The Soaring Eagle

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


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Wash Me

“Cleanse me with hyssop,
 and I will be clean;
wash me,
and I will be whiter than snow”
(Psalm 51:7)

Reflection:
Lying in a hospital bed one day I looked up to see two strapping nurses come through the door of my ward. Sensing trouble I asked what they were there for and heard the response, “We have come to wash you.” There was nothing I could do except smile weakly and submit myself to the indignity of it all.

In fact they were very professional and very good – and maintained throughout a conversation with each other that had nothing to do with me. Once they had left I was both very relieved and surprised at how much better I felt to be cleaner.

There are times when we cannot cleanse ourselves – and that is particularly true when there is some sin that has left us feeling soiled and stained. It is then that we almost desperately need God to come and cleanse us – not casually whilst talking of something else –but purposefully and with focussed attention. This is what David had in mind when after the realisation of his sins with and because of Bathsheba he cried out to God,

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

There is a cleansing that can only come from God. That is it necessary is underlined by Jesus who said,

“Unless I wash you,
you have no part with me.”

(John 13:8)

That it is freely available to the repentant sinner is made clear by John,

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 
(1 John 1:9)

All of us have sins that we need to bring to the Lord – for forgiveness, cleansing and healing. And having done so we should ensure that we also take time to forgive ourselves. For who are we to remain in judgement of ourselves when the Lord of the Cross has set us free!

Response:
Don’t delay – do it know. Ask the Holy Spirit to witness God’s forgiveness to your spirit.

Prayer:

Father God I confess  to You that I have sinned in these ways …… . Please forgive me, cleanse me of the sin and stain, heal me of the weaknesses and strengthen me against the temptations, in Jesus name. Amen.

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Came the Light

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
(Isaiah 9:2)

 

Reflection:
The advent of the Messiah was seen as the equivalent of a great light entering into a deathly darkness. The quality of the light is stressed by the use of the word great. It is not the flickering of a candle seen across the midnight fields but more the sudden rising of the sun after a moonless night.

This same idea is picked up by John in the first verses of his gospel.

  • “That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5 HCSB)
  • “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9)

The darkness of the world to which both the prophet and the apostle refer is the spiritual darkness that blankets and smothers life and hope, which destroys relationships and peace, turns love into a sadness and encourages all that is vile and destructive. In this darkness the only person we often can see is ourselves and this can become the focus of the individual, the community and the nation. For many life is a living death and death a fearsome obliteration.

The coming of the Messiah as ‘the Light of the world’ couples together both light and life.

  • “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4)

The light which transforms our lives is the new light that is in Jesus Christ. It draws us to Him and although it may not immediately change our present situation it can transform us within our situation, which in itself will bring change.

This light and life is associated with another word – love. They come from the God almighty who is described to us by John as love. The three belong together – love, light and life. It is this trinity that God wishes to impart into our lives and situations.

Whoever and wherever we are today this is the gift that God wishes us to receive from Him.  As we celebrate the birth of the One who is both Saviour and Lord, Life and Light, and the fullest expression of Love,  we celebrate the greatest Gift known to humankind.

Question:
Do I see darkness and/or light in my life?

Response:
Whatever I have of the Lord I need more.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus may Your Light within me grow ever stronger as I walk in trust and obedience with You – and may I become more of Your light in the world around me. Amen.

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True Light

“The darkness is passing
and the true light is already shining”
(1 John 2:8)

Reflection:
At the beginning of his Gospel John wrote that ‘the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.’ Now he says quite clearly and with absolute certainty that

“the true light is already shining”

This is of enormous importance and significance to us. The Light which is Jesus Christ is here, in our darkness, burning with an inextinguishable flame and bringing the light of truth, revelation, life and hope into the lives of people who are able to see and receive it. Because He is here with His Light shining two things are happening to the darkness.

Firstly the darkness is beginning to pass. Take note of that tiny word ‘is’. It is not ‘might’ or ‘maybe’ but ‘is’. By virtue of the Light that has come amongst us the darkness has begun to give way. And the more brightly the Light is enabled to shine the more the darkness will have to retreat. This is both a physical law and a spiritual one.

Secondly, the Light enables us to see the darkness more clearly. We will both perceive that it is darkness and realise the nature of it. Whilst we might fear that the darkness is increasing it may also be true that we are enabled to see and recognise this darkness more clearly – which means that the Light is shining with increasing strength and clarity. What before was hidden is now progressively being revealed in greater detail. God is at work.

Whatever the state of your world hold onto the truth that the true light is already shining there. God is with us, and always will be.

Response:
The Light of Christ is in my world – let me see and walk in His Light.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus thank You that Your light is revealing the darkness in me and around me. Please help me to surrender my darkness to You and to avoid the darkness of the world – and please shine Your light through my thoughts, words and deeds.  Amen.

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Dawn from on high

“By the tender mercy of our God
    the dawn from on high will break upon us”
(Luke 1:78 NRSV)

Reflection:
There is nothing quite like the birth of a new day. Where I live it is a lovely process for the sun does not suddenly leap into the sky but announces its arrival through a gentle lifting of the light. The quality of the darkness changes. Black becomes grey before the first touches of colour bless the drifting clouds. And the birds! Unseen they herald this new dawn. Small bulbuls lift their heads to pour from tiny throats the most glorious and liquid songs of praise to our God. Weavers chatter amongst themselves and the crested barbet worships in long and breathless arias of love.  These are holy moments indeed. And they call us to rise from our slumbers. Not with minds restless and cluttered with the uncompleted and unfulfilled remnants of yesterday – but open and eager for the light and love and life-inspired opportunities that await us, with all their potential and possibility. This is not an old day recycled but a new day to be lived and blessed.

Our Lord Jesus so often comes into our lives as He came into the world. He came slowly and in small beginnings, not striding through the heavens in glorious and terrifying majesty. He came to love and win our love through gentleness, tenderness and compassion – with heart and arms open to the ragged and tattered and soiled souls that were drawn to Him.  And so He begins to reach into our spirits like the first beginnings of the dawn, touching lonely and desolate darkness with the first touches of light and the first hints of new life.

By the grace of God a new day keeps dawning. By His grace the dawn of His love keeps appearing outside of the windows of our spirits. By the grace of God there are sights and sounds and scents that make us pause with a wistful hope. It is the Lord – looking and longing and loving as He seeks to awaken us and attract us to step out with Him into this new dawn of life.

We are not called to be yesterday’s sadness but todays blessing and tomorrows hope. In our own strength this might seem so impossible. However, as we takes deep breaths of the Holy Spirit who is God’s great gift to us, we are reminded that nothing is impossible for this God of ours – not even us! He comes to us like the rising sun,

“to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
(Luke 1:79)

Response:
Wherever and however I am He calls me to look forward and to build life with Him

Prayer:

Lord help me to be aware of You in the deep dark areas of my life – and to open myself to Your love, light and life in quiet trust. Amen.

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Shine into me

“The light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness has not understood it”
(John 1:5)

Reflection:
In His earthly ministry Jesus was like a light in the darkness. He continues to shine into the world and through the lives of His faithful followers.

The Light is not fluttering feebly like a candle about to go out or a torch where its batteries are exhausted. The full Light of the fullness of Christ is shining from Him. It does not have to be cranked up to a higher pitch.  The problem is the darkness.

The darkness into which this Light shines has not understood it. Alternative translations say that the darkness had not apprehended it, comprehended it, overcome it or put it out. In whatever way the darkness has failed to receive it or react to it the Light is still the same and is still present and shining.

We can sometimes identify those who dwell in the darkness of sin and despair and have failed to recognise and receive the Light. We may also discern that those who reject the Light and argue that it does not exist have failed to extinguish the Light. In both cases the Light shines on unimpaired.

What is not so easy for us to appreciate is that we ourselves have areas of darkness within us where we have not responded adequately to the Light – and been bathed in its healing and life-giving properties. Much of the world in which we live and the context in which we were raised has affected us more than we appreciate. This is one of the reasons why Jesus told us not to be so quickly critical of the speck we see in the eyes of others when we still have a whole plank in our own eyes!

It is important for us to hold on to the fact that the Light of Christ is fully available to those who seek Him and His fullness in their lives. No matter how thick or extensive the darkness may seem at times it will never extinguish or control that Light – for two reasons. One is that Christ Himself is the Light and He has conquered death and the powers of evil. The second is that Christ is God and will simply not allow it.

Therefore the first question for each one of us is whether and to what extent we are walking in the Light and/or in the darkness. We do not have to find the Light – He is there all the time, wanting and waiting to enter more fully into all the rooms and areas of our lives.

Response:
Wherever I am with God I could be much closer

Prayer:

Lord help me to draw closer to You so that You may draw closer to me. May I be more open to You every day. Shine Your Light into me Lord in new ways to illuminate and clear away the cobwebs and the areas of darkness. Amen.

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My Light

 “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12)

Reflection:
This is one of the great “I ams ” of Jesus. It relates directly to the announcement by God of His Name to Moses – “I am.” It is a name that reveals absolute glory, majesty, power and authority. In it God is saying that He is without limit and can reveal Himself however He wishes. And here Jesus refers to Himself as ‘the Light of the world.”

It is significant that as God began to create – as the Holy Spirit was brooding over the darkness – the first thing for which He called was light. And so too in our lives, when darkness settles over the spirits of the individual and the community, our primary need is for the Light. On the one hand this is so that we will recognise the darkness that is stifling and subduing and slowly suffocating the life from us – and also begin to appreciate what it is and from whence it comes. However this is not enough. We also need to ‘see the Light’ that will reveal the way forward, free us from this bondage to decay and allow us to begin to truly live once more.

This solution is not more words, suggestions or encouraging advice. As wise as these may be there are nevertheless many areas and conditions in life from which we cannot or will not escape in our own strength. We all know this. This light that sets us free is in fact a Person – the Person and Presence in our lives and situations of the Lord Jesus Himself. That is why His great call is so encouraging and filled with hope. It is the call, not of a prophet, but of God Himself.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest”
(Matthew 11:28)

Each one of us will be lugging forward a whole cluster of things that we would rather, or should rather, do without. We will also still be living within a context that did not magically change for the better with the new year. Now is the time to turn to the one Person who not only can make a difference but who says that He will.

He does not say that He will merely tell us what to do. He undertakes to give us ‘rest’. It is His strength that will bring this about – not ours. Our action is to turn to Him and trust in Him.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
 in quietness and trust is your strength”
(Isaiah 30:15)

Response:
I need the Lord.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I need You. I need more of Your Light and Your Life for myself, those I love and my community. I come to You as best I can – and I will keep coming to You throughout the year ahead – looking to You as the Light in my life. Bless me Lord for I sorely need You. Amen.

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Core Value 5

“God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God,
and God in him”
(1 John 4:16)

Reflection:
Core Values in our lives – God, The Word, Prayer, Holy Living and, now, Love.

Love has to be the flame that burns within us, the source that feeds out spirits, minds, deeds and emotions. For God is Love – and if we are in His image then it should be love that characterises us as well. And so Scripture tells us that love is essential to us.

  • “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)
  • “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5)
  • “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
  • “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39)
  • “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44)
  • “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)
  • “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14)
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love..” (Galatians 5:22)

This love is not a product of our own efforts but comes from God and through God. It is a consequence of the love that He has for us and which He has revealed to us.

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

We may decide to love because we know that it is right – but it only becomes real and true, and not a legalism, when the love of God flows into us and through us. The greater our awareness of God’s love for us the more we are prepared and enabled to love those people and things that He loves. As we receive the fullness of His blessing for ourselves so it overflows from us – because love cannot be contained. So Paul’s prayer becomes ours as well;

  • “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)

Five Core Values for which to pray and keep on praying – through the sunshine and the darkness – and which to allow the Holy Spirit to live out within us and through us as we trust and follow  His guidance.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father as the moon reflects the light and the glory of the sun, so may I shine with Your love and truth in the darkness of the world around me – and may You be honoured and glorified in it all. Amen.

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