Grace Gems for JANUARY, 2016
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Don't be the slave of worldly amusements!
(George Everard, "Words of Counsel to the Newly Converted" 1866)
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2
Be separate from a world that lies in wickedness.
Of course in some measure you must mix in the world, while you live on earth — but let it be evident that you rise above it. Don't be the slave of worldly amusements! God loves that His people should be cheerful and happy — but there is little true enjoyment in the excitement of the theater, the race-course, the ball-room, the gambling-table, and the like. Choose something higher and better.
Consider how such things check the growth of true piety.
If you err, let it be on the safe side.
Do not ask, "How far may I go, and yet be guiltless?"
"How may I walk more closely with God?"
"How may I enjoy most of the love of Christ?"
"How shall I best glorify my Father in Heaven?"
Whenever you stand in doubt as to whether it is right or not to go to any place, bear in mind the old rule. Ask yourself, "Can I kneel down and with a good conscience ask the Lord to go with me?" If not, be sure that it is not safe for you.
Above all, bear witness for Christ in the world by a very holy and consistent life.
Manfully resist sin in every shape and form.
Watchfully guard against the least approach to youthful lusts.
In thought, word, and deed — be pure, be chaste.
Regard the least allusion to anything impure, as the poison of the old serpent which is death to the soul.
Keep a very tender conscience.
Don't make light of little sins, as many think them. Little acts . . .
of indulged vanity,
of pride and self-conceit,
of the love of dress,
of petty deceits and half-untruths —
who can tell how much harm is often done by these things, and to what far greater evils they often lead?
Do not judge of sin by the standard of those around you, but . . .
in the light of God's Word,
in the light of the cross, and
in remembrance of the day of judgment.
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Reader, go near to that cross!
(George Everard, "The Piercing of Jesus' Side!" 1868)
Reader, go near to that cross! As John and the faithful women stood beneath its shadow — so you likewise go and behold the Lamb of God slain for sinners!
Behold that head, lately anointed with fragrant spikenard — now encircled with a chaplet of sharp thorns!
Behold that face, fairer than the children of men, upon which angels delighted to gaze — covered with mingled blood and spittle!
Behold those eyes, which beheld the city with such compassion, which shed tears over it, as at the tomb of Bethany — now growing dim in death!
Behold those ears, which never in vain heard the cry of sorrow or distress — now greeted with bitter mockings and reproaches!
Behold those lips, which spoke as never man spoke, which said to the widow, "Weep not;" and to the waves, "Peace, be still" — now swollen with blows and parched with thirst!
Behold those hands, which healed the leper by their touch, which lifted up the daughter of Jairus and restored her to life — now torn by rugged nails!
Behold those feet, which ever went about doing good, which trod the waves of Gennesaret — now sore wounded, and painfully transfixed to the cruel wood!
Behold that body, so holy, so chaste, so pure — suffering unknown agonies!
And now behold the heart of Jesus, so tender and true, so kind and loving — pierced with the soldier's spear!
Ah, it was a savage, cruel hand that inflicted this last wound on the body of our Lord! There was no need for it. The spirit of the Redeemer had fled. His enemies had done their worst. He could no longer suffer pain or grief. But that spear-wound was, as it were, a mark of the hatred which still existed against the Crucified.
Let every Christian look at his own sin, and see how it has wounded his Lord. Surely it has been as the scourge, the nail, the spear!
My sin is that which has wounded the One who bore me nothing but good will, and who ever sought my peace. My sin is that which has slain my Friend, my Savior, my Redeemer! May I ever regard it as an accursed thing! May I never more look upon it with favor, but with the utmost abhorrence. May I keep far away, shrinking from its very touch, as the deadliest pollution!
How utterly we should loathe and forsake the sin that wrought the sufferings and death of our best Friend!
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A New Year's Resolution
"My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15
Firmly believing that my times are in God's hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God's divine providence. Whether God appoints for me . . . .
health or sickness,
peace or trouble,
comforts or crosses,
life or death —
may His holy will be done!
All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus — and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor — that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.
In everything I have to do — my entire dependence is upon Jesus Christ for strength. And whatever I do in word or deed, I desire to do all in His name, to make Him my Alpha and Omega. I have all from Him — and I would use all for Him.
If this should prove a year of affliction, a sorrowful year to me — I will fetch all my supports and comforts from the Lord Jesus and stay myself upon Him, His everlasting consolations, and the good hope I have in Him through grace.
And if it should be my dying year — then my times are in the hand of the Lord Jesus. And with a humble reliance upon His mediation, I would venture into the eternal world looking for the blessed hope. Dying as well as living — Jesus Christ will, I trust, be gain and advantage to me.
Oh, that the grace of God may be sufficient for me, to keep me always a humble sense of my own unworthiness, weakness, folly, and infirmity — together with a humble dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ for both righteousness and strength.
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God's care for you reaches to the very least matters!
(George Everard, "God's Mindfulness of His Redeemed People" 1885)
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31
We learn, in this passage, the particularity and the individuality of God's care. The very sparrows, shot down by thousands in Palestine, are remembered by Him. Not one is forgotten.
How dear then to His heart, are His own redeemed people!
Chosen by the Father,
redeemed by His Son,
renewed by His Spirit —
they are the sheep of His pasture, His own beloved children — as near and dear to Him as the apple of His eye.
Nor is the individuality and tenderness of God's care less now, than in days gone by. The Good Shepherd knows each of His flock by name — and our Heavenly Father has a place in His heart for each of His redeemed children.
Struggling believer, God cares for you, even for you, and loves you with an everlasting love! Your name is engraved on the palms of His nail-scarred hands — and when those hands are stretched out to protect and to bless, you cannot be forgotten. When others scorn you — He smiles upon you. When the storm is high and your heart is overwhelmed — He is at hand to shelter and to support you. Even when your foot has slipped and sin has come in — He will not cast you away, but will gently rebuke you and then graciously forgive and heal.
But for your comfort, remember another point. God's care for you reaches to the very least matters! "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!"
With the Omniscient and All-wise God, there is nothing small or great. Therefore be persuaded that no concern of yours is too small for your Father's eye and a Father's love.
Bring God into everything. The very least anxiety that weighs upon you — you may roll upon Him. He will not despise it. The very least ache or pain of mind or body is a part of His loving discipline — and will do its work the better if brought to Him. The heaving of a sigh, the dropping of a tear, the unuttered desire and longing of the heart — He marks and considers.
Be as a little child with your Heavenly Father. Rejoice that with filial confidence you may bring all that concerns you to His mercy-seat. Your home trials, petty annoyances from those about you, the wearied frame, a nervous temperament, something in the house or in the shop that disturbs your peace, which you have reckoned scarcely important enough to name on your knees — tell it out in your Father's ear, and leave it to His merciful and wise ordering!
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The cross is not made of soft feathers!
"Take up the cross — and follow Me." Mark 10:21
You have not the liberty of making of your own cross; although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making. Neither are you permitted to choose your own cross; although self-will would gladly be lord and master. Your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love — and you are cheerfully to accept it. You are to take up the cross as your chosen portion, and not to stand caviling at it. Jesus bids you to submit your shoulder to His easy yoke. Do not . . .
kick at it in petulance, or
trample on it in vain-glory, or
fall under it in despair, or
run away from it in fear.
Take it up like a true follower of Jesus.
Jesus was a cross-bearer; He leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if He carried a cross — what nobler burden would you desire?
The Way of the Cross is the way of safety — do not fear to tread its thorny paths.
Beloved, the cross is not made of soft feathers, or lined with velvet — it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders! But it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colors! It is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows carried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit — you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt!
Remember that the cross will soon be followed by the crown. The thought of the coming weight of glory — will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. May the Lord help you to bow your heart in submission to His divine will — that you may go forth to this day's cross with the holy and submissive spirit which befits a follower of the Crucified One.
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Beneath the cross of Jesus!
(George Everard, "Beneath the Cross" 1877)
Beneath the cross of Jesus, I shall best learn to know my sin aright. For in the presence of Him who was crucified for me, I learn how fearful is the character of sin. Sin is . . .
the knife that slew my best friend;
the nail that pierced His hand;
the spear that wounded His side;
the scourge that bruised Him;
the thorn that marked His brow.
With this sight before me . . .
let me hate my sin with deadly hatred;
let me never cloak or excuse sin, though in the most subtle form;
let me abhor the very shadow, the very approach of evil;
let me keep at the utmost distance from that which crucified my Lord.
The more I keep beneath the cross of Jesus, the more shall I grieve over the evil I have done, and grow in humility before God.
Beneath the cross of Jesus, I also see the completeness and the all-sufficiency of my sin's remedy! However great the evil I discover — help and salvation is close at hand. I can never despair, while I gaze on Him who was wounded for my transgressions and who bore my sins in His own body on the tree!
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(J.C. Ryle, "The Duties of Parents")
Train your children to a habit of obedience. No habit, I suspect, has such an influence over our lives as this. Parents, determine to make your children obey you — though it may cost you much trouble — and cost them many tears! Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and disputing, and delaying, and answering back. When you give them a command, let them see plainly that you will have it done.
It ought to be the mark of well-trained children, that they cheerfully do whatever their parents command them. Where, indeed, is the honor which the fifth commandment enjoins, if fathers and mothers are not obeyed cheerfully, willingly, and immediately?
Parents, do you wish to see your children happy? Take care, then, that you train them to obey when they are spoken to — to do as they are told.
To my eyes, a parent always yielding — and a child always having its own way — are a most painful sight! Painful, because I feel sure the consequence to that child's character in the end will be self-will, pride, and self-conceit!
Parents, if you love your children, let obedience be a motto and a watchword continually before their eyes!
Learn to say "No" to your children. Show them that you are able to refuse whatever you think is not fit for them. Show them that you are ready to punish disobedience, and that when you speak of punishment, you are not only ready to threaten, but also to perform. Do not merely threaten. Threatened folks, and threatened faults, live long. Punish seldom, but really and earnestly. Frequent and slight punishment is a wretched system indeed.
Beware of letting small faults pass unnoticed under the idea, "it is a little one." There are no little things in training children — all are important. Little weeds need plucking up as much as any. Leave them alone, and they will soon become giants!
Parents, if there is any point which deserves your attention, believe me, it is this one. It is one that will give you trouble, I know. But if you do not take trouble with your children when they are young — they will give you trouble when they are old! Choose which you prefer!
Do not be afraid, above all, that such a plan of training will make your child unhappy. I warn you against this delusion. Depend on it, there is no surer road to unhappiness than always having our own way! To be indulged perpetually is the way to be made selfish — and selfish people and spoiled children, believe me, are seldom happy!
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(George Everard, "The Home of Bethany" 1873)
"Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42
"Only one thing is needed." Not many things, but one. Not the provision for the table, the food that perishes — but the Bread of Life; for "man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
Dear reader, one thing is needful for you . . .
the wedding garment to cover you,
the pearl of great price to enrich you,
the water of life to refresh you,
the balm of Gilead to heal you,
the Rock of Ages to shelter you,
the Everlasting arms to uphold you,
the wing of your Redeemer to cover you.
Yes, "one thing is needed;" in a word, Christ! His love, His presence, His grace, His image, His glory! With this, you are rich and happy through eternal ages!
And this was Mary's portion. This was her rich inheritance. This was the good part which she had chosen, and which would never be taken from her. Her choice was without wavering or hesitation. She could say in truth, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed. I have one desire, one aim, one deep longing — to know You, to love You, to cleave to You more and more."
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The lever which has turned the world upside down!
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:14
The cross of Christ is the strength of the minister — it is the heart of the gospel.
I would not preach a sermon without preaching Christ Crucified. I would feel . . .
like a soldier without a weapon,
like an artist without a brush,
like a ship without a rudder,
like a laborer without tools.
Let others, if they will, preach law and morality; let others drench their congregations with baptisms and church laws — but give me the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ!
This is the lever which has turned the world upside down!
This is the only gospel that will cause men to repent and forsake their sins.
This is the only message which can give peace to a troubled soul.
And if the cross of Christ will not do it, nothing will.
A man may begin preaching with a perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; but he will do his hearers no good unless he experimentally knows Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
A missionary may go forth with compassion for the poor, tenderness for the sick, and pity for the enslaved; but he will never relieve poverty of spirit, sickness of soul, nor bondage of will — unless he takes them the gospel of Christ Crucified.
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Sin, sin! What have you done!
(George Everard, "Dark Gethsemane" 1877)
"Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane." Matthew 26:36
"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death!" Matthew 26:38
"And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground!" Luke 22:44
Let me draw near — let me behold this wondrous sight. If Moses took off his shoes when the Lord came near at the burning bush, still more should I regard Gethsemane as holy ground.
I see the Redeemer of sinners prostrate on the cold earth. I hear a sorrowful groan. There is deep soul agony; there is sore dismay; there is darkness that may be felt. Dark and gloomy was the shadow cast by those olive trees in the Garden. But a deeper darkness overshadowed the spirit of the Savior. Well might He employ the language of the Psalmist: "Fearfulness and trembling have come upon Me, and a horrible dread has overwhelmed Me!"
His soul is amazed and very heavy. He prays in an agony. The conflict is great, and His sweat is as drops of blood falling to the ground.
Who can pierce the darkness?
Who can tell the secret of that hour?
Who can explain the cause of that mysterious agony?
Is it that, in some way altogether beyond our thought — sin, our sin — is piercing the Holy One? Is it the guilt of sinners oppressing our Surety — the judgment and the wrath we had merited, descending upon Him? Who shall answer? Who has known the mind of the Lord? Rather let us worship and adore.
O sinless Lamb, O Lord Jesus, I bow before You, and praise You for Your love! What marvels do I behold!
You, the source of all joy — are borne down with heavy sorrow!
You, the source of all comfort — faint for lack of it.
You, the Fountain of Life — wrestle with death.
You, the highest Majesty, before whom Principalities and Powers bow — bow down Yourself to the earth before Your Father.
You, before Whom cherubim and seraphim veil their faces — lie in the dust and tread the winepress of divine wrath, for man.
Ah, I learn here the fearful reality of sin! Sin, sin! What have you done! This is your work. Never, but for sin, would we have seen the holy, spotless Savior thus enduring unspeakable sorrows. Never, but for sin, would Christ have drunk the cup of suffering, wrath, and death! Can it be a light thing which cost the Son of God such groans, such tears, such agony?
Who can utter all that sin has done?
The whole creation groans beneath the burden.
Countries are filled with cruelty and oppression.
Homes are made wretched by its power.
Ten thousand times ten thousand hearts, it has crushed and broken.
On account of it, myriads of death-beds have been without one ray of hope — -and unnumbered souls have perished eternally.
O that I may abhor the faintest shadow of evil!
O that I may shrink from the least taint of this deadly thing!
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(Charles Spurgeon, "The Fair Portrait of a Saint" 1880)
"My feet have closely followed His steps — I have kept to His way without turning aside." Job 23:11
A very beautiful motto is hung up in our classroom at the Stockwell Orphanage, "What would Jesus do?" Not only may children take it as their guide, but all of us may do the same, whatever our age.
"What would Jesus do?"
If you desire to know what you ought to do under any circumstances, imagine Jesus to be in that position and then think, "What would Jesus do? For what Jesus would do — that ought I to do."
This principle unties the knot of all moral difficulty in the most practical way, and does it so simply that no great wit or wisdom will be needed.
"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:15
"Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21
"Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6
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A diamond with a flaw — is better than a pebble without one!
(George Everard, "The Home of Bethany" 1873)
"Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with Him!" John 11:16
We often think only of Thomas as the picture of a doubting, unbelieving disciple. Let us not forget that there was in him the spirit of true self-denying love. Christ purposed to go into Judea. Thomas thought the Jews would kill Him — but if so, he was ready to share the danger.
We may learn a lesson here — let us look at the best side of a Christian's character.
"A diamond with a flaw — is better than a pebble without one!" A Christian may have some grave infirmity; he may fail very grievously at some crisis of his Christian career — yet for all that he may be one of Christ's jewels, and may shine brightly hereafter in His crown!
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Far better that the serpent should be discovered and brought out into the light of day!
(George Everard, "Bitten by Four Rattlesnakes!" 1882)
"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles — and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us!" Hebrews 12:1
What has been your own besetting sin?
Has it been pride or self-will?
Has it been some form of self-indulgence that you know is wrong?
Has it been the neglect of some duty?
Has it been the lack of genuine piety?
Has it been evil-speaking, or envy, or a bitter, revengeful spirit against someone whom you think has wronged you?
Track your sin to its hiding-place! Search it out and look it in the face. Far better that the serpent should be discovered and brought out into the light of day — than hidden in your bosom or in some secret corner of your heart! Out with it, however deadly, however strong, yes, however enticing! Out with it, and bring it into Christ's presence, that He may slay your enemy and save your soul alive.
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
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By every means she endeavored to entice him!
(George Everard, "The Arrow That Missed the Mark!" 1882)
It was well aimed, the point was dipped in deadly poison, the mark was near — and yet it failed! It might have wrought death to a precious soul, but it was received on a shield that could not be pierced, and a great victory was achieved, which it is well that every young man should remember.
What was the arrow? It was a terrible temptation, forged in Hell, that carried with it the venom of the old serpent!
Who shot it? A wicked woman, who used her position and influence in the endeavor to ruin one whom she ought to have guarded from harm and danger.
What was the mark? A young man, far from his home, and under the roof of her who would thus have done him a deadly injury.
You know the story well. I speak of Joseph, and Potiphar's wife, and the noble victory he won.
By every means she endeavored to entice him! Not once or twice, but again and again, she laid her net to take and ensnare him! She did her utmost to draw him into the sin which he abhorred. But he would not consent to her base proposals. He will neither excuse the sin to himself nor to her. He looks upon it as a black, foul, abominable thing — and a sin both against God and man. He will invent no smooth name to conceal its hideousness. He will hearken to no blathering words which will weaken his resolution. Even when she will almost compel him to evil by laying hold of his garment, he makes haste and flees and gets out, lest perchance her persuasions should conquer his purpose.
Thank God, what a young man did between three and four thousand years ago — young men may do now! The shield of Joseph's faith could not give way — the breastplate of a righteous determination against evil could not be pierced. So this poisoned dart of the wicked one fell harmless at his feet!
Refuse to drink from the fatal, though ensnaring, draught of sinful indulgence — and God can and will put into your hand one day a far sweeter cup.
Most earnestly would I beseech you to avoid the first downward step. Once yield to the Tempter, once overleap the barrier of self-restraint — and the descent to any depth of vice becomes fatally easy!
"Flee youthful lusts." 2 Timothy 2:22. Flee from them as from a serpent! Flee from this sin as from the most virulent plague! There is no end to the harm it may do to you in mind and body, as well as to your highest and eternal interests! Stand as firm as a rock, and like Joseph hold fast your integrity and maintain a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.
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(George Everard, "Strong and Free, A Book for Young Men" 1882)
"For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart!" Hebrews 4:12
I see more and more in Holy Scripture, a perfect adaptability to the various ills of mankind.
A friend went into one of our lock factories, and he was shown upwards of a hundred locks. He was told that none of the keys would open any of the locks, except the particular one for which it was made.
But then a master-key was shown to him, and this would open any of the hundred locks.
I believe Holy Scripture is like that master-key! There are myriads of human hearts, with various sins, temptations, sorrows, cares, and fears — but the Bible is fitted alike to each and all. It points out the remedy for every form of misery and evil — it leaves no heart and no trouble without some balm suited for its need.
Holy Scripture is our Father's love letter to His redeemed children. We may trace the handwriting. The spirit of truth, holiness, and love is seen all through. We mark that He knows and provides for the needs of every one in His large family. There are warnings to caution us against every form of sin, however subtle. There is consolation provided for every one of the manifold varieties of human woe. Pain and suffering, anxieties about the future, disappointments, losses, bereavements — not one of these evils, or any other, but we find some appropriate solace, some heavenly promise, that can lift the heart of the believer above it. Who could so completely have provided for every need — but He who made man and knows the hearts of those whom He has made?
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It seems to me that young ladies have many suitors for their hand!
(George Everard, "Bright and Fair! A Book for Young Ladies" 1882)
It seems to me that young ladies have many suitors for their hand. There are those who lay siege to a young lady's heart and endeavor to carry it off as their prize.
Here comes Fashion, and, in its train, dress, and show, and jewelry — and whatever ministers to vanity and pride.
Here comes Mammon, with its presents of gold and silver, and perhaps a home where there is every luxury and comfort — but where there is no room for God.
Here comes Music, with its enchanting strains, taking the first place, becoming a ruling passion, perhaps bearing sway even in the House of God, occupying the whole attention, robbing God of the heart, shutting out all true, spiritual worship, and any earnest heed to the Word of life.
Here comes Pleasure, assuming a thousand forms — the dance, the drama, the theater, and I know not what else beside — alluring with its siren voice, deadening religious impressions — leading the soul far away from Olivet, Calvary, and Mount Zion.
Here comes Ambition, perhaps making use of intellectual gifts, perhaps of other means, to rise high in the scale of society — but with no thought of using such a position for the glory of God.
Here comes even Vice, clad in some fair disguise, fed by ideas taken from the light reading of the day, and beguiling the restless and unwary into paths of unspeakable peril.
No doubt each and all of these have much to say for themselves, and will not resign the effort to make you their prey without a struggle.
Have you given your heart or hand to one or another of these? Have you permitted any one of them to exercise such influence over you, that you have been hindered in serving and following Christ?
If so, I am sure you will find disappointment. The present gratification may seem to be worth something — but what about the dregs of the cup? What will they leave behind, when health or circumstances prevent your further enjoyment of them?
Ah, there is often the yielding to some earthly pursuit or amusement — that the soul is robbed of the real joy and gladness which would otherwise rise up and fill a young life with its overflow of peace and usefulness.
What the world calls pleasure scarcely deserves the name, and very soon dries up like a brook in summer. But Jesus is a fountain always near and overflowing with joy that never fails!
I know of but one worthy suitor who may well claim your hand, your heart, your life, your all. Only yield yourself to Him in genuine sincerity, only give yourself to Him without the very least reserve — and you can never be disappointed, nor fail to secure the very best that your heart can desire!
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Let love be your highest goal!
(George Everard, "Bright and Fair! A Book for Young Ladies" 1882)
"Let love be your highest goal!" 1 Corinthians 14:1
Love is the most beautiful of all graces.
Love comes down from above, for love is one of the first-fruits of the Spirit.
Love is a plant of Paradise.
Love is a breath of celestial air.
Love is a beam from the countenance of a God of love.
Love is the golden belt, the bond of peace, that knits all heavenly virtues in one.
Love is full of humility, forbearance, and patience. It is slow to anger, but quick to support and comfort those in trouble. It is full of tender consideration for the sorrows, trials, weaknesses, infirmities, feelings, of those around. Be clothed with love.
Now be honest about this point.
What is your religion worth?
Is it a sham and a pretense — or a reality?
Are you daily waging war against these three deadly sins — sloth, self-will, and selfishness?
Are you shining as a bright lamp in your own home?
Are you careful about common, every-day duties?
Are you mindful . . .
to curb the tongue,
to watch against vain and evil thoughts,
to be considerate of the feelings and needs of those around you?
Are you ever ready to seize an opportunity for doing good, to lighten the burden of another, or to help a fellow-pilgrim on the way to Zion?
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you — so you must love one another." John 13:34
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Now, what do you think of my religion?
(George Everard, "Strong and Free! A Book for Young Men" 1882)
A rich lady once asked a very faithful pastor to call upon her, and when he was seated in her drawing-room, she began to relate to him all her good deeds, and how much she had done for the poor and the suffering. It was a long story, and the catalogue of her virtues and good works was quite overwhelming.
She had such a high opinion of herself, and her ways and doings, that she never doubted but her pastor would think her a very paragon of Christian excellence. So, very confidently she closed up her narration by putting to him the question, "Now, what do you think of my religion?"
She had a reply very blunt and straightforward, and certainly not the one she expected.
"Madam," said he, pointing to his hat on the table, "you have no more religion than that hat!"
Now you may be far from the open, glaring self-righteousness of this lady, but it may be equally true of you, in God's sight, that you have "no more religion than a hat!" Your religion may all turn upon self. There is a secret dependence upon your own character, upon your freedom from vice, upon your moral conduct — that mars whatever is good about you.
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:10-14
~ ~ ~ ~
There is more breadth than depth!
(George Everard, "Strong & Free! A Book for Young Men" 1882)
In the present day Christianity, there is more breadth than depth.
There is more profession of the truth — but less eminence in holiness.
Let not this be so with you. Be zealous to excel. Do not be content with a commonplace standard of Christian living. Press on to high attainments. Yield up your heart fully to Christ, and ask Him to fill every niche and cranny with Himself! Let every chamber of your heart be replenished from His own bounteous grace.
Let it ever be remembered, that from first to last your peace, your strength, your hope lies in a simple, whole-hearted dependence upon Christ alone. Think of Him at all times . . .
as your High Priest and Intercessor before the throne,
as your Leader and Captain in the warfare you have to wage,
as your Righteousness and your Robe under the remembrance of sin,
and as your Eternal Refuge and Portion amidst the various changes of this mortal life.
Be content with no half measures — be thorough and whole-hearted. Take the lowest place and cast yourself in deepest humiliation at Christ's feet. Then trust Him utterly. Believe that He will undertake all that concerns you. On your knees give yourself to Him to be His altogether and forever. Let there be no more reserve, no more delay, no more uncertainty. "Burn the bridge behind you!"
Life is short.
Eternity is near.
The soul is unspeakably precious.
Christ is All-mighty, All-merciful, All-faithful, All-sufficient!
~ ~ ~ ~
Ten thousand foul sins and vices burst forth and turn earth into a Hell!
(George Everard, "The Curse Removed!" 1885)
"There shall be no more curse!" Revelation 22:3
What a sad history our world has had! Ever since the tempter set his foot on earth, all the fair beauty and glory that pertained to man have well-near utterly perished!
Cursed is the ground for man's sake — thorns and thistles spring up apace! And far worse, man himself becomes as a thorn or a brier — instead of adorning the paradise of God.
Hatred and envy and evil passions of all kinds stir him up to immorality, violence, cruelty and murder.
The image of the righteous, holy God is lost.
Ten thousand foul sins and vices burst forth and turn earth into a Hell! Selfishness, pride, jealousy, oppression — bringing misery and confusion into all the relationships of life.
And the soul of man, once the palace of the King of Love — becomes the cage and dwelling-place of unclean spirits!
Oh the terrible weight of the curse which since the Fall has rested on man! Oh the woe and the wickedness which have blighted that which was once holy and fair and beautiful! The crown has fallen from our head — woe unto us that we have sinned!
But Jesus Himself bore on the cross, the penalty and the curse that sin merited — and now He gives in its place an everlasting and unchanging blessing!
There shall be a new Heaven, and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. God shall wipe away all tears from men's eyes. Sorrow and suffering, pain and death, shall no longer burden the earth.
"There shall be no more curse! They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there! And they shall reign forever and ever!" Revelation 22:3-5
~ ~ ~ ~
I once learned a precious lesson from a little girl!
(George Everard, "Victory in the Battle!" 1885)
I once learned a precious lesson from a little girl. I was walking along a road in my town, when a little girl came walking by my side. I saw that she was not a poor child seeking relief, so I wondered what she needed. After a few moments I bent down and asked her if I could do anything for her; but I only heard a sob. Soon I tried again, and, after a little delay, I just heard the words, "Rough men! So frightened!"
I looked around and saw some railroad workers returning from their work, and I imagine they were not very sober, and had been fighting or quarreling along the way. So I took hold of the child's hand, and inquiring where she lived, I took her to the gate and saw the little girl cheerfully run up the garden and enter her house.
It seemed to me just a type and picture of the way in which a Christian should act in temptation. Go near to Christ, and put confidence in Him. Go and nestle by His side and under His wing — and remember that He cares for you, and will go with you and protect you. Take hold of His hand and tell Him your trouble — and look to Him to go with you every step of your homeward journey. And He will do it. He won't reject your humble suit. He won't turn away from you and leave you. Oh no! He delights in those who flee to Him and trust in Him! He will keep them from their fears and dangers, and bring them to the Father's house in peace.
~ ~ ~ ~
Did you ever hear the dream of Gutenberg?
(George Everard, "The Importance of Reading" 1885)
Did you ever hear the dream of Gutenberg? He was just about to put forward his invention of the printing press, and it seemed to him as if an angel came and spoke to him:
"John Gutenberg, you have made your name immortal — but at what a cost! Think well what you are doing! The ungodly are many more than the godly. Your work will but multiply their blasphemies and lies. You have uncovered the bottomless pit — and a swarm of seducing spirits shall henceforth come out and turn earth into Hell. Oh think of millions of souls corrupted by your achievement. See the poison of fiends distilled into the souls of boys and girls, making them old in the experience of sin! See that mother weeping over her depraved son, and that grey-haired father hiding his face from his daughter's shame. Destroy your press, for it shall be the pander of blasphemy and lust! Destroy it, and forget it! Forbear, by multiplying the resources of the wicked, to make yourself through all ages the partaker of their crimes!"
We are all aware that the dream has had a very sorrowful fulfillment. Amidst the vast amount of printed matter sent forth daily, it is to be feared that the evil sadly exceeds the good. None can tell how the minds of multitudes are corrupted by the publications that they peruse. Therefore, my friend, be careful what you read!
Give heed as to what you read. If you knew that on the table there were poisoned dishes, as well as food that was wholesome and nourishing — you would be on your guard, and touch nothing about which you were doubtful. Just so, exercise wise forethought as to the books and magazines you take up and peruse.
It is true that "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." But it is no less true that as a man reads — so very much will he think. Mind, memory, conscience, imagination, will, affection — all will be influenced by that which you read.
The questionable novel, with its picturing of the worst passions of the soul, as is too often the case — ought not to be devoured as if it would leave no bad impression behind. I know quite well, that we all need recreation, but it is not genuine recreation to spend hour after hour pouring over that which is trashy, nonsensical, and worse — and will only unfit you for anything higher and holier.
~ ~ ~ ~
The True Church!
(George Everard, "The True Church!" 1885)
"For it is we who are the true circumcision . . .
who worship by the Spirit of God,
who glory in Christ Jesus, and
who put no confidence in the flesh." Philippians 3:3
There is a vast difference between the Church as seen by the eye of man — and by the eye of God.
The Church, as seen by man, is the mixed mass of . . .
the true and the false,
good coin and base,
the genuine and counterfeit people of God.
The Church, as seen by God, is the unmixed company of those whose hearts are right before Him. It is the flock who hear the Shepherd's voice, and follow in His footsteps. It is those who are cleansed in His blood from guilt, and renewed in the inner man by the working of His Spirit.
In the above passage, we have three distinct marks of God's people. The Jew gloried in circumcision, and accounted the Church of God to be limited to such as had received this rite. But Paul goes deeper. Those who have but the outward circumcision may be very far from God. But the true circumcision, the circumcision of the Spirit — this marks the Church of the saved.
Then he names three points. And if you would know whether you are a member of the mystical body of Christ, the Church of the living God whose names are written in Heaven — try yourself by these three marks:
1. "Who worship by the Spirit of God."
Is this your worship?
Are your prayers and praises offered by the aid of the Holy Spirit?
Do you come to God as a child to a tender Father?
Do your hearty desires go with the words you utter?
Do you thoroughly believe that the ear of God is open to your petition, and do you look for an answer in His own time and way?
2. "Who glory in Christ Jesus."
Do you glory in Christ as . . .
your wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption?
being the Rock, the Resting-place, the Refuge of your soul?
being your great High Priest, your Shepherd, your King, your Redeemer?
the source and spring of your happiness, as well as your salvation and your hope?
Do you glory . . .
in His changeless love,
in His unshaken fidelity, and
in His Almighty power to save and help?
3. "Who put no confidence in the flesh." Is this the case with yourself? Have you cast aside all confidence in all that is merely external? Have you learned to put away all confidence in ordinances, duties, church work, and all that is merely on the surface? Have you refused to rely in the least degree on your zeal, or good feelings, or works, or gifts, or self-improvement, or prayers — that to you, Christ alone may be all in all?
Here was Paul's ground of rejoicing — is it yours?
Are you a member of that Church of God's true saints, whose marks are such as these?
~ ~ ~ ~
The best sermon that can be preached!
(George Everard, "Consistency!" 1885)
"We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel, unless we find it in connection with the law of his God." Daniel 6:5
It was a noble testimony. Here was Daniel in high position, as a city set on a hill that could not be hidden. He was a sort of governor of the whole kingdom, and more than a hundred lynx-eyed enemies were ever around him, watching to discover some cause of offence in him. Though in a heathen court, temptation must have abounded on every side — yet these bitter foes have to confess that he is blameless in all the matters entrusted to his charge. His foot stands firm in the paths of truth and equity. Nothing of falsehood, nothing of double-dealing, nothing of injustice can be laid to his charge.
Blessed are they who have something of a like spirit! Consistency of life and walk is one of the most effective arguments that can be used to persuade men of the truth of the religion we profess. It is far away the best sermon that can be preached!
But what is consistency?
It is the whole life in harmony with the revealed will of God in Scripture. It is a constant painstaking effort in everything, to do the will of God.
It is a life which is all one thing. On Monday — as on Sunday, at home — as in society, in the playground — as in the schoolroom, a hundred miles away — as in the place where you live —
keeping a good conscience towards God and man,
hating everything that is corrupt and evil,
living a holy life, and
striving manfully and bravely to do your duty in the station where God has placed you.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven!" Matthew 5:16
~ ~ ~ ~
"Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things!" Psalm 119:37
Turn off the television
It is not necessary for relevance. And it is a deadly place to rest the mind. Its pervasive banality, sexual innuendo, and God-ignoring values have no ennobling effects on the soul. It kills the spirit. It drives God away. It quenches prayer. It blanks out the Bible. It cheapens the soul. It destroys spiritual power. It defiles almost everything. It is unnecessary for most of you, and it is spiritually deadly for all of you. (John Piper, "Preaching as Worship: Meditations on Expository Exultation," Trinity Journal 16, 1995)
Television, the Great Life-Waster
Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you're watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels. (John Piper, "Don't Waste Your Life" 2003)
"I have kept my feet from every evil path, so that I might obey Your Word." Psalm 119:101
~ ~ ~ ~
(George Everard, "Submission in Trial" 1868)
"Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given Me?" John 18:11
O let us consider the contents of the cup of which Jesus drank.
Every bitter ingredient was there — none was lacking.
What bodily suffering and extreme weariness and pain did He endure! No limb of His sacred body, but had a share in the agony He bore.
Beyond this, what soul grief did He endure in the base ingratitude of a people whose every need and sorrow He had been ready to relieve!
What desolation of heart did He experience through . . .
the treachery of Judas,
the denial of Peter,
the desertion of the rest of His disciples!
What pangs must have rent His spirit when upon the cross He heard the reproaches that were cast upon Him!
What darkness of soul did He pass through when He uttered the cry, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Who can express, who can fathom one of these depths of untold woe?
The object of our Lord in drinking this cup, was that He might empty at one draught, that cup of wrath which His people must forever have been drinking — and yet never have exhausted!
O blessed Jesus, in Your wondrous love You have taken the cup of poison — that You may give to me the cup of salvation! You have drained to the very dregs, that cup in which was the curse due to my sin — that You may give to me the cup of blessing, of peace, of everlasting life! To my lips, You now hold the cup which is full to the brim of everlasting consolation!
~ ~ ~ ~
The two trees!
(George Everard, "The Piercing of Jesus' Side!" 1868)
One tree has been the channel of all the evil that is to be found in the world.
Another tree has been the channel of all the good that is to be found in the world.
From the fruit of the tree of which Eve partook, has arisen . . .
all the sin,
all the care,
all the sorrow,
all the disease, and
all the death that are to be seen on every side.
From the fruit of another tree, that on which Jesus bore our sins, has arisen . . .
all the grace,
all the holiness,
all the hope,
all the consolation,
which the redeemed have received from above.
Oh, that we might gaze upon that cross, and in faith behold Him who hung there!
O blessed Redeemer, grant us the Spirit of grace and supplication . . .
that we may look upon You whom our sins have pierced, and mourn;
that we may again look upon You, and rejoice in such a loving Savior, in such a blood-bought salvation!
~ ~ ~ ~
O shame upon every one of us!
(George Everard, "Help and Consolation from the Sanctuary" 1868)
"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
O shame upon every one of us, that our thoughts are so buried in the perishing things of the world! Why are we so taken up with our little cares, or even our heavier crosses, or our daily duties — that we so seldom lift up our eye heavenward and behold our Friend, who is so ready to aid us by His counsel and strength? Why does the prospect of a little present gratification, so soon draw the heart away from Him who is the source of endless joy?
Reader, watch against this dangerous snare! Give not your heart even to lawful enjoyments, but reserve it for Christ. Thankfully use in their right measure, the blessings that God confers — but strive evermore to rise above them and hold communion with your Lord.
"Whom have I in Heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26
~ ~ ~ ~
On every forehead!
(George Everard, "Help and Consolation from the Sanctuary" 1868)
"There is a time to be born — and a time to die!" Ecclesiastes 3:2
All generations of mankind are traveling along the same road — and at the end of their course, an open grave waits to receive them! On every forehead, whether that of the little child all blithe and mirthful, or that of one wrinkled by age — may be seen as it were inscribed the words, "Dust you are — and unto dust you shall return!" At every turn we are reminded that in the midst of life, we are in death — and that even now the swift arrow may be on its way that shall bid us cease from all earthly toil.
And is there not a shrinking, and dread, a drawing back from the blow of the destroyer? The most sensitive natures ever feel it the most — yet with all, there is a fear of the last enemy that it is hard to overcome.
And where sin has been indulged, where the world has been set up as an idol within the temple of the heart — doubly fearful must be the thought of that summons which forever robs a man of the world, and calls him to a strict account for his sins!
"The length of our days is seventy years — or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away!" Psalm 90:10
"So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12
~ ~ ~ ~
What is repentance?
(George Everard, "Welcome home! Plain teachings from the story of the Prodigal" 1871)
"I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father." Luke 15:18-20
Notice the spirit of deep self-abasement in the resolution which the prodigal made.
True repentance is intensely personal. The prodigal felt it was his own sin. "I have sinned!" He can scarcely see any sin but his own. He sees his own sin in the very worst colors. Study the fifty-first Psalm. See how David again and again speaks. It is my transgression, my iniquity, my sin ever before me.
True repentance beholds the wrong done to God by sin. The prodigal felt that his sin was primarily against God. It was a breach of His holy law. It was opposition to His holiness. It was sin against His goodness, and against redeeming love. So David cries in his bitter sorrow, forgetting for the moment the wrong he had done to Uriah — in the far greater wrong which his sin had done to God: "Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight!"
True repentance makes no excuses. The prodigal seeks for no palliation, no covering, no cloak. He says nothing of the circumstances which led him to do evil, or of companions who had drawn him aside. He does not attempt to shift the burden from his own shoulders to that of others. He makes no self-justifying pleas — he has too much sorrow, too much true brokenness of spirit, to desire or attempt it. One thing, and one thing only, he sees — his own terrible fall, and his own exceeding guilt.
True repentance takes the very lowest place. Once to be a son was not enough for him — but now he will be content even to be a slave or a hired servant! He feels utterly unworthy. As Jacob felt: "I am not worthy of all the mercies You have showed me." As the centurion felt when he sent to Jesus: "I am not worthy that You should come under my roof." So did the young prodigal esteem himself: "I am no longer worthy to be called your son."
Be sure that God delights in the humble and contrite soul.
Lift yourself up in pride and self-satisfaction — and God will assuredly cast you down.
Cast yourself down in humble confession of your sin — and God will assuredly lift you up.
"God resists the proud — but gives grace unto the humble."
But we see here the purpose of the heart accomplished. The young man not only made the resolution, but he kept it, "So he got up and went to his father." He turned his back forever on that far country and his old companions — and turned his face homeward. Doubtless it was with many a tear, with many a bitter feeling of regret for all that had passed — since in so different a spirit he had trodden that path before. Yet onward he trudges with weary heart and weary footstep, in the hope that a place may still be found for him in his father's house.
Do you ask, What is repentance? I can scarcely better describe it than from the path of this wanderer. It is turning the back . . .
on the ways of the world,
on the lusts of the flesh,
on the service of the devil.
And it is turning the face God-ward, Heaven-ward, confessing all that is past, looking upward for grace to live holier, with one single desire — to abide in the fear and love of God.
~ ~ ~ ~
Everywhere may we trace the slime of the old serpent!
(George Everard, "Help and Consolation from the Sanctuary" 1868)
Since the fall, everything has been marred and corrupted by sin. With its deadly touch, sin has pervaded the whole creation. In the beginning, all things were made very good — but now they have become very evil. Everywhere may we trace the slime of the old serpent!
But Christ is the mighty Alchemist — transforming, changing, restoring. Into every "Marah" fountain, into every affliction and trial — He is ever ready to cast a branch of the tree of life, thus making the bitter waters, sweet. In other words, He turns that which in itself is grievous and painful — into a means of increased holiness and heightened joy.
Yes, He changes the heart and spirit of man — turning the vile sinner, into the holy saint. He changes the fallen one, into the holy child of God, according as it is written, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature — old things are passed away — behold, all things are become new!"
The fierce demoniac, a terror to all around — He changes into the meek and obedient disciple, "sitting at his feet, clothed and in his right mind."
"The woman who had lived a very sinful life" — He so changes, that she becomes an example to all for the great love which she bestows upon Him.
The dying malefactor — He changes into an heir of paradise.
Saul, the persecuting Pharisee — He changes into Paul, the very chief of Apostles.
The jailer, hardened in his sin — He changes into the rejoicing believer.
The Ephesians, dead in trespasses and sins, having no hope and without God in the world — He changes into "fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God."
The Corinthians, once drunkards, thieves, adulterers, prostitutes, homosexuals and the like — He changes into holy Christians — washed, sanctified, and justified!
And ever since His exaltation to the right hand of the Father, He has ever been carrying out the same gracious design:
destroying the works of the devil in men,
lifting them up from the degradation and bondage of sin,
adorning them with all heavenly graces and virtues,
making them partakers of the Divine holiness!