Grace Gems for DECEMBER, 2022

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If I might but get the broken crumbs!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"They feast on the abundance of Your house;
 You give them drink from Your river of delights!" Psalm 36:8

The Queen of Sheba was amazed at the sumptuousness of Solomon's table. She was overwhelmed when she saw the provisions of a single day; and she marveled equally at the company of servants who were feasted at the royal table.

But what is this, compared to the feast provided by the God of grace! Thousands of His people are daily fed there! Hungry and thirsty, they bring large appetites with them to the banquet—but not one of them return unsatisfied! There is enough for each, enough for all, enough forevermore!

Though the multitude which feeds at Jehovah's table is as countless as the sands of the sea, yet each one has his portion of food. Think how much grace one Christian requires, so much that nothing but the Infinite God could supply him for one day! And yet the Lord spreads His table not for one, but many saints; not for one day, but for many years; not for many years only, but for generation after generation!

Observe the full feasting spoken of in the text: The guests at mercy's banquet are satisfied, nay, more "they feast;" and that not with ordinary fare, but "on the abundance of Your house", the special abundance of God's own house! And such feasting is guaranteed by a faithful promise, to all those who are sheltered under the shadow of Jehovah's wings.

I once thought, that if I might but get the broken crumbs at God's back door of grace, that I would be satisfied; like the woman who said, "even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from the master's table." But no child of God is ever served with scraps and leftovers! Like Mephibosheth, they all feast from the King's own table! In matters of grace, we all have Benjamin's portion, we all have ten times more than we could have expected! And though our necessities are great, yet are we often amazed at the marvelous plenty of grace which God gives us experimentally to enjoy!

"They feast on the abundance of Your house;
 You give them drink from Your river of delights!" Psalm 36:8

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God shall surely visit you!

(James Smith, "Joseph's Dying Words" 1860)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"I am dying. But God shall surely visit you and bring you out of this land, unto the land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." Genesis 50:24

"God shall surely visit you." When I can visit my beloved Christian friends no more, God will. He visits all of His children, walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks. When His people meet He meets with them, whether in public assemblies or in the social circle.
His church is His garden in which He takes His pleasant walks.
It is His city in which He loves to dwell.
It is His family with which He feels at home.

He visits every individual Christian also.

To the babes, He shows tender care and nurse-like kindness.

To the young men, He imparts strength and courage.

To the fathers, He opens his heart and shows them the depths of His infinite love.

To the afflicted, He manifests sympathy.

To the tempted, He affords support.

And to the poor, He brings supplies.

He visits His children . . .
  in the prayer-closet,
  at the family altar, and
  in the house of prayer.

He visits them as they sit around His table, and sing His praise.

He visits them in the valley of trouble, where they sigh and weep.

He visits them when oppressed, to support and set them free.

He visits them in sickness, to comfort and make their bed.

He visits them when they backslide, to restore them.

He visits them in the valley of the shadow of death, to conduct them safely through.

The Lord has visited me at times in the past, and blessed be His name, He will surely visit me in the future. He will visit . . .
  to sweeten every bitter cup,
  to sanctify every trying dispensation, and
  to enable me patiently to bear every cross.

He will visit, to bring me up out of this land—this land of trial and tribulation, this land of sins and sorrows. His last visit will be the sweetest, as introductory to His eternal presence and glory!

He will surely visit His children, but it may be to bereave. It may be to remove some idol. Or it may be, to strip me of something which encumbers and hinders me in my journey.

He will visit and His visits will be in mercy, whether He comes . . .
  to commend, or reprove;
  to comfort, or grieve;
  to give, or take away;
  to clothe, or strip;-
  to fill the mouth with songs, or the eyes with tears!
Our prayers call for mercies, and our sins call for stripes—and He will surely answer our call.

Blessed, forever blessed, be His holy name . . .
  for every visit He has paid me,
  for every loving look He has given to me,
  for every sweet word He has spoken to me, and
  for every blessing He has conferred upon me!

And now, O Lord, visit me often, stay with me long, and manifest Yourself to me more fully and more gloriously than you have ever done! Especially visit me when on the bed of sickness, and in the hour of death when I am descending into the grave—that land of darkness and corruption! Then, then let me hear the voice of mercy saying, "God shall surely visit you, and bring you out of this land!"

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Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!

(James Smith, "Good News for All" 1860)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest!" Psalm 55:6

The trials of a believer are often severe. Many a storm has he to endure, many a river to ford, and many a fire to pass through—in his way home to the promised land. Little did the Christian think, when he first stepped into the liberty of the gospel, that there were such rough roads, dark nights, and terrible storms before him; but, more or less, every traveler to Mount Zion must experience them. It is generally found to be a rough road, which leads to the Celestial City. Many a Christian has found his courage fail him, and his heart misgive him, on his way home.

The darkness is sometimes so dense,
the cross is at times so heavy,
the disappointment is at some seasons so great
—that the stoutest heart quails, and unites with the timid spirit, in exclaiming, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest!"

These trials are necessary to . . .
   try our sincerity,
   exercise our graces, and
   render the promises sweet and precious.

When all goes smooth, and everything is pleasant . . .
  we attach but little importance to the promises,
  have little power in prayer, and
  are too apt to over-value ourselves.
But trying times . . .
  
endear the throne of grace,
   strip us of pride and self-importance,
   and strengthen our trust in Jesus.

Never is Christ so precious, as in times of peculiar trial.
Never is the Bible so valued, as in the day of trouble and distress.

The wilderness with its barren burning sands, its storms and tempests, its dangers and its difficulties—endears the promised land; and makes the pilgrim occasionally to cry out, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest!"

Rest! O how sweet is the thought of rest to the weary, way-worn, exhausted traveler! Rest! O how sweet is the thought of rest to the afflicted, tried, and tempted Christian! He most generally thinks of Heaven as a place of rest:
   rest from suffering,
   rest from sorrow,
   rest from toil, and
   rest from conflict.

Rest with Jesus.

Rest in the home of God.

Rest, perfect and perpetual rest.

Peaceful and glorious rest.

We have the foretastes of it occasionally now, which makes us at times long for its fullness and perfection. Like the grapes of Eshcol, which when tasted, stimulates us to hasten across the wilderness that we may take possession of the promised land; so the inward calm, the secret repose, the rest at times enjoyed in the soul, urges us on, and makes us cry out, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest!"

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Look up today, O parched plant!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing." Ezekiel 34:26

Here is sovereign grace, "I will send down showers." Is it not sovereign, divine mercy—for who can say, "I will send down showers," except God? There is only one voice which can speak to the clouds, and bid them beget the rain, "Who sends down the rain upon the earth? Who scatters the showers upon the green herb? Do not I, the Lord?" Grace is the gift of God, and is not to be created by man.

It is also needed grace. What would the ground do without showers? You may break the clods, you may sow your seeds—but what can you do without the rain? As absolutely needful, is the divine blessing. In vain you labor—until God bestows the plenteous shower, and sends the needed grace down!

Then, it is plenteous grace. "I will send down showers." It does not say, "I will send them drops," but "showers." So it is with grace. If God gives a blessing, He usually gives it in such a measure that there is not room enough to receive it. Plenteous grace! Ah! we need plenteous grace . . .
  to keep us humble,
  to make us prayerful,
  to make us holy,
  to make us zealous,
  to preserve us through this life,
  and at last to land us in Heaven!
We cannot do without saturating showers of grace!

Again, it is seasonable grace. "I will send down showers in season." What is your season this morning? Is it the season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. "I will send down showers in season."

And here is a varied grace. "I will give you showers of blessing." The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God's blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If He gives converting grace, He will also give comforting grace. He will send "showers of blessing." Look up today, O parched plant, and open your leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering!

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O the wonders couched in electing love!

(James Smith, "God's Special Treasure" 1860)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"For you are a holy people who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be His own special treasure!" Deuteronomy 7:6

God highly prizes His people. Yes, it is impossible to say how highly He prizes them. Those are wondrous words, "For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own special treasure!" Psalm 135:4

Did the shepherd prize his flock? God calls His people, "His flock, His beautiful flock."

Does the miser prize his wealth? God says of His people, "You shall be a special treasure unto Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine."

Does the prince prize his jewels? God says of His people, "They shall be Mine, in that day when I make up My jewels!"

Does the bridegroom prize his beloved and dearly purchased bride? It is written, "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you!"

Does the reigning monarch prize his crown? God has said, "You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."

What wondrous love, such expressions as these represent!
How precious must the Lord's people be to Him!
Truly they are His special treasure!

God chose them to be special unto Himself.
He chose them out from among others.
He chose them in preference to others.

He chose them out from others, on purpose that they may be a special people unto Himself. And in so doing, He acted FREELY. It was not on account of anything He saw in them, or on account of anything He expected from them; but in the exercise of His most free and holy sovereignty, He chose them to participate in the glory of His Son!

In choosing them, He acted also DELIBERATELY. It was no hasty choice.
His thoughts had been eternally filled with them.
His heart had been eternally set upon them.
Therefore He chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world!

In choosing them, He acted WISELY, as He really desired to have them. For each one of them is ready to confess that if God had not chosen them, that they would never have chosen Him! The nature regulates the choice; and as our nature is carnal and impure, we would never have chosen God who is spiritual and holy.

His choice was just an early expression of His LOVE. The love which chose them, would do anything for them, and give anything to them! Therefore God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for them all; and in so doing, gave them the assurance that He will also freely give them all things in Christ.

O the wonders couched in electing love!

This act of choosing such creatures as we are, to be a special people unto Himself, displays . . .
  such grace,
  such condescension,
  such infinite wisdom and love!

God's election says, "The Lord loves you!" Loves us! Yes, and with a love that is eternal, immutable, sovereign, infinite, and free! All the love of God is lavished upon us as His special people in Christ. Oh, those wondrous words of Jesus, "You have loved them, even as You have loved Me!" John 17:23

But few among the worldly wise,
But few of nobler race,
Obtain the favor of Your eyes,
Almighty King of grace!

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The grand object of the eye of faith!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"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 4:18

In our Christian pilgrimage it is well for the most part to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown, and onward is the goal. Whether it is for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love—the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith!

Looking into the future, the Christian sees:
  sin cast out,
  the body of sin and death destroyed,
  the soul made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of eternal glory.

Looking further yet, the believer's enlightened eye can see death's river passed.
He sees himself . . .
  enter within the pearly gates,
  hailed as more than conqueror,
  crowned by the hand of Christ,
  embraced in the arms of Jesus,
  glorified with Him, and
  made to sit together with Him on His throne!

Contemplation of my glorious future may well relieve,
    the darkness of the past, and
    the gloom of the present!

The joys of Heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth!

Hush, hush, my fears!

Death
is but a narrow stream, and you shall soon have forded it!

Death, how brief!
Immortality, how endless!

Time, how short!
Eternity, how long!

The road is so, so short! I shall soon be there!

"In the future, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day; and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing!" 2 Timothy 4:8

"Our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who . . . will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body!" Philippians 3:20-21

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Tell them that their poor brother is in flames—tormenting flames, inextinguishable flames!

(James Smith, "The Lost Soul's Request!" 1860)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"I beg you, father Abraham, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers.
 Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment!" Luke 16:27, 28

Observe the object of the rich man's solicitude, his "five brothers." They were perhaps younger than himself, though it is probable that he was comparatively young.
They were still in the bright land of hope, and he was in the dismal region of despair!
They were still under the kind reign of mercy, and he was under the iron rod of justice!

He feared for them, for he knew in what state he had left them!

He feared for them, lest they should persevere in sin, and at length come to the same place of torment! He most ardently desired their salvation, and that they might escape the sure wrath that is coming. He despaired of their salvation by ordinary means, and therefore he petitioned that Lazarus may be sent, that he might testify to them.

Look at this lost soul in Hell, he remembers his brethren and begs:
"Send Lazarus to my brothers! Lazarus is no longer a poor, ulcerated beggar—he will make a fit and suitable preacher! They know that he is dead. They will be greatly affected by his appearance among them, and by the change that has taken place in him. O, send Lazarus, and let him bear testimony to the reality of this place of torment, to the certainty of all impenitent sinners coming here, however rich or distinguished they were on earth. Let Lazarus testify as to the nature of this place of torment, and tell them that their poor brother is in flames—tormenting flames, inextinguishable flames! Tell them that I am denied one solitary drop of water, or anything which will in any way alleviate my dreadful sufferings! Let him assure them . . .
  that Hell is real,
  that the punishment is most intense,
  that the sufferers are immortal,
  that annihilation is a fiction, and
  that deliverance from this fearful agony is impossible!
Let, O let him tell them, that once here, they are here forever! Forever! Forever!
And, O let him warn them of the folly, the madness, of neglecting the soul and its salvation. Let him testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment! It is possible. It is probable. It is certain, if they live and die in sin as I did!"

That poor wretch dreaded their coming there, for if anything could add to his torments, it would be to see his own brothers under the same condemnation, in the same horrid place of punishment! He also dreaded it, as most probably by his own example, and by his influence, he had hardened them in sin, and encouraged them in their ungodly course. It would therefore be an aggravation of his woe, and cause the flame that tormented him to blaze more fiercely, to see their eternal sufferings as his own fault.

It must be dreadful, to be the cause or the occasion of another's soul being lost forever, and to have the sufferings of that soul constantly before our eyes!

O what a terrible thing, the exercise of a strong memory in Hell must be!

Reader! How is it with you? Inquire, inquire diligently, I beseech you! Is there any, even the most remote probability of your being sent into that place of torment? Think . . .
  of being tormented in flames of fire,
  of being tormented without the least alleviation,
  and of being so tormented forever and ever!

Think of going directly from the bright land of hope—to the dismal regions of despair!

Think of going from a land of light, of Bibles, of the means of grace—to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire!

Is not the thought dreadful!

If Hell was to be the doom of your greatest enemy, would you not try to prevent it? What if it should be the doom of your brothers, your sisters, your husband, your wife, your father, your mother! Can you admit the possibility, without being determined to leave no means unused, which would be likely to prevent so fearful a calamity?

But what if Hell should be the destiny of your own soul? What if it should! It will be your certain doom, if you die unconverted. Perhaps there are some now in Hell, once related to you, who are now concerned for you. Are you as much concerned for yourself?

Christian! Have you not some dear ones on the road to Hell, for whom you should be especially concerned?

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A portion for each day!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes, and he dined regularly in the presence of the king of Babylon for the rest of his life. As for his allowance, a regular allowance was given to him by the king, a portion for each day for the rest of his life." 2 Kings 25:29-30

Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king's palace with a 'supply' to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord's people. A daily portion is all that a man really needs. We do not need tomorrow's portion; for that day has not yet dawned, and its needs are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June, does not need to be quenched in February for we do not feel it yet. If we have enough for each day as the days arrive, we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day, is all that we can enjoy.

We cannot eat or wear more than the day's supply of food and clothing. Any surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveler, but a bundle of staffs  is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. Enough is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this, is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with His daily allowance.

Jehoiachin's case is ours; we have . . .
  a sure portion;
  a portion given to us by the King;
  a gracious portion;
  and a perpetual portion.
Here is surely ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of grace. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance, that a daily portion is provided for you. In the Word, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God—you shall receive renewed grace and strength. In Jesus, all needful things are laid up for you. Never go hungry, while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy! Enjoy your continual allowance!

"Give us each day, our daily bread." Luke 11:3

"As your days, so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25

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The sanctification of the Spirit

(James Smith, "The Great Comforter" 1858)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"God has chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit." 2 Thessalonians 2:13

To sanctify, is to separate and set apart for holy purposes and holy uses. The Lord has separated His people, by choosing them in Christ to be holy; and He sanctifies them now for Himself, by the power, operation, and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

In sanctification, a work is commenced which is to make us exactly like Christ. A sanctified person has . . .
  his heart changed,
  his will renewed,
  his understanding enlightened,
  his conscience purified, and
  his affections spiritualized.

Sanctification extends to the whole man, soul and body; and is carried on through . . .
  the Word,
  the ordinances, and
  the providence of God.

Sanctification has its seat in the heart; but it regulates the whole man, and appears in his conduct in every-day life. If a man experiences the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, then . . .
  sin grieves him,
  Satan tries him,
  the world troubles him,
  and Heaven attracts him!

Spirit of Jesus, sanctify us deeply, thoroughly—that we may be just like Jesus! Sanctify us . . .
  by every trial,
  by every affliction,
  by every privilege,
  by every comfort!

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HE cares for ME!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7

It is a happy way of soothing sorrow, when we can feel "HE cares for ME!" Christian! do not dishonor God, by always wearing a brow of worry! Come, cast your burden upon your God! You are staggering beneath a weight, which your Father would not feel. What seems like a crushing burden to you, would be but as small dust to Him. Nothing is so sweet as to,
  "Lie passive in God's hands,
   And know no will, but His."

O child of suffering, be patient! God has not overlooked you in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Do not sit down in despair.

There is One who cares for you!

His all-seeing eye is fixed on you!

His all-loving heart beats with pity for your woe!

His omnipotent hand shall yet bring you the needed help!

The darkest cloud, shall scatter itself in showers of mercy.

The blackest gloom, shall give place to the morning light.

If you are one of His family, He will bind up your wounds and heal your broken heart. Do not doubt His grace because of your troubles, but believe that He loves you as much in seasons of distress, as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead, if you would leave providing to the God of providence!

If God cares for you, why need you care also? Can you trust Him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens; He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! Be done with fretful worry, and leave all your concerns in the hand of your gracious God!

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We soon grow dull, cold, lifeless, and inactive!

(James Smith, "The Great Comforter" 1858)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"It is the Spirit who quickens; the flesh profits nothing." John 6:63

All real religion begins with the quickening of the Spirit.
When we experience this . . .
  we begin to breathe after spiritual things,
  we open our eyes in a new world,
  we hunger and thirst after righteousness,
  and at length taste that the Lord is gracious.
We then have . . .
  new thoughts,
  new desires,
  new hopes,
  new fears,
  new joys, and
  new sorrows.
The eye fixes on Christ,
the heart goes out to Christ, and
the chief desire of the soul is to be like Christ.

The Spirit not only quickens us at first, but all through life we need and are dependent on the Spirit's quickening. He quickens us to pray, and He quickens us in prayer. It is His quickening which puts . . .
  life into our graces,
  energy into our prayers,
  confidence into our expectations, and
  enables us to resist Satan, steadfast in the faith.

If His quickening power is withheldwe soon grow dull, cold, lifeless, and inactive!
We have . . .
  no power in prayer,
  no enjoyment in ordinances,
  no liberty in speaking to the saints,
  nor profit in reading God's Word.
Every duty becomes a task,
every privilege becomes a burden,
and every cross appears insupportable!

While under the quickening operation of the Spirit, we can do all things; but without His quickening we can do nothing.

Often, very often, have we to cry out from bitter experience, "My soul cleaves unto the dust; quicken me according unto Your Word!" Psalm 119:25

Quickening Spirit, daily quicken my soul!

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Shame on you, O silly heart!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"What makes you better than anyone else?
 What do you have, that God hasn't given you?
 And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

Christian! By nature, you are no better than others! What would you be, without the continual influence of the Spirit? O believer, whatever you are, you have nothing to make you proud. The more you have, the more you are in debt to God; and should you be proud of that which renders you a debtor?

Consider your origin, look back to what you were. "Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins!" Ephesians 2:1. Consider what you would have been, but for divine grace!

It is only God's grace, which has made you to differ! Great believer, you would have been a great sinner, if God had not made you to differ! O you who are valiant for truth, you would have been as valiant for error, if grace had not laid hold upon you!

Therefore, do not be proud, though you have a wide domain of grace; for once you had not a single thing to call your own, except your sin and misery!

Oh! strange infatuation, that you who have borrowed everything, should think of exalting yourself! How foolish that you, a poor dependent pensioner upon the bounty of your Savior, are yet proud! Shame on you, O silly heart!

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The OFFICES of Christ

(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

Play Audio!  Download Audio

If we look at the OFFICES of Christ, it endears Him to our hearts.

He is a PROPHET, to . . .
  instruct the ignorant,
  lead the blind, and
  make the foolish, wise.
He . . .
  unfolds the Father's mind,
  opens the everlasting covenant,
  and teaches all His people to profit.

He is a PRIEST, to . . .
  atone for the guilty,
  reconcile those who are enemies, and
  intercede on behalf of transgressors.
He . . .
  satisfies justice,
  magnifies mercy, and
  brings a holy God and polluted sinners into an honorable union.

He is a KING, and as such He . . .
  receives the discontented,
  rules over innumerable penitent criminals,
  and defends all His subjects from danger.
His power is omnipotent,
His resources are boundless,
His government is peaceful, and
all the statutes of His kingdom are wise, merciful, and just.

He is also our husband, who loves, cherishes, and honors His beloved blood-bought bride. He . . .
  loves her as He loves Himself,
  treats her with unutterable kindness, and
  will allow nothing to separate her from His love.

This causes us to sing:
"Jesus my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
  My Prophet, Priest, and King,
  My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
  Accept the praise I bring!"

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The devil's jackals!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"One evening David got up from his bed and strolled around on the roof of the palace.
 From the roof he saw a woman bathing—a very beautiful woman." 2 Samuel 11:2

At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation! Both at home and abroad we are liable to meet with allurements to evil. The morning opens with peril, and the shadows of evening find us still in jeopardy.

They are well kept, whom God keeps!
But woe unto those who go forth into the world, or even dare to walk their own house, unarmed. Those who think themselves secure, are more exposed to danger than any others. The armor-bearer of sin, is self-confidence.

David should have been engaged in fighting the Lord's battles, instead of which he tarried at Jerusalem, and gave himself up to luxurious repose—for he arose from his bed in the evening.

Idleness
and luxury are the devil's jackals, and find him abundant prey.
In stagnant waters, noxious creatures swarm.
Neglected soil, soon yields a dense tangle of weeds and briers.
Oh for the constraining love of Jesus to keep us active and useful!

When I see the King of Israel sluggishly leaving his couch at the close of the day and falling at once into temptation, let me take warning, and set holy watchfulness to guard the door! Is it possible that the king had mounted his housetop for prayer and devotion? If so, what a caution is given us to count no place, however secret—a sanctuary from sin!

While our hearts are so like a tinder-box, and sparks so plentiful—we had need use all diligence in all places, to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops, and enter prayer-closets! And even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin—unless God's grace prevents it.

Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down—but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night, as well as a guardian for the day.

O blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this night. Amen.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The garment which the Savior always wore!

(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

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"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-30

HUMILITY is a most precious grace; it is filled with beauty, loveliness, and glory. This is the garment which the Savior always wore. This is the grace which gave such a charm to all that He did and said. It is one of our best garments, and without it the soul is generally naked. "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another." 1 Peter 5:5.

For lack of humility, the Church is rent and torn with divisions. For lack of humility, believers bring many trials and crosses on themselves, and sow the bitter seeds of trouble and remorse.

If I were truly humble, I must be happy, for it is with such Jehovah dwells: "For this is what the high and lofty One says, He who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and humble in spirit." Isaiah 57:15. To such He looks with esteem, love, and delight: "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My Word." Isaiah 66:2.

"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13. Pride is . . .
  most loathsome to God,
  injurious to men, and
  a stronghold of Satan within us.

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble!" James 4:6. He keeps the proud at a distance, and will not allow them to approach him: "Though the Lord is great, He cares for the humble, but He keeps His distance from the proud!" Psalm 138:6. He threatens them with everlasting destruction. "The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished!" Proverbs 16:5

Lord, give me true humility, and let me be clothed with it from day to day!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Such likeness between men and swine!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

Rowland Hill illustrated the folly of sinners, by the story of a butcher who was followed by the swine right into the slaughterhouse. As pigs are not usually in the mind to go where they are wanted, it seemed a mystery how these animals were so eager to follow their executioner; but when it was seen that he wisely carried a bag of corn with which he enticed the creatures onward, the riddle was solved at once. Unsuspicious of impending death, the hogs cared only for the passing gratification of their appetites, and hastened to the slaughter!

Just in the same manner, ungodly men follow the great enemy of souls down into the jaws of Hell, merely because their depraved passions are pleased with the lusts of the flesh and the pleasures of sin which the devil gives them by handfuls along the road. Alas, that there should be such likeness between men and swine!

The joys of sin are so short and so unsatisfactory that they can never be thought of for a moment, as a fitting inducement for a rational being to lose his immortal soul. Will a few hours' foolery, gambling, drinking, or immorality—compensate for eternal fire? Is the momentary indulgence of a base passion, worth . . .
  enduring of flames which never can be quenched,
  eternally moaning in vain for a drop of water,
  being tormented by the never-dying worm,
  being shut out from Heaven forever,
  being eternally cursed by God!

Is any sin worth all this?

Can any gain make up for this?

O you who delight in the poisonous sweets of sin, remember that though pleasant in the mouth for the moment—sin will be as wormwood and gall in your belly forever!

Why will you swallow the bait, when you know that the hook is there?

Why will you be lured by the Satanic fowler? Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird. But you are more foolish than the birds, and fly into the snare when you know it to be there! O that you were wise, and would consider your latter end. Let that one word "Eternity!" ring in your ears, and drive out the giddy laughter of worldlings who prefer fleeting sensual joys, to the eternal pleasures at God's right hand.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

O sad spectacle of misery, grief, and woe!

(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

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"Jesus came to take away our sins!" 1 John 3:5

Here notice the purpose and end of His coming: "To take away our sins!"

Our sins were committed against Himself.
They deserved His everlasting displeasure.
They called aloud for His vengeance to awake and punish us.

He foresaw the whole of them, in all their variety, enormity, and aggravation. He knew that they would be sins against His law, His love, and His tenderest mercy; sins against light, out of bitter enmity, and perpetrated over and over again. He knew the whole amount of our vileness, and yet "Jesus came to take away our sins!" Oh, the greatness of His love!

Sin had . . .
  incensed Divine justice against us,
  exposed us to Jehovah's wrath, and
  brought us under the dreadful curse of His violated law.

Therefore Jesus came and took away our sins, and at the same time . . .
  satisfied the claims of divine justice,
  appeased the Father's wrath,
  and bore our curse Himself!

O wondrous love!

O marvelous grace!

O astonishing mercy!

But more wondrous, more marvelous, more astonishing—is Jesus Himself, who did this for us, and did it freely, without solicitation, or anything in us to induce Him to do it!

But how could Jesus take away our sins? "God made Him to be sin for us."
He bore the weight of our sins,
He endured their merited punishment,
and He suffered the shame they procured.

He was . . .
  despised by men,
  tormented by devils,
  smitten with the sword of divine justice,
  forsaken by His Father,
  mocked by His creatures,
  overwhelmed with grief,
  torn with anguish, and
  His heart was broken with reproach and agony
—all for a poor, sinning, sorrowing, Hell-deserving creature like me!


Sin lay upon Him,
the wrath of God was endured by Him,
the most fearful terrors surrounded Him,
Heaven, earth, and Hell, appeared as though leagued against Him!
Men grossly insulted Him,
devils tried all in their power to destroy Him, and
God was pleased to bruise Him, and then leave Him to languish in heart-breaking sorrow.

O sad spectacle of misery, grief, and woe!

Was there ever sorrow, like unto Your sorrow?

Was there ever love, like unto Your love?

You might have sat upon Your throne, enjoying Your own glory, happiness, and felicity forever—and have justly left us to perish in our sins, and suffer for our own transgressions! But no, you would be Jesus—you would save Your people from their sins!

You would come to take away our sins, though in so doing, justice took away Your honor, happiness, and life. You would not leave us to perish, but You would put away our sins by the sacrifice of Yourself. You have . . .
  turned away Jehovah's wrath,
  cast all our sin into the depths of the sea, and
  bore our punishment in Your own body on the cruel tree!

Indeed Your love is astonishing, inconceivable, and almost too great for my weak faith to believe!

Dear Lord Jesus, You are exactly what I need, and You are all that I need. Your love will be . . .
  a sufficient portion in life,
  a divine cordial in death, and
  an ocean of felicity in which to bathe forever!

To see Him, love Him, and extol Him—is the Heaven of every Christian. He is . . .
  sweeter than honey,
  more pleasant than the light, and
  more precious than life itself!

To know Him, is to be truly wise.
To live upon Him, is to be happy.
To walk with Him, is to be holy.
To look to Him, expect from Him, and cast all our cares upon Him—is to honor Him.

    ~  ~  ~  ~

A football to be kicked from man to man!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

Two learned doctors were angrily disputing the nature of food, and allowing their meal to lie untasted; while nearby, a simple farmer was eating heartily of that which was set before him.

Just so, the religious world is full of quibblers, critics, and debaters, who, like the doctors, argue over religious controversies, without profit either to themselves or others. Those are far happier, who imitate the farmer—and feed upon the Word of God, which is the true food of the soul.

Questioning with honesty and candor is not to be condemned, when the object is to "prove all things, and hold fast that which is good." But to treat Scripture as if it were a football to be kicked from man to man, is irreverence, if not worse!

Study the  Word of God; lay hold upon it, and spend your time in feasting upon precious truth! Reader, argue, if you please—but remember that communion with the Lord Jesus gives infinitely more enjoyment than disputing can ever afford you. Eat, don't argue!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus!

(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

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"I have set the Lord always before me!" Psalm 16:8

With the Lord always before us . . .
  our faith will be strong,
  our hope will be vigorous,
  our humility will be deep,
  our penitence will be abiding,
  our evidences will be satisfactory,
  and our example will be bright!

Let us, therefore, set the Lord always before us . . .
  to meditate upon His love, grace, and goodness;
  to admire His holiness, condescension, and patience; and
  to commune with Him, as our Friend and loving Father, from day to day.

Then we shall not . . .
  fear men,
  dread death, or
  be alarmed at the convulsions that take place in our world!
Our confidence will be strong,
our peace will flow like a river, and
our righteousness like the waves of the sea.

It is when we take the eye off the Lord, and look into SELF, that . . .
  our doubts, fears, and unbelief—arise and work,
  Satan gains an advantage over us, and
  the world fascinates or frightens us!

Let us therefore, look . . .
  out of self,
  away from the world,
  above our trials,
and look simply to Jesus!
This is the way to . . .
  enjoy peace,
  grow in grace, and
  abound in every good work.

Let us look away from sin, to Jesus making atonement for it!

Let us look away from guilt on the conscience, to Jesus as bearing the iniquity of our holy things before the Lord!

Let us look away from imperfect duties deserving punishment, to His magnificent righteousness!

Let us look away from our cold hearts and lifeless prayers, to His constant and all-prevalent intercession!

We shall never maintain . . .
  peace in our consciences,
  evenness in our walk, or
  consistency in our lives,
but as we keep the Lord always before us!

Therefore . . .
  if we wish to be happy,
  if we desire to be holy,
  if we would die in peace,
let us look simply, only, always, and in everything—to Jesus!

O Savior, may I set You before me as. . .
  my fountain of supply,
  my source of comfort,
  my rock of strength,
  my way of salvation,
  and my bright example!

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!" Hebrews 12:2

   ~  ~  ~  ~

A bird that is tied by a string!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." Acts 8:23

"If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!" John 8:36

A bird that is tied by a string, seems to have more liberty than a bird in a cage; it flutters up and down, and yet it is held just as fast.

When a man thinks that he has escaped from the bondage of sin in general, and yet evidently remains under the power of some one favored lust, he is woefully mistaken in his judgment as to his spiritual freedom. He may boast that he is out of the cage, but assuredly the string is on his leg!

He who has his fetters knocked off, all but one chain, is a prisoner still.

"Let not any iniquity have dominion over me," is a good and wise prayer; for one pampered sin will slay the soul, as surely as one dose of poison will kill the body!

There is no need for one to be bitten by a whole nest of deadly vipers, the tooth of one cobra is quite sufficient to insure his destruction.

One sin, like one match, can kindle the fires of hell within the soul!

The practical application of this truth should be made by the professor who is a slave to any lust, or to covetousness. How can you be free—if any one of these chains still holds you fast?

We have met with professors who are haughty, and despise others; how can these be the Lord's free men, while pride captivates their heart?

In will and intent, we must break every chain of sin! We must perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord—or we cannot hope that the Son has made us free indeed.

O Holy Spirit, break every chain of sin, I beseech you!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

One wrong step, and down we go!

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"How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and only a few find it!" Matthew 7:14

In some sense the path to Heaven is very safe, but in other respects there is no road so dangerous! It is beset with difficulties. One wrong step, and down we go! And how easy it is to take that treacherous step, if grace is absent!

What a slippery path is that which some of us have to tread! How many times have we to exclaim with the Psalmist, "But as for me, my feet were slipping, and I was almost gone!"

If we were strong sure-footed mountaineers, this would not matter so much, but in ourselves how weak we are!

Even in the best roads, we soon falter!

In the smoothest paths, we quickly stumble!

These feeble knees of ours, can scarcely support our tottering weight!

A straw may trip us up, and a pebble can wound us!

We are mere infants, tremblingly taking our first steps in the walk of faith.
Our heavenly Father holds us by the arms, or we would soon tumble down!

Oh, if we are kept from falling—how must we thank the patience, power and wisdom of God, who watches over us moment by moment! Think . . .
  how prone we are to sin,
  how apt we are to choose dangerous paths,
  how strong is our tendency to cast ourselves down!
These reflections will make us sing more sweetly than we have ever done, "Glory to Him, who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy!" Jude 24

We have many foes who try to push us down and destroy us!

The road is rough, and we are weak!

But in addition to this, enemies lurk in ambush, who rush out when we least expect them—and labor to trip us up, or hurl us down the nearest deadly precipice!

Only an Almighty arm can preserve us from these unseen foes, who are seeking to destroy us at every step! Such an arm is engaged for our defense. He is faithful who has promised, and He is able to keep us from falling—so that with a deep sense of our utter weakness, we may cherish a firm belief in our perfect safety!

"I give them eternal life and they will never perish, ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

   ~  ~  ~  ~

God's perfections and glorious attributes!

(James Smith, "The Way to Be Happy" 1855)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"The Lord Almighty is with us! The God of Jacob is our fortress!" Psalm 46:7

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31

Who can prevail against us? Who can really injure us? Let us daily think of God's glorious perfections, and view them as engaged for us at all times.

His power is engaged to support, defend, and strengthen us.

His omniscient eye is constantly upon us, watching over us for good.

His omnipresence is our safeguard from all our foes, for no one can come and find our God absent from us.

His justice and righteousness shine in all His dealings with us, and are like lofty mountains round about us.

His holiness shines in all His purposes and plans, and forbids the thought that He will act unsuitably towards us.

His mercy is ever great towards us, and by it He sympathizes with us in all our sorrows, griefs, and woes.

His goodness will constantly supply us, and is sufficient to fill us with admiration and astonishment.

His truth renders certain, every promise He has given and recorded in His Word.

His immutability bears us up and bears us on, confirming our faith and hope in His Word.
 
His wisdom frustrates the designs of our foes, and arranges and manages all for our welfare.

His eternity is the date of our happiness, and the duration of our unspeakable blessedness!

Here is enough to . . .
  engage our thoughts,
  overflow our minds, and
  forever fill us with adoration and praise!

What a God is Jehovah! And Jehovah in Jesus, is ours!

How cheering this fact, and what sweet support it yields to the mind—to meditate on God's perfections and glorious attributes, seeing them all in Jesus—and in Him, engaged for our present and everlasting welfare!

What could shake our minds, if we did but firmly believe that God's omnipotence is engaged to defend us to the uttermost?

What could tempt us to commit any known sin, if we were realizing that God's omniscient eye is ever upon us; yes, that God is present with us, and that He is our sin-hating Father?

What could lead us into murmuring and rebellion, if we were fully persuaded that God's holiness and justice are for us, and will shine resplendent in all His dealings with us?

What could lead us to think that our prayers would not be answered, nor our petitions be regarded—if our minds were influenced by the assurance that God is truth?

How could we believe that He would ever turn against us, if we rightly viewed His immutability?

Or, how could we think that our affairs could be disordered, if we felt satisfied that His wisdom was working for us at all times!

"The Lord Almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress!" Psalm 46:7

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Christian's hope!

(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

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"The hope which is laid up for you in Heaven" Colossians 1:5

Many Christians have but little in hand, but they have much in hope.
They have little on earth, but they have unsearchable wealth in Heaven!
The present is the worst state they will ever be in. All beyond death is bright, blissful and glorious!

The Christian's hope consists in both freedom and possession.

The Christian's hope consists in freedom from . . .
  all the pains which we now experience, both in mind and body;
  all the hindrances which are so thickly strewed in our way in this evil world;
  all the fears which now beset, agitate, and harass us day by day;
  all the forebodings which often make our lives bitter and gloomy;
  all the sins which are now our plague, disease, and torment;
  all our needs, and all possibility of needing—for God will fully supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Oh, what a mercy it will be to enjoy such freedom, and to possess the inward consciousness that it will be enjoyed forever!

The Christian will not only be free from all that is painful and distressing, but he will also possess . . .
  perfect, settled, and everlasting peace;
  sinless faculties and immortal powers with which to serve and enjoy God forever;
  permanent, perpetual, and uninterrupted joy;
  the presence and enjoyment of Jesus, we shall see Him, be with Him, and be like Him;
  ALL that we can consistently wish or desire!

Our hope is laid up for us in Heaven. This betokens . . .
  its excellency—being kept in so excellent a place;
  its certainty and security—no thieves can break through to steal;
  its nature—it is spiritual, holy, Heavenly.

O glorious hope! O blessed prospect! It leaves us nothing to long for, nothing to desire!

What a mercy it is . . .
  when comforts run short,
  when trials press sorely,
  when a dreary winter of affliction sets in,
to remember that we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for us, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay!

How this blessed hope should . . .
  quicken our zeal,
  animate our spirits, and
  raise us above fear and despondency.

It is not what we have now—but what we shall have in Heaven which should affect us.

Our glorious inheritance is vast beyond calculation, it is safe beyond the possibility of failure!

The wilderness will soon be passed, the storms of life will soon subside—and eternal calm and unclouded sunshine, will soon be our happy, endless portion!

All glory to free grace!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

And then the Lord puts us into the furnace!

(James Smith, "Light for Dark Days" 1855)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows!" John 16:33

Every Christian should expect a daily cross,
  something to try his graces,
  something to render the promises necessary,
  something to make the throne of grace desirable.

We are promised trouble in God's Word,
all the saints have found trouble in this life,
trouble will be our portion to the end of our days.

Here on earth, we have no abiding city. Here we are but travelers and pilgrims—and must, therefore, expect that every day will furnish something new to make us hasten home.

This was David's experience. He would never have prayed as he did, written as he did, or been useful as he has been—but for his trials! He found . . .
  the Lord to be faithful,
  grace to be sufficient, and
  deliverance in the most suitable season.
Hence he says, "In the day of my trouble, I will call upon You; for You will answer me!" Psalm 86:7

Here is a gloomy anticipation: A "day of trouble." The believer and trouble are seldom far apart, or long apart. We are born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards. Whichever way we look, we see a source of trouble!

If we look into the heart—its depravity, deceitfulness, and wickedness are a fruitful source of trouble. If we look to the different faculties of the soul—all combine to trouble us!

Our memories, how ready to receive, retain, and produce evil, even profanity—and how backward to receive, keep, or produce what is spiritual and good. Scripture is soon forgotten; while anything which we would gladly forget, seems to be imprinted on the mind, and is produced in order to distress us.

The will, how perverse and stubborn; how often does it run out after that which is carnal, forbidden by God, and injurious to us!

The affections, how easily are they impressed with earthly things, and set upon what is vain and worldly.

The conscience, how weak, how hard, how often polluted.

If we turn from ourselves, to our families—children dead in sin; and carnal, earthly-minded relations; such are causes of trouble.

If we look at the world, whether it smiles or frowns, it is an enemy to our God and us, and a prolific source of trouble.

If we look at the church, what a source of trouble is this!
Instead of love, there is jealousy.
Instead of peace, there is conflict.
Instead of union, there is division.
Instead of brotherly kindness, there is envy.
Instead of charity, there is an unforgiving spirit.

Here is a good purpose: "I will call upon You." The Lord kindly invites us to call upon Him in trouble, and promises that He will deliver us. Every trouble, rightly understood, is an invitation from the Lord to call upon Him! We are apt to get cold and indifferent, and then the Lord puts us into the furnace, which warms and quickens our hearts. Our best prayers have generally been offered up in times of trouble. In trouble, we feel that we must pray, or sink! Oh, what a mercy to have a God to go to, in every trouble! A God who invites, promises, and will bless us!

The day of our trouble, should be a day of special prayer.
Trouble burdens the heart; prayer eases it.
Trouble disturbs the heart; prayer quiets it.
Trouble perplexes the heart; prayer guides it.

Here is sweet encouragement: "You will answer me."
It is sweetly encouraging to know that God will . . .
  listen to us,
  sympathize with us,
  and answer us,
in our many trials and sorrows.

We may argue the certainty of the Lord's answering us, from His great mercy towards His children.
Divine mercy has . . .
  a quick ear,
  a piercing eye,
  a tender heart,
  a full hand, and
  a swift foot!
When Mercy hears a poor sinner crying—she always attends, sympathizes with him, and answers. While God remains plenteous in mercy and delights in mercy—we need not fear a refusal to our prayers!

Even if the furnace should be heated seven times hotter, still we have His promise, "In the day of my trouble, I will call upon You; for You will answer me!"

What sweet encouragement is here!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Sin is shut out, and they are shut in!

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"The sound of weeping and crying will be heard no more!" Isaiah 65:19

The glorified weep no more, because all causes of grief are gone!
There are no broken friendships, nor blighted prospects in Heaven.
Poverty, famine, peril, persecution and slander—are unknown there.
No pain distresses, and no thought of death or bereavement saddens.

They weep no more, because they all are perfectly sanctified!
No "evil heart of unbelief" prompts them to depart from the living God.
They are without fault before His throne, and are fully conformed to His image!
Well may they cease to mourn, who have ceased to sin!

They weep no more, because all fear of change is past!
They know that they are eternally secure.
Sin is shut out, and they are shut in!
They dwell within a city which shall never be stormed.
They bask in a sun which shall never set.
They drink of a river which shall never run dry.
They pluck fruit from a tree which shall never wither.

Countless cycles may revolve, but eternity shall not be exhausted; and while eternity endures, their immortality and blessedness shall co-exist with it. They are forever with the Lord!

They weep no more, because every desire is fulfilled!
They cannot wish for anything which they don't already have in full possession.
  Eye and ear,
  heart and hand,
  mind and imagination,
  desire and affection,
  all the faculties,
are completely satisfied!

As imperfect as our present ideas are of the things which God has prepared for those who love Him, yet we know enough by Scriptural revelation, that the glorified saints are supremely blessed.

The joy of Christ, which is an infinite fullness of delight, is in them.

They bathe forever in the bottomless, shoreless sea of infinite blessedness!

That same joyful rest remains for us! It may not be far distant.

Before long, the weeping willow shall be exchanged for the palm branch of victory.

Sorrow's dewdrops will be transformed into the pearls of everlasting bliss!

"The sound of weeping and crying will be heard no more!" Isaiah 65:19

"Therefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:18
 
 Revelation 21:4, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
 There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The gospel

(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

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"For we know, brethren beloved by God, that He has chosen you; because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction." 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

The gospel reveals . . .
  a Savior, in whom we must trust;
  a Sovereign, whom we must obey;
  a Priest, on whose atonement we must rest;
  a Prophet, from whom we must learn;
  a Friend, in whose love we must confide;
  a Brother, from whom we may expect;
  a Father, whose authority we must revere;
  an Apostle, whose mission we must copy; and
  an Advocate, to whom we must commit our cause.

The gospel . . .
  flows from the free love, rich grace and abundant mercy of our God;
  is founded in the Savior's person, mediation and death;
  becomes effectual through the revelation, operation and application of the Holy Spirit.
  By it He begets faith, imparts love and excites hope;
  and when accompanied by His blessing, the gospel is received in demonstration and power.

The gospel . . .
  produces penitence, and godly sorrow for sin;
  begets hatred to sin, and love to holiness;
  weans from the world, and wafts the affections to heaven;
  makes us zealous for God, and the good of immortal souls;
  delivers us from the power of darkness, and translates us into the kingdom of Jesus;
  crucifies the flesh, and liberates the spirit;
  unites Christians in love, and raises us above the fear of death;
  fortifies us against persecution, and makes us rejoice in suffering for Immanuel's name;
  humbles the spirit, and dignifies the man;
  destroys covetousness, and makes us benevolent;
  roots out pride, and implants meekness;
  transforms us from the world, and conforms us to God;
  begets hatred to impurity, and makes us chaste;
  throws down idolatry, and leads us to worship God;
  conquers SELF, and exalts Christ;
  softens the hard heart, and produces kindness;
  delivers from sin, Satan and the world;
  and devotes body, soul and spirit to the Lord.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Your children

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"Bring him unto Me!" Mark 9:19

Despairingly the poor disappointed father turned away from the disciples, to their Master. His son was in the worst possible condition, and all means had failed—but the miserable child was soon delivered from the evil one, when the parent in faith obeyed the Lord Jesus' word, "Bring him unto Me!"

Your children are a precious gift from God, but much anxiety comes with them. They may be a great joy, or a great bitterness to their parents. They may be filled with the Spirit of God, or possessed with the spirit of evil. In all cases, the Word of God gives us one recipe for the curing of all their ills, "Bring them unto Me!"

O for more agonizing prayer on their behalf, while they are yet babes. Sin is there, let our prayers begin to attack it.

In the days of their youth we shall see sad tokens of that dumb and deaf spirit, which will neither pray aright, nor hear the voice of God in the soul; but Jesus still commands, "Bring them unto Me!"

When they are grown up, they may wallow in sin and foam with enmity against God! Then, when our hearts are breaking, we should remember the great Physician's words, "Bring them unto Me!" Never must we cease to pray for them, until they cease to breathe. No case is hopeless, while Jesus lives!

The Lord sometimes allows His people to be driven into a corner, that they may experimentally know how necessary He is to them. Ungodly children, when they show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of their hearts—drive us to flee to the Strong One for strength, and this is a great blessing to us!

Whatever this day's need may be, let it like a strong current, bear us to the ocean of divine love! Jesus can soon remove our sorrow. He delights to comfort us. Let us hasten to Him, while He waits to meet us!

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Christ Exalted!

(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

Play Audio!  Download Audio  (This one is longer, but it is choice.)

If we look at the comparisons which are made use of by the Holy Spirit to set Christ forth, we behold something more of His loveliness.

He is compared to a MOTHER, and is said to have more than a mother's tenderness, kindness and care.
His concern for His people is constant,
He never loses sight of them for a moment, and
He pledges His Word that He will never forget them!

He is the CITY of REFUGE, with . . .
  the broad and clear road,
  the gates wide open, and
  the hearty welcome awaiting every sinner who approaches to escape the threatened vengeance!

He is the STRONGHOLD, which emboldens, supplies and secures all the prisoners of hope.

He is the ROCK, which shades, shelters and refreshes the weary traveler.

He is the DAY-STAR, which betokens brighter scenes, and guides the vessel of mercy across the boisterous deep, to the haven of perfect redemption and safety.

He is the SUN of RIGHTEOUSNESS, whose rising . . .
  cheers the benighted pilgrim,
  makes glad the weary citizen of Heaven, and
  produces moral beauty and fruitfulness in our world.

He is the APPLE-TREE among the trees of the forest . . .
  whose blossoms are beautiful,
  whose shade is refreshing, and
  whose fruit is sweet to the taste.

He is the BREAD of LIFE, which came down from Heaven . . .
  satisfying the hungry,
  strengthening the weak, and
  giving life unto the world.

He is the BRAZEN SERPENT, which heals easily, instantly and perfectly—all who look to Him by faith.

He is the WATER of SALVATION, which . . .
  cleanses the filthy,
  refreshes the weary, and
  makes glad the city of God.

He is the only WAY, which leads from sin, condemnation and wrath—to life, holiness, and heaven!

He is the HEAD, which thinks, plans and contrives for the welfare of the whole of His mystical body.

He is the DOOR, which admits to . . .
  the pastures of Divine truth,
  the privileges of His Church below,
  and His Father's glorious presence!

He is the FOUNDATION on which all must build for eternity, and which alone is able to support our hopes and sustain our souls, amidst the wreck of matter and the crash of worlds!

He is the CORNER-STONE, which unites, beautifies and strengthens the whole building of divine mercy.

He is the TEMPLE, where God . . .
  meets with us,
  accepts us, and
  imparts His blessing to us.

He is the ALTAR, which sanctifies both the gift and the giver.

He is the VINE, which communicates life, nourishment and fruitfulness to all its branches.

He is the ROSE of SHARON and the LILY of the VALLEY—fragrant, lovely, attractive, perfuming and unequaled in beauty and grace!

He is the FORERUNNER, who is gone before His flock . . .
  removing the obstacles,
  marking out the road, and
  ready to receive them as they finish their course.

He is the FRIEND . . .
  who loves at all times,
  whose mind never changes,
  whose love never cools, and
  who never neglects a friend in distress.

He is the greatest, best and most glorious GIFT of GOD—including, securing, and conferring every good thing upon those who sincerely receive Him.

He is the KINSMAN . . .
  who redeems the forfeited inheritance,
  who ransoms all His poor relatives from slavery,
  and whose name is held in renown.

He is the LAMB of GOD, who took up, expiated and forever put away—the sins of all who trust in Him.

He is the MESSENGER of the COVENANT, who . . .
  brings good news from God,
  carries all our requests to God, and
  ever stands as a Mediator between us and God.

He is the PEARL of GREAT PRICE, or the priceless pearl, which . . .
  all who sincerely seek, find;
  all who find, may claim; and
  all who possess, are enriched forever!

He is the PHYSICIAN, who . . .
  heals all spiritual disorders,
  restores every patient to perfect health,
  and bestows medicine and care freely.

He is the RANSOM, which . . .
  procured our release,
  ensures our liberty, and
  preserves us from going down into the pit!

He is the RIGHTEOUSNESS, which . . .
  justifies us from all charges,
  entitles us to eternal life, and
  enables us to lift up our heads with boldness in God's presence.

He is the TRUTH, which . . .
  enlightens the mind,
  purifies the heart, and
  regulates the life.

He is the FIRE, which . . .
  purges our dross,
  brightens our graces, and
  cleanses our consciences from works which deserve death.

He is the SHEPHERD, who . . .
  knows every sheep,
  watches over the whole flock, and
  never loses a lamb, by disease, accident or beast of prey.

He is the CAPTAIN of SALVATION, who . . .
  collects His soldiers,
  disciplines His troops, and
  leads them forth to certain victory over sin, the world and the devil.

He is the LADDER, by which we . . .
  rise from this earth,
  lose sight of carnal things, and
  ascend to the presence of God!

He is the SURETY . . .
  who engaged for us in the everlasting covenant,
  who is held responsible for our salvation,
  who has pledged to set us before His father's throne forever.

He is the WALL of FIRE, which surrounds, enlightens and infallibly protects—all His redeemed people!

He is the chief among ten thousand, and the ALTOGETHER LOVELY ONE!

Precious Lord Jesus, allow me . . .
  to know You more fully,
  to trust You more heartily,
  to serve You more diligently,
  to enjoy You more frequently,
  to imitate You more closely,
  to exalt You more highly, and
  to show forth Your salvation from day to day!

Your love, is my Heaven,
Your presence, is my delight, and
Your service, is the joy of my heart!

Let me daily . . .
  walk with You,
  work for You, and
  bring glory to You!

Oh, send Your Spirit to my poor heart . . .
  to exalt You,
  to honor You,
  to endear You to my soul!

Use me to bring . . .
  lost sinners to Your cross,
  believers to Your throne of grace,
  backsliders to the path of obedience.

Be my . . .
  strength in life,
  solace in death, and
  eternal portion beyond the grave!

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Some creature steals away your heart!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus?

Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of Him upon whom your affection ought to be set.

Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should have your eye steadily fixed upon the cross.

It is the incessant round of world, world, world; the constant din of earth, earth, earth—which takes away the soul from Christ.

Oh! my friends, is it not too sadly true that we can recollect anything but Christ, and forget nothing so easy as Him whom we ought to remember? While memory will preserve a 'poisoned weed', it allows the 'Rose of Sharon' to wither.

Why do we forget Christ? 

Because we have a worm in the heart, a pest-house, a charnel-house within! Lusts, vile imaginations, and strong evil passions—which, like wells of poisonous water, send out continually streams of impurity.

I have a heart, which God knows I wish I could wring from my body and hurl to an infinite distance! I have a soul which is a cage of unclean birds, a den of loathsome creatures, where dragons haunt and owls congregate, where every evil beast of ill-omen dwells; a heart too vile to have a parallel, "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked!"

This is the reason why I am forgetful of Christ.

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The Bitterness of Sin!

(James Smith, 1860)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Your ways and your deeds have procured these things unto you! This is your wickedness, it is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!" Jeremiah 4:18

Sin is the most dark subject that can engage our attention, but we have become so familiar with it, that it scarcely affects us at all. Not so the Lord, he calls it 'that abominable thing which He hates.' Yes, God hates nothing but sin; and no one, but for sin. God never hated a sinless being, and he never can. If we could get rid of sin, we would have nothing to fear; therefore we bless God that deliverance from sin is promised.

But sin is not only dangerous, it is bitter—and is the prodigious source of all bitterness! Hence the language of the prophet, "It is bitter, because it reaches unto your heart!" Jeremiah 4:18. It is called the root of bitterness. It may appear pleasant at present, and may taste sweet to the depraved palate of the sinner; but as Joab said of war, "It will be bitterness in the end!" Let us therefore think of:

The Bitterness of Sin: Sin is bitter in its NATURE, as it is . . .
  a departure from God, the source of all real happiness;
  opposition to God
, the giver of all true pleasure;
  rebellion against God
, the righteous ruler, who is pledged to punish it;
  the degradation of man, who was made in the image of the holy and happy God.

Sin is bitter in its EFFECTS:

Look over the world; all its divisions, confusions, wars, diseases, bloodshed, and cruelties—are but the effects of sin.

Look into families; all the anger, envy, jealousy, enmity, and lack of love—are but the effects of sin.

Look at individuals; all the sufferings of the body, and all the tortures of the soul; all the sorrows of time, and all the agonies of eternity—are but the fruits of sin.

Look at the seeking soul; all his cutting convictions, bitter reflections, stinging remorse, gloomy despondency, and slavish fears—are but the effects of sin.

Look at the believer; all his terrible conflicts, deep depression, gloomy foreboding, and soul-distressing fears—are all the effects of sin.

Indeed whatever is . . .
  dark and dreary,
  distressing and painful,
  alarming and terrible
—is to be traced up to sin!

Every sigh that ever heaved the bosom,
every groan that ever indicated a breaking heart,
every exclamation produced by violent pain
—all, all are the fruits of sin!

Think of . . .
  the millions who have suffered, and are suffering;
  the fearful nature and extent of their sufferings;
  the agonies experienced on earth;
  the horrors endured in Hell, and say,
must not sin, from which all these proceeded, be a bitter thing!

But here is A
Reason Assigned: "It reaches unto your heart!"
Sin is not a wound in the flesh, but a disease in the heart!
There it was conceived, there it is nourished, and from thence it flows.

Sin reaches to the heart, and defiles and pollutes it!
Indeed, man's heart is one of the most loathsome and polluted things in God's universe!
There is pollution enough in one human heart, to corrupt and defile the universe!
There is nothing so foul, base, or abominable, in earth or in Hell—but its counterpart is to be found in every man's heart!

Sin reaches to the heart, and alienates it from God. It has now . . .
  no sympathy with God,
  no desire to please him,
  no fear of offending him!
Man fears punishment, but he does not fear sin!

Sin reaches to the heart, and distracts it. It has . . .
  no settled peace,
  no holy calm,
  no quiet satisfaction.

The passions are turbulent.

The conscience is defiled.

The will is depraved.

The understanding is darkened.

The memory is a store-house of evil!

Indeed every power and faculty of the soul is injured, perverted, and wrongly influenced—by sin!

Sin reaches to the heart, and damns it! It is condemned already, and if grace does not prevent it, the sentence of condemnation will be executed, and the heart will become the seat of . . .
  the most terrible agony,
  the most torturing pain, and
  the most dreadful despair,
  and that forever!

No lake of fire and brimstone,
no bottomless pit,
no horrible tempest,
can convey to the mind any adequate idea of the horrors of damnation, which are the just desert of sin.

Truly, "it is bitter, and it reaches unto the heart!"

Reader, see how God speaks of sin, your darling sin, that sin which you now value so highly, and enjoy so much: "It is bitter!" Your sin is so bitter that no tongue or pen can describe it. And what makes it so bitter is that "it reaches to the heart," the seat of life, the source of action, and therefore . . .
  defiles the whole person,
  misdirects the whole life; and
  exposes the whole man to the wrath and curse of God, and to that wrath and curse, forever!

From this bitter root, proceeds . . .
  all the bitter words,
  all the bitter tempers, and
  all the bitter actions;
which make men miserable on earth, and
will make the lost eternally miserable in Hell!

Our one great business therefore, should be to get rid of sin—this root of bitterness! And by faith in the Lord Jesus, which purifies the heart; and by the work of the Holy Spirit, which cleanses and sanctifies the nature—we may get rid of it. Let us therefore seek first, and before anything else; first, and more than everything else—that we may be washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Holy Spirit, convince us of the bitterness of sin! May it . . .
  be bitter to our taste,
  lead us to forsake it in practice, and
  seek to be delivered from its love and power in our experience!