The Soaring Eagle

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


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Finding my face

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face,
as one speaks to a friend”
(Exodus 33:11)

Reflection:
C. S. Lewis in his book ‘Till we have faces’  makes the comment,

‘How can (the gods) meet us face to face till we have faces?’

He goes on to say that ‘a human must be speaking with its own voice (not one of its borrowed voices) expressing its actual desires (not what it imagines it desires), being for good or ill itself, not any mask.’

In other words the real God desires and looks to meet with the real person – not the actor or actress, hiding behind the mask of a false image. It is only the real person to whom God can extend His love – and only the real person who can partake of His salvation.

It is informative that Jacob’s meeting with God was on his way back from the years spent away from his family – and when he was facing the real possibility of being confronted by a very angry elder brother whose birth-right he had taken.

It is also telling that God’s meetings with Moses – not only in the burning bush but also face-to-face in the tabernacle – were when he was no longer a prince of Egypt but firstly a shepherd in the back of beyond, and then one who had learned to obey the Lord completely.

It can be that the hardest part of our journey to salvation is to allow ourselves to identify and meet the real ‘me’ – to allow ‘me’ into the light – and to bring ‘me’ to the Lord who is waiting and watching for ‘me’.

Response:
Not who you think you are – nor who you fear you are – allow yourself to reveal the beloved of God.

Prayer:

Find me Lord – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10)

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What marks you?

“What else will distinguish me and your people
from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
(Exodus 33:16)

Reflection:
Moses had asked this question of God after He had threatened that He would no longer travel with the Israelites. It was a very valid query for without God they would have been nothing more than one of the numerous peoples of the earth with no special identity, significance or advantage.

We might well ask ourselves the same question today. What is it that sets us apart from the rest of humanity? What identity and significance do we have that others might not share? And does this shine through in an attractive and positive way?

There are a few answers against which we can examine ourselves individually and collectively as Christians.

Jesus said that we were to be the light of the world – something visible, attractive and helpful

  • “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14)
  • “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)

Paul taught that the fruit of the Spirit – God’s gift to all believers – was to be characteristic of us all.

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

Jesus was clear that our greatest and life-enhancing quality was to be love.

  •  “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)
  • “This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:17)
  • “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44)

And Paul made it clear that without love nothing was achieved or gained in terms of the Kingdom 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)

To be identifiable as God’s people is not to claim it with our mouths but to reveal it with the quality of our lives. As we submit to the Lord Jesus and to the Holy Spirit whom He has given us His Light becomes our light, His love our love and His fruit our fruit. Then He tells us,

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”  John 13:35)

Response:
What is my light?

Prayer:

Lord please pour Your love into my heart that I may also release it to others. Amen.

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Our Exodus

“Then Moses said to the people,
 “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt,
out of the land of slavery,
because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand”
(Exodus 13:3)

Reflection:
The Lord God rescued the Hebrews from their slavery in Egypt and their bondage to Pharaoh. He brought them to Himself at Sinai where He gave them the choice of becoming His special people. From there He led them to the Promised Land – the land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and to Jacob whom He renamed Israel.

This Exodus from Egypt which commenced the formation of the nation as the people of God prefigures our own spiritual journeys as God calls us out of our human bondage and slavery to sin – into which we were born as the sons and daughters of Adam.

Their passing through the waters of the sea under the pillar of cloud became known as their baptism into Moses, foreshadowing our baptism into Christ by water and the Spirit. In both cases the old life is to be left behind and the new life embraced.

  • “They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:2)
  • “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5)

At Sinai the people were given the Law which was to govern their relationship with God and was their contribution to His Covenant.

  • “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)

Not only were they completely unable to keep the provisions of the Law but we know that we are too. There is no pass mark under the Law other that 100% and only Jesus was able to achieve that. So the Law shows us our weaknesses and prepares us to acknowledge our desperate need for a Saviour. In truth we will never fully appreciate and value Grace until we have battled and fallen before the Law.

  • “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

Our journey with God, therefor, brings us to a different mountain-top, the one crowned with a cross. And here we meet the end of the Law and the establishment of the New Covenant of Grace. Jesus spells it out for us –

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
  • “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13)
  • Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)

And when the Israelites came to the Promised Land for the second time they entered not on the basis of their works but because they believed. And when we turn to the Lord we enter into His salvation not because we have earned it but because we believe in the love and provision and the wonderful grace of our Lord. What an amazing God is this!

Question:

Am I saved only by grace through faith – or am I trying to earn it?

Prayer:

“Lord I believe – help my unbelief.” Amen

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Exodus 1 & 2

“This is how you are to eat it:
with your cloak tucked into your belt,
your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand.
Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover”
( Exodus 12:11)

Reflection:
The Israelites obeyed the Lord’s command in Egypt. They painted their doorposts with the blood of lambs and that night ate their first Passover meal. The Lord’s angel went through Egypt that night and the first-born of the land, except for the Israelites, died. Pharaoh summoned Moses and told him to take the Israelites with their flocks and possessions and to leave Egypt – and the nation began to move out.

Some thirteen centuries later Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples and instituted what we celebrate as The Lord’s Supper. Like the Israelites He then began His own Exodus. That night after the struggle in Gethsemane He was arrested and the following day died upon the cross.

It is no coincidence that these two events are connected by the same festival. God deliberately linked them to each other to give us a fuller understanding of what He is about and the fact that this is all in terms of His original and only plan and purpose. He continues to work it out in ways that He decided before creation and which to Him are ‘very good.’

He saved His people from bondage in Egypt through the death of the first-born and the blood of the lambs. He saves us from bondage to sin through the death of His Son and His blood as the Lamb of God.

As we see for ourselves these great links between the early and later Scriptures we are reminded of God’s great love and His supreme majesty, power and authority.

Response:
How great is our God that He can and does orchestrate these major events and over such time spans.

Prayer:

Lord I stand in awe of such power and authority and the wonder of such a love. I bow down to You in humility and in thankfulness. Amen.

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Always will be

“I am the LORD your God,
who has brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of bondage”
 (Exodus 20:2)

 

Reflection:
At Mount Sinai God reminded the Israelites that He and He alone is the Lord their God – the One who liberated them from their bondage and slavery in Egypt and brought them through the waters of the sea to Himself. From there He took them into the Promised Land.

This foreshadows the mission of the Messiah about whom the prophet Isaiah was inspired to proclaim about the One to come,

“The LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1)

Here was the message of a freedom from the enslavement and suffering in a fallen world that would be brought about by the Christ to come. He would come as the Light of the world, as the Way, the Truth and the Life and as the Good Shepherd.  He would call and gather God’s chosen ones to Himself and lead them out of the world’s darkness, through the dark waters of death and on the other side into the Light and Life and Love of the Lord God Almighty in the place which He Himself has prepared for them.

This same God is the One who has said to us that

  • “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” ( Romans 8:28)
  • nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39)
  • “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29)

As we recognise that God has had this plan for us from the beginning, and that He has revealed His love and commitment to us in so many ways, He urges us to hang on to Him and trust Him for the best – the glorious, eternal and full-hearted living love – is still to come. And it will come.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

And so like the one man next to the Lord on the cross we can hold on just a little longer for we know that in a tomorrow we will be with Him in paradise.

Response:
Keep your eyes on the Lord in the good times and the hard times.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to keep my eyes and heart on You – and not to lose hope or faith, and not to become despondent about myself, but to hold on to Your hand as it holds on to me, even me. Amen.

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Unfailing Love

“In your unfailing love, O Lord,
you lead the people whom you have redeemed.
And by your invincible strength
you will guide them to your holy dwelling”
(Exodus 15:13 CW)

Reflection:
This comes from the song of Moses and Miriam after the Lord had brought the Israelites wonderfully through the parted waters and then drowned the pursuing army of Pharaoh.  As they marvelled at the Lord’s great act of power and salvation they prophesied that He was both willing and able to take them safely into the Promised Land.

As we look back at the history of God in the Old Testament and then at the astonishing act of power and salvation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ their message must strike us with the same force. Our God is both willing and able to take us through the journey of life and death and safely into His Promised Home.

Like the Israelites we will have many challenges and experiences along the way. However there is now nothing in all creation able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39) On top of this “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”(Romans 8:28)

The important truth for us to remember is that God is in control of our journey. No matter where or how we are at this moment in time He is with us. He will guide and strengthen us as we need it and to the extent that we will allow Him to do so. And He will see us safely home. Our peace and fulfilment may be tasted in this life but it is only a pale foretaste of that which He has in store for us.

Response:
His love for me is unfailing and His strength invincible.

Prayer:

Lord God you are working for good in my life even now. Please help me to trust in Your love and power and to journey faithfully with You. Amen.

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Open Your Eyes

“O LORD
Who is like you– majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory, working wonders?”
(Exodus 15:11)

Reflection:
Our vision of God defines our lives.

We can ignore Him, treat Him casually – by paying Him lip-service or turning to Him only when we need help – or we can take Him seriously – to the extent that He becomes our life.

His revelation of Himself through creation, through His history, through His great acts and ultimately through His Son Jesus Christ, is stunning. It is a revelation of awesome power and might, of unbelievable compassion and mercy, of immaculate justice and righteousness, and of breath-taking beauty and love.

If our vision slips then our faith, hope, love and integrity begin to go as well.

In times such as these there is a great need for those whom He has called to Himself to renew their vision, re-establish their foundations, and glory in the wonder of our marvellous God. One of our greatest gifts and weapons is our heart-felt love and worship of this God who is at once Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Response:

“Immortal, Invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.”

Prayer:

Lord God Almighty, keep me conscious of Your glory, honour and power – and of Your great beauty and love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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