Grace Gems for FEBRUARY, 2016

Grace Gems for FEBRUARY, 2016

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The physician's blood became the sick man's salve!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")

"He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

Our sins were the cause of Christ's sufferings!

It was our sins which smote Him, and bruised Him!
It was our transgressions which gave Christ His deadly wounds!

Every Christian may look upon Christ and say,
"I was that Judas who betrayed You!
 I was that soldier who murdered You!
 It was my sins which brought all those sorrows, and sufferings, and evils upon You!
    I have sinned — and You have suffered!
    I have been wicked — and You have died!
    I have wounded You — and You have healed me!"

Oh, that we might look upon . . .
   a humble Christ — with a humble heart,
   a broken Christ — with a broken heart,
   a bleeding Christ — with a bleeding heart,
   a wounded Christ — with a wounded heart!

"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree; by His wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24

Here you see that the physician's blood became the sick man's salve!

Here is the gospel mystery — that the wounding of One, should be the cure of another!

Oh, what an odious thing is sin to God — that He will pardon none without blood — yes, without the precious blood of His dearest Son!

Oh, what a Hell of wickedness must there be in sin — that nothing can expiate it but the best, the purest, the noblest blood of Christ!

Oh, what a transcendent evil must sin be — that nothing can purge it away but death — the accursed death of the cross!

Oh, what a leprosy is sin — that it must have blood, yes, the blood of God, to take it away!

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God's tender mercy!

(Matthew Henry)

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him!" Luke 15:20

This parable is chiefly designed to set forth the grace and mercy of God to poor sinners who repent and return to Him, and His readiness to forgive them.

How lively are the images of God's tender mercy presented here!
His father saw the son — there were eyes of mercy;
he was filled with compassion for him — there was a heart of mercy;
he ran to meet him — there were feet of mercy;
he threw his arms around him — there were arms of mercy;
he kissed him — there were lips of mercy!

Oh, what a God of mercy He is!

Wonders of mercy — all mercy!

The prodigal came home in rags — and his father not only clothed him, but adorned him! "Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet." Luke 15:22

The prodigal came home hungry — and his father not only fed him, but feasted him! "Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate!" Luke 15:23

Oh, what a precious reception for one of the chief of sinners!

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Was it by chance that they met?

(George Everard, "By the Well of Sychar" 1884)

"He had to go through Samaria. So He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar . . . Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her: Will you give Me a drink?" John 4:4-7

How was it that Jesus was there at the moment when the woman came?

Was it by chance that they met? Was it simply an opportunity for doing good that the Master seized? I do not so read the story. The Good Shepherd was weary — for He had come many a mile to fetch home a lost and wandering one!

"There were ninety and nine that safely lay
 In the shelter of the fold;
 But one was out on the hills away,
 Far off from the gates of gold,
 Away on the mountains wild and bare,
 Away from the tender Shepherd's care."

Everlasting love brought Him to Sychar!
Everlasting love led Him to speak to her, to ask water at her hands — that He might give her the living water that alone could satisfy her thirsty soul!

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Some years ago I heard an allegory which I have never forgotten

(George Everard, "The Home of Bethany" 1873)

"He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation." Psalm 107:7

Some years ago I heard an allegory which I have never forgotten. It often comes back to me when I think of the way in which the Lord leads His people.

The fable runs that a few ears of wheat were growing in the corner of a field, and it was promised to this wheat that it would one day be brought before the Queen. But by-and-by the mower came with his sharp scythe and cut the wheat, and feeling the sharpness of the scythe, it said, "I shall never stand before the Queen!" Presently it was laid in the wagon, and pressed and borne down by the other sheaves, and again arose the cry of distress and despair. But, more than this, it was laid on the threshing-floor, and the heavy flail came down upon it. It was taken to the mill, and cut and cut and cut; then it was kneaded into bread; and at last it was placed in the hot burning oven. Again and again was heard the cry of utter, hopeless despair. But at length the promise was fulfilled, and the bread was placed on the Queen's table!

There is a great spiritual truth beneath the fable. Christians are God's wheat, sprung from the incorruptible seed of His Word, and from the precious seed of the crucified, buried body of our Lord — and He purposes that one day they shall stand before Him! But there needs much preparation.

There comes the sharp scythe of bereavement — the loss of child or parent or spouse.

There comes the oppressive burden of care.

There comes the severe tribulation (the very word signifies threshing), seasons of adversity and disappointment.

There comes the mill, the trial that utterly breaks us down, and fills the whole spirit with distress.

There comes the hot furnace of agonizing pain or fear.

All these are doing their appointed work, stirring up faith and prayer, humbling to the very dust — and yet lifting up the Christian, by leading him nearer to God, and enabling him at length to say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted!"

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Not one tear is lost!

(George Everard, "The Tears of Jesus!" 1884)

On opening ancient tombs in Palestine, many a tear-bottle has been found, which was a repository for the tears of the mourners, and was then placed in the tomb beside the one who was laid there.

Just so does our heavenly Father gather all the tears of His redeemed children.
"You keep track of all my sorrows.
 You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
 You have recorded each one in Your book!" Psalm 56:8

Not one tear is lost! Not one sorrow is unheeded. Not one grief is left unbefriended. All these tears are noted by our merciful Father above!

We have a Savior who has known our sorrows, and by His tears can heal every wound that sin has made. "In all their affliction, He was afflicted." When He was on earth, He wept with those that wept — and He is still the same. We can think of the tears He shed more than eighteen centuries ago — and know that at this hour He is the same loving and sympathizing Friend!

There is no sympathy like that of Jesus! It flows in full flood toward His believing children. Just as the rising tide rushes in and pours through every cranny and nook on the shore where admittance can be gained — so does Christ's tender loving-kindness enter the hearts of His people.

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Go to the mercy-seat as a little child to a mother's knee!

(George Everard, "Jesus on the Holy Mount" 1884)

"As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning!" Luke 9:29

There is a transforming efficacy of true prayer!
While Christ was praying, Divine light and glory came upon Him from above.

And so in another way, it is with the believer. Imagine a child of God who has had a difficult day of toil and anxiety. He has been all day long in contact with the world, its turmoil, its business — and perchance he has been ruffled with the evil tempers or angry words of those he has met.

But the evening comes. He has a quiet half hour for communion with his Best Friend. Then, as he dwells upon some sweet promise of the Word, as he rolls the burden of the day upon a Father in Heaven — there comes back a quiet joy, a calm peace into his soul. A new strength is imparted, and a new view is taken of life's duties and temptations. The discipline of heavenly wisdom is recognized, and instead of the jaded look and wearied spirit — there is power and life and gladness and hope found upspringing within the heart!

Never, never let the Christian be robbed of the comfort of prayer by the thought of being unfitted for its exercise. You are tempted, it may be, to think that because the mind has been overstrained, and you are tired and weary — that therefore it is impossible to make the effort for prayer.

Let it be just the other way: "I need the quiet of my Father's presence to soothe this throbbing brow, to rest this fainting heart — and I must have it." Then go to the mercy-seat as a little child to a mother's knee. Your words need not be many, but let them be from your heart — to the heart of your Father in Heaven!

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Oh, what a mystery of humility — what a mystery of condescension and love!

(George Everard, "Help and Consolation from the Sanctuary" 1868)

"Behold! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means God with us." Matthew 1:23

Who shall fathom this deep well? What a depth of marvels in the Word made flesh and dwelling among us! What depths in that name, Emmanuel!

"God with us! The mighty God!" — and yet needing a mother's tender care!

His goings forth from everlasting — and yet an infant of days!

The Heaven of heavens cannot contain Him — and yet He is wrapped in swaddling clothes!

The everlasting Jehovah His Father — yet a poor Galilean maiden His mother!

Many mansions in the Father's house are at His disposal — and yet He is denied a lodging in a village inn.

Worshiped by angels — and yet under the same roof with the beasts of the field.

Oh, what a mystery of humility — what a mystery of condescension and love!

Yes, innumerable are the benefits which Christ comes to bestow. He comes . . .
  to bind up the broken-hearted,
  to proclaim liberty to the captives,
  to give recovery of sight to the blind,
  to comfort all who mourn,
  to seek and to save those who are lost, 
  to give His life a ransom for many,
  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,
  to save sinners, even the chief,
  to save to the uttermost, all who come to God by Him — from guilt, wrath, and everlasting woe,
  to set them at His own right hand in glory, where they shall shine forever in the likeness of God!

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Reading Christians!

(George Everard, "The Yoke of Christ!" 1882)

"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am gentle and humble of heart" Matthew 11:29

"Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21
I must not only learn the secrets of divine truth from Christ's Word — but I must learn the secret of a holy life, by walking as He walked. Among all lessons, none is better than this.

I must copy Christ's humility.

I must imitate His gentleness, His forbearance, His willingness to stoop even to the cross.

I must cast to the winds all haughtiness and self-conceit — and be content to be nothing, if only He may be glorified.

And where there is true humility, self-sacrifice and loving charity — purity of heart and life will not lag far behind. For Christ Himself dwells with the humble; and where Christ and His Spirit abide, every Christian virtue will spring forth and grow.

Let the Christian ever remember the strong encouragement which the Master gives to all who take His yoke. It is a yoke lined with love. He who lays it on you is no hard man, no cruel tyrant — but the meek and lowly One, the Savior, the Friend, the Brother, the Bridegroom of His redeemed people.
In love, He bids you take His yoke.
In love, He fits it to the neck of each who bears it.
In love, He stands by you and helps you to carry it, and gives daily grace for daily need.

One who was an utter unbeliever, was asked why he held infidel views. "Through reading Christians instead of reading the Scriptures," was his reply.

Oh that Christ might be seen in every one who bears His name! Oh that we might all so learn of Him, that the outside world would see
the mighty reality of His grace through us!

"Whoever says he abides in Him 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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To know Christ experimentally!

(George Everard, "Up High!" 1884)

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

Hence the importance of searching more in the Word, for the knowledge of Christ.

Learn to know Him more in the beauty of His holy, spotless life of obedience and self-sacrifice.

Learn to know Him in the greatness of His humiliation and sufferings.

Learn to know Him in the unspeakable benefits of His Cross.

Learn to know Him as a justifying Redeemer, clothing His people with His spotless robe of merit and righteousness.

Learn to know Him as a living Redeemer, the living One who can never die.

Learn to know Him as the ascended, exalted, glorified Redeemer, and the great Advocate and High Priest of all who draw near to the Father through Him.

Learn to know Him as a conquering Redeemer, who overcame sin, and the world, and death, and all the powers of darkness — and who will no less overcome them in each of His own little flock.

Learn to know him as the Coming One, as He who shall come to reign over earth and Heaven!

To know Christ experimentally
in all His offices and work and character, is to gain a mighty leverage for holy living — and to grow in faith and love and every grace.

"May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." 2 Peter 1:2

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Is it possible?

(by James Smith)

"The Lord delights in you!" Isaiah 62:4

Is it possible, that such poor, depraved, unworthy creatures — can be the objects of Jehovah's delight? Yes! The infinite love of God has been fixed upon us from eternity! Because He loved and chose us, He sent His only-begotten Son to die for us! He sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts to regenerate us!

"You have loved them — AS You have loved Me!" John 17:23
Yes, the Father has loved us — just as He has loved Jesus — with an infinite love!

Every believer, though . . .
  his faith is weak,
  his fears are many,
  his corruptions are strong,
  his troubles are great, and
  his temptations are sore —
is the object of Jehovah's delight!

Let us therefore endeavor to pass through this day, yes, and every day — believing and realizing:
"I am Jehovah's delight!
 I am the object of His highest love!
 I am the subject of His sweetest thoughts!
 I am His portion for evermore!"

O incomparable privilege!

Wondrous source of comfort, holiness, and love!

You have more cause for gratitude than an angel!

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My heart has been continually producing new monsters!

(Letters of John Newton)

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?" Jeremiah 17:9 (Amplified version)

Alas! the most marvelous proofs of the Lord's patience and goodness to me are utterly unfit for publication; nay, I could not whisper some things into the ear of a friend.

It has been since my conversion, and not by what happened before it, that I have known the most striking instances of the vileness and depravity of my nature. My heart has been continually producing new monsters! I have good reason to believe, that it is still comparatively an unknown territory to me; and that it contains bottomless mines, depths, and sources of iniquity in it, of which I have hardly a more adequate conception, than I could form of the fishes that are hidden in the sea, by taking a survey of the fish-market at Billingsgate!

But oh! wonderful, transporting thought! He, before whom its most retired recesses lie naked and open, can and does bear with me! How wonderful is it, likewise, that notwithstanding all these floods of abomination, He has been pleased to keep me outwardly, so that I have not been allowed to make any considerable blot in my profession before men, since He was pleased first to number me among His children. But truly I have nothing to boast of. I may well say, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is exceedingly abundant!" 1 Timothy 1:14

"Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
 That saved a wretch like me!"

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I am chained to a dead body!

(Letters of John Newton)

"Not that I have already attained all this, or have already been made perfect." Philippians 3:12

Alas! alas! indeed I "have not attained!" I love the truth, and I love to declare it, and sometimes my earnestness in the pulpit may make the hearers think I am 'somebody'.

But could you compare Mr. Newton in the pulpit, with Mr. Newton at home and in himself — you would startle and exclaim, "Nothing was ever so unlike itself!"

Well, I believe it must be so in some measure — while, like the prisoners of Mezentius, I am chained to a dead body. But I hope the time will come, when I shall no longer drag the loathsome corpse of a depraved nature about with me. Ah! what a loathsome sight; what a cadaverous smell haunts me in every place!

I believe, if the Lord was pleased to increase my little exercise of grace tenfold, I would be ten times more out of conceit with myself than I am at present.

This is a poor subject — let us change it, and drop a thought about Jesus! In Him we have wisdom, righteousness, peace, power, and salvation. Grace abounds in Him, more than sin can abound in me — and His compassion is fully adequate to my case. With Him there is plenteous redemption, therefore I will trust and not be afraid.

The more vile I — the more glorious and wonderful will He be in saving me to the uttermost! I wish to be humbled under a sense of sin, to strive in His strength against it; and then to be willing to be nothing, that He may be all in all.

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This one thought is a fountain of unfailing happiness!

(George Everard, "Up High!" 1884)

"He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ" Ephesians 1:5

"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus!" Galatians 3:26

Here is one of the sweetest privileges of the Christian life. The Christian is a beloved child, and shares all the love and tenderness of the Father's heart!

This one thought is a fountain of unfailing happiness!
"I am at home with God!
 Once I was far off — but now I am near.
 Once I was a stranger — but now His beloved child!
 Once the thought of His presence was fear and dread — but now it is life, and joy, and peace.
 He is my Father, and in this Name all heart-joys meet.
 He knows me by name, and cares for me in all my cares.
 He pities me, and in tender compassion marks each tear I shed, and each sorrow that weighs upon my heart.
 He opens His hand, and each day gives me all that I need.
 He bows down His ear and hearkens to each prayer I offer.
 I have boldness and liberty to go at all times into His presence-chamber, and may tell Him every desire and ask of Him whatever is for my good."

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

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The spirit of the world is eating out the very heart and life of true godliness!

(George Everard, "Be Separate!" 1884)

The spirit of the world is eating out the very heart and life of true godliness!

In the matter of friendships, of recreations, of converse in social life — the Christian needs to be very watchful, if he would follow the Savior.

Christians should be very careful as to the scenes of recreation which they frequent. As we find them at the present day, the Theater, the Ball-room, and the Race-course — are hot-beds of evil and ungodliness! They are most injurious to the cultivation of pure and undefiled religion. To my mind they are perilous in the extreme, and are calculated to quench every good and holy purpose and desire in the soul.

Let the love of Christ be supreme! Let no lower motive satisfy you.
"I see no harm in this or that,"
say many.
But can you do it in the love of Christ?
Are you living for self — or for Him?
Are you pleasing the world — or pleasing the Master?
Are you so acting, that with a good conscience you can ask Him to go with you and bless and prosper you in all you do?

Do not I love Thee, O my Lord?
Behold my heart and see;
And cast each hated idol down
That dares to rival Thee!

"Do not be conformed to this world." Romans 12:2
 Do not follow its evil customs.
 Do not receive its unscriptural teachings.
 Do not court its favor, love its praises, or dread its frowns.

Whatever chains you down to earth, and keeps you on the same level with the children of this world — this, whatever it may be, is most assuredly your deadliest enemy. "Don't you know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" 

For what are you to live?
For self-advancement?
For your own ease and comfort?
For laying up a store of wealth for your children when you have passed away?
Or is it to spend every day of your life, and to order your affairs so as to glorify Christ, and lay out all that He has given you, as He would have you?

Walk more closely with God day by day.
Seek to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.
Strive to be more like your Savior in your whole spirit and conduct.

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

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You have gunpowder hearts!

(George Everard, "Mind Your Steps!" 1884)

"Avoid every kind of evil!"
1 Thessalonians 5:22

Be careful to guard against all occasions of sin and evil. There is no safety without setting a watch against all that is likely to prove a stumbling-block.

I read one day of the remarkable precautions which are taken to avoid danger in a gunpowder manufactory. The walls are all of stone, and no wood is allowed to be in the place. Anyone who walks through has to take off his shoes, lest the nails in them should strike a spark. Then, if he has any metal on him, he must leave it at the door. The danger is so great, that everything must be done to avoid any approach to it.

Oh that Christians would take heed in a similar way to keep from the peril of sin! Keep far away from any approach to temptation. You have gunpowder hearts — so ready to ignite from the least spark! A look, a word, an evil example, a sentence in a book, a suggestion from a bad companion — any of these may be the cause of a world of mischief.

Therefore, make it your firm resolve to keep out of harm's way.
Beware of all places, and scenes, and people — that may turn you from the right course.
Don't imagine you are strong enough to go, and get no harm.
Better to keep far from the edge of the precipice.
Better to keep out of the lion's reach!
Better to keep from the long grass where the viper is coiled up!
Stop while you can — or you may go so far that it may be impossible to escape.

Be careful to guard well the various gates of access to the heart — and of egress into the world.

Guard well the eye. Keep it from vanity. Remember that one look cost Achan his life — and a lustful look embittered the whole of David's years. Let the eye look straight onward, and right upward to the throne.

Guard well the ear. Receive nothing that will pollute or defile you. Hearken to no voice of flattery or persuasion to evil. Welcome every message of the word of truth.

Guard well the memory and imagination. Let no vision or image tarry there, which will chain and enthrall the soul. If unclean birds fly over your head — do not let them settle in your hair!

Nor be less mindful . . .
  to curb the tongue,
  to guide the foot,
  to use the hand,
according to God's holy will.

The words you utter,
the paths you go,
the deeds you perform,
tell mightily on yourself and on others. And none should be permitted to act except under the control of the fear and love of God.

Yet always remember, that it is not your careful walking, but Christ's careful keeping — which will ensure your final victory!
Your enemies are legion,
your strength is nothing,
your resolutions soon fail,
your heart is easily beguiled and turned aside —
but the good Shepherd will keep His own redeemed people.
He will point out your danger — and enable you to flee from it.
He will uphold you in perilous places — and lift you up when you fall.
He will keep you from falling — and save you even to the uttermost!

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The very highest object of angel and archangel before the throne!

(George Everard, "Much Fruit!" 1884)

"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." John 15:8

The Christian should be as a branch laden with good fruit, weighed down with ripened clusters, sweetened by the glorious sunshine, and gladdening the heart of the Great Gardener, as He sees in it a rich reward for His toil and pains!

That they should bear abundant fruit, is one great purpose of all God's dealings with His people. He not simply wills that they should be forgiven and saved — but that they should glorify Him by being fruitful in every good word and work. To bring glory to God is the very highest object of angel and archangel before the throne! It is worth striving for. It is the noblest aim the Christian can cherish.

It should be our effort day by day to bring our basket of ripe fruit to the Master — and such as will glorify Him and receive His gracious approval.

All true fruit which glorifies God, is the outgrowth of inward spiritual grace. It is an external manifestation of the Spirit of God abiding within.

Hence the main point always to keep steadfastly before me, is the absolute necessity of a living union with Christ. It is the branch abiding in living union with the stem and root, that alone can bring forth fruit. There is no possibility of any fruit at all without this.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5

I must not aim at doing anything whatever by my own natural abilities.
In Christ, I must begin,
in Christ, I must continue,
in Christ, I must complete all that I undertake.

On Him I must exercise entire, unlimited, perpetual dependence!

I must rely upon Him for . . .
  daily mercy,
  daily grace,
  daily keeping,
  daily upholding, and
  daily power to think and will and work as I ought in His service.

I must ever abide in Christ by faith, and receive out of His fullness. I must continually . . .
  feed on the Living Bread,
  drink evermore from the Living Fountain,
  abide in the love of Christ, and
  dwell beneath the shadow of the Rock of Ages!

If I would bear fruit — my religion must go heart-deep! Christ must be all my salvation and all my desire!

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They are like the soap-bubbles which little children blow!

(George Everard, "Up High!" 1884)

"The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever!" 1 John 2:17

There is nothing in the world in which we can glory. Its possessions, its pleasures, its pomp and show, its praise and flattery — what are they? They are like the soap-bubbles which little children blow, glittering for a moment with blue and golden rays, and then bursting, and they are gone!

"Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun!" Ecclesiastes 2:11

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Swept off the great chess-board of this world!

(George Wilson, "Counsels of an Invalid" 1862)

"There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow." Ecclesiastes 1:11

"For the wise and the foolish both die. The wise will not be remembered any longer than the fool. In the days to come, both will be forgotten." Ecclesiastes 2:16

November 26th, 1847.
Dear Friend,
We shall both very soon, I anticipate, be called away from seeing all things through a glass darkly — to meeting God face to face, and shall have to answer to Him for the deeds done in the body.

We would certainly exhibit the most inordinate vanity, if we thought that the great mass of our fellow-men would be losers by our being swept off the great chess-board of this world.

This board, indeed, is always so crowded that, with the exception of our attached relations and a few friends, the greater number of our neighbors will be glad to know that our being cleared away has left more elbow-room. Think how soon the world gets over the death of an eminent minister — and let us be content that the place that knew us once, shall know us no more.

"Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die! The wind blows, and we are gone — as though we had never been here!" Psalm 103:15-16

"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. So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:10, 12

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What is Christianity?

(George Everard, "Guidance and Help" 1874)

"Christ is all!" Colossians 3:11

What is Christianity?

Christianity centers in the glorious Person of Christ!

The aim and purpose of every Scripture truth, is to fix the eye on Christ Himself!
He is the Alpha and Omega of Christianity.
From Him proceeds every ray of light.
To Him all believing hearts are drawn.
The Christian finds consolation and strength only in Him.
Every motive for Christian living is from Him.
The glorious privileges which Christians possess, can only be enjoyed from union and fellowship with Him.
Their highest standard of duty is to follow His footsteps, and to walk even as He walked.

Christianity, in fact, is Christ! It is . . .
   Christ in the Scriptures;
   Christ in the Manger;
   Christ on the Cross;
   Christ, the Risen One;
   Christ, the Ascended One;
   Christ, the Prophet, the Priest, the King;
   Christ in His Glorious appearing, to be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels!

All our trust, all our love, all our obedience, is due to Him!

The more the eye and the heart is turned fully towards Him — the more true and genuine is our Christianity.

Do not I love You, Oh my Lord?
Behold my heart and see,
And turn each cursed idol out,
That dares to rival Thee!

You know I love You, dearest Lord,
But oh, I long to soar,
Far from the sphere of mortal joys,
And learn to love You more!
  Philip Doddridge

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The source and spring of all true life, pleasure, holiness, and hope!

(George Everard, "The Stray One Recalled!" 1874)

"My people have committed two evils:
   they have forsaken Me — the Fountain of living waters, and
   hewed out cisterns — broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
Jeremiah 2:13

God reminds us how foolish and unwise it is thus to forsake the sole source of true happiness.

It is a very forcible image that is here employed — God is a Fountain, a Well of Life.
He is the source and spring of all true life, pleasure, holiness, and hope!
In Him is a continual freshness of all that can fill the soul with joy.
In Him are inexhaustible streams of mercy, grace, and consolation.
But men forsake this Fountain for cisterns — yes, more, for broken cisterns, from which soon leak out the few drops of water they may contain.

A traveler in the Holy Land tells us that in one part he found the land riddled with the remains of these broken cisterns. When water was needed, they would just dig one of these little clay cisterns in the ground. It would hold water for a time, but soon, when the sun was hot and weather dry, it would crack and leak — and so another and another would be needed.

Ah, what pains and trouble men take in hewing out cisterns like these . . .
  wealth unsanctified by true riches,
  the acquisition of knowledge with no end beyond its possession,
  a position and name that shall dazzle those around,
  schemes of self-indulgence and pleasure,
  a comfortable home where God is forgotten,
  some object of affection which engrosses every thought —
how often something of this kind steals the heart from God!
But before long there is sure to be a crack, a leak — and the joy and the comfort is dried up and gone!

So God in His tender compassion would have us see this, and remember that nothing can ever take the place of Himself as our Well-spring of joy.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The source and spring of all true life, pleasure, holiness, and hope!

(George Everard, "The Stray One Recalled!" 1874)

"My people have committed two evils:
   they have forsaken Me — the Fountain of living waters, and
   hewed out cisterns — broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
Jeremiah 2:13

God reminds us how foolish and unwise it is thus to forsake the sole source of true happiness.

It is a very forcible image that is here employed — God is a Fountain, a Well of Life.
He is the source and spring of all true life, pleasure, holiness, and hope!
In Him is a continual freshness of all that can fill the soul with joy.
In Him are inexhaustible streams of mercy, grace, and consolation.
But men forsake this Fountain for cisterns — yes, more, for broken cisterns, from which soon leak out the few drops of water they may contain.

A traveler in the Holy Land tells us that in one part he found the land riddled with the remains of these broken cisterns. When water was needed, they would just dig one of these little clay cisterns in the ground. It would hold water for a time, but soon, when the sun was hot and weather dry, it would crack and leak — and so another and another would be needed.

Ah, what pains and trouble men take in hewing out cisterns like these . . .
  wealth unsanctified by true riches,
  the acquisition of knowledge with no end beyond its possession,
  a position and name that shall dazzle those around,
  schemes of self-indulgence and pleasure,
  a comfortable home where God is forgotten,
  some object of affection which engrosses every thought —
how often something of this kind steals the heart from God!
But before long there is sure to be a crack, a leak — and the joy and the comfort is dried up and gone!

So God in His tender compassion would have us see this, and remember that nothing can ever take the place of Himself as our Well-spring of joy.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Your everlasting treasure, and your unchangeable Friend!

(George Everard, "Up High!" 1884)

"Thus says the LORD:
  Let not a wise man glory of his wisdom,
  and let not the mighty man glory in his might,
  let not a rich man glory in his riches.
But let him who glories, glory in this — that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things!" Jeremiah 9:23-24

Glory in Christ — and in Him alone!

Glory in Him as your Faithful Shepherd, who will care for you, and guard you, and restore you, and keep you even to the end.

Glory in Him as your Unfailing Physician, who will heal your soul-wounds, and bind up the bleeding, broken heart.

Glory in Him as your Great High Priest, who ever lives to plead your cause before the Throne of grace.

Glory in Him as your Omnipotent King, who reigns over the events of Providence, and will make all things work together for your eternal good.

Glory in Him as your Mighty Redeemer, who will deliver you from every enemy, and make you conqueror over sin, death and Hell.

Glory in Him as your Everlasting Portion, remembering that when all else shall take wings and flee away — when the home is broken up, and dear ones die, and means grow less, and health decays, yes, when everything on earth fails you — He will be your everlasting treasure, and your unchangeable Friend!

And let this glorying be seen by your entire resignation to His will — and by choosing His path rather than your own.

"Not I, but Christ!" Lord, choose for me,
 And make me love what pleases Thee.

"Not I, but Christ!" His will be done,
 And mine with His be merged in one.

Myself no longer would I see,
But Jesus crucified for me.

His eye to guide, His voice to cheer,
His mighty arm forever near.

"Not I, but Christ!" Lord, let this be
 A motto throughout life for me!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

In which class do you think most children would prefer to be?

(George Everard, "Up High!" 1884)

Two lads were once talking together about their teachers in the Sunday school.

"You should be in our class," said one boy, "our teacher knows so much!"

"You should be in our class," said the other, "our teacher loves so much!"

In which class do you think most children would prefer to be?

"If I can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge — but have not love, I am nothing."
    1 Corinthians 13:2

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Earthly crowns are like tennis-balls!

(Thomas Brooks, "A Word in Season to Suffering Saints")

"And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away!" 1 Peter 5:4

A crown is the height of human ambition. Yet earthly crowns are as the fading garlands, with which the conquerors at games, races, and combats were crowned — which were made of herbs, leaves, and flowers.

But a believer's crown, his inheritance, his glory, his happiness, his blessedness — shall be as fresh and flourishing after he has been many millions of years in Heaven — as it was at his first entrance into it!

Earthly crowns are like tennis-balls, which are bandied up and down from one to another, and in time wear out.
When time shall be no more,
when earthly crowns and kingdoms shall be no more,
yes, when the world shall be no more —
the Christian's crown of glory shall be fresh, flourishing, and continuing!

All the devils in Hell shall never wrangle a believer out of his heavenly inheritance, nor deprive him of his crown of glory. The least thing in heaven, is better than the greatest things in this world. All things on earth are fading away — but the crown of glory never fades away!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

You may get a ticket straight to Hell, by express!

(Talmage, "The Abominations of Modern Society", 1872)

If you would lead a pure life — have nothing to do with bad books and impure newspapers. With such immoral literature as is coming forth from our swift-revolving printing-presses, there is no excuse for dragging one's self through sewers of unchastity.

Never read a bad book!
By the time you get through the first chapter, you will see the drift of it. If you find the hoof-prints of the devil in the pictures, or in the style, or in the plot — away with it! You may tear your coat, or break a vase — and repair them again. But it takes less than an hour to do your soul a damage — which no time can entirely repair!

Young man, as you value Heaven, never buy a book from one of those men who meet you in the square, and, after looking both ways to see if the police are watching, shows you a book — "very cheap". Have him arrested — as you would kill a rattle-snake! Grab him, and shout, "Police! police!"

But there is more danger, I think, from many of the family newspapers. Some of them contain stories of vice and shame, full of evil suggestions, and go as far as they can without exposing themselves to the clutch of the law. On some tables in Christian homes, there lie "family newspapers" which are the very vomit of the pit of Hell!

The way to ruin is cheap! It costs three dollars to go to Philadelphia; six dollars to Boston; thirty-three dollars to Savannah. But, by the purchase of a bad paper for ten cents — you may get a ticket straight to Hell, by express, with few stopping-places! And the final stop is like the tumbling of the train over a bridge — sudden, dreadful, deathly, never to rise.

O, the power of an iniquitous pen! If a needle punctures the body at a certain point — life is destroyed. But the pen is a sharper instrument — for with its puncture you may kill your soul!

Do not think that that book which you find fascinating and entertaining, is therefore healthful. Some of the worst poisons are pleasant to the taste. The pen which for the time fascinates you — may have been dipped in the slime of impure hearts!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I would unmask the devil!

(Talmage, "The Abominations of Modern Society", 1872)

"Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light!" 2 Corinthians 11:14

Poets and painters have portrayed Satan as a hideous creature, with horns and hoofs.

If I were a poet
, I would describe him with . . .
  manners polished to the last perfection,
  hair flowing in graceful ringlets,
  eye glistening with splendor;
  hands soft and diamonded;
  step light and graceful;
  voice mellow as a flute;
  conversation articulate and eloquent;
  breath perfumed until it would seem that nothing had ever touched his lips but balm and myrrh.

But his heart I would encase with the scales of a monster, then filled . . .
  with pride,
  with beastliness of lust,
  with recklessness,
  with hypocrisy,
  with death,
  with damnation!

In my next portrait, I would unmask the devil — until . . .
  his two eyes would become the cold orbs of the adder;
  and on his lip would come the foam of raging intoxication;
  and to his feet, the spring of the panther;
  and his soft hand would become the clammy hand of a wasted skeleton;
  and in the smooth lisp of his tongue, would come the hiss of the worm which never dies;
  while suddenly from his heart would burst in all-devouring fury — the unquenchable flames of Hell!

But, until unmasked, I would describe him as nothing but myrrh, and balm, and ringlet, and diamond, and flute-like voice, with pleasant and mirthful conversation.

"So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:11

   ~  ~  ~  ~

But why?

(Don Fortner)

"Behold, we count them blessed who endure." James 5:11

Faith counts them blessed who patiently endure trials, as Job, the saints, and prophets of old did.

But why?
Upon what grounds do we count them blessed?

Enduring their trials, God's saints find themselves compelled to cling tightly to their Savior — -and that brings them into closer, sweeter communion with Him. And that is our happiness! We are blessed, indeed, when . . .
  we are admitted into the inner chambers of Him whom our souls love,
  our sorrows more fully reveal to us the Man of Sorrows,
  our griefs cast us upon the heart of our God,
  our troubles take us to the Throne of Grace.

Little chicks in the sunshine run all over the yard, pecking and gathering whatever they find. But if a hawk appears in the sky, the mother hen calls them with a sharp alarm. Immediately, they perceive the danger and run under her wings for safety.

God's saints are like those chicks. He was a much afflicted man who wrote, "He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings shall you trust." Psalm 91:4

One of the most delicious of sensations outside of Heaven, is to fall helplessly into the arms of Christ! There we find . . .
  strength in helplessness,
  joy in submission,
  rest in resignation,
  and peace in surrender!
Anything which . . .
 gives new life to prayer,
 brings us to the Throne of Grace,
 and renews communion with our God —
is so great a gift that, "we count them blessed who endure."

There is no place in all our pilgrim journey more needful for our souls than the Valley of Humiliation. The tops of the Delectable Mountains are wonderful, exhilarating spots, from which we sometimes see the Golden City. But those are heights too steep for our trembling feet to stand firmly upon them. The valley suits us better, though flesh and blood finds it hard to go downhill. Here our dear Savior manifests Himself to His chosen as He does not to the world. Therefore "we count them blessed who endure."

Once more, "we count them blessed who endure," because "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" 2 Corinthians 4:17. Oh, what glory awaits us on the other side! And that glory awaiting us is made all the more glorious by "the trial of our faith!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The pattern which we daily strive to copy!

(George Everard, "Before His Footstool" 1874)

O merciful God, our Creator and our Benefactor, our Father in Christ Jesus — we come to You today to thank and praise You for all Your manifold mercies. We thank You for the proofs of Your goodness which day by day we receive at Your kind hands. You have given us all things richly to enjoy. You have given to us home and friends, food and clothing — and You have preserved us in life and health. For all this bounty we adore and praise Your holy name.

But we would bless You most of all, for Your inestimable love in our redemption. You have given Your Son Jesus Christ to be a sacrifice for our sins. Fill us with sincere gratitude, and teach us to praise You both with our lips and in our lives.

O God of love, purify our hearts that we may love You as we ought. You are worthy that we should love You far above all else. But we are carnal, and our affections cling too much to the things of the world. May Your Holy Spirit break the chains which bind us so closely to earth, and draw us nearer to Yourself. Shed abroad Your love in our hearts, that we may desire Your presence above all things. Kindle within each of us the heavenly flame, and may it burn ever more and more brightly.

O blessed Savior, the Good Shepherd of Your flock — may Your holy life be the pattern which we daily strive to copy. Teach us so to walk as You walked when sojourning here below. May our constant aim be to do the will of our Father in Heaven. May we be gentle and meek and forbearing towards all men. May we never willfully yield to the very least sin. May we give ourselves unto prayer, and make Your Word the rule of our life. May we go about doing good, and watch for occasions of comforting those in distress. Fill our hearts with zeal and love, with patience and kindness, with humility, and hatred of all evil. May we daily fix our eye on You as revealed in Your Word, and may we be changed into Your holy image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of our God.

May Your Word ever be the light to guide and direct us, and may Christ alone be the resting-place of our heart.

Hear us, O God, and preserve us evermore by Your help and goodness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Here is a sermon which none can dispute!

(George Everard, "Up High!" 1884)

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." Matthew 5:16

We are to let the beauty of Jesus be seen upon us, that some rays of His glorious holiness may be manifested to the eyes of the world around. We are to go forth clothed in . . .
  His meekness,
  His purity,
  His love,
  His heavenliness,
  His unselfishness —
that sinners about us may gain some faint idea of His grace, through His likeness seen in us.

When, from beneath the humble garb of some lowly disciple, there shines forth something of Christ, something of what He was when on earth — here is a sermon which none can dispute, here is an appeal to the human conscience, more eloquent than the most powerful address ever made from the pulpit!

Christian, do you thus glorify Christ day by day?

Does your life speak so distinctly and plainly for Christ, that men cannot fail to hear?

Does your temper, your tone of thought and speech, bear witness that you walk continually before God?

Do men take knowledge of you, that you have been with Him — and that He is with you?

Is there transparent sincerity in what you say, and unsullied integrity in all your actions?

Is there the spirit of self-sacrifice — trampling SELF under foot, and spending time and money for the welfare of others?

Is there a deep hatred of sin as sin, and a desire to do the will of God under all circumstances?

Is there a fixed determination rather to die, than willfully to break a single command, or cast a shadow of dishonor on the name of Him who so loved you?

Do you "long to be like Jesus," and every moment to live devotedly and wholly in His service?

Then for this purpose, plead with Him this prayer, "Lord Jesus, glorify Yourself in me! Help me to show forth by my daily life, that I have been with You. May Your image be formed in me, and may Your life on earth be the pattern which I ever strive to follow."