Grace Gems for MAY, 2015  

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Comfort for Suffering Saints!

(Jerome Zanchius, 1516-1590)

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son!" Romans 8:28-29

The sovereignty of God is a comfort for suffering saints, acting to remove anxiety. How sweet must the following considerations be to a distressed believer!

1. There most certainly exists an almighty, all-wise and infinitely gracious God (Hebrews 11:6).

2. His love for His elect people is immutable; He never repents of it nor withdraws it (Jeremiah 31:3).

3. Whatever comes to pass in time, is the result of His sovereign will from everlasting (1 Corinthians 8:6).

4. Consequently my afflictions are a part of His sovereign will, and are all ordered in number, weight, and measure (Psalm 22:24).

5. The very hairs of my head (every one) are counted by Him; nor can a single hair fall to the ground but in consequence of His wise determination (Luke 12:7).

6. Hence my afflictions and distresses are not the result of chance, accident, or a fortuitous combination of circumstances (Psalm 56:8).

7. They are the providential accomplishment of God's eternal purpose (Romans 8:28), and are designed to answer some wise and gracious ends (James 5:10-11).

8. Nor shall my affliction continue a moment longer than God sees fit (2 Corinthians 7:6-7).

9. He who brought the affliction to me has promised to support me under it and to carry me through it (Psalm 34:15-17).

10. All shall, most assuredly, work together for His glory and my good.

11. Therefore, "Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?" (John 18:11).

However keenly afflictions might wound us on their first access yet, under the impression of such animating views, we should quickly come to ourselves again, and the arrows of affliction, would, in great measure lose their sharpness.

Christians need nothing but absolute resignation to God's wise and gracious Providence, to render them perfectly happy in every possible circumstance. And absolute resignation can only flow from an absolute belief of, and an absolute acquiescence in, God's absolute Providence, founded on His absolute predestination (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4).

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View Him yonder!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Sweet Uses of Adversity")

"They will look on Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son!" Zechariah 12:10

View Him yonder
, sinner, sweating in the garden. See the ruby drops of blood as they fall from that dear visage!

Oh, see Him sinner, see Him in Pilate's hall. View the streams of gore as they gush from those lacerated shoulders!

See Him, sinner see Him on His cross!

View that holy head still marked with the wounds with which the thorns pierced His sacred temples!

Oh, view that pure face, emaciated and marred!

See the vile spittle still hanging there the spittle of cruel mockers!

View those loving eyes floating in tears with languid pity!

Look, too, at those kind hands, and view them as they stream like fountains of blood!

Oh, stand and listen while He cries, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46

"A bleeding Savior I have viewed and now I hate my sins!" John Newton

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

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Who am I that God should be so mindful of me?

(Frank Hall)

"What is man that You are mindful of him?" Psalm 8:4

What is man that God should even look in his direction? Who am I that the infinite, glorious, triune God should glance my way much less be mindful of me?

Beloved in Christ, understand that your God is without a doubt ever-mindful of you. He has . . .
  numbered every hair on your precious head,
  appointed the bounds of your habitation, and
  determined the very second of your death.

He . . .
  bottles your every tear,
  knows your every sorrow,
  records your every work, and
  remembers every cup of cold water given in His name. He is deeply concerned for your immortal soul, has purposed to do you good, and has staked His glory on your everlasting salvation. Your God is more mindful of you, your soul, your life, and your welfare than you will ever understand in this life.

In the light of such staggering knowledge who God is, and what you are do you not ask yourself in utter astonishment, "Who am I that God should be so mindful of me?"

As mere creatures such a thought is beyond profound but as guilty sinners the thought surpasses the unthinkable!

"Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated!" Romans 9:13

God loved Jacob, and hated Esau. Who am I that I should be identified with the former, and not the latter? Christ died for His elect and put away their sins forever by the sacrifice of Himself and the rest of humanity He leaves to themselves.

Who am I that my name should be written in the Lamb's Book of Life from the foundation of the world? The Sovereign dispenser of all grace and all blessedness has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens. Who am I that I should be a vessel of honor prepared for glory and not a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction?

Who are we, brothers and sisters, that we should . . .
  partake of the boundless provision of grace in Christ,
  be redeemed, justified, and forgiven,
  should live forever with Him in glory?

Who are we that the incomprehensibly glorious God would be so mindful of us, that He not only took on our nature, but . . .
 lived a perfect life for us, that we could never live,
 died a sin-atoning death for us, that we could never die, and
 satisfied a Law for us, that we could never satisfy?

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

The only difference between a saved sinner and a lost sinner is the difference that God makes by His distinguishing grace! It is not our decisions, lives, prayers, or works that make the difference, but God and God alone.

Though all who read these lines deserve to be in Hell for their sin God has been pleased to save some freely by His grace. Though all are equally sinful, equally guilty, and equally deserving of everlasting torment God has been pleased to save some for no other reason than His own glory.

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Blessed is the mouth that spits upon us!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Sweet Uses of Adversity")

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

"That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." Philippians 3:10

As Jesus was in this world even so must we be. We must have fellowship with Him in His sufferings that we may be conformed unto His death.

None can be like the Man of Sorrow unless they have sorrows too! How can you be like unto Him who sweat as it were great drops of blood if you do not sometimes cry, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death!"

Do not think, O beloved, that you can be like the thorn-crowned head and yet never feel the thorn!

Can you be like your dying Lord and yet be uncrucified?

Must your hand be without a nail, and your foot without a wound? You cannot be like Him, unless like Him you are compelled to say, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

God is chiseling you and you are but a rough block. He is making you into the image of Christ and that sharp chisel is taking away much which prevents your being like Him.

Must He who is our head, be marred in His visage by reason of grief and must we forever rejoice and sing? It cannot be! "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22

Sweet is the affliction which gives us fellowship with Christ.

Blessed is the plough that ploughs deep furrows if the furrows are like His.

Blessed is the mouth that spits upon us if the spittle is from the same cause as that which defiled His holy face.

Blessed are the nails and thorns, and vinegar and spear if they but make us somewhat like Him, in whose glory we shall be partakers when we shall see Him as He is.

This is a matter which all cannot understand, for it is a path which no unhallowed foot has trodden, and no careless eye has so much as seen it. But the true believer can rejoice therein, for he has had fellowship with Christ in his sufferings.

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps!" 1 Peter 2:21

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Glorify God in the fire!

(George Whitefield, "Glorify God in the Fire!")

"Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit!" John 15:2

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

Fire not only burns and purges, but it separates one thing from another.

God Almighty knows that we are often purged more in one hour by a good sound trial than by a thousand manifestations of His love. It is a fine thing to come purified, to come pardoned out of the furnace of affliction. The furnace is intended to purge us to separate the precious from the vile, the chaff from the wheat. And God, in order to do this, is pleased to put us into one fire after another.

There are some roads which are finely paved and smooth but the King's road to Heaven is strewed with crosses and afflictions!

My brethren, we need to be purged! How apt are we to want to go to Heaven upon a featherbed. But many go lying upon beds of pain and languishing, which is the King's highway there.

God will not put us into the fire if there was not something to be purged away. The grand thing, is to learn to glorify God in the fire.

We glorify God in the fire, when we quietly endure it as a chastisement, and when we bear it patiently. It is a dreadful thing when we are saying with Cain, "My punishment is greater than I can bear!" But the language of a soul that glorifies God in the fire is this, "Shall I, Lord, shall I a sinful man, complain for the punishment of my sins?"

We glorify God in the fire, when, though we feel pain and anguish, we at the same time say, "Lord, we deserve this and ten thousands times more!"

We glorify God in the fire also, when we are really and fully persuaded that God will put us in the furnace only for our good, and His own glory.

We glorify God in the fire when we say, "Lord don't let the fire go out until it has purged away all my dross!"

We glorify God in the fire when the soul can say, "Here I am, my God, do with me as seems good in Your sight! I know that I shall not have one unnecessary stroke!"

We glorify God in the fire when we are not grumbling, but humbly submitting to His will. When that awful message was brought to Eli, what does he say? "It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him." Let my children be killed, whatever is done, it is the Lord's doing!

We glorify God in the fire when we rejoice in Him when we can thank God for striking us when we can thank Him for whipping us!

Happy are you who have got into Christ's fire!

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The beard!

(Martin Luther)

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out!" Romans 7:18

Sin in us, is like the beard. We are shaved today and look clean, and have a smooth chin. Tomorrow our beard has grown again nor does it cease growing while we remain on earth. In like manner sin cannot be extirpated from us; it springs up in us as long as we live!

"Oh what a wretched man I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death!" Romans 7:24

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Constant multiplication of corrupted copies!

(J. A. James, "Earnestness in Personal Religion" 1847)

Our idea of the nature of earnest individual piety must be taken, not from the conventional customs of the age but from the Word of God. Once give up the Bible as the only true standard of personal piety, and there is no rule left but custom, which is ever varying with the opinions and corruptions of the times.

Yet how prevalent is the disposition to conform ourselves to the prevailing religion of the day and of the church to which we belong, and to satisfy ourselves with the average measure of piety around us! "I am as good as my fellow members!" is the shield with which many a professor wards off the allegation of his living below his Scriptural duty.

This has been the fatal practical error of the church through every age of its existence, by which . . .
  its beauty has been disfigured,
  its power weakened, and
  its usefulness impeded!

Professing Christians, instead of looking into the perfect standard of Scripture, and seeing themselves reflected from that faithful mirror, and adjusting their character and conduct by its infallible revelations placed before themselves the standard of the Christian profession as it was found in the church of the day, and regulated their behavior by what they saw in the prevailing character of their fellow Christians!

Thus a constant multiplication of corrupted copies has ever been going on! And religion, as seen in the conduct of its professors, compared with that which is described in the pages of its own inspired rule have been quite different things!

Let us turn away from the religion we see in the church to the religion we read in the Bible! Let us not go to the imperfect and blurred copy but to the perfect and unspotted original! The Bible's representation of the nature of true piety is intended for us as our guide, and is obligatory upon us!

But the inspired, unalterable, and infallible standard of Scripture is . . .
  too spiritual,
  too devout,
  too unearthly,
  too humbling,
  too self-denying,
for many professors.

This is still the stern, unbending demand of Christ: "If any of you wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me!"

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An ice-house, instead of a hot-house!

(J. A. James, "Earnestness in Personal Piety" 1847)

It appears quite clear that great numbers of Christian professors are very imperfectly acquainted with the requirements of "pure and undefiled religion," and need to be led to re-study it in the pages of Holy Scripture. We have lost sight of the 'Divine Original', and have confined our attention to the 'imperfect transcripts' which we find on every hand in our churches. We have by tacit consent reduced the standard, and fixed our eye and our aim upon an inferior object. We are a law to each other instead of making the Word of God the law to us all.

We tolerate a worldly-minded, diluted, and weakened piety in others because we expect a similar toleration for ourselves. We make excuses for them because we expect the like excuses for our own conduct in return. We have abused, shamefully abused, the fact that 'there is no perfection upon earth,' and converted it into a license for any measure and any number of imperfections!

Our highest notion of religion requires only . . .
  abstinence from open immorality and
  the more polluting worldly amusements,
  an attendance upon an evangelical ministry,
  and an approval of orthodox doctrine.
This, this, is the religion of multitudes!
There may be . . .
  no habitual spirituality,
  no heavenly-mindedness,
  no life of faith,
  no communion with God,
  no struggling against sin, Satan, and the world,
  no concern to grow in grace,
  no supreme regard to eternity,
  no studied and advancing fitness for the eternal world,
  no tenderness of conscience,
  no careful discipline of our disposition,
  no cultivation of love,
  no making piety our chief business and highest pleasure,
  no separation in spirit from the world.
In short, there may be no impress upon the whole mind, and heart, and conscience and life of the character of the Christian, as delineated upon the page of Scripture.

We all need to be taken out of 'the religious world', as it is called, and collected again around the Bible to study what it is to be a Christian! Let us endeavor to forget what the bulk of professors are, and begin afresh to learn what they ought to be.

It is to be feared that we are corrupting each other, leading each other to be satisfied with a 'conventional piety'. Many have been actually the worse for attending church. They were more intensely concerned and earnest before they came into church fellowship. Their piety seemed to come into an ice-house, instead of a hot-house! They grew better outside the church than in the church. At first they were surprised and shocked to see . . .
  the lukewarmness,
  the irregularities,
  the worldliness,
  the inconsistencies,
of many older professors, and exclaimed, with grief and disappointment, "Is this the church of Christ!" But after a while, the fatal influence came over them, and their piety sank to the temperature around them!

"Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth!" Revelation 3:16

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Worm-eaten by secret sin!

(Theodore Cuyler, "Beulah-Land" or, Words of Cheer for Christian Pilgrims)

"The righteous will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green." Psalm 92:12-14

He alone is a cedar of Christ's training and polishing who is sound to the very core! For the cedar was famous for its solidity of wood. It knew no decay. It afforded no asylum to any stealthy insect which turned its aromatic wood into dust and ashes. So stands every faithful, fearless, unflinching, incorruptible Christian! They bid defiance to the worm of sin while they live, and to the worm of calumny when they are dead.

But insidious worms gnaw out the very heart of the pretended piety of the false professor. When the community is shocked by the scandalous sin of some prominent man in the church it is only the crack of a beam which was worm-eaten by secret sin long before!

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Why is it?

(Arthur Pink, "Fearing God in His Sovereign Majesty")

"An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes!" Psalm 36:1

Why is it that, today, the masses are so utterly unconcerned about spiritual and eternal things, and that they are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God?

Why is it that defiance of God is becoming more open, more blatant, more daring?

Why is it that even among those who profess to be the Lord's people, that there is so little real subjection to His Word, and that its precepts are so lightly esteemed and so readily set aside?

The answer is, because "There is no fear of God before their eyes!" Romans 3:18

Ah! what needs to be stressed today is that God is a God to be feared! Happy is the person who has been awed by a view of God's majesty, who has had a vision of . . .
  God's unutterable greatness,
  His ineffable holiness,
  His perfect righteousness,
  His irresistible power,
  His sovereign grace!

Time was, when it was the general custom to speak of a believer as "a God-fearing man". That such an appellation has become extinct, only serves to show where we have drifted. Nevertheless, it still stands written, "Like as a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him!" Psalm 103:13

When we speak of godly fear, of course, we do not mean a servile fear, such as prevails among the heathen in connection with their gods. No! We mean that spirit which Jehovah is pledged to bless, that spirit to which the prophet referred when he said, "To this man will I look even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My Word." Isaiah 66:2

Nothing will foster this godly fear, like a recognition of the sovereign majesty of God!

"I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you this is the One to fear!" Luke 12:4-5

"Our God is a consuming fire!" Hebrews 12:29

"It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" Hebrews 10:31

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The little foxes!

(Arthur Pink)

"Catch the foxes for us the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards!" Song of Songs 2:15

Though there may be nothing in my outward conduct for which the Lord is chastising me yet it is likely there is something within against which He is intimating His displeasure, and for which He requires me to humble myself.
  A spirit of selfishness,
  the allowing of pride,
  the workings of self-will,
  the stirrings of rebellion when Divine Providence crosses me,
  the exercise of self-righteousness
may be the plague-spots of my soul which need purging.

In the rush and pressure of every-day life, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards are apt to be neglected; and if we are careless, then we must not be surprised if we are placed on our backs for a season . . .
  that there may be time for reflection and opportunity for closer dealings between the soul and God,
  that the hidden things of darkness may be brought out into the light and faithfully dealt with.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life!" Psalm 139:23-24

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That glory is inconceivable and inexpressible!

Thomas Brooks, "Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod" 1659)

"I know that this man whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things things that man is not permitted to tell!" 2 Corinthians 12:3-4

Such is the splendor, the brightness, the glory, the happiness, and blessedness that are reserved for the saints in Heaven that had I all the tongues of men on earth, and all the excellencies of the angels in Heaven yet I would not be able to conceive nor to express that vision of glory to you! That glory is inconceivable and inexpressible!

It is best to be hastening there, that we may feel and enjoy that which we shall never be able to declare! All the troubles, afflictions, and sorrows of this life, in comparison with eternal happiness and blessedness are to be considered as nothing. They are but as the point of a pin compared to the starry heavens! "
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us!" Romans 8:18

"In Your presence is fullness of joy! In Your right hand there are pleasures forever!" Psalm 16:11

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

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He will carry the lambs in His arms!

(Arthur Pink)

"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 40:11

Our Lord has . . .
  many weak children in His family,
  many dull pupils in His school,
  many fearful soldiers in His army,
  many lame sheep in His flock.
Yet He bears with them all, and casts none away.

By Christ's gracious aid, the believer is preserved from being totally submerged by his doubts and fears.

By His renewing operations, the spark of faith is maintained, despite all the fierce winds of Satan which assail.

By His mighty enabling, the sorely harassed and groaning Christian is kept from sinking in abject despair.

By His quickening power, hope is still kept alive, and the voice of prayer is still faintly heard.

There is no danger of the individual saint being overlooked amidst the multitude of supplicants who daily and hourly present their various petitions for an infinite Mind is as capable of paying the same attention to millions, as if only one individual were seeking its attention!

"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 . . . Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16

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The infinite tenderness of Jesus!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"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 40:11

Who is He of whom such gracious words are spoken? He is THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Why does He carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart? Because He has a tender heart, and any weakness in them at once melts His heart. The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the little ones of His flock, draw forth His compassion. It is His office, as a faithful High Priest, to consider the weak. Besides, He purchased them with blood they are His property. He must and will care for those who cost Him so dear.  "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep!" John 10:11

Then He is responsible for each lamb, bound by covenant engagements not to lose one. Moreover, they are all a part of His glory and reward.

But how may we understand the expression, "He will carry them"?

  Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much trial. Providence deals tenderly with them.

  Often they are carried by being filled with an unusual degree of love, so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep, they have great sweetness in what they do know.

  Frequently He carries them by giving them a very simple faith, which takes the promises just as they stand, and believingly runs with every trouble straight to Jesus! The simplicity of their faith gives them an unusual degree of confidence, which carries them above the world.

"He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart!"

Here is boundless affection: would He hold them close to His heart, if He did not love them much?

Here is tender nearness: so near are they, that they could not possibly be nearer.

Here is hallowed familiarity: there are precious love-passages between Christ and His weak ones.

Here is perfect safety: in His bosom who can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

Here is perfect rest and sweetest comfort.

Surely we are not sufficiently sensible of the infinite tenderness of Jesus!

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That is why the world hates you!

(Arthur Pink)

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!" John 15:18-19

"Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you!" 1 John 3:13

The world will not hate mere professors.

The man . . .
  who is conformed to this world,
  who takes part in its politics,
  who shares its pleasures,
  who acts according to its principles
even though he claims the name of Christ, will not be ostracized or persecuted.

The woman . . .
  who is conformed to this world,
  who follows its fashions,
  who enjoys its society,
  who desires its amusements,
  will not be shunned by it.

The world loves its own. But those who walk in separation from the world (and they are few in number), those who follow a rejected Christ, will know something of what it means to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

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Do not be afraid, for I am with you!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you!" Isaiah 43:5

The presence of a friend in trouble is cheering and consoling. But it is too often the case, that our friends, like the friends of Job, prove to be miserable comforters. They do not enter into our troubles or they cannot help us. The advice they give at times only aggravates our woe, and adds to our distress.

But, believer, your God says, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you!" What a thought is this! God, the great, the glorious, the omnipotent Jehovah is with me!
With me to help me,
with me to comfort me,
with me to sanctify me,
with me to save me,
with me as a kind benignant Father,
with me in every place, in every trouble, in every conflict,
with me through all my journey and for evermore,
with me on the bed of sickness,
with me  to hold communion with me,
with me to listen to my sighs,
with me to number my tears, and
with me to secure me from all injury!

Appearances may be very dark; the night may seem very long; and your pains, weakness, and fears may be many and great. Still, if the Lord is with you, you may sing, "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!" Habakkuk 3:17-18

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So many millions of nominal Christians!

(Arthur Pink)

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven." Matthew 7:21

"Holding to the form of godliness but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:5

Never have there been so many millions of nominal Christians as there are today and never has there been such a small percentage of real believers. Never has Christendom been so crowded with those who have a form of godliness, but who are strangers to its transforming power. We seriously doubt whether there has ever been a time in the history of this Christian era when there were such multitudes of deceived souls within the churches, who truly believe that all is well with their souls, when in fact the wrath of God abides on them!

It is not that those empty professors who call themselves Christians are all conscious hypocrites, rather are they deceived souls; and the tragic thing is that in most churches there is nothing in the preaching which is at all calculated to un-deceive them; instead, there is only that which bolsters them up in their delusion!

There is a large class in Christendom today who are satisfied with a bare profession. They have heard some of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and have given an intellectual assent thereto, and they mistake that for a saving knowledge of the Truth. Their minds are instructed but their hearts are not reached, nor their lives transformed! They are still worldly in their affections and ways. There is . . .
  no real subjection to God,
  no holiness of walk,
  no fruit to Christ's glory.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

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Grace levels all distinctions!

(Arthur Pink)

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

The very expression the grace of God implies and denotes that the sinner's condition is desperate to the last degree, and that God may justly leave him to perish; yes, it is a wonder of wonders that he is not already in Hell!

God is sovereign in the exercise of His grace. This of necessity, for grace is favor shown to the undeserving, yes, to the Hell-deserving.

Grace is the antithesis of justice.
Justice demands the impartial enforcement of law.
Justice requires that each shall receive his legitimate due, neither more nor less.
Justice bestows no favors and is no respecter of persons.
Justice, as such, shows no pity and knows no mercy.
But after justice has been fully satisfied, sovereign grace flows forth.

Grace has been defined as the unmerited favor of God.
If unmerited, then none can claim it as their inalienable right.
If grace is unearned and undeserved, then none are entitled to it.
If grace is a gift, then none can demand it.
Therefore, as salvation is by grace, the free gift of God then He bestows it on whom He pleases.
Because salvation is by grace, the very chief of sinners is not beyond the reach of Divine mercy.
Because salvation is by grace, boasting is excluded, and God gets all the glory.

Grace is a divine provision for those who are . . .
  so depraved, that they cannot change their own nature;
  so averse from God, that they will not turn to Him;
  so blind, that they can neither see their malady nor the remedy;
  so dead spiritually, that God must grant spiritual life.

Grace is the sinner's last and only hope; if he is not saved by grace, he will never be saved at all.

Grace levels all distinctions
, and regards . . .
  the most zealous religionist on the same plane as the most heinous criminal;
  the chaste virgin on the same plane as the foul prostitute.
Therefore God is perfectly free to save the chief of sinners, and bestow His mercy on the vilest of the vile!

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Be content with what you have!

(Arthur Pink)

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you!" Hebrews 13:5

God takes note of the discontent of our hearts as well as the murmuring of our lips.

Not only is discontent a grievous sin against God, but it unfits the Christian for the discharge of holy duties, preventing the exercise of those graces which are necessary in order thereunto.
It silences the lips of supplication, for how can a murmurer pray?
It destroys the spirit of submission, for complaining is a fretting against the Lord.
It quenches faith, hope and love.
Discontent is the very essence of ingratitude, and therefore it stifles the voice of thanksgiving.
There cannot be any rest of soul, until we quietly resign our persons and portions to God's good pleasure.
Discontent corrodes the strings of the heart, and therefore it arrests all growth in grace.

Discontent is usually over temporal matters, and this is a sad intimation that material things are sought after more eagerly than are spiritual things. It argues a lack of confidence in the care of our heavenly Father to provide for us the things which are needed.

"How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against Me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against Me!" Numbers 14:27

 "Do all things without grumbling and complaining!" Philippians 2:14

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

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Lord, teach us to pray!

(Arthur Pink)

It is my deepening conviction that perhaps the Lord's own people sin more in their efforts to pray, than in connection with any other thing they engage in.

What hypocrisy there is where there should be reality!
What presumptuous demandings where there should be submissiveness!
What formality where there should be brokenness of heart!
How little we really feel the sins we confess!
What little sense of deep need for the mercies we seek!

And even where God grants a measure of deliverance from these awful sins . . .
  how much coldness of heart,
  how much unbelief,
  how much self-will and self-pleasing
  have we to bewail!

We need to be delivered from a cold, mechanical and formal type of praying which is merely a lip-service, in which there is . . .
  no actual approach unto the Lord,
  no delighting of ourselves in Him,
  no pouring out of the heart before Him.

I often say my prayers,
But do I ever pray?
And do the wishes of my heart
Go with the words I say?

I may as well kneel down
And worship gods of stone,
As offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone!

"Lord, teach us to pray!" Luke 11:1

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Wash me, gracious Lord!

John MacDuff, "Evening Incense" 1856)

O my God, I desire to approach the footstool of Your throne of grace. Glory be to Your holy name that I can enjoy freedom of access into Your presence, and with the confidence of Your child, unburden and unbosom to You . . .
  all my needs and sins,
  all my sorrows and infirmities,
  all my perplexities and cares.

Lord, how unworthy I am of the least of all Your mercies! What righteous cause have You to cut me down as a cumberer of the ground. How cold my love, how infrequent my prayers! How full is my heart, of pride and vain-glory, self and sin! How little have I habitually realized Your nearness, and sought Your favor as my chief good! There is enough of coldness and formality in my best approaches to Your footstool to lead You in Your wrath to spurn me forever away!

Let me see all my sin in the light of Calvary's cross!

I cast myself as a worthless unworthy sinner, at the feet of Jesus. I need daily, hourly washing at that fountain which He has opened for sin and for uncleanness. Wash me, gracious Lord fully, freely, and forever. Let me know the blessedness of "no condemnation." I come with all the great burden of my great guilt to my great Savior! I seek to bring the unrighteousness of an unworthy creature to the infinite righteousness and everlasting faithfulness of my loving Redeemer.

You have borne with all my obstinacy, all my perverseness, and waywardness, and ingratitude. I am at this hour, the monument of a divine love as wondrous, as it is undeserved.

Where would I have been, Blessed Jesus but for You! All that I am, and all I have I owe to Your free, sovereign, unmerited grace!

Whom have I in Heaven but You and there is none in all the earth I desire besides You. You alone can fill up the aching voids of my heart. In vain can I look to a transient world, or to the perishable creature for solid peace and permanent enjoyment. You are the only refuge for my sin-stricken, woe-worn spirit.

I rejoice in the inexhaustible riches treasured up in You that Your fullness is adequate to supply all my necessities; and out of that fullness I may still continue receiving, and that forever and ever!

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The result has been . . .

(Arthur Pink, "An Exposition of the Gospel of John")

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!" John 15:18-19

"Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you!" 1 John 3:13

The professing Church has boasted that it would convert the world. To accomplish this aim, it has sought to "popularize" religion. Innumerable devices have been employed to attract the ungodly many of which even a sense of propriety should have suppressed!

The result has been that the world has converted the professing Church!

But notwithstanding this, it still remains true that the world hates the true followers of the Lamb. And nowhere is this more plainly evident, than in those who belong to what we may term the religious world!

If you resolve that by Divine grace you will live godly in Christ Jesus then know you that persecution must be your portion. And that persecution will come upon you not from atheists and infidels but from those bearing the name of Christians. It will issue from those who still keep up a form (or semblance) of godliness, but who are strangers to its living power. It will come to you from empty professors whose compromising ways are condemned by your refusal to conform thereto; whose worldliness and carnality is rebuked by your spirituality.

Remember, it was the religious leaders who hounded the Savior to His death!

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God's attributes

(Stephen Charnock, "The Attributes of God")

Power is God's hand or arm.

Omniscience is God's eye.

Mercy is God's heart.

Eternity is God's duration.

Holiness is God's beauty.
Without holiness . . .
  His patience would be an indulgence to sin,
  His mercy would be a sentimental fondness,
  His wrath would be a madness,
  His power would be a tyranny,
  His wisdom would be an unworthy subtlety.
Holiness gives balance to all of God's attributes.

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Therefore I will flee to my one Refuge!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)

"I have seen his ways, and will heal him!" Isaiah 57:18

I am glad that He sees my ways, before He heals me. It is a great satisfaction to feel that there is One Who comprehends perfectly the worst of my nature and my conduct. I am concealed to a certain extent even from my nearest human friends. The disclosure would be too terrible it would force the most forbearing and the most forgiving to flee from me in horror!

Yet to my heavenly Father, everything is as clear as the sunlight:
  my self-seeking,
  my pride,
  my envy,
  my loathsome sins!

He understands . . .
my sevenfold corruption,
my festering leprosy,
my filthiness, and
my idols!

He reads me through and through. No black veil curtains any corner of my being from His all-seeing eye. Yet He pardons me of all my evil and clasps me to Himself!

He meets the evil King Manasseh, who has made the streets of Jerusalem run red with innocent blood and He receives Him to His household and His heart.

He draws the sinful woman to the Savior's feet in penitential tears, and the Savior bids her go in peace.

He has room and welcome for me, although my transgressions, ten thousand times ten thousand, are before His all-seeing eye! There is no stain that tarnishes His justice when He so wonderfully forgives; for He has laid my iniquities and all their doom on the Son of His love! I go free with the consent of His holiness, as well as of His grace.

His omniscience is penetrating and all-inclusive, missing none of my shortcomings and none of my sins yet His compassions are infinite!

Therefore I will flee to my one Refuge! Nowhere else am I safe from condemnation. Nowhere else am I at home.

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The god of this generation!

(Arthur Pink)

"Our God is in Heaven He does whatever He pleases!" Psalm 115:3

How different is the God of the Bible from the god of modern Christendom! The conception of Deity which prevails most widely today, even among those who profess to give heed to the Scriptures, is a miserable caricature, a blasphemous travesty of the Truth.

Ah, my reader, the God of Scripture is no make-believe monarch, no mere imaginary sovereign; but King of kings, and Lord of lords! To countless thousands, even among those professing to be Christians, the God of the Scriptures is quite unknown.

The god of this generation
is a helpless, effeminate being who commands the respect of no really thoughtful man. He no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ, than does the dim flickering of a candle, the glory of the midday sun!

The god who is now . . .
  talked about in the average pulpit,
  spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School,
  mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day,
  and preached in most of the so-called Bible Conferences
is the figment of human imagination, an invention of mushy sentimentality!

The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form gods out of wood and stone while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a god out of their own carnal mind! In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God and no God at all. A god whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nothing but contempt!

"I know that You can do anything, and no plan of Yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2

"The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths." Psalm 135:6

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!" Revelation 19:6

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My heart leaps within me!

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

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

Jesus is . . .
  an ocean of delights,
  a sea of pleasure,
  a fountain of bliss!

There is enough in Jesus, and in the happiness which we shall eternally enjoy:
  to comfort the most dejected saint,
  to soothe the sorrows of the most tried soul,
  to strengthen the weakest, and
  to stimulate the most feeble to press onward in the path of tribulation!

O for . . .
  more spirituality of soul,
  more conformity to His lovely likeness,
  more unreserved dedication to His holy service!

I often try thus to praise His dear name but am hindered . . .
  by this heavy clog of clay,
  by my evil heart of unbelief, and
  by Satan presenting something to the mind to alarm, or draw me aside.

But shortly understanding, mind, will, and affections will all be sweetly engaged and employed in ascribing, "Blessing and honor, thanksgiving and power to Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever!"

My heart leaps within me at the thought of thus giving perfect and perpetual praise to my beloved Lord!

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Orthodox in creed but heterodox in life!
(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)
When we hear of men living in sin and yet claiming to be Christians, we are disgusted with their pretenses but we are not deceived by their professions.
In the same manner, we care little for those who are orthodox Christians in creed if it is clear that they are heterodox in life. He who believes the truth, should himself be true. How can we expect others to receive our religion if it leaves us foul, false, malicious, and selfish?
We sicken at the sight of a dirty dish, and refuse even good food when it is placed thereon. So pure and holy is the doctrine of the cross, that . . .
   he who hears it aright will have his ear cleansed,
   he who believes it will have his mind and heart purged,
   he who preaches it should have his tongue purified.
Woe unto that man who brings reproach upon the gospel by an unholy walk and life!
Lord, evermore make us vessels fit for your own use, and then fill us with the pure juice of the grapes of sound doctrine and wholesome instruction. Do not allow us to be such foul cups as to be only fit for the wine of Sodom!

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Secret kisses!

Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

When a Christian is in a wilderness, which is a very solitary place then God delights to speak affectionately to him. "Behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart." Hosea 2:14
"When I have her alone," says God, "in a solitary wilderness I will speak such things to her heart, as shall exceedingly cheer her, and comfort her, and even make her heart leap and dance within her!" Certainly the soul usually enjoys most communion with God in secret.
"But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:6

A husband imparts his mind most freely and fully to his wife when she is alone; and so does Christ to the believing soul. Oh . . .
  the secret kisses,
  the secret embraces,
  the secret visits,
  the secret whispers,
  the secret cheerings,
  the secret discoveries,
which God gives to His people when in secret

"But as for me, it is good to be near God." Psalm 73:28

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

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The wonders of His providence!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Esther Defeats her Enemies")

"In his heart a man plans his course but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

"Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

"A man's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?" Proverbs 20:24

Do not judge divine providence in little pieces it is a grand mosaic, and must be seen as a whole.

The Lord's wisdom is seen in arranging the smallest events so as to produce great results. We frequently hear people say of a pleasant or a great event, "What a providence! This is the finger of God!" while they are silent as to anything which appears less important, or has an unpleasant savor.

But the place of the flower upon the hillside is as fixed as the station of a king! And the dust which is raised by a cart-wheel is as surely steered by divine providence as the planet in its orbit!

There is as much providence in the creeping of an insect upon a rose leaf as in the marching of an army to ravage a continent!

Everything, the most minute, as well as the most magnificent is ordered by the Lord who has prepared His throne in the heavens, whose kingdom rules over all.

Whatever the event may be, the attentive eye will as clearly see the Lord's providential hand.

I am sure that God is in the world, yes, and is at my own fireside, and in my chamber and manages my affairs, and orders all things for me, and for each one of His redeemed children. We need no miracles to convince us of His working, the wonders of His providence are as great marvels as miracles themselves.

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

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I believe both free agency and predestination to be facts!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Esther Defeats her Enemies")

It is clear that the divine will is accomplished and yet men are perfectly free agents. We see no "divine interference" with them, no force or coercion; hence the entire sin and responsibility rest with each guilty one. And yet, acting with perfect freedom, none of them acts otherwise than divine providence had predetermined.

Certain of my brethren deny free agency and so get out of the difficulty.
Others assert that there is no predestination and so cut the knot.

As I do not wish to get out of the difficulty, and have no wish to shut my eyes to any part of the truth, I believe both free agency and predestination to be facts!

How they can be made to agree, I do not know, or care to know. I am satisfied to know anything which God chooses to reveal to me and equally content not to know what He does not reveal.

There it is man is a free agent in what he does. He is responsible for his actions, and truly guilty when he does wrong and he will be justly punished too; and if he is eternally lost the blame will rest with himself alone.

But yet there is One who rules over all, who, without complicity in their sin, makes even the actions of wicked men to subserve His holy and righteous purposes. Believe these two truths and you will see them in practical agreement in daily life, though you will not be able to devise a theory for harmonizing them on paper.

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose!" Philippians 2:12-13