Grace Gems for AUGUST 2018

We have need to use this prayer at all times!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Do not forsake me, O Lord!
 O my God, do not be far from me!" Psalm 38:21

We frequently pray that God would not forsake us in the hour of trial and temptation—but we often forget that we have need to use this prayer at all times! There is no moment of our life, however holy, in which we can do without His constant upholding. Whether in light or in darkness, in communion or in temptation—we alike need the prayer: "Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, do not be far from me!"

We cannot do without continued aid from above. Let this be then, your daily prayer:

  "Father! Do not forsake Your helpless child, lest I fall by the hand of the enemy.

   Shepherd! Do not forsake Your wayward lamb, lest I wander from the safety of the fold.

   Great Gardener! Do not forsake Your frail plant, lest I wither and die.

   Do not forsake me in my joys—lest they absorb my heart.

   Do not forsake me in my sorrows—lest I murmur against You.

   Do not forsake me—for without You I am as weak as water.

   Do not forsake me—for my path is dangerous and full of snares, and I cannot do without Your guidance.

   Do not be far from me, O Lord—for trouble is near, and no other can help me.

   Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, do not be far from me!

   Do not leave me or forsake me, O God my Savior—at any moment of my life!"

"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

   ~  ~  ~  ~

They hope that they shall not have two Hells!

(Thomas Case, "The Rod and the Word, A Treatise on Afflictions" 1653)

Because men suffer in this world—they assume they shall be freed from sufferings in the world to come.
Because they have a Hell here—they imagine that they shall escape Hell hereafter.

They hope that they shall not have two Hells!

Poor, deluded soul! You may and must have two Hells. Cain, and Judas, and millions of reprobate men and women, have two Hells—one in this life, in torments of body—and another in the life to come, in unquenchable fire.

You may have a prison on earth—and a dungeon in Hell.
You may now lack a crumb of bread—and hereafter lack a drop of water.
You may now be the reproach of men—and hereafter the scorn of God Himself.

Affliction alone is not enough to evidence a man to be a saved man. Blows may sooner break the neck, than the heart! Afflictions are in themselves, the fruit of divine wrath—and therefore cannot possibly of themselves make the least argument of God's love to the soul.

God forbid that a man should take that for his security from Hell—which may be but the foretaste of Hell! Present afflictions, may be the pledge of endless misery.

In many cases it is to be feared that the cup of affliction, is a vial of wrath—and that the plagues of this life, are but some drops of that coming storm of fire and brimstone, wherein impenitent sinners shall be scorched and tormented forever!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

When He strikes us—as well as when He strokes us!

(Abraham Wright, 1611-1690)

"You have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He disciplines everyone He accepts as a son." Hebrews 12:5-6

We may feel God's hand as a Father upon us, when He strikes us—as well as when He strokes us!

What fools are we, then, to frown upon our afflictions! These, however difficult, are our best friends.

They are not indeed for our pleasure—they are for our profit. I am . . .
  mended by my sickness,
  enriched by my poverty, and
  strengthened by my weakness!

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline 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 12:10-11

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Faithfulness in littles

(John Colwell, "Little Foxes; The Little Sins That Mar the Christian Character" 1882)

"Catch the foxes—the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes!" Song of Songs 2:15

The little things of life are most important. Those who affect to despise the importance of little things, are in danger of becoming little people. Certainly no great man will ever do so. He will the rather prove his greatness by a hearty recognition of the truth of the wise saying, "He who despises little things, shall fall little by little."

The Great Teacher drew some of His most beautiful and important lessons from little things—such as little flowers, little birds, little dew-drops, little children. He insisted on faithfulness in littles.

My friend, life is great because it is the aggregation of littles.

As the coral reefs which rear themselves high above the crawling sea beneath, are all made up of minute skeletons of microscopic animalcules; so life, mighty and solemn as having eternal consequences; life that hangs over the sea of eternity—is made up of these minute incidents, of these trifling duties, of these small tasks. Only those who are faithful in the least are, or can be, faithful in the whole.

Little things make either . . .
  the joy—or the sorrow,
  the success—or the ruin,
  the safety—or the danger,
  the grandeur—or the smallness
—of human life.

Illustrations of this principle abound:

     Little neglects lead to great ruin.

     Little precautions lead to great safety.

     Little wastings make great losses.

     Little savings make great gains.

     Little troubles make us miserable.

     Little virtues make us godly.

     Little vices make us wicked.

Therefore, says inspired Wisdom, "Catch the foxes—the little foxes that spoil the vines," which is equivalent to saying, "I know you will keep out the more hateful and destructive full-grown foxes, by stopping up all the large holes in the vineyard fence. Your danger lies in overlooking the smaller gaps by which the little foxes may enter, and thus spoil your vines by robbing them of the tender grapes."

How forcibly may this advice be urged upon Christian people! They will be almost certain to secure their character against the intrusion of shameful vices, destructive sins, and great scandals. But are they always so careful to stop the smaller breaches in the fence of their Christian character against the little foxes, lesser sins, smaller vices, and trifling moral blemishes which, nevertheless, spoil the loveliness and nobility of their lives? Judging from observation and experience, I fear not.

In this book, we will point out some "little foxes" that do much damage in the Christian vineyard, and invite our readers to hunt them down!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Vegetating in selfishness?

(Octavius Winslow, "The Sensitiveness of Christ to Suffering")

Every believer, however limited and veiled from human eye his sphere of life—will create a public sentiment respecting himself. His relations, his friends, his neighbors—will form their opinion of his character, doings and life.

Few pass through life incognito to eternity!

Few slide through society unseen, unnoticed, unfelt.

Each individual Christian should especially live for an object. He should so live as to make his talents, influence, and example count upon the present and eternal well-being of all with whom He comes in contact.

"No man lives to himself."

As a "light"—He is to shine!

As "salt"—He is to influence!

As a "witness"—He is to testify for Christ.

In a world like this, where there is . . .
  so much evil to correct,
  so much temptation to resist,
  so much sorrow to soothe,
  so much need to supply,
  so much misery to counteract,
  so much ignorance to instruct,
  so much good to be done—
none need be idle, dreaming away existence, vegetating in selfishness—not living for man, or laboring for God.

Oh, be an earnest, active Christian!

Be up and doing!

Life is too momentous, too solemn, too responsible—for sluggishness, inactivity, and selfishness!

We are gliding down the stream onward to eternity! Shall we spend our fleeting moments in grasping at the floating straw—when for every moment and act of our present course, we shall soon be cited at Christ's bar for scrutiny and judgment?

Souls are perishing!

Ignorance of the gospel is prevailing!

Iniquity is abounding!

Satan is unslumbering!

Death plies its scythe, and the grave yawns each moment! An eternity of bliss or of woe is gathering deathless beings to its bosom, at every stroke of the pendulum!

Shall we not, then, be active and earnest in a world like this?

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11

"Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

   ~  ~  ~  ~

True excellency!

(Jonathan Edwards)

Worldly men imagine that there is true excellency and true happiness in those things which they are pursuing. They think that if they could but obtain them, that they would be happy. But when they obtain them, and cannot find happiness—then they look for happiness in something else, and are still upon the futile pursuit.

There is a transcendent glory, and an ineffable sweetness in Christ.

Jesus Christ has true excellency, and so great an excellency, that when you come to truly see Him, you look no further, but your mind rests there.

You see that you had been pursuing shadows, but now you have found the substance.

You realize that you had been seeking happiness in the stream, but now you have found the ocean.

The excellency of Christ is an object adequate to the natural cravings of the soul, and is sufficient to fill its capacity.

Christ has an infinite excellency, such as the mind desires, in which it can find no bounds.
The more the mind contemplates Him, the more excellent does He appear.

Each new discovery of Christ makes His beauty appear more ravishing, and the mind can see no end to His excellency. There is room enough for the mind to go deeper and deeper, and never come to the bottom.

Christ's excellency is always fresh and new, and will as much delight us after we have beheld Him a thousand, or ten thousand years—as when we have seen Him the first moment.

The soul is exceedingly ravished when it first looks on the beauty of Christ. It is never weary of Him.

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

"Put the beauty of ten thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden in one; put all trees, all flowers, all fragrances, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all loveliness, all sweetness in one. O what a lovely and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less compared to our dearest well-beloved Christ—than one drop of rain compared to the whole seas, rivers, and lakes of ten thousand earths." Samuel Rutherford

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Though it is less bestial—yet is it more diabolical!

(Matthew Mead, 1629-1699)

"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless, who takes His name in vain!" Exodus 20:7

Another provoking sin which is widespread among us, is using the most holy name of the majestic God in vain.

This is a sin less excusable than debauchery, because I do not know any sense which is gratified with it. Though it is less bestial—yet is it more diabolical! O the horrid blasphemies which are daily belched out by the black-mouthed sons of Belial! A person is so likely to hear the name of God blasphemed, that he cannot walk the streets of the city without stopping his ears. The life, the blood, the wounds of our dear and precious Lord, are tossed to and fro by the mouths of wretched swearers. Truly, their tongues are set on fire by Hell! We wonder that they do not set our whole nation on flame!

The polluted breath of these wretches, has infected the very air we breathe! When men shall set themselves purposely to swear, and devise new blasphemies—what possible excuse do they have for this?

They are not ashamed to own themselves as the devil's vassals, and they dance in his chains while others hear their damnable cackling. What other design can these swaggering sinners have in such vile behavior—but audaciously to affront the great Majesty of Heaven and earth, in the vilest manner they are capable of!

Ah, besotted wretches—can your mind find no other way to vent your malice on any other object? Do you have no other or cheaper way to eternally condemn yourselves? Are you afraid that you will miss entering Hell? What did you mean by your blasphemies—to dare God to His face? Would you force Him to give you a convincing evidence of His wrath? If so, I hope you are satisfied by this time—but if not, you shall be shortly.

Were you resolved to see how far His patience would extend? Did you fear that He is so merciful, that you would never feel His wrath? Or were you in such haste to be with your everlasting companions, the devils and the damned—that you thought your judgment lingered, and damnation slumbered, and would therefore do your best to hasten it? Or were you so fully bent on the satisfaction of your lusts—that you were resolved to pursue them, even to the burning Lake of Fire?

Are you resolute to do all that you can before-hand—to outrage that God, who will treat you so severely in Hell? Or are you now getting used to the language of Hell, that you might not have to learn it when you are thrown there?

Shall we wonder when such rebels have risen up against the Lord—if He grows jealous for His great Name—and rises, and vindicates His glory and power from the contemptuous affronts of insolent mortals!

Yes, how many roaring swearers have we got, who, as if they were already entered into familiarity with devils, make nothing of it to curse themselves to the pit of Hell in their common discourse! They can scarcely speak a sentence without their abominable blasphemies. Were their tongues plucked out by the roots—it would be a small punishment in no way suited to the heinousness of their crimes!

Let them stay a while longer in their contempt of God and His threatenings. They shall too soon find to their sorrow—that all their accursed curses are accomplished! The devil, whom they have so often wished to fetch them, shall very shortly have that commission which he eagerly waits for! Then let them say whether the dreadful God is to be jested with and blasphemed!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

What a treasure!

(Thomas Reade)

"His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night!" Psalm 1:2

What a treasure is the Word of God!

Here we have:
  Light, to dissipate our darkness.
  Truth, to guide us amid the mazes of error.
  Consolations, to gladden us in a world of misery.

The Bible is . . .
  the Revelation of our Father's love;
  the Expression of Jehovah's grace to sinners;
  the Depository of heavenly blessings;
  the Charter of our highest privileges;
  the Religion of true Christians;
  the Glory of our churches;
  the poor man's Friend.

Everything sublime in conception, and tender in expression—is to be found in the sacred Scriptures.

The Eternal Jehovah has there revealed Himself as . . .
  clothed with majesty and honor;
  glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders;
  of purer eyes than to behold iniquity;
  in whose sight the heavens are not clean.

In the sacred Scriptures, He has manifested His glory—as mighty to save, forgiving iniquity transgression and sin.

In that blessed volume, Mercy is seen to arrest the arm of Justice—and all the tenderness of the Father is displayed in the person of the adorable Son.

Love breathes throughout its sacred pages!

"Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long!" Psalm 119:97

"When your Words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight!" Jeremiah 15:16

   ~  ~  ~  ~

When God sent him to school to the swine-trough!

(Thomas Case, "The Rod and the Word, A Treatise on Afflictions" 1653)

"When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied—then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." Deuteronomy 8:10-14

In the school of affliction, God teaches us how to prize our outward mercies and comforts more—and yet to dote upon them less. We are taught to be more thankful for them—and yet  less ensnared by them.

Naturally we are very prone either to slight or to surfeit God's blessings. And yet (sad to consider) we can often do both at once! We can undervalue our mercies—even while we glut ourselves with them! We can despise them—even when we are surfeiting upon them.

Behold while men fill themselves with the mercies of God—they can neglect the God of their mercies! When God is most liberal in remembering us—then we are most ungrateful to forget Him. Therefore that we may know how to put a due estimate upon mercies—God may cut them off, that we may learn to prize by the lack of mercies, that which our foolish unthankful hearts slighted in the enjoyment of them.

Now this ungrateful distemper, God many times cures by the sharp corrosive of affliction!

Thus the prodigal, who while yet at home could despise the rich and well furnished table of his father; when God sent him to school to the swine-trough—would have gladly filled his belly with the pods which he was feeding to the swine!

When months and years of God's mercies and blessings are passed through—we scarcely take one grateful view of them; we seldom send up one thankful prayer to God for them. We pass by our mercies as common things, scarcely worth the owning. Whereas in times of famine—the lees and dregs of those mercies will be precious, which while the vessel ran full and fresh, we could hardly relish. In famine the very gleanings of our comforts are better than the whole vintage in the years of plenty!

In the withdrawing of common mercies—God will teach us their inestimable worth.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The family disease!

(J.C. Ryle)

"He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous." Luke 18:9

The sin which our Lord here denounces, is "self-righteousness."

We are all naturally self-righteous. It is the family disease of all the children of Adam. From the highest to the lowest—we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. We secretly flatter ourselves that we are not as bad as some, and that we have something to merit the favor of God.

We forget the plain testimony of Scripture:
  "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins."
  "What is man, that he could be pure; or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?"
  "There is no one righteous, not even one!"

The true cure for self-righteousness, is self-knowledge.
Once let the eyes of our understanding be opened by the Spirit—and we shall talk no more of our own goodness. Once let us see what sin there is in our own hearts, and what the holy law of God requires—and self-conceit will die. We shall lay our hand on our mouths, and cry with the leper, "Unclean, unclean!" Leviticus  13:45

"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:32

Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We would be forever contented with the garlic and flesh-pots of Egypt!

(Thomas Case, "The Rod and the Word, A Treatise on Afflictions" 1653)

One lesson which God teaches us in the school of affliction, is how to prize and long for Heaven. In our prosperity, "when we wash our steps in butter, and the rock pours us out rivers of oil" (Job 29:6)—we could sit down with the present world, and say, "It is good for us to be here; let us build dwellings here."

While life is sweet—then death is bitter.

Heaven itself is no enticement—while the world gives us her alluring baits.

But when poverty and imprisonment, reproach and persecution, sickness and sore diseases—pinch and vex our hearts with a variety of afflictions—then we are not so fond of the creature, and are pleased to parley with death, and take Heaven into our consideration.

God by putting us into the school of affliction, takes off our hearts by degrees from this present world, and makes us look homeward. Being burdened, we groan—and with the dove we return to the ark, when the world is sinking round about us.

We would be forever contented with the garlic and flesh-pots of Egypt
—if God did not set cruel taskmasters over us to double our burdens. And when God thus lessens our esteem of the world—He reveals to us the excellency of heavenly comforts, and draws out the desires of the soul to Himself:
"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:1-2
"Even so, come Lord Jesus!" Revelation 22:20

Afflictions make Heaven appear as Heaven indeed!

To the weary, Heaven is rest;
to the banished, it is home;
to the scorned and reproached, it is glory;
to the captive, it is liberty;
to the soldier, it is victory;
to the hungry, it is hidden manna;
to the thirsty, it is the fountain of life;
to the grieved, it is fullness of joy; and
to the mourner, it is pleasures forevermore.
In a word, to those who have lain upon the dunghill of affliction, and walked in holiness—Heaven is the throne on which they shall sit and reign with Christ forever and ever!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

That Man of sorrows, is the Savior of the world!

(Gardiner Spring)

O! Who was it that suffered?  What did He suffer?  For whom did He suffer?

Think of Him—the Father's fellow, and the church's Beloved.

Think of the Garden and the Cross, and see how they demonstrate on the one hand, the enormity of our guilt; and on the other, the force of His almighty love.

Think of the debased and abject character of those for whom He died—depraved men, and the enemies of God!

That Man of sorrows, is the Savior of the world!

That naked, bleeding victim—is the mighty Conqueror of death and Hell!

O what triumphs of love and of holiness were there, when . . .
  the earth trembled;
  and the sun grew dark;
  and the veil of the temple was rent in twain;
  and the rocks broke asunder;
  and the graves gave up their dead;
  and Hell itself was moved with terror;
  and the Great Redeemer exclaimed, "It is finished!"

Christ is precious to all who believe!

"rejoiced to see Christ's day, and he saw it and was glad."

esteemed Him more precious than all the treasures of Egypt.

esteemed Him "fairer than the children of men."

The Church in her divine songs speaks of Him . . .
  as the "rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys;"
  as "the chief among ten thousand and the altogether lovely One;"
  and as the One whom "her soul loves."

The wise men of the East adored Him.

took Him up in his arms, and said, "Now Lord, let you your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen Your salvation!"

And to holy men wherever found, Jesus is precious!
"The upright love You!"
"Whom having not seen, you love."
"To you who believe, He is precious!"

In all your duties and trials—He will be precious.

When the world loses its charms—He will become more glorious and lovely than ever.

When death invades—He will become its mighty conqueror.

When you sleep beneath the clods of the valley—He will be the resurrection and the life.

When the books shall be opened, and small and great shall stand before God, and the precious Savior shall come in the clouds, and you shall go to be forever with the Lord—He shall be doubly precious, and more and more precious through interminable ages!

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:12

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Rich in meditation—rich in grace!

(Thomas Case, "The Rod and the Word, A Treatise on Afflictions" 1653)

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2

Take heed of feeding your heart's corruption with thoughts of the sweetness that is in sin.

Take heed also, of starving grace by withdrawing from it suitable nourishment.

Meditate much upon . . .
  the sinfulness of sin,
  the vanity of the creature,
  the fullness of Christ,
  the exquisiteness of His sufferings,
  the finality of the judgment,
  the torments of Hell,
  the joys of Heaven,
  the infinite perfections of the divine nature,
  and the solemnity of eternity!

Rich in meditation—rich in grace!

"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8

"When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches." Psalm 63:6

"I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds." Psalm 77:12

"I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways." Psalm 119:15

"Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long." Psalm 119:97

"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises." Psalm 119:148

   ~  ~  ~  ~

His discipline is sharp—but the end is sweet!

(Thomas Case, "The Rod and the Word, A Treatise on Afflictions" 1653)

"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

"Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6

God will rather fetch blood—than lose one of His sons!

See and admire the wisdom, power and goodness of God—who can make His people better by their sufferings!

Behold, I show you a gospel mystery! God can . . .
  extract gold, out of clay;
  draw the richest wine, out of gall and wormwood;
  turn the greatest misery of the body, into the greatest good of the soul;
  turn the chastening itself, into a blessing;
  make the withered rod of affliction, to bud into a harvest of righteousness and peace!

The almond tree is said to be made fruitful by driving nails into it, thereby letting out a noxious gum which hinders its fruitfulness. In the same way, God never intends more good to his children, than when He seems to deal most severely with them! His discipline is sharp—but the end is sweet!

O that the children of God in affliction, or entering upon sufferings—would sit down and dwell upon the fruit and advantage which God knows how to bring out of all their sorrows.

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

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your Word." Psalm 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn Your decrees." Psalm 119:71

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Five sharp stings!

(Thomas Watson, "A Divine Cordial" 1663)

Many love sin, more than God. "They are haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful, inventors of evil." Romans 1:30

What is there in sin—that any should love it?

Sin is a debt. "Forgive us our debts." Matthew 6:12
Sin is a debt which binds over to the wrath of God!
And will you love sin? Does any man love to be in debt?

Sin is a disease. "Your whole head is injured, your whole heart is sick. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil." Isaiah 1:5-6. And will you love sin? Will any man hug a disease? Will he love his plague sores?

Sin is a pollution. The apostle calls it "filthiness." James 1:21. It is compared to leprosy and to poison of asps!

Sin is a hideous monster. Lust makes a man brutish—and malice makes him devilish! What is in sin to be loved? Shall we love deformity?

God's heart rises against sinners. "My soul loathed them!" Zechariah 11:8

Sin is an enemy. It is compared to a "serpent". Sin has five sharp stings:

Will a man love that which seeks his death? Surely then it is better to love God than sin.

God will save you—but sin will damn you! Is he not a fool—who loves damnation!

But love to God will never let sin thrive in the heart. The love of God withers sin. The flower of love kills the weed of sin! How should we labor for that grace of love to God—which is the only corrosive to destroy sin!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Our fathers and mothers have been our murderers!

(Thomas Case, "A Word to Parents" 1653)

"Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not let your soul spare for his crying." Proverbs 19:18

Behold, God counsels you who are parents to do with your children as He does with His—wisely to use the discipline of the rod, before vicious dispositions grow into habits, and folly becomes so deeply-rooted that the rod of correction will not drive it out.

"Error and folly," says one, "are the cords of Satan with which he ties sinners to the stake to be burned in Hell!"

These cords are easiest cut early. If you make the child bleed in the cutting of them, let it not cause you to withdraw your hand; for so it follows, "Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not let your soul spare for his crying."

It is not only foolish, but cruel pity to forbear correction for a few childish tears—to cause your child to wail in Hell for sin, rather than to shed a few tears for the preventing of it. Foolish fathers and mothers call this love, but the Father of Spirits calls it hatred: "He who spares the rod, hates his son!" Proverbs 13:24. Such sparing is hatred—and because you hate your children in not correcting them, they may come afterwards to hate you for not correcting them.

But this is not all. The parent's leniency in disciplining, makes way for God's severity. Pity to the child's flesh—is cruelty to the child's soul. So the Hebrew may be rendered, "Spare not to his destruction"—that is, to cause his destruction. The foolish indulgence of the parent may be, and often is, the death of the child—eternal death! Parents spare their children in their folly—to the destruction of both body and soul!

"Withhold not correction from the child, for if you beat him with the rod he shall not die." Proverbs 23:13. This verse reproves the silly and sinful soft-heartedness of parents, who are as afraid to use the rod, as if it were a sword. It is but a rod—it is not a serpent. It may hurt—but it will not give a poisonous sting.

They are monsters in the form of fathers and mothers—who thus hug their little ones to death! They are infanticides, rather than parents! "Surely it is better to be such people's swine, than their sons!"

O hateful indulgence and merciless pity—to damn a child for lack of correction! Such parents throw both the rod and their child into the fire at once! They throw the rod into the fire of the chimney—and their child into the fire of Hell.

This is not done like God, for "whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives"—and so does every wise and loving parent! "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him chastens him early."

As moths are beaten out of a garment with a rod—so must vices be beaten out of children's hearts.

For lack of this disciplinary love—how have some children accused their parents on their death-bed, yes at the gallows! And how many do and will curse their parents in Hell—as Cyprian supposes some to do: "The wicked fondness of our parents has brought us into these torments! Our fathers and mothers have been our murderers! Those who gave us our natural life, have deprived us of eternal life! Those who would not correct us with the rod, have occasioned us now to be tormented with scorpions!"

Yes, even in this life, how do many godly parents smart for their indulgent fondness, because they will not make their children smart for their folly. Eli and David would not so much as rebuke their sons—and God gave them rebukes in their sons. It is said of Eli, "His sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not." 1 Samuel 3:13. The Hebrew has it, "He did not frown upon them." How sad—for lack of a frown, to destroy a soul!

Such indulgent parents have laid the foundation of . . .
  their own sorrows,
  their children's ruin, and
  the destruction of the nation,
in withholding proper discipline from their children!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I hate buttermilk!

One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer. The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, "Lord, I hate buttermilk." The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going.

The deacon continued, "Lord, I hate lard." Now the pastor was totally perplexed.

The deacon continued, "Lord, I ain't too crazy about plain flour. But after You mix 'em all together and bake 'em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits. Lord, help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don't like, whenever we don't understand what You are doing—that we need to wait and see what You are making. After You get through mixing and baking, it'll be something even better than biscuits. Amen."

"Jesus replied: You do not understand now what I am doing, but later you will understand." John 13:7

"Help me, O Lord, to make a blessed use of all the disappointments and calamities of life, in such a way that they may unite my heart more closely with You. Cause my disappointments to separate my affections from worldly things, and inspire my soul with more vigor in the pursuit of true happiness. Amen." Susanna Wesley (1669-1742), mother of John and Charles Wesley and 17 other children.

"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

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The most eloquent mouths that ever spoke

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Behold, I saw a Lamb looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne!" Revelation 5:6

Why should our exalted Savior appear in Heaven with His wounds? The wounds of Jesus are . . .
  His glories,
  His jewels,
  His sacred ornaments!

To the eye of the believer, Jesus is more than beautiful because He is "white and ruddy" Song of Solomon 5:10. He is white with innocence, and ruddy with His own blood.

We see Him as the 'Lily' of matchless purity—and as the 'Rose' encrimsoned with His own blood.

Christ never was so matchless as when He hung on the cross! There we behold all His beauties in perfection.

The wounds of Jesus are far more beautiful than all the splendor and pomp of kings.

Jesus appears as the slain Lamb who sought our souls and redeemed them by His complete atonement.

His wounds are the trophies of His love and of His victory.

He has redeemed for Himself a great multitude which no one can number—His scars are the memorials of the fight.

If there were not an audible word, those wounds are the mouths which speak of His love!

The most eloquent mouths that ever spoke, are the wounds of Christ!

Listen! Listen!

Every blood-drop says, "Pardon!"
Every wound says, "Life, eternal life!"

"In a loud voice they sang: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain—to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:12

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The remedy of all our miseries!

(Stephen Charnock)

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men—the man Christ Jesus!" 1 Timothy 2:5

God, apart from Christ, is an angry, offended Sovereign.

Unless we behold God in and through Christ, the only Mediator—the terrors of His Majesty would overwhelm us.

Because of our sins—we dare not approach the Father, except in Christ.
We first fasten our eyes upon Christ, then upon the Father.

If Christ does not bear our guilt and reconcile us unto God, we must surely perish everlastingly!

Before any man can think . . .
  to stand before the face of God's justice,
  be admitted to the secret chamber of God's mercy,
  or partake of the riches of His grace—
he must look to one the Mediator, Christ Jesus.

Let us look upon a crucified Christ, as the remedy of all our miseries.
His cross has procured our crown.
His passion has expiated our transgressions.
His death has disarmed the law.
His blood has washed our sinful souls, spotless.

His death is . . .
  the destruction of our enemies,
  the spring of our happiness, and
  the eternal testimony of divine love!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are in

(Charles Spurgeon)

"He chooses our inheritance for us." Psalm 47:4

"Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him." Psalm 25:12

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

"As for God, His way is perfect. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him." Psalm 18:30

"He guides the humble in what is right, and teaches them His way." Psalm 25:9

"I guide you in the way of wisdom, and lead you along straight paths." Proverbs 4:11

Believer, if your place is a lowly one, you should be satisfied with your earthly portion—for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected the safest and best condition for you!

Christian! You would run aground and suffer shipwreck—if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession.

It may be that you are planted where you get but little sunshine. Be assured that you are put there by the heavenly Gardener because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are in—divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances.

Take up your own daily cross—it is the burden best suited for your shoulder and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good work to the glory of God.

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:11-12

   ~  ~  ~  ~

God's decree

(The following is from the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith in Modern English. Editor's note: This gem is filled with sound doctrine—so it needs to be read carefully.)

From all eternity God decreed all that would happen in time—and this He did freely and unalterably, consulting only His own wise and holy will. Yet in so doing He does not become in any sense the author of sin, nor does He share responsibility for sin with sinners. In this decree God's wisdom is displayed in directing all things—and His power and faithfulness are demonstrated in accomplishing His decree.

God's decree is not based upon His foreknowledge of the future—but is independent of all such foreknowledge.

By His decree, and for the manifestation of His glory—God has predestined (or foreordained) certain men and angels to eternal life through Jesus Christ, thus revealing His grace. Others, whom He has left to perish in their sins, manifest the terrors of His justice.
These predestined and foreordained angels and men are individually and unchangeably designated—and their number is so certain and definite, that it can neither be increased or decreased.

Before the world was made, God's eternal, immutable purpose, which originated in the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, moved Him to choose (or to elect), in Christ—certain men to everlasting glory. Out of His mere free grace and love, He predestinated these chosen ones to life, although there was nothing in them to cause Him to choose them.

Not only has God appointed the elect to glory in accordance with the eternal and free purpose of His will—but He has also foreordained the means by which His purpose will be effected.

Therefore, those who are elected, being fallen in Adam—are redeemed by Christ and effectually called to faith in Christ by His Spirit working at the appropriate time. They are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith to salvation. None but the elect are redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved.

The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care so that those heeding the will of God revealed in His Word and obeying Him may be assured of their eternal election, by the certainty of their effectual calling. In this way the doctrine of predestination will give reasons for praise, reverence, and admiration of God—as well as humility, diligence and rich comfort to all who sincerely obey the gospel.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The principle of iniquity is embedded in the human race

(John MacArthur)

The Bible is absolutely crystal clear that all children are sinners from conception...all children. The principle of iniquity is embedded in the human race. Children are born morally corrupt. They are born with an irresistible bent toward evil. And any notion that children are born morally neutral and free from a predisposition to sin is absolutely contrary to Scripture.

All humans are born in sin. If infants were not sinful, if they were not morally corrupt, then they wouldn't die. If they were born innocent or pure or morally neutral there would be no basis for their death. The very fact that they die indicates that the disease of sin is there in them because sin is the killer. It is in their inherited sin nature that the seeds of death are planted.

"The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." Genesis 6:5

" . . . every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood." Genesis 8:21

"The LORD looks down from Heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one!" Psalm 14:2-3

"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me!" Psalm 51:5

"Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies." Psalm 58:3

"There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins." Ecclesiastes 7:20

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked!" Jeremiah 17:9

"All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one!" Romans 3:12

"Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." Ephesians 2:3

   ~  ~  ~  ~

In a few years

(Thomas Chalmers, 1780-1847)

"For we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow." Job 8:9

"He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure." Job 14:2

"Only a few years will pass before I go on the journey of no return!" Job 16:22

"My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass." Psalm 102:11

"Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow." Psalm 144:4

How transient is human life—yet no one lays it to heart. With the magnificence of eternity before us—let fleeting time, with all its fluctuations, dwindle into its own littleness.

In a few years our heads will be laid in the cold grave, and the green turf will cover us. The children who come after us will tread upon our graves.

They will weep for us a few days.

They will talk of us a few months.

They will remember us a few years.

Then our memory shall disappear from the face of the earth, and not a tongue shall be found to recall it!

The character with which we sink into the grave at death—is the very character with which we shall reappear at the final judgment!

"O God, impress upon me the value of time—and give regulation to all my thoughts and to all my actions. O God, help me to live for Your glory. As the years roll over me, may I withdraw my affections from time, and feel that in moving through the world, I am moving toward eternity!"

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

Editor's note: My wife's unsaved brother died suddenly of a heart attack this morning. He was 56 and in the best of health. How true is God's Word: "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" James 4:13-15

   ~  ~  ~  ~

This is not mine to keep!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

Christian! If you have anything that you prize very highly, hold it very loosely—for you may easily lose it.

Hold everything earthly with a loose hand, but grasp eternal things with a deathlike grip.

Of everything on earth, it is wise for us to say, "This is not mine to keep!" It is essential to realize that this it is true, for everything here is temporary.

Mind what you are doing—you prosperous people, you who have nice homes, you who are hoarding up money. There is nothing permanent for you here on earth. Your home is in Heaven—your home is not here. If you find your treasure here—your heart will be here also.

You must keep all earthly treasures out of your heart.

Let Christ be your treasure, and let Him have your heart!

"This world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God, will live forever!" 1 John 2:17

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We do not know what we might have been!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"God is our refuge and strength—a very present help in times of trouble." Psalm 46:1

We do not know what we might have been—if God's gracious protection had not been like a wall of fire around us, as it still is—for the Lord continues to deliver all who put their trust in Him.

Believe with unquestioning confidence that God is delivering you even now. You know that He has delivered you—be just as sure that He will continue to help you in every time of trouble.

"I am locked in a prison of despair!" Yes, but your Lord has a key that can open the door and let you out.

"I am in great poverty!" another says. But He knows all about it, and He is going to supply all your needs.

Yet another says, "But I am fainting!" God is near, ready to revive and encourage your fainting soul.

Perhaps a person says, "I find faith for the past and the ultimate future quite easy, but I don't have enough faith for the present." We sometimes forget that God is "a very present help in times of trouble," but it is true.

There may be many trials before you, but there is an abundance of mercy ready to meet those trials. There may be troubles that you do not know yet, as well as repetitions of those you have experienced. But the Lord will give you strength and will continue to deliver you.

As the eyes gradually fail, and the limbs grow weak, and the infirmities of old age creep over us—we are likely to be distressed, but our Lord will not forsake us.

When severe sickness invades our earthly bodies and our pains multiply and intensify—we wonder how we will endure.

As we consider our death—we wonder how we will be able to bear our last hours.

Be encouraged: He who has delivered and does deliver—will continue to deliver.
Even as the trial comes, the Lord will show you a way of escape.

He has delivered you—give Him your gratitude.
He is delivering you—give Him your confidence.
He will deliver you—begin now to praise Him for mercies that He has yet to show you, and for grace that you have not yet experienced but that He will grant you in the future.

"He has delivered us from such a deadly peril—and He will deliver us!" 2 Corinthians 1:10

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Faith never prospers so well!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the trial of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:6-7

Untried faith may be true faith—but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well, as when all things are against her.

When a calm reigns on the sea—you may spread the sails as you will, but the ship will not move to its harbor. Only let the winds rush howling forth—it is then that she makes headway toward her desired haven.

No stars gleam so brightly—as those that glisten in the polar sky,
no water tastes so sweet—as that which springs up amid the desert sand,
and no faith is so precious—as that which lives and triumphs in adversity.

Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness, had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers of difficulty. Just so, you would never have known God's strength, had you not been supported amid the flood-waters. Faith increases in solidity, assurance and intensity—the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious, too.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

God is our abode, our home!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The eternal God is your refuge." Deuteronomy 33:27

The word "refuge" may be translated "abiding place"—which gives the thought that God is our abode, our home.

There is a fullness and sweetness in the metaphor, for our home is dear to our hearts—although it may be the humblest cottage or the scantiest garret. But dearer far is our blessed God, who is our eternal refuge.

It is at home that we are safe—here we shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. Just so, God is our shelter and retreat—our abiding refuge.

It is at home that we take our rest—it is there that we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. In the same way, our hearts find rest in God when, wearied with life's conflict, we turn to Him, and our soul dwells at ease.

At home, also, we let our hearts loose—we are not afraid of being misunderstood nor of our words being misconstrued. Just so, when we are with God—we can commune freely with Him, laying open all our hidden desires.

Home, too, is the place of our truest and purest happiness. In the same way, it is in God that our hearts find their deepest delight.

"God is our refuge and strength—a very present help in times of trouble!" Psalm 46:1

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Behold the Man!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Behold the Man!" John 19:5

If there is one place where our Lord Jesus most fully becomes the joy and comfort of His people—it is where He plunged deepest into the depths of woe.

Come, behold the Man in the garden of Gethsemane.
Behold His heart so brimming with love, that He cannot hold it in.
Behold the bloody sweat as it distills from every pore of His body and falls upon the ground.

Behold the Man upon the bloody tree.
Stand amazed as they drive the nails into His hands and feet.
Look up and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord.
Mark Him as the ruby drops stand on the thorn crown.
Behold the Man when all His bones are out of joint, and He is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death.
God has forsaken Him—and Hell encompasses Him.

Behold and see—was there ever sorrow like His sorrow?

Gaze upon Him!

We have only to sit longer at the cruel cross—to be less troubled with our trials and woes.

We have but to see His sorrows—and we shall be ashamed to mention our sorrows .

We have but to gaze into His wounds—and heal our own.

If we would grow in grace—it must be by considering His humiliation and His sorrow.
If we would live holily—it must be by the contemplation of His sin-atoning death.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The spring of true obedience to God!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"This is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands." 2 John 1:6

Love to God is the spring of true obedience to God.

One who is not obedient to His commandments, is evidently not a true believer; for although good works do not save us—yet, being saved, believers are sure to produce good works.

Though the fruit is not the root of the tree—yet a well-rooted tree will, in its season, bring forth its fruits. So, though the keeping of the commandments does not make me a child of God—yet, being a child of God, I shall be obedient to my heavenly Father. But this I cannot be, unless I love God.

A mere external formal obedience—is not sincere obedience in God's sight. He abhors the sacrifice, where the heart is not found. I must obey Him because I love Him—or else I have not truly obeyed at all. See then, that to produce the indispensable fruits of saving faith—there must be sincere love for God.

"If you love Me, you will obey what I command." John 14:15

"Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me." John 14:21

"If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching." John 14:23

"He who does not love Me will not obey My teaching." John 14:24

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Spirit's leading!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"As many as are led by the Spirit of God—they are the sons of God." Romans 8:14

Here is a mark of divine sonship: All who follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit—they are children of God.

The Spirit leads His followers to the looking-glass of Divine truth. Here they discover their spiritual deformity and impurity. Here they see what they are—and what they need.

The Spirit leads them to the throne of grace—and there He helps their infirmities, and makes intercession for them according to the will of God.

The Spirit leads them to the cross! When they see Jesus dying for their sins, atoning for their transgressions—they lose the burden of guilt.

The Spirit leads them in the path of loving obedience—and they experience the blessedness of keeping Christ's commands.

The Spirit leads them in the track of the Good Shepherd—and enables them to hear His voice and to follow Him.

"As many as are led by the Spirit of God—they are the sons of God."

Many, alas! are following the leadings of a very different spirit—"the spirit that works in the children of disobedience!" He leads, by paths of unbelief and sin—to endless misery and ruin! Beloved reader, beware of following his leadings—and prayerfully yield yourself to the guidance of the Spirit of truth and love.

"Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long." Psalm 25:4-5

   Spirit of Truth, my Leader be,
   And seal adoption mine;
   Impress Christ's image on my heart,
   The pledge of bliss divine!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

They are all gone!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"If you, O Lord, should keep a record of our sins—Lord, who could stand before You?" Psalm 130:3

"I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for My own sake, and will never remember them again!" Isaiah 43:25

"You will tread our sins underfoot, and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea!" Micah 7:19

All our transgressions are swept away at once, carried off as by a flood! They are so completely removed from us—that no guilty trace of them remains! They are all gone!

Oh, believers, think of this, for it is no little thing.
Sins against a holy God,
sins against His loving Son,
sins against the Gospel—as well as against the Law,
sins against man—as well as against God,
sins of the body—as well as sins of the mind,
sins as numerous as the sands on the seashore, and as great as the sea itself
—all, all are removed from us—as far as the east is from the west!

All this evil was rolled into one great mass and laid upon Jesus! Having borne it all, He has made an end of it forever. When the Lord forgave us, He forgave us the whole debt. He did not take the bill and say, "I strike out this item, and that item"—but the pen went through it all: Paid in full!

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth—so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him.
 As far as the east is from the west—so far has He removed our transgressions from us!" Psalm 103:11-12

"My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
 My sin, not in part but the whole,
 Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
 Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"
Horatio Spafford

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A mark which is always set upon Christ's sheep, and never set upon any others!

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

There are some graces which in their vigor are not absolutely essential to the bare existence of spiritual life, though they are very important for its healthy growth. But true love for God must be in the heart—or else there is no grace there whatever. If a man does not love God, then he is not a renewed man. Love for God is a mark which is always set upon Christ's sheep, and never set upon any others.

I have no right, therefore, to believe that I am a regenerated person—unless my heart truly and sincerely loves God. If I have been regenerated, I will not be perfect, but this one thing I can say: "Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You!" When by believing we receive the privilege to become sons of God—we also receive the nature of sons, and with filial love we cry, "Abba, Father!"

There is no exception to this rule! If a man does not sincerely love God—then he is not born of God. As the sun must give forth its light—so must a soul that has been created anew by divine grace, display its nature by earnest affection toward God. You are not born again, unless you love God. Sincere love to God is indispensable!

"If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed!" 1 Corinthians 16:22