The Soaring Eagle

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


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God’s Gifts

“Be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart;
consider what great things he has done for you”

(1 Samuel 12:24)

Reflection:
If we were not so caught up in the modern attitude of self-absorption we might be able to see more clearly and with far more appreciation.

The essential person within each of us is unique and a gift from God. The created order in which we live is a gift from God. Our ability to see it, and appreciate it, and understand it, and work within and with it are gifts from God. Each one of our senses is a gift from God. Our abilities and talents are gifts from God. Our sensitivities and emotions are gifts from God. Our abilities to know, understand and communicate with each other are gifts from God. Love is a gift from God.

Things like electricity, plumbing, computers, television, smartphones, microwaves, medicines, medical equipment, motor vehicles, aeroplanes, ships and so many other things are gifts from God – built into the created order that He has made available to us.

The sun, the moon and the stars are gifts from God. Birds and bird-song, the fish of the seas and the animals of the earth are gifts from God. Plants, grass and crops are a gift from God. Rain and wind are gifts from God. The seasons are gifts from God. The towering mountains and the shaded valleys, the rivers and the seas, the forests and the plains are gifts from God.

God is a gift from God. Jesus Christ is a gift from God. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God. Our relationship to the Father as His sons and daughters is a gift from God. The Holy Bible is a gift from God. The Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Second Coming are gifts from God. Salvation is a gift from God.

Response:
“Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:14)

Prayer:

Lord open my eyes that I may see, marvel and be grateful. Amen.

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Who I am

2015.10.26

“Then the LORD said,
“Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”
(1 Samuel 16:12)

Reflection:
David went from being a nameless shepherd of sheep to the greatest of the Kings of Israel. He was not perfect and experienced many challenges and threats. Yet he lived his life with God, was ready to acknowledge and confess his sins, and had a vision and understanding of God that are a constant encouragement to us still. He never forgot who he was – the called and anointed of God. That kept him going, even when he got things terribly wrong.

Jesus knew who He was. At the age of twelve He declared Himself to be the Son of His heavenly Father – and stepped from dependent childhood into manhood. At His Baptism in the Jordan His identity and relationship with the Father were affirmed and He was filled with the Spirit. At His temptation in the desert He was attacked at the point of His identity and challenged to prove who He was. However He did not have to prove it to Himself because He knew already. And so at the end of His life He could give Himself into the Father’s hands.

As Christians we need to know who we are – not in terms of our human ancestry and current society but in terms of the most important relationship of all – with God. Once we have that knowledge and faith it gives us a peace, strength and purpose which we can never get from the world. It helps us to cope with whatever we may have to face, and it keeps bringing us back to Him even when we have failed miserably. When the world and even we ourselves seem ready to write us off and discard us we remain who we really are – the daughters and sons of the wonderful and ever-loving Father.

Response:
Acknowledge your Christian identity and keep reminding yourself who you are in Christ.

Prayer:

Lord I believe and trust in Jesus as my Saviour and my Lord. Help me please to acknowledge and live in the knowledge that I am a son/daughter of the Living God. Amen

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Real Mountain

Reflections

“David asked the men standing near him…
“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine”

(1 Samuel 17:26)

Reflection:
All mountains need to be faced. If this is where God has brought us then it is unhelpful to turn away or camp forever in its shadow. God wishes to deal with it.

To face a mountain means to acknowledge its existence, define it and admit it as an obstacle. It will include probing and admitting our reaction to it – everything from fear and horror to lust and longing. We may need to ask ourselves why it is there and what we are able or unable to do about it.

To face a mountain is to see its naked truth and to admit ours as well. A mountain hidden tends to keep growing. A mountain defined has boundaries. Jesus said that it was the truth that would set us free. We may now enter into that truth with Him.

Response:
Look at your mountain with new eyes – and yourself as well

Prayer:

Lord you said that it is the truth that sets us free –help me to allow You to show me the Truth in all my situations. Amen.

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Look Deeper

Lent 15

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

(1 Samuel 16:7)

Reflection:

Samuel had been sent by God to Jesse to anoint one of his sons as the next King of Israel after Saul. When he saw the eldest son Eliab he was impressed by his appearance and height and thought he was the ‘Lord’s anointed.’ However God corrected him with the above words.

 It is a good reminder to us to pause and consider the way in which we assess and judge people. There is a great emphasis in the world today upon physical appearance, attractiveness and prowess. There is also a tendency to judge people on their words and actions. In both instances we can very easily ignore the heart, or inner person, concerned and fail to see the turmoil, pain, inadequacy and fear that might be there – as well as failing to notice any lack of morals or integrity.

 We can take great comfort in the fact that God does not judge us only by our words and actions but understands more fully than we do where they are coming from. We should also be prepared to pause before condemning or lauding others only on their outward appearance or performance. There may well be other truth or factors to consider.

Prayer:

Father please help me to be more aware of those around me and to see more of the real person than is revealed by their appearance, words and actions. Amen.

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Listen for God

Lent 14

“The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

(1 Samuel 3:10)

Reflection:

How well do you listen? People speak continuously and in a number of ways – not only through the words that come from their mouths. There is the way they say things, their bodily posture, the way they walk, the look in their eyes, the appearance of their mouths, the set of their shoulders, the angle of their heads, and more. All of these add to, or subtract from, the words that they speak –and sometimes speak more eloquently than even their sounds or their silence. A searching question would be to ask ourselves whether we want to hear what they are communicating but not speaking.

 There are other questions to consider. When were we last aware of God speaking to us, and do we want to hear Him when He does?

 One truth that is abundantly clear from Scripture is that God communicates with His people. He does so directly, through His appointed spokespeople, through the Scriptures, through circumstances and through His creation.

  • “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
  • “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

 He came to Samuel during the night and called out to him, He kept on doing so until Samuel was in a position to understand that it was God calling him and not Eli. Samuel could then give the correct response of “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” God didn’t give up – He kept on until He was heard.

 God’s communication with us is important. Important for our faith, important for our relationship with Him, important for our witness and important for the work to which He has called us.

“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)

 Jesus said that “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:4). It is very important then that we practice listening for Him and to Him all the time. Wherever we are, and whatever we are doing, we should be listening for the voice of the Lord – for what it is that He might wish to say to us. It might be a word of comfort, strength or encouragement, a word of love, a word of direction or warning, or a word where He shares with us something of Himself. God will want to communicate with His children in all of these ways – and we should not want to miss out on any one of them.

Prayer:

Father, please help me to listen for You, to hear You and to listen to what You say to me. Help me also to love Your Scriptures and to soak in Your word. Amen.

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God’s Way

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

(Isaiah 30:21)

Reflection:

David, in his Song of Praise to God, rejoiced that,

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.” (2 Samuel 22:31)

It sums up what we need to know and gives us both a direction and a foundation for our faith for the future.

 Adam and Eve got it wrong and went off on their own way, following the words of the tempter. It brought disaster. At Mount Sinai the Israelites were offered the choice of God’s way again, a way that included wonderful blessings and privileges, as well as the fulfillment of the promises of God made both to their forefathers and to themselves. Again and again in their history we read that God’s way brought blessing and the world’s ways brought suffering. Jesus, tempted in the desert, established that the way that He lived His life was important if the end that God had in mind was to be achieved. He chose God’s way, and later could say that He spoke only the words that God gave to Him, and did “exactly what My Father has commanded me.” (John 14:31)

 God does not watch us impassively from a distance. He is involved with each and every one of His children, guiding them into the right direction and the correct ways. He has given us the assurance of His word,

  • “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)
  • “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)
  • “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)

 The truth is that God does not want us to go astray, nor does He wish us to wander aimlessly in a desert of confusion. He gives us guidance. To start with we have the words of God contained in Scripture, particularly those of Jesus in the Gospels. There is also the teaching of the writers of the New Testament letters. They build on this teaching, which is still as relevant to our lives today as it ever was. In addition we have the blessing of prayer, as we respond to Jesus call to Ask, Seek and Knock. We can and should ask for guidance, expecting that the God who is our Father will answer us. The answer may come through a direct word to us, through Scripture, through a third person or through a developing understanding. The more we seek God and His direction the more we will find ourselves able to discern His response. That response will never be contrary to His word in Scripture.

 Jesus taught us that our priority is to

“seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

God’s Kingdom, where His will is done on earth as it is in heaven, is the purpose to which we have been called. He will lead us and guide us to that end. Our challenge is to identify His way and to live it out. The more we walk in His ways the more we will be able to discern the way ahead.

Response:

Read the New Testament and begin to note the directions. As you do pray for God’s help to make them a part of your life. Choose to walk in God’s Way this week.

Prayer:

Father God, Your way is the perfect way. Please help me to desire it, to identify it, and to increasingly live it, for Jesus sake. Amen.

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Listen – for I Speak

“The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

(1 Samuel 3:10)

Reflection:

Samuel was the last of the judges and the earliest of the prophets after Moses. Through his ministry God chose and anointed the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David, which would have been about 1020 – 1000 BC).

 Samuel was born as God’s answer to the desperate prayer of Hannah, a wife of Elkanah, who was childless. She promised God that if He gave her a son she would ‘give him to the Lord for all the days of his life.’ The Lord heard her prayer and Samuel was born. When he had been weaned she took him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh and gave him into the care of the priest named Eli. Every year she would ‘make him a little robe’ and take it to him there where he ‘ministered to the Lord under Eli the priest.’

 One night whilst Samuel was lying in the temple, near the ark of the covenant, God came to him and called him. Three times Samuel thought that it was Eli and ran to him. Eli realised what was happening and on the fourth occasion, as Eli had instructed him, Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ God then told Samuel what He was going to do, particularly in response to the sins of Eli’s sons. Thereafter,

“The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.”  (1 Samuel 3:19-21)

 Samuel’s prophetic ministry was powerful and effective leading the nation to turn from its idolatry and also being set free from the Philistine yoke. He was also a powerful intercessor, exercised the ministry of a priest and acted as a judge ‘all the days of his life’ even under the monarchy. He was sent specifically by God to anoint Saul as the first king and, later, David as his successor after the Lord had rejected Saul because of his disobedience. That he listened to, and heard, God is very clear from the account of his anointing of David when on more than one occasion he was impressed by the physical appearance of one of David’s older brothers, only to hear the Lord say,

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)

  Samuel is an example to us in a number of ways. He was born as an answer to prayer and himself interceded on behalf of the nation and of others. He heard God when He spoke the first time and listened for Him and to Him thereafter. He did not rely on his own judgement but, even when he thought he knew the answer, looked to the Lord for confirmation – as in the anointing of David. It is also clear that he was totally committed to the Lord and a man of great faith. He was of obvious integrity and was both respected and trusted by the nation, for when he died ‘all Israel assembled and mourned for him.’

 Response:

Train yourself to listen for God and to Him  – as you look at nature, read Scripture, and go about your daily routine and duties. Talk to Him and ask of Him. Sometimes just pause to be aware of Him.

 Prayer:

Father I am in Your presence all the time. Your eye is upon me, Your ear is open to me, and Your heart waits for me. Please help me to be aware of You and to respond to You. Amen.

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