The Soaring Eagle

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


Leave a comment

Active Faith

2016-09-27

“Show me your faith without deeds,
and I will show you my faith by what I do”
(James 2:18)

Reflection:
Paul teaches very clearly that,

 “a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Romans 3:28)

James emphasises that this faith is not an inactive state but very much a way of life and living. So he would write that,

 “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17)

So whilst we cannot earn our salvation through works but may receive it only by faith, the evidence of that faith is revealed in our changed lives. We live them out in obedience to the commands and directives of the Lord.

“Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5)

Both Paul and James are in agreement that authentic faith is a living faith that works.

  • “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”  ( Galatians 5:6)
  • “I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18)

As John Stott comments “we cannot be saved by works, yet we cannot be saved without them.” What we do is the evidence of our salvation. Jesus put it this way,

“If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15)

Salvation is not a cloak that we put on over our old way of life and living. It is living in a new and different way as a response to God’s boundless love revealed most fully in His great sacrifice.

Response:
How is my faith revealed?

Prayer:

Lord help me to live my faith as a response to Your great love, and to seek to walk in Your ways throughout my life – showing my love for You and those around me. Amen.

———————–


Leave a comment

Live it out

2016-09-26png

“Do not merely listen to the word,
and so deceive yourselves.
 Do what it says”
(James 1:22)

Reflection:
Any serious reading of the Scriptures as God’s Word must lead us to the realisation that it guides us to three great truths. The truth about God, the truth about ourselves and the truth about living Godly lives. It will also show us how these three truths are further revealed in and through Jesus Christ who is Himself the Truth (John 14:6)

James in the first chapter of his letter warns us three times about being deceived. (16, 22, 26). He teaches us that it is by paying close attention to the Word of God that we will be enabled to identify and avoid deception. This is particularly important when we live in an age which seems to recognise opinions and fails to see deceptions, and which places great store on information and not transformation.

The first step is to be attentive in listening to and hearing God speak through His Word. In saying that we should all be quick to listen (v19) he is recognising a very common human failing. Generally speaking people are not good listeners and are inclined to make premature responses – yet listening carefully and respectfully to others is at the heart of good and harmonious relationships. In listening for God and to God we need to listen to all that He says and not only the passages that make us feel good. If we do listen prayerfully we will find that this Word does speak to us and into our current lives and situations in many ways. His voice speaks through His Word.

“Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word”
(Psalm 103:20 NKJV)

This leads us to the second step which is responding in obedience to His Word. As. we read and reflect we will discover that God is showing us who and what we are as well as revealing to us who and what we could and therefore should be with Him. To make this future possible Jesus has dealt with our past on the Cross and God has given us His Spirit to guide, equip and empower us for the journey ahead.

Response:
What is God showing me today?

Prayer:

Lord God please help me to hear Your voice speaking to me through Your Word – and to receive it and respond to it as You love, encourage and guide me forward in Your Way. Amen.

————————-  


Leave a comment

Go Higher

2016-09-23

“God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles
the glorious riches of this mystery, which is
Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
(Colossians 1:27)

Reflection:
Christian lives can feel less like that of a soaring eagle and more like being constantly attacked by little black crows. They can irritate us, distract us from our identity and purpose, and even make us sound like them with snappy caws! The temptation is to stay on their level and focus on fighting them, instead of rising powerfully to heights that are beyond them.

Of course they will always be around somewhere. However, our calling is not to concentrate on resisting or fighting them, but to look and live above and beyond them – always moving forward, always drawing closer to the Lord, always crowding sin and temptation out of our lives by the presence of God and the goodness, beauty and activity into which He calls us.

The first step is to remember that God is not ‘out there’ somewhere. He is within His sons and daughters. He loves us, draws us and transforms us from the inside. Our salvation, in the form of our Saviour, has come from without and enters into those who receive Him. God the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us. We are the people of God not just because we follow Him but because He has entered into us and expresses Himself through us.

Being God’s people means that our focus must always be above the things of the world and on the God and Saviour of the world. Look again at the words that Paul uses – “the glorious riches” so different from the vindictive little black shadows that chase us; “Christ in you” – this is God of whom he is talking – His presence might be a mystery but it is certainly a reality; “The hope of glory” – our sure and certain hope is in the reality of this Christ within us.

You don’t become an eagle by fighting the crows. You soar with God to where the little black shadows can’t go. Cleansed by His blood, with His Spirit within you, the presence of God is where you belong. Focus on Him and trust in the certainty of His love, His provision and His protection. Don’t let sin drag you down, but allow God to lift you up. Trust Him, He will do it. Remember always that although we are physically limited there is no limit to the heights to which our spirits can go with the Lord.

Response:
Confess sin, and keep pressing into God.

Prayer:

Father, sometimes I feel as if I am dragging myself through the dust and dirt. Please help me to look from myself to You, and allow Your smile and love to lift me up again and again. Amen.

————————-

 


1 Comment

Fruit for all

2016-09-22

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples”
(John 15:8)

Reflection:
Spring is all around me. Whilst the daffodils are fading the azaleas are in glorious bloom. The silver birches, white stinkwood and fig trees that I can see from my window are clothed in bright new greenery. The pruned back hydrangeas are surging upward and outward and the quiet lilies are producing their first buds. The roses that looked gnarled and barren for months are on the point of bursting into the full flush of their first abundant display –as flower girls in front of the breath-taking beauty of the bride of the garden – the white may.  All this reminds me that our God is a God of beauty, abundance and wonderful generosity.

These lovely plants are doing just what they were created to do, bearing abundant fruit to the glory of their Creator and the blessing of those around them. It always strikes me that nature produces her fruit for others whilst humans tend to produce their fruit for themselves.

Obviously we earn our living from the use of the gifts that God has given to us. However we do need to be generous in our use of these gifts and the proceeds that come to us from their use. The Israelites were specifically instructed not to be too zealous in collecting the harvest but to leave some for the poor who came to glean what was left behind. King David also had this to say on the subject.

  • “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chronicles 29:14 NIV)
  • “But me–who am I, and who are these my people, that we should presume to be giving something to you? Everything comes from you; all we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand” (1 Chronicles 29:14 MSG)

Being generous with the goodness in our lives is not only about money. There is a generosity of spirit, a generosity with care, concern and compassion, a generosity with encouragement, understanding and patience, a generosity with prayer, with time and with specific talents.

I sometimes wonder what I would be like if I were a plant. Perhaps covered in lovely and fragrant blooms and fruit all the year round – or maybe a gnarled, twisted and unlovely thorn bush – or something in-between depending on my circumstances or mood. How would someone draw me – or you?

Response:
God has placed love and generosity in your heart. Set it free (-er)

The beauty that people will remember is not of form but of spirit.

Prayer:

Father You are beautiful beyond description and too marvellous for words. Please help me to be more like You and to gladden the hearts of those around me. Amen.

———————-

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

It does matter

2016-09-21

“I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt
to be your God;

therefore be holy, because I am holy.”
(Leviticus 11:45)

 

Reflection:
We are called to be Holy as God is Holy. The call to be like Him is a call back to the image of God in which humankind was first created. It is a call back to the original vision, the original relationship, the original identity and the original potential. It is a call to step onto the Way of the Lord and to journey in the ‘way’ in which He journeys – to become more and more like Him as the journey continues. Set aside for God we allow Him to work His transformation in us as we journey on together.

To be holy is not to refrain from some ways of life and living, it is to replace them with others. It is to be filled with a new passion – for true life in all that it involves, with its creativity, beauty and magnificence. It is to be on fire with love, life and light for Scripture tells us that:

  • God is love (1 John 4:16)
  • Jesus is the Life (John 14:6)
  • Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12)

It tells us also that our “God is a consuming fire.”(Hebrews 12:29)

This paints a picture of vibrancy and almost explosive delight in being – a being that is actively expressing itself all the time. The passion that created the universe in the first place is the passion that keeps it expanding and developing – and a passion that wishes to continually be rejoicing in new expressions of “It is good!” No wonder that Jesus, in the Revelation letter to the Church in Laodicea, could not stomach the thought of luke-warm Christians. A Christian should be a person who has discovered what true life and living is all about. The fire of the Spirit should be flaring up within them. As sin should make them weep as Jesus wept, so God should make them rejoice as Jesus did –

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete”
(John 15:11)

To be holy is to enter into life in its fullness, God’s life, – both to live it and to give it. As Jesus said that, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) so He intends that our life should reach its fulfilment in bringing life to the people and the situations around us. To truly live is to set others alive – just as a fire gets other fires going. In the process the passion for life and living consumes the darkness and degradation around it.

To be holy is not dependent upon context and circumstances. For Isaiah, for Jesus and for Paul –as well as others – the road and the human countryside through which they travelled, could and would be often hard, unattractive and unappealing. The fruit of their labours was sometimes hard to see, if not invisible, at the time. But the God who brought His people out of Egypt and through the desert to the Promised Land, is the Holy God at all times – as should be His “holy nation.” (Ex 19:6)

Response:
Take another step – ask God to pour His light, love and life into you, and to heal your spirit.

Keep looking for signs of God around you.

Prayer:

God is within me, God is around me, God is my life.

————————-


Leave a comment

Had to be birds

2016-09-20

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands”
(Psalm 19:1)

Reflection:
Honouring God in praise and worship is an important part of our relationship and communication with Him. In it we recognise Him for Who He is and for what He has done. We also remind ourselves of these things and in so doing increase our respect and vision of Him as well as building our own faith.

Many  find this difficult even although they readily praise others for their achievements –  such as sportsmen and women and entertainers.  In fact the world finds it important to recognise and praise such people – often to excess. In doing so they show very clearly their need for heroes and heroines.

We are surrounded by the works of God, all of which tell us something about Him. We have a Bible filled with details of His revelation of Himself and the great things that He has done. We belong to a Church that remembers and celebrates the greatest of these acts – and we have our own lives in which He has been active as well.

I wake early and recently sat and listened to the birds as they too awoke and began their early morning songs and choruses. I marvelled at the beauty and variety of these songs, the different voices that they had – some a liquid loveliness that appeared to pour out from their throats without limit. They sang singly and then joined together in a feathery chorus that awoke the dawn.

Instead of limiting myself to listening I reached for my Ipad and began to write – thanking God for the wonderful gift of birds and for their glorious songs. I recognised each voice as a separate creation, each song an individual poem, each tune a specific composition. I marvelled at the clarity and reach of these morning expressions, coming from such small creatures and winging away over fields and valleys and homes – seeming to reach up to the very heights of the heavenly places themselves.

And I saw that there just had to be birds in the whole scheme of creation – and that they just had to be the songsters and the praise singers of the Lord. And I marvelled at Him and thanked Him for such wonderful gifts.

Response:
Look around you and you’ll see.

I find the act of writing draws vision and understanding out from me – perhaps it will help you too.  Just write from the heart.

Prayer:

Lord God help me to open my eyes and my spirit to the wonder and beauty of Your creation and works – and to what they say about You. And help me to laugh in joy and wonder and turn to thank and praise and worship You, my wonderful Creator, Saviour and Friend. Amen.

——————-

 


Leave a comment

Meeting Place

2016-09-19

“Hide yourself by the brook Cherith …
you shall drink from the brook,
and I have commanded the ravens to feed you”

(1 Kings 17:3-4 ESV)

 

Reflection:
Like Elijah there will be times when we all need to withdraw to some lonely and special place. There away from the trials, temptations and turbulence of our lives we may rest for a while and be fed by the Lord. Here we may soak ourselves in the restoring rays of God’s love, drink from the healing and refreshing waters of His Spirit and feed on the life-giving and life–directing Word Himself.

Not everyone can walk the lonely trails of mountain, forest or stream at will. So we need to discover and establish a hidden and safe place within us. One into which we may withdraw at any time for a short or lengthy visit. A place furnished and friendly, comfortable and clean, warm and welcoming. Known only to ourselves and the Lord it is a place of instant refuge, repair and restoration.

We build such a place through establishing a regular pattern of prayer, Bible reading and silence. Prayer opens the windows to the Lord, meaningful Scriptures that we know and learn paper the wall, and our silences allow the fragrance and fullness of the Lord to fill the room, surround and settle on us and soak into our lives. It does not take long to set up and, once there, is available to us at any time. And it travels with us wherever we may go.

Here the Lord is always present, whether we sense Him or not, for this has become our meeting place. Here He provides us with the waters of the Spirit to cleanse and revive us. Here He feeds us with the Word that builds us up and guides us. Here He strengthens and encourages us for the journey still to come.

We all need this place, both spiritual and physical, where ‘the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness’ and where we may find and absorb the blessing of a life connected with the Lord and hidden from the world.

‘The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul’
(Psalm 23:1-3)

Response:
Create your daily meeting place with the Lord

Prayer:

Lord God, please create with me a quiet, green and lovely place where we may meet and enjoy each other. Amen.

———————