The Soaring Eagle

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


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Who am I?

 

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit
that we are God’s children”
(Romans 8:16)

Reflection:
Our identities are very important to us. They help to establish who we are to ourselves and to others. They can give us a sense of belonging and of value as well as of purpose. They also give us a place in history. And then they are key in establishing our relationships with others.

Jesus identity was established a number of times. Before He was born the angel informed Mary that He would be God’s Son. Then at His Baptism in the Jordan the Spirit descended on Him and the voice of God was heard to proclaim,

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

At the beginning of His ministry this must have been a wonderful endorsement and encouragement to the Lord. Again at His transfiguration as He was preparing to face His own redeeming exodus from the world the voice of God was heard by the three apostles to say,

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5)

This too would have been a wonderful affirmation to the Lord as He faced His greatest trial.

We have grown up with our individual human identities. However in God’s great purpose and plan He has a new identity for us – one which would have been beyond our wildest imaginings.

  • “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5)
  • “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)

As He did with the Lord Jesus God wishes us also to know and to be secure in this – for us – new identity and relationship with Him.  He has therefore provided for the Holy Spirit to witness to it and affirm it to us.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16)

So we have the word of God that testifies to our becoming His sons and daughters as we turn to Him in repentance and faith though Jesus Christ. We also have the added blessing of the Spirit of God who is our constant assurance and reminder of this enormous privilege and great truth.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Clearly God wishes and intends that we should both know and be secure in our new and eternal relationship with Him. And as with the Lord Jesus it will be our great security and encouragement through the trials, temptations and terrors of life. We do need to believe and accept God’s word and provision for us and to own this new identity in our everyday life and living – for the world would try and steal it from us.

Response:
In Christ I am a daughter/son of the Lord God Almighty both now and throughout eternity.

Prayer:

Father help me to believe and receive my new identity in You and to trust the witness of Your Word and Holy Spirit. 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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I will make you

“The LORD had said to Abram,
 “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household
and go to the land I will show you”
(Genesis 12:1)

 

Reflection:
There are two incidents in the life of Abraham that are of significance to each one of us today.

The first is God’s call. Essentially God was calling him to leave his past behind him and to travel with God to a place that God would reveal. It is very similar to Jesus call of His first disciples.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

We all have a past that we carry with us. It will contain successes and failures, pain and joy, hopes and fears. Jesus calls us into a life which is focussed on Him. It is a new life and not to be crippled by the things of the past. It is a life in which He forgives and heals us of the burdens of the past and opens to us the potential of the present and the future.

The second is God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. This was the more startling because Isaac was the child of promise. It was to be through Isaac that God’s promises to Abraham were to be fulfilled and the future nations blessed for all eternity.

In both cases God’s challenge to Abraham and to us is to let go of the shadow of the past (which we cannot change) and the vision of the future (which we cannot bring about) and to live only for God each day. Jesus put it like this,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”  (Matthew 6:25-34)

He is not suggesting that we be lazy or careless but that we get our focus right and then live accordingly with God instead of for ourselves.

Response:
Who is really my priority?

Prayer:

Lord I know the truth and the Truth – please help me to surrender my past into Your forgiveness and my future into Your provision and live with You today. Amen.

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There is a future

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs
–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”
 (Romans 8:17)

 

Reflection:
The glorious truth about our salvation is that we do not become ‘poor relations’ in our new identity as the sons and daughters of God. We become His heirs – in fact co-heirs with His great Son, the Lord Jesus.

This is beautifully illustrated by Jesus Himself in the account of the Prodigal Son. When the son returns to the Father in the rags of failure and rejection the Father calls for him to be re-clothed in the ‘best robe’.  That would be the Father’s own most special robe that He was giving to His son. It would also be a sign to everyone around that he had been completely accepted and restored.

Our inheritance will be to participate in and enjoy fully everything that belongs to the Father – all that He has and all that He will have, all that He has created and all that He will create, and all that is being prepared for us.

  • “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2)
  • “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”  (1 Corinthians 2:9)

We do not know the detail and extent of it all – we do know however that it will be a place and time of wonderful completeness, unending joy, perfect peace and glorious love. And we will forever be an integral part of all that the Father is doing.

No matter what our experiences in this life – the joys and pain, the successes and failures, the acceptance and rejection, the moral heights and the sin-obsessed depths, the laughter and the desolation – one thing is certain. As the children of God we have a glorious inheritance in Jesus Christ – and it begins right now as we accept and lay hold of the wonder of our new relationship with the Lord. For many it has been, and will be,  the great truth onto which they hold in the darkness.

Response:
Where we will be is better than where we are. The way we will be is better than the way we are.

Prayer:

Father thank you so much for Your great love that reaches down for us into the darkest depths – so that You can raise us to You in the highest heights. I hold on to You Lord. Amen.

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Look for His hand

“And we know 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)

 

Reflection:
In this short sentence Paul sets out what for him are five unshakeable convictions. As we look at them we can begin to see their importance as foundations to our own believing, thinking and living.

They are:

  • God is at work in our lives – “God works”.

He is not a passive spectator but an actively involved God Almighty, whether or not we perceive it.

He is with us, in us and around us. As we saw yesterday He began a good work in our lives and will carry it on to completion.

  • God works for our good – “God works for the good”.

It is unthinkable that the God who sacrificed His Son for us would then work to harm His people or ignore them. From whatever happens in our lives God is able to bring a blessing.

  • God works in all things – “in all things God works”.

Not just some things but in all things. Even where we get things wrong and fail miserably God will still be at work – not least in encouraging and helping us to get up and have another go at life! And when we sin, and battle with sin, God is still able to use it as an opportunity to work in something valuable that will amaze us – particularly relating to His love for us.

  • God does this for those who love Him – “for the good of those who love Him.”

This love, as Scripture tells us, is expressed in our obedience to Jesus commands (John 14:21). By doing this we open the door for God to express Himself in and through our lives. Where we don’t we keep Him at a distance. God does not wait for perfection on our part – the first stirrings of love and obedience within us draws God closer, seeking to help, strengthen, comfort and bless us.

  • God works His purpose in our lives – “who have been called according to His purpose.”

He has a purpose for us (Ephesians 2:10) and it fits in with His will being done ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ In His purposes our lives are planned to be significant. For this He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts that we will need.

 Wherever we happen to be – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally – God is with us. As we turn to Him in the prayer that acknowledges Him, in the love that seeks to live His way and in the faith that might even be as ‘small as a mustard seed’ we open ourselves to His working in and through us. Whatever may be happening around us God is building something in our lives and the lives of His people. Trust Him!

Response:
Learn the verse and the five convictions. Ask God to help you believe and live their truth.

Prayer:

Father Your word ‘will not return to You empty but will accomplish what You desire and achieve the purpose for which You sent it.’ Help me to take this word of Yours into my life, in Jesus name. Amen.

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Be Lavish

“Remember this:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
(2 Corinthians 9:6)

 

Reflection:
We are sowing all the time. At every moment and in every situation we are distributing something into our contexts and into the lives of others. It flows from our expressions, our words, our attitudes, our actions and our reactions. There is not one of us, whether introvert or extrovert, of whom this is not true.

As we realise this we come to see also that we have a choice with regard to what is sown. It can be positive or negative, helpful or unhelpful, encouraging or discouraging, up-building or degrading. We also have a choice as to how much we sow – minute quantities, sparingly or lavishly – and whether we so do willingly or unwillingly.

Years ago as I walked past the public Library gardens on my way to work I often met a man walking across my path. He was a fairly large man with a round and generally smiling face and, as he walked, he sang out loud in a resonating bass voice. I did not understand the words which were not in English but the song, and the beaming joy with which it was sung, was a wonderful blessing bringing smiles to the faces of almost everyone who met him. What a gift it was!

We all have within us the ability and the wherewithal to sow some blessing and encouragement into the lives of those around us. In a world in which the focus is turning increasingly inwards all it takes is the decision to be aware of others and – even for a day – to decide to seek ways of giving a blessing rather than looking for one ourselves. The wonderful thing is that so often sowing kindness brings it back again in some way – even in an immediate smile on the face of the recipient.

Cultivate the habit of sowing love, light and life in your situation. It can change lives – including your own.

Response:
Look – listen to the expressions of others – do something.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You blessed the lives of so many people. Help me to do the same and to be excited about it. Amen.

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Grace poured out

“I always thank God for you because of his grace
given you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Corinthians 1:4)

 

Reflection:
Our relationship with God is all about reality. It is based on His reality and the fact that He has intervened in our reality – the reality of our everyday lives, as well as the reality of our past and our future. Whilst the world offers us concepts, philosophies and ultimate loneliness and death, God offers us truth, personal relationship with Him, and eternal life and healing. Where the world tells us what we must do, God shows us what He has done. Where the world will sell to us, God gives to us freely. Where the world gives no visible proof, God gives us His Son. Where the world offers no guarantees God sends His Spirit to live within us. Whereas the world ultimately discards us, God promises us resurrection and life.

The wonder of our relationship with God is that everything that He has done for us, and that He offers us, is done out of His great and unlimited love.

This love of God is not revealed only in words, it is revealed in the gift and sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. There could be no greater gift or example of the love that God has for us. And, because it is only through the grace of God, flowing from this love that we have a future and a hope, Jesus Christ stands also as the revelation of this grace. We become personal recipients of that grace as we believe and trust in HIm. We receive not only God’s love but the salvation and ever-present relationship with Him that flows from it.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”  (Ephesians 2:8)

From beginning to end the reality of God, and the relationship that we can have with Him, is revealed and assured in the reality of Jesus Christ who entered into the reality of human life to bring to it a new and eternal reality with God.

Response:
Consider the reality of the cross. God speaks through it to each one personally.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to look not to myself but to You, and to continually receive the wonder of God’s grace and love. Amen.

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