The Soaring Eagle

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


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Keep on

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by his grace gave us
eternal encouragement and good hope,
encourage your hearts and strengthen you
in every good deed and word.”

(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

Reflection:
Paul never thought that God was a disinterested spectator in the affairs of the world, of His Church and of His people individually. His learning and his experience taught him otherwise. His encounter with the living Jesus, his experience of the Holy Spirit and the way God opened his eyes to the Scriptures convinced him of God’s presence, purpose and commitment. He lived his life accordingly.

Christian life and ministry can, at times, be very lonely and insecure. We may wonder where God is and if what we are about has any significance or value in the greater scale of things. We need to remember that Jesus gave His life, and His ongoing commitment, to the people who would believe in Him and continue His work and ministry. Every aspect of it, whether thought, word or deed is of importance and, if of God, contributes towards the building and extension of His Kingdom. Each one of us does indeed have a Circle of Influence, far wider in today’s world than we would at first imagine. God encourages us to use that influence to bless others and bring glory to Him.

If God desires something to happen, whether on an international or personal front, then He will support and empower it. If God wishes you or me to lead a particular type of life – a holy life – then He will support, empower and encourage it. Because He wants us to reflect Him in our world He will inspire and strengthen us. He will also stand with us when the enemy attacks us and attempts to scare us into inactivity or lead us astray. He will be both our strength and our refuge.

Jesus great promise is to be with us always. He undertook also that the Holy Spirit would be within us and be the one to  bring God’s love into our hearts. We are not alone – God is at work within and around us even when we are blind to His presence.

Response:

Remind yourself of Jesus’ presence. Involve Him in everything.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus do help me to remember that  You are with me always. Please help me to acknowledge You and  to think, speak and act in ways that honour You – and strengthen and encourage me every step of the Way. 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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His Strength

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength,
that he considered me faithful,
appointing me to his service”
(1 Timothy 1:12)

Reflection:
It is a sobering thought that in calling and appointing us God considers us faithful – faithful to Him and to the particular ministry and mission to which He has called us and in which we will serve Him.

Notwithstanding his past God had now entrusted Paul with a new focus, way of life and ministry – and he trusted Paul to live it out. It is not that God left Paul to get on with it but He also gave to Paul the strength that he would need. In fact what was happening was that God was confident that He could carry out through Paul His plan and purpose and that Paul would be faithful enough to co-operate with and trust Him.

What God did with Paul and the others He does also with us – whether he calls us onto the international and public stage or the local and private one.  Our response is to have faith in Him and to be faithful to Him.

By ourselves no person “is good enough, or strong enough, or pure enough, or wise enough to be the servant of Christ. But, if they will give themselves to Christ, they will go, not in their own strength, but in the strength of their Lord.” (Barclay)

With Paul then we can indeed say that,

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

Response:
God will give me the strength today to deal with His purposes today

Prayer:

Lord I am weak – in body, mind and spirit – but You are strong and invincible. Help me to trust You for my today and tomorrows and allow You to work Your will in, through and around me. Amen.

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Stay Close

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him,
strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.”
(Colossians 2:6-7)

Reflection:
There came a point in our life’s journey where our path intersected with that of Christ Jesus, and we responded to His call to come to Him and follow Him.

 Now we are called to remain with Him, all the time. Our relationship is to be so close that spiritually He is in us and we are in Him. So Paul directs us to ‘continue to live in Him’ – in this very close and personal relationship. He goes on to relate it to being ‘rooted’ in Christ. This reminds us of Jesus story of the Vine – with Him as the Vine and us as the branches. The only way in which we can receive the new life-giving sustenance is through Him, The only way in which we can bear abundant and Godly fruit is through the power and creativity that flows from Him. The extent of the life that flows from Him to us is dependent upon the quality of our relationship with Him – the larger the join of the branch to the vine the more that flows into it. It is from Christ that we receive our spiritual strength and deepening faith – not from ourselves or from others. He, and He alone, is “the Life” (John 14:6).

What a wonderful privilege it is to have been called by Christ from darkness into light, from judgement into salvation, from separation into this glorious relationship as the sons/daughters of the Lord God Almighty. We can only be eternally and deeply thankful and grateful that we are no longer the ‘enemies of God’ but are now His ‘treasured possession’ in whom He ‘delights.’

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”
(Isaiah 43:1)

Response:
Thank God – and spend a moment dwelling on these wonderful truths.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, please deepen my faith and help me to appreciate the wonderful privilege of being an eternal child of God. Amen

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Ask

“Asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
 (Colossians 1:9)

Reflections:
We are told by Paul that in everything we should present our requests to God. (Philippians 4:6) However prayer should also include our praying for the things that God wants. Some of these are set out for us in the Lord’s Prayer where we can join our desires to those of God.

Now Paul turns his attentions to our individual and corporate growth and maturity – praying that God will fill is with the knowledge of His will – obviously in all things – through our growth in spiritual wisdom and understanding. This comes through the work and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit within us as well as through our growth in knowledge and understanding as we walk with God along the path that He has set for us. The more we know of God and His ways, and the more we get to know Him personally, the deeper will be our understanding of His will and ways in our life situation.

Because we can trust that He is the God of Love we can trust His will and His ways for us. They are designed to draw us closer to Him and into a deeper and more fulfilling relationship.

  • “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)

The purpose of this prayer of Pauls is not only to bless us but to enable us to more readily and purposefully fulfil the will of God both for us and through us.

  • “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)

Response:
We are called to make Paul’s prayer for the Colossians our own prayer for ourselves and our Christian community.

Prayer:

Lord fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that I may live a life worthy of You in every way. Amen.

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Live your difference

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling
and slander, along with every form of malice”
(Ephesians 4:31)

Reflection:
As we saw at the beginning of the week Paul encourages us to

“purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit,
perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”
( 2 Corinthians 7:1)

This is not just another requirement that is laid upon us but a call to increasingly see God as He really is and to see ourselves as He has recreated us and is transforming us to be.

He is the Lord God Almighty – the God of majesty, power, purity and holiness – and deserves to be revered and honoured, worshipped and glorified. And we now are not merely a bunch of graceless sinners but the daughters and sons of the great and glorious Lord and God. So just as He is wondrously holy we too are called to be holy – allowing His image to shine in and through us.

It is in this context and for these reasons that Paul calls us to look to our lives and to live out and up to our great calling by our glorious God. So just as we do not see bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander and malice in the character and life of God – and would be alarmed if we did – they should not be seen in our own lives and emotions. And instead of embracing or allowing them as natural reactions we should be recognising that they do not belong – and that we do not wish for them to be a part of our redeemed lives – because we are now different and wanting to live to our higher calling and identity.

Response:
Be the new you – and keep asking the Lord to fill you with His healing and love

Prayer:

Father God, please help me to want to be more like You and to live it out – and please continue to pour Your love into my heart by the Holy Spirit whom You have given to us. Amen

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Shine

“In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds
and praise your Father in heaven”
(Matthew 5:16)

Reflection:
There has to be action. Christianity is not a personal secret but a new life and way of living.

Jesus is indicating that clearly in this passage – and showing that it becomes a part of our witness and testimony to God. James highlights it when he writes,

  • “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (James 2:14)
  • “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17)
  • “But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18)

Unless the change in us becomes visible to others it becomes the equivalent of hiding a lamp under the bed so that no one in the dark may see it and be blessed by its light. We know that doesn’t make sense. So the way that we live, work and speak must reflect our faith and new relationship with the Lord – and so should the way in which we relate to others. In this way God is glorified.

No matter who we are and where we are as Christians we have within us the God-given ability to make a difference in someone’s life. And as the parable of the Good Samaritan shows us we do not have to go searching for the needy for they will be obvious to us if we keep our eyes open through the day. God will point them out to us. (And needy does not only mean the poverty-stricken)

He has shown me that my shyness is a form of self-focus – whereas if I am focussed on Him I draw courage from Him. He does expect me, and all of us, to continue His ministry of reaching out to others in love. And is there a greater blessing than knowing that God has used you to touch somebody else’s life in a significant way?

Response:
You have a circle of influence – be a prayerful and steady influence within it.

Prayer:

Lord God as You have reached out to bless me, so help me to reach out to bless others with that same love – in all that I think and say and do. And Lord please keep prompting me. Amen.

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