Grace Gems for February 2011

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A lamp for my feet

J.R. Miller)

"Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path." Psalm 119:105

God's Word is represented as a lamp for the feet.

It is a "lamp" not a blazing sun, nor even a lighthouse but a plain, common lamp or lantern which one can carry about in the hand.

It is a lamp "for the feet," not throwing its beams afar, not illumining a hemisphere but shining only on the one little bit of road on which the pilgrim's feet are walking.

The law of divine guidance is, "Step by step". One who carries a lantern on a country-road at night, sees only one step before him. If he takes that step, he carries his lantern forward, and thus makes another step plain. At length he reaches his destination in safety, without once stepping into darkness. The whole way has been made light for him, though only a single step of it at a time. This illustrates the usual method of God's guidance.

If this is the way God guides, it ought never to be hard for us to find our duty. It never lies far away, inaccessible to us but is always near. It never lies out of our sight, in the darkness, for God never puts our duty where we cannot see it. The thing that we think may be our duty but which is still lying in obscurity and uncertainty, is not our duty yet, whatever it may be a little farther on. The duty for the very moment is always clear and that is as far as we need concern ourselves; for when we do the little that is clear, we will carry the light on, and it will shine on the next moment's step.

Jesus said, "He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness." Prompt, unquestioning, undoubting following of Christ takes all the perplexity out of Christian life and gives unbroken peace. There never is a moment without its duty; and if we are living near to Christ and following Him closely, we shall never be left in ignorance of what He wants us to do.

Our daily prayer should be, "Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me." Psalm 119:133

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Jesus is only precious to believers

(James Smith, "Christ Precious!" 1861)

"Unto you therefore who believe He is precious!" 1 Peter 2:7

Every believer VALUES Christ. Let others think of Him as they may all who are taught of God, think highly of Him. They can never honor Him as they wish, or enjoy Him to their full satisfaction.

Every believer feels their NEED of him.
No weary traveler ever felt his need of rest,
no hungry laborer ever felt his need of food,
no drowning mariner ever felt his need of a life-boat
  as the believer has felt his need of Christ!
They need to be saved and only Christ can save them.
They need to be happy and only Jesus can make them happy.
They need His blood to cleanse them from sin, and procure their pardon.
They need His righteousness to clothe their souls, and justify them before God.
They need His Spirit to sanctify their nature, and make them fit for Heaven.
They need His intercession to secure them from evil, and procure for them good things.
They need His fullness of grace to supply all their needs, from earth to Heaven.

Every believer discovers the exact SUITABILITY of Christ to them.
He is just what they need He has all that they need!
They are foolish and He has wisdom.
They are unrighteous and He has righteousness.
They are unholy and He has holiness.
They are weak and He has strength.
They are in bondage and He has redemption.
They are lost and He has salvation.
In a word, they are led to see that God has stored up everything in Jesus, and that possessing Him they have all things!

Every Christian believes on Him to the saving of the soul. They trust Him to procure their pardon, peace with God, and everlasting life.
Their heart goes out to Him,
they repose confidence in Him,
they commit their souls to Him,
they build on Him as God's foundation;
they hide in Him as the sinner's refuge; and
they trust themselves with Him as the almighty Savior.

"Unto you therefore who believe He is precious!"

But Jesus is only precious to believers. Others do not feel their need of Him, do not see His adaptation to them, and do not depend on Him for pardon, peace with God, and everlasting life.

Beloved, do you have this saving faith which renders Christ so precious?

If so, admire the sovereign and distinguishing grace of God, which has conferred so great a blessing upon you for not all are given saving faith.

If so, realize the importance of this faith which renders Christ so precious.
It is the eye which sees the beauty of Christ.
It is the foot which travels to Christ.
It is the hand which lays hold of Christ.
It is the mouth which tastes the sweetness of Christ.
It is the inward principle which clings and cleaves to Christ.

Avoid therefore whatever weakens faith, or interrupts its exercise; and prize whatever strengthens it, and makes it vigorous!

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Losses, crosses, disappointments and bereavements

(James Smith, "Christ Precious!" 1861)

"Unto you therefore who believe He is precious!" 1 Peter 2:7

Christ is especially precious to believers when the emptiness of the world is discovered. The soul having tried the world, has found it . . .
  false and fickle,
  an empty cistern,
  a dry well,
  a cloud without water,
  only vanity and vexation of spirit!

The Christian has experienced that . . .
  the world's pleasures end in pain,
  its honors end in disgrace,
  and its wealth ends in absolute poverty.

Now turning from the world, to Jesus it finds . . .
  solid happiness,
  substantial pleasure,
  full supplies.

It obtains . . .
  a deep and lasting peace which passes all understanding,
  unsearchable riches in Christ, and
  honors which will never pass away.

O how precious is Jesus, when this world appears to be a valley of tears! Almost everything earthly is at times calculated to . . .
  cause sorrow,
  fill us with sadness,
  and draw forth tears.
Losses, crosses, disappointments and bereavements all conspire to make us sad. Earth is to us a Valley of Achor the place of trouble and sorrow.

Now turning to Jesus, we find a friend who loves at all times, and a brother born for adversity.
He makes up for every loss,
He sanctifies every disappointment,
and He fills for us every relation.

His presence is . . .
  like a flowing spring in a dreary desert,
  like a cheering fire on a piercing winter's night,
  and like a happy home to the exhausted traveler.

O how precious is Jesus now!

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The almighty power of God is exerted!

(James Smith, "The New Creation" 1861)

"Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature." 2 Corinthians 5:17

It is a miraculous thing to be a Christian for real Christianity is the effect of a new creation! To make a Christian, requires the same power as to make a world nothing less can raise a sinner from a death in trespasses and sins!

In every instance of real conversion the almighty power of God is exerted!

The distinguishing PRIVILEGE of the believer, is that he is "in Christ." We were all originally in fallen Adam, and from his loins we flowed. No one is in Christ by nature but only by an act of sovereign grace. Yet all Christians are in Christ nor can anyone be a Christian without being vitally united to Christ.

As the manslayer fled to the city of refuge for safety so does the believer flee to Christ.

As Noah entered into the ark for preservation from the deluge so does the believer hide in Christ, that he may be preserved from the wrath to come.

As the branch is in the vine, supported and supplied by the vine, and forms a part of the vine so is the believer in Christ, supported and supplied by Christ!

As the member is in the body, presided over by the head, and forms part of the body so the Christian is in Christ, is presided over by Christ, and forms part of Christ. "For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones."

Christ dwells in the believer as His temple.
The believer dwells in Christ as his refuge, stronghold, and ark of safety.

The invariable RESULT of being in Christ, is that "he is a new creature."

Being in Christ, we are new created and have a new LIFE, which is spiritual, derived from a new source, not from Adam but from Christ.

Being in Christ, we feed on new PROVISION even the bread of life which came down from Heaven, and the living water which only Jesus can give.

Being in Christ, we are occupied with new SUBJECTS, which are placed before us by the gospel and engage our thoughts, affections, and time.

Being in Christ, we are engaged in new EMPLOYMENTS, we work the works of God, endeavor to do the will of God from the heart, and to glorify our glorious Savior.

Being in Christ, we walk in a new PATH the way of holiness. We walk in newness of life. We walk with God and desire to walk worthy of God, who has called us unto His kingdom and glory.

Being in Christ, we act from new MOTIVES, for the love of Christ constrains us, and we no longer labor for eternal life, because we have it; nor for Heaven, because we have already received a title to it but as bought with a price, we desire only to glorify God in our acts and thoughts.

Being in Christ, we join a new SOCIETY, for we choose the company of the saints, whom we esteem as the excellent of the earth; and therefore we join ourselves to the disciples.

Being in Christ, we look for a new HEAVEN, and in order to the possession of it, we wait for Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come.

O blessed state to be in Christ! O glorious privilege and distinction to be new creatures!

Union to Christ is of the greatest IMPORTANCE. Without this there is no eternal safety, no true dignity, no solid happiness. It is only as one with Christ that we are justified, that we are sanctified, that we can be glorified. Let us never rest satisfied with anything short of union to Christ, and that manifested in living fellowship with Christ.

Only by a new birth, only as born of the Spirit can we come into the enjoyment of this blessed privilege, or enjoy this high distinction. Let no one therefore stop short of that thorough change of heart, which results from saving union with the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The old serpent is almost sure to be lurking in our path!

(James Smith, "The Great Deceiver!" 1861)

"That old serpent called the devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world." Revelation 12:9

Our ENEMY. He is "that old serpent," full of subtlety, craft, and cunning. He is powerful, far beyond what most give him credit for and brings the experience of six thousand years to bear upon his victims. None escape his notice, or remain unmolested by him.

He is full of bitter hatred to believers, because they love the Savior, and desire to honor Him. His malice is deep and dreadful, which prompts him in every way to seek to injure them. He hates them because . . .
they have escaped out of his hand,
they oppose his kingdom and government;
they hate sin, and pant, and pray, and strive for holiness.

He is a terrible foe, for he never wearies, and though foiled a thousand times he will renew the attack! If he knows that he cannot devour us, he will do all he can to worry us; and though we may be off our guard he is never off his.

His WORK. "He deceives the whole world." He deceives by misrepresenting objects.

He represents sin as harmless, painful, pleasant, and much to be desired.

He represents holiness as repulsive, injurious, gloomy, and undignified.

He represents man to himself as innocent, dignified, and deserving God's blessing.

He represents himself as man's friend, pitying, and wishing to elevate him, and make him happy.

He represents God as severe, cruel, revengeful, and almost implacable.

He represents the law as harsh, severe, and unnecessarily strict.

He represents the gospel as degrading to man, and very little better than the law.

He represents the Savior as a stern law-giver, an unbending judge, and one very difficult to please.

Indeed, every spiritual object is misrepresented by him!

Then by prejudices, errors, or superstition he . . .
   blinds the mind,
   conceals the true nature of the gospel,
   and hides the Savior from man's view.
"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God!"

He makes use of all kinds of error, and all sorts of false teachers, to . . .
hinder God's work,
eclipse the glory of the gospel,
and destroy the souls of men.
If he can lull the soul into false security, his end is answered, and the doom of the poor creature is sealed!

If we were not so ignorant of his devices, or did not forget his unwearied activity, deep rooted malice, and fixed determination by all means to ruin souls we would not trifle with him as we do.

The Extent of His SUCCESS. "He deceives the whole world!" We were all under his dominion once. We loved his service, believed his lies, and but for the mercy of God, would have surely perished in our sins!

All around us we see Satan working, deceiving, and leading souls captive at his will. This should make us think and act soberly, as Peter says, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour! Stand firm against him, and be strong in the faith."

It should lead us to walk carefully, for the old serpent is almost sure to be lurking in our path!

It should lead us to examine diligently, lest we should be deceived; for if he deceives the whole world, with all its learning, shrewdness, and knowledge we may well examine carefully, lest he deceive us!

It should lead us to pray fervently. Think of the power and subtlety of the old serpent! Have we not need to cry mightily to God, that he would keep us by His power, shield us by His presence, and preserve us by His grace unto His kingdom and glory.

It should lead us to watch daily, for in a sense, we are always in danger! If we sleep Satan does not! If we are off our guard he is ready to take advantage, in order to injure us.

O for wisdom to resist Satan, and overcome him!

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You can't love God and the world

(by James A. La Belle)

"You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." James 4:4

It is my firm conviction that worldliness is destroying the church of Jesus Christ. The church is more and more becoming . . .
  like the world,
  indistinguishable from the world,
  pursuers of the world,
  lovers of the world.

Our relationship with Jesus Christ is hardly more than an appendage or appendix to our busy, worldly lives. We are no longer distinguished as separate, consecrated, pilgrims, sojourners, or holy unto the Lord; instead, we have . . .
  eyes full of the world,
  hearts in love with the world,
  ears attentive to the world,
  lips filled with worldly speech,
  hands filled with worldly things,
  feet comfortable with worldly paths, and
  bodies no longer ready to depart and be with Jesus since that would mean giving up the world.

There is a heaven to be won and a hell to be shunned, and all those who have no visible, practical, transforming, determinative, self-denying, world-abhorring love for Jesus Christ will be anathema at His coming!

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions is not from the Father but is from the world." 1 John 2:15-16

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God's way!

(James Smith, "Daily Bible Readings for the Lord's Household")

"He led them forth by the RIGHT WAY to a city where they could settle!" Psalm 107:7

It was not the smoothest way,
nor the shortest way,
nor the most frequented way
  but it was the BEST way!

It was the only RIGHT way!

He intended to prove them, and to display His wonders and this way afforded an opportunity for both.

Thus it is with all God's people.
He has marked out the way in His unerring wisdom;
He guides them into it,
He tries them by it,
He leads them along it, and
glorifies Himself by doing so!

God's way is always contrary to that which flesh and blood would choose. We want . . .
  and honor.

But the Lord intends that we shall have . . .
  fortitude, and
  confidence in Himself alone.

His design is . . .
  to empty us,
  to strip us,
  to humble us,
  to force us before His throne of grace;
  to endear the adorable Savior,
  to sweeten the precious promises,
  to make Heaven more desirable.

And this He effects by sanctifying the trials, the losses, the disappointments, and the troubles we meet with along the narrow way.

Beloved, is yours . . .
  a rough way,
  a trying path,
  a perplexing road?

It is the RIGHT way!

The Lord is leading you and He never leads wrong!

"He led them forth by the RIGHT WAY to a city where they could settle!"

"They were longing for a better country a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them!" Hebrews 11:16

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The Lord's care of His people

(James Smith, "Daily Bible Readings for the Lord's Household")

"He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land." Hosea 6:3

The Lord's care of His people is incessant.

No parent was ever so vigilant over a precious and only child.

No gardener was ever so attentive to a delicate and favorite plant.

God visits, He watches, He supplies.

He studies our needs, and provides for each of them.

He says, "I, the LORD, watch over it; I water it continually." Isaiah 27:3

God's SUPPLY will be constant in every season.
It will be suitable like refreshing moisture to a thirsty plant.
It will be in small portions as the gently falling rain.
It will be imperceptible like the morning dews.
It is by these divine 'supplies' that our graces are kept alive.

If the Lord would cease to water we would soon wither and die!

Our dependence on Him is absolute!

Our obligations to His love are infinite!

Let us not imagine that we are not watered, because we do not sensibly feel it. The constancy, and the gentle gradual manner in which we are supplied, render His loving care virtually imperceptible.

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A Father's hand!

(Octavius Winslow)

"My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15

Our times of adversity are also in God's hand. As every sunbeam that brightens, so every cloud that darkens, comes from God. We are subject to great and sudden reverses in our earthly condition. Joy is often followed by grief; prosperity is often followed by adversity. We are on the pinnacle today; tomorrow at its bottom. Oh! What a change may one event and one moment create! But, beloved, ALL is from the Lord!

Afflictions do not spring from the soil, nor do troubles sprout from the ground. Sorrow cannot come until God bids it. Until God in His sovereignty permits
  health cannot fade,
  wealth cannot vanish,
  comfort cannot decay,
  friendship cannot chill, and
  loved ones cannot die.

Your time of sorrow is His appointment. The bitter cup which it may please the Lord that you shall drink this year, will not be mixed by human hands. In the hand of the Lord, is that cup!

Some treasure you are now pressing to your heart He may ask you to resign.
Some blessing you now possess He may bid you to relinquish.
Some fond expectation you now cherish He may will that you should forego.
Some lonely path He may design that you should tread.

Yes, He may even bereave you of all and yet all, ALL is in His hand! His hand! A Father's hand, moving in thick darkness, is shaping every event, and arranging every detail in your life!

Has sickness laid you on a bed of suffering?
Has bereavement darkened your home?
Has adversity impoverished your resources?
Has change lessened your comforts?
Has sorrow in one of its many forms crushed your spirit to the earth?
The Lord has done it!

In all that has been sent,
in all that has be recalled, and
in all that has been withheld
His hand, noiseless and unseen, has brought it about!

Ah! yes, that hand of changeless love . . .
  blends a sweet with every bitter;
  pencils a bright rainbow in each dark cloud;
  upholds each faltering step;
  shelters within its hollow and guides with unerring skill, His chosen people safe to eternal glory!

Dear child of God, your afflictions, your trials, your crosses, your losses, your sorrows all, ALL are in your heavenly Father's hand, and they cannot come until sent by Him!

Bow that stricken heart! Yield that tempest-tossed soul to His sovereign disposal, to His calm, righteous sway, in the submissive spirit and language of your suffering Savior, "May Your will, O my Father! not mine, be done. My times of sadness and of grief are in Your hand."

Beloved, all is in your Father's hand! Be those times what they may:
  times of trial,
  times of temptation,
  times of suffering,
  times of peril,
  times of sunshine or of gloom,
  or times of life or death,
they are in your Father's hand!

Has the Lord seen fit . . .
  to recall some fond blessing,
  to deny some earnest request, or
  painfully to discipline your heart?
All this springs from a Father's love as fully as though He had unlocked His treasury and poured its costliest gifts at your feet!

All of our times are in our Redeemer's hands! That same Redeemer who carried our sorrows in His heart, our curse and sins on His soul, our cross on His shoulder; who died, who rose again, and who lives and intercedes for us, and who will gather all His ransomed around Him in glory is your Guardian and your Guide! Your times are in the hands of Him who still bears the print of the nails!

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It is I!

(Octavius Winslow)

"Take courage! It is I! Do not be afraid." Mark 6:50

Listen, then, to the voice of Jesus in the storm!

It is I who raised the tempest in your soul and will control it.

It is I who sent your affliction and will be with you in it.

It is I who kindled the furnace and will watch the flames, and bring you through it.

It is I who formed your burden, who carved your cross and who will strengthen you to bear it.

It is I who mixed your cup of grief and will enable you to drink it with meek submission to your Father's will.

It is I who took from you worldly substance, who bereft you of your child, of the wife of your bosom, of the husband of your youth and will be infinitely better to you than husband, wife, or child.

It is I
who has done it ALL!

I make the clouds My chariot, and clothe Myself with the tempest as with a garment. The night hour is My time of coming, and the dark, surging waves are the pavement upon which I walk. Take courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.

It is I your Friend, your Brother, your Savior! I am causing all the circumstances of your life to work together for your good.

It is I who permitted . . .
  the enemy to assail you,
  the slander to blast you,
  the unkindness to wound you,
  the need to press you!
Your affliction did not spring out of the ground, but came down from above a heaven-sent blessing disguised as an angel of light, clad in a robe of ebony.

I have sent all in love!

This sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God.

This bereavement shall not always bow you to the earth, nor drape in changeless gloom your life. It is I who ordered, arranged, and controlled it all!

In every stormy wind,
in every darksome night,
in every lonesome hour,
in every rising fear,
  the voice of Jesus shall be heard, saying, "Take courage! It is I! Do not be afraid."

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The flaming sword of justice quenched in the holy, loving bosom of Jesus!

(Octavius Winslow)

"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree!" 1 Peter 2:24

The most significant and appalling demonstration of God's holiness that the universe ever beheld, infinitely distancing and transcending every other is the sufferings and death of His only and beloved Son! The cross of Calvary exhibits God's hatred and punishment of sin in a way and to an extent which the annihilation of millions of worlds, swept from the face of the universe by the broom of His wrath, could never have done!

Behold the most solemn display of God's hatred of sin! Finding the sins of the Church upon Christ as its Surety, Substitute, and Savior the wrath of God was poured out upon Him without measure! Finding the sins of His people laid upon His Son God emptied all the vials of His wrath due to their transgressions, upon His holy soul! Go, my soul, to Calvary, and learn how holy God is, and what a monstrous thing sin is, and how imperiously, solemnly, and holily bound, Jehovah is to punish it, either in the person of the sinner, or in the person of a Surety. Never was the Son of God dearer to the Father than at the very moment that the sword of divine justice, flaming and flashing, pierced His holy heart to its hilt!

But it was the wrath of God, not against His beloved Son but against the sins which met on Him when presenting Himself on the cross as the substitutionary sacrifice and offering for His Church. He gave Himself for us!

What a new conception must angels have formed of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, when they beheld the flaming sword of justice quenched in the holy, loving bosom of Jesus! And in what a dazzling light does this fact place the marvelous love of God to sinners! Man's sin and God's love; the indescribable enormity of the one and the immeasurable greatness of the other; are exhibited in the cross of Christ as nowhere else.

Oh, to learn experimentally these two great facts: sin's infinite hatefulness and a loving God's infinite holiness! The love of God in giving His Son to die; the love of Christ in dying and the essential turpitude and unmitigated enormity of sin, which demanded a Sacrifice so Divine, so holy, and so precious!

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For me a worm!

(Octavius Winslow)

"The Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins" Galatians 1:3-4

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins" 1 John 2:2

O what an astonishing truth is this! The Son of God offering Himself up a sacrifice for sin! He who knew no sin who was holy, harmless, and undefiled not one thought of evil in His heart yet made sin, or a sin offering! O the magnitude of the thought! If God Himself had not declared it, we could not have believed it, though an angel's trumpet had announced it.

O blessed and adorable Immanuel! Was this the end and design of Your intense and mysterious sufferings? Was it that You should obey, bear the sin, endure the curse, and bow Your head in death that I might go free? Was it in my stead, and in my behalf?

O unexampled love! O infinite and free grace! That God should become incarnate that the Holy One should so take upon Him sin, as to be dealt with by stern justice as though He were Himself the sinner that He should drain the cup of wrath, give His back to the smiters, endure the shame and the spitting, and at last be suspended upon the cross, and pour out His last drop of most precious blood and all this for me! For me a rebel! For me a worm! For me the chief of sinners! Be astonished, O heavens! and be amazed, O earth! Was ever love like this?

"The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20

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What can be more difficult than this?

(James Smith, "Nothing Impossible" 1861)

"For with God, nothing shall be impossible!" Luke 1:37

Difficulties often crowd the believer's path, and trials line his way. Obstacles and opposition meet him at almost every turn. What to do at times he scarcely knows, for he has been disappointed so often, and is now so completely baffled that his way is hedged up with thorns! Look whichever way he will, or to whatever quarter he may there is something to discourage him, and cast him down!

It is of no use looking any way, or to any one but to the Lord; and while looking to Him, it will be well to remember what the angel said to the blessed virgin, to excite and strengthen her faith, "For with God, nothing shall be impossible."

Look at the Fact. There are no impossibilities with God! He can do as He will. He will do all that He has promised. He has promised to do all that you can need or even wisely desire. In Mary's case, much faith was required it was exercised and honored.

A virgin did bear a son.

That son was free from all taint of sin.

That son was divine.

That divine Son was the Savior of men.

What can be more difficult than this?

What should stagger us, after this?

Look at what God IS:
look at His power and grace,
look at His wisdom and wealth,
look at His pity and compassion,
look at His greatness and glory.

Look at what God has DONE:
in nature by His power,
in providence by His wisdom,
in redemption by His grace.

And looking at what God is, and at what He has done you must come to the conclusion, "With God, nothing is impossible!"

Let us use this fact for our own benefit. Nothing shall be impossible with God!
Not the conversion of that obstinate child.
Not that hardened husband.
Not that trying and degraded wife.
Not the restoration of that backslider as low as he may have sunk, and far as he may have gone.
Not the pardon of those sins as great, glaring, and numerous as they may be.
Not the sanctification of that trouble as deep, trying, and dreadful as it is.
Not the bringing of the greatest good out of that worst evil though it may have alarmed and terrified you.
Not the perfecting of the soul in holiness as sinful and polluted as it is at present.

No, nothing is too hard for the Lord! Therefore cheer up, press on, take up your cross or burden afresh and bear it after Jesus.

Let this precious truth, feed and strengthen your faith that you may be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Let it excite and animate your hope that you may expect great things from God.

Let it stimulate you in prayer that you may ask largely of God, and ask with confidence too.

Let it crush your fears that you may press boldly on, until you reach the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Let it stir you up to exertion for as nothing shall be impossible to God, so nothing shall be impossible to you, which you undertake with His sanction, and with a view to His glory.

Let it encourage and call forth praise for how grateful and thankful we should be, that our God can do all things, and therefore will do for us, all that is necessary both in life and death.

Let us keep this sweet truth always in mind, and when cast down chide our fears and excite our hopes, saying, "With God, nothing shall be impossible!"

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The purpose of the Bible

(J. R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible" 1909)

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness
so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Paul has no uncertain word about the inspiration of the Scriptures. The Bible alone is the Word of God. Holy men wrote it as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. There are other good books in the world but none like the Word of God.

We ought to read the Bible reverently since God speaks to us in its pages.

We ought to believe it for His Word must be absolutely true.

We should obey it since what God commands must be right.

We may yield our whole life to its influence to be guided and fashioned by it.

Scripture is profitable for teaching that is, for instruction in all matters that concern life.

It is profitable for rebuking it shows us our sins, our follies, our mistakes.

It is profitable for correcting to bring us back from wrong ways to right ways.

It is profitable for training in righteousness it gives us instruction for all true and beautiful living.

"So that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." The purpose of the Bible is to make complete men of us. If we follow it in everything it will show us the right way, it will reveal to us the perfect ideal of Christian character, it will inspire us to holy living.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

And WHY, dear Savior tell me why?

(James Smith "
Redeeming Love!" 1861)

"He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works." Titus 2:14

"HE gave Himself for us." Note the contrast between the Giver and those for whom He gave Himself.

The Giver is He who was . . .
  the only begotten Son of God,
  the author of creation,
  the sustainer of the universe,
  the brightness of divine glory,
  the source and end of all things!
He who was proclaimed by the prophet as "the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace."
He who is declared by the apostle to be "God over all blessed for evermore!"

"He gave Himself for US." For US who at the best are mere creatures, between whom and our Creator, there can be no comparison. But it was not for us as mere creatures but for us as base, vile, insignificant, and totally depraved creatures! We had debased ourselves, even unto Hell. Our nature could not be worse, for "the human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked!"

The most exalted, glorious, and holy being in the universe gave Himself for the most vile, polluted, and degraded of His creatures!

O how astonishing!

But He volunteered on our behalf, without any solicitation, offering to become . . .
our Substitute to fulfill the law in our stead;
our Sacrifice to make a full atonement for our sins; and
our Ransomer to pay the satisfactory price for our redemption.

He engaged to bear the desert of all our sins in His own body to suffer all that the inflexible justice of God could inflict on our Surety and so put away our sins forever, by the sacrifice of Himself. He gave . . .
  His person for our persons;
  His blood as our ransom price;
  and His life for our lives!

He gave His entire self, doing and suffering all that was necessary to secure our release from sin's curse, and our everlasting salvation.

O amazing grace of a gracious Savior!

He gave Himself that He might justly redeem, ransom, or deliver us from the guilt, power, and penal consequences of sin.

He gave Himself to expiate the guilt, to destroy the power, and secure us against the eternal desert of our transgressions.

He gave Himself to purify unto Himself, by fully expiating their sins a peculiar people:
a people purchased to be peculiarly His own;
a people sanctified, separated from all others to be set apart for Himself;
a people to be His own subjects as the King of Zion;
a people to be His own soldiers as the Captain of our salvation;
a people to be His own servants as the Lord of the house;
a people to be His own children as the everlasting Father!

"He gave Himself!" The love of Jesus is unparalleled. Out of pure love to us who had no love to Him, nor ever would have had but for His first loving us! He gave, not only His time, His labor, His wealth but Himself! He gave His entire person as the God-man, the incarnate Jehovah!

"He gave Himself!" This was more than as if He had given a thousand worlds for these He could create with a word!

"He gave Himself," and not merely to live for us, or labor for us but even to die for us!

"He gave Himself," and not even to die some easy and honorable death but the most painful, shameful death, that man ever invented, or creature ever suffered!

O wondrous love!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

And WHY, dear Savior tell me why,
You thus would suffer, bleed and die?
What mighty motive could Thee move,
The motive's plain 'twas all for love!

For love of whom? Of sinners base,
A hardened herd, a rebel race!
That mocked and trampled on Thy blood,
And trifled with the wounds of God!

They nailed Him to the accursed tree;
They did, my brethren and so did we!
The soldier pierced His side, 'tis true;
But we have pierced Him through and through!

O Jesus, never, never was there love like yours!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Nibbling at Satan's golden baits!

(Thomas Brooks, "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices" 1652)

"That none of you may be hardened by
the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13

Sin is of a very deceitful and bewitching nature.

Sin is from the greatest deceiver it is the source of all the deceit in the world, and it is in its own nature exceeding deceitful. It will kiss the soul, and pretend good to the soul and yet betray the soul forever!

It will with Delilah smile upon us, that it may betray us into the hands of the devil as she betrayed Samson into the hands of the Philistines.

Tell the bewitched soul . . .
  that sin is a viper which will certainly kill it,
  that sin often kills secretly, insensibly, eternally;
yet the bewitched soul cannot, and will not, cease from sin!

That man is bewitched with sin who had rather lose God, Christ, heaven, and his own soul than part with his sin!

Sin promises the best but pays with the worst.
Sin promises honor and pays with disgrace.
Sin promises pleasure and pays with pain.
Sin promises profit and pays with loss.
Sin promises life and pays with death!

A little hole in the ship will sink it.
A little stab at the heart will kill a man.
A little sin, without a great deal of mercy will damn a man!

Oh, therefore, forever take heed of playing with, or
nibbling at Satan's golden baits!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He must afflict us!

(James Smith, "Afflictions Necessary" 1853)

"He does not afflict willingly." Lamentations 3:33

Here is a fact well known the Lord afflicts His children. Trouble never springs out of the dust nor do afflictions come by 'chance'. No! Every trial and affliction is sent from our Father's throne and its direction is written by our Father's hand. He appoints the kind, the degree, and the direction of our afflictions.

We are afflicted with disappointments, losses, and crosses. None are exempt. None can always escape, for "the Lord tries the righteous." "Many are the afflictions of the righteous."

"He does not afflict willingly." He only grieves us from necessity. He has fixed His end, which is to make us holy, and to conform us to the image of His Son; from this, He will not be diverted but He will surely accomplish it.

In the afflictions which He sends, God aims at . . .
  our deeper sanctification,
  or our greater usefulness,
  or simply at His own glory,
which is always linked with our good.

He therefore afflicts us to exercise our graces; these would otherwise often lie dormant, become weak, fade, and wither.

God afflicts His children to wean us from the world, to which we are too much attached, and would be more so, if it were not for trials, disappointments, and vexations.

God afflicts His children to  embitter sin, which is the prolific root, on which every pain, grief and sorrow grows. 

God afflicts His children to endear the Savior, who is our solace in sorrow, and will be our glorious deliverer from it. Never does Jesus appear so precious as in the hours of trouble and trial.

God afflicts His children to prevent our falling into temptation, which we would do more frequently, if we were not kept awake and watchful by our various sorrows.

God afflicts His children to fit us for usefulness, for as the land must be ploughed, harrowed, and crushed if it is to be fruitful and supply our needs; just so must we be tempted, tried, and troubled if we are to be of much use to man, or to bring much glory to God.

God afflicts His children, to make us long for heaven which we seldom do when all is pleasant, bright, and sunny below.

If God loves us with an infinite love;
if He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son;
if He will make us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;
and if He will correct our faults and our follies
He must afflict us!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The panacea for all the ills of life!

(James Smith, "The Spirit's Work in the Believer" 1861)

"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:6

Spirituality flows from the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit in the soul, who . . .
  kindles spiritual love,
  awakens spiritual desires, and
  produces spiritual devotion.

The Spirit's work in the believer consists:

1. In convincing us of sin, when we go astray from the right ways of the Lord.

2. In working repentance and sorrow within us, and leading us to confess and mourn over our sins before God.

3. In opening up, and applying the Word of God, so that it . . .
  meets our case,
  feeds our faith,
  fires our love, and
  deepens our humility.

4. In exciting and drawing forth the soul in prayer, praise, and adoration at the throne of God so that we sometimes . . .
  melt in contrition,
  are crumbled down in humiliation,
  and are almost dissolved in love.

5. In making us bold in God's cause, and giving us to feel liberty in His presence, through faith in the blood of His dear Son.

6. In giving us soul-refreshing glimpses . . .
  of the glorious person of Jesus,
  of the everlasting covenant,
  and of eternal glory.

7. In melting us down in sincere gratitude before God, under a sense of His undeserved favor.

8. In removing all legal fears, and causing holy peace to flow through the soul like a river.

9. In melting us in meekness, and producing sweet submission to the sovereign will of God.

10. In sweetly soothing and consoling under trials and bereavements; and enabling us to look forward with hope and joy.

11. In giving us sweet intimations of the love of God to us by pleasing impressions, and holy discoveries of His grace.

12. In witnessing to our adoption, awakening the cry of "Abba, Father!" in our hearts, and enabling us to claim a filial relationship to God.

13. In drawing forth our souls in love to God under an overcoming sense of His free and unparalleled love to us.

14. In enabling us to mount upward as on the wings of an eagle, and to run with pleasure and delight in God's holy ways.

15. In quickening us to rejoice in the Lord, when all things around are calculated to fill us with despondency and gloom.

16. In producing perseverance in our souls, and enabling us to look away from the things which are seen and temporal and to look to unseen and eternal realities.

The Spirit works within the Christian, teaching him daily to make use of Christ as the panacea for all the ills of life!

In all these things, and many more the work of the Spirit in the experience of the believer appears.

Reader, do you know anything of these things in your own experience? Is the Spirit of God daily working in your heart, and do you pay attention to . . .
  the lessons He teaches,
  the impressions He makes, and
  the direction in which He points?

O for more of the Spirit's work within us that we may live to the praise and glory of Him who loved us, and died to redeem us from sin, death, and Hell!

Holy Spirit, work in us more and more teaching us the truth, and conforming us to Christ! O for more of Your power, love, and holiness!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My friend, I know not what your trouble may be

(James Smith, "The Pastor's Evening Visit")

"If I were you I would seek unto God! I would lay my cause before Him!" Job 5:8

This is sound advice. It is much better than . . .
  seeking unto men, or
  poring over troubles, or
  indulging a gloomy imagination, or
  giving way to fears.

My friend, I know not what your trouble may be but "If I were you I would seek unto God!"

If I was in perplexity I would seek unto God for wisdom.

If I was in sorrow I would seek unto God for comfort.

If I was in weakness I would seek unto God for strength.

If I was under guilt I would seek unto God for pardon.

If I was in a severe conflict I would seek unto God for victory.

If I was in doubt and fear I would seek unto God for confidence and a sense of His favor.

If I was harassed by Satan I would seek unto almighty God for protection.

If I was afraid of falling I would seek unto God to uphold me with His omnipotent arm.

If I was alarmed at death I would seek for His presence to comfort me.

Whatever you need seek it from God!

Whatever you fear carry it to God!

Whatever troubles you lay it before God!

You cannot seek unto Him in vain, or without profit!

"If I were you I would seek unto God! I would lay my cause before Him!"

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The sword of His pure, infinite, and incensed wrath!

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

"Yet it was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer" Isaiah 53:10

To see God thrust the sword of His pure, infinite, and incensed wrath through the very heart of His dearest Son, notwithstanding all His supplications, prayers, tears, and strong cries is the highest manifestation of the Lord's hatred and indignation of sin which ever was, or ever will be!

It is true, God revealed His great hatred against sin . . .
  by casting the angels down to hell, and
  by turning Adam out of paradise, and
  by drowning the old world, and
  by raining hell out of heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah,
and by the various and dreadful judgments which He has been a-pouring forth upon the world in all ages. But all this hatred is but an emblem of hatred compared to that hatred which God manifested against sin, in causing the whole curse to meet upon our crucified Lord!

It is true that God reveals His hatred of sin by those endless, easeless, and remediless torments, which He inflicts upon devils and damned men. But this is no hatred compared to that hatred against sin, which God revealed when He opened all the floodgates of His envenomed wrath upon His Son His own Son, His only Son, His Son who always pleased Him.

Suppose there was a father who had but one son and he was such a son in whom he always delighted, and by whom he had never been provoked. Now suppose you should you see this father inflicting the most intensified pains and punishments, tortures and torments, calamities and miseries upon this, his dearest son. Would you not wonder at the cause of the father's exercising such amazing, such matchless severity, fury and cruelty upon his only beloved son?

Now cast your eye upon the actings of God the Father towards Jesus Christ and you will find that He has inflicted more and greater torments upon the Son of His dearest love than all mortals ever have or could inflict upon others. God made all the penalties and sufferings that were due to us to fall upon Jesus Christ. God Himself inflicted upon dear Jesus, whatever was requisite to the satisfying of His justice, to the obtaining of pardon, and to the saving of all His elect!

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Friend or foe?

(J.G. Pike, "Guide for Young Disciples of the Holy Savior")

"Can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong in the day that I shall deal with you?" Ezekiel 22:14

The power and justice of God are armed with ten thousand terrors against every one who is not His child!

The love and goodness of God display ten thousand charms to every one who is!

O how dreadful must it be to have Him for a foe whose thunders, lightnings, earthquakes, tempests, and pestilences can sweep millions to the grave in a moment! whose command would extinguish the sun, and crush the universe to nothing!

"Consider this, you who forget God lest I tear you in pieces!" Psalm 50:22

But how inexpressibly desirable is such a friend a friend . . .
  whose knowledge no enemy can elude,
  whose power none can resist,
  whose wisdom none can baffle, and
  whose love none can comprehend!

O why are you concerned about anything but God!

"As surely as I live, when I sharpen My flashing sword and begin to carry out justice I will bring vengeance on My enemies and repay those who hate Me!" Deuteronomy 32:41

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

They are preaching up the devil's old, favorite doctrine!

(J.C. Ryle)

There is such a place as Hell. Let no one deceive you with vain words. What people do not like they try hard not to believe. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to judge the world, He will punish all who are not His disciples with a fearful punishment!

All who are found unrepentant and unbelieving;
all who have clung to sin;
all who have set their affections on worldly things;
all who are without Christ
all such shall come to a dreadful end! "Anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the Lake of Fire!" Revelation 20:15

1) I know that some people do not believe that there is any Hell at all. They think it impossible, that there can be such a place. They call it inconsistent with the mercy of God. They say that it is too awful an idea to be really true. The devil of course, rejoices in the views of such people. They help his kingdom mightily. They are preaching up the devil's old, favorite doctrine, "You shall not surely die!" Genesis 3:4

2) I know furthermore, that some do not believe that Hell is eternal! They tell us it is incredible, that a compassionate God will punish people forever. They imagine that He will surely open the prison doors of Hell at last. This also is a mighty help to the devil's cause.

3) I know also that some believe that there is a Hell but never allow that anybody is going there! They imagine that . . .
  all people are good,
  all are sincere,
  all mean well, and
  all, they hope, will go to Heaven when they die!
Alas! what a common delusion is this!

If I never spoke of Hell I would think I had kept back something that was profitable, and would look on myself as an accomplice of the devil.

Reader, I beseech you, in all tender affection beware of false views of the subject on which I have been dwelling. Beware of new and strange doctrines about Hell and the eternity of punishment. Beware of manufacturing a god of your own:
  a god who is all mercy but not just;
  a god who is all love but not holy;
  a god who has a Heaven for everybody but a Hell for none;
  a god who will make no distinction between godly and the ungodly in eternity.
Such a god is an idol of your own imagination! It is as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple! The hands of your own imagination and sentimentality have made it! It is not the God of the Bible and beside the God of the Bible, there is no God at all.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A few, easy, or gentle strokes!

(John Owen)

Let no man think to kill sin with a few, easy, or gentle strokes!

He who has once smitten a serpent, if he does not beat it until it is slain may regret that he ever began the quarrel!

Just so it is with the one who undertakes to deal with sin and does not constantly pursue it to its death!

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit!

(J.C. Ryle)

"John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath! Produce fruit in keeping with repentance!" Luke 3:7-8

Well would it be for the Church of Christ, if it possessed more plain-speaking ministers like John the Baptist.
  A morbid dislike to strong language;
  an excessive fear of giving offence;
  a constant flinching from directness and plain speaking
are, unhappily, too much the characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit!

Uncharitable language is no doubt always to be deprecated. But there is no 'charity' in flattering unconverted people by abstaining from any mention of their vices, or in applying smooth names to their damnable sins!

There are two texts which are too much forgotten by Christian preachers. In one it is written, "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you!" (Luke 6:26)

In the other it is written, "Obviously, I'm not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people I would not be Christ's servant." (Galatians 1:10)