Category Archives: Church Fathers

“Strengthen Your servants to boldly declare Your name” by Columba (A.D. 521-597)

“O Lord,

Holy and true,
Who opens and none can shut,
As You have set before Your church an open door,
Strengthen Your servants to boldly enter in
And to declare Your name,
That they who oppose may yet come to worship
And may know that You love Your church.

Grant to Your people patience to keep Your Word,
And keep them from the hour of trial which is coming
Upon the whole world to try them who dwell on the earth,
And encourage all Christians in every land
To hold fast that which You have given,
That the crown of glory be not taken away,
But that having overcome, they may stand before You
As pillars in the temple of God
And bear the name of the heavenly city
And Your own new name, O Christ our God.

Father, we commend to You all who are joined to us
By natural bonds of love;
The little children dear to our hearts,
And all who for our sakes daily deny themselves.
May all our kindred,
Having Your Holy Spirit as their helper,
Be at peace and have unfeigned love among themselves.
And grant them, O Lord, not only what is sufficient to supply
The needs of this present life but also the good
And eternal gifts that are laid up for them who do Your commandments
Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen.”

–Columba, as quoted in Sinclair Ferguson, Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings For Advent(Epsom, U.K.: Good Book Company, 2018), 155-156.

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“Altogether worthy” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“I know, O Lord, and do with all humility acknowledge myself an object altogether unworthy of Your love; but I am sure, You are an object altogether worthy of mine.

I am not good enough to serve You, but You have a right to the best service I can pay.

Do then impart to me some of that excellence, and that shall supply my own want of worth.

Help me to cease from sin according to Your will, that I may be capable of doing You service according to my duty.

Enable me so to guard and govern myself, so to begin and finish my course that, when the race of life is run, I may sleep in peace and rest in You.

Be with me to the end, that my sleep may be rest indeed, my rest perfect security, and that security a blessed eternity.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Ancient Christian Devotional: Lectionary Cycle C, Volume 3, Eds. Cindy Crosby, Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 70.

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“Athanasius announced the singing of Psalm 136” by James Montgomery Boice

“The word that is used for ‘love’ in this refrain is the powerful Hebrew term hesed, which means ‘covenant love’ or the favor God shows to those with whom He has entered into a covenant relationship. Sometimes it is translated ‘steadfast (or ‘enduring’) love.’ It is enduring because God is a God of His word. He is forever good, and He does not break His covenant.

One night in February 358 A.D. the church father Athanasius held an all-night service at his church in Alexandria, Egypt. He had been leading the fight for the eternal sonship and deity of Jesus Christ, knowing that the survival of Christianity depended on it. He had many enemies—for political even more than theological reasons—and they moved the power of the Roman government against him. That night the church was surrounded by soldiers with drawn swords. People were frightened.

With calm presence of mind Athanasius announced the singing of Psalm 136. The vast congregation responded, thundering forth twenty-six times, ‘His love endures forever.’ When the soldiers burst through the doors they were staggered by the singing. Athanasius kept his place until the congregation was dispersed. Then he too disappeared in the darkness and found refuge with his friends.

Many citizens of Alexandria were killed that night, but the people of Athanasius’s congregation never forgot that although man is evil, God is good. He is superlatively good, and ‘His love endures forever.'”

–James Montgomery Boice, Psalms: An Expositional Commentary, Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 3: 1185. Boice is commenting on Psalm 136.

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“Our heart is restless until it rests in You” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“In Yourself You arouse us, giving us delight in glorifying You, because You made us with Yourself as our goal, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Sarah Ruden (New York: Modern Library, 2017), 3.

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“I asked the whole huge universe about my God, and it answered me” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“What is it that I love?

I asked the earth, and it said, ‘It’s not me,’ and everything in it admitted the same thing.

I asked the sea and the great chasms of the deep, and the creeping things that have the breath of life in them, and they answered, ‘We aren’t your God: search above us.’

I asked the gusty winds, and all the atmosphere there is, along with its inhabitants, said, ‘I’m not God.’

I asked the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, and they said, “We’re not the God you’re looking for, either.”

I told all those beings who stand around outside my body’s gates, its senses, ‘Tell me about my God. You aren’t Him, but tell me something about Him.’ And they declared with a shout, ‘He made us!’

My question was the act of focusing on them, and their response was their beauty.

But then I turned myself toward myself and asked myself, ‘Who are you?’ and I answered, ‘A human being.’ Here at my service were my body and my soul, the one of which is outward, the other inward.

Which was the one I should use to seek my God– whom I’d already sought through material objects from the earth clear up to the sky, as far as I could send the message-bearing rays of my eyesight?

The soul within is certainly better for informing me, as all the messengers that are material objects relay to it their news, and it presides and judges the depositions of the sky and the earth and everything in them that says ‘We are not God,’ and ‘God made us.’

The inside person has found this out through the help of the outside person; my inside self found this out– I did, it was me, my mind working through my physical perception.

I asked the whole huge universe about my God, and it answered me, ‘I am not God, but God made me.'”

–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Sarah Ruden (New York: Modern Library, 2017), 284-284.

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“You struck my heart to the core with Your Word, and I fell in love with You” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“It isn’t with a wavering but with a sure awareness that I love You, Master. You struck my heart to the core with Your Word, and I fell in love with You.

But the sky, too, and the earth, and everything that’s in them–look, from all directions everything is telling me to love You, and never stops telling all people, so that they have no excuse.

But deeper is the mercy You will grant to whomever You grant Your mercy, and the tenderheartedness You will show anyone to whom You’re tenderhearted. Otherwise, the sky and the earth could speak Your praises, but we would be deaf.

But what do I love, in loving You? It’s not the beauty of material things, or any attractiveness of this time-bound world, not the pale gleam of the light, this light here which is so friendly to these physical eyes of mine.

And it’s not the sweet melodies of every sort, and not the agreeable aromas of flowers and perfumes and spices, and not manna or honey on the tongue, and not a body welcome in a physical embrace.

I don’t love these things in loving my God.

But I do love a certain light, and a certain voice, and a certain fragrance, and a certain food, and a certain embrace in loving my God: this is the light, the voice, the fragrance, the food, the embrace of the person I am within, where something that space does not contain radiates, and something sounds that time doesn’t snatch away, and something sheds a fragrance that the wind doesn’t scatter, and something has a flavor that gluttony doesn’t diminish, and something clings that the full indulgence of desire doesn’t sunder.

This is what I love in loving my God.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Sarah Ruden (New York: Modern Library, 2017), 281-282.

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“Studied, pondered, and prayed over” by J.C. Ryle

“If we are to use the Bible as our Lord did, we must know it well, and be acquainted with its contents. We must read it diligently, humbly, perseveringly, prayerfully, or we shall never find its texts coming to our aid in the time of need.

To use the sword of the Spirit effectually, we must be familiar with it, and have it often in our hands. There is no royal road to the knowledge of the Bible. It does not come to man by intuition.

The book must be studied, pondered, prayed over, searched into, and not left always lying on a shelf, or carelessly looked at now and then. It is the students of the Bible, and they only, who will find it a weapon ready to hand in the day of battle.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1857/2012), 31. Ryle is commenting on Mark 2:23-28.

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