Grace Gems for APRIL 2014

Grace Gems for APRIL 2014

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God weighs and measures, bounds and ordains, my sorrows!

Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

It is good to know that there is a limit to affliction. It is but for a moment — it has its appointed end.
Not always will the war go on.
Not always will the seas be tempest-driven.
Not always will the rains descend and the fierce winds blow.
God weighs and measures, bounds and ordains, my sorrows!

For seven months Adolphe Monod lay in helpless suffering. Week by week his pain increased in its severity, until he had not a minute when he was free from it. But this was what he wrote:
"The Desert in the morning,
 Gethsemane in the afternoon,
 Golgotha in the evening!
 Well, the Desert with Christ,
 Gethsemane with Christ,
 Golgotha with Christ!
 This is better than all the pleasures of sin!"

And of these painful mornings and afternoons and evenings, God has fixed and foreordained an end!

It is good to know that there is a purpose in affliction.
It works for me, in my service, on my behalf.
Affliction does not rise out of the ground, nor fall on me by chance — as an unfortunate, aimless, undirected, capricious thing. (Job 5:6, Job 1:21)

Affliction is the instrument and agent of my Father in Heaven! By it He would . . .
  teach my mind,
  soften and expand my heart,
  give new robustness to my faith, 
  add vigor to my prayers,
  fructify all my graces and character.

There is a touching incident of Mr. Wodrow: He was much affected with his worthy son's death — it being somewhat sudden and surprising. Yet he behaved very Christly under that sharp affliction. He went down to the place where his son's corpse was. He stayed some time. They inquired what he had been doing there. "I was," says he, "thanking God for thirty-one years' loan of my dear son."

These are the flowers of submission, of patience, of trust — which grow in the clefts of a breaking heart!

It is good to know that there is a coronation after affliction. It is the prelude to an eternal weight of glory! And the glory will be none the less — but all the more, because it has been heralded by the grief. I am fitted for the purity of the glorious inheritance, by the cleansing and refining discipline to which I am subjected on the way to it. I welcome its sunshine and rest, because I have been out in the midnight when the fierce gales were abroad. There are notes and chords in my everlasting song, which never could have been there, if I had not discovered in my afflictions . . .
  the grace of the Father,
  and the sympathy of the Son,
  and the comforts of the Holy Spirit.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us!" Romans 8:18

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Night after night my feet are begrimed and soiled!

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

"A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet" John 13:10

Every disciple of Christ walks through the hot and dusty ways of this world. I spend my Christian life in hostile surroundings. When saved, I do not go at once to be with my Lord in heavenly glory. He leaves me here on earth for my own discipline, and for the benefit of others around me. So I wrestle on against storm and wind and tide!

Every disciple contracts defilement in his walk through the world. I am readily beguiled. My firmest purposes are shaken. Along the road, there are innumerable obstacles and relentless enemies. Night after night my feet are begrimed and soiled! Am I to despair then?

No, for Christ will cleanse His disciples. I have been bathed in the morning of my new life — I have passed through the great spiritual change — I have been fully forgiven.

But I need still to have my feet washed. When I come in at night from the fierce sun, and the dusty highway, and the jostling crowd, with mind chafed and disturbed — He waits to lead me into His secret place and to refresh and heal me.

Ah, I scarcely can tell which I should admire most:
  Jesus' passion for me — or His patience with me;
  His suffering for me — or His longsuffering with me!

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The birds and lilies teach me better!

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

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26  

Let me not worry — the birds and lilies teach me better. God spreads a table for the sparrows, and clothes the wayside anemones with their exquisite beauty. And I am dearer to Him by far. I, who am made in His image, and for whom His Son has died, and whom He means to dwell with Him in His Heaven — I occupy a larger place in His heart of hearts. 

Let me not worry — it serves no good purpose to fret and worry. I cannot, with all my solicitude, add a cubit either to my stature or to my age. Anxiousness will only plunge me into mental distress and annoyance and sorrow, without bringing me any compensating advantage whatever. It knows how to wound; but ah! it does not know how to heal

Let me not worry — a child should have more confidence in his Father's wisdom and watchfulness and love. It may be excusable for worldly men and women to worry — but not a son in the royal and wealthy family of the King of kings! There is no justification for him if he goes worried and burdened during the day, and lies down to hours of sleeplessness at night.

"So do not worry . . . For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them!" Matthew 6:31-32

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I will never leave you nor forsake you!

(James Smith, "The Pastor's Morning Visit" 1840)

"God Himself has said: I will never leave you nor forsake you!" Hebrews 13:5

The Lord's redeemed people are never alone!

God is with them as an Observer. He notices their . . .
   every thought,
   every word,
   every action,
   every trial,
   every foe,
   every danger.

He is with His people . . .
  as a Father — loving and holding communion with them;
  as the Lord Almighty — having all power to help them;
  as a Guide — to wisely lead them;
  as an Advocate — to plead their cause;
  as a Friend — to supply and comfort them;
  as a Savior — to deliver and protect them;
  as a holy, sin-hating God — to purify them!

He is present with them . . .
  to try them,
  to reprove them,
  to humble them,
  to preserve them,
  to comfort them, and
  to save them with an everlasting salvation!

Beloved, let us remember that God is with us — everywhere and always! This precious truth will . . .
  check levity,
  prevent impatience,
  make us people of integrity,
  encourage prayerfulness,
  inspire us with fortitude,
  and produce diligence.

If God is with us thus — then He is for us! And if God is for us — then who can effectually be against us?

"So be strong and courageous! For the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you!" Deuteronomy 31:6

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God's all wise, gracious, and adorable providence!

"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

(Frank Hall)

We often find ourselves in . . .
  trying circumstances,
  inexplicable difficulties,
  and perplexing situations.
Experience teaches us daily that life is filled, not with joy and happiness only, but with troubles, heartache, and pain. We prove the words of brother Job every single day of our lives, that, "Man who is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble!"

Is there consolation to be had in such times of trouble? Indeed there is! If there is a verse of Scripture that ministers comfort to my doubting fearful heart, it is the verse before us. Romans 8:28 is . . .
  help for the helpless,
  comfort for those in trouble, and
  a beacon of light that guides believers on the tumultuous sea of life.

My beloved brothers and sisters in trouble and strife, all remains well with our souls.
Not only has the Father elected us unto salvation,
not only has the Son redeemed us from our sins,
not only has the Spirit regenerated us and given us spiritual life,
but God our Father works all things together for our eternal good! God is our Father, and our God is on His throne ruling all things for the glory of His name, and the everlasting salvation of our immortal souls!

Who knows? Paul begins this comforting verse with two precious words, "WE know!"  The people of God know,
believers know,
the redeemed of the Lord know,
those who are "the called according to God's purpose" know.
This is knowledge that only the saints of God have.
They know, not with a bare theoretical head knowledge — but by faith rooted in their hearts.
They know because God has taught them this knowledge effectually by His Spirit and grace.
They know because they believe His infallible word of truth.
They know in such a way as to find solace and comfort in what He has revealed.

God's people are here identified by two distinct characteristics — they love God, and they are called according to His purpose.

1. All of God's people love God! They love His glorious person and rejoice in all of His perfections as God:
  His righteousness,
  His immutability,
  His holiness,
  His sovereignty,
  His wisdom,
  His power,
  His love,
  His grace.
They love . . . .
  His will,
  His word,
  His ways,
  His gospel,
  His Son,
  His Spirit,
  His purpose,
  His providence,
  and His people.
God's people love God — and all that pertains to God.

2. All of God's people are "called according to His purpose!" They are a particular, distinct, special people, here named the "called." They have been graciously and effectually called in grace, by God's Spirit through the gospel — not according to their works, merit, or choice — but according to God's eternal purpose which He purposed in Himself before the foundation of the world.  

All things do not work together for the good of ALL men, but for God's people alone, because their God providentially rules over all things for their eternal good and salvation. God rules . . .
  all things,
  all men,
  all angels,
  all demons,
  all circumstances,
  all events,
  in every place,
  at all times —
and He does so for the good of His people!

What do we know? "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!" Things may appear to be against us, but it only seems that way. We should not judge God's purpose by His providence — but His providence by His purpose. If we judge using the former method, we are sure to misjudge and we will never have peace in this life.

All pleasures, joys, and delights are certainly ruled by our God — but that's only half of His rule. He rules all evil — as well as all good.
All death,
all opposition,
all sickness,
every disaster,
every problem,
all our pain, and
all our sorrow —
are sovereignly ruled, governed, ordered, and controlled by our God — to bring about eternal good for our souls. God does not tells us how He does this — only that He does.

Whatever my God brings to pass in time — is the outworking of His purpose of grace — and it's for my good, whether it be in my little sphere of existence, or in the universe at large.

Oh God help me to believe Your word! Teach me not only to submit to your providential rule — but to rejoice and rest in it! Set a watch upon my mouth, that I murmur not!  Arrest my heart by your grace, and give me peace! Keep me from sinning with my lips and complaining against Your all wise, gracious, and adorable providence, for it is good!

God controls and directs all things with . . .
  infinite power,
  absolute sovereignty, and
  unfailing wisdom and grace!
Nothing can . . .
  hinder Him from doing His will,
  keep Him from having His way, or
  stop Him from accomplishing His purpose.

"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

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God's workmanship!

(Frank Hall)

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

There is an infinite difference between the materials that men employ to construct and compose their masterpieces — and the materials that God uses to create sinners anew in Christ Jesus. Men work with the best of materials to showcase their talents, but God works with the worst — to showcase His power, wisdom, and skill.

The most gifted sculptors carve their creations out of the finest pieces of ivory, marble, and jade. The best jewelers seek only the finest gold and silver to form their bracelets and rings — they utilize only the most desirable gems to adorn their jewelry; rubies of the highest grade, diamonds of most exquisite clarity, and emeralds of impeccable luster. Da Vinci painted on a clean canvas with fresh paint when he painted the Mona Lisa. Beethoven and Bach chose blank sheets of clean white paper upon which to compose their symphonies.

But God is not like men. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. God employs, not the best, not the finest, not the most appealing of materials when creating His masterpieces — but the worst! He uses what no one else wants. He uses the offscouring of humanity — to display His handiwork and magnify His grace. God constructs His masterpiece, not from a perfectly shaped piece of ivory — but from a deformed, twisted, marred chunk of hard rough stone that has no attraction.

God has purposed to conform His redeemed people into the pristine image of His darling Son. While keeping His eye fixed upon His Son, using the chisel of His grace — God sculpts rebel sinners into the likeness of Christ!

God paints, not on a clean white canvas — but on a canvas that has been . . .
  stained with sin,
  spotted with corruption, and
  bespattered with the filth of the fall.
As the perfect Painter, God looks to Christ His Model, and, with the brush of omnipotent mercy in His ever steady hand of sovereign power — He begins to paint His children, one by one, into the family portrait; tracing every line with divine precision, filling in every grace with unfailing accuracy, accentuating every corner of their character with a whole array of heavenly hues:
  blues of faith and surrender,
  violets of honesty and godly fear,
  greens of tenderness and gratitude,
  reds of love and compassion,
  yellows of patience and perseverance —
painting them all in the similitude of Christ His beloved Son!

God does not compose His symphony on a blank piece of sheet music. Rather, He blots out the discordant notes of sin, rebellion, and impurity — and with the permanent ink of immutable grace, He rewrites the sorrowful sonnet of sin, transforming it into the song of salvation, inscribing on our hearts the heavenly notes of free forgiveness, eternal life, and everlasting righteousness through Christ our Savior! With heavenly wisdom and unseen skill, God makes the sad song of human misery — into a glorious gospel melody, a tune that sounds best when played on the broken instruments of contrite hearts!

Our God has . . . .
  done the unthinkable,
  saved the unsavable,
  fixed the unfixable!
He has created a masterpiece using a rotting chunk of fallen humanity as His workpiece! What a wonder! By the grace and power of God, "The king's daughter is all glorious within!"

When God's work is all done,
when His poem is finished,
when His symphony composed,
and His masterpiece complete —
He will present us to Himself holy and without blemish, "a glorious church, having no spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing!"

God's work of grace in us begins in regeneration and conversion. It continues until the day when our salvation is consummated in resurrection glory, when we will be perfectly conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ!

"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son!" Romans 8:29

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All that we see within is foul, ugly, and grim!

(Frank Hall)

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

Oh desponding Christian, is not your grief caused by looking within yourself? Is not that miserable feeling of failure and disappointment, caused by your strange fixation upon your hollow heart of iniquity? You look within, hoping to find something good, something pure, something precious, something clean — but what do you see? Nothing but sin! To stare into one's self — is to stare into a bottomless pit of despair and hopelessness! "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked!" Jeremiah 17:9

Will we ever learn this? There is nothing within us to give us hope, rest, or peace. Have we ever found anything within us that gave us joy? Of course not! Then why do we continue to stare into the darkness? All that we see within is foul, ugly, and grim! One glance within ought to sicken us. We would sooner find diamonds in a dunghill or roses growing in a sewer — than find goodness dwelling within!

In ourselves we are sinful, guilty, and vile! But bless God forever! Our standing before God is not in ourselves; it's in Christ! He is . . .
  our Salvation,
  our Righteousness,
  our Hope,
  our Holiness, and
  our Acceptance with God!

Change the direction of your gaze — and look up! Stop staring into the empty void of your heart — and fix your eyes upon Jesus your Lord, in whom all fullness dwells. Our hope is not within, but without, seated at the right hand of the Father! Lift up your head that is bowed down with guilt and shame! Behold Christ your Savior! Behold your glorious Redeemer! Bid sorrow goodbye and fear depart! Rejoice, for "You are complete in Him!"

Believers are perfect in Christ. To be complete in Christ is to be perfect in Christ. Perfect is not something that we will be, or strive to be — but something that we are right now, by virtue of our eternal union with God's darling Son.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are, by the free grace of God, complete in Christ our Savior!
We lack nothing!
All that He is — we are in Him!
All that He has — we have in Him!
All that He has done — we've done in Him!
We possess the infinite fullness of eternal life and everlasting salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord!

We are completely righteous in Him!
We are completely holy in Him!
We are completely forgiven in Him!
We are completely accepted in Him!
We are completely, everlastingly, perfectly sinless in Him!

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus!" Hebrews 12:2

"For every look at SELF — take ten looks at CHRIST!"
Robert Murray M'Cheyne

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I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold!

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

"I will bring this third part through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold!" Zechariah 13:9

I gather from this verse, that though the days are ever so evil, God will always have His chosen ones. There always is the third part — there always are the few in Sardis, who walk with Christ in white. I trust that I belong to the little flock.

I learn also that, though the members of His Church are insignificant in this evil world — they are very precious to Jesus. He compares them not to dull lead — but to silver and gold. He has Himself clothed them with their attractiveness. My Lord, I draw my silvery sheen and golden brightness from You alone.

But I see that, as beloved as His people are, it is His purpose to refine them. The jeweler uses every method to beautify the metals which he prizes most. If the citizens of this world escape the sharpness of God's discipline — the citizens of the heavenly Kingdom cannot. He chastens me, because He loves me!

And I find, too, that the sorrow may be very severe. He brings His children through the fire — the quivering and scorching fire! "I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!" Isaiah 48:10 

"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:11. Oh that blessed Afterward! The fire purifies the dross from me; it kindles my hidden graces to life!

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Tender kisses!

(Frank Hall)

"Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Your love is better than wine." Song of Solomon 1:2

Of all the relationships that we as believers share with our blessed Savior, perhaps none is more intimate and comforting than that of marriage. Jesus has betrothed us to Himself in holy matrimony and covenant grace. We are  . . .
  His beloved bride,
  the apple of His eye,
  the darling of His heart;
and He is the gracious Husband of our immortal souls!
We are, by sovereign grace, forever one with Jesus our Husband!

Oh what a glorious privilege it is to be joined to Jesus in the blessed bond of marriage!
He loves me!
He cares for me!
He defends and protects me!
He provides for my every need!
He comforts, supports, and cherishes me!
I have His heart — and He has mine!
"I am my Beloved's — and my Beloved is mine!"
I belong to Him — and He belongs to me!

Oh that my Beloved would "kiss me with the kisses of His mouth," that He would . . .
  embrace my soul,
  draw me to Himself,
  caress my heart ever so gently with His merciful touch,
  and grant me sweet tokens of His love for me.

Oh how I long for Him to express His love and affection to me with the tender kisses of . . .
  sovereign love,
  free grace,
  immutable faithfulness,
  and undying compassion,
"for His love is better than wine!"

Wine makes glad the heart, but His love is better than the finest wine! His love . . .
  causes my broken heart to rejoice,
  renews my strength,
  brightens my vision,
  causes me to walk uprightly in the paths of righteousness, and
  moves my heart to take flight through the heavens with wings as an eagle.

Excess wine intoxicates men, and is forbidden by God. Too much wine will ruin a man. It alters the state of men's minds, seizes control of men, dulls their senses, and destroys their ability to exercise sound judgment and reason.

But Jesus' love is better than wine! It is not possible to overindulge in the intoxicating love of Jesus, nor is it forbidden. Indeed, the gospel encourages love to Jesus.
The wine of His love doesn't ruin men — it transforms them!
His love for us, invigorates our love for Him . . .
  intoxicating our hearts,
  seizing control of them,
  overpowering our wills and our senses,
  giving us sound reason, and spiritual judgment.

Oh blessed Lord, we beg you, give us this wine!
Fill our cups full!
Cause them to overflow!
Pour into our hearts the intoxicating love of Jesus the Lord!

The desire of a believer's soul can be summed up in one word, JESUS! "Whom have I in Heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside You!" Psalm 73:25

We desire Him . . .
  His person,
  His love,
  His glory,
  His grace,
  His will,
  His salvation,
  His righteousness,
  His way.
All we want is in Jesus!
All we need is in Jesus!
All we have is in Jesus!
Jesus is all — and Jesus is better!
Better than the treasures of kings!
Better than all earthly possessions!
Better than passing pleasures and prestige!
Indeed, He is better than all earthly delights combined!

If we don't have Jesus, then we have nothing!
If we have Him, then we have everything!

"Thou, O Christ, art all I want; more than all in thee I find!"

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Why are we here? What is our purpose?

(Frank Hall)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

Before there was a Milky Way — there was God!
Before there were galaxies, solar systems, constellations, and nebulae — there was God!
Before Mercury, Venus, and Mars were plugged into their sockets — there was God!
Before Polaris was fastened above the North Pole — there was God!
Before Orion the hunter had a belt, and Saturn had its rings — there was God; all alone, perfect and content, glorious in His solitary existence as the eternal I AM!

Before there was a sun, a moon, or an earth;
before there was grass to clothe the field, and flowers to adorn it;
before the mountains were brought forth, and the sea filled the depths;
before the eagle soared through the sky, and the fish swam through the sea;
before angels, devils, and men had their being — there was God alone!

If we would understand things aright, we must not begin with man, but with God, for He is the beginning of all things. To begin with man is folly, for man is but a creature — a production of the Creator. We must back up and begin where the Bible begins, with God!

God's people know, and have always known, what continues to baffle the minds of the scholars and scientists of our day, that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Through faith, God's people understand the mystery of creation.

I ask you, "Why are we here? What is our purpose? What is God's purpose?" Can we even know the answer to these questions? Indeed we can. 

The twenty four elders seated around God's throne in Heaven give us the answer in Revelation 4:10-11, "The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and for Your pleasure they exist and were created!"

You, me, angels, animals, plants, rocks, and all other things, exist and were created for one reason — the pleasure of the Creator. We were created according to His will and purpose, for His pleasure and glory. 

God did not create the Heaven and the earth arbitrarily. He created them to be the stage upon which He would perform His eternal purpose of grace, and reveal all the wonders of His goodness and mercy toward His elect. It is upon the stage of time, that God displays His eternal purpose and shows forth His glory in the salvation of chosen sinners. He created this world for the salvation of His people, that they would be recovered from their sin by His almighty grace.

"I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying: My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure!" Isaiah 46:9-10

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Lost unregenerate men know nothing of this struggle!

(Frank Hall)

"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you cannot do the things that you would." Galatians 5:17

In this one verse the apostle Paul describes the thing that continually plagues every Christian.
We, as the people of God, desire more than anything to love God perfectly, but can't.
We long to cease from sin and ungodliness, but can't.
We strive to worship our God with our entire being, but can't.
We try to do good and honor God in all things, but can't.

Why do we continually do, say, feel, and think things that are evil?
Why are we so hard-hearted, unforgiving, and ignorant?
Why can't we do what we desire most?

It's because we have two natures called . . .
  flesh and spirit,
  sin and righteousness,
  Adam and Christ.

We do indeed believe our God, but not as we would.
We do love our Savior, but not as we would.
We do live for His honor and glory, but not as we would.

Our flesh won't allow us. It always interferes. It keeps us from doing the things that we would. When we would do good — then evil is present with us.
Our most fervent faith, is mixed with unbelief.
Our most selfless sacrifices, are mixed with selfishness.
Our most ardent prayers and supplications, are marred by our infirmities.
Our most spiritual moments, are contaminated by our sickening carnality.
Our meekest hours of submission and dependence on God, are corrupted by our self-will and pride.
Every mountain top experience of spiritual pleasure, is tinged with shameful wanderings within.
Our clearest views of Christ are darkened by error, misconceptions, and preconceived notions.
Even when our hearts seem to be most fixed on God's glory, they are torn between this world and the next.

The reality is, that as long as we live in this world — we will be at war within ourselves! The flesh will not submit to the Spirit — and the Spirit will not submit to the flesh. We will be . . .
  pulled this way one moment — and that way the next;
  believing one moment — and doubting the next;
  praising God in the morning — then murmuring at night;
  seeking God's will today — and our will tomorrow.
As long as we live in this body of flesh there will be a constant struggle within us — a struggle between flesh and Spirit.

Lost unregenerate men know nothing of this struggle! This internal warfare is peculiar to believers. Unbelieving, unregenerate, impenitent, rebellious, lost sinners know nothing of this fight with SELF. They don't loathe themselves as all believers do; they love themselves. They have but one nature — and that is sin, which rules in their hearts supremely. Lost men do not have grace within, to oppose the works and motions of the flesh. All they have is a nature that is dead in trespasses and sin, that walks according to the course of this world.

The struggle doesn't begin within a man, until that man is born of God's Spirit and given the gift of life and faith in Christ.

This war between our flesh and Spirit is best for us. If it were not so, then God would not allow it. God is in control of this fight, and has ordained it for us in His infinite wisdom and grace. This constant battle within our hearts is good for us, because it keeps us looking to Christ — ever seeking Him, His grace, His help, His power. This lifelong fight will make the prize that much sweeter — when Jesus will present us "to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless!" Ephesians 5:27

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My shepherd!

(Frank Hall)

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want!" Psalm 23:1

The Lord Jesus is everything to my needy soul!

He is my majestic King, the imperial one who graciously rules my heart and my life with His sovereign scepter of righteousness.

He is my Prophet, the one who effectually teaches God's Word to my soul.

He is my great High Priest, my Mediator, the one who intercedes with God on my behalf.

And He is Jehovah-Rohi, the LORD my Shepherd! My glorious Shepherd is He who graciously forces my soul to lie down and rest in the green pastures of God's goodness and love. He ever leads my soul beside the still waters of satisfaction, peace, and prosperity.

When, in selfishness, carnality and sin, my flesh is smitten with desire for the poisonous fodder of this decaying world, and I wander from Him — He does not cast me off. Rather, He faithfully corrects my sin and graciously restores my soul to Himself. He perpetually leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. All this and more, my merciful Shepherd does for me freely by His grace! My Shepherd surpasses, in every way and at all times, all the would-be shepherds of this world.

Never slumbering, He protects me perfectly from all harm with His omnipotent hand of sovereign power! He feeds, sustains, and fills my hungering soul out of the abundance of His infinite store! Though . . .
  the way is rough and long,
  the path winding and narrow,
  the days dark and dismal,
  the valleys bleak and dreary —
He gently leads me in infinite mercy and unfailing wisdom, ever guiding me to that land above that abounds with milk and honey! 

Brothers and sisters, our Shepherd will stop at nothing to bring every one of His beloved sheep home to Heaven. He says of Himself, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep." Oh precious revelation of grace!

Sheep of His fold, I urge you to pause and consider the death of the good Shepherd! Behold with wonder the sacrifice of your Shepherd! He died — that you might live forever! He esteems us more precious than His own life! Oh blessed Shepherd, thank You for taking our sins to Yourself and putting them away by Your own precious blood. Children of God, let us ever sing with brother David, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want!"

Christ's sheep lack nothing for time and eternity — because He is their all sufficient Shepherd. "For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace!" The Lord our Shepherd will withhold no good thing from the sheep of His pasture. In Him we have all the fullness of God's free salvation, which can never be lost.

"We shall not want!" We receive the fullness of His grace in time, because we possessed that very same fullness in Him from the foundation of the world. We are the possessors of . . .
  everlasting life,
  perfect righteousness,
  eternal redemption,
  pardon from all our sin,
  impeccable holiness,
  unending peace, and
  unalterable acceptance with God our Father!

We lack nothing, because in Him we have all things. His boundless provision for our souls has no end. His provision is perfect, infinite, and everlasting. God help us to depend on Him . . .
  His fullness,
  His mercy,
  His grace,
  His power,
  His all-sufficiency as the Lord our Shepherd.

"My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ!"

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

There is a perilous progress in sin!

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

"Blessed is the man who does not . . .
 walk in the counsel of the wicked,
 or stand in the way of sinners,
 or sit in the seat of mockers."
Psalm 1:1

There is a perilous progress in sin!

At first I content myself with walking in the counsel of the wicked. It is an occasional companionship. It is a meeting only now and again. For a little while I am with them, and then some better influence calls me away . . .
  a remembrance of my mother's prayers,
  a sentence in a letter from a friend,
  a verse of Scripture shot suddenly into my mind.

But by and by I am found standing in the way of sinners. They have gained a greater power over me, and a completer fascination. I have learned to love them too well. I linger much longer in their society, and it is hard for me to tear myself from them. The poison is working, the leaven is spreading — my condition is more fixed and more hopeless by far!

And, at last, where do you see me? I am sitting in the seat of the scornful. I am at home among those who laugh at God and Christ and Heaven and Hell. You cannot see any difference between me and them. I have joined their ranks. I am one of their number. Their resorts are mine;
their sneers and sarcasms are mine;
their seared conscience and withered heart are mine!
Oh dreary ending of a dreary journey!

As I would escape that lowest depth of all — let me not look over the precipice, nor set my feet on the fatal slope.

Blessed is the man who says, "I will not!" to the first allurements of sin.

Blessed is the man who will not so much as walk in the Enchanted Ground.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The eye of faith!

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

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Faith beholds invisible realities! It is the conviction of things not seen. It brings the great realities of the spiritual world within my reach:
  God, in His glory;
  Christ, in His beauty and love;
  sin, in its deformity;
  holiness, in its excellence;
  the solemn judgment to come;
  eternity, so blessed — or so sad.

Faith gives me a firm persuasion of these unseen realities. It invests them with a transforming influence over my heart. I look out, with the eye of faith, and I find myself in their midst.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The eyes of your heart!

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

"He has opened my eyes!" John 9:30

When Jesus opened my eyes . . .
  I saw what a vile sinner I was;
  I saw what fearful danger I was in; and
  I saw what a glorious Savior He was!

When I first saw His beauty — I thought I would never take my eyes off Him!

When I first tasted that He was gracious — I imagined I would never lose the relish!

When I first felt Him to be precious to my soul — it appeared to me that I would never value anything else!

Blessed Jesus, you have opened my eyes — or they would have been forever closed to my danger, Your loveliness, and Your salvation!

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know . . .
  the hope to which He has called you,
  the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and
  His incomparably great power for us who believe!"
Ephesians 1:18-19 

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Death will be gain indeed!

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

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

Death will not be gain to me — unless my life is lived for Christ!

It must be my passion to know Christ.
Every day I ought to learn a little more of Him and His truths. Every day I ought to become somewhat more conversant with His will. In His school, it is impossible for me ever to finish my education, for . . .
  there is so much to learn,
  there are such mysteries to master,
  there are such heights to scale!

It must be my ambition to follow Christ.
Jesus going about doing good in the Galilean fields;
Jesus praying on the cold mountains;
Jesus bowing to the Father's will in the garden and on the cross —
He is to be my Pattern, my Model, whom I set deliberately before me!

It must be my joy to speak with Christ. I should always be lifting up my heart to Him. I should keep telling Him . . .
  my every thought,
  my every desire,
  my every need,
  my every problem,
  my every misgiving and fear.
Between friends so close and true — there must be no reservations, no secrets.

It must be my longing to serve Christ. Though I cannot do it in a conspicuous sphere — yet, up to the farthest verge and limit of my ability, I will labor for Him. And I rejoice to remember that mere show and public ministry count for nothing with Him — the humble and loving heart is everything!

And then, and then, death will be gain indeed! Then, when He calls me home — I shall go to Him with the gladness of a boy bounding home from school!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Surely I am with you all the days!

(Alexander Smellie, "On the Secret Place" 1907)

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

The path in front of me may be full of flowers — or full of thorns.
Or, as is more probable, flower and thorn may be mingled together.
The sky may be light — or dark.
The weather may be glorious summer — or bleakest winter.
But I go safely and happily, if the Lord Jesus, who can and will supply my every need, is with me all the days.

Some of the days will be days of discipline — of the pruning knife and the cleansing fire. But when He is with me, the discipline is a blessing, and not a curse. It teaches me . . .
  to grasp His strong right hand with a tighter hold,
  to pray more earnestly,
  to find heights and depths of meaning in the promises of God,
  to feel for others who are in tribulation.
Mind and heart and character are bettered by the endurance of affliction.

Many of the days, too, will be days of monotony. They must be spent in little things — household labors, common concerns, unnoticed toil. I may long for a more striking and romantic experience. But when He is with me, I know that He makes my life like His own — the blessed life He lived among carpenters' tools, and village streets, and peasant people. The drudgery is a love-message — it is Jesus Christ in disguise!

Every day will be a day of temptation. In the home, in the business, in company, in loneliness — I shall encounter the devil's subtle snares. But let my Lord be with me, and temptation will but reveal the closeness and blessedness of the tie. It will be an instrument which He uses to impart more maturity to my graces — more courage, more patience, more trust.

Perhaps one of the days will be the day of death. But if He does not leave or forsake me, then death will be an ingredient in the training that fits me for the glorious inheritance! As John Bunyan pictures it — I must cross the 'River of Death' to reach the 'Celestial City'. Jesus did it Himself, and the disciple is not above the Master. His Everlasting Arms will sustain me in the flood; and, on the other side, I shall enter the 'Beautiful Gate' and see His face!

ALL the days He is with me — to the end, and through the end, and beyond the end forever and ever! Whether I live, therefore, or whether I die — I am His and He is mine!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Who makes you differ from another?

(Frank Hall)

"Who makes you differ from another?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

What made the difference . . .
  between Cain and Abel,
  between Esau and Jacob,
  between Judas and Peter?

What makes the difference . . .
  between believers, and unbelievers;
  between the righteous, and the wicked;
  between the elect, and the reprobate;
  between the godly, and the ungodly;
  between one who has saving knowledge of God, and a heathen infidel?

It is not "what," but "who." "WHO makes you differ from another?" It is the God of all grace who makes one man to differ from another!

Contrary to popular opinion, men do not make the difference in salvation — God does.
He loves some, but hates others.
He chooses some, but passes by others.
He blesses some, and curses others.
He saves some, but destroys others.

This is God's sovereign right as God. "Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?" Romans 9:21.

God always does with men as He pleases. Who are men to reply against God? "Shall the thing formed say to him who formed it: Why have you made me thus?" Romans 9:20.

Will not the all wise God do what is best, just, and good? How dare fickle ignorant men call the most high God into question! "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter: What are you making?" Isaiah 45:9.

"Why do you strive against Him? For He gives not account of His matters." Job 33:13.
It is we who must answer to Him — not He to us.
He is on the throne — and we are but His footstool.
He is the Potter — and we are the clay.
He is the Creator — and we are His creatures.
He is God — and we are not.

The God of all grace made the difference between His people and the reprobate from eternity. Before the foundation of the world, God the Father justly elected some of humanity to salvation — and passed by all the rest.

The Lord Jesus made the difference between His church and the world, at Calvary where He laid down His life, poured out His blood, and effectually redeemed all whom the Father elected to salvation.

The sovereign Spirit makes the difference between the souls of His people and the souls of the ungodly in regeneration, effectually calling chosen redeemed sinners to life and faith in Christ.

The triune God does this, not because His people are better, more deserving, or more worthy of salvation — but because He will, because He is pleased to do so.

In all things God makes the difference, not us. There is no difference between God's saints and the wicked by nature, "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. The only difference is the difference that God makes by His distinguishing grace. We, as God's elect, have . . .
  nothing to boast of,
  nothing to be proud of, and
  no reason to look down on others as being inferior to us.
We were born just like everyone else — dead in trespasses and sins. By nature we lived in rebellion against God, just like everyone else. We walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, living to fulfill the lusts of our flesh, and were by nature children of wrath even as others. We have nothing to brag about — but much to be thankful for!

In sovereign grace . . .
  He loved us,
  He chose us,
  He blessed us,
  He set His affection on us,
  and He saved us.

In distinguishing mercy our Savior . . .
  was born for us,
  lived for us,
  suffered for us,
  bled for us, and
  reigns for us.

In discriminating love He . . .
  sought us out,
  chased us down,
  subdued our hearts,
  gave us spiritual life, and
  blessed us with the gift of everlasting salvation!

Thank God for His sovereign, discriminating grace!

An all-sufficient Savior — and a needy sinner!

(Frank Hall)

"Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved!" Psalm 55:22

Why are we so determined to carry our own burdens, when we have proved countless times that we are utterly insufficient for the task? Is it not due to our sinful flesh, carnal pride, and foolish self-sufficiency? We often mope about in sadness and depression with heavy hearts — because we foolishly, ignorantly, and obstinately refuse to cast our burden on the LORD.

The Lord Jesus has proven Himself fully capable and willing to carry our heaviest burdens. The heaviest load that has ever been carried was carried by Him, for "the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all!" Isaiah 53:6. It was the tremendous weight of our sins made His — which laid Him low in the garden of Gethsemane, and pressed His blood through the pores of His skin. In infinite mercy and grace, He bore our sins, our guilt, and our shame in His own body on the cruel tree, and was made a curse for us — that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He not only carried our sins to Calvary's cross, He took them away forever by the sacrifice of Himself. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us!" Psalm 103:12 

Children of God, let us forever cease from fleshly self-dependence — and cast every burden on our mighty Savior. It doesn't matter what the burden is, or how heavy the load is — the Lord Jesus is ready, able, and willing to bear it for us. We need not bear it even for a moment. It is our glorious right and God-given privilege as the beloved children of God, to cast every care and every burden on our Savior.

Are your struggling to carry a burden of guilt and sin? Struggle no longer and stumble no more. Cast your sin and guilt on Him! He will . . .
  sustain you,
  forgive you,
  receive you, and
  embrace you!

Are your responsibilities stressful and overwhelming your soul? Do not neglect them, but do not presume that you are sufficient to do anything on your own.
Cast them on Him,
seek His grace,
depend on His mighty arm
 — and He will sustain you!

Is your heart laid low with heavy cares and secret troubles? Cast them all on Christ!

In love, grace, and wisdom, your Savior gave you these cares and troubles — not to see how far you could carry them on your own — but to bring you to the end of yourself. He gave you these cares to show you your inability, your weakness, and your need of Him — that you would cease from your carnal self-confidence and find your all in Him — full salvation, infinite strength, unceasing aid, everlasting sufficiency, and perfect help. 

His power and grace are sufficient for us in all things . . .
  in every trial,
  in every circumstance,
  and in every temptation.
He will sustain us to the end. He will never allow His righteous ones to be moved. He loves them with an everlasting immutable love! They will never be utterly forsaken or cast down. He . . .
  keeps them,
  protects them,
  helps them,
  preserves them,
  provides for their souls, and
  sustains them freely forever by His almighty grace!

No two things fit more perfectly together, than an all-sufficient Savior — and a needy sinner!

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you!" 1 Peter 5:6-7

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Three words to ponder!

(David Murray)

"They crucified Him!" Mark 15:24

Three words full of Hell — and full of Heaven.

Three words full of horror — and full of hope.

Three words full of damnation — and full of salvation.

Three words full of sin — and full of pardon.

Three words full of darkness — and full of light.

Three words full of death — and full of life.

Three words full of hate — and full of love.

Three words to ponder.

Ponder the "they."

Ponder the "Him."

Ponder what they DID to Him.


The three worst words ever written!

The three best words ever written!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Better than life!

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

"Your loving-kindness is better than life!" Psalm 63:3

Life is existence. Here it means existence under the most favorable circumstances: as life in ease, honor, plenty — life surrounded by all that is desirable.

But what then, is God's loving-kindness?
It is His love displaying itself in . . .
  kind words,
  kind acts,
  kind discoveries of His divine excellencies;
  feasting the soul with spiritual delights.

God's loving-kindness is better than life, for . . .
  it bestows greater blessings,
  it confers higher honors,
  it imparts sweeter pleasures,
  it raises higher expectations,
  and it throws around us greater security.

It is better, for . . .
  it is more lasting;
  it is more suited to the nature of the soul;
  it is truly glorious.

It is . . .
  unmixed good,
  unfading pleasure,
  inexhaustible wealth!

Well then may the psalmist prefer it to life, and well may he say, "My lips shall praise You" for my present enjoyment of it, and for the prospect of eternally enjoying it!

Do you value life? Do you prefer God's loving-kindness better than life?

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The fathomless mystery of the Cross!

(Alexander Smellie, "On the Secret Place" 1907)

"From the sixth hour until the ninth hour, darkness came over all the land!" Matthew 27:45

With bowed head and an adoring heart, I draw near to the crucifixion-darkness of Christ's suffering and my salvation. I think of the fathomless mystery of the Cross!

On Calvary, I am within the clouds of God's eternal purpose. The beginning of His grace in Jesus Christ, is beyond my reach. He loved me from eternity — before the foundations of the earth were laid! How can I comprehend it, this everlastingness of redemption? Yet it should be my joy to ponder it. If He has cared for me from eternity past — I may be assured of His sustaining me through an incalculable future.

But on Calvary, too, I am within the clouds of God's immeasurable sorrow. There are secrets of unfathomable anguish here, with which I dare not meddle. This is a midnight blackness before which the angels must veil their faces with their wings. "God — forsaken by God!" Luther exclaimed, "who can understand it?" I tread softly — the place is holy ground. Yes — but happy ground, since He has redeemed me. My Savior was made a curse for me — that I might be a child forever within His heavenly home!

On Calvary, moreover, I am within the clouds of God's ineffable wisdom. The Cross of Jesus has been the central theme in the study of the profoundest Christian thinkers — and none of them has exhausted the theme. It is God's most wondrous work — God's last word. I can never explain it fully. But I perceive that it glorifies both the inflexible holiness of my Judge — and the unfathomable love of my Father! This I am sure of, that it gives me an unveiling of His many-sided attributes and perfections, such as I cannot gain anywhere else.

Shrouded in the darkness — Christ gained new beauty, new worth, new dominion. It was in crucifixion-darkness, that His glory shone most brightly forth. Now He was invested with the Calvary-attraction which draws me to Him.

May the thick crucifixion-darkness be an ever-opening secret between Him and me. Out of the shadows, may the beams of divine hope and love pour into my soul. Jesus sacrificed for my sins — may He be all my salvation and all my desire!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our present sufferings

(Thomas Brooks)

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word!" Psalm 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn Your decrees." Psalm 119:71

"I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness YOU have afflicted me!" Psalm 119:75

Afflictions are called by some "the mother of virtue."

Manasseh's chain was more profitable to him than his crown.

Luther could not understand some Scriptures, until he was in affliction.

Oh, how sweet is . . .
  a harbor after a long storm, and
  a sunshiny day after a dark and tempestuous night,
  and a warm spring after a sharp winter!
Just so, the miseries and difficulties that a Christian meets with in this world — will exceedingly sweeten the glory of the eternal world!

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us!" Romans 8:18

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The very best place to get the transformed, transfigured life!

(J.R. Miller, "The Shining Light" 1911)

We need to remember that this world is not so much a place for doing Christian ministries — as for developing Christly character.

Household life is not primarily a sphere for cooking, keeping things tidy, sweeping and dusting, nursing and training of children, hospitable entertainment of friends, and the thousand things that must be done each day. It is a sphere for transforming women's souls into radiant Christly beauty!

The shop, the mill, the factory, the store, the office, the farm — are not primarily places for making machines, selling goods, weaving cloths, building engines, and growing crops. They are, first of all, places for making Christly men, and building holy character.

Right in the midst of what some people call drudgery — is the very best place to get the transformed, transfigured life!

"God who has saved us and called us to a holy life" 2 Timothy 1:9

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Ah, the thanklessness of it, the ugliness, the evil!

(Alexander Smellie, "On the Secret Place" 1907)

"Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. 'Could you not keep watch with Me for one hour?' He asked."  Matthew 26:40

Every word is incisive — every syllable is an arrow whose point has been dipped in yearning and wounded love.

1. The sleep is inexcusable, because of the indebtedness of the disciple. "Could YOU not keep watch?" asks Christ; and the you is emphatic:
 you, who have heard My teaching;
 you, who witnessed My miracles;
 you, who known the allurement of My life;
 you, whom I have crowned with My special favor;
 you, who have sworn your fidelity so often and so recently!

Such things He has done for me as well — such blessings He has bestowed; such pains He has undergone. And shall I be negligent towards Him? Ah, the thanklessness of it, the ugliness, the evil!

2. And the sleep is inexcusable, because of the modesty of the Lord's demand. He asked, "Could you not keep WATCH?" Now let me lay the stress on the verb, watch. He might have bidden me to . . .
  drink the wormwood and the gall with Him;
  climb the hill of shame by His side;
  die, as He died, of a broken heart.
But the Cross and the curse are for Himself alone — and from me He seeks simply . . .
  the open eye,
  and the consecrated mind,
  and the obedient spirit.
He does not call me to exile or prison or martyrdom — but to guard myself, to repel the advance of temptation, to cultivate holiness and obedience. It seems unpardonable, that Christ's friend should deny Him a gift so small!

3. And the sleep is inexcusable, because of the measurelessness of the Savior's deserts. "Could you not keep watch WITH ME?" What poignancy and pathos dwell in the last words! He is my Healer, my Teacher, my King, my God, my Savior! The earth moves at His command. The beasts are governed by His scepter, and the birds sing His praise. High in the ranks of creation, the angels are flames of fire, and speed at His requests. All creation does His will.

But He blesses me — as He has blessed none of them. They do not know my motives to spend and be spent for Him. To support me, He became man. To bless me with eternal glory, He emptied Himself, and was numbered with transgressors. Shall I forget Him?

4. And the sleep is inexcusable, because of the brevity of the vigilance. "Could you not keep watch with Me FOR ONE HOUR?" How quickly one hour runs out to its final second! Many a night, from sunset to sunrise, He spent pleading for me, the morning star finding Him where the evening star had left Him. He devoted a whole eternity, ageless and endless — to the devising and accomplishing of my salvation! And shall I grudge Him my fast-fleeting days? His grace towards me has neither commencement nor close — and how can I rob Him of those few fragments of time which remain to me? Nay, this very moment let me arise!

Sleeping disciples — I wonder whether I am among them!

  ~  ~  ~  ~

What, then, did He mean?

(Alexander Smellie, "On the Secret Place" 1907)

"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
John 17:16

Christ did not mean that I am to withdraw and seclude myself from society. He did not do so Himself. He came and dwelt with sinners — and He bids me to walk in His footsteps. I am to live in the world, as a holy child of God.

Neither did He mean that I am to be censorious towards those around me. There was no censoriousness in Him. Wherever He went, His presence diffused sunshine and warmth and joy.

He does not wish me to moralize on the defects and errors of others. He has no desire that I should be fault-finding, critical, or harsh. I may be unsparing in judging myself; but in my thoughts and words regarding others, there must be all considerateness, all forbearance, all patience and hope.

What, then, did He mean?

That I am not to consider myself to be at home in this world.

That every day I must show myself to be a citizen of Heaven. 

That there must be an easily-perceived difference between me and those who do not travel beyond the present realm of things.

That, however friendly I am with others, I must hold aloof from their sinful habits and recreations. I must make them understand . . .
  that my work is to glorify God,
  that my model is Christ, and
  that my citizenship is in Heaven!

Again, let me consider my Master. None drew closer to men and women than He — yet there was always a holy distinction felt and seen. Enemies and friends recognized it. And I am to have such an intense personal devotion to Him, that I shall be found only where I firmly believe He would be — and that I shall practice and follow only what He approves. It is to be my one fear, that I would hurt His kind heart.

Here is my rule: Not of the world — even as He was not of the world.

The rule is to be operative everywhere.

It will cast out of my business whatever is evil; and I shall count it impossible to do anything false or unjust in the workshop and the counting-house.

It will hallow my amusements. I shall suspect any amusement into which the thought of Christ intrudes like a shadow — and welcome the happiness to which He goes with me.

It will direct me in whatever I read — everything must be consistent with Christ's holiness.

It will direct me wherever I go — I shall hear His voice among the trees of the garden, and not be afraid.

It is the motto for the whole of my history — I am to do whatever Jesus would do — if He were here in my place.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

What does the Lord require of you?

(Alexander Smellie, "On the Secret Place" 1907)

"What does the Lord require of you?
 To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

Simplicity and comprehensiveness mark the requirements of my God. He can abbreviate His demands into the fewest words; but they are words which embrace . . .
  the inward and outward,
  the present and future,
  the earthly and the heavenly.

I may fall into serious error regarding His will for me:

It is not a religion of ritual observances which He requires. How easily I attach an undue importance to ceremonies and forms, rites and penances and fasts!

Nor does He solicit primarily a religion of external moralities. God looks on my heart.

Nor is it a religion of emotions of which He is in quest. I must not put excitement and tears, in the place of saving grace and childlike obedience.

But see, my soul, God asks us to act justly. I cannot be His, unless I do justly. Everything that takes an improper advantage of another, and all that departs from the straightest line of absolute rectitude — I must hate and abjure. It is a demand which pierces deeper than it seems. For the integrity of conduct He desires — is the outcome only of a conscience He has quickened, and a will He has bent into submission to His law. The ethics of the Gospel are preceded and rendered possible, by the redemption and regeneration of the Gospel.

And God asks tenderness. He counsels me to love mercy. The world is full of sorrow, and I am to move through it as a good physician, befriending and uplifting those in need.

It is what He does Himself. Every glorious quality has its fountain in Him — but pre-eminently the quality of mercy. He is the great Forgiver and the great Helper — no earthly father loves like Him, and no mother is half so mild. So my feeble torch is but kindled at His altar. My charities and philanthropies must be learned in His school, who pardons my ten thousand transgressions!

And God asks humility. He commands me to lay my hand in His, and to walk humbly in His company. Nothing is so essential as poverty of spirit. It is the source and spring from which alone runs the fertilizing river of a holy life. The humble heart is where the flowers of Heaven find their congenial soil, and grow into beauty and fragrance. I only begin to be a disciple, when my proud heart is brought low — and my Savior is lifted high.

Now, my Father, if these are to be the features of my soul — then it is manifest that none but You can create them, and can nurture them, and can lead them to their perfection. Do the work Lord, and have the glory!

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The most despised verse in the entire Bible!

(Frank Hall)

"Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." Romans 9:13 

This is perhaps the most despised verse in the entire Bible!

Contrary to popular religious opinion, God does not love all people.

There are only two kinds of people in this world — Jacobs and Esaus.
These two men represent the entire human race.
Jacob represents God's elect — and Esau represents the reprobate.
Jacob is loved by God — and Esau is hated by God. 

God's love is sovereign and free. God's love for Jacob did not depend on Jacob. God loved Jacob, simply because He chose to love Jacob — not because He saw something in Jacob that merited His love. In fact, Jacob proved himself to be completely unworthy of God's love — as do all whom God loves.

God's love depends on God, not Jacob. Jacob can't earn God's love, and Jacob cannot lose God's love — because it does not depend on him. The love of God is completely sovereign and free. God gives and withholds His love as He sees fit.

God's love is discriminating love. Love is always discriminating. By definition, love is never common to all. Jacob was set apart by God's love, and being set apart by God's love — he had God's special favor and the affection of God's heart. God's love is always particular and distinguishing. He does not love all people — He only loves Jacob.

God's love for Jacob and hatred for Esau are according to His eternal purpose, not according to their works. "Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad — in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works, but by Him who calls . . . Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy!" Romans 9:11-16

Jacob was elected to salvation before he was born, and Esau was rejected by God before he was born — according to God's eternal purpose.

Because Jacob was loved by God — God sent His Son into this world to redeem him from his sins. Christ died for Jacob — not for Esau! "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

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The greatest miracle that God does today!

(Leonard Ravenhill)

The greatest miracle that God does today, is to
  take an unholy man out of an unholy world,
  and make that unholy man holy,
  and put him back into that unholy world,
  and keep him holy in it!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Here is another short insightful quote from Ravenhill, "Thousands of preachers who would not dare cut Hell out of their Bibles, have cut it out of their preaching!"

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Three things which he dared not think of!

(Thomas Watson)

Luther said there were three things which he dared not think of without Christ:
   his sins,
   his death,
   his judgment.

Death, to a Christless soul, is the King of Terrors!