The Soaring Eagle

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


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Press on

“Train yourself to be godly”
(1 Timothy 4:7)

Reflection:
Generally we do not grow up as Godly people. We may be raised and trained to behave within the boundaries of ‘common decency’ but that does not make us Godly – no matter how closely some of those values might relate to Scriptural standards. Even then amongst them all we will be amazed at how many of the principles and ways of the world have become a part of our lives and living, together with what Paul has just referred to as ‘godless myths and old wives tales.’

Godly living means looking for the commands and teachings of God, Jesus and the apostles in Scripture and intentionally seeking to make them a foundational part of our values and practices. It would include looking at the example of Jesus Himself and seeking to live after that model – for to be Godly is to be like God. In essence therefore everything that we think and say and do should increasingly be to God’s pleasure and glory.

We see the importance of this as we recognise that we are no longer children of the world but the daughters and sons of God Himself. Whilst salvation can be an immediate transformation our different way of life has to be learned and lived, consciously and purposefully, until it becomes a natural expression of our new and God-given identity. The closer we draw to the Lord Himself the more natural and inspired this will become – although there will still be some inward battles where we need to pray and keep on praying for the help and strengthening of the Holy Spirit.

Like Paul we know that we have

‘not .. already been made perfect, but I press on.’

Response:
Sanctification is a life-long journey. Take another step today.

Prayer:

Lord God help me to desire to be more like You and not to slumber in the ways of the world around me. Please inspire and strengthen me every day and protect me from falling back again. Amen.

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His Strength

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength,
that he considered me faithful,
appointing me to his service”
(1 Timothy 1:12)

Reflection:
It is a sobering thought that in calling and appointing us God considers us faithful – faithful to Him and to the particular ministry and mission to which He has called us and in which we will serve Him.

Notwithstanding his past God had now entrusted Paul with a new focus, way of life and ministry – and he trusted Paul to live it out. It is not that God left Paul to get on with it but He also gave to Paul the strength that he would need. In fact what was happening was that God was confident that He could carry out through Paul His plan and purpose and that Paul would be faithful enough to co-operate with and trust Him.

What God did with Paul and the others He does also with us – whether he calls us onto the international and public stage or the local and private one.  Our response is to have faith in Him and to be faithful to Him.

By ourselves no person “is good enough, or strong enough, or pure enough, or wise enough to be the servant of Christ. But, if they will give themselves to Christ, they will go, not in their own strength, but in the strength of their Lord.” (Barclay)

With Paul then we can indeed say that,

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

Response:
God will give me the strength today to deal with His purposes today

Prayer:

Lord I am weak – in body, mind and spirit – but You are strong and invincible. Help me to trust You for my today and tomorrows and allow You to work Your will in, through and around me. Amen.

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Personal Priority

“I urge, then, first of all,
that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for everyone
— for kings and all those in authority,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives
in all godliness and holiness.”

(Timothy 2:1-2)

Reflection:
Whatever the reason for the world being in the state that it is, there is an enormous burden of responsibility resting upon the shoulders of the present national leaders. From global warming to fragile economies to internal unrest and ongoing wars, coupled with a seeming deterioration in honesty and integrity, nothing appears to be simple. For better or for worse these are the men and women who will influence the lives of millions over the next few years.

It is no wonder that Paul calls us to prayer, and to pray specifically for ‘all those in authority. The reason is simple, so that we all ‘may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’ We know what they need – God’s help and direction, whether they are aware of it or not. Solomon prayed for wisdom so that he might govern and lead God’s people properly. His prayer pleased God who not only gave him such wisdom but many other blessings as well.

It is easy to bemoan the current state of affairs and to criticize the people in power. But, whether that criticism is justified or not, it will not change anything. Prayer might.

God has invited and instructed us to pray. The epistles call upon us to pray. Prayer asks God to be involved and to bring His will and wisdom to bear. Prayer tells God, and reminds us, that we need Him. Scripture records many instances where God has heard and responded to the prayers of His people. The world really needs it now – particularly as God seems to have been increasingly side-lined.

As Christians we are called to pray, and to pray intentionally that God’s will is done. We must not stop until it is.

Response:
Focus on some key leaders in your nation and church and pray for them every day – morning, noon and night. Pray that God will guide and lead them. Pray that they become believers. Ask others to join you.

Prayer:

Father, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven – in me, in my church, and in the leaders in our land. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

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Build Your Leaders

2016.05.05

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
(1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Reflection:
The world in which we live is in a very unhappy state. There is spreading violence both within and between nations. There is growing confrontation between the so-called great powers. There is the fear of the spread of viruses and disease. There are huge and growing numbers of displaced, homeless, abused and suffering people. There is racial and religious conflict. There is the ongoing carelessness about the environment. And societies are riddled with insecurity, fear and the breakdown of values and relationships.

We need help – God’s help. A South African Bishop has called on his people to pause every day at midday and to pray for the nation and the world. The prayer is not just that God will intervene in a mighty and miraculous way and make everything right and comfortable. It acknowledges that each one of us has a part to play in the solution and includes a prayer of commitment as well – to be available to be used by God as He will. Things need to change at all levels.

One of the prayers the Bishop suggested is this,

“Lord our world is hurting. Bring healing, and use me where you will.”

There are many other prayers, both general and specific, that will be suitable and everyone is capable of praying their own prayers from the heart. The Lord’s Prayer itself can be adapted to focus on nations, leaders, persons, and situations.

We do need to pray very specifically for all leaders – in Church and State – and particularly in our own situations.  However we also should pray for those who lead the nations of the world. Think of having a short list in the back of your diary or other convenient place and maybe even making one day of the week a ‘leadership day.’

Response:
Write your own prayers – and seek each day to share a blessing with someone else. Pray over the news. Persevere.

Prayer:

Please help us Father, we need You so much. Shine Your Light into all our hearts that we may turn to You and each other in love – and please bring healing and peace where it is so badly needed. Amen.

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Held Fast

2016.04.29

“Fight the good fight of the faith.
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called ”
(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 Jesus. He began to sink when he looked instead at the mountainous waves and allowed the fear inside him to well up.

Peter and Paul knew the reality of spiritual warfare and tell 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)
  • “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,

“Let me no more my comfort draw
From my frail hold on Thee;
In this alone rejoice with awe –
Thy mighty grasp on 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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God’s Grace

2015.10.08

“Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”
(2 Timothy 2:1)

Reflection:
The key to our Christian faith lies in our relationship with the Lord.

It is not sufficient to believe that there is one God. As James tells us “Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” (2:19) John puts the truth and intimacy of the relationship this way in order to illustrate its reality,

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1)

Whereas ‘the demons’ have only one expectation from God which fills them with fear Christians may have a totally different belief and hope. They see a God who has come to seek them, find them, call and save them, and bring them into a living and eternal relationship with Himself. He promises to be with them always and that nothing will now be able to separate them from Him or His love. He undertakes to bless then with His Holy Spirit and to equip, strengthen and empower them for the life into which He will lead them.

When Paul says that “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13) he is talking from his own experience of the wonderful reality of the love and presence of the Lord, who said also that,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Corinthians 12:9)

Whatever our particular need may be the answer is always to be found in the Lord – in His love, His truth, His power and His will – in the wonder of “the incomparable riches of His grace” that embraces us like the air that we breathe.

Response:
Practice living in the constant awareness of His grace and favour.

Prayer:

Lord please help me to trust Your love more than my own insecurities and fears. Amen.

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It could be me

2015.04.29b

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions
with all kinds of prayers and requests”

(Ephesians 6:18)

Reflection:
Scripture calls us to pray in many places – and not only for ourselves but for others as well.

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

There is terrible suffering in the world at the moment. The focus now is on Nepal. Some estimates put the death toll as high as 10 000. At the moment the confirmed figures are 4349 died and over 7 000 injured – with more information still to come in from remote villages. In addition the homes and lives of countless others have been devastated. Rescue workers are still battling to find and help those in need whilst specialised teams and supplies are just beginning to come in from elsewhere in the world. There is a long road of recovery and healing ahead with the fear that disease might take hold and spread. ‘Citing government figures, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said an estimated 8 million people have been affected by the quake in 39 of Nepal’s districts, and more than 1.4 million need food assistance, including 750,000 who live near the epicenter in poor quality housing.’

In addition to this the United Nations has warned of a ‘towering humanitarian crisis’, in what they say is the forgotten situation in the ‘strife-torn Central African Republic.’ ‘Since December 2013 nearly 900 000 people have been displaced, including more than 460 000 who have become refugees.’

These are only two areas. Our news reports refer to many others, including the agonies of countless individuals and families.

Please join in praying for these and other areas of need known to you. They involve real people – men, women and many, many children – who are crying out for help in their pain and suffering. We know what our God is capable of so we ask Him to intervene from His love in all these lives and situations. Many of the people may not know Him or be able to pray at the moment – we can do it for them, and keep on praying until the need is over.

Response suggestions:
Pray morning and evening. Set your phone alarm for midday and pray then. Pray as you hear or read the news. Pray whenever you hear a siren or see a need. Short prayers are fine. Be a person of prayer.

Prayer:

Father, please help me to pray for others as I would like them to pray for me if I were in their situations. As the men brought their friend to the feet of Jesus help us to bring them to You. Amen.

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