The Soaring Eagle

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


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Came the Light

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
(Isaiah 9:2)

 

Reflection:
The advent of the Messiah was seen as the equivalent of a great light entering into a deathly darkness. The quality of the light is stressed by the use of the word great. It is not the flickering of a candle seen across the midnight fields but more the sudden rising of the sun after a moonless night.

This same idea is picked up by John in the first verses of his gospel.

  • “That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5 HCSB)
  • “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9)

The darkness of the world to which both the prophet and the apostle refer is the spiritual darkness that blankets and smothers life and hope, which destroys relationships and peace, turns love into a sadness and encourages all that is vile and destructive. In this darkness the only person we often can see is ourselves and this can become the focus of the individual, the community and the nation. For many life is a living death and death a fearsome obliteration.

The coming of the Messiah as ‘the Light of the world’ couples together both light and life.

  • “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4)

The light which transforms our lives is the new light that is in Jesus Christ. It draws us to Him and although it may not immediately change our present situation it can transform us within our situation, which in itself will bring change.

This light and life is associated with another word – love. They come from the God almighty who is described to us by John as love. The three belong together – love, light and life. It is this trinity that God wishes to impart into our lives and situations.

Whoever and wherever we are today this is the gift that God wishes us to receive from Him.  As we celebrate the birth of the One who is both Saviour and Lord, Life and Light, and the fullest expression of Love,  we celebrate the greatest Gift known to humankind.

Question:
Do I see darkness and/or light in my life?

Response:
Whatever I have of the Lord I need more.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus may Your Light within me grow ever stronger as I walk in trust and obedience with You – and may I become more of Your light in the world around me. Amen.

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You are Mine

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”
(Isaiah 43:1)

 

Reflection:
One night, in the early hours of the morning, I was up looking out at the quiet, moonlit silence. The Lord prompted me to pick up and open my Bible. I did so and found myself reading these words – the first to appear at the top of the page.

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”

I stood and pondered their profound and wonderful significance. For indeed He had called me by name and here was the deeply personal reminder of that calling – together with the marvellous and intensely touching affirmation – “You are Mine!”

In a world of great insecurity where to be accepted and acceptable today is no guarantee of tomorrow, where the hurts, failures and rejections of yesterday cloud our vision of today and wrap the future in a shifting mist – where the loves and lovers of this day might be gone by the next – in the midst of all this painful uncertainty – I belong. I am owned and valued. There is a Someone who says of me with love, certainty and everlasting significance, “You are mine.”

 In fact the truth is that He looked for me, tracked me down, called and reached out to me, and took me into His life and His heart. It was no passing whim, no sudden impulse to be forgotten and ignored – but a deliberate and conscious decision and act that had eternity in mind.

What is true for me is true also for each and every one of the sons and daughters of this great and wonderful God. Whatever our earthly state the eternal truth remains and will never end either here or throughout the blissful endless ages to come.

“I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”

Response:
Take a moment to receive, accept and own this tremendous truth

Prayer:

Father God I am Yours – and I rejoice with humble awe and wonder. You have called me and are transforming me day by day into the person You always intended me to be –and You will never ever let me go. Thank You so much. Amen.

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Sin Forgiven

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to Me for I have redeemed you”
(Isaiah 44:22)

Reflection:
The wonder of the love and the grace and the glory of God is revealed in many small Scripture verses like this one – and can be so easily missed in our reading.

Here He tells us that His forgiveness – and therefore the complete and absolute forgiveness of our sins – is so certain a reality that He can present it to His people prior to their repentance. Indeed He is presenting it as an inducement for us to repent.

The truth is that God has been seeking after us long before we have sought after Him or even thought of doing so. And whereas our sins hang over us and separate us from Him, His love and power are such that they are no more challenging to Him than a cloud or a morning mist. And like the rising sun He is able to quickly and quietly sweep them away.  We can imagine Him doing so with a wave of His hand or the breath of His mouth.

God had already provided for –and in reality therefore accomplished – the work of redemption before creation. He can now call all His people – including each one of us – to appropriate that redemption for our own lives, and to keep on doing so as the need arises. We do so initially in our turning to the Lord and accepting His offer of salvation as we commit ourselves to Him. We continue to do so as sin arises and troubles us.

  • “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
  • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)

Note John’s use of the word ‘will.’ Confession is our agreeing with God that we have sinned and, at the same time, agreeing that our forgiveness and salvation lie only in Jesus Christ and what He has already accomplished on our behalf. True confession is therefore a statement of faith.

The truth is that God loves us – and wants us – and wants therefore to forgive us. The cost to Him was terrible but the reality of its effectiveness is unlimited and unending. So when we fall and fail God’s invitation to us rings out . And where sin has distracted us from Him He calls us back, and keeps calling us, until we never leave again.

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to Me for I have redeemed you”

Response:
Humanly speaking it makes no sense. Spiritually it can be the best news in the world

Prayer:

Thank You my Father – thank You so very much – that indeed nothing can now separate me from You. Help me to believe and to keep on believing. Amen

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Your God

“I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”
(Isaiah 41:9-10)

Reflection:
What God was saying to the nation that He had called to Himself, He says to each and every one who is a part of His new creation in Jesus Christ.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”  ( Ephesians 1:4-5)

No matter what happens – or does not happen – in our lives we both can and need to hang onto this great and glorious truth –

  • I have chosen you
  • I have not rejected you
  • I am your God
  • I will strengthen and help you
  • I will uphold you with My righteous right hand

As Christians we have a relationship with Him that is unbreakable – and we have a commitment from Him that is indestructible,

“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Whatever challenges we face at the moment we do not face alone. God is with us and will see us through to the end that is good in His sight and purpose.

Response:
Acknowledge to the Lord any challenge that concerns you – and pray Him into it with His promises

Prayer:

Lord God  You have chosen me and promised to be with me always. You will not reject me and leave me vulnerable and alone but will be the God of my life and my life’s challenges; You will strengthen and help me and uphold me with Your splendid and invincible right hand. Thank You so much Lord – please help me to walk forward in this truth. Amen.

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We Need Truth

“I the LORD
speak the truth,
I declare what is right”
(Isaiah 45:19)

 

Reflection:
“What is truth?” was Pilate’s question to Jesus shortly before he sentenced Him to death. He knew that he was being manipulated by the crowds and religious leaders but allowed it to happen. And today some are saying that we have moved into a ‘Post-Truth’ society.

However we need the truth – for without it there is nothing certain, nothing dependable, only a misty uncertainty. God speaking through the prophet seeks to assure us that what He says is the truth and what is right. If it were not then, in truth, He could not be the Lord God Almighty but a charlatan.

Satan on the other hand is referred to as ‘the father of lies’ and his whole aim is to deceive us and to take us in the wrong direction – away from God and His will for us. So he will tell us lies about God, others, our situations and ourselves. We can see his influence in the world as others follow his example.

When God in the Ten Commandments instructed us not to give false evidence He was underlining the fact that relationships and society need and have to be founded upon the truth. If they are not they will disintegrate.

As the people of God our calling is to believe and trust Him – and then to live as those whose integrity cannot be called into question. It does matter to God and to those around us – even if they are marching to a different tune.

Response:
I believe and trust in God

Prayer:

Lord God, our Father Almighty, help me to receive and to live Your truth in the world – for the sake of Your Name and the blessing of Your people. Amen.

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I am with you

“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you”
(Isaiah 26:3)

Reflection:
In the state of the world in which we live peace is not a natural or normal condition. There is far too much on the personal, national and international stages clamouring for our attention and demanding to be addressed or worried about.

God does not guarantee that there will be peace around us – in fact the Lord tells us that the opposite will often be the case. However God does offer us peace within us – as a gift from Him.

  • “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27)
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)

The account of Peter walking on the water and then sinking illustrates the point beautifully. As long as his focus and attention was on the Lord he walked over the sea. It was when he took his eyes off Jesus and focussed on the threat of the wind-whipped waves that he began to sink. Jesus did not calm the storm before calling Peter to walk to Him – He came and called Him in the storm, and only calmed everything once they were back in the boat.

So it is with the storms in our own lives. The Lord comes to us and calls to us from within the storm. As we come to Him by focussing our attention on Him (steadfast minds) He walks with us through the storm to wherever He chooses to take us. The peace that He gives us is of His presence and control. As with Peter He will not walk away from us and, even when we think we are sinking, will be there to reach out and support us.

There will be storms – but there will always be the Lord with us in the midst of them.

Response:
If you have a storm in your life ask the Lord to help you to focus on Him and trust Him

Prayer:

Lord Jesus You will never desert me. Please help me to look to You and to trust You at all times – no matter what might be raging around me and even within me at the time. Amen.

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Faithful One

“This is the way;
walk in it”

(Isaiah 30:21)

Reflection:
Yesterday we saw Jesus at the beginning of His earthly ministry. Today we see Him at the end.

The temptations remain the same.

In Him was a great desire – a thirst – for God.  For Himself and for all of humankind He cried out to the Father, “I thirst!.”  He did not seek any other way of satisfying this huge ache within Him – He called out to God, the only One who could meet His need.

Again, as the religious leaders and others taunted Him to prove that He was other than a naked and bloodied outcast on a cross, He resisted the temptation to do so. He merely lifted them all to God in the prayer, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Finally, He hung on to the end. In Gethsemane and now on the cross He could have opted out. He did not have to suffer and die. He and God could have walked away from humankind at any point – leaving them to drift off into endless darkness by themselves. But He didn’t.  He hung on and suffered out the only solution for our salvation that would be full of the righteousness of God. And, at the end, He could cry out with honest satisfaction and fulfilment, “It is finished!”

Jesus was faithful to the end. And He shows us the way in which we should approach our own journey of life.

  • Peace and fulfilment are only to be found in our relationship with God
  • Human recognition, wealth and fame are irrelevant in comparison to our eternal titles as the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty
  • Faithful integrity will produce good results in the end

Response:
Jesus Christ alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life

Prayer:

Lord I put my hand in Yours, Help me to live trustingly, simply and faithfully with You every day. Amen.

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