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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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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Let Me In

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
(Revelation 3:20)

Reflection:
From the beginning of His life on earth Jesus was excluded. He was excluded from an acceptable room and born in a stable, He was excluded by the leaders of His people and faith, and He was excluded from a normal death and burial. He was cast out to die as one cursed and then buried in another’s tomb. Significantly He was given someone else’s room at His death which no one gave Him at His birth. John puts it simply and movingly,

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”(John 1:10-11)

He is still looking for a place where He is welcomed and wanted. Apart from the glorious and meaningful invitations recorded in the Gospels, we have this major call to us after His ascension. He is affirming to us that He is still with us, knocking at the doors of our individual and corporate lives, and asking to be allowed to enter.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in”

Wherever you are today when you read this, whatever state you might be in, and where you are battling with a particular issue, He is knocking at your door – or at a new inner door – asking you to open that door and let Him in so that He can deepen His relationship with you and make a difference in your life.

Come – open the door!

  • For he says, “In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV)
  • “God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped”  ( 2 Corinthians 6:2 MSG)

Response:
Today is the day to respond – don’t wait any longer.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I open this door right now. Stepping back to make space I invite You in. Please come in. And now, as I close the door again help me to know that you are inside with me, never to leave. Please help me to open up to You and to walk with You into our future together. Amen.

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New Life

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6)

 

Reflection:
Jesus is the life. As John put it at the beginning of His Gospel “In Him was life.”  This says three things to us:

Firstly, there is no life without Jesus. If Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer, was to turn away for us all life would cease – human, animal and plant. We are only alive because He gives life to us. If He had not done so we would be like statues – lifeless.

Secondly, Jesus gives us new life. It is through Him and His great sacrifice that we are reborn as the eternal sons and daughters of the living God. This life that He gives us is eternal.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Thirdly, every quality of life – the completeness and enjoyment of life – is found in Jesus. Without Him everything else will leave us with a sense of it being incomplete and passing. It is only with Him that we begin to taste the beauty, loveliness and completeness of true life. This life enters into us first at the level of the spirit and through the Holy Spirit Himself.

As through the Holy Spirit within us He ministers to our bruised and battered souls we can experience the joy and hope of the budding and blossoming new life which comes from Him and includes Him. The source of this life is in Him and we become a part of it as we are united to Him – rather like a branch grafted in to the eternal Vine.

Response:
Draw continually closer to the Lord Jesus. Let Him be your first and foremost desire.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus be my Way, Truth and Life. As You live within me help me to blossom and bloom, cleansed by Your Living Water, and drawing from You the fullness of life without end. Amen.

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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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