Grace Gems for JANUARY, 2023

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The Lord's portion!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"The Lord's portion is His people." Deuteronomy 32:9

How are they His portion?

First, by His own sovereign election.
He chose them, and set His love upon them. He chose them altogether apart from any goodness in them at the time, or any goodness which He foresaw in them. He had mercy on whom He would have mercy, and ordained a chosen company unto eternal life. Therefore, are they His by His unconstrained election.

They are not only His by choice, but by purchase.
He has bought and paid for them to the utmost farthing, hence there can be no dispute about His title to them. The Lord's portion has been fully redeemed, not with corruptible things, as with silver and gold—but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! See the blood-mark upon all the elect, invisible to human eye, but known to Christ, for "the Lord knows those who are His!" He forgets none of those whom He has redeemed! He counts the sheep for whom He laid down His life, and well remembers the people for whom He gave Himself.

They are also His by conquest.
What a battle He had in us, before we would be won! How long He laid siege to our hearts! How often He sent us terms of surrender! But we barred our gates, and fortified our walls against Him. Do we not remember that glorious hour, when He conquered our hearts? When He placed His cross against the wall, and scaled our ramparts, planting the blood-red flag of His omnipotent mercy on our strongholds? Yes, we are, indeed, the conquered captives of His omnipotent love!

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All that we can need for life or death, time or eternity!

(James Smith, "The Wealthy Family!")  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"There is no lack to those who fear Him!" Psalm 34:9

They are not truly wealthy who appear to be so, or who boast of being so.

The lost sinner must be poor. He has . . .
  no God to comfort him, 
    no Savior to deliver him, 
     no Guide to conduct him, 
      no Advocate to plead for him,
       no inward peace to support him,
        no title to Heaven to encourage him.

He is poor. He is in need. He will need . . .
   confidence and comfort in death, 
   a wedding garment in which to appear before God, 
   and a comfortable home throughout eternity!

Every lost sinner is indeed poor. His resources will soon be exhausted, and he will find himself "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!" He may have the appearance of prosperity, but not the reality. True riches belong to another family.

The Lord's people all fear Him; that is, they fear to offend Him, and desire above all things to please Him. And though they may appear poor, they are really rich! God has provided all good things for them, and He gives all good things to them. 

They have a solid peace, flowing from a knowledge of acceptance with God, through the blood of Jesus. 

They have a joyful hope, which blooms with immortality. 

They are assured of strength equal to their day; and of sanctifying grace to make all their troubles work for their good. 

They are content with God's wise and holy appointments; and godliness with contentment is a good fortune. 

They acquiesce in the will of God; and are often filled with joy which flows from His presence. 

They obtain victory over the temptations which would ensnare them. 

They live above the world which would allure and beguile them. 

They are sure of support in death. 

They look forward to a joyful resurrection. 

They rightly anticipate Heaven as their portion forever!

There is no lack to them; for all that they can truly need is promised—and every promise is confirmed by the blood of Jesus!

Jehovah is theirs, along with all that He is, and has!

  His power is their support!

    His wisdom is their guide!

        His fullness is their fortune!

    His mercy is their friend!

  His love is their Heaven!

"Happy are the people who are in such a case!" All the Lord's people are really in this case, and therefore they are all happy!

Just think of having Almighty God for your present, constant, eternal Friend! 

Think of having the wealth of Deity to supply and satisfy you! 

And if you sincerely fear God, then this is the reality of your case!
No truth is more clearly revealed in Scripture.
No subject is more rich with consolation!

Strength may be exhausted, 
health may decline, 
courage may fail, 
riches may flee, 
friends may forsake, 
enemies may increase,
all circumstances may change for the worse,
but "those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing!"

Sweet promise of a faithful God!

Here, pilgrim, is your stafftake it and travel home!

Here, saint, is your cordialdrink and forget your misery!

Here, believer, is your fortunetake it and live upon it, while a resident here below.

Here, fearful soul, is your antidoteuse it to dispel your fears and cheer your fainting heart!

"The young lions may lack food and go hungry, but there is no lack to those who fear Him!"

Here is wealth! Here is comfort!

Here is all that we can need for life or death, time or eternity!

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A vile, creeping, insinuating thing, which will twist itself like a serpent into our hearts!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Words of Wisdom")  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"I hate pride and arrogance!" Proverbs 8:13

There is nothing into which the heart of man so easily falls, as PRIDE; and there is no vice which is more frequently and more emphatically condemned in Scripture!

Pride is a groundless thing. It stands on bubbles, which soon must burst beneath its feet! We have reasons for almost everything—but we have no reasons for pride. Pride is a thing which should be unnatural to us, for we have nothing to be proud of!

Pride is a foolish thing, for it brings no profit with it. There is no wisdom in a self-exaltation. Other vices have some excuse, for men seem to gain by them. Avarice, pleasure, lust—have some plea. But the man who is proud, sells his soul cheaply! For one puff of empty wind, one word of sweet applause, the soul is gone!

Pride wins no crown. Men never honor it, not even the menial slaves of earth; for all men look down on the proud man, and think him less than themselves.

Pride is the maddest thing that can exist.
It feeds upon its own vitals. It will take away its own life.
It saps and undermines its own house, that it may build its pinnacles a little higher—and then the whole structure tumbles down! Nothing proves men so mad, as pride.

Pride is a protean thing.
It changes its shape and forms.
You may find it in any fashion you may choose.
You may see it in the beggar's rags—as well as in the rich man's garments.
It dwells with the rich, and with the poor.
The man without a shoe for his foot, may be as proud as if he were riding in a fine chariot! Pride is found in every rank of society, among all classes of men.

Pride can profess any form of religion. It attends all kinds of chapels and churches. Go where you will, you will see pride. It comes with us, to the house of God. It goes with us, to our houses. It is found on the mart and the exchange, in the streets, and everywhere!

Pride has ten thousand shapes! It is not always that stiff and starched gentleman whom you picture. It is a vile, creeping, insinuating thing, which will twist itself like a serpent into our hearts! It will talk of humility, and prate about being dust and ashes. I have known men talk about their corruption most marvelously, pretending to be all humility—while at the same time they were the proudest wretches that could be found this side Hell!

O my friends! you cannot tell how many shapes pride will assume. Look sharply about you, or you will be deceived by it; and when you think you are entertaining angels, you will find you have been receiving devils unawares!

The true throne of pride is the heart of man. If we desire, by God's grace, to put down pride—the only way is to begin with the heart. Let us seek that He would purify our hearts from pride—and then assuredly, our life also shall be humble.
Make the tree good, and then the fruit shall be good.
Make the fountain pure, and the stream shall be sweet.

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Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it!

(James Smith, "Privilege, Duty, and Promise")  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of Egypt.
 Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it!" Psalm 81:10

Our great privilege is to have God for our God:
  to know Him,
  to love Him,
  to adore Him,
  and to trust in Him.

If God is ours, then all must be well.

If God has delivered us from . . .
  the Egypt of this world,
  the power of sin, and
  the tyranny of Satan,
then He is our God indeed.

He says,
"I am Jehovah, the compassionate God . . .
  who sympathizes with My people in their sorrows,
  who counts their tears,
  who feels their groans, and
  who records their prayers."

"I am Jehovah, the God of power . . .
  who delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage,
  whose strength is as infinite as My nature,
  for whom nothing is too hard."

"I am Jehovah, the God of love . . .
  whose resources are boundless,
  whose pity is tender, and
  who never fails or forsakes those who trust in Him."

"I am Jehovah, your God . . .
  pledged to you by promise,
  engaged for you by covenant,
  and bound to you by oath!

As I am your God . . .
to Me,
in Me,
from Me."

"Open your mouth wide!" That is,
Ask LARGELY—ask for great, numerous, and costly blessings!
Do not be afraid of asking for too much!
My heart is large,
My love is great,
My wealth is unbounded!

Ask BOLDLY—do not be afraid, but come boldly to My throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Ask FREQUENTLY—I am always ready to give! I am never weary of listening to your prayers. Come whenever you are in need, I rejoice to do you good. No parent ever delighted to give to a darling child, as I delight to give to you! Therefore ask and receive, that your joy may be full.

"Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it!" That is, "I have the very blessings which you need. They are from Me; they are for you! I have the disposition to give! Do not doubt My benevolence, for this grieves My heart. I give you My word, that I will bestow My favors upon you freely, plentifully, and frequently!
My Word is plain, read it;
it is faithful, trust it;
it is honest, plead it;
it is sure, expect the fulfillment of it.
I will do exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think!"

"I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of Egypt.
 Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it!" Psalm 81:10

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There are many human ant-eaters!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Treasury of David")  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Their throat is an open sepulcher!
They flatter with their tongue." Psalm 5:9

"Their throat is an open sepulcher!" That is, a sepulcher full of loathsomeness, of pollution, of pestilence, and death! But, worse than that, it is an open sepulcher, with all its evil gases issuing forth, to spread death and destruction all around. It is just so with the throat of the wicked!

It would be a great mercy if the mouth of the wicked could always be closed. If we could seal it in continual silence—it would be like a closed sepulcher, and would not produce much mischief. But, "their throat is an open sepulcher," consequently all the wickedness of their heart exhales and comes forth!

How dangerous is an open sepulcher! Men in their journeys might easily stumble therein, and find themselves among the dead!

Ah! take heed of the wicked man, for there is nothing that he will not say to ruin you. He will long to destroy your character, and bury you in the hideous sepulcher of his own wicked throat!

"This figure graphically portrays the filthy conversation of the wicked. Nothing can be more abominable than an open sepulcher, when a dead putrefying body steams forth its tainted exhalations. Just so, what proceeds out of the mouth of the wicked, is infected and putrid! And, as the exhalation from a sepulcher proves the corruption within—so it is with the corrupt conversation of sinners." Robert Haldane

"The speech of unregenerate men is unsavory, rotten, and hurtful to others; for, as a sepulcher sends out detestable savors and filthy smells—so evil men utter rotten and filthy words!" Thomas Wilson

"They flatter with their tongue." Or, as we might read it, "They have an oily tongue, a smooth tongue." A smooth tongue is a great evil; many have been bewitched by it. There are many human ant-eaters, who with their long tongues covered with oily words, entice and entrap the unwary and make their gain thereby.

When the wolf licks the lamb, he is preparing to wet his teeth in its blood!

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Oh how dreadful the thought, to go to Hell through the church of God!

(James Smith, "The Alarming Sentence!")  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard: For three years now, I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree, and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil!" Luke 13:6-7

Let us look at Christ's figure a little:
A fig-tree, or a professor of the religion of Christ.
A fruitless fig-tree, or a barren, useless professor.
A fig-tree with leaves of profession, but not the fruit of holiness.

No place is as dangerous for an unconverted person, as the church of God! It is to be feared that many join the church before they are truly converted; and yet very, very few are ever converted after.

Once under a profession, God expects you to live up to that profession.
If you are planted in His vineyard, God expects you to bring forth fruit.

The owner of the vineyard comes and seeks fruit. He comes again, and again; and if He finds none, He passes this solemn sentence, "Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil!"

Concerning every fruitless professor God says, "Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil! It drains the ground of its nourishment, for no good purpose. Labor is but lost upon it; expectation is disappointed by it; therefore, Cut it down! My patience and forbearance are worn out; I have come three years seeking fruit, and find none; so, Cut it down!"

It is a fearful sentence! God gives the command to some disease, He says, "Go, cut that barren professor down!" He sends death, like the woodsman with his sharpened ax, at length he strikes the fatal blow; and then the fruitless professor falls!

This command of God is fearful. It is full of terror—it includes utter destruction!

This command is irresistible. We cannot evade it, we cannot brave it out—the boldest heart fails, the strongest body yields to God's "Cut it down!"

This command is final. There is all that is dreadful wrapped up in it—even a certain, fearful expectation of God's judgment, and the raging fire that will consume His enemies!

The fruitless professor is to be cut down and committed to the eternal flames of Hell!

Here is wrath, fearful wrath!
Here is justice, inflexible justice!
Here is vengeance, the vengeance of an infinite God!

O fruitless professor . . .

God looks for fruit from every professor. He will certainly punish, if there is no fruit.

Fruitless professor, where will you be soon?
The axe lies at your root, even now!
The executioner is only awaiting the command!

Divine mercy will soon urge her last plea. The year of reprieve will soon expire, and then, "Cut it down!" is all that remains! Oh how dreadful the thought, to go to Hell through the church of God! To profess that you are traveling to Heaven, when in reality you are going with the lost multitude to eternal perdition!

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The covenant of grace!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Blood of the Everlasting Covenant!" 1859) 

Play Audio!  Download Audio

"The blood of the everlasting covenant!" Hebrews 13:20

Long before the day-star knew its place,
long before God had spoken existence out of nothing,
long before angel's wing had stirred the unnavigated ether,
long before a solitary song had disturbed the solemnity of the silence in which God reigned supreme, the Father had entered into solemn counsel with Himself, with His Son, and with His Spirit—and had in that council decreed, determined, purposed, and predestined the salvation of His people!

On the Father's part, thus ran the covenant. I cannot tell it to you in the glorious celestial tongue in which it was written. I am glad to bring it down to the speech which suits to the ear of flesh, and to the heart of a mortal. Thus, I say, ran the covenant in lines like these:
"I, the Most High Jehovah, do hereby give unto My only begotten and well-beloved Son, a people, countless beyond the number of the stars . . .
  who shall be washed
from sin by Him;
  who shall be preserved, and kept, and led by Him; and
  at last, who shall be presented before My throne without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing by Him.
I covenant by oath, and swear by Myself, because I can swear by no one greater—that these whom I now give to Christ, shall forever be the objects of My eternal love!
These, I will forgive through the merit of my Son's blood.
To these, I will give a perfect righteousness.
These, I will adopt and make My sons and daughters.
And these shall reign with Me through Christ, eternally!"

The Holy Spirit also, as one of the contracting parties of the covenant, gave His declaration:
"I hereby covenant, that all whom the Father gives to the Son, I will in due time quicken.
 I will show them their need of redemption.
 I will cut off all their groundless hopes, and destroy their refuges of lies.
 I will bring them to the blood of sprinkling.
 I will give them faith whereby this blood shall be applied to them.
 I will work in them every grace.
 I will keep their faith alive.
 I will cleanse them and drive out depravity from them.
 And they shall be presented at last, spotless and faultless in Heaven!"
 This was the one side of the covenant, which is at this very day being fulfilled and scrupulously kept.

The Lord Jesus also, as one of the contracting parties of the covenant, gave His declaration:
"My Father, on My part, I covenant that in the fullness of time, I will become man. I will live in their wretched world; and for My people, I keep the law perfectly. I will work out a spotless righteousness for them, which shall be acceptable to the demands of Your just and holy law. In due time, I will bear the sins of all My people. You shall exact all their debts upon Me. By My stripes, they shall be healed. My Father, I covenant and promise that I will be obedient unto death—even the death of the cross. I will magnify Your law, and make it honorable. I will suffer all that My people ought to have suffered. I will endure the curse of Your law, and all the vials of Your wrath shall be emptied and spent upon My head! I will then rise again, and ascend into Heaven. I will intercede for them at Your right hand. I will make Myself responsible for every one of them—that not one of those whom You have given me, shall ever be lost! I will bring all My sheep of whom, by My blood, you have constituted Me the Shepherd. I will bring every one safe to You at last!"

Christ can say of what He promised to do, "It is finished!" He has paid the debts of all the elect. He has, for His people and for their redemption, suffered the whole of wrath divine. Nothing remains now, except that He shall continue to intercede for them, that He may safely bring all His redeemed to glory. All for whom Christ died, shall be pardoned, all justified, all adopted.

The Spirit shall quicken them all, shall give them all faith, shall bring them all to Heaven. And they shall, every one of them, without hindrance—stand accepted in the Beloved.

The antiquity of the covenant of grace demands our grateful attention. It is a truth which tends to elevate the mind. I know of no doctrine more grand than this! It is the very soul and essence of all Scripture! In sitting down and meditating upon it, I confess my spirit has sometimes been ravished with delight!

Can you conceive of the idea, that before all things—God thought of you? That when as yet He had not made His mountains, He had thought of you; you, a poor puny worm! Oh this cannot make us proud, but it must make us feel happy!

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We must continually come to Him!

(James Smith, "Abide with Me" 1859)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

One great part of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart is to . . .
  empty us,
  strip us of self,
  lead us to feel our own weakness,
  and bring us as poor sinners to look to Jesus alone, as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
And just in proportion as we feel our need of Christ, and realize our absolute nothingness without Christ, shall we . . .
   prize Him,
   enjoy Him, and
   exercise dependence upon Him.

O how little do many of us know our need of Christ, and therefore it is that we . . .
  make so little use of Christ,
  enjoy so little of Christ,
  receive so little from Christ,
  and do so little for Christ!

We come to Him at first, as poor, lost, helpless sinners—that we may be saved by His merit and mercy.
And as believers, we must continually come to Him . . .
  with all our burdens, that He may bear them;
  with all our cares, that He may manage them;
  with all our sorrows, that He may sanctify them;
  with all our foes, that He may conquer them;
  with all our sins, that He may cleanse them; and
  with all our needs, that He may supply them.

All that we need is in Christ—and it is in Christ, for us. Our sense of our need of Christ, if it is deep and increasing, will lead us to daily come to Christ for all our supplies.

Our deep necessity fits us for Christ—and His infinite fullness fits Him for us!

Our trials, troubles, temptations, disappointments, and vexations are to teach us our need of Christ, and drive us continually to Him.

There is often much prayer—and yet little communion with Christ.
We should realize that He is giving us His whole attention.
He expects us to tell Him . . .
  all that troubles us,
  all that grieves us,
  all that pleases us,
  all that we need,
  and all that we desire.
We should keep back nothing from Him—but speak to Him freely on every subject, and every circumstance.
He is always with us, listening to us, and sympathetically entering into all our concerns!

We must be intimate with Christ.
We must walk with Him.
We must carry everything to Him.
We must seek all we need from Him.
We must be constantly . . .
  going to Christ,
  conversing with Christ,
  and obtaining from Christ,
if we would receive the consoling influences of His love!

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The mercy of God

(Charles SpurgeonPlay Audio!  Download Audio

I trust in the mercy
of God forever and ever!" Psalm 52:8

Meditate a little on the mercy of God.

It is tender mercy. With gentle, loving touch, He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds. He is as gracious in the manner of His mercy, as in the matter of it.

It is great mercy. There is nothing little in God; His mercy is like Himself, infinite! You cannot measure it. His mercy is so great, that it forgives great sins of great sinners, after great lengths of time; and then gives great favors and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great Heaven of the great God!

It is undeserved mercy, as indeed all true mercy must be; for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for justice. There was no right on the sinner's part, to the saving mercy of the Most High God. Had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire, he would have justly merited the doom; and if delivered from wrath, sovereign love alone has found a cause, for there was none in the sinner himself.

It is rich mercy. Some things are large, but have little efficacy in them; but this mercy is:
  a cordial to your drooping spirits;
  a golden ointment to your bleeding wounds;
  a heavenly bandage to your broken bones;
  a royal chariot for your weary feet;
  a bosom of love for your trembling heart!

It is manifold mercy. As Bunyan says, "All the flowers in God's garden are double." There is no single mercy. You may think you have but one mercy, but you shall find it to be a whole cluster of mercies.

It is abounding mercy. Millions have received it—yet far from its being exhausted, it is as fresh, as full, and as free as ever!

It is unfailing mercy. It will never leave you.
If saved by sovereign mercy, mercy will be . . .
  with you in temptation, to keep you from yielding;
  with you in trouble, to prevent you from sinking;
  with you in living, to be the light and life of your countenance; and
  with you in dying, to be the joy of your soul when earthly comfort is ebbing fast!

"I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever!" Psalm 89:1

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Let us often think of home!

(James Smith, "A Devotional Glimpse at Psalm 23")  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!" Psalm 23:6

Notice, David's expectation for eternity. Not in the sheepfold in the wilderness, but in the house of the Lord! The dwelling-place of God, the family residence of the Father of mercies and His beloved children. In that house, we shall have . . .
  all our desires gratified,
  all our prayers answered, and
  our highest expectations more than realized!

There we shall dwell in peace, united to all the saints, and enjoying the society of all the ransomed brethren! All friendship will be unchangeable, and fellowship perpetual and pure.

There we shall dwell and worship—and our worship will be spiritual, pure, and perfect!

There we shall dwell and enjoy—and our enjoyments will be dignified, delightful, and eternal.

There we shall dwell and obey—and our obedience will be perfect, hearty, and perpetual.

There, we shall dwell and rest—and our rest will be sweet, refreshing, and satisfying.
There will be no wilderness storms there.
There will be no cruel, crafty, malignant foes there.

O glorious prospect! O sweet anticipation!

In our Father's house are many mansions; and all those mansions will be occupied, for . . .
  every one beloved and chosen by the Father,
  every one for whom Jesus became a substitute and sacrifice,
  every one ever born of the Spirit, will be there!

All God's children shall be there—not one of them lost!
All God's sheep shall be there—not one hoof left behind!

There the Eternal Father will be surrounded by, and enjoy the society of all His happy family.
There the glorious Savior will see of the travail of His soul, and be fully and forever satisfied.
There the Holy Spirit will fill all His temples, and enjoy His divine workmanship, and the presence of all whom He has prepared for glory.
There, Jehovah, at home with His people—will manifest forth His glory, and pour floods of light, love, and blessing upon them forever!

Well then may the Psalmist say, "In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures!"

Let us often think of home!
This vain world is not our rest.
Here on earth, we have no continuing city.
Home, the home of the believer's heart, is in the skies . . .
  where Jesus is,
  where Jesus reigns,
  where love is perfect,
  where there is always a full tide of joy,
  where God displays all his glory,
  where grace satisfies the utmost desires of every renewed soul!

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God's children run home when the storm comes on!

(Charles SpurgeonPlay Audio!  Download Audio

"O that I knew where I might find Him!" Job 23:3

In Job's uttermost extremity, he cried after the Lord. Just so, the longing desire of an afflicted child of God, is once more to see his Father's face! His first prayer is not, "O that I might be healed of the disease which now festers in every part of my body!" Nor even, "O that I might see my children restored from the jaws of the grave, and my property once more brought from the hand of the spoiler!" But the first and uppermost cry is, "O that I knew where I might find HIM who is my God! O that I might come even to His presence!"

God's children run home when the storm comes on! It is the heaven-born instinct of a gracious soul, to seek shelter from all troubles beneath the wings of Jehovah. "He who has made God his refuge," might serve as the title of a true believer.

A hypocrite, when afflicted by God, resents the infliction and like a slave, would run from the Master who has scourged him! But not so with the true heir of Heaven, he kisses the hand which smote him, and seeks shelter from the rod, in the bosom of the God who frowned upon him!

Job's desire to commune with God was intensified, by the failure of all other sources of consolation. The patriarch turned away from his sorry friends, and looked up to the celestial throne—just as a traveler turns from his empty water bottle, and betakes himself with all speed to the well. He bids farewell to earth-born hopes, and cries, "O that I knew where I might find my God!"

Nothing teaches us so much the preciousness of the Creator, as when we learn the emptiness of all created things. Turning away with bitter scorn from earth's hives, where we find no honey, but many sharp stings; we rejoice to turn to Him whose faithful Word is sweeter than honey from the honeycomb.

In every trouble, we should first seek God's presence with us. Only let us enjoy His smile, and we can bear our daily cross with a willing heart, for His dear sake!

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My Helper!

(James Smith, "The Sure Resource!") Play Audio! Download Audio

"The Lord is my Helper!" Hebrews 13:6

Creatures sometimes would help us, but they cannot;
and sometimes they could help, but they will not.

Yet the Christian need not be discouraged; he has a Friend who can, and is always willing to help him. It is his God, his sure resource. He may be disappointed by others, but this is divinely appointed, in order to lead him to trust only in his God.

Beloved, our God Himself loves to help us! It is His delight to do us good. He is pleased to see us coming to Him for assistance, or for grace, or for His blessing; especially if we come in a filial spirit—as children to a Father. 

Help is sure to be needed, for we have . . .
   many difficulties to overcome,
   many foes to conquer,
   many trials to endure,
   many duties to perform,
   and many privileges to enjoy.
But not one of them can be attended to with success, without divine help.

We have to . . .
  maintain our profession,
  mortify sin,
  cultivate holiness,
  live above the world,
  exercise our graces,
  and labor for God,
but such is our ignorance, and such is our weakness—that unless we are assisted by divine wisdom and strengthened by divine power, we shall utterly fail in every point!

God is a powerful, an omnipotent helper; He has Heaven and earth at His command. It is nothing for Him to help. He can work deliverance by the weakest instruments; and often does, in order to confound the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

He is a wise and judicious helper, and affords His assistance in such a way as to . . .
   hide pride from men;
   exercise the graces of His people;
   try the sincerity of those who profess to rely upon Him;
   and keep His saints humble at His footstool.

He equally displays His grace, wisdom, and power in . . .
   the help He affords,
   the supplies He sends, and
   the deliverances He works.

Believer, see what you have to expect. You will be tried. You will feel your own weakness. You will learn more and more, your need of divine help. Yes, you will be brought to see that only the Lord can afford you the help you need, that you need a helper, who is . . .
   infinite in wisdom,
   omnipotent in power, and
   whose grace is immutable and free.

See to whom you are to look for help in every duty, trial or conflict, to the Lord—to the Lord always, for all that you need, and to Him alone.

"The Lord is my Helper!" Hebrews 13:6

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Altogether lovely!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Best Beloved"  Play Audio!  Download Audio

No words can ever express the gratitude we owe to Him who loved us even when we were dead in trespasses and sins.

The love of Jesus is unutterably precious, and worthy of daily praise.

No songs can ever fitly celebrate the triumphs of that salvation which He wrought single-handed on our behalf.

The work of Jesus is glorious beyond all comparison, and all the harps of angels fall short of its worthy honor.

We prize His bounty to us, but we worship HIM.

His gifts are valued, but He Himself is adored.

While we contemplate with mingled feelings of awe, admiration, and thankfulness—His atonement, His resurrection, His glory in Heaven, and His second coming—still it is Christ Himself, stupendous in His dignity as the Son of God, and superbly beautiful as the Son of man, who sheds an incomparable charm on all those wonderful achievements, wherein His might and His merit, His goodness and His grace appear so conspicuous.

For HIM let our choicest spices be reserved; and to HIM let our sweetest anthems be raised.

Our choicest ointment must be poured upon His head; and for His own self alone our most costly alabaster boxes must be broken.

"He is altogether lovely."

Not only is . . .
  His teaching attractive,
  His doctrine persuasive,
  His life irreproachable,
  His character enchanting, and
  His work a self-denying labor for the common good of all His people,
but He Himself is altogether lovely!

Do not look for anything lovely outside of Jesus, for He has all the loveliness.

All perfections are in Him making up one consummate perfection. And all the loveliness which is to be seen elsewhere, is but a reflection of His own unrivalled charms.

Jesus is the monopolizer of all loveliness!

He is the engrosser of all that is admirable in the entire universe!

"Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If God had not helped us

(James Smith, "A Grateful Acknowledgment!" 1864) Play Audio! Download Audio

"I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me!" Psalm 118:13

The psalmist had been reviewing his toils, his trials, and his dangers; he commemorates his deliverances, his conquests, and his triumphs; and he ascribes the whole, to the help of God! If God had not helped him:
  his faith would have failed,
  his expectations would have been disappointed,
  and his foes would have prevailed.
Through the Lord, he did valiantly; and now, with joyful heart, he records the loving-kindness of the Lord.

How sweet to look back upon the rough road, the bloody battle-field, the scenes of peculiar trial. Then, if ever, gratitude will work within us, and praises will flow from our tongues and hearts! Delivered from the mouth of the lion, and the paw of the bear—we thankfully acknowledge, "The Lord helped me!"

In looking back we see that we have needed help, and more help than any mere creature could afford us!

The daily cross,
the inward conflict,
the domestic troubles,
the perplexities of business,
the state of the church,
the affairs of the world,
have all combined to teach us that Divine help was necessary!

If God had not helped us . . .
   we would have fallen into sin,
   we would have disgraced our profession,
   we would have been crushed by our foes,
   we would have fainted under our trials,
   we would have apostatized from the faith!

God alone knows what would have been the result, if we had been left to our own resources.
We needed help in infancy, in youth, in manhood.
We needed help in prosperity, and in adversity!
We needed help in temporals, and spirituals.
We found our own strength, to be weakness—and our own wisdom, to be folly.

The feeblest of our foes, would have been more than a match for us!

The least corruption in our hearts, would have overcome us!

And we need help now, as much as we ever did; for, unless the Lord helps us . . .
   our foes will yet triumph over us,
   our crosses will yet prove to be too much for us,
   and we shall yet faint in the day of adversity!

The Lord has promised help. He has said, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God! I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness!" And because His people feel themselves to be vile, weak, and incompetent—He stoops to speak to them according to their own views of themselves and says, "Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I Myself will help you! declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel!"

Oh, precious promise of a good and gracious God!
It extends to all times,
it embraces all circumstances,
it belongs to all believers, and
it ensures us triumph over all our foes!

Yes, the strength of Jesus has been perfected in our weakness! We have found His grace to be sufficient for us; and to the praise of His glorious grace, in reference to all our trials, troubles, and conflicts—we can truly say, "The Lord helped me!"

Oh beloved, it is an unspeakable mercy to have God for our Helper!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Do men make their own gods?

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Do men make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!" Jeremiah 16:20

One great besetting sin of ancient Israel was idolatry, and we who are the spiritual Israel are vexed with a tendency to the same folly! We no longer bow down to sticks and stones—but Mammon still intrudes his golden calf; and the shrines of pride are not forsaken. SELF in various forms, struggles to subdue the chosen ones under its dominion. And the flesh sets up its altars wherever it can find space for them.

Children are often the cause of much sin in believers. The Lord is grieved when He sees us doting upon them above measure; they will live to be as great a curse to us, as Absalom was to David; or they will be taken from us to leave our homes desolate. If Christians desire to grow thorns to stuff their sleepless pillows—let them dote on their children!

It is truly said that "they are not gods," for the objects of our foolish devotion are very doubtful blessings. The solace which they yield us now is dangerous, and the help which they can give us in the hour of trouble is little indeed.

Why then, are we so bewitched with vanities?

We pity the poor heathen who adore a god of stone, and yet we worship a god of gold! Where is the vast superiority between a god of wood, and one of flesh? The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case. Only that in our case, the crime is more aggravated because we have more light, and sin in the face of it. The heathen bows to a false deity, but he has never known the true God. But we commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God, and turn unto idols! May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity!

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

   ~  ~  ~  ~

When His influence is put forth within us

(James Smith, "The Spirit of Grace" 1864)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

All that the Spirit does for us, and all that He works within us—is of grace. He graciously . . .
  quickens the dead,
  instructs the ignorant,
  liberates the captives,
  restores the wanderers,
  comforts the dejected,
  strengthens the weak,
  and sanctifies the impure.
His work is His delight; and to see us holy and happy, is His pleasure!

The Holy Spirit produces all our graces within us. He is the root, and our graces are His fruits. Hence we read, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."

When His influence is put forth within us, then we . . .
  believe God's Word,
  hope in His mercy,
  rejoice in His goodness,
  cleave to His cause,
  walk in His ways,
  love His truth, His people, and Himself.

Holiness is then happiness,
duties are then pleasant, and
even the cross lays light upon our shoulders.

But if the Spirit hides Himself, withdraws His influences and leaves us to ourselves; then we . . .
  doubt and fear,
  fret and pine,
  kick and rebel,
  rove from thing to thing, and
  nothing will either please or satisfy us.

We often then . . .
  question the past,
  are wretched at present,
  and dread the future.

But when He puts forth His power in us again . . .
  our graces shoot forth like bulbous roots in the spring,
  our sighs are exchanged for songs,
  our fears are exchanged for fortitude,
  our doubts are exchanged for confidence, and
  our murmurings are exchanged for gratitude and love.

We then . . .
  sink into the dust of self-abasement,
  admire the forbearance and patience of God,
  condemn our own conduct, and
  wonder that we are out of Hell.

Then we take down our harps from the willows, and with a melting heart, a weeping eye, and a tremulous voice we sing: "The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance." Our wilderness is now turned into an Eden, and our desert into the garden of the Lord!

Come, Holy Spirit! Come, and produce a spring season in our souls!

Brethren, we need the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of grace—to make us gracious and graceful Christians. Without the Spirit of grace . . .
  we cannot live up to our profession;
  we cannot copy the example of our beloved Master;
  we cannot keep His commandments;
  we cannot love one another as He has loved us;
  we cannot sympathize with lost sinners as we should;
  we cannot keep God's glory in view in all that we do;
  we cannot walk in high and holy fellowship with God;
  we cannot meet death with peace and joy!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Surely something must be amiss with the scales!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"You are to have honest balances, honest weights, an honest dry measure, and an honest liquid measure; I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt." Leviticus 19:36

Weights, and scales, and measures—were to be all according to the standard of justice.

Surely no Christian will need to be reminded of this in his business—for if justice were banished from all the world beside, it should find a shelter in true Christian hearts!

There are, however, other scales and balances which weigh moral and spiritual things—and these often need examining. We will call in the Judge right now.

Those scales in which we weigh our own and other men's characters; are they quite accurate? Do we not turn our own ounces of goodness, into pounds; and other people's pounds of excellence, into ounces? See to just weights and measures here, Christian!

Those scales in which we measure our trials and troubles; are they according to standard? Paul, who had far more to suffer than we have, called his afflictions light. Yet we often consider our afflictions to be heavy! Surely something must be amiss with the scales! We must see to this matter, lest we get reported to the court above for unjust dealing!

Those scales with which we measure our beliefs; are they quite fair? The precepts and doctrines should have the same weight with us as the promises—no more and no less! With many, one scale or the other is unfairly weighted. It is a grand matter to give just measure in God's truths. Christian, be careful here!

Those scales in which we estimate our obligations and responsibilities look rather small. When a rich man gives no more to the cause of God, than the poor contribute—is that an honest weight, an honest measure, a just balance?

Reader, we might lengthen the list—but we prefer to leave it as your day's work to find out and destroy all unjust scales, balances, weights, and measures!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The life-boat of free grace!

(James Smith, "The Complaint!" 1864)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"I am cast down!"

And why are you cast down?

"My heart is burdened with a sense of my short-comings!
   Every duty I perform is so imperfect.
     Every purpose I form is so soon frustrated.
       Every hope of seeing better days is so soon beclouded.
         My heart is so fearfully depraved.
           My life is so unlike the life of Jesus.
             My temper is so unholy.
               My prayers are so brief and heartless.
                 My praises are so feeble and fitful.
                   I do so little good.
                 I live to so little purpose.
               My evidences are so dim.
             My prospects are so overcast.
           I am harassed sometimes with the fear of death.
         I cannot realize the glories of Heaven.
       I am dissatisfied with the world, and yet glued to it!
     I hate sin, and yet fall into it!
   I am a riddle, a mystery, a mass of inconsistency!

 Is it, then, any wonder that I am cast down?"

No, if you look at yourself, and pore over the things you have named—then it is no wonder that you are cast down! They are enough to cast anyone down! But if you carry them to the throne of grace, if you there confess them before God, if you look to Jesus to save you from them—then, in spite of them, you will not long be cast down.

I know it is difficult to do this. There is a natural proneness to pore over such things. One feels at times a secret liking to indulge in gloomy thoughts.

But we must look away from self; for if we do not, we shall become anxious, doubting and gloomy! We must run the race, not looking at our imperfections, short-comings, and failures—but looking unto Jesus. He knows what we are. He knew what we would be, before He called us by His grace; yes, before He shed His blood for us!
He loved us, as sinners.
He died for us, as sinners.
He called us, as sinners.
He saves us, as sinners.
He will have all the glory of saving us, and He will get great glory by doing so, because we are such great sinners; and do not, cannot, do anything to repay Him for His wondrous love! Salvation is by free grace, from first to last! Believe this, and it will raise up your drooping mind!

The life-boat of free grace has put you on board the vessel of salvation—and that will convey you safely to the port of glory! Do not look at your spiritual destitution, or feebleness, or incapacity, or imperfections—but trust in your Pilot, rely on your Captain, and expect His mercy and merit to land you safe in Heaven at last!

As imperfect as you now are, and as imperfect you will be—your dying prayer will still be, "God be merciful unto me, a sinner!"

Hope in God!
His mercy is great unto the heavens,
His grace is as free as the air,
His love is as changeless as His nature,
His promise is as immutable as His love.

Hope in God, for you shall yet praise Him. He will save you for His own sake, and present you before assembled worlds as a monument of His mercy, and a trophy of His grace!

For every look at self—take ten looks at Christ!" McCheyne

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The great heart changer!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Stony Heart Removed")  Watch VIDEO  Play Audio!  Download Audio

The heart of the natural man, like marble—is stone-cold towards spiritual things.

No arguments have power to move a soul so steeled—so thoroughly stony, hard, and impenetrable.

O rocks of iron and hills of brass, you are softer than the proud heart of man!

Fallen man is like the deaf adder which will not be charmed—charm we ever so wisely.

Tears are lost on him.

Threatenings are but as the whistlings of the wind.

The preachings of the law, and even of Christ crucified—all these are null and void and fall hopelessly to the ground; so long as the man's heart continues what it is by nature—dead, and hard, and cold.

The heart of man grows harder, whether it be the soft sunshine of love—or the harsh tempest of judgment that falls upon it.

Mercy and love alike make it more solid, and knit its particles closer together. And surely until the Omnipotent Himself speaks the word—the heart of man grows harder, and harder, and harder; and refuses to be softened or broken.

Granite may be ground and be broken into pieces; but unless God gets the hammer in His hand, and even He must put both hands to it—the great 'granite heart' of man will not yield in any way.

You may smite a man's heart right and left with death, with judgment, with mercy, with tears, with entreaties, with threatenings—and it will not break!

No, even the fires of Hell cannot melt man's heart—for the damned in Hell grow more hard by their agonies; and they hate God, and blaspheme Him all the more because of the suffering they endure.

Only Omnipotence itself, I say, can ever soften this hard heart of man!

Christ is the Great Heart Changer!

"Lord, melt my heart.
 None but a bath of blood divine can take the flint away;
 But do it Lord, and You shall have the praise."

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It will all end in mercy!

(James Smith, "It Will All End in Mercy!" 1856)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God, and are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

If you are a sincere believer in Jesus, whatever may be your present difficult circumstances, however trying, however perplexing: "It will all end in mercy!"
You may not think so now.
You may be writing bitter things against yourself.
You may be misinterpreting the designs of God's providence.
You may be doubting the precious promises of God's holy Word.
But notwithstanding your mistakes, your doubts, your fears, your false conclusions—"It will all end in mercy!"

You do not think so; nor did Jacob once, nor did Joseph once, nor did Job once—nor did thousands once, who are now in glory!
They were mistaken, and so are you.
They judged by appearances, and so do you.
They changed their minds, and so will you.

All your troubles are appointed in infinite love!
  They are all weighed out by sovereign goodness!
    They are all limited by perfect wisdom!
      There is no 'chance' in what happens to the Christian!
        Everything is divinely arranged and appointed!

Cheer up, my poor weary fellow-traveler! You will soon arrive at Home; and then you will see clearly and enjoy sweetly the blessed truth—that to the believer "all will end in mercy!"

Take comfort, poor afflicted fellow-Christian! Your afflictions are God's furnace, in which He is refining you! He is only fitting you to occupy a mansion in Heaven, and to sing the sweet and everlasting song—the theme of which will be, "It all ended in mercy!"

Fear not, poor feeble, fickle, faltering follower of Jesus!
Though your faith is weak,
though your fears are strong,
though your doubts are painful,
though you conclude that your case is singular and your condition hopeless;
"the year of release is at hand," and then . . .
  your doubts will expire,
  your fears will flee away,
  your groans will be silenced,
  your feeble hopes will be realized,
  for "It will all end in mercy!"

My brother, are you in poverty, under persecution, or in bodily sickness? Cheer up! Your light shall soon "break forth as the morning!" Write it down in your memorandum book, or impress it upon your memory. Or what is better still, pray the Holy Spirit to give you the sweet inward assurance of the fact that "It will all end in mercy." For "we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God, and are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Lest Madam Bubble bewitch them with her vile suggestions!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"She grabbed him by his garment and said, 'Sleep with me!'
 But leaving his garment in her hand, he escaped and ran from the house." Genesis 39:12

In contending with certain sins, there remains no mode of victory but by flight.

He who would be safe from acts of evil, must hasten away from occasions of it.

A covenant must be made with our eyes, not even to look upon the cause of temptation; for such sins only need a spark to begin with, and a blaze follows in an instant!

Who would wantonly enter the leper's hut, and sleep amid its horrible corruption?
He alone who desires to be leprous himself, would thus court contagion.

If the mariner knew how to avoid a storm, he would do anything rather than run the risk of weathering it.

Cautious navigators have no desire to try how near the quicksand they can sail, or how often they may touch a rock without springing a leak. Their aim is to keep as nearly as possible in the midst of a safe channel.

Today I may be exposed to great peril, let me have wisdom to keep out of it and avoid it.
The wings of a dove may be of more use to me, than the jaws of a lion.
I may be an apparent loser by declining evil company—but I had better leave my cloak, than lose my character!

It is not needful that I should be rich, but it is imperative upon me to be pure. No ties of friendship, no chains of beauty, no flashings of talent, no shafts of ridicule—must turn me from the wise resolve to flee from sin.

I am to resist the devil, and he will flee from me.
But the lusts of the flesh, I must flee—or they will surely overcome me!

O God of holiness, preserve your Josephs, lest Madam Bubble bewitch them with her vile suggestions.

May the horrible trinity of the world, the flesh, and the devil—never overcome us!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

That I may know Him!

(James Smith, "Paul's Seven Wishes" 1856)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

Paul desired seven things especially—and they all referred to Christ, and they are all named in his epistle to the Philippians; and I propose to glance at them. Let us compare our desires with his as we go on, and may the Holy Spirit bless our brief meditation on the subject.

First, he says, "that I may KNOW Him!" (Philippians 3:10.) Christ had appeared to Paul; he was revealed in him, and was constantly preached by him. Christ was . . .
  the object of his trust,
  the subject of his ministry,
  and the joy of his heart!

But he knew that there was much in Christ with which he was unacquainted.
He knew but in part. He desired, therefore, to know more of . . .
  the glory of His person,
  the riches of His grace,
  the magnificence of His work,
  the excellency of His natures,
  the majesty of His kingdom!

Everything in Christ interested Paul.
was good, and grace was better.
But Christ was best of all. He was never wearied . . .
  of thinking of Christ,
  of speaking of Christ,
  of learning of Christ.
He went on with his work—he went on his way with the desire constantly rising in his heart, "That I may know Him!"

Beloved, how is it with you? Do you sympathize with Paul in this desire of his heart?
Is it your daily wish, ardent desire, and constant aim—to know more of Jesus?

Throughout eternity we shall be learning Christ!
He is the lesson placed before us in the church on earth,
and He is the lesson placed before the church in Heaven.
Time is given us to learn Christ.
And blessed be God—eternity will be given to us to learn even more of Christ!

Nothing endears eternity to me like this, it will be spent in learning, enjoying, and honoring Christ!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

When God laughs

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Treasury of David")  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"The One enthroned in Heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them!" Psalm 2:4

Note God's derision of the rebellious! What will the King do unto those who reject Him? Mark the quiet dignity of the Omnipotent One, and the contempt which He pours upon His raging enemies. He has not taken the trouble to rise up and do battle with them, He despises them, He knows how absurd, how irrational, how futile are their attempts against Him. He therefore laughs at them! (Charles Spurgeon)

"The One enthroned in Heaven . . ." Hereby it is clearly intimated,
  (1) that the Lord is far above all their malice and power;
  (2) that He sees all their plots, looking down on all;
  (3) that He is of omnipotent power, and so can do with His enemies just as He desires.
      "Our God is in the heavens! He has done whatever He has pleased." (Arthur Jackson)

Sinners' follies are the righteous sport of God's infinite wisdom and power. Those attempts of the kingdom of Satan, which in our eyes are formidable—in God's eyes are despicable. (Matthew Henry)

"The One enthroned in heaven laughs". They scoff at us, but God laughs at them! Laugh? This seems like a harsh word at first view. But are the derision, the persecution and the injuries of His saints; and the cruelties of their enemies—a matter of laughter? God laughs, but it is in scorn. He scorns, but it is with vengeance. Short is the joy of the wicked! Oh, what are God's frowns—if His smiles are so terrible! (Thomas Adams)

The expression, "The One enthroned in Heaven", at once fixes our thoughts on a being infinitely exalted above impotent man. And when it is said, "He laughs," this is designed to convey to our minds the idea that the greatest confederacies among kings and peoples, and their most extensive and vigorous preparations to defeat His purposes—are in His sight altogether insignificant and worthless! He looks upon their poor and puny efforts—not only without uneasiness or fear, but He laughs at their folly! He treats their impotency with derision. He knows how He can crush them like a moth when He pleases; or consume them in a moment with the breath of His mouth! How profitable it is for us to be reminded of truths such as these! Ah! it is indeed a vain thing for the potsherds of the earth to strive with the glorious Majesty of Heaven! (David Pitcairn)

I Myself will laugh when disaster strikes you,
 I will mock when what you dread comes,
 when what you dread comes like a whirlwind,
 and disaster strikes you like a devastating storm,
 when distressing trouble comes on you!"
Proverbs 1:26-27

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Can we ever reach the promised land?

(James Smith, "Israel's Need, and God's Mercy" 1856)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

Life is but a journey—a journey from the present fleeting world, to the eternal world.

"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light—so that they could travel by day or night." Exodus 13:21

Israel needed a GUIDE in their journey from the wilderness to the promised land.
They had a long journey before them, which would take them forty years.
They had to travel by a strange path, on which they had never trodden before.
Numerous foes would endeavor to obstruct their progress.
Many dangers lined the way.
And they had evil and deceitful hearts!

Fellow-Christians, is it not even so with us? We are going on a journey to a country of which the Lord our God has told us.

The journey is long and trying. It takes some twenty, some forty, and some sixty years to travel from earth to Heaven.

It is a strange path. A path which no one knows, a path we have never trodden before. A path which by nature we could never find, and from which we are prone to turn aside.

We are surrounded by numerous foes, visible and invisible:

The WORLD frowning as a determined persecutor, or fawning as a base deceiver—is our foe. Now by its sneers, sarcasms, or sword—and then, by its gilded vanities, flesh-pleasing baits, and blandishments—it endeavors to turn us aside from the right ways of the Lord.

SATAN and his hosts, crafty, cunning, cruel, united, persevering and determined—set themselves to terrify and drive us back, or to allure us from the way.

And worst of all, in our own natures, we have a determined foe who is . . .
  ever present,
  ever vigilant,
  ever powerful.
Yes, the FLESH lusts against the Spirit. We find a law in our members warring against the law of our minds.

The world, the flesh, and the devil all combine to . . .
  oppose our progress,
  hinder us in our march, and,
  if possible, to destroy us in the wilderness!

Then, there are so many dangers:
  the towering rocks of presumption,
  the quagmires of doubt and fear,
  the pitfalls of error,
  the ravines of willful sin,
  the fiery-flying serpents of temptation,
  the scorpions of indulged lust,
  the sunshine, and the shade;
  the barren sands, and the verdant valleys;
  the granite rocks, and the flowing streams
—all of them have dangers concealed in them! Nor can we be trusted alone for one moment, if we are to be safe. Worst of all, there are our distrustful and deceitful hearts!

With . . .
  so long a journey,
  so strange a path,
  such numerous foes,
  so many dangers, and
  such unbelieving hearts,
can we ever reach the promised land?
Can we?

Not if left to ourselves! Not if led only by Moses. We must have a guide . . .
  who well knows the road;
  who can conquer our many foes;
  who can lead us safely through all our dangers;
  who can bear with our stubborn hearts and lives!

We need a guide . . .
  whose wisdom is perfect,
  whose power is almighty,
  whose care is constant,
  whose patience is immutable,
  whose mercy endures forever!

God provided just what the Israelites needed in the wilderness—a guide to lead them by day and night. He went before them, pointing out the road, clearing it of insurmountable difficulties, and conducting them in it.

This is just what our good and gracious God does for us! He is really present with us, though unseen by us. He is never far from any one of us. He marks out our road, He removes every real impediment out of our way—and conducts us step by step in the path to the promised land!

Naturally we do not know the right path. Left to ourselves, we would choose the short-cut, the smooth path, and well-frequented road. But He leads us in a zig-zag way, by a rough and uneven road—where there are but few fellow-travelers. His choice is best. The way He points out is the only right one. It is to humble us, and test us, and show what is in our hearts. It is that we may walk by faith, and not by sight. It is to teach us our need of Himself, and to lead us to cleave unto Him. "For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death," through death, and beyond it!

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go! I will guide you with My eye!" Psalm 32:8

    ~  ~  ~  ~

Oh! our monster sins, our horrible sins, our damnable sins!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself." Hebrews 9:26

Our sins trail their horrid length athwart many years.

Our sins are aggravated—they are 'piled up' sins.

Our sins are against light and knowledge, against conscience, against vows and resolution.

Our sins are sins repeated after we had tasted of their bitterness.

Our sins are foul sins—sins it may be of the sort which bring the blush to the cheek.

Our sins made us toss on our beds as we remembered them with dread—and yet sins that we returned to as the dog returns to its vomit.

our monster sins, our horrible sins, our damnable sins!

Hell itself cannot put our sins away! There are the devil and his angels for whom Hell was made, for whom the fire was first kindled, and its pit first digged; but they are as great sinners after these six thousand years, as they were when first they were cast down from heaven!

And so those lost ones whose spirits have been in hell since the time of Noah's flood—they are still sinners; and after all the ages of suffering they have endured, not a sin less is upon them now than there was at first!

Ah, dreadful thought!

If you are ever cast into Hell, though ages on ages may lapse, and the wrath of God be poured out upon you to the uttermost—there will never be the destruction of a single sin or particle of a sin by it all.

Sin cannot be put away until the penalty is borne to the end—and that can never be by finite man.

What a work was here, then, for the only begotten Son of God to do! Speak of the labors of Hercules! they were nothing compared with the labors of Emmanuel.

Speak of miracles! to tread the sea, to hush the billows, to heal the sick, to raise the dead—these are all bright stars, but their light is hidden when compared with this miracle of miracles, when the Sun of Christ's righteousness arises with healing beneath His wings, and thick clouds of our sins are put away by Him!

All the sins of His people were made to meet in one tremendous mass. On the cross, Jesus endured the penalty due for all the sin of His people! He put away our sins, the whole mass, the whole mountainous mass of the sin of all those for whom He stood as a substitute, and for whom He suffered the penalty. Our sins were completely put away—everlastingly put away!

All of our sins, of every size, shape, form, hue, degree, or fashion—are altogether gone! Crimson sins, black sins, crying sins, every sort of iniquity from your childhood until now, and right on till you enter into the rest of the Beloved—they were all taken and laid upon Christ, and He made an end of them all when He offered up His great expiatory sacrifice! He has put away sin as a whole, for His chosen ones!

"All praise to Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us. He has made us His kingdom and His priests who serve before God His Father. Give to Him everlasting glory! He rules forever and ever! Amen!" Revelation 1:5-6

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Is this pleasing to God?

(James Smith, "The Proper Aim of a Christian's Life" 1856)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living.
 Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus, to do this more and more!" 1 Thessalonians 4:1

In every place,
in every circumstance,
in every undertaking,
the Christian should ask, "Is this pleasing to God?"

God is pleased or displeased . . .
  with every thought we think,
  with every word we speak,
  with every action we perform,
  with every emotion we feel.

Perhaps we do not sufficiently realize this. We think, speak, feel, and act—without ever considering whether we are pleasing God, or not. But this ought not to be, for He . . .
  gave us our being,
  redeemed us from sin and damnation,
  called us by His grace, and
  has blessed us with innumerable and interminable blessings,
and all that we may glorify Him! And how can we glorify Him, but by habitually aiming to please Him? If we forget or lose sight of this, we forget and lose sight of the principal end of our being, and well-being.

For instance, the manner in which I employ my spare time—the amount of time I give to  recreation or entertainment. Many Christians seem never to think whether the way in which they spend their time, is pleasing to God or not. If they did, would they ever go to some entertainments, or indulge in certain pleasures? Would the world have so much of their time, and the prayer-closet so little? How much time is wasted in frivolous ways, which are neither conducive to the health of the body, nor calculated to promote the spirituality of the mind.

Also, how many squander their money on dress, ornaments, or delicacies for the body—who never relieve the poor, or contribute to establish God's cause in the world. Or if they do so at all, it is not in due proportion to their means. The pence are given to the Lord, the pounds are spent in the gratification of SELF!

If, when I am going to lay out money in ornaments or dress, or indulgences for the table, I was to ask, "Is this pleasing to God?", would it not check my lavish expenditure? Would it not often change the course in which my money flows?

"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way." Colossians 1:10

My object in everything I do, should be to please God. The one grand end of my life, the grand thing I am to aim at—is to please my Heavenly Father. I have . . .
  nothing to dread, but His frown;
  nothing to fear, but His displeasure;
  nothing to seek, but His approbation.
If my Heavenly Father is pleased with me, it is enough.

What a comfort it is to know that my God is easily pleased; that it is not the amount of what I do, but the motive from which I do it, which He looks at! He is pleased with my poorest performances, with my most imperfect services, with only a cup of cold water given to one of His children—if my object is to please Him!

In everything I do, I should ask, "Is this pleasing to God?" If so, all is well.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do—do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31. This is the rule, and we should walk by it.

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A solemn sham and an impudent mockery!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Rend your heart, and not your garments!" Joel 2:13

Garment-rending and other external signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical. True repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Unsaved men will attend to the most multiplied and minute religious ceremonies and regulations, for such things are pleasing to their flesh. But true godliness is too humbling, too heart-searching, too spiritual for the tastes of carnal men! They prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly.

External religious rituals
are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up. But they are ultimately delusive, for at the day of judgment the soul needs something more substantial than religious ceremonies and rituals to lean upon.

Apart from vital godliness, all religion is utterly vain! When offered without a sincere heart, every form of religious worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of God!

Heart-rending is divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating and sin-purging! But also, it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled souls are unable to receive! This heart-rending  distinctly belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts—but they are naturally as hard as marble! How then can this be done? We must take them to Calvary! A dying Savior's voice rent the rocks once, and it is just as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us effectually hear the death-cries of Jesus—and our hearts shall be rent!

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Your portrait!

(James Smith, "The Physician!" 1855)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Those who are whole do not need a physician, but those who are sick!" Matthew 9:12

The world is one vast hospital. Jesus is the only physician in it; He has healed thousands, He will heal thousands more. But multitudes reject Him; they imagine they can do without Him; they think that they are whole, and therefore do not need a physician.

Sin is the disease of the soul. The sinner's state, is a diseased state. He is sick, mortally sick. His sickness is hereditary. He inherited it from his parents. He brought it into the world with him. That is true of all which was spoken by David of himself, "Behold I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me!"

Sin is increased by wicked habits. We go astray from the womb, speaking lies. We contract the habit of sinning, so that to sin becomes as natural to us, as to breathe.

The disease of sin is contagious. We contaminate others, and others increase our sickness. "Bad company corrupts good character."

The progress of this disease is constant, it spreads daily, almost insensibly—and especially from neglect.

Sin produces great weakness—so that the sinner cannot of himself, do anything really good.

Sin not only makes us weak, but stupid—so that we become careless and foolish. We are dying of disease, but are unconcerned about it! There is a skillful physician at hand, but we refuse to apply to Him!

Sin has destroyed all our moral beauty, and left us loathsome, unsightly, and wretched! It produces innumerable and horrendous pains—and surrounds us with sorrows, cares, and woes!

Sin brings us to death—not only separating the body from the soul, but separating the soul from God!

Sin is the forerunner of eternal and unmitigated weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth!

There is no sickness like sin, yet this disease is universal. All are sick! "Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one!" Romans 3:9-12

This disease affects every part of man, "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot, even unto the head—there is no soundness in it, only wounds and bruises and putrefying sores!" Isaiah 1:5, 6.

Man is one mass of moral disease!
Every power and faculty is disordered. All the elements of destruction are within himself. He deeply needs a physician, for he is dreadfully sick—so sick, that there is but a step between him and damnation!

My dear reader, this is your state! The Holy Spirit has given your portrait in the passages you have just read.
Can you recognize the likeness? If not, your eye is diseased!
Do you feel alarmed at the representation? If not, your conscience is diseased!
Are you determined at once to apply to the physician? If not, your heart is diseased!

The plague spot is upon you! You are very far advanced in a moral and spiritual cancer, which is secretly hurrying you to eternal death and damnation! O may the Lord . . .
open your eyes, that you may see your dreadful state;
enlighten your conscience, that you may be alarmed at your condition;
and quicken your soul, that you may flee to Jesus and receive health, healing, and everlasting soundness from His hands!

Jesus is the best physician. His work is to heal souls. He is every way qualified for His work.

He is a wise and skillful physician. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him, and He employs them for the good of souls. He has been employed in healing sinners for six thousand years. His skill has never been baffled, nor has one patient died under His hand yet!

He is a kind and tender physician. Not one harsh word is ever spoken by Him, to a poor broken-hearted sinner; nor does He ever refuse to attend to any case. His kindness is such, that He weeps with those who weep! And His tenderness is so great, that it is said in reference to all His patients, "In all their afflictions, He is afflicted."

He is a friendly and faithful physician. There is nothing forbidding or austere in His manner, nor does He ever deceive. Friendship has erected her throne in His heart, and built her mansion in His bosom; and He is ever faithful to His Word, and to the poor sick sinner who applies to Him.

He is a willing and accessible physician. Willing to heal anyone who is willing to be healed by Him; and to go anywhere to perform His miracles of mercy. As when applied to of old, He said "I will come and heal him!" Just so now! He stoops to the beggar in the dust, and visits the needy on the dunghill. He is always ready at hand. You need no messenger to send and fetch Him—He is within hearing! He is nearer than anyone else, He can hear the softest whisper of the heart!

He is the great physician—no one can be compared to Him for qualifications or success.

He is the good physician—no one beside Him can be found, who so kindly, so freely, and so effectually heals every applicant! His blood is the true balm of Gilead.

It is not only His work, but His delight to heal sin-sick souls! And He heals them all freely, certainly, and perfectly! 

His terms are, "No Money! No Price!" Those whom He restores to health, will enjoy health forever. He makes every one of His patients immortal, and surrounds them with all that can make them holy and happy forever!

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Behold the Emperor of Woe!

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Behold the Man!" John 19:5

If there is one place where our Lord Jesus most fully becomes the joy and comfort of His people, it is where He plunged deepest into the depths of woe!

Come hither, gracious souls, and behold the Man in the garden of Gethsemane! Behold His heart so brimming with love, that He cannot hold it in—so full of sorrow, that it must find a vent. Behold the bloody sweat as it distills from every pore of His body, and falls upon the ground!

Behold the Man as they drive the nails into His hands and feet! Look up, repenting sinners, and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord! Mark Him, as the ruby drops stand on the thorn-crown, and adorn the diadem of the King of Misery with priceless gems!

Behold the Man
when all His bones are out of joint, and He is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death! God has forsaken Him, and Hell compasses Him about. Behold and see—was there ever sorrow like unto His sorrow? All you who pass by, draw near and look upon this spectacle of grief! Unique, unparalleled, a wonder to men and angels, an unmatched marvel!

Behold the Emperor of Woe
, who had no equal or rival in His agonies! Gaze upon Him you mourners—for if there is not consolation in a crucified Christ, there is no joy in earth or Heaven. If in the ransom price of His blood, there is not hope—you harps of heaven, there is no joy in you; and the right hand of God shall know no pleasures for evermore!

We have only to sit more continually at the cross foot, to be less troubled with our afflictions and woes.

We have but to see His sorrows, and we shall be ashamed to mention our sorrows.

We have but to gaze into His wounds, and heal our own.

If we would live aright—it must be by the contemplation of His death.

If we would rise to dignity—it must be by considering His humiliation and His sorrow!

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O what a dwelling!

(James Smith, "The Alarm and Inquiry!" 1855)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"The sinners in Zion are terrified!
 Trembling grips the godless!
 Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
 Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isaiah 33:14

These 'sinners in Zion' represent professors of religion.

Many profess the Christian religion, who are not really Christians!
They are strangers to the new birth.
They have never passed from death unto life.
Their opinions perhaps are changed, but their hearts remain just as they were.
Their lives may be moral, but their hearts are not spiritual.
They are enemies to God, though they profess to be His friends!
They are rebels against the government of Jesus, while they profess to be His loyal subjects.

Commending the Savior with their lips, they withhold their heart from Him.
In professing Christ, they cry, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"
But by living in sin, they cry, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!"
They are not struggling with sin, but sternly attached to sin!
It is not weakness which causes their conduct, but inveterate wickedness!

They are hypocrites, that is, they wear a mask! They pretend to be what they well know they are not. With their mouths they show much love to Christ, but their hearts go after their lusts!

Reader, it is a dreadful thing . . .
  to be a hypocrite;
  to be found among the Lord's people, while not really of them;
  to profess Christ, and not to possess Christ!

You may deceive men, but you cannot deceive God!

You may be bold and fearless now, but when God shall unmask you and expose the nakedness of your soul, then you will be afraid; fearfulness and trembling will seize upon you suddenly!

If you are indulging in any known sin, under a profession of religion—then you are a 'sinner in Zion', and your state is most dangerous!

The time is coming, when the 'sinners in Zion' shall be afraid. God has threatened them. He has threatened them with His sorest judgments. He is true and faithful to His Word. His wrath is eternal, for it is His just displeasure against sin, it is His righteous opposition to the sinner. He hates all sin. But He especially hates deception! Hypocrisy is odious in His sight. He has pronounced the most dreadful woes against all such. They will not find any mercy at His hands, if they persevere in their hypocrisy!

How will they be able to lift up their faces before Him in judgment, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, who has been witness to all their hypocrisy, and who hates all the workers of iniquity! In the prospect of that day, God proposes the most solemn QUESTIONS:

"Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?" Fire inflicts the most dreadful pains. It is used by the Lord to represent the punishment that is to be inflicted upon all ungodly people. It is not merely fire, but consuming fire. Fire in its strength! Fire raging as it does when well fed with fuel! O how dreadful to be tormented in that flame! To be surrounded by that fierce, scorching, destructive element! Sinner! think of devouring fire, a lake of devouring fire—it is the due desert of your sins!

Then, there are everlasting burnings! "Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" There is a fire that never shall be quenched! There are torments that shall never, never, never end! Yes, while God lives to punish, while the cause of punishment remains—the sinner must be punished!

The torments of Hell will not purify. The lost are never sanctified by their sufferings in Hell. They will sin yet more and more, and justice requires that punishment should continue to be inflicted.

Impenitent sinners are to dwell with everlasting burnings.
Hell is to be their unchangeable residence, their eternal portion.
O what a dwelling! What a doom! What a destiny!
And yet it is just, strictly just!

My reader, God directs you to put the question to your own conscience: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?"
Ah! What if you should!
What if your profession should end in this doom!
What if your hope should prove like the spider's web?
It may! It is possible. Is it probable? Search and look!
A mistake here is fearful, it is fatal, it is irremediable!

Deceitful and deceiving professor, ponder these solemn questions. They are especially addressed to you. Every false covering will soon be stripped off. Your heart and your life will be laid bare, by the holy, sin-hating, sin-punishing God!

Do not even dream of redemption from the devouring fire, when once in it, or of the everlasting burnings being quenched! That is the greatest folly. It is an invention of the father of lies—to deceive your souls, and secure your damnation! If you persevere in sin, if you continue to practice hypocrisy—I solemnly warn you, that you shall surely perish!
Hell will be opened to meet you at your death,
the fierce flames of damnation will curl around you,
the doors of the horrid prison of despair will close upon you,
and you will be lost, lost, lost forever!

We must sound the alarm! We would alarm you, to prevent your ruin!

Your sin deserves Hell. It demands punishment. It appeals to the justice of God, and its appeal will be regarded. A just God must punish the impenitent sinner. Hear then, the warning voice! Flee from the wrath to come! Hasten and escape from the consuming fire, from the everlasting burnings! Flee, flee for refuge, and lay hold of the hope set before you in the gospel.

Flee, flee, flee from the everlasting burnings!!!

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Petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions

(Charles Spurgeon Play Audio!  Download Audio

"Be careful to devote yourself to good works." Titus 3:8

"Avoid foolish questions." Titus 3:9

Our days are few, and are far better spent in devoting ourselves to good works, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. Incessant discussion of subjects of no practical value, do a world of mischief. Our churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser! Therefore, the discussion no more promotes knowledge, than love. It is foolish to sow in so barren a field!

Questions upon . . .
  points wherein Scripture is silent;
  mysteries which belong to God alone;
  prophecies of doubtful interpretation;
  modes of observing mere human ceremonies
—are all foolish!
Wise men will avoid them!

Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether! If we observe the apostle's precept to be careful to devote ourselves to good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business, to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings!

There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly answer, such as these:
  Am I growing in grace and Christ-likeness?
  Does my life adorn the doctrine of my Savior?
  What more can I do for Jesus?
Such inquiries as these, urgently demand our attention!

If we have been at all given to arguing and disputing, let us now turn to a service so much more profitable. Let us endeavor to lead others, both by our precept and example, to "avoid foolish questions."

"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." 2 Timothy 2:23