Grace Gems for AUGUST 2021

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But read on!


(Ezekiel Hopkins, 1633-1690 "The Excellency of Heavenly Treasures!)

All earthly things are to be accounted good or evil, only as they concern our eternal state and condition.

You will be greatly deceived if you look upon earthly things as they appear in themselves.
Then you will call prosperity, and riches and worldly abundance—good things.
Then you will call poverty and affliction—evil things.

But consider these things as they relate to eternity, and then poverty may be a mercy, and riches may be a judgment! God may bless you by afflictions, and curse you by prosperity! He may bestow more upon you in allowing you to lack these things, than if He gave all the world's abundance to you.

It may be that prosperity may puff up your soul, and make it grow more estranged from God.
It may be that adversity may humble you, and bring your soul the nearer unto God, and so conduce more to the eternal good of your soul.
Adversity, in this case, is good; and not prosperity.

This present life is nothing but a preparation for eternity. All that we here do, or receive, or suffer—is in order to eternity; and, therefore, all must be measured by eternity.

That is good, which tends to our everlasting happiness—be it poverty or misery. Whatever it is . . .
  that increases our grace,
  that augments the stock of our heavenly treasure,
  that promotes the everlasting salvation of our souls
—that alone is to be esteemed by us as good.

What folly is it for men to roll and wallow in the profits and pleasures of this world, and hug them as good things—when indeed they are only snares and traps to their souls; and are only given to fatten them for the day of slaughter; and may every moment deliver them up to an eternity of torments, which will be fearfully heightened and enraged by the enjoyment of these things that they account good things!

Abraham tells Dives that in his lifetime he received his good things; and Lazarus received his evil things. This is a strange providence of God—to bestow good things upon a hated Dives, and to inflict evil things upon a beloved Lazarus!

But read on! Luke 16:25, But now Lazarus is comforted, and Dives is tormented. Oh, never call Dives' expensive and delicious fare, good things—for these end in eternal torment! Never call Lazarus' sores and rags, evil things—for these end in everlasting comfort!

"No!" might Dives have replied with horror, "When I was clothed in purple and fine linen, I then received evil things! O cursed be all my pomp and riches! I see now the end of my purple linen—it was but to wrap me up in redder flames. My sumptuous fare served only to make the never-dying worm the more to feed on me! Oh, happy was the poverty of Lazarus, for he awakened in ease and happiness in Heaven. Then he was the truly happy one, and not I; though I thought myself so. For though I received an abundant measure of worldly things, yet I received no really good things."

This, within a short time, will be the judgment of all of you, when you come to be judged and sentenced to an unalterable condition for all eternity! Oh, therefore, be persuaded to pass the same judgment upon earthly things now.

Hence, if God denies any worldly enjoyment to His redeemed people, He denies it because it is not really good for them; because it will not conduce to their eternal happiness, which is the only rule and measure of earthly things.

Psalm 84:11, "The Lord gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly."

If God withholds anything from you, then you may conclude that it is not a good thing for you to have; but that it would be harmful to grace or glory, had God bestowed it upon you. Will you desire to diminish the least degree of grace or glory—for the greatest accumulation of worldly enjoyments? If you would, you have never yet made grace or glory your treasure!

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A most sublime consideration!

(Ezekiel Hopkins, 1634-1690)

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
 How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" Romans 11:33

The mystery of God's providence is a most sublime consideration! Our reason is at a loss when it attempts to search into the eternal decrees of election, or the entangled mazes and labyrinths in which the divine providence walks. It is impossible to conduct ourselves into that secret place, that pavilion of clouds and surrounding darkness, where God sits holding the helm of the world!

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31
 
Notice how particular God's providence is. It is directed to the most trifling occurrences in the world: a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without the heavenly Father. His providence has even appointed . . .
  what branch it will land upon,
  what grains it shall pick up,
  where it shall lodge,
  where it shall build,
  and when it shall die.
Not one particle of dust moves on a well-traveled road, but God raises it, directs its motion, and directs it to the specific place He appointed for it.

Man can be very confident that God exercises the most accurate providence over him and his affairs. Nothing comes to pass without our Heavenly Father!

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Here we are groveling in the clay and muck of this world!

(Ezekiel Hopkins, 1633-1690)

"But God said to him: You fool! This night your soul is required of you!" Luke 12:20

The subject which I would like to discuss is the vanity of the world and all things here below, so that we can cease our vain pursuit of them and set our affections on things above. These alone are valuable and the only permanent and stable good.

Why is it that immortal souls can become so degenerate as to stake themselves down to perishing enjoyments? We should be soaring aloft with God on the wings of meditation and affection—and here we are groveling in the clay and muck of this world! We are like the serpent licking the dust of the earth!

Do we not degrade ourselves when we stoop to gain what is so vastly below us, and fling away our precious souls? Our souls are worth more than ten thousand worlds, and yet we seek to gain a small part of this one. The god of this world has blinded man's eyes and cast a strange mist before them, so that they cannot discern what is very evident: namely the instability and vanity of all earthly enjoyments.

Whatever God has made is good, but if it is considered the greatest good, it turns into vanity. It is vain to expect happiness and contentment from the world whose crosses are greater than its comforts.

Should the never-dying soul be neglected? Alas! Most busy themselves attempting to heap up temporal riches, while giving the soul worthless husks. Our Savior brands the rich man a fool when he stuffed his barns with grain at the neglect of his soul. What folly it is to purchase a vain world at the loss of our precious souls! What great losers they are to gain the world, and then at last lose the world along with their souls!

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

Thomas Watson: "The torments of Hell abide forever. If all the earth and sea were sand, and every thousandth year a bird would come and take away one grain of this sand—it would be a long time before that vast heap of sand were emptied. Yet, if after all that time the damned may come out of Hell, there would be some hope; but this word FOREVER breaks the heart!" "He, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever!" Revelation 14:10-11

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This Book is the most valuable thing the world affords!

(J.C. Ryle, "Light from Old Times" 1902)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

The good that was done by the Bible will probably never be known until the last day. But I shall never hesitate to assert that if there is any one fact more incontrovertibly proved than another it is this: that the possession by a people of the Bible in their own language is the greatest possible national blessing.

Which are the countries where the greatest amount of ignorance, superstition, immorality, and tyranny is to be found at this very moment? The countries in which the Bible is a forbidden or neglected book—such countries as Italy and Spain, and the South American countries.
Which are the countries where liberty, and public and private morality have attained the highest pitch? The countries where the Bible is free to all, like England, Scotland, and the United States.

Yes! when you know how a nation deals with the Bible, you may generally know what a nation is. O that the rulers of some nations did but know that a free Bible is the grand secret of national prosperity; and that the surest way to make subjects orderly and obedient, is to allow a free passage to the living waters of God's Word! O that the people of some countries did but see that a free Bible is the beginning of all real freedom, and that the first liberty they should seek after, is liberty to have a Bible in every house, and a Bible in every hand! Well said Hooper, "A king on earth has no greater friend than the Bible." It is a striking fact, that when British Sovereigns are crowned, they are publicly presented with the Bible, and told, "This Book is the most valuable thing the world affords!"

This is the book on which the well-being of nations has always hinged, and with which the best interests of every nation in Christendom at this moment are inseparably bound up. Just in proportion as the Bible is honored or not:
  light, or darkness,
  morality, or immorality,
  true religion, or superstition,
  liberty, or despotism,
  good laws, or bad laws
—will be found in a land.

Which are the Churches on earth which are producing the greatest effect on mankind? The Churches in which the Bible is exalted.

Which are the parishes in England and Scotland where religion and morality have the strongest hold? The parishes in which the Bible is most circulated and read.

Who are the ministers in England who have the most real influence over the minds of the people? Those who are faithfully preaching the Word.

A Church which does not honor the Bible is as useless as a body without life, or a steam engine without fire.

A minister who does not honor the Bible is as useless as . .  .
  a soldier without weapons,
  a builder without tools,
  a pilot without a compass,
  a messenger without tidings.

This is the book to which the civilized world is indebted for many of its best and most praiseworthy institutions. Few probably are aware how many are the good things that men have adopted for the public benefit, of which the origin may be clearly traced up to the Bible. It has left lasting marks wherever it has been received.

From the Bible are drawn many of the best laws by which society is kept in order.

From the Bible has been obtained the standard of morality about truth, honesty, and the relations of man and wife, which prevails among Christian nations, and which—however feebly respected in many cases, makes so great a difference between Christians and heathen.

To the influence of the Bible we owe nearly every humane and charitable institution in existence. The sick, the poor, the aged, the orphan, the lunatic, the insane, the blind—were seldom or never thought of before the Bible leavened the world. You may search in vain for any record of institutions for their aid in the histories of Athens or of Rome.

Alas, many sneer at the Bible, and say the world would get on well enough without it—who little think how great are their own obligations to the Bible. Little does the infidel think, as he lies sick in some of our great hospitals, that he owes all his present comforts to the very Book he affects to despise. Had it not been for the Bible, he might have died in misery, uncared for, unnoticed, and alone!

Truly, the world we live in is fearfully unconscious of its debts to the Bible. The last day alone, I believe, will tell the full amount of benefit conferred upon it by the Bible.

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When you go through deep waters and great trouble!

(J.R. Miller LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

"Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. So the people crossed over." Joshua 3:15-16

God does not open paths for us—in advance of our coming.
He does not promise to help—before help is needed.
He does not remove obstacles out of our way—before we reach them.
Yet when we are on the edge of our need—God's hand is stretched out to help us.

Many people forget this, and are forever worrying about difficulties which they foresee in the future. They expect that God is going to make the way plain and open before them, miles and miles ahead; whereas He has promised to do it only step by step as they move on.

There is a Scripture promise which reads: "When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you." You must get into the deep waters, before you can claim this promise.

Many people dread death, and lament that they have not "dying grace." Of course they will not have dying grace—when they are in good health, in the midst of life's duties, with death far in advance. Why should they have it then? Grace for duty is what they need—living grace now; then dying grace—when they come to die. When their feet are dipped in the brim of Jordan, the torrent will sink away!
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Something to ponder

Charles Spurgeon: "To suppose that temporal things are too little for our condescending God, is to forget that He observes the flight of sparrows, and counts the hairs of his people's heads. Besides, everything is so little to Him, that, if He does not care for the little, He cares for nothing."

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An arm that can never be broken!

(J.R. Miller, "A Life of Character")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!" Deuteronomy 33:27

The picture suggested is that of a little child lying in the strong arms of a father who is able to withstand all storms and dangers.

At the two extremes of life—childhood and old age, this promise comes with special assurance.

"He shall gather the lambs in His arms and carry them in His bosom" (Isaiah 40:11), is a word for the children.

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He; I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you!" (Isaiah 46:4) brings its blessed comfort to the aged.

The thought of God's embracing arms is very suggestive. What does an arm represent?
What is the thought suggested by the arm of God enfolded around His child?

One suggestion, is protection. As a father puts his arm about his child when it is in danger, so God protects His children. Life is full of peril. There are temptations on every hand! Enemies lurk in every shadow—enemies strong and swift! Yet we are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God. "Underneath are the everlasting arms!"

Another thought, is affection. The father's arm drawn around a child, is a token of love. The child is held in the father's bosom, near his heart. The shepherd carries the lambs in his bosom. John lay on Jesus' bosom. The mother holds the child in her bosom, because she loves it. This picture of God embracing His children in His arms, tells of His love for them—His love is tender, close, intimate.

Another thought suggested by an arm, is strength. The arm is a symbol of strength. His arm is omnipotence. "In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength" (Isaiah 26:4). His is an arm that can never be broken! Out of this clasp, we can never be taken. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" (John 10:28)

Another suggestion is endurance. The arms of God are "everlasting." Human arms grow weary even in love's embrace; they cannot forever press the child to the bosom. Soon they lie folded in death.

A husband stood by the coffin of his beloved wife after only one short year of wedded happiness. The clasp of that love was very sweet—but how brief a time it lasted, and how desolate was the life that had lost the precious companionship!

A little baby two weeks old was left motherless. The mother clasped the child to her bosom and drew her feeble arms about it in one loving embrace; the little one will never more have a mother's arm around it.

So pathetic is human life—with its broken affections, its little moments of love, its embraces that are torn away in one hour. But these arms of God, are everlasting arms! They shall never unclasp!

There is another important suggestion in the word "underneath." Not only do the arms of God embrace His child—but they are underneath—always underneath! That means that we can never sink, for these arms will ever be beneath us!

Sometimes we say the waters of trouble are very deep, like great floods they roll over us. But still and forever, underneath the deepest floods—are these everlasting arms! We cannot sink below them, or out of their clasp!

And when death comes, and every earthly thing is gone from beneath us, and we sink away into what seems darkness—out of all human love, out of warmth and gladness and life—into the gloom and strange mystery of death; still it will only be into the everlasting arms!

This view of God's divine care is full of inspiration and comfort. We are not saving ourselves. A strong One, the mighty God—holds us in His omnipotent clasp! We are not tossed like a leaf on life's wild sea, driven at the mercy of wind and wave. We are in divine keeping. Our security does not depend upon our own feeble, wavering faith—but upon the omnipotence, the love, and the faithfulness of the unchanging, the eternal God!

No power in the universe can snatch us out of His hands! Neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come—can separate us from His everlasting arms!
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Something to ponder

Charles Spurgeon: "You will never know the fullness of Christ, until you know the emptiness of everything but Christ."

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They want to keep just as near to Sodom as possible!

(J.R. Miller, "The Outcome of Lot's Choice" 1908)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

"Run for your lives! Do not stop anywhere in the plain. Do not look back! Escape to the mountain, or you will die!" Genesis 19:17

This is still the gospel message. We are in danger of God's judgment, and must escape from it—if we would live. We must not stay anywhere in all the plain of sin—for there is no safe spot, no shelter anywhere, no place where the fires of judgment will not fall.

Some people would like to compromise; they are willing to flee from some sins, but not from others. There are some professed Christians who like to stay on the borders of their old life. They are continually asking whether they can do this or that, go here or there—and still be Christians. They want to keep just as near to Sodom as possible—so as not to be burnt up in Sodom's destruction! The answer to all such questions is, "Run for your lives! Do not stop anywhere in the plain. Do not look back! Escape to the mountain, or you will die!" Even the borders are unsafe! The only safe place is the mountain, the mountain where Christ's Cross stands!

Lot's wife 'looked back'. There had been a specific command, "Do not look back!" Why Lot's wife looked back is not explained. Was it curiosity to see the nature of the terrible destruction that she heard roaring behind her? Or was it her dismay as she thought of her beautiful home, with all its wealth of furnishing and decoration, and all her jewels and garments and other possessions—which were now being consumed in the great conflagration?

It would seem to be, that she was appalled at the thought of leaving and losing all her beloved possessions, and paused in her flight and looked back, with the hope that possibly she might yet run back and snatch some of the ornaments or gems—something, at least, from the awful destruction. "But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt!"

"Remember Lot's wife!" Luke 17:32. We should not miss the 'lesson' which our Lord Himself teaches us from the tragic fate of this woman: we cannot have both worlds! Lot's wife could have escaped with her husband and her daughters, but she could escape only by resolutely and determinedly leaving everything she had in Sodom. Her love for her possessions, cost her her life!

Just so, there are thousands today, to whom God's message comes: "Run for your lives! Do not stop anywhere in the plain. Do not look back! Escape to the mountain, or you will die!" They somewhat desire to follow Christ, but their love for the world is so intense that they cannot give it up—they cannot renounce it. They must decide, however, which they will renounce: Christ or the world. They cannot keep both!

In Lot's wife, we have an example of one who was almost saved—and yet lost! She was lost because she loved the world.

"Remember Lot's wife!"
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Something to ponder

Jeremiah Burroughs: "There is more evil in the least sin, than in the greatest affliction!"

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There must be a Divine alteration of disposition

(John Angell James LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
 The old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!"
    2 Corinthians 5:17

There must be a Divine alteration of disposition. Our . . .
  views and tastes,
  pains and pleasures,
  hopes and fears,
  desires and pursuits
—must be changed!

We must be brought to love God supremely, for His holiness and justice, as well as for His mercy and love; to delight in Him for His transcendent glory, as well as for His rich grace.

We must have a perception of the beauties of holiness, and love Divine things for their own excellence.

We must mourn for sin, and hate it for its own evil nature—as well as its dreadful punishment.

We must feel delight in the salvation of Christ, not only because it delivers us from Hell—but makes us like God, and all this in a way which honors and glorifies Jehovah.

We must be made partakers of true humility and universal love, and feel ourselves brought to be of one mind with God, in willing and delighting in the happiness of others.

We must be brought to feel an identity of heart with God's cause, and to regard it as our honor and happiness to do anything to promote the glory of Christ in the salvation of sinners.

We must feel a longing desire, a hungering and thirsting after holiness—as well as come to a determination to put away all sins, however gainful or pleasant.

We must have a tender conscience, that shrinks from and watches against little sins, secret faults, and sins of neglect and omission—as well as great and scandalous offences.

We must love the people of God, for God's sake, because they belong to Him and are like Him.

We must practice the self-denying duty of mortification of sin, as well as engage in the pleasing exercises of religion.

Nothing less than such a view of Christ in His glorious mediatorial character, and such a dependence by faith upon His blood and righteousness for salvation—as changes the whole heart, and temper, and conduct, and throws the world as it were into the background, and makes glory hereafter, and holiness now, the supreme concern—is saving religion!

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Dethroned, but not destroyed!

(John Angell James, "Christian Progress" 1853)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." Romans 7:18

A Christian is truly regenerated, but at the same time only partially sanctified.

Sin is dethroned, but not destroyed!

His predominant taste and disposition are holy, but godly principles may not yet have struck their roots very deep into his soul.

His holy purposes are somewhat vacillating, and his inclinations to evil sometimes strong.

We have the burden of our fleshly corruptions to carry, which without great labor and effort, will sadly retard us in our Christian lives.

We are like a traveler who is on a smooth road, has fine weather, is intimately acquainted with the way, and has agreeable and helpful companions—but who at the same time is very lame, or has a load to carry. His lameness or his load will be a great delay to him. His attention must be directed to these things. He must cure the one or lighten the other, or he will make slow progress.
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Something to ponder

"The church is infected and enfeebled with worldliness!" John Angell James

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Spiritual beauty

(J.R. Miller, "Strength and Beauty")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

"Worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth!" Psalm 96:9

"Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." Psalm 90:17

Paul enjoins that, "whatsoever things are lovely" shall be in the vision of life, into which we aim to fashion our character.

We are to follow in the footsteps of our Master. Jesus Himself was, "Altogether lovely!" Song of Songs 5:16

Humanity was made to be beautiful. God's ideal for man was spotless loveliness; man was made at first, in God's image. But sin has left its foul trail everywhere! We see something of its debasement wherever we go. What ruins sin has wrought!

All of Christ's work of grace, is towards the restoration of the beauty of the Lord in His people.

Spiritual beauty is holiness. Nothing unclean is lovely. Character is Christ-like, only when it is beautiful.

All the precepts of the Bible are towards the fashioning of beauty in every redeemed life. We are to put away . . .
  all that is sinful,
  all marring,
  every blot and blemish,
  every unholy desire, feeling and affection,
  everything that would defile—
and put on whatsoever is lovely and Christ-like.

The one great work of Christ in Christian lives, is the fashioning of holiness in them. We are to grow away from . . .
  our deformities,
  our faults,
  our infirmities,
  our poor dwarfed stunted life
—into spiritual beauty!

The mark set before us is the likeness of Christ, which at last, we shall attain! "We know that when He appears—we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is! And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." 1 John 3:2-3
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Something to ponder

Charles Spurgeon: "You may look down with contempt on some who do not know as much as you, and yet they may have twice your holiness and be doing more service to God!"

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Motes and beams!

(J.R. Miller LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

There is a duty of fault-finding. The Master Himself teaches it. In the Sermon on the Mount, He makes it very plain. We must note carefully, however, where the duty begins. We are to look first after our own faults. "Why do you look at the mote that is in your brother's eye—but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?"

We must consider the beam that is in our own eye!

The form of this question suggest that we are naturally inclined to pay more attention to flaws and blemishes in others, than in ourselves; and also that a very small fault—a mere mote of fault in another person, may seem larger to us than a blemish many times greater in ourselves!

Of course it is far easier to see other people's faults, than our own. Our eyes are set in our head in such a way, that we can look at our neighbor, better than at ourselves. Yet we all have faults of our own. Most of us have quite enough of them to occupy our thought, to the exclusion of our neighbor's faults—if only we would give them our attention.

Really, too, our own faults ought to interest us, more than our neighbor's, because they are our own; and being our own, we are responsible for them. We do not have to answer for any other one's sins, but we must answer for our own sins, "Each one must give an account of himself."

Also, the responsibility for getting rid of them, is ours. No faithful friend, no wise teacher, can cure our faults for us. If ever they are taken out of our life—it must be by our own faith, our own firm, persistent effort.

It is a fact, that the faults which we usually see and criticize in others—are the very faults which are the most marked in us! In our judgment of others, we show a miniature of ourselves. If this is true, we should be careful in judging others, for in doing so we are only revealing our own faults! This should lead us also to close scrutiny of our own life, to get rid of the things in us which are not beautiful.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:23-24
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Something to ponder

Arthur Pink: "To reject the terms of the Gospel in order to gratify the lusts of the flesh for a brief season, and then suffer forever and ever in the Lake of Fire, is the height of madness! Nothing can extenuate the wickedness of him who prefers the drudgery of Satan to the freedom there is in Christ."

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We fritter away days, weeks, months!

(J.R. Miller LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16

"Gather up the fragments that are left over. Let nothing be wasted!" John 6:12

"Time is short!" 1 Corinthians 7:29

Time is made up of golden minutes, not one of which we should allow to be wasted! The Master said that for every idle word that men speak, they must give account. This can be no less true of idle minutes or hours.

Most of us live as if we had a thousand years to stay here in this world! We loiter away the golden hours of our little days, as if the days were never to end! We do not see how swiftly the sun is whirling toward his setting, while our work is but half done, our task perhaps scarcely begun!

We fritter away days, weeks, months—not noticing how our one little opportunity of living in this world is being worn off, as the sea eats away a crumbling bank until its last shred is gone! We set slight value on time, forgetting that we have only a hand-breadth of it—and then comes eternity!

Many of us fail to appreciate the value of 'single days'. "A day is too short a space," we say, "that it cannot make much difference if one, just one, is wasted—or idled away in pleasure!" Yet the days are links in a chain, and if one link is broken, the chain is broken. In God's plan for our life, each little day has its own load of duty.

How these lost days shame us—as they turn their reproachful eyes upon us, out of the irrevocable past!

Many people are wasteful of time. They fail to realize its value. They appear to have time in such abundance, that they dream it can never end. They do not know that a day lost, may mean misfortune or failure for them sometime in the future. They do not know that squandered hours, minutes spent in idleness—may cost them the true success of their life, bringing failure or disaster!

They should not make the mistake of imagining they have so much time, that they can afford to let days or hours or even minutes be wasted. They cannot afford to lose one golden minute of any day. We do not know what momentous issues affecting all our future, are involved in any quietest hour of any common-place day. There is 'a time for everything'—but the time is short, and when it is gone, and the thing is not done—it never can be done!

What you make of your life, you must make in a few years at the most; for the human span is short, and any day may be your last one! Every day that passes, leaves life's margin a little less for each of us. Our allotment of time is ever shortening!

There are a great many things it is not worth our while to do. Some of us spend our days in poor trivialities which bless no one, and which will add no lustre to our crown.

Therefore, waste no opportunity! Squander no moment! There is just time enough for you to live your life well—if you spend every moment of it in earnest, faithful duty. One hour lost, will leave a flaw. A life thus lived in unbroken diligence and faithfulness, will have no regrets when the end comes.

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

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Something to ponder

Charles Simeon: "Our very holiest services, no less than our grossest abominations, must be purged from guilt by the blood of Christ."

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It is the student who must learn the lesson!

(J. R. Miller, "Strength and Beauty")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling" Philippians 2:12-13

People sometimes think that salvation imparts . . .
  godly virtues,
  fine qualities of Christian character,
  lovely traits of disposition, and
  elements of spiritual beauty—
without any cost or effort to the believer himself!

Christ's followers are transformed—old things pass away, and all things become new. Those who believe in Him, are fashioned into His image. But these blessings do not come easily. The heavenly graces are not put into our life, as one might hang up lovely pictures on the walls to adorn a home! They must be wrought into our life in a sense, by our own hands. We must work out our own salvation—although it is God who works in us, both to will and to work.

For example, patience is not put into anyone's life, as one brings in a piece of new furniture. You cannot merely receive patience as a gift from God. Patience is a lesson to be learned, through long and watchful self-discipline. Christ is the teacher—but you are the student, and it is the student who must learn the lesson! Not even Christ will learn it for you, to spare you the effort. Nor can it be made an easy lesson for you. It costs to grow patient, and you must pay the price yourself!

The same is true of all the elements of a godly and worthy character.

We are always at school in this world. God is teaching us the things we need to learn. The lessons are not easy, sometimes they are very hard! But the hardest lessons are the best—for they bring out in us the finest qualities, if only we learn them well.

Those, therefore, who find themselves in what may seem adverse conditions, compelled to face hardship, endure opposition, and pass through struggle—should quietly accept the responsibility; and, trusting in Christ for guidance and strength, go firmly and courageously forward—conscious that they have now an opportunity to grow strong, and develop in themselves the qualities of worthy and noble character!
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Something to ponder

Henry Smith:
We should set the Word of God always before as our rule, and   
  believe nothing but that which it teaches, 
  love nothing but that which it prescribes,
  hate nothing but that which it forbids,
  do nothing but that which it commands.

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None of us would want to have our hearts photographed!

(J.R. Miller, "When the Song Begins" 1905)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

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

A friend is one who loves, and does not cease to love. Christ having loved His people, loves them unto the end.

One quality of true friendship, is trust. What could be more sacred than this comfort of feeling safe with a person, absolutely safe? That is the kind of friend Jesus is. You may always feel safe with Him. You may confess all your sins to Him. You may tell Him all your faults and your failures—how you denied Him the other night, how you failed to be true to Him, and all the evil thoughts of your heart; and He will be just as tender and gracious—as if you never had sinned! He loves unto the end!

None of us would want to have our hearts photographed, and the picture held up before the eyes of our neighbors! We would not want even our best friends to see a full transcript of our secret life—what goes on within us:
  the jealousies,
  the envyings,
  the bitter feelings,
  the impure thoughts,
  the meannesses,
  the selfishnesses,
  the suspicions,
  the doubts and fears!
Yet Christ sees all this unworthy inner life. He knows the worst that is in us—and loves us still! We do not need to hide our weaknesses from Him. He never withdraws His love. We may trust Him absolutely and forever!

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

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Something to ponder

Arthur Pink: How dishonoring it is unto God to have so many professing Christians eulogizing worms of the dust and using such expressions as "He is a great man," "a remarkable preacher," "a wonderful Bible teacher." What glory does the Lord get therefrom? None. No wonder the unction of the Spirit is now so generally withheld! Moreover, nothing is so apt to destroy a preacher's usefulness as to puff him up with flattery; certainly nothing is so insulting to the Spirit and more calculated to cause Him to withdraw His blessing, than such idolatrous man worship. How much better to say, "Such a preacher is highly favored of the Lord in being so gifted by Him." "The pastor was much helped by God in his sermon this morning."

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If our lives were as good as our prayers

(J.R. Miller, 1905)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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If we only tried seriously to live up to our praying, it would have a powerful effect upon our character and conduct!

There is no prayer that most Christians make oftener, than that they may be made like Christ. It is a most fitting prayer, and one that we should never cease to make. But if we very earnestly wish to be transformed into Christ's likeness—we will find the desire growing into great intensity in our daily lives, and transforming them. It will affect every phase of our behavior and conduct. It will hold before us continually, the image of our Lord, and will keep ever in our vision—a new standard . . .
  of thought,
  of feeling,
  of desire,
  of act,
  of speech.
It will keep us asking all the while, such questions as these,
"How would Jesus feel about this, if He were personally in my circumstances?
 What would Jesus do, if He were here today where I am?"

There is always danger of mockeries and insincerities in our praying for spiritual blessings. The desires are to be commended. God approves of them and will gladly bestow upon us the more grace we ask for:
  the increase in love,
  the greater faith,
  the purer heart,
  the new advance in holiness.
But these are attainments which are not bestowed upon us directly, as gifts from heaven. We have much to do in securing them. When we ask for spiritual blessings or favors, the Master asks, "Are you able to pay the price, to make the self-denial, to give up the things you love—in order to reach these attainments in holiness, in grace, in spiritual beauty?"

If our lives were as good as our prayers, we would be saint-like in character.

If we find that our prayers are beyond our living, our duty is not to lower them to suit the tenor of our living—but to bring our lives up to the higher standard of our praying!

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A secret of victorious living

(J.R. Miller, 1894)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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There is a secret of victorious living which, if people knew it, would make all of life easier for them. It may be stated thus: that as we take up any duty and go forward with it, we shall receive the strength we need to do it. There are several Divine promises that give this assurance.

One reads, "As your days, so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25. This seems to mean that the help which God gives, varies according to the necessity of the particular day. God fits His blessing, to our days.
When we are faint, He increases strength.
When we are sorrowful, He gives comfort.
When we are in danger, He grants protection.
When we are weary, He gives rest.
"As your days, so shall your strength be."


Another of Christ's promises reads, "My grace is sufficient for you." Every word of this assurance shines with radiant light.

"My grace is sufficient for you." It is Christ's grace that is sufficient. We know that He has all Divine fullness, and therefore we are sure that no human need can ever exhaust His power to give help!

"My grace is sufficient for you." It is Christ's grace that is sufficient. If it were anything else but grace, it might not give us such comfort. Grace is undeserved favor, goodness shown to the unworthy. We deserve nothing, for we are sinners. But it is Christ's grace which is sufficient, and so we can claim it.

"My grace is sufficient for you."
It is present tense—IS sufficient. Christ is always speaking personally to the one who is in any need, and saying, "My grace IS sufficient for you."

"My grace is sufficient for you." The word "sufficient" is one whose meaning expands and amplifies with the measure of the need. No necessity is so small as not to be included; and none is so great as to go beyond the capacity of the blessing that is promised.

"My grace is sufficient for you." The grace is sufficient for each of His redeemed children—"for you" the promise runs.

Life lies before us, with . . .
  its burdens,
  its duties,
  its responsibilities,
  its struggles,
  its perplexities.
It does not come to us all in one piece. God breaks our years—into months and weeks and days, and never gives us more than just a little at a time—never more than we can bear or do for the day.

If we take up the present duty or burden, we shall always have strength to do it. If we do not have strength of our own sufficient for the work or struggle, we need not falter—but should go on, just as if we had omnipotence in our arm; for as we obey God, though the task is impossible to our ability—He will sustain us by giving us all the help we need.
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Something to ponder

Thomas Watson: "Take heed of abusing this mercy of God. To sin because mercy abounds, is the devil's logic! He who sins because of God's mercy, shall have judgment without mercy!"

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The burning of these old Ephesian books!

(J.R. Miller, "Paul's Message for Today" 1904)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number of them who had been practicing magic brought their books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars!" Acts 19:18-19

One proof of the power of Christianity, was in the way these new believers at Ephesus renounced their evil ways and gave up their profitable sins. They saw the emptiness and folly of the things in which they had been trusting, and openly confessed the sinful deeds they had been doing. Many of them who had been engaged in the practice of magic arts, brought their books together and made a bonfire of them in the public square.

Always, those who follow Christ should be ready to part with whatever is sinful in their life and work, that Christ may be honored above all. Sins kept in the heart—poison the life, hide God's face, and shut out blessing. No matter what it may cost, our sins must be sacrificed, or they will destroy us!

The burning of these old Ephesian books suggests that we should have bonfires of our evil books. There are many books which ought to be burned! They carry in them Satan's poison! To read them is to debauch our own souls. To put them into the hands of others, is to ruin them.
 

In India, a man took down a book from the shelf—and a viper came out of the book and stung him to death! Just so, there are many books in which deadly vipers lie hidden! We should be most careful in choosing the books we read. A good book is a great blessing, but a bad book is a curse!
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Something to ponder

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: "I am not afraid of being charged, as I frequently am, of trying to frighten you, for I am definitely trying to do so. If the wondrous love of God in Christ Jesus and the hope of glory is not sufficient to attract you—then such is the value I attach to the worth of your soul, that I will do my utmost to alarm you with a sight of the terrors of Hell!"

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It is never safe to make pets of tigers!

(J.R. Miller, "The Story of Cain and Abel" 1908)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast." Genesis 4:5

"Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him!" Genesis 4:8

See here, the fearful growth of the evil feeling in Cain's heart. It was only a thought at first, but it was admitted into the heart and cherished there. Then it grew until it caused a terrible crime! We learn here, the danger of cherishing even the smallest beginning of bitterness; we do not know to what it will grow!

Some people think lightly of bad temper, laughing at it as a mere harmless weakness.
But it is a perilous mood to indulge, and we do not know to what it may lead.

"Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you!" In His reproof of Cain, the Lord likens his sin to a wild beast lying in hiding by his door, ready to leap on him and devour him. This is true of all sin which is cherished in the heart. It may long lie quiet and seem harmless, but it is only a wild beast sleeping!

There is a story of a man who took a young tiger and resolved to make a pet of it. It moved about his house like a kitten and grew up fond and gentle. For a long time its savage, blood-thirsty nature seemed changed into gentleness, and the creature was quiet and harmless.

But one day the man was playing with his 'pet', when by accident his hand was scratched and the beast tasted blood. That one taste, aroused all the fierce tiger nature, and the ferocious animal flew on his master and tore him to pieces!

So it is, with the passions and lusts of the old nature, which are only petted and tamed and allowed to reside in the heart. They will crouch at the door in treacherous lurking, and in some unguarded hour they will rise up in all their old ferocity!

It is never safe to make pets of tigers!

It is never safe to make pets of little sins!

We never know what sin may grow into—if we let it abide in our heart!

"Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him!" That is what came of the passion of envy in Cain's heart! It was left unrebuked, unrepented of, uncrushed—and in time it grew to fearful strength. Then in an evil moment, its tiger nature asserted itself!

We never know to what dreadful stature, a little sin may grow!
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Something to ponder

Charles Spurgeon: "A sitting silently at the feet of Jesus is of more worth than all the clatter of Martha's dishes."

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Manifest the life of Christ in our daily living

(J. R. Miller, "Strength and Beauty")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

True religion will manifest itself in every phase of life. We sit down in the quiet and read our Bible, and get our lesson. We know it now—but we have not as yet got it into our life, which is the thing we must really do.

Knowing that we should love our enemies, is not the ultimate thing—actually loving our enemies is.

Knowing that we should be patient is not all—we are to practice the lesson of patience, until it has become a habit in our life.

Many know the cardinal duties of Christian life, who yet have not learned to live them.
It is living them, however, that is true religion.

It must always be our aim, to live our religion—to get Christ's love in our heart, wrought out in a blessed ministry of kindness to others. Christ lives in us, and it is ours to manifest the life of Christ in our daily living.

We worship God on Sunday, in order to gather strength and grace to live for God in the six days that follow. It is evident therefore, that it is in the experiences of weekday life, far more than in the quiet of the Sunday worship and the closet—that the real tests of religion come.

It is easy to assent with our mind to the commandments, when we sit in the church enjoying the services. But the assent of the life itself can be obtained, only when we are out in the midst of temptation and duty, in contact with others. There it is, alone, that we can get the commandments wrought into ways of obedience, and lines of character. This is the final object of all Christian teaching and worship—the transforming of our life into the beauty of Christ!
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Something to ponder

Charles Spurgeon: "Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore think lightly of the Savior. He who has stood before God, convicted and condemned, with the rope about his neck—is the man . . .
  to weep for joy when he is pardoned,
  to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and
  to live to the honor of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed."

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A most valuable lesson for every Christian to learn

(J.R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible" 1908)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day." Exodus 16:4

They were not to lay up in store, but were taught to live simply by the day. When night came, they did not have a supply of food left over for the next day—but were entirely dependent upon God's new supply to come in the morning.

In this method of providing, God was teaching all future generations a lesson. When the Master gave the disciples the Lord's Prayer, He put this same thought of life into it, for He taught us to say: "Give us this day our daily bread."

This is a most valuable lesson for every Christian to learn. We should make a little fence of trust around each day, and never allow any past or future care or anxiety to break in. God does not provide in advance for our needs. We cannot get grace today—for tomorrow's duties; and if we try to bear tomorrow's cares and burdens today—we shall break down in the attempt.

TIME comes to us, not in years, not even in weeks—but in little days. We have nothing to do with 'life in the aggregate'—that great bulk of duties, anxieties, struggles, trials and needs, which belong to a year or even to a month. We really have nothing to do even with tomorrow.

Our sole business is with the one little day now passing, and the one day's burdens will never crush us; we can easily carry them until the sun goes down. We can always get along for one short day—and that is really, all we ever have.
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Something to ponder

J.C. Ryle: "Is the Bible the Word of God? Then be sure you never read it without fervent prayer for the help and teaching of the Holy Spirit. Here is the rock on which many make shipwreck. They do not ask for wisdom and instruction—so they find the Bible dark, and carry nothing away from it. You should pray for the Spirit to guide you into all truth. You should beg the Lord Jesus Christ to "open your understanding," as He did that of the His disciples. The Lord God, by His inspiration the book was written, keeps the keys of the book, and alone can enable you to understand it profitably."

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We do not have to be crucified on pieces of wood!

(J.R. Miller, "The Wider Life" 1908)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1

The godly life is not one of ease, pleasure and self-indulgence.

We are taught to present our bodies, as a living sacrifice unto God. Ancient offerings were brought to the altar, and presented dead. But the Christian sacrifice, instead of being poured out in a bloody oblation, is to be a living sacrifice of service, of love, of devotion.

The great sacrifice of Christ is both the model for all Christian life, and also its inspiration. We look at His six hours on the cross—as if that were its only act and expression. But the cross was not endured by Christ merely during those six hours on Calvary; it was in all His life, in every day and hour of it. Everything He did was in love, and love is always a living sacrifice. He was always sacrificing Himself. On Calvary, He only wrote the word out in capital letters!

The cross stands not merely for the sufferings of Christ endured in redeeming sinners—but also for the law of love and of sacrifice in every department of Christian living. It is not enough to have the cross on our churches, as a symbol of redemption; or to wear it as an ornament around our neck; the cross must be in the heart—and manifested in the life!

We talk a great deal about the love of Christ; but we must strive to illustrate it and reproduce in our own lives, in our own measure—the sweetness, the charity, the kindness and the helpfulness of Jesus Christ. The cross is everywhere. The more of the 'sacrificial' quality we get into our life, the diviner and the lovelier our life will be.

We do not have to be crucified on pieces of wood—to bear a cross, and make a living sacrifice. The cross must be in the lives of those who follow Christ; not branded on their bodies—but wrought into their character, their disposition, their conduct, their spirit! We cannot live a Christian life for a day, without coming to points of sacrifice.

The cross of Christ does not take our own cross from us—Christ does not bear our cross for us. His cross becomes the law of our life, and makes it all sacrificial. Every sacrificial thing we do, reveals the cross. The Beatitudes are all sacrificial. No one can live the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and not crucify self continually.

All sacrifice at length, blossoms into Christlike beauty, sweetness and joy.

"Take me, Lord, and use me today—as You will. I lay all my plans at Your feet. Whatever work You have for me to do, give it into my hands. If there are those You would have me help in any way—send them to me, or send me to them. Take my time, and use it just as You will."
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Something to ponder

Charles Spurgeon: "To suppose that temporal things are too little for our condescending God, is to forget that He observes the flight of sparrows, and counts the hairs of His people's heads. Besides, everything is so little to Him, that, if He does not care for the little, He cares for nothing."

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Disease, Infection, Corruption, Wounds, Plagues, Poisons, Hell! 

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(Jonathan Edwards, "Natural Men In A Dreadful Condition")

"From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores!" Isaiah 1:6

All men by nature are under the power of a mortal disease, which if it is not healed, will surely bring them to eternal death. They are under the power and dominion of sin, and sin is the mortal disease of the soul. If it is not cured, it will certainly bring them to eternal death.

The infection of the disease has powerfully seized their vital parts.
The whole head is sick, the whole heart is faint.
The infection is spread throughout the whole frame.

The very nature is corrupted, and the whole must come to ruin—if God by His mighty power does not heal the disease.

The soul is under a mortal wound; a wound deep and dreadfully ingrained.
Its roots reach the most vital parts; yes, they are principally seated there.

There is a plague upon the heart which . . .
  corrupts and destroys the source of life,
  ruins the whole frame of nature,
  and hastens an inevitable death.

There is a most deadly poison which has been infused into, and spread over, the man.
He has been bitten by a fiery serpent, whose bite issues in a most tormenting death.

Sin is that which does as naturally tend to the misery and ruin of the soul,
just as the most deadly poison tends to the death of the body.

We look upon people far gone in a consumption, or with an incurable cancer, or some dreadful malady—as in doleful circumstances.

But that mortal disease, under whose power natural men are, makes their case a thousand times more doleful. That mortal disease of natural men does, as it were, ripen them for damnation!

The wickedness of natural men tends to sink them down to Hell,
as the weight of a stone causes it to tend toward the earth.

Natural men have, as it were, the seeds of Hell within their own hearts!

Those principles of sin and corruption, which are in them, will at length breed the torment of Hell in them, and that necessarily, and of their own tendency. The soul that remains under the power of sin will at length take fire of itself. Hell will kindle in them.
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Something to ponder

"No one was ever saved because his sins were small.
 No one was ever rejected on account of the greatness of his sins.
 Where sin abounded, grace shall much more abound." Archibald Alexander

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Like priest, like people!

(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"Can a blind man lead a blind man?
 Will they not both fall into the ditch?" Luke 6:39

I know of no surer way of a people's perishing, than by being led by one who does not speak out straight, and honestly denounce sin. If the minister halts between two opinions, do you wonder that the congregation is undecided? If the preacher trims and twists to please all parties, can you expect his people to be honest?

Like priest, like people!
A cowardly preacher suits hardened sinners. Those who are afraid to rebuke sin, or to probe the conscience, will have much to answer for. May God save you from being led into the ditch by a blind guide!

And yet is not a mingle-mangle of Christ and Belial the common religion of the day?
Is not worldly piety, or pious worldliness—the current religion in England?

The people seek out a trimming teacher who is not too precise and plain-spoken, and they settle down comfortably to a mongrel faith—half truth and half error; and a mongrel worship—half dead formalism, and half orthodoxy.

God will not have a compound of world and grace. "Come out from among them," says He, "be separate; touch not the unclean thing."

"How much longer will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him! But if Baal is God, then follow Him!" There can be no alliance between the two. Jehovah and Baal can never be friends.

"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money!" Luke 16:13

All attempts at compromise in matters of truth and purity are founded on falsehood, and falsehood is all that can come of them. May God save us from such hateful double-mindedness!

"
Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds!" Hosea 4:9

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Something to ponder

Thomas Boston: "Believing, repenting, and the like, are the product of the new nature; and can never be produced by the old corrupt nature. The heart is shut against Christ: man cannot open it, only God can do it by His grace." 

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Why should we conceal the truth from them?

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(Jonathan Edwards, "Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England" 1742)

"Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?" Galatians 4:16

What has more especially given offence to many and raised a loud cry against some preachers, as though their conduct were intolerable—is their frightening poor children with talk of Hell-fire and eternal damnation. But if those who complain so loudly of this, really believe the Scriptures that all by nature are children of wrath and heirs of Hell—and that every one that has not been born again, whether he be young or old, is exposed every moment to eternal destruction—then such a complaint and cry as this betrays a great deal of weakness and inconsideration.

As innocent as children seem to us—yet if they are out of Christ, they are not so in the sight of God; but are in a most miserable condition, as well as grown up persons. They are naturally senseless and stupid, being born as the wild donkey's colt, and need much to spiritually awaken them.

Why should we conceal the truth from them? Will those children who have been dealt overly tender in this respect, and lived and died insensible of their misery till they come to feel it in Hell, ever thank parents and others for their tenderness in not letting them know their danger? If parent's love towards their children were not blind, it would affect them much more to see their children every day exposed to eternal burnings, and yet senseless of their doom; than to see them suffer the distress of that awakening which is necessary in order to escape from Hell, and which tends to their being eternally happy as the children of God.

A child that has a dangerous wound may need the painful lance, as well as grown persons; that would be a foolish pity in such a case, which should hold back the lance, and throw away the life!

I have seen the happy effects of dealing plainly and thoroughly with children in the concerns of their souls, without sparing them at all. I never knew any ill consequence of it, in any one instance!
  ~  ~  ~  ~


Something to ponder

J.C. Philpot: "The pulpit has its accomplished actors, as well as the playhouse!"

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Losses and gains!

(William Nicholson, "HEAVEN!" 1855)   LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

Paul might well say, "To die is gain!"

Most men are desirous of gain. Some make it the great object of their life, and will barter away their precious souls, for the perishable riches of the world.

Gain is the believer's great object; but remember, his gain is durable riches and righteousness.
 

He loses nothing by his espousal of true religion, but that which is evil and afflicting.

He loses sin, his greatest plague, his vilest incendiary, which has robbed him in every duty, and marred every pleasure.

He loses Satan.
Grace
puts a child of God out of Satan's possession.
Glory puts a child of God out of Satan's temptation.

He loses his fears, which have armed him against himself, and seated deep melancholy on his brow.

He loses his tears, the effect of those clouds of sorrow which have gathered in his heart, and dropped from his eyes.

He loses his crosses, the weight of which has so pressed him down, that he has not been able to look up.

He loses his poverty, which was his dishonor among men, and deprived him of many comforts.

He loses his sicknesses, which incapacitated him for duty.

He loses his cares, which wasted his spirits, and broke his rest. He loses his spiritual desertions, which were his heaviest mental sorrows, that his God for a moment should forsake him.

And he loses the weariness of lie pilgrimage, occasioned by the clouds and darkness, and storms, and enemies, which encompassed his path.

Oh yes! he loses them all! He shall see them no more, forever.
 

But his gains—who can reckon them? Paul was caught up into the third Heaven; but he informs us that the glories, the joys, the beauties, the society, the employments—are all unspeakable! Yet this we know, that the presence of Christ is the handkerchief which wipes away all tears. Yes, Christ's presence shall turn his sinful deformity into spotless purity, and his doleful lamentations into everlasting hallelujahs. Then he shall exchange . . .
  his pilgrim's staff, for a palm of victory,
  his helmet of salvation, for a crown of glory,
  his perishing tabernacle, for an incorruptible inheritance,
  and the day of his dissolution, for the day of his coronation!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

My meditation of Him shall be sweet!

(William Bridge, 1600-1670, "The Sweetness and Profitableness of Divine Meditation")

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"My meditation of Him shall be sweet!" Psalm 104:34

By meditation . . .
  your knowledge is raised;
  your memory is strengthened;
  your hearts are warmed;
  you will be freed from sinful thoughts;
  your hearts will be tuned to every duty;
  you will grow in grace;
  you will fill up all the chinks and crevices of your lives, and know how to spend your spare time and improve that for God;
  you will draw good out of evil;
  you will converse with God, have communion with God, and enjoy God.

And I ask, is not here profit enough to sweeten the voyage of your thoughts in meditation?

As meditation is the sister of reading, so it is the mother of prayer. Though a man's heart is much indisposed to prayer, yet if he can but fall into meditation on God and the things of God—his heart will soon come off to prayer.

  Begin with reading;
  go on with meditation;
  and end in prayer.

Reading without meditation is unfruitful;
meditation without reading is hurtful.
To meditate and to read without prayer upon both, is without blessing.

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2
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Something to ponder

Charles Spurgeon: "Meditation puts the telescope to the eye, and enables us to see Jesus after a better sort than we could have seen Him if we had lived in the days of His flesh. Would that our meditation were more in Heaven, and that we were more taken up with the person, the work, the beauty of our incarnate Lord."

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We make Him to be an infinite monster!

(Stephen Charnock, 1628-1680, "The Existence and Attributes of God")

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If every attribute of the Deity were a distinct member, holiness would be the soul to animate them.
Without holiness . . .
  His patience would be an indulgence to sin,
  His mercy would be a fondness,
  His wrath would be a madness,
  His power would be a tyranny,
  His wisdom would be an unworthy subtlety.
Holiness gives balance to them all.

The holiness of God is His glory and crown.
Holiness is the blessedness of His nature.
Holiness renders Him glorious in Himself, and glorious to His creatures.
"Holy" is more fixed as an epithet to His name than any other.
Holiness is His greatest title of honor.

He is pure and unmixed light—free from all blemish in His essence, nature and works.
He cannot be deformed by any evil.

The notion of God cannot be entertained without separating from Him whatever is impure and staining. Though He is majestic, eternal, almighty, wise, immutable, merciful, and whatsoever other perfections may dignify so sovereign a being—yet if we conceive Him destitute of this excellent perfection, and imagine Him possessed with the least contagion of evil, we make Him to be an infinite monster, and sully all of His perfections.

It is a contradiction for Him to be God and to have any darkness mixed with his light. To deny his purity, makes Him no God. He who says God is not holy, speaks much worse than if he said there is no God at all. Where do we read of the angels crying out Eternal or Faithful Lord God? But we do hear them singing Holy, Holy, Holy!

God swears by His holiness (Psalm 89:35).
His holiness is a pledge for the assurance of His promises.

Power is His hand,
omniscience is His eye,
mercy is His heart,
eternity is His duration,
and holiness is His beauty!

Holiness renders Him lovely and gives beauty to all His attributes.
Every action of His is free from all hints of evil. Holiness is . . .
  the crown of all His attributes,
  the life of all His decrees, and
  the brightness of all His actions.

Nothing is decreed by Him and nothing is acted by Him, that is not consistent with the beauty of His holiness.
   ~  ~  ~  ~


Something to ponder

Thomas Watson, 1620-1686:
"God is intrinsically holy, being holy in His nature without limits. 
 God is primarily holy, being the perfect and the only true pattern of holiness.
 
God is efficiently holy, being the cause of all holiness in angels and saints. 
 God is transcendently holy, being far above the capacity of holy angels and glorified saints to behold, much less fallen man."

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You are the objects of the blessed Redeemer's particular care

(William Nicholson LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

He executes all of His offices on your behalf:

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

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

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

He is a Physician to heal the diseased.

He is a Shepherd to feed and guide His flock.

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

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

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

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

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

Well may Christ be called "the Consolation of Israel," for . . .
  His unchangeable grace and mercy,
  His perfect obedience unto sin-atoning death,
  His constant divine intercession,
are replete with comfort to the lost and undone sinner.

By the power of Christ's grace . . .
  our unbelief receives a death-wound,
  our distracting fears are hushed to silence and
  we are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory,
  while in ecstasy we exclaim, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world!"

I have found Him whom my soul loves!

I've found the Pearl of greatest price!

My Christ is first, my Christ is last, my Christ is all in all!

Look, Christians, to your Redeemer, and listen to the gracious words that proceed from his mouth:

  "As the Father has loved me—so have I loved you."

  "You are my friends, if you do what I command you."

  "The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me!"

  "I am the Good Shepherd. My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand."

What more could your Lord say? Here he opens his heart to you, and declares that no good thing will He withhold from you who are united to him. Oh! contemplate the great object of your devout desires, and look to the glorious Friend who utters these promises, and guides your feeble steps.
   ~  ~  ~  ~


Something to ponder

William Nicholson: "Heaven is not to be trifled with! Hell is not to be trifled with!"

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There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest!

(William Nicholson, "HEAVEN!" 1855)   LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest!" Job 3:17

In Heaven, the Righteous will enjoy an uninterrupted repose. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." "There remains a rest for the people of God." It is not however, the repose of apathy, or of indolence, or of selfishness, to which the righteous are destined in their final glorification. It is . . .
  a rest from the burden of sin,
  a rest from the toil of labor,
  a rest from the dangers of warfare,
  a rest from the anguish of guilt,
  a rest from the torment of fear,
  a rest from the power of temptation,
  a rest from internal disquietude,
  a rest from external assault from the world.

In Heaven:
   the passions that have agitated the bosoms of mankind in the present world, will be unknown;
   the follies that have torn their very heart-strings asunder, will eternally cease;
   the woes that have depopulated empires and filled them with blood and carnage, will be no more;
   rebellion will have spent all its force;
   the iron rod of oppression will be broken;
   the battle trumpet will have blown its final blast;
   calamities will have come to a perpetual end;
   the olive branch of peace shall be continually waved on the wall of mount Zion;
   and the Prince of peace Himself shall secure its perfect tranquility.

"There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

They play with fire, and wonder why they are burned!

(J.R. Miller, "The Way of Safety", 1912)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression." Psalm 19:12, 13

Here the Psalmist prays to be kept from committing presumptuous sins. He knows the danger there is in such sins, and so pleads to be held back from them—that is, from willful, conscious, high-handed sins.

Mark the teaching, too, that these presumptuous sins spring out of the minute hidden faults. From hidden, obscure, undiscovered faults—come presumptuous sins.

A slight moral weakness—grows into an evil tendency;
and the evil tendency indulged—develops into a loathsome vice;
and the loathsome vice—ripens into a presumptuous sin!

We need to guard against carelessness concerning 'little sins'.
The hidden fault lurking in the nature, may grow into a presumptuous sin!

   Sow a thought—and you will reap an act;
   sow an act—and you will reap a habit;
   sow a habit—and you will reap a character;
   sow a character—and you will reap a destiny!


The course of sin is terrible! The little beginnings of sin, grow into appalling consequences! Be afraid of little sins and temptations.

There are some people who are always courting danger. Sin seems to have a fascination for them. One of the petitions of the Lord's Prayer is, "Lead us not into temptation." To expose ourselves needlessly to temptation, is presumption! Yet there are many who do this. They play with fire, and wonder why they are burned! They dally with 'little sins', and end in shameful degradation at the last! They pay the penalty in moral and spiritual ruin.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If you were to meet yourself on the street some morning

(J.R. Miller, 1912)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!" Psalm 139:23-24

It will be worth our while to think seriously of the things in us, that only God can see. There are sins which are hidden from ourselves, of which our conscience is not aware—our unknown errors. The evil in us which lies too deep to be discovered. There is a SELF in us, which even we ourselves do not see! There are depths of our being, into which our own eyes cannot pierce. You may say that you know of no sins, errors, or faults in yourself—and you may be sincere; still this is not evidence that you are sinless.

Our conscience is not the final court. It is not enough to have the approval of our own heart. There are errors and evils in the holiest life on earth, which only God's eye can detect. We must ask God to search us, if we would be made clean.

We cannot see our own faults, even as our neighbors can see them. There is wisdom in the wish that we might see ourselves, as others see us—for it would free us from many a blunder and foolish notion.

We are prejudiced in our own favor.
We are disposed to be charitable toward our own shortcomings.
We make all sorts of allowances for our own faults.
We are wonderfully patient with our own weaknesses.
We are blind to our own blemishes.
We look at our good qualities through magnifying glasses; and at our faults and errors with the lenses reversed—making them appear very small.
We see only the best of ourselves.

If you were to meet yourself on the street some morning
—that is, the person God sees you to be, you would probably not recognize yourself!

We remember the little story that the prophet Nathan told King David, about a rich man's injustice toward a poor man—and how David's anger flamed up. "This man must die!" cried the king. He did not recognize himself in the man he so despised, until Nathan quietly said, "You are the man!"

We are all too much like David.

If the true chronicle of your life were written in a book, in the form of a story, and you were to read the chapters over—you probably would not identify the story as your own!

We do not know our real self. We do not imagine there is so much about us that is morally ugly and foul, that is positively wicked. But God searches and knows the innermost and hidden things of our heart!

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!"
   ~  ~  ~  ~


Something to ponder

Henry Scougal, 1650-1678:
"Humility is a deep sense of our own baseness, with a hearty and affectionate acknowledgment of our owing all that we are to the divine bounty; which is always accompanied with a profound submission to the will of God, and great deadness to the glory of the world, and the applause of men."