Grace Gems for February, 2019

    ~  ~  ~  ~

You were fitter to be loathed, than loved!

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

Call to mind the state you were in formerly. "Remember that at that time you were without Christ . . . having no hope and without God in the world." Ephesians 2:12

You are no longer a child of wrath—but an heir of God, and joint heir with Christ!

Remember—that in the day our Lord first took you by the hand, you were in no better a condition than others. O, what moved Him to take you—when He passed by so many others who were much better than you? He found you a child of wrath, even as others—but He did not leave you so. He came into the common prison where you lay in fetters, even as others. From among the multitude of condemned malefactors, He picked you out, commanded your fetters to be taken off, put a pardon in your hand, and brought you into the glorious liberty of the children of God—while He left others in the devil's fetters!

Remember—there was nothing in you to engage Him to love you, in the day He appeared for your deliverance. You were a child of wrath, even as others. You were fit for Hell, and altogether unfit for Heaven! Yet the King brought you into His palace. The King's Son loved you, a condemned criminal, and espoused you to Himself—on the day in which you might have been led forth to eternal execution! "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight!"

Remember—you were fitter to be loathed, than loved, in that day. Be amazed and wonder—that when He saw you in your blood, that He did not look upon you with abhorrence and pass you by!

Remember—it was He who took off your prison garments, and clothed you with robes of righteousness, garments of salvation! He took the chains from off your arms, the rope from around your neck; and put you in such a dress, as you might be fit for the court of Heaven—even to eat at the King's table!

Admire that matchless love which brought you out of the state of wrath! Christ's love brought your soul from the pit of corruption! He gave His life for your life. He gave His precious blood to quench the flames of wrath—which otherwise would have forever consumed you! He took you out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay. How broad was that love, which covered such a multitude of sins! See . . .
  the length of it—reaching from everlasting to everlasting;
  the depth of it—going so low as to deliver you from the lowest Hell;
  the height of it—raising you up to sit in heavenly places!

That your soul is not overwhelmed with the wrath of God, is owing purely to Jesus Christ! That your heart is not filled with horror and despair, is owing to Him alone! That . . .
  your eyes are not now blinded with the smoke of the bottomless pit;
  your hands not now fettered with adamantine chains of darkness;
  your tongue is not now broiling in the fire of Hell; and
  your feet are not now standing in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone—is owing purely to Jesus Christ!

Walk humbly, as it befits debtors to free grace!

You have no reason to complain of your lot in the world, whatever it is.
Well may you bear the cross for Him . . . .
  who bore your curse;
  who has freed you from eternal wrath;
  and who has quenched Hell-fire for you!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

A vexing vanity!

(Thomas Watson)

"Deliver us from evil." Matthew 6:13

In this petition, we pray to be delivered from the evil world. "He died for our sins, just as God our Father planned—in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live." Galatians 1:4

It is an evil world, as it is a DEFILING world. The opinions and examples of the world are defiling. How easily are we hurried to sin, when we have the tide of natural corruption, and the wind of example to carry us! "You shall not follow a multitude to do evil." Exodus 23:2. Bad examples are contagious. "They mingled among the pagans—and adopted their evil customs." Psalm 106:35

Living in the world, is like traveling on a dirty road. It requires a high degree of grace to keep ourselves "unspotted by the world." James 1:27

It is an evil world, as it is an ENSNARING world.
The world is full of snares.
Company is a snare.
Recreation is a snare.
Riches are golden snares.

The apostle John speaks of the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life." 1 John 2:16.
The lust of the flesh is beauty.
The lust of the eye is money.
The pride of life is honor.
These are the natural man's trinity!

The world is a flattering enemy. Whom it kisses—it betrays! The world is a silken halter. The pleasures of the world, like opium, cast men into the sleep of carnal security. King Lysimachus sold his crown for a cup of water. Just so, many part with Heaven—for this poor world. They are enslaved with the world's golden fetters! The world bewitched Demas. 2 Timothy 4:10. One of Christ's own apostles was caught with a silver bait. It is hard to drink the wine of prosperity—and not be giddy. The world, through our innate corruption, is evil, as it is a snare.

It is an evil world, as it is a DEADENING world. It dulls and deadens the affections to heavenly objects. Earthly things choke the seed of the Word. A man entangled in the world is so taken up with secular concerns, that he can no more mind heavenly realities—than an elephant can fly in the air! And even such as have grace in them—when their affections are beslimed with earth, they find themselves much indisposed to meditation and prayer; it is like swimming with a heavy stone around the neck!

It is an evil world, as it is a DECEITFUL world.
The world makes us believe that it will satisfy our desires—but it only increases them!

It is an evil world, as it is a VEXING world. It is full of trouble.
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows!" John 16:33
"Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward!" Job 5:7
"How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble!" Job 14:1

One was of opinion that before the fall—the rose grew without prickles; but now every sweet flower of our life has its thorns! There are many things which cause trouble.
Some are troubled that they have no children—others that they have children.
If a man is poor—he is despised by the rich; if he is rich—he is envied by the poor.

The world is a vexing vanity! If we do not find an ensnaring world—we shall find it an afflicting world; it has more in it to trouble us than tempt us.

The world is a sea, where we are tossed upon the surging waves of sorrow, and often in danger of shipwreck!

The world is a wilderness, full of fiery serpents!

What great need then, have we to pray, "Lord, deliver us from being hurt by this evil world!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~

He should be a walking image of Jesus!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

"As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord—so walk in Him" Colossians 2:6

If we have received Christ Himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will manifest its intimate acquaintance with Him by a walk of faith.

Walking implies action. Our religion is not to be confined to our prayer-closet. That which we believe—we must carry out into practical effect. If a man walks in Christ, then he so acts as Christ would act. He should be a walking image of Jesus—and men say of that man, "He is like his Master—he lives like Jesus Christ!"

Walking signifies progress. Proceed from grace to grace, run forward until you reach the uttermost degree of Christlikeness that a man can attain to.

Walking implies continuance. There must be a perpetual abiding in Christ. How many Christians think that in the morning and evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus—and may then give their hearts to the world all the day. But this is poor living—we should always be with Him, treading in His steps and doing His will.

Walking also implies habit. When we speak of a man's walk and conduct—we mean his habits, the constant tenor of his life. We must keep close to Him, cling to Him, never let Him go—and follow in His steps.

"That you would walk worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory!" 1 Thessalonians 2:12

"Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more!" 1 Thessalonians 4:1

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The infinite tenderness of Jesus!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd sacrifices His life for the sheep!" John 10:11

"He will carry the lambs in His bosom, holding them close to His heart!" Isaiah 40:11

Who is He of whom such gracious words are spoken? He is the Good Shepherd. Why does He carry the lambs in His bosom? Because He has a tender heart, and any weakness in His redeemed children at once melts His heart.

The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the little ones of His flock draw forth His compassion.

He is considerate of the weak of His flock. He purchased them with His blood, they are His property—He must and will care for those who cost Him so dear.

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

"He carries the lambs in His bosom!"

Here is boundless affection. Would He put them in His bosom if He did not love them so much?

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

Here is hallowed familiarity. There are precious 'love passages' between Christ and His weak ones.

Here is perfect safety. In His bosom, who can hurt them? None can snatch them away from His omnipotence! They can never perish—ever!

Here is perfect rest and sweetest comfort.

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~

A hazardous game!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"Avoid every kind of evil!" 1 Thessalonians 5:22

"If we play around the viper's hole—it no wonder that we are bitten!"

An old proverb advises us not to play with sharp-edged tools, lest we cut our fingers.

It is a sin to trifle with sin! If we must play, we had better find harmless toys!

That evil which caused Christ a bloody death, is no fit theme for any man's sport.

Playing with wickedness is a hazardous game! Sooner or later, we will pluck the lion of sin by the beard, and we shall be torn in pieces!

This is true of indulgence in strong drink: "Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake, and poisons like a viper!"

This is equally true of all other forms of evil, especially of the lusts of the flesh. Lewd words, soon lead to foul deeds. Yet such is the folly of men, that they run dreadful risks in sheer wantonness, as though vipers and cobras were fine playmates, and devils were merry-makers!

"Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Do not let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin." Psalm 19:13

    ~  ~  ~  ~

'Tom Thumbs' in grace!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!" Hebrews 5:12

"An infant, if he should continue an infant always, would be a monster!"

However pleased the parents had been with the little one when it was a babe, they would soon be deeply distressed if year after year it still remained a tiny thing. Indeed, they would consider it a great calamity to be the parents of a dwarf.

What, then, shall we say of those professors who never grow? They are no more holy after fifty years! They are infants at sixty years of age!

I have in my house, pictures of my twin sons, taken on their birthdays for twenty-one years. They begin in the cradle, and end as full-grown young men.

But, alas, I have spiritual children whom I wheeled about in the stroller twenty years ago—and they are babies still, needing as much care as ever, and are not able to walk alone! Ah me, that so many who ought to be warriors, are weaklings; that those who should be men of six feet tall, are so stunted as to be mere 'Tom Thumbs' in grace!

O for grace to grow in grace, and especially in the knowledge of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God save us from a life which does not grow, and from a growth which is not healthy!

"For this very reason, make every effort to add . . .
  to your faith, goodness;
  and to goodness, knowledge;
  and to knowledge, self-control;
  and to self-control, perseverance;
  and to perseverance, godliness." 2 Peter 1:5-6

"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation!" 1 Peter 2:2

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Look up!

(James Smith, "A New Year's Motto" 1865)

"Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!" Luke 21:28

We are entering upon a new year, we shall have . . .
  new toils,
  new trials,
  new temptations,
  new troubles.

In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year—let us seek grace to follow our Lord's loving advice, and "look up!"

Do not look back—as Lot's wife did.

Do not look within—as too many do.

Do not look around—as David did.

But "look up!" Look up to God—He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, "Look unto Me, and be delivered—for I am God!"

Look up for light to guide you—and He will direct your path.

Look up for grace to sanctify you—and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.

Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God's will—and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.

Look up for comfort to cheer you—and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.

Look up for courage to embolden you—and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might—He will increase strength.

Look up for endurance to keep you—and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.

Look up for providence to supply you—and the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Look up in faith—exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.

Look up in prayer—asking for what God has graciously promised.

Look up in hope—expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.

Look up with adoration—and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.

Look up constantly—let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, "Our eyes are on the Lord our God—until He shows us mercy."

Look up
—for this will keep . . .
  your head from swimming,
  your heart from sinking,
  your knees from trembling,
  your feet from slipping, and
  your hands from hanging down!

It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year—but
"Look up!" This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
  procure for us all that we need,
  secure us against all that we dread, and
  make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!

Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? "Look up" and hear Jesus saying to you, "Do not be afraid—I Myself will help you!"

Are you discouraged? "Look up"—and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle's, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!

Are you desponding? "Look up" for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.

Do not look too much at your sin—but look at the infinitely meritorious blood of God's dear Son!

Do not look too much at self—but look at Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.

Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods? Then look up! He who stripped you—loves you! He will be more than all of these to you! He will . . .
  bind up your broken heart,
  calm your discouraged spirit,
  cheer your drooping mind, and
  fill you with His own peace and happiness.

Look up . . .
  for all that you need;
  from all that you fear;
  through all that would obstruct your way.

Look up every day, saying with David, "In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You, and will look up!" Psalm 5:3

Look up in every trial, saying "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help! My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!"

Do not look at your sin—it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self—it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan—he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men—they will deceive, or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials—they will deject you!

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us—looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:1-2

Look only, look always, look intently—to Jesus!

Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking—to Jesus, who is at God's right hand in glory!

Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

An almighty Watcher, a sleepless Guardian, a faithful Friend!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"You shall not be afraid of the terror by night!" Psalm 91:5

What is this terror? It might be the cry of fire, or the noise of thieves, or the shriek of sudden death!

We live in the world of death and sorrow.
This should not alarm us, for be the terror what it may—the promise is that the believer shall not be afraid.

Why should he? God our Father is here—and will be here all through the lonely hours. He is an almighty Watcher, a sleepless Guardian, a faithful Friend!

Nothing can happen without His direction, for even Hell itself is under His omnipotent control. Darkness is not dark to Him. He has promised to be a wall of fire around His people—and who can break through such a barrier?

Worldlings might well be afraid, for they have . . .
  an angry God above them,
  a guilty conscience within them,
  and a yawning Hell beneath them!

But we who rest in Jesus are saved from all these, through His rich mercy.

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~

But for this one day of life, which is already half over!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"If a man might own a humble cottage for a hundred years—he would prize it much more than the possession of a palace for a day!"

Of course he would! This is what adds so much preciousness to the joys of Heaven—for they are eternal! The fleeting pleasures of this world, however bright they seem—are but for this one day of life, which is already half over! If they were all they profess to be, and a thousand times more—they would not be worthy to be mentioned in comparison with "eternal pleasures" at God's right hand!

O You who fill eternity, impress me with the solemn import of Your Word, and let me feel that all time's fleeting cares and caresses are as dreams; while the things of eternity alone have substance in them. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

"And so we will be with the Lord forever!" 1 Thessalonians 4:17

"And they will reign for ever and ever!" Revelation 22:5

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" Philippians 1:23

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The ten-cent-store Jesus!

(A.W. Tozer)

"His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance!" Revelation 1:14-16

Unfortunately, the ten-cent-store Jesus being preached now by many—is not the Jesus that will come to judge the world.

This harmless, plastic, painted Jesus who has no spine, nor justice, nor wrath—but is a soft and pliant friend to everybody;  if He is the only Christ, then we might as well close our Bibles, bar our doors and make a bakery or garage out of our church buildings!

The popular Christ being preached today—is not the Christ of the Bible, nor the Christ who will be our final Judge.

Jesus Christ our Lord, the Judge with the flaming eyes—is the one with whom we must deal. We cannot escape it.

"Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks: Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" Revelation 6:15-17

    ~  ~  ~  ~

We need the teaching of the Great Expositor!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"Lead me in Your truth—and teach me!" Psalm 25:5

What a mercy it is, in the midst of prevailing errors, to possess the truth of God—the sure word of His testimony—the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. May we read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the truth—that we may find it profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness.

Too frequently the Word of God is read with little profit, because it is read with little prayer. We need Divine illumination! We need the teaching of the Great Expositor, in order rightly to understand the Word of God, and to receive it in the love of it.

May the prayer of the psalmist be my prayer: "Lead me in Your truth—and teach me!"

Lead me into the knowledge and experience of it—let it dwell in my heart, and influence my life.

Lead me into the enjoyment of it—may I find Your Word, and eat it; may it be sweet to my taste, yes, sweeter than honey—than honey from the comb.

And lead me into the practice of it—may my ways be directed to keep Your statutes, and may I be a living epistle, read and known by all men.

May Your Word come to me with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!

"When He, the Spirit of truth, comes—He will guide you into all truth." John 16:13

    ~  ~  ~  ~

This is the knife which cut the throat of your dear child!

(Jeremiah Burroughs)

If I do indeed believe that my sin has cost the blood of Christ—then certainly my sin is a dreadful evil.

Oh, let me never have to do with such sin as was the cause of such sufferings to my Savior—which shed His precious blood.

If you saw the knife that had cut the throat of your dearest child, would not your heart rise against that knife?

Suppose you come to dine, and there is a knife laid by your plate, and it was told to you that this is the knife which cut the throat of your dear child—could use that knife to eat your dinner?

Oh with what detestation would you fling away such a knife!

And with the like detestation it is required that you should renounce sin—for your sin was the cause of the death of Christ!

So when a temptation comes to sin—you must think, "This is the knife . . .
  which cut the throat of Christ,
  which pierced His side,
  which was the cause of all His sufferings,
  which made Christ to be a curse!"

Now you will look upon your sin as a cursed thing, which made Christ to be a curse!

"A bleeding Savior I have viewed,
 And now, I hate my sin!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~

This is the proper view we are to take of our afflictions

(William Jay)

We are very imperfect judges of our own welfare, and not able to see how certain adverse events can ever help us. Yet the Apostle Paul says, "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 

And again: "For the LORD disciplines those He loves, and He chastens each one He accepts as His child!" Hebrews 12:6

This is the proper view we are to take of our afflictions:

They are the result of divine goodness.

They are the discipline of our heavenly Father.

They are the prunings of a husbandman, to ensure better fruit.

They are the ploughing of the fallow ground, to prepare it for the reception of the seed.

They are the refinings of the furnace, that when we are tried we may come forth as gold!

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~

It is better to stay at home and read God's Word

(Arthur Pink, "A Call to Separation")

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
 For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
 Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
 What harmony is there between Christ and the Devil?
 What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?" 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

This command is so plain, that it requires no interpreter.
  Righteousness—and wickedness;
  light—and darkness;
  Christ—and the Devil;
  God's temple—and idols.
What do they have in common?

This is a call to godly separation. This passage gives utterance to a Divine exhortation for those belonging to Christ—to hold aloof from all intimate associations with the ungodly. It expressly forbids them entering into alliances with the unconverted. It definitely prohibits the children of God walking arm-in-arm with worldlings. It is an admonition applying to every phase and department of our lives—religious, domestic, social, commercial. And never, perhaps, was there a time when it more needed pressing on Christians, than now. The days in which we are living are marked by the spirit of compromise. On every side we behold unholy mixtures, ungodly alliances, and unequal yokes. Many professing Christians appear to be trying how near to the world they may walk—and yet go to Heaven!

To Israel, God said, "So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all My regulations and be careful to keep My laws, for I, the Lord, am your God!" (Leviticus 18:3-4) And again, "Do not live by the customs of the people whom I will expel before you. It is because they do these terrible things—that I detest them so much!" (Leviticus 20:23) It was for their disregard of these very prohibitions, that Israel brought down upon themselves such severe chastisements.

God's call to His people in Babylon is, "Come out of her, My people! Do not take part in her sins!" (Revelation 18:4) No one can be a whole-hearted follower of the Lord Jesus who is, in any way, "yoked" to His enemies!

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." This applies first to our religious connections. How many Christians are members of so-called "churches," where much is going on which they know is at direct variance with the Word of God—either the teaching from the pulpit, the worldly attractions used to draw the ungodly, and the worldly methods employed to finance it, or the constant receiving into its membership of those who give no evidence of having been born again. Believers in Christ who remain in such "churches" are dishonoring their Lord.

Should they answer: "Practically all the churches are the same, and were we to resign, what would we do? We must go somewhere on Sundays!" Such language would show they are putting their own interests, before the glory of Christ. It is better to stay at home and read God's Word—than fellowship with that which His Word condemns!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The great cement of society!

(Samuel Miller, "The Guilt, Folly, and Sources of Suicide" 1805)

Wedded love is the source of rich and extensive benefits to mankind. Constituted by our all-wise Creator as the great cement of society, it sheds numberless blessings on our sinful world. It lays the foundation of domestic union, peace, and happiness. It creates the tenderest relations. It gives rise to the purest affections, and binds those who partake of its comforts by the strongest and most interesting ties. It elevates the character of the individual, by nourishing some of the noblest virtues. It extends at once our enjoyments and our usefulness, by multiplying our interests, our cares, and our hopes. Marriage does more to soften the heart, to cultivate social affection, to promote humanity, sympathy, and kindness, and to unite and harmonize society—than a volume would be sufficient to display.

But that passion which, when held in subjection to the law of God, is productive of such blessed effects—is no sooner given up to the depraved and capricious will of man, than it pours on society evils countless in number, and immeasurable in extent. However lightly the indulgence of sexual immorality may be regarded by the worldly and the licentious—there is scarcely any species of sin which more certainly and unavoidably gives rise to an enormous mass of depravity and misery. Sexual immorality . . .
  corrupts the whole moral character;
  pollutes the imagination;
  hardens the heart;
  nourishes selfishness, falsehood, baseness, and the tyranny of flesh;
  perpetuates disease;
  destroys the peace of families;
  vitiates and convulses the social system;
  degrades the reputation;
  bankrupts the finances of its votaries;
  entails infamy and misery on posterity;
  and brings multitudes to untimely graves.

By the indulgence of sexual immorality, who can tell . . .
  how many marital relationships have been violated;
  how many fair prospects have been blasted;
  how many promising and endearing hopes have been withered;
  how many consciences have been wrecked;
  how many bosoms, once the seats of virtue and peace—have been converted into the residence of shame, remorse, and despair!
Great Searcher of hearts—You alone know!

These mischiefs fall with peculiar weight on the tender gender. It is true, the vile seducer himself is often brought into disgrace and suffering by his sin, and sometimes sunk into the deepest infamy and woe. But this is more frequently the portion of her who criminally yields to his seductive arts.

Could we trace the sorry history of those wretched females who become the prey of ungoverned passion, what a series of melancholy pictures would be presented to our view! We would behold some anticipating the approach of disgrace and, in the tumult of grief and despondency, destroying their own lives by self-murder. We would see others passing through successive scenes of prostitution, disease, poverty, abandonment, and complicated misery—to an end more degrading and more dreadful than language can describe! We would contemplate a third class living only to deceive and corrupt the innocent, and dragging many an unsuspecting victim into the same gulf of vice and eternal perdition!

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God!" 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

"Flee from sexual immorality!" 1 Corinthians 6:18

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Christianity is just the jolliest thing imaginable!

(A.W. Tozer)

Professing Christians think of the world not as a battleground, but as a playground!
We are not here to fight—we are here to frolic!
We are not in a foreign land—we are at home.
We try to rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations, and live this life to the full.

This, we believe, is a fair summary of the religious philosophy of modern professors, openly professed by millions, and tacitly held by many more millions who live out that philosophy without having given it verbal expression.

The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground, has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of professing Christians. They might hedge around the question if they were asked bluntly to declare their position, but their conduct gives them away. They are facing both ways, enjoying Christ and the world, gleefully telling everyone that accepting Jesus does not require them to give up their fun—Christianity is just the jolliest thing imaginable!

The "worship" growing out of such a view of life, is as far off center as the view itself—a sort of sanctified nightclub without the champagne and the dressed-up drunks.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Dust you are and to dust you will return!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:19

"All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return!" Ecclesiastes 3:20

Augustine used to say he did not know whether to call it a dying life—or a living death. I leave the choice between those two expressions to you.

This is certainly a dying life—its march is marked by graves.

Nothing but a continuous miracle keeps any one of us from the sepulcher!

Were omnipotence to stay its power but for a moment—we would return to our native dust.

It is a dying life—and it is equally true that it is a living death.
We are always dying.
Every beating pulse we count, leaves but the number less.
The more years we count in our life—the fewer remain.

Are you afraid of dying? Oh! never be afraid of that—be afraid of living.
Living is the only thing which can do any harm—dying can never hurt a Christian.

Christian! You are nearer your eternal home than you thought you were—and every moment you are getting nearer still!

Oh, it would be indeed horrible if we could not die!
Who wants to be chained to this poor life for centuries?

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~

I have this against you!

(Archibald Alexander, "Returning to Our First Love")

"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love." Revelation 2:4

Declensions in vital piety are owing to a variety of causes, internal and external.
The whole, however, may be attributed to . . .
  the temptations of Satan,
  the allurements of the world, and
  the inbred corruptions of the heart.

Such declensions are very commonly produced by too much interaction with a careless, money-loving, pleasure-seeking world. Vital religion is a delicate plant, and being surrounded by many unfavorable circumstances, is liable to receive injury from contact with a polluted world. Worldly company and too much occupation in secular affairs, are almost sure to deaden our pious affections and to disqualify us for spiritual exercises.

He who is clothed in white and clean garments, will find it difficult to avoid contracting spots which deform and defile his robes, when he is obliged to live in a filthy house.

It is hard to pursue the world just as far as duty calls—and then to stop.
When the efforts to acquire money or property are successful, a pleasure is naturally experienced in the acquisition of such things. After a while, an undue love of the world is apt to be generated insensibly—and the evil creeps in insidiously.

But the undue love of the world, whether of its riches, its honors, or its pleasures—will soon injuriously influence the love of the soul to its Savior. The thoughts are too much drawn off from the contemplation of divine things, and the relish for spiritual duties and enjoyments is insensibly diminished. The duties of the prayer closet are no longer anticipated with delight; and the hours consecrated to private devotion, which used to be the most pleasant in the whole day, do not now afford the same comfort as formerly. The lack of enjoyment in pious duties, the wandering thoughts in the midst of them, and the lack of lively feeling—naturally tend to produce a backwardness to engage in them; so that were not the person forced, as it were, by conscience to enter his closet, he would often omit the duty altogether.

The most common means of restoring backsliders, is God's rod of affliction. The reason why God scourges every son who He receives, is that all have faults and imperfections, which a kind Father aims to correct by the use of the rod.

By affliction, the vanity of the world is seen—and the infatuation produced by the love of the world is broken. The backslider is filled with sorrow for having departed from the fountain of living water, and is driven to seek refuge and comfort in the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

There are so many lean Christians who devour hundreds of sermons!

(Edmund Calamy, 1600-1666)

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

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

It is not merely hearing a sermon that does you good, but meditating on what you hear. So when you hear a sermon, if you do not meditate and ponder upon what you hear, you will never get any good.

There are so many lean Christians who devour hundreds of sermons—and are never any better, never any fatter in grace. They never meditate, ponder and consider what they hear—that is the reason why they are so lean in grace.

Pray unto God to enlighten your understandings, to quicken your devotion, to warm your affections—that by meditation on holy things . . .
  you may be made more holy,
  you may have your lusts more mortified,
  you may have your graces more increased,
  you may better behold the vanity of the world,
  you may lifted up to Heaven and eternal realities.

"Meditate upon these things." 1 Timothy 4:15

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Sin is . . .

("The Lamb of God!" James Hamilton, 1814-1867)

"Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?" Job 22:5

Man is made up of divers lusts and passions! Pride, ambition, envy, vanity, resentment, anger, covetousness, immorality, cruelty—these and many evil appetites and emotions besides, flow through all his nature in fierce and malignant currents, and are his very being's poisoned blood and fevered pulse! They break out . . .
  in oaths and curses,
  in fightings and violence,
  in debauchery and orgy;
  in spoken falsehood and acted lies,
  in words of lewdness and deeds of shame!

Sin is . . .

  earth's great burden,
  humanity's deforming blot,
  the enemy of God,
  the transgressor of His law,
  the great soul-poison and heart-plague,
  the only thing which really defiles man,
  pollution, misery, guilt,
  incipient Hell,
  the only thing to which we can give, in its fullest sense, the emphatic name of evil.

Jesus could not look on sin without abhorrence. The sight of that cursed thing which had insulted His heavenly Father and filled a happy world with woe and horror, kindled His zeal and revenge; and while the Lamb's gentleness encouraged the sinner, the Lion's fury still flashed upon the sin.

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The greatness of the sin of gluttony!

(Richard Baxter, "Directions against Gluttony")

1. Gluttony is a sin exceedingly contrary to the love of God—it is idolatry!
What an odious, swinish, damning sin it is—for a man's heart to be set upon his belly!

2. Gluttony is self-murder! Though it does not kill suddenly—it kills surely!

3. Gluttony is a deadly enemy to the mind, and to all the noble employments of reason.

4. Gluttony dulls the body as well as the mind. It makes men heavy, and drowsy and slothful.

5. Gluttony is the immediate effect of a carnal mind, and of the damnable sin of flesh-pleasing.

6. Gluttony is the breeder and feeder of all other lusts.

7. Gluttony is a base and beastly kind of sin.

8. Gluttony is a wasteful consumer and devourer of the creatures of God.

9. Gluttony is a most unthankful sin—it takes God's mercies, and spews them as it were in His face!

10. Gluttony is a sin which turns your own mercies, and wealth, and food—into your snare and deadly ruin. You please your throat—and poison your soul!

11. Gluttony is a thief that robs you of your estates, and devours that which is given you for better uses, and for which you must give account to God.

12. Gluttony is a sin so much the greater—by how much the more delight you have in the committing of it. The sweetest, most voluntary and beloved sin—is the greatest sin. Few sins are more pleasant and beloved than gluttony.

13. Gluttony is the greater sin, because it is so frequently committed. Men live in it as their daily practice and delight. They live for it, and make it the end of other sins. Being turned into beasts—they live like beasts continually!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Do not pay too dear for a feast for worms!

(Richard Baxter, "Directions against Gluttony")

"Dust you are, and to dust you will return!" Genesis 3:19

"Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both." Job 21:26

"When You take away their breath, they die and return to the dust!" Psalm 104:29

"All come from dust, and to dust all return!" Ecclesiastes 3:20

Remember what your body is, and what it will shortly be, and how loathsome and vile it will be in the grave. And then think how far such a body should be pampered and pleased—and at what a price. Do not pay too dear for a feast for worms! Look into the grave, and see what the end of all of all your pleasant foods and drinks is; of all your dainty and costly fare. You may see there the skulls cast up, and the ugly hole of that mouth which devoured so many sweet, delicious morsels—but there is none of the pleasure of it now left!

Oh astonishing folly! that men can so easily, so eagerly, so obstinately, waste their estates, and neglect their souls, and displease their God, and in effect even sell their hopes of Heaven—for so small and sordid a delight, as the pleasing of such a piece of flesh, which must shortly have so vile an end!

Was it worth so much care, and toil, and cost, and the casting away of your salvation—to pamper that body a little while, which must shortly be such a loathsome carcass? Methinks one sight of a skull or a grave, would make you look upon gluttony and luxury as madness.

The case will be altered with you when all your wealth and friends cannot keep your pampered carcass from corruption, nor procure your soul a comfort equal to a drop of water to cool your tongue, tormented in the flames of God's displeasure! Then all the comfort you can procure from God and conscience will be but this sad memento, "Remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony!" Luke 16:25

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Gone so soon without a trace!

(Thomas Watson, "The Godly Man's Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil")

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

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

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time." Ephesians 5:16

How you spend your time is a matter of great importance. Many people fool away their time—some in idle visits, others in recreations and pleasures which secretly bewitch the heart, and take it away from holy things. What are our golden hours for—but to attend to our souls?

Time misspent is not time lived—but time lost!

Time is a precious commodity. As salvation is to be worked out in time, and a place in Heaven depends on using it well—time is of infinite concern!

Think of your short stay in the world. "We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow—gone so soon without a trace!" 1 Chronicles 29:15

There is but a span between the cradle and the grave! Solomon says there is "a time to be born and a time to die"—but mentions no time of living, as if that were so short, it was not worth naming!

Time, when it has once gone, can never be recalled. "My life passes more swiftly than a runner. It flees away, filled with tragedy. It disappears like a swift boat, like an eagle that swoops down on its prey." Job 9:25-26

This Scripture compares time to a flying eagle. Yet time differs from the eagle in this: the eagle flies forward and then back again—but time has wings only to fly forward—it never returns! Time flies away irrevocably!

The serious thoughts of our short stay here in this world, would be a great means of promoting godliness. Whoever considers how flitting and winged his life is—will hasten his repentance.

"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14

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

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~

One reason why the church has so little influence over the world

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!" Romans 12:2

I believe that one reason why the church has so little influence over the world—is because the world has so much influence over the church!

It is overwhelming to see the growing worldliness of the visible church. Many professed Christians—the Lord alone knows whether they are true believers or not—give us grave cause for apprehension. We see them tolerating practices which would not have been endured by their fathers; my blood chills when I think of how far some fashionable professors go astray!

When the Church descends to the world's level, her spiritual power is gone. Jesus said, "Preach the gospel to every creature!" But men are getting tired of the divine plan; they are going to be saved by the music, or by the theatricals, or by the amusements! Well, they may try these things as long as ever they like; but nothing can ever come of the whole thing but utter disappointment and confusion:
  God is dishonored,
  the gospel is travestied,
  hypocrites are manufactured by thousands, and
  the church is dragged down to the level of the world!

An unholy church! It is useless to the world—and of no esteem among men. It is . . .
  an abomination,
   Hell's laughter, and
  Heaven's abhorrence!

"The world has absorbed the Church, and the church is content that it should be so!" Horatius Bonar

"Conformity to the world, in all ages, has proved the ruin of the church!" Rowland Hill

"The spirit of the world is eating out the very heart and life of true godliness!" George Everard

Refined worldliness is the present snare of the Church of God!" Horatius Bonar

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Let me tell you a little secret!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law!" Psalm 119:18

Let me tell you a little secret: whenever you cannot understand a text, open your Bible, bend your knee, and pray over that text; and if it does not split into atoms and open itself, then try again. If prayer does not explain it, then it is one of those things that God does not intend you to know at present, and you may be content to be ignorant of it.

Prayer is the key that opens the cabinets of mystery. Prayer and faith are sacred picklocks that can open secrets, and obtain great treasures! There is no college for holy education like that of the blessed Spirit, for He is an ever-present tutor, to whom we have only to bend the knee, and He is at our side—the great expositor of truth!

You will frequently find fresh streams of thought leaping up from the passage before you, as if the rock had been struck by Moses' rod! New veins of precious ore will be revealed to your astonished gaze as you quarry God's Word and use diligently the hammer of prayer!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Go dogs, and eat the garbage!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
 For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
 Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
 What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
'Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

I believe that one reason why the church at this present moment has so little influence over the world, is because the world has so much influence over the church! Nowadays, we hear mere professors pleading that they may do this, and do that—that they may live like worldlings. My sad answer to them, when they crave this liberty is, "Do it if you dare. It may not cost you much hurt, for you are so bad already. Your worldly cravings show how rotten your hearts are! If you are hungering after such dog's food—go dogs, and eat the garbage!"

Worldly amusements are fit food for pretenders and hypocrites.

If you were God's children, you would loathe the thought of the world's evil joys. Your question would not be, "How far may we be like the world?" but your cry would be, "How can we get away from the world? How can we come out of it?"

"Whatever is true,
 whatever is noble,
 whatever is right,
 whatever is pure,
 whatever is lovely,
 whatever is admirable,
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
—think about such things!" Philippians 4:8

    ~  ~  ~  ~

How to conquer the world!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ!")

Perhaps the world—the smiling world or the frowning world, the tempting world or the persecuting world—lies as a heavy stone or burden upon your heart, as it does upon the hearts of thousands in these days. Witness their attempting anything to get the favors, honors and riches of this world! Ah! how many have turned their backs upon God, and Christ, and Heaven—to gain the world!

Men may hear many sermons—and yet remain worldly.
They may pray like angels—and yet live as if there were no Heaven nor Hell.
They will talk much of Heaven—and yet those who are spiritual and wise, smell their breath to stink strongly of earth.

All their endeavors can never cure them of this soul-killing disease—until faith breaks forth in its glorious actings. A man may hear sermons and pray many years—and yet remain as carnal, base, and worldly as ever! There is no way under Heaven to remove this burden—but by the exercise of faith!

"For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." 1 John 5:4-5

Faith presents the world to the soul under all those notions which the Scripture holds forth the world unto us by. The Scripture holds forth the world as . . .
  an impotent thing,
  as a mixed thing,
  as a mutable thing,
  as a momentary thing.
Now faith comes and sets this home with power upon the soul—and this takes the soul off from the world.

Faith causes the soul to converse with those more glorious, soul-satisfying, soul-delighting, and soul-contenting objects! Now when faith is busied and exercised about soul-ennobling, soul-greatening, soul-raising, and soul-cheering objects—a Christian tramples the world under his feet! In Hebrews 11, it was the exercise of faith and hope upon noble and glorious objects, which carried them above the world . . .
  above the smiling world,
  above the frowning world,
  above the tempting world,
  and above the persecuting world!

Faith conquers the world, by assuring the soul of enjoying of better things. Men may talk much of Heaven, and of Christ, and religion, etc.; but give me a man who really and clearly lives under the power of divine faith—and I cannot see how such a one can be carried out in an inordinate love to these poor transitory worldly things.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Challenging gems from Tozer!

Among the plastic saints of our times—Jesus has to do all the dying.
All we want is to hear another sermon about His dying!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

It is no longer either dangerous or costly to be a Christian!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Some Christians have taken all the justice, judgment and hatred of sin out of the nature of God—and have nothing left but a soft god.

    ~  ~  ~  ~
Let us start reading our Bibles with the thought that God means exactly what He says!

    ~  ~  ~  ~
The most godly Christian is the one who knows himself best.
No one who knows himself, will believe that he deserves anything better than Hell.

    ~  ~  ~  ~
Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so, by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days.

    ~  ~  ~  ~
We have learned to live with unholiness in our churches, and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

I would rather stand alone and have everybody as my enemy—than to go along with the crowd to Hell!

    ~  ~  ~  ~
Everywhere among professors we find people who are Bible-taught, but not Spirit-taught.
They grasp the truth with the mind, not the heart.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Many professing Christians are caught up with the toys of contemporary society.
They may be going to Hell, but it is going to be a comfortable ride for them.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Christians don't tell lies—they just go to church and sing them!

    ~  ~  ~  ~
Saving faith is irrevocable, total commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Most Christians would be better pleased, if the Lord did not inquire into their personal affairs too closely. They want Him to save them, keep them happy and take them to Heaven at last—but not to be too inquisitive about their desires or daily conduct.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The church has failed, by living too much like the world!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The difficulty we modern Christians face, is not misunderstanding the Bible—but persuading our worldly hearts to accept its plain instructions!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We must do something about the cross, and only one of two things we can do—flee it or die upon it.