Grace Gems for JUNE, 2016
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His teaching makes practical Christians!
"But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name — He will teach you all things!" John 14:26
The Holy Spirit is the Teacher of the church. To Him the promise refers, "All Your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children."
He taught the apostles all things necessary for their office and work.
He teaches the true ministers of Christ, leading them into the truth as it is in Jesus.
And He teaches every believer — all that is really necessary for him to know!
The Bible is the lesson-book,
the believer is the scholar,
the blessed Spirit is the teacher, and
experimental religion is the education!
No one teaches like Him!
He teaches us . . .
For only what the Spirit teaches us — do we really know!
He teaches us . . .
what God requires in His Word,
what He has provided in His gospel;
what Christ is to His people,
what His people are to Him.
His teaching makes practical Christians — for He always teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world!
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If there were an ant at the door of your granary!
"Do not be afraid — for I Myself will help you — declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 41:14
Today, let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: "I Myself will help you! It is but a small thing for Me, your God, to help you. Consider what I have done already. What! not help you? Why, I bought you with My blood. What! not help you? Why, I have died for you! And if I have done the greater — will I not do the lesser? Help you? Before the world began — I chose you. I laid aside My glory and became a man for you. I gave up My life for you! And if I did all this — I will surely help you now. If you had need of a thousand times as much help — I would give it to you. You require little, compared with what I am ready to give. It is much for you to need — but it is nothing for Me to bestow.
What! not help you? Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of your granary, asking for help — it would not ruin you to give him a handful of your wheat! Just so, you are nothing but a tiny insect at the door of My all-sufficiency!"
"I Myself will help you!" O my soul, is not this enough? Bring your empty pitcher here! Surely this well will fill it. Hasten! gather up your needs, and bring them here — your emptiness, your woes, your troubles. Behold, this river of God is full for your supply. What more can you desire? The Eternal God is your helper!
"The Lord is with me — He is my helper!" Psalm 118:7
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The evangelistic methods of our present golden-calf Christianity!
Any objection to the evangelistic methods of our present golden-calf Christianity, is met with the triumphant reply, "But we are winning the lost!"
And what are you winning them to?
To true discipleship?
To separation from the world?
To crucifixion of the flesh?
To holy living?
To nobility of character?
To a despising of the world's treasures?
To total committal to Christ?
Of course, the answer to all these questions is NO!
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Mark him down as a proud man!
(Ashton Oxenden, "The Touchstone of Humility" 1884)
One way in which a really humble Christian shows himself, is by having a high opinion of others. Paul says, "In lowliness of mind — let each esteem other better than himself." "Honor one another above yourselves."
Whenever you see a person who appears to take every opportunity of putting down others — mark him down as a proud man — and be sure that he does it in order to exalt himself!
On the other hand, whenever you see any one anxious to hide his brother's failings, unwilling to expose his little defects — you will generally find that he is a humble man, and one who deeply feels the many faults of his own character.
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It is only the humble who can feel the value of a Savior!
(Ashton Oxenden, "The Touchstone of Humility" 1884)
A humble Christian will feel that he owes everything to God's grace and love. This was Paul's feeling:
'By the grace of God, I am what I am.'
'To me, who am less than the least of all saints — is this grace given.'
No one can be said to be really humble, unless he is fully persuaded that he has no merit whatever of his own. When anyone feels himself to be vile and sinful, and is convinced that he deserves nothing but eternal damnation — then how wonderful and glorious does the love of God appear in providing salvation for him!
Now, can you feel this? Can you say, "Thank God for having taught me this. I see it clearly. I am nothing — and infinite mercy alone can save me from the Hell I so truly deserve!"
I am certain of this — that it is only the humble who can feel the value of a Savior, and who will cordially and thankfully accept His offers of mercy. One of the first things therefore that the gospel of Christ does for us is . . .
to humble us;
to show us what we are — and what we deserve;
to strip us of all our false coverings; and
to place Christ before us as the only refuge for penitent sinners!
Well indeed it is, if your heart has been thus humbled — so that you feel inclined to lie low at the feet of Jesus, and to cling to His precious cross alone for safety.
I need not ask whether Christ is dear to you. He must be — for now that you are enabled to lay hold of Him by faith, you would not for the whole world exchange your treasure! You may be poor — but you can hardly call it poverty if you possess Christ. You may have trials and sorrows — but how light is every one of them, now that you can feel you have a dear Friend by your side, who can turn all your sorrows into joys!
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I tremble for the amount of worldliness which prevails in some professing Christian families!
(Ashton Oxenden, "Worldliness!" 1884)
I tremble for the amount of worldliness which prevails in some professing Christian families! There is a great danger, lest pleasure and excitement should be regarded as the one object to be sought after — lest Jesus should be robbed of His true allegiance, and hearts, born for higher and better things — should be drawn down to earth, and riveted there by a chain which is not easily broken!
Oh, how soon, how fatally soon — we pass, imperceptibly perhaps, from things lawful to those which are doubtful — and then a step further, to those which are positively sinful! How soon does the heart, in which there was once a spark of the love of Christ — become chilled and warped by its contact with the world! How soon does the reading of light and frivolous books take the place of that precious Word, which is truth itself! And how soon is communion with God, exchanged for fellowship with the world!
I do indeed tremble for those who are dreaming away the best portion of their lives, who are spending them in vanity and emptiness — and will one day wake up with the miserable feeling that they have lived to no real purpose!
Did our Lord live thus, when here on earth? Did the early Christians live thus? Then we cannot live thus. No, unless we are willing to give up the Savior, whom we have pledged ourselves to follow, and the glorious inheritance we profess to be living for!
The question is: Are we candidates for everlasting happiness? If we are — then we must live, not for this world, but for eternity. Our hearts and our treasure must be there!
But there is a danger into which some fall. There are some people who imagine that they are giving up the world — when, in fact, they are merely transferring their attachment from one class of worldliness to fix it upon another. Parties and theaters are perhaps put aside — when other amusements of a kindred nature, and scarcely less attractive, are indulged in. This however is not self-denial — it is still enjoying the world, though in another shape — it is turning aside from one kind of self-pleasing, that we may indulge in another.
How sad to think that our best and truest Friend should ever be forcibly excluded from our hearts — and the world with all its trifles let in!
Ought we not then, as followers of Christ, to stand aside from a thoughtless, trifling world? Is not the beaten path, sometimes an unsafe path? Is not the stream that flows the smoothest, sometimes nearest to the precipice? Take care lest you are gliding down the stream of this world — lest you are walking in the broad road which hundreds walk in, and then suddenly find out that it is the way of eternal destruction!
Another reason why we should not love the world, is because its joys are at best unsatisfying. They are like alcohol to a thirsty man, which only make him thirst the more. They will never satisfy his desire, but only feed it. The worldly man, whether he is seeking after earthly pleasures, or earthly gains — is ever seeing a paradise in the distance; but the nearer he approaches it, the more sure it is to vanish, like an optical illusion, from his sight.
There is another reason why you should not love the world — and that is because it is only temporary — its joys and gains are merely for a time. There is a shifting, fleeting, fading character about them.
This world is but a tent, spread out for our present abode — Heaven is a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
This world is but a passing shadow — Heaven an enduring substance.
This world a pilgrimage — Heaven is a home.
This world is a desert — Heaven a paradise.
This world is a strange land — Heaven is the place of our citizenship.
This world abounds with storms — Heaven is a universal calm.
This world is full of changes — in Heaven our lot will be forever fixed.
This world is the abode of sin, and shame, and sorrow — Heaven is a scene of holiness, of glory, and of God.
It is not, I know, easy to take a decided and unworldly course. It will cost you much. Your conduct will be carped at, and counted as folly. Yes, the stream is strong — and you must stem it. The way is steep and narrow — we do not deny it. But then how blessed it is to be following Christ! How safe are those who are walking closely by His side!
No, we cannot serve two masters! We cannot drink the cup of the Lord — and yet quaff the sweet but poisonous cup of the world!
Oh, remember, the world may be in your heart — though not in your actions! You may love the world, and secretly pine after it — though you have outwardly renounced it. It is a great thing to be honest with ourselves — for God is not mocked. If you really desire to follow Jesus and to renounce the world, you must mortify your earthly affections — and raise them to things above. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ — set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above — not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2
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It may be turned to good account — or it may be wasted, or misspent
(Ashton Oxenden, "The Touchstone of Opportunity" 1884)
"Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16
To use our time well and wisely, is a matter of the greatest importance — for oh, how quickly is it passing away! We should seize our opportunities while they exist, and 'gather up the fragments which remain, that nothing be lost.'
The value of time — its exceeding preciousness — is beyond measure. Our days and hours hasten by, never to return. They are like water, which, when once spilt, cannot be gathered up again. They are like the rays of the sun, which at the moment may warm and invigorate us, but cannot be laid up for future use. Our lives are very short at best — and on the manner in which they are spent, will depend our condition forever.
Who can say how important is every moment which is given to us? It may be turned to good account — or it may be wasted, or misspent. No wonder then that we are charged, 'Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise' — like travelers on a dangerous road, looking around them on every side, and prepared for any difficulty which may suddenly arise. We should live cautiously and carefully, 'making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.'
What shall we say of those who let days, and months, and years pass — without thinking of anything beyond their own ease and enjoyment? Time is to them as a tale that is told, which is soon forgotten. It is like a vapor, which rises before them — but is speedily swept away, and is gone forever. One day is like another — all equally unprofitable — all gone to waste — nothing done for God or for eternity — a number of precious opportunities, but not one of them improved! We have, many of us, done but little in the way of 'redeeming the time.' We have allowed it to pass by unimproved.
Bear in mind then that we all have our opportunities — opportunities of doing good, opportunities of benefitting our fellow-creatures, opportunities of doing some work for God — and for every one of these opportunities, we must give an account.
Again, our time is very, very short — and all depends upon the right employment of it. Remember that our time is becoming shorter every day!
"So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12
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The flattery of his brethren is distasteful to him!
(Ashton Oxenden, "The Touchstone of Humility" 1884)
A humble Christian is one who not only considers himself to be nothing — but is willing to be thought so by others. There is a vast difference between knowing our own faults — and being willing that others should know them. It is very mortifying to be accounted nothing in the eyes of our fellow-men. Now, the really humble man is content to bear this. He has no wish to be more highly esteemed than he deserves — in fact, the flattery of his brethren is distasteful to him!
And yet how utterly contrary is this to our natural feelings! The Drunkard would not wish his neighbors to know that he drinks — he would conceal it if he could. The Dishonest man would wish to appear honest before others.
And why all this desire at concealment? It is because people are anxious to keep up a good image before their fellow creatures — although they may have lost it with Him who knows all. The truth is, they 'love the praise of men, more than the praise of God.'
What a dangerous snare this is! To be thought well of by our brethren, and to stand high in their opinion — is too eagerly sought after by most of us. We have need not only to fight against the fear of man — but also, and still more, against the love and esteem of man. The esteem of godly men is well, as far as it goes; but it is clearly wrong to be always craving after it. We should rather feel that anything like flattering praise would be hurtful to us — and on that account we should shrink from it, and try to put it away from us.
It is hard, I know, to bring ourselves to this. To pray that we may become low in our own eyes — needs some grace. But to pray that we may be content to be lowered in the eyes of those around us — needs a large amount of grace!
Suppose you were to be informed that one, who stood high for his religious attainments, had expressed an unfavorable opinion of you — would not this be very displeasing? But I am inclined to think that a true Christian, though he would feel a little nettled at the time — would be able to thank God for anything which keeps down his pride, and sets him in his proper place!
The day is soon coming, when we shall be taken off the false heights which we often stand upon, and be brought to our true level — when all the esteem of others shall vanish and pass away like smoke — and we shall be just what God finds us to be, neither more nor less!
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No one really desires to go to Hell!
No one really desires to go to Hell — though there are few indeed who are willing to forsake that broad road which inevitably leads there.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it!" Matthew 7:13-14
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Our doctrine is utterly meaningless!
"Adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." Titus 2:10
The study of the Bible should always be practical and applicable to our lives day by day. That is to say, we are to set forth in our lives as well as in our doctrine — the beauty, glory, and attractiveness of the gospel of Christ. We must have our lives regulated and governed by the gospel.
Let us take great care to conform our lives to our doctrine. Doctrine and duty cannot be separated. Every truth discovered in the Word of God ought to be applied to our lives. If our character and conduct does not reflect the grace and glory of God revealed in the gospel, our doctrine is utterly meaningless!
Gospel preachers are responsible to pointedly apply the gospel to the daily affairs and responsibilities of men and women in this world. It is every pastor's responsibility to faithfully to teach people how to live in this world for the glory of Christ, applying the Word of God to every area of life. It is the responsibility of God's saints to obey the gospel, applying it personally to every area of their lives.
Always be prepared to give up any doctrine or practice that is not found in holy Scripture and to embrace anything revealed in the Book of God — no matter what the sacrifice, no matter what the consequence.
"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more." 1 Thessalonians 4:1
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This stillness and silence befits us!
(Ashton Oxenden, "The Christian Life" 1882)
"I was silent; I would not open my mouth — for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9
"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
This stillness and silence befits us, when God lifts up His arm to afflict us. It is of little use at such times to struggle against His almighty power — to be restless and complaining when His heavy hand is laid upon us. Our wisdom is . . .
to bear the burden which oppresses us with patience,
to submit cheerfully to the will of God, and
to kiss the painful rod which scourges us.
We should remember that our Father does not afflict His children willingly, that is, for His own pleasure — but for their profit. He loves them; and when He punishes them, it is for their discipline, and to make them what He would have them to be — partakers of His holiness.
We should look at our afflictions in this light — and not let a murmur escape our lips! Our language should be, "It is the Lord — let Him do what seems good to Him!" 1 Samuel 3:18
It is often our duty, in the hour of trial or of difficulty, to be still, to lie passive in God's hands, "to hope, and quietly to wait for the salvation of the Lord."
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The striped candy technique!
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts 2:42
Without Biblical authority, or any other right under the sun — carnal religious leaders have introduced a host of attractions that serve no purpose except to provide entertainment for the retarded saints!
It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment — and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God's professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy, in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.
This has influenced the whole pattern of church life, and even brought into being a new type of church architecture, designed to house the golden calf. So we have the strange anomaly of orthodoxy in creed — and heterodoxy in practice. The striped candy technique has been so fully integrated into our present religious thinking, that it is simply taken for granted. Its victims never dream that it is not a part of the teachings of Christ and His apostles!
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Sawing off its corners, or by polishing, varnishing, and adorning it
(J.C. Ryle, "Knots Untied" 1896)
Ministers do great spiritual harm by departing in the slightest degree from the Scriptural proportions of the gospel, or by trying to win the world by dressing the simple old Evangelical faith in new clothes.
The world is never won by trimming, and compromising, by facing both ways, and trying to please all.
The cross of Christ is never made more acceptable by sawing off its corners, or by polishing, varnishing, and adorning it.
Let us hold on our way, and be jealously sensitive of any departure from the simplicity of the gospel. Popularity obtained by pandering to the senses or the sentiment of our hearers — is not worth anything. Worshipers who are not content with the Bible, the cross of Christ, simple prayers and simple praise — are worshipers of little value. It is useless to try to please them — because their spiritual taste is diseased.
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If only one of God's sheep were to perish!
"My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:27-28
If only one of God's sheep were to perish . . .
the purpose of God would be frustrated,
the power of God would be resisted,
the promise of God would be broken,
the faithfulness of God would be a mockery
and the Word of God proved to be a lie.
"I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:38-39
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The most dangerous of all!
Of all the temptations to which God's children are exposed, growing rich is perhaps the most dangerous of all because it is a snare that they do not dread.
"For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs!" 1 Timothy 6:7-10
"Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." Proverbs 30:8
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Fault-finding is the easiest of all tasks!
(J.C. Ryle, "The Church!" 1896)
Let me warn men not to be shaken by those who say that all visible Churches are necessarily corrupt. There never have been lacking men of this kind, men who have forgotten that everything must be imperfect which is carried on by human agency, and have spent their lives in a vain search after a perfectly pure Church.
Fault-finding is the easiest of all tasks. There never was a system upon earth, in which man had anything to do, in which faults, and many faults too, might not soon be found. We must expect to find imperfections in every visible Church upon earth. There always were such in the New Testament Churches. There always will be such now. There is only one Church without spot or blemish — that is the one true Church, the body of Christ, which Christ shall present to His Father in the last great day.
Where is the visible Church upon earth, which is perfect, without spot, and without blemish? None, I say confidently — none is to be found at all. Many people of scrupulous consciences, I firmly believe, have found this to their cost already. They left the Church because of alleged imperfections.
If we belong to the true Church, let us see that we love all its members. Let our principle be, "Grace be with all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." (Ephesians 6:24) Wherever we find a man who has grace and faith — let us hold out our right hand to him. Let us not stop to ask him where he was baptized, and what place of worship he attends. Does he love Jesus? Is be born again? Then let us say to ourselves, "This is a brother. We are to be with him in Heaven by-and-by forever. Let us love him upon earth. If we are to be in the same home — let us love each other even now upon the road."
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The great god Entertainment!
(A.W. Tozer, 1955)
The great god Entertainment is ardently worshiped by many. There are millions who cannot live without amusement — life without some form of entertainment for them is simply intolerable. They look forward to the blessed relief afforded by professional entertainers and other forms of psychological narcotics — as a dope addict looks to his daily fix of heroin. Without them, they could not summon courage to face existence.
No one with common human feeling will object to the simple pleasures of life, nor to such harmless forms of entertainment as may help to relax the nerves and refresh the mind exhausted by toil. Such things, if used with discretion, may be a blessing along the way. That is one thing. But the all-out devotion to entertainment as a major activity for which men live, is definitely something else. The abuse of a harmless thing is sin.
The growth of the amusement phase of human life to such fantastic proportions is a portent, a threat to the souls of modern men. It has been built into a multimillion dollar racket with greater power over human minds and human character, than any other educational influence on earth. And the ominous thing is, that its power is almost exclusively evil, rotting the inner life, and crowding out the eternal thoughts which should fill the souls of men. The whole thing has grown into a veritable religion which holds its devotees with a strange fascination — and a religion, incidentally, against which it is now dangerous to speak.
For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was — a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from accountability to God. For this, she got herself roundly abused by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse, and has given up the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment — she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers.
So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called Christians. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate "producers" peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders, who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it!
The great god Entertainment amuses his devotees mainly by telling them stories. The love of stories, which is a characteristic of childhood, has taken fast hold of the minds of the retarded saints of our day — so much so that many manage to make a comfortable living by spinning yarns and serving them up in various disguises to church people. What is natural and beautiful in a child, may be shocking when it persists into adulthood, and more so when it appears in the sanctuary and seeks to pass for true religion!
Is it not astonishing that, with the shadow of atomic destruction hanging over the world and with the coming of Christ drawing near — the professed followers of the Lord should be giving themselves up to religious amusements? That in an hour when mature saints are so desperately needed — vast numbers of believers should revert to spiritual childhood, and clamor for religious toys?
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Once let a man get a sight of his own heart!
(J.C. Ryle, "Knots Untied" 1896)
Shall I say what seems to me to be the clearest proof that man is a fallen and corrupt creature?
It is not open vice, or unblushing profligacy.
It is not the crowded ale-house, or the murderer's cell in a jail.
It is not avowed infidelity, or gross and despicable idolatry.
All these are proofs, and convincing proofs indeed, that man is fallen. But there is to my mind a stronger proof still — that proof is the wide-spread "spirit of slumber" about their souls, in which most men lie chained and bound. When I see that multitudes of sensible men, and intelligent men, and decent-living men — can travel quietly towards the grave, and feel no concern about their sins, I need no more convincing evidence that man is "born in sin," and that his heart is alienated from God. There is no avoiding the conclusion.
Man is naturally asleep — and must be awakened.
He is blind — and must be made to see.
He is dead — and must be made alive.
No heart is in so bad a state, as the heart that does not feel sin!
Light was the first thing called into being. When God created the world, He said, "Let there be light." (Genesis 1:3) In the same way, light is the first thing that the Holy Spirit creates in a man's heart, when He awakens, converts, and makes him a true Christian. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
For lack of seeing sin — men do not value salvation. Once let a man get a sight of his own heart, and he will begin to cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
To know our spiritual disease — is one step towards a cure. To feel bad and wicked and Hell-deserving — is the first beginning of being really holy.
What though we are humbled to the dust, and cry, "Lord, I am vile! Lord, I am the very chief of sinners!" It is better a thousand times to have these feelings and be miserable under them — than to have no feelings at all. Anything is better than a dead conscience, and a cold heart, and a prayer-less tongue!
Ignorance of self and sin are the root of all mischief to the soul!
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(F.B. Meyer, "The Blessed Life")
Dear Christian reader, seek some quiet spot, some still hour, and yield yourself to God.
Make a definite consecration of yourselves to God. With most it would be sufficient to write out Miss Havergal's hymn, "Take my life, and let it be," and to sign your name at the bottom.
Take my life and let it be — consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days — let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move — at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be — swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing — always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be — filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold — not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use — every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine — it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is Thine own — it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love my Lord, I pour — at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be — ever, only, all for Thee!
Sign here ____________________
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Care of our feet!
"He will keep the feet of His saints!" 1 Samuel 2:9
The way is slippery, and our feet are feeble — but the Lord will keep our feet. If we give ourselves up by obedient faith to be His holy ones — He will Himself be our guardian. Not only will He charge His angels to keep us — but He Himself will preserve our goings!
He will keep our feet from falling, so that we do not . . .
defile our garments,
wound our souls, and
cause the enemy to blaspheme.
He will keep our feet from wandering — so that we do not go into paths of error, or ways of folly, or courses of the world's custom.
He will keep our feet from swelling and blistering because of the roughness and length of the way.
He will keep our feet from being wounded. Our shoes shall be iron and brass, so that even though we tread on the edge of the sword, or on deadly serpents, we shall not bleed, or be poisoned.
He will also pluck our feet out of the net. We shall not be entangled by the deceit of our malicious and crafty foes.
With such a promise as this, let us run without weariness, and walk without fear. He who keeps our feet, will do it effectually!
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That irresponsible, amusement-mad paganized pseudo-religion!
In many churches, Christianity has been watered down until the solution is so weak . . .
that if it were poison — it would not hurt anyone;
and if it were medicine — it would not cure anyone!
We must have a new reformation! There must come a violent break with that irresponsible, amusement-mad paganized pseudo-religion which passes today for the faith of Christ and which is being spread all over the world by unspiritual men employing unscriptural methods to achieve their unspiritual ends!
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"Oh, how I love Your Law! I meditate on it all day long!" Psalm 119:97
The Bible is . . .
an armory of heavenly weapons,
a pharmacy of infallible medicines,
a mine of exhaustless wealth,
a guidebook for every road,
a chart for every sea,
a medicine for every malady, and
a balm for every wound!
Rob us of our Bible, and our sky has lost its sun!
"This is my comfort in my affliction — that Your Word has revived me!" Psalm 119:50
"Your Words were found, and I ate them — and Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart!" Jeremiah 15:16
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The first lesson in the school of tribulation!
(Walter Purton, "Lessons of Peace in the School of Affliction" 1868)
"Affliction does not come forth from the dust — neither does trouble spring out of the ground." Job 5:6
Why has this trial come? How ought I to regard affliction? These questions are natural in seasons of suffering. Pain and sorrow make us ask in earnest, the why and the wherefore of what befalls us. And so the soul finds a time of trial, to be a time of education.
The first lesson in the school of tribulation, is that affliction is the visitation of God. "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21
Nothing in any man's life comes to him by "chance." All things, both small and great, are under the control of God. He foresees, and limits, and disposes. What is sometimes called "good fortune" — comes not by accident; neither does trouble spring out of the ground.
Am I healthy and prosperous? It is the will of God.
Am I suffering in body or in mind? It is the Lord — let Him do what seems good unto Him. This is the only answer that can be given to the weak and sorely tempted ones, whom one trial after another afflict with increasing sorrows, "So it pleases God! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right!"
To the believer, Providence is not merely general and universal, but particular and personal. "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:30. The believer looks to his own particular afflictions, as the dispensations of Divine Providence. To myself, affliction comes as the special visitation of God; and, looking above second causes, the word of trust from my soul should go forth, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."
Affliction must not therefore be received as a burden, laid on by a blind and cruel fate — it is given by my wise and loving Father! Nor must I regard it as a "misfortune" — as an unmixed evil, which comes by chance, and is to be received with unconcern. Affliction does not come forth from the dust — it is from God. It is sent in mercy and wisdom — yes, and in power. "For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole." Job 5:18. His visitation is rich in lessons of comfort, of strength and of peace — for all things work together for good to His obedient children. Yes, ALL things!
"O Lord my God, bless this trial which You have sent. Teach me to feel that Your hand is laid upon me. Help me to know that You are speaking unto my soul. May I look on affliction as Your Fatherly visitation — a token of Your love, and wisdom, and power.
"Almighty Father, You have told me that all things are under Your control — not a sparrow falls to the ground unnoticed. Lord, teach me to believe in Your love for me. Oh, help me to feel Your wise guidance and control! Aid me to see that this affliction is sent for my good. O my God, increase my faith. Remove from me doubts and carnal-mindedness. May Your Spirit cleanse and sanctify my soul. Teach me to humbly submit to Your will. By patience and faith may I please You, submitting to sufferings because You send them for my good.
"Teach me that pain and sorrow are Your heavenly messengers. Enlighten my eyes, that so I may say of affliction — it is Your doing. To me, have You sent this. Not by chance, but in wisdom, and with loving purpose it has come. Oh, Lord, do with me what seems good to You. Help me to feel that my lot is wisely ordained. If it is in accordance with Your holy and blessed will — then remove this trial. But if You see fit still to afflict me — then teach me truly to pray, "May Your will be done!" Hear me, O God, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen."
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In that time before all time!
(Charles Spurgeon, 1864)
Meditate, dear friends, upon the whole range of God's works in Creation and Providence. There was a period when God dwelt alone — and creatures were not. In that time before all time, when there was no day but "The Ancient of Days," when matter and created mind were alike unborn, and even space was not — God, the great I AM, was as perfect, glorious, and as blessed as He is now.
There was no sun — and yet Jehovah dwelt in ineffable light.
There was no earth — and yet His throne stood fast and firm.
There were no heavens — and yet His glory was unbounded.
God inhabited eternity in the infinite majesty and happiness of His self-contained greatness. If the Lord, thus abiding in solemn solitude, should choose to create anything — the first thought and idea must come from Him, for there was no other to think or suggest. All things must be of Him in design. With whom can He take counsel? Who shall instruct Him? There existed no other to come into His council-chamber, even if such an assistance could be supposable with the Most High.
In the beginning of His way, before His works of old, eternal wisdom brought forth from its own mind the perfect plan of future creations, and every line and mark therein must clearly have been of the Lord alone.
He ordained the pathway of every planet — and fixed the abode of every star. He poured forth the sweet influences of the Pleiades, and girt Orion with its bands. He appointed the bounds of the sea, and settled the course of the winds. As to the earth, the Lord alone planned its foundations, and stretched His line upon it.
He formed in His own mind, the mold of all His creatures, and found for them a dwelling and a service. He appointed the degree of strength with which He would endow each creature, settled its months of life, its hour of death, its coming and its going.
Divine wisdom mapped this earth — its flowing rivers and foaming seas, the towering mountains, and the laughing valleys. The divine Architect fixed the gates of the morning — and the doors of the shadow of death.
Nothing could have been suggested by any other, for there was no other to suggest. It was in His power to have made a universe very different from this — if He had so pleased. That He has made it what it is, must have been merely because in His wisdom and prudence, He saw fit to do so.
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power — for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being!" Revelation 4:11
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(William Purton, "Lessons of Peace in the School of Affliction" 1868)
"They will be Mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up My jewels!" Malachi 3:17
The promise of God is that His saints shall be as the jewels of a crown — yes, they shall shine in the Royal diadem! The Lord delights to call them His jewels!
What a price has been paid for the saints — the Son of God purchased them with His own blood! Are they not valuable in His sight? How precious are those whom Jehovah calls His jewels! Bought with such an inestimable price!
But the saints are likened unto jewels, also because our souls need cutting and purifying. A diamond seems to be a mere pebble — until the jeweler's hands give it shape and smoothness. Skill and patient toil so transform it, that everyone takes pleasure it its beauty and brightness.
Likewise is it with our souls. Divine grace removes defects, and beautifies. The sharp edge of affliction, directed by the hand of Infinite Love — makes perfect. No longer rough and unsightly, but beautiful and glorious — the precious workmanship of God becomes His delight. It is made fit for the Royal diadem, in which it will shine throughout eternity — reflecting all-gloriously the majesty of the King of Kings!
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When He has tried me — I shall come forth as gold!
(William Purton, "Lessons of Peace in the School of Affliction" 1868)
"Look, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have purified you in the furnace of affliction!" Isaiah 48:10
To purify gold or silver, the refiner puts it into a furnace. Great heat separates the dross from the precious metal. Out of the fire, comes forth the precious substance clean and pure.
So likewise with the child of God. The character may be true gold — yet not pure gold. And so the Lord's mercy says, "I will turn my hand upon you, and purely purge away your dross. I will purify you in the furnace of affliction!" Yes, even as in great heat gold is tried — so in the sharpness of pain and sorrow, does God test and purify His redeemed children.
Let me, then, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is afflicting me. This testing of my faith is the gracious dealing of the Refiner, who seeks to cleanse me. In the furnace of affliction, God's mercy wills to purify me. May I strive to say, as righteous Job said: "When He has tried me — I shall come forth as gold!"
The pain of passing through the fire is keen. The fiery test is not easily endured. Such is our nature, that we all shrink from the furnace of affliction. Indeed, it is very hard to bear the of pain of bodily weakness.
But the Refiner's love chooses the trial!
His wisdom limits it!
His power strengthens us to bear it!
O Lord God, sanctify this trial according to Your wisdom. From pride and self-will; from earthliness of temper; from carnal lusts and sensual imaginations — purify my soul. Make me humble, trustful, gentle, heavenly-minded. In suffering, may I know that You are blessing me. Free my soul from earthly baseness, and beautify it with holiness. Make me, O Lord, like unto pure gold — a vessel fit for Your use and bright with Your glory!
Almighty God, You sent this affliction — You measured it. O bless it, for Christ's sake. Amen.
The half-converted cowboy!
There is grief in my spirit when I go into the average church, for we have become a generation rapidly losing all sense of divine sacredness and reverence in our worship. God has been abridged, reduced, modified, edited, changed and amended — until He is no longer the God whom Isaiah saw, high and lifted up!
We've reduced the God of Abraham and Jacob, to a "stuffed God" that can be appealed to by anybody at any time. The religious clown on the radio can break into his fun and say, "Now we will have a minute of prayer." In the religious concert, the half-converted cowboy dressed like an idiot will say after he's twanged out some catchy numbers, "Now I'll do a holy number for you."
The God of today's Christianity is a weakling — a little cheap, palsy God that you can pal around with. He's "the man upstairs." He's the fellow that can help you when you're in difficulty — and not bother you too much when you're not.
It is a major tragedy in the life of any man, to live in a church from childhood to old age with nothing more than some synthetic God compounded of sentimentality and logic — but having no eyes to see, no ears to hear and no heart to love the holy God of Scripture!
In the majority of our church meetings, there is scarcely a trace of reverent thought, little sense of the divine Presence, no moment of stillness, no solemnity, no wonder, no holy fear. But so often there is a dull or a breezy song leader full of awkward jokes, in an effort to make everything hold together.
The most pressing need just now is that we who call ourselves Christians should frankly acknowledge to each other and to God that we are gone far astray. We should confess . . .
that we are worldly,
that our moral standards are low,
and that we are spiritually cold and lethargic.
We need to cease our multitude of unscriptural activities, and cease trying to sanctify carnal and worldly projects by promoting them "in the name of the Lord" and "for the glory of God."
We need to return to the message, methods and objectives of the New Testament!
We need boldly and indignantly to cleanse the temple of all who sell cattle in the holy place, and overthrow the tables of the money-changers! This must be done in our own lives first — and then in the churches of whom we are a part!
We need men and women who love the Savior, until adoration becomes the music of their soul — until they don't have to be fooled with entertainment and amusement!
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He cannot err — and He cannot be unkind!
(William Purton, "Lessons of Peace in the School of Affliction" 1868)
"Tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope." Romans 5:4
When great sorrows came upon righteous Job, he did not complain. There was no word of rebellion against God, when messenger after messenger brought tidings of evil. All his property lost, his servants slain, his sons dead! Yet the good man did not sin, nor charge God foolishly. Dark and mysterious was the painful visitation. Why sore distress came to his house, and grievous sickness to himself — he could not understand. But, out of the depths arose the word of trust; in the midst of his woe, and pain, and loneliness — the bereaved and sorely-stricken soul felt that affliction was the Divine messenger. Job received his burdens from the hand of God. "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21
We, for whose comfort Job's experience was written, know how it was that the patriarch was afflicted. There was a purpose to be fulfilled — an end to be brought about. We learn that however mysterious our sufferings may be — they are not sent without a wise and loving purpose. Afflictions may be mysterious — but never purposeless.
Oh, for faith to realize that all my troubles come to me in mercy! He cannot err — and He cannot be unkind!
And as I read the Holy Scriptures, may I see how true this verse is, "All whom the Lord loves, He chastens." So may I learn to take up my cross — and to endure the trials of my lot. And if I am to be an example of suffering affliction — then may God's will be done — in His way — and in His time!
From restlessness, and impatience, and doubts, and selfishness — good Lord, deliver me!
"Loving Father, show me the mercy of afflictions. Cleanse me from earthly and sensual desires — and strengthen me with trust and heavenly rest. Graciously accept my prayers, O heavenly Father, and help me with true thankfulness to praise You. For Your dear Son Jesus Christ's sake. Amen."
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Evangelicalism has been smothered to death by extra-Scriptural rubbish!
[Editor's note: "extra-Scriptural" simply means "outside of Scripture"]
(A.W. Tozer, 1897-1963)
Those Christians who belong to the Evangelical wing of the Church have over the last half-century shown an increasing impatience with invisible and eternal things — and have demanded and gotten a host of visible and temporal things to satisfy their fleshly appetites.
The temptation to introduce "new" things into the work of God, has always been too strong for some people to resist. The Church has suffered untold injury at the hands of well-intentioned but misguided persons, who have felt that they know more about running God's work, than Christ and His apostles did! A solid train of boxcars would not suffice to haul away the religious gimmicks which has been brought into the service of the Church with the hope of improving on the original pattern. These things have been, one and all, great hindrances to the progress of the Truth, and have so altered the divinely planned structure that the apostles, were they to return to earth today, would scarcely recognize the misshapen thing which has resulted!
Every generation is sure to have its ambitious amateur to come up with some shiny gadget which he proceeds to urge upon the church. That the Scriptures do not justify its existence — does not seem to bother him at all. It is brought in anyway and presented in the very name of orthodoxy. Soon it is identified in the minds of the Christian public, with all that is good and holy. Then, of course, to attack the gadget is to attack the Truth itself. This is an old familiar technique so often and so long practiced by the devotees of error, that I marvel how the children of God can be taken in by it!
We of the evangelical faith are in the rather awkward position of criticizing Roman Catholicism for its weight of unscriptural impediments — and at the same time tolerating in our own churches a world of religious fribble as bad as holy water or the adored host. Heresy of method may be as deadly as heresy of message! Evangelicalism has been smothered to death by extra-Scriptural rubbish! Unless we in gospel churches wake up soon, we shall most surely die by the same means!
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Behold the creeping worm!
(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)
Behold the creeping worm — it is bred in corruption — it crawls on the ground — its food is the coarsest fare.
But in time, it undergoes its wonderful metamorphosis. The wriggling caterpillar — becomes a winged and painted butterfly! And at this change, along with its old skin — it casts off its old habits and instincts. Now, it has a will as well as wings to fly. Now . . .
its bed is the bosom of a flower,
its food is the honeyed nectar,
its home is the sunny air, and
new instincts animate its frame.
The change within, corresponds to the change without. It now spurns the ground — and, as you may gather from its merry, mazy dance — the creature is happy, and delights in the new duties which it is called to perform.
Just so it is in that change which grace works in sinners!
Their nature is now so accommodated to their redeemed state,
their wishes are so fitted to their wants,
their hopes are so fitted to their prospects,
their aspirations are so fitted to their honors,
and their will is so fitted to their work —
that they would be less content to return to their old polluted pleasures — than the beautiful butterfly would desire to be stripped of its silken wings, and condemned to pass its days amid the old, foul garbage, its former food!