Grace Gems for APRIL 2021

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth!

LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

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

The love of Christ is unending; it is not a passion of His humanity, but a perfection of His divinity. He has always existed, and He has always loved His people. His people . . .
  always had a place in His thoughts,
  have ever been before His eye,
  and have always been loved by Him!

He has loved them ever since He knew them—and He knew them from eternity! His love ran through the boundless ages of eternity past—and fixed upon poor sinners who were to appear during the existence of time; and having fixed upon them—His love maintains its unfailing hold!

When He created the earth, spread abroad the Heavens, and gave His decree to the sea—His love was fixed upon His people! Their welfare, in connection with His Father's glory—was the object which He sought in all things.

Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth! That Jesus should have fixed His love upon such poor, depraved, insignificant creatures—and that from eternity past!

When we meditate upon eternity past—we can say in reference to the most distant periods, "My Savior loved me then! He loved me from all eternity!" Glorious truth! He always has loved me—and He always will love me! He loved me . . .
  before angels existed,
  before devils appeared,
  before sin was committed!

He loved me—when the Godhead dwelt all alone!
O the depths!
Astonishing mystery!
It seems too good to be true!
But God has said it, and my soul shall rejoice in it and praise Him for it!

His love to me is as eternal as His nature—without beginning of days, or end of years.
From His love, as from a mighty ocean, flows . . .
  all the acts of His power,
  all the displays of His benevolence,
  all the manifestations of His grace,
  and all the provisions of His gospel.

It is sweet to silently meditate upon the thought of such a vile and insignificant creature as I am—that Jehovah-Jesus not only thought of me—but eternally loved me with all the strength of His Deity! He so loved me, as to be willing, when it became necessary—to take my nature, and to save me by His humiliation, sufferings, and death!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I choose to suffer Your wrath in their place

(John Flavel, 1628-1691)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." Ephesians 1:4

"His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Ephesians 3:11

"Who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time" 2 Timothy 1:9

"He was chosen before the creation of the world" 1 Peter 1:20

"The blood of the eternal covenant" Hebrews 13:20

We may thus suppose the Father dialoging with His Son in the eternal covenant:

FATHER: "My Son, here is a company of poor miserable souls who have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to My justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in their eternal ruin. What shall be done for these wretched souls?"

SON: "O my Father, such is My love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety. I choose to suffer Your wrath in their place, than they should suffer it. Upon Me, My Father; upon Me be all their sin."

FATHER: "But, my Son, if You undertake for them, You must reckon to pay the last mite—expect no abatements. If I spare them, I will not spare You."

SON: "Father, let it be so. Charge it all upon Me, I am able to discharge it. Though it impoverishes all My riches and empties all My treasures, yet I am content to undertake it."

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich!" 2 Corinthians 8:9

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"There is no surer evidence of an unconverted state—than to have the things of the world uppermost in our aim, love, and estimation." Joseph Alleine

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Your everlasting treasure, and your unchangeable Friend!

(George Everard, "Up High!" 1884)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"Thus says the Lord:
  Let not a wise man glory in his wisdom,
  and let not the mighty man glory in his might,
  let not a rich man glory in his riches.
But let him who glories, glory in this—that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things!" Jeremiah 9:23-24

Glory in Christ—and in Him alone!

Glory in Him as your Faithful Shepherd, who will care for you, and guard you, and restore you, and keep you even to the end.

Glory in Him as your Unfailing Physician, who will heal your soul-wounds, and bind up the bleeding, broken heart.

Glory in Him as your Great High Priest, who ever lives to plead your cause before the Throne of grace.

Glory in Him as your Omnipotent King, who reigns over the events of Providence, and will make all things work together for your eternal good.

Glory in Him as your Mighty Redeemer, who will deliver you from every enemy, and make you conqueror over sin, death and Hell.

Glory in Him as your Everlasting Portion, remembering that when all else shall take wings and flee away—when the home is broken up, and dear ones die, and means grow less, and health decays, yes, when everything on earth fails you—He will be your everlasting treasure, and your unchangeable Friend!

And let this glorying be seen by your entire resignation to His will—and by choosing His path rather than your own.

"Not I, but Christ!" Lord, choose for me,
 And make me love what pleases Thee.

"Not I, but Christ!" His will be done,
 And mine with His be merged in one.

Myself no longer would I see,
But Jesus crucified for me.

His eye to guide, His voice to cheer,
His mighty arm forever near.

"Not I, but Christ!" Lord, let this be
 A motto throughout life for me!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Jesus Christ is completely sufficient!

(author unknown)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power!" Colossians 2:9-10

One of the great tenets of Scripture, is the claim that Jesus Christ is completely sufficient for all matters of life and godliness! 2 Peter 1:3-4

He is sufficient for:
  Creation (Colossians 1:16-17)
  Salvation (Hebrews 10:10-12)
  Sanctification (Ephesians 5:26-27)
  and Glorification (Romans 8:30).

So pure is He, that there is no blemish, stain, spot of sin, defilement, deception, corruption, error, or imperfection in Him! (1 Peter 1:18-20)

So complete is He, that . . .
  there is no other God besides Him (Isaiah 45:5)
  He is the only begotten Son (John 1:14, John 1:18)
  all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him (Colossians 2:3)
  the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Him (Colossians 2:9)
  He is heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2)
  He created all things—and all things were made by Him,
      through Him, and for Him (Colossians 1:16)
  He upholds all things by the word of His power (Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3)
  He is the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15)
  He is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3).

He has no beginning and no end (Revelation 1:17-18)
He is the spotless Lamb of God (John 1:29)
He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14)
He is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1)
He is our life (Colossians 3:4)
He is the living and true Way (John 14:6)
He is the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16)
He is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11)
He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2)
He is Captain of our Salvation (Hebrews 2:10) 
He is the Elect One (Isaiah 42:1)
He is the Apostle and High-Priest of our confession (Hebrews 3:1)
He is the Righteous Servant (Isaiah 53:11)
He is the Lord Almighty (Malachi 3:17)
He is the Redeemer (Isaiah 41:14)
He is the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 54:5)
He is the God of the whole earth (Isaiah 54:5)
He is the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3)
He is the Light of the world (John 9:5)
He is the Son of Man (Matthew 20:28)
He is the true Vine (John 15:5)
He is the Bread of Life (John 6:48)
He is the Door to Heaven (John 10:7)
He is the Sovereign Lord (Philippians 2:10-13)
He is Prophet, Priest and King (Hebrews 1:1-3)
He is our Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:9)
He is our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God,
    the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
He is the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4)
He is the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5)
He is the Rock of Salvation (Psalm 62:2)
He is the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13)
He is the Counselor and Comforter (John 14:26)
He is the Messiah (John 4:25-26) and
He is the great I AM! (John 8:58)

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"Nothing below Heaven is worth setting our hearts upon!" Richard Baxter

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Of all the volumes that were ever written—this volume, printed in crimson upon the pure lily-like flesh of Christ, is the best to read!

(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

Oh! Think of the Savior descending from the starry heights of glory—and coming down into the Virgin's womb; and then descending from that lowly manger of Bethlehem—even to the cross and to the grave for you! Yes, for your sake He takes upon Himself the form of a servant and becomes obedient unto death, even the death of the bloody tree!

Many of the ancient saints were accustomed to spending hours in meditating upon the sacred wounds of Jesus upon Calvary's Crossand many of the martyrs have been for days engaged in solemn meditation upon those wounded hands and feet, and that pierced side.

Oh! Sit down at the foot of the Cross, and study the wounds of Jesus! Of all the volumes that were ever written—this volume, printed in crimson upon the pure lily-like flesh of Christ, is the best to read!

If any of you doubt whether there is forgiveness with God—I ask you to stand on Calvary, in imagination, and to look into the wounds of Jesus. Gaze upon His nail-pierced hands and feet, His thorn-crowned brow, and look right into His heart where the soldier's spear was thrust!

Pardon of sin is only found in the wounds of Jesus!
Your sins were atoned for upon the accursed Cross.

Abide close to the cross, and search the mystery of His wounds. We shall only hate sin, by living more where the groans of Calvary can meet our ears, and the sight of the Savior's wounds can melt our hearts! Keep a deep sense of your indebtedness to God alive in your soul, and you will feel that you can never do enough for Him who has forgiven you so much!

There is no solid joy, no hallowed peace this side of Heaven, except by living under the shadow of the Cross, and nestling in the wounds of Jesus!

    When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.

    Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.

    See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

    Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"Speak to your people as to men who must be awakened—either here or in Hell!" Richard Baxter

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Behold the Man!

(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"Behold the Man!" John 19:5

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

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

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

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

Gaze upon Him!

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

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

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

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

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"Atheism attributes the creation and the sustaining of the world to blind chance!" Richard Baxter

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Would you see what sin is?

(J.R. Miller, "Miller's Year Book—a Year's Daily Readings")

LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"He was pierced for our transgressions,
 He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5

There is a picture which represents the after-scenes on that day of the crucifixion:
It is all over. The crowds have gone away. The evening sun is shining out again on Calvary. The body of the Savior has been borne to the sepulcher. The cross has been taken down, and lies on the ground. A company of little children, bright with the glow of childhood's innocence, led to the place by accident or curiosity—are seen bending over the signs of the day's terrible work. One of the children holds in his hand a nail, which a little time before, had pierced a hand or a foot of the patient Sufferer, and stands spellbound with horror as he gazes at it. His gentle heart is shocked at sin's dreadful work! On all the children's faces, the same expression of horror is depicted.

No one with pure and gentle heart, can ever look at the death of Christ on the cross—with any but feelings of amazement and horror at sin's awfulness!

It was sin that nailed Jesus on the cross!

It was sin that wreathed the circlet of thorns for His brow!

We say the Jews crucified Christ; yes—but WE helped to do it!
Our sins drove the nails!

Would you see what sin is? Stand by the cross and ponder its terrible work, there in the death of the Redeemer. See what it cost the Lamb of God, to take away sin!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"Rest assured, Christ will not live in the parlor of our hearts if we entertain the devil in the cellar of our thoughts." Charles Spurgeon

   ~  ~  ~  ~


(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"A great multitude of the people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him." Luke 23:27

Amid the rabble crowd which hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and lamentations—fit music to accompany that march of woe!

When my soul can, in imagination, see the Savior bearing His cross to Calvary—she joins the godly women and weeps with them; for, indeed, there is true cause for my grief—cause lying deeper than those mourning women thought. They bewailed . . .

But my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn—MY SINS were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned that bleeding brow with thorns!

My sins cried, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders! His being led forth to die, is sorrow enough for one eternity; but MY having been His murderer—is more, infinitely more grief, than one poor fountain of tears can express! Those women who loved and wept, could not have had greater reasons for love and grief, than my poor heart has!

The widow of Nain saw her son restored—but I myself have been raised to newness of life!
Peter's mother-in-law was cured of the fever—but I myself have been cured of the plague of sin!
Mary Magdalene had seven devils cast out of her—but a whole legion of devils were cast out of me!
Mary and Martha were favored with visits from Jesus—but He dwells with me!

I am not behind these holy women in debt to Jesus—let me not be behind them in gratitude or sorrow.

"Love and grief my heart dividing,
 With my tears His feet I'll lave;
 Constant still in heart abiding,
 Weep for Him who died to save!"

"He was pierced for our transgressions,
  He was crushed for our iniquities;
  the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
  and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Infinite grief! amazing woe!
Behold my bleeding Lord!
Hell and the Jews conspired His death,
And used the Roman sword.

O, the sharp pangs of smarting pain
My dear Redeemer bore,
When knotty whips and ragged thorns
His sacred body tore!

But knotty whips and ragged thorns
In vain do I accuse;
In vain I blame the Roman bands,
And the more spiteful Jews.

'Twere you, my sins, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were;
Each of my crimes became a nail,
And unbelief the spear!

'Twere you that pulled the vengeance down
Upon His guiltless head;
Break, break, my heart! O burst, mine eyes!
And let my sorrows bleed.

Strike, mighty grace, my flinty soul,
Till melting waters flow,
And deep repentance drowns my eyes,
In sincere and bitter woe!
   Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"All my theology is reduced to this narrow compass: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners!" Archibald Alexander

   ~  ~  ~  ~

O how strange, that God should love a worm, a dung-hill worm!

(An excerpt from the diary of James SmithLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

August 28, 1857.
If some of my congregation knew me better, they would love me less.
Yet my heavenly Father . . .
  knows me well,
  favors me much, and
  loves me wonderfully!

O how strange, that God should love a worm, a dung-hill worm
—one who . . .
  was bred in sin,
  loved sin,
  felt at home in sin, and
  at times felt regret that he was debarred from some sins!

O if God had left me to myself
—what would I have been, and what would I have done!
"But by the grace of God—I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

Surely, surely, I must say, that divine love and wisdom have planned my path—from first to last.
I am . . .
  out of Hell,
  on the way to Heaven,
  employed by God,
  useful to saints, and
  a blessing to sinners!
O how wonderful, how wonderful is this!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"If our life is not a course of humility, self-denial, renunciation of the world, poverty of spirit, and heavenly affection—we do not live the lives of Christians." William Law

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He left Heaven for us!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")

LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Matthew 16:24

Let the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, work us into a gracious willingness to embrace sufferings for His sake, and cheerfully and resolutely to take up His cross and follow Him.

Did Christ suffer, who knew no sin—and shall we think it strange to suffer, who know nothing but sin?

Shall He lie sweltering under His Father's wrath—and shall we cry out under men's anger?

Was He crowned with thorns—and must we be crowned with rose-buds?

Was His whole life, from the cradle to the cross, made up of nothing but sorrows and sufferings—and must our lives, from the cradle to the grave, be filled up with nothing but pleasures and delights?

Was He despised—and must we be admired?

Was He debased—and must we be exalted?

Was He poor—and must we be rich?

Was He low—and must we be high?

Did He drink of a bitter cup, a bloody cup—and must we have only cups of consolation?

Let us not think anything too much to do for Christ,
nor anything too great to suffer for Christ,
nor anything too dear to part with for such a Christ, such a Savior—who thought nothing too much to do, nor too grievous to suffer—so that He might accomplish the work of our redemption!

He left Heaven for us—and shall not we let go of this world for Him?

He left His Father's bosom for us—and shall not we leave the bosoms of our dearest relations for Him?

He underwent all sorts of sufferings for us—let us as readily encounter with all sorts of sufferings for Him.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich—yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich!" 2 Corinthians 8:9

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Nothing which is done for Christ is lost!

(J.R. Miller, "In His Steps" 1897)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

Every truly consecrated life, with all its faculties, has been given over to Christ. Faith implies full surrender. "You are not your own." "You are Christ's." Christ owns us first by right of creation, then by right of purchase. We acknowledge His ownership and all that it includes, when we receive Him as our Savior and Lord.

The first question, therefore, of the new believer is, "What will you have me to do, Lord?" We want to begin to work for our new Master. A heart of love for Christ, makes the sweeping of a room, the plowing of a field, the sawing of a board, the making of a garment, the selling of a piece of goods, the minding of a baby—as acceptable to God as the ministry of angels!

One way of working for Christ, therefore, is to be diligent in the doing of life's common daily tasks. The true giving of ourselves to God, exalts all of life into divine honor and sacredness. Nothing is trivial or indifferent which it is our duty to do. We are never to neglect any work, however secular it may seem—in order to do something else which appears to be more religious. There are some people who would be better Christians, if they paid more heed to their own daily business, attended fewer church meetings and did less religious gossiping.

We need a religion which puts itself into everything we do! The old shoemaker was right, when he said that when he stands before the great white throne, God will ask, "What kind of shoes did you make down on the earth?" We must do all our work for the judgment day—our common everyday tasks, as well as our religious duties.
The carpenter must get his religion into the houses he builds;
the plumber must get his religion into his plumbing;
the tailor must get his religion into his seams;
the merchant must get his religion into his sales.
All our work—we must do for God's eye!

It is the little things which all of us can do in Christ's name, which in the end leave the largest aggregate of blessing in the world. We need not wait to do great and conspicuous things. A life that every day gives its blessing to another, and adds to the happiness of some fellow being, by only . . .
  a word of kindness,
  a thoughtful act,
  a cheering look, or
  a hearty hand grasp
—does more for the world than he who but once in a lifetime does some great thing which fills a land with his praise. Nothing which is done for Christ is lost! The smallest acts, the quietest words, the gentlest inspirations which touch human souls—leave their impress for eternity! "If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of My followers, you will surely be rewarded." Matthew 10:42

A young girl was asked what it meant for her to be a Christian. She replied, "I suppose it is to do what Jesus would do, and behave as Jesus would behave—if He were a young girl and lived at our house." No better answer could have been given! The greatest duty of a Christian, is to do what Jesus would do, and to behave as He would behave—if He were precisely in our place, and our circumstances.

"He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does!" Martin Luther

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The great master-scar of the soul!

(Thomas Brooks, "A Word in Season to Suffering Saints")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

Humility makes a man like an angel—but pride makes an angel, a devil! Pride is worse than the devil—for the devil cannot hurt you, until pride has possessed you. Proud souls are Satan's apes, none imitate him to the life like these; for as face answers to face in a looking-glass, so does a proud soul answer to Satan!

"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13

Take heed of pride and haughtiness of spirit. Pride is the great master-scar of the soul; it will bud and blossom—it cannot be hidden. Pride is the leprosy of the soul, which breaks forth in the very forehead! Pride is . . .
  the sum of all vileness,
  a sea of sin,
  a mother sin,
  a breeding sin—
  a sin which has all sorts of sin in its womb!
In pride, all vices are wrapped up together in a bundle!

Pride is Satan's disease! It is so base a disease, that God would rather see His dearest children buffeted by Satan, than that in pride they should be like Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7). Pride is . . .
  a gilded misery,
  a secret poison,
  a hidden plague,
  the engineer of deceit,
  the mother of hypocrisy,
  the parent of misery,
  the moth of holiness,
  the blinder of hearts,
  the turner of medicines into maladies.

"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished!" Proverbs 16:5

God will have nothing to do with proud people.
He won't come near such loathsome lepers!

Therefore as ever you would enjoy God's presence,
  arm yourself against pride,
  watch against pride, and
  pray hard against pride!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"Chrysostom calls humility the root, mother, nurse and foundation of all virtue. Basil calls it the storehouse and treasury of all good. What is the scandal and reproach of religion at this day? Nothing more than the pride of professors." Thomas Brooks

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The mother and mistress of all the sins!

(J.C. Philpot, "PRIDE" 1853)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"I hate pride and arrogance." Proverbs 8:13

"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished." Proverbs 16:5

Of all sins, pride seems most deeply imbedded in the very heart of man. Unbelief, sensuality, covetousness, rebellion, presumption, contempt of God's holy will and word, deceit and falsehood, cruelty and wrath, violence and murder—these, and a forest of other sins have indeed struck deep roots into the black and noxious soil of our fallen nature; and, interlacing their lofty stems and gigantic arms, have wholly shut out the light of heaven from man's benighted soul.

But these and their associate evils do not seem so thoroughly interwoven into the very constitution of the human heart, nor so to be its very life-blood, as pride.
The lust of the flesh is strong, but there are respites from its workings.
is powerful, but there are times when it seems to lie dormant.
Covetousness is ensnaring, but there is not always a bargain to be made, or an advantage to be clutched.
These sins differ also in strength in different individuals. Some seem not much tempted with the grosser passions of our fallen nature; others are naturally liberal and benevolent, and whatever other idol they may serve, they bend not their knee to the golden calf.

But where lust may have no power, covetousness no dominion, and anger no sway—there, down, down in the inmost depths, heaving and boiling like the lava in the crater of a volcano, works that master sin—that sin of sins, pride!

Pride is the mother and mistress of all the sins; for where she does not conceive them in her ever-teeming womb, she instigates their movements, and compels them to pay tribute to her glory.

The 'origin of evil' is hidden from our eyes. Whence it sprang, and why God allowed it to arise in His fair creation, are mysteries which we cannot fathom. But thus much is revealed—that of this mighty fire which has filled Hell with sulphurous flame, and will one day envelop earth and its inhabitants in the general conflagration, the first spark was pride!

Pride is therefore emphatically the devil's own sin. We will not say his darling sin, for it is his torment—the serpent which is always biting him, the fire which is ever consuming him. But it is the sin which hurled him from heaven, and transformed him from a bright and holy seraph, into a foul and hideous demon!

How subtle, then, and potent must that poison be, which could in a moment change an angel into a devil! How black in nature, how concentrated in virulence that venom—one drop of which could utterly deface the image of God in myriads of bright spirits before the throne—and degrade them into monsters of uncleanness and malignity!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"Man's religion is to build up the creature. God's religion is to throw the creature down in the dust of self-abasement, and to glorify Christ." J.C. Philpot

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Our thorn!

(J.R. Miller, "The Building of Character" 1894)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure." 2 Corinthians 12:7

Paul tells us that his "thorn" was given to him—to keep him humble, and save him from spiritual peril. Without it, he would have been exalted above measure and would have lost his spirituality. We do not know how much of his deep insight into the things of God, and his power in service for his Master—Paul owed to this torturing "thorn". It seemed to hinder him, and it caused him incessant suffering—but it detained him in the low valley of humility, made him ever conscious of his own weakness and insufficiency, and thus kept him near to Christ whose home is with the humble.

There are few people who have not some "thorn" rankling in their flesh:
in one it is an infirmity of speech;
in another an infirmity of sight;
in another an infirmity of hearing.

Or it may be lameness;
or a slow but incurable disease;
or constitutional timidity,
or excessive nervousness;
or a disfiguring bodily deformity;
or an infirmity of temper.

Or it may be in one's home—which is cold, unloving, and uncongenial;
or it may be some moral failure;
or it may be a bitter personal disappointment through untrue friendship or unrequited love.

Who has not his thorn?

We should never forget that in one sense, our thorn is a "messenger of Satan," who desires by it:
  to hurt our life,
  to mar our peace,
  to spoil the divine beauty in us, and
  to break our communion with Christ.

On the other hand, however, Christ Himself has a loving design in our "thorn." He wants it to be a blessing to us. He would have it keep us humble—and save us from becoming vain. Or He means it to soften our hearts—and make us more gentle. He would have the uncongenial things in our environment to discipline us into heavenly-mindedness, give us greater self-control, and help us to keep our hearts loving and sweet—amid harshness and unlovingness. He would have our pain teach us endurance and patience; and our sorrow and loss teach us faith.

Thus, our thorn may either be a choice blessing to us—or it may do us irreparable harm.

If we allow it to fret us; if we chafe, resist, and complain; if we lose faith and lose heart—it will spoil our life!

But if we accept it in the faith that in its ugly burden—it has a blessing for us; if we endure it patiently, submissively, unmurmuringly; if we seek grace to keep our heart gentle and true amid all the trial, temptation, and suffering it causes—it will work good for us; and out of its bitterness—will come sweet fruit!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"The thorny path bears some of the sweetest flowers that adorn life. And when with naked, bleeding feet we walk upon a flinty soil—we often find diamonds!" Elizabeth Prentiss

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The fruits and effects He produces

(J.C. Ryle, "The Holy Spirit")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment." John 16:8

Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be deep conviction of sin—and true repentance for it. It is His special office to convict of sin.

He shows the exceeding holiness of God.

He teaches the exceeding corruption and infirmity of our nature.

He strips us of our blind self-righteousness.

He opens our eyes to our awful guilt, folly and danger.

He fills the heart with sorrow, contrition, and abhorrence for sin—as the abominable thing which God hates.

He who knows nothing of all this, and saunters carelessly through life, thoughtless about sin, and indifferent and unconcerned about his soul—is a dead man before God! He has not the Holy Spirit.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in a man's heart can only be known by the fruits and effects He produces. Mysterious and invisible to mortal eye as His operations are—they always lead to certain visible and tangible results.

Just as you know there is life in a tree by its sap, buds, leaves and fruits—just so you may know the Spirit to be in a man's heart by the influence He exercises over his thoughts, affections, opinions, habits, and life. I lay this down broadly and unhesitatingly; I see it clearly marked out in our Lord Jesus Christ's words, "Every tree is known by his own fruit." Luke 6:44

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

When an eagle is happy in an iron cage,
when a sheep is happy in water,
when an owl is happy in the blaze of the noonday sun,
when a fish is happy on dry land;
then, and not till then, will I admit that an
unholy man could be happy in Heaven. J.C. Ryle

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Spiritual conviction

(Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"When He comes, He will convict the world of sin." John 16:8

Spiritual conviction reaches to all sins:
  to sins of heart—as well as sins of life;
  to the sin of our nature—as well as the sins of practice;
  to the sin which is born in us—as well as the sin which is done by us.

Where the Spirit of the Lord comes to work effectually in any soul—He holds the looking-glass of the Word before the sinner's eyes, and then opens his eyes to look into the looking-glass, to see all that deformity and filthiness which is in his heart and nature!

How blind was Paul to his sinfulness—until the Spirit of the Lord revealed it to him by the Word! The Spirit alone, can make the sinner see all the deformity and filthiness which is within! It is He alone, who pulls off all the sinner's rags, and makes him see his naked and wretched condition! It is He alone, who shows us:
  the blindness of the mind,
  the stubbornness of the will,
  the disorderedness of the affections,
  the searedness of the conscience,
  the plague of our hearts,
  the sin of our natures,
  the desperateness of our state!

Natural conviction carries the soul out to look more on the evil which comes as a result of sin—than on the evil which is in sin. The soul which is under natural conviction, is more troubled at the dread of Hell, and wrath, and damnation—than at the vileness and heinous nature of sin!
But spiritual convictions work the soul into a greater sensibleness of the evil which is in sin—than of the evil which comes as a result of sin.
The dishonor done to God by walking contrary to His will;
the wounds which are made in the heart of Christ;
the grief which the Holy Spirit is put to—
this wounds the soul more than a thousand Hells!

Natural convictions are not durable, they quickly die out. They are like a slight cut in the skin, which bleeds a little, and is sore for the moment—but is soon healed again, and in a few days not so much as a scar is seen.
But spiritual convictions are durable, they cannot be worn out, they abide in the soul until they have reached their end—which is the change of the sinner.

The convictions of the Spirit are like a deep wound which goes to the vital organs, and seems to endanger the life of the patient, and is only healed by the great skill of the heavenly Physician. And when it is healed, there are the tokens of it remaining in the soul, which can never be worn out!

Spiritual conviction is an essential part of sound conversion. True conversion begins in convictions—and true convictions end in conversion. Until the sinner is convinced of sin—he can never be converted from sin.
coming was as a Savior to die for sinners.
The Spirit's coming is to convince us of sin—that we may close with Christ as our Savior.
So long as sin is unseen—Christ will be unsought.
"Those who are whole need not the physician—but those who are sick."

Slight convictions, when they are but skin-deep, are the cause of much hypocrisy. Slight convictions have filled the church with hypocrites! Nay, this is not only the spring of hypocrisy—but it is also the spring of apostasy! What was the cause that the seed was said to wither away? It was because it had no depth of soil. Just so, where convictions of sin are slight—there the seed of the Word withers for lack of depth! But where there is thorough conviction, there is a depth of soil in the heart—and there the seed of the Word grows!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

He has a healing balm for all!

(John MacDuff, "The Throne of Grace")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"The Holy Spirit helps us in our distress." Romans 8:26

You cannot live without the Holy Spirit!

There cannot be . . .
  one heavenly aspiration,
  one breathing of love,
  one upward glance of faith
without His gracious influences.

Apart from Him, there is . . .
  no preciousness in the Word,
  no blessing in ordinances,
  no permanent, sanctifying results in affliction.

The Holy Spirit . . .
  directs His people to the waters of comfort,
  gives new glory to the promises, and
  invests the Savior's character and work, with new loveliness and beauty.

Come, then, with your affliction!

Come with your infirmity!

Come with your need!

Come with your wounded spirit!

Come with your broken heart!

Whatever, then, be your present situation, seek the promised help of the Holy Spirit.

He has a healing balm for all . . .
  the weak,
  the tempted,
  the sick,
  the sorrowing,
  the bereaved,
  the dying.

"The Holy Spirit helps us in our distress." Romans 8:26

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Walk in the Spirit!

(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"Be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18

"Walk in the Spirit (let your steps be guided by the Spirit,) and you will not gratify the evil desires of the flesh." Galatians 5:16

Rich would the blessings of this day be, if we were filled with the Holy Spirit. The consequences of this sacred filling of the soul, would be impossible to overestimate. Life, comfort, light, purity, power, peace; and many other precious blessings are inseparable from the Spirit's gracious presence.

As sacred oil—He anoints the head of the believer, sets him apart to the priesthood of saints, and gives him grace to execute his duties aright.

As the only truly purifying water—He cleanses us from the power of sin and sanctifies us unto holiness, working in us to will and to do of the Lord's good pleasure.

As the holy light—He reveals the Lord Jesus to us, and guides us in the way of righteousness. Enlightened by His pure celestial ray, we are no longer walk in darkness—but in the light of Scripture truth.

As purifying fire—He both purges us from dross, and sets our consecrated nature ablaze. He is the sacrificial flame by which we are enabled to offer our whole souls as a living sacrifice unto God.

As heavenly dew—He removes our barrenness and nourishes our lives. O that He would drop from above upon us at this early hour! Such morning dew would be a sweet commencement for the day.

As the heavenly Dove, with wings of peaceful love—He broods over the souls of believers; and as a Comforter He dispels the cares and doubts which mar the peace of His beloved ones. He descends upon His chosen people, and bears witness to their sonship by working in them a filial spirit by which they cry Abba, Father!

As the wind—He brings the breath of spiritual life to men. He performs the quickening operations by which the spiritual creation is animated and sustained.

O that we might feel the Spirit's presence and influence this day and every day!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"When the Spirit of the Lord breathes on us, He withers all the glory of man, which is but as the flower of grass—and then He reveals a higher and abiding glory." Spurgeon

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A hand, a divine and omnipotent hand!

(Horatius Bonar, "The Night of Weeping")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

The Holy Spirit is our Comforter. He is mighty to comfort as well as to sanctify.

His name is "the Comforter." His office is to console.

In the discharge of this office He puts forth His power, not only mediately and indirectly through the Word, but immediately and directly upon the soul, sustaining and strengthening it when fainting and troubled.

It is an unspeakable consolation to know that there is a hand, a divine and omnipotent hand,
laid upon our wounded spirit—not only upholding it, but drying up, as it were, the very springs of grief within.

In the day of oppressive sorrow, when bowed down to the dust, what is it that we feel so much our need of, as a hand that can come into close and direct contact with our souls to lift them up and strengthen them?

It is here that human consolation fails. Friends can say much to soothe us, but they cannot lay their finger upon the hidden seat of sorrow. They can put their arm around the fainting body, but not around the fainting spirit.

Here the heavenly aid comes in! The Spirit throws around us the everlasting arms, and we are invincibly upheld. We cannot sink, for He sustains, He comforts, He cheers. And who knows so well as He how to sustain, and comfort, and cheer?

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"There is no grief which the Holy Spirit cannot relieve! That divine Comforter knows so well how to get at the secret springs of our sorrow, and to put the comfort right into the spring itself—that there can never be a grief which can elude Him, or which can baffle His skill." Spurgeon

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The religion which I want

(Letters of J.C. Philpot LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

I am quite sick of modern religion—it is such a mixture, such a medley, such a compromise. I find much, indeed, of this religion in my own heart, for it suits the flesh well—but I would not have it so, and grieve it should be so.

The religion which I want
is that of the Holy Spirit.

I know nothing but what He teaches me.

I feel nothing but what He works in me.

I believe nothing but what He shows me.

I only mourn when He smites my rocky heart.

I only rejoice when He reveals the Savior.

This religion I am seeking after, though miles and miles from it—but no other will satisfy or content me.

When the blessed Spirit is not at work in me, and with me—I fall back into all the . . .
  infidelity, and
of my Adam nature.

True religion is a supernatural and mysterious thing!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"God is our portion,
 Christ is our companion,
 the Spirit is our Comforter,
 earth is our lodge, and
 Heaven is our home!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

What does our church need?

(James Smith, "Good seed for the Lord's field!" 1856)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"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

"We have," said one pastor, "the gospel regularly preached, the prayer meetings are continued, the church is in peace—but very few souls are converted to God! What does our church need?"

It needs the presence and power of the Holy Spirit! For unless the Holy Spirit works—your minister may preach, your church may meet—but no real good will be done! God's work is carried on, not by might nor by power—but by the Spirit of the Lord Almighty. It is the Spirit who must . . .
   open the heart,
   quicken the soul, and
   sanctify the person!

And if the Spirit works—then the feeblest ministry is efficient, and the smallest church prospers!

All the success that followed the preaching of Peter and the labors of Paul, was from the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul says, "God gave the increase." Then the church felt her need of the Spirit; she realized her dependence on that divine Agent; she prayed with faith, fervor, and importunity for the blessing; and God answered her prayers, and filled His servants with the Holy Spirit and with power!

But now-a-days, we merely talk of the Spirit—rather than feel our need!
We boast of our instruments—rather than realize our dependence on the Almighty Agent!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"The wonder of the grace of God is that He can take an unholy man out of the unholy world, and make that man holy. And then put him back into the unholy world and keep him holy!" Leonard Ravenhill

   ~  ~  ~  ~

They have all learned in one school

(J.C. Ryle, "Having the Spirit")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

All who have the Spirit—are taught by Him. He is called in Scripture, "The Spirit of wisdom and revelation." It was the promise of the Lord Jesus, "He shall teach you all things." "He shall guide you into all truth."

We are all by nature ignorant of spiritual truth. "The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God—they are foolishness to him." Our eyes are blinded. We neither know God, nor Christ, nor ourselves, nor the world, nor sin, nor Heaven, nor Hell—as we ought. We see everything under false colors.

The Spirit alters entirely this state of things. He opens the eyes of our understandings. He illumines us. He calls us out of darkness into marvelous light. He takes away the veil. He shines into our hearts, and makes us see things as they really are!

No wonder that all true Christians are so remarkably agreed upon the essentials of true religion! The reason is, that they have all learned in one school—the school of the Holy Spirit. No wonder that true Christians can understand each other at once, and find common ground of fellowship! They have been taught the same language, by One whose lessons are never forgotten!

"When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He shall guide you into all truth." John 16:13

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"God, by His Spirit, brings old truth home to the heart, gives new light to our eyes, and causes the Word to exercise new power over us; but He reveals no new facts, and He utters no words in any man's ears concerning his condition and state. We must be content with the old revelation and with the life and power and force with which the Holy Spirit brings it to the heart. Neither must any of us seek to have any additional revelation, for that would imply that the Scriptures are incomplete." Spurgeon

   ~  ~  ~  ~

His secret power and influence

(J.C. Philpot, "The New Covenant & the Blood of Sprinkling")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." John 6:44

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

None can really come to Jesus by faith, unless this drawing power is put forth.

The Holy Spirit—that gracious and blessed Teacher, acts upon the soul by His secret power and influence, puts 'cords of love' and 'bands of mercy' around the heart, and by the attractive influence that He puts forth, draws the soul to Jesus' feet; and in due time reveals Him as the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely one.

As the Spirit reveals and manifests these precious things of Christ to the soul, He raises up a living faith whereby Jesus is sought unto, looked unto, laid hold of, and is brought into the heart with a divine power, there to be enshrined in its warmest and tenderest affections.

All through its Christian pilgrimage, this blessed Spirit goes on to deepen His work in the soul, and to discover more and more of the suitability, beauty, and blessedness of the Lord Jesus, as He draws the soul more and more unto Him. There is no maintaining of the light, life, and power of God in our souls, except as we are daily coming unto Jesus as the living stone, and continually living upon Him as the bread of life.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

"Use the hammer of diligence, and let the knee of prayer be exercised—and there is not a stony doctrine in Scripture which is useful for you to understand, which will not fly into shivers under the exercise of prayer and faith. You may force your way through anything with the leverage of prayer. Thoughts and reasonings are like the steel wedges which give a hold upon truth; but prayer is the lever which forces open the iron chest of sacred mystery, that we may get the treasure hidden within!" Spurgeon

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The transforming power of the Spirit!

(J.C. Ryle, "The Lord's Garden")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints." Romans 1:7

Believers are separated from the world by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit calls them out from the world, and separates them as effectually as if a wall were built between them and it. He puts in them . . .
  new hearts,
  new minds,
  new tastes,
  new desires,
  new sorrows,
  new joys,
  new wishes,
  new pleasures,
  new longings.

He gives them . . .
  new eyes,
  new ears,
  new affections,
  new opinions.

He makes them new creatures. They are born again—and with a new birth they begin a new existence. Mighty indeed is the transforming power of the Spirit!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If you are unable to attend your local church today, we highly recommend that you read the whole of Ryle's superb article, "The Lord's Garden". You will find it helpful to LISTEN to the 32 minute audio, as you READ the text.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

When I am weak, then I am strong

(J.R. Miller, "The Blessing of Weakness" 1894)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)


"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will glory all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

There is a blessing in weakness, because it nourishes dependence on God. When we are strong, or deem ourselves strong—we are really weak, since then we trust in ourselves and do not seek Divine help.

But when we are consciously weak, knowing ourselves unequal to our duties and struggles—we are strong, because then we turn to Christ, and get His strength.

Too many people think that their weakness a barrier to their usefulness; or make it an excuse for doing little with their life. Instead of this, however, if we give it to Christ—He will transform our weakness into strength. He says that His power is made perfect in weakness; that is, what is lacking in human strength, He fills and makes up with divine strength. Paul had learned this, when he said that he now gloried in his weaknesses, because on account of them—the strength of Christ rested upon him; so that when he was weak, then he was strong—strong with Divine strength.

We need only to make sure of one thing—that we do indeed bring our weakness to Christ, and lean on Him in simple faith. This is the vital link in getting the blessing.

Weakness itself is a burden; it is like chains upon our limbs. If we try to carry it alone, we shall only fail. But if we lay it on the strong Son of God, and let Him carry us and our burden, going on quietly and firmly in the way of duty—He will make our very weakness a secret source of strength.

He will not take the weakness from us—that is not His promise; but He will so fill us with His own power, that we shall be strong, more than conquerors, able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

This is the blessed secret of having our burdening weakness, transformed into vital strength. The secret can be found only in Christ. And in Him—it can be found by every humble, trusting disciple.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Something to ponder:

In a sermon preached in 1741 Jonathan Edwards told his hearers: "I have no desire to terrify you needlessly or to represent your case as worse than it is, but I truly think that there are a number of people in this congregation who are in imminent danger of being damned to all eternity!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I have much more to say to you

(J.R. Miller, "The Building of Character" 1894)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"I have much more to say to you—more than you can now bear." John 16:12

All learning is slow. This is true in proportion to the importance of the lessons. We learn some things quickly—but they are not the things which are of greatest value. Mere head-lessons are gotten more easily than heart-lessons. We may memorize the beatitudes in a few minutes—but it takes many years to learn to live them! And in spiritual and moral lessons—living is the only learning which counts. Anyone can memorize a code of ethics by heart, without much effort. But to get the faultless code wrought into conduct, disposition, spirit, and character—is the work of a lifetime!

In life-teaching, the lessons are given only as fast as they are learned. Our Master will not teach us more rapidly than we can live His lessons. It was in the midst of His most confidential talk with His disciples, that He said He had much more to say to them—more than they could now bear.

Spiritual truths can be received—only as we come to the experiences for which they are adapted. There are many of the divine promises which we can never claim, and whose blessedness we cannot realize—until we come to the points in life for which they were specially given.

For example: "He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity; He will hide me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high on a rock." This word can mean nothing to the child playing amid the flowers, or to the young man or woman walking in sunny paths—without a care or a trial. It can be understood only by one who is in the depths of trouble. In the days of gladness, when there is no trouble, no pain—there are many of God's Words which seem to have no meaning for us. We do not need them. They are for times of sorrow—and we have no sorrow. They are lamps for the darkness—and we are not walking in darkness. They are for days of pain and loss—and we have no pain, and are called to endure no loss.

There is a large part of the Bible which can be received by us, only when we come into the places for which the words were given.
There are promises for weakness—which we can never get, while we are strong.
There are promises for times of danger—which we can never know, in the days when we need no protection.
There are consolations for sickness whose comfort we can never get, while we are in robust health.
There are promises for times of loneliness, when men walk in solitary ways—which never can come with real meaning to us, while loving companions are by our side.
There are words for old age—which we never can appropriate for ourselves along the years of youth, when the arm is strong, the blood warm, and the heart brave.

Christ says to us then, "I have much more to say to you—more than you can now bear." We could not understand these lessons now. But by and by when we come into places of need, of sorrow, of weakness, of failure, of loneliness, of sickness, of old age—then He will tell us these other things, these long-withheld things, and they will be full of joy for our hearts!

There are beatitudes for certain conditions. "Blessed are those who mourn—for they shall be comforted." But only those who are in sorrow, can experience the blessedness of divine comfort. Thus all the treasures of the Bible are ready to open to us, the moment we have the experience which the particular grace in them is intended to supply.

Hence it is that the Bible is never exhausted. Men read it over and over again, and each time they find something new in it—new promises, new comforts, new revealings of divine love. The reason is, they are growing in experience, and every new experience develops new needs, and brings them to new revealings.

Thus, as life goes on, the meaning of Christ's words come out clearer and clearer, until the child's heedless repetition of them, becomes the utterance of the faith and trust of the strong man's very soul.

This is the great law of divine revealing. We learn Christ's teaching—only as fast as we are able to bear it. So we may wait in patient faith when mysteries confront us, or when shadows lie on our pathway—confident that He who knows all, has in gentle love withheld from us for the time, the revealing we crave, because we could not yet endure the knowledge.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Lord Himself watches over you!

(J.R. Miller, "Guarded from Stumbling" 1906)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

God Himself is the refuge of His people.

"My help comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth! He will not let you stumble and fall; the One who watches over you will not sleep. Indeed, He who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps. The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not hurt you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all evil and preserves your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go—both now and forever." Psalm 121:1-8

The promise of Heaven is very alluring to Christian hope—but how can we get there? Seen and unseen perils beset the way—and we have no strength to defend ourselves, or to keep our lives from hurt. To meet these dangers, however, we have the promise of a Guide who is able to guard us on from falling, even from stumbling—and to bring us at last unharmed, without blemish, to the door of our Father's house. "For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death!" Psalm 48:14

The Bible gives many assurances of protection to the children of God, as they pass through this world. They dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. They take refuge under the wings of God. We never can get out from under the shadow of the Almighty. Wherever we may have to go—we shall always have the love of God over us.

There are also promises of protection. We have the assurance that God will not let you stumble and fall. So the divine thought extends even to our feet and to our steps, one by one. There is not an inch in all our pathway through this world, which is unwatched, on which the eye of God does not rest. The most watchful human love must sometimes close its eyes in sleep. The most loving mother must sometimes steal from the bedside of her little sick child, for a minute's rest. But the divine care never slumbers nor fails, even for a moment! Indeed, "the One who watches over you will not sleep."

In this world of danger, we need never vex ourselves with fear or anxiety—for God is watching, and He never sleeps! There is not a moment by day or by night when we are unguarded. There can be no sudden surprise or danger, by which God can be taken unaware.

Christ surrounds His people with an invisible protection, which nothing can tear away. In all our perils, struggles, and sorrows—He has us in His heart! "Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20

A Christian woman walking alone at night, was approached by a stranger.
He said, "I see you are alone."
"No, sir, I am not alone; I have a friend with me."
"I do not see anyone," he said, looking round.
The woman quietly answered, "Jesus Christ is with me," and the man turned and fled into the darkness.

So while Heaven seems far off, and while the way is full of enemies and dangers—yet no believer, not even the weakest, need perish on the way, nor fail to get home. Christ the mighty One, has built a road through the world—a safe and secure road, on which all His friends may journey under His guidance and guardianship, without hurt until they enter the Father's house. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one can snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

   ~  ~  ~  ~

How can we learn contentment?

(J.R. Miller, "The Hidden Life" 1895)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." Philippians 4:11

How can we learn contentment?

One step toward contentment, is patient submission to unavoidable ills and hardships. No earthly lot is perfect. No mortal ever yet in this world, has found a set of circumstances without some drawback. There are . . .
  trials which we cannot change into blessings,
  burdens which we cannot lay down,
  crosses which we must continue to carry,
  thorns in the flesh which must remain with their rankling pain.
When we have such trials, why should we not sweetly accept them as part of God's best way with us?

Discontent never made . . .
  a rough path smoother,
  a heavy burden lighter,
  a bitter cup less bitter,
  a dark way brighter,
  a sore sorrow less sore.
It only makes matters worse!

One who accepts with patience, that which he cannot change—has learned one secret of victorious living.

Another part of the lesson, is that we can learn to moderate our desires. "Having food and clothing," says Paul again, "let us be content with these." Very much of our discontent arises from envy of those who seem to be more favored than ourselves. Many people lose most of the comfort out of their own lot—in coveting the finer, more luxurious things which some neighbor has. Yet if they knew the whole story of the life they envy for its greater prosperity, they probably would not exchange for it their own lowlier life with its more humble circumstances. Or if they could make the exchange, it is not likely they would find half so much real happiness in the other position, as they would have enjoyed in their own.

Contentment does not dwell so often in palaces—as in the homes of the humble. The tall peaks rise higher and are more conspicuous—but the winds smite them more fiercely than they do the quiet valleys. And surely, the lot in life which God makes for us, is always the best which could be made for us for the time. He knows better than we do, what our true needs are.

The real cause of our discontent is not in our circumstances; if it were, a change of circumstances might cure it. It is in ourselves, and wherever we go—we shall carry our discontent heart with us. The only cure which will affect anything, must be the curing of the fever of discontent in us.

A fine secret of contentment, lies in finding and extracting all the pleasure we can get from the things we have—the common, everyday things; while we enter upon no mad, vain chase after impossible dreams. In whatever state we are in, we may find therein enough for our needs.

No earthly misfortune can touch the wealth which a Christian holds in the divine promises and hopes. Just in the measure, therefore, in which we learn to live for spiritual and unseen eternal realities—do we find contentment amid earth's trials and losses. If we would live to please God, to build up Christlike character in ourselves, and to lay up treasure in Heaven—we shall not depend for happiness, on the way things go with us here on earth, nor on the measure of temporal goods we have. The earthly desires are crowded out by the higher and spiritual desires. We can do without childhood's toys—when we have manhood's better possessions. We desire the toys of this world less, as we get more of God and Heaven into our hearts.

Paul knew this secret. He cheerfully gave up all that this world had for him. Money had no power over him. He knew how to live in plenty; but he did not fret when poverty came instead. He was content in any trial, because earth meant so little—and Christ meant so much to him. He did not need the things he did not have. He was not made poor by the things he lost. He was not vexed by the sufferings he had to endure—because the sources of his life were in Heaven and could not be touched by earthly experiences of pain or loss.

These are hints of the way we may learn to be content in whatever circumstances. Surely the lesson is worth learning! One year of sweet contentment, amid earth's troublous scenes—is better than a whole lifetime of vexed, restless discontent! The lesson can be learned, too, by anyone who is truly Christ's disciple; for did not the Master say, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you."

The artist painted life as a dark, storm-swept sea, covered with wrecks. Then out of the midst of the wild waves, he made to rise a great rock, in a cleft of which, high up, amid herbage and flowers—he painted a dove sitting quietly on her nest. It is a picture of Christian peace in the midst of this world's strifes and storms. In the cleft of the Rock, is the home of contentment.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It will help us greatly in our Christian life

(J. R. Miller, "Garden of the Heart" 1906)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught." Mark 6:30

It will help us greatly in our Christian life, if we will train ourselves to the habit of reporting to Christ continually, all that we do and say. We may come every evening to His feet, and tell Him all about the work and the life of our day.

Each day is a miniature life. Each morning we are sent out by our Master, commissioned by Him to do certain tasks, to touch certain lives, to leave certain blessings in the world, to endure certain temptations, to suffer or rejoice—as the case my be. At the close of the day—we come back to make report in our evening prayer, of all that we have done, not only the good and beautiful things—the obedience, the kindnesses, the victories over temptation, the things which have been helpful to others; but also the foolish things—the disobediences, the defeats, the neglects of duty.

If we remember as we go through the day—that everything we do or say, and everything we fail to do or say—must be reported to our Master—it would make us more careful as the moments pass, of what we do and what we fail to do. We would not do the things which would shame us to look into Christ's face, and tell Him what we did. We would learn to do only what would give us pleasure to report to Him.

This would do much to make us always charitable and kind to others, for we shall not care to tell the Master that we said unkindly words of our neighbors. If we constrain ourselves to report in our evenings prayers—all our criticisms of others, all our uncharitable words, and all our blaming and fault finding—we shall soon be cured of the habit of censoriousness, and we shall learn to do and say only things which we shall be glad to tell our Lord.

There is no better way to keep our days holy and beautiful
, than to tell Jesus every night—all that we have said and done through the day!

Yet, we need never dread to tell Christ of our failures for the day.
There always will be failures.
Our moods will not always be gentle.
Sometimes we will speak rashly and harshly.
We will not always be patient and thoughtful.
Unchristian tempers will break out in spite of our determination always to keep sweet.
We will fail many a time to be loving.
But the Master will be infinitely gracious and gentle in dealing with our faults and failures. He is more kindly than any mother. No words in the Bible are sweeter to a faithful Christian, than those in one of the Psalms, "He knows our frame—He remembers that we are dust."

If we are living faithfully and are striving to do our best, and to do better each day, we need never dread to tell our Master all that we have done—even the worst! He wants us to be very frank and very honest with Him. Of course He knows all that we have done—but He wants us to tell Him all, keeping nothing back. We may come with the whole story, even if it is a confession of weakness, foolishness or sin. He is never severe with us, as some human friends are—for He wants us never to be afraid to come to Him.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The moment after our friends say we are dead

(J. R. Miller, "Glimpses of the Heavenly Life" 1908)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

No earthly language is adequate to describe the blessedness, the joy, the happiness of Heaven! Perhaps no human word gathers and holds in itself so much of the truest meaning of Heaven, as the word "home". Home is a place of love. It is a place of confidence. We have nothing to hide or conceal from each other, inside home's doors. We know we are loved. Our faults may be seen and known, but we are dear in spite of them. We find there sympathy with our sufferings, and patience with our infirmities and shortcomings. Heaven is our home! Into it, all God's children will be gathered. It is a place of glory, of beauty, of splendor, a holy place—but, best of all, it is a place of perfect love.

As we read the wonderful description of the heavenly life in the book of Revelation, we find that all heaven's glory comes from Christ! "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne!" Revelation 5:6

Whatever else heaven may mean to us, it will, first of all, mean being with Christ! Here we see Him only by faith, ofttimes dimly. We long to see Him as He is. Our hearts hunger for Him. "We would see Jesus!" is our cry all our days.

But when the veil which hides heaven from our sight is torn for us, and the glory is suddenly revealed—we shall see, first of all, before we look upon any of the splendors of the place—Him we have loved—our Savior and our Friend, Jesus Christ! And He will wipe away every tear from our eyes!

Being with Him—we shall need nothing else to make our blessedness complete.
Seeing Him—we shall be satisfied.
Seeing Him—we shall be like Him, changed fully into His image!
Seeing Him—we shall then be with Him forever!

This dull bud will open, and a glorious rose will unfold in all its splendor!
From this poor, feeble, struggling earthly life, will emerge a child of God, in glorious beauty!

If only we could have a glimpse of ourselves—what we will be the moment after our friends say we are dead, could we go on living as if we were made only for the earth! Let us not grovel any longer! Let us who have this glorious future—not creep in the slime and dust! Let us live worthy of our exalted honor. When we see Christ, we shall be made like Him! "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2

This hope of Heaven should strengthen us to overcome all earthly discouragements.
No matter how hard the way is—the end is glorious!
No matter how great . . .
  the fierceness of the battle,
  the weariness of the struggle,
  the bitterness of the sorrow,
  the keenness of the suffering
—glory is the final outcome!

"And so we will be with the Lord forever! Therefore comfort and encourage each other with these words!" 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

   ~  ~  ~  ~