Grace Gems for AUGUST 2012

Grace Gems for AUGUST 2012

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You do not know what a day may bring forth!

(James Smith, "Ignorance of the Future" 1856)

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth!" Proverbs 27:1

We are totally ignorant of the future!
It may be prosperous — or it may be adverse.
We may suffer much from sickness — or we may enjoy sound health.
We may meet with accidents — or we may be graciously preserved from them.
We may be losers by calamity or wicked men — or God may set a hedge about us, as He did about Job.
We may be bereaved of our children, other near relatives or dear friends — or we may be summoned by death to appear before God ourselves!

We do not know what our lot may be in future. We are profoundly ignorant of it. But all is arranged — and arranged by our good, gracious, and infinitely wise God. Nothing is left to 'chance'.

Whatever may happen in the future, into whatever circumstances we may be brought — we should exercise confidence in God, hope still in His mercy, and plead earnestly at His throne of grace, believing that He has . . .
  ordered all things in His love,
  arranged all in His infinite wisdom, and
  will overrule all for our ultimate good!

"My times are in Your hands!" Psalm 31:15

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Oh, you who want unfailing comfort

(J.C. Ryle)

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

Oh, you who want unfailing comfort — I commend you to Christ! In Him alone, there is no failure.

Rich men are disappointed in their treasures.

Learned men are disappointed in their books.

Husbands are disappointed in their wives.

Wives are disappointed in their husbands.

Parents are disappointed in their children.

Statesmen are disappointed when, after many a struggle, they attain place and power. They find out, to their cost, that it is more pain than pleasure — that it is disappointment, annoyance, incessant trouble, worry, vanity, and frustration of spirit.

But no one was ever disappointed in Christ!

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!" John 6:68

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It is mercy that he is out of Hell!

(Thomas Watson, "The Art of Divine Contentment")

"I know what it is to be in need — and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation — whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in need." Philippians 4:12

The humble man is the contented man; if his estate is low, his heart is lower than his estate, therefore he is content. If his esteem in the world is low — he who is little in his own eyes will not be much troubled to be little in the eyes of others. He has a lower opinion of himself, than others can have of him.

The humble man studies his own unworthiness. He cries out with Paul, that he is the chief of sinners, therefore does not murmur — but admire. 

A little will content him! He does not complain that his comforts are small. He thinks it is mercy that he is out of Hell, therefore he is contented. He knows that the worst piece which God carves out for him here on earth — is better than he deserves.

A proud man is never contented — he has a high opinion of himself. Therefore under small blessings, he is disdainful; and under small crosses, he is impatient.

The humble man is the contented man; if his cross is light — he reckons it the inventory of his mercies; if his cross is heavy — yet he takes it up in humble submission. Where humility is laid for the foundation, contentment will be the superstructure.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

They love it!

(William S. Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

"Man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!" Job 15:16

The unconverted live in sin — they sin all the time. It is their trade — they work hard at it. They love it, and are greedy for iniquity. They "dig up evil." They "fill up their sin ALWAYS." They "ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit." Never for an hour, do they love God supremely. Unregenerate men sin always — they do nothing but sin against God!

All the unconverted do nothing but sin. If for a while they seem to reform — they soon return to their wickedness, as the dog to his vomit; or the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.

Neither mercies,
nor judgments,
nor promises,
nor threatenings,
nor hopes,
nor fears
 — without the grace of Christ — will or can ever cure the love of sin, or arrest the practice of sin.

"The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Bruised reeds!

(Horatius Bonar)

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

We have but one life, and it must be lived for God. But we need preparation for usefulness. We need a thorough breaking down, a thorough emptying, a thorough bruising. God cannot trust us with success, until we are thus laid low. We are not fit to receive it; nor would He get the glory. Therefore He sends sore and heavy trials in order to make us vessels fit for the Master's use.

Oftentimes we see that the heaviest trials, are forerunners of our greatest usefulness. When we are entirely prostrated and crushed — then it is safe for God to grant us success, for then He gets all the glory.

And oh, what wonders has God often done by bruised reeds! Yes, it is the bruised reed which is most often the instrument in His hand for working His mighty signs and wonders.

What consolation is this! Suffering is stripped of half its bitterness, if it thus brings with it a double portion of the Spirit, and fits for double usefulness on earth.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Shall we complain? Shall we repine? Shall we murmur?

(James Smith, "To the Bereaved" 1856)

"The Lord gave — and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!" Job 1:21

So spoke the patriarch Job, when stripped of all his property and bereaved of all his children in one day. Reduced at once from affluence — to poverty; from the highest elevation — to the lowest point of human suffering — he exclaimed, "Blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Such language befits us; for all that we have is from the goodness of God; it is from His free favor — and not because we have a right to it. All claim upon God was forfeited by sin; therefore all that we receive, is a proof of His kindness. All we that have — He gave to us; or rather, lent to us. And whatever He has lent to us — He may recall — may recall at any time, and in any way which pleases Him. There is nothing upon which we can lay our hand and say, "This is absolutely mine!" All is lent to us by a gracious God — lent us to enjoy, improve, and return to its proper Owner.

Shall we complain? Shall we repine? Shall we murmur
if God takes from us any one thing which He has lent to us, especially when He leaves us with so much?

"The Lord gave — and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Astonished, bewildered, and overpowered!

(Octavius Winslow, "From Grace to Glory" 1864)

The unregenerate man does not worship the God of the Bible. Worshiping a god of his own imagination, he rears his altar to "THE UNKNOWN GOD." Divesting the God of Scripture of His divine perfections . . .
   His holiness,
   His justice,
   His truth,
   His power
   His wrath —
he completely undeifies Him, robbing Him of His glory.

But when he is born again, lo! the God of the Bible bursts upon his new-found vision and his wondering gaze, as a 'newly revealed God'.
Clothed with new attributes,
arrayed with new perfections,
bathed with new glory,
standing in a new relation — 
the new creature falls down at His feet in adoring admiration and love, exclaiming, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You! Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!" Never did . . .
  the being of God, appear so true,
  the perfections of God, appear so glorious,
  the character of God, appear so great,
  the government of God, appear so holy,
  the relation of God, appear so endearing — as now!

Born into a new world, the GOD of the new creation unveils to the eye as infinitely, ineffably lovely!

Like a being born and grown up in a dark mine, and brought to the earth's surface to gaze upon the sun in its noontide effulgence — the new created soul is astonished, bewildered, and overpowered by the splendor, glory, and greatness of the being, character, and perfections of Jehovah!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I flee anew to the pavilion of Your love!

(John MacDuff, "Evening Incense" 1856)

Blessed Lord, bend Your pitying eye of love and mercy upon me today. Draw near to me, as I venture once more on praying and on pleading ground.

Alas! O God, how little have I improved the time that is past! I am a wonder to myself, that with all my deep ingratitude and utter vileness — I am yet permitted to approach Your footstool! I have sinned against light and love — warning and mercy — grace and privilege. The retrospect of life — is a retrospect of guilt. I mourn over my manifold shortcomings — the alienation of my heart from You — the fitfulness of my spiritual frames — the ebbings and flowings in the tide of my love. When tried by the lofty and unerring standard of Your Word — how are my best actions and duties marred with defilement! How much self-seeking and self-glorying — and how little animated by the predominating motive of love to You, and singleness of eye to Your service!

Blessed Jesus! I flee anew to the pavilion of Your love! I have no other hope, no other refuge — but in Your finished work — Your matchless atonement — Your spotless righteousness! There is in You, an all-sufficiency for every need. Finite necessities cannot exhaust Infinite fullness. Let me hear Your voice saying, "Your sins, which are many — are all forgiven!"

Transform me more and more into Your own image. May I know more and more, the happiness of true holiness — that I am really blessed in seeking to walk so as to please You. May the power of grace wax stronger and stronger — and the power of sin wax weaker and weaker. May trials and crosses become light and easy to me — when borne in a spirit of meek, unrepining submission to Your Divine will. May this quiet every doubt and misgiving: "Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things!"


~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Many are the hindrances, and
many the

(Thomas Reade, "Christian Experience")

"By the grace of God, I am what I am!"
     1 Corinthians 15:10

Nothing but the grace of God can keep us
from falling, either partially or finally.

Many are the hindrances, and many the

snares which beset us on our way to glory.

The corruption of the heart;
the subtlety of Satan;
the power of temptation;
the fear of man;
the allurements of the world —
are continually, in one way or other,
opposing our journey heavenward.

But Christ is our Savior. His wisdom is
engaged to guide us — and His power to
uphold and defend us.

"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!"
     Psalm 119:117

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Christ took your cup!

(Octavius Winslow)

Christ took your cup
of grief, your cup of the curse — pressed it to His lips, and drank it to its dregs! Then He filled it with His sweet, pardoning, sympathizing love — and gave it back for you to drink, and to drink forever!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:19

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

When you stand over your child's dead body!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

Parents! May you so live, that when you stand over your child's dead body, you may never hear a voice coming up from that clay: "Father, your negligence was my destruction! Mother, your prayerlessness was the instrument of my damnation!"

"But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people; and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them — that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood!" Ezekiel 33:6

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

So little influence over the world

(Charles Spurgeon)

I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world, is because the world has so much influence over the church!

"Tell me what the world is saying today — and I'll tell you what the church will be saying in seven years!" (Francis Schaeffer)

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The eyes of the Lord

(Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")

"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

God is . . .
  all ear to hear,
  all hand to punish,
  all power to protect,
  all wisdom to direct,
  all goodness to relieve,
  all grace to pardon,
  all eye to observe the . . .
     ways, and
     walkings of men.

As the eyes of a well-drawn picture are fastened on us,
wherever we move — so are the eyes of the Lord.

"For a man's ways are in full view of the Lord,
 and He examines all his paths." Proverbs 5:21

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A cup of cold water!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward!" Matthew 10:42

Well, I can do as much as that. I can do a kind act toward the Lord's servant. The Lord knows I love them all, and would count it an honor to wash their feet. For the sake of their Master — I love the disciples.

How gracious of the Lord to mention so insignificant an action — even a cup of cold water! This I can do, however poor; this I may do, however lowly; this I will do cheerfully. This, which seems so little, the Lord notices — notices when done to the least of His followers.

Evidently it is not the cost, nor the skill, nor the quantity, that He looks at — but the motive. That which we do to His disciple, because he is His disciple — the Lord observes, and recompenses. He does not reward us for the merit of what we do — but according to the riches of His grace. I give a cup of cold water — and He makes me to drink of living water. I give to one of His little ones — and He treats me as one of them. Jesus finds an apology for His liberality, in that which His grace has led me to do, and He says, "He will certainly not lose his reward!"

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine — you did for Me!" Matthew 25:40

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We may be happy in a prison!

(Letters of John Newton)

Our peace and spiritual progress do not depend upon our outward circumstances — but the inward frame of our hearts and minds. If the heart is right — a humble and broken spirit, obedient to the Lord's precepts, submissive to the His will, devoted to please Him, and depending upon His faithful Word — we may be happy in a prison; and otherwise, we must be unhappy in a palace!

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:11-13

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

That word, uttermost

(Letters of John Newton)

"Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost, those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them!" Hebrews 7:25

That word, uttermost
includes all that can be said. Take an estimate of . . .
  all our sins,
  all our temptations,
  all our difficulties,
  all our fears, and
  all our backslidings of every kind
 — still the word uttermost goes beyond them all. And, since He ever lives to make intercession, since He is the righteous one who is always heard, since His promises and compassions are unchangeable — He is indeed able and willing and determined — to save us even to the uttermost!

"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:2

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The hell of Hell

(Arthur Pink)

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment — but the righteous to eternal life!" Matthew 25:46

After millions of years, the suffering of the lost is no nearer an end, than it was at the outset. "This is the hell of Hell, that, as the torments thereof are without measure — so they are without end!" (Thomas Manton)

The respective eternal portions of the saved and the lost are contrasted at every point:

The utter hopelessness of the lost: "Punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord!" (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
The perpetuity of the saints' bliss: "I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever!" (Psalm 23:6).

The wicked enjoy "the pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25);
the godly shall participate in those "pleasures at God's right hand forever" (Psalm 16:11).

Agents of Satan seize the souls of the wicked at death;
the saints souls are carried to Heaven by the angels.

The lost shall be raised "to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2);
the godly are raised in "honor and glory" (1 Peter 1:7).

To the wicked it shall be said, "Depart from Me, you who are cursed" (Matthew 25:41);
to the saved, "Come, you who are blessed of My Father" (Matthew 25:34).

The wicked "shall be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10);
the godly shall "be forever with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 22:5).


~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Afflictions are Appointed!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

"He will certainly accomplish what He has decreed for me — and He has many more things like these in mind!" Job 23:14

The trials of time were appointed in eternity. He who chose us unto eternal life — also planned the path by which we are to reach it! Nothing ever happens to us by 'chance'.

Our little trials,
our great troubles,
our heavy crosses,
our painful losses —
are all a part of God's plan!

Nor did He plan afflictions for us merely haphazardly — He planned them because He saw that we needed them. He intended to make them rich blessings to us.

Every cross is a mercy,
every loss is a gain,
every trouble is a blessing,
and every trial is a seed of joy!

We shall be better in the future — for what we suffer now. If we sow in tears — we shall reap in joy. A wet spring will introduce a glorious harvest. Many of our present tears will crystallize into pearls — and will be an ornament to us in glory!

And not only so, but the same love which planned our trials — also provides strength to bear them. Our choicest comforts will flow from them. Time reveals what God planned in eternity — and eternity will reveal what God had in view in all the trials of time!

Let us, then, bear our afflictions with patience, and seek grace to honor God in all that we suffer, as well as by all that we do. If we keep our eye fixed on glorifying God — He will order and arrange everything that happens to us, so that it shall work for our good. Nothing shall by any means hurt us. The darkest clouds shall bring showers of blessings; and our sharpest pains shall only introduce us to the sweetest joys!

Gracious Lord, help me not only to submit to Your appointments, but to be pleased with them — so pleased that if the turning of a straw would alter them — I would not turn it! Oh, give me grace — to rejoice in my afflictions!

"So that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them!" 1 Thessalonians 3:3

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We shall be like Him!

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

We are predestined to be conformed to Christ's image. But now we groan, being burdened with sin. Now we are grieved, because . . .
  our tempers are so unlovely,
  our feelings are so carnal,
  our minds are so wandering, and
  our hearts are so depraved.

"But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him — for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2. We shall be exactly like Him — in every sentiment, feeling, and design! Then selfishness will be forever done away. There will be no more . . .
  rebellion in the will,
  hardness in the heart,
  wandering in the affections,
  guilt in the conscience, or
  blindness in the understanding;
but every faculty will be perfect in holiness — and the whole soul filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory!

We shall be like Him! Then we shall be perfect in knowledge! "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

We shall be like Him! Then we shall be perfect in love! We shall love God perfectly and supremely. We shall love all who love Christ, even as we love ourselves.

We shall be like Him! Then we shall be perfect in happiness! Every wish will be gratified, every desire fulfilled, every prayer answered.

We shall be like Him! Then we shall be glorious!
Is Jesus enthroned? We shall sit with Him on His throne.
Is Jesus crowned? He will give unto us an unfading crown of glory!

"But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him — for we shall see Him as He is!"

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The noblest life

(J. R. Miller, "Things to Live For" 1896)

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." Romans 13:8

Jesus taught that we should live, "not to be served — but to serve". This is a lesson that it is very hard to learn. It is easy enough to utter sentimental platitudes about the nobleness of service — but no one can truly live after this heavenly pattern, until his being is saturated with divine grace.

"Serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

There are countless opportunities for usefulness and helpfulness open to earnest Christians. Every day's life is full of occasions where good may be done by simple deeds, or words of kindness. The value of these unpurposed things is very great. We may live all day and every day — so that each step of our path shall be brightened by loving service. The world needs our love continually. We meet no one from morning until night — whom we may not help in some little way at least. It is possible for us to make a good deal more than most of us do, of these opportunities for the service of love.

Every individual Christian is the center of a circle whose hearts he may touch with a blessing of love. He is a custodian of blessing which he is to impart to others. The noblest life, is the one that is given up most unselfishly to serving.

God has so ordered, that we cannot love and serve Him — and not also love and serve our fellow-men. Jesus made this very plain in His picture of the last judgment, when He said that He is hungry — in every hungry little one of His; that He is sick — in every least one of His who is sick; that in the stranger who comes to our door — He stands before us, waiting for the hospitality of love.

In serving His people — we are serving Him!
In neglecting His people — we neglect Him!

We cannot fulfill our duty of loving Christ and serving Him — while we ignore our fellow-men. He accepts no such service. If we say we love Him — He points to the needy, the hungry, the sick, the burdened ones, the suffering all about us, and says: "Show your love to My people. I do not need service now — but these need it. Serve them in My name. Look at each one of them — as if I were Myself the one in pain or need — and do for these, My brethren, just what you would do for Me if I were actually in their condition."

To act selfishly toward a believer — is to act selfishly toward Christ. To neglect a believer who needs our help — is to neglect Christ Himself. To do good to any in Christ's name — is to serve Christ Himself. We must look upon every believer — as if he were Christ.

We dare not pass by anyone carelessly. We know not to whom we may have a duty of love. We are always safe in assuming that we have an errand of love to everyone we meet. We need not announce our mission, and we must never display ostentation in the discharge of our duty of love. We need only to hold ourselves in readiness, with all of love's humility, alacrity, and gentleness, to do whatever heart or hand may find to do in serving him. Our duty to him, may be nothing more than the showing of kindness in our manner, the giving of a hearty greeting, or the inspiration of a cheerful countenance. But however small the service may be which it is ours to render, it is a divine ministry!

No mere theoretical acknowledgment of this universal obligation will avail. Lofty sentiment is not enough; we must get the sentiment into practical life. We must bring our visions down out of ethereal mists — into something substantial and real. We must let the love of our heart, flow out in life, and act, and helpful ministry. In this world in which there is so much need, sorrow, and heart-hunger — loving service has a holy mission everywhere. If we would be Christlike, we must, like our Master, go about doing good. "I am among you — as the One who serves." Luke 22:27

We can learn this divine lesson of service — by regarding every person we meet, as one to whom we are sent on an errand of love. This will put an end to all our supercilious pride and haughtiness. We shall no more set ourselves up on little pedestals of self-conceit, demanding homage from others. Rather, like our Master, we shall stand with basin and towel, ready to wash the feet of the lowliest.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Not a mere Sunday affair

(Timothy Shay Arthur, "Religion in Common Life" 1858)

True religion is more than a correct set of doctrines. It includes a life of good deeds in the world. Unless such a life is led, no matter what a man's faith may be — his religion is vain. Piety, which means devotion to God; and Charity, which consists in acting justly among men — make, when united, the true Christian. Charity is essential; for, if a man does not love his brother whom he has seen — then how can he love God whom he has not seen? Worship, therefore, in the absence of charity, is vain; and the prayers of one who does not deal justly and humanely with his fellow-men, can never ascend into Heaven.

Religion is for the daily life, and cannot be put aside at the close of the Sunday worship service. In every department of business; in every office and profession; and in every household duty — men and women must be governed by the divine precepts of the Bible, or they cannot move a step heavenwards, no matter how devoutly they may have worshiped in the Sunday service.

Religion, to be of any real use to a man, must come down into all his daily duties, and regulate his actions by the divine standard — God's Word. It must make him patient, thoughtful of others, self-denying, watchful against evil, and, above all, just in even the smallest things, towards his fellow-man.

"So in everything, do unto others — what you would have them do unto you!" This is the divine standard. It is in the world, where Christian graces reveal themselves, if they exist at all. True religion is not a mere Sunday affair — but the regulator of a man's conduct among his fellow-men. Unless it does this, it is a false religion, and he who depends upon it for the enjoyment of heavenly felicities in the next life, will find himself miserably deluded!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My deliverer!

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

"I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!" Psalm 70:5

How frequently are we poor Christians involved in dangers and difficulties, from which we cannot extricate ourselves! Surrounded as we are by enemies and evils — this can be no wonder. But how are we to be delivered? To whom are we to look for relief and rescue? To Jesus alone, who is emphatically "The Deliverer!"
He has power — and will exert it!
He has wisdom — and will employ it!
He has merit — and will apply it,
for the deliverance of all who call upon Him to do it.

He delivers . . .
  from sin,
  from Satan,
  from dangers,
  from damnation!

He delivers . . .
  and effectually.

He has delivered . . .
  Joseph from the evil designs of his brethren,
  David from the hand of Saul,
  Daniel from the lions, and
  multitudes in every age, from eternal Hell.

He delivers from all evils — and from the most determined foes!

David celebrated his delivering mercy when he sang, "For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling — that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living!" Psalm 116:8-9

How sweetly encouraging is this — to view Jesus as our present deliverer in every season of trouble, and in all circumstances of danger — to know that He is ready to arise for our rescue, and appear for our deliverance.

What need we to fear? Why should we indulge our gloomy apprehensions? He has already conquered every foe, and whenever He appears — all flee before His face. There is . . .
  such majesty in His countenance,
  such terror in His frown, and
  such love in His heart toward His people —
that whenever He appears on their behalf — all their enemies melt away like snow, and depart as a midnight dream!

O gracious Deliverer of Your people, deliver my soul from . . .
  the power of sin,
  the influence of the world,
  the force of temptation,
  the deceitfulness of my own heart,
  and the designs of all my foes!
Keep me by Your mighty power, through faith, unto salvation!

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!" Psalm 18:2

"He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge — who subdues peoples under me!" Psalm 144:2

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Little single days

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own!" Matthew 6:34

One reason which our Lord gives against anxiety for the future, is that we have nothing to do with the future. God gives us life by dayslittle single days. Each day has . . .
  its own duties,
  its own needs,
  its own trials and temptations,
  its own griefs and sorrows.

God always gives us strength enough for the day. But if we insist on dragging in tomorrow's cares and piling them on top of today's cares — our strength will not be enough for the load. God will not give additional strength — just to humor our whims of worry and distrust.

So the lesson is, that we should keep each day distinct — and attend strictly to what it brings to us. Charles Kingsley says: "Do today's duty, fight today's temptation — and do not weaken and distract yourself by looking ahead to things which you cannot see, and could not understand if you saw them." We really have nothing at all to do with the future — except to prepare for it, by doing the duties of today with fidelity.

No one was ever crushed by the burdens of one day. We can always get along with our heaviest load — until the sun goes down. Well, that is all we ever have to do. Tomorrow? Oh, you may have no tomorrow; you may be in Heaven. If you are here — God will be here too, and you will receive new strength sufficient for the new day.

"As your days — so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He had to borrow whatever He needed!

(John MacDuff, "Heavenly Aspirations")

"For 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

When our Lord dwelt among men, so extreme was His poverty — that He had nothing which He could call His own! If we follow Him through the whole of His memorable career, we shall find that He had to borrow whatever He needed!

Did He ride in solemn state, amid the acclamations of the people, to the Jewish capital? The humble beast on which He was mounted was not His own — but belonged to another.

Did He join with His little flock in celebrating the pascal supper on the night before He died? The upper room in which they assembled, was a borrowed room.

Was there a garden to which He was in the habit of resorting in order to enjoy secret communion with His Heavenly Father? That garden, fraught with such hallowed associations, was a borrowed garden.

Did He cross from coast to coast for the purpose of performing His deeds of mercy, and of announcing the joyful tidings of pardon and peace to the ignorant and guilty? The fishing-boats which conveyed Him on these compassionate errands, were borrowed boats.

Yes, if we go back to the time of His birth — the place in which He was born was a borrowed place; and, while He was born in another man's stable — He was also buried in another man's grave.

Although all things were made by Him — yet His circumstances were so destitute, that He was dependent for everything upon the charity of others!

To so poor and humiliating a lot, was the Lord of life and glory subjected. "The foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests — but He had nowhere to lay His head!"

But WHY did He assume such a debased condition? It was "for our sakes." In His deep poverty, as well as the other numberless woes to which He voluntarily submitted — His unselfish compassion was signally displayed — therein the kindness and love, the yearning pity and matchless philanthropy, of God our Savior appeared.

All that He did and suffered — was for us!
He was made a curse — for us!
He gave Himself to die — for us!
He obtained eternal redemption — for us!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:19

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My Friend!

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

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

Jesus manifests His love — as the Friend of His people. He . . .
  fills every relation to them,
  performs every kind office for them, and
  comforts them with divine consolations.

He invites them to pour their griefs into His bosom — and tell out all their troubles before Him. He holds communion with them — and indulges them to converse with Him as a man with his friend. He encourages them by assurances of His love — and fortifies them by promises of His presence. "Fear not," He says, "for I am with you! Be not dismayed, I am your God!
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!"

His power, His riches, His wisdom, and His Spirit — are devoted to their best interests, and employed for their present and everlasting welfare. He watches over them in tender love — and listens to them with compassionate concern.

He is a friend who loves at all times — a brother born for adversity. His love, in its immutability, fullness, and perfection — is the great bulwark of their safety; and His friendship — is the joy of their hearts. He sticks closer than a brother, and never will fail or forsake the soul that trusts in Him.

He performs all the kind offices of friendship . . .
  in sickness and health;
  in plenty and poverty;
  in life and death.
He has Heaven and earth at His command — as the friend of the defenseless soul.
He has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge — as the companion of the ignorant and fearful.

He calls His people, friends — and presents Himself to them as their friend for their comfort, confidence, and joy.

O how the love of Jesus shines in His friendship! As our friend, He . . .
  lived in our world,
  suffered in our place,
  died in our stead,
  rose as our representative, and
  ascended to Heaven, where He continually makes intercession for us!

He acknowledges that I am an undeserving vile worm — yet calls me His friend! He knows the worst parts of my character — and yet He says, "You are mine! I have chosen you — and will not cast you away!"

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Is God unjust?

(Don Fortner)

"Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." Romans 9:13-16

Though God is absolutely sovereign, having mercy on whom He will have mercy and hardening whom He will — He is strictly just, both in bestowing His saving mercy upon His elect, and in the everlasting damnation of the reprobate.

"Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden." Romans 9:18

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God's hand in everything!

(Mary Winslow)

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:29-30 

How unspeakably precious and sweet it is when we can believe that God our Father in Heaven is absolutely directing the most minute circumstances of our short sojourn in this wilderness world! That nothing, however trivial, takes place, whether it relates to the body or the soul — but is under His control, in fact, is ordered by Himself!

But how hard to believe this, particularly when things look dark, and we cannot discern the way we should take. It is, then, the province of faith to wait upon the Lord, keeping a steadfast eye upon Him only; looking for light, help, and deliverance, not from the creature, but from Jehovah Himself. Well may it be called precious faith!

How happy do those travel on, whose faith can discern God's hand in everything. But I fear the number is very small, who so live.

I cannot imagine how those who deny God's particular providence can get comfortably on, for they must perpetually be confronted with minute events in their history, as mysterious and baffling to them as greater ones.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We are all going, going, going!

(J.C. Ryle, "Eternity!" 1878)

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
 For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
     2 Corinthians 4:18

"This world in its present form is passing away." 1 Corinthians 7:31

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

We live in a world where all things are temporary and passing away. Surely, a man must be blind, who cannot realize this. Everything around us is decaying, dying, and coming to an end.

We are all going, going, going — whether . . .
  eminent or unimportant,
  gentle or cruel,
  rich or poor,
  old or young.
We are all going — and will soon be gone!

The houses we live in,
the homes we love,
the riches we accumulate,
the professions we follow,
the plans we formulate,
the relations we enter into —
they are only for a short time!

Oh, you who love the world — awake to see things in their true light, before it is too late. The things you live for now, are all temporary and passing away! The pleasures, the amusements, the recreations, the profits, the earthly callings, which now absorb all your heart and drink up your entire mind — will soon be over! They are poor fleeting things, which cannot last.
Oh, do not love them too much;
do not hold on to them too tightly;
do not make them your idols!
You cannot keep them — and you must leave them!

This same thought ought to cheer and comfort every true Christian. Your trials, crosses, and conflicts — are all temporary! Your cross will soon be exchanged for a crown!

"What is unseen is eternal." The world which we are going to, is  . . .
  an endless eternity,
  a sea without a bottom,
  and an ocean without a shore!

"And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The secret of true happiness!

(Timothy Shay Arthur, "Sweethearts and Wives")

Man's unhappiness springs from his blind love of self.

True happiness can only spring from a self-sacrificing spirit — a spirit which seeks to bless and serve others. In this humble spirit, resides the secret of true happiness on earth.

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Nothing but the cross!

(William S. Plumer, "The Rock of Our Salvation" 1867)

"They will look on Me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn" Zechariah 12:10

Nothing but the cross will . . .
  melt a hard heart,
  or bend a stubborn will,
  or give a death-blow to corruption.

A sight of Hell never frightened one out of the love of sin.
The thunders of Sinai never made a rebellious heart submit to God.

Pliny, the naturalist, says that blood readily extinguishes fire. However that may be — the blood of Christ not only quenches the flaming wrath of God, but it also extinguishes the fires of unhallowed desires in the soul. It begets hatred to sin — and love to holiness.

When the Romans saw Caesar's bloody robes, they said, "His murderers shall die!" And when by faith, the sinner sees how his sins crucified the Lord of glory — he will mortify his sins!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

There is divine wisdom in every trial — and divine love in every cross!

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

Jesus is infinitely wise and immutably holy — therefore His love is a wise and holy love. He wisely manifests His love, so as to . . .
  discountenance sin,
  encourage holiness, and
  further His people in their heavenly way and work. He . . .
visits in trials,
reproves for folly,
smites for sin, and
withholds the light of His countenance, to testify His disapprobation of our ways — and yet, all this is in love!

He will not caress the believer — when he is indulging in pride, worldliness, and backsliding from Him. Those whom He loves — He wisely corrects! He never spares the rod — to the spoiling of the child — but says, "I will correct you in measure — but will not leave you wholly unpunished."

His wisdom and holiness shine in every part of His works — but in none more than in His dealings with His people. Was He less wise, we might have more comfort — but it would injure us. Was He less holy, we might have fewer trials — but we would assuredly be losers. Divine love, wisdom, and holiness combined — drew the plan of the Christian's lot; and the same divine love, wisdom, and holiness — executes that plan.

All the wisdom of Deity, under the guidance of Almighty love — shines in our path, our portion, and our circumstances; and when we enjoy the clear light of eternity — we shall see that this was the case. O if we really believed this now — how different would be our feelings and our practices often! How quietly would we submit to every painful dispensation of divine providence; how cheerfully would we acquiesce in every intimation of our Father's will; and how readily would we take the cup which He has prepared for us, and drink it saying, "The cup which my heavenly Father gives me — shall I not drink it?"

There is divine wisdom in every trial — and divine love in every cross!
Holiness and wisdom in Jesus, demand that our way should at times be hedged up with thorns. The infinite love of Jesus, shines in every painful discipline. He is no indulgent parent, no foolish friend, no unholy companion; He will not tempt us to evil, nor with evil — neither will He indulge us to our injury. He would rather close His ears to our cries — than His heart to our best interests; and the day is coming when we shall see that all our trials were needful — and not a trial could have been omitted, consistently with the wisdom and holiness of His love. May His love shed abroad in my heart — lead me to love, seek, and pant for holiness!