The Soaring Eagle

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


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Check yourself

“Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.”
(Proverbs 3:7)

Reflection:
The only one with complete knowledge and total understanding is God. He is also the only one who has total and absolute power and authority.

As Christians therefore our starting point must always be with God and in our having a very healthy respect for Him. As the Psalmist says,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10)

It follows then that whatever the Lord says needs to be taken seriously. What He calls evil is, therefore, evil and should be shunned. What He calls good is good, and should be embraced. God does not adjust His opinions and values on the basis of our debates, desires and decrees. The Gospels and Epistles have some very clear teaching on Christian living to which we need to adapt our living. They are there for our guidance and to prevent us from falling into the trap of our own reasoning and desires.

The Message puts it very helpfully his way.

“Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD! Run from evil!”

Response:
Do a faith check this weekend to see where you might be casual, ignorant or worldly in your attitude to life and to the Lord.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please lead me deeper into the truth – and draw me closer to the Lord in thought, word and deed. Amen.

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Press on

“Train yourself to be godly”
(1 Timothy 4:7)

Reflection:
Generally we do not grow up as Godly people. We may be raised and trained to behave within the boundaries of ‘common decency’ but that does not make us Godly – no matter how closely some of those values might relate to Scriptural standards. Even then amongst them all we will be amazed at how many of the principles and ways of the world have become a part of our lives and living, together with what Paul has just referred to as ‘godless myths and old wives tales.’

Godly living means looking for the commands and teachings of God, Jesus and the apostles in Scripture and intentionally seeking to make them a foundational part of our values and practices. It would include looking at the example of Jesus Himself and seeking to live after that model – for to be Godly is to be like God. In essence therefore everything that we think and say and do should increasingly be to God’s pleasure and glory.

We see the importance of this as we recognise that we are no longer children of the world but the daughters and sons of God Himself. Whilst salvation can be an immediate transformation our different way of life has to be learned and lived, consciously and purposefully, until it becomes a natural expression of our new and God-given identity. The closer we draw to the Lord Himself the more natural and inspired this will become – although there will still be some inward battles where we need to pray and keep on praying for the help and strengthening of the Holy Spirit.

Like Paul we know that we have

‘not .. already been made perfect, but I press on.’

Response:
Sanctification is a life-long journey. Take another step today.

Prayer:

Lord God help me to desire to be more like You and not to slumber in the ways of the world around me. Please inspire and strengthen me every day and protect me from falling back again. Amen.

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Choose Life

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice,
and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life”
 (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Reflection:
Very clearly were the two options set out before the Israelites. They could choose to go their own way or that of the Lord. God’s way came with His promise of His presence and blessing – whilst the other way would inevitably lead to death and destruction.

Every day we are faced again with the same choice. Do I walk God’s way or the way of the world – for it is very clear that much of the world had chosen another path.

God calls us to love and honour Him, to listen to what He says and to obey Him, to hold on to Him and never let go – in fact to walk in intimacy and trust with the majestic God of all creation. In doing so the nation was promised that His blessings would flow to both them and their children – a most wonderful bequest.

Depending upon where we are in life it can sometimes be a lonely decision – but individually we need to decide and to trust the Lord for His strength and protection. For indeed He is our life and there is no life without Him.

Response:
Choose God at every step of the way – it is much easier than trying to recover lost ground.

Prayer:

Lord God I do choose You, and I  Know that you have chosen me. Please help me to remain true to You as You will always be true to me. Amen.

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Rich Food

“Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day …
They are not just idle words for you–
they are your life”
(Deuteronomy 32:46-47)

Reflection:
Moses addressed the Israelites a final time just before he died. He passed on to them God’s instructions, and ended with these words. Their challenge and warning is still valid to us today as we read Scripture and look into the teachings of God through His Son and through the apostles as well.

Our God does not use words lightly and without real meaning and significance. In fact He expects His words to be heard and to have a life-changing effect. This is what He said through the prophet Isaiah,

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 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 55:10-11)

Jesus put it as strongly, but in a more personal way, when He said,

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4)

And the greatest of the kings, David, wrote,

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105)

Notice that the emphasis is not on God’s words as a litany of life-spoiling ‘donts’ but rather on life-feeding and life-enhancing aids. Walking in God’s ways brings God’s blessings – and very clearly in a way that the world cannot give. Walking in the ways of the world not only avoids His blessings but is a rejection. Walking in response to God’s directions affirms and honours Him, whilst deepening our relationship.

Response:
We should check ourselves against God’s commandments and teachings – are they foundational to our lives and living?

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to give to Your words the honour and obedience that they deserve, for Your Name’s sake. Amen.

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Is Mine Mine?

“For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him”
(Colossians 1:16)

 

Reflection:
All things were created By Him and for Him. He made everything that has been made – and it belongs to Him. That is important for us to remember when we seek either consciously or unconsciously to claim anything as ‘mine’ – including material possessions as well as spiritual gifts and talents. David had it right when he acknowledged,

“For all things come from you,
and of your own have we given you”
(I Chronicles 29:14 ESV)

The Lord has created not only the natural world as we know it – the visible – but the spiritual world as well – the invisible. In these worlds He also made structure and rules for their security and good order, as well as for our security, order and well-being. If we operate within the structure then good will follow – but if we choose to ignore it then we find the reality of the ‘law’ and the consequences.

An example is the law of gravity. If we ignore the directions and walk off the edge of a mountain then we discover both the law and the consequence of ignoring it. In the same way if we ignore the command not to steal we will likely discover why it exists and what breaking it can do to our relationships with God, others and ourselves.

God made what was ‘very good’ and specifically designed and intended as a blessing. We cannot complain if our contrary actions bring different results.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

God gave directions suitable for His creation and for those to whom He gave it. Neither as the fallen nor as the redeemed should we hope for blessing if we ignore them. But if we live as He intended then there will be blessing.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.” 
(Psalm 19:7-11)

Response:
Which commands do I keep and which do I ignore?

Prayer:

Lord You are God and Your Ways have to be the best. In fact in the Lord Jesus we see the Way, the Truth and the Life. Help me Lord to commit myself to You and in faith to walk in Your ways. 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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Think like this

“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”
( 2 Corinthians 10:5)

Reflection:
It struck me early this morning that there are ‘obviously’ two aspects to this word.

The first is that all my thoughts should be held before the Lord to be tested for their truth and whether or not they honour Him. Given that my mind is full of thoughts, worries and responses to feelings and emotions this may seem like an impossible task. And yet as we walk with the Lord much of it happens fairly quickly if we are open to it and to Him. The challenge then becomes one of responding to His correction.

The second is that this must as obviously apply in our Christian community and group situations – as well as, for us, in our work and ministry. The group’s opinion of what is true, relevant and of the Lord should also be tested before Him. Very often we have found that where there is one dissenting voice in a situation the process needs to be slowed down, re-examined and sometimes re-worked until all can say ‘that’s good.’ After all we are called into Christ’s ministry and not He into ours!

As we look at ‘perfecting holiness out of reverence for God’ this all becomes far more important. It is where the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit is so important and such a blessing.

Response:
Be aware of your thoughts – look at some of them with the Lord – persevere

Prayer:

Lord God, I offer my mind and thoughts to You – help me that I too may be transformed by the renewing of my mind, so that its thought may honour and bless You. Amen.

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