Grace Gems for AUGUST, 2019

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What's on your Bucket List?

(Curtis Knapp)

A few years ago, a movie came out entitled, "The Bucket List." Since then, this has become a household term. The phrase refers to the list of things a person would like to do or experience or see before he dies. Though I have not seen the movie, I have heard several people use the expression. For most it seems, the bucket list consists of things such as go to the Grand Canyon; go to Niagara Falls; go to Hawaii; go to Alaska; go to Europe; go sky-diving; go bungee jumping; go to New England in the fall; etc. Such is the mind-set of worldly people who have minimal hopes for a glorious eternal life.

The Christian looks at life much differently. As he ponders his life, he sees many tokens of God's goodness to him and has a fond remembrance of much of his past. But he does not consider that his good times are coming to an end. He does not dread death and privately fear that it will bring an end to all pleasure. On the contrary, he expects death to bring him into the presence of his beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Death will bring about the fulfillment of his long cherished dreams.
Death will bring an end to his transgressions.
Death will bring perfect holiness.
Death will mean Paradise.

Consequently, the Christian feels no need to cram his retirement years with various trips and experiences before it's too late. With respect to the beauty of the earth, the Christian knows he will have all eternity to explore a new earth that will far exceed the current one in beauty and majesty. A Christian's bucket list does not consist of worldly pleasures, but on Scriptural imperatives such as:

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God . . . Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:1-2

"So we make it our goal to please Him!" 2 Corinthians 5:9

"One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2

What's on your Bucket List?

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Tis but a taste!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"A pledge of our inheritance." Ephesians 1:14

Oh! what enlightenment, what joys, what consolation, what delight of heart—is experienced by that man who has learned to feed on Jesus, and on Jesus alone.

Yet the realization which we have of Christ's preciousness is, in this life, imperfect at the best. As an old writer says, "Tis but a taste!" We have but tasted "that the Lord is gracious," but we do not yet know how good and gracious He is. We know somewhat of His sweetness, and this makes us long for more. We have enjoyed the first fruits—and they have set us hungering and thirsting for the fullness of the heavenly vintage. Here on earth, we are like Israel in the wilderness, who had but one cluster from Eshcol—there we shall be in the vineyard!

We are but beginners now in spiritual education; for although we have learned the first letters of the alphabet, we cannot read words yet, much less can we put sentences together. As one says, "He who has been in heaven but five minutes—knows more than all the theologians on earth combined!"

We have many ungratified spiritual desires at present—but soon every wish shall be satisfied; and all our powers shall find the sweetest employment in that eternal world of joy.

O Christian, within a very little time you shall be rid of all your trials and your troubles.
Your eyes which are now suffused with tears, shall weep no longer.
You shall gaze in ineffable rapture upon the splendor of Him who sits on His glorious throne.
Nay, more—you shall sit with Him upon His throne!

The triumph of His glory shall be shared by you! His crown, His joy, His paradise—these shall be yours!
You shall be co-heir with Him who is the heir of all things!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—reserved in Heaven for you!" 1 Peter 1:3-4

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Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"I am married unto you." Jeremiah 3:14

Christ Jesus is joined unto His people in marriage-union. In love He espoused His Church as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of sin. Full of burning affection He toiled, like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid; and now, having sought her by His Spirit, and brought her to know and love Him—He awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb!

Not yet, has the glorious Bridegroom presented His betrothed—perfected and complete, before the Majesty of Heaven. Not yet, has she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as His wife and queen. She is as yet—a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now . . .
 the bride of Jesus,
 His beloved spouse,
 dear to His heart,
 precious in His sight,
 written on His hands,
 and united with His person!

On earth He exercises towards her, all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her spiritual needs, pays all her debts, allows her to assume His name and to share in all His wealth. Nor will He ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce He will never mention, for "He hates divorce."

Death must sever the marital tie between the most loving mortals—but it cannot divide the union of this immortal marriage. In Heaven they do not marry, but are as the angels of God; yet there is this one marvelous exception to the rule, for in Heaven Christ and His Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. This union of Jesus with His beloved spouse, as it is more lasting—so is it more near and dear than earthly wedlock. Let the love of an earthly husband be ever so pure and fervent—it is but a faint picture of the flame which burns in the heart of Jesus!

"Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!" Revelation 19:9

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Lest Madam Bubble bewitch them with her vile suggestions!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"She grabbed him by his garment and said, 'Sleep with me!'
But leaving his garment in her hand, he escaped and ran from the house." Genesis 39:12

In contending with certain sins, there remains no mode of victory, but by flight.

He who would be safe from acts of evil—must hasten away from occasions of it.

A covenant must be made with our eyes—not even to look upon the cause of temptation; for such sins only need a spark to begin with—and a blaze follows in an instant!

Who would wantonly enter the leper's hut—and sleep amid its horrible corruption? He alone who desires to be leprous himself—would thus court contagion.

If the mariner knew how to avoid a storm, he would do anything rather than run the risk of weathering it.

Cautious navigators have no desire to try how near the quicksand they can sail, or how often they may touch a rock without springing a leak; their aim is to keep as nearly as possible in the midst of a safe channel.

Today I may be exposed to great peril—let me have wisdom to keep out of it and avoid it. The wings of a dove may be of more use to me—than the jaws of a lion. I may be an apparent loser by declining evil company—but I had better leave my cloak, than lose my character!

It is not needful that I should be rich—but it is imperative upon me to be pure. No ties of friendship, no chains of beauty, no flashings of talent, no shafts of ridicule—must turn me from the wise resolve to flee from sin.

I am to resist the devil—and he will flee from me.
But the lusts of the flesh, I must flee—or they will surely overcome me!

O God of holiness, preserve your Josephs, lest Madam Bubble bewitch them with her vile suggestions.

May the horrible trinity of the world, the flesh, and the devil—never overcome us!

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Like grapes in the wine-press!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"He has given us His exceeding great and precious promises!" 2 Peter 1:4

If you would experimentally know the preciousness of the promises, and enjoy them in your own heart, you must meditate much upon them. There are promises which are like grapes in the wine-press; if you will tread them—the juice will flow. While you are musing upon them, the blessing which you are seeking will insensibly come to you. Many a Christian who has thirsted for the promise—has found the favor which it ensured gently distilling into his soul, even while he has been considering the divine record; and he has rejoiced that ever he was led to lay the promise near his heart.

But besides meditating upon the promises, seek in your soul to receive them as being the very words of God. Speak to your soul thus, "If I were dealing with a man's promise, I would carefully consider the ability and the character of the man who had covenanted with me. So with the promise of God; my eye must not be so much fixed upon the greatness of the promise—that may stagger me; as upon the greatness of the Promiser—that will cheer me.

My soul, it is God, even your God, God who cannot lie—who speaks to you! This Word of His which you are now considering, is as true as His own existence!

He is an unchangeable God. He has not altered the thing which has gone out of His mouth, nor called back one single consolatory sentence.

Nor does He lack any power; it is the God who made the heavens and the earth—who has spoken thus.

Nor can He fail in wisdom as to the time and way in which He will bestow the favors, for He knows when it is best to give and when better to withhold.

Therefore, seeing that it is the Word of a God so true, so immutable, so powerful, so wise—I will and must believe the promise."

If we thus meditate upon the promises, and consider the Promiser, we shall experience their sweetness, and obtain their fulfillment.

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Half-hearted Christianity!

(Horatius Bonar)

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money!" Matthew 6:24

If you are a Christian, then be a consistent Christian!
Be a Christian every hour, in every place. Beware . . .
  of half-hearted discipleship,
  of compromise with evil,
  of conformity to the world,
  of trying to serve two masters,
  of attempting to walk in both the narrow and the broad ways.
It is impossible!

Half-hearted Christianity will only end in misery!

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

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Nevertheless, I am continually with You!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.
 Nevertheless, I am continually with You!" Psalm 73:22-23

"Nevertheless," as if, notwithstanding all the foolishness and ignorance which David had just been confessing to God, not one atom the less was it true and certain that David was saved and accepted, and that the blessing of being constantly in God's presence was undoubtedly his. Fully conscious of his own lost estate, and of the deceitfulness and vileness of his nature—yet, by a glorious outburst of faith, he sings, "Nevertheless, I am continually with You."

Believer, you are forced to enter into the Psalmist's confession of sinfulness—in the same way endeavor to say, "Nevertheless, since I belong to Christ, I am continually with God!"

I am continually upon His mind—He is always thinking of me for my good.

I am continually before His eye—the eye of the Lord never sleeps, but is perpetually watching over my welfare.

I am continually in His hand—so that none shall be able to pluck me thence.

I am continually on His heart—worn there as a memorial, even as the high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart forever.

"You always think of me, O God.
 Your love and affections continually yearn towards me.
 You are always making providence work for my good.
 You have set me as a signet upon your arm.
 Your love is strong as death, many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it.
 Surprising grace! Though in myself abhorred, You see me in Christ and washed in His blood, and thus I stand accepted in Your presence. I am thus continually in Your favor, continually with You!"

Here is comfort for the tried and afflicted soul: "Nevertheless!"

O say it in your heart, and take the peace it gives, "Nevertheless, I am continually with You!"

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Surely it is better to go to Heaven with the few—than to Hell with the many!

(J.C. Ryle)

We have no reason to be discouraged and cast down, if the religion we profess is not popular and few agree with us.

We must remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Repentance, and commitment to Christ, and holiness of life have never been fashionable.

The true flock of Christ has always been small.

Surely it is better to go to Heaven with the few—than to Hell with the many!

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Some benefits of sickness and affliction

(J.C. Ryle)

Sickness helps . . .
  to remind men of death,
  to make men think seriously of God, and their souls, and the world to come,
  to soften men's hearts, and teach them wisdom,
  to abase and humble us,
  to try men's religion, of what sort it is.

The storms of winter often bring out the defects in a man's dwelling. In the same way, sickness often exposes the gracelessness of a man's soul. Surely anything that makes us find out the real character of our faith, is a good thing.

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

There is no commentary that opens up the Bible, so much as sickness and sorrow!

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

By affliction, God . . .
  shows us our emptiness and weakness,
  draws us to the throne of grace,
  purifies our affections,
  weans us from the world,
  and makes us long for Heaven!

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No time is so well spent!

(J.C. Ryle)

Prayer is . . .
  the mightiest weapon that God has placed in our hands,
  the best weapon to use in every difficulty,
  the surest remedy in every trouble,
  the key that unlocks the treasury of promises,
  the hand that draws forth grace and help in time of need,
  the silver trumpet that God commands us to sound in all our necessity,
  the cry He has promised always to listen to, just as a loving mother listens attentively to the cry of her child.

Be sure that no time is so well spent, as that which a man spends on his knees.

What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others?
I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits in private prayer.
I believe that those who are not eminently holy, pray little—and those who are eminently holy, pray much.

What is the cause of most backslidings?
I believe, as a general rule, one of the chief causes is neglect of private prayer.
People are backsliders on their knees, long before they backslide openly in the eyes of the world.

Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor.
Jesus can understand you!
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

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How astonishing is all of this!

(Jonathan Edwards)

How astonishing it is, that One who is forever blessed and is infinitely and essentially happy—should endure the greatest sufferings that ever were endured!

How astonishing it is, that One who is the supreme Lord and Judge of the world—should be arraigned and stand at the judgment seat of mortal worms, and then be condemned!

How astonishing it is, that One who is the living God and the fountain of all life—should be put to death!

How astonishing it is, that One who created the world and gives life to all His creatures—should be put to death by His own creatures!

How astonishing it is, that One of infinite majesty and glory, and so the object of the love, praises and adoration of angels—should be mocked and spit upon by the vilest of men!

How astonishing it is, that One who is infinitely good and who is love itself—should suffer the greatest cruelty!

How astonishing it is, that One who is infinitely beloved by the Father—should be put to inexpressible anguish under His own Father's wrath!

How astonishing it is, that One who is the King of Heaven, who has Heaven for His throne and earth for His footstools—should be buried in the dungeon of the grave!

How astonishing is all of this!

And yet this is the way that God's wisdom has fixed upon as the way of sinners' salvation, as neither unsuitable nor dishonorable to Christ.

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

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They are loving an imaginary God!

(Jonathan Edwards)

Some people have no sense of the vileness of their sin, and no sense of God's infinite and holy opposition to it. They think that God has no higher standards than they have. So they get on well with Him and feel a sort of love for Him—but they are loving an imaginary God, not the real God!

There are others whose self-love produces a sort of love for God simply because of the material blessings they have received from His providence. There is nothing commendable in this either.

Self-love can produce a merely natural gratitude to God. This can happen through wrong ideas about God, as if He were all love and mercy, and no avenging justice; or as if God were bound to love a person because of the person's worthiness. On these grounds men may love a God of their own imaginations, when they have no love at all for the true God.

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The cultivation of an insignificant life

(J.H. Jowett)

It is possible to evade a multitude of trials by the cultivation of an insignificant life.

Only One Life!

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life's busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart:
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last!

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in 'that day' my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgment seat.
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last!

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God's holy will to cleave.
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last!

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes and fears;
Each with its days I must fulfill,
living for self, or in His will.
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last!

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say:
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last!

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Your word to keep;
Faithful and true what e'er the strife,
Pleasing You in my daily life.
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last!

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for You, and You alone,
Bringing You pleasure on Your throne.
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last!

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say, "Your will be done!"
And when at last I'll hear the call,
I know I'll say "twas worth it all!"
Only one life, 'twill soon be past,
Only what's done for Christ will last!

        Author unknown 

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
 Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you
 know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

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The worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me!

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

The believer is absolutely sure that an invisible hand is always on the world's helm, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That reassuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters, and sees Jesus treading the billows; and he hears a voice saying, "It is I, do not be afraid!"

Knowing that God is always wise, he is confident that there can be no accidents or mistakes. He knows that nothing can occur, which ought not to arise. He can say, "If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose, than have—if God so wills. The worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me—if God ordains it."

"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God." The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact.

Everything has worked for good as yet. The poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions, have worked the cure. The sharp cuts of the lance, have cleansed out the infected flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results.

Believing . . .
  that God rules all,
  that He governs wisely,
  that He brings good out of evil
—the believer is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. He can in the spirit of true resignation pray, "Send me what you will, my God—so long as it comes from You! A bad portion never came from Your table, to any of Your redeemed children."

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Let worldly minds the world pursue!

(John Newton,
Gadsby's Hymnal #1100)

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things." Colossians 3:1-2

    1.  Let worldly minds the world pursue,
            It has no charms for me;
        Once I admired its trifles too,
            But grace has set me free.

    2.  Its pleasures now no longer please,
            No more content afford;
        Far from my heart be joys like these,
            Now I have seen the Lord.

    3.  As by the light of opening day
            The stars are all concealed;
        So earthly pleasures fade away,
            When Jesus is revealed.

    4.  Creatures no more divide my choice;
            I bid them all depart;
        His name, and love, and gracious voice,
            Have fixed my roving heart.

    5.  Now, Lord, I would be thine alone,
            And wholly live to thee;
        But may I hope that thou wilt own
            A worthless worm like me?

    6.  Yes, though of sinners I'm the worst,
            I cannot doubt thy will;
        For if thou hadst not loved me first,
            I thee had hated still.

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That soul never perished, that felt itself to be vile, and Jesus to be precious!

(Octavius Winslow)

What are YOU to yourself? Worthless? Vile? Empty?

What is JESUS to you? Precious? Lovely? All your salvation? All your desire?

What is SIN to you? The most hateful thing in the world?

What is HOLINESS to you? Most desired? Most longed for?

What is the THRONE OF GRACE to you? The most attractive spot?

What is the CROSS to you? The sweetest resting place in the universe?

What is GOD to you? Your God? Your Father? The spring of all your joys? The fountainhead of all your bliss? The center where your affections meet?

Is it so? Then you are a child of God! Those low views of yourself—that brokenness, that inward mourning, that secret confession; that longing for more spirituality, more grace, more devotedness, more love—does but prove the existence, reality, and growth of God's work within you.

Cheer up, precious soul! That soul never perished, that felt itself to be vile, and Jesus to be precious!

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The Bible cannot quicken, nor sanctify, nor comfort!

(Octavius Winslow)

"Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!" 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Apart from the Spirit, the Bible cannot quicken, nor sanctify, nor comfort. It may be . . .
  read constantly,
  and searched deeply,
  and known accurately,
  and understood partially,
  and quoted appropriately.
Yet, left to its own unassisted power, it comes but in word only, producing no hallowing, no abiding, no saving results.

Unaccompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is inactive and inoperative—a mere dead letter!

All that we spiritually know . . .
  of ourselves,
  of God,
  of Jesus,
  of His Word—
we owe to the supernatural teaching of the Holy Spirit. All the real light, sanctification, strength and comfort we possess on our way to glory—we must ascribe to Him.

SPURGEON: "We might preach until our tongues rotted, until we should exhaust our lungs and die—but never a soul would be converted without the Holy Spirit's power attending the Word.
If the Holy Spirit does not renew the hearts of our hearers, we cannot do it.
If the Holy Spirit does not regenerate them, we cannot.
If He does not send the truth home into their souls, we might as well speak into the ear of a corpse!"

"Open my eyes, that I may see wonderful things in Your law!" Psalm 119:18

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What shadows we are—and what shadows we pursue!

(Octavius Winslow)

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

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

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

All is shadow here below!

The world is a shadow—and is passing away!

The creature is a shadow—and the loveliest and the fondest may be the first to die!

Health is a shadow—fading, and in a moment gone!

Wealth is a shadow—today upon the summit of affluence, tomorrow at its base, plunged into poverty and dependence!

Human friendships and creature affections are but shadows—sweet and pleasant while they last; but, with a worm feeding at the root of all created good, the sheltering gourd soon withers, exposing us to the sun's burning heat by day, and to the frost's cold chill by night!

Oh, yes! "Passing Away!" is indelibly inscribed upon everything here below!

Yet how slow we are to realize the solemn lesson: "What shadows we are—and what shadows we pursue!"

Unconverted reader, what is your life—but a vapor that passes away?
And what are your pursuits, but shadows—unreal, unsatisfying, evanescent?

Your rank, your wealth, your honors, your pleasures, are but phantoms which appear but for a little while, and then are lost in the deeper shadow of the grave, and the still deeper and longer shadow of eternity!

Oh, turn from these dreams and hallucinations, and, as a rational, accountable, immortal being, on your way to judgment—fix your mind upon your solemn, endless future! You are going to die! And, oh, when that dread hour comes, so real and appalling—how then will your past trifling life appear?

"As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more." Psalm 103:15-16

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

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

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

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God disciplines us for our good

(John Fawcett)

"We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope." Romans 5:3-4

All the afflictions of God's people are designed, under His gracious management—to test, to make manifest, and to exercise, those graces and virtues which He has implanted in them. Though afflictions in themselves are not joyous but grievous, nevertheless they yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness in those who are exercised thereby.

Afflictions serve to quicken the spirit of devotion in us, and to rouse us from that formality and indifference which frequently attend a long course of ease and prosperity. We are constrained to seek God with sincerity and fervor when His chastening hand is upon us, since we then feel our absolute need of that help and deliverance which He alone can give us.

Afflictions serve most effectually to convince us of the vanity of all that this world can afford, to remind us that this poor world is not our rest, and to stir up desires and hopes for our everlasting home.

Afflictions produce in us a spirit of sympathy towards our companions in tribulation.

Afflictions give occasion for the exercise of patience, meekness, submission, and resignation. Were it not for the wholesome and necessary discipline of affliction, these excellent virtues would lie dormant.

Afflictions serve to convince us more deeply of our own weakness and insufficiency, and to endear the person, the grace, the promises, and the salvation of our Redeemer, more and more to our hearts. Thus we are taught to esteem His very chastisements as precious on account of the benefits we derive from them.

Afflictions are not to punish, but to purify the believing soul.

They are not sent in wrath, but in mercy.

Amidst the distresses and miseries of life—it is a felicity to belong to Christ, without whose appointment, no evil can befall us! He always sends afflictions for our good; and knows by experience, what it is to suffer them. His kind hand will speedily put an end to all the pains we feel, when we have derived from them all the good which He intends to do for us, by them.

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

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Christian, think about this!

(Richard Baxter)

"Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us!" Ephesians 5:2

Is it a small thing in your eyes to be loved by God—to be the son, the spouse, the beloved, the delight of the King of glory?

Christian, think about this! You will be eternally embraced in the arms of the love which was from everlasting, and will extend to everlasting—of the love which brought the Son of God's love . . .
  from Heaven to earth,
  from earth to the cross,
  from the cross to the grave,
  from the grave to glory—
that love which was weary, hungry, tempted, scorned, scourged, buffeted, spat upon, crucified, pierced—which fasted, prayed, healed, wept, sweated, bled, died. That love will eternally embrace you!

"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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More fit to be called a devil than a parent!

(Richard Baxter)
"Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

Parents! Your example and life are a continual and powerful sermon which is always seen by your children!

Parents! Your children have an everlasting inheritance of happiness to attain—and it is that which you must bring them up for. They have an endless misery to escape—and it is that which you must diligently teach them. If you don't teach them to know God, and how to serve Him, and be saved, and to escape the flames of Hell—you teach them nothing, or worse than nothing. It is in your hands to do them the greatest kindness or cruelty in all the world! Help them to know God and to be saved, and you do more for them than if you helped them to be kings or princes.

If you neglect their souls, and bring them up them in ignorance, worldliness, ungodliness, and sin—you betray them to the devil, the enemy of their souls, even as truly as if you sold them to him! You sell them to be slaves to Satan! You betray them to him who will deceive them and abuse them in this life—and torment them in eternity!

If you saw but a burning furnace, much more the flames of Hell—would you not think that man or woman more fit to be called a devil than a parent, who could find in their hearts to cast their child into it? What monsters then of inhumanity are you, who read in Scripture what is the way to Hell, and who they are that God will deliver up to Satan, to be tormented by him—and yet will bring up your children in that very way, and will not take pains to save them from it!

If you love them, show it in those things on which their everlasting welfare depends. Do not say you love them, and yet lead them unto Hell! If you do not love them, yet do not be so unmerciful to them as to damn them! You cannot possibly do more to damn them, than to bring them up in . . .
  sensuality and
There is no other way to Hell. And yet, will you bring them up in such a life—and say that you do not desire to damn them?

But if you train up your children in ungodliness, you may as well say that you intend to have them damned! And is not the devil more excusable, for dealing thus cruelly to your children—than you who are their parents, who are bound by nature to love them, and prevent their misery?

Let me seriously speak to the hearts of those careless and ungodly parents, who neglect the holy education of their children. Oh, do not be so unmerciful to those who you have brought into the world! Oh, pity and help the souls that you have defiled and undone! Have mercy on the souls that must perish in Hell, if they are not saved! Oh help them who have . . .
  so many enemies to assault them;
  so many temptations to pass through;
  so many difficulties to overcome;
  so severe a judgment to undergo!
Help them who are so weak, and so easily deceived and overthrown!
Help them speedily—before sin hardens them, and Satan makes a stronger fortress in their hearts!

Oh be not cruel to their souls!
Do not sell them to Satan, and that for nothing!
Do not betray them by your ungodly negligence, to Hell!
If any of them will perish, let it not be because of you—who are so much bound to do them good.
The undoing of your children's souls is a work much fitter for Satan, than for their parents!

Consider how odious soul-betraying parents are—who betray their children to be the slaves of Satan here, and the firebrands of Hell forever! O do not join with the devil in this unnatural, horrid wickedness!

"Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with the rod, he will not die.
 You shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from Hell." Proverbs 23:13-14

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Alas! how we forget!

(Octavius Winslow)

Alas! how we forget . . .
  that we are but strangers and pilgrims on the earth;
  that we are journeying to our eternal home, and will soon be there!

"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul!" 1 Peter 2:11

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth!" Hebrews 11:13

"One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!"
Philippians 3:13-14

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Eight Stubborn Statements!

(Don Fortner)

Here are eight, stubborn, irrefutable statements. They go right to the heart of true Christianity. You will either accept or reject these eight statements. There is no middle ground; and you will find it impossible to be indifferent regarding them. There is no room for compromise on any of these eight points.

1. Either the Bible is in its entirety the holy, inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God—or it is in its entirety a lie, by which the souls of men are eternally deceived and damned. If the Bible is not the Word of God, throw it away. But if it is, as it claims to be, God's Holy Word, we will be wise to pay attention to it. It claims, as such, a total sway over our lives. It must be our only rule of faith and practice.

2. Either God almighty is absolutely sovereign, in total control of all things, at all times—or there is no God. Again, there is no middle ground between these two poles, between God's absolute, total sovereignty—and absolute, total atheism. To speak of a God who is not totally sovereign is utter nonsense. Atheism is far more sensible than Arminianism. If God is, he is sovereign!

3. Either man is totally depraved, utterly dead in trespasses and in sins—or there is nothing wrong with him, and he needs no Savior. There is no such thing as partial depravity or partial goodness before God. Either we are totally sinful and depraved, or we are totally righteous and good. There is no middle ground.

4. Either God chose to save some of Adam's fallen race to salvation and eternal life in Christ before the world began, as the Bible says he did—or no salvation is possible for any man. Salvation is God's prerogative, not man's. Grace is God's gift, not man's choice. If God does not choose to save and choose whom he will save, no sinner can ever be saved.

5. Either the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is altogether and alone the effectual Redeemer and Savior of his people—or he is a fraud and a failure. Again, there is no middle ground, no room for compromise. Either Christ did what he came to do, or he is a failure. If he is a failure, he is not God, and we have no Savior.

6. Either we are regenerated and called to life and faith in Christ by the irresistible power and omnipotent grace of God the Holy Spirit—or there is no such thing as salvation. The only hope for a dead sinner is free and sovereign grace—grace that asks for nothing and gives everything, grace that waits for nothing and does everything.

7. Either God's people are entirely free from the law, as the Scriptures declare us to be—or we are yet under the bondage of the law and entirely obligated to keep it perfectly. There is no such thing as being partially under the law and partially free from it, not in biblical terms. The only way sinners can satisfy, fulfill, and establish the law is by faith in Christ (Romans 3:31).

8. Either every saved sinner shall persevere to the end, being preserved and kept by God's infallible, immutable grace—or none shall. The perseverance of the saints is demanded by the purpose of God, the purchase of Christ, and the power of the Spirit.

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O what a sweet and pleasant life you would have!

(Thomas Boston)

"Affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble spring from the ground!" Job 5:6

I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things!" Isaiah 45:7

"The LORD brings death, and makes alive; He brings down to the grave, and raises up.
 The LORD sends poverty, and wealth; He humbles, and He exalts." 1 Samuel 2:6-7

Affliction does not rise out of the dust or come to us by chance.

It is the Lord who sends affliction, and we should own and reverence His hand in it.

Let the people of God comfort themselves at all times by the doctrine of divine sovereignty. Amidst whatever befalls them, they should rest quietly and submissively in the bosom of God, considering that whatever comes to pass proceeds from the decree of their gracious Friend and reconciled Father, who knows what is best for them, and will make all things work together for their good.

O what a sweet and pleasant life you would have
under the heaviest pressures of affliction, and what heavenly serenity and tranquility of mind you would enjoy—if you would cheerfully acquiesce in the good will and pleasure of God, and embrace every dispensation, however sharp it may be, because it is determined and appointed for you by the eternal counsel of His w

See here the evil of murmuring and complaining at our lot in the world.
How apt are you to quarrel with God, as if He were in the wrong when His dealings with you, and not according to your own desires and wishes!

You demand a reason, and call God to an account: "Why am I thus? Why so much afflicted and distressed? Why so long afflicted? Why such a severe affliction rather than a lighter one? Why am I so poor, needy and afflicted?"

Thus your hearts rise up against God. But you should remember that this is to defame the counsels of infinite wisdom, as if God had not ordered your affairs wisely enough in His eternal counsel.

Our attitude should be that of Job's, "Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21

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Meditate a little on the mercy of God!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever!" Psalm 52:8

Meditate a little on the mercy of God

It is tender mercy. With gentle, loving touch, He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds. He is as gracious in the manner of His mercy—as in the matter of it.

It is great mercy. There is nothing little in God; His mercy is like Himself—it is infinite. You cannot measure it. His mercy is so great,
  that it forgives great sins of great sinners,
  after great lengths of time, and then
  gives great favors and great privileges, and then
  raises us up to great enjoyments in the great Heaven of the great God!

It is undeserved mercy, as indeed all true mercy must be, for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for justice. There was no right on the sinner's part, to the sovereign mercy of the Most High God. Had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire—he would have justly merited the doom. If the evildoer is delivered from wrath—then sovereign mercy alone has found a cause.

It is rich mercy. Some things are great, but have little efficacy in them—but God's mercy is a cordial to your drooping spirits. Saving mercy is . . .
  a golden ointment for your bleeding wounds,
  a heavenly bandage for your broken bones,
  a royal chariot for your weary feet,
  a bosom of love for your trembling heart!

It is manifold mercy. There is no single mercy. You may think you have but one mercy—but you shall find it to be a whole cluster of mercies!

It is abounding mercy. Millions have received it, yet far from its being exhausted—it is as fresh, as full, and as free as ever!

It is unfailing mercy. It will never leave you. If saved by sovereign mercy, it will be . . .
  with you in temptation—to keep you from yielding,
  with you in trouble—to prevent you from sinking,
  with you living—to be the light and life of your countenance, and
  with you dying—to be the joy of your soul when earthly comfort is ebbing fast!

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever!" Psalm 23:6

"I have trusted in Your mercy—my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation!" Psalm 13:5

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I am eternally His!

(Thomas Brooks)

I am His by election, and I am His by regeneration.
I am His by purchase, and I am His by conquest.
I am His by covenant, and I am His by marriage.
I am wholly His.
I am supremely His.
I am universally His.
I am eternally His!

Once I was a slave, but now I am His dear son.
Once I was spiritually dead, but now I am spiritually alive.
Once I was in darkness, but now I walk in light.
Once I was a child of wrath and an heir of Hell, but now I am an heir of Heaven.
Once I was Satan's slave, but now I am God's freeman.

Once I was under the spirit of bondage, but now I have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby I cry, "Abba, Father!"

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Pithy gems from Octavius Winslow, 1808-1878

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So completely was Jesus bent upon saving sinners by the sacrifice of Himself—that He created the tree upon which He was to die; and nurtured from infancy, the wicked men who were to nail Him to the accursed wood!

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Christ took your cup of grief, your cup of the curse, pressed it to His lips, drank it to its dregs—then filled it with His sweet, pardoning, sympathizing love, and gave it back for you to drink, and to drink forever!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is because we have such shallow views of God's love—that we have such defective views of God's dealings.
We blindly interpret His providential dealings—because we so imperfectly read the engravings of His heart!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Seasons vary, circumstances change, feelings fluctuate, friendships cool, friends die—but Christ is ever the same!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Prayer is the pulse of the renewed soul—and the constancy of its beat is the test and measure of the spiritual life!


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Pithy gems from John Flavel, 1628-1691

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The Christian shall gain that which he cannot lose—by parting with that which he cannot keep.
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Jesus is the fountain, ocean, and center of all delights and joys!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Out of Christ's condemnation—flows our justification!
Out of His agony—comes our victory!
Out of His pain—comes our ease!
Out of His stripes—comes our healing!
Out of His gall and vinegar—comes our honey!
Out of His curse—comes our blessing!
Out of His crown of thorns—comes our crown of glory!
Out of His death—comes our life!
O what a melting consideration is this!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Christ is not sweet—until sin is made bitter to us!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If God should damn you to all eternity—your eternal sufferings could not satisfy for the evil that is in one vain thought! O the depth of the evil of sin!

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Pithy gems from H.W. Beecher, 1813-1887

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common everyday things.

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The Bible is God's chart for you to steer by—to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbor is, and how to reach it without running on the rocks!

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No physician ever weighed out medicine to his patients with half so much care and exactness, as God weighs out to us every trial. Not one grain too much does He ever permit to be put in the scale!

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In the family, happiness is in the proportion in which each is serving the others, seeking one another's good, and bearing one another's burdens.

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Pithy quotes from John Calvin #2

The secret things of God are not to be scrutinized.
Those things which He has revealed are not to be overlooked.

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29

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When God wants to judge a nation—He gives them wicked rulers!

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God preordained, for His own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice—a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation; and the other part, in just punishment of their sin, He has preordained to eternal damnation.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I have given up all for Christ—and what have I found?
I have more than all in Christ!

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If you desire additional reading, you may want to re-read Pithy quotes from John Calvin #1.