The Soaring Eagle

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


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Yes you can

“Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us”
(Hebrews 12:1)

 

Reflection:
Firstly, there are spectators. There to watch, to support, to encourage and to applaud, they are keenly interested in and supportive of our Christian lives and ministries. This should also make us pause if we are tempted into something which is unhealthy, unhelpful and unholy!

Secondly, there is the training involved. We cannot possibly merely drift along in the great race of the Christian life. Like all serious athletes we should be looking at a regular and healthy balance in our life-style as well as discarding surplus weights and activities. Some of these may not be wrong in themselves but may hinder us in our particular journey. Others may well be directly detrimental to our spiritual and physical lives and efforts. Through it all we are expected to practice our own particular ‘disciplines’ or gifts and be aware and concerned about our fellow travellers.

Thirdly, there is the finishing line. The race of life is all about how and where we are going. This involves recognising and avoiding distractions and keeping our focus and attention on the Lord at all times so that we continually end up in the right place at the right time.

    “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

It is small wonder the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control. If we are to run our particular race faithfully and to the end – there to receive not just the applause of the spectators but the ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ from a smiling Lord Jesus – we will need the self-discipline required to make the journey less of a trial and more of a joy.

Response:
I have been chosen – let me own and finish my race

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You have chosen me to be a member of Your team. Help me to run my part of the race faithfully, and with commitment and self-control, living at all times to Your honour and glory. Amen.

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Fight on!

“Fight the good fight of the faith.
 Take hold of the eternal life
to which you were called
when you made your good confession
 in the presence of many witnesses.”
(1 Timothy 6:12)

Reflection:
We face challenges on two fronts. One is the public front of proclaiming and living out our faith –  living new and committed lives within the sight of those around us, some of whom may be either cynical or actively opposed. The great temptation is to keep our faith secret and hidden and so avoid any confrontations or embarrassments.

The private challenge is dealing with the fears, attitudes and temptations that seem to flood our lives, sometimes taking us by surprise. We can begin to doubt our faith, integrity and sincerity and, if we are not careful, descend into a pit of hopelessness as we lose faith in ourselves!

On both these fronts, and indeed in every aspect of our lives, we need to realise that we are under attack. The enemy of God is opposed to both Him and His people and will do what He can to trip or sidetrack us. As he did with Eve he will seek to remove our eyes from God and re-focus them on ourselves. Another prime example is when Peter was walking on the water towards Jesus. He was fine whilst his focus was on the Lord. He began to sink when he looked instead at the mountainous waves and allowed the fear inside him to well up.

Peter was one of those who knew the reality of spiritual warfare and tells us,

  • “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Paul was also aware of the battles that went on within him,

  • “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

Do not lose heart because of your sins and shortcomings. Keep your eyes on the Lord, keep your faith in Him, continually bring your fears and failures to Him and trust Him to cleanse, strengthen and protect you at all times. Accept His forgiveness and help! Having died for you He has not now lost interest in you or become an impartial spectator. He is still totally committed to your salvation and new life and will help you onwards into it. ‘Take hold of the eternal life’ that is Jesus and never let go of Him. His love and grace are far larger and more powerful than any deficiencies and weaknesses of yours. And when you feel that your grip is weakening remember these words of J. C. Shairp,

“Let me no more my comfort draw
From my frail hold on Thee;
In this alone rejoice with awe –
Thy mighty grasp of me!”

 Response:
Trust God at all times – even when you fail or fall.

Prayer:

Father, please help me never to lose faith in You and in Your great love. And when I fail help me not to become a bundle of misery but to get up and carry on with You, Amen.

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Going Somewhere

“He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”
(Revelation 22:20)

 

Reflection:
When we set out in the morning for work, university or school we have a destination in view and gear our thoughts and actions accordingly. When we set out on a holiday we often have a destination in mind and adjust our thoughts and actions accordingly. When we set out this morning on the journey of the rest of our life did we also have a destination in mind, I wonder?

Our lives are going somewhere – they have a destination – and that means that they have a purpose. We are on the road to meet fully and completely with our Lord Jesus – who is on His way to meet with us. We do not know quite when and in what form this meeting will take place – but this we do know, it will happen, and even more wonderfully and uniquely than has been our experience to date..

The Holy Spirit whom we have received is, Paul teaches,

“a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:14)

If what we have received of God is merely ‘a deposit of what He has in mind for us, and has provided for us, then the message is simply this – ‘The Best is yet to come.’ And when this happens we will enter fully into the reality of our eternal being, identity and relationship as the children of God, and of our abundant inheritance as co-heirs with Jesus Christ, the eternal Son.

Every morning brings us a day closer. Each morning may we remember this truth and adjust our thought and actions accordingly – living as the daughters and sons of God, journeying to meet with Him in the fullness of His love. We are indeed on our way to glory – the glory of the one and only God.

Response:
Am I preparing to meet with the Lord?

Prayer:

Lord help me to recognise each new day as a gift from You to draw me closer to You and our great and glorious union. Amen.

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Time to Rise


“Then Jesus said to him,
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”
(John 5:8)

Reflection:
Sometimes it seems easier to stay as we are than to accept the challenge of change.

The man was paralyzed – unable to move himself around or to provide for himself. He was dependent on others for everything.  Now Jesus was offering him the possibility of a new way of life – of being able to walk and to therefor begin to provide for himself.

The man immediately accepted and obeyed the instruction to get up and walk – and was no doubt delighted with this amazing gift. The challenge of using this new ability to provide for himself was still to come – for now he could no longer beg or continue to receive aid from others.  His new found freedom came with new responsibilities. To have decided to stay as he was would have been an unthinkable tragedy. He would have missed out on so many blessings and the opportunity of leading a new and enriched life.

When Jesus calls us to follow Him He offers us a new life and a new and fruitful way of living – directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. To hold back would be the equivalent of remaining a spiritual cripple and missing out on the blessings He has in mind for us. To accept the challenge of the call is to take on new responsibilities as well as the promise of growth, development and significance in ways that we would not have imagined possible.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength”  (Philippians 4:13)

Response:
Am I holding back and saying ‘I can’t do it’ in any way?

Prayer:

Lord You have called me to follow You. Please help me to get up and walk in any area where I may be holding back – and to trust You for all that I will need along the way. Amen.

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God of Love 21

 

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me”
(Galatians 2:20)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love.

And this verse is the most beautiful and clear description of what it is to be a Christian.

  • I have been crucified with Christ – the old me, in bondage under the burden of the law, has gone
  • Christ lives in me – He has entered into and taken possession of His precious property
  • Now I live by faith in the Son of God – He who loved me and gave Himself for me

All this is a continuation of Paul’s opening statements where he says that

“The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins
to rescue us from the present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father”

(Galatians 1:4)

It was always God’s will that we be rescued. It was always God’s will and decision that He would rescue us Himself.  And it was God’s all-surpassing love that made it possible and turned it into a reality in Jesus Christ.

There was no merit in us that drove Him to it. There is no merit in us that keeps our place secure. It is all bound up in the love of God revealed and expressed in Jesus Christ. We are called to put our trust in Him and to keep it there.

“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
(John 6:28-29)

Response:
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me

Prayer:

Lord I do believe! Help my unbelief.  (Mark 9:24)

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Train Yourself

 

“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)

Reflection:
After watching Roger Federer win his sixth Australian Open and twentieth Grand Slam titles I listened to some of the post-match comments. One of them struck me as very pertinent. It went something like this.

We enjoy watching Roger in action but we don’t see him during the off-peak times. It is then that the hard work takes place. He is busy preparing himself for the challenges to come – working on his fitness and his game, ironing out the kinks and practicing new skills. Away from the crowds it can be a lonely but a critical time, and without it he would not be the champion that he is. He depends upon himself, more than his small team, to maintain his commitment and dedication. We then enjoy the fruit of that time and effort.

It is very much the same for us as Christians. It is in the personal times, away from our everyday activities, that we prepare ourselves to be the people of God and the expression of His love. It is here that we allow Him to examine us and show us the things that are not good in our lives, the ones that need to be worked on and strengthened and the new areas that should be identified and developed. It is rather like the time that Jesus spent in the desert after His baptism – recognising the main challenges that He would face and identifying a proper and Scriptural response.

Paul writing to the church in Corinth is challenging them and us to look to our own characters and lives, to cleanse them of what should not be there and add in what should. It can take commitment and time to break away from old habits and weaknesses and to establish new skills and strengths. It can be done though because we have the Holy Spirit with us to guide and strengthen us – even when humanly speaking our spirits are weak and lazy.

As we work to purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit and to perfect holiness it is not merely for our own sakes but for the honour and glory of God who has called us, as His children, to ‘be holy for I am holy.’

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

As we focus more on what we do to prepare ourselves we will find that we are better able to meet the challenges of our public lives and to bear the fruit that the Lord has begun to develop in us.

Response:
The Holy Spirit is your coach – ask Him for guidance and listen to His prompts

Prayer:

Lord help me to train with You for the challenges that I will face and for the opportunities that You will prepare for me, and cleanse and equip me for Your work and glory. Amen.

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Yes I can

“I can do everything
through Him who gives me strength”
(Philippians 4:13)

Reflection:
Towards the end of a journey that incorporated many trials and much temptation, suffering and rejection, Paul could say with confidence that, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11) This had come about because of his faith and trust in Christ, and the knowledge of the God who was with him at all times. He was certain that God would never abandon him or lose control of his situations. This was the peace that passes understanding. He was in God’s hands and nothing could snatch him away from God’s great hold on him – whatever the world might do.

Now in prison he could affirm that he had been, and was still, able to do everything that God wanted of him – whatever that might be and whatever challenges that might lead him into. God was with him and would give him whatever was needed in a particular situation – wisdom, words, faith, courage, perseverance.

As you and I look ahead these words come to us, both to inspire us and to build our faith. Whatever the trials and challenges are that we might face this year we can meet them, live through them and come through them in the strength and with the help that God will give us. In anything and everything, from the traffic, to health and work, family and relationship issues, to failures and financial difficulties, to insecurities, rejection and abuse, national and international turmoil, God is with us. Whatever else He might do, He will strengthen and guide us as we look to and trust in Him. He is not merely an observer but a participant in our life.

Response:
Give God your situation and the road ahead. Pray particularly for the difficulties that you foresee and the people involved. Ask God for guidance, strength and an awareness of His presence. Keep praying and listening. Memorise and keep saying today’s scripture.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, please help me to face every day in the confidence that, with Your help, I can face and do all the things that You want me to. Please help me to commit everything to You and to seek Your guidance and strength. Thank You for always being with me. Amen.

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