Grace Gems for OCTOBER 2013

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He always gives sufficient grace

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

"Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves! About three o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them, walking on the water!" Matthew 14:24-25

God adapts His grace to the peculiarities of each of His children's necessity. For rough, flinty paths He provides shoes of iron. He never sends anyone to climb steep, sharp, rugged mountainsides wearing silken slippers. He always gives sufficient grace.

As the burdens grow heavier His strength increases.
As the difficulties thicken He draws closer.
As the trials become sorer the trusting heart grows calmer.

Jesus always sees His disciples when they are toiling in the waves, and at the right moment comes to deliver them. The sharper the temptations the more of Divine grace is granted. There is, therefore, no environment of trial or difficulty or hardship in which we cannot live beautiful lives of Christian fidelity and holy conduct.

"My grace is sufficient for you!" 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Death to the Christian!

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

"They are without fault before the throne of God!" Revelation 14:5

Death to the Christian
, only . . .
  washes out all his sins and stains,
  shatters the crust of his mortality,
  sweeps away all his moral spots, blots, infirmities, weaknesses, follies, limitations and blemishes
and then life expands into perfect freedom, fullness, joy, and power.

The translation of a Christian from earth to Heaven, is but like the removal of a tender plant from a frigid northern garden, where it is stunted and dying into a tropical field, where it puts out most luxurious growth and covers itself with splendor!

"In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore!" Psalm 16:11

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Broken, trampled, torn!

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

Life may seem a failure here, crushed like a lily under the heel of wrong or sin broken, trampled, torn! But it may yet become a glorious success. Many of the truest and best of God's children, know only defeat in this world. They are ever beaten back and thrust down. The burdens are too heavy for them. They are overmastered by sorrows. The world's enmity treads them in the dust. They are not worldly wise, and, while others march by to great earthly success they live obscurely oppressed, cheated, wronged, and lie buried away in the darkness of failure.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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How can I avoid the annoyances which continually harass me?

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

The true victory is not found in escaping or evading trials but in rightly meeting and enduring them.

The questions should not be, "How can I get out of these trials? How can I get into a place where there shall be no irritations, nothing to try my temper, or put my patience to the test? How can I avoid the annoyances which continually harass me?"

There is nothing noble in such living. The soldier who flees when he smells the battle is no hero; he is a coward.

The questions should rather be: "How can I pass through these trying experiences and not fail as a Christian? How can I endure these struggles and not suffer defeat? How can I live amid these provocations, these reproaches and testings of my temper and yet live sweetly, not speaking harshly, bearing injuries meekly, returning gentle answers to insulting words?"

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14

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The devil has two places he dwells in

(Thomas Watson, "Doctrine of Repentance")

"I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and humble in spirit" Isaiah 57:15

As God has two places He dwells in Heaven and a humble heart;
so the devil has two places he dwells in Hell and a hard heart!

A hard heart is a dwelling for Satan!

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The sweeping away of our earthly hopes!

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!" Deuteronomy 33:27

"You are my refuge my portion in the land of the living!" Psalm 142:5

Often we do not learn the depth and riches of God's love, and the sweetness of His presence until our earthly joys vanish out of our hands, and other beloved presences fade away out of sight.

The loss of temporal things seems often to be necessary to empty our hearts that they may receive unseen and eternal realities. The heart's door is never fully opened to Him until the soul's worldly joys are removed; then, while it stands open, He enters bearing into it immortal joys!

How often is it true, that the sweeping away of our earthly hopes reveals the glory of our heart's refuge in God! Someone has beautifully said, "Our refuges are like the nests of birds: in summer they are hidden among the green leaves but in winter they are seen among the bare branches." Worldly losses but strip off the foliage, and disclose to us our heart's warm nest in the bosom of God!

"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble!" Psalm 9:9

"God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble!" Psalm 46:1

"You are my strong refuge!" Psalm 71:7

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Silently entwining their invisible threads into a cable!

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

"Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22

We do many things which to our own eyes appear innocent and harmless but which have in them a hidden evil we cannot see.

We indulge ourselves in many things which to us do not appear overtly sinful but which leave on our soul a touch of blight, a soiling of purity, of which we do not dream.

We permit ourselves many little habits in which we see no danger but which are silently entwining their invisible threads into a cable which some day shall bind us hand and foot!

We spare ourselves self-denials and sacrifices, thinking there is no reason why we should make them unaware that we are lowering our standard of holy living and permitting the subtle beginnings of self-indulgence to creep into our hearts.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31

[Editor's note: Christians today are in great danger of allowing the world's sinful media and entertainments into our minds and hearts!]

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He will sustain us so that we may carry it!

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

"Cast your burden on the LORD and He shall sustain you" Psalm 55:22

The promise is not that the Lord will remove the load we cast upon Him, nor that He will carry it for us but that He will sustain us so that we may carry it!

He does not free us from duty but He strengthens us for it.

He does not deliver us from conflict but He enables us to overcome.

He does not withhold or withdraw trial from us but He helps us in trial to be submissive and victorious, and makes it a blessing to us.

He does not mitigate the hardness or severity of our circumstances, taking away the difficult elements, removing the thorns, making life easy for us but He puts Divine grace into our hearts, so that we can live sweetly in all the hard, adverse circumstances!

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness!" 2 Corinthians 12:9

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This lesson makes life easy and simple!

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

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

Each day is, in a certain sense, a complete life by itself. It has . . .
  its own duties,
  its own trials,
  its own burdens,
  and its own needs.
It has enough to fill heart and hands for the one full day. The very best we can do for any day, for the perfecting of our life as a whole, is to live the one day well. We should put all our thought and energy and skill into the duties of each day, wasting no strength, either in grieving over yesterday's failures or in anxiety about tomorrow's responsibilities.

We have nothing to do with life in the aggregate that great bulk of duties, responsibilities, struggles, and trials which belong to a course of years. We really have nothing to do even with the nearest of the days before us tomorrow.

Our sole business is with the one little day, now passing. Its burdens will not crush us we can easily carry them until the sun goes down. We can always get along for one short day it is the projection of life into the long future that dismays and appalls us. This lesson makes life easy and simple!

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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It is better to be deaf!

(J.R. Miller)

"Whoever spreads slander is a fool!" Proverbs 10:18

In the case of slander, the listener is almost as bad as the speaker. The only proper response, is to shut your ears the moment you begin to hear an evil report of another from anyone. The person has no right to tell it to you and you have no right to listen to it! If you refuse to listen he will not be able to go on with his story. Ears are made to hear with, but on occasion it is better to be deaf. We all aim at courtesy, and courtesy requires that we be patient listeners, even to dull speakers; but even courtesy does not require us to listen to evil reports about a neighbor. Ears should be trained to shut instinctively when the breath of slander touches it, just as our eyes shut at the slightest approach of harm.

"He who speaks a slander, carries the devil on his tongue and he who listens to it, carries the devil in his ear!" Thomas Watson

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Abounding grace!

(Albert Simpson, 1843-1919)

"Where sin abounded grace abounded much more!" Romans 5:20

God loves to take the worst of men and make them into the most magnificent monuments of His redeeming love and grace! He loves to take the victims of Satan's hate and the most fearful examples of his power to destroy and use them to illustrate His divine mercy.

He loves to take the things in our own lives that have been the worst and the most vile and to transform them so that we shall be the opposites of our former selves.
The sweetest spirits are made from the most stormy and self-willed;
the mightiest faith is created out of the wilderness of doubts and fears;
the divinest love is transformed out of stony hearts of hate and selfishness!

The grace of God is equal to the most uncongenial temperaments and to the most unfavorable circumstances. Its glory is to transform a vile sinner into a holy saint, and show to men and angels of ages yet to come, that where sin abounded grace abounded much more!

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There will be no night there!

(Rufus Wheelwright Clark, "Heaven and its Scriptural Emblems" 1853)

"There will be no night there!" Revelation 21:25

Is it not a blessed announcement that there is a world in which "there will be no night!"
No night of crime, deceit, treachery or temptation!
No night of sorrow or affliction!
No night of pain, sickness or death!

Oh, tell it to the weary believer, who is struggling against the evil habits and depraved inclinations of a wicked heart; who, on life's fierce battlefield, is striving to win an immortal crown!

Oh, tell it to the dying Christian, who, restless upon his bed, through long, wearisome nights, is trying to learn the lessons of submission, and faith, and moral discipline, which his sufferings are teaching who longs for light to break through the dark clouds that are gathering about him.

Oh, hasten with the tidings to the bereaved family, and assure them that there is a world where these griefs shall be lifted from their oppressed spirits, and their present afflictions, if rightly improved, shall work out of them "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!"

For where God is there can be no night.
Where bright, holy angels throng there can be no sorrow.
Where celestial music rolls through the galleries and arches of temples filled with the effulgence of the Deity there can be no sighing.
Where Jesus reigns in His majesty and glory, "all tears shall be wiped away!"

No night in Heaven! Then . . .
  no sad partings are experienced there,
  no funeral processions move,
  no death-knell is heard,
  no graves are opened,
  no mysterious providences will there perplex us,
  no dark calamities will shake our faith.
But we shall walk the golden streets of the eternal city, surrounded with perpetual brightness, breathing an atmosphere of heavenly purity and love, and free to enter the palaces of our Savior-King, or climb to heights over which no shadow ever passes!

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What sorrow, what sweetness, what glory!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29

What sorrow, what sweetness, what glory encircle the head of the Lamb of God!

1. He is the Lamb of Sacrifice. "His blood so red for me was shed!" Priest as well as Victim, Shepherd as well as Lamb He offered Himself in my place, without spot and blemish. He assumed my misery, and reaped the harvest I had sown a mournful harvest of guilt and woe! His unsullied and stainless life, He gave freely, cheerfully for my forfeited and outcast and ruined life! Oh, how He loves me!

2. He is the Lamb of Deliverance. I remember that ancient type of my Redeemer and Lord the Lamb of the Passover. It was slain, and its life-blood was sprinkled on the door-post and the family within was safe. The dark-winged angel of death with the sharp sword in his hand, had no condemnation for them. In the same way, behind the merit and the grace, the atonement and the intercession and the human-divine Person of Jesus I take my stand, and I am free from condemnation!

3. He is the Lamb of whitest Purity. There is no spot in Him; He is altogether lovely. And, as I abide with Him, as I meditate on Him, as I love and trust in Him . . .
  old things pass away with me;
  I grow in grace;
  the meekness and the patience and the beauty of God's Lamb begin to be seen in my life;
  and upward and heavenward and Christward I mount!

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There are many crosses, and every one of them is sore and heavy!

(Alexander Smellie, "In the Hour of Silence")

"Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me!" Mark 8:34

The cross which my Lord bids me take up and carry, may assume different shapes.

There are many crosses, and every one of them is sore and heavy. None of them is likely to be sought out by me of my own accord. But never is Jesus so near me as when I lift my cross, and lay it submissively on my shoulder, and give it the welcome of a patient and unmurmuring spirit. He draws close . . .
  to ripen my wisdom,
  to deepen my peace,
  to increase my courage,
  to augment my graces,
through the very experience which is so grievous and distressing.

And then, I grow closer to Jesus under the load.

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Though we have been robbers, traitors and murderers!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Then cried they all again, saying: Not this man, but Barabbas!" John 18:40

Barabbas was a murderer, a felon, and a traitor. This fact is very significant. There is more teaching in it than at first sight we might imagine. Have we not here in this act of the deliverance of the sinner, and the binding of the innocent a sort of type of that great work which is accomplished by the death of our Savior?

You and I may fairly take our stand by the side of Barabbas. We have robbed God of His glory; we have been seditious traitors against the government of Heaven; and if he who hates his brother is a murderer then we also have been guilty of that sin. Here we stand before the judgment seat; the Prince of life is bound for us and we are allowed to go free! The Lord delivers us and acquits us while the Savior, without spot or blemish, or shadow of a fault, is led forth to crucifixion!

Two birds were taken in the rite of the cleansing of the leper. The one bird was killed, and its blood was poured into a basin. The other bird was dipped in this blood, and then, with its wings all crimson, it was set free to fly into the open field.

The bird slain well pictures the Savior, and every soul that has by faith been dipped in His blood, flies upward towards Heaven singing sweetly in joyous liberty, owing its life and its liberty entirely to Him who was slain!

It comes down to this: Barabbas must die or Christ must die. You the sinner must perish or Christ Immanuel, the Immaculate, must die. He dies that we may be delivered!

Though we have been robbers, traitors and murderers yet we can rejoice that Christ has delivered us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us!

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I see a Cross on the Hill of Reproach!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"God is Love!" 1 John 4:8

It is a little flower which I pluck from the garden of John's letter this fragrant definition of God. Yet it suggests mysteries and miracles for which my intellect has no solution.

For it carries me away into the dateless years of eternity. Always Love has been God's name; always Love has summarized and crowned God's nature. Deep in His heart it lay through these far-off years. But, even then, it cared for me, and foresaw my sin and bitterness and death and damnation. Long before my world was made, God, who is Love, was busy devising my salvation!

I look again at John's rose-blossom, and I see a Cross on the Hill of Reproach. Love could not remain pent up in the bosom of God. It broke the confining barriers. "The God of love," Plato said with unconscious prophecy, "would be found one day lying on the city streets, shoeless, penniless, homeless." It is true of my God. He gave Himself for me! He became, in this apostle's phrase, the atoning sacrifice for my sins!

Again I lift John's flower, and it awakens in me a glowing hope for myself. There is none so wondrous and powerful as this God of love. I welcome Him and . . .
  my heart is transfigured,
  my life is sublimed,
  I am changed into His image,
  I dwell myself in love,
  love becomes my atmosphere and my universe.

God is Love . . .
  Love indwelling me,
  Love sacrificing and suffering for me,
  Love melting and conquering me, and making all things new.

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LOST!

(Arthur Pink, 1951)

"But if our gospel is hid it is hid to those who are LOST! The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers!" 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

What multitudes of people there are who have no concern over, in fact, no consciousness of, their woeful condition! While they do not regard themselves as perfect, yet they are not aware that there is anything seriously wrong with them. They are respectable people, law-abiding citizens, and nothing particular ever troubles their conscience. They consider that they are certainly no worse than their religious neighbors, and though they scarcely ever read the Bible or enter a church, they fully expect to go to Heaven when they die.

Some of them will indeed admit that they are sinners, but imagine that their good works far outnumber their bad ones. Some of them were sprinkled as infants, attended a Sunday school class as children, said their prayers each night, and later joined the church. Nevertheless, to this moment, they have never realized that they are the enemies of God, an abomination in the eyes of His holiness, and that Hell is their just deserts! They see no beauty or glory in the Gospel, no suitableness in it unto their case, and therefore do they despise and reject it.

Though Satan rules in their hearts and lives (Ephesians 2:2), yet it is by their own free consent. They voluntarily obey him and submit to his will. His dominion over them is maintained by . . .
  keeping their minds in darkness,
  deceiving and deluding them,
  blinding them by pride, prejudice, and the workings of their own corruptions.

Nowhere but in the Scriptures, can we learn what is the real condition of the natural man. There his case is diagnosed with unerring precision by the divine Physician. Many are the terms used therein by the Holy Spirit to describe the solemn and direful state to which the fall has reduced every descendant of Adam; and among them probably none is more pointed and awesome than is the term LOST! How dismal is its sound! How much is summed up in that single word! It signifies . . .
  that the natural man is in a sinful, wretched, and perilous state,
  that he is far astray from God,
  that he has willfully and wantonly forsaken the path of duty.

Lost! A traveler from time to eternity, treading the road that leads to certain and everlasting destruction!

Lost! A creature who has forfeited the approbation and favor of his Maker, and is now an outcast from Him!

Lost! One who has squandered his substance in riotous living, and is now a spiritual bankrupt and pauper. He is out of the way of peace and blessing, and utterly incapable of finding his way back to it!

Fearful beyond words, is the condition of fallen man. His case is as hopeless as that of a dying person whose disease is incurable. A lost child is a pitiful object but what mind can estimate or pen depict the tragedy of a lost soul? Lost now, lost forever unless a sovereign God intervenes and performs a miracle of mercy for its recovery!

Man is lost positively, in that he is not what he should be. He is . . .
  a defiled creature,
  a guilty criminal,
  a child of disobedience!

Lost judicially, under the curse of God's broken Law, sentenced to death, "condemned already" (John 3:18), the wrath of God abiding on him! (John 3:36)

Lost meritoriously, for his transgressions deserve eternal death, which is the wages of sin and fully has he earned them.

Lost experientially in point of ability or power to recover himself, he is "not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can he be" (Romans 8:7). The moral impotency of man is such that he is utterly incapable of performing a single spiritual act: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil! (Jeremiah 13:23)

None will know how utterly man is lost, until they experience God's wrath in Hell, and can then measure the fearful distance they have departed from Him!

Thus man is lost in every way, and in every sense!
Federally, by the imputation to him of the guilt of his representative's offence.
Effectually, by the transmission of a corrupt nature from his parents.
Actually, by his own evil conduct, "you have destroyed yourself" (Hosea 13:9).
Practically, by the forming of evil habits, so that now he is "held with the cords of his sins" (Proverbs 5:22).

Lost to God, for He has no love, no service, no glory from the unregenerate, so that they deprive Him of the honor of their creation.

Man is lost to himself . . .
  to all reason and rational inducements,
  to right conceptions and perceptions,
  to every consideration of God's claims upon him.

Lost to all sense of shame for his horrible condition in the eyes of the Holy One.

So lost as to have "delight in wickedness" (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

Lost to piety and true happiness.

Out of the way of holiness, peace, and security.

Lost in sin, in ignorance, and error.

Lost irretrievably, like a sheep that wanders farther and farther astray, until it perishes. Man is utterly unable to find his way back to God, for he is in total darkness a wanderer in a pathless desert, perishing in a howling wilderness. What makes man's case yet worse, is that he has no desire to be recovered! He has perversely set himself up to be his own master, and stubbornly determines to please himself and carve out his own career.
 

Rather than return unto God, the unregenerate would take any road which leads farther away from Him. They resent His expostulations and resist the strivings of His Spirit. If not with their lips, with their hearts, they say unto God: "Depart from us for we have no desire to know Your ways!" (Job 21:14). Yes, they would much prefer to be annihilated than yet meet God face to face, and have to give an account of themselves to Him (Romans 14:12). They hate His holiness and dread His justice, while despising His goodness and abusing His mercies!

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This is too hard for me!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place: Jehovah-Jireh the Lord will provide!" Genesis 22:13-14

And what does He provide?

The Lord will provide BREAD when I am hungry. It seems natural to begin there. He has a care for my body as well as for my soul. He is certainly not desirous that I should have wealth or distinction or the means of indulgence and display. But, if I trust Him, I shall get enough for comfort if not enough for plenty; enough to rid me from unworthy worry if not enough to free me from wholesome dependence and continuous faith. Every modest and present need, He is sure to satisfy.

The Lord will provide HELP when I am helpless. Is it the discipline of my own inner life? Is it to escape this enticing world? I am sufficient for none of these things.
Sometimes my road is rough,
sometimes it is steep,
sometimes it is dark,
sometimes it is slippery.
My heart whispers discouragement, and says, "This is too hard for me!" But, when I come to the place, I find that God Himself has solved my difficulties, and puts to flight my fears!

Best of all, my Lord will provide SALVATION when I am burdened with sin. It was a lamb for sacrifice which Jehovah-Jireh prepared on the bare summit of Moriah. And in fullness of time, on the green hill of Calvary, close beside mount Moriah a better Lamb died by divine appointment and made reconciliation for my iniquity! In the presence of such a sacrifice, how full my joy should be! Jesus, the precious Lamb of God . . .
  breaks every fetter,
  unbars every door,
  forgives every debt!

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Heaven has become a trifle to you, Hell is almost a jest, eternity an empty notion, and death but a bugbear!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able!" Luke 13:24

I do not wonder that so many are deceived, when I see the careless way in which they deal with their souls. When men have to do with their estates, they are very careful; they pay a lawyer to go back over the title-deeds perhaps for two or three hundred years. In trade they will hurry hither and thither to attend to their commercial engagements; they would not launch into speculations, nor would they run great risks.

But the soul, the poor soul how men play with it as a toy, and despise it as if it were worthless! Two or three minutes in the morning when they first roll out of bed, two or three odd minutes in the evening, when they are nearly asleep the fag-ends of the day given to their souls, and all the best part given to the body!

And then, with what indifference do you lend your ears too often to the preaching of the Word! It is an old song; you have heard it so many times; Heaven has become a trifle to you, Hell is almost a jest, eternity an empty notion, and death but a bugbear!

Alas! it is a marvel that there are not more deceived. The wonder is that any find the gate, that any discover eternal life, when we are so, so mad, so foolish, so insane as to trifle where we ought to be solemnly in earnest; and to play and toy where the whole heart should be given to a work of such everlasting importance. God help us, since it is so easy to be deceived to search, and watch, and look, and test, and try, that we be not found castaways at the last!

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it!" Matthew 7:13-14

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2 Corinthians 13:5

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Ah, life is too solemn, too momentous, too earnest!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"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

1. Mine be the Pauline oblivion of the past. It is well to forget the things which are behind. If I remember too vividly former failures the recollection will depress my soul and hamper my movements. If I remember too often former attainments I shall grow contented and make no further progress. There is a tyranny of success as hurtful as the tyranny of defeat. And if I remember too constantly the modes of my religion hitherto, I shall look simply for a repetition of old experiences, instead of desiring greater achievements. Yes, let me forget.

2. And mine be the Pauline aspiration towards the future. Like the runner in the chariot race, I should stretch forward to the things which are before me. In front of me lie . . .
  a fuller holiness,
  a larger likeness to Christ,
  a deeper humility,
  a more wide-reaching usefulness,
  victory over sin and death,
  abundant entrance into Heaven,
  and eternal glory yet to be revealed.
These things I must seek with the intensity which . . .
  the man of the world carries into his business,
  the scholar into his studies,
  the explorer into his journeys and toils.

3. And mine be the Pauline endeavor in the present. Always let me be pressing toward the mark for the prize. Some sin I ought to put off every day; some Christian grace or virtue I ought daily to put on. I must open my soul more absolutely to the Holy Spirit. Each hour must bring . . .
  its work and its battle,
  its duty to be done,
  its prize to be gained.

Ah, life is too solemn, too momentous, too earnest!

By forgetfulness, by expectation, by effort . . .
  I grow in Christlikeness,
  I make progress in the pilgrim march,
  I climb nearer and nearer the summits of God's snow-white Alps of purity and holiness.

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There is no such thing as "chance," "luck," or "accident"

(Don Fortner)

"But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered! Fear not therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows." Luke 12:7

With these words, our Lord Jesus Christ assures us that none of God's elect shall ever be in any real danger or suffer any real harm, for we are under the special care and protection of God Himself. I see six things in this sentence, which are a constant source of peace and encouragement to my soul.

1. The Blessed Fact of Divine Predestination
The text might be better translated "the very hairs of your head have all been numbered." Before the world began, our heavenly Father counted up and ordained the number of hairs that were to be upon your head at this very moment! This is meticulous predestination. What does it tell us? God's sovereign purpose of grace in predestination, includes all that we do and all that we experience.

2. A Comforting Assurance of Divine Providence
The primary intent of the text is to show us our Father's constant rule of all things. The sparrow cannot fall to the ground, and a hair cannot fall from your head without your Father's eternal decree in predestination, and His direction in providence.

3. Our Heavenly Father's Perfect Knowledge of All Things Concerning Us
Our God, who predestined all things and rules all things knows all things! We are so well known by God, that He has even numbered the hairs of our heads. "Your Father knows." We need no other comfort. The Lord's knowledge of us is constant and entire. His knowledge of us is the knowledge of a tender, sympathetic Father.

4. Our Father's Constant Care
He who takes the trouble to number the hairs of our heads, must surely care for us. We are the apple of His eye. Cast all your care upon Him. "He cares for you!"

5. The Honor and High Esteem our God has for His Elect
God has numbered our hairs because He values them. He holds us in honor and high esteem above all the people of the world, because of His gracious purpose toward us in Christ, because He has made us one with His darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 43:3-5; 1 John 4:9-11).

6. The Promise of Divine Protection
The hairs of our head are all numbered, because our God intends that "Not a hair of your head shall perish!" Trials are certain. Temptations are sure. Tribulations are constant in this world. But there is no cause for fear. "The very hairs of your head are all numbered!"

Nothing whatever, whether great or small, can happen to one of God's elect without God's decree and direction. The providential government of our great God over everything in this world, is a truth which is clearly revealed and constantly taught in the Word of God. Just as the telescope and microscope show us that there is order and design in all the works of God's hand, from the greatest planet down to the least insect so the Book of God teaches us that there is an infinite wisdom, Divine order, and gracious design in all the events of our daily lives. There is no such thing as "chance," "luck," or "accident" in God's creation, or in our journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God, our heavenly Father. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

Let us seek to have an abiding sense of God's hand in all our affairs. Our Father's hand measures out our daily portion. All our steps are ordered by Him who loves us with an everlasting love. Confidence in God's wise and good providence, is a mighty antidote against murmuring and discontent. In the day of trial and disappointment, as in the day of joy and happiness all is right and all is well done. When we are laid on the bed of sickness, there is a "needs be" for it. Else, it would not come to pass. Because it comes to pass, the very fact that it comes to pass should assure us that it is for our souls' advantage. Let us bow and be still, and bear all things patiently. Ours is "an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure" (2 Samuel 23:5). That which pleases our God, ought to please us. Truly, "He has done all things well!" And He will yet do all things well.


  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Your present trial

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

All things? Yes! Everything that happens to the Christian is directed and overruled by God's special Providence for his good! The experience may be very bitter it may lay him very low and try him to the core; it may keep him in the dust for a long time. But it will do him good not only in the end, but while it lasts.

Believer, your present trial is for your good. Nothing could be better for you! You may not see it now; you may even feel as if you never could think so but the time is coming when you will bless God for it.

You love God and God loves you with an infinite and eternal love. You came to the cross as a poor sinner and you looked to the Lord Jesus to be your perfect Savior. This proves that you have been called according to God's purpose. You are one of God's beloved ones, and as such you may have the assurance that all things . . .
  light and darkness,
  health and sickness,
  hatred and love,
  prosperity and adversity,
  life and death
will work together for your good!

Dark clouds bring rich blessings and sharp winters introduce fruitful springs. Even so, sore troubles often precede the sweetest consolations. Your present affliction whether it is . . .
  sickness of body,
  trouble of mind,
  bereavements,
  losses,
  crosses, or
  whatever else
  is working for your good. It will work for good in the future, and it is working for good now. While your heart is bleeding, and you are tempted to think that all is against you all is working together for your good!

Dear Lord, I do not see how my affliction can be good for me. But help me, Lord, to accept it as such by faith so that I may receive what You have for me through it.

"We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope!" Romans 5:3-4

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The rules for domestic happiness

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

Domestic happiness requires the following elements . . .
  from superiors: truth, justice, consistency, humility, gentleness and kindness;
  from inferiors: respect, love, obedience, honor;
  from equals: truth, justice, tenderness and brotherly kindness.

A profession of religion, when not accompanied by a cheerful and habitual performance of family duties is worth nothing.

The rules for domestic happiness are few and simple. He who runs, may read. They are mighty. We can but admire the effects produced in a Christian household by such maxims and precepts as these!

1.  Be humble. "Pride only breeds quarrels."
2.  "Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit."
3.  Find your own happiness in trying to make others happy.
4.  Mind your own business. Do not be meddlesome.
5.  Beware of a fretful, suspicious, or censorious temper.
6.  "Overcome evil with good." "Bless and curse not."
7.  "Love one another deeply, from the heart."
8.  Do not magnify the trials or afflictions of life.
9.  Beware of sloth. There is no greater enemy of peace and happiness.
10. Make it your business to serve God.
11. Keep out of debt. "Owe no man anything." Loans breed bad tempers and harsh dispositions.
12. Keep the ultimate purpose of life in view to glorify God. This will repress many vain wishes and chasten immoderate desires.
13. Let your prayers be frequent and fervent.
14. Never listen to scandal nor backbiting.
15. Do not grieve or worry over things which cannot be helped.
16. Set the Lord always before you. Seek His glory. Do and suffer His will with readiness. Let Christ be all and in all. Trust in the Lord forever.

There is something peculiarly pleasing in the manifestations of the grace of Christ in a truly pious family, however humble their condition in life.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Keep your heart!

(Arthur Pink)

"Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23

The 'heart' is here put for our whole inner being. It is that which controls and gives character to all that we do.

To 'keep' garrison or guard the heart is the great work which God has assigned us. The enablement is His but the duty is ours. We are to keep . . .
  the imagination from vanity,
  the understanding from error,
  the will from perverseness,
  the conscience clear of guilt,
  the affections from being set on inordinate or evil objects,
  the mind from being employed on worthless or vile subjects.
This, this is the work to which God has called us!

"The keeping and right managing of the heart in every condition, is the great business of a Christian's life!" John Flavel

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The making of a beautiful and happy home!

(J.R. Miller)

A true home
is one of the most sacred of places. It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the world's perils and alarms. It is a resting-place to which, at close of day the weary retire to gather new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow. It is the place . . .
  where love learns its lessons,
  where life is schooled into discipline and strength,
  where character is molded.

Few things we can do in this world are so well worth doing as the making of a beautiful and happy home! He who does this builds a sanctuary for God, and opens a fountain of blessing for men.

Far more than we know do the strength and beauty of our lives, depend upon the home in which we dwell. He who goes forth in the morning from a happy, loving, prayerful home into the world's strife, temptation, struggle, and duty is strongly inspired for noble and victorious living.

The children who are brought up in a true home go out trained and equipped for life's battles and tasks carrying a secret of strength in their hearts, which will make them brave and loyal to God, and will keep them pure in the world's severest temptations!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We shall lose nothing but our dross!

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

"I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!" Isaiah 48:10

"He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross!" Malachi 3:3

"When He has tried me I will emerge as pure gold!" Job 23:10

Job was in the furnace! It was heated seven times hotter, but he was conscious of his integrity. He knew that though he was imperfect he was sincere. He knew that he had a living Redeemer that his God knew his heart, his motives, his desires, and his course. Therefore he felt confident that he would not be consumed but only refined.

This is the design of all our trials. They are . . .
  to make us fit for the Master's use;
  to make us reflect the Savior's image;
  to fit us for eternal glory!

However fierce the fire we shall lose nothing but our dross! God sits by the furnace as the Refiner; He superintends the whole process of purification, and He removes us from the fire, the moment His design is accomplished.

Tried Christian, your God is refining you!
His design is most loving!
He will take care of you!

Say with Job, "He knows the way that I take. When He has tried me I will emerge as pure gold!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

None are too sinful, too base, too vile, or too far gone!

(Don Fortner)

"A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
 Jesus said to him: Today salvation has come to this house!" Luke 19:2, 9

It is always profitable for our souls to read about the conversion of a sinner by God's omnipotent grace. It is especially profitable to read and study the stories of God's converting grace given to us in the pages of Holy Scripture. We should read them often and study them with care, asking God the Holy Spirit to teach us the wonders of His grace. When we read about these conversions, we find our hearts saying, "That is what the Lord has done for me!"

We see here the story of Zacchaeus' conversion by the Lord Jesus. He was saved by omnipotent grace. What He did for Zacchaeus, He still does for sinners today. Never cease to adore and give thanks to God our Savior for His sovereign, distinguishing grace! He who has mercy on whom He will have mercy, has not left us to ourselves!

Grace Omnipotent

Zacchaeus' conversion tells us that the grace of God that brings salvation is omnipotent and irresistible. None are too sinful, too base, too vile, or too far gone for Christ to save! His arm is not shortened that He cannot save. Oh, no! His mighty arm is omnipotent in the operations of His grace! None are beyond the reach of His omnipotent mercy!

Here is a notorious publican transformed into a saint.
Here is a rich man made to pass through the needle's eye into the kingdom of God.
Here is a covetous man transformed instantaneously into a self-sacrificing philanthropist!

Our all-glorious, ever-gracious Christ is able to save to the uttermost! Here is a Physician before whom none are incurable! Yes, Jesus Christ still makes the lame to walk again and causes the blind to see!

Sovereign Election
Salvation comes to chosen sinners because the purpose of God according to election is sure. Like you and me, Zacchaeus was . . .
  a sinner by birth,
  a sinner by nature,
  a sinner by choice, and
  a sinner by practice.
But he was distinguished from all others in the crowd that day by God's distinguishing grace, and effectually called because God had from the beginning chosen him to salvation.

O my soul, roll these things over in your heart day by day. Never lose sight of them. The Son of God had His eye upon you from eternity, just as He had his eye upon Zacchaeus.
You were chosen by Him in everlasting love! (Ephesians 1:3-4)
Your name was written in the Book of Life before the worlds were made! (Revelation 13:8; Luke 10:20)
You were one of those sheep given to the Good Shepherd by the Father from old eternity! (John 10:27-29).

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Christlikeness at home

(J.R. Miller)

Keep the lamp of love shining day after day . . .
   amid the many home cares and duties,
   amid the criticisms, sarcasms, and thoughtlessness of others,
   amid the thousand little irritations and arguments of home life
  which tend to break peace and disrupt a sweet temper.

Let your love at home be of the kind that never fails. Wherever else, far away or near, you pour the bright beams of your Christian love be sure that you brighten your own home. No goodness and gentleness outside the home, will atone for lack of love at home.

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8

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Continue earnestly in prayer

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

"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving." Colossians 4:2

Prayer is always necessary, and it is always profitable. In prayer . . .
  we do homage to the perfections of God,
  we exercise faith on His omnipresence,
  we express our dependence on Him for our supplies,
  we evince the sincerity of our profession,
  we acknowledge our poverty and weakness,
  we unburden the mind of our secret trials,
  we give vent to our feelings of joy and sorrow, of gratitude and grief,
  we give utterance to our desires, and spread our case before the Lord,

  we . . .
    confess our sins,
    acknowledge our backslidings,
    and obtain pardon and restoring grace.

Prayer is the medium of communication between God and our souls:
   We communicate our thoughts, feelings, fears, and desires.
   He communicates light, strength, comfort, and grace to us.

Prayer is a very important duty; it is a great privilege.

Prayer should be . . .
  constant,
  fervent,
  believing,
  hopeful, and
  incessant.

God loves it,
Satan hates it, and
every true Christian values it.

We should be always in a praying frame though we cannot be always in a praying posture.

True prayer is always . . .
  necessary,
  profitable and
  acceptable to God.

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

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WHO made us to differ?

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

"But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles" Galatians 1:15-16

Paul is speaking . . .
  of being set apart from his mother's womb,
  of being called by grace to be saved,
  of Christ being revealed in him, and
  of his being made a preacher and an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ
  and he traces up the whole to the good pleasure of God!

It pleased God to convert, consecrate, and crown the apostle with such eminent success. There was nothing in him to deserve it nothing in him to move God to do it. God blessed Paul, just because He would because it pleased Him to do it.

Just so in our case.
Do we differ from others?
Do we differ from our former selves?
Have we spiritual life?
Have we Christian graces?
Why were they conferred upon us and not upon others?

WHO made us to differ? "Who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

We can trace it to no cause but the sovereign good pleasure of God!
 
He has mercy on whom He will have mercy.

He has compassion on whom He will have compassion.

"'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'" Romans 9:13-15

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Precious Promises for Aged Saints

(N.B. The following is a selection of eight choice gems so it is longer than usual. Please forward this on to every aged saint you know!)

"Your shoes shall be iron and brass; and as your days so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25

"Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone!" Psalm 71:9

"Since my youth, O God, You have taught me, and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God." Psalm 71:17-18

"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green!" Psalm 92:12-14

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

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day! For our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all!" 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

 

THE AGED BELIEVER'S CORDIAL

(James Smith, 1802 1862)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hearken to Him not to unbelief!
Hearken to Him not to carnal reason!
Hearken to Him not to Satan!
Hearken to Him not to erroneous men!

Hearken, it is your Savior who speaks;
it is the Guide of your youth who addresses you;
it is your tender Parent who seeks to cheer your heart.

"As a mother comforts her child so will I comfort you." Isaiah 66:13
He is near you near you every moment;
He will carry you carry you every step;
He will deliver you deliver you from every danger, trouble, and foe!

 

COMFORT FOR THE AGED

(James Smith, 1802 1862)

"Now that I am old and gray do not abandon me, O God!" Psalm 71:18

Old age and its infirmities will creep in on us; and with old age come weakness, pains, and fears. But an aged Christian should be a happy person; for he has proved the Lord to be faithful so many years, he has had answers to prayer so many times, and the God of his youth stands pledged never to leave nor forsake him. Will the Lord forsake an old servant? Never! Will the Father of mercies forsake one of His children when compassed with the infirmities of old age! Impossible! No, no! The Lord, who has borne with us so long will bear with us to the end. The Lord, who has glorified Himself in our life will get glory to Himself in our death.

As the God of all comfort, He will comfort us on the bed of languishing, and will make all our bed in our sickness; and when heart and flesh are failing He will be the strength of our heart, and our portion forever!

Aged believer doubt not, fear not! God has given you His Word trust it. He has confirmed His Word by the death of His Son therefore exercise confidence in Him. He has been a Friend and a Father to you for many years; and He will be your Friend and Father to the very last!

Be much with Him in prayer. With all the simplicity of a little child let your requests be made known unto Him. He has grace for old age as He had for youth; and He has grace for a dying bed as He had grace for all the conflicts of life. Believe His word, rest in His love, expect His blessing to the end and you shall be more than a conqueror through Him who loved you. God never loved you more than He does now in your weakness, pains, and old age; and sweet thought! He will never love you less! His love is infinite, everlasting. Having loved you He loves you to the end!

Father in Heaven, I thank You for the mercies of my life. Help me to trust You through to the end of my life in spite of my weakness and human frailty.

"I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you!" Isaiah 46:4

 

AN ARM THAT CAN NEVER BE BROKEN!

(J.R. Miller, 1840 1912)

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!" Deuteronomy 33:27

The picture suggested is that of a little child, lying in the strong arms of a father who is able to withstand all storms and dangers.

At the two extremes of life, childhood and old age this promise comes with special assurance.

"He shall gather the lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom" (Isaiah 40:11), is a word for the children.

"I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you!" (Isaiah 46:4), brings its blessed comfort to the aged.

The thought of God's embracing arms is very suggestive. What does an arm represent? What is the thought suggested by the arm of God enfolded around His child?

One suggestion, is protection. As a father puts his arm around his child when it is in danger so God protects His children. Life is full of peril. There are temptations on every hand! Enemies lurk in every shadow enemies strong and swift! Yet we are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God. "Underneath are the everlasting arms!"

Another thought, is affection. The father's arm drawn around a child is a token of love. The child is held in the father's bosom, near his heart. The shepherd carries the lambs in his bosom. John lay on Jesus' bosom. The mother holds the child in her bosom, because she loves it. This picture of God embracing His children in His arms, tells of His love for them His love is tender, close, intimate.

Another thought suggested by an arm, is strength. The arm is a symbol of strength. His arm is omnipotence. "In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength!" (Isaiah 26:4). His is an arm that can never be broken! Out of this clasp we can never be taken. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" (John 10:28)

Another suggestion is endurance. The arms of God are "everlasting." Human arms grow weary, even in love's embrace; they cannot forever press the child to the bosom. Soon they lie folded in death.

A husband stood by the coffin of his beloved wife after only one short year of wedded happiness. The clasp of that love was very sweet but how brief a time it lasted, and how desolate was the life that had lost the precious companionship!

A little baby two weeks old was left motherless. The mother clasped the child to her bosom and drew her feeble arms about it in one loving embrace; the little one will never more have a mother's arm around it.

So pathetic is human life with its broken affections, its little moments of love, its embraces that are torn away in one hour. But these arms of God, are everlasting arms! They shall never unclasp!

There is another important suggestion in the word "underneath." Not only do the arms of God embrace His child but they are underneath always underneath! That means that we can never sink for these arms will ever be beneath us!

Sometimes we say the waters of trouble are very deep; like great floods they roll over us. But still and forever, underneath the deepest floods, are these everlasting arms! We cannot sink below them or out of their clasp!

And when death comes, and every earthly thing is gone from beneath us, and we sink away into what seems darkness out of all human love, out of warmth and gladness and life into the gloom and strange mystery of death still it will only be into the everlasting arms!

This view of God's divine care is full of inspiration and comfort. We are not saving ourselves. A strong One, the mighty God holds us in His omnipotent clasp! We are not tossed like a leaf on life's wild sea driven at the mercy of wind and wave. We are in divine keeping. Our security does not depend upon our own feeble, wavering faith but upon the omnipotence, the love, and the faithfulness of the unchanging, the eternal God!

No power in the universe can snatch us out of His hands! Neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come can separate us from His everlasting arms!

 

THE PALM TREE

(Author unknown)

"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green!" Psalm 92:12-14

The palm tree, to which God's people are in this psalm compared, is remarkable for its lengthened and increasing fruitfulness. The best fruit are said to be gathered when it has reached a hundred years. How beautiful an emblem of the aged believer, growing in grace and maturing in holiness to the close of his earthly existence! Each day, each year, added to his life adds to the loveliness and perfection of his Christian virtues. His character has a mellowness and sweetness, which it lacked in earlier seasons. He is ripening for Heaven. In knowledge, in wisdom, in love, in humility, in gentleness, in patience, in peace, in usefulness, in happiness he is steadily and constantly advancing. He is filled with the Spirit, and therefore brings forth the fruits of the Spirit.

Is this portraiture of an aged Christian yours, reader? Alas, it does not belong to all who profess and call themselves by the Savior's name. Nay, it may be feared that there are some, really and manifestly His, to whom it bears but little resemblance. They have long been "planted" in the house of the Lord but they do not appear to "flourish" in the courts of our God; and as years augment, they seem to imagine that the infirmities of old age are excuses for their little fruitfulness. But they certainly never gathered such an idea from God's Word, nor rightly studied and pleaded His promises to themselves.

Do not follow their example. Do not rest satisfied with past attainments. Strive to glorify God more than you have ever yet done. Let your last days be your best days; and your last fruit the richest.

 

Pains, infirmities, loss of sleep, the failure of sight and hearing

(Letters of John Newton)

"Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone." Psalm 71:9

I am drawing nearer and nearer to the season which the Psalmist either expected or felt. Many reasons teach the aged believer the need of this prayer. As his graces are still imperfect, so his physical and mental powers are feelingly upon the decline. It was but little he could do at his best and now less and less.

He feels other props and comforts dropping off apace. When he was young he had warm spirits and pleasing prospects; but now what a change of the friends in which he once delighted! In some he has found inconstancy they have forsaken and forgotten him; and others have been successively taken away by death. They have fallen like the leaves in autumn and now he stands almost a naked trunk. If any yet remain, he is expecting to lose them likewise unless he is first taken from them.

Old age abates, and gradually destroys, the relish of such earthly comforts as might be otherwise enjoyed. Pains, infirmities, loss of sleep, the failure of sight and hearing, and all the senses are harbingers, like Job's messengers, arriving in close succession to tell him that death is upon his progress, and not far distant!

If youth has no security against death then old age has no possibility of escaping the grim monster. But though . . .
friends
fail,
cisterns
burst,
gourds
wither,
strength
declines, and
death advances
if God does not forsake me then all is well.

"I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you!" Isaiah 46:4

 

THE PROMISE

(James Smith, 1802 1862)

"I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you!" Isaiah 46:4

The friends of your youth are gone death or distance has stripped you of them. But your God says, "I am He who formed you at first, as a creature; I am He who called you by my grace, into fellowship with my Son; I am He who gave you My Word, that I would never leave you nor forsake you; and I am in the same mind still. I am immutable there is no change in Me. You have changed I have not. You will change but I shall not."

Your God will not only carry your burdens but He will carry YOU. He laid you like a lamb in His bosom, when He called you by His grace; and He will carry you now that you are old; He will never turn away from doing you good but will rejoice over you to do you good with His whole heart, and with His whole soul. He will bear with you though you may sometimes feel fretful, peevish, and ungrateful. He will be with you amidst all your infirmities. He will carry you, not only to the Jordan but over it! He has delivered you in six troubles and in seven He will not forsake you!

You should look back to past deliverances, and then face your present difficulty, saying with David, "The Lord, who has delivered me out of the mouth of the lion, and out of the mouth of the bear will yet deliver me also from this uncircumcised Philistine!" Or with Paul, "He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us!" God's promise is your property. Take it, trust it, plead it, and expect it to be made good. Faithful is He who promised, who also will do it. Even though you believe not yet He abides faithful; for He cannot deny himself. "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19

 

THOSE EVERLASTING ARMS!

(James Smith, 1802 1862)

"Underneath are the everlasting arms!" Deuteronomy 33:27

That is, underneath every believer.

Those everlasting arms are there . . .
to bear him up,
to bear him on, and
to preserve from all real danger.

The arms of God are . . .
invisible
no one sees them;
spiritual
no one feels them;
careful
no one falls out of them;
omnipotent
no one overcomes them.

If the everlasting arms of my God are underneath me, then . . .
I may quietly yield myself unto Him;
I may confidently expect divine protection;
I may be certain that He will lift me above my foes;
I may feel assured that He will safely convey me home.

Aged saints may rejoice in this; for to them the Lord says, "I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you!" Isaiah 46:4

And weak believers may rejoice in this, for "He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart!" Isaiah 40:11

O to realize this sweet and encouraging truth: underneath me are the everlasting arms!

 

THE PALM TREE

James Hamilton

"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green!" Psalm 92:12-14

The Palm tree brings forth its best fruit in old age. The best dates are said to be gathered when it has reached a hundred years. So it is with eminent Christians: the older the better; the older the more beautiful; nay, the older the more useful; and, different from worldlings, the older the happier. The best Christians are those who improve to the end, who grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ to the very close of life.

They loved Him at first but now they love Him more. At first they were selfish, and only sought to escape from wrath. Now they are jealous of the Savior's honor, and long to be saved from sin. At first they only thought of Jesus as the Priest to save them; now they perceive the Priest upon a throne, and love not only the Savior's cross but the Savior's yoke and the Savior's laws.

And they grow in knowledge of themselves. The truth to which they once assented becomes a deep-wrought experience. "In me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing." And the discovery of this depravity, the knowledge how debased and worthless their nature has become, instead of making them morose and bitter towards their fellow-sharers in the fall makes them lenient and considerate. They know themselves too well, to expect perfection in their friends, and love the brethren in the face of their obvious failings. They have something of the old Reformer's feeling when he saw the malefactor led to prison: "There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford!"

And they grow in wisdom. Long experience, and still more the secret of the Lord, dispassionate observation and Heavenly-mindedness have given them sagacity; and sometimes in pithy adages, sometimes in direct and sober counsel, they deal forth that mellow wisdom.

And they grow in spirituality. We have seen those aged pilgrims to whom earthly things at last grew insipid; they had no curiosity for the news of the day, and little taste for fresh and entertaining books. They stuck to God's testimonies, and you never went in to see them but their Bible lay open on the table or the counter; and they could tell the portion which had been that morning's food, or the meditation of the previous night. The Word of God dwelt in them so richly, that you could see they were becoming fit to dwell with God; for when a mind has become thoroughly scriptural it needs but another step to make it celestial. And the last harvest came, and the last gleanings of their precious words, and when we next went that way their place knew them no longer. They were flourishing in the courts of God's house on high, and we would sit under their shadow and be regaled by their goodness no more.

But when we recollected how lovely their Christian profession was, how beneficent and serviceable they had ever been, and remembered that their last days were their brightest, and their last fruits their fairest, we said over to ourselves, "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green!"

Dear Christian reader, when your own ear cannot hear it, may this be your eulogy when your own eye cannot read it, may this be your epitaph. In the meanwhile, for the sake of that Savior who is dishonored by proud and selfish and unlovely disciples strive and pray for consistency in holy living. And for your own soul's sake, which is dulled by defective views, and depressed by each besetting sin seek a serene and lofty faith covet earnestly a blameless life. Let . . .
your triumphs over self, and
your high-hearted zeal for the Savior,
the largeness of your Christian spirit,
your Heavenly elevation,
the exuberance of your goodness,
the multitude of your acts of kindness,
the fullness of your affections,
the abundance of your beneficence
make Jesus manifest and unmistakable in your life. Let your happy piety be the far-eyed signal announcing an oasis in the desert, and pray that your church may become another Elim to weary pilgrims "where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water." Exodus 15:27