The Soaring Eagle

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


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Because I choose to

“The obedience that comes from faith.”
(Romans 1:5)

Reflection:
Paul is quite clear in this great letter that justification before God is by faith alone. However, he is also quite clear that faith is an active and not a passive state. If we have faith in Jesus as Saviour we must also have faith in Jesus as Lord – the two titles cannot be separated.

The sin of disobedience brought about our fallen state and separated us from God. It cannot be expected for a moment that we should continue in that state, but now with a cloak marked ‘justified’ over us. The Scriptures reveal that a radical change is expected to take place:

  • “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2)
  • “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:22-24)
  • “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 Pet 1:15-16)

Having been justified by grace through faith our proper response now is to put our complete faith and trust in God by turning away from the ways of the fallen world. We choose instead to live according to the ways of God – not as if they were imposed laws, but because our belief is that His ways, and His ways alone, are the ways of life – not only in the life to come but in this life as well. We are called to a new life and a new way of living. Jesus is Saviour and Jesus is Lord. “Follow Me” is a call both to direction as well as to method. They go together.

Now having found it impossible to live out the old Godly way of life there is no reason to expect that in our own strength we can live out the new. So God has taken that in hand for us.  He has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit  to both guide us and strengthen us. Therefore in His New Covenant commitment He  promises that,

  • “I will put My laws into their minds and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10)
  • “I will be their God” (Hebrews 8:10)
  • “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12)
  • “I will give you a  new heart and put a new spirit in you”” (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:27)

 It’s all about God and what He does. Our work is to believe, receive and let Him live it out through us. And although God does gives us both the desire and the strength to do His will it still remains our choice.

  • “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13)
  • “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

Response:
We are saved by faith – now we live by faith and not by our own efforts and strength,

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, please help me to perceive the truth and to live by it. Help me to look at Your teachings, recognise them and accept  them into my everyday life – to Your honour and glory. Amen.

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His Love is Real

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

Reflection:
In the film My Fair Lady, Eliza Dolittle burst into a song in which she said that she was sick of words so “If you’re in love, show me!” The Bible has numerous references to the fact that God loves us, but His love is not only revealed in words. It has been demonstrated before us in the most telling way possible.

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

Jesus went on to prove His point by giving His life for us – not when we were good and pure, but whilst “we were still sinners” and, therefore, “God’s enemies” (Romans 5:10)

This great act of salvation was carried out in the in the most public way possible, and has been remembered and proclaimed in many ways and numerous times every year for the past 2000 years. Because of it we can place the utmost confidence in each and every reference to the love of God contained in the Holy Scriptures. We can look for no greater demonstration and proof than that revealed by the Cross. There can be no doubt – God really does love us, and He loves us that much!

And whenever we have doubts we can look at and contemplate the awesome reality of that Cross.

The fact that the world is in a mess, and that the Church itself is not looking too good at the moment, is not a reflection on the quality of God’s love. It is, rather, an indication of humankinds perpetual desire to put themselves first and to do everything their own way. God’s original gift of the freedom to choose has never been withdrawn. His desire is that we choose Him because we want to, not because we are puppets or programmed that way.

God’s love for us is, really, beyond doubt. Given the opportunity it becomes expressed in the most wonderful, tender, joyful and uplifting ways. Ignored, it does not wither – it just is not known. The real question is not ‘does God love me’, but have I entered into that love?

  • “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”(Jeremiah 29:13)
  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)
  • “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

Response:
Ask God to enter more fully into your life, and help you see, receive and know His love. Read the Gospels and hear what they say to you about Him.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You do love me. Please help me to trust and accept that love, and to live within it. Amen.

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We need Love

 

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

 

Reflection:
God 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)

If we were completely honest with ourselves, one of our greatest desires and needs would be both to be loved and to be able to love, freely and openly. Yet as we look around us the one word that we would use to describe our society, nation or the international situation would not be anything like the word love. Clearly then the love which God is talking about is not natural to human beings in general or to the society that they create.

The only source of this love is, in fact, 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)

Paul, having met and experienced this love for himself prayed that we too would know it for ourselves. It is a prayer that we could make our own.

“ 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 3:17-19)

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. Our first response, and our daily ongoing response, needs to be to ask God to pour, continue to pour and to keep on pouring this love of His into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And, as He does so, we can then let it out towards others. We need to, and the world in which we live needs us to – for if we do not pass it on it dries up within us.

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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Who am I?

 

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

Reflection:
Our identities are very important to us. They help to establish who we are to ourselves and to others. They can give us a sense of belonging and of value as well as of purpose. They also give us a place in history. And then they are key in establishing our relationships with others.

Jesus identity was established a number of times. Before He was born the angel informed Mary that He would be God’s Son. Then at His Baptism in the Jordan the Spirit descended on Him and the voice of God was heard to proclaim,

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

At the beginning of His ministry this must have been a wonderful endorsement and encouragement to the Lord. Again at His transfiguration as He was preparing to face His own redeeming exodus from the world the voice of God was heard by the three apostles to say,

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5)

This too would have been a wonderful affirmation to the Lord as He faced His greatest trial.

We have grown up with our individual human identities. However in God’s great purpose and plan He has a new identity for us – one which would have been beyond our wildest imaginings.

  • “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5)
  • “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13)

As He did with the Lord Jesus God wishes us also to know and to be secure in this – for us – new identity and relationship with Him.  He has therefore provided for the Holy Spirit to witness to it and affirm it to us.

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

So we have the word of God that testifies to our becoming His sons and daughters as we turn to Him in repentance and faith though Jesus Christ. We also have the added blessing of the Spirit of God who is our constant assurance and reminder of this enormous privilege and great truth.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Clearly God wishes and intends that we should both know and be secure in our new and eternal relationship with Him. And as with the Lord Jesus it will be our great security and encouragement through the trials, temptations and terrors of life. We do need to believe and accept God’s word and provision for us and to own this new identity in our everyday life and living – for the world would try and steal it from us.

Response:
In Christ I am a daughter/son of the Lord God Almighty both now and throughout eternity.

Prayer:

Father help me to believe and receive my new identity in You and to trust the witness of Your Word and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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We need You

“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning,
with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.
Everyone in the camp trembled”
 (Exodus 19:16)

Reflection:
When the Lord descended onto Mount Sinai to meet with Moses He did so in such a way that the people were terrified. They said to Moses,

“Speak to us yourself and we will listen.
But do not have God speak to us or we will die”
(Exodus 20:19)

This response stands in stark contrast to their reaction when the Lord led them out of Egypt.

“By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud
to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire
to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night”

(Exodus 13:21)

In the same way the cloud of the Lord’s presence settled on the Tabernacle.

“On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up,
the cloud covered it. From evening till morning
the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire”

(Numbers 9:15)

At Sinai they were terrified but at other times the presence of the Lord in the cloud was a comfort and assurance of His presence.  It was also a guide for them as they moved when He moved and stayed when He stayed.

With the whole Christian Church we look ahead to next Sunday when we celebrate the Day of Pentecost. This is the day when the Lord, in fulfilment of His promise, gave to His people the great gift of the Holy Spirit. He came to be not just with us but to live within us, both collectively as the Body of Christ and individually as well.

This is the same God as the majestic and terrifying God of Sinai. However He now chooses to reveal Himself to us in a different way, a way in which He can work within us and through us – transforming us and reaching out to those around us in love, guidance and healing.

The Israelites could not have left Egypt and found their way to the Promised Land by themselves.  So too we cannot find our way out of the bondage of our own lives and into the place that the Lord has prepared for us. We need His help – His involvement, His guidance and His power. With it we need His forgiveness and His healing. This comes through the Holy Spirit who makes our union and relationship with the Lord real, and who gifts, guides and empowers us for the life which God calls us to lead.

Paul puts it clearly for us.

  • “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9)
  • “those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14)
  • “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16)

Response:
Ask God to help you to open yourself to the Holy Spirit more and more.

Prayer:

Lord God, thank You for the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. Please help me to open myself to His presence, guidance and ministry so that He may be released in ever increasing ways in my life and living. 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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