Saturday, December 09, 2017

Bounds: peril in orthodoxy

Saturday, December 9, 2017
    At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
    He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.”
    —Matthew 12:1-6 (NIV)
    We love orthodoxy. It is good. It is the best. It is the clean, clear-cut teaching of God’s Word, the trophies won by truth in its conflict with error, the levees which faith has raised against the desolating floods of honest or reckless misbelief or unbelief; but orthodoxy, clear and hard as crystal, suspicious and militant, may be but the letter well shaped, well named, and well learned, the letter which kills. Nothing is so dead as a dead orthodoxy—too dead to speculate, too dead to think, to study, or to pray.
    ... E. M. Bounds (1835-1913), Preacher and Prayer, Publishing House of the M. E. Church, South, Dallas, Tex., 1907, p. 20-21 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 12:1-6,10-13; John 6:27,63; Rom. 3:20; 7:6-9; 8:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:6-9
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, cure me of my self-righteousness.
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Friday, December 08, 2017

Barclay: true worship

Friday, December 8, 2017
    Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
    —John 4:23-24 (NIV)
    The true, the genuine worship is when man, through his spirit, attains to friendship and intimacy with God. True and genuine worship is not to come to a certain place; it is not to go through a certain ritual or liturgy; it is not even to bring certain gifts. True worship is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of man, speaks to and meets with God, who is immortal and invisible.
    ... William Barclay (1907-1978), The Gospel of John, v. 1, Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1965, p. 154 (see the book)
    See also John 4:23-24; Isa. 29:13; 48:1-2; Heb. 10:22; Jas. 4:8
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You have granted me true friendship with You.
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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Ambrose: very God and very man

Thursday, December 7, 2017
    Feast of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher, 397
    When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
    When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
    “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
    Jesus wept.
    Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
    —John 11:32-36 (NIV)
    They do greatly err who acknowledge that the flesh of man was taken on Himself by Christ, but deny that the affections of man were taken; and they contravene the purpose of the Lord Jesus Himself, since thus they take away from man what constitutes man, for man cannot be man without human affections.
    ... St. Ambrose of Milan (Aurelius Ambrosius) (339-397), The Life and Times of St. Ambrose, v. II, Frederick Homes Dudden, The Clarendon Press, 1935, p. 596 (see the book)
    See also John 11:32-36; Isa. 53:3; Luke 19:41-42; Heb. 2:16-17; 4:15
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord Jesus, You are my example in all things.
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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Owen: the nature of temptation

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
    Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326
    [Jesus:] “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”
    —Matthew 15:17-20 (NIV)
    Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before.
    ... John Owen (1616-1683), The Nature, Power, Deceit, and Prevalency of the remainders of Indwelling Sin in Believers [1668], in Works of John Owen, v. VI, New York: R. Carter & Bros., 1851, p. 169 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 15:11,17-20; Ps. 36:1-3; 51:7-10; 64:3-8; Matt. 12:34-37; Luke 6:45; Jas. 3:10
Quiet time reflection:
    Cleanse me within, O Lord.
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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Cassels: rational skepticism

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
    Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.
    —Job 21:14-16 (NIV)
    In deciding which passages he will accept, [the “rational skeptic”] proceeds on the a priori assumption that miracles can’t happen. So he automatically writes off any Biblical account of a wondrous happening which suggests that there is an order of reality transcending the observable regularities of nature and occasionally breaking in upon them.
    Nor is rational skepticism content with jettisoning the Bible’s miracle stories. It also dismisses other passages on the grounds that they reflect the ignorance and prejudice of a particular age, or the propaganda interests of the Church at a certain stage of its development. Its basic rule of Biblical interpretation is: “When in doubt, throw it out.” And the highest scores in the game of radical reductionism are awarded to pedagogues who find the most novel and far-fetched reasons for doubting that any part of the Bible really means what it says.
    ... Louis Cassels (1922-1974), Your Bible, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1967, p. 6-7 (see the book)
    See also Job 21:14-16; Ps. 14:1-3; 19:9; 119:11; 138:2; Pr. 1:22,29; John 3:19-20; 8:45-47; Rom. 1:28; 2 Thess. 2:10-12; 2 Tim. 4:3-4
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, forgive me for ever having doubted Your word.
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Monday, December 04, 2017

Calvin: straying from Christ

Monday, December 4, 2017
    Commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637
    Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    —2 Peter 1:10-11 (NIV)
    Some men, not content with [Christ] alone, are borne hither and thither from one hope to another; even if they concern themselves chiefly with him, they nevertheless stray from the right way in turning some part of their thinking in another direction. Yet such distrust cannot creep in where men have once for all truly known the abundance of his blessings.
    ... 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, II.xvi.19, p. 476 (see the book)
    See also 2 Pet. 1:10-11; Ps. 36:8; Isa. 35:1-2; Rom. 5:17; Heb. 6:11; 7:25; 1 John 3:19-21
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, make me to be satisfied with You alone.
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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Brooks: O little town of Bethlehem

Sunday, December 3, 2017
    Advent I
    Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552
    When [Herod] had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”
    —Matthew 2:4-6 (NIV)
O little town of Bethlehem,
    How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
    The silent stars go by:
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
    The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
    Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary;
    And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
    Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together
    Proclaim the holy birth;
And praises sing to God the King,
    And peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently,
    The wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
    The blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming,
    But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
    The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
    Descend to us, we pray,
Cast out our sins, and enter in,
    Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
    The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
    Our Lord Emmanuel.
    ... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Christmas Songs and Easter Carols, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1904, p. 11 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 2:4-6; Mic. 5:2; Luke 1:77-79; 2:8-14
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You are our Shepherd still.

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