Christ, our Light

Quotations for January, 2007

Monday, January 1, 2007
Feast of the Naming & Circumcision of Jesus

The following abridged paraphrase of the Epistle to the Romans aims at presenting in a plain way the continuous sequence of the argument, while suggesting the free epistolary form of the original:
Wherever I go I hear of your faith, and I thank God for it. It is a part of my daily prayers that I may be permitted to visit you. I believe such a visit would do you good, and I am sure it would do me good. In fact, I have tried again and again to get to Rome, but hitherto something has always turned up to prevent me. I shall not feel that my work as missionary to the Gentiles is complete until I have preached in Rome. My mission is a universal one, knowing no bounds of race or culture—naturally, since my message is a universal one. It is a message of God’s righteousness, revealed to men on a basis of faith. (Rom. 1:1-17)
Apart from this, there is nothing to be seen in the world of today but the Nemesis of sin. Take the pagan world: all men have a knowledge of God by natural religion; but the pagan world has deliberately turned its back upon this knowledge, and, for all its boasted philosophy, has degraded religion into idolatry. The natural consequence is a moral perversity horrible to contemplate. (Rom. 1:18-32)
But you, my Jewish friend, need not dwell with complacency upon the sins of the pagan world. You are guilty yourself. Do not mistake God’s patience with His people for indulgence. His judgments are impartial. Knowledge or ignorance of the Law of Moses makes no difference here. The pagans have God’s law written in their conscience. If they obey it, well; if not, they stand condemned. And as for you—you call yourself a Jew and pride yourself on the Law. But have you kept all its precepts? You are circumcised and so forth: that goes for nothing; God looks at the inner life of motive and affection. An honest pagan is better than a bad Jew in His sight. I do not mean to say there is no advantage in being a Jew: of this more presently ; but read your Bible and take to yourself the hard words of the prophets—spoken, remember, not to heathens, but to people who knew the Law, just as you do. No, Jew and pagan, we are in the same case. No one can stand right before God on the basis of what he has actually done. Law only serves to bring consciousness of guilt. (Rom. 2:1-3:20)
But now, Law apart, we have a revelation of God’s righteousness, as I was saying (Rom. 1:17). It comes by faith, the faith of Jesus Christ; and it comes to every one, Jew or Gentile, who has faith. We have all sinned, and all of us can be made to stand right with God. That is a free gift to us, due to His graciousness. We are emancipated in Christ Jesus, who is God’s appointed means of dealing with sin—a means operating by the devotion of His life, and by faith on our part. It is thus that God, having passed over sins committed in the old days when He held His hand, demonstrates His righteousness in the world of to-day; i.e., it is thus that He both shows Himself righteous, and makes those stand right before Him who have faith in Jesus Christ. No room for boasting here! No distinction of Jew and Gentile here! (Rom. 3:21-31)
But what about Abraham? you will say. Did not he win God’s graciousness by what he did? Not at all. Read your Bible, and you will find that the promise was given to him before he was circumcised; and the Bible expressly says that “he had faith in God, and that counted for righteousness.” The same principle applies to us all. (Rom. 4:1-25)
To return to the point, then, we stand right with God on the ground of faith, and we are at peace with Him, come what may. God’s love floods our whole being—a love shown in the fact that Christ died for us, not because we were good people for whom anyone might die, but actually while we were sinners. He died, not for His friends, but for His enemies. Very well then, if while we were enemies Christ died for us, surely He will save us now that we are friends! If He reconciled us to God by dying for us, surely He will save us by living for us, and in us. There is something to boast about! (Rom. 5:1-11)
Christ died and lives for us all, I say. But, you ask, how can the life and death of one individual have consequences for so many? You believe that we all suffer for Adam’s sin; and if so, why should we not all profit by Christ’s righteousness? Of course there is really no comparison between the power of evil to propagate itself, and the power of good to win the victory, for that is a matter of God’s graciousness. However, you see my point : one man sinned—a whole race suffers for it; one Man lived righteously—a whole race wins life by it. But what about Law? you say. Law only came in by the way, to intensify the consciousness of guilt. (Rom. 5:12-21) [Continued tomorrow]
... paraphrased and abridged by C. Harold Dodd, from The Meaning of Paul for Today [1920], Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 161 (see the book; see also Rom. 1-5; more at Bible)

Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Feast of Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops, Teachers, 379 & 389
Commemoration of Seraphim, Monk of Sarov, Mystic, Staretz, 1833

(This abridged paraphrase of the Epistle to the Romans is continued from yesterday)
Now I come to a difficulty. I have heard people say, “If human sin gives play to God’s graciousness, let us go on sinning to give Him a better chance. Why not do evil that good may come?” (Rom. 3:8) What nonsense! To be saved through Christ is to be a dead man so far as sin is concerned. Think of the symbolism of Baptism. You go down into the water: that is like being buried with Christ. You come up out of the water: that is like rising with Christ from the tomb. It means, therefore, a new life, a life which comes by union with the living Christ. You will admit that, once a man is dead, there is no more claim against him for any wrong he may have committed. He is like a slave set free from all claims on the part of his late master. Think, then, of yourselves as dead. When you remember the death of Christ, think that you—i.e., your old bad selves—were crucified with Him. And when you remember His resurrection, think of yourselves as living with Him, a new life. And above all, bear in mind that Christ, once risen, does not die again: and so you, living the new life in Him, need not die again. I mean, the sin that once dominated you need not any longer control you; do not let it! You are freed slaves; do not sell yourselves into slavery again. Or, if you like to put it so, you are now slaves, not of Sin, but of Righteousness (a very crude way of putting it, but I want to help you out). Just as once you were the property of Sin, and all your faculties were instruments of wrong, so now you are the property of Righteousness, and every faculty you have must be an instrument of right. Freed from sin, you are slaves of God; that is what I mean. The wages your old master paid was death. Your new Master makes you a present of life. (Rom. 6:1-23)
Or take another illustration. You know that by law a woman is bound to her husband while he lives; when he is dead she is free; she can marry again if she likes and the law has no claim against her. So you may think of yourselves as having been married to Sin, or to Law. Death has now released you from that marriage bond, though here the illustration halts, for it is Christ’s death that has freed you! Well, anyhow, you are free—free, shall I say, to marry Christ. You had a numerous progeny of evil deeds by your first marriage; you must now produce an offspring of good deeds to Christ. I mean, of course, you must serve God in Christ’s spirit. (Rom. 7:1-6)
Now I admit that all this sounds as though I identified law with sin. That is not my meaning. But surely it is clear that the function of law is to bring consciousness of sin; e.g., I should never have known what covetousness was but that the law said, “Thou shalt not covet.” Such is the perversity of human nature under the dominion of sin that the very prohibition provokes me to covet. There was a time when I knew nothing of Law, and lived my own life. Then Law came, sin awakened in me, and life became death for me. Of course, Law is good, but Sin took advantage of it, to my cost. I am only flesh and blood, and flesh and blood is prone to sin. I can see what is good, and desire it, but I cannot practice it; i.e., my reason recognizes the law, and yet I break it through moral perversity. If you like to put it so, there is one law for my reason, the Law of God, and another for my outward conduct, the law of sin and death. It is like a living man chained to a dead body. It is perfect misery. But, thank God, the chain is broken! The law of the Spirit of Life which is in Christ has set me free from the law of sin and death. Christ entered into this human nature of flesh and blood which is under the dominion of Sin. Sin put in its claim to be His master; but Christ won His case; Sin was non-suited, its claim disallowed, and human nature was free. The result is that all the Law stood for of righteousness, holiness, and goodness is fulfilled in those who live by Christ’s Spirit. There are two possible forms of human life: there is the life of the lower nature of flesh and blood, of which I have spoken; and there is the life of the spirit. We have Christ’s Spirit, and so we can live the life of the spirit. And in the end that Spirit will give new life to the whole human organism. (Rom. 7:7-8:11)
You see, then, that the flesh-and-blood nature has no claim upon us. We belong to the Spirit. Those who are actuated by that Spirit are sons of God. I used a while back the expression, “slaves of God “; but really we are not slaves but sons—sons and heirs of God, like Christ; and when we come into our inheritance, how glorious it will be! (Rom. 8:12-18)
This, however, is still in the future. At the present time the whole universe is in misery, and in its misery it waits for the revelation of God’s sons. Now all existence seems futile in its transience; and even we still share creation’s pangs. But we have hope; and the ground of that hope is the possession of God’s Spirit—in a first installment only, but enough to reckon upon. The fact is that every prayer we utter—yes, even an inarticulate prayer—is the utterance of the Spirit within us. We know that all through God is working with us. His purpose is behind the whole process, and He is on our side. If He gave His Son, we can trust Him to give us everything else. He loves us, and nothing in the world or out of it can separate us from His love. (Rom. 8:18-39) [Continued tomorrow]
... paraphrased and abridged by C. Harold Dodd, from The Meaning of Paul for Today [1920], Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 164 (see the book; see also Rom. 6-8; more at Bible)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Commemoration of Gladys Aylward, Missionary in China, 1970

(This abridged paraphrase of the Epistle to the Romans is continued from yesterday)
That concludes the present stage of my argument; but before I can proceed to final deductions, I must return to a difficulty already raised (Rom. 3:1-4). If there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, does all the great past of Israel go for nothing? Do all the promises of Scripture go for nothing? First, let me say how bitterly I regret the exclusion of the Jewish nation as a body from the new life. I would surrender all my Christian privileges if I could find a way to bring them in. But we must recognize facts; and the first fact is that the nation as a whole never was able to claim the promises; from the beginning, there was a process of selection. Of the sons of Abraham, Isaac alone was called; of the sons of Isaac, Jacob only. If we ask why, there is no answer save that God is bound by no natural or historical necessity, but intervenes according to His will. To question that will is as absurd as for the pot to arraign the potter. Then again, while some members of the Hebrew race have always fallen out, always God has declared His purpose ultimately to include others, not members of the Hebrew race—and that is just what is now happening. Now, as I said, I desire nothing more earnestly than that the whole nation should be saved. But the fact is that they have deliberately rejected the chance that was offered them. There is nothing remote or abstruse about the Christian message. It is a very simple thing: acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and believe that He is alive; that is all. And they cannot say that they have never heard the message, for Christ has His witnesses everywhere. It looks, then, as if God had rejected His people, as punishment for their obstinacy. I do not believe it. God’s promises cannot go for nothing. In the first place, there has always been, and there still is, a faithful remnant of the Jewish people. And in the second place, as for the main body, their present rejection of the message is only a means in God’s Providence for its extension to the Gentiles. The old olive-tree of Israel stands yet; many of its branches have been lopped off, and new branches of wild olive have been engrafted in their place. But God can engraft the lopped branches on again, if it be His will; and I believe it is His will, and that in the end the whole nation will return to Him and inherit the promises. And if the failure of Israel has meant such blessing to the world, how much greater blessing will its ultimate salvation bring! God’s purpose, as I said at the beginning (Rom. 1:16), is universal: He has permitted the whole of humanity, Jew and Gentile alike, to fall under sin, only in order that He may finally have mercy on the whole of humanity, Jew and Gentile alike. How profound and unsearchable are His plans! (Rom. 9:1-11:36)
So now I can take up again my main argument. If this is the way of God’s dealing with us, what ought to be our response? Can we do less than offer our entire selves to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving? How will that work out? In a life lived as by members of one single body. Let each perform his part faithfully. Let love rule all your relations one to another, and to those outside, even to your enemies. Do not regard the Emperor as outside the scope of love, but obey his laws and pay his taxes. Yes, and pay all debts to every one. Love is, in fact, the one comprehensive debt of man to man. If you love your neighbour as yourself, you have fulfilled the whole moral law. But be in earnest about things, for the better day is already dawning. (Rom. 12:1-13:14)
I hear you have differences among yourselves about Sabbath-keeping and vegetarianism. Take this matter, then, as an example of what I mean by the application of brotherly love to all conduct. Remember that the Sabbatarian and the anti-Sabbatarian, the vegetarian and the meat-eater, are alike servants of one Master. Give each other credit for the best motives. Do not think of yourself alone; think of your Christian brother, and try to put yourself in his place. If he seems to you a weak-minded, over-scrupulous individual, remember that in any case he is your brother, and that Christ died for him as well as for you, and reverence his conscience. If through your example he should do an act which is harmless in you but sin to him, you have injured his conscience. Is it worth while so to imperil a soul for the sake of your liberty in such external matters? If the other man is weak-minded, and you strong-minded, all the more reason why you should help to bear his burden. Remember, Christ did not please Himself. In a word, Sabbatarian and anti-Sabbatarian, Jew and Gentile, treat one another as Christ has treated you, and God be with you. (Rom. 14:1-15:13)
Well, friends, I hardly think you needed this long exhortation from me. You are intelligent Christians, and well able to give one another good advice. Still, I thought I might venture to remind you of a few points ; for after all, I do feel a measure of responsibility for you, as missionary to the Gentiles. I have now accomplished my mission as far West as the Adriatic. Now I am going to Jerusalem to hand over the relief fund we have raised in Greece. After that I hope to start work in the West, and I propose to set out for Spain and take Rome on my way. Pray for me, that my errand to Jerusalem may be successful, so that I may be free to visit you. (Rom. 15:14-33)
I wish to introduce to you our friend Phoebe. She renders admirable service to our congregation at Cenchrea. Do all you can for her; she deserves it.
Kind regards to Priscilla and Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, and all friends in Rome.
(P.S.—Beware of folk who make mischief. Be wise; be gentle; and all good be with you.)
Timothy, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, and all friends at Corinth send kind regards. (So do I—Tertius, amanuensis!)
Glory be to God!
With all good wishes,
Your brother,
PAUL, Missionary of Jesus Christ.
... paraphrased and abridged by C. Harold Dodd, from The Meaning of Paul for Today [1920], Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 166 (see the book; see also Rom. 9-16; more at Bible)

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Nothing shall be lost that is done for God or in obedience unto Him.
... John Owen (1616-1683), Exercitations on the Epistle to the Hebrews, pt. IV ff, in Works of John Owen, v. XIX, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1854, p. 483 (see the book; see also Mark 13:31; Matt. 10:42; 19:29; Acts 10:4,31; Heb. 6:10; more at Action, God, Obedience)

Friday, January 5, 2007

Poor and unsatisfying are the results where “Unity,” “Corporate Life,” and the like are the perpetual watchwords, but where they bear a primary reference to order, function, and succession in the ministry of the Church. One can not but ask the question sometimes, when contemplating phenomena of an ardent ecclesiasticism, is this the worthy goal of ten thousand efforts, of innumerable assertions of “catholicity”—this spirit and tone, these enterprises and actions, so little akin either to the love or to the simplicity, the openness, of the heavenly Gospel? Suppose such unity to be attained to the uttermost, beyond even the dreams of Rome: would it contribute at all to making “the world believe that the Father hath sent the Son, and hath loved us even as He loved Him”?
... Handley Moule (1841-1920), Ephesians Studies, New York: A. C. Armstrong, 1900, p. 184-185 (see the book; see also John 17:22-23; Matt. 9:10-13; John 14:20; 1 John 3:24; 4:14; more at Church, Father, Gospel, Love, Minister, Question, Simplicity, Son, Unity)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

The paradox is that a genuine “love for souls” which allows itself to be diverted by fashionable modes into a mere “winning” of them to this or that mutually exclusive version of the “Truth,” very often descends to a use of people for more-or-less irrelevant ends (already an evil), and can then so easily degenerate into a total misuse of people for alleged evangelical “results” with the consequent loss of all respect for people and their souls, and the withering of the original concern and love.
... G. W. Target (1924-2005), Evangelism Inc., London: Penguin Press, 1968, p. 88 (see the book; see also Acts 2:37-39; Phil. 1:15; 1 Cor. 1:22-23; 9:19-23; 2 Cor. 4:5; more at Evil, Love, Mission, Paradox, People, Soul, Truth, Worldly)

Sunday, January 7, 2007

God has set in the midst of you, as the ever present witness and figure of heaven, His holy House of Prayer. There it stands, built for no earthly purpose, different in shape, and in all things belonging to it, from earthly habitations; speaking only of heaven, and heavenly uses, and heavenly gifts, and heavenly blessings; the gate of heaven when we are brought into it as little children to Christ;—the gate of heaven, if so God grant us, when we are brought to it, and pass through it the last time on our way to our grave beside it. And here we meet our God.
... R. W. Church (1815-1890), Village Sermons, New York: Macmillan Company, 1897, p. 110-111 (see the book; see also Isa. 56:6-7; Ps. 84:10; 122:1; Isa. 2:3; John 4:23; more at Child, Death, Heaven, Holiness, Prayer, Witness)

Monday, January 8, 2007
Commemoration of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, and Pete Fleming, martyrs, Ecuador, 1956

A lawsuit, however just, can never be rightly prosecuted by any man, unless he treat his adversary with the same love and good will as if the business under controversy were already amicably settled and composed. Perhaps someone will interpose here that such moderation is so uniformly absent from any lawsuit that it would be a miracle if any such were found. Indeed, I admit that, as the customs of these times go, an example of an upright litigant is rare; but the thing itself, when not corrupted by the addition of anything evil, does not cease to be good and pure.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. I [1559], tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, IV.xx.18, p.651-652 (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 6:1-8; Matt. 5:25-26,41,44-46; Luke 12:58-59; 14:31-32; Jas. 4:1-3; more at Corruption, Custom, Evil, Good will, Love, Social)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

We may not understand how the spirit works; but the effect of the Spirit on the lives of men is there for all to see. The unanswerable argument for Christianity is the Christian life. No man can disregard a faith which is able to make bad men good.
... William Barclay (1907-1978), The Gospel of John, v. 1, Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1965, p. 154 (see the book; see also John 20:22; more at Argument, Faith, Goodness, Holy Spirit, Life, Man)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Gospel commission is the key to all problems of church history, large or small. It is the key to the success or failure of the many organisations built up to form the channels of witness to the world. Churches, societies, individuals, ... have concerned themselves with this or that theological problem. They have made worship central instead of the Gospel commission. They have concerned themselves with their relations with the State. They have concentrated on philanthropy and social service. Wherever they have done this and have forgotten the purpose for which the Master has placed them in the world, wherever they have lost the Master’s vision of a perishing humanity, wherever they have become inattentive to the cry of spiritual anguish, the Spirit has passed them by, and when they have persisted He has extinguished the light of their witness. And the pages of church history are strewn with their wreckage. They may have shouted their loyalty to Christ, they may even have suffered for Him. But if once they have forgotten that our Lord combined in a single phrase “for My sake and the Gospel’s,” devotion to Himself and loyalty to His commission, they have lost their influence and sunk into spiritual death.
... B. F. C. Atkinson (1895-1971), Valiant in Fight, London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship of Evangelical Unions, 1937, p. 10 (see the book; see also Mark 8:35-38; Matt. 5:10-12; 19:29; Luke 6:22-23; Acts 9:15-16; 1 Cor. 9:23; 2 Tim. 1:8-11; more at Christ, Church, Devotion, Failure, Forget, Gospel, Historical, Loyalty, Purpose, Success, Theology, Witness, Worship)

Thursday, January 11, 2007
Commemoration of Mary Slessor, Missionary in West Africa, 1915

Covetousness, pride, and envy are not three different things, but only three different names for the restless workings of one and the same will or desire...
Wrath, which is a fourth birth from these three, can have no existence till one or all of these three are contradicted, or have something done to them that is contrary to their will...
These four properties generate ... their own torment. They have no outward cause, nor any inward power of altering themselves. And therefore all self or nature must be in this state until some supernatural good comes into it, or gets a birth in it...
Whilst man indeed lives among the vanities of time, his covetousness, envy, pride, and wrath may be in a tolerable state, may help him to a mixture of peace and trouble: they may have at times their gratifications as well as their torments. But when death has put an end to the vanity of all earthly cheats, the soul that is not born again of the Supernatural Word and Spirit of God, must find itself unavoidably devoured, or shut up in its own insatiable, unchangeable, self-tormenting covetousness, envy, pride, and wrath.
... William Law (1686-1761), The Spirit of Love [1752-4], in Works of Rev. William Law, v. VIII, London: G. Moreton, 1893, p. 115-116 (see the book; see also Gal. 5:25-26; John 6:63; Rom. 8:1-2; Gal. 5:16; Phil. 2:1-3; 1 Pet. 5:5; more at Death, Envy, Pride, Selfish, Sin, Vanity)

Friday, January 12, 2007
Feast of Aelred of Hexham, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167
Commemoration of Benedict Biscop, Abbot of Wearmouth, Scholar, 689

“The clergy,” says Canon Rhymes, “are called to give to the laity the benefit of their theological understanding and so help them to account for and understand the faith which is in them.” But surely there is no point in trying to account for faith: the moment it is accounted for rationally, it is no longer faith. Those whose hearts are filled with the Christian spirit... are best left to proclaim the Gospel in their own words and, above all, through the example of their own lives.
... John Grigg (1924-2001) (see also Philemon 1:4-6; 1 Thess. 1:6-8; 1 Pet. 2:11,12; more at Example, Faith, Gospel, Heart, Historical, Reason, Theology, Understanding)

Saturday, January 13, 2007
Feast of Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, Teacher, 367
Commemoration of Kentigern (Mungo), Missionary Bishop in Strathclyde & Cumbria, 603

Having made man in His own image, a rational being, He meant him to be lord only over irrational beings: not man set over man, but man set over beasts... The first cause of servitude is sin, by which man is subjected to man by the bonds of his condition... But by that nature in which God formerly created man, nobody is slave either to man or to sin.
... St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), The City of God, v. II, Marcus Dods, ed., as vol. 2 of The Works of Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Edinbugh: T & T Clark, 1871, XIX.xv, p. 324-325 (see the book; see also Philemon 1:15-16; Dan. 9:5-19; John 8:34; Rom. 6:19-23; 7:14,25; 2 Pet. 2:19; more at Creation, God, Man, Reason, Sin, Slave)

Sunday, January 14, 2007
Commemoration of Richard Meux Benson, Founder of the Society of St John the Evangelist, 1915

It will perhaps be said that in our present state of schism this assertion of spiritual principle [as in 1 Cor. 12:3] can give us no definite guidance for action, can provide us with no clear programme, and must remain unfruitful. Surely that is not wholly true. It certainly must help us if we recognize that it is the presence of the Holy Spirit which creates a unity which we can never create. If men believe in the existence of this unity, they may begin to desire it, and desiring it to seek for it, and seeking it to find it. If, when they find it, they refuse to deny it, in due time, by ways now unsearchable, they will surely return to external communion.
... Roland Allen (1869-1947), Pentecost and the World, London: Oxford University Press, 1917, included in The Ministry of the Spirit, David M. Paton, ed., London: World Dominion Press, 1960, p. 58 fn. (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 12:3; John 14:20; 17:20-23; Eph. 4:3; Col. 2:2-3; 1 John 1:3; 3:24; more at Belief, Church, Guidance, Holy Spirit, Truth, Unity)

Monday, January 15, 2007

But, you object, a heart like mine can offer Christ so little—at best, so poor and pinched and stingy a hospitality and such meagre fare; for I have nothing worthy of Him to set before Him, only a kind of affection, real enough at times, but which, at others, can and does so easily forget; only a will, quite unreliable, deplorably unstable; only a faith that is the merest shadow of what His real friends mean when they speak about faith...
I know. But, there was once a garret up under the roof, a poor, bare place enough. There was a table in it, and there were some benches, and a water-pot; a towel, and a basin in behind the door—but not much else—a bare, unhomelike room. But the Lord Christ entered into it. And, from that moment, it became the holiest of all, where souls innumerable ever since have met the Lord God, in His glory, face to face. And, if you give Him entrance to that very ordinary heart of yours, it, too, He will transform and sanctify and touch with a splendour of glory.
... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), Experience Worketh Hope, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1945, p. 158-159 (see the book; see also Ps. 51:10-12; more at Conversion)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Silence promotes the presence of God, prevents many harsh and proud words, and suppresses many dangers in the way of ridiculing or harshly judging our neighbors... If you are faithful in keeping silence when it is not necessary to speak, God will preserve you from evil when it is right for you to talk.
... François Fénelon (1651-1715), Selections from Fénelon, ed. Mary Wilder Tileston, Boston: Roberts Bros., 1879, p. 10-11 (see the book; see also Zech. 2:13; Ps. 46:10; Hab. 2:20; Zeph. 1:7; more at Faith, God, Judgment, Neighbor, Obedience, Presence of God, Silence)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Feast of Antony of Egypt, Abbot, 356
Commemoration of Charles Gore, Bishop, Teacher, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, 1932

Souls are made sweet not by taking [ill tempers] out, but by putting something in—a great Love, a new Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Christ, the Spirit of Christ, interpenetrating ours, sweetens, purifies, transforms all. This only can eradicate what is wrong, ... renovate and regenerate, and rehabilitate the inner man. Will-power does not change men. Time does not change men. Christ does. Therefore “Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
... Henry Drummond (1851-1897), “The Greatest Thing in the World”, in Addresses, H. Altemus, 1891, p. 45-46 (see the book; see also Phil. 2:5; Rom. 8:35-39; 12:1-2; Eph. 3:16-19; 1 Tim. 1:14; more at Christ, Greatness, Jesus, Love, Man, Spirit)

Thursday, January 18, 2007
Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle
Commemoration of Amy Carmichael, Founder of the Dohnavur Fellowship, 1951

One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving.
... Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), attributed (see the book; see also Luke 12:33-34; Matt. 6:1-4; 1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 8:7-15; more at Giving, Love)

Friday, January 19, 2007
Commemoration of Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, 1095

There are a number of Hebrew words about salvation which also mean “to bring into a spacious environment,” “to be at one’s ease,” “to be free to develop.” “Salvation” can be seen then as the new life in Christ, in which we are to be “free to develop” into Christ-like people. For this maturing to take place, there needs to be a breaking down of barriers, a breaking up of the soil of our personalities, and a healing of inner wounds and hurts. The soil is softened, the clay becomes malleable through the experience of the tender love of God and the accepting, non-judgmental love of Christians. We cannot be beaten into shape.
... Michael C. Harper (1931-2010), “Christian Maturing”, in The Lord Christ [1980], John Stott, ed., vol. 1 of Obeying Christ in a Changing World, John Stott, gen. ed., 3 vol., London: Fountain, 1977, p. 151 (see the book; see also Isa. 64:8; Ps. 119:73; Jer. 18:2-6; Rom. 9:20-24; Gal. 3:26-29; Eph. 2:10; more at Christ, Christlikeness, Experience, God, Life, Love, People, Providence, Salvation)

Saturday, January 20, 2007
Commemoration of Richard Rolle of Hampole, Writer, Hermit, Mystic, 1349

Love ... is very noticeable as fervour and devotion and jubilation, and is yet not always the best thing; for sometimes it is not from love but is caused by nature that one has such taste and sweetness; or it may be a heavenly impression or it may be produced by the senses, and those who have most of this are not always the best. For even if it should be from God, our Lord gives this to such men in order to attract and charm them, and also to detach them from others. But if these same people later grow in love, they may not have so many feelings, and then it will become clear that they have love, if they remain wholly faithful to God without any such support.
... Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?), Works of Meister Eckhart, London: J. M. Watkins, 1924, p. 14 (see the book; see also 2 Cor. 10:17-18; John 12:42-43; Rom. 2:29; 1 Cor. 4:5; Phil. 1:15-18; 1 Pet. 1:7; more at Devotion, Faith, Growth, Heaven, Love, Nature, People)

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Feast of Agnes, Child Martyr at Rome, 304

At no point does the Gospel encourage us to believe that every man will hearken to it, charm we never so wisely. The prophets, for all their passionate sincerity, for all their courageous simplifyings of the Gospel, will meet many deaf adders who stop their ears. We must reckon with this certain fact, and refuse to be daunted by it. But also there comes a point where accommodation can go no further. It is the Gospel we have to present, however we do it. We cannot hope to do it unless we walk humbly with the modern man, as well as with God, unless we are much more eager to learn from him and about him, than to instruct him. God help us, it is all very difficult. But was there ever a task better worth trying to do, or one in which, whether we fail or succeed, we more surely find our freedom?
... Roger Lloyd (1901-1966), The Ferment in the Church, London: SCM Press, 1964, p. 121 (see the book; see also Matt. 11:15-17; Ps. 58:4; Isa. 6:9-10; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 11:20; John 6:63; more at Courage, Deafness, Freedom, Gospel, Humility, Instruction, Prophet, Unbelief)

Monday, January 22, 2007

[Love] does not inquire into the character of the recipient but it asks what he needs. It does not love him because he is such-and-such a person but because he is there. In all this it is quite the opposite of natural love: it “does not seek its own.” It does not perform the characteristic natural impulse of love and life. Therefore it is basically independent of the conduct of the other person; it is not conditional but absolute. It wants nothing for itself but only for others. Therefore it is also not vulnerable. It never “reacts” but is always “spontaneous,” emerging by its own strength—rather, from the power of God. Love is the real God-likeness of man for which he has been created. In so far as love is in man he really resembles God and shows himself to be the child of God.
... Emil Brunner (1889-1966), The Letter to the Romans, Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1959, p. 155 (see the book; see also Matt. 5:45-48; Rom. 12:13-21; 1 Cor. 13:4-5; Eph. 5:1; Phil. 2:4; Col. 3:10-14; Heb. 13:1-3; more at God, Love, Man, Nature, Power)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Commemoration of Phillips Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts, spiritual writer, 1893

Orthodoxy is, in the Church, very much what prejudice is in the single mind. It is the premature conceit of certainty. It is the treatment of the imperfect as if it were the perfect.
... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Life and letters of Phillips Brooks, v. III, Alexander V. G. Allen, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1901, p. 74 (see the book; see also Matt. 15:1-9; Isa. 60:19-20; 1 Cor. 13:8-10; 2 Cor. 5:7; Rev. 21:22-23; 22:4-5; more at Church, Perfection, Truth)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Feast of François de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, Teacher, 1622

If I want only pure water, what does it matter whether it be brought in a vase of gold or of glass? What is it to me whether the will of God be presented to me in tribulation or consolation, since I desire and seek only the Divine will?
... François de Sales (1567-1622), Maxims and Counsels of St. Francis de Sales, New York: Benziger, 1883, p. 168 (see the book; see also Mark 3:34-35; Matt. 6:33; 7:21; John 7:17; Jas. 1:25; 1 John 2:17; more at Affliction, Consolation, Purity, Water, Weakness, Will of God)

Thursday, January 25, 2007
Feast of the Conversion of Paul

If I say to you that no one has time to finish, that the longest human life leaves a man, in any branch of learning, a beginner, I shall seem to you to be saying something quite academic and theoretical. You would be surprised if you knew how soon one begins to feel the shortness of the tether: of how many things, even in middle life, we have to say, “No time for that,” “Too late now” and “Not for me.” But Nature herself forbids you [young people] to share that experience. A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), “Learning in War-Time”, in The Weight of Glory, and other addresses, Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 52 (see the book; see also Matt. 6:34; Lam. 3:22-23; Matt. 6:11,25; John 14:27; 16:33; more at Attitudes, Destiny, Future, God, Knowledge, Life, Time, Trust)

Friday, January 26, 2007
Feast of Timothy and Titus, Companions of Paul
Commemoration of Dorothy Kerin, Founder of the Burrswood Healing Community, 1963

Social enthusiasms have such power today, they raise people so effectively to the supreme degree of heroism in suffering and death, that I think it is as well that a few sheep should remain outside the fold in order to bear witness that the love of Christ is essentially something different.
... Simone Weil (1909-1943), Waiting for God, Emma Craufurd, tr., Putnam, 1951, p. 81 (see the book; see also Heb. 11:15-16; Luke 12:32; Phil. 3:20; Heb. 12:22-24; 13:14; Rev. 21:1-2; more at Christ, Heroism, Love, Social, Today, Witness)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The sovereign God wants to be loved for Himself and honored for Himself, but that is only part of what He wants. The other part is that He wants us to know that when we have Him we have everything—we have all the rest.
... A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 8:6; Matt. 6:33; Rom. 8:1,38-39; 1 John 1:3; 2 John 1:9; more at God, Knowing God, Knowledge, Love, Providence)

Sunday, January 28, 2007
Feast of Thomas Aquinas, Priest, Teacher of the Faith, 1274

We have all the reason in the world to believe, that the goodness and justice of God is such, as to make nothing necessary to be believed by any man, which, by the help of due instruction, may not be made sufficiently plain to a common understanding.
... John Tillotson (1630-1694), Works of Dr. John Tillotson, v. V, London: J. F. Dove, for R. Priestley, 1820, Sermon LXXXVII, p. 38 (see the book; see also Luke 24:27; Ps. 25:8-9,12; Isa. 35:8; Jer. 31:33-34; Mic. 4:2; Luke 8:15; 24:44-45; John 7:17; 8:31-32,47; Rom. 1:19-20; Phil. 3:13-16; more at Belief, Conversion, Goodness, Instruction, Justice, Man, Understanding)

Monday, January 29, 2007

It is becoming impossible for those who mix at all with their fellow men to believe that the grace of God is distributed denominationally.
... William R. Inge (1860-1954), Outspoken Essays, London: Longmans, Green, 1919, p. 32 (see the book; see also 1 Pet. 4:10; Rom. 12:6-8; 15:27; 1 Cor. 4:7; 12:4-11; 2 Cor. 9:2; Eph. 4:4-6; Heb. 6:10; more at Belief, Church, Grace)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Commemoration of Lesslie Newbigin, Bishop, Missionary, Teacher, 1998

God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.
... Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961), Markings, tr. Leif Sjöberg & W. H. Auden, (q.v.), New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964 (post.), p. 56 (see the book; see also Acts 17:26-28; Ps. 36:9; Luke 20:38; John 11:25-26; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; more at Belief, Death, God is dead, Illumination, Life, Reason, Renewal, Wonder)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Commemoration of John Bosco, Priest, Founder of the Salesian Teaching Order, 1888

Vain is the chiming of forgotten bells
That the wind sways above a ruined shrine.
Vainer his voice in whom no longer dwells
Hunger that craves immortal Bread and Wine.
Light songs we breathe that perish with our breath
Out of our lips that have not kissed the rod.
They shall not live who have not tasted death.
They only sing who are struck dumb by God.
... Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918), Joyce Kilmer: Memoir and Poems, v. I, New York: George H. Doran Company, 1918, p. 211 (see the book; see also Ps. 2:7-12; Matt. 11:4-5; Luke 1:28,59-64,67-79; more at Death, Dumbness, God, Life, Song, Vanity, Worship)


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