Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Enjoying God in All Persons and Things

It seems that Wednesdays have become Augustine's days on my blog! So here it goes, here's Augustine on the enjoyment of God in all other persons and things. 

"But when you have joy of a man in God, it is God rather than man that you enjoy. For you enjoy Him by whom you are made happy, and you rejoice to have come to Him in whose presence you place your hope of joy...But if you cling to [any other thing], and rest in it, finding your happiness complete in it, then you may be truly and properly said to enjoy it. And this we must never do except in the case of the Blessed Trinity, who is teh Supreme and Unchangeable God" (On Christian Doctrine, Book 1, Chapter 33). 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Augustine on the God-Centeredness of God

The following quote from Augustine is a little thick, a little hard to follow, but it's well worth the time and effort. In short, in order for God to be for us, he must be for himself. 

"And on this ground, when we say that we enjoy only that which we love for its own sake, and that nothing is a true object of enjoyment except that which makes us happy, and that all other things are for use, there seems still to be something that requires explanation. For God loves us, and Holy Scripture frequently sets before us the love He has towards us. In what way then does He love us? As objects of use or as objects of enjoyment? If He enjoys us, He must be in need of good from us, and no sane man will say that; for all the good we enjoy is either Himself, or what comes from Himself. And no one can be ignorant or in doubt as to the fact that the light stands in no need of the glitter of the things it has itself lit up. The Psalmist says most plainly, 'I said to the Lord, Though art my God, for Thou needest not my goodness.' He does not enjoy us then, but makes use of us. For if He neither enjoys nor uses us, I am at a loss to discover in what way He can love us. 

"But neither does he use us after our fashion of using. For when we use objects, we do so with a view to the full enjoyment of the goodness of God. God, however, in His use of us, has reference to His own goodness. For it is because He is good we exist; and so far as we truly exist we are good...That use, then, which God is said to make of us has no reference to His own advantage, but to ours only; and, so far as He is concerned, has reference only to His goodness" (On Christian Doctrine, Book 1, Chapters 31-32). 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Why Christians Love Their Enemies

Enemy love. This is a controversial and unique feature of Christianity that is often misunderstood. Recently I came across a quote from Augustine that explains why Christians love their enemies. May we read and meditate on his words, allowing the Lord to teach us his will and ways. 

"Now...what does it become us to do who live in the fellowship of the love of God, the enjoyment of whom is true happiness of life, to whom all who love Him owe both their own existence and the love they beat Him, concerning whom we have no fear that any one who comes to know Him will be disappointed in Him, and who desires our love, not for any gain to Himself, but that those who love Him may obtain an eternal reward, even Himself whom they love? And hence it is that we love even our enemies. For we do not fear them, seeing they cannot take away from us what we love; but we pity them rather, because the more they hate us the more are they separated from Him whom we love. For if they would turn to Him, they must of necessity love Him as the supreme good, and love us too as partakers with them in so great a blessing" (On Christian Doctrine, Book 1, Chapter 29). 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Holy Spirit and the Priestly Spirit

Yet another gem from Andrew Murray: 

"As the blood [of Jesus] gives the right, teh Spirit gives the power and equips us for believing prayer. He breathes into us the priestly spirit: burning love for God's honor and the saving of souls. He makes us so one with Jesus that prayer in His name is a reality. He strengthens us for believing, persistent prayer. The more the Christian is truly filled with the Spirit of Christ, the more spontaneous will be his life of priestly intercession. Beloved fellow Christians, God needs priests who will draw near to Him, who will live in His presence, and by their intercession bring down the blessing of His grace on a waiting world. The world needs priests who will bear the burden of the perishing and intercede mightily on their behalf" (Teach Me to Pray, Bethany House 2002, page 211). 

Amen: are you will to lean on the Lord and take up the challenge? I pray you will join me in answering "yes," for this world is in desperate need of intercessors. 

Friday, April 08, 2016

What Does it Mean to be a Priest before God?

Oh how I love Andrew Murray! He wrote about prayer as a man of prayer, and those who seek to spend as much time as possible in the courts of the Lord can smell the aroma of Jesus on his writings. Here's another gem regarding what it means to be a priest in the priesthood of all believers. This is for all of us, not just super-Christians, so please read his words prayerfully and carefully. 

Murray writes, "So a priest is a man who does not live for himself. He lives with God and for God. His work is as God's servant to care for His house, His honor, and His worship, and to make known to men His love and His will. He identifies with others and serves them (Hebrews 5:2). His work is to discover what sins trouble people so that he can bring them before God and offer sacrifices and incense in their name in order to obtain forgiveness and blessing for them, and then to bless them in His name. 

"This is the high calling of every believer. 'This is the glory of all his saints' (Psalm 149:9). They are redeemed for the purpose of being God's priests in the midst of the perishing around them. In conformity to Jesus, the Great High Priest, God's priests are to be the ministers and stewards of his grace" (Teach Me to Pray, Bethany House 2002, page 209). 

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

To Love our Neighbor is to Point Our Neighbor to God

I so appreciate Augustine’s insight into what it means to love the Lord with all of us, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Let me get out of his way and encourage you to listen carefully to what he has to say. 

When the Lord commands us to love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, he “means that no part of our life is to be unoccupied, and to afford room, as it were, for the wish to enjoy some other object, but that whatever else may suggest itself to us as an object worthy of love is to be borne into the same channel in which the whole current of our affections flows. Whoever, then, loves his neighbor aright, ought to urge upon him that he too should love God with his whole heart, and soul, and mind. For in this way, loving his neighbor as himself, a man turns the whole current of his love both for himself and his neighbor into the channel of the love of God, which suffers no stream to be drawn off from itself by whose diversion its own volume would be diminished” (On Christian Doctrine, Book 1, Chapter 22).

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Take Time to be With God

Oh how I cherish Andrew Murray’s words about spending time with the Lord. Please read and savor them with me today, and more importantly, take time today to be with your Father. 

“Take time. Give God time to reveal himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the assurance of his presence with you, his power working in you. Take time to read his word as in his presence, that from it you may know what he asks of you and what he promises you. Let the word create around you, create within you a holy atmosphere, a holy heavenly light, in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.” 

Quoted in Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret (OMF Books 2010, page 177)

Friday, April 01, 2016

Long to See the Glory of Christ? Pursue Holiness

For many years, I’ve highlighted the biblical relationship between holiness and the sight of God. That is, whereas we normally think of morality and behavior when we think of holiness, the more profound core of it is preparation to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ. Unsullied eyes have undistracted sight. 

Of course, I’m far from the first to see this truth. Consider, for example, the words of Augustine from fifteen-hundred years ago: 

“Wherefore, since it is our duty fully to enjoy the truth which lives unchangeably, and truth for the things which He has made, the soul must be purified that it may have power to perceive that light, and to rest in it when it is perceived. And let us look upon this purification as a kind of journey or voyage to our native land. For it is not by change of place that we can come nearer to Him who is in every place, but by the cultivation of pure desires and virtuous habits” (On Christian Doctrine, Book 1, Chapter 10).