Quotations for December, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Commemoration of Charles de Foucauld, Hermit, Servant of the Poor, 1916
Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to the body. How a person can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a person can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.
... J. C. Ryle (1816-1900), A Call to Prayer, published in the 1850’s as a pamphlet, American Tract Society, 1867, sec. II, p. 11
(see the book; see also Job 21:14-15; Isa. 64:7; Hab. 2:4; Zeph. 1:6; Rom. 1:17; 1 Thes. 5:17; more at Belief, Faith, Life, People, Prayer)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Something terrible happens, and you might say, “God help us!” or “Jesus Christ!”—the poor, crippled prayers that are hidden in the minor blasphemies of people for whom in every sense God is dead, except that they still have to speak to him, if only through clenched teeth.
... Frederick Buechner (b. 1926), The Magnificent Defeat, Seabury Press, 1966, p. 126
(see the book; see also Ps. 4:4; Matt. 5:22; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:26; more at Blasphemy, God, God is dead, Poverty, Prayer)
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552
There are many things which a person can do alone, but being a Christian is not one of them. As the Christian life is, above all things, a state of union with Christ, and of union of his followers with one another, love of the brethren is inseparable from love of God. Resentment toward any human being cannot exist in the same heart with love to God. The personal relation to Christ can only be realized when one has “come to himself” as a member of His Body, the Christian fellowship.
... William T. Ham, “Candles of the Lord”, in Spiritual Renewal through Personal Groups, John L. Casteel, ed., NY: Association Press, 1957, p. 169
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 1:9,10; more at Body of Christ, Christ, Church, Fellowship, Heart, Love)
Friday, December 4, 2009
Commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637
The conduct of disputation by verbal brickbat, by innuendo, and by light-fingered intellectual dexterity, is a mordant reminder of the time when controversies were settled by faggot and sword. The truth is hardly less the loser because the inquisitor has altered his methods. All of us who seek to explore the wide reaches of God’s revelation, and strive to bring the thinking of others under the domination of Christ, do well to seek first to bring our own rhetorical techniques under that same dominion—under the discipline, that is, of love.
... Lester DeKoster (1916-2009)
(see also Col. 4:5-6; 1 Pet. 3:15-16; more at Apologetics, Christ, Discipline, Dispute, Love, Strife, Thought)
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Few realize how much injury the dogma that baptism is necessary for salvation, badly expounded, has entailed. As a consequence, they are less cautious. For, where the opinion has prevailed that all are lost who have not happened to be baptized with water, our condition is worse than that of God’s ancient people—as if the grace of God were now more restricted than under the Law!
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. II, tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, IV.xv.20, p. 491-492
(see the book; see also John 17:3; Eph. 1:3-6; 1 Pet. 1:2; more at Baptism, Dogma, Grace, Law, Predestination, Salvation)
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326
Twelve marks of spiritual health [in] our communion with God: (1) God’s children ought to walk in constant amazement of spirit as to God, His nature, and works. (2) The glorifying of God is the great work of God’s children. (3) Delightful privacy with God argues strong affection. (4) Frequent prayer an argument of much of God’s Spirit; True prayer is the pouring out of the heart to God; God’s children are most in private with God; The prayers of God’s people most respect spiritual mercies; God’s people wait for and rest in God’s answer. (5) God’s people are sensible of their unworthiness. (6) God Himself is regarded as the portion of His people. (7) Ready obedience to God. (8) The patience of God’s children under God’s hand. (9) The mournful confession of God’s people. (10) God’s people long after God in an open profession of His ordinances. (11) Their hearts are ready and prepared. (12) God’s people’s sense of their own insufficiencies.
... Roger Williams (1603?-1683), Experiments of Spiritual Life & Health , reprinted, Sidney S. Rider, Providence, 1863, p. 17-31
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 6:20; 10:31; more at Abasement, Communion, Confession, God, Health, Historical, Obedience, Patience, Spiritual life)
Monday, December 7, 2009
Feast of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher, 397
To the good man to die is gain... The foolish fear death as the greatest of evils, the wise desire it as a rest after labours and the end of ills.
... St. Ambrose of Milan (Aurelius Ambrosius) (339-397), quoted in The Life and Times of St. Ambrose, v. II, Frederick Homes Dudden, The Clarendon Press, 1935, pp. 513, 651
(see the book; see also Phil. 1:21; Rev. 14:13; more at Death, Evil, Fear, Folly, Goodness, Labor, Rest, Wisdom)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The deceit, the lie of the devil consists of this, that he wishes to make man believe that he can live without God’s Word. Thus he dangles before man’s fantasy a kingdom of faith, of power, and of peace, into which only he can enter who consents to the temptations; and he conceals from men that he, as the devil, is the most unfortunate and unhappy of beings, since he is finally and eternally rejected by God.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Temptation, London: SCM Press, 1955, p. 25
(see the book; see also Luke 4:3,4; John 8:44; Heb. 3:13; more at Belief, Devil, Faith, God, Peace, Power, Sin, Temptation, Unfortunate)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
What doth it profit thee to enter into deep discussions concerning the Holy Trinity, if thou lack humility, and be thus displeasing to the Trinity? For verily it is not deep words that make a man holy and upright; it is a good life which maketh a man dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skillful in the definition thereof. If thou knewest the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what should this profit thee without the love and grace of God?
... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ , Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, I.i.3, p. 29-30
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 13:1-2; Ps. 149:4; Mark 8:36; Luke 16:15; 1 Pet. 3:4; more at Attitudes, Authenticity, Bible, Contrition, God, Grace, Holiness, Humility, Life, Love, Philosophy, Upright)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Commemoration of Thomas Merton, Monk, Spiritual Writer, 1968
We must remember that our experience of union with God, our feeling of His presence, is altogether accidental and secondary. It is only a side effect of His actual presence in our souls, and gives no sure indication of that presence in any case. For God Himself is above all apprehensions and ideas and sensations, however spiritual, that can ever be experienced by the spirit of man in this life.
... Thomas Merton (1915-1968), No Man is an Island, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1955; reprint, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002, p. 225
(see the book; see also John 4:24; 6:46; more at Experience, God, Knowing God, Spirit, Spiritual life)
Friday, December 11, 2009
When an unskillful servant gathers many herbs, flowers, and seeds in a garden, you gather them out that are useful, and cast the rest out of sight. Christ deals so with our performances. All the ingredients of self that are in them on any account He takes away, and adds incense to what remains, and presents it to God. This is the cause that the saints at the last day, when they meet their own duties and performances, they know them not, they are so changed from what they were when they went out of their hand. “Lord, when saw we Thee naked or hungry?” So God accepts a little, and Christ makes our little a great deal.
... John Owen (1616-1683), An Exposition upon Psalm CXXX , in Works of John Owen, v. VI, New York: R. Carter & Bros., 1851, p. 603
(see the book; see also Ex. 30:36; Ps. 130:4; Hos. 11:3-4; Matt. 25:37-40; more at Christ, Duty, God, Jesus, Knowledge, Saint, Self)
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Let no man deceive you with vain words, or with vain hopes, or with false notions of a slight and sudden repentance: as if heaven were a hospital founded on purpose to receive all sick and maimed persons, that when they can live no longer to the lusts of the flesh and the sinful pleasures of this world, can but put up a cold and formal petition to be admitted there.No, no, as sure as God is true, they shall never see the Kingdom of God, who, instead of seeking it in the first place, make it their last refuge and retreat.
... John Tillotson (1630-1694), Works of Dr. John Tillotson, v. III, London: J. F. Dove, for R. Priestley, 1820, Sermon LIV, p. 574
(see the book; see also Eccl. 12:1; Matt. 6:33; Luke 8:14; Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 5:5-6; more at Authenticity, Heaven, Kingdom, Refuge, Repentance, Search, Sin, Vanity)
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Feast of Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 304
Commemoration of Samuel Johnson, Writer, Moralist, 1784
Almighty and most merciful Father, I again appear in Thy presence the wretched misspender of another year which Thy mercy has allowed me. O Lord, let me not sink into total depravity, look down upon me, and rescue me at last from the captivity of sin. Impart to me good resolutions, and give me strength and perseverance to perform them. Take not from me Thy Holy Spirit, but grant that I may redeem the time lost, and that by temperance and diligence, by sincere repentance and faithful obedience, I may finally attain everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
... Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Prayers and Meditations, London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe, 1806, Jan. 1, 1766, p. 53-54
(see the book; see also Luke 8:11-15; Rev. 2:5; more at Depravity, Everlasting, Faith, Mercy, Obedience, Perseverance, Prayers, Sin, Strength, Year)
Monday, December 14, 2009
Feast of John of the Cross, Mystic, Poet, Teacher, 1591
Live in the world as if only God and your soul were in it; then your heart will never be made captive by any earthly thing.
... St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), from “Spiritual Maxims” in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, Cosimo, Inc., 2007, p. 603
(see the book; see also Matt. 6:19-21; more at Attitudes, Freedom, God, Heart, Life, Soul, World)
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Now men say, “I am in no wise prepared for this work, and therefore it cannot be wrought in me,” and thus they find an excuse, so that they neither are ready nor in the way to be so. And truly there is no one to blame for this but themselves. For if a man were looking and striving after nothing but to find a preparation in all things, and diligently gave his whole mind to see how he might become prepared; verily God would well prepare him, for God giveth as much care and earnestness and love to the preparing of a man, as to the pouring in of His Spirit when the man is prepared.
... Theologia Germanica , Anonymous, ascribed to Johannes de Francfordia, (1380?-1440) & Susanna Winkworth, tr., published anonymously by Martin Luther, ch. XXII
(see the book; see also Heb. 11:13-16; more at Call, Diligence, God, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Work)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Repentance is but a kind of table-talk, till we see so much of the deformity of our inward nature, as to be in some degree frightened and terrified at the sight of it...A plausible form of an outward life, that has only learned rules and modes of religion by use and custom, often keeps the soul for some time at ease, though all its inward root and ground of sin has never been shaken or molested, though it has never tasted of the bitter waters of repentance, and has only known the want of a Saviour by hearsay.But things cannot pass thus: sooner or later, repentance must have a broken and a contrite heart; we must with our blessed Lord go over the brook Cedron, and with Him sweat great drops of sorrow, before He can say for us, as He said for Himself: “It is finished.”
... William Law (1686-1761), Christian Regeneration , in Works of Rev. William Law, v. V, London: G. Moreton, 1893, p. 152-153
(see the book; see also Ps. 51:17; Luke 22:44; John 18:1; 19:30; Rom. 2:3-4; Jas. 4:8-10; Rev. 2:5; 3:19; more at Contrition, Custom, Fear, Religion, Repentance, Savior, Sight, Sin, Sorrow)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Commemoration of Dorothy Sayers, Teacher and Spiritual Writer, 1957
Commemoration of Eglantyne Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of ‘Save the Children’, 1928
We have taught our people to use prayer too much as a means of comfort. Not in the original and heroic sense of uplifting, inspiring, strengthening, but in the more modern and baser sense of soothing sorrow, dulling pain, and drying tears. The comfort of the cushion, not the comfort of the Cross.
... G. A. Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929), The Hardest Part, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1919, p. 111
(see the book; see also Eze. 14:22-23; Ps. 71:21; John 14:1,18,27; Acts 14:21-23; more at Comfort, Cross, Inspiration, Prayer, Strength, Teach)
Friday, December 18, 2009
We cannot attain to the understanding of Scripture either by study or by the intellect. Your first duty is to begin by prayer. Entreat the Lord to grant you, of His great mercy, the true understanding of His Word. There is no other interpreter of the Word of God than the Author of this Word, as He Himself has said, “They shall be all taught of God.” (John 6:45) Hope for nothing from your own labors, from your own understanding: trust solely in God, and in the influence of His Spirit. Believe this on the word of a man who has experience.
... Martin Luther (1483-1546), in a letter (see What Luther Says: An Anthology, #233), quoted in History of the Great Reformation of the Sixteenth Century in Germany, Jean Henri Merle d’Aubigné, London: Walther, 1838, p. 320
(see the book; see also John 6:45; Isa. 54:13; John 3:9,10; Rom. 8:16; Heb. 4:12; 2 Pet. 1:21; Rev. 2:7; 19:10; more at Bible, Duty, God, Holy Spirit, Hope, Labor, Mercy, Prayer, Trust, Understanding)
Saturday, December 19, 2009
There is more hid in Christ than we shall ever learn, here or there either; but they that begin first to inquire will soonest be gladdened with revelation; and with them He will be best pleased, for the slowness of His disciples troubled Him of old. To say that we must wait for the other world, to know the mind of Him who came to this world to give Himself to us, seems to me the foolishness of a worldly and lazy spirit. The Son of God is the Teacher of men, giving to them of His Spirit—that Spirit which manifests the deep things of God, being to a man the mind of Christ. The great heresy of the Church of the present day is unbelief in this Spirit.
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), “The Higher Faith”, in Unspoken Sermons [First Series], London: A. Strahan, 1867, p. 54
(see the book; see also Neh. 8:8; Luke 19:47; John 6:45; 8:2; 16:12-13; 1 Cor. 2:10; Heb. 3:12; Rev. 2:7; more at Christ, Church, God, Heresy, Holy Spirit, Knowing God, Teach, Unbelief)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
There must be a constant and increasing appreciation that though sin still remains it does not have the mastery. There is a total difference between surviving sin and reigning sin, the regenerate in conflict with sin and the unregenerate complacent to sin. It is one thing for sin to live in us: it is another for us to live in sin... It is of paramount concern for the Christian and for the interests of his sanctification that he should know that sin does not have the dominion over him, that the forces of redeeming, regenerative, and sanctifying grace have been brought to bear upon him in that which is central in his moral and spiritual being, that he is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and that Christ has been formed in him the hope of glory.
... John Murray (1898-1975), Redemption, Accomplished and Applied, Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1955, p. 145-146
(see the book; see also Rom. 6:15; Eph. 2:22; Col. 1:27; more at Christ, Complacency, Glory, Grace, Hope, Morality, Redemption, Regeneration, Sanctification, Sin, Spirit)
Monday, December 21, 2009
I have this running quandary about Christmas. I get upset about it, because I feel that we American Christians make too much of it, and too little. Too little of it, because we pile all sorts of other things onto it, including some that have only the feeblest connection with the Event it is supposed to commemorate. If God did become a man, in any real sense, it is the most important thing that ever happened. Surely we, who believe it, could well devote one day a year to uninterrupted contemplation of the fact, and let Saturnalia fall on the winter solstice, where it belongs.On the other hand, we make so much of the actual birth, and forget the things that make it more than just the birth of a baby (though even that is, in Walt Whitman’s phrase, “miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels”*)—more, even, than the birth of the greatest man who ever lived. We forget the promise to Eve of a descendant who will solve the problem of Evil; the promise to Abraham of one by whom all mankind will be blessed; the promise to Moses of a greater prophet than he, to arise from his people; and the promise to David of a Son who would be his Master. We forget about the eternal Purpose behind it all: it’s like telling a story and leaving out the point. Yes, it is true that God gave us His Son, and so maybe we ought also to give gifts—but what, and to whom? It is also true that God gave us Himself, and the only sensible response to that is to give ourselves to Him. There is nothing else that He wants from us, or, if there is something, He can take it. Only I, my ego, my heart, is truly mine to give or to withhold—and is therefore the appropriate gift to Him.* Walt Whitman (1819-1892), Song of Myself, in Leaves of Grass
... Robert MacColl Adams (1913-1985), letter, 1982
(see also Gen. 3:14-15; 12:2,3; Deut. 18:15; 2 Sam. 7:12-15; John 3:16,17; Acts 3:20-26; more at Christmas, Devotion, Evil, Gifts, Heart, Master, Miracle, Promise, Prophet, Worldly)
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
This was the fulness of time, when Christ Jesus did come, that the Messiah should come.It was so to the Jews, and it was so to the Gentiles too...Christ hath excommunicated no nation, no shire, no house, no man; He gives none of His ministers leave to say to any man, thou art not redeemed; He gives no wounded or afflicted conscience leave to say to itself, I am not redeemed.
... John Donne (1573-1631), Works of John Donne, vol. I, London: John W. Parker, 1839, Sermon III, p. 42,53
(see the book; see also Matt. 12:18-21; John 3:16,17; 1 Cor. 6:20; Gal. 4:4-5; more at Christ, Christmas, Conscience, Nation, Redemption, Time)
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
There is much that is bad and meaningless in the universe, and the universe contains men who know that much is bad and meaningless. The Christian answer to the problem is that this is a good world gone wrong, but with a memory of what it should have been.
... Kathryn Lindskoog (1934-2003), C. S. Lewis, Mere Christian, Glendale, Cal.: G/L Publications, 1973, reprint, Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1981, p. 46-47
(see the book; see also Gen. 1:31; 3:17-19,22; 1 Kings 3:9; Matt. 7:16-20; more at Apologetics, Goodness, Knowledge, Universe, World, Wrong)
Thursday, December 24, 2009
The soft light from a stable doorLies on the midnight lands;The wise men’s star burns evermore,Over all the desert sands. Unto all peoples of the earthA little Child brought light,And never in the darkest placeCan it be utter night. No flickering torch, no wavering fire,But Light—the Life of men.Whatever clouds may veil the sky,Never is night again.
... Lilian Cox, included in Masterpieces of Religious Verse, James Dalton Morrison, ed., New York: Harper & Bros., 1948, p. 229-230
(see the book; see also Matt. 2:1-2,9-11; Luke 2:30-32; John 1:4; more at Christmas, Darkness, Light, Night, Star)
Friday, December 25, 2009
GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN Lo, God, our God has come!To us a Child is born,To us a Son is given;Bless, bless the blessed morn!O happy, lowly lofty birth,Now God, our God, has come to earth! Rejoice, our God has come!In love and lowliness;The Son of God has comeThe sons of men to bless.God with us now descend to dwell,God in our flesh, Immanuel. Praise ye the word made flesh!True God, true man is He.Praise ye the Christ of God!To Him all glory be.Praise ye the Lamb that once was slain,Praise ye the king that comes to reign.
... Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), Hymns of Faith and Hope, third series, New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1877, p. 59-60
(see the book; see also Isa. 9:6-7; 7:14; Matt. 1:23; Luke 2:14; Rev. 5:12; more at Blessing, Christ, Christmas, Glory, God, Good will, King, Praise, Son)
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Feast of Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr
The man who will not act till he knows all will never act at all.
... Jim Elliot (1927-1956), citing a popular saying of ancient Greece, The Journals of Jim Elliot, ed. Elisabeth Elliot, Revell, 1990, p. 131
(see the book; see also Rom. 2:13; 1 Cor. 9:16; Jas. 1:22-25; more at Action, Attitudes, Knowledge, Man)
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Feast of John, Apostle & Evangelist
This is true Christian resignation to God, which requires no more to the support of it, than such a plain assurance of the goodness of God, as Abraham had of His veracity. And if you ask yourself what greater reason Abraham had to depend upon the Divine veracity, than you have to depend upon the Divine goodness, you will find that none can be given.
... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life , London: Methuen, 1899, p. 449
(see the book; see also Gen. 12:1-3; 15:6; John 8:56; Col. 1:10-12; Heb. 11:17-19; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; more at Dependence, Faith, God, Goodness, Resignation, Truth)
Monday, December 28, 2009
Feast of the Holy Innocents
Though Christ a thousand timesIn Bethlehem be born,If he’s not born in theeThy soul is still forlorn. The cross on GolgothaWill never save thy soul;The cross in thine own heartAlone can make thee whole.
... Anonymous, 3rd century, from the German of Angelus Silesius, included in Masterpieces of Religious Verse, James Dalton Morrison, ed., New York: Harper & Bros., 1948, p. 148
(see the book; see also Matt. 2:4-6; Mark 8:34; Gal. 2:20; more at Christmas, Cross, Heart, Salvation, Soul)
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Feast of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170
The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day “evangelist.” He announces a Saviour from hell rather than a Saviour from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.
... A. W. Pink (1886-1952), Studies in the Scriptures, volume 9, p. 9-10
(see the book; see also Matt. 1:20-21; 9:12; Luke 5:31; more at Deliverance, Evangelization, Hell, Mission, Salvation, Savior, Sin)
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I am born for God only. Christ is nearer to me than father, or mother, or sister,—a near relation, a more affectionate friend; and I rejoice to follow Him, and to love Him. Blessed Jesus! thou art all I want—a forerunner to me in all I ever shall go through, as a Christian, a minister, or a missionary.
... Henry Martyn (1781-1812), Life and letters of the Rev. Henry Martyn, B.D., with John Sargent, London: Seeley, Jackson & Halliday, 1862, p. 140
(see the book; see also Matt. 12:46-50; 1 Cor. 15:29; Heb. 2:18; more at Affection, Christ, Friend, God, Jesus, Minister, Missionary)
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Commemoration of John Wycliffe, Reformer, 1384
In order to the existence of such a ministry in the Church, there is requisite an authority received from God, and consequently power and knowledge imparted from God for the exercise of such ministry; and where a man possesses these, although the bishop has not laid hands upon him according to his traditions, God has Himself appointed him.
... John Wycliffe (1320?-1384), from a late sermon
(see also Rom. 1:1; 2 Cor. 11:5-6; 1 Tim. 4:16; more at Church, God, Knowledge, Minister, Power, Tradition)
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