The Soaring Eagle

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


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Spirit of Purpose

“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)

Reflection:
God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us. He has equipped, and will empower, us for that purpose. It is in that purpose that we will begin to find our satisfaction – not because of any material rewards that it might bring, but because it is so worthwhile doing.

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew He said to them, “I will make you fishers of men.” In other words, in the new identity that He would give to them this would be their purpose. Paul, in the passage above, affirms that in our ‘new creation’ as God’s sons and daughters, we are the workmanship (again) of Christ. A focus of that workmanship is that we will have been (re-) formed to do the ‘good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.’ He has a plan and a purpose for us.

Through the Holy Spirit, living within us, He equips, empowers and calls us into that purpose. Our peace will lie in recognising our calling, accepting it, and living it out. Some may be called to high and public office, others to quieter and less visible ministry. Each one is important in the plans and purposes of God. Where we are called is where we will be most effective. I cannot fulfil your purpose nor can you fulfil mine – each one has their own.

Chesterton famously wrote, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” That was not an excuse for sloppy work – its truth is in the fact that, if we are only able to do a worthwhile thing badly, it is still worthwhile doing! If we are only able to love Christ poorly, it is far better than not loving Him at all. And of course, in all of this, God is the One who will decide.

Everyone is called to be a person who receives and passes on the love of God in the situation in which He has placed them, and to which He will call them. We can begin and continue right where we are – living as the light and love of Christ in our particular world.

Every person has a God given purpose in this life. We are not to envy others but to recognise our own.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8)

Response:
God knows where I am. He can use me here. He will lead me on to wherever He wants me to be.

Prayer:

Father God, please help me to trust you with my life. Help me to be more open to You, so that I will not waste the opportunities open to me now, but use them to Your glory. Amen.

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Always will be

“I am the LORD your God,
who has brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of bondage”
 (Exodus 20:2)

 

Reflection:
At Mount Sinai God reminded the Israelites that He and He alone is the Lord their God – the One who liberated them from their bondage and slavery in Egypt and brought them through the waters of the sea to Himself. From there He took them into the Promised Land.

This foreshadows the mission of the Messiah about whom the prophet Isaiah was inspired to proclaim about the One to come,

“The LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1)

Here was the message of a freedom from the enslavement and suffering in a fallen world that would be brought about by the Christ to come. He would come as the Light of the world, as the Way, the Truth and the Life and as the Good Shepherd.  He would call and gather God’s chosen ones to Himself and lead them out of the world’s darkness, through the dark waters of death and on the other side into the Light and Life and Love of the Lord God Almighty in the place which He Himself has prepared for them.

This same God is the One who has said to us that

  • “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” ( Romans 8:28)
  • nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39)
  • “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29)

As we recognise that God has had this plan for us from the beginning, and that He has revealed His love and commitment to us in so many ways, He urges us to hang on to Him and trust Him for the best – the glorious, eternal and full-hearted living love – is still to come. And it will come.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

And so like the one man next to the Lord on the cross we can hold on just a little longer for we know that in a tomorrow we will be with Him in paradise.

Response:
Keep your eyes on the Lord in the good times and the hard times.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to keep my eyes and heart on You – and not to lose hope or faith, and not to become despondent about myself, but to hold on to Your hand as it holds on to me, even me. Amen.

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Because He did I will

“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:11)

Reflection:
Today the Church celebrates the ascension of Jesus Christ. It completes the journey of salvation that began with the Incarnation – when God in Christ entered into the world in a completely new and significant way. Having fulfilled God’s mission for Him in His death and resurrection Jesus ascension back to heaven and to ‘the right hand of God’ secures and seals for us all that He has done. Augustine put it like this,

“For unless the Saviour had ascended into heaven
His Nativity would have come to nothing
… and His Passion would have borne no fruit for us,
and His most holy Resurrection would have been useless.”

Indeed, if Jesus had not risen from the dead what hope would there be for us? And, likewise, if Jesus had not ‘ascended into heaven’ how could we hope that we would do so one day? Rather we see in the ascension the wonderful fulfilment of God’s promise that,

“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 fact that He is now seated at the right hand of God indicates that His work of atonement has been completed. Seated there He continues to intercede for us as well as to prepare a place for us. (John 14:2). With His ascension He also opened the way for the promised Holy Spirit to come in a very real and significant way – which event we celebrate shortly at Pentecost.  And when God decides that the time is right Jesus will return to finally establish the Kingdom of God and for the final judgment.

 If Scripture teaches us one thing it is this – God can be trusted. Again and again He told His people what He would do, and He did it. Many did not live to see the complete fulfilment of His promise but they put their faith in Him – and it was not disappointed.

God has prepared a future and a place for us and it is there that we will find the true completeness, peace and fulfilment that we desire. Indeed it will be far greater and deeper, more beautiful and lovely, and more varied and extensive than we could ever grasp or imagine from where we are today.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”   (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Response:
And so our marching song as we journey onwards is this

Christ has died,
Christ has risen,
Christ will come again.

Prayer:

Lord I believe and trust in You. Please deepen and strengthen this faith in me every day, for Your Name’s sake. Amen.

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Pure Hearts

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
 and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
(Psalm 51:10)

Reflection:

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
 (Jeremiah 17:9)

David knew only too well how easy it was to follow ‘the devices and desires of our own hearts.’ So he asked the Lord not only for forgiveness but for a new understanding, commitment and strength. In doing so he was praying in line with the Lord’s own wisdom and promise:

  • “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • “He purified their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9)
  • “For God is greater than our hearts.” (1 John 3:20)

We cannot love the Lord with all our heart in our own strength. We cannot love our neighbours as ourselves in our own strength. We cannot love one another as Jesus has loved us in our own strength. We cannot love our enemies in our own strength. We cannot obey the Lord’s commands in our own strength. We cannot be holy in our own strength. We are a fallen people – fallen in body, mind and spirit and with hearts focussed on ourselves and the things of this world.

David had it right. Forgiveness by itself is not enough. We need help and we need it in the central depths of our lives. We need God to give us a new heart and a new spirit. A heart filled with His love and a spirit more holy and powerful than the spirit of the fallen world and fallen nature within us. We need to be saved even from ourselves.

And so God has acted. He has given us His heart in Jesus and His Life in His Spirit. They are here for the asking and acceptance.

Response:
Don’t fight sin ans life’s challenges in your own strength. Turn to God and involve Him – as often and as much as it takes.

Prayer:

Father please give me Your Heart and Your Spirit. May they fill my life and set me free to love and live You with joy. Amen.

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There is a future

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs
–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”
 (Romans 8:17)

 

Reflection:
The glorious truth about our salvation is that we do not become ‘poor relations’ in our new identity as the sons and daughters of God. We become His heirs – in fact co-heirs with His great Son, the Lord Jesus.

This is beautifully illustrated by Jesus Himself in the account of the Prodigal Son. When the son returns to the Father in the rags of failure and rejection the Father calls for him to be re-clothed in the ‘best robe’.  That would be the Father’s own most special robe that He was giving to His son. It would also be a sign to everyone around that he had been completely accepted and restored.

Our inheritance will be to participate in and enjoy fully everything that belongs to the Father – all that He has and all that He will have, all that He has created and all that He will create, and all that is being prepared for us.

  • “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2)
  • “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”  (1 Corinthians 2:9)

We do not know the detail and extent of it all – we do know however that it will be a place and time of wonderful completeness, unending joy, perfect peace and glorious love. And we will forever be an integral part of all that the Father is doing.

No matter what our experiences in this life – the joys and pain, the successes and failures, the acceptance and rejection, the moral heights and the sin-obsessed depths, the laughter and the desolation – one thing is certain. As the children of God we have a glorious inheritance in Jesus Christ – and it begins right now as we accept and lay hold of the wonder of our new relationship with the Lord. For many it has been, and will be,  the great truth onto which they hold in the darkness.

Response:
Where we will be is better than where we are. The way we will be is better than the way we are.

Prayer:

Father thank you so much for Your great love that reaches down for us into the darkest depths – so that You can raise us to You in the highest heights. I hold on to You Lord. Amen.

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Look for His hand

“And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
(Romans 8:28)

 

Reflection:
In this short sentence Paul sets out what for him are five unshakeable convictions. As we look at them we can begin to see their importance as foundations to our own believing, thinking and living.

They are:

  • God is at work in our lives – “God works”.

He is not a passive spectator but an actively involved God Almighty, whether or not we perceive it.

He is with us, in us and around us. As we saw yesterday He began a good work in our lives and will carry it on to completion.

  • God works for our good – “God works for the good”.

It is unthinkable that the God who sacrificed His Son for us would then work to harm His people or ignore them. From whatever happens in our lives God is able to bring a blessing.

  • God works in all things – “in all things God works”.

Not just some things but in all things. Even where we get things wrong and fail miserably God will still be at work – not least in encouraging and helping us to get up and have another go at life! And when we sin, and battle with sin, God is still able to use it as an opportunity to work in something valuable that will amaze us – particularly relating to His love for us.

  • God does this for those who love Him – “for the good of those who love Him.”

This love, as Scripture tells us, is expressed in our obedience to Jesus commands (John 14:21). By doing this we open the door for God to express Himself in and through our lives. Where we don’t we keep Him at a distance. God does not wait for perfection on our part – the first stirrings of love and obedience within us draws God closer, seeking to help, strengthen, comfort and bless us.

  • God works His purpose in our lives – “who have been called according to His purpose.”

He has a purpose for us (Ephesians 2:10) and it fits in with His will being done ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ In His purposes our lives are planned to be significant. For this He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts that we will need.

 Wherever we happen to be – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally – God is with us. As we turn to Him in the prayer that acknowledges Him, in the love that seeks to live His way and in the faith that might even be as ‘small as a mustard seed’ we open ourselves to His working in and through us. Whatever may be happening around us God is building something in our lives and the lives of His people. Trust Him!

Response:
Learn the verse and the five convictions. Ask God to help you believe and live their truth.

Prayer:

Father Your word ‘will not return to You empty but will accomplish what You desire and achieve the purpose for which You sent it.’ Help me to take this word of Yours into my life, in Jesus name. Amen.

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The Lord will

“He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 1:6)

Reflection:
Whatever may be happening – or not happening – in your life at the moment one thing is certain. God is at work. What He started in our salvation He will continue developing until it is completed. He will not cease until He can look into us and say with satisfaction “It is very good.”

The true quality of our life is not measured by what is happening around us or to us. It is what is happening within us that is vital. We will not always be aware of it – and sometimes will feel that we are not making progress. But that itself is an indication that God is at work and has effected some change within. As uncomfortable as it might be it is a step forward. He will be preparing the next one for us, and us for it.

In our life there will be some easy paths and some difficult challenges. All will lead us onwards and will be used by God to build us and to grow us in our relationship with and trust of Him. To trust in the Lord is to trust Him with every aspect of our lives all the time.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

In many ways we are still spiritual infants. Like a good parent God will guide us forward into and through the different stages of growth and development. He will be with us in all the times of success and failure, sickness and health, sadness and joy, despair and faith.  Having called us He will never desert us – even when we prove difficult! He has invested Himself in us, nothing can separate us from Him and His love, and He will work in all things for good in our lives as His children.

He is with you now. Hold on to Him, persevere with Him and trust Him in all things.

Response:
Trust is a decision, take it. A mustard seed of faith is enough for a great God.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank You so much for what You have already done in my life, and for Your most wonderful sacrifice on the cross. Please help me to trust You more and more – knowing that You have not finished Your work in me yet, but that You will. Amen.

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