Grace Gems for OCTOBER 2021

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If we are quick to perceive blemishes and faults in others

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

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"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye—
 and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3

It is strange how oblivious we can be of our own faults and blemishes, and how clearly we can see those of other people! One old writer says: "Men are rather more apt to use a magnifying glass to behold the faults of others, than a mirror to behold their own." A man can see a little speck of dust in his neighbor's eye, while utterly unaware of the great plank in his own eye! He observes the most minute fault in his brother, while unconscious of his own far greater faults!

We would say that a plank in a man's eye would so blind him—that he could not see the speck in another's eye. As our Lord represents it, however—the man with the plank is the very one who sees the speck and thinks himself competent to remove it!

So it is in morals. No man is so sharp at seeing a fault in another, as he who has the same or a similar fault of his own!
A vain man—is the first to detect the indications of vanity in another.
A bad-tempered person—is most apt to be censorious toward a neighbor who displays bad temper.
One with a sharp uncontrolled tongue—has the least patience with another whose speech is full of poisoned arrows.
A selfish man—discovers even specks of selfishness in others.
people—are the very first to be hurt and offended by the rudeness of a neighbor.

So it is always. If we are quick to perceive blemishes and faults in others—the probability is, that we have far greater blemishes and faults in ourselves! This truth ought to make us exceedingly careful in our judgments, and exceedingly modest in our expressions of censure—for we really are telling the world our own faults! It is wiser, as well as more in accordance with the spirit of Christ—for us to find lovely things in others, and to be silent regarding their faults!

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The darling child whom we love so much, lies dead in our arms!

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

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"Then He got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat!" Matthew 8:23-24

Had the disciples put out to sea without Christ's bidding, they would not have had the same reason to expect His protection and deliverance.

The lesson we learn here, is that storms may arise, even when we are in the plain line of Christian duty. We should not be discouraged by the difficulty or trouble which comes, and conclude that we are in the wrong path.

We see, also, that Christ's presence with His disciples does not keep the storms away. There are no promises in the Bible that Christian people shall not have trials. The Gospel builds no high walls around us, to break the force of the stormy winds. Troubles come to the Christian, just as surely as to the worldly man.

There are the storms of temptation—these sweep down with sudden and terrific power from the cold mountains of this world!

Then, there are storms of sickness, of disappointment and adversity, of sorrow—which make the waves and billows to roll over the soul.

On the Sea or Galilee, travelers say that a boat will be gliding along smoothly over the glassy surface, unbroken by a ripple—when suddenly, without a moment's warning, a tempest will sweep down, and almost instantly the boat will be tossed upon the angry waves.

Just so, do many of life's storms come. Great troubles come when we least expect them. We may be at peace in a happy home. At an hour when we think that all is calm, without warning—the darling child whom we love so much, lies dead in our arms! The friend we trusted, and who we thought would never fail us—proves false! The hopes cherished for years—wither in our hands, like flowers when the frost comes!

The storms of life are nearly all sudden surprises. They do not hang out danger-signals days before, to warn us. The only way to be ready for them, is to have Jesus with us in our boat.

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Something to ponder:

"Ah, my reader, this is the first great lesson we must learn:
  that God is the Creator, we the creature;
  that He is the Potter, we the clay." Arthur Pink

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Will worrying make matters any better?

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

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"Who of you by worrying, can add a single cubit to his height?" Matthew 6:27

So it is useless to worry! A short person cannot, by any amount of anxiety, make himself an inch taller. Why, therefore, should he waste his energy and fret his life away—in wishing he were taller?

One worries because he is too short—another because he is too tall;
one worries because he too lean—another because he is too heavy;
one worries because he has a lame foot—another because he has a mole on his face.
No amount of fretting will change any of these things!

People worry, too, over their circumstances. They are poor, and have to work hard. They have troubles, losses, and disappointments which come through causes entirely beyond their own control. They find difficulties in their environment which they cannot surmount. There are hard conditions in their lot which they cannot change.

Now why should they worry about these things? Will worrying make matters any better? Will discontent . . .
  cure the blind eye, or
  remove the ugly mole, or
  give health to the infirm body?

Will chafing make . . .
  the hard work, lighter;
  or the burdens, easier;
  or the troubles, fewer?

Will anxiety . . .
  keep the winter away, or
  keep the storm from rising, or
  put coal in the cellar, or
  put bread in the pantry, or
  get clothes for the children?

Even human reason shows the uselessness of worrying, since it helps nothing, and only wastes one's strength and unfits one for doing one's best!

The Christian gospel goes farther, and says that even the hard things and the obstacles—are blessings, if we meet them in the right spirit. They are stepping-stones lifting our feet upward—disciplinary experiences in which we grow.

So we learn that we should quietly, and with faith in God's Providence, accept life as it comes to us—fretting at nothing, yet changing hard conditions to easier ones if we can. And if we cannot, then we must use them as means for growth and advancement.

 "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:31-33

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He is never too busy!

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

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"Our Father in Heaven!" Matthew 6:9

This is the 'golden gate' of the temple of prayer!

When our Lord taught His disciples how to pray, it was thus He said they should begin. They were not to come to infinite power, or to unknowable mystery, or to inaccessible light—but to tender fatherhood. This precious name "Father" at the gateway, makes the approach to God easy and sure.

The name "Father" assures us of divine love and care. Does a true parent have care for his child? Much more does our Father in Heaven care for His children on the earth! He even cares for the birds—feeding them their daily food. He even cares for the flowers—weaving, with colorful threads, the lovely robes which they wear. He surely cares more for His children!

So the precious name "Father" assures us that we shall never be neglected nor overlooked in this great world.

The name "Father" also gives us assurance of unhindered access to the Divine presence. The children of a great earthly king are not kept waiting at their father's door, as strangers are. Just so, God's children have perfect liberty in His presence. They can never come at an untimely hour. He is never too busy to see them and to listen to their words of love and prayer. In the midst of the innumerable affairs of the vast universe, He thinks of His lowliest child! Amid all the confusion and noise of this great world, He hears and recognizes the faintest cry that rises from the lips of the least and lowliest of His little ones.

The name "Father" also interprets for us, the grace and mercy of our God. We are always conscious of sin. How, then, can we gain access to a holy God? Ah! He is our Father! We know that even an earthly father does not shut the door on his erring child. The candle is left burning in the window through the long dark nights—that the wanderer out in the blackness and longing to return, seeing the bright beams—may be assured of love and a waiting welcome. Infinitely more gracious, is "our Father in Heaven!"

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Something to ponder

Charles Spurgeon, "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. Prayer is the sacred lever which forces open the iron chest of divine mystery, that we may get the treasure hidden within!"

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If our faith stops at the cross

(J.R. Miller, "Life's Byways and Waysides")

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The women had brought spices, expecting to find Jesus' body wrapped in burial garments, lying in the tomb. "He is not here—He has risen!" said the angel. Matthew 28:6

Too many Christians look yet for their Christ, among the dead. They do not get beyond the cross and the grave. They see Christ, as only the Lamb of God who takes away their sin. They think of Him as accomplishing in His sufferings and death, the whole of His work of human redemption. They do not think of a living Christ who intercedes for them in Heaven, and who walks with them on earth in loving companionship.

The cross must never be forgotten! In a certain very real sense, Christ saved His people by giving Himself for them. The cross was the fullest, most complete revealing of divine love, which earth has ever seen! There the heart of God broke, that its streams of life might flow out to give life to the perishing world. To leave a dying Christ out of our creed, is to leave out salvation. The prints of the nails are the proof-marks on all doctrine, on all theology, on all Christian life. He who dims the luster of the cross of Christ is putting out the light of Christian hope, by which alone souls can be lighted homeward. We must never forget that Jesus died—died for us!

But if our faith stops at the cross—it misses the blessing of the fullest revealing of Christ. We do not merely need a Savior who nineteen hundred years ago went to death to redeem us—but one who also is alive, to walk by our side in loving companionship.
We need a Savior who can now hear our prayers.
We need a Savior to whose feet we can now creep in penitence, when we have sinned.
We need a Savior to whom we can now call for help, when the battle is going against us.
We need a Savior who is now interested in all of the affairs of our common life, and who can assist us in time of need.

We need a Savior who can now be our real Friend—loving us, keeping close beside us always.

We not only need a Savior who saved us by one great act wrought centuries ago—but one who continually saves us by His warm heart throbbing with love today, walking ever by our side.

Nothing less than a living Christ will do for us! That is what the gospel brings to us. It tells us of Him who lives. He was dead—the nail-prints are in His hands, but He is now alive forevermore! He is risen! He loves us now, today, always. He is ever with us!

It is only as we realize the truth of a living Christ, that our hearts are satisfied. We crave a personal friendship which will come into our life with its sympathies, its inspirations, its companionship, its shelter, its life, its comfort. All this, the living Christ is to us.

"Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them!" Hebrews 7:25

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Something to ponder

Octavius Winslow: "Christ is the Comfort—and the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, by whom the sympathy, and grace, and consolation of Christ is conveyed into our sad and disconsolate hearts."

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No book is really worth reading

(J.R. Miller, "Things That Endure")

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"Avoid every kind of evil!" 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Much is said in commendation of books. But, as in other matters, there is need for wise discrimination in what one reads. Not all books are worth reading.

There are many which are utterly empty of anything that is noble or worthy. One might read them continually all one's life—and yet be no wiser and no better. A hundred of them do not contain a dozen sentences that it is worthwhile to keep in one's memory, or that can be of any help or cheer or strength in one's life.

Then, there are books which are most pernicious in their influence. There are all grades and degrees of evil in this class. Some of them carry a subtle poison in their atmosphere which is noxious to those who breathe it. We need to keep most careful watch over our heart, so that nothing shall ever tarnish its purity. Any corrupt thought, dallied with even for a moment, leaves a stain upon the mind which may never be effaced.

If we would keep the tender joy of our heart experiences unbroken, we must hold rigid watch over our reading, conscientiously excluding not only whatever is obviously impure—but all in which lurks even a suggestion of evil.

A writer says: "Never read a book which is not worth reading, for some noble end, beyond the short-lived pleasure of a little excitement."

When we think of the influence which our reading has upon our lives, we see at once the importance of selecting only books that are worthwhile. At the best, none of us can read one book in a thousand of those which are within our reach. Surely then, this one book ought to be the best in all the thousand.

Every year, a flood of really worthless publications is poured over the country. People go into ecstasies over trivial works which please or excite them for a day—and are then old and forgotten; while books in every way admirable, are passed by unnoticed.

No book is really worth reading
, which does not either impart valuable knowledge; or set before us some ideal of beauty, strength, or nobility of character.

There are enough great books to occupy us during all our short and busy years. If we are wise, we will resolutely avoid all but the richest and the best.

(Editor's note: Reading was the primary media in J.R. Miller's day.
 The above standards apply to all media today—TV, internet, etc.)

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Something to ponder

Faith upholds a Christian under all trials by assuring him:
   that every dispensation is under the direction of his Lord;
   that all chastisements are a token of His love;
   that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings are appointed by Infinite Wisdom and designed to work for his everlasting good;
   and that grace and strength shall be afforded him according to his need. John Newton

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The goal of living in this world

(J.R. Miller, "Things That Endure")

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The goal of living in this world
, is ever to grow into more and more radiant and lovely Christ-like character—whatever our conditions or experiences may be.

We cannot escape temptations—but we are so to meet them and pass through them, as not to be hurt by them; to come out of them with new strength and new radiancy of soul.

We cannot escape trials and difficulties—but we are to live victoriously, never defeated, always overcoming.

We cannot find a path in which no sorrow shall come into our lives—but we are to live through the experience of sorrow, without being hurt by it.

Many people receive harm from the fires which pass over them. Many fall in temptation and lie in dust and defeat, not rising again. Many are soured and embittered by the difficulties, the irritations, the frictions, the cares of life. But the problem of Christian living, is to keep a sweet Christ-like spirit amid all that might embitter us—to pass through the fires, and not have the flames kindle upon us.

We live in the midst of the countless dangers through which we must pass in this world. Danger lurks in every shadow, and hides in every patch of sunshine. There are tempters all around us. Only by committing our lives day by day into the hands of Christ, can we be kept in safety amid the perils of this world. He is able to keep us from falling, to guard us from stumbling, and to set us before His presence without blemish, in exceeding joy!

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Something to ponder

"The holiness of God is the beauty of all His attributes, without which . . .
   His wisdom would be but subtlety,
   His justice would be but cruelty,
   His Sovereignty would be but tyranny,
   His mercy would be but foolish pity." Edward Leigh, 1602-1671

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Our conception of Christlikeness

(J.R. Miller, "Things That Endure")

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"That the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body." 2 Corinthians 4:10

Many 'lives of Christ' have been written—but in every Christian life, there should be a new one published. It is these lives which are needed: written not in handsomely bound volumes, with fine paper and gilt edges, and with attractive illustrations—but in men's daily lives.

It is important that we should understand how we are to manifest the life of Jesus in our own life. It is not enough to talk about Him. There are those who with silver tongue can speak of Jesus eloquently and winsomely—of whom it cannot be said, even in widest charity, that Jesus' life is relived in them.

We need more gospels in the lives of Christians—others need to see something of Christ in our own life.

What was this life of Jesus, which is to be repeated in every Christian life? Its great central characteristic was love . . .
  love full of compassion,
  love serving even to the lowliest degree and at greatest cost,
  love which was patient, forgiving, thoughtful, gentle,
  love unto the uttermost, which went to a cross to save sinners!

When we think of being like Christ—we are apt to gather out a few gentle qualities, and let these make up our conception of Christlikeness. True, He was a kindly man, a patient, quiet man; He was thoughtful, compassionate, unselfish, loving. But we must not forget that the cross is the truest symbol of the life of Jesus.

An artist was trying to improve on a dead mother's portrait. He wanted to take out the lines in her face. But the woman's son said it would not be a true portrait of his mother, if the lines were effaced. They told the story of the love, serving, and sacrifice—which made her what she was. The lines were themselves, the truest features in the whole portrait.

Just so, no picture of Jesus is true which leaves out the marks of love's cost—the print of the nails, the memorials of His suffering.

It is not enough that we point others to a historic cross standing on Calvary, far back in the centuries; they must see the cross in our own life. When we speak to our neighbors of the pity of Jesus, His eager desire to save the lost, His giving of His life as a ransom—they must see all this in us. This is the manifesting of Jesus, for which we are sent into the world.

Jesus must enter our hearts, and live out His own blessed life in us.

"Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

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Fly into the bosom of Christ for refuge and safety!

(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

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"Whoever humbles himself like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:4

It is very sweet just to nestle down in the bosom of Christ—to be as a little child with Him. Those who come otherwise do not get near to Him—but the child-like always find a close place in His heart. So the more like children we can be in our trust and in the simplicity of our faith, in humbleness of disposition, in willingness to do His will and to learn of Him—the nearer to Him shall we get, and the more shall we enjoy of His love.

Some years ago, as I was passing along one of our streets one afternoon, I heard a fluttering of birds over my head and, looking up, saw a little bird flying wildly about in circles, chased by a hawk! The bird flew down lower and lower, and then darted into my bosom, under my coat. I cannot quite express to you, the feeling which filled my heart at that moment—that a little bird, chased by an enemy, had come to me for refuge, trusting me in time of danger. I laid my hand over the bird, which nestled as quietly and confidently under my coat, as a baby would in a mother's bosom. I carried the little thing along for several blocks until I thought the way was clear of danger, and then let it out. It flew away into the air again, but showed no fear of me. Ever since that experience, I have understood better what it is to fly into the bosom of Christ for refuge and safety in time of danger, or in time of distress.

All this helps me to understand better what it means to Jesus when we, hunted and chased by enemies, or suffering from weakness or pain—fly to Him and hide ourselves in His love.

That is all we need to do—just to creep into the bosom of Christ, and lie down there, with no fear, no anxiety, but with simple trust.

The lines of Wesley's old hymn have meant more to me ever since:

"Jesus, lover of my soul,
 Let me to Thy bosom fly,

 While the nearer waters roll,
 While the tempest still is high.

 Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
 Till the storm of life is past;
 Safe into the haven guide;
 Oh, receive my soul at last.

 Other refuge have I none,
 Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
 Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
 Still support and comfort me.

 All my trust on Thee is stayed,
 All my help from Thee I bring;
 Cover my defenseless head
 With the shadow of Thy wing."

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The noblest life

(J.R. Miller, "Things to Live For" 1896)

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"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." Romans 13:8

Jesus taught that we should live, "not to be served, but to serve". This is a lesson that it is very hard to learn. It is easy enough to utter sentimental platitudes about the nobleness of service—but no one can truly live after this heavenly pattern, until his being is saturated with divine grace.

"Serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

There are countless opportunities for usefulness and helpfulness open to earnest Christians. Every day's life is full of occasions where good may be done by simple deeds, or words of kindness. The value of these unpurposed things is very great. We may live all day and every day, so that each step of our path shall be brightened by loving service. The world needs our love continually. We meet no one from morning until night, whom we may not help in some little way at least. It is possible for us to make a good deal more than most of us do, of these opportunities for the service of love.

Every individual Christian is the center of a circle whose hearts he may touch with a blessing of love. He is a custodian of blessing which he is to impart to others. The noblest life, is the one that is given up most unselfishly to serving.

God has so ordered that we cannot love and serve Him, and not also love and serve our fellow-men. Jesus made this very plain in His picture of the last judgment, when He said that He is hungry in every hungry little one of His; that He is sick in every least one of His who is sick; that in the stranger who comes to our door He stands before us, waiting for the hospitality of love.

In serving His people, we are serving Him!
In neglecting His people, we neglect Him!

We cannot fulfill our duty of loving Christ and serving Him, while we ignore our fellow-men. He accepts no such service. If we say we love Him—He points to the needy, the hungry, the sick, the burdened ones, the suffering all about us, and says: "Show your love to My people. I do not need service now, but these need it. Serve them in My name. Look at each one of them as if I were Myself the one in pain or need—and do for these, My brethren, just what you would do for Me if I were actually in their condition."

To act selfishly toward a believer, is to act selfishly toward Christ.
To neglect a believer who needs our help, is to neglect Christ Himself.
To do good to any in Christ's name, is to serve Christ Himself.
We must look upon every believer, as if he were Christ.

We dare not pass by anyone carelessly. We know not to whom we may have a duty of love. We are always safe in assuming that we have an errand of love to everyone we meet. We need not announce our mission, and we must never display ostentation in the discharge of our duty of love. We need only to hold ourselves in readiness, with all of love's humility, alacrity, and gentleness—to do whatever heart or hand may find to do in serving him. Our duty to him may be nothing more than the showing of kindness in our manner, the giving of a hearty greeting, or the inspiration of a cheerful countenance. But however small the service may be which it is ours to render, it is a divine ministry!

No mere theoretical acknowledgment of this universal obligation will avail. Lofty sentiment is not enough; we must get the sentiment into practical life. We must bring our visions down out of ethereal mists, into something substantial and real. We must let the love of our heart, flow out in life, and act, and helpful ministry. In this world in which there is so much need, sorrow, and heart-hunger—loving service has a holy mission everywhere. If we would be Christlike, we must, like our Master, go about doing good. "I am among you as the One who serves." Luke 22:27

We can learn this divine lesson of service by regarding every person we meet, as one to whom we are sent on an errand of love. This will put an end to all our supercilious pride and haughtiness. We shall no more set ourselves up on little pedestals of self-conceit, demanding homage from others. Rather, like our Master, we shall stand with basin and towel, ready to wash the feet of the lowliest.

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Pithy gems from Thomas Brooks

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Christian! Consider that the trials and troubles, the calamities and miseries, the crosses and losses that you meet with in this world—are all the Hell that you shall ever have!
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The seed of all sins, the vilest and worst of sins—is in the best of men!
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He who will play with Satan's bait, will quickly be taken with Satan's hook!
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A preacher's life should be a commentary upon his doctrine.
Heavenly doctrines should always be adorned with a heavenly life.
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The greatest and the hottest fires that ever were on earth are but ice—in comparison to the fire of Hell!

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The two poles could sooner meet—than the love of Christ and the love of the world.

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You have only just begun!

(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

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Dear friend,
You say that you cannot live up to the things you read in the Bible and in Christian books. I know of no one who can do so. The Bible sets before us very lofty ideals—so lofty that we cannot reach them in a day or a month or in twenty-five years. So long as you may live, and if you spend every year in striving toward the best things—you will still find that you have not fully attained them.

Paul was a great deal better Christian than most of us, and he said when he was quite an old man, that he was not yet perfect—but was still striving after the things which he wished to attain. We never measure up to our ideals. We never are so holy any day, as we intend to be in the morning when we set out.

We certainly fall very far below God's requirements. If we did not, there would be no special need of a Savior. Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem us and save us—because we cannot live up to the requirements of His divine law.

You must not judge yourself, therefore, too severely. Christ does not. He is very patient with our slow progress. Always do your best every day, and you will do better still tomorrow.

Make every day as beautiful as you can—pure and true and holy, with obedience and love. Then next day can be made a little better than this one, and so on through every day, unto the end.

Yet you will still find on the last evening of your life, that you have very much to attain, that really you have just begun to be a Christian. I think it was Rubinstein, the great musician, who said at the close of a long life devoted to intense musical work, "I have just begun to know music."

It is so in Christian life. If you live to be eighty years old, growing every day more and more holy, you can say then no more than that you have begun—just begun, to know Christ and to know how to live a Christian life.

Remember that you will never reach your goal, until you leave this poor world and enter upon the perfect life in Heaven.

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 3:13-14

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You shall love him!

(J. R. Miller, "Loving Your Neighbor")

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"You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Mark 12:31

What is it to love our neighbor? It is the loving that is hard. We could do almost anything else, short of loving unpleasant neighbors.

But love is the word—and no revised version changes it. No matter how disagreeable, unlovely, unworthy, our neighbors may be—still the commandment persistently and relentlessly says to us, "You shall love him!"

Our neighbors are around us all the time, needing our love. Indeed, they touch our lives so continually, that we must guard our every look, word, and act—lest we hurt some sensitive spirit.

Some people seem to forget that other people have feelings. They are constantly saying words and doing things which give pain. True love is thoughtful. We ought to train our hearts to the most delicate sense of kindness, that we may never, even jokingly, give pain to any other human being.

Our neighbors have hearts, and we owe to every one of them—the beggar we meet on the street, the degraded wretch we find crawling in the mire of sin's debasement, the enemy who flings his insults in our face—to every one, we owe the love that is thoughtful, gentle, and gives no hurt.

Our love ought also to be patient. Our neighbor will have his faults. But we are taught to bear with one another's infirmities.

If we knew the story of men's lives, the hidden burdens they are often carrying, the unhealed wounds in their heart—we would have most gentle patience with them. Life is hard for most people, certainly hard enough without our adding to its burdens—by our criticisms, our jeering and contempt, and our lack of love.

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We blunder and stumble in our holiest endeavors

(J.R. Miller, "Life's Byways and Waysides")

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"David served his own generation by the will of God." Acts 13:36

It gives dignity and also sacredness to our life—to be serving our generation. Every true-hearted Christian, realizing this truth, seeks to work out God's will in his own character and life. Of course, we cannot do this perfectly, for nothing human is perfect. The artist fails to put all his vision into his picture.
In all our life we do, even at our best, but a little of the beautiful work we intend and plan. We blunder and stumble in our holiest endeavors. Our clumsy hands mar the lovely ideals which our soul envisions. We set out in the morning with high resolves—but our evening confessions tell of many a shortcoming. We never live any day as well as we know we should live.
Yet there is a sense in which, without attaining perfection, a Christian may fulfill God's plan for himself. One of the most interesting illustrations of such a life is David's. The Lord says, "I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who shall fulfill all My will." Then in another sentence, we catch the secret of this life which was so complete. We are told that "David served his own generation by the will of God." It is worth our while to look closely at this inspired description of a life which so pleased God, in order that we may learn how to work out the divine will for ourselves.

David "served". Serving is not a favorite word. We naturally resent the idea of serving. It seems to have an ignoble meaning. But really, it is one of the most royal of words. One who has not begun to serve, has not begun to live a godly life! God never yet made a life for selfishness. Jesus came to show us the perfect divine ideal of human living, and He served unto the very uttermost. "I came not to be served—but to serve," was His own declaration of His life's central thought and purpose. When they asked Him who was greatest in His kingdom, He said, "the one who serves." We are to live . . .
  not to get, but to give;
  not to be helped, but to help;
  not to receive, but to bestow.

David served his own generation. Our generation is the entire human family living at the present time on the earth. How can any man serve all his own generation? There are hundreds of millions of people he can never see—how can he do anything for these? One way of serving our own generation, is to fill well the little place which we are assigned in God's providence. We can do most to bless the world at large, by being a true blessing to the little circle in the midst of which we are placed!

Another way in which one may serve his generation, is by giving to it something which will enrich it, which will add to its happiness and good, which will make it better, purer.

Another way in which one may serve his generation, is by showing it an example of godly living:
  patience, under trial; 
  purity and uprightness, under temptation; 
  love and meekness, under injury and wrong;
and thus, be a purifying, uplifting, enriching influence in the world.

We say we are but little people, and can fill only a little place. We cannot serve our generation in the same large way in which David served his. Yet each individual life has its own distinct place in the plan of God, and each may fill out its own pattern. Even the smallest life lived well, blesses the world.

Every godly deed we do—makes it a little easier for others to do godly deeds, and lifts the standard of living among men a little higher.

Many people are oppressed and disheartened, by the seeming smallness and insignificance of their life. But we can serve our generation by . . .
  lightening one burden,
  making one heart nobler and stronger,
  comforting one sorrow,
  guiding one perplexed soul into peace,
  showing one bewildered child the path of holiness,
  teaching one tempted person how to overcome sin!

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It takes both of these elements to make true religion

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

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"Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was just and devout" Luke 2:25

He was just in all his dealings with men—and devout in his dealings toward God. It takes both of these elements to make true religion.

Some people are just—and not devout! They are scrupulously honest in all their dealings—and yet they never think of God, or of their duties to Him. They do not bow to Him in prayer, nor do they ever lift their hearts to Him in praise. They do not love Him. They confess no obligations to Him. Their whole religion simply is honesty toward their fellow-men—while they utterly ignore God, their Creator and Redeemer, in Whom they live, from Whose grace every blessing in their lives flows, and upon Whom they are dependent every moment for breath and existence. It is readily seen, that such religion is no religion at all.

While we are just and honest in our transactions with men—it is to God that we owe the first and highest duties. We are His creatures; we are saved, if at all, by His grace; we owe to Him obedience, faith, love, honor, service. So we must be devout as well as just.

On the other hand, there are some people who profess to be devout—who are not just! They attend upon ordinances, they sing and pray; and then they go out into the week-day world, and are hard, unjust, greedy, and oppressive! It is very evident that this kind of religion does not please God. He wants our praise and honor—but He wants us to honor Him by our lives and actions, as well as by our lips.

There are two tables of commandments; and the second table commandments are as binding as the first. We are to love God with all our heart (the first table)—but we are also to love our neighbor as ourselves (the second table). While we are devout toward God—we are to be honest, true, unselfish toward men.

The two things must go together, and must never be torn asunder!

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Cut it off!

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

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"If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled—than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire!" Matthew 18:8

Our life is so full of temptation and peril, that even its best things may become stumbling-blocks. Our very qualities of strength, may become fatal forces driving us to eternal ruin.

Human beauty
is a blessing from God—and yet beauty has proved a snare to many a woman, drawing her away from God.

Ability to make money
is a perilous gift, which has led many a man to spiritual ruin. It is better to altogether throw away the money-making ability, and go poor through life with the talent wasted and shriveled, and reach Heaven—than to exercise the ability and grow rich, and be lost forever! These are illustrations of our Lord's meaning when He speaks of 'cutting off' the hand or the foot which causes us to sin.

The appetites, desires, and affections—are part of the glory of humanity; and yet, when they are unbridled, they have whirled many a noble life to eternal destruction!

A steam-boat came into port which had long been out on the sea. An accident had happened which caused delay. The coal gave out; then all that would burn—cargo, stores, furniture—had to be burned up, in order to bring the vessel home. At last she gained the shore, but stripped of everything of value. Yet it was better to burn up all her cargo and stores, than perish at sea.

Just so, some men can get to Heaven, only by sacrificing every earthly pleasure and crucifying every sinful desire; but who will say that the prize is not worth the sacrifice?
The hand would be better chopped off, than steal or strike down another.
The foot would be better cut off, than carry one into crime or sin.
The eye would be better plucked-out, than by its lustful gazing set the soul on fire.
A man on a wrecked vessel had better throw his bags of gold into the sea and have his life saved—than hold on to the gold and sink into the waves!

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What shall we ask God to do?

(J.R. Miller, "The Glory of the Commonplace")

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"We do not know what we should pray for as we ought." Romans 8:26

A minister sat with a father and mother by the bed of a child who was hovering between life and death. He was about to pray for the little sufferer, and turning to the parents he asked, "What shall we ask God to do?" After some moments the father answered, with deep emotion: "I would not dare to choose—leave it to God."

Would it not be better always to leave the decision to God, letting Him choose what it is best for Him to do for us or to give to us? We are not in the world to always have ease and pleasure, to always succeed, to do great things—we are here to grow into strength and beauty of life and character, to accomplish the will of God, and to have that will wrought out in our own life. Ofttimes . . .
  the present must be sacrificed for the future,
  the earthly given up to gain the heavenly, and
  pain endured for the sake of spiritual refining and enriching.
Christ does not seek to take away the burden—rather, He would make us strong and brave to bear it.

If we are willing to let God choose for us, and accept what He gives—we shall never fail to receive the best. Perhaps not what the world would call the best—but always God's best. We do not know what we should pray for as we ought, and we had better leave it to God.

We should be content to leave the guidance and choices of our lives in His hands. Think how wise He is—knowing all things, knowing how to choose the best for us. Who does not know that this is better, safer, wiser than if we were to choose the way for ourselves?

The truest prayer is often that in which we creep into the bosom of God and rest there in silence. We do not know what to ask, and we dare not say even a word, lest it might be the wrong word, hence we simply wait before God in quietness and confidence. We know that what is best—our Father will do, and we trust Him to do what He will.

We are sure that God could relieve us of the things which are so hard for us to bear—could, if He desired to. This is God's world, and nothing can get out of His hands. All we have to do is to lay our need before the throne of mercy, and to let God answer us as He will.

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A beautiful story is told of a devout home in which were twin boys who were greatly beloved. In the absence of the father, both boys suddenly died. When the father returned, not knowing of the sorrow in his home, the mother met him at the door and said, "I have had a strange visitor since you went away."

"Who was it?" asked the father, not suspecting her meaning.

"Five years ago," his wife answered, "a friend lent me two precious jewels. Yesterday he came and asked me to return them to him. What shall I do?"

"Are they his?" asked the father, not dreaming of her meaning.

"Yes, they belong to him and were only lent to me."

"If they are his, he must have them again, if he desires."

Leading her husband to the boys' room, the wife drew down the sheet, uncovering the lovely forms, as white as marble.

"These are my jewels," said the mother. "Five years ago God lent them to me, and yesterday He came and took them back again."

"Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed: My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will—but as You will." Matthew 26:39

"O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it—may Your will be done." Matthew 26:42

 "May the Lord's will be done." Acts 21:14

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God has three axes!

(J.R. Miller

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God has three axes!
One He uses in pruning His trees, that the fruitful branches may bring forth more fruit. The work of this axe is not judgment or destruction—but mercy and blessing. It is the good, the fruitful tree—which feels its keen edge. "Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:2

Then God has another axe, which He uses only in judgment in cutting down those trees which after all His culture of them, bring forth no fruit. "The axe already lies at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit, will be cut down and thrown into the fire!" Matthew 3:10. The picture is very suggestive. The axe at the tree's root, or raised in the woodman's hand to strike—shows that judgment impends, hangs ready to fall. At any moment, the tree may be cut down! "Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil!" Luke 13:7

The axe of death really lies all the while, at the root of every life. There is not a moment when it is not true, that there is but a step between us and death! Life is all very critical. There is not a moment in any day, on which may not turn all the destinies of eternity. It certainly is an infinitely perilous thing, for an immortal soul to rest an hour with the axe of judgment waiting to strike the blow which will end the day of mercy forever! Only supremest folly can blind men to such vital interests!

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Yes, I tell you, fear Him!

(Paul Washer)

God does not throw sin into hell.
He throws the sinner into hell.

Hell is hell not because God is not there.
Hell is hell because God is there in the fullness of his wrath.

This is the God of Scripture!

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 
 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing
 of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!"
Luke 12:4-5

"It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" Hebrews 10:31

"For our God is a consuming fire!" Hebrews 12:29

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A time to laugh!

(J.R. Miller)

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"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:13

"All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast!" Proverbs 15:15

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22

"I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live." Ecclesiastes 3:12

"There is a time to weep—and a time to laugh; a time to mourn—and a time to dance" Ecclesiastes 3:4

There is no inconsistency between holiness and laughter. It is no sin to smile. Indeed, a somber religion is unnatural. Gloom is morbidness. Our lives should be sunny and songful. Christ's religion is joyous, even amid sorrows. We hear songs in the night.

There is a flower which is most fragrant after the sun has set, and in the darkness pours its richest aroma on the air. Just so, true religion grows in sweetness—as the shadows deepen. He misrepresents Christianity and the likeness of the Master—whose piety is cold, dreary, cheerless, joyless, or who frowns upon innocent gladness and pure pleasures.

Sanctified wit has a blessed mission. Life is so hard, so stern, with so many burdens and struggles—that there is need for all the bright words we can speak. The most wretched people in the world are those who go about in sackcloth, carrying all their griefs in their faces and casting dark shadows everywhere. Every Christian should be a happiness-maker. We need a thousand times more joy in our lives, than most of us get. We would be better men and women, if we were happier.

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." Proverbs 15:30

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." Proverbs 12:25

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The eye of God is ever upon us!

(J.R. Miller)

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A flower blooms no more sweetly, because it is gazed at by an admiring crowd. It would be just as lovely, if it grew in the depths of a great forest where no eye ever saw it.

The stars look down with as much brilliancy into the desert, where no one looks up at them—as into the streets of the great city where thousands behold them.

The sea breaks with as much majesty on an uninhabited shore—as where its waves kiss the feet of multitudes.

It is just so in all true Christian life and work. When one is doing any great thing, and shows by his attitude that he is conscious of it—more than half the greatness is gone from the performance. When a man knows that he is living a life that is very great in its service, when he is conscious that he is being noticed by others—much of the glory is gone from his life. We should live just as sweetly and beautifully when no one is looking upon us to see our deed and praise our life—as when all the world is beholding. The eye of God is ever upon us, and it is His approval and commendation that we should always seek to deserve.

It is said of the great sculptor, Michael Angelo, that when at work he wore a little lamp fastened on his cap, in order that no shadow of himself might fall upon his work. Just so, we need to take care that no shadows of ourselves, of our pride, our ambition, our self-seeking—shall fall upon our work for Christ.

To labor in Christian work, that we ourselves may have the glory—is to dim and darken the beauty of all we do, and also to make ourselves vessels unfit for the Master's use. We are ready for the most sacred of all ministries, only when we are content to be nothing, that Christ may be all in all.

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets—to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4

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They only think of amusements and entertainments!

(J.R. Miller)

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Some people seem never to have any serious thoughts of life. They only think of amusements and entertainments, and never get beyond the airy surface of things. But to one who thinks deeply, life is not all a round of selfish and empty pleasures.

A traveler who tarried several days at Antwerp, describes the effect which the bells in the great tower had upon him. Every quarter hour they rang out on the air their sweet notes, in soft melody, which fell like a delicious rain of music dropping from the heavens, as tender and holy as the song of angels. Then at the full hour, amid their shower of liquid notes of silver—rang out the solemn strokes of the great bell, with iron tongue, deep and heavy; and these heavy tones inspired him with a feeling of awe.

As he listened hour after hour to the chime—the tender melody of the smaller, sweeter bells reminded him of the mercy and love of God; and the solemn undertones that broke on his ear at the end of each full hour, spoke of the solemn themes of justice, judgment, eternity.
So it is, that every thoughtful person is impressed in reading the Scriptures. Their usual tone is mercy. Love rings everywhere, like the notes of angels' songs. But here and there, amid the words of divine tenderness—comes some deep note, telling of justice, of wrath against sin, of the dreadful judgment day!

It is the same in life. The flow of the common days, is gladness. There is music everywhere. Flowers' bloom. Love lights its lamp in our path. Then suddenly there breaks in, amid the merry laughter—a deep and solemn tone, which fills us with awe.

Life is not all gaiety. Even now, its undertone is serious. We should be thoughtful. Eternity lies close to time. The momentous things of judgment, are hidden only by a thin veil of mist.

"It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27

"Prepare to meet your God!" Amos 4:12

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The making of Christian character

(J.R. Miller)

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It used to be a custom for travelers in Switzerland to bring home clusters of the edelweiss. The flower is not sought because of its beauty or for its fragrance, but in recognition of its hardiness and victoriousness in living and blooming under very difficult conditions. It grows on the Alps and Pyrenees, at lofty altitudes, where almost nothing else lives, and on crags difficult of access, and is among the hardiest of all plants. Thus the edelweiss becomes the symbol of noble life which . . .
  endures hardness,
  is victorious amid antagonisms,
  rises superior to obstacles.

The man who has never known hardship, who never has had to practice self-denial or make a personal sacrifice—may be the envy of other men whose lives have been one continual struggle. They may think that if they could have had his easy circumstances, that they could have made a great deal more of their life. But really, their opportunities in life thus far, has been far better than his. Christian character is made in the field of struggle and hardship, not in ways of ease and luxury.
Hindrances are opportunities.
Difficulty is a school for character.

Strength is the glory of manhood. Yet it is not easy to be strong, it is easier to be weak and to drift. It is easier for the boy in school not to work hard to get his lessons—but to let them go, and then at the last depend on some other boy to help him through. It is easier, when something happens to make you irritable, just to fly into a temper and to say bitter words—than it is to keep quiet and self-controlled. It is easier, when you are with other young people, and they are about to do something that you know to be unworthy, just to go with them—than it is to say, "I cannot do this wickedness against God!" It is easier to be weak, than to be strong. But weakness never leads to mature Christian character.

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The hell of Hell!

(Charles Spurgeon)

Poor lost sinner! The hell of Hell is that it is to last forever.

You will look up there on the throne of God, and it shall be written, "Forever!"

When the damned jingle the burning irons of their torments, they shall say, "Forever!"

When they howl, echo cries, "Forever!"

Forever knows no end; eternity cannot be fathomed except in eternity.

A million years shall not make so much difference to the duration of your agony, as a drop of water taken from the sea would to the volume of the ocean. Nay, when millions of years have a million times rolled their fiery orbits over your poor tormented head, you shall be no nearer to the end than you was at first.

Still the soul sees written o'er its head, "You are damned forever!"

It hears howlings that are to be perpetual;
 it feels flames that are unquenchable;
 it knows pains that are unmitigated;
 it hears a sentence that rolls onward, onward, onward, shaking the echoes of eternity—making thousands of years shake again with the horrid thunder of its dreadful sound, "Depart! Depart! Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41

   ~  ~  ~  ~

There is nothing here but a bit of glass

(J.R. Miller)

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One of the most wonderful diamonds in the world is the 'Mountain of Light'. It now belongs to England, but originally came from India. The gem was put into the hands of Lord John Lawrence for safe keeping. Half unconsciously, Lord John thrust the diamond, which lay in a little box, into his waistcoat pocket. Burdened with many cares, he forgot all about the precious stone.

Six months afterward, a message came from the Queen ordering that the great jewel be sent to her at once. Then Lord John remembered that the gem had been given to him—and also his carelessness. Summoning his servant, he asked him if he had found a little parcel some months before, in one of his pockets. With great anxiety Lord John awaited the man's answer, "Yes, Sir, I found it and put it in one of your dressers." Lord John bade him to bring it, and the servant brought the little box. Fold after fold of wrappings were removed, and there lay the wondrous diamond shining like the sun.
The old servant was utterly unconscious of the immense treasure he held in his hands. "There is nothing here but a bit of glass," he said. Then Lord John told him of its value, and most carefully was the gem guarded until the Queen herself laid it among the jewels of her crown.
There is in the possession of each one of us, a far more precious and costly gem than the 'Mountain of Light'. What are we doing with our soul? Are we treating it as if it were of no value? Are we, like Lord John, wrapping it up in the folds of neglect and overlooking it altogether, while we are busy with other things?

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

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Green pastures

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

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"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
 He leads me beside quiet waters.
 He restores my soul;
 He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Psalm 23:1-3

The shepherd takes care that his sheep are well fed. Christ also feeds His people, and leads them out to find pasture.

The Bible is His pasture-land, and the pasturage there is always good. Every chapter is a field of rich grass. Some of these fields seem at first to be bare and sterile; but even in the barest—there is enough pasture to feed a hungry soul.

Then there are the pasture-fields of prayer. These lie very close to the border of Heaven. They are always up in the quiet valleys among the mountains. The Good Shepherd leads us to them through the gates of prayer. We bow down in lowly humility, and enter with Him into the green pastures, and feed our souls until their hunger is satisfied.

The church is another of our Shepherd's pasture-fields. We enter the gates of the sanctuary, and at once we find spiritual food. We find it in the preaching of the Scriptures, in the ordinances, and in the fellowship of other believers.

In our common life in this world, if we are faithfully following Christ, we are continually in fields of rich pasture. Christ never leads us into any places in which there is nothing to feed us. Even in the hot plains of trial and sorrow, there is food. We sometimes think there is only barrenness in our toilsome life, filled with temptations, cares and sacrifices. But the Good Shepherd is ever with us, and there is always pasture.

Thus the whole world is a rich field, when Jesus leads His flock. If any Christians are not well fed—it is because they will not feed. The trouble must be that they do not hunger for spiritual food.

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Christ's sheep

(Charles Simeon)

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." John 10:11

"My sheep hear My voice; I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:27

Christ's sheep
hear His voice.

Christ speaks to us in His Word as truly as ever He spoke to His disciples in the days of His flesh—and it is the delight of all His people to hear and obey His Word. The inspired volume is to them an inexhaustible source of comfort.
They read it,
they meditate upon it,
they pray over it,
they "esteem it more than their necessary food."

When they open it, they look up to their Divine Master and say, "Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening. Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of Your law."

Directions, warnings, precepts, promises—are all alike acceptable to them. Everything that conveys to them the mind and will of their Good Shepherd, is received with implicit faith and unreserved obedience.

Christ's sheep
follow His steps.

In the written Word they behold the path their Savior trod. Wherever they see the traces of His feet, they endeavor to follow. They inquire not whether the way is arduous and self-denying, or perilous and beset with enemies. All that they desire is to ascertain precisely the path of duty; and then to walk in it with steadiness and perseverance.

They follow Jesus regardless of all dangers, indifferent to all the things of this world, and intent only on executing His will; and thither they direct their steps, cultivating in everything "the mind that was in Him," and endeavoring "to walk as He walked."

"I give them (His sheep) eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

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God's angels!

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

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"And when Zacharias saw the angel, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him." Luke 1:12

Yet the angel had come on an 'errand of love'. He had come to announce to Zacharias tidings which would fill his heart with great joy.

It is often so. All through the Bible, we find that people were afraid of God's angels. Their very glory startled and terrified those to whom they appeared. It is ofttimes the same with us. When God's messengers come to us on errands of grace and peace—we are terrified, as if they were the messengers of wrath!

Angels do not appear to us in these days in their heavenly garb. Yet they come no less really and no less frequently than in the Bible days; but they wear other and various forms. Sometimes they appear in robes of gladness and light—but ofttimes they come in dark garments. Yet our faith in our Father's love should make us confident that every messenger that He sends to us, whatever the garb—brings something good to us.

The things which we call trials and adversities—are really God's angels, though they seem terrible to us. If we will only quiet our hearts and wait, we shall find that they are messengers from Heaven, and that they have brought blessings to us from God. They have come to tell us of some new joy that is to be granted—some spiritual joy, perhaps, to be born of earthly sorrow; some strange and sweet surprise of love which is waiting for us.

We need to learn to trust God so perfectly, that no 'messenger' He ever sends shall alarm us!

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word!" Psalm 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn Your decrees." Psalm 119:71

"I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness YOU have afflicted me!" Psalm 119:75

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The mark of healthy spiritual life

(J.R. Miller

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"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.
 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!" Psalm 42:1-2

Hunger is a mark of health, and the lack of appetite proclaims disease.

The cessation of the desire for knowledge, shows that intellectual growth has ended.

Just so in spiritual life—dissatisfaction is the token of health. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness." Blessed are the unsatisfied. Blessed are those who long for more and more. The mark of healthy spiritual life is an intense thirst for God; and a deep, passionate yearning for closer, fuller, richer, more satisfying communion with Christ Himself. The ideal Christian life is one of insatiable thirst, of unquenchable yearning, of divine discontent—wooed ever on by visions of an increase in spiritual life, new joy, and new attainments in Christlikeness. The best thing in us is never what we now are, nor what we have already reached—but the longing for that which is yet higher and holier.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

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Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart!

(J.R. Miller LISTEN to audio!  Download audio
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"You have placed our iniquities before You—our secret sins in the light of Your presence!" Psalm 90:8

It does not take a rifle-bullet to destroy a life. Men have died from little scratch-wounds.

Some shepherds once saw an eagle soar out from a crag. It flew majestically far up into the sky, but by and by became unsteady in its motions, and began to waver in its flight. At length one wing drooped and then the other, and the poor bird struggled vainly for a moment, and then fell swiftly to the ground.

The shepherds sought the fallen bird, and found that a poisonous little serpent had fastened itself upon it while it rested on the crag. The eagle did not know that the serpent was there. But the reptile gnawed in through the feathers, and while the proud monarch was sweeping through the air, the serpent's fangs were thrust into its flesh, and the eagle came reeling down into the dust!
This illustrates the story of many a human life. For a time they seem quite promising; then suddenly they struggle and fall. Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart, and at last the proud life lies soiled and dishonored in the dust!

We need to be ever on our watch against these treacherous and insidious perils—these little, secret sins, which, unperceived, work death in the soul!

Be sure your sin will find you out!" Numbers 32:23

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His unsleeping watchfulness

(J.R. Miller)

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"You are the God who sees me!" Genesis 16:13

Go where we may, we cannot get away from the calm, clear gaze of the Divine Eye! Neither in the blue depths of the heavens, nor in the dark abysses of the grave—can we hide away from God. If we could take the morning sunbeams for wings, and fly away on them with all the swiftness of light to the remotest bounds of space—we could not get beyond the reach of the Divine Eye. If we creep into the darkness, darkness so deep and dense that no human eye can behold us—still God sees us as clearly as if we stood in the bright noon-day sunshine! Darkness hides not from Him. Night shines to His eye, as brightly as day.
When we know that God loves us, there is infinite comfort in this thought of His unsleeping watchfulness. It is our Father who watches us! There ought also to be wondrous encouragement and inspiration in this consciousness.

While the Eye of divine love is looking upon us, we should always strive to be pleasing to Him in all things!
"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea—even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast! If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You!" Psalm 139:9-12