Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Annunciation

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. -Luke 1:26-38  image

Saturday, March 24, 2012

True prayer...

As I see it, true prayer is neither mystical rapture nor ritual observance nor philosophical reflection: it is the outpouring of the soul before a living God, the crying to God “out of the depths.” Such prayer can only be uttered by one convicted of sin by the grace of God and moved to confession by the Spirit of God. True prayer is an encounter with the Holy in which we realize not only our creatureliness and guilt but also the joy of knowing that our sins are forgiven through the atoning death of the divine savior, Jesus Christ. In such an encounter, we are impelled not only to bow before God and seek his mercy but also to offer thanksgiving for grace that goes out to undeserving sinners. ...Donald G. Bloesch image

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Before Christ promised the Holy Spirit, He gave a new commandment...

Before Christ promised the Holy Spirit, He gave a new commandment, and about that new commandment He said wonderful things. One thing was: "Even as I have loved you, so love ye one another." To them His dying love was to be the only law of their conduct and fellowship with each other. What a message to those fishermen, to those men full of pride and selfishness!

"Learn to love each other," said Christ, "as I have loved you." And by the grace of God they did it. When Pentecost came, they were of one heart and one soul. Christ did it for them.

And now He calls us to live and to walk in love. He demands that though a man hate you, still you love him. True love cannot be conquered by anything in heaven or on earth. The more hatred there is, the more love triumphs through it all and shows its true nature. This is the love that Christ commanded His disciples to exercise.

What more did He say? "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

You all know what it is to wear a badge. And Christ said to His disciples in effect: "I give you a badge, and that badge is love. That is to be your mark. It is the only thing in heaven or on earth by which men can know me." Do we not begin to fear that love has fled from the earth? That if we were to ask the world: "Have you seen us wear the badge of love?." the world would say: "No, what we have heard of the Church of Christ is that there is not a place where there is no quarreling and separation." Let us ask God with one heart that we may wear the badge of Jesus' love. God is able to give it.

...Andrew Murray image

Why fearest thou then to take up the cross...

Why fearest thou then to take up the cross which leadeth to a kingdom? In the Cross is health, in the Cross is life, in the Cross is protection from enemies, in the Cross is heavenly sweetness, in the Cross strength of mind, in the Cross joy of the spirit, in the Cross the height of virtue, in the Cross perfection of holiness. There is no health of the soul, no hope of eternal life, save in the Cross. Take up therefore, thy cross and follow Jesus and thou shalt go into eternal life. He went before thee bearing His Cross and died for thee upon the Cross, that thou also mayest bear thy cross and mayest love to be crucified upon it. For if thou be dead with Him, thou shalt also live with Him, and if thou be a partaker of His sufferings thou shalt be also of His glory. ...Thomas à Kempis
   image by Tim Parkinson

The time has come to move on?

The time has come to move on? Then break up the camp with a good heart; it is only one more stage on the journey home!

One day we shall break camp for the last time in this world and face the final adventure of death. May we then have so passed the days of our pilgrimage, with the Lord of adventurers by our side, that we may reach, in the end, our eternal home.
...WR Matthews image

Bibles read without prayer...

Bibles read without prayer; sermons heard without prayer; marriages contracted without prayer; journeys undertaken without prayer; residences chosen without prayer; friendships formed without prayer; the daily act of prayer itself hurried over, or gone through without heart: these are the kind of downward steps by which many a Christian descends to a condition of spiritual palsy, or reaches the point where God allows them to have a tremendous fall. ...JC Ryle image by Mac Mitchell

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What the world needs is more believers who want to do God's will...

What the world needs is more believers who want to do God's will as much as unbelievers want to do their own will...It is wonderful to see what miracles God can work in wills that are completely surrendered to Him. He makes hard things easy and bitter things sweet. It isn't that He puts an easy thing in the place of the hard one; He actually changes the hard thing into an easy one. ...Catherine Jackson image

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lord of immortality, before whom angels bow...

Lord of immortality, before whom angels bow and archangels veil their faces, enable me to serve Thee with reverence and godly fear. Thou who art Spirit and requirest truth in the inward parts, help me to worship Thee in spirit and in truth. Thou who art righteous, let me not harbour sin in my heart, or indulge a worldly temper, or seek satisfaction in things that perish.

I hasten towards an hour when earthly pursuits and possessions will appear vain, when it will be indifferent whether I have been rich or poor, successful or disappointed, admired or despised. But it will be of eternal moment that I have mourned for sin, hungered and thirsted after righteousness, loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity, gloried in His cross. May these objects engross my chief solicitude! Produce in me those principles and dispositions that make Thy service perfect freedom.

Expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame, so that with firmness and courage I may confess the Redeemer before men, go forth with Him hearing His reproach, be zealous with His knowledge, be filled with His wisdom, walk with His circumspection, ask counsel of Him in all things, repair to the Scriptures for His orders, stay my mind on His peace, knowing that nothing can befall me without His permission, appointment and administration. ...Puritan prayer image by Dennis Wong

The Lord will give grace and glory...

The Lord will give grace and glory. (Psalm 84:11)

Grace is what we need just now, and it is to be had freely. What can be freer than a gift? Today we shall receive sustaining, strengthening, sanctifying, satisfying grace. He has given daily grace until now, and as for the future, that grace is still sufficient. If we have but little grace the fault must lie in ourselves; for the Lord is not straitened, neither is He slow to bestow it in abundance. We may ask for as much as we will and never fear a refusal. He giveth liberally and upbraideth not.

The Lord may not give gold, but He will give grace: He may not give gain, but He will give grace. He will certainly send us trial, but He will give grace in proportion thereto. We may be called to labor and to suffer, but with the call there will come all the grace required;

What an "end" is that in the text—"and glory!" We do not need glory yet, and we are not yet fit for it; but we shall have it in due order. After we have eaten the bread of grace, we shall drink the wine of glory. We must go through the holy, which is grace, to the holiest of all, which is glory. These words and glory are enough to make a man dance for joy. A little while—a little while, and then glory forever!
...CH Spurgeon image

Saturday, March 17, 2012

You are leaving port...

You are leaving port under sealed orders 
and in a troubled period.
You cannot know whither you are going
or what you are to do.
But why not take the Pilot on board
who knows the nature of your sealed orders
from the outset,
and who will shape your entire voyage accordingly?
He knows the shoals and the sandbanks,
 the rocks and the reefs,
He will steer you safely into that celestial harbor
where your anchor will be cast for eternity.
Let His mighty nail-pierced hands hold the wheel,
 and you will be safe.
 ...Peter Marshall image

May the Strength of God pilot us...

File:Saint Patrick (window).jpg
May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil ones.
Against temptations of the world

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Salvation, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord,
and evermore. Amen.
...St. Patrick image

Friday, March 16, 2012

There is not one avenue of sense or thought...

There is not one avenue of sense or thought, but the figure of Christ stands in it; not one activity open to man, but the "Carpenter's Son" is there; beneath the stone, and in the heart of the wood.

The more minute our search, the more delicate is his presence. The more wide our vision, the more illimitable is his power.

So, little by little as we go through life, following with a hundred infidelities and a thousand blunders, with open defiances and secret sins, yet following, as Peter followed through the glare of the High Priest's fire to the gloom of penitence where Christ's eyes could shine-as we go, blinded by our own sorrow, to the ecstasy of his joy, thinking to find him dead, hoping to live on a memory, instead of confident that he is living and looking to the "today" in which he is even more than yesterday-little by little we find that there is no garden where he does not walk, no doors that can shut him out, no country road where our hearts cannot burn in his company.

And, as we find him ever more and more without us, in the eyes of those we love, in the voice that rebukes us, the spear that pierces us, the friends that betray us, and the grave that waits for us: as we find him in his sacraments, in his saints-in all those august things which he himself designed as trysting-places with himself; at once we find him more and more within us, enwound in every fiber of our lives, fragrant in every dear association and memory, deep buried in the depths of that heart of ours that seems most wholly neglectful of him.
Robert Hugh Benson

On Christ's Obedience

"This way of obedience to God does not have, of itself, anything of the mystical or extraordinary, but is open to all the baptized. It consists of "presenting affairs to God," according to the advice that Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, gave him one day (cf. Exodus 18:19). I can decide on my own to take an initiative, to go or not go on a trip, to take or not take a job, to make or not make a visit, to incur or not incur an expense and then, once decided, to pray to God for the success of the matter.

But if love of obedience to God is born in me, then I will act in a different way: I will first ask God, with the very simple means of prayer, if it is his will that I undertake that trip, job, visit, expense and then I do or do not do it, but then it will already be, in any case, an act of obedience to God, and no longer a free initiative on my part. In general it is clear that I will not hear, in my brief prayer, any voice, nor will I have an explicit answer about what to do, or at least it is not necessary that there be one so that what I do will be obedience.

Acting thus, in fact, I have submitted the matter to God, I have despoiled myself of my will, I have given up deciding on my own and I have given God a possibility to intervene, if he so wills, in my life. What I now decide to do, regulating myself with the ordinary criteria of discernment, will be obedience to God. ....Father Cantalamessa

Full essay Art

Let us take refuge like deer beside the fountain of waters...

Let us take refuge like deer beside the fountain of waters. Let our soul thirst, as David thirsted, for the fountain. What is that fountain? Listen to David: With you is the fountain of life. Let my soul say to this fountain: When shall I come and see you face to face? For the fountain is God himself.
St. Ambrose of Milan photo

Earth breaks up, time drops away...

Earth breaks up, time drops away,
In flows heaven, with its new day
Of endless life, when He who trod,
Very man and very God,
This earth in weakness, shame and pain,
Dying the death whose signs remain
Up yonder on the accursed tree,—
Shall come again, no more to be
Of captivity the thrall,
But the one God, All in all,
King of kings, Lord of lords,
As His servant John received the words,
“I died, and live for evermore!”
... Robert Browning art

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Going Out with Joy!

And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out. (Deuteronomy 33:18)

The blessings of the tribes are ours; for we are the true Israel who worship God in the spirit and have no confidence in the flesh. Zebulun is to rejoice because Jehovah will bless his "going out"; we also see a promise for ourselves lying latent in this benediction. When we go out we will look out for occasions of joy.

We go out to travel, and the providence of God is our convoy. We go out to emigrate, and the Lord is with us both on land and sea. We go out as missionaries, and Jesus saith, "Lo, I am with you unto the end of the world." We go out day by day to labor, and we may do so with pleasure, for God will be with us from morn till eve.

A fear sometimes creeps over us when starting, for we know not what we may meet with; but this blessing may serve us right well as a word of good cheer. As we pack up for moving, let us put this verse into our traveling trunk; let us drop it into our hearts and keep it there; yea, let us lay it on our tongue to make us sing. Let us weigh anchor with a song, or jump into the carriage with a psalm. Let us belong to the rejoicing tribe and in our every movement praise the Lord with joyful hearts.
CH Spurgeon  image by Don DeBold

Just as the salt water of the sea is drawn upwards...

Just as the salt water of the sea is drawn upwards by the hot rays of the sun, and gradually takes on the form of clouds, and, turned thus into sweet and refreshing water, falls in showers on the earth (for the sea water as it rises upwards leaves behind it its salt and bitterness), so when the thoughts and desires of the man of prayer rise aloft like misty emanations of the soul, the rays of the Sun of Righteousness purify them of all sinful taint, and his prayers become a great cloud which descends from heaven in a shower of blessing, bringing refreshment to many on the earth. Sadhu Sundar Singh photo

Brethren, study God's Word diligently...

Brethren, study God's Word diligently for your own edification; and when it has become more to you than your necessary food, sweeter than honey or the honeycomb, it will be impossible for you to speak of it to others, without a glow passing into your words which will betray the delight with which it has inspired your own heart. ...James Stalker image