Grace Gems for JUNE, 2022

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Our Arabian wilderness!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me . . . I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia." Galatians 1:15-17

Paul went away from all human contact for several years, in order to spend time alone with God in the Arabian wilderness.

The newborn soul needs solitude, that, apart from the strife of tongues and the din of the world, it may meditate on those marvelous things which God has done for it. That it may frame a larger, deeper, more adequate conception of what salvation really is. That its gratitude may become more precise and more profound. That, with nothing and no one to distract, it may dedicate itself quietly and fully to its Lord.

The Bible teacher needs solitude, that he may apprehend the breadth and length and depth and height of that great, majestic, illimitable Book he is to proclaim. That he may seize hold of the truth of God—and that the truth of God may seize hold of him. That the truths of Scripture may become more than ever, his own possession and exceeding joy. And then, out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth will speak.

Every saint needs solitude, that he may shake off the dust and grime of worldliness and sin. That, waiting on the Lord, he may renew his strength. That a fresh unction from the Holy One may make him spiritually wise and strong.

In Arabia, as he came forth from the cloud, the face of Moses shone.
In Arabia, the soul of Paul duly took and strongly kept the print of Heaven.

Ah, there are none of us who can venture to dispense with our Arabian wilderness!

Is it my custom and my delight to go by myself to a quiet place, and rest awhile with Jesus? Mark 6:31

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Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne!" Revelation 5:6

"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:11-12

The Lamb of God is the center of this mystic and glowing book of the Revelation.

There is the Lamb with His wounds—the Lamb that was slain. Even in Heaven He carries those scars of His passion and death. Even in Heaven I shall be perpetually reminded that I owe everything to Calvary, and to Him who was both Victor and Victim there!

There is the Lamb in His royalty—the Lamb in the center of the Throne. The Head that once was crowned with the sharp thorns, is crowned with regal glory now! I rejoice in it for Christ's sake. I rejoice in it for my own sake, for what is there which He cannot do for me, His little one? Over the world of nature and men, over unseen principalities and powers—He rules that He may befriend my soul.

There is the Lamb shepherding His own people—the Lamb shall lead them. To all eternity He will shepherd me, feed me, protect me, uphold me! I shall never be able to dispense with Him. I shall never wish to stand alone, outside His keeping and His care. Through the everlasting years, I shall avow myself my dear Lord's debtor.

There is the Lamb in His triumphs—the Lamb shall overcome them. So, one day, I shall see all my enemies routed and dead. One happy day, I shall be entirely freed from the antagonism and harassment of my sins! He who is for me, is mightier than the hosts arrayed against me!

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

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There never was a fountain like this!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity!" Zechariah 13:1

"The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!" 1 John 1:7

There is another river, the streams of which make glad the City of God. It is a river whose waters are crimson red, rather than crystal clear. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin—His life-blood, shed for our redemption on the shameful tree!

So many have proved the potency of this blessed fountain—a great multitude which no man can number! From the East and the West, the North and the South; from the early dawn of Christ, and the modern home—they have pressed to its brink, and they are pressing still. Whoever is willing may stoop down and drink and live!

Such continuous and permanent efficacy resides in this wondrous fountain. It is not like the Pool of Bethesda, endowed with a strange and vitalizing virtue only at intervals. The dear dying Lamb never loses His power to save. The Cross is at every moment, the instrument of pardon. The blood cleanses and retains its capacity of cleansing perennially, age after age.

And so universally and omnipotently successful these blood-red waters are. From all my sin they will purge me:
  my secret sins, and my presumptuous sins,
  my sins of youth, and my sins of old age,
  my sins against others, and my sins against myself,
  my sins when I was a stranger to God, and my darker and more hateful sins since I came home to Him.

There never was a fountain like this! Exploration has not discovered its like, nor has imagination ever conceived it! It is peerless, matchless, unique. Surely I have washed and am daily washing in it, that I may be clean!

    There is a fountain filled with blood
    drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
    and sinners plunged beneath that flood
    lose all their guilty stains!

    The dying thief rejoiced to see
    that fountain in his day;
    and there may I, though vile as he
    wash all my sins away!

    Dear dying Lamb, Your precious blood
    shall never lose its power;
    till all the ransomed church of God
    be saved, to sin no more!

    E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream
    Your flowing wounds supply;
    redeeming love has been my theme,
    and shall be till I die!

    When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
    lies silent in the grave,
    Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
    I'll sing Your power to save!
     (William Cowper, 1731-1800)

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Fixing our eyes on Jesus!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

This is how I am justified and forgiven. Not by the hopeless endeavor to win and fight my way to the favor of God and the Celestial City—but by looking to Jesus alone, and by leaning on Him absolutely.
"Nothing in my hands I bring,
 Simply to Your cross I cling!"

This is how I find assurance. I am tossed with tempest, overcast with doubt, haunted with fear—while I scrutinize my own frames and feelings. But when I fix my gaze steadfastly on Him, so all-sufficient, so perfect—the morning awakens and the shadows decay; behold, the winter is past, and the flowers appear! For my own comfort, I would see Him as a glorious Sun filling my sky.

This is how I grow holy. While indeed I am bidden to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, it must not be as if everything depended on me. It must rather be by a perpetual faith in Him, and a perpetual prayer to Him, who works in me to will and to do according to His good purpose! The battle is not mine, but His. He sows the seed, and He ripens the harvest. He lays the foundation, and He puts the top-stone in its fitting place.

This is how I shall be glorified in the end. Self will have vanished in the better country, and Christ will be ALL! I shall follow the Lamb wherever He goes. I shall find my safety, my peace, my victory—in keeping very close to Him. He will be familiar, and yet He will be new every morning. And I shall discover in Him a subject of study, and wonder, and worship, and love—which is illimitable and unfathomable!

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

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This was how he grew in spiritual strength and nobleness!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
 but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
 Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
 but also to the interests of others!" Philippians 2:3-4

Did Paul live a depressed and dismayed life, because he was perpetually denying himself out of love for others? Not at all. The very reverse is true. This was how he grew in spiritual strength and nobleness!
The discipline prospered his own soul.
It gave him wisdom and insight.
It gave him courage and endurance.
It gave him sympathy and considerateness.
It gave him deep restfulness and glowing joy.
By it he gained inward vigor, and the glow of spiritual health, and spiritual life in its fire and force and fullness.

And this was how he won the hearts of men and women. They saw that his was a yearning tenderness for them, which made him unconcerned for his own comforts. And so others were conquered, and melted, and led willing prisoners to the Lord Jesus. He drew them by the magnetism of his love for them—and they followed on.

And this was how he learned the secret of fellowship with Jesus. "Even Christ did not please Himself" Romans 15:3. The servant Paul came very close to the Master, and the Master to the servant, just as the servant took up his cross and gloried in it as he carried it in his arms. His little lamp was lighted from the flame around the Savior's sacrifice.

So Paul lived in a noble place, because he looked perpetually not on his own interests—but on the interests of others. Let me master this truth. I shall never regret the surrender and sacrifice of my desires and interests. It is for my own good, as well as my Lord's wish and will.

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There is no darker sin than ingratitude!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Jesus asked: Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?" Luke 17:17

Only one leper returned to give God thanks—nine continued on their way unmindful, ungrateful. And why was that?

Perhaps they knew the danger of committing themselves to Jesus, knew that He was narrowly watched and suspected, knew that even to receive a cure from Him was in itself an offence to many.
My Lord, I seek grace not to be so cowardly!

Perhaps they were afraid that now the Master would have a claim upon them and would begin to press that claim. He who had given them their health, might demand their loyalty; and they were not ready to yield it.
My Lord, I would be more consecrated than they!

Perhaps they were seized with the wish to mix with the world, to go back to its affairs, to play their part in its business. They were impatient of delays which detained them from the promotion of their own interests.
My Lord, I would learn to hate such selfishness!

Perhaps they thought that they had only got what was their due. They thought that the loathsome disease was an injustice and a grievance, and health was their right—and they need not be profoundly grateful.
Ah my Lord, teach me to watch against this self-conceit and pride!

Perhaps they told themselves that their Benefactor was no longer necessary to them. The pressure of urgent need was past, and its disappearance makes a vast difference.
My lord, let me never forget Your untold benefits!

There is no darker sin than ingratitude! I entreat You Lord Jesus, to save me from it.

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When I hide myself in the Rock of Ages cleft for me!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore!" Psalm 125:2

God, to the humble heart that leans on Him, is like the mountains which surround Jerusalem.

In the mountain, there is safety.
In this dangerous world, I am . . .
  pursued and hunted by principalities and powers,
  in peril of traps and snares and temptations,
  unable to secure my deliverance.

But God in Jesus Christ, becomes . . .
  my Refuge,
  my Rock,
  my Fortress,
  my Shield,
  my Deliverer,
  and my Strength!

I flee to Him, and I am in a secure dwelling. There is no evil which can befall me now. When I hide myself in the Rock of Ages cleft for me, then who can separate me from the love of Christ? That Rock Himself would have to crumble, before any harm could come to my soul! I am so weak in myself, yet so strong in my Savior!

In the mountain, there is assurance.
I feel that the ground is solid and stable underneath my feet.
My sorrow and sighing should flee away.
My fears should be scattered.
The Father and the Son and the Spirit are eternally mine!
From all forebodings and anxieties, my Lord means me to be set free.

In the mountain, there is everlastingness.
My soul is wise when it builds its life-house on the Rock of . . .
  God's promises,
  God's grace,
  God's salvation!
The storm will never be able to blow it down.
The gates of Hell will never prevail against it.
Through the countless and varied changes of my lot, through death and through the long eternity that lies beyond—it will endure, incorruptible, immovable, abiding!

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth!
 He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber.
 The Lord watches over you. The Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
 The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life.
 The Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore!"
     Psalm 121

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They are the treasures which His great heart covets!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"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, and as she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them!" Luke 7:37-38

Three things this woman gave:

PENITENCE was one. If her sin was dark—her sorrow was deep. If she had been a prodigal daughter, it was with weeping and mourning that she sought again her Father's house.

And LOVE was another. There was something about Jesus: the looks of His countenance, the tones of His voice, His whole manner and bearing—which drew her towards Him with a commanding and irresistible affection.

And SACRIFICE was a third. She spilled and spent her precious ointment on the Savior. She counted all things loss, for His dear sake.

These are the gifts which I must bring to Christ. They are the treasures which His great heart covets! He would rather have my penitence, my love, my sacrifice—than my knowledge, my eloquence, my wealth.

And three things this woman received:

PARDON was one. He said unto her, 'Your sins are forgiven!' The burden of her guilt was loosened from her shoulders, and fell from her back!

And PURITY was another. She went from the Gracious Presence and the Sacred Face—to live a life blessedly new. God her Healer restored the miserable past, which the cankerworm had wasted.

And PEACE was a third. 'Go in peace,' the Lord commanded. And what He commanded, He gave. Hers was now and forever the peace which passes all understanding, "the Rose that cannot wither!"

These are the gifts which I take from Christ. They are the treasures my poor heart needs. His pardon, His purity, His peace—they are more to be desired than a universe of gold, or than the mines where the diamonds and rubies lie!

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My salvation comes from Him!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"My salvation comes from Him!" Psalm 62:1

I see many wonders in God's salvation. It is as many-sided as the ocean with its moods and waves.

There is the wonder of its origin. From HIM it takes its rise and source—oh pregnant pronoun!
From the King against whom I have revolted.
From the Friend whose wishes I have opposed.
From the thrice-holy One, to whom the smallest of my sins is absolutely hateful.
From the Father on whom I have turned my back.
It is He who approaches me with the white flag of peace.
It is He who sacrifices Himself to accomplish my deliverance!

And there is the wonder of its continuousness. Salvation keeps coming—it does not cease. It flows, and deepens, and broadens. God does not weary, though there are ten thousand reasons why He should. The Savior does not lose His sympathy and grace. The Holy Spirit goes on performing His good work. It is an "eternal salvation". Hebrews 5:9

And there is the wonder of its object. It is MY salvation—mine, incredible as that may seem. It is a miracle to me that my past guilt should be pardoned—such a terrible criminality there was in my heart. It is a miracle to me that my present imperfections should be borne with and overcome. Such a forbearing, conquering patience I need—for I am the chief of sinners!

And there is the wonder of its abundance. It is SALVATION which comes to me. Salvation is a palace with many rooms in it. It is a landscape in which many different elements of beauty are found—mountain, and river, and lush pasture-ground, and darker forest, and the silver streak of the sea.

I think of salvation from the divine side—and how much it cost God!

I think of salvation from the human side—and how much it brings to me!

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

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These peril-beset feet of mine!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"He will keep the feet of His saints!" 1 Samuel 2:9

It is a promise for the everyday walk of my life
—the walk of . . .
  the soldier who pushes on, whatever enemies hinder his march;
  the pilgrim from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City;
  the child of God in company with his Father, the human hand linked in the divine.

Am I one of His saints? It seems to me often too high a title to claim. But let me remember that everything depends on what my heart is fixed upon.
The poet dreams about a masterpiece of music he is yet to write,
and the artist dreams about a surpassing picture he will paint one day,
and the sculptor dreams about a statue whose grandeur will draw all eyes.

What then, are my dreams?
Are they about one day being . . .
  completely liberated from sin,
  and changed into the image of Christ,
  and perfected in holiness?
Then I am among the saints!

And He will keep my feet. Not from . . .
  the Valley of Humiliation,
  or the Garden of Sorrow,
  or the Hill of Cross-bearing.
No, but from . . .
  the temptation that ensnares me,
  the cliffs and precipices of sin,
  "the delicate plain called Ease,"
  the High Street of an overweening confidence in myself,
  the gloomy mountain-ravines of anxiety and despair.
It is a welcome assurance indeed.

None less than God Himself, keeps these peril-beset feet of mine!
He brings many protecting influences into play:
  His precious promises,
  His clear commandments,
  the perfect example of Jesus,
  the influence of those who fear His name,
  the inner grace of His Holy Spirit.
Yes, yes! I walk safely; I walk at liberty—when the charge of my feet is with the all-loving, all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful redeemer-God!

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Stop bringing meaningless offerings!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me.
 New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your evil assemblies!
 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts, My soul hates!
 They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them!" Isaiah 1:13-14

It is not mere outward ritual which God asks from me.

God desires my adoration:
  a sense of His solemn and consummate holiness;
  a bowing low in heart and mind before the sevenfold radiance of His majesty;
  a realizing of His infinite condescension in suffering and dying for me.
I cannot be too reverent when I am face to face with Him.

God desires my confession:
  a feeling of the evil of my doings, not superficial—but deep and penetrating;
  an abhorring of myself, and a repentance in dust and ashes;
  a cry from the depths, "In me dwells no good thing!"
I have need to understand more vividly, more humblingly—the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

God desires my petitions:
  a sincere pouring out of my soul's desires;
  a taking fast hold of God's almighty strength;
  a clinging with both hands earnestly to the Rock of Ages!
Simply, naturally, explicitly, whole-heartedly—let me unbosom my necessities to Him, that He may answer them according to His wise and holy will.

God desires my thanksgiving:
  thanksgiving which is thanks-living also;
  a humble ceasing to do evil, and a patient learning to do well;
  a glad and grateful obedience;
  a bondslave's vow, "I love my Master—I will not go out free!"
Jesus Christ asks all, from the innermost pulsation of conscious being—to the most tangible outworks of my life!

Such is the service my God will welcome—my God who hates all meaningless offerings, and who is wearied with mere ritualism and formality.

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My dearest idol must be thrown down!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"They served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them: You shall not do this thing!" 2 Kings 17:12

"Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart!" Ezekiel 14:4

"Their heart went after their idols!" Ezekiel 20:16

There is much danger lest I should fall into the same sin of idolatry.
Idolatry is as prevalent today, as in ancient times!
It is as prevalent in Christendom, no less than in heathendom!

There are the idols of wood and stone. Lurking in my heart I find too strong a sympathy with the grosser forms of evil, untold possibilities of heinous sin are within me still. But these impure gods must go!

There are the idols of silver and gold. I pay an undue deference to fashion and wealth. I covet a high position and a place among the prominent ones of the earth. But these gods too must be dethroned!

There are the carved images. I may easily be beguiled by the enchanting toys and trinkets of the world. Contagion and poison haunt its literature, its arts, its amusements. At whatever cost, these deities must be cast out!

There are the molten images. Sudden fires of appetite, swift flames of temptation, leap up within me; and before I know, I may be overcome by them. These powers of darkness must be conquered in a heavenlier strength than my own!

There are the teraphim—the idols made in the likeness of men. I am in peril of exalting friends, wife, children, to the seat which Jesus Christ alone should occupy.

My dearest idol must be thrown down
, and Jesus must be Lord of all.

May Zinzendorf's motto be mine: "I have one passion, and it is Jesus—Jesus only!"

"The dearest idol I have known,
 Whatever that idol be,
 Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
 And worship only Thee!"

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Two gates, two ways, two ends!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Enter by the narrow gate.
 For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction,
     and there are many who go in by it.
 Because narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way which leads to life,
     and there are few who find it!" Matthew 7:13-14

There are only two GATES:
One of them wide. Its name is Self . . .
  my own desires,
  my own proud thoughts,
  my own righteousness,
  my own beloved and darling sins,
  my own plans and pleasures.

The other gate is narrow. Its name is Christ: Christ sought with repentance and godly sorrow—Christ followed at any hazard. It is the gate of the crucifixion of Self!

There are only two WAYS:
One of them is broad, easy, pleasant, comfortable, pleasing to the flesh, thronged with multitudes—a primrose path, but always tending downward, and bringing disastrous consequences.

The other way is difficult and narrow, as it were through a gorge between craggy cliffs which nearly meet, haunted by dangers and enemies, chosen by comparatively few. The Christian's toilsome pilgrimage and dangerous journey—ah, how the road climbs up and up!

There are only two ENDS:
One of them is destruction
   dark, hopeless, irretrievable,
   the death of peace,
   the death of hope,
   the death of every good impulse,
   the death of the soul!

The other end is life
   life at its fullest, sublimest, sweetest,
   life without sin and without sorrow,
   life in the land of life and glory,
   life in the presence of Christ to all eternity!

Consciously, deliberately, unequivocally, may I seek . . .
  the narrow gate,
  the difficult way,
  the end which is everlasting life!

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Christ's sword!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"I did not come to bring peace, but a sword!" Matthew 10:34

Not peace, but a sword! Lord Jesus, this is a hard saying! Teach me to believe it, and to submit to the ordeal—sharp and piercing and painful though it may be.

Between me and my world, Christ's sword may pierce with its remorseless edge.
He separates me . . .
  from old sinful habits,
  from old sinful employments,
  from old sinful pleasures,
  from old sinful friendships.

He divides me from the society in which I was accustomed to move. "Your home is no longer there!" He says. And I go out from the familiar surroundings, into an untrodden region and realm.

Between me and my nearest and dearest, Christ's sword may pierce pitilessly. Perhaps the loved ones of my own house will have nothing to do with my Redeemer and Lord. Perhaps they see no beauty in Him, that they should desire Him. Then, in the deepest and noblest things, they and I will stand apart—a sundering tide rolling between us. And how immeasurably sad that will be!

Between me and myself, Christ's sword is sure to pierce with a blade that does not spare! The I, the self, which used to be so vain, so confident, so proud—must be slain outright! Its days of pride, pleasure and selfishness must end—until I can say, "It is no more I who live, but He—my Prophet, my Priest, my King—who lives in me!" What a change that is! What a martyrdom!

It is painful, this stroke of Christ's sword. But the old confessor was right: "The nearer the sword—the nearer Heaven!" If I am victim—I am victor too. Smitten down by Jesus—I am not destroyed, but crowned!

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What, then, did He mean?

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
John 17:16

Christ did not mean that I am to withdraw and seclude myself from society. He did not do so Himself. He came and dwelt with sinners, and He bids me to walk in His footsteps. I am to live in the world, as a holy child of God.

Neither did He mean that I am to be censorious towards those around me. There was no censoriousness in Him. Wherever He went, His presence diffused sunshine and warmth and joy.

He does not wish me to moralize on the defects and errors of others. He has no desire that I should be fault-finding, critical, or harsh. I may be unsparing in judging myself; but in my thoughts and words regarding others, there must be all considerateness, all forbearance, all patience and hope.

What, then, did He mean?

That I am not to consider myself to be at home in this world.

That every day I must show myself to be a citizen of Heaven. 

That there must be an easily-perceived difference between me and those who do not travel beyond the present realm of things.

That, however friendly I am with others, I must hold aloof from their sinful habits and recreations.
I must make them understand . . .
  that my work is to glorify God,
  that my model is Christ, and
  that my citizenship is in Heaven!

Again, let me consider my Master. None drew closer to men and women than He, yet there was always a holy distinction felt and seen. Enemies and friends recognized it. And I am to have such an intense personal devotion to Him, that I shall be found only where I firmly believe He would be—and that I shall practice and follow only what He approves. It is to be my one fear, that I would hurt His kind heart.

Here is my rule: Not of the world, even as He was not of the world.

The rule is to be operative everywhere.

It will cast out of my business whatever is evil; and I shall count it impossible to do anything false or unjust in the workshop and the counting-house.

It will hallow my amusements. I shall suspect any amusement into which the thought of Christ intrudes like a shadow—and welcome the happiness to which He goes with me.

It will direct me in whatever I read—everything must be consistent with Christ's holiness.

It will direct me wherever I go—I shall hear His voice among the trees of the garden, and not be afraid.

It is the motto for the whole of my history: I am to do whatever Jesus would do, if He were here in my place.

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Ah, the thanklessness of it, the ugliness, the evil!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping.
 'Could you not keep watch with Me for one hour?'
He asked." Matthew 26:40

Every word is incisive—every syllable is an arrow whose point has been dipped in yearning and wounded love.

1. The sleep is inexcusable, because of the indebtedness of the disciple.
"Could YOU not keep watch?" asks Christ; and the you is emphatic:
   you, who have heard My teaching;
   you, who witnessed My miracles;
   you, who known the allurements of My life;
   you, whom I have crowned with My special favor;
   you, who have sworn your fidelity so often and so recently!

Such things He has done for me as well;
such blessings He has bestowed;
such pains He has undergone.
And shall I be negligent towards Him?
Ah, the thanklessness of it, the ugliness, the evil!

2. And the sleep is inexcusable, because of the modesty of the Lord's demand.
He asked, "Could you not keep WATCH?" Now let me lay the stress on the verb, watch. He might have bidden me to . . .
  drink the wormwood and the gall with Him;
  climb the hill of shame by His side;
  die, as He died, of a broken heart.
But the Cross and the curse are for Himself alone, and from me He seeks simply . . .
  the open eye,
  and the consecrated mind,
  and the obedient spirit.
He does not call me to exile or prison or martyrdom, but
  to guard myself,
  to repel the advance of temptation,
  to cultivate holiness and obedience.
It seems unpardonable, that Christ's friend should deny Him a gift so small!

3. And the sleep is inexcusable, because of the measurelessness of the Savior's deserts.
"Could you not keep watch WITH ME?" What poignancy and pathos dwell in the last words! He is my Healer, my Teacher, my King, my God, my Savior! The earth moves at His command. The beasts are governed by His scepter, and the birds sing His praise. High in the ranks of creation, the angels are flames of fire, and speed at His requests. All creation does His will.

But He blesses me, as He has blessed none of them. They do not know my motives to spend and be spent for Him. To support me, He became man. To bless me with eternal glory, He emptied Himself, and was numbered with transgressors. Shall I forget Him?

4. And the sleep is inexcusable, because of the brevity of the vigilance.
"Could you not keep watch with Me FOR ONE HOUR?" How quickly one hour runs out to its final second! Many a night, from sunset to sunrise, He spent pleading for me, the morning star finding Him where the evening star had left Him. He devoted a whole eternity, ageless and endless—to the devising and accomplishing of my salvation! And shall I grudge Him my fast-fleeting days? His grace towards me has neither commencement nor close; and how can I rob Him of those few fragments of time which remain to me? Nay, this very moment let me arise!

Sleeping disciples! I wonder whether I am among them!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The birds and lilies teach me better!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26  

Let me not worry—the birds and lilies teach me better. God spreads a table for the sparrows, and clothes the wayside anemones with their exquisite beauty. And I am dearer to Him by far. I, who am made in His image, and for whom His Son has died, and whom He means to dwell with Him in His Heaven—I occupy a larger place in His heart of hearts. 

Let me not worry—it serves no good purpose to fret and worry. I cannot, with all my solicitude, add a cubit either to my stature or to my age. Anxiousness will only plunge me into mental distress and annoyance and sorrow, without bringing me any compensating advantage whatever. It knows how to wound; but ah! it does not know how to heal

Let me not worry—a child should have more confidence in his Father's wisdom and watchfulness and love. It may be excusable for worldly men and women to worry—but not a son in the royal and wealthy family of the King of kings! There is no justification for him if he goes worried and burdened during the day, and lies down to hours of sleeplessness at night.

"So do not worry
. . . For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them!" Matthew 6:31-32

   ~  ~  ~  ~

God weighs and measures, bounds and ordains, my sorrows!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 

It is good to know that there is a limit to affliction. It is but for a moment—it has its appointed end.
Not always will the war go on.
Not always will the seas be tempest-driven.
Not always will the rains descend and the fierce winds blow.
God weighs and measures, bounds and ordains, my sorrows!

For seven months Adolphe Monod lay in helpless suffering. Week by week his pain increased in its severity, until he had not a minute when he was free from it. But this was what he wrote:
"The Desert in the morning,
 Gethsemane in the afternoon,
 Golgotha in the evening!

 Well, the Desert with Christ,
 Gethsemane with Christ,
 Golgotha with Christ!
This is better than all the pleasures of sin!"

And of these painful mornings and afternoons and evenings, God has fixed and foreordained an end!

It is good to know that there is a purpose in affliction.
It works for me, in my service, on my behalf.
Affliction does not rise out of the ground, nor fall on me by chance—as an unfortunate, aimless, undirected, capricious thing. (Job 5:6, Job 1:21)

Affliction is the instrument and agent of my Father in Heaven!
By it He would . . .
  teach my mind,
  soften and expand my heart,
  give new robustness to my faith,
  add vigor to my prayers,
  fructify all my graces and character.

There is a touching incident of Mr. Woodrow: He was much affected with his worthy son's death—it being somewhat sudden and surprising. Yet he behaved very Christly under that sharp affliction. He went down to the place where his son's corpse was. He stayed some time. They inquired what he had been doing there. "I was," says he, "thanking God for thirty-one years' loan of my dear son."

These are the flowers of submission, of patience, of trust—which grow in the clefts of a breaking heart!

It is good to know that there is a coronation after affliction. It is the prelude to an eternal weight of glory! And the glory will be none the less—but all the more, because it has been heralded by the grief. I am fitted for the purity of the glorious inheritance, by the cleansing and refining discipline to which I am subjected on the way to it. I welcome its sunshine and rest, because I have been out in the midnight when the fierce gales were abroad. There are notes and chords in my everlasting song, which never could have been there, if I had not discovered in my afflictions . . .
  the grace of the Father,
  and the sympathy of the Son,
  and the comforts of the Holy Spirit.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us!" Romans 8:18

    ~  ~  ~  ~

What does the Lord require of you?

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"What does the Lord require of you?
 To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

Simplicity and comprehensiveness mark the requirements of my God. He can abbreviate His demands into the fewest words; but they are words which embrace . . .
  the inward and outward,
  the present and future,
  the earthly and the heavenly.

I may fall into serious error regarding His will for me:

  It is not a religion of ritual observances which He requires. How easily I attach an undue importance to ceremonies and forms, rites and penances and fasts!

  Nor does He solicit primarily a religion of external moralities. God looks on my heart.

  Nor is it a religion of emotions of which He is in quest. I must not put excitement and tears, in the place of saving grace and childlike obedience.

But see, my soul, God asks us to act justly. I cannot be His, unless I do justly. Everything that takes an improper advantage of another, and all that departs from the straightest line of absolute rectitude—I must hate and abjure. It is a demand which pierces deeper than it seems. For the integrity of conduct He desires—is the outcome only of a conscience He has quickened, and a will He has bent into submission to His law. The ethics of the Gospel are preceded and rendered possible, by the redemption and regeneration of the Gospel.

And God asks tenderness. He counsels me to love mercy. The world is full of sorrow, and I am to move through it as a good physician, befriending and uplifting those in need.

It is what He does Himself. Every glorious quality has its fountain in Him, but pre-eminently the quality of mercy. He is the great Forgiver and the great Helper; no earthly father loves like Him, and no mother is half so mild. So my feeble torch is but kindled at His altar. My charities and philanthropies must be learned in His school, who pardons my ten thousand transgressions!

And God asks humility. He commands me to lay my hand in His, and to walk humbly in His company. Nothing is so essential as poverty of spirit. It is the source and spring from which alone runs the fertilizing river of a holy life. The humble heart is where the flowers of Heaven find their congenial soil, and grow into beauty and fragrance. I only begin to be a disciple, when my proud heart is brought low, and my Savior is lifted high.

Now, my Father, if these are to be the features of my soul—then it is manifest that none but You can create them, and can nurture them, and can lead them to their perfection. Do the work Lord, and have the glory!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

My Bonfire of Vanities!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their books and burned them at a public bonfire! The value of the books was several million dollars!" Acts 19:18-19

No conflagration could be more desirable and more beneficial. I trust that it is paralleled and repeated in my own experience, for I am no Christian until it is.

When I burn my bad books,
when I turn from my old delights,
when the expulsive power of a new affection drives me irresistibly from the sinful life which I used to live
—that is CONVERSION.

It is evidence and a token that a supernatural and radical change has transformed me. It is proof that the Holy Spirit is at work in the citadel of my being. Never shall I relinquish a darling sin, never sacrifice that which brought me an iniquitous profit and an unholy pleasure—until He comes in His mightiness, and revolutionizes my nature through and through! From the soul which should have been God's Temple, but which I have debased into a den of robbers—He scourges the traffickers; and the desecrated place is renovated into the shrine and residence of the King of kings!

When I burn my bad books,
when before all men I turn from my former ways,
when I range myself openly on His part, whom I once despised and hated
—that means CONFESSION.

"I am on the Lord's side!" is what I say, fearlessly, publicly, without abatements or concealments or regrets. No true friend of Jesus Christ can conceal his faith. It will reveal itself. It will be discerned by the onlookers, whether they sympathize or disapprove. Through all hindrances, all timidities, all plausible excuses for keeping silence—my affection for Him will make its avowal.

When I burn my bad books,
when I declare that henceforward I am a pilgrim traveling heavenward,
when transports move and thrill me to which I was a stranger until now
—that means CONSECRATION.

Christ alone is the Master of my transfigured history! I cannot tolerate what He disapproves. I cannot harbor guests and tenants who are out of harmony with His purity and perfectness. Where He goes, I will go; and where He lodges, I will lodge. His people will be my people; and His God will be my God; nothing but death will part Him and me. Nay, death will not terminate my loyalty, but will only render it more absolute and complete!

In spirit and soul and body, in my work and in my rest—Lord, what will You have me to do?

That is a blessed day on which I kindle my Bonfire of Vanities!
It cannot dawn too soon, and the fire cannot burn with too white a flame!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I can take my Elim with me through the great wilderness!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"After leaving Marah, the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim,
 where they found twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees.
 They camped there beside the water." Exodus 15:27

If I were not a pilgrim journeying through the wilderness, I could not know the refreshment of Elim. If I did not taste the bitterness of Marah, the pleasanter waters of Elim would lose half of their delightfulness. Therefore I should thank God for the difficult wilderness journey, and the keen afflictions along the way.

Elim brings supply. The oasis has its twelve springs of water—one for each of the tribes in Israel. And if I am journeying under God's leadership, in fellowship with His people, towards His promised land—how many are the aids, and how varied is the provision, with which the King of the way furnishes me!
Sunday worship comes week after week.
The Word of life and peace, is in my hands.
I have the Throne of Grace, to which I can resort in all my times of need.
There are golden days of peculiar privileges, and sweet fellowship with Christian friends.
Never should I be without the living water.

Elim brings shade. Above the twelve springs of water, rise straight and stately palm trees—seventy of them, as many as the seventy years of man's life on earth. They come between me, and the remorseless blaze of the sun. They secure for me a welcome coolness and refreshment.

Jesus, our adorable redeemer, is a shade from the blazing heat of divine justice. He is . . .
  shelter from the just condemnation of my sin,
  shelter from the cruel onslaught of temptation,
  shelter from the hardening effects of sorrow,
  mercy to pardon, and grace to help!

Elim also brings rest. "They camped there beside the water"—and I should do likewise. It may be . . .
  that the wilderness stretches on every hand,
  that tomorrow I shall be in the desert sun once more,
  that the end of my pilgrim's journey is far off.
Yet, I have the cheering memory of God's supply and God's shadow to solace me.

In my pilgrim journey through this wilderness, hardship cannot be avoided. Yet, I can take my Elim with me through the great wilderness, and I need never lack the "twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees."

There is something much amiss, if ever my heart ceases to be quiet and confident, and if I ever forget to raise the song that tells of rest beneath the palm-trees and joy beside the springs of water.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

In the last consummate city!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband! No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him!" Revelation 21:2-3

In the last consummate city, all will be worshipers.
Its inhabitants will have the godward look. They will recognize . . .
  God's existence,
  His government,
  His watchfulness,
  His faithfulness,
  His grace.
To them, He will be the Reality of realities. They will breathe through all the happy year the atmosphere of the spiritual, the supernatural, the divine, the infinite, the eternal! Atheism, and unbelief, and forgetfulness of God—will have spread their black wings and flown forever away.

In the last supreme city, all will be brothers.
Uniting in adoration around the throne of God and of the Lamb, they will gaze with kindly eyes into each other's faces and will clasp each other's hands in love and affection. It will be a society in which a new spirit and a new law, rule—the law and the spirit of love.
Antagonisms, burdens, fears, will have vanished;
selfishness and greed, will be unthinkable;
the sorrow which man causes man, will never be felt.

In the last crystalline city, all will be saints.
Its foundations are precious stones:
  the sapphire of hope,
  the emerald of humility,
  the chrysolite of truth,
  the amethyst of trust.
Its twelve gates are the twelve pearls of whitest and tenderest purity. No life flourishes in its ethereal air, but the life that is redeemed from all iniquity, and that bears the image of Jesus Christ. There is . . .
  no dust in the highways,
  no smoke in the skies,
  no harsh and discordant noise,
  no chilling or arid weather,
  no workhouse, nor tavern, nor prison.

"The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl.
 The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp!" Revelation 21:21-23

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city!" Revelation 22:14

   ~  ~  ~  ~

My feeble hand lies in His; His omnipotent hand is clasped round mine!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven!" Matthew 18:3

One writes of Robert Louis Stevenson that, "it was part of his genius that he never seemed to grow old like the rest of us—but was a child, a boy, a young man, and an old man all at once."

Just so, Jesus bids me to keep the young lamb's tender heart amid the full-grown flocks.

I look into the face of the child. There are no hard and haughty lines of pride; there is no blatant self-importance in the features. Humility is written there.

Can I get back my vanished humility? I can. God the Spirit creates it when, in my conversion, He shows my sinfulness, and teaches me to abhor my vile self! And He fosters meekness more and more, as He confirms in me the conviction that not for a moment dare I dispense with my Savior and Keeper and Friend.

I survey the mind of the child. It is teachable. It is well aware of its ignorance, and it hungers and thirsts for knowledge of every description. And is there a mind anywhere, that God has touched, which does not feel itself in the presence of . . .
  problems still to be disentangled,
  mysteries waiting to be unfolded,
  great tracts of truth of which it knows little?
I have parted with the delusion of my own wisdom.
I sit as a child at the feet of my great Prophet, Christ!

I peer into the imagination of the child. It lives in a realm of marvels. But as I grow older, I pass out of the magical country. But when I experience the miracles of saving grace, they are more extraordinary than the marvels I have left behind in childhood. My sense of wonder and astonishment are reborn!

I remember the affections of the child. They are the shrine of loveunbounded and enthusiastic and outspoken love. But by and by, I am less frank and more reticent. Convention, if not cynicism, has frozen the love-look in the eyes, and the love-speech on the tongue.

Is there anything that will break the ice?

Yes, the sight of God's love and grace in Christ will!
That brings me back to the spring.
That makes my heart grateful, devoted, and affectionate.

I note the hand of the child. It is not tremulous and worried. It trusts.
It lies in the father's hand, certain that the father will lead it aright.

Just so, to the same peace and unruffled faith, the new birth should conduct me. Confiding in my adorable Redeemer and Heavenly Father, I ought to have no gloomy fears about either my temporal or my eternal well-being. My feeble hand lies in His; His omnipotent hand is clasped round mine!

All is well, because I "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 death of His saints!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His saints!" Psalm 116:15

To me death has its unlovely aspects:
I may be ready by God's grace to meet it, and yet I recoil instinctively from the act of dying.
It seems unnatural.
It is usually attended by pain and suffering.
It is a farewell to dear and beloved associations.
It is a going out into an untrodden land.
I cannot coax myself to love the dreadful experience.
And therefore I am glad to think that there is another side to the matter,
and that to my Lord, my death is precious! And why should it be so?

Let me consider the name by which He calls me, and I shall begin to understand:
"His saints!"
That is His title for His sons and daughters, among whom I have been enrolled.
The people of His own purchased possession.
The redeemed people whom He has set apart for Himself.
He owns them in virtue of the stupendous price which He paid for them.
He has been at infinite pains to redeem and save and cleanse them.
Nothing which concerns them appears indifferent to Him.
The death of the humblest of them, is of stupendous moment in His sight!

Let me reflect, too, that death is one of the means His grace and power employ to uplift and crown me! It looks as though I scarcely could know God thoroughly, or confide in Him completely, until I learn to lean upon Him . . .
  when heart and flesh faint and fail,
  when the long and close fellowship of body and soul is sundered,
  and when I pass forth alone into the mystery of unseen eternity.
Then He becomes more indispensable than ever.
Then my trust must be simple and absolute.
Then, when lover and friend are put far away—I cling to Him and refuse to let Him go.
Death teaches us this perfection of dependence.

And let me predict to myself the future to which death is the doorway.
I can scarcely imagine it . . .
  its spotless holiness,
  its unfathomable bliss,
  its endless pleasures,
  its divine love.
But He sees it clearly, and comprehends it in its breadth and length and depth and height.
He is familiar . . .
  with the flowers and fruits of His upper garden,
  with the refreshment of the fourfold river,
  with the music of the better country,
  with the city's foundations of gems, and its gates of pearl, and its streets of gold.

Is it a marvel that He should pronounce desirable and precious, that loosening and wrench from earth which liberates me for a Heaven like this?

When I think my Lord's thoughts, I shall cease to be so afraid of death!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Ah! the heart was wrong, and therefore everything was wrong!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root!" Mark 4:5-6

Much is said about these stony-ground hearers of the Word which is attractive and hopeful. I anticipate a true life, a brave witness, an abundant harvest. But suddenly comes the check, the change, the fall. And what was the problem? Ah! the heart was wrong, and therefore everything was wrong!

1. The heart was unbroken. The rock had never been penetrated at all, and the seed died soon on its hard and impervious surface.

I wonder whether the stubbornness and the stolidity of my heart have been shattered. Have I been melted . . .
  into practical concern of soul,
  into the sense of spiritual neediness,
  into godly sorrow,
  into contrite prayer?
There can be no new birth and no vital growth, until then!

After an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the lava covered the fields with an apparently invincible crust; but the peasants bored holes in it, and pierced to the ground below, and planted their vines—and in due season gathered the grapes. Has the lava-crust of my heart been divinely pierced and overcome?

2. And the heart was shallow and superficial. It had no depth. Immediately beneath the thin layer of top-soil, was that rebellious and intractable adamant; the seed had not a sufficient resting-place and home.

This is the fatal fault of very many. They do not stop to think about unseen, eternal, heavenly things. They do not take time to consider their own miserable state of soul, and the grace of Jesus Christ. They nod, and glance, and bustle by.

Again I ought to examine myself. I can be eager enough and resolute enough, about earthly matters. But have I ever roused my very soul, have I ever set my face like a flint, to seek and find the Lord my Savior, my Righteousness, my Strength? There is no possibility of salvation for the superficial heart!

3. And the heart was dry. It had none of the moistening, subduing, fructifying influences of the Holy Spirit. If the showers descend upon the rocky soil, there is no loam to retain them and to derive a benefit from them.

Just so, does everything depend on the Spirit's presence and work within me! Apart from His dews and gentle rains, I am helpless, hopeless, dead, damned! For until His almightiness renews me, until His waters slake and vivify my parched and thirsty being, until I receive the outpouring of the grace of God—I have no spiritual life.

Is it not a miserable heart, this heart of stone?

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh!" Ezekiel 36:26

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The antidote for fear!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you! I have called you by your name—you are Mine!" Isaiah 43:1

God is intensely desirous to rid me of my needless fears. Does He not give me reason after reason for peacefulness, calmness and hope?

1. "Fear not," He says, "for I have redeemed you!"
  What a work it was!
  What a price it demanded!
  What a sorrow it involved!
It meant the surrender and sacrifice of His Son, His Only-Begotten, His Well-Beloved. It meant for the King of Glory, to be born in a lowly stable, with the ox and donkey and camel. After a life of suffering, it meant a stark and dreadful Cross on the Hill of Shame!

A Scottish professor, who retained to the last a childlike heart, speaking to his students one day about the atoning sacrifice of Calvary, said, with the tears running down his cheeks, "Ay, ay, do you know what it was? Do you know what it was? It was damnation—and He took it lovingly!"

It was my damnation—and He took it lovingly! And since God gave all this for me, then how can He ever abandon me? Let my heart be confident and strong.

2. There is His understanding of my case. "Fear not," He continues, "for I have called you by name!" He has such multitudes to remember, and yet He knows me individually and intimately! The stars lie along the face of the sky like bright unnumbered dust; but He knows star from star. The flowers spring up in battalions; but not a single flower is "born to blush unseen"—He knows it, and rejoices in it. There are billions of people in the world today, and I cannot grasp the tremendous aggregate; but He is familiar with each beating soul.

Just so, He comprehends . . .
  my special needs and circumstances,
  my overbearing duties,
  my sore temptations,
  my herculean difficulties,
  my subtle and persevering foes.
Should I not be strong and courageous, when the Lord of Heaven has such perfect acquaintance with me?

3. And there is His ownership of my soul. "Fear not," He commands once more, "for you are Mine!" In a sense I was always His possession; but since He purchased me with Christ's blood, I am among . . .
  His jewels,
  His trophies,
  His special possessions,
  His redeemed children!

Why should I be afraid? I am Christ's redeemed child, and He owns and keeps me!

   ~  ~  ~  ~


(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

What vastness and wonder there is about Christ and His redemption! When He is mine, I dwell among inexhaustible and immeasurable things! Three times the New Testament uses the adjective "Unspeakable!" concerning Him.

"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

Saved by His mercy, I possess this unspeakable gift—unspeakable on account of its dimensions. Jesus baffles computation, He is so far-reaching and so wide.

I cannot describe His breadth: He meets all the requirements of my many-sided nature—body, mind, memory, imagination, conscience, will, heart.

I cannot estimate His length: from eternity past He loved me—and through eternity future His love will last, without end, without change!

I cannot fathom His depth: He fathoms my sharpest sorrow, my bitterest agony, my fiercest temptation, my foulest sin.

I cannot scale His height: He transforms me into His own holy likeness, and will soon bring me to His own presence—up and up to the heart and the house of the Father!

Christ is an inexpressible gift which cannot be set forth in detail!

2. "He was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter!" 2 Corinthians 12:4

I listen to His unspeakable words—unspeakable on account of their sacredness. It is not lawful for a man to utter them. I have moments on the Mount with my Lord, about which in their mystery and miracle and delight—I cannot express. He has His secrets for me, with which it would be sacrilege for a stranger to intermeddle. I am lifted into Paradise; I look on its flowers; I hearken to its songs—and then I must shut up the marvel in my heart of hearts!

3. "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an unspeakable and glorious joy!" 1 Peter 1:8

Admitted to His family, I rejoice with an unspeakable joy—unspeakable on account of its richness. How superfluous and empty are words picture it—how poor and inadequate! The cup runs over. The tide sweeps every barrier away! Christ intends me to have an unbroken experience of His pardoning mercy, and His keeping and sanctifying grace. He intends me to reap inconceivable satisfaction from communion with Himself. My joy on earth should be of the same substance, if not of the same degree, as the joy which waits for me in Heaven!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I must take off my earthly garments, and put on my sacred dress

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place" 1907)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Once the priests enter the Holy Place, they shall not go out of it into the outer court until they leave behind the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They are to put on other clothes before they approach the public area." Ezekiel 42:14

The priests which Ezekiel mentions, take great discipline and preparation to please God. In compliance with His command, they clothe themselves in holy robes of the fairest linen. They make ready for drawing near His holy Presence.

Just so, I must be willing to take time and effort in my worship. Every day, I must pass into my sacred shrine to be with God. With a set purpose, I must take off my earthly garments, and put on my sacred dress:
  I have to hush myself into quietness.
  I have to beseech the Holy Spirit for His empowerment.
  I have to steadfastly study the majesty, the purity, and the grace of the God to Whom I come.
  Much mental concentration is required of me.
  A sincere and honest heart is also required.
  I am called to earnest contemplation and prayer.

When the service of the priests is over in the inner sanctuary, they divest themselves of the robes of whiteness in which they stood before the Lord. They do not show themselves to the people in a garb so venerable. God keeps something to Himself, something which shall be known only to His servants and to Him.

Just so, I cannot disclose everything in my secret place with others. There are heights and depths in the truth I am being taught, in the mercy I have received—which I do not yet comprehend, and over which I shall have to ponder all my life long.

And I ought not to disclose everything. To unveil my most sublime spiritual experiences, will injure me:
  It would lessen humility, and foster pride.
  It would rub the delicate bloom from off my character.
  It would make my secret place a beaten path.
  My sanctuary clothing is not for the public outer court.

Yet mine is a God who is never distant and inaccessible. The priests of old, left the shrine and went out into the world. But the Lord abides in the Holy Place still. We need only to return, and to clothe themselves anew in our holy vestments, and we will find Him the same as before—a God . . .
   Who rejoices to hear our cry,
   Who delights in our sincere, yet poor and disappointing services,
   Who will lift up His countenance on us and give us peace.

When I call upon Him, withdrawing myself from all others and all else—He is near as my strong Refuge and and my ever-present Help in times of trouble. The doors of His Holy Place are never barred; and, within the doors, His gracious welcome awaits me.

May He be the Temple that is the dearest spot on earth to me.
May I be a priest to serve Him day and night!

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty!" Psalm 91:1

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The believer's best day!

Ecclesiastes 7:1 "The day of death is better than the day of birth!"

Philippians 1:21 "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!"

Philippians 1:23 "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!"

Charles Spurgeon, "The best moment of a Christian's life is his last one, because it is the one that is nearest Heaven."

William Nicholson,
"Death ends all the conflicts and trials and sorrows of the righteous.
 Death is the commencement of all the woes of the wicked."

Richard Sibbes,
"Death will be:
 the death of my misery,
 the death of my sins,
 the death of my corruptions.
But death will be my birthday in regard of happiness."

Adoniram Judson, "When Christ calls me home, I shall go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school!"

John Calvin, "We may positively state that nobody has made any progress in the school of Christ, unless he cheerfully looks forward towards the day of his death."

Samuel Bolton, "It is the privilege of saints, that they shall not die until the best time; not until when, if they were but rightly informed, they would desire to die."

Thomas Watson, "For the child of God, death is the funeral of all his sorrows!"

John Bunyan, "Death is but a passage out of a prison, into a palace!"

William Gurnall,
"Let your hope of Heaven master your fear of death.
 Why should you be afraid to die, who hope to live by dying?"

John Newton,
"I am packed, sealed, and waiting for the post!
 Who would desire to live always in this poor world?"

William Nicholson, "We are ever gliding down the stream of time into the ocean of eternity!"

Charles Spurgeon, "He who does not prepare for death is more than an ordinary fool. He is a madman!"

Job 16:22 "Only a few years will pass, before I go on the journey of no return!"

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

Colossians 3:1-4 "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, 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. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory!"