The Soaring Eagle

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


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What aroma do you leave?

“But thanks be to God,
who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance
of the knowledge of him.”
(2 Corinthians 2:14)

 

Reflection:
Many years ago, as a young teenager, I was out with the rest of the boys in my form on a class picnic. In those days the only odour that meant anything to me was the delicious smell of a Sunday roast drifting out from the kitchen.  However coming down the side of the mountain I encountered a fragrance that stopped me in my tracks. Try as I might I could not find it again but its exquisite beauty was something that I have never forgotten.

Years later when I was reflecting on my journey of faith the Lord brought that incident to mind. He revealed to me that the fragrance was of Him as He passed by me – His intention being that He could later show me that even then He knew me and was calling me to Him.

Whenever I read the verse above I am reminded of that incredibly special moment. It seems to me that as Christians following in the triumphal footsteps of our great Lord we should bring to those around us a sense of that same beauty. There should be something so special attached to us in our being and our journey of life that it causes them to pause and try to identify what it is.

As disciples of our Lord, children of the heavenly Father and temples of the Holy Spirit there is every opportunity for the beauty of the Lord to colour our lives and to shine through them. It is not that we are special – but that the One who is with us and within us is.

Allow yourself to feed on the beauty of the love and grace of our Lord. Be conscious of Him as you live through your days – and seek to do everything as an offering to Him. Wherever possible leave behind you that gracious sense of peace and blessing which comes from our God who is with you.

Response:
Cover your life and your day with prayer – pray a blessing on each person and situation that you encounter, and on everything that you do.

Prayer:

Father how greatly You have blessed me – help me to be a blessing to others as well. Amen.

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Take Heart

“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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You did for Me

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth,
whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me”
(Matthew 25:40)

 

Reflection:
Marcus Borg wrote that

“The principal suffering of the poor
is shame and disgrace”

For so many of them everything about their lives speaks of failure and inadequacy. And whilst handouts may alleviate an immediate need it may make them feel even worse about themselves if done dismissively – to get rid of them! It doesn’t do us any good either!

“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 13:3)

On the other hand help, whether short-term or long-term, offered in the right spirit can carry with it the message that they are valuable. Then both the body and the spirit are blessed.

Jesus reminded us that even those who occupy the very lowest rungs on the social ladder are precious in His sight – so precious that He identified Himself with them completely.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me”
(Matthew 25:35-36)

Not all of the poor are beggars. There are many who are desperately trying to make ends meet, and have little or no room in their lives for anything except worry and fear. If we become aware of them then we could make a difference in their lives – directly or anonymously.

Jesus showed us that He was not just a ‘man for others.’ As Greg Boyle makes clear He was primarily a ‘man with others.’ He did not merely act as their champion, He became one of them – He became the outcast, the homeless, the prisoner and the crucified one. In fact in real terms He became one with me – for without Him I too was an outcast from God, homeless from heaven, a prisoner to sin and with no hope in my life.

Response:
“Love one another as I have loved you”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, lead me into the love that sees, that cares and that acts –as You have done for me. Amen.

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Complete Trust

“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)

 

Reflection:
To ‘lean on our own understanding’ is to limit everything to the level of our perception.  When life is painful we tend to fear that it will always be that way – or even worse.  A good example of this is the account of the Israelites in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. No matter how much God did for them they never trusted Him for the next challenge.

So here we are urged to lift our eyes, to change our focus and enlarge our vision.  The one who loves us and has called us to Himself is the Lord God Almighty. He is the all-powerful one; He is the one who is called ‘Love’; He is the one who at huge personal cost has invited us to become His daughters and His sons; He is the one who in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit has promised to be with us always. He is also the one who in any and every situation and circumstance knows the best way forward –

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)

In every road on which we find ourselves, in every challenge we face, in every situation that threatens us, in every task we undertake, in every relationship in which we are involved  – in fact ‘in all our ways’ – we need the Lord. Our first step is to acknowledge Him with His love and His power, and then to ask Him for His guidance, help and strength. The answer is then certain – He will become involved and He will take us forward and He will bless us.

The sooner we start involving the Lord in our everyday lives, decisions and responses the more natural it will become if and when things get really challenging.

Response:
Whatever you do, feel or think today – ask the Lord to guide and help you.

Prayer:

Lord God my life is in Your hands and any merits that I might appear to have are in fact Your mercies. Please be with me and guide and help me through the light and the darkness, the days and the nights of my life – and help me to stay very close to You at all times. Amen.

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Holy Ground

“The place where you are standing
is holy ground”
(Exodus 3:5)

Reflection:
When God called Moses to Him at the burning bush He told him to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. The earth would not have looked any different to Moses, but he obeyed without question knowing himself to be in the presence of God. And there he stood in all his fallenness – which included pride, murder and desertion – and waited on God.

Wherever God chooses to meet with us becomes holy ground – because of His presence that reaches out and embraces us. It is here that He has chosen to engage with us, who we are and as we are, at a specific moment in time that is of His choosing.  Peter in his boat, Matthew in the tax collector’s booth, Zacchaeus up a tree, the adulterous woman in the temple courts, the sinful woman at Jesus feet, the moment in time when we heard and responded to His call – all holy moments in places holy at the time.

And when, at His prompting, we turn to God in sin, shame, need and despair – and He meets us as He will – it becomes a holy moment on holy ground. We often fail to recognise it because we are caught up with ourselves and our need. But He is with us, and we with Him, in a special way.

In fact whenever and wherever we engage with God, and He with us, we enter into a holy place that needs to be acknowledged and respected.  Our equivalent of taking off our shoes would be to separate ourselves for those moments from the things and activities of the world – giving Him our full, humble and undivided attention.

As an exercise – take off your shoes and say the Lord’s Prayer slowly. Feel the ground beneath your feet – recognise God is standing before you. Be still for a few moments.

Response:
Whenever you pray – deliberately recognise the holy presence of God .

Prayer:

Lord God I stand in Your presence on holy ground. I am quiet before You, knowing that You are looking upon me and smiling. It is good. Thank You so much.

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Life unending

“I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26)

 

Reflection:
Jesus said these startling words to Martha soon before He raised her brother Lazarus from the dead.

He does not say that He will be the resurrection and the life, or that He will bring them about, but that He is the Resurrection and the Life. It is one of the great “I AM” statements of Jesus in which His divinity is clearly claimed. This means that for those who have entered into a relationship with Jesus as Lord and Saviour the new life to which the resurrection leads is already an imperishable reality.

In saying that whoever believes in Him will never die He is not talking conceptually but of a spiritual reality. Whilst our physical body will die and disintegrate our true and spiritual selves will neither die now sleep – but are already a part of the new life in Jesus Christ and enlivened by the Holy Spirit of God.

Paul affirms this understanding, both in his longing to depart and ‘be with the Lord’ and in his letters – for example

  • “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
  • “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. As we become a part of His life they become a reality in our own lives.

Response:

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus in You I am alive with an eternal life. Please help me to believe it, receive it and live in it in peace and trust. Amen.

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God of Today

“Do you believe this?”
(John 11:26)

Reflection:
Lazarus had died and Jesus was talking to Martha. Through His probing it became clear that Martha had a belief in the God of the future. What she needed was to recognise the God of today. And Jesus drew her gently towards that. After getting her to acknowledge that she believed her brother would rise again in the resurrection at the last day, He said to her,

“I am the resurrection and the life”
(John 11:25)

In an earlier meeting, when Martha was annoyed that her sister Mary was sitting listening to Jesus instead of helping Martha with the preparations, she had effectively indicated that God should give way to the need of the day. Now the situation was about to be reversed. And the needs of the day would give way to God. Jesus went out and raised Lazarus from the dead.

To have a belief only in the God of tomorrow is to miss out on the wonder and reality of a personal and intimate relationship with the God of today. He is prepared to reveal Himself to us, and to enter into our everyday lives and living, today. Indeed He is trying to do so.

“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)

And so Paul would write,

“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour,
now is the day of salvation”
(2 Corinthians 6:2)

Response:
God is the God of Today – involve Him in your todays

Prayer:

Lord help me to know and trust in You as the God of today – and to trust You in all my todays. Amen.

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