Our Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson (A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”)

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Prepare the Way

“He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16-17)

What John the Baptist did for Israel, Advent can do for us. Don’t let Christmas find you unprepared. I mean spiritually unprepared. Its joy and impact will be so much greater if you are ready!

That you might be prepared…

First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior. Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior. Let these short Advent meditations help awaken in you a bittersweet sense of need for the Savior.

Second, engage in sober self-examination. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24) Let every heart prepare him room… by cleaning house.

Third, build God-centered anticipation and expectancy and excitement into your home–especially for the children. If you are excited about Christ, they will be too. If you can only make Christmas exciting with material things, how will the children get a thirst for God? Bend the efforts of your imagination to make the wonder of the King’s arrival visible for the children.

Fourth, be much in the Scriptures, and memorize the great passages! “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord!” (Jeremiah 23:29) Gather ’round that fire this Advent season. It is warm. It is sparkling with colors of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights.

This passage is excerpted from John Piper’s Advent Devotional available for free here: http://ow.ly/fLqnw

Why Do I Continue in Mourning?

“Why go I mourning?”—Psalm 42:9.

Can you answer this, believer? Can you find any reason why you are so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told you that the night would never end in day? Who told you that the sea of circumstances would ebb out till there should be nothing left but long leagues of the mud of horrible poverty? Who told you that the winter of your discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow, and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Do you not know that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Have hope then! Ever have hope! For God fails you not. Do you not know that your God loves you in the midst of all this? Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God’s love is as true to you now as it was in your brightest moments.

No father chastens always: your Lord hates the rod as much as you do; He only cares to use it for that reason which should make you willing to receive it, namely, that it works for your lasting good. You shall yet climb Jacob’s ladder with the angels, and behold Him who sits at the top of it—your covenant God. You shall yet, amidst the splendors of eternity, forget the trials of time, or only remember them to bless the God who led you through them, and wrought your lasting good by them.

Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness to blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with your exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then “for ever with the Lord,” your bliss shall never wane.

“Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe and thou shalt see,
That Christ is all in all to thee.”

~ C.H. Spurgeon (from Morning and Evening, a daily devotional; words adapted for contemporary language)

Darkness & Light (Spurgeon)

“And God divided the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:4)

A believer has two principles at work within him. In his natural estate he was subject to one principle only, which was darkness; now light has entered, and the two principles disagree. Mark the apostle Paul’s words in the seventh chapter of Romans: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members.”

How is this state of things occasioned?

“The Lord divided the light from the darkness.” Darkness, by itself, is quiet and undisturbed, but when the Lord sends in light, there is a conflict for the one is in opposition to the other: a conflict which will never cease till the believe is altogether light in the Lord. If there be a division within the individual Christian, there is certain to be a division without. So soon as the Lord gives to any man light, he proceeds to separate himself from the darkness around; he secedes from a merely worldly religion of outward ceremonial, for nothing short of the gospel of Christ will now satisfy him, and he withdraws himself from worldly society and frivolous amusements, and seeks the company of the saints, for “We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”

The light gathers to itself, and the darkness to itself. What God has divided, let us never try to unite, but as Christ went [outside/away from] the camp, bearing His reproach, so let us come out from the ungodly, and be a peculiar people. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; and, as He was, so we are to be nonconformists to the world, dissenting from all sin, and distinguished from the rest of mankind by our likeness to our Master.

~ C.H. Spurgeon (from Morning and Evening, a daily devotional; paragraphing added)