Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER, 2016

Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER, 2016

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Satan promises the best — but pays with the worst!

(Thomas Brooks)

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

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

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

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

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God has two fires!

(Thomas Watson, "The Beatitudes" 1660)

God has two fires:
  one where He puts His gold,
  one where He puts His dross.

The fire where He puts His gold, is the fire of affliction — to purify them.
"I have refined you in the furnace of affliction." Isaiah 48:10

The fire where He puts His dross, is the fire of damnation — to punish them.
"Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons!
 And they will go away into eternal punishment!" Matthew 25:41, 46

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Few and fleeting and uncertain!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man's life is but a breath! Selah." Psalm 39:4-5

"So teach us to number our days — that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom!" Psalm 90:12

You alone, O Lord, can teach to profit — help me to number my days aright!

Surely my days are few and fleeting and uncertain! Days past are gone beyond recall — and my future days I cannot number. Let me then this day, and day by day, confide in You — and look to You for the very help and grace I need.

Surely it is the highest wisdom to renounce self, to cleave to Christ, and to keep the great end of my being in view — "to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." This is an object worth living for, and which may well engage all the powers of my mind.

Nor let me suppose that it is needful to turn aside from the occupations of my daily life to honor the God of my salvation; for He teaches me that whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do — I may do all to His glory. To this then may I apply my heart, with all diligence and constancy — constrained by the love of Him who gave Himself for me!

"Every day I will bless You — and I will praise Your name forever and ever!" Psalm 145:2

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Ah, here it is that I am most at fault!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"What do you think of Christ?" Matthew 22:42

I am ashamed of my thoughts of Him — they are so poor, and so unworthy of Him. He is so great, and so glorious, and so good, and so gracious — that I cannot think of Him as I desire to.

Do you inquire what I think of His person? He is the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely One! He unites in Himself Deity and Manhood —
"All human beauties — all Divine,
 In my Beloved meet and shine!"

Do you ask what I think of His work? It is perfect! His obedience is spotless! His atonement is complete! His work of redemption is accomplished, "It is Finished!"

Do you ask what I think of His love? Ah, here it is that I am most at fault — and no wonder, for His love surpasses knowledge! Its height and depth, its length and its breadth — are immeasurable! His love is free, unchanging, and eternal. It is unparalleled — it is Dying love! He loved me — and gave Himself for me! Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends — but Jesus laid down His life for His enemies!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:19

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Later you will understand!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"You do not realize now what I am doing — but later you will understand." John 13:7

Peter could not apprehend the design of our Lord in washing the disciples' feet, and impatiently expressed his surprise, "You shall never wash my feet!" Our gracious Savior in effect replied, "Wait a little, Peter — and you will see the reason for My doing so. You do not realize now what I am doing — but later you will understand."

How often are we impatient when we cannot at once see the design of the Lord's dealings with us. Sometimes, when events run contrary to our desires and expectations — we are ready, like Jacob, to say, "All these things are against me!" While in reality, none of them are against us — but all are, in a wonderful way, working together for our good.

Oh for more confidence in Him who, in infinite wisdom, is so ordering the circumstances of our lives as to promote our spiritual welfare here — and our eternal advantage in the world to come.

Even in the present life, the Lord sometimes shows us the meaning of His past dealings with us, and convinces us that when He was leading us in a rough path — He was leading us by the right way towards the city of habitation.

"Blind unbelief is sure to err,
 And scan His work in vain!
 God is His own interpreter,
 And He will make it plain!"

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My times are in Your hand!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"My times are in Your hand!"  Psalm 31:15

Is not this truth a joy to you, my soul?

It would be a sorry thing for me if my times were in my own hands — and it would afford me little satisfaction if my times were in an angel's hands. How restful should I be in knowing that they are in Savior's nail-pierced hands!
He sees the end from the beginning.
He knows how to apportion my sorrows and my joys.
He knows what to give — and what to withhold.
He knows also when to give — and when to take away.

But, alas! how often is my heart mistrustful — how often have I murmured under the trying dispensations of His providence! O my soul, be ashamed and confounded — be humbled in the dust that you should ever call in question the wisdom or kindness of the dealings of Him who so loved you as to give His life for your redemption!

Help me, O God of my salvation, henceforth, with childlike confidence and peaceful trust — to yield all to You, and to rejoice in the assurance that "My times are in Your hand!"

"My times are in Your hand;
 Why should I doubt or fear?
 My Father's hand will never cause
 His child a needless tear!"

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Strange that a harp of thousand strings, should keep in tune so long!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life." Psalm 39:4

Is not the measure of my days a mere hand's breadth? How short is the longest span of life! How many do not reach half that length!

And then, too, how frail is the human frame! Even the most healthy and robust, carry in them the seeds of decay! Their breath is in their nostrils — their heart at any moment may cease to beat.

How fearfully and wonderfully are we made! How mysterious is the circulation of the vital blood; how delicately arranged are the air-cells of the lungs; how finely strung are the nerves of sensation. On how many strings is the harmony of the human frame dependent!

"Strange that a harp of thousand strings,
 Should keep in tune so long!

Lord, help me not only to realize how frail is my earthly tenement — but to remember with joy how glorious and enduring will be my heavenly abode. "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved — we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!" 2 Corinthians 5:1

"So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" Psalm 90:12

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When we find the path thorny, and the journey toilsome!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"They were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:16

"Here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come!" Hebrews 13:14

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city!" Revelation 22:14

God has prepared a city for His redeemed people. Towards that city we are ever journeying. And as we are but sojourners, as our citizenship is in Heaven — let us manifest the pilgrim spirit. While we thankfully use and enjoy the accommodations along the way, let it plainly appear that we do not regard this transient world as our home — but that our affections are set supremely on things which are above. Let it be manifest that we act from higher principles than those which govern the men of this poor world. May our companions, our pleasures, and our spirit plainly show that we are not of the earth — but that we are citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.

As sojourners, let us patiently endure the trials of the way. If we are faithful witnesses for the Lord — we must expect the world's scorn. But like Moses, may we esteem reproach for Christ as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. And when we find the path thorny, and the journey toilsome — let us remember that it is short, and that,

"Nightly we pitch our moving tent
 A day's march nearer home!"

"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims — abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul!" 1 Peter 2:11

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The searching, burning, purifying fires of Christ's furnace!

(Octavius Winslow, "Daily Need Divinely Supplied" 1870)

"He will sit as a Refiner and Purifier of silver — He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. " Malachi 3:3

"I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold!" Zechariah 13:9

O my soul, what deep need is there for this refining and purifying of your Lord . . .
  what inward corruption,
  what carnality,
  what worldliness,
  what self-seeking,
  what creature idolatry,
  what God dishonoring unbelief!
All these imperatively demand the searching, burning, purifying fires of Christ's furnace!  

My soul — your Refiner and Purifier is Jesus!

It is a consolatory thought that our refining is in the hands of Jesus — in the hands that were pierced for us on the cross!

Jesus shapes all your trials!

Jesus sends all your afflictions!

Jesus mixes all your sorrows!

Jesus shapes and balances all the clouds of your pilgrimage!

Jesus prepares and heats the furnace that refines you as silver and purifies you as gold!

Then, O my soul, tremble not . . .
  at the knife that wounds you,
  at the flame that scorches you,
  at the cloud that shades you,
  at the billows that surge above you.
Jesus is in it all — and you are as safe as though you had reached the blissful climate . . .
  where the vine needs no pruning,
  and where the ore needs no purifying,
  where the sky is never darkened, and
upon whose golden sands where no storms of adversity ever blow, or waves of sorrow ever break.

Mark the Refiner's position. "He will SIT as a refiner and purifier of silver." It would be fatal to his purpose, if the human refiner were to leave his post while the liquid mass was seething in the cauldron. But there he patiently sits, watching and tempering the flame, and removing the refuse and the dross as it floats upon the surface of the molten ore.

Just so, Christ sits as a Refiner . . .
  and with an eye that never slumbers,
  and with a patience that never wearies,
  and with a love that never chills,
  and with a faithfulness that never falters,
He watches and controls the process that . . .
  purifies our hearts,
  burnishes our graces,
  sanctifies our nature, and
  impresses more vividly His own image of loveliness upon our soul.

If He places you in the fire, He will bring you through the fire, "that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

But sweet and soothing is the truth that the believer is not alone in the fire! The Refiner is with us, as with the three Hebrew children passing through the king's burning furnace.

The Lord will have us be polished stones. As some believers are more rusty and some more alloyed than others — they need a rougher file, and a hotter furnace!

This may account for the great severity of trial through which some of the Lord's precious jewels are called to pass. Not less dear to His heart, are they for this refining.

Look up, my soul, to your Refiner!

The knife is in a Father's hand!

The flame is under a Savior's control!

Be still, be humble, be submissive.

"Heed the rod — and the One who appointed it!" Micah 6:9 

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

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Everybody craves for it, like a babe for its rattle!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Leaving you an example — that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

"This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did!" 1 John 2:5-6

"But," says one, "are we not to have amusements?" Yes, such amusements as you can practice in the fear of God. You may do whatever Jesus would have done.

I have nothing to say against recreation in its proper place. Certain forms of recreation are needful and useful — but it is a wretched thing when amusement becomes a lifestyle! Amusement should be used to do us good like a medicine — it must never be used as the Christian's food.

From early morning till late at night, some spend their time in a round of frivolities — or else their very work is simply carried on to furnish them funds for their pleasures. This is wicked. Many have had all holy thoughts and gracious resolutions stamped out by perpetual trifling. Pleasure, so called, is the murderer of thought!

This is the age of excessive amusement — everybody craves for it, like a babe for its rattle!

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The humblest laborers in His vineyard!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am — My servant also will be.
 My Father will honor the one who serves Me!" John 12:26

What an honor it is to be a servant of the Lord Jesus! It is an honor that is not confined to any particular condition in outward life. Not only are ministers and missionaries Christ's servants — but also the humblest laborers in His vineyard! Nor is service to Christ confined to direct efforts in spiritual work:
  the mother in the midst of her family, endeavoring by her spirit and example to train her children aright;
  the servant in the kitchen, doing her work heartily as to the Lord;
  the hard working laborer in the field;
  the attentive mechanic in the shop;
  the honest clerk in the office —
not rendering eye-service as a men-pleasers, but doing their work faithfully and well, as the Lord's redeemed people.
All of these are as truly Christ's servants — as those who are occupied more exclusively in spiritual work!

All who serve Jesus faithfully here — will dwell with Him hereafter. All who follow Him on earth in the path of self-denying love and obedience — will share His glory in Heaven.

Servant of Christ, called now to suffer reproach and shame — let the assurance of your Savior cheer you: "Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am — My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me!"

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The infinitely wise and gracious God!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"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

We love Him — because He first loved us! When we know and believe the love that God has to us — then we love Him in return. And as we increase in the knowledge of Him — we love Him not only on account of what He has done for us, but also on account of what He is in Himself. As we see His glory in the face of Jesus Christ — we adore Him and delight in Him.

Happy is the state, and glorious are the privileges of all who love God.

God causes all things to work together for their good . . .
  all their trials and their comforts,
  all their sorrows and their joys,
  all their temptations and their consolations,
are so arranged by the wisdom and goodness of God, their Father, that they contribute . . .
  to their spiritual good,
  to the humbling of their spirit,
  to their deliverance from sin and self,
  and to their glorying only in the Lord.

In themselves, many of the things which befall the Lord's people would be evil — even as in medicine, some of the ingredients are poisonous. But as a skillful physician so mixes the toxic ingredients that they work together for the health and cure of the patient — so the infinitely wise and gracious God makes all things work together for the final and eternal well-being of His people!

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Medicine for the soul!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name — you are Mine. When you go through deep waters — I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty — you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression — you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3

The people of God are not promised exemption from trial — but support under it!

The Lord does not engage to lead His children by a smooth path — but to furnish them with shoes of iron and brass, that they may safely walk the rugged and thorny road.

He does not promise to bridge over the waters of sorrow and the rivers of tribulation — but assures them of His presence as they pass through them. "I will be with you!" He says, "When you go through rivers of difficulty — you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression — you will not be burned up."

Christian pilgrim — will not this suffice?

in trial, will suit you better than exemption from it.

Affliction and sorrow, in the hands of the great Physician — are medicine for the soul!

The wounds He inflicts — are for the healing of the spirit!

The fire He may lead you through will not burn — but only purify and brighten you!

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The path by which He will conduct you will not always be smooth and pleasant

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"He led them forth by the right way — that they might go to a city of habitation." Psalm 107:7

Just so will the Lord will lead you, beloved reader, by the "right way" — if you truly yield yourself to His guidance. The path by which He will conduct you will not always be smooth and pleasant. You will have some "Hill Difficulty" to climb, and some "Valley of Humiliation" to walk in. You will have some thorny steps to tread — and occasionally you may have to pitch your tent by Marah — the waters of bitterness.

As you are led by a mysterious and circuitous way amidst perplexity and conflict — you may be ready to think that you are traveling by a needlessly painful and trying path, and that you may safely walk by some smoother one to the home of eternal rest. Do not yield to the temptation of turning aside from the path which the Lord plainly marks for you in His Word, and by the footprints of Christ. Still follow as He leads. He designs to exercise your faith, and patience, and self-denial. The way to the crown — is by the cross!

Trust, then, your All-wise Leader — and depend on His faithfulness and grace. He will surely bring you by the right way . . .
  to the city of habitation,
  to the home of the redeemed,
  to the abode of endless rest, and peace, and love!

"Jesus, on You our hope depends,
 To lead us on to Your abode,
 Assured our Home will make amends
 For all our toil while on the road!"

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Grace, 'tis a charming sound — harmonious to the ear!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"By grace are you saved through faith — and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God — not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8, 9

"Grace, 'tis a charming sound — harmonious to the ear!"

Grace pitied us in our guilty, helpless condition — and provided a Savior for us.

Grace instituted the ministry of gospel reconciliation — and brought the tidings of divine mercy to our ears.

Grace opened our blind eyes — and led us to see and feel our need of the precious blood of Christ.

Grace led us to cast away the filthy rags of our own righteousness — and to receive with thankfulness and joy, the spotless robe that Jesus wrought for us.

Grace brought us to the footstool of mercy, with the cry of the publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"

Grace enables us to live a life of dependence on Jesus alone, for all spiritual supplies.

Grace has begun a good work within us — and grace will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

By grace we are saved! "We are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus!" Romans 3:24

  'Tis not by works of righteousness
  Which our own hands have done.
  But we are saved by sovereign grace,
  Abounding through His Son!

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To him who overcomes!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"To him who overcomes . . ." Revelation 2:7

The pathway to glory is not one of flowery ease. There are . . .
  trials to be endured,
  difficulties to be surmounted,
  temptations to be resisted,
  and enemies to be encountered!

The Christian is called . . .
  to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,
  to put on the whole armor of God,
  and to fight the fight of faith.

To stimulate and cheer him in the conflict, many encouraging assurances are given — especially made to those who press forward through all difficulties, and in the strength of Christ overcome all their spiritual foes:

"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God!" Revelation 2:7

"He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death!" Revelation 2:11

"To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it!" Revelation 2:17

"He who overcomes will be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels!" Revelation 3:5

"Him who overcomes — I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God; and I will also write on him My new name!" Revelation 3:12

"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne!" Revelation 3:21

"He who overcomes will inherit all this — and I will be his God and he will be my son!" Revelation 21:7

O Lord, be my strength, give me courage, endurance, and holy fortitude! Increase my faith — that I may overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, and at last come off more than conqueror through Him who has loved me!

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Whenever our heavenly Father uses the rod of correction!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"Do not despise the chastening of the Lord — nor faint when you are rebuked by Him." Hebrews 12:5

Whenever our heavenly Father uses the rod of correction — it is in love, and for our profit. We should not, therefore, on the one hand make light of it — and on the other hand, we should not sink under it in despondency.

If we err by treating Divine correction with indifference — we thereby ask for severer treatment, for the strokes of the rod must be repeated until we feel them and submit to them!

And if we err by fainting under rebuke — it is a proof that we forget how pitiful and tender a Father corrects us, and that He intends nothing but our present profit and everlasting good. Chastening only benefits us as we are "exercised" by it — and therefore we must feel it. But if we faint — we shall fail to apprehend the gracious purposes of it.

O my Father, let me ever turn to You, when You use the rod — in submission, in trust, and love. Do not allow me to slight Your gentler rebukes, and permit me not to faint under Your severer discipline. May I remember that, though "no chastening for the present seems to be joyous but grievous — nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those who are exercised thereby."

"Heed the rod — and the One who appointed it." Micah 6:9

"Trials make the promise sweet,
 Trials give new life to prayer;
 Trials bring me to His feet,
 Lay me low, and keep me there!"

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The striped-candy technique!

(A.W. Tozer)

"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts 2:42

Without Biblical authority, or any other right under the sun — carnal religious leaders have introduced a host of attractions that serve no purpose except to provide entertainment for the retarded saints!

It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God's professed children are bored with Him — for they must be wooed to meetings with a stick of striped candy, in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.

This has influenced the whole pattern of church life, and even brought into being a new type of church architecture, designed to house the golden calf. So we have the strange anomaly of orthodoxy in creed — and heterodoxy in practice. The striped-candy technique has been so fully integrated into our present religious thinking, that it is simply taken for granted. Its victims never dream that it is not a part of the teachings of Christ and His apostles!

A church fed on worldly excitement is no New Testament church at all. The desire for surface stimulation is a sure mark of the fallen nature — the very thing Christ died to deliver us from. A curious crowd of baptized worldlings waiting each Sunday for the quasi-religious stimulant to give them a lift — bears no relation whatever to a true assembly of Christian believers. And that its members protest their undying faith in the Bible, does not change anything.

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The never-failing Fountain of blessing!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"He gives us more grace!" James 4:6

Come, then, my soul, to Him — as an empty vessel to be filled. A supply is waiting for you in Christ Jesus. "It has pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell." He is the never-failing Fountain of blessing! Out of His fullness, you may receive grace upon grace. Whatever you need — come to God in Christ for it.

Is your faith weak? He can strengthen it.

Is your hope dull? He can enliven it.

Is your love cold? He can warm it.

Is your patience failing? He can sustain it.

Is your zeal languishing? He can invigorate it.

And observe, the Lord gives not only a new supply of grace, but He also gives it in a larger measure: "He gives more grace!" He came not only that we might have life — but that we might have it "more abundantly."

Come, then, to Him with enlarged desires.
He can fill you with joy and peace in believing.
He can enable you to bear much fruit to the glory of the Father.
He can bless you, and make you a blessing to many.

O Lord, enlarge my desires, raise my expectations, and help me to receive, not only constant supplies of grace — but increased supplies out of Your fullness! For You give "more grace!"

"Open your mouth wide — and He will fill it!" Psalm 81:10

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The most accessible and precious spot!

(Octavius Winslow)

Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother." John 19:25

Take your place with Mary — near to the cross of Jesus.
There meet and blend . . .
  suffering — and love,
  sorrow — and sympathy.

Standing in faith near the cross — you are near . . .
  the suffering Savior,
  the loving Son,
  the sympathizing Brother born for your present grief.
Jesus, in the depth and tenderness of His love, is at this moment all that He was when, in soul travail — He cast that ineffable look of filial love and sympathy upon His anguished mother.

Likewise, He can enter into your circumstances, understand your grief, and sustain and soothe your spirit — as one only can, who has partaken of the cup of woe which now trembles in your hand. Drink that cup submissive to His will — for He drank deeply of it before you, and has left the fragrance of His sympathy upon its brim. Your sorrow is not new to Christ. Stand close to the cross of Jesus! It is the most accessible and precious spot on this side of Heaven — the most solemn and awesome spot on this side of eternity!

The cross of Jesus is the focus of . . .
  divine love,
  divine sympathy,
  and divine power.

Stand by it in suffering, in persecution, and in temptation. Stand by it in the brightness of prosperity — and in the gloom of adversity.
Go to Christ's cross in trouble,
repair to it in weakness,
cling to it in danger, and
hide beneath it when the wintry storm rushes fiercely over you.

Near to the cross, you are near your Father's heart, and your Savior's side. You seem to enter the gate of Heaven — to stand beneath the vestibule of glory!

Nothing but love will welcome your approach to the cross of Jesus — divine love that . . .
  pardons all your sins,
  flows over all your unworthiness,
  heals all your soul-wounds,
  soothes all your sorrows,
  and will shelter you within its blessed pavilion — until earth is exchanged for Heaven, and you lay down the warrior's sword for the victor's palm, and spring from the foot of the cross to the foot of the throne — to be forever with the your precious Lord!

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I will hold you up with My victorious right hand!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"Having obtained help from God — I continue until this day." Acts 26:22

This is the testimony of the great apostle of the Gentiles. Many were the perils to which he was exposed, and many were the hardships which he endured — but he was borne up and carried through them all by the help of God his Savior.

Just so, He who was the Helper of the great apostle — is the Helper of the feeblest child in His family, or the weakest lamb in His flock. He is your Helper, beloved Christian reader! He who has redeemed you, not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with His precious blood — will assuredly afford you seasonable aid. Look then to Him, in the discharge of your daily duties — for all needful wisdom and strength.

In domestic cares and trials — remember that your Helper is near.

In every hour of weakness and sorrow — cast yourself on His sustaining grace.

In the hour of your extremity, when human help avails nothing — then cling to Him, and listen to Him as He says,
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you!
 Do not be discouraged, for I am your God.
 I will strengthen you and help you.
 I will hold you up with My victorious right hand!" Isaiah 41:10

May this be your daily prayer, "Hold me up — and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Living upon Christ!

(Octavius Winslow, "The God of Grace")

We are as much to live upon Christ for sanctification — as for pardon and justification.

The grace which delivers us from Hell — also fits us for Heaven.
That grace which cancels our guilt — also subdues our corruptions.
That grace which emancipates us from our bondage to sin — equally dethrones the tyrant.

O wondrous, precious grace that, by its divine sanctity and power — brings first one, and then another indwelling corrupt principle, passion, and desire of our hearts — into subjection to Christ.

Precious and marvelous grace — that molds and fashions us into the image of Jesus!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I want those You have given Me to be with Me!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory!" John 17:24

Precious Savior, how does Your love to Your own redeemed people appear in these words! Nothing will satisfy You short of the eternal possession of those whom the Father has given to You, whom You have redeemed with Your own most precious blood, and sanctified by Your Spirit. It is Your will that they should be with You. You would have them in Your presence and in Your home — that they may behold You face to face, and share Your glory and Your joy!

And the love of Your redeemed people answers to Your love to them — their chief desire is be with You where You are. The visits of Your love to them here on earth, are their seasons of highest enjoyment — but they are transient, and they see You only as in a glass darkly. They desire to be with You far away from this world of pollution and sin — with You in the place which You have prepared for them! They desire . . .
  to forever abide with You,
  to forever dwell where You dwell,
  to forever behold Your glory, and
  to enjoy continual manifestations of Your love — and so forever be with their precious Savior.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

By the grace of God I am what I am!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

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

All that I am . . .
  as a child of God,
  as a servant of Christ,
  as an heir of Heavenly glory
 — I am by the grace of God!

Am I cleansed from the guilt of my sins? It was Your grace, O God of love, which opened the fountain that washed it all away!

Am I justified? It was Your grace that provided the spotless robe of righteousness, in which I stand accepted before You.

Am I sanctified? It is not by works of righteousness which I have done, but by Your grace I am saved from the love and power of my sins.

Am I bearing any fruit to Your glory? It is by Your grace in Christ Jesus — for apart from Him, I could do nothing.

Am I different from what I once was, or from the ungodly who have their portion in this world? It is Your grace alone which has made me to differ. I have nothing which I have not received from You.

"By the grace of God I am what I am!"
  A pardoned sinner,
  a justified believer,
  an adopted child,
  an heir of glory!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Here is a prohibition and an admonition

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2

Here is a prohibition and an admonition. O Lord, give me grace to avoid what You forbid — and to do what you enjoin.

Enable me to avoid compliance with those customs and ways of the world which are contrary to Your will.

While in the world — let me not be of it.

Give me grace to come out and to be separate from its ungodly principles and sinful pleasures.

Transform me by the renewal of my mind.

Deliver me from pride, from selfishness, and vain-glory.

Afford me a continual supply of the grace of Christ.

Impress His image on me — and help me to tread in His steps.

Let it plainly appear that I am not of the world — even as He was not of the world. John 17:16

O Lord, work in me to will and to act according to Your good pleasure.

"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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I am my Beloved's — and my Beloved is mine!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"I am my Beloved's — and my Beloved is mine!" Song of Songs 6:3

The Lord Jesus Christ is not only the Father's beloved Son — He is the believer's beloved Savior.

Jesus is the object of a Christian's adoring love — as well as of his hearty trust.

He loves Him — because He laid down His life to redeem him. He also loves Him for what He is in Himself. He loves Him for His personal glories, and for the excellence of His character:

"All human beauties — all Divine,
 In His Beloved meet and shine!"

He is to him the chief among ten thousand, and "altogether lovely." What especially affords him satisfaction, is that he can claim Christ as his own — and that Christ also claims him as His own! His joy is supreme, when with assurance he can say, "I am my Beloved's — and He is mine!"

Every believer who heartily receives Christ as his Savior, his Substitute, and as his Lord and Master, and who unreservedly yields himself to Him — is warranted to claim Christ as His own, and to know also that he is Christ's.

"Oh! I am my Beloved's,
 And my Beloved is mine!
 He feasts a poor vile sinner,
 With love and grace Divine!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He grew prayerless, unwatchful, self-confident, worldly and proud!

(Octavius Winslow, "Eminent Holiness Essential to an Efficient Ministry")

Although the evidences of a deteriorating piety in a minister may not be so conspicuous to the eye — they are not the less decided in their character, and painful in their consequences.

Externally, there may be nothing tending to awaken suspicion that the life of God in our soul is passing through a process of decline.
The appropriate functions of our office are going forward with the utmost regularity and zeal;
the study witnesses to the wearisome hours of hard reading and severe thought;
the pulpit is regularly and ably filled;
the ordinances are duly and seriously administered; and
the pastoral duties are systematically and affectionately discharged.

And yet a faithful, honest, and close examination of our souls would probably detect . . .
  an alarming distance from God in the habitual frame of our mind,
  but little real, close communion with Him in secret prayer,
  coldness and deadness, gathering and congealing around the spirit,
  a waning love for, and delight in, our work,
  a decreasing sense of individual and ministerial responsibility, and
  a lessening apprehension of the nearness and solemnity of eternity.

To so great a degree may the anointing oil have evaporated from our minds — so formal, cold, and mechanical may be the spirit with which the duties of our office are discharged — we shall be found to go forward in a work that might "fill an angel's hand, and that filled a Savior's heart" — with but the slow and dying vibrations of the pendulum, when the power which first set it in motion has ceased to exist.

And oh! my brethren . . .
  with no power to move us, but that which is artificial;
  with no love to our work, but that which is professional;
  with no interest in its discharge, but that which is selfish;
  and with no desire of success, but that which spreads far our own petty fame —
to what low, contemptible drudgery is our high office reduced! No galley slave could be more pitiable than we!

The falls of so many ministers, are awful and affecting warnings to those who think they stand. The bleak shores of eternity are strewed with the fragments of many a beautiful wreck — men who once stood high in the church — too high for their own safety — but who made shipwreck of their profession and their faith, and now serve as beacons of warning to those who follow.

What do I see yonder?
A spectacle over which demons have exulted, the church has mourned — and, if it is possible, angels have wept!

I knew him well. He was my compeer in age, my associate in study, the companion of my walks, the confidant of my bosom. His fine mind was redolent of thought, his bright eye gleamed with genius, his tall and manly form was fascinating in its appearance. Few men ever entered the Christian ministry with higher prospects, or awoke in the hearts of friends, and of the church — richer, fonder hopes. He bid fair, as his sun arose to its zenith, to be a bright and a shining light. Distinguished posts of labor were offered to him. Crowds, eager to receive his instructions, clustered around his pulpit, drawn together by the tender, subduing eloquence of his lips.

But — he fell! and fell deeply, awfully! The church entrusted to him the keeping of the vineyards — but his own vineyard, he kept not. Laboring for the salvation of others, he labored not for his own. He grew prayerless, unwatchful, self-confident, worldly and proud — and by slow but certain and fatal degrees, he descended from his lofty eminence! His sun went down while it was yet day, and around him is now gathered in thick and solemn folds — the dark pall of guilt, of infamy, and of shame! "Bemoan him, all you who are around him; and all you who know his name. Say: How the strong staff is broken, and the beautiful rod!" Jeremiah 48:17

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It is the blood of Jesus, applied by the Spirit

(Octavius Winslow)

There is a perpetual proneness to seek our fruitfulness from anything but a close, spiritual, and constant dealing with the cross of Jesus. But as well might we expect the earth to clothe itself with verdure, or the tree to blossom, and the blossom ripen into fruit, without the sun's genial warmth — as to look for fruitfulness in a regenerate soul, without a constant dealing with the Lord Jesus Christ. For just what the sun is to the kingdom of nature, Jesus the Sun of righteousness is to the kingdom of grace — the blessed source of all its verdure, fragrance, and fruitfulness. Then, let all your expectations be centered here.

No real good can come to you, no healing to your spirit, no fruitfulness to your soul, from a perpetual living upon convictions of sin, legal fears, or transient joys — the Divine life can derive no nourishment from these. But live upon the atoning blood of Jesus — here is the fatness of your soul found. This is that which heals the wound, wins the heart, and hushes to repose every fear of condemnation. This is that which enables a poor sinner to look fully at God — feeling that justice, holiness, truth, and every Divine perfection are on his side.

It is the blood of Jesus, applied by the Spirit — which moistens each fiber of the root of holiness in the soul, and is productive of its fruitfulness. This is that which sends the warm current of life through every part of the regenerate man, quickening the pulse of love, and imparting a healthy and vigorous power to every act of obedience.

And when the spiritual seasons change — for it is not always spring-time with the soul of a child of God; when the summer's sun withers, or the autumnal blast scatters the leaves, and winter's fiercer storm beats upon the smitten bough — then the blood and righteousness of Christ, lived upon, loved, and cherished — will yet sustain the Divine life in the soul, and in due season the spring blossom and the summer fruit shall again appear, proving that the Divine life of a believer is "hid with Christ in God." 

Then shall be said of you, as was said of the church by her Beloved: "Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone. The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air. The fig trees are forming young fruit, and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming. Rise up, My darling! Come away with Me, My fair one!"

Then let your heart respond, "Awake, north wind! Rise up, south wind! Blow on my garden and spread its fragrance all around. Come into Your garden, my Beloved — taste its finest fruits!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Rejecting the cross — they will lose the crown!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"If any man will come after Me — let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me!" Matthew 16:24

Our Lord and Savior plainly states that discipleship involves self-denial. He who would tread in the steps of Christ — must be prepared to take up his cross. It was no path of flowery ease that the Savior trod — and anyone who would follow Him must be determined . . .
  to resist self and sin,
  to accept the world's scorn, and
  to take up any cross that might lie in the path of obedience and service.

Those who habitually consult their own ease, who indulge sinful self, and will not take up a cross for Christ — are not His true disciples. Rejecting the cross — they will lose the crown!

Surely, the remembrance of the Cross that Jesus bore for us, and on which He bled and died to redeem us from the curse of the law and all the fearful consequences of sin — should lead us cheerfully to take up any cross that we might be called to bear for Him. 

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence, my all shall be!

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure,
Come disaster, scorn and pain.
In Thy service, pain is pleasure,
With Thy favor, loss is gain!

I have called Thee Abba Father,
I have stayed my heart on Thee.
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather;
All must work for good to me!

Soon shall close my earthly mission,
Soon shall pass my pilgrim days.
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise!
   ~ Henry Lyte

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May you know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"May you know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge!" Ephesians 3:19

Christ's love surpasses knowledge! Blessed fact! His love is so vast, so full, so free — that it cannot in its completeness be comprehended by finite minds. But enough of it may be known to satisfy our longing hearts, and to fill us with joy and peace.

Let it be our constant desire to know and feel the Savior's love. Let us dwell with wonder and delight on that marvelous manifestation of it — the sin-atoning sacrifice of Himself for us! What love must that be, that led Him to die, even the death of the cross, for our sins! "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" — but Jesus died for His enemies!

Did He die for us as His enemies — then what is His love to us now that we are His friends? It is unutterable!

May the Holy Spirit reveal Christ's love to us now in such measure as we may be able to understand and enjoy it; but the full disclosures of it await that period when we shall be with Him, and shall see Him as He is!

"May you have the power to understand, as all God's people should — how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is!" Ephesians 3:18