Know Yourself/Know God

This is another quote from my daily devotional.  The author is E.B. Pusey, who was an English Anglican theologian.  It reminds me that as we go through the Fanning the Flame process at our church, we’re learning to understand ourselves better, and that leads us to understand more about God — what He made us to do, where we fit in His Kingdom, how ever-present He is in our daily lives.  I hope you like it, too.

“God knows us through and through.  Not the most secret thought, which we most hide from ourselves is hidden from Him.  As then we come to know ourselves through and through, we come to see ourselves more as God sees us, and then we catch some little glimpse of His designs with us, how each ordering of His Providence, each check to our desires, each failure of our hopes, is just fitted for us, and for something in our own spiritual state, which others know not of, and which till then, we know not.  Until we come to this knowledge, we must take in all faith, believing, though we know not, the goodness of God toward us.  As we know ourselves, we thus far, know God.”

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A Quote on Serving

This was part of my devotional reading this morning, and I enjoyed it so much I thought I’d share.  The writer is Elizabeth Charles, who was an Anglican.  She wrote over 50 books, but her best known was a story about Martin Luther, The Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family.  It was published in 1862 and subsequently translated into most of the European languages, Arabic and many Indian dialects.

“Surely none are so full of cares, or so poor in gifts, that to them also, waiting patiently and trustfully on God for His daily commands, He will not give direct ministry for Him, increasing according to their strength and their desire.  There is so much to be set right in the world, so many to be led and helped and comforted, that we must continually come in contact with such in our daily life.  Let us only take care, that, by the glance being turned inward, or strained onward, or lost in reverie, we do not miss our turn of service, and pass by those to whom we might have been sent on an errand straight from God.

In other words, there are opportunities to use our gifts and serve God all around us, every single day. Open your eyes!  Don’t miss your chance!

God loves you and so do I,

Joan

 

 

Service — A Blessed Habit

This quote was part of my devotional reading this morning, and I think it suits our theme well.  It was written by Frances Ridley Havergal, daughter of an Anglican clergyman. You may know her famous hymn, Take My Life.

“Begin at once.  Before you venture away from this quiet moment, ask your King to take you wholly into His service, and place all the hours of this day quite simply at His disposal, and ask Him to make and keep you ready to do just exactly what He appoints.  Never mind about tomorrow;  one day at a time is enough.  Try it today, and see if it is not a day of strange, almost curious peace, so sweet that you will be only too thankful, when tomorrow comes, to ask Him to take it also,–till it will become a blessed habit to hold yourself simply and ‘wholly at Thy commandment for any manner of service.’  The whatsoever is not necessarily active work.  It may be waiting (whether half an hour or half a life-time), learning, suffering, sitting still.  But shall we be less ready for these if any of them are His appointments for today?  Let us ask Him to prepare us for all that He is preparing for us.”

The Heart of a Servant

“That piety which sanctifies us, and which is a true devotion to God, consists in doing all His will precisely at the time, in the situation and under the circumstances, in which He has placed us.  Perfect devotedness requires, not only that we do the will of God, but that we do it with love.  God would have us serve Him with delight.  It is our hearts that He asks of us.”  Francois De La Mothe Fenelon

As I prepared for my first Sunday School lesson on spiritual gifts, I began studying what the gifts are not.  They are not fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, self-control, goodness, faithfulness. These qualities are also gifts of the Holy Spirit, but they are given to and expected of every Christian.  The spiritual gifts are varied, and assigned to specific individuals.

The fruit of the Spirit does, however, tell us the manner in which we are to use our gifts.  Remember how the apostle Paul said:

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1

If we exercise our gifts in ways that are impatient, unloving, rude or unkind, they become worthless.  We must not only have the hands of a servant, we must have the heart of a servant.  This is harder to achieve, but much more satisfying than just going through the motions in order to “do our duty.”

How can we develop the heart of a servant?  I know I can’t do it on my own.  It comes only through surrender to God.  It comes only imperfectly on this side of eternity.  I’m praying today for a servant’s heart.  What about you?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Serving

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The Church is the Church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Another Quote on Spiritual Gifts

“You have inside you the capacity to invest your mental, emotional, and spiritual gifts in a way that glorifies God, impacts the world, and satisfies your own soul. I believe that-and I want you to believe it, too.” ~ David Jeremiah

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A Quote from Reframing the Soul by Gregory Spencer

I reviewed this book earlier this week, and although it doesn’t specifically apply to our month’s theme, Laity, the author does have some important things to say about what he calls “engaging with others.”  To be successful as laypeople we must be able to get along and work well with one another. In any congregation there are differences:  differences in background, education, ability, understanding and more.  Sometimes these differences lead to conflict.  When that happens, Gregory Spencer points to the 4th Chapter of Ephesians for a guide to “reframing” our outlook.  Maybe you’ll find it helpful.

“An extended biblical passage that addresses “engaging with others” is Ephesians 4.  Paul reminds his readers of what makes for a strong community.  Overall we maintain unity by living peacefully (3) and fulfilling our various roles and callings (4-13).  We do this by putting off the old self and putting on the new self (22-34, some obvious reframing here), feeding certain character qualities–humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love(2) industriousness (28), compassion and forgiveness(32) –and by starving sensual indulgence (17-19), extended anger, bitterness, brawling, slander and malice(31).  I’m particularly taken with the admonitions to speak the truth in love (15,25) and to talk for the sake of building others up (29).”