The Soaring Eagle

Only your body is limited. Your spirit can 'mount up on wings like eagles'


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Speak Well

“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:34-37)

Reflection:
There is an unbelievable power in the words that we speak. We can in one moment destroy a person’s day, or even life, with our criticism. We can also bring new life and hope to them with our encouragement.

Jesus is known as the Living Word of God. This is His word that

“goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)

Jesus is a powerful, positive and creative Word – a word that is enlivened and empowered with the Spirit of God Himself. We see something of this power in Jesus words of authority – when He raised the dead, healed the sick, calmed nature and forgave sins.

Our words too have life – empowered by the Spirit of God or the spirit of this age. And they mostly come from what is in our hearts at the time. When we look back over our day we may be astonished and even mortified at the number of casual and thoughtless words that we uttered – and the relatively small number spoken with the intent of blessing another person. It is for this reason that James counsels us to be ‘slow to speak’ (1:19). If we are known as a person that speaks intentionally our words will carry more weight, whereas if we are seen to be a thoughtless speaker even our words of blessing may be taken lightly.

All around us there are people both longing for and in need of words of acknowledgement, encouragement and blessing. Some of them will live with us, work with us, be friends and acquaintances or even relative strangers.

The words they need are in our mouths.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6)

Response:
Be more aware and more intentional and desire to bless

Prayer:

Lord God, help me to open my heart and then my mouth that others may be blessed through what I say. And God, please protect others from being harmed through me. Amen.

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Think like this

“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”
( 2 Corinthians 10:5)

Reflection:
It struck me early this morning that there are ‘obviously’ two aspects to this word.

The first is that all my thoughts should be held before the Lord to be tested for their truth and whether or not they honour Him. Given that my mind is full of thoughts, worries and responses to feelings and emotions this may seem like an impossible task. And yet as we walk with the Lord much of it happens fairly quickly if we are open to it and to Him. The challenge then becomes one of responding to His correction.

The second is that this must as obviously apply in our Christian community and group situations – as well as, for us, in our work and ministry. The group’s opinion of what is true, relevant and of the Lord should also be tested before Him. Very often we have found that where there is one dissenting voice in a situation the process needs to be slowed down, re-examined and sometimes re-worked until all can say ‘that’s good.’ After all we are called into Christ’s ministry and not He into ours!

As we look at ‘perfecting holiness out of reverence for God’ this all becomes far more important. It is where the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit is so important and such a blessing.

Response:
Be aware of your thoughts – look at some of them with the Lord – persevere

Prayer:

Lord God, I offer my mind and thoughts to You – help me that I too may be transformed by the renewing of my mind, so that its thought may honour and bless You. Amen.

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Holy for God

“Since we have these promises, dear friends,
let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit,
perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”

( 2 Corinthians 7:1)

Reflection:
Being a Christian is not merely a matter of staying as we were but with a new cloak covering us. It is about a new life that starts within us and develops and influences everything that we are, and think, and say and do. This new life will become apparent to others as well as to us.

As we recognise our new identities as the daughters and sons of God we are called to live out these identities and live up to them. Therefore just as Jesus cleansed the Temple of everything that degraded and shamed it as the Temple of the Living God, so we are to be involved in the same cleansing of our own temples of the Holy Spirit – ourselves. When God calls us to be holy He means also that we become a place suitable for Him to live in.

This cleansing begins as we recognise that the Spirit is within us. As we do so He will begin to draw our attention to the things in our lives that do not honour God. This is not a once off ‘spring cleaning’ but an ongoing process. Some things will be dealt with quickly whilst others may take longer and have deeper roots. As this goes on we will probably also discover attitudes, habits and desires of which we were unaware. This is the Spirit working more deeply and extensively within us. His purpose is not to shame or depress us but to free us from the things that prevent us from more fully entering into this new life that God has for us. He also wishes to take us deeper and deeper into the reality of our new relationship with the Father and with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

This is not a strange new process that God has initiated. He has built the understanding into our lives. For those who are focussed on and committed to a particular goal are generally the ones who will show the most progress. However the good news is that where in our secular lives we may have been unable to find and apply the focus, self-control and energy, we now have in our lives the Holy Spirit of God who is giving us the focus, developing our understanding, and empowering us to press forward, press on and to persevere.

Our reason is not so that we may gain the salvation of God but that we may honour Him in the salvation and new identity that He has given us in His great love. We are in fact seeking to live up to and live out the image of Himself that He has imparted to us.

Response:
I can live more and more as a son/daughter of the Lord God Almighty.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit I want to be more like the Lord Jesus, please help me.  My desire is to have the Father rejoice in my honouring Him. Amen.

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Spirit of Revelation

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better”
(Ephesians 1:17)

 

Reflection:
Paul has been talking about our new life in Jesus Christ. He refers to our not being with Christ but, far more intimately, ‘in Christ.’ This expression and variations on it occur 164 times in his letters.

To be in Christ is to become a part of His life and living right where we are, how we are and who we are, at this moment in time – and to continue in that Way. It is to be personally and vitally united to Christ – as branches are to the vine and members to the body. It is to come to know the Lord Jesus as a personal and living reality – and to know that in some mysterious and spiritual way He lives within us. ‘It is this personal relationship with Christ that is the distinctive mark of His authentic followers’ (Stott)

Paul now reveals that a part of his prayers is that God will “give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” This immediately gives us the insight that is should be a part of our own prayers as well. Note that he is not praying that we will know more about God – as in the accumulation of knowledge – but that we will get to know Him more and more as the Person that He is and in so doing deepen our relationship with Him as well as our knowledge of Him.

This knowing God better and knowing more of Him comes not through study alone but through God’s revelation of Himself to us. Elsewhere Paul would write that

  • You … may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18)
  • “God (will) fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9)
  • “your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9)

 Adolphe Monod wrote that “Philosophy taking man for its centre says know thyself; only the inspired word which proceeds from God has been able to say know God.” That is both our calling and God’s desire for us. He wishes us to have and to enjoy a personal and deepening relationship with Him – both now and throughout eternity. And it is only through coming to know God as our Creator and Redeemer that we have any possibility of really coming to know ourselves – both as we are and as He intends us to be.

Response:
Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you – and look out for Him in His Word and in your prayer life and living.

Prayer:

Father God, please bless me with Your Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know You better. And please help me to be aware of Your reaching out to me, to recognise it and treasure it. as You draw me into a more meaningful relationship with you. Amen.

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Spirit of Forgiveness

“But you were washed, you were sanctified,
you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God”
(1 Corinthians 6:11)

Reflection:
Paul had just stated that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. He then listed examples of the things that he classified as wicked and sinful – the type of behaviour that had characterised some of them when they lived outside of the kingdom of God. Then came his great acclamation that ‘this is what some of you were.’ In other words they used to be like this but a radical transformation had taken place in their lives – “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”

In some ways this almost seems to be the answer to the great prayer of David when he was convicted by God of his sin with Bathsheba and for arranging for her husband to be killed.

  • ‘Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.’
  • ‘Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.’
  • ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.’

Nothing is worse than the awareness that sin has fastened its claws into us in such a way that we cannot get rid of it, we cannot re-write the past and we are forever stained, contaminated and guilty in the most terrible way. And yet here Paul is crying out for us to be aware of the great redemption open to us through the love and grace of God. For each and every one of us – no matter what we have done or failed to do – may be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit of God.

It is God Himself setting us free from the spiritual consequences of our past, washing us clean from every stain and setting us on our feet again to live a new and different kind of life with Him. We are called to face in a new direction – focussed on the Lord and not on ourselves. We are urged to flee from all sin and to live lives dedicated to the Lord. We are encouraged – if and when we fall – to ask God for forgiveness and help and to get back on our feet for another go at this new life with Him.

Hold on to the unimaginable truth and wonder of what God has achieved for you and which He seeks to make ever more real in your own life – what Barclay calls ‘this radiant power of Christianity which is triumphantly able to  make all things new’ –

“you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”

Response:
Reflect on these great truths, asking the Holy Spirit to make them live within you

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, please help me to receive Your great truths, make them live within me in such a way that new light shines into my darkness and sets me free to walk in the light, the life and the love of God. Amen.

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Spirit of Unity

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace”
(Ephesians 4:3)

Reflection:
Our relationship with God was fractured at the fall – and so were our relationships with creation and with one another. Jesus Christ came to make it possible for these relationships to be restored through His death and resurrection. And what He made possible is given effect by the Holy Spirit who comes to live within us and to minister to us at that level.

He draws us into the ‘body of Christ’ where the Lord Himself is the Head and we are the members. These members are then in a close and living relationship with both the Lord as Head and with each other. Any disunity amongst the members would grieve the Head and would be disastrous to the proper functioning of the body itself.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

As Christians we have one Lord, Jesus Christ, one Spirit of God who lives and ministers within us, and one God and Father of us all. Jesus prayed that we should be brought into the unity that exists between He and His Father and it is the Spirit who works to give effect to that prayer.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23)

It is this unity, which could only be brought about by God, which is supposed to be a witness to the world of God’s love and redemption in Jesus Christ.

As we recognise these truths we begin to see that the problems in the world may not only be because of those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord. It is also clear that the Body is not functioning as it should  – and it is certainly not presenting a unified face of love and of truth to the world. Until the world begins to see God in us it may not bother to look for Him anywhere else.

Response:
Where am I in disunity with other Christians and within myself?

Prayer:

Father God, please forgive me for the things within me that destroy my peace and cause me to withdraw from others. Please heal me and draw me closer to You so that I may be more of a point of love and healing in my context. Amen.

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Spirit of Gifts

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Reflection:
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a reality. This was the being ‘clothed with power,’ for which Jesus had told His disciples to wait, before embarking on the Great Commission. This empowerment was not just of the spirit, mind and body – they were empowered with specific gifts which they were to use in the course of their ministry, and to make them effective in the building of the Kingdom.

Paul’s teaching, now, is very specific.

  • The appearance of the Holy Spirit is to be real for each Christian.
  • The Spirit gives a variety of gifts – some of which are mentioned here.
  • The Spirit gives one or more of these gifts to each Christian.

No believer is excluded. The Holy Spirit, with a specific gift, comes to each one. And each includes you, just as it includes me. Whatever else we may have to offer God, the ministry in which He wishes us to be involved will be based upon the gift that the Holy Spirit gives to us. This is God knowing what has to be done, choosing His team, and equipping them with what they will need. And the gift that the Spirit gives to us is the one that He will empower and bless. It may, or may not, be an extension of a talent that we have.

If we are going to be effective in our place in the ‘Body of Christ’ – where all should be working in harmony with each other and towards the same end – then we need to identify and become experienced in the use of our particular gift/s. We will, in all probability, find it in the area for which we have, or are developing, a God-given ability or passion as opposed to a self-centred desire. It is important to ask God to help us to identify it, and also to seek the prayer and discernment of mature Christians whom we trust. Its focus will be to bring glory to God and achieve His purposes.

It is our very great privilege and honour to have been chosen, and called, into the salvation of Jesus Christ and into the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as the daughters and sons of the Eternal and Almighty God.

Response:
Determine to increasingly  live out your new life and ministry to God’s glory, under the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to know my spiritual gifts and to use them in love for Your glory and the blessing of others. Amen.

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