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Archive for February, 2018


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Selfishness is really at the root of sin. When we yield to temptation we do so that we may gratify ourselves. We may often gratify ourselves innocently, and when this is the case it is quite right that we should do as we wish. But when we cannot, and we know that we cannot, and yet feel inclined to do so, then we are tempted to do wrong. We either give way to the temptation and gratify ourselves, or we sacrifice our own inclinations an overcome it.

In God’s service, and that we may do His will, we are required to sacrifice only those things which we cannot but condemn. We are called to put duty in the place of self-gratification, and to ask ourselves on all occasions not, “What should I like to do?” but, “What ought I to do?” Although to follow such a course as this may require the sacrifice of our self-gratification now and then, yet it will issue in a deep and true sense of satisfaction and peace always. On the contrary, unlawful self-gratification must result in shame and sorrow.

Adam and Eve chose to gratify themselves. The tree was (1) good for food, (2) pleasant to the eye, and (3) a tree to be desired to make one wise. So they chose to ratify (1) the appetite; (2) the lust of the eye, and (3) intellectual pride, although they knew that they could not do so without disobeying the commandment of God, and hence came sin and death.

The life of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the contrary, was a perfectly unselfish life, and therefore it was a perfectly obedient life, and hence came righteousness and life. How hard He found it thus to sacrifice Himself that He might in all things obey. is attested by the vehemence with which he cast aside St. Peter’s suggestion that He should spare Himself, and by His agony in Gethsemane. But for Him there was peace when the conflict was over, and for Him now there is glory both in Heaven and on earth for evermore.

Prayer

O Lord Jesu Christ, help me to follow Thee, and always to put aside all that would hinder me from doing Thy holy will, I beseech Thee. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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Overcoming temptation
Sin is a great evil. Even in this life it is often its own punishment. In the life to come, the consequences of it must be more terrible still. It is also hateful in itself, and we naturally condemn it. How hateful it is to God the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ reveals. Even the endurance of such a death was not too much to undergo in order, by means of it, to put away sin. By it the Holy Ghost also is grieved, and driven to depart from those He loves.

But how may I hope to overcome temptation?

1. In the first place I shall need to be in earnest, to watch over myself, and to pray always for grace and help, that I may fight against it with all my might. In Holy Communion I must seek a closer union with Jesus Christ our Lord, who strengthens us.

2. The thought of my Savior on the cross should also help me. Or if I am tempted to be proud, the thought of His lowliness should help me. If I am tempted to ill-temper, the thought of His patience and readiness to forgive should help me; or if to any form of sinful self-indulgence, the thought of His sacrifice of Himself for my sake should restrain me.

3. If I have on hand some useful work, or some pleasant occupation which interests me, I shall perhaps thus avoid giving occasion to temptation.

4. Cheerfulness will be of great advantage, and healthful recreations are of value also. When we are not cheerful we are thereby exposed to many temptations. When St. Paul enumerates the fruits of the Spirit he places love first, and joy next, because, if love is the law of the Christian life, joy is one of its chief safeguards. Boisterous mirth often produces a reaction of weariness or depression; but he who endeavors to be always cheerful enjoys a brightness of spirit which is in itself joyous, and often a protection also. The joy of the Lord is the strength of His people.

Prayer

O Holy Spirit, the Author in us of all love and all joy, sanctify me also, I beseech Thee, and grant me grace to overcome all sin. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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Monday

Besides sins of the mind there are others which are sins of the flesh. Some there are who are tempted to indulge the flesh by mere idleness and sluggishness. Others, again, are naturally inclined to gratify their appetite for much or nice food, and probably spend more time and money in providing and enjoying it than is justifiable and right. Others, once more, are tempted more to sins of impurity, perhaps chiefly in thought, perhaps also in word and deed.

How can I help feeling that such sins are both debasing and degrading? They, if they are indulged in, render the mind less vigorous than otherwise it might be. They tend naturally to weaken the health, to mar the reputation, and to destroy the happiness, of those who habitually yield to them. Habits of this kind are so easily formed that to be guilty of these sins at all is a long step towards contracting such habits. Apart, therefore, from questions of right and wrong, the rule, that I should “keep my body in temperance, soberness, and chastity,” is one which common sense, and our natural instinct of self-preservation, might have dictated.

Besides this, “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Those who cling to such sins as these can have no part nor lot with Him. To resist temptations to such sins may be hard, but every temptation successfully resisted is weakened, while every sin yielded to acquires thereby additional power. Many a drunkard and many a passionately angry man knows how true this is. If they had been wise at first they might have been free now.

They may yet again be free, for with God nothing is impossible; but still not without a desperate, and probably a prolonged struggle. If I have, then, any regard for myself, I shall begin now, through the grace of God, “to mortify the deeds of the body.”

Prayer

Cleanse me, O Lord Jesu Christ, in Thy precious blood, I beseech Thee, and help me to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, that I may always follow Thee, and glorify Thy Name. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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secret faults
After all, the greatest enemy I have is myself, or rather the evil that is in me, together with the frailty of my sinful nature. This sinful nature is usually called “the flesh ” in the Bible and the Prayer Book, and is spoken of as being hostile to the spirit; that is, the higher part of our nature, by which we naturally approve of virtue, and disapprove of all that is evil, however prone to it the flesh, that is, our lower nature, may be. Hence often arises a conflict within us, for most of us have some particular failings, such as pride or selfishness, which may therefore be spoken of as our besetting sins; and these may be sins of the flesh or of the mind. Let me think of the latter of these first.

There may be some fault in my disposition the result of which is that I am naturally inclined to be sinful in one form or another, and it is so natural to me therefore to be irritable, or jealous, or whatever my besetting sin may be, that I find it hard to keep myself from it. When the temptation comes I do not feel inclined to keep myself from it. It is only when all is over, and the circumstances which gave occasion for it have passed away, that I feel that I have been foolish, and that I have none wrong.

But is it not enough to be no worse than others, and I do not think that I am much worse than other fellows of my own age and standing? If I have on one or two occasions not spoken quite the truth, or if I have once or twice used or taken that which was not my own, does not everyone do the same? Or if I have rather a bad temper, if I am inclined to be a little proud, or if they do say that I am selfish, I am no worse, at any rate, than the rest of us; and why, then, should I trouble myself about these things now? But, on the other hand, is it good to be proud, or irritable, or selfish, or unkind? Do I not naturally blame others for these and other faults, and is it not God’s will that for my own good I should put all faults from me?

Prayer

Cleanse me, O God, I beseech Thee, from my secret faults, and help me, I pray Thee, to subdue those which are known to me, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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Lewis
Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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SaintMatthias

Maybe the world has to be overcome also in another manner, for there is sometimes a certain amount of good-natured or ill-natured sarcasm and ridicule, together with, perhaps, some unkindness, to be endured by the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The best way, however, to overcome all this is to bear it not only patiently, but cheerfully, and to take every opportunity of showing kindness, in a gentle but manly way, to those from whom it comes. Such evil is best overcome with good.

In another way, the influence of this wicked world has to be guarded against. For the companions by whom one is surrounded will sometimes, if they are wicked enough, do their best to corrupt his mind, and to lead him to forsake what they will probably call his “outdated” notions. He may adopt their more extravagant and, perhaps, more sinful ways. If they fail such will most likely become persecutors, and with sullen dislike will affect to regard as beneath their contempt the lad whom they know they cannot bend to their own purposes. Such companions must of course be avoided as much as possible; and if they cannot be avoided altogether, the evil influences which they will necessarily exert must be very carefully and continually guarded against.

This, then, is, or may at any time be, part of my conflict. It is, of course, disagreeable not to do as others do, to make myself appear singular, or to use and follow religious privileges and observances which I know those about me despise and neglect. If I have thus to endure that I may keep my heart pure and my conscience clear, such endurance is at any rate less hard than basely yielding to temptation would be. For the result of this would be loss of self-respect, and the loss, for a time at any rate, of the grace and blessing of God also.

Prayer

O God, I beseech Thee so to strengthen me that, willingly enduring shame, if need be, I may keep the straight and safe path of obedience to Thy will, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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Ember Friday in Lent


Saturday in LentFriday of the First Week in Lent

In the course of His temptation the whole world wait offered to the Lord Jesus Christ, with the one condition attached-that He should do something that was wrong in order to obtain the great gift. He was the rightful King of the world, and was about to regain His kingdom through suffering; but it was now offered to Him freely as a gift, with only this one condition attached to the offer.

The same offer, though on a much smaller scale, is continually being made to men, both old and young, now. The tempter whispers, “Get on in life, no matter how, only get on.” Of course, the world is very attractive. Its wealth, its splendor, its pleasures, are very alluring; and some are so enraptured with the thought of possessing these, and with the delighted excitement of success, that they are led away from truth and righteousness in order to gain them.

There is no harm in desiring to prosper in life; on the contrary, it is natural to do so, and this desire supplies a wholesome and proper stimulus to young people in their work. But when it becomes the chief, if not the sole, object of life, there is, to say the least of it, great danger that those who are thus urged on by this desire will fall down and worship Satan-that is, will accept his suggestions, and do that which is in a greater or less degree wrong, in order to realize their wishes and their hopes.

What can all that is in the world do for me without the blessing of God? If I should gain it all, would it not in that case be a burden rather than a blessing? Peace, cheerfulness, friendliness, are better than fame or riches, and. the ambitious schemer knows not peace.

Yet, success is to be aimed at and worked for, but in submission to the will and guidance of God. To seek it otherwise is to place myself in danger; and what shall it profit a man even if he shall gain the whole world, and yet lose his own soul?

Prayer

So then, O Lord Jesu Christ, help me also to over-come the world, that I may abide in Thy love, and have a place in Thy glorious and everlasting kingdom, through Thy mercy. Amen.
From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

 

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