Grace Gems for APRIL 2011

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Those everlasting arms!

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

"Underneath are the everlasting arms!" Deuteronomy 33:27

That is underneath every believer.
Those everlasting arms are there . . .
  to bear him up,
  to bear him on, and
  to preserve from all real danger.

The arms of God are . . .
  invisible no one sees them;
  spiritual no one feels them;
  careful no one falls out of them;
  omnipotent no one overcomes them.

If the everlasting arms of my God are underneath me, then . . .
I may quietly yield myself unto Him;
I may confidently expect divine protection;
I may be certain that He will lift me above my foes;
I may feel assured that He will safely convey me home.

Aged saints may rejoice in this; for to them the Lord says, "I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you!" Isaiah 46:4

And weak believers may rejoice in this, for "He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart!" Isaiah 40:11

O to realize this sweet and encouraging truth:
underneath me are the everlasting arms!

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He can say no more!

(Thomas Watson, "The Christian's Charter")

"All things are yours!" 1 Corinthians 3:21

All things are a believer's, because God is his.

"For this God is our God for ever and ever!" Psalm 48:14

"I am God your God!" Psalm 50:7

God says to the believer, as the king of Israel said to
the king of Syria, "I am yours and all that I have!"

This is a hive of divine comfort!

All that is in God is ours!

His wisdom is ours to teach us!

His love is ours to pity us!

His Spirit is ours to comfort us!

His mercy is ours to save us!

When God says to the soul, "I am yours,"
He can say no more!

"For this God is our God for ever and ever!"

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Have you received the Holy Spirit?

(James Smith, "A Momentous Question" 1860)

"Have you received the Holy Spirit?"
Acts 19:2

What are the evidences of having received the Holy Spirit?

If we have received the Holy Spirit the Lord Jesus stands high in our estimation and our views of ourselves are very humbling. And just in proportion to the power and depth of the Spirit's work will be our conceptions of the glory, grandeur, and excellency of the Savior; and our discoveries of the depravity, pollution, weakness, and misery of our own hearts.

If, therefore, we have heart affecting views of the glory of Christ and His finished work and if we lie low in the dust under a sense of our weakness and worthlessness, so that we are brought to depend wholly on Christ, and on Christ alone we have surely received the Holy Spirit.

Also, if we have received the Holy Spirit there is in us a deep-rooted, abiding hatred to sin all sin, especially sin in ourselves. What was once our darling sin, has become the object of our hatred and against that sin we set a double guard. For nothing do we sigh so often, for nothing do we desire so ardently as holiness. The Holy Spirit always sets the whole soul against sin and longing for perfect holiness.

True, our old desires toward sin will sometimes revive but then we loath ourselves on account of it, mourn over it, and confess it before God. The cry of the soul is, "Holiness, Lord, more holiness! Deep, penetrating, all-pervading holiness!"

Now, if we hate sin everywhere, all sin, and especially the sin that dwells in us; and if we love holiness, admire holiness, pray for holiness, pant for holiness, and strive for holiness then there is no doubt that we have received the Holy Spirit.

Once more, if we have received the Holy Spirit then we are ruled by God's Word; we do not follow custom, or allow our desires or prejudices to dictate our course. In all times of difficulty, when in any perplexity, something seems to say within us, "To the law and to the testimony," and to the precepts of the New Testament, we turn.

The Word of Christ is the law of the true believer. Everything short of it, or beyond it, or beside it, or contrary to it is sin! "Only what Jesus commands, all that Jesus commands, and because Jesus commands," is the language of the soul.

And while we thus make the Word of Jesus our rule we deny ourselves. We deny our own wills, our own passions, our own desires, our likes and dislikes. We are before Him, as He was before His Father, when He cried out, "Not My will but may Your will be done." If, then, we make the Word of God our guide, and habitually deny ourselves for Christ's sake we may rest assured, that we have received the Holy Spirit.

Reader, "Have you received the Holy Spirit?" Remember, "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Him!" Romans 8:9

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The sacrifice of Himself!

Ruth Bryan, "The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ!")

"But now He has appeared one time, at the end of the ages,
to remove sin by the sacrifice of Himself!" Hebrews 9:26

These rich words still amaze me.

That word "sin" feels weighty to a sensible sinner.

But oh! that word "Himself!" seems a million times more weighty!

"Himself!" the mighty God, the precious Man Christ Jesus!

"Himself!" by whom all things were created, and for whom they exist!

"Himself!" whose smile is heaven, whose frown is hell!

"Himself!" whom all angels worship, and all devils obey!

"Himself!" the sacrifice!

Another such sacrifice could not be found! Sins as deep as hell and as high as heaven cannot overmatch it for it is infinite! Sins of scarlet and crimson dye cannot resist its power for it makes them whiter than snow!

See as much as you can of the vileness of self, and the demerit of sin yet "Himself" a bleeding sacrifice, exceeds it all! Here is the sweet-smelling savor, both to the Lawgiver and the lawbreaker. The Lawgiver is honored the lawbreaker is saved!

See how He stands most lovingly, as with open arms, saying to every laboring, weary, heavy-laden sinner, "Come! Come unto Me, and I will give you rest! I still receive sinners, to the uttermost I save them, and never am weary of healing their backslidings, forgiving all their iniquities, and multiplying pardons as they multiply transgressions against Me. I blot all out with My blood, and love them freely and forever!"

Sinner, will not this suffice? It will, if the Spirit applies it and opens in a little measure, Himself and His sacrifice in contrast to yourself and your sins. It will take eternity to know it fully; but that your heart may find rest and refreshing in it now, is my affectionate prayer.

"But now He has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, to remove sin by the sacrifice of Himself!"

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The Judge!

(by James Smith, 1856)

"God is the Judge!" Psalm 75:7

There is one supreme judge of what is right and wrong and that judge is Jesus. He is qualified to judge, and He is appointed to sit in judgment on all the actions of men, and to reward every one according to his works.

But it is not to God's final judgment we are about to refer but to the present. Many professors talk, or seem to feel, as if great mistakes were made, and therefore they justify themselves in complaining. But Jesus is Judge of what is right, and what is best.

His wisdom is infinite;
His knowledge comprehends the past, the present, and the future;
His power is omnipotent;
His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, and is over all His works;
His love to His people surpasses knowledge.

This being the case, there can be no question that Jesus is the best Judge of what is right, and of what should be.

God is the Judge as to our PERSONS. Some wish they had more strength, some that they had more health, some that they had more beauty, some one thing, some another thing. Some imagine that they are too tall and some not tall enough. Some are crooked, or otherwise deformed and are grieved that they are not straight or well formed.

But God is the Judge, and our formation, size, shape, appearance, etc, are all according to His will; and if according to His will it must be best. Beware of how you sit in judgment on the wisdom of God, or think yourself capable of improving His plans.

God is the Judge as to who should be born their size, shape, appearance, and every other particular. Therefore be silent before Him; be satisfied with your lot, and believe that by and bye you will see a reason for what tries or troubles you at present. If you were humble, you would not be much affected by what man may think, or what man may say but would bow before God, and say, "If I can honor You by being deformed, or destitute of beauty, or weak, or diseased it is enough. May Your will be done, Your name be hallowed, Your glory be advanced and I am content; more I am well-pleased!"  

God is the Judge as to our CIRCUMSTANCES.

Whether I am to be rich, or to be poor;
whether I am employer, or employed;
whether I am healthy, or sick;
whether I thrive, or go to wreck
God is the Judge as to which is best. He is Judge as to the nature or number of my mercies, trials, troubles, comforts, crosses, losses, bereavements and varied changes.

I cannot tell what would be best what would really do me good. I must . . .
bow to the wisdom of the All-wise God,
accept the appointments of His Grace, and
be satisfied with the arrangements of Infinite Love.

If there was anything like 'chance' in the world I might complain, or wish for an alteration. But since God exercises His judgment, and has ordained my lot it is for me to approve of it, and seek grace that I may honor Him in it. 

God is the Judge as to our EVENTS. Many things are sent to try us; and they try our thoughts, our faith, our fortitude, our patience, our humility, and our perseverance. How things may end we do not know. What certain providences are intended to produce we are not informed. But we may rest assured of this that . . .
God's ends will be accomplished,
His purposes will be performed, and
the predictions of His Word will be fulfilled.

We may, therefore, very safely leave all results to God. The path of duty is plainly marked out. We should walk in that path, taking no thought for the morrow. We should . . .
trust God's promises,
walk by God's precepts,
observe God's providences;
and then we may say, "I have nothing to do with the future, for God is the Judge! He puts down one and sets up another."

Christian, are you tempted to complain of your lot? Or, do you wish to choose for yourself? It is better to leave it with God and try to believe that it is best to be as you are, and where you are. There is no doubt that you can glorify God exactly where you are, more than anywhere else.

You can do all that God wishes you to do right where you are. It is not a change of circumstances so much as a change of heart that you need. You need more grace and contentment rather than more health, or wealth, or beauty. Depend upon it, God has made no mistake! And if your body is not so finely formed, or you are not so indulged with health, or so favored with gifts as some are it is all right, for God is the Judge! It is HIS doing, and "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

Defer to God's judgment,
lie low before God's throne,
seek to be filled with God's Spirit
and so you will be satisfied to have all things ruled by God's will.

He does according to His will in heaven and there is no complaint or repining there. And he does according to His will on earth and there should be no dissatisfaction with God's allotments.

We have too high an opinion of ourselves, and of our own judgments; and while this is the case, we shall attempt to invade the rights of the Most High God, or to dictate to the Supreme Ruler! Man poor, vain man would gladly be judge! He would take the throne of his Maker! He would . . .
snatch the rule from His hand,
judge His justice,
be the God of God!

But who are you that replies against God? Shall the thing formed say unto Him that formed it, "Why have you made me thus?"

God is the Judge! Therefore be silent all the earth, before the Lord!

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Your case is sad very sad!

(James Smith, "The Way to Be Saved!" 1856)

"Then the King will turn to those on the left and say: Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons!"

"And they will go away into eternal punishment!" Matthew 25:41, 46

Lost sinner, your case is sad very sad! You are an enemy to God, in open and avowed rebellion against Him! You are forcing your passage to blackness, darkness, and eternal woe, through a thousand obstacles which are thrown in your way! And, O how fearful will your end be! What, O what a dreadful end, must yours be!

In Hell, you will be forever deprived of the glorious presence of God!

You will never see light but be in perpetual darkness!

Your abode will be a prison, where there is . . .
  no comfort but horror;
  no voice but of blasphemers cursing God;
  no sounds but the howling of the tortured;
  no society but devils and damned people. And these being tormented themselves, will eternally torment you!

You must experience . . .
  punishment, without pity;
  misery, without mercy;
  sorrow, without support;
  crying, without comfort;
  mischief, without measure;
  torment, without ease;
where the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched!

The wrath of God will seize upon your soul and body, like fire! And in the flame, you will be . . .
forever burning but never consumed;
ever dying but never dead;
ever roaring with pain but know no end of these pains.

Your torments will be always, beginning.

Your reflections will be, "All this, I procured by my sin! This I chose in preference to Heaven! I myself am to blame for my destruction and God is just!"

Great God, awaken, awaken the sinner! Open, O open his eyes! Snatch, O snatch him as a brand from the burning and save him through Jesus' blood!! If this is not the case, lost sinner, you may look forward, and exclaim:

Infinite years in torments shall I spend,
And never, never, never end!
Ah! I must live in torturing despair,
As many years as atoms in the air!

When all these doleful years are spent in pain,
And multiplied by myriads again,
Til numbers drown thought; could I suppose
That then my wretched years were at a close.

This would afford some ease; but, ah, I shiver
To think upon the dreadful word, FOREVER!
The burning gulf, where I blaspheming lie,
Is time no more but
vast eternity!

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In the world and yet not of the world

(J.C. Ryle, "Our Profession")

"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God." James 4:4

"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." John 17:15

Happy, indeed, is that Christian who can be in the world and yet not of the world; who can do his duty in it and yet not be conformed to it; who can pass through it unmoved by . . .
  its smiles or its frowns,
  its flattery or its enmity,
  its open opposition or its hurtful ridicule,
  its sweets or its bitters,
  its gold or its sword!

When I think what the world is, and see what harm it has done and is doing to souls, I do not wonder that Scripture warns against loving it. Resolve to be very thorough, very decided, very watchful, very careful about the state of your soul.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father but from the world." 1 John 2:15-16

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Ah! Poor soul it is the rich man who goes to hell!

("A Few Sighs From Hell" or "The Groans of the Damned Soul" by that poor and contemptible servant of Jesus Christ, John Bunyan, 1658. Being an exposition of Luke 16:19-31, concerning the Rich Man and the Beggar, wherein is revealed the lamentable state of the Damned their cries, and their desires in their distresses, with the determined judgment of God upon them. A good warning word to sinners, both old and young, to seek salvation by faith in Jesus Christ lest they come into the same place of torment.)

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

If we would judge men according to outward appearances, we shall oftentimes judge amiss. Here is a rich man who, to outward appearances, appears as the blessed man better by far than the beggar, inasmuch as . . .
he is rich and the beggar poor;
he is well-clothed but the beggar is nearly naked;
he feasts sumptuously but the beggar would be glad for dog's food.

Oh, who would not rather be in the rich man's state!

A wealthy man, with all sorts of new suits and dainty dishes every day, has enough to make one who minds nothing but his belly, his back, and his lusts to say, "Oh, that I were in that man's condition! Oh, that I had as much as that man has! Then I would live indeed; then I would live pleasantly, and would say to my soul: Soul, be of good cheer
you have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy eat, drink and be merry! You are in a most blessed condition!"

This is the conclusion with those who judge according to outward appearances. But if the whole parable is well considered, you will see that that which is held in high estimation with men is an abomination in the sight of God.

We see that the saddest condition, according to outward appearances, is oftentimes the most excellent one; for the beggar had ten thousand times the best of it, though, to outward appearances, his state was the saddest.

Those who judge according to outward appearances, for the most part, judge amiss. For here in the parable a man of wealth, and a child of the devil may be the same person! A man may have an abundance of outward enjoyments and yet be carried by the devils into eternal burnings!

This is the trap in which the devil has caught many thousands of poor souls, namely by getting them to judge according to God's outward blessings. Ask a poor, carnal, covetous wretch, how we would know a man to be in a happy state, and he will answer, "Those whom God blesses and gives an abundance of this world to."

Yet, for the most part, these are the cursed men. Alas! Poor men, they are so ignorant as to think that because a man is increased in outward things therefore God loves that man with a special love. Ah! Poor soul it is the rich man who goes to hell! "The rich man died, and in hell (mark it, "in hell") he lifted up his eyes, being in torment!"

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In the same ruthless way!

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

One day when the tide was out, a man went out to gather sea plants on the rocks, and in stepping from ledge to ledge his foot slipped down and became jammed in a crevice. He attempted to pull it out but could not. He cried aloud, he shrieked, he prayed but all in vain no one heard him! So the tide came rolling in, and rose up higher and higher until it rolled over him and drowned his last gurgling cry in its remorseless waters.

In the same ruthless way sin clutches men! Even one sin, one secret sin, one evil habit may hold the soul that indulges it until the floods of judgment come and roll over it, engulfing it in eternal damnation!

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What is it for you to be a Christian?

(J. R. Miller, "A Life of Character")

We ought to seek to gather in this world treasure that we can carry with us through death's gates, and into the eternal world. We should strive to build into our lives qualities that shall endure. Men slave and work to get a little money, or to obtain honor, or power, or to win an earthly crown but
when they pass into the great vast forever, they take nothing of all this with them!

Yet there are things virtues, fruits of character, graces which men do carry with them out of this world. What a man IS he carries with him into the eternal world. Money and rank and pleasures and earthly gains he leaves behind him; but his character, he takes with him into eternity!

This suggests at once, the importance of character and character-building.

Character is not what a man professes to be but what he really IS, as God sees him.

A man may not be as good as his reputation. A good reputation may hide an evil heart and life. Reputation is not character. Reputation is what a man's neighbors and friends think of him; character is what the man IS.

Christ's character is the model, the ideal, for every Christian life. We are to be altogether like Him; therefore all of life's aiming and striving should be towards Christ's blessed beauty. His image we find in the Gospels. We can look at it every day. We can study it in its details, as we follow our Lord in His life among men, in all the variations of experience through which He passed.

A little Christian girl was asked the question, "What is it for you to be a Christian?"

She answered, "It is to do as Jesus would do, and behave as He would behave if He were a little girl and lived at our house."

No better answer could have been given. And there is scarcely any experience of life for which we cannot find something in Christ's life to instruct us. We can find the traits and qualities of His life, as they shine out in His contact . . .
  with temptation,
  with enmity,
  with wrong,
  with pain,
  with sorrow.

The next thing, when we have the vision of Christ before us, is to get it implanted into our own life. We cannot merely dream ourselves into godly manhood or womanhood; we must forge for ourselves, with sweat and anguish, the beautiful visions of Christ-likeness which we find on the Gospel pages! It will cost us self-discipline, oftentimes anguish, as we must deny ourselves, and cut off the things we love. SELF must be crucified.

It is not easy to become a godly man, a Christlike man.

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Our almighty helper!

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

"I have laid help upon One who is mighty!" Psalm 89:19

And who is this mighty One but Jesus?

He alone can help us . . .
  in all our struggles with sin,
  in all our conflicts with Satan,
  in all our trials in the world,
  in all our domestic troubles, and
  in encountering the last enemy, death.

Jesus is our almighty helper! We must . . .
  look to Him,
  expect from Him, and
  conquer by the help received from Him.

His grace is sufficient for us, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Every trouble cries, "Go to Jesus for help!"

Every affliction exhorts, "Look to Jesus for help!"

Without His help we must fail!

With His help we can never fail!

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you: Do not fear I will help you!" Isaiah 41:13

"Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I Myself will help you!" Isaiah 41:14

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Carry your troubled heart to Jesus

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

"I am troubled!"
Psalm 38:6

This is very often the case with the believer, he is seldom long without something to trouble him. He has . . .
  so much sin within him,
  so many foes without him, and
  such unexpected and difficult things in his path
  that he is often agitated and distressed.

Where he looked for comfort he finds sorrow;
where he expected help he finds hindrance;
where he promised himself pleasure he experiences pain.

He is wearied  
weary of himself,
weary of sin,
weary of the world,
weary of the carnal state of the church.

But what a mercy it is for the troubled Christian, that his Lord has experienced trouble as well as himself; so that He can sympathize with him. Jesus once said, "Now My soul is deeply troubled!" He has a fellow-feeling with us in all our troubles, and will first sanctify them, and then safely bring us out of them.

Beloved, are you troubled today?

Carry your troubled heart to Jesus, pour it out before Him. He can calm it, soothe it, and give it cheering repose. Take it to Jesus to sanctify it for you.

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Is that mother bird cruel?

(Charles Ebert Orr, "Food for the Lambs; or, Helps for Young Christians" 1904)

"In a desert land He found him in a barren and howling wilderness. He shielded him and cared for him. He guarded him as the apple of His eye like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions." Deuteronomy 32:10-11

This picture is full of life and truth and beauty. Have you ever seen an eagle stir up her nest? You know what happens. There in the nest, right on the rocky heights, are the eaglets. The mother eagle comes and, taking hold of them, flings them out of the nest! They were so comfortable there but she flings them right out of the nest, high above the ground. They begin to fall straightway. They never have been in air before; they have always been in the nest.

Is that mother bird cruel? Why does she disturb the eaglets?

Watch her and you will understand. As long as you look upon the struggling eaglets in the air you miss the point. Watch the eagle herself. Having stirred up her nest, "she spreads her wings to catch them." Where are the eaglets? Struggling, falling! Then what does she do? "She carries them on her pinions." She swoops beneath them, catches them on her wings, and bears them up.

What is she doing? Teaching them to fly. She drops them again and again they struggle in the air but this time not so helplessly. They are finding out what she means. She spreads her wings to show them how to fly, and as they fall again she catches them again.

That is just how God often deals with you and I!

Has He been stirring up your nest? Has He flung you out until you feel lost in an element that is new and strange? Look at Him! He is not lost in that element. He spreads out the wings of omnipotence to teach us how to soar. What then? He comes beneath us and catches us on His wings. We thought when He flung us out of the nest that it was unkind. No! He was teaching us to fly, that we might enter into the spirit of the promise, "They shall mount up with wings as eagles." He would teach us how to use the gifts which He has bestowed on us, and which we cannot use as long as we are in the nest.

Imagine keeping eaglets in the nest! It is contrary to their nature, contrary to the purposes for which they are framed and fitted. There is a purpose in the eagle. What is it? Flight upward! Just so, there is a purpose in your life, new-born child of God! What is it? Flight Godward, sunward, heavenward! If you stay in the nest you will never get there!

God often comes into your life and disturbs you. He breaks up your plans, extinguishes your hopes, and dashes the vanities that have lured you on. He spoils everything! What for? That He may get you on His wings and lead you to higher Christian development and higher spiritual purposes!

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It is true I do love my sins, my lusts and pleasures

("A Few Sighs From Hell" or "The Groans of the Damned Soul" by that poor and contemptible servant of Jesus Christ, John Bunyan, 1658. Being an exposition of Luke 16:19-31, concerning the Rich Man and the Beggar, wherein is revealed the lamentable state of the Damned their cries, and their desires in their distresses, with the determined judgment of God upon them. A good warning word to sinners, both old and young, to seek salvation by faith in Jesus Christ lest they come into the same place of torment.)

Lost sinner, I beg you to consider the state of those who die outside of Christ Jesus. Yes, I say, consider their miserable state, and think thus with yourself: "What, shall I lose an eternal Heaven for short pleasure? Shall I buy the pleasures of this world at so dear a rate as to lose my soul to obtain them? What advantage will these be to me when the Lord shall separate soul and body asunder, and send one to the grave, and the other to Hell; and at the judgment-day, the final sentence of eternal ruin must be passed upon me?"

Consider, that the profits, pleasures, and vanities of this world will not last forever but the time is coming, yes, just at the door, when they will give you the slip, and leave you in such a dreadful condition.

And therefore to prevent this, consider your dismal state, think thus with yourself: It is true I do love my sins, my lusts and pleasures; but what good will they do me at the day of death and of judgment? Will my sins do me good then? Will they be able to help me when I come to fetch my last breath? What good will my money then do for me? And what good will my vanities then do, when death drags me away? What good will all my companions, fellow-jesters, jeerers, liars, drunkards, and all my harlots do for me? Will they help to ease the pains of Hell? Will these help to turn the hand of God from inflicting His fierce anger upon me? Nay, they will rather cause God to show me no mercy, to give me no comfort; and to thrust me down into the hottest place of Hell, where I will swim in fire and brimstone!

O consider, that your doom is forever, forever! It is unto . . .
  everlasting damnation,
  eternal destruction,
  eternal wrath and displeasure from God,
  eternal gnawings of conscience,
  eternal continuance with devils.

O consider, that just the thought of now seeing the devil, makes your hair to stand straight up on your head. O but this to be damned, to dwell among all the devils, and that not only for a short time but forever, to all eternity! This is so astonishingly miserable that no tongue of man, no, nor of angels, is able to express it!

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Take out every stain!

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

"Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin!" Psalm 51:2

Sin is spiritual filthiness.

Sin . . .
  defiles the conscience,
  corrupts the imagination,
  depraves the heart,
  perverts the will, 
  pollutes the mind,
  sets the tongue on fire by hell,
  stains the life, and
  renders the man totally and eternally unfit for Heaven!

It is God's work to cleanse a sinner. No one else can. The sinner cannot cleanse himself he is without the means, the will, or the power! But God in mercy does, and He does it . . .
  by His Son, atoning;
  by His Spirit, renewing;
  by His Providence, working;
  and by His Truth, purifying.

The passage contains the believer's prayer: 
  "Wash me."
  "Wash me
  It is from "my iniquity my sin."

Wash me, for . . .
  I have discovered my filthiness;
  I loathe myself on account of it;
  and I long to be delivered from it!

Wash me thoroughly:
  take out every stain,
  erase every impression,
  make me whiter than snow!

Sin always pollutes and defiles. A believer cannot rest in pollution, and therefore prays, "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He will guide us to the end of the journey!

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

"He will be our guide even unto death!" Psalm 48:14

What a precious assurance is this!

Our God is our guide!

He led us out of the world at first,
directed us to the cross, and
conducted us into the path of holiness.

He has led us through all our past difficulties and trials; He leads us by the hand at present, and He will never give up His charge, for He will be our guide even unto death. He will . . .
  choose our way;
  lead us in the paths of righteousness;
  kindly converse with us along the road;
  point out the snares and dangers in our path;
  keep us by His power through faith unto salvation,
  and will patiently bear with us unto the end!

He may . . .

  hide His face,
  refuse communion,
  withhold comforts,
  smite us for our follies, and
  teach us our dependence on Himself by painful experience;
but He will never forsake us or give us up!

He will guide us to the end of the journey, and will go with us through the last dark valley!

He will not only lead us to the heavenly kingdom but put us in possession of it! This He has promised and He will faithfully perform it.

Beloved, it is our Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom! He will guide us now and by and by receive us to glory!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Reader, let me ask you a very important question

(James Smith, "Is It Possible?" 1856)

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Reader, let me ask you a very important question. I do so in love. It is a solemn and plain question but do not be offended at its plainness. Receive it, consider it, and reflect upon it:
"Do you believe it is possible, that you may go to Hell?"

That many go to Hell cannot be doubted.
That Hell is a dreadful place cannot be questioned.
That many are now on the road to Hell is as clear as daylight.
That few are sufficiently concerned to escape from Hell is very evident.

Do you believe it is possible, that you may go to Hell? You, who, perhaps never entertain a thought of doing so? The very supposition is alarming, is it not? But may not any sinner go to Hell? And are not you a sinner? If any sinner may go to Hell, and you are a sinner why  then, may not you go there?

What if you should?

Yet, it is not only possible but certain that you shall go to Hell, unless you experience a very great change. For "unless a man is born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

How many go on as careless, as thoughtless, as indifferent about their souls as if they thought it was impossible for them to go to Hell.

There is John Jones, the weaver. He has read the New Testament, he has heard the gospel, he knows that he has an immortal soul. But he never prays, he very often spends his Saturday nights at the ale-house, and he lies late in bed on Sunday mornings. Week after week he goes on like this. He has no care for his own soul, or the souls of his wife and children. He knows that he must die. He professes to believe in Heaven and Hell but he acts just as though he never thought for one moment, that it was possible for him to go to Hell. Indeed, he troubles himself so little about God, or his soul, or eternity that it appears that the thought has never entered into his head!

Roger Thomas
, the blacksmith, knows all the news of the village. He talks much. He reads some. He swears often. He loves his pipe and his beer. He goes to church now and then on Sunday; but if you mark his conduct, listen to his conversation, and notice his spirit you will be led to conclude that he never asks himself the question, "Is it possible for me to be sent to Hell?" No, no! He has too good an opinion of himself to even suppose such a thing. He has no idea that God would ever treat him so harshly as that. What, send him to Hell? If so, what would become of most of the people in the parish! "No, no, God is merciful," says he. He intends to repent by and bye. When he comes to his death-bed then he will pray, read his Bible, and make his peace with God. Thus he flatters his own pride, deceives his own soul, and secures his own damnation!

Reader! Do you believe it possible that you may go to Hell?

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!'" Matthew 7:21-23

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What does God require of His children?

(James Smith, "Good seed for the Lord's field!" 1856)

What does God require of His children?

God requires unqualified submission to His Word. You must . . .
  receive the doctrines He has revealed,
  believe the promises He has made, and
  perform the precepts He has given.

His doctrines are to enlighten you,
His promises are to comfort you,
His precepts are to direct you, and
His providence is to supply you.

God requires you to look upon Himself as your Father, and to walk before Him as such in faith, love, and holy obedience. He has provided grace to enable you to perform all that He requires and He bids you to ask and receive.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What does our church need?

(James Smith, "Good seed for the Lord's field!" 1856)

"Our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." 1 Thessalonians 1:5

"We have," said one pastor, "the gospel regularly preached, the prayer meetings are continued, the church is in peace but very few souls are converted to God! What does our church need?"

It needs the presence and power of the Holy Spirit! For unless the Holy Spirit works your minister may preach, your church may meet but no real good will be done! God's work is carried on, not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of the Lord Almighty. It is the Spirit who must . . .
   open the heart,
   quicken the soul, and
   sanctify the person!

And if the Spirit works then the feeblest ministry is efficient, and the smallest church prospers!

All the success that followed the preaching of Peter, and the labors of Paul was from the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul says, "God gave the increase." Then the church felt her need of the Spirit; she realized her dependence on that divine Agent; she prayed with faith, fervor, and importunity for the blessing; and God answered her prayers, and filled His servants with the Holy Spirit and with power!

But now-a-days, we merely talk of the Spirit rather than feel our need! We boast of our instruments rather than realize our dependence on the Almighty Agent!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

All the sins of the saints!

"We know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

All the afflictions, and
all the temptations, and
all the desertions, and
all the oppressions, and
all the oppositions, and
all the persecutions
which befall a godly man shall work for his good.

Every cross, and
every loss, and
every disease
which befall the holy man shall work for his good.

Every device,
every snare,
every deceit,
every stratagem,
and every enterprise of Satan against the holy man shall work for his good.

They shall all help to make him . . .
  more humble,
  more holy,
  more heavenly,
  more spiritual,
  more faithful,
  more fruitful,
  more watchful.

Every prosperity and every adversity,
every storm and every calm,
every bitter and every sweet,
every cross and every comfort,
shall work for the holy man's good.

When God gives a mercy that shall work for his good.

When God takes away a mercy that shall work for his good.

Yes, even all the falls and all the sins of the saints shall work for their good. Oh . . .
  the care,
  the fear,
  the watchfulness,
  the tenderness,
  the zeal
which God raises in the souls of His saints by their very falls! Oh the hatred, the indignation, and the detestation which God raises in the hearts of His children against sin by their very falling into sin!

Oh what love to Christ,
what thankfulness for Christ,
what admiration of Christ,
what cleaving to Christ,
what exalting of Christ,
what drawings from Christ's grace
are saints led to, by their very falls!

It is the glory of God's holiness, that . . .
  He can turn spiritual diseases into holy remedies!
  He can turn soul poisons into heavenly cordials!
  He can prevent sin by sin, and cure falling by falling!

O Christian!
What though friends and relations frown upon you,
what though enemies are plotting and conspiring against you,
what though needs, like armed men, are breaking in upon you,
what though men rage, and devils roar against you,
what though sickness is devastating your family,
what though death stands every day at your elbow
yet there is no reason for you to fear nor faint, because all these things shall work for your good! Yes, there is wonderful cause of joy and rejoicing, in all the afflictions and tribulations which come upon you considering that they shall all work for your good.

O Christians! I am afraid, I am afraid that you do not run so often as you should to the breasts of this promise, nor draw that sweetness and comfort from it, that it would yield, and that your several cases may require: "We know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." I have been the longer upon this verse, because the condition of God's people calls for the strongest cordials, and the choicest and the sweetest comforts.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Was Moses a wise man or a fool?

(James Smith, "MOSES; Or, The Young Man's Choice" 1856)

"Moses chose to suffer affliction along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time!" Hebrews 11:25

The choice is done. Moses is determined. He has counted the cost!
Instead of honor shame;
instead of praise blame;
instead of respect contempt;
instead of plenty poverty;
instead of a princely portion a slave's lot.

Was this wise? Was Moses a wise man or a fool? What do you think of Moses was he right, or wrong? But if Moses was right, as I suppose you will admit, allow me to ask: Have you acted rightly? Have you made the same choice?

Have you looked at the world at its best and at true religion at its worst; and have you seriously, deliberately, and prayerfully decided to renounce the world, and embrace the despised religion of Christ, with all the scorn, contempt, and sufferings to which it may expose you?

Moses made his choice between the children of God and their sufferings and the Egyptians and their pleasures. And you must make your choice between . . .
  Christ or the world,
  sin or holiness,
  the path to Heaven or the road to Hell.

"Choose this day whom you will serve!"

A master you must have, and it must be either Satan or Christ.
you must, and your service must be either sin or righteousness.

Look, then at the world at its honors, wealth, and pleasures;
look also at the church at its poverty, contempt, and sufferings.

Look at Hell with its bitter reflections, deep sorrows, and indescribable torments;
look also at Heaven with its sweet thoughts, pure enjoyments, and endless felicity.

Now make your choice!

Do you choose the world and its pleasures now along with Hell and its horrors forever? Do you chose rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time, than to serve and suffer with the people of God though you know your end will be as bitter as wormwood, and as dreadful as the just wrath of a holy and unchangeable God could make it?
If Moses was wise then what can you be, but a fool? And your foolishness now will increase your anguish and agony to all eternity!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My nature is the same as in the harlot, the drunkard, the murderer!

(James Smith, "MARY; Or, The Power of Penitence" 1856)

"If this man were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner!" Luke 7:39

This woman was a sinner an open sinner. One who had violated the laws of decency, as well as the law of God. She is condemned and despised. Many are more ready to condemn than to pity; to despise than to endeavor to reclaim.

We forget when we look at the profane that we have the same seeds of profanity in our hearts! We forget that evil human nature is essentially the same in all. We forget that education, circumstances, providence, or the grace of God make the only difference between us and the vilest man that ever lived!

We are all one man's sons. We were hewn out of the same rock we were dug out of the same pit. My nature is the same as in the harlot, the drunkard, the murderer; and if left to myself I would have been as depraved as they are! Humbling consideration this!

While I condemn sin let me ever pity the sinner. While I mourn over the fallen let me ask the question so well put by the apostle, "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive?" 1 Corinthians 4:7.

Am I vile? Let me take the blame and the shame to myself.
Am I saved and holy? Let sovereign grace have all the glory and praise!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We do not have to be crucified on pieces of wood!

(J. R. Miller, "The Wider Life" 1908)

"I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1

The godly life is not one of ease, pleasure and self-indulgence.

We are taught to present our bodies, as a living sacrifice unto God. Ancient offerings were brought to the altar, and presented dead. But the Christian sacrifice, instead of being poured out in a bloody oblation, is to be a living sacrifice of service, of love, of devotion.

The great sacrifice of Christ is both the model for all Christian life, and also its inspiration. We look at His six hours on the cross as if that were its only act and expression. But the cross was not endured by Christ merely during those six hours on Calvary; it was in all His life, in every day and hour of it. Everything He did was in love, and love is always a living sacrifice. He was always sacrificing Himself. On Calvary, He only wrote the word out in capitals!

The cross stands not merely for the sufferings of Christ endured in redeeming sinners but also for the law of love and of sacrifice in every department of Christian living. It is not enough to have the cross on our churches, as a symbol of redemption; or to wear it as an ornament around our neck; the cross must be in the heart and manifested in the life!

We talk a great deal about the love of Christ but we must strive to illustrate it and reproduce in our own lives, in our own measure the sweetness, the charity, the kindness and the helpfulness of Jesus Christ. The cross is everywhere. The more of the 'sacrificial' quality we get into our life the diviner and the lovelier our life will be.

We do not have to be crucified on pieces of wood to bear a cross, and make a living sacrifice. The cross must be in the lives of those who follow Christ; not branded on their bodies but wrought into their character, their disposition, their conduct, their spirit! We cannot live a Christian life for a day, without coming to points of sacrifice.

The cross of Christ does not take our own cross from us Christ does not bear our cross for us. His cross becomes the law of our life, and makes it all sacrificial. Every sacrificial thing we do, reveals the cross. The Beatitudes are all sacrificial. No one can live the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and not crucify self continually.

All sacrifice at length, blossoms into Christlike beauty, sweetness and joy.

"Take me, Lord, and use me today as You will. I lay all my plans at Your feet. Whatever work You have for me to do give it into my hands. If there are those You would have me help in any way send them to me, or send me to them. Take my time and use it just as You will."

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Reader, are you a Christian?

(James Smith, "Good seed for the Lord's field!" 1856)

Are you a Christian?

This is a very important inquiry, because many profess to be so who are not so in reality. And yet no one can be saved unless he is a Christian.

If anyone is in Christ he is a new creature:
he is convinced of sin and mourns over it;
he hates sin and departs from it;
he reads the Word of God and loves it;
he hears the gospel of Christ and believes it.

He becomes a disciple of Christ, . . .
  learning His doctrines,
  trusting His promises,
  and doing His will.

He receives the Spirit of Christ, which is a spirit of meekness, love, and holiness.

He would rather suffer for Christ than sin against Christ! He . . .
  loves the person of Christ,
  imitates the example of Christ, and
  observes the ordinances of Christ.

He commits his soul into the hands of Jesus . . .
  to be pardoned through His blood,
  to be justified by His righteousness,
  to be sanctified by His Spirit,
  to be preserved by His power,
  to be used for His glory, and
  to be presented faultless by Him to the Father at last.

He looks for the second coming of Christ with joy because then he will be like Him, for he will see Him as He is!

Such is a Christian, according to the New Testament.

Reader, are you a Christian?

Can you live without prayer?

Can you be happy without Christ?

Can you neglect or despise the Word of God?

If so then you are not a Christian!

Every Christian finds . . .
  prayer to be the breath of his soul,
  Christ to be the food of his soul,
  the Bible to be the comfort of his soul, and
  the Lord's people to be the beloved companions of his soul.

Examine yourself, for thousands bear the Christian name who know nothing of Christian experience. Multitudes live and die under a delusion and will say to Jesus at last, "Lord, Lord, we were Christians!" Then He will say unto them, "I never knew you! Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" This will be dreadful most dreadful!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The devil's draw-net!

(Thomas Watson, "Dearly Beloved" 1662)

"He who walks with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed!" Proverbs 13:20

Take heed of the company you keep! Beware of unnecessary familiarity with the ungodly.

We cannot catch health from another but we may soon catch a disease! The disease of sin is very contagious! I should be as afraid of going among the wicked as going among those who have the plague! "They mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs!" Psalm 106:35. If we cannot make others better let us take care that they make us no worse.

Lot was a 'miracle' he kept fresh in Sodom's salt-water!

My beloved, take heed of the occasions of sin evil company is a great occasion of sin. The Nazarites in the old law, as they were not to drink wine so they were also forbidden grapes, from which the wine was made, as you read in Numbers 6. This teaches us, that all occasions of sin must be avoided.

Evil company is the devil's draw-net, by which he draws millions to Hell. How many families, and how many souls have been ruined and undone by evil company? Many there are, who go from a play-house and from a tavern to the bottomless pit!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Counterfeit piety is double iniquity!

(Thomas Watson, "Dearly Beloved" 1662)

"Surely, You desire truth in the inward part." Psalm 51:6

Be sincere! Be what you seem to be!

Do not be like rowers in a boat, who look one way and row another way.
Do not look heaven-ward by your profession and row hell-ward by your life!

Do not pretend to love God and yet really love sin.

Counterfeit piety is double iniquity!
Let your hearts be sincere and upright with God.

The plainer the diamond is the richer it is. Just so, the more plain and sincere the heart is the more does God value His jewel.

A little rusty gold is far better than a great deal of bright brass. Just so, a little true grace, though rusted over with many infirmities is better than all the glistening shows of religious hypocrites.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" Matthew 23:27-28, 33

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Let me tell you, the Devil has his ministers!

(Thomas Watson, "Dearly Beloved" 1662)

Take heed whom you listen to! It is our dear Savior's counsel, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravening wolves!" Matthew 7:15.

Let me tell you, the Devil has his ministers as well as Christ! There are some, who by the subtlety of their wit, have learned the art of mixing error with truth, and to give poison in a golden cup!

Take heed WHO you hear, and HOW you hear. Be like those noble Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily, to see whether the things that they taught, were true or not. Acts 17:11.

Your ears must not be like sponges which suck in puddle-water, as well as wine. But your ears must be like a winnowing fan, which fans out the chaff but retains the pure wheat. You must be like those in the parable, who gathered the good fish but cast the bad away. Matthew 13:48.

The saints are called virgins for their wisdom they will not let everyone defile their souls with error! They have both a judicious ear, and a critical palate which can distinguish between truth and error; and discern a difference between God's pure food, and the devil's cooking!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You fools when will you be wise?

(James Smith, "Important Questions!" 1858)

"You fools when will you be wise?" Psalm 94:8

The Scripture stigmatizes the lost sinner as a fool. He may be rich, he may be learned, he may fill an honorable station in the world but so long as he neglects the one thing needful he is called a fool.

Wisdom consists in fixing upon a worthy end and pursuing it in the most prudent and judicious way.

A wise man . . .
thinks of his immortal soul and seeks its salvation above everything else.
thinks of the wrath of God and endeavors by all means to escape it.
thinks of a crown of glory and sets his heart upon obtaining it.
sees that glorifying God is his highest honor, and secures his greatest happiness and therefore he makes that the grand end of his life.

But the multitude, alas! the multitude overlook, or despise, or treat these things with contempt! They live . . .
as if self-gratification were the end of their creation,
as if earth were their eternal dwelling-place, and
as if glorifying God were no business of theirs!

If we were to judge them by their conduct, we would be ready to conclude . . .
that they had no souls to be saved or lost,
that there was no Hell to escape,
that there was no Heaven to obtain,
that there was no crown of glory to be won,
that there was no crown of shame to be avoided.
Surely the Scriptures are right in designating such men fools for fools, the greatest fools, they must be!

Should the eye of a worldly man or woman light upon this page God asks you the question, "When will you be wise?"
When will you begin to seek the kingdom of God, and His righteousness?
When will you come to Jesus, and be saved from wrath by Him?
When will you begin to lay up for yourself treasure in heaven?
When will you prepare for death, judgment, and eternity?

"If only they were wise and would understand this, and discern what their end will be!" Deuteronomy 32:29