The Soaring Eagle

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


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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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Anchored in Christ

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,
where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.”
(Hebrews 6:19-20)

 

Reflection:
In the ancient world the anchor was the symbol of hope. Wisdom, great-heartedness and courage were seen as anchors that few storms could shake. However the writer to the Hebrews insists that the Christian possesses the strongest anchor as the greatest hope in the world.

Our hope is in Jesus Christ. In Him it is now anchored in the very presence of God Himself.

In the Temple the Holy of Holies was the most sacred place of all. It was here that God was believed to dwell. Separated from the remainder of the Temple by a heavy curtain only the High Priest was allowed to enter. This was once a year on the Day of Atonement. Now, the writer tells us, Jesus has entered into that Holy Presence on our behalf. In doing so He has opened the way to God for every man at any time. No barrier now separates us from the Almighty Father. It was torn apart as Jesus died on the Cross.

Jesus is our immovable anchor in the presence of God Himself. We are bound to Him by the unbreakable rope of faith. Jesus is also the anchor in our spirits. Here the love and acceptance of God is eternally secured within us through the Holy Spirit.

Although we are called to a new way of life and living we no longer have to strive for acceptance. As Christians we belong. We may enter into the presence of God, into His heart of love, into His arms of acceptance, whenever we wish. Which is why He can say to us,

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength.”

(Isaiah 30:15)

Response:
Put your faith and trust in our great Lord. Imagine the unbreakable bond that secures you to Him, and Him to you.

Prayer:

O Yes Lord Jesus! I believe – help my unbelief. Thank You so much that 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) Amen.

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Loved

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love.”
(1 John 4:16)

Reflection:
John says of God’s children that we both “know and rely on the love God has for us.” This means that it has become more than just news. It is now real and personal, recognised and believed, received and trusted. God’s intention that we know it for ourselves is beautifully underlined in Paul’s great and glorious prayer:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 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 3:16-19)

It may seem to us that love that can be switched on and off by others to indicate approval and displeasure. This is very manipulative and many children and adults live extremely insecure lives as a result. God’s love is not like this, because He is not like that. It is vital that, as the children of God, we know that we can always rely on God’s love for us. That means that when we flounder, fail or sin He does not stalk off in a frozen huff. Instead He holds out His hand to us – to raise us up, receive our admission, convey His forgiveness and lead us forward again.

How do we get to know and rely upon this love? We cannot manufacture it for it comes only from God Himself.

  • “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5)
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Galatians 5:22)

We will only know the love of God if the presence of God is within us. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come and be in us. Paul prays that “Christ may dwell in your hearts.” They are both referring to an intimate and complete relationship with God – not one in which we remain in control of our lives and treat God as a consultant or a ‘medic on call’. The less of our lives we give to God the less of His life and love we will enjoy. The more that God is allowed full access within us, and to our lives, the more He will be allowed and enabled to pour His love into us in all its fullness.

Response:
At this very moment Jesus will be knocking (Rev 3:20) on the rooms in your life into which He has not had full access before. Kneel before Him, invite Him into every single part and aspect of your life, ask Him to be your Saviour and Lord in the fullest sense, and to lead you in His Way, His Truth and His Life. Then personalise Paul’s prayer above to yourself and pray it regularly. God bless you.

Prayer:

Father help me always to remember that You are love and that You love me totally and unconditionally. Please come into every part of my life, pouring Your love into my heart, and helping me to believe, receive and live in it. Amen.

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Sheltered

“In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by”
(Psalm 57:1 ESV)

Reflection:
Jesus warned us that there would be faith-challenging times in our lives. But His promise to be with us always built upon the promise of God to His holy people.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

This is a magnificent promise but it too reveals the reality of testing periods in our lives. When such times are upon us they can appear as violent storms that threaten to play havoc with our emotions, our minds and our spirits. Whether large scale national events, local community events or very personal and individual experiences they may result in turmoil within us.

Elijah knew something of this when, having fled from the threat on his life to the mountain of the Lord, he experienced what seemed to be earth-shattering events as he hid in the cave.

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)

It was then, after all this had taken place, that there came a gentle whisper to which he could relate.

Sometimes the only response we can have in the storms of life is to turn into the Lord and to wait there until the tempest has played itself out. Whatever the particular challenge we hold onto Him in prayer whilst striving to remain faithful to our daily duties and responsibilities. At some stage the storm-clouds will break and the rays of the sun will appear. The time may be right for us to hear the gentle whisper of God speaking into us – and speaking words of love, encouragement and guidance.

Response:
Hold on to the Lord – he will see you through life’s storms

Prayer:

Lord save us in the time of trial and deliver us from evil. Amen.

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Nothing to fear

 

“And now, dear children, continue in him,
so that when he appears we may be confident
and unashamed before him at his coming”
(1 John 2:28)

Reflection:
John reminds us of what we know but are inclined to treat lightly – Jesus Christ is coming again.  He will come in glorious power and majesty and we will see Him as He truly is. Whether our bodies have already died or whether we will still be living here when it takes place it will be an unimaginably momentous occasion.

When it happens we do not want to be amongst those who try to flee in terror – nor do we wish to be amongst those who are nervously hopeful. Instead John holds out to us the possibility of our being ‘confident and unashamed’. Not fearing for ourselves we can enjoy the breath-taking spectacle of His glory and worship Him with tears of joy and wonder. This is our Lord and God – He is ours and we are His and everything is beauty, wonder, love and joy.

The way for this to be our response is for us to ‘continue in Him’ here and now – for every moment of our earthly lives. This of course picks up what he records Jesus as saying in his Gospel.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you”
(John 15:4)

When we come to Him as our Saviour and our Lord we become a part of Him – like a branch being grafted into a vine. From then on we draw our life from Him and He expresses His life through us. Both Jesus who calls on us to ‘remain in Him’ and John who urges us to ‘continue in Him’ are talking of an ongoing and personal relationship which, having started, is to have no separation or end. The way to develop and express this new relationship is quite clear – we are to take Jesus and His teaching and increasingly make them a part of our lives as our Way and Truth and Life.

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love”

(John 15:10)

Note that we do not earn His love by our obedience for we have already entered into it.  Instead we express our love, gratitude and faith though our subsequent obedience and trust. As we become used to living in this intimate and life-giving relationship with the Lord His second coming can hold for us no fear – only the promise of an even closer and more wonderful life with Him in all its completeness and fullness.

Response:
Stay close to the Lord in this way and He will stay close to you

Prayer:

Lord You have made me a part of Your Life – help me to live in such a close and trusting relationship with You that neither death nor Your coming again can hold any fear for me. Amen.

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All I need

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

Reflection:
All my life I have lived in an environment of work and rewards, failure and consequences. A poor self-image did not help, and left me vulnerable to either fearing the worst or willing to believe the tempter’s whispers that I was not good enough. Any success or popularity surprised me and I could imagine that it would not last. Always there was the thought that I had not done enough to earn or retain God’s love. Sin devastated me – not just because of what it was, but because I felt that I might now be cast off by God. Why should He love me, and continue to love me, when I knew how unlovable I was, and how unworthy.

Slowly I began to learn that it was not all about me. It was about God. It was not a question of what I was like but of what God is like. It was not a test to see how much I loved God, but a revelation of how much He loves me. It was not even a matter of how much I achieved for Him, but of what He can achieve for me and through me and around me. That’s the trouble with insecurity and sin, it makes us the centre. The wonder of love is that someone else is the centre.

God’s grace at work – not telling us that sin does not matter; not telling us that our weaknesses are good. Just loving us, accepting the tiny amount of love for Him and faith that we have, and pouring out His smiling, laughing, thrilling, loving and forgiving Grace all the time. And, calling us always forward and closer to Him into the life that is truly Life, the way that is the only Way, the Truth that is beyond all truths.

Hear these words:

  • “I have loved you with an everlasting love”  (Jer 31:3)
  • “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:10)
  • “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9)
  • Nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39)

Response:
Just trust Him – His love, His sacrifice and His grace. Ask Him to help you. Stop looking at yourself – look at Him instead.

Prayer:

Father, Thank You for a love and grace that is beyond understanding. Please help me to allow You to fill me with Your love and grace and to live in their reality. Amen.

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