Tag Archives: Old Testament

Lent Day 3

February 15

Choose this Fast

Isaiah 58:1-9

1Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
3 ‘Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?’
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,
and oppress all your workers.
4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

Prayer Thought

Lord, let me choose to fast so that your abundance might be shown and shared.

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The Fruit of Obedience

It was said of Abba John the Dwarf that he withdrew and lived in the desert at Scetis with an old man of Thebes. His Abba, taking a piece of dry wood, planted it and said to him, ‘Water it every day with a bottle of water, until it bears fruit.’ Now the water was so far away that he had to leave in the evening and return the following morning. At the end of three years the wood came to life and bore fruit. Then the old man took some of the fruit and carried it to the church saying to the brethren, ‘Take and eat the fruit of obedience.’

—-Sayings of the Desert

On face value this saying seems a little farfetched. Most of us who live in the 21st century want things to be logical and reasonable. The very idea of watering a dead stick daily for three years and having to travel a huge distance every day to get the water is beyond belief. Here’s the point, -if the story is a fable, itst-john-the-dwarf points us to a miracle wrought by obedience. If it’s true it still reveals a miracle that is wrought by obedience. John’s mentor calls it the “fruit of obedience.”

We are all called to obedience to the tasks that we are given. Most of us fight the very idea of being obedient to anything. After all, we live in a very freedom loving world and none of us wants to give up any of that freedom -not even for God. We give up our freedom for the gift of marriage and other relationships in our lives, so why not make one of those relationships with God and His church. Just as Abba John found the great blessing that awaited at the end of his road of obedience, we will find our reward only if we are set to the task.

In what way is God calling YOU today?


Lord give me the insight to recognize the things that I am called to do. Lord give me the humility to put self aside to perform tasks that sometimes seem unimportant to me. In doing so you help me to find the greater blessing that comes in the form of the fruit of obedience. Amen

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Filed under Abba John the Dwarf, Christian Living, Desert Fathers

Day 12–March 3

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 6:1-29

Prayer Thought

Lord there are times that things just don’t work out in the way we had planned. Those times are sometimes difficult, but allow them to be fruitful. Amen

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Day 10–February 28

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 5:1-20

Prayer Thought

Lord all that is evil knows you and fears your power. Help me to have the wisdom to call on you as I enter into the evil of this day. Amen

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Close up of an 17th-century depiction of the 2...

Lent is a time for repentance. Repentance is far more that simple regret. Sorrow for sin is united with an unwavering decision to change. As the Holy Spirit makes us aware of our failures, repentance is our spiritual response.

Repentance for personal lack of obedience to God was addressed by Jesus. This repentance involves a regretful acceptance of your unrighteousness before God. This acceptance necessitates a transformation of your personal priorities, your attitude, and your behavior.

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth to affirm their repentance as a congregation. In his letter, Paul refers to repentance as “Godly sorrow,” and admitted that while the process was painful for the church, the result would leave no room for regrets for the pain endured. Repentance for the Corinthian church led to a renewed devotion to serve God.

The Old Testament prophets realized that as a nation, Israel had deviated far from the course set out for them by God. Repentance for the nation necessitated a “re-vision” of sight as a country with a new hope of God-centered living and priorities. Repentance for the nation gives us forgiveness for national selfishness and arrogance before God.

When repentance has occurred, a time of refreshing comes. Our lives have meaning, a clearer understanding of God, and hope for the future. God’s promise is that honest repentance brings its reward – the presence and blessing of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Use this season of Lent to experience the cleansing joy of repentance.

PRAYER: Father – I acknowledge my guilt and regret for my lack of obedience to you. Help me change those things in my life that do not honor you.

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Taking Sin Seriously

He also said, ‘The nearer a man draws to God, the more he sees himself as a sinner. It was when Isaiah the prophet saw God, that he declared himself “a man of unclean lips.” ’ (Isaiah 6:5)

 ——-Abba Mateos of the Desert

 These are great words coming from the wise monk. We should take to heart the notion that closeness to God gives us a greater awareness of our inability to live the life of perfection. With this awareness we open ourselves to the abundance of grace that God sends our way, and to a better understanding of our neighbor. In the acceptance of our own sin, forgiveness of others becomes more natural. As long as we hold on to our own pride and power, we will never fully experience the presence of God.

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Filed under Ascetics, Commitment, Contemplation, Desert Fathers, Fear, Isaiah, Sin

Never,Never,Never Give Up

In the darkest days of WWII Winston Churchill addressed the students of his Alma Mater, Harrow School with the following words.

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the Unite...

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955.

“You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period – I am addressing myself to the School – surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.”

We forget that this is also God’s message. God has promised never to give up on us. Old Testament and New Testaments together, are a record of how God never, never, never, gave up.

– Adam and Eve disobeyed the very First Rule. But God never gave up.
– Abraham wandered, and Sarah laughed. But God never gave up.
– Moses hid and shook with fear. But God never gave up.
– Saul went insane. But God never gave up.
– David plotted against Uriah. But God never gave up.
– Ahaz sold out to Assyria. But God never gave up.
– Israel fell into pieces. But God never gave up.
– The Jewish people became exiles. But God never gave up.
– John the Baptist was beheaded. But God never gave up.
– Peter denied he even knew him. But God never gave up.
– The disciples all ran away. But God never gave up.

God never, never, never gave up and he has not given up today!


Filed under Christian Living, Commitment, Controversy, Faithfulness, Winston Churchill

Anna, The Prophetess

Anna She was ancient, maybe more than one hundred years.  She was so tiny and hunched over that others were reminded of a frail bird.  Long, long ago, she was married for seven years and then he had died.  That all seemed like another lifetime, so many decades had passed.  She could barely remember his face anymore.

For decades, she had lived at the Temple.  She had come there every day to pray, and at some point, she just did not go home.  Now, she never left.  She stayed in the Court of the Women on the east side of the Temple.  There were some storerooms there mostly for musical instruments used in worship, and she had a pallet in one of them.  She was not disturbed.  Everyone either ignored her or loved her.

Her name was Anna, Hebrew for “grace”, and she served God with fasting and prayers day and night.  She cared little for food anymore, prayer was so much more important.  Besides, she was so completely devoted to God that at this point she lived more in a spiritual realm than on a physical plain.

From the Women’s Court she could look into the Inner Court where sacrifices were made daily.  Anna watched and prayed, because she knew that He would come to the Temple.  All of her devotion was preparing her to see that Final Sacrifice – the Lamb of God.  She had seen thousands of lambs sacrificed for sin.  She had learned patience and perseverance, and a deep understanding of holiness.

Anna was the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, whose name refers to the face of God, and she would see God’s face today.  She watched them coming up the steps – a girl with a tiny baby and her husband.  The girl looked like a child herself to Anna.  She looked up, caught her eye, and Anna knew.  She had waited a lifetime for this moment.  The prayers of all her years were answered.  Her years of holiness prepared her to recognize the Holy One.  He had come to the Temple – the Lamb.  She received the ultimate reward for years of faithful devotion – Anna saw God Incarnate in the arms of his mother.

She was described as a prophetess – a rare distinction for a woman.  She was set apart, spiritually pure, this Anna, daughter of Phanuel, the last Old Testament prophet – the one who saw God face to face.

Reflection – How are you preparing yourself to meet God face to face?

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