The Soaring Eagle

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


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Core Value 3

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God”
( Philippians 4:6)

Reflection:
After God and His Word the next core value of ours must be Prayer – for prayer is our communication with God. Without proper and two-way communication both our prayer life and our daily lives become one-sided and often misguided. If the Incarnation of Jesus Christ has taught us one thing it is that God cares for, and engages with, His people.

We are encouraged in Scripture to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and about everything (Philippians 4:6). Jesus also taught us to persevere in prayer (Luke 18:1). There will be so much that we want to say to God.

However prayer is not only about our concerns but about God’s desires as well. This comes out clearly in the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples. Very definitely God’s will is placed first and foremost.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“`Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
(Matthew 6:9-10)

Our prayer life becomes far more dynamic if we are also praying the prayers that God would want us to – that intentionally align themselves with His will and purpose. For this to happen we needs must ask Him what He would wish us to pray, and then listen for His response. It may take practice but as we persevere we will learn to recognise the ways in which He talks to us.

We are told that

“Christ Jesus … is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34)

This is very inspirational and encouraging – and how wonderful to align our prayers with His. They will be the love-filled prayers that God desires to answer because they will be the best for us and our situations. Some of them will surprise us.

And for those instances where, for whatever reason, we do not know how to pray then we can do so in the Spirit – either in tongues or by holding the situation wordlessly before God as our spirit communicates with His – silently or through our tears and anguish.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27)

Prayer is far more than sending texts off into the blue. It is at the heart of a living relationship with the Living God, and one of the most vital and valuable activities in which we can engage – even at the initial level described here. Given the opportunity God will take us far deeper.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit please enter into my prayers – guide me, and help me to listen for, and to recognise, the voice of God in the way that He chooses to communicate with me. Amen.

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God of Love 2

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
(Genesis 3:8-9)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love.

We see this vividly portrayed in the account of the Fall. Having realised that they had sinned Adam and Eve hid from God amongst the trees. However God – obviously aware of their sin – did not go away but looked for them, calling out at the same time, “Where are you?”  And the story of salvation began.

We see this attitude of God’s described again by Jesus in the parable of the Lost Sheep – where the Shepherd goes looking for the one that is lost and does not return until He has found it. In fact Jesus described His ministry in these terms,

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” 
(Luke 19:10)

Our Lord still searches for those who are lost – knocking at the doors of their lives and asking to be allowed in. And, when He has entered, He knocks on the inner doors that are closed to Him. His desire is to enter into every area of our lives with His Light, Love and Life – to bring healing and wholeness and to set us free from any bondage and crippling fear.

Response:
God’s is calling your name – to get your attention in a new way so that He can  enter into your life at a deeper level. If you can identify a closed or barren area in your life ask Him to enter into it.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I long to be more fully found by You, and to rest in Your presence and love. Help me to open all of my doors to You so that I may begin to receive the fullness of Your love. Amen.

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Lent

“They would have repented .. in sackcloth and ashes.”
(Matthew 11:21)

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In the West Lent starts on Ash Wednesday
which this year falls tomorrow – 14 February 2018.

Good Friday is on 30 March and Easter Sunday on 1 April.

The ‘40 days’ of Lent are associated with the 40 days of Jesus fasting in the desert.
The 6 Sundays are excluded in the calculation as they are said to represent either the day of rest or the day of Jesus victory over death. 

In many churches there will be special services on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of the Journey to Easter. The theme is Penitence. Ashes will be blessed and used as a symbol of repentance. Many people will go forward to be marked with the sign of the cross, in ashes, on their forehead. These ashes are normally prepared from the Palm Crosses used on Palm Sunday the previous year. As they receive the cross of ashes they are exhorted to

“Turn away from sin and believe the good news.”

Lent is very significant. In its steady and purposeful build-up to Good Friday and Easter it ensures that they do not arrive and pass almost without notice. Here is the opportunity to reflect on ourselves and the world around us – to see the worldliness and sin that contaminates, separates and brutalizes and which prevents us from living to the potential of the daughters and sons of God. Repentance is importance for us and our world for it recognises that we need help – we need saving from ourselves, from each other and from the consequences of our actions. For unless we recognise sin we don’t recognise the need for a Saviour or understand what it is that He is about.

In many ways what is known as the Lent fast has been trivialised The true significance of Lent is not what we give up, even for God, but the awesome sacrifice that Christ made for us, and the self –denial and suffering that was involved. Any sacrifice of ours should be a reminder of, and association with, that greater sacrifice, and not a source of personal satisfaction. Scripturally our sacrifice is between God and ourselves and should be kept private.

For as much as we recognise the darkness of sin Lent can also become a wonderful opportunity. For we must reflect also on the holiness and love of God, the enormous blessing of knowing Him – and the great need for Him in our lives and the life of the world in which we live today.

This Year

  think of giving God an extra 10 minutes every day
to pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and deliberately
for someone.

On the first day adapt it and pray for yourself. On the next day/s pray it for individual members of your family. Then pray individually for the people with whom you work and associate every day. After that choose someone in the news who is suffering in some way .. and so on. Devote each day to a different individual. And if you travel on public transport pray the prayer for someone near you. 

Prayer:        

Father – please help me to accept this opportunity to journey with You every day, and in so doing to draw closer to You. Please shine Your light into my life and into the lives of those for whom I pray. Amen.

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God of Glory

“Glorify your Son,
that your Son may glorify you”

(John 17:1)

Reflection:
In one of His final and most significant prayers Jesus makes it clear that His overriding purpose was to glorify God – to honour Him and bring glory to His Name.

What was a priority for Jesus must therefore also be a priority in our own lives and relationship with God. This is why worship is so important. In it we remember before God His glory, majesty, grace and love and the awe-inspiring deeds that He has performed – from creation to salvation. We remind ourselves of who He is and what He has done, and honour Him as the One who has revealed Himself in these ways.

However, as Jesus Himself showed so clearly, worship is not merely the words that we speak but the lives that we live as well. For us the worship that proceeds from our mouths needs to both come from lives that have begun to be lived in honour of God as well as inspiring us to carry on and live such lives in the future.

It is so easy for our prayers to resemble a shopping list of needs and wants rather than an intimate conversation with a Father who loves us and wants to be loved by us. When this is the case it can happen that fear is often our motivation rather than faith. When we make worship a part of our daily conversation with God it reminds us of who and what He is and is like. This then lays a foundation of faith which makes all the difference.

When worship becomes a natural part of our lives it can seem to open us to the very presence of God both within and around us – a holy of holies in which we become very still and quiet, full of the knowledge of the presence of the Almighty.

Response:

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty – who was and is and is to come.

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Beyond Words

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
with groans that words cannot express”
(Romans 8:26)

Reflection:
There are times in life where the pain, the anxiety, the fear and the frustration are so great that we cannot begin to find the words that express the intensity of our emotion – the height, depth, and breadth of it all. And because we cannot find the proper words we can find it difficult to even begin to formulate a pray that encompasses all of the need. The only thing that brings any relief is a cry for help – or even just a cry or a scream.

It is a huge relief to know that God fully understands the depth of this pain even more fully than we do. In fact the Spirit Himself does not express it to the Father with the fluency of Shakespeare but ‘with groans that words cannot express.’  And the Father understands.

Tennyson with great insight puts it this way – describing himself as

An infant crying in the night
An infant crying for the light
And with no language but a cry

A baby has no language but a cry with which to express its need. But that cry is very effective and the parents very often know and understand the reason for it. So too does God know and understand, including those things that Wordsworth describes as ‘thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.’

Don’t let a lack of words prevent you from coming to the Lord with a need for yourself or for another person or situation. Lift your heart to Him – and weep, cry out, remain beseechingly silent or just say over and over again “O God, O God, O God.” It is enough.

Prayer:

Father God You read my heart before You read my mind or listen to my lips. Hear the cry of my heart as well as its song even before I turn to You. Amen.

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Believer or Observer?

“Some of them said, “Could not he
who opened the eyes of the blind man
have kept this man from dying?”
(John 11:37)

Reflection:
Jesus was standing outside the tomb of Lazarus. Deeply moved by the situation and the tears of Mary and the others “Jesus wept.” Some of those present said “See how He loved him!” However others were more critical and remarked “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

This criticism reveals something that was common at the time and is still with us today. Some people acknowledge and submit to the Lord, trusting Him in all situations. Others, whilst seeming to follow Him, are in fact observers rather than disciples and believers. As observers they judge Him from their own situations and standpoints instead of surrendering everything to His. We might find something of this in ourselves from time to time when we wonder and even complain that He does not intervene or act the way we would like to see.

Peter revealed something of this when almost immediately after saying “”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) he went on to rebuke Him for talking about His suffering and death. He was in turn strongly rebuked by the Lord.

“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:22-23)

Jesus then went on to talk about the need for each disciple to “deny himself.’ One of the ways in which we do this is to surrender our own judgements and viewpoints and to entrust ourselves to His.

In this particular case Jesus had not hurried back to prevent Lazarus from dying. He knew that instead there was a greater work for Him to do – that of raising Lazarus from the dead and in doing so revealing more of the power and glory of God.

When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer “Your will be done on earth as in heaven” we are acknowledging again that it is God’s will and way that is important and not the way we feel at the time. We exercise our faith in trusting His love and will – believing that it will turn out to be greater, better and more love-inspired than ours. That is why in some situations it is important for us to ask the Lord what it is that He wishes us to pray for.

Response:
God’s will is better and more love-filled than mine

Prayer:

Lord help me to pray for what is on my heart – and allow You to lead me into what is on Yours. Amen.

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2018

2017-01-01

“I said to the man
who stood at the gate of the year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely
into the unknown.’

And he replied ,
‘Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you
better than light
and safer than a known way !’

So I went forth
and finding the Hand of God,
trod gladly into the night .
And he led me towards the hills
and the breaking of day in the lone East.”

 

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(Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957)

May God bless us all throughout 2018 –
and enable us to walk forward with our hands in His,
as He leads, directs and encourages us in
accordance with His promise.
Thank you for your company and support in our journey this past year.
May His Light shine ever stronger for you as you press on with Him.

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