Grace Gems for APRIL, 2015

Grace Gems for APRIL, 2015  

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If you meet that poor wretch who thrust his spear into My side!

(Benjamin Grosvenor, "The Temper of Jesus Christ towards His Enemies, and His Grace to the Chief of Sinners")

"Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Luke 24:47

It is very affecting that the first offers of grace should be made to those who, of all people in the world — had done Him the most harm! One would rather have expected the apostles would have received another kind of charge, and that Christ would have said, "Let repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached — but do NOT carry it to Jerusalem, that wicked city, that has been the slaughter-house of my prophets, whom I have often sent. Last of all, I myself, the Son, came — and with wicked hands, they have crucified and murdered Me! They may do the same to you! Do not let the gospel enter those wicked gates, through which they led Me, its Author, to crucifixion!"

But Christ singles out exactly these murderous people of Jerusalem — to make monuments of His mercy, and commands the first offer of eternal life to be made to them! As if our Lord had said: "Lest the poor house of Israel should think themselves abandoned to eternal despair — as cruel and vile as they have been — go, make the first offer of grace to them! Let those who spilled My blood — be welcome to its healing virtue. Tell them that there is repentance and forgiveness, even for them!"
"Nay, if you meet that poor wretch who thrust his spear into My side, tell him that there is another way, a better way of coming to My heart — even My heart's love! Tell him, that if he will repent, and look upon Me whom he has pierced, and will mourn — then I will cherish him in that very bosom which he has wounded! Tell him that he shall find the blood which he has shed — to be an ample atonement for the sin of shedding it! And tell him from Me, that he will put Me to more pain and displeasure by refusing this offer of My blood — than when he first drew it forth!"

For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance!" Matthew 9:13

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A great change!

(Thomas Watson, "Until My Change Comes")

"All the days of my appointed time will I wait until my change comes." Job 14:14

That is, I will wait until my death comes.

Death, whenever it comes, makes a great change.

Death will make a certain change; there is no avoiding it. "No one can live forever; all will die. No one can escape the power of the grave!" Psalm 89:48. It is neither strength, nor courage, nor any worldly grandeur — which can exempt from death. The godly must die, as well as others. Though death does not destroy the treasure of grace — yet death breaks the vessel that this treasure is in.

We are not so sure to lie down in our beds — as we are to lie down in our graves!

Our days are certain to God — but they are uncertain to us. The Lord alone, knows how long our hour-glass will be running. For all we know, there are but a few sands more to run. Life may expire in an instant. When we breath out — we never know whether we will ever take a breath in again!

Death will make a visible change. One scarcely knows their friends, they are so disfigured by death! The eyes are hollow, the jaws are fallen; death carries away all the goodly spoil of beauty. It changes a living body, into a foul carcass, Psalm 39:11, "You make his beauty to consume like a moth." Take a body of the finest spinning, once death like a moth gets into it, it consumes all the luster and glory of it. Death puts the body into such a frightful state — that nothing can desire it but worms!

Death will make an unalterable change. As the tree falls — so it lies to eternity. Death is a change which puts us into an unchangeable condition!

"It is appointed unto men once to die — and after that to face judgment!" Hebrews 9:27

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We shall wither, fade, and die!

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

"Like autumn leaves — we wither and fall!" Isaiah 64:6

What a contrast between an unchangeable God — and a sinner withering like a leaf! Yet, this is a true picture of us — and of all temporal things.

We began to look green and bright not long ago — and in a little time we shall wither, fade, and die!

"How short is life — and how full of trouble! Like a flower, we blossom for a moment — and then wither!" Job 14:1-2. Humbling consideration! But it may be rendered very useful. Let us endeavor to profit by it.

We shall soon find that . . .
  health gives place to sickness;
  strength gives place to weakness;
  youth gives place to old age!

The dying bed, the coffin, and the grave — are just before us!

Brethren, the time is short! Eternity with all its glories is just before us!

Shall we soon wither and die? Let us therefore . . .
  make our calling and our election sure,
  not be overly concerned by anything that occurs here below,
  set our affections on things above,
  cultivate close and filial fellowship with God,
  aim principally to please Him in all that we do,
  watch against a worldly spirit,
  pass the time of our sojourning here on earth, in fear,
  and lay up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. 

"Like autumn leaves — we wither and fall!"
Isaiah 64:6

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Paul's wise theory of life

(J.R. Miller, "Breaking Away from Our Past")

"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 3:13-14

We have here Paul's wise theory of lifeprogress by forgetting, by letting go of the things that are past.

"Forgetting what is behind." Probably most of us have done things we would much like . . .
  to leave behind,
  to blot out from memory,
  to cut altogether loose from,
  to bury in oblivion.
We cannot turn back the hands of the clock, that we may have any day over again. But we may bring to God all the mistakes, the follies, the sins — and He will forgive us, and then use even these poor broken things for good.

A traveler tells of finding a place beside the sea, where many ships were dashed upon the rocks — and a beautiful house built altogether from pieces of wreckage gathered from the shore.

That is about the best many of us can do. We have little else to bring to God but wreckage — disobediences, broken commandments, mistakes, sins. Yet it is a wonderful thought that even with such materials, if we are truly penitent and repentant — our Master will work, helping us to build beauty in our lives. Sins forgiven become lessons for us. Out of a past full of failures, we may make a future full of strength and beauty — through the grace of Christ. We cannot forget our sins, but we may be wiser and better for them.

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Do we think earnestly about being like Him here and now?

(J.R. Miller, "The Religion for the New Year" 1903)

"So that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive." Titus 2:10

Martin Luther's insignia was a rose; in the rose a heart; in the heart a cross.

The rose suggests fragrance and beauty — a Christian life should be beautiful, winning, attractive. It should be sweet, pouring forth the fragrance of holy love wherever it goes.

The heart in the rose suggests that all true living for Christ is from the heart.

But at the center of all was the cross. Until we have Christ, we can have neither fragrance nor beauty. We must never forget that nothing but the self-sacrificing love of Christ in our hearts can transform our lives.

We sometimes sing, "Take the world, but give me Jesus" — but do we really mean it? It is a very sweet hymn, but do we mean it? Are we ready to have the prayer answered, fully, wholly — whatever it may cost?

We expect to be like Christ in Heaven, but do we think earnestly about being like Him here and now? Would we exchange our poor, meager measure of Christlikeness today — for Christ to have the complete control of our lives? It would make a tremendous change in our lives, at least, in some of our lives.

"If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

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A torch to light people to Hell!

Thomas Watson)

"You believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe that — and tremble in terror!" James 2:19

Bible knowledge without repentance, will be but a torch to light people to Hell!

You who have knowledge of God's will, but do not obey it — wherein do you excel the demons, who believe and tremble?

"Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally!" Luke 13:5

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Why, they are like Jesus Christ!

(J.R. Miller, "
The Face of the Master")

"God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!" 2 Corinthians 4:6

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory!" 2 Corinthians 3:18

The face of Christ has transforming power. Those who look upon it in love, and intently — are changed by it into its own beauty. This teaching is brought out very clearly in the New Testament. John tells us that when we shall see Jesus as He is, we shall become like Him.

The apostle Paul describes in wonderful way, the transforming power of the face of Christ as we look upon it: "But we all beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory!" The glory of the Lord is the glory which shines in the face of Jesus Christ. We cannot see that glory with our eyes, for Christ is in Heaven. But it is reflected for us on the pages of the gospel. As we ponder Him in these pages intently, we look upon His glory.

The effect of this continued beholding, is the transformation of our lives into Christ's image. That is, as we consider Christ, as we . . .
  read the story of His life,
  think of Him,
  meditate on the beauty of His character,
  look into His face with love and adoration —
the brightness of that face prints itself upon our faces, and we are transformed into His image. This transformation is not wrought suddenly, instantaneously, but gradually — "with ever-increasing glory."

Life is a school. The qualities of Christian character are studies set for us. No one learns a musical instrument in one lesson. No one can become an accomplished artist in a day. Just so, no one can get the full beauty of Christ into his life in one brief year. We have it here in Paul's words — "But we all beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory!" that is, line by line, little by little.

Friendship with Christ is the essential thing in cultivating godly character. Not only is He our teacher — it is not enough that He shall set the lessons for us; but He brings down the divine life and imparts it to us. John lay upon the Master's bosom, and in this close friendship he grew into the Master's likeness. It is thus that we all must live, if we would get the beauty of Christ upon our lives. We never shall grow like Him, if we stay habitually far away from Him.

If a Christian lives distant from Christ, he soon grows earthly and loses the spiritual loveliness out of his life. But if he abides near his Master, in adoring love, in close companionship — then the glory of Christ enters his life and transforms him. Looking at Christ, intently, with devout, reverent heart, beholding Him not merely in a brief glance now and then, but continuously — the brightness of that blessed face prints itself upon his life!

Those who look intently at the face of Christ . . .
  entering into the spirit of His life,
  walking in daily fellowship with Him,
  bearing His cross,
  loving Him and doing His will —
take His image upon their own lives, grow like Him, until neighbors and friends begin to see the resemblance and say, "Why, they are like Jesus Christ!"

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The sacred ointment!

Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660)

"What a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:24

The godly often spot themselves with sin. Though sin is in itself damnatory — but being tempered with repentance and mixed with the sacred ointment of Christ's blood — the venomous damning nature of it is taken away!

"The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin!" 1 John 1:7

"To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood —
to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:5-6

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Who would have imagined!

(Arthur Pink)

"You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness!" Habakkuk 1:13

Who would have imagined
, that sin was such a vile and dreadful thing in the sight of God, that nothing but the precious blood of His own beloved Son could make an atonement for it!

"The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin!" 1 John 1:7

"To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood —
to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:5-6

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The god of popular Christianity!

(Milburn Cockrell, "The Master of the World!")

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth! Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might!" 1 Chronicles 29:11-12
In these days of man-centered religion, verses like these have been ignored. The pulpits of our land preach . . .
  a defeated God,
  a disappointed Christ and
  a defenseless Holy Spirit.
Man has been deified — and God dethroned.
God has been relegated to the background.

The God most people believe in has benevolent intentions, yet He is unable to carry them out. He wants to bless men, but they will not let Him. The average church-goer thinks Satan has gained the upper hand, and that God is to be pitied rather than worshiped. The god of popular Christianity has a weak smile and a halo!

To suppose in the slightest that God has failed, or that He has been defeated, is the height of foolishness and the depth of impiety! The religious world needs to get God off the charity list!

The Bible knows nothing of a defeated, disappointed, and defenseless God. The God of the Bible is the "Almighty God" (Genesis 17:1) Who has all power in Heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). With Him nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37) or too hard (Jeremiah 32:17). His eternal purpose is being worked out. Everything is going according to His plan, and all things are under His control.

The God of the Bible is the Supreme Being in the universe! He is the most High, higher than the highest. He has no superiors and no equals. 
God is God.
He does . . .
He pleases,
  only as He pleases,
  always as He pleases.

"He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? What His soul desires, even that He does" (Job 23:13). Agreeing with this is Psalm 115:3: "But our God is in the heavens: He has done whatever He has pleased." As the Master of the World He declares: "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure!" (Isaiah 46:10)

God is the Supreme Being and the Sovereign of the universe. He exercises His power . . .
  as He wills,
  when He wills,
  where He wills.
"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing. But He does according to His will in the host of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth. No one can ward off His hand or say to Him: What have You done?" (Daniel 4:35)

God governs all His creatures and their actions. The events that take place on earth do not take place by chance, or fate, or luck. The so-called accidents are not even incidents with the Master of the World. He numbered the hairs of our head and noted the sparrow's fall in eternity past by His "determinate counsel and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:23).

The Master of the World set the bounds of our habitation on earth. The number of our months is with Him, and our days are appointed!

God is holding the helm of the universe, and regulating all events. The Master of the World "works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). It is God's eternal right to do all His pleasure. He is not accountable to any of His creatures. Job 33:13 declares: "He gives no account of any of His matters."

God controls all things — or nothing.
He must either rule — or be ruled.
He must either sway — or be swayed.
He must either accomplish His will — or be thwarted by His creatures.
He is not obligated to leave the affairs of this world to be governed by accident, chance, or the will of sinful men.

If we admit that God absolutely governs all things according to the counsel of His own will, then we admit that He has determined what shall and what shall not transpire in time and eternity. To deny His universal control of all things, is to deny His eternal power and Godhead. If He has the power and wisdom to determine all events — then He can cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

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The thoughts make the face

(J.R. Miller, "
The Face of the Master")

"His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance!" Revelation 1:16

We have no picture of Jesus Christ. The paintings of Him which artists have given us, are only their conceptions of His appearance. None of these paintings, however noble and worthy they may be, are to be thought of as true portraits of the Master's face.

Yet the face of Jesus Christ must have been very beautiful. It is sin that disfigures the human countenance, and there was no sin in Him. His life was spotless and pure.

They tell us that the thoughts make the face. We cannot altogether hide our inner life from men's eyes. What goes on in the depths of our being, comes up to the surface in unmistakable indications and revealings. The faulty qualities of the heart work out in the life and betray themselves in the face.

If you are discontented — then the discontent will reveal itself in your features. If you have bitter thoughts and feelings in your heart — then the bitterness will write its hard lines on your countenance. But if you habitually think gentle thoughts, kindly thoughts, peaceful thoughts — then on your face will come gentleness, kindness, and peace. If you keep love in your heart amid all your afflictions and trials, all the irritations and harrowings of life — then your face will shine with love. There is much truth in the familiar lines:
"Beautiful thoughts make a beautiful soul,
 And a beautiful soul makes a beautiful face."

We know that all the thoughts of the Master were beautiful thoughts. Heaven dwelt in Him, and there was never any fleck of stain upon His soul. In a world of hate, cruelty, and injustice — His heart was always full of love. Never was an unkind thought there for a moment. Infinite holiness dwelt in Him. All the beatitudes had their home in His bosom. All the fruits of the Spirit grew to perfect ripeness in Him.
"Whatever things are true,
 whatever things are noble,
 whatever things are just,
 whatever things are pure,
 whatever things are lovely,
 whatever things are commendable,
 if there is any virtue and
 if there is anything praiseworthy
meditate on these things!" Philippians 4:8
These were the things on which Jesus thought continually. He never had . . .
  a sordid thought,
  an impure thought,
  a trivial thought,
  a selfish thought.
His mind was never disturbed by discontent, by impurity, by anxiety. His converse was always with His Father. Though walking on the earth among sinful men, He really lived in Heaven. All His feelings, desires, affections, and emotions were holy. He always did those things that were pleasing to His Father. If beautiful thoughts make a beautiful soul — then the soul of Jesus was spotlessly, divinely beautiful. And if a beautiful soul makes a beautiful face — then the face of Jesus was transcendently lovely!

Sorrow mars some faces. It need not do so. Only when affliction is not accepted in love and faith — does it leave marks of disfigurement. Sorrow sweetly endured, transfigures the face, giving it new beauty. Jesus was a man of sorrows. But His sorrows only made His face more radiant.

Poverty writes hard lines on some faces. Jesus was poor — He had nowhere to lay His head. But His poverty left no trace on His features — except to make them gentler, kindlier, more sympathetic toward human poverty and need. His face was quiet, calm, serene, heavenly.

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Before conversion

Before conversion, the sinner is compared . . .
  to a stone for his hardness of heart (Zechariah 7:12),
  to a wolf for his savageness (Matthew 7:15)
  to a lion for his fierceness (Isaiah 11:6),
  to a bee for his sting (Psalm 118:12),
  to an adder for his poison (Psalm 140:3).

"And that is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!" 1 Corinthians 6:11

A hard heart is the anvil on which the hammer of God's justice will be striking to all eternity!

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Look forward to your sinless and perfect home!

(William Nicholson, "Death, the Believer's Gain!" 1862)

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

At death, the Christian gains holiness without sin. In Heaven, the very existence of sin will be destroyed, "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life!" Revelation 21:27

Here on earth, sin is the ruin of man — the ruin of his immortal soul. It has blighted and blasted the world, and filled it with impurity, misery, and death!

The Christian has here to struggle and wrestle . . .
  with sin in his members,
  with his depraved heart,
  with sin in his family,
  with sin in his neighbors,
  with sin in his business transactions,
  with sin in society at large.
He feels its evil operations, and laments its corrupting effects.

But in Heaven the Christian shall gain purity without sin! All the remains of sin, and the dregs of corruption are left forever behind!
No condemning conscience is found there.
No unhallowed appetites are found there.
No disordered affections exist there.
No appearance or vestige of evil is found there.
Every child of God is as pure as Christ is pure — as perfect as his Father in Heaven is perfect.

Child of mortality, heir of corruption! Look forward to your sinless and perfect home, and learn that to die will be gain indeed!

"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away!" Revelation 21:3-4

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The stone was a diamond!

(J.R. Miller, "The Glory of the Commonplace")

One of the great diamond fields in South Africa was discovered in this interesting way: One day a traveler entered the valley, and paused before a settler's door where a boy was amusing himself by throwing stones. One of the stones fell at the feet of the visitor; and he picked it up, and was about to return it to the boy when he saw a flash of light from it which arrested his attention, and made his heart beat with eager surprise. The stone was a diamond! The boy had no thought of its value; to him it was only a plaything. But to the eye of the man of knowledge, a gem of surprising value was unfolded in the rough covering!

So it is that many of the events of Divine Providence appear to ordinary eyes as uninteresting, without meaning, ofttimes as even unkindly, adverse. Yet in each event, there is wrapped up a divine treasure of good and blessing for the child of God! We need only eyes of Christian faith to find in every painful experience, a helper to our spiritual lives. Precious gems of rarest blessing are enclosed in the rough crusts of hardship, affliction, loss, and trial, which we are constantly coming upon in our life's way. We shall find when we get to our Heavenly home, that many of the things from which we have shrunk as evils, have been the bearers to us of our richest treasures of good!

"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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Prove it!

(J.R. Miller, "The Glory of the Commonplace")

It is related that the famous French artist Gustave Dore was once wandering in the mountains of Switzerland, when some officials met him and demanded his passport. "I do not have it with me," he replied, "but my name is Gustave Dore." "Prove it, if you are," replied the officers, knowing who Dore was — but not believing that this was he. Taking a piece of paper, the artist hastily sketched a group of peasants who were standing near, and did it with such grace and skill that the officials exclaimed, "Enough, you are Dore!"

In the same way, the world cares little for a mere profession. We say we are Christians, and the challenge is, "Prove it!" If we are of Christ, then we must do the works of Christ, live the life of Christ, and show the spirit of Christ. The artist's skillful drawing proved his identity. Just so, we must prove that we are the followers of our Master by the love, the grace, the beauty, the holiness of our life.

Religion is not merely a matter of creed and profession, or of church-going and public worship; it is far more a matter of daily life. It is not how we behave on Sundays, nor the kind of creed we hold, nor the devoutness of our worship — it is the way we act at home, in school, in business, in society, in our associations with others. It is vitally important that all who profess Christ — shall manifest Christ's beauty in their life and character. It is not enough to preach the gospel in words alone; others must also read it in our daily life. "So that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders." 1 Thessalonians 4:12

"Whoever says he abides in Christ, ought to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself." 1 John 2:6

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What are you, O mighty mountain?

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground!" Zechariah 4:7

What difficulties the divine Builder encounters! He has to shape me, and depraved men like me, into His spiritual Temple. I am far from God — and He must bring me near. "The soul that sins, it shall surely die!" the Judge has said; and He has to alter that which has gone forth from the Judge's lips, and to do it without impeaching His faithfulness or wounding His glory. Does it not seem to be a huge, impassable mountain?

Moreover, He has to fit me, and ten thousand wayward souls, for adorning His Temple. It gleams with the light of precious stones — diamonds and sapphires and emeralds! But I am all defiled, loving sin and cleaving to it as if it were my life! He must prevail over the depraved bias of my nature, and the power of my sinful passions. Alps piled on Alps would be easier to uproot!

And then, He has to finish His Temple of regenerated men among the most unfriendly conditions. He does not carry forward the enterprise in a quiet Heaven, where angels rejoice in it and hasten to help Him. It is amid the sinful confusions of earth, that He toils and perseveres. Where the force of the enemy is strongest, where his deceit permeates the very air — Christ works with a love that never tires, as well as an arm that never droops.

He will humble these towering mountains to the dust! And with what ease and completeness the divine Builder will surmount His difficulties!

We see here His power and wisdom, and of the insignificance in His sight of every hindrance that is opposed to Him. Nothing will turn Him aside in His triumphant work. It is not that He halts in perplexity before the great mountain. It is not that He climbs the steep ascent slowly and painfully. Nay, to Him all mountains of difficulty are a level plain. Without an effort, with composure, as though the world aided instead of resisted Him, as though the malignant principalities of evil were nonexistent — He begins and continues and ends His sovereign undertaking!

Let me rejoice that One Who is mighty to save has espoused my depraved, shameful and hopeless cause!

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Set your minds on things above!

(Arthur Pink "Look Upward" 1947)

Many of God's children are ensnared by Satan today, by getting them unduly concerned with what is happening in the world. He persuades them that it is their duty to be well informed upon current events — that it is necessary for them to "keep up with the times" and take an intelligent interest in what is occurring in different parts of the earth, and particularly with the political and social conditions in their own country. He would fix their minds on the sensational items recorded in the newspapers, devoting much time to reading and listening to the news of the day.

And what good is accomplished thereby? Your concern over the doings of the Kremlin, and your dismay at the successes of the Vatican, will not affect either of them one iota! No, but it will injuriously affect you — it will get you absorbed with carnal things, and take the edge off your appetite for spiritual things!

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3:1-2

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It is the same hand!

(J.C. Ryle)

"But He said to them: It is I; don't be afraid!" John 6:20

Are you a distressed believer? Is your heart . . .
  pressed down with sickness,
  tried with disappointments,
  overburdened with cares?

To you I say, "Behold the cross of Christ!" Think whose hand it is that chastens you; think whose hand is measuring to you the 'cup of bitterness' which you are now drinking. It is the hand of Him who was crucified! It is the same hand which, in love to your soul, was nailed to the accursed tree! Surely that thought should comfort and hearten you. Surely you should say to yourself, "My crucified Savior will never lay upon me anything that is not for my good. There is a needs be. It must be well."

"For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:6

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An indulgent old man!

(Arthur Pink)

"You hate all workers of iniquity!" Psalm 5:5

The god which the vast majority of professing Christians 'love' is looked upon very much like an indulgent old man, who Himself has no relish for folly, but leniently winks at sin. Yet for one sin . . .
   the fallen angels were thrown out of Heaven,
   our first parents were banished from Eden,
   Moses was excluded from the promised land,
   Elisha's servant smitten with leprosy, and
   Ananias and Sapphira were cut off from the land of the living.

But men refuse to believe in this God, and gnash their teeth when His hatred of sin is faithfully pressed upon their attention.

Sinful man was no more likely to devise a holy God, than to create the Lake of Fire in which he will be tormented forever and ever!

"God is angry with the wicked every day!" Psalm 7:11

"Our God is a consuming fire!" Hebrews 12:29

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Are we to fritter away our brief hour on life's stage?

(J.R. MacDuff, "
Influence!" Preached Before a Young Men's Christian Association)

For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed." Acts 13:36

In deducing from these words moral and spiritual lessons, I would observe generally, that each individual in this life has some great purpose to fulfill. "David
served God's purpose in his own generation." He has left his indelible footprints on the sands of time!

Everything in the wide universe has its special mission.

The flower fulfills its design by unfolding its colors or scattering its sweet fragrances wherever it blooms. As we see it dropping its decayed and withered leaves one by one, we feel its little destiny in its own little world has been attained.

The lark as it mounts in the air, and chants its carol ("singing up to Heaven's gate") fulfills its mission by these tuneful melodies.

If we take a loftier survey, and ascend amid the glories of the firmament, we see the sun fulfilling his great appointment to give light to the system: coming forth "like a bridegroom from his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run his race." Or the moon, that faithful sentinel, lavishing her nightly care on the earth — a majestic beacon-light to land and ocean.

Turn to whatever page we may in the vast volume of creation, we shall find in each, the record of some peculiar office and vocation. Mountains and seas, fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind — all fulfill the word and decree and design of God.

And is it different with man?

Has he alone no momentous work to perform in the economy in which he is placed?

Is our whole earthly destiny to eat and drink, and sleep and die?

Are we to fritter away our brief hour on life's stage; to be ushered in with a few rejoicings at our birth, followed by a few tears at our departure? And when our sun has gone down, when the grass of the grave covers our resting places — shall we be as if we never were?

How many there are who, to all appearance, think so! They have never yet awakened to a sense of their high destiny, as having a part to play, and a sphere to occupy. Their inward feeling seems to be that in this great world, with its teeming millions, that . . .
  it signifies nothing how they live;
  they soon shall be as though they never existed;
  when they sink into the tomb — it will be like the vessel going down in mid-ocean. There will be a few plungings and heavings as it momentarily wrestles with the storm; but the tempest sweeps, the sea opens its yawning mouth, the waves close over it — and then resume their usual play! Not a trace or vestige remains; the place that once knew it, knows it no more!

My brethren, that solemn, that momentous reality they call life, is no plaything! It was given as the mightiest of possessions, and loaded with immeasurable responsibilities. The weighty saying, which many a tongue was taught earliest to lisp was this, "Man's chief end is to glorify God!"

Oh, truly it is a solemn thought that each one of you is exercising some influence — either for good or for evil. If you are not serving your day and generation for the better — then you must be serving it for the worse. There can be no such thing as mere neutral influence. You must either, like the aromatic plant, be diffusing a grateful fragrance — or, like the fabled lethal Upas tree, be casting a deadly shadow all around. And if so, it well befits us individually to address to ourselves the personal question: "Am I fulfilling the great end and design of my being?"

Yonder fig-tree on the way to Bethany is a parable designed to warn and instruct in every age. See it — stinted, shriveled, withered. It had borne no fruit. It had not fulfilled the design of its creation; and a tender, gracious Savior pronounces upon it the cumberer's sentence and the cumberer's awful doom!

Happy are those who have been led to regard life as a golden talent — who have realized its momentous requirements and stern responsibilities!

Even the lowliest and humblest, can help directly or indirectly to untie the bandages from a sin-stricken, woe-worn world, and send it forth from its fevered couch, walking and leaping, and praising God. If from peculiarity of disposition or situation, some may feel as if they were unequal to the outward activities of Christian work and service — theirs may be the silent but equally potent example of a holy, meek, loving, peaceful life.

We are all able to influence others, by the quiet unostentatious influence of a pure, consistent, godly life.

Be it yours not only to serve your God, but so to live that the world may be the better because of you; and that when you die and your hand lies withering in the grave — the seed dropped by that hand, years on years before, may spring up bearing fruit to the glory of God!

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They always leave a sting!

(William Nicholson, "Death, the Believer's Gain!" 1862)

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

At death, the Christian gains pleasure without pain. "You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11. Hence pain will never follow pleasure — it will never be experienced at all. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away!" Revelation 21:4

In this sinful world, there is no perfect enjoyment. The sweetest cup of earthly bliss, has always more or less of the drops of the ocean of bitterness mingled with it. The brightest day of joy, is invariably followed by the dark night of sorrow. This world is a barren wilderness, and contains neither the fruit of the garden of Eden, nor the milk and honey of the land of promise. Here the pleasures of sin are but for a season — and they always leave a sting!

But in Heaven, pleasures will be pure, holy, exquisite, and eternal — ever yielding satisfaction and joy. To die and enter Heaven, will be gain indeed!

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One of the remarkable things about growth in grace

(Todd Nibert)

"O what a wretched man I am!" Romans 7:24

One of the remarkable things about growth in grace is that the more you grow — the smaller you become in your own eyes.

In the first epistle Paul ever wrote, he was "the least of all apostles."

He later wrote to the Ephesians that he was "less than the least of all the saints."

Shortly before his death he wrote to Timothy, "I am the chief of sinners." 

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(Thomas Brooks)

"The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature." Luke 8:14

Earthly riches are called thorns, and well they may; for as thorns, they pierce both head and heart. They pierce the head with cares in getting them — and the heart with grief in parting with them.

Earthly riches have cast down many, they have slain many.
If poverty has slain her thousands; riches has slain her ten thousands.

Oh the souls that riches have pierced through and through with many sorrows!

Oh the minds that riches have blinded!

Oh the hearts that riches have hardened!

Oh the consciences that riches have benumbed!

Oh the wills that riches have perverted!

Oh the affections that riches have disordered and destroyed!

Earthly riches are very vexing and very defiling — and to multitudes prove very ruining.

"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs!" 1 Timothy 6:9-10

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What could more emphatically prove His love?

(Newman Hall, "The Voice of Jesus in the Storm")

"Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6

"Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God!" Ephesians 5:2

What could more emphatically prove His love — than coming to this world of sorrow and sin to suffer and die for us, when we were His enemies? He left . . .
  His habitation in glory — for the foul stable,
  the homage of angels — for the insults of men,
  the smile of His Father — for the temptations of the devil,
  the raptures of Heaven — for the groans of Gethsemane,
  the splendors of His heavenly throne — for the ignominy of the cruel cross,
  the brightness of the celestial glory — for the darkness of the tomb!

And why was this? It was love that prompted His sin-atoning sacrifice. Love to the undeserving, to the rebellious, to those who then crucified Him, and to those who now pierce Him by their sins!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:19

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The wise, unerring hand of His good providence!

(Don Fortner)

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

All that has been, is and shall hereafter be — is brought to pass by our God, for the everlasting good of His elect. Let us find in this blessed truth . . .
  comfort for every sorrow,
  strength to endure every trial,
  courage to face every foe and
  joy to lighten the load of our daily pilgrimage through this world.

Let us carry through the day, through the year and through all the days of our lives — the comfort of this blessed fact: "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." As all things have their beginning with the will, purpose, and decree of our heavenly Father — so all things are brought to pass by the wise, unerring hand of His good providence, and shall ultimately bring forth everlasting praise to Him.

Let these things inspire our hearts to heed the admonition of 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

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Christ stands ready as a fire-escape!

(Arthur Pink)

O how very few ever are savingly convicted of sin by the Spirit! As the Spirit continues His work in the soul, plowing still deeper, revealing the hideousness and heinousness of sin, producing a horror of and hatred for it — He next presses upon that awakened soul, the claims of Christ's Lordship — set forth in such passages as Luke 14:26-33 — and enlightens us to realize that Christ demands our hearts, lives, and all.

Then it is that He grants grace unto the quickened soul to renounce all other "lords," to turn away from all "idols", and to receive Christ as Prophet, Priest and King. And nothing but the sovereign and supernatural work of God the Spirit can bring this to pass. Surely this is self-evident.

A preacher may induce a man to believe what Scripture says about his lost and undone condition, persuade him to "bow to" the Divine verdict, and then "accept Christ as his personal Savior." No man wants to go to Hell, and if he is assured that Christ stands ready as a fire-escape, on the sole condition that he jump into His arms ("rests on His finished work"), thousands will do so!

But a hundred preachers are unable to make an unregenerate person realize the unspeakably dreadful nature of sin, make him feel that he has been a lifelong rebel against God, and so change his heart that he now hates his sin, and longs to please God, and serve Christ. Only God the Spirit can bring any man to the place where he is willing to forsake every idol, cut off a hindering right hand, or pluck out an offending right eye! Ah, a miracle of grace has been wrought when we give up ourselves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5) to be ruled by Him.

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Distinguishing Grace!

(Don Fortner)

"Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD." Genesis 6:8

What sad consequences there are to sin! That horrible, heart-hatred of God, which resides in the hearts of each of Adam's sons and daughters — works havoc in the earth and will bring us all down to Hell in the end — unless God intervenes to save. The only hope there is for fallen, depraved, helpless sinners — is the omnipotent intervention of God's irresistible grace!

The whole world was lost. The whole world was corrupt. The whole of Adam's race was degenerate and walked in wickedness, provoking the wrath of God. But God, in great pity, mercy and compassion — showed Himself gracious to one man. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." God spared Noah. God saved Noah. Through him, God preserved his family, preserved our race and thus preserved His elect for all generations to come!

Blessed be His name, God does intervene to save! He does not have to save. No mortal will ever seek salvation from Him — until first he is sought by Him. But God has, in indescribable, infinite mercy, chosen to save a people for His own glory — and save them, He will!

"I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself!"
Jeremiah 31:3

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Ceaseless warfare!

(Arthur Pink)

"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out!" Romans 7:18

"For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." Galatians 5:17

Though grace had entered Job's heart, his native depravity had not been expelled. Though sin no longer had dominion over him — it often raged and prevailed against him.

There is ceaseless warfare within between the flesh and the spirit. There is no need for us to enlarge on this, for every Christian, because of the plague of his heart, groans within himself, "Oh what a wretched man I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death!" Romans 7:24