J.R. Miller, 1906

Nothing is more helpful and practical in Christian living!

"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8

The habit of treasuring up a text of Scripture in the morning, to be meditated upon while engaged in the business of the world through the day is both profitable and delightful. It is as a refreshing spring to a weary traveler!

Nothing is more helpful and practical in Christian living, than the habit of getting a verse of Scripture into the mind and heart in the morning. Its influence stays through the day, weaving itself into all the day's thoughts and words and experiences.

Every verse in the Bible is meant to help us to live and a good devotional book opens up the precious teachings which are folded up in its words.

A devotional book, which takes a Scripture text, and so opens it for us in the morning that all day long it helps us to live, becoming a true lamp to our feet, and a staff to lean upon when the way is rough is the very best devotional help we can possibly have. What we need in a devotional book which will bless our lives is the application of the great teachings of Scripture to common, daily, practical life!

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night!" Psalm 1:1-2

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Harder to tame than wild beasts!

"The tongue has the power of life and death!" Proverbs 18:21

"The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison!" James 3:6-8

The tongue is a very troublesome member! It is a very important member, however and with it we can do great good.

Our words, if they are true and loving carry blessings wherever they are heard. But the tongue is hard to control. When we have really gotten our tongue under control we are almost perfect. One who can govern his speech can govern every other part of his life.

A small bit keeps a spirited horse in check and a little rudder turns a great ship in its course. Just so the tongue, though so small a member, controls the whole life!

The tongue is harder to tame than wild beasts! There has been but one Man who never spoke foolishly, rashly, bitterly. Jesus never did His words were always pure, sweet, helpful, and inspiring.

We ought to set ourselves the task of mastering our tongues for then we can do untold good with them. Only Christ can help us to do it. He mastered everything demons, diseases, winds, waves, death itself. He alone can help us to master the most unruly tongue!

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This good, old couple!

"They were both righteous before God walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord." Luke 1:6

It is a beautiful thing which we read of this good, old couple, Zacharias and Elisabeth that they were righteous before God. Some people appear to men to be righteous who before God have no such record.

Real character is what our hearts are our hearts make us. We ought not to be satisfied only doing well, the things which men can see. We ought to work and live ever for God's eye.

Sometimes we say that it is does not matter how we do certain things, because nobody will see them. But we should remember that God will see them and surely we should never do careless, faulty work for His eye.

The word "commandments" suggests that the holiness of these people was of a very practical kind.

Some people's religion is chiefly emotional. They talk about loving God but they pay little heed to His commandments.

God is pleased with ardent devotions, but He wants us to prove our religion by obedience doing the things which He gives us to do.

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A splendid sum in addition!

"ADD . . .
  to your faith, virtue;
  to virtue, knowledge;
  to knowledge, self-control;
  to self-control, perseverance;
  to perseverance, godliness;
  to godliness, brotherly kindness; and
  to brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7

Our verses presents us with a splendid sum in addition! These graces are to be added one to another.

Faith comes first. But faith cannot stand-alone, so we add to our faith, virtue that is, conformity of one's life and conduct to the highest moral and ethical principles.

Next we are to add knowledge. Knowledge, of course, of the true kind wisdom for life, spiritual knowledge, knowledge of God, and of God's will as found in His Word.

Self-control comes next this is the key of all noble life. No matter how strong we are, or how much we know if we have not self-control, then something is lacking. He who can rule himself is strong while he who lacks self-mastery, no matter what other gifts he may have, is pitiably weak.

Self-control produces another element perseverance, perseverance in all Christian duties.

Another quality to be added to patience is Godliness Godlikeness, Christlikeness.

Then comes brotherly kindness affectionateness and forbearance to those among whom we mingle.

Last of all love, the crowning gift and blessing!

These elements of character make up Christian maturity.

"For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:8

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The Word of God has in it an efficacy which no other book in the world has!

"From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:15-17

It is a great thing to be brought up on the Holy Scriptures. No other book can do for a life, what the Bible can do. It is able to make one wise in the best way for salvation through faith in Jesus.

The Word of God has in it an efficacy which no other book in the world has!

It is profitable for doctrine instructing in holy things, the things of God and eternal life.

It is profitable for reproof convicting us of sin and declaring God's judgment against evil.

It is profitable for correction not only showing us our faults, but leading us away from them, freeing our lives from errors and making straight what was crooked.

It is profitable for instruction in righteousness telling us how God would have us live, what qualities of character He would have us attain.

One who is trained under the tuition of the Scriptures will come to be a complete Christian, furnished for usefulness and prepared for doing whatever good work he may be called to do.

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It is not our business to re-write Bible verses!

"I will praise the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips." Psalm 34:1

It is not hard to praise the Lord at some times.
There are days when all is bright.
There is no sickness in our house.
No recent sorrow has left our heart sad.
It is easy then, to praise the Lord.

But there are other times when things are different. Business is not prosperous or health is broken.
We begin to say this verse but we cannot get through it: "I will praise the Lord at  . . . "

We cannot bless the Lord for the broken health or for the empty chair. Yet there the words stand. We cannot make them read: "I will praise the Lord at some times; His praise will be on my lips on certain days days when the sun shines."

It is not our business to re-write Bible verses
but it is our business rather to bring our lives up to the standard of the inspired words. So we must learn to say the verse just as it is written.

We must learn to bless the Lord on the dark days as well as the bright days.
We must learn to praise God in pain as well as in pleasure.

Have we learned this lesson?

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Absalom's Monument!

"They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him . . . During his lifetime, Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King's Valley as a monument to himself . . . He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom's Monument to this day." 2 Samuel 18

It has been said that every man lives for a funeral that is, a man's funeral often tells what kind of a man he has been. Absalom had already built a splendid monument, which he meant should mark his grave. Instead, however, of being laid away to rest in honor by a weeping nation, beneath the shadows of a noble monument his mangled body was hurled in dishonor into a pit in the forest, and covered with a large heap of rocks.

It was still true, however, that Absalom built his own monument. His own hand dug the grave of shame into which his body was cast. Sin's harvest is sure and terrible!

Too many young men think that it is unmanly to be holy, true-hearted, and pure and that a "fast life" is the manly one. We have, in the story of Absalom, an illustration of the career of one who lived such a life and we must notice that the story is written out to its last chapter.

The trouble too often is, that men do not think of what the end will be.

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We need to be on our guard against Solomonian religion!

"As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God." 1 Kings 11:4

The trouble was all in Solomon's heart! It is the heart which needs watching and keeping with all diligence. The heart must be wholly devoted in its aim and motive, to God and His service.

Solomon had a corner in his heart for the Lord and then other corners for the gods of all the other nations. The Savior's words are: "You cannot serve both God and mammon."

We need to be on our guard against Solomonian religion! There is plenty of it these days. It abhors the preaching of the stern truths of God's Word about sin and punishment, and about holiness. It sends well-near everybody to Heaven and regards Hell as a mere fable! It calls holy Christians "puritanic" or "strait-laced." It calls great sins "escapades," and finds no use for such psalms as the fifty-first.

It is not hard to see in this verse, however which of the two kinds of religion pleases God best, and which leads to the best end.

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We ought not to spend our life in picking up rubbish!

"Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you!" John 6:27

We need to be continually reminded of the unsatisfying nature of the things of this world and exhorted to seek eternal realities. We live in a material age, when the quest of people is for money, for power, for things of the earth.

John Bunyan gives a picture of 'a man with a muck-rake', working hard, scraping up the rubbish at his feet and not seeing the crown which hung above his head. It is a picture of the great majority of the people in this world. They are wearing out their life in scraping up worldly rubbish not thinking of the heavenly treasures, the divine and imperishable gifts, which they might have with half the toil and care!

We ought not to spend our life in picking up rubbish which we cannot carry beyond the grave! If we are wise, we will seek rather to gather lasting treasures and riches, which we can take with us into eternity!

Whatever we build into our character, we shall possess forever!

Money which we spend in doing good in Christ's name we lay up as safe and secure treasure in heaven.

All true service for Christ stores up rewards for us in the future.

What we keep we lose!

What we give in love we keep forever!

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The background of the cross, is the terrible fact of sin. If there had been no sin there would have been no need for the redemption of Christ.

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God's hand moves in all the world's events.

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Manners are far more important in life than most people imagine.

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Most people are too proud ever to apologize.

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All life's tangles!

"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

Our affairs are forever getting tangled, like threads in a child's hands and we cannot straighten out the tangles ourselves! We cannot see how anything beautiful or good can come out of our poor living, or our feeble striving.

Our days are full of disappointments, and our night's rest is broken by anxieties. Yet it is the Christian's privilege to commit all life's tangles into the hands of Jesus Christ. He can take our broken things and build them up into beauty!

One of the finest windows in a great cathedral is said to have been made out of the fragments of broken glass which the workmen had thrown away as worthless. A skillful hand gathered them up and wrought them into lovely form.

In the same way, Jesus Christ can take . . .
  our failures,
  our mistakes,
  our follies,
  our broken fragments of life,
  and even our sins
and make them into beautiful life and character!

"Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:5

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This is not a world of chance it is our Father's world!

"For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will." Ephesians 1:4-5

"In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will." Ephesians 1:11

This is not a world of chance it is our Father's world! Events do not happen without divine order and direction. There is a great divine plan running through the ages, which includes all things, and subordinates all forces and all experiences to itself. Our Scripture passages above are full of this great thought.

We will never fully understand these great truths, with their tremendous reach of meaning. We may say, however, at least, that they assure us of a divine plan for the elect a divine love, a divine purpose of mercy, dating from the infinite past and running through the eternal ages to come!

All of the elect are eternally secure in Christ the Redeemer!

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If we are quick to perceive blemishes and faults in others

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3

It is strange how oblivious we can be of our own faults and blemishes and how clearly we can see those of other people! One old writer says: "Men are rather more apt to use a magnifying glass to behold the faults of others than a mirror to behold their own." A man can see a little speck of dust in his neighbor's eye while utterly unaware of the great plank in his own eye! He observes the most minute fault in his brother while unconscious of his own far greater fault!

We would say that a plank in a man's eye would so blind him that he could not see the speck in another's eye. As our Lord represents it, however the man with the plank, is the very one who sees the speck and thinks himself competent to remove it!

So it is in morals. No man is so sharp at seeing a fault in another as he who has the same or a similar fault of his own!
A vain man is the first to detect the indications of vanity in another.
A bad-tempered person is most apt to be censorious toward a neighbor who displays bad temper.
One with a sharp uncontrolled tongue has the least patience with another whose speech is full of poisoned arrows.
A selfish man discovers even specks of selfishness in others.
people are the very first to be hurt and offended by rudeness in a neighbor.

So it is always. If we are quick to perceive blemishes and faults in others the probability is, that we have far greater blemishes and faults in ourselves! This truth ought to make us exceedingly careful in our judgments, and exceedingly modest in our expressions of censure for we really are telling the world our own faults! It is wiser, as well as more in accordance with the spirit of Christ for us to find lovely things in others, and to be silent regarding their faults!

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We are not expected then to like it but we are told not to despise it

"My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord." Proverbs 3:11

The Bible always talks to us as children. Chastening comes with a Father's authority and also a Father's gentleness.

Of course, it is not possible that we should really find pleasure in being chastened. That is not natural. Indeed the Bible says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful." Not even the grace of God in our hearts can take the sting out of chastening. We are not expected then to like it but we are told not to despise it. That is, we are to accept it without murmuring, without complaining, and reverently as God's messenger to us, bringing a blessing.

It will help us to receive chastening meekly, in faith and love if we remember that it is our heavenly Father who sends it. We know that He loves us with infinite affection. He would not take pleasure therefore in causing us pain, nor would He do it at all were it not in some way for our good. It is because He loves us and would do us good that He sends or permits the suffering.

We should not despise any instruction our Father gives us, however costly and painful it may be. He lets us suffer because He loves us and would make our lives beautiful and holy.

We should be willing to endure any pain or trial, in order to have the likeness of Christ fashioned in our life.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11

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A harvest of wretchedness

An unholy life yields a harvest of wretchedness in old age! But a life of obedience to God, of faithfulness to duty, of personal purity and uprightness, and of unselfish, Christ-like service, will make old age like a garden of fruit and flowers!

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What is death, father?

"Hold me up and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

The voyage of life is a perilous ocean!

People talk about the terrors of death but living has greater terrors than dying!

In Miss Procter's poem, a child asks, "What is life, father?" and gets the answer that life is a battle, where many fail and yield.

Then the child asks, "What is death, father?" We are not surprised that when she learns that death is the rest which comes at the end of the strife of life, she says: "Let me die, father for I fear to live."

The wise answer is, "You must live first and win your crown on the battlefields of life."

Life is full of perils but there is One who can guard us from stumbling, and present us faultless before the presence of God at last. We need only to have Christ for our Friend and He will bring us safely through all peril. But without Christ, we never can get home to Heaven.

"Hold me up and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

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They would pass by these glittering unrealities

"Will you set your eyes upon that which is not? Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle!" Proverbs 23:5

People are badly cheated in this world. They often imagine that gold, silver, houses, lands, and stocks are the real treasures. So they toil for these things and gather them into their possession, and pile up what they suppose to be 'wealth'. Thus they live like princes in their fine houses, and call themselves millionaires.

But one day their supposed riches take to themselves wings and fly away like eagles toward Heaven. Or they may keep their wealth, perhaps, and die at last in the midst of it, and have a great funeral. But then they find that they cannot carry a penny of it with them.

"How much did he leave?" was asked about a rich man who had died. "He left all of it!" was the answer.

If men only knew that there are other things far more worth setting eyes and heart upon things which will never fly away they would pass by these glittering unrealities to lay hold of the true riches.

We can lay up money in heaven only by using it for God.

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Sky-gazing is never the best occupation

"Why do you stand here gazing into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into Heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into Heaven." Acts 1:11

Sky-gazing is never the best occupation.

When our friends leave us, we are not forbidden to sorrow, for it cannot be that hearts bereft can be without grief but we are forbidden to sorrow in a way which breaks up our life of duty and service.

I know a mother who lost a beloved daughter many years ago, who has done scarcely anything since but visit the cemetery and mourn. She dropped all her church work. Her home duties have been neglected. The living members of her family have received almost no care. She gazes up into the sky and weeps continually for her child.

This is not how our Lord wishes us to act. He wants us to go back at once to our duties thoughtful, reverent, and serious, yet earnest and faithful, witnessing by our faith and hope to the glory of our Savior. The way He would have us show our grief is . . .
  in more beautiful living,
  in more earnest service,
  and in sweeter praise.

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All work is sacred and we need God's help in the commonest occupations!

"So give Your servant a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of Yours?" 1 Kings 3:9

Solomon wanted to rule wisely. He did not want to be a failure as a king. So he looked up into God's face and said, "You have made me king. The work is great, and I am but a little child. Give me wisdom to be a good king." That was a noble choice.

There is a great responsibility in being a preacher. But the responsibility of being a carpenter, a shoemaker, or a plumber, is great too.

Hiram was an old shoemaker, and he told the young minister that his shoemaking was just as sacred a business as the preacher's preaching. If he would mend the shoes poorly, and the boy should catch cold and have pneumonia he would be responsible. "I cannot afford, as a child of God, with a hope of Heaven, to put poor work into that job, for much depends upon it. I would not like to meet that boy up yonder and have him tell me he had died because I was not a faithful shoemaker."

All work is sacred and we need God's help in the commonest occupations!

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There was a worm which secretly was eating away the strength of the staff!

"Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots." 1 Kings 4:26

Solomon was very rich. Everything was on the most magnificent scale. This made his reign very splendid but in this luxury lurked danger. It is sad when there is business prosperity while character is deteriorating.

The luxury of Solomon's court, with the vast outlay of money, necessarily incurred heavy taxation, which soon became burdensome, and led ultimately to serious disaffection.

An old legend says that in the heart of the staff on which Solomon leaned, there was a worm which secretly was eating away the strength of the staff.

The legend has its meaning in the fact that in Solomon's prosperity, there lurked the insidious evil which, by and by, wrought ruin to the king's own character and disruption to his kingdom.

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

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We are not to forget the Giver as we enjoy His gifts!

"The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land He swore to give you. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt!" Deuteronomy 6:10-12

The people were going to a country which had long been possessed by a nation who had built cities, filled fine houses with good things, and planted vineyards. All these things, the Lord would give to them. They would not have to erect houses nor plant orchards of their own.

But the danger was, that when they had received all these things they would forget that they were gifts from God and would turn away into sin.
We are not to forget the Giver as we enjoy His gifts!

It is always a perilous thing to forget God. To forget any friend who has been good to us is a base sin. But to forget God, to whom we owe every blessing is heinous ingratitude!

"Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

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It will be a great benefit to us in every way, to learn this lesson

"Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Learning not to worry is one of the lessons that every Christian should master.

Worry is a terribly wasteful experience.
It uses up the strength we need for our duty.
It unfits us for doing our work well.
It is dishonoring to God, for He has promised to care for us, if only we do His will faithfully.
It is utterly fruitless, for it does not take away the things it frets over.

The Bible gives many lessons on the subject but none that makes plainer just how we are to eliminate worrying from our life, than what Paul here tells us to do.

First of all, we are simply not to worry. "Do not worry about anything."
There is no room for exceptions, special circumstances, and all that.
We are not to worry about anything.

What then shall we do with the matters that we are disposed to worry over? Put them into the hands of God in prayer, and leave them there. If we do this then the peace of God will guard our hearts and thoughts from all anxiety.

It will be a great benefit to us in every way, to learn this lesson.

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He preached only a few months!

"Herod immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went and beheaded John in the prison." Mark 6:27-28

Jesus knows how His followers can best serve Him.

He sent the apostles out to teach and heal. John the Baptist, however He permitted to be seized, to languish in prison, and to be cruelly beheaded.

Just so, we should be willing to serve our Master in any way He desires. He may want us to give a long life to active usefulness or He may want us to serve and honor Him by enduring persecution and being murdered.

The life of John seemed to be a failure. He preached only a few months! He was a great preacher, too, and hundreds went to hear him. It seemed to his friends a pitiful waste of life, an irreparable loss to the heavenly kingdom when he was murdered.

But John's work was done. He accomplished all that he was sent into the world to do. There really was no reason for his living an hour longer.

When one dies in youth, we are apt to deplore his death as untimely. But God makes no mistakes! "Every man is immortal until his work is done!"

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Go, and do likewise!

"Who is my neighbor?" Luke 10:29

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
 The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.'
 Jesus told him: Go, and do likewise!" Luke 10:36-37

Love to our neighbor seems at first an easy lesson to learn. But when we begin to study it, it grows harder. There is more of the lesson than we thought. We like to pick our neighbors and we are sure to choose people who are congenial.

How to love our neighbor, is taught in this parable of the Good Samaritan.

It is easy to have a sort of universal love a love for everybody, a love we can exercise in our quiet home, looking at people in the distance but not coming near to anyone.

It is not just the same, however, when we go down among the people, and find our neighbor in some disagreeable person we cannot like but needing our help, or in some enemy in need.

The Good Samaritan found his neighbor in a hated Jew bleeding by the wayside. He had to get down in the dust and stanch his wounds, and then carry the man to an inn and pay the bills.

It often costs a great deal to love a neighbor. The lesson is written out in full at the close: "Go, and do likewise!"

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A blessed ministry of suffering

"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" John 9:2

There is a mystery in suffering which no one can fathom or understand. People in ancient times supposed that troubles were punishment for wrongs committed.

We cannot tell why there is so much pain in human life. We may be sure, however, that if we accept our trouble, it will leave a blessing in our lives.

There are many sufferers who are blessed above measure through their pain. I remember a woman who for fourteen years had not walked a step. She sat in her chair, unable to lift hand or foot. Every joint in her body was twisted, and she suffered excruciating pain continually. Yet, I never saw such patience such uncomplaining quietness. Her face shone as if it had been transfigured by a holy light burning within. She was a blessing to her household. An influence poured out from her room, which softened all the home hearts.

There is a blessed ministry of suffering whose influence we never can realize in this world.

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life!" John 9:3

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The condition of discipleship

"Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them He said: If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters yes, even his own life he cannot be My disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:25-27

The condition of discipleship is absolute devotion to our Master. Jesus does not mean that anyone is really to hate father or mother, or wife, or children but simply that all other people and all interests must take second place. Christ Himself must have the preeminence.

The great need of Christian life is a more complete surrender. We cannot serve two masters. If we choose to serve the world then we cannot serve Christ, for He accepts no half-hearted devotion. When Jesus says that if we will not renounce all we have, we cannot be His disciples He means everything that stands in the way of our discipleship. If He bids us give up anything then we are to do it.

He means also, that all that we are and all that we have shall be absolutely His, at His disposal.

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The last day of a year should make us thoughtful

December 31

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12

The last day of a year should make us thoughtful
. We cannot but ask . . .
  whether we have been faithful,
  whether we have done all our duty, and
  whether we have learned the lessons set for us during the past year.

There are none who have not come short, and who have left no duty undone.

There is none who have left no white page, blotted.

One purpose of life is that we may grow, that in all the experiences of our days we may be learning new lessons, and becoming more like Jesus.

Growth of the body is not all, nor is growth in knowledge the test of living.
One may be physically stronger and yet be no better in character.
One may know a great deal more and yet be no wiser.

We are only growing when the peace of our heart is becoming deeper when we love more and are gentler, sweeter, and more unselfish.

We shall want to make this last day of the year very beautiful beautiful enough to be the last of our life. We should leave no duty undone when its last hour strikes.

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Letting him go to destruction unhindered

"For whom the Lord loves, He disciplines." Proverbs 3:12

We are apt to see it just the other way.

"My father does not love me or he would not be so severe with me," a boy says. Then he points to another boy whose father lets his son do as he pleases, and never restrains or corrects him. "That father loves his boy, and is always kind to him," he says.

So it may seem just at the time. But to be left without discipline, to have no chastening, no correction, no restraining or withholding is not love at all. A father who does this with his son, is letting him go to destruction unhindered. The one who corrects and chastens is intent on saving his son. Chastening is, therefore, a proof of love. God disciplines His children because He wants to purify us, and make something of us.

It should be a comfort to us to know, when we have trials or afflictions, that instead of being a proof that God does not love us, it is just the reverse a new assurance of our heavenly Father's tender affection and deep interest in us.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11

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I am starving for bread!

"I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty!" John 6:35

Nothing that grows out of earth's soil, will feed our souls. We were made for God, and must feed our immortal nature on heavenly bread.

There is a story of a pilgrim, crossing the desert and famishing for bread, who came upon a bag of pearls lying in the sand. He hoped the bag contained food, and eagerly opened it. But he flung it from him in bitter disappointment, saying, "It is only pearls and I am starving for bread!"

What pearls are to a starving man a bitter mockery the riches and honors of this world are to a human spirit in its times of sore need, as when the sense of sin overwhelms the soul, or when a great sorrow has come into the life. Nothing but bread will satisfy hunger.

Nothing but Christ will meet the needs and cravings of a soul in its times of distress.

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The husks of the heavenly good things

"When they came to the Valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs." Numbers 13:23

God has sent over into our earthly wilderness-life, many samples of the good things of the heavenly life foretastes of the full glories there awaiting us.

The joy, peace, love, and grace we get here on earth are very sweet but they are just little specimens of fruits that grow everywhere in the Better-Land.

The old rabbis said that when the famine began in Egypt and the storehouses were opened Joseph threw the chaff of the grain upon the Nile, that it might float down on the river and show those who lived below that there was abundance of provision laid up for them farther up the river.

In the same way, the blessings of divine grace which we enjoy in this world, are little more than the husks of the heavenly good things, sent down on the river of divine grace as foretastes or intimations of what is in store for us in Heaven. The joy the Christian has here on earth is deep and rich but Heaven's joy is infinitely deeper and richer!

"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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God will not put His holy gifts into our hands, if they are defiled with sin!

"Joshua told the people: Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you." Joshua 3:5

To sanctify means to cleanse, to make holy. God will not send His gifts to others in unclean vessels.

Every morning, as we set out on our day's pilgrimage, we have promises for help but these promises are dependent upon ourselves. We must be in a proper frame of heart and mind to receive them. God will not put His holy gifts into our hands, if they are defiled with sin!

The lesson is for all of us, as we go to God in prayer, or as we ask for His blessings. If, while we pray, our hearts are cherishing sins unconfessed and un-repented of then we cannot hope that God will grant our requests. Our Lord said Himself that if we bring our gifts to the altar and there remember that our brother has anything against us, we must leave our gift un-offered before the altar, and go and be reconciled with our brother and then come and offer our gift.

The secret of many unanswered prayers may be found in cherished sins.

"If I regard wickedness in my heart the Lord will not hear me." Psalm 66:18

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Each new day presents an unknown pathway to us

"And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, 'Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.' So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people." Joshua 3:6

The ark of the covenant was the symbol of God's own presence. God is always ready to lead us. To go without Him into life's experiences, is to fail.

A little way back, when instructions were given for this crossing, Joshua said to the people, "You have not passed this way before, and therefore you must keep in sight of the ark which will go before you."

The same may be said of every day's experiences. We have not passed this way before. Although we have lived thousands of other days, each new day presents an unknown pathway to us a way we have never gone over before. The only safe thing to do is always to keep the ark in sight, and to follow it.

One of the marks of the true Christian, is that he follows Christ. Christ's sheep know His voice and follow Him, and He goes before them. Christ is our Leader, and every morning we can put our hand in His for guidance for the day.

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There is no other secret of a true and noble life amid the world's strifes and trials

"The Lord my God has given me rest on every side." 1 Kings 5:4

This rest was part of the preparation for the building of the temple.

Times of quiet in one's life, should not be idle times. There is other work to do then. These are days for temple-building.

True living is not all activity struggle, conflict, gathering money, toiling with one's hands.

Building of character is the great work of life. This goes on best in the quiet. We ought not to wait for idleness to compel us to be still we should get the quiet into our life, even in our busiest times. We must have a restful spirit, if we would build up the inner temple. There should be "silent times" in every day's life.

The secret of Daniel's noble character while carrying a great part of the burden of the kingdom of Babylon, was that he never forsook the place of prayer. Not even fear of the lion's den could make him neglect devotion.

There is no other secret of a true and noble life amid the world's strifes and trials. We must keep quiet within, that we may build up in our hearts the temple of God.

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Perhaps none of us ever were fed by ravens

"Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 'Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.' So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening and he drank from the brook." 1 Kings 17:2-6

God is never at a loss to find a way of providing for His children.

All things are His servants. The brooks of water, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, the wings of ravens, the waves of the sea all creatures, all things animate and inanimate belong to Him, and are ready to serve Him at His call.

Perhaps none of us ever were fed by ravens as Elijah was but in other ways, not less marvelous God brings to us our daily bread. Railroad trains carry it across continents, or ships bear it around the globe to bring it to our doors. We still may get the most perfect peace from the promises of God.

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Instead of dying in the wilderness, he missed death altogether!

"Elijah went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life!" 1 Kings 19:4

Elijah was in a state of despondency when he uttered this unworthy prayer. It was not fright that produced this condition of mind it was discouragement. It seemed to him that all the struggle on Mount Carmel had amounted to nothing.

It is a sad picture this great prophet lying there under a little bush in the wilderness, begging that he might die. This is one of the unanswered prayers of the Bible and it is well for Elijah it was not answered. If he had died then, what an inglorious ending would it have been to his life! As it was, however, he lived to do further glorious work, and instead of dying in the wilderness, he missed death altogether!

It is never right to wish ourselves dead. Life is God's gift to us a sacred trust for which we shall have to give account. As long as God keeps us living, He has something for us to do. Our prayers should be for grace to bear our burden, and do our duty bravely unto the end.

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No day without a line!

"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning." Proverbs 1:5

The wise man never ceases to be a learner. He never gets to a point where he feels satisfied with his attainments.

Many a man, who starts out with great promise in early life, by and by loses his energy and fails of his early hope because in the elation of his first successes, he stopped learning. And then growth was at an end and when growth stops, decay begins.

An old artist had for his motto: "No day without a line!" Every day he would add one line, at least.

There could be no better motto for any Christian, young or old. Every day we should get some new lesson into our life learn at some point to live more holy.

No day should be without its added line of likeness to Christ!

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Our speech should always be with grace

"Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt." Colossians 4:6

The New Testament has a great deal to say about speech.

Jesus spoke of men's words idle words which have to be accounted for in the judgment, contemptuous words which bring upon him who uses them severe condemnation, words which test life by which one is either justified or condemned.

Paul, too, refers to speech. Here we have a very suggestive exhortation on the subject. Our speech should always be with grace. Grace means fitting, beautiful. We should learn to speak so that our tones of voice and our manner of speech shall be winning and attractive.

Grace means also something under divine influence. We should speak words permeated with love and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

A Christian should always speak to please God.

Our speech should be "seasoned with salt." Salt purifies. Our words should be pure and cleansing loving, gentle, helpful, inspiring.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

"Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place but rather thanksgiving." Ephesians 5:4

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Jesus set up three monuments in His Gospels

"I tell you the truth anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward." Mark 9:41

Jesus set up three monuments in His Gospels.

One was to the widow who gave the two mites.

Another was to the woman who anointed His head and feet, the story of whose deed is enshrined in the Gospels.

The other is the one referred to here the person who gives the cup of cold water to a disciple in the Master's name.

It is not great things which make men great in God's sight it is the love that is in what they do.

The least act of kindness done in Christ's name, is greater than the building of a city for personal glory.

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A debt we can never pay off!

"Owe no man anything except the continuing debt to love one another." Romans 13:8

Paul advises that we should owe no man anything. But he also tells us that he is in debt to everybody. He makes one exception in speaking of debt we are to owe nothing, but the continuing debt of love. That is a debt we can never pay off! If we go to bed at night owing no man we shall wake up in the morning to find ourselves in debt again to everybody.

Love is the debt. Paul said he owed it to everyone. We meet no one on the street, rich or poor, enemy or friend to whom we are not in debt. We must be sure also to pay him what we owe him, and not pass by on the other side.

Remember the story of the wounded man on the Jericho road. During the time he lay there, three men came by. Each one of them owed him a debt but two of them did not pay it. Then came one who paid his debt stopping and ministering to his wounded neighbor. We should recognize our debt to everyone, and pay it!

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Its tones fall like soothing music on the quivering heart!

"His disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it and went and told Jesus." Matthew 14:12

When one dies in our home, and our hearts are breaking we should go and tell Jesus. It will do us good to tell Him.

We may not care to tell our trouble to any human friend. Some sorrows are too sacred to be unveiled to any eyes.

But we need never shrink from telling Jesus. He can understand our grief, for He knows all human pain; not alone as God but as man, for He experienced all sorrow. He will treat our sorrow, too, with most delicate gentleness.

The very words which other speak to comfort us often fall with crude impact upon our bruised heart and give fresh pain. The gentlest touch of a human hand, often hurts where it is meant to help. But the voice of Jesus is so gentle that its tones fall like soothing music on the quivering heart, and the hand of Jesus is so skillful that its touch gives healing.

We need never fear to tell Jesus of our sorrow. He is the truest Comforter, and the wisest Healer of hurt hearts.

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God keeps our tears in His bottle!

"May these words that I have prayed in the presence of the LORD be before Him constantly, day and night" 1 Kings 8:59

Solomon asked that God might not forget his prayers.

The intercessions of Jesus for His people are being answered in every new blessing that comes to us.

When a mother pleads for her child she would have her petition kept near to God day and night. She would have God keep His eye ever on her boy, wherever he might be, and in whatever danger.

It is a precious thought, too, that we do not need to be always reminding God of our desires for our friends but that our prayers stay before Him. They are not filed away and forgotten, as are many requests we make to people in places of power but are always remembered by God.

Even if sometimes we forget to pray, God does not forget, for He knows our heart's wishes, and will do more for us than we ask or think. We are told that God keeps our tears in His bottle that is, He remembers our sorrows, and they are sacred to Him. Our prayers, too, we are assured, are laid up, "golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of saints." Revelation 5:8

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The greatest unkindness they could possibly do the child!

"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death!" Proverbs 23:13-14

To leave the roots of weeds growing in the garden among the flowers is to insure the springing up of those weeds by and by, to mar the beauty of the garden.

In the same way, some parents have such foolish hearts that they cannot bear to correct a child lest they cause it pain.

They forget that to leave an uncorrected fault in a child, or to allow any wrong habit to grow up in its life unchecked is the greatest unkindness they could possibly do the child!

No tender feeling should ever prevent a parent from trying to correct a fault in a child. Love must always seek the best.

"Chasten your son while there is hope and do not set your heart on his destruction!" Proverbs 19:18

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The memory, with invisible ink

"You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you." Deuteronomy 8:2

Memory is a wonderful power. It is a storehouse in which we keep the records of the experiences of our lives. The memory, with invisible ink, writes on a scroll the story of all our days, the things we do, the things of our thoughts. We make our memories for ourselves, writing our own records.

The practical suggestion from this, is that if we would make our life-music sweet and harmonious  we must live beautifully, purely, unselfishly, helpfully. Sins of youth make bitter memories for after-years. The secret of a happy old age is a well-watched life from childhood. Any unguarded hour may leave a memory which will sadden all the after-years.

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The habit of saying kindly things

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Proverbs 25:11
It is well to form the habit of saying kindly things. Sincere words of commendation, help others to live more worthily and to achieve better things. They should be spoken, too, while people are still alive. Kind words come too late when they are held back until death has closed the ears and chilled the heart when words cannot avail to comfort or help.
Too many people speak the wrong words, too words that hurt, that fall on sensitive feelings like frost on the flowers! They thoughtlessly allude to matters which are of painful interest. They stir up sad or bitter memories in those who are trying to forget them. They lack the godly tact which always turns conversation into pleasant channels.
We should all learn the art of pleasant speech. It is not a matter of elocution or grammar it is a matter of heart culture. Love must be the inspirer, and there must be the grace of thoughtfulness in word and tone.
"The tongue has the power of life and death!" Proverbs 18:21

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How can we ever get there?

"To Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy!" Jude 1:24

Jude's little epistle is full of warnings against disobedience and unbelief. It is well that we remember always, that those who live in sin shall certainly perish forever.

The closing lines of the epistle are full of hope and encouragement for those who keep themselves in the love of God, and look for the mercy of Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

The benediction is singularly beautiful and rich in its assurance. Jesus Christ is able to keep us from stumbling in all our journey through the world. This is a wonderful promise and assurance. Life is full of dangers and temptations and we cannot keep ourselves.

Heaven is promised to us but Heaven is far off and the way is perilous. How can we ever get there? Christ will care for us; He will keep us not only from falling but even from stumbling.

There is something else He will do He will set us before the glory of God without blemish, at last! This twenty-fourth verse alone makes the whole epistle worthy of the place it holds in the sacred Scriptures.

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We are apt to think of shut-in days as lost time

God's purposes never miscarry. Paul was to go to Rome. The obstacles appeared insuperable. Even the elements seemed to be in league to prevent his reaching there.

But through all hindrances the way was opened, and at last he entered Rome and spent two years in prison.

A prison life is not an ideal one for a missionary. But Paul's imprisonment did not limit his usefulness. Indeed, the fact that he was thus under the protection of Rome, made him safe from persecution. That was God's way of providing for him.

We are apt to think of shut-in days as lost time
. One looking at it only superficially might say, "What a pity Paul had to lose those two whole years in prison!" But perhaps no other two years of Paul's life yielded better returns! From his prison, he preached to those who came in. Then four of his epistles were written during that time and they have been blessing the world now for nineteen hundred years.

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Christ can save the worst of them!

"Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" Mark 5:8

Jesus met the fierce demons that no man had been able to control, and they yielded to Him without resistance.

There is no power of evil, which is not subject to His sway. This ought to be a comfort to us in our effort to see wicked men saved. We cannot change them but Christ can. This is the faith that makes missionaries confident as they go among the heathen. Christ can save the worst of them changing them into quiet, peaceable, and gentle Christians.

Some people say they have such bad tempers that they cannot learn self-control. If they will only put their ungovernable tempers into the hands of Christ He can tame them, as He tamed the demoniac.

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My little daughter is dying!

"Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, 'My little daughter is dying! Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.' So Jesus went with him." Mark 5:22-24

Jesus is always quick to respond to calls for help. He went at once with Jairus when his little daughter was dying.

But He is never in a hurry. Although the child was at the point of death, when a poor woman in the throng touched the hem of His garment, with a heart-cry for healing in the touch Jesus gave heed to her and gave her the blessing she sought. He even lingered to talk with her.

By the time He had done this, it seemed that He had waited too long, for word came that the child was dead. But Jesus is just as able to restore the dead as He is to heal the sick.

So His delay in reaching the ruler's house resulted in a greater work, when He raised the dead child to life than if He had hastened and had kept her from dying.

We need never be afraid of Christ's delays He never tarries too long.

We may learn a lesson, too, on the beauty of wayside work. When we are going somewhere on an errand of business we may find opportunities of doing others kindnesses on the way.

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A man may work in a coal mine and have blackened hands and face!

"Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.'" Mark 7:15

It is right for us to preserve cleanliness of body. A filthy person is not a good testimony.

But it is still more important that we have clean hearts. It is not enough to honor God with the lips we must worship Him with our heart. A man may work in a coal mine and have blackened hands and face and yet have a white heart, be pure, sincere, and true in the inward parts. On the other hand, one may have a clean body and yet have a black heart.

If we would please God, we must have our hearts pure even if our bodies are necessarily soiled because we have to work in dust or soot.

"What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'" Mark 7:20-23

The glimpse Jesus shows of the interior of the human heart is not flattering. It is a nest filled with all kinds of evil things!

There is a good deal of talk in some quarters about social rank. A man who works on the streets or in certain occupations is rated way down in the scale. But nothing really degrades a man but sin.

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Life is a mountain climb!

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

If we are truly following Christ the best ever lies ahead of us.

Life is a mountain climb, and we never get to the summit in this world. Paul tells us that he has not yet reached the end of his race. But he is pressing on with inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm. He forgets the things which are behind.

Some people live altogether in their past. They tell you over and over of the great things they have done. Paul had done a great many brave and noble things but he forgot them all, never talked about them, and did not take time to record them he was so eager to get on and to attain loftier heights, to do greater things, to win greater victories. Before him lay the goal with the prize of life, and to this he pressed continually.

It is a noble picture, this old apostle, at an age when many men are retired still reaching forward and holding eyes fixed on the real goal of his life far ahead.

We ought not to lose the lesson.

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A splendid motto for life!

"To me, to live is Christ!" Philippians 1:21

Paul here gives us a splendid motto for life, "To me, to live is Christ."

If they were to  honestly write out the purpose and motive of their life a great many people could not fill out the sentence in that way. Some would write, "To me, to live is to make money;" or "To me, to live is to gratify my appetites."

Every Christian should be able to make Paul's word his own, "To me, to live is Christ."

This means that the one purpose of our living is . . .
  to honor Christ,
  to serve Him,
  to do His will,
  to love and obey Him, and
  to advance His kingdom.

When one lives thus, one never questions the wisdom of any use of his life which Christ may make.
If Jesus wants me to work then that is well.
If He lays me aside to suffer then that is all right.
If He sets aside my plans then I do not complain.
Whether He leads me into sorrow or into joy it matters not.

Our life is His and whatever pleases Him is right.

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Apart from Christ, we can do nothing in Christ, we can do all things!

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." Ephesians 6:10

Paul exhorts us here to be strong in the Lord. Strength is commended as a duty in all the Bible. We are never exhorted to be weak. God is very patient with weakness but He would have it brought to Him, and then it becomes strength.

Life is not easy for us. All its best things have to be won in struggle. Only he who overcomes can receive the reward.

It is a comfort to us to know that He in whose name we are to be strong, is the Mighty One. He overcame the world, and thus is able to help us in all our battles. No one ever can be defeated who has Christ for his Friend and Helper.

Apart from Christ, we can do nothing in Christ, we can do all things!

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The true Christian home

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Colossians 3:18-21

Nothing in this world means more to God than a beautiful home of love and prayer.

Our chapter for today is given to suggestions as to the making of a home. Each member of the family has a share.

There is the husband's part. He must love his wife and give himself to her, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. This is a high order of love.

The wife has a part. She is to love her husband and live for her home.

There is a part also for parents. They care for their children. They train and teach them. They show them how to live. They are the revealers and interpreters of God to them.

There is a part also in the home for the children. They are to obey their parents.

The true Christian home is one in which love rules, and where each one fills his own place.

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It is a sad home in which the baby never grows

"Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Ephesians 4:15-16

Some are apostles, some evangelists, some pastors, some teachers, and some helpers only in small ways. But every Christian has something to do!

If the smallest wheel in a watch fails to do its part then the watch stops. If the least Christian in a church neglects his duty then the whole church suffers. No one should ever say, "My little work will not be missed I am so small and weak." No Christian is unimportant.

The purpose of the Church is the perfecting of the saints. We all begin as little children, only babies but we are not to continue infants.

It is a sad home in which the baby never grows
and at four or five years of age, is a baby still. Yet there are Christians four or five years old who are no farther on than when they were born! The work of the Church is to stimulate the growth of each Christian and develop and train him so that he will attain "to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:13

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If He does not do what we wish!

"Unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." Ephesians 3:20

It is a comfort to us to know, when we pray that God is able to do for us all that we ask. Paul tells us that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.

This is not saying that He will actually give us everything we ask for. We sometimes ask for very wrong things. We think they would supply our wants, or satisfy our heart-hungers, or give us the joy we lack. But really they would not. Perhaps they would do us harm. God will not give us these things, no matter how earnestly we ask for them.

We may plead to have some impending trouble or burden averted. God is able to do it we are sure of this. But it may be that His love for us requires that we bear the burden, or endure the sorrow. We may be sure, therefore, that there is nothing we may ask, which God could not do. If He does not do what we wish we know that it is better it should not be done.

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Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by works, is dead!

"Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs what good is it?" James 2:15-16

One may seem very sympathetic when there is a need before him but if he does nothing to relieve the distress, his sympathy is only a pretense.

"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by works, is dead." James 2:17

It is not enough to have a mere intellectual faith. There are people who will believe all the Bible, so far as mental assent to its teachings is concerned and yet who are not a whit the better for it.

The only faith that is of any avail, is that which draws the life after it in obedience. We must show our faith in our works, and by our works.

If we believe God, we must surrender our lives to Him absolutely.

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Nothing in our lives is too small for God's notice!

"Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:30

God is interested in everything in our lives, in our smallest daily affairs as well as in our largest spiritual interests. Jesus tells us that the very hairs of our heads are all numbered.

This means that nothing in our lives is too small for God's notice!

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Not an easy lesson to learn!

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me." Matthew 5:11

"But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" Luke 6:27

Christ came into the world to set up the kingdom of Heaven here. The laws of this kingdom, are the laws of Heaven. The Beatitudes contain the substance of these laws. We should study these ideals of character, and then seek to get them into our own lives.

The hatred of men does not seem desirable, and it is only when it is for the sake of Christ that it brings blessing. Loving enemies is not an easy lesson to learn but it is the Christ-like way. If we are to be like our Master we must learn to love as He loves.

The important thing in all this teaching, is to get the lessons down out of Heaven into our common daily life.

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All she had, she gave to Him who had rescued her!

"Her sins, which are many, are forgiven for she loved much." Luke 7:47

The love of Christ has power to change the worst sinner, into the purest saint! The woman we see wetting the feet of Jesus with her tears, and anointing them with ointment was a poor sinful outcast a little while ago.

In an instant a new woman sprang up in her, in place of the old and a moment later she was at the feet of her Savior. Her tears told of her penitence. Her ointment, costly and fragrant, told of honor, of love, and gratitude. It represented her best all she had, she gave to Him who had rescued her!

We all need the blessing which this woman got and we can get it if we come with penitence to Christ's feet.

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Brought at last home to our priceless inheritance!

"We have a priceless inheritance an inheritance that is kept in Heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay!" 1 Peter 1:4

The children of God are heirs to a glorious inheritance. It is not an earthly inheritance but a heavenly one. It is not given to them in full possession in this world but is reserved for them in Heaven. They could not receive it here they have a pilgrimage to make to get to it.

While the inheritance is securely kept for them in Heaven they have the promise of preservation alone the way. They are kept by the power of God through faith.

All our life in this world, is intended to prepare us for receiving our eternal inheritance.
If we have troubles, we need not be afraid we may rejoice in them all.
If we have dangers, we need not be dismayed we have the promise of protection.

Some day we shall see Christ, whom now we love but cannot see. Heaven is sure for all who are faithful in this world. We shall be kept in safety through all of our dangerous journey this world, and brought at last home to our priceless inheritance!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If we are pilgrims on our way to our promised land

"Beloved, I urge you as strangers and pilgrims to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul." 1 Peter 2:11

The assurance of the heavenly home awaiting us, should make us want to live worthily in this world. If we are pilgrims on our way to our promised land there are sinful things which we should promptly put out of our lives.

We ought to train ourselves to do here, the things we shall continue to do when we get to our eternal home.

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One of the secrets of a happy wedded life!

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:1-4

The religion of Christ has its definite teachings for everybody.

The Christian wife should want to win her husband for Christ. In this she can do best, not by perpetual nagging but by making her own life so attractive, that her husband will be convinced of the reality and the power of the Christ who is in her.

It is right for the wife to dress beautifully but the adorning that will give her the widest influence as a winner of souls is not that of the body the braiding of the hair, the wearing of jewels, or the putting on of showy clothes. A woman's real adornment is not of the body but of the life and character; as Peter put it, "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit."

There is a word here also for husbands as well. "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect." 1 Peter 3:7. They are to be gentle, patient, kind, thoughtful using their strength for the comfort and help of their wives.

In this lesson, lies one of the secrets of a happy wedded life.

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This lesson cannot be repeated too often!

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

We call John the Apostle of Love but the other New Testament writers give equal emphasis to the duty of Christian love. The most wonderful chapter ever written in order to extol love is by Paul the matchless thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians.

Then Peter also exhorts that "Above all" that is, even above prayer, we are to be fervent in our love among ourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins. That is, love overlooks even a multitude of faults and blemishes and sins in others.

This lesson cannot be repeated too often
. We do not naturally love people it is something we have to learn to do. If Paul's definition is to be regarded as the standard then most of us have a good deal yet to learn about loving before we reach it. Peter also makes the lesson strong, exhorting us to love each other deeply that is, to be warm, tender, affectionate in our loving of each other.

The only way to get such Christian love into our lives is to experience Christ's own love in our own hearts.

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The lesson of patience is not easy to learn

"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains." James 5:7

The lesson of patience is not easy to learn
yet it is vitally important that we should learn it.

Impatience is the secret of many sad failures. Impatience is letting go when only by holding on can we succeed.

A man spent a fortune in drilling for oil. At last he got discouraged and sold his well for a trifle. The new owner started the drill, and in two hours found a great flow of oil. If the first man's patience had held out those two hours, he would have found success.

Many people miss answers to their prayers, by giving up a little too soon. Our lesson teaches us to be patient in waiting for blessing in our work.

The farmer sows his seed and waits for the harvest to come. Months pass but his confidence in the providence of God makes him patient, and at last he reaps his reward.

We have the promise of God for blessing upon those who will be faithful. We should never doubt, whatever the delays may be. Only those who are patient can get the blessing.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

His life was no more planned by God than yours or mine!

"He shall be great in the sight of the Lord." Luke 1:15

George Macdonald says, "To have been thought about by God, and then made by God is the dearest, grandest, most precious thought in all thinking." John the Baptist was thought about before he was born. His life was a plan of God. What he was to do, was marked out for him before his birth.

"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." We are not to suppose either that there was anything peculiar about John in this regard. His life was no more planned by God than yours or mine! Every Christian's life is planned by God.

We do not come into this life on any haphazard chance. Every Christian is sent from God. Everyone was made for something, some work of his very own, which no other one can do, with a place to fill and a definite task to perform.

The most beautiful and complete life, therefore, is one that realizes God's purposes for it.

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The divinest thing in life!

The little that is told us of the first thirty years of the life of Jesus, is very suggestive. We have only a few glimpses but they are full of meaning.

The record of the first twelve years is all comprised in one sentence: "And the child grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him." Luke 2:40

He grew as other children grow. There was nothing precocious about Him.

At twelve years of age He went to His first Passover. Luke 2:42

Then the record of the following eighteen years is told in another single sentence: "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." Luke 2:52. We know that He was subject to His parents, thus teaching a great lesson which every child ought to learn.

We know that He was a carpenter. People often wonder that He wrought no miracles in those years but miracles are not the only revealings of divineness.

The divinest thing in life is to live sweetly, patiently, unselfishly, obediently in plain and holy ways.

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Nothing means more to us in the great struggles of our lives!

"Jesus was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days" Luke 4:1-2

One reason that Jesus was tempted, was that He might know by experience what temptation means to His followers.

In one of the galleries of Europe, there is a picture of an angel standing near the empty cross touching the sharp points of the thorns in the crown of thorns.

The artist's thought is that the angel had looked on the sufferings of Christ with wonder. He could not understand them. The angels have never suffered, and hence there is nothing in the angel nature or experience to interpret suffering. This angel in the picture is pressing his fingers upon the sharp thorn-points trying to understand what pain is.

It was necessary that Jesus should suffer Himself that He might understand our sufferings. He was tempted in all points that He might sympathize with us in our temptations.

Nothing means more to us in the great struggles of our lives than to remember that Christ has felt what we are feeling, and sympathizes with us.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are." Hebrews 4:15

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The hidden manna which nourishes all who eat it

"My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me." John 4:34

The Christian life finds its true nourishment, in doing the will of God.

The disciples had left Him hungry by the well. They come back and found Him not needing food, and He explained it by saying, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me." He had been feeding a starving soul and that had fed His own hunger.

The secret of a well-nourished spiritual life
, is obedience and service.

Sin never satisfies for it is disobedience.

Selfishness never satisfies for only he who loves, truly lives.

If we do the will of God, we shall find food for our souls in every obedience and every sacrifice of love.

If we would learn the secret of living without weariness we must learn to do the will of God. This is the hidden manna which nourishes all who eat it.

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Whence comes your fragrance?

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." Titus 2:11-12

Christian duty touches all relations of life. It does not have to do only with sermons and prayer-meetings. It includes all other actions. It tells us the kind of life we ought to live gentle, showing meekness and patience even toward those who seem not easy to get long with.

Once we were not Christians, and did not know the law of love but lived in malice and envy, hateful and hating others. But now the kindness of God and His love have touched our lives, and we are to put away the things of our old life.

There is a legend of a gardener who found a lump of fragrant clay, and asked, "Whence comes your fragrance?" The answer was, "One laid me on a rose." When the love of God touches our lives we ought to absorb its spirit, its sweetness. Christian duty teaches us to live the life of Christ amid the world's evil.

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Heaven had to be won on the battle-field of life

"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 2:3

"He who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:22

"He who overcomes will inherit all this and I will be his God and he will be My son." Revelation 21:7

One of the secrets of a true Christian life, is readiness to endure. Anybody can begin well but it is he who perseveres to the end who wins success. We are to be soldiers of Christ soldiers must know how to endure. Softness and luxury belong not to a true Christian life.

Some mothers would keep their boys out of all hardness, away from all struggle but that is not likely to make men of them. Imagine a soldier in training, who is kept out of battles, lest he might get hurt! Paul spoke of himself as one who contended in the games. He wished to reach heaven but he knew that Heaven had to be won on the battle-field of life. "If we endure we shall also reign with Him."

In the letters to the seven churches, in Revelation, all the blessings offered to the faithful lie beyond lines of battle and the only way to reach them is by entering the struggle and enduring until we receive the crown. Nothing worthy can be reached by him who has not learned to persevere.

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Only when we are ready for implicit, unquestioning obedience

"May Your will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven." Matthew 6:10

Some people quote this petition always as if it meant only submission to some painful providence. They suppose it refers only to losing friends or money, or to adversity or calamity. But it is for the doing of God's will not the suffering of it, that we here pray.

It is easier, however, to make prayers like this for other people than for ourselves. We all think others ought to do God's will, and we do not find it a difficult prayer to make that they may do so. If, however, we offer this prayer sincerely, it is for ourselves that we may do God's will. We can pray it, therefore, only when we are ready for implicit, unquestioning obedience. Or it may mean . . .
  the giving up of some sweet joy,
  the losing of some precious friend,
  the sacrifice of some dear presence, or
  the going in some way of thorns and tears.

We should learn always to make the prayer, and then to hold our life close to the divine will, never rebelling or murmuring but sweetly doing or bearing what God gives us to do or bear.

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One day every secret thing will come out!

"Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs!" Luke 12:2-3

Christ wants genuineness in His friends and followers.

The sin which He condemned most unsparingly when He was on the earth, was hypocrisy men trying to pass for what they were not. There is still a great deal of hypocrisy in the world, and there is still the same need for insisting upon genuineness and sincerity.

Jesus shows how useless and unavailing it is to try to cover up things and to seem to be what we are not. "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known."

People commit sins in the darkness, sins that would blacken their names if they were known. They suppose nobody suspects what they are doing in secret. But one day every secret thing will come out! Even now, secret evil often works out, and blots and stains the life.

The only safe way to live is to be sincere, genuine, true down to the bottom of one's heart always as good and true in the secret things, as in the most public things of life.

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He performed a thousand little common kindnesses!

"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them." Matthew 9:35-36

Jesus was always going about doing good. He did a great many miracles but there is reason to believe that, for every miracle he wrought, He performed a thousand little common kindnesses.

Our verses tell the story of we know not how many of these little kindnesses as He went through the hamlets and country towns. No doubt each of the villages through which He passed was enriched by His coming. He left sicknesses healed, sorrows comforted, homes brightened, children blessed. For weeks and months the people would talk about His visit and the kindnesses He wrought.

Sometimes Jesus would take a long journey just to help one person. For example, His visit to Nain was made for the purpose of meeting a mother on her way to the grave with the dead body of her only son. He met the funeral procession and restored the boy to his mother.

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A picture of the way God receives those who come back from sin's wanderings

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

It seems strange to us that any son should be so foolish as to leave a good home of love and happiness for a far country, with its disappointment, debasement, and degradation. But it is always the story of human sin.

The part of the teaching which concerns us most, is the return of the lost boy, and the way he was received by his father when he came back. A vision of the old home came to him in his want and wretchedness and that drew him back. He came to himself and saw his folly.

The boy's reception is a picture of the way God receives those who come back from sin's wanderings. The father was watching, and saw his returning boy far off. He ran to meet him.

In the same way, God is ever watching for the first thought and act of penitence, and hastens to meet the returning one.

We may be glad that this parable is in the Gospel for no one need ever be afraid now to come back to God.

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The only friends he had were the dogs!

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores." Luke 16:19-21

In this world, the rich man seemed to have the better of it. He had all that human heart could wish, of wealth, splendor, luxury, and power.

The beggar had a hard time in life. Nobody cared for him in his need the only friends he had were the dogs.

But things were changed when the two men died.

The beggar died first. Nobody mourned him, and there were no flowers but he was carried by the angels into the place of blessedness.

The rich man died too death cannot be bribed. He must have had a great funeral, with pageantry and splendor. Just as he was being lauded on earth the man was then in Hell in torment, seeing the beggar now far above him, in blessedness.

The lesson is that not what one has but what one is, which counts with God. A poor man who loves God and his fellow man and is faithful in all duty is richer by far than the millionaire who never thinks of God nor cares for his fellows.

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Two mites

"As He looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two mites. "I tell you the truth," He said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." Luke 21:1-4

It seems hardly worth while to give two mites to God. But God takes as careful note of the smallest gifts, as of the largest. That day in the temple the widow's mite amounted to more in His sight than all the large gifts which the rich men gave.
She gave all and had nothing left.
They gave large sums and had large sums remaining.

God is pleased with the smallest things that are done for Him, if they are done in love and faith.

Someone said that Jesus built three monuments when He was on the earth:
  one for the widow who gave the two mites,
  one for the man who gave a cup of cold water to another who was thirsty, and  the third for
  the woman who brought the alabaster box, of whom He said, "She has done what she could."

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How much did he leave?

"Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle!" Proverbs 23:5

People are badly cheated in this world. They imagine that the things they can see are the real things that the gold, lands, and stocks are the true treasures. So they toil for those things and gather them into their possession, piling up what they suppose to be wealth. Thus they live in pomp, with their fine houses, and all their brilliant show. They call themselves millionaires.

But one day their supposed riches sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Or they may keep their wealth, perhaps, and die at last in the midst of it, and have a great funeral but they find that they cannot carry a penny of it with them.

"How much did he leave?" was asked about a rich man who had died. "All of it!" was the answer.

If only people knew that there are eternal treasures which will never fly away they would no longer live for fleeting worldly wealth. They would pass by the glittering trifles to lay hold of the true riches. He who is rich toward God is the truly wealthy man!

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As we go out day by day into life's unopened paths

"But He knows the way that I take. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold!" Job 23:10

Jesus always knows what we will find on any road we may take. He knows what each and every tomorrow will be for us. We cannot map out a single day but He knows all. Our life is not a haphazard thing. The events and incidents of our days, are not accidents. They are all part of His plan for us. We meet a stranger. We say we met him by chance but that chance meeting shapes all our future. Christ planned it.

If we understand this, it cannot but give confidence to us as we go out day by day into life's unopened paths. We do not know what lies before us what experiences, duties, obstacles and hindrances, what sorrows and trials; but there is One who sees and knows it all and He is our Friend and Guide. If we are ready simply to do His will, to follow His instructions we shall find all prepared for our journey.

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It paints them just as they are blemishes and all

"The disciples came to Jesus and asked: Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?" Matthew 18:1

The Bible does not hide the faults of its saints. It paints them just as they are blemishes and all. The disciples joined in a selfish scramble for office, thinking that their Master was to be an earthly king.

There are ambitions and scrambles of the same kind, even among Christian people in our own day. Of course it is no excuse for them, that Christ's apostles set the example. We ought to be a good deal better than the apostles were for we have more light, greater privileges and better opportunities.

Yet there is one right way of wishing to be great in Christ's kingdom. It is right for us to long to be great Christians that is, have much of the spirit of Christ. One used to pray, "Lord, make me an exemplary Christian!" That was right. Paul pressed ever toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. A hymn gives the prayer of many hearts: "Nearer, my God, to Thee."

If it is spiritual greatness we long for it is a mark of living faith.
To be satisfied with our present spiritual attainments is a mark of sad decline.

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He sympathizes with them, but

"As one whom his mother comforts so will I comfort you." Isaiah 66:13

Everyone knows how a mother comforts her child. It is not so much by words as by love's tenderness.

In times of great sorrow, we do not care to hear arguments and reasons; we want simply to rest in silence on the bosom of love.

Jesus put God's comfort among the Beatitudes: "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." There must be something very precious, very rich in comfort which makes it worth while even to have sorrow to get it.

Some of us think we are comforting people when we sit down beside them in their trouble and sympathize with them, as we call it, going down into the depths with them but doing nothing to lift them up. To comfort is to strengthen.

We comfort others truly, when we make them stronger to endure, when we enable them to pass through their sorrows victoriously. That is the way Christ comforts. He sympathizes with them, but it is that He may make them strong to endure.

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We please God best

"Go and tell my servant David, This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build a house for Me to dwell in?" 2 Samuel 7:5

The Lord did not reprove David for his desire to build a temple for Him. Elsewhere God said to him, "you did well that it was in your heart." If we are desirous of doing some service for God, which is not His will that we should do He is pleased with our wish to serve Him, though He declines the offer.

Another suggestion here, is that everyone has his own particular part to do in the Lord's work. David was not to build the temple that was Solomon's mission but David had other things to do which were equally important. Part of David's mission was to be the hymn-writer for the ancient Church. Who thinks it would have been a grander thing for David to build a temple of stone and gold and cedar?

That gorgeous house where is it now? But David's psalms are living yet and are sung everywhere. To every man his work. We please God best when we accept, and do well and cheerfully, that which God has given to us to do.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He can take the most hopeless moral ruin

"When Jesus arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met Him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way." Matthew 8:28

It looks as if Jesus crossed the sea, just to heal these demoniacs. At least He returned as soon as He had done this one act of mercy.

It is worth a great effort to show even one little kindness to a person in trouble. These demoniacs were a terror to the neighborhood. But Jesus left them sitting, clothed and in their right mind.

He can take the most hopeless moral ruin and restore it to spiritual beauty!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

In the heart of the Redeemer!

"I will never leave you, nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

The word "never" is emphatic. It covers every possible condition and all circumstances. God will never, never forsake us. The closest human friendship is not absolutely sure; even a mother may forsake her child. But God's love never fails.

Each believer in Christ is sure of a place all his own in the heart of the Redeemer!

"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3

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Penitence is welcomed to His feet but hypocrisy is denounced

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" Matthew 23:29

"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to Hell?" Matthew 23:33

Usually we see the gentle phases of Christ's character and teaching. He is compassionate toward suffering and sorrow. He is so gentle that He will not break a bruised reed, nor quench a dimly burning wick.

But here we see Him in a severe and stern aspect. He speaks to the Pharisees in scathing denunciations. They taught the truths of God but did not live them. They made great display of devoutness but it was only that men might think them religious.

The Master's arraignment of the Pharisees was terribly severe. But the same lips that uttered these woes also uttered the Beatitudes and the gracious invitations to the weary and the heavy-laden.

Christ is holy as well as loving.

Penitence is welcomed to His feet but hypocrisy is denounced

In the last verses of this chapter we see both aspects. He arraigns Jerusalem for the murder of the prophets and the rejection of Heaven's messengers, and then tells how He would have gathered the people in love but they would not.

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We live in a world of peril and danger!

"He who endures unto the end shall be saved." Matthew 24:13

We live in a world of peril and danger! The day which opens with calmness and beauty may end in disaster and severe trial.

The words of the Master here tell of great calamities wars and rumors of wars, the clashing of nations, famines, earthquakes; and these, He says, would be but the beginning of troubles. There would be persecution for His friends, which would try their loyalty and in these testings, many would fail. Only those who would endure to the end shall be saved.

We have this comfort in all life's trials. We cannot avoid suffering. We must meet temptation but we know that if only we continue faithful, resisting even unto blood, no temptation can harm us. If we endure to the end we shall be saved. Nothing can wrest us out of Christ's hands nothing but unfaithfulness.

If we endure, we shall come out victors over every enemy and every danger through Him who loves us.

"In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For 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 8:37-39

   ~  ~  ~  ~

They are condemned for sins of omission!

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left." Matthew 25:31-33

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:46

Our Lord's account of the Judgment is wonderfully suggestive.

There will be a great separation on that day of days. Men's relation to Christ will determine their destiny. Great crimes are not charged against those who are assigned to the King's left hand the charge is that they have failed to be kind to those who needed kindness. They are condemned for sins of omission!

This is a startling truth. We sin against Christ, when we pass by His people who are suffering or are in need of help.

Another wonderful revelation here is that Christ puts Himself in the place of His friends in this world so that what we do to them, we do to Him. When we neglect one of His people, even the lowliest, we neglect Him. "I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink."

This should make us kind to every needy or suffering Christian who comes before us. It may be Christ! It will be very sad if we turn Him away hungry from our doors!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It seems to have been the nurse's fault!

"Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became crippled. His name was Mephibosheth." 2 Samuel 4:4

It seems to have been the nurse's fault!
She ran with the child and stumbled and he was crippled for life!

There are a great many men and women lamed for life, by somebody's stumbling. They may not necessarily limp; the lameness may be in their souls but that is worse than physical laming. One may be lame in one's feet and yet be beautiful in character.

But the laming of a soul leaves a moral blemish, which may be carried into eternity! It is a terrible thing for anyone by a moment's carelessness or by a misstep to send a man lame and helpless through life. It is worse still to cripple a life, a character, for the eternal years! We cannot be too careful how we live.

Jesus spoke no more solemn words than what He said about the person who causes one of His little ones to stumble into sin. If we live heedlessly we may do this.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea!" Matthew 18:6

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The goal of true Christian living!

"David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them: May the Lord bless you, because you have shown this kindness to Saul when you buried him." 2 Samuel 2:5

We must remember how Saul had treated David, hunting him among the hills as if he had been a wild beast! Yet David never showed any resentment. Twice, at least, he had spared Saul's life, when the king was in his power. Through all those days of bitter experience, David's heart remained loving, free from resentment and bitterness.

When Saul died, David's grief expressed itself in an lament full of tender feeling. Now, when he learned of the kindness shown by the people of Jabesh-gilead to Saul's dead body his heart was gladdened, and he was deeply grateful.

All this is evidence of a magnanimous spirit. It is the very spirit which Jesus commended, a thousand years later as that which belongs to the kingdom of Heaven.

The goal of true Christian living is to keep the heart always sweet, and always to have warmth within whatever the weather without.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

One of the finest qualities in manhood

"Therefore, be strong and courageous." 2 Samuel 2:7

Courage is one of the finest qualities in manhood.

In the world, courage is rated so high, that its absence makes a man an object of contempt. No insult stings more deeply than to be called a coward. Courage is often associated with war. But we do not need to wait for war to give us a chance to be courageous. There is a higher courage than that which shows itself in brave deeds on a battlefield.

It takes courage to be holy, amid all the world's temptations to be false.
It requires courage to do what is right, when the multitude about us is doing things that are wrong.
It takes courage to confess Christ before the world.

We all need to have our hands strengthened only God can make us strong for the service to which He calls us. We are set to fight the battles of the Lord. We have victories to win against evil, against sin. Without a brave heart and a strong hand we shall not be able to stand for God and for truth in this world.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Nothing that is unholy should be used

"So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me." 1 Kings 5:6

Solomon was determined to put nothing but the best into the Temple. Nothing imperfect, nothing unworthy must go into that building for God.

In the same way, in the building of our character nothing that is unholy should be used.

We should read the best books, so as to build into our life-temple only the purest thoughts.

Our friendships have much to do with the making of our character, and therefore we should have only good and true friends.

Above all, we should read the Bible, for it contains God's words and thoughts. They are all the whitest, purest marble, and there is no blemish or flaw anywhere in them.

Then we should have the companionship of Christ, for He is the truest, the most inspiring Friend anyone can have.

We should put into other lives, only the best. We should never give a touch to any character, through word, disposition, act, or influence of ours which is not pure enough to appear before Christ's holy eyes.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Having God accept and use something of ours

"I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy this place you have built where My name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart." 1 Kings 9:3

No privilege that could be granted to anyone in this world is so great as that of having God accept and use something of ours.

One writes a hymn, like "Rock of Ages," and God accepts it. Thousands sing it, and are lifted by it nearer to God.

Or one writes a book, and Christ accepts it and allows it to carry blessing to many people, giving . . .
  comfort in sorrow,
  strength in weakness,
  light in darkness,
  guidance in perplexity.

Instead of making one proud to be thus used by God it should make one more humble. Especially should he walk softly and carefully now, since God is using him.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

What is Christ to us personally?

"Who do you say that I am?" Matthew 16:15

It really does matter what one thinks about Christ.

For example, if we consider Him as only a man, we may admire His personal character and His teachings but we cannot trust Him as our Savior. A mere man could not make atonement for our sins by His death. A mere man could not . . .
  deliver us in temptation,
  help us in weakness, nor
  guide us in the tangled paths of life.

But if we believe in Christ as a divine being then all this is changed. His death was of sufficient value to atone for all of our sins. He is able to defend, deliver, and save His people.

What is Christ to us personally? Is He only in our creed or is He our personal Savior, our friend, our Lord? It is this form of the question that most concerns us.

There is only one person for whose opinions and beliefs we are individually responsible, and that is ourselves.
Then, mere opinions are not enough; we must have a personal, living faith in Christ if we would be saved.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

There is need for consecrated pens

"I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears." 2 Corinthians 2:4

One who can write what people will read has a wide opportunity of doing good. There is need for consecrated pens. One can write helpfully only when living victoriously.

We are apt not to realize the cost at which we receive the good we get from helpful books. We read the smooth, graceful sentences with delight. They impart to us instruction, inspiration, comfort, and courage. We give little thought to the writer or we think of him as one who wields a facile pen. It rarely occurs to us to think of him as one who has endured pain or suffered loss, or passed through sorrow in order that he might give us the words in which we find so much help.

But the truth is, that no strengthening thought comes to us from the pen of another without great cost. Men and women must live deeply before they can write hopefully. We cannot teach lessons which we have not learned; and we cannot learn such lessons except in the 'school of experience'.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Long life is not in itself a blessing

"Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor!" Proverbs 3:16

Long life is not in itself a blessing.

There is a legend of one who had a promise that the thing he asked for, whatever it might be he would get. He prayed that he might not die, and his request was granted. He lived on and on. But he had forgotten to ask that he might not grow old and so his gift became an intolerable burden.

There is no doubt that right living tends to longevity. Sin shortens life.

One year of wise and Christ-like living, earnest and faithful is better than ten years of selfishness and sin.

"Riches and honor" are part of wisdom's portion. It may not be this world's riches and honor. True riches are those we can carry out of this world with us!

Wisdom teaches us how to use even money, so that it shall enrich us in eternity.
What we keep and spend on ourselves we lose.
What we give away in Christ's name is all we really make our own forever.
What we sacrifice for Christ we shall find again and have forever.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Indeed, He is in every providence of our lives

"The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter: It is the Lord!" John 21:7

We all have some friend whom we can identify anywhere by his acts. Among a hundred voices, we know the voice of the one who is dear to us. Even the step on the street or on the pavement outside we know from within, though we see not the face or the form, and our heart promptly says, "That is his step!"

Are we so quick to recognize Christ, by the blessings He brings to us? Every success in business ought to awe and impress us and lead us to say, "It is the Lord!" Every time a blessing comes to us we ought to remember that there is an unseen One standing veiled close beside us that it is Jesus Himself from whose hands the gift of love comes. Indeed, He is in every providence of our lives.

Some of these providences are dark and perplexing yet always the strange Form, standing in the dim twilight, is the Lord.

Do we always recognize Him? If we did, would it not often quiet our fears and bring peace to our hearts?

   ~  ~  ~  ~

There are things it is better we should not know beforehand

"It is not for you to know the times or dates which the Father has set by His own authority." Acts 1:7

The disciples were anxious to know about the future to have a sort of program or chart of the coming years. They were somewhat inclined to speculation.

Jesus taught them that they had nothing to do with the times and dates, which were in the Father's authority. They did not need to trouble themselves about these things.

The lesson is important for all of us. There are things it is better we should not know beforehand. Indeed, it is a merciful provision, that we cannot see into the future. If we could see the sorrows, struggles, defeats, and trials that we shall have to meet before we get home our bright days would be saddened by anticipation of these things!

As it is, we go on unconscious of shadows that lie before us, living as if all are clear and bright, trusting God for the future. Then when we come to the hard points God gives us grace to meet them.

"As your days so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25

"My grace is sufficient for you" 2 Corinthians 12:9

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is in this way that God would train us for noble character and for larger usefulness

"The men of Judah came to Hebron and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah." 2 Samuel 2:4

David had been a long time in preparation for his place.

When only a boy he was anointed but he was not fit then to be a king. He was taken to Saul's court, where he learned much about the ways of kings.

The envy of Saul seemed a bitter thing to break into such a happy career as David's. But this too had its place in his training. It taught him patience and self-control. It forced him out among the people away from luxury and refinement into caves and mountains, where he learned how the common people lived, and was taught sympathy with men in their hardships and trials.

He was a better king afterward, because of his long years of persecution and exile. In these and in other ways, was David made ready for his duties as king.

We must not think it strange if we are called to endure trials, temptations, hardships, and suffering in- our earlier years for it is in this way that God would train us for noble character and for larger usefulness.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Pure friendship

"King David asked him, 'Is anyone still alive from Saul's family? If so, I want to show God's kindness to them.'
Ziba replied, 'Yes, one of Jonathan's sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.'
So David sent for him and brought him from Makir's home. His name was Mephibosheth." 2 Samuel 9

This showed David's unselfishness. This poor lame man could not be of any use to him. It was the pure friendship of David's heart for Jonathan, that hungered to show kindness to someone who had belonged to Jonathan.

Friendship is true, just in proportion as it is unselfish. If we care for a person and do things for him only for what we expect or hope to get in return let us not desecrate the sacred name of friendship by applying it to our regard. We must love our friends for their sake, not for our own.

There is really very much unselfish love in this world. We see it in many homes where an invalid wife, child, brother or sister is loved and cared for by the whole household with almost divine tenderness.

The misfortune that mars the beauty and makes the loved one a burden only makes the love the stronger, truer, gentler.

All friendship must have the same unselfishness.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

This was his time of greatest danger!

"When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do" 1 Kings 9:1

There is a measure of moral safety in work.

While Solomon was busy, he was in less danger of being led away from God. At length, however, his magnificent projects were all completed, and he was ready to enjoy the ease and the fame, which he had earned in his years of wonderful activity.

Instead, however, of being a time of security this was his time of greatest danger! There is peril in popularity. It brings flattery, which often becomes almost adoration. One who is so honored, does not always remain humble and lowly.

Solomon's leisure time also brought danger.

So Solomon was now in a perilous condition. He was not conscious, however, of his danger and this made it all the worse.

Life is full of unsuspected perils, and our safety lies in committing the keeping of our souls to God, who sees every hidden peril. Then, if we would help toward our own security we must keep hand and heart full of the Master's work!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The world is like a deep, black sea its black waters of sin being full of lost souls!

"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

We must be ready to break any ties which Christ bids us to break, in order to become one with Him. We must become His disciples before we can become workers.

The first thing always is personal attachment to Christ, the disengaging of ourselves from all other masters, and the devoting of ourselves altogether to Him. When we have entered His company we receive from His hand a work to do.

The world is like a deep, black sea its black waters of sin being full of lost souls
. The work of Christ and His followers, is to draw these lost ones out of the dark floods and save them.

Sometimes the waters in which these lost ones lie are very foul but we ought not to shrink from our work on this account. Christ Himself went down into the blackest waters of sin to find and save the lost. Once He drew out a "woman who was a sinner"; another time it was a vile tax collector; and again, it was a thief dying on a cross.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

No way of getting up but by pulling others down!

"If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice." 2 Samuel 15:4

It is very easy to criticize others, and imagine how much better we would do if we were in their place.

First Absalom poisoned the people's mind toward David by giving the impression that the king was neglectful, and that the people were suffering wrong through his neglect. Next he suggested how different matters would be if he were judge in his father's place. The treachery of such words we can see. He cared nothing for the people's wrongs. He thought only of destroying their confidence in David, and winning them to himself.

There always are people who think of no way of getting up but by pulling others down. It is very easy for any of us, by careless words, and even unintentionally, to disparage others and indirectly suggest how much better we would perform their duties if they were ours.

It requires a noble heart and most watchful care, never to be envious of others.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

David's autobiography is altogether different

"Therefore I will give thanks unto You, O Lord." 2 Samuel 22:50

The keynote of David's hymn is praise. He saw God's hand in all the events of his life.
God had girded him with strength;
God had made his enemies turn their backs;
God had delivered him from the strivings of the people.

Great military men sometimes write autobiographies glorifying themselves, explaining how this and that battle was won, showing how their valor or their strategy was the secret of the success on this or that field thus weaving a crown of honor for themselves. David's autobiography is altogether different. He hides himself away, and honors God.

It is only when we are willing to be nothing, that God may be all in all that we become really great spiritually. We are but the earthen vessels which God fills with blessing. No matter how much good we may do in this world, it is not us who really do it but God through us and in us.

Just so far, then, as we recognize this truth, do we attain the highest possible place in Christian life.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Whatever gifts of mind or heart we possess

"God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore!" 1 Kings 4:29

We must notice here first, that it was God who gave Solomon these gifts which meant so much to him in his career as king. His wisdom and understanding were not simply the results of his own study, thought, and experience.

Of course, men get wisdom through experience. Study and reading give men knowledge of books, and develop their mental power. But we must remember that whatever gifts of mind or heart we possess have been bestowed upon us by God Himself.

We should always think of Him as the owner of our life, with all its powers and possibilities. This should inspire in us gratitude to God. Then it should lead us to use all our faculties and powers in the service of God.

So long as Solomon did this, he was blessed. It was through the influence of luxury, that his heart was drawn away from God and he began to fall. No sin can be more terrible, than the perversion of great gifts from right to wrong uses.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The more we know of God

"The Lord . . . who had appeared unto him twice." 1 Kings 11:9

Old Matthew Henry says: "God keeps account of the gracious visits He makes us, whether we do or not. He knows how often He has appeared to us and for us and will remember it against us, if we turn from Him."

The more we know of God
, and the greater the favor He shows us the sorer is our sin if we forsake Him and go back to sin.

When Solomon had seen the Lord in vision, not once only, but twice he should have been forever a man consecrated to God.
The eyes that had looked upon the Lord should never have lusted after earth's pleasures.
The hands that had fashioned a glorious temple for God never should have built altars for heathen deities.
Solomon's sins were far greater because of the favors God had granted him.

Have we seen Christ? Has He appeared to us in prayer, or at the holy table? Let us not forget that having seen Christ should set us apart forever for His service and for holy living.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

There is a fable of a wonderful ring which a prince wore!

"Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel: "Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there!" 2 Kings 6:9

Nothing is hidden from God. We are told that the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation.

Here we have an illustration of this. The Lord knew the plans of the king of Syria to entrap the king of Israel. He made known these plans to Elisha, and he in turn told the king of Israel of the ambush, that he might save himself from the peril.

The Bible gives us many such warnings. In such and such paths it tells us, it is not safe for us to go, for Satan walks there.

There is a fable of a wonderful ring which a prince wore, that clasped his finger softly while he went in right ways but stung him sharply whenever he was in danger of going in some wrong path.

That is what conscience does. If only we heeded the warnings of our conscience, we would never get into places of danger except when duty called us there and then we should have protection, for when God sends us, He will take care of us.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He accepts our purposes, and blesses us for good intentions

"David said to Solomon: My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God. But this word of the LORD came to me: You are not to build a house for my Name." 1 Chronicles 22:7-8

There are many people who do preparatory work.

A man goes to the West and clears off a piece of ground, building a crude log hut. His son follows him, and in the midst of broad, rich acres erects a palatial home. The father's work was just as necessary and important, in its place, as the son's.

One set of men make the excavation for a great building, and put in the foundations. For weeks they toil away under ground and then another set of men come, and the walls rise up and a magnificent building is erected. The foundation work is buried but who will say it is less important than the splendid house built above?

It is the same in all Christian work. One prepares the way and another follows and speaks the word which saves. To each one God allots a part, and if we do our own work, God asks nothing more. He accepts our purposes, and blesses us for good intentions though others carry them out.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

This is the abyss from which we have been saved by the grace of God

"The wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness." Romans 1:18

It is well that we sometimes have a glimpse of some of the outcomes of sin, that we may know what a terrible thing it is. Such a glimpse Paul gives us in our reading for today. There would not seem to be much in this fearful portrayal to give us comfort or cheer. Yet the black picture has its suggestion of praise this is the abyss from which we have been saved by the grace of God.

Someone illustrates the greatness of salvation, by two visions.

First, he had a vision of the awful fruits of sin. "That," said his guide, "is what in the ages of eternity you would have been, if you had gone on in sin, unredeemed."

Then he was shown the glories of the redeemed. He saw hosts of angels dwelling in ineffable glory, and beyond and above these, in the far distance, he beheld beings transcendently radiant and glorious.

"That," said the guide, "is yourself ages hence. Behold the bliss and glory into which your Savior will bring you!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Doctrines are the roots from which duties grow

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:1-2

After eleven chapters of doctrine we have now five chapters of the most practical sort of teaching. Doctrines are the roots from which duties grow.

Roots are necessary to beautiful plants, and doctrines are necessary to duties. Moralities without doctrines at the back of them, are rootless plants.

The two phrases, "as living sacrifices," and "be transformed," give us the key of all the beautiful lessons in this chapter. We are to give ourselves to Christ as a sacrifice laid upon the altar and are to grow into all divine loveliness of disposition and character.

We can realize the beauty of the Christian life, only by surrendering ourselves wholly to Christ. Then shall we be in reality transformed into the likeness of Christ.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A most exacting master!

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking . . ." 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

It is not enough to know that a certain course is not wrong that we have a right to do certain things.

If there were no other people in the world but ourselves, none to be considered in deciding what we might do or may not do then it would be quite easy to settle on our duty. But there are other people everywhere, and we have got to think of them in deciding what we have a right to do.

A man has a right to have a radio in his house, and to have it playing loudly every night until midnight. It is nobody's matter but his own. But suppose there is a sick man living next door, and that the noise of the radio disturbs him at night then what is the duty of the man with the radio?

Love comes in then, and tells him he must give up his "right" and sacrifice his pleasure for the sake of another. Love is a most exacting master. It makes us give up our rights and our pride and our ease nothing can stand before it.

One says that "the grandest thing about our rights, is that being our own, we can give them up if we wish."

"So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do unto you" Matthew 7:12

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"Run in such a way as to get the prize!" 1 Corinthians 9:24

Christian life is not meant to be easy. We must pay the price for any success we may achieve.

The schoolboy, if he would win honors, must work hard for them.

In the ancient Olympic games, those who ran in the race spent every energy to reach the goal. Those who were to take part in athletic contests of any kind, prepared for the struggle by the most rigorous self-discipline, so that their bodies might be strong for the contests.

Paul, however, is not giving advice, nor laying down rules for athletes but uses these contests to illustrate what the Christians must do.

We must make up our mind to the fact that the harder our struggles are the greater honor and achievements are set before us to be won.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

One who eats self-indulgently or gluttonously

"Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatever you do do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

"Whatever you do!" Nothing in life is left out this command extends even to eating and drinking. We are to do all things to the glory of God. This means that we must do everything in a way that will please Him.

To eat to the glory of God is to recognize Him as the Giver of our daily bread, to seek His blessing on it, to eat according to the divine laws, eating to be ready for the best service, and then to use all our strength in doing the work which God gives us to do.

One who eats self-indulgently or gluttonously, or who eats food that is injurious to his health, or who does not use the strength he derives from his food in living obediently is not glorifying God.

In all our life, in everything we do, we are to think of what will honor God.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It will bless our lives in many ways

"This do in remembrance of Me." 1 Corinthians 11:24

The Lord's Supper is the most sacred of the ordinances of Christian worship. It is a service of memorial, "This do in remembrance of Me."

Jesus wants us to remember Him, however, not merely at His table, now and then but all the time. If we keep Him thus ever in memory, it will bless our lives in many ways:

  1. It will transform us into His likeness; thinking much of others, makes us like them.

  2. It will keep us from doing wrong or sinful things. Even the picture of a good man makes us ashamed to do things he would disapprove.

  3. Remembering Christ keeps our hearts warm with love for Him. We are kept in mind of the sweetness of His love and of all that He has done for us, and we are constrained to love Him.

  4. Remembering Christ will make us both holy and happy, for we shall never forget that He is our Friend and is with us all the days.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The lesson of love

"The greatest of these is love!" 1 Corinthians 13:13

Love is the greatest of all the Spirit's gifts.

The ability to love is the best of all the abilities which God has bestowed upon us. The lesson of love is taught us in this chapter in words we should memorize and never forget.

"Love is patient, love is kind." Love is very patient with those who may not be gentle or thoughtful. Nothing makes it bitter or resentful. It is kind, not to the good only but also to the evil.

"Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude." It is humble and lowly, not proud. It is not envious of those who seem to be more highly favored. It is sweet-tempered, does not fly into a passion, and never acts rudely.

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." It forgets self altogether, and seeks only the good of others. It sees the good in others and not the faults and defects. It does not rejoice in the failure or misfortune of others but in their success.

Love bears all things, endures all things and never fails.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The League of the Golden Pen

"You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." 2 Corinthians 3:3

It is a great thing to have the pen of a ready writer and to have it consecrated to Christ. There are few ways in which one may do more good in the world, than by writing letters to those whom one would help.

Paul was a great letter-writer. When he could not visit the churches, he would write to them giving them advice, comforting, cheering, and instructing them.

A new society has been started called, "The League of the Golden Pen." Its motto is, "I will write a letter at least once a month, in the spirit of Christ, to stranger, friend, or kin to give cheer, courage, or counsel." The thought is a beautiful one, and those who read these words could do nothing better than begin to follow this rule.

Paul speaks here of another kind of letters that he wrote letters written on people's hearts and lives. We may write letters of this kind too. Every time we put a holy thought into any other heart, we have written a letter, which will be read wherever the person goes.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

In our reading today, we have the lesson taught very plainly

"Just as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us see that you also excel in this grace of giving." 2 Corinthians 8:7

The giving of money has a very important place in true religion. Jesus made it plain that His friends must be ready to lay their money at His feet at His call.

The members of the first Christian Church showed the most beautiful generosity toward the poor of their number with the rich selling their property and giving the proceeds to the apostles to supply the needs of those who lacked.

In our reading today, we have the lesson taught very plainly. The Master exemplified it. Though He was rich yet for our sakes He became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. Giving is a grace which may not be left out of the Christian life. The strong must help the weak.

The love of God does not dwell in that man who, with plenty of his own, sees his brother have need and shuts his heart's compassion against him.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A pretty girl!

"We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." 2 Corinthians 10:12

We have nothing of our own to glory in.

Glorying in one's self is self-conceit, and self-conceit is repugnant it is always unlovely. Even if a man's high estimate of himself is correct it is not a beautiful thing in him that he should glory in his looks, or his abilities, or his wisdom.

We are in the habit of saying that when one knows he is bright then his brightness is dimmed. When a pretty girl knows that she is lovely then her air of vanity mars her beauty.

When Moses came down from communing with God on the mount, his face was shining. The people saw the luster on his countenance but the record says, "Moses knew not that his face shone."

The truest greatness is never aware of itself.

Let us not boast in ourselves. "But he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

To buffet him and to keep him humble!

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet me." 2 Corinthians 12:7

"But he said to me: 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

It is comforting to think how fully our lives are in the hands of Christ, not only for protection but also for spiritual discipline.

The experience of Paul described in this chapter shows this is a striking way. He had a remarkable vision, being caught up to the third Heaven. The danger now was that he should be become conceited, because of the privilege he had enjoyed. To prevent this, there was given to him a "thorn in the flesh" to buffet him and to keep him humble.

This "thorn" was a messenger of Satan and yet was used in his spiritual discipline.

He pleaded to have it taken away but the request was not granted, because it was necessary to him. Instead of removing the thorn, however the Lord assured him of the grace needed to enable him to endure. When he saw the meaning of it all, and heard the divine promise he began to rejoice in his weaknesses, since because of these he would have larger measures of the strength of Christ.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is always love's motto

"What I want is not your possessions, but you." 2 Corinthians 12:14

The desire of all true friendship is not to get but to give; not to be served but to serve.

In all Paul's letters we find that he is eager to do people good, never having the desire to be profited by them. We have this in these words, "What I want is not your possessions, but you." He would not be a burden to them. He would most gladly spend and be spent for their spiritual welfare.

Paul's interest in them was not fully appreciated, for the more he loved them the less did they love him. But this did not affect his care for them he still loved them, and was very eager to do them good. He sought not their money but them.

This little sentence tells the whole story of true friendship.

It is the true minister's motto.

It should be every man's desire for his neighbor.

It is always love's motto, "What I want is not your possessions, but you."

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This is a wonderful picture of what takes place when a man becomes a Christian

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

The man who lived in this house by the side of the road died recently, and his house was left empty. But it did not long remain empty. Immediately another man moved in, a man with different tastes and habits. Everything is changed in and about the place. Roughness, bitterness, and selfishness have given way to refinement, sweetness, and love.

Now within the house are peace, song, and affection. Outside, sweet flowers pour their fragrance on the air.

This is a wonderful picture of what takes place when a man becomes a Christian.

The new life is Christ living in the man, and where Christ lives all is beauty and blessing.

The old wilderness, becomes a rose garden.

Sin, gives way to holiness.

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The Expulsive Power of a New Affliction

"Walk by the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:16

The best way to get evil out of our hearts, is to let good in. We have it in Paul's counsel: "Walk by the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." If the Spirit leads us, it will be toward more and more of Christ; for He will kindle in our hearts more love for the Savior. The result will be that we shall care less and less for the world.

Dr. Chalmers preached a sermon on these words of Paul's, calling it "The Expulsive Power of a New Affliction." A great love for Christ in a heart will expel all other loves that are not holy and pure.

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galatians 5:18-24

The evil things that are to be expelled, are named in this same chapter. It is a terribly black list. The only way to keep them out is to get so filled with the things in the white list, that there will be no room for the evil things of the black list. Light drives out darkness. Love expels hate. Holiness displaces sin.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

There are two verses here about burdens

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

"Each man shall bear his own burden." Galatians 6:5

There are two verses here about burdens.

We are told to bear one another's burdens. This is the law of love called here the law of Christ. That is the way Christ Himself does and that is also His law for us.

No one is a Christian, who is not at least striving to live in this way. That is love's way. Everyone we meet has some burden, some need and we are to seek to be the helper of everyone in some way.

The other word seems to be just the reverse. "Each man shall bear his own burden." Galatians 6:5

After all that we can do for others each one has to live his own life, has to carry his own load. We cannot choose for any other, we cannot repent for another, we cannot believe for another. The gentlest, most loving mother cannot bear her child's pain, cannot do her child's duty, cannot get her child's sins forgiven.

It is the law of life, that each must bear his own burden.

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We are all both sowers and fields

"Behold, a sower went forth to sow." Matthew 13:3

We are all both sowers and fields. Our words, our acts, our influences, as we touch other lives, become seeds. This is true not only of the good things that our lives scatter, but also of the evil things.

Also, each of our lives is a little patch of ground on which other sowers are forever dropping seeds. Every person we talk with, every friendship we cherish, every book we read sow seeds which will grow and help make the harvest of life for us. Christ is the great sower of good seed. He brings heavenly seeds to drop them on earthly soil.

We should not let ourselves be like the wayside, the beaten road. The good seed has no chance to grow on such soil. We should keep our hearts soft to take each holy impression. We must watch the soil in our patch of ground to keep out the thorns, for if the evil roots are left, the good seed will have no chance to grow, and the bad will choke out the good. We should make our hearts deep soil in which the good seed will grow to ripeness.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We will grow up into the beauty of Christ!

"And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying: This is My body given for you do this in remembrance of Me." Luke 22:19

Jesus gave the Holy Supper to be kept always, as a feast, in memory of Him.

If we always remember Christ it will keep us faithful to Him. He wants us to be true and loyal in the midst of our week day cares and temptations, as we are when sitting at His holy table. Remembering Christ will also transform us and make us like Him!

Our thoughts make us. They are the builders of our character.
If they are white and pure they will build a temple of marble in us.
If they are spotted and stained they will make our lives spotted and stained.

If we always remember Christ then we will grow up into the beauty of Christ. That is what the Lord's Supper is meant to help us to do.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Never for mere ornament

"I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision." Acts 26:19

Heavenly visions are given us to show the possibilities of our lives. They are not meant to discourage us by their brightness and their beauty. They are revealings of what we may become, and we should be instantly obedient to them.

Paul is an example of a man who puts his beliefs at once into practice. Truth for him, was never for mere ornament it was something to be lived. When he saw his duty he did it.

If we would think of all Christ's teachings, all glimpses of heavenly things, in this way we would not live as so many do live on life's low levels.

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Every kindness any of us does is written down

"Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him" Philippians 2:29

It is pleasant to look up the little biographies of godly men that we find embedded in Paul's letters. The little story of Epaphroditus that we have in this chapter is very interesting.

Paul appreciated him. Nor did he forget his kindness he had ministered to his needs. He was the messenger from the Philippian church, and had brought tokens of love to the apostle from his old friends. He had been taken sick, too, in Rome but God had mercifully spared him. Now he is returning, and is to carry this letter.

This kindly mention of Epaphroditus shows us how somewhere, if not in books every kindness any of us does is written down.

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Live as children of light!

"For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light!" Ephesians 5:8

We are to live in this world as children of light. Light stands for all that is beautiful, true, right, and holy. Darkness is the emblem of all that is wrong, evil, unbeautiful, and unholy.

As Christians we belong to the kingdom of light. We should so live that our lives shall always give out light. We are the light of the world. We are to make life brighter for others. We are so to live, as to make the way plain to some who do not know where to go, or what to do.

It would be very sad if any people in darkness should look to us to learn how to live and find our light not shining. If the light in a lighthouse were to go out some night then ships might be wrecked. If our light fails to shine others may stumble in the darkness.

As children of light we dare never to have our lamp grow dim.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The truth is, we try languidly to help our neighbors

"Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat, and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus!" Luke 5:18-19

We should be earnest in helping others to Jesus. We have a splendid example in the story of the four men who brought their neighbor to Jesus. This neighbor was a paralytic. He never could have gotten into the presence of the Healer without their aid. These men carried him where Jesus was that day. They found such a crowd around the door, that they could not enter. But that did not discourage them. They were determined to have their friend healed, and when they could not get in they carried him up to the roof and, opening a way, let him down into the very presence of Jesus.

If we were as eager to do others good, we would not be easily disheartened in our efforts.

The truth is, we try languidly to help our neighbors
, and nothing comes of our efforts. If we really love people, we will stop at no cost in trying to do them good.

The Good Samaritan is another example of this. He is Christ's own illustration of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

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There was no funeral that day!

"When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her: Do not weep!" Luke 7:13

When Jesus was here on earth, He touched every phase of the world's need.

This widow, following her son to the grave, does not seem even to have known of Jesus before. His meeting with the funeral procession seems to have been accidental. We know, however, that it was not accidental on the part of the Master. He knew of the woman's sorrow, though He was far away. His heart went out to her in sympathy because she was a widow, and because he whom she was carrying to the grave was her only son.

He purposely directed His path so that He would meet the sorrowful procession before it reached the burying-place. There was no funeral that day and the procession was changed to one of joy.

So Christ does always. Even when we do not call upon Him for comfort He often meets us with His blessing. Christ has not left the earth He is still here.

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We may be sure of Divine protection

"The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of trials and temptations."  2 Peter 2:9

This chapter is full of painful pictures. Life has its un-soothing side.

Sin is in the world and wherever there is sin, there will be sorrow. But in the midst of this chapter of warnings, is one sentence which brings great comfort to those who are exposed to dangers and sufferings: "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of trials and temptations." No matter amid whatever enmities and perils, we have to live we need not be afraid.

The wise man says, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower the righteous runs into it, and is safe." The Psalms tell us that under the shadow of God's wings we may take refuge, that the Lord is our keeper, and that He who keeps us never sleeps.

Some people think they cannot be godly in the place where they live, because of the evil about them but Christ knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation wherever duty calls them to go.

We may never choose to live amid dangers but if our duty calls us into such places we may be sure of Divine protection.

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Reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking

"Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking." 2 Peter 3:1

It is well that our minds shall be often stirred up and kept in remembrance of things we ought not to forget. Jesus recognized this when He gave the Lord's Supper. We cannot conceive how much the Lord's Supper has done through the Christian centuries, to keep the name of Christ precious in this world of care and sin.

Someone visiting the studio of an artist observed some highly colored stones lying on his table. When asked why he had these stones always before him the artist said it was to keep his eye up to tone.

For the same reason, we need to keep before us always high ideals of the Christian life. Otherwise our minds are apt to drift away from the things that are best.

Someone says that the little sentence, "That will do!" has done more harm than any other sentence in the English language. Being satisfied with the thing that merely "will do" is fatal to our doing the best.

It is well, therefore, to have our minds continually stirred up to wholesome thinking by way of remembrance, "lest we forget."

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Not all of us understand the meaning and purpose of trials

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials" James 1:2

Not all of us understand the meaning and purpose of trials.

The beatitude is not for him who has not been tried but for him who has met trials and has been victorious.

It certainly seems a strange thing to read that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials. We regret to see our friends come under sore various trials or to have to be tried ourselves but we learn here that we may even count it joy to have the painful experience.

Trial is therefore an opportunity. Blessings lie beyond it, which cannot reach in any other way but through the experience.

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The highest honor ever granted to any woman

"The angel went to her and said: Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Luke 1:28

Motherhood is always sacred. To be the mother of any child, is a holy privilege for a woman. But to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the world's Messiah was the highest honor ever granted to any woman. Mary was highly favored among women.

When a great man is needed for some place of responsibility God first chooses a noble woman to be his mother, and puts into her heart and life the gifts that are necessary to fit her for her sacred task. We often hear it said of a good or great man, that he had a good mother.

The woman who was chosen from among all women to be the mother of Jesus must have been divinely gifted for her mission. No wonder the angel said to her, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary's words when she told that she was to be the mother of the Messiah are very beautiful: "I am the Lord's servant may it be to me as you have said." She was awed by the announcement, and accepted it humbly.

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In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days

"To rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days." Luke 1:74-75

The salvation of Christ is perfect.

First it delivers us out of the hand of our enemies. We are under condemnation and it sets us free. We are in death's prison and this salvation liberates us.

But deliverance from condemnation and death, is not all of Christian hope. We are set free that we may serve our new Master. Jesus says, "Take My yoke upon you." We are made free from other masters by coming under the rule of the Divine Master. We are saved to serve.

Our service, however, is not to be selfish, nor servile, nor compulsory but glad, joyous, voluntary, under the constraint of love. We are to serve Him by obedience, "in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days." There is no other way of receiving the divine salvation, but by the acceptance of Christ's Lordship, which implies obedience in all holy things and in all holy ways.

No one willingly living a sinful life, can claim to have received Christ.

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He had lived so beautifully, so sweetly, so lovingly

"All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff!" Luke 4:28-29

Some people are never willing to see the good there is in others nor to give them the honor to which they are entitled.

This was the trouble with the people of Nazareth Jesus had grown up among them.

In a village, all one's life is open to everybody. Some commit indiscretions in their early years, which are remembered against them when they are older. But there was nothing in the young days of Jesus, which could be recalled to shame Him.

He had lived so beautifully, so sweetly, so lovingly that no one could say anything against Him. By and by He came back to visit His old neighbors. Everybody was talking about Him, and the fame of His life and work had been heard in His old town. But His former neighbors would not see in Him, the beautiful things which others saw in Him. They would not believe that He was the Messiah.

Many people show the same spirit in these days. They refuse to see anything beautiful or good in others.

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We are looking at God revealed in simple, human ways

"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." John 1:14

The most wonderful event in the history of the world, was the coming of God in human flesh to dwell among men.

The "Word" was in the beginning, that is, from eternity. Then in time, the Word became flesh and lived among us. That is what took place that quiet night at Bethlehem when Jesus was born.

Wonderful was the life that dwelt for thirty-three years on earth. Jesus Himself interpreted it when He said, "He who has Me has seen the Father."

As we read the beautiful story of the life of Jesus and see His gentleness, His patience, His unselfishness, His abounding kindness we are looking at God revealed in simple, human ways. In no other way could we ever have learned the character of the invisible God. In the incarnation He came down and lived among us and now we know . . .
  how to get to God,
  how loving and patient and merciful He is,
  and how ready He is to help us.

The Christ of the Gospels, is the God with whom we have to do.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He brought him to Jesus

"The two disciples heard Him speak, and they followed Jesus." John 1:37

The Christian Church had a very small beginning. Two young men went home with Jesus one day and learned that He was the Messiah. One of these two men was Andrew. In the eagerness of his joy he sought his own brother, and told him that he had found the Messiah. Then we have this little note. "He brought him to Jesus." John 1:42. It took only a few moments but tremendous results followed. This brother whom he brought, was the Peter of the New Testament.

We do not know when we bring anyone to Christ what we are doing, or what this person may do for the world. Andrew seems not to have been a very great man himself, and not to have done a vast amount of work as an apostle. But if he never did anything but bring his fisherman brother to Christ that was worth living for.

To bring one man to the Savior and to start him on a career as a Christian is a service of incalculable value. It is the starting of a life on a career of blessing for the world.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

This glory seems here to have been only simple kindness

"This, the first of His miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory." John 2:11

It is said that in doing this first of His miraculous signs, Jesus "revealed" His glory. The glory was there before, the power to the great things but not until now was it revealed, manifested, put forth.

This glory seems here to have been only simple kindness. A host, in the midst of his wedding feast, discovered that the wine had run out. We can imagine his dismay and his embarrassment. How could he explain it to his guests? No man wants to seem cheap on the occasion of his wedding. Then Jesus came to His friend's relief and used His "glory," His divine power, to change the water into wine.

The glory of Christ was shown as truly in the smallest words of comfort, in taking little children in His arms and blessing them as it was in His raising the widow's son or Lazarus. In the same way, we show just as much love in doing the commonest kindness as if we were to do some great thing.

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The gospel of Christ has its special word for each person!

"You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
 Teach servants to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive." Titus 2:1-10

The gospel of Christ has its special word for each person. It does not have the same message for everyone.

There is something here for old men. They have passed through many experiences, and they ought to have learned wisdom; they should be temperate, grave, sober-minded, with chastened spirit, good judgment, and be patient with all.

There is a word here for old women they should be reverent, charitable, careful in speech, helpful to neighbors and friends.

There is a duty for younger women, too they should be good wives, good mothers, good home-makers, living so worthily that they will be an honor to Christ.

Christian young men, also, have a place all their own to fill. They should discard the follies of the world and be thoughtful, sober-minded, full of good works, like their master.

There is a Christian duty also for servants and employees, who are to be faithful, even if their masters are not kind, in all things adorning the manner of Christ.

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The greatest wonder in the story of divine grace

"Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life." 1 Timothy 1:13-16

Someone has said that to him, the greatest wonder in the story of divine grace was that he himself had been saved. Paul seems to have felt the same wonder regarding himself. He had been  a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man yet Christ had chosen him for His service. In this the grace of Christ abounded exceedingly.

Note also that the apostle says as to the reason why he had been thus saved: "I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life." That is, the reason WHY Paul was forgiven and made a preacher was that no other sinner need ever despair. If he could be forgiven, after all he had done against Christ then anybody could be forgiven. Christ saved the worst sinner that lesser sinners ever after might have confidence as they sought mercy.

But every one of us may also wonder why we are saved, for not one of us is worthy.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Discontent is poverty, though a man has millions

"Godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6

Contentment does not mean satisfaction with our great natures, we never can be satisfied.

Being contented does not mean that a person enjoys discomforts, hardships, narrow circumstances, sufferings. That would be unnatural.

To be contented is to accept one's condition and circumstances, whatever they may be for the time without complaining or fretting, making the best of them.

In another place Paul speaks about his own experience in attaining this grace of contentment. He says, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, therein to be content." He had learned to be independent of conditions. He had in his own heart the resources for quiet and peace so that in the barest circumstances he did not fret.

It is interesting to notice that Paul says he had learned to be content. This suggests that it did not come to him naturally but was something he had to learn. He intimates to Timothy that he who is contented is rich, if he has godliness. Discontent is poverty, though a man has millions.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

There was a crown waiting for him!

"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:6-8

In this chapter we have the last words of Paul sent from his dungeon. But they are not the words of a defeated man rather, they tell of victory and triumph.

He was not alone in that trying hour, for the Lord stood by him and strengthened him. He knew he would soon meet death but he knew where he was going, "The Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will save me unto His heavenly kingdom."

He spoke of his life under three figures a fight, a course, a trust.

He looked backward with consciousness of approval he had fought well in the battle; he had been faithful to the trust committed to him.

He looked forward with joy and confidence there was a crown waiting for him!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Worry does not take away the things which trouble us

"And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things and your Father knows that you need them." Luke 12:29-30

Worry makes a great deal of unhappiness in the world and does a great deal of harm. Jesus says, too, that we need never to be anxious about anything. He gives reasons, also, why we should not be.

We need not worry about food and clothing.
God feeds the birds and His children are more value than His birds.
He clothes the lilies in matchless beauty and we are certainly dearer to Him than the loveliest flowers.

Worry does not take away the things which trouble us. It only unfits us for the best service. If our brain is feverish through anxiety, and our hand unsteady then we cannot do anything well.

If we are really God's children, we need not give ourselves any concern about the things we need. All we have to do is to seek God's kingdom and His righteousness that is, do our simple duty, as it is made known to us and then God will take care of us.

We often concern ourselves about God's care of us while we neglect our duty to Him.

"But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well." Luke 12:31

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Our lives need the blessing of God's love and grace continually

"Men ought always to pray, and never give up." Luke 18:1

Many people never pray at all. Even many of those who say prayers regularly never really pray.

We are all in danger of growing careless in the matter of prayer. As the flowers and plants on the earth need sunshine and rain from the heavens so our lives need the blessing of God's love and grace continually.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Lord has need of it!

"Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying the colt?' tell him, 'The Lord has need of it.'" Luke 19:30-31

It would be well for us if we would learn to hold everything we have at Christ's disposal. When the owner of the colt asked the disciples, "Why are you untying the colt?" they said, "The Lord has need of it." Then the owner let the colt go.

This is the way we ought to hold all we have. Whenever the Lord has need of anything we own we are to let Him have it. Sometimes He asks for things that are very dear to us things that it almost breaks our hearts to part with. But we are instantly to let Him take what He will.

When a young Christian girl was about to start for a foreign field as a missionary, a neighbor said to her mother, "I should think it would almost kill you to give up your daughter to go to China." The mother replied quietly: "I gave my daughter to Christ when she was born. I did not know until lately what Christ wanted to do with her. But now that I have learned, I desire to let Him have His way."

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Nothing can really harm us!

"You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of Me. But not a hair of your head will perish!" Luke 21:16-18

Jesus spoke of great troubles, persecutions, and trials which would come upon His disciples but He assured them that in the midst of all these perils they should be safe. Some of them would be delivered up by parents, brethren, kinsfolk, and friends to endure persecution, and even to suffer death. But He added, "Not an hair of your head will perish."

It is possible for men to be torn to pieces as to their bodies and yet not hurt as to their lives. They may suffer the worst kind of physical suffering but so long as their souls are holy, they have received no real harm.

There is only one evil in the world sin. No matter how much we may have to endure, if we are only faithful, nothing can really harm us. We should set our way, therefore, in life, not to miss the things that are hard but in the worst of experiences to be loyal and true to Christ. Then He will shelter us and protect us, so that no evil can befall us.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Christ's solicitude for us

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail." Luke 22:31-32

It ought to give us a new sense of confidence, to know that Jesus is ever watching and interceding for us. He had His eye on His disciples that night, and when they were about to pass through sore temptation, He made intercession for the one who was most in danger.

Our weakness makes Christ's solicitude for us more tender, more loving. The harder it is for us to live the more earnestly does Christ pray for us, and the more powerfully does He help us.

It will do us good always to remember that this little story of Christ's intercession for one of His disciples is a sample of what is always going on at the present. He watches form Heaven, and when one of His redeemed children is in danger He intercedes for us and upholds us.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him: Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath!" Matthew 12:2

The Pharisees were very close observers of what Jesus did. They went along with Him, not because they loved to be with Him but as fault-finders.

In the same way, the behavior of godly people is watched by unfriendly eyes. Hence we should live most carefully, so as to give no cause for blame. At the same time the example of Christ's disciples here shows us that we are not to be slaves of opinions which have no foundation in the Word of God.

Another lesson is, that we can find better business than playing spy on the lives and conduct of our fellow men. The unfriendly espionage of the Pharisees on the actions of our Lord and His disciples, was most despicable. In the same way, it is contemptible for us to watch our fellow Christians, just to discover faults in them. Suppose they do not live as they should live do we have to answer for their conduct? Perhaps our sin of uncharitableness in judging may be as great as the sin in them, which we are so quick to condemn.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We know that the holiest get nearest to Christ

"Peter, James, and John his brother." Matthew 17:1

Jesus had His special friendships. All the apostles belonged to His personal family but there were three who enjoyed closest intimacy with Him. In the Garden of Gethsemane these three were chosen to be nearest to Him, that by their sympathy they might strengthen Him and thus help Him to endure His sore agony.

There must have been something in these three men which fitted them for the place in the inner circle to which they were admitted. It was not mere blind partiality in Jesus that made them the His best-beloved friends.

We know that the holiest get nearest to Christ.
also brings us near while doubt and unbelief separate.
Purity of heart brings us close, "The pure in heart shall see God."
Likeness to Christ fits for personal friendship.
Jesus said that those who serve most self-forgetfully are first in His kingdom.
Selfishness keeps us far off.

It is a comfort to find Peter, though very faulty, was admitted to closest friendship with Christ.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." Matthew 24:42

The command to watch rings out continually in the Bible.

We are bidden to watch against temptation for sin's approaches are insidious.

Here, however, the watching is to be in readiness for a stupendous event the second coming of Christ.

His coming will be unannounced. The only way, therefore, to be ready when the event occurs is to be always ready. If there is an hour when we relax our diligence and cease to watch that may be the hour when He will come.

There is a legend of a man who waited a thousand years before the gates of Paradise, watching for them to open. At last he slept for but one hour. Yet during that hour the gates opened and were closed again, and thus he missed his one opportunity of entering.

The second coming of Christ will be so sudden that no preparation can be made for it after He appears. We must live so that there will not be a moment when we would be ashamed to have Christ come and find us unprepared.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is a great lesson

"Jesus remained silent." Matthew 26:63

The striking thing about the trial of Jesus, was that His enemies could find nothing against Him.

It is worth our while, too, to notice how Jesus answered the calumnies and false accusations He was silent to all the charges. It is well we should remember how our Master bore Himself when He was wronged.

We should not vex ourselves over unkind treatment from others. It is a great lesson to learn to be silent under injury.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The thirty silent years

"Then Jesus came from Galilee." Matthew 3:13

It is interesting to think about the thirty silent years which Jesus spent in Galilee. During this time He had been living a quiet life in a lowly home. He had employed all His wondrous power in doing mundane things. He spoke in the temple about doing the Father's business and then for eighteen years He lived in a humble home doing only the plain, common things of every day.

We need not repine at our limited sphere, nor sigh for more room for our abilities since in a carpenter's occupation, in a peasant home, in an obscure village, the Lord of glory labored for thirty years of His short life.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Temptation was part of Christ's preparation for His ministry

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Matthew 4:1

This was just after Christ's anointing for His ministry. He had received the Holy Spirit, and had heard the voice from Heaven proclaiming His Messiahship.

An old writer says, "All the while our Savior stayed in His father's shop and meddled only with carpenter's tools the devil did not trouble Him. But now that He was to enter more publicly upon His ministry the tempter pierces His tender soul with many arrows by solicitation to sin."

Temptation was part of Christ's preparation for His ministry
. He was not ready to enter upon His work as our Redeemer until He had met and overcome the Tempter. We know that He is able to deliver us out of the hands of Satan because He overcame in His own battles.

Another reason why Jesus was tempted at the beginning of His ministry, was that He might understand from personal experience the power of temptation and thus be prepared to sympathize with us in our temptations.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are." Hebrews 4:15

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He whose love glowed in such infinite tenderness on the cross

As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said: If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace but now it is hidden from your eyes!" Luke 19:41-42

Even Christ's denunciations are full of tears. Yet we must not think that He was incapable of severity.

He whose love glowed in such infinite tenderness on the cross
will sit on the throne of judgment and His presence will smite terror into the hearts of all His enemies!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

In the struggles of earthly life

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

We ought not to live in the past. No matter how full of blessing and good it was we may not stay in it. Life is before us never behind us.

The best way to live for tomorrow, is to do the work of today well. Yet the future should always exert an inspiring influence upon us.

In the task-work of school days it is the thought of what manhood will bring of achievement, which inspires the student.

In the time of discouragement it is the hope of overcoming, which brings cheer.

When we are in sorrow it is the promise of comfort which sustains us.

In the struggles of earthly life it is the glorious life of Heaven, which keeps the heart brave and strong.

We should let the past go, with all it contains of memory and of good while we turn ever to the future, with hope and courage.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

God holds the hand of His children

"For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you: Do not fear I will help you!" Isaiah 41:13

As a father holds the hand of his little child when it walks so God holds the hand of His children while they walk in the dangerous paths of this world. God is ever walking alongside of us. We cannot fail if God is holding our hand.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A Russian legend

"Because you have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself" 1 Kings 3:11

It is interesting to notice the things God was pleased that Solomon had not chosen.

Long life
is not the most desirable thing among God's gifts. The most complete life ever lived on this earth, was only thirty-three years in length.

Riches was another thing Solomon had not chosen. No doubt, if the choice were offered, many would choose money before all other things.

There is a Russian legend of one who entered a diamond-mine in search of riches. He filled his pockets with gems, and then, as he went on, threw them away to make room for the larger gems he found. At length he became thirsty, but there was no water. He heard the flow of rivers, but when he came to them they were rivers of gems. At what seemed the sound of a waterfall, he hastened forward, only to find a cascade of diamonds. With all this wealth around him, he was dying of thirst!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Everyone carries in himself, the elements of his own happiness or wretchedness

"Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23

Everyone carries in himself, the elements of his own happiness or wretchedness. It is the attitude of the heart which gives color to our skies and tone to the music we hear.

A badly kept heart makes pain for the life.
A well-lived life stores away memories which make celestial music to cheer the declining years.

"Nothing makes a man so contented, as a well-lived past." We can insure full happiness only by living no day whose memory will make us ashamed or give us pain, when we sit in old age and recall it.

The time to secure a "well-lived past" is while the early days of life are fleeting. We never can change any yesterday.

An unholy life yields a harvest of wretchedness in old age!

But a life of obedience to God, of faithfulness to duty, of personal purity and uprightness, and of unselfish, Christ-like service will make old age like a garden of fruit and flowers!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The blessing of true religion in a home

"The ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obed-edom and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household." 2 Samuel 6:11

The same ark which wrought disaster when irreverently touched now brought blessing to a home in which it was received with love. This fragment of history from the olden days, suggests to us the blessing of true religion in a home.

Some people think it would be a loss and a hindrance to receive Christ into a house.
It would stop some pleasures.
It would drive out some amusements.
It would interfere with some ambitions.

But those who open their doors to Christ, will always be rewarded. Piety blesses a home. It . . .
  sweetens the home life,
  enriches the home affections,
  deepens the home joys,
  lightens and comforts the home sorrows.
It brings true prosperity, for the blessing of the Lord makes rich.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Christian old age

"The path of the just is as the shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18

Christian old age should be beautiful. It should have the mellowness of autumn, after the heat and toil of summer.

Youth has its beauty, and so has manhood but there is a loveliness in godly old age which is more winning than anything in any other period of life.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The highest greatness!

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' He called a little child and had him stand among them." Matthew 18:1-2

The Master wants us to be great and to do great things. But there are mistaken opinions about what it is to be great. Jesus' disciples thought if they held high positions in the world they would be great. Jesus told them that childlikeness was the highest greatness. We are greatest when we are not aware of being great at all. Simplicity, trust, the absence of ambition, contentment these are marks of greatness.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Our forgiving is to be unlimited

"Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?" Matthew 18:21

If one has done us any injury, the Christian way is to go to him in the spirit of love and talk the matter over with him. Perhaps it is all a misunderstanding, needing only a word of explanation. We are probably as much to blame as the other person is, when things go wrong between us and a neighbor.

Our forgiving is to be unlimited. The rabbis taught that no one should forgive another more than three times. Peter thought he was making the limit great enough when he suggested that the Master's followers should forgive seven times. But Jesus swept away all counting of times, and said a Christian should forgive seventy-seven times!

"There is so much bad in the best of us,
 And so much good in the worst of us,
 That it hardly behooves any of us
 To talk about the rest of us!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A bad heart defiles everything it is a nest of unholy things!

"Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying: Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." Matthew 15:1-2

It is right to have clean hands, but it is more important to have a clean heart. Some people are most punctilious about insignificant religious traditions, while they pay little heed to the moralities of their lives. It is the inner life which makes character. A bad heart defiles everything it is a nest of unholy things!

"But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man." Matthew 15:18-20

A lady took a dead child's photograph and touched it up with her brush until the little one seemed to live in the picture. But in a day or two, the face was covered with blotches. There was something on the paper on which the picture had been taken, which worked up through the colors and spoiled it.

In the same way, in many a life there are bad qualities which work up through all outside manners and refinements, and spoil the beauty.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The only way to get the pearl of great price

"The kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value he went away and sold everything he had and bought it!" Matthew 13:45-46

We can well afford to give up all that we have to get Christ. If we receive the whole world in place of Him the exchange would be at a fearful loss to us.

The only way to get the pearl of great price is to part with the other pearls which we have. We cannot keep the other pearls we have. We cannot keep these and get that. Christ is not to be bought for money and yet we have to give all we have to get Him.

The young ruler was told he must sell all that he had, and take Christ instead. He would not pay the price, and went away sorrowful.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Some people are always watching others

"When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him: Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath!" Matthew 12:2

Some people are always watching others
, to find fault in them. They seem to think that their business is to keep other people right and so they forget to look after the wrong things in themselves! We should never forget that our first duty is to do right ourselves. We shall not have to answer for anybody else but for ourselves we surely shall.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Jesus' strange saying about numbering of the hairs of our head

"Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:30

Jesus' strange saying about numbering of the hairs of our head, means that the smallest things in our lives are included in God's providence.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

There is only one thing that we are absolutely sure of in the future

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." Matthew 24:42

There is only one thing that we are absolutely sure of in the future Christ's coming.
We do not know when or how He will come. We only know that He will come.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Mount Etna

"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 5:1

Peace with God is the beginning of all Christian peace.

Mount Etna casts a shadow every morning over all the fair and beautiful island of Sicily. The people, as they go on with their work or their pleasure, do not allow themselves to think of the shadow or to speak of it. It seems ominous of doom, as it moves silently over their gardens and homes. The shadow reminds them that within the terrible mountain, slumber the fires which any hour may pour ruin over every lovely scene.

There is a more ominous shadow than that of Etna, which lies over this world the curse of sin and its impending judgment!

No one can be at peace until he is reconciled to God. But when we believe on Jesus Christ we are safe from condemnation, and have peace with God. Then all good things follow.

We are God's friends and He is our Friend. We are at home now with Him. His power is our refuge, a shelter for our feebleness amid all life's perils.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"The men of Jabesh Gilead buried Saul." 2 Samuel 2:4

This word about the men of Jabesh Gilead, calls up a tender little episode amid the cruelties of ancient war. When the Philistines found the bodies of Saul and his sons on the battlefield, they carried them away and hung them on the walls of the town of Beth-shan, exposing them to public gaze.

Jabesh Gilead was a town which Saul had once helped when it was in trouble. The people remembered this old-time kindness, and now, when the bodies of the king and his sons were exposed in such an inhuman way, they rescued them from dishonor.

We should never forget a favor done by another to us and if we have an opportunity, we should be careful to return kindness for kindness. It is a good thing for us to keep our heart warm in the midst of all this world's coldness and hardness.

This we can always do by cherishing gentle feelings, and by doing at every opportunity deeds of kindness.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"David perceived that the Lord had established him as king . . . for His people Israel's sake." 2 Samuel 5:12

All good gifts come to us from God.

Does the wind waft our bark forward? God sent the wind.

Do friends help us to get onward and upward? God gave us the friends.

Are there favorable circumstances in our lives, and happy outcomes from our ventures? God shaped the circumstances.

Then whatever prosperity God gives us He gives it that with it we may bless the world. The honor which He puts upon us, is not a bit of laurel for our own brow but is bestowed for the sake of others. Joys are bestowed upon us that others may get the brightness, the joy, and the inspiration.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If we can restore one little spot of earth into Edenic happiness

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." Colossians 3:18-21

One of the best ways we can bless the world, is to make our own home sweet and happy. If we can restore one little spot of earth into Edenic happiness, then we have done something toward the regaining of the lost Paradise.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Joy is a Christian duty

"Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, you righteous." Psalm 32:11

Joy is a Christian duty
. God wants all His children to be happy.

Do they never have any troubles? Yes, many. Still God wants us to rejoice.

We must notice, however, what kind of joy it is which we are so earnestly urged to have. It is not the world's joy, "Be glad in the Lord." Those whose gladness depends only on earthly things have no assurance of its lasting long, for all earthly things are transitory.

When it is the love of Christ which gives us gladness then our joy is sure beyond failure, for He loves us to the end.

To be glad in the Lord, is to do day by day our simple duty, leaving to Him all the care, all the providing, all the protecting never allowing a shadow of anxiety to cross our mind.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We wait until the friend is dead and then we send flowers for his coffin!

The king asked, "Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?" 2 Samuel 9:3

Remembering kindness is a mark of a noble mind.

True friendship never forgets. Yet it looked as if David had forgotten his friend for a good while. It was fifteen years after Jonathan died, when David looked up this son of Saul. Meanwhile the lame boy had been getting along as best he could, over at Lodebar.

A good many more of us show the same tardiness in doing the kindnesses we owe to others. We delay until our return has lost half of its meaning. Indeed some of us never get the return made at all. We wait until the friend is dead and then we send flowers for his coffin!

Is there one to whom you are indebted waiting now, somewhere, in the shadow, for you to come to show him the kindness of God?

Is there a child of someone dead, who befriended you at a time when kindness meant much to you, now needing a friend? Should you not repay to the living the debt you owe to the dead?

   ~  ~  ~  ~

There is no merit in making crosses for ourselves

"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24

Not only was the way of suffering the divinely appointed way for Jesus Himself but it is the way also in which His followers must walk. He walked among the thorns and through the dark valleys because along these ways lay His path to glory.

We cannot do Christ's will and refuse to walk in the hard paths in which He walked. We must deny ourselves if we would be Christ's disciples. Self-denial means the dethroning of SELF and the seating of Christ upon the heart's throne. When we deny ourselves, we do not go our own way, we accept Christ's path and follow Him.

Taking up the cross is also important in discipleship. The cross stands for anything that is a hard or painful duty.

There is no merit in carrying a cross, merely for the sake of the cross; it must be taken up because it comes in the way of obedience.

There is no merit in making crosses for ourselves. The only cross that brings blessing, is that which we find in following Christ.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We must make sure that we have Christ in our life as well as in our creed!

"Simon Peter answered and said: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Matthew 16:16

Under the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter had a glimpse of Jesus in His glorious beauty. He saw Him as the Messiah who had been promised so long ago. At last the Promised One had come, and now Peter saw and believed in Him as the Christ. Not only so but he saw Him, too, as divine the Son of the living God.

This confession shows us what we ought to think about Christ. He is the Messiah, God's Anointed One.

He became man, thus coming down close to us.

Then He is the Son of God, divine; possessing all power, infinite in His love and grace, able to do for us all that we need, and to lift us up to eternal life and glory. So we have here a most comprehensive creed.

If our belief is like Peter's, and if Christ is all to us in our life that we make Him in our creed then we are resting on the rock. But we must make sure that we have Christ in our life as well as in our creed!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is always painful to speak to one's friends

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things . . . and that He must be killed." Matthew 16:21

It is always painful to speak to one's friends of one's coming sufferings or death.

It must have been hard for Jesus to break to His disciples, in their enthusiasm and hope the fact of which He now speaks to them. He knew how it would disappoint and grieve them. But it was time they would learn the true nature of His Messiahship. All their Messianic expectations were of one who should be a great King, establishing a universal empire.

The word "must" in our Lord's announcement is important He must suffer. This was the way marked out for the Messiah in Old Testament prophecies. He was not to be invested with mere human glory and to follow out men's ideas of greatness. He would bless the world by giving Himself as a sin-atoning sacrifice.

There could be no redemption for men but by the atonement and the Son of God was the only one who could make this atonement. We must never forget that the cross was an essential element in Christ's work as Savior.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The secret of this enviable power

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." 1 Corinthians 9:22

Some people have a happy faculty of always calling out the best that is in others.

A shy person is made to feel at home in their presence, and at once loses his shyness.
A bashful child is drawn out of his self-consciousness the moment he comes into their presence.

The secret of this enviable power lies in sincere, unselfish interest in others. It is the winningness of love, which woos out the best.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Our discovered faults!

Everyone should be glad to have a fault pointed out not glad that the fault is there but that it is now known, so that it may be put away.

We should always deal with our discovered faults relentlessly. Even the right hand should be cut off, or the right eye plucked out in order that the soul may be saved.

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming!" Colossians 3:5-6

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We may get some lessons from it

"When they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives." Matthew 26:30

It seems strange that Jesus could leave the upper room singing when He knew that suffering and death were before Him. But we have the explanation in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where we are told that it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross, despising the shame.

We need not try to understand the mystery of the struggle in Gethsemane but we may get some lessons from it.

One is that the only true refuge in sorrow, is prayer.

Another is, that we have a right to ask God to spare us from great trials.

Another, that we may help our friends in their sorrow and suffering by our sympathy.

Jesus expected to get strength from His disciples to enable Him to endure. One of the saddest incidents in the garden story, is their failure to keep awake and watch with Him. A lesson for all time is in the Master's words at the last, "Sleep on now, and take your rest." There was no use in waking now the traitor was coming. They had lost their opportunity to watch.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He refused to take the stupefying draught

"They led Him away to crucify Him." Matthew 27:31

Never was there such another procession as that which went along the Via Dolorosa that Good Friday morning. Jesus died that day for the sins of His people.

"Under an eastern sky,
 Amid a rabble cry,
 A man went forth to die For me!
 Thorn-crowned His blessed head,
 Blood-stained His every tread,
 Cross-laden, on He sped For me!"

There was human pity at the cross wine was offered the Sufferer by gentle hands. But He refused to take the stupefying draught. He would not lessen in the smallest degree his pain as the world's Redeemer, and He would not enter the great mystery of death with His faculties dulled.

Terrible as were the sufferings of Christ on His cross, we think of Him not with pity but with adoration. What we see, is the Lamb of God bearing the sin of His people.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Sir Launfal

"While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him." Luke 24:15-16

There is a picture of a woman in great sorrow. She is sitting beside the sea, looking out upon the dark waters, which have swallowed down her heart's treasures. Close behind her is an angel with his harp, whose strings he is gently touching. But the woman is not aware of the angel's presence and is uncomforted by the music of the celestial harp.

So it often is with mourners, when Jesus Himself comes to give them consolation. In their grief, they are unaware of His presence and deaf to His words of love.

We go afar in quest of Christ, while all the time He is close beside us.

Sir Launfal
wandered over all the earth in search of the Holy Grail; and when at last, after long years had flown, he returned aged and bent to his old home, lo! there under his own castle walls did he find the object of his search.

So often we will find close by us, in the Scriptures we already possess, in the circumstances in which we are placed the help we are seeking and the truth we need.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If they had not thus pleaded with Him

"They pleaded with Him, saying: Abide with us." Luke 24:29

If they had not thus pleaded with Him
, He would have passed on.

Think what the disciples would have missed in the blessed revealing at the table, if He had not gone in with them.

We do not know how many of the best things of divine love we miss continually, because of the languidness of our praying.

We ask and receive not because we ask with so little urgency. We seek and find not, because we seek so languidly and give up so soon. We knock, and the door is not opened to us because we knock only lightly and indifferently, and then go away.

This incident suggested the words of the hymn with which we are so familiar:

"Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
 The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
 When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
 Help of the helpless, O abide with me!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Mary broke her alabaster jar

"While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table." Matthew 26:6-7

Let us not forget to put flowers upon the pathways of our friends while they live. It is a poor affection that allows hearts to starve for lack of kindness through the years and then send flowers to be laid on the coffin.

It is pleasant to remember that Mary broke her alabaster jar to anoint Him beforehand for His burying.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He will much more surely care for His children

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

The first way to lay up treasures in Heaven, is to repent and believe in Christ. We then shall have an inheritance laid up there, reserved for us, to be given to us when we get home.

Another way is to live a life of love. If we serve those who need in the name of Christ, we shall receive a reward. Thus we lay up treasure in Heaven in every act of self-denial, in every service of love.

If we have our treasure in Heaven then we need not be anxious.

Jesus says that God cares for the birds and He will much more surely care for His children. He bids us live by the day, not vexing ourselves about tomorrow's needs for when tomorrow comes, it will bring its own supply and its own blessing.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Mary broke her alabaster jar

"While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table." Matthew 26:6-7

Let us not forget to put flowers upon the pathways of our friends while they live. It is a poor affection that allows hearts to starve for lack of kindness through the years and then send flowers to be laid on the coffin.

It is pleasant to remember that Mary broke her alabaster jar to anoint Him beforehand for His burying.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He will much more surely care for His children

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

The first way to lay up treasures in Heaven, is to repent and believe in Christ. We then shall have an inheritance laid up there, reserved for us, to be given to us when we get home.

Another way is to live a life of love. If we serve those who need in the name of Christ, we shall receive a reward. Thus we lay up treasure in Heaven in every act of self-denial, in every service of love.

If we have our treasure in Heaven then we need not be anxious.

Jesus says that God cares for the birds and He will much more surely care for His children. He bids us live by the day, not vexing ourselves about tomorrow's needs for when tomorrow comes, it will bring its own supply and its own blessing.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"They were all filled with the Holy Spirit!" Acts 2:4

It was a stupendous event that occurred on the day of Pentecost. It was the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of believers.

It was not a wind that made the sound the disciples heard it was the breath of God breathing upon the little company.
It was not fire which sat upon their heads but an appearance, "like fire," which really was the flame of the divine Spirit, touching and consecrating the believers in Christ.

The explanation of the wonderful scene is given in the words, "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit." The breath of God meant life, and the fire of God meant cleansing, quickening, and transformation.

What took place that day may become true of everyone of us today we may be filled with the Holy Spirit. If we are, we shall speak the speech of love, of grace, of peace. It is the duty of every Christian to be filled with the divine Spirit. Then we shall have power, and our lives will begin to be blessings in the world.

"Be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18

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Money would have supported him a little longer in his beggary

"Then Peter said: Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Acts 3:6

The lame man, in asking alms, thought only of receiving bits of money. It seemed kindness to give him what he asked. There were no hospitals or homes in those days for the crippled, and the only way for them to live, if poor, was to beg.

Christianity teaches us that we should be kind to all in distress. Peter and John did not fail in this duty. First, they treated him in a Christian way.

A Russian writer tells of meeting a beggar on day. He felt in all his pockets and then said, "I am sorry, brother, that I have nothing to give you." The beggar thanked him and said he had done more for him than if he had given him silver he had called him "brother."

These apostles treated the lame man as a brother. Then, instead of giving him silver and gold, they healed him. Was not that better than any alms they could have given? Money would have supported him a little longer in his beggary what they did made it unnecessary for him to sit at the gate begging any longer.

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Peter's shadow!

"People brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by." Acts 5:15

It was not the shadow that had healing power but the people's faith that in this way God would work cures.

The incident of Peter's shadow illustrates the power of unconscious influence. Everyone carries about him an invisible shadow which affects the lives on which it falls. If our lives are true and good then our influence is good. But if our lives are not good then we still have influence, and in this case it is baleful.

There is a legend of a good man for whom was asked some new power. He chose that he might do a great deal of good, and might not be aware of it. So it was ordered that when his shadow fell behind him, where he could not see it, it should have healing power but when it fell before him, so that he could see it, it should have no such effect.

If we would have our influence full of healing, a blessing to others, we must be humble and lowly, earnest believers in Christ, full of the Spirit of God.

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There is no baser treachery than this

"He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, 'What town are you from?' Then Absalom would say to him, 'Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.'" 2 Samuel 15:2-3

Absalom perverted good things to base and ignoble uses. For example, early rising is a good thing, when one rises to begin a day of beautiful living. But Absalom rose early to ply his arts of treachery.

Sympathy is a good thing. One can do no Christlier work than to go among those who are overworked speaking cheering, strengthening words. To take by the hand one who has fallen in some misfortune, and be a brother to him, helping him to rise is a noble thing to do.

But Absalom only pretended to be the people's friend that he might get their confidence and then use them in his wicked plot to seize his father's throne. He lost no opportunity, when anyone was dissatisfied to pity him, and hint how different it would be if only he were king.

There is no baser treachery than this, and we all need to be on our guard continually, lest, by half-conscious disparagement, we destroy the influence of others and do them irreparable injury.

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It is not until she is gone out of the home

"A prophet has no honor in his own country." John 4:44

Those who live in familiar relations with the great or the good, are least likely to recognize the elements of greatness or goodness in them. Many of the men whose names shine in the galaxy of fame, and whose work lives in the world with undying influence had little honor from those among whom they walked, and perhaps would have little honor today if they were to return and live among us.

We often fail to recognize the true worth of our best friends, while they stay with us.

It is not until she is gone out of the home that a mother's real value is appreciated. The same is true of each member of a household and of each friend upon whom we lean much and whose life is a great deal to us.

Jesus walked among the people, taught, wrought miracles, and lived out His sweet, beautiful life of love but they failed to see the Messiah in Him.

"He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."

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It is a precious comfort to us

"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son" John 5:22

It is a precious comfort to us
, as we think of the Judgment Day to know that the Judge on the throne will be the same Jesus who died for us, who wears still and shall then wear our nature. We need not fear Him, who in love, once died for us.

If we are His friends now and here, confessing Him before men then He will be our Friend then, and will confess us before His Father and the angels.

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While we stand beside this old man's deathbed

"Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died." 2 Kings 13:14

It is interesting, while we stand beside this old man's deathbed, to think of the blessing he was to the country in which he lived.

He first appears as a young farmer plowing, when suddenly behind him comes the prophet Elisha and throws over his shoulders a sheepskin cloak. This cloak was the emblem of the prophetic office, and the young farmer was called to the ministry.

From that time his life was given up to God's service, first as the attendant of Elijah, and then as the prophet of Israel. He was a man of gentle mood and kindly spirit. Only a few incidents are recorded of him but these show us the spirit of the man. The friend of the poor and the oppressed, he was also the counselor and helper of kings.

There is no time when a man's life and work can be seen quite so truly as from amid the shadows of his death hour. We should live so that when the end of our life comes the world may speak approvingly of us.

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The man came to life and stood up on his feet!

"Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones the man came to life and stood up on his feet!" 2 Kings 13:21

Of course this was a miracle.

The incident illustrates the truth that a godly man's influence lives after him.

There is a legend of an old monk who was shipwrecked and cast upon a desert island. He had with him a package of seeds which he scattered upon the bare island. Soon afterward, he died there. But twenty years later, some people coming to the island found it covered from side to side with waving harvests and luxuriant fruit-trees the result of the scattering of the seeds from the monk's hand twenty years ago.

So it is with those who live well wherever they go, they drop seeds which spring up into beauty!

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It is very hard to give up old beliefs!

"Do not call anything impure, that God has made clean." Acts 11:9

It is very hard to give up old beliefs
. The Jews had always been taught, as part of their religion that they must keep themselves separate from the Gentiles. It was hard for them to believe that Peter had done right in accepting the hospitality of a Roman. It was hard for Peter himself to become willing to visit Cornelius. It required a special divine vision to convince him that the old law was changed and that now every believer was to be considered a brother.

We need to learn to keep mind and heart ever open to receive Scripture truth even when it sweeps away our old beliefs!

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Some line of beauty, or some mark of marring on our character

"Let us therefore follow after the things with which one may edify another." Romans 14:19

Paul has a great deal to say in his epistles about edifying.

We are to follow after things whereby we may edify one another. "Edify" is an architectural word. To edify is to build up. We are builders. Human lives everywhere are unfinished buildings and every one who passes by lays a block on the wall or adds an ornament to the structure.

A hundred people touch you each day, in business contracts, in social fellowships, in friendships, in letters, in transient meetings and every one of them builds something on the wall of your life, either something that will add to the adornment of your character or something that will mar and disfigure it.

Everyone who comes into our presence even for a moment, who speaks a word to us, even everyone who reaches us most remotely with his influence leaves some line of beauty, or some mark of marring on our character.

We are exhorted to be careful that in all we do to others we really edify them.

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The religion of Christ touches every phase of life

"Whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Colossians 3:17

"Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

The religion of Christ touches every phase of life

No question of duty can ever arise but the gospel has a bearing upon it.

It teaches great principles which apply to all relations of life.

There is a Christian way of meeting every experience.

Paul shows in this chapter how a Christian should act in certain matters with which some might say religion has nothing to do. We may learn that there is no path on which Christ does not walk with us.

We never can get away from Him.

There is no part of the world where we would be beyond His authority.

There is no experience of life in which we do not need to ask Him what He would have us do.

There are no possible relationships in which the teaching of Christ has no word of duty for us.

There are no tasks in which we do not need to have His help.

There are no lines of duty in which we do not need the light of His Spirit.

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All we need to do

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

People differ greatly in their gifts and capacities and it is wisely ordered that they do. If all had the same gifts, one kind of work would be overdone and other kinds would not be done at all. But as there are countless things needing to be done, so there is the greatest variety in the abilities of people, and thus there is a hand for every task.

The capacity for usefulness that we have, is not accidental. We should never forget that our ability is God's gift to us. This ought to save us from envying others who have abilities that seem more brilliant than ours. God gave them their capacities and God gave us ours. He had a reason He wanted us to do a certain kind of work, to fill a certain place and He had another place and work for them. All we need to do, is to make the most of the ability God has given us, and to do the best work we can do.

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A ministry of encouragement

"For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast comforted us by the coming of Titus" 2 Corinthians 7:5-6

However much we experience of the love of Christ we all need human love.

Paul lived very close to his Master. No man ever had more of Christ. Yet Paul's epistles show continually a longing for human sympathy, and a need for the human touch in their lives. He is telling here of the weight which was upon him in Macedonia, "We were afflicted on every side."

Then he tells of a great blessing, which God sent. "But God, who comforts the downcast comforted us by the coming of Titus." Titus was a dear friend, and his coming gave the apostle comfort and new courage.

We are all alike we need human sympathy and love.

This also suggests to us, one way in which we can help others. All around us are continually those who are disheartened, whom we can cheer and strengthen by encouraging words.

No ministry we can choose in this world will mean more to others, than a ministry of encouragement.

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"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel." Galatians 1:6

That which counts for most in Christian life, is steadfastness persevering through all discouragements and hindrances.

Some people make a brilliant start, and then lose their enthusiasm. That seems to have been the trouble with the Galatians. Paul says, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and are turning to a different gospel."

In another of his epistles, he begins by thanking God for those to whom he was writing, for their faithfulness, their loyalty, their devotion to the truth. But he begins this epistle, by marveling at the lack of seriousness and of steadfastness in the Galatians.

When certain people desired to become Christ's followers, He said to them, "If you continue in My word then are you My disciples indeed." It is the continuance with Christ as His followers, which proves our discipleship.

We should have our feet on the rock and should cleave to Christ, whatever the pressure may be. It is a great thing to be fixed and stable in our Christian lives.

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain!" 1 Corinthians 15:58

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There is a great deal of struggling for honor and fame in this world

"You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:26

There is a great deal of struggling for honor and fame in this world. Men think if they can get a few million dollars, that they have reached distinction. Or they think if they can get a high office, that they have won one of earth's best prizes. There are some also who spend their life in trying to get recognition in society. How pitiful all this must appear to those who look down from Heaven upon this earth!

Paul shows us here what is really the highest rank to which man can attain. He says, "You are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus."
To be a son of God, is immeasurably higher than being in the most aristocratic circles.
To be an heir of God, is to be infinitely richer than to be the owner of millions.

When the disciples asked who was greatest they were thinking only of earthly standards. To have the faith of a little child is to be great. To serve others, is the heavenliest occupation to which anyone can put his hands. To be Christ-like is glory.

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Every Christian is a block on this mystic wall

"You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house" 1 Peter 2:5

"All the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple." Ephesians 2:21

The Church is a glorious spiritual temple. Christ Himself is the corner-stone. All these centuries' believers in Christ have been built into the walls, which are rising continually. The temple is not yet completed, and will not be until the last believer is built into it.

Every Christian is a block on this mystic wall. Large stones and small are used. The smallest is just as important as the largest. Each one has his place in the temple. Then, in turn, each of us becomes a foundation for others to build on.

We must be sure that those who rest on us, trust us, depend on us, shall never be disappointed.

The other day it was seen that the wall in a building was breaking. At one spot there had been a rotten stone, and it had crumbled and the stones over it had shrunk.

We must be good stones that never will crumble.

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Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory!" Colossians 3:1-4

Every Christian life should have the upward look. Becoming a Christian, makes us a citizen of Heaven. We live yet in this world but our home is above, where Christ is. Heaven's joys should be our joys. Heaven's life should be our life.

"Your life is now hidden with Christ in God." This means that we are sheltered in Christ. It means also, that our life has its sources of strength, of nourishment, of help, in Christ.

Our hearts and eyes should be drawn away therefore from earthly things to heavenly things. We ought to live for things above. We ought to set our minds on things that are above not on things that are on the earth.

While we stay here on earth for a while we are going on to Heaven, where we shall live with Jesus forever in glory!

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We should write out the list and keep it where we may see it continually

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

As Christians, we must make our lives here on earth, correspond with the life of Heaven.

We are to mortify all the things in our lives that are not lovely. This includes all desires and all acts and dispositions that are not white and pure.

We are to be in this world, walking in the midst of its evil and are yet to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. The list of things we are to put off is a frightful one. We are always in danger of doing them.

There are things also which we are to "put on," and these are all beautiful things a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We should write out the list and keep it where we may see it continually.