fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

How High’s the Water Mama?

How High’s the Water Mama? By Julie McAllen

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Gen 1:2)

The Bible opens with the Spirit of God drawing up His creation from water and we’re encouraged not to let this escape our notice.

“it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,” (2 Pe 3:5)

Part of that new creation was a Divine separating work of the waters. Water below, water above.

Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. (Gen 1: 6-7)

Though the earth was created from water, making dry land appear, it was later destroyed when the floodgates of the heavens were opened and deluged the dry land.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. (Gen 7:11)

It would seem with a story like that, no one would anticipate a river released from heaven as something to be sought with gladness, yet the Psalmist welcomed this heavenly flow.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High. (Ps 46: 4)

And believers today are blessed by the story’s conclusion of a pure river of life flowing from the throne in heaven.

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Rev 22:1-2)

Water has been portrayed as both destroyer and deliverer. The flood of Noah’s day caused the unrepentant to perish yet its waters were also spoken of as being the agent through which Noah and his family were delivered.

… the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1 Pe 3: 20)

The apostle Peter goes on to compare the waters of Noah’s day to Christian baptism.

Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1 Pe 3:21)

Baptism, like Noah’s flood, is a symbol of something being destroyed and also delivered.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)

Cleansing us through the washing of water with the word, He destroys the old nature as we die with Christ and rise up as a new creation. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

And He continues to be generous in renewing the face of the earth by the flood of His Holy Spirit.

You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the ground. (Ps 104:30)

Water played an important role in the writing of a famous hymn by Horatio G. Spafford. In 1871, the Chicago fire financially destroyed this wealthy businessman and a torrent of water would’ve been most welcome. But water only brought more tragedy a short time later when his four daughters perished in the Atlantic ocean. His wife Anna, however, survived. The same location that served as the watery grave for the Spafford children became the sacred spot where the Holy Spirit inspired the healing words of “It is well with my soul.”

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Spafford experienced the calm after the storm. His words portray water as both a peaceful river and a sorrowful sea. The flood of Noah’s day and our own salvation stories include the raging sea and peace like a river. In the midst of the storm, no one can see the rainbow, but only God truly knows what lies beneath the surface.

“Then the channels of the sea appeared,
The foundations of the world were laid bare
By the rebuke of the Lord,
At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
17 “He sent from on high, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
18 “He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me, for they were too strong for me.
19 “They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
20 “He also brought me forth into a broad place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me. (2 Samuel 22:16-20)

I have my own water story to tell. During a time when I was tossed about by the seas of doubt, I took a trip to the Minnesota Zoo. It was amazing to see the colorful ocean fish contained in their aquariums. Colors that I previously thought man invented, because I had never seen them in the nature out my backdoor, were there on display. I wrongly assumed the cartoony fish on my shower curtain were the invention of an artist, but they had been under the surface of the ocean long before any man conceived of them in his heart. Not until the invention of Scuba gear, cameras, and the means to bring these beautiful creatures into museums and zoos, could any one appreciate them and give glory to God. Yet, they existed for thousands of years with no man to notice. So why did God make them? And that is when He shifted my self-defeating attitude that had me at the center as if the world revolved around what delighted my senses. These creatures, as all of creation, were made for God’s pleasure, not mans!! All those years, the colors were for His senses alone and yet, He allowed man to discover them at His determined time in history. It made me wonder what else is out there hidden from my sight?

And let the fish of the sea declare to you. (Job 12:8)

Below the surface of our flesh is a spiritual seed waiting to be watered. The Spirit of God is moving over the surface of the waters. In the beginning, God created. And we were created in God’s image. God is Spirit and so are we. But God also put on flesh. And so have we. Jesus said we must be born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh, but what is born of Spirit is Spirit (John 3:5-7). The seed of our spiritual lives is there within us throughout the duration of our earthly course, but seeds need water to blossom and grow to fruition. And yet, some of us never say “I am thirsty.”

7 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? 12 You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:7-14)

When this woman was presented with the truth that there were two sources of water; one which would cause her to thirst again and another that would become a well-spring to eternal life, she answered, “Sir, give me this water.”

And everyday we are confronted with two sources of water as well. A river of life and a river leading to death. Both offer a strong current that makes it easy to keep flowing along in it. Which will we choose?

When my husband and I were dating, we chose a wrong course. We took our inner tubes down the Eau Claire river and though we both knew there were falls ahead, in our excitement, we somehow dismissed that fact. We made a poor decision and both went over the falls. At that point, the river had us. Once I was under the falls, the water was pounding on top of me while at the same time propelling me forward in the current. I honestly didn’t know which way was up and therefore had no idea where to direct my strokes toward survival. I was completely at the mercy of the river and it was frightening. Inside I was screaming but was helpless to do anything for myself. At one point I had come up long enough to gasp for air and saw some concerned people standing on the rock ledge reaching out their hands to help but the current took me right past their grasp.

The Lord called that memory back to mind one day and related it to prayer. There are times we make one wrong choice and end up in a current. It happens to all of us. By that time it’s too late, the river’s got us and though we are helpless, He has given us a Helper. The Spirit knows what to pray even if we don’t know who’s caught in a current. The Spirit connects the body. God is faithful and searches for someone  who is grounded with their feet on the Rock and the Spirit begins to pray through them because we are not well enough to do it ourselves. The Spirit intercedes because we all get caught in currents and need one another.

A torrent is released when we side with our sin nature where nothing good resides. The word reminds us to humble ourselves, turn the other cheek, flee from temptation, and yet, we choose to step into the river of our flesh and get caught up in its current. We could also choose in that moment to walk in the Spirit by obeying the truth of God’s word. Either way, a current makes it easy to keep going along. One current makes it easier to say the wrong thing, take the next drink, give into sin. But one step into the river of life also makes it easier to lift your hands in praise, bless your enemy, and resist temptation. When the flaming arrow hits you, which river will you jump in? Why not dip into one leading to life?

How high’s the water mama?

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

September 30, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two trees in the garden

Two trees in the garden by Julie McAllen

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
(Gen 1:27)

Man was created in the image of God placed on this earth to represent his will. We learn a lot from the Genesis account. It’s here we grasp God’s deepest desire for us–to be a reflection of him, created in his own image.

Later in scripture, he restates his purpose for us through the writings of the apostle Paul who said it was God’s intention to conform us into the likeness of his son.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Ro 8:29)

So we see the truth of the matter. From the very start of our conception as people, the goal of God was stated clearly,

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Gen 1:26)

In the likeness of God. In the likeness of his son. This is why we are here. It is the desire of our creator and therefore the deepest desire within us “to be like God.” And the enemy knew it from the beginning. He knew the truth. And thus, the lie had to be formed around that truth.

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5)

Isn’t that the expressed desire of God himself? He intended that his creation would be in his image and likeness. But who spoke these words to Eve? Who knew her desire to be like God so well that he convinced her to take a path that her creator had warned against?

Well we all know the story. It was Satan twisting the words of God to conform to his own goal of separating the creation from the creator. And it worked. Was there any truth in the serpent’s lie? Yes, for he promised Eve that she would be “like God” if she ate of the forbidden fruit and this is the result according to God’s word.

And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:22)

Man was created in God’s image. And yet God is proclaiming that after their disobedience he has now become like the Divine nature in knowing good and evil?

Let that sink in a moment.

When Adam was created and placed in the garden, was he already perfect? Was he already living forever? Was he already conformed to the image of his creator?

Some have made the assumption that the couple were already perfect and living forever on the earth. Had Adam not sinned, the logic follows that his offspring would have inherited everlasting life on earth through him. But think again. Was Adam “like God” before the sin?

Were there not two choices in the middle of that garden?

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17)

Of all the trees in the garden they were free to partake. There was only one law, one thing forbidden to them. And where was it placed? In the same arena as another very important tree.

And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Gen 2:9)

The tree of life was placed in the middle of the garden and they were free to eat from it. Two trees in the middle of the garden. One was forbidden and certain to bring death, the other was free and certain to bring life. God knew it and so did his enemy. Two choices, both tempting the pair “to become like God.”

Notice in the temptation that there is only reference to “the tree in the middle of the garden” but none is distinguished by name. Neither Eve nor the serpent say “tree of life” or “tree of knowledge of good and evil” they just have a conversation about the tree in the middle of the garden. I’ve often wondered if Satan and Eve realized they were even talking about the same tree?

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:2-5)

Eve ate from the wrong tree. She ate from it because she was deceived into thinking it would be good for her and her husband to do so. They desired to be “like God” after all, and the fruit, therefore, had appeal.

The two trees in the middle of the garden are Law and Spirit. Both offered a promise to the couple who were designed to be perfected into the image of God. But perfection did not come for them. Their growth was halted. By their choice of one route to God, they were banned from the other route.

22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen 3:22-24)

What Adam and Eve had come to know was Law. They had become like God knowing good and evil. They had indeed attained the wisdom Eve desired when she gazed upon the fruit. But nothing is made perfect by law (Heb 7:19). And though Law promises to draw us near to God, our source of life, it actually draws us further from him. The separation known as sin.

7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. (Ro 7:7-10)

Our first parents underwent this separation. They underwent spiritual death. Where they used to walk freely in the garden with their creator, now they hid from the voice that called out “where are you?” Now banned from the tree of life, they would never be brought to perfection through the way God had always intended to bring everlasting life. Law brings death. The Spirit brings life.

Though each one of us is made in the image of God, like Adam and Eve, none of us are born perfect. Though we are sons and daughters knitted together in our mother’s wombs, we make choices as we grow and how we will respond to our innate desire to be “like God.” It helps to understand the first lie because the enemy of life is still telling it. He is the father of lies (John 8:44). Though Jesus spoke of Satan as having “no truth in him” that does not mean he doesn’t have the word memorized and able to quote from it. He basically quoted God’s word to Eve when he said that if she ate of the tree in the middle of the garden she would be like God. He twisted the truth to get her to eat from Law rather than the Tree of Life. The father of our flesh, Adam, fell for the lie. But the father of our Spirit, Jesus Christ, combatted the assault of twisted truth by quoting it back properly.

The first assault on Jesus was to get him to question if he even was a son of God (Luke 4:3) Believe it or not, this lie is often presented within religion today. Lies that whisper “knowing scripture is knowing God…..you’re not really saved unless you do this….. following the rules is following God…. only certain members within our group are sons of God….” But Jesus had witness born to him at his baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon him and told him the truth.

And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 4:22)

Have you also had that witness born to you? Or has someone caused you to question your adoption?

Wasn’t Adam promised dominion over the land? Did he receive it or did it produce thorns in his toil? The devil dared to promise Jesus dominion over kingdoms of the world, but unlike Adam, Jesus did not bow to the way in which Satan promised to give it. And when the devil took Jesus to the heights of religion symbolized by the temple, he quoted directly from Psalm 91. The teachers of the Law were always trying to trip Jesus up by quoting from it, but Jesus said they were from their father the devil (John 8:12-47).

Are you getting the picture? Satan uses God’s truths to tell his lies. By this, he steals your inheritance in the tree of life.

Anyone can quote scripture. Bibles abound for any thief to use for his own glory. No one can stop them. But, only God can reveal truth by his Spirit. Only by his Spirit can we, therefore, be brought into the complete and perfect image of God he intended at our conception.

Adam was a son conceived in the heart of God to be made in his image. However, Adam was never perfect, before or after the sin, and able to bring forth perfect children. Perfection only comes through death (Heb 11:40).

Look at Jesus. How was he perfected?

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Heb 5:8-9)

Jesus LEARNED obedience and once made perfect, he became the eternal father of all living. And through that obedience until death, Jesus was made perfect forever (Heb 7:28). Adam could never do this, he is only the father of our flesh which is imperfect. But the imperfect comes first and then the perfect. As we all have borne the likeness and image of the earthly Adam, so we shall bear the likeness of the last Adam, the man from heaven (1 Cor 15:42-49). One day, we will be among those mentioned in Hebrews 12:23 as “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” but that depends on which tree you choose now. You can be like God, but you are what you eat.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

March 27, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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