Grace Gems for NOVEMBER 2013

Grace Gems for NOVEMBER 2013

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

All our afflictions are appointed by our loving heavenly Father!

(Arthur Pink)

"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9

Realizing that it was the chastening hand of God upon him, David refrained from murmuring. It was not the silence of sullenness, but of meekly acquiescing to the rod. When we are in our right minds, we shall have nothing to object against God's dealings with us, or dispute with them. God is sovereign in the acts of His providence — and therefore an important branch of our obedience unto Him lies in suffering His will, as well as in doing His will. That obedience is evidenced by refusing to repine against Him by the utterance of any impatient words.

Shall vile dust and ashes censure the providential dealings of the Most High God, or impugn His goodness? Let all God's treatment of us be both wondrous and righteous in our eyes.

"If our hope is in God for a happiness in the eternal world — then we can well afford to reconcile ourselves to all the dispensations of Divine providence concerning this world." (Matthew Henry)

The consideration that all our afflictions are appointed by our loving heavenly Father, should silence all complaints. It did so with David. He knew they came not by chance, but according to divine appointment.

After months of acute suffering, and still in agony of body, the last words of John Calvin were, "Lord, You grind me to powder, but it suffices me because it is Your hand."

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 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 12:10-11

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The divine art of sympathy

(J.R. Miller)

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are" Hebrews 4:15

No books nor universities can teach us the divine art of sympathy.

We must be strongly tempted ourselves — before we can understand what others suffer in their temptations.

We must have deep sorrow ourselves — before we can be true comforters of others in their times of sorrow.

We must walk through the deep valley ourselves — before we can be guides to others in the same shadowy valleys.

We must feel the strain, and carry the burden, and endure the struggle ourselves — and only then can we be touched with the feeling of sympathy, or can give help to others in life's stresses and overwhelming needs. So we see one compensation of suffering — it prepares us for being helpers to others.

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Fixing our eyes on Jesus!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:2

This is how I am justified and forgiven. Not by the hopeless endeavor to win and fight my way to the favor of God and the Celestial City — but by looking to Jesus only, and by leaning on Him absolutely.
"Nothing in my hands I bring,
 Simply to Your cross I cling!"

This is how I find assurance. I am tossed with tempest, overcast with doubt, haunted with fear — while I scrutinize my own frames and feelings. But when I fix my gaze steadfastly on Him, so all-sufficient, so perfect — the morning awakens and the shadows decay; behold, the winter is past, and the flowers appear! For my own comfort, I would see Him as a glorious Sun filling my sky.

This is how I grow holy. While indeed I am bidden work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, it must not be as if everything depended on me. It must rather be by a perpetual faith in Him, and a perpetual prayer to Him, who works in me to will and to do according to His good purpose! The battle is not mine, but His. He sows the seed, and He ripens the harvest. He lays the foundation, and He puts the top-stone in its fitting place.

This is how I shall be glorified in the end. Self will have vanished in the better country, and Christ will be ALL! I shall follow the Lamb wherever He goes. I shall find my safety, my peace, my victory — in keeping very close to Him. He will be familiar, and yet He will be new every morning. And I shall discover in Him a subject of study, and wonder, and worship, and love — which is illimitable and unfathomable!

"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:2

Today's Puritan Audio Devotional:

A love-letter sent to you from God
Thomas Watson, precious

Play Audio! Download Audio

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Home happiness depends on the wife

(J.R. Miller)

Home is the true wife's kingdom. There, first of all places, she must be strong and Christly. She may touch life outside in many ways — if she can do it without slighting the duties that are hers within her own doors. But if any calls for her service must are declined — they should not be the duties of her home. These are hers alone — and not another's.

Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust — the happiness and the highest good of the hearts that nestle in the home. The best husband — the truest, the noblest, the gentlest, the richest-hearted — cannot make his home happy, if his wife is not, in every reasonable sense, a helpmate to him.

In the last analysis, home happiness depends on the wife.

Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere.

Her hands fashion its beauty.

Her heart makes its love.

And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine — that no wife should consider any price too great to pay — to be the light, the joy, the blessing, the inspiration of her home!

The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity — is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our Arabian wilderness!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me . . . I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia." Galatians 1:15-17

Paul went away from all human contact for several years, in order to spend time alone with God in the Arabian wilderness.

The newborn soul needs solitude, that, apart from the strife of tongues and the din of the world, it may meditate on those marvelous things which God has done for it. That it may frame a larger, deeper, more adequate conception of what salvation really is. That its gratitude may become more precise and more profound. That, with nothing and no one to distract, it may dedicate itself quietly and fully to its Lord.

The Bible teacher needs solitude, that he may apprehend the breadth and length and depth and height of that great, majestic, illimitable book he is to proclaim. That he may seize hold of the truth of God — and that the truth of God may seize hold of him. That the truths of Scripture may become, more than ever, his own possession and exceeding joy. And then, out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth will speak.

Every saint needs solitude, that he may shake off the dust and grime of worldliness and sin. That, waiting on the Lord, he may renew his strength. That a fresh unction from the Holy One may make him spiritually wise and strong.

In Arabia, as he came forth from the cloud, the face of Moses shone. In Arabia, the soul of Paul duly took and strongly kept the print of Heaven.

Ah, there are none of us who can venture to dispense with our Arabian wilderness!

Is it my custom and my delight to go by myself to a quiet place, and rest awhile with Jesus? (Mark 6:31)

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne!" Revelation 5:6

"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:11-12

The Lamb of God is the center of this mystic and glowing book of the Revelation.

There is the Lamb with His wounds — the Lamb that was slain. Even in Heaven He carries those scars of His passion and death. Even in Heaven I shall be perpetually reminded that I owe everything to Calvary, and to Him who was both Victor and Victim there!

There is the Lamb in His royalty — the Lamb in the center of the Throne. The Head that once was crowned with the sharp thorns — is crowned with regal glory now! I rejoice in it for Christ's sake. I rejoice in it for my own sake, for what is there which He cannot do for me — His little one? Over the world of nature and men, over unseen principalities and powers — He rules that He may befriend my soul.

There is the Lamb with His shepherding of His own people — the Lamb shall lead them. To all eternity He will shepherd me, feed me, protect me, uphold me! I shall never be able to dispense with Him. I shall never wish to stand alone, outside His keeping and His care. Through the everlasting years, I shall avow myself my dear Lord's debtor.

There is the Lamb in His triumphs — the Lamb shall overcome them. So, one day, I shall see all my enemies routed and dead. One happy day, I shall be entirely freed from the antagonism and harassment of my sins! He who is for me, is mightier than the hosts arrayed against me!

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty! They will behold a far-distant land!" Isaiah 33:17

If God is mine, then I shall dwell on high with Him forever. I am traveling to a world where I shall be fully satisfied.

My intellect will have her blessing then. Just now I am learning many glorious lessons in the school of Jesus; but there are questions of the mind which remain unanswered, and problems which are still unsolved. But by and by I shall know even as also I am known — clearly, unerringly, perfectly.

My conscience will have her blessing then. Since Christ became mine, her troublesome accusations have been stilled, and her governing power has been restored. But she has her fears even yet, and her difficulties and uncertainties. It is not quite the full noon in the realm of conscience. But, when she walks with the Lamb in white, all the shadows will be gone.

My will, too, will have her blessing then. By the grace of God, I have an obedient will now, whose delight is to run the way of the Master's commandments. Yes — but traces of the old rebelliousness linger within me, to my own sorrow and shame. When I see the King, I shall gladly serve Him day and night!

And my heart will have her blessing then. Jesus has met her craving for love; and yet she is crying out for more of His presence and Himself — more and more! But, in the far-distant land, my heart's most daring requests will find their fullest response, and she is content and at rest.

What stores of happiness, what rivers of pleasures, are at His right hand!

"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore!" Psalm 16:11

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

When his horse died

(J.R. Miller, "Help for the Day")

"At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised!" Job 1:20-21

There are troubles or misfortunes which have already passed — so why should we vex ourselves over these? We cannot help sorrowing when a loved one has been taken from us — but why should we refuse to acquiesce in the will of God? When some misfortune has taken money from us, or when some turn in affairs has hurt our worldly interests — why should we sit down and grieve over the loss?

Worry will not retrieve it, nor give us back the old favorable conditions! It is a great deal more sensible for us to face the fact of our diminished resources, or to accept the new and changed conditions — adjusting ourselves to them, and go right on with our life.

He was a wise traveler who, when his horse died, said, "Well, I must walk now," and traveled on with cheerful energy.

"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 3:13-14

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

His infinite Majesty — His ineffable Tenderness

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm . . . He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." Isaiah 40:10-11

The all-powerful Sovereign Lord — is loving too. I cannot part with His infinite Majesty — and just as little can I lose sight of His ineffable Tenderness.

Our omnipotent God has . . .
  measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
  marked off the heavens with the breadth of His hand,
  held the dust of the earth in a basket, and
  weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance!
All nations are as nothing before Him! Thus . . .
  He can prevail against my fiercest temptations;
  He can satisfy my profoundest needs;
  He can deal with my foulest sins;
  He can put to flight my most persistent and remorseless enemies;
  He can perfect that which concerns me.
I rejoice in His sovereign omnipotence!

Ah, but also, "He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." His graciousness is deeper, larger, more patient, more steadfast than a mother's! Thus, His compassions will never fail me. Though I am poor and needy — yet He will think upon me. I am a bruised reed, a flickering candle — but He will not break my frail strength, nor quench my flickering light. I rejoice in His measureless love!

"One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong, and that You, O Lord, are loving!" Psalm 62:11-12

The Power without the Love, would crush me to the earth.
The Love without the Power, would fail when it sought to deliver me.
I crave both in harmony and union. And He gives me both.
His omnipotence prevails over my impotence; and His gentleness fastens my heart to His.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Oh happy, happy slave!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life!" Romans 6:22

I am freed — in order to be enthralled. I am made free from sin — to become the bond-servant of God. But whereas the old vassalage was abject slavery — the new is the highest and sweetest and best liberty.

It is the servitude of my grateful heart. God has redeemed me not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ His dear Son! I owe Him life and peace and everything. I cannot but surrender myself, to Him who surrendered Himself for me.

It is the servitude of my adoring and worshiping heart. The vision of God's beauty, God's perfection, God's love-worthiness, has thrown its spells and charms over me. I am smitten with the hunger and thirst to resemble Him. I am enthralled to His enchantments.

It is the servitude of my obedient heart. I have bound His precepts and injunctions around me like chains of gold! The yoke of His precepts lies upon my neck. But I do not find these commandments grievous; to keep them is my great reward.

It is the servitude of my God-occupied heart. He has come Himself and made His abode in me, through His Holy Spirit given to me. From within He rules me far more than from without. And so, rejoicingly and inevitably and eternally, I yield myself to Him!

Oh happy, happy slave! There is a perpetual song on his lips as he goes about the tasks of his Golden Prince.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The blemishes and faults of others

(J.R. Miller)

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8

We should learn to look at the blemishes and faults of others — only through the eyes of love, with sympathy, patience, and compassion. We do not know the secret history of the lives of others around us. We do not know what piercing sorrows have produced the scars we see in people's lives. We do not know the pains and trials which make life hard, to many with whom we are tempted to be impatient. If we knew all the secret burdens and the heart-wounds which many keep hidden beneath their smiling faces — we would be patient and gentle with all people.

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

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"How much better is it to get wisdom than gold!" Proverbs 16:16

How much better — for wisdom buys what gold cannot procure. Wisdom — the mind which hearkens to God and the heart which yields to Him — brings me . . .
  His divine favor,
  His forgiving grace,
  His power to shield me,
  His guidance to lead me,
  His knowledge to inspire me,
  His glory to crown me!

Wisdom secures for me a wealth beside which the greatest treasures of the world are but dross!

Wisdom penetrates where gold cannot go. It carries pardon and peace into the deepest recesses of my spirit — while gold can do nothing but deck my body and my home. It gives me the strongest and the tenderest influence over others — while gold cannot dispel their griefs and answer their doubts. It lifts me into communion with the Most High God — and gold is powerless to lead me there, to that glorious country far beyond the stars!

Wisdom endures when gold is gone. This world's riches take to themselves wings and flee away — almost every day furnishes me with a new instance of how fleeting and perishable they are. But wisdom makes mine the possessions which never perish, which are never withdrawn, which through life and death and eternity, are certain to gladden my soul!

"Wisdom is supreme — so get wisdom!" Proverbs 4:7

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This was how he grew in spiritual strength and nobleness!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others!" Philippians 2:3-4

Did Paul live a depressed and dismayed life, because he was perpetually denying himself out of love for others? Not at all. The very reverse is true. This was how he grew in spiritual strength and nobleness!
The discipline prospered his own soul.
It gave him wisdom and insight.
It gave him courage and endurance.
It gave him sympathy and considerateness.
It gave him deep restfulness and glowing joy.
By it he gained inward vigor, and the glow of spiritual health, and spiritual life in its fire and force and fullness.

And this was how he won the hearts of men and women. They saw that his was a yearning tenderness for them, which made him unconcerned for his own comforts. And so others were conquered, and melted, and led willing prisoners to the Lord Jesus. He drew them by the magnetism of his love for them — and they followed on.

And this was how he learned the secret of fellowship with Jesus. "Even Christ did not please Himself" Romans 15:3. The servant Paul came very close to the Master, and the Master to the servant, just as the servant took up his cross and gloried in it as he carried it in his arms. His little lamp was lighted from the flame around the Savior's sacrifice.

So Paul lived in a noble place, because he looked perpetually not on his own interests — but on the interests of others. Let me master this truth. I shall never regret the surrender and sacrifice of my desires and interests. It is for my own good, as well as my Lord's wish and will.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He loved them to the uttermost!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the uttermost!" John 13:1

This is . . .
  love in its essence,
  love in its consummate blossom and fruit,
  love in its ultimate and final perfection.

The love of Jesus bends very low. It travels from Heaven to earth — and there is no science which can compute that distance. It seeks out the chief of sinners — and all human philanthropy is as nothing compared to His all-surpassing love. It is not ashamed even of me — me in all my depravity and my sin.

The love of Jesus gives very much. It wins my pardon, although my transgressions are scarlet in their dye, and countless in their multitude. It brings me holiness, although I am prone to evil. It fills my cup to overflowing with the rich and gladdening wine of Heaven!

The love of Jesus suffers very deeply. It was not by some word of kingly majesty alone — it was not easily and in a moment — that He made me the possessor of these incalculable blessings. God spared not His own Son. The Son spared not Himself. There was no bitterness from which He shrank — there was no punishment which He did not bear, for me!

The love of Jesus lasts very long. What shall separate me from it?
Life will not, with its manifold trials and temptations.
Death will not, with its icy chill.
Eternity will not, with its unending years!

"I pray that you may grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge!" Ephesians 3:17-19

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

There never was a fountain like this!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity!" Zechariah 13:1

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

There is another river, the streams of which make glad the City of God. It is a river whose waters are crimson red, rather than crystal clear. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin — His life-blood, shed for our redemption on the shameful tree.

So many have proved the potency of this blessed fountain — a great multitude which no man can number! From the East and the West, the North and the South; from the early dawn of Christ, and the modern home — they have pressed to its brink, and they are pressing still. Whoever is willing, may stoop down and drink and live!

Such continuous and permanent efficacy resides in the fountain. It is not like the Pool of Bethesda, endowed with a strange and vitalizing virtue only at intervals. The dear dying Lamb never loses His power to save. The Cross is at every moment, the instrument of pardon. The blood cleanses — retains its capacity of cleansing perennially, age after age.

And so universally and omnipotently successful these blood-red waters are. From all my sin they will purge me:
  my secret sins — and my presumptuous sins,
  my sins of youth — and my sins of old age,
  my sins against others — and my sins against myself,
  my sins when I was a stranger to God — and my darker and more hateful sins since I came home to Him.

There never was a fountain like this! Exploration has not discovered its like, nor has imagination ever conceived it! It is peerless, matchless, unique. Surely I have washed and am daily washing in it, that I may be clean!

    There is a fountain filled with blood
    drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
    and sinners plunged beneath that flood
    lose all their guilty stains!

    The dying thief rejoiced to see
    that fountain in his day;
    and there may I, though vile as he
    wash all my sins away!

    Dear dying Lamb, Your precious blood
    shall never lose its power
    till all the ransomed church of God
    be saved, to sin no more!

    E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream
    Your flowing wounds supply,
    redeeming love has been my theme,
    and shall be till I die!

    When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
    lies silent in the grave,
    Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
    I'll sing Your power to save!
(William Cowper, 1731-1800)

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings?

(Horatius Bonar, "Self-Denial Christianity")

"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!" Amos 6:1

What do we say to . . .
  our self-indulgence,
  our spiritual sloth,
  our love of ease,
  our avoidance of hardship,
  our luxury,
  our pampering of the body,
  our costly feasts,
  our silken couches,
  our brilliant furniture,
  our gay attire,
  our jeweled fingers,
  our idle mirth,
  our voluptuous music,
  our jovial tables, loaded with every variety of rich viands?

Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings?

Where is the self-denial of the New Testament days?

Where is the separation from a self-pleasing luxurious world? Where is the cross, the true badge of discipleship, to be seen — except in useless religious ornaments for the body, or worse than useless decorations for the sanctuary?

"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!"
Is not this the description of multitudes who name the name of Christ? They may not be "living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry." But even where these are absent, there is 'high living' — luxury of the table or the wardrobe — in conformity to 'this present evil world.'

"At ease in Zion!" Yes! there is the shrinking . . .
  from hard service;
  from 'spending and being spent;'
  from toil and burden-bearing and conflict;
  from self-sacrifice and noble service;
for the Master's sake.

There is conformity to the world, instead of conformity to Christ!
There is a laying down, instead of a taking up of the cross.
Or there is a lining of the cross with velvet, lest it should gall our shoulders as we carry it!
Or there is an adorning of the cross, that it may suite the taste and the manners of our refined and intellectual age.

Anything but the bare, rugged and simple cross!

We think that we can make the strait gate wider, and the narrow way broader, so as to be able to walk more comfortably to the heavenly kingdom. We try to prove that 'modern enlightenment' has so refined 'the world and its pleasures', that we may safely drink the poisoned cup, and give ourselves up to the inebriation of the Siren song.

"At ease in Zion!" Even when the walls of our city are besieged, and the citadel is being stormed!

Instead of grasping our weapons, we lie down upon our couches!

Instead of the armor, we put on the silken robe!

We are cowards, when we should be brave!

We are faint-hearted, when we should be bold!

We are lukewarm, when we should be fervent!

We are cold, when we should be full of zeal!

We compromise and shuffle and make excuses, when we should lift up our voice like a trumpet! We pare down truth, or palliate error, or extenuate sin — in order to placate the world, or suit the spirit of the age, or 'unify' the Church.

Learn self-denying Christianity. Not the form or name, but the living thing. Let us renounce the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day!

A self-indulgent religion has nothing in common with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or with that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after Him — renouncing ease and denying self.

Our time,
our abilities,
our money,
our strength —
are all to be laid upon the altar.

"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!"
Amos 6:1

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God makes no mistakes in dealing with His children!

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

"Here a great number of disabled people used to lie — the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years!" John 5:3-5

That was a long time to be sick! It is very hard to be an invalid year after year!

This day's lesson may come to some who have been thus afflicted, and we should stop a minute to think about their case. Christian invalids have many comforts, if they will but take them to heart. God makes no mistakes in dealing with His children! He knows in what school they will learn the best lessons — and in what experiences they will grow best.

The furnace-fires of sickness burn off many a chain of sin and worldliness! Many who are now in Heaven, will thank God forever for their invalidism in this life — which kept them from sin. We may be sure that God never calls any of His children into sickness without a purpose of blessing them. There is . . .
  some spiritual lesson which He wants to teach them;
  some new glimpse of His love which He wants to show them;
  some Christian virtue or grace which He wants to develop in them.

Sick-rooms should always be to us sacred places, as we remember that God has summoned us there for some special work upon our souls.

We need to be very careful lest we miss the good which He wants us to receive. It is only those who trust Christ and lie upon His bosom — who are blessed by sickness. Too many invalids grow discontented, unhappy, sour and fretful. Sickness ofttimes fails to do good to those who suffer. There are few experiences in which we so much need to be watchful over ourselves, and prayerful toward God. Be sure to keep the sickness out of your heart — and keep Christ there with His love and peace!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

To be a Christian

(J.R. Miller)

Consecration to God is nothing less than doing the will of Christ, rather than our own will — doing it always, whatever . . .
  the cost,
  the sacrifice,
  or the danger.

There is too much mere pretense in our religion. We say that we believe in Christ; but if we truly do, we must follow Him wherever He leads, though we don't know where. We say we love Christ, and from His lips comes the crucial test: "If you love Me — keep My commandments."

To be a Christian is to be devoted utterly, and irrevocably, to Christ!

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

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

To the uttermost!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"He is able to save to the uttermost!" Hebrews 7:25

My Lord Jesus Christ is able to save me to the uttermost!

He is able to save me to the uttermost depth of my need. Science is now sounding the lowest abysses of the ocean; but there is no science, nor thought, nor imagination, which can send its plummet to the bottom of Christ's unsearchable grace!
Down to my sharpest sorrow He goes,
down to my profoundest loneliness,
down to my keenest temptation,
down to my foulest sin!
He traveled from Heaven to Calvary to atone for my sin; and I know of no descent which He will not make today.

He is able to save me to the uttermost limit of my nature. And such a many-faceted nature mine is! The intellect has its demands, and the memory, and the conscience, and the imagination, and the will, and the heart — each of them cries out for a separate satisfaction. And each of them finds it in Jesus!
He answers the questions of my intellect.
He plucks the deepest sorrows from my memory.
He cancels the accusations of my conscience.
He paints  the noblest pictures in my imagination.
He renews and directs my will.
He fills my heart with His love.

He is able to save me to the uttermost verge of my life.
My various conditions and experiences,
my conflict and my calm,
my work and my rest,
my gladness and my grief —
He blesses me through them all. Lo, He is with me all the days, even unto the end, and through the end, and beyond the end forever and ever! Death cannot part me from Him. Eternity will only draw me closer to Him. To the ages of the ages — He is mine, and I am His!

Christ's uttermost leaves me no more to desire!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Earth's nests

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

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!"  Deuteronomy 33:27

Embracing arms suggest a father's love, or the love of a very dear and trusted friend. It is very sweet for a child to nestle thus in the arms of father and mother.

The embrace suggests not only affection — but support, protection, shelter, and secure keeping. The strongest and gentlest human arms will some day fall away, unclasping their embrace. But the arms of God are "everlasting." Nothing can ever unbind them from us. Nothing can ever snatch us out of those arms!

We know that when once enfolded in the love of God — we shall be kept there forever. Whatever human arms may have dropped away from their embrace, or may hereafter drop away — you know that the arms of God will always enfold you in warm, tender, strong affection!

Another precious word in this old text is the word "underneath." The arms of God are always underneath. No matter how low one sinks away in suffering, or weakness, or pain, or trial — still and always, God's everlasting arms are underneath His redeemed people!

I want you to feel . . .
  that God's love is everlasting,
  that His grace is eternal,
  that His protection is something which never can be disturbed.

Earth's nests are all liable to be torn to pieces, for nothing in this poor world is stable and sure. Even the giant mountain peaks shall molder away. But the love of God remains forever the same. "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you."

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My portion!

(James Smith, "Gleams of Grace" 1860)

"You are my portion, O Lord!" Psalm 119:57

Many people are proud of their possessions, and boast of their wealth; yet their possessions are very limited, and their wealth has wings and may at any time flee away!

A Christian may not be proud — but he has great reason to be thankful.

He can look over the whole earth, and say, "My wealth exceeds all this!"

He can look up and gaze on the starry heavens and say, "My property exceeds this vast expanse!"

He may try to conceive of the greatness and glory of the created universe, and then say, "I claim more than all this!"

Looking up to the author, owner, and disposer of all worlds — he can say, "You are my portion, O Lord!"

What a privilege! A portion — and such a portion.
God Himself in all His greatness, and in all His goodness.
God with all He is, and all He has — is my portion!

What kind of a portion is this? It is immense, for it comprehends all.

All the attributes of the Divine nature, are for us.
All the perfections of God's character, are on our side.
All the productions of the divine power, are for our good.
Therefore the apostle says, "All things are yours!"
Nothing good is withheld from us!

What the father of the prodigal said to his eldest son — our heavenly Father says to every one of His children, "Son, you are ever with Me, and all that I have is yours!"

And we may adopt similar language in speaking to our heavenly Father, to that used by the angel to Abraham, "By this I know that You love me, because You have not withheld Your Son, Your only Son from me!" And from this fact, we may draw the same conclusion as Paul did, "He who spared not His own Son — but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also, freely give us all things!"

O beloved, God in all the glory of His nature and perfections, God with all His unsearchable riches — is our portion!

What kind of a portion is this? It is immutable. It remains forever. Others may lose their property, or it may become deteriorated and comparatively valueless — but our portion is forever the same.

Speaking of the finest, noblest, and most durable works of creation, the Psalmist says, "In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain the same; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing You will change them, and they will be discarded. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end!" Psalm 102:25-27

Our portion can never be forfeited, or alienated, or reduced in value — because it is the unchangeable God!

Blessed is the man that can say with Jeremiah, "The Lord is my portion, therefore will I hope in Him!" Or with David, "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance!"

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:26

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The man who has God for his portion!

(James Smith, "Gleams of Grace" 1860)

"You are my portion, O LORD!" Psalm 119:57

If God is my portion, then I ought to be content without any other portion. He is . . .
  enough in poverty,
  enough in persecution,
  enough in life,
  enough in death,
  enough for evermore!

If God gives me Himself — then it is more than as if He had given me the whole world, or ten thousand worlds like this! O how happy was the apostle Paul, who knowing God to be his portion could say, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in need!" Philippians 4:11-12

If God is my portion, I ought to be thankful. It is enough. There is no losing it. What dignity, what honor is conferred on the man who has God for his portion! I deserved to be stripped of everything, and to be turned out of God's presence eternally penniless, wretched, and miserable. But instead of this, God in His free grace, in His infinite mercy — gives me . . .
  a mansion,
  a city with eternal foundations,
  a kingdom; more,
  He gives me Himself!
God in all His glory, in all His grace — is mine!

If God is my portion, then I ought to be living upon Him. If I live upon anything outside of God — then I live upon what is finite, and will change. But if I live upon God, I live upon the infinite, and upon what is unchangeable. As a believer, I should live befitting the dignity of my lofty character, position, and prospects. The man of fortune ought not to live like the pauper. Just so, the Christian ought not to live like other men.

If God is my portion, I ought to be making a proper use of it. I should set my portion over and against . . .
  all my pains and privations,
  all my griefs and grievances,
  all my sadnesses and sorrows.
I should look above all my trials and troubles — and rejoice that throughout eternity, I shall have . . .
  eternal ease — instead of pain,
  eternal plenty — instead of privation,
  eternal joy — instead of grief,
  eternal gladness — instead of sadness,
  and eternal bliss — instead of sorrow!

Beloved, is the Lord your portion? Are you living upon Him as such?

But if God is not your portion — then what is?
Where are your thoughts most?
Where do your affections center?
After what do you pursue?
The world? It is a poor, perishing, unsatisfying portion! It will be found insufficient, unsatisfactory, and perishing! Unless God is your portion, you will be . . .
  unsatisfied in life,
  wretched in death, and
  indescribably miserable to all eternity!

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:26

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Your walking through this vast wilderness!

(James Smith, "Gleams of Grace" 1860)

"The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your walking through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything!" Deuteronomy 2:7

Israel's journey from Egypt to Canaan, very well represents and illustrates the believer's journey through the present world unto the promised rest. We have . . .
   to cross a desert,
   to walk through a wilderness,
   to live in entire dependence on God, and
   to be led by his wise and gracious hand.

We may not encroach on the property of the men of this world, nor should we desire it. The reason given Israel for not touching, or taking, any of the land of the children of Esau, is the reason that may be given us, for the Lord your God "has watched your walking through this vast wilderness!" The Lord knows where we are, what we need, and is able to supply us. He is with us, has promised to provide for us — and therefore should be obeyed and honored by us.

"This vast wilderness." What that vast wilderness was to Israel — the world is, or should be, to us.

It was a barren spot — and such is the world; it yields no food for the soul; it gives no satisfaction to the mind. It was generally hot and sultry — and here we are tried by fierce temptations, or fiery afflictions. It is an exhausting and debilitating climate, and often weakens the pilgrim along his way.

It is wearying, as well as exhausting, so that the Christian tires of everything below, and often longs to flee away to a happier climate.

It is dangerous too; here the old serpent the devil, the roaring lion, and a thousand dangerous pitfalls have to be avoided or overcome!

It is as perplexing as it is dangerous, so that unless led by a divine hand, we would never find the path, or reach the promised land.

Its difficulties are great and numerous, and seem to increase the farther we advance. It lies between the plentiful and pleasant land of Egypt, which is left behind — and the more plentiful and pleasant land of Canaan, which is before us. It is often a long, tiresome, trying journey.

"Your walking through this vast wilderness." Walking, not riding. All had to walk. There was no royal road, or comfortable transportation. So we must walk, and walk by faith. We must . . .
  walk every day,
  walk after the Lord's example,
  walk with God,
  walk towards the promised rest,
  walk all weathers, whether sunshine or storm, the wet season or the dry.

All had something to carry — the luggage went with them. Just so, we are all more or less burdened. There is a cross for every one's shoulder, and a burden for every back.

We have to travel too in a mixed company. As it was with Israel, so it is with us. A mixed multitude from of the land of Egypt went along with them — and there is a mixed multitude with us. If all were true pilgrims, then it would help and encourage us; but the false-hearted ones we have to deal with, often hinder and cast us down.

Amidst snares, temptations, and discouragements, we have to press on our way, not knowing what a day may bring forth.

Yet we are not without comfort, nor have we any real reason to be discouraged, for the Lord knows our walking through this vast wilderness.


The Lord knew where they were, and what they were. He knew that they were in the wilderness, for he appointed it; he led them into it, he had conducted them through it.

Just so, we are where we are by divine appointment. It was all arranged and settled in the everlasting covenant. We are not here by chance — but by God's divine decree. The Lord by his unerring providence led us here, and by the same providence he will lead us home.

Our great comfort is, that Jesus has traveled the road before us. He knows by experience what we are now passing through. He suffered, being tempted. He was tried in all points like as we are. His eye rests upon us. He watches us every moment. He observes the difficulties of the road, and the supplies that we need. He sends us all we need, and as we need it. He is engaged to see us safely through the wilderness. He has taken charge of us. He has undertaken for us. He has made ample and suitable provision. He has helped us hitherto, and will help us through the entire journey!

The Christian's journey then is across a desert.
He must walk every step of the road.
The Lord knows all . . .
  his weaknesses and his woes,
  his wants and his foes,
  his fears and his cares,
  his faults and his follies
 — and provides for all.

What is the world to us?

A pleasant spot — or a vast wilderness?
A desirable residence — or a dreary desert?

What are we doing in the world?

Are we settling down in it — or walking through it?

What is our great comfort here?

Is it that the Lord our God knows where we are, what we need, and will supply us? Beloved, our God has so provided for us, that we may not envy the children of Esau, or any of the inhabitants of the land. As Israel was forbidden to beg or steal from their neighbors, because God had blessed them — so we should, "Keep our lives free from the love of money and be content with what we have, because God has said: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you!" Hebrews 13:5

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

People with sore and bruised hearts

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

"When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house — she brought an alabaster jar of perfume" Luke 7:37

It is wonderful how genuine goodness draws to itself . . .
  the unfortunate,
  the troubled,
  the friendless,
  the outcast,
  the fallen.

Wherever Jesus went — these classes always found Him out and gathered about Him. It was because He was the true, unselfish friend of all men. They found sympathy in Him. He would listen to their story. Though He was the sinless One, there was yet no air of "I am holier than you" about Him. He was just as gentle to an outcast sinner — as to a religious Nicodemus. No matter who reached out a hand for help — He was ready to grasp it. One of the truest things ever said of Jesus, was the prophetic word concerning him, "He shall not break a bruised reed!" He always dealt most gently with sore spirits and with bruised hearts!

Those who want to be useful in this world — must have the same qualities as Jesus. There is a kind of false "holiness" which draws nobody to itself — but rather repels. Genuine holiness, however, wins its way everywhere into men's hearts. The secret of it all, is in living "not to be served — but to serve;" in considering one's self not too good to serve the most unworthy of God's creatures. If we live in this world to be served — we shall be of no use to anyone. But if we live to minister to others, yearning to be of service to everyone we meet — then our life will be of great worth. The hungry-hearted and the soul-needy will be drawn to us — and God will love to put work into our hands.

We need, too, to train ourselves to exceeding gentleness in dealing with human souls in their spiritual crises. Many earnest people, in the excess of their zeal — do incalculable harm to those whom they greatly desire to help. People with sore and bruised hearts — usually need loving sympathy and strong, kindly friendship — much more than they need a lecture in theology!

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The increasing rage for novel reading!

(Theodore Cuyler)

Fiction has often been a wholesome relief to a good man's overworked and weary brain. Many of the recent popular novels are wholesome in their tone, and the historical type often instructive.

Exclusive reading of novels is to a person's mind — just what highly spiced food and alcoholic stimulants are to the body. The chief objection to the best of them, is that they excite a distaste in the mind for any serious reading. The increasing rage for novel reading betokens both a famine in the intellect, and a serious peril to the mental and spiritual life.

The honest truth is — that too large a number of today's fictitious works are subtle poison. The plots of some of the most popular novels are based on immorality, and the violation in some form of the seventh commandment.
They kindle evil passions;
they varnish and veneer vice;
they deride marital purity;
they uncover what ought to be hidden;
they paint in attractive hues — what never ought to be seen by any pure eye, or named by any modest tongue.  

Two of the perils which threaten American youths, are a licentious theater and a poisonous literature. One  who has examined many of the novels printed during the last decade, said to me: "The main purpose of many of these books is to knock away the underpinning of the marriage relation of the Bible."

If parents give house-room to trashy or corrupt books, they cannot be surprised if their children give heart-room to "the world, the flesh, and the devil." When interesting and profitable books are so abundant and so cheap, this increasing rage for novels is to me, one of the sinister signs of the times!

"Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness!" 2 Timothy 2:22

[Editor's note: One can only wonder what Culyer would say about the immoral and insipid media which paralyze, pollute and poison the minds and hearts of the vast majority of professing Christians today!]

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Gracious God, anoint me with fresh oil!

(James Smith, "Gleams of Grace" 1860)

"I shall be anointed with fresh oil." Psalm 92:10

The work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, is of the greatest importance.
Until we experience it, we are dead in sin.
Having once enjoyed it, we often need its renewal.
The work of the Holy Spirit in the heart is variously represented in God's Word, and is compared to a variety of things. In one place, to the reviving and refreshing influences of the dew. In another, to the quickening and fructifying effects of the shower. Again, the Psalmist sings, "I shall be anointed with fresh oil."

Oil is a common emblem of the Spirit, who is called "the anointing which you have received." This anointing represents His renewing, sanctifying, and saving operations, as received and enjoyed by all God's people.

This anointing consecrates them as God's kings, and they become the Lord's anointed.

It qualifies them as God's priests, and they become a royal priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ.

This anointing beautifies them, as God's sons, causing their faces to shine, and filling them with joy and peace.

This anointing perfumes them as God's favorites, and all their garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia.

Without this anointing, we cannot . . .
  reign as kings,
  officiate as priests,
  approach God as sons, or
  rejoice before Him as favorites.

The EFFECTS of this anointing are many, and very precious:

This anointing gives us fresh views of Christ, and every sight of Him endears Him more and more to our hearts.

This anointing gives us a deeper experience of the truth, and we know more of its power, sweetness, and savor.

This anointing gives us more power in prayer, and we plead with God and prevail.

This anointing gives us sweeter enjoyment of ordinances, for we see more of Christ in them, and are mightily refreshed through them.

This anointing gives us stronger confidence in God, so that we conquer our doubts and fears, and can trust God in the dark — or in the light; on the mount — or in the valley.

This anointing gives a delightful savor to our conversation, so that we not only speak of Christ with freedom, and of our Christian experience with pleasure — but there is a savor and a power in what we say, which produces a good impression in those that hear.

This anointing preserves us from falling into temptation. Nothing will . . .
  raise us above the world,
  give us power over flesh, or
  make us a match for Satan
like being anointed with fresh oil.

We are regenerated but once — but we may receive the renewings of the Holy Spirit often, and unless we receive these renewings, we shall become dry, barren, lifeless, and cold! There will be . . .
  no delight in prayer,
  little pleasure in ordinances, and
  the Bible itself will become unsavory.

We cannot go on long, or go on happily, without fresh oil. See then, what we all need, "fresh oil." We need daily to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. The earth may as well be expected to be fruitful without sun, rain, or dew — as for our souls to prosper without frequent communications of the Holy Spirit.

We should ardently desire the fresh anointings of the Spirit. He is as necessary to our souls, as the vital air is to our bodies. Our natural lives could as easily be sustained without breath, as our spiritual life without the Holy Spirit. We should earnestly pray to "be filled with the Spirit," that we may "live in the Spirit," and "walk in the Spirit."

Gracious God, anoint me with fresh oil!

We sometimes say, "beware of a religion without Christ," It is of quite as much importance to say, "beware of a religion without the Holy Spirit."

Reader, are you one of God's anointed ones? Have you received an unction from the Holy One? Does the Spirit of God dwell in you? Beware, O beware, of a religion without the Holy Spirit! If the Holy Spirit is in you, He will daily . . .
   teach you your need of Christ,
   bring you to Christ,
   make Christ precious to you, and
   lead you to glory in Him, and in Him alone.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Common mercies!

"God has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14:17

We ofttimes forget that the common mercies of life are evidences of our Father's loving thought and care for His children. There is no such thing as 'chance' in this world. God sends the rains, orders the seasons, and brings the harvests. In enjoying the gifts — we should not forget the Giver. In accepting and using the blessings — we should not fail to see the Hand which brings them to us! (J.R. Miller)

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

"What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits to me?" Psalm 116:12

The Christian, as he journeys onwards in the pathway of life, ought frequently to look back, and review the way by which God has led him. If we would keep alive our gratitude — if we would have it to increase more and more, until, like a holy flame, it burns within us — we must often, in thought, retrace the varied turnings and windings of our earthly pilgrimage.

We are so prone, amid our daily duties and our interaction with the world, to forget and overlook the divine benefits received, that only by a careful and frequent retrospect, can we continue, from day to day, cherishing a spirit of true and ever-increasing thankfulness to God. But, the oftener we make the review, the greater cause will we have for saying, with David, "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my father's house, that you have brought me hitherto?"

Christian! you cannot indeed reckon up all the benefits you have received from the hand of God — for they are as numerous as the stars of heaven or the drops of the mighty ocean! Your common mercies — alas! too lightly valued . . .
  the air you breathe,
  the return of the gladsome sunlight,
  the succession of the seasons, and
  the quiet and gentle stillness and repose of night
 — all these, with their unnumbered host of attendant blessings, are scattered on your path! (John MacDuff)

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Let us praise God for common mercies, for they prove to be uncommonly precious — when they are once taken away! (Charles Spurgeon)

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The sweet and quiet influence of your life!

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

"God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1 Thessalonians 4:7

I know Christians who are not brilliant, who never do any great things — but whose lives are so true, so consistent, so Christlike, that wherever they go, they carry in their very presence a bit of heavenly sunshine.

Concerning one of these, a friend said a few years ago, standing by the coffin of the young woman who had been called home, "Wherever she went, flowers grew in her pathway, and the air was always sweeter when she entered the room." This is true of certain lives, even apart from what they do. Of course, it is the godly life and character, which makes the pleasant face, and which gives to the presence its strange power.

May God give you grace always to be a blessing wherever you go, not only in the things you do and the things you say — but still more in the sweet and quiet influence of your life.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight!" 1 Peter 3:3-4

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

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Giver — and the Taker!

(John MacDuff)

"The Lord gave — and the Lord has taken away! Blessed be the name of the Lord!" Job 1:21

Noble posture this — to kneel and to adore! To see no hand but ONE! Sabeans, Fire, Whirlwind, Sword — are all overlooked. The Patriarch alone recognizes that it is "the Lord" who gave, and "the Lord" who has taken away.

What is the cause of so much dejection, needless sorrow, and unchristian murmuring — in our hours of trial; and our inability to sincerely say, "May the will of the Lord be done!" It is a refusal to hear His voice; His own loving voice, mingling with the accents of the wildest storm: "It is I! Do not be afraid!"

"When disaster comes to a city — has not the Lord caused it?" Amos 3:6

Is there a bitter drop in your cup — and the Lord has not mingled it?

The Lord loves His people too well — to entrust their interest to any other. We are but clay in the hand of the Potter; earthen vessels in the hand of the Refiner of silver. He metes out our portion. He appoints the bounds of our habitation.

"The Lord God prepared the gourd! The Lord God prepared the worm!" He is the Author alike of mercies and sorrows; of comforts and crosses. He breathes into our nostrils the breath of life; and it is at His summons, that the spirit returns "to the God who gave it!"

Oh, that we would seek to regard our own lives and the lives of those dear to us — as a loan from the Divine Bestower. God, as the Great Proprietor, when He sees fit — can revoke the grant or curtail the lease He gave! All our mercies are . . .
  bestowed by Him;
  continued by Him; 
  withdrawn by Him!

And how often does He take away — that He Himself may enter the vacuum of the heart, and fill it with His own ineffable presence and love! No loss can compensate for the lack of Him — but He can compensate for all losses! Let us trust His love and faithfulness, as a "taking" as well as a "giving" God. May we trust His heart — when we cannot trace His hand!

Often are Sense and Sight tempted to say, "Not so, Lord!" But Faith, resting on His promise, can exult in this Rainbow spanning the darkest cloud, "Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure!"

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

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace!

(James Smith, "Gleams of Grace" 1860)

"The Lord Almighty says: Behold! The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace! On that day the proud and the wicked will be burned up like stubble. They will be consumed — roots, branches, and all!" Malachi 4:1

1. THE TERRIBLE FACT. "Behold! The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace!"

The element of punishment is fire — the fiercest, most powerful, most penetrating, and most destructive of the elements!
Fire, and plenty of it, for it is a lake of fire!
Fire glowing with fierceness, fire strengthened, contracted, and fed, for it shall burn as a furnace!
This will be more dreadful than Nebuchadnezzar's burning fiery furnace — more than the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It will be so terrible that . . .
  no words can set it forth,
  no imagery can represent it,
  no mind can conceive it!

The punishment will be irresistible. It is devouring fire. There will be no standing against it. As when the prairie is on fire, and floods of flame come sweeping along — there is no resisting, no escaping it. In the same way, none can resist, or escape from the devouring fire with which the day of judgment shall be ushered in.

The punishment will be eternal.
It is everlasting burnings.
It is unquenchable fire.
It will feed on sinners — but never consume them.
It will punish — but never annihilate them.
It will begin — but never end.
It is forever!
Everlasting punishment!
Eternal fire!

Yet the punishment is just. No one will suffer more than he deserves. Every sufferer's conscience will be satisfied that his punishment is his just due. No one will be able to charge God with cruelty or injustice; for God will have a witness in every man's bosom, that He is doing right. Every sufferer will be silenced with the conviction that he is only receiving the just reward of his deeds.

2. THE CHARACTERS DOOMED. "On that day the proud and the wicked will be burned up like stubble!"

"The proud." Proud professors — and proud worldlings. All who unduly value themselves, and despise others. All, who are too proud to submit to the righteousness of God, or to bow to be saved in the same way, by the same grace, as the thief on the cross, or the immoral woman. All who in the pride of their hearts reject the gospel, put away the invitations of the Savior, and refuse to be reconciled to God. All who despise the poor saints, on account of their poverty; or any of the Lord's little ones, on account of their infirmities. The proud always . . .
  exalt man,
  insult God,
  yield to Satan, and
  grieve the Holy Spirit.
God resists the proud — but gives grace to the humble.

A proud sinner cannot be saved. Pride is the root — and wickedness is the fruit. The proud are always wicked, and therefore the proud, even all who  do wickedness, are doomed to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire!

"The wicked." That is,
all who will not observe God's law, to walk by it,
all who will not embrace Christ's gospel, to be saved by it,
all who will not fly to the refuge, provided for the guilty.

3. THE DOOM. "They will be burned up like stubble!" They shall be as stubble dried by the eastern sun, on which the flame seizes, feeds, and strengthens.
They shall be fuel for everlasting burnings!
They shall be utterly consumed with terrors!

Their destruction shall be complete. "They will be consumed — roots, branches, and all!" It shall leave them no ROOT — no hope remaining. While there is a root, there is hope — but when the root is gone, there is no hope.

It shall leave them no BRANCH — there shall be no beauty left. All will be gloom, misery, and woe!

This is certain, for God Himself speaks. He speaks as the God of war, "Behold! The Lord Almighty says!" Here is . . .
  majesty — but not mercy;
  power — but not pity;
  judgment — but not compassion!

How fearsome is divine majesty, stripped of mercy!
How dreadful is omnipotence, when there is no pity!
How direful is judgment, when there is no compassion!