The Soaring Eagle

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


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Identity 4

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit
that we are God’s children”
(Romans 8:16)

Reflection:
Such is the desire of God that we should be redeemed as His children – and know it for ourselves – that He has given us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not to be with us as a companion but within us as a living Presence.

Here the Spirit has a number of functions.  The first is to testify to and with our spirit that we are God’s children. This is so important that God has not left us to believe only in His spoken Word for He knows how easily we can doubt not only His Word but ourselves. So He witnesses Himself, by the Spirit, to our own spirits of the truth of our new and eternal relationship with Him. This is one that cannot be broken. God desires, accepts and commits Himself to it for all eternity. And He wants us to know it, receive and trust it, and live within it always.

An allied work to which the Spirit is committed is that of introducing us to the fullness of God’s love for us.

  • “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5)
  • “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19)

This testimony by God to our new identity, and of His great, unconditional and unending love, is vital to our relationship with Him – and of course to our relationship with ourselves.

Response:
The Holy Spirit is speaking to you at your deepest level. Are you listening and giving Him the space to be heard?

Prayer:

Holy Spirit of God please help me to listen, to hear and to respond to Your precious presence and marvellous message. Amen.

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Click across to It Came To Pass for a good free recording of The Psalms!

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Thirsty People

“If your enemy .. is  thirsty,
give him something to drink”
(Romans 12:20)

Reflection:
Jesus Christ had a completely different approach to people. He welcomed them all and saw beyond the external attitudes into their hearts.

Henri Nouwen tells of how a week spent in an AIDS clinic with those facing ‘a certain and agonising death’ changed the way that he prayed for people. In that week he heard ‘hints of a thirst for love that had never been quenched.’ From then on he prayed,

“God help me to see others not as my enemies or as ungodly but rather as thirsty people. And give me the courage and compassion to offer Your Living Water, which alone quenches deep thirst.”

All the people around us, including those who offend us in any way, have a thirst at the centre of their lives. It is often unrecognised but it has a marked effect on their thinking and their actions. You will know what it is.

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1)

Hold back the ungodly responses that sometimes leap up within. Quietly pray for them instead.

Response:
Affirm your place in God’s love so that you do not need to prove anything

Prayer:

Father You love me with an unfailing and everlasting live. Secure within the strength of Your love may I be free to love those who hurt and offend me. Amen.

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God of Love 27

“God has poured out his love into our hearts
 by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
(Romans 5:5)

 

Reflection:
God’s great desire is that we should all be a people of love. And because God Himself ‘is love’ the main commandments point us in that direction.

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37)
  • “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:39)
  • “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)
  • “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:35)

Paul goes on and teaches that without love nothing is achieved or of any value in the sight of God.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

The only source of this love is God Himself. He is prepared to share the love that is in Him with us –those whom He has in Christ adopted as His daughters and sons. It comes with and through the Holy Spirit whom He has given us. Note how Paul uses the word ‘poured’ to describe the process – not dribbled or dripped or rationed in any way, but POURED. The sense is of the recipient’s heart being absolutely soaked in the love of God – so much so that it leaks out into every part of their life and being.

John sums it up for us as He again says simply,

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

It is because we have been and are loved by God with this great, free, unmerited, unrestricted and unconditional love that we can begin to love Him and others in a similar way.

Response:
Ask for love and give love in faith – for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Love

Prayer:

Father please pour Your love into my heart by Your Holy Spirit. Help me to open myself to recognise and receive it and to begin to share it with others even now. Thank You Lord. Amen.

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God of Love 23

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”
(Romans 8:38-39)

Reflection:
When I was in hospital nearly three years ago there was a time when I was close to death and comatose for some days. The first thing that I remember when I regained consciousness was of my wife sitting next to the bed and stroking my arm. During all the time that I was unconscious her love was with me, reaching out to me and embracing me. At that time in my life I couldn’t try to earn it or deserve it or even respond to it. It was just there flowing out from her to my spirit and waiting patiently for the time when I would become aware and consciously receive it again.

So it is with the love of God for each one of us. It flows from Him to us because He loves us. It does not stop, it will not stop and it cannot stop. It is so powerful that no one and nothing can divert it or bring it to an end. Whether we respond fully, partially or barely does not affect it – it just keeps coming. And it always will.

God’s love for us is unconditional, unlimited and unrestricted. It is a love that went to the cross for us and then walked out of the tomb again. Not even death itself could overcome it – instead it laughed at death and walked on to eternity.

Response:
I am loved by God – right now and forever

Prayer:

Thank You Father for Your wonderful and inextinguishable love. Please help me to know it, respond to it and live it at all times. Amen.

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God of Love 19

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners,
Christ died for us”
(Romans 5:8)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love.

However as we know for ourselves love is not just a matter of words. It has to be revealed and lived out in our daily lives. Just as James would say of faith – “I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18) – so Jesus would refer to an action to demonstrate the reality and depth of love,

“Greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends”
(John 15:13)

God does not ask of us that we put our trust in His love merely because of words written on a page. He asks of us that we entrust ourselves instead to the ‘Word made flesh’ – this the expression of God who came amongst us as a living reality in Jesus Christ.

Such is this love that God did not wait in hopeless expectation of our proving ourselves willing and deserving of His love. He came to us when we did not deserve it – in fact whilst we were caught up in our own sin. And He still does. Like the Good Shepherd in Jesus story He comes looking for us to call us back to Himself and to where we belong. And to make it possible for us to return freely He took our sin upon Himself and died in our place and on our behalf. Such was His longing for us that He would allow nothing to stand in the way of our being able to come home again – like the prodigal son.

And now the only thing standing between God and us is … us.

Response:
Take time to think about the reality of God’s love – and the Good Friday Cross that is around the corner.

Prayer:

Father forgive me where I have taken Your love for granted and failed to recognise its depth and true significance. Thank You for loving me in Christ and now in the Holy Spirit who is always with me. Amen.

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God of Love 3

“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife
and clothed them”
(Genesis 3:21)

Reflection:
God is a God of Love.

One of the most remarkable acts of love by God is contained here right at the beginning of the Biblical account of His relationship with humans.

Adam and Eve had rejected His authority, love and wisdom in a way that made it impossible for them to remain in His presence. The death that God had warned them about was now a reality.  They had to leave and find their own way in the comparatively inhospitable outside world.

A similar scenario would be enacted much later at Sinai. Effectively God would say to the Hebrews, “Commit yourselves to Me and My Ways and I will take you to a land flowing with milk and honey. Reject Me and the lonely desert awaits you.”

But now, as the physically and spiritually naked couple were about to leave Eden, God did a wonderful thing. He made clothes for them – and He clothed them Himself. There is a concern and intimacy here which is wonderful. The Father had not stopped loving them or caring for them.

Again the scene is played out in the then distant future. It was in all probability a lamb that died and surrendered its skin so that they could be clothed.  In time to come the Lamb of God would surrender His clothes and die naked – so that we could be clothed with His life and righteousness and return to the presence of God.

“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” 
(Romans 13:14)

Such Love.

Response:
God has clothes for us to wear – have I fully accepted them?

Prayer:

Father please help me to shed the clothes of this world and to enter into the covering of the Lord Jesus in every area of my life. Amen.

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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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