The Soaring Eagle

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


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Fill Me

“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 4:14)

Reflection:
‘The God who sees me’ is also the God who sees all about me.

Jesus was waiting for the Samaritan woman at the well outside of the town. Being a town it would have had a well within its boundaries where the women would have gathered to fetch their water and to chat. Given the life that the Samaritan woman had led it is probable that she had been excluded from the society of the other woman, and so chose to visit this isolated well instead.

Without being told Jesus knew that here was a person with five failed marriages behind her and a current partner to whom she was not married. Here was a person empty of all that made life worth living. No female friends, no male friends who would care to be seen with her, no position of respect or acceptance, a history of rejection and exclusion and, therefore, no self-respect. She probably merely existed from day to day and with no light on her horizon other than death itself.

Jesus seeing all this not only astounds her, as a Jew, by talking to her but holds out to her the unbelievable offer of a new life filled with the living water of the Holy Spirit – God Himself. She had done nothing to warrant it and had nothing to offer Him except her dark and lonely emptiness. Yet not only did He change her life but “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.” They would go on to tell her that “we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”

In just a few moments her life was transformed. There would still be issues that she had to work through and resolve but suddenly a new Light had entered into her. And she, together with the townsfolk, had something new and precious in which they shared and which could change their relationships.

Such is the wonder, the glory and the truth of the grace of God – His life-giving love and saving power in action, freely reaching out to embrace us.

Response:
Ask the Lord into the areas of darkness and emptiness in your own life – and trust Him to respond.

Prayer:

Lord God, please come into these areas of darkness, emptiness and pain in my life – and pour out upon them Your life-giving, life-restoring and life-healing waters of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Get up!

“Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
(Matthew 9:2)

 

Reflection:
Not all paralysis is caused by the sin of the person. However sin can paralyse us in certain ways and in some areas of our lives. Anyone who is in bondage to a way of life, a way of thinking and a way of acting may find themselves unable or unwilling to change into a different and better way.

The first step towards healing is to recognise the problem and the second is to do something about it. Many people would love to be healed but are not really willing to go through the process or to abandon their relationship with the problem itself – which may have become their escape route from emotional pain. Some receive healing but fall back again. They may either give up or go through a period of despair, self-loathing and fear of the displeasure of God before re-trying.

There is absolutely no doubt that God wants us to be set free and is prepared to help us. Jesus first words to the paralysed man are filled with compassion, life and love. He did not belittle or condemn him, but said,

“Take heart, son.”

He then freely forgave him and offered him healing.

“Your sins are forgiven ……
Get up, take your mat and go home.”

The ball was now in the man’s court. He had to respond by getting up off the ground. The story does not go further but, in effect, the man would have to keep doing the same thing every day. He would have to stand up and walk in newness of life. He could no longer rely on others to cart him about or to provide for him. He was free now to live life himself, and to take responsibility for himself, if he would.

For many of us the process is rather like a child learning to walk. We try and fall a number of times before we begin to stay on our feet. Then we can find that not only are we walking in a new way but running and dancing with a wonderful and glorious freedom in areas and ways that we would never have believed to be possible. It is all because of the love of God, the salvation in Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit.

We need God if we are going to be set free – for our strength and will are often inadequate. We may need others as well – just as this man needed his friends – to help, encourage and support us along the way. We may even need the professional help of those gifted and with experience in our areas. However more than anyone else we need the Lord. The one Who says to us, and does so as many times as is necessary,

“Take heart, your sins are forgiven, get up and walk”

It is His power that enables us to respond to His words.

Response:
Ask God to show you where you may need healing. Ask Him for forgiveness and help. If you fall don’t give up – go back to the Lord!

Prayer:

Lord, please forgive me, heal me and help me. Please renew my vision, strengthen my faith and give me the courage to carry on with You in newness of life. Amen.

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Lord’s Prayer 7

“Forgive us our sins”
(Matthew 6:12)

Reflection:
The problem that men and women have faced from the Fall has been that of sin. Sin came into the world through the action of the first humans and has not left. The consequence of sin, both that of Adam and Eve and that of each one of us, is that it separates us from God – as well as causing us to fall short of who we could be with Him! There is nothing that we can do to erase it or to bridge the divide that it causes. All sin is essentially sin against God and only He can do anything about it.

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4)

 It was because of sin that Jesus came into the world,

  • “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,” (Luke 1:76-77)
  • “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
  • “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
  • “He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)

 When Jesus died upon the cross he took our sins, our guilt and our punishment upon Himself. He died in our place. However, He did not die only for the sins of the past, He died for the sins of the present and of the future – for everyone who had lived, was living and was still to be born. Without His death there would have been no forgiveness, no liberation, and we would all have nothing to look ahead to except the final judgement and eternal separation from God, whatever that might mean.

 When Jesus teaches us to pray for the forgiveness of our sins He is recognising that, no matter how committed to Him we might be, we will still sin today, tomorrow and the next day. In fact no day will go by in which we will not sin again and again. Having died for these sins He has opened the way for us to ask God for direct and immediate forgiveness and absolution.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”  (1 John 1:7-2:2)

 That does not mean that we can be casual about sin, and treat it as mere naughtiness. Sin is a horror and a rejection of God. Only in Jesus is there the forgiveness of sins and the gift of new life – today and every day. It is however vital that we understand that sin does not cast the true believer – who has entered into a new relationship with God through belief in Jesus and who has received the Holy Spirit – back into the outer darkness of separation from God. Although it may bring great grief and shame, cloud our relationship with God, and still cause us to fall short of our true potential, it no longer has the power to separate us from Him. Once we have received the adoption as His sons and daughters, then nothing

“in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

 Every day should see us approach the Father Almighty in honest acknowledgement of our sin, and in humble appreciation of His great love and grace.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

Response:
Acknowledge sin as a reality – examine your life and conscience regularly.

Prayer:

Father, thank You so much for Your great and wonderful love and salvation. Please forgive us our sins in Jesus name and help us to trust You and accept it. Amen.

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Lord’s Prayer 5

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
(Matthew 6:10)

Reflection:
God has a plan and a purpose for the world, and God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.

  • “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:10)
  • “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

From His commission to Adam and Eve, to Noah, in Jesus teaching, in the Great Commission to the disciples and all who follow Jesus, and as picked up by Paul, comes the message that God is working towards a definite end which He will accomplish. Our privilege is to be a part of that purpose and to be those through whom He works to achieve His end.

The will of God and the glory of God are connected. He is best glorified by His people when He is obeyed. It is an indication that we acknowledge and submit to His sovereign power and authority, and that we trust His love for us – the extent of which is revealed in the life, death and resurrection of His Son.

Jesus also submitted Himself completely to the will of His Father.

  • “the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (John 14:31)
  • “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:41-44)

 The alternative to God’s will being done on earth is that the will of fallen man will be done instead. We can see around us the fruit of that option – which should make us pray even more fervently for God’s will – His good, pleasing and perfect will – to be done instead and starting in us. And, of course, if I pray the prayer then I must seek to find out more about the will of God and allow the Holy Spirit to mould my life to it in thought, word and deed.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Romans 12:2)

And His will for us above all is this – to really and fully live our belief in the Lord Jesus.

“Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)

Response:

I believe – Lord help my unbelief.

Prayer:

Father – Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – starting in me. Amen.

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Lord’s Prayer 1

“Our Father”
(Matthew 6:9)

Reflection:
The two opening words are very significant. Jesus is giving the prayer to His disciples and not to the general crowds. They were entering into a completely new relationship with Almighty God – a relationship which entitled them to call God “Father” – just as Jesus did! There is only one possible English translation of the word that Jesus used – that conveys its meaning in ordinary use – and that is the intimate term “Daddy.” (Barclay). It has also been said that there is no parallel in the whole of Jewish literature for the application of this word to God. (Jeremias)

  • “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)
  • “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.” (Romans 8:15-16)

 Those who believe and receive the Lord Jesus, and consequently receive the presence of the Holy Spirit, are the ones who with full integrity may pray this prayer – using this intimate term Father to address Almighty God, rather than the word that refers to the general fatherhood of God over all of creation. The Bible makes a clear distinction between those who are in such a relationship with God and those who are not. John is full of wonder as he exclaims,

“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! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  (1 John 3:1)

 Believers are not to see themselves merely as individuals, but as members of a new and widespread Christian family, with God as the Father of them all – hence the recognition that God is ‘our’ Father and not just ‘my’ Father. He does not belong to me but I belong to him and am in relationship with His other adopted children and His only Son. As Paul tells us,

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” (Ephesians 3:14-15)

 Although God has such a large family there is no danger of us being overlooked or of our prayers being lost or ignored. Each person is loved fully and completely, no one is unobserved and not one of them is insignificant.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

 Response:
Cherish the name Father as you think of God. Say it aloud and pause to wonder at the awesome privilege conferred upon you – to be able to call Almighty God “Father.”

Prayer:

Our Father’, it says so much about You and so much about me as well. Please help me to always cherish and rejoice in our relationship, and may it deepen and grow every day. Amen.

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The Only One

“Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
(John 4:26)

Reflection:
When the woman decided that Jesus must be a prophet she immediately began to discuss the different mountains on which the Samaritans and the Jews worshipped. Jesus response was to say that the debate about mountains would become irrelevant as people learned to worship God ‘in spirit and truth’.

What Jesus was really doing was teaching that the debate about places and procedures was a superficial matter. There was neither lasting truth there nor one that could satisfy the deep pain of failure, rejection and humiliation that was a part of her everyday life – and of so many other peoples. Taking His example from the well He told her that what she needed was something deeper, more satisfying and wonderfully healing than anything she could think of or do. She needed a long, cool drink of pure, life-giving, thirst-quenching, spirit restoring water of life – the water of the Holy Spirit. This water, which He could give her, would become a fountain within her,

“a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus is trying to get us to see that essentially we do not need more religious practices, we need God; we do not need wider and deeper teachings and debates, and more amazing miracles, we need God; and we do not need to find out which are the most special and anointed places, we need God. This was why He had come.  It was also the basis of the great promise that He would give to His followers – to be with them, and us, always.  This would happen through the Holy Spirit who would come to live within us.

In His first miracle Jesus had changed the water of everyday into Wine. In His meeting with Nicodemus He had introduced Him to the Wind of the Spirit. Now He offers us the Living Water of the Spirit. These vivid teachings are meant to reveal to us the reality of the transforming presence of God available to us.

Here in the Spirit would be the Wine of fellowship and celebration, the Wind of the life-giving breath of God and the Living Water to cleanse, heal and refresh us with God’s redeeming love and presence – both now and forever.

Everything else points us to God – He is what we need more than anything else. Which is why and how Paul could say with such feeling,

“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ
and him crucified”

(1 Corinthians 2:2)

Response:
Keep on praying for (more of) the Holy Spirit in your life.

Prayer:

Almighty God and Glorious Father, give me by Your grace the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know You better. Amen.

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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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