The Soaring Eagle

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


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Core Value 4

“For God did not call us to be impure,
but to live a holy life”
(1 Thessalonians 4:7)

Reflections:
God, God’s Word and Prayer – the three Core Values that we have touched on so far. To them must be added one that clearly follows – Holy Lives. This is emphasised in Scripture a number of times,

  • “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44)
  • “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1)
  • “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15)

Holiness means that we are set apart for God, and not for ourselves or the world – we are God’s people, called to live His way, His truth and His life.

  • “And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6)
  • “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8)
  • “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

In terms of the Old Covenant holiness was a requirement for salvation and to remain as God’s chosen people – which the people demonstrated that they were completely unable to live out.

  • “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6)

In terms of the New Covenant holiness is seen as a consequence of our salvation and our new standing as the adopted daughters and sons of God. It reflects what God has already done for us and in us and is evidence of the Holy Spirit living within us – for it is He who produces this fruit. We allow Him to do so by surrendering ourselves to Him, recognising what it is that He is wanting to do in our lives and co-operating with Him. We already know what this is because we have seen something of it in the character of God, the example of the Lord Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Holiness then is living as the daughters and sons of God in the power of the Holy Spirit whilst still in the midst of a fallen world. There will be many a struggle before we relinquish some of our ingrained habits and desires – but the Holy Spirit will never give in because He will give effect to God’s desire and purpose for us. The sooner the better, for we will then experience more of the fullness of the life that He has for us and experience more of the reality of His great love.

  • “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Prayer:

‘Most High and Holy God, enthroned in fire and light, burn away the dross of our lives and kindle in us the fire of Your love, that our lives may reveal the light and life and love we find in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.

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Core Value 3

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God”
( Philippians 4:6)

Reflection:
After God and His Word the next core value of ours must be Prayer – for prayer is our communication with God. Without proper and two-way communication both our prayer life and our daily lives become one-sided and often misguided. If the Incarnation of Jesus Christ has taught us one thing it is that God cares for, and engages with, His people.

We are encouraged in Scripture to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and about everything (Philippians 4:6). Jesus also taught us to persevere in prayer (Luke 18:1). There will be so much that we want to say to God.

However prayer is not only about our concerns but about God’s desires as well. This comes out clearly in the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples. Very definitely God’s will is placed first and foremost.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“`Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
(Matthew 6:9-10)

Our prayer life becomes far more dynamic if we are also praying the prayers that God would want us to – that intentionally align themselves with His will and purpose. For this to happen we needs must ask Him what He would wish us to pray, and then listen for His response. It may take practice but as we persevere we will learn to recognise the ways in which He talks to us.

We are told that

“Christ Jesus … is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34)

This is very inspirational and encouraging – and how wonderful to align our prayers with His. They will be the love-filled prayers that God desires to answer because they will be the best for us and our situations. Some of them will surprise us.

And for those instances where, for whatever reason, we do not know how to pray then we can do so in the Spirit – either in tongues or by holding the situation wordlessly before God as our spirit communicates with His – silently or through our tears and anguish.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27)

Prayer is far more than sending texts off into the blue. It is at the heart of a living relationship with the Living God, and one of the most vital and valuable activities in which we can engage – even at the initial level described here. Given the opportunity God will take us far deeper.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please enter into my prayers – guide me, and help me to listen for, and to recognise, the voice of God in the way that He chooses to communicate with me. Amen.

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Core Value 2

“Jesus answered, “It is written:
`Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes
from the mouth of God”
(Matthew 4:4)

Reflection:
Our primary value must be God. However, hard on its heels must be what God says to us – so our next Core Value would be the Word of God. In fact Jesus tells us that true life is only sustained by our recognising, receiving and responding to all of God’s revelation to us.

God has spoken to humankind in two major ways.

There is His creation

  • “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20)

There is the Bible – a record of God’s revelation of Himself, His will and His purpose for humankind. It contains also His directives and information concerning our lives and relationship with Him as His daughters and sons through Jesus Christ.

  • “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105)
  • “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:1-3)

If our first core value is to worship God at all times in thought, word and deed, then our next is to soak ourselves in the knowledge and understanding of His Word – allowing it to form and inform us and to guide our everyday lives. This is where the Holy Spirit is of such importance for it is He who gives us the wonderful insights and deep understandings that we need.  A revelation of the majesty, glory and love of our great and glorious God Almighty.

Prayer:

Lord God help me to get my priorities right – to worship You and to feed on Your Word. May Your Holy Spirit bless, guide and feed me and continuously pour Your love into my heart. Amen.

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Core Value 1

Jesus answered, “It is written:
`Worship the Lord your God
and serve Him only”
(Luke 4:8)

Reflection:
 We need core values by which we live our lives – values that are different from those of the world. Jesus established some of His during the temptations after His baptism. Others appeared during His ministry.

Our primary value must be God – revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This keeps being emphasised throughout Scripture,

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”  (Matthew 22:37)
  • “You shall have no other gods before Me”  (Exodus 20:3)
  • “No one can serve two masters … You cannot serve both God and Money”  (Matthew 6:24)

To worship God is not to merely say the words but to live it out in our lives.

  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29)
  • “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2)
  • “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men .. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24)

God is to be first and foremost in our lives.  God is to be present in, and the focus of, all that we think and say and do. God is to be the One whom we trust for all that we need at all times and in all situations. God is to be the object of our deepest love, highest honour and most reverent adoration.

It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact it cannot happen at all without the guidance, strength and blessing of the Holy Spirit Himself. However, as under His inspiration we set the sights of our lives upon the Lord, He will take us on a journey towards the fulfilment of God’s desires for us. On it God will begin to wean us away from the things of the world and the flesh and to purify us in such a way that His love may be poured into us without impediment.

Prayer:

‘Most High and Holy God, enthroned in fire and light, burn away the dross of our lives and kindle in us the fire of Your love, that our lives may reveal the light and life and love we find in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.

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You are Mine

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”
(Isaiah 43:1)

 

Reflection:
One night, in the early hours of the morning, I was up looking out at the quiet, moonlit silence. The Lord prompted me to pick up and open my Bible. I did so and found myself reading these words – the first to appear at the top of the page.

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”

I stood and pondered their profound and wonderful significance. For indeed He had called me by name and here was the deeply personal reminder of that calling – together with the marvellous and intensely touching affirmation – “You are Mine!”

In a world of great insecurity where to be accepted and acceptable today is no guarantee of tomorrow, where the hurts, failures and rejections of yesterday cloud our vision of today and wrap the future in a shifting mist – where the loves and lovers of this day might be gone by the next – in the midst of all this painful uncertainty – I belong. I am owned and valued. There is a Someone who says of me with love, certainty and everlasting significance, “You are mine.”

 In fact the truth is that He looked for me, tracked me down, called and reached out to me, and took me into His life and His heart. It was no passing whim, no sudden impulse to be forgotten and ignored – but a deliberate and conscious decision and act that had eternity in mind.

What is true for me is true also for each and every one of the sons and daughters of this great and wonderful God. Whatever our earthly state the eternal truth remains and will never end either here or throughout the blissful endless ages to come.

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”

Response:
Take a moment to receive, accept and own this tremendous truth

Prayer:

Father God I am Yours – and I rejoice with humble awe and wonder. You have called me and are transforming me day by day into the person You always intended me to be –and You will never ever let me go. Thank You so much. Amen.

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Yes you can

“Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us”
(Hebrews 12:1)

 

Reflection:
Firstly, there are spectators. There to watch, to support, to encourage and to applaud, they are keenly interested in and supportive of our Christian lives and ministries. This should also make us pause if we are tempted into something which is unhealthy, unhelpful and unholy!

Secondly, there is the training involved. We cannot possibly merely drift along in the great race of the Christian life. Like all serious athletes we should be looking at a regular and healthy balance in our life-style as well as discarding surplus weights and activities. Some of these may not be wrong in themselves but may hinder us in our particular journey. Others may well be directly detrimental to our spiritual and physical lives and efforts. Through it all we are expected to practice our own particular ‘disciplines’ or gifts and be aware and concerned about our fellow travellers.

Thirdly, there is the finishing line. The race of life is all about how and where we are going. This involves recognising and avoiding distractions and keeping our focus and attention on the Lord at all times so that we continually end up in the right place at the right time.

    “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

It is small wonder the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control. If we are to run our particular race faithfully and to the end – there to receive not just the applause of the spectators but the ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ from a smiling Lord Jesus – we will need the self-discipline required to make the journey less of a trial and more of a joy.

Response:
I have been chosen – let me own and finish my race

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You have chosen me to be a member of Your team. Help me to run my part of the race faithfully, and with commitment and self-control, living at all times to Your honour and glory. Amen.

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Fight on!

“Fight the good fight of the faith.
 Take hold of the eternal life
to which you were called
when you made your good confession
 in the presence of many witnesses.”
(1 Timothy 6:12)

Reflection:
We face challenges on two fronts. One is the public front of proclaiming and living out our faith –  living new and committed lives within the sight of those around us, some of whom may be either cynical or actively opposed. The great temptation is to keep our faith secret and hidden and so avoid any confrontations or embarrassments.

The private challenge is dealing with the fears, attitudes and temptations that seem to flood our lives, sometimes taking us by surprise. We can begin to doubt our faith, integrity and sincerity and, if we are not careful, descend into a pit of hopelessness as we lose faith in ourselves!

On both these fronts, and indeed in every aspect of our lives, we need to realise that we are under attack. The enemy of God is opposed to both Him and His people and will do what He can to trip or sidetrack us. As he did with Eve he will seek to remove our eyes from God and re-focus them on ourselves. Another prime example is when Peter was walking on the water towards Jesus. He was fine whilst his focus was on the Lord. He began to sink when he looked instead at the mountainous waves and allowed the fear inside him to well up.

Peter was one of those who knew the reality of spiritual warfare and tells us,

  • “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Paul was also aware of the battles that went on within him,

  • “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

Do not lose heart because of your sins and shortcomings. Keep your eyes on the Lord, keep your faith in Him, continually bring your fears and failures to Him and trust Him to cleanse, strengthen and protect you at all times. Accept His forgiveness and help! Having died for you He has not now lost interest in you or become an impartial spectator. He is still totally committed to your salvation and new life and will help you onwards into it. ‘Take hold of the eternal life’ that is Jesus and never let go of Him. His love and grace are far larger and more powerful than any deficiencies and weaknesses of yours. And when you feel that your grip is weakening remember these words of J. C. Shairp,

“Let me no more my comfort draw
From my frail hold on Thee;
In this alone rejoice with awe –
Thy mighty grasp of me!”

 Response:
Trust God at all times – even when you fail or fall.

Prayer:

Father, please help me never to lose faith in You and in Your great love. And when I fail help me not to become a bundle of misery but to get up and carry on with You, Amen.

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