Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Ambrose: obedience unto death

Wednesday, December 7, 2016
    Feast of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher, 397
Meditation:
    [Jesus:] “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
    —John 10:17-18 (ESV)
Quotation:
    It is a great mystery of divine love, that not even in Christ was exception made of the death of the body; and although He was the Lord of nature, He refused not the law of the flesh which He had taken upon Him. It is necessary for me to die; for Him it was not necessary.
    ... St. Ambrose of Milan (Aurelius Ambrosius) (339-397), A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, second series, v. X, Philip Schaff & Henry Wace, ed., New York: Christian Literature Company, 1896, p. 61 (see the book)
    See also John 10:17-18; Isa. 53:10-12; Hos. 13:14; Matt. 23:53-56; John 2:19-21; 19:11; Acts 2:24; Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 2:9, 14-15
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord Jesus, You have become one of us, that we may become like You.
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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Target: evangelism

Tuesday, December 6, 2016
    Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326
Meditation:
    Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
    —Acts 2:37-39 (ESV)
Quotation:
    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 (b. 1924), 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
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, grant me the heart that loves the lost.
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Monday, December 05, 2016

Pascal: made for God or not?

Monday, December 5, 2016
Meditation:
    Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
    —Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV)
Quotation:
    If man is not made for God, why is he only happy in God? If man is made for God, why is he so opposed to God?
    ... Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées (Thoughts) [1660], P.F. Collier & Son, 1910, #438, p. 150 (see the book)
    See also Gen. 1:26-27; Matt. 10:22; Acts 17:23; Rom. 1:20-24
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, Your likeness is both burden and blessing.
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Sunday, December 04, 2016

Hoskyns: ignoring Biblical discipline

Sunday, December 4, 2016
    Advent II
    Commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637
Meditation:
    Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
    —1 Timothy 4:13-16 (ESV)
Quotation:
    Owing to the pressure of an ever-increasing number of subjects introduced into the curriculum of a school, it is only too possible for men to be held to be educated and intelligent without ever having seriously tested their intelligence upon, say, the Book of Job, or upon the Epistle of Paul to the Romans. No doubt there are very good excuses for this lack of discipline. Many forward-thinking men will tell you that the Bible is not worth serious attention, that it is simple, trivial, and out-of-date; and so, even though you may hear the Bible read, read it yourselves, or even study it, the tension of your energy may be relaxed—subtly relaxed. But it is quite certain that a widespread relaxation of the tension of Biblical interpretation has disastrous effects. For there is no corruption that threatens a country so surely as the corruption or sentimentalizing of its religion; and there is no corruption of the Christian religion so swift as that which sets in when the Church loses its strict Biblical discipline.
    ... Sir Edwyn C. Hoskyns (1884-1937), We are the Pharisees, London: SPCK, 1960, p. 5 (see the book)
    See also 1 Tim. 4:13-16; Ps. 21; Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 4:22; 1 John 5:19
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, open Scripture to me that I may understand Your word.
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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Moule: unity

Saturday, December 3, 2016
    Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552
Meditation:
    [Jesus:] “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
    —John 17:22-23 (ESV)
Quotation:
    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
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You are the center of all that happens.
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Friday, December 02, 2016

Gossip: danger in contentment

Friday, December 2, 2016
Meditation:
I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
    and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
    —Psalm 119:75 (ESV)
Quotation:
    This insensibility of ours is a bad symptom. For one thing, it implies that we have no spiritual ambition, else we should not be satisfied with such poor lives; that we cannot have thought out the fact of Jesus Christ, and how immeasurably He has raised the standard. Will you hang your wretched daubs beside the works of Titian and Michelangelo and not be shamed by the enormous contrast, stand back and say, with a satisfied smirk, “That is pretty good, you know!” And can you live face to face with Jesus Christ, and be content with what you are?
    ... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), From the Edge of the Crowd, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1924, p. 31 (see the book)
    See also Ps. 119:75; Hos. 8:1; Phil. 4:11-13; Heb. 12:3-8
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, I am ashamed of my sins.
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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Trueblood: the unexplored audience

Thursday, December 1, 2016
    Commemoration of Charles de Foucauld, Hermit, Servant of the Poor, 1916
Meditation:
    So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
    —1 Peter 5:1-3 (ESV)
Quotation:
    Beautiful sanctuaries, paved parking lots, and new liturgies will do very little for people who sit in worship with their fingers crossed and do not really believe the faith which is expounded. Often the layman dismisses what the preacher says as something irrelevant to his situation and generation. When he joins a group where he is no longer afraid to be frank, the supposedly faithful member often admits that he has never really accepted what he thinks he has heard. He has, for example, grave reservations about the idea of creation. Did not the world evolve of itself? Do we really need the hypothesis of Infinite Purpose to make sense of the physical, biological, and psychological development? These questions seldom come to the surface when the Church provides merely a one-way preaching. There is little chance of renewal if all that we have is the arrangement by which one speaks and the others listen. One trouble with this conventional system is th at the speaker never knows what the unanswered questions are, or what reservations remain in the layman’s mentality.
    ... Elton Trueblood (1900-1994), The Incendiary Fellowship, New York: Harper, 1967, p. 61 (see the book)
    See also 1 Pet. 5:1-3; Eze. 34:4; Matt. 20:25-26; 23:8-10; Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:25-27; 1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 4:5
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, grant my pastor and my elders wisdom, discernment, and a listening ear.
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