Grace Gems for FEBRUARY, 2013

Grace Gems for FEBRUARY, 2013

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The rough stalk of suffering

(J.R. Miller)

"These are those who have come out of the great tribulation!" Revelation 7:14

Much of the most beautiful Christian living in this world, comes out of sorrow. As "fair flowers bloom upon rough stalks"--so many of the fairest flowers of human life, grow upon the rough stalk of suffering.

We take our place with the beloved disciple John on the other side, and we see that those who in Heaven wear the whitest robes, and sing the loudest songs of victory--are those who have come out of "great tribulation". Heaven's highest places are filling, not from earth's homes of glad festivity and tearless joy--but from . . .
  its chambers of pain,
  its valleys of struggle where the battle is hard, and
  its scenes of sorrow, where pale cheeks are wet with tears, and where hearts are broken.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all!" 2 Corinthians 4:17

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He will sustain you!

(J.R. Miller)

"Cast your burden upon the LORD--and He will sustain you." Psalm 55:22

The promise is not that the Lord will remove the load we cast upon Him, nor that He will carry it for us--but that He will sustain us so that we may carry it.
He does not free us from the duty--but He strengthens us for it.
He does not deliver us from the conflict--but He enables us to overcome.
He does not withhold or withdraw the trial from us--but He helps us in trial to be submissive and victorious, and makes it a blessing to us.
He does not mitigate the hardness or severity of our circumstances, taking away the difficult elements, removing the thorns, making life easy for us--but He puts Divine grace into our hearts, so that we can live sweetly in all the hard, adverse circumstances.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

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

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How shall we endure the things which hurt and wound us?

(J.R. Miller)

"When they hurled their insults at Him--He did not retaliate; when He suffered--He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly." 1 Peter 2:23

None of us can live long in the thick of life--and not sometimes be touched rudely, perhaps even cruelly, by others. How shall we endure the things which hurt and wound us? We know what Jesus would do, what He actually did. "When they hurled their insults at Him--He did not retaliate; when He suffered--He made no threats." They drove the nails into His gentle hands, and as the iron went crashing through His tender flesh He prayed, "Father, forgive them!" They hung Him on the cross--but in answer to that cruelty, instead of a withering curse upon the world, He wrought salvation there for men!

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

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John Newton's tombstone

In his old age, when he could no longer see to read, John Newton, the author of "Amazing Grace" heard someone recite this verse, "By the grace of God--I am what I am." 1 Corinthians 15:10. He remained silent a short time, and then said:

I am not what I ought to be. Ah! how imperfect and deficient.
I am not what I might be, considering my privileges and opportunities.
I am not what I wish to be. God, who knows my heart--knows I wish to be like Him.
I am not what I hope to be. Before long, I will drop this clay tabernacle, to be like Him and see Him as He is!
Yet, I am not what I once was--a child of sin, and slave of the devil!
Though not all these--not what I ought to be, not what I might be, not what I wish or hope to be, and not what I once was--I think I can truly say with the apostle, "By the grace of God--I am what I am!"

At the age of 82, Newton said, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner--and that Christ is a great Savior!"

John Newton's tombstone reads: "John Newton, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy!"

"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

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The little book told the whole story of his life!

(J.R. Miller)

A quaint old man used to carry a little book which he took very often from his pocket, and which he called his "biography." It had only three pages, and there was not a word written on any of them; yet he said the little book told the whole story of his life!

The first page was black--that was his sin, which was his condition by nature. He would shudder whenever he looked at it.

The second page was red--that was the blood of Christ, and his face glowed when he gazed upon it.

The third page was white--that was himself washed in Christ's blood, made whiter than snow.

His book told the whole story of every redeemed life. Between the black of our sins, and the white of redemption--must always come the red of Christ's blood.

"The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!" 1 John 1:7

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We could not make the angels happy

(J.R. Miller)

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water--and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water!" Jeremiah 2:13

The human soul cannot be satisfied with any of earth's good things. This is not the fault of the things of earth--they are good and beautiful, in their own way and in their own place. But the soul is spiritual and immortal. Money and fame and power--can never be food for a soul made in the Divine image; nothing less than God Himself can answer its cravings.

We could not make the angels happy by giving them gold and diamonds, and building them fine marble palaces to live in, and putting crowns and fine clothes on them. No more can we satisfy our own souls with such things. Men try to do so--but their thirst is only momentarily quenched--and soon they must drink again. Gratification only intensifies desire.

"Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again--but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life!" John 4:13-14

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Do it!

(J.R. Miller)

"Whatever He says to you--do it!" John 2:5

How can we know what Jesus says? We cannot hear His voice as the servants at the wedding heard it.

He speaks now to us in His Word, and the reverent heart may always hear what He says as the sacred pages are prayerfully pondered.

He speaks in the conscience that is kept tender by loyal obeying.

He speaks in the providence which brings the present duty to our hand.

There never is any real uncertainty as to what He says, if we are truly intent on knowing His will.

"Whatever He says to you--do it!!" It is the doing which is important. We should never ask questions nor make suggestions, when Jesus has spoken--the one thing for us is obedience. We should never ask what the consequences may be, or what it may cost us--we are simply to obey. Jesus knows why He wants us to do the thing--and that should be reason enough for us.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." John 14:15

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Some day I shall be like that!

(J.R. Miller)

"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son!" Romans 8:29

No sooner do we begin to behold the beauteous face which looks out at us from the gospel chapters, than a great hope springs up in our hearts--we can become like Jesus! Indeed, if we are God's children, we shall become like Him. We are predestined to be conformed to His image!

It matters not how faintly the Divine beauty glimmers now in our soiled and imperfect lives--some day we shall be like Him! As we struggle here with imperfections and infirmities, with scarcely a trace of Christlikeness yet apparent in our life, we still may say, when we catch glimpses of the glorious loveliness of Christ, "Some day I shall be like that!"

"We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2

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Much of our best work

(J.R. Miller)

We cannot measure spiritual results, as we can those that are physical.

The artist sees the picture growing upon his canvas as he works day by day.
The builder sees the wall rising as he lays stone upon stone.

But the spiritual builder is working with invisible blocks, and rearing a fabric whose walls he cannot see.

The spiritual artist is painting away in the unseen. His eyes cannot behold the impressions, or the touches of beauty which he makes.

Sometimes the results of our work may be seen . . .
  in the conversation of the ungodly,
  in the comforting of sorrow,
  in the uplifting and ennobling of the downcast and degraded.
Yet much of our best work must be done in simple faith. And perhaps in Heaven it will be seen that the best results of our lives, have been from their unconscious influences; and our most fruitful efforts, were those which we considered done in vain.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain!" 1 Corinthians 15:58

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Is Jesus like anybody I know?

(J.R. Miller)

A little child was thinking about the unseen Christ to whom she prayed, and came to her mother with the question, "Is Jesus like anybody I know?"

The question was not an unreasonable one--it was one to which the child should have received the answer of "Yes." Every true disciple of Christ ought to be an answer--in some sense, at least--to the child's inquiry. Every little one ought to see Christ's beauty mirrored in its Christian mother's face. Every Sunday-school teacher's character, should reflect some tracings of the Eternal Love on which the scholars may gaze. Whoever looks upon the life of any Christian, should see in it at once the reflection of the beauty of Christ.

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory" 2 Corinthians 3:18

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All of life's aiming and striving

(J.R. Miller)

"He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6

Character grows as the baby matures into manhood. Every day something is written on our character, some mark made.
The mother writes something;
the teacher writes something;
every day's experiences write some words;
every touch or influence of other lives, leaves some mark;
temptation and struggle, do their part in filling the page;
books, education, sorrow, joy, companions, friends--
all of life touches and paints some line of beauty--or scratches some mark of marring on our character.

Our final character, is the result of all these influences which work and co-work upon our life. In the end, we shall be altogether like Jesus; hence all of life's aiming and striving should be towards His blessed beauty.

"For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son!" Romans 8:29

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He always lives to make intercession for them!

(J.R. Miller)

"Therefore He is able also to save forever, those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them!" Hebrews 7:25

If we would pray acceptably, it must be in dependence on Jesus Christ, our High Priest in Heaven, who shall take the petitions from our stained and unholy lips, cleanse them of their sin and fault and defilement--and then add to them the pure incense of His own holy offering and intercession, and present them to the Father!

That is what praying in the name of Christ means. Praying thus, our prayers are sweet fragrances to God. The thoughts and words leave our hearts and lips spotted and unholy, without any beauty or sweetness--but when they come up before God with Jesus' intercession, they have become precious perfumes!

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Until His image burns itself upon the soul

(J.R. Miller)

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image!" 2 Corinthians 3:18

It is not merely a brief glance now and then, which is here implied; not the turning of the eye toward Him for a few hurried moments in the early morning or in the late evening--but a constant, loving, and reverent beholding of Him through days and years, until His image burns itself upon the soul.

If we thus train the eyes of our heart to look at Christ, we shall be transformed into His image. And even though but little seems to come from our yearnings and struggles after Christ-likeness, God honors the yearning and striving, and while we sit in the shadows of weariness, disheartened with our failures--He carries on the work within us, and with His own hands produces the Divine beauty in our souls!

"We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2

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And why should we?

(J.R. Miller)

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

God's storehouses of grace are never opened to us--until we really need their blessing. God places them, so to speak, along our life-path--the right supply, at the right point. By the plan of God for His children . . .
  in every desert--there are oases;
  at the foot of each sharp, steep hill--there are staffs for climbing;
  in every dark gorge--there are lighted lamps;
  at every river of difficulty--there is a bridge.

But we find none of these--until we come to the place where we need them. And why should we?
Will it not be soon enough to see the bridge--when we stand by the river?
Will it not be soon enough, when it grows dark--for the lamps to shine out?
Will it not be soon enough, when the cupboard is empty--for God to send bread?

"And 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

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O the riches of sovereign grace! O the wonders of redeeming love!

(James Smith
, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, new things have come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

He who is saved from the guilt of sin--is also saved from the POWER of sin. Man by nature is "under sin." "The whole world lies in wickedness." Sin like a tyrant, has usurped authority--and man yields to its imperious demands. Sin reigns in his heart, and over every faculty he possesses. He knows nothing of liberty--but is the slave of corruption. He lives "in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and is by nature a child of wrath even as others!" (Ephesians 2:3) Man by nature is . . .
  influenced by corrupt motives,
  ruled by evil principles,
  led captive by carnal passions,
  and lives under the power of sin!
The sinner feels his bondage--as well as his guilt; and struggles for liberty--as well as seeks for pardon.

Salvation is a deliverance from the power of sin, and removes us from under its authority; so that it may be said of every saved person, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:14

The Holy Spirit . . .
  imparts a principle of spiritual life,
  applies the Word of God with power,
  and takes up His residence in the soul.

When the gospel of grace is unfolded to the understanding, and applied to the heart by the Spirit--the entire man is changed!
His hard heart is softened,
his stubborn will yields,
his carnal affections rise above earthly things,
his conscience now agrees with God, and
he is "changed into the image of Jesus, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18

Sin will still struggle--but it cannot reign.
Sin may for a time prevail--but it will be subdued.
The conflict may be severe, and it will last through life--but sin shall not regain the throne, or reduce the Christian to a state of slavery again. The gracious principles implanted within him are immortal, they are holy, they must overcome at length!

Through the Spirit, the believer mortifies the sinful deeds of the body, that he may live. (Romans 8:13) Being Christ's, he crucifies the flesh with its affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:24) And while he walks in, or under the influence of the Spirit--he does not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16) Sin has no authority over him, for . . .
  he has renounced it,
  he daily mourns over it,
  he confesses it before God,
  he strives against it, and
  he longs for Heaven, because there he shall be entirely free from sin!

He who is saved from the guilt and power of sin--is also delivered from the LOVE of sin. Sin is no longer his element, his business, his pleasure. He did love sin once--as does everyone in a state of nature. The unbeliever may not love every species of sin--but
  some favorite sin,
  his darling sin,
  his idol, which he worships, which he wishes to have spared.

But salvation delivers from the love of every sin, and sets the heart on striving for universal holiness. True, it is possible for a regenerate person for a time, to find his affections running out after a forbidden object, or what is grossly evil; but it will soon be detected, confessed before God, and mourned over in secret. The renewed heart cannot habitually love sin--but must hate it. Sin is hated . . .
  because God hates it,
  because it is opposed to our best interests,
  because it crucified the Son of God,
  because it grieves the Holy Spirit, and
  because it is contrary to the new nature of the Christian.

As soon may the bird love to be confined under water, or the fish prefer the the barren wilderness to its native element--as for a true believer habitually to love sin. No, he hates it--he hates it naturally, constantly, and with an unconquerable hatred! His views are changed--and he thinks of sin in some degree as God thinks of it! His desires are changed--and he desires to cleanse himself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 7:1) His hopes are changed, so that though he once hoped for worldly wealth, honor and pleasure--he now hopes to be forever delivered from sin, and be exactly like, and eternally with his precious Savior!
He fears sin--and nothing so much as sin!
He finds pleasure in holiness--and no such pleasure in anything else!
He is pained at sin--and nothing causes him so much grief and sorrow!

This is indeed salvation, to be delivered . . .
  from guilt of sin, with its attendant horrors and punishments;
  from the power of sin, with its consequent degradation; and
  from the love of sin, which is the principal feature in the image of Satan!

He who is thus saved--is delivered also from all the penal consequences of sin.
To him there is no curse--for Christ was made a curse for him.
To him there is no wrath--for God is at peace with him, and loves him with an everlasting love.
To him there is no future punishment--for he is justified from every charge, and entitled to everlasting life!

He deserved Hell for his sins--but he is saved from it, by his Redeemer's sacrifice and death!

O the riches of sovereign grace! O the wonders of redeeming love!

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Who can fairly represent the horrors of that horrible place?

(James Smith
, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")

"Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come!" 1 Thessalonians 1:10

Salvation includes deliverance from Hell. Of all dreadful places--Hell is the most dreadful. No one figure can give us an adequate idea of it. It is the prison, where God's enemies are confined. It is a lake of fire and brimstone, where the traitors against the Savior's throne and government are punished. There, all is dark, dreary, agonizing, and horrible! Despair reigns, desperation works, and horror preys upon its victims. The worm of a guilty conscience never dies. The fire of  God's just wrath is never quenched. Prepared for the devil and his angels--Hell is now destined to be the eternal habitation of every impenitent sinner. In Hell, the sufferer is forever shut out from the glorious presence of God--and is shut in with devils and damned souls.

Hell is a prison where there is . . .
no order--but horror,
no voice--but of blasphemers cursing God, themselves, and all around them,
no sounds--but the howling of the tortured and the torturers,
no society--but devils and the damned--who being tormented themselves, forever torment others!

There sinners experience . . .
  punishment--without pity;
  misery--without mercy;
  sorrow--without support;
  crying--without comfort;
  mischief--without measure;
  torment--without ease;
  and despair--without hope!

The wrath of God will seize upon body and soul like fire! In that flame, the sufferer is . . .
  forever burning--but is never consumed;
  forever dying--but never dead;
  forever writhing in the pangs of the second death--and never freed from those pangs; nor does he ever know an end of his pains.

Who can fairly represent the horrors of that horrible place, where Divine wrath which has been accumulating for ages--bursts forth without control or cessation! Such is the desert of sin, and such the doom of every unconverted sinner.

But salvation is a deliverance from Hell--complete and eternal deliverance! Oh what a mercy is this! One would think that everyone who heard of it would rejoice, embrace the glad tidings, and escape from the wrath to come!

But this is not the case! There is a Deliverer--but He is despised. There is free deliverance--but it is slighted. Men choose eternal death, rather than eternal life!

What a mercy to be delivered from Hell!

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This lesson makes life easy and simple!

(J.R. Miller)

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

We have nothing to do with life in the aggregate--that great bulk of duties, responsibilities, struggles, and trials which belong to a course of years. We really have nothing to do even with the nearest of the days before us--tomorrow. Our sole business is with the one little day which is now passing. Its burdens will not crush us--we can easily carry them until the sun goes down. We can always get along for one short day--it is the projection of life into the long future, which dismays and appalls us.

Each day is, in a certain sense, a complete life by itself. It has
  its own duties,
  its own trials,
  its own burdens,
  and its own needs.
The very best we can do for the perfecting of our life as a whole, is to live the one day well.

We should put all our thought and energy and skill into the duty of each day, wasting no strength, either in grieving over yesterday's failures--or in anxiety about tomorrow's responsibilities.

This lesson makes life easy and simple!

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

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The Christian's safety!

(James Smith
, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")

Keep me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge!" Psalm 16:1

The lost sinner is in danger--in the greatest possible danger! He is always in danger, for . . .
  the wrath of God abides on him,
  the curse of God is leveled at him, and
  the justice of God makes a fearful demand upon him.
He is like an unprotected traveler in a forest, where robbers and wild beasts unite to terrify and destroy. He is . . .
  exposed to every storm,
  liable to every calamity, and
  may be cut down at any moment!
The law condemns him,
Satan seeks by all means to destroy him,
and his situation is truly dreadful!

But the believer is safe in Jesus:
  his sins are pardoned,
  his person is justified,
  he is accepted in Jesus, and
  to him there is no condemnation.
To him, Jesus is a strong tower, into which he runs and is safe.
To him, God is a shield, which defends him from every hostile weapon. God . . .
  surrounds him as a wall of fire,
  bears him up on everlasting arms, and
  guides him by His strength to His holy habitation.

"For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock!" Psalm 27:5

Every perfection of God is on his side,
every purpose of God secures his salvation,
every promise of God is made for his comfort and safety.
He is in the hands of Christ,
his name is engraved on the breast-plate of the Great High Priest,
and his cause lies near to the heart of the Omnipotent One.
Nothing that concerns him is left to chance,
his times are in the Lord's hands, and
God works all things together for his good.
He will have everything that is . . .
  really good,
  truly great, and
  eternally glorious!
God is his Father--and He will defend His child.
Jesus is his Bridegroom--and He will protect His Bride.

If the power of God can preserve him--then he is safe; for he is kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

If the love of God can secure him--then he is safe; for God loves him with an everlasting love!

Will a kind, fond, and tender mother take care of her child? Then will God take care of the believer, for He asks, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb?" He admits, "Surely they may forget--yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands!" Isaiah 49:15-16

The believer is safe from all real evils. He is under . . .
  the special care and charge of Christ,
  the sunshine of his Father's love,
  the watchful eye of the Great Shepherd,
  the guidance and guardianship of the Holy Spirit.

What a precious, unutterably precious truth is this! May we . . .
  press it to our hearts,
  enjoy it in our daily walk, and
  relish it as we would our choicest treasure!

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer! My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!" Psalm 18:2

"For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling. He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock!" Psalm 27:5

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This new spiritual life

(James Smith
, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")

By nature we are all dead in trespasses and sins. There is . . .
  no breath of prayer,
  no sight of God,
  no listening to the voice of mercy,
  no power of faith;
but we are alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in us. In this state we live--until God who is rich in mercy with the great love with which He loved us, quickens us together with Christ, and saves us by His grace. The Holy Spirit imparts a new, a divine life. In consequence of this, we . . .
  discover our lost state,
  feel our dangerous position,
  fear the wrath of God,
  desire true holiness, and
  flee to Jesus for full salvation.

This life coming from God--always leads us to God.
Being holy--it produces earnest longings for holiness.
Being spiritual--it can only be satisfied with spiritual blessings.

Jesus becomes the food, the repose, the delight of the soul. To Jesus the spiritual life always tends; on Him it feeds; and of Him alone it boasts.

This new spiritual life is imparted in regeneration, and reveals itself in conversion to God. Its manifestations are . . .
  repentance for sin,
  faith in Jesus,
  love to God, and
  earnest longings for holiness of heart and life.

It is this spiritual life which distinguishes the real believer from the mere professor of religion. It makes him a new man, and leads him to prove the truth of the Apostles words, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away; behold all things are become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

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The moment after death!

(James Smith
, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")

"In Hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him: Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire!" Luke 16:23-24

I see the sinner who has neglected the Savior, despised the gospel, and refused to repent, closing his life in death:
   his conscience accuses him,
   divine justice frowns upon him,
   hope forsakes him,
   despair seizes upon him,
   a cold chill of horror passes over his soul,
   consternation and dread prey upon his vitals!

His soul then leaves the body:
   it is apprehended by the angelic ministers of justice;
   it is hurried to the horrid pit;
   it sees in the distance, the rolling waves of blue flame;
   it hears the dreadful screams of tortured millions;
   it shudders as it sinks into the gloom;
   an indescribable trembling shakes every power, as it feels the torment!

See . . .
  the curling flames surround it,
  the boiling waves receive it,
  the ghastly demons fall to work tormenting it,
  while the dreadful words "FOREVER!" rattle through all the chambers of the heart!

It looks back upon time, how different does the past appear! It looks forward, and O unutterable misery--there is spread out a vast eternity of varied, endless sufferings!

How appalling does GOD appear now!
His wrath--how fearful;
His holiness--how dreadful;
His unchangeableness--what a source of agonizing woe!
The thought of His mercy only aggravates present misery; and a view of His slighted grace, adds a thousand pangs to the punishment inflicted by a roused and honest conscience. All is now . . .
  dreadful gloom,
  tormenting foreboding,
  and black despair!

The terrified spirit looks . . .
   every way for sympathy--but finds none;
   for a way of escape--but there is none;
   for something to mitigate its dreadful sufferings--but in vain!
Shivering, shuddering, terrified, and despairing--it now exclaims in words it once disregarded:
"Oh! if this awesome God would let me die,
And not torment me to eternity!
Oh! would He free me from this dreadful woe,
But no! I'm lost, I'm damned--forever so!

Cursed be the day I treated with neglect
The gospel call, and free grace reject;
Oh! could I now one invitation hear,
To cool my burning heart and calm this fear!

But no, my doom is fixed, tis all in vain,
My portion now is everlasting pain!
Hopeless I sink into the dark abyss,
Banished forever from eternal bliss!

In boiling waves of vengeance must I lie?
Oh! could I but curse this dreadful God and die!
Infinite years in torment must I spend,
And never, never, never at an end!

And must I live in torturing despair,
As many years, as atoms in the air?
When these are spent as many thousands more,
As grains of sand that crowd the ebbing shore?

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

This would afford some ease--but oh! I shiver,
To think upon the dreadful sound, FOREVER!
In the burning gulf where I blaspheming lie,
TIME is no more--but vast ETERNITY!"

Reader, what if this should be your doom? If you die unconverted--it certainly will be. It may be before twenty-four hours have passed away! How dreadful is the bare supposition--but infinitely more dreadful would the reality be!

What must have been the feeling of that rich man referred to by our Lord, when "in Hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment!" What would your feelings be? "Unless you repent you must likewise perish!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Every word is practical

"I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your Word." Psalm 119:101

(J.R. Miller)

We must not merely read the Bible--but strive that we may obey it. If the Bible is not the guide of our life--it is nothing to us. Its truths are to be applied. If we read the Beatitudes, we are to compare ourselves with their Divine requirements--and seek to be conformed to them. If we come upon a Scripture which rebukes any sinful habit or attitude of ours--we are immediately to make the needed amendment. We are to accept its promises, believe them, and act upon them. We are to allow its comforts to enter our hearts, and support us in sorrow.

There is nothing written in the Bible, merely for ornament or beauty. Every word is practical. There is no truth in it which has not some bearing upon actual living. When we come to it eager to know how to live, and ready to obey its precepts--we shall find it opening its inmost meaning to us.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." John 14:15

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

If God is your enemy!

(James Smith
, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")

Unconverted reader, did you ever consider that solemn text, "He who being often reproved and hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy!" Proverbs 29:1. You have been often reproved, yet you delay; you have refused . . .
  to bow to God's authority,
  to yield to His command,
  to embrace His mercy,
  to flee to the refuge He has provided,
  to seek and obtain the pardon which He promises.
Instead, you have hardened your neck. What if He should destroy you! What if He should destroy you suddenly! He can, for He is almighty! He may, for He has threatened! If He should, what a dreadful condition would you be in forever! Shut up in hopeless despair, and destroyed without remedy!

While you delay, you are in the greatest danger!
A person slumbering in a burning house,
a man sleeping on the edge of a precipice,
a blind man walking round the crater of a volcano
--is safe, in comparison with you!
Around you are kindling the quenchless flames of Hell,
you sleep on the brink of the bottomless pit,
you are in danger of plunging into that lake of glowing brimstone, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth!

"But those enemies of Mine who did not want Me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of Me!" Luke 19:27

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God!" Hebrews 10:26-27 

Consider, consider seriously, that while you delay, God is your enemy--and He is angry with you every day! Every sin provokes God to anger--but no sin is so provoking as unbelief, because it calls God s liar. To have an absolute monarch for your enemy is bad enough--but to have God for your enemy is infinitely worse! "God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If He does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready. He also prepares for Himself instruments of death; He makes His arrows into fiery shafts!" Psalm 7:11-13.

He waits to watch the conduct of delaying sinners, He gives them space for repentance, He is long-suffering toward them--but they will not turn.
He will sharpen His sword,
His bow is ready bent in His hand,
He has taken out His arrow from His quiver, and
the impenitent sinner is the mark at which He aims!
Will not His arrows pierce the heart?
Will they not inflict dreadful pains, and produce incurable wounds?
Will they not rankle and fester to all eternity.
If God wounds--then who can heal?

Think, dear reader, if you were shackled and placed before an assembled crowd, to be shot at with poisoned arrows, for injuring and insulting the king, and refusing his pardon--would not your case be dreadful?

But this would be nothing, compared with your present condition! You have insulted the God of mercy numberless times, in ten thousand ways; you have injured His creatures, you have joined yourself to His inveterate and determined foes! And He has offered you a pardon, not once or twice--but has waited years to see if you would accept it--but you have obstinately refused! And now justice, holy justice, demands that you be punished according to your deserts. Before assembled worlds, your folly will be published, and your sins will be proclaimed! And while God lives to punish, and justice remains unchanged--your sad, your just, your indescribable sufferings will continue!

To have God for ones enemy, is of all terrible things, the most terrible! Just look for one moment at His perfections, and see them all opposed to you.

If God is your enemy--then He is an Omnipotent enemy--and can you effectually oppose almighty power? He could crush you to atoms--but He will only punish you as justice demands. There is no cruelty in His nature--but there is dreadful inflexible justice.

If God is your enemy--then He is an Omniscient enemy! He . . .
  sees your heart,
  reads your thoughts,
  knows your motives,
  understands your designs, and
  penetrates the deepest recesses of your soul.

Can you deceive him? Never! There is not a thought in your heart--but He knows it altogether! Your whole history is before Him--the secret, as well as the public. His eye will pursue you, and rest upon you throughout eternity! Should you sink to the deepest depths of Hell--His eye will rest upon you, and pierce your inmost soul. There is something very fearful in the thought of God's eye resting upon the lost soul forever, flashing conviction into the heart like the flashes of the fearful lightning.

If God is your enemy--then He is an Omnipresent enemy. As every sin was committed in His presence--so every pain must be endured in His presence. The sense of His presence in Hell, will be very different to our sense of His presence on earth. It will be fearful! It will be very dreadful! He is ever present--how then can you flee from Him? Where can you go? Where can you hide? What will conceal you from an ever present God!

O hasten to His throne of grace,
flee into the open arms of His mercy,
submit at once at His footstool--and
His omnipresence shall be your joy, your safeguard, and your refuge!

If God is your enemy--then He will be strictly Righteous. He will take no bribe. He will violate no principle of His government. He will never forget or rescind one threatening recorded in His word. Your just wages shall be paid--no more, no less. He now mingles mercy with His judgments--but there will be no mercy then. He is now emphatically "The merciful God," but He will not be so then.
Mercy will then give place to justice,
grace will then give place to equity,
and love will then give place to wrath--
in the experience of the lost soul.

If God is your enemy--then you will have an Eternal enemy. He can never die. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God. If only man were your enemy--he might die; and his death may work a deliverance for you. But if God is your enemy, there is no hope! He ever lives, and while He lives--He must hate sin. And while He hates sin--He must punish the sinner! O fearful case! The eternal God is your enemy! He will be your enemy forever!

Now, reader, dwell for one moment upon the solemn thought:
God is my enemy!
I have an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Righteous, Eternal enemy!
One from whom I cannot escape.
One whom it will be Hell to face.
One whom my conscience will forever justify, while suffering the most dreadful torments. 
Shall I rush upon the sword of His justice--or run into the arms of His mercy?

Think, delaying sinner. Pause, and say to yourself,
"I am under the curse and wrath of God.
If I die in this state I shall die . . .
  without mercy,
  without pity, and
  without hope.
My sins are all recorded in God's book,
   I am unpardoned and unblessed,
   Satan is my father and my god,
   and Hell is my everlasting home!
All creation will despise me.
All in Heaven will frown upon me.
All in Hell will eternally upbraid me.
No one will respect or sympathize with me.
I shall forever lie under the burning wrath of God--a curse and eternal execration!"

Unconverted reader!
is coming!
Death is coming!
Judgment is coming!
Eternity is just at hand!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our lives should be New Testament pages that all can read!

(J.R. Miller)

"Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

"In everything set them an example by doing what is good." Titus 2:7

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." 1 Peter 3:1-2

Unbelievers do not read the Bible, nor come to church to hear the gospel message. All that they learn about Christ and the Christian life--they must learn from those who bear Christ's name and represent Him--as they view our character.

If all church members lived truly consecrated lives--holy, humble, separate from the world, loyal to Christ in business, in pleasure, and in all things--it would be impossible to estimate what the influence of the Church would be, by godly example alone. It is awful to think that professing Christians, by the inconsistencies of their personal lives, lead souls away from the Savior. We are all responsible for our example to others. Our lives should be New Testament pages that all can read!
"For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." John 13:15

"Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This book!

(James Smith
, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")

The fountain of divine truth is the Lord Jesus Christ,
the repository of divine truth is the Holy Scriptures,
the proper abode of divine truth is the sinner's heart,
and the sacred revealer of truth is the Holy Spirit.

The Bible contains all necessary truth--and nothing but truth. It was written expressly for sinners, it is freely given to them by God, that they may learn the things which make for their everlasting peace and salvation. It was never designed to gratify the critic's pride, or please the carnal imagination; but it was intended . . .
  to inform the mind,
  to sanctify the heart,
  and to direct the feet.
When we take it up, we should remember that it is a precious gift of God to poor sinners, designed to benefit them, and glorify His holy name.

This book sets before us our true state before God, as sinners:
  Hell-deserving sinners.

It shows us that . . .
we have come short of the glory of God;
our hearts are depraved beyond description, and vile beyond expression;
the nature of Satan is not actually worse than ours;
instead of having anything to boast of, or pride ourselves in--all that we have and are, is calculated to fill us with shame, confusion, and self-abhorrence.

This book shows us plainly that salvation must be of grace--or not at all. It informs us that by faith in Jesus, we can rise from our dreadful state, and escape our fearful doom. It sets before us . . .
  the provision of divine mercy,
  the contrivance of infinite wisdom,
  and the promises of eternal love.

It exhibits a perfect Savior, suited to our miseries and woes.

It presents to us a salvation . . .
   all of grace,
   to be enjoyed by faith, and
   manifested by good works.
A salvation that . . .
reaches to our present state,
delivers us from all that we have reason to fear,
introduces us to all that we can consistently desire, and
gives us a right to all that God has promised, and that Jesus has procured.

In a word, this blessed Bible tells the poor sinner . . .
  what he is by nature,
  what he must be by grace, and
  then what he will be in glory.

It shows him . . .
nature's desert,
mercy's way of escape, and
how God is glorified in his present salvation and future glory.

This book exhibits God's . . .
gracious purposes,
merciful promises,
and wise precepts.

It sets forth . . .
the thoughts of God,
the secrets of eternity,
the designs of everlasting love,
the method of salvation,
the saint's privileges and glory,
the impenitent sinner's state, condition and awful doom!

This book  . . .
contains the mind of God;
reveals the way of salvation by Jesus Christ;
teaches the genuine evidences of real Christianity;
is a complete rule of life;
is the charter of the Christian's privileges;
is the casket that contains the jewels of God's promises;
is the light that illumines our path in this dark world; and
marks out as with a sunbeam, the blessed end of the righteous--and the miserable doom of the impenitent sinner. All who live and die without the salvation it makes known--will be cast into outer darkness, where there is eternal weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth!

There is a majesty in the Word of God which the believer sees, and an excellency, and glory which the Heaven-taught sinner discovers. He can no longer trifle with it, despise it, or pour contempt upon it. He views it as of . . .
  infinite importance,
  inconceivable value, and
  exact adapted to himself.
He feels a deep interest in its contents, and is concerned . . .
  to become acquainted with the blessings it reveals,
  to enjoy the privileges it sets forth, and
  escape the threatenings it holds out.

The true Christian . . .
  learns the doctrines with satisfaction,
  believes the promises with joy,
  accepts the invitations with gratitude,
  receives the cautions with fear,
  listens to the exhortations with pleasure,
  walks by the precepts with delight,
  reads it with reverence,
  searches it with diligence, and
  implores the promised teaching and guidance of the Holy Spirit to understand it.

Beware of slighting, despising, or neglecting the Bible.
Read it daily,
pray over it incessantly, and
meditate on what it reveals continually!

"His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night!" Psalm 1:2

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It is easier to offer God a few easy activities

(J.R. Miller)

"My son, give me your heart" Proverbs 23:26

"They first gave themselves to the Lord" 2 Corinthians 8:5

God wants, not so much your work, but you; at least He wants you first--and then your work. Service from hearts which are not really consecrated to God, is not pleasing to Him. We are in danger of forgetting this in our busy, bustling periods. It is easier to offer God a few easy activities--than to give Him our heart. The tendency of the religious life at present is to work and to serve--rather than to love God. So we need to remind ourselves continually, that loving must come before doing and serving. The largest and most noticeable work will find no acceptance with God--if our hearts are not His.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

An almost Christian

(James Smith
, "The Way of Salvation Set Forth")

"Then Agrippa said to Paul: You almost persuade me to become a Christian!" Acts 26:28

There are many who conclude that they are Christians, because they have been enlightened to see something of their state, danger, and deserved doom. But many are only lighted to Hell, for light in the mind--is not life in the soul. Hebrews 6:4, 10:20.

A person may be awakened to feel, to tremble, to desire salvation--as did Felix and Balaam, Acts 24:25, Numbers 23:10.

He may be reformed, and turn from open profanity to strict morality--as did some in Peter's day, 2 Peter 2:20.

He may be assisted to do many things which are in themselves good, such as reading the Scripture, attending divine ordinances, engaging in prayer, and working miracles, Matthew 7:21-23, Mark 6:20, 1 Corinthians 13:3.

He may experience God's power put forth restraining him, and keeping him back from sin, as did Abimelech, Genesis 20:6.

He may humble himself before God, as did Ahab, 1 Kings 21:27-30.

He may possess joy and be exceeding glad under the Word, Matthew 13:20.

He may believe the Word, receive the testimony, and admire the preacher, Luke 4:22-29, 8:13, Ezekiel 33:31-32.

He may be filled with zeal for Christ and his cause, like the multitude, John 6:15, 16; Matthew 21:8-11; Luke 23:18-23.

He may be baptized upon a profession of faith, join a Christian church, and imitate the saints in his conduct--as did Simon Magus, Acts 8:13.

He may fill an office in the church, preach the gospel, and act consistent for a time--as did Judas; and yet Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place, Acts 1:25.

He may be highly esteemed by others, be sound in doctrine, and suffer for the cause of Christ, and yet be destitute of the vital principle of saving faith--like Demas, Alexander, Hymeneus, and Philetus, 2 Timothy 2:16-18, 4:10-14, 1 John 2:15.

He may have many excellent qualities, so that he may be admired and loved by others, like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19.

He may have all that has been named above--but ONE THING may be lacking, and he be found at last, merely an almost Christian.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Yes, Lord!

(J.R. Miller)

"Lord, what will You have me to do?" Acts 9:6

Whatever command God gives--we should instantly and cheerfully answer, "Yes, Lord, I am ready to obey!"

It is not hard to say "Yes, Lord!" when God leads us in pleasant paths, where the flowers are plentiful, where the way is smooth and agreeable. But we know that sometimes the path is covered with thorns, and is rough and steep--or runs through fire or flood. We are still called always to say, "Yes, Lord!" If God calls us to some trial or cross-bearing or sacrifice, our answer should always be the same. We should be able to trust His loving heart--when our eyes cannot see blessing or goodness in the way He takes us. Every true path of God leads to rich joy!

"Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path!" Psalm 27:11

"He led them forth by the right way" Psalm 107:7

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Carve the image of Christ on the wall of your heart!

(J.R. Miller)

A persecuted Christian in prison was cheered an hour every day, by a little spot of sunshine on his dungeon wall. Through a grating, the sun's rays briefly streamed into his cell. With the crude tools of a nail and stone, he carved  a rough image of Christ upon His cross on the wall. He mastered his misfortune, getting a blessing out of it.

No matter how calamity or disaster builds its dark, gloomy dungeon walls about you--never let despair lay its chilly hand upon your soul. No dungeon is so deep, that God's love cannot stream through. Carve the image of Christ on the wall of your heart! Master your misfortune, and make it give you a blessing. If you let trouble master you--it will leave a permanent scar upon your life. But conquered calamity becomes your helper and leaves beauty on your soul.

"Before I was afflicted I went astray--but now I keep Your word." Psalm 119:67

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted--that I may learn Your statutes." Psalm 119:71

"I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75