The Soaring Eagle

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


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I will make you

“The LORD had said to Abram,
 “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household
and go to the land I will show you”
(Genesis 12:1)

 

Reflection:
There are two incidents in the life of Abraham that are of significance to each one of us today.

The first is God’s call. Essentially God was calling him to leave his past behind him and to travel with God to a place that God would reveal. It is very similar to Jesus call of His first disciples.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

We all have a past that we carry with us. It will contain successes and failures, pain and joy, hopes and fears. Jesus calls us into a life which is focussed on Him. It is a new life and not to be crippled by the things of the past. It is a life in which He forgives and heals us of the burdens of the past and opens to us the potential of the present and the future.

The second is God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. This was the more startling because Isaac was the child of promise. It was to be through Isaac that God’s promises to Abraham were to be fulfilled and the future nations blessed for all eternity.

In both cases God’s challenge to Abraham and to us is to let go of the shadow of the past (which we cannot change) and the vision of the future (which we cannot bring about) and to live only for God each day. Jesus put it like this,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”  (Matthew 6:25-34)

He is not suggesting that we be lazy or careless but that we get our focus right and then live accordingly with God instead of for ourselves.

Response:
Who is really my priority?

Prayer:

Lord I know the truth and the Truth – please help me to surrender my past into Your forgiveness and my future into Your provision and live with You today. 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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The Lord will

“He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 1:6)

Reflection:
Whatever may be happening – or not happening – in your life at the moment one thing is certain. God is at work. What He started in our salvation He will continue developing until it is completed. He will not cease until He can look into us and say with satisfaction “It is very good.”

The true quality of our life is not measured by what is happening around us or to us. It is what is happening within us that is vital. We will not always be aware of it – and sometimes will feel that we are not making progress. But that itself is an indication that God is at work and has effected some change within. As uncomfortable as it might be it is a step forward. He will be preparing the next one for us, and us for it.

In our life there will be some easy paths and some difficult challenges. All will lead us onwards and will be used by God to build us and to grow us in our relationship with and trust of Him. To trust in the Lord is to trust Him with every aspect of our lives all the time.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

In many ways we are still spiritual infants. Like a good parent God will guide us forward into and through the different stages of growth and development. He will be with us in all the times of success and failure, sickness and health, sadness and joy, despair and faith.  Having called us He will never desert us – even when we prove difficult! He has invested Himself in us, nothing can separate us from Him and His love, and He will work in all things for good in our lives as His children.

He is with you now. Hold on to Him, persevere with Him and trust Him in all things.

Response:
Trust is a decision, take it. A mustard seed of faith is enough for a great God.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank You so much for what You have already done in my life, and for Your most wonderful sacrifice on the cross. Please help me to trust You more and more – knowing that You have not finished Your work in me yet, but that You will. Amen.

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Trust

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

Reflection:
To ‘lean on our own understanding’ is to limit everything to the level of our perception.  When life is painful we tend to fear that it will always be that way – or even worse.  A good example of this is the account of the Israelites in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. No matter how much God did for them they never trusted Him for the next challenge.

So here we are urged to lift our eyes, to change our focus and enlarge our vision.  The one who loves us and has called us to Himself is the Lord God Almighty. He is the all-powerful one; He is the one who is called ‘Love’; He is the one who at huge personal cost has invited us to become His daughters and His sons; He is the one who in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit has promised to be with us always. He is also the one who in any and every situation and circumstance knows the best way forward –

“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)

In every road on which we find ourselves, in every challenge we face, in every situation that threatens us, in every task we undertake, in every relationship in which we are involved  – in fact ‘in all our ways’ – we need the Lord. Our first step is to acknowledge Him with His love and His power, and then to ask Him for His guidance, help and strength. The answer is then certain – He will become involved and He will take us forward and He will bless us.

The sooner we start with involving the Lord in our everyday lives, decisions and responses the more natural it will become if and when things get really challenging.

Response:
Whatever you do, feel or think today – ask the Lord to guide and help you.

Prayer:

Lord God my life is in Your hands and any merits that I might appear to have are in fact Your mercies. Please be with me and guide and help me through the light and the darkness, the days and the nights of my life – and help me to stay very close to You at all times. Amen.

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Speak to me

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said.
“Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
(John 19:10)

Reflection:
Again with Pilate Jesus answered some of his direct questions but did not respond to the accusations brought against Him. He was not going to fight the process ordained by God nor to squabble with the religious leaders.

Pilate was afraid of the anger of the chief priests, officials and the crowd. He was alarmed by reports that Jesus was said to be the King of the Jews and startled by the accusations that He ‘claimed to be the Son of God.’

However when he said that he ‘found no basis for a charge against him’ he was shouted down and even threatened by the crowd.

“Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar”  (John 19:12)

In some frustration he confronted Jesus with the above questions, amazed that He did nothing to try and secure His release. Jesus knew that in fact Pilate was not strong enough to exercise this authority in His favour. Nevertheless He responded,

“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above”  (John 19:11)

Pilate was like a mouse caught in a glass cage. Twisting and turning he sought a way out as the serpentine coils of the crowd curled tighter and tighter around his space. Eventually he would give up to save himself – just as many still do.

In each of us there may be something of Pilate, something of the crowd, something of the religious leaders – until the love and grace and Spirit of the Lord transforms us. But how would they have felt on that day and afterwards?  Is the Poet Stanislaw Jerzy Lee correct when he says,

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible”?

There was certainly an avalanche of inflamed hostility against Jesus that day.

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Silent Trust

“Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people”
(John 18:12-14)

Reflection:
Having won the battle and overcome temptation Jesus now walked calmly into His future. Matthew makes this clear as He records Jesus words to the disciple with a sword.

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”  (Matthew 26:52-54)

With that He was led away. His disciples deserted Him there and fled. They fled into the darkness of their own fear.

Twelve legions of angels armed and ready. But He did not call for them. Later on the cross He was taunted by the chief priests, but He did not respond to them.

“The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him” (Matthew 27:41-42)

Jesus let God’s will play itself out around and through Him. He needed no defence for being on the right path. He would do nothing to avoid it.

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7)

And so He sat quietly in the courtyard of the high priest’s house – and waited. Before another day had passed the pain and the trauma would be over. These were moments of stillness before the guards began to mock and beat Him – relieving their boredom by playing with the Son of God. And still He said nothing.

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Faith Prayer

2017-02-27

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

 

Reflection:
Years ago when I was praying one morning the Lord suddenly interrupted me with the words,

“Do not come to me as a beggar, come as a son!”

Apart from startling me His words gave me a lot to think about. A beggar pleads – hoping to persuade. A son asks – confident in a positive response. A beggar does not know what he may or may not request. A son does because He knows his Father.

God has given us a number of promises. One of these is,

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go”

When we are in need of direction we can ask the Lord for guidance because of His promise. As His children we can keep on praying until we receive the answer – but not as one begging and trying to stir the Lord into action. After our initial request our prayer can change from asking to believing, for now it is not a question of ‘If’ but ‘When’. Something like this,

Father, you have promised to instruct and teach me in the way that I should go (or act or respond in these circumstances). Help me to recognise and receive Your guidance as it comes.

It keeps the prayer alive – which is good for a number of reasons. It is also a statement of faith to the Lord and a reminder to ourselves. Then we watch and wait for the answer – through Scripture, in a word, through a new understanding, a word of advice etc.

Another promise of God’s is 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)

Here again we need to ask God to do so in some of the situations that worry us. Then we should look to change our request to a positive affirmation. For example,

Lord You have promised to work for our good in all things. As You work a blessing through this situation open my/our eyes to see Your hand at work.

Finally, try praying the other side of the Lord’s Prayer as well, such as,

  • Lord I believe that somehow Your will is being done in me and in my times – please help me to be a part of it.
  • Lord Jesus I believe that behind all this Your Kingdom is being established in a glorious way – help me to be a part of it
  • Lord God Almighty I believe that Your name will be universally honoured above all other names – help me to be one who does so now.

Prayer:

Lord help me to look for You in all the areas that cause me to fret and, holding them and myself before You, trust that You are with me. Amen.

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