Grace Gems for NOVEMBER 2021

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In the day of adversity, CONSIDER!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

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"In the day of adversity, CONSIDER: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other!" Ecclesiastes 7:14

In your adversity, consider:
  That you deserve it all!
  That, had you nothing but adversity, it only were your due!
  That every moment free from trouble, is a mercy!
  That had the full curse been poured on you—your life would be nothing but sorrow and vexation!

Consider that God afflicts you for your profit—to bring your sins to mind, and lead you to the Cross. Believer, God chastens you in love, to make you a partaker of His holiness. (Hebrews 12:10) How often have you forgotten Him! But He never forgets you—and thus He chastens you.

Consider, how much you live for the world—how little you live for the Lord!
Consider how earthly, sensual, and devilish is your nature!
Consider your thoughts—how vain!
Consider your service—how unprofitable!
Consider, then, God's love in chastening you.

Are you in sickness—then consider your many days of former health—all undeserved by you!
Consider your many helps in trouble, God's presence, and His grace—all undeserved by you!

In sleepless nights, consider how many nights you have slept soundly and sweetly—all undeserved by you! Consider Him, who gives you songs in the night—all undeserved by you!

In poverty, consider how all your former needs have been supplied—food, clothing, lodging, and so many comforts—all undeserved by you!

Have you incurred the loss of sight or hearing; loss of limbs, or power of using them? Consider, then, your former powers; how much enjoyment you have had in seeing, hearing, moving, handling—all undeserved by you!

O tried believer, consider, then, that your afflictions are light—and they are but for a moment.
They are all ordered in divine wisdom, tenderness, and love!
Consider Jesus! what sufferings He endured—all for unworthy you!
Then faint not, nor be weary, but consider your "eternal weight of glory"—glory "that far outweighs" all your woes—glory, all undeserved by you!

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all! So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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It is not your work that He wants most—it is you!

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

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"Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, and come with Me!" Song of Songs 2:10

"He said to them: Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place" Mark 6:31

G. Campbell Morgan tells of a friend of his who had a little daughter that he dearly loved. They were great friends, the father and daughter, and were always together. But there seemed to come an estrangement on the child's part. The father could not get her company as formerly. She seemed to shun him. If he wanted her to walk with him, she always had something else to do. The father was grieved and could not understand what the trouble was.

His birthday came and in the morning his daughter came to his room, her face radiant with love, and handed him a present. Opening the parcel, he found a pair of exquisitely made slippers.

The father said, "My child, it was very good of you to buy me such lovely slippers."

"O father," she said, "I did not buy them—I made them for you!"

Looking at her he said, "I think I understand now, what long has been a mystery to me. Is this what you have been doing for the last three months?"

"Yes," she said, "but how did you know how long I have been at work on them?"

He said, "Because for three months I have missed your company and your love. I have wanted you with me—but you have been too busy. These are beautiful slippers—but next time buy your present, and let me have you all the days. I would rather have my child herself, than anything she could make for me."

Just so, we are in danger of being so busy in the Lord's work that we cannot be enough with the Lord in love's fellowship. He may say to us, "I like your works, your toils, your service—but I miss the love you gave Me at first."

There is real danger that we get so busy in striving to be active Christians, so absorbed in our tasks and duties, our efforts to bring others into the church—that Christ Himself shall be less loved, and shall miss our communing with Him.

Loyalty to Christ means first of all devotion. Has Christ really the highest place in your heart? It is not your work that He wants most—it is you! It is beautiful to do things for Him, it is still more beautiful to make a home for Him in your heart.

A young man, at great cost, brought from many countries the most beautiful materials he could find, and built an exquisite little chapel as a memorial to his dead wife. Only a few men could do anything so rare, so lovely. But the poorest of us can enthrone Jesus in our hearts—making a little sanctuary in our hearts for Him.

"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love!" Revelation 2:4

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God's ideal for His children

(J.R. Miller, "The Secret of Gladness")

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"Rejoice in the Lord always.
 I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

For most of us it is not easy to be always joyful; yet we should learn our lesson so well that whether amid circumstances of sorrow or of gladness—our song shall never be interrupted.

Joy is God's ideal for His children. He means for them to be sunny-faced and happy-hearted. He does not wish them to be heavy-hearted and sad. He has made the world full of beauty and full of music. The mission of the gospel is to start songs wherever it goes. Its keynote is joy—good tidings of great joy to all people. We are commanded to rejoice always.

This does not mean that the Christian's life is exempt from trouble, pain, and sorrow. The gospel does not give us a new set of conditions with the hard things left out. The Christian's home is not sheltered from life's storms—any more than the worldly man's home is. Sickness enters the circle where the voice of prayer is heard, with its hot breath—as well as the home where no heart adores and no knee bends before God. In the holiest home sanctuary, the loving group gathers about the bed of death, and there is sorrow of bereavement.

Nor is grief less poignant in the believer's case, than in that of the man who knows not Christ. Grace does not make . . .
  love, less tender;
  the pang of affliction, less sharp;
  the sense of loss, less keen; or
  the feeling of loneliness, less deep.

God does not give joy to His children by making them incapable of suffering. Divine grace makes the heart all the more tender, and the capacity for loving all the deeper; hence it increases rather than lessens the measure of sorrow when afflictions come.

But the joy of the Christian is something which lies too deep to be disturbed by the waves and tides of earthly trouble. It has its source in the very heart of God. Sorrow is not prevented by grace, but is swallowed up in the floods of heavenly joy. That was what Jesus meant when He talked to His disciples of joy just as He was about to go out to Gethsemane. He said their sorrow would be turned into joy, and that they would have a joy which the world could not take from them; that is, a joy which earth's deepest darkness could not put out. God's joy is not the absence of sorrow, but divine comfort overcoming sorrow—sunshine striking through the black clouds, transfiguring them!

"You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy!" John 16:20

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John learned his lesson by lying on the bosom of Jesus!

(J.R. Miller, "On the Control of Temper" 1898)

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Many Christian people are willing to confess to an ungentle temper. They seem to think it a matter of not very grave importance. Perhaps the very commonness of the infirmity, blinds our eyes to its unbeauty and its sinfulness. We are apt to regard the malady more as a weakness—than as a sin which makes us guilty before God.

But there is no question that bad temper is unChristlike. We cannot think of Jesus as acrimonious, touchy, irritable, peevish, or vindictive. Love ruled all His dispositions, His words, His feelings. He was put to the sorest tests—but never failed. He endured all manner of wrongs, insults, and hurts; but, like those flowers which yield their sweetest perfume only when crushed—His life gave out the more sweetness, the more it was exposed to men's rudeness and unkindness.

We are like Christ, only in the measure in which we have the patience, gentleness, and good-temper of Christ.

We all agree that bad temper is very unlovely in other people. We know, too, what discomfort and pain a bad temper causes wherever the person goes. Bad temper is not any more lovely in us, as we appear to others' eyes.

An essential teaching of Christianity, is that marred human nature can be changed. The worst temper can be schooled into the most divine sweetness of spirit. The tongue which no man can tame—Christ can tame; so that, instead of bitterness, it shall give out only words of love.

Paul was quite an old man when he said he had learned in whatever state he was therein, to be content. His language implies also that it was not easy for him to learn this lesson, and that he had not attained full proficiency in it until he had reached old age.

The lesson of sweet temper is probably quite as hard as that of contentment. It has to be learned, too, for it does not come naturally. This lesson can be learned. We need only to put ourselves into the school of Christ and stay there, accepting His teaching and discipline, and advancing little by little, until at last we can say, "I have learned in whatever circumstances I am, under whatever provocation, irritation, or temptation to anger or impatience—always to keep sweet-tempered!"

This lesson can be learned. Among Jesus' own disciple family, there was one who at the first was hasty, fiery, and vindictive—but who at length grew into such sweet beauty of disposition and character—that he was known as the beloved disciple, the disciple of love. John learned his lesson by lying on the bosom of Jesus. Intimacy with Christ, close, personal friendship with Him, living near His heart of love, will transform the most unloving, selfish nature—into sweetness of spirit!

Such love within the heart, will soon get control of all the outer life—the dispositions, the speech, the manners, and all the expressions of the inner life. Thus bitterness, wrath, clamor, and all evil speaking—will give place to gentleness, goodness, and grace.

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Some people use pepper instead!

(J.R. Miller, "Christian Conversation" 1898)

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"Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34

Hence we must get our heart right, if we would speak words that are Christlike. A bitter heart cannot give out sweet words—nor can an impure heart speak wholesome, pure words.

Most people talk too much, they chatter on forever. Silence is far better than idle, sinful, or foolish speech.

We have suggestions in the New Testament as to the kind of speech that is worthy of a redeemed life. Paul has some very plain words on the subject: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may impart grace to the hearers." Ephesians 4:29. That is, no word should be spoken which does not . . .
 help to build up character,
 make those who hear it better,
 inspire some good thought, some holy feeling, some kindly act,
 or put some touch of beauty upon the life.

A Christian's words should "impart grace to the hearers." That is, they should impart blessing in some way. We all know people whose words have this quality. They are not always exhorting, preaching, or talking religiously—and yet we never speak with them without being the better for it. Their simplest words do us good. They give cheer, courage, and hope. We feel braver and stronger after a little conversation with them, even after a moment's greeting on the street.

In another place Paul says, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6. This means graceful speech, not merely as to its manner—but also as to its quality. It must be speech such as Christ Himself would use if He were in our place, and we know that every word of His was a holy seed. Our speech is to be "full of grace"—it is to be true, reverent, helpful, inspiring.

Our speech should be "seasoned with salt"—that is, it should be pure and clean. Salt preserves from decay and putridity. The Christian's speech should have in it the divine quality of holiness, and its effect should be cleansing and purifying. Someone speaks of the words of Jesus as a handful of spices cast into this world's bitter waters to sweeten them. Every Christian's words should have like influence in society, wherever they are spoken.

The seasoning is important—our speech is to be "seasoned with salt." Love is salt. Truth is salt. Our speech should be always kindly. It should be without bitterness, without malice, without unlovingness in any form. The seasoning should be salt. Some people use pepper instead—and pepper is sharp, biting, pungent. Their speech is full of sarcasm, of censure, of bitterness, of words that hurt and burn. This is not Christlike speech.

We should never be content to talk even five minutes with another—without saying at least a word or two that may do good, that may give a helpful impulse or kindle an upward aspiration.

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18

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A Christian is one who follows Christ

(J.R. Miller, "Young People's Problems" 1898)

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You must receive Christ as your Master and Lord. A Christian is one who follows Christ. This means the surrender of the whole life to Him. The heart must be given up. There can be no Christian life, without love to Jesus. Jesus demands the first place in the affections of His followers. If anyone loves father or mother, brother or sister, wife or child, more than Him—he is not worthy of Jesus, and cannot be His disciple.

But the most perfect obedience, if the heart is not in it, would not make one a Christian. We might devote our life and strength to Christian work, toiling unweariedly in the service of the church, giving our money lavishly for the advancement of Christianity or for the relief of suffering—and yet not be Christians. Love for Christ must be the motive at the heart of all our work for Christ. "Do you love Me?" is the test.

But the heart draws the whole life after it. If we truly love Jesus, we will obey Jesus. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." "You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you."

We cannot accept Christ as our Savior, and not at the same time accept Him as our Lord and Master. We must begin at once to obey Him. Our obedience must be without reserve, without condition, without question. It must also be cheerful and glad-hearted—not compulsory, reluctant, or constrained.

Christians are soldiers of Christ, and the soldier's first duty is to obey. Whether the will of Christ is made known to us in His Word, through our own conscience, or in providence—we should always promptly and cheerfully accept and obey. It may not be always easy; it may be very hard and costly; but when the will of our Master is made known, if we are His followers—we can only obey, and our obedience should be sweet with love.

We love Him, because He first loved us. We know Him, because He first calls us. Christ is ours, and we are Christ's. Being a Christian is living out His same life of love, obedience, surrender, and service, through all the days.

As Christians, we are to live out the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

True faith will make us more gentle, more patient, more unselfish. A Christian life is a new Christ-life lived out in this world—we are to be Christ to others!

The heart of the Christian should be a well of living water, a fount of holy and blessed influences, whose streams flow in all directions—carrying comfort, cheer, encouragement, help, and gladness to every other life they reach. Mere orthodoxy of belief does not make one a Christian, nor does attention to church rituals and rules. A Christian is one in whom the life of Christ pulses, and the love of Christ glows and burns!

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Take all the tangled threads!

(J.R. Miller, "Family Prayers")

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Heavenly Father, we would be strong for this new day, and we wait upon You to renew our strength. We need spiritual strength for the day that is before us. We shall have . . .
   burdens to carry,
   and battles to fight,
   and trials to endure,
   and duties to perform,
   and temptations to conquer,
   and conflicts with the evil world.
We need strength for all these experiences. You alone can give us what we need. You are our refuge and our strength—a very present help in times of trouble. You have promised to be with us, and to strengthen us. You have said that as our days are—so shall our strength be; and that Your grace is sufficient for us. We accept these assurances, believing that we shall obtain help from You for every duty and every struggle this day.

We would lean . . .
   our weakness—on Your strength,
   our ignorance—on Your wisdom,
   our trembling insecurity—on Your unchangeableness.

Restrain us . . .
   from all excess, of whatever kind,
   from all extravagance of speech,
   from all foolish vanity,
   from inordinate affection and emotion.
Make us thoughtful, serious, solemn, watchful, and prayerful.

May we be . . .
   stronger in faith,
   more earnest in purpose,
   more holy in thought and feeling—
because of our communion with You this day.

We ask You for grace . . .
   to perform our allotted tasks with diligence;
   to guide our affairs with discretion;
   to do all things, whatever we do, in the name of the Lord Jesus;
   and in all our ways to acknowledge You.
Order our steps in Your Word—and let not any iniquity have dominion over us.

Take all the tangled threads of our lives into Your own hand, and unravel them, weaving them into a web of beauty.

"Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength! They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint!" Isaiah 40:31

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One of the finest things in a complete Christian character

(J.R. Miller, "Learning to Be Thoughtful" 1898)

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One of the finest things in a complete Christian character
, is thoughtfulness. It gives a wondrous charm to a life. It makes one a blessing wherever he goes. It tempers all his conduct, softening all natural harshness into gentleness, and giving a spirit of kindliness to his every word and act, and to all his bearing.

A thoughtful person does not have to be asked to help others—he helps, as it were, instinctively. He is ever ready . . .
  to do the obliging thing,
  to say the encouraging word,
  to show an interest in the life of others,
  to perform those countless little kindnesses which so brighten the common pathway.

In much home-life, there is a lack of thoughtfulness shown. Not always is the speech gentle—sometimes it is sharp and bitter, even rude. Without being aware of it, many of us are miserably selfish in our life among others. We practically forget that there are any other people, or that we ought to make any sacrifices, or practice any self-denials, for their sake.

Thoughtfulness will seek always to say kindly words, never words that will give pain—but ever those that will give pleasure. We have no right, for the sake of saying a bright thing, to let loose a shaft, however polished, that will make a loving heart bleed!

We all know in our own experience, the value of sincere and Christly thoughtfulness. We do not like to come in contact with thoughtless people. We know well how it hurts and how unbeautiful, how unchristian, it seems when we see it in another—and when our heart is the one that suffers from its harsh, rude impact. We all long for thoughtfulness in others; our hearts hunger and thirst for it. It is bread and wine to us.

What we long for in others in their relation to us, we should be ready to give to them. What in others hurts us, gives us pain—we ought to avoid in our contact with others. Thoughtfulness is one of the finest, ripest fruits of Christian love—and all who would be like the Master must seek to learn this lesson and wear this grace.

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We would be growing into monsters of selfishness!

(J.R. Miller, "Getting Along with People" 1898)

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At every point as we go on into the thickening experiences of life—the lesson of living with others meets us. It is not always easy to gracefully accept these contacts with others, and to enter into kindly relations with them.

There are some people who seem to be very good alone, while no one comes near them, while no other life touches theirs, when they have to think of no one but themselves—who make wretched business of living when they come into personal relations with others! Then they are selfish, tyrannical, despotic, willful, and exacting! They will not yield to any other one's desire or needs. They must have their own way; and they drive their life like a rough plow-share right through the comforts, the desires, the feelings, of others!

It seems almost a pity there could not be a few corners fenced off in this great world for such people as these, where they could live altogether alone, with no one ever to interfere with their rights or liberties, or to impinge upon their comfort in any way.

But this is not God's ordinance for human lives. We are to live together in families, in communities, in friendship's circle. Indeed, no worse fate could befall us, than to be doomed to live alone.
We might thus be absolved from the duties of love,
we could then have our own way,
we would not be required to think of anybody but ourselves,
and there would be no call for self-denial or sacrifice.
But meanwhile, we would be growing into monsters of selfishness!

We never can learn love's lessons, except in life's school, where the lessons are set for us in actual human relationships.

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8 

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What the person IS, often mars the value of what he DOES!

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

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A pastor was commending Christ to a boy, expressing the hope that he would trust in Christ in his youth. "Religion is a continual joy," he said. "Look at your sister, Sarah. How much that dear girl enjoys her religion!"

"Yes," drawled the boy, with frank candor, "She may enjoy her religion—but nobody else in the house enjoys it!"

There are professing Christians of whom it is true that their families do not enjoy their religion. It is not sweet. It is not a comfort to people. It is critical, rasping, censorious, exacting. It was a serious condemnation of this girl's religion, that her family did not enjoy it.

A keen observer has said, "Many a woman spoils her testimony in the church, by her tongue in the kitchen!"

Another has said, "There are people who lead us Heavenward, but stick pins in us all the way!"

In a conversation overheard on a railway train, one reports catching this fragment of talk: "Yes, I suppose she's a Christian—but she certainly isn't pleasant to live with!"

A Christian who isn't pleasant to live with, is shameful. We may do all our duties faithfully, conscientiously, bearing our share of the burdens and cares—and yet, if we are not pleasant to live with, we fail in the most essential quality of love. An unlovely spirit, frowns and chilling looks, sharp impatient words—overbalance the painstaking Christian service that does so much to help in practical ways. What the person IS, often mars the value of what he DOES!

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

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Common mercies!

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"God has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons;
 He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14:17

We ofttimes forget that the common mercies of life are evidences of our Father's loving thought and care for His children. There is no such thing as 'chance' in this world. God sends the rains, orders the seasons, and brings the harvests. In enjoying the gifts, we should not forget the Giver. In accepting and using the blessings, we should not fail to see the Hand which brings them to us! (J.R. Miller)

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"What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits to me?" Psalm 116:12

The Christian, as he journeys onwards in the pathway of life, ought frequently to look back and review the way by which God has led him. If we would keep alive our gratitude—if we would have it to increase more and more, until, like a holy flame, it burns within us—we must often, in thought, retrace the varied turnings and windings of our earthly pilgrimage.

We are so prone, amid our daily duties and our interaction with the world, to forget and overlook the divine benefits received, that only by a careful and frequent retrospect, can we continue, from day to day, cherishing a spirit of true and ever-increasing thankfulness to God. But, the oftener we make the review, the greater cause will we have for saying, with David, "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my father's house, that you have brought me hitherto?"

Christian! you cannot indeed reckon up all the benefits you have received from the hand of God, for they are as numerous as the stars of heaven or the drops of the mighty ocean! Your common mercies—alas! are too lightly valued . . .
  the air you breathe,
  the return of the gladsome sunlight,
  the succession of the seasons, and
  the quiet and gentle stillness and repose of night—
all these, with their unnumbered host of attendant blessings, are scattered on your path! (John MacDuff)

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Let us praise God for common mercies, for they prove to be uncommonly precious—when they are once taken away! (Charles Spurgeon)

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Home happiness depends on the wife

(J.R. Miller)

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Home is the true wife's kingdom. There, first of all places, she must be strong and Christly. She may touch life outside in many ways, if she can do it without slighting the duties that are hers within her own doors. But if any calls for her service must be declined, they should not be the duties of her home. These are hers alone, and not another's.

Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust—the happiness and the highest good of the hearts that nestle in the home. The best husband—the truest, the noblest, the gentlest, the richest-hearted—cannot make his home happy, if his wife is not in every reasonable sense, a helpmate to him.

In the last analysis, home happiness depends on the wife.

Her spirit gives the home its atmosphere.

Her hands fashion its beauty.

Her heart makes its love.

And the end is so worthy, so noble, so divine—that no wife should consider any price too great to pay—to be the light, the joy, the blessing, the inspiration of her home!

The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity—is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies!

"An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels!" Proverbs 31:10

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People with sore and bruised hearts

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

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"When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume . . ." Luke 7:37

It is wonderful how genuine goodness draws to itself:
  the unfortunate,
  the troubled,
  the friendless,
  the outcast,
  the fallen.

Wherever Jesus went, these classes always found Him out and gathered about Him. It was because He was the true, unselfish friend of all men. They found sympathy in Him. He would listen to their story. Though He was the sinless One, there was yet no air of, "I am holier than you" about Him. He was just as gentle to an outcast sinner, as to a religious Nicodemus. No matter who reached out a hand for help, He was ready to grasp it. One of the truest things ever said of Jesus, was the prophetic word concerning him, "He shall not break a bruised reed!" He always dealt most gently with sore spirits and with bruised hearts!

Those who want to be useful in this world, must have the same qualities as Jesus. There is a kind of false "holiness" which draws nobody to itself—but rather repels. Genuine holiness, however, wins its way everywhere into men's hearts. The secret of it all is in living "not to be served—but to serve;" in considering one's self not too good to serve the most unworthy of God's creatures. If we live in this world to be served, we shall be of no use to anyone. But if we live to minister to others, yearning to be of service to everyone we meet—then our life will be of great worth. The hungry-hearted and the soul-needy will be drawn to us, and God will love to put work into our hands.

We need, too, to train ourselves to exceeding gentleness in dealing with human souls in their spiritual crises. Many earnest people, in the excess of their zeal—do incalculable harm to those whom they greatly desire to help. People with sore and bruised hearts, usually need loving sympathy and strong, kindly friendship—much more than they need a lecture in theology!

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

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The description of the godly man

(J.R. Miller, "Evening Thoughts" 1907)

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"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.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
  which yields its fruit in season
  and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:1-3

In this Psalm, the description of the godly man is first negative:
  There are certain things he never does.
  There are places in which he is never seen.
  He does not make wicked men his advisers.
  He is not seen with those who are evil.
  No one ever sees him among mockers.
Thus the godly man is known by what he does not do.

Then there are certain things that the godly man does:
He loves God's word, reads it, and feeds upon it.
He is careful to live where his life may be nourished by the streams of grace.

As a result, he is like a tree in his beauty and in his fruitfulness. Fruit is the test of Christian character.

Then the godly man's life does not wither in heat or drought.
It is perennial, and lives in all kinds of weather.

Another feature of his life is that everything he does prospers—not always in worldly things, but even in his losses and trials, he is still blessed. For, "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

   ~  ~  ~  ~


The necessity of daily prayer

(J.R. Miller, "Living Victoriously!")

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"But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret, will reward you openly." Matthew 6:6

In the Christian's devotional life, prayer has an essential place. The godly men of the Bible were all men of prayer. Jesus, who showed us in Himself the ideal Christian life—had regular habits of prayer. He who would live the Christian life well, must regularly commune with God!

It is important, however, that we understand clearly what it is to pray. It is not enough that at stated times we go over certain forms of prayer. We only pray, when we speak to God what is in our heart as a desire, a longing, or a burden.

Jesus teaches that we are to pray to God as our Father. We must come to Him, therefore, as His redeemed children—with the genuineness, the simplicity, the confidence of children. When we stand at God's throne of grace and speak the name "Father" and ask for a child's blessing—we are sure of instant welcome.

Many people think of prayer only as coming to God with requests. They only tell Him their needs. They never bow before Him nor speak to Him, unless there is something they wish Him to do for them.

What would you think of a friend of yours who never came to you nor talked with you, except when he wanted to ask some favor of you? True friendship finds many of its sweetest moments, when there is no help to ask—but when only love's communion fills the happy time. It should be so in our relation with our heavenly Father. If we care to be with Him only when we have a favor to ask of Him—then there is something lacking in our love!

We are not to suppose that when Jesus spent whole nights in prayer, He was making requests all the time. He went away from the trying, struggling, troublesome life of the busy days among the people—to find shelter, rest, and renewal of strength, in sweet converse with His Father. Just so, most of the time we spend in prayer should be given to communion with God.

A minister relates that one Saturday morning, when he was in his study preparing his sermon, his little child opened the door and came in, stealing softly to his side. Somewhat impatiently, the father turned to her and asked, "What do you want, my child?"

"Nothing, papa,"
the child replied. "I only want to be with you."

This is oft-times the only desire of the true Christian when he comes to pray. He has no requests to make—he just wants to be with his Father!

The most profitable season of devotion, is that in which there is also meditation upon God's Word. It is related of a godly Christian who was known to spend much time in his prayer-closet, that a friend once secreted himself in his study to learn something of his devotional habit. The godly man was busy all the evening at his work. At eleven o'clock he put away his books and pen and opened his New Testament. For a whole hour he bent over its pages, reading, comparing, pondering the sacred words. Sometimes he would linger long over a sweet verse and his heart would glow with rapture. When the clock struck twelve, he closed the book and sought his bed.

He was not once on his knees during all the hour. He offered no petition in words. He had spent the whole time in communing with God in His Word, breathing out his love, his adoration, his longings and desires—and receiving into his heart the assurances, the encouragements, the promises, the joys of the Father's love.

There could be no better way of devotion than this!

Praying alone, without meditation on the Word of God, meets only one phase of our need. We talk to God when we pray. But it is quite as important that God talks to us—and He will only talk with us, when we open the Scriptures and wait reverently to hear what He will say to us.

What is the HELP that we are to receive from prayer?

First of all, prayer holds us close to Christ. We breathe Heaven's air when we commune with Christ. Life in this sinful world is not easy. It has its struggles, its duties, its difficulties, and its sorrows—which exhaust our strength. Hence we need continually to return to Christ to have our grace renewed. We cannot live today, on yesterday's food; every morning we must pray for our daily bread. Nor can we be faithful, strong, happy and helpful Christians today—on yesterday's supply of grace. We need to pray daily. Thus our life is kept from running down, and we are held near our Master all the while.

The true Christian life also grows—and it can only do so by daily communing with God. Our life should never run two days on just the same level. The days should be ladder rungs lifting our heart ever a little higher, nearer to God, into purer air, into loftier experiences, into holier consecration.

Prayer brings God down into our life. It was when Jesus was praying, that He was transfigured. True prayer always transfigures! One who lives habitually with Christ, becomes like Christ. Our earthly affairs become means of grace, if Christ is with us. Prayer lifts all the experiences of our life and lays them in the hand of Christ—who makes them all work together for our eternal good!

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The necessity of daily bible reading

(J.R. Miller, "Living Victoriously!")

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"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly!" Colossians 3:16

Probably prayer is less neglected in devotions, than is the reading of the Bible. Many people who would not go out any morning without a few moments of prayer, will go forth day after day into the thick of life's duties and perils, without reading even a verse of Scripture! They feel the necessity of asking God to keep, guide and bless them—but they fail to realize that it is in and through meditating on His Word, that God chiefly gives His richest and best blessings.

It is in His Word, that God reveals Himself. We cannot know what He is like, nor what the attributes of His character are—unless we ponder the Scriptures. We cannot learn what God's will is, nor what He would have us to do and to be—if we do not look into His Word. There is nothing that we need more, than to hear God speaking to us every morning. This is possible, only as we open the Bible and let its words whisper their messages to us.

No matter how familiar we may be with the teachings of the Scriptures, we need to ponder them anew every morning to keep their pure ideals and lofty requirements ever before us—lest we allow our standard of holy living to be lowered.

A celebrated painter always kept some purely-colored stones on his table. When asked by a visitor why he did so, he said it was to keep his eye up to tone. When he was working in pigments, unconsciously his sense of color was weakened. By keeping a pure color near him he brought his eye up to tone again, just as the musician by his tuning-fork brings himself up to the right pitch. In the same way, we continually need to turn to God's Word to keep our thoughts, and character, and life up to the true standard.

Rubenstein used to say that he could never omit his daily practice on the piano, for if he did, the quality of his playing would at once begin to deteriorate. He said that if he missed practice for three days, the public would know it; if he missed practice for two days, his friends would know it; and if he did not practice for even one day, he himself knew it!

It is no less true in Christian life, that in order to keep its holy tone up to what it should be, there must never be a break in the continuity of the study of God's Word. If we leave off for only one day, we shall become conscious of a loss of power in living. If for two successive days we fail to look into God's perfect law—our friends around us will notice the failure in the beauty, the sweetness and the grace of our character and disposition. If for three days we fail to study the Scriptures to see how God would have us live, even the people of the world will see a lowering of the spiritual quality of our life!

One of the ways the Bible helps us, is by making Christ known to us. The noblest Christian is he before whose eyes, the character of Jesus shines in brightest splendor. Indeed, it is only when we have clear visions of Christ, that we really grow like Him.

"It seems to me," says a writer, "that nowadays men think and talk too much about improving their own character, but meditate too little on the perfectness of the divine character." Christ will never appear really great in our eyes, unless we make His Word our daily study. And only as He becomes great and glorious in our thoughts—will our character and standard of life be lifted up to what they should be.

Many of the blessings we seek in prayer, can come to us only through the Word of God:

We ask to be kept near the heart of Christ, but our Master tells us that only those who keep His commandments shall abide in His love. In order to keep His commandments, we must know them—and we can know them only by reading and re-reading them.

We ask God in the morning to guide us through the day, and in one of the psalms is the prayer, "Order my steps according to Your Word." That is, God leads us by His Word. If then we do not read the words of God, how can we get His guidance?

The leading He promises is not general, by long stretches—but by little steps. The Psalmist says, "Your Word is a lamp unto my feet." It is not said that prayer is the lamp, but the Word. We must carry it in our hand, too, as one carries a lantern to throw its beams about his feet.

We pray to be kept from sin, and in the Scriptures one says, "Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You." Our prayers to be kept from sin, can be answered only by getting the Word of God into our heart!

These are suggestions of the necessity of reading the Bible daily, as well as of praying. Neither is complete in itself alone. We must talk to God, but we must also listen to God talk to us through His Word. We must pray for blessings—but only through the divine words of Scripture, can these blessings come to us.

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How to read the Bible

(J.R. Miller, "The Shining Light" 1911)

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"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105

"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them!" John 13:17

It is necessary to read the Bible, not just to know the will of God—but that we may do it. If Scripture is not the practice of our life—it is nothing to us.

Its truths are to be applied. If we read the Beatitudes, we are to compare ourselves with their Divine requirements, and seek to be conformed to them. If we come upon a verse that rebukes any habit or sin of ours, we are immediately to make the needed amendment.

We are to accept its promises, believe them—and then act as believing them.

We are to allow its comforts to enter our hearts and support us in sorrow.

There is nothing written in the Bible merely for ornament or beauty. Every word is practical! There is no truth in Scripture which has not some bearing upon actual living. When we come to it eager to know how to live, and ready to obey its precepts—we shall find it opening its inmost meaning to us!

"If you love Me, you will obey My commandments." John 14:15

"We know that we have come to know Him, IF we obey His commands. The man who says, 'I know Him,' but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him!" 1 John 2:3-4

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The thoughts make the face

(J.R. Miller, "The Face of the Master")

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"His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance!" Revelation 1:16

We have no picture of Jesus Christ. The paintings of Him which artists have given us, are only their conceptions of His appearance. None of these paintings, however noble and worthy they may be, are to be thought of as true portraits of the Master's face.

Yet the face of Jesus Christ must have been very beautiful. It is sin that disfigures the human countenance, and there was no sin in Him. His life was spotless and pure.

They tell us that the thoughts make the face. We cannot altogether hide our inner life from men's eyes. What goes on in the depths of our being, comes up to the surface in unmistakable indications and revealings. The faulty qualities of the heart work out in the life and betray themselves in the face.

If you are discontented—then the discontent will reveal itself in your features. If you have bitter thoughts and feelings in your heart—then the bitterness will write its hard lines on your countenance. But if you habitually think gentle thoughts, kindly thoughts, peaceful thoughts—then on your face will come gentleness, kindness, and peace. If you keep love in your heart amid all your afflictions and trials, all the irritations and harrowings of life—then your face will shine with love. There is much truth in the familiar lines:
"Beautiful thoughts make a beautiful soul,
 And a beautiful soul makes a beautiful face."

We know that all the thoughts of the Master were beautiful thoughts. Heaven dwelt in Him, and there was never any fleck of stain upon His soul. In a world of hate, cruelty, and injustice—His heart was always full of love. Never was an unkind thought there for a moment.
Infinite holiness dwelt in Him.
All the beatitudes had their home in His bosom.
All the fruits of the Spirit grew to perfect ripeness in Him.

"Whatever things are true,
 whatever things are noble,
 whatever things are just,
 whatever things are pure,
 whatever things are lovely,
 whatever things are commendable,
 if there is any virtue and
 if there is anything praiseworthy
meditate on these things!" Philippians 4:8
These were the things on which Jesus thought continually. He never had . . .
  a sordid thought,
  an impure thought,
  a trivial thought,
  a selfish thought.
His mind was never disturbed by discontent, by impurity, by anxiety. His converse was always with His Father. Though walking on the earth among sinful men, He really lived in Heaven. All His feelings, desires, affections, and emotions were holy. He always did those things that were pleasing to His Father. If beautiful thoughts make a beautiful soul—then the soul of Jesus was spotlessly, divinely beautiful. And if a beautiful soul makes a beautiful face—then the face of Jesus was transcendently lovely!

Sorrow mars some faces. It need not do so. Only when affliction is not accepted in love and faith—does it leave marks of disfigurement. Sorrow sweetly endured, transfigures the face, giving it new beauty. Jesus was a man of sorrows, but His sorrows only made His face more radiant.

Poverty writes hard lines on some faces. Jesus was poor—He had nowhere to lay His head. But His poverty left no trace on His features—except to make them gentler, kindlier, more sympathetic toward human poverty and need. His face was quiet, calm, serene, heavenly.

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Why, they are like Jesus Christ!

(J.R. Miller, "The Face of the Master")

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"God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!" 2 Corinthians 4:6

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory!" 2 Corinthians 3:18

The face of Christ has transforming power. Those who look upon it in love, and intently—are changed by it into its own beauty. This teaching is brought out very clearly in the New Testament. John tells us that when we shall see Jesus as He is, we shall become like Him.

The apostle Paul describes in wonderful way, the transforming power of the face of Christ as we look upon it: "But we all beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory!" The glory of the Lord is the glory which shines in the face of Jesus Christ. We cannot see that glory with our eyes, for Christ is in Heaven. But it is reflected for us on the pages of the gospel. As we ponder Him in these pages intently, we look upon His glory.

The effect of this continued beholding, is the transformation of our lives into Christ's image. That is, as we consider Christ, as we . . .
  read the story of His life,
  think of Him,
  meditate on the beauty of His character,
  look into His face with love and adoration—
the brightness of that face prints itself upon our faces, and we are transformed into His image. This transformation is not wrought suddenly, instantaneously—but gradually, "with ever-increasing glory."

Life is a school. The qualities of Christian character are studies set for us. No one learns a musical instrument in one lesson. No one can become an accomplished artist in a day. Just so, no one can get the full beauty of Christ into his life in one brief year. We have it here in Paul's words, "But we all beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory!" That is, line by line, little by little.

Friendship with Christ is the essential thing in cultivating godly character. Not only is He our teacher—it is not enough that He shall set the lessons for us; but He brings down the divine life and imparts it to us. John lay upon the Master's bosom, and in this close friendship he grew into the Master's likeness. It is thus that we all must live, if we would get the beauty of Christ upon our lives. We never shall grow like Him, if we stay habitually far away from Him.

If a Christian lives distant from Christ, he soon grows earthly and loses the spiritual loveliness out of his life. But if he abides near his Master, in adoring love, in close companionship—then the glory of Christ enters his life and transforms him. Looking at Christ, intently, with devout, reverent heart, beholding Him not merely in a brief glance now and then, but continuously—the brightness of that blessed face prints itself upon his life!

Those who look intently at the face of Christ . . .
  entering into the spirit of His life,
  walking in daily fellowship with Him,
  bearing His cross,
  loving Him and doing His will—
take His image upon their own lives, grow like Him, until neighbors and friends begin to see the resemblance and say, "Why, they are like Jesus Christ!"

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The man with the muck-rake!

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

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"Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better." Luke 10:42

Paul prayed that his friends "may be able to discern what is best." Philippians 1:10

We must be always making choices in this world. We cannot take up everything that lies in our path—and we ought to choose the best things. Even among 'right things' there is room for choice, for some right things are better than others.

There are many Christians, however, who do not habitually choose the best things—but second-rate things. They labor for the food that perishes—when they might labor for the food that endures unto everlasting life. Even in their prayers, they ask for temporal blessings—when they might ask for spiritual treasures!

They are like "the man with the muck-rake" in Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress'—who only looks 'down' and drags his rake among the weeds and worthless rubbish—while over his head are crowns which he might take into his hands!
They are like Esau, who sold his valuable birthright for some lentil stew. They toil for this world's vain things—when they might have been laying up treasures in Heaven!
We only have one life to live—and we ought therefore to do the best we possibly can with it. We pass through this world only once, and we ought to gather up and take with us the things that will truly enrich us—things we can keep forever!

It is not worth our while, to toil and moil, and strive and struggle—to do things that will leave no lasting results when our life is done—while there are things we can do which have eternal significance!

"Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2

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A new impulse—a nobler bent!

(Hannah More, "Practical Piety")

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In salvation, the Holy Spirit operates on the human character to produce a new heart and a new life. By this operation the affections and faculties of the man receive a new impulse . . .
   his dark understanding is illuminated,
   his rebellious will is subdued,
   his irregular desires are rectified,
   his warped judgment is informed,
   his vile imagination is chastened,
   his sinful inclinations are sanctified, and
   his hopes and fears are directed to their true and adequate end.
Heaven becomes the object of his hopes—and eternal separation from God becomes the object of his fears.

His love of the world, is transformed into the love of God.

The lower faculties are pressed into the new service.

The senses have a higher direction.

The whole internal frame and constitution receive a nobler bent . . .
  his intents and purposes of the mind acquire a sublimer aim;
  his aspirations gain a loftier flight;
  his vacillating desires find a fixed object;
  his vagrant purposes attain a settled home;
  his disappointed heart has a certain refuge.

That heart, no longer the worshiper of the world, now struggles to overcome it.

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

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Smaller virtues and lesser vices

(Hannah More, "Practical Piety")

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"Hate everything that is evil, and hold tight to everything that is good." Romans 12:9

It is important for the Christian . . .
  to practice the smaller virtues,
  to avoid scrupulously the lesser vices,
  and to bear patiently with minor trials.

Smaller virtues and lesser vices
make up a large part of human life, and fix and determine our moral character.

The smaller virtues are the threads and filaments which gently but firmly tie the Christian graces together. The acquisition of even the smallest virtue, is actually a conquest over the opposite vice, and doubles our moral strength.

Faults which we are accustomed to consider as small, are apt to be repeated without reservation. The habit of committing them is strengthened by the repetition. Frequency renders us at first indifferent, and then insensible.

The hopelessness attending a long-indulged habit generates carelessness, until the power of resistance is first weakened, then destroyed.

The Christian knows of no small faults. He considers sins, whatever their magnitude, as an offense against his Maker. Nothing that offends God can be insignificant.

Nothing can be trifling that makes a bad habit fasten itself to us!

Do small faults, continually repeated, always retain their original weakness?
Is a bad temper which is never repressed, not worse after years of indulgence, than when we first gave the reins to it?
Does the habit of exaggeration never lead to falsehood, or never move into deceit?

Before we determine that our small faults are innocent, we must try to prove that they shall never outgrow their initial dimensions. We must make certain that the infant shall never become a giant!

"Hate everything that is evil, and hold tight to everything that is good." Romans 12:9

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 character—and you will reap a destiny!

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I will strengthen you!

(George Mylne, "Fear Not!" 1854)

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"Fear not! I will strengthen you!" Isaiah 41:10

Blessed promise, "I will strengthen you!"

Who gives the promise? Jehovah Jesus!

To whom is it given? Powerless believer, it is given to you! To you it is said, "Fear not!"

You have . . .
  a war to wage;
  a race to run;
  an enemy to watch;
  a victory to gain.
Your own strength is nothing. Even an angel's strength would not suffice you. You must be clothed with power from Heaven; you must be armed with God. I would not underrate your own weakness; and I cannot overrate the divine strength at your command.

Are you a child in Christian experience? A child in faith! A child in grace! A child in power! Fear not! Out of the mouths of babes has God ordained strength, that you, my fellow sinner, may still the enemy. (Psalm 8:2)

You are weak in yourself—but strong in Christ! This must be your motto, and your consolation. You have no strength of your own. Look not for it. Your own deceitful heart is too much for you—you cannot master it. How, then, could you fight with Satan and prevail! How often have your lusts entangled you, and your evil tempers humbled you! You have looked for power, and behold leanness! You have looked for strength, and there was none! Have you prayed to God—yes, thrice besought Him—to take your weakness from you? Ask it not. His grace is sufficient for you. His strength is made perfect in your weakness. Glory, then, in your infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon you. (2 Corinthians 12:8, 9)

Fear not! Surely in the Lord you have righteousness and strength. God shall strengthen you with might by His Spirit in the inner man. He will be the strength of your heart, and your portion forever. (Isaiah 45:24; Ephesians 3:16; Psalm 73:26) Only be persuaded of your own weakness. When you are weak, then are you strong—then are you able to do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Fellow sinner, fear not! (2 Corinthians 12:10; Philippians 4:13)

Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
 I have called you by name; you are Mine
 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
 When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
 When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
 For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In all circumstances! This comes as a surprise when one considers the vicissitudes of human life. Sickness and health, poverty and wealth, joy and sorrow—are all ingredients of the cup placed to human lips—so all must come within the scope of thanksgiving. Why be thankful for everything? Because God causes everything to work together for good to those who love Him.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A godly farmer was asked to dine with a well-known gentleman. While there, he asked a blessing at the table as he was accustomed to do at home.
His host said jeeringly, "That is old fashioned; it is not customary nowadays for well-educated people to pray before they eat."
The farmer answered that with him it was customary—but that some of those on his farm never thanked God their food.
"Ah, then," said the gentleman, "they are sensible and enlightened! Who are they?"
"My pigs!" the farmer answered.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Charles Dickens said that we are somewhat mixed up here in America. He told an audience that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year, we should have 364. "Use that one day just for complaining and griping," he said. "Use the other 364 days to thank God each day for the many blessings He has showered upon you!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life.
 Appreciate and never take for granted, all that God has given us."

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Some years ago an old black woman was put up at auction at a slave-market. She was distressed lest she might be sold to a cruel master. A godly man bought her and set her free at once. But she would not leave him who had set her free—and insisted upon going into his household and working for him. Now when she could do what she pleased—she would not go anywhere but to him. She would say: "He saved me! He saved me!"
This is how we ought to feel toward Him who died for us and set us free.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"
2 Corinthians 9:15

For Christ who came from Heaven above,
For the cross and His redeeming love,
For His mighty power to seek and save,
For His glorious triumph o'er the grave.
For the lovely mansions in the sky,
For His blessed coming bye and bye—
I give Thee humble thanks.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I wish we may all learn to be more thankful to our gracious Provider, and more sensible of His hand and goodness in every morsel of bread we eat. How soon could He starve us—and how justly have we deserved it!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I have heard of a holy old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water; and lifting up her hands in thanks, she said, "What! all this, and Christ too?"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We shall have cause to be thankful for all our afflictions—if the Lord is pleased to employ them as means to make us more humble and broken-hearted, and to wean our hearts from this vain world.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

So long as we are receivers of divine mercy—we must be givers of thanks.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"Let us be thankful!"
Hebrews 12:28

   ~  ~  ~  ~

"Overflowing with thankfulness!"
Colossians 2:7

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Have a blessed Thanksgiving day!

  ~  ~  ~  ~

I Myself will help you!

(George Mylne, "Fear Not!" 1854)

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"I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you: 'Do not fear, I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I Myself will help you!' declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel!" Isaiah 41:13-14

What is more helpless than a child without its mother's hand! Reader, what is more helpless than you without Christ! You can neither stand nor walk alone; but "God, who takes hold of your right hand, says to you: Do not fear, I will help you!"

He will help you . . .
  against sin;
  against Satan;
  against the world;
  against your own evil heart.

He will help you . . .
  when you are weary;
  when you are downcast;
  in the time of trial; and
  in the hour of temptation.

He will help you to understand;
He will help you to pray;
He will help you to fight;
He will help you to avoid the snares;
He will help you to despise the vanities of this poor world.
Ah, my fellow-sinner, this help is promised, because you need it all.

What a world of temptation, sin, and danger—what a world of darkness and confusion you live in! There is none to help you, none to teach you, none to lead you on your way—but Jehovah Jesus. Do not be afraid! He will hold you by the right hand, saying, "I will help you!"

Do you say,
"The way is long, and I am weary.
 The road is dark, and I have no light.
 Temptations are many, how shall I resist them?
 I need grace, where can I find it? Oh, how shall I persevere?"

Afflicted soul!
Is there no Helper?
Is there none to pity?
Is there none to guide?

Where is your heavenly Father? Where is Jesus? Where is the Comforter? Where is He who feeds His flock like a Shepherd; who gathers His lambs in His arms, and carries them close to His heart? (Isaiah 40:11) Where is He who has promised to hold you by the right hand, saying, "Do not be afraid—I will help you!"

Lift up your eyes to the hills, from whence comes your help. Your help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God. Fear not! (Psalm 121, Psalm 146:5)

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Where does all this vanity come from?

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

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"Vanity of vanities, ALL is vanity!" Ecclesiastes 1:2

My soul, why seek your happiness below—here in this fallen world, where "all is vanity"? Oft have you tried it, anxious still to find some earthly good. As often you have found Solomon right, that "all is vanity!"

The worldling, too, can say that all is vanity—and yet pursues it still. Be it not so with you! Let all that is empty here on earth, lead you to what alone will satisfy—the grace of God, the love of God, the Lamb of God; to "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8.)

Have you ever asked yourself, "Where does all this vanity come from?"
My soul, it comes from you—and you received it from your father Adam! You and your fellows of the human race, have caused it all.
Whence comes the tempest?
Whence come the earthquake, the pestilence, the shipwreck, the blighted crop?
Whence come sickness, famine, death?
Whence come bereavement, affliction, and sorrow?
Whence come murder, drunkenness, wars, and immorality?
Whence come all that is vile, and sad, and disappointing?
Whence comes the universal taint—the wrongs, the groans, the misery of all created things?

The poison of sin that is in you, has poisoned all others besides!
Since you are sinful—all is out of course.
Since you are vanity—all things here are vain.
The curse that fell on you—you have entailed on your children.
My soul, be humbled with the thought—consider and be wise!

Oh, look within your heart, for all is vanity there.
How swift for evil!
How dead to all that is good!
What rank corruption!
What inbred sin!
How weak your purposes for good!
How faltering your course in holiness!

If all is vanity without—it is tenfold vanity within!
If all around is vanity—you are the master-vanity of all!

Bless, God, then, O my soul—in Jesus you have that which is not vanity.
In Jesus
you have all that is solid, durable, and perfect!
You have eternal riches, strength, life, pleasure, comfort, peace!
You have a sure foundation—a Rock that can never be shaken—an unfailing help!

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What are You doing?

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

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"Where the word of a King is, there is power! Who may say to Him: What are You doing?" Ecclesiastes 8:4

What word, what power, are like the Lord's? With earthly kings words may be loud—and power small. Not so with God. His purpose knows no hindrance. His word can never fail. Who can resist His power? With God, purpose, and word, and power are but one.

Who, then, may say to God: "What are You doing?" To hinder His purpose, you must be able to overcome Omnipotence! Infinite, unchangeable, almighty—with God to will, is to perform; to speak, is to proclaim His past eternal purpose, and His endless might. Who can arrest His hand, or thwart His providence? Who can? That is not the word. Rather, who ought to wish it? Who ought to quarrel with His will, or say, either with bold or fretful opposition, "What are You doing?"

Your child has died; or perhaps a shipwreck has bereft you at one stroke, of all your family. Or other ills untold, unspeakable, have made you drink the wine of desperation. My friend, these things were ordained by God "before the world began." In God's eternal mind it was written—it was settled long ago. How vain to say, "What are You doing?" And when the time was come, God sent His messengers—noiseless, unseen, invisible—to do His righteous will. Could you have said, "What are You doing with my child? What are You doing with the winds and waves? Forbear!"

Your will was not consulted—your permission was not asked. Do not say, "What are You doing?" Be silent before the omnipotent Disposer! "I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" (Psalm 39:9.) "But what can I say? He Himself has done this! I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul." (Isaiah 38:15.) Go softly all your years—yet not "in anguish of soul." If you have faith in Christ, you are better taught than this. Go softly—yet in faith, in patience. Looking to Jesus, let your language be: "It is the Lord! Let my Lord do what seems good in His eyes!" (1 Samuel 3:18.)

"Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him!" Psalm 115:3

The Lord does whatever pleases Him—in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths!" Psalm 135:6

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Do not be over-righteous!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

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"Do not be over-righteous!" Ecclesiastes 7:16

How can this be? Can any man be over-righteous?
When zeal oversteps discretion;
when tasks are self-imposed;
when religious forms are trusted in;
when flesh is vainly mortified—
all this is being over-righteous!
God's people unwittingly fall into these very errors.

Prayer, as a task, persisted in—that we may think how long our prayers have been—this is a great mistake. It is wrong in principle, and practice too. Have you ever been more fretful after prayer, more worldly, more inclined to levity? The truth is this—you prayed too long; your mind was over-taxed; your soul responded to your weariness. The enemy rejoiced in your infirmity—you were "over-righteous."

Or you have found refreshment in the house of worship. You have gone a second time, and found the same. You went again (three services, three sermons in a day!)—the third occasion undid the other two. Trying to have too much, you lost all. The wearied brain could not recall its former devotion; the jaded memory broke down—you were "over-righteous."

It is often the same in reading Scripture. The mind is proud of its performances, and reads too much. To read each day so many chapters; in a short time to have gone the whole round of Scripture—rapidly to move from the Law, to History, to the Prophets, to the Gospel, in the hurry—my friend, you are "over-righteous!" This is not the way to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Were you to spend a lifetime over a single Psalm, gaining daily refreshment to your soul—would be far better, than to scamper rapidly through the Word.

When household duties are neglected for the sake of devotional exercises—this, too, is being over-righteous.

The same is true when others are inconvenienced by our devotional exercises. The family waiting in the hall, the carriage at the door—while prayers are too lengthy. Is not this being "over-righteous?"

Prayer, meditation, and the Scriptures—how good they are! Yet there is a time for all things. If duties rise so thick, that you are hindered in your prayers—even this is better than prayer persisted in, and duties left undone! Beware, then, Christian friend, and do not be "over-righteous."

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Reader, either you are mad—or you once were!

(George Mylne, "Lessons for the Christian's Daily Walk" 1859)

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"The hearts of men are full of evil, and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead!" Ecclesiastes 9:3

In life a madman—a madman still in death! Such, such is man.

Man thinks he is wise. He looks with pity on the poor maniac. How little he suspects that he himself is tenfold mad—not only mad for time; mad also for eternity!
He brings madness into the world;
he imbibes madness with his mother's milk;
he learns madness at school;
he confirms and strengthens madness in manhood;
he feeds madness by all he does;
he reads madness in books;
he finds madness in every company;
he bears madness along in every walk of life;
sleeping or waking—silent or speaking—learned or ignorant—rich or poor—he is a maniac still!

A madman was his father; and so was his father's father!
Go backwards until you come to Adam—they were all maniacs!

All his children are mad; and so will be his children's children, even to the final child—they will all be maniacs!

What do you think of a man who walks blindfolded on a yawning precipice? Is he not mad?

And what are all men? What do they do?
They sport with life.
They play with death.
They slumber above the flames of Hell.
They defy their Maker and their Judge.
They think nothing of judgment and eternity
—and thus they die!
Is it a libel, then, to say, "They are all mad!"

And what comes after death? Does wisdom then come? Will madness cease then? They will hear of wisdom, but they will not have it. Man will then discover how mad he has been. He will see his madness then, but only to know its endless misery!

Happy the man who, "coming to himself," resolves once more to seek his Father's house! (Luke 15:17, 18) Yes, "coming to himself." Thus speaks the parable. I ask you to mark the words; they are full of meaning. As though the man had been asleep; or drunk; or mad; or had swooned away—unconscious of himself, and all around him. And then, as touched by a sudden hand, and sense as suddenly infused, he awakes—comes to himself again, and immediately he lives, as another man. Such is fallen nature—and such is grace in its effects.

Happy is the man who thus recovers the gift of reason! Happy is the man who sits at Jesus' feet, "in his right mind," and clothed with grace—cured of his madness! Jesus has said the healing word; the "legion" is cast out and gone. The man is a maniac no more. (Luke 8:35.)

Reader, either you are mad—or you once were!
Say, have you looked to Jesus—or are you a madman still?