Grace Gems for MARCH, 2023

A Bag, a Book, and a Bottle!

(Don Fortner)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

God takes great care to comfort His people in their many trials and sorrows in this world. One of the goals which He commands His preachers to have, is the comfort of His people. He says, "Comfort, comfort My people." Here are three things described in the Word of God that should be of great comfort to every believer:

1. God has made A BAG FOR OUR SINS. Job said, "My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and you sew up my iniquity."  In ancient times when men died at sea, their bodies were placed in a weighted bag which was sewn together and sealed. Then they were cast into the depths of the sea.

That is what God has done with our sins. They are cast "into the depths of the sea." When Christ died for our sins which were imputed to Him, He put them all away. They were buried in the sea of God's infinite forgiveness, put away never to be brought up again. God almighty will never charge us with sin, impute sin to us, remember our sins against us, or treat us any less graciously because of our sin. That is the forgiveness of God! "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."

2. The Lord has written A BOOK FOR OUR NAMES. Take heart child of God. Your name is written in the book of God! Before the worlds were made, the Lord God inscribed the names of His elect in the Lamb's book of life. In that book God has recorded, not only the names of the chosen heirs of Heaven, but also all things pertaining to them. The Lamb's book of life is the book of God's eternal purpose of grace, predestination, and election. The fact that our names are written in that book means that our salvation is a matter of absolute certainty; and that all things work together for our good by God's arrangement to secure our predestined end, which is perfect conformity to Christ. When our Lord says, "Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven," He is telling us that we have nothing to fear. All is well with those whose names are written in Heaven!

3. Moreover, the Lord God keeps A BOTTLE FOR OUR TEARS. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book." It was customary at ancient Egyptian funerals for mourners to have a small cloth or sponge to wipe away their tears. Then they were squeezed into a small vial, a tear bottle, and placed in the tomb with the dead, symbolizing the care the mourners had for the one who had died. Even so, the Lord our God, our heavenly Father, our almighty Savior, and our holy Comforter, tenderly cares for us. We are the very apple of His eye.

The Lord our God has . . .
  put our sins in a bag and buried them,
  written our names in a book to remember them, and
  placed our tears in a bottle to show His tender care for us.

Could anything be more comforting in this world of sin, sorrow, and death?

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The choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian!

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(Below are several choice excerpts on the importance of meditation.)

Thomas Manton
: "What is the reason that there is so much preaching, and so little practice? For lack of meditation. The end of study is information—and the end of meditation is practice, or kindling of the affections. The end of study is to hoard up truth. The end of meditation to lay it forth in holy conduct. To hear sermons and not to meditate upon them, is unfruitful. We may hear and hear, but it is like putting a thing into a bag with holes!"

Thomas Brooks: "It is not the bee's touching of the flower which gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower which draws out the sweet. Just so, it is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most—who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian!"

William Bridge: "Meditation will keep your hearts and souls from sinful thoughts. When the vessel is full, you can put in no more. If the heart is full of sinful thoughts—then there is no room for holy and heavenly thoughts. If the heart is full of holy and heavenly thoughts by meditation—then there is no room for evil and sinful thoughts."

William Plumer: "Without meditation grace never thrives, prayer is languid, praise is dull, and religious duties are unprofitable. It is easier to hear a year of sermons—than to spend an hour in close, devout, profitable thoughts on divine things."

George Muller: "It often astonishes me that I did not see the importance of meditation upon Scripture earlier in my Christian life. We must consider what we read, ponder over it, and apply it to our hearts. The most important thing I do, is to read the Word of God and to meditate on it. Thus my heart might is comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved and instructed."

Thomas Watson: "The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word, is because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation. Without meditation, the truths which we know will never affect our hearts. As a hammer drives a nail to the head, so meditation drives a truth to the heart. Read before you meditate. Reading furnishes with matter—it is the oil which feeds the lamp of meditation. Be sure your meditations are founded upon Scripture. Reading without meditation is barren and unfruitful; meditation without reading is dangerous."

Charles Spurgeon: "Some people like to read so many chapters every day. I would not dissuade them from the practice, but I would rather let my soul soak in half a dozen verses all day, than rinse my hand in several chapters. Oh, to be bathed in a text of Scripture, and to let it be sucked up into your very soul, till it saturates your heart! Set your heart upon God's Word! Let your whole nature be plunged into it as a cloth into a dye!"

William Bridge:
"By meditation, your knowledge is raised.
 By meditation, your memory is strengthened.
 By meditation, your hearts are warmed.
 By meditation, you will be freed from sinful thoughts.
 By meditation, your hearts will be tuned to every duty.
 By meditation, you will grow in grace.
 By meditation, you will fill up all the chinks and crevices of your lives, and know how to spend your spare time profitably.
 By meditation, you will draw good out of evil.
 By meditation, you will converse with God, and enjoy God."

Philip Henry: "It is easier to walk six miles to hear a sermon, than to spend one quarter of an hour in meditating upon it when I come home."

Arthur Pink: "Meditation upon the Word of God is one of the most important of all the means of grace and growth in spirituality, yes there can be no true progress in vital and practical godliness without it. Meditation on Divine things is not optional but obligatory, for it is something which God has commanded us to attend unto."

"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8

"But his delight is in the Law of the LORD, and on His Law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:2

"I meditate on Your precepts, and consider Your ways." Psalm 119:15

"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." Psalm 119:97

"My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises." Psalm 119:148

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Your present affliction

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

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"God is love!"
1 John 4:8

Believer, the author of your present affliction, is Jehovah (Amos 3:6); it comes at the command of the Lord Almighty, who is excellent in counsel and wonderful in working. But though He afflicts you, His heart is not, and cannot be turned against you, for He has revealed Himself in His Word, as LOVE. He does not merely tell you that He loves you, but that He is LOVE ITSELF—infinite, eternal, unchangeable love! Fury has no place in Him; His anger is turned away from you, by the sacrifice of Jesus.

Your present affliction
flows from His love; though occasioned by your sin, or called for by the circumstances in which you are placed. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve His redeemed children without cause. But while He puts you to pain, while He lays His rod upon you, He loves you with an inconceivable love! There is nothing but love in His heart toward you! Every affliction is absolutely necessary, and could not be dispensed with. He will never fail you nor forsake you, and therefore He lays His rod upon you. The discipline may be sharp, but the design is truly gracious. He seeks the good of your immortal soul; and designs only your welfare, even your sanctification. He intends to . . .
  remind you of your follies,
  bring you to reflection, and
  lead you back to Himself from whom you have wandered.
Or else He intends to prevent your falling into some real evils, to which you were fast hastening.
He intends, in a word . . .
  to conform you to Jesus;
  to answer your prayers; and
  to show you, your absolute need of His presence, power, and love.

It was Divine love which chose the trial. It was Divine love which sent it. And the God of love is waiting to hear your confessions, your prayers, and your complaints.

Believe that He is love; believe that your sickness flows from love; and entreat Him to sanctify it, and then remove it. But seek its sanctification before its removal.

Sanctified afflictions are among our choicest blessings!
They . . .
  wean our hearts from earth,
  direct our affections above, and
  give energy and fervor to our prayers.
Many have had to say, "It is good for me, that I have been afflicted!
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your precepts."

The Lord watches over you in love. While you are in this furnace, He is about your bed.
Do not forget that the God of love is present with you, present to . . .
  hear your groanings,
  number your pains,
  mark your tears,
  listen to your prayers,
  and bless you indeed.
You may not have the comfort of His presence, but you have the benefit of it. Endeavor to realize that God is with you, with you as a kind and gracious Father, watching over you to do you good.

By this affliction, He calls you . . .
  to self-examination,
  to surrender yourself afresh to Him,
  to seek your happiness alone in Him,
  to cast all your cares upon Him,
  to make known your request to Him!
He says, "I will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry. When I hear you, I will answer you." His eye is fixed upon you for good! He is full of compassion, and plenteous in mercy unto all who call upon Him in truth. Call then upon the Lord, in this day of trouble; He will deliver you, and you shall glorify Him.

"The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes every one He accepts as a son." Hebrews 12:6

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The grandest benefactors of the church!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"By running and exercising every day, you are the fitter to run in a race. Just so, the oftener you come into God's presence—the greater confidence, and freedom, and enlargement it will bring to your soul."

No doubt by praying we learn to pray; and the more we pray—the oftener we can pray, and the better we can pray. He who prays by fits and starts is never likely to attain to that effectual, fervent prayer which avails much.

Prayer is good,
the habit of prayer is better,
but the spirit of prayer is the best of all.
It is in the spirit of prayer, that we pray without ceasing.

It is astonishing what distances men can run, who have long practiced; and it is equally marvelous for what a length of time they can maintain a high speed after they have once acquired stamina and skill in using their muscles.

Just so, great power in prayer is within our reach, but we must work to obtain it. Let us never imagine that Abraham could have interceded so successfully for Sodom, if he had not been all his lifetime in the practice of communion with God. Jacob's all-night at Peniel was not the first occasion upon which he had met his God. We may even look upon our Lord's most choice and wonderful prayer with His disciples before His Passion—as the flower and fruit of His many nights of devotion, and of His often rising up a great while before day to pray.

A man who becomes a great runner has to put himself in training, and to keep himself in it; and that training consists very much of the exercise of running. Those who have distinguished themselves for speed have not suddenly leaped into eminence, but have long been runners.

Just so, if a man dreams that he can become mighty in prayer just when he pleases, he labors under a great mistake. The prayer of Elijah, which shut up Heaven and afterward opened its floodgates—was one of a long series of mighty prevailings with God. Oh that Christian men would remember this!

Perseverance in prayer is necessary to prevalence in prayer!

Those great intercessors, who are not so often mentioned as they ought to be in connection with confessors and martyrs, were nevertheless the grandest benefactors of the church. But it was only by abiding at the mercy-seat, that they attained to be such channels of mercy to men.

O Jesus, by whom we come to God, seeing You have Yourself trodden the way of prayer, and never turned from it—teach me to remain a suppliant as long as I remain a sinner, and to wrestle in prayer so long as I have to wrestle with the powers of evil. Whatever else I may outgrow, may I never dream that I may relax my supplications.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

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Delighting in God!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

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"Delight yourself in the Lord
, and He shall give you the desires of your heart!" Psalm 37:4

Delighting in worldly things, effectually prevents our delighting in God. Therefore it is often the case, that the Lord strips us of these things, or incapacitates us to enjoy them—in order to bring us back to delight in Himself.

He delights in His people, and He desires that His people to delight in Him. In order to accomplish this, He has revealed Himself in the most amiable characters, as . . .
  a Husband,
  a Friend,
  a Brother,
  a Savior,
  a Shepherd, and so forth—
all on purpose to endear Himself to us!

Surely if our hearts were right, we would delight in Him on account of . . .
  His glorious perfections,
  His unalterable love,
  the perfect atonement made for our sins,
  the promises made for our comfort and encouragement,
  the gift of the Holy Spirit,
  the communion we are urged to hold with Himself,
  and the glorious paradise of blessedness set before us,
—where we shall forever . . .
    view the unfolding of His glories,
    enjoy the riches of His grace, and
    drink of the river of His pleasures!

Sick Christian, Jesus bids you to delight in Him!
Delight in Him as your Savior, Friend, and Brother!
Delight in His person and glories!
Delight in His perfect work!
Delight in His glorious fullness!
Delight in your salvation in Him, union to Him, and claim upon Him.
Oh, delight in Jesus!

You will have no permanent peace or solid satisfaction—but as you are delight in Him, and rejoice in Him, saying, "You are my portion, O Lord!"

He who delights in God has the desires of His heart, because they are in accordance with the purpose, promise, and pleasure of God.

The mind is thrown into the mold of God's mind, and the soul cries from its inmost recesses, "Not my will, but may Your will be done!" Its pleasures are spiritual, permanent, and satisfactory. The desire for earthly things becomes very contracted; a little of the things of this poor world will satisfy a soul that is delighting in Jehovah.

Delighting in God always produces resignation and holy contentment. Whatever they have, they enjoy it as the undeserved gift of God; and they feel obligated and thankful for all. They would rather be conformed to God's will, than have their own will. They know that His appointments are best, because they are infinitely wise, holy, and gracious. They can say, "I trust in You, O Lord, for You are my God! My times are in Your hand!" They find that godliness with contentment is great gain; and say with one of old, "The little that a righteous man has, is better than the riches of many wicked!" "Better a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with turmoil."

The presence, the promise, and the smile of God—are to them inestimably valuable; but other things are not so important. They seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all other necessary things are added unto them. They live at the fountain, when all the streams are dried up! They delight in God, when creatures fade and wither!

O Lord! I would delight in Thee,
And on Your care depend;
To You in every trouble flee,
My best, my only Friend!

No good in creatures can be found,
But may be found in Thee;
I must have all things and abound,
While God is God to me!

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If we spend our time on the newspaper, or sit hour after hour reading trashy novels!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Take a mirror and turn it toward Heaven—and there you shall see the reflection of Heaven, the clouds and things above. Turn it downward toward the earth, you shall see the reflection of the earth, trees, meadows, men. Just so does the soul receive a reflection from the things to which it is set. If the heart is set toward Heaven, that puts you into a heavenly frame. If you set your heart on earthly objects, you are a man of the earth!"

Are our thoughts and our affections full of worldliness? Let us make good use of the above figure, and turn the mirror the other way. Our mind will readily enough reflect divine things, if we turn it in that direction. Let us see if it is not so. Prayerfully read your Bible, or some lively devotional book, and see if the heart is not immediately filled with holy and heavenly reflections.

At any rate, if we spend our time on the newspaper, or sit hour after hour reading trashy novelswe have no reason to wonder that thought and heart go after vanity! The turning of the mind upward is half the battle. We cannot expect it to reflect that toward which it does not turn.

Those who mind earthly things, are earthly.
Those who set their affections upon things above, are heavenly.

Paul shows how practically useful it is to turn the mind Godward, when he says that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts—we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ."

We may well cry concerning this matter, "Turn us, O Lord, and we shall be turned!" If we cannot see divine truth to our enjoyment, let us nevertheless look that way; for that eye is blessed which looks in the direction of the light.

He who would behold the sun at its rising, must look to the east.
Just so, he who would see God as his delight, must look Godward.

If the mirror of the soul is resolutely set toward the Lord—we shall with open face behold, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, and be changed into the same image from glory to glory!

O, my blessed Master, help me I beseech you, to keep the mirror of my mind in the right position—that evermore I may see You! True, it will be but as in a dark mirror, but even that will be a marvelous preparation for beholding You face to face in glory!

"Those who live according to the sinful nature, have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit, have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." Romans 8:5

"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!" Colossians 3:1-2

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The Bible is designed to be an experimental and a practical book!

(Octavius Winslow, 1853) LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

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

The main value of any Scriptural truth to a child of God, is the conscious power of that truth in his own soul. The Bible is designed to be an experimental and a practical book. It does not deal with mere academic or theoretical truths. Its teachings were intended by its Divine Author to address themselves to the judgment, thus finding an inlet to the conscience and the heart, and becoming a leaven of holiness in the soul; diffusing its influence through the affections and desires of the Christian.

We repeat the observation, that any truth is valuable to the Christian, only in proportion to his personal and experimental acquaintance with its nature and effects.

A mere religious professor may have an intellectual belief in, and a theoretical reception of, vital and essential truth—and yet be utterly ignorant of its renewing and sanctifying power in his soul!

O that there were more experimental Christianity among us!

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek You! My soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water!" Psalm 63:1

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Without supplies of grace from Christ

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

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Jehovah is emphatically called . . .
   the God of all grace,
   the Father of mercies,
   the God of all comfort,
   the God of peace,
   the God of hope,
   the God of salvation.
All of these titles are full of comfort, and are calculated to inspire our souls with love, gratitude, and pleasure.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you—so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work!" 2 Corinthians 9:8

All grace dwells in God, and flows freely from Him. He is glorified in the communications of His grace to the most unworthy. You have received a little—He is able to make all of His grace abound toward you. The aboundings of His grace will produce . . .
   strong faith,
   great patience,
   deep humility,
   holy contentment,
   ardent love,
   joyful hope,
   warm zeal,
   Scriptural courage,
   and spiritual fortitude.

It is divine grace which . . .
   first quickened us to feel our lost state;
   led us to Jesus;
   gives us a good hope;
   conquers our corruptions;
   enables us to act for the Lord's glory.

In reference to all these things, you feel miserably deficient; you cannot produce them. But God can make His grace abound to you. He can give you a sufficiency of grace . . .
   to support you under every trial,
   to strengthen you under every burden,
   to qualify you for every duty, and
   to fill you with all joy and peace in believing—that you may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

You have perhaps set about doing good works, and have found yourself unable to perform them. You feel ashamed of what you have done; you have condemned yourself, and perhaps have given way to fear and despondency. Good works can only be performed through grace received from the Lord.

Without God's grace, the wisest miscarry.
With God's grace, the most simple succeed!

We can only serve God rightly, when we serve Him with His own grace.

You are not sufficient of yourself so much as to think a good thought!
Without supplies of grace from Christ
, you can do nothing to please Him. 

There is no good work, but you may perform it—if you receive God's grace!

There is no sin, but you may fall into—if you trust to yourself, and neglect the supplies of grace.

God invites you to His throne of grace. He promises you a supply. He is able to make all grace to abound toward you. He is the God of all grace; and until He changes in His nature, forfeits His word, or refuses to give—you have no ground of complaint or despondency.

"Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
 I have already come;
 'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
 And grace will lead me home!"

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Too choice a flower to grow in nature's garden!

(Charles Spurgeon)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Godly sorrow works repentance."
2 Corinthians 7:10

Genuine mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature's garden. Pearls grow naturally in oysters, but penitence never shows itself in sinners, unless divine grace works it in them. If you have one particle of real hatred for sin—then God must have given it to you; for human nature's thorns never produced a single fig! "That which is born of the flesh is flesh!"

True repentance has a distinct reference to the Savior. When we repent of sin—we must have one eye upon sin, and another upon the cross. It will be better still, if we fix both our eyes upon Christ, and see our transgressions only in the light of His dying love.

True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man may say he hates sin, if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin, not merely as a theory—but experimentally, just as a burnt child dreads the fire! We shall be as much afraid of sin, as a man who has lately been robbed is afraid of the thief upon the highway. And we shall shun sin, shun it in everything; not in great things only, but in little things, as men shun little vipers as well as great ones.

True mourning for sin will make us very jealous over our tongue, lest we should say a wrong word. We shall also be very watchful over our daily actions, lest in anything we offend God.

Each night we shall close the day with painful confessions of shortcomings; and each morning awaken with anxious prayers, that this day God would hold us up, that we may not sin against Him.

Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. This sorrow for sin is not intermittent. Every other sorrow yields to time—but this dear sorrow grows with our growth. It is so sweet a bitter, that we thank God we are permitted to enjoy it until we enter our eternal rest!

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The Scriptural view of sin!

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Joseph Alleine: O miserable man, what a deformed monster has sin made you! God made you "little lower than the angels", but sin has made you little better than the devils!


Jacob Squire: There is a certain infiniteness in sin, because it is against an infinite God—which therefore brings a punishment of infinite duration, because it cannot be atoned for by finite creatures.


Thomas Brooks: Did God leave us to act according to our sinful natures—we would all be incarnate devils, and this world would be an absolute Hell!

There is no little sin, because there is no little God to sin against.


Jonathan Edwards: You contribute nothing to your salvation, but the sin which made it necessary!

Never did God so manifest His hatred of sin, as in the death and suffering of His only begotten Son.


John Flavel: Christ is not sweet, until sin is made bitter to us!

If God should damn you to all eternity, your eternal sufferings could not satisfy for the evil that is in one vain thought! O the depth of the evil of sin!


Charles Hodge: Original sin is the only rational solution of the undeniable fact of the deep, universal and early manifested sinfulness of men in all ages, of every class, and in every part of the world.


J.A. James: The torments of the bottomless pit are not so dreadful a demonstration of God's hatred of sin, as the agonies of the cross!


Christopher Love: Sin is worse than Hell, because sin made Hell to be Hell.


Thomas Manton: Sin is sweet in commission, but bitter in its wages!

The more affected we are with our sinful misery, the fitter we are for Christ's marvelous mercy.


William Mason: Sin digs graves for bodies, and kindles Hell for souls!

A man can never leave sin thoroughly, until he loathes it heartily.

Go to Golgotha, and see what sin did there!

Christ did not die for sin, that we might live in sin.

The sins of the wicked anger Christ, the sins of His people grieve Him.


John Newton: The more vile we are in our own eyes, the more precious Christ will be to us!

Sin cannot be hated for itself, until we have seen the malignity of it in Christ's sufferings!


John Owen: The seed of every sin, is in every heart!

Christ's blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls!

I do not understand how a man can be a true believer, in whom sin is not the greatest burden, sorrow and trouble!


William Price: We drown our sins in the Red Sea of Christ's blood!


J.C. Ryle: Christ is never fully valued, until sin is clearly seen.


William Sibbes: The depths of our misery, can never fall below the depths of God's mercy!

Sin is not so sweet in the committing of it, as it is bitter in the reckoning of it.

It is evident that our conversion is sound, when we loathe and hate sin from the heart.


Charles Spurgeon: If Christ has died for me, then I cannot trifle with the sin which killed my best Friend!

What sin is worth being damned for?

If you have lived like the wicked, then you will die like the wicked, and be damned like the wicked!

Look to the cross, and hate your sin—for sin nailed your Well-Beloved to the cruel tree!

Sin is self-damnation!

As salt tinges every drop in the ocean, so does sin affect every atom of man's nature!

There is no cure for the love of sin, like the blood of Christ!


Thomas Watson:

Sin has . . .
  the devil for its father,
  shame for its companion, and
  death and damnation for its wages!

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You will soon end your tedious, tiresome journey!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)
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"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth!" Hebrews 11:13

Every believer is a pilgrim. He is traveling to his Father's house! He is presently a stranger in a strange land, surrounded by temptations, trials, and foes. His journey lies through a great and terrible wilderness. Therefore he must not expect a very smooth path, or many comfortable accommodations. He will have much to grieve and distress him. His heart will be often burdened with grief, and filled with sorrow. Tears are common to the Christian. He feels the unsuitableness of the things of time—to his spirit, profession, and aim. And therefore he confesses, "I am a stranger and a pilgrim, as all my fathers were!" Psalm 39:12

Weariness and painfulness are his portion now, but a rest remains for him! It is a glorious rest. It embraces and includes all that the believer has prayed for, and can desire!

It waits for him at the end of his journey,
it was prepared for him from the foundation of the world,
it is now promised to him in the faithful Word, and
it will be bestowed upon him when he has fought the good fight, and finished his course.

Everything at present may appear gloomy and distressing; but ahead of you, believer—everything is glorious, magnificent, and blessed! Press on then. Fight the good fight of faith. Travel on in the strength of Jesus! You are going home, and you have a glorious home to go to!

The minute after you have entered your rest, you will forget all the fatigue, all the dangers, and all the difficulties of the way! You will perhaps be filled with wonder, that you should ever have allowed such trifles to vex you, or such little trials to discourage you—with such a glorious end before you.

Fellow-pilgrim, expect trouble, but also expect mercy to help you in time of need! Expect to feel your circumstances to be trying, but also expect your Savior's strength to be perfected in your weakness! You will soon end your tedious, tiresome journey—and enter into the joy of your Lord!

Never forget you are now a pilgrim, a stranger, only a sojourner here in this poor world. Here you have no continuing city, but you seek for one to come.

Nothing can make this poor world your rest—it will always be a wilderness to you. Be content then, to wait until you get home! There you shall enjoy, and always enjoy—all your desires! There will not be one unfulfilled want, wish, or desire there! All will be satisfied, all will be full. In a little while, you will see the portal of your Father's house and hear Him say, "Come in, you who are blessed of the Lord, tarry no longer outside! Come, dwell forever with Me!"

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Even though he had a shipload of such rubbish!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

The more abundance of truly valuable things a man has, the more he has of true riches.

A child counts himself rich when he has a great many marbles, and toys and rocks; for these suit his childish age and imagination.

Just so, a worldly man counts himself rich when he has a great store of gold and silver, or lands and houses.

But a child of God counts himself rich when he has . . .
  God for his Portion,
  Christ for his Redeemer, and
  the Spirit for his Guide, Sanctifier and Comforter.
This is as much above a carnal man's estate in the world, as a carnal man's estate is above a child's toys and trifles—yes, infinitely more!

It is above all things desirable, that we adopt a correct scale to estimate things. When we make our personal audit, we shall fall into grievous error if the principles of our reckoning are not thoroughly accurate. If we reckon buttons as silver, and brass as gold—we shall dream that we are rich, when we are in poverty!

In taking stock of our own condition, let us be sure only to reckon that for riches, which is really riches to us. Wealth to the worldling is not wealth to the Christian. His currency is different, his valuables are of another sort.

Am I today poorer in money than I was ten years ago. And at the same time, am I more humble, more patient, more earnest, more loving? Then set me down as a rich man!

Have my worldly goods largely increased during the last few years? And at the same time, am I also more proud, more carnal-minded, more lukewarm, more petulant? Then I must write myself down as a poorer man, whatever others may think of my estate.

A Christian's riches are within him!
External belongings are by no means a sure gain to a man.

A horse is none the better off for all its gilded trappings.
Just so, a man is in truth, none the richer for his sumptuous surroundings.

Paul was richer than King Croesus, when he was able to say, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want!" Philippians 4:11-12

Such contentment surpasses riches! Solomon, after summing up all his possessions and delights—was compelled to add, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!"
If a man should labor to be rich after the fashion of the poor African natives, and should accumulate a large store of shells and beads; yet when he came home to England he would be a beggar, even though he had a shipload of such rubbish!

Just so, he who gives his heart and soul to the accumulation of gold coins, is a beggar when he comes into the spiritual realm, where such coins are reckoned as mere forms of earth, non-current in Heaven, and of less value than the least of spiritual blessings!

O, my Lord, let me not merely talk thus, and pretend to despise earthly treasure, when all the while I am hunting after it! Grant me grace to live above these perishable things, never setting my heart upon them; nor caring whether I have them, or have them not. But give me grace to exercise all my energy in pleasing You, and in gaining those things which You hold in esteem. Give me, I beseech You, the riches of Your grace, that I may at last attain to the riches of Your glory!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

What an ocean of glory is here!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)
LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory!" Romans 8:17

The spiritual mind is like a bird locked up in a cage, while burdened with a body of sin and death. We cannot do the things that we desire, so we long, pant, and pray for liberty.

Liberty, glorious liberty is before us!

Perfect and entire freedom from all sin, and temptation to sin!

Every corruption will be slain, and completely rooted out of body and soul!

No dark clouds of ignorance will any more hover over the understanding.

No sinful or selfish principles will any more influence the will.

No corroding guilt will again obtain a place in the conscience.

No unworthy objects will be presented, or have power to captivate any of the affections.

No profane or forbidden subjects will any more be found in the memory.

will be correctly informed. "Now we know in part, and prophesy in part—but then shall we know even as also we are known."

Holiness will enter into the very nature of body and soul!

We shall be separated completely and forever, from everything that is painful, defiling, or injurious; and united closely and forever to all that is holy, happy, and beneficial.

Tried believer! What an ocean of glory is here! Adam's paradise was nothing compared to this!

All things are yours!

God is yours!

Heaven is yours!

The glory of Jesus is yours!

Your end will be glorious, though your present situation is painful and distressing.
You will soon be delivered . . .
  from every fear,
  from every foe,
  from every impediment, and
  from evil in every shape and form!

"No eye has seen,
 no ear has heard, and
 no mind has imagined,
 what God has prepared for those who love Him!"
    1 Corinthians 2:9

    ~  ~  ~  ~

An inexhaustible mine of wealth!

(Charles Spurgeon)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"He has given us His exceeding great and precious promises!" 2 Peter 1:4

The promises of God are an inexhaustible mine of wealth to the believer. Happy is it for him if he knows how to search out their secret veins, and enrich himself with their hidden treasures.

The promises of God are a spiritual armory, containing all kinds of offensive and defensive weapons. Blessed is he who has learned . . .
  to enter into the sacred arsenal,
  to put on the breastplate and the helmet, and
  to lay his hand to the spear and to the sword!

The promises of God are a spiritual pharmacy, in which the believer will find all kinds of restoratives and blessed elixirs. There is . . .
  an ointment for every wound,
  a cordial for every faintness,
  a remedy for every disease.
Blessed is he who is well skilled in heavenly pharmacy and knows how to lay hold on the healing virtues of the promises of God!

The promises are a spiritual storehouse of food to the Christian. They are as the granaries which Joseph built in Egypt, or as the golden pot wherein the manna was preserved. Blessed is he who can take the five barley loaves and fishes of promise, and break them until his five thousand necessities shall all be supplied, and he is able to gather up baskets full of fragments.

The promises are the Christian's Magna Carta of blessings; they are the title deeds of his heavenly estate! Happy is he who knows how to read them well and call them all his own.

Yes, they are the jewel room in which the Christian's crown treasures are preserved. The regalia are his, secretly to admire today—which he shall openly wear in Paradise hereafter! He is already privileged as a king with the silver key that unlocks the strong room; he may even now grasp the scepter, wear the crown, and put the imperial mantle upon his shoulders!

O, how unutterably rich are the promises of our faithful, covenant-keeping God! If we had the tongue of the mightiest of orators, and if that tongue could be touched with a live coal from off the altar—yet still it could not utter a tenth of the praises of the exceeding great and precious promises of God. Nay, those who have entered into Heavenly rest, whose tongues are attuned to the lofty and rapturous eloquence of cherubim and seraphim—even they can never tell the height and depth, the length and breadth of the unsearchable riches of Christ, which are stored up in the treasure house of God—the promises of the covenant of His grace!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Troubles, Troubles, Troubles!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Afflictions and Trouble" 1842)
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"Call upon Me in the day of trouble! I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me!" Psalm 50:15

Believer, in this portion of the divine word, you will discover:
   1. your present portion, trouble,
   2. your constant privilege, prayer,
   3. your future prospect, deliverance.

1. Your present portion is TROUBLE. You must expect trouble, and will certainly be deceived if you expect to escape it. Sin is the parent of trouble, and our sin-cursed earth its fruitful soil. Trouble springs up all around us, and appears in an almost infinite variety of forms.

Every connection we form,
every character we bear,
every office we fill, and
every relation we sustain,
is a fruitful source of trouble!

We shall have . . .
   trouble in mind,
   trouble in circumstances,
   trouble in body,
   trouble from almost every quarter!

This poor world is not our rest, for it is polluted!

This poor world is not our home, for we are poor pilgrims!

This poor world is not our country, for we are strangers and aliens!

Every day has its peculiar troubles. Often when we look for a certain comfort, we only find peculiar distress and vexation! Everything declares, "Happiness is not in me!" You may look on the right hand, but you will find no permanent peace; and on the left hand, disappointment awaits you. Only in Jesus is . . .
   solid peace,
   holy satisfaction, and
   permanent comfort to be found.

If we could rightly interpret the various voices around us, we would find them all saying: "Go to Jesus! Abide in Jesus! Derive all from Jesus—or be wretched, miserable, and disappointed!"

In youth, manhood, and old age, trouble and tribulation is the Christian's lot. Our God feeds us with the heritage of Jacob our father; but if we carefully read his history, we shall find some very bitter herbs grew on it:
   Joseph is lost,
   Rachel dies,
   Simeon is imprisoned,
   Benjamin must go,
   Simeon and Levi slay the Shechemites, 
   and all these things appear against him!

Just so with us, troubles and trials follow each other, at times, almost like Job's messengers treading on each other's heels, and we are almost overwhelmed! But,

2. Your constant privilege is PRAYER, to visit the throne of grace, and wait upon our God. He says, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble!" Troubles . . .
   furnish us with messages to our Father's throne,
   quicken us in our supplications, and
   oblige us to entreat His favor!

His throne of grace is always accessible, and His ear is always open; but in times of trouble, He especially invites us to draw near. He says:
Call upon Me in trouble—call for whatever you need!
Are you perplexed, then call for wisdom.
Are you weak, then call for strength.
Are you guilty, then call for pardon.
Are you miserable, then call for comfort.
Are you in darkness, then call for light.
Are you in bondage, then call for freedom and relief.

Call upon Me, for I am always on the throne of grace!

Call upon Me, for I am glad to see you!

Call upon Me, for I am ready to help you!

Call upon Me, for I wait to be gracious unto you!

Call upon Me, upon Me first—before you run to others!

Call upon Me, and you will have no occasion to go anywhere else, for I have all that you possibly can need.

Call upon Me freely, without reserve.

Call upon Me boldly, without fear.

Call upon Me importunately, without doubt!

The promise encourages us,
the invitation allures us, but
trouble impels us to call upon our God!

Our troubles are frequently the instruments the Holy Spirit employs to carry on His sacred work in our hearts. By troubles, He . . .
   empties us of self,
   weans us from the world, and
   endears Jesus and His salvation to us!

Oh, believer, make use of your privilege in every time of trouble—and fully expect what Your God has promised!

3. Your future prospect is DELIVERANCE. The prospect is opened up, "I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me!" Here God comes under engagement to deliver His calling child. Can we, then, be too confident—or expect deliverance with too much assurance? Surely not! Only let us beware lest we dictate to God as to time, means, or manner of deliverance—and then we cannot be too certain. He will deliver, and in such a way as to . . .
   put honor on your faith,
   pour confusion on your unbelief, and
   secure the glory to His blessed self!

God's delivering mercies are all brought forth on jubilee days; for the deliverances which He affords, proclaim a jubilee in the soul.

"I WILL!"—this promise is . . .
   more durable than earth,
   more stable as the pillars of Heaven,
   and as changeless as the nature of Jehovah.

"I will DELIVER!"—this is at once . . .
   the food, warrant, and plea of faith,
   the lattice through which hope directs the eye, and
   the prime argument which the soul uses before God.

"I will deliver YOU!"—this is the laying of God's hand on His needy child.

My poor brother, are you in trouble? Are you calling upon God? The Lord says, "I will deliver YOU!" You are the person God had in His eye and in His heart, when he caused this precious portion to be penned. Take up the language, and say, "He will deliver ME!" And you, being delivered, proving God to be faithful, realizing the power of prayer, and enjoying delivering mercy—shall, though Satan will try to hinder, and unbelief would gladly shut your mouth—you shall glorify Me!

How truly blessed, how pleasant, how satisfactory is this! Every believer must say: "It is just as I would have it! I get all the mercy, and God gets all the glory!"

Brethren in Jesus . . .
   expect your portion, troubles,
   prize your privilege, prayer, and
   look forward to your prospect, deliverance!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

It is not because He needs them!

(Charles Spurgeon, "A Good Start!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"God is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything; because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else!" Acts 17:25

Let no man imagine that God needs any of us. He was perfect—perfectly happy and perfectly glorious, long before wing of angel moved in space, or time even existed! God ever was and still is self-contained and all-sufficient. If He chooses to make any creatures, or to preserve or use any of the creatures He has formed—it is not because He needs them, or is in the least degree dependent upon them.

"Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales! He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before Him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by Him as worthless and less than nothing! To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare Him to?" Isaiah 40:15-18

"Do you not know?
 Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught, and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing!" Isaiah 40:21-23

"I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills! I know every bird in the mountains; and the creatures of the field are Mine! If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all that is in it!" Psalm 50:9-12

"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay Him?
 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
 To Him be the glory forever! Amen." Romans 11:35-36

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Salvation is by free grace alone!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"By grace you are saved!" Ephesians 2:8

Salvation is by free grace alone! In eternity past, the Lord fixed upon the objects whom He intended to deliver from sin, Satan, and the curse—and whom He designed to raise to holiness, happiness, and honor. He assigns no reason but His sovereign good pleasure: "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion!"

He chose His people out of the vast mass, and recorded their names in the book of life. He gave them to our dear and adorable Immanuel—to be His care, charge, and bride. He appointed them to life, sonship, and conformity to Jesus—and all of free grace!

Grace scatters blessings upon millions, but never utters a curse against any. She provides salvation for her objects, but is in no sense the cause of the damnation of the rest. Her language is SAVE; but never DESTROY.

Sovereign grace, rightly viewed—embodies everything that is sweet, pleasant, charming, and delightful. It is . . .
  as free as the summer breeze,
  as pure as the sun's bright ray,
  and as pleasant as the morning light!

All who know it, love it;
all who have seen it, admire it;
and all who enjoy it, adore it!

Grace finds . . .
  a depth for our sins,
  a fountain for our needs,
  a covering for our persons, and
  a Heaven for our eternal habitation.

Oh that Heaven would coin language sufficiently grand, and furnish ideas sufficiently noble—to speak of the glories of sovereign grace, or to show forth half its praise!

Salvation, then . . .
  originates in the free grace of God,
  flows in the channel of the Redeemer's blood, and
  aims at the glorification of Jehovah in all His perfections.

Salvation was . . .
  planned in eternity,
  executed in time, and
  shall be realized and enjoyed until eternity can end!

Salvation is . . .
  divine in its contrivance, execution, and application;
  holy in its character, tendency, and design;
  and free in its bestowment and operations.

Salvation is . . .
  of God,
    by grace,
      to holiness,

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Are you not put to shame by every little bird that sits upon the bough and sings, though it has not two grains of barley in all the world?

(Charles Spurgeon, "A Good Start!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life—what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things—and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." Matthew 6:25-32

Undue anxiety is very common among the unsaved—I suppose they cannot help it. Yet Christians must help it; for the Lord's precept is plain and binding: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving-present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:6-7

Fretful anxiety is forbidden to the Christian!

It is needless. "Look at the birds of the air," said Christ: "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?" If you have a Father in Heaven to care for you—are you not put to shame by every little bird that sits upon the bough and sings, though it has not two grains of barley in all the world? God takes charge of the birds of the air, and thus they live exempt from anxious care; why do not we?

Our Lord also taught that such anxiety is useless as well as needless; for, with all our care, we cannot add a single hour to our life!

Can we do anything else by fretful care? What if the farmer deplores that there is no rain? Do his fears unstop the bottles of Heaven? Or if the merchant sighs because the wind detains his ship laden with goods—will his complainings turn the gale to another quarter?

We do not better ourselves a bit, by all our fretting and fuming. It would be infinitely wiser to do our best, and then cast our cares upon our God!

Prudence is wisdom, for it adapts means to ends.
But anxiety is folly, for it groans and worries, and accomplishes nothing!

Besides, according to our Savior, anxiety about worldly things is heathenish! "For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them!" They have no God and no providence; and therefore they try to be a providence to themselves. Let the heir of Heaven act a nobler part than the mere man of the world—who has his portion in this life, and lives without God and without hope.

Our distrust of our God is both childish and dishonoring. I was driven through the streets one day by a friend in a four-wheeled carriage, and he, being a good driver, must needs drive into narrow places, where it seemed to me that we would be crushed by the vans and omnibuses. I shrank back in my timidity, and expressed my unwise alarms so freely, that with a smile he laid the reins in my hand, and said, "If you cannot trust me, would you like to drive yourself?" From that ambition I was wholly free, and I assured him that he might drive as he liked, rather than make me the charioteer!

Surely, the great God might well put the same proposal to those who are complaining of His providence. If we cannot trust Him, could we manage better ourselves?

If we are Christians, let us believe in our God, and leave the governance of the great world to the Lord God, our heavenly Father, who will surely cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Behold your God!

(James Smith, "The Attributes of God" 1863)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

The more we have to do with man—the more his littleness, fickleness and emptiness appear.

But the more we read, think or have to do with God—the more His greatness, majesty and infinite sufficiency is discovered! He proclaims Himself, "the Great and Mighty God, the Lord Almighty is His name—great in counsel and mighty in work!" Infinity, omnipotence and eternity find a home and a center only in Him.

"His Greatness is unsearchable!" There is more in the works of His hands, than even the angels have ever discovered! There is more in the words of His mouth, than mortals ever conceived. His glory is great unto and above the heavens. "Behold your God!" Isaiah 40:9

Look at His goodness.
It runs an endless circuit supplying millions, and supporting all created existences. O how great is His goodness!

Look at His grace.
Saving innumerable multitudes from Hell;
saving them at the greatest expense, in the freest possible way;
saving them to the highest honor and greatest glory!
O the exceeding riches of His grace!

Look at His judgments.
He sweeps the ancient world with His broom of destruction!
He makes the cities of the plain into a Hell on earth!
He overthrows Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea!
He encaverns Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their households in the belly of the earth!

O if we could look into Hell, or listen for a moment at the door of the bottomless pit—how dreadful would His judgments appear! We cannot fathom them, but we must exclaim with the apostle, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"

Look at His power.
He speaks a world into existence, sustains it, supports every creature upon it—and perhaps millions of worlds beside it. All these things are alike easy for Him. Difficulty is with man—not with God. "Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the Heaven and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for You!"

Look at His wisdom.
It is infinite. Read it in creation's ponderous folio! Then turn to the glorious plan of grace. Here is a display of "the manifold wisdom of God." Angels are learning it, and we can scarcely make out its alphabet at present! But we have . . .
  God for our teacher,
  eternity for our duration, and
  Heaven for the place where we shall fully learn the greatness of the wisdom of God.

Look at His holiness.
It is so bright that no mortal eye has seen, or can see it in its unveiled glory!
"Now we see but a poor reflection!" We have but some faint discoveries, for He is . . .
  glorious in holiness,
  fearful in praises,
  constantly doing wonders!

Look at His mercy.
It is a boundless ocean without bottom, bank or shore!
The manifestations of mercy are innumerable!
The proofs of His mercy are like mountains piled on mountains, reaching to the heavens!
The overflowing of His mercy has supplied the needs of unnumbered multitudes.

"Who is so great a God as our God?"

He is a mighty and awesome God, yet so glorious and kind that the feeblest petitioner need not fear!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I am chained to the chariot of rolling time!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Swiftness of Life!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle!" Job 7:6

"My days are but a breath!" Job 7:16

"My days are swifter than a runner; they flee away!" Job 9:25

"My days pass by like swift ships; like an eagle swooping on its prey!" Job 9:26

"Are not my days few?" Job 10:20

"My days are cut short; the grave awaits me!" Job 17:1 

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14

Let me speak to you of . . .
  the frailty of human life,
  the fleeting nature of time,
  how swiftly time passes away,
  how soon we shall all fade as the leaf, and
  how speedily the place which knows us now, shall know us no more forever.

It is a great fact, that life to the young man appears to be long.
Yet to the old man, life is ever short.
And to all men, life is really but a brief period!

Children sometimes blow bubbles, and amuse themselves thereby. Life is even as that bubble. You see it rising into the air; the child delights itself by seeing it fly about, but it is all gone in one moment! So uncertain is life!

Human life is not long. Compare it with the ages of the universe, and it becomes a span; and especially measure it by eternity, and how imperceptible does life appear! It sinks like one small drop into the ocean, and becomes as insignificant as one tiny grain of sand upon the sea-shore!

Life is swift!

Your pulses each moment beat the funeral marches to the tomb!

I am chained to the chariot of rolling time; there is no bridling the steeds, or leaping from the chariot. The wind of time bears me along, I cannot stop its motion. I am moving through time at an incalculable rate. Oh! what an idea it is, could I grasp it!

The wise man says, "For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow?" Ecclesiastes 6:12. Now what can there be less substantial than a shadow? What substance is there in a shadow? Who can lay hold thereof? You may see it, but the moment the person passes by, it is gone.

Yes, and who can grasp his life? Many men reckon upon a long existence, and think they are going to live forever; but who can calculate upon a shadow? Go, O man, who say to your soul, "Eat, drink, and be merry; I have much goods laid up for many years!" Go, and store your barn with shadows; go and pile shadows up, and say, "These are mine, and they shall never depart." But, say you, "I cannot catch a shadow!" No and you can not reckon on a year—for it is as a shadow, which soon melts away and is gone!

"My days pass by like swift ships!" 
Like a swift ship, my life must speed on its way until it reaches its haven. But where is that haven to be? Shall it be found in the land of eternal bitterness and punishment—that dreary region of the lost? Or shall it be that sweet haven of eternal peace, where not a troubling wave can ruffle the quiescent glory of my spirit?

Wherever the haven is to be, that truth is the same—we are like "the swift ships."

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~

How is it?

(James Smith, "Manna in the Wilderness" 1863)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

When we look around upon people and observe their ways, we see that there is . . .
  not a sin prohibited, but they willfully commit it;
  not a duty prescribed, but they cheerfully neglect it;
  not a mercy bestowed, but they wickedly abuse it;
  not an attribute of God's nature discovered, but they daringly insult it;
and that they have altogether become abominable, filthy, and condemned!

We ask, "How is it that the all-knowing, righteous and omnipotent Jehovah, bears with such daring, hardened, impenitent, and rebellious creatures; and instead of cutting them off, and consigning them to misery and despair—still supplies their needs, and continues His bounties?"

The answer is, that God appeared in human nature, to save His people from their sins! He labored, and suffered, and died, the just for the unjust—to bring us to God with honor, and to Heaven with certainty. Jesus has . . .
  made an infinite atonement;
  completely paid His people's debt;
  blotted out the handwriting that was against them;
  overcome the world;
  spoiled principalities and powers;
  opened the way into the holiest by His blood;
  procured the Holy Spirit to be the quickener, sanctifier, and teacher of His people;
  and ascended to Heaven, to plead their cause and silence their accusers!

The Holy Spirit comes in the name of Jesus, to honor His work by calling His people, "out of darkness into His marvelous light."
Under His quickening, they live;
by His teaching, they become wise unto salvation;
through His operations, they are washed, sanctified, and justified.
He makes them His temples, and fits them to be the dwelling place of the Father and the Son. He . . .
  exalts Christ before them,
  honors Christ in them, and
  endears Christ unto them!
"Unto you therefore who believe, He is precious!"

Thus the Father draws the plan of salvation,
the Son executes it, and
the Holy Spirit applies it.

The Father chooses His people,
the Son dies for their redemption,
and the Spirit sanctifies and fits them for Heaven.

The Father gives them to His Son,
the Son ransoms them at an infinite price, and
the Holy Spirit claims them as personal property.

The Father employs His wisdom,
the Son sheds His blood, and
the Holy Spirit exerts His power.

The Father draws them,
the Son receives them, and
the Holy Spirit leads them into truth.

The work of salvation is wholly of God!

It is entirely of free and sovereign grace!

So also, our many deliverances as we travel through this 'wilderness', are of the Lord. He delivers us . . .
  from guilt,
  from fear,
  from Satan,
  from the world, and
  from the power of sin!

His eye is upon us for good,
His heart beats towards us with love, and
His hand is stretched out to help, relieve and befriend us!

He saves by . . .
  His wisdom,
  His power,
  His providence,
  and His graces!

For we are saved . . .
  from despondency and despair, by hope;
  from the world and the fiery darts of Satan, by faith;
  from indifference and carnal security, by love.

"Salvation is of the Lord!" Jonah 2:9

He is the author, worker, applier, and end of our Salvation!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Restless Bed!

(James Smith, "Food for Hungry Souls")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

What is sown now, will be reaped in eternity.

Eternal life is the free gift of a gracious God.

Eternal punishment is the just wages of eternal sin.

We deserve Hell now, but we may escape it by fleeing to Jesus. If we refuse to do so, then we can only expect to reap the fruit of our folly.

Heaven is the gift of God's grace; but Hell is the wages of sin.

Every sinner makes his own Hell. In this light, let us look at the words of the Psalmist, "If I make my bed in Hell." Psalm 139:8



WHAT is Hell?

Hell is the prison in which the prisoners of God's justice are confined.

Hell is where punishment is inflicted on all who die at enmity with God.

Hell is the place where Satan acts the part of the chief tormentor.

Hell is the place where conscience armed with terrible power—torments the guilty soul.

Hell is the place where reflection aided by a strong and tenacious memory—afflicts without mercy or cessation.

Hell is the place where God frowns justly and eternally on the naked soul.

Hell is the place where everything is calculated to . . .
  satiate with terror,
  fill with agony, and
  torture with pain, exist.

While everything calculated to inspire hope, give pleasure, or impart relief—is excluded forever.

WHO is in Hell?

Satan and his demons—all those foul, wicked, and degraded spirits, who are filled with envy, malice, and enmity against God and man.

All unrepentant sinners—of all classes, creeds, places, and periods.

All who have . . .
  stained the world with their crimes,
  afflicted others with their cruelties, and
  degraded themselves by their vices.

All the lowest, vilest, and basest of the human race!

God is there too—in His glorious majesty, almighty power, impartial justice, and awesome holiness! O how it will aggravate the sufferings of the lost, to have God's eye always fixed upon them, and the justice, holiness, and majesty of God ever shining before them!

WHAT is in Hell?

Justice with its flaming sword, is there.

Memory stored with the whole history of one's life, is there.

The worm that gnaws the vitals of the soul but never dies, is there.

The fire that cannot be quenched, which tortures but never destroys our nature, is there.

But there is no Bible there.

There is no gospel with its joyful sound.

There is no gentle, loving Savior.

There is no loving friend or dear relation.

There is nothing to lessen or alleviate suffering!

Hell concentrates in itself—all the elements of misery, degradation, wretchedness and woe!


THE REST. "My bed." "If I make my bed in Hell."
in Hell? A bed in Hell? What kind of a bed could that be?

A bed composed of the thorns of bitter reflection.

A bed made up of the terrible inflictions of incensed justice.

A bed embracing . . .
  the horrors of a guilty conscience,
  the blackness and darkness of despair,
  the ceaseless outpouring of the vials of the wrath of God!

This bed is . . .
  ever heaving, like the restless ocean;
  ever sinking, like a millstone in the bottomless depths;
  ever burning, like a lake of liquid brimstone; and
  ever inflicting torments, beyond description or conception.

"MY bed," the bed I procured by a life of sin.

"MY bed," the bed I deserve for rejecting the Savior, and neglecting the great salvation.

"MY bed," the bed awarded me by a just and holy God.

My OWN bed,
  the only bed I can claim;
  the only bed I can expect;
  that bed for which I labored; and
  which is the righteous wages of my sin.

My OWN bed—the only bed I shall have forever!

My OWN bed, on which there can be no rest day nor night. Ever wakeful, ever weary, ever cursing and condemning myself—here on my infernal bed, I am doomed, and justly doomed to lie forever!


THE EMPLOYMENT. "If I make my bed in Hell." Every man makes his own bed, and on the bed he makes for himself, he must forever lie.

What are sinners on earth doing? Making their bed in Hell!

Drunkard, you are making your bed in Hell—and a terrible bed it will be!

Dishonest man, by your tricks in trade, and various dishonest practices—you are making your bed in Hell, and an awful bed it will be!

Liar, by your falsehoods and deception—you are making your bed in Hell, and a liar's bed will burn with brimstone and with fire!

Profane swearer—you also are preparing for yourself, a dreadful couch!

Promiscuous man—the lusts you indulge now, will entwine about your soul like serpents, and sting and poison you, on your bed in Hell forever!

Hypocrite, pretending to be religious, when you know that you are not; I suppose few will have a more racking or torturing bed to lie on forever, than you will!

Careless sinner, you are making your bed in Hell—and you will perhaps repent of it when it is too late.

Trifling professor, worldly-minded church member—you too are making your bed in Hell, and it is to be feared that many will go from the church of God on earth, to be tormented forever on a bed in Hell!

There is a Hell, an eternal Hell. Justice provided it originally for the devil and his demons, but there is room in it for rebellious men; and if they die impenitent, they will be forever doomed to it!

No one will have a place in Hell, who does not richly merit and deserve it. Hell is just wages, for present sinful work. "The wages of sin is death"—eternal death. O terrible thought, to be working so hard on earth, only to receive the wages of eternal punishment in Hell!

"If I make my bed in Hell."

Young man, what if you should make your bed in Hell? It will be your own act and deed.

Young woman, what if you should make your bed in Hell? And you may, for the dance, the ball-room, pride of dress, and neglect of God, without any grosser vices—will be sufficient to prepare for you a bed in Hell!

Aged man, what if you should make your bed in Hell?
What a dreadful close, to a long and trying life on earth.

Aged woman, is it possible that you should make your bed in Hell? It is—and more than possible!

Religious man, what if you should make your bed in Hell? What if after all your prayers, sacraments, and contributions to religious societies—your bed should be in Hell! And it will, if you are not found in Christ!

It does not matter, whether young or old; whether professor or profane,
  unless you are washed in the blood of Jesus;
  unless you are sanctified by the Spirit of God;
  unless you are reconciled to God by the death of His Son
—you will certainly make your bed in Hell.

Look well to it, then, I beseech you, that you have saving faith in Christ, and that you are regenerated by the Holy Spirit; for without true holiness, no one can see the Lord. Without holiness, you will certainly make your bed in Hell!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Do not mistake the lessons learned at your mother's knee, for the teachings of the Holy Spirit!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Joash and his friend Jehoiada")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, all the years of Jehoiada the priest." 2 Chronicles 24:2

After the six years living in the house of God, Joash had a grand start in life with everything to his advantage. Alas, alas, alas, that with such a bright beginning, he should come to such a wretched end!

Notice also that, being thus well-started, "Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, all the years of Jehoiada the priest." While that godly priest lived, the king was under his influence; he consulted him in every matter of importance. He was plastic under Jehoiada's hand, and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord; not only that which was right in the sight of godly people. His life seems to have been at least outwardly obedient to the law of Jehovah, and he yielded himself up, apparently, at any rate, to be a loyal servant of the great King; and that he did, not for a short time only, but all the years in which Jehoiada lived.

But Joash buried all his religion in Jehoiada's grave!
The graven images which he had broken down, were set up again.
The Asherah poles which he had cut down, were worshiped again.
And he who seemed so zealous a servant of Jehovah—had now become a worshiper of the foul idols, and bowed before the accursed Baals. Oh, sad, sad, sad!

There was a lack of godly principle in Joash, and it is of this that I want to warn all.
Do not be satisfied with the practice of piety, without the principles of piety.
It is not enough to have a correct creed, you must have a renewed heart.

It is not sufficient to have an ornate ritual, you must have a holy heart and life.
If this change is not wrought in you by the Holy Spirit, you who yield so readily to godly parents, will yield just as quickly to evil companions when on your own out in the world.

Well, now, have we not known men and women, whose lives have been under the benignant influence of some kind father or mother, and they have done what was right year after year—as long as their godly parents lived? They have been diligent in going up to God's house, apparently devout in Bible-reading and prayer, willing to assist in work in the church and all sorts of service for the Lord, and leading outwardly most useful, admirable lives—all the time that these nobler influences were over them.

More than this, Joash was zealous for the externals of religion, "Joash decided to repair and restore the Temple of the Lord." Yes, and there are some whose hearts are not right towards God, who nevertheless are very zealous about the externals of divine worship. It is a much easier thing to build a temple for God, than it is be a temple for God. Just so, it is a much more common thing for people to show zeal in repairing churches, than in reforming their own lives.

Likewise, there are many who, trained up in the ways of the Lord—are indefatigable in rendering some external service to the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ. They would give to the building of a church; they would work hard to construct it, and so forth. But, alas, you may give, and you may work, and you may attend to all the externals of religion—and yet have no part nor lot in the matter!

All this while, Joash influenced other people for good. As king, he kept back the nation from the worship of idols. As king, he threw the cloak of his patronage over those who worshiped Jehovah; and things seemed to go well for years, "all the days of Jehoiada the priest." As long as Jehoiada lived, Joash seemed to be all that he should be!

All that Joash had done, was to give his heart to Jehoiada—not to Jehovah. It is very easy to be outwardly religious, by giving your heart to your mother or your father, or some godly person who helps you to do what is right. But God says, "My son, give Me your heart." If your religion is taken up to please any creature, it is not the religion which pleases the Creator. Your homage is due, not to anyone here below—but to Him who sits in the heavens, whose kingdom rules over all.

This yielding to godly influences may exist without any personal, vital godliness whatever! You may meet with God's people—and yet not be one of God's people. A young man may yield to his mother's advice—and yet never be really repentant on account of sin. He may listen to his father's word and pay respect to the externals of his father's religion, but yet never have sincerely believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is so easy to have been under religious influence from our youth up, and then to go on, year after year, never having raised the question whether we are true Christians or not!

Many young people are like Joash: sinful human nature is held in check for a while—not the Spirit of God creating a new life, and infusing a new character into the soul.

Do not imagine that natural religion is spiritual religion. Do not mistake the lessons learned at your mother's knee, for the teachings of the Holy Spirit! Though you were raised under the most hallowed influences, you only need an opportunity, a temptation, a peculiar stress laid upon you—and you will go off where the old nature carries you, and you will find out for yourself, and to the horror of others, that all your early religious training had effected nothing!

Oh, if I could tell some of you what will become of you—you would be so angry with me! If I could prophesy to some good young fellow, I mean, outwardly good as Joash was at first, but without a new heart, without the grace of God in his soul; if I could prophesy to him what a monster he will become, he would spit in my face in indignation that I should dare to foretell such a thing!

Yet there is not a man or woman who is safe from the most abominable sin, until they sincerely yield themselves to Christ. There is not one who is sure that the deepest damnation of Hell will not be their portion, unless they sincerely come and commit their soul into the hands of Jesus!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

View Him yonder!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Sweet Uses of Adversity")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"They will look on Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son!" Zechariah 12:10

View Him yonder
, sinner—sweating in the garden.
See the ruby drops of blood as they fall from that dear visage!

Oh, see Him sinner—see Him in Pilate's hall.
View the streams of gore as they gush from those lacerated shoulders!

See Him, sinner—see Him on His cross!

View that holy head still marked with the wounds with which the thorns pierced His sacred temples!

Oh, view that pure face, emaciated and marred!

See the vile spittle still hanging there—the spittle of cruel mockers!

View those loving eyes floating in tears with languid pity!

Look, too, at those kind hands, and view them as they stream like fountains of blood!

Oh, stand and listen while He cries, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46

"A bleeding Savior I have viewed, and now I hate my sins!" John Newton

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

   ~  ~  ~  ~

God leading His people through the wilderness

(James Smith, "Food for Hungry Souls")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Give thanks to Him who led His people through the wilderness, for His mercy endures forever!" Psalm 136:16

How much we have to be thankful for. Everything short of Hell, is mercy!

Those whom He has chosen for His own, and eternally set apart for His praise.
Those whom He has redeemed from the claims of justice, by His blood.
Those whom He has called out of the world, and consecrated to His service.
Those with whom He has entered into covenant, saying, "I will be your God, and you shall be My people!"
They are His own—in the highest, holiest, and most blessed sense.

THEIR PILGRIMAGE. They are brought into a wilderness. That is, the world becomes a wilderness to them, in consequence of His precious work within them. They have to pass through the wilderness, where they experience spiritual hunger and thirst, and are often sighing for suitable supplies. Nor hunger only, but spiritual weariness—for they have little rest or repose. Many foes meet them, oppose them, and come into conflict with them. Dangers in every direction surround them, and many painful privations are felt by them. These and other things discourage them. But it is the way to the Promised Land!

Egypt has been left,
the wilderness is now being journeyed,
and Canaan with all its glory is before us!

THE MANNER OF GOD'S GUIDING. The Lord leads us by His servants, by His providence, and by His Word. He leads us . . .
  like a faithful shepherd leads a flock—with care, watchfulness, and wisdom;
  like a kind parent leads a little child—with gentle attention and love;
  like a mother eagle, who teaches her young to fly—watches it if there is the least danger, and darts beneath it and carries it on her wings;
  like only a God could—whose patience, love, and grace, are as constant as the day!

Thus the Lord leads us; never taking His eye off us, or remitting His care at any time for one moment.

THE CAUSE OF GOD'S ATTENTIVE LEADING. "His mercy endures forever!"

His mercy fixed upon them, and chose them for His own.

His mercy took charge of them, to conduct them to the promised land.

His mercy continued with them, through the whole of the long, tedious, and trying journey.

His mercy was glorified in them, in its constancy and power to supply.

In His mercy, He led them . . .
  to try them,
  to prove them,
  to humble them,
  to teach them, and
  to do them the greatest good.

The Lord always makes the world, to be a wilderness to His people. They cannot feel at home in it, nor will it yield them suitable or sufficient supplies. In the wilderness, they learn His ways. They learn . . .
  to trust in Him,
  to look to Him, and
  to expect everything from Him.
In the wilderness, He becomes everything to them!

In the wilderness, He prepares them for 'Canaan'. He . . .
   weans them from the world,
   empties them of self, and
   shows them the insufficiency of all creatures!

All who follow the Lord as their leader, arrive safely in their heavenly home. He does not lead them by the shortest way, nor by the easiest way—but He leads them in the right way, which is the best way. Following Him, they . . .
   escape dangers,
   find supplies,
   master difficulties,
   overcome their foes, and
   arrive with certainty at their journey's end!

Reader, what is the world to you? Is it a home—or a wilderness?
What are you in the world? Are you a resident—or a stranger and a pilgrim?
Is God leading you through it—or are you making your home in it?

If God is leading you through the wilderness, then do not be surprised if you meet with changes, trials, difficulties, and troubles; they are wilderness fare.

If you can make your home in the wilderness, then do not be surprised if you are excluded from the 'Promised Land'. For only those whom God leads through the wilderness, ever arrive safely there!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The wonders of His providence!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Esther Defeats her Enemies")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's  purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

"A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" Proverbs 20:24

Do not judge divine providence in little pieces; it is a grand mosaic, and must be seen as a whole.

The Lord's wisdom is seen in arranging the smallest events so as to produce great results. We frequently hear people say of a pleasant or a great event, "What a providence! This is the finger of God!"—while they are silent as to anything which appears less important, or has an unpleasant savor.

But the place of the flower upon the hillside, is as fixed as the station of a king! And the dust which is raised by a cart-wheel, is as surely steered by divine providence as the planet in its orbit!

There is as much providence in the creeping of an insect upon a rose leaf, as in the marching of an army to ravage a continent!

Everything, the most minute, as well as the most magnificent—is ordered by the Lord who has prepared His throne in the heavens, whose kingdom rules over all!

Whatever the event may be, the attentive eye will as clearly see the Lord's providential hand.

I am sure that God is in the world; yes, and is at my own fireside, and in my chamber, and manages my affairs, and orders all things for me, and for each one of His redeemed children. We need no miracles to convince us of His working, the wonders of His providence are as great marvels as miracles themselves.

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

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Delight in God!

(James Smith, "Delight in God!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart!" Psalm 37:4

Sin has taken our attention off of God, and fixed it upon ourselves and the things around us.
Grace calls our attention off of everything else, to fix it upon God. It directs us to . . .
to the Lord,
  come to the Lord,
  trust in the Lord,
  wait on the Lord,
  hope in the Lord, and
  even delight in the Lord.

"Delight yourself in the Lord." Take delight, not in health, or wealth, or position, or friends, or in anything that is changeable—but in the unchangeable Lord.

Delight yourself in His glorious character—as gracious, merciful, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.

Delight yourself in Him, as . . .
  the father of the fatherless,
  the friend of the friendless,
  the hope of the wretched,
  and the Savior of the lost.

Delight yourself in His gracious covenant, which . . .
  anticipates your needs,
  provides for your needs,
  limits your trials, and
  provides strength for the day, as every day's work requires.

Delight yourself in His paternal relation.
He is not only your God, but your Father!
  He cares for you, with a father's care!
  He loves you, with a father's love!
  He pities you, with a father's pity!
  He will receive you to Heaven, as to your father's house!

Delight yourself in His precious promises.
They are but drops from His ocean of love!
They are intended to . . .
  show His love,
  display His grace,
  manifest His care,
  draw out your confidence,
  banish your fear, and
  assure you of all necessary supplies.

Delight yourself in His special providence.
A providence that . . .
  marks your steps,
  directs your paths,
  measures your troubles,
  bounds the rage of your enemies,
  numbers the very hairs of your head, and
  makes all things work together for your good!

God in His providence, superintends all your affairs, even the most minute—so that nothing can happen to you by 'chance', or inadvertently do you harm!

Delight in creatures—only produces disappointment, dissatisfaction, and discomfort.
Delight in God—insures satisfaction, comfort, and certainty.

To delight in God, is only to prefer . . .
  the ever-flowing fountain—to the shallow stream;
  the glorious sun—to the dim candle!

    ~  ~  ~  ~

The infinite tenderness of Jesus! 

(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." Isaiah 40:11

Who is He of whom such gracious words are spoken? He is the Good Shepherd.

Why does He carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart? Because He has a tender heart, and any weakness in them at once melts His heart. The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the little ones of His flock—draw forth His compassion. It is His office, as a faithful High Priest, to consider the weak. Besides, He purchased them with blood—they are His property. He must and will care for those who cost Him so dear.

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

Then, He is responsible for each lamb, bound by covenant engagements not to lose one. Moreover, they are all a part of His glory and reward.

But how may we understand the expression, "He will carry them"?

   Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much trial. Providence deals tenderly with them.

   Often they are carried by being filled with an unusual degree of love, so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep—they have great sweetness in what they do know.

   Frequently He carries them by giving them a very simple faith—which takes the promises just as they stand, and believingly runs with every trouble straight to Jesus! The simplicity of their faith gives them an unusual degree of confidence, which carries them above the world.

"He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart!"

Here is boundless affection. Would He hold them close to His heart, if He did not love them much?

Here is tender nearness. So near are they, that they could not possibly be nearer.

Here is hallowed familiarity. Here are precious love-passages between Christ and His weak ones.

Here is perfect safety. In His bosom who can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

Here is perfect rest and sweetest comfort. Surely we are not sufficiently sensible of the infinite tenderness of Jesus!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Whose slave are you?

(James Smith, "Whose Slave Are You?")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

There are two distinct classes of slaves in the world, and it is important to know to which we belong. The apostle teaches us how to do this when he says, "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey; whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death; or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" Romans 6:16

Who is your Master? There are but two great masters in the world, and we all serve one or the other. Who then, is your master?

Is it SATAN? If so, then sin is your service. You neglect what God requires, and you do what God forbids. You . . .
  indulge the lusts of the flesh,
  enjoy the lust of the eye,
  and walk in the pride of life.

If so, then the world is your home! Only give you enough of the world, and health and opportunity to enjoy it—and you need no more! You would rather have your portion in Paris, than in Paradise!

If so, then Hell will be your wages! For the wages of sin is death. If you obey Satan, you love sin and live in its indulgence. You follow the multitude in the broad road that leads to destruction. You yield to the flesh, and allow it to tyrannize over your conscience and affections.

If you obey SATAN, then you are his slaves.
He works in you.
He rules over you.
He leads you captive at his will.
You know nothing of liberty, but are tied and bound by the fetters of sin, and chained with unbelief. You are the property of the devil. He dwells in you. He lays claim to you. He often appoints you to the most degrading services. You are his companion, gladly walking with him in the broad way to eternal destruction. You are Satan's child, and to you the language of Jesus may be applied, "You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do!"

Whose slave are you? Christ's or Satan's? To belong to both at the same time is impossible. Therefore Jesus said, "You cannot serve both God and mammon."

Who has our heart?
What engages our thoughts most?
Whom do we habitually aim to please?
If Jesus is our master, then . . .
  He will have our affections,
  around Him our thoughts will gather, and
  our great aim and desire will be to please Him.

Let us then prove to whom we belong.
Mere profession proves nothing, but obedience does.

If the will of Jesus is our law,
if the precepts of Jesus are our rule,
if the smile of Jesus is highly prized by us, and
if the approbation of Jesus is sought before anything else
—then there can be little doubt, but that Jesus is our master!

How much then, depends on the question, "Who is your master?"
How plain is the answer, "You are slaves to the one whom you obey."

All the slaves of Satan, will at last be commanded to depart from the Savior, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his demons!

All the slaves of Jesus, will be invited by the all-glorious King to accompany Him, and take possession of the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.

Do not wonder then, that we press home the question, "Whose slave are you?"

"Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey; whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death; or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?" Romans 6:16

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Chance is a base heathenish idea!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Sick Man Left Behind!"1880)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"But Trophimus have I left at Miletus sick." 2 Timothy 4:20

From the fact that Paul left Trophimus at Miletus sick, we learn that it is the will of God that some holy men should be sick. Whatever the malady may have been which affected Trophimus, Paul could certainly have healed him if God had permitted him. Paul had raised up Eutychus from death, and he had given the use of his limbs to the cripple at Lystra.

Not so, however, had the Lord willed; the good fruit-bearing vine must be pruned, and Trophimus must suffer. There were holy ends to be answered by his sickness, which could not be compassed by his health. Instantaneous restoration could have been given, but it was withheld under divine direction.

This doctrine leads us away from the vain idea of chance. We are not wounded by arrows shot at a venture, but we smart by the determinate counsel of the God of Heaven. An overruling hand is everywhere present, preventing or permitting affliction. No one shaft of disease is ever let fly by stealth, from the bow of death. It was a wise providence which selected Trophimus to be sick.

We cannot always see the hand of God in providence, but we may be always sure that it is there. If not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father, then surely not a child of the divine family is laid low without His sacred will. Chance is a base heathenish idea, which cannot live in the presence of an everywhere present, living, and working God. Away with it from every Christian mind! It is alike dishonoring to the Lord, and grievous to ourselves!

Also, we may not think a shade the less of Trophimus because he is sick at Miletus; he is probably a far better man than any of us, and perhaps for that very reason he is more tried.
There is gold in him, which pays for putting into the crucible;
he bears such rich fruit, that he is worth pruning;
he is a diamond of so pure, that he will repay the lapidary's toil.

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

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Look upon me!

(James Smith, "Food for Hungry Souls")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

Humble hearts prize small mercies, and in their prayers they often ask for very simple things. A word or a look from God, or a ray of light from their heavenly Father's loving countenance—is at times, all that they can venture upon asking. It was a sweet prayer presented by the Psalmist, when he cried, "Look upon me, and have mercy on me—as You always do to those who love Your name." Psalm 119:132

The Lord has looked upon His people . . .
  in their natural state, and pitied them;
  when under conviction of sin, and pardoned them;
  when in sadness and sorrow, and comforted them;
  when in confusion and perplexity, and directed them;
  when in trouble and trial, and delivered them;
  when in need, and supplied them;
  when in danger, and shielded them;
  when passing along the last stage of their journey at death, and received them!

Yes, the eye of the Lord has ever been on His people,
His hand has been open to supply them, and
His heart has rejoiced over them, to do them good.

"Look upon me!"
 Look, and have mercy, for I am sorely tried.
 Look, and sympathize with me, for I am greatly troubled.
 Look, and strengthen me, for I am very feeble.
 Look, and encourage me, for I am full of fears.
 Look, and be a Father unto me, for I long to be treated as one of Your children.
 Look upon me, as you did on Peter—and break my heart, for I have sinned.
 Look upon me, as you did on Gideon—and give me courage, for like him, I am timid and very fearful.
 Look upon me, as you did on Israel—and deliver me, for I also am in difficulty and danger.

It is God's custom to look upon, and  to deal tenderly and graciously with those who love His name; therefore we may plead with Him to deal mercifully with us.
We are brought to where we need mercy;
then we prize mercy;
then we cry for mercy.
Then the Lord looks upon us; and then we receive mercy!

Beloved, do you ever pray thus? Are you satisfied with the portion of God's poor and afflicted people? The poorest saint, is better off than the richest sinner! The most afflicted believer, is happier than the healthiest and most prosperous unbeliever. One merciful look from the Lord, will turn . . .
  a prison, into a palace;
  a dungeon, into a paradise; and
  a chamber of sickness, into the vestibule of Heaven!

Oh may we gaze upon Your cross,
Until the wondrous sight
Makes earthly treasures seem but dross,
And earthly sorrows light!


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