The Soaring Eagle

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


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Knowledge

“Asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
 (Colossians 1:9)

 

Reflection:
We are told by Paul that in everything we should present our requests to God. (Philippians 4:6) However prayer should also include our praying for the things that God wants. Some of these are set out for us in the Lord’s Prayer where we can join our desires to those of God.

Now Paul turns his attentions to our individual and corporate growth and maturity – praying that God will fill is with the knowledge of His will – obviously in all things – through our growth in spiritual wisdom and understanding. This comes through the work and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit within us as well as through our growth in knowledge and understanding as we walk with God along the path that He has set for us. The more we know of God and His ways, and the more we get to know Him personally, the deeper will be our understanding of His will and ways in our life situations.

Because we can trust that He is the God of Love we can trust His will and His ways for us. They are designed to draw us closer to Him and into a deeper and more fulfilling relationship.

  • “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)

The purpose of this prayer of Pauls is not only to bless us but to enable us to more readily and purposefully fulfil the will of God both for us and through us.

  • “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)

Response:
We are called to make Paul’s prayer for the Colossians our own prayer for ourselves and our Christian community.

Prayer:

Lord fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that I may live a life worthy of You in every way. Amen.

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Time to Rise


“Then Jesus said to him,
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”
(John 5:8)

Reflection:
Sometimes it seems easier to stay as we are than to accept the challenge of change.

The man was paralyzed – unable to move himself around or to provide for himself. He was dependent on others for everything.  Now Jesus was offering him the possibility of a new way of life – of being able to walk and to therefor begin to provide for himself.

The man immediately accepted and obeyed the instruction to get up and walk – and was no doubt delighted with this amazing gift. The challenge of using this new ability to provide for himself was still to come – for now he could no longer beg or continue to receive aid from others.  His new found freedom came with new responsibilities. To have decided to stay as he was would have been an unthinkable tragedy. He would have missed out on so many blessings and the opportunity of leading a new and enriched life.

When Jesus calls us to follow Him He offers us a new life and a new and fruitful way of living – directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. To hold back would be the equivalent of remaining a spiritual cripple and missing out on the blessings He has in mind for us. To accept the challenge of the call is to take on new responsibilities as well as the promise of growth, development and significance in ways that we would not have imagined possible.

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

Response:
Am I holding back and saying ‘I can’t do it’ in any way?

Prayer:

Lord You have called me to follow You. Please help me to get up and walk in any area where I may be holding back – and to trust You for all that I will need along the way. Amen.

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Room for Him?

 

“There was no room for them in the inn”
( Luke 2:7)

Reflection:
In an age when there were no telephones, emails or ordinary mail services Joseph and Mary took their chances with accommodation. And, when they reached their destination of Bethlehem, they found that all the available places had already been taken. There was nothing suitable to be had for a heavily pregnant mother bearing the Son of God and Saviour of the world.

Right from the beginning both Mary and Joseph learned that a close association with the Lord might have many blessings and privileges – but comfort was not necessarily one of them. They had suffered both social and emotional pain and now were met with not only physical discomfort but what might have felt like rejection and a lack of understanding from God.

Jesus confirmed this during His ministry when He told a would-be follower,

“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests,
but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
(Matthew 8:20)

John the Baptist’s role was ‘to prepare the way for the Lord’ amongst the people to whom He would come. Jesus role was to seek out and save the lost. It was only as He prepared to return to the Father that He spoke of preparing a place for us. Until we reach that place we are on a journey with the Lord – it will not be all ease and comfort.

However there is a key point we need constantly to have at the forefront of our minds. Is there room in my mind, my heart and my spirit, and in my everyday life and living, for the Lord Jesus  – or is He pushed out by the affairs of the world?

Response:
We prepare a place for the Lord whilst He prepares a place for us with the Father.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to keep my eyes and attention on You and not just on my own affairs, comforts and pleasures. Amen.

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The Dream

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:20-21)

 

Reflection:
In all that God was doing He did not for a moment forget a man called Joseph, whose life also was to be changed forever. When he found out that Mary was pregnant Joseph could have publicly broken off the proposed marriage and exposed Mary not only to shame and ridicule but to the harsh provisions of the law. Because he did not want to do this he considered divorcing her quietly.

It was probably too much to expect that Joseph would unquestioningly accept Mary’s account of what had happened. It had never occurred before in the history of the world and would undoubtedly never happen again. He must have been bitterly disappointed and hurt at what he saw to be a terrible betrayal of their relationship and a rejection of their planned future.

God did not hold this against him but instead sent an angel to him in a dream. So vivid was the experience and so real the message that Joseph, on waking, seems not to have hesitated but to have believed and obeyed God immediately. We can read these words very easily – but perhaps need to ask ourselves what sort of a dream would cause us to both change our minds and our planned course of action so dramatically. The question would arise again when we ask what sort of a dream would cause us to wake the next morning and immediately set about taking our family to live in Egypt – as Joseph was to do later.

God was working powerfully and specifically, and was ensuring that His word was received, understood and obeyed. He had also chosen His man very carefully. Joseph and Abraham are just two examples of people who heard and obeyed the word of God. The fruit of their obedience would turn out to be far greater and more important than they could have imagined at the time. Each one of us is also called to the same commitment and obedience. We may not all receive such startling and consequential messages but there is more than enough of God’s direction in the Gospels and Epistles for us to be getting on with in our daily lives.

He does call each of us to a particular ministry and work and equips us with specific gifts suitable for this ministry. We too will find our fulfilment and joy in doing what God calls us to do, and not in asking Him to help us in what we might want to do! The ministry starts right where we are, with our accepting and trusting God’s call and word.

Question:
How open are we to God’s call on our lives?

Response:
What will be my legacy?

Prayer:

Father it is difficult to say at times but – Your will be done on earth (in my life) as it is in heaven, Amen.

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One Truth Only

 

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
 No one comes to the Father except through me”
(John 14:6)

Reflection:
“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus. We might well hear that question being asked today.

One recent headline stated that ‘We are not living in a ‘post-truth’ world, we are living lies.’ Another tells us that a prominent politician is known for the lies that he tells. A further article states that a purpose of some international activity is not to promote an alternative truth but to so confuse us that we are not able to identify truth at all. Add to this the different beliefs and philosophies that are current and many will end up thinking that the only truth is that there is no truth.

Jesus didn’t answer Pilate’s question with words but with a definitive action. He walked into a suffering and death that He could have avoided. In so doing He underlined with His blood the revelation that He had given to His disciples – making it stand out in a way that could not be missed.

“I am the way and the truth and the life”

In a world on the verge of darkness He proclaimed Himself as the way forward. In a time when power was the ultimate authority He revealed Himself as the truth that would live through death and into eternity. In an age when life was cheap He stood out as the one and only life-giver and life-sustainer. And when they closed the door on His life in this world He opened the door into life in the next.

Truth is not a statement but a Person. We find the truth about ourselves and the truth about the way forward and the truth concerning the questions of life in Him – and Him alone. Anything else is a passing shadow.

Where others tell us what to believe – He asks us to ‘believe in Me’. Where others direct us along human paths He calls us to ‘follow Me.’ And where others tells us to grin and bear it – He invites us to ‘come to Me.”  These truths are not for this life only for in the same breath He tells us that

“No one comes to the Father except through me”

Jesus Christ is our Way through this life and our Way to the Father. He is the Truth about this life and of the life to come. And He is Life itself – the wonderful gift of eternal life that begins in this life and carries on into the endless future in the creative and glorious love of God.

As we reflect on His truth and truths under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and build them into our individual and corporate lives, we will begin to see His hand at work – for these are the ways that God will bless.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
(John 8:31-32)

Response:
What is truth? – “I AM!”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus please take my hand – and in every situation of my life lead me along Your Way through Your Truth and into Your Life without end. Amen.

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He sees me

“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her:
“You are the God who sees me,”
(Genesis 16:13)

Reflection:
Hagar was Sarai’s Egyptian servant. When Sarah could not fall pregnant she told her husband Abram to “sleep with my maidservant, perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram did so and Hagar became pregnant. She then began to despise Sarai who treated her so badly that “she fled from her.”

The ‘angel of the Lord’ found her and came to her as she sat near a spring in the desert. He asked her where she had come from and where she was going. When she replied that she had run away he told her to go back to Sarai and then shared with her something of what the Lord would do for her son whom she was to call Ishmael.

Hagar called the Lord “You are the God who sees me.”

It is a wonderfully encouraging episode for us all – and in particular for anyone who feels that like Hagar they are in a lonely and desert period in their life with no one who cares and understands them and their pain.  The truth is that God does care and that He has a plan and purpose for our lives – even when we feel that we are outside of His main plans and purpose.

Hagar could tell Him where she had come from but not where she was going. God then gave her the directions she needed and, to her credit, she heard and obeyed Him. God always has a plan, purpose and direction for our lives.

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

Wherever we are physically, emotionally and spiritually the Lord sees us. He sees us in our completeness, in our yesterdays, our todays and our tomorrows. He sees and knows the lonely outcast in us for whom He cares.  And, He has a word for us – a word of direction and of encouragement – even if it is, like with Hagar – to remain where we have been for the time being.

We will know that He is with us and that our lives and times are within His hands.

Response:
Give the Lord some moments during your day. Tell Him where you are and how you feel. Ask Him for His help, strength and direction. Then spend some moments in a quiet stillness trusting His presence.

Prayer:

Lord God You see me and everything about me. Help me please Lord for I need Your love, Your direction and Your healing in my life. Amen.

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Because I choose to

“The obedience that comes from faith.”
(Romans 1:5)

Reflection:
Paul is quite clear in this great letter that justification before God is by faith alone. However, he is also quite clear that faith is an active and not a passive state. If we have faith in Jesus as Saviour we must also have faith in Jesus as Lord – the two titles cannot be separated.

The sin of disobedience brought about our fallen state and separated us from God. It cannot be expected for a moment that we should continue in that state, but now with a cloak marked ‘justified’ over us. The Scriptures reveal that a radical change is expected to take place:

  • “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2)
  • “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:22-24)
  • “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”(1 Pet 1:15-16)

Having been justified by grace through faith our proper response now is to put our complete faith and trust in God by turning away from the ways of the fallen world. We choose instead to live according to the ways of God – not as if they were imposed laws, but because our belief is that His ways, and His ways alone, are the ways of life – not only in the life to come but in this life as well. We are called to a new life and a new way of living. Jesus is Saviour and Jesus is Lord. “Follow Me” is a call both to direction as well as to method. They go together.

Now having found it impossible to live out the old Godly way of life there is no reason to expect that in our own strength we can live out the new. So God has taken that in hand for us.  He has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit  to both guide us and strengthen us. Therefore in His New Covenant commitment He  promises that,

  • “I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10)
  • “I will be their God” (Hebrews 8:10)
  • “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12)
  • “I will give you a  new heart and put a new spirit in you”” (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:27)

 It’s all about God and what He does. Our work is to believe, receive and let Him live it out through us. And although God does gives us both the desire and the strength to do His will it still remains our choice.

  • “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13)
  • “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

Response:
We are saved by faith – now we live by faith and not by our own efforts and strength,

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, please help me to perceive the truth and to live by it. Help me to look at Your teachings, recognise them and accept  them into my everyday life – to Your honour and glory. Amen.

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