Grace Gems for APRIL, 2023

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He never takes His eyes off them!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

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"I am the Good Shepherd;
 I know My sheep, and My sheep know Me.
 I lay down My life for My sheep!" John 10:14-15

Jesus is the loving Shepherd of His chosen flock.
He knows His sheep, and loves them too. He knows . . .
  their names,
  their persons,
  their abodes,
  their needs,
  their enemies,
  and their desires.
Their names are engraved on His heart, and on the palms of His hands. He came into the world that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. He gave His life as a ransom price for them. He says, "I lay down My life for My sheep."

He gathers them by His Gospel and Spirit, and feeds and enfolds them in little flocks below. He gathers the lambs with His arm and carries them in His bosom, and gently leads those that are with young. He feeds them in green pastures, and causes them to lie down beside the still waters. He protects them from the roaring lion, the raging bear, and the devouring wolf! He says, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!"

Jesus . . .
restores them when they wander;
heals them when they are sick;
cleanses them when they are filthy;
changes their pasture whenever they need it;
watches over them every moment; and
guards them day and night, so that no one may harm them.

He leads them, and they follow Him . . .
  knowing His voice,
  loving His person, and
  obeying His commands.

He is now engaged in preparing pasture for them above—where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary shall forever rest! He will come again and receive them unto Himself—that where He is, His sheep may be also.

He loves them too well to forget them, and is too concerned for them to neglect them. He never takes His eyes off them! This tender Shepherd listens to the bleating of the feeblest of His lambs, and sympathizes with the weakest of His flock. He has promised to feed them, and lead them to fountains of living waters, and to cause sorrow and sighing to flee away forever. His presence shall be with them, when they pass through the dark valley of the Shadow of Death, and His rod and His crook shall comfort them.

His strength shall be made perfect in the weakness of His lambs,
His wisdom shall shine in the way He conducts them, and
His love will be displayed in every part of His conduct towards them!

Lambs of Jesus! Listen to your Shepherd's voice, keep close to your Shepherd's side, and aim to honor your dear Shepherd's name!

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My jewels! 

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

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"They shall be Mine, says the Lord Almighty, in the day when I make up My jewels!" Malachi 3:17

Jewels are costly and are highly valued by their owners.

We, though worthless in ourselves, cost our adorable Savior an immense price! To procure our release, to purchase our freedom—He left His Father's bosom, came into our world, labored, suffered, bled, and died! He gave Himself for us! We are bought at a very high price! We are His purchased possession: intended to deck His mediatorial crown, to reflect His praise, and to shine to His glory for evermore!

He highly values us. "Since you were precious in My sight!" He says. We are valued not according to our intrinsic excellence, but according to His estimation of us.

For our safety, He employs . . .
  His watchful eye,
  His powerful arm,
  His numerous angelic hosts!

For our security and preservation—He arranges, directs, and controls all things; so that all things work together for the best, to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.

Soon we shall shine as the gemstones of His crown!

How strange, that He should value us so highly! That He should compare us to all that is beautiful, desirable, or costly in nature! But He really does so!

We are not only His subjects, His friends, His children, His brethren, His bride; but His ornaments, His jewels!

Men may despise us, our Savior will not!

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Son, you are ever with Me, and all I have is yours!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

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Jesus has revealed Himself as a Father to His people. Having begotten them again unto a living hope—He treats them as His children, and deals with them as a wise, kind, and tender parent. He cares for them, and bids them cast all their cares upon Himself. He has promised to provide for them, and encourages them to expect all necessary blessings from himself. They occupy His attention, and engage His mind every moment! He dwells among them and calls them His dear children. He expresses Himself most tenderly, and acts most wisely toward them. He . . .
  corrects their errors,
  instructs their minds,
  feeds their souls,
  and guides their feet,
but all in His own way.

No earthly father can take the interest of his children, which Jesus takes in His people; or make such provision for them, as He has made. All things pertaining to the present life are secured to them, along with a boundless inheritance beyond the grave! He bids them to enjoy what He has given to them, and offers them Himself as a constant feast. He invites them to . . .
  tell Him all their troubles, and promises deliverance;
  make known their grievances, that He may remedy them;
  make known their needs, that He may supply them.
He never allows them to be out of His sight, nor out of his mind. The language of the prodigal's father to his elder son may be applied to them, "Son, you are ever with Me, and all I have is yours!"

O believer, what a privilege is yours!
Jesus is not only your Friend, but your Father!
He loves you, cares for you, and provides for you as such!
Trust in Him at all times;
depend on His care when everything around distresses you;
and look to His loving heart when creatures are cruel and unkind.

He says, "I will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters! I will not leave you orphans, I will come unto you! I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on Me! Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom!"

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The predestined moment has not yet struck!

(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio! Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." Acts 18:9-10

This should be a great encouragement to evangelize, since God has . . .
  among the vilest of the vile,
  among the most reprobate,
  among the most debauched and drunken,
an elect people who must be saved!

When you take the Word to them, you do so because God has ordained you to be the messenger of life to their souls, and they must receive it, for so the decree of predestination runs. They are as much redeemed by Christ's blood, as the saints before the eternal throne! They are Christ's property, yet perhaps they are at present, lovers of the ale-house and haters of holiness. But if Jesus Christ has purchased them, He will have them.

God is not unfaithful to forget the price which His Son has paid. He will not allow His substitutionary sacrifice to be in any case an ineffectual, dead thing. Tens of thousands of redeemed ones are not regenerated yet, but regenerated they must be! This is our comfort when we go forth to them with the quickening Word of God.

Nay, more, these ungodly ones are prayed for by Christ before the throne. "My prayer is not for them alone," says the great Intercessor, "I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message." Poor, ignorant souls, they do not pray for themselves, but Jesus prays for them! Their names are on His breastplate, and before long they must bow their stubborn knee, breathing the penitential sigh before the throne of grace.

The predestined moment has not yet struck!
But when it comes, they shall obey, for God will have His own redeemed people! They must obey, for the Spirit is not to be withstood when He comes forth with the fullness of His saving power. They must become the willing servants of the living God.

"My people shall be willing in the day of My power."

"He shall see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied."

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Afflictions are Appointed!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"He will certainly accomplish what He has decreed for me, and He has many more things like these in mind!" Job 23:14

The trials of time were appointed in eternity. He who chose us unto eternal life, also planned the path by which we are to reach it! Nothing ever happens to us by 'chance'.

Our little trials,
our great troubles,
our heavy crosses,
our painful losses,
are all a part of God's plan!

Nor did He plan afflictions for us merely haphazardly; He planned them because He saw that we needed them. He intended to make them rich blessings to us.

Every cross is a mercy,
every loss is a gain,
every trouble is a blessing,
and every trial is a seed of joy!

We shall be better in the future, for what we suffer now.
If we sow in tears, we shall reap in joy.
A wet spring will introduce a glorious harvest.
Many of our present tears will crystallize into pearls, and will be an ornament to us in glory!

And not only so, but the same love which planned our trials, also provides strength to bear them. Our choicest comforts will flow from them. Time reveals what God planned in eternity; and eternity will reveal what God had in view in all the trials of time!

Let us, then, bear our afflictions with patience, and seek grace to honor God in all that we suffer, as well as by all that we do. If we keep our eye fixed on glorifying God, He will order and arrange everything that happens to us, so that it shall work for our good. Nothing shall by any means hurt us. The darkest clouds shall bring showers of blessings; and our sharpest pains shall only introduce us to the sweetest joys!

Gracious Lord, help me not only to submit to Your appointments, but to be pleased with them—so pleased that if the turning of a straw would alter them, I would not turn it! Oh, give me grace, to rejoice in my afflictions!

"So that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them!" 1 Thessalonians 3:3

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How is it that some of us are converted?

(Charles Spurgeon LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated!'
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." Romans 9:13-16

No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind, than the truth of the absolute Sovereignty of God! Some men cannot endure to hear the doctrine of election. I suppose they like to choose their own wives, but they are not willing that Christ should select His bride, the Church!

How is it that some of us are converted, while our companions in sin are left to continue in their godless course? Was there anything good in us that moved the heart of God to save us? God forbid that we should indulge the blasphemous thought! "By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

From the Word of God I gather that damnation is all of man, from top to bottom; and that salvation is all of grace, from first to last. He who perishes, chooses to perish; but he who is saved, is saved because God has chosen to save him.

Electing love has selected some of the worst people, and made them into the best!

Whatever may be said about the doctrine of election, it is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it! To me, it is one of the sweetest and most blessed truths in the whole of Scripture. Those who are afraid of it are so, because they do not understand it. If they could but know that the Lord had chosen them, it would make their hearts dance for joy!

Do not stagger at the truth of electing love, it is one of the highest notes of heavenly music! Do not be afraid of such a verse as this, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you!" Jeremiah 31:3

God's electing love has, in many cases, selected great fools and great sinners:
"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world, to put to shame the wise;
 and God has chosen the weak things of the world, to put to shame the strong; 
 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen . . . 
 so that no one may boast before Him!" 1 Corinthians 1:29

I can never cease to be astonished that God has elected unworthy me!

Charles Spurgeon: "The sovereign electing grace of God chooses us to repentance and to faith, and afterwards to holiness of living, to Christian service, to zeal, and to devotion."

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We shall be like Him!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

We are predestined to be conformed to Christ's image. But now we groan, being burdened with sin. Now we are grieved, because . . .
  our tempers are so unlovely,
  our feelings are so carnal,
  our minds are so wandering, and
  our hearts are so depraved.

"But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him—for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2. We shall be exactly like Him—in every sentiment, feeling, and design! Then selfishness will be forever done away. There will be no more . . .
  rebellion in the will,
  hardness in the heart,
  wandering in the affections,
  guilt in the conscience, or
  blindness in the understanding;
but every faculty will be perfect in holiness, and the whole soul filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory!

We shall be like Him! Then we shall be perfect in knowledge! "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

We shall be like Him! Then we shall be perfect in love! We shall love God perfectly and supremely. We shall love all who love Christ, even as we love ourselves.

We shall be like Him! Then we shall be perfect in happiness! Every wish will be gratified, every desire fulfilled, every prayer answered.

We shall be like Him! Then we shall be glorious!
Is Jesus enthroned? We shall sit with Him on His throne!
Is Jesus crowned? He will give unto us an unfading crown of glory!

"But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him—for we shall see Him as He is!"

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Walk in the Spirit!

(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"Be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18

"Walk in the Spirit (let your steps be guided by the Spirit,) and you will not gratify the evil desires of the flesh." Galatians 5:16

Rich would the blessings of this day be, if we were filled with the Holy Spirit. The consequences of this sacred filling of the soul, would be impossible to overestimate. Life, comfort, light, purity, power, peace; and many other precious blessings are inseparable from the Spirit's gracious presence.

As sacred oil, He anoints the head of the believer, sets him apart to the priesthood of saints, and gives him grace to execute his duties aright.

As the only truly purifying water, He cleanses us from the power of sin and sanctifies us unto holiness, working in us to will and to do of the Lord's good pleasure.

As the holy light, He reveals the Lord Jesus to us, and guides us in the way of righteousness. Enlightened by His pure celestial ray, we are no longer walk in darkness, but in the light of Scripture truth.

As purifying fire, He both purges us from dross, and sets our consecrated nature ablaze. He is the sacrificial flame by which we are enabled to offer our whole souls as a living sacrifice unto God.

As heavenly dew, He removes our barrenness and nourishes our lives. O that He would drop from above upon us at this early hour! Such morning dew would be a sweet commencement for the day.

As the heavenly Dove, with wings of peaceful love, He broods over the souls of believers; and as a Comforter He dispels the cares and doubts which mar the peace of His beloved ones. He descends upon His chosen people, and bears witness to their sonship by working in them a filial spirit by which they cry Abba, Father!

As the wind, He brings the breath of spiritual life to men. He performs the quickening operations by which the spiritual creation is animated and sustained.

O that we might feel the Spirit's presence and influence this day and every day!

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"When the Spirit of the Lord breathes on us, He withers all the glory of man, which is but as the flower of grass; and then He reveals a higher and abiding glory." Spurgeon

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(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"A great multitude of the people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him." Luke 23:27

Amid the rabble crowd which hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and lamentations—fit music to accompany that march of woe!

When my soul can, in imagination, see the Savior bearing His cross to Calvary—she joins the godly women and weeps with them. For, indeed, there is true cause for my grief, cause lying deeper than those mourning women thought. They bewailed . . .
  innocence, maltreated,
  goodness, persecuted,
  love, bleeding,
  meekness, dying!

But my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn. MY SINS were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned that bleeding brow with thorns! My sins cried, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders!

His being led forth to die, is sorrow enough for one eternity; but MY having been His murderer—is more, infinitely more grief, than one poor fountain of tears can express! Those women who loved and wept, could not have had greater reasons for love and grief, than my poor heart has!

The widow of Nain saw her son restored; but I myself have been raised to newness of life!

Peter's mother-in-law was cured of the fever; but I myself have been cured of the plague of sin!

Mary Magdalene had seven devils cast out of her; but a whole legion of devils were cast out of me!

Mary and Martha were favored with visits from Jesus; but He dwells with me!

I am not behind these holy women in debt to Jesus; let me not be behind them in gratitude or sorrow.

"Love and grief my heart dividing,
 With my tears His feet I'll lave;
 Constant still in heart abiding,
 Weep for Him who died to save!"

"He was pierced for our transgressions,
 He was crushed for our iniquities;
 the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
 and by His wounds we are healed!" Isaiah 53:5

"Infinite grief! amazing woe!
 Behold my bleeding Lord!
 Hell and the Jews conspired His death,
 And used the Roman sword.

"O, the sharp pangs of smarting pain
 My dear Redeemer bore,
 When knotty whips and ragged thorns
 His sacred body tore!

"But knotty whips and ragged thorns
 In vain do I accuse;
 In vain I blame the Roman bands,
 And the more spiteful Jews.

"'Twere you, my sins, my cruel sins,
 His chief tormentors were!
 Each of my crimes became a nail,
 And unbelief the spear!

"'Twere you that pulled the vengeance down
 Upon His guiltless head;
 Break, break, my heart! O burst, mine eyes!
 And let my sorrows bleed.

"Strike, mighty grace, my flinty soul,
 Till melting waters flow,
 And deep repentance drowns my eyes,
 In sincere and bitter woe!
   Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

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My deliverer!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God.
 You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!" Psalm 70:5

How frequently are we poor Christians involved in dangers and difficulties, from which we cannot extricate ourselves! Surrounded as we are by enemies and evils, this can be no wonder. But how are we to be delivered? To whom are we to look for relief and rescue? To Jesus alone, who is emphatically "The Deliverer!"
He has power, and will exert it,
He has wisdom, and will employ it,
He has merit, and will apply it,
for the deliverance of all who call upon Him to do it.

He delivers . . .
  from sin,
  from Satan,
  from dangers,
  from damnation!

He delivers . . .
  and effectually.

He has delivered . . .
  Joseph from the evil designs of his brethren,
  David from the hand of Saul,
  Daniel from the lions, and
  multitudes in every age, from eternal Hell.

He delivers from all evils, and from the most determined foes!

David celebrated his delivering mercy when he sang, "For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling—that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living!" Psalm 116:8-9

How sweetly encouraging is this: to view Jesus as our present deliverer in every season of trouble, and in all circumstances of danger; to know that He is ready to arise for our rescue, and appear for our deliverance.

What need we to fear? Why should we indulge our gloomy apprehensions? He has already conquered every foe, and whenever He appears, all flee before His face. There is . . .
  such majesty in His countenance,
  such terror in His frown, and
  such love in His heart toward His people,
that whenever He appears on their behalf, all their enemies melt away like snow, and depart as a midnight dream!

O gracious Deliverer of Your people, deliver my soul from . . .
  the power of sin,
  the influence of the world,
  the force of temptation,
  the deceitfulness of my own heart,
  and the designs of all my foes!
Keep me by Your mighty power, through faith, unto salvation!

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!" Psalm 18:2

"He is my loving God and my fortress,
 my stronghold and my deliverer,
 my shield, in whom I take refuge,
 who subdues peoples under me!" Psalm 144:2

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Of all the volumes that were ever written—this volume, printed in crimson upon the pure lily-like flesh of Christ, is the best to read!

(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

Oh! Think of the Savior descending from the starry heights of glory, and coming down into the Virgin's womb; and then descending from that lowly manger of Bethlehem, even to the cross and to the grave—for you! Yes, for your sake He takes upon Himself the form of a servant and becomes obedient unto death, even the death of the bloody tree!

Many of the ancient saints were accustomed to spending hours in meditating upon the sacred wounds of Jesus upon Calvary's Cross; and many of the martyrs have been for days engaged in solemn meditation upon those wounded hands and feet, and that pierced side.

Oh! Sit down at the foot of the Cross, and study the wounds of Jesus! Of all the volumes that were ever written—this volume, printed in crimson upon the pure lily-like flesh of Christ, is the best to read!

If any of you doubt whether there is forgiveness with God, I ask you to stand on Calvary, in imagination, and to look into the wounds of Jesus. Gaze upon His nail-pierced hands and feet, His thorn-crowned brow, and look right into His heart where the soldier's spear was thrust!

Pardon of sin is only found in the wounds of Jesus!
Your sins were atoned for upon the accursed Cross.

Abide close to the cross, and search the mystery of His wounds. We shall only hate sin, by living more where the groans of Calvary can meet our ears, and the sight of the Savior's wounds can melt our hearts! Keep a deep sense of your indebtedness to God alive in your soul, and you will feel that you can never do enough for Him who has forgiven you so much!

There is no solid joy, no hallowed peace this side of Heaven—except by living under the shadow of the Cross, and nestling in the wounds of Jesus!

    When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.

    Forbid it Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.

    See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

    Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all!

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My Friend!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

Jesus manifests His love, as the Friend of His people. He . . .
  fills every relation to them,
  performs every kind office for them, and
  comforts them with divine consolations.

He invites them to pour their griefs into His bosom, and tell out all their troubles before Him. He holds communion with them, and indulges them to converse with Him as a man with his friend. He encourages them by assurances of His love, and fortifies them by promises of His presence. "Fear not," He says, "for I am with you! Be not dismayed, I am your God! I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!"

His power, His riches, His wisdom, and His Spirit—are devoted to their best interests, and employed for their present and everlasting welfare. He watches over them in tender love, and listens to them with compassionate concern.

He is a friend who loves at all times—a brother born for adversity. His love, in its immutability, fullness, and perfection, is the great bulwark of their safety; and His friendship, is the joy of their hearts. He sticks closer than a brother, and never will fail or forsake the soul that trusts in Him.

He performs all the kind offices of friendship . . .
  in sickness and health,
  in plenty and poverty,
  in life and death.
He has Heaven and earth at His command, as the friend of the defenseless soul.
He has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, as the companion of the ignorant and fearful.

He calls His people, friends, and presents Himself to them as their friend for their comfort, confidence, and joy.

O how the love of Jesus shines in His friendship! As our friend, He . . .
  lived in our world,
  suffered in our place,
  died in our stead,
  rose as our representative, and
  ascended to Heaven, where He continually makes intercession for us!

He acknowledges that I am an undeserving vile worm—yet calls me His friend! He knows the worst parts of my character, and yet He says, "You are mine! I have chosen you, and will not cast you away!"

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Behold the Man!

(Charles SpurgeonLISTEN to audio!  Download audio

(You will find it most helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"Behold the Man!" John 19:5

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

Come, behold the Man in the garden of Gethsemane.
Behold His heart so brimming with love, that He cannot hold it in.
Behold the bloody sweat as it distills from every pore of His body and falls upon the ground.

Behold the Man upon the bloody tree.
Stand amazed as they drive the nails into His hands and feet.
Look up and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord.
Mark Him as the ruby drops stand on the thorn crown.
Behold the Man when all His bones are out of joint, and He is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death.
God has forsaken Him, and Hell encompasses Him.

Behold and see, was there ever sorrow like His sorrow?

Gaze upon Him!

We have only to sit longer at the cruel cross, to be less troubled with our trials and woes.

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

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

If we would grow in grace, it must be by considering His humiliation and His sorrow.
If we would live holily, it must be by the contemplation of His sin-atoning death.

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There is divine wisdom in every trial, and divine love in every cross!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

Jesus is infinitely wise and immutably holy, therefore His love is a wise and holy love. He wisely manifests His love, so as to . . .
  discountenance sin,
  encourage holiness, and
  further His people in their heavenly way and work. He . . .
visits in trials,
reproves for folly,
smites for sin, and
withholds the light of His countenance, to testify His disapprobation of our ways—and yet, all this is in love!

He will not caress the believer, when he is indulging in pride, worldliness and backsliding from Him. Those whom He loves, He wisely corrects! He never spares the rod, to the spoiling of the child—but says, "I will correct you in measure, but will not leave you wholly unpunished."

His wisdom and holiness shine in every part of His works, but in none more than in His dealings with His people. Was He less wise, we might have more comfort—but it would injure us. Was He less holy, we might have fewer trials—but we would assuredly be losers. Divine love, wisdom, and holiness combined, drew the plan of the Christian's lot; and the same divine love, wisdom, and holiness, executes that plan.

All the wisdom of Deity, under the guidance of Almighty love, shines in our path, our portion and our circumstances; and when we enjoy the clear light of eternity, we shall see that this was the case. O if we really believed this now, how different would be our feelings and our practices often! How quietly would we submit to every painful dispensation of divine providence; how cheerfully would we acquiesce in every intimation of our Father's will; and how readily would we take the cup which He has prepared for us, and drink it saying, "The cup which my heavenly Father gives me, shall I not drink it?"

There is divine wisdom in every trial, and divine love in every cross!
Holiness and wisdom in Jesus, demand that our way should at times be hedged up with thorns. The infinite love of Jesus, shines in every painful discipline. He is no indulgent parent, no foolish friend, no unholy companion; He will not tempt us to evil, nor with evil; neither will He indulge us to our injury. He would rather close His ears to our cries, than His heart to our best interests. And the day is coming when we shall see that all our trials were needful, and not a trial could have been omitted, consistently with the wisdom and holiness of His love. May His love shed abroad in my heart, lead me to love, seek, and pant for holiness!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

God's most comforting attribute!

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"And 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

There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than that of God's sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe . . .
  that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions,
  that Sovereignty overrules them, and
  that Sovereignty will sanctify them all.

There is nothing for which the children of God ought more earnestly to contend, than . . .
  the doctrine of their Master ruling over all creation,
  the kingship of God over all the works of His own hand,
  the throne of God, and His right to reign upon that throne.

"Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases!" Psalm 115:3

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth." Daniel 4:35

"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Revelation 19:6

"To be God and sovereign are inseparable!" (Stephen Charnock)

"Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God.
 He is sovereign in all His attributes!" (Arthur Pink)

"God has sovereign right to dispose of us as He pleases.
 We ought to acquiesce in all that God does with us and to us." (William Carey)

   ~  ~  ~  ~

God's most hated attribute!

(Charles Spurgeon LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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"Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases!" Psalm 115:3

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

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth." Daniel 4:35

On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, as the great, stupendous—but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah!

Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne!

They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars.

They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties.

They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of Heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean.

But when God ascends His throne—then His creatures then gnash their teeth! And when we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter—then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us—for God on His throne, is not the God they love!

No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind, than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God!

Opposition to divine sovereignty is essentially atheism—and were it not for sovereign grace, none of us would ever have followed the path to Heaven. I am daily more and more convinced that the difference between one man and another, is not the difference between his use of his will—but the difference of grace that has been bestowed upon him.

"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Revelation 19:6

Stephen Charnock: "The great controversy between God and man has been, whether He or they shall be God; whether His reason or theirs, His will or theirs, shall be the guiding principle. If anything could frustrate God's will—then it would be superior to Him, God would not be omnipotent, and so would lose the perfection of the Deity, and consequently the Deity itself; for that which did wholly defeat God's will, would be more powerful than He. To be God and yet inferior to another, is a contradiction!"

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The most excellent study for expanding the soul!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Immutability of God!")  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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The proper study of God's elect, is God. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God—is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father! There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity!

Other subjects we can compass and grapple with, in them we feel a kind of self-contentment, and go our way with the thought, "Behold I am wise!" But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height—we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild donkey's colt; and with the solemn exclamation, "I am but of yesterday, and know nothing!" No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.

The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing will so magnify the whole soul of man—as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. While humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory.

Oh, there is in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound!
In musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief.
In the influence of the Holy Spirit, there is a balsam for every sore.

Would you lose your sorrows?
Would you drown your cares?
Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead's deepest sea!
Be lost in His immensity, and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated.

I know nothing which can . . .
  so comfort the soul,
  so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow,
  so speak peace to the winds of trial,
as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead!

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

Psalm 135:5-6 "I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods! The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the Heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths!"

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The aged believer's cordial!

(James Smith LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

"Hearken unto Me!
 I have cared for you since you were born.
 Yes, I carried you before you were born.
 I will be your God throughout your lifetime, until your hair is white with age.
 I made you, and I will care for you.
 I will carry you along and save you!" Isaiah 46:3-4

This passage of Scripture is the aged believer's cordial.
Let us look at the beautiful images employed.

God is our parent—a kind and tender-hearted parent. He is peculiarly attached to His people—they are dear to Him, precious in His sight. They are His portion. He prizes them above all creation. He is strong to sustain, to defend and support them. His strong arm, tender heart, and watchful eye—are all employed for them, and especially so in old age.

The aged believer is as a child. He is weak. He feels exposed and defenseless. He is timid and fearful. But the Lord, as a tender parent, engages to take him up in the arms of His power, and carry him in the bosom of His love! Like a tender lamb in the shepherd's bosom on a cold and frosty night, borne across a bleak and snow-covered wasteland—so the believer, in the winter of old age, shall be carried in the bosom of his God, across the bleak and cheerless desert of time.

God will carry him tenderly, hushing the weak one's fears.
He will bear him carefully, so that nothing shall harm or hurt him.
He will soothe him with gentle words, and encourage him with kind acts—until He safely introduces him at Home!

Dear aged Christian, you have nothing to fear! Your God says, "I will be your God throughout your lifetime, until your hair is white with age! I am your Father, your Friend, your solace, and your confidence! Look unto Me, even to old age. I will carry you. I will bear you up under all that you feel and fear. I will carry you through all that discourages or distresses you. I will deliver you from foes, fears, dangers and death itself! Nothing shall by any means hurt you! My arm is strong enough—trust in it. My bosom is your resting-place—lean on it, lean hard! Do not be afraid . . .
  love dwells there,
  pity rules there,
  your name is engraved there!
Trust me, I will never leave you nor forsake you!

"Hearken!" Believer, your God bids you to "hearken."
His words are true and faithful.
He speaks to banish your fears.
He speaks to strengthen your faith.
He speaks to comfort your poor drooping heart.
He speaks to clothe your care-worn brow, with the light of hope, with the cheerfulness which confidence imparts.

Hearken to Him, not to unbelief.
Hearken to Him, not to carnal reason.
Hearken to Him, not to Satan.
Hearken to Him, not to erroneous men.

Hearken! It is your Savior who speaks!
It is the Guide of your youth who addresses you.
It is your tender Parent who seeks to cheer your heart.

"As one whom his mother comforts", so does your God comfort you.
He is near you; near you every moment;
He will carry you; carry you every step;
He will deliver you; deliver you from every danger, trouble and foe!

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A man who hears many sermons

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

It is well to meditate upon the things of God, because it is only by pondering the Scriptures that we get the real nutriment out of them. A man who hears many sermons, is not necessarily well-instructed in the faith. We may read so many religious books that we overload our brains, and they may be unable to work under the weight of the great mass of paper and of printer's ink.

The man who reads but one book, and that book his Bible, and then meditates much upon it—will be a better scholar in Christ's school than he who merely reads hundreds of books, and does not meditate at all!

Oh, that we might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves!

As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord, not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it until we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetic expressions or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models; and what is better still, your spirit is redolent with the words of the Lord!

"Your words were found, and I devoured them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart!" Jeremiah 15:16

"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

"His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.
 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:2-3

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This is the true grace of God!

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

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"This is the true grace of God, wherein you stand." 1 Peter 5:12

The grace of God is a subject which, of all others, demands our most serious attention.

God's grace is nothing less than the free, sovereign, and eternal favor of God toward poor sinners in Christ! 2 Timothy 1:9

God's grace is manifested in the wonderful love, kindness, and condescension of our Lord and Savior: "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich!" 2 Corinthians  8:9

God's grace shines in all the doctrines of the everlasting gospel. They contain the revelation of grace, in the full, complete, and glorious salvation of the people of God.

The Father's grace appears in the CHOICE of a people to show forth His praise.
The Son's grace is revealed in the REDEMPTION of that chosen people from sin, the world, Satan, death, and Hell.
The Spirit's grace is manifest in the NEW BIRTH, sanctification, and teaching of that chosen and redeemed people.

Thus . . .
the Father chooses a people by His grace,
the Son ransoms these chosen people by His grace, and
the Spirit makes these chosen people fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, by His grace.

The Father marks the objects,
the Son delivers from wrath,
the Spirit leads to glory,
and all in richest grace!

In a Word, grace is divine favor, which . . .
  arises in God as its fountain;
  centers in Christ as its depository;
  appears in the doctrines of the gospel as in a mirror;
  flows to sinners as its objects; and
  peoples Heaven with sanctified believers as its design!

Grace is . . .
  the glory of Jehovah;
  the charm of the gospel;
  the delight of Jesus; and
  the fountain of consolation to the church.

Grace is . . .
  eternal in its existence;
  holy in its nature;
  free in its acts;
  sanctifying in its tendency;
  and glorious in its design!

But if we attend to what the Bible says of grace, we shall discover that the true grace of God is different from what man conceives. Instead of its being an enemy to holiness, grace is . . .
  the root on which holiness grows,
  the fountain from which holiness springs, and
  the principle which produces holiness in the heart.

True grace brings home the Word with power, conviction, and demonstration to the soul! Acts 14:3

True grace works faith in the hearts of poor sinners, who are said "to believe through grace!" Acts 18:27

True grace calls its objects out of a state of nature, sin, and rebellion against God; and teaches them to pray, and mourn before the Lord! Galatians 1:15; Zechariah 12:10

True grace makes obedient to the faith; and leads the soul to receive "grace upon grace" out of the fullness of Jesus! Romans 1:5; John 1:16

True grace destroys the love and dominion of sin; and leads us from the law, to the gospel! Romans 6:14

True grace brings home a sense of pardon to the soul; and imparts everlasting consolation! Ephesians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:16

True grace removes condemnation; and justifies us freely, fully, and eternally! Romans 3:24; Titus 3:7

True grace strengthens, supports, and carries the Christian through all his conflicts, tribulations, and trials! 2 Corinthians 12:9

True grace builds up and establishes its possessor in truth, in faith, and in love! Acts 20:32; Hebrews 13:9

True grace leads to holy, Scriptural, and consistent practice! Titus 2:11-15

True grace will make a man labor for God and the good of immortal souls! 1 Corinthians 15:10

True grace will regulate his lifestyle according to gospel precepts! 2 Corinthians 1:12

True grace . . .
  flows in abundance,
  saves all its objects, and
  raises them to reign in glory! Romans 5:17; Ephesians 2:6-8

True grace is always a gift of God, and is invariably free! Romans 11:6; Ephesians 4:7

The man that possesses the true grace of God, and is living under its sacred influence . . .
  mourns over his state as a sinner,
  longs for perfection as a believer, and
  cannot be perfectly happy until purged from all pollution.

He . . .
  loves God as His Father,
  cleaves to Jesus as His Friend,
  views himself as a temple of the Holy Spirit,
  hates, fears, and flies from sin,
  loves, pants for, and follows after holiness,
  worships a sovereign Jehovah,
  obeys a reigning Redeemer, and
  ascribes all his salvation to free grace!

He . . .
  depends on the Lord in his troubles,
  flies to Jesus from his foes, and
  pleads the free promises of his God.

Christ is his object,
salvation his subject, and
to glorify God is his aim!

He feels, mourns over, and prays for grace to keep down his corruptions.

He renounces self, abhors His own righteousness, and glories in the cross of Christ.

He comes out of the world, is transformed in his mind, and finds suitable associates in sanctified believers.

He lives in communion with his God, feeds on the bread of life, and dies daily.

Reader, have you been made a partaker of the true grace of God?

Opinions in the head, and grace in the heart—are very different things! Notions of grace, are not operations of grace. You may know the true grace of God by this: it brings salvation, and teaches to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.

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Just a little bit, and off you go!

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"His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:2

Do not many of you read the Bible in a very hurried way—just a little bit, and off you go! Do you not soon forget what you have read, and lose what little effect it seemed to have?

How few of you are resolved to get at its soul, its juice, its life, its essence—and to drink in its meaning. Well, if you do not do that, then your reading is miserable reading, dead reading, unprofitable reading; it is not reading at all—the name would be misapplied. May the blessed Spirit give you repentance concerning this thing.

Meditation and careful thought, exercise us and strengthen the soul for the reception of the yet more lofty truths.

We must meditate, brethren. These grapes will yield no wine until we tread upon them. These olives must be put under the wheel, and pressed again and again—that the oil may flow therefrom.

In a dish of nuts, you may know which nut has been eaten by a worm, because there is a little hole which the worm has punctured through the shell. It is just a little hole, and then inside there is the living worm eating up the kernel.

In the same way, it is a grand thing to bore through the shell of the letter of Scripture, and then to live inside feeding upon the kernel.

I would wish to be such a little worm as that—living within and upon the Word of God, having bored my way through the shell, and having reached the innermost mystery of the blessed gospel. The Word of God is always most precious to the man who most lives upon it.

Beloved, never be satisfied with a sound creed, but desire to have it engraved on the tablets of your heart.

The doctrines of grace are good, but the grace of the doctrines is better still. See that you have it, and be not content with the idea that you are well-instructed, until you so understand the doctrine that you have felt its spiritual power.

O living Christ, make this a living Word to me. Your Word is life, but not without the Holy Spirit. I may know this book of Yours from beginning to end, and repeat it all from Genesis to Revelation—and yet it may be a dead book, and I may be a dead soul!

Oh, cling to Scripture! Scripture is not Christ, but it is the silken clue which will lead you to Him. Follow its leadings faithfully.

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

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Run to your Father's arms and nestle in His bosom!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Be still, and know that I am God!" Psalm 46:10

This is God's message to His people—even during the most terrible convulsions of nature, the most cruel wars, and the most painful trials! The Lord reigns and works, even in the most dreadful circumstances.

The Lord is constantly doing His will, and accomplishing His purposes, and He never forgets His promises.

Be childlike. Run to your Father's arms and nestle in His bosom!
Realize safety in your Father's love and power. He will tenderly . . .
  hold you in the hollow of His hand,
  hide you under His wings, and
  carry you in His bosom as the shepherd does the lamb.

"Be still," for though painful at present, your trial will soon be over. Know that God is supreme and works all things after the counsel of His own will. Know that God never loses sight of you, or forgets your frame and your weakness. Exercise patience, relieve your burdened heart by prayer, and wait in full expectation of a blessing.

As the darkest cloud often bears the most fruitful shower—so the darkest circumstances often usher in the choicest mercies. Only . . .
  yield yourself to God,
  keep close to the loving heart of God,
  and submit to the will of God.
Then you will be able to . . .
  carry any cross,
  bear any trial, or
  endure any affliction!

Be silent, be calm, be still—the Lord rules as King forever!

Do not complain, for it will displease the Lord.
Do not murmur, for it will grieve Him.
Do not fear, for it will dishonor Him.

Instead be still, for your safety is provided for.
Be still, for your needs shall be supplied.
Be still, for all things shall work together for your good.
Be still, for God bids you and all will end well.

Take me into Your nearness, dear Lord, and help me to be still.
Calm my foolish fears and my fearful imaginations.
In all of life, help me, O Lord, to be still.

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He created the tree upon which He was to die!

(Octavius Winslow, "The Foot of the Cross" 1864)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

John 19:17 "Bearing His own cross, He went forth to that place which is called Calvary."

There is no incident in our Lord's passion which, to a heart quickened with spiritual sensibility—is more replete with holy instruction, or more deeply, tenderly touching than this: Christ bearing to Calvary the cross upon which He was to suffer. It unveils such a profound abasement, and yet such a depth of love; it portrays a stoop of the Majesty of Heaven, to earth's lowest degradation—so marvelous, and yet is the measurement of grace so vast, the fact stands out, amid the many marvels of our Lord's death—one of the most touching and significant of all.

To compel the criminal to bear the wood upon which he was to be impaled, was one of the severest elements of degradation in the Roman punishment of crucifixion. To this our Lord was subjected, "Bearing His own cross, He went forth to that place which is called Calvary."

Little did they dream, as they bound the fatal wood upon His shoulder, by whose power that tree was made to grow, and from whom the beings who bore Him to the death, drew their existence. So completely was Jesus bent upon saving sinners by the sacrifice of Himself, He created the tree upon which He was to die, and nurtured from infancy the men who were to nail Him to the accursed wood!

Oh the depth of Jesus' love to sinners!

Lord! The universe in its accumulation presents no love like Yours! Your love, as eternal as Your being, saw from everlasting the cross of Calvary—and yet You did not falter in Your purpose, nor modify Your plan of saving lost sinners by the sacrifice of Yourself. You saved others; Yourself You would not save!

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The most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs!

(Charles Spurgeon LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her!" Ephesians 5:25

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

If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were eternally lost before He died! If the doctrine of universal atonement is true, that He died for all men—then He died for some who were in Hell before He came into this world; for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins.

Once again, if it was Christ's intention to save all men—then how deplorably has He been disappointed; for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burns with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood! That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption.

To think that my Savior died for men who were or are in Hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all people, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves—seems to conflict with all my ideas of divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned—appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!

We do not believe that Christ redeemed the damned.
We do not believe that He poured out His life blood for souls already in Hell.
We never can imagine that Christ suffered in the room and stead of all men—and that then afterwards these same men have to suffer for themselves.

We hold to this: that Christ laid down His life for His sheep, and secured the salvation of every one of them.

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My portion!

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

"You are my portion, O Lord!" Psalm 119:57  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

This is the language of every Christian's heart and life! The generality of the Lord's family are poor in this world, they have no portion of an earthly kind. He who has God for His portion, must not expect much besides. The Lord is enough to make them happy in the absence of all things besides; but nothing can make the spiritual mind happy in His absence.

He is the sun which enlightens, enlivens, and quickens them!
He is the shield which guards, protects, and preserves them!
He is the bread which sustains, strengthens, and revives them!
He is all they want, and without Him they have nothing.

They are often surprised when Providence strips them, and they are left as Job was—naked, friendless, poor, and destitute. But this is just the Lord bringing them to the test. They had said, "You are my portion, O Lord!" Whereas it is now evident that they reckoned those things of which God has stripped them, as a part of their portion. They considered them as necessary; whereas, however much they may add to our outward comfort—they are not absolutely essential to our well-being.

The Lord is an all-sufficient portion; he who possesses the Lord, may say as Jacob to Esau, "Take the present, my brother, seeing I have all things."

The Lord is an all-comprehensive portion; all things are in Him, from Him, by Him, and for Him.
While He is rich, how can we be poor?
While He is able, how can we be left to want?
While He is love, how can we be miserable?

Is God your portion? If so, your light afflictions are but for a moment; and they will work out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

All your trials, are mercies!

Every cross, is a real blessing!

God is dealing with you as with a child which He loves tenderly. He is now, in this affliction, doing you good with His whole heart, and with His whole soul. Oh, believe that God, your God, is love! He . . .
  declares it in His word,
  proves it in all His dealings, and
  will fully reveal it to your soul's eternal satisfaction in Heaven!

Take up your home then in your God; make Him . . .
  the subject of your meditation,
  the center of your joy,
  the object of your love,
  your soul-satisfying portion!
So shall you sing at the last, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:26

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The Minimum Christian!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Sword and the Trowel" 1876)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

The Minimum Christian! And who is he? The Christian who is going to heaven at the cheapest rate possible. The Christian who intends to get all of the world he can, and not meet the worldling's doom. The Christian who aims to have as little religion as he may, without lacking it altogether.

The minimum Christian goes to worship in the morning; and in the evening also, unless it rains, or is too warm, or too cold, or he is sleepy, or has the headache from eating too much at dinner. He listens most respectfully to the preacher, and joins in prayer and praise. He applies the truth very judiciously, sometimes to himself, oftener to his neighbors.

The minimum Christian is very friendly to all good works. He wishes them well, but it is not in his power to do much for them. The Sunday-school he looks upon as an admirable institution, especially for the neglected and ignorant. It is not convenient, however, for him to take a class, his business engagements are so pressing during the week that he needs the Sabbath as a day of rest; nor does he think himself qualified to act as a teacher. There are so many persons better prepared for this important duty, that he must beg to be excused. He is very friendly to home and foreign missions, and colportage, and gives his mite, but he is quite unable to aid in the management, for his own concerns are so excessively important. He thinks there are "too many appeals;" but he gives, if not enough to save his reputation, pretty near it, at all events he aims at it, and never overshoots the mark.

The minimum Christian is not clear on a number of points. The opera and dancing, the theater and card-playing, and large fashionable parties give him much trouble. He cannot see the harm in this, or that, or the other popular amusement. There is nothing in the Bible against it. He does not see why a Christian may not dance or go to the opera. He knows several excellent persons who do so, at least, so he says. Why should not he? He stands so close to the dividing-line between the people of God and the people of the world, that it is hard to say on which side of it he is actually to be found.

Ah, my brother, are you making this attempt? Beware, lest you find at last that in trying to get to Heaven with a little religion, you miss it altogether; lest without gaining the whole world, you lose your own soul. True godliness demands self-denial and cross-bearing—and if you have none of these, you are making a false profession!

"So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth!" Revelation 3:16

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In that hand which was once nailed to the cross for your redemption!

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

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

Afflicted Christian, you are perhaps tempted to think that God cannot love you—or He would not so deeply try you. But the reverse is the case, if He did not love you—He might perhaps refuse to try you. But because He loves you, and is a Father to you, therefore He corrects you.

All of the Lord's children need correction! Many of them will not grow without very severe discipline, consequently your heavenly Father says, "I will melt them, and try them." "I will turn My hand upon you, and will purge away your dross."

Look to the generations of old, and see if the Lord's people in every age have not been an afflicted people. Look at Job, at the prophets, at Lazarus; God tenderly loved them, and yet how severely He tried them. He has commanded an earthly parent to chasten his son, and not to let his soul spare for his crying, and by this rule He also proceeds. He chastens us, that He may not destroy us. There is infinite mercy in your present trial, as dreadful as it may appear to you. There was an absolute necessity for it—for He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve His redeemed children.

He takes pleasure in the spiritual prosperity of His people, and therefore He uses means to promote it. He has received you as a son, and He is now . . .
  using His paternal authority,
  manifesting His infinite wisdom,
  fulfilling His gracious covenant,
  making good His precious promises,
  and displaying His unutterable love!

Every one who is . . .
  adopted into His family,
  quickened by His grace,
  and united to Jesus
—is made to pass under the rod, and prove the truth of the Scripture which says, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

He chastens you, not for His own pleasure or gratification—but for your profit, that you might be a partaker of His holiness. What a gracious design is this, every way worthy of God. It affords full proof of His infinite wisdom, care, and love!

Think within yourself:
I could not do without this affliction,
it is sent in love,
it is intended to do me good,
it is a proof that I am a child of God
—and you will then think rightly.

Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, by thinking that you could have done as well without it; or that there was no necessity for it. Depend upon it, you must either be . . .
  pained, or ruined;
  tried, or injured;
  corrected, or lost.

Do not faint when the Lord rebukes you. He has promised you, that as your day is, so shall your strength be. He says to you, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!" Isaiah 41:10. Precious promise of a faithful God! He made it in love. He has not forgotten it; no, He intends to make it good. Yes, He is now making it good to you, as tried and afflicted as you are.

The rod which afflicts you, is in the hand of Jesus! In that hand which was once nailed to the cross for your redemption! In the hand of that Friend who loves at all times; and who is a Brother born for adversity. Will Jesus who suffered, bled, and died to redeem you—ever hurt you? Surely not! His heart is too tender! His love is too great! "He will not break the bruised reed, and He will not quench the smoking flax!" He will bind up the broken heart, and comfort the sorrowful spirit.

You say, "He is sorely trying me!" True, but He is only making you fit to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light. They are . . .
  loving strokes,
  valuable trials,
  blessed afflictions!
As sharp they may be, short they must be.

Humble yourself then under the mighty hand of God;
mourn before Him,
surrender all to Him,
plead with Him,
justify Him, and . . .
   the rod will soon fall from His hand,
   the scourging will soon be over, and
   peaceable fruits of righteousness will make their appearance.

Look up to your God, and say:

Submissive to Your will, my God,
I all to you resign;
I bow before Your chastening rod,
And mourn, but not repine!

Why should my foolish heart complain,
When wisdom, truth, and love,
Direct the stroke, inflict the pain,
And point to joys above?

How short are all my sufferings here!
How needful every cross!
Away then, my unbelieving fear,
Nor call my gain, my loss.

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Providence is no other than God providing!

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

"To be served at table by a great king, would be counted as great a favor as the meal itself. Just so, to take outward blessings out of God's hand, to see that He remembers us, and sends our provision at every turn—this endears His mercy, and increases our delight in Him."

What, indeed, would most men give if they could say, "The Queen herself has served me, and was most anxious that I should be well supplied!" But each believer has the Lord Himself for his Provider. He loads our table, and fills ours cup. Providence is no other than God providing! He . . .
  measures out our joys,
  weighs our sorrows,
  appoints our labors,
  and selects our trials!

There is no morsel on the saint's plate, which is not of the Lord's serving—unless he has been so foolish as to put forth his hand unto iniquity.

It is delightful to know that our Father's hand provided for us the bread which we have eaten this day; that the Savior's own fingers mingled our cup; and that every blessing has come directly from God's own table!

Surely we are as dear to God as the little ewe lamb in Nathan's parable was to the poor man. For we are told that "the poor man had raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him!" Does not this make our food, and drink, and lodging more than royal? Are we not more than content with such fare?

Yes, Lord, my portion tastes of Your divine love, for Your hand has sweetened it. A sacred perfume is on my clothing and in my chamber—for You have prepared both for me. And this would be true if I wore rags, and lay in a dungeon in sore sickness! What a heritage is mine!

O Lord, You are my all, and my all in all. My all is more than all, because it comes of You, and is dealt out to me by Your own precious self!

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The omnipotent God is your God!

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

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"With God all things are possible!" Matthew 19:26

The omnipotence of Jehovah is ruled by His wisdom and holiness, His justice and love. He can do everything consistent with those attributes, but nothing contrary to them.

God's omnipotence is altogether on the believer's side. All that God consistently can do, He will do for His people. Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

He can make us contented in the most trying circumstances, and happy in the deepest affliction. He can so bring down our minds to our condition, that we shall glory in tribulation. He can turn darkness into light, and bitter into sweet; and bring the richest joy out of the deepest sorrow.

The omnipotent God is your God! His omnipotence is engaged for you!

Do not look at your difficulties, but at the omnipotent God as engaged for you!

Do not look too much at what you are, but at what your God can make you!

Do not dwell on your own weakness, but on the Lord's strength!

Call nothing impossible. "Is anything too hard for Me? Do not I fill Heaven and earth, says the Lord?" His ways are in the sea, His paths in the mighty waters, and His footsteps are not known! It is possible for God to hold you fast . . .
  in the most slippery path,
  when surrounded by the most determined foes,
  and feeling the greatest weakness; and He will do so!
None shall be able to pluck you out of His hand!

It is possible for God to supply all your needs, in the most trying times; as He did Elijah by the ravens, and the poor widow by the increase of the oil and meal. And He will do so! Only seek the Lord, trust in the Lord, leave difficulties with the Lord—and you shall not lack any good thing. He will display His wisdom, sovereignty, pity, and power in dealing with you; and perhaps fill you with wonder, surprise, and love, at His ways!

All that God is, He is to you!

All He has, He has for you!

All He has promised, He will fulfill in you!

Ever, ever remember that all things are possible to . . .
   your God,
   your Father,
   your Savior,
   and your Friend!
"I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:13

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If they cannot have a fresh dish from Satan's kitchen!

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

"If ravens are driven away from carrion, they love to abide within scent of it.
 If you would be free from sin, then avoid the temptations which lead to it!"

This first sentence is a grim parable, but all too true. We have seen those who dared not enter the devil's house, linger long around his doors! The old woman in the fable could find no wine in the jar, yet loved to smell at it. It is a clear proof of the love of human nature to evil that, when restrained from actual sin, men will rehearse their former exploits, and dote on the lusts which they indulged years ago! If they cannot have a fresh dish from Satan's kitchen, they will have his crumbs, sooner than go without!
Our author gives sage advice at the outset, when he says: To avoid sin, avoid temptation.
He who would not be wounded, should keep out of battle.

He who would not be tossed about, should not go to sea.

He who would not be burned, should keep away from the fire.

If men will get into the train which runs to the terminus of iniquity, they must expect to be carried to their journey's end.

If I stand in the way of sinners, I shall soon run with them.

Oh to possess a godly fear, which shall lead me rather to go ten miles out of the way, than pass by the place of temptation!

It is well to keep out of the smell of sin, for the very odor of it is baneful.

If we seek a temptation, we shall soon find it. And within it, like a kernel in a nut, we shall meet with sin!

Oh that we had the wit to see this, and were more firmly resolved not to stand in the broad road that leads to destruction, or even go near it—lest we should become regular travelers upon it! "Keep to a path far from the adulteress, do not go near the door of her house!" Proverbs 5:8

Lord, give me prudence. As I would not devour the carrion of sin, give me grace that the most distant scent of it shall at once sicken me, and cause me to keep my steps as far from it as possible!

"Blessed is the man who does not . . .
  walk in the counsel of the wicked,
  or stand in the way of sinners,
  or sit in the seat of mockers." Psalm 1:1

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Chance, accident, luck—or Divine Providence!  

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Charles Spurgeon
: "God's Providence not only extends to mankind in general, and to the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, and the innumerable fish in the sea, but also to every atom of matter in the universe!"

Don Fortner
: Divine providence is the accomplishment in time, of God's sovereign and eternal decree. Providence is God bringing to pass in time (sovereignly, absolutely, and perfectly) all that He purposed in eternity.

Nothing in the universe happens by luckchancefortuneaccident, or by blind fate. Everything that comes to pass in time, was purposed by our God in eternity, and is brought to pass by His wise, adorable, holy Providence.

Providence is God's government of His universe. If we have a proper view of God's Providence, we will see the hand of God and the heart of God in everything, in all the experiences of our lives. Believers ascribe their sorrows and afflictions to the hand of their heavenly Father's wise and good Providence.

God's Providence is always executed in the wisest manner possible. We are often unable to see and understand the reasons and causes for specific events in our lives, in the lives of others, or in the happenings of the world. But our lack of understanding does not prevent us from believing God. We bow to His will, which is evident in His works of Providence, and say, "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!"

The God of Providence rules all things well. How we ought to trust Him! Ever remember, our heavenly Father is God all wise, good, and omnipotent. He is too wise to err, too good to do wrong, and too strong to fail.

In His wisdom and power, God cares for, preserves and sustains and upholds, rules and directs, and governs all creatures, all actions, and all things—from the largest star in the galaxy to the smallest sparrow in a tree, for His own glory and the good of His redeemed people.

Charles Spurgeon
: "Blessed is that man who is done with chance, who never speaks of luck, but believes that from the least, even to the greatest—all things are ordained by the Lord. We dare not leave out the least event! The creeping of an aphid upon a rosebud is as surely arranged by the decree of Providence, as the march of a pestilence through a nation! Believe this, for if the least thing is omitted from the supreme government—so may the next be, and the next, until nothing is left in the divine hands."

J.C. Ryle
: "There is no such thing as chance, luck or accident in the Christian journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God. And all things are working together for the believer's good!"

Matthew Henry
: "God who feeds the sparrows, will not starve His saints! God controls all the concerns of His people, even of those that are most insignificant, and least regarded. This is an encouragement to live in a continual dependence upon God's providential care! If God numbers our hairs, much more does He number our heads. He takes care of our lives, our needs, our concerns, and our souls. God's universal providence extends itself to all creatures, and to all their actions, even the smallest and most insignificant!"

Charles Spurgeon
: "Providence may be seen as the finger of God, not merely in those events which shake nations and are duly emblazoned on the page of history—but in little incidents of common life. Yes, in the motion of a grain of dust, the trembling of a dew-drop, the flight of a swallow, or the movements of a fish!"

Charles Spurgeon
: "We talk of God's providence when we have hairbreadth escapes. But are they not quite as much divine providences, when we are preserved from danger?"

Charles Spurgeon: "It is most important for us to learn that the smallest trifles are as much arranged by the God of Providence, as the most momentous events! He who counts the stars, has also numbered the hairs of our heads. Our lives and deaths are predestined, but so, also, are our sitting down and our rising up."

Louis Berkhof
: "Scripture everywhere teaches that even the most insignificant details of life are of divine ordering!"

Charles Spurgeon
: "The best remedy for affliction, is sweet submission to God's providence. What can't be cured, must be endured!"

J.C. Ryle
: "If God has given His Son to die for us, let us beware of doubting His kindness and love in any painful providence of our daily life."

Charles Spurgeon
: "Divine Providence is a downy pillow for an aching head, and a blessed salve for the sharpest pain. He who can feel that his times are in the hand of God, need not tremble at anything that is in the hand of man!"