill His plans.  We must not humiliate ourselves by lowering God’s expectations of us.

Proverbs 29:23 says, “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.” Humility is a virtue. Pride is not so virtuous.

I like the promise of Psalm 149:4, “the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”

Mary, the mother Jesus, and Jesus are two examples of strong, yet humble, individuals.

MARY
46And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord,
47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

52“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
Luke 1:46-
48, 52

Mary was a humble young woman. She humbly responded to the angel’s message when she was told that she would become the Messiah’s mother. She exalts the Lord rather than herself in verse 46. In verse 48, she describes herself as God’s bondslave. Verse 52 notes a contrast between humility and pride. God chose Mary to be the mother of His Son because He knew she would responsibly fulfill this role. A woman full of pride would not have had room for Jesus in her heart.

Look again at the second part of verse 48. When Mary proclaimed she would be considered blessed, some might think she was being prideful. However, I like a comment made in the Life Application Bible. “If Mary had refused her incredible position, she would have been throwing God’s blessing back at Him. Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done. Don’t deny, belittle, or ignore your gifts.This is a good admonition for us today.

Proverbs 3:34 GNT says, He (God) has no use for conceited people, but shows favor to those who are humble.” Mary found favor with God. Humility is the antithesis of pride. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

JESUS
6who, being in very nature God, did not consider
equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature
of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8And being found in the appearance of a man, he humbled
himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:6-8

These verses describe Jesus’ mindset while living on earth. He could have been prideful as the son of God. However, according to verse 6, He put aside His nature as God when He came in human likeness. Mary described herself as a bondslave. Jesus took on the nature of a bondslave in verse 7. In verse 8, He was humble and obedient when dying on the cross. Through His attitude and actions, He fulfilled God’s purpose. Mary was humbled to give birth. Jesus was humbled to die.

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus tells us, “…learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” We learn humility when we follow Jesus’ example.

In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul states, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” If we are humble, we will not be selfish. We will compassionately care about others. Romans 12:3 says, Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.”

Proverbs 11:2 says, “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Another scripture to consider is Luke 14:11, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Godly humility is being comfortable with who we are in Christ. When we are humble, we realize we need God’s help. I Peter 5:5 exhorts us, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humility is a valuable virtue.

A Treasure Hunt


Please join me on a treasure hunt. The Bible will be our map. We are going to look for meaningful and valuable spiritual treasures hidden in the scriptures.

for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21

As we begin our hunt for treasure, we must look into our hearts. The kind of treasure we will seek is determined by our heart’s condition. Romans 10:10 says, “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

In the account of Jesus birth, Luke 2:19 says, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Giving birth to God’s son, being in a stable surrounded by animals, having shepherds come visit – so many things for a new mom to think about! Yet, Mary treasured all these things because they were part of God’s plan. She placed a high value upon these experiences. Her heart was full of love. Jesus was her treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.
Matt 13:44

Let’s dig for a hidden treasure in the first gospel of our Biblical map. Matthew says God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field. Paul alludes to hidden treasure when he writes about a hidden message. He says in
Colossians 1:26 NLT, This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.” Paul is referring to the glory of Christ as a once hidden treasure that we can now find. Matthew 6:33  says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. I think we have found a piece of our treasure. 

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden wealth of secret places
Isaiah 45:3

Treasures of darkness do not sound like the kind of treasures we want to find. However, we must not be too quick to discard dark times.

In Jesus Always, Sarah Young writes about treasures of darkness. Hear Jesus speak the following words through her writings. “Look for Me in the hard places of your life…. I am tenderly present in the difficulties,… your problems are fertile soil for growing in grace and encountering My loving Presence in greater depth and breadth. Watch for Me in dark times – both past and present. Invite Me into those broken places, and cooperate with Me in putting the fragments back together in new ways…. Against the backdrop of adversity, the Light of My Presence shines in transcendent radiance.”

The last part of Isaiah 45:3 promises hidden wealth in secret places. Even in dark places we can find treasures. Jesus, who is the light of the world, shines His light into our dark experiences helping us find unseen riches.

Discovering Jesus’ presence is a valuable treasure. Sometimes it is easier to find Jesus in the dark places than in the light. Daniel 2:22 says, “He (God) reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.”

He (the Lord) will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.
Isaiah 33:6

I Corinthians 3:11 confirms the words of Isaiah, For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” While digging deeply to lay the foundation of our lives, we find treasure. Our treasure hunt reveals riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge – not riches of gold and silver. We discover a reverential fear and awe of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our treasure!

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary,
and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Then they opened their treasures and presented him
with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11

While on their treasure hunt, the Magi followed a star. When they found Jesus, they found the perfect treasure. Jesus was more precious than the treasures they brought with them. Like the Magi, we may be required to lay down our earthly treasures to find Jesus, our eternal treasure.

I Peter 1:7 NKJV says, “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Eternal treasure has a higher value than earthly treasure.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show
that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
II Corinthians 4:7

While on our treasure hunt, we have taken various routes shown on our Biblical map.

We discovered the treasure of the kingdom of heaven in a hidden field. We found wealth hidden in treasures of darkness. We uncovered treasure in salvation, wisdom, knowledge and the fear of the Lord. We found treasure more costly than any precious metal or jewel. All of these treasures are part of the greatest treasure – Jesus. Jesus is the hidden treasure of the Old Testament revealed in the New Testament.

Jesus is the treasure for which we have searched. We want to keep Him in our jars of clay. We want to keep Him in our hearts. Ephesians 3:17 says, “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

Our treasure hunt is complete. We found the treasure. Jesus!

The Arms of a Father


A man
understands the meaning of being a father when he holds his first newborn baby. His arms will never be the same. His arms are filled with a new responsibility. He embraces a role that can only be filled by a man. Dad is his new name.

How does a man learn to become a father? By following the example of his Heavenly Father.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’”
Deuteronomy 33:27

I remember my husband holding our first-born child. Our baby looked so small in the arms of his father. Gary lovingly supported this little eight pound bundle of boy. I saw both gentleness and strength in this new dad’s arms. Daddy was not going to drop his son. He would take care of him. He would protect him. This new father desired to follow the example of God, his Heavenly Father.

The years advanced. My husband was still Dad but his hands and arms had a new purpose. Our baby boy no longer depended upon his father’s arms to be held. However, the growing boy still needed guidance. A helping hand was required – and often requested by our son.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13

A father holds his child’s hand so he/she will not run away. Otherwise, he or she might get lost in the crowd. I can still see Gary extending his arm down toward Greg’s little upheld arm. They clasped their hands together. Greg held tightly to his dad’s hand as the three of us maneuvered our way through a crowd of people at a local parade. Many things can crowd into the life of a growing child.

There are times when a helping hand is advantageous. Our kitchen table was the scene of various school projects for father and son. Dad’s wisdom was appreciated. A father helps, but does not do everything for the youngster. A good father relies on the Holy Spirit to be his Helper as he helps his family.

Now our son is a man. He is a father. However, he still returns to spend time with his dad.

So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still
a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him,
and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20

This scripture is part of the parable of the lost son. Our son is not, and never has been, a wayward son. However, this verse is another example of a father’s arms. When Greg comes to visit his dad, a hand shake is not an adequate greeting. Father and son’s arms become entwined in a hug. The strength of their arms draws them close. There is a bond between a father and his kids regardless of their ages. This embrace is an expression of affection. I think of an acronym for hug: Heartfelt Unconditional Gesture.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he,
I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4

Through the prophet Isaiah, our Heavenly Father assures all earthly fathers that He extends His arms to them no matter their age. In addition to setting the example for earthly fathers, God desires to be the Heavenly Father of all dads. His everlasting arms offer affection, protection, guidance and strength to all His kids.

Happy Father’s Day!

enJOY – JOY – JOYful

JOY – a simple three letter word with big potential. Add a couple of letters
and we have ENJOY or JOYFUL. How about REJOICE?

Let’s play around with JOY today. We will also do a little language study.

JOY
To begin, we must know what JOY is.
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, . . .
Galatians 5:22
Joy is one of the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is the result of the
Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. It is not something we can conjure up by ourselves.
The prospect of the righteous is joy
Proverbs 10:28
Joy is the reward of living in right relationship with the Lord.
the joy of the LORD is your strength
Nehemiah 8:10
Joy is more than a feeling when it is the Lord’s joy. It imparts
spiritual strength to our internal muscles.

ENJOY = in joy
En” is a prefix that transforms a noun into a verb. Enjoy means to cause
a person or thing to be “in joy.”
In Your presence is fullness of joy
Psalm 16:11 NKJV
When we are in the presence of Jesus, we are in joy. Through praise,
we enter the Lord’s presence and enjoy Him.
I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.
Jeremiah 33:6
When we trust the Lord, we will enjoy His promises. If we enjoy something, we are in joy.

JOYFUL = joy full – full of joy
The suffixful” is defined as “full of” or “plenty.” We become “joyful” when we are full of joy.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13
God fills us with His joy. The Holy Spirit gives us more than a little bit of joy.
When we are “full of joy,” joy bubbles up inside and flows out of us.
This joy overflows to others. It even extends into the atmosphere.
That is what I call being “joyful!”
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Psalm 98:4 ESV
When we are full of joy, we desire to joyfully praise the Lord. We let our joy overflow to Him.

REJOICE = re-joys
Re-joys” is my play on words for “rejoice.” The prefix “re” means “again.”
Joys” is more than one joy. We can experience joy in multiple ways at numerous times.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4
Paul encourages us to “rejoice” twice in one verse. The New Living Translation says,
Always be full of joy in the Lord.”
This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
I say it again—rejoice!”
Psalm 118:24 NKJV
We have the choice of whether or not to rejoice. First of all, we must know and receive God’s joy. Then we can enjoy Him – be in joy. When we are filled of God’s joy, we are joyful.
We experience joy, and then more joy. This fullness of joy multiples into “joys.”
Because of these “re-joys,” we rejoice.

JOY – ENJOY – JOYFUL – REJOICE
Let us summarize our study of joy with a few final scriptures.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NKJV
We will not always feel joyful or have joyous experiences, but we do have God’s
assurance of forthcoming joy.
I (Jesus) will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
John 16:22
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion. He speaks the same words to us in our challenging times. His joy is everlasting and cannot be taken away.
Shout to God with joyful praise!
Psalm 47:1 NLT
Let us praise God for His promise of joy. Let us rejoice together because we are full of joy.

Thoughts for Memorial Day

In the United States of America, next Monday we will celebrate Memorial Day. It is a time when we remember those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. We also honor those currently in our military.

Let’s take time to look at a few scriptures and make some comparisons of how the goals of our military men and women follow Christ’s example.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Out of love, God sent His Son to our world. Jesus sacrificed His life so that we, through faith, may receive the gift of eternal life. No one can do what God did. No one needs to do what God did because Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice.

However, there are several similarities between God and the people in our military. Our armed forces defend all of humanity – not only United States citizens. They serve out of love for people around the world. They fight for freedom for people who are treated inhumanely. These soldiers are willing to die so others can live. There is also a sacrifice paid by the families of our active military men and women. Parents and spouses of military personnel allow their family members to go around the world defending those whose lives are in danger. There is a high price to be paid.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36

Jesus lived and died for freedom. Freedom is the cause for which individuals choose to serve in our armed forces. Jesus died to set us free from sin. Those in the United States military are willing to die so that our citizens may live free from tyranny and terrorism.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

Jesus loves us. He laid down His life for us. We are His friends. Military men and women love their country. They are willing to lay down their lives. They are our friends, not enemies.

Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10

Jesus spoke these words when teaching His disciples how to pray. Their prayer was that God’s kingdom would reign on earth and His will would be done. The members of the United States armed forces serve their country defending their nation and the Constitution upon which the government is based. They serve their nation (or kingdom) and strive to fulfill the country’s goals (or will).

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine
or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:
“F
OR YOUR SAKE WE FACE DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE ARE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
But in all these things we more than conquerors
through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:35-37

Paul acknowledges that we will encounter suffering. He lists several forms of suffering. However, he also assures us that nothing will separate us from Christ’s love. We are more than conquerors and we will obtain more than ordinary victories. Christ’s love triumphed over death. And, because of His love, we achieve abundant victories.

Paul’s words also offer assurance to our military personnel. If these men and women find themselves in harm’s way, they will face danger. If involved in combat, death will be a possibility. At these times, may our soldiers be aware of Christ’s presence. May they fight for freedom with faith. They are more than just conquerors.

In conclusion, I emphasize the importance of scripture being the foundation for our lives. I give thanks to Jesus for setting an example. I also thank members of our military for following the example of Christ. May Memorial Day be a time for us to honor these men and women of the United States of America for their sacrifices for freedom.