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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So Thirsty

“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus,
tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well.
It was about the sixth hour.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water,
Jesus said to her,
“Will you give me a drink?”

(John 4:5-8)

Reflection:
In his poem on the sinking of the Titanic, Thomas Hardy wrote,

“And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.”

Then they both slipped from their moorings and set out for their unplanned meeting in the cold dark waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. The date is fixed in history – 15 April 1912. Death was waiting for them.

Some 20 centuries earlier two very different babies entered the world and set off on their own journeys of life. These journeys too would have, at least for the one, an unplanned and unexpected meeting, this time in the lonely area surrounding a well in Samaria. As different as the ship and the iceberg, the Jewish Rabbi and the immoral Samaritan woman would never have been scheduled to meet. But, also like the ship and the iceberg, they did. Here too was death, for the old woman died – but a new one was born. For this time Life had been waiting and Life had the victory.

It is glorious to realise that as she wandered in forlorn isolation from the town in which she lived, coming to a lonely well because, very likely, the town’s women did not want her at the town well, Jesus was waiting for her. It is stunning to think that everything in her life, all her failures and rejections, had led her to this place where the Christ was looking for her. He was there not to hand out judgement but to give her instead the gift of new life – His life for hers. Love, Life and Grace awaited her and He started by asking her for a drink!

For each one of us reading this there will have been at least one time in our lives when our paths crossed with the Saviour. We may have recognised and turned to Him or failed to recognise Him. We might have recognised Him and walked away or have drifted away from Him later. Wherever we happen to be He still waits for us in our everyday routines – including the places where we try and satisfy a thirst that won’t go away. An aching longing that is not only physical but spiritual and emotional as well.

He is there waiting for us, waiting for the time when we will hear Him and respond. Waiting and longing for the opportunity to save us from the coils of death that we have produced, and to give us the Life that He has gained for us. Waiting even for those who are right next to Him to turn and draw even closer.

“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)

Response:

And I come, O Jesus;
Dare I turn away?

No! Thy love hath conquered,
And I come today.

Bringing all my burdens,
Sorrow, sin, and care,
At Thy feet I lay them
And I leave them there.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus please help me to draw closer to You and to allow You to love me into the fullness of life. Amen.

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Sheltered

“In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by”
(Psalm 57:1 ESV)

Reflection:
Jesus warned us that there would be faith-challenging times in our lives. But His promise to be with us always built upon the promise of God to His holy people.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

This is a magnificent promise but it too reveals the reality of testing periods in our lives. When such times are upon us they can appear as violent storms that threaten to play havoc with our emotions, our minds and our spirits. Whether large scale national events, local community events or very personal and individual experiences they may result in turmoil within us.

Elijah knew something of this when, having fled from the threat on his life to the mountain of the Lord, he experienced what seemed to be earth-shattering events as he hid in the cave.

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)

It was then, after all this had taken place, that there came a gentle whisper to which he could relate.

Sometimes the only response we can have in the storms of life is to turn into the Lord and to wait there until the tempest has played itself out. Whatever the particular challenge we hold onto Him in prayer whilst striving to remain faithful to our daily duties and responsibilities. At some stage the storm-clouds will break and the rays of the sun will appear. The time may be right for us to hear the gentle whisper of God speaking into us – and speaking words of love, encouragement and guidance.

Response:
Hold on to the Lord – he will see you through life’s storms

Prayer:

Lord save us in the time of trial and deliver us from evil. Amen.

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Because I choose to

“The obedience that comes from faith.”
(Romans 1:5)

Reflection:
Paul is quite clear in this great letter that justification before God is by faith alone. However, he is also quite clear that faith is an active and not a passive state. If we have faith in Jesus as Saviour we must also have faith in Jesus as Lord – the two titles cannot be separated.

The sin of disobedience brought about our fallen state and separated us from God. It cannot be expected for a moment that we should continue in that state, but now with a cloak marked ‘justified’ over us. The Scriptures reveal that a radical change is expected to take place:

  • “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2)
  • “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:22-24)
  • “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”(1 Pet 1:15-16)

Having been justified by grace through faith our proper response now is to put our complete faith and trust in God by turning away from the ways of the fallen world. We choose instead to live according to the ways of God – not as if they were imposed laws, but because our belief is that His ways, and His ways alone, are the ways of life – not only in the life to come but in this life as well. We are called to a new life and a new way of living. Jesus is Saviour and Jesus is Lord. “Follow Me” is a call both to direction as well as to method. They go together.

Now having found it impossible to live out the old Godly way of life there is no reason to expect that in our own strength we can live out the new. So God has taken that in hand for us.  He has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit  to both guide us and strengthen us. Therefore in His New Covenant commitment He  promises that,

  • “I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10)
  • “I will be their God” (Hebrews 8:10)
  • “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12)
  • “I will give you a  new heart and put a new spirit in you”” (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:27)

 It’s all about God and what He does. Our work is to believe, receive and let Him live it out through us. And although God does gives us both the desire and the strength to do His will it still remains our choice.

  • “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13)
  • “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

Response:
We are saved by faith – now we live by faith and not by our own efforts and strength,

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, please help me to perceive the truth and to live by it. Help me to look at Your teachings, recognise them and accept  them into my everyday life – to Your honour and glory. 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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High Places

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.”
(Habakkuk 3:19)

Reflection:
Try as we might there are some things that we cannot do – things that are beyond our power and ability. We are mortally human. We are still greatly influenced by the things of the world as well as the actions, reactions and imperfections of others and ourselves. And the peace and joy that come from the world are very fragile and can be shattered within a moment.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength. He is Almighty and none can stand in His way when He chooses to act and to bless. The closer I am to Him the closer He is to me and the more His presence sustains and uplifts me – no matter what the world may be throwing at me at that particular moment. My vulnerability becomes the opportunity for His love and strength to bless me. My aloneness is the gap which opens the way for His presence to become more real and wonderful.

I cannot dance in the spirit unless His Spirit inspires my spirit and gives life and lightness to my feet. Only He can take me to the heights, only in Him am I enabled to mount up on wings like eagles – to soar, even for a moment, up into a new atmosphere, to new heights from which I can gain another perspective, and in which I am strengthened to go back into the valleys again with a new hope, faith and purpose.

God is my everything. In Him I live and move and have my being. He is my life, my light and my love. He is both the healing and the blessing of my yesterdays; He is the strength and the joy of my todays; and He is the hope and the fulfilment of my tomorrows.

And if I allow Him to embrace and feed me in the light I will know that He is still there in the passing darkness.

Response:
Choose to be in God’s presence today and to rest in Him.

Prayer:

Father, help me to draw closer to You so that You can draw closer to me. I put my hope and trust in You. Amen.

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God’s Home

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
(1 Corinthians 3:16)

 

Reflection:
God looks upon temples as His places, set aside for His use and for His glory. When anything not of Him is introduced into them it is seen as a desecration.

Those who worship God in churches normally like to see them as not only clean but suitably furnished and decorated as well. Spotless linen, polished silverware, fresh flowers and well prepared services are in place not just for the congregations but as indications that the church is set aside for the worship and glory of God. By the same token there are activities that would not be considered suitable. Wild parties, organised fights, gambling, abuse of individuals and immorality would be totally out of place.

As Christians our bodies are also temples of the Holy Spirit.

“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” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

We have to be careful on two fronts. The first is that we do not engage in activities that would not be acceptable to God and His people. The second is that we do not allow such things to continue to take place within us. Anger, bitterness, rejection of others, unforgiveness, selfish ambition, envy, greed, impurity and others all contaminate and diminish us and prevent us from being the person we could be with God’s help. They also, on a corporate level, prevent the church from being what it should be.

We know many of the thoughts, emotions and activities that have no place within our lives. These areas of our lives we can continually bring before the Lord, admitting our weakness and asking Him to cleanse, heal and strengthen us. As we do so we may ask Him to help us to transfer our thoughts to other and more suitable things.

“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. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”(Philippians 4:6-8)

This is an ongoing journey in which the Holy Spirit works to transform us and to make us more completely who we were created to be as God’s lovely daughters and sons.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Response:
May every part of me be open and available to God to reflect His beauty and love

Prayer:

Father help me to offer myself to You to be cleansed and healed of all impurity and lovelessness. Please keep pouring Your love, light and life into me, in Jesus name, Amen.

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