The Soaring Eagle

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


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Jesus Then and Then

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God”
(Luke 1:35)

Reflection:
To summarise Jesus humanity and His Divinity.

  • Jesus was a human led by the Holy Spirit.
    • He was born by a human mother through the action of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35)
    • His human ancestry reached back to David, Abraham and Adam (Matthew 1:1-17)
    • He grew up, learned and submitted to His human parents (Luke 2:51-52)
    • He knew human hunger and thirst, suffering and pain.
    • He experienced temptation (Luke 4:1-13)
    • He died and was buried like humans
  • Jesus was God in human flesh
    • The Virgin birth was not His beginning but the way in which God became flesh          (John 1:14)
    • He existed before creation (John 1:1)
    • Through Him all things were made (John 1:3)
    • He is the full expression of the Father (John 14:9)
    • He and the Father are one (John 10:31)
    • He is in nature God and equal to God (Philippians 2:6)
    • His deity is revealed in His moral perfection and holiness, and His power and authority
    • Jesus is Immanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23)

By Almighty God’s great act of love His divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, His mother. He became human so that in Him human beings might be adopted as children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of God. It is through Him, and Him alone, that we receive the forgiveness of sins and life eternal with God.

“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:
God did this for me

Prayer:

Lord help me to spend time contemplating all of this and the depth of its significance for You, for me, and for us all. Amen.

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(Picture: Nicolas Poussin, The Annunciation, 1657, National Gallery, London)

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God’s Love

“Bring the fattened calf and kill it.
 Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found”
(Luke 15:23-24)

Reflection:
We have looked at the fact of God delighting in His children and His joy over the lost sheep who is found again. The full extent of that joy of perhaps best expressed in the story of the Prodigal Son.

Having insulted his father by demanding the early payment of his inheritance the younger son had left home, squandered his inheritance in wild living and was now dragging himself back again to seek forgiveness and help. There was nothing about him that could possibly have merited anything other than a frosty and bitter reception.

However, Jesus paints the picture of the father – who represents God – searching the distant horizons and longing for a glimpse of his boy. When eventually he sees him he does not wait in a forbidding and silent stillness. Instead he throws his dignity to the four winds, runs and embraces his son and, without waiting to hear the apology, demands from his servants the best robe, sandals and the ring of status and authority. Then he calls for a special party to celebrate the safe return of his son. The past is forgiven and forgotten – all that matters now is that they are together again.

For all His might, majesty and power this is the longing in the heart of God for you and for me. He wants us back again – back with Him where the past may be forgotten, the present celebrated and the future provided for.  His heart, His home and His holiness are open to us. This is where we belong and where we will thrive and become complete. This is what the Cross achieved for us.

Response:
Imagine dragging yourself unhappily and guiltily back to God and being met by a thunderbolt of love that engulfs you in its arms and wets your cheek with tears of joy.

Prayer:

O Father, open my heart to the wonder and reality of Your love foe me and help me to believe, receive and rejoice in it. Amen.

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He Loves Me

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
(Luke 15:3-7)

Reflection:
The depth and extent of God’s love stands in striking contrast to the legalistic attitudes of the world.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were very critical of Jesus association with those whom they deemed to be sinners. Their regulations laid down that they were to have no dealings with such people. In fact, according to William Barclay, the strict Jews had the view that ‘there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who is obliterated before God.’

Jesus view was diametrically opposed to this – and in fact He would teach that

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

This is borne out in the parable where Jesus shows that He will track down the lost – seeking to find them and to bring them safely back to their home and relationship with God. And, in each case, He tells us there will be great ‘rejoicing in heaven.’ This gives us another indication of just how special we are to God! This same Jesus is with us always through the Holy Spirit and, if we do go astray, will come after us to find and recover us.

No matter how close we are to the Lord there may yet be areas of our lives that are still ‘lost’ to Him. Rooms within us where He is knocking on the door, asking to be allowed in so that He may bring light, forgiveness, healing and restoration. His love for us is such that He cannot bear to stand by and watch us hobble along spiritually. And what joy it brings to Him when He is permitted to enter and know the blessing that it brings to us and, through us, to others.

Response:
Ask God to show you where He is knocking – and deliberately invite Him in to be Saviour and Lord in that area as well.

Prayer:

Lord God thank You so much that You tracked me down and saved me. Please help me to allow You more fully into my life so that I may be more completely a part of Yours. Amen.

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Come Aside

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”
(Luke 5:16)

Reflection:
It is possible to pray at all times and at any time. However, as with people too, deep and meaningful communication with God is very difficult when we are distracted by other things and other people.

Jesus often withdrew from such distractions into lonely places where He could give God His undivided attention in worship, petition and in listening for and to God’s response. This is vividly portrayed in His prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane where He again withdrew into the night by Himself to agonise before God. The blessing that He received strengthened Him to face the trials that lay ahead.

Whilst God may well answer our ‘prayers on the run’ there is nothing as meaningful as time spent quietly with Him. It is there that we learn to value and enjoy Him for who and what He is  – not merely for what He can do for us. When David exhorts us to ‘worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ he is urging us to turn aside into the Lord’s presence. There we can become aware of His unique and awesome difference to everything about our world.  And as His holiness washes over us it draws us into itself, cleansing and renewing us. In that moment of holiness we celebrate and enjoy our oneness with Him, often in silent awe and wonder.

Response:
Establish your own ‘lonely place’ – within easy reach – and visit it often. You will find Him waiting for you there.

Prayer:

Lord God sometimes all I want is to sit and look at You and know You, and for You to look at me and know me. Help me to not miss out because of my busyness and agitation. Amen.

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(Photo: (c) Catherine Bondonno)


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God is Almighty

“For nothing is impossible with God”
(Luke 1:37)

 

Reflection:
God created everything from nothing. And whilst God is everywhere within His creation He is not bound by it. He is also around and beyond it. In fact His creation only continues to exist because He wills it and sustains it. He could extinguish it at any moment without damage to Himself – for He is God and He is Supreme.

He is the God who brought the plagues upon Egypt by His word. He brought the Israelites out of Egypt, saved them by parting the waters of the sea and closing them again over their enemies. He  looked after them for the forty years in the desert – providing them with food and drink – and brought them safely to and into the Promised Land where He established them.

In and through Jesus Christ He continued to show His absolute power and authority by healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, cleansing the lepers, empowering the lame to walk, casting out demons, walking on water, calming the storms, feeding the crowds and raising Jesus from the dead into eternal life.

Again and again, from “Let there be light” to “Get up and walk” He has shown us that He has only to say the word for His will to be done.

  • “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)
  • “The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8)

Truly, as the angel said to Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Response:
Think on these things – is this your God?

Prayer:

“I do believe! Help my unbelief.”  (Mark 9:24)

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Step Out

“Put out into deep water,
and let down the nets for a catch.”
(Luke 5:4)

Reflection:
Jesus had been teaching the people from Simon’s boat. When He had finished He told Simon to move it into deeper water for a catch of fish. The reason was quite simple – you don’t net large schools of big fish in shallow water.

So many people exist in the shallows of life. However Jesus lived a different type of life and called His disciples to follow Him into it.

  • He promised to grow them in new ways – “I will make you..” (Matthew 4:19);
  • He gave them the life-changing empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2);
  • and He provided them with special gifts (1 Corinthians 12).

Clearly they were not going to spend their time ankle-deep in life – in fact they would all ‘walk on water’ many times. He also has a grand purpose and great plans for each of us,

  • “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The key is the call of Jesus. He always meets us where we are and then calls us to follow Him into a new way of living, and a better one.  We are not all expected to be great public figures, but we are all intended to be involved in blessing someone’s world and in bringing change and healing into some situations. The more we follow Him the more we will notice Him at work – and the deeper we allow Him to take us the greater the acts of God that we will see. Jesus is establishing His Kingdom.

There is no greater satisfaction, when you look back over your life, than knowing that you have been allowed to invest it in something significant – and in ways that has been a blessing to others. To catch a glimpse of how the Lord has been at work in, through, around (and in spite of !) us is humbling and wonderful. What a privilege, what a blessing and what an experience. Praise God indeed!

Response:
Where is Jesus calling you to go deeper with Him? Ask Him.

Prayer:

Thank You Lord Jesus for calling me into Your life and purpose. Please help me to follow You out from ‘the valley of the shadow of life,’ and into Life itself. Amen.

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Living Word

“When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them”
(Luke 7:37-38)

Reflection:
There a two ways in which we can respond to the words of God. We can treat them as information or as a pointer to the Living Word – our Lord and Saviour.

Jesus challenged the religious leaders for failing to recognise the true significance of the Scriptures.

  • “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40)

On the other hand He recognised and applauded the woman who had not only been convicted by His words but had recognised that they pointed her to Him as the only source of her salvation.

  • “Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48)
  • “Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50)

As important as the Scriptures are our salvation and new life do not lie in them but in the Lord Jesus Himself.

  • “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)
  • “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13)

The Scriptures are vital because they tell us of God and point us towards Him. But Forgiveness and Salvation, Life and Truth are found only in the Lord Himself. His words are powerful because He is powerful – and not by themselves. That is why prayer is so important – it connects us with Him!

Response:
Jesus called people to “Come to Me.” Be one who lives in His presence.

Prayer:

Lord God I thank You for Your word in Scripture. Please help me to learn from it but always to seek You the God of the Word. Amen.

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