Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Herbert: Thou that hast giv'n so much to me

Tuesday, February 27, 2024
    Feast of George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633
Meditation:
    And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.”
    —Revelation 11:16-17 (NIV)
Quotation:
Thou that hast giv’n so much to me,
Give one thing more, a gratefull heart.
See how thy beggar works on thee
        By art.

He makes thy gifts occasion more,
And sayes, if he in this be crost,
All thou hast giv’n him heretofore
        Is lost.

But thou didst reckon, when at first
Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
What it would come to at the worst
        To save.

Perpetuall knockings at thy doore,
Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
Gift upon gift, much would have more,
        And comes.

This notwithstanding, thou wentst on,
And didst allow us all our noise:
Nay, thou hast made a sigh and grone
        Thy joyes.

Not that thou hast not still above
Much better tunes, than grones can make;
But that these countrey-aires thy love
        Did take.

Wherefore I crie, and crie again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankfull heart obtain
        Of thee:

Not thankfull, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare dayes:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
        Thy praise.
    ... George Herbert (1593-1633), The Poetical Works of George Herbert, New York: D. Appleton, 1857, p. 157-158 (see the book)
    See also Rev. 11:16-17; Ps. 35:18; 107:1; 136:1-3; Matt. 6:9; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 15:57; Eph. 5:19-20; Col. 3:17; Heb. 13:15; Rev. 4:9
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, correct my ingratitude.

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Monday, February 26, 2024

Gossip: be a letter from God

Monday, February 26, 2024
Meditation:
    You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
    —2 Corinthians 3:3 (NIV)
Quotation:
    You, too, are called to be an open letter, as Paul puts it, written by Christ’s own hand, showing those round about you what things Christ can do. We are to go into the world and so to live our ordinary lives that, all unconsciously to us, those among whom we move will look at us again, and will begin to say, You know I used to doubt if there was much in Christianity save talk. But I have revised my opinion. There’s So-and-so (that’s you, you understand), that is a man in whom the thing is obviously working out. He used to be so touchy, so opinionative, so mean and shabby in his views, so dully ordinary. Yet now, undoubtedly, the man has won to self-control and a large generous mind, and—yea, I know it’s a queer thing to say—but he has won to something more, something that somehow—though he never speaks about those things—makes you remember Jesus Christ!
    ... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), The Galilean Accent, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926, p. 28 (see the book)
    See also 2 Cor. 3:3,18; Isa. 42:6-7; Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 1:8; Eph. 1:4; 4:15; 1 Thess. 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 1:16
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, have You more changes to make within me?
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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Beecher: piety first

Sunday, February 25, 2024
Meditation:
    In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
    —Hebrews 5:12-14 (NIV)
Quotation:
    The way to begin a Christian life is not to study theology. Piety before theology. Right living will produce right thinking. Yet many men, when their consciences are aroused, run for catechisms, and commentaries, and systems. They do not mean to be shallow Christians. They intend to be thorough, if they enter upon the Christian life at all. Now, theologies are well in their place; but repentance and love must come before all other experiences. First a cure for your sin-sick soul, and then theologies.
    ... Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), Life Thoughts: gathered from the extemporaneous discourses of Henry Ward Beecher, Edna Dean Proctor, ed., Sheldon, 1860, p. 2 (see the book)
    See also Heb. 5:12-14; Pr. 9:10; Matt. 4:17; 11:29-30; Mark 1:15; 10:15; John 5:39-40; 13:15; Acts 3:19-20; 20:21; 1 Cor. 3:1-3; Phil. 2:5; 1 Pet. 2:1-3; 1 John 2:6
Quiet time reflection:
    Am I mature enough in love and purity to seek the deeper things of God?
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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Fuller: God who sees all

Saturday, February 24, 2024
Meditation:
    Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
    —Romans 8:26 (KJV)
Quotation:
    Sorrow for sin and sorrow for suffering are ofttimes so twisted and interwoven in the same person—yea, in the same sigh and groan—that sometimes it is impossible for the party himself so to separate and divide them in his own sense and feeling, as to know which proceeds from the one and which from the other. Only the all-seeing eye of an infinite God is able to discern and distinguish them.
    ... Thomas Fuller (1608-1661), The Cause and Cure of a Wounded Conscience [1655], Dialogue I. (see the book)
    See also Rom. 8:26; Ps. 6:3; 42:1-4; 69:3; 77:1-3; 119:81; 143:4-7; Isa. 35:10; 53:11; 2 Cor. 5:1-4; 7:10-11
Quiet time reflection:
    Do I trust God to distinguish sorrow for sin from among my sorrows?
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Friday, February 23, 2024

Buechner: the bridge

Friday, February 23, 2024
    Feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155
Meditation:
You know my folly, O God;
    my guilt is not hidden from you.
    —Psalm 69:5 (NIV)
Quotation:
    To confess your sins to God is not to tell him anything he doesn’t already know. Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you. When you confess them, they become the bridge.
    ... Frederick Buechner (1926-2022), Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, Harper & Row, 1973, revised, HarperCollins, 1993, p. 15 (see the book)
    See also Ps. 69:5; 2 Sam. 24:10; Ps. 32:5; 41:4; 51:2-5; Isa. 59:12-13; Jer. 14:7; Matt. 6:8; Luke 15:17-21; Jas. 5:16; 1 John 1:9
Quiet time reflection:
    Is there some sin I hide from confession?
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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Cowper: O for a closer walk with God

Thursday, February 22, 2024
Meditation:
    Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
    —Luke 24:32 (KJV)
Quotation:
O for a closer walk with God,
    A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
    That leads me to the Lamb!

Return, O holy Dove, return,
    Sweet messenger of rest:
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
    And drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
    Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
    And worship only Thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
    Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
    That leads me to the Lamb.
    ... William Cowper (1731-1800), included in The Works of William Cowper: his life, letters, and poems, New York: R. Carter & Brothers, 1851, p. 670 (see the book)
    See also Luke 24:32; Gen. 5:24; Deut. 28:9; John 1:29,32; 2 Cor. 5:7; Col. 2:6-7; Rev. 5:12
Quiet time reflection:
    Is my walk close to the Lord?

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Lewis: avoiding a delicate subject

Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Meditation:
    For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
    —Hebrews 9:15 (NIV)
Quotation:
    We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning Heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about “pie in the sky,” and of being told that we are trying to “escape” from the duty of making a happy world here and now, into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is “pie in the sky” or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no.
    ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Problem of Pain, New York: Macmillan, 1944, p. 132-133 (see the book)
    See also Heb. 9:15; Matt. 5:11-12; 6:1,9-10,20; Mark 10:21; 12:25; Luke 6:22-23; 11:2; 18:22; John 3:13; 14:2-3; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 1:7; Phil. 3:20; Col. 1:5-6; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; 1 Pet. 1:3-5
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You keep Your promises.
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