Tuesday, November 30, 2010

FAITHFUL EXPECTATION

In modern language, hope has become little more than a strong wish or a way of stating our preference. Hope, however, is a holy word, a powerful and exciting word. The word hope really means "faithful expectation." We hope, that is we faithfully expect that God is acting on our behalf to create, to save, and to sustain us. We claim an expectation for the future, even when the present does not provide proof that the future will be good; and we do so faithfully, within the relationship we claim with God in Jesus Christ. When we as faithful people say "hope," we should use the word with our feet firmly planted, our head held high, and our life relying on the God who will not let us go. We need to say "hope" as a prayer, as an affirmation of faith, and as a doxology to the living God.

-- Randy Cross in Born to Save: An Advent Study Based on the Revised Common Lectionary


#2633

Monday, November 29, 2010

WHAT IS HOPE?

"We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield." (Psalm 33:20 NIV)

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

-- George Iles


#2662

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

RECOGNIZING THE GIFT

"When the LORD your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you -- a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant -- then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." (Deuteronomy 6:10-12 NIV)

When you come to the place where you recognize that everyone and everything you love is a gift, it becomes possible to enjoy those gifts -- not with an attitude of greed but with one of gratitude.

-- Nancy Guthrie in Holding on to Hope


#2661

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GRATITUDE

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.

-- Cicero

"Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (Colossians 3:16 NIV)


#2660

Monday, November 22, 2010

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

"For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17 NRSV)

It is sometimes said that even if no rules were laid down for the conduct of its affairs, the Church, being created by Jesus to "further the work of the Kingdom of God," can be judged by the extent to which it is successful in continuing His work. This supposition rests upon a misunderstanding of what is meant by "the Kingdom of God"... The Kingdom itself is not something to be "furthered" or "built" by men's efforts.

It is something which we are invited to recognize as already present, after a manner, in the life and work of Jesus. It is something to be inherited or entered into by those who believe. The task of the Church, in other words, is not to set the stage for a better world than this one but to draw the curtain from it, to reveal something that is already there.

-- Nick Earle in What's Wrong with the Church?


#2659

Friday, November 19, 2010

FORMING AND SHAPING

"The words that You gave to Me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from You." (John 17:8)

Deliberate and prayerful consideration of the Bible is foundational to our life together as followers of Jesus. God's words not only form us, but they shape our character too.

-- Derek Maul in Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men


#2658

Thursday, November 18, 2010

REGARDING THE BIBLE

Sunrise and sunset, promise and fulfillment, birth and death, the whole human drama, everything is in this Book.

-- Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), German Poet


#2657

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

OPEN THE WINDOWS

God has a special way of satisfying the cry of His children. He is waiting to open to us the windows of heaven until He has so moved in the depth of our heart that everything unlike Himself has been destroyed.

-- Smith Wigglesworth


#2556

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BE CONSISTENT

When you want to become a spiritual leader on your football team or in your classroom or in your work force, whatever it may be, you've got to be consistent. People have to see you in the same light, no matter what you're going through. That comes with getting into the Word and finding out what God has for you and His will for you. Rather than being concerned with what the world has to offer, you need to be concerned with what Jesus Christ accomplished on Calvary.

-- Jay Riemersma, former NFL player, in Sports Spectrum


#2655

Monday, November 15, 2010

SEEING GOD

I suddenly saw that all the time it was not I who had been seeking God, but God who had been seeking me. I had made myself the centre of my own existence and had my back turned to God. All the beauty and truth which I had discovered had come to me as a reflection of His beauty, but I had kept my eyes fixed on the reflection and was always looking at myself. But God had brought me to the point at which I was compelled to turn away from the reflection, both of myself and of the world which could only mirror my own image. During that night the mirror had been broken, and I had felt abandoned because I could no longer gaze upon the image of my own reason and the finite world which it knew. God had brought me to my knees and made me acknowledge my own nothingness, and out of that knowledge I had been reborn. I was no longer the centre of my life and therefore I could see God in everything.

-- Bede Griffiths in The Golden String


#2654

Friday, November 12, 2010

SPIRITUAL RENEWAL

"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)

The renewal of our natures is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day. We have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to pull down.

-- George Whitefield (1714-1770) in a letter


#2653

Thursday, November 11, 2010

LAMENT PSALM EIGHTEEN

O God, why have You left me in the wilderness
with no bread?
I hunger for Your righteousness;
I am starved for Your justice.
O God, feed me!
My soul is starving without Your nourishment.
I need You;
why have You left me in this desolate land?
Are You ashamed to be my God?
Will You no longer welcome me
into the city You are building for the faithful?
Is there no end to my loss?
Must I lose heart and now my soul?

Listen to me, O God:
My soul is shriveling within me.
It is hard and crusty and needs to be watered
with Your Holy Spirit.
My soul is numb with neglect.
Why are You ignoring me?
O God who counts the birds of the air,
have mercy on my soul.

Take away the bitter herbs
and bring me the bread of life
so that I might have the strength
to join those who gather together
to praise Your holy name.

My soul cries out to You;
my soul longs for You.
Remember me, Holy One,
for You are my Alpha and Omega.

-- Ann Weems in Psalms of Lament


#2652

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

OFFERING COMPASSION

Recently one of my friends was buying groceries for her family. She was hurrying because she had guests coming for dinner, so she was frustrated when she discovered she had ended up in a slow-moving line. She looked to the front of the line and saw a woman frantically rummaging through her purse; then the checker shouted, "What do you mean, you don't have any money?" My friend's first thought was, Why do I always pick the wrong line? Doesn't she care that I'm in a hurry? Everyone else in the line behind her began complaining.

But then my friend felt God tugging at her heart suggesting that she pay the woman's bill! "But, God," she said. "You know I hate giving up my money. And I don't think my husband will understand. Besides that I…" Then she looked at the woman – at her frazzled demeanor and her shabby clothes – and she imagined the children who might be waiting for the woman at home. Then she thought about all that God had done for her. Smiling, she leaned over to the checker and quietly said, "Can you add my groceries to hers, and I'll pay for it all."

My friend said she felt like she was floating as she drove home, in an unplanned, unscheduled and unpretentious way, she had opened her eyes and extended her hand, and God had blessed her with joy. The opportunities are all around us and God's Spirit is whispering, "Go for it. Do it. Offer compassion." All we have to do is respond.

-- Bill Hybels in Making Life Work: Putting God's Wisdom into Action


#2651

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

LIVING CONSISTENT LIVES

We are not only to renounce evil, but to manifest the truth. We tell people the world is vain; let our lives manifest that it is so. We tell them that our home is above and that all these things are transitory. Does our dwelling look like it? Oh to live consistent lives!

-- J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)


#2650

Monday, November 8, 2010

SEEING CLEARLY

It is as if we are meant to be wearing bifocals in our attitude to life in the world. We are to see clearly the job at hand and do it hard and well, but we are to have long-distance vision as well so that we can be aware of God's perspective and the relevance of His work in our lives.

-- from an Ophthalmologist's Newsletter


#2649

Friday, November 5, 2010

RESURRECTION FAITH

God does not cheapen Himself or us by offering us easy answers to the anguished, "Why?" that we who are human cannot help but ask. The mystery of life and death and suffering remains a mystery in all human generations, and it is no less a mystery for us. We don't get a quick fix from our faith.

But we do encounter a God who sits patiently beside us in grief, usually silently, like an orthodox Jew sitting shivah with his bereaved friend, offering no words to explain away a mystery that is beyond words. God sits with us in our sorrow. In the days and weeks after a loss, as we sit together in the silence, something new begins to creep into our consciousness. The faith that has sustained our whole lives will begin to knot our sorrow over this death together with what we believe about the life to come. Faith and experience will knit together like a broken bone knits together as time passes. We begin to be able to see for ourselves what is already a reality for those who have gone on ahead of us, something the tears of early bereavement make it hard for us to see at first. They begin to appear in our vision of heaven, taking their place in the communion of the saints. We begin to feel their presence, not just their absence. Once again, the resurrection faith to which we cling gently bathes our hearts, and our hearts are healed.

-- Bishop Edmund Lee Browning from "A Year of Days with the Book of Common Prayer"


#2648

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A NEW AND LIVING WAY

In a letter written on this day, November 4, in 1852, John McLean, Justice of the United States Supreme Court, told the American Bible Society:

"Aside from Revelation, darkness rests upon the world and upon the future… The Bible has shed a glorious light upon the world. It shows us that in the coming day we must answer for the deeds done in the body. It has opened to us a new and living way, so plainly marked out that no one can mistake it. The price [Jesus] paid for our redemption shows the value of our immortal souls."

-- Stephen Abbot Northrop in A Cloud of Witnesses


#2647

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CROSSING THE LINES

It belongs to the very nature of the gospel that the Church is built across cultural, social, and racial barriers. There are siren voices (as well as gut reactions) telling Christians that the way to success in evangelism is to follow the natural divisions, and to try to build churches along cultural, social and racial divisions. In doing so, they ignore the "success" in the New Testament in crossing these lines; more importantly, they are in fact stressing success more highly than the truth of the gospel. To buy success at the price of treating the fundamental nature of the gospel as dispensable is to follow a false gospel.

-- David Bronnert in "The Gospel and Culture" in The Changing World


#2646

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP BEGINS WITH CHRIST

"Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:14-21 NRSV)

To think rightly about spiritual leadership within the frame of Christian faith is to start not with ourselves but with Christ. Spiritual leadership does not issue primarily from our skills in persuasion, motivation, mediation, or administration. It does not come from gifts of passionate preaching, brilliant teaching, fine writing, or even effective action. It does not follow from mere individual vision or force of personality. Spiritual leadership begins with God. It issues from a living relationship with Christ, in which the purposes of God may be brought to light through our faithfulness.

-- Marjorie J. Thompson, excerpt from an article entitled “Rooted and Grounded in Christ,” in “Leading from the Center”


#2645

Monday, November 1, 2010

REFLECTIONS ON REFORMATION SUNDAY

Jesus says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10)

Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, "Who sees us? Who will know?" (Isaiah 29:15)

Take care that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)

It is so easy, Lord, to get caught up in planning, strategizing, and seeking our own way; we let the confusion and tension overwhelm us when things do not go as planned. As our forefathers challenged a church that did not always hold you at its head, may we also confront all in our own lives that compromises Your purpose for this world. Forgive us, loving Lord. Turn our hearts again to You. Amen.

-- from The Moravian Church in America Daily Texts


#2644