The Soaring Eagle

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


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“What kind of man is this?
Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
(Matthew 8:27)

 

Reflection:
The disciples had been on an amazing journey with the Lord. They had listened to the awe-inspiring Sermon on the Mount, watched Him cleanse the lepers, heard Him heal the Centurion’s servant from a distance, looked on as he healed Peter’s mother in law, drove out demons and healed the sick.

Now when their boat was in danger of sinking in the storm on the lake He ‘got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.’  If all that had gone before was not surprising enough this display of power and authority stunned them. Amazed they asked,

“What kind of man is this?”

What kind of man is He to us – this ‘Son of God’, ‘Son of Man’, ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’, ‘our great God and Saviour’?

In the strange world in which we live He has become to some a pale and distant figure, a casual acquaintance, a legalistic judge and a lifeless word. And yet He is a vibrant reality. He is the revelation of the Father, the One through whom all things were made, the bearer of our sins, the risen and ascended Saviour and the King eternal. He is the One –

“God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
(Philippians 2:9-11)

He is the Father’s response and solution to every single situation and condition of humankind – both corporate and individual. It is no wonder that He said Himself,

“Apart from me you can do nothing”
(John 15:5)

Whatever challenge we might be facing or burden we might be carrying or sin we might be battling the Way forward, the Truth that sets us free and the Life that lies ahead is to be found in and through the Lord Jesus and our relationship with Him.

Response:
Honour Him, worship Him, pray to Him, trust Him and obey Him.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I turn to You in my need and the needs of those dear to me. You alone are everything that I seek and desire. Please help me Lord through Your great love and mighty power and authority. Amen.

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What Cost?

“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked,
“Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
(Matthew 19:16)

 

Reflection:
In contrast to the woman at the well and the thief on the cross who had lost everything of value – this man had very much. We are told that he had ‘great wealth.’ He was a leader and respected member of the community.

The others had lost any social position they might once have had – they were ‘naked and empty’ before the Lord. This man was in a different position. He saw his need of gaining eternal life. However he looked more at what He could do to earn it rather than what he could get rid of to receive it. When challenged by Jesus he went away sad.

To some an encounter with the Lord brings great blessing – to others sadness and even anger. At the heart of it is the confrontation that it brings to our view of our self-worth, our possessions and our social position. Afraid of losing what we value we fail to value this greatest of all gifts. For this Jesus was crucified.

We cannot earn or buy our salvation – we can only receive it with open and uncluttered hearts.

Response:
Do not be fixated about what you will one day lose. Entrust yourself to the One who will never lose you.

Prayer:

Lord help me to see where my priorities lie – and to give You my love and trust. Amen.

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The Lord!

“But what about you?” he asked.
“Who do you say I am?”
(Matthew 16:15)

 

Reflection:
Jesus had asked His disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They responded that some said He was John the Baptist come back to life, others that He was Elijah and still others that He was Jeremiah or one of the prophets. No one was clear as to His real identity – except the spirits that He cast out of people.

Now Jesus asked them the key question, challenging them to make up their own minds about Him. They may well have been silent for a while as they waited for someone else to make the first commitment. Unsurprisingly it was Peter who spoke first, with an answer that Jesus told Him was not of man but a revelation of God.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
(Matthew 16:16)

Human categories and interpretations are inadequate and incomplete when they attempt to describe Jesus Christ. The human mind cannot by itself reach to the heights required. For each of us the discovery of Jesus Christ has to be a personal discovery revealed to us by God. It can never be the acquired second-hand for then it will never live within us. To know about Jesus is insufficient, we are called to, and given the opportunity of, knowing Him for ourselves. Then instead of passing on what others think we can give a personal verdict as Peter did.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And, as the fullness of His identity blossomed within them,

“they worshipped him”
(Luke 24:52)

Response:
Wherever we are our vision is incomplete, and too much of it is in our own image – ask the Lord to bring you deeper and closer.

Prayer:

Lord, open my eyes and understanding increasingly to the wonderful reality of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

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My wish for you

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 7:12)

Reflection:
What has been called the Golden Rule of Scripture completes and summarizes the Old Testament teaching. It places the emphasis on relationships and not rules. The religious leaders taught this in the negative form of not doing to others what you would not want done to yourself. However Jesus turns it round into a positive statement aiming for positive relationships and not negative fear.

This teaching can be placed right next to His commandments about love. Loving God, loving our neighbour, loving one another and loving our enemies are all things that we would like to see in others, and especially as they relate to us. Jesus is therefore telling us to start by being just that sort of person and to get on with the business of loving – just as He did. We do not need meetings and debates about what it means, for we know how we wish to be treated.

Society as we know it, both around us and around the world, seems to be singularly lacking in such qualities. Very often the opposite appears to be true. If we wish to see significant change then we all need to look at our own attitudes and actions. If we are guilty of destructive thoughts, negative words, rejecting actions, carelessness, thoughtlessness and a lack of understanding, compassion and  reaching out concerning others then we will know where to begin. 

What would you like someone to do for you today? Try doing it for someone else.

We can all make a difference.

Response:
The first step is always prayer. Pray for God to show you the truth, pray for healing and pray for love. Remember love is also a decision.

Prayer:

Father please show me where I am being unloving and unhelpful. Please fill me with more of Your love and help me to love others in positive and helpful ways. Amen

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Find the treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.
When a man found it, he hid it again,
and then in his joy went and sold all he had
and bought that field”
(Matthew 13:44)

Reflection:
Hidden somewhere in the darkness of a fallen world is a glorious treasure. He knows that it is there and He knows that He wants it – but to all intents and purposes it is dead and buried to Him. Separated from the Vine of Life it has withered and died – but still He wants it for He knows that He can cleanse it, heal it, and give it new life as He restores it to its place in Him.

So He came to seek and to find, to save and to redeem, to restore and to cherish, to transform with a new Spirit into a new Life and Love. And He found it – and having found it He gave everything that He had so that He might own and possess it. He gave His life, He gave His future and He gave His divine inheritance.

We are that treasure – individually and collectively. We are His beloved, created to be like Him and for Him. We are the children of the Father, the bride of the Son and the temples of the Holy Spirit. We are the focus of His love, the recipients of His grace and the reflection of His beauty. And if we have not yet seen it in ourselves it is because we have yet to truly see it in Him for we can only love because He first loved us. He can only be our treasure when we have discovered that we are His. We can only seek first the kingdom of God when we appreciate that He has first sought and found us.

Having discovered this for himself Paul would first exclaim and then pray,

  • “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ .. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:8-10)
  • “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 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 3:14-19)

You are not what the world makes you – in Christ you are a child of the Most High God.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine”

(Isaiah 43:1)

Response:
Buried within you is a great truth. Dwell on God’s love and word – until it resonates within you.

Prayer:

Father I so want to know more of Your love and light and life – help me please to receive what You have for me and to treasure it even as You treasure me. Amen.

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Pearls not Paste

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value,
he went away and sold everything he had and bought it”

(Matthew 13:45-46)

 

Reflection:
Jesus portrays Himself as another searcher. Here He wants us to see three things.

One is that we are, individually and together, the pearl of great value. To have this pearl He is prepared to give everything that He has, even – as we know – His own life. We need to reflect on our value in His eyes, as He sees us not just as we are now but as we can and will be when transformed by His love and care. Indeed He might well ask, ‘When will you begin to believe how much I love you – and how precious you are to Me?”

Another insight is gained when we consider the parable from the point of view of ourselves as the searcher. What am I looking for in my life – in what am I investing my time, effort and wealth? It is not necessarily answered by what we would say but in the way we live and what it reveals about our ‘treasures.’  The contents of our homes, the things we wear, the cars we drive, the work we do and the hours we spend on work and other activities tell a real story of the person involved and of our priorities. To what end are we devoting our life?

The third insight is gained when we look at the people around us. Each one of them is pursuing something – whether they have consciously identified it or not. What would it take for them to be able to identify and if necessary realign their focus whilst they can? There is the devastating story of the man who said that he had spent all his life striving to get to the top of the ladder – only to eventually find that it was leaning against the wrong wall!  Do they see anything different in me?

Jesus great teaching on life was that we should not have the things of this world as our priority for, after all, they will have no value when we leave it. Instead, He says,

  • “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”  (Matthew 6:19-21)
  • “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”  (Matthew 6:33)

Response:
Live for eternity – and let your life be a witness to others

Prayer:

Forgive me Lord where I focus on myself and this life and become careless of others and the next life. Help me please to have my heart where the true treasure lies – and not to miss out through being world-wise. Amen.

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Shine

“In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds
and praise your Father in heaven”
(Matthew 5:16)

Reflection:
There has to be action. Christianity is not a personal secret but a new life and way of living.

Jesus is indicating that clearly in this passage – and showing that it becomes a part of our witness and testimony to God. James highlights it when he writes,

  • “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (James 2:14)
  • “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17)
  • “But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18)

Unless the change in us becomes visible to others it becomes the equivalent of hiding a lamp under the bed so that no one in the dark may see it and be blessed by its light. We know that doesn’t make sense. So the way that we live, work and speak must reflect our faith and new relationship with the Lord – and so should the way in which we relate to others. In this way God is glorified.

No matter who we are and where we are as Christians we have within us the God-given ability to make a difference in someone’s life. And as the parable of the Good Samaritan shows us we do not have to go searching for the needy for they will be obvious to us if we keep our eyes open through the day. God will point them out to us. (And needy does not only mean the poverty-stricken)

He has shown me that my shyness is a form of self-focus – whereas if I am focussed on Him I draw courage from Him. He does expect me, and all of us, to continue His ministry of reaching out to others in love. And is there a greater blessing than knowing that God has used you to touch somebody else’s life in a significant way?

Response:
You have a circle of influence – be a prayerful and steady influence within it.

Prayer:

Lord God as You have reached out to bless me, so help me to reach out to bless others with that same love – in all that I think and say and do. And Lord please keep prompting me. Amen.

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