Grace Gems for APRIL 2013
We must not cut our lives in two!
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do — do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31
True religion is simply living out the principles of Christianity in one's ordinary week-day life! It is getting the Bible, and the prayers, and the church services — into thought and act and character!
We must not cut our lives in two, and call one part secular — governing it by one set of principles; and then regard the other part as sacred — to be controlled by another set of rules. ALL of life should be made sacred, in the sense that everything is to be done in such a way as to please God, under the direction of His counsel in His Word. We have just as much true religion, as we get into our week-day life — and not a whit more! Whatever we do, even to eating and drinking — we should do to the glory of the Lord Jesus!
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Her goodness touches their vileness!
A lovely and godly woman learned of a poor district in a great city, whose people are ruled by the basest passions. They live in wretchedness and degradation. Moved by a loving pity — she leaves her own happy home, and goes to live in the midst of these debased men and women. She moves in and out among them. She teaches their children. She visits their miserable abodes when they are sick, and ministers to their needs.
It is costly serving for her. She suffers terribly in her sensitive soul, from their abject wickedness. But she makes no complaint, and continues to live out her sweet, pure life among them. Her goodness touches their vileness — and begins to dispel it. Her love blesses their soiled lives.
There she stays — a loving, patient, ministering angel, giving out her life — until that spot of wretchedness has begun to change. The degradation yields to purity. Into the squalor of their homes — come bits of beauty, and hints of moral refinement. On Sundays you may see this lovely angel-woman, with a company of restored lives around her, which she has lifted up out of sin and debasement, by the mighty power of her pure, unselfish love. That is true Christlike serving!
"Then the King will say to those on His right: Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!
For I was hungry — and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty — and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger — and you invited Me in;
I was naked — and you clothed Me;
I was sick — and you visited Me;
I was in prison — and you came to visit Me!" Matthew 25:34-36
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His unsleeping watchfulness
"You are the God who sees me!" Genesis 16:13
Go where we may, we cannot get away from the calm, clear gaze of the Divine Eye! Neither in the blue depths of the heavens, nor in the dark abysses of the grave — can we hide away from God. If we could take the morning sunbeams for wings, and fly away on them with all the swiftness of light to the remotest bounds of space — we could not get beyond the reach of the Divine Eye. If we creep into the darkness, darkness so deep and dense that no human eye can behold us — still God sees us as clearly as if we stood in the bright noon-day sunshine! Darkness hides not from Him. Night shines to His eye, as brightly as day.
When we know that God loves us, there is infinite comfort in this thought of His unsleeping watchfulness. It is our Father who watches us! There ought also to be wondrous encouragement and inspiration in this consciousness.
While the Eye of divine love is looking upon us, we should always strive to be pleasing to Him in all things!
"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea — even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast! If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You!" Psalm 139:9-12
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"It is appointed for man once to die — and after that comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27
The contracting walls!
There was a mediaeval dungeon of singular construction. When the prisoner first entered it — it seemed very bright and pleasant. It had a cheerful appearance. But in three or four days, he saw that the walls, which were of iron, were slowly contracting. On oiled hinges and in silent grooves, the metal plates were ever drawing nearer and nearer to each other.
By and by the prisoner could hardly move. Then the place was too small for him to lie down in. The next day, there was only room for him to stand. Now he put his hands frantically against the iron walls to keep them from crushing him. But all was in vain. The walls silently and remorselessly closed upon him.
In the same way, your years are the walls of just such a prison. They are bright and beautiful to you. But each day the prison is contracting, its walls are narrowing around you. With every pulse-beat, the iron walls draw closer and closer around your soul.
The only refuge from this prison, is Christ. Without Christ, life means nothing but illusion and disappointment, ending in death and eternal damnation! Christ is the only door into liberty, into blessedness, into joy, into Heaven!
"For the wages of sin is death" Romans 6:23
"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved!" John 10:9
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There is nothing here, but a bit of glass
One of the most wonderful diamonds in the world is the 'Mountain of Light'. It now belongs to England, but originally came from India. The gem was put into the hands of Lord John Lawrence for safe keeping. Half unconsciously, Lord John thrust the diamond, which lay in a little box, into his waistcoat pocket. Burdened with many cares, he forgot all about the precious stone.
Six months afterward, a message came from the Queen ordering that the great jewel be sent to her at once. Then Lord John remembered that the gem had been given to him — and also his carelessness. Summoning his servant, he asked him if he had found a little parcel some months before, in one of his pockets. With great anxiety Lord John awaited the man's answer, "Yes, Sir, I found it and put it in one of your dressers." Lord John bade him to bring it, and the servant brought the little box. Fold after fold of wrappings were removed, and there lay the wondrous diamond shining like the sun.
The old servant was utterly unconscious of the immense treasure he held in his hands. "There is nothing here, but a bit of glass," he said. Then Lord John told him of its value, and most carefully was the gem guarded, until the Queen herself laid it among the jewels of her crown.
There is in the possession of each one of us, a far more precious and costly gem than the 'Mountain of Light'. What are we doing with our soul? Are we treating it as if it were of no value? Are we, like Lord John, wrapping it up in the folds of neglect and overlooking it altogether, while we are busy with other things?
"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?" Mark 8:36
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They only think of amusements and entertainments
Some people seem never to have any serious thoughts of life. They only think of amusements and entertainments, and never get beyond the airy surface of things. But to one who thinks deeply, life is not all a round of selfish and empty pleasures.
A traveler who tarried several days at Antwerp, describes the effect which the bells in the great tower had upon him. Every quarter hour they rang out on the air their sweet notes, in soft melody, which fell like a delicious rain of music dropping from the heavens, as tender and holy as the song of angels. Then at the full hour, amid their shower of liquid notes of silver — rang out the solemn strokes of the great bell, with iron tongue, deep and heavy; and these heavy tones inspired him with a feeling of awe.
As he listened, hour after hour, to the chime — the tender melody of the smaller, sweeter bells reminded him of the mercy and love of God; and the solemn undertones that broke on his ear at the end of each full hour, spoke of the solemn themes of justice, judgment, eternity.
So it is, that every thoughtful person is impressed in reading the Scriptures. Their usual tone is mercy. Love rings everywhere, like the notes of angels' songs. But here and there, amid the words of divine tenderness — comes some deep note, telling of justice, of wrath against sin, of the dreadful judgment day.
It is the same in life. The flow of the common days, is gladness. There is music everywhere. Flowers' bloom. Love lights its lamp in our path. Then suddenly there breaks in, amid the merry laughter — a deep and solemn tone, which fills us with awe.
Life is not all gaiety. Even now, its undertone is serious. We should be thoughtful. Eternity lies close to time. The momentous things of judgment, are hidden only by a thin veil of mist.
"It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27
"Prepare to meet your God!" Amos 4:12
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"Christians don't tell lies — they just go to church and sing them!" A.W. Tozer
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"Morality will keep you out of jail — but only the blood of Jesus will keep you out of Hell!" Charles Spurgeon
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Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart!
"You have placed our iniquities before You — our secret sins in the light of Your presence." Psalm 90:8
It does not take a rifle-bullet to destroy a life. Men have died from little pin-wounds.
Some shepherds once saw an eagle soar out from a crag. It flew majestically far up into the sky, but by and by became unsteady in its motions, and began to waver in its flight. At length one wing drooped and then the other, and the poor bird struggled vainly for a moment, and then fell swiftly to the ground. The shepherds sought the fallen bird, and found that a little serpent had fastened itself upon it while it rested on the crag. The eagle did not know that the serpent was there. But the reptile gnawed in through the feathers, and while the proud monarch was sweeping through the air, the serpent's fangs were thrust into its flesh, and the eagle came reeling down into the dust.
This illustrates the story of many a human life. For a time they seem quite promising; then suddenly they struggle and fall. Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart, and at last the proud life lies soiled and dishonored in the dust!
We need to be ever on our watch against these treacherous and insidious perils, these little, secret sins — which, unperceived, work death in the soul!
"Be sure your sin will find you out!" Numbers 32:23
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The mark of healthy spiritual life
"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!" Psalm 42:1-2
Hunger is a mark of health — and the lack of appetite proclaims disease. The cessation of the desire for knowledge, shows that intellectual growth has ended.
Just so in spiritual life — dissatisfaction is the token of health. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness." Blessed are the unsatisfied. Blessed are those who long for more and more. The mark of healthy spiritual life, is an intense thirst for God, and a deep, passionate yearning for closer, fuller, richer, more satisfying communion with Christ Himself. The ideal Christian life is one of insatiable thirst, of unquenchable yearning, of divine discontent — wooed ever on by visions of an increase in spiritual life, new joy, and new attainments in Christlikeness. The best thing in us, is never what we now are, nor what we have already reached — but the longing for that which is yet higher and holier.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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 3:12-14
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A welcome guest!
("A Few Sighs From Hell" or "The Groans of the Damned Soul" by that poor and contemptible servant of Jesus Christ, John Bunyan, 1658. Being an exposition of Luke 16:19-31, concerning the Rich Man and the Beggar, wherein is revealed the lamentable state of the Damned — their cries, and their desires in their distresses, with the determined judgment of God upon them. A good warning word to lost sinners, both old and young, to seek salvation by faith in Jesus Christ — lest they come into the same place of torment.)
"Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time — yet surely I know that it will be well with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God!" Ecclesiastes 8:12
Believer, it will be well with you!
Consider how safe, how sure, how happy are you!
For when others go to Hell — you must go to Heaven!
When others go to the devil — you must go to God!
When as others go to eternal prison — you must be set at liberty, and at ease!
When others must roar for sorrow of heart — you shall sing for the joy of heart!
Consider, you must have . . .
all your well-spent life to follow you — instead of all your sins;
the glorious blessings of the gospel — instead of the dreadful curses and condemnations of the law;
the blessing of the loving Father — instead of a fiery sentence from the righteous Judge.
Let death come when it will, it can do you no harm; for it will be but only a passage . . .
out of a prison — into a palace;
out of a sea of troubles — into a haven of rest;
out of a crowd of enemies — into an innumerable company of true, loving, and faithful friends;
out of shame, reproach, and contempt — into exceeding great and eternal glory!
For death shall not hurt you with his sting, nor bite you with his soul-murdering teeth; but shall be a welcome guest to you — in that it is sent to free you from your troubles which you are in, while here in this poor world.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!" Philippians 1:21"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" Philippians 1:23
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The making of Christian character
It used to be a custom for travelers in Switzerland to bring home clusters of the edelweiss. The flower is not sought because of its beauty or for its fragrance — but in recognition of its hardiness and victoriousness in living and blooming under very difficult conditions. It grows on the Alps and Pyrenees, at lofty altitudes, where almost nothing else lives, and on crags difficult of access, and is among the hardiest of all plants. Thus the edelweiss becomes the symbol of noble life which . . .
is victorious amid antagonisms,
rises superior to obstacles.
The man who has never known hardship, who never has had to practice self-denial or make a personal sacrifice — may be the envy of other men whose lives have been one continual struggle. They may think that if they could have had his easy circumstances — that they could have made a great deal more of their life. But really, their opportunities in life thus far, has been far better than his. Christian character is made in the field of struggle and hardship — not in ways of ease and luxury.
Hindrances are opportunities.
Difficulty is a school for character.
Strength is the glory of manhood. Yet it is not easy to be strong — it is easier to be weak and to drift. It is easier for the boy in school not to work hard to get his lessons — but to let them go, and then at the last depend on some other boy to help him through. It is easier, when something happens to make you irritable, just to fly into a temper and to say bitter words — than it is to keep quiet and self-controlled. It is easier, when you are with other young people, and they are about to do something that you know to be unworthy, just to go with them — than it is to say, "I cannot do this wickedness against God!" It is easier to be weak — than to be strong. But weakness never leads to mature Christian character.
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We were made to fly!
"Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles!" Isaiah 40:31
A gentleman had an eagle which had been caught when young, and brought up in a cage like a domestic bird. At length the owner was going away over the sea, and decided to give the eagle its freedom. So he brought it out of its cage, and it walked about, but seemed to have no thought whatever of flying away. The gentleman was disappointed. At length he lifted the great bird to the garden wall. It stood there a moment, and then looked up toward the sun. It seemed suddenly to remember that it was an eagle, whose home was amid the crags and the cliffs. A moment more and it lifted one wing, then the other, and was gone — soaring away into the blue of the sky!
Some of us like that eagle, shut up in the cage, using only its feet, not knowing it had wings, and that its true home was in the heavens. Let us lift up our eyes to the heavens — there is our home. We were made for God. Let us try our soul's wings; we were made to fly! It is a desecration of life to live amid the dust — when we were created for flights in the blue heavens!
"Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2
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An easy, self-indulgent life!
And Jesus was saying to them all: If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23
We cannot live a life that will please Christ — without great cost to ourselves. It is never an easy thing, to be a disciple of Christ. An easy, self-indulgent life — can never be a Christ-like life.
It was not easy for Christ to redeem sinners. From beginning to end of His earthly ministry, He poured out His own precious life. The people thronged about Him with their sins, their sorrows, and their needs — and virtue went out of Him continually to heal them, to comfort them, to feed their heart-hunger. He utterly forgot Himself — and gave His life and love without stint to every one who asked. At last He literally gave Himself, emptying out His heart's blood — to give eternal life to sinful and dead souls. His sufferings were finished, when He bowed His head on the cross.
It is now our privilege to suffer for Him — to perpetuate the self-sacrificial love of Christ on this earth. Only in so far as we do this, are we living a life that will please Him.
"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death!" Philippians 3:10
"Anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:38
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(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)
"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Psalm 23:1-3
The shepherd takes care that his sheep are well fed. Christ also feeds His people, and leads them out to find pasture.
The Bible is His pasture-land, and the pasturage there is always good. Every chapter is a field of rich grass. Some of these fields seem at first to be bare and sterile; but even in the barest — there is enough pasture to feed a hungry soul.
Then there are the pasture-fields of prayer. These lie very close to the border of Heaven. They are always up in the quiet valleys among the mountains. The Good Shepherd leads us to them through the gates of prayer. We bow down in lowly humility, and enter with Him into the green pastures, and feed our souls until their hunger is satisfied.
The church is another of our Shepherd's pasture-fields. We enter the gates of the sanctuary, and at once we find spiritual food. We find it in the preaching of the Scriptures, in the ordinances, and in the fellowship of other believers.
In our common life in this world, if we are faithfully following Christ, we are continually in fields of rich pasture. Christ never leads us into any places in which there is nothing to feed us. Even in the hot plains of trial and sorrow — there is food. We sometimes think there is only barrenness in our toilsome life, filled with temptations, cares and sacrifices; but the Good Shepherd is ever with us — and there is always pasture.
Thus the whole world is a rich field — when Jesus leads His flock. If any Christians are not well fed — it is because they will not feed. The trouble must be that they do not hunger for spiritual food.
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To eat to the glory of God
"Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatever you do — do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
Nothing in life is left out — "whatever you do." It extends even to eating and drinking. We are to do all things to the glory of God. This means that we must do everything in a way that will please Him.
To eat to the glory of God is to recognize Him as the Giver of our daily bread, to seek His blessing on it, to eat according to the divine laws, eating to be ready for the best service, and then to use all our strength in doing the work which God gives us to do.
One who eats self-indulgently or gluttonously, or who eats food that is injurious to his health, or who does not use the strength he derives from his food in living obediently — is not glorifying God. In all our life, in everything we do, we are to think of what will honor God.
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Don't worry about the package!
"No chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
Beyond the River of Sorrow, there is a Promised Land. Just so, no trial for the present seems joyous, yet afterward it leads to blessing. There are rich possibilities for good — beyond every pain and trial. There are green fields — beyond Jordan's sorrows. Our disappointments are really God's appointments, and bring rich rewards. God takes our losses — and molds them into gains for us. There is nothing really evil in the experiences of a Christian, for "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Our Father sends us nothing but good. Don't worry about the package! Be it dull or attractive — it enfolds a 'gift of love'!
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Your poor, silly sheep
(Octavius Winslow, "Daily Need Divinely Supplied" 1870)
"The Lord is my Shepherd . . . He restores my soul." Psalm 23:1, 3.
It is not the least important duty of the Shepherd to go in quest of the stray ones of the flock; the fickle sheep wandering from the fold.
The spiritual history of the believer is a history . . .
of declension — and revival,
of departure — and return,
of his backsliding — and of the Savior's restoring.
The regenerate soul is bent upon backsliding from the Lord. The sun does not more naturally decline, than does the believing heart wander from God.
"O Lord, how many and hidden are my soul's departures from You, You only know! How often my love chills, my faith droops, my zeal flags, and I grow weary, and am ready to halt in Your service. Mine is a sinful, roving heart, as fickle to You as the changing wind; as false to my vows as a broken bow. But You, O Lord, are my Shepherd, and You restore my soul. Pitying my infirmity, knowing my wanderings, and tracking all my steps — You recover, heal, and pardon Your poor, silly sheep, prone to leave Your wounded, sheltering side in quest of that which can be found in Yourself alone."
Oh, the love of Jesus in . . .
curbing our waywardness,
checking our wanderings,
arresting, healing, and restoring our souls.
He never forsakes His people, though they forsake Him times without number. How can He turn His back upon one bought with His sufferings, groans, and tears? How can He forsake the work of grace wrought in the soul by His Spirit? He may withdraw Himself for a time, gently to awaken us from our slothfulness and slumber — yet He returns again, and our lips gratefully sing, "He restores my soul."
"I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you!" Hebrews 13:5
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood!
O to grace how great a debtor,
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above!
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood-washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace!
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The happiness of Heaven
(Thomas Sherman, "Divine Breathings; Or, a Pious Soul Thirsting after Christ")
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9
The vessel of our soul is too capacious to be filled with all the pleasures and delights the world put together. But hereafter, our pleasures and delights shall be too great for the most capacious vessel to hold! Our glory shall be so great, that power as well as goodness, shall be given by God Himself, to renew and enlarge these vessels, that they may be capable of receiving and retaining that glory. Strength and love shall go forth together, to prepare and elevate our dispositions, that they may be suitable for such a transcendent and exalted state!
At present, we are too weak to bear such a weight of glory; therefore God will immortalize us — that we may be able to sustain it! And because our eternal joys cannot fully enter into us while in this world — we shall fully enter into them in heaven.
What fool would place only a few drops of carnal pleasures into so large a vessel as the soul — and neglect the spring, or rather the ocean of unspeakable bliss, and everlasting glory!
O my soul, what a glorious day is coming, when the vessels of mercy shall be cast into the ocean of mercy, and be filled to the very brim with divine mercy! Then the soul that is love-sick for Jesus — shall lie in the bosom of divine love, and forever be satisfied with unfathomable love! Then the children of God shall have a full fruition of God, and be forever satisfied with the presence of God! The joy of His glorious presence, the fullness of His joy, the sweetness of this fullness, the eternity of this sweetness — the heart of man can never adequately comprehend.
Lord, let the glory which you have prepared for me — turn my soul from the vanities of earth!
"You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11
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Sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly
(Thomas Watson, "Body of Divinity")
See the evil effects of sin!
Sin has degraded us of our honor. God made us in His own image — but sin has debased us. Sin has plucked off our coat of innocence, and now it has debased us, and turned our glory into shame.
Sin disquiets the peace of the soul. "But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud." "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked." Isaiah 57:20-21. Whatever defiles, disturbs. As poison corrupts the blood — so sin corrupts the soul. Sin breeds a trembling at the heart; it creates fears, and there is "torment in fear." Sin makes sad convulsions in the conscience. Judas was so terrified with guilt and horror, that he hanged himself to quiet his conscience. In order to ease his conscience — he threw himself into Hell.
Sin produces all temporal evil. It is the Trojan Horse, which has sword, and famine and pestilence, in its belly. Sin is a coal, which not only blackens — but burns! Sin creates all our troubles; it puts gravel into our bread, and wormwood in our cup. Sin rots the name, consumes the estate, and buries loved ones.
Sin unrepented of, brings final damnation. The canker which breeds in the rose is the cause of its perishing; just so — the corruptions which breed in men's souls are the cause of their damning. Sin's pleasure will turn to sorrow at last; like the book the prophet ate — sin is sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly. Sin brings the wrath of God — and what tears can quench that fire?
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The godly man's crosses, losses and sorrows
(Charles Spurgeon, "Treasury of David")
"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does shall prosper." Psalm 1:3
Blessed is the man who has such a promise as this! But we must not always estimate the fulfillment of a promise — by our own eye sight. How often, my brethren, if we judge by feeble sense, may we come to the mournful conclusion of Jacob, "All these things are against me!" For though we know our interest in the promise, yet we are so tried and troubled — that sight sees the very reverse of what that promise foretells. But to the 'eye of faith' this word is sure, and by it we perceive that we are prospered, even when everything seems to go against us.
It is not outward prosperity which the Christian most desires and values; it is soul prosperity which he longs for. Even in adversity, there is a true prospering, for it is often for the soul's health — that we would be poor, afflicted and tried. Our worst things — are often our best things! As there is a curse wrapped up in the wicked man's mercies — so there is a blessing concealed in the godly man's crosses, losses and sorrows. The trials of the saint are a divine husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.
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These constant, inevitable, and lesser evils
Remember that life is not entirely made up of great evils or heavy trials. The perpetual recurrence of petty evils and small trials is the ordinary and appointed way to mature our Christian graces. To bear with the moodiness of those about us, with their infirmities, their bad judgments, their perverse tempers; to endure neglect where we feel we have deserved attention, and ingratitude where we expected thanks — to bear with the whole company of disagreeable people whom Divine Providence has placed in our way, and whom God has perhaps provided on purpose for the trial of our virtues — these are the best exercises for our graces; and the better because not chosen by ourselves. To meekly bear with . . .
continual vexations in our homes,
disappointments in our expectations,
interruptions in our times of rest,
the follies, intrusions, and disturbances of others;
in short, to meekly bear with whatever opposes our will and contradicts our desires — is the very essence of self-denial. These constant, inevitable, and lesser evils, properly improved, furnish the best moral discipline for the Christian.
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They will never perish — ever!
(James Smith, "Food for the Soul" 1867)
"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28
Jesus here speaks . . .
of His sheep,
of those whom the Father had given Him,
of those whom the Father drew unto Him,
of those for whom He died,
of those who sit at His feet to learn of Him.
Jesus loves His sheep.
Jesus laid down His life for His sheep.
Jesus lives to take care of His sheep.
Jesus will never, on any account, part with His sheep.
He can guard them, and He will surely keep them.
Whoever may perish — they never shall.
His Father will not permit it.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit will prevent it.
The love, power, and honor of Jesus combine to render it impossible!
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My object and aim
My object is to lead the mind . . .
from SELF — to Jesus;
from sin — to salvation;
from the troubles of life — to the comforts of the gospel.
My aim is . . .
to humble the sinner — and exalt the Savior;
to strip the creature — and place the crown
on the head of God's free grace!
I cannot ascribe too much to Jesus — or too little to man!
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(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)
"And when Zacharias saw the angel, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him." Luke 1:12
Yet the angel had come on an 'errand of love' — he had come to announce to Zacharias tidings which would fill his heart with great joy. It is often so. All through the Bible, we find that people were afraid of God's angels. Their very glory startled and terrified those to whom they appeared.
It is ofttimes the same with us. When God's messengers come to us on errands of grace and peace — we are terrified, as if they were the messengers of wrath!
Angels do not appear to us in these days, in their heavenly garb. Yet they come no less really and no less frequently than in the Bible days; but they wear other and various forms. Sometimes they appear in robes of gladness and light — but ofttimes they come in dark garments. Yet our faith in our Father's love, should make us confident that every messenger that He sends to us, whatever the garb — brings something good to us.
The things which we call trials and adversities — are really God's angels, though they seem terrible to us. If we will only quiet our hearts and wait, we shall find that they are messengers from Heaven, and that they have brought blessings to us from God. They have come to tell us of some new joy that is to be granted — some spiritual joy, perhaps, to be born of earthly sorrow; some strange and sweet surprise of love which is waiting for us.
We need to learn to trust God so perfectly, that no 'messenger' He ever sends shall alarm us!
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We are lifted up in the arms of omnipotence
"There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother!" Proverbs 18:24
God helps and blesses us through our friendships, but these are meant only to draw us up to Himself. Jesus is the only man in whom we can have eternal trust. All other friendships are only shadows — His is the perfect friendship.
Behind the sweet, gentle, human qualities in Jesus which make it so easy for us to come to Him and rest in Him — is the power of the eternal God. When we come to His precious human love, for which our hearts crave and which seems so satisfying — we know that His infinite, divine fullness lies behind the tender warmth of the Son of God. His humanity comes very close to us, and we only need to lay our heads upon its bosom. Then when we lean on Him, we are lifted up in the arms of omnipotence.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!" Isaiah 9:6
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Worry — or preparation?
There is a large difference between worrying about possible future trials — and being prepared for them if they should come. The former we should never do — the latter we should always seek to do. If we do, we are always prepared . . .
for the hard knocks,
for the steep climbing,
for the sore struggle —
and we get through life victoriously.
In moral and spiritual things, it is the same. It is our preparation which preserves us in all the final tests — the strength which lies behind what we need in ordinary encounters. Those who daily commune with God, breathing His life into their souls — become strong with that hidden strength that preserves them from falling in the day of trial. They have a "vessel" from which to refill the lamp when its little cup of oil is exhausted.
"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34
"Prepared for every good work." 2 Timothy 2:21
"Be prepared in season and out of season" 2 Timothy 4:2
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action!" 1 Peter 1:13
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"Hide yourself by the brook Cherith" 1 Kings 17:3
God's servants must be taught the value of the hidden life. The man who is to take a high place before his fellows — must take a low place before his God. We must not be surprised if sometimes our Father says: "There, child, you have had enough of this hurry, and publicity, and excitement; get hence, and hide yourself by the brook — hide yourself . . .
in the Cherith of the sick chamber, or
in the Cherith of bereavement, or
in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away."
Happy is he who can reply, "This Your will is also mine; I flee unto You to hide me. Hide me in the secret of Your tabernacle, and beneath the covert of Your wings!"
Every saintly soul who would wield great power with men, must win it in some hidden Cherith. The acquisition of spiritual power is impossible, unless we can hide ourselves from men and from ourselves, in some deep gorge where we may absorb the power of the eternal God; as vegetation through long ages absorbed these qualities of sunshine, which it now gives back through burning coal.
Passing back to the blessed age from which we date the centuries: Patmos; the seclusion of the Roman prisons; the Arabian desert; the hills and valleys of Palestine — are forever memorable as the holy Cheriths of the new testament disciples.
Our Lord found His Cheriths at Nazareth; in the wilderness of Judea; amid the olive groves of Bethany; and the solitude of Gadara.
None of us, therefore, can dispense with some Cherith, where the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness, which are fed from the throne of God; and where we may taste the sweets and imbibe the power of a life hidden with Christ.
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Let us make thorough work of it!
(James Smith, "The Early and the Latter Rain" 1856)
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life!" Psalm 139:23-24
Let us commence the work of self-examination at once, and let us be impartial in the work . . .
sparing no sin,
tampering with no lust,
listening to no temptation!
And let us make thorough work of it! Let every sin we detect be confessed over the blood of atonement; let us . . .
grieve over it,
seek the pardon of it, and
pray for grace at once to depart from it!
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The chosen pleasure-ground of our souls!
(Henry Law, "Family Prayers")
O God of patience and consolation, glory be to You for this throne of grace. Make it ever to us — the chosen pleasure-ground of our souls. May it be the fortress to which continually we flee. Here may we obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Here may we see by faith, Your reconciled smile. Here may we rejoice to plead the name of Jesus. Here may we . . .
sharpen the sword of the Spirit,
anoint the shield of faith, and
put on the helmet of salvation.
By prayer also, may we gather supplies of heavenly manna — even the precious nourishment of Your Word. Thus may we be strengthened for each conflict, nerved for our upward race, and empowered for more than conquest over every foe. We know that Christ is the open channel for all blessings to descend upon us. Help us to beg, until the sluices of mercy widely open, and our souls are so replenished that there shall be no room to receive more.
We marvel at our cruel folly, that when such enriching favors are within our reach — that we are so slow to extend the hand to take them! Have compassion on our deadness for Your great name's sake. Quicken us, arouse us, stir us up, fill us with holy zeal, put strength into us — that we may strive with You, and refuse to let You go. It is Your glory to be vanquished by the power of prayer. May Your Spirit within us, wrest all spiritual blessings from Your yielding hands!