Grace Gems for SEPTEMBER, 2017

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Who cares for pebbles — when jewels glitter before him?
(Charles Spurgeon)
"To rule a kingdom, is a nobler matter than to play with marbles."
What, then, is the folly of the worldling's choice, when he prefers to be contending among men for earthly toys — instead of seeking those eternal treasures above!
How great is the degradation of professing Christians, when their minds are taken up with fashionable trivialities — instead of living alone to glorify their God, and acting as those whom Jesus has made to be kings and priests!
Who cares for pebbles — when jewels glitter before him?
Who would choose toys and rattles — when the wealth of the Indies is offered him?
Let us be no longer children or fools — but act as men who have put away childish things.
"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ — keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above — not on the things that are on earth!" Colossians 3:1-2

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The path of the scissors!

(Lewis Bayly, "The Practice of Piety" 1611)

"For who makes you to differ from another? And what do you have, that you did not receive?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

We are all . . .
  fashioned from the same mold,
  hewed out of the same rock,
  made as it were, of the same cloth
 — the path of the scissors making the only difference between one person and another. It is therefore only the sovereign love and grace of God, which makes all the difference between us.

No believer should ever insolently demean the unsaved, who, like miserable drudges, allow their corrupt nature to carry them to any villainy, lust, or lewd course; and who damn themselves in the devil's slavery!

Alas! our hearts should bleed within us at beholding so many around us imbruing their cruel hands in the blood of their own souls — by their ignorance, worldliness, drunkenness, lust, unbelief and scoffing at true religion.

What heart, except it be hewed out of the hardest rock, or has sucked the bosom of merciless tigers; but would yearn and weep to see a man made of the same mold with himself, willfully, as it were, against a thousand warnings, and God's many compassionate invitations — cast himself, body and soul, into the endless, easeless, and remediless miseries of Hell? We should the rather pity and pray for such a one who follows the bent of his own evil heart — to his own everlasting perdition!

It is only the sovereign mercy, goodness, and grace of God which has made the difference between them and us. If God should give us over to the unbridled current of our corrupt nature — we might be worse than them, and run riot in this world of wickedness. If the same God visits them in mercy — they may become every way as godly, or better than us!

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

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They would pass by these glittering unrealities

(J.R. Miller)

"Will you set your eyes upon that which is not? Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone — for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle!" Proverbs 23:5

People are badly cheated in this world. They often imagine that gold, silver, houses, lands, and stocks are the real treasures. So they toil for these things and gather them into their possession, and pile up what they suppose to be wealth. Thus they live like princes in their fine houses, and call themselves millionaires.

But one day their supposed riches take to themselves wings and fly away like eagles to the skies. Or they may keep their wealth, perhaps, and die at last in the midst of it, and have a great funeral. But then they find that they cannot carry a penny of it with them!

"How much did he leave?" was asked about a rich man who had died.

"He left all of it!"
was the answer.

If men only knew that there are other things far more worth setting eyes and heart upon — things which will never fly away — they would pass by these glittering unrealities — to lay hold of the true riches!

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

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He left Heaven for us!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")

"If anyone would come after Me — he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Matthew 16:24

Let the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, work us into a gracious willingness to embrace sufferings for His sake, and cheerfully and resolutely to take up His cross and follow Him.

Did Christ suffer, who knew no sin — and shall we think it strange to suffer, who know nothing but sin?

Shall He lie sweltering under His Father's wrath — and shall we cry out under men's anger?

Was He crowned with thorns — and must we be crowned with rose-buds?

Was His whole life, from the cradle to the cross, made up of nothing but sorrows and sufferings — and must our lives, from the cradle to the grave, be filled up with nothing but pleasures and delights?

Was He despised — and must we be admired?

Was He debased — and must we be exalted?

Was He poor — and must we be rich?

Was He low — and must we be high?

Did He drink of a bitter cup, a bloody cup — and must we have only cups of consolation?

Let us not think anything too much to do for Christ,
nor anything too great to suffer for Christ,
nor anything too dear to part with for such a Christ, such a Savior — who thought nothing too much to do, nor too grievous to suffer — so that He might accomplish the work of our redemption!

He left Heaven for us — and shall not we let go of this world for Him?

He left his Father's bosom for us — and shall not we leave the bosoms of our dearest relations for him?

He underwent all sorts of sufferings for us — let us as readily encounter with all sorts of sufferings for Him.

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The object of God's tender, perfect and ceaseless care!

(James Smith, "Divine Care!" 1865)

"Casting all your care upon Him — for He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7

Our cares must be cast upon our God, or they will prove a burden too heavy for us — they will depress, bewilder, and make us wretched!

WHO is it that cares for us?

It is the Lord Almighty — the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy!
It is He whom the angels obey, the seraphim adore, and all creation glorifies!
It is the Lord — who is so great, that we have no adequate conception of His greatness!
It is He who is so good — that it is impossible fully to set forth His goodness!
It is He who is so glorious — that no sinner can see His face and live!
It is He who created all things with His Word!
It is He who governs all things by His wisdom!
It is He who upholds all things by His power!
It is He whose resources are infinite!
It is He whose compassion is exquisite!
It is He whose patience is without limit!

But though He is so exalted, so happy, and so unspeakably great — He cares for you!

He cares for you — as base as you are.
He cares for you — as sinful as you are.
He cares for you — as depressed and discouraged as you are.

HE cares for YOU!

May I pass through the present world under the impression, "I am the object of God's tender, perfect and ceaseless care!"

"Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22

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Reader! have you enjoyed the presence of Jesus today?

(James Smith, "A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"Abide with us — for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." Luke 24:29

The presence of Jesus, is the life and the joy of the saints. When we enjoy it — we dread the thought of losing it; and when we have lost it — we cannot rest until we have regained it. That is a gloomy day — in which the presence of Jesus is not enjoyed; and that is a dreary night — when Jesus is absent from us.

Reader! have you enjoyed the presence of Jesus today?
Has He communed with your spirit, thereby . . .
  strengthening your faith,
  exciting your hope, and
  deepening your comfort?

If so, I know that your prayer tonight will be, "Abide with me! Yes, precious Lord Jesus, we do beseech You to visit us, converse with us, open up the Scriptures to us, and abide with us. Let us feast our eyes on Your glory — and our hearts on Your grace. With You, we can feel at home — we can be happy anywhere. Without You, we cannot rest, we cannot feel satisfied, we cannot enjoy repose — let us have whatever we may. You have won our heart's love — You have made yourself the center and source of our comfort. Come, then, and abide with us this evening — and then a blessed evening it will be. Your presence will free us from all our cares, and raise us above all our troubles. Your presence will feast us, refresh us, and make us satisfied with our lot, be it what it may!"

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That time has arrived!

(Arthur Pink)

"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth, and turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:1-4

That time has arrived! Church-goers today will not endure "sound doctrine." Those . . .
   who preach the total depravity of man,
   who insist upon the imperative necessity of the new birth,
   who set forth the inflexible righteousness and holiness of God, and
   who warn against the eternal and conscious torment awaiting every rejecter of Christ,
find it almost impossible to obtain a hearing! Such preachers are regarded as puritanic pessimists, and are not wanted.

In these degenerate times, the masses demand that which will soothe them in their sins — and amuse them while they journey down the Broad Road which leads to eternal destruction! The multitude is affected with "itching ears" which crave novelty and that which will amuse them.

Not only are many of our Seminaries cesspools of spiritual corruption,
not only are hundreds of our pulpits now filled by traitors to the cause they profess to champion,
not only is every cardinal doctrine of the faith attacked and denied by the very ones paid to defend them —
but the evil effects of such teaching from our religious leaders have influenced multitudes of souls committed to their care.

The man in the pew, following the lead of his teachers, has lost faith in the Bible as a Divine revelation, and in consequence, no longer submits to its authority.

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Their greatest obstacle in the way of spiritual growth and transformed character

(J.R. Miller, "The Transfigured Life!" 1893)

Nothing helps more to develop the transfigured life in us, than work. Some people chafe because they have so much to do. Their days are filled from morning to night with dreary, monotonous task-work. With men it is the never-ending work of the farm, the office, the store, the shop, the mill. With women it is the thousand duties of the household, the care of the home, the tending of children, the weary chores of domestic life.

There are many people who think their greatest obstacle in the way of spiritual growth and transformed character — is in the drudgeries to which they are indentured by their condition. They imagine that if they could be freed from these and could have leisure for reading, for study, and for fellowship — then they would grow into far more radiant beauty of character.

But this is a mistaken impression. The only one perfect life the world has ever known, was not spent with a book — but with a hammer and a saw! The school of common taskwork, with its perpetual round of dreary duties — is the best place in the world in which to attain noble spiritual culture. There is no other way in which one's life will be so surely, so quickly transfigured — as in the faithful, cheerful doing of every-day tasks.

We need to remember that this world is not so much a place for doing things — as for developing character. Household life is not primarily a sphere for good cooking, tidy keeping of rooms, thorough sweeping and dusting, careful nursing and training of children, hospitable entertainment of friends, and the thousand things that must be done each day; it is a sphere for transforming women's souls into radiant beauty.

The shop, the mill, the factory, the store, the office, the farm — are not primarily places for making machines, selling goods, weaving cloths, building engines, and growing crops; they are, first of all, places for making men, building character, growing souls.

Right in the midst of what some people call drudgery — is the very best place to get the transformed, transfigured life! The doing of common tasks patiently, promptly, faithfully, cheerfully — makes the character beautiful and bright!

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We have seen such a tragic repetition of it in our own days

(Arthur Pink)

"With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction!" Hosea 8:4

Sad indeed is the above passage — and the more so, because we have seen such a tragic repetition of it in our own days.

Oh what earthly-mindedness, what indulging of the flesh, what sinful extravagance — are now seen among professing Christians today!

How practical godliness has waned;
how the denying of self has disappeared;
how covetousness, pleasure and worldliness now possess the great majority of those calling themselves the people of God.

Yet as great as the sin of the people is — far greater is that of most of the preachers, who, instead of warning, admonishing, rebuking, and setting before their people an example of sobriety and contentment — criminally remain silent upon the crying sins of their hearers, while they themselves encourage the reckless indulgence of worldly lusts.

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The providences of God are often dark and mysterious!

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"Your way is in the sea — and Your path is in the great waters. Your footsteps may not be known." Psalm 77:19

The providences of God are often dark and mysterious. It is not easy to ascertain why the Lord acts as He does — or to find out the precise object which He has in view. He carries on His work according to His eternal and pre-ordained plan — and He accomplishes His purposes often by the most unlikely means. He works all things after the counsel of His own will — and He works leisurely, having no cause to hurry. We are naturally hasty, and want to know what God means at once. But He says, "Be still. Wait. Watch. Let patience have her perfect work."

We may not be able to account for our trials, troubles, losses, and crosses — but all will be made plain by-and-by. "Jesus said to him: You do not understand now what I am doing — but you will understand later on." John 13:7

We now know in part — but we shall soon know even as also we are known. And until then, we may well be patient — assured that God is acting wisely, lovingly, and is consulting our good in all that He does.

O wonder-working God, Your dealings with us are often dark, and difficult to be understood! Give us faith to believe Your promises — when we cannot understand Your providences. Let us be assured of Your love to us — when we cannot ascertain the design of Your dealings with us. Preserve us from a repining, complaining, and unbelieving spirit — and grant us grace that we may rest satisfied that You are acting rightly. May we learn, in whatever state we are — therewith to be content. With patience may we do and suffer Your will at present — being fully assured that all will be explained and opened up to us at length. O to be enabled . . .
  to rest on Your covenant love,
  to trust Your faithful promises, and
  to commit all of our ways unto You!

"All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth — to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies!" Psalm 25:10

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Preserving grace before regeneration

(J.C. Philpot, "Daily Words for Zion's Wayfarers")

"To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ." Jude 1

What a mercy it is for God's people, that before they have a 'vital union' with Christ, before they are grafted into Him experimentally — they have an 'eternal union' with Him before all worlds. It is by virtue of this eternal union, that they come into the world . . .
   at such a time,
   at such a place,
   from such parents,
   under such circumstances
 — just as God has appointed.

It is by virtue of this eternal union, that all the circumstances of their lives are ordained. By virtue of this eternal union, they are preserved in Christ before they are effectually called.

They cannot die — until God has brought about a vital union with Christ!

Whatever sickness they may pass through, whatever injuries they may be exposed to, whatever perils assault them on sea or land — die they will not, die they cannot — until God's purposes are executed in bringing them into a vital union with the Son of His love.

Thus, this eternal union watched over every circumstance of their birth, watched over their childhood, watched over their manhood — watched over them until the appointed time and spot, when "the God of all grace," according to His eternal purpose, was pleased to quicken their souls, and thus bring about an experimental union with the Lord of life and glory!

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If chastisement were not necessary

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"No chastening seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

Afflictions are always painful — and days of affliction are often gloomy. But as we are training for eternity, as we are maturing for Heaven, and as afflictions are necessary discipline — we must be afflicted. If chastisement were not necessary — then our loving Father would never use the rod. But as every one of us needs correction — He chastens every son whom He receives. God's chastisements are intended for our instruction — they are designed to teach us . . .
  the evil of sin,
  our need of grace,
  the holiness of God,
  the preciousness of Jesus,
  the emptiness of the world,
  and the blessedness of Heaven.
These are lessons of the deepest importance to us — lessons that we are slow to learn; and therefore we must have line upon line, and stroke upon stroke.

Heavenly Father, help us to bow to Your sovereign will, to bear with patience every stroke of Your rod, and to learn the holy and important lessons which You intend to teach us. May we not only submit to Your discipline — but, seeing the love which ordains it, and the need there is for it — even acquiesce in it. Keep us from fretting at pain, repining at losses, or giving way to too much grief at bereavements — knowing that all these things come from You, and that You design them for our good. Help us to understand that every trial and every trouble is a blessing — and will end in eternal glory. Sweet thought!

O for grace to yield ourselves to You — and to sweetly acquiesce in all Your paternal dealings!

"Blessed is the man whom God corrects — so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty." Job 5:17

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All that we need drops from His palm!

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"The eyes of all look to You — and You give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand, and satisfy the desires of every living thing." Psalm 145:15-16

All our supplies come from God, therefore our dependence should be on Him, and our expectations from Him. Creatures act towards us in kindness and sympathy — according to His direction.

The eyes of all creation are upon the Lord, and all the tribes of His creatures are fed by His hand. How much more, then, should His children look to Him, seek from Him, and expect to be supplied by Him!

Whatever God does — He does wisely and seasonably; and whatever He gives — is in season. When our needs are felt, and our cry is heard — then our supply is certain. It is but for God to open His hand — and all that we need drops from His palm! When God's hand opens — our desires will soon be satisfied. Every temporal mercy, every spiritual gift, and all the supplies needed by our souls — lie in the hand of God for us. He loves for us to fix our eyes on Him, to lift up our voice to Him, and seek every blessing from Him.

Merciful Lord, You have fed us this day. Your loving heart and open hand have supplied all our needs. We gratefully acknowledge Your wondrous goodness, and bless You for Your suitable supplies. And now, O Lord, close up the day with us in mercy — give us a sense of Your forgiving love, and faith in Your protecting care. Help us to cast every care on You, and to fall asleep tonight as on a parent's bosom. Let Your peace pervade us, and inspire us with strong confidence in Your providential protection.

"Behold, as the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress — so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till He shows us His mercy." Psalm 123:2

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We not only need help every day — but every moment!

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"Help me, O Lord my God! O save me according to Your mercy." Psalm 109:26

We not only need help every day — but every moment!

Our weakness is extreme.
Our foes are numerous and mighty.
Our duties are difficult and arduous.
Our dangers are great and imminent.
How, then, shall we be able to stand, to conquer, to overcome?

Our God has said, "I will strengthen you — yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness!" Blessed be His holy name — He is as good as His Word!
He has helped us in every need.
He has helped us out of every difficulty.
He has helped us all through our journey until this day.
And tonight He is as ready to help us as He ever was.
  His ear is open.
  His heart throbs with infinite love to us.
  His throne of grace is accessible.
  His mercy is rich and free!

With such thoughts as these in our minds, O Lord, we approach You tonight, confessing to Your honor — that you ever have helped us; and now beseeching You to help us quite through the rough journey of life. Help us, O our God . . .
  to conquer our inbred lusts;
  to overcome and crucify the old man;
  to mortify the flesh with its vile affections;
  to overcome this present evil world;
  and to tread Satan under our feet.

Help us, as Your chosen people, holy and dearly loved by You — to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; and, above all, love, which is the bond of perfectness. Save, O save us, from all pride, self-sufficiency, high-mindedness, and worldly wisdom.
Make us humble, meek, and deeply spiritual.
Fill us with the spirit of Jesus.
Produce in us the temper of Jesus.
Enable us exactly to copy the example of Jesus.
O make us Christ-like and holy!

"Answer me, O LORD, out of the goodness of your love; turn unto me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies." Psalm 69:16

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One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life!

(J.R. Miller)

"As your days — so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25

One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life
, is to live one day at a time. Really, we never have anything to do any day — but the bit of God's will for that day. If we do that well — we have absolutely nothing else to do.
Time is given to us in days. It was so from the beginning. This breaking up of time into little daily portions means a great deal more than we are accustomed to think. For one thing, it illustrates the gentleness and goodness of God. It would have made life intolerably burdensome if a year, instead of a day — had been the unit of division. It would have been hard to carry a heavy load, to endure a great sorrow, or to keep on at a hard duty — for such a long stretch of time. How dreary our common task-work would be — if there were no breaks in it, if we had to keep our hand to the plough for a whole year! We never could go on with our struggles, our battles, our suffering — if night did not mercifully settle down with its darkness, and bid us rest and renew our strength.

We do not understand how great a mercy there is for us in the briefness of our short days. If they were even twice as long as they are — life would be intolerable! Many a time when the sun goes down — we feel that we could scarcely have gone another step. We would have fainted in defeat — if the summons to rest had not come just when it did.

We see the graciousness of the divine thoughtfulness in giving us time in periods of little days, which we can easily get through with — and not in great years, in which we would faint and fall by the way. It makes it possible for us to go on through all the long years and not to be overwrought, for we never have given to us at any one time — more than we can do between the morning and the evening.

If we learn well the lesson of living just one day at a time, without anxiety for either yesterday or tomorrow, we shall have found one of the great secrets of Christian peace. That is the way God teaches us to live. That is the lesson both of the Bible and of nature. If we learn it, it will cure us of all anxiety; it will save us from all feverish haste; it will enable us to live sweetly in any experience.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

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The lock-smith's great bunch of keys!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"He has given us His very great and precious promises!" 2 Peter 1:4
God's promises are precious, because they tell of exceedingly great and precious things. We have promises in the Bible which time would fail us to repeat, which for breadth and length are immeasurable. They deal with every great thing which the soul can need:
  promises of pardoned sin,
  promises of sanctification,
  promises of teaching,
  promises of guidance,
  promises of upholding,
  promises of ennobling,
  promises of progress,
  promises of consolation,
  promises of perfection.

In this blessed book you have . . .
  promises for time — and promises for eternity;
  promises for every condition every believer!

I sometimes liken God's promises to the lock-smith's great bunch of keys which he brings when you have lost the key of your chest, and cannot unlock it. He feels pretty sure that out of all the keys upon his ring, some one or another will fit, and he tries them with patient industry. At last — yes — that is it — he has loosened the bolt, and now you can get at your treasures!

In the same way, there is always a promise in the volume of inspiration, suitable to your present case.

The promises are precious in themselves . . .
  from their suitability to us,
  from their coming from God,
  from their being immutable,
  from their being sure of performance, and
  from their containing wrapped up within themselves, all that every child of God can ever need!

"He has given us His very great and precious promises!"

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If we were what we profess to be, and what we should be

(Charles Spurgeon)

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men — they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus!" Acts 4:13
A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. You have read "Lives of Christ" — beautifully and eloquently written. But the best life of Christ is His living biography, written out in the words and actions of His people.

If we were what we profess to be, and what we should be — we would be pictures of Christ! Yes, such striking likenesses of Him that the world would, when they once beheld us, exclaim, "He has been with Jesus! He has been taught of Him! He is like Him! He has caught the very idea of the holy Man of Nazareth, and he works it out in his life and everyday actions!"

"He who says he abides in Him — ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6

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Five Short Rules for Christians

(Brownlow North, 1810-1875)

1. Never neglect daily private prayer; and when you pray, remember that God is present, and that He hears your prayers.

2. Never neglect daily private Bible reading; and when you read, remember that God is speaking to you, and that you are to believe and act upon all that He says.

3. Never let a day pass without trying to do something for Jesus. Every day reflect on what Jesus has done for you — and then ask yourself, "What am I doing for Him?"

4. If you are in doubt as to a thing being right or wrong — then go to your room and kneel down and ask God's blessing on it. If you cannot do this, then it is wrong.

5. Never take your standard of Christianity from other Christians — or argue that because such and such people do so and so — therefore, you may. You are to ask yourself, "How would Jesus act in my place?" — and strive to follow Him alone.

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That miracle of Divine grace wrought in the soul

(Arthur Pink)

Regeneration is that miracle of Divine grace wrought in the soul . . .
  which enlists the affections Godward,
  which brings the human will into subjection to the Divine,
  and which produces a real and radical change in the life.
That change is from worldliness — to godliness; from disobedience — to obedience.

At the new birth, the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and that love is manifested in a dominating longing and sincere purpose to please in all things, the One who has plucked me as a brand from the burning. There is a greater difference between the genuine Christian and the deceived professing Christian — than there is between a living man and a corpse. None need remain in doubt, if they will honestly measure themselves by the Holy Word of God.

Ah, dear readers, the test is fruit! Not knowledge, not boastings, not orthodoxy, not joy — but fruit; and such "fruit" as mere nature cannot produce. It is the fruit of the Vine — namely, likeness to Christ, being conformed to His image. May the Holy Spirit search each one of us.

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His mercy is a boundless, fathomless, endless ocean!

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive — and abundant in mercy to all who call upon You." Psalm 86:5

What a beautiful representation of God is this! How comforting, at the close of another day's cares and troubles, sorrows and sins — to be reminded that our "God is good," and especially that He is "ready to forgive" — ready to pardon all the faults and follies of this day — ready to pass them by, and still treat me as His beloved child!

He only requires me to confess and be sorry for my sins — and in a moment, all is forgiven, all is forgotten, and forgotten forever!

Then He is "abundant in mercy." The fountain of His mercy has not yet run dry. Run dry! It is not in the least diminished! His mercy is a boundless, fathomless, endless ocean!

God has plenty of mercy for miserable sinners . . .
  mercy to pardon them,
  mercy to purify them,
  mercy to comfort them,
  mercy to save them —
mercy for all who call upon Him!

O my soul, take home tonight this lovely representation of your God, and believing that He is good, ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy — go to Him, call upon Him, and plead with Him. Then you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help you in every time of need.

Good and gracious God, I adore You for Your goodness; I bless You that You are ready to forgive; I rejoice that You are abundant in mercy. And now, O Lord, glorify Your mercy in me — show Your readiness to forgive, in me! Let my heart be eased of every sorrow — and let my conscience be cleansed from every sin! Let me lie down to rest tonight guiltless — rejoicing in the glorious fact that You have blotted out my sins as a cloud, and my transgressions as a thick cloud, and are now at eternal peace with me!

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We ought to hate it with a deadly hatred!

(J.C. Ryle)

"As He drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a dead person was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow." Luke 7:12

We see here, what sorrow sin has brought into the world. We are told of a funeral at Nain. All funerals are mournful things, but it is difficult to imagine a funeral more mournful than the one here described. It was the funeral of a young man, and that young man the only son of his mother, and that mother a widow. There is not an item in the whole story, which is not full of misery. And all this misery, be it remembered, was brought into the world by sin. God did not create it at the beginning, when He made all things "very good." Sin is the cause of it all! "Sin entered into the world" when Adam fell, "and death by sin." Romans 5:12

Let us never forget this solemn truth. The world around us is full of sorrow. Sickness, and pain, and infirmity, and poverty, and labor, and trouble — abound on every side. From one end of the world to the other — the history of families is full of lamentation, and weeping, and mourning, and woe.

And whence does it all come? Sin is the fountain and root to which all must be traced. There would neither have been tears, nor illness, nor deaths, nor funerals in the earth — if there had been no sin. We must bear this state of things patiently. We cannot alter it. We may thank God that there is a remedy in the Gospel, and that this present life is not all. But in the meantime, let us lay the blame at the right door. Let us lay the blame on sin.

How much we ought to hate sin! Instead of loving it, cleaving to it, dallying with it, excusing it, playing with it — we ought to hate it with a deadly hatred! Sin is the great murderer, and thief, and pestilence, and nuisance of this world. Let us make no peace with it. Let us wage a ceaseless warfare against it. It is "the abominable thing which God hates!" Happy is he who is of one mind with God, and can say, I "abhor that which is evil." Romans 12:9

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Christ in the sick room

(J.C. Ryle)

"In those days King Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death! The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said: 'This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.' Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 'Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.' And Hezekiah wept bitterly." Isaiah 38:1-3

Sickness, disease, decay, and death are the common lot of all mankind without exception. You have a striking proof of this in the chapter from which my text is taken. The Holy Spirit shows us a king and ruler of men, a dweller in palaces, a possessor of all that money can obtain, a good man, a holy man, a friend of God — laid low by disease, like the poorest man in the kingdom. Hear what the Holy Spirit says, "In those days King Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death!"

This is the old story. It is the history of every child of Adam for the last 6,000 years — except for Enoch and Elijah. It is as true of the infant who only lives a few hours — as it is true of Methuselah who lived 969 years. The story of every patriarch in the fifth of Genesis concludes with the simple words, "and he died."

There is no discharge in this war. Sooner or later, all die. There is no exemption for any rank or class or condition. High and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple, learned and unlearned, kings and their subjects, saints and sinners — all alike are liable to disease and all must submit to the King of Terrors. The admirals and generals who have left behind a world-wide reputation, the statesmen who have swayed senates and made indelible marks on the history of their own time — are all carried one after another to the grave. Rich men, in spite of all their privileges, enjoy no immunity from sickness and death.

No medical skill can prevent death. Our physicians and surgeons are unwearied in their efforts to find new remedies and modes of treatment. They compass sea and land in order to prevent disease, discover remedies, diminish pain, and lengthen life. But in spite of all that medicine and surgery can do — there is something which the ablest doctors find beyond their reach. When the time appointed by God comes — they cannot keep men and women alive.

After all, there is nothing amazing in this. The tent in which our soul lives — the human body — is a most frail and complicated machine. From the sole of the foot to the crown of the head — there is not a part of us which is not liable to disease. When I think of the variety of ailments which may assail our frame, I do not so much wonder that we die at last — as that we live so long.

But whence comes this liability to sickness, disease, and death? How are we to account for it? This is a question which will arise in many minds — and it is one which ought to be answered. Perfection is the ordinary mark of all God's handiwork — perfection in the heavens above us, and the earth beneath us — perfection in the movements of a planets — and perfection in a fly's wing, or a blade of grass. Look through a telescope or microscope at anything which God created — and you find nothing defective. How then can we account for the power of disease, decay, and death over the body of man?

There is only one book which supplies an answer to this question. That book is the Bible. The fall of man at the beginning, has brought sin into the world — and sin has brought with it the curse of sickness, suffering,  pain, and death. These are not things which God created at the beginning. They are the consequences of man's transgression. To suppose that a perfect God would deliberately create imperfection, is a supposition too monstrous to be believed. It is man who is to blame — and not God. The countless bodily sufferings that we see, are the just consequence of man's original disobedience.

Here to my mind lies one among many proofs that the Bible is given by inspiration of God. It accounts for many things which the atheist cannot explain. When I see a little infant convulsed with bodily pain and hovering between life and death in a weeping mother's arms — I would be utterly puzzled and confounded, if I did not believe the Bible. But when I turn to the Book — the mysterious problem is solved. I learn that suffering is the result of Adam's fall. That infant would not have suffered — if Adam had not sinned!

I ask you to also learn from this chapter, that sickness is not an unmixed evil.

That King Hezekiah received spiritual benefit from his illness — I think there can be no doubt. The good man saw things in his sickness, which he had never seen clearly and fully in the days of health.

I do not say that sickness always does good. Alas! We ministers know to our sorrow, that it frequently does no good at all. Too often we see men and women, after recovering from a long and dangerous illness — more hardened and impious than they were before. Too often they return to the world, if not to overt sin — with more eagerness and zest than ever. The impressions made on their conscience in the hour of sickness, are swept away like children's writing on the sand of the sea-shore when the tide flows in.

But I do say that sickness ought to do us good. And I do say that God sends it in order to do us good. Affliction is a friendly letter from Heaven. It is a knock at the door of conscience. It is the voice of the Savior knocking at the heart's door. Happy is he who opens the letter and reads it, who hears the knock and opens the door, who welcomes Christ to the sick room. Come now, and let me show you a few of the lessons which He by sickness would teach us.

1. Sickness is meant to make us think — to remind us that we have a soul as well as a body — an immortal soul — a soul that will live forever in happiness or in misery — and that if this soul is not saved, we had better never have been born.

2. Sickness is meant to teach us that there is a world beyond the grave — and that the world we now live in is only a training-place for another dwelling, where there will be no decay, no sorrow, no tears, no misery, and no sin.

3. Sickness is meant to make us look at our past lives honestly, fairly, and conscientiously.
Am I ready for my great change — if I should not get better?
Do I truly repent of my sins?
Are my sins forgiven and washed away in Christ's blood?
Am I prepared to meet God?

4. Sickness is meant to make us see the emptiness of the world and its utter inability to satisfy the highest and deepest needs of the soul.

5. Sickness is meant to send us to our Bibles — that blessed Book, which in the days of health is too often left on the shelf, and is never opened from January to December. But sickness often brings it down from the shelf and throws new light on its pages.

6. Sickness is meant to make us pray. Too many, I fear, never pray at all, or they only rattle over a few hurried words morning and evening without thinking what they do. But prayer often becomes a reality — when the valley of the shadow of death is in sight!

7. Sickness is meant to make us repent and break off our sins. If we will not hear the voice of mercies — then God sometimes makes us "hear the rod."

8. Sickness is meant to draw us to Christ. Naturally we do not see the full value of the blessed Savior. We secretly imagine that our prayers, good deeds, and sacrament-receiving will save our souls. But when flesh begins to fail — then the absolute necessity of a Redeemer, a Mediator, and an Advocate with the Father, stands out before men's eyes like fire, and makes them understand those words, "Simply to Your cross I cling!" as they never did before. Sickness has done this for many — they have found Christ in the sick room.

9. Last, but not least, sickness is meant to make us feeling and sympathizing towards others. By nature we are all far below our blessed Master's example — who had not only a hand to help all, but a heart to feel for all. None, I suspect, are so unable to sympathize — as those who have never had trouble themselves. And none are so able to sympathize — as those who have drunk most deeply the cup of pain and sorrow.

Brethren, when your time comes to be ill, I beseech you not to forget what the illness means. Beware of fretting and murmuring and complaining, and giving way to an impatient spirit. Regard your sickness as . . .
  a blessing in disguise;
  a good — and not an evil;
  a friend — and not an enemy.

No doubt we would all prefer to learn spiritual lessons in the school of ease — and not under the rod. But rest assured that God knows better than we do, how to teach us. The light of the last day will show you that there was a meaning and a "needs-be" in all your bodily ailments. The lessons that we learn on a sick-bed, when we are shut out from the world — are often lessons which we would never learn elsewhere. Settle it down in your minds, that, however much you may dislike it — sickness is not an unmixed evil.

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J.C. Ryle Short Pithy Gems!

It costs something to be a true Christian. It will cost us our sins, our self-righteousness, our ease and our worldliness!

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A Christian is a walking sermon. Christians preach far more than a minister does — for they preach all week long!

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According to the men of the world — few are going to Hell.
According to the Bible — few are going to Heaven.

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Nothing is so offensive to Christ, as lukewarmness in religion!

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Beware of manufacturing a God of your own . . .
  a God who is all mercy — but not just;
  a God who is all love — but not holy;
  a God who has a Heaven for everybody — but a Hell for none;
  a God who will make no distinction between godly and ungodly in eternity.
Such a God is an idol of your own — as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple! The hands of your own imagination and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible — and beside the God of the Bible, there is no God at all.

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Pride is the oldest and most common of sins.
Humility is the rarest and most beautiful of graces.

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Look to the cross, think of the cross, meditate on the cross — and then go and set your affections on the world if you can!

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A crucified Savior will never be content to have a self-pleasing, self-indulging, worldly-minded people!

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The Gospel was not meant merely to reside in our intellect, memories, and tongues — but to be seen in our lives.

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Happiness does not depend on outward circumstances — but on the state of the heart.

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Health is a good thing. But sickness is far better — if it leads us to God.

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The beginning of the way to Heaven — is to feel that we are on the way to Hell.

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There is a common, worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have, and think they have enough. It is a cheap Christianity which offends nobody, and requires no sacrifice — which costs nothing, and is worth nothing.

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Christian! Your trials, crosses, and conflicts are all temporary.

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I am one of those old-fashioned ministers who believe the whole Bible and everything that it contains.

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There are no lessons so useful — as those learned in the school of affliction.

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Christ is never fully valued — until sin is clearly seen.

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Our Lord has . . .
  many weak children in his family,
  many dull pupils in his school,
  many raw soldiers in his army,
  many lame sheep in his flock.
Yet He bears with them all, and casts none away.
Happy is that Christian who has learned to do likewise with his brethren.

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A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing. A cheap Christianity, without a cross — will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown.

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That preaching is sadly defective, which dwells exclusively on the mercies of God and the joys of Heaven — yet never sets forth the terrors of the Lord and the miseries of Hell.

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Sin forsaken — is one of the best evidences of sin forgiven.

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To be a Christian — it will cost a man his sins!

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There is no such thing as 'chance', 'luck', or 'accident' in the Christian journey through this world.
Everything is arranged and appointed by God. All things are working together for the believer's good.

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The standard of the world, and the standard of the Lord Jesus — are widely different.
They are more than different — they are flatly contradictory one to the other.
Never be satisfied with the world's standard of Christianity!

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Hell is truth known too late!

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A tree may always be known by its fruit.
Just so, a true Christian may always be discovered by their habits, tastes and affections.

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Christ is never fully valued — until sin is clearly seen. We must know the depth
and malignity of our disease — in order to appreciate the great Physician!

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That Bible is read best — which is practiced most!

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To be Christian, will cost a man his love of ease!

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The tree falls with a great crash, but the secret decay which accounts for it — is often not discovered until it is down on the ground. Just so, men fall in private — long before they fall in public!

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Growth in grace is one way to be happy in our religion.
God has wisely linked together our comfort — and our increase in holiness.

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The children of God all have a cross to bear.
A suffering Savior generally has suffering disciples.

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We know nothing of humility by nature — for we are all born proud!

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Naked we came upon earth — and naked we depart.
Of all our possessions — we can carry nothing with us.

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There is more to be learned at the foot of the Cross — than anywhere else in the world!

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People will never set their faces decidedly towards Heaven, and live like pilgrims — until they really feel that they are in danger of Hell.

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Let us be real, honest, and sincere in our Christianity.
We cannot deceive an all-seeing God!

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The best of men — are men at best!

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Blessed are those who live like pilgrims and strangers in this life — their best things are all to come!

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The surest mark of true conversion, is humility.

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When I speak of a man growing in grace, I mean simply that . . .
  his sense of sin is becoming deeper,
  his faith is becoming stronger,
  his hope is becoming brighter,
  his love is becoming more extensive, and
  his spiritual-mindedness is becoming more marked.

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The Christian who keeps his heart diligently in little things — shall be kept from great falls.

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Fathers and mothers — do not forget that children learn more by the eye than they do by the ear.
Imitation is a far stronger principle with children, than memory.
What they see has a much stronger effect on their minds — than what they are told.

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Let us read the Bible reverently and diligently — with an honest determination to believe and practice all that we find in it.

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Every fresh act of sin . . .
  lessens fear and remorse,
  hardens our hearts,
  blunts the edge of our conscience,
  and increases our evil inclination!

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We may love money without having it — just as we may have money without loving it.

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Nothing so hardens the heart of man — as a barren familiarity with sacred things.

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Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct!

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Sicknesses, losses, crosses, anxieties and disappointments — are absolutely needful to keep us humble, watchful and spiritually-minded. They are as needful as the pruning knife to the vine — and the refiner's furnace to the gold.

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Surely it is better to enter into eternal life with a few — than to go to Hell with a great company!

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Doctrine is useless — if it is not accompanied by a holy life! It is worse than useless — it does positive harm. Something of 'the image of Christ' must be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings!

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The love of Christ towards His people — is a deep well which has no bottom!

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Let us daily strive to copy our Savior's humility.

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Imagination is the hotbed where sin is too often hatched.
Guard your thoughts — and there will be little fear about your actions.

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The eye of God! Think of that. Everywhere, in every house, in every field, in every room, in every company, alone or in a crowd — the eye of God is always upon you!