The Soaring Eagle

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


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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 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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Pentecost

“Be filled with the Spirit”
(Ephesians 5:18)

 

Reflection:
Pentecost is essentially about life. It is not just about the same old person with a new opportunity. It is all about a new person commencing a new life with a new focus and a new life force within them – that of God Himself.

Jesus spoke about our being born again of the Holy Spirit. He taught that the Holy Spirit would live within us in an intimacy of relationship beyond that which was possible with Jesus in His earthly ministry. He explained too that when the Holy Spirit came He would bring to God’s people a new strength – a new power – that they had not enjoyed before.

The absolute importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives is put very clearly by Paul.

  • “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9)
  • “You received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15-16)

It is the Holy Spirit who brings us to the Lord Jesus, who opens our understanding to the forgiveness and salvation to be found only in the Lord Jesus, who guides us to open our lives to the Lord and who then helps us to live out the life that God has purposed and planned for us.

We cannot ask the Holy Spirit to come into our lives to co-exist with the life of the world which is already there. We are asking Him to come in to be the Lord and Master of our lives and to show us how to live, equip us for that life and give us the strength and faith to live it. We also ask Him to identify, cleanse and heal us of any evil and its consequences that He finds there. It is all a part of His establishing His complete Lordship in and over our lives and clearing us out and cleansing us for the new life God has given us. The Holy Spirit does not come to help us to live our lives but to help us to live the life God has planned and prepared for us.

This Life in the Spirit is a life of following Christ and that is what’s vital. Any experience of being baptized in the Spirit and of our own Pentecost is an important beginning but not an end in itself. Different people will have different experiences at different times for a whole variety of reasons – including the fact that God treats each of us as an individual and not part of a mass production line. Our greatest danger will be that we ignore the Holy Spirit or relapse into our old default setting of the way of the world – trying to live in our own strength, slowly closing in on ourselves and losing contact with the Spirit.

Because we are human, and because all this is a process that having begun continues for the rest of our lives we will need to keep turning to God for a ‘fill up’ or fresh release of the Holy Spirit – because on the one hand we ‘leak’ and on the other we cannot avoid becoming clogged now and then by the dirt of the world in which we live. We will need forgiveness when, not if, we sin, and healing of the pains and hurts that we will encounter on the journey. However ‘in Christ’ and with the Holy Spirit our end is certain and secure and no one can change that.

Response:
One Lord of my life

Prayer:

Father thank You for the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit please come and fill my life – cleanse me and set me free from the sins and stains of the past and bring me into the fullness of the life that You have for me in Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour. Amen.

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Now and Then

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know ..
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
(Ephesians 1:18-19)

 

Reflection:
Paul’s prayer for us is not that we may know of certain things but that we may know them as true for ourselves. So He prayed that

  • We might know God better
  • We might know the Hope to which God has called us

Now he goes on to pray that we might know

  • The riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints
  • His incomparably great power for us who believe

His inheritance for us is that final inheritance of which the Holy Spirit is the guarantee (v14). Peter describes it as ‘imperishable, undefiled and unfading kept in heaven for you.’ (1 Peter 1:4) Paul also calls it both rich and glorious – finding words to describe that which is beyond our present capacity to see, to hear or to imagine.

As God children we are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17) One day by His grace this inheritance will be ours and it will include everything that God has and has planned and prepared for his beloved children – us. Transformed into the likeness of the Lord Jesus we will be enabled to see and worship God as He really is, in all His glory, majesty, power and love  – and to live in His presence forever, freed from the imperfections, pain and burdens of this fallen life.

Only God’s power can fulfil the expectations which belongs to His call, and bring us safely to the riches of the glory of the final inheritance He will give us. So Paul writes of

  • His incomparably great power for us who believe
  • The working of His mighty strength

The resurrection and the ascension were a decisive demonstration of this divine power. There are two powers man cannot control and which hold him in bondage – death and evil. In Christ God has conquered both – and so is more than able to protect, rescue, liberate and transform us too.

Lord God,
enlighten the eyes of my heart
so that I may know
the riches of our glorious inheritance
in the saints
and Your incomparably great power
for us who believe.

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A Real Hope

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know
the hope to which he has called you”
(Ephesians 1:18)

Reflection:
God has called us to something and for something which is rich and varied. These are not merely words written on a page but promises from God for us to know, and in which to believe and place our hope and expectation. For above everything God calls us to Himself in and through the reality of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – who are real gifts from this real God to us as real people in a real and fallen world.

We are called, for example,

  • “to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6)
  • “into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9)
  • to be saints” (Romans 1:7)
  • “to be holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
  • “to be free” (Galatians 5:13)
  • “to peace” (Colossians 3:15)
  • “out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9)

In fact we are called to an altogether new life in which we know, love, obey and serve Christ , enjoy fellowship with Him and with each other, and look beyond our present suffering to the glory which will one day be revealed. This is the hope to which God has called us. Paul prays that our eyes will be opened to know it.

Again if it was important enough for Paul to pray for on our behalf then it should form a part of our own prayers as well. We ask the Lord to turn these words from information into a transformation within us – from wishful thinking into a living hope and faith. We can with assurance pray,

Lord,
Enlighten the eyes of my heart
so that I may know
the Hope
to which
You have called me

Response:
Write this into your prayer diary and make it also a regular and ongoing prayer.

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I need You

“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice;
and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”
(Hosea 6:6 KJV)

Reflection:
 Martin Lloyd-Jones put it like this – ‘Our supreme need is to know God.’ He was clearly not referring to a mere nodding acquaintance but, in view of the intimacy inferred in the word ‘know’, to know God well, to know Him deeply, to know Him truly, to know Him as He is revealed in His Word and, supremely, in and through Jesus Christ. For the Christ Himself said,

“Now this is eternal life:
that they may know you, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”
(John 17:3)

Although there is much in creation and in Scripture that can tell us about God the true and personal knowledge of God comes only through revelation. It is only through the witness of the Holy Spirit within us that we receive the full knowledge of the reality and intimacy of our own relationship with the Father – and with His Son and the Holy Spirit Himself.

In his great letter to the Ephesians Paul recognises this and gives us the basis and framework for our own prayers through the prayers that He prayed for us. With slight adjustment we may pray for ourselves as follows:

Almighty God and Glorious Father,
Give me by Your grace
the Spirit of wisdom and revelation
so that I may know You better.

It really needs to be our heart’s prayer every day – for the closer we get to God, the more we begin to identify and find the reality of His glory and love, and the closer we will long to get to Him.

Response:
Write it at the top of your prayer list. Breathe it in and out as you go through the day. Thank Him for the knowledge of Him that you already have.

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They’re Real

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing in Christ”
(Ephesians 1:3)

Reflection:
As we look back on the wonder of Good Friday and Easter it is good to remind ourselves of some of the great blessings that God has brought about for us. As we do so we need to remember that what happened was not just a piece of grand drama but something that has a real and eternal impact on our lives, starting right now.

Paul cannot be clearer as he tells us that God has blessed us in these ways – and that as we join our lives to the Lord they become a reality for us. This was God’s choice and plan from before the creation of the world and He ensured that His purpose was fulfilled in these great events. So we find that in Christ we receive,

  • Redemption and the forgiveness of sins (1:7)
  • Adoption as the sons and daughters of God (1:5)
  • The presence, seal and guarantee within us of the Holy Spirit (1:13)
  • Holiness and blamelessness in God’s eyes (1:4)
  • God’s love in all its fullness (1:4)
  • The lavish riches of God’s glorious grace (1:5 & 8)
  • The understanding of God’s will, purpose and plan which He is working out (1:11)
    • To bring all things in heaven and on earth under the headship of Christ (1:10)
  • The recognition of our purpose which is to live to the praise of the glory of God (1:12)

God is giving us what we did not have and could not achieve by ourselves. These are not words to be read and forgotten but to be pondered on, prayed over and possessed for ourselves in quiet moments – until they ignite with meaning and reality.

It is small wonder therefore that Paul would go on himself to pray that we might appreciate to the fullest possible extent the implications of these blessings – desiring that we may not just know of them but instead know their truth for ourselves.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17-19)

Response:
Treasure these words through the days ahead, asking God to bless you with their reality for you.

Prayer:

Open my eyes please Lord to the wonder of Your truth and love revealed through our Lord Jesus. Amen.

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