Saturday, August 29, 2020

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Coleridge: Christian liberty

Saturday, August 29, 2020
Meditation:
    [Jesus:] “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
    —Matthew 12:7-8 (NIV)
Quotation:
    Luther, in speaking of the good by itself and the good for its expediency alone, instances the observance of the Christian day of rest,—a day of repose from manual labour, and of activity in spiritual labour,—a day of joy and cooperation in the work of Christ’s creation. “Keep it holy,”—says he,—“for its use’ sake—both to body and soul! But if anywhere the day is made holy for the mere day’s sake,—if anywhere anyone sets up its observance upon a Jewish foundation, then I order you to work on it, to ride on it, to dance on it, to feast on it—to do anything that shall reprove this encroachment on the Christian spirit and liberty.”
    ... Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), Table Talk, 2nd ed., London: John Murray, 1836, May 19, 1834, p. 298 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 12:7-8; Exod. 20:8; Mark 2:27; Gal. 4:9-11
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, may my rest serve You.
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Friday, August 28, 2020

Augustine: the reward of faith

Friday, August 28, 2020
    Feast of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Teacher, 430
Meditation:
    [Jesus:] “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.”
    —John 6:44 (NIV)
Quotation:
    Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that you may understand.
    ... St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John, vol. i, Marcus Dods, ed., as vol. x of The Works of Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Edinbugh: T & T Clark, 1873, tract. XXIX.6, p. 405 (see the book)
    See also John 6:44-45; Jer. 31:34; John 6:38-40; 7:14-18; 16:13
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You teach truth and grant Your people faith to understand.
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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Rutherford: crippled faith

Thursday, August 27, 2020
    Feast of Monica, Mother of Augustine of Hippo, 387
Meditation:
    “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
    Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
    —Mark 9:23-24 (NIV)
Quotation:
    I can let Christ grip me; but I cannot grip him. I love... to sit on Christ’s knee; but I cannot set my feet to the ground, for afflictions bring the cramp upon my faith. All I now do is to hold out a lame faith to Christ, like a beggar holding out a stump, instead of an arm or leg, and cry, Lord Jesus, work a miracle.
    ... Samuel Rutherford (1600-1664), Letters of Samuel Rutherford, Edinburgh: William Whyte & Co., 1848, letter, Feb. 9, 1637, p. 178 (see the book)
    See also Mark 9:23-24; Matt. 11:4-6; 15:30-31; Luke 7:22-23; Acts 14:8
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You are the God of miracles.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Kraemer: independence then and now

Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Meditation:
    It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
    —Ephesians 4:11-14 (NIV)
Quotation:
    The relevance of the laity received the greatest emphasis in the sectarian apostolic movements after the 12th century, and especially in the 14th century through Wycliffe. The specific significance of this peculiar set of protests and movements is that their inspiration was purely religious. They squarely confronted the “ecclesiastical-hierarchical” line with the “biblical” one. They were, of course, not wholly unaffected by repercussions of the conflict between the worldly-conceived papal theocracy and the nationalistic demands of the nations and their rulers for an independent status, but their heart lay really with a reform of the Church in the light of the Word of God.
    fn. Looking back on these struggles, one is again and again struck by the daring and independence of mind shown in the Middle Ages, a time which is always considered to be marked by submissiveness, especially to authority claimed on religious grounds as necessary to salvation. This amazement increases when one takes into consideration our own time, which regards itself by definition as the time of non-submissiveness. Nevertheless, whatever movements of protest and conflict there may be to-day against the hierarchy, they are very weak in daring and independence in comparison with those of the Middle Ages. In our secularistic age, in which submissiveness is devalued on principle, submissiveness to the hierarchical claims of the Church has never before been so undisputed.
    ... Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965), A Theology of the Laity, London: Lutterworth Press, 1958, p. 60-61 (see the book)
    See also Eph. 4:11-15; Luke 9:57-62; Jas. 1:5-6
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You truly lead Your church.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Cowper: what thou has won

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Meditation:
    Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
    —Matthew 5:7 (NIV)
Quotation:
Thy country, Wilberforce, with just disdain,
Hears thee, by cruel men and impious, call’d
Fanatic, for thy zeal to loose th’ enthrall’d
From exile, public sale, and slav’ry’s chain.
Friend of the poor, the wrong’d, the fetter-gall’d,
Fear not lest labour such as thine be vain!
Thou hast achiev’d a part; hast gain’d the ear
Of Britain’s senate to thy glorious cause;
Hope smiles, joy springs, and tho’ cold caution pause
And weave delay, the better hour is near,
That shall remunerate thy toils severe
By peace for Afric, fenc’d with British laws.
    Enjoy what thou hast won, esteem and love
    From all the just on earth, and all the blest above!
    ... William Cowper (1731-1800), The Works of William Cowper: his life, letters, and poems, New York: R. Carter & Brothers, 1851, p. 643 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 5:7; Isa. 61:1-2; Matt. 5:9; Luke 4:14-21
Quiet time reflection:
    Lead us to know, Lord, those whom You have raised up to oppose injustice in our time.
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Monday, August 24, 2020

Booth: save the body for the soul

Monday, August 24, 2020
    Feast of Bartholomew the Apostle
Meditation:
    [Jesus:] “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”
    —John 3:6-7 (NIV)
Quotation:
    [Continued from yesterday] Insoluble [the problem] is, I am absolutely convinced, unless it is possible to bring new moral life into the soul of these people. This should be the first object of every social reformer, whose work will only last if it is built on the solid foundation of a new birth, to cry, “You must be born again!”
    At the risk of being misunderstood and misrepresented, I must assert in the most unqualified way that it is primarily and mainly for the sake of saving the soul that I seek the salvation of the body.
    But what is the use of preaching the Gospel to men whose whole attention is concentrated upon a mad, desperate struggle to keep themselves alive? You might as well give a tract to a shipwrecked sailor who is battling with the surf which has drowned his comrades and threatens to drown him. He will not listen to you. Nay, he cannot hear you. The first thing to do is to get him at least a footing on firm ground, and to give him room to live. Then you may have a chance. At present you have none.
    ... William Booth (1829-1912), In Darkest England, London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1890, p. 44-45 (see the book)
    See also John 3:6-7; Amos 5:15; Matt. 8:24-27
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, use my hands to hold out the Gospel to Your people.
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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Booth: beginning the work

Sunday, August 23, 2020
    Commemoration of Rose of Lima, Contemplative, 1617
Meditation:
    This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
    —John 3:19 (NIV)
Quotation:
    The renovation of our social system is a work so vast that no one of us, nor all of us put together, can define all the measures that will have to be taken before we attain even the Cab-Horse Ideal of existence for our children and our children’s children. All that we can do is attack, in a serious, practical spirit, the worst and most pressing evils, knowing that if we do our duty, we obey the voice of God. He is the Captain of our Salvation. If we but follow where he leads we shall not want for marching orders, nor need we imagine that he will narrow the field of operations.
    I am laboring under no delusions as to the possibility of inaugurating the millennium by any social specific. In the struggle of life, the weakest will go to the wall, and there are so many weak. The fittest, in tooth and claw, will survive. All that we can do is to soften the lot of the unfit and make their suffering less horrible than it is at present. No outside propping will make some men stand erect. All material help from without is useful only in so far as it develops moral strength within. And some men seem to have lost even the very faculty of self-help. There is an immense lack of common sense and of vital energy on the part of multitudes. [Continued tomorrow]
    ... William Booth (1829-1912), In Darkest England, London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1890, p. 43-44 (see the book)
    See also John 3:19; Isa. 60:2; Rom. 12:9
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You have sent us to the least of Your brethren.
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