Grace Gems for JULY 2013

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I Myself will help you!

(George Mylne, "Fear Not!" 1854)

"I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you: 'Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I Myself will help you!' declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel!" Isaiah 41:13-14

What is more helpless than a child without its mother's hand! Reader, what is more helpless than you without Christ! You can neither stand nor walk alone; but "God, who takes hold of your right hand, says to you: Do not fear; I will help you!"

He will help you . . .
  against sin;
  against Satan;
  against the world;
  against your own evil heart.

He will help you . . .
  when you are weary;
  when you are downcast;
  in the time of trial; and
  in the hour of temptation.

He will help you to understand;
He will help you to pray;
He will help you to fight;
He will help you to avoid the snares;
He will help you to despise the vanities of this poor world.
Ah, my fellow-sinner, this help is promised, because you need it all.

What a world of temptation, sin, and danger — what a world of darkness and confusion you live in! There is none to help you — none to teach you — none to lead you on your way — but Jehovah Jesus. Do not be afraid! He will hold you by the right hand, saying, "I will help you!"

Do you say, "The way is long — and I am weary. The road is dark — and I have no light. Temptations are many — how shall I resist them? I need grace — where can I find it? Oh, how shall I persevere?"

Afflicted soul! Is there no Helper? Is there none to pity? Is there none to guide? Where is your heavenly Father? Where is Jesus? Where is the Comforter? Where is He who feeds His flock like a Shepherd; who gathers His lambs in His arms, and carries them close to His heart? (Isaiah 40:11.) Where is He who has promised to hold you by the right hand, saying, "Do not be afraid — I will help you!"

Lift up your eyes to the hills, from whence comes your help. Your help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God. Fear not! (Psalm 121, Psalm 146:5)

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Your exceedingly great reward!

(George Mylne, "Reposing in Jesus: Or, The True Secret of Grace and Strength" 1862)

"I am your exceedingly great reward!" Genesis 15:1

Christian reader, God Himself is your reward — your exceedingly great reward. God has given Himself to His people for an everlasting possession, from before the foundation of the world. He made Himself over, by the eternal covenant, as the sure inheritance of His people. He gave Himself to them in perpetuity, with all that He IS, and all that He HAS! That eternal transaction was a matter of free and sovereign grace!

What is it that comforts you in your troubles, lightens your labors, and helps you in your difficulties? Is not that Jesus Himself is your exceeding great reward? It is not merely the promises — not even the prospect of glory — it is Jesus Himself, as your very own possession, which constitutes your reward. To this you look — on this you repose — that Jesus is yours — that you are Jesus' — that Jesus and you are eternally one!

If Jesus is your exceedingly great reward here — then how much more so in the world to come!
He will show you more and more of His fullness.
He will unfold to you the riches of His love.
He will open His arms to receive you.
He will take you into His very heart and soul.
You shall be swallowed up in Jesus!

What is true happiness?
What is Heaven?
What is glory to come?
Is it not the Person of Jesus?
To behold Him with your own eyes;
to hear Him with your own ears;
to feast forever on the divine radiance of His countenance;
to forever drink in the refreshments of His glory!
Oh Believer, this is what you have to repose in — Christ has said, "I am your exceedingly great reward!"

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This was an act of pure mercy — of pure grace!

(George Mylne, "Reposing in Jesus: Or, The True Secret of Grace and Strength" 1862)

God might justly have left the whole race of man to perish in their sins. There was nothing to oblige God to be merciful to sinners. But God was pleased to have a chosen family in Christ Jesus. He bound Himself by the everlasting covenant . . .
  to forgive their sins,
  to renew their nature, and
  to bring them to glory!
This was an act of pure mercy — of pure grace!

"He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy [consecrated and set apart for Him] and blameless in His sight." Ephesians 1:4 (Amplified Bible)

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You are Mine!

(George Mylne, "Fear Not!" 1854)

"Fear not, you are Mine!" Isaiah 43:1

Child of God, dismiss your doubts; put away your fears.
Jesus says, "Fear not, you are Mine!"
Mine by creation,
Mine by redemption,
Mine by right,
Mine by purchase,
Mine affection,
Mine by choice,
Mine for life,
Mine in death,
Mine for time,
Mine for eternity!"

In all seasons; under all circumstances — you are Christ's!
As a father speaking to his child;
as a master speaking to his servant;
as a husband speaking to his wife;
as a potter speaking to the thing he has made;
as a buyer speaking to the thing he has bought —
Jesus says to you, "Fear not, you are Mine!"

And why does Jesus say, "You are Mine"?
Because He loves you,
because He has chosen you,
because He gave Himself for you,
because He will not part with you!

Will Jesus ever give you up?
Will He ever forget you?
Will He ever hide Himself from your prayers?
Will He ever disregard your tears?
He says, "Fear not, you are Mine!"

Will the bridegroom part with the bride, or the husband with his beloved wife? They may part — yet Jesus will never part with you. "Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?" But even if that were possible, yet will Jesus never forget you. He has you in His heart. He has engraved you upon the palms of His hands! (Isaiah 49:15, 16.) He says, "Fear not, you are Mine! Fear not, you shall not be taken from Me. Fear not, I will never forsake you!" His eye is upon you. His affections yearn for you. Oh! the tenderness with which He bends over you, saying, "Fear not, you are Mine!"

When Jesus says, "You are Mine" — do you say, "And I am yours. I am my Beloved's — and His desire is toward me!" (Song of Solomon 7:10.) This is the way to delight the soul of Jesus. Contrite sinner, He says to you, "You are Mine!" Then fear not!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I have chosen you!

(George Mylne, "Fear Not!" 1854)

"Fear not, I have chosen you!" Isaiah 41:9, 10

Christian reader, God says to you, "I have chosen you!" This is a great mystery — but it is a comforting truth. God does not tell you WHY He chose you. He only tells you the simple fact. It is not for you to question it, or to shrink from it — but to receive it, and be thankful.

God was free to love you — or free to loathe you.
He was free to choose you — or free to reject you.
He says, "I have chosen you!" Believe what God says, and rejoice. "Before the mountains were brought forth, before He had formed the earth and the world," God had chosen you! "From everlasting to everlasting, He is God." From everlasting to everlasting He loved — He chose — He delighted in His people.

Fellow-sinner, if God says, "I have chosen you," He says it . . .
  to encourage you;
  to strengthen you;
  to sanctify you;
  that you may rest upon the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure,
  that you may look away from self, and see that salvation is altogether of the Lord.

God chose you, "not according to your works; but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given you in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Timothy 1:9.)

Fellow-sinner, you are . . .
  loved in Christ;
  chosen in Christ;
  called in Christ;
  saved in Christ!
Here is your foundation; here your hope; here your safety — you were "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world!"

This is to humble you — as well as to exalt you.

This is to make you weep — as well as cause you to rejoice.

You are vile in yourself — but chosen to indescribable honor!

You are poor in yourself — but chosen to unspeakable riches!

You are naked in yourself — but chosen to eternal glory!

Child of God, never lose your hold of this precious truth. God has revealed it, that you might delight in it. Let this be the brightest jewel in your crown — this the sweetest cordial to your heart — that God says to you, "Fear not, I have chosen you!"

As you sit at the feet of Jesus;
as you lay your mouth in the dust, and cry, "Unclean, unclean!"
as you take all the shame to yourself, and give all the glory to God,
let this comfort delight your soul —
God has said, "Fear not, I have chosen you!"

"God chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world!" Ephesians 1:4

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sin's enormity!

(Arthur Pink)

"Hate what is evil" Romans 12:9

If we took a survey of everything on the earth — we could not find anything so vile as sin. The basest and most contemptible thing in this world, has some degree of worth in it, as being the workmanship of God. But sin and its foul streams have not the least part of worth in them. Sin is wholly evil without the least mixture of good — it is vileness in the abstract.

Sin's heinousness appears in its author: "The one who practices sin is of the Devil; for the Devil has sinned from the beginning." Sin is the Devil's trade, and he practices it incessantly!

Sin's enormity is seen in what it has done to man: it has completely ruined his nature and brought him under the curse of God!

Sin is the source of all our miseries. All unrighteousness and wretchedness are its fruits. There is no distress of the mind, no anguish of the heart, no pain of the body — but is due to sin! All the miseries which mankind groans under, are to be ascribed to sin.

Sin is the cause of all divine punishments: "Your ways and your doings have brought these things upon you. This is your punishment." Had there been no sin, there would have been . . .
  no wars,
  no calamities,
  no prisons,
  no hospitals,
  no insane asylums,
  no cemeteries!
Yet who lays these things to heart?

"The deceitfulness of sin!" Sin assumes many garbs. When it appears in its nakedness — it is seen as a black and misshapen monster! How God Himself views it, may be learned from the various similitudes used by the Holy Spirit to set forth its ugliness and loathsomeness. Sin is likened to the scum of a seething pot in which is a detestable carcass, and to a dead and rotting body!

There is a far greater malignity in sin than is commonly supposed, even by the majority of church members. Men regard sin as an infirmity, and term it a human frailty or hereditary weakness. The majority regard sin as a mere trifle.

Tens of thousands of religionists see so little filth in sin, that they imagine a few tears will wash away its stain. They perceive so little criminality in it, that they persuade themselves that a few good works will make full reparation for it.

All comparisons fail to set forth the horrible malignity in that abominable thing which God hates. We can say nothing more evil of sin, than to term it what it is!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom!

(George Mylne, "Fear Not!" 1854)

"Fear not little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom!" Luke 12:32

Reader, are you one of the redeemed flock — the "holy flock" — the "beautiful flock." (Jeremiah 13:20, Ezra 36:38.) Then the good Shepherd says to you, "Fear not!"

I know not what your worldly means may be. You may have to work hard for your bread, and have a large family depending on your labors. Perhaps you have known better days, and the bread of your humiliation may have a bitter taste. You may have had great great expectations which came to nothing. Schemes of ambition, or prospects of gain, may have been blighted. Promises of advancement may have failed. Your whole life may have been one chain of trials:
  trials of poverty;
  trials of bereavement;
  trials of disappointment;
  trials in the family;
  trials enough to break your heart —
if it were not stayed on Jesus. But fear not!
He has words of comfort to cheer you!
He has gold tried in the fire, to make you rich!
He has honor and privilege, to make amends for all your trials!
He says, "Fear not little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom!"

You may have lost much that you once possessed. You may have failed to have all that you desired, or expected to have. But, child of God, think what it is to have the Kingdom of Heaven!
Who is rich — if you are not rich!
Who is happy — if you are not happy!
Who is honorable — if you are not glorious!
Fear not, child of God! Fear not poverty. Fear not trial. Fear nothing which makes you feel your dependence upon God.

Envy no man of his possessions, his honors, or his pleasures — you have far more than he has!
Earthly riches make to themselves wings and fly away — but your riches endure forever.
Earthly crowns are corruptible — but your crown is incorruptible.
Earthly pleasures are but for a moment — but yours are eternal pleasures at your Father's right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

But, reader, the Scriptures tell us that we must go through much tribulation to enter into the Kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22.) But your "light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!" (2 Corinthians 4:17.) Before long, through God's sustaining grace, you shall sit down with Christ on His throne! (Rev. 3:21.) Child of God, remember the promise; obey the precept; think of the heavenly Kingdom, and fear not!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Can you think of all this, and still be proud!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

"Patience is better than pride." Ecclesiastes 7:8

Pride is the opposite of patience. Man is impatient, because he is proud.

Many are proud — who think themselves humble. But let vexations come — have they to bear reproof, to meet the faults, or ignorance of others — and impatience tells the truth; they are proud, not humble!

Pride argues ignorance of SELF.

Would you be humble? Then . . .
  look at your own corruptions;
  survey your features in the looking-glass of Scripture;
  consider well your own spiritual deficiencies;
  study the failings of your character.
Ah! if you know your heart — then none will appear so vile, so corrupt, so sinful, as yourself!

Would you be humble?
Then think of the cross of Christ.
What nailed Him to the tree?
The bloody sweat; the crown of thorns; the tears; the pains; the taunts; the buffetings; the piercing cry — what caused them all?
Your sins! Christian, remember this — your sins!
Can you feel this, and yet be proud?

Would you be humble? 
Think of the pit, from which He snatched you!
Think of the price, at which He bought you!
Think of the grace, with which He clothes you!
Think of the bliss, with which He will crown you!

Can you think of all this, and still be proud!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I will strengthen you!

(George Mylne, "Fear Not!" 1854)

"Fear not! I will strengthen you!" Isaiah 41:10

Blessed promise, "I will strengthen you!" Who gives the promise? Jehovah Jesus! To whom is it given? Powerless believer, it is given to you! To you it is said, "Fear not!"

You have . . .
  a war to wage;
  a race to run;
  an enemy to watch;
  a victory to gain.
Your own strength is nothing. Even an angel's strength would not suffice you. You must be clothed with power from Heaven; you must be armed with God. I would not underrate your own weakness; and I cannot overrate the divine strength at your command.

Are you a child in Christian experience? A child in faith! A child in grace! A child in power! Fear not! Out of the mouths of babes has God ordained strength, that you, my fellow sinner, may still the enemy. (Psalm 8:2)

You are weak in yourself — but strong in Christ! This must be your motto, and your consolation. You have no strength of your own. Look not for it. Your own deceitful heart is too much for you — you cannot master it. How, then, could you fight with Satan and prevail! How often have your lusts entangled you — and your evil tempers humbled you! You have looked for power — and behold leanness! You have looked for strength — and there was none! Have you prayed to God — yes, thrice besought Him — to take your weakness from you? Ask it not. His grace is sufficient for you. His strength is made perfect in your weakness. Glory, then, in your infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon you. (2 Corinthians 12:8, 9)

Fear not! Surely in the Lord you have righteousness and strength. God shall strengthen you with might by His Spirit in the inner man. He will be the strength of your heart, and your portion forever. (Isaiah 45:24; Ephesians 3:16; Psalm 73:26) Only be persuaded of your own weakness. When you are weak, then are you strong — then are you able to do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Fellow sinner, fear not! (2 Corinthians 12:10; Philippians 4:13)

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I shall sin no more!

(The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith, written in
1860 when Smith was 58)

I am weary of myself, ashamed of myself, and often turn with disgust from myself! And yet I find a great deal of self-love, self-esteem, and self-pity working within me! I sometimes get into such a state of confusion, into such misery and wretchedness, that I cry out, "Oh, what a wretched man I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death!" Romans 7:24

I feel that I am too carnal — too much like the generality of professors. I do not follow the Lord fully. I am not wholly set apart for God. But I am ashamed of complaining, I have done so — so often, and it has ended there. I need more life, more savor, more love in my religion; and to be more energetic and self-denying in my ministry. I need — alas, what do I not need? I am only a mere skeleton of a Christian. I can keep up the outward form pretty well, but the power — the power is what I need! I want to be like Jesus. O for a Christ-like spirit, temper, and course of conduct!

I am obliged to renounce self entirely — all that I do, all that I feel, and all that I say — and build on Jesus Christ, and on Him alone. This is very mortifying to poor, proud human nature — but so it must be. The creature must be nothing — that the Savior may be all in all!

How swift-footed is time! Soon, very soon — it will land me on the shores of eternity! Well, to die will be gain. I shall then be with Christ — with Christ forever! Then all my trials will be ended, all my sorrows will cease — and I shall sin no more! If I could but live without sin — I would not care how long I lived. Nothing grieves me like sin — and yet I sin daily. I grieve the loving heart of Jesus, and wound the tender bosom on which I lean. What a pleasant thing perfect holiness will be!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

How will this look — when I am dying?

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

"Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died." 2 Kings 13:14

A death-bed is a good place from which to look at one's past life. In the strange, dim light that pours in from eternity — things do not appear as they did in the common sunlight. Many things that gave pleasure as life went on — now give pain and shame in the retrospect, and appear calamitous. This is true of all sins and follies, of all gains and pleasures that did not have God's blessing — of all things done for SELF and not for Christ, of all quarrels and strifes.

Many things also that seemed hard when they came, and that cost pain and self-denial — in the light of the death-chamber, now appear radiant and beautiful. Thus the dying hour is the place to test life. If we would always ask, before doing any doubtful thing, "How will this look — when I am dying?" it would save us from many a mistake and sin!

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

If Jesus is not God

(George Mylne, "Reposing in Jesus: Or, The True Secret of Grace and Strength" 1862)

It is of great importance that we should practically know Jesus as He is — that we should be able to repose on Him in all the reality of His divine nature.

If Jesus is God — then I must repose on Him as God; and this, not merely for the correctness of my beliefs — but for the strengthening of my faith, and for the encouragement of my soul in all the varieties of its experience and warfare.

If Jesus is not God — then He could not have loved me from everlasting — and I then have no warrant that He either can, or will, love me forever.

If Jesus is not God — then He has neither rendered an infinite obedience, nor made a perfect atonement for sins, on my behalf.

If Jesus is not God — then my faith is vain, and I am yet in my sins.

If Jesus is not God — then I cannot look to Him for unfailing guidance, wisdom or power.

If Jesus is not God — then His grace is not sufficient for me — nor is His strength made perfect in my weakness.

But my repose is this, that Jesus is God — that "in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" — and that "From the fullness of His grace, I have received one gracious blessing after another!"

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Out of 100 people

(D.L. Moody)

Out of 100 people, one will read the Bible; the other 99 will read the Christian!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our little matters


Our great matters are little to God's infinite power;
our little matters are great to God's fatherly love!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Search the Scriptures!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and searched the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

The Greek word translated search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search — the kind men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in pursuit of game. We must not be content with giving a superficial glance to one or two chapters — but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the meaning of the Word. Holy Scripture requires searching — much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babies — but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word.

The person who merely skims the Book of God will not profit from it. We must dig and mine until we obtain the treasure! The door of the Word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures demand to be searched. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur — who shall dare to treat them casually? To despise them is to despise the God who wrote them. God forbid that any of us should allow our Bibles to become witnesses against us in the great day of account!

The Word of God will repay searching. God does not ask us to sift through a mountain of chaff with only here and there a grain of wheat in it — but filled with hidden treasures. Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye — it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with gold and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all kinds of priceless gems!

Finally, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: "These very Scriptures testify about Me!" No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: He who finds Jesus finds life, Heaven, and all things. Happy are they who, in searching the Bible, discover their Savior!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Master taught me this in the washing of the disciples' feet

(J.R. Miller, in a letter to a young pastor)

Cultivate love for Christ — and then live for your work. It goes without saying that the supreme motive in every minister's life, should be love to Christ. 'The love of Christ constrains me!' was the keynote of Paul's marvelous ministry.

But this is not all. If a man is swayed by the love of Christ — then he must also have in his heart love for his fellow men. If I were to give you what I believe is one of the secrets of my own life, it is that I have always loved people. I have had an intense desire all of my life, to help people in every way; not merely to help them into the church — but to help them in their personal lives, in their struggles and temptations, their quest for the best things in character. I have loved other people with an absorbing devotion. I have always felt that I would go anywhere, do any personal service, and help any individual, even the lowliest. The Master taught me this in the washing of the disciples' feet, which showed His heart in being willing to do anything to serve His friends.

If you want to have success as a winner of men, as a helper of people, as a pastor of little children, as the friend of the tempted and imperiled — then you must love them and have a sincere desire to do them good. It seems to me that your secret of success will be, not in developing the professional ideals, nor in following any rules which you have learned in the seminary — but in caring for people with such intensity, that you will be ready to make any self-sacrifice to do them good.

[Editor's note: All who knew him marveled as they saw how full Miller's days were of varied service. Talmage said of Miller, "I doubt if there is a living minister in all the world who has done a greater work than Dr. Miller. He is the marvel of the age — he has done the work of ten men! While others were attending banquets or sitting by their firesides — his tireless feet have been tramping the streets of the city calling upon the sick, and like Paul, carrying the gospel into many homes. Of all the great ministers of the past, not one has wielded greater influence for good. The whole city should be thankful for the noble life of this wonderful man!"

Miller once said, "Most ministers have their 'free Mondays' and their evenings for concerts and that type of thing — or relaxing at home. I give up every hour to ministry of some sort. I am very busy at the office all day — people are there with their troubles all the time. In the evenings I go out visiting the sick and others. At about 9:30 I return home and have an hour with my family before they scatter off to bed."]

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What a mercy that I have been preserved so long!

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

Lord, You know my weaknesses and follies, and what sins I am likely enough to commit — unless You hold me fast. "Hold up my
steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip!" Psalm 17:5

What a mercy that I have been preserved so long! How many thousands who have been born since myself, have been chopped down by the scythe of death — and where are they? What is become of them? Are not many of them suffering Your eternal wrath, as the just desert of their sins? No doubt but they are!

And what am I — that I should be distinguished from them! What was there in me — that a difference should be made between us! Lord, you know that there was nothing. It is all of your rich, free, and sovereign grace — that there is the least difference between me, and the vilest wretch in Hell!

"But by the grace of God, I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Weep not for me!

(The following was written by Matthew Henry, and was found after his death.)

Would you know where I am? I am at home in my Father's house — in the mansion Jesus prepared for me there. I am where I want to be — where I have long and often desired to be. I am no longer on a stormy sea — but in a safe and quiet harbor. My working time is done — I am resting! My sowing time is done — I am reaping! My joy is as the joy of harvest!

Would you know how it is with me? I am perfect in holiness; grace is swallowed up in glory!

Would you know what I am doing? I see God; I see Him as He is; not as through a glass darkly, but face to face. The sight is transforming, it makes me like Him! I am in the sweet enjoyment of my blessed Redeemer, whom my soul loved, and for whose sake I was willing to part with all. I am here bathing myself at the spring-head of heavenly pleasures and unutterable joys; and, therefore, weep not for me. I am here singing hallelujahs incessantly to Him who sits upon the throne, and rest not day or night from praising Him!

Would you know what company I have? Blessed company — better than the best on earth; here are holy angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect. I am here with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God; with blessed Paul, and Peter, and James, and John, and all the saints. And here I meet with many old acquaintances that I fasted and prayed with, who came here before me.

And, lastly, would you consider how long this is to continue? It is a garland that never withers; a crown of glory that never fades away; after millions of millions of ages, it will be as fresh as it is now; and, therefore, weep not for me!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart!

(J.R. Miller)

"You have placed our iniquities before You — our secret sins in the light of Your presence!" Psalm 90:8

It does not take a rifle-bullet to destroy a life. Men have died from little scratch-wounds.

Some shepherds once saw an eagle soar out from a crag. It flew majestically far up into the sky, but by and by became unsteady in its motions, and began to waver in its flight. At length one wing drooped and then the other, and the poor bird struggled vainly for a moment, and then fell swiftly to the ground. The shepherds sought the fallen bird, and found that a poisonous little serpent had fastened itself upon it while it rested on the crag. The eagle did not know that the serpent was there. But the reptile gnawed in through the feathers, and while the proud monarch was sweeping through the air, the serpent's fangs were thrust into its flesh, and the eagle came reeling down into the dust!
This illustrates the story of many a human life. For a time they seem quite promising; then suddenly they struggle and fall. Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart, and at last the proud life lies soiled and dishonored in the dust!

We need to be ever on our watch against these treacherous and insidious perils, these little, secret sins — which, unperceived, work death in the soul!

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We may safely let our life write its own record

(J.R. Miller)

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward!" Matthew 10:42

We need not trouble ourselves to keep diaries of our good deeds and sacrifices, or to write autobiographies filled with pages of the good things we have done. We may safely let our life write its own record, and let Jesus be our biographer. He will never forget anything we do — and the judgment day will reveal everything. The lowliest services and the obscurest deeds, will then be manifested.

"Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God!" 1 Corinthians 4:5

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God's school!

(Hannah More)

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word!" Psalm 119:67

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

"I have refined you in the furnace of affliction!" Isaiah 48:10

Affliction is God's school in which holy virtues are acquired, and Christian character is formed.

"It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn Your decrees!" Psalm 119:71

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right!

(Francis Bourdillon)

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

"I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right." God orders all things! His "judgments" here mean His general orderings, decisions, dealings — not afflictions only, though including them.

And when the Psalmist says, "Your judgments," he means especially God's judgments towards him, God's dealings with him, and thus all that had happened to him or would happen to him. For in the Psalmist's creed, there was no such thing as chance. God ordered all that befell him, and he delighted to think so. He expresses a sure and happy confidence in all that God did and would do, with regard to him. He trusted fully in God's wisdom, God's power, and God's love.

"I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right" — quite right, right in every way, perfectly wise and good — without one single point that might have been better. David shows the firmest persuasion of this. "I know," he says; not merely "I think." But these very words, "I know," clearly show that this was a matter of faith, not of sight. For he does not say, "I can see that your judgments are right" — but "I know." The meaning plainly is, "Though I cannot see all — though there are some things in Your dealings which I cannot fully understand — yet, I believe, I am persuaded, and thus I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right."

"Your judgments." Not some of them — but ALL. He takes into view all God's dealings with him and says of them without exception, "I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right."

When the things that happen to us are plainly for our comfort and good, as many of them are — then we thankfully receive what God thus sends to us, and own Him as the Giver of all, and bless Him for His gracious dealing; and this is right. But all the faith required for this, is to own God as dealing with us, instead of thanklessly receiving the gifts with no thought of the Giver. It is a far higher degree of faith, that says of ALL God's dealings, even when seemingly not for our happiness, "I know that Your judgments are right!"

Yet this is the meaning here, or certainly the chief meaning. For though the word "judgments" does mean God's dealings of every kind — yet here the words which follow, make it apply especially to God's afflictive dealings — that is, to those dealings of His that do not seem to be for our happiness, "I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that You in faithfulness have afflicted me."

The judgments which the Psalmist chiefly had in view, and which he felt so sure were right, were not joys — but sorrows; not things bestowed — but things taken away; those blessings in disguise; those veiled mercies; those gifts clad in the garb of mourning — which God so often sends to His children. The Psalmist knew, and knew against all appearance to the contrary, that these judgments were "right." Whatever they might be — losses, bereavements, disappointments, pain, sickness — they were right, perfectly right; so right that they could not have been better; just what were best — and all because they were God's judgments.

That one thing satisfied the Psalmist's mind, and set every doubt at rest. The dealings in themselves, he might have doubted — but not Him whose dealings they were. "Your judgments." That settled all.

"And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me." This means that, in appointing trouble as his lot, God had dealt with him in faithfulness to His word, in faithfulness to His purposes of mercy, and in faithful love. God had sent him just what was most for his good, though not always what was most pleasing; and in this He had shown Himself faithful. Gently and lovingly does the Lord deal with His children. He gives no unnecessary pain; but that which is needful, He will not withhold.

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Who can find a virtuous woman?

(Matthew Henry)

"Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies!" Proverbs 31:10

The description of the virtuous woman given in Proverbs 31, is designed to show what kind of wives godly women should make — and what wives godly men should choose.

A virtuous woman is very assiduous to recommend herself to her husband's esteem and affection. She conducts herself so that he may repose an entire confidence in her. She shows her love to him, not by a foolish fondness — but by prudent endearments, accommodating herself to his temperament.

A virtuous woman is one who takes pains in her duties. She hates to sit idle and do nothing. Though she may not need to work for her bread, yet she will not eat the bread of idleness.

A virtuous woman takes care of her family and all the affairs of it, not meddling in the concerns of other people's houses, as she thinks it enough for her to look well to her own affairs.

A virtuous woman is charitable to the poor. She often serves the poor with her own hand, and she does it freely, cheerfully, and very liberally.

A virtuous woman is discreet and obliging in all her discourse — not talkative, censorious, nor peevish. When she does speak, it is with a great deal of prudence and very much to the purpose. The law of love and kindness is written in her heart — and it shows itself in her tongue!

A virtuous woman has a firmness and constancy of mind, to bear up under the many crosses and disappointments which even the wise and godly must expect to meet with in this poor world.

That which completes and crowns her character, is that she fears the Lord. With all these good qualities, she does not lack that one thing needful — she is truly pious. In all she does, she is guided and governed by Christian principles, and a regard to God.

In the day of death, it will be a pleasure for her to think that she has lived to some good purpose. True virtue will have its praise — both from God and man.

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised!" Proverbs 31:30

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Indeed, he is in trouble — but he is not in Hell!

(Charles Bridges, "Psalm 119". This one is longer, but will be very profitable for those undergoing severe trials of any kind.)

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

This is the Christian's acknowledgment: he is fully satisfied with God's ordering of his affairs.

The Lord's dealings are called his judgments — not as having judicial curses — but as the acts of His justice in the chastening of sin and in the administration of their measure and application.

In regard to himself, David acknowledges the Lord's particular faithfulness. And this he knew, not from the dictates of the flesh (which give the exact opposite verdict) — but from the testimony of the Word and the witness of his own experience. It could not be doubted, much less denied, "I know, O Lord, that Your rules of proceeding are agreeable to Your perfect justice and wisdom. I am equally satisfied that the afflictions which You have laid upon me from time to time, are only to fulfill Your gracious and faithful promise of making me eternally happy in Yourself."

How blessed is the fruit of affliction, when we can see God in it — that He is of great compassion and of tender mercy; that His thoughts toward us are thoughts of peace, and not of evil! This is a difficult, but most comforting lesson in deciphering the mysteries of God's providence.

Under the severest chastisement, the child of God must acknowledge divine justice. Our gracious reward is always more, and our chastisement always less — than our iniquities deserve. "Why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?" Indeed, he is in trouble — but he is not in Hell! If he complains, then let it be of no one but himself and his own wayward choices. "I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right," and who can doubt God's perfect wisdom?

Who would charge the surgeon with cruelty, in cutting out the cancerous flesh that was bringing death upon the man? Who would not acknowledge the right judgment of his piercing work?

So when the Lord's painful work . . .
  separates us from our sin,
  weans us from the world,
  and brings us nearer to Himself —
what remains for us, but thankfully to acknowledge His faithfulness and love?

The assurance of the Lord's perfect justice, wisdom, and intimate knowledge of our respective cases — leads us to yield to His ordering of our affairs in filial silence.

Thus Aaron, under his most grievous domestic calamity, "held his peace."

Job, under a similar painful dispensation, was enabled to say, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Eli's language in the same trial was, "It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to Him."

David hushed his impatient spirit, saying, "I was silent, I did not open my mouth, because You are the one who has done this!" And when Shimei cursed him, he said, "Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has ordered him."

Hezekiah kissed the rod, while it was smiting him to the dust, "The word of the Lord which you have spoken, is good."

This is the consistent language of the Lord's people under chastisement: "I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right!"

The confession of justice may, however, be mere natural conviction. Faith goes further and speaks of divine faithfulness. David not only acknowledges God's right to deal with him as He saw fit, and His wisdom in dealing with him as He actually had done — but he saw also God's faithfulness in afflicting — not faithfulness though He afflicted — but IN afflicting him; not as if it were simply consistent with His love — but that it was the very fruit of His love!

Just so, it is not enough for us to justify God in His providential dealings with us. We have abundant cause to thank and praise Him! It is not enough to cease from murmuring at God's afflictive dealings with us. We must realize that they are a faithful display of His mercy and love to us!

Yes, the trials appointed for us, are nothing less than the faithful performance of God's everlasting promises. And to this cause, we may always trace the reason of much that is painful to the flesh, even though it may not be apparent to our eyes. If we determine to take note of its gracious effects in our restoration — needful instruction, healing of our backslidings, and the continual purging of sins — then we can say, "The faithfulness of God is gloriously displayed!"

The Philistines could not understand Samson's riddle — how meat could come out of the eater, and sweetness come out of the strong. In the same way the world can little comprehend the fruitfulness of God, in the Christian's trials — how his gracious Lord can sweeten the bitter waters, and make the painful affliction — the remedy of sin.

The Christian, then, finds no inclination in having any change made in the Lord's providential appointments, distasteful as they may be to the flesh. He readily acknowledges that God's merciful designs could not have been accomplished in any other way. Under such painful trials, many sweet tokens of divine love are granted — which under circumstances of outward prosperity, could not have been received with the same gratitude and delight.

Affliction is the special token of our heavenly Father's love. It brings us into conformity to the image of Jesus, and prepares us for His service and kingdom. Affliction is the only blessing that the Lord gives without requiring us to ask for it. We receive it, therefore, as promised, not as threatened. When the "peaceable fruits of righteousness," which it brings about in God's time and way, spring up in our hearts — then humbly and gratefully we will acknowledge the righteousness of His judgments and the faithfulness of His corrections.

You who are living at ease in the indulgence of what this poor world can afford — how little does the Christian envy your portion! In some future day, you will surely be taught by experience to envy his! To the Christian, the world's riches are daily becoming poorer, and its pleasures more tasteless. And what will they be, and how will they appear, when eternity is at hand!!

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

     ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Can it be possible?

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Do this in remembrance of Me!" (1 Corinthians 11:24)

It appears that Christians may forget Christ! There would be no need for this loving exhortation — if there were not a fearful possibility that our memories might prove treacherous. Nor is this an empty notion. It is, sadly, too well confirmed in our experience; not as a possibility — but as a lamentable fact!

It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God — could forget their gracious Savior! But if startling to the ear, sadly, it is too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime.

Can we forget Him — who never forgot us!
Can we forget Him — who poured His blood out for our sins!
Can we forget Him — who loved us even to death!
Can it be possible?

Yes, it is not only possible — but conscience confesses that is is too sadly a fault with all of us. Instead of Him being a permanent resident in our memories — we treat Him as a visitor. The cross — where one would expect that memory would linger — is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness.

Doesn't your conscience say that this is true? Don't you find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some other love steals away your heart — and you are unmindful of Him upon whom your chief affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention — when you ought to be fixed steadily upon the cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things — which takes the soul away from Christ! While memory works to preserve a poisonous weed — it allows the rose of Sharon to wither!

Let us charge ourselves to tie a heavenly forget-me-not around our hearts for Jesus our Beloved, and whatever else we let slip, let us hold tight to Him!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

But he was a leper!

(Arthur Pink, "Gleanings from Elisha")

"Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man . . . but he was a leper!" 2 Kings 5:1

Naaman was a great man . . . but he was a leper! He was the victim of a loathsome and incurable disease. He was a pitiful and repulsive object, with no prospect whatever of any improvement in his condition.

Yes, my reader, the highly-privileged and honored Naaman was a leper — and as such he portrays what you are and what I am by nature. God's Word does not flatter man. It lays him in the dust, which is one reason why it is so unpalatable to the great majority of people. It is the Word of truth, and therefore instead of painting flattering pictures of human nature — it represents things as they actually are.
Instead of lauding man — it abases him.

Instead of speaking of the dignity and nobility of human nature — it declares it to be leprous — sinful, corrupt, depraved, defiled!

Instead of eulogizing human progress — it insists that "every man at his best state is altogether vanity!" (Psalm 39:5)

And when the Holy Scriptures define man's attitude toward and relationship with God, they insist that "There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God" (Romans 3:10-11). They declare that we are His enemies by our wicked works (Colossians 1:21), and that consequently we are under the condemnation and curse of God's law, and that His holy wrath abides on us! (John 3:36)

The Word of truth declares that by nature all of us are spiritual lepers — foul and filthy, unfit for the divine presence, "being alienated from the life of God." (Ephesians 4:18)

You may occupy a good position in this world, even an eminent station in the affairs of this life. You may have made good in your vocation, and wrought praiseworthy achievements by human standards. You may be honorable in the sight of your fellows — but how do you appear in the eyes of God? You are a leper — one whom His law pronounces unclean, one who is utterly unfit for His holy presence! As it was with Naaman, so it is with you: "He was a great man — but a leper!"

We would not be faithful to our calling were we to glide over that in God's Word which is distasteful to proud flesh and blood. Nor would we be faithful to our readers if we glossed over their frightful and fatal natural condition. It is in their souls' interests that they should face this humiliating and unpleasant fact — that in God's sight, they are spiritual lepers!

But we must personalize it. Have you, my reader, realized this fact in your own case? Have you seen yourself as you are in God's sight? Are you aware that your soul is suffering from a disease that neither you nor any human being can cure? It is so, whether you realize it or not. The Scriptures declare that from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head, there is no soundness in you. Yes, that in the sight of the holy God, you are a mass of "wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores!" (Isaiah 1:6) Only as you penitently accept that divine verdict, is there any hope for you.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Almighty God, our heavenly Father

(J.R. Miller, "Family Prayers")

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, look upon us graciously as we wait at Your feet. You have given us many invitations to come to You. You have invited us . . .
  to come with our sins,
  to come with our troubles,
  to come with our mistakes,
  to come with our cares,
  to come with our sorrows.
You have told us to come at all times, that we shall . . .
  never be unwelcome,
  never be turned away, and
  never find You too busy to hear us.
You have promised us . . .
  mercy for our sins,
  comfort for our sorrows,
  strength for our duties, and
  wisdom for our ignorance,
when we come to You. We thank You for all these precious invitations and assurances.

What would we do, O God, if we might not thus come to You? To whom else could we go? There is no other in all the universe who could help us — as we must be helped. Our hearts are full of praise and rejoicing, that we may thus come to You. There is nothing we cannot bring to You — nothing too small to bring — and nothing too large. We thank You that we are so blessed, that we have all Your divine love and grace to help us in our times of need. We need no other help, but Yours. We come now with all our burdens.

We have many sins. These are our worst burdens. They will sink us to eternal despair, unless we find help. We thank You that the Lord Jesus paid for our sins, and bore them away. In His name, depending upon His atonement, we come with our sins.

We have other needs.
We are not strong enough for duty.
We cannot stand against the ensnaring world, and the power of Satan.
We have no wisdom for life's problems, its duties, its responsibilities.
We need strength,
we need wisdom,
we need grace —
for every moment!

So we come to You, our Father, as Your redeemed children. Receive us, bless us, keep us, help us. We ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need!" Hebrews 4:16

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Some of Your gifts have come to us in strange form!

(J.R. Miller, "Family Prayers")

Father, let Your face shine upon our home today. We thank You for it. May it be . . .
  a shelter to us from the world's storms,
  a nest of love,
  a school where we may learn love's lessons, and
  where we may grow into the beauty of Christlikeness.
We pray continually that our home may become more and more like Heaven. Teach all of us how to live, so as to add to its sweetness.

Come and be a guest in our home. Then its love will become sweeter, and more and more holy. For Your presence gives light, blessing, and joy. Make our home, Your home. Dwell with us. Then we shall be happy. Then we shall live beautifully together.

We thank You for Your goodness to us this past week. You have showered Your blessings upon us with a most bountiful hand. You have given us favors of many kinds. Some of Your gifts have come to us in strange form — in trials, in burdens, in disappointments, in losses. Still we know that they are Your gifts, and as such, have in them good and blessing for our lives. Give us grace to accept whatever You send to us, knowing that Your love can never give us anything but kindness. Even if the cup is bitter — may we be enabled to accept it. We would get near to Your heart, we would creep into Jesus' bosom, into His everlasting arms, and be still.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

May we nestle in Your love

(J.R. Miller, "
Family Prayers")

(evening prayer)
Heavenly Father, the day is gone, and we cannot recall it . . .
   to amend its doings,
   to correct its mistakes,
   to blot out its sins,
   to undo the things we ought not to have done,
   to do the things we ought to have done, but left undone,
   to unsay the words we ought not to have said,
   to speak the words we ought to have spoken.

The day is gone from us — and is with You. We leave it in Your hands. Whatever we have done that was not according to Your will — may You graciously forgive. The things that pleased You — may You bless.

Our disappointments, we accept as Your appointments for us — better than our own way would have been. Teach us the lessons You would have us learn from the day's experiences. May we be wiser for having lived through these experiences. May . . .
  our faith be stronger,
  our love be deeper,
  our earnestness be more intense,
  and our zeal be more intense.

May we nestle in Your love
, as little children nestle in the mother's bosom. May we hide in You as in an everlasting rock, so that our peace may never be disturbed, even in the wildest storms of earth. Enfold us all now in Your everlasting arms, and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be upon us. Amen.