On Wings Of Eagles

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Scars

John 20:19-20 (ESV)
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

There is a story behind every scar that we have. Maybe it’s a reminder of back surgery that has helped to walk again. Perhaps a scar reminds you of an accident, and you’re thankful for the recovery you have experienced. Some scars are emotional and psychological, reminding us of deep hurts inflicted by others.

When appropriate, we should be willing to share the stories of our scars. As we do that, we can show our gratitude, humility, and need for community. A drawback to the popularity of social media today is that people often portray their life as a bed of roses. It’s easy to share news about vacations, happy family gatherings, and celebrations. But true fellowship emerges when our scars are exposed in personal communication with others.

Today we see Jesus in one of his post-resurrection visits to his disciples. And when “he showed them his hands and side,” his followers were overjoyed as they recognized the Lord.

And what a story His wounds tell! He was not some comic-book superhero who easily accomplished great feats. Rather, as we see in Isaiah 53, Christ’s victory came through deep personal sacrifice. We are also reminded of our sins, our transgressions. When we embrace these two realities—Jesus’ wounds and our need—we find healing. Indeed, “by his wounds we are healed”!

Dear Lord, our scars remind us of how vulnerable we are. Thank You, Jesus, for making Yourself vulnerable for our sake and for providing us healing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sharing with people in need


Ephesians 4:28 (ESV)
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

Again and again, the Bible calls us to share with people in need: in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, in Jesus’ teaching, and here in the letters of Paul.

The command to work hard, “doing something useful with [our] own hands,” earning enough that something might be left over, goes hand in hand with being compassionate.

What’s more, Paul presents working and sharing as a way to climb out of a dishonest way of life. There’s something clean and good about doing something useful—and then giving the surplus away. It reverses the old way of life in which a person would steal from unsuspecting, innocent passers-by, often by lurking in dark places and waiting to prey on them.

Paul calls us back from the abyss of a corrupt life to the truth that our first ancestors had God-given work to do. How good to plant seeds, water them, and see them send up shoots; how good to tend and prune and sweep, taking care of the garden of creation we were given (Genesis 2:15).

Paul shows us a way of life that is characterized by growth in Christ, in a loving community of believers who do something good and useful—not sitting around idly gossiping, sniping at each other, fueling conflict and bitterness. How wonderful is the fellowship of loving, kind, compassionate people redeemed by Christ!


Dear Lord, we long to grow into a loving community in Christ.  Help us to be useful and compassionate to people around us in need. We pray that You will Guide us, In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Inheritance


Proverbs 13:22 (ESV)
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
    but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

Lawyers are often needed to ensure that a large inheritance is divided properly—as stated in a legal will. Without that framework, the people in some families would tear each other apart over the money or things they expect to get as their entitlement.

Inheritance issues can be controversial, but, in the Bible, inheritance is also a great example of a good gift: it’s given by grace— not earned—a windfall received from God, who loves us. Psalm 136 celebrates the way God gave the promised land to Israel “as an inheritance.” Again and again the refrain echoes, “His love endures forever.” As history shows, Israel had done nothing to earn that inheritance. God was creating a new nation that would bless all nations by providing a Savior.

The tribe of Levi, though, did not receive land as their inheritance. They served in the ceremonial worship of God as priests and teachers and temple workers. And because of this intimate relationship with God, it was said, “The Lord is their inheritance” (Deuteronomy 10:9).

In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). And 1 Peter 1:4 describes salvation as “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”

What a heavenly treasure we have in Christ! All by grace, through faith!

Dear Lord, thank You that You are our inheritance, and that to know You, and the Son whom You sent, is eternal life, greater than all earthly treasure. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Heaven a treasure hidden


Matthew 13:44 (ESV)
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is a story about pirate gold, stolen from Spanish sailors, who had stolen it from the Incas in South America, who had invaded the lands of other people and had built an empire in the Andes Mountains. The pirates had buried the gold on a Caribbean island. After the treasure map was lost and later found, people from England went in search of it. This is a tale of mutiny, bloodshed, and—in the end—untold riches. It is a parable about people’s ill-gotten gains and the trouble it brings.

In Jesus’ parable about hidden treasure, our Lord doesn’t focus on where the treasure came from, who might have known about it in the past, and so on. That isn’t why he told the parable. The important points here are that (1) the kingdom of heaven is a treasure worth more than anything else we could have, and (2) sometimes people stumble upon it unexpectedly.

How easy it is to be utterly wrapped up in the struggles of life: getting an education, landing a job, finding a spouse, raising kids, fending off health problems, growing old, and, eventually, facing death. How easy it would be to brush off eternal life as vague religious stuff, and to listen to the sneers of people who call it “pie in the sky.” But what a surprise to find that Jesus came to show God’s love for us sinners! Eternal life and the kingdom of heaven are as solid as treasure found in a field.

Dear Lord, thank You for the surprise of Your love for us, which makes all of life worthwhile. Amen.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Doing life together


Acts 2:42 (ESV)
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

We learn a lot about what community looked like in the early church. It included things like sharing meals, caring for one another, worshiping together, and praying together. The early church took community seriously. It wasn’t just an occasional event or gathering. It was regular and ongoing. They valued spending quality time together, and they did it often.

We see in the early church a focus on what matters—the Word of God, fellowship, worship, and prayer. We see who matters—the body of Christ doing life together. And we see that it isn’t just a once-a-week event. It also isn’t about being a church in one place or even in a building. The Bible says the Lord added to their number every day. There was room for others—more and more.

In our culture of focusing so much on individual desires, biblical community can seem a bit strange to us. But it’s all about relationships, and that is something we can grasp even in this “me first” world. Relationships always involve sharing—time, experiences, material goods, and more—and sharing requires an ongoing personal investment. It endures through joys and struggles over the long haul. Doing life together is one of the strengths of biblical community. The gift we share always has room for others, even when it is messy.

In what ways can you invest more in your relationships with God and others today?

Dear Lord, with You, we want to live fully together as Your people, wherever You have placed us. Thank you for this gift. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Noah and God's promise


Genesis 9:13 (ESV)
I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

The last two days have been rainy days. As I went out to check on the ladies of Egg Valley, I saw a rainbow in the sky.  It looked close and so dramatic that I almost felt I could touch it. How startling the rainbow must have been to Noah, and how amazing the promise of God it represented!

In the story of Noah and the flood we see the devastating consequences of human evil and God’s wrath against it. God hates sin and will punish it. But we also see God’s gracious deliverance of Noah’s family and the animals in the ark. We see God’s faithfulness to his promise to deliver his people.

After the flood, it didn’t take long for wickedness to spread again. How did Noah keep trusting God’s promise? And, indeed, how do we? God knows that our frail hearts need a sign, a reminder of his promise. God’s sign to all is the rainbow. And what is the fulfillment of the promise, God’s ultimate delivery? The sign for that is a star over a baby born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:9).

When you next see a rainbow or a bright star, let them flood you with joy and gratitude, reminding you of God’s promise and fulfillment of delivery, God’s promise of life to the full.

Dear Lord, creator of the heavens and the earth, You give us the rainbow to remind and comfort us with Your love and promised presence. Help us to live fully in sharing your love with the world each and every day. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, October 7, 2019

When goodbyes come


John 14:28 (ESV)
You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

Goodbyes can be difficult. When family members visit from far away, we are always disappointed to see them leave. “Why can’t they stay longer?” Or when family moves to a new location, it leaves a hole in our life. “Why did they have to move?”

Jesus’ disciples were similarly troubled by the prospect of his going away. Who would now teach them about God’s kingdom? Yet Jesus insists that his going away will be good for them.

Goodbyes come to us in various forms. We can experience the loss of a career. We can move away from friends or family. We can lose a loved one to death.

Jesus teaches that even in the face of such goodbyes, we can experience peace and hope. The “prince of this world,” the devil, wants us to be defined by our losses. But the Father is greater than all things. And when we love Jesus, our lives are directed toward the Father rather than our losses.

After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the Spirit would remind the disciples of these words. And then Jesus’ words about “going back to the Father” made sense. Not death, but glory, is the future of those who obey the Father’s will.

Jesus’ words point us to his destination—and to ours: full life in the presence of God. We may still experience sorrow in the face of loss. But we can rejoice as we see even death as a doorway to our heavenly Father.

Dear Lord, remind us of Jesus’ words. Help us in the face of loss to see our destiny with the Father, and to rejoice in the ruling power of Jesus. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

A good night's sleep


Psalm 127:2 (ESV)
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

One of life’s simplest and best pleasures is a good night’s sleep. We can go to bed tired and worn, and we can wake up in the morning re-energized. But is that all that happens in our sleep?

This ancient psalm was sung by God’s people as they traveled each year to a festival of worship at the temple in Jerusalem. Yet it deals with issues that still ring true in today’s world. Our lives are consumed with our jobs, families, and concerns about security. “I’m so busy” is a mantra in our world today. But this psalm reminds us that unless the Lord is an active participant in all we do, our efforts will be in vain.

The psalm writer underscores this point by making a reference to sleep. We read that God “grants sleep to those he loves.” This phrase can also be translated as “while they sleep, he provides for those he loves.” This picture may remind us of plants in nature and crops that keep growing while we are busy with other things—and even while we are asleep! Describing the kingdom of God in a way like seed sown by a farmer, Jesus says, “Night and day, whether the farmer sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how” (Mark 4:27).

Are we involved in activities in which the Lord is working and providing? Or are we feverishly engaged in things that have nothing to do with God’s kingdom? Let’s be mindful of serving God in all we do each day, and we can rest peacefully while the Lord keeps providing for us and building his kingdom.

Dear Lord, give us the rest and energy we need in order to serve You, and help us to see where You are at work in our lives and in this world. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The greatest storyteller


Luke 15:20 (ESV)
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

I remember growing up at night when my brothers and I would gather at the top of the stairs for my dad to read or tell us a story and then pray before we got into bed. Stories are something that help us all learn and imagine and wonder. Jesus told great stories, and many of them are parables about living as part of God’s family in this world.

One of the best-known parables of Jesus is this story in Luke 15 about the lost son, often called the “prodigal son.” But this story could also be called the parable of the loving Father.

A young man looking for adventure takes his dad’s money, his inheritance, and leaves home. He wastes the money foolishly and loses everything. He learns that the adventure he wanted didn’t really satisfy, and that people can be shallow and harsh. He also learns what it means to be hungry. The young man turns toward home, not really believing anyone will want him. But he is willing to work as a hired servant. What he discovers is the love and forgiveness of his father and a genuine, gracious welcome.

There are times in our lives when we crave adventure. We jump into something that we think will bring us pleasure, only to find ourselves alone and afraid. As he tells this parable, Jesus invites us all to come home to God’s forgiveness.

Dear Lord, thank You for forgiveness and for the reminder that You open Your arms wide and run to us. Help us to turn around from wherever we find our self and come home to You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The TACO prayer


Colossians 4:2 (ESV)
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

I used to really struggle with praying, do you struggle with praying? When my mind draws a blank and I don’t know what to say or what to pray for, I think about TACOS: Let us take a look at how TACOS can help us when we pray.

Thanksgiving: What are you thankful for? Family, friends, your home, your church — the list goes on. Start by thanking God.

Adoration: God is awesome! Adoration means “worship” or “great and profound love.” Let Jesus know how much you love him.

Confession: Prayer is a lot easier when we get rid of the barriers between God and us. We all sin. In prayer, we can confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness.

Others: So many people we know (and even those we don’t) could use our prayers. Praying means taking the focus off of ourselves and lifting up the needs of others.

Supplication: Pray for yourself and your own needs. These prayers should come last. Otherwise, we are tempted to spend all of our prayer time talking about ourselves.

If you love tacos what a great way to help you when you pray. With TACOS, prayer will seem a whole lot easier — and delicious.

Dear Lord, we thank You that we can openly talk with You through prayer. We pray that we would practice our special time with You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.