The Soaring Eagle

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


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Keep on

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by his grace gave us
eternal encouragement and good hope,
encourage your hearts and strengthen you
in every good deed and word.”

(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

Reflection:
Paul never thought that God was a disinterested spectator in the affairs of the world, of His Church and of His people individually. His learning and his experience taught him otherwise. His encounter with the living Jesus, his experience of the Holy Spirit and the way God opened his eyes to the Scriptures convinced him of God’s presence, purpose and commitment. He lived his life accordingly.

Christian life and ministry can, at times, be very lonely and insecure. We may wonder where God is and if what we are about has any significance or value in the greater scale of things. We need to remember that Jesus gave His life, and His ongoing commitment, to the people who would believe in Him and continue His work and ministry. Every aspect of it, whether thought, word or deed is of importance and, if of God, contributes towards the building and extension of His Kingdom. Each one of us does indeed have a Circle of Influence, far wider in today’s world than we would at first imagine. God encourages us to use that influence to bless others and bring glory to Him.

If God desires something to happen, whether on an international or personal front, then He will support and empower it. If God wishes you or me to lead a particular type of life – a holy life – then He will support, empower and encourage it. Because He wants us to reflect Him in our world He will inspire and strengthen us. He will also stand with us when the enemy attacks us and attempts to scare us into inactivity or lead us astray. He will be both our strength and our refuge.

Jesus great promise is to be with us always. He undertook also that the Holy Spirit would be within us and be the one to  bring God’s love into our hearts. We are not alone – God is at work within and around us even when we are blind to His presence.

Response:

Remind yourself of Jesus’ presence. Involve Him in everything.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus do help me to remember that  You are with me always. Please help me to acknowledge You and  to think, speak and act in ways that honour You – and strengthen and encourage me every step of the Way. Amen

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You are mail

“You show that you are a letter from Christ,
the result of our ministry,
written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
(2 Corinthians 3:3)

 

Reflection:
 I really miss getting hand-written letters. There was something very personal and warm about them – far more so than with much of today’s instant mail.

 How wonderful it is that God did not send out impersonal tweets, texts or bulk mail when He had something important to say. He spoke directly, He spoke through the prophets and He has spoken most revealingly through His Son. Even Scripture as the divinely inspired written record is filled with carefully chosen words and descriptions – all designed to help reveal to us more of the Lord Jesus and to point us to Him.

He speaks also through us. We become His letters – living messages that can be seen, examined and spoken to. His message is not written on the cold screen of the latest tablet with all of its high definition and artificial colour, but on the living and pulsating hearts of His people. He who said that if we had seen Him we had seen the Father would want to say of us that if people wished to see Him they should look at us! With His light within us we become ‘the light of the world!’ We are called to be living and speaking witnesses of His Way, Truth and Life.

People read us all day and every day. We leave an impression on everyone – like footprints in the sand. We affect them. And a part of the good news is the fact that the message of God’s perfect love and grace is carried within the visibly imperfect envelopes of our lives. If God loves us then He can love anyone.

Response:
Tread with love through the lives of others today.

Prayer:

Lord write Your message on my heart – and may it be the only one that shines out from me. Amen.

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Can I Help?

“Carry each other’s burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”
(Galatians 6:2)

Reflection:
Many years ago whilst travelling away on holiday we came across a woman toiling up a country hill with a large sack of potatoes balanced on her head. My father stopped the car and offered her a lift, saying that the potatoes could easily travel on the roof-rack. A bit hesitantly she accepted the offer and joined us inside. We travelled easily up the hill and along the sand road for a while until she pointed out the cluster of round huts where she lived. Very gratefully she took up her load again and walked more easily away across the fields.

For the three boys in the back seat who had to crush together to accommodate the extra passenger, who was both large and obviously very strong, the end came not too soon. However even we could appreciate the difference between our slight discomfort and the strain she had been under for so much longer.

Sometimes helping someone is as simple as that. At other times it might involve some greater time and involvement – or even less, such as a smile and a friendly greeting and appreciation of some act of service. And then of course there is the added option of praying with someone or just for them as God draws our attention to them and we notice a sadness or expression of pain.

Everyone we meet will be carrying a personal burden of one form or another. There are so many ways in which we can lighten their load, or their sense of their load, with a bit of imaginative caring. When Jesus told us to love one another He was really telling us to engage with each other in ways that were life giving, life enhancing and life healing. For as He came that we might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10) so He wants to express that some focus in us and through us.

Response:
Look at the people around you – and listen to their silent voices, and to God’s prompts.

Prayer:

Father You have blessed and helped me in so many ways over so many years and through so many people, Please help me to be a blessing to others so that their hearts  may be lifted and their lives made easier as a result. Amen.

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Thank You!

“Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed?
Where are the other nine?
Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
(Luke 17:17-18)

Reflection:
Whenever I read this account I am convicted of how very much I take for granted.

Jesus has just healed 10 lepers. He sent them off to show themselves to the priest to be declared healed and able to take their place in society again. As they went, the record tells us, ‘they were cleansed.” The effect on them must have been remarkable – for they were healed not only physically but of their being social outcasts, having only other diseased people as there companions and friends.

One of them returned to Jesus ‘praising God in a loud voice’ and ‘threw himself at Jesus feet and thanked Him.’ Looking at him, a Samaritan, Jesus asked the question – “Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” By implication most, if not all, of the others had been Israelites. The sadness was that as much as they may have rejoiced in their healing they ignored the One who had healed them and given them back the gift of life and living.

Every day is a day of the wonder and grace of God. Each one is an occasion when we may look for Him and find Him in new ways. Each moment offers us the opportunity to return our thoughts to Him and to speak to Him of our lives and His love. And there is so much for which to thank Him – from the wonder of our minds and bodies to the awesome extent, detail and beauty of His creation, from the ongoing blessing of His forgiveness, cleansing and healing of our spirits to the people who have been and are a blessing in our lives.

Response:
Take a moment now to thank God for something or someone who has blessed you – and maybe to thank them as well.

Prayer:

Thank You Father for the life You have given me, for my new life in Jesus Christ, and for the countless ways in which You have reached out to me in love and blessing. Thank You so very much. Amen

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Gift from the heart

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her?
She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
(Mark 14:6)

Reflection:

A woman had just anointed Jesus with extremely expensive perfume. Some of those present – probably all men – were indignant, called it a waste and said that it could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor. They rebuked her harshly. Jesus intervened and told them not to bother her for what she had done to Him was a ‘beautiful thing.’ He continued,

“I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:9)

How easy it is to become conceptual and legalistic – and to forget that love lies at the very heart of our relationship with God and each other. True love can be very extravagant and seemingly wasteful as John reminds us,

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,” (John 3:16)
  • “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

God’s example is of a ‘lavish love’ that does not hold back but expresses itself wonderfully. The woman had clearly been deeply touched by this love and was responding in the most expressive way that she could. This was not the love of obedience but the overflowing love from a grateful heart. It clearly touched Jesus deeply. So significant did He find it that He promised, and ensured, that it would continue to be told wherever the gospel was preached.

But there was something more. Although the woman would have been unaware of it Jesus saw in her actions an anointing of Him in preparation for His burial that lay just ahead. He had been blessed by love just before He was deserted, rejected and abused. And such was the power of the perfume that it was probably still noticeable when He was nailed to the cross.

Response:
Could you do a beautiful thing for the Lord today – or for someone He cares about?.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for always wanting something from You. Touch my heart with Your love so that I too may wish to love You back unreservedly. Amen.

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Check yourself

“Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.”
(Proverbs 3:7)

Reflection:
The only one with complete knowledge and total understanding is God. He is also the only one who has total and absolute power and authority.

As Christians therefore our starting point must always be with God and in our having a very healthy respect for Him. As the Psalmist says,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10)

It follows then that whatever the Lord says needs to be taken seriously. What He calls evil is, therefore, evil and should be shunned. What He calls good is good, and should be embraced. God does not adjust His opinions and values on the basis of our debates, desires and decrees. The Gospels and Epistles have some very clear teaching on Christian living to which we need to adapt our living. They are there for our guidance and to prevent us from falling into the trap of our own reasoning and desires.

The Message puts it very helpfully his way.

“Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD! Run from evil!”

Response:
Do a faith check this weekend to see where you might be casual, ignorant or worldly in your attitude to life and to the Lord.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please lead me deeper into the truth – and draw me closer to the Lord in thought, word and deed. Amen.

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God’s Gifts

“Be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart;
consider what great things he has done for you”

(1 Samuel 12:24)

Reflection:
If we were not so caught up in the modern attitude of self-absorption we might be able to see more clearly and with far more appreciation.

The essential person within each of us is unique and a gift from God. The created order in which we live is a gift from God. Our ability to see it, and appreciate it, and understand it, and work within and with it are gifts from God. Each one of our senses is a gift from God. Our abilities and talents are gifts from God. Our sensitivities and emotions are gifts from God. Our abilities to know, understand and communicate with each other are gifts from God. Love is a gift from God.

Things like electricity, plumbing, computers, television, smartphones, microwaves, medicines, medical equipment, motor vehicles, aeroplanes, ships and so many other things are gifts from God – built into the created order that He has made available to us.

The sun, the moon and the stars are gifts from God. Birds and bird-song, the fish of the seas and the animals of the earth are gifts from God. Plants, grass and crops are a gift from God. Rain and wind are gifts from God. The seasons are gifts from God. The towering mountains and the shaded valleys, the rivers and the seas, the forests and the plains are gifts from God.

God is a gift from God. Jesus Christ is a gift from God. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God. Our relationship to the Father as His sons and daughters is a gift from God. The Holy Bible is a gift from God. The Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Second Coming are gifts from God. Salvation is a gift from God.

Response:
“Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:14)

Prayer:

Lord open my eyes that I may see, marvel and be grateful. Amen.

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