Grace Gems for JUNE 2008

Fly to Jesus!

(Octavius Winslow, "My Times in God's Hand")

Believer, how precious is your soul to Him . . .
  who bore all its sins,
  who exhausted all its curse,
  who travailed for it in ignominy and suffering, and
  who ransomed it with His own most precious blood!

Oh! the unutterable blessings that flow
from a vital union with the Lord Jesus!

All of your cares are His cares.
All of your sorrows are His sorrows.
All of your needs are His supply.
All of your sicknesses are His cure.

Believer, nothing can . . .
  separate you from the love of Jesus,
  nor sever you from His care,
  nor exclude you from His sympathy,
  nor banish you from His heaven of
    eternal blessedness!

Fly to Jesus in the confidence of a loving Friend.

Reveal to Him your secret sorrow.

Confess to Him your hidden sin.

Acknowledge your backsliding to Him.

Tell Him your needs, your sufferings, your fears.
Tell Him how chilled your affections to Him are.
Tell Him how reserved is your obedience.
Tell Him how imperfect is your service.
Tell Him how you long to . . .
   love Him more ardently;
   follow Him more closely;
   serve Him more devotedly;
   and to be more wholly and holily His.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My sheep

J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of John")

"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and
 they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they
 shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of
 My hand." John 10:27,28

Christ calls His people, "My sheep."

The word "sheep," no doubt, points to something
in the character and ways of true Christians. It
would be easy to show that weakness, helplessness,
harmlessness, usefulness—are all points of resemblance
between the sheep and the believer. But the leading
idea in our Lord's mind was the entire dependence
of the sheep upon its Shepherd.

Just as sheep hear the voice of their own shepherd,
and follow him—so do believers follow Christ. By faith
they listen to His call. By faith they submit themselves
to His guidance. By faith they lean on Him, and commit
their souls implicitly to His direction.

The expression, "My sheep," also points to the close
which exists between Christ and believers.
They are His by gift from the Father, His by purchase,
His by election and effectual calling, and His by their
own consent and heart submission.

In the highest sense they are Christ's property; and
just as a man feels a special interest in that which he
has bought at a great price and made his own—so does
the Lord Jesus feel a peculiar interest in His people.

We should notice the vast privileges which the Lord
Jesus Christ bestows on true Christians. He uses
words about them, of singular richness and strength.

Christ "knows" His people with a special knowledge of
interest and affection. By the world around them they
are comparatively unknown, uncared for, or despised.
But they are never forgotten or overlooked by Christ.

Christ "gives" His people "eternal life." He freely bestows
on them—a right and title to heaven, pardoning their many
sins, and clothing them with a perfect righteousness.

Money, and health, and worldly prosperity He often
wisely withholds from them. But He never fails to
give them grace, peace, and glory.

Christ declares that His people "shall never perish."
Weak as they are—they shall all be saved. Not one of
them shall be lost and cast away; not one of them shall
miss heaven. If they err—they shall be brought back; if
they fall—they shall be raised. The enemies of their souls
may be strong and mighty—but their Savior is mightier;
and none shall pluck them out of their Savior's hands!
"My sheep shall never perish; no one can snatch them
out of My hand."

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sad blots!

Octavius Winslow, "None Like Christ" 1866)

How much is true religion shorn of its strength
by the lack of more spiritual-mindedness in its
professors! The worldly amusements to which
many addict themselves . . .
  the opera,
  the card-playing,
  the ball,
  the gay party,
  the novel-reading,
  the luxurious living,
  the extravagant customs,
in which multitudes of religious professors indulge,
are sad blots upon their avowed Christianity, and
great hindrances to the advancement of religion in
their own souls and in the world.

Oh! that with us vital religion—the pure, simple,
self-denying, unearthly religion of Christ—might
be paramount; its holy influence permeating our
whole being, and giving form and tint and direction
to all our engagements and conduct.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

True faith

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

True faith transforms the temper and frame of our
souls into another image, even the image of Christ.
This is done, in some degree, in the first saving
discovery which we have of Him; so that he who
truly believes in Jesus, is a new creature.

"If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old
 things are passed away; behold, all things are
 become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

We hence infer, that to be a real believer, is to
be a new creature. Our very tempers are changed
into Christ's holy likeness. The meek and lowly,
the devout and heavenly mind, which was in
Christ Jesus—in some degree, takes place in us.

Such is the efficacy of saving faith—that . . .
  it is the vigorous root to all holy obedience;
  it bears up the soul amidst the severest trials;
  it strengthens it for the most arduous services;
  enables it to overcome the world, and to lay
hold upon eternal life.

Faith genuinely influences all the powers of the
soul, and all the actions of the life, according to
the degree of its vigor, strength, and liveliness.
The more we live by faith in Jesus—the more
steadily we look to him—the more we shall be
transformed into His likeness.

True faith sets all things in a different light before
the eyes of the soul. It alters the view and appearance
of all the great and mirthful things of this world. The
treasures, the splendors and the entertainments of this
world—were once the most inviting objects upon which
we could look. But now we look on the world, with all
its most glittering and the richest scenes—as trifling,
poor, and despicable things. We are crucified to the
world, by the cross of Christ. We seek the things which
are above, where our Redeemer sits; and when the
world begins to flatter us again, and to appear great
and tempting in our eyes—renewed discoveries of
Christ's glory, who is the chief among ten thousand,
and altogether lovely—eclipse the splendor of all
below the skies. "This is the victory which overcomes
the world, even our faith."

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Infinite fullness

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of John")

"And of His fullness have all we received."
    John 1:16

It is Christ alone, who supplies all the
spiritual needs of all believers.

There is an infinite fullness in Jesus Christ.

There is laid up in Jesus, as in a treasury,
a boundless supply of all that any sinner
can need—either in time or eternity.

He is rich in . . .
  and redemption.

Out of Christ's fullness, all believers in every age
of the world, have been supplied. Every saint in glory
will at last acknowledge that he is Christ's debtor for
all that he is.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our momentary light affliction

(Arthur Pink)

"Our momentary light affliction is producing
 for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight
 of glory!" 2 Corinthians 4:17

Afflictions are light—compared with what we really
deserve. They are light when—compared with the
sufferings of the Lord Jesus. But perhaps their real
lightness is best seen—by comparing them with the
eternal weight of glory which is awaiting us!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

An unerring chart by which to steer
through the dangerous sea of life

(Arthur W. Pink, "The Attributes of God")

God has placed His Word in our hands for an
intensely practical purpose—namely, to direct
our walk and to regulate our deportment. The
primary purpose for which God gave the Scriptures,
is to make a practical use of them—ordering the
details of our lives by its rules and regulations

"Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light
unto my path." (Psalm 119:105). The metaphor
used here is taken from a man walking along a
dangerous road on a dark night, in urgent need
of a lantern to show him where to walk safely
and comfortably, to avoid injury and destruction.

God, in His infinite condescension and transcendent
grace, has given us His Word for this very purpose,
so that we need not stumble along blindly, ignorant
of what pleases or displeases Him—but that we might
know His mind. That divine Word is not given to us
simply for information, but . . .
  to regulate our conduct,
  to enlighten our minds, and
  to mold our hearts.

The Word supplies us with an unerring chart by
which to steer through the dangerous sea of
. If we sincerely and diligently follow, it will deliver
us from disastrous rocks and submerged reefs—and
direct us safely to the heavenly harbor. That Word
has all the instructions we need for every problem,
and every trouble we may be called upon to face.
That Word has been given to us "that the man of
God may be complete, equipped for every good
work" (2 Tim. 3:17). How thankful we should
be, that God has favored us with such a Word!

This world is a dark place, and it is only as we take
heed to the Word, to the light God has given us, that
we shall be able to perceive and avoid "the broad
road which leads to destruction," and discern the
narrow way which alone "leads unto eternal life."

Our first duty, and our first aim, must be to take up
the Scriptures to ascertain what is God's revealed will
for us—what are the paths He forbids us to walk, what
are the ways pleasing in His sight.

The Scriptures are not given us, primarily, for our
intellectual gratification, nor for emotional admiration,
but for life's regulation. Nor are the precepts and
commands, the warnings and encouragements
contained therein, simply for our information. They
are to be reduced to practice, they require unqualified
obedience. He who treasures the divine precepts in his
heart, and diligently seeks to walk by their rule, will
escape those evils which destroy his fellows.

Thus the great business of the Christian, is to regulate
his life by, and conform his conduct—to the precepts of
the written Word, and the example left us by the Incarnate
Word. As he does so, and in proportion as he does so, he is
  emancipated from the darkness of his natural mind,
  freed from the follies of his corrupt heart,
  delivered from the mad course of this world,
  and escapes the snares of the devil.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A tumor and swelling in the mind

(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ")

"The Lord Almighty has done it to destroy your pride
 and show His contempt for all human greatness."
    Isaiah 23:9

Pride is the original and root of most of those notorious
vices which are to be found among men.

Of all sins, pride is most dangerous to the souls of men.

Pride is . . .
  a gilded misery,
  a secret poison,
  a hidden plague.

Pride is . . .
  the conceiver of deceit,
  the mother of hypocrisy,
  the parent of envy,
  the moth of holiness,
  the blinder of hearts,
  the turner of medicines into maladies.

Of all sins, spiritual pride is most dangerous, and must
be most resisted. Spiritual pride is the lifting up of the
mind against God; it is a tumor and swelling in the
, and lies in despising and slighting of God—and in
the lifting up of a man's self, by reason of birth, breeding,
wealth, honor, place, relations, abilities or graces—and in
the despising of others.

Spiritual pride is a white devil, a gilded poison—by which
God is robbed of his honor, and a man's own soul of his
comfort and peace.

Pride is a sure forerunner of a fall. "Pride goes before
destruction, and a haughty mind before a fall."
Herod fell from a throne of gold—to a bed of dust.
Nebuchadnezzar fell from a mighty king—to be a beast.
Adam fell from innocence—to mortality.
The angels fell from heaven—to hell; from felicity—to misery.

"The day is coming when your pride will be brought low
 and the Lord alone will be exalted. In that day the Lord
 Almighty will punish the proud, bringing them down to
 the dust!" Isaiah 2:11-12

"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this:
 They will not go unpunished!"  Proverbs 16:5

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The life of all our graces and comforts

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!"
    1 Peter 2:7

Jesus is the life of all our graces and comforts.
By the knowledge and contemplation of Him, and of
His death in our stead—faith lives, and is strengthened
from day to day. All the springs of repentance are
opened, and flow freely, when the heart is melted by
views of a dying Savior! Love feels the attractive power
of its glorious object, and is kindled into a holy flame.
is mortified. The world is subdued. The hope of
future glory
is supported, enlivened, and confirmed,
so as to become sure and steadfast, like an anchor of
the soul. But without Him—whom having not seen, we
love—these graces would wither and die; or, to speak
more properly, they would have no existence.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You are complete in Him

(James Wells, 1839)

"They will say of Me—In the Lord alone are
 righteousness and strength
." Isaiah 45:24

Those who are taught of God feel that they are
but dust and ashes, that they are vile, carnal,
sold under sin, helpless, and have no might of
their own. Where this experience is—the great
truths of the Gospel become interwoven in their
souls, mingled with their minds, and so entwined
about their hearts—that they are carried away in
their affections . . .
  from earthly things—to heavenly things;
  from sin—to salvation;
  from this world—to that which is to come.

Their hope is in heaven, they have no confidence
in the flesh—but in the Lord alone, they have
righteousness and strength, life and light, joy and
gladness, glory and honor. Unto these things they
look; for these things they seek; upon these things
they live; of these things they boast; and by these
things they defy death, hell and the grave! They
thus put on Christ, walk in Him, commune with
Him—and rest ALL their hopes upon HIS holy life,
and sin-atoning death.

His life is our justification.
His death is . . .
  our redemption,
  our pardon,
  our sanctification,
  our victory, and
  our peace with God.

"You are complete in Him." Colossians 2:10

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

No mistakes!

J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of John")

"My times are in Your hands." Psalm 31:15

The servants of Christ in every age should
treasure up the doctrine before us, and
remember it in time of need. It is full of
sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort
to godly people.

Let such never forget that they live in a world
where God overrules all times and events, and
where nothing can happen but by God's
. The very hairs of their heads are
all numbered. Sorrow and sickness, and poverty,
and persecution, can never touch them—unless
God sees fit.

Then let them work on confidently.

They are immortal—until their work is done.

Let them suffer patiently—if needs be that
they suffer.

That hand guides and governs all things
here below, and makes
no mistakes!

"My times are in Your hands." Psalm 31:15

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The demon was gone!

(J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Mark" 1857)

"She begged Jesus to drive the demon out
 of her daughter." Mark 7:26

"And when she arrived home, her little girl was
 lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone!"
    Mark 7:30

This passage is meant to encourage us to pray
for others. The woman who came to our Lord, in
the history now before us—must doubtless have
been in deep affliction. She saw her beloved child
possessed by a demon. She saw her in a condition
in which no teaching could reach the mind, and no
medicine could heal the body; a condition only
one degree better than death itself.

"She begged Jesus to drive the demon out  of her
She prays for one who could not pray for
herself, and never rests until her prayer is granted.
By prayer she obtains the cure which no human
means could obtain. Through the prayer of the
mother—the daughter is healed. On her own behalf
that daughter did not speak a word; but her mother
spoke for her to the Lord, and did not speak in vain.
Hopeless and desperate as her case appeared, she
had a praying mother—
and where there is a
praying mother—there is always hope.

Fathers and mothers
are especially bound to remember
the case of this woman. They cannot give their children
new hearts.
They can give them Christian education, and
show them the way of life; but they cannot give them—a
heart to love God. Yet there is one thing they can always
do—they can pray for them.

They can pray for the conversion of profligate sons,
who will have their own way, and run greedily into sin.

They can pray for the conversion of worldly
, who set their affections on things
below, and love pleasure more than God.

Such prayers are heard in heaven. Such prayers will often
bring down blessings. Never, never let us forget that the
children for whom many prayers have been offered, seldom
finally perish. Let us pray more for our sons and daughters.
Even when they will not let us speak to them about true
religion, they cannot prevent us speaking for them to God.

"She begged Jesus to drive the demon out
 of her daughter." Mark 7:26

"And when she arrived home, her little girl was
 lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone!"
    Mark 7:30

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

If we were more occupied

(Arthur Pink, "The Attributes of God")

"I have come that they might have life, and that
 they might have it more abundantly!" John 10:10

If we were more occupied with . . .
  God's riches—than with our poverty,
  Christ's fullness—than our emptiness,
  the divine bounties—than our leanness;
on what a different level of experience we would live!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Just what suits me!

(Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan)

Oh, what blessed heavenly lessons have I had
from the Spirit—and how has my heart burned
within me in fresh enjoyment of a precious
Jesus, and His all-fullness! My precious Jesus
is just what suits me—in every case and every
place! Oh, what a gift has my Father bestowed!
Never, in all eternity, shall we fully learn His glories,
beauty, and love. He will be ever revealing Himself
more and more, and filling all our enlarging powers
with ineffable and inconceivable bliss!

"Yes, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved,
 and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He who can truly say this, is a God

(Thomas Brooks, "An Ark for All God's Noahs" 1662)

"The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore
 I will hope in Him." Lamentations 3:24

God is every believer's portion.

Riches are not every believer's portion
—but God is every believer's portion.

Liberty and freedom are not every believer's
portion—but God is every believer's portion.

Honor and applause are not every believer's
portion—but God is every believer's portion.

Prosperity and success are not every believer's
portion—but God is every believer's portion.

God is a universal portion. God is a portion that includes
all other portions. God has Himself the good, the sweet,
the profit, the pleasure, the delight, the comfort—of all
portions. There is no good in wife, child, father, friend,
husband, health, wealth, wit, wisdom, learning, honor
—but is all found in God.

There is in God—an immense fullness, an ocean of goodness,
and an abundance of all that graciousness, sweetness, and
kindness—that is to be found in all other things or creatures.
All the goodnesses of all the creatures, are eminently and
perfectly to be enjoyed in God. The cream, the good, the
sweet, the beauty, and the glory of every creature, and of
every thing—centers in God.

God is a universal excellency. All the particular excellencies
that are scattered up and down among angels, men, and all
other creatures—are virtually and transcendently in Him. He
has them all in His own being. All creatures in heaven and
earth have but their particular excellencies; but God has in
Himself the very quintessence of all excellencies!

The creatures have but drops of that sea, that ocean—which
is in God. They have but their parts of that power, wisdom,
goodness, righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, loveliness,
desirableness, sweetness, graciousness, beauty, and glory
—which is in God. One has this part, and another has that;
one has this particular excellency, and another has that.
But the whole of all these parts and excellencies, are to
be found in God alone!

There is none but that God, who is the universal good,
who can truly say, "All power, all wisdom, all strength,
all knowledge, all goodness, all sweetness, all beauty,
all glory, all excellency, etc., dwells in Me!" He who
can truly say this, is a God
; and he who cannot,
is no God.

All the excellencies that are scattered up and down in the
creatures, are united into one excellency in God. There is
a glorious union of all excellencies in God—and only in God.

Now this God, who is such a universal good, and who has
all excellencies dwelling in Himself, says to the believer,
"I am yours, and all that I have is yours!"

Every believer has the whole God wholly; he has all
of God for his portion. God is not a believer's portion
in a limited sense, nor in a comparative sense—but
in an absolute sense.

God Himself is theirs.

He is wholly theirs.

He is always theirs.

Our property reaches to all that God is,
and to all that God has.

He has all—who has the Possessor of all.

To be able to say, "God is mine!" is more than
if I were able to say that ten thousand worlds,
yes, and as many heavens, are mine! 

Oh what a spring of joy and comfort should
this be to all the saints!

"This God is our God forever and ever!" Ps. 48:14

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Well done!

J. C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Mark" 1857)

People were overwhelmed with amazement.
"He has done all things well!" they said.
     Mark 7:37

The truth to which they gave utterance, is full
of deep and unspeakable comfort; and ought
to be daily remembered by all true Christians.

Let us remember it, as we look BACK over the
past days of our lives, from the hour of our
conversion. "Our Lord has done all things well!"
In the first bringing us out of darkness into His
marvelous light; in humbling us and teaching
us our weakness, guilt, and folly; in stripping
us of our idols; in choosing all our portions; in
placing us where we are, and giving us what
we have—how well everything has been done!
How great the mercy—that we have not had
our own way!

Let us remember it as we look FORWARD to the
days yet to come. We know not what they may be:
bright or dark, many or few. But we do know, that
we are in the hands of Him who does all things well!

He will not err in any of His dealings with us.

He will take away and give;
He will afflict and bereave;
He will move and He will settle, with . . .
  perfect wisdom,
  at the right time,
  in the right way.

The great Shepherd of the sheep makes
no mistakes!
He leads every lamb of His flock
by the right way—to eternal glory.

We shall never see the full beauty of these
words, until the resurrection morning. We shall
then look back over our lives, and know the
meaning of everything which happened—from
first to last. We shall remember all the way
by which we were led—and confess that "all
was well done!"

The why and the wherefore, the causes and the
of everything which now perplexes us—
will be as clear and plain as the sun at noon day.

We shall wonder at our own past blindness,
and marvel that we could ever have doubted
our Lord's love!

People were overwhelmed with amazement.
"He has done all things well!" they said.
     Mark 7:37

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You have no reason to complain

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"Why does a living man complain?" Lamentations 3:39

You have no reason to complain, as long as you are
out of hell. Do you murmur, because you are under pain
and sickness? Nay, bless God, you are not there where
the worm never dies! Do you grudge, that you are not in
so good a condition in the world as some of your neighbors
are? Be thankful, rather, that you are not in the condition
of the damned! Is your money gone from you? Thank God
that the fire of His wrath has not consumed you! Kiss the
rod, O sinner! and acknowledge mercy!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon

(John Flavel)

Whatever we have over-loved, idolized, and
leaned upon
—God has from time to time broken
it, and made us to see the vanity of it; so that we
find the readiest course to be rid of our comforts
—is to set our hearts inordinately upon them.


The only happy man in the world!

(Thomas Brooks, "An Ark for All God's Noahs")

God gives the trifling portions of this world to the
vilest and worst of men; but His gold—His Christ,
Himself—He gives only to His saints. Briers, which
are for hogs, grow upon every hedge; but roses,
which are for men, they only grow in pleasant
gardens. You know how to apply it.

Though many have counterfeit jewels, yet there are
but a few who have the true diamond; though many
have their earthly portions, yet there are but a few
who have God for their portion.

"Happy are the people whose God is the Lord."
    Psalm 144:15

All the happiness and blessedness of the people of
God consists in this—that God is their God, and that
He is their portion, and that they are His inheritance!

Oh, the heaped up happiness of those whose God
is the Lord! The happiness of such is so great and so
glorious, as cannot be conceived, as cannot be uttered!

Nothing can make that man truly miserable, who has
God for his portion; nor can anything make that man
truly happy, who lacks God for his portion.

God is the author of all true happiness.

God is the giver of all true happiness.

God is the maintainer of all true happiness.

God is the center of all true happiness and

Therefore, he who has Him for his God, for his
portion, is the only happy man in the world!

"Happy are the people whose God is the Lord."
    Psalm 144:15

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Move, I beg You, upon my disordered heart

(A Puritan Prayer)

O Holy Spirit,
Move, I beg You, upon my disordered heart.
Take away my unruly desires and hateful lusts.
Lift the mists and darkness of unbelief. Brighten
my soul with the pure light of truth. Make it . . .
  fragrant as the garden of paradise,
  rich with every goodly fruit,
  beautiful with heavenly grace,
  radiant with rays of divine light.
Be my . . .

Take of the things of Christ and show them to my
soul. Through You may I daily learn more of His . . .
Lead me to the cross and show me . . .
  His wounds,
  the hateful nature of evil,
  the power of Satan.

May I there see my sins as . . .
  the nails which transfixed Him,
  the cords which bound Him,
  the thorns which tore Him,
  the sword which pierced Him.

Help me to find in His death—the
reality and immensity of His love.

Open for me the wondrous volumes of truth in His
death. Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of . . .
  atonement achieved,
  redemption completed,
  guilt done away,
  my debt paid,
  my sins forgiven,
  my soul saved,
  hell vanquished,
  heaven opened,
  eternity made mine.

O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons.
Write them upon my heart, that my walk be . . .

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The comforts of grace and godliness

(Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)

"The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:3

There are no comforts which can compare to the comforts of grace and godliness.

1. Worldly comfort is only external. It is but skin-deep, "In the midst of laughter, the heart is sorrowful." But the comfort which flows from godliness is an inward comfort, a spiritual joy; therefore it is called gladness of heart. "You have put gladness in my heart." Other joy smoothes the brow—but this fills the heart.

2. Worldly comfort is always mixed. The spring of worldly comfort is in the creature, in some earthly enjoyment; and, therefore, the comfort of worldly men must needs be mixed and muddy. "An unclean fountain cannot send forth pure water." But spiritual comfort has an upper spring. The comfort which accompanies godliness, flows from the manifestations of the love of God in Christ, from the workings of the blessed Spirit in the heart—who is first a Counselor, and then a Comforter. Therefore the comforts of the saints must needs be pure and unmixed comforts—for they flow from a pure spring.

3. Worldly comfort is very fading and transitory. "The triumphing of the wicked is but short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment." Solomon compares it to the "crackling of thorns under a pot," which is but a blaze—and soon out. So is the comfort of carnal hearts. But the comfort of godliness is a durable and abiding comfort, "your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man shall take from you." The comfort of godliness is lasting—yes everlasting; it abides by us in life, in death, and after death!

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An ideal Christian home

(J. R. Miller, "Home-making" 1882)

An ideal Christian home ought to be a place where love rules. It ought to be beautiful, bright, joyous, full of tenderness and affection, a place in which all are growing happier and holier each day. There should never be any discord, any wrangling, any angry words or bitter feelings. The home-life should be a harmonious song without one marring note, day after day. The home, no matter how humble it is, how plain, how small—should be the dearest spot on the earth to each member of the family. It should be made so happy a place, and so full of life, that no matter where one may wander in after years, in any of the ends of the earth—his home should still hold its invisible cords of influence about him, and should ever draw resistless upon his heart. It ought to be the one spot in all the earth, to which he would turn first, when in trouble or in danger. It should be his refuge, in every trial and grief.

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Books and magazines

(J. R. Miller, "Home-making" 1882)

In considering the influences in the home-life which leave deep and permanent impressions on character, thought must be given to the books and magazines which are read. On the printed pages which fly everywhere like the leaves of autumn, drifting to our doors and swept into our innermost chambers—are borne to us the golden thoughts of the best and wisest men and women of all ages. The blessings which the printing press scatters, are infinite and rich beyond all estimates. But the same press which today gives us pure and holy thoughts, words of truth and life; tomorrow gives us veiled suggestions of evil, words of honeyed sweetness—but in which deadly poison is concealed!

It is fabled that a soldier found a casket which was reported to be full of valuable treasures. It was opened, and out of it came a poisonous atmosphere which caused a terrible plague in the army. Just so—many a book which is bound in bright colors, has stored within those covers, the most deadly moral influences! To open it in a pure home, among young and tender lives, is to let loose evils which never can be gathered back and locked up again!

The printing press puts into the hands of parents a means of good, which they may use to the greatest advantage in the culture of their home-life, and in the shaping of the lives of their household. But they must keep a most diligent watch over the pages which they introduce. They should know the character of every book and magazine which comes within their doors, and should resolutely exclude everything which would defile. Then, while they exclude everything whose influence would be for evil, if they are wise they will bring into their home as much as possible of pure, elevating, and refining literature. Every beautiful thought which enters a child's mind, adds to the strength and loveliness of the character in after days. The educating influence of the best books and magazines is incalculable, and no parent can afford to lose it in the training of his family.

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Absolutely and without question

(J. R. Miller, "Home-making" 1882)

"If you love Me, you will obey what I command." John 14:15

God is our Father and we are His children. We are to obey Him absolutely and without question. Yet it is no blind obedience. We know that He loves us with a deep, tender, unchanging love. We know that He is wiser than we, infinitely wiser, and can never err. We know that when He denies a request—that the granting of it would be unkindness. We know that when He leads us in another path than the one we had marked out—that His is the right way. We know that when He chastens or corrects—that there is love in His chastisement or correction. We know that in all His government and discipline—that He is seeking only our highest good. Our whole duty therefore as God's children, is to yield ourselves to His will.

"If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:23

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Our children

(J. R. Miller, "Home-Making" 1882)

Parents! You are fashioning the destinies of immortal souls!

What we want to do with our children, is not merely to control them and keep them in order—but to implant true principles deep in their hearts which shall rule their whole lives; to shape their character from within into Christlike beauty, and to make of them noble men and women, strong for battle of life. They are to be trained rather than governed. Growth of character, not merely good behavior—is the object of all home governing and teaching. Therefore the home influence is far more important than the home laws; and the parents' lives are of more significance than their teachings. Whatever may be done in the way of governing, teaching or training—theories are not half as important as the parents' lives. They may teach the most beautiful things—but if the child does not see these things modeled in the life of the parent—he will not consider them important enough to be adopted in his own life.

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Four walls do not make a home

(J. R. Miller, "Home-Making" 1882)

Four walls do not make a home—though it is a palace filled with all the elegances which wealth can buy! The home-life itself is more important than the house and its adornments. By the home-life, is meant the happy art of living together in tender love. We enter some homes, and they are full of sweetness—as fields of summer flowers are full of fragrance. All is order, beauty, gentleness and peace. We enter other homes, where we find jarring, selfishness, harshness and disorder. This difference is not accidental. They are influences at work in each home, which yield just the result we see in each. No home-life can ever be better than the life of those who make it.

Homes are the real schools in which men and women are trained—and fathers and mothers are the real teachers and builders of life!

Sadly, the goal which most parents have for their home—is to have as good and showy a house as they can afford, furnished in as rich a style as their means will warrant, and then to live in it as comfortably as they are able, without too much exertion or self-denial.

But the true idea of a Christian home, is that it is a place for spiritual growth. It is a place for the parents themselves to grow—to grow into beauty of character, to grow in spiritual refinement, in knowledge, in strength, in wisdom, in patience, gentleness, kindliness, and all the Christian graces and virtues. It is a place for children to grow—to grow into physical vigor and health, and to be trained in all that shall make them true and noble men and women.

A true home is set up and all its life ordered—for the definite purpose of training, building up and sending our human lives fashioned into Christlike symmetry, filled with lofty impulses and aspirations, governed by principles of rectitude and honor, and fitted to enter upon the duties and struggles of life with spiritual wisdom and strength.

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Our continual and absolute need of Christ

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!"
1 Peter 2:7

The sense we have of our continual and absolute need of Christ, has a tendency to engage our affections to Him. At our first conversion, when we were turned from darkness to light—we saw ourselves lost—and that none but Christ could save us. We felt the wounds of a guilty conscience—and we knew that He alone could heal them. We trembled before the offended Majesty of God—and we were persuaded that He alone could deliver us from the wrath to come. We saw that there was no remission of sin, no reconciliation with God, no salvation—but through Jesus. Hence He became, at that period—all in all to us.

We still see the absolute necessity of this precious Savior in every respect, so that without Him we can do nothing, as He Himself has told us. We have need of Him . . .
  when we are dark—to enlighten us;
  when we are dull and lifeless—to quicken us;
  when we are weak—to strengthen us;
  when we are tempted—to support us;
  when we have fallen—to raise and restore us;
  when we are disquieted with fears—to encourage us;

  when we are full of doubts and perplexity—to comfort us and give us peace;
  when we are staggering at the promises through unbelief—to increase our faith.
As none but Christ can do these things for us—He must be precious to our souls. "Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!" 1 Peter 2:7

If Jesus Christ is precious to us—the bent of our souls will be towards Him. We shall choose Him above and beyond every other object, as our most desirable portion, and exceeding great reward.

If anything in this world is chosen by us as our chief good—our hearts will run out in strongest affections towards it. We shall look for our felicity in that object, be it what it may; that object therefore, and not Christ, will be most precious unto us.

If our regard for the Redeemer is supreme, as it ought to be—our whole hearts will go out after Him in the most intense longings, and with the most ardent desires. The heart of a believer is restless, until it obtains—a solid hope and persuasion of Christ's love, a growing conformity to Him, and sincere delight in Him. The soul rests and acquiesces in Him alone, and is not happy without the enjoyment of some tokens of His love. The language of such a one is, "If I have Christ for my friend, and my everlasting portion—I have all. When His face is hidden, and His comforts withdrawn, I seek Him with restless desire, and often cry—O that I knew where I might find Him!"

Reign, blessed Jesus, in my heart—reign supreme, and without a rival. I would sincerely love You above all things in heaven or earth. I see that You are infinitely glorious in Yourself, and worthy of my highest esteem and love. You are the only all-sufficient good—the overflowing spring of grace and blessedness. All things beneath and besides you—are vanity and emptiness. In comparison with you, they are less than nothing. You have drawn my heart towards Yourself, and made me willing to make choice of You, as my Savior, and my Portion. I would renounce all that the world calls good or great—that I may be entirely Yours. Be my everlasting inheritance, and I shall desire nothing that the whole world can bestow. Whom have I in heaven but You? There is nothing on earth that I desire in comparison of You! What can the present world afford—to tempt me to relinquish You? I would therefore bid 'adieu' to the gaudy pomps and empty vanities of life—and give my heart supremely to You. O may all the alluring trifles and vain delights of this world stand aloof from my heart—for I have devoted it to my Redeemer for His habitation. Keep your distance, O captivating delusions, from the gates of my heart, where You alone should dwell. There may You reign alone, over all my desires forever!

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Supremely precious

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!"
    1 Peter 2:7

If Christ is truly precious to us—we shall prefer Him above every other object; He will have the chief place in our affections. The love which a Christian has to his Savior, penetrates and possesses his heart. This distinguishes it from the pretended love of hypocrites, which is only in word, or in some external actions, while their hearts are full of sinful self-love; so that it may be said of them, "This people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me."

We may possibly delight in some objects of an inferior nature, as they contribute to our health, our ease, or our comfort. Our homes, our food, and our other temporal enjoyments are dear to us, because they minister to our comfort and convenience in the present life. But true love for Christ, does not allow any other object to hold the chief place in the heart. This chief place is for Jesus, whom we ought to love with supreme ardor. The choicest affections of our souls ought to be supremely fixed upon Him.

As it is impossible for any man to love an unknown object—so it cannot be expected that Christ should be supremely precious unto us, unless we know Him to be excellent and desirable, beyond whatever may be compared with Him. We shall not esteem Him above all things—if we have not elevated views of His transcendent worth. Our esteem of Him rises in proportion to the knowledge we have of Him. Godly men therefore ardently desire to increase in the knowledge of Him—that their affections may be more intensely fixed upon Him.

That love, which has but created things for its object, is degrading to the soul. It is a cleaving to that which can neither give happiness to our souls, nor repose to our minds. For to love any object ardently, is to seek our felicity in it, and to expect that it will answer our desires. It is to call upon it to fill that deep void which we feel in ourselves, and to imagine that it is capable of giving us the satisfaction we seek. It is to regard it as the resource of all our needs, the remedy of all the troubles which oppress us, and the source of all our happiness. Now, as it is God alone in whom we can find all these advantages, it is a debasing of the soul, it is idolatry to seek them in created objects! "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!" Philippians 3:8

If Christ is truly precious to us—we shall be induced to devote our souls and our bodies, our talents, our abilities and our faculties—as a living sacrifice to Him. To contemplate His adorable perfections will be our highest joy. We shall be ready to obey Him—in opposition to all the threats and the solicitations of men. We shall rely upon Him, though all outward appearances seem to be against us. We shall rejoice in Him, though we have nothing else to comfort us. If we enjoy health and plenty, friends and reputation, the Lord is still the object of our earnest desires and our supreme delight. "Whom have I in heaven but you? There is none upon earth that I desire besides you! As the deer pants for the water-brooks, so longs my soul after you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!"

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Had I a thousand lives, a thousand souls

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

"My meditation of Him shall be sweet!" Psalm 104:34

It is the tendency of love—to excite in the mind, many thoughts about the beloved object. A right knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, will fill the mind with thoughts and meditations concerning Him—so as to excite the affections to cleave to Him with delight. A discovery of the glory of His person, of the perfection of His atoning sacrifice, and of the fullness of His grace—must inspire the heart with love to Him! "Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!" 1 Peter 2:7

It is much to be lamented—that those who profess a sincere attachment to the Redeemer, should have their thoughts so little employed about Him. Where a multitude of worldly cares, desires, fears and hopes prevail in the mind—they cumber and perplex it—so as to bring on a great disinclination to spiritual meditation.

The advice of the apostle Paul is of great importance in this case, "If you then are risen with Christ—seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your affection (your mind, your thoughts,) on things above, not on things on the earth." But earthly and sensual affections fill the hearts and heads of men, with multitudes of thoughts concerning those objects on which they are fixed, so as to leave no room, nor any inclination for spiritual and heavenly thoughts.

"Shall not my thoughts," says the believer, "be frequently employed in meditating on the love of that infinitely glorious person, to whom I am indebted for deliverance from the greatest misery—and for all the hope I have of being one day advanced to everlasting glory and felicity! He poured out His holy soul in agonies, under the curse of the avenging law—to make me a partaker of eternal blessedness! He perfectly fulfilled the precepts of that holy law, that I, by His obedience, might be made righteous!"

This glorious and adorable Redeemer, thought upon us long before the foundations of the world were laid. He bore us on His heart when He hung on the cross; when He was torn with wounds, and racked with pain; when He poured out His dying groans, and spilt His blood. He remembers us now, when He is exalted at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens; and will never, never forget us, through all the ages of eternity! Surely, then, we ought to think of Him! Impressed with a sense of His everlasting kindness—we should be ready to say, as the captives in Babylon, concerning their beloved city Jerusalem, "If I forget You, O blessed Jesus—let my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember You, if I don't make You my highest joy!"

What holy transports of soul, what divine delights—have many Christians experienced, in meditating on the glories of the Redeemer! Ascending the mount of contemplation, their souls have taken wing—and explored the height and depth, the length and breadth of the love of Christ, which passes knowledge! They have seen, by the eye of faith—that He is infinitely lovely in Himself, that He is the admiration of angels, the darling of heaven, and the delight of the Father! They have viewed Him in the brightness of His ineffable glory, clothed with indescribable majesty and honor! They have been transported with the smiles of His countenance, and said of Him, "He is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely!"

They have also considered their own unworthiness, and said, "Can such a wretch as I—be the object of His love? So vile a worm, so unprofitable a creature, so great a sinner, one so deserving of his everlasting abhorrence! Has He loved me, so as to give Himself for me? O what marvelous kindness is this! Is my worthless name written in His book of life? Am I redeemed by His blood, renewed by His Spirit, beautified with His loveliness, and clothed in His righteousness? O wonder of wonders! How can I forbear to love this adorable Savior? Can I withhold my choicest affections from Him? Ah no! Had I a thousand lives, a thousand souls—they would all be devoted to Him! You tempting vanities of this base world; you flattering honors, you deceitful riches— Adieu! Jesus is my all! He is my light, my life, my unfailing treasure, my everlasting portion! Nothing below the skies, is deserving of my love! Precious Redeemer, in You the boundless wishes of my soul are filled! I long to leave this tenement of clay, and to rest in the bosom of Your love forever!"

"My meditation of Him shall be sweet!" Psalm 104:34

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Stricken and smitten and afflicted

(John Fawcett, "Christ Precious")

God has magnified His love, and set forth the riches of His grace towards us, in a manner which should effectually allure our hearts to Him. While we were enemies and rebels in open arms against Him—He was pleased to send his beloved Son to die for our sins—in order to redeem us from sin and hell. Christ came down from his Father's bosom—not to condemn the world of mankind, but to give His life and blood for our sakes; to make His soul an offering for our sins, to suffer inconceivable anguish and sorrow, and to die for us—that He might bring us back to God and happiness. He poured out His soul to death, to secure us from the deserved wrath and vengeance of God. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, that we through His stripes might be healed. He was stricken and smitten and afflicted by God—that He might open the way for us to partake of Divine mercy, and render Himself a more engaging object of our love.

He is the beloved Son of God, the first and the everlasting favorite of heaven, the highest object of his Father's delight; He is the great peace-maker between God and sinners, the chief messenger of divine love to men. If He had not undertaken to make peace by His atoning sacrifice, we would have continued the children of wrath forever! He came to deliver us from our state of enmity and rebellion, to save us from sin and its dreadful consequences, from the curse of God's righteous law, and from everlasting destruction. His heart was pierced for the sake of sinful men. The messages of His love—He has written to us in lines of blood. This is that divine Savior who, though disregarded by many, is precious to those that believe. "Yes, He is very precious to you who believe!" 1 Peter 2:7

Love to the divine Redeemer is the distinguishing characteristic of a real Christian, and most indispensably requirement in order to our serving God acceptably in this world, and to our dwelling with Him in the next world. "If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed!" 1 Corinthians 16:22