Take Seven Times Daily
Seven times a day I praise you.
One day when missionary physician Harold Adolph was walking through his house, he saw a verse on the wall of his daughter’s room. It was Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (NIV). Adolph thought, “If only I could harness the secret of that cheerfulness and share it with my patients, a great deal of physical and spiritual suffering could be avoided.” Another verse came to mind—Psalm 119:164: “Seven times a day I praise You.” That verse, he thought, was like a prescription off a medicine bottle.
Recommended Reading: Psalm 119:164-168
Most patients resist taking a medicine seven times a day, which is why pharmaceutical companies develop pills to be taken only once or twice daily. But Dr. Adolph suggests we try the remedy exactly as God prescribed it. You might set your phone alarm to remind yourself to praise God seven times throughout this day. The goal isn’t legalism, but to learn to praise God continuously and to keep our hearts cheerful all day long
Life is a good gift from God and we must treasure it.
If we are praising Him continuously we’ll discover just how difficult it is to keep on complaining.
Read through the Bible: Psalm 141 – 150
The human spirit will not even begin to try and surrender self-will as long as all seem to be well with it. Now error and sin both have this property, that the deeper they are the less their victim suspects their existence; they are masked evil. Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil; every man knows that something is wrong when he is being hurt…And pain is not only immediately recognizable evil, but evil impossible to ignore. We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities; and anyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in The Business of Heaven
The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. The Business of Heaven. Editing of this collection and preface by Walter Hooper. Copyright © 1984 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
The Powerful Root of Practical Love
By John Piper
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. (1 John 3:14)
So, love is the evidence that we are born again — that we are Christians, that we are saved.
Sometimes the Bible makes our holiness and our love for people the condition of our final salvation. In other words, if we are not holy and not loving, we will not be saved at the judgment day (e.g., Hebrews 12:14; Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:10). This doesn’t mean that acts of love are how we get right with God. No, the Bible is clear again and again as Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.” No, when the Bible says that we are saved by faith but that we must love people in order to finally be saved, it means that faith in God’s promises must be so real that the love it produces proves the reality of the faith.
So, love for others is a condition of future grace in the sense that it confirms that the primary condition, faith, is genuine. We could call love for others a secondary condition, which confirms the authenticity of the primary and essential condition of faith which alone unites us to Christ, and receives his power.
Faith perceives the glory of God in the promises of future grace and embraces all that the promises reveal of what God is for us in Jesus. That spiritual sight of God’s glory, and our delight in it, is the self-authenticating evidence that God has called us to be a beneficiary of his grace. This evidence frees us to bank on God’s promise as our own. And this banking on the promise empowers us to love. Which in turn confirms that our faith is real.
The world is desperate for a faith that combines two things: awestruck sight of unshakable divine Truth, and utterly practical, round-the-clock power to make a liberating difference in life. That’s what I want too. Which is why I am a Christian.
There is a great God of grace who magnifies his own infinite beauty and self-sufficiency by fulfilling promises to helpless people who trust him. And there is a power that comes from prizing this God that leaves no nook or cranny of life untouched. It empowers us to love in the most practical ways.
John Henry Newman - Catholic Convert and Apologist
"Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th' encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home --
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me."
As the Catholic Church marched into the modern era, controversy increased. Not only was it fighting philosophy and science and sectarian movements from within, but it was also clashing with Protestants in a battle for souls worldwide. By the mid-nineteenth century, the Protestant missionary movement was expanding, and Catholics, whose worldwide mission ventures were already centuries old, were not amused. Whether in Africa or Asia or the Pacific Islands, territorial battles raged. Catholics' eagerness to baptize infants and terminally ill individuals of all ages often led to horror stories that little ones (and others) were being poisoned, and Protestants did nothing to quell the rumors.
While Catholics faced competition from Protestants in world mission, they also competed for celebrity conversions from Protestantism to Catholicism. The much-publicized conversion story of Mother Seton was only equaled by the triumph of John Henry Newman (1801 - 1890), who departed the Church of England to become a Catholic. An Anglican priest and tutor at Oxford University, he was the founder of the Oxford movement that sought to stem the tide of low church liturgy and more closely conform to Catholic liturgy and beliefs, including apostolic succession. In addition to sermons and books, he began writing "Tracts for the Times," defending high-church "ancient" liturgy.
Accused of being too cozy with the Catholics, he insists that he is not. "If there ever was a system which required reformation, it is that of Rome at this day," he argued, referring to the Catholic system as "Romanism or Popery." But as the years pass, he comes more in line with Rome than with the Church of England. In 1841 he publishes Tract Ninety, making the case that the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles are compatible with Catholic doctrine. The tract creates an explosion among Anglicans, and he soon finds himself a cleric without a church.
He remains in limbo for a time even as the Oxford movement disintegrates. Then, in 1845, to the chagrin of his Anglican friends and colleagues, he formally joins the Catholic Church. The following year he is ordained a Catholic priest, helping to establish Catholic schools, publishing treatises, and serving in other clerical roles. In 1879 he is named a cardinal. His intent is not necessarily to pull others away from the Church of England into Catholicism. "You must be patient, you must wait for the eye of the soul to be formed in you," he writes to an inquiring friend. "Religious truth is reached, not by reasoning, but by an inward perception."
In both Catholic and Protestant circles Newman is today remembered as a deeply thoughtful writer in the field of spiritual formation, especially that which intersects with the rationalism and romanticism of his age. In The Grammar of Assent (1870), he makes a case for faith in the face of rational religion. Religious faith, he argues, is a legitimate outcome of cognitive activity. His chief opponents are British empiricists David Hume, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill. His Apologia challenging that philosophy also prefigures C. S. Lewis:
I understood . . . that the exterior world, physical and historical, was but the manifestation to our senses of realities greater than itself. Nature was a parable, Scripture was an allegory; pagan literature, philosophy, and mythology, properly understood, were but a preparation for the Gospel. The Greek poets and sages were in a sense prophets.
Newman's writings have had a long shelf life. Thoughtful Christians in the generations since have looked to him for spiritual direction when facing intellectual struggles and doubt.
Having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
Washington’s National Gallery of Art has four paintings by Christian artist Thomas Cole, entitled, “The Voyage of Life.” Each of the four panels shows a different stage of life—childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. The last is particularly tranquil: an older person on a boat accompanied by a guardian angel under the dark skies pierced by brilliant sunbeams.
Recommended Reading: Philippians 1:21-26
We never know if we’ll make it through these stages, for life is uncertain. But Cole understood that for the believer, death wasn’t something to be feared but anticipated. While we want to tarry on earth in service to God, the voyage of life inevitably takes us upward into heaven, “which is far better.”
Death is certain for all. Denying it does no good; it doesn’t change the reality. We must be ready at any moment. Jesus came for one great purpose: “that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15, NIV).
How important to know Him as our Savior and Lord! How wonderful to enjoy His presence throughout the voyage of life!
Christians never say “good-bye”; just “until we meet again.”
Read through the Bible: Psalms 134 – 140
Enduring When Obeying Hurts
By John Piper
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2)
What faith performs is sometimes unspeakably hard.
In his book Miracle on the River Kwai, Ernest Gordon tells the true story of a group of POWs working on the Burma Railway during World War II.
At the end of each day the tools were collected from the work party. On one occasion a Japanese guard shouted that a shovel was missing and demanded to know which man had taken it. He began to rant and rave, working himself up into a paranoid fury and ordered whoever was guilty to step forward. No one moved. “All die! All die!” he shrieked, cocking and aiming his rifle at the prisoners. At that moment one man stepped forward and the guard clubbed him to death with his rifle while he stood silently to attention. When they returned to the camp, the tools were counted again and no shovel was missing.
What can sustain the will to die for others, when you are innocent? Jesus was carried and sustained in his love for us by “the joy that was set before him.” He banked on a glorious future blessing and joy, and that carried and sustained him in love through his suffering.
Woe to us if we think we should or can be motivated and strengthened for radical, costly obedience by some higher motive than the joy that is set before us. When Jesus called for costly obedience that would require sacrifice in this life, he said in Luke 14:14, “You will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” In other words, be strengthened now in all your losses for Christ’s sake, because of the joy set before you.
Peter said that, when Jesus suffered without retaliating, he was leaving us an example to follow — and that includes Jesus’s confidence in the joy set before him. He handed his cause over to God (1 Peter 2:21) and did not try to settle accounts with retaliation. He banked his hope on the resurrection and all the joys of reunion with his Father and the redemption of his people. So should we.
They [Adam and Eve] wanted, as we say, to “call their souls their own.” But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, “This is our business, not yours.” But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives.
From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in Words to Live By
The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.