Living under an Open Heaven

The River Jordan in open country

O that you would rend the heavens and come down‘ (Isaiah 64)

If only God would speak, the heavens open and invade the earth. What a difference it would make.

The River Jordan as it flows through the desert brings life and green. This river has witnessed hundreds of years of Bible history. For 400 years there had been silence from heaven. No voice of a prophet had been heard. The cry of longing, echoed across these barren ‘wilderness’ years.

In the days of small things I wait for more, for an increased awareness of the open haeven. To bring in this 21st century ‘beauty instead of ashes‘, ‘the oil of joy in place of mourning and a garment of praise instead of of a spirit of despair’. (Isaiah 61).

Heaven Opens

At his baptism, as Jesus entered the water, John saw heaven open and a dove descend upon Jesus’ shoulder and remain there.

A white dove in flight

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

Enter the Holy Spirit                

We are so thankful that the writing of Luke/Acts is so full of the Holy Spirit, from the beginning. The Gospel begins with a flurry of Spirit activity, as Acts begins with the disciples experiencing a similar surge of Holy Spirit action; that continues through this book, often called ’The Acts of the Holy Spirit’.

In Luke, Zechariah receives the prophecy that his son, John the Baptist, will be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb’ (Luke 1:15). Mary is told, ’The Holy Spirit will come upon you’, and she responds with a prophetic song, the ‘Magnificat’ (Luke 1:35, 46-55). Elizabeth’s baby ‘leapt in her womb’ when Mary visited the home, and Elizabeth herself is filled with the Spirit and prophecies (Luke 1:42-45), Last of all, even Zechariah, despite his earlier disbelief, is filled with the Spirit and prophecies in the words of the ‘Benedictus’ (Luke 1:67-79).

This emphasis upon the Spirit continues from the start of Jesus’ ministry. The Spirit descends and rests upon him at the Baptism. Then Jesus, ‘full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.’ Afterwards we read that ‘Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.’

The river Jordan,
Photo of the ‘Jungle’ of the Jordan river.

The Spirit-filled Life Demonstrated

From the start of the New Testament Jesus is revealed as the Man of the Spirit. In the Old Testament the Spirit had been revealed as the naked power of God working in and through special people, for special purposes. Here in the New Testament Jesus reveals the ‘human face’ of the Spirit’.

What a wonderful demonstration for us of the perfect Spirit filled man/woman. It should be my great aim to posses his Spirit, his power and influence and to walk closely in his footsteps. If he needed the Spirit, how much more do I?

Take Off Your Shoes

Before Jesus stepped into the river at his baptism he took off his shoes. We are standing on holy ground here. Shouldn’t I take off my shoes too and worship and follow Him?

A pair of empty shoes

Lord Jesus, You were:
Conceived by the Spirit,
Filled with the Spirit without measure
Led by the Spirit throughout your ministry,
Empowered by the Spirit to perform many mighty works 
Raised from death by the Spirit
Giver of the Spirit to the Church

Open our eyes and reveal yourself to us in a much deeper way.
Help us learn from the way you hosted the Holy Spirit in your life, and live like you.

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