The Soaring Eagle

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


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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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Wear them always

2015.07.14

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.”

(Proverbs 3:3)

Reflection:
The ‘Wisdom of Proverbs’ is that if any qualities characterise our lives and living they should be those of love and faithfulness.

They are so precious that we should bind them around our necks as royal garments and inscribe them deep into our hearts from which they will be sent out again with every heartbeat. They should be evident as we approach people, experienced in our dealings with them and remembered after we have left. And every commitment we make, task we undertake and product that we produce should be representative of such qualities.

These two great words, love and faithfulness, can easily be seen to hold within them the qualities to be seen in the fruit of the Spirit, described by Paul. As the Spirit’s fruit they are, therefore, the qualities to be found in God Himself. Certainly we can see them in the Jesus of the Gospels.

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

If a moment’s reflection shows us just how rare they are in the world today it should also reveal to us how much they are needed.

 
Response:
Pray for them and seek to live them out this week. Write them in your diaries and elsewhere to remind you.

Prayer

Lord God, just as You have been so loving and faithful in Your relationship with me, please help me to be loving and faithful towards You and others, in all that I think and say and do. Amen.

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Fruit of Self-control

2015.06.11

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

(Galatians 5:22-23)

Reflection:
Self-control is the spirit that has been transformed and no longer concentrates on self with its desires, love of pleasure and self-pity, focussing instead on the love and will and pleasure of God. Like a top athlete the aim is to bring everything under control for a specific and desired goal. It is a life-long journey and process, with many ups and downs, successes and failures. We learn a great deal about ourselves and our weaknesses, and about God and His grace and love, in the process. It only happens through the Holy Spirit working within us and with our co-operation.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:8)

• “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

In Christ we are a new creation, moving steadily towards our revealed completion as the sons and daughters of our Almighty Father. We are not alone but are guided, gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit who is within us. He gives to us the specific gifts needed for our path and ministry in this life, He brings about within us the changes that make us increasingly into the likeness of Christ, and He brings into reality the ‘much fruit’ that is a part of our calling. Our part in it is to believe and to follow His lead and directions – continually aiming to have our focus on our Lord and not on ourselves.

“because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

Response:
You know the fruit that the Holy Spirit wants to bring out of your life – ask Him for them specifically.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, please help me to desire the fruit with which You want to adorn my life, in its individual segments and in its entirety. Please help me to begin living the fruit. Amen.

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Fruit of Gentleness

2015.06.20

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness.”

(Galatians 5:22-23)

Reflection:
Gentleness must never be confused with weakness. True gentleness comes from an inner strength. It is at its best when it grows out of the true knowledge of being loved by God and no longer having to strive for recognition. It is a truly blessed quality,

“the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Gentleness is not arrogant, proud or self-seeking. It does not lash out in anger or retaliation. It is considerate and caring. It sees the fragility in others and looks to comfort and heal. There are many examples of the gentleness in Jesus, who was also quite capable of challenging others and of being demonstrably angry at times. He rode into Jerusalem not as a proud conqueror on a horse but, “gentle and riding on a donkey.” (Matt 21:5). He said of Himself,

“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)

He was wonderfully gentle with the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, and with Simon Peter both before and after he had betrayed Jesus. On the cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

When Paul wrote to the Philippians he highlighted the source of true gentleness – it was because of God, His power, love and salvation and the fact that He is always so very close to us.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” ( Philippians 4:4-5)

To be gentle we need to allow the love of God to be poured into us and lift us above a concentrated focus upon ourselves – and to look instead at those around us, hearing the silent screams that come from so many lives. Gentleness is of the Spirit, and another segment of the fruit that God wishes to see in our lives.

Response:
Did I bruise anyone today – by action or inaction?

Prayer:

Father, I know how easily I can be hurt – please help me to be a comfort and a blessing to those who need it today – in Jesus name. Amen.

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Fruit of Faithfulness

2015.06.09

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”

(Galatians 5:22)

Reflection:
Jesus used the word faithful in the parable of the talents, where the master commended his servant, showing his great pleasure and approval,

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)

There is a sense of the servant being reliable, trustworthy, having his master’s interests at heart and of extending himself to please the master. This servant had chosen where to place his priority for as Jesus taught,

“No servant can serve two masters.” (Luke 16:13)

Being faithful is not merely acknowledging the Lord by word but by showing it in the way we live our lives. Anyone watching us for long enough would very soon pick up where our priorities lie, and who is the major person in our lives – the Lord, another human or ourselves. There is a frightful story of a Christian convert who left a church because to him their faith was merely a hobby! Jesus can never be just a hobby – and if He is not the person of first importance in our lives then we have a problem!

He has told us and showed us what He requires of us. Our challenge is to take Him, His words and His commands seriously, so that we too might prove to be faithful. For as James has taught us,

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)

The aim of the Holy Spirit will be to help us to do just that, for

“By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:16)

Response:
‘Am I faithful?’ Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you there.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, please help me to have the Lord Jesus as my first and greatest priority, and to seek in all things to please and honour Him. Amen.

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Fruit of Goodness

2015.06.08

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,”

(Galatians 5:22)

Reflection:

Again it is interesting that goodness comes after love and kindness. It would be so very easy for goodness to become legalistic, harsh and critical, and in the end only superficial. The goodness which is of God is one that comes from deep within, from where it influences and directs our actions. It is a quality that shines out from within us and impacts the people and situations around us.

Goodness is not only passive. It challenges people and situations where it is necessary. So Jesus, when He cleansed the Temple, was reacting to the blasphemy and degradation of the glory of God by the extortion and commercialism that was taking place in this ‘house of prayer.’ Goodness cannot remain as a mere observer. It has the need to change what is wrong. However, we see the other side of the goodness in Jesus when He deals with the woman at the well, and the woman caught in adultery. In both cases He was looking to bring healing and change, but He did so in an amazingly gentle and understanding way.

The fruit of the Spirit is not listed in random order. God’s will is for all of it to be evident in the lives of His people, but it is always built and developed on the foundation of love.

Reflection:
Catch yourself when you are critical – ‘they’ may just be sinning differently to you! Pray that God will purify your heart and mind first.

Prayer:

Father, shine Your light into my life that the loving goodness of Jesus may soften and strengthen me in the way of love. Amen.

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Fruit of Kindness

2015.06.05

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness,”

(Galatians 5:22)

Reflection:

“Love is kind” Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. In both cases He was talking about a quality that comes from the love that is God and that comes from God. It is not a kindness according to our love but one that is in accordance with God’s love. David knew the difference when he prayed,

“according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.” (Psalm 25:7)

Humans tend to be selective. Therefore we will be inclined to be kind to the people we like and not to those we dislike. Sometimes we will be kind to those who show their gratitude and not to those who don’t. We may not consciously do anything unkind to those we dislike – however ignoring them may constitute unkindness.

God’s kindness is different. He ‘so loved the world’ which means everyone and not just the ‘good’ people. So Jesus died for everyone. Many of God’s blessings are for everyone and not just for a few. The blessings of nature, scientific and medical discoveries, education and employment opportunities are not limited to believers.

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

The history of the church has not always been one of kindness. However, the church is made up of people, people who are supposed to demonstrate and reveal the love and open – heartedness of Christ. This is not only when they are in the building but out in the world of the everyday as well. Kindness starts in the way we think about people and moves on to the way we talk about them, talk to them and act towards them.

Response:
A simple act of kindness could change somebody’s life – each day

Prayer:

Lord, release Your kindness into me and through me – and help me to bring my attitudes and actions to You. Amen.

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