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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Dawn from on high

“By the tender mercy of our God
    the dawn from on high will break upon us”
(Luke 1:78 NRSV)

Reflection:
There is nothing quite like the birth of a new day. Where I live it is a lovely process for the sun does not suddenly leap into the sky but announces its arrival through a gentle lifting of the light. The quality of the darkness changes. Black becomes grey before the first touches of colour bless the drifting clouds. And the birds! Unseen they herald this new dawn. Small bulbuls lift their heads to pour from tiny throats the most glorious and liquid songs of praise to our God. Weavers chatter amongst themselves and the crested barbet worships in long and breathless arias of love.  These are holy moments indeed. And they call us to rise from our slumbers. Not with minds restless and cluttered with the uncompleted and unfulfilled remnants of yesterday – but open and eager for the light and love and life-inspired opportunities that await us, with all their potential and possibility. This is not an old day recycled but a new day to be lived and blessed.

Our Lord Jesus so often comes into our lives as He came into the world. He came slowly and in small beginnings, not striding through the heavens in glorious and terrifying majesty. He came to love and win our love through gentleness, tenderness and compassion – with heart and arms open to the ragged and tattered and soiled souls that were drawn to Him.  And so He begins to reach into our spirits like the first beginnings of the dawn, touching lonely and desolate darkness with the first touches of light and the first hints of new life.

By the grace of God a new day keeps dawning. By His grace the dawn of His love keeps appearing outside of the windows of our spirits. By the grace of God there are sights and sounds and scents that make us pause with a wistful hope. It is the Lord – looking and longing and loving as He seeks to awaken us and attract us to step out with Him into this new dawn of life.

We are not called to be yesterday’s sadness but todays blessing and tomorrows hope. In our own strength this might seem so impossible. However, as we takes deep breaths of the Holy Spirit who is God’s great gift to us, we are reminded that nothing is impossible for this God of ours – not even us! He comes to us like the rising sun,

“to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
(Luke 1:79)

Response:
Wherever and however I am He calls me to look forward and to build life with Him

Prayer:

Lord help me to be aware of You in the deep dark areas of my life – and to open myself to Your love, light and life in quiet trust. Amen.

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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 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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Come Home

“I will set out and go back to my father
and say to him:
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you”
(Luke 15:18)

Reflection:
Again and again I return to this amazing illustration of the love of God – painted for us by Jesus Himself. This time God surprised me by drawing my attention to the faith of the lost son.

He had done everything possible to alienate himself from his father. He had demanded his inheritance early, thereby indicating that his father was living too long. He had walked away from his father, his family and his home. He had ‘squandered his wealth on wild living’ and ‘with prostitutes’ and had ended up a ragged beggar in the gutter, with nothing to call his own and with no means of supporting himself. Everything had been lost including his social status and self-respect.

 However, there was one precious item that remained – one that only surfaced right at the end. That was his knowledge of his father’s character. And, Jesus tells us, it was ‘when he came to his senses’ that he found it and knew that there was in fact one place to which he could go. He could go home to his father. He believed that his father would not turn him away.

This is the blinding truth that the Lord Jesus holds out to us. Whatever we  have done, wherever we have been, and wherever we find ourselves to be – when the truth hits us that we have got it all so wrong –  there  remains for us always one safe place to which we can turn – we can go home to God our Father. We can return – not to the servant’s quarters – but into the arms that have never been closed to us.

Finally we look away from ourselves and we look at God – and we see – and we find all that we have longed for ….

Response:
Do I need to go home from anywhere?

Prayer:

Help me come Lord Jesus, dare I stay away!

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Who Am I?

“Our Father in Heaven”
(Matthew 6:9)

Reflection:
There are some quite amazing titles conferred upon people by God – descriptive of a special relationship with Him.

  • Abraham was honoured by God who called him His friend.
    • ” you descendants of Abraham my friend” (Isaiah 41:8)
  • Moses was also privileged to be known as the friend of God
    • “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11)
  • Joshua was referred to as the servant of the Lord.
    • “ After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten” (Joshua 24:29)
  • David was known as a man after God’s own heart.
    • “After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: `I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22)
  • John the Baptist was known as the forerunner of Christ – and as both the greatest and the least.
    • “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him” (Luke 1:76)
    • “ I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11)
  • Jesus was known as the Son of God
    • “And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased”  (Luke 3:22)

When it comes to us we find to our astonishment that some of them are applied to us as well. For once as His disciples we were the servants of Jesus, then we became His friends, and finally and fully we became His brothers and sisters and co-heirs as the sons and daughters of God.

  • “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15)
  • “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15-16)
  • “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17)

However the world may treat us or think of us, as Christians this is who we are and always will be in the sight, mind and reality of our Father – the Lord God Almighty. It is the way we need to think of ourselves.

Response:
Recognise, accept and acknowledge your God-given identity

Prayer:

Father you have called me to You and are pleased to call me Your daughter/son. Help me Lord in all humility to acknowledge, receive and accept this honour and blessing and live within it. Amen.

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God not you

“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 with 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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