The Soaring Eagle

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


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Who am I?

“You are my Son, whom I love”
(Luke 3:22)

 

Reflection:
God spoke these words to Jesus at His baptism in the River Jordan. Immediately afterwards He went into the desert where He faced the three major temptations known to man. All of them had something to do with identity –and it was from the secure foundation of His own identity in God that He was able to recognise and refute them.

We find a similar situation in the very first Psalm which stands as a gateway into the rest of the Psalms.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2)

The person who is blessed is the one who has established their identity as a man or woman of God. That means that they can recognise and say ‘No!’ to the advice and ways of the world and instead base their lives and living on the word of God.

The need for and reality of this new identity is stressed by Jesus and Paul.

  • “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3)
  • “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”(Romans 12:2)

The key question, therefore, is ‘Who am I ?’ Am I a man or woman of God and living according to His word and ways – or am I still a child of the world and subject to its influence and ways? As Jesus said,

“No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24)

Response:
Who am I?

Prayer:

Lord God I acknowledge You as my Lord and Saviour. Please help me to delight in the revelation of Your love and will in Scripture and to live in Your Way. Amen.

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Choose Your Thoughts

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–
think about such things.”
(Philippians 4:8)

Reflection:
Our lives are influenced by what we think. And what we think is a product of our past as well as being fed by the influences of the world in which we live, the people with whom we associate and the news that we read and hear. It is important, therefore, to exercise control over our minds – instead of allowing them merely to react to negative stimuli.

Very easily do we indulge ourselves in angry and critical thoughts about others, negative thoughts about ourselves, and doubtful thoughts about God. All of these affect our opinions, relationships and the way we conduct our lives. They do nothing to help us or anyone else. Our minds need to become used to new habits of thought as well as choosing to reject what is not helpful.  As we ‘choose to choose’ our thoughts we may well be astonished at what we need to filter out.

Christian love begins to look out for the positive and beautiful aspects of life and living and focus on them. This is not artificial and an ignoring of the reality, but it is a refusal to merely dwell on weakness and ugliness when it is not helpful. There is beauty all around us. There are fine qualities in many people, including ourselves.

Paul is challenging us to allow the God-given beauty within us – the new and redeemed us, temples of the lovely Holy Spirit Himself – to begin to surface and take control of our thoughts. God will give us a new focus, a fresh awareness, and a different perception of truth. We will discover that there are deeper truths than the superficial bits and pieces that have come our way.

We can choose not to reflect the world but to reflect the God of love instead. That means also feeding ourselves on His love and life and word – not merely on worldly news and views. And when we do meet news that is distressing, whilst we may acknowledge even the sin that is behind it, we can pray for all and everyone involved that somehow God’s love and blessing will touch them all.

Response:
There are enough armchair critics.  Check yourself and step out in a new way.

Prayer:

Father, fill me with beauty and the loveliness– and help me to discern more of Your Truth and Love. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Lord’s Prayer 5

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
(Matthew 6:10)

Reflection:
God has a plan and a purpose for the world, and God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.

  • “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:10)
  • “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)

From His commission to Adam and Eve, to Noah, in Jesus teaching, in the Great Commission to the disciples and all who follow Jesus, and as picked up by Paul, comes the message that God is working towards a definite end which He will accomplish. Our privilege is to be a part of that purpose and to be those through whom He works to achieve His end.

The will of God and the glory of God are connected. He is best glorified by His people when He is obeyed. It is an indication that we acknowledge and submit to His sovereign power and authority, and that we trust His love for us – the extent of which is revealed in the life, death and resurrection of His Son.

Jesus also submitted Himself completely to the will of His Father.

  • “the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (John 14:31)
  • “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:41-44)

 The alternative to God’s will being done on earth is that the will of fallen man will be done instead. We can see around us the fruit of that option – which should make us pray even more fervently for God’s will – His good, pleasing and perfect will – to be done instead and starting in us. And, of course, if I pray the prayer then I must seek to find out more about the will of God and allow the Holy Spirit to mould my life to it in thought, word and deed.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Romans 12:2)

And His will for us above all is this – to really and fully live our belief in the Lord Jesus.

“Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29)

Response:

I believe – Lord help my unbelief.

Prayer:

Father – Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – starting in me. Amen.

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Your Way

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them,
and they said, “We’ll go with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.”
(John 21:3)

Reflection:
Jesus had already appeared to the disciples more than once. They knew of His resurrection but, unlike previously, He was not with them all the time, teaching and giving them instructions. For days at a time they were on their own.

 Peter the man of action, probably restless and uncertain of what came next, went off to do what he had done previously. He went fishing, not just to try and catch one or two, but to throw out his nets to catch fish that he could then sell. He and the others fished all night but caught nothing.

  Jesus appeared on the beach the next morning and told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. Immediately they were filled with fish – 153 large ones. What a difference it made when they were doing what Jesus told them to do. After all, He had said of Himself,

“but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (John 14:31)

 There are two lessons here. The first is that to go off on our own, as Jesus disciples, and to do our own thing will not necessarily bring any rewards. We always need His guidance and blessing. The second is that Jesus is not against honest labour and is prepared to guide and bless those involved in it, if they will listen to Him – note the word ‘exactly’ in His statement. He is to be Lord of all our lives, at all times and in all things.

Response:
Look for Jesus guidance and involvement in all that you do this week

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, please help me to discern the way forward and to seek to do everything the way that I believe you would want me to – for Your glory. Amen.

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Nothing to fear

 

“And now, dear children, continue in him,
so that when he appears we may be confident
and unashamed before him at his coming”
(1 John 2:28)

Reflection:
John reminds us of what we know but are inclined to treat lightly – Jesus Christ is coming again.  He will come in glorious power and majesty and we will see Him as He truly is. Whether our bodies have already died or whether we will still be living here when it takes place it will be an unimaginably momentous occasion.

When it happens we do not want to be amongst those who try to flee in terror – nor do we wish to be amongst those who are nervously hopeful. Instead John holds out to us the possibility of our being ‘confident and unashamed’. Not fearing for ourselves we can enjoy the breath-taking spectacle of His glory and worship Him with tears of joy and wonder. This is our Lord and God – He is ours and we are His and everything is beauty, wonder, love and joy.

The way for this to be our response is for us to ‘continue in Him’ here and now – for every moment of our earthly lives. This of course picks up what he records Jesus as saying in his Gospel.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you”
(John 15:4)

When we come to Him as our Saviour and our Lord we become a part of Him – like a branch being grafted into a vine. From then on we draw our life from Him and He expresses His life through us. Both Jesus who calls on us to ‘remain in Him’ and John who urges us to ‘continue in Him’ are talking of an ongoing and personal relationship which, having started, is to have no separation or end. The way to develop and express this new relationship is quite clear – we are to take Jesus and His teaching and increasingly make them a part of our lives as our Way and Truth and Life.

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love”

(John 15:10)

Note that we do not earn His love by our obedience for we have already entered into it.  Instead we express our love, gratitude and faith though our subsequent obedience and trust. As we become used to living in this intimate and life-giving relationship with the Lord His second coming can hold for us no fear – only the promise of an even closer and more wonderful life with Him in all its completeness and fullness.

Response:
Stay close to the Lord in this way and He will stay close to you

Prayer:

Lord You have made me a part of Your Life – help me to live in such a close and trusting relationship with You that neither death nor Your coming again can hold any fear for me. Amen.

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Live up to your Life

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”
(1 John 3:2-3)

 

Reflection:
We are not just lifeless pieces of clay in the process of transformation. In fact we have a part to play in which we both co-operate with and facilitate the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The Christians who have focussed their hope and expectation on the glorious return of Christ will want to both prepare for it and move towards it. Our desire should increasingly be to purify ourselves – to leave the sin and depravity of the world behind – and become more and more like Christ. This is our response to the love that God has lavished upon us in Christ and to our eternal salvation and life. It is both gratitude and an awareness of the need to honour God in the way we live out our new life. Although only His blood “purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7) we play our part in purifying ourselves from its influence.

  • “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
  • “Keep yourself pure.” (1 Timothy 5:22)
  • “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:7-8)
  • “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)

Peter gives us a wonderful hint here, that a key part of this journey involves the move from selfishness to selflessness.

As the moon is glorious when it fully reflects the sun and is not partly hidden by the earth, so are we when the Son is more fully revealed in us.

Response:
Ask God where you need to start and step up from there.

Prayer:

Father, please help me to truly desire to become more and more like Jesus. Please continue to pour Your love into my heart by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5). In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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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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