The Soaring Eagle

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


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Spirit of Gifts

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Reflection:
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a reality. This was the being ‘clothed with power,’ for which Jesus had told His disciples to wait, before embarking on the Great Commission. This empowerment was not just of the spirit, mind and body – they were empowered with specific gifts which they were to use in the course of their ministry, and to make them effective in the building of the Kingdom.

Paul’s teaching, now, is very specific.

  • The appearance of the Holy Spirit is to be real for each Christian.
  • The Spirit gives a variety of gifts – some of which are mentioned here.
  • The Spirit gives one or more of these gifts to each Christian.

No believer is excluded. The Holy Spirit, with a specific gift, comes to each one. And each includes you, just as it includes me. Whatever else we may have to offer God, the ministry in which He wishes us to be involved will be based upon the gift that the Holy Spirit gives to us. This is God knowing what has to be done, choosing His team, and equipping them with what they will need. And the gift that the Spirit gives to us is the one that He will empower and bless. It may, or may not, be an extension of a talent that we have.

If we are going to be effective in our place in the ‘Body of Christ’ – where all should be working in harmony with each other and towards the same end – then we need to identify and become experienced in the use of our particular gift/s. We will, in all probability, find it in the area for which we have, or are developing, a God-given ability or passion as opposed to a self-centred desire. It is important to ask God to help us to identify it, and also to seek the prayer and discernment of mature Christians whom we trust. Its focus will be to bring glory to God and achieve His purposes.

It is our very great privilege and honour to have been chosen, and called, into the salvation of Jesus Christ and into the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as the daughters and sons of the Eternal and Almighty God.

Response:
Determine to increasingly  live out your new life and ministry to God’s glory, under the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to know my spiritual gifts and to use them in love for Your glory and the blessing of others. Amen.

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New Life

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’
says the LORD Almighty”
(Zechariah 4:6)

 

Reflection:
The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of Life.

Nothing of significance happens without Him. Essentially He receives the expressed will of God and gives it life – makes if happen – a living reality – fulfilling the desire and purpose of God.

We see Him first at work in Creation and when God breathed Him into man to give him life (Genesis 2:8). He was present at the Annunciation to give effect to the word of God to Mary (Luke 1:32). He was there at Jesus Baptism and led Him forward into His ministry (Luke 3:21-22; 4:1; 4:14). He came to the disciples at Pentecost and the beginning of the Church’s life and ministry (Acts 21-4). And He is the agent of new birth and new life for each Christian (John 3:5).

This life is vividly portrayed by Jesus in the illustration of the Vine and the branches. The branches attached to the Vine (Jesus) draw their life and sustenance from and through Him. Like the sap the Spirit flows into us from and through our association with the Lord. Those who are not attached to – or a part of the ‘Body’ of the Lord – cannot and do not receive this life force and so ‘wither and die” for there is no ‘life’ in them. Paul would therefor teach us that

“if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9)

It is through the Holy Spirit that this union or new birth takes place (John 3:5-6). And it is the Spirit who keeps us in and builds us up in this relationship so that in character we become more and more like the Lord. It is His power that enables us to face, forgive, live in and minister to the world around us. And it is through Him that the cleansing, healing, purifying and life-giving love of God is poured into our lives (Romans 5:5)

Without Him both body and spirit are withering away. With Him our spirits have begun a new life and journey that will expand and develop in the love and blessing of God throughout eternity – they will never die.

“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)

It is important to note that He will give life to what is of God. That means it is important for us to join our lives to the Lord Jesus by asking Him to be our Lord and Saviour – and then seeking to live our lives according to His standards, directions and example. To do this we need to be soaking ourselves in the Scriptures as the word of God as well as developing and maintain contact with Him in prayer. It is a life-long journey and experience.

Response:
“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)

Prayer:

Father thank You for the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. Please (continue to) pour Him into my life and help me to be open and responsive to Him at all times. Amen.

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Vengeance is God’s

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult,
but with blessing,
 because to this you were called
so that you may inherit a blessing.”
(1 Peter 3:9)

Reflection:
There is something in us that wants to rise up and strike back when we are hurt or offended. It can churn within us and stimulate our imaginations and actions. Long after the incident has happened it can still rankle, stirring up visions of retaliation and imaginary conversations in which we are the victors. 

Then Jesus appears with a different model and teaching. He tells us to forgive, not to judge, to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to give. He even sets the standard at the level of God’s forgiveness and indicates that if we set a different level it can act as a barrier to our receiving from God. He takes His own teaching to the cross where He prays repeatedly for those who are crucifying Him, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lk 23:34)

Peter is picking up on that, having himself experienced the fullness of Christ’s forgiveness after the agony of his betrayal. Instead of being castigated, and cast off, he was forgiven and reinstated. Not only was he healed and restored, but he was taken to another level of love and acceptance in the process.

Just as Christ came to reconcile us to the Father, so He has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18). An important aspect of this ministry will be found in our attitude and reaction to other people. We are called to repay insult and evil with a blessing – in fact, in all things to bless and at all times to be a blessing. On occasion it may be extremely difficult – and we may need to own the pain inside us as our pain and not seek to inflict it back onto the other. Vengeance belongs to God not to us.

We are the Good News people, and it is possible because we have been blessed. The more we understand and receive the blessing and love of God, the more we will be free to pass it on to others. Having the security of God’s love and blessing we will not need to seek it from anyone else. This was the security that Jesus had and which was affirmed at His baptism.

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”(Luke 3:22)

It is also the blessing that we have – if we will believe it!

Response:
Ask God to make you aware of His blessing in your life. Look to where you need to bless others, especially those close to you.

Prayer:

Father, Please help me to be a blessing this week – in all that I think and say and do. Amen.

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Such Love

“Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37)

 

Reflection:
A teacher of the law had tried to test Jesus with the question, “Who is my neighbour?” In response Jesus had told the story of The Good Samaritan where a man on his way to Jericho had been attacked by robbers and left bleeding and naked on the road. A priest and a Levite had come along and both had ignored him. Instead it was a despised Samaritan who stopped and helped the man.

Jesus point was that our neighbour is anyone we meet along the road of life – and the commandment is that we should love them as we love ourselves.

The Lord revealed an important truth to me recently after hearing a sermon on this parable. It was this –

“It is far easier to be the one who helps than the one who needs help.”

It is worth bearing this in mind as we come across people who are in need of assistance.  Not only may they not have the ability to help themselves at that point but they may also be suffering the pain and indignities of their situation. In addition they might be only too aware of the good people who ignore then because they do not wish to become involved or socially contaminated in any way. We would not wish to change places with them.

Response:
Be grateful for being able to help others in some way

Prayer:

Lord, please help me to do what I need to with a generous heart and a willing spirit. Amen.

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Get Ready

“Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.”
 (Luke 3:4)

Reflection:
It was in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar that John the Baptist appeared in the country around the Jordan – preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He was the one prophesied by Isaiah who would come to prepare the way for the Lord. In a sense the Christian Church has now taken over that role as it prepares for the second coming of our Lord – this time in all His glory.

The Church is made up of individual Christians and so the role of the Preparer of the Way is now a part of each of our ministries. This is confirmed in the Great Commissions as we read them in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John. Our ministry fields are the contexts in which we live, work and play. In one sense it is the reason for our being there – God has been at work without our being aware of it.

Our ministry of preparing the way for the Lord has a number of facets to it. One would be the way that we live and perform our duties. Another would be the ways in which we relate and speak to people. Still another would be the way in which we cope with pressure, trauma and tragedy – whether in our own lives or in the lives of those around us. Do we, in these ways, reveal a relationship with and trust in God.

A significant manner in which we can prepare the way for the Lord is in prayer. The situations which are a part of our everyday lives have within them people who need the Lord, or more of the Lord, in their lives – whether they are aware of it or not. In our homes, during our travelling, at work or anywhere else, we can pray for the Lord to reach out and touch these individual people in a special way. It is something that everyone can do, and keep on doing. As we look around with more awareness we will also begin to pick up the silent ways in which people reveal their need – and we can respond by holding them up to God.

Prayer is one of the most important gifts that we have been given, and it is meant to be used to the full.

Response:
Prepare people for the Lord’s coming by firstly praying for them.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank You that You are coming again in glory. Please help me faithfully to hold those You have given me, and those You point out to me, in prayer for You. And thank You for those who have prayed for me. Amen.

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Beginnings End

“The curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Jesus called out with a loud voice,
 “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When he had said this, he breathed his last”
(Luke 23:45-46)

Reflection:
The curtain of the Temple was torn in two – from top to bottom. This was the curtain that hid from view and entrance the Holy of Holies – the place where the presence of God dwelt. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. Now, finally, the barrier had been removed through the birth, life and death of the Lord Jesus. The way to God was opened for anyone who would enter through faith in Christ.

Jesus then died with the loveliest of prayers on His lips.  Barclay tells us that this prayer from Psalm 31 was taught by Jewish mothers to their children for them to say as they prepared for sleep. Jesus added just one word to it, the word ‘Father.’ And as He sang it out so He sank gratefully into ‘the everlasting arms.’

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Jesus had died.

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Finished

“Jesus said, “It is finished.”
(John 19:30)

Reflection:
Finally it was all over.

Like an exhausted but triumphant long-distance runner Jesus had reached the end of His race. He was breasting through the tape. He had achieved the goal for which He had been sent. He had not given way to temptation, to pain and suffering, to abuse and humiliation. All that He had been given to do and to bear had been achieved – and He had been obedient and faithful to the very end.

Around God the angels must have begun to breathe a sigh of relief and exultation. And we can imagine that there was a quiet smile of love and pride on the still tear-stained face of the Father. For truly,

“You are my Son,
whom I love;
with you I am well pleased.”
(Luke 3:22)

Look at My Son,
Love of My Love,
In whom I delight!

As we look back we can only begin to imagine and grasp just how much hung upon the faithful and persevering achievement of the Man upon the cross. My life and your life and all our lives hung with Him in the balance. For He achieved what none of us could even begin to achieve. And he revealed a love we had not even begun to imagine. And He gained for us a future that was love and light instead of misery and darkness. And as His life ended here ours in eternity really began. For truly

I was there when they crucified my Lord.
I was there when they nailed Him to the tree.
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble,
For I was there when they crucified my Lord.

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