Posts tagged ‘St. Patrick’

March 31, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (March 31st) Patrick’s Death and Burial

by Aaron Dunlop

Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History

Reading: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” Philippians 1:23-24  

There are many things that are beyond our control in life and in death. In life we try to fix what we cannot fix and we tend to get anxious about those things after our death over which we have no control. Patrick knew that when he died his burial might end up being a pagan one, but that it was in the Lord’s hands and he must leave it there. He determined to do that “though I should even go without burial or my body be torn most pitiably limb from limb for dogs or savage beasts to share or the birds of the air devour it” (Confession, sec. 59).

Patrick’s goal was to glorify God, however that might come about, to live and die for and with the people of God: “And if I have ever aimed at any good for my God’s sake, whom I love, I beg Him to grant that I may shed my blood for His name along with those exiles and captives” (Confession, sec. 59). Paul had the same desire for the people of God, saying that to be with God is far better, yet to remain in the flesh was more needful for the church. It was for the church that Paul lived (Philippians 1:24).

Notice also, Christian, that Patrick feared nothing that might hurt the body in pursuing the glory of God. Like Paul he knew that “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” and because of this, he did not faint (2 Corinthians 4:16). He says, “It is my strong conviction that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul as well as my body; for beyond any doubt in that day we shall rise in the sun’s brilliant light, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our redeemer, to be sons of the living God and heirs with Christ and shaped to His likeness; for we shall reign from Him and through Him and in Him” (Confession, sec. 59).

Is this your hope, Christian? What a blessed expectation—a soul redeemed from hell and a body from the grave! “In that day we shall rise in the sun’s brilliant light, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our redeemer.” Live in the realisation of this and you will live a “life more abundant!”

“He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.”—Mathew Henry

All quotations from the Confession or Letter of Patrick are taken from the edition by A. B. E. Hood, 1978.

March 30, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (March 30th): Developing a Vibrant Prayer Life, part 2

by Aaron Dunlop

Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History

Reading: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Ephesians 6:18

We considered yesterday the two points from which Patrick’s prayer life developed: self-sacrificing zeal and a love of God. Out of these twin graces Patrick discovered that as he developed in his prayer life the Lord helped him, first, through the answers to prayer. Second, the Lord helped him in prayer; grace was added to grace, and Patrick was greatly encouraged as he engaged in prayer that the Lord engaged in prayer with him. He “remembered the apostle’s words: ‘The Spirit helps the weaknesses of our prayer’ (Romans 8.26)” (Confession, sec. 25).

In those early days of Patrick’s Christian experience as he prayed on Slemish Mountain and grew into a man of prayer, the Lord began to answer his prayer and he says, “The Spirit was burning in me at that time” (Confession, sec. 16). It was there on that mountain alone with God that God met with him powerfully and that power became evident in subsequent occasions throughout his life.

But that power in the place of prayer was seen in another mark of a vibrant prayer-life: the spirit of prayer, not just the act of praying but living in the spirit of prayer, or, as Paul speaks of it “praying always” (Ephesians 6:18). Patrick found, as Nehemiah did, that in moments of great need and danger, he could pray effectively “to the God of Heaven” (Nehemiah 2:4). He speaks of an occasion when he was escaping from Ireland and he was refused passage on the merchant ship: “On hearing this I left them to go to the hut where I was staying, and on the way I began to pray and before I had finished my prayer I heard one of them; he was shouting loudly after me: ‘Come quickly!’” (Confession, sec. 18).

Christian, is this not the kind of vibrant Christianity you want, where prayer is intimate and powerful, fresh and attractive? Lord, teach us to pray!

“If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.”—C. H. Spurgeon 

All quotations from the Confession or Letter of Patrick are taken from the edition by A. B. E. Hood, 1978.

March 29, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (March 29th) Developing a Vibrant Prayer Life

by Aaron Dunlop

Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History

Reading: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18  

Do you ever feel discouraged with your prayer life? Do you feel that you can’t get any victory in prayer—no sustained interest and no specific answers? This age of instant meals, immediate credit, and high-speed Internet has undoubtedly affected the patience of the Christian for personal holiness: we expect too many results too soon. But spiritual life is not a magical zap of spiritual victory. It is growth and development, and it is hard, self-sacrificing work.

As you read through the Confession of Patrick you are struck with the power and presence of the Spirit in his life. One author wrote, “Patrick’s life was marked by intense and persistent prayer and from time to time he was conscious of an inner monition in which he recognized a divine response to his prayers” (F. F. Bruce). This ought to be my desire. But where did this prayer life come from and how did Patrick get it?

The first thing we learn from Patrick’s prayer life is that it developed out of a life of self-sacrifice. Patrick states, “I would even stay in the forests and on the mountain and would wake to pray before dawn in all weathers, snow, frost, rain” (Confession, sec. 16). God has told us that this earth and all in it is cursed, and we cannot expect the blessing of heaven if we hold onto the curse: “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).

But something else is noticeable in Patrick’s prayer life: it developed out of a love for Christ. “More and more did my love of God and my fear of Him increase, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred, and as a result I would say up to a hundred prayers in one day, and almost as many at night” (Confession, sec. 16). Love for Christ was the breeding ground of prayer and the more Patrick prayed, the more he loved, and that in turn encouraged more prayer.

“Prayer is an art which only the Spirit can teach us. He is the giver of all prayer.”—C. H. Spurgeon 

All quotations from the Confession or Letter of Patrick are taken from the edition by A. B. E. Hood, 1978.

March 28, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (March 28th) Self-denial: Monks and Virgins

by Aaron Dunlop

Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History

Reading: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Patrick’s mention of “monks and virgins” (Confession, sec. 41) presents some difficulty to the modern evangelical mind. We should remember that the Celtic church (Irish, Scots, and Welsh) was very much separate from the Roman church for centuries. The celebration of Easter, the marriage of clergy, the absence of the word “Catholic” from his writing, and the threat that Celtic monasteries posed to the hierarchy of Rome all show how detached Patrick was from the Roman church. Roman Catholic monasticism originated in Egypt in the later part of the third century. Irish monasticism was different from it in form and content. The Irish monasteries were the home of theological and spiritual activity and from them Ireland got the name of being the “land of saints and scholars.”

The original rationale of the monastery was born out of a godly desire to live a life of self-denial and dedication to the Lord. It was a choice to abstain from the legitimate and natural practices of life in order to live more unto Christ as Paul spoke of it in 1 Corinthians 7:25–28. As the monastic movement developed into solitary retirement and then into “societies,” it grew more and more distant from biblical teaching. It was the first stage, in the simplicity of the gospel desire for a wholly dedicated life, that Patrick speaks about; he speaks of the rich daughters of kings and also of those in slavery practicing this “self-denying” life and suffering “persecution,” “threats and terrorization,” to do so. “But,” he continues, “the Lord has given grace to many of His handmaidens, for though they are forbidden to do so, they resolutely follow His example.” (Confession, sec. 42).

Christian, how much of your life is spent denying self and the flesh in order that the heart, mind, and body might be of better service to the Lord? “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD” (Lamentations 3:40). Let us seek to serve Him with the whole heart and life. But let us be careful not to let the practice of holiness replace the power of it in the life. Protestantism has its own form of asceticism, when the manner of living, rather than Christ, becomes the focus of the life.

“It is not by telling people about ourselves that we demonstrate our Christianity. Words are cheap. It is by costly, self-denying Christian practice that we show the reality of our faith.”—Jonathan Edwards

All quotations from the Confession or Letter of Patrick are taken from the edition by A. B. E. Hood, 1978.

March 27, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (March 27th) Growing in Grace “More and more…”

by Aaron Dunlop

Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History

Reading: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” 2 Peter 3:18  

One of the most encouraging signs in a young convert is to see spiritual growth. The change from a life of ungodliness to Christianity is distinct and clearly seen—there are many practices of life, speech and activities that are clearly changed as a result of conversion.

So often however, after that initial “new creature” experience we reach a plateau of Christianity and relax our pursuit of godliness.  Weeks slip into months and months into years and we cannot identify any one area of life that has seen growth, or a single sin overcome or a single grace developed.

How often we are content to be saved from hell but so distracted by the world around us. We have expectations of heaven and no pursuit of Christ-likeness. Our prayer life is ritualistic and barren, the Scriptures are read but without ever hearing the author speak through them, there is no active searching the heart for sin, no seeking for the work of the Spirit of God in the life. We are content to go on with certain sins so long as they are not too prominent—what we might call “acceptable sins” like pride, anger, gossiping, or discontent.

Christian, make it your one pursuit in life to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Seek to have the testimony of Patrick who said “more and more did my love of God and my fear of Him increase, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred” (Confession, sec. 16).

“One thing essential to growth in grace is diligence in the use of private means of grace. By these I understand such means as a man must use by himself alone, and no one can use for him. I include under this head private prayer, private reading of the Scriptures, and private meditation and self-examination. The man who does not take pains about these three things must never expect to grow. Here are the roots of true Christianity. Wrong here, and a man is wrong all the way through.”—J.C. Ryle

All quotations from the Confession or Letter of Patrick are taken from the edition by A. B. E. Hood, 1978.

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