June 29, 2020

Think Spot 29 June 2020

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Think Spot – 29 June 2020


He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him. John 10:3-4.


This leading them out is Christian liberty. They are now free; no longer penned up and captive under anxious constraint and fear of the law and of divine judgment, but happily pastured and nourished in Christ's sweet kingdom of grace. This liberty does not mean that the sheep, now without a fold and without a keeper, may run from their shepherd unrestrained into error; or that Christians can do whatever the flesh lusts.

It means that now free from the terror of wolves, thieves, and murderers, they may live with their dear shepherd, in love and pleasure following where he leads and guides them; because they know that he defends and lovingly oversees them so that the law dare no longer accuse and condemn them, even though they are weak as to the flesh and have not perfectly fulfilled the law. For the Lord, God's Son, is the shepherd, who takes the sheep under his grace, his shelter and protection; he who will accuse or condemn the sheep must first accuse or condemn the Lord himself.

This is the Christian's life under their shepherd. Christ ever rules, leads and guides them. They remain with him in the liberty of faith, wherein they walk, following his example in obedience and good works. Christ's kingdom was not instituted that we might indulge the lusts of our flesh; but that we, released from the captivity of the law, under which we could not in sincerity do anything good, follow Christ cheerfully and with a good conscience in our lives and works. Each responds as Christ calls him, a special instrument for Christ's use.

To follow Christ means that our whole life and all our works be in the faith of Christ— a constant exercise of faith, wherein we are recognized and are assured that because of this dear shepherd we have favour with God. Thus our works and lives, weak and imperfect in obedience as they are, are also under the wings of the mother hen, and are pleasing to God because of the shepherd. In this confidence we now begin to be obedient, to call upon him in our temptations and needs, confess his Word, and serve our neighbours. To this end a Christian constantly needs the Word of Christ; he needs to learn from it and to exercise himself in it.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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April 27, 2020

Think Spot 27 April 2020

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Think Spot – 27 April 2020

 

In whatever respect, if any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 2 Corinthians 11:21-22

In whatever the false apostles can boast, Paul says, I can likewise glory. Here we are shown what is the ground of the false apostles' boasting ; their outward respectability — being of Abraham's seed, children of Israel, Christ's preachers. In these they think far to excel the Corinthians, claiming their doctrine and works to be of greater weight because they have Moses and the prophets for their teachers. But they failed to perceive that their boast is in mere externals, that render no one righteous or better before God. Names are of no consequence ; they only make a fine show and serve to seduce the simple-minded. Paul boasts of his origin and yet derides his boasting, calling it fool's work. His object is to destroy the boasting of the false prophets, that the people might not be deceived.

Note how, even in Paul's time, great men erred concerning the true sense of the gospel, and many noble preachers would have estimated Christian life by a merely external appearance and name. The true spiritual preachers must have been few. Should it be strange, then, that in our time sincere preachers are not numerous, and that the majority of ministers riot in what they themselves seem and do? It cannot and will not be otherwise. The thievish drones, which are prone to riot, let them riot! We will resist to the utmost of our power, commending the matter to God, who doubtless will grant us sufficient honor and profit, both temporal and eternal, though we must labor gratuitously, receiving injury and derision as our reward. Our adversaries will not long continue their persecutions, for, as Paul says just preceding our text, they will eventually receive their desserts.

Paul boasts of certain temporal afflictions in which he excels the false apostles, who suffer nothing for the sake either of the Word or of souls, but only boast of name and person. Among the afflictions he names having been a night and a day in the deep. Of other afflictions affecting not his own person, but distressing others, he mentions two: he is weak, if another is weak, and burns, if another is offended. Thereby he plainly portrays the ardor of his heart — the defects and sorrows of others pain him as his own.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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April 20, 2020

Think Spot 20 April 2020

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Think Spot – 20 April 2020


The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6.


When man perceives his sins and is completely terror-stricken in his conscience, he must be on his guard that his sins do not remain in his conscience. Just as our sins flow out from a meditation upon the sufferings of Christ and we become conscious of them, so we should pour them again upon him and set our conscience free. Therefore see well to it that you act not like perverted people, who bite and devour themselves with their sins in their hearts, and run here and there with their good works or their own satisfaction, even work themselves out of this condition by means of indulgences, and thus try to rid themselves of their sins, which is impossible. Such false refuge of satisfaction and pilgrimages has spread far and wide.

Cast your sins from yourself upon Christ, believe with a joyful spirit that your sins are his sufferings and wounds, that he carries them and makes satisfaction for them. For if you do not take this course, you will never quiet your heart and secure peace, but you must finally despair in doubt. For if we deal with our sins in our conscience and let them continue within us and cherish them in our hearts, they become much too strong for us to manage and will live forever. But when we see that they are laid on Christ and that he has triumphed over them by his resurrection, and we fearlessly believe it, then they are dead and have become as nothing. In his sufferings Christ made known our sins and crucified them; but by his resurrection he makes us righteous and free from all sin.

Now if you are not able to believe this, you should pray to God for faith. For this is a matter in the hands of God, and is bestowed at times knowingly and at times secretly. Now bestir yourself not to behold Christ's sufferings any longer, but press through all difficulties and behold his friendly heart, how full of love it is toward you, which love constrained him to bear the heavy load of your conscience and of your sin. Then will your heart be glad and loving toward him, and the assurance of your faith be strengthened.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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October 13, 2019

Teachings of Seraphim 20

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Part 20. Acquiring the Holy Spirit

 

(From the Saint's Conversation with Motovilov)

The true goal of our Christian life consists of acquiring God’s Holy Spirit. Fasting and vigil, prayer, mercy, and every other good deed performed for Christ — are means for acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. Only deeds performed for Christ give us the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Some say that the foolish virgins lacking enough oil in their lamps is meant to be understood as a lack of good deeds (see Mt. 25:1-12). Such an understanding is not completely correct. How could there have been a lack of good deeds when they, though foolish, are still called virgins? For virginity is the highest virtue, as a state equal to the angels, and could by itself serve in place of all other virtues.

I, the wretched, think that they did not have enough of the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God. These virgins, because of their spiritual injudiciousness, supposed in performing good deeds that it is only necessary to do good works to be a Christian: "We performed a good deed and thus did God’s will.”Whether or not they had received the grace of the Holy Spirit, whether they had attained it, they did not even bother to find out ... But, this acquiring of the Holy Spirit is in fact that oil which the foolish virgins lacked. They are called foolish because they forgot about the essential fruit of virtue — the grace of the Holy Spirit — without which there is no salvation for anyone and cannot be. For "through the Holy Spirit every soul is quickened, and through its purification, it is exalted and illumined by the Triune Unity in a Holy mystery.”The Holy Spirit Himself settles in our souls, and this occupation of our souls by Him, the All-Ruling, and this coexistence of our spirit with His One Trinity, is granted only through the diligent acquiring, on our part, of the Holy Spirit, which prepares, in our soul and body, the throne for the coexistence of God the All-Creator with our spirit, by the immutable word of God: "And I will walk among you and will be your God, and ye shall be my people”(Leviticus 26:12).

This is the very oil in the lamps of the wise virgins, which burned brightly and steadily; the virgins with these burning lamps could await the Groom coming at midnight, and enter the chamber of joy with him. The foolish ones, seeing their lamps going out, though they went to the market to buy oil, did not manage to return in time, for the doors were already locked.

The market is our life; the doors of the bridal chamber — locked and not permitting entrance to the Groom — human death, the virgins wise and foolish, Christian souls; the oil, not deeds, but the grace of the All Holy Spirit of God received through them, transforming from decay to incorruption, from emotional death into spiritual life, from darkness to light, from the manger of our existence, where our passions are tied like beasts and animals, into a church of God, into the all-lighted chamber of eternal joy in Jesus Christ.

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October 6, 2019

Teachings of Seraphim 19

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Part 19. The Light of Christ

In order to accept and perceive the light of Christ in one’s heart, it is necessary to divert oneself from the external as much as possible. First, by cleansing the soul with penitence and good deeds with true faith in the Crucified; then, by closing the physical eyes, it is necessary to immerse the mind in the heart and appeal to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ continually. Then, by measure of our zealousness and fervour of spirit for the Beloved (Lk. 3:22), a person with the calling of this name finds delight, which arouses a thirst toward greater enlightenment.

When a person internally contemplates the eternal light, his mind becomes clean and free of any sensory notions. Then, by being completely immersed in the contemplation of uncreated beauty, he forgets everything sensory, does not want to see even himself, but desires to hide in the heart of the earth, if only not to be deprived of this true good God.

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