Grace Gems for DECEMBER, 2012

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December 31, 1855

(James Smith, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith:

December 31, 1855.
The last day of the year 1855 a year characterized by . . .
  many severe trials,
  many sore temptations,
  and innumerable mercies.

In some things, it closes differently to what I expected but how differently it may have closed!

I might have been in Hell!
O terrible thought!

I might have been on a sick bed, tormented with excruciating pain, or reduced to a state of infantile weakness.

I might have been in great and sore troubles, tossed with tempests, and not comforted.

I might have been without a pastorate and without a loving people.

Or I might have been guilty of some heinous sin, lost my character, and been a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth!

Blessed, forever blessed be the Lord that such is not my case!
My health is good,
my hope in Christ is steady,
my congregation good, and
I trust the Lord will yet work a great work by me.

And now, Lord, I desire to confess before you the sins of this past year:

I have sinned with my tongue and with my temper.

I have sinned in my heart and in my life.

I have omitted duties.

I have committed sins.

My motives have often been impure.

My aims have not been sufficiently high and holy.

I have been impatient, fretful, irritable, rash, jealous, envious, discontented, and ungrateful.

O may the blood of Jesus wash out every stain!

I renounce all hope but what centers in Jesus!

I have no refuge, no hiding-place, no strong tower, no place of safety but Jesus.

Christ in His person,
Christ in His finished work,
Christ in His glorious intercession
is all my hope, all my confidence, all my joy!
I am His servant and wish to serve Him alone.
I am His subject and wish to be ruled by Him alone.
I am His purchased property and wish to be consecrated entirely, eternally, and altogether to Him!

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How to pray in our own Gethsemanes

(J.R. Miller)

"And being in agony He prayed more earnestly!" Luke 22:44

This is the record of our Savior's Gethsemane experience. Like a bright lamp, this Scripture shines amid the olive trees of that garden to show us the path to comfort in our time of sorrow. Never before nor since, has there been such grief as the Redeemer's that night -but He found comfort in His prayer. His agony lessened as He prayed, until at last its bitterness was all gone and sweet, blessed peace took its place.

The 'gate of prayer' is one of comfort. There is no other place for true comfort and help. We learn from our Lord's Gethsemane agony how to pray in our own Gethsemanes.

God never blames us for asking to have the bitter cup removed, nor for the intensity of our prayers; but we must always pray with submission to His will. When we sincerely pray, "Not my will, but may Your will be done" comfort comes, and then peace.

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The shadow!

(J.R. Miller)

"Shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?" Job 2:10

Shall we trust our Father only when our lives are filled with pleasant things and then not trust Him also when a shadow falls over our hearts? Do you think that God is good only when He makes all things please you?

Our call is to trust God at all times whether good or bad. For even if sorrow should enter our home, He is able, even in the midst of sorrow, to make our home-life sweeter, purer, and more Christ-like. If we trust in God, then the shadow will be as rich a blessing to us as the light; and the sorrow will be steps upward, on which our feet may climb Heavenward!

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

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight!" Proverbs 3:5-6

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Not what we HAVE or what we KNOW, but what we ARE!

(J.R. Miller)

We must strive to realize every longing for holiness and Christlikeness, which our hearts seek. Remember that it is character alone, which is the test of true living.
It is not knowledge; for knowledge will fail.
It is not money; for money cannot be taken into the eternal world.
It is not fame; for fame's laurels fade at the grave's edge.
It is not culture, or education, or refinement either.
It is our character alone not what we HAVE or what we KNOW, but what we ARE which we can carry with us into the eternal world.

"He who is unjust let him be unjust still;
 he who is filthy let him be filthy still;
 he who is righteous let him be righteous still;
 he who is holy let him be holy still."
    Revelation 22:11

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Seeing through love's eyes

(J.R. Miller)

"Love . . .
no evil,
  bears all things,
  believes all things,
  hopes all things,
  endures all things."
1 Corinthians 13:5-7

Love does not suspect unkindness, in kind deeds.
Love does not imagine an enemy, in every friend.
Love does not fear insincerity, in sincere expressions of love.
Love does not question one's motives, nor discount their acts.

But love overlooks mistakes and hides human faults. It believes tries to think of others always at their best, not at their worst. It considers the best possibilities in people, what they may become through divine love and grace and not merely what they now are. It is wonderful how seeing through love's eyes changes the whole view of earthly life, transforming it. If the heart is filled with suspicion, distrust, and doubts the world grows very ugly. But love sees brightness, beauty, and hope everywhere!

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The shadow of God's wings

(J.R. Miller)

"How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings!" Psalm 36:7

Is there a grief in your heart, which grows into a nagging pain? Is there a hint of a coming sorrow that you see looming over you? Remember that it is the shadow of God's wings and so it is safe to receive. Crawl closer under them.

Earth has nothing so gentle as true mother-love; but God's wings that fold down over you, are gentler than even mother-love; and you can never get out from beneath them. They hold you close to the gentle heart of the divine Father. You need never be afraid while resting there. In all the universe, there is no harm that can come near you. From your eternal refuge, you can look out with confidence on the fury of earth's storms and be at peace. The wildest of them cannot touch you in your refuge!

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in You my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed." Psalm 57:1

"Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings" Psalm 17:8

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This baffles all our comprehension!

(John MacDuff, "Clefts of the Rock" 1874)

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us!"
    John 1:14

What a transition!

What a stoop for that Infinite Being who proclaimed
Himself the Alpha and the Omega for "The Ancient
of days" to assume the nature and take the form of
a cradled infant, sleeping on a virgin mother's bosom!

We have no plumb line to sound the depths of that
humiliation. We have no arithmetic by which it can
be submitted to any process of calculation.

If we can entertain for a moment, the shocking
supposition of the loftiest created spirit in Heaven
abjuring his angel nature, and becoming an insect
or a worm then we can, in some feeble degree,
estimate the descent involved in Jesus' humiliation.

But, for the Illimitable, Everlasting Jehovah,
Himself to become incarnate . . .
  the Creator to take the nature of the created;
  the Infinite to be joined with the finite;
  Deity to be linked with dust;
this baffles all our comprehension!

We can only lie in adoring reverence, and
exclaim with the apostle, "O the depth!"

"Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth!"

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The very hand of divine love!

(J.R. Miller)

"May Your will be done!" Matthew 26:42

God's will for us leads to the noblest, truest, most Christlike character on earth; and then beyond this world to eternal glory! For you, whatever your experiences, however hard and painful life may seem to you God's will is the very hand of divine love to lead you on toward all that is good and beautiful and blessed. Never doubt it, even . . .
  in the darkest hour,
  or when the pain is the greatest,
  or when the cross is heaviest.
God's will always holds you close to Him, and leads you continually toward and into God's sweetest rest.

It brings peace to the heart a peace that never can come in from our own choosing to always be able to say, "May Your will be done!"

"Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Luke 22:42

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God has not promised

(Annie J. Flint, 1919)

"Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." Job 5:7

"Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure." Job 14:1-2

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33

God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised, sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God has not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He has not told us, we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God has not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.

But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love!

"God will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever!" Revelation 21:4

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The worst-tempered people

(J.R. Miller)

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23

The worst-tempered people may be made gentle and loving in all their words, acts, and dispositions by the renewing and transforming power of divine grace. God can take the jangled keys and put them in tune if we will only put them into His hand.

But we must strive ourselves to be sweet-tempered. We must watch the rising anger and quickly choke it back. We must keep down our ugly disposition. We must learn to control ourselves, our tempers, our feelings, our passions, and our tongues. We must seek to develop the gentle virtues and crowd out the thorns! This discipline is not easy, but the lessons can be mastered.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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A powerful, silent, personal influence

(J.R. Miller)

There is a powerful, silent, personal influence, like a shadow, which emanates from everyone and this influence is always leaving results wherever it touches another person. You cannot live a day and not touch some other life with this influence. Wherever you go, your shadow falls on others and they are either better or worse for your presence.

Our influence depends upon what we are more than upon what we do. It is by living a beautiful life, that we bless the world. I do not underestimate good works. Good deeds must characterize every true life. But if your life itself is noble, beautiful, holy, Christlike, one that is itself a blessing and an inspiration then the worth of your influence is multiplied many times!

There is not a Christian who cannot preach sermons every day, at home and among neighbors and friends most eloquently by the beauty of holiness in his or her own everyday life. Wherever a Christian goes his life ought to be an inspiration. Our silent influence ought to touch other lives with blessing. People ought to feel stronger, happier, and more uplifted after meeting us. Our very faces ought to shed light, shining like holy lamps into sad, weary hearts. Our lives ought to be blessings to repair human sorrow and need all around us.

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Building monuments to yourself

(J.R. Miller)

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit" Philippians 2:3

No grace shines more brightly in a Christian, than humility. Wherever SELF comes in it mars the beauty of the work we are doing. Seek to do your work quietly. Do not try to draw attention to yourself, to make people know that you did this or that beautiful thing. Be content to pour your rich life into other wasted, weary lives, and see them blessed and made more holy and then withdraw and let Christ have the honor. Work for God's approval, and even then, do not think much about reward. Seek to be a blessing to others and never think of self-advancement. Do not worry about credit for your work, or about building monuments to yourself; be content to do good in Christ's name.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another" 1 Peter 5:5

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We may be in the world and not be injured by it!

(James Smith, "The Pleading Savior" 1861)

"I do not pray that you should take them out of the world but that you should keep them from the evil." John 17:15

We may be in the world and not be injured by it!

The world is the field in which we are to labor for Christ. Here we are to . . .
  plough up the fallow ground,
  sow the good seed, and
  reclaim the waste places for Jesus.

The world is the battleground on which we are to
  fight the good fight of faith,
  overcome Satan, and
  crucify the old man.

The world is the ocean over which we are to sail to the port of glory; and it befits us to look well to . . .
  the vessel in which we sail,
  the captain who commands it,
  the pilot who steers it, and
  the compass by which it is steered
  so that we may . . .
    avoid the rocks and quicksands,
    outlive the storms and tempests,
    and cast anchor within the veil!

The world is the school in which we are to learn . . .
  the evil of sin,
  the power of corruption,
  the craft of Satan,
  the preciousness of Christ,
  the value of Heaven, and
  the importance and worth of God's promises.

The world is the hospital in which we are under the Spirit's treatment, in order that we may be restored to health, and prepared to enjoy our Father's eternal house and home!

We should, therefore, rather pray to be kept from evil than to be removed out of the world. We may be useful, very useful in it, and useful in a way in which we cannot be in Heaven. Here, we can . . .
  visit the sick for Jesus,
  clothe the naked for Jesus,
  feed the hungry for Jesus,
  relieve the widow and fatherless for Jesus,
  and teach the ignorant for Jesus and thus feed, clothe, visit, relieve and teach Jesus Himself in doing so; for He has said, "Inasmuch as you did it unto one of the least of these My brethren you did it unto Me!"

Let us not, therefore, be anxious . . .
  to leave the field of labor until our work is done;
  or to get out the battle until the victory is gained;
  or to leave school until our education is complete;
  or to be discharged from the hospital until we are perfectly cured!

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All my sins and slips!

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

I found that sin always wounded my conscience, and caused me much trouble of soul; nor could I again obtain peace, or enjoy comfort but as I looked afresh to the blood of Jesus, and felt its cleansing efficacy within.

I have generally found that all my sins and slips began in the prayer-closet; when I grew cold or lukewarm there Satan was allowed to attack me, and he generally in some degree, gained the ascendency over me.

Never could I, never can I, be glad that I have sinned. Yet the grace of God, taking advantage of my weakness and folly has wrought sweetly in my soul afterwards. And blessed, forever blessed, be the name of my Lord and Savior He has sanctified my sins to me, for my real benefit!

1. My sins have made me fly unto Him afresh, as into a strong tower, in which the righteous are safe at all times.

2. My sins have brought me to feel my own weakness, and to see the desperate wickedness of my heart in a way and manner which otherwise I could not.

3. My sins have revealed to me the fallacy and folly of trusting in my own heart at all.

4.My sins have made me more cautious, and kept me crying to Him for strength against temptation.

5. My sins have given me an opportunity sweetly and powerfully to prove the efficacy of the blood of Christ to cleanse from all pollution.

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The goal of Christian life

(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

The goal of Christian life, is not to avoid troubles, disappointments, sorrows, injuries but in all these experiences, to keep free from sin and stain.

This trouble cannot do you any real harm. You must come out of it still more cheerful and happy, true and strong as ever, more unselfish and sympathetic than ever before!

Am I giving you a hard task? I am giving you just the task that Christ, your Master, would give you, if He were talking to you.

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world!" John 16:33

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(The life and letters of John Angell James)

If you are parents, let your profession lead you to instruct your children in the fear of God, especially by the impressive admonition of a good example. Be very attentive to the spiritual education of your children let them neither hear nor see anything in you which would hinder true religion. Example is more powerful than precept. It is vain to teach them religion by your words unless you show it to them by your actions.

Teach them to obey you.
Be firm, but mild.
Govern them in love.
Subdue them by kindness.

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(James Smith, "The Voice of Mercy in the House of Affliction!" 1855)

Salvation is . . .
the greatest blessing that God can bestow;
deliverance from the greatest misery;
exaltation to the greatest happiness;
the greatest change in man's state and character which can possibly be effected;
the greatest display of the love, wisdom, grace, and power of God!

Salvation is the very blessing that you need. The blessing which you must receive or be eternally undone!

Salvation is a blessing for the PRESENT, for it is deliverance . . .
  from the guilt of sin which makes you miserable;
  from the power of sin which makes you unholy; and
  from the love of sin which proves you to be God's enemy.

Salvation is a blessing for the FUTURE: it secures to you safety and happiness in time and glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life when time shall be no more!

Salvation is a blessing which comprehends every other blessing.
If the man is saved then all good things are his.
If the man is lost then nothing good is his.
To be saved, is . . .
  for the soul to be restored to a right relationship to God;
  to be put in possession of unsearchable wealth;
  to be raised to the highest honor; and
  to be entitled to eternal glory!
No word is as sweet as salvation as no word is as dreadful as its opposite, damnation! Reader, there is no intermediate state between these two extremes.

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O think of eternal fire!

(James Smith, "The Sinner's Doom!" 1855)

"These shall go away into everlasting punishment!" Matthew 25:46

WHO shall go away into everlasting punishment?
Every unbeliever.
Every soul that leaves this world without a new birth.
Every one who does not sincerely love Christ.
All who do not experimentally know God.
All who not practically obey the teachings of our Lord Jesus.
Every prayerless person.
Every immoral person.
Every one who lives and dies an enemy to God.

"These shall go away into everlasting punishment!"
To be driven away from God forever.
To dwell with devils and damned souls.
To be shut up in the prison of Divine justice.
To suffer directly from the wrath of God.
To endure the lashings of an enlightened conscience.
To be scourged with the most bitter reflections.
To be tormented by Satan, who now deceives and misleads them.
To be filled with black despair.
To be plunged into a lake of fire and brimstone.
To be punished in every faculty of the soul, in every sense and in every member of the body.

But how long will this punishment continue?

It must be so, for SIN, which is the cause of punishment will continue. Punishment has never converted a soul to God yet and never will. The punished will go on sinning, and sin will require the continuance of punishment.

It must be eternal, for GOD who punishes is eternal. He is the eternal God.
He will live forever, and while He lives He will hate sin; and
while He hates sin He will punish the condemned sinner.

It must be eternal, for the WORM that inflicts the most exquisite part of the punishment is so. "Their worm never dies, and the fire never goes out!" Conscience will ever live and the fire will forever burn.

It must be eternal, for . . .
  the CHAINS that bind them are everlasting (Jude 6);
  the PRISON is blackness of darkness forever (Jude 13); and
  the PUNISHMENT is the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7).

It must be eternal, for the SENTENCE is. It cannot be repealed for it is just. It dooms every impenitent sinner to depart from God, from hope, from ease, from happiness, from Heaven and to go "into everlasting fire!"

Dear reader, think of these things! O think of eternal fire! O think of hopeless despair! And think that you may now escape these, for Jesus is able to save you! Look, look then to Jesus! Fly, fly this moment to His arms! Fall, fall at His feet, and seek and obtain everlasting life! But if you will not, I assure you that you shall surely perish and perish justly, too!

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The most healthy state of a Christian

(Charles Spurgeon)

"I am poor and needy come quickly to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer. O Lord, do not delay!" Psalm 70:5

The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness which is a very beneficial lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us blessings without constraining us to pray for them we would never know how poor we are. But a true prayer is . . .
  an inventory of our needs,
  a catalog of our necessities,
  a revelation of our hidden poverty.  

While prayer is an application to divine wealth it is also a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian, is to be . . .
  always empty in SELF and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies;
  always poor in SELF and rich in Jesus;
  as weak as water personally but mighty through God to do great exploits.
And hence prayer, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be in the very dust!

Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian. As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise; so for the great race of life, we acquire energy by the hallowed labor of prayer. Prayer plumes the wings of God's young eaglets that they may learn to soar above the clouds! Prayer sends God's warriors forth to combat with their sinews braced and their muscles firm. An earnest pleader comes out of his closet, even as the sun arises from the chambers of the east rejoicing like a strong man to run his race.

Prayer is that uplifted hand of Moses which routs the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua. Prayer . . .
  girds human weakness with divine strength,
  turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and
  gives the peace of God to troubled mortals.

We have no idea what prayer can do!

We thank you, great God, for the mercy-seat a choice proof of Your marvelous loving-kindness. Help us to use it aright throughout this day!

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The blessed man!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")

"Blessed is the man You chasten, O Lord the man You teach from Your law!" Psalm 94:12  
The chastenings of the Lord often appear severe but they are merciful. They . . .
  correct our follies,
  subdue our proud wills, and
  soften and humble our hard hearts before Him.

When God chastens He teaches. The lessons are found in His Word but we never learn many of them until we go through the furnace of affliction! We often learn more truth from one short, sharp affliction than we do from many books and sermons!

In affliction, God teaches us . . .
  our own emptiness and vanity,
  our dependence on Himself, and
  the insufficiency of all our earthly things!

In affliction, God . . .
endears the Lord Jesus and His great salvation to us;
shows us the value of the provision of grace;
makes our consciences tender and honest;
qualifies us for usefulness on earth; and
fits us for the enjoyment of Himself in Heaven.

We need chastening. If we do not receive it we become . . .
  carnal and worldly,
  light and trifling,
  unsavory and useless in both the world and the church!

It is a blessed thing to be chastened of the Lord, especially when the rod teaches us such important and invaluable lessons! Chastened Christians are generally the most useful and attractive Christians.

"Heed the rod and the One who appointed it!" Micah 6:9. Chastened Christian! Seek grace . . .
  to bear the rod,
  to bless the rod, and
  to kiss the hand that holds the rod!

"Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the chastening of the Almighty!" Job 5:17

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We are not ignorant of his schemes!

(Christopher Ash, "The Priority of Preaching" adapted)

"So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes!" 2 Corinthians 2:11

Three apprentice devils were being trained by Satan.

"What are you going to try today?" asked Satan.

The first apprentice replied, "I'm going to tell people that there is no God."

"Well," says Satan, "you can try. A few fools will believe you. But the universe shouts the existence of God. There is evidence all around, and you will not do very well. Indeed, even in the secular twenty-first century you may find yourself witnessing the slow death of atheism. Any other ideas?"

The second apprentice answered this: "I'm going to tell them that there is no judgment."

"That's a better idea," says Satan. "You will persuade more people of that, especially some of the clergy. But human beings have a gut sense of accountability that actions have consequences. They know what it is to feel guilty, even when their therapists tell them not to. So I think you'll find it an uphill struggle. Anyone else have an idea?"

A third apprentice piped up, "I'm going to tell them that there is no hurry."

"Brilliant!" says Satan. "That is just what you need to say. You will have great success. Let them listen to the Word of God, and then whisper in their ears: This is good stuff. One day you ought to do something about this. But tomorrow will do."

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Even our faults, our follies and our sins!

(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

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

We can put into the hands of God, all problems and troubles, even the things which have seemed hard and hurtful knowing that there is a Hand which will so shape results as to bring out of all the tangles a beautiful web. Even our faults, our follies and our sins we may put into the same Hand if we are truly penitent, and leave them there, knowing that from these, too, some blessing will come to us.

It is astonishing how good God is to us, and how He takes whatever we give Him, even the poorest fragments of our obediences, even our mistakes and our sins and brings something helpful and full of good for us out of them!

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The yoke of Christ

(James Smith, "The Easy Yoke" 1860)

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30

The "yoke" symbolizes subjection and obedience.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of the understanding to His teaching. We must receive the kingdom of God as little children. All that He says we must believe; and all that He commands we must do.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of the conscience to His authority. He must be sole Lord of conscience. As cleansed by His blood, enlightened by His truth, and sanctified by His Spirit the conscience must bow to Him, be zealous for Him, and maintain His honor.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of the will to His pleasure. We must prefer His will to our own, and make His pleasure ours.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of the heart to His love. His love must inflame, regulate, and elevate the heart. He must become the object of its highest, warmest love. Love to Him must rule our thoughts, words, and actions.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of our abilities to His service. For Him, the duties of life must be performed. To Him, every power must be dedicated. His glory must be the end in all things sought.

Unless, therefore, we submit . . .
  the understanding to His teaching,
  the conscience to His authority,
  the will to His pleasure,
  the heart to His love, and
  the abilities to His service
we do not take His yoke upon us.

The yoke of Christ may be represented by the subjection of . . .
  the child to its parents,
  the servant to his master, and
  the scholar to his tutor.
In each case, the authority within its proper sphere is absolute. Authority on the one side, and subjection on the other are the ideas suggested by these relations.

The yoke of Christ includes . . .
  allegiance to Him as our King,
  reliance on Him as our Savior,
  confidence in Him as our Guide,
  imitation of Him as our Example, and
  attachment to Him as our best Friend.

The yoke of Christ is EASY. Compare it with . . .
the yoke of Satan, which we wore in our natural state;
the yoke of Moses, as worn by the Jews of old;
the yoke of superstition, as worn by pagans and papists now.

It is easy, because connected with it,
  for every trial there is assistance;
  for every temptation there is support;
  for every difficulty there is help;
  for every sorrow there is solace;
  for every trouble there is tranquility;
  for every loss there is unspeakable gain; and
  for every service there is a rich and eternal reward!

"Take My yoke upon you . . . for My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

If you saw Christ standing beside you all the time

(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems")

Scripture says of Moses, that "he endured as seeing Him who is invisible!" Hebrews 11:27. That is, Moses always remembered that God was right beside him, his friend to help him and this made him strong. He did not actually see God but it was as if he saw Him. That is, he realized the divine presence in all of his life.

If you saw Christ standing beside you all the time it would not be hard for you to keep sweet, to keep control of temper and speech. Well, Christ IS beside you just as really as He was beside Mary when she sat at His feet in Bethany, or beside Peter and the other disciples as they walked together over the hills of Judea and Galilee. What you need, is to realize this fact. We know that Jesus is present with us all the time, at every moment, by day or by night. He is closer than any human friend can be to us. Indeed, we are to practice His presence that is, we are to live all the time, as if we actually saw Him!

You must remember that Christ is always besides you, not only to see you but to help you, as your truest and best Friend!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

His all-seeing eye!

(James Smith, "Nothing Too Hard for God!" 1864)

"There is nothing too hard for You!" Jeremiah 32:17

There is nothing too difficult for God to discover.

His eyes are in every place beholding the evil and the good.

Nothing can elude His notice, or escape His all-seeing eye!

All things are naked and open before Him with whom we have to do.

He approves, or disapproves of every motive, word, or action which passes before His omniscient eye.

He discovers the true state of every HEART though the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
Every heart lies naked and exposed before Him.
He fathoms its depths.
He turns over its intricate folds.
He analyzes its dismal contents.
He is fully acquainted . . .
  with every principle which influences it,
  with every thought which arises within it,
  with every word and work which proceed from it.

No one can hide his heart in secret from the Lord!

"Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting."
Psalm 139 23-24

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An unfailing friend!

(J.C. Ryle, "Able to Save")

"There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother!" Proverbs 18:24

Does any reader of this tract need a friend?

In such a world as this, how many hearts there are which ought to respond to that appeal! How many there are who feel "I stand alone." How many have found one idol broken after another, one staff failing after another, one fountain dried after another as they have traveled through the wilderness of this world.

We need much comfort and consolation in a world like this. It is no easy matter for a man to carry the cross and reach Heaven. There are many enemies to be encountered and overcome. We have often to stand alone. We have at the best times, few with us, and many against us. We need cordials and strong consolation to sustain and cheer us, and to preserve us from fainting on the way as we travel from Egypt into Canaan.

If there is one who needs a friend, let that one behold an unfailing friend at the right hand of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let that one repose his aching head and weary heart upon the bosom of that unfailing friend, Jesus Christ the Lord.

There is one living at God's right hand of matchless tenderness. There is one who . . .
  never dies.
  never fails,
  never disappoints,
  never forsakes,
  never changes His mind,
  never breaks off friendship.
That One, the Lord Jesus, I commend to all who need a friend.

No one in a world like this, a fallen world, a world which we find more and more barren, it may be, every year we live; no one ever need be friendless, while the Lord Jesus Christ lives.

Christian, you have a Friend who never slumbers and never sleeps a Friend who cares for you morning, noon, and night.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Who touched Me?

(J.R. Miller, "Miller's Year Book a Year's Daily Readings")

"Who touched Me? Jesus asked." Luke 8:45

The people were crowding against Jesus, and many people touched Him; but there was one touch different from the others. There was a heart's cry in it a pleading, a piteous supplication. It was a touch of faith, inspired by a deep sense of need. It was not an accidental touch, a mere touch of nearness; it was intentional.

This incident illustrates what is going on all the time, around Christ. We cannot move without pressing up against Him. Sometimes in our heedlessness, we jostle Him rudely. But when among all earth's millions, one person intentionally reaches out a hand to feel after Christ, to touch Him with a purpose, to seek for some blessing, to crave some help Jesus instantly knows the pressure of that touch, and turns to answer it. He knows when any heart wants Him no matter how obscure the person, how poor, how hidden away in the crowd.

Blessing came that day to none in that crowd, so far as we know except to this poor, sick woman, who touched Christ's clothes. It came to her, because she had a burden on her heart and sought Christ's help.

Just so, in every company there are some who are close to Jesus, and yet receive no blessing, because there is no faith in their touching. Then there are those who are no nearer but who reach out their hands in faith, and touch Christ's clothes and go away helped, comforted.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My ruling desire

(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

My ruling desire is to be wholly given up to the Lord and to His work, and to show forth His praises from day to day. But when I aim at this most I am baffled, opposed, and always hindered!
I see what is wrong but cannot avoid it.
I see what is right but cannot attain unto it.
I know what I wish but I cannot enjoy it.
I read what God commands but I cannot perform it.

In the midst of all, I bless God . . .
   for Jesus Christ,
   for free grace,
   for a full salvation,
   for abiding comfort,
   for a good hope,
   for sweet views of Jesus,
   for a glorious inheritance,
   for an assurance of victory, and
   for the promise of eternal triumph.

Nothing can . . .
separate me from Jesus,
turn the current of His love from me, or
change the purposes of His grace for me.

His love is astonishing!

His ways are marvelous!

I change He remains the same.
I sin He pardons.
I cry He hears and answers.
I ask for favors and He kindly bestows them.
I fear and He promises.
I wander and He says, "Return."
I lament my folly He whispers peace.
I feel poor and impoverished He says, "All things are yours!"
I imagine that I am alone He says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
I expect that He will abandon me He asks, "How can I give you up?"

I cry, "Unworthy, unworthy!" He says, "You are My dear son, My pleasant child."

I fear I shall be overcome. He says, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper."

I fear I shall lie down in darkness. He says, "The Lord shall be a light unto you."

I say, "I can do nothing!" He says, "I will work all your works in you."

I say, "I am barren!" He says, "From Me is your fruit found."

I cry, "I am thirsty!" He says, "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys, to give drink to My people, My chosen ones."

I complain, "I am weary!" He says, "Come unto Me, I will give you rest."

I feel dry and parched. He says, "I will be as the dew unto Israel."

I say, "I need food!" He says, "My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."

I fear I shall die. He says, "He who eats Me, even he shall live by Me."

I say at times, "All these things are against me!" He says "All things shall work together for your good!"

I say, "I shall surely be overcome!" He says, "Nothing shall by any means hurt you."

I say, "I am often left alone!" He says, "Lo, I am with you always."

I say, "I am all deformity!" He says, "You are all beautiful, My love, there is no spot in you!"

I say, "I shall see Him no more!" He says, "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice."

I say, "Surely the Lord cannot love such a wretch!" He says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love."

I say, He cannot have chosen one so vile and base. He says, "I have chosen you, and will never cast you away!"

I say, "I am desolate and forsaken!" He says, "Your Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is His name, and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel."

I say, "I shall be left to myself at last!" He says, "I am a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

I say, "Set me as a seal upon Your arm, as a seal upon Your heart!" He says, "I will make you like a signet ring on My finger for I have chosen you."

I cry, "Remember me, O Lord my God, for good!" He says, "You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."

I cry, "Do not be terribly angry with me, O Lord!" He says, "I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you."

I say, "I beseech you, show me Your glory!" He says, "Behold, I come quickly!"

I cry, "Remember me with the favor which You bear unto Your people!" He says, "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you and you shall be comforted."

I cry, "Tell me where You graze Your flock." And He says, "Follow the footsteps of My flock."

I cry, "O that it was with me as in days that are past!" He says, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with Me."

I cry, "My soul is among lions!" He says, "Come down with Me from where the lions have their dens and leopards live among the hills."

I say, "O that I was sure that Jesus loved me!" He says, "You have ravished my heart, My sister, My spouse!''

I say, "I moaned like a mourning dove!" He says, "Your lips, O My spouse, drop as the honeycomb, honey and milk are under your tongue."

I say, "I am exposed, and lie open to the attacks of enemies on every side!" He says, "You are My private garden, My treasure, My bride a secluded spring, a hidden fountain."

I say, "Do not look upon me, because I am black!" He says, "You are all beautiful, O My love!"

I say, "How miserable I am! Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger." He says, "At our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for you, O My beloved."

I say, "I fear that my numerous sins and powerful corruptions will cool the love of Jesus for me!" He says, "Many waters cannot quench My love, neither can the floods drown it."

I sigh, "I am feeble and sorely broken!" He says, "I will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax."

I say, at times, "He afflicts, and counts me for His enemy!" He says, "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten! I deal with you as My son."

I say, "I am totally unfit to be the bride of Jesus!" He says, "Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, My love, how full of delights!"
    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Lord Will Provide

(J.R. Miller)

The Lord Will Provide

"You have not passed this way before!" Joshua 3:4

"Abraham named the place Jehovah-Jireh (which means 'the LORD will provide')" Genesis 22:14

As you begin meditating on this verse, write deep in your heart this word with the strongest confidence: Jehovah-Jireh. This name tells you . . .
  that you can trust God always;
  that no promise of His ever fails;
  that He does all things well;
  that out of all seeming loss and destruction of human hopes, He brings blessing.

You have not passed this way before. There will be both sorrows and joys, both failures and successes. You cannot predict your future experiences. You cannot see the next step before your feet. Yet Jehovah-Jireh calls you to trust Him calmly. He bids you put away all anxieties and foreboding, because the Lord will provide!