The Soaring Eagle

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


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“You show that you are a letter from Christ,
the result of our ministry,
written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
(2 Corinthians 3:3)

 

Reflection:
 I really miss getting hand-written letters. There was something very personal and warm about them – far more so than with much of today’s instant mail.

 How wonderful it is that God did not send out impersonal tweets, texts or bulk mail when He had something important to say. He spoke directly, He spoke through the prophets and He has spoken most revealingly through His Son. Even Scripture as the divinely inspired written record is filled with carefully chosen words and descriptions – all designed to help reveal to us more of the Lord Jesus and to point us to Him.

He speaks also through us. We become His letters – living messages that can be seen, examined and spoken to. His message is not written on the cold screen of the latest tablet with all of its high definition and artificial colour, but on the living and pulsating hearts of His people. He who said that if we had seen Him we had seen the Father would want to say of us that if people wished to see Him they should look at us! With His light within us we become ‘the light of the world!’ We are called to be living and speaking witnesses of His Way, Truth and Life.

People read us all day and every day. We leave an impression on everyone – like footprints in the sand. We affect them. And a part of the good news is the fact that the message of God’s perfect love and grace is carried within the visibly imperfect envelopes of our lives. If God loves us then He can love anyone.

Response:
Tread with love through the lives of others today.

Prayer:

Lord write Your message on my heart – and may it be the only one that shines out from me. Amen.

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Thank You!

“Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed?
Where are the other nine?
Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
(Luke 17:17-18)

Reflection:
Whenever I read this account I am convicted of how very much I take for granted.

Jesus has just healed 10 lepers. He sent them off to show themselves to the priest to be declared healed and able to take their place in society again. As they went, the record tells us, ‘they were cleansed.” The effect on them must have been remarkable – for they were healed not only physically but of their being social outcasts, having only other diseased people as there companions and friends.

One of them returned to Jesus ‘praising God in a loud voice’ and ‘threw himself at Jesus feet and thanked Him.’ Looking at him, a Samaritan, Jesus asked the question – “Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” By implication most, if not all, of the others had been Israelites. The sadness was that as much as they may have rejoiced in their healing they ignored the One who had healed them and given them back the gift of life and living.

Every day is a day of the wonder and grace of God. Each one is an occasion when we may look for Him and find Him in new ways. Each moment offers us the opportunity to return our thoughts to Him and to speak to Him of our lives and His love. And there is so much for which to thank Him – from the wonder of our minds and bodies to the awesome extent, detail and beauty of His creation, from the ongoing blessing of His forgiveness, cleansing and healing of our spirits to the people who have been and are a blessing in our lives.

Response:
Take a moment now to thank God for something or someone who has blessed you – and maybe to thank them as well.

Prayer:

Thank You Father for the life You have given me, for my new life in Jesus Christ, and for the countless ways in which You have reached out to me in love and blessing. Thank You so very much. Amen

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Gift from the heart

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her?
She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
(Mark 14:6)

Reflection:

A woman had just anointed Jesus with extremely expensive perfume. Some of those present – probably all men – were indignant, called it a waste and said that it could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor. They rebuked her harshly. Jesus intervened and told them not to bother her for what she had done to Him was a ‘beautiful thing.’ He continued,

“I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:9)

How easy it is to become conceptual and legalistic – and to forget that love lies at the very heart of our relationship with God and each other. True love can be very extravagant and seemingly wasteful as John reminds us,

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,” (John 3:16)
  • “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

God’s example is of a ‘lavish love’ that does not hold back but expresses itself wonderfully. The woman had clearly been deeply touched by this love and was responding in the most expressive way that she could. This was not the love of obedience but the overflowing love from a grateful heart. It clearly touched Jesus deeply. So significant did He find it that He promised, and ensured, that it would continue to be told wherever the gospel was preached.

But there was something more. Although the woman would have been unaware of it Jesus saw in her actions an anointing of Him in preparation for His burial that lay just ahead. He had been blessed by love just before He was deserted, rejected and abused. And such was the power of the perfume that it was probably still noticeable when He was nailed to the cross.

Response:
Could you do a beautiful thing for the Lord today – or for someone He cares about?.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for always wanting something from You. Touch my heart with Your love so that I too may wish to love You back unreservedly. Amen.

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God’s Gifts

“Be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart;
consider what great things he has done for you”

(1 Samuel 12:24)

Reflection:
If we were not so caught up in the modern attitude of self-absorption we might be able to see more clearly and with far more appreciation.

The essential person within each of us is unique and a gift from God. The created order in which we live is a gift from God. Our ability to see it, and appreciate it, and understand it, and work within and with it are gifts from God. Each one of our senses is a gift from God. Our abilities and talents are gifts from God. Our sensitivities and emotions are gifts from God. Our abilities to know, understand and communicate with each other are gifts from God. Love is a gift from God.

Things like electricity, plumbing, computers, television, smartphones, microwaves, medicines, medical equipment, motor vehicles, aeroplanes, ships and so many other things are gifts from God – built into the created order that He has made available to us.

The sun, the moon and the stars are gifts from God. Birds and bird-song, the fish of the seas and the animals of the earth are gifts from God. Plants, grass and crops are a gift from God. Rain and wind are gifts from God. The seasons are gifts from God. The towering mountains and the shaded valleys, the rivers and the seas, the forests and the plains are gifts from God.

God is a gift from God. Jesus Christ is a gift from God. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God. Our relationship to the Father as His sons and daughters is a gift from God. The Holy Bible is a gift from God. The Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Second Coming are gifts from God. Salvation is a gift from God.

Response:
“Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:14)

Prayer:

Lord open my eyes that I may see, marvel and be grateful. Amen.

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Awesome Wonder

“But as for me, through the greatness of Your mercy,
I will come into Your house;
I will bow down towards Your holy temple
in awe of You”
 (Psalm 5:7)

Reflection:
Every now and then I am struck anew by the amazing privilege of God in my life. This verse did it again for me this morning.

Who am I that I should be so privileged as to know of God and to know Him in my life? I am aware of Him in the day and in the night-time. I see His hand and His love in the glory of creation – the majestic display of the setting sun, the soft splendour of its rising, and the silent, stately beauty of the moon. I hear His love and praise in the liquid songs of the early morning birds, the haunting cry of the fish eagle and the gentle whisper of the wind amongst the leaves. I see His joy in the laughter of a child and the song of a mother – and I feel His pain in their rejection and abuse.

And, although I am surrounded by people who deny Him, reject Him or take Him for granted, I know that He listens when I speak, talks to me when I listen and answers my prayers – some times with quiet, ‘little’ miracles of grace and glory.

And then when I read that He chose me before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight, and that in love He predestined me to be adopted as His son so that I might be for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1: 4, 5, 12) it is beyond anything I can understand. I shake my head in wonder and amazement – and feel tears of gratitude well up within me.

I know where my journey is going and where it will end. In some strange and mysterious way I am already there. In my spirit I enter freely and unashamedly into the house of the Lord – where I belong. And I kneel before Him in humble gratitude, love and worship.

Response:
Wherever you are, and however you are, today let Him remind you that as His beloved child He is with you now and forever.

Prayer:

Thank you Lord God, my Holy Father, for Your great love, mercy and grace towards me. Thank You for reaching out to touch me, love me and draw me to Yourself. Help me please to believe in and know Your love, and to trust Your love forever. Amen.

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Speak Wheat not Weeds

“Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
(Colossians 4:6)

Reflection:
We have something so valuable to contribute when we are with others. As people of grace, loved, called and saved by the Lord, we can share aspects of His love and beauty with them.

There is no call for us to enter into conversations of destructive gossip or negativity. With the salvation and hope that we have in Jesus Christ we are the ones to share hope, affirmation and understanding instead.  We have been accepted by God, we do not therefore have to look for acceptance from others by joining them in what they are doing.

As the light of the world and the salt of the earth our contribution in any situation should be positive and uplifting, particularly in what we say and the way in which we say it. Accordingly we must be very careful to avoid deliberate, or careless, criticism or slander of anyone else. Bad language, swearing and blasphemy should not be a part of our speech on any occasion, no matter how great the provocation. If any of this is happening around us, and we do not feel able to challenge it, then we need to consider walking away from it. Failing even that, we can keep silent and pray!

Throughout the day most of us will meet with a variety of people. Some we will know well, others casually and some will be strangers to us. In every case there is the opportunity, in the way that we speak and in what we say, to leave a positive impression. It is often so easy to bring a smile to someone’s face by a deliberate appreciation of something that they have done, even by an acknowledgement of their name and presence. And remember that if someone is angry or critical towards us, either with or without cause, there is no reason for us to become angry and abusive in return. We can choose our response remembering that,

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

If we set out in the morning with the intention of speaking love and encouragement into people’s lives, we will end the day having made a marked difference in many of them. For some it may have completely transformed their day and attitude. Not a bad result!

Response:
Just do it!

Prayer:

Father, I know what a difference it makes in my life to receive affirmation, encouragement and compliments. Help me to be a Love-giver into the lives of those around me – for Jesus sake, Amen.

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My New Clothes

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.”
(Colossians 3:12)

Reflection:
We are God’s chosen people! We are not beggars tagging along behind His cavalcade, hoping to scavenge some of the left-overs. We are there in the midst of His people, personally selected and called,

  • “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you.”  (John 15:16)
  • “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”   (Romans 8:29-30)

As God’s chosen people, His sons and His daughters, we are “dearly loved”, loved to the full extent of Christ’s enormous sacrifice – and even more if that were possible. There is nothing lacking in God’s great love for us. Having called us to Himself we are made holy by and through our association with Him, and because we are now, spiritually, in Christ and He in us. We have been set apart by God, for God, for eternity. We are His.

Paul urges us to see this more clearly, to recognise and accept our new identity and relationship, and to clothe ourselves accordingly. As we are now a part of Christ, members of His body, we can relate to and more fully acquire the things that characterise Him. So we can reach out, take hold of, and make these characteristics a part of our own lives because they are so much a part of His – “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” They are not to be merely superficial ornaments, like decorations on a Christmas tree, but deeply embedded in our lives. To make the point other translations say,

  • “Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering…” (ASV)
  • “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline…” (MSG)

Because we are God’s, and may rest secure in that knowledge, we can be less worried about ourselves and more concerned about the lives of others. We have something of great value to share – the love and peace of God Himself, in and through Jesus Christ.

Response:
They are not just words to read but steps to take. Dress yourself properly, and consciously, now and every day. Do not let anyone, or anything, undress you! Not even your own sins or insecurities – they are not you!

Prayer:

Loving Father, please help me to leave behind the garments of insecurity and selfishness, and to put on those of love, peace and blessing – in Jesus name, Amen.

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