Saturday, February 20, 2021

Thomas a Kempis: yielding for the fellowship

Saturday, February 20, 2021
    Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906
Meditation:
    Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
    —Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)
Quotation:
    True it is that every man willingly followeth his own bent, and is the more inclined to those who agree with him. But if Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to have a perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to hear the opinions of others. Though thine own opinion be good, yet if for the love of God thou foregoest it, and followest that of another, thou shalt the more profit thereby.
    ... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ [1418], Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, I.ix.2, p. 41 (see the book)
    See also Eph. 5:21; Rom. 12:3; 14:13-15; 1 Cor. 3:18-20; Jas. 1:19-20; 3:17-18
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, restrain my vaulting pride.
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Friday, February 19, 2021

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Johnson: the power of God rather than man

Friday, February 19, 2021
Meditation:
    He must increase, but I must decrease.
    —John 3:30 (KJV)
Quotation:
    That God loves us in spite of our sin is the Gospel truth, but this truth can only be shared by words, since good deeds are easily [taken to show] the opposite—that we love God. Faith is not understood when [it is] only demonstrated by life. The more sanctified a life without the verbal witness, the greater the danger of the Christian’s goodness getting in the way. Should a person by the grace of God become easier to live with, he doesn’t need to call attention to it: it will speak for itself. He can instead seek to balance the reverse effect of the good image by occasionally speaking of the unfavorable realities within, those parts that are still changing. In this way, his external behavior by contrast can point to the power of God, rather than to the effort of man. When we decrease, He can increase, but not until.
    ... Paul G. Johnson (b. 1931), Buried Alive, Richmond: John Knox Press, 1968, p. 148 (see the book)
    See also John 3:30; Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:12; Phil. 3:12-15; Col. 1:10-12
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, may those who see me see only that I point to Thee.
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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Bonhoeffer: belonging to one another

Thursday, February 18, 2021
Meditation:
    Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.
    —Romans 13:8 (NIV)
Quotation:
    Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily community of many years, Christian community is solely this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.
    ... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954], tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 31 (see the book)
    See also Rom. 13:8; John 13:34-35; Rom. 12:10; 15:7; Gal. 3:26-27; 5:13; Eph. 2:19-20; 3:6; 4:32; Heb. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:4-5; 1 John 1:7
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, may Your people be one before You.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ellul: the light of Christ

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
    Ash Wednesday
    Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977
Meditation:
    [Jesus:] “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
    —John 3:20-21 (NIV)
Quotation:
    The ‘works’ done in virtue of, and in consequence of, the Christian ethic ought to appear in the light of Jesus Christ as veritable good works. Of itself the world is incapable of seeing these good works. It can only do so in this light, and we must see to it that our works proceed so directly from the action of Jesus Christ in us, that the world will see them in their true light.
    ... Jacques Ellul (1912-1994), The Presence of the Kingdom, tr. Olive Wyon, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1951, p. 22 (see the book)
    See also John 3:20-21; Matt. 5:16; John 1:4,9; 12:46; Acts 10:38; 1 Tim. 5:25
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, may the world begin to see the True Light.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Lewis: let the cup pass

Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Meditation:
    [Jesus:] “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
    —Matthew 21:22 (NIV)
Quotation:
    There are, no doubt, passages in the New Testament which may seem at first sight to promise an invariable granting of our prayers. But that cannot be what they really mean. For in the very heart of the story we meet a glaring instance to the contrary. In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not. After that the idea that prayer is recommended to us as a sort of infallible gimmick may be dismissed.
    ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), “The Efficacy of Prayer” in The World’s Last Night [1960], Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002, p. 5 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 21:22; 7:7-8; 26:39-44; Mark 11:24; John 14:13-14
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, subordinate my desires to Your will.
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Monday, February 15, 2021

Yaconelli: unfair, indeed

Monday, February 15, 2021
    Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730
Meditation:
    Then [the criminal] said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
    —Luke 23:42-43 (NIV)
Quotation:
    How unfair! Shouldn’t the thief have been asked to repent, to make amends, to at least declare he was sorry? No lectures, no sermons, no teaching or demands for repentance, Jesus just ushers the man into the kingdom of God. Shouldn’t we be more careful with the requirements for receiving grace? Apparently not.
    ... Mike Yaconelli (1942-2003), Messy Spirituality [2002], Zondervan, 2007, p. 166 (see the book)
    See also Luke 23:42-43; Ex. 33:19; Matt. 9:2; Rom. 9:15-18
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You alone choose those whom You save.
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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Saphir: not the doctrine, but the Person

Sunday, February 14, 2021
    Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
    Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269
Meditation:
    He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
    —John 1:11-12 (NIV)
Quotation:
    There was no point of controversy between Jesus and the Jews; Jesus brought no new doctrine unto them. Jesus said, What the masters in Israel teach, what the Pharisees and the Scribes teach, is perfectly correct. There was no dogma which was the cause of controversy between Jesus and the nation; there was no new custom that Jesus introduced: He went into the Temple every day, He observed the ordinances and festivals of Israel. What was the subject of dispute and controversy between Jesus and the Jews? It was no doctrine, it was no innovation, it was Jesus Himself whom they rejected. There was an antipathy in them to the person of Jesus: it was the Lord Himself whom they hated, because they hated the Father...
    But Jesus knew... that it was because He was one with God, because He was the express image of His being, because He was the perfect manifestation of the character of God, that they hated Him; and therefore Je sus was pained, not because they hated Him, but because they hated in Him the Father.
    ... Adolph Saphir (1831-1891), Christ and Israel, London: Morgan and Scott, 1911, p. 122-123 (see the book)
    See also John 1:11-12; Luke 8:20-21; John 8:42-45; 15:23-25; 1 John 2:23; 2 John 1:9
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, keep before me the truth Your identity.
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