Grace Gems for MAY, 2019

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You have been long a-gathering rust!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod or, The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

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

Oh! but my afflictions are greater than other men's afflictions are!
Oh! there is no affliction like my affliction! How can I not murmur?

It may be that your sins are greater than other men's sins. If you have sinned against . . .
  more light,
  more love,
  more mercies,
  more promises,
than others—then it is no wonder if your afflictions are greater than others!
If this is your case, then you have more cause to be mute than to murmur!

It may be that the Lord sees that it is very needful that your afflictions should be greater than others.

It may be that your heart is . . .
  harder and stouter than other men's hearts,
  or prouder than other men's hearts,
  or more impure than other men's hearts,
  or more carnal than other men's hearts,
  or more selfish and worldly than other men's hearts,
  or more deceitful and hypocritical than other men's hearts,
  or more cold and careless than other men's hearts,
  or more formal and lukewarm than other men's hearts.

Now, if this is your case, certainly God sees it very necessary, for . . .
  the breaking of your hard heart, and
  the humbling of your proud heart, and
  the cleansing of your foul heart, and
  the spiritualizing of your carnal heart, etc.,
that your afflictions should be greater than others; and therefore do not murmur!

Where the disease is strong, the remedy must be strong—or else the cure will never be wrought!
God is a wise physician, and He would never give strong medicine—if a weaker one could effect the cure!

The more rusty the NAIL is, the oftener we put it into the fire to purify it; and
the more crooked it is, the more blows and the harder blows we give to straighten it.

You have been long a-gathering rust! Therefore, if God deal thus with you, you have no cause to complain.

"For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6

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He will carry the lambs in His bosom!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"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 people at once melts His heart. The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the little ones of His flock—draw forth His compassion. It is His office as a faithful High Priest, to consider the weak. Besides, He purchased them with blood, they are His property—He must and will care for that which cost Him so dear!

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

But how may we understand the expression, "He will carry them"?

Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much trial. Providence deals tenderly with them.

Often they are "carried" by being filled with an unusual degree of love—so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep—they have great sweetness in what they do know.

Frequently He "carries" them by giving them a very simple faith—which takes the promise just as it stands, and believingly runs with every trouble straight to Jesus. The simplicity of their faith gives them an unusual degree of confidence, which carries them above the world.

"He will carry the lambs in His bosom."

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

  2. Here is tender nearness—so near are they, that they could not possibly be nearer.

  3. Here is hallowed familiarity—there are precious love-passages between Christ and His weak ones.

  4. Here is perfect safety—in His bosom, who can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first.

  5. Here is perfect rest and sweetest comfort. Surely we are not sufficiently sensible of the infinite tenderness of Jesus!

"My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:27-28

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There is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age!" Matthew 28:20

It is well that there is One who is ever the same, and who is ever with us. It is well that there is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life. O my soul, do not set your affections upon rusting, moth-eaten, decaying treasures—but set your heart upon Him who abides forever faithful to you. Do not build your house upon the moving quicksands of a deceitful world—but found your hopes upon this rock, which, amid descending rain and roaring floods, shall stand immovably secure!

My soul, I charge you—lay up your treasure in the only secure cabinet; store your jewels where you can never lose them. Put your all in Christ; set . . .
  all your affections on His person,
  all your hope in His merit,
  all your trust in His efficacious blood,
  all your joy in His presence,
and so you may laugh at loss and defy difficulties.

Remember that all the flowers in the world's garden wither and die—and the day is coming when nothing will be left but the black, cold earth. Death's black extinguisher must soon put out your candle. Oh! how sweet to have sunlight—when the candle is gone! The dark flood must soon roll between you and all you have!

So wed your heart to Him who will never leave you. Trust yourself with Him who will go with you through the black and surging current of death's stream, and who will land you safely on the celestial shore, and make you sit with Him in heavenly places forever!

Go, sorrowing son of affliction—tell your secret troubles to the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Trust all your concerns with Him . . .
  who never can be taken from you,
  who will never leave you, and
  who will never let you leave Him, even "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever."

"I am with you always," is enough for my soul to live upon—though all others forsake me!

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Why did Christ die at Calvary?

(Don Fortner)

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Hebrews 2:9-10

The most wondrous of all God's works is the work of redemption. When we attempt to contemplate what that work involved, we are lost in astonishment. When we think of the unutterable depths of shame and sorrow into which the Lord of glory entered to save us, we are awed and staggered.

As we trace the path of our Savior from the throne of life to the tomb of death; and behold Him who was rich, for our sakes, becoming poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich—we cannot fathom the depths of the wonders before us.

We know that every step in the path of our Redeemer's humiliation was ordained in the eternal purpose of God. Yet, it was a path of . . .
  immeasurable sorrow,
  unutterable anguish,
  ceaseless ignominy,
  bitter hatred, and
  relentless persecution.
It was a path that brought the Beloved Son of God, the Darling of Heaven, to suffer the painful, shameful death of the cross.

Who could have imagined such things as these?

Standing at the foot of the cross, I behold the Holy One . . .
  nailed to the cursed tree,
  covered with His own blood and the spit of an enraged mob,
  made to be sin,
  forsaken and cursed of God His Father.

Knowing that this is the work of God's own hand, I am lost in astonishment!
I am filled with reverence and awe (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).

Awed as I am with reverence for my crucified Lord, still there is a question that I cannot suppress, a question that reason and sound judgment cannot fail to ask. The question is, WHY? Why did the Son of God suffer such a death? Why did God so torment His beloved Son and kill Him in such a horribly ignominious way?

Was it to save my soul? I know that He did so that I might live. He suffered, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring me to God. But was there no other way for the omnipotent God to save me?

Was all this done to demonstrate the greatness of God's love to me? I know it was (Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). But God could have revealed His love to me in some other way. Why did He slay His Son? What necessity was there for the Son of God to suffer and die upon the cursed tree?

Only one answer can be found to that question. The JUSTICE of God had to be satisfied. There was no necessity for God to save anyone. Salvation is altogether the free gift of His grace. But, having determined to save His elect from the ruins of fallen humanity, the only way God could save His people and forgive their sins was by the death of Christ. "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). The justice of God had to be satisfied, in order for God to save His people. And the only thing that could ever satisfy the justice of God is the blood of Christ!

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A self-loather

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

"They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices." Ezekiel 6:9

True repentance is a daily turning of the soul further and further from sin—and a daily turning of the soul nearer and nearer to God and holiness.

True repentance includes . . .
  a true sense of sin,
  a deep sorrow for sin,
  a hearty loathing of sin, and
  a holy shame and blushing for sin.

A true repenter strives for . . .
  a clean head, and a clean heart;
  a clean lip, and a clean life.

To repent is for a man to loathe himself, as well as his sin.

Is this easy for man, who is so great a self-lover, and so great a self-exalter, and so great a self-admirer—to become a self-loather? To repent is to cross sinful self, and to walk contrary to sinful self.

True repentance lies in a daily dying unto sin, and in a daily living unto Him who lives forever.

"Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices." Ezekiel 36:31

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All honey would harm us!

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

"Weeping may endure for a night—but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

Our mourning shall last but until morning.

God will turn . . .
  our winter's night, into a summer's day,
  our sighing, into singing,
  our grief, into gladness,
  our mourning, into music,
  our bitter, into sweet,
  our wilderness, into a paradise.

The life of a Christian is filled up with interchanges of . . .
  sickness, and health,
  weakness, and strength,
  want, and wealth,
  disgrace, and honor,
  crosses, and comforts,
  miseries, and mercies,
  joys, and sorrows,
  mirth, and mourning.

All honey would harm us, and all wormwood would undo us; a composition of both is the best way to keep our souls in a healthy constitution. It is best and most for the health of the soul—that the warm south wind of mercy, and the cold north wind of adversity—both blow upon it. And though every wind which blows, shall blow good to the saints; yet certainly their sins die most, and their graces thrive best, when they are under the frigid, drying, nipping north wind of calamity—as well as under the warm, nourishing south wind of mercy and prosperity.

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Head, hand, heart, lip, and life

(Thomas Brooks, "The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness", 1662)

True holiness is diffusive. It extends, diffuses, and spreads itself all over the whole person . . .
  the head and the heart;
  the lip and the life;
  the inside and the outside.

The understanding is nourished on holiness,
the mind is adorned with holiness,
the will is bowed to holiness, and
all the affections are sprinkled, yes, clothed with holiness . . .
  love is holy love,
  grief is holy grief,
  joy is holy joy,
  sorrow is holy sorrow,
  fear is holy fear,
  care is holy care,
  zeal is holy zeal.

Real holiness spreads itself over head, hand, heart, lip, and life.

"May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:23

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That hair's-breadth has sufficed to direct the current of our life!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Now the donkeys belonging to Saul's father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul: Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys." 1 Samuel 9:3 , 20

Saul went out to seek his father's donkeys. He failed in the search, but he found a crown. He met with the Prophet Samuel, who anointed him king over God's people, Israel—and this was far better than finding the obstinate donkeys. Let us consider this amazing incident. Perhaps, though it treats of donkeys, it may yield us some royal thoughts.

Observe how the hand of God's providence causes little things to lead on to great matters.

This man Saul must be placed in the way of the Prophet Samuel. How shall a meeting be brought about? Poor beasts of burden shall be the intermediate means! The donkeys go astray and Saul's father bids him take a servant and go seek them. In the course of their wanderings, the animals might have gone North, South, East or West—for who shall account for the wild will of runaway donkeys? But so it happened, as men say, that they strayed in such a direction that, by-and-by, Saul found himself near to Ramah, where Samuel, the Prophet, was ready to anoint him king.

On how small an incident the greatest results may hinge!

The pivots of history are microscopic!

Hence, it is most important for us to learn that the smallest trifles are as much arranged by the God of Providence, as the most grandiose events. He who counts the stars, has also numbered the hairs of our heads! Our lives and deaths are predestined—but so, also, are our sitting down and our rising up.

Had we but sufficiently powerful perceptive faculties, we would see God's hand as clearly in each stone of our pathway, as in the revolution of the planets.

In watching our own lives, we may plainly see that on many occasions the merest trifle has turned the scale. Whereas there seemed to be but a hair's-breadth between one course of action and another—yet that hair's-breadth has sufficed to direct the current of our life!

Providence may be seen as the finger of God, not merely in those events which shake nations and are duly emblazoned on the pages of history, but also in little incidents of common life—yes, in the motion of a grain of dust, the trembling of a dewdrop, the flight of a swallow, or the leaping of a fish!

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The Almighty has afflicted me!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The Almighty has afflicted me!" Ruth 1:21

It is a sweet thing to be able to trace the hand of God in our afflictions, for nothing can come from that hand towards one of His children, but that which is good and right.

If you will think of those hands of which the Lord says, "I have engraved you upon the palms of My hands"—you may rest assured that nothing can come from those hands but what infinite wisdom directs, and infinite love has ordained!

"For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness." Hebrews 12:10

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His exaltation is our exaltation!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"God exalted Him to His own right hand as Prince and Savior" Acts 5:31

"And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name" Philippians 2:8-9

Jesus, our Lord, once crucified, dead and buried—now sits upon His throne of heavenly glory! The highest place that Heaven affords, is His by undisputed right.

It is sweet to remember that the exaltation of Christ in Heaven is a representative exaltation. He is exalted at the Father's right hand, and though as Jehovah He had eminent glories, in which finite creatures cannot share—yet as the Mediator, the honors which Jesus wears in Heaven are the heritage of all the saints!

It is delightful to reflect how close is Christ's union with His people. We are actually one with Him; we are members of His body; and His exaltation is our exaltation!

He has a crown, and He gives us crowns too. He has a throne—but He is not content with having a throne to Himself. On His right hand there must be His queen, arrayed in "gold of Ophir." He cannot be glorified without His bride. "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne!" Revelation 3:21

Look up, believer, to Jesus—let the eye of your faith behold Him with many crowns upon His head; and remember that you will one day be like Him, when you shall see Him as He is! You shall not be so great as He is—for you shall not be divine. But still you shall, in a measure—share the same honors, and enjoy the same happiness and the same dignity which He possesses!

Christian! Be content to live unknown for a little while, and to walk your weary way through the fields of poverty, or up the hills of affliction; for by-and-by you shall reign with Christ, for He has "made us kings and priests unto God, and we shall reign forever and ever!"

Oh! wonderful thought for the children of God! We have Christ for our glorious representative in Heaven's courts now—and soon He will come and receive us to Himself, to be with Him there, to behold His glory, and to share His joy!

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A comfort to the believer, and a terror to the unbeliever!

(R.C. Sproul)

"His eyes are on the ways of men; He sees their every step!" Job 34:21

"The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good." Proverbs 15:3

"Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" Jeremiah 23:24

The doctrine of God's omnipresence appropriately fills us with awe.

In addition, the doctrine also proves to be comforting. We can always be certain of God's undivided attention. We don't ever need to stand in line or make an appointment to be with God. When we are in God's presence, He is not preoccupied with events on the other side of the world.

The doctrine is, of course, not at all comforting to the unbeliever. There is no place to hide from God! There is no corner of the universe where God is not. The wicked in Hell are not separated from God—only from His benevolence. His wrath is with them constantly.

For the unbeliever, the doctrine highlights the fact that people cannot hide from God. Their sins are done in God's presence. Like Adam, they seek to hide. However, there is no corner of the universe that God's gaze, either in love or wrath, fails to reach.

God's omnipresence is a comfort to the believer, and a terror to the unbeliever!

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:13

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These scars are the memorials of the fight!

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

Why should our exalted Lord appear in His wounds, in glory?

The wounds of Jesus are His glories, His jewels, His sacred ornaments. To the eye of the believer, Jesus is lovely because He is "white and ruddy"—white with innocence, and ruddy with His own blood. We see Him as the Lily of matchless purity—and as the Rose crimsoned with His own gore. Christ is lovely in His life and His teaching—but oh! there never was such a matchless Christ as He who hung upon the cross! There we behold . . .
  all His beauties in perfections,
  all His attributes developed,
  all His love drawn out,
  all His character expressed!

Beloved, the wounds of Jesus are far more lovely in our eyes than all the splendor and pomp of kings! The thorny crown is more attractive than any imperial diadem. Jesus wears the appearance of a slain Lamb as His court dress in which He wooed our souls, and redeemed them by His complete atonement.

Nor are these only the ornaments of Christ—they are the trophies of His love and of His victory! He has redeemed for Himself a great multitude whom no man can number—and these scars are the memorials of the fight!

Ah! if Christ delights to retain the thought of His sufferings for His people—then how precious should His wounds be to us!

    "Behold how every wound of His,
     A precious balm distills,
     Which heals the scars that sin had made,
     And cures all mortal ills!

     Those wounds are mouths that preach His grace,
     The ensigns of His love;
     The seals of our expected bliss,
     In paradise above!"

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The only weapon to fight sin with!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." Romans 8:37

We go to Christ for forgiveness, and then too often look to our own strength to fight our sins. Paul thus rebukes us, "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" Galatians 3:3

Take your sins to Christ's cross, for the old man can only be crucified there. The only weapon to fight sin with, is the spear which pierced the side of Jesus!

To give an illustration: you want to overcome an angry temper—how do you go to work? It is very possible you have never tried the right way of going to Jesus with it. How did I get salvation? I came to Jesus just as I was, and I trusted Him to save me. I must kill my angry temper in the same way! I must go to the cross with it, and say to Jesus, "Lord, I trust You to deliver me from it." This is the only way to give it a death-blow.

Are you covetous? Do you feel the world entangle you? You may struggle against this evil as long as you please—but you will never be delivered from it in any way but by the blood of Jesus. Take it to Christ. Tell Him: "Lord, Your name is Jesus, for You save Your people from their sins. Lord, this is one of my sins—save me from it!"

Ordinances are nothing, without Christ as a means of mortification. Your prayers, and your repentances, and your tears—the whole of them put together, are worth nothing apart from Him. "None but Jesus can do helpless sinners good;" or helpless saints either. You must be conquerors through Him who has loved you, if conquerors at all.

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It profits us nothing!

(Arthur Pink)

"Though I understand all mysteries and all knowledge . . . and have not love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2

We must distinguish between things that differ, namely, a knowledge of spiritual things—and actual spiritual knowledge.

A knowledge of spiritual things can be acquired by the unregenerate.
Spiritual knowledge is peculiar to the children of God.

A knowledge of spiritual things is merely intellectual and theoretical.
Spiritual knowledge is vital and effectual.

One may take up "Bible study" in the same way as another would the study of philosophy or science. He may pursue it diligently and enthusiastically. He may obtain a familiarity of the letter of Scripture and a proficiency in understanding its terms, far in advance of the hard-working Christian who has less leisure and less natural ability. Yet what is such knowledge worth, if it . . .
  does not affect the heart,
  fails to transform the character and
  make the daily walk pleasing to God!

Unless our "Bible study" is conforming us, both inwardly and outwardly, to the image of Christ—it profits us nothing!

Don Fortner: "Adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." Titus 2:10. Let us take great care to conform our lives to our doctrine. Doctrine and duty cannot be separated. Every truth discovered in the Word of God ought to be applied to our lives. If our character and conduct does not reflect the grace and glory of God revealed in the gospel, our doctrine is utterly meaningless!

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He conquers the stoutest hearts, and cleanses the foulest spiritual leper!

(C.D. Cole)

The Holy Spirit is the administrator of God's grace. Without the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit in conversion, no sinner would ever become a beneficiary of saving grace. The blessed Spirit . . .
  quickens all whom the Father chose in eternity past,
  leads to Jesus, all the sheep for whom the dear Shepherd laid down His life,
  conquers the stoutest hearts, and cleanses the foulest spiritual leper
  opens sin-blinded eyes, and unstops sin-closed ears!

Redemption was effectually accomplished for God's elect by Christ at Calvary; and it is effectually applied to all the redeemed by the Holy Spirit in effectual calling.

The Spirit applies Christ's work of redemption—in calling, convicting, regenerating, sanctifying, and preserving all for whom Christ died.

Every one whom God chose in Christ, is effectually drawn by the Spirit to Christ.

Everyone predestined to be saved, is called by the Spirit in time, justified in time, and will be glorified in eternity—when time will be no more!
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A holy man!

(J.C. Ryle)

Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of . . .
  agreeing with God's judgment,
  hating what He hates,
  loving what He loves, and
  measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word.

A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live a life of faith in Him and draw from Him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labor to have the mind that was in Him and to be conformed to His image!

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A beloved child, watched over, cared for, supplied, and defended by your Lord!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The Lord takes pleasure in His people!" Psalm 149:4

How comprehensive is the love of Jesus! There is no part of His people's interests which He does not consider. There is nothing which concerns their welfare which is not important to Him. Not merely does He think of you, believer, as an immortal being—but as a mortal being too. Do not deny it or doubt it: "The very hairs of your head are all numbered!" It would be a sad thing for us if His mantle of love did not cover all our concerns—for what harm might be wrought to us if any of our matters did not come under our gracious Lord's care!

Believer, rest assured that the heart of Jesus cares about your smaller affairs. The breadth of His tender love is such that you may resort to Him in all matters; for as a father pities his children—so does He pity you, His redeemed child. The smallest interests of all His saints—are all borne upon the broad bosom of the Son of God. Oh, what a heart is His, that does not merely comprehend the salvation of His people—but comprehends also, all their diverse and innumerable concerns!

Do you think, O Christian, that you can measure the love of Christ? Think of what His love has brought you—justification, adoption, sanctification, eternal life! The riches of His goodness are unsearchable; you shall never be able to tally them—or even conceive them. Oh, the breadth of the love of Christ!

Shall such a love as this have half our hearts? Shall it have a cold love in return? Shall Jesus' marvelous loving-kindness and tender care, meet with but faint response and tardy acknowledgment?

O my soul, you are no desolate wanderer—but a beloved child, watched over, cared for, supplied, and defended by your Lord!

"May you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:18-19

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All the 'littles' of our little world!

(Charles Spurgeon)

Divine omniscience affords no comfort to the ungodly mind, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!" Hebrews 4:13

But to the child of God it overflows with consolation, "How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God." Psalm 139:17

God is always thinking upon us; He never turns aside His mind from us, and has us always before His eyes! This is precisely as we would have it—for it would be dreadful to exist for a moment, beyond the observation of our heavenly Father! His thoughts are always filial, tender, loving, wise—and they bring to us countless benefits. Hence it is a choice delight for us to remember them.

The Lord has always thought upon His people—hence their election and the covenant of grace by which their salvation is secured.

He always will think upon them—hence their continual preservation by which they shall be brought safely to their heavenly rest.

In all our wanderings, the watchful glance of the Eternal Watcher is evermore fixed upon us! We never roam beyond the Shepherd's eye! In our sorrows He observes us incessantly, and not a pang escapes Him! In our toils He marks all our weariness, and writes in His book all the struggles of His faithful ones. These thoughts of the Lord encompass us in all our paths, and penetrate the innermost region of our being. Not a nerve or tissue, valve or vessel, of our bodily organization is uncared for. All the 'littles' of our little world, are thought upon by the great God!

Dear reader, is not this precious to you? The Lord lives and thinks upon you!

If the Lord thinks upon you, then all is well, and you may rejoice evermore!

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The more burdens we put on His shoulders

(Charles Spurgeon)

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble!" Psalm 46:1

Scripture promises are not meant to be looked at only—but to be appropriated. Even our Lord Jesus is given to us for our present use. Believer, you do not make use of Christ as you ought to do.

When you are in trouble, why do you not tell Him all your grief? Has He not a sympathizing heart, and can He not comfort and relieve you? But no, you are going about to all your friends—except your best Friend; and telling your tale everywhere, except into the bosom of your Lord.

Are you burdened with this day's sins? Here is a fountain filled with blood—use it, saint, use it!

Has a sense of guilt returned upon you? The pardoning grace of Jesus may be used again and again. Come to Him at once for cleansing!

Do you deplore your spiritual weakness? He is your strength—why not lean upon Him?

Do you feel yourself spiritually sick? Use the cable of prayer, and call up the Beloved Physician! He will give the cordial that will revive you.

You are spiritually poor—but then you have "a kinsman, a mighty man of wealth." What! will you not go to Him, and ask Him to give you out of His abundance, when He has given you the promise that you shall be joint-heir with Him; and has made over all that He is and all that He has—to be yours?

There is nothing Christ dislikes more, than for His people to make a show-thing of Him, and not to use Him. He loves to be employed by us. The more burdens we put on His shoulders—the more precious will He be to us!

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

I will be their God—and they shall be My people!
(Charles Spurgeon)

"I will be their God—and they shall be My people!" 2 Corinthians 6:16

What a sweet title, "My people!"
What a cheering revelation, "Their God!"

How much of meaning is couched in those two words, "My people!"

Here is speciality. The whole world is God's—heaven, even the heaven of heavens is the Lord's, and He reigns among the children of men. But of those whom He has chosen, whom He has purchased to Himself—He calls them especially, "My people".

In this word there is the idea of proprietorship. In a special manner the "Lord's portion is His people." All the nations upon earth are His, and the whole world is in His power—yet His people, His chosen people, are more especially His possession, for . . .
  He has done more for them than others;
  He has bought them with His precious blood;
  He has set His great heart upon them;
  He has adopted them into His redeemed family;
  He has loved them with an everlasting love—a love which many waters cannot quench, and which the revolutions of time shall never suffice in the least degree to diminish.

Dear friends, can you, by faith, see yourselves in that number? Can you look up to heaven and say, "My Lord and my God—mine by that sweet relationship which entitles me to call You Father—mine by that hallowed fellowship which I delight to hold with You when You are pleased to manifest Yourself unto me as You do not unto the world?"

Can you read the Book of Inspiration, and find there the evidences of your salvation?
Can you read your title written in His precious blood?
Can you, by humble faith, lay hold of Jesus' garments, and say, "My Christ"?

If you can, then God says of you, and of others like you, "My people!" for, if God is your God, and Christ is your Christ, the Lord has shown special, particular grace to you—then you are the object of His choice, accepted in His beloved Son!

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

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

Why, then, are we so bewitched with vanities?

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Do men make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!" Jeremiah 16:20

One great besetting sin of ancient Israel was idolatry, and we who are the spiritual Israel are vexed with a tendency to the same folly! We no longer bow down to sticks and stones—but Mammon still intrudes his golden calf, and the shrines of pride are not forsaken. SELF in various forms, struggles to subdue the chosen ones under its dominion; and the flesh sets up its altars wherever it can find space for them.

are often the cause of much sin in believers, and the Lord is grieved when He sees us doting upon them above measure. They may live to be as great a curse to us—as Absalom was to David; or they will be taken from us to leave our homes desolate. If Christians desire to grow thorns to stuff their sleepless pillows—let them dote on their children!

It is truly said that "they are not gods," for . . .
  the objects of our foolish devotion are very doubtful blessings,
  the solace which they yield us now is dangerous, and
  the help which they can give us in the hour of trouble is little indeed.

Why, then, are we so bewitched with vanities?

We pity the poor heathen who adore a god of stone—and yet worship a god of gold!

The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case, only that in our case—the crime is more aggravated because we have more light and sin in the face of it.

The heathen bows to a false deity—but he has never known the true God.
We commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God—and turn unto idols.
May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity!

"Dear children, guard yourselves from idols!" 1 John 5:21

"The dearest idol I have known,
 Whatever that idol be;
 Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
 And worship only Thee!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

One grand secret of the strength of the ministry

(J.C. Ryle)

It is of great importance to recall to our minds the real nature of our work as ministers of the Gospel. We should remember constantly the great ideal of what a Christian minister ought to be, sketched out in the sixth chapter of the Acts: "We will give ourselves to the Word of God and to prayer."

The preaching and expounding of the Word of God, with nothing added, and with nothing taken away—is beyond all doubt our principal business. We must take heed that we give due honor to the Word of God in our public ministrations. A thousand things continually call us away from this—committees, schools, visiting, and the like. But we must remember . . .
  that we are ministers of the Word of God,

  that our province is the Word of God, and
  that we must be very careful not to leave the Word of God to serve tables.

But after that, we must never forget private prayer. This is one grand secret of the strength of the ministry. It is here that the roots of the ministry, practically speaking, are to be found. The ministry of the man who has gifts, however great, but who does not give the prayer-closet the principal place—must sooner or later become tedious and ineffective.

I will remark, in the next place, that it is of immense importance that we should take heed to our own lives. "Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things" 1 Timothy 4:16.

I have been lately studying the lives and private habits of those men whom God raised up to be the revivers of the Church in the last century. I have been much struck with their self-denial, and entire devotedness to the work of the ministry. They were men who lived very plainly and simply, and did not seem to care much for anything but their pastoral work. They were not men who sought the entertainments of the great and the rich. We would do well to consider whether we are living as near to God as they did.

I will remark, in the next place, that we all need to be more careful in the employment of our time. There is a danger of trying to do too much. Some clergymen have so many irons in the fire, that it is impossible to keep them all hot. A few things well done, are far better than twenty poorly done. The man whose work will stand the longest, is the man who, whatever people may say, however lazy they may call him—determines that he will not do more than he can do well.

And always remember: What costs little, is worth little.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Those spears that pierced Christ!

(Thomas Brooks)

1. To hate sin is not merely to refrain from sin—for so Balaam did, even then when he was tempted to it. (Numbers 22).

2. To hate sin is not merely to confess sin—for so Pharaoh and Judas did. (Exodus 10:16, Matthew 27:4).

3. To hate sin is not merely to be afraid to sin—for this may be where the hatred of sin is not.

4. To hate sin is not merely to mourn because of the dreadful effects and fruits that sin may produce—for so Ahab did, and the Ninevites did.

He who fears sin for Hell—fears not to sin, but to burn!

He hates sin indeed—who hates sin as Hell itself!

A holy man knows that all sin strikes at . . .
  the holiness of God,
  the glory of God,
  the nature of God,
  the being of God,
  and the law of God.

Therefore his heart rises against all sin. He looks upon every sin as . . .
  the Scribes and Pharisees who accused Christ;
  that Judas who betrayed Christ;
  that Pilate who condemned Christ;
  those soldiers who scourged Christ;
  those spears that pierced Christ!

    ~ ~ ~ ~

Like a swine with a golden jewel in its snout!

(George Lawson, "A Practical Exposition of the Book of Proverbs" 1821)

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Why is not beauty included in the character of the virtuous woman? Is not beauty a bright ornament to her virtue? But there is no mention made of it in this description, because it is a lowly quality in comparison of those which are here enumerated. It is but a flower that fades in a day; and the love produced by it is but a transient passion.

When beauty is not sweetened by godly virtue, the woman who possesses it is but like a swine with a golden jewel in its snout, as Solomon tells us. At the best, beauty cannot secure that love which it raises, for when it becomes familiar to the lover, it palls upon his sight; and sometimes tempts him to curse that enchanting influence which blinded his eyes to more solid virtues.

But a woman who fears the Lord, whether she has beauty or not—shall be praised. For true piety is the beauty of the soul, and excels that which lies in complexion and features, as much as Heaven is higher than the earth, or eternity is longer than time.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the most essential part of the virtuous woman's character. It is this which sanctifies every other part of it, and makes her all glorious within. The pleasant effects of the fear of the Lord spread themselves into every part of her behavior, and cannot but excite the admiration of all beholders.

Beauty is indeed a lovely trait when it is joined with piety and humility—but without them it is a snare and a trap! In choosing a wife, fools will follow their imagination—and the wise will act according to reason and the Word of God.

    ~ ~ ~ ~

With the rope around my neck!

(Joseph Alleine, "A Soliloquy of an Unregenerate Sinner")

What misery have my sins brought upon me! Oh, what miserable state I am in! Sold under sin, cast out of God's favor, accursed from the Lord, cursed in my body, cursed in my soul, cursed in all that I have. My sins are unpardoned, and my soul is within a step of death!

Alas! What shall I do?

Where shall I go?

Which way shall I look?

God is frowning on me from above,
Hell is gaping for me beneath,
conscience is smiting me within,
temptations and dangers are surrounding me without.

Oh, where shall I fly?

What place can hide me from Omniscience?

What power can secure me from Omnipotence?

Alas, what shall I do?

Shall I go on in my sinful ways? Why then, certain damnation will be my end!

Shall I be so besotted and mad as to go and sell my soul to the flames for a little ale or a little ease; for a little pleasure or gain or comfort to my flesh?

Shall I linger any longer in this wretched state? No, If I tarry here I shall be miserable forever!

What then, is there no help?

Is there no hope?

Is there any remedy for such woeful misery?

Is there any mercy after such provoking iniquity?

Lord Jesus, I come to You with the rope around my neck! I am worthy to die and to be damned. Take me for Yourself forever. I give myself to You, I come to You, as the only way to the Father, as the only Mediator. I have destroyed myself—but in You is my help. Save, Lord—or else I perish!

Too long have I served the world; too long have I hearkened to Satan; but now I renounce them all, and will be ruled by Your dictates and directions, and guided by Your counsel.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Keep yourselves out of the filthy puddle of this world!

(William Dyer, "The Strait Way to Heaven")

"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God—rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time." Hebrews 11:24-25

Choose suffering—before sinning.

Oh! beloved, there is more evil in the least sin against Christ—than in the greatest suffering for Christ!

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Corinthians 4:17

   1. Our sufferings for Christ are but light.

   2. Our sufferings for Christ are short—but for a moment.

   3. Christ stands by us in our sufferings.

   4. Our sufferings are ordered by the Father.

   5. Our sufferings shall not hurt our souls.

   6. God gives us the best of comforts—in the worst of times.
We have most consolation from God—when we have most tribulation from men!
As our sufferings abound—so our consolations abound.
When the burden is heaviest upon the back—then the peace of conscience is sweetest within.

Therefore, my dear brethren, keep yourselves out of the filthy puddle of this world, and from the evil of this world! And if you must sin or suffer—choose suffering before sinning!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"The only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth!" John 1:14

(Charles Spurgeon)

Believer, you can bear your testimony that Christ is the only begotten of the Father.
You can say, "He is truly divine. He has done that for me, which none but a God could do!
He has . . .
  subdued my stubborn will,
  melted a heart of adamant,
  opened gates of brass,
  and snapped bars of iron!
He has turned my mourning into laughter, and my desolation into joy!
He has made my heart rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Let others think as they will of Him—to me He must be the only begotten of the Father!

And He is full of grace. Ah! had He not been, then I would never have been saved! He drew me when I struggled to escape from His grace; and when at last I came all trembling like a condemned culprit to His mercy-seat He said, "Your sins which are many, are all forgiven!"

And He is full of truth. True have His promises been, not one has failed.

I bear witness that . . .
  never any servant had such a master as I have;
  never any brother had such a kinsman as He has been to me;
  never any spouse had such a husband as Christ has been to my soul;
  never any sinner had a better Savior;
  never any mourner had a better comforter than Christ has been to my heart.

I desire none beside Him!
In life, He is my true life.
In death, He shall be the death of death.
In poverty, Christ is my true riches.
In darkness, He is my sun.
He is my manna in this poor wilderness world.
He shall be heavenly manna when I come to the heavenly Canaan.

Jesus is to me . . .
  all grace, and no wrath;
  all truth, and no falsehood.
And of grace and truth He is full, infinitely full!

"The only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth!" John 1:14