Grace Gems for JUNE 2012
All things work together for good!
(James Smith, "Food for the Soul" 1867)
"All things work together for good!" Romans 8:28
What! Shall all my severe trials, troubles and afflictions work together for my good? Yes — but they are not good alone — but only in connection with other things.
Outward — and inward,
painful — and pleasant,
joyous — and grievous,
gains — and losses,
victories — and defeats,
all work together! And God superintends the working, so as to secure our good and prevent our injury! God aims at our real and lasting good in all that He does — and in all that He permits. He does nothing, nor allows anything to be done which affects us — but what we shall bless and praise Him for, when we see the entire whole in the light of glory!
"He has done all things well!" Mark 7:37
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London)
No man is the less loved by God, because he is tempted. Those whom God loves best — are usually tempted most. Witness David, Job, Joshua, Peter, Paul, yes, Christ Himself — who, as He was beloved above all others, so he was tempted above all others!
God had but one Son without corruption — but He had none without temptation!
Those who were once glorious on earth, and are now triumphing in heaven — have been severely tempted and assaulted by Satan. It is as natural and common for the choicest saints to be tempted — as it is for the sun to shine, the bird to fly, the fire to burn. The eagle complains not of her wings, nor the peacock of her train of feathers, nor the nightingale of her voice — because these are natural to them. No more should saints complain of their temptations, because they are natural to them.
"Our whole life is nothing but a temptation!"
The best men have been the worst tempted!
Temptations which are resisted and bewailed, will never hurt you, nor harm you.
Distasteful temptations seldom or never prevail. So long as the soul distastes them and the will remains firmly averse against them — they can do no hurt. So long as the language of the soul is, 'Get behind me, Satan!' the soul is safe.
It is not Satan tempting — but my assenting; it is not his enticing — but my yielding; which undoes me!
Temptations may be troubles to my mind — but they are not sins upon my soul — while I am in arms against them. If your heart trembles and your flesh quakes when Satan tempts — your condition is safe enough. If Satan's temptations are your greatest afflictions — his temptations shall never conquer you nor harm you!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
While we mourn over our many maladies
(Henry Law, "Family Prayers")
"This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4
While we mourn over our many maladies — we see that increase of faith would be the grand remedy! Our hearts are often . . .
the cage of every unclean bird,
the fount of every loathsome desire,
the deadly fruit of every poisonous tree,
the open wayside of every earthly lust and passion.
This is because our faith sleeps. Awaken it, good Lord — give it more strength, until all impurity is cast out!
We now go forth to intermingle with the world. This foe is artful to entrap us. It will approach in an enchanting guise. It will extend many a gilded bait, and will present many a poisoned cup. Lord, increase our faith — and we shall scorn every painted bauble, and trample down every bewitching snare! We shall then be more than conquerors, for this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith!
May our hearts be entirely weaned from the world, dead to its outward enticements, and wholly consecrated unto You. Help us by Your grace — that we may live with You, and to You, during the little speck of our earthly sojourn.
Oh! hear the cry of our anxious hearts, and increase our faith, through the merits and for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The grass will be growing over our graves!
(J. C. Ryle)
"It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that to face judgment!" Hebrews 9:27
All things are growing older — the world is growing old; we ourselves are growing older. A few more summers, a few more winters, a few more sicknesses, a few more sorrows, a few more weddings, a few more funerals, a few more meetings and a few more partings — and then — what? Why, the grass will be growing over our graves!
"Prepare to meet your God!" Amos 4:12
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This life is a valley of tears!
("Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799)
"In the world you have trouble and suffering." John 16:33
This life is a valley of tears!
Have I mistaken this thorny wilderness — for a garden of flowers?
Have I mistaken this place of danger — for a palace of delight?
Have I mistaken this waste howling desert — for an enchanting grove?
If the world has joys, it has none for me — they are carnal or unlawful. My joys must be pure and spiritual. If the creature affords pleasures, they cannot suit my soul —
its honey is mixed with gall,
its sweet with wormwood,
its wine with water,
its gold with dross,
and all are mixed with poison!
The pleasures I should seek are such as my soul may . . .
feed on without danger,
feast on without excess,
and rejoice in without sin.
Again, why do I expect comfort in this world? Can I hope, or even desire, to go through the valley of tears — with singing? Can I hope to dwell in the house of mourning — with joy?
This sinful world is too barren a soil to bear true joy.
This is the night of weeping; and though weeping endures through the night of time, yet joy comes in the morning of eternity!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
What a beautiful picture of my poor, weak, hungry soul
(Theodore Cuyler, "God's Light on Dark Clouds")
"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me!" 2 Corinthians 12:9
God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. This means that the Divine power is most conspicuous — when our weakness is the most thoroughly felt. We have got first to be emptied of all self-conceit and self-confidence. A bucket cannot hold air and water at the same time. As the water comes in — the air must go out. The reason of some hard trials — is to get the accursed spirit of SELF out of our hearts! When we have been emptied of self-trust — we are in the condition to be filled with might in the inner man, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
A Christian must not only realize his own utter feebleness — but he must give up what worldlings rely on, and admit that "vain is the help of man." That poor woman who had tried all the doctors in her neighborhood, and had only grown worse in body, and poorer in purse — is a touching illustration of our invalid souls. She, having despaired of human help — came crouching to the feet of the Son of God. One touch of His garments sent a new tide of health through her veins. Just so, contact with Christ brings currents of the Divine power into our souls — so that we can do all things through Christ who strengths us!
This is the real office of faith. It is simply the linking of our utter weakness — to the omnipotence of Christ! We furnish the weakness — and He furnishes the strength — and that makes the partnership! The baby furnishes a hungry little mouth — and the mother furnishes the nourishing milk. The mother is happy that she can give the full supply — and the rosy darling is happy as it draws in the sweet contentment. What a beautiful picture of my poor, weak, hungry soul — resting on the bosom of the Infinite Love! There is no danger that the supply will ever give out, for my Lord, my Feeder, my Supporter — is constantly saying unto me, "My grace is sufficient for you." In this way we are strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A kind of omnipotence in it!
(Thomas Brooks, "Heaven on Earth" 1667)
Faith is an appropriating grace.
Faith looks upon God, and says with David,
"This God is my God forever and ever!
He shall be my guide unto the death!"
Faith looks upon Christ, and says with the spouse,
"I am my Beloved's — and my Beloved is mine!"
Faith looks upon an immortal crown, and says
"Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of glory."
Faith looks upon the righteousness of Christ,
and says, "This righteousness is mine to cover me."
Faith looks upon the mercy of Christ, and
says, "This mercy is mine to pardon me."
Faith looks upon the power of Christ, and
says, "This power is mine to support me."
Faith looks upon the wisdom of Christ, and
says, "This wisdom is mine to direct me."
Faith looks upon the blood of Christ, and
says, "This blood is mine to save me."
Faith has a kind of omnipotence in it;
it is able to do all things.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A mother's influence
(Timothy Shay Arthur, "The Mother")
Upon the character of the mother depends, almost entirely, the future character of the child. No matter how wise and good the father may be, his influence will do but little — if opposed by that of an injudicious mother.
The father is with the children only for a short time each day, and cannot know their characters thoroughly, nor the means that best react upon and correct their evils. Upon the mother devolves, therefore, of necessity, the high and important duty of molding the characters of her children — of impressing them for good or evil — of giving them true strength for their trials in after life.
The whole life of the child is affected by the mother's character, and the influences which she has brought to bear upon him.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The lesson is a long one
(J. R. Miller, "The Lesson of Love" 1903)
"God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them." 1 John 4:16
To learn how to love — is to learn how to live. The lesson is a long one — but it is the great business of life to master it. The Master not only taught the lesson in words — but also set it down for us in a life — His own life. To follow Christ is to practice this great lesson, learning more of it day by day — until school is out and we go home!
Christian love has to be learned. There is natural affection which does not need to be learned — the love of parents for children, of children for parents, of friend for friend. But it is not natural to love our enemies, to love unlovable people, to be unselfish, to return kindness for unkindness. We have to learn this love — and it is the great business of life to do it.
"Dear friends, since God so loved us — we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:11
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
His chastising hand
(John MacDuff, "The Christian's Pathway" 1858)
"I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that You have afflicted me in faithfulness." Psalm 119:75
Christian, cherish high thoughts of God in all of His dealings towards you. Should your trials be great — still hold fast your confidence, and yield not to a complaining or desponding spirit. Remember that it is for the profit of His people, that God afflicts them. However hard to be borne at the time, they have been brought to see at length, that they had cause to reckon their severest sorrows — as the chief of their mercies! By afflictions:
they were weaned from the world;
their affections were more ardently fixed upon heavenly things;
their souls were purified, even as gold in the fire;
the preciousness of Christ was realized as it had never been before;
they were led to live, not merely nearer to Him — but more entirely upon Him, and also much more for Him!
May our afflictions produce such happy results! We shall then have abundant reason to bless God for His chastising hand.
"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness." Hebrews 12:10
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He may lose all that the world calls great and good
(Thomas Reade, "On True Religion")
It is to be deeply deplored, that the world has made such sad inroads into the territories of the visible church.
The love of ease,
the love of splendor,
the love of worldly distinction,
the love of family comforts —
have greatly destroyed that spirit of self-denial which should practically operate in every believer in Jesus. Every Christian should be ready to leave all, and sacrifice all — for Christ.
Many will venture their all in some profitable financial speculation, which promises a large increase of worldly prosperity. But happy indeed, is that man who can venture all for Christ in faith and love. He may lose all that the world calls great and good; but he shall receive, through the merits of the Redeemer — an unfading crown of glory!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
All things, all creatures, and all events!
(Mary Winslow, Walking with Jesus")
It is a consolation to know that Jesus reigns, and that all things, all
creatures, and all events are in His hands, and beneath His control.
Oh, what a privilege for such worms of the earth to have fellowship
with the great and mighty God of the universe, and such nearness
of access to the very heart of a precious Jesus!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If our faith stops at the cross
(J. R. Miller, "Life's Byways and Waysides")
The women had brought spices, expecting to find Jesus' body wrapped in burial garments, lying in the tomb. "He is not here — He has risen!" said the angel. Matthew 28:6
Too many Christians look yet for their Christ, among the dead. They do not get beyond the cross and the grave. They see Christ, as only the Lamb of God who takes away their sin. They think of Him as accomplishing in His sufferings and death, the whole of His work of human redemption. They do not think of a living Christ who intercedes for them in Heaven, and who walks with them on earth in loving companionship.
The cross must never be forgotten! In a certain very real sense — Christ saved His people by giving Himself for them. The cross was the fullest, most complete revealing of divine love, which earth has ever seen! There the heart of God broke — that its streams of life might flow out to give life to the perishing world. To leave a dying Christ out of our creed — is to leave out salvation. The prints of the nails are the proof-marks on all doctrine, on all theology, on all Christian life. He who dims the luster of the cross of Christ — is putting out the light of Christian hope, by which alone souls can be lighted homeward. We must never forget that Jesus died — died for us!
But if our faith stops at the cross — it misses the blessing of the fullest revealing of Christ. We do not merely need a Savior who nineteen hundred years ago went to death to redeem us — but one who also is alive — to walk by our side in loving companionship.
We need a Savior who can now hear our prayers.
We need a Savior to whose feet we can now creep in penitence, when we have sinned.
We need a Savior to whom we can now call for help, when the battle is going against us.
We need a Savior who is now interested in all of the affairs of our common life, and who can assist us in time of need.
We need a Savior who can now be our real Friend — loving us, keeping close beside us always.
We not only need a Savior who saved us by one great act wrought centuries ago — but one who continually saves us by His warm heart throbbing with love today, walking ever by our side.
Nothing less than a living Christ will do for us! That is what the gospel brings to us. It tells us of Him who lives. He was dead — the nail-prints are in His hands — but He is now alive forevermore! He is risen! He loves us now, today, always. He is ever with us!
It is only as we realize the truth of a living Christ — that our hearts are satisfied. We crave a personal friendship which will come into our life with its sympathies, its inspirations, its companionship, its shelter, its life, its comfort. All this, the living Christ is to us.
"Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them!" Hebrews 7:25
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Two inseparable companions
(Thomas Sherman, "Divine Breathings; Or, a Pious Soul Thirsting after Christ")
"Blessed are those who mourn — for they will be comforted!" Matthew 5:4
Sin and sorrow are two inseparable companions; you can not indulge the one — and be without the other. If your moments are now spent in carnal mirth — then your eternity will be spent in ceaseless mourning. If you will not weep for sin now, while you may have mercy to pardon you — you will lament hereafter, and have no eye to pity you! A bottle of tears may now quench the fire of sin — but a sea of tears will never quench the flames of Hell!
Therefore while the wicked continue laughing — I will continue to mourn. Through the Valley of Bochim (weeping) — I shall pass to the Heavenly Zion. But the paths of carnal mirth — will bring me into a Hell of weeping; for he who swims in sin — shall sink in sorrow! His laughter shall be turned into heaviness; but my tears shall be wiped away! I will therefore ever weep — that I may not weep forever!
"God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!" Revelation 21:4
"They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Matthew 13:42
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
There goes an idolater!
(Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660)
"Covetousness which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5
Covetousness is the root of idolatry. The covetous
person bows down to the image of gold. His money
is his god — for he puts his trust in it.
Money is his creator. When he has abundance
of wealth, then he thinks he is 'made'.
Money is his redeemer. If he is in any trouble,
he flies to his money, and that must redeem him.
Money is his comforter. When he is sad, he counts
over his money — and with this golden harp he drives
away the evil spirit.
When you see a covetous man, you may say,
"There goes an idolater!"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My old man!
(Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan)
"that you put off, concerning your former conduct,
the old man which is corrupt according to its deceitful
lusts" Ephesians 4:22
I plainly see that neither my old man nor my new man
can be mended. The one is too bad — the other too good.
There is no patching or painting the old man to advantage;
it will still be "corrupt, according to its deceitful lusts."
The new man needs neither patching nor painting, for it is
"created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephes. 4:24)
What is "born of the flesh is flesh" — and will act after its nature.
What is "born of the Spirit is spirit" — and will aspire to its source!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Filling it with love and prayer and purity
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies!" Proverbs 31:10
The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity — is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies!
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised!" Proverbs 31:30
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This is the true grace of God
(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)
"This is the true grace of God, wherein you stand." 1 Peter 5:12
The grace of God is a subject which, of all others, demands our most serious attention.
God's grace is nothing less, than the free, sovereign, and eternal favor of God toward poor sinners in Christ! 2 Timothy 1:9
God's grace is manifested in the wonderful love, kindness, and condescension of our Lord and Savior: "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor — that you through His poverty might be rich." 2 Corinthians 8:9.
God's grace shines in all the doctrines of the everlasting gospel — they contain the revelation of grace — in the full, complete, and glorious salvation of the people of God.
The Father's grace appears in the CHOICE of a people to show forth His praise.
The Son's grace is revealed in the REDEMPTION of that chosen people from sin, the world, Satan, death, and Hell.
The Spirit's grace is manifest in the NEW BIRTH, sanctification, and teaching of that chosen and redeemed people.
Thus . . .
the Father chooses a people by His grace,
the Son ransoms these chosen people by His grace, and
the Spirit makes these chosen people fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, by His grace.
The Father marks the objects,
the Son delivers from wrath,
the Spirit leads to glory —
and all in richest grace!
In a Word, grace is divine favor, which . . .
arises in God as its fountain;
centers in Christ as its depository;
appears in the doctrines of the gospel as in a mirror;
flows to sinners as its objects; and
peoples Heaven with sanctified believers as its design!
Grace is . . .
the glory of Jehovah;
the charm of the gospel;
the delight of Jesus; and
the fountain of consolation to the church.
Grace is . . .
eternal in its existence;
holy in its nature;
free in its acts;
sanctifying in its tendency;
and glorious in its design!
But if we attend to what the Bible says of grace, we shall discover that the true grace of God is different from what man conceives. Instead of its being an enemy to holiness — grace is . . .
the root on which holiness grows,
the fountain from which holiness springs, and
the principle which produces holiness in the heart.
True grace brings home the Word with power, conviction, and demonstration to the soul! Acts 14:3
True grace works faith in the hearts of poor sinners, who are said "to believe through grace!" Acts 18:27
True grace calls its objects out of a state of nature, sin, and rebellion against God — and teaches them to pray, and mourn before the Lord! Galatians 1:15; Zechariah 12:10
True grace makes obedient to the faith, and leads the soul to receive "grace upon grace" out of the fullness of Jesus! Romans 1:5; John 1:16
True grace destroys the love and dominion of sin; and leads us from the law — to the gospel! Romans 6:14
True grace brings home a sense of pardon to the soul; and imparts everlasting consolation! Ephesians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:16
True grace removes condemnation; and justifies us freely, fully, and eternally! Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7
True grace strengthens, supports, and carries the Christian through all his conflicts, tribulations, and trials! 2 Corinthians 12:9
True grace builds up and establishes its possessor in truth, in faith, and in love! Acts 20:32; Hebrews 13:9
True grace leads to holy, Scriptural, and consistent practice! Titus 2:11-15
True grace will make a man labor for God and the good of immortal souls! 1 Corinthians 15:10
True grace will regulate his lifestyle according to gospel precepts! 2 Corinthians 1:12
True grace . . .
flows in abundance,
saves all its objects, and
raises them to reign in glory! Romans 5:17; Ephesians 2:6-8
True grace is always a gift of God, and is invariably free! Romans 11:6; Ephesians 4:7
The man that possesses the true grace of God, and is living under its sacred influence . . .
mourns over his state as a sinner,
longs for perfection as a believer, and
cannot be perfectly happy until purged from all pollution.
He . . .
loves God as His Father,
cleaves to Jesus as His Friend,
views himself as a temple of the Holy Spirit,
hates, fears, and flies from sin,
loves, pants for, and follows after holiness,
worships a sovereign Jehovah,
obeys a reigning Redeemer, and
ascribes all his salvation to free grace!
He . . .
depends on the Lord in his troubles,
flies to Jesus from his foes, and
pleads the free promises of his God.
Christ is his object,
salvation his subject, and
to glorify God is his aim!
He feels, mourns over, and prays for grace to keep down his corruptions.
He renounces self, abhors His own righteousness, and glories in the cross of Christ.
He comes out of the world, is transformed in his mind, and finds suitable associates in sanctified believers.
He lives in communion with his God, feeds on the bread of life, and dies daily.
Reader, have you been made a partaker of the true grace of God?
Opinions in the head, and grace in the heart — are very different things! Notions of grace — are not operations of grace. You may know the true grace of God by this — it brings salvation, and teaches to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Very distinct from this poor, fallen, degraded world!
(James Smith, "Higher Ground")
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ — set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above — not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2
The believer, as one with Christ, as redeemed from among men, as a child of God — ought to be very distinct from this poor, fallen, degraded world!
But alas, we are too often mixed up with the world — and are too much like the world! We forget the dignity of our high calling, and our glorious destiny — as the heirs of eternal life.
Rise therefore, like the liberated eagle.
Leave the world with all its follies and fascinations!
Set your heart on Heaven and heavenly things!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Our world would have been one continuous Hell!
(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")
But for the love of Christ, our world would have been one continuous Hell — and every one of its inhabitants would have been suffering Jehovah's tremendous curse!
Despair would have erected its dreadful throne upon it;
darkness would have spread its horrifying wings over it; and
the never-dying worm would have preyed upon every one of its miserable inhabitants!
O let us then admire the love of Jesus! From this blessed fountain, flows all our present comforts and all our future prospects!
To the love of Jesus, every Heaven-bound pilgrim has been indebted . . .
for every gleam of hope,
for every ray of comfort,
for every delightful foretaste of the glory which is to be revealed!
To the love of Jesus, we shall be everlastingly indebted for all that we have — and for all that we are!
Thanks, eternal thanks to Jesus — for His unspeakable love!
"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:19
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
One sin, trifled with — tampered with!
(John MacDuff, "Communion Memories" 1886)
"Jesus was in great anguish of spirit, and He exclaimed — The truth is, one of you will betray Me!" John 13:21
It was not the nail and spear which now entered His soul. It was the thought of injured goodness and unrequited love on the part of a faithless disciple. It was Sinless Purity Incarnate, wounded in the house of His friends. He wept over a whole city; now His mighty soul is bowed in sorrow by the base conduct of one apostle, and the keen anguish seems too deep for tears!
His name, Judas, means "praise of God." We have every reason to believe that he was once as earnest and faithful as his brother apostles — as unselfish in his motives as they, in joining Christ and the disciple-band. But covetousness — the base and degrading love of money — assailed him. In an evil hour he dangled its forbidden gold and silver chains — and they became fetters to bind him!
The master-passion by degrees . . .
took full possession of his soul;
dominated his will and affections;
crushed every lofty aspiration; and
left him, at last, a blighted, blackened ruin — demon-haunted and defiled! The most dreadful sin that ever stained the catalogue of creature guilt — came to brand with infamy, his name and memory.
Oh! let that unhappy traitor tell us, what one sin, trifled with — tampered with, can do!
"People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction." 1 Timothy 6:9
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Like a wild bull in a net!
(Archibald Alexander, "Thoughts on Religious Experience" 1844)
"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering." Isaiah 48:10
One of the reasons why God uses afflictions, is to prevent Christians from backsliding. In times of prosperity . . .
pride is apt to rise and swell;
carnal security blinds their eyes;
the love of riches increases;
spiritual affections are feeble;
eternal things are viewed as far off, and concealed by a thick mist.
These circumstances are, indeed, the common precursors of backsliding.
But to prevent this evil, and to stir up the benumbed feelings of piety — the believer is put into the furnace! At first he finds it hard to submit, and is like a wild bull in a net. His pride and his love of carnal ease, resist the hand that smites him; but severe pain awakes him from his spiritual sleep. He then finds himself in the hands of his heavenly Father — and sees that nothing can be gained by murmuring or rebelling. His sins rise up to view, and he is convinced of the justice of the divine dispensations. His hard heart begins to yield, and he is stirred up to cry mightily to God for helping grace. Although he wishes and prays for deliverance from the pressure of affliction — yet he is more solicitous that the affliction should be rendered effectual . . .
to subdue his pride,
to wean him from the love of the world, and
to give perfect exercise to patience and resignation
— than that it should be removed. He knows that the furnace is the place for purification. He hopes and prays that his dross may be consumed, and that he may come forth as gold which has passed seven times through the refiner's fire!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The best preacher of the gospel
(Theodore Cuyler, "Wayside Springs from the Fountain of Life" 1883)
Let us go down to the core. The only basis of good character, is a renewed heart — a heart in which Jesus Christ lives, a heart which is in the habit of obeying Christ's commandments. Such a man draws his motives of action from his deep, abiding love to Jesus. Up from the very roots — comes his daily devotion to those things which are pure and honest and lovely and of good report. Rooted into Christ, he is not easily shaken. He does not bend to trickery or yield to temptation. The world cannot move such a man. What does he care for its changing, frivolous fashions; his fashion is to do the will of his holy Master.
An honest, consistent, godly character, is a sermon all the week. The godly Christian — pure of heart and unspotted by the world — is the best preacher of the gospel. The revival which is most urgently needed, is a revival of practical godliness. Sunday preaching is not enough; we need more "sermons all through the week."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Three looks at Jesus!
Reader, remember these three looks at Jesus: backward, upward, forward; and make use of them every day.
The first is the secret of peace of conscience: no peace unless we look backward at the cross of Christ!
The second is the secret of real daily strength and comfort in our walk with God: little solid comfort unless we look upward to Christ's intercession!
The third is the secret of bright and cheerful hope in a dark world: no bright prospect unless we look forward to Christ coming again!
Backward, upward, forward — these are the three ways in which we should look at Jesus.
The person that looks at the cross is a wise person;
the person that looks at the cross and the intercession also, is wiser still;
but those who look at all three, the cross, the intercession, and the coming of Jesus — they are wisest of all.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Morality will keep you out of jail
Morality will keep you out of jail — but only the blood of Jesus will keep you out of Hell!
"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him!" John 3:36
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Is this your religion?
(J.C. Ryle, "Reality")
"You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit." Matthew 7:16-17
If you would know whether your religion is real, try it by the FRUIT it bears in your heart and life. The Christianity which is from above — will always be known by its fruits. It will produce in the man who has it: repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, spirituality, kind temper, self-denial, unselfishness, forgivingness, temperance, truthfulness, brotherly-kindness, patience, and forbearance. The degree in which these various graces appear, may vary in different believers. The germ and seeds of them will be found in all who are the children of God. By their fruits — they will be known.
Is this your religion? If not, you may well doubt whether it is real.
Your religion, if it is real, and given by the Holy Spirit — must be in your HEART.
It must occupy the citadel.
It must hold the reins.
It must sway the affections.
It must lead the will.
It must direct the tastes.
It must influence the choices and decisions.
It must fill the deepest, lowest, inmost seat in your soul.
Is this your religion? If not, you may well doubt whether it is real and true.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
How blessed is my condition!
(Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan)
This is just the experience I love — willing to be nothing, that Christ may be all in all.
How blessed is my condition! Though so vile a sinner in myself; yet chosen and beloved in Christ from all eternity — every blessing for time, all glory for eternity — secured to me in Him!
Himself my blissful portion!
Himself my endless treasure!
Himself my ocean of love, my God and my glory!
My Lord, these hands and feet, this heart and tongue, and my whole self — afresh I consecrate to You. Oh, to spend and be spent in service for Your glory!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A living personal Jesus
Christianity is all centered in a person.
Conversion is not a mere change of human opinion; it is the devotion of heart to a person. A converted man is not a man who just changes his views concerning certain facts, or theories, or doctrines — but he is a man whose heart has become devoted to a living Christ. All of your religion, if it is worth anything, will just be centered in a living personal Jesus.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The worldling's trash!
"We have a priceless inheritance — an inheritance that is reserved in Heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay!" 1 Peter 1:4
God will not put us off with the worldling's trash. He has higher enjoyments for His children!
No weeping in Heaven! Blessed be God for the hope He has given us beyond this scene of sin and sorrow. Let us arise, and travel on!
"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory!" Colossians 3:2-4
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The world's standard of Christianity
(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" 1879)
"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." Matthew 16:24
Let me warn everyone who wants to be saved — not to be content with the world's standard of Christianity. Surely no man with his eyes open, can fail to see that the Christianity of the New Testament is something far higher and deeper than the Christianity of most professing Christians. That formal, easy-going, do-little thing, which most people call 'religion' — is evidently not the religion of the Lord Jesus. The things which He praises — are not praised by the world. The things which He blames — are not things in which the world sees any harm. Oh, if you would follow Christ — do not be content with the world's Christianity! Tremble, tremble and repent!