Grace Gems for JULY 2012


I cannot be trusted for one moment!


The following in an excerpt from the diary of James Smith:

March, 1843.
This day my convictions of sin are deep and my discovery of my follies is painful. It is in reference to prayer and watchfulness, that I principally fail.

How much I require to humble me, empty me, and keep me in my proper place! How often do I perceive that but for the Lord's keeping I would be undone! I cannot be trusted for one moment! I see it, I feel it, I confess it before God; and yet if others were to say so of me, or to me how would my pride be hurt!

What a mercy have I found the throne of grace, yesterday and today! I know not when I visited it so often. O that I was as powerfully drawn to it by love as I am driven to it by trouble!

I feel more like a child as to wisdom, prudence, strength, and courage than I ever did, for I seem to have none! O that I felt as much like a child in reference to confidence, dependence, and love to my Heavenly Father!

O that I was thoroughly holy, truly wise, really prudent then I think I would be happy, and make others happy!

It grieves me, that I not only procure trouble to myself but that I trouble others; and if God were to withhold His grace I would do but little else! However, God has promised grace and grace will pardon what it does not prevent. But the pardon is often preceded by bitter experience, arising from conviction, self-reproach, fear, darkness, bondage, and distance from God. O for preventing grace as well as pardoning grace!

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The prayer of Agur


(John MacDuff, "Thoughts for the Quiet Hour")

There is a true and deep philosophy in the prayer of Agur "Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs." Proverbs 30:8

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The power of true religion!

(Thomas Reade)

The power of true religion is so little felt by the bulk of professing Christians.

There are four evils which mark the decaying state of Christians in general:
  their love of the world;
  their love of ease;
  their fear of man;
  their distrust of God's providence.

The New Testament believers were just the reverse of all this:
they despised the world, and its flattering allurements;
they took up the cross, and denied themselves;
they boldly confessed Christ, and suffered for His sake;
they trusted God for all things, and so took joyfully the confiscation of their property.

And what was the blessed fruit?
They abounded in consolation;
they grew in grace;
they shone as lights in the world;
they felt joy and peace in believing.

But now we see professing Christians, even many of whom we charitably hope well . . .
  languid in their graces,
  timid in their confession,
  afraid of consequences,
  and fearful of trusting God.

Sad symptoms these, of spiritual decay!

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The aged believer's cordial


(James Smith, "The Aged Believer's Cordial")

"Hearken unto Me! I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you!" Isaiah 46:3-4

This passage of Scripture is the aged believer's cordial. Let us look at the beautiful images employed.

God is our parent a kind and tender-hearted parent. He is peculiarly attached to His people they are dear to Him, precious in His sight. They are His portion. He prizes them above all creation. He is strong to sustain, to defend, and support them. His strong arm, tender heart, and watchful eye are all employed for them and especially so in old age.

The aged believer is as a child. He is weak. He feels exposed and defenseless. He is timid and fearful. But the Lord, as a tender parent, engages to take him up in the arms of His power and carry him in the bosom of His love! Like a tender lamb in the shepherd's bosom, on a cold and frosty night, borne across a bleak and snow-covered wasteland so the believer, in the winter of old age, shall be carried in the bosom of his God, across the bleak and cheerless desert of time.

God will carry him tenderly hushing the weak one's fears. He will bear him carefully so that nothing shall harm or hurt him. He will soothe him with gentle words, and encourage him with kind acts until He safely introduces him at Home!

Dear aged Christian, you have nothing to fear! Your God says, "I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age! I am your Father your Friend your solace and your confidence! Look unto Me even to old age, I will carry you. I will bear you up under all that you feel and fear. I will carry you through all that discourages or distresses you. I will deliver you from foes, fears, dangers, and death itself! Nothing shall by any means hurt you! My arm is strong enough trust in it. My bosom is your resting-place lean on it, lean hard! Do not be afraid . . .
  love dwells there,
  pity rules there,
  your name is engraved there!
Trust me, I will never leave you nor forsake you!

"Hearken!" Believer, your God bids you to "hearken." His words are true and faithful. He speaks to banish your fears. He speaks to strengthen your faith. He speaks to comfort your poor drooping heart. He speaks to clothe your care-worn brow, with the light of hope, with the cheerfulness which confidence imparts.

Hearken to Him not to unbelief!
Hearken to Him not to carnal reason!
Hearken to Him not to Satan!
Hearken to Him not to erroneous men!
Hearken, it is your Savior who speaks;
it is the Guide of your youth who addresses you;
it is your tender Parent who seeks to cheer your heart.

"As one whom his mother comforts" so does your God comfort you.
He is near you near you every moment;
He will carry you carry you every step;
He will deliver you deliver you from every danger, trouble, and foe!

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The soul's hardest lesson


(MacDuff, "Thoughts for the Quiet Hour")

"Not my will, but Your will,"
is the soul's
hardest lesson
; and, when learned, it is
its highest achievement!

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The only condition of soul health

(F.B. Meyer, "The Blessed Life")

"From the fullness of His grace, we have all received
 one blessing after another!" John 1:16

Our Lord Jesus is the perfect reservoir of everything the
soul of man requires for a blessed and holy life. To . . .
  make much of Him,
  abide in Him,
  draw from Him,
  receive each moment from the fullness of His grace
is therefore the only condition of soul health.

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An infant's breath might blow it out!


(Charles Spurgeon)

"He will not break a bruised reed, and He will not put out a smoldering wick." Matthew 12:20

What is weaker than the bruised reed or the smoldering wick?

A reed that grows in the marsh let but the wild duck land upon it, and it snaps; let but the foot of man brush against it, and it is bruised and broken; every wind that flits across the river moves it to and fro. You can conceive of nothing more frail or brittle, or whose existence is more in jeopardy, than a bruised reed.

Then look at the smoldering wick what is it? It has a spark within it, it is true but it is almost smothered; an infant's breath might blow it out; nothing has a more precarious existence than its flame.

Weak things are here described yet Jesus says of them, "I will not break a bruised reed; I will not put out a smoldering wick." Some of God's children are made strong to do mighty works for Him; God has His Samsons here and there who can pull up Gaza's gates, and carry them to the top of the hill; He has a few mighties who are lion-like men. But the majority of His people are a timid, trembling race. They are like starlings, frightened at every passer-by. They are a little fearful flock. If temptation comes they are captured like birds in a snare. If trial threatens they are ready to faint. Their frail skiff is tossed up and down by every wave; they drift along like a sea bird on the crest of the billows weak things, without strength, without wisdom, without foresight.

Yet, as weak as they are and because they are so weak they have this promise made specially to them! Herein is grace and graciousness! Herein is love and loving-kindness! How it reveals the compassion of Jesus to us so gentle, tender, considerate! We need never shrink back from His touch. We need never fear a harsh word from Him though He might well chide us for our weakness. Bruised reeds shall have no blows from Him, and the smoldering wick no damping frowns!

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Steep, craggy, and beset with foes!

(Newman Hall, "Follow Jesus")
 

There are many variations in the Christian's path. Sometimes it is smooth and flowery, with sunny slopes, and sylvan shades, and prospects which entrance the soul with loveliness. There are seasons when no doubts perplex the spirit, and when our circumstances in life are in harmony with duty, so that the right path is an easy path.

But this is the exception.

Often the road is steep, craggy, and beset with foes! Sometimes it is a "Hill Difficulty" throughout, and Apollyon stretches himself across the way aiming his fiery darts at the pilgrim. Then some bypath attracts us by its pleasantness, while Satan whispers that a thorny and painful road, cannot be the true one.

But Jesus never promised to lead us only in smooth places. It is not necessary that we should always rejoice but it is necessary that we always follow. Wherever He goes, rough or smooth there we also must go.
 

"My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:27-28

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The secret of a beautiful life!


(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

The secret of a beautiful life is living in unbroken fellowship with Christ, under the influence of His presence, and the inspiration of His love and grace.

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The law of Christian life

(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

Love never gets its debts paid off. "Do not owe anyone anything, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." Romans 13:8

Paul implies that we never can pay off all love's debts, or even if we do get them paid off at the close of some happy day we shall find them waiting at our door in the morning, as clamorous as ever. Of course, LOVE is the law of Christian life. We cannot be Christlike unless we love. But oh! is not love tremendously costly sometimes?

There is no other life, like that of love. Nothing brings us so much happiness as living for others, giving out our lives in sweet helpfulness, whatever the cost may be. The sweetest happiness which we can get in the world, comes from adding a little to the happiness of others.

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another." John 13:35

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My whole creed and duty


(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

"No longer do I call you servants; but I have called you friends!" John 15:15

For myself, after all my years of teaching and helping others, and all my experiences as a Christian, my whole creed is summed up into one little sentence, "Christ and I are friends!" No friend in all the world is so near to me as He is. I trust Him, I love Him, I take everything to Him, I lay every burden upon Him. I go to Him for wisdom, for help, for the love I need in my own heart. He is everything to me as Friend.

Christ is my personal Friend. He is my dearest, truest, strongest and best Friend!

Then for myself, my whole duty is summed up in being a friend of Christ's. He says, "You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you." This includes all Scripture commands.

In telling you this, I want to help you to understand that the essential thing in the Christian life is knowing Christ, trusting Him, loving Him, following Him, having Christ for your Friend and being His friend.

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

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Fly into the bosom of Christ for refuge and safety!


(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

"Whoever humbles himself like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:4

It is very sweet just to nestle down in the bosom of Christ to be as a little child with Him. Those who come otherwise do not get near to Him but the child-like always find a close place in His heart. So the more like children we can be in our trust and in the simplicity of our faith, in humbleness of disposition, in willingness to do His will and to learn of Him the nearer to Him shall we get, and the more shall we enjoy of His love.

Some years ago, as I was passing along one of our streets one afternoon, I heard a fluttering of birds over my head and, looking up, saw a little bird flying wildly about in circles, chased by a hawk! The bird flew down lower and lower, and then darted into my bosom, under my coat. I cannot quite express to you, the feeling which filled my heart at that moment that a little bird, chased by an enemy, had come to me for refuge, trusting me in time of danger. I laid my hand over the bird, which nestled as quietly and confidently under my coat, as a baby would in a mother's bosom. I carried the little thing along for several blocks until I thought the way was clear of danger, and then let it out. It flew away into the air again, but showed no fear of me. Ever since that experience, I have understood better what it is to fly into the bosom of Christ for refuge and safety in time of danger, or in time of distress.

All this helps me to understand better what it means to Jesus when we, hunted and chased by enemies, or suffering from weakness or pain fly to Him and hide ourselves in His love.

That is all we need to do just to creep into the bosom of Christ, and lie down there, with no fear, no anxiety, but with simple trust.

The lines of Wesley's old hymn have meant more ever since:

"Jesus, lover of my soul,
 Let me to Thy bosom fly,
 While the nearer waters roll,
 While the tempest still is high.

 Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
 Till the storm of life is past;
 Safe into the haven guide;
 Oh, receive my soul at last.

 Other refuge have I none,
 Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
 Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
 Still support and comfort me.

 All my trust on Thee is stayed,
 All my help from Thee I bring;
 Cover my defenseless head
 With the shadow of Thy wing."
 

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God does not promise to lift the burden away


(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

An old Scripture promise reads, "Cast your burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain you." Psalm 55:22. Every burden you have, you may cast on the Lord; that is, you may lay it on Him in prayer and by faith. But notice that God does not promise to lift the burden away all He promises is to sustain you, that is, to give you strength to do the work, to bear the burden, to meet the difficulty, to master the hindrance or the obstacle.

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No keep it!

(
J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul tells of a wonderful experience which he had. He had some great suffering which he called "a thorn in the flesh." He does not say what it was but evidently it was some physical pain, some think epilepsy, some think a trouble with the eyes, some think a nervous affliction. No matter what it was it was very painful and seemed to interfere with the apostle's usefulness.

Three times, therefore, he besought the Lord that this thorn in the flesh might be taken away. But the answer was, "No keep it! My grace is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Then Paul learned this wonderful secret that the physical suffering which was so hard to bear if accepted by him, brought him a corresponding measure of the strength of Christ!

As you read on, you find the apostle saying that he now rejoiced in his infirmity, because the power of Christ thus rested upon him. That is, the suffering, as keen and as terrible as it was brought Christ nearer to him, brought more of Christ's strength into his life, and thus fitted him for larger spiritual usefulness!

You can apply this to yourself. You have asked God to remove your thorn in the flesh and He has not done it. But let me assure you that the words which the Lord spoke to Paul He speaks to you also. His grace is sufficient for you. His strength is made perfect in your weakness. That is, you will get more of Christ's help in your life, because of the suffering which you are enduring, than if the suffering were to be taken away you then receiving less of Christ's help, because needing less.

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The hand of God is in every trial, trouble, and disappointment


(James Smith
)

Your trials, though many, painful, and tedious are but proofs of your heavenly Father's love! They are sent in mercy to convince you that this poor world is not your rest.
Your Father's wisdom chose them,
His love sent them, and
His mercy will sanctify them to you!

Tried believer are you looking to Jesus? He can hush the storm, and still the tempest. He is always near in trouble. Is your eye fixed upon Him? Does your heart repose on His tender love and faithful Word?

Do you recognize your heavenly Father's hand in your trials? His hand is in them, whether you see it or not. He sends, bounds, and removes them as He wisely desires. And it has often comforted the saint to realize that
the hand of God is in every trial, trouble, and disappointment.

Do you sweetly acquiesce in God's will, in faith that whatever He permits in our life, is right and best for you?


"He is the LORD; let Him do what is good in His eyes!" 1 Samuel 3:18

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Jesus does not require anything more


(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

Jesus does not require anything more, than a child-like trust in Him as Savior, Master and Friend and the devotion of the life to Him.

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He never takes His eyes off them!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

"I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep, and My sheep know Me. I lay down My life for My sheep!" John 10:14-15

Jesus is the loving Shepherd of His chosen flock. He knows His sheep and loves them too. He knows . . .
  their names,
  their persons,
  their abodes,
  their needs,
  their enemies,
  and their desires.
Their names are engraved on His heart, and on the palms of His hands. He came into the world that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. He gave His life as a ransom price for them. He says, "I lay down My life for My sheep."

He gathers them by His Gospel and Spirit and feeds and enfolds them in little flocks below. He gathers the lambs with His arm and carries them in His bosom, and gently leads those that are with young. He feeds them in green pastures, and causes them to lie down beside the still waters. He protects them from the roaring lion, the raging bear, and the devouring wolf! He says, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!"

Jesus . . .
restores them when they wander;
heals them when they are sick;
cleanses them when they are filthy;
changes their pasture whenever they need it;
watches over them every moment; and
guards them day and night, so that no one may harm them.

He leads them and they follow Him . . .
  knowing His voice,
  loving His person, and
  obeying His commands.

He is now engaged in preparing pasture for them above where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary shall forever rest! He will come again and receive them unto Himself, that where He is His sheep may be also.

He loves them too well to forget them, and is too concerned for them to neglect them. He never takes His eyes off them! This tender Shepherd listens to the bleating of the feeblest of His lambs and sympathizes with the weakest of His flock. He has promised to feed them, and lead them to fountains of living waters and to cause sorrow and sighing to flee away forever. His presence shall be with them, when they pass through the dark valley of the Shadow of Death, and His rod and His crook shall comfort them.

His strength shall be made perfect in the weakness of His lambs,
His wisdom shall shine in the way He conducts them, and
His love will be displayed in every part of His conduct towards them!

Lambs of Jesus! Listen to your Shepherd's voice, keep close to your Shepherd's side, and aim to honor your dear Shepherd's name!

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The child of Satan!


(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God!" Romans 8:14

If we are sons of God we shall be led by the Spirit of God. And if we are led by the Spirit of God we shall be led in the paths of righteousness and holiness!

The sons of God do not, cannot love sin, live in sin, or make light of sin! He who loves and lives in sin is the child of Satan! "You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires!" John 8:44

The child will resemble its parent, and all God's children resemble Him in His hatred to sin, and love to holiness. Let us not, therefore, imagine that we are the Lord's if we live as the world lives . . .
  in the lusts of the flesh,
  in the lust of the eye,
  and in the pride of life!

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One truth, brought home to the soul by the Holy Spirit


(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

We do believe the truths of God's Word but we need to make them bear more upon our experience and practice. Our religion is too much in the head and too little in the heart. Truth rather floats in the understanding than sinks down into the soul. Our memory lets it slip and nothing but frequent meditation on these things, will cause us to profit by them. The truths of God's Word are calculated and intended to benefit the Lord's people but unless we exercise our minds upon them we shall not be benefitted by them.

One truth, brought home to the soul by the Holy Spirit, and digested by meditation does us more good than volumes which just pass through the mind! We ought, therefore, to pray more over what we read and look to the Holy Spirit, beseeching Him to unfold and apply the truth to us!

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Oh, the comfort

(Mary Winslow)

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need!" Hebrews 4:16

Oh, the comfort
, the inexpressible comfort of the throne of grace! It is the only verdant, refreshing spot, in this earth's wide wilderness.

To have the sensible presence of God, the heart of a loving Father to confide in, who is able to do all and more than we require; to have Him always near, His hand ever stretched out to us oh, the comfort!

This is my sweetest spot and chief comfort in this polluted world, where I carry all my cares and troubles, and am ever sure to receive a welcome in the face of a reconciled Father.

Oh, the loving heart of Christ! Although He knows our ten thousand infirmities, He does not turn a deaf ear to our poor supplications but with His own blood, blots out all their imperfections!

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Our conception of Christlikeness


(J.R. Miller, "Things That Endure")

"That the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body." 2 Corinthians 4:10

Many 'lives of Christ' have been written but in every Christian life, there should be a new one published. It is these lives which are needed: written not in handsomely bound volumes, with fine paper and gilt edges, and with attractive illustrations but in men's daily lives.

It is important that we should understand how we are to manifest the life of Jesus in our own life. It is not enough to talk about Him. There are those who with silver tongue can speak of Jesus eloquently and winsomely of whom it cannot be said, even in widest charity, that Jesus' life is relived in them.

We need more gospels in the lives of Christians others need to see something of Christ in our own life.

What was this life of Jesus, which is to be repeated in every Christian life? Its great central characteristic was love love full of compassion love serving even to the lowliest degree and at greatest cost love which was patient, forgiving, thoughtful, gentle love unto the uttermost, which went to a cross to save sinners!

When we think of being like Christ we are apt to gather out a few gentle qualities, and let these make up our conception of Christlikeness. True, He was a kindly man, a patient, quiet man; He was thoughtful, compassionate, unselfish, loving. But we must not forget that the cross is the truest symbol of the life of Jesus.

An artist was trying to improve on a dead mother's portrait. He wanted to take out the lines in her face. But the woman's son said it would not be a true portrait of his mother, if the lines were effaced. They told the story of the love, serving, and sacrifice which made her what she was. The lines were themselves, the truest features in the whole portrait.

Just so, no picture of Jesus is true, which leaves out the marks of love's cost the print of the nails, the memorials of His suffering.

It is not enough that we point others to a historic cross standing on Calvary, far back in the centuries; they must see the cross in our own life. When we speak to our neighbors of the pity of Jesus, His eager desire to save the lost, His giving of His life as a ransom they must see all this in us. This is the manifesting of Jesus, for which we are sent into the world.

Jesus must enter our hearts, and live out His own blessed life in us.

"Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

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Chicken or eagle?


(J.R. Miller, "Things That Endure")

A man had an eagle which had grown up among the barnyard hens. For a time the bird seemed content to be only a chicken. But one day it looked up into the sky, and something within the eagle, sleeping until now, awoke. Flapping its wings, it soared away toward the sun and never returned.

Just so, too many Christians, meant for the eagle-life content themselves with a barnyard existence. Now and then they feel something stirring within them but they are too indolent to make the effort necessary to take their place in the upper air and among the mountain crags. So they spend all their days down in the dust, among earthly things, never waking up to their God-given potentials.

"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

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Take these three spears!


(Thomas Watson, "The Mischief of Sin")

Do with your sin as Joab did with Absalom. He took three spears and thrust them through the heart of Absalom! 2 Samuel 18:14. Just so, take these three spears the Word of God, prayer, and mortification and strike through the heart of your lusts, so that they die!

What is the end of all a Christian's duties, praying, and hearing but to weaken and mortify lust! Why is this spiritual medicine taken but to kill the child of sin! Sin will insinuate itself and plead for a reprieve but show it no mercy!

Saul's sparing Agag lost him the kingdom and your sparing sin will lose you the kingdom of Heaven. Do with your sin, what Samuel did to Agag, "He hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord at Gilgal." 1 Samuel 15:33

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Countless little blemishes and flaws


(J.R. Miller, "Things That Endure")

"Little things make perfection." In nothing is this more true, than in character and conduct. There are many people who in great matters of principle, and in the cardinal virtues are without fault; yet the luster of whose life is dimmed, by their countless little blemishes and flaws.

One man who is upright and steadfast, with the firmness of a rock is hard to live with at home, because of his irritability or his despotic disposition.

Another is full of great benevolent and philanthropic schemes, doing good in many ways yet those who know him most intimately, discover in him an almost utter lack of the sweet graces and amenities, which are the true adornment of a Christlike life.

It is in the little things
, that most of our failures are made. Little faults thoroughly penetrate our characters.

Little sins ruin many a life.

There is a species of little white ants in Africa, which work desolation wherever they go. One may leave his chair at night and go to bed. In the morning the chair is there, apparently in good condition but let him sit down on it, and it falls with him, in a heap on the floor! During the night, the white ants have eaten the inside out of the legs, seat and frame. Houses are in like manner destroyed. The timbers are bored through and through until one day the building tumbles to the ground!

Just so, there are human lives which seem strong and right to men's eyes but countless infinitesimal faults and sins, eat away their substance, until they fall at last in hopeless ruin!

There is no doubt that the largest part of the pain and heartache endured in the world, is caused by multitudinous little failures in lovingness by little, needless hurts and unkindnesses rather than by life's great and conspicuous sorrows.

It is not enough, therefore, that we seek to be true, honest and just, in all our life. We should learn all the lessons of love, so that in every disposition and temper and word, in every shade of expression we shall be Christlike.

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The goal of living in this world

(J.R. Miller, "Things That Endure")

The goal of living in this world, is ever to grow into more and more radiant and lovely Christ-like character whatever our conditions or experiences may be.

We cannot escape temptations but we are so to meet them and pass through them, as not to be hurt by them to come out of them with new strength and new radiancy of soul.

We cannot escape trials and difficulties but we are to live victoriously, never defeated, always overcoming.

We cannot find a path in which no sorrow shall come into our lives but we are to live through the experience of sorrow, without being hurt by it.

Many people receive harm from the fires which pass over them. Many fall in temptation and lie in dust and defeat, not rising again. Many are soured and embittered by the difficulties, the irritations, the frictions, the cares of life. But the problem of Christian living, is to keep a sweet Christ-like spirit amid all that might embitter us to pass through the fires, and not have the flames kindle upon us.

We live in the midst of the countless dangers through which we must pass in this world. Danger lurks in every shadow, and hides in every patch of sunshine. There are tempters all around us. Only by committing our lives day by day into the hands of Christ, can we be kept in safety amid the perils of this world. He is able to keep us from falling, to guard us from stumbling, and to set us before His presence without blemish, in exceeding joy!

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An honest heathen or a fake Christian?

(George Swinnock)

He who seems to be righteous toward men, but is
impious towards God is but an honest heathen!

He who seems to be pious towards God, but is
unrighteous toward men is but a fake Christian!

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A race to the sepulcher!

(Thomas Sherman, "Divine Breathings; Or, a Pious Soul Thirsting after Christ")

"What is your life? You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14

To speak the truth, our life is but a lingering death!

The poet being asked what he did; answered insightfully, "I am dying, little by little!"

We do but begin to live indeed when we begin to live to God; our life before, is but a race to the sepulcher! But when we live to God then we are on our way to eternity!

Our life contains a thousand springs,
And dies, if one goes wrong!
Strange! that a harp of a thousand strings,
Should keep in tune, so long!

"What is your life? You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14

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No book is really worth reading

(J.R. Miller, "Things That Endure")

"Avoid every kind of evil!" 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Much is said in commendation of books. But, as in other matters, there is need for wise discrimination in what one reads. Not all books are worth reading.

There are many which are utterly empty of anything that is noble or worthy. One might read them continually all one's life and yet be no wiser and no better. A hundred of them do not contain a dozen sentences that it is worthwhile to keep in one's memory, or that can be of any help or cheer or strength in one's life.

Then, there are books which are most pernicious in their influence. There are all grades and degrees of evil in this class. Some of them carry a subtle poison in their atmosphere which is noxious to those who breathe it. We need to keep most careful watch over our heart, so that nothing shall ever tarnish its purity. Any corrupt thought, dallied with even for a moment, leaves a stain upon the mind which may never be effaced.

If we would keep the tender joy of our heart experiences unbroken, we must hold rigid watch over our reading, conscientiously excluding not only whatever is obviously impure but all in which lurks even a suggestion of evil.

A writer says: "Never read a book which is not worth reading, for some noble end, beyond the short-lived pleasure of a little excitement."

When we think of the influence which our reading has upon our lives, we see at once the importance of selecting only books that are worthwhile. At the best, none of us can read one book in a thousand of those which are within our reach. Surely then, this one book ought to be the best in all the thousand.

Every year, a flood of really worthless publications is poured over the country. People go into ecstasies over trivial works which please or excite them for a day and are then old and forgotten; while books in every way admirable, are passed by unnoticed.

No book is really worth reading
, which does not either impart valuable knowledge; or set before us some ideal of beauty, strength, or nobility of character.

There are enough great books to occupy us during all our short and busy years. If we are wise, we will resolutely avoid all but the richest and the best.

(Editor's note: Reading was the primary media in J.R. Miller's day. The above standards apply to all media today TV, internet, etc.)

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Why are we so apt to be captivated by the gewgaws of the world?

(Letters of John Newton)

Why are we so apt to be captivated by the gewgaws of the world but because we are so faintly impressed with a real sense of the excellence of Jesus?

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16


(Editor's note: A gewgaw is defined as a showy trifle; a pretty thing of little worth; a toy; a bauble; a splendid plaything, etc.)

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Your good things are all yet to come!

(J.C. Ryle)

"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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God!" Hebrews 12:1-2

We must run with perseverance or we shall never obtain. There may be many things we cannot understand, much that the flesh could perhaps wish otherwise but let us endure unto the end, and all shall be made clear, and God's arrangements shall be proved best. Think not to have your reward on earth do not draw back, because your good things are all yet to come.
Today is the cross but tomorrow is the crown.
Today is the labor but tomorrow are the wages.
Today is the sowing but tomorrow is the harvest.
Today is the battle but tomorrow is the rest.
Today is the weeping but tomorrow is the joy.

And what is today, when compared to tomorrow?
Today is but seventy years but tomorrow is eternity!

"Run in such a way as to get the prize!" 1 Corinthians 9:24