The Soaring Eagle

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


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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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I Belong

“But our citizenship is in heaven.
And we eagerly await a Saviour from there,
the Lord Jesus Christ”
(Philippians 3:20)

 

Reflection:
Jonathan Sacks makes the statement in his book, Not in God’s Name, that ‘the twenty-first century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning.’ He goes on to state that ‘the most fundamental of human needs (is) the search for identity.’ The world around us is filled with people seeking or attempting to establish an identity in many different ways, including corruption and violence.

Jesus meets this very great need in His life and death and in His teachings and ministry. And it is small wonder that He drew to Himself so many of the lost, lonely and marginalised of society –  whose lives had lost value and meaning and who were no longer acceptable in their own eyes or in the eyes of those around them. No one and nothing else has anything of lasting value to offer.

Consider these statements:

  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
  • “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
  • “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”  (John 1:12)
  • “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16)

Here is an identity beyond and above all others that we might have or to which we might aspire. Through faith in Jesus Christ we become the daughters and sons of the Lord God Almighty. This is an eternal and intimate relationship which nothing and no one can reverse or destroy. No matter what upheavals there may be in the world, our nation, community or personal and family life that identity, once established, is eternal.

  • “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)
  • “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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)

In the Lord Jesus Christ we have the certain promise, underlined by the gift and witness of the Holy Spirit in our lives, that through faith in Him we become and are for eternity the sons and daughters of the living God, our beloved Father. Our response is to accept and own that gift and promise. It gives us our true and eternal identity.

Response:
Own your identity.  As a Christian you belong to God – He will never lose you or let go of you.

Prayer:

Lord God Almighty, You are my Father and I am Your child in Jesus Christ. Please help me to accept and own that wonderful gift of my new and eternal identity, and in it to be at peace. Amen.

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Watching for the Son

“My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
(Psalm 130:6)

Reflection:
Those who have watched and waited through the night will know the dark and forlorn hours between 02h00 and 04h00. The world can quieten to such an extent that even the sound of a car in the distance is sad and lonely. The moonlight is colder, the night becomes darker and a deeper chill seems to settle on everything – including one’s thoughts and emotions. Those who watch or guard, and those willing the night to end, will scan the eastern horizon for the first signs of the new day’s sun.

The lonely psalmist cries out to the Lord for forgiveness and help. With more hope and intent even than the watchman who looks for the coming dawn he looks for signs of the Lord’s coming to him. Such is his certainty in the Lord’s love and forgiveness that he watches and waits with more assurance than the one who looks to the sunrise. In fact, more certain for him is the response and coming of the Lord than the dawn of a new day.

For the Christian this also is true for, in terms of Jesus prophecy of His coming like a thief in the night, there will be a day when there is no dawn except for that of the Light of the world, the One who as ‘the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.’ (Malachi 4:2)

In the dark and lonely times of life we need to remember the coming of the Lord as Saviour, His promise to come again as King, and His commitment, in between, to be with us always. Whatever the darkness may be that may flow into our life from time to time the Lord is near. He is our Light and our Life. He comes to us and He keeps on coming – as the Shepherd looking for His sheep, as the Lord walking through the wind and waves into the very heart of our storm, and as the Father running to welcome us home again.

Because He is God – Our Father, our Saviour and our Lord – and because of His great and eternal love for us, He will respond to our cries for help. He always hears us, He always responds and He always helps us through the darkness and into His light.

Response:
Bring any darkness to the Lord. Ask for His light, love and life to help you through. Be still before Him and trust Him.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, Light of the world, be the Light in my life now and always. Amen.

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God at work

“It is God who works in you to will and to act
according to his good purpose”
(Philippians 2:13)

Reflection:
The full extent of the love and grace and majesty of God is awe-inspiring.

He has a purpose and plan for His creation which very much includes us. He has been working towards the fulfillment of this plan from the beginning and has elected to do so by involving the people whom He has chosen. Notwithstanding the fact that they – and we – have at times gone horribly astray and got things terribly wrong He has nevertheless worked in them for good.

As He calls us into relationship with Him we become an active part of the outworking of His purpose. To enable us to take our proper place He gives us, through the Holy Spirit, the particular gifts that we will need and that He wants to see at work in our situations. These are not haphazard but carefully chosen and endowed. With them, and also through the Holy Spirit, He gives us the guidance and strength we need to be a part of His ministry.

Because we remain a work in progress we very often continue to get things wrong and to complicate everything with our own desires and agendas – both individually and corporately and as the Church. But God – our loving, forgiving and  patient God – keeps on working with us and is able in time to change our wills and the Church’s will, and to re-direct our actions and the Church’s actions, until His purpose has been achieved.

And because it is God’s purpose that is being worked out we have the confidence of knowing that is will be achieved in all its fullness. Whether through our human frailty,  obstinacies or inadequacies, or through the active opposition of others, there is no obstruction of barrier that will fatally impede of impair this work.

My contribution might seem to be completely insignificant and not worth the effort. However in God’s eyes it is of great value – which is why He built it and me into His great vision and design. And this is true of each and every me who reads this.

Response:
I have a significant purpose in this year and in this life – and an eternal position in the next.

Prayer:

Lord God You have called me – help me please to will and to act according to Your good purpose. Amen.

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Foundation Three

“What may be known about God is plain to them,
because God has made it plain to them.
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”
(Romans 1:19-20)

Reflection:
God is omnipotent – His power is unlimited and eternal. We see something of it in the glory and extent of His creation and in the power that has sustained and developed it over the ages. He is able to do whatever He wishes in order to achieve His will and purpose, no matter what the circumstances at the time – as Scripture records. And as the Angel Gabriel said to Mary,

“Nothing is impossible with God” 
(Luke 1:37)

God is omnipresent – He is fully present everywhere.  He is not spread out over His creation so that parts of Him are in different places. All of Him is present everywhere all the time – with all of His supreme glory, authority and power.

God is omniscient – He is all-wise and all-knowing. He has a perfect awareness of everything that has happened, is happening and will happen everywhere, in heaven, upon earth and throughout His vast creation. He knows the full details of every person’s life – who they are, why they are, how they are, what they are, what they have done, are doing and will do – as well as every thought of yesterday, today and tomorrow and what has given rise to such thoughts. He knows and understands each and every one of us fully and completely.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD”
(Psalm 139:1-4)

God has a plan and a purpose for His creation and His people. He has been and is at work in history, in ways we may not see or understand, to accomplish His purposes. Because He has allowed us, and respects our, free will we are not His slaves or puppets – rather He invites us to be a part of the journey with Him. The fact that history is filled with tragedy and trauma is an indication of how that free-will has often been exercised. However He is still supremely God and will ensure that indeed His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This is the God who has invited us to call Him Father as we become His daughters and sons – and the One who has promised us 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)
  • “nothing .. in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)

Response:
Receive and lay your third foundation stone for the year – God is able to look after me

Prayer:

Father Almighty, forgive me for the times when I doubt Your love and commitment to me. Please help me to entrust myself into the fullness of Your loving care and protection. Amen.

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I Believe

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
 that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life”
(John 3:16)

Reflection:
Consider these three key statements.

  • “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16)
  • “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”  (John 1:12)
  • “Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”  (John 6:29)

It is important to note that we are not told to believe about Jesus but to go much further – to believe in Him. We can believe about something without it impacting our lives. To believe in something – or in this case someone – is to have it as a central core and foundation of our lives. James made this clear when he wrote that even the demons believed about God.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder” (James 2:19)

When we celebrate the birth of Christ at this time of the year it is not because it is fun – nor is it because it is a great historical event – nor even because it gives us pleasure, like the warmth of the sun after a cold night. We celebrate the birth of the Saviour of the World, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the One who is to die in our place and who rises again to give us new and eternal life. Our lives are to be so closely bound up in and interwoven with Him that His life becomes our life and ours an expression of His.

We are not asked to admire Him as some rare creation preserved and seen through the protective barrier of a glass cage – nor are we to get excited about Him as if he were a great entertainer performing for our delight and amazement on a distant stage. Instead we are expected to come to Him, to engage with Him, to open our live to Him and to invite and allow Him into every part of us – giving to Him the authority to do whatever He wishes and trusting Him that it will all be for the best.

In other words we are asked to place our full trust and faith in Him – believing in Him to such an extent that we can surrender our past to Him, live our present with Him, and entrust our future to Him, no matter what may be happening in our world at the time and in the world around us.

Response:
Faith is a decision and not a feeling. And so the great Creed begins with  “I believe in God …”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I do believe in You – help me to believe in You at all times and in all situations no matter how I may feel at the time. Amen.

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He sees me

“She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her:
“You are the God who sees me,”
(Genesis 16:13)

Reflection:
Hagar was Sarai’s Egyptian servant. When Sarah could not fall pregnant she told her husband Abram to “sleep with my maidservant, perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram did so and Hagar became pregnant. She then began to despise Sarai who treated her so badly that “she fled from her.”

The ‘angel of the Lord’ found her and came to her as she sat near a spring in the desert. He asked her where she had come from and where she was going. When she replied that she had run away he told her to go back to Sarai and then shared with her something of what the Lord would do for her son whom she was to call Ishmael.

Hagar called the Lord “You are the God who sees me.”

It is a wonderfully encouraging episode for us all – and in particular for anyone who feels that like Hagar they are in a lonely and desert period in their life with no one who cares and understands them and their pain.  The truth is that God does care and that He has a plan and purpose for our lives – even when we feel that we are outside of His main plans and purpose.

Hagar could tell Him where she had come from but not where she was going. God then gave her the directions she needed and, to her credit, she heard and obeyed Him. God always has a plan, purpose and direction for our lives.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you”
(Psalm 32:8)

Wherever we are physically, emotionally and spiritually the Lord sees us. He sees us in our completeness, in our yesterdays, our todays and our tomorrows. He sees and knows the lonely outcast in us for whom He cares.  And, He has a word for us – a word of direction and of encouragement – even if it is, like with Hagar – to remain where we have been for the time being.

We will know that He is with us and that our lives and times are within His hands.

Response:
Give the Lord some moments during your day. Tell Him where you are and how you feel. Ask Him for His help, strength and direction. Then spend some moments in a quiet stillness trusting His presence.

Prayer:

Lord God You see me and everything about me. Help me please Lord for I need Your love, Your direction and Your healing in my life. Amen.

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