Grace Gems for NOVEMBER 2012

Grace Gems for NOVEMBER 2012

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Transformed into His likeness!

(James Smith, "The Great Comforter" 1858)

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord — are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18

The sight of Christ makes us like Him.

The Holy Spirit . . .
  enlightens the mind,
  directs the eye to Jesus,
  points out the excellencies of Jesus,
  and keeps the eye fixed on Jesus!
As we behold Him, we are changed into the likeness of His holiness, love, truthfulness, mercy, justice, and compassion. We become spiritual and Christ-like. Our humility deepens, our patience strengthens, and our benevolence becomes more pure and expansive.

Man by nature, is altogether unlike God.
Man by grace, is being gradually conformed to the image of God.
Man in glory, will exactly resemble God.

We shall then be like Him — for we shall see Him as He is!

O Holy Spirit, change me from glory to glory, until I am all glorious within and without, for Jesus' sake!

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We blunder and stumble in our holiest endeavors

(J. R. Miller, "Life's Byways and Waysides")

"David served his own generation by the will of God." Acts 13:36

It gives dignity and also sacredness to our life — to be serving our generation. Every true-hearted Christian, realizing this truth, seeks to work out God's will in his own character and life. Of course, we cannot do this perfectly, for nothing human is perfect. The artist fails to put all his vision, into his picture.
In all our life we do, even at our best — but a little of the beautiful work we intend and plan. We blunder and stumble in our holiest endeavors. Our clumsy hands mar the lovely ideals which our soul envisions. We set out in the morning with high resolves — but our evening confessions tell of many a shortcoming. We never live any day — as well as we know we should live.
Yet there is a sense in which, without attaining perfection, a Christian may fulfill God's plan for himself. One of the most interesting illustrations of such a life is David's. The Lord says, "I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who shall fulfill all My will." Then in another sentence, we catch the secret of this life which was so complete. We are told that "David served his own generation by the will of God." It is worth our while to look closely at this inspired description of a life which so pleased God — in order that we may learn how to work out the divine will for ourselves.

David "served". Serving is not a favorite word. We naturally resent the idea of serving. It seems to have an ignoble meaning. But really, it is one of the most royal of words. One who has not begun to serve — has not begun to live a godly life! God never yet made a life for selfishness. Jesus came to show us the perfect divine ideal of human living — and He served unto the very uttermost. "I came not to be served — but to serve," was His own declaration of His life's central thought and purpose. When they asked Him who was greatest in His kingdom, He said, "the one who serves." We are to live . . .
  not to get — but to give;
  not to be helped — but to help;
  not to receive — but to bestow.

David served his own generation. Our generation is the entire human family living at the present time on the earth. How can any man serve all his own generation? There are hundreds of millions of people he can never see — how can he do anything for these? One way of serving our own generation, is to fill well the little place which we are assigned in God's providence. We can do most to bless the world at large — by being a true blessing to the little circle in the midst of which we are placed!

Another way in which one may serve his generation, is by giving to it something which will enrich it, which will add to its happiness and good, which will make it better, purer.

Another way in which one may serve his generation, is by showing it an example of godly living:
  patience, under trial; 
  purity and uprightness, under temptation; 
  love and meekness, under injury and wrong;
and thus, be a purifying, uplifting, enriching influence in the world.

We say we are but little people, and can fill only a little place. We cannot serve our generation in the same large way in which David served his. Yet each individual life has its own distinct place in the plan of God, and each may fill out its own pattern. Even the smallest life lived well — blesses the world.

Every godly deed we do — makes it a little easier for others to do godly deeds, and lifts the standard of living among men a little higher.

Many people are oppressed and disheartened, by the seeming smallness and insignificance of their life. But we can serve our generation by . . .
  lightening one burden,
  making one heart nobler and stronger,
  comforting one sorrow,
  guiding one perplexed soul into peace,
  showing one bewildered child the path of holiness,
  teaching one tempted person how to overcome sin!

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Christ's love-letters

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The Scriptures point to Me!" John 5:39

Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Bible. He is the constant theme of its sacred pages; from first to last — they testify of Him!
We catch a glimpse of Him in the promise of the woman's seed;
we see Him typified in the ark of Noah;
we walk with Abraham, as He sees Messiah's day;
we dwell in the tents of Isaac and Jacob, feeding upon the gracious promise;
we hear the venerable Israel talking of the coming Shiloh; and
in the numerous types of the law, we find the Redeemer abundantly foreshadowed.
Prophets and kings, priests and preachers, all look one way — they all stand as the cherubim did over the ark — desiring to look within, and to read the mystery of God's great atoning sacrifice!

Still more manifestly in the New Testament we find our Lord — the one pervading subject. It is not a single gem here and there, or dust of gold thinly scattered — but here you stand upon a solid floor of gold; for the whole substance of the New Testament is Jesus crucified, and even its closing sentence is bejewelled with the Redeemer's name!

We should always read Scripture in this light — we should consider the Word to be as a mirror, into which Christ looks down from heaven. And then we, looking into it, see His face reflected as in a mirror — darkly, it is true — but still in such a way as to be a blessed preparation for seeing Him — as we shall see Him face to face!

This volume contains Christ's love-letters to us, perfumed by His love. These pages are the garments of our King, and they all smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. Scripture is the royal chariot in which Jesus rides, and it is paved with love for His children. The Scriptures are the swaddling bands of the holy child Jesus — unroll them and you find your Savior!

The quintessence of the Word of God — is Christ!

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We will wear crowns of life and glory!

(J. R. Miller, "Life's Byways and Waysides")

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Galatians 3:13

Christ has redeemed us!

All our hopes — come out of His sacrifice for us!

All our joys — come from the cup of His sorrow!

All our peace — comes from His anguish!

We will wear crowns of life and glory — because He wore a crown of thorns!

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Sweet subject!

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

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

April 19, 1857.
I have today been preaching on the intercession of Jesus. Sweet subject! Our great High Priest appears in the presence of God — for us! He pleads our cause, and will carry it against all our foes. He sends the Comforter — to teach, sanctify, and console us. He employs Providence — to guide, guard, and provide for us. He will never rest until He introduces us to His Father, "as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish — but holy and without fault!"

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My eyes are always on the Lord!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

"My eyes are always on the Lord!" Psalm 25:15

The Lord directs us to look to Him for all that we need — and look away from all that we fear and all that troubles us. Looking to man dishonors the Lord — and ends in disappointment. Looking to ourselves fills us with gloom, sadness, doubts, and fears. It was wise, therefore, of the Psalmist to keep his eyes fixed steadily and habitually on the Lord.

Beloved! In all your sufferings, let your eyes be ever on the Lord. Look to Him . . .
  for ease in pain,
  for strength in weakness,
  for comfort in sorrow,
  and for relief in distress.
Keep your eye fixed on Him as your Father and your God — who has pledged in His Word to do you good.

Friends may fail you, relatives may neglect or be unkind to you, and those you love most may be unable to help you — but look to the Lord! He will never fail you or neglect you. He will prove Himself both able and willing to help you.

Let nothing divert your attention, then, from the Lord — but carry everything to Him and exercise implicit confidence in Him.

Cast on Him every care,
commit to Him every work,
lay before Him every difficulty.
You will prove that He is not only able, but also willing to do "infinitely more than we might ask or think!" Ephesians 3:20.

Whenever Satan tempts you, or guilty fears torment you — turn your eyes to Calvary and see Jesus, your Savior — suffering, bleeding, and dying for you — and so you will enjoy peace.

Lord, help me to look to You for all my direction in life, so that I might not be led astray by my deceitful heart. Let me praise You and bring glory to Your Name every moment of my life!

"My eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign Lord!" Psalm 141:8

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I know their sorrows!

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

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are" Hebrews 4:15

"I know their sorrows!" Exodus 3:7

The Lord is acquainted with all the sorrows of all His people. We do not suffer unnoticed. He sympathizes with us — and will sanctify sorrow to us. When we suffer — Jesus sympathizes!

Beloved, He knows our sorrows, and He will be our Comforter. Let us lay them before Him. He will be gracious unto us at the voice of our cry. When He hears — He will answer. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He once suffered — He was "The Man of Sorrows, and familiar with suffering." He is able to support us who now suffer.

His sorrows are ended — and ours will be over soon! Weeping may endure for a night — but joy comes in the morning! We shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. We shall enter into His joy, be filled with His love, and so be forever with Him!

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!" Revelation 21:4

O Jesus! Do not allow me to dwell on my sorrows — but direct my heart into Your love!

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My Beloved is mine — and I am His!

(James Smith)

"My Beloved is mine — and I am His!" Song of Solomon 2:16

"My Beloved is mine!" He is . . .
  the Savior in whom I believe and trust;
  the Husband whom I reverence and love;
  the Lord whom I adore and obey;
  the portion on which I live; and
  the beloved One upon whom my heart and affections are set.

"And I am His!"
He chose me — or I would have never chosen Him.

He redeemed me — or I would have still been Satan's slave.

He called me — or I would have still been wandering from God.

He sanctified me — or I would have still been vile and polluted.

He manifested Himself to me — or I would have never seen His glory.

"I am His!"
I am His spouse.

I am His portion.

I am His delight.

I am His choice out of all worlds.

I am His glorious crown!

"My Beloved is mine — and I am His!" Song of Solomon 2:16

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We are not to forget the Giver — as we enjoy His gifts!

(J.R. Miller, "Morning Thoughts" 1906)

"The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land He swore to give you. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land — be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt!" Deuteronomy 6:10-12

The people were going to a country which had long been possessed by a nation who had built cities, filled fine houses with good things, and planted vineyards. All these things, the Lord would give to them. They would not have to erect houses nor plant orchards of their own.

But the danger was, that when they had received all these things — they would forget that they were gifts from God — and would turn away into sin. We are not to forget the Giver — as we enjoy His gifts!

It is always a perilous thing to forget God. To forget any friend who has been good to us — is a base sin. But to forget God, to whom we owe every blessing — is heinous ingratitude!

"Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

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O, give thanks to the Lord!

James Smith, "Sunny Subjects for All Seasons" 1858)

"O, Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His mercy endures forever!" 1 Chronicles 16:34

O, give thanks to the Lord, Christian, for He has not dealt with you after your sins, nor rewarded you according to your iniquities! He has . . .
  pardoned your sins,
  justified your soul,
  renewed your nature, and
  given you a title to everlasting life!

He has thus . . .
  prevented your ruin,
  borne with your follies,
  supplied all your needs,
  guided your steps, and
  promised to conduct you to glory!
His mercy has been ever great toward you!

"O, Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His mercy endures forever!"

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It takes both of these elements to make true religion

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

"Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was just and devout" Luke 2:25

He was just in all his dealings with men — and devout in his dealings toward God. It takes both of these elements to make true religion.

Some people are just — and not devout! They are scrupulously honest in all their dealings — and yet they never think of God, or of their duties to Him. They do not bow to Him in prayer, nor do they ever lift their hearts to Him in praise. They do not love Him. They confess no obligations to Him. Their whole religion simply is honesty toward their fellow-men — while they utterly ignore God, their Creator and Redeemer, in Whom they live, from Whose grace every blessing in their lives flows, and upon Whom they are dependent every moment for breath and existence. It is readily seen, that such religion is no religion at all.

While we are just and honest in our transactions with men — it is to God that we owe the first and highest duties. We are His creatures; we are saved, if at all, by His grace; we owe to Him obedience, faith, love, honor, service. So we must be devout as well as just.

On the other hand, there are some people who profess to be devout — who are not just! They attend upon ordinances, they sing and pray; and then they go out into the week-day world, and are hard, unjust, greedy, and oppressive! It is very evident that this kind of religion does not please God. He wants our praise and honor — but He wants us to honor Him by our lives and actions, as well as by our lips.

There are two tables of commandments; and the second table commandments are as binding as the first. We are to love God with all our heart (the first table) — but we are also to love our neighbor as ourselves (the second table). While we are devout toward God — we are to be honest, true, unselfish toward men. The two things must go together, and must never be torn asunder!

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He continually delivers us!

(Author unknown)

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

"For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling!" Psalm 116:8

Christ has completely and perfectly delivered all His people from the condemnation of sin, as He suffered the wrath of God for us on the cross, having our sins charged to His account. But His deliverance of us does not end there. He is still delivering us and keeping us from all that would harm or destroy us. He continually delivers us . . .
  from the power of sin which still plagues, corrupts, and contaminates us;
  from the influence of the world;
  from the force of temptation;
  from the deceitfulness of our own hearts;
  and from the designs of all our foes!

"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

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Jesus Christ and Him crucified

(Author unknown)

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you, except
Jesus Christ and Him crucified."  1 Corinthians 2:2

Jesus Christ and Him crucified, is the way in which God . . .
  displays His perfections,
  unfolds His purposes,
  maintains His rights,
  confounds His foes, and
  secures His glory in the salvation of His people.

Jesus Christ and Him crucified, is the only way in which . . .
  death is destroyed,
  sin is conquered,
  righteousness is established,
  rebels are reconciled,
  saints are sanctified,
  and Heaven is opened!

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Looking at the world through the cross

(Octavius Winslow)

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:14

Jesus could accomplish man's redemption in no other way than by crucifixion. He must die — and die the death of the cross. What light and glory beam around the cross!
Of what prodigies of grace is it the instrument,
of what glorious truths is it the symbol,
of what mighty, magic power is it the source!

Around it, gathers all the light of the Old Testament economy.
It explains every symbol,
it substantiates every shadow,
it solves every mystery,
it fulfills every type,
it confirms every prophecy
 — of that dispensation which had eternally remained unmeaning and inexplicable — except for the death of the Son of God upon the cross!

Not the past only, but all future splendor gathers around the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. It assures us of the ultimate reign of the Savior, and tells of the reward which shall spring from His sufferings! And while its one arm points to the divine counsels of eternity past — with the other it points to the future triumph and glory of Christ's kingdom in the eternity to come. Such is the lowly, yet sublime; the weak, yet mighty instrument — by which the sinner is saved, and God eternally glorified!

The cross of Christ is the grand consummation of all preceding dispensations of God to men.

The cross of Christ is the meritorious procuring cause of all spiritual blessings to our fallen race.

The cross of Christ is the scene of Christ's splendid victories over all His enemies and ours.

The cross of Christ is the most powerful incentive to all evangelical holiness.

The cross of Christ is the instrument which is to subjugate the world to the supremacy of Jesus.

The cross of Christ is the source of all true peace, joy, and hope.

The cross of Christ is the tree beneath whose shadow, sin expires and grace lives!

The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! What a holy thrill these words produce in the heart of those who love the Savior! How significant their meaning — how precious their influence! Marvelous and irresistible, is the power of the cross!
The cross of Christ has subdued many a rebellious will.
The cross of Christ has broken many a marble heart.
The cross of Christ has laid low many a vaunting foe.
The cross of Christ has overcome and triumphed — when all other instruments have failed.
The cross of Christ has transformed the lion-like heart of man — into the lamb-like heart of Christ.
And when lifted up in its own naked simplicity and inimitable grandeur — the cross of Christ has won and attracted millions to its faith, admiration, and love!

What a marvelous power does this cross of Jesus possess! It changes the Christian's entire judgment of the world. Looking at the world through the cross — his opinion is totally revolutionized. He sees it as it really is — a sinful, empty, vain thing! He learns its iniquity — in that it crucified the Lord of life and glory. His expectations from the world, his love to the world — are changed. He has found another object of love — the Savior whom the world cast out and slew! His love to the world is destroyed, by that power which alone could destroy it — the crucifying power of the cross!

It is the cross which eclipses, in the view of the true believer — the glory and attraction of every other object!

What is the weapon by which faith combats with, and overcomes the world? What but the cross of Jesus! Just as the natural eye, gazing for a while upon the sun, is blinded for the moment, by its overpowering effulgence to all other objects — so to the believer, concentrating his mind upon the glory of the crucified Savior, studying closely the wonders of grace and love and truth meeting in the cross — the world with all its attraction fades into the full darkness of an eclipse! Christ and His cross are infinitely better, than the world and its vanities!

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All through the journey of life!

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

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

June 29, 1857.
Through this month, I have been much employed in preaching the Word, and endeavoring to spread the fame of Jesus. O to exalt His dear name more and more!

I have been much tried by the instability of some from whom I expected better things. One thing is certain — the Lord will overrule all for His own glory, and the good of His cause. O to look away from the creature — to the Lord Jesus Christ alone!

May I seek all my happiness in Christ — and all my supplies from Christ. May I . . .
  look to Him,
  lean on Him,
  and walk with Him —
all through the journey of life! Then, when my journey ends, may I pass the Jordan under a sense of His love, and enter into the promised land!

O for more grace!
O for more conformity to Jesus!
O for more fellowship with Jesus!

I find more and more, that it does not do to look to creatures at all. I must . . .
  look to Christ,
  expect from Christ, and
  seek in all things to honor Christ.
May I labor for Christ alone, and expect my reward from His blessed hands.

As Jesus lived for me — so I would live for Him!
As Jesus suffered for me — so I would suffer for Him!
As Jesus died for me — so I am willing to die for Him, if He required it at my hands.

"For to me, to live is Christ — and to die is gain!" Philippians 1:21

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I know your sorrows!

(John MacDuff, "The Faithful Promiser")

"I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you."
    John 14:18

Blessed Jesus! How Your presence . . .
  sanctifies trial,
  takes loneliness from the chamber of sickness,
  and the sting from the chamber of death!

Bright and Morning Star! precious at all times,
You are never so precious as in "the dark and
cloudy day!"

The bitterness of sorrow is well worth enduring,
to have Your promised consolations. How well
qualified, Man of Sorrows, to be my Comforter!
How well fitted to dry my tears, You who shed
so many Yourself! What are . . .
  my tears,
  my sorrows,
  my crosses,
  my losses,
compared with Yours, who shed first Your tears,
and then Your blood for me!

Mine are all deserved, and infinitely more than
deserved. How different, O Spotless Lamb of God,
are those pangs which rent Your guiltless bosom!

How sweet those comforts You have promised to the
comfortless, when I think of them as flowing from . . .
  an Almighty Fellow Sufferer;
  a Brother born for adversity;
  the Friend that sticks closer than any brother;
one who can say, with all the refined sympathies of a
holy exalted human nature, "I know your sorrows!"

My soul! calm your griefs! There is not a sorrow
you can experience, but Jesus, in the treasury of
, has an exact corresponding solace: "In the
multitude of the sorrows I have in my heart, Your
comforts delight my soul!" 

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Cut it off!

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

"If your hand or your foot causes you to sin — cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled — than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire!" Matthew 18:8

Our life is so full of temptation and peril — that even its best things may become stumbling-blocks. Our very qualities of strength — may become fatal forces driving us to eternal ruin.

Human beauty
is a blessing from God — and yet beauty has proved a snare to many a woman, drawing her away from God.

Ability to make money
is a perilous gift — which has led many a man to spiritual ruin. It is better to altogether throw away the money-making ability, and go poor through life with the talent wasted and shriveled, and reach Heaven — than to exercise the ability and grow rich, and be lost forever! These are illustrations of our Lord's meaning when He speaks of 'cutting off' the hand or the foot which causes us to sin.

The appetites, desires, and affections — are part of the glory of humanity; and yet, when they are unbridled — they have whirled many a noble life to eternal destruction!

A steam-boat came into port which had long been out on the sea. An accident had happened which caused delay. The coal gave out; then all that would burn — cargo, stores, furniture — had to be burned up, in order to bring the vessel home. At last she gained the shore — but stripped of everything of value. Yet it was better to burn up all her cargo and stores — than perish at sea.

Just so, some men can get to Heaven — only by sacrificing every earthly pleasure and crucifying every sinful desire; but who will say that the prize is not worth the sacrifice? The hand would be better chopped off — than steal or strike down another. The foot would be better cut off — than carry one into crime or sin. The eye would be better plucked-out — than by its lustful gazing set the soul on fire. A man on a wrecked vessel had better throw his bags of gold into the sea and have his life saved — than hold on to the gold and sink into the waves!


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He sees countless evils in each one of us!

(J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Mark" 1857)

See what a black catalogue of evils the human heart contains!

"For from within, out of a person's heart, come . . .
  evil thoughts,
  sexual immorality,
  eagerness for lustful pleasure,
  pride, and
All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God." Mark 7:21-23

Let us distinctly understand, when we read these words, that our Lord is speaking of the human heart universally. He is not speaking only of the notorious profligate, or the prisoner in the jail. He is speaking of all mankind. All of us, whether . . .
  high or low,
  rich or poor,
  masters or servants,
  old or young,
  learned or unlearned
 — all of us have by nature such a heart as Jesus here describes! The seeds of all the evils here mentioned, lie hidden within us all. They may lie dormant all our lives. They may be kept down by . . .
  the fear of consequences;
  the restraint of public opinion;
  the dread of discovery; or
  the desire to be thought respectable.

But every person has within him, the root of every sin!

How humble we ought to be, when we read these verses! "We are all as an unclean thing" in God's sight. He sees countless evils in each one of us, which the world never sees at all, for He reads our hearts. Surely of all sins to which we are liable, self-righteousness is the most unreasonable.

How thankful we ought to be for the Gospel, when we read these verses! That Gospel contains a complete provision for all the needs of our poor defiled natures. The blood of Christ can "cleanse us from all sin." The Holy Spirit can change even our sinful hearts, and keep them clean, when changed. The man that does not glory in the Gospel, can surely know little of the plague that is within him.

How watchful we ought to be, when we remember these verses! What a careful guard we ought to keep over our imaginations, our tongues, and our daily behavior! At the head of the black list of our heart's contents, stand "evil thoughts." Let us never forget that. Thoughts are the parents of words and deeds! Let us pray daily for grace to keep our thoughts in order, and let us cry earnestly and fervently, "lead us not into temptation!"

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Death will soon lay his long icy fingers upon me!

The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith, 1862)

Time flies with rapid wing! Eternity, with all its solemnities approaches! My soul, are you ready? Are you willing to launch away?

I realize more than ever that my time below is growing short; that death will soon lay his long icy fingers upon me, and take me away. May my latter days be . . .
  crowned with peace,
  characterized by holiness, and
  honored with extensive usefulness
 — this is all my desire.

Another week has run into eternity, and here I am, left on the sands of time, with opportunities to do good, and get good for my own soul. May . . .
  my poor dull mind be enlightened,
  my hard heart be softened, and
  my irregular life be made to accord exactly with the holy Word of God.

I want to be as holy as Jesus is holy; and to be employing all my powers in God's service. Every moment, I would give to the Lord. I am hastening to Heaven — and there all my powers, faculties, and talents will be employed for God forever!

Nothing but the presence, power, and work of the Holy Spirit, will make me what I ought to be; or produce the change I wish to see.

O for entire consecration to God!

My life and all my abilities, I have consecrated to Your service and praise. I wish to live only for You on earth — and to spend eternity with You in Heaven!

I do solemnly, and deliberately, with my whole heart, give up myself to You — body, soul, and spirit.
Every talent I consecrate to Your service;
every day I would spend in Your work;
in every action I would seek Your glory.
Lord, take me more sensibly and evidently than ever into Your own hand, and give me grace in greater measure than I have ever received it — that I may . . .
  become more like You,
  do more for You, and
  bring more glory and honor to You. Amen.

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I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

"So do not fear — for I am with you; do not be dismayed — for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!" Isaiah 41:10

What a precious promise this is for all God's feeble children, who are daily fearing that they shall fall or be crushed under the weight of their troubles and trials!

O believer, what comfort is here! This promise is confirmed to you in Jesus, by His death. Yes, it is yours — as much so as if it was spoken to you directly by the mouth of God!

Oh, what a mercy! God says that He will uphold you. He will put strength into you; He will enable you to bear your afflictions and will bring you safely through all your troubles.

Satan may say, "I will trip you up."
God says, "I will uphold you!"

Unbelief may say, "You will one day fall and perish."
God says, "I will uphold you!"

Your flesh may cry out, "I can never bear up under this cross."
God says, "I will uphold you!"

Your feeble heart may say, "How can I endure such privations, such bereavements, such buffetings of Satan, such temptations, such losses, such fiery trials?"
God says, "I will uphold you!"

The Bible testifies that all believers "go from strength to strength, until each appears before God in Zion" Psalm 84:7

In weakness — the Lord strengthens them;
in poverty — the Lord supplies their needs;
in sickness — the Lord sustains them; and
in death — the Lord gives them the final victory!

O Father, I am weak — but You are strong. Give me of Your strength so that I may serve You and walk with You all the days of my life on this earth.

"If the Lord delights in a man's way — He makes his steps firm; though he stumbles, he will not fall — for the Lord upholds him with His hand!" Psalm 37:23-24

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It is a part of the cross!

(J.C. Ryle)

Let it be a settled principle in our minds, that the true Christian must always enter the kingdom of God "through much tribulation" (Acts 14:22). If we are faithful and decided servants of Christ — the world will certainly hate us, as it hated our Master. In one way or another, true grace will always be persecuted. No consistency of conduct, however faultless; no kindness and amiability of character, however striking — will exempt a believer from the world's dislike, so long as he lives. It is foolish to be surprised at this. It is mere waste of time to murmur at it. It is a part of the cross, and we must bear it patiently. The children of Cain will hate the children of Abel, as long as the earth continues.

"Marvel not, my brethren," says John, "if the world hates you." "If you were of the world," says our Lord, "the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you!" (1 John 3:13; John 15:18-19)

This world is not our home!

Our best things are yet to come!

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The love God has for us!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us! God is love." (1 John 4:16)

The sweeter the truth — the more backward we often are to receive and believe it. Therefore it must be presented to us again and again. What is more pleasant, than the fact that "God is love"?

Yet so quickly we doubt it, or forget it, or fail to realize it. Therefore the Gospel presents it to us again and again, and in almost every possible form. Twice within the scope of a few verses, John tells us that "God is love" (1 John 4:8,16).

Belief in this portrayal of God lies at the root of our holiness, happiness, and peace. To the extent that we believe that "God is love" — we will . . .
   consecrate ourselves to His service,
   enjoy peace in our consciences,
   and be happy in His ways.

God loves us, and therefore He planned our salvation, sending His one and only Son to take away our sins by the sacrifice of Himself. He also sent His Holy Spirit to teach us our need of Christ and lead us to Him. And, finally, He has put His blessed Word in our hands so that through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures, we might have hope.

God loves us — and therefore He . . .
   chastens us,
   strips us, and
   empties us.
He will not let us live satisfied without Himself.

God is love — therefore He has provided an atonement for all our sins. His justice is satisfied, and Heaven is prepared for us!

Yes, though we were sinners by nature, and deeply feel it — though we are not all that we wish to be, and deeply deplore it — yet God loves us!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, who in His love and in His pity has redeemed me!

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins!" (1 John 4:10)

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A cup that all must drink

(J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Matthew" 1856)

"He fell with His face to the ground and prayed" Matthew 26:39

Prayer is the best practical remedy that we can use in time of trouble. We see that Christ Himself prayed, when His soul was sorrowful. All true Christians ought to do the same.

Trouble is a cup that all must drink in this world of sin. We are "born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." We cannot avoid it. Of all creatures, none is so vulnerable as man.
Our bodies,
our minds,
our families,
our business,
our friends — 
are all so many doors through which affliction will come in. The holiest saints can claim no exemption from it. Like their Master, they are often "men of sorrow."

But what is the first thing to be done in time of trouble? We must pray. Like Job, we must fall down and worship. Like Hezekiah, we must spread our matters before the Lord.

The first one we must turn to for help, must be our God. We must tell all our sorrow to our Father in Heaven. We must believe confidently that nothing is too trivial or minute to be laid before Him, so long as we do it with entire submission to His will. It is the mark of faith to keep nothing back from our best Friend. The thorn in the flesh shall either be removed — or grace to endure it will be given to us.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He determined to go to Jerusalem!

(James Smith, "Food for the Soul" 1867)

"He determined to go to Jerusalem!" Luke 9:53

And Jesus well knew the sufferings which would befall Him there! But such was His zeal for God, and such His love to us — that He was willing to go anywhere, suffer anything, or do anything — that would honor God or do us good.

He went to Jerusalem — that we might not go to Hell.
He was condemned — that we might be justified.
He was punished — that we might go free.
He died — that we might have eternal life.

Precious Lord Jesus, may I ever be willing . . .
  to go anywhere for You,
  to do anything for You, or
  to suffer anything in Your cause.

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Saws and hammers!

(Letters of John Newton)

"Assyria — the rod of My anger!" Isaiah 10:5

Dear Mrs. Hannah More,

I consider all second causes and instruments — as mere saws and hammers in the Divine Workman's hands! They can neither give us pleasure nor pain — but as our Lord and Savior is pleased to employ them.

I am firmly assured that He has done, still does, and will do — all things well.

How little can we judge of this great drama of this world — by a single scene! But when we see the glorious outcome — how shall we love and praise and wonder!

As for myself, this old man of seventy-six is still favored with perfect health, and can still preach as loud, as long, and as often as formerly. He is still heard with acceptance and has cause to hope that the Lord blesses his ministry. "Oh to grace how great a debtor" — is the poor African blasphemer and profligate!

I am, my dear madam, your much obliged friend,
John Newton

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My creed

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

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

March 12, 1854.
In a variety of ways, I hear that the Lord is using me; blessed be His holy name for this. He never used a more unworthy instrument! May it bring glory to His free and sovereign grace! My eyes are up unto the Lord, and all my expectation is from Him. He is all my salvation — and all my desire.

I learn daily more of the depravity of my own heart — and consequently see more and more of the necessity of Christ's free, full, and complete salvation. Jesus must save me. I have no merit, but His; no righteousness, but His; no name to plead before God, but His!
His blood must cleanse me,
His obedience must clothe me,
His Spirit must purify me,
His Word must direct me, and
His grace must qualify me for the enjoyment of the inheritance of the saints in light.

My creed is:
Jesus all — self nothing!

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The influence of home

(Timothy Shay Arthur, "The Home Mission" 1853)

"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it!" Proverbs 22:6

If it were possible to trace back to their beginnings, in each individual, those good or evil impulses which have become ruling affections — in most cases the origin would not be found until we had reached the home of childhood. Here it is that impressions are made, which become as enduring as existence itself. But the influence of home is not  beneficial or baneful in early years alone. Wherever a home exists, there will be found the nursery of all that is excellent in social or civil life — or of all that is deformed.

Every man and woman we meet in society, exhibit, in unmistakable characters — the quality of their homes. The wife, the husband, the children — bear with them daily a portion of the spirit pervading the little circle from which they have come forth. If the sun shines there — a light will be on their countenances; but shadows — if clouds are in the sky of home.

If there is disorder, defect of principle, discord among the members, neglect of duty, and absence of kind attentions — then the sphere of those who constitute that home, can hardly be beneficial. They will add little to the common stock of good in the social life around them. We need not say how different will be the influence of those whose home-circle is pervaded by higher, purer, and truer principles.

"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it!" Proverbs 22:6

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We are never out of danger — while we are out of Heaven!

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

"The Lord is your keeper" Psalm 121:5

"He shall preserve your soul" Psalm 121:7

What being in creation needs such close and constant keeping — as a Christian. If God was not our keeper — we would never arrive safely in Heaven!
Our foes are so powerful;
our spiritual maladies so numerous;
our dangers so great;
our depravity so deep!

O to keep this fact daily before the mind, that we may evermore cry unto the Lord to keep us! He has promised to do so — but He will have us plead with Him, and daily cry unto Him.

We are never out of danger — while we are out of Heaven!

If we are healthy this morning — we may be diseased before night.

If we are sound in the faith today — we may be led away by some pernicious error tomorrow.

If we are walking at liberty now — we may be entangled with the yoke of bondage before long.

How kind, how gracious then, for our Lord to undertake to keep us, and to promise to preserve our souls.

Let us therefore, this day, feel . . .
  that we are in danger,
  that we need an omnipotent preserver,
  that the Lord preserves through fellowship with Himself,
  and let us endeavor to walk closely with God.

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My politics

(Letters of John Newton)

The whole system of my politics is summed up in this one verse, "The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!" Psalm 99:1

The times look awfully dark indeed; and as the clouds grow thicker — the stupidity of the nation seems proportionally to increase. If the Lord had not a remnant here, I would have very formidable apprehensions. But He loves His children; some are sighing and mourning before Him, and I am sure He hears their sighs, and sees their tears. I trust there is mercy in store for us at the bottom; but I expect a shaking time before things get into a right channel — before we are humbled, and are taught to give Him the glory.

The state of the nation, the state of the churches — both are deplorable! Those who should be praying — are disputing and fighting among themselves! Alas! how many professors are more concerned for the mistakes of government — than for their own sins!