Grace Gems for MARCH, 2014

Grace Gems for MARCH, 2014

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Noah's Ark!

(Edward Griffin, "NOAH'S ARK")

"HE wiped out every living thing that was on the surface of the ground, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they were wiped off the earth! Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark!" Genesis 7:23

Finally, the frightful morning began! The heavens gathered blackness. Angry tempests conflicted in the skies. The lightnings flashed over the world! Word was spread, that Noah and his family had entered into the ark. The ungodly then began to fear!

Before long, floods of water poured from the sky. Some now began to turn their eyes towards the ark; others stood doubting; others still dared to scoff!

The waters go on to increase. The rivers fill — and start to overflow. The waters begin to rise in the streets. Some flee into their houses; others, more intimidated, hasten to the hills! Others are now convinced, and with dreadful fright, are seen wading towards the ark!

The fountains of the great deep are now broken up! The waters rise more rapidly, and begin to rush with impetuous force. With difficulty they stand against the stream. They struggle for their lives to reach the ark! Thousands come — some wading, some swimming, some sinking, some hanging onto the ark with the grasp of death — all screaming for admission!

But it is too late! Time was, when the ark was open and they might have entered in — but that time is past! Where are now those tongues which derided the enormous vessel and the man who built it? Now what do you think of him — who for more than a century has borne the character of a fool and madman! They would give a thousand worlds — to be in his condition now!

Those nearest to the ark, cry and plead for admission, but in vain! The waters roar! The ark is lifted up! They sink and are seen no more!

By this time, every wretch on earth is thoroughly convinced. Hear their cries from the tops of the houses, which are answered by wails from those on the hills. See the multitudes who have fled to the mountains. How like frightened sheep they crowd together! Now the waters, roaring and foaming, have reached their feet! They flee up to the highest ridge — but the floods pursue them there! Some are able to climb the lofty oaks — and the waves overtake them there! They flee to the highest branches, and for a moment have time to reflect on their former madness: "How could I disbelieve the Lord's prophet? Where is now the ark which I scorned? Where am I going? O eternity! eternity! What a dreadful God have I despised!" On the topmost bough, the impetuous torrent sweeps them away! Their hold is broken — and they sink to rise no more!

The ark floats by — and sails over the heads of the revilers and persecutors! Only that blessed family in the ark are safe!

The same terrors will seize an unbelieving world when Jesus comes again! "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and swept them all away! That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man!" Matthew 24:37-39

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The thief!

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

"Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise!"
   Luke 23:42-43

"Twas a thief," Robert Browning writes, "who said the last kind word to Christ."

In the morning the thief was OUT of Christ:
  far from God and far from righteousness,
  the helpless captive of sin,
  the child of despair and death.

At noon the thief was IN Christ:
  remembered graciously by the Savior of the lost,
  redeemed with an everlasting redemption,
  endowed with the new heart,
  and freely and perfectly justified.

In the evening the thief was WITH Christ:
  gazing on the glories of paradise,
  safe at home with his good Shepherd and adorable Redeemer.

What a crowded and memorable day this was in his history! So much was pressed into these few hours. Such a glorious and unprecedented transition they brought, from the cruel cross — to Heaven's glory!

OUT of Christ,
then IN Christ,
then WITH Christ!

then grace,
then glory!

Hopelessly lost in the far country,
then safe under the Savior's wings,
then beside the Lord on His glorious throne!

Are these the three stages in my spiritual biography?

I know the first only too well.
Am I growing more and more familiar with the second?
Is it my joy to look forward to the third?

"I ask not the favor given to Paul," Copernicus said, "I seek not the grace bestowed upon Peter — but I beg the mercy granted to the thief on the cross!"

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My cruel sins!

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

"He was pierced for our transgressions,
 He was crushed for our iniquities;
 the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
 and by His wounds we are healed!" Isaiah 53:5

I had my own part in bringing the unutterable anguish on the Lamb of God! Not the chief priests alone, and Judas the false disciple, and the rough Roman soldiers, and the fickle multitudes — not these alone were His crucifiers.

I wove the crown of thorns for His brow!

I nailed Him to the shameful Tree!

My sin and my guiltiness led Him out to His bitter death!

But I am healed with His stripes. If I am humbled and convicted of sin when I consider Calvary — I am gladdened also. After the midnight of poignant self-accusation — there is the dawn of a divine and endless joy and peace! It was for me, that my Lord's unblemished body was bared and crushed! He assumed my misery — and reaped the bitter harvest I had sown. Thus I, once 'Graceless' of the City of Destruction — but now 'Christian' of the Pilgrim's narrow way — I have rest by His sorrow, and life by His death.

First I am stricken with self-reproach. But, as I linger on the Hill of the Cross — my sorrow is changed into song, and I go on my way with a merry heart.

The blood of Christ ransoms me,
  and His water washes me,
  and His bruises heal me,
  and His sweat refreshes me,
  and His wounds hide me! 

"Ah, you my sins, my cruel sins,
 His chief tormentors were,
 Each of my sins became a nail,
 And unbelief the spear!"
       Isaac Watts

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Christ is never fully valued!

J.C. Ryle)

So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him!" Luke 20:15

This parable shows us the deep corruption of human nature. The conduct of the "wicked farmers" is a vivid representation of man's dealings with God.

Let us often pray that we may thoroughly understand the exceeding sinfulness of man's heart. Few of us, it may be feared, have the least conception of the strength and virulence of the spiritual disease with which we are born. Few entirely realize that "the carnal mind is enmity against God," and that unconverted human nature, if it had the power, would cast its Maker down from His throne!

The behavior of the wicked farmers before us, whatever we may please to think, is only a picture of what every natural man would do to God, if he only could.

To see these things is of great importance, for Christ is never fully valued — until sin is clearly seen! We must know the depth and malignity of our disease — in order to appreciate the great Physician!

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If anything can render us happy, this should!

(James Smith, "The Pleading Savior" 1861)

"All Mine are Yours — and Yours are Mine!" John 17:10

If the Father and the Son have an equal and eternal interest in us — then we are safe, and we should be happy!

SAFE! Yes! Will God part with the objects of His highest love? Never!
Will Jesus surrender the purchase of His own heart's blood? Never!

HAPPY! Yes; if anything can render us happy, this should:
  that we are God's choice — and the Savior's purchase;
  that the Father and the Son jointly claim us, and highly value us!

When we devote all that we have to God — then we may look up and claim all we need from God. Let us, then, . . .
  make over all to God,
  put all into the hands of God,
  consecrate our all to the service of God;
then we can sustain no losses — nor need we be agitated by any fears!

Precious Savior, I am Yours! You have redeemed me with Your most precious blood! Give me grace, that, realizing my obligation to You, and being fired with Your love — I may evermore make Your glory the grand end of my existence! May I live for You — and for You alone. May I seek to honor You above everything!
  In every thought I think,
  in every word I speak,
  in every feeling I indulge,
  in every action I perform —
may I endeavor to glorify Your thrice blessed name!

Two gates, two ways, two ends!

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

"Enter by the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction — and there are many who go in by it.
Because narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way which leads to life — and there are few who find it!" Matthew 7:13-14

There are only two GATES:
One of them wide. Its name is Self . . .
  my own desires,
  my own proud thoughts,
  my own righteousness,
  my own beloved and darling sins,
  my own plans and pleasures.

The other gate is narrow. Its name is Christ — Christ sought with repentance and godly sorrow — Christ followed at any hazard. It is the gate of the crucifixion of Self!

There are only two WAYS:
One of them is broad, easy, pleasant, comfortable, pleasing to the flesh, thronged with multitudes — a primrose path, but always tending downward, and bringing disastrous consequences.

The other way is difficult and narrow, as it were through a gorge between craggy cliffs which nearly meet, haunted by dangers and enemies, chosen by comparatively few. The Christian's toilsome pilgrimage and dangerous journey — ah, how the road climbs up and up!

There are only two ENDS:
One of them is destruction
   dark, hopeless, irretrievable,
   the death of peace,
   the death of hope,
   the death of every good impulse,
   the death of the soul!

The other end is life
   life at its fullest, sublimest, sweetest,
   life without sin and without sorrow,
   life in the land of life and glory,
   life in the presence of Christ to all eternity!

Consciously, deliberately, unequivocally, may I seek . . .
  the narrow gate,
  the difficult way,
  the end which is everlasting life!

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The star of the show!

(A.W. Tozer)

Today's Christianity is man-centered, not God-centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men.

The image of God currently popular, is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heart-broken desperation to get people to accept a Savior of whom they feel no need, and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to His generous offers, God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable.

This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show!

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They are the treasures which His great heart covets!

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

"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, and as she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them!" Luke 7:37-38

Three things this woman gave:

PENITENCE was one. If her sin was dark — her sorrow was deep. If she had been a prodigal daughter — it was with weeping and mourning that she sought again her Father's house.

And LOVE was another. There was something about Jesus — the looks of His countenance, the tones of His voice, His whole manner and bearing — which drew her towards Him with a commanding and irresistible affection.

And SACRIFICE was a third. She spilled and spent her precious ointment on the Savior. She counted all things loss, for His dear sake.

These are the gifts which I must bring to Christ. They are the treasures which His great heart covets! He would rather have my penitence, my love, my sacrifice — than my knowledge, my eloquence, my wealth.

And three things this woman received:

PARDON was one. He said unto her, 'Your sins are forgiven!' The burden of her guilt was loosened from her shoulders, and fell from her back!

And PURITY was another. She went from the Gracious Presence and the Sacred Face — to live a life blessedly new. God her Healer restored the miserable past, which the cankerworm had wasted.

And PEACE was a third. 'Go in peace,' the Lord commanded. And what He commanded, He gave. Hers was now and forever the peace which passes all understanding, "the Rose that cannot wither!"

These are the gifts which I take from Christ. They are the treasures my poor heart needs. His pardon, His purity, His peace — they are more to be desired than a universe of gold, or than the mines where the diamonds and rubies lie!

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In God's cup of salvation!

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

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!" Isaiah 55:1

In God's cup of salvation
, I discover all that I can crave! There is no deficiency here, and no disappointment.

There is water in this cup — the water of spiritual life. I am dying of thirst in the desert — the desert of my sin and guilt. But He puts the cup to my lips, and I live. It brings me . . .
  full and free pardon,
  the remission of all my transgressions,
  His own eternal favor and fellowship,
  the assurance that He is pacified toward me!

There is milk in this cup — the milk of spiritual nourishment. I am frail and powerless . . .
  against temptation,
  against my besetting and beguiling iniquities,
  against the world and the flesh and the devil.
But He puts the cup to my lips, and I am strong. My sanctification is there. His own Holy Spirit is there. I am more than a conqueror now. My weakness, casting itself upon Him — is exchanged for His mightiness!

There is wine in this cup — the wine of spiritual joy. I am restless, uneasy, disillusioned, troubled. My heart has no deep and abiding contentment. I wander into fruitless seedbeds of sorrow, with a proud dejectedness and a cheerless weariness. But He puts the wine-cup to my lips, and I rejoice. For there is the peace of God here, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the victory over the world, and the sure and invincible hope of glory!

Water, milk, wine — and I may have them, now and here, without money and without price! I am at the source of every gracious and glorious thing; and my part is simply to receive my Lord's munificence, and to say farewell to my hunger and thirst, and to be eternally satisfied!

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Christ's sword!

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

"I did not come to bring peace, but a sword!" Matthew 10:34

Not peace, but a sword! Lord Jesus, this is a hard saying! Teach me to believe it, and to submit to the ordeal — sharp and piercing and painful though it may be.

Between me and my world, Christ's sword may pierce with its remorseless edge. He separates me . . .
  from old sinful habits,
  from old sinful employments,
  from old sinful pleasures,
  from old sinful friendships.

He divides me from the society in which I was accustomed to move. "Your home is no longer there!" He says. And I go out from the familiar surroundings, into an untrodden region and realm.

Between me and my nearest and dearest Christ's sword may pierce pitilessly. Perhaps the loved ones of my own house will have nothing to do with my Redeemer and Lord. Perhaps they see no beauty in Him, that they should desire Him. Then, in the deepest and noblest things, they and I will stand apart — a sundering tide rolling between us. And how immeasurably sad that will be!

Between me and myselfChrist's sword is sure to pierce with a blade that does not spare! The I, the self — which used to be so vain, so confident, so proud — must be slain outright! Its days of pride, pleasure and selfishness must end — until I can say, "It is no more I who live — but He — my Prophet, my Priest, my King — who lives in me!" What a change that is! What a martyrdom!

It is painful, this stroke of Christ's sword. But the old confessor was right: "The nearer the sword — the nearer Heaven!" If I am victim — I am victor too. Smitten down by Jesus — I am not destroyed, but crowned!

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Refine it, and sweeten it, and sanctify it!

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

"The tongue has the power of life and death!" Proverbs 18:21

"For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body." James 3:2

My tongue is a great power.
Its words wound — or else they cure.
They poison — or else they bless.
Once they have gone forth from me, shot like arrows into the air — they will find their lodgment, and they will accomplish their errand.
I cannot recall them.
I cannot cancel and undo them.
For weal or for woe — they have sped away from me.

There is a sense in which my words are my deeds; they achieve as much — of mercy or of misery, of healing or of harming — as my actions do.

Far too often my tongue has been an agent of mischief and hurt. It has spoken untenderly or untruly, harshly or hastily.

My tongue has suggested unworthy motives to the deeds of others. It has magnified their failures and errors. It has been a firebrand. It has distributed bitter and corroding acids — instead of the honeycomb. Sometimes it has been the propagandist of actual sin!

My Lord, consecrate and keep this tongue of mine. Refine it, and sweeten it, and sanctify it! May it love . . .
  the voice of prayer,
  the voice of confession,
  the voice of encouragement,
  the voice of consolation and comfort,
  the voice of worship and thanksgiving!

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This poor, shame-soiled, sin-ruined thing!

(J.R. Miller, "The Shining Light" 1911)

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, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them." Luke 7:37-38

"Jesus said to the woman: Your faith has saved you; go in peace!" Luke 7:50

Saved! This poor, shame-soiled, sin-ruined thing, whom the Pharisee would have thrust out of his house into the street! Saved! Never to go back any more to her old life! An heir of Heaven now, destined to walk the heavenly streets in white!

There is an old legend that one in passing along the way, touched a noxious weed, and it became a geranium, and has ever since been a geranium, pouring fragrance everywhere.

No matter about the legend — but Christ did something far more wonderful on the day of our story. He touched this sinful soul — and it was transformed into beauty! That woman has been in glory for eighteen centuries. That is what Christ does for every one who creeps to His feet in penitence and faith!

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Does God know me?

(J.R. Miller, "The Shining Light" 1911)

"I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me. I lay down My life for the sheep." John 10:14-15

Does God know me among the millions of His angels?

Does He ever fix His thought on me as an individual?

Does He have a distinct and personal affection for me, like that of a mother for her child?

Does Christ, the Good Shepherd, give care and thought to each particular sheep, so that He knows each one's present condition and circumstances? Does He know when one of His people is in trouble, is sick or suffering, when one has been hurt in some way, or when one is in danger? Does He know when one strays from the safe enclosure of the fold and wanders off into peril?

The answer to all these questions is the same. Every redeemed one has his own special place in the heart of Christ! Paul put this truth most strikingly in a sentence when he said of Christ: "He loved me, and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20

My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:27-28

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It was sin which wove the crown of thorns!

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

Surely that man must be in an unhealthy state of soul, who can think of all that Jesus suffered — and yet love those sins for which that suffering was undergone!

It was sin which wove the crown of thorns!

It was sin which pierced our Lord's hands and feet and side!

It was sin which brought Him to Gethsemane and Calvary, to the cross and to the grave!

Cold must our hearts be, if we do not hate sin and labor to get rid of it — though we may have to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye in doing it!

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Little sins!

(Thomas Brooks)

"Avoid every kind of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Little sins multiplied, become great. There is nothing less than a grain of sand — yet there is nothing heavier than the sand of the sea when multiplied.

Little sins are very dangerous!
A little leaven, leavens the whole lump.
A little knife, may kill.
A little leak in a ship, may sink it.

Though the scorpion is little — yet will it sting a lion to death! Just so, a little sin may at once bar the door of Heaven, and open the gates of Hell! The least sin will damn us — if not pardoned by the death of Christ!

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These words which I command you today

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

"These words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:6-9

It is well when the Word of God governs my personal life.
It should control my body with its members and passions.
It should solve the puzzling questions of my intellect.
It should answer the indictment, and allay the fears of my conscience.
It should fill my imagination with pure and inspiring pictures.
It should make my will the happy bond-servant of Christ.
It should satisfy the cravings of my heart for the perfect and eternal love.

And it is well when the Word of God governs my home life. When I teach it to the children, when I talk of it sitting in the house and walking by the way, lying down and rising up — I am giving them . . .
  the sublimest theme for meditation,
  the best rule of conduct,
  the strongest safeguard against evil,
  the passport to the family of the Lord and the city of the eternal King.
I am rendering them the most noble service conceivable!

And it is well when the Word of God governs my social life. Let it be written on the posts of my house and on my gates. Then my neighbors will know where I stand, and whom I serve. They will not come to me to talk gossip and scandal, and to whisper away the good name of others with idle tongues. They will not wish me to be a partner with them in any evil work. They will be drawn rather towards the Book and towards the Lord.

In my personal history,
in the relationships of my home,
in my social fellowship —
may God rule through His Word, with an undisputed scepter and a gracious tyranny!

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Satan promises the best — but pays with the worst!

(Thomas Brooks)

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

Satan promises the best — but pays with the worst!
He promises honor — and pays with disgrace.
He promises pleasure — and pays with pain.
He promises profit — and pays with loss.
He promises life — and pays with death.

But God pays as He promises — all His payments are made in pure gold!

"You have made known to me the path of life! You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11

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Earth's glittering prizes!

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

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2

Earth's joys grow dim. Earth's glittering prizes prove transient and unreal.

I desire to be delivered . . .
  from the inanities and vulgarities of the world,
  from the follies of fashion and pleasure,
  from the pride of riches and prestige.

"The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever!" 1 John 2:17

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Greek, Latin, and Hebrew!

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

"And an inscription was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS!" Luke 23:38

Over His head they set up His accusation written, This is Jesus the King of the Jews. In Greek, Latin and Hebrew they wrote it, and "God," as George Herbert says, "God held their hands while they wrote!" For this title was a little gospel, told out in the three great languages of the earth.

If, like the Greeks, I prize beauty and wisdom above everything beside, it says, "Here is Jesus your King!" He, He alone, can create beauty within your soul, can banish its ugliness and make it lovely! He, He alone, can teach you the truest wisdom — the wisdom which answers all your questions and gives you peace.

If, like the Latins, (or Romans) I prize law and government and empire most of all, it says to me, "Here is Jesus your King!" He will bring you under the best law, the most beneficial law, the most gracious law. He will teach you how to govern yourself. He will win for you the empire over my own heart here and now — an empire over all things before very long!

If, like the Hebrews, I prize righteousness far above every other blessing, it says to me, "Here is Jesus your King!" There is none but He who can clothe you in a spotless righteousness, who can cancel your hideous guilt, who can justify you at God's bar, who can lift you into a new realm of pardon and purity!

His enemies meant it for evil — but God meant it for good! He is King of the human heart! And I, too, will bring forth the royal diadem, and will crown Him Lord of all!

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Remember . . .

(Thomas Wilcox, "Honey Out of the Rock")

"Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there!" Deuteronomy 24:18

Remember . . .
  your sins — and Christ's pardoning;
  your deserts — and Christ's merits;
  your weakness — and Christ's strength;
  your pride — and Christ's humility;
  your many infirmities — and Christ's restorings;
  your guilt — and Christ's new applications of His blood;
  your failings — and Christ's assistance;
  your needs — and Christ's fullness;
  your temptations — and Christ's tenderness;
  your vileness — and Christ's righteousness!

"Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years." Deuteronomy 8:2 

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Stop bringing meaningless offerings!

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

"Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations — I cannot bear your evil assemblies! Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts, My soul hates! They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them!" Isaiah 1:13-14

It is not mere outward ritual which God asks from me.

God desires my adoration:
  a sense of His solemn and consummate holiness;
  a bowing low in heart and mind before the sevenfold radiance of His majesty;
  a realizing of His infinite condescension in suffering and dying for me.
I cannot be too reverent when I am face to face with Him.

God desires my confession:
  a feeling of the evil of my doings, not superficial — but deep and penetrating;
  an abhorring of myself, and a repentance in dust and ashes;
  a cry from the depths, "In me dwells no good thing!"
I have need to understand more vividly, more humblingly, the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

God desires my petitions:
  a sincere pouring out of my soul's desires;
  a taking fast hold of God's almighty strength;
  a clinging with both hands earnestly to the Rock of Ages.
Simply, naturally, explicitly, whole-heartedly, let me unbosom my necessities to Him — that He may answer them according to His wise and holy will.

God desires my thanksgiving:
  thanksgiving which is thanks-living also;
  a humble ceasing to do evil, and a patient learning to do well;
  a glad and grateful obedience;
  a bondslave's vow, "I love my Master — I will not go out free!"
Jesus Christ asks all, from the innermost pulsation of conscious being — to the most tangible outworks of my life!

Such is the service my God will welcome — my God who hates all meaningless offerings, and who is wearied with mere ritualism and formality.

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Man's greatest happiness!

(Thomas Brooks)

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

Man's holiness is now his greatest happiness.

In Heaven, man's greatest happiness will be his perfect holiness!

"Let him who does wrong, continue to do wrong;
 let him who is vile, continue to be vile;
 let him who does right, continue to do right;
 and let him who is holy, continue to be holy."
Revelation 22:11

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When I hide myself in the Rock of Ages cleft for me!

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

"As the mountains surround Jerusalem — so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore!" Psalm 125:2

God, to the humble heart that leans on Him, is like the mountains which surround Jerusalem. In the mountain there is safety.

In this dangerous world, I am . . .
  pursued and hunted by principalities and powers,
  in peril of traps and snares and temptations,
  unable to secure my deliverance.
But God in Jesus Christ, becomes . . .
  my Refuge,
  my Rock,
  my Fortress,
  my Shield,
  my Deliverer,
  and my Strength!
I flee to Him, and I am in a secure dwelling — there is no evil which can befall me now. When I hide myself in the Rock of Ages cleft for me — who can separate me from the love of Christ? That Rock Himself would have to crumble, before any harm could come to my soul! I am so weak in itself — yet so strong in its Savior.

In the mountain there is assurance. I feel that the ground is solid and stable underneath my feet. My sorrow and sighing should flee away. My fears should be scattered. The Father and the Son and the Spirit are eternally mine! From all forebodings and anxieties, my Lord means me to be set free.

In the mountain there is everlastingness. My soul is wise when it builds its life-house on the Rock of . . .
  God's promises,
  God's grace,
  God's salvation!
The storm will never be able to blow it down.
The gates of Hell will never prevail against it.
Through the countless and varied changes of my lot — through death and through the long eternity that lies beyond — it will endure, incorruptible, immovable, abiding!

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth! He will not let your foot slip — He who watches over you will not slumber. The Lord watches over you — the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm — He will watch over your life. The Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore!" Psalm 121

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

These peril-beset feet of mine!

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

"He will keep the feet of His saints!" 1 Samuel 2:9

It is a promise for the everyday walk of my life
— the walk of . . .
  the soldier who pushes on, whatever enemies hinder his march;
  the pilgrim from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City;
  the child of God in company with his Father, the human hand linked in the divine.

Am I one of His saints? It seems to me often too high a title to claim. But let me remember that everything depends on what my heart is fixed upon.
The poet dreams about a masterpiece of music he is yet to write,
and the artist dreams about a surpassing picture he will paint one day,
and the sculptor dreams about a statue whose grandeur will draw all eyes.

What then, are my dreams? Are they about one day being . . .
  completely liberated from sin,
  and changed into the image of Christ,
  and perfected in holiness?
Then I am among the saints!

And He will keep my feet. Not from . . .
  the Valley of Humiliation,
  or the Garden of Sorrow,
  or the Hill of Cross-bearing.
No — but from . . .
  the temptation that ensnares me,
  the cliffs and precipices of sin,
  "the delicate plain called Ease,"
  the High Street of an overweening confidence in myself,
  the gloomy mountain-ravines of anxiety and despair.
It is a welcome assurance indeed.

None less than God Himself, keeps these peril-beset feet of mine! He brings many protecting influences into play:
  His precious promises,
  His clear commandments,
  the perfect example of Jesus,
  the influence of those who fear His name,
  the inner grace of His Holy Spirit.
Yes, yes; I walk safely — I walk at liberty — when the charge of my feet is with the all-loving, all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful redeemer-God!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Thomas Watson's choice quotes on affliction

(Thomas Watson)

Affliction is a bitter root — but it bears sweet fruit!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God's afflicting rod is a pencil to draw Christ's image more distinctly upon us.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Affliction is God's flail to thresh off the husks — not to consume the precious grain.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Fiery trials make golden Christians!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God only threshes the precious wheat — but He burns the useless chaff.
He chastens the righteous — but He condemns the wicked.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The godly have some good in them — therefore the devil afflicts them;
and some evil in them — therefore God afflicts them.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Afflictions are sharp arrows — but are shot from the bow of a loving Father!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

For one affliction — we have ten thousand mercies!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

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

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

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

"No chastening 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

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My salvation comes from Him!

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

"My salvation comes from Him!" Psalm 62:1

I see many wonders in God's salvation. It is as many-sided as the ocean with its moods and waves.

There is the wonder of its origin. From HIM it takes its rise and source — oh pregnant pronoun!
From the King against whom I have revolted.
From the Friend whose wishes I have opposed.
From the thrice-holy One, to whom the smallest of my sins is absolutely hateful.
From the Father on whom I have turned my back.
It is He who approaches me with the white flag of peace.
It is He who sacrifices Himself to accomplish my deliverance!

And there is the wonder of its continuousness. Salvation keeps coming — it does not cease. It flows, and deepens, and broadens. God does not weary, though there are ten thousand reasons why He should. The Savior does not lose His sympathy and grace. The Holy Spirit goes on performing His good work. It is an "eternal salvation". Hebrews 5:9

And there is the wonder of its object. It is MY salvation — mine, incredible as that may seem. It is a miracle to me that my past guilt should be pardoned — such a terrible criminality there was in my heart. It is a miracle to me that my present imperfections should be borne with and overcome. Such a forbearing, conquering patience I need — for I am the chief of sinners!

And there is the wonder of its abundance. It is SALVATION which comes to me. Salvation is a palace with many rooms in it. It is a landscape in which many different elements of beauty are found — mountain, and river, and lush pasture-ground, and darker forest, and the silver streak of the sea.

I think of salvation from the divine side — and how much it cost God!

I think of salvation from the human side — and how much it brings to me!

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

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Grace denial

(Octavius Winslow, "The Glory of the Redeemer in His People" )

Be cautious of grace denial.

You will need much holy wisdom here, lest you overlook the work of the Spirit within you.

You have thought, it may be, of the glory that Christ receives from . . .
   brilliant genius,
   and profound talent,
   and splendid gifts,
   and glowing zeal,
   and costly sacrifices,
   and extensive usefulness.

But have you ever thought of the glory, the far greater, richer glory, that flows to Him from . . .
   the contrite spirit,
   the broken heart,
   the lowly mind,
   the humble walk,
   the tear of godly repentance that falls when seen by no human eye,
   the sigh of godly sorrow that is breathed when heard by no human ear,
   the sin abhorrence,
   the self loathing,
   the deep sense of vileness, and poverty, and infirmity that takes you to Jesus with the prayer:
"Lord, here I am; I have brought to You . . .
   my rebellious will,
   my wandering heart,
   my worldly affections,
   my peculiar infirmity,
   my besetting and constantly overpowering sin.
Receive me graciously, put forth the mighty power of Your grace in my soul, and subdue all, and rule all, and subjugate all to Yourself! Will it not be for Your glory, the glory of Your great name . . .
   if this strong corruption were subdued by Your grace,
   if this powerful sin were nailed to Your cross,
   if this temper so volatile,
   if this heart so impure,
   if these affections so truant,
   if this mind so dark,
   if these desires so earthly,
   if these pursuits so carnal,
   if these aims so selfish,
were all entirely renewed by Your Spirit, sanctified by Your grace, and made each to reflect Your image? Yes, Lord, it would be for Your glory, through time and through eternity!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

My dearest idol must be thrown down!

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

"They served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them: You shall not do this thing!" 2 Kings 17:12

"Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart!" Ezekiel 14:4

"Their heart went after their idols!" Ezekiel 20:16

There is much danger lest I should fall into the same sin of idolatry.
Idolatry is as prevalent today — as in ancient times.
It is as prevalent in Christendom — no less than in heathendom.

There are the idols of wood and stone. Lurking in my heart I find too strong a sympathy with the grosser forms of evil — untold possibilities of heinous sin are within me still. But these impure gods must go!

There are the idols of silver and gold. I pay an undue deference to fashion and wealth. I covet a high position and a place among the prominent ones of the earth. But these gods too must be dethroned!

There are the carved images. I may easily be beguiled by the enchanting toys and trinkets of the world. Contagion and poison haunt its literature, its arts, its amusements. At whatever cost, these deities must be cast out!

There are the molten images. Sudden fires of appetite, swift flames of temptation, leap up within me; and before I know, I may be overcome by them. These powers of darkness must be conquered in a heavenlier strength than my own!

There are the teraphim — the idols made in the likeness of men. I am in peril of exalting friends, wife, children, to the seat which Jesus Christ alone should occupy. My dearest idol must be thrown down, and Jesus must be Lord of all.

May Zinzendorf's motto be mine: "I have one passion, and it is Jesus, Jesus only!"

"The dearest idol I have known,
 Whatever that idol be,
 Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
 And worship only Thee!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Christian's ambition!

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

"So we make it our ambition to please Him" 2 Corinthians 5:9

"It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known" Romans 15:20

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands" 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Three times over in his Epistles, Paul speaks of the Christian's ambition. I may learn much from every one of his three messages.

What should be the ambition of my personal life? It should not be to be merely pardoned, nor simply permitted to escape from eternal wrath. "We make it our ambition," the apostle says, "to please Him."

What should be the ambition of my church life? It should be to further the prosperity and to enlarge the boundaries of my Lord's kingdom on earth. It should be to proclaim His Evangel, and to extend His realm, and to win some new captives and subjects for Him. "It has always been my ambition," the apostle says again, "to preach the gospel where Christ was not known."

And what should be the ambition of my social life? It should be, in my ordinary duties, in my simplest and lowliest occupations, to exhibit Christlikeness and my heavenly citizenship. If I cannot be holy at my daily work, it is scarcely worth while taking trouble to be holy at other times. "Make it your ambition," says the apostle to me once more, "to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands."

These are the apostolic ambitions. Lord, let them be mine. Towards such goals, to gain such prizes — I would lay aside every weight, and run the race with perseverance!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Singled out by the sovereign grace of God!

(Frank Hall)

In the days of Noah the entire world was given over to ungodliness, sin, and corruption. Violence, hate, and wickedness had reached an all time high. All men without exception were proud, arrogant, and ungrateful. They, like all natural men, were opposed to the rule of God over them. These ignorant unthankful rebels sought to shove God off His throne, so that they, like Adam and Eve in the garden, might "be as gods."

Hear the Spirit's testimony concerning the days of Noah: "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, 'I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth — men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air — for I am grieved that I have made them!'But NOAH found grace in the eyes of the LORD." Genesis 6:5-9

As it was in the days of Noah, so it is now.
Our generation is just as wicked as Noah's generation.
Spiritually, men have not improved one iota.
Lost men are still corrupting God's truth and God's worship upon the earth.
Men still love darkness and hate light.
Men are still grieving God with their sin.
Every imagination of the thoughts of our heart are still evil continually.
Nothing has changed.
Men still serve themselves, not God.
They love themselves, and hate God.
They still oppose and exalt themselves above God.

But the day is fast approaching when God's fury will once again be unleashed upon all the children of disobedience . . .
  who will not have Christ to reign over them;
  who will not believe the gospel of His grace;
  who will not trust Him for life, righteousness, and salvation;
  who will not turn from their wicked ways to serve the only true God.

Noah was just like everyone else by nature:
  born dead in trespasses and sin;
  corrupt to the very core;
  self-serving, self-centered, self-willed, and self-righteous;
  wholly given over to the lusts of his own flesh;
  under the complete control and dominion of the prince of the power of the air.

The fact that Noah found grace in God's eyes, is proof enough that he was sinful and vile; for were he righteous and holy in himself, he wouldn't need God's grace. Noah was singled out by the sovereign grace of God to be saved from the flood of God's wrath! Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD . . .
  not because he was worthy of God's favor,
  not because he was better than others,
  and not because he deserved it — 
but because God is gracious to whom He will be gracious!

"Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD!" What grace?
  Redeeming grace!
  Justifying grace!
  Sanctifying grace!
  Pardoning grace!
  Regenerating grace!
  Preserving grace!
  Glorifying grace!
  All grace!

"Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD!" What kind of grace?
  Free, undeserved grace!
  Eternal, everlasting grace!
  Almighty, overpowering grace!
  Effectual, irresistible grace!
  Saving grace!

If we would be . . .
  forgiven of our sins,
  saved from the wrath to come,
  cleansed from all our filth,
  protected from the avenger of blood,
  preserved forever from falling away, and
  live forever, blameless before the presence of God's glory,
then we must come to Christ by faith and receive from Him what only He can give — SOVEREIGN, FREE, AMAZING GRACE!

God's grace is distinguishing grace:
Noah was no better than any man who was destroyed in the flood. He was saved by God's sovereign, discriminating, distinguishing grace! God . . .
  set His heart on Noah,
  loved him by His grace,
  chose him by His grace,
  redeemed him by his grace,
  regenerated and called him by His grace,
  preserved him by His grace,
  and saved him by His grace.
The God of all grace made the difference, not Noah!

God's grace is effectual grace:
  grace that saves absolutely and everlastingly;
  grace that cannot successfully resisted or denied.
This grace, this irresistible grace . . .
  raises dead sinners to life,
  dispels the darkness of unbelief,
  causes sinners to trust Christ, and,
  keeps them from departing from Him.

Only effectual grace will save you — for it cannot be resisted, overturned, successfully opposed, or lost. The grace that chosen sinners find in the eyes of the LORD, is effectual grace!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Put on a heart of compassion!

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

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved — put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

"Put on a heart of compassion," says the wise apostle.

Some elect and gracious souls seem, indeed, to have this compassionate heart from the very outset of their lives. Love is their vital breath and their native air. It comes to them naturally and spontaneously . . .
  as the bird sings simply because it must,
  as the flower unfolds and cannot help itself,
  as the fountain bubbles up irresistibly to the surface.

But how good it is for me, who have no inborn faculty of loving, that I may put on a heart of compassion!

I can do it by asking God, day after day, to subdue my selfish, censorious, critical, untender, evil heart!

I can do it by perpetually recollecting Christ, who went about ever doing good, and who has left me an example that I should follow in His steps.

I can do it by begging, morning by morning, the grace of the Paraclete, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

I can do it by the endeavor to put myself in the place of others, and to comprehend their difficulties and temptations.

I can do it by watching always for opportunities of lifting up the bruised reed and of fanning the smoking flax.

I can do it, as Robert Levett with his single talent did, by "little unremembered acts of kindness and of love."

Thus the heart of compassion may grow and thrive, even within me! Thus my harsh and proud and critical spirit may spread its black wings and fly away from me, never to return again!