The Soaring Eagle

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


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Spirit of Forgiveness

“But you were washed, you were sanctified,
you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God”
(1 Corinthians 6:11)

Reflection:
Paul had just stated that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. He then listed examples of the things that he classified as wicked and sinful – the type of behaviour that had characterised some of them when they lived outside of the kingdom of God. Then came his great acclamation that ‘this is what some of you were.’ In other words they used to be like this but a radical transformation had taken place in their lives – “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”

In some ways this almost seems to be the answer to the great prayer of David when he was convicted by God of his sin with Bathsheba and for arranging for her husband to be killed.

  • ‘Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.’
  • ‘Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.’
  • ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.’

Nothing is worse than the awareness that sin has fastened its claws into us in such a way that we cannot get rid of it, we cannot re-write the past and we are forever stained, contaminated and guilty in the most terrible way. And yet here Paul is crying out for us to be aware of the great redemption open to us through the love and grace of God. For each and every one of us – no matter what we have done or failed to do – may be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit of God.

It is God Himself setting us free from the spiritual consequences of our past, washing us clean from every stain and setting us on our feet again to live a new and different kind of life with Him. We are called to face in a new direction – focussed on the Lord and not on ourselves. We are urged to flee from all sin and to live lives dedicated to the Lord. We are encouraged – if and when we fall – to ask God for forgiveness and help and to get back on our feet for another go at this new life with Him.

Hold on to the unimaginable truth and wonder of what God has achieved for you and which He seeks to make ever more real in your own life – what Barclay calls ‘this radiant power of Christianity which is triumphantly able to  make all things new’ –

“you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”

Response:
Reflect on these great truths, asking the Holy Spirit to make them live within you

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, please help me to receive Your great truths, make them live within me in such a way that new light shines into my darkness and sets me free to walk in the light, the life and the love of God. Amen.

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Spirit of Unity

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace”
(Ephesians 4:3)

Reflection:
Our relationship with God was fractured at the fall – and so were our relationships with creation and with one another. Jesus Christ came to make it possible for these relationships to be restored through His death and resurrection. And what He made possible is given effect by the Holy Spirit who comes to live within us and to minister to us at that level.

He draws us into the ‘body of Christ’ where the Lord Himself is the Head and we are the members. These members are then in a close and living relationship with both the Lord as Head and with each other. Any disunity amongst the members would grieve the Head and would be disastrous to the proper functioning of the body itself.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

As Christians we have one Lord, Jesus Christ, one Spirit of God who lives and ministers within us, and one God and Father of us all. Jesus prayed that we should be brought into the unity that exists between He and His Father and it is the Spirit who works to give effect to that prayer.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23)

It is this unity, which could only be brought about by God, which is supposed to be a witness to the world of God’s love and redemption in Jesus Christ.

As we recognise these truths we begin to see that the problems in the world may not only be because of those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord. It is also clear that the Body is not functioning as it should  – and it is certainly not presenting a unified face of love and of truth to the world. Until the world begins to see God in us it may not bother to look for Him anywhere else.

Response:
Where am I in disunity with other Christians and within myself?

Prayer:

Father God, please forgive me for the things within me that destroy my peace and cause me to withdraw from others. Please heal me and draw me closer to You so that I may be more of a point of love and healing in my context. Amen.

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Spirit of Gifts

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Reflection:
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a reality. This was the being ‘clothed with power,’ for which Jesus had told His disciples to wait, before embarking on the Great Commission. This empowerment was not just of the spirit, mind and body – they were empowered with specific gifts which they were to use in the course of their ministry, and to make them effective in the building of the Kingdom.

Paul’s teaching, now, is very specific.

  • The appearance of the Holy Spirit is to be real for each Christian.
  • The Spirit gives a variety of gifts – some of which are mentioned here.
  • The Spirit gives one or more of these gifts to each Christian.

No believer is excluded. The Holy Spirit, with a specific gift, comes to each one. And each includes you, just as it includes me. Whatever else we may have to offer God, the ministry in which He wishes us to be involved will be based upon the gift that the Holy Spirit gives to us. This is God knowing what has to be done, choosing His team, and equipping them with what they will need. And the gift that the Spirit gives to us is the one that He will empower and bless. It may, or may not, be an extension of a talent that we have.

If we are going to be effective in our place in the ‘Body of Christ’ – where all should be working in harmony with each other and towards the same end – then we need to identify and become experienced in the use of our particular gift/s. We will, in all probability, find it in the area for which we have, or are developing, a God-given ability or passion as opposed to a self-centred desire. It is important to ask God to help us to identify it, and also to seek the prayer and discernment of mature Christians whom we trust. Its focus will be to bring glory to God and achieve His purposes.

It is our very great privilege and honour to have been chosen, and called, into the salvation of Jesus Christ and into the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as the daughters and sons of the Eternal and Almighty God.

Response:
Determine to increasingly  live out your new life and ministry to God’s glory, under the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to know my spiritual gifts and to use them in love for Your glory and the blessing of others. Amen.

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Spirit of Purpose

“For we are God’s workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do”
 (Ephesians 2:10)

Reflection:
God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us. He has equipped, and will empower, us for that purpose. It is in that purpose that we will begin to find our satisfaction – not because of any material rewards that it might bring, but because it is so worthwhile doing.

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew He said to them, “I will make you fishers of men.” In other words, in the new identity that He would give to them this would be their purpose. Paul, in the passage above, affirms that in our ‘new creation’ as God’s sons and daughters, we are the workmanship (again) of Christ. A focus of that workmanship is that we will have been (re-) formed to do the ‘good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.’ He has a plan and a purpose for us.

Through the Holy Spirit, living within us, He equips, empowers and calls us into that purpose. Our peace will lie in recognising our calling, accepting it, and living it out. Some may be called to high and public office, others to quieter and less visible ministry. Each one is important in the plans and purposes of God. Where we are called is where we will be most effective. I cannot fulfil your purpose nor can you fulfil mine – each one has their own.

Chesterton famously wrote, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” That was not an excuse for sloppy work – its truth is in the fact that, if we are only able to do a worthwhile thing badly, it is still worthwhile doing! If we are only able to love Christ poorly, it is far better than not loving Him at all. And of course, in all of this, God is the One who will decide.

Everyone is called to be a person who receives and passes on the love of God in the situation in which He has placed them, and to which He will call them. We can begin and continue right where we are – living as the light and love of Christ in our particular world.

Every person has a God given purpose in this life. We are not to envy others but to recognise our own.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8)

Response:
God knows where I am. He can use me here. He will lead me on to wherever He wants me to be.

Prayer:

Father God, please help me to trust you with my life. Help me to be more open to You, so that I will not waste the opportunities open to me now, but use them to Your glory. Amen.

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Spirit of Fruit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
(Galatians 5:22-23)

Reflection:
Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:16) The fruit that people produce tells us much about them, their priorities, values and characters. If we wish to know more about God we can look to some of the fruit of His life.

Paul tells us that “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.” (Romans 1:19-20)

He also tells us that the fruit of the Holy Spirit – who is God – is the qualities listed above. This is the fruit that He wishes to reproduce in us, so that increasingly we reflect more and more of Him, as we were created to be and do.

  • Love – “God is love” (1 John 4:16)
  • Joy – Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”(John 15:11)
  • Peace – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” John 14:27)
  • Patience – “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience.”(1 Timothy 1:16)
  • Kindness – “in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”(Ephesians 2:7)
  • Goodness – “How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.” (Psalm 31:19)
  • Faithfulness – “For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” (Psalm 57:10)
  • Gentleness – “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”(Matthew 11:29)
  • Self-Control – “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”(Philippians 2:6-8)

Notice how they all flow from Love and feed into each other. It is as love begins to grow in our lives that it feeds the other areas as well. God wishes this fruit to be visible in our lives because this is what He is like. It is the fruit of God and not of man. As with a fruit tree it comes only from within. It is the fruit of the Spirit who lives within us and comes from Him as we submit to His ministry and guidance. The closer our walk with God the more abundant and lasting the fruit will be (John 15:5 & 16).

As we look at the world around us we can see clearly that the fruit of the Spirit is not generally evident – which is all the more reason for us to pray that God will bless us with it all. We might also pray particularly for those areas where He shows us that we are lacking in a particular way.

Response:
What is my fruit and where do I need more of God in my life?

Prayer:

Father, these are some of Your qualities that You wish to be reproduced in me. Please grow them in me through the blessing of the Holy Spirit, and help me to embrace them more and more. Amen.

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New Life

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’
says the LORD Almighty”
(Zechariah 4:6)

 

Reflection:
The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of Life.

Nothing of significance happens without Him. Essentially He receives the expressed will of God and gives it life – makes if happen – a living reality – fulfilling the desire and purpose of God.

We see Him first at work in Creation and when God breathed Him into man to give him life (Genesis 2:8). He was present at the Annunciation to give effect to the word of God to Mary (Luke 1:32). He was there at Jesus Baptism and led Him forward into His ministry (Luke 3:21-22; 4:1; 4:14). He came to the disciples at Pentecost and the beginning of the Church’s life and ministry (Acts 21-4). And He is the agent of new birth and new life for each Christian (John 3:5).

This life is vividly portrayed by Jesus in the illustration of the Vine and the branches. The branches attached to the Vine (Jesus) draw their life and sustenance from and through Him. Like the sap the Spirit flows into us from and through our association with the Lord. Those who are not attached to – or a part of the ‘Body’ of the Lord – cannot and do not receive this life force and so ‘wither and die” for there is no ‘life’ in them. Paul would therefor teach us that

“if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9)

It is through the Holy Spirit that this union or new birth takes place (John 3:5-6). And it is the Spirit who keeps us in and builds us up in this relationship so that in character we become more and more like the Lord. It is His power that enables us to face, forgive, live in and minister to the world around us. And it is through Him that the cleansing, healing, purifying and life-giving love of God is poured into our lives (Romans 5:5)

Without Him both body and spirit are withering away. With Him our spirits have begun a new life and journey that will expand and develop in the love and blessing of God throughout eternity – they will never die.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

It is important to note that He will give life to what is of God. That means it is important for us to join our lives to the Lord Jesus by asking Him to be our Lord and Saviour – and then seeking to live our lives according to His standards, directions and example. To do this we need to be soaking ourselves in the Scriptures as the word of God as well as developing and maintain contact with Him in prayer. It is a life-long journey and experience.

Response:
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

Prayer:

Father thank You for the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. Please (continue to) pour Him into my life and help me to be open and responsive to Him at all times. Amen.

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We need Love

 

“God has poured out his love into our hearts
 by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Romans 5:5)

 

Reflection:
God great desire is that we should all be a people of love. And because God Himself ‘is love’ the main commandments point us in that direction.

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37)
  • “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:39)
  • “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)
  • “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:35)

Paul goes on and teaches that without love nothing is achieved or of any value in the sight of God.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

If we were completely honest with ourselves, one of our greatest desires and needs would be both to be loved and to be able to love, freely and openly. Yet as we look around us the one word that we would use to describe our society, nation or the international situation would not be anything like the word love. Clearly then the love which God is talking about is not natural to human beings in general or to the society that they create.

The only source of this love is, in fact, God Himself. He is prepared to share the love that is in Him with us –those whom He has in Christ adopted as His daughters and sons. It comes with and through the Holy Spirit whom He has given us. Note how Paul uses the word ‘poured’ to describe the process – not dribbled or dripped or rationed in any way, but POURED. The sense is of the recipient’s heart being absolutely soaked in the love of God – so much so that it leaks out into every part of their life and being.

John sums it up for us as He again says simply,

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

Paul, having met and experienced this love for himself prayed that we too would know it for ourselves. It is a prayer that we could make our own.

“ And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

It is because we have been and are loved by God with this great, free, unmerited, unrestricted and unconditional love that we can begin to love Him and others in a similar way. Our first response, and our daily ongoing response, needs to be to ask God to pour, continue to pour and to keep on pouring this love of His into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And, as He does so, we can then let it out towards others. We need to, and the world in which we live needs us to – for if we do not pass it on it dries up within us.

Response:
Ask for love and give love in faith – for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Love

Prayer:

Father please pour Your love into my heart by Your Holy Spirit. Help me to open myself to recognise and receive it and to begin to share it with others even now. Thank You Lord. Amen.

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