Grace Gems for MARCH, 2019

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We should be content with His daily allowance!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes—and he dined regularly in the presence of the king of Babylon for the rest of his life. As for his allowance, a regular allowance was given to him by the king—a portion for each day, for the rest of his life." 2 Kings 25:29-30

Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king's palace with a 'supply' to last him for months, but his provision was given to him as a daily pension.

Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord's people. A daily portion is all that a man really needs. We do not need tomorrow's supplies; for that day has not yet dawned, and its needs are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June—does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet. If we have enough for each day as the days arrive—we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day—is all that we can enjoy.

We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day's supply of food and clothing; a surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them!" Matthew 6:31-32

One staff aids a traveler—but a bundle of staffs is a heavy burden.

Enough is not only as good as a feast—but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy.

Enough is all that we should expect—a craving for more than this is ungrateful.

When our Father does not give us morewe should be content with His daily allowance.

Jehoiachin's case is ours—we have . . .
  a sure portion;
  a portion given to us by the King;
  a gracious portion;
  and a perpetual portion.
Surely here is ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of grace. Day by day you must seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance—that a daily portion is provided for you. In the Word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God—you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus, all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance!

Never go hungry—while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy!

"Give us each day, our daily bread." Luke 11:3

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

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All the trees of earth are marked for the woodman's ax!

"How frail is humanity!
 How short is life, how full of trouble!
 We blossom like a flower, and then wither.
 Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear." Job 14:1-2

It may be of great service to us to remember this mournful fact—for it may help us to hold earthly things with a loose hand. There is nothing very pleasant in the recollection that we are not above the shafts of adversity—but it may humble us and prevent our boasting, "My mountain stands firm—I shall never be moved." It may keep us from taking too deep root in this earthly soil, from which we are so soon to be transplanted into the Heavenly garden.

Let us recollect the frail tenure upon which we hold our temporal mercies. If we would remember that all the trees of earth are marked for the woodman's ax, we would not be so ready to build our nests in them. We would love others—but we would love with the love which expects death, and which reckons upon separations. Our dear relations are but loaned to us, and the hour when we must return them to the Lender's hand may be even at the door.

The like is certainly true of our worldly goods, "Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone—for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle." Proverbs 23:5

Our health is equally precarious. We are frail flowers of the field—and must not reckon upon blooming forever. There is a time appointed for weakness and sickness, when we shall have to glorify God by suffering—and not by earnest activity.

There is no single point in which we can hope to escape from the sharp arrows of affliction. Out of our few days—there is not one secure from sorrow. Man's life is a cask full of bitter wine; he who looks for joy in it, would sooner find honey in an ocean of brine!

Beloved reader, do not set your affections upon things of earth—but seek those things which are above; for here the moth devours, and the thief breaks through—but there all joys are perpetual and eternal. The path of trouble is the way Home.

Lord, make this thought a soft pillow for many a weary head!

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A diligent pupil in the College of Contentment

(Charles Spurgeon)

"I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. Grumbling, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man—as weeds are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and weeds; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth. Just so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.

"Ill weeds grow quickly." But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener's care.

Now, contentment is one of the flowers of Heaven, and if we would have it—then it must be cultivated, as it will not grow in us by nature. It is the new nature alone which can produce contentment—and even then we must be especially careful and watchful, that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us.

Paul says, "I have learned... to be content;" as much as to say, that he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mastery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, "I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content," he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave—a poor prisoner shut up in Nero's dungeon at Rome.

We might well be willing to endure Paul's infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him—if we too might by any means attain unto his high degree of contentment. Do not indulge the notion that you can learn contentment without discipline. It is not an ability that may be exercised naturally—but a grace to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be—and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Contentment.

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We have actually out-sinned thousands!

(Thomas Brooks)

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly!" Romans 5:6

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!" Romans 5:8

"When we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son!" Romans 5:10

Sit down in astonishment at this matchless love of God!

Oh! what is in us—that should cause the Lord to give such gifts to us as He has given? We were all equal in sin and misery; nay, doubtless, we have actually out-sinned thousands, to whom these precious gifts are denied. Oh! we were once poor wretches sitting upon the ash-heap, yes, wallowing in our blood, and yet behold—the King of kings, the Lord of lords, has so far abounded in His love, as to bestow Himself, His Spirit, His grace, and all the jewels of His royal crown upon us! Oh! what heart can conceive, what tongue can express, this matchless love!

Says Christ:
"I will be yours forever,
 and My Spirit shall be yours forever,
 and My grace shall be yours forever,
 and My glory shall be yours forever,
 and My righteousness shall be yours forever!
All that I am and all that I have—shall be yours forever!"

O what incomparable love is this!

Oh! what a precious Christ is this!

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us—that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

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Do not judge a minister . . .

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

"If you point these things out to the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed." 1 Timothy 4:6

It is sad to see how many preachers in our days make it their business to enrich men's heads with lofty, empty, airy notions—instead of enriching their souls with holy truths.

Fix yourself under that man's ministry who makes it his business, his work—to enrich the soul, to win the soul, and to build up the soul; not to tickle the ear, or please the fancy. This age is full of such light, vain souls—who dislike everything but what is empty and airy.

Do not judge a minister . . .
  by his voice, nor
  by the multitude who follow him, nor
  by his affected tone, nor
  by his rhetoric and flashes of wit;
but by the holiness, heavenliness, and spiritualness of his teaching!
Many ministers are like empty orators, who have a flood of words—but a drop of matter!

Some preachers affect rhetorical strains; they seek abstrusities and love to hover and soar aloft in dark and cloudy expressions, and so shoot their arrows over their hearers' heads—instead of bettering their hearers' hearts.

Mirthful things
in a sermon are only for men to gaze upon and admire.

He is the best preacher, not who tickles the ear—but who breaks the heart!

"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power!" 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

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The reason why He is contending with you!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Show me why You contend with me." Job 10:2

Perhaps, O tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop your graces.

There are some of your graces which would never be discovered, if it were not for your trials.

Do you not know that your faith never looks so grand in summer weather, as it does in winter?

Love is too often like a glow-worm, showing but little light unless it is in the midst of surrounding darkness.

Hope itself is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, but only to be discovered in the night of adversity.

Afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of His children's graces, to make them shine the better.

Real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials.

God often takes away our comforts and our privileges, in order to make us better Christians.

He trains His soldiers, not in tents of ease and luxury—but by forcing them into difficult marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs.

Well, Christian, may not this account for the troubles through which you are passing?
Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow?
Is not this the reason why He is contending with you?

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

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The Midas touch!

(Thomas Brooks)

Faith is the most useful grace—it is the Christian's . . .
  right eye, without which he cannot see for Christ;
  right hand, without which he cannot act for Christ;
  tongue, without which he cannot speak for Christ;
  strength, without which he cannot live for Christ.

It is fabled of King Midas, that whatever he touched would be turned into gold.
I am sure that whatever faith touches, it turns into gold; that is, into our good.

Whatever faith lays its hand upon, it appropriates to itself, and turns it into the soul's good!

If our faith touches the promises, it turns them into our good.

If faith looks upon God, it says, "This God is my God forever and ever—He shall be my guide unto death!"

When it looks upon Christ, it says, "My Lord and Redeemer!"

When it looks upon the crown of righteousness, it says, "This crown is laid up for me!"

Faith is . . .
  bread to nourish us,
  wine to cheer us,
  a cordial to strengthen us,
  a sword to defend us,
  a guide to direct us,
  a staff to support us,
  a remedy to heal us,
  a friend to comfort us, and
  a golden key to open Heaven unto us.

Faith, of all graces, is the most useful grace to the soul of man.
All those services are lost, wherein faith has not a hand.
You may write 'loss' . . .
  upon all the prayers you make, and
  upon all the sermons you hear, and
  upon all the tears you shed, and
  upon all the alms you give,
—if all are not managed by a hand of faith.
"Without faith it is impossible to please God!" Hebrews 11:6

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Optimum maximum!

(Thomas Brooks)

Christians serve a wonderful Master.
They serve Him who is . . .
  all ear to hear them,
  all hand to uphold them,
  all power to protect them,
  all wisdom to direct them,
  all goodness to relieve them,
  all mercy to pardon them.

They serve that God who is optimum maximum—the best and greatest!

God has . . .

  all dignity,
  all glory,
  all riches,
  all treasure,
  all pleasure,
  all delight,
  all joy, and
  all beatitudes.

God is . . .
  all goodness,
  all beauty,
  all power,
  all wisdom,
  all justice,
  all mercy, and
  all love itself!

God is one infinite perfection in Himself!

"He has all—who has the Haver of all!" Αugustine

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A faithful minister

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

"Let the elders who rule well be accounted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the Word and doctrine." 1 Timothy 5:17

The which is here rendered labor, signifies not simply to labor—but to labor with much travail and toil, to labor even to exhaustion, as he does who chops wood, or who fights in a battle.

Oh what an honor is it to a faithful minister, when he has . . .
  found the people dark and blind—but left them enlightened;
  found them dead—but left them alive;
  found them a proud people—but left them humble;
  found them a profane people—but left them holy;
  found them a carnal people—but left them spiritual;
  found them a worldly people—but left them heavenly;
  found them a wavering people—but left them settled and rooted.

Oh, it is an honor to faithful ministers, when their people are like them . . .
  in knowledge,
  in wisdom,
  in love,
  in humility,
  in holiness!

"Watch your life and doctrine closely." 1 Timothy 4:16

A preacher's life should be a commentary of his doctrine.

His practice should be a counterpart of his sermons.

Heavenly doctrines should always be adorned with a heavenly life!

"Be an example to all believers . . .
  in what you teach,
  in the way you live,
  in your love, your faith, and your purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

"We preach to people who must live forever . . .
   in Heaven—or Hell;
   with God—or devils;
   in an eternity of joy—or of torment!" Thomas Doolittle

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The cross has not become obsolete!

(Horatius Bonar, "The Surety's Cross")

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing; but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

The whole world looked with contempt—indignant at the audacity of a few humble Christians, thus . . .
  affronting and defying the "public opinion" of nations and ages;
  assailing the religions of earth with the cross as their only sword;
  striking down their idols with this as their only hammer; and
  with this, as their one lever, proposing to turn the world upside down!
From that day the cross became "a power" in the earth; a power which went forth, like the light—noiselessly yet irresistibly—smiting down all religions alike, all shrines alike, all altars alike—sparing no superstition nor philosophy.

This power remains—in its mystery, its silence, its influence, it remains. The cross has not become obsolete! The preaching of the cross has not ceased to be powerful and effectual!

There are those who would persuade us that, in this modern age—the cross is out of date and out of fashion, time-worn. But this does not shake us. It only leads us to clasp the cross more fervently, and to study it more profoundly, as embodying in itself that gospel which is at once the wisdom and the power of God.

Yet the cross is not without its mysteries:

  It illuminates—yet it darkens.

  It is life—yet it is death.

  It is honor—yet it is shame.

  It is wisdom—but also foolishness.

The cross is . . .
  both pardon, and condemnation;
  both strength, and weakness;
  both joy, and sorrow;
  both love, and hatred;
  both medicine, and poison;
  both hope, and despair.

The cross is Christ's humiliation—yet it is His exaltation!

The cross is Satan's victory—yet it is Satan's defeat!

The cross is the gate of Heaven—and the gate of Hell!

The cross is the key . . .
  to God's character,
  to God's Word,
  to God's ways,
  to God's purposes.

The cross is the summary of all the Bible—the epitome of Scripture Revelation!

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Look up today, O parched plant!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing." Ezekiel 34:26

Here is sovereign grace, "I will send down showers." Is this not sovereign, divine mercy—for who can say, "I will send down showers," except God? There is only one voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the rain. "Who sends down the rain upon the earth? Who scatters the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord?"
Grace is the gift of God—and is not to be created by man.

It is also needed grace. What would the ground do without showers? You may break the clods, you may sow your seeds—but what can you do without the rain? As absolutely needful is the divine blessing. In vain you labor, until God bestows the plenteous shower, and sends salvation down.

Then, it is plenteous grace. "I will send down showers." It does not say, "I will send them drops," but "showers." So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, He usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough to receive it. Plenteous grace! Ah! we need plenteous grace . . .
  to keep us humble,
  to make us prayerful,
  to make us holy,
  to make us zealous,
  to preserve us through this life,
  and at last to land us in Heaven!
We cannot do without saturating showers of grace.

Again, it is seasonable grace. "I will send down showers in season."
What is your season this morning?
Is it the season of drought? Then that is the season for showers.
Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers.
"As your days—so shall your strength be."

And here is a varied grace. "I will give you showers of blessing." The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God's blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If He gives converting grace—He will also give comforting grace. He will send "showers of blessing."

Look up today, O parched plant
, and open your leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering!

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Nine evils which death will put an end to!

(Thomas Watson, "The Saint's Desire to be with Christ")

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

It is the desire of a true saint to be gone from this present world, "I desire to depart." What a wicked man fears—that a godly man hopes for!

The worldling desires to live in this present world forever; he knows no other heaven but earth—and it is death to him to be turned out of his heaven. A wicked man does not go out of this world—but is dragged out!

But a soul enlivened and ennobled with a principle of grace, looks upon the world as a wilderness wherein are fiery serpents, and he desires to get out of this wilderness!

The bird desires to get out of the cage, though it is made of gold.
Just so, the saints of God have looked upon themselves as imprisoned in the body, and have longed for a jail-delivery. "Oh, that I had wings like a dove, that I might fly away and be at rest!" Psalm 55:6

It is no wonder that a true saint is so earnest to be gone from this present world—if we consider how beneficial death is to a child of God. Death puts an end to all his evils! In particular, there are nine evils which death will put an end to:

1. Death will put an end to a believer's SINS.

2. Death will put an end to a believer's TEMPTATIONS.

3. Death will put an end to a believer's FEARS.

4. Death will dry up a believer's TEARS.

5. Death will put an end to a believer's TROUBLES.

6. Death puts an end to a believer's CARES.

7. Death will put an end to all our NATURAL imperfections. 

8. Death will put an end to the imperfections of GRACE.

9. Death will put an end to a weary PILGRIMAGE.

Though death is a bitter cup, there is sugar at the bottom!

Death is the believer's best friend, for it brings him to Christ, which is far better!

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!" Philippians 1:21

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God is too kind to punish the ungodly!

(A.W. Tozer)

God's justice stands forever against the unrepentant sinner in utter severity!

The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions! It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all kinds of iniquity—while damnation draws every day nearer, and the command to repent goes unregarded. As responsible moral beings, we dare not so trifle with our eternal future!

"On the wicked He will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot!" Psalm 11:6

"Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them!" Isaiah 3:11

"They always heap up their sins to the limit. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost!" 1 Thessalonians 2:16

"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 6:16-17

"He, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb!" Revelation 14:10

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The only saint He ever loved!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastens every son He receives." Hebrews 12:6

Bear patiently the rod for a season, and under the darkness—still trust in God, for His love burns towards you. God loves His redeemed people with a love too deep for human imagination. He loves them with all His infinite heart!

God has not forgotten you, because He smites. His blows are no evidences of lack of love. You may fear that the Lord has passed you by—but it is not so! He who counts the stars, and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting His own redeemed children! He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature He ever made—or the only saint He ever loved!

"Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb?
 Even these may forget, but I will never forget you!" Isaiah 49:15

"I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love.
 With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself!" Jeremiah 31:3

"Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the very end!" John 13:1

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A corrupt heart was the source of all!

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

We have seen what man was as God made him—a lovely and happy creature.

Let us view him now as he has unmade himself—we shall see him a sinful and a miserable creature. This is the sad state we are brought into by the fall. Man's nature is now wholly corrupted. There is a sad alteration—an astonishing overturning in the nature of man. Where, at first, there was nothing evil—now there is nothing good.

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Genesis 6:5

All our wicked practices are here traced to the fountain and spring-head—a corrupt heart was the source of all.

The soul, which was made upright in all its faculties—is now wholly disordered.

The heart, which originally was made according to God's own heart—is now the reverse of it . . .
 a forge of evil imaginations,
 a sink of inordinate affections,
 and a storehouse of all impiety! Mark 7:21, 22

Behold the heart of the natural man, as it is opened in our text:

The mind is defiled.

The thoughts of the heart are evil.

The will and affections are defiled.

The imagination of the thoughts of the heart, that is, whatever the heart frames within itself by thinking, such as judgment, choice, purposes, devices, desires, every inward motion—is evil. Yes, and every imagination—every frame of his thoughts, is evil continually.

But is there not, at least, a mixture of good in them? No, they are only evil. Whatever changes may be found in them, are only from evil to evil; for the imagination of the heart, or frame of thoughts in natural men, is evil continually. Not one holy thought can ever be produced by an unholy heart.

O, what a vile heart is this!

O, what a corrupt nature is this!

What can that heart be, whereof every imagination, every set of thoughts—is only evil, and that continually!

Surely that corruption is ingrained in our hearts, interwoven with our very natures, has sunk deep into our souls, and will never be cured but by a miracle of grace. Now such is man's heart, such is his nature—until regenerating grace changes it!

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances!" Ezekiel 36:26-27

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The chief dangers which will confront the church in the coming century!

(William Booth, 1829-1916)

The chief dangers which will confront the church in the coming century will be . . .
  religion without the Holy Spirit,
  Christianity without Christ,
  forgiveness without repentance,
  salvation without regeneration,
  Heaven without Hell.

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One continued dream and delusion!

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

"There is no one who understands." Romans 3:11

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14

"They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts." Ephesians 4:18

The natural man's apprehension of divine things is corrupt. The understanding, that leading faculty, is despoiled of its primitive glory, and covered over with confusion.

Tell them how they may advance their worldly wealth, or how they may gratify their lusts—and they will quickly understand these things. But it is very hard to make them know how their souls may be saved, or how their hearts may find rest in Christ. They are very stupid and unteachable in the matters of God. What woeful delusions prevail over them! Do we not often see those, who in other things are the wisest of men—yet are notorious fools with respect to their soul's eternal interests?

Many who are eagle-eyed in the trifles of time—yet are like owls and bats in the light of eternal realities. Nay, truly, the life of every natural man is but one continued dream and delusion, out of which he never awakes, until either, by a divine light darted from Heaven into his soul, he comes to himself—or, in Hell he lifts up his eyes in torment!

Sin has closed the windows of the soul, and darkness covers the whole. The prince of darkness reigns there, and nothing but the works of darkness are framed there. We are born spiritually blind—and cannot be restored without a miracle of grace!

"For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord!" Ephesians 5:8

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God would be voted out of the world!

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

"The world . . . hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil." John 7:7

"They have hated both Me and my Father!" John 15:24
"They hated Me without a cause!" John 15:25

"Haters of God." Romans 1:30

"Crucify Him!" they shouted.
"Why? What crime has He committed?" asked Pilate.
 But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify Him!" Mark 15:13-14

Men set up for themselves an idol of their own imagination, instead of the true God—and then fall down and worship it.

Every natural man is an enemy to God—as He is revealed in His Word. The infinitely holy, just, powerful, and true God—is not the God whom he loves, but the God whom he loathes! The Pagans finding that they could not be like God in holiness, made their gods like themselves in filthiness; and thereby they show what sort of a god the natural man would have. God is holy and just; can an unholy creature love His unspotted holiness?

There is not a man, who is wedded to his lusts, as all the unregenerate are—but would desire to blot out the God of justice. Can the malefactor love his condemning judge? Can a heinous sinner love a just and holy God? No, he cannot!

Men naturally would rather have a blind idol—than the all-seeing God! They no more love the all-seeing, everywhere present God—than the thief loves to have the judge witness to his evil crimes. If it could be carried by votes, God would be voted out of the world; for the language of the carnal heart is, "Leave us alone! We have no desire to know Your ways!" Job 21:14

"The carnal mind is a mass of downright, undiluted enmity to the Most High God. Such a mind is opposed, not merely to the things of God, the laws of God, and the truth of God—but to God Himself!" Spurgeon

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A lion! a dragon! a serpent!

(Henry Law, "Gleanings from the Book of Life")

"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish!
 No one can snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

Many and mighty are their foes—yet the good Shepherd protects all of His sheep.

In themselves they are as weak and tremulous as a broken reed.

The wild boar out of the forest marks them as his prey.

The roaring lion watches to devour.

Savage dogs would mangle.

The wind, the rain, the tempest, threaten to destroy.

The Good Shepherd knows these perils, and protects from all.

Satan is the arch enemy of the flock:
  for strength—he is a lion,
  for fierceness—he is a dragon,
  for twisting deviousness—he is a serpent.

His might almost reaches almightiness.

His many vassals, as legion, are a universal swarm.

His vigilance never slumbers.

His skill is barbed by world long experience.

His wrath is vehement, because his time is short. He wars with desperation because a hopeless doom is near.

How is it that the sheep are not all driven to Satan's prison cell?

There must be a Shepherd almighty to protect.

He who delivered David "from the paw of the lion, and from the paw of the bear" is the same rescuing Lord.

Paul seemed to be in the jaws of ruin, but he testifies, "The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, and I was delivered from the lion's mouth."

In direst extremity let the believer cry, "Rescue me from the mouth of the lion; save me from the horns of the wild oxen!"

A protecting arm will speedily be outstretched.

Thus His sheep never perish, and no one can snatch them out of His hands!

 ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The secret desire of every unconverted heart!

(Robert Murray M'Cheyne, 1813-1843)

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God!' They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good." Psalm 53:1

It is in his heart that he says this. This is the secret desire of every unconverted heart. If the bosom of God were within the reach of men, it would be stabbed a million times in one moment!

When God was manifest in the flesh, He was altogether lovely. He did no sin, and went about continually doing good. Yet they they mocked Him and spat upon Him and crucified Him on the accursed tree! Unconverted men would do the same with God again—if they could.

Learn the fearful depravity of your heart. I venture to say that there is not an unconverted man present, who has the most distant idea of the monstrous wickedness that is now within his bosom. When you are in Hell, it will break out unrestrained.

Yes, you have a heart that would kill God if you could. If the bosom of God were within your reach, and one blow would rid the universe of Him—you have a heart fit to do the heinous deed!

    ~  ~  ~  ~ 

Like the bubble on the stream!

John MacDuff)

"You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man's life is but a breath!" Psalm 39:5

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

"This world in its present form is passing away!" 1 Corinthians 7:31

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

"The world and its evil desires are passing away!" 1 John 2:17

We shall come, some day, to see the false and fascinating joys of earth in their true light: like the bubble on the stream, dancing its little moment on the surface—and then vanishing forever!

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26. Nothing else; nothing less, can satisfy the cravings of an immortal spirit. All other happiness is a mimic happiness; a wretched counterfeit of the true; a base alloy, on which Satan may have stamped the currency of Heaven; but it is "of the earth, earthy"—and upon it Death will put an extinguisher forever!

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" Mark 8:36

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Into the depths of the sea!

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

The sinner outside of Christ is bound over to the wrath of God. He is under an obligation in law to go to the prison of Hell, and there to lie until he has paid the utmost farthing.

But "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1

The believer's sins are pardoned, and the guilt of them is removed. The bond obliging him to pay his debt is canceled. God the Father . . .
  takes the pen,
  dips it in the blood of His Son,
  crosses off the sinner's accounts,
  and forever blots them out of His debt-book!

Being united to Christ, God says, "Deliver him from going down to the pit—for I have found a ransom!" Job 33:24

The sentence of condemnation is reversed, and the believer is absolved and set beyond the reach of the condemning law. His sins, which previously were set before the Lord, Psalm 90:8, so that they could not be hidden—God now takes and casts them all behind His back, Isaiah 38:17. Yes, God "will tread our sins underfoot, and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea!" Micah 7:19

What falls into a brook may be retrieved—but what is cast into the sea cannot be recovered.

But there are some shallow places in the sea. True, but their sins are not cast there—but into the depths of the sea. The depths of the sea are devouring depths, from whence their sins shall never come forth again.

But what if they do not sink? God will hurl them in with such force that they shall go to the bottom, and sink as lead in the mighty waters of the Redeemer's blood!

Their sins are not only forgiven—but forgotten. Jeremiah 31:34, "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." And though their after-sins do in themselves deserve eternal wrath, and do actually make them liable to temporal strokes, and fatherly chastisements, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, Psalm 89:30-33—yet they can never be actually liable to eternal wrath.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Blessed change!

(William Nicholson, "Pearls of Great Price!")

"If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

But in what sense?

No new physical faculties are given to him; but his faculties have new qualities and applications. They receive a new bias, and are engaged in new and different views and pursuits.

The understanding is enlightened, and has different ideas and sensations of spiritual things.

The desires are fixed on God and holiness.

The will is submissive to the Word and will of God; and the renewed person enjoys peculiar satisfaction and delight in whatever is heavenly and divine. He now . . .
  hates sin,
  conquers the world,
  obeys the divine precepts,
  loves all his brethren in the Lord,
  and pursues holiness in the fear of God.

Blessed change!

Who is the author of it?

The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last, of a Christian's birth and character—is the sovereign mercy of God; and to that mercy, in time and eternity—he may well ascribe all the praise!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—in His great mercy He has has caused us to be born again!" 1 Peter 1:3

    ~  ~  ~  ~

All of His glorious attributes and perfections are yours!

(William Nicholson, "Pearls of Great Price!")

It is the privilege of Christians to say, "For this God is our God for ever and ever! He will be our guide even to the end!" Psalm 48:14

The believer is also called an heir of God, which implies that he is entitled, through grace, to all that the Infinite Jehovah possesses, so far as shall be needful to make him completely and eternally happy.

God is . . .
  an infinite Being,
  without bounds to His essence,
  wonderful in His actions,
  inconceivable in His purposes,
  and inexpressible in His attributes.

He is . . .
  infinitely more than worlds in Himself;
  too high for our speculations, and
  too majestic for our descriptions—yet
He is the God of all His redeemed people!

Christians, rejoice that this God is yours!

All of His glorious attributes and perfections are yours!

His mercy is yours . . .
  to save you,
  to remove your guilt, and
  to sympathize with you in times of distress.

His wisdom is yours . . .
  to provide for you,
  to counsel you, and
  to direct all things for your good.

His omnipotence is yours . . .
  to guard and protect you in the hour of danger,
  to support you in every conflicting scene, and
  to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom.
His goodness is yours . . .
  to supply all your needs,
  to enrich you with the best of blessings, and
  to grant you unfading happiness in the mansions of glory.

His omniscience is yours . . .
  to behold you in every situation, adverse or prosperous;
  to foresee all the attacks your adversaries intend to make upon you;
  and to provide for your present and everlasting security.

His omnipresence is yours—therefore He has said:
  "In six troubles I will be with you, and in seven I will not forsake you."
  "I will never leave you nor ever forsake you."
  "Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world."

His justice is yours . . .
  to fulfill all covenant engagements,
  to reward you with a dwelling-place in the realms of bliss,
  to punish all those hostile powers incessantly opposing you.

His immutability is the rock of your security, and the source of your unspeakable joy!

His faithfulness is yours, as the pledge for the accomplishment of all those exceeding great and precious promises to those who believe.

This God is really your own, and entirely your own, and eternally your own!

Oh! the happiness of the Christian, in having the Lord for his God!
Rejoice and say, "The Lord is my portion, therefore will I hope in Him!"

How great is the condescension of God, in becoming the eternal portion of such worthless worms!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

My Beloved is mine—and I am His!

(William Nicholson, "Christ, the Portion of Believers!" 1855)

Christians! The Redeemer with all His glorious salvation, in all His offices, and under all the characters which He sustains—is yours! You may say, with the fullest assurance, "My Beloved is mine—and I am His!" You are the objects of the blessed Redeemer's particular care, given into His hands by His and your Father, to be saved by Him . . .
  from the guilt and dominion of sin,
  from all the powers of darkness, and
  from the vengeance of eternal fire!

He executes all of His offices on your behalf:

 As a Priest, He has made an atonement for your sin, and reconciled you to God.

 As a Prophet, He teaches you all that you need for life and godliness, from His Word.

 As a King, He reigns in His Church, and rules in the heart of every believer.

 He is a Physician to heal the diseased soul.

 He is a Shepherd to feed and guide His flock.

 He is a Counselor to direct them in all the intricate paths of life.

 He is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, and whose friendship is unchangeable and everlasting.

 He is an Advocate to plead His people's cause.

 He is a Redeemer to emancipate their souls from sin's bondage.

Jesus is . . .
  a Sun to enlighten you,
  a Shield to defend you,
  a Door to admit you to Heaven,
  a Tree for fruit to nourish you,
  a Balm of Gilead to heal your soul maladies!

His unchangeable grace and mercy,
His perfect obedience,
His sin-atoning death,
His constant divine intercession—
are replete with comfort to the lost and undone sinner.

I have found Him whom my soul loves!
I've found the Pearl of greatest price!
My Christ is first, my Christ is last, my Christ is all in all!

We are His, through the purchase of His blood—we are bought with an inestimable price! Delightful thought! The believer can confidently say, "I am the Lord's!"

What more can my soul desire, in order to secure its happiness? I am the Lord's—delightful words, as sweet as the harmony of Heaven! Thousands of times might the charming announcement be made, and yet . . .
   not all its power is felt,
   not all its worth is comprehended,
   nor all its glory seen!

I am the Lord's! Then welcome . . .
 poverty with all its toils,
 persecution with all its frowns,
 labors with all their arduousness.

Then welcome death which will end all my conflicts here, and lead me home to Him whose I am—who loved me, and gave Himself for me!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

But why should I be unhappy?

(William Nicholson, "Pearls of Great Price!" 1855)

A lady of wealth and piety, who had lately met with heavy afflictions, and was expecting more, related some of her sorrows to a poor pious woman, whose humble cottage she entered.

The poor Christian, taking the lady to a closet, said, "Do you see anything?"

The lady replied, "No."

"Then, Madam," said the poor woman, "you see all that I have in this world. But why should I be unhappy? I have Christ in my heart, and Heaven in my eye. I have the unfailing word of promise, that bread shall be given me, and water shall be sure, while I stay a little longer in this valley of tears. And, when I die, a bright crown of glory awaits me, through the merits of Christ."

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!" Philippians 3:7-8

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Once, a poor aged Christian was observed making her scanty meal of bread and water. Expressing the warm gratitude of her heart, because the Savior was hers, she said, "All this—and Jesus too!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~

No man was tortured at the stake with more cruelty than the holy martyr, John Lambert. They burnt him with a slow fire, by inches. When his legs were burnt off, and his thighs were mere stumps in the fire—they threw his poor body upon pikes, and lacerated his broiling flesh with their axes. But God was with him in the midst of the flame, and supported him in all the anguishing torture. Just before he expired, he lifted up his hands, all flaming with fire, and cried out to the people, with his dying voice, "None but Christ! None but Christ!"

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Oh! what earthly honors can be compared to these!

(William Nicholson, "Pearls of Great Price!")

A Christian is . . .
  a sinner saved by sovereign grace,
  admitted to fellowship with the Most High God,
  guarded by the strength of Omnipotence,
  guided with infallible wisdom,
  borne up amid the swellings of Jordan,
  conveyed by angels to the celestial paradise,
  there to receive the crown of immortality, and a palm of eternal victory!

Oh! what earthly honors can be compared to these! Earthly honors! name them not—they are laid in the balance, and found lighter than vanity! But, Christians, your honors are not shadowy, but substantial. Therefore, forget them not. Enjoy them. They are wells of salvation—drink of them freely. They are the dews of Heaven—let them refresh your soul! They are clusters of fruit from the cross, and streams from the ocean of heavenly felicity! "Eat, O friends—drink abundantly, O beloved!"

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Sought Out!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought Out!" Isaiah 62:12

The surpassing grace of God is seen very clearly in seeking out His elect people. We were mingled with the mire—we were as when some precious jewel falls into the sewer, and men gather out and carefully inspect a mass of abominable filth, and continue to stir and rake and search among the heap until the treasure is found.

Or, to use another figure, we were lost in a labyrinth and we wandered hither and thither. When sovereign mercy came after us with the gospel, it did not find us at the first coming—it had to search for us and seek us out. For we as lost sheep were so desperately lost, and had wandered into such a strange country, that it did not seem possible that even the Good Shepherd could track our devious roamings.

Glory be to unconquerable grace—we were sought out! No gloom could hide us, no filthiness could conceal us—we were found and brought home! Glory be to infinite love—God the Holy Spirit sought us and saved us!

The lives of some of God's people, if they could be written—would fill us with holy astonishment. Strange and marvelous are the ways which God used in their case, to find His own. Blessed be His name—He never relinquishes the search, until the chosen are sought out effectually.

They are not a people sought today and cast away tomorrow. Almightiness and wisdom combined, will make no failures—they shall be called, "Sought out!"

That any should be sought out is matchless grace, but that we should be sought out is grace beyond degree! We can find no reason for it—but God's own sovereign love! We can only lift up our heart in amazement, and praise the Lord that we wear the name of "Sought Out!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Such a friend!

(Thomas Brooks, "Apples of Gold" 1660)

Proverbs 18:24, "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."  Such a friend is the Lord Jesus.

He is so a friend to every one of His people—as if He were a friend to none besides.

Jesus is . . .
  an omnipotent friend,
  an omniscient friend,
  an omnipresent friend,
  an all-sufficient friend,
  a sovereign friend,
  an immutable friend,
  a watchful friend,
  a loving friend,
  a faithful friend,
  a compassionate friend,
  an intimate friend,
  a friend in all cases and in all places,
  our best friend!

"Whom He loves, He loves to the end!" John 13:1

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Sharp-edged tools!

"I will take heed to my ways." Psalm 39:1

(Charles Spurgeon)

Fellow-pilgrim, do not say in your heart, "I will go here and there, and I shall not sin;" for you are never so out of danger of sinning, as to boast of security.

The road is very miry, it will be hard to pick your path so as not to soil your garments. This is a world of pitch, and you will need to watch often, if in handling it you are to keep your hands clean.

There is a robber at every turn of the road to rob you of your graces!

There is a temptation in every mercy!

There is a snare in every joy!

And if you ever reach Heaven at last—it will be a miracle of divine grace, to be ascribed entirely to your Father's preserving power.

Be on your guard! When a man carries gun-powder in his hand, he should be careful that he does not go near a candle; and you too must take care that you do not go near temptation.

Even your common actions are sharp-edged tools—you must mind how you handle them. There is nothing in this world to foster a Christian's piety—but everything to destroy it. How anxious should you be to look up to God—that He may keep you! Your prayer should be, "Hold me up—and I shall be safe!" Having prayed, you must also watch—guarding every thought, word, and action with holy jealousy.

Do not unnecessarily expose yourselves to temptation. But if called to exposure, if you are bidden to go where the enemy's darts are flying—then never venture forth without your shield of faith. For if once the devil finds you without it—he will rejoice that his hour of triumph has come, and will soon make you fall down wounded by his arrows! Though you cannot be utterly slain—you may be wounded.

Be sober, be vigilant—danger may be in an hour when all seems securest to you. Therefore, take heed to your ways, and watch unto prayer. No man ever fell into sin through being too watchful. May the Holy Spirit guide you in all your ways—so that you shall always please the Lord.

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation!" Matthew 26:41

    ~  ~  ~  ~


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

"After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, shouting: Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God, because His judgments are true and righteous! And again they shouted: Hallelujah! For the smoke of her torment goes up for ever and ever!" Revelation 19:1-3

None were so compassionate as the saints when on earth, during the time of God's patience—but now time is at an end. Their compassion for the ungodly is swallowed in joy in the Mediator's glory, and His executing just judgment, by which His enemies are made His footstool.

Though, when on earth, the righteous wept in secret places for their lost friends and family, because they would not hear—yet "The righteous will rejoice when he sees the retribution; he will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked." Psalm  58:10

No pity shall then be shown to the lost, even from their nearest relations.

The godly wife shall applaud the justice of the Judge, in the condemnation of her ungodly husband!

The godly husband shall say Amen! to the condemnation of her who lay in his bosom.

The godly parents shall say Hallelujah! at the passing of the sentence against their ungodly child.

And the godly child shall, from the bottom of his heart, approve the condemnation of his wicked parents—the father who begat him, and the mother who bore him.

"Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Revelation 19:6

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Short pithy gems from John Newton!

(John Newton)

They are the happiest Christians, who have the lowest thoughts of themselves, and in whose eyes Jesus is most glorious and precious!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

My heart is vile, and even my prayers are sin. My soul is very sick—but my Physician is infallible!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

How unspeakably wonderful it is, to know that all our concerns are held in hands that bled for us!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Our sea may sometimes be stormy—but we have an infallible Pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Our work is great—our time is short—and the consequences of our labors are infinite!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Lord, save us from our golden calves!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Abominations, like nests of vipers, lie quietly in us—until the rod of affliction arouses them. Then they hiss and show their venom!