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.

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The Denial

cross-for-denialHe (Peter) began to call down curses, and he swore to them,
“I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
Mark 14:71

Peter denied Jesus he denied Him three times! Mark 14:71 records Peter’s third denial. A synonym for deny is refuse. In this case, Peter refused to admit that he was one of Jesus’ disciples. I think Peter may have refused to admit that he knew Jesus because he felt confused. Making a slightly different interpretation of the word deny, I suggest that to deny can mean to forget. Did Peter have spiritual amnesia causing him to forget what Jesus had explained to the disciples about His upcoming death? When Peter witnessed what was happening to Jesus, he may have become worried about what might happen to himself. For his own safety, he may have have felt the need to deny any association with Jesus. Anxiety can cause us to not think clearly and to do strange things.

A short time after denying Jesus, Peter heard a rooster crow two times. Oh, oh! Peter then remembered the words Jesus had spoken to him as recorded in the beginning of Mark 14:72, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”

And he broke down and wept.
Mark 14:72b

The crow of the rooster may have cured Peter’s amnesia and caused him to reconsider who Jesus truly was. Peter wept with remorse when he realized he had denied Jesus.

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
John 21:15

Fast forward to a few days after Jesus’ resurrection and we find Jesus having breakfast with His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. Although Peter denied (or forgot) Jesus three times as recorded in Mark 14:68-70, Jesus does not deny (or forget) Peter. Jesus knew Peter and He knew his strengths and weaknesses of character. While Peter forgot Jesus three times, Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to remember who He was. I wonder if Peter needed to be asked this question three times because it took him that long to remember who Jesus truly was. Peter had to have his mind remade – he had to be re-minded.

It is worth noting that the first two times Jesus questioned Peter about his love, He used the Greek word agape for love while the third time He used the term phileo. Agape love is God’s love, a spiritual, selfless love while phileo love expresses love on a friendship level. In His first two inquiries, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him with God’s kind of love. The last time, Jesus lowered his type of love to friendship. It is also interesting to note that each time after Peter assured Jesus that he loved Him, Jesus gave him a command of something to do, such as “Feed my lambs.”

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24

These words of Jesus to His disciples in Matthew 16:24 are also words being spoken to me. I want to consider what Jesus has to say to me by applying Peter’s experiences with denial to what denial entails for me today.

It was not OK for Peter to deny Jesus but it is OK for me to deny myself. In fact, for me to be a disciple of Jesus, I must deny myself – I must forget about my selfish desires. Numerous times I have denied Christ by focusing upon my own accomplishments rather than His accomplishments upon the cross. If I do not deny myself, I may deny Jesus.

Peter denied Jesus only a few hours before He was crucified upon the cross. The Matthew scripture tells me to take up my cross. What does my cross look like? Most likely I will not have to die upon the beam of a cross like Jesus, but I still need to die to myself. I need to crucify my own plans and purposes to fulfill God’s plans and purposes. When the rooster crowed, Peter remembered Jesus and what Jesus had said to him. He was
re-minded. The cross has been described as a memorial, or a reminder, of who Jesus is and of what He has done for us. For me, to take up my cross allows me to be re-minded.

Although Peter denied Jesus, Jesus still had a job for him to do. Jesus told Peter to “feed His sheep.” Jesus tells me to follow Him. Only then will I know where He wants me to go and what He wants me to do.

For Peter to deny Jesus was a bad thing but for me to deny myself is a good thing.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Love Question

3 heartsI am thinking about “love” today and I realize it is a word that can have various meanings.  Love can be expressed with different levels of emotions.  I articulate different feelings when I say “I love you” to different people in different situations.  “I love you” is a term of endearment that I profess to my husband with a romantic meaning I share with no one else.  “I love you” are words with a unique connotation I say to my children and grandchildren reserved for them alone. I may even say that I love chocolate but that has an entirely different sentiment!  “I love you” is a phrase that can be voiced either flippantly or sincerely. When I think about an example of “I love you” in the Bible, I am reminded of the conversation between Jesus and Peter after they had breakfast on the shore one morning shortly after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus and Peter verbalized two different kinds of love.

 3 heartsIn just two days it will be Valentine’s Day.  My Reader, do you love the day or would you prefer there not be a day set aside to celebrate love? Are you secure enough in the love of those around you that you look forward to expressing your love to them and to have them verify their love for you?  Do you need to ask a particular person in your life whether or not they love you?  How do you think Peter felt when Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him?

 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
John 21:15-17

3 hearts I have heard it said that Jesus did not have to ask Peter three times if he loved Him because Peter was hard of hearing but rather Jesus asked because He had something special to relay to Peter that He wanted him to remember.  I like the humor in that statement along with the truth it reveals.  Love is the topic of conversation between Jesus and Peter, but they are not talking about the same thing. Peter affirms his love for Jesus but the type of love he expresses is different from what Jesus asks the first two times this question is presented to Peter.  Jesus uses the Greek word “agape” indicating an unconditional type of love that is not only affectionate but also a supreme and perfect love.  Peter responds with the Greek word “phileo” signifying that he loves Jesus as a friend and has high regard for him.  The third time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, He uses the term “phileo” that Peter used in both of his previous responses. In the English language I read one word but there are two entirely different meanings to what Jesus and Peter are talking about.

 3 heartsAnother thing I notice when reading the love conversation between Jesus and Peter is that it does not conclude with just the issue of whether or not love exists between the two of them. Even though Peter does not answer the question with the depth of commitment indicated by Jesus, he still responds positively.   Jesus accepts Peter’s answer and then challenges him to a future ministry among the sheep of God’s fold. Although Jesus would have preferred to share a deeper love relationship with Peter, He acknowledges Peter’s honesty and the third time Jesus acquiesces to Peter’s level of commitment.  I wonder if there is the possibility that phileo love can be transformed into agape love over time.  I wonder if Jesus’ intention was to encourage Peter to a deeper love that he might need in the future. For myself, I guess I need to be sensitive to what Jesus may be asking me today.  Is He asking me if I love Him?  What form of the word love is He using when he inquires about my love for Him?  Is there a specific reason He wants to know about my commitment to Him? There is a lot to think about regarding this little four letter word “love”!

3 hearts There is something else I notice in this question and answer exchange between Peter and Jesus.  In John 21:15, Jesus not only asks Peter if he loves Him but He asks him, “Do you love Me more than these?” Commentators have different interpretations of what the pronoun “these” refers to.  I guess I always thought “these” referred to the other disciples, but another interpretation has caught my attention.  “These” may refer to the fish Jesus and Peter have just shared for breakfast.  Looking back at the beginning of John 21, I remember the setting in which this conversation takes place.  The night before was when Peter and several other disciples had gone fishing and had caught nothing until the morning when Jesus appeared on the shore and told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.  Jesus prepared a breakfast of broiled fish and bread for them and it was after they had eaten that Jesus questioned Peter. Peter had gone back to his former occupation of fishing and I wonder if Jesus was asking Peter if he intended to revert to his old lifestyle of fishing rather than being willing to fulfill the ministry he had learned during the last three years in the presence of Jesus.  It makes sense that Jesus was questioning whether Peter’s first priority and love was to catch fish or to feed Jesus’ lambs. This makes me ask myself, “What is ‘these’ in my life?”  Is there something or someone I love and give priority to over my relationship with Jesus.

3 hearts Although it is not used in the conversation between Peter and Jesus, there is third Greek word for love known as “eros” denoting an intimate and romantic love.  It is the word from which the English word erotic is derived.  Eros was the ancient Greek god of love, identified by the Romans with Cupid.  This is the type of love that is commercialized on Valentine’s Day.  Although there is a beautiful aspect of this type of love, it is also the type of love that can be degraded. Personally, I do not want to confuse agape, phileo, and eros love.

 3 heartsMy Reader, what kind of love valentine are you going to receive and/or give this Valentine’s Day?  Love those God has placed in your life, but never forsake your first love for the Lord.  Do you hear Jesus saying to you (replace Simon Peter’s name with yours), “–————, Do you love Me?”  How will you respond?  If you say, “Lord, you know I love you,” what form of love will you be using?  Please do not be like Peter and settle only for phileo love when agape love is available.  If Jesus is asking you “Do you love me more than these?” to whom or what does the pronoun “these” refer in your life?  Are you willing to adjust your priorities?

 Let love surround you on Valentine’s Day and every day!

 Joyfully,
Cheryl

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