The Soaring Eagle

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


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Core Value 5

“God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God,
and God in him”
(1 John 4:16)

Reflection:
Core Values in our lives – God, The Word, Prayer, Holy Living and, now, Love.

Love has to be the flame that burns within us, the source that feeds out spirits, minds, deeds and emotions. For God is Love – and if we are in His image then it should be love that characterises us as well. And so Scripture tells us that love is essential to us.

  • “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
  • “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5)
  • “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
  • “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39)
  • “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44)
  • “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)
  • “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14)
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love..” (Galatians 5:22)

This love is not a product of our own efforts but comes from God and through God. It is a consequence of the love that He has for us and which He has revealed to us.

  • “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

We may decide to love because we know that it is right – but it only becomes real and true, and not a legalism, when the love of God flows into us and through us. The greater our awareness of God’s love for us the more we are prepared and enabled to love those people and things that He loves. As we receive the fullness of His blessing for ourselves so it overflows from us – because love cannot be contained. So Paul’s prayer becomes ours as well;

  • “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Five Core Values for which to pray and keep on praying – through the sunshine and the darkness – and which to allow the Holy Spirit to live out within us and through us as we trust and follow  His guidance.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father as the moon reflects the light and the glory of the sun, so may I shine with Your love and truth in the darkness of the world around me – and may You be honoured and glorified in it all. Amen.

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Core Value 4

“For God did not call us to be impure,
but to live a holy life”
(1 Thessalonians 4:7)

Reflections:
God, God’s Word and Prayer – the three Core Values that we have touched on so far. To them must be added one that clearly follows – Holy Lives. This is emphasised in Scripture a number of times,

  • “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44)
  • “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1)
  • “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15)

Holiness means that we are set apart for God, and not for ourselves or the world – we are God’s people, called to live His way, His truth and His life.

  • “And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6)
  • “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8)
  • “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; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

In terms of the Old Covenant holiness was a requirement for salvation and to remain as God’s chosen people – which the people demonstrated that they were completely unable to live out.

  • “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6)

In terms of the New Covenant holiness is seen as a consequence of our salvation and our new standing as the adopted daughters and sons of God. It reflects what God has already done for us and in us and is evidence of the Holy Spirit living within us – for it is He who produces this fruit. We allow Him to do so by surrendering ourselves to Him, recognising what it is that He is wanting to do in our lives and co-operating with Him. We already know what this is because we have seen something of it in the character of God, the example of the Lord Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Holiness then is living as the daughters and sons of God in the power of the Holy Spirit whilst still in the midst of a fallen world. There will be many a struggle before we relinquish some of our ingrained habits and desires – but the Holy Spirit will never give in because He will give effect to God’s desire and purpose for us. The sooner the better, for we will then experience more of the fullness of the life that He has for us and experience more of the reality of His great love.

  • “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Prayer:

‘Most High and Holy God, enthroned in fire and light, burn away the dross of our lives and kindle in us the fire of Your love, that our lives may reveal the light and life and love we find in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.

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Core Value 2

“Jesus answered, “It is written:
`Man does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes
from the mouth of God”
(Matthew 4:4)

Reflection:
Our primary value must be God. However, hard on its heels must be what God says to us – so our next Core Value would be the Word of God. In fact Jesus tells us that true life is only sustained by our recognising, receiving and responding to all of God’s revelation to us.

God has spoken to humankind in two major ways.

There is His creation

  • “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20)

There is the Bible – a record of God’s revelation of Himself, His will and His purpose for humankind. It contains also His directives and information concerning our lives and relationship with Him as His daughters and sons through Jesus Christ.

  • “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105)
  • “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:1-3)

If our first core value is to worship God at all times in thought, word and deed, then our next is to soak ourselves in the knowledge and understanding of His Word – allowing it to form and inform us and to guide our everyday lives. This is where the Holy Spirit is of such importance for it is He who gives us the wonderful insights and deep understandings that we need.  A revelation of the majesty, glory and love of our great and glorious God Almighty.

Prayer:

Lord God help me to get my priorities right – to worship You and to feed on Your Word. May Your Holy Spirit bless, guide and feed me and continuously pour Your love into my heart. Amen.

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Core Value 1

Jesus answered, “It is written:
`Worship the Lord your God
and serve Him only”
(Luke 4:8)

Reflection:
 We need core values by which we live our lives – values that are different from those of the world. Jesus established some of His during the temptations after His baptism. Others appeared during His ministry.

Our primary value must be God – revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This keeps being emphasised throughout Scripture,

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”  (Matthew 22:37)
  • “You shall have no other gods before Me”  (Exodus 20:3)
  • “No one can serve two masters … You cannot serve both God and Money”  (Matthew 6:24)

To worship God is not to merely say the words but to live it out in our lives.

  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29)
  • “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2)
  • “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men .. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24)

God is to be first and foremost in our lives.  God is to be present in, and the focus of, all that we think and say and do. God is to be the One whom we trust for all that we need at all times and in all situations. God is to be the object of our deepest love, highest honour and most reverent adoration.

It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact it cannot happen at all without the guidance, strength and blessing of the Holy Spirit Himself. However, as under His inspiration we set the sights of our lives upon the Lord, He will take us on a journey towards the fulfilment of God’s desires for us. On it God will begin to wean us away from the things of the world and the flesh and to purify us in such a way that His love may be poured into us without impediment.

Prayer:

‘Most High and Holy God, enthroned in fire and light, burn away the dross of our lives and kindle in us the fire of Your love, that our lives may reveal the light and life and love we find in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.

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I Leak

“Be filled with the Spirit”
(Ephesians 5:18)

 

Reflection:
We have a large swimming pool. It looks marvellously attractive and appealing when clear and sparkling. However that does not just happen. It needs a deal of maintenance –part of which involves clearing out the debris of old leaves and other things that end up there, as well as regular topping up. It surprises me just how much water is lost to daily evaporation.

Like this pool of water we also need regular clearing out and filling up again – to keep us fresh, clean and alive rather than stale and sluggish.  On the one hand we require a fresh release of the Holy Spirit – because as D.L Moody says “we leak.” On the other we cannot avoid becoming clogged now and then by the dirt of the world in which we live. We will need forgiveness when (not if) we sin, and healing of the pains and hurts that we have encountered on the journey.

Paul is writing in the continuous present tense which means that this ‘being filled with the Spirit’ is not a once off event but an ongoing process. Rather like the branch of a vine keeps drawing its sustenance and life from the vine all the time, so we cannot stop drawing on God. Another picture would be a river flowing into a pool of water – it cannot stop if the pool is to remain clear and alive.

Response:

As I need to keep breathing the air of life so I need to keep receiving the Spirit of Life

Prayer:

Father thank You for the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit please keep filling my life – cleansing me and setting me free from the sins and stains of the past and bringing me into the fullness of the life that You have for me in Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour. Amen.

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Reality we can know

“I always thank God for you
because of his grace
 given you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Corinthians 1:4)

 

Reflection:
Our relationship with God is all about reality. It is based on His reality and the fact that He has intervened in our reality.

This is the reality of our everyday lives, as well as the reality of our past and our future. Whilst the world offers us concepts, philosophies and ultimate loneliness and death, God offers us truth, personal relationship with Him, and eternal life and healing. Where the world tells us what we must do, God shows us what He has done. Where the world will sell to us, God gives to us freely. Where the world gives no visible proof, God gives us His Son. Where the world offers no guarantees God sends His Spirit to live within us. Whereas the world ultimately discards us, God promises us resurrection and life.

The wonder of our relationship with God is that everything that He has done for us, and that He offers us, is done out of His great, unlimited and unconditional love.

This love of God is not revealed only in words, it is revealed in the gift and sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. There could be no greater gift or example of that love. And, because it is only through the grace of God flowing from this love that we have a future and a hope, Jesus Christ stands also as the revelation of this grace. We become personal recipients of it as we believe and trust in Him. We receive not only God’s love but the salvation and ever-present relationship with Him that flows from it.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”  (Ephesians 2:8)

From beginning to end the reality of God, and the relationship that we can have with Him, is revealed and assured in the reality of Jesus Christ who entered into the reality of human life to bring to it a new and eternal reality with God. It is this reality that we enter into through faith, be it initially as small as a mustard seed – which itself is a gift from God

Response:
Consider the reality of the cross. God speaks through it to each one personally.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to look not to myself but to You, and to continually receive the wonder of God’s grace and love. Amen.

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Choose Life

“Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth,
no one can enter the kingdom of God
unless he is born of water and the Spirit”
(John 3:5)

Reflection:
God warned Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed Him and ate of the forbidden fruit they would die. Satan tempted them by casting doubt upon God’s integrity and told them “you will not surely die.”  Eve considered the matter and ate of the fruit, giving some also to Adam who was with her. Physically they did not immediately die – but spiritually they did. Their spiritual union with God was broken and the consequences vividly demonstrated in their expulsion from the Garden of His presence. Jesus was to illustrate this truth in another way when He taught about His being the Vine and believers the branches. If a branch became separated from the Vine, and so from its life force, it would die.

This action of Adam and Eve’s was not just one of naughtiness but a deliberate rebellion. They listened to the voice of the opposition and then acted on what they had heard – even although they clearly knew what God had told them. In effect they changed sides – and went into the camp of God’s enemy. A consequence of this act of rebellion was that every person born to them and their descendants was born like them – in the wrong camp and with a body and soul but no Godly spirit.

  • “For as in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22)
  • “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1)

It is for this reason that Jesus taught Nicodemus that a new spiritual birth was essential for anyone to be able to enter the kingdom of God. It is also the reason for all four Gospels emphasising the point that an indispensable part of Jesus ministry was to ‘baptize with the Holy Spirit’ (John 1:33).

Jesus made it clear that we cannot serve two masters, we have to choose. And so to become a follower of Jesus, and a child of God, we must be prepared to change camps and then to live accordingly.

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

We only realise our spiritual poverty through the ministry of the Holy Spirit – which becomes a real blessing! (hence the first Beatitude). As we do so the Lord leads us away from the world’s camp (and from the ‘prince of this world’) – having overcome the power of death and the enemy – and into His own presence and Life. In doing so He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit of God who revitalises our spirits and re-establishes us in a living relationship with God Himself.

Response:
Have I got both feet in the right camp?

Prayer:

Lord God, once again I decide for You. Help me please to draw closer and closer to You and give me the discernment and strength to avoid the temptations of Your enemy. Amen.

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