Grace Gems for OCTOBER, 2016
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He will wipe every tear from their eyes!
("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes — and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever!" Revelation 21:4
This is but a glimpse of the glorious state upon which all the people of God will hereafter enter! There will not only be the absence of all evil — there will be the eternal enjoyment of all good. There will be perpetual vigor, perfect purity, happy service, joyous praise, eternal friendship, holy communion, and unmingled and everlasting bliss!
Suffering Christian, a few more pangs — and your last moment of anguish will be past!
Bereaved one, in Heaven you will never wear the garments of sadness — you will never lose a friend!
Sorrowing one, you will soon heave your last sigh, and have all tears wiped from your eyes!
Weary one, your journey is almost ended. Soon you will cross the threshold of your Father's house, find yourself at home, and enter upon the enjoyment of your everlasting rest!
"A few more storms shall beat
On this wild rocky shore,
Then we shall be where tempests cease,
And surges swell no more.
"A few more struggles here,
A few more partings o'er,
A few more toils, a few more tears,
And we shall weep no more!"
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All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth
("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)
"All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, unto those who keep His covenant and His testimonies." Psalm 25:10
The Lord's faithful ones keep His covenant — for He is their keeper. They keep His testimonies — for He puts His laws into their minds and writes them upon their hearts.
By "the paths of the Lord" — we may understand the different ways He takes in His dealings with His people. Observe that "all" of them are declared to be mercy and truth towards them.
While, commonly, the Lord comes to His people in the way of refreshment and comfort — He sometimes approaches them in clouds and darkness, and in storms of trial. By whatever way He comes — it is in faithfulness and love.
But His people do not always see this, and at times their faith may be sharply tried to believe it — but it is nevertheless true.
Though the Lord's dispensations change — He does not change.
He is good when He gives — and He is equally good when He denies.
He is faithful when He comforts — and He is just as faithful when He corrects.
He is Love when He cheers — and He is Love when He chides.
Believer, seek grace to trust in the Lord at all times, and to bless Him for crosses as well as for comforts.
"When you can't trace His hand — trust His heart!"
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Certainly I will be with you!
("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)
"Certainly I will be with you!" Exodus 3:12
Then, Lord, I will go forward. I would not venture a step — if You did not accompany me; but if You are with me, then all is well.
With You I will go forth to my daily business in the world — for You will keep me amidst its temptations and snares.
With You I will labor in Your vineyard — for You will make Your strength perfect in my weakness.
With You I will walk the thorny path of trial — for You will furnish me with shoes of iron and brass.
With You I will enter the field of conflict — for You will teach my hands to war, and will cover my head in the day of battle.
With You I will enter the chamber of pain and weakness — for You will make all my bed in my sickness.
With You I will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and will fear no evil — for Your rod and Your staff will comfort me.
With You I will enter the waters of Jordan — for You will bear me through, and land me on the shore of the heavenly Canaan.
"Surely I am with you always — even to the end of the age!" Matthew 28:20
"I will never leave you or forsake you!" Hebrews 13:5
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Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening!
("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)
"Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening!" 1 Samuel 3:9
Lord, I may not expect to hear You speak to me with an audible voice, as You spoke to Samuel; but by Your Word and by Your Spirit — You still speak to the hearts of Your people.
O Lord, but speak thus unto me. Speak to my mind, my conscience, and my heart . . .
words of instruction,
words of warning,
words of reproof,
words of counsel,
words of comfort —
according as You, in Your infinite wisdom, see fit.
Speak to me as my Savior — tell me of Your redeeming mercy.
Speak to me as my Friend — draw near and commune with my heart.
Speak to me as my Father — and tell me of Your care and constant love.
When burdened with sin, say unto me, "I, even I, am He who blots out your sins as a cloud, and your transgressions as a thick cloud!"
When struggling with inward corruption, say unto my soul, "I am your salvation!"
When distressed in the hour of trial, say unto me, "Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you — I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
In every time of need, say to my heart, "My grace is sufficient for you."
"Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening!"
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God gives His people a taste of Heaven!
God gives His people a taste of Heaven — that they may not faint.
And He gives them but a taste . . .
that they may be encouraged in their difficult journey,
that they may long to be at Home,
that they may keep humble,
that they may sit loose from things below,
that Heaven may be more sweet to them at last!
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard, and
no mind has imagined —
what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9
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This is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes
(William Dyer, "Follow the Lamb")
"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes!" Revelation 14:4
A believer follows the Lamb TRULY, without hypocrisy. Many follow the Lamb, as beggars follow a rich man — only for his money. They prize the wages of religion — above the works of religion! "I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me . . . because you ate the loaves and had your fill!" John 6:26. Oh, beloved, God abhors a hypocrite more than a Sodomite! Hell is provided on purpose for hypocrites, "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites — where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Matthew 24:51
My beloved, following the Lamb fully, is to have the heart fixed and resolved for God. "My soul clings to You," says David in Psalm 63:8. "As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God. I thirst for God — for the living God!" Psalm 42:1-2
A believer follows the Lamb CONSTANTLY, without apostasy. A true believer never stops following the Lamb.
He does not follow the Lamb wherever He goes — who follows the Lamb earnestly for a while — but afterwards forsakes Him, when the storm arises! "Since he has no root — he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word — he quickly falls away!" Matthew 13:21
He does not follow the Lamb wherever He goes, who follows the Lamb in some things — and the beast in other things! "They worshiped the Lord — but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought." 2 Kings 17:33
He does not follow the Lamb wherever He goes — who follows the Lord in a dull heavy manner, and lukewarm temper. "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold — I am going to vomit you out of My mouth!" Revelation 3:15-16
Oh! this is not following the Lamb!
Those who follow the Lamb — abide in the Lamb, and cleave to the Lamb, and continue constantly in the Lamb's ways, unto the end of their days. "The righteous person will hold to his way!" Job 17:9. The righteous man follows the Lamb wherever He goes.
This is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes:
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Christianity to the average evangelical church member!
Christianity to the average evangelical church member is simply an avenue to a good and pleasant time, with a little biblical devotional material thrown in for good measure!
I hope I do not live to see the day when God has to turn from men and women who have heard His holy truth and have played with it, fooled with it and equated it with fun and entertainment and religious nonsense!
The church has become a religious theater where amateur entertainers are paid to amuse those who attend.
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!
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(Thomas Watson, "The Godly Man's Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil)
"Your boasting is not good!" 1 Corinthians 5:6
Pride is the greatest sacrilege — it robs God of His glory.
What a horrid sin is pride! Chrysostom calls it "the mother of Hell." Pride encompasses all vice.
Pride is a spiritual drunkenness — it flies up like wine into the brain and intoxicates it.
Pride is idolatry — a proud man is a self-worshiper. How odious is this sin to God!
"Everyone who is proud in heart, is an abomination to the Lord!" (Proverbs 16:5)
"I hate pride and arrogance!" (Proverbs 8:13)
Those who look at themselves in the magnifying mirror of self-love — appear better in their own eyes than they are. There is no idol like self — the proud man bows down to this idol.
Many are proud of their riches. Their hearts swell with their estates. Pride is the rich man's cousin. "Your heart has become proud because of your wealth." (Ezekiel 28:5)
Many are proud of their apparel. They dress in such fashions, as to make the devil fall in love with them! Painted faces, gaudy attire, naked breasts — what are these, but the banners which sinful pride displays?
Many are proud of their beauty. The body is but dust and blood kneaded together. Solomon says, "Beauty is vain." (Proverbs 31:30) Yet some are so vain — as to be proud of vanity! Shall dust exalt itself?
Many are proud of their gifts and abilities. These trappings and ornaments do not approve them in God's eyes. An angel is a creature of great abilities; but take away humility from an angel — and he is a devil! God loves a humble soul. It is not our high birth — but our humble hearts, which God delights in.
Oh, let us search if there is any of this leaven of pride in us!
Man is naturally a proud piece of flesh. This sin of pride runs in the blood. There are the seeds of this sin of pride in the best of Christians — but the godly do not allow themselves in it. They strive to kill this weed, by mortification.
But certainly where this sin of pride reigns and prevails — it cannot stand with grace. You may as well call him who lacks wisdom, a prudent man; as him who lacks humility, a godly man. "Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5) Put humility on, as an embroidered robe. It is better to lack anything, rather than humility.
The more value any man has, the more humble he is. Feathers fly up — but gold descends! The golden saint descends in humility.
Look at a humble Savior — and let your plumes of pride fall off!
A humble heart is God's palace! "For this is what the high and lofty One says; He who lives forever, whose name is holy — I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit." (Isaiah 57:15) A humble heart glories in this — that it is the presence chamber of the great and glorious King!
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Is it well with you?
("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)
"Is it well with you?" 2 Kings 4:26
This question is asked, not by intrusive inquisitiveness, but by friendly interest and kindness. Surely then the candid reader will give it that attention which its importance demands.
It is well with all who are in Christ — whatever their outward circumstances may be.
But it is ill with all who are out of Christ . . .
however moral their character,
however amiable their disposition, or
however prosperous their earthly estate.
In Christ — there is safety, life, and peace!
Out of Him — there is darkness, danger, and death!
Are you then in Christ? Have you entered Him as the Ark for your soul? Are you vitally united to the True Vine? If so, it is well with you — and you will surely bear some good fruit to the glory of Him who has loved us and given Himself for us.
Believer in Jesus — is it well with you?
Is your soul in health?
Have you an appetite for spiritual food?
Is Jesus growing increasingly precious?
Do you find it good to draw near to God?
Do you enjoy fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ?
Afflicted Christian — is it well with you?
Can you see your Father's hand in your trials?
Can you trust His heart — when you cannot trace His hand?
Can you say, "It is the Lord — let Him do what seems good to Him!"
"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
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How many vile weeds grow there!
(Thomas Guthrie, 1803-1873)
"Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21
We should certainly attempt always . . .
to follow Jesus,
to walk as He walked,
to speak as He spoke,
to think as He thought, and
to mold our whole conduct and life on the pattern that He has left us.
Yet our best attempts will leave us more and more convinced that our only hope for redemption, salvation, and forgiveness, lies in the mercy of the Father, and the merits of the Son.
Even after we have been made new creatures in Jesus Christ, the most that we can do — even with the aid of the Holy Spirit — is to creep along the path which the Savior walked, and leave the mark of our knees, where He left the prints of His feet.
Christian, your corruptions have suffered a mortal wound — but they are not dead.
Your affections rise upward to Heaven — yet how much are they held back by the things of earth.
Though your heart turns to Christ, like the compass needle to the pole — how easily is it disturbed, how tremblingly it points to Him.
Your spirit has wings — yet how short are its flights, and how often, like a half-fledged eaglet, has it to return to its nest on the Rock of Ages.
Your soul is a garden where Christ delights to walk when the north and south winds blow, to inhale its spices — yet with many lovely flowers, how many vile weeds grow there!
"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him." Psalm 32:1-2
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In wondrous contrast — and yet with consistent harmony!
In the floral kingdom, the flowers have many hues. A number of different colored flowers in a bouquet will enhance the beauty of each other by their contrast.
Just so, in the cross of Christ, the attributes of God are brought out in wondrous contrast — and yet with consistent harmony. There we see . . .
His name glorified,
His love manifested,
His majesty upheld,
His justice satisfied,
His truth vindicated,
His law magnified, and
His righteousness displayed in the putting away of our sins!
"He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Romans 3:26
"Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other!" Psalm 85:10
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(John Mason's Spiritual Sayings)
*The goodness of God satisfies our emptiness,
the mercy of God satisfies our sinfulness, and
the grace of God satisfies our unworthiness.
*What sin is there, which grace cannot pardon?
What heart is there, which grace cannot soften?
What soul is there, which grace cannot save?
*The more God's justice was magnified in His Son —
the more was His grace magnified in the sinner.
*God humbled His holy Son — to exalt His saving grace.
*God's faithfulness performed what His grace promised.
Grace drew the covenant — faithfulness keeps it.
Grace called us — faithfulness will not cast us off.
*Abusers of God's grace — are treasurers up of His wrath!
*There is grace in the desire for grace
— as there is sin in the desire for sin.
*Though God in grace has done great things for you — yet consider what in justice He might have done to you.
*While we carry a sense of grace in our conscience to comfort us
— let us carry a sense of sin in our memory to humble us.
*We can never thank God enough for His patience — which has kept us so long out of Hell;
nor for His grace — which so earnestly invites us to Heaven.
*All who are elect — are vessels of grace;
all who are regenerate — are patterns of grace;
all who are saved — are monuments of grace;
all the work of Heaven — is to sing the loud praises of grace.
*It melts the heart to think that God is as full of grace — as I am as full of sin!
He is as free to forgive — as I am to offend.
He has daily grace — for my daily sins.
*The heart of man is such a barren soil that no good can grow — there unless almighty grace plants it.
Grace is an immortal seed, cast into an immortal soil, which brings forth immortal fruit!
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The harlot in your bosom!
(Thomas Watson, "The Godly Man's Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil")
"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1
There is usually one sin that is the favorite — the sin which the heart is most fond of. A godly man will not indulge his darling sin: "I kept myself from my iniquity." (Psalm 18:23). "I will not indulge the sin to which the bias of my heart more naturally inclines."
"Fight neither with small nor great — but only with the king." (1 Kings 22:31). A godly man fights this king sin. If we would have peace in our souls, we must maintain a war against our favorite sin, and never leave off until it is subdued.
Question: How shall we know what our beloved sin is?
Answer 1. The sin which a man does not love to have reproved — is the darling sin. Herod could not endure having his incest spoken against. If the prophet meddles with that sin — it shall cost him his head! "Do not touch my Herodias!" Men can be content to have other sins reproved — but if the minister puts his finger on the sore, and touches this sin — their hearts begin to burn in malice against him!
Answer 2. The sin on which the thoughts run most — is the darling sin. Whichever way the thoughts go, the heart goes. He who is in love with a person cannot keep his thoughts off that person. Examine what sin runs most in your mind, what sin is first in your thoughts and greets you in the morning — that is your predominant sin.
Answer 3. The sin which has most power over us, and most easily leads us captive — is the one beloved by the soul. There are some sins which a man can better resist. If they come for entertainment, he can more easily put them off. But the bosom sin comes as a suitor, and he cannot deny it — but is overcome by it. The young man in the Gospel had repulsed many sins — but there was one sin which soiled him, and that was covetousness.
Mark what sin you are most readily led captive by — that is the harlot in your bosom! It is a sad thing that a man should be so bewitched by lust, that if it asks him to part with the Kingdom of Heaven — he must part with it, to gratify that lust!
Answer 4. The sin which men most defend — is the beloved sin. He who has a jewel in his bosom, will defend it to his death. The sin we advocate and dispute for, is the besetting sin. The sin which we plead for, and perhaps wrest Scripture to justify it — that is the sin which lies nearest the heart.
Answer 5. The sin which a man finds most difficulty in giving up — is the endeared sin. Of all his sons, Jacob found most difficulty in parting with Benjamin. So the sinner says, "This and that sin I have parted with — but must Benjamin go! Must I part with this delightful sin? That pierces my heart!" A man may allow some of his sins to be demolished — but when it comes to one sin — that is the taking of the castle; he will never agree to part with that! That is the master sin for sure.
The besetting sin is, of all others, most dangerous. As Samson's strength lay in his hair — so the strength of sin lies in this beloved sin. This is like a poison striking the heart, which brings death.
A godly man will lay the axe of repentance to this sin and hew it down! He will sacrifice this Isaac; he will pluck out this right eye — so that he may see better to go to Heaven.
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Religion, if you please, is now big business!
Religion, if you please, is now big business. A countless number of amusements flourish everywhere, paid for by the consecrated tithes of people who ought to know better.
Christianity has seen a steady rise of religious entertainment as a source of mental pleasure. God's people have turned to the amusements of the world to try to squeeze a bit of juice out of them for the relief of their dry and joyless hearts.
I want to tell you something. If I want to see a show — I know where I can see a good one put on by top flight actors who know what they are doing. If I want a show — I'll go down to a theater and see a show hot out of Hollywood by men and women who are artists in their field. I will not go to a church and see a lot of ham actors putting on a home talent show. And yet, that's where we are in evangelical circles. We've got more show in evangelical circles than anywhere else. I would not give a plug nickel for the whole business of it!
The church is not a religious theater to provide a place for amateur entertainers to display their talents.
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All that we can need for life or death, time or eternity!
(James Smith, "The Wealthy Family!")
"There is no lack to those who fear Him!" Psalm 34:9
They are not truly wealthy — who appear to be so — or who boast of being so.
The lost sinner must be poor. He has . . .
no God to comfort him;
no Savior to deliver him;
no Guide to conduct him;
no Advocate to plead for him;
no inward peace to support him;
no title to Heaven to encourage him.
He is poor. He is in need. He will need . . .
confidence and comfort in death;
a wedding garment, in which to appear before God;
and a comfortable home throughout eternity!
Every lost sinner is indeed poor. His resources will soon be exhausted, and he will find himself "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!" He may have the appearance of prosperity — but not the reality. True riches belong to another family.
The Lord's people all fear Him — that is, they fear to offend Him, and desire above all things to please Him. And though they may appear poor — they are really rich! God has provided all good things for them — and He gives all good things to them.
They have a solid peace, flowing from a knowledge of acceptance with God, through the blood of Jesus.
They have a joyful hope, which blooms with immortality.
They are assured of strength equal to their day; and of sanctifying grace to make all their troubles work for their good.
They are content with God's wise and holy appointments; and godliness with contentment is a good fortune.
They acquiesce in the will of God; and are often filled with joy which flows from His presence.
They obtain victory over the temptations which would ensnare them.
They live above the world, which would allure and beguile them.
They are sure of support in death.
They look forward to a joyful resurrection.
They rightly anticipate Heaven as their portion forever!
There is no lack to them, for all that they can truly need, is promised — and every promise is confirmed by the blood of Jesus!
Jehovah is theirs — along with all that He is, and has!
His power is their support!
His wisdom is their guide!
His fullness is their fortune!
His mercy is their friend!
His love is their Heaven.
"Happy are the people who are in such a case!" All the Lord's people are really in this case — and therefore they are all happy!
Just think of having Almighty God for your present, constant, eternal Friend!
Think of having the wealth of Deity to supply and satisfy you!
And if you sincerely fear God — then this is the reality of your case!
No truth is more clearly revealed in Scripture.
No subject is more rich with consolation!
Strength may be exhausted,
health may decline,
courage may fail,
riches may flee,
friends may forsake,
enemies may increase,
all circumstances may change for the worse —
but "those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing!"
Sweet promise of a faithful God!
Here, pilgrim, is your staff — take it and travel home!
Here, saint, is your cordial — drink and forget your misery!
Here, believer, is your fortune — take it and live upon it, while a resident here below.
Here, fearful soul, is your antidote — use it to dispel your fears and cheer your fainting heart!
"The young lions may lack food and go hungry — but there is no lack to those who fear Him!"
Here is wealth! Here is comfort!
Here is all that we can need for life or death, time or eternity!
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I sometimes imagine that I could make a perfect minister!
(Letters of John Newton)
"If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed." 1 Timothy 4:6
In the measure of their ministerial abilities, and in the peculiar turn of their preaching, there is a great variety:
some are best in alarming the careless;
others are best in administering consolation to the wounded conscience;
some are best for the establishment and confirmation of the Gospel doctrines;
others are skillful in enforcing practical godliness; and
others again, having been led through depths of temptation and spiritual distress, are best acquainted with the various workings of the heart, and know best how to speak a word in season to weary and exercised souls.
In my mind, I sometimes imagine that I could make a perfect minister. I would take . . .
the eloquence of Mr. A,
the knowledge of Mr. B,
the zeal of Mr. C, and
the pastoral meekness, tenderness, and piety of Mr. D.
Then, putting them all together into one man, I say to myself, "This would be a perfect minister!"
Now there is One, who, if He chose it, could actually do this — but He never did. He has seen fit to do otherwise.
The servants of Christ all preach the same truths; but the Holy Spirit, who furnishes them all for the work He appoints them to, distributes gifts to each one individually, according to His own will.
"There is not a greater, or more pleasant variety of qualities, smells, and colors, among the herbs and flowers with which the earth is variegated and decked for the delight and service of men — than there is in the gifts and abilities of ministers for the use and service of the church." John Flavel
"One minister can wield the sledge hammer — but could not heal a broken heart. If he were to attempt it, you would be reminded of an elephant trying to thread a needle. Such a man can reprove — but he cannot apply oil and wine to a bruised conscience. Why? Because God has not given to him the gift." Charles Spurgeon
"There are some Boanerges, sons of thunder — alarming and thundering preachers.
And others are Barnabases, sons of consolation — sweetly comforting preachers."
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What is a successful ministry?
"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." 1 Corinthians 4:2
The desperate need of the hour is faithful men in the pulpits of our churches. We have an over-abundance of preachers. We do not need any more slick, polished, well-educated professionals in "the ministry". But we do, most desperately, need some faithful men — pastors after God's own heart, who feed His people with knowledge and understanding. Thank God, we have a few!
In this day of big business religion, when churches are measured not by their orthodoxy, but by the opinions of men; when a preacher's success is measured not by his faithfulness, but by the number of names added to the church roll — it might be wise to consider what a successful ministry is according to the measure of Holy Scripture.
According to the Word of God, those preachers and churches are successful who are faithful to the work to which God has called them. Never in the Old Testament or in the New was a prophet, apostle, or preacher measured by the opinions of men. God's servants never courted the favor of men, and were never favored by the majority of the people. The church of God has always been out of step with society. The servants of God have always been looked upon as peculiar, bigoted dogmatists, intolerant and incapable of compromise. But they were faithful — faithful to God, faithful to His truth, and faithful to the souls of men.
Do not be so foolish as to measure God's work by man's yardstick. Do not measure the success or failure of preachers and churches by men, by numbers, or by popular opinion. The only measure of success for churches and preachers is faithfulness. Those who faithfully seek and promote the glory of God, who faithfully proclaim the truth of God, and who faithfully serve the eternal interests of immortal souls are successful. Those who are not are failures. The one will stand the fire of judgment. The other will not.
The greatest blessing God can ever bestow upon any people in this world is to establish in their midst a faithful Gospel church with a faithful Gospel preacher as his messenger.
"Tychicus . . . is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord." Colossians 4:7
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(John Angell James, "Happiness")
"Many are saying: Who can show us any good?" Psalm 4:6
There is certainly some pleasure in the gratification of the appetites — in the enjoyment of health, friends, property, and fame. Even sinful objects have their pleasures! There could be no power in temptation — if sin yielded no enjoyment.
But viewing man as a rational, moral, and immortal creature; as a sinner subject to the stings of a reproachful conscience, and under the displeasure of the God he has offended; as liable to all the vicissitudes of a tearful existence, and ever exposed to the fear and stroke of death — he needs something more for his happiness than can be found in the objects of this world. He has . . .
needs which they cannot supply;
cravings which they cannot satisfy;
woes which they cannot alleviate;
anxieties which they cannot dispel.
For each one who is even tolerably successful in gaining felicity from visible objects — there are many who utterly fail. Their schemes are frustrated; their hopes perish; their air castles vanish as they journey on in life — and each ends a course of worldly-mindedness, by adding another to the millions of examples which had proved this present world to be vanity.
In some cases, abundance and unobstructed enjoyment produce boredom. Tired of old pleasures, they look about for new ones, and plead the oft-repeated inquiry, "Who will show us anything good?" Novelty perhaps comes to the relief of their discontented, restless, and dissatisfied minds; but novelty itself soon grows old, and still something new is wanted. There remains an aching void within — a craving, hungry appetite for bliss — unsatisfied, unfed. They hunt for enjoyment . . .
in endless parties of pleasure,
in every place of amusement,
in every scene of diversion;
in the dance — and in the game;
in the theater — and in the concert;
and in the changes of foreign travel.
But happiness, like a shadow ever flitting before them, and ever eluding their grasp, tantalizes them with its form, without yielding them its substance; and excites their hopes — only to disappoint them!
What are all the pleasures of time and sense, all the objects of this visible world — but as the dropping of pebbles into a deep chasm, which, instead of filling it up, only tell him how deep it is — by awakening the dismal echoes of emptiness and desolation?
Look at the worldling. Does he succeed in his quest for happiness? Is he satisfied? Let him possess all he seeks, all he wishes, all that earth can furnish. Let rank be added to wealth, and fame to both; let a constant round of fashionable amusements, festive scenes, and elegant parties, follow in endless succession, until his cup is full to overflowing. What does it all amount to? "All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure. When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve — I found everything to be vanity and a pursuit of the wind! There was nothing to be gained under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2)
Have not multitudes since Solomon's time, made the same melancholy confession? Is it not a general admission, that the pleasure of worldly objects arises more from hope and anticipation — rather than possession? They are like beautiful bubbles, which, as they float, reflect the colors of the rainbow — but dissolve and vanish when grasped! Tell me, votaries of earthly good — have you realized what you expected? Are not the scenes of festivity and amusement resorted to, by many with aching hearts? Does not the smiling countenance often conceal a troubled heart? Is not the laugh resorted to — in order to suppress the sigh?
Even if it were granted, that the possession of wealth, the gratifications of taste, and the indulgence of appetite, could give happiness in seasons of health and prosperity — they must inevitably fail in the day of sickness and adversity. If they were satisfying for a season — they are all fragile and uncertain! All the enjoyments of this life are like gathered flowers, which are no sooner plucked than they begin to lose their beauty and their fragrance while we look at them and smell them; and which, however mirthful and beautiful they appeared while they were growing — begin to wither as soon as they are in our hands!
~ ~ ~ ~
A perfect rest!
("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)
"There remains, therefore, a rest for the people of God!" Hebrews 4:9
There is present rest in Christ for the weary and heavy laden, who truly come to Him — for He is faithful who has promised, and He has said to such, "I will give you rest! Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart — and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30
There is present rest for the tried believer in the bosom of his heavenly Father. Amidst the anxieties and turmoils of life — how good it is, my soul, to return unto your rest in Him who has dealt so bountifully with you!
But yet there remains a rest to the people of God — a perfect rest . . .
from the burden of guilt,
from spiritual conflict,
from the temptations of the evil one, and
from all the sorrowing and sighing of this valley of tears!
There is in the future a perfect repose of soul, abiding tranquility — and unbroken, eternal rest. Not a rest of inaction, but a rest in happy, unwearied service — and in the enjoyment of the perfect love of God.
My soul, trustfully anticipate the rest that awaits you in the home of the redeemed, in the place that Jesus is preparing for His redeemed people!
"Return to your rest, O my soul — for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you!" Psalm 116:7
"There shall I bathe my weary soul
In seas of heavenly rest;
And not a wave of trouble roll
Across my peaceful breast!"
~ ~ ~ ~
The breakdown and breakup of "Civilization"
(Arthur Pink, "The Destruction of Dagon" 1943)
The "march of progress" from 1920 onwards, was, if measured by the standards of righteousness and decency, steadily downwards. Those with the least sense of decency were determined to drag the whole generation down into the gutter. An orgy of licentiousness was widely entered into. Night-clubs were multiplied, gambling spread like wild fire, and debauchery abounded on every side. The beaches lowered their bathing restrictions — and modesty became a thing of the past. Youth was allowed to have its fling, unrestrained.
The novels and magazines of the last decade have been filled with obscenities and blasphemies. A friend of ours in the publishing business recently wrote to us, "Today we have shops stacked with books which, had they been published when we were boys — the authors and publishers would have been put in jail!" Censorship has long since been reduced to a farce. The great majority of our children have had their ideas formed by the pictures they saw at the "movies" and the debasing productions of a degenerate press. As a recent writer has said, "The best-sellers of today, are often books whose morals are of the barnyard, whose language is of the sewer and whose ethics are of the pit!"
The breakdown and breakup of "Civilization" appears in such things as the decay of the sanctity of marriage — as evidenced by the multiplication of divorces, and the abandonment of large numbers of babies; juvenile delinquency and immorality among the young; the vandalism which is now so rife; such widespread pilfering — and the flimsy efforts of the authorities to deal with such evils! Thousands of culprits who ought to be sent to prison, are given nominal fines. Law and order is almost reduced to a farce!
No matter in which direction we turn, it is the ugly and the vulgar — which is preferred to the beautiful and refined. What a commentary on our so-called "progress."
Someone has said, "The popular taste is a good index to the health of society." Apply that dictum to our own times, and it will quickly appear how the moral health of society has declined.
We do what we do — because we are what we are. There is always a rigid consistency between character and conduct. The thin coating of "civilized" varnish has worn off — and twentieth-century character stands exposed.
Editor's note: One can only imagine what Mr. Pink would write if he were alive today!
~ ~ ~ ~
Christ, the example of ministers
It is not only our great duty, but will be our greatest honor, to imitate Christ, and do the work that He has done — and so act as co-workers with Him.
The ministers of Christ should be persons of the same spirit that their Lord was of — the same spirit of humility and lowliness of heart; for the servant is not greater than his Lord.
They should be of the same spirit of heavenly-mindedness, and contempt of the glory, wealth, and pleasures of this world.
They should be of the same spirit of devotion and fervent love to God.
They should follow the example of His prayerfulness; of whom we read from time to time of His retiring from the world, away from the noise and applause of the multitudes, into mountains and solitary places, for secret prayer, and holy converse with His Father.
Ministers should be persons . . .
of the same quiet, lamb-like spirit that Christ was of;
of the same spirit of submission to God's will, and patience under afflictions, and meekness towards men;
of the same calmness and composure of spirit under reproaches and sufferings from the malignity of evil men;
of the same spirit of forgiveness of injuries;
of the same spirit of charity, of fervent love and extensive benevolence;
of the same disposition to pity the miserable, and to weep with those who weep;
of the same spirit of . . .
condescension to the poor and lowly,
tenderness and gentleness toward the weak,
and great and sincere love to enemies.
They should also be of the same spirit of zeal, diligence, and self-denial for the glory of God, and advancement for his kingdom, and for the good of mankind; for which things sake Christ went though the greatest labors, and endured the most extreme sufferings.
And in order to our imitating Christ in the work of the ministry, in any tolerable degree — we should not have our hearts weighed down, and time filled up with worldly affections, cares, and pursuits.
The duties of a minister that have been recommended, are absolutely inconsistent with a mind much taken up with worldly profit, glory, amusements and entertainments.
~ ~ ~ ~
The true recipe for miserable existence is this:
(James W. Alexander, "Consolation" 1852)
"Affliction does not come forth from the dust — neither does trouble spring out of the ground." Job 5:6
"When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other." Ecclesiastes 7:14
The first law of true religion is submission to God's will. Where it does not exist, there is no piety — and just as truly there is no tranquility of soul.
What a hideous sight to see a human creature in full rebellion against God's providence . . .
repining at His allotments;
fighting against His dispensations;
and cursing His judgments!
The true recipe for miserable existence is this: Quarrel with Providence!
When God means to make us happy, He teaches us submission — a resignation of everything into His hands, and an acknowledgment that whatever He does is wisest and best.
O how sweetly even afflictions fall, when there is such a temper to receive them! "Shall we accept good from God — and not trouble?" Job 2:10. Such a disposition tends to tranquility of soul; and even amidst chastisement, there is internal quiet.
"The Lord gave — and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21
"He is the Lord — let Him do what is good in His eyes." 1 Samuel 3:18
"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
~ ~ ~ ~
May our thoughts seldom wander from the Cross!
(Henry Law, "Psalms" 1878)
"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from saving Me — so far from the words of My groaning?" Psalm 22:1
We take our stand at Calvary.
The Cross is erected.
Jesus, the God-man, our substitute, our Redeemer, hangs there.
We look, and we receive assurance that truly He is . . .
bearing our curse,
drinking to the dregs our cup of wrath,
receiving into His inmost soul the sword of justice, and
suffering the extremities of anguish as the penalty for our sins.
Oh! what a sight of wonder!
Views of redemption, lead to grateful love. It is far easier to count ocean's drops, than to portray . . .
the Savior's love,
His matchless worth,
His righteousness, and
the glories which He has purchased.
How precious is that expiating blood! Let us ponder its worth, and the marvels it has wrought — until our hearts become one blaze of love, and our lips one note of praise!
May our thoughts seldom wander from the Cross!
~ ~ ~ ~
Christianity does not apply to the mundane duties of life
"Whatever your hand finds to do — do it with all your might!" Ecclesiastes 9:10
Christ never asks for anything which we are not able to do. But let us not forget, that He always expects and requires of each of us, the best that we can do. The faithfulness which Christ wants and approves, implies the doing of all our work, our business, our trade, our daily toil — as well as we can.
Let no one think that Christianity does not apply to the mundane duties of life. It applies to the way you do your most common work — just as really as to your praying and keeping of the commandments. Whatever your duty is, you cannot be altogether faithful to God, unless you do your best. To slur any task, is to do God's work badly. To neglect it, is to rob God.
The faithfulness which Christ requires, must reach to everything we do. It impacts the way . . .
the child learns his lessons and recites them,
the dressmaker and the tailor sew their seams,
the blacksmith welds the iron, and shoes the horse,
the plumber puts in his pipes,
the carpenter builds the house,
the clerk represents the goods, and measures or weighs them.
How soon would genuine Christian living put a stop to all dishonesty, all fraud, all skimping, all false weights and measures, all shams, all neglects of duty — if this lesson were only learned and practiced everywhere!
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do — do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31
~ ~ ~ ~
Do not trifle with God!
"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." Exodus 20:7
It is enough to make one's blood curdle, to think of the name of God bandied about as a bauble and plaything of fools. It is the very spirit and essence of all evil — the very core of iniquity. This offence cannot go unpunished. If there is a God, He must vindicate His own majesty and glory. If you could see it as it is, in the naked enormity of its guilt — you would flee from it as from the very pestilence of death!
You may sport with the whirlwind and trifle with the hurricane,
you may lay your hand upon the lion's mane and play with the leopard's spots,
you may go to the very crater of a burning volcano, and laugh at the lava which it thunderously belches out,
you may trifle with any and everything — but do not trifle with God!
Let there be one holy thing upon which you dare not lay a profane hand — and let that be the name of God.
~ ~ ~ ~
You may think that I am unloving, narrow-minded, bigoted!
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
Man is a sinful creature. All children born into the world, whatever their name or nation is — are corrupt, wicked, and defiled in the sight of God.
Human nature is so tainted and corrupt that, left to himself, no man could be save.
There is only one way in which a man or woman must be saved. It is only by our Lord Jesus Christ, through faith; never by our own works and righteousness.
One golden thread runs through the whole Bible — no salvation except by faith in Jesus Christ.
You may think that I am unloving, narrow-minded, bigoted, and so forth; so be it. But you cannot tell me that my doctrine is not that of the Word of God. That doctrine is, "Salvation in Christ to the very uttermost!" But without Christ, there is no salvation at all.
Let it be called intolerant and unloving. No salvation, no way to Heaven — except through Jesus Christ!
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6
~ ~ ~ ~
The secret of a holy life!
Prayer is the secret of a holy life!
Prayer is a sin-killer. No one can sin and pray, for prayer will make us cease from sin — or sin will make us cease from prayer.
Prayer is a power-bringer. It is the hand that touches the hem of the garment of Divine grace, and causes the life which is in the Divine One to flow into us.
Prayer is a victory-giver. Bunyan's Christian found that the weapon of all-prayer was sufficient to wound and defeat the adversary who would stop him in his progress as a pilgrim.
Prayer is a holiness-promoter. It is like the gentle dew which falls upon the thirsty plants, and causes them to be refreshed and to fructify.
Prayer is a dispute-adjuster. Let any two brethren who are at loggerheads get on their knees, and ask the Lord about any disputed matter — and they will find the Lord saying to their troubled spirits: "Peace, be still!"
Prayer is an obstacle-remover, as Peter found when the angel came in answer to the prayers of the saints, and delivered him from the prison.
Prayer is a Christ-revealer — for it clarifies our vision and enables us to see the unseen Christ!
~ ~ ~ ~
True Christianity is a fight!
(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness")
"Fight the good fight of faith!" 1 Timothy 6:12
True Christianity! Let us mind that word "true." There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday and call themselves Christians. They make a "profession" of faith in Christ. Their names are on the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die.
But you never see any "fight" about their religion! Of spiritual strife and exertion and conflict and self-denial and watching and warring — they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable — but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is a fight!
The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of pious ease, indolence and security. He must never imagine for a moment, that he can sleep and doze along the way to Heaven, like one traveling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the people of this world, he may be content with such vain notions — but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must fight!
The principal fight of the Christian is with . . .
and the devil.
These are his never-dying foes! These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If he had a nature like an angel, and were not a fallen creature — the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil and an ensnaring world, he must either fight — or be lost.
He must fight the WORLD. The subtle influence of that mighty enemy must be daily resisted — and without a daily battle, it can never be overcome.
The love of the world's good things,
the fear of the world's laughter or blame,
the secret desire to keep in with the world,
the secret wish to do as others in the world do —
all these are spiritual foes which beset the Christian continually on his way to Heaven, and must be conquered.
"If any man loves the world — the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15
"The world is crucified to me — and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14
"Whoever is born of God, overcomes the world." 1 John 5:4
"Do not be conformed to this world." Romans 12:2
"Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God." James 4:4
He must fight the FLESH. Even after conversion, he carries within him a nature prone to evil and a heart as weak and unstable as water! That heart will never be free from imperfection in this world, and it is a miserable delusion to expect it.
He must fight the DEVIL. That old enemy of mankind is not dead. Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve, he has been "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it," and striving to compass one great end — the ruin of man's soul. Never slumbering and never sleeping — he is always going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. An unseen enemy, he is always near us, about our path and about our bed, and spying out all our ways! A murderer and a liar from the beginning — he labors night and day to cast us down to Hell. Sometimes by leading into superstition, sometimes by suggesting infidelity, sometimes by one kind of tactics and sometimes by another — he is always carrying on a campaign against our souls. This mighty adversary must be daily resisted if we wish to be saved.
Some may think these statements too strong. You imagine that I am going too far, and laying on the colors too thickly. But the Christian warfare is no light matter! What do the Scriptures say?
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life."
"Endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."
"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes!"
"Strive to enter in at the strait gate."
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong!"
Words such as these appear to me as clear, plain and unmistakable. They all teach one and the same great lesson, if we are willing to receive it. That lesson is, that true Christianity is a struggle, a fight and a warfare!
~ ~ ~ ~
We must test all our pleasures and amusements by this rule:
"Lovers of pleasure — rather than lovers of God; having a form of godliness — but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:4-5
Is the love of pleasure and amusement growing on you — gaining the power and authority over you?
Is it dulling the keenness of your zest for spiritual pleasures?
Is it making Bible study, prayer, communion with Christ, and meditation upon holy themes — less sweet enjoyments than they once were?
Is it making your hunger and thirst for righteousness and for God — less intense?
Is it interfering with the comfort and blessing which you used to find in church services, or in Christ's work?
If so, there is only one thing to do — hurry . . .
to return to God,
to abandon the pleasure or amusement which is imperiling your soul, and
to find in Christ, the joy which the world cannot give, and which never harms any aspect of life.
We must test all our pleasures and amusements by this rule: Are they helping us to grow into Christ-likeness and spiritual beauty?
"All things are lawful — but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful — but not all things edify." 1 Corinthians 10:23
~ ~ ~ ~
If God is our Father
(James Smith, "The Children's Privileges!")
"You are sons of the living God!" Hosea 1:10
To have God for our Father, is the greatest honor conceivable — and it is an infinite source of comfort and joy!
If God is our Father — He will love us with a strong and tender love! He may try us and hide His face from us, to correct us for our follies — but He will still love us. Nothing shall separate His child from His love, or sever the bond which unites us to Himself.
If God is our Father — He will bear with our numerous and painful infirmities. Because we are His children — He will put the best construction upon everything. For, "Like as a Father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who love Him. He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust." He will accept our imperfect services, because we are but children. He knows our weakness, ignorance, and failings; and He also knows our desire to please Him. And when we can only desire — He accepts the will for the deed.
If God is our Father — He will provide for and take care of us — making provision for us on earth, while He reserves our portion for Heaven. Will an earthly father leave his child to lack — while he has plenty, and can supply him with the greatest ease? He will not! Neither will our Heavenly Father; but He will supply all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!
If God is our Father — He will also protect us from all evils — spiritual and temporal.
Sin shall not have dominion over us,
Satan shall not overcome us,
the world shall not destroy us
— for God will protect us!
He will keep us by His power, through faith unto salvation.
If God is our Father — He will reveal His mind and will to us for our comfort and salvation. He may hide the mysteries of the kingdom from the wise and prudent — but He will reveal them unto His babes. (Matthew 11:25) He will send the Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, who will guide us into all truth.
If God is our Father — He will give us freedom of access into His presence with confidence — so that we may carry all our sins, sorrows, troubles, and temptations to Him, and lay them at His feet; feeling that we have to do with a Father — one who loves us, pities us, and delights to bless us!
If God is our Father — He will make all things work together for our good.
Good things — such as mercies, blessings, and comforts.
Bad things — such as sickness, poverty, reproach, persecution, bereavements, death.
ALL shall work our good, and issue in our eternal welfare.
If we are children of God — we are heirs of every promise in His Book, and joint-heirs with Jesus Himself! He will give us a Father's blessing — a blessing worthy of His greatness, majesty, and glory. And He will keep us safe in every danger, and from every foe; so that we shall never perish — but possess and enjoy eternal life.
"'I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:18
~ ~ ~ ~
We so imperfectly read the engravings of His heart!
"Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6
"God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners — Christ died for us!" Romans 5:8
It is because we have such shallow views of God's love — that we have such defective views of God's dealings. We blindly interpret the symbols of His providence — because we so imperfectly read the engravings of His heart.
"When we can't trace His hand — we must trust His heart!"