The Soaring Eagle

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


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“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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Who I am

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus”
(Ephesians 2:10)

Reflection:
 I am not what the world has made of me. I am who and what God created me to be, and into which He is leading me and expressing through me.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

However, this newness is not something or someone that God has recently dreamed up. My true identity and nature goes back into the mists before our time began. And God is restoring me into that image which has all the beauty of something new and untarnished – a someone I have never seen or even imagined.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
(Ephesians 1:4-5)

George Appleton, in his beautiful and deeply insightful prayer, expressed it like this,

“Give me a candle of the Spirit,
O God,
as I go down into the depths of my being.
Show me the hidden things,
the creatures of my dreams,
the storehouse of forgotten memories
and hurts.
Take me down
to the spring of my life,
and tell me my nature and my name.
Give me freedom to grow,
so that I may become that self,
the seed of which  You planted in me at my making.”

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Press on

“Train yourself to be godly”
(1 Timothy 4:7)

Reflection:
Generally we do not grow up as Godly people. We may be raised and trained to behave within the boundaries of ‘common decency’ but that does not make us Godly – no matter how closely some of those values might relate to Scriptural standards. Even then amongst them all we will be amazed at how many of the principles and ways of the world have become a part of our lives and living, together with what Paul has just referred to as ‘godless myths and old wives tales.’

Godly living means looking for the commands and teachings of God, Jesus and the apostles in Scripture and intentionally seeking to make them a foundational part of our values and practices. It would include looking at the example of Jesus Himself and seeking to live after that model – for to be Godly is to be like God. In essence therefore everything that we think and say and do should increasingly be to God’s pleasure and glory.

We see the importance of this as we recognise that we are no longer children of the world but the daughters and sons of God Himself. Whilst salvation can be an immediate transformation our different way of life has to be learned and lived, consciously and purposefully, until it becomes a natural expression of our new and God-given identity. The closer we draw to the Lord Himself the more natural and inspired this will become – although there will still be some inward battles where we need to pray and keep on praying for the help and strengthening of the Holy Spirit.

Like Paul we know that we have

‘not .. already been made perfect, but I press on.’

Response:
Sanctification is a life-long journey. Take another step today.

Prayer:

Lord God help me to desire to be more like You and not to slumber in the ways of the world around me. Please inspire and strengthen me every day and protect me from falling back again. Amen.

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