Grace Gems for DECEMBER, 2015
~ ~ ~ ~
Not all we wish, not all that we may think pleasant or desirable
(George Everard, "Follow the Leader!" 1882)
"My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:19
We have here the promise that every possible need will be provided for. The Lord of earth and Heaven has such boundless treasures at His command, that it is impossible that we can expect too much. Not all we wish, not all that we may think pleasant or desirable — but all that the only-wise God discerns to be truly needful and profitable for us — that will He give.
The supply assured to the believer, comprises that which is needful for all that concerns our present life — and all that is essential for the support and growth of spiritual life in the soul.
As to this present life, God supplies our needs. And yet by withholding much that is for our comfort, He humbles and proves His children. He often keeps them on very slender fare!
What then have the people of God a right to expect?
Sometimes He may bestow a rich abundance of temporal blessings. He did so in the case of Job, and Abraham, and Joseph, and Solomon, and many others.
Still more frequently He will give His children amply enough for their daily need. He blesses their basket and their store. He gives a sufficiency, so that they can live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
Yet sometimes it is otherwise. He is training His children, and He puts them in the school of affliction. He sends them thorns and briars, and sharp trials. And this often in the shape of need, or insufficient means for meeting the requirements of themselves or their families.
Ah, do not repine if this is so! There is a purpose beneath it. There is divine love, though there is the lack of food or money.
"Behind a frowning Providence
He hides a smiling face!"
A soldier in a foreign campaign does not murmur because he has to rough it, and perhaps for many a week has coarse and insufficient fare. Nor should you be surprised if this is your case. Now is the conflict; by-and-by the crown will be won, and you will be at rest in your Father's house!
"My God shall supply all your needs." This goes far beyond temporal blessings. It opens wide to us the treasury of divine grace — it tells me to go in and take all that my soul desires.
You may imagine a cabinet with fifty or a hundred drawers and each of these labeled with some valuable article — and you are permitted to go in and open each drawer and take out what you will. It is so in God's house. Christ is the Treasury of all spiritual gifts and graces. In Him are found wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, peace, power, preserving grace, restoring grace, consolation in sorrow, and effectual help and support in every season of adversity. And by faith and prayer, we are to go continually, and ask and receive abundantly, according to our need.
Do not limit God's free and rich supply of grace in Christ by the thought of your own demerits. It is not on account of any works or worthiness of yours — but for the sake of Christ's work and Christ's worthiness, that God is ever willing to bestow on you all needful grace.
"The LORD gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly!" Psalm 84:11
"God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8
~ ~ ~ ~
Only a broken heart!
(George Everard, "A Meditation for the Close of the Year" 1882)
"The LORD is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
Only a broken heart can receive a bruised and crucified Savior!
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17
"He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3
~ ~ ~ ~
I am sure I cannot endure to the end!
(Letters of John Newton)
"I will put My fear in their hearts — so they will never turn away from Me." Jeremiah 32:40
Jesus, to whom I have been led to commit myself, has engaged to save me, absolutely, and from first to last. He has promised not only that He will not depart from me — but that He will put, keep, and maintain His fear in my heart — so that I shall never finally depart from Him! And if He does not do this for me — I have no security against my turning apostate! For I am so weak, inconsistent, and sinful; I am so encompassed with deadly snares from the world; and I am so liable to such assaults from the subtlety, vigilance, and power of Satan — that, unless I am "kept by the power of God," I am sure I cannot endure to the end!
I do believe that the Lord will keep me while I walk humbly and obediently before Him; but, were this all — it would be cold comfort! For I am prone to wander — and need a Shepherd whose watchful eye, compassionate heart, and boundless mercy — will pity, pardon, and restore my backslidings!
For, though by His goodness and not my own — I have hitherto been preserved in the path of holiness; yet I feel those evils within me, which would shortly break loose and bear me down to destruction, were He not ever present with me to control them.
Those who comfortably hope to see His face in glory — but depend upon their own watchfulness and endeavors to preserve themselves from falling — must be much wiser, better, and stronger than I am! Or at least they cannot have so deep and painful a sense of their own weakness and vileness, as daily experience forces upon me. I desire to be found in the use of the Lord's appointed means for the renewal of my spiritual strength — but I dare not undertake to watch a single hour, nor do I find ability to think a good thought, nor a power in myself of resisting any temptation! My strength is perfect weakness — and all I have is sin.
In short, I must sit down in despair — if I did not believe that He who has begun a good work in me, will carry it out to completion.
"Hold me up — and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117
~ ~ ~ ~
Our religion must cost us something!
(George Everard, "Shine as Lights!" 1882)
"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23
Every Christian must be a cross-bearer. There is no escaping this. "Whoever does not carry his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:27
We must be willing to suffer for Christ's sake; we must crucify self and the flesh; we must be willing to perform unpleasant duties, and make sacrifices of things we might like to retain.
Our religion must cost us something!
Sloth, and ease, and self-indulgence, and a worldly spirit must be cut up by the roots!
We must be most careful over the employment of our time. It is our greatest talent, and we must throw none of it away. Every hour, every moment must be spent as under the eye of our gracious Master. We are told the gold sweepings at the mint last year amounted in value to many thousands of dollars. Our fragments of time are gold dust; and we must not throw them aside as worthless, but gather them up that none may be lost.
I would entreat you, dear reader, to rise above the common standard — and strive, by God's grace, to live a very holy, devoted, self-denying life.
I beseech all Christians to set before you the life of Christ as your pattern. Walk as He walked — live as He lived! And, doing this, expect to receive day by day a large supply of His grace.
~ ~ ~ ~
The first lesson of a Christian!
"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time." 1 Peter 5:5-6
Humility is knowing that we are not humble. Alas! who is humble?
Perhaps many who think themselves high in Christ's school, have not yet begun with their A-B-C's. The first lesson of a Christian is humility; and he who has not learned the first lesson, is not fit to take out a new one.
"Much more of true religion consists in deep humility, brokenness of heart, and an abasing sense of barrenness and lack of grace and holiness — than most who are called Christians imagine." (David Brainerd, 1718-1747)
"For those who would learn God's ways, humility is the first thing, humility is the second thing, and humility is the third thing." (Augustine, 354-430)
"Only a broken heart can receive a bruised and crucified Savior!" (George Everard, 1882)
~ ~ ~ ~
Be ever looking unto Jesus!
(George Everard, "Every Eye!" 1884)
"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is! And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." 1 John 3:2-3
Note the transforming power of this sight. There will be a perfect conformity to Christ's image. Sin will be annihilated in the soul, and no temptation ever be able to stir one thought of evil. This mortal body will put on its garments of glory and immortality. In heavenly purity, in unwearied brightness and activity, in an atmosphere of love, born of the love that inflames the heart of Christ — the risen saint will be satisfied as he awakes in the likeness of His Savior! And with the sight of Christ Himself, there will be ten thousand sights that will indefinitely multiply the Christian's joy. What will it be to behold angel and archangel, cherubim and seraphim — and all doing homage to Him whom we love!
What will be the sight of that celestial city pictured to us in the Revelation in such glowing words — but whose true glory and beauty no heart of mortal man has ever yet conceived?
Christian, rejoice! This sight is for you! This hope is for you! Unworthy in your own eyes; oft lamenting your own infirmities, your lack of love, your failings in the Master's service — yet your eyes shall see and your heart shall overflow with the eternal joys which are at God's right hand.
Then let your eye now ever be toward Him. Watch, lest your eye be turned aside. Let it never be found "beholding vanity." Let it never delight itself in the unwholesome sights of the theater, or the vain display of self-adornment, or in that which only ministers to the gratification of pride and self-indulgence. Let not your eye shoot forth glances of envy, passion, covetousness, or any unholy thought or desire. Let it not slumber in carnal ease and selfish sloth, while souls are perishing around.
Nay, let your eye be upward, seeking daily aid and grace from above. Be ever looking unto Jesus as your great Pattern and Exemplar, and also as the Fountain-head of all supplies of wisdom, strength, and consolation!
"Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith!" Hebrews 12:1-2
~ ~ ~ ~
Twenty-four vessels every day!
(George Everard, "Holy Living!" 1882)
"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time!" Ephesians 5:15-16
The careful use of TIME touches every part of the Christian life. A beautiful illustration has been given of this:
The hours are like a chain of little golden vessels passing before you day and night.
You cannot arrest their progress.
You can put something into each as it passes.
You can put in a good thought or word or deed — or a bad thought or word or deed.
Or you can let it go empty.
Once past, you cannot recall it.
Twenty-four vessels every day!
Eight of them pass while we are asleep — one-third of them empty.
Alas! how many more through our negligence and sloth, every day pass empty!
Alas! for the contents of many of them!
Golden vessels filled with wood, hay, stubble!
Some of them filled with what is worse than worthless — evil thoughts and words and deeds.
But they all pass on continually until they come before the throne of God.
And there account is taken of their contents.
Of how many are you satisfied that God should note their contents?
"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" Psalm 90:12
~ ~ ~ ~
Our crooked and foolish wills!
(George Everard, "Holy Living!" 1882)
In order to live a holy life — the WILL must be yielded up entirely to God.
The chief sin of man is to set up his will against God's will, and to live quite irrespective of that which God has commanded.
But in conversion, the will is given up to God. "Teach me to do Your will," is the believer's prayer. "Lord, what will You have me to do?" is the genuine expression of the heart renewed by the Spirit. And the more this purpose is followed out, the more holy will the Christian be.
What is our will when rebelling against God — but the source of endless trouble and remorse? Is not God's will the truest will, the best will — the will that leads to peace and rest, as well as holiness and Heaven?
When there comes a great temptation to follow our own way through a prospect of gain or passing pleasure, if we hearken to the same — does it not invariably bring its own bitter punishment after it? But if we deny self, and do that which we know to be right — have we not found again and again a great blessing? Has not, perchance, the comfort or blessing we desired, become our own — without the sting of a guilty conscience, which would have marred all its enjoyment?
O that we could always seek to have our crooked and foolish wills made after the straight and all-wise will of God! Would that we could ever be satisfied that all things mysterious now, will prove to be the right path to the kingdom for God's children! Would that we could say in all things, "May Your will be done!"
To help us to endure cheerfully whatever may happen to us, let us be firmly persuaded that the hand of Infinite Love is ordering and directing all things for our profit and His glory.
~ ~ ~ ~
The foolish Indians!
(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)
The foolish Indians preferred every toy and trifle, before their mines of gold. Just so, many foolish professors prefer the trifling vanities of this world, before the glorious treasures and endless pleasures which are at God's right hand. Witness that high price which they set upon . . .
the empty honors,
the fading riches, and
the fleeting pleasures of this world!
How severely are they to be censured — who prefer the poor, base, empty nothings of this world — before all the glory and happiness of the eternal world!
Were there but more holiness in your hearts — all the mirthful and gallant things of this world would be more contemptible in your eyes.
"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as rubbish, so that I could gain Christ!" Philippians 3:8
~ ~ ~ ~
The eye gazes — the ear hearkens — the foot tarries — the heart desires — the hand takes — mankind falls!
(George Everard, "The Murderer!" 1882)
"The deceitfulness of sin!" Hebrews 3:13
The sin which ruins the soul, too often comes stealthily, secretly, and unobserved!
Behold the parents of the human family in Paradise — holiness, peace, and the love of God dwell within them.
Mark the stealthy character of sin's approach: Eve loiters near the forbidden tree. The Tempter suggests the pleasure and the advantage to be derived from tasting it. The eye gazes — the ear hearkens — the foot tarries — the heart desires — the hand takes — mankind falls! and the dark plague-spot of iniquity has fastened upon humanity, from which it has never since been free.
A godly king, a man very dear to God, is walking in the evening upon the roof of his palace. The eye wanders — sinful passions arise. Thence comes a dark cloud of evil — murder and adultery follow close one upon the other. Two full years pass, and that sin lies yet upon the conscience. The face of the Lord is turned away from His servant. The remainder of life is darkened by the family sorrows that arise as the bitter consequences of that single glance.
Oh! how secretly — with how much of the subtlety of the serpent does sin come near! How carefully does it conceal from us its true character! Gladly would deceitful lusts persuade us that the thing which God has forbidden is yet comparatively harmless! Gladly would the great enemy cover many a foul act of iniquity, with a fair name! Gladly would a deceitful heart hide from us the deadly outcome of the sin we love!
Would you be safe from the deceit and the craft of the adversary? Then watch and pray evermore. Be ever watchful over yourself. Watch diligently, every avenue of sin's approach. The eye, the ear, the tongue, the hand, the foot — and above all, the heart — require a constant guard. "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life!" Proverbs 4:23
Then abide near the mercy-seat. Put your soul continually into the hand of Christ, and you will be safe.
~ ~ ~ ~
The tiny hair, the spark, the screw!
(George Everard, "Little Foxes, and How to Catch Them!" 1878)
"Catch the foxes — the little foxes that spoil the vines." Song of Songs 2:15
Solomon is very emphatic here. It is "the little foxes" which do the mischief. If the vines are injured, if the beautiful clusters are destroyed — he warns us that it is the little foxes which have crept in and have been the culprits.
I want to linger over this thought. I want every reader to lay to heart the importance of little things.
"Is it not a little one?" is the excuse of many a soul when entering upon a course that will be fatal to all peace and happiness.
Yes, it may look a little one, but for that very reason, be the more on your guard. A man's life is made up of little things. "He who despises little things, shall fall little by little."
A tiny hair has in some way found an entrance into the works of a watch. It touches one of the inner wheels, and so again and again the watch stops or goes irregularly. Much valuable time is in consequence lost, and only after its removal, does the watch prove useful to its owner.
A spark of fire has fallen upon some inflammable materials. It is but a spark at first, but it soon kindles into a flame. By-and-by through that one spark, a group of valuable warehouses is burned to the ground.
A small screw has not been carefully fastened in the boiler of an engine. For a time, no harm comes of it; but after a while, the defect loosens other parts of the machinery. An unlooked for catastrophe shortly afterwards occurs. The boiler explodes and spreads devastation and death far and wide. Many lives are lost, and valuable property is destroyed.
The tiny hair, the spark, the screw — have often their counterpart in the Christian life. A permitted inconsistency stands in the way and hinders the working of the Savior's love in the heart. A harsh word does a world of harm. A neglected duty brings evil to thousands.
Catch the foxes, yes, the little ones — let not one of them escape! If you would be secure, you must be determined to spare none — not even the very smallest!
Bear in mind "the little foxes" are especially dangerous, because they creep into the vineyard so secretly. They often get in unobserved. Even so, little sins and faults have a peculiar power to beguile the conscience. They often pass unchallenged. They make but little noise or show, and therefore they deceive the heart, and do their deadly work while we are unaware.
Bear in mind also, that little foxes will soon grow. Week by week, month by month, very insensibly to yourself — the little one is growing stronger and larger! The one you thought at first a mere plaything because it was so small — becomes an over-bearing tyrant!
Is not this true of every sin? It grows by use and habit. Its strength and power is constantly on the increase.
Secret sins are the forerunners of open and presumptuous sins. If evil is cherished in the deep of the heart, if unholy desires are permitted to remain — soon may follow some terrible breach of the Divine law. Our safety is in watching against the first wrong step. We must not treat the smallest deviation from truth and righteousness lightly. If you once put your foot in the mire of sin — you will sink deeper and deeper!
The little foxes are dangerous, because they make a track for others to follow. A little thief may creep in at the window and open the door for those who are lurking near. So a little fox may lead the way for a troop of others to enter the vineyard. The path is easier to find. The hedge will be broken down, or the opening in the wall made larger; so that where at first there came but one, and that one a little one — by-and-by a whole tribe will be found, and the vineyard utterly laid waste!
So is it with sins. One makes way for another, and each one that goes before makes it easier for others to follow. There is a companionship in sins — you never find them alone. They always accompany one another.
A young man forsakes the House of God and the Bible Class, and regards Sundays as merely days for rest or pleasure. Very often the evil increases fast:
he takes up with bad company,
he then becomes loose in his talk,
he then finds his way to the drinking saloon,
then, perhaps, he gets into profligate habits, and
then acts dishonestly to supply means for his extravagance.
In this way, very often a young life is blighted and robbed of all its fair prospects, and perhaps the man ends his days in a prison or the poor house. In this and many similar ways, one sin is linked unto another — and wretchedness, poverty, shame, and temporal and eternal damnation, are their bitter fruit.
Look at the first sin that crept into our world. Truly it might seem to some to be a small matter — but it was the little fox that destroyed the tender grapes.
It begins with a look and a wish.
Eve sees the fruit and longs for it.
Then she gives ear to the Tempter.
She believes his lie, and doubts the truth and the goodness of God.
She touches, she takes, she tastes.
She persuades her husband to taste likewise.
Thus the evil spreads.
All the joys of paradise are forfeited.
The image of God in the soul is lost.
Briers and thorns spring up in the ground.
Sins and sorrows without end, spring up in the world.
One sin, as we might think a little one, has become a giant — and evil of every kind overspreads the face of the earth! The whole world groans beneath the violence, wickedness, and oppression that lie heavy upon it. And to this hour, the outcome of that sin is seen in the ten thousand times ten thousand forms of vice and wickedness which cover the earth, and fill mankind with untold misery and woe!
Therefore take good heed of little sins. Remember, sin grows, and grows fast! Watch against the beginnings of evil.
"Stay away from every kind of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22
~ ~ ~ ~
These petty troubles and vexations!
(George Everard, "Little Foxes, and How to Catch Them!" 1878)
We must see our heavenly Father's hand in our lesser trials and cares, as much as in the greater ones.
David recognized the hand of God, in Absalom rising against him in rebellion — but he saw it no less in Shimei throwing stones and dust and casting bitter words at him.
Just so, let us see God's hand in everything. These petty troubles and vexations are a part of our schooling for Heaven. They are just as much sent from above, as the fierce storm that wrecks our home and leaves us desolate in a cold world. They all come . . .
to prove us,
to humble us,
to draw out the grace which God has given us,
to break the tie that binds us too closely to earth,
to knit the tie that draws us nearer to Heaven.
Let us ever fix this in our minds. Let us say to ourselves,
"My Father has sent this trial!
Not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him.
The very hairs of my head are numbered by Him.
So I will trust His heart, where I cannot trace His hand.
He is too wise to be mistaken — and too good to be unkind!"
~ ~ ~ ~
He has a window into your heart!
(George Everard, "Little Foxes, and How to Catch Them!" 1878)
"You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me!" Matthew 15:7-8
Many professing Christians go to church from Sunday to Sunday, but in God's sight their worship is altogether in vain, as they offer their listless, heartless prayers. The lips speak — but the heart is dumb. The knee is bent — but the soul is unhumbled. Their thoughts are to the ends of the earth. Whether it is the prayers or the hymns — it matters not; for business and a multitude of worldly matters engage the mind, and there is no room for true worship.
Those who go regularly from habit to the House of God, are often living altogether unmindful of the truths they hear, or of the petitions they offer. Such is mere lip service, and profits nothing — but is rather abomination in the sight of God. How many sit before God as His people — and yet not one solitary petition is offered in earnest during the whole service. All kinds of subjects fill the mind and occupy the attention. Money, dress, business, a coming entertainment, yes even envious and malicious thoughts — are permitted to reign within the heart — and those who are apparently devout worshipers are content to have it so.
If this is so with any reader, remember the grievous sin you commit. God is not mocked. He has a window into your heart, and sees the innumerable multitude of vain thoughts which occupy the temple where He would dwell. You cannot deceive Him with such formal and hypocritical worship.
~ ~ ~ ~
(Hannah More, "PRAYER")
Prayer is . . .
the application of need, to Him who alone can relieve it,
the confession of sin, to Him who alone can pardon it,
the urgency of poverty,
the prostration of humility,
the fervency of penitence,
the confidence of trust.
Prayer is . . .
not eloquence, but earnestness,
not the definition of helplessness, but the feeling of it,
the "Lord, save us — or we perish!" of drowning Peter,
the cry of faith, to the ear of mercy.
Adoration is the noblest employment of created beings.
Confession is the natural language of guilty creatures.
Gratitude is the spontaneous expression of pardoned sinners.
Prayer is desire — it is . . .
not a mere conception of the mind,
not an effort of the intellect,
not an act of the memory.
Prayer is . . .
an elevation of the soul towards its Maker,
a pressing sense of our own ignorance and infirmity,
a consciousness . . .
of the perfections of God,
of His readiness to hear,
of His power to help,
of His willingness to save.
Prayer is not an emotion produced in the senses, nor an effect wrought by
the imagination — but a determination of the will, an effusion of the heart.
Sincere prayer gives . . .
a tone to our conduct,
a law to our actions,
a rule to our thoughts,
a bridle to our speech,
a restraint to wrong passions,
a check to ill tempers.
~ ~ ~ ~
The great idol!
(George Everard, "Backwards or Forwards — Which?" 1882)
"Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi." Ruth 1:14
If you are faithful, if you live godly in Christ Jesus — you will find that the reproach of the cross has not yet ceased. In some shape or other, you will have to bear this burden for Him, who bore the terrible burden of your sin.
Orpah was unwilling to give up the idols of Moab — Baal, Ashtareth, and the like. She preferred them, to the thrice holy Jehovah whom Naomi worshiped.
With the professor now, as with Orpah then, it is no easy thing to give up the idols which hitherto have reigned in the heart. Bear in mind that . . .
whatever you love best,
whatever eclipses the Sun of Righteousness in your soul,
whatever rules on the throne of the inner man
— that is your idol, that is your God!
With Lot's wife, it was the society of Sodom.
With Balaam, it was Balak's silver and gold.
With the young ruler, it was his "great possessions."
With Demas, it was "this present evil world."
With you it may be one or other of these, or it may be something widely different. It may be . . .
a friend or a relation,
success in a lawful calling,
the comfort of your own happy fireside,
the praise of man, or
some of the varied pleasures which the world offers.
But there is one idol more hard to part with than all these — I mean the great idol SELF! Self, in its thousand shapes, is ever claiming the first place in our hearts. Self-love, self-will, self-wisdom, self-importance, self-righteousness — all these are not easily cast out, and rise again and again to re-assert their power!
Be assured, my reader, that if any of these are uppermost, the day will most likely come that you will very plainly renounce that Savior whom you profess to have chosen. Or if you should carry the name of Christian even to the end — yet you are not Christ's. He reckons you not one of His. You have not chosen that good part which can never be taken from you. He has said, "Whoever does not forsake all that he has — he cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:33. That is, unless Christ is so preeminent in your affections, that you are willing to forsake all, even life itself, when it comes into competition with Him — you cannot be numbered among those who follow Him.
~ ~ ~ ~
My child, which will you have?
(Archibald Brown, "Christ's Own Joy, is Our Joy!")
O, beloved, I wish that we knew more of the joy of perfect and complete surrender to God. It is our will clashing with our Father's will, which makes us fretful. If only our will were one with His — it would be utterly impossible for us to ever be anything else than serene, calm and happy. Within our soul would dwell a depth of calm contentedness. Having no choice of our own, the soul would find equal joy in all. The "Nevertheless, not My will — but may Your will be done!" would prove perpetual music in the heart.
A soul thus surrendered, could make no choice if it were offered. If the Lord were to say, "My child, which will you have: health or sickness; a long life — or one snapped in two like a broken column; wealth — or poverty?" The soul would answer, "Father, I cannot say, because I do not know Your will. Tell me Your will, and I will tell You my choice, for my soul is Yours, as well as all else. I refer the case back again to You, my Father, and cry:
I dare not choose my lot,
I would not, if I might!
But You choose for me, O my God,
So shall I walk aright."
I know that this is a high standard to attain, and as I speak, I feel I am condemning myself in every other word. But shall we ignore a thing because it is above us? No, let us aim high, even if we do not reach the mark; for though our arrow falls short of the target, it will fly higher than if aimed at a lower object.
~ ~ ~ ~
Would we know what our treasure is?
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:34 (NKJV)
"Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Luke 12:34 (NLT)
Would we know what we ourselves are? Let us see whether we have our treasure in Heaven — or whether all our good things are here upon earth.
Would we know what our treasure is? Let us ask ourselves what we love most? This is the true test of character. This is the pulse of our religion. It matters little . . .
what we say,
or what we profess,
or what preaching we admire,
or what place of worship we attend.
What do we love? On what are our affections set? This is the great question.
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
~ ~ ~ ~
"Oh that I knew where I might find HIM!" Job 23:3
Job's cattle were taken from him.
His children were all killed.
His flesh was covered with terrible boils.
His wife treated him as a stranger.
Even young children despised him.
But Job did not exclaim, "Oh that I knew where I might find my donkeys, oxen, and sheep! Oh that my wife would have compassion on me! Oh that my children were restored to my care!" Though every earthly support had been stripped from him, Job did not groan after the earthly things that he had lost. Job longed after one thing only, the one thing needful — HIM!
"I miss my children and love my wife, but I can live without either. These boils are tormenting my flesh, but I'll manage. I will survive without my servants, my cattle, and the respect of my companions — but I can't survive without Him! Take what you will O Lord, but don't take Him! Oh that I knew where I might find Him!"
The Universal Answer
The answer to every trouble, every question, and every difficulty in life is exactly the same — HIM! He is . . .
the Solution to every problem,
the Key that unlocks every door,
the Sun that illuminates our path,
the Light that dispels the darkness within,
the Physician that heals our sin-sick, broken hearts,
the Nurse that dresses the soldier's wounds in bandages of grace,
the Bed of Rest for the heavy laden sinner,
the Way of Escape for those who are tempted and tried.
We bring upon ourselves needless misery and pain, when we lean on the arm of the flesh for support. We subject ourselves to unnecessary disappointment when we run to and fro seeking assistance from the helpless helpers of this world.
Free salvation and almighty strength are in Him!
Undying support and eternal satisfaction are in Him!
Heavenly comfort and divine consolation, along with legions of other nameless blessings are all in Him!
The answer to all of your problems, my troubled friend, is not within, but without! Do not run to family or friends for help — they are . . .
wells without water,
and broken crutches.
They may help you with financial trouble, but not with soul trouble.
The solution to every problem is always the same — Him! Oh that you knew your need of Him!
~ ~ ~ ~
Three golden balls!
(George Everard, "Counsels to Christians on the Details of Every-day Life!" 1866)
A good lesson may be gathered from a tale of olden time. It is fabled that a king had a daughter who was very swift of foot. So confident was he of her speed, that he engaged if any could outrun her in a race — he would have the kingdom of which she was the rightful heiress. The attempt was made by many, but in vain.
At length one came forward who, by deceit, endeavored to succeed. In his hand he carried three golden balls, and when she was gaining ground upon him, he purposely let one of them fall near her. Stopping for a moment to pick up the treasure, she lost the position she had gained. Thrice, at intervals, he repeated the artifice, and with the same result. She had imagined that without difficulty she could regain lost ground, but it was beyond her power. Her adversary won the race, and took her crown!
Well may these golden balls represent to us, the honors, the gains, the vanities, and pleasures by which many are drawn aside — and, through the craft of their wily foe, lose their kingdom and their crown!
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10
"Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me!" 2 Timothy 4:10
"Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God." James 4:4
~ ~ ~ ~
The golden pipe!
(Hannah More, "Secret Prayer")
"When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:6
It is the indispensable duty of every Christian to pray in private. Private prayer has many advantages.
Private prayer sweetly inclines and disposes a person to a cheerful performance of every other religious duty and service. The power of godliness in the soul flourishes or decays — as the private duties of the closet are attended to or neglected.
In secret we may more freely, fully, and safely unbosom our souls to God, than we can do in the presence of others.
Private prayer is a privilege of which a Christian may at all times avail himself. No time is unseasonable for such a purpose — and no place is unfit for such devotions. There is no corner so dark — no place so secret, but God is there! He never lacks . . .
an eye to see,
an ear to hear the cries and groans,
nor a heart to grant the request —
of the one who sincerely prays to Him in secret.
There are no desires so confused — no requests so broken — no effort so feeble — as to escape His notice. The eye that God has upon His people in secret, is such a special tender eye of love as opens His ear, His heart, and His hand, for their good. "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers." Psalm 34:15
Should their petitions be feeble and faint, and seem to them scarcely to reach the heavens — He will graciously bow down His ear, and attend to the prayer from sincere lips. He knows the intentions of the heart. He perceives the motions of the soul. He records them all in the book of His remembrance, and will one day openly reward all these secret transactions!
He who would have . . .
his soul athirst for God,
public ordinances delightful to his soul,
his drooping spirits refreshed,
his weak faith strengthened,
his strong corruptions subdued, and
his affections set on heavenly things —
should be frequent and fervent in secret prayer.
How strong in grace,
how victorious over sin,
how dead to the world,
how alive to Christ,
how fit to live,
how prepared to die —
might many a Christian have been — had he more diligently, seriously, and conscientiously discharged the duties of the closet!
The true Christian loves to pray secretly, and values such exercises for the effect they have on him in . . .
humbling the soul,
weaning the heart from the world,
rendering the mind more spiritual, and
exalting the Savior in the affections.
There is no means of grace more enriching to the soul than private prayer. It is the golden pipe, through which the Lord is graciously pleased to convey all spiritual blessings to the soul.
Thus the Christian, withdrawn for a season from the world, and realizing the immediate presence of God, the solemness of eternity, and the vast importance of heavenly things — prays to his Father, who sees in secret. He gets more humbling views of himself, and makes fresh discoveries . . .
of the exceeding sinfulness of his sin,
of the super-aboundings of Divine grace,
of the boundless patience of the Lord,
of the unfathomable grace He has bestowed on him,
of the astonishing deliverances He has wrought for him, and
of the abundant mercy which is treasured up in Christ Jesus for all true believers.
How lamentable it is, that a duty so obvious, a privilege so great, a means of grace so enriching to the soul — should ever be neglected!
~ ~ ~ ~
The Christian should remember that every day he lives
(Hannah More, "Self-Examination")
The Christian should remember that every day he lives, he has . . .
a God to glorify,
a soul to save,
repentance to perform,
a Savior to believe and imitate,
a body to mortify through the Spirit,
graces and virtues to nurture by earnest prayer,
sins to weep over and forsake,
mercies and deliverances to be thankful for,
a Hell to avoid,
a Paradise to gain,
an eternity to meditate upon,
time to redeem,
a neighbor to edify,
works of charity to perform,
a world to fear, and yet to conquer,
demons to combat,
passions to subdue, and
perhaps, death to suffer, and judgment to undergo!
And all these must be met and performed in the grace of Christ, and not in your own strength, which is perfect weakness.
"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117
~ ~ ~ ~
The time is short!
"The time is short!" 1 Corinthians 7:29
We are living in a world where all things are temporary. Everything here is perishing. We are going to a world where all things are eternal. If we are wise, we will live in this world with our hearts fixed on eternity. And when we look at all things in this world with an eye to eternity, there is one striking fact that we cannot avoid — The time is short!
The time of your life is short. "What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away." "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle." My friend, your days are numbered. Soon, you will have taken your last breath. Be warned!
Blessed be God, the time for suffering is short. Let us not faint, nor grow weary, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Since the time is short, we must be detached from the things of this world. We must hold the dearest objects of this life with a loose hand, and cling only to Christ. Take your dearest earthly possessions — your money, your lands, your friends, your family — and place this brand upon them — PERISHING! Christ alone and the riches of His grace are eternal.
What then must we do with the time that we have? We must redeem the time. Buy up every opportunity to worship and serve Christ. Buy up every opportunity to point men and women to Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Much time is gone already, the days are evil, and the time that remains is short. Therefore, I say, redeem the time!
~ ~ ~ ~
And WHY, dear Savior — tell me why?
(James Smith "Redeeming Love!" 1861)
"He gave Himself for us — that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works." Titus 2:14
"HE gave Himself for us." Note the contrast between the Giver — and those for whom He gave Himself.
The Giver is He who was . . .
the only begotten Son of God,
the author of creation,
the sustainer of the universe,
the brightness of divine glory,
the source and end of all things!
He who was proclaimed by the prophet as "the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace."
He who is declared by the apostle to be "God over all — blessed for evermore!"
"He gave Himself for US." For US — who at the best are mere creatures, between whom and our Creator, there can be no comparison. But it was not for us as mere creatures — but for us as base, vile, insignificant, and totally depraved creatures! We had debased ourselves, even unto Hell. Our nature could not be worse, for "the human heart is the most deceitful of all things — and desperately wicked!"
The most exalted, glorious, and holy being in the universe — gave Himself for the most vile, polluted, and degraded of His creatures!
O how astonishing!
But He volunteered on our behalf, without any solicitation, offering to become . . .
our Substitute — to fulfill the law in our stead;
our Sacrifice — to make a full atonement for our sins; and
our Ransomer — to pay the satisfactory price for our redemption.
He engaged to bear the desert of all our sins in His own body — to suffer all that the inflexible justice of God could inflict on our Surety — and so put away our sins forever, by the sacrifice of Himself. He gave . . .
His person — for our persons;
His blood — as our ransom price;
and His life — for our lives!
He gave His entire self, doing and suffering all that was necessary to secure our release from sin's curse, and our everlasting salvation.
O amazing grace of a gracious Savior!
He gave Himself — that He might justly redeem, ransom, or deliver us — from the guilt, power, and penal consequences of sin.
He gave Himself — to expiate the guilt, to destroy the power, and secure us against the eternal desert of our transgressions.
He gave Himself to purify unto Himself, by fully expiating their sins — a peculiar people:
a people purchased — to be peculiarly His own;
a people sanctified, separated from all others — to be set apart for Himself;
a people to be His own subjects — as the King of Zion;
a people to be His own soldiers — as the Captain of our salvation;
a people to be His own servants — as the Lord of the house;
a people to be His own children — as the everlasting Father!
"He gave Himself!" The love of Jesus is unparalleled. Out of pure love to us who had no love to Him, nor ever would have had — but for His first loving us! He gave, not only His time, His labor, His wealth — but Himself! He gave His entire person as the God-man, the incarnate Jehovah!
"He gave Himself!" This was more than as if He had given a thousand worlds — for these He could create with a word!
"He gave Himself," and not merely to live for us, or labor for us — but even to die for us!
"He gave Himself," and not even to die some easy and honorable death — but the most painful, shameful death, that any man ever invented, or any creature ever suffered!
O wondrous love!
And WHY, dear Savior — tell me why,
You thus would suffer, bleed and die?
What mighty motive could Thee move,
The motive's plain — 'twas all for love!
For love of whom? Of sinners base,
A hardened herd, a rebel race!
That mocked and trampled on Thy blood,
And trifled with the wounds of God!
They nailed Him to the accursed tree;
They did, my brethren — and so did we!
The soldier pierced His side, 'tis true;
But we have pierced Him through and through!
O Jesus, never, never was there love like Yours!
~ ~ ~ ~
Would you see what sin is?
(J. R. Miller, "Miller's Year Book — a Year's Daily Readings")
"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
There is a picture which represents the after-scenes on that day of the crucifixion.
It is all over. The crowds have gone away. The evening sun is shining out again on Calvary. The body of the Savior has been borne to the sepulcher. The cross has been taken down, and lies on the ground. A company of little children, bright with the glow of childhood's innocence, led to the place by accident or curiosity, are seen bending over the signs of the day's terrible work. One of the children holds in his hand a nail, which a little time before, had pierced a hand or a foot of the patient Sufferer, and stands spellbound with horror as he gazes at it. His gentle heart is shocked at sin's dreadful work! On all the children's faces, the same expression of horror is depicted.
No one with pure and gentle heart, can ever look at the death of Christ on the cross — with any but feelings of amazement and horror at sin's awfulness!
It was sin that nailed Jesus on the cross!
It was sin that wreathed the circlet of thorns for His brow!
We say the Jews crucified Christ; yes — but WE helped to do it!
Our sins drove the nails!
Would you see what sin is? Stand by the cross and ponder its terrible work, there in the death of the Redeemer. See what it cost the Lamb of God, to take away sin!
~ ~ ~ ~
What is to be our resource in the hour of affliction and sorrow?
(George Everard, "Family Sorrows" 1882)
What is to be our resource in the hour of affliction and sorrow?
There is one passage of Scripture that has been to me an anchor of hope and strength in many a dark and sorrowful day, and I desire that it might be cherished in the memory of each reader, and its guidance followed when trouble comes: "Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." 1 Peter 5:7 (Amplified version)
Go then to the mercy-seat in the Savior's name, and bring your whole care and sorrow, and leave it at your Father's footstool.
Consider His Fatherly HEART. "He cares for you." As a father pities his children, yes "as one whom his mother comforts" — so tenderly does the Lord deal with those who fear Him and trust in Him.
Consider His Fatherly HAND. It is the hand of love that smites. It is the hand that has bestowed our every mercy — which holds the cup of sorrow. It is the same hand that in due season will remove our trials, and lift us up from our depths of distress, and set us again on the rock of safety and peace.
Consider His Fatherly EYE. It is ever upon us for good, and not for evil. He knows our sorrow, and beholds every affliction and calamity that befalls us. "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him, upon those who hope in His mercy."
Consider His Fatherly EAR. He hears every sigh, every moaning, every cry. He bows down and inclines His ear to every petition. "His ear is open to our prayer."
Consider His Fatherly PURPOSE. Read the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, and see how He wills only our good. He would make us "partakers of His holiness." He would purify us from the dross of our corruptions, and make us fit for His presence.
Consider His Fatherly PROMISE. He has promised that He will "never leave us nor forsake us." He has promised that He will make "all things work together for good to those who love Him." "He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
Ah, Christian, trust yourself wholly to your Father's care, and He will not disappoint your confidence!
~ ~ ~ ~
The believer's lesson book!
(George Everard, "Beneath the Cross" 1877)
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!" Galatians 6:14
The cross of Christ is the believer's lesson book. The sufferings He bore for our sake, should be the subject of our constant meditation.
Nowhere, as in the Cross and in the scenes connected with it — do we see such revelations of the heart of Christ.
Mercy shines forth in her beauty . . .
seeking pardon for His cruel murderers,
compassionating the daughters of Jerusalem,
and saving a sinner of the deepest dye!
Justice, too, stands forth in unsullied glory. In paying the debt of human guilt, in bearing the penalty of a broken law — Christ is seen to be a just God, as also a Savior.
In our Lord's suffering and death, there is precious instruction for the believer in almost every matter belonging to the Christian life . . .
what are the perils you are likely to meet with — and how best to overcome them;
what should be your life in secret before God — and what should be your path in the world;
what is your strength in the hour of temptation, and in the season of sorrow;
how to crucify the world — and how to glorify God in the position which you occupy
— all this may be learned in fellowship with our suffering Redeemer.
Beneath the Cross likewise, you may best learn to cultivate every Christian grace and virtue.
Meekness and courage,
zeal and love,
prayer and patience and forebearance,
and submission to the will of God —
are the fruits of a believing view of Christ's death.
You may learn, too, to conquer sin by the sight of that which it cost Christ to save you from it. The nail and the spear may be driven through the sins which have been most cherished. You may thus be enabled to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts.
And beneath the Cross you may learn another lesson. You may learn how to die. Through death, Christ has destroyed the power of death — the sting is gone. To him who believes, death is life — for it is departing to be with Christ, which is far better.
Therefore let us often betake ourselves to Calvary. Let memory recall and ponder those hours on which our everlasting peace depends. Let our faith bridge over the centuries that have passed between. Let us go and stand in thought, beside the faithful women who were last at the cross, and first at the grave. Let us look again, and yet again, and discover new lessons of instruction and fresh grounds for the deepest contrition, as also for everlasting joy and thankfulness — beneath the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
~ ~ ~ ~
Search the Scriptures!
(George Everard, "A Talk about the Family Bible" 1878)
The word Bible signifies Book; and when we call it the Bible, we mean that it is the Book of books — the best Book, the wisest Book, the Book that will do us the most good of any in the world!
If all the other books in the world were destroyed, however great and irreparable the loss — if men still had the Bible, they would be far better off than if this were destroyed and all other books remained.
It is the Book that alone can tell . . .
how sin can be forgiven,
how temptation can be overcome,
how trouble and sorrow can be met,
how tears can be wiped away, and
how death can be the gate of everlasting life.
It is indeed the best companion . . .
for days of trial,
for the day of sickness, and
for the hour when we must part from all below!
Oh what a treasure is a well-read Bible! It is . . .
a mine of gold,
a hive full of honey,
a field covered with a rich harvest.
It is a tree of life, of which every twig bears precious fruit.
It is an ocean full of pearls.
It is a river full of the purest water of life.
It is a sun whose beams warm and cheer the heart.
It is a bright star that can guide the pilgrim through the darkest night.
It is a granary stored with the finest of the wheat.
It is a medicine-chest, from which we may find a remedy for every malady of the soul.
It is a Mount Pisgah, from which we can view the promised land of Canaan.
All this and much more, is the Bible to those who love to search it and explore the depths of heavenly wisdom which it contains.
Dear reader, whatever you forget, never, never forget to read something out of this precious Book day by day.
The Scriptures warn against . . .
the fear of man,
the allurements of worldly pleasures,
the snare of pride, and
the temptation of doubt and unbelief.
Search the Scriptures! Whatever you have done hitherto, begin now to search them daily as for hidden treasures!
Go deep into this precious mine.
Ponder what you read.
Compare one part with another.
Compare the commands and precepts with your own daily life.
Bring its promises to bear on your heart and temptations.
When we read the Scriptures, we should pay good heed to it. There are depths and heights in many of the simplest verses, that we can never reach. Therefore we ought to turn them over again and again in our minds. We must mark, learn, and inwardly digest them. A few verses or even a single verse well thought over, and still better, well prayed over — will bring more profit and help than many chapters listlessly or carelessly read!
~ ~ ~ ~
If a man carried a bag of gunpowder with him!
(George Everard, "Heart-Work" 1871)
"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23
Remember that the heart regulates the life. If the heart is right, then . . .
the hands will do right — they will not steal or be idle, but do their work faithfully;
the feet will move right, not going where they should not, standing in the way of sinners, or treading forbidden paths — but walking straight in the ways of godliness;
the eyes will look right, not coveting forbidden fruit, or reading debasing literature — but spying out work that ought to be done, and looking kindly and pleasantly on those around;
the ears will hearken aright, not eagerly drinking in false reports, or the advice of those who have not yet learned to teach themselves — but ever willing to listen to a faithful reproof, or to a word of wise counsel;
the lips will speak aright, not uttering words of slander, or falsehood, or folly — but words of truth and purity and love, words of earnest prayer and of grateful praise.
But HOW shall the heart be kept right?
1. First of all, remember that He who made the heart, can alone fashion and dispose it to that which is good. Whatever is amiss, He knows how to remedy it:
He gives it a new mainspring — He puts within it the love of Christ, instead of the love of the world;
He sends His Holy Spirit to control and order its unruly passions and affections;
He can cleanse it from all its defilements;
When the chain is off the wheel, He can replace it — I mean, when something has turned our desires from their right object, He can restore them.
Then ask earnestly for grace, "Create in me a clean heart, O God! Incline my heart to Your testimonies! Let my heart be sound in Your statutes that I may honor You!"
But then, He bids us to be workers together with Him in this matter. There is that which He alone can do — but there is that which is our part by His grace to do also.
2. You must take care not to run into scenes of temptation. If a man carried a bag of gunpowder with him, he would be very careful not to go where sparks were flying about — he would feel that in a moment a spark might be his destruction.
Now your heart is very like that gunpowder — a little thing may set it all alight with evil passions! Words may be spoken that may arouse unholy thoughts or desires — therefore be careful. Never go near places where the devil is accustomed to come. Keep far away from the theater, the dancing-room, and never enter the bar of a tavern if you can avoid it.
3. You must watch against any evil thoughts lodging in your mind. You may not be able to prevent them arising, but endeavor to drive them away as soon as you can. A flock of birds may fly over your head — but you would not let them build a nest in your hair! Little flies or insects in summer are very troublesome sometimes — but you take pains to keep them from getting into your eyes, or irritating your face and hands. In the same way, watch against every bad thought.
Remember that among the thousands of thoughts that pass through your mind in a day, there is not one hidden from God! He understands your thoughts afar off, and in His sight the thought of foolishness is sin. Therefore be watchful — do not dwell on anything that may pollute the mind. Cast away murmuring thoughts, angry thoughts, impure thoughts — and pray that God would preserve you from them. "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in Your sight, O Lord!"
4. But to keep away thoughts that do harm — nourish thoughts that will do you good. "Finally, brothers . . .
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable,
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
— think about such things." Philippians 4:8
There is a good old proverb, "Fill the sack with wheat — and there will be no room for chaff!" Fill your heart with kind thoughts, grateful thoughts, holy thoughts — and you will be safe. Let God's thoughts which are given to us in the Bible — leaven all your thoughts. Hide in your heart the promises and precepts of His Word.
5. But above all, live in a spirit of prayer. Believe that God is always ready to hear you — and often go to Him for help. Draw near to God — and He will draw near to you. Nothing will keep your heart in a holy, happy frame, so much as prayer.
~ ~ ~ ~
All seemed dark and mysterious!
(John MacDuff, "Loving Counsels" A New Years Address, 1868)
"On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night." Psalm 63:6
Some of you can look back over this past year to a time of sickness, when you experienced divine help and consolation — when first you were summoned to retire from the busy throng, and from the scenes in which you delighted. All seemed dark and mysterious. The consciousness that health had departed — that disease was progressing — and that pain and weariness was confining you, as a prisoner, to the bed of suffering. All this pressed hard upon your spirit, and filled your soul with despondency and gloom. The trying dispensation, instead of appearing what it eventually proved — a precious blessing — seemed to be a dire and heavy calamity!
But He, who works His purposes of mercy and love towards His children, in a way often contrary to their expectations and plans — did not leave you to linger in darkness and despair. He came to you in the night watches — He made all your bed in your sickness — He brought promise upon promise to cheer your drooping spirit! He taught you that your sickness and suffering, were needed — to refine, elevate, and sanctify you! He taught you that He designed, thereby . . .
to draw you nearer to Himself,
to wean your affections from the world, and
to bring your will into sweeter and more perfect harmony with His own!
Oh! surely, you have good reason, this day, to bless God for that bed of suffering — that couch of weakness, and those wearisome days, and long sleepless nights, if, thereby, you have . . .
been enabled to realize more fully, that God is your all, your portion, your Father;
been brought into closer relation, and more endeared intimacy, and fellowship with Jesus — the sympathizing Brother — the tender loving Friend;
become more deeply sensible of the Holy Spirit's work within you — of His power to comfort, support, and sanctify you.
Looking back upon that eventful period, your feeling now is:
"Thank God for my trial-time of sickness — for calling me away from the busy throng, that I might be alone with Him! Thank God for teaching me . . .
my own weakness — and His strength;
my own emptiness — and His fullness;
my own sinfulness — and His pardoning love;
my own utter helplessness — and His upholding, comforting, and sustaining grace!
Thank God . . .
that the anguish of that season of pain, distress, and suffering — was so often solaced by His love;
that its loneliness was so often dispelled by His gracious presence;
that its gloom was so often brightened with His smile;
and that its calamity was so often sanctified by His grace!
Thank God that I can now sit loosely to the world, and feel, that I am only a stranger and a pilgrim in it, journeying to my heavenly home! Thank God that I can rest in the assurance of having One ever near, to whom I can reveal every doubt, and care, and perplexity — on whose arm I can confidingly lean in 'coming up from the wilderness;' from whose infinite fullness I can at all times obtain . . .
strength for duty,
patience for suffering,
support under weakness,
and comfort in the midst of sorrow!
His grace is 'sufficient' to bear me up amid all earthly trials and sorrows, temptations and infirmities — and His strength can guide and uphold me in duty, service, and suffering — until that blessed hour, when, the conflict ended, and the victory won — He shall conduct me safely to my eternal home!"
~ ~ ~ ~
The last day of the year!
("Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" J.R. Miller, December 31, 1890)
"Jesus said unto him: Follow Me!" John 21:19
We have come now to the last day of the year! For a whole year in these daily readings, we have been walking with Christ. Is there any better word with which to close this book and close the year, than this last invitation of Jesus, "Follow Me!" This is the true outcome of all learning of Christ. Mere knowledge, though it be of spiritual things, avails nothing — except as it leads us to follow Christ.
We have seen Jesus in all the different phases of His life. We have heard many of His words. Now it remains only for us to follow Him. The outcome of seeing and knowing Jesus — should be holy living and doing. The last day of the year suggests also the same duty.
Who is satisfied with his life as it appears in retrospect? The past, however blotted, must go as it is; we cannot change it, and we need not waste time in regretting. But the new year is before us, and if we would make that better than the stained past, it must be by following Christ more closely.
To follow Christ is to go where He leads — without questioning or murmuring. It may be to a life of trial, suffering, or sacrifice — but it does not matter; we have nothing whatever to do with the kind of life to which our Lord calls us. Our only simple duty is to obey and follow. We know that Jesus will lead us only in right paths, and that the way He takes slopes upward and ends at the feet of God!
The new year on which we are about to enter is unopened, and we know not what shall befall us; but if we follow Christ we need have no fear. So let us leave the old year with gratitude to God for its mercies, and with penitence for its failures and sins; and let us enter the new year with earnest resolve in Christ's name to make it the holiest and most beautiful year we have ever lived.
~ ~ ~ ~
Lord, how can we know the way?
(J.R. Miller, "Evening Thoughts" 1907)
Thomas said to Him, "Lord, how can we know the way?"
Jesus said to him, "I am the way" John 14:5-6
This is the first day of a new year. We are setting out on a journey of which we can have no knowledge in advance. The road is one on which we never have gone hitherto. We know not what any day will have for us . . .
what our duties will be,
what burdens shall be laid upon us,
what sorrows we shall have to endure,
what battles we shall have to fight.
"You have never traveled this way before." Joshua 3:4. We cannot see one step before us! How can we know the way?
As we sit in the quiet, this first evening, and ask the question, we hear an answer which is full of comfort. Jesus says to us, "I am the way!"
All we shall have to do, therefore, will be to follow Jesus. He has made a way through this dark world for us. He has gone over all the journey and opened a road for us at great cost. He went over the way Himself — we shall find His shoe-prints at every step.
He has a definite way for each one of us. Every mile of the journey He has chosen — and every place where I pitch my tent He has selected for me!
"Leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps!" 1 Peter 2:21