The Soaring Eagle

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


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Water!

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14)

Reflection:
I remember back to when I was in the army. We had been drilling in the hot sun for hours, and I was so thirsty that I fantasised about a glass of water – a pale green glass that my grandmother had – with one or two pieces of ice tinkling at the top. Years later I watched John Mills in the film ‘Ice-Cold In Alex’ doing much the same in his journey across the desert, until he sat at the bar in Alexander with a glass of ice-cold beer in front of him. The audience nearly went mad with frustration as he ran his finger slowly down the dewy exterior of the glass, before eventually picking it up and draining it. Thirst is a powerful feeling, and it keeps coming back.

We are all thirsty people, surrounded by other thirsty people – thirsty for love, for attention, for significance, for power, for wealth, for healing, for escape, for friends, for energy, for self–control, for peace, for happiness, for success, for good looks, for different bodies, for so many things. As with a drink of water, we may be satisfied for a moment but the craving returns, and identifies itself as something deeper. Often it takes more and more to quench it for just a moment.

Jesus talking to the women at the well is referring not only to her physical thirst. He will also see the deeper, spiritual craving within her, which has developed into a despairing ache, as one failed relationship follows another. It seems that she has been rejected also by the local women – and forced to use the well outside of town. She is isolated without and within herself. He offers a ‘living water’ that will reach into the depths of her, satisfy these painful longings and hurts, renew her image and understanding of herself, lead her into an everlasting relationship, and become a spring that wells up within her and flows out to others in blessing. What an amazing picture and prospect! What a thrilling one-on-one encounter.

He is, of course, referring to the Holy Spirit – God Himself – who will take up residence within people and, as the Creator God of Love, bring the love, healing and peace that we crave – no matter what the outward circumstances may be like. This is the peace that passes understanding, the peace that is from God and that only God can bring about. It is peace, in the very depths of our being.

We will not find the love, healing and peace in any other way, nor from any other source. It does not exist and the false substitutes not only do not last but end up making matters worse. It was St Augustine who said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord.” He was quite right. Whether we are aware of it, or not, our deep longings and desires are for God, the One who alone can bring the peace and fulfilment that we need.

Response:
Go deeper with God. Ask Him to lead you to Himself, to bless you with the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and to begin (re-) filling you with His love, joy and peace. (Gal 5:22). Press on, and don’t settle for false substitutes. Keep looking to Him and trusting Him.

Prayer:

Father, only You know the deep needs and longings within me. Only You can meet them. Please help me to know Your love, to live in Your love…and to know You at an ever- deepening level. In Jesus name, Amen. 

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So Thirsty

“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus,
tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well.
It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water,
Jesus said to her,
“Will you give me a drink?”

(John 4:5-8)

Reflection:
In his poem on the sinking of the Titanic, Thomas Hardy wrote,

“And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.”

Then they both slipped from their moorings and set out for their unplanned meeting in the cold dark waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. The date is fixed in history – 15 April 1912. Death was waiting for them.

Some 20 centuries earlier two very different babies entered the world and set off on their own journeys of life. These journeys too would have, at least for the one, an unplanned and unexpected meeting, this time in the lonely area surrounding a well in Samaria. As different as the ship and the iceberg, the Jewish Rabbi and the immoral Samaritan woman would never have been scheduled to meet. But, also like the ship and the iceberg, they did. Here too was death, for the old woman died – but a new one was born. For this time Life had been waiting and Life had the victory.

It is glorious to realise that as she wandered in forlorn isolation from the town in which she lived, coming to a lonely well because, very likely, the town’s women did not want her at the town well, Jesus was waiting for her. It is stunning to think that everything in her life, all her failures and rejections, had led her to this place where the Christ was looking for her. He was there not to hand out judgement but to give her instead the gift of new life – His life for hers. Love, Life and Grace awaited her and He started by asking her for a drink!

For each one of us reading this there will have been at least one time in our lives when our paths crossed with the Saviour. We may have recognised and turned to Him or failed to recognise Him. We might have recognised Him and walked away or have drifted away from Him later. Wherever we happen to be He still waits for us in our everyday routines – including the places where we try and satisfy a thirst that won’t go away. An aching longing that is not only physical but spiritual and emotional as well.

He is there waiting for us, waiting for the time when we will hear Him and respond. Waiting and longing for the opportunity to save us from the coils of death that we have produced, and to give us the Life that He has gained for us. Waiting even for those who are right next to Him to turn and draw even closer.

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14)

Response:

And I come, O Jesus;
Dare I turn away?

No! Thy love hath conquered,
And I come today.

Bringing all my burdens,
Sorrow, sin, and care,
At Thy feet I lay them
And I leave them there.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus please help me to draw closer to You and to allow You to love me into the fullness of life. Amen.

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His Love is Real

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:8)

Reflection:
In the film My Fair Lady, Eliza Dolittle burst into a song in which she said that she was sick of words so “If you’re in love, show me!” The Bible has numerous references to the fact that God loves us, but His love is not only revealed in words. It has been demonstrated before us in the most telling way possible.

“Greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends.”
(John 15:13)

Jesus went on to prove His point by giving His life for us – not when we were good and pure, but whilst “we were still sinners” and, therefore, “God’s enemies” (Romans 5:10)

This great act of salvation was carried out in the in the most public way possible, and has been remembered and proclaimed in many ways and numerous times every year for the past 2000 years. Because of it we can place the utmost confidence in each and every reference to the love of God contained in the Holy Scriptures. We can look for no greater demonstration and proof than that revealed by the Cross. There can be no doubt – God really does love us, and He loves us that much!

And whenever we have doubts we can look at and contemplate the awesome reality of that Cross.

The fact that the world is in a mess, and that the Church itself is not looking too good at the moment, is not a reflection on the quality of God’s love. It is, rather, an indication of humankinds perpetual desire to put themselves first and to do everything their own way. God’s original gift of the freedom to choose has never been withdrawn. His desire is that we choose Him because we want to, not because we are puppets or programmed that way.

God’s love for us is, really, beyond doubt. Given the opportunity it becomes expressed in the most wonderful, tender, joyful and uplifting ways. Ignored, it does not wither – it just is not known. The real question is not ‘does God love me’, but have I entered into that love?

  • “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”(Jeremiah 29:13)
  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)
  • “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

Response:
Ask God to enter more fully into your life, and help you see, receive and know His love. Read the Gospels and hear what they say to you about Him.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You do love me. Please help me to trust and accept that love, and to live within it. Amen.

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High Places

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.”
(Habakkuk 3:19)

Reflection:
Try as we might there are some things that we cannot do – things that are beyond our power and ability. We are mortally human. We are still greatly influenced by the things of the world as well as the actions, reactions and imperfections of others and ourselves. And the peace and joy that come from the world are very fragile and can be shattered within a moment.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength. He is Almighty and none can stand in His way when He chooses to act and to bless. The closer I am to Him the closer He is to me and the more His presence sustains and uplifts me – no matter what the world may be throwing at me at that particular moment. My vulnerability becomes the opportunity for His love and strength to bless me. My aloneness is the gap which opens the way for His presence to become more real and wonderful.

I cannot dance in the spirit unless His Spirit inspires my spirit and gives life and lightness to my feet. Only He can take me to the heights, only in Him am I enabled to mount up on wings like eagles – to soar, even for a moment, up into a new atmosphere, to new heights from which I can gain another perspective, and in which I am strengthened to go back into the valleys again with a new hope, faith and purpose.

God is my everything. In Him I live and move and have my being. He is my life, my light and my love. He is both the healing and the blessing of my yesterdays; He is the strength and the joy of my todays; and He is the hope and the fulfilment of my tomorrows.

And if I allow Him to embrace and feed me in the light I will know that He is still there in the passing darkness.

Response:
Choose to be in God’s presence today and to rest in Him.

Prayer:

Father, help me to draw closer to You so that You can draw closer to me. I put my hope and trust in You. Amen.

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Yes I Can

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

Reflection:
Towards the end of a journey that incorporated many trials and much temptation, suffering and rejection, Paul could say with confidence that, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11) This had come about because of his faith and trust in Christ, and the knowledge of the God who was with him at all times. He was certain that God would never abandon him or lose control of his situations. This was the peace that passes understanding. He was in God’s hands and nothing could snatch him away from God’s great hold on him – whatever the world might do.

Now in prison he could affirm that he had been, and was still, able to do everything that God wanted of him – whatever that might be and whatever challenges that might lead him into. God was with him and would give him whatever was needed in a particular situation – wisdom, words, faith, courage, perseverance.

As you and I look ahead these words come to us, both to inspire us and to build our faith. Whatever the trials and challenges are that we might face, we can meet them, live through them and come through them in the strength and with the help that God will give us. In anything and everything, from the traffic, to health and work, family and relationship issues, to failures and financial difficulties, to insecurities, rejection and abuse, national and international turmoil, God is with us. Whatever else He might do, He will strengthen and guide us as we look to and trust in Him.

Response:
Give God your situation and the road ahead. Pray particularly for the difficulties that you foresee and the people involved. Ask God for guidance, strength and an awareness of His presence. Keep praying and listening. Memorise and keep saying today’s scripture.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, please help me to face every day in the confidence that, with Your help, I can face and do all the things that You want me to. Please help me to commit everything to You and to seek Your guidance and strength. Thank You for always being with me. Amen.

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God’s Home

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
(1 Corinthians 3:16)

 

Reflection:
God looks upon temples as His places, set aside for His use and for His glory. When anything not of Him is introduced into them it is seen as a desecration.

Those who worship God in churches normally like to see them as not only clean but suitably furnished and decorated as well. Spotless linen, polished silverware, fresh flowers and well prepared services are in place not just for the congregations but as indications that the church is set aside for the worship and glory of God. By the same token there are activities that would not be considered suitable. Wild parties, organised fights, gambling, abuse of individuals and immorality would be totally out of place.

As Christians our bodies are also temples of the Holy Spirit.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

We have to be careful on two fronts. The first is that we do not engage in activities that would not be acceptable to God and His people. The second is that we do not allow such things to continue to take place within us. Anger, bitterness, rejection of others, unforgiveness, selfish ambition, envy, greed, impurity and others all contaminate and diminish us and prevent us from being the person we could be with God’s help. They also, on a corporate level, prevent the church from being what it should be.

We know many of the thoughts, emotions and activities that have no place within our lives. These areas of our lives we can continually bring before the Lord, admitting our weakness and asking Him to cleanse, heal and strengthen us. As we do so we may ask Him to help us to transfer our thoughts to other and more suitable things.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”(Philippians 4:6-8)

This is an ongoing journey in which the Holy Spirit works to transform us and to make us more completely who we were created to be as God’s lovely daughters and sons.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Response:
May every part of me be open and available to God to reflect His beauty and love

Prayer:

Father help me to offer myself to You to be cleansed and healed of all impurity and lovelessness. Please keep pouring Your love, light and life into me, in Jesus name, Amen.

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My Big Brother

“Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me,
for I have not yet returned to the Father.
Go instead to my brothers and tell them,
`I am returning to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'”

(John 20:17)

Reflection:
There is a most wonderful and meaningful progression in the way that Jesus refers to His disciples. In the story of The Vine we see the first progression when He tells them that

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15)

Originally they would have been His servants. Now they have been elevated to the position of friends – which would have been very significant and a great honour. But more was to come and this could only happen after He had dealt with their sins on the Cross and brought them into a completely new relationship with God as their eternal Father. Now He could, and indeed did, refer to them as “My brothers”.

This was their, and is now our, true and complete relationship with God. We are His eternal sons and daughters and Jesus is our eternal brother. So complete is this adoption that we have now become joint heirs with Christ of all that God is and has.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but 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. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:15-17)

This must affect the way in which we think about God and relate to Him in our thoughts and prayers. I am no longer on the outside – looking hopefully in through the window. I am now forever entitled to be in His presence, freely and welcomed, honoured and blessed. I am the son/daughter of the Living God and His Son is my Brother.

And note that Jesus puts us on the same level as Himself when He refers to “My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” We are not second class family members we are there at the top with our Lord Jesus – from the moment that we give our lives to Him as our Saviour and Lord.

Response:
Let the truth sink in  – and thank and praise God for the wonder of it.

Prayer:

Father, my Father, my Abba, my Dad – thank You so very much for loving me back into life and bringing me home to You. You are so amazingly wonderful!

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