The Soaring Eagle

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


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God of Love 5

 

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever”
(1 Chronicles 16:34)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love – and a blessing in our lives at all times not only when are feeling good about life and about ourselves.

When we have sinned we can turn to Him for forgiveness. When we have failed we can turn to Him for encouragement. When we have been rejected we can turn to Him for love. When we are sick we can turn to Him for strength and healing. When we are bereaved we can turn to Him for consolation. When we are afraid we can turn to Him for peace. When we are lonely we can turn to Him for companionship. When we are confused we can turn to Him for clarity. When we are puzzled we can turn to Him for direction.  In all our situations He is with us and is the answer that we need.

  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)
  • “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6)

God does not only love us when we do not sin. On the contrary,

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”
(Romans 5:8)

God’s love for us – for you and for me – endures forever.
And if you look up ‘forever’ in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary it means forever.

Response:
Right now as I read this God is with me and His love reaches out to enfold me.

Prayer:

Father God, please help me to believe in Your goodness and love at all times – and especially when I am feeling down about myself. Amen.

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God of Love 4

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God;
he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love
to a thousand generations of those who love him
and keep his commands”
(Deuteronomy 7:9)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love.

He had promised

  • Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3)
  • and at Sinai “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)

These promises were being fulfilled as God led His people out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. They were still being fulfilled in the ministry, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. They are being fulfilled today and will find their complete and final fulfilment when the Lord comes again in all His glory.

God’s commitment and His actions come from His great love for us. It is a love that formulated His plans, set them in motion and will keep them operating until the end. We are a part of this process today. As believers we live within the context of His great commitment.

“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)

Response:
Today is not forever – it is part of a journey to the Lord.

Prayer:

Father I place my hand in Your hand. Lead me on until I am safely home with You. Amen.

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God of Love 3

“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife
and clothed them”
(Genesis 3:21)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love.

One of the most remarkable acts of love by God is contained here right at the beginning of the Biblical account of His relationship with humans.

Adam and Eve had rejected His authority, love and wisdom in a way that made it impossible for them to remain in His presence. The death that God had warned them about was now a reality.  They had to leave and find their own way in the comparatively inhospitable outside world.

A similar scenario would be enacted much later at Sinai. Effectively God would say to the Hebrews, “Commit yourselves to Me and My Ways and I will take you to a land flowing with milk and honey. Reject Me and the lonely desert awaits you.”

But now, as the physically and spiritually naked couple were about to leave Eden, God did a wonderful thing. He made clothes for them – and He clothed them Himself. There is a concern and intimacy here which is wonderful. The Father had not stopped loving them or caring for them.

Again the scene is played out in the then distant future. It was in all probability a lamb that died and surrendered its skin so that they could be clothed.  In time to come the Lamb of God would surrender His clothes and die naked – so that we could be clothed with His life and righteousness and return to the presence of God.

“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” 
(Romans 13:14)

Such Love.

Response:
God has clothes for us to wear – have I fully accepted them?

Prayer:

Father please help me to shed the clothes of this world and to enter into the covering of the Lord Jesus in every area of my life. Amen.

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God of Love 2

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
(Genesis 3:8-9)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love.

We see this vividly portrayed in the account of the Fall. Having realised that they had sinned Adam and Eve hid from God amongst the trees. However God – obviously aware of their sin – did not go away but looked for them, calling out at the same time, “Where are you?”  And the story of salvation began.

We see this attitude of God’s described again by Jesus in the parable of the Lost Sheep – where the Shepherd goes looking for the one that is lost and does not return until He has found it. In fact Jesus described His ministry in these terms,

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” 
(Luke 19:10)

Our Lord still searches for those who are lost – knocking at the doors of their lives and asking to be allowed in. And, when He has entered, He knocks on the inner doors that are closed to Him. His desire is to enter into every area of our lives with His Light, Love and Life – to bring healing and wholeness and to set us free from any bondage and crippling fear.

Response:
God’s is calling your name – to get your attention in a new way so that He can  enter into your life at a deeper level. If you can identify a closed or barren area in your life ask Him to enter into it.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I long to be more fully found by You, and to rest in Your presence and love. Help me to open all of my doors to You so that I may begin to receive the fullness of Your love. Amen.

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Lent

“They would have repented .. in sackcloth and ashes.”
(Matthew 11:21)

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In the West Lent starts on Ash Wednesday
which this year falls tomorrow – 14 February 2018.

Good Friday is on 30 March and Easter Sunday on 1 April.

The ‘40 days’ of Lent are associated with the 40 days of Jesus fasting in the desert.
The 6 Sundays are excluded in the calculation as they are said to represent either the day of rest or the day of Jesus victory over death. 

In many churches there will be special services on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of the Journey to Easter. The theme is Penitence. Ashes will be blessed and used as a symbol of repentance. Many people will go forward to be marked with the sign of the cross, in ashes, on their forehead. These ashes are normally prepared from the Palm Crosses used on Palm Sunday the previous year. As they receive the cross of ashes they are exhorted to

“Turn away from sin and believe the good news.”

Lent is very significant. In its steady and purposeful build-up to Good Friday and Easter it ensures that they do not arrive and pass almost without notice. Here is the opportunity to reflect on ourselves and the world around us – to see the worldliness and sin that contaminates, separates and brutalizes and which prevents us from living to the potential of the daughters and sons of God. Repentance is importance for us and our world for it recognises that we need help – we need saving from ourselves, from each other and from the consequences of our actions. For unless we recognise sin we don’t recognise the need for a Saviour or understand what it is that He is about.

In many ways what is known as the Lent fast has been trivialised The true significance of Lent is not what we give up, even for God, but the awesome sacrifice that Christ made for us, and the self –denial and suffering that was involved. Any sacrifice of ours should be a reminder of, and association with, that greater sacrifice, and not a source of personal satisfaction. Scripturally our sacrifice is between God and ourselves and should be kept private.

For as much as we recognise the darkness of sin Lent can also become a wonderful opportunity. For we must reflect also on the holiness and love of God, the enormous blessing of knowing Him – and the great need for Him in our lives and the life of the world in which we live today.

This Year

  think of giving God an extra 10 minutes every day
to pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and deliberately
for someone.

On the first day adapt it and pray for yourself. On the next day/s pray it for individual members of your family. Then pray individually for the people with whom you work and associate every day. After that choose someone in the news who is suffering in some way .. and so on. Devote each day to a different individual. And if you travel on public transport pray the prayer for someone near you. 

Prayer:        

Father – please help me to accept this opportunity to journey with You every day, and in so doing to draw closer to You. Please shine Your light into my life and into the lives of those for whom I pray. Amen.

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Revelation

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.”
(Psalm 19:1-2)

Reflection:
I walked outside one night and looked up. It was a cloudless night and, even in our suburb, enough of the sky was visible to make me pause in awe and wonder. The stars shone out from the dark depths of space like diamonds on the deep blue cloak of God. I stood in stillness and let His glory touch me for those precious moments. How great is our God indeed,

 “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

(Psalm 33:6)

It is a mighty and marvellous act of creation – by an almighty, beautiful and loving God. They sing His praises in sounds and words that we cannot hear and reduce us at last to the silence of true worship and adoration. I found myself longing for less of me in my life and more of God – more than I knew I could handle but not more than I could desire. I have a longing sometime to just disappear into His love and glory – like a wave on the beach slips back into the vast and all-embracing ocean.

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.”

(Psalm 42:1-2)

How much more precious were those moments and the thoughts and feelings that they prompted, than everything that the world has to offer in terms of pleasure, wisdom and achievement. How much more to hold onto in the times of pain, sin and sorrow.

God speaks to us in so many ways, not least in and through our everyday exposure to His creation. It is a message worth perceiving, believing and receiving. It is worth our deepest response.

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.”

Response:
Look, Listen, Worship

Prayer:

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

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Blessing God

 

“Bless the LORD, O my soul:
and all that is within me,
[bless] his holy name”
(Psalm 103:1)

Reflection:
Worship is a response to God that needs to be practiced to be set free within us. To begin with it may seem awkward and artificial. However as we become used to it, and allow it to rise spontaneously within us, it becomes perfectly natural and as it should be.

David was great at expressing himself to God and some of his psalms are eloquent in their praise and worship. We can use them ourselves as a starting point – relying on his words or changing them to make them more personal, or even homing in on a particular phrase and allowing it to touch our own hearts as we offer it to God. (e.g. Psalms 19 and 103)

I have always been deeply moved by the words “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 96:9) As I have said them over and over I have allowed my mind to imagine the awesome holiness of God and the flood of beauty and light that flows from Him in brilliant streams of sparkling life. At other times I have allowed Him to draw me into that holiness – and as I have begun to experience the ‘beauty of holiness’ within me to lift my spiritual voice in unending torrents of praise and worship until at the last I am bowed before Him in a living silence.

Paul tells us that,

“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” (Romans 1:20)

Creation is therefore both a revelation of the glory, majesty and beauty of the Almighty Father and a platform from which we can turn to Him in praise and worship.

Most people are exposed to this creation in some form or another every day. The quiet beauty of a sunrise; the glorious colours of a sunset where the artist’s brush has swept across the sky and reached out to touch the clouds with splashes of brilliance; the majestic stateliness of trees with their softly rippling leaves – or bending humbly before the mighty waves of wind; the gentle grasses and the cheeky daisies; the velvet roses and the dancing fuchsias; the blue skies hung with tumbling masses of immaculate clouds; the rumbling thunder rolling across the heavens and the flashes of lightening shocking the darkness; the star-studded night; a single flower or fern in a small jar; shadows on the wall; the song of a bird; the haunting cry of a fish eagle, the darting flash of a dragonfly; valleys and hills and towering peaks; delicious fruit; spouting whales and surfing dolphins; and so much more.

If we will pause to look and to see we may sense the Lord’s delight as we say involuntarily “O God, that’s wonderful.” And “Thank you for showing it to me and making me able to see it and appreciate it.” “You made it Lord and it is ‘very good!’” And simply, “You are so wonderful Lord!”

When it comes from our heart it touches His heart and for those moments our hearts are joined in love. And then at a deeper level our faith in this God of Love begins to grow. However your life is at this moment let God direct your attention to something near you that He has made. Contemplate it fully – let Him speak to you through it – and then respond to Him.

Response:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands”
(Psalm 19:1)

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