Grace Gems for January 2011
The eye of God!
(James Smith, "God's Knowledge of Us" 1865)
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!" Hebrews 4:13
"The Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought!" 1 Chronicles 28:9
"I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person!" Revelation 2:23
"O Lord, You know!" Jeremiah 15:15
God's perfect knowledge, is like the pillar-cloud which led Israel out of Egypt, and through the wilderness: it is dark and a cause of terror to His enemies — but it is light and a source of comfort to His children.
"O Lord, You know" my SINS and FOLLIES! No one else does. No one else ever will. How could I look anyone in the face — if I thought he knew what was passing in my heart, or what is transacted in the chambers of my imagination within!
The Lord alone can search the heart. He alone knows the worst of us — and He alone knows the best; for the best and the worst, are both concealed in the same heart. The eye of God sees . . .
His eye is on that mysterious portion of our nature, called the imagination, on which such strange pictures are often painted, in which such fearful scenes are sometimes transacted. "You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from You!" Psalm 69:5
What streams of moral filthiness sometimes flow from the heart into the imagination! How difficult sometimes to keep it back.
What a depth of pollution there is within us!
What billows of corruption sometimes roll and swell!
Little does the young Christian think — what the pure and holy eye of God sees within him; and what his own eye will one day discover, filling him with alarm — if not with horror, with shame and self-loathing! Then he will enter into poor Job's confession, "Behold, I am vile!" and into Isaiah's exclamation, "Woe is me! I am undone!"
"What more can I say unto You? For You know Your servant, O Sovereign Lord!" 2 Samuel 7:20
But blessed be God, the righteousness of Jesus covers all — and conceals all; and the grace and Spirit of God will ultimately purge away the whole foul heap from us!
Now our iniquities are forgiven, and our sins are covered; but then our natures will be perfectly purified, and be as white as the falling snow! "Beloved, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2
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Our Father refuses to answer such questions!
(James Smith, "PERPLEXITY" 1865)
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways, My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth — so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts!" Isaiah 55:8-9
God's dealings are very mysterious. His way is in the sea, and His path in the mighty waters, and His footsteps are not known.
We looked for light — but behold darkness.
We expected success — but we meet with failure.
We anticipated prosperity — but we are plunged in adversity.
Our purposes are broken off.
Our plans are frustrated.
Our skies are clothed with clouds.
Beloved, such is the case with us sometimes! Our circumstances are so painful, so different from what we anticipated, that in bewilderment we exclaim, "Truly, You are a God who hides Yourself!"
God will do just as He pleases with His own children. He has the right — and He will exercise it. He will often . . .
cross our wills,
hedge up our paths,
cut off our expectations, and
give us wormwood and gall to drink!
And why? Because He loves to cause us pain — or takes pleasure in our sighs and sorrows? No! Oh, no! But because He consults our welfare. Because He is wiser than we are!
Why am I poor — and my brother rich?
Why am I sick — and my sister healthy?
Why are my efforts crossed — and my neighbor's crowned with success?
This is often deeply trying. But our Father refuses to answer such questions! He asks, "May I not do as I will — with My own?" He kindly quiets us by the assurance, "You don't understand now what I am doing — but someday you will." Well did the patriarch exclaim, "He gives no account of any of His matters."
How difficult to say sometimes, "Though He slays me — yet will I trust in Him!" How difficult to believe that this rough road is the right road, which leads to the celestial city.
Our Father wisely appoints the circumstances and lot of every one of His children. He has mapped out the path in which they are to travel. He has appointed their bounds, which they cannot pass. Then with Job we say, "He is in one mind — and who can oppose him? He does whatever He pleases. He will certainly accomplish what He has decreed for me."
We must not murmur, we must not complain — but patiently follow wherever the Lord leads, and quietly bear whatever He lays on us. Patience must calm the spirit, quiet the heart, and close the mouth. Then shall we say with the Psalmist, "I was silent, I opened not my mouth, because You are the One who has done this!"
Had it been man — it might have been wrong.
Had it been chance — it might have been injurious.
But it was You — and, therefore, it must be wise, holy, and kind.
We are required quietly to persevere — though the way is rugged, though the thorns pierce our feet, though we cannot see one step before us! We must walk by faith, not by sight, believing . . .
that we are safe — in the midst of danger;
that we are right — though everything is perplexing;
and that all will end well — for "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28
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In a few days — I may be in Hell!
(James Smith, "A Solemn Thought!" 1865)
"Are not my days few?" Job 10:20
You may be living as if you thought that your days would be many — living in sin and in folly, and neglecting your everlasting concerns! You may be planning and scheming — as if you were to live here forever, or were at least sure of many years to come. Years! why we are not sure of months, weeks, days, hours, nay minutes! At the best — our days will be few!
If my days are few, then time will soon end with me, eternity will soon open upon me — and I shall soon know what heaven — or hell, really is! How solemn!
In a few days — I may be in Heaven! I may see the Lamb in the midst of the throne. I may be joining with the triumphing multitude in the presence of God.
But in a few days — I may be in Hell! In hell? Yes, in Hell!
In unquenchable fire!
In everlasting burnings!
In unutterable torments!
The sport of devils.
The companion of damned souls.
Under the blighting, blasting, and withering curse of God.
Hell! Who can tell what Hell is? Who can describe its tortures, its horrors, its terrific scenes?
Are not my days few? Yes! Then I must soon be in Heaven — or Hell.
Reader, your days are few! They may be very few — much fewer than you have calculated on. Suppose they should end! Suppose the decree had gone forth from the eternal throne, "Tomorrow you shall die!" and you were to be informed of it by some angelic messenger who heard it pronounced — how would you feel? How? What would you do? Where would you be for eternity?
"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" Psalm 90:12
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Behold the Man!
(James Smith, 1865)
"Behold the Man!" John 19:5
They scourge Him, crown Him with thorns, clothe Him with an old purple robe, smite Him with their fists — and now Pilate brings Him forth, saying, "Behold the Man!"
In His whole life He was holy, harmless, undefiled, full of mercy, and went about doing good. Yet, because He condemned sin, and required submission to God's righteousness — He was hated, persecuted, and murdered!
Let us behold this Man! He exercised all the virtues which could adorn humanity. See His meekness, gentleness, patience, faith, fortitude, pity, and perfect love to God and man. O lovely character! O perfect pattern of holiness!
Behold — and adore Him heartily.
Behold — and trust in Him implicitly.
My soul, behold the man!
See . . .
His grief-stricken countenance,
His battered frame,
His breaking heart,
His bleeding brow;
He is enduring all this for you!
Behold Him, and . . .
do not doubt His love,
nor question His veracity,
nor fear your foes,
nor dread your heavenly Father's wrath!
Behold Him, as . . .
the proof of God's love to you,
the confirmation of all the promises made to you,
the pledge of all the blessings set before you.
Behold Him — and sympathize with Him; look on the pierced One, and "mourn for Him."
Behold Him — and give yourself afresh unto Him!
Behold Him — and crucify your flesh with its passions and lusts.
Behold Him — until a deep impression is made upon your heart, and the love of sin departs!
Behold Him — if tempted to murmur, or complain, or repine at any of the dispensations of Divine Providence.
Behold Him — when Satan or the world allures you to sin, or would draw you away from your God.
Behold Him — when death stares you in the face, and the grave is ready for you.
"Behold the Man!"
Behold — and love Him more!
Behold — and imitate Him more!
Behold — and serve Him more!
May the Man of Sorrows be daily before my eye!
And may I also behold Him — coming in power and great glory! What a contrast will there be, between His first and second coming:
His cross — and His throne;
His crown of thorns — and His crown of glory;
as He appeared before Pilate and the Jewish rabble — and as surrounded with all the armies of heaven, and all His saints with Him!
"Behold the Man!"
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How many of us have sacrificed our children to the idols!
(James Smith, "Affliction Regarded" 1865)
"They shed innocent blood — the blood of their sons and daughters whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; so the land became polluted with blood!" Psalm 106:38
We may plead guiltless as to the shedding of the blood of the body — but there is the blood of souls! How many of us have sacrificed our children to the idols of the present Canaan — fashion, custom, dress, amusements, and worldly conformity in general!
Look at the poor example we give them!
Look at the worldly company we choose for them!
Look at the carnal practices we allow them to indulge in!
O how many of our children have been sacrificed to custom, fashion, and the various idols of the world!
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(James Smith, "The Rest!" 1865)
"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Hebrews 4:9
We shall consider these words as referring to HEAVENLY rest:
our Father's house,
our Savior's home, and
our eternal dwelling-place!
To the weary and way-worn — there is something delightful in the thought of REST, and they love to think of Heaven as the place where they shall "rest from their labors."
REST gives us the idea of . . .
repose — the calm, quiet repose of the soul;
refreshment — the refreshment of the exhausted spirit after conflict, sickness, or toil;
restoration to vigor — after debility, languor, and fainting.
Heaven will be a rest . . .
from sin — which will no more grieve us;
from sorrow — which will no more trouble and distress us;
from fears — which will no more harass and perplex us; and
from conflicts — which will no more agitate and suppress us.
It will be a rest . . .
with God in His glory,
with Jesus in His immediate presence,
with saints and holy angels in full perfection and blessedness.
This rest is FUTURE — it remains for the people of God.
This rest is the object of our hope and DESIRE. We look forward to it, with holy longing and cheering anticipations.
This rest is PERFECT — free from all mixture of anything that will agitate, give pain, or cause grief.
This rest is UNINTERRUPTED — nothing will ever occur to disturb, distress, or agitate us any more.
This rest is GLORIOUS — as bright as the meridian sun, as balmy as the most pleasant morning, as glowing with holiness, splendor, and majesty.
This rest is ETERNAL — and this is best of all. The possibility of a change, of a return to former scenes — would spoil all. But that rest will be enduring — as changeless as the Divine nature, and as glorious as the Divine perfections.
Blessed be God for such a rest for the weary, suffering, and downcast believer in Jesus! Oh, to keep the eye fixed upon it, and the heart expecting it — amidst all the troubles and trials of time!
This rest is FOR the redeemed people of God. They are now a poor, tried, tempted, and restless people; strangers and pilgrims upon the earth, as all their fathers were.
Satan tempts them,
sinners try them,
fears harass them,
Providence perplexes them,
and they often cry out, "O that I had wings like a dove — then would I fly away and be at rest!"
Believer, let the prospect of this eternal glorious rest, cheer you in toil and trouble! Your work will soon be finished, your trouble will soon come to an end — and then rest — the glorious rest, remains for you!
Let your Heavenly rest, quicken your pace homewards! You are going to a rest — a perfect, uninterrupted, and eternal rest — a rest in Heaven, a rest with Jesus, a rest in the presence of your God forever! Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, and press on towards the mark, cheered by the prospect of the end of the race.
Remember, Christian, this rest is SECURE, for Jesus has taken possession of it for you. "I am going," said He, "to prepare a place for you." Yes, Jesus has gone there for you, He has taken possession in your name, He is preparing your place, and will soon come and receive you to Himself!
Remember too, that it is NEAR — very near. Perhaps much nearer than you may think!
You may be sighing, sorrowing, striving, wrestling, doubting, fearing, and cast down today; and tomorrow you may be in your Heavenly rest!
Today, you may be lying like Lazarus, at the rich man's gate, full of sores; tomorrow, you may be basking in the beams of Immanuel's glory!
Today, you may be on the bed of sickness, suffering, and pain; tomorrow, you may be in the presence of Jesus, where there is no more pain, neither sorrow nor crying!
Who can tell how near we all are to our Heavenly and everlasting rest?
Remember also, that your very trials, toils, and sufferings here on earth, may SWEETEN your rest to you! And that soon, very soon — you may be rejoicing over your present sorrows, and praising God for what now fills you with grief and sadness. Things will look very different there — from what they do here. Never, never forget, then, in your darkest nights, in your most trying days, in the midst of every storm and tempest, when passing over burning sands and under a scorching sky — that there remains a rest for the people of God, and a rest for you!
"Arise and depart; for this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy!"
"There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest!"
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The object of God's tender, perfect and ceaseless care!
(James Smith, "Divine Care!" 1865)
"Casting all your care upon Him — for He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7
Our cares must be cast upon our God, or they will prove a burden too heavy for us — they will depress, bewilder, and make us wretched!
WHO is it that cares for us? It is the Lord Almighty — the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy! It is He whom the angels obey, the seraphim adore, and all creation glorifies!
It is the Lord — who is so great, that we have no adequate conception of His greatness!
It is He who is so good — that it is impossible fully to set forth His goodness!
It is He who is so glorious — that no sinner can see His face and live!
It is He who created all things with His Word!
It is He who governs all things by His wisdom!
It is He who upholds all things by His power!
It is He whose resources are infinite!
It is He whose compassion is exquisite!
It is He whose patience is without limit!
But though He is so exalted, so happy, and so unspeakably great — He cares for you!
He cares for you — as base as you are.
He cares for you — as sinful as you are.
He cares for you — as depressed and discouraged as you are.
HE cares for YOU!
May I pass through the present world under the impression, "I am the object of God's tender, perfect and ceaseless care!"
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Watch His hand!
(James Smith, "Direction For the Perplexed" 1865)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him — and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
This implies that God is always present with us, is willing to be consulted by us, and will surely attend to us.
This implies that our way is likely to be difficult, dark, and perplexing; a way in which we have never traveled before, and in which we are likely to be misled.
This implies that only way to be safe, to walk securely — is to seek Divine direction; and this God is willing to give — but He will have us ask it of Him. We are dependents — and we must realize our dependence. We are but children — and we must feel it, and act as under the impression of it.
"In all your ways acknowledge Him."
You have His Word — consult it; make it your counselor, your directory and your guide.
You have His promise — believe it; He says, "I will teach you and instruct you in the way which you shall go, I will guide you with My eye."
You have His throne of grace — flee to it, and plead with Him as a man pleads with his friend.
And, while you consult His Word, believe His promise, and pray for direction — watch His hand! Providence is God working; working to accomplish His purposes, to fulfill His promises, and to answer the prayers of His people.
In His Word — He speaks to us;
on His throne — He listens to us,
by His providence — He works for us, and those who keep their eye open — will be sure to see His hand.
While you watch His hand — seek grace to submit to His will. He wills to do you good, the greatest good; and if His will crosses yours, depend upon it — it is just because it is most for your benefit.
Gratefully acknowledge His favors as you receive them. Remember that, as sinful creatures, being criminals and traitors — we have no "rights".
Consequently, everything short of hell — is a mercy!
Everything but eternal punishment — is a favor!
How many favors and mercies you receive — and how few praises you render!
How many mercies are given you — and how few acknowledgments you make!
He who habitually . . .
consults God's holy Word,
believes His faithful promises,
pleads at His gracious throne for direction,
watches His working hand,
submits to His righteous will, and
gratefully acknowledges His sovereign favors —
will never be allowed to go far wrong, or to go wrong for long; for "He shall direct your steps!"
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Our path is often slippery!
(James Smith, "Preservation Sought" 1865)
"But as for me, my feet had almost slipped! I had nearly lost my foothold!" Psalm 73:2
The Christian is always on dangerous ground!
We may fall into sin — even when we cannot fall into hell.
We may break our bones — when we cannot break our neck.
We may make sad work for repentance — when we do not incur a sentence of final condemnation.
We are liable to fall by error — which is specious and powerful.
We are liable to fall by Satan — who is crafty and malicious.
We are liable to fall by our weakness — which is very great.
We are liable to fall by sinful pleasures — in which the flesh takes delight.
We are liable to fall by our unhallowed tempers — which need constant watchfulness and incessant prayer.
We are liable to fall by erroneous people — who may, like Satan, lie in wait to deceive us.
We therefore need keeping — constant keeping, divine keeping!
Our path is often slippery — and we are apt to be incautious. But it is our unspeakable mercy, that God has promised to keep us. "He keeps the feet of His saints."
But He will have us feel our weakness, and need of His keeping — and plead with Him to keep us: "Hold me up — and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117
"My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble; the One who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord Himself watches over you!
The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever!"
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(James Smith, "A New Year's Motto" 1865)
"Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!" Luke 21:28
We are entering upon a new year, we shall have
new temptations, and
In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year — let us seek grace to follow our Lord's loving advice, and "look up!"
Do not look back — as Lot's wife did.
Do not look within — as too many do.
Do not look around — as David did.
But "look up!" Look up to God — He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, "Look unto Me, and be delivered — for I am God!"
Look up for light to guide you — and He will direct your path.
Look up for grace to sanctify you — and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.
Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God's will — and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.
Look up for comfort to cheer you — and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.
Look up for courage to embolden you — and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might — He will increase strength.
Look up for endurance to keep you — and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.
Look up for providence to supply you — and the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Look up in faith — exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.
Look up in prayer — asking for what God has graciously promised.
Look up in hope — expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.
Look up with adoration — and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.
Look up constantly — let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, "Our eyes are on the Lord our God — until He shows us mercy."
Look up — for this will keep . . .
the head from swimming,
the heart from sinking,
the knees from trembling,
the feet from slipping, and
the hands from hanging down!
It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year — but "Look up!" This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
procure for us all that we need,
secure us against all that we dread, and
make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!
Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? "Look up" and hear Jesus saying to you, "Do not be afraid — I Myself will help you!"
Are you discouraged? "Look up" — and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle's, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!
Are you desponding? "Look up" for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.
Do not look too much at your sin — look at the infinitely meritorious blood of God's dear Son!
Do not look too much at self — but look at Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.
Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods? Then look up! He who stripped you — loves you! He will be more than all these to you! He will . . .
bind up your broken heart,
calm your perturbed spirit,
cheer your drooping mind, and
fill you with His own peace and happiness.
Look up . . .
for all that you need;
from all that you fear;
through all that would obstruct your way.
Look up every day, saying with David, "In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and will look up!" Psalm 5:3
Look up in every trial, saying "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help: my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!"
Do not look at your sin — it will discourage you!
Do not look at your self — it will distress you!
Do not look at Satan — he will bewilder you!
Do not look to men — they will deceive, or disappoint you!
Do not look at your trials — they will deject you!
"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us — looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:1-2
Look only, look always, look intently — to Jesus!
Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking — to Jesus, who is at God's right hand in glory.
Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!
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His teaching makes practical Christians!
"But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name — He will teach you all things!" John 14:26
The Holy Spirit is the Teacher of the church. To Him the promise refers, "All Your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children."
He taught the apostles all things necessary for their office and work.
He teaches the true ministers of Christ, leading them into the truth as it is in Jesus.
And he teaches every believer — all that is really necessary for him to know!
The Bible is the lesson-book,
the believer is the scholar,
the blessed Spirit is the teacher, and
experimental religion is the education!
No one teaches like Him!
He teaches us . . .
For only what the Spirit teaches us — do we really know!
He teaches us . . .
what God requires in His Word,
what He has provided in His gospel;
what Christ is to His people,
what His people are to Him.
His teaching makes practical Christians — for He always teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world!
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Afterwards you will understand!
"You do not understand now what I am doing — but afterwards you will understand." John 13:7
We are to walk by faith — not by sight.
We are to trust His heart — when we cannot see His hand!
We are to believe Him — when we cannot understand His mysterious workings!
The Lord is now working in nature, providence, and grace — and He does many things which we do not understand at present. But when His work is complete, and it lies stretched out before us in the light of eternity — we shall then . . .
comprehend His design,
admire His wisdom, and
adore His divine workings!
Beloved, is God cleansing you by fiery trials, or causing you to pass through deep waters? Are you at a loss to know what His design is, or where the present affliction will end?
Be still. Wait His time.
There is a divine working time — which is the present;
and there is a divine revealing time — which is to come.
The wisest Christians are often in the dark now — but the simplest Christians will see all things clearly by and by.
A little more patience, a little more faith — and all will end well.
"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God, and who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:2
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He has done all things well!
By Octavius Winslow
LISTEN to Audio while you read along with the quote below!
"He has done all things well!" Mark 7:37
Yes, from first to last, from our cradle to our grave, from the earliest pang of sin's conviction, to the last thrill of sin's forgiveness, from earth to heaven — this will be our testimony in all the way the Lord our God has led us in the wilderness: "He has done all things well!"
In providence and in grace,
in every truth of His Word,
in every lesson of His love,
in every stroke of His rod,
in every sunbeam that has shone,
in every cloud that has shaded,
in every element that has sweetened,
in every ingredient that has embittered,
in all that has been mysterious, inscrutable, painful, and humiliating,
in all that He gave,
in all that He took away,
this testimony is His just due, and this our grateful acknowledgment through time and through eternity: "He has done all things well!"
Has He converted us through grace by a way we had thought the most improbable?
Has He torn up all our earthly hopes by the roots?
Has He thwarted our schemes, frustrated our plans, disappointed our expectations?
Has He taught us in schools most trying, by a discipline most severe, and lessons most humbling to our nature?
Has He withered our strength by sickness, reduced us to poverty by loss, crushed our heart by bereavement?
And have we been tempted to exclaim, "All these things are against me!"
Ah! no! faith will yet obtain the ascendancy, and sweetly sing:
"I know in all things that befell,
My Jesus has done all things well!"
Beloved, it must be so, for Jesus can do nothing wrong!
Study the way of His providence and grace with the microscopic eye of faith — view them in every light, examine them in their minutest detail, as you would the petal of a flower, or the wing of an insect; and, oh, what wonders, what beauty, what marvelous adaptation would you observe in all the varied dealings with you, of your glorious Lord!
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The Golden Key! The Golden Thread!
by Octavius Winslow
LISTEN to Audio while you read along with the quote below!
Jesus is the one great theme both of the Old Testament and the New. The whole Bible is designed to testify of Christ, "The Scriptures point to Me!" John 5:39
In Christ the Messiah, in Jesus the Savior, in the Son of God the Redeemer — all the truths of the Bible center.
To Him all the types and shadows point!
Of Him all the prophecies give witness!
All the glory of the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation — culminates at the cross of Christ!
The Bible would be an inexplicable mystery apart from Christ, who unfolds and explains it all.
He is the golden Key which unlocks the divine treasury of Scriptural revelation!
Until He is seen, the Bible is, in a sense — a great mystery. But when He is found, it is a glorious revelation. Every mystery is opened, every enigma explained, every discrepancy harmonized, and every truth and page, sentence and word, quickened with a life and glowing with a light flowing down from the throne of the Eternal God.
Christ is the substance of the Gospel.
All its divine doctrines,
all its holy precepts,
all its gracious instructions,
all its precious promises,
all its glorious hopes —
meet, center, and fill up their entire compass in Jesus!
He is the Alpha and the Omega of the Bible, from the first verse in Genesis — to the last verse in Revelation.
Oh, study the Scriptures of truth with a view of learning Christ.
Do not study the Bible as a mere history.
Do not read it as a mere poem.
Do not search it as a book of science.
It is all that, but infinitely more.
The Bible is the Book of Jesus!
It is a Revelation of Christ!
Christ is the golden thread which runs through the whole!
Blessed Lord Jesus! I will read and study and dig into the Scriptures to find and learn more of You!
You, Immanuel, are the fragrance of this divine box of precious ointment.
You are the beauteous gem sparkling in this divine cabinet.
You are the Tree of life planted in the center of this divine garden.
You are the Ocean whose stream quickens and nourishes all who draw water out of this divine well of salvation.
The Bible is all about You!
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The infinite ocean of Christ's love!
By Octavius Winslow Download Audio
LISTEN to Audio while you read along with the quote below!
The mind has often been sensible of a feeling of awe as we have stood upon the shore, and gazed upon the vast expanse of the ocean. With a similar, yet far transcending emotion — we approach the infinite ocean of Christ's love!
Like the eternity of God, we cannot fathom where His love begins, or where it terminates.
There is no other solution to the marvelous mysteries of His Incarnation and Sacrificial Death but this — Christ has loved us!
Love originated all, explains all, illustrates all.
Love is the interpreter of every Divine mystery.
There is not a circumstance of our Lord's history which is not another form or manifestation of love.
His incarnation — is love stooping.
His sympathy — is love weeping.
His compassion — is love supporting.
His grace — is love acting.
His teaching — is the voice of love.
His silence — is the repose of love.
His patience — is the restraint of love.
His obedience — is the labor of love.
His suffering — is the travail of love.
His cross — is the altar of love.
His death — is the burnt offering of love.
His resurrection — is the triumph of love.
His ascension into heaven — is the enthronement of love.
His intercession in heaven — is the prayer of love.
Such is the deep, the vast, the boundless ocean of Christ's love! The soul muses in silent awe as it gazes upon this fathomless, limitless sea!
Nothing short of a divine love could or would have borne our sins — and the punishment of our sins. The weight of the one, and the terribleness of the other — would have crushed and annihilated a mere 'created' affection. There existed no love but the love of Jesus, which was equal to the work of salvation.
Who was willing, who was able — to bear that heavy load, to endure that overwhelming curse — but Jesus?
Oh, think, beloved reader, what the love of Christ has done and suffered for you:
the burden it bore,
the sorrow it felt,
the humiliation it underwent,
the privation through which it traveled;
how inconceivably it agonized,
how freely it bled,
how voluntarily it died,
the sins it has pardoned,
the guilt it has cleansed,
the declensions it has restored,
the backslidings it has healed,
the sorrows it has soothed,
the patience it has exercised,
the gentleness it has exhibited —
and then ask, could any other but the love of Jesus have done all this, and endured all this?
Such is the love of Christ!
To have saved us upon such terms —
a stoop so low,
a humiliation so profound,
a labor so immense,
mental anguish so acute,
bodily suffering so agonizing,
a death so ignominious —
Was there ever a love like this?
Was it ever equaled? Where shall we find its parallel?
Love less divine, less strong, less gentle — could never have won your heart, uprooted your enmity, torn you from your idols — enthroning Christ, all of Christ, Christ only, Christ supremely, Christ forever!
The love of Christ will be the wonder, the study, and the song of all pure, holy creatures through eternity!
Beloved, nothing shall take the love of Christ from you — or separate you from it.
It does not ebb with the ebbing of your feelings;
it does not chill with the chill of your affections;
it does not change with the changing scenes and circumstances of your life.
The love of Christ has depths we cannot sound, heights we cannot explore, an infinite fullness and freeness tiding over all the sins, infirmities, and sorrows of its blessed and favored objects!
Seek to know this love of Christ, though it is so vast that it 'passes knowledge.' Infinite though it is — you may . . .
experience its reality,
taste its sweetness, and
be influenced by its all commanding, all constraining power!
Do not limit your heart experience of Christ's love, for it is infinite in its nature, and boundless in its extent.
As yet, how many of us stand but upon the shore of this ocean!
How little do we know, experimentally, of the love of Christ in our souls!
Bring your heart with —
its profoundest emptiness,
its most startling discovery of sin,
its lowest frame,
its deepest sorrow — and
sink it into the depths of the Savior's love!
That infinite sea will flow over all, erase all, absorb all — and your soul shall swim and sport amid its gentle waves, exclaiming in your joy and transport, "Oh, the depths!"
May the Lord direct your heart into the love of God!
Just as it is:
Christ's love touching your hard heart — will dissolve it!
Christ's love touching your cold heart — will warm it!
Christ's love touching your sinful heart — will purify it!
Christ's love touching your sorrowful heart — will soothe it!
Christ's love touching your wandering heart — will draw it back to Himself!
Only bring your heart to Christ's love!
Believe that He loves you, and just as love begets love, so the simple belief in the love of Jesus will inspire you with a reflected, responsive affection; and your soul, like the flower, will burst from its captivity, and bloom, and, soaring in life, liberty, and beauty — will float in the sunbeams of Gods full, free, and eternal love! And, in a little while, will find itself in heaven — where all is love!
"Blessed Jesus! Your love, like Your agonies, is an unknown and unfathomable depth! It surpasses knowledge. Let it rise and expand before me, until it fills the entire scope of my soul's vision; occupies every niche of my heart; and bears me onward by its all commanding, all constraining influence — in the path of a holy loving obedience and surrender."
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All enameled and interwoven with free grace!
By Thomas Watson
LISTEN to Audio while you read along with the quote below!
"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him." 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Without this effectual call — there is no going to heaven!
This effectual call, is a GRACIOUS call. It is the fruit and product of free grace! That God should call some — and not others; that some should be taken — and others left; that one should be called who is of a more wicked disposition — while another of a sweeter temper, is rejected! Here is free grace! That the poor should be rich in faith, heirs of a kingdom (James 2:5), and the nobles and great ones of the world for the most part rejected; this is free and rich grace! "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight!" (Matthew 11:26)
That under the same sermon one should be effectually wrought upon — while another is no more moved than a dead man with the sound of music; that one should hear the Spirit's voice in the Word — while another does not hear it; that one should be softened and moistened with the influence of heaven — while another, like Gideon's dry fleece, has no dew upon him; behold here distinguishing, sovereign grace!
What is the cause of this — but the free grace of God! It is all enameled and interwoven with free grace! Those who are monuments of God's mercies — will be trumpets of His praise. "So that no one may boast before Him!" 1 Corinthians 1:29
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He never thought that he would sink into Hell!
(James Smith, "Suppose I Should Die Suddenly!" 1865)
Death has a voice — it is sent with a message to us. It says, "I am coming for you soon! Be ready!"
Sudden death reminds us . . .
that time is short,
that life is uncertain,
that death is always near,
that we may be die at any moment,
that there is only a thin veil between us and eternity,
that dying is going to an eternal abode, from whence we shall never return!
Death is always solemn! SUDDEN death is peculiarly so. It should make as serious. It should lead to reflection.
Suppose I should die suddenly? I may. There is no security against it. It is possible, if not probable:
"Dangers stand thick all around,
To push us to the tomb!"
Any one of these dangers may push me down, and in a moment the body and soul may part. Well, suppose it should be so — am I ready?
To the true Christian, sudden death — is sudden glory! The soul departs to be with Christ — which is far better than remaining here on this poor earth.
But would this be my case? Am I truly in Christ? Am I truly born again? Solemn inquiries these! Without the new birth, there can be no salvation. If I should imagine that I am born again when I am not, and then if, while deceived by such a vain hope, I should die suddenly — what dreadful consequences would follow! Such a mistake could never be rectified. The effects of it must be endured forever!
Suppose I should die suddenly today! I may! And if I do,
where will I spend this night?
Where will I be tomorrow?
What will be my portion forever?
Jesus tells us of one who in this life, had everything his heart could wish for; and to warn us against neglecting the soul, while feasting the body, He utters these solemn words: "The rich man died and was buried; and in Hell he lift up his eyes being in torments!" Most likely, he was taken by surprise — he never thought that he would sink into Hell!
I dare say, that none of his friends supposed that he was lifting up his eyes in Hell, being in torments. But it was so, and he is in torments now — and in these torments he will remain forever!
O fearful case! But will it be mine? Oh, it is possible — it is more than possible!
If I die suddenly as a true Christian — how glorious the transition will be. How wonderful, to be one hour in a poor world like this — engaged in its difficult duties, enduring its sore trials, and suffering from its evil habits and customs; and the next moment to be in the presence of God, suddenly free from sin, sorrow, care, and trouble; beyond the reach of doubt, fear, and the devil; and to enjoy safety, satisfaction, and the fullness of joy forever.
But the alternative! Ah, the alternative! If I die suddenly, and die unholy and unsaved — how dreadful even the supposition! But what must the reality be? To be one hour in comfort, surrounded by kind relatives and friends, in the land of hope and mercy — and the next moment in the regions of eternal despair, filled with anguish, bitter regrets, and hopeless misery!
Reader, you may die suddenly! You may die today — and if you do, your state will be fixed forever. There is no certainty of life — beyond the present moment. Therefore make your calling and your election sure!
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Felix has had some eighteen hundred years in Hell to rue his folly!
(James Smith, "PROCRASTINATION" 1865)
"As Paul reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix trembled and replied: Go away for now. When it is more convenient, I will send for you!" Acts 24:25
Here is Felix listening to the apostle Paul. He is attentive. He is interested. He is affected. He trembles. He realizes something of the solemnity of eternity. He feels concern — but it is not deep enough, therefore he says, "Go away for now. When it is more convenient, I will send for you!" He does not positively refuse — but he postpones the matter. He thought there would be a more convenient time — but there never was! Felix has had some eighteen hundred years in Hell to rue his folly! He is regretting it at this moment — and he will regret it forever!
Many have imitated his foolish conduct. They say to God's ministers, "Go away for now. When it is more convenient, I will send for you!"
What they are really saying is, "I love sin. It is my element. It is my delight. I cannot give it up just now. The dance — the jovial party — the customs of the present world — these are things that I like. I am not prepared to part with them, and embrace the gospel you preach. Go away for now. I had rather remain as I am — at least a little longer. I do not wish to be saved at present. By and bye, when I am too old to enjoy sin, or when sickness has made me too weak to follow any carnal pleasures — then, at this convenient season, I will send for you."
Oh, sinner, sinner! Will you spurn God's gracious invitation — will you turn a deaf ear to the message of mercy?
Will you persevere in sin — until you lie down in black despair?
Will you go to Hell — when so near the gates of Heaven?
Will you perish in your own deceivings?
Have you no fear of God?
Have you no dread of eternal torments?
Have you no wish to escape from the wrath to come?
What will you do in that dread day . . .
when death arrests you,
when the just Judge passes sentence upon you,
when Satan seizes you,
when Hell opens to engulf you, and
when the gates of the infernal pit close upon you forever?
What will you do?
What can you do?
To whom will you flee for help?
How will you, how can you, escape?
Alas! escape then, will be impossible!
Then the door of hope will be forever shut!
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The sparkling diamond in the ring of glory!
(Thomas Brooks, "Paradise Opened" 1675)
"Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory!" John 17:24
Christ can never rest satisfied until His gracious communion with His people here on earth, issues in their perfect and glorious communion with Him in heaven.
Christ is very desirous of His people's fellowship and company. It is a part of Christ's joy — that they should be where He is. Christ will not be happy alone. As a tender father, He can enjoy nothing if His children may not have part with Him. Even now — He is always with them . . .
to eye their behavior,
to hear their prayers,
to guide their way,
to protect their persons,
to cheer their spirits, and
to delight in their presence.
The greatest part of the happiness which we shall have in heaven, lies in this — that then we shall be with Christ, and have immediate communion with Him. O sirs! the great end of our being in heaven, is to behold and enjoy the glory of Christ!
Certainly the glory and happiness of heaven to the elect, will consist much in being in Christ's company, in whom they delight so much on earth. To follow the Lamb wherever He goes, to enjoy Him fully, and to be always in His presence — is the heaven of heaven, the glory of glory! This is the sparkling diamond in the ring of glory!
The day is coming wherein believers shall be completely happy in a sight of Christ's glory, and shall visibly and immediately behold and enjoy Him!
"Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory!" John 17:24
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Heaven's great store-house!
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ!" Ephesians 1:3
"The unsearchable riches of Christ!" Ephesians 3:8
The Lord Jesus is heaven's great store-house, in whom is laid up all treasures, and from whom we are to receive all our supplies!
All that we can need,
all that we can enjoy, and
all that we can desire — is in Christ!
All the perfections and attributes of God, are in Him.
Justice and grace,
mercy and holiness,
love and power —
in all their fullness are in Him, and are displayed by Him.
All the promises of God are in Him — confirmed by His death, to be fulfilled by His own hand.
All the blessings of grace, and all the riches of glory, are in Him; He possesses and He bestows them.
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him — and from Him we must receive them.
All saving offices are in Christ — for His people.
He is our Surety — to pay all our sin debts.
He is our Substitute — to impute His perfect righteousness to us.
He is our Redeemer — to ransom us.
He is our Mediator — to reconcile us to the Father.
He is our Physician — to cure all our soul-diseases.
He heals the diseases . . .
of the mind; as our Prophet — He imparts saving knowledge,
of the conscience; as our Priest — He gives peace us with God,
and of the will; as our King — He governs His people.
All we need, therefore, is in Christ!
All God intends to bestow, is in Christ!
To Him therefore, we should apply for all;
from Him, we should expect to receive all.
Every need — should send us to Christ!
Every desire — should lead us to Christ!
In all things — we should have to do with Christ. Everywhere, we should realize the presence of Christ. In a word, we should daily make Christ in our experience, what God has made Him to us in His Word — our Alpha and Omega, our first and last, our all in all. Everything should lead us to Him; and everything should serve to endear Him to us — who is at once our present fountain, and our everlasting portion!
"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:19
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The very best things — for the very worst of men!
(James Smith, "Glad Tidings of Good Things" 1861)
"The glorious gospel of the blessed God!" 1 Timothy 1:11
"Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel!" 2 Timothy 1:10
The gospel is most appropriately called "Glad Tidings," for it brings tidings calculated to gladden the heart of the most depressed and sorrowful of men. It reveals God's wondrous love, it tells us of the Savior's grace, and makes known the promise and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is indeed "Glad Tidings of Good Things" — for it informs us of . . .
pardon for the guilty,
peace for the troubled,
wealth for the poor,
rest for the weary, and
salvation for the lost!
The gospel brings tidings from heaven, tidings for sinners, tidings of good things for them; yes, tidings of the very best things — for the very worst of men!
It is the glorious glad tidings of the blessed God . . .
giving correct views of His nature,
revealing His loving heart,
publishing His gracious thoughts, and
making known His mercy to sinful men!
These tidings are calculated to . . .
gladden the saddest heart,
cheer the desponding mind, and
fill the despairing soul with joy and peace.
Never were there such Glad Tidings! No one but an infinite God could have devised them. No one but the All-merciful God would have sent them to rebellious sinners!
Jesus is an almighty Savior. Jesus is an ever willing Savior. Jesus is a loving Savior; therefore He is able to save the vilest, to save freely, and to save all who apply to be saved by Him. The man or woman who reads these lines, is as really, as sincerely invited by Jesus, to come and be saved by Him — as if a letter had been hand-written by Jesus and addressed to that person by name!
Can you conceive of anything better than this!
A Savior for vile sinners;
a Savior to deliver sinners from the lowest hell;
a Savior to raise sinners to the highest heaven;
a Savior from sin — the cause of suffering;
a Savior from guilt — the source of fear;
a Savior from the world — which is doomed to destruction!
The gospel is also the good news of a better country, even a Heavenly one. Heaven is . . .
a rest for the weary,
a home for the homeless, and
the best company for the lonely and desolate.
Heaven comprises . . .
all that can feast the intellect,
all that can satisfy the heart,
all that can fill the soul.
It is enriched with all the wealth of God,
it is filled with the glory of God, and
it is the house and home of God.
In Heaven there is . . .
no pain or privation,
no grief or sorrow,
no losses or crosses,
no temptations or trials,
no wants or woes.
Heaven contains the highest manifestations of the greatness, grandeur, and magnificence of God. Heaven is the home of the brightest, holiest, and most dignified of God's intelligent creation. Heaven! What is it? Heaven! What does it comprise and comprehend? "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined — what God has prepared for those who love Him!" No one can give the faintest guess at what Heaven is; but whatever it is, whatever it contains — the gospel tells us that it is for saved sinners!
The gospel is God's best message to man. It contains the promise of all that man can need, and all that God can give — to every one who sincerely believes the message. Take heed therefore how you treat the gospel; for we can conceive of no greater sin — than disbelieving God's message; or of any greater insult offered to God — than to treat His message with contempt!
Precious gospel — that such sinners as we are — so vile, so poor, so feeble, so utterly worthless — may obtain God's Heaven, and dwell in it with the Savior forever!
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Am I like Jesus — or not?
(J. R. Miller)
"Jesus got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples' feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him." John 13:4-5
Serving is not an easy lesson to learn. But it is a lesson which we must learn — if ever we would become like our Master. Jesus did not come to be served — but to serve. He served to the uttermost, just as He loved to the uttermost. Any service that needed to be done for another — He did as naturally and as simply as He breathed! He loved people, and was interested in them and was ready always to be helpful to them. It never mattered what the service was, whether it was the saving of a soul, the curing of a grievous sickness, or washing feet — He did the least service — as graciously and as divinely as the greatest!
The washing of feet was the lowliest service any man could do for another. It was the work of the lowliest slave. Yet Jesus without hesitation, did this service for His own disciples. Thus He taught them that nothing anyone may ever need to have done by another — is unfit for the holiest hands. We begin to be like Christ — only when we begin to love others enough to serve them, regardless of the lowliness of the particular service.
One day a stranger entered an artist's studio in Milan. The artist was working on a painting of the head of Christ and appeared to take no notice of the stranger. At last he broke the silence, looked at the man and asked, "Sir, does it look like Jesus — or not?"
There is no surer test of the genuineness of Christian life — than in this matter of serving others. In serving others, we should inquire, "Am I like Jesus — or not?" We are too careful of our dignity. When we see the Son of God washing His disciples' feet — we should be ashamed ever to ask whether anything another may need to have done — is too menial for us to do. A king may do the lowliest kindness to the poorest peasant in his realm — and his honor will only be enhanced by it.
"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet — you also should wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do, just as I have done for you." John 13:14, 15
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(James Smith, "The Voice of Christ" 1861)
"Truly, truly, I say unto you: the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God — and those who hear shall live!" John 5:25
Every believer hears the voice of Jesus — and becomes spiritually alive. He becomes deeply, intensely concerned about the things of God — to know them, to possess them, and to enjoy them.
To please Jesus — becomes his delight.
To be like Jesus — becomes his highest desire.
To be with Jesus — becomes his Heaven.
See then, what we need — that Jesus should speak:
speak to sinners — and convert them;
speak to drowsy professors — and arouse them.
Ministers may speak — but none will heed them.
Teachers may teach — but none will be aroused by them.
It is the omnipotent voice of Jesus which is needed!
His sheep hear His voice — and follow Him!
See, why some are quickened — it is because Jesus speaks to them! He may speak with the preacher — or without him. He speaks just as He pleases — and to whom He pleases.
See, the dignity and power of the Redeemer — He has the power of life and death. It is but for Him to speak — and those who hear shall live! He quickens whomever He will. He gives eternal life — to as many as the Father has given Him.
O the millions to whom He has effectually spoken — and every one of those millions has heard and responded! They lived a life of faith on earth, and they are now living a life of unspeakable joy in Heaven!
See, to Whom we should look. Do we want . . .
our children converted,
our churches revived,
our neighbors brought to God,
the heathen turned from darkness to light,
or our own souls quickened?
We must look to Jesus!
O Jesus, speak to my soul and revive it!
Means without Jesus, are powerless! As the lame man lay for years at the pool of Bethesda, without a cure until Jesus came — so may we. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone — who can infuse life into the means we use, and render them effectual!
See then, Who should have the praise. Have we been quickened? Are we living by faith in the Son of God? Then Jesus has spoken to us! He has done the work — and to Him belongs all the glory. Let us praise His holy name!
"The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live!"
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Everything short of Hell is mercy!
(James Smith, "Good and Evil Alike from God" 1861)
"What? shall we receive good at the hands of God — and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10
Jehovah's Prerogative: He sends GOOD — all good. He sends EVIL — not moral evil, for God cannot be the author of sin, nor in any way give His sanction to it.
But He does send afflictions, bereavements, losses, crosses, pains and sorrows. He sends good and evil sometimes in quick succession. He sent the fish to preserve the life of Jonah, and the gourd to screen him from the sun — but He sent also the worm to destroy the gourd, and teach Jonah a beneficial lesson. Who can read the life of Jacob or Joseph, of David or Daniel, and not see that the Lord sends both good and evil upon His people. Hence the prophet asks, "Shall there be evil in a city — and the Lord has not done it?"
The Believer's Duty. We should receive all as from God's hand. The reference is not so much to the receiving — for we must receive it; but the manner of receiving — as from God. We often receive good as from God — but we do not so receive evil; yet both alike should be so received.
GOOD should be received with gratitude and praise, with humility and love — with a deep sense of our unworthiness, and God's unmerited goodness. Nor should we forget, that we are held responsible for the use of all the good things we receive from God.
EVIL should be received with patience and submission, saying with Eli, "It is the Lord — let Him do what seems good unto Him." There should be a recognition of His justice, as Aaron, when his two sons were slain — he held his peace. He was dumb, he opened not his mouth, because the Lord did it. There should also be confidence in His love, because the dispensations of His hand — never prove a change in His heart. He loves us as much when He sends evil — as when He sends good; for His love is not only everlasting — but unchangeable.
We should receive good and evil alike — as from a sovereign, wise, gracious, and holy God!
The Expostulation. "What? shall we receive good at the hands of God — and shall we not receive evil?" Are we to view good alone as coming from God? Are we not to look at evil — at our trials, troubles, and tribulations — as coming from Him?
Are we to forget His favors, lose sight of His paternal relationship, quarrel with His wisdom and love — and thus act the rebel and the ingrate? Alas! this is too often the case. One trouble swallows up the remembrance of many mercies. We think more of one loss — than we do of the gains of years; and we are more affected with one hour's pain and sickness — than we are with months of ease and health. But it would not be so — if we were properly affected with a due sense of our sinfulness, ingratitude, and unworthiness. Then in the midst of our good things, we would say with Jacob, "I am not worthy of the least of all Your mercies!" And in the midst of our evil things we would say with Job, "The Lord gave — and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord"
It is folly to lose sight of God's hand in our troubles. We should rather say, "This also comes forth from the Lord Almighty, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."
Nor is it wise to complain of His dealings with us, for a sinner out of Hell — can never have any reason to complain. Everything short of Hell is mercy!
He assures us that all that He does, is in love. His word to us, when things are at the worst is, "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten." Silence befits us, though to justify God would befit us more.
We should not make too much of the instruments by which we suffer. Joseph said unto his brethren, "It was not you — but God." David said of Shimei, "Let him curse — for the Lord has bidden him." The holiest of men have always looked more at God who uses the rod — than at the rod which He used. If He appoints it — it is wise. If He permits it — it is for our good. He does nothing, He permits nothing to be done, which affects His children — but they would do themselves — if they were as wise, as judicious, and as far-seeing as He is. Nor is there a doubt — but in eternity we shall bless and praise His holy name — for the very things that grieve and distress us now. Believer, receive everything, whether painful or pleasant — as from God's hand! And bless a taking God — as well as a giving God.
Lord, pardon our folly and forgive our sins, for we have been guilty of both in our conduct toward you; and help us in future if tempted to repine, or if rebellious feelings arise in our hearts to say, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God — and shall we not receive evil also?"
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The Christian's Walk
(James Smith, "The Christian's Walk")
Let us daily walk looking unto Jesus. He is our adorable Redeemer. He is our source of supply. Looking to Him will . . .
enlighten us in darkness,
cheer us in solitude,
strengthen us in weakness,
fortify us in conflict,
embolden us in danger,
comfort us in sorrow, and
render us more than conquerors over every foe.
Let us daily walk leaning on Jesus. He will be at our side, He will lend us His arm, yes, His bosom! The posture of the Church should be ours, "Who is this coming up out of the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved?" As we get nearer to Jesus — we get further from the world! The world loses its attractions — and old sinful habits lose their power.
Let us daily walk communing with Jesus. He loves to converse with us. Let us tell Him of our foes, fears, afflictions, privations, griefs, and woes. Let us tell Him everything that tries or troubles us. He says, "Let Me hear your voice!" Yes, O Savior, You shall hear me; for I will bring all my sorrows and joys, all my trials and triumphs, all my doubts and deliverances — to You!
Let us daily walk imitating Jesus. He has left us an example, that we should follow in His footsteps. In the family, in the world, and in the church — let us endeavor to imitate Jesus. And may we receive grace to conform our conduct to His, that all who see us may take knowledge of us, that we have learned of Him who is "meek and humble in heart;" who was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners."
May our spirit, temper, course, and conduct — all conspire to bear testimony that we are walking with Jesus!
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A sound creed is exceedingly valuable!
(James Smith, "Preservation Sought" 1865)
"The doctrine which is according to godliness" 1 Timothy 6:3
Doctrines that lead us to hate sin, loathe self, prize the Savior, and cleave to the Lord — are of the greatest importance!
A sound creed is exceedingly valuable — IF it is adorned with a holy life!
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The eternity of God, and heaven, and hell
(J. C. Ryle)
"And just as each person is appointed to die once — and after that comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27
"And they will go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous will go into eternal life." Matthew 25:46
The state of things after the judgment — is changeless and without end. The misery of the lost, and the blessedness of the saved — are both alike forever. Let no person deceive us on this point. It is clearly revealed in Scripture. The eternity of God, and heaven, and hell — all stand on the same foundation. As surely as God is eternal — so surely is heaven an endless day without night, and hell an endless night without day!
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The creature has a little honey in its mouth — but it has wings!
(Thomas Watson, "A Divine Cordial" 1663)
"Do not love the world — or anything in the world." 1 John 2:15
It is better to love God, than the world.
If you set your love on worldly things — they will not satisfy. You may as well satisfy your body with air — as your soul with earth! If the globe of the world were yours — it would not fill your soul. Will you set your love on that which will never give you contentment? Is it not better to love God? He will give you that which shall satisfy your soul to all eternity!
If you love worldly things — they cannot remove trouble of mind. If there is a thorn in the conscience — all the world cannot pluck it out. King Saul, being perplexed in mind, all his crown jewels could not comfort him (1 Samuel 28:15). But if you love God, He can give you peace when nothing else can. He can apply Christ's blood to refresh your soul. He can whisper His love by the Spirit, and with one smile scatter all your fears and disquiets.
If you love the world — you love that which may keep you out of heaven. "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:23). Prosperity, to many, is like a large sail to a small boat, which quickly overturns it.
By loving the world — you love that which will endanger you. But if you love God, there is no fear of losing heaven. He will be a Rock to hide you — but not to hurt you. By loving Him, we come to enjoy Him forever.
You may love worldly things — but they cannot love you in return. You love gold and silver — but your gold cannot love you in return. You give away your love to the creature — and receive no love back. But if you love God, He will love you in return. "If any man loves me, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). God will not be behindhand in love to us. For our drop of love to Him — we shall receive an ocean of His love!
While you love the world — you love that which is infinitely below the worth of your souls. When you lay out your love upon the world, you hang a pearl upon a swine — you love that which is inferior to yourself. As Christ speaks in another sense of the birds of the air: "Are you nor much better than they?" (Matthew 6:26), so I say of worldly things: "Are you not much better than they? You love a fair house, or a beautiful garment — are you not much better than they?" But if you love God, you place your love on the most noble and sublime object — you love that which is better than yourselves. God is better than the soul, better than angels, better than heaven!
You may love the world — and receive hatred for your love. Would it not vex one, to lay out money upon a piece of ground which, instead of bringing forth grain or fruit — should yield nothing but nettles? Thus it is with all earthly things — we love them, and they prove nettles to sting us! We meet with nothing but disappointment. But if we love God, He will not return hatred for love. "I love those who love me" (Proverbs 8:17). God may chastise His children — but He cannot hate them. Every believer is part of Christ, and God can as well hate Christ, as hate a believer.
You may over-love the creature. You may love wine too much, and silver too much; but you cannot love God too much. It is our sin that we cannot love God enough. How weak is our love to God! If we could love God far more than we do — yet it can never be proportionate to His worth; so that there is no danger of excess in our love to God.
You may love worldly things — and they die and leave you. Riches take wings! Relations drop away! There is nothing here abiding. The creature has a little honey in its mouth — but it has wings! It will soon fly away. But if you love God, He is "a portion forever" (Psalm 73:26). As He is called a Sun for comfort, so a Rock for eternity.
Thus we see, that it is better to love God than the world.
"Do not love the world — or anything in the world." 1 John 2:15
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You suck in God's mercy!
"The life of every living thing is in His hand, as well as the breath of all mankind." Job 12:10
Every time you draw your breath — you suck in God's mercy!
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Everything in this world is liable to change!
"Long ago You established the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; all of them will wear out like clothing. You will change them like a garment, and they will pass away. But You are the same, and Your years will never end!" Psalm 102:25-27
Everything in this world is liable to change!
Health may give place to sickness,
pleasure may give place to pain,
plenty may give place to poverty,
love may give place to enmity,
honor may give place to disgrace,
strength may give place to weakness,
and life may give place to death.
Remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. But though all our circumstances and friends should change — there is One who never changes! "He is unchangeable; who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases!" Job 23:13. With Him is no variableness. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever — and He is our best Friend, our nearest relation, our gracious Savior!
Yesterday — His name was Jesus; His nature was love; His purpose was to do us good with His whole heart and soul. Today — He is the same; we cannot expect too much from Him, or be too confident in Him, if we are walking humbly with Him. He will be our God — and we shall be His people!
Let us cultivate . . .
intimacy with Him,
dependence upon Him,
concern to please Him,
fear to offend Him,
zeal to glorify Him;
and it must be well with us in health and sickness, in plenty and poverty, in life and death! For He is the same, and will never turn away from doing us good — but remain the Fountain of love and holiness forever! "Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!" Psalm 103:1
This God is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend;
Whose love is as great as His power,
And neither knows measure nor end!
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A lamp for my feet
"Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path." Psalm 119:105
God's Word is represented as a lamp for the feet.
It is a "lamp" — not a blazing sun, nor even a lighthouse — but a plain, common lamp or lantern which one can carry about in the hand.
It is a lamp "for the feet," not throwing its beams afar, not illumining a hemisphere — but shining only on the one little bit of road on which the pilgrim's feet are walking.
The law of divine guidance is, "Step by step". One who carries a lantern on a country-road at night, sees only one step before him. If he takes that step, he carries his lantern forward, and thus makes another step plain. At length he reaches his destination in safety, without once stepping into darkness. The whole way has been made light for him, though only a single step of it at a time. This illustrates the usual method of God's guidance.
If this is the way God guides, it ought never to be hard for us to find our duty. It never lies far away, inaccessible to us — but is always near. It never lies out of our sight, in the darkness, for God never puts our duty where we cannot see it. The thing that we think may be our duty — but which is still lying in obscurity and uncertainty, is not our duty yet, whatever it may be a little farther on. The duty for the very moment is always clear — and that is as far as we need concern ourselves; for when we do the little that is clear, we will carry the light on, and it will shine on the next moment's step.
Jesus said, "He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness." Prompt, unquestioning, undoubting following of Christ — takes all the perplexity out of Christian life and gives unbroken peace. There never is a moment without its duty; and if we are living near to Christ and following Him closely, we shall never be left in ignorance of what He wants us to do.
Our daily prayer should be, "Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me." Psalm 119:133