Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Crashaw: Two went to pray?

Tuesday, September 21, 2021
    Feast of Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist
Meditation:
    To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
    “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
    “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    —Luke 18:9-14 (NIV)
Quotation:
Two went up into the Temple to pray.

Two went to pray? O rather say,
One went to brag, th’ other to pray.

One stands up close, and treads on high,
Where th’ other dares not lend his eye.

One nearer to God’s altar trod,
The other to the altar’s God.
    ... Richard Crashaw (1613-1649), from “Divine Epigrams”, The Complete Works of Richard Crashaw, London: J. R. Smith, 1858, p. 20 (see the book)
    See also Luke 18:9-14; Ps. 25:7; 130:3-4; Luke 1:50-53
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, my sin is no better than anyone else’s.

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Monday, September 20, 2021

Phillips: this temporary world

Monday, September 20, 2021
    Feast of John Coleridge Patteson, First Bishop of Melanesia, & his Companions, Martyrs, 1871
Meditation:
    Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
    —Matthew 24:1-2 (NIV)
Quotation:
    A vast amount of Christian thought and action is spent upon the improvement and development of man in this temporary set-up... But if we swing too far [in that direction] we find ourselves party to a point of view which only tolerates Christianity because of its social implications; because it tends to stabilize the home, to improve health and living conditions, or to reduce the rate of juvenile delinquency. Before we know where we are we have lost the authentic, other-worldly note; we find ourselves regarding death, like any pagan, as an utter disaster; and, like any disillusioned humanist, becoming bitterly disappointed that men do not always “love the highest when they see it.” The emphasis, you see, even among Christians has shifted to this world.
    ... J. B. Phillips (1906-1982), Making Men Whole, London: Highway Press, 1952, p. 68 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 24:1-2; 26:6-13; Mark 15:12-14; John 5:39-40; 18:36; Heb. 13:14
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, maintain our focus on You.
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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Cowper: Have you no words?

Sunday, September 19, 2021
    Commemoration of Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, 690
Meditation:
    Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
    —James 5:9 (NIV)
Quotation:
Have you no words? ah! think again,
Words flow apace when you complain;
And fill your fellow-creature’s ear
With the sad tale of all your care.

Were half the breath thus vainly spent,
To Heav’n in supplication sent;
Your cheerful song would oft’ner be,
“Hear what the Lord has done for me.”
    ... William Cowper (1731-1800), in The Works of William Cowper: his life, letters, and poems, New York: R. Carter & Brothers, 1851, p. 525 (see the book)
    See also Jas. 5:9; Eccl. 7:10; Rom. 9:18-20; Phil. 2:14-16; Jude 1:16
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, help me to embrace what You have given, easy and hard alike.

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

MacDonald: faith is righteousness

Saturday, September 18, 2021
    Commemoration of George MacDonald, Spiritual Writer, 1905
Meditation:
    What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
    —Romans 4:3 (NIV)
Quotation:
    The faith of Abraham is reckoned to him for righteousness... To call the faith of a man his righteousness is simply to speak the truth. Was it not righteous in Abraham to obey God? The Jews placed righteousness in keeping all the particulars of the law of Moses: Paul says faith in God was counted righteousness before Moses was born. You may answer, Abraham was unjust in many things, and by no means a righteous man. True; he was not a righteous man in any complete sense; his righteousness would never have satisfied Paul; neither, you may be sure, did it satisfy Abraham; but his faith was nevertheless righteousness, and if it had not been counted to him for righteousness, there would have been falsehood somewhere, for such faith as Abraham’s is righteousness. It was no mere intellectual recognition of the existence of a God, which is consistent with the deepest atheism; it was that faith which is one with action: ‘He went out, not knowing whither he went.’ The very act of believing in God after such fashion that, when the time of action comes, the man will obey God, is the highest act, the deepest, loftiest righteousness of which man is capable, is at the root of all other righteousness, and the spirit of it will work till the man is perfect.
    ... George MacDonald (1824-1905), “Righteousness”, in Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, London: Longmans, Green, 1889, p. 213-214 (see the book)
    See also Rom. 4:3; Gen. 12:4-5; 15:6; Rom. 4:18-24; Phil. 3:8-9
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, grant me a heart that believes You.
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Friday, September 17, 2021

Faber: the thought of heaven

Friday, September 17, 2021
    Feast of St. Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen, Visionary, 1179
Meditation:
    [Jesus:] “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
    —Matthew 13:43 (NIV)
Quotation:
    There is one thought out of which a moderately cheerful man can always make some satisfactory sunshine, if not a sufficiency of it. It is the thought of the bright populous heaven. There is joy there at least, if there is joy nowhere else. There is true service of God there, however poor and interested the love of Him may be on earth. Multitudes are abounding in the golden light there, even if they that rejoice on earth be few. At this hour it is all going on, so near us that we cannot be hopelessly unhappy with so much happiness so near.
    ... Frederick William Faber (1814-1863), “Kind Actions” in Spiritual Conferences, London: Thomas Richardson & Son, 1860, p. 44 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 13:43; Dan. 12:3; 1 Cor. 6:1-3; Rev. 21:23
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, Your joy overcomes all the darkness of the world.
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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Cyprian: the patience of the Lord

Thursday, September 16, 2021
    Feast of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, Martyr, 258
    Commemoration of Ninian, Bishop of Galloway, Apostle to the Picts, c. 430
    Commemoration of Edward Bouverie Pusey, Priest, tractarian, 1882
Meditation:
    But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
    Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
    —2 Peter 3:10-13 (NIV)
Quotation:
    How great is the Lord Jesus, and how great is His patience, that He who is adored in heaven is not yet avenged on earth! Let us, beloved brethren, consider His patience in our persecutions and sufferings; let us give an obedience full of expectation to His advent; and let us not hasten, servants as we are, to be defended before our Lord with irreligious and immodest eagerness. Let us rather press onward and labour, and, watching with our whole heart, and stedfast to all endurance, let us keep the Lord’s precepts; so that when that day of anger and vengeance shall come, we may not be punished with the impious and sinners, but may be honoured with the righteous and those that fear God.
    ... St. Cyprian (Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus) (?-258), Treatise IX. On the Advantage of Patience, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. V, Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, trs., Buffalo: Christian Literature Company, 1886, p. 491 (see the book)
    See also 2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rom. 12:19; John 14:15; 2 Cor. 4:6; Phil. 3:13-14; Col. 1:10-12
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, grant us Your strength to continue in patience.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Fenelon: concerning a real conversion

Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Meditation:
Offer right sacrifices
    and trust in the LORD.
    —Psalm 4:5 (NIV)
Quotation:
    Put not your trust in yourself, or in anything created; it is all a mere nothing, which can never satisfy the heart of man, made as it is for God. But never mistrust Him Who contains every good thing in Himself, and Who mercifully fills you with disgust for all else, in order to bring you forcibly back to Himself.
    ... François Fénelon (1651-1715), Spiritual Letters of Archbishop Fénelon. Letters to men, London: Rivingtons, 1877, p. 11 (see the book)
    See also Ps. 4:5; 146:3; 1 Cor. 2:12; 1 Tim. 6:17; 1 John 2:15-17; Rev. 2:4
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You always bring me back to You.
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