The Soaring Eagle

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


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God not you

“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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Joy in the Lord

“May your saints sing for joy….
her saints will ever sing for joy”
(Psalm 132:9-16)

Reflection:
The psalmist prays that the saints of God will ‘sing for joy’ – and records the Lord’s commitment that this will be so.

This then takes us to the teaching of the Lord Jesus who said that

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete”
(John 15:11)

The joy to which the Lord refers is that which He has in His relationship with the Father and now that we also may have, may know and may enjoy.

We do not see much true joy around us at the moment. Our lives become coloured by the state of the world at large and of our own personal world which may be very challenging and difficult.

The true riches that have been given to us, and the one unceasing source of joy, are to be found in our relationship with God. He is the Almighty Father of ‘unfailing love’ and ‘invincible strength’ who has committed Himself to us in this world and the next. Our journey is secure because He is with us and our destination guaranteed because He is taking us there.

To find and know His joy in the midst of the challenges of our present journey is not the result of more learning but comes from seeking to develop our own personal relationship with Him. It comes from opening our hearts to Him in prayer and giving Him time and opportunity to speak to us through His Word and His Spirit. It comes from consciously putting our faith and trust in Him and keeping it there. It comes from trusting His love and His grace at all times. In other words – we walk closely and intimately with Him and in doing so discover the joy that He brings to our lives. It is lovely and informative to see how David did this and recorded it in his Psalms.

Response:
Talk – Read – Listen – Trust

Prayer:

Lord I long to relax into the peace and security of Your love for me. Please help me to seek a closer relationship with You. Amen.

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Trust Him

“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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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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