Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER 2012


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The sum total of my experience is:

(
The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith)

March 27, 1861.
Jesus is precious very precious, to my soul. I love Him, rest in Him, preach Him, and wish that I could exalt Him a thousand times higher than I do!

The sum total of my experience is:
I am nothing but Christ is all! I am sin and Christ is my salvation.

No one ever needed Jesus more, no one will be under greater obligations to Him, than I am. I am never so happy as when I am alone, thinking of Him, reading of Him, or writing about Him unless it be sometimes, when I am preaching about Him, assisted by His ever blessed Spirit.

Jesus is mine and I am His. I think I may go even further than this, and say as the spouse did, "I am my Beloved's and His desire is toward me." O to honor His dear name more! O to glorify Him on earth, until He glorifies me with Himself, in Heaven! Anything for Jesus! Anywhere with Jesus! Thus my soul cries,

"Do not I love you, dearest Lord,
 Behold my heart and see;
 And turn each cursed idol out,
 That dares to rival Thee!"

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Ascertain what kind of a Heaven a man desires

(James Smith, "The Wondrous Love of Christ as Displayed in His Intercessory Prayer!" 1861)

"Father, I want those you have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world." John 17:24

Our eternal happiness will consist in our seeing, enjoying, and being like Christ. We have no conception of Heaven beyond this. We desire no Heaven but this.

May I but see my Savior in His glory,
may I but enjoy His presence and His love,
and may I but be like Him and I have enough!
Anywhere with Christ I shall be happy.
Anything with Christ I shall enjoy.
Let me but be with my Savior and I ask, I desire no more!

Ascertain what kind of a Heaven a man desires and you will know what a man is. A sensualist will desire a sensual Heaven. Health, wealth, and freedom to enjoy himself will satisfy a natural man.

Not so with the soul that is born again. He pants for the spiritual, the pure, the glorious. If, therefore, we sigh for holiness if we desire above all things to see Jesus, be with Jesus, and be like Jesus we are unquestionably among the number of those for whom He prayed; and we shall be with Him, where He is, to behold His glory.

O Savior, let me in solemn silence, muse on Your wondrous love, and adore Your glorious grace! O Jesus, it is my heart's desire that You should be with me unfolding Your glory to me, and satisfying my soul with Your presence. O visit me, visit me daily; or rather, come and dwell with me, that I may fix and feast my eye and heart upon You evermore! I desire to be wholly taken up with You, until I am ravished with Your love!

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The essential doctrines of the gospel

(Charles Spurgeon)

The doctrines of . . .
  original sin,
  unconditional election,
  definite atonement,
  effectual calling, and
  final perseverance,
are, I believe, the essential doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ but we do not regard these five points as being barbed shafts which we are to thrust between the ribs of our fellow-Christians. We look upon them as being five great lamps which help to irradiate the cross; or, rather, five bright emanations springing from the glorious covenant of our Triune God, and illustrating the great doctrines of Jesus crucified!

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We have expected too much from 'the creature'

(Octavius Winslow, "The Lord's Prayer" 1866)

"Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?" Isaiah 2:22

We have expected too much from 'the creature', more than any creature could possibly give.

Who has not, in some instances, found . . .
   their love fickle,
   their promises capricious,
   their opinions harsh, and
   their judgment fallible?

We reposed a while beneath our pleasant gourd and in a night it perished.

We nursed our bosom flower and in an hour it died.

We leaned upon the strong and beautiful staff and in a moment it broke.

We came to the crystal stream that had so often refreshed us and, lo! it was dried up!

Alas, we drained the sponge of creature good of all its sweets, and it became at last aridness itself!

"My soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation." Psalm 35:9

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Love flowing out in little gentlenesses

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

"I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in My name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward!" Mark 9:41

It seems indeed astonishing that God should keep note of such a little thing, as the giving of a cup of water to a thirsty Christian. It shows how dear to Him His people are since the smallest things done to one of them He accepts, remembers, and rewards.

The mention here of the giving of a cup of water suggests that this promise is for little, commonplace acts rather than for great showy deeds. We are too stingy with our helpfulness. God has put His gifts of love into our hearts not to be kept locked up and useless but to be given out.

We would call a man selfish who would refuse a cup of water to one who was thirsty; yet many of us do this continually. It is the heart which 'thirsts' and the 'water' we refuse to give, is human kindness.

Kindness is just the word for these small acts. Kindness is simply love flowing out in little gentlenesses. We ought to live our lives so that they will be perpetual blessings wherever we go. All that we need for such a ministry is a heart full of love for Christ; for if we truly love Christ we shall also love our fellow-men; and love will always find ways of helping. A heart filled with gentleness cannot be miserly of its blessings.

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This perfect pattern

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

"He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also
 to walk even as He walked." 1 John 2:6

Oh that this blessed Scripture might always lie warm
upon our hearts. A Christian's whole life should be
nothing but a visible representation of Christ. It is not
only our liberty but our duty and glory, to follow Christ
inviolably in all His moral virtues. Other patterns are
imperfect and defective but Christ is a perfect pattern!
Of all His children, they are the happiest, who come
nearest to this perfect pattern.

"Leaving you an example, that you should follow
 in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

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The great object of life!

(John Angell James, "Hindrances to Earnestness in Piety" 1847)

The great object of life to many professing Christians, seems to be to become rich. Their chief end does not appear to be so much to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever as to obtain and enjoy the present world! Wealth is the center of their wishes the invariable tendency of their desires. Jehovah is the God of their creed but Mammon is the God of their hearts! They are devout adorers of the God of wealth.

"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:9-10

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Live at the feet of Jesus

(James Smith, "The Pastor's Morning Visit")

"And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching."

"But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part" Luke 10:39, 42

Let not the many trifles of time affect, distract, and bewilder you; but let the one thing needful be the constant object of pursuit and desire.

Live at the feet of Jesus and you are safe.

Seek, above all things, to enjoy Jesus and you will be happy.

Aim in all things to glorify Jesus and you will be holy.

Look daily for the coming of Jesus and you will be consistent.

Seek to  . . .
  know Him,
  love Him,
  believe Him,
  obey Him, and
  enjoy Him!

O Jesus! manifest Yourself to me; draw me to Your feet, and keep me there!

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And we ought to be content with that!

(James Smith, "The Pastor's Evening Visit")

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing we will be content with that." 1 Timothy 6:6-8

We cannot really need more than food and clothing; and if God sees fit to withhold more then we ought not even to wish for more.

But our food may be coarse and our clothing very common. What then? If we have God's blessing, if we enjoy His presence we are better off than if we possessed a kingdom without them! If God gives us no more then we ought to believe that more would be injurious to us.

God either loves us OR He does not. He either cares for us and provides for us OR He leaves things to 'chance'.

If we are genuine believers, then . . .
   God certainly does love us!
   He certainly does care for us!
   He certainly does provide for us!

He has . . . .
  numbered the very hairs of our head,
  fixed the bounds of our habitation, and
  promised to supply all our needs!
He cannot have left anything to 'chance'.

Let us then be content with such things as our heavenly Father gives us. Let us learn to be content in every state and condition. Let us bear in mind that it is written, that "all things which pertain unto life and godliness," are given to us through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. So that knowing Jesus we may expect all that is necessary to a godly life
and we ought to be content with that!

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I will deal well with you!

(James Smith, "The Pastor's Morning Visit")

"I will deal well with you!" Genesis 32:9

So the Lord promised Jacob; and the promises made unto our spiritual fathers He will fulfill unto us, their children. But such a promise does not exclude:
  great trials,
  sore temptations,
  deep personal afflictions,
  fiery persecutions,
  poverty,
  disappointments,
  and perplexity!
All these things may happen unto us and yet the Lord is still dealing well with us. The promise secures . . .
   the sanctification of our troubles,
   the communication of necessary grace,
   deliverance from all real evils,
   the supply of all real needs, and
   the satisfying of our best desires.

Is not this enough
to know that Jehovah will deal well with us . . .
   in sickness and health;
   in life and in death;
   in time and through eternity?

This promise is . . .
Jehovah's bond,
the believer's plea,
the ground of the Christian's confidence,
a reason for contentment and gratitude,
and the cause of our enemies' confusion.

Jacob, though tried, found the Lord faithful and so shall we! Let us therefore rejoice that our God has said, "I will deal well with you! I will make all My goodness pass before you. I will save you with an everlasting salvation. I will be your God, and your glory."

Gracious Lord, do as You have said!

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Burn up all my levity, lukewarmness, and folly!

(The following in an excerpt from the diary of
James Smith)


February, 1853. Though this week I have been the subject of deep searchings of heart. I have felt deeply that I do not realize . . .
  the value of the soul,
  the danger of the sinner,
  the glories of Heaven, or
  the horrors of Hell,
  as I ought. Surely I need more compassion, and more earnestness in my ministry then I may hope to be more useful.

O that my heart glowed with love to souls! I want it to be like a consuming fire within me to burn up all my levity, lukewarmness, and folly!

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Must we long for the onions of Egypt?

(by Thomas Adams)

"Christ in you, the hope of glory!" Colossians 1:27

"Christ lives in me!" Galatians 2:20

Is not the life of Christ in us above all earthly sweetness?

He who has come to manhood throws away his rattles and dolls! Are not the grapes of Canaan satisfying enough but must we long for the onions of Egypt?

He who has the living waters of Jesus flowing in his heart is foolish if he stoops to the puddles of vanity, or seeks contentment in the world. He will not suck on the breasts of this world, and seek to solace himself in its vanities!

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The littles

(Charles Spurgeon, "A Safe Prospective," 1869)

"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. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows!" Matthew 10:29-31

I would, with special earnestness, beg you to believe that God is in little things.

It is the little troubles of life that annoy us the most. A man can put up with the loss of a dear friend sometimes, better than he can with the burning of his fingers with a coal, or some little accident that may occur to him. The little stones in the sandal make the traveler limp; while great stones do him little hurt, for he soon leaps over them.

Believe that God arranges the littles. Take the little troubles as they come and bring them to your God, because they come from God. Believe that nothing is little to God, which concerns His people. To Him, indeed, your greatest concerns may be said to be little; and your little anxieties are not too small for His notice.

The very hairs of your head are all numbered; you may, therefore, pray to him about your smallest griefs. If not a sparrow hops upon the ground without your Father you have reason to see that the smallest events in your career are arranged by Him, and it should be your joy to accept them as they come, and not make them causes of irritation, either to others or to yourselves.

This is a truth on which you may rely implicitly, and exercise yourselves continually, until you . . .
  lull the sharpest pains,
  calm the most feverish excitements, and
  obtain the sweetest repose that a Christian can indulge in.

Everything in the future is appointed by God. All is in the hand of the great King. The Lord is King; let his people rejoice!

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The words of Jesus

(James Smith, "Daily Bible Readings for the Lord's Household")

"Remember how He spoke to you!" Luke 24:6

So said the angels to the women at the sepulcher, on the resurrection morning. This exhortation is most applicable to us for we are apt to forget His words.

The words of Jesus ought to have the best place in our memories:

1. On account of their intrinsic value. There are no words like the words of Jesus, which exhibit the nature, will, and promises of God.

2. On account of their veracity. They are all true the truth itself.

3. On account of their suitability. They . . .
  check sin,
  control fears,
  produce confidence,
  inspire with gratitude,
  and fill us with love.

4. On account of their usefulness . . .
  in our daily trials,
  to direct our way,
  to rule our expectations,
  to comfort our hearts,
  to feed and support our faith,
  on the bed of sickness,
  and at the hour of death.

Let us treasure up the words of Jesus carefully, diligently, and with much prayer.

Are our memories stored with Christ's words?

Do we meditate upon them?

Do we walk by them?

"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word." John 14:23

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away!" Luke 21:33

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A silent personal influence

(J. R. Miller, "In Green Pastures")

There is a silent personal influence, like a shadow, which goes out from everyone and this influence is always leaving results and impressions wherever it touches. You cannot live a day and not touch some other life. Wherever you go your shadow falls on others, and they are either better or worse for your presence.

Our influence
depends upon what we are more than upon what we do. It is by living a beautiful life that we bless the world. I do not under-estimate holy activities. Good deeds must characterize every true life. Our hands must do holy works. But if the life itself is noble, beautiful, holy, Christ-like, one that is itself a blessing and an inspiration the worth of the influence is many times multiplied.

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We should sweetly acquiesce in God's will

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

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised!" Job 1:21

We should sweetly acquiesce in God's will, in faith that whatever He permits in our life, is right and best for us.

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


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The world's standard of Christianity!

(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" 1879)

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!" Romans 12:2

Never be satisfied with the world's standard of Christianity!


"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8

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Christ's sleepless vigilance over His people!

(Octavius Winslow)

"
Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age!" Matthew 28:20 

What an exalted and endearing truth, is Christ's sleepless vigilance over His people! Imagine yourself threading your way along a most difficult and perilous path, every step of which is attended with pain and hazard, and is taken with hesitancy and doubt. Unknown to you and unseen there is One hovering around you each moment . . .
  checking each false step,
  guiding each doubtful one,
  soothing each sorrow,
  and supplying each need.
All is calm and silent. Not a sound is heard, not a movement is seen; and yet, to your amazement, just at the critical moment the needed support comes you know not from where, you know not from whom! This is no picture of imagination but a divine reality.

Are you a child of God on your pilgrimage to paradise, by an intricate and a perilous way? Jesus is near to you at each moment, unseen and often unknown! You have at times stood speechless with awe at the strange interposition on your behalf, of providence and of grace when no visible sign indicated the source of your help. There was no echo of footfall at your side, no flitting of shadow athwart your path. No law of nature was altered nor suspended the sun did not stand still, nor did the heavens open. And yet deliverance strange and effectual deliverance came at a moment most unexpected, yet most needed.

It was Jesus your Redeemer, your Brother, your Shepherd, and your Guide! He it was who, hovering around you, unknown and unobserved kept you as the apple of His eye, and sheltered you in the hollow of His hand. It was He who armed you with bravery for the fight who poured strength into your spirit and grace into your heart, when the full weight of calamity pressed upon them. Thus has He always been, to His children.
 

The eye which neither slumbers nor sleeps was upon you! He knew in what furnace you were placed and was there to temper the flame when it seemed the severest. He saw your frail vessel struggling through the tempest and He came to your rescue at the height of the storm!

How has He proved this in seasons of difficulty and doubt! How often, at a crisis the most critical of your history the Lord has appeared for you!
Your lack has been supplied,
your doubt has been solved, and
your perplexity has been guided.
He has delivered . . .
  your soul from death,
  your eyes from tears, and
  your feet from falling!
You are never for an instant . . .
  out of His heart,
  out of His thoughts,
 
out of His hands,
  or out of His eye!
 

Go then, and lay your weariness on Christ!

Take your bereaved, stricken and bleeding heart to Him!

What is your sorrow?
Has the hand of death smitten?
Is the beloved one removed?
Has the desire of your eyes been taken away with a stroke?
 

Who has done it?

Jesus has done it! Death was only His messenger. Your Jesus has done it! The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. And what has He removed?
 

Your wife? Ah, Jesus has all the tenderness that your wife ever had. Her love was only a drop from the ocean of love which is in His heart.
 

Is it your husband? Jesus is better to you than ten husbands.
 

Is it your parent, your child, your friend, your all of earthly bliss?
Is the cistern broken?
Is the earthen vessel dashed to pieces?
Are all your streams dry?
Jesus is still enough! He has not taken Himself from you and never, never will.

Take your bereaved, stricken and bleeding heart to Him and rest it upon His heart, which was once bereaved, stricken and bleeding, too! He knows how to . . .
   bind up the broken heart,
   heal the wounded spirit,
   and comfort those who mourn.

What is your sorrow?
Has health failed you?
Has property forsaken you?
Have friends turned against you?
Are you tried in your circumstances?
Are you perplexed in your path?
Are providences thickening and darkening around you?
Are you anticipating seasons of approaching trial?
Are you walking in darkness, having no light?

Simply go to Jesus! He is an ever open door!
He is a tender, loving, faithful Friend, ever near.
He is a Brother born for your adversity.
His grace and sympathy are sufficient for you.
 

Go to Him in every trial.
Cast yourself upon Him every burden.
Take the infirmity, the corruption, the cross as it arises.

Simply and immediately to Jesus!
 
Go to Him at all times and under all circumstances!

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Son, you are ever with Me, and all I have is yours!

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

Jesus has revealed Himself as a Father to His people. Having begotten them again unto a living hope He treats them as His children, and deals with them as a wise, kind, and tender parent. He cares for them and bids them cast all their cares upon Himself. He has promised to provide for them and encourages them to expect all necessary blessings from himself. They occupy His attention, and engage His mind every moment! He dwells among them and calls them His dear children. He expresses Himself most tenderly, and acts most wisely toward them. He . . .
  corrects their errors,
  instructs their minds,
  feeds their souls,
  and guides their feet;
but all in His own way.

No earthly father can take the interest of his children, which Jesus takes in His people; or make such provision for them, as He has made. All things pertaining to the present life are secured to them along with a boundless inheritance beyond the grave! He bids them to enjoy what He has given to them, and offers them Himself as a constant feast. He invites them to . . .
  tell Him all their troubles and promises deliverance;
  make known their grievances that He may remedy them;
  make known their needs that He may supply them.
He never allows them to be out of His sight nor out of his mind. The language of the prodigal's father to his elder son may be applied to them, "Son, you are ever with Me, and all I have is yours!"

O believer, what a privilege is yours! Jesus is not only your Friend but your Father! He loves you, cares for you, and provides for you as such!
Trust in Him at all times;
depend on His care when everything around distresses you;
and look to His loving heart when creatures are cruel and unkind.

He says, "I will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters! I will not leave you orphans I will come unto you! I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on Me! Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom!"

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The stage

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"For I know that you will bring me to death, and
 to the house appointed for all living." Job 30:23

Death is the great leveler!

Though their lifestyles along the way may be very
different the king and the beggar must dwell in one
house, when they come to their journey's end.

"The small and the great are there." Job 3:19

We are all in this world as on a stage; it is no great
matter, whether a man acts the part of a prince or
a peasant; for when they have acted their parts, they
must both get behind the curtain, and appear no more.

"For I know that you will bring me to death, and
 to the house appointed for all living." Job 30:23

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Anxious care

(James Smith, "The True Remedy!" 1856)

Another soul-disorder is anxious care. Worry or anxiety is prohibited by the gospel, because it is injurious to us, and reflects badly upon the care and kindness of God. Yet we, like Martha are anxious and troubled about many things. We lose sight of the fact that God is our Father, and as such, He is engaged to provide for us. We forget that . . .
   we are in our Father's world,
   we are living under our Father's eye,
   we are fed by our Father's hand, and
   our interests lie near our Father's heart!

The true remedy for anxious care is to realize daily, and every hour of every day . . .
   that the Lord cares for us,
   that He knows where we are, and what we are,
   that He has fixed the bounds of our habitation,
   that His feeding the sparrows, is a proof that He will never neglect His children.

Anxiety! As a believer in Jesus, as a child of God about what should I be anxious?

God is my Father, and He loves me loves me just as He loves Jesus!

He cares for me cares for me as much as He cared for the apostle Paul.

He watches over me, as a tender mother watches over her precious infant!

He keeps me keeps me as the apple of His eye; and lest anything should hurt me, He will keep me night and day. He bids me cast every care upon Him. He exhorts me not to worry about anything but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, to let my requests be made known unto Him.

This is the true remedy for anxious care:
to live in close and intimate fellowship with God, and cast all my cares upon Him as they come in;
to live realizing the fact, that I am the object of the constant, tender, loving care of God that my God cares for me, for my best interests, for my everlasting welfare!

Yes, this is the only true remedy!

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It is astonishing

(Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan)

It is astonishing that such a worm should be
so favored with discoveries of His beauty whom
glorified saints and angels gaze with ineffable
delight. But, after all, I know not a thousandth
part of what He is, and what I have in Him.

Surely Christ is all!

How little, how verily nothing, am I.

Oh! that my lips, my life, and every action  
might speak His praise and glorify His name,
who is a Heaven to me!

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A living personal Jesus!

(Archibald Brown, 1884)

"Christ is all!" Colossians 3:11

Christianity is all centered in a person! Conversion is not a mere change of human opinion; it is the devotion of the 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 your religion, if it is worth anything will be centered in a living personal Jesus.
Your doctrines will all come from Him;
your motives will be found in Him
your joys will be found in Him;
your acceptance will be found in Him;
your completeness will be found in Him!

"You are complete in Him!" Colossians 2:10

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Home, sweet home!

(J.A. James,
"Woman's Mission")

There are few terms in the language around which cluster so many blissful associations, as that delight of every English heart, the word HOME.

  The paradise of love.

  The nursery of virtue.

  The garden of enjoyment.

  The temple of harmony.

  The circle of all tender relationships.

  The playground of childhood.

  The dwelling of adulthood.

  The retreat of old age.

Home is where . . .
  health
loves to enjoy its pleasures,
  wealth
revels in its luxuries,
  poverty bears its rigors
  sickness best can endure its pains,
  and dissolving nature expire.

This, home, sweet home is the proper sphere of woman's action, influence and mission! Is it any hardship upon woman, any depreciation of her importance to place her sphere of action and influence there? Is it to assign her a circle of influence unworthy of herself to call her to preside over that little home?

Shall we estimate the importance of such a scene of action? Shall we tell of the varied and momentous interests which are included in that circle? Shall we speak of the happiness of a husband, whose bliss, to so considerable an extent, is created by herself; and which involves her own happiness; or the character and future well-being for both worlds of her children?

It is the privilege of the woman . . .
   to make one such home, a seat of holiness and happiness;
   to fill one such sphere, with an influence so sweet and sacred;
   to throw the fascination of wedded delight and of maternal influence over one such home;
   to irradiate so many faces with delight;
   to fill so many hearts with contentment, and
   to prepare so many characters for their future part in life!

One of the most hallowed, lovely, and beautiful sights in our world, is a woman at home discharging in all the meekness of wisdom, the various duties of wife and mother, with . . .
  an order which nothing is allowed to disturb;
  a patience which nothing can exhaust;
  an affection which is never ruffled; and
  a perseverance which no difficulties can interrupt, nor  any disappointments arrest!

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Faith pulls the black mask from the face of trouble!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"I will sing of mercy and judgment!" Psalm 101:1

Faith triumphs in trial. When reason is thrust into the inner prison, with her feet made fast in the stocks then faith makes the dungeon walls ring with her merry notes, as she cries, "I will sing of mercy and of judgment. Unto you, O Lord, will I sing." Faith pulls the black mask from the face of trouble and discovers the angel beneath.

There is a subject for song even in the judgments of God towards us. For,
1. the trial is not so heavy as it might have been,
2. the trouble is not so severe as we deserved to have borne,
3. our affliction is not so crushing as the burden which others have to carry.

Faith sees that in her worst sorrow, that there is nothing penal there is not a drop of God's wrath in it; it is all sent in love. Faith discerns love gleaming like a jewel, on the breast of an angry God! Faith says of her grief, "This is a badge of honor, for the child must feel the rod"; and then she sings of the sweet result of her sorrows, because they work her spiritual good. "Nay, more," says Faith, "these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" So Faith rides forth on the black horse, conquering and to conquer, trampling down carnal reason and fleshly sense, and chanting notes of victory amid the thickest of the fray!

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An infinite love!

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

"And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:18-19

The love of Christ is an infinite love its heights and depths, its breadths and lengths surpass our knowledge! The whole of His nature and perfections are thrown into His love, therefore He is said to BE LOVE. He cannot love His people more than He does nor will He love them less! Until we can comprehend infinity and measure eternity we cannot know the love of Christ to perfection.

Love in us rules us; just so, the infinite love of Jesus, rules Him. All that He has ever purposed, promised, or performed for His people has flowed from this ocean of divine love! He is a globe of love without beginning or end! He is a sea of love without fault of defect! Only an infinite intellect can grasp Christ's love only eternity is sufficient to reveal it to our minds. Christ's love will be always unfolding but never be fully unfolded. It will be always displaying but never be fully displayed. We may stand in the center and endeavor to follow its lines but Christ's love defies our powers, and drowns our thoughts in its immensity!

Christ's love can never be diverted from its objects; it is immutably fixed upon them and remains fixed forever! Had it been possible to have turned its current, it would have been done long ago; but it is still the river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God.

Having loved His own He loves them unto the very end. Nothing present or future, above or below can ever separate believers from the love of Jesus!

On this rock they rest amidst all the storms of life!
In this fortress they hide when dangers of every kind surround them!
At this fountain they live when every creature-stream is dried up!

No love is unchangeable but the love of Jesus! His love is like the great mountains, and abides forever firm!

O believer, admire and adore! Jesus continues to love you amidst all your coldness, darkness, and proneness to wander; therefore He restores your soul and causes you to walk in the paths of righteousness. Satan may harass and accuse you, the world may frown upon and persecute you but Jesus rests in His love, and rejoices over you with singing!

And amidst all the changes which we feel within and without, we ask with holy Paul, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" And with him we reply, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow not even the powers of Hell, can separate us from God's love! No power in the sky above or in the earth below indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord!"

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Many times Jesus and His people pull against one another in prayer

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Father, I will that those also, whom You have given Me be with Me where I am." John 17:24

O death! why do you touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches, weariness has rest? Why do you snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all your delight? If you must use your axe use it upon the trees which yield no fruit you might be thanked then. But why will you strike down the goodly cedars of Lebanon? O stay your axe and spare the righteous!

But no, it must not be! Death smites the goodliest of our friends! The most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And why? It is through Jesus' prevailing prayer, "Father, I will that those also, whom You have given Me be with Me where I am." It is Jesus' prayer which bears them on eagle's wings to heaven. Every time a believer mounts from this earth to paradise it is an answer to Christ's prayer.

A good old divine remarks, "Many times Jesus and His people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your knee in prayer and say 'Father, I will that Your saints be with me where I am'; Christ says, 'Father, I will that those also, whom You have given Me be with Me where I am.'" Thus the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord. The soul cannot be in both places the beloved one cannot be with Christ, and with you too.
 

Now, which pleader shall win the day? If you had your choice; if the King should step from His throne, and say, "Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another which shall be answered?" Oh! I am sure, though it were agony, you would start from your feet, and say, "Jesus, not my will but may Yours be done!" You would give up your prayer for your loved one's life, if you could realize the thoughts that Christ is praying in the opposite direction, "Father, I will that those also, whom You have given Me be with Me where I am." Lord, You shall have them. By faith, I will let them go!

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Your Savior-God has married you!

(
John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"And I will betroth you unto Me forever!" Hosea 2:19

How wondrous and varied are the figures which Jesus employs to express the tenderness of His covenant love! My soul! your Savior-God has married you! Would you know the TIME of your betrothal? Go back into the depths of a by-past eternity, before the world was; then and there, your espousals were contracted: "I have loved you with an everlasting love!"

Soon shall the bridal-hour arrive, when your absent Lord shall come to welcome His betrothed bride into His royal palace! At "midnight!" (the hour when He is least expected) the cry may be shall be heard, "Behold, the Bridegroom comes!"

My soul! has this mystic union been formed between you and your Lord? Can you say, in humble assurance of your faith in Him, "My beloved is mine and I am His!" If so, great, unspeakably great are the glories which await you! Your dowry, as the bride of Christ is all that Omnipotence can bestow and all that a glorified bride can receive! In the prospect of those glorious nuptials, you need dread no pang of widowhood. What God has joined together, no created power can put asunder! He betroths you, and it is, "forever!"

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You have only just begun!

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

Dear friend,
You say that you cannot live up to the things you read in the Bible and in Christian books. I know of no one who can do so. The Bible sets before us very lofty ideals so lofty that we cannot reach them in a day or a month or in twenty-five years. So long as you may live, and if you spend every year in striving toward the best things you will still find that you have not fully attained them.

Paul was a great deal better Christian than most of us, and he said, when he was quite an old man, that he was not yet perfect but was still striving after the things which he wished to attain. We never measure up to our ideals. We never are so holy any day, as we intend to be in the morning when we set out.

We certainly fall very far below God's requirements. If we did not, there would be no special need of a Savior. Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem us and save us because we cannot live up to the requirements of His divine law.

You must not judge yourself, therefore, too severely. Christ does not. He is very patient with our slow progress. Always do your best every day, and you will do better still tomorrow.

Make every day as beautiful as you can pure and true and holy, with obedience and love. Then next day can be made a little better than this one, and so on through every day, unto the end.

Yet you will still find on the last evening of your life, that you have very much to attain, that really you have just begun to be a Christian. I think it was Rubinstein, the great musician, who said at the close of a long life devoted to intense musical work, "I have just begun to know music." It is so in Christian life. If you live to be eighty years old, growing every day more and more holy, you can say then no more than that you have begun just begun, to know Christ and to know how to live a Christian life.

Remember that you will never reach your goal, until you leave this poor world, and enter upon the perfect life in Heaven.

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 3:13-14

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We were stinking in the grave of sin!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him." John 12:2

Lazarus is to be envied. It was well to be Martha and serve Jesus but better to be Lazarus and commune with Jesus. There are times for each purpose, and each is lovely in its season but none of the trees of the garden yield such clusters as the vine of communion with Jesus. To sit with Jesus, to hear His words, to mark His acts, and receive His smiles was such a favor as must have made Lazarus as happy as the angels!

When it has been our happy lot to feast with our Beloved in His banqueting-hall we would not have given half a sigh for all the kingdoms of the world, if so much breath could have bought them!

Lazarus is to be imitated. It would have been a strange thing if he had not been at the table where Jesus was, for he had been dead and Jesus had raised him. For the risen one to be absent when the Lord who gave him life was at his house, would have been ungrateful indeed.

We too were once dead! Yes, and like Lazarus we were stinking in the grave of sin! Jesus raised us and we live! Can we be content to live at a distance from Him? Do we omit to remember Him at His table, where He deigns to feast with His brethren? Oh, this is cruel! It behooves us to repent, and do as He has bidden us, for His least wish should be law to us.

To have lived without constant fellowship with one of whom the Jews said, "Behold how He loved him," would have been disgraceful to Lazarus! Is it excusable in us whom Jesus has loved with an everlasting love! To have been cold to Him who wept over his lifeless corpse, would have argued great brutishness in Lazarus. What does it argue in us over whom the Savior has not only wept but bled!

Come, brethren, who read this portion let us return unto our heavenly Bridegroom, and ask for His Spirit that we may be on terms of closer intimacy with Him, and henceforth sit at the table with Him!