Christ, our Light

Quotations for February, 2023

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Commemoration of Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c.525

Our problem is that we assume prayer is something to master the way we master algebra or auto mechanics. That puts us in the “on-top” position, where we are competent and in control. But when praying, we come “underneath,” where we calmly and deliberately surrender control and become incompetent.
... Richard J. Foster (b. 1942), Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, HarperCollins, 1992, p. 7-8 (see the book; see also Matt. 6:5-6; Ps. 19:14; Matt. 6:31-32; Luke 11:1; Rom. 8:26-27; 1 Cor. 2:9-10 Jas. 4:2-3; Jude 1:20; more at Humility, Prayer, Submission)

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Some Christians long for a world well-stocked with miracles and spectacular signs of God’s presence. I hear wistful sermons on the parting of the Red Sea and the ten plagues and the daily manna in the wilderness, as if the speakers yearn for God to unleash his power like that today. But the follow-the-dots journey of the Israelites should give us pause. Would a burst of miracles nourish faith? Not the kind of faith God seems interested in, evidently. The Israelites give ample proof that signs may only addict us to signs, not to God.
... Philip Yancey (b. 1949), Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud, p. 36 (see the book; see also Luke 11:29-30; Ex. 16:3-4; 17:1-7; Matt. 12:38-39; 16:4; Mark 8:11-12; John 2:18-21; 4:48; 1 Cor. 1:22-24; more at Faith, God, Journey, Miracle, Power, Sermon)

Friday, February 3, 2023
Feast of Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865

The church is unique in that it is so able to cut across age boundaries and social-status boundaries. When one loves the Lord Jesus Christ and sincerely seeks to follow Him, then one quite by surprise comes upon a community that he did not know existed, a community that is experienced within the heart; and when this community is found, nothing is ever quite the same again.
... Gerald J. Jud (1919-2019), “Ministry in Colonies and Retreats”, in Spiritual Renewal through Personal Groups, John L. Casteel, ed., NY: Association Press, 1957, p. 102 (see the book; see also Rom. 10:12-13; Isa. 56:3-8; Acts 10:34-35; 15:7-9; Gal. 3:28-29; Eph. 2:13; 3:6; Phil. 3:3; Col. 1:3-6; 3:11; more at Church, Community, Experience, Heart, Jesus, Love)

Saturday, February 4, 2023
Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189

One of the worst things sin did for man was to make him selfish, for selfishness cannot love.
... Andrew Murray (1828-1917), Absolute Surrender, Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1897, p. 23 (see the book; see also Jas. 3:14-16; Eccl. 4:4; Rom. 2:7-8; Gal. 5:15,19-23,26; Phil. 2:3; Tit. 3:3; more at Love, Man, Selfish, Sin)

Sunday, February 5, 2023
Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597

Any suggestion that the world is sinful cannot be limited to “moralistic” claims about our petty crimes. The Christian story trains us to see that in most of our life we act as if this is not God’s world and therein lies our fundamental sin. Moreover, when we so act, we find that our actions have far-reaching consequences, since in effect we distort our own and the world’s nature. Therefore sin implies not just a claim about human behavior but a claim about the way things are.
... Stanley Hauerwas (b. 1940), The Peaceable Kingdom, University of Notre Dame Press, 1983, p. 30 (see the book; see also Ps. 24:1-4; Deut. 10:14; Josh. 7:12; Isa. 59:2; Mic. 3:4; John 19:10-11; Acts 17:24-26; 1 Tim. 6:13-16; Heb. 1:3; more at Crime, God, Life, Morality, Nature, Sin, World)

Monday, February 6, 2023

Of all the things that are needed by man, and needed in such a way that he can receive them only from God, there is one great gift. And to all the true and legitimate requests that are directed necessarily to God, there is one great answer. This one divine gift and answer is Jesus Christ.
... Karl Barth (1886-1968), Church Dogmatics, v. III, part 3, London: T & T Clark, 2010, p. 270 (see the book; see also John 4:10; Isa. 9:6; John 3:16; Rom. 5:14-17; 6:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 9:15; Eph. 2:8-9; more at Gifts, God, Jesus, Man, Truth)

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The conversion of souls is the working of the divine, not the human voice... It is from him alone that we must hope for results. We must ask him for it, so that our voice may be in harmony with the voice of majesty. May I suggest then that you prick up the ears of your heart in order to hear this inner voice and that you make an effort to hear God speaking within rather than the man speaking without... Nor do we have much difficulty in hearing this voice; the difficulty is rather in stopping our ears from hearing it. For that voice offers itself, presents itself, and never ceases to knock at the door of each one of us.
... Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), Honey and Salt: selected spiritual writings of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Random House Digital, Inc., 2007, p. 247-248 (see the book; see also Acts 13:47-48; Ps. 29:3-9; Isa. 6:9-10; Zech. 7:11-12; Matt. 11:15; 13:16; John 1:12-13; 8:47; Acts 2:4,38-39; 7:55-58; Rev. 3:20; more at Conversion, Door, Harmony, Heart, Holy Spirit, Offering, Perseverance)

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Browning ... tells us that what won him for Christ was this, that while others tried to soothe his angry conscience, and kept urging that, really, things were not nearly so bad as he was making out, Christ looked him in the eyes and told him bluntly that he was a desperate sinner, worse, much worse, even than he realized. And that, queerly enough as you might think, the man was not discomfited but heartened. Here at last, he felt, is one who understands and knows the facts. And since His desperate diagnosis is so accurate, may not His optimism also justify itself even in me. Well does He know what is in human nature, and yet, knowing the worst, He has still confident hope.
... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), The Galilean Accent, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926, p. 90-91 (see the book; see also John 2:25; Jer. 17:9; Matt. 18:11; John 5:41-42; 6:64; Gal. 5:5; Tit. 3:4-7; Heb. 4:13; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; 3:15-16; more at Christ, Confidence, Conscience, Historical, Hope, Knowledge, Optimism, Sinner)

Thursday, February 9, 2023

That no [obedience] but a perfect one will satisfy God, I hold with all my heart and strength; but that there is none else He cares for, is one of the lies of the enemy. What father is not pleased with the first tottering attempt of his little one to walk? What father would be satisfied with anything but the manly step of the full-grown son?
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), “The Way”, in Unspoken Sermons, Second Series, London: Longmans, Green, 1886, p. 10 (see the book; see also Mark 9:41; Gen. 17:1; Ps. 111:10; Matt. 10:42; 19:17-21; Mark 12:41-44; 2 Cor. 8:11-12; Eph. 4:11-14; Phil. 2:12-13; more at Enemy, Father, God, Obedience, Perfection, Pleasure, Satisfaction, Son)

Friday, February 10, 2023
Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543

Many have learned how to offer the other cheek, but do not know how to love him by whom they are struck.
... St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), from “Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount,” in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, v. VI, Philip Schaff, ed., New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888, I.58, p. 26 (see the book; see also Luke 6:29,35; Ex. 23:4-5; Ps. 57:7; Pr. 25:21-22; Lam. 3:30; Matt. 5:39,44-45; Rom. 12:14,20-21; 1 Cor. 4:12-13; 1 Pet. 2:20-23; 3:9; more at Enemy, Legalism, Love, Practical Christianity)

Saturday, February 11, 2023

I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.
... John Wesley (1703-1791), a letter in the entry for June 11, 1739, Journal of the Rev. John Wesley, v. I, London: J. Kershaw, 1827, p. 193 (see the book; see also Matt. 28:19-20; Ps. 40:9; Isa. 60:1; Matt. 5:13-14; 10:27; Luke 12:8; Acts 10:37-38; Phil. 2:14-16; Col. 4:6; Rev. 22:17; more at Duty, Gospel, Historical, Salvation, Tidings, World)

Sunday, February 12, 2023
Commemoration of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (Nicolas Herman), spiritual writer, 1691

The call to follow Christ always means a call to share the work of forgiving men their sins. Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian’s duty to bear.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship, Simon and Schuster, 1959, p. 90 (see the book; see also Matt. 18:21-22; 5:7; 6:12-15; 26:28; Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3-4; 23:34; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13; more at Call, Christ, Christlikeness, Duty, Forgiveness, Practical Christianity, Share, Suffer, Work)

Monday, February 13, 2023

We have been adopted as sons by the Lord with this one condition: that our life express Christ, the bond of our adoption. Accordingly, unless we give and devote ourselves to righteousness, we not only revolt from our Creator with wicked perfidy, but we also abjure our Savior Himself.
... 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,, p. 616 (see the book; see also 1 John 3:1-2; John 1:12-13; Rom. 8:13-17; Gal. 3:26-27; 4:4-6; Phil. 2:14-16; Heb. 2:10-11; more at Christ, Devotion, God, Life, Righteousness, Savior, Sin, Son)

Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269

He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good above every good, whereas he who loses Him loses more than the whole world. The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor, whereas no one is so rich as the man who lives in His grace.
... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ [1418], Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, II.viii.2, p. 96 (see the book; see also 1 John 5:11-12; Pr. 2:4-5; Matt. 6:19-21; 10:39; 13:44-46; Luke 9:24-25; Eph. 3:8; Col. 2:2-3; more at Goodness, Grace, Jesus, Life, Poverty, Treasure)

Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730

Today we have deflated the phrase “let God be God.” We laughingly apply it to presidents or children, usually as a form of indulgence, ... condescendingly. But for Martin Luther who coined the phrase, the context was the unrelenting call of God before which he trembled.
But if the phrase needs recovery, how much more the reality of God’s authority in our lives? At its heart, the modern world is a decisive challenge to the authority of God outside our private lives. This is true not because a few atheists trumpet that “God is dead” but because our entire culture, Christians included, so relies on the gifts of the modern world that we have “no need of God” in practice.
No more urgent task faces the church today than the recovery of the authority of faith over the modern world.
... Os Guinness (b. 1941), The Call: finding and fulfilling the central purpose of your life, Nashville: Word, 1998, reprint, Thomas Nelson Inc., 2003, p. 66 (see the book; see also Hos. 4:1; Job 38:2-3; Ps. 46:10; Isa. 55:8-9; Hos. 6:6; Matt. 28:18; Luke 10:22; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 2:9-10; Heb. 1:1-2; 1 Pet. 3:18-22; more at Call, Challenge, Culture, Faith, God, God is dead, Need, World)

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Now he that is up early and late, that sweats and labours ... that he may be some time or other rich, and live in pleasure and indulgence, lives no more to the glory of God, than he that plays and games for the same ends. For though there is a great difference between trading and gaming, yet most of that difference is lost, when men once trade with the same desires and tempers, and for the same ends that others game.
... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728], London: Methuen, 1899, p. 54 (see the book; see also Mark 4:18-19; Deut. 31:20; Ps. 37:16-17; Eccl. 5:10; Isa. 5:8-10; Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 12:15-21; 1 Tim. 6:6-11,17-19; Jas. 5:1-5; 1 John 3:17; more at Gambling, Glory of God, Labor, Life, Pleasure)

Friday, February 17, 2023
Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977

Gifts are servants, not rulers, in the mind; are bestowed on us to be serviceable unto grace, not to lead, but to follow it, and to be ready with their assistance on its exercise.
... John Owen (1616-1683), Works of John Owen, v. VII, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1852, p. 250 (see the book; see also Matt. 2:11; 1 Cor. 1:5-7; 7:7; 12:4-11; Eph. 2:8-9; 4:7-8; Jas. 1:5; 1 Pet. 4:10; more at Blessing, Gifts, Grace, Leader, Mind)

Saturday, February 18, 2023

The ‘outsider’ who knows nothing of the mixture of tradition, conviction, honest difference, and hidden resentment, that lies behind the divisions of the Christian Church sees clearly the advantage of a united Christian front and cannot see why the Churches cannot ‘get together’. The problem is doubtless complicated, for there are many honest differences held with equal sincerity, but it is only made insoluble because the different denominations are (possibly unconsciously) imagining God to be Roman or Anglican or Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian or what have you. If they could see beyond their little inadequate god, and glimpse the reality of God, they might even laugh a little and perhaps weep a little. The result would be a unity that actually does transcend differences, instead of ignoring them with public politeness and private contempt.
... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), Your God is Too Small [1953], Simon and Schuster, 2004, p. 40 (see the book; see also Rom. 15:5-7; Neh. 4:4; Matt. 12:25; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; more at Church, Contempt, Conviction, God, Laughter, Sight, Sincerity, Tradition, Unity, Weep)

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Christian life is action; not a speculating, not a debating, but a doing. One thing, and only one, in the world, has eternity stamped upon it. Feelings pass; resolves and thoughts pass; opinions change. What you have done lasts—lasts in you. Through ages, through eternity, what you have done for Christ, that, and only that, you are.
... Frederick W. Robertson (1816-1853), Sermons Preached at Trinity Chapel, Brighton, v. III, Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1859, p. 194 (see the book; see also 1 John 2:15-17; Ps. 143:10; Matt. 7:21; Mark 3:35; John 7:17; Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 4:1-2; 5:4; Rev. 14:13; more at Action, Christ, Eternity, Life)

Monday, February 20, 2023
Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906

Words said without heart are as utterly useless to our souls as the drum beating of savages before their idols! Where there is no heart, there may be lip-work and tongue-work, but there is no prayer. Saul, I have no doubt, said many a long prayer before the Lord met him on the way to Damascus. But it was not until his heart was broken that the Lord said, “He prayeth.”
... J. C. Ryle (1816-1900), A Call to Prayer, published in the 1850’s as a pamphlet, American Tract Society, 1867, sec. III (see the book; see also Acts 9:10-12; Eccl. 5:2; Isa. 29:13; Jer. 12:2; Eze. 33:31; Matt. 6:7; Mark 12:38-40; Acts 8:1-3,20-21; 9:1-16; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Tim. 2:8; Jude 1:20; more at God, Heart, Prayer, Soul)

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Some of us know what it is to love, and we know that could we only have our way, our beloved ones would be overwhelmed with blessings. All that is good, and sweet, and lovely in life would be poured out upon them from our lavish hands, had we but the power to carry out our will for them. And if this is the way of love with us, how much more must it be so with our God who is Love itself.
... Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911), Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, London: F. E. Longley, 1876, p. 43 (see the book; see also 1 John 3:1; Ps. 86:5,15; 136; Jer. 31:3; Mic. 7:18; Rom. 9:22-23; 2 Cor. 13:11; Eph. 1:7-8; 2:4-5; Tit. 3:4-7; 1 John 4:8; more at Blessing, God, Goodness, Knowledge, Love, Way)

Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Ash Wednesday

Hard were the nails and cruel,
To pierce that form of grace;
But now they hold the compass
Of heaven in its place:
The hope of Adam’s children
flows from that awful hour,
When earth beheld its Maker
Abused by human power.
... William Williams (1717-1791), in Sweet Singers of Wales: a story of Welsh hymns and their authors, Howell Elvet Lewis, London: Religious Tract Society, 1889, p. 50 (see the book; see also Matt. 27:21-23; Job 42:5-6; Ps. 33:22; 119:81; Joel 2:25; Matt. 12:21; 1 Cor. 1:18; Tit. 2:11-13; more at Abasement, Cross, Grace, Heaven, Sin)

Thursday, February 23, 2023
Feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155

It is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Problem of Pain, New York: Macmillan, 1944, p. 31 (see the book; see also John 13:36; Matt. 7:13-14; 16:24; 20:22; Mark 8:34-35; 10:15,23-27; Luke 9:23-24,62; John 13:33,37-38; 16:33; 21:18-19; 2 Pet. 1:10-11; 1 John 2:1; 4:4; more at Destiny, Glory, God, Growth, Love)

Friday, February 24, 2023

God is often faulted for creating a world full of suffering and evil. The issue is complex, both philosophically and theologically; but surely it is inappropriate to blame God for a problem He did not initiate, and [that is] in fact, one which He has sought to alleviate, at great cost to Himself. God sent His Son to inaugurate the Kingdom and to “destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” God is not the cause of suffering and sickness; He is its cure! Jesus’ ministry and death guarantee this.
... George Mallone (b. 1944), Those Controversial Gifts, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1983, p. 109 (see the book; see also Heb. 2:14-15; Isa. 25:7-8; 53:4-7; Hos. 13:14; Matt. 12:12; John 12:31-32; Col. 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 9:15; Jas. 5:14-15; Rev. 1:18; more at Death, Devil, Evil, God, Jesus, Kingdom, Sickness, Suffer, Weakness, World)

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Blessed are those who have realized their own utter helplessness, and who have put their whole trust in God. If people have realized their own utter helplessness, and have put their whole trust in God, there will enter into their lives two things.... They will become completely detached from material things, for they will know that things do not have the power to bring happiness or security; and they will become completely attached to God, for they will know that God alone can bring them help, hope, and strength. Those who are poor in spirit are men and women who have realized that things mean nothing, and that God means everything.
... William Barclay (1907-1978), The Gospel of Matthew, v. 2, Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1958, p. 105-106 (see the book; see also Matt. 5:3; Ps. 51:17; Pr. 16:19; Isa. 57:15; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 6:19-20; Luke 12:16-21; Titus 2:11-12; Heb. 11:24-26; 1 John 2:15-17; more at Blessing, God, Helplessness, Knowledge, Material things, Security, Trust)

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Our small progress deprives us of all natural encouragement. For our minds must be thoroughly saturated with supernatural principles, always to realize that one evil thought repelled, one angry humour smartly chastised, one base envy well warred down, one thorough Deo gratias [God be thanked] in a piece of ill-luck, may be really hundreds of leagues of progress; and each of them worth more than the whole world to us, as something which pleases God, and which God alone has enabled us to do.
... Frederick William Faber (1814-1863), Growth in Holiness, London: Thomas Richardson & Son, 1860, third edition, p. 123 (see the book; see also Rev. 19:7-8; Ps. 4:4; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 5:48; Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 5:22-23; Phil. 1:9-11; 2:14-16; 4:8; Col. 3:12-13; 1 Thes. 4:7; Heb. 12:1; Jas. 3:17-18; 2 Pet. 1:4-8; 1 John 2:5; more at Encouragement, Envy, God, Nature, Pleasure, Progress, World)

Monday, February 27, 2023
Feast of George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633

Yet, Lord, restore thine image, hear my call:
And though my hard heart scarce to thee can groan,
Remember that thou once didst write in stone.
... George Herbert (1593-1633), The Poetical Works of George Herbert, New York: D. Appleton, 1857, p. 44 (see the book; see also Ex. 32:15-16; Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; Ex. 24:12; 31:18; Eze. 36:26; Mark 10:5; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:3,18; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10; 1 John 3:2; more at Call, Heart, Remembrance, Renewal)

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

If [it] yields to the drift of the age and surrenders its hold of the awful but glorious individualism of the Christian salvation,... the Church itself will not be much enriched by an accession of panic-stricken fugitives from a Personal God. And many unhappy young people are discovering now that Church membership is not the equivalent of being reconciled to God, and a kind of Confirmation is not a substitute for Conversion.
... William Russell Maltby (1866-1951), Obiter Scripta, London: Epworth Press, 1952, p. 117-118 (see the book; see also Eph. 1:11-12; Luke 19:2-10; Acts 8:30-36; 13:48; Rom. 5:11; 8:29-30; 2 Cor. 5:17-19; Eph. 1:4-6; Philemon 1:10; 1 Pet. 2:9; more at Authenticity, Church, Conversion, Discovery, God, Reconciliation, Salvation)


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