The Soaring Eagle

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


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My Big Brother

“Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me,
for I have not yet returned to the Father.
Go instead to my brothers and tell them,
`I am returning to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'”

(John 20:17)

Reflection:
There is a most wonderful and meaningful progression in the way that Jesus refers to His disciples. In the story of The Vine we see the first progression when He tells them that

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15)

Originally they would have been His servants. Now they have been elevated to the position of friends – which would have been very significant and a great honour. But more was to come and this could only happen after He had dealt with their sins on the Cross and brought them into a completely new relationship with God as their eternal Father. Now He could, and indeed did, refer to them as “My brothers”.

This was their, and is now our, true and complete relationship with God. We are His eternal sons and daughters and Jesus is our eternal brother. So complete is this adoption that we have now become joint heirs with Christ of all that God is and has.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:15-17)

This must affect the way in which we think about God and relate to Him in our thoughts and prayers. I am no longer on the outside – looking hopefully in through the window. I am now forever entitled to be in His presence, freely and welcomed, honoured and blessed. I am the son/daughter of the Living God and His Son is my Brother.

And note that Jesus puts us on the same level as Himself when He refers to “My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” We are not second class family members we are there at the top with our Lord Jesus – from the moment that we give our lives to Him as our Saviour and Lord.

Response:
Let the truth sink in  – and thank and praise God for the wonder of it.

Prayer:

Father, my Father, my Abba, my Dad – thank You so very much for loving me back into life and bringing me home to You. You are so amazingly wonderful!

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At His Name

“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth”
(Philippians 2:10)


Reflection:

A great many people battle with invasive thoughts. Appearing to come in from nowhere they are unwelcome and intrude into our prayers and into our lives. They may be angry, fearful, negative, critical, lustful and even insulting to God. No matter how hard we try to ignore them, push them away or concentrate they seem to find a way through. We may end up feeling guilty, angry with ourselves and inadequate as Christians. We may despair of ever overcoming them.

The first step towards healing is to realise that this is a spiritual battle. As such it cannot be fought and won in our own strength of mind – which is what we so often try to do. What we need is the power of the Lord which He makes available to us.

  • “For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

  • “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
    On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

    “and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19)

The second step is to use the weapons He gives us. It is at the name of Jesus that every knee must bow. Repeating that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ is a statement of faith and a statement of His power. When they meet it any foreign spiritual activity must give way.

People have found this to be immediately helpful in two ways. Firstly, when entering into any activity where there has been a problem in the past – such as praying – it helps to start by saying to oneself a number of times, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Repeat it again if you sense that you are becoming vulnerable or if any unwelcome thoughts come through. The difference it has made has been remarkable – Praise God! Secondly, if you find yourself under attack at any time during the day in any way repeat again “Jesus Christ is Lord” a few times – silently or aloud.

Response:
Use the resources and power that God makes available – don’t try to live without them.

Prayer:

Father thank You so much that You make available to me all that I need for my life with You. Help me to walk in Your love and power and to know the freedom that it brings. Amen.

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Stay Close

“What kind of man is this?
Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
(Matthew 8:27)

 

Reflection:
The disciples had been on an amazing journey with the Lord. They had listened to the awe-inspiring Sermon on the Mount, watched Him cleanse the lepers, heard Him heal the Centurion’s servant from a distance, looked on as he healed Peter’s mother in law, drove out demons and healed the sick.

Now when their boat was in danger of sinking in the storm on the lake He ‘got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.’  If all that had gone before was not surprising enough this display of power and authority stunned them. Amazed they asked,

“What kind of man is this?”

What kind of man is He to us – this ‘Son of God’, ‘Son of Man’, ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’, ‘our great God and Saviour’?

In the strange world in which we live He has become to some a pale and distant figure, a casual acquaintance, a legalistic judge and a lifeless word. And yet He is a vibrant reality. He is the revelation of the Father, the One through whom all things were made, the bearer of our sins, the risen and ascended Saviour and the King eternal. He is the One –

“God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
(Philippians 2:9-11)

He is the Father’s response and solution to every single situation and condition of humankind – both corporate and individual. It is no wonder that He said Himself,

“Apart from me you can do nothing”
(John 15:5)

Whatever challenge we might be facing or burden we might be carrying or sin we might be battling the Way forward, the Truth that sets us free and the Life that lies ahead is to be found in and through the Lord Jesus and our relationship with Him.

Response:
Honour Him, worship Him, pray to Him, trust Him and obey Him.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus I turn to You in my need and the needs of those dear to me. You alone are everything that I seek and desire. Please help me Lord through Your great love and mighty power and authority. Amen.

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What Cost?

“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked,
“Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
(Matthew 19:16)

 

Reflection:
In contrast to the woman at the well and the thief on the cross who had lost everything of value – this man had very much. We are told that he had ‘great wealth.’ He was a leader and respected member of the community.

The others had lost any social position they might once have had – they were ‘naked and empty’ before the Lord. This man was in a different position. He saw his need of gaining eternal life. However he looked more at what He could do to earn it rather than what he could get rid of to receive it. When challenged by Jesus he went away sad.

To some an encounter with the Lord brings great blessing – to others sadness and even anger. At the heart of it is the confrontation that it brings to our view of our self-worth, our possessions and our social position. Afraid of losing what we value we fail to value this greatest of all gifts. For this Jesus was crucified.

We cannot earn or buy our salvation – we can only receive it with open and uncluttered hearts.

Response:
Do not be fixated about what you will one day lose. Entrust yourself to the One who will never lose you.

Prayer:

Lord help me to see where my priorities lie – and to give You my love and trust. Amen.

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The Lord!

“But what about you?” he asked.
“Who do you say I am?”
(Matthew 16:15)

 

Reflection:
Jesus had asked His disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They responded that some said He was John the Baptist come back to life, others that He was Elijah and still others that He was Jeremiah or one of the prophets. No one was clear as to His real identity – except the spirits that He cast out of people.

Now Jesus asked them the key question, challenging them to make up their own minds about Him. They may well have been silent for a while as they waited for someone else to make the first commitment. Unsurprisingly it was Peter who spoke first, with an answer that Jesus told Him was not of man but a revelation of God.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
(Matthew 16:16)

Human categories and interpretations are inadequate and incomplete when they attempt to describe Jesus Christ. The human mind cannot by itself reach to the heights required. For each of us the discovery of Jesus Christ has to be a personal discovery revealed to us by God. It can never be the acquired second-hand for then it will never live within us. To know about Jesus is insufficient, we are called to, and given the opportunity of, knowing Him for ourselves. Then instead of passing on what others think we can give a personal verdict as Peter did.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And, as the fullness of His identity blossomed within them,

“they worshipped him”
(Luke 24:52)

Response:
Wherever we are our vision is incomplete, and too much of it is in our own image – ask the Lord to bring you deeper and closer.

Prayer:

Lord, open my eyes and understanding increasingly to the wonderful reality of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

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Press On

“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
 let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us”
(Hebrews 12:1)

Reflection:
We are not alone in this life. We know from His promise that the Lord is with us, and the Holy Spirit within us, at all times. But there are more. There are the living memories of those who before us were faithful witnesses to the truth and glory and salvation of God. Some of them suffered enormously but they held on to their faith and trust in God to the very end.

However it seems that the writer also presents them as being now witnesses to our lives and living. He portrays them as former athletes filling a great stadium and cheering and urging the present athletes on as they strive with every fibre of their being to successfully complete the race for which they have been selected. It is a magnificent picture and one that should fill us with hope, faith and encouragement.

Then of course there are also our fellow athletes. Life is not a competition against them but alongside our fellow believers against the distractions and prejudices and participants in a fallen world. The encouragement we receive along the way from someone running next to us, and the encouragement we can give to others by our words and example, are of inestimable value.

So as you face the future don’t give up or ease off. No matter the dark clouds around you or the sense of isolation that comes and tempts you with hopelessness – keep going. Lift you head to the whispered encouragement of the Lord, turn your ear to the calls of encouragement from Abraham, Joshua and David, Mary, Mary Magdalen and Peter and press on.

There is no going back, your starting point does not exist anymore. You are a pilgrim well into your journey and the goal gets closer every day.

Response:
With God’s help I can

Prayer:

Lord help me to be aware of you as I run my race, to know that You are always with me and that You will give me the strength and encouragement that I need and can pass on to others. Amen.

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Always and forever

“Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
(Psalm 90:2)

Reflection:
In the eternity before time as we know it began – there was God. In the eternity after time as we know it has ceased – there will be God. In the time in between – there is God. Always and ever there is, has been and will be God.

It is God’s will and power that created. It is God’s will and power that sustains. It is God’s will and power that redeems. It will be God’s will and power that resurrects. Always it is God.

There is no other God. There never has been. There never will be. God laughs at man’s efforts to create one or to be one. The first have no life in them. The second cannot keep themselves alive. Man may decide that there is no God – but still there is God and always will be.

We cannot find God. He reveals Himself. We were created in His image. Sin has separated and distorted us. There is an unquenchable longing within us. We know it but cannot identify it. It is Godless. The emptiness calls out. Only God can find it – heal it – fill it.

God. Always and only – God. He calls us to come home to Him even as He comes to make His home with us.

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23)

Response:
God calls. Listen.

Prayer:

Father God, always You call me to You. Help me to come – and to keep coming – and to know You (more) as Father. Amen.

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