Grace Gems for FEBRUARY, 2015

Grace Gems for FEBRUARY, 2015

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Why does God afflict us?

(Ashton Oxenden, "The Blessings and Trials of Sickness" 1863)

"Affliction does not come forth from the dust, neither does trouble spring forth out of the ground!"
Job 5:6

"Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good." Deuteronomy 8:5

"I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me!" Psalm 119:75

"As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline!" Revelation 3:19

"For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6

"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9

Dear Reader, I have come into your sick-room, as it were, and wish to tell you a few things for your comfort and profit.

God has seen fit to stop you in the midst of your busy life, and to lay you aside for a while. It is not by chance that His afflicting hand has fallen upon you. It is not at random that He has chastened you. It may seem to be a mere accident that you are afflicted, and not another. But no; God has done it purposely!

Learn this then--that your present sickness or affliction is from God. It is His doing. He it is, who has brought this present chastisement upon you. Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father's ordering, and He prizes His redeemed children more than many sparrows.

Sickness usually comes as a messenger of divine love--it is sent to be a blessing, and may be made, by God's grace, a very great blessing to the soul. God afflicts His children because He desires to do them some great good.

The gardener cuts and prunes his tree, to make it grow better, and bear more precious fruit. In the same way, God often uses His sharp knife for some gracious purpose.

The wise and loving father thwarts his child, and sometimes scourges it, for its good. Just so, God uses His chastening rod for the very same reason.

The skillful physician prescribes nauseous medicines to restore his patient's health. In the same way, God makes us take His bitter medicines, though at the time they are very distasteful to us.

Why does God afflict us?

Because He loves us, and wishes to make us holy as He is holy, and happy as He is happy. For, as it has been well said, "Fiery trials make golden Christians!" God had one Son without sin--but He never had any son without sorrow.

God chastens purposely and lovingly. Affliction comes from Him; and He afflicts, not as a stern Judge, but as a Father and a Friend.

Before then you go a step further, ask God to convince you of this precious truth: "It is my Father who corrects me--even He who loves me! I will receive this chastisement then from Him, and remember that it is a loving hand that smites. I will kiss the very rod that scourges me. Father, not my will, but may Your will be done!"

A true Christian will receive affliction with submission. It is his Father's doing; and therefore he quietly submits. It comes from Him, and must therefore be well. He feels that there is a needs-be for it. What a sweet pillow is this, on which to rest his weary head!

"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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Troubles, troubles, troubles!

(Henry Smith)

"Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." Job 5:7

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous!" Psalm 34:19

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows!" John 16:33

"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God!" Acts 14:22

Since we are not in paradise--but in the wilderness, we must expect one trouble after another. As in the case of David . . .
  first he fought a lion,
  and then a bear,
  and then a giant,
  and then the Philistines,
  and then a King!
In the same way, believers may . . .
 first fight with poverty,
 and then with envy;
 and then with slander;
 and then with sickness.
They shall be like a laborer who is never out of work.

"While I continue on this side of eternity, I never expect to be free from trials and hardships--only to change them. Every new scene brings its new trials!" (George Whitefield)

"Troubles come, and then a respite is granted; and then new troubles follow on the heels of the old ones." (Arthur Pink)

"Expect daily trouble while in the flesh. Something or other happens every day that will grieve us. Perhaps events concerning ourselves, our families, or friends, that are matters of sorrow. Perhaps we have some bodily pain or sickness every day; or, some cross and disappointment in our affairs." (Matthew Henry)

"God has appointed this whole life to be as a race or a battle. The state of rest, wherein we shall be so out of danger as to have no need of watching and fighting, is for the eternal world." (Jonathan Edwards)

"My own experience is a daily struggle with the evil within." (Charles Spurgeon)

"O dear friends, make up your minds to carry the cross daily. To be fore-warned is to be fore-armed. All God's children go through these tribulations." (Robert Murray M'Cheyne)

"You will have your trials and crosses before you will have your crown--and they will not come in the way most suited to your natural wishes. A cross is to be a cross! You will have trials with your church, trials with your family, and trials with the world. But that monster SELF will be your worst trial! Nevertheless, as the sufferings abound, so also the consolations; and as your day is, so your strength shall be." (William Tiptaft)

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God's tools and instruments!

(J.C. Ryle)

"If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?" Judges 6:13

Let all true Christians lay these things to heart, and take courage. We live in a world where all things are ordered by a hand of perfect wisdom; and where in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.

The powers of this world are only tools in the hand of God--He is always using them for His own purposes, however little they may be aware of it. They are the instruments by which He is forever cutting and polishing the living stones of His spiritual temple--and all their schemes and plans will only turn to His praise.

Let us be patient in days of trouble and darkness, and look forward. The very things which now seem against us--are all working together for our good and God's glory!

"God is to be trusted when His providences seem to run contrary to His promises." (Thomas Watson)

"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

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What an amazing stoop of love is that!

(Arthur Pink, 1952)

"He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the dunghill--to set them among princes, and make them inherit the throne of glory!" 1 Samuel 2:8

What an amazing stoop of love is that
--from His throne in the Heaven of heavens, the Lord reaches down to the dunghills of earth--that He may deliver those who are in a lost and loathsome estate!

But this verse tells us of something yet more wonderful than the grace which seeks out filthy objects who are a mass of corruption--making known how high it elevates them: "To set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory."

God does nothing by halves. He exalts beggars to the status of "beloved children." He takes them into the place of nearness unto Himself. He brings them into union with His dear Son, making them "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ!" (Romans 8:17). He takes them out of the miry clay of an unregenerate state--and sets them upon the rock. Marvelous transition and exaltation is that! Translated from the most abject condition--to the highest possible dignity!
Shame is replaced by the highest honor;
filthy rags are replaced by the spotless robe of righteousness,
poverty is replaced by the unsearchable riches of Christ!

We rightly marvel at the goodness and power of God in raising poor beggars from such depths to such heights--but let us also be awed and solemnized by recalling afresh the dreadful price which had to be paid before that could righteously be done. The abasement of the Son of God was necessary--in order to the advancement of vile worms of the earth. He who was rich had to sound the lowest level of poverty--before we could be made rich. The Beloved of the Father had to be made an object of shame--before we could be raised. The Lord of glory must die--in order for Hell-deserving sinners to be made alive!

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My portion!

(Jonathan Edwards)

"The LORD is the portion of my inheritance!" Psalm 16:5

The redeemed have all their good in God. God Himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God Himself is the inheritance of the saints; He is the portion of their souls. God Himself is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory! "Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You!"
Psalm 73:25

The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints. The love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another. But that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in anything else whatsoever, which will yield them delight and happiness--will be what will be seen of God in them!

"You are my portion, O LORD!" Psalm 119:57

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He shall never see death!

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

"He shall never see death!" John 8:51

"Death has been swallowed up in victory!" 1 Corinthians 15:54

Believer, you have nothing to do with death--for you can never die! For you, Jesus has abolished death, by dying for you, and in your stead. You are in Him, and in Him you may fall asleep--but you shall never die! Death can have no dominion over you.

As to  . . .
you shall physically die,
  where you shall die,
  or how you shall die--
you have no more to do, than you had with when, where, and how you would be born!

Life is your business--not death!
Your only concerns are . . .
  living on Christ;
  living for Christ;
  living like Christ; and then,
  living forever with Christ!
"And so we will be with the Lord forever!" 1 Thessalonians 4:17

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God only saves the Un-People!

(Darvin Pruitt)

"When we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6

God only saves the Un-People
  the unprofitable,
  the ungodly,
  the unrighteous,
  the undeserving,
  the unlovable,
  the and undone!

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God!" 1 Peter 3:18

"Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ . . . without hope and without God in the world." Ephesians 2:12

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Let me tell you a little secret!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law!" Psalm 119:18

Let me tell you a little secret: whenever you cannot understand a text, open your Bible, bend your knee, and pray over that text; and if it does not split into atoms and open itself, then try again. If prayer does not explain it, then it is one of those things that God did not intend you to know, and you may be content to be ignorant of it.

Prayer is the key that opens the cabinets of mystery. Prayer and faith are sacred picklocks that can open secrets, and obtain great treasures! There is no college for holy education like that of the blessed Spirit, for He is an ever-present tutor, to whom we have only to bend the knee, and He is at our side--the great expositor of truth!

You will frequently find fresh streams of thought leaping up from the passage before you, as if the rock had been struck by Moses' rod! New veins of precious ore will be revealed to your astonished gaze as you quarry God's Word and use diligently the hammer of prayer!

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth!" John 16:13

"Every text prayed over opens a mine of 'unsearchable riches,' with a light from above, more clear and full than the most intelligent exposition." (Charles Bridges)

"A humble and prayerful spirit will find a thousand things in the Bible--which the proud, self-conceited student will utterly fail to discern." (J.C. Ryle)

"There should be a definite asking Him to graciously anoint our eyes--not only that we may be enabled to behold wondrous things in His law, but also that He will make us of quick discernment to perceive how the passage before us applies to ourselves--what are the particular lessons we need to learn from it. The more we cultivate this habit, the more likely that God will be pleased to open His Word unto us." (Arthur Pink)

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The doctrine which is according to godliness!

(Arthur Pink, "Practical Christianity")

"The doctrine which is according to godliness" 1 Timothy 6:3

The doctrine which is according to godliness at once defines the nature of Divine doctrine, intimating that its design or end is to inculcate a right temper of mind and deportment of life--it is pure and purifying. It is very much more than a series of intellectual truths intended for the instructing of our brains. The doctrine which is according to godliness, is the enunciation of spiritual facts and holy principles, for the warming of the heart and the regulating of our lives.

The objects which are revealed in Scripture are not bare abstractions which are to be accepted as true, nor even sublime and lofty concepts to be admired--they are to have a powerful effect upon our daily walk. There is no doctrine revealed in Scripture for a merely speculative knowledge, but all is to exert a powerful influence upon conduct. God's design in all that He has revealed to us, is to the purifying of our affections and the transforming of our characters.

It is absurd to conclude that if my creed is sound, then it matters little how I live. Thus it is possible to deny the Faith by conduct--as well as by words. A neglect of performing our duty is as real a repudiation of the Truth, as is an open renunciation of it!

The doctrine of grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11, 12).  By far the greater part of the doctrine taught by Christ consisted not of the explication of mysteries--but rather that which corrected men's lusts and reformed their lives. Everything in Scripture has in view the promotion of holiness.

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Never have I been so sensible

(Jonathan Edwards)

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!" Job 42:5-6

"Surely every man walks in a vain show!" Psalm 39:6

Never have I been so sensible--of how vain a creature man is, what a leaf driven by the wind, what dry stubble, what poor dust, a bubble, a shadow, a nothing, and more vain than nothing!

And never have I been so sensible--of what a vain and vile and helpless creature I am--and how much I need God's help in everything.

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

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The drop of water--and a giant being!

(Charles Spurgeon, "God's Estimate of Time" 1862)

"Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust!" Isaiah 40:15

Within the compass of a drop of water we are told that sometimes a thousand living creatures may be discovered; and to those diminutive creatures, no doubt, their size is something very important. There is a creature inside that drop which can only be seen by the strongest microscope--but it is a hundred times larger than its neighbor, and it feels, no doubt, that the difference is amazing and extraordinary.

But to you and to I, who cannot even see the largest of these creatures with the naked eye, the larger animalcule is as imperceptible as his dwarfish friend--they both seem so utterly insignificant that we squander whole millions of them, and are not very penitent if we destroy them by thousands.

But what would one of those little imperceptible animals say if some prophet of its own kind could tell them that there is a 'giant being' living that would reckon the 'whole world of a drop of water' as nothing, and could take up ten thousand thousand of those drops and scatter them without exertion of half its power; that this 'giant being' would not be encumbered if it should carry on the tip of its finger all the thousands that live in that great world--a drop of water; that this 'giant being' would have no disturbance of heart, even if the great king of one of the empires in that drop should gather all his armies against it and lead them to battle?

Why, then the minuscule creatures would say, "How can this be? We can hardly grasp the idea?"

But when that microscopic philosopher could have gotten an idea of man, and of the utter insignificance of its own self, and of its own little narrow world--then it would have achieved an easy task, compared with that which lies before us when we attempt to get an idea of our great God. 

We think of the infinite nature of God in being able to marshal all the stars, and govern all the orbs which bespangle the brow of night; but I take it to be quite as great a wonder that He should even know that such insignificant nothings as we humans are in existence, much more that He should count every hair of our heads, and not allow one of them to fall to the ground without His express decree. 

The Infinite is as much known in the 'small' as in the 'magnanimous', and God may be as really discovered by us in the drop of water as in the rolling orb. But this is astonishing of God--that He even observes us!

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It is difficult to distinguish him from the unconverted man!

(A.W. Tozer)

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

For centuries the Church has stood solidly against worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was:
  a device for wasting time,
  a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience,
  a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability.
For this she got herself abused roundly by the ungodly. But of late she has become tired of the abuse, and has given up the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god 'Entertainment' she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers.

The average church member lives a life so worldly and careless, that it is difficult to distinguish him from the unconverted man!

"The world had absorbed the Church, and the church is content that it should be so!" Horatius Bonar

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The golden key that fits all locks!

(John MacDuff
, "Thoughts for the Quiet Hour", 1895)

"If I have not love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2

What a magic spell there is in love!--the absolute devotion of a beautiful soul that loses itself in the hallowed mission of radiating peace and joy and sympathy all around.

When other charmers have failed to charm, many dull,
unsusceptible ears have been arrested and won by the
music of kindness
. By it . . .
  old-age renews its youth,
  sick pillows are smoothed,
  burdens are eased,
  tears are turned into smiles,
  dirges are turned into songs.

Love is, of all magical charms, the most irresistible.

Love is the golden key that fits all locks!

"Love is patient, love is kind.
 It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 Love never fails!" 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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LOVE IS... being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.

LOVE IS... actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.

LOVE IS... making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.

LOVE IS... being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.

LOVE IS... being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.

LOVE IS... a making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.

LOVE IS... being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.

LOVE IS... making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.

LOVE IS... being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged, but looking for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.

LOVE IS... being a good student of another, looking for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support them as they carry it, or encourage them along the way.

LOVE IS... being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the relational problems you face, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.

LOVE IS... being willing to always ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.

LOVE IS... recognizing the high value of trust in a relationship and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.

LOVE IS... speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack the other person's character or assault their intelligence.

LOVE IS... being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to coerce the other person into giving you what you want or doing something your way.

LOVE IS... the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a spouse, parent, neighbor, etc.

LOVE IS... a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your relationships.

LOVE IS... staying faithful to your commitment to treat another with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when the other person doesn't seem deserving or is unwilling to reciprocate.

LOVE IS... the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of a relationship without asking for anything in return or using your sacrifices to place the other person in your debt.

LOVE IS... being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm a relationship, hurt the other person, or weaken the bond of trust between you.

LOVE IS... refusing to be self-focused or demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.

LOVE IS... daily admitting to yourself, the other person, and God that you are unable to be driven by a cruciform love without God's protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.  [By Paul Tripp. The above resource is from Paul Tripp Ministries. For additional resources, visit Used with permission.]

"Love is patient, love is kind.
 It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 Love never fails!" 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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God's school for His children!

"Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered." Hebrews 5:8

"Our Savior learned obedience by the things which He suffered--and so must we. Affliction, if patiently endured, and sanctified to us--is a great purifier of our corrupted natures. It will teach us excellent things." (George Whitefield)

"Christian experience is only learned in the school of affliction." (George Whitefield)

"God loves His own children too well to exempt them from affliction. It is a blessed thing when our trials cure our earnest love for perishable worldly things." (William S. Plumer)

"Affliction is the school in which great virtues are acquired, in which holy characters are formed." (Hannah More)

"Afflictions are sent for this end, to bring us to the throne of grace, to teach us to pray, and to make the Word of God's grace precious to us. It has always been to the advantage of God's people to be afflicted. Many are taught with the briars and thorns of affliction, who would not learn otherwise." (Matthew Henry)

"No man, without trials and temptations, can attain a true understanding of the Holy Scriptures. I never knew the meaning of God's Word, until I came into affliction. I have always found it one of my best school-masters." (Martin Luther)

"If this experimental acquaintance with the Bible is the result of affliction--then welcome the discipline whose rod of correction blossoms into such golden fruit! Let God's dealings with us be ever so dark, painful, and afflicting--it is utterly impossible that anything can be against the best interests of a believer in Christ." (Octavius Winslow)

"Affliction is God's flail to thresh off our husks!" (Thomas Watson)

"Let any Christian view his own life, and see how nearly his whole spiritual progress has been made in the seasons of trial. It is by their private afflictions chiefly that individuals grow in grace." (R.L. Dabney)

"I bear my willing testimony to the blessing that affliction and trial have been to me. I owe more to God's furnace and the file, than I can ever describe!" (C.H. Spurgeon)

"There are no lessons so useful as those learned in the school of affliction." (J.C. Ryle)

"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him!" Learn how little cause we have then to be discontented at outward trials and afflictions! What! Shall we be discontented at that which works for our good? If one friend should throw a bag of money at another, and in throwing it, should graze his head, he would not be troubled much, seeing by this means he had got a bag of money. So the Lord may bruise us by afflictions--but it is to enrich us. These afflictions work for us an exceeding weight of glory--and shall we be discontented?" (Thomas Watson)

"We are only scholars. It rests with the Great Teacher to decide which lesson shall come next--a hard one or an easy one." (William Ward) 

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness!" Hebrews 12:10

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Everything short of Hell--is a mercy!

James Smith, "Profitable Portions For the Lord's Day" 1865)

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud--but gives grace to the humble!" 1 Peter 5:5

The humble man may have anything from God. Who are the humble? Those who have a proper sense of their guilt, emptiness, and utter nothingness before God. Divine teaching has . . .
  brought them into the dust,
  stopped their boasting,
  cropped their pride, and
  softened their stony hearts.

Pride is one of the most mischievous things in creation! It appears to have been the cause of the fall of angels, and it certainly was the cause of the fall of our first parents. Pride does more evil in the world, in the church, and in the domestic circle--than anything else; while humility is one of the most beautiful, beneficial, and pleasing of the graces. Humility pleases God, approves itself to man, and prevents a world of mischief and misery!

"The humble" have low views of themselves. They see so many sad defects on the one hand, and so many glaring inconsistencies on the other--that they are obliged to lay low before God in shame and self-abhorrence. With Job, they cry, "Behold, I am vile!" Or, with Agur, "So foolish was I, and ignorant, I was as a beast before You!"

"The humble" know that . . .
  their every grace is imperfect,
  their every service is polluted and defiled, and
  even their very prayers need to be cleansed in the blood of Jesus.

"The humble" have a vivid and abiding sense of their deserts. They know that if God were to deal with them in pure justice--they must be sent to Hell. They deserve nothing better. Everything short of Hell--is a mercy! They realize this, and it humbles them, it makes them willing to take the lowest place. They feel that all the difference between them and the most depraved person on earth--is to be traced to the free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace of God.
"By the grace of God--I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

They have a humility of disposition, so that they do not complain of the Lord. He tries them. He strips them. He weans them from the world. He . . .
  baffles their schemes,
  frustrates their designs, and
  often cuts off their hopes!
But they justify Him, and say, "It is the Lord! Let Him do what seems good unto Him!"

"The humble" do not cavil at God's Word. They receive the doctrines, promises, and precepts of the Word, just as God has revealed them.

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Running to and fro like ants upon a heap!

(J.C. Ryle, "Riches and Poverty" 1878)

"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side.
 The rich man also died and was buried." Luke 16:22

Observe how all classes alike come to the grave. Lazarus died--and the rich man also died. As different and divided as they were in their lives--they had both to drink of the same cup at the last. Both went to the 'house appointed for all living'. Both went to that place where rich and poor meet together. Dust they were--and unto dust they returned.

This is the lot of all men. After all our scheming, and contriving, and planning, and studying--after all our inventions, and discoveries, and scientific attainments--there remains one 'enemy' we cannot conquer and disarm--and that is Death!

The chapter in Genesis, which records the long lives of Methuselah, and the rest who lived before the flood, winds up the simple story of each, by two expressive words, "He died." And now, after thousands of years, what more can be said of the greatest among ourselves? The histories of Washington, and Napoleon, and Shakespeare arrive at the same humbling conclusion. The end of each, after all his greatness, is just this, "He died."

Death is a mighty leveler! He spares none, he waits for none! He will not tarry until you are ready. He will not be kept out by doors, and bars, and bolts. The Englishman boasts that his home is his castle--but, with all his boasting, he cannot exclude death. An Austrian nobleman forbade death to be named in his presence. But named or not named, it matters little--in God's appointed hour, death will come!

One man rolls lazily along the road in the smoothest and handsomest carriage which money can procure; another toils wearily along the path on foot--yet both are sure to meet at last in the same long home!

One man, like Absalom, has fifty servants to wait upon him and do his bidding; another has none to lift a finger to do him a service--but both are traveling to a place where they must lie down alone!

One man is the owner of millions; another has scarcely a dollar that he can call his own property--yet neither one nor the other can carry one penny with him into the unseen world.

One man is the possessor of half a county; another has not so much as an inch of land--and yet 'six feet' of dirt will be amply sufficient for either of them at the last!

One man pampers his body with every possible delicacy, and clothes it in the richest and softest apparel; another has scarcely enough to eat, and seldom enough to put on--yet both alike are hurrying on to a day when "ashes to ashes, and dust to dust," shall be proclaimed over them!

Fifty years hence, none shall be able to say, "This was the rich man's bone--and this the bone of the poor man."

Reader, I know that these are ancient things. I do not deny it for a moment. I am writing stale old things that all men know--but I am also writing things that all men do not feel. Oh, no! if they did feel them, they would not speak and live as they do.

We see 'death' gradually thinning our congregations; we miss face after face in our assemblies; we know not whose turn may come next! We only know as the tree falls--there it will lie, and that "after death comes the judgment!"

Oh, that men would learn to live--as those who must one day die! Truly it is poor work to set our affections on a dying world and its short-lived comforts--and lose a glorious immortality! Here we are toiling, and laboring, and wearying ourselves about trifles, and running to and fro like ants upon a heap--and yet after a few years we shall all be gone, and another generation will fill our place!

Live for eternity, reader! Seek a portion which can never be taken from you!

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I am my Beloved's--and my Beloved is mine!

(Archibald Brown, "This God Our God!")

"I am my Beloved's--and my Beloved is mine!" Song of Songs 6:3

There are two passages in the Scripture which ought never to be separated.

One is
"The LORD's portion is His people." Deuteronomy 32:9. That is God's side.

And the other passage is this:
"The LORD is my portion." Lamentations 3:24

God and I possess each other. God finds His portion in His people--and His people find their portion in God.

His heart is mine--for He loves me.
His ear is mine--for I may pour into it all my tales of sorrow and all my songs of joy.
His eyes are mine--for they watch me from morning until night.
His hand is mine--for it is stretched out to uphold me.
This God is mine--in all His glorious perfections!

Oh, He is a God of infinite glory. Abased in the very dust, and half bewildered by the thought, I yet dare to look up, and say, "T
his God is my God forever and ever! He will be my guide even until death!" Psalm 48:14

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The name of the LORD is a strong tower!

(Ralph Erskine, 1685-1752)

"The name of the LORD is a strong tower!
 A righteous person runs to it and is safe!" Proverbs 18:10

Jesus has a name suiting every want, every need.

Do you need wonders to be wrought for you? His name is Wonderful; look to Him so to do, for His name's sake.

Do you need counsel and direction? His name is the Counselor; cast yourself on Him and His mighty name for this.

Have you mighty enemies to engage? His name is the Mighty God; seek that He may exert His power for His name's sake.

Do you need His fatherly pity? His name is the everlasting Father; as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him. Plead His pity, for His name's sake.

Do you need peace--external, internal, or eternal? His name is the Prince of Peace; seek for His name's sake, that He may create peace.

O sirs, His name is Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord, the healer and physician; seek, for His name's sake, that He may heal all your soul diseases.

Do you need pardon? His name is Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness; seek for His name's sake, that He may be merciful to your unrighteousness.

Do you need defense and protection? His name is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord your banner; seek, for His name's sake, that His banner of love and grace may be spread over you.

Do you need provision in extreme want? His name is Jehovah-Jireh, in the mount to the Lord it shall be seen, the Lord will provide.

Do you need His presence? His name is Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is there; Immanuel, God with us; look to Him to be with you, for His name's sake.

Do you need an audience of prayer? His name is the Hearer of Prayer.

Do you need strength? His name is the Strength of Israel.

Do you need comfort? His name is the Consolation of Israel.

Sit down and ponder your wants and needs--and you will find He has a name suitable for your supply; He has . . .
  all wisdom to guide you,
  all power to keep you,
  all mercy to pity you,
  all holiness to sanctify you,
  all righteousness to justify you,
  all grace to adorn you,
  and all glory to crown you!

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This rocking-horse type of spiritual life

(Vernon J. Charlesworth)

"Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!" 2 Peter 3:18

Once, entering the house of one of his congregation, Rowland Hill saw a child on a rocking-horse. "Dear me," exclaimed the aged minister, "how astonishingly like some Christians--there is motion, but no progress!"

This rocking-horse type of spiritual life is still characteristic of too many Church members in the present day. "Grow in grace" is an exhortation but little regarded.

"As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby." 1 Peter 2:2

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Choice quotes on AFFLICTION

"Affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble spring from the ground!" Job 5:6

"Affliction does not rise out of the dust or come to men by chance; but it is the Lord who sends it, and we should own and reverence His hand in it!" (Thomas Boston)

"Those who dive into the sea of affliction, bring up rare pearls!" (Charles Spurgeon)

"The furnace of affliction is a good place for you, Christian; it benefits you; it helps you to become more like Christ, and it is fitting you for Heaven!" (Charles Spurgeon)

"Most of the grand truths of God have to be learned by trouble; they must be burned into us with the hot iron of affliction, otherwise we shall not truly receive them." (Charles Spurgeon)

"The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction." (Charles Spurgeon)

"There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles--they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all." (Charles Spurgeon)

"Afflictions tend to wean us from the world--and to fix our affections on things above." (John Angell James)

"Poverty and affliction take away the fuel that feeds pride!" (Richard Sibbes)   

"The winter prepares the earth for the spring; so do sanctified afflictions prepare the soul for glory." (Richard Sibbes)
"When I am in the cellar of affliction, I look for the Lord's choicest wines." (Samuel Rutherford)

"Whoever brings an affliction, it is God who sends it. It is one heart-quieting consideration in all the afflictions that befall us--that God has a special hand in them: "The Almighty has afflicted me!" Ruth 1:21. Instruments can no more stir until God gives them a commission--than the axe can cut of itself without a hand. Job eyed God in his affliction; therefore, as Augustine observes, Job does not say, "The Lord gave, and the devil took away," but "the Lord has taken away." (Thomas Watson)

"Afflictions add to the saints glory. The more the diamond is cut, the more it sparkles; the heavier the saints cross is, the heavier will be their crown." (Thomas Watson)

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Religious entertainment!

(A.W. Tozer)

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth, and turn aside to myths!" 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The great god 'Entertainment' amuses his devotees mainly by telling them stories. The love of stories, which is characteristic of childhood, has taken fast hold of the minds of the retarded saints of our day, so much so that many manage to make a comfortable living by spinning yarns and serving them up in various disguises to church people. What is natural and beautiful in a child, may be shocking when it persists into adulthood, and more so when it appears in the sanctuary and seeks to pass for true religion!

So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called people of God. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters, where fifth-rate "producers" peddle their shoddy wares with the approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it!

"Once you have lost the division between the world and the Church--the Church ceases to be truly Christian!" (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

"Pleasure, so called, is the murderer of serious thought. This is the age of excessive amusement. Everybody craves for it, like a babe for its rattle!" (Charles Spurgeon)

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Some thoughts on idolatry!

"These men have set up their idols in their hearts!" Ezekiel 14:3

"Their heart went after their idols!" Ezekiel 20:16

"We are all born idolaters!" Thomas Watson

"Every one of us is, from his mother's womb, expert in inventing idols. Man's nature, so to speak, is a perpetual idol factory!" John Calvin

"An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand." A.W. Tozer

"O wretched idol, Myself!"
Samuel Rutherford

"This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!" Ezekiel 14:6

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Half bewildered by the thought!

(Archibald Brown, "This God Our God!")

There are two passages in the Scripture which ought never to be separated.

One is, "The Lord's portion is His people." Deuteronomy 32:9

And the other passage is this, "The Lord is my portion, says my soul." Lamentations 3:24

God and my soul possess each other.
God finds His portion in His people--and His people find their portion in God.

God is the portion of His people forever!
This God is mine, in all His glorious perfection.
His heart is mine, for He loves me.
His ear is mine, for I may pour into it all my tales of sorrow and all my songs of joy.
His eyes are mine, for they watch me from morning until night.
His hand is mine, for it is stretched out to uphold me.

Oh, He is a God of infinite glory. Abased in the very dust, and half bewildered by the thought, I yet dare to look up, and say, "This God is my God forever and ever. He will be my guide even unto death!" Psalm 48:14

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A bowl which will soon be broken!

Thomas Watson, "The Lord's Prayer")

"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes away!" James 4:14

Time passes on apace! Our time is very short and uncertain. It will not be long, "before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken." The skull wherein the brains are enclosed, is a bowl which will soon be broken!

Our soul is in the body, as the bird in the shell, which soon breaks--and the bird flies out. The shell of the body is soon broken--and the soul flies into eternity! We know not whether we shall live another day. Before we hear another sermon-bell ring, our death-bell may ring. Our life runs as a swift stream--into the ocean of eternity!

Brethren, if our time is so short and transient--if the candle of life is so soon consumed, or perhaps blown out by an unexpectant death--how should we use all our strength, that we may obtain the kingdom of glory! If time is so short, why do we waste it on trivial things--and neglect the "one thing needful"? A man who has a great work to be done, and but one day for doing it, needs to work hard. We have a great work to do, we are striving for an eternal glorious kingdom, and alas! we are not certain of one day to work in!

"So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" Psalm 90:12

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Smaller virtues and lesser vices

(Hannah More, "Practical Piety")

"Hate everything that is evil, and hold tight to everything that is good." Romans 12:9

It is important for the Christian . . .
  to practice the smaller virtues,
  to avoid scrupulously the lesser vices,
  and to bear patiently with minor trials.

Smaller virtues and lesser vices make up a large part of human life, and fix and determine our moral character.

The smaller virtues are the threads and filaments which gently but firmly tie the Christian graces together. The acquisition of even the smallest virtue, is actually a conquest over the opposite vice, and doubles our moral strength.

Faults which we are accustomed to consider as small, are apt to be repeated without reservation. The habit of committing them is strengthened by the repetition. Frequency renders us at first indifferent, and then insensible.

The hopelessness attending a long-indulged habit generates carelessness, until the power of resistance is first weakened, then destroyed.

The Christian knows of no small faults. He considers sins, whatever their magnitude, as an offense against his Maker. Nothing that offends God can be insignificant.

Nothing can be trifling that makes a bad habit fasten itself to us!

Do small faults, continually repeated, always retain their original weakness?

Is a bad temper which is never repressed, not worse after years of indulgence, than when we first gave the reins to it?

Does the habit of exaggeration never lead to falsehood, or never move into deceit?

Before we determine that our small faults are innocent, we must try to prove that they shall never outgrow their initial dimensions. We must make certain that the infant shall never become a giant!

"Hate everything that is evil, and hold tight to everything that is good." Romans 12:9

Sow a thought--and you will reap an act;
sow an act--and you will reap a habit;
sow a habit--and you will reap a character;
sow character--and you will reap a destiny!

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Life is wasted by driblets

(Charles Spurgeon)

"A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--and poverty will come on you like a bandit, and scarcity like an armed man!" Proverbs 24:33, 34

The worst of sluggards only ask for a little slumber; they would be indignant if they were accused of thorough idleness. A little folding of the hands to rest is all they crave, and they have a crowd of reasons to show that this indulgence is a very proper one. Yet by these littles--the day ebbs out, and the time for labor is all gone, and the field is grown over with thorns!

It is by little procrastinations--that men squander their opportunities. They have no intention to delay for years--a few months will bring the more convenient season. Tomorrow they will attend to serious things; but the present hour is so occupied and altogether so unsuitable, that they beg to be excused.

Like sands through an hour-glass, time passes. Life is wasted by driblets, and seasons of opportunity are lost by little slumbers. Oh, to be wise, to catch the flying hour--to use the moments on the wing! May the Lord teach us this sacred wisdom!

"So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" Psalm 90:12

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All things have become new!

(Thomas Reade)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Our perceptions will be new. A divine light will break in upon our minds. The darkness of error, which obscured the truth from our view, will be dissipated.

Our principles will be new. We shall act from pure, holy, unselfish motives. Faith working by love will be the grand moving principle. Self will no longer be the pivot on which we turn--but Jesus will be our all in all.

Our practice will be new. We shall live no longer according to the sinful customs of the world, or the powerful solicitations of the flesh--but according to the holy precepts of the everlasting Gospel. We shall delight in the law of God after the inward man. It will be our food and drink to do the will of our Father.

Our plans will be new. We shall dedicate ourselves, and all we have and are, to the service of that divine Savior who loved us, and gave Himself for us. We shall not be daily occupied in forming plans for worldly pleasure, or projecting schemes for the acquisition of worldly profit; but in devising means for carrying on the cause of truth, and for spreading the knowledge of a crucified Redeemer throughout the earth.

Our prospects will be new. The darkness being past, and the true light now shining--we shall see the distant radiance of the heavenly Zion, and behold, with the telescopic eye of faith, the land which is very far off.

Our privileges will be new.
God will be our reconciled Father.
Jesus will be our Savior and friend.
The Holy Spirit will be our sanctifier and comforter.
And Heaven will be our eternal home!

Our portion will be new. All those exceeding great and precious promises, will be ours. We shall be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ! We shall be the citizens of the New Jerusalem, and inherit that kingdom that is incorruptible and undefiled, prepared for all the new creatures in Christ Jesus, before the foundation of the world.

To sum up all this blessedness, we shall experience in this world a progression in holiness--and in the world to come, a perpetuity of bliss!