Day 20: Hearing from Brother Athanasius
1. Center Down
Before we begin today’s spiritual excursion, please take a few moments to breathe! Take three slow, deep breaths, expanding from your abdomen; try not to raise your shoulders. As you inhale, whisper, “There is One God… As you exhale whisper, “…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
2. Slowly read aloud the following Scriptures
(Feel free to pause at any time during your reading to reflect on, thank, praise, or acknowledge God’s stirring in your thoughts and emotions.)
At that time the Feast of Dedication [Hanukkah] took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the [Jewish leaders] gathered around Him and said to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ [the Messiah], tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s Name bear witness about Me, but you do not believe because you are not among My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never
perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:22-30, ESV)
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing [the risen and ascended Jesus], as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God [that shows the complete nature of the Holy Spirit] sent out into all the earth.
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To Him who sits on the throne [God the Father] and to the Lamb [God the Son] be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:6-7, 13, ESV)
[Note: The above passage from the Book of Revelation gives us a peek into the throne room of God and the Triune Reality. We see the throne of the Father co-inhabited by the Lamb, Jesus, and surrounded by a complete expression of the Holy Spirit, as indicated by the number 7, which is a symbol for “completeness.” This set of images reveals an early understanding in the Church of the co-Divinity–sharing the same glory and substance–of all three distinct Persons living as the One God.]
For further exploration:
Audiobook: On the Incarnation https://archive.org/details/AthanasiusIncarnation
3. Kingdom Prayer
Glorious and All-Wise God, we bless You. Thank You for being the King of Glory. Thank You for being our Father, Redeemer, King, Shepherd, and Advocate.
Thank You for reconciling us back to You through Your Uncreated Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are thankful to You for the Holy Spirit who is the promised Advocate who empowers us to be effective witnesses to Your Kingdom here on earth. Thank You for loving us and watching over us. Lord, let all that we are praise You. We will praise You as long as we live. We will sing Your praises with our dying breath. Our hope is in You, the Lord, our God. You created heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. You keep every promise forever. We stand amazed at how awesome You are!
Magnificent Father, today we revere and honor You. You are God and we submit our loyalty and adoration to You. You existed before time and created everything that exists. You spread out the heavens like a curtain and make Your tent from them. When we look up at the sky, we know that You created every star that we see. Because of Your great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. You are good to everyone and shower compassion on all of Your creation. Lord Jesus, You are our Savior and One with the Father in glory and substance. You are the Lamb Who was slain before the foundation of the world. You are our Risen Redeemer, and through You we are justified. Holy Spirit, You also are one with the Father and the Son and You are our Advocate, our Helper and the Source of all power. We reverence and honor You, the Triune God. Hallelujah!
Take a moment and reflect on God’s presence in your life. Now, write down three things that You are grateful to Him for and begin to praise Him:
Glorious Father, please let Your ears always be attentive to our prayers. Holy Spirit, continue to teach us how to love You, Jesus, our Brother, and our Father, God. Please touch the hearts of those who do not adore the Lord, and help them to love Him with all their hearts, souls, and strength. Please remind each of us of the many things that God does for us daily and help us to spend more time in praise and adoration. Help us to be a thankful church that reflects the glory of God by the way we live our lives. Holy Spirit, help us always to be mindful of Your presence in our daily lives and help us to be quick to respond when You quicken us to action.
Forgiving Lord, forgive us for sins of pride, rebellion, disobedience, selfishness, hate, and idolatry. Lord, forgive us for half-hearted worship. Forgive us for disrespecting Your Name and treating You irreverently.
Forgive those who do not honor You as Lord. Forgive parents for not teaching their children to adore You. Lord Jesus, forgive those who take Your sacrifice for granted. Holy Spirit, forgive those who do not acknowledge You or Your presence in their daily lives. Lord, forgive me for (list any sins that you have committed).
Holy Spirit, remind us all of those we need to forgive and help us to be quick to forgive. As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive. (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you names or faces of people that you may need to forgive. As He reveals them, say, “I forgive name of person(s).” Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)
Holy Spirit, help us all not to yield to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
Lord God, the Almighty, You reign! Great and marvelous are Your works! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear You and glorify Your Name? You alone are holy! All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous deeds have been revealed. In Jesus’ Name,
Scripture References for the Written Text: Psalm 2:10, Psalm 146:1-2,5-6, Revelation 21:6, Isaiah 40:28, Psalm 145:8-9, Deuteronomy 6:5, I John 4:14, Ephesians 1:7, Romans 5:1, John 14:16, Acts 1:8, Matthew 6:13, Revelation 19:6, Revelation 15:3-4
4. Concepts to Consider
Athanasius [ath-an-AY-zee-us] (aka “The Black Dwarf” and “Pillar of the Church”) was a foundational theologian, teacher, and leader in the early Church. He led the charge against the false doctrine (heresy) of “Arianism,” which put forward the idea that Jesus was merely a created being and subordinate to God the Father. The “Arians” asserted that Jesus–and by extension–the Holy Spirit, was NOT fully Divine.
Athanasius was born in Alexandria, Egypt around 296AD. He was well-educated, ordained as a priest and worked as an assistant to the Bishop of Alexandria. After the Bishop’s death, Athanasius was appointed to the Office in 328AD.
Prior to becoming Bishop, however, Athanasius fought the most important doctrinal battle in Christian history. He helped solidify the classic doctrine of the Triune nature of God. Athanasius spent many years defending the original language of the Nicene Creed (affirmed by the Council of Nicaea in 325AD), which stated in its second paragraph:
And [we believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.
Over the course of his lifetime, Athanasius was exiled (banished) five times and spent 17 years away from his home in Alexandria, all for upholding the doctrine of the full divinity of Jesus. Eventually, by the grace and power of God, the heretical Arian doctrine was pushed back, and the full Divine Nature of Christ-that had been attested to by the Apostles and the earliest followers of Jesus–was affirmed!
After his many struggles, Athanasius died peacefully in 373AD, and is still remembered today as a prolific writer, teacher, leader, and defender of the faith. Here is an excerpt from one of his most influential works, On the Incarnation:
This will give you a beginning, and you must go on to prove its truth by the study of the Scriptures. They were written and inspired by God; and we, who have learned from inspired teachers who read the Scriptures and became martyrs for the Godhead of Christ, make further contribution to your eagerness to learn. From the Scriptures you will learn also of His second manifestation to us, glorious and divine indeed, when He shall come not in lowliness but in His proper glory, no longer in humiliation but in majesty, no longer to suffer but to bestow on us all the fruit of His cross— the resurrection and incorruptibility.
But for the searching and right understanding of the Scriptures there is need of a good life and a pure soul, and for Christian virtue to guide the mind to grasp, so far as human nature can, the truth concerning God the Word. One cannot possibly understand the teaching of the saints unless one has a pure mind and is trying to imitate their life.
Anyone who wants to look at sunlight naturally wipes his eye clear first, in order to make, at any rate, some approximation to the purity of that on which he looks; and a person wishing to see a city or country goes to the place in order to do so. Similarly, anyone who wishes to understand the mind of the sacred writers must first cleanse his own life, and approach the saints by copying their deeds. Thus united to them in the fellowship of life, he will both understand the things revealed to them by God and, thenceforth escaping the peril that threatens sinners in the judgment, will receive that which is laid up for the saints in the kingdom of heaven. Of that reward it is written: “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared” for them that live a godly life and love the God and Father in Christ Jesus our Lord, through Whom and with Whom be to the Father Himself, with the Son Himself, in the Holy Spirit, honor and might and glory to ages of ages. Amen.
5. Reflection Questions
- Personal Reflection. As you consider the life of Athanasius, what he suffered and what he taught, how does his example inspire or challenge you in your own walk with Jesus?
- Kingdom Reflection. There are still people in the world and church today who do accept the full divinity of Jesus Christ. How will you pray and work to live out the truth of the Triune Reality in the world around you?
Optional Time of Centering/Soaking:
If possible, take some time, perhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to get into a comfortable position and simply allow the Lord to minister to you at a deep level (Psalm 42:7). Turn off or put down all distractions. Close your eyes. Hold in your thoughts a meaningful word, phrase, or image from the Scripture you read today. Release all other thoughts and concerns into the Presence of the Lord. If your thoughts wander, that’s okay, just gently return to your Biblical word, phrase, or image. You may want to set a timer.