The Soaring Eagle

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


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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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My Lifebelt

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
(1 Corinthians 2:2)

Reflection:
In the early stages of my then new journey with Christ I encountered a very real period of darkness. My beliefs, and even the Scriptures themselves, were attacked by others. They took it upon themselves to show me where both I and the Bible were wrong. I did not know enough to debate with them, even although something within me said that they were incorrect. I felt myself foundering, as if my ship of faith had sunk, and I was drifting alone in a sea of doubt.

It was then that I ‘remembered’ this statement of Paul’s. I can so clearly recall thinking that if it was good enough for Paul then it was good enough for me. This Jesus who had died on the cross for us would not let me drown. The picture that formed in my mind was of these words painted on a red and white life belt – the sort that hung on passenger liners. I mentally hooked my one arm through it, grasped my wrist with the other hand, and determined to hold on to this Scripture until God did something. I allowed myself to float along spiritually – just waiting. I did not think about the issues that had been raised, I just focussed on this one verse, waited and trusted. I kept attending church, and ceased having conversation with the people who sought to torpedo my faith.

Nothing dramatic happened but, as the weeks and months went by, I felt as if in a real way the ‘ocean floor’ was rising to meet me. The water was getting shallower and shallower and, one day, I knew that I had walked out of the sea of doubt. I was safe again on firm ground. The Jesus Christ who was crucified for me had brought me through the darkness, loneliness and confusion, to the simplicity of it all – Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Lord. He was my sure foundation and belief. It was not just knowing about Him, but getting to know Him, that brought light, life and love. He was with me.

I came to realise too that I could look at Scripture in a new way – from His side, instead of from the side of men.

He had rebuked the people when He said,

“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”  (John 5:39-40)

It was not their study that was wrong. It was that they had stopped short by focussing only on the words, and not on the God who gave the words. And they missed out on Him who was now come as the Living Word. This is always the first, and most important, step – to come into a relationship with the Living Christ. The vital Scriptures, which point to Him, then become alive in a new and vibrant way, as the Emmaus disciples found.

“For I resolved to know nothing …. except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Response:
Wherever you are in life, look to Jesus and ask Him to help you to draw closer to Him.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you.”  (James 4:8)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, in the darkness of this world, which so affects me, please shine Your light, life and love into me, so that I may know You, love You and follow You more nearly. Amen.

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His Strength

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength,
that he considered me faithful,
appointing me to his service”
(1 Timothy 1:12)

Reflection:
It is a sobering thought that in calling and appointing us God considers us faithful – faithful to Him and to the particular ministry and mission to which He has called us and in which we will serve Him.

Notwithstanding his past God had now entrusted Paul with a new focus, way of life and ministry – and he trusted Paul to live it out. It is not that God left Paul to get on with it but He also gave to Paul the strength that he would need. In fact what was happening was that God was confident that He could carry out through Paul His plan and purpose and that Paul would be faithful enough to co-operate with and trust Him.

What God did with Paul and the others He does also with us – whether he calls us onto the international and public stage or the local and private one.  Our response is to have faith in Him and to be faithful to Him.

By ourselves no person “is good enough, or strong enough, or pure enough, or wise enough to be the servant of Christ. But, if they will give themselves to Christ, they will go, not in their own strength, but in the strength of their Lord.” (Barclay)

With Paul then we can indeed say that,

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength”  (Philippians 4:13)

Response:
God will give me the strength today to deal with His purposes today

Prayer:

Lord I am weak – in body, mind and spirit – but You are strong and invincible. Help me to trust You for my today and tomorrows and allow You to work Your will in, through and around me. Amen.

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Listen

“Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law”
(Psalm 119:18)

Reflection:
“What about me!” When things get tough and I’m feeling down it is so easy for that cry to rise to my lips.

This morning in my reading it struck me how often some of the kings of Israel would immediately turn to the Lord in a problem. They went to find out what He had to say – and not only to plead for help. Sometimes His response was challenging where they had been guilty of ongoing sin – whilst at others it was encouraging and affirming.

I know for myself that when I have gone seeking Him in prayer and Scripture He invariably responds with a direct word or a biblical passage. Sometimes the response has been immediate whilst at others He has quietly waited until He has brought me to a better spiritual place – often where I am quieter and prepared to listen!

Again and again He has spoken to me through a word that has caught my attention whilst reading. As I have paused, there has come a stillness and quietness within and I have been comforted, encouraged and strengthened by His presence and response.

He does not always remove the problem but the knowledge of His intimate and loving presence has given me peace. And I have walked forward with Him.

Response:
What God wants to say in a situation is more precious than my demands

Prayer:

Father, You are with me always – and You care so much for me and about me. Help me to stay close to You and to trust You with all of me. Amen.

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Awesome Wonder

“But as for me, through the greatness of Your mercy,
I will come into Your house;
I will bow down towards Your holy temple
in awe of You”
 (Psalm 5:7)

Reflection:
Every now and then I am struck anew by the amazing privilege of God in my life. This verse did it again for me this morning.

Who am I that I should be so privileged as to know of God and to know Him in my life? I am aware of Him in the day and in the night-time. I see His hand and His love in the glory of creation – the majestic display of the setting sun, the soft splendour of its rising, and the silent, stately beauty of the moon. I hear His love and praise in the liquid songs of the early morning birds, the haunting cry of the fish eagle and the gentle whisper of the wind amongst the leaves. I see His joy in the laughter of a child and the song of a mother – and I feel His pain in their rejection and abuse.

And, although I am surrounded by people who deny Him, reject Him or take Him for granted, I know that He listens when I speak, talks to me when I listen and answers my prayers – some times with quiet, ‘little’ miracles of grace and glory.

And then when I read that He chose me before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight, and that in love He predestined me to be adopted as His son so that I might be for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1: 4, 5, 12) it is beyond anything I can understand. I shake my head in wonder and amazement – and feel tears of gratitude well up within me.

I know where my journey is going and where it will end. In some strange and mysterious way I am already there. In my spirit I enter freely and unashamedly into the house of the Lord – where I belong. And I kneel before Him in humble gratitude, love and worship.

Response:
Wherever you are, and however you are, today let Him remind you that as His beloved child He is with you now and forever.

Prayer:

Thank you Lord God, my Holy Father, for Your great love, mercy and grace towards me. Thank You for reaching out to touch me, love me and draw me to Yourself. Help me please to believe in and know Your love, and to trust Your love forever. Amen.

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Choose Life

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice,
and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life”
 (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Reflection:
Very clearly were the two options set out before the Israelites. They could choose to go their own way or that of the Lord. God’s way came with His promise of His presence and blessing – whilst the other way would inevitably lead to death and destruction.

Every day we are faced again with the same choice. Do I walk God’s way or the way of the world – for it is very clear that much of the world had chosen another path.

God calls us to love and honour Him, to listen to what He says and to obey Him, to hold on to Him and never let go – in fact to walk in intimacy and trust with the majestic God of all creation. In doing so the nation was promised that His blessings would flow to both them and their children – a most wonderful bequest.

Depending upon where we are in life it can sometimes be a lonely decision – but individually we need to decide and to trust the Lord for His strength and protection. For indeed He is our life and there is no life without Him.

Response:
Choose God at every step of the way – it is much easier than trying to recover lost ground.

Prayer:

Lord God I do choose You, and I  Know that you have chosen me. Please help me to remain true to You as You will always be true to me. Amen.

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