Grace Gems for MAY 2012

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All things work together for good!

(James Smith, "Food for the Soul" 1867)

"All things work together for good!" Romans 8:28

What! Shall all my severe trials, troubles and afflictions work together for my good? Yes but they are not good alone but only in connection with other things.
Outward and inward,
painful and pleasant,
joyous and grievous,
gains and losses,
victories and defeats,
all work together! And God superintends the working, so as to secure our good and prevent our injury! God aims at our real and lasting good in all that He does and in all that He permits. He does nothing, nor allows anything to be done which affects us but what we shall bless and praise Him for, when we see the entire whole in the light of glory!

"He has done all things well!" Mark 7:37

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Trials and sorrows

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

"In the world, you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33

To be forewarned is to be forearmed! Our divine Lord here assures His disciples that they will be tried, and teaches them that they must not expect a very smooth path.

The road to the kingdom, will always be more or less a rough road. Almost every day something or other will happen to . . .
  try our tempers,
  exercise our graces,
  or distress our minds.

At times, we shall have many trials and sorrows:
Within a violent conflict between the flesh and the spirit.
Without vexations, disappointments, heavy losses, or rugged crosses.
In the body weakness and pain.
In the soul temptation and a thousand fears.
In the church much to depress, discourage, and cast us down.
In the world enough to make us weep day and night.

If it were not for . . .
  the comforts of the Holy Spirit,
  the fullness of the Lord Jesus,
  the throne of grace, and
  the prospect of perfect peace and rest in our Father's house
  we would be of all men, the most miserable.

But as it is, we make some progress on the rough road. Though we may often sigh we also raise a song, and rejoice in the persuasion that all will end well. When we reach the kingdom all trials and sorrows will cease and all will be holy and peaceful forever.

Heavenly Father, take me to Your house where there are no more foes, no more fears, no more privations; and, best of all, where there is no more sin or temptation!

"They strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God!" Acts 14:22

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It would make him pull his hat down over his eyes!

(John MacDuff, "Heavenly Aspirations")

If the best man's sins were written on his forehead it would make him pull his hat down over his eyes!

"Who can discern his errors? Cleanse me from my hidden faults!" Psalm 19:12

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A day of great surprise!

(William S. Plumer, "Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness")

"The hopes of the godly result in happiness,
 but the hopes of the wicked are all in vain." Proverbs 10:28

"When the wicked die, their hopes all perish." Proverbs 11:7

The day of judgment will also be a day of great surprise, both to saints and sinners. So Christ expressly informs us: "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 7:22-23

Many will be saved, and many will be lost contrary to the judgments formed of them by their neighbors. But more  will be saved, and more will be lost contrary to the opinions  they had of themselves!

will wonder that they are saved, and how they are saved, and they will wonder that they should be commended for deeds full of imperfection.

The wicked will be amazed that they are lost, and how they are lost; and especially that God puts no value upon their self-righteousness.

The sons of God will receive more honor than they ever thought of claiming;
while the wicked will find their hopes perishing one by one, and their lamp going out in obscure

Christians will wonder why they should be saved.
Unbelievers will wonder why they should not be saved.

The wicked will ask, "What have we done amiss?"
The saved will say, "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags!"

The wicked will say that he has done the best he can.
The righteous will say, "Behold, I am vile!"

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:46. Nothing can reverse, nor arrest the judgments of that day. Nothing can alter or vary the decree of the Judge. It shall stand forever. The judgment of the great day will be irrevocable and everlasting in its effects. It will bind forever. 

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The secret sorrow

(Theodore Cuyler, "Beulah-Land or, Words of Cheer for Christian Pilgrims")

"I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own sheep and they know Me." John 10:14

Jesus knows those who are His. He knows all about every one of them: their strong points and their weak points; their besetting sins and their graces.

The fact of Christ's perfect knowledge of all our needs and requirements, throws great light on some dark providences. It explains some mysteries why one of us is put up, and another is put down; why one is prospered, and another is impoverished.

Our blessed Master, in His family discipline, commits no mistakes. When He takes an immortal soul under His loving care and into His training-school, He understands the character of each His pupils. He is a most forbearing and considerate of masters. He never lays on weak shoulders, the loads which only stalwarts can carry. All the while, too, how sweetly come the encouraging words, "I am with you always! My grace is sufficient for you! As your days so your strength shall be." He calls us not slaves He calls us His friends.

How perfectly acquainted He is, too, with all our weaknesses! He knows our frame; He remembers that we are but dust. Here is great encouragement for penitent sinners. He quenches no smoking flax He breaks no bruised reeds.

The secret sorrow which I dare not breathe to the most intimate friend I can freely unbosom to my Savior. Ah, how well He knows every thorn which pricks my foot, and every wound which trickles its silent drops from my bleeding soul! This is a wondrous encouragement to prayer. For my Physician will never administer the wrong medicine, nor fail to help us in the hour of sudden distress!

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Humble souls

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

None on earth are so near to God, and so high in their communion with God as humble souls. And as they have the clearest visions of God so God gives them the fullest sight and knowledge of their own sinfulness and nothingness.

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear but now my eye has seen You. Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes!" says Job.

In a vision the Lord reveals His glory to the prophet Isaiah, "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!" Oh, the vision that I have had of the glory of God, has given me such a clear and full sight of my own vileness and baseness, that I cannot but loathe and abhor myself!

When Abraham draws near to God, then he accounts himself nothing but dust and ashes! Genesis 18:27.

When Peter saw that glorious miracle wrought by the Lord Jesus, he cries out as one very sensible of his own weakness and sinfulness, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" That is, "a man, a sinner" a compound of dirt and sin! Ah! I am not worthy to be near such majesty and glory who am a mere bundle of vice and vanity, of folly and iniquity!

The angels who are near God, who stand before Him, in humility cover their faces with two wings, as with a double scarf, in Isaiah 6:2.

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Our 'lot' of afflictions

(Letters of John Newton)

My dear friend,
My wife has been very ill. But we are growing older, and may expect that as years increase infirmities will increase also. Yet we are in His hands and they are merciful hands.

His Word still gives us encouragement to trust in Him, and call upon Him as long as we live. May we cast all our cares upon Him with a persuasion that He cares for us! May His grace be sufficient for us, and our strength be according to our day and then all shall be well.

Time is short, and the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed. A happy end will make amends for all the difficulties we meet with along the way. Oh that we could learn to live with the Lord by the day, and leave the unknown tomorrow, and all its needs with Him.

The trials of yesterday are gone to return no more. Those of tomorrow are not yet come. The Lord mercifully parcels out to us our 'lot' of afflictions by minutes and moments that we might not be overburdened. But we, foolishly looking back to the past, and forward to the future load ourselves with an unnecessary and unprofitable weight! It is no wonder, therefore, that we are often weary!

The heaviest part of our trials is owing, not so much to the painful dispensations which cause them as the self-will and unbelief of our hearts. And our relief depends more upon the cure of our wrong inward dispositions than upon any change of our outward circumstances.

I have indeed had my trials, and some of them have been sharp; but their sharpness, as I have hinted, has been chiefly owing to my lack of faith and submission. I have reason to praise Him for my trials, for, most probably, I would have been ruined without them!

Your affectionate friend,
John Newton

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As your days so shall your strength be!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

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

Here is a precious promise for a trying day! It belongs to every Christian who is traveling to the Celestial City. It provides for every part of life's journey; for every day as each day may require.

It is especially suited to the dark days, the wintry days, and the trying days when all our earthly props fail us; the days when our fellow man cannot help us.

Fellow pilgrim! Are you dispirited, depressed, and cast down? Are you looking back upon the past with sorrow and forward into the future with fear? Cheer up! The Lord will not lay on you more than He will enable you to bear nor will He allow any other to do so.

However weak you may feel in yourself,
however rough the road you may need to travel,
however heavy the burden you may have to carry
God will supply you with sufficient strength for the day!

He has never allowed you to be crushed yet, though you may have staggered under some heavy burdens. He who has helped you in the past is still your helper today. He will also help you in all the future. "As your days" be they as troublesome as they may "so shall your strength be."

Whether your day brings life or death, joy or trial it does not matter. God will send you exactly what you need to pass through it! Do not look at your trials, do not dwell on your inability but lay hold on the promises of God and seek His grace to exercise faith in Him.

Then let Satan suggest what he pleases, or the flesh object as it may you will be able to say, "I will not fear; for as my day so shall my strength be. He who has promised will also fulfill His promise."

Blessed Lord, I praise You for this precious promise! Help, oh, help me to trust in it; and day by day as duty or trials may require enable me to look to You and expect sufficient strength from You!

"On the day I called You answered me; You increased strength within me!" Psalm 138:3

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I am truly a marvel and miracle!

(John MacDuff, "Evening Incense" 1856)

O my Father, it is of Your compassions alone, that I am not consumed!

My way Zionward is well-studded with Ebenezers, testifying "Thus far the Lord has helped me!"

The pillar of Your presence has guided me through many a perplexing path!

Your love has smiled through many a threatening cloud!

Your restraining grace has arrested me in many a slippery way!

When "my soul was among lions" how often have You "sent Your angel" to rescue me and shut the lions' mouths! I am truly a marvel and miracle of Your preservation, patience, and mercy!

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

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The loving heart of an actual living Christ!

(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" 1879)

I am afraid that many Christians in our day, have lost sight of Christ. They talk . . .
  more about salvation than about their only Savior, and
  more about redemption than the one true Redeemer, and
  more about Christ's work than Christ Himself!

This is a great fault one that accounts for the dry and shriveled spirit that infuses the religious lives of many who profess faith.

As ever you would grow in grace, and have joy and peace in believing beware of falling into this error! Cease to regard the Gospel as a mere collection of dry doctrines. Look at it rather as the revelation of a mighty living Being in whose sight you are daily to live. Cease to regard the Gospel as a mere set of abstract propositions and abstruse principles and rules. Look at it as the introduction to a glorious personal Friend. This is the kind of Gospel that the apostles preached. They did not go about the world telling men of love and mercy and pardon in the abstract. The leading subject of all their sermons, was the loving heart of an actual living Christ!

This is the kind of Gospel which is most calculated to promote sanctification and fitness for glory. Nothing, surely, is so likely to prepare us for that Heaven where Christ's personal presence will be all, and that glory where we shall meet Christ face to face as to realize communion with Christ, as an actual living Person. There is all the difference in the world, between an idea and a person.

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Sleepy saints!

(Arthur W. Pink)

"You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober!" 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6

Sleepy saints! What an anomaly! Drowsing on the verge of eternity!

A Christian is one who, in contrast to the unregenerate, has been awakened from the sleep of death in trespasses and sins, made to realize the unspeakable awfulness of endless misery in Hell and the ineffable joy of everlasting bliss in Heaven and thereby brought to recognize the seriousness and solemnity of life!

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The sovereign decrees and allotments of Your infinite wisdom!

(John MacDuff, "Evening Incense" 1856)

O my Father, let me feel, even amid the troublous changes of life, that what I am apt to call painful vicissitudes are the sovereign decrees and allotments of Your infinite wisdom!

Let me rejoice that every bitter drop in the 'cup of life' is appointed by my Heavenly Father! May I submissively drink it, saying, "May Your will be done!"

What I cannot now comprehend be it mine to wait the disclosures of that blessed morning when, standing at the luminous portals of Heaven, I shall joyfully acknowledge that, "You have done all things well!"

I look forward to that time when all Your inscrutable dealings will be unfolded, when inner meanings and purposes now undiscerned by the eye of sense will be brought to light, and all discovered to be full of infinite love! Other refuges may fail but I am as secure in You, as everlasting love and wisdom and power can make me!

Blessed Jesus! I would seek to cleave closer and closer to Your cross! May I follow You, O Lamb of God wherever You see fit to lead me. May I never feel as if I would wish one jot or tittle regarding me to be altered when the reins of universal empire are in Your hands!

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The best preacher of the gospel

(Theodore Cuyler, "Wayside Springs from the Fountain of Life" 1883)

An honest, consistent, holy character is a sermon all the week. The godly Christian pure of heart and unspotted by the world is the best preacher of the gospel. The revival which is most urgently needed is a revival of practical godliness. Sunday preaching is not enough; we need more "sermons all through the week."

Let us go down to the core. The only basis of good character is a renewed heart a heart in which Jesus Christ lives, a heart which is in the habit of obeying Christ's commandments. Such a man draws his motives of action from his deep, abiding love to Jesus. Up from the very roots comes his daily devotion to those things which are pure and honest and lovely and of good report. Rooted into Christ, he is not easily shaken. He does not bend to trickery or yield to temptation. The world cannot move such a man. What does he care for its changing, frivolous fashions; his fashion is to do the will of his holy Master.

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

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Our good works instantly lose all their value!

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

"But when you give to the needy do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret." Matthew 6:3-4

There are some people who want every good thing they do, to be well advertised. If they give money to some good cause they want to have it noticed in the papers. If they are kind to the poor or relieve some case of distress they are particular that the matter should be duly published. They take pains that their charities shall not fail to be credited to themselves.

But this is not the kind of spirit which our Lord enjoined on His disciples. He told them that seeking publicity marred the beauty of their charities; that instead of announcing to others what they had done they should not even let their own left hand know that their right hand had been doing commendable things.

Of course, Christ did not mean that we should never give to charities except where the act would be absolutely secret. It is the heart-motive that Christ was enforcing. His disciples should never give for the sake of men's praise. Our good works instantly lose all their value when any motive but the honor of God and desire for His approval, is in our heart. We should not even think about our charities ourselves but should forget them, as the tree forgets the fruits it drops.

We should train ourselves therefore to do our good deeds without seeking the praise or recognition of men. We should not be so anxious to have our name posted on every gift we send. We ought to be willing to do good, and let Christ have all the glory while we stay back unknown and unrecognized.

Florence Nightingale, having gone like an angel of mercy among the hospitals in the Crimea until her name was enshrined in every soldier's heart asked to be excused from having her picture taken that she might be forgotten, and that Christ alone might be remembered as the author of all the blessings which her hand had distributed!

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Endeavor to learn Paul's lesson

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

"Be content with such things as you have." Hebrews 13:5

We may not always have what we desire but we certainly have what our God thinks is best for us. Every mercy we have, is directed by His infinite wisdom and eternal love.

Let us therefore remember, that our God has chosen our inheritance for us, and it befits us to be content; yes, to be very grateful.

We have infinitely more than we deserve! We have more than many of our fellow-believers.
We have liberty while the Apostles were shut up in prison.
We have a home while many of the primitive Christians wandered about in dens and caves of the earth.
Our lives are safe while the martyrs were burned at the stake.
We live in the sure hope of Heaven while many are lifting up their eyes in Hell, being in torment!

Let us strive to be content with present things, and endeavor to learn Paul's lesson, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

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If we are quick to perceive blemishes and faults in others

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

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

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

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

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

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

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What school shall I go to?

J. C. Ryle)

"He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32

Would I learn how to be contented and cheerful under all the cares and anxieties of life? What school shall I go to? How shall I attain this state of mind most easily? Shall I look at the sovereignty of God, the wisdom of God, the providence of God, the love of God? It is well to do so; but I have a better argument still.

I will look at Calvary and the crucifixion. I feel that He who spared not His only begotten Son but delivered Him up to die for me will surely with Him give me all things that I really need. He who endured that pain for my soul will surely not withhold from me anything that is really good. He who has done the greater things for me will doubtless do the lesser things also. He who gave His own blood to procure me a home in Heaven will unquestionably supply me with all that is really profitable for me by the way. Ah, reader, there is no school for learning contentment that can be compared with Calvary and the foot of the cross!

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Should it be according to your mind?

(James Smith, "Food for the Soul" 1867)

"Should it be according to your mind?" Job 34:33

Thus the infinitely wise God appeals to us His poor foolish creatures.

We want our own way.
We wish to carve for ourselves.
But God loves us too well, to allow us to do so!

He has drawn the plan of our lives.
He has marked out the paths we are to tread.
He has fixed the bounds of our habitation.
Yes, He has numbered the very hairs of our head!

He has arranged everything to secure our spiritual and eternal good. This He has told us in His Word and yet we are not satisfied. But, "Should it be according to your mind?"

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God's beauty!

(Stephen Charnock)

Power is God's hand or arm,
omniscience is God's eye,
mercy is God's delight,
eternity is God's duration,
but holiness is God's beauty!

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A woman's hardest lot!

(Timothy Shay Arthur, "Lovers and Husbands. A Story of Married Life" 1847)

No man is able fully to meet and reciprocate a true woman's love. The best of men, with all their willingness, with all their efforts, fail. There are deep places of her heart unreached aching voids unfilled. And yet it is astonishing how small a return will seem to satisfy a woman, and make her heart glow with sunlight. A pleasant word, a tender look, a kiss of love ah! these seem but small returns for the deep tenderness that ever burns in her bosom! And yet, alas! too often even these are withheld and the selfish, reserved, cold, and at times morose "lord of creation," comes in and goes out daily never dreaming that by this very coldness, reserve, and moroseness he is breaking the heart of her who loves him better than her own life!

But it is ever so. Hundreds, thousands, yes, tens of thousands of wives, are performing their round of duties hourly and daily unblessed by smiles that warm the bosom, or words that make the heart tremble with inner joy; while, all unconscious of their cruel indifference those who provide fine houses, fine furniture, and fine garments for their victims, proudly imagine that they are the best of husbands!

Maiden innocent, loving maiden! do not turn away from this picture now, or else the time may come when you will seek to turn from it, and shall not be able. When one comes asking your love know well if he is worthy of such love as you can give. Do not look alone at his attractive exterior; seek to know what ends actuate him. It is the loveliness of pure, high principles that remains verdant the longest yes, forever verdant. These, and these alone, can make you permanently happy. Without them, an angel's grace, an angel's form would lose its attractions; with them, the plainest exterior soon grows beautiful to the eye of a loving wife. Lay this up in your heart; think of it in the morning, and when your head presses your pillow at night. It may save you from a woman's hardest lot that of being bound for life to a man who does not even try to make her happy!

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The only fire which will burn away the dross!

(by J. C. Ryle)

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness." Hebrews 12:10

How would the great work of sanctification go on in a person if they had no trials?

Trouble is often the only fire which will burn away the dross which clings to our hearts.

Trouble is the pruning-knife which Christ employs in order to make us fruitful in good works. The harvest of the Lord's field is seldom ripened by sunshine only. It must go through its days of wind and rain and storm.

"Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I obey Your Word." Psalm 119:67

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Run to your Father's arms and nestle in His bosom!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

"Be still and know that I am God!" Psalm 46:10

This is God's message to His people, even during the most terrible convulsions of nature, the most cruel wars, and the most painful trials! The Lord reigns and works, even in the most dreadful circumstances.

The Lord is constantly doing His will, and accomplishing His purposes and He never forgets His promises.

Be childlike. Run to your Father's arms and nestle in His bosom! Realize safety in your Father's love and power. He will tenderly . . .
  hold you in the hollow of His hand,
  hide you under His wings, and
  carry you in His bosom as the shepherd does the lamb.

"Be still," for though painful at present your trial will soon be over. Know that God is supreme and works all things after the counsel of His own will. Know that God never loses sight of you, or forgets your frame and your weakness. Exercise patience, relieve your burdened heart by prayer and wait in full expectation of a blessing.

As the darkest cloud, often bears the most fruitful shower so the darkest circumstances, often usher in the choicest mercies. Only . . .
  yield yourself to God,
  keep close to the loving heart of God,
  and submit to the will of God.
Then you will be able to . . .
  carry any cross,
  bear any trial, or
  endure any affliction!

Be silent, be calm, be still the Lord rules as King forever!

Do not complain for it will displease the Lord.
Do not murmur for it will grieve Him.
Do not fear for it will dishonor Him.

Instead, be still for your safety is provided for.
Be still for your needs shall be supplied.
Be still for all things shall work together for your good.
Be still for God bids you, and all will end well.

Take me into Your nearness, dear Lord, and help me to be still. Calm my foolish fears and my fearful imaginations. In all of life, help me, O Lord, to be still.

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The sovereign decrees and allotments of Your infinite wisdom!

(John MacDuff, "Evening Incense" 1856)

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised!" Job 1:21

O my Father, let me feel, even amid the troublous changes of life, that what I am apt to call painful vicissitudes are the sovereign decrees and allotments of Your infinite wisdom!

Let me rejoice that every bitter drop in the 'cup of life' is appointed by my Heavenly Father! May I submissively drink it, saying, "May Your will be done!"

What I cannot now comprehend be it mine to wait the disclosures of that blessed morning when, standing at the luminous portals of Heaven, I shall joyfully acknowledge that, "You have done all things well!"

I look forward to that time when all Your inscrutable dealings will be unfolded, when inner meanings and purposes now undiscerned by the eye of sense will be brought to light, and all discovered to be full of infinite love! Other refuges may fail but I am as secure in You, as everlasting love and wisdom and power can make me!

Blessed Jesus! I would seek to cleave closer and closer to Your cross! May I follow You, O Lamb of God wherever You see fit to lead me. May I never feel as if I would wish one jot or tittle regarding me to be altered when the reins of universal empire are in Your hands!

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An emblem of the aged believer

(William Schenck, "Nearing Home; Comforts and Counsels for the Aged" 1868)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green!" Psalm 92:12-14

The palm tree, to which God's people are compared in this Psalm, is remarkable for its lengthened and increasing fruitfulness. The best dates are said to be gathered when it has reached a hundred years of age. How beautiful an emblem of the aged believer, growing in grace and maturing in holiness to the close of his earthly existence! Each day, each year, added to his life adds to the loveliness and perfection of his Christian virtues. His character has a mellowness and sweetness, which it lacked in earlier seasons.

He is ripening for Heaven!
In knowledge, in wisdom, in love, in humility, in gentleness, in patience, in peace, in usefulness, in happiness he is steadily and constantly advancing. He is filled with the Spirit, and therefore brings forth the fruits of the Spirit.

Is this portraiture of an aged Christian yours, reader? Alas, it does not belong to all who profess and call themselves by the Savior's name.

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That last river which we all must pass over!

(Thomas Sherman, "Divine Breathings; Or, a Pious Soul Thirsting after Christ")

The Israelites were necessitated first to pass over the Jordan River, before they could enter Canaan, the promised land. But no sooner had the feet of the priests, who bore the ark of the covenant, rested in the water but the proud waves saw it and fled, and the swelling streams were driven back, and congealed in heaps to enable them to pass over with safety.

Every child of God resembles an Israelite in this respect; he is passing through the wilderness of this world, and traveling to the land of promise. DEATH is that Jordan River which runs between this wilderness world and our heavenly Canaan. Death is that swelling stream which overflows the banks of every mortal creature. It is that last river which we all must pass over!

But this is the happiness which believers have that Jesus Christ, our High Priest, who bears the everlasting covenant upon His shoulders, has already dipped His feet in the streams of this water, so that the streams of bitterness are diverted, the sting of death plucked out, the waters of the salt sea dried up; yes, the power of the curse cut off, so that death is but a sure step to glory!

Why then am I afraid to die? The channel is dry! I see the footsteps of my Savior at the bottom and Heaven and happiness on the other side! The waters cannot overwhelm my soul!
They may go over my sins,
they may go over my foes,
they may go over my miseries,
they may go over my troubles,
but my soul shall pass over to its eternal rest!

Lord, therefore fit and sanctify me for death and then take down my earthly tent. I cannot be with You too soon!

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" Philippians 1:23

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They cannot help seeing us walk!

(James Smith, "Daily Food for the Lord's Flock!" 1848)

"For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men!" 1 Peter 2:15

The ungodly are to be silenced by our deeds rather than by our words. They may refuse to hear us speak but they cannot help seeing us walk!

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He is never too busy!

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

"Our Father in Heaven!" Matthew 6:9

This is the 'golden gate' of the temple of prayer!

When our Lord taught His disciples how to pray it was thus He said they should begin. They were not to come to infinite power, or to unknowable mystery, or to inaccessible light but to tender fatherhood. This precious name "Father" at the gateway makes the approach to God easy and sure.

The name "Father" assures us of divine love and care. Does a true parent have care for his child? Much more does our Father in Heaven care for His children on the earth! He even cares for the birds feeding them their daily food. He even cares for the flowers weaving, with colorful threads, the lovely robes which they wear. He surely cares more for His children! So the precious name "Father" assures us that we shall never be neglected nor overlooked in this great world.

The name "Father" also gives us assurance of unhindered access to the Divine presence. The children of a great earthly king are not kept waiting at their father's door, as strangers are. Just so, God's children have perfect liberty in His presence. They can never come at an untimely hour. He is never too busy to see them and to listen to their words of love and prayer. In the midst of the innumerable affairs of the vast universe He thinks of His lowliest child! Amid all the confusion and noise of this great world He hears and recognizes the faintest cry that rises from the lips of the least and lowliest of His little ones.

The name "Father" also interprets for us, the grace and mercy of our God. We are always conscious of sin. How, then, can we gain access to a holy God? Ah! He is our Father! We know that even an earthly father does not shut the door on his erring child. The candle is left burning in the window through the long dark nights that the wanderer out in the blackness and longing to return, seeing the bright beams may be assured of love and a waiting welcome. Infinitely more gracious, is "our Father in Heaven!"

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Two signs

(Richard Baxter, "The Saints' Everlasting Rest")

Let DESERVED! be written on the door of Hell;
but on the door of Heaven, THE FREE GIFT!

"For the wages of sin is death but the gift of
 God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!"
    Romans 6:23 

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It will cost you something!

(J. C. Ryle)

"And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me, cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:27

Do you wish your soul to be saved?

Then remember, you must choose who you will serve.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.
You cannot be on two sides at once.
You cannot be a friend of Christ and a friend of the world at the same time.

You must come out from the people of this world, and be separate; you must put up with much ridicule, trouble, and opposition or you are lost forever. You must be willing to think and do things which the world considers foolish, and to hold opinions which are only held by a few. It will cost you something! The stream is strong and you have to stem it. The way is narrow and steep and it is no use saying it is not. But depend on it, there can be no saving religion without sacrifices and self-denial.

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

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Our godless society!

(Theodore Cuyler, "Wayside Springs from the Fountain of Life" 1883)

"Do not be conformed to the world." Romans 12:2

The sin of modern civilization has been well described as "making more of status than it does of character." But the very essence of Bible religion, is to make character everything and conduct the test and evidence of character.

Our godless society needs a strict, pure, honest, self-denying, godly-minded church! Conformity to the world will never convert the world! We are not to accommodate Christianity to the thought and fashion of the times but to keep it stoutly and steadily up to its original standards. We must stand fast, not only to the faith once delivered to the saints, but to the practices which are enjoined in God's Word.

Social life, with increase of wealth, has a trend towards demoralization. Luxury weakens morality. Popular amusements become sensualized and offer their temptations to the church. "Do not be conformed to the world" applies to the theater, the ball-room, the wine-cup, and to everything that would turn God's earth into a "Vanity Fair." Conformity to the world amounts, in the end, to more than the corruption of Christ's church. It puts out the light which Christ has kindled; it destroys the very leaven which He has prepared to purify and sweeten and save a "world lying in wickedness."

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It mightily alters and changes a man!

(Thomas Brooks, "A Cabinet of Choice Jewels")

"Thanks be to God that, though you used to be
 slaves to sin you wholeheartedly obeyed the
 form of teaching to which you were entrusted."
     Romans 6:17

Certainly, gospel-obedience is a grace of much
worth, and of great force upon the whole man;
for when it is once wrought in the heart, it works
a conformity to all God's holy will.

That obedience which springs from saving faith,
is a transforming obedience. It mightily alters
and changes a man
  from impurity to purity,
  from sin to sanctity,
  from unrighteousness to righteousness,
  from earthly-mindedness to heavenly-mindedness,
  from pride to humility,
  from hypocrisy to sincerity, etc.

Those who are not savingly changed, are still
in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity.