Pithy gems from Thomas Moor
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The sum of all progress in spiritual life is . . .
more of Christ in the mind, to better know Him;
more of Christ in the heart, to better love Him, and to be more influenced by Him;
more of Christ in the life, to better serve Him.
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Without that one very unpleasant thing!
"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
"According to His purpose"—for He had purposed before the world was who His called ones would be, and also purposed that all things would work for their good. The doings of His grace in time, are ever the result of the purposes of His grace before the foundation of the world! Romans 8:30
"Those who are CALLED according to His purpose."
These are called to know themselves as guilty before God and deserving of eternal condemnation.
These are called to know the all-sufficiency of Christ to save.
These are called to trust in His sin-atoning death as their only hope of salvation.
These are called out of the world. They no longer revel in the world's gaieties, or are swayed by its corrupt principles.
These are called to be followers of the despised Lord Jesus, treading in His footsteps.
This is the calling which distinguishes those who love God, and for whose good God causes all things to work together.
Yes, "God causes all things to work together for good . . . " It is not said that they work singly or alone, but in relationship to one another—they "work together." One little thing which we cannot at all understand, or see the reason of—the Lord sees is necessary to make several other things properly work for our good. Without that one very unpleasant thing—all the rest would not be for our benefit.
We are too apt to look at things singly, and therefore our mind often becomes perplexed. A single thread is not of much importance in itself—but if left out in the weaving, the pattern in the loom would be rendered imperfect.
These "all things" are so many shuttles running to and fro, weaving the web of goodness and blessing for the children of God. The hand that throws the shuttles is the hand of Jesus. In the web which He weaves, no thread will be found misplaced, when the weaving is over.
Therefore let us leave all things in the hands of Jesus, who has the whole plan of the life of each believer always before Him, and who in His infinite wisdom causes all things to work together for good to them, so as to produce the best results and accomplish all His purposes of love.
Let us trust Him at all times, even when . . .
our expectations of earthly things are disappointed,
or when our plans are frustrated,
or when darkness surrounds our path,
or when trials and affliction are our portion.
Be assured that when we have attained a keener vision and a fuller understanding than our pilgrim state affords us—we shall see that God caused all things to perfectly work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose! We will then testify to the wisdom, power, and love of Him who does all things well!
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What a believer would do, if he could!
"The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you want to do." Galatians 5:17
"You cannot do the things that you want to do" is indeed often a true testimony as regards the experience of the believer.
He would follow Christ in heart and life—but, alas, he sees how little there is of Christ in either heart or life.
He would be spiritually-minded in all things—but often finds that he has been guided by worldly policy and worldly influences, rather than by spiritual principle.
He would be meek and lowly in heart—but he has cause for sorrow that pride of heart is so often and so quickly manifested.
He would sincerely pray—but often finds that he knows not what to ask, and cannot pray as he ought.
He knows that the reading of God's Word should always be a pleasure to him—but he often finds that Scripture reading is rather a task than otherwise.
He would be gentle and easily entreated—yet sometimes he stands upon his rights with a sternness and stubbornness which is not of the Spirit.
He would always please Christ—but, alas, he sees how often his motive has rather been self-pleasing, or the pleasing of his fellows.
He would have more firmness in holy desires—but he sees how faint, even at the best, are those desires.
He would have his mind often engaged with spiritual things—but finds how much more readily it runs after things that are trifling and profitless.
He would have a more determined will against the seducing influences around him—yet too often his will plays the coward when most needed to be firm and decided.
He would be thankful to God for the many and great things He has done for him and given him—but sometimes he forgets all, in regret for the loss or refusal of some one thing which his Heavenly Father has in love denied him.
This is a very sad and very humbling exhibition of a believer. It is, however, too often a true one, as many a child of God will sorrowfully testify, who truly knows the evil of his own heart.
"You cannot do the things that you want to do." This, however, is not written to make us satisfied with such a state of things, but rather to show us that the life of the believer is one of much conflict amidst many opposing influences, and that we have no sufficient strength of our own to overcome them. Also, to teach us to walk with more watchfulness, humility, and self-distrust, and to go more constantly and earnestly to our Heavenly Father, seeking for the increased assistance of the Holy Spirit, that we may thereby live a life of faith in the Lord Jesus, who alone can enable us to war a good warfare, and continually overcome every evil.
It is by thus showing us what we are, in our sinfulness and our need—that the Holy Spirit brings us more lowly and willingly to the Lord Jesus to find our all in Him.
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All things, the bitter and the sweet
"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
Infinite wisdom, as well as infinite love, guides the Lord Jesus in all His doings. Thus it is He sees it best for His own glory and our good, that His doings should at times be contrary to our own desires for ourselves. All things, the bitter and the sweet, are from the hands of Him who makes all work together for our good.
All the trials and afflictions the believer meets with in this life, are for the promotion of . . .
our growth in grace,
the true knowledge of self,
love to Christ, and
faith in our covenant God and Father.
Christ's rough-hewn diamonds are precious to Him, but it is His polished ones that shine the brightest, and most reflect His holy image, and have the most conspicuous place among His jewels. Though the process of polishing is often painful to the flesh and trying to the spirit—yet the result is worth it all, for that result is "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!"
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The consciousness of all our infirmities, our inward lusts, and our utter helplessness
The Christian life is one of continual conflict from its commencement to its close. There is no hope whatever that it can be otherwise. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and never can be anything else but flesh. It continually wars against the spirit—so that oftentimes, as the Apostle says, "When I would do good, evil is present with me."
This was Paul's own experience to the end of life, for never did he find any good thing in himself, that is, in his flesh. The flesh never changes for the better. Our only expectation and our encouragement is that through the grace of our Lord Jesus, with watchfulness and prayerfulness, it will be kept under control, and that the spiritual nature will increase in vigor daily.
The consciousness of all our infirmities, our inward lusts, and our utter helplessness—but makes the Lord Jesus more precious! The very lusts we abhor, do serve our best interests when they cause us to look more to Him. Thus they are among the all things that work for our good, by keeping us in our proper place and exalting the Lord.
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Regeneration, repentance, faith, conversion
The Holy Spirit quickens the sinner with new spiritual life. He is thus born again. It is a work complete at once, and one in which the sinner is completely passive.
This is regeneration.
The sinner knows not that he is born again, but by the results which are manifested in the mind, heart and life.
His MIND is enlightened. He becomes deeply conscious of his personal relationship to God's holiness, to eternity, and to the judgment to come. These are to him realities such as they had never been before. He sees himself to be guilty before God, and deserving of eternal condemnation.
This is repentance.
His HEART becomes restless in consequence of his change of mind. He is weary and burdened under a consciousness of guilt. He looks to Jesus dying on the cross as the sinner's substitute. He trusts in Him as his only hope of salvation, and thus with the heart he believes and is saved.
This is faith.
His LIFE is now changed. The mind and heart being thus affected, the whole current of his outer life is altered. The man turns from the ways of sin and turns to God. He becomes a true disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus.
This is conversion.
In other words:
I. REGENERATION is the impartation of a new nature, and is in Scripture termed "being born again." It is an instantaneous work of the Holy Spirit, complete at once, though capable of increase in vigor and manifestation.
II. REPENTANCE is a change of mind about our relationship to God, whereby we become conscious that however moral or religious we may have been—we are really without God, and without hope in the world. We deeply sense that we are guilty before God and deserving eternal condemnation.
III. FAITH is the trust of the heart in Christ crucified, as the way of deliverance from guilt and deserved condemnation.
IV. CONVERSION is the change of the outward life. Having received Christ as his Savior, the believer now serves and follows Him as his Lord and Master.
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The deeper the work of grace
It is the characteristic of a growing state of grace not to see its growth, but to see more clearly its shortcomings.
The nearer the light, the more visible are the imperfections.
In the same way, the deeper the work of grace, the more opposition will it usually encounter in the heart; and the inward evil will generally become more vividly realized by the believer.
The more we have of each grace, the more clearly shall we discern its opposite within:
The more we have of humility, the more shall we know and mourn over our pride.
The more we have of patience, the more shall we know and mourn over our impatience.
The more we have of faith, the more shall we know and mourn over our unbelief.
The more we have of conformity to the image of Christ, the more shall we know and mourn over our lack of conformity to Him.
The more we have of self-denial, the more shall we know and mourn over our selfishness.
The more we have of love to Christ, the more shall we know and mourn over our lack of love to Him.
Thus each grace becomes a light to show us how much of the contrary we have by nature.
Indeed, by this means we grow in grace, because thus we more fully know our great need of the Lord Jesus, and are led to look more humbly, confidently, and helplessly to Him, to whom we can never look in vain. Nothing draws so abundantly from His fullness, as a helpless trusting heart.
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There are no difficulties, no sorrows or joys which are matters of chance
"Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:30
"But not a hair of your head will perish!" Luke 21:18
Nothing is more clearly revealed in Scripture than the reality of God's dealings with each of His redeemed people as individuals, in all that pertains to their providential path through life. In a special manner God is daily working providentially in everything small or great, for those whom He has led to seek for refuge in His once crucified Son.
There are no difficulties, no sorrows or joys which are matters of chance.
Every step in their providential path is watched over with the tenderest love and care.
There are no rough places in the way, but those which have been particularly ordained and arranged.
There are no lessons to be learned, but had long been prepared by the most wise and loving of Teachers.
There are no trials, but were planned to work out great and exceeding good by Him who has all power in Heaven and earth.
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Just what is best for you!
Remember that among your chief thoughts of the Lord Jesus, this one must ever have a prominent place: that He is ever looking down upon you and watching you with tenderest love, and ordering all things for your eternal good.
Sometimes it is spiritual medicine, at other times it is spiritual nourishment—but at all times it is spiritual good and just what is best for you! He sees and knows beyond anyone else what is best for you in each circumstance of each moment. So, always when you think of Him, think of Him as thus looking down upon you and ever caring for you.
Often the Lord, in His discipline of love, not only withholds what the heart longs for, but gives what the heart shrinks from naturally. If this is not patiently received at His hands, the discipline is of no avail and the Lord has to begin the discipline again, and sometimes again and again, but all in love—that the believer may at last leave it to Him to give, or take away, or withhold, even as He pleases.
To enjoy rest in the Lord Jesus in every providence however trying—each trying providence should be interpreted in strict accordance with His covenant love and faithfulness. To the believer, He is all love. His providences never contradict this—however unpleasing, undesirable, or disappointing they may be.
The Lord Jesus by affliction calls His people to draw still nearer to Himself in daily fellowship, in secret and personal communion, so that, having become the still deeper necessity of their souls, He may still more become their fullness of life, and peace, and joy.
With believers who are often in much affliction, the question should not be, "Why am I thus afflicted by Him more than many are who appear to be always well?" But rather, "Why am I so loved by Him more than many are; I who deserve this love no more than they do!"
The Lord Jesus wants the believer to look to Him as his all—both in providence and grace, in temporal things and in spiritual.
Affliction, pain, and trial, are not evil things. Nothing is evil but sin!
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One of the sure results of living by faith, is to bring everything in the daily life, and every thought of the heart, into subjection to the Lord Jesus, and to have no will but His.
Walking with Christ, you are sure to walk in the path of safety and blessing. What if the way is sometimes marked with rough and thorny places? What if the difficulties and perplexities are many and unexpected? Looking unto Jesus, they will be but His opportunity to prove to you more vividly and fully—what a ready helper, and what a faithful and ever-present friend you have in Him.
All that the Lord Jesus does in relation to you, is prompted by His special individual love for you.
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The gentleness of Jesus in His dealings with us every step of the way
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
His hand is a gentle one, though it be a mighty one—for to us, it is the once pierced hand of Jesus. The gentleness of Jesus is as much a feature of His character as His love. It is because He loves so much, that He is so gentle in His dealings with His people. No mother can lead her darling child so gently, or watch its path so carefully, or stoop to do such lowly acts for its well-being—as our Jesus leads, and watches over, and works for His people.
Adversity often finds rough voices and unfriendly conduct where least expected, but it always meets with gentleness in Jesus. Those whose eyes are often blinded by affliction's tears—best know how gently the gentle hand of the Lord Jesus can wipe sorrow's tears away. More glorious is omnipotence in wiping those tears away, than in the creation of a universe!
It is the glory of omnipotence to be gentle.
It is the sweetness of majesty to condescend.
It is the beauty of love to walk in lowliness and uplift the fallen.
Hearts wounded by disappointed hopes, by misplaced confidence, by harsh treatment—ever meet with sweet solace and soothing consolation in the gentleness of Jesus.
When the believer's feet have slipped and he has fallen into sin, fellow-Christians may speak harshly, and upbraid and condemn—but the returning wanderer always meets with gentleness in Jesus. Love never hesitates, and can never stoop too low to multiply the comforts and the joys of the beloved one.
Psalm 18:35, "Your gentleness has made me great," for it has raised me up from sin and shame, from sorrow and despair.
How low our Jesus stooped—let Bethlehem, and Gethsemane, and Calvary tell.
He still stoops low, for He comes down to our lowly walk and our little needs to be our daily companion, and to multiply our daily blessings. And when our lowly walk on earth is over, and from the light of glory we contemplate the path of our earthly pilgrimage—among the many manifestations of love then made clear, will be seen the gentleness of Jesus in His dealings with us every step of the way.
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Disagreement with the path, is disagreement with Him who ordained it
"Be content with such things as you have, for He has said: I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you." Hebrews 13:5
The Lord Jesus never leaves His people. Whether they realize His presence or not, it does not alter the fact, for He is ever with them as their loving and sympathizing friend and helper—true God, yet always true man.
"I will never leave you"—there is the assurance of His gracious presence.
"Nor will I ever forsake you"—there is the assurance of His watchful care and changeless love.
It is possible for a person to have much of the company of one by whom he is forsaken in heart affection. The Lord Jesus does not deal thus with His people. His language means, "My presence shall ever go with you, My heart shall ever be towards you, and My hand shall ever hold you." There is nothing in the darkest and most trying path in which a believer can possibly be placed, that need prevent him constantly realizing the presence and love of His Lord, and quietly resting in Him.
Fully, however, to realize the Lord's presence and love, and quietly rest in Him, there must not only be looking up, and trusting, and waiting—but the heart must also be content with the providential path below.
If a believer would walk in loving fellowship with the Lord Jesus when in the path of trial—there must be a quiet, contented, patient abiding in that path where the Lord has placed him; for there, and there alone, will the Lord Jesus meet with him. Disagreement with the path, is disagreement with Him who ordained it.
There should be not only abiding with the Lord as the source of rest and comfort, but abiding in the path as the way of His appointment in love. The lack of this patient abiding is the reason why so many believers have such a joyless, anxious, troubled, barren experience. "Be content with such things as you have, for He has said: I will never leave you nor will I ever forsake you."
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Heaven's hiding-place for earth-worn souls
"In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!" John 16:33
Stern conflict makes the experienced warrior. It is the battle alone that produces the conqueror. The believer's path is one of warfare, because he is walking through an opposing world; but it is also one of victory, if therein he walks with Jesus. So much depends upon the soul's position in faith. If from the midst of worldly associations it views Jesus afar off, it will be often overcome; but if it views the world and its associations from a walk of close fellowship with Him, it will always conquer, for it is ever in the place of victory. To such, the world's tribulations but make Jesus, who is Heaven's hiding-place for earth-worn souls, more welcome and more precious; for here on earth the Lord Jesus is best known by the help He affords, and the joy He gives to His needy and tempted ones.
The conscious need of the believer is one of his highest claims upon his Lord's omnipotence. It is that experience of soul which most prevails with Jesus and moves Him to send forth His choicest covenant blessings.
Oh, my soul, do not be cast down though tribulations multiply; for your Jesus is ever near. Look to Him, walk closer with Him, listening to His words of love and grace, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world," and you too shall be conqueror, yes, more than conqueror through Him who loves you.
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"Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls!" 1 Peter 1:8-9
Much of the joy of believers may be the joy of pleasant circumstances. The result, therefore, is that, when circumstances are changed, the joy of the believer ceases. Whereas, if his joy were in the Lord, then no circumstances would alter it. Yes, even adverse circumstances would, through His grace, cause the soul more than ever to look for consolation and joy in Him.
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When you have any cross to bear, when anything more than usually trying meets you in your path, if you would walk safely and cheerfully—you must bring it at once to the Lord Jesus, to receive from Him all needed power and grace.
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The weak, the poor, and the ignorant!
"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:3
Our great aim is to be as little children before the Lord.
We should always be as little children before the Lord, looking to Him at every step as needy and helpless ones, and resting with believing hearts on His assurance of help and grace.
We should never go to the Lord as strong ones—but as weak ones, as very children. It is . . .
not strong ones to whom He gives grace,
nor rich ones to whom He gives treasure,
nor wise ones to whom He increases knowledge—
but the weak, the poor, and the ignorant are those whom He blesses.
Happy is that soul which learns to profit by learning that it has nothing in itself, but everything in Christ.
"I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure." Matthew 11:25-26
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A consciousness of need, and ignorance and helplessness
The Lord Jesus delights in a childlike trust. Too often His people want to come to Him with a trust that is man-like. That is, with a trust that has some self-reliance, some self-reasoning, or self-ability, or some self-wise plans and arrangements, or a trust that commends itself by the many things its hand has accomplished.
Whereas a childlike trust—that trust which is the result of becoming like a little child—has no self-reliance, or reasoning, or ability, or plans, or great works to encourage it—but has only a consciousness of need, and ignorance and helplessness; and looks hopefully to Him who has never yet been known to fail His trusting ones.
The childlike trust which grows out of weakness, pain and affliction, is more honoring to the Lord Jesus—than the trust which grows out of health, and ease, and the impulse of many activities.
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Where there is true growth in grace, such growth is sure to manifest itself by . . .
a closer walk with the Lord Jesus,
an increased and increasing experimental knowledge of Him,
and an increasing power over evil within and around.
If evil is consciously encouraged in the heart of the believer, or if evil rises within which he does not at once oppose, by bringing it to the Lord, and seeking help against it—such evil will surely increase in power (though it may be for a time secretly and quietly) until it be eventually not only a complete hindrance to the soul's walk in fellowship with the Lord, but the cause of growing inconsistency in life.
The way of safe walking is to look at the evil as an enemy to be overcome at once, by bringing it to the light before the Lord Jesus, and looking to Him for grace to overcome it. Evil thus treated will result in increased fellowship with the Lord, by bringing the believer to Him on an errand of need which is sure to meet with success.
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Living by faith in Christ includes the wish to have everything as He sees best, and to walk contentedly with Him in every incident in the path of life which He appoints; so that you would not have anything altered until He sees fit.
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The possession of much scriptural knowledge about Christ
Love for Christ, or joy in Christ, is not always according to the amount of doctrinal knowledge. There may be very much knowledge of revealed truth concerning Him—and yet but little true joy in Him, or desire after Him.
There may be, on the other hand, but little doctrinal knowledge—yet much joy in Him as a personal Savior, and Friend, and Helper.
The possession of much scriptural knowledge about Christ, without living more fully upon Him by faith, is like being in the possession of much food, and understanding its nature and excellency, but not partaking of it. The failure of spiritual strength, like the failure of physical strength—is caused either by hidden disease, open irregularities, improper food, or insufficiency of that which is good.
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Growing in grace
Remember that among your chief thoughts of the Lord Jesus, one must ever have a prominent place: that He is ever looking down upon you and watching you with tenderest love, and ordering all things for your good.
Sometimes it is spiritual medicine, at other times it is spiritual nourishment—but at all times it is spiritual good, and just what is best for you. He sees and knows beyond any one else just what is best for each day and hour. So, always when you think of Him, think of Him as thus looking down upon you and ever caring for you.
The Holy Spirit is always assisting us in our calm, judicious, prayerful thinking about Jesus and His Word, and also in looking to Jesus for grace to help in all we do. He is ever leading us in all to think of Christ and to live for Christ and continually to look to Christ. In fewer words, the Holy Spirit helps us to look to Christ for everything, and to serve Christ in everything.
The natural mind makes self the center, and self the end.
The spiritual mind makes Christ the center, and Christ the end.
The more we seek Christ, and the less we seek self—the more we please the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Christ is the source and end both of grace on earth and glory in Heaven.
Grace in the heart, is glory in its beginnings.
Glory in Heaven, is grace in its full consummation.
Growing in grace is living more upon Christ, and living more for Christ, and growing more like Christ here on earth.
To learn of Christ and live upon Christ, is the highest experience of the soul here or hereafter.
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The most prominent object of the soul's regard
"I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20
You would realize more of His love if you were to individualize it to yourself, even as you do His death for your individual personal salvation. Concerning the latter, nothing will satisfy you fully but your ability consciously to adopt the language of the Apostle, "He gave Himself for me!"
So, in relation to His love, nothing can fully satisfy you but to be able consciously to say, "He loved me!"
He so loved you as if He had singled you out that He might fix His special personal love upon you—upon you individually and personally. This He really has done. It is no vain supposition, but a fact—a wonderful fact for which you will praise Him hereafter, world without end.
The most prominent object of the soul's regard, at all times, should be the God-man; the Lord Jesus, ever living, and loving, and sympathizing, and supporting; who is ever present with us, and to whom, though He is God, we can speak in holy, loving, childlike confidence, and with whom, because He is man, we can realize a nearness and relationship we could not do if He were only God. He it is who so often assures and comforts us by His presence and love.
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How comforting and assuring is this!
Jesus well knows what it is to pass through stormy waters and fierce fires. He is always with His people in similar experience, according to His Word: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3
He does not say there will be no waters to pass through, nor fires to walk through—but He does say that they shall not harm us.
Mark the blessedness: it is not that He sends help by His angels, that would not be sufficient for His loving heart. It is, "I will be with you." How comforting and assuring is this! Had omnipotence been joined to an angel, while the help would have been sure, the loving sympathy and precious fellowship could not have been the same. But, for our help and joy, omnipotence is for us in a man—a man true and tried in every respect—true God and real man. So the weary one finding his weak and trembling hand held by a man, and one who is not ashamed to call him brother—he finds also that it is held by omnipotence, for He is the Son of man with fellow-feeling to sympathize, and the Son of God with omnipotence to help!
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The Lord's way of helping His people in trial, is most frequently not by removing the trial, but by Himself becoming their companion, and friend, and helper in it. Therefore the more sure way of blessing is to look to the Lord Jesus in the trial, to take it from His hand, and walk with Him in it.
Nothing can be more clearly revealed in Scripture than the reality of God's dealings with each of His people as individuals in all that pertains to their providential path through life.
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The real, loving, gracious Father of each of His sinful children!
The Christian finds in the death of Christ, not only a way of deliverance from his fears, but a way to more personal thoughts of God, and to closer relationship and more intimacy with Him than he had ever thought possible. Reconciliation, deliverance, peace, forgiveness, redemption, acceptance—are all intensely personal, and he begins to understand them as such. He comprehends as he never could before, that God is to him a personal God, and a personal Father; not one who merely takes upon Himself the character of a Father—but the real, loving, gracious Father of each of His sinful children!
He is now also brought into personal fellowship with the Lord Jesus as a personal Savior and friend and helper, and as one who is the first-born among many brethren; not one who condescends to speak of Himself as merely having the feelings of such—but really, tangibly, personally, unchangeably so!
Heaven now is to him no longer a dim and perplexing uncertainty of the future, but a bright and sure prospect of endless fellowship with a real Father and a real Christ!
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If you would realize these blessings
The Gospel . . .
cheers the downcast,
strengthens the feeble,
encourages the timid,
heals the broken-hearted,
gives light in darkness,
supplies rest to the weary,
and stable joy to the sorrowful.
If you would realize these blessings, it can only be by having the chief and most prominent feature in your soul's experience, the constant assurance of the presence of an unseen but real man—the God-man who is ever ever watching over you and caring for you with an unceasing love, however little you may have been conscious of it. A true man, who is also the true God, He is one to whom you can tell with confidence and comfort all your needs, all your evils, all your sorrows, and with whom you can walk in holy fellowship . . .
as an unseen but true-hearted friend,
and as the first-born among many brethren,
and an almighty and ever-loving helper!
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Endeavor to attain the constant habit of . . .
Try continually to think of the Lord Jesus as the God-man, who is . . .
ever watching over you,
ever loving you,
ever caring for you,
and ever listening to you.
Endeavor to attain the constant habit of speaking to Jesus as a true-hearted man and a loving friend, telling Him the circumstances of your daily life according as they arise.
Let your duties be done for Jesus.
Let your sufferings be borne for Jesus.
Let your study be to learn more of Jesus.
Let your aim be to grow more like Jesus.
Let your one purpose ever be to please Jesus.
Live, looking into His face.
Live, sitting at His feet.
Live, walking by His side.
Live, leaning on His arm.
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You will find your chief foes
Guard against the natural temper and disposition of your mind, so that when evil within first manifests itself, it may at once be brought to Jesus.
You will find your chief foes more frequently within you than elsewhere. You will more often have need to ask Jesus to save you from, and help you against, yourself—than to save you from or help you against anything or anyone else.
But whatever the evil is, when it first shows itself, it must at once be taken to Jesus. The least evil is too strong for us successfully to overcome. We must at once tell Jesus about it. Delay is dangerous. Delay gives strength to the evil.
To seek to overcome in any other way, than by bringing it to Him, is simply to prepare the way to be overcome by the evil.
~ ~ ~ ~
True heart-experience is ever the result of true knowledge. Whenever the experience of the heart is not guided by a right understanding of God's Word, it becomes dangerous and delusive both as regards the inner life and the daily walk.
Such persons are guided more by the promptings of their inward feelings, than by the simple Word of God. They too often mistake the impressions of a fervid imagination, and the feelings of an easily excited emotional nature—for the influences of the Holy Spirit within them.
The religion of the Gospel is the religion of sanctified common sense that can give a reason for things, because guided by the plain teachings of God's Word. The exhortation of the Apostle to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," directs to a double growth:
1. Growth in grace, which is heart-growth.
2. Growth in knowledge, which is mind-growth.
The healthiness and correctness of the heart-growth depend greatly upon the healthiness and correctness of the mind-growth. This should lead us to great watchfulness and prayerfulness concerning what we hear and read, and how we hear and read; for errors clothed in the garb of truth have been a great hindrance and stumbling-block to multitudes.
~ ~ ~ ~
"This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God." Hebrews 10:12
"This Man." How the heart bounds with joy at the remembrance that the exalted and Holy One, who is now seated in the place of power, "the right hand of God," ruling throughout all creation, is a real man, possessing a humanity like our own—body, soul, and mind. How much more real, more human, more tangible, heavenly things are—when we are conscious that at the head of all is "this Man," Jesus; and that the Being whom angels worship and adore, and before whom they bow in loving submission, is the very one who dwelt a lowly one among men!
One with the Father as God—yet is He ever "this Man." Little do we know how wonderfully His humanity was fashioned and mellowed by His many sufferings, and weaknesses, and sorrows, and pains, and persecutions—in order that He might the better sympathize with His people, and be the more consciously and really like unto His tried and suffering ones.
"This Man," so loving, so gentle, so gracious, so kind, so humble-hearted, so tender in His sympathy, and faithful in His love, is ours—still our Shepherd, Friend, and Guide, our ever-gracious Sympathizer and ever-ready Helper.
~ ~ ~ ~
"From the fullness of His grace, we have all received grace upon grace." John 1:16
He is still the same, and in Him is . . .
all fullness for all our needs;
fullness of strength, for our weakness;
fullness of wisdom, for our ignorance;
fullness of joy, for our sorrow;
fullness of knowledge, for our perplexity.
Yes, a fullness of grace, for every duty, every trial, and every affliction.
The reason of so much of our spiritual weakness and soul-deadness is, because there is such a lack of a receiving disposition. "From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another."
Oh for the humble, childlike, receiving heart, which, out of "His fulness"—the fullness of our Lord Jesus—is continually receiving "grace upon grace."
~ ~ ~ ~
Those whom You have given Me
"I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours; and all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine." John 17:9
It is very comforting to think how peculiarly and wonderfully precious believers are to the Father and to the Son. We belong to the Father, and we belong to Jesus. The Father gave us to Jesus in covenant love, before He drew us to Jesus by constraining grace.
He gave us to Jesus, that we might be redeemed from eternal misery.
He gave us to Jesus, that we might be separated from the world.
He gave us to Jesus, that we might be preserved from the power of the evil one, and from the dominion of sin.
He gave us to Jesus, that we might be brought safely home at last, and presented unto Himself pure and beauteous in His own image!
Jesus loved the Father's gift and received it joyfully at His hands, and undertook all responsibility for its full salvation, and for its well-being here, and glory hereafter. But, oh! at what a mighty cost, His lowly birth, His laborious life, His shameful death do testify.
How wonderful that the deep eternal love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, should be fixed on such as we are! No gift the Father could have bestowed was so much prized, so longed for by the Son, as the gift to Him of those for whom He died. Oh, then, with such a Jesus, and such a Father—all must be well, and all the experiences of time are but the secret whisperings of a love without beginning and without end.
~ ~ ~ ~
God forgets the sins of His people, but He never forgets them, nor their sorrows
"Many, O Lord my God, are Your thoughts to us." Psalm 40:5
God's thoughts are ever in a very special manner towards His tried ones:
thoughts of love;
thoughts of wisdom;
thoughts of gentleness;
thoughts of tenderness;
thoughts of blessing.
The believer's thoughts may often wander from Him, but the Lord's thoughts never wander from the believer. They are fixed thoughts, for He thinks always and with a loving remembrance of every need.
His thoughts towards them are many, reaching to the very least thing which has any relation to their well-being. God forgets the sins of His people, but He never forgets them, nor their sorrows. Why then should the child of God be anxious, or perplexed, or burdened, or disquieted, or cast down, when the Lord—so gracious, so tender-hearted, and so mighty—has so many and such loving thoughts towards Him!
~ ~ ~ ~
Thus the path of conscious weakness
"Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
How often the believer makes his weakness the excuse . . .
for non-success in resisting temptations and overcoming evil,
for breaking down under trial and difficulty,
for drawing back from active duty,
for shrinking from the solitary path of suffering.
Whereas it is only through conscious weakness he can succeed in anything, because human weakness is the channel through which divine power delights to manifest itself.
If believers were consciously weaker, they would be really stronger; even as the Apostle Paul says: "when I am weak, then am I strong." "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." If he had not realized his own weakness, he would never have realized Christ as his strength, therefore he boasted in his infirmities, that Christ's power might more fully rest upon him, and thus Christ's name and grace be exalted.
The power of Christ rests upon weak ones, and rests most upon those who are most weak, and who, wisely knowing their weakness, look to Him.
"I can do nothing," says the believer, thinking of himself.
"I can do all things," says the believer, looking unto Jesus.
Thus the path of conscious weakness is to the soul that trusts in Jesus, the path of omnipotence.
~ ~ ~ ~
How little the believer knows the depth of evil within him!
"And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how He had said to him: Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times!" Luke 22:61
And yet Peter was truly sincere when he said to Jesus, "If I should die with You, I will never deny You!" But alas! Peter knew not himself when he thus spoke. If, instead of this self-confident language, he had sought help from his Lord and Master to enable him to stand firm in the hour of temptation, he would not have left such a sad instance of the depth of unfaithfulness and falsehood to which a disciple of Christ may fall, when left to endure temptation in his own strength.
What a warning is this for all believers, and how mistaken is he, who declares that it is impossible that he could ever be guilty of the viler, the fouler sins, the worst of the ungodly practice. Let such an one take heed, for he speaks as did Peter, and with a heart like Peter's; and it may be, if this self-confidence continues, that the Lord will permit him, in chastisement and for discipline, to fall in the very way he thought the most impossible, even as He did with Peter.
How little the believer knows the depth of evil within him! The Lord Jesus knows it all, and yet it alters not His love, for that love has provided a sure remedy, and that remedy is Himself.
He walks most safely, who walks conscious that there is no evil into which he would not fall, but for the preserving grace of Christ. He only is truly strong, who is strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. "Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." "In me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing." "Without Me you can do nothing"
The conscious need of the believer is one of his highest claims upon his Lord's omnipotence. It is that experience of soul which most prevails with Jesus, and moves Him to send forth His choicest covenant blessings.
And so, O Lord! my prayer to You is, "Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117
~ ~ ~ ~
You are going home to Jesus!
"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!" Isaiah 41:10
True, the wilderness path is strange and trying, and you are weak and weary and can not see one step before you, but Jesus is with you. Look to Him, and fear not. The path is not strange to Him—He knows it well, and He is with you in it.
Do you say that it is a lonely path? But remember that He is with you, therefore you can never be alone, for He will never leave you. He knows that you are weary, but He is with you. Lean on Him—His arm is your support. Lean on it—lean hard—you can never weary Him, He is your everlasting strength.
Do you say that you meet with none who truly understand you, none who truly sympathize with you. But Jesus is with you. He understands you, He knows you—He knew you from eternity past. Before He created the world and all that is therein, your name was written in His book of life and engraved on His hands. He knows you and He knows the difficult path you take. He fashioned you, He called you His own, and planned this way that you should walk with Him therein, and learn how deep His sympathy and love are.
Do you look around, and do thoughts cause your tears to flow? But look to Him; He is with you, your joy, your light, your peace. Be of good cheer, "let not your heart be troubled."
Remember, too, that you are going home! Every step shortens the homeward journey. In a very little while, and you will be home—home with Jesus—home forever!
You are now a traveler, a pilgrim—but you are going home to Jesus! There you will behold Him, be like Him, and share His glory forever and ever! Then fear not, for Jesus says:
"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!"
~ ~ ~ ~
One of their most marked peculiarities
"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:24, 25
True believers are a peculiar people in many ways. One of their most marked peculiarities is the constant presence of two opposing influences within them:
One of these influences moves them to desire earthly good as the chief end of life.
The other moves them to seek those things which are above, and to find the chief end of life in a growing intimacy with Christ, and in the consecration to Him of all that they are or have.
In every step in the inner life of grace the believer is sure to find a hindering influence in the consciousness and longings of his carnal and earthly nature. But if he is looking unto the Lord Jesus for strength, crying unto Him for help against the foe, while no encouragement is willingly allowed to sin, he will find that grace is given according to his need, and that the opposing influence of the earthly nature is not only overcome, but that it is overruled to work for his good, in bringing him nearer to Christ, and teaching him, more than ever, the all-sufficiency of His grace, and His readiness to help.
~ ~ ~ ~
"He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice." John 10:4
Child of God, that path is not untrodden into which your sometimes reluctant feet are guided. The good Shepherd goes before you. Jesus, the Father's Shepherd over the Father's sheep, knows every step. He sees every danger—the end as well as the beginning is marked out by Him. Therefore in that path, however trying and unexpected, all is, all will be well.
"He goes before them"—then looking to Him, they cannot go wrong. The path of duty is where He leads in His providence, and directs by His Word; for in His providence He gives the opportunities for action, and in His Word He gives the principles by which to act.
The path of duty is ever the path of safety, for there—and there only, "He goes before them."
Why should the disciple fear and be dismayed, why be doubtful, and wavering, and discouraged? The path He points out, judged by sense and not by faith, may seem more difficult and more uncertain in its outcome, and be more opposed to his own wishes; but if it is the path of duty, it matters not how sure and desirable other ways may appear to be; in this and this only can it be said, "He goes before them," and therefore in no other way but this can blessing be experienced, and blessing be the outcome.
The path may be dark and trying at the beginning, but it will be light and joyful at the end. Whereas, however light and joyful other ways may appear to be at the outset, there will be darkness and sorrow at the end, with the knowledge of time lost, and the right way to be sought at last amidst increasing difficulties. But even then the right way is well sought, though late and amidst increasing difficulties; for being at last the right one, He now goes before, and all is well.
It is better, however, never to go out of His way—so shall our joy abound, and our path ever be as the ways of pleasantness, and the paths of peace—for "He goes before."
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28
~ ~ ~ ~
"Grow in grace." 2 Peter 3:18
Believers can judge as to their growth by comparing their present experience with that of years ago, and considering whether the Lord Jesus is more a reality to them as their refuge, their friend, their helper, and their Lord. Also, whether there is a growing distaste for those things that hinder fellowship with Him, and a more ardent desire after whatever has been found helpful to growth in the knowledge of Him, and likeness to Him. Also, whether they are more self-distrustful, and more Christ-trustful, and more content with Him and His providential disposal of all things concerning them.
Spiritual growth, like physical growth, results from living upon suitable food, and avoiding whatever is injurious to health. To live to the pleasing of the flesh is always injurious to spiritual health; whereas, to live daily a life of faith upon Christ, seeking continually to be strong in the grace that is in Him, and to act in all things according to His Word, is the sure way to promote spiritual health and growth.
Growth downward into a deeper experience of spiritual things, in close heart-walk with the Lord Jesus—will result in a fuller manifestation of healthy fruit. A superficial rooting can never produce a very prosperous tree, though it may make a very showy appearance for a time.
In the Lord's garden no two plants are alike—so many things exist to make each a special object with Him, that it is never well to judge ourselves in comparison with others.
~ ~ ~ ~
The ever-sympathizing, ever-loving Man; the ever-gracious, ever-loving God!
"I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever!" Revelation 1:18
He "was dead "—mark that. These words mean much—they tell you that Jesus as a man trod the path of earthly life, experiencing
its trials, its weaknesses,
its necessities, its sorrows,
and then—He died.
Oh, how well He understands what human life is, and how well able to sympathize with and support you, for remember He now lives, and lives forevermore—the ever-sympathizing, ever-loving Man; the ever-gracious, ever-loving God, in one person.
Be then of good cheer—nothing can do you harm since Jesus lives, for He is yours, and you are His.
~ ~ ~ ~
"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7
Yet many believers are walking for the most part by sight and not by faith, very much to the discomfort of their souls, and to the hindrance of their growth in spiritual life and spiritual understanding.
But if they walked by faith in Christ, by faith in His watchful and constant care for them, and in the assurance that nothing can befall them but what His love and grace ordains, and did by faith walk with Him in the path He appoints—their hearts would be filled with confidence and peace.
~ ~ ~ ~
"My meditation of Him shall be sweet." Psalm 104:34
A believer never need be without pleasant and sweet thoughts, if the Lord Jesus is the subject of his meditation.
How sweet to meditate on His everlasting love to His people—so astonishing, so fervent, so pure, so changeless.
How sweet to meditate on His unfailing faithfulness amidst all the ever changeful circumstances of life, and the too frequent changefulness of earthly friends.
How sweet to meditate on His life on earth, so gentle, so kind, so holy, so self-denying, so perfect as a servant in carrying out his Father's eternal purposes of love in bringing many sons unto glory.
How sweet to meditate on His constant presence with His people, who laid down His life for them, and who watches over their every step, with a care and an interest far beyond that of any earthly mother for her only child.
How sweet to meditate on His second coming, when we shall see Him, and be made like Him, and realize the blessedness of being with the Lord forever!
How sweet to meditate on His eternal presence in the midst of the eternally loved family, in the glorious family home above—its leader, its teacher, its joy forever.
Truly my meditation of Him is sweet!
~ ~ ~ ~
The right thing is sure to be done at the right time, and in the right way!
"Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious unto you." Isaiah 30:18
The Lord Jesus is never in a hurry. However much unbelief may desire to hasten His hand—He still abides His own time. Omnipotence can afford to wait, because it is always sure of success; and when that omnipotence is combined with infinite love and wisdom, the right thing is sure to be done at the right time, and in the right way!
Sometimes the Lord waits until it is quite dark before He breaks forth in refreshing and delivering and directing light and grace. The dusk becomes more gloomy, and yet He waits. He waits to be gracious. He waits His own opportunity; and then, when twilight has ceased and it is night, when . . .
all plans are frustrated,
all hopes disappointed,
no help seems near,
and darkness thickens—
then He shines forth suddenly and gloriously, and there is light abundant. The deliverance is complete and the way made plain to the end.
Thus it is that patient perseverance in the path of duty, amidst many and great difficulties, often results through the Lord's grace in more complete and unexpected success than could otherwise have been accomplished. Therefore, believer, do what you can, and when the right time comes the Lord's hand will be manifest, for He "waits to be gracious unto you."
~ ~ ~ ~
Deep love creates deep interest in the very least things that pertain to the object loved
"The very hairs of your head are all numbered." Matthew 10:30
How well He knows us!
How much He cares for us!
Deep love creates deep interest in the very least things that pertain to the object loved. Oh, what love is His! How deep is His interest in us, as the very hairs of our head are all numbered. As the all-seeing God, He knows everything everywhere; but He knows us and everything pertaining to us in a special, and particular, and gracious, and fatherly manner.
Two emphatic words here denote the particularity of the love, and the universality of its interest:
"Your" as distinct from those who are not His own.
"All," as showing that not even a little one is unnoticed.
We, however, cease to wonder at our Father's special and watchful care for us in little things, when we remember that He gave His Son, His only-begotten Son for us!
If such minute things as the hairs of our head are a special object of thought to Him—then how much more the varied things of daily life which have such an influence over our lives for good or evil. Let us then trust in Him at all times, and let our expectation be continually from Him.
~ ~ ~ ~
A heart experience of constant need continually and abundantly met by the fullness which is in Christ Jesus
"He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:31
Those most glory in the Lord Jesus, who most make Him their all—for such find Him to be what they make Him, namely, their all.
Glorying in the Lord comes not from a mere intellectual knowledge of Him, but from a heart experience of constant need continually and abundantly met by the fullness which is in Christ Jesus.
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and that heart which is filled with Christ will give forth, as from a living fountain, praise and glory to His most holy name.
Whatever hinders this glorying in the Lord is of the flesh; and no greater hindrance is there than being occupied with self in any of its various forms, such as . . .
self-vileness, or self-righteousness,
self-hardness, or self-obedience,
self-hating, or self-pleasing.
To a heart full of Christ, self is never a subject of consideration. Such a one is occupied with Christ, and looks at all things from the perspective of Christ, and evermore glories in Him, whatever be the path of providence into which He may lead His beloved one. "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."
~ ~ ~ ~
The tighter they are grasped, the sooner they wither and perish
Closeness to Jesus, not only includes wider separation from everything that would draw us away from Him, but often an acquaintance with those things that make this world still more a wilderness than before.
When Jesus, however, really becomes all to the believer, life is such a very different thing. Then all earthly things, and earthly joys, even the most innocent and desirable—are held with a loose grasp; so that when it pleases Him to remove them, the already loosened grasp makes it easier to let them go. If the tear does fall, it is soon wiped away by His loving and gentle hand. If the heart does feel a wound, it is soon alleviated by Him who delights to comfort those who mourn, and to lift up those that be bowed down.
Earth's fairest flowers should ever have Christ for their root. Severed from Him they soon lose their fragrance. The tighter they are grasped, the sooner they wither and perish, leaving nothing but thorns behind.
~ ~ ~ ~
A Christ to lean upon
"Return unto your rest, O my soul." Psalm 116:7
We cannot ourselves decide what is best for our ultimate good, and it is therefore a comfort to know that we are in the hands of One who is as able as He is willing to decide for us.
It is certain that all His dealings with His people are but to make Himself more a necessity and a reality to them. This result is produced when physical weakness and perplexing circumstances make us more fully conscious of our complete inability to help ourselves.
Christ likes to be to His people, a Christ to lean upon. Not merely a Christ to be worshiped, a Christ to be followed, a Christ to be preached, but especially a Christ to be leaned upon. He is a Christ for weary and needy souls. This is His glory, and this is our blessing. Whatever therefore brings us nearer to Him as a helpful Christ, is a messenger of love.
When the Lord deals very specially with any child of His, bringing that child very low, He means that the result shall be special blessing. The voice of all His dealings with us is, "Come nearer to Me!" Did He not love us, He would not desire this.
~ ~ ~ ~
"Nevertheless I am continually with You! You hold me by my right hand." Psalm 73:23
This is the utterance of a faith which triumphs over contradictory circumstances and contradictory experiences.
Believer in Jesus, bear in mind that this "nevertheless" stands firm for you also, whatever may be the "although" of adverse circumstances and experiences you put before it.
Because of the covenant faithfulness of Him in whose hand of grace and love you are, you can truly say:
Although I am weak and helpless, "Nevertheless I am continually with You."
Although I am vile and undeserving, "Nevertheless I am continually with You."
Although I am so foolish and prone to wander, "Nevertheless I am continually with You."
Although trials and afflictions beset me, "Nevertheless I am continually with You."
Although all forsake me, "Nevertheless I am continually with You."
Although I cannot realize Your presence, "Nevertheless I am continually with You."
Thus, whatever may be your "although," let the "nevertheless" of your faith always triumph, for . . .
the grasp of Christ's hand never slackens,
the power of Christ's arm never fails,
the love of Christ's heart never changes.
~ ~ ~ ~
The path is always open and always free!
Christian! Always remember that all grace, and all light, and all joy is for you in a Person, and that Person is Jesus:
Jesus your Savior,
Jesus your Friend,
Jesus your Helper, and
Jesus your constant companion.
The Lord Jesus never places anything between your heart's need, and Himself.
The path is always open and always free.
~ ~ ~ ~
In the darkest path, faith knows that there is . . .
an omniscient eye watching that never slumbers;
a omnipotent hand working that never wearies;
a loving heart that never changes;
and that both eye, and hand, and heart are, through sovereign grace, engaged in completing the work that grace began.
~ ~ ~ ~
The streams of grace never cease flowing, for . . .
Jehovah is the fountain whence they spring,
and Jesus the channel in which they run,
and needy hearts are the vessels they fill.
Oh! for a heart steadfastly fixed on Him, whose heart is so fixed in unchanging love on us.
How slow we are in following Christ! Oh! how impossible it sometimes seems to overcome that natural unlikeness to Christ which we still possess.
How difficult to avoid doing all things to please self, to exalt self—self with its leanings, and longings, and gratifications, and plans, and dislikes.
Believing in the same Lord Jesus as an ever-present friend and sure helper, brings the joy and peace of fellowship. This results in a sure hope of full deliverance from every evil, and a quiet waiting for the Lord's time and way.
The Holy Spirit is ever working within, when the thoughts are quietly and trustfully fixed on Jesus. A believing and trusting heart is to the Holy Spirit a palace of delight, where He rejoices to heap up His hidden treasures, and unfold his deeper secrets. These treasures, these secrets are all in Christ Jesus. Yes, it is all "in believing," believing and trusting as a little child.
Leaning on Him, looking to Him, and walking with Him in conscious need, and conscious fellowship, our path will be as the morning light which shines more and more to the perfect day.
Christian! In Jesus alone can you realize a sufficiency for every need, both for time and eternity.
~ ~ ~ ~
Jesus Himself is for our heart, trust, and love
In weakness and affliction, how precious it is to know that we have a Person to look to—a Person to lean upon; and that Person such a gracious and faithful friend as the Lord Jesus, who loved us so much as to die to save us. However much the mind may be interested in doctrines, nothing satisfies the heart but the consciousness of the sympathy and love of a real living friend, such as the Lord Jesus is. Doctrine is for our instruction and belief—Jesus Himself is for our heart, trust, and love.
Jesus is not a friend for sunny hours only, but also when the storm comes, and the thick black cloud, for He is in both storm and cloud with His ever-ready hand and His ever-loving heart. No changing providences imply any change in Him. All glory be to His name for evermore!
~ ~ ~ ~
We should make heart-work of all our dealings with Christ and doings for Christ. Many professors say and do, without the heart being engaged. As the heart is—so are we before the Lord. We may be very religious, very active, very faithful among our fellows and be much loved by them—and yet be very, very far from pleasing the Lord.
There may be a correct walk, according to man's judgment, without a correct heart. The trees of the Lord's planting bear fruit as the result of a good root—a heart rooted in Christ.
The Apostle Paul could say, "For me to live is Christ," because he could say, "Christ lives in me." The fruit of his life was Christ, because the root of his life was Christ.
~ ~ ~ ~
You may say, "How can I be sure that I am in Christ?"
Very easily. The Word of God gives its judgment concerning those who are in Christ by declaring that "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new."
The great distinction here is the new creature, or new creation. This new creation, or new life, is distinguished by its manifestations. The heart that possesses this new life has sorrows and joys and desires peculiar to itself.
It has SORROW because of spiritual failure and unfaithfulness.
It has sorrow because of cold-heartedness and lack of deeper interest in Divine things.
It has sorrow because of the ease with which the mind slides away from the consideration of spiritual things, to busy itself with the lesser matters, even the trifles of the day.
It has sorrow because of weariness, and wandering of thought in prayer.
It has sorrow because it is unable to read or meditate on holy things with more profit.
It has sorrow in so soon forgetting what is learned.
It has sorrow because the things known have so little influence in the heart and life.
These are some of the peculiar sorrows of the heart that possesses the new life—the sorrows of those who are in Christ.
The heart that possesses this new life has also its peculiar JOYS. The "old things" of the world are no longer the sources of highest joy, but the "new things" of the gospel kingdom, the kingdom of grace and love. It counts it one of its highest joys to have a realized interest in God's salvation, and to realize in daily life the presence and love of the Lord Jesus.
Its ruling DESIRES, too, are not after the "old things" of a world-pleasing or carnal-pleasing nature—but after Christ . . .
to live for Him,
to be what He would wish,
to do what He would desire,
and thus better to know and love and serve Him.
This is the judgment of the Word of God concerning those who are "in Christ." The subjects of this new creation are the objects of God's everlasting love—and because they are so, He created them anew by His Holy Spirit, making them the subjects of His grace here, and the objects of eternal glory hereafter.
Is this so with you? Then you have indeed a sure foundation for eternity—a firm foundation whereon to build an assured hope of future glory. You are among the number of those whom the Father has given to the Lord Jesus to be the objects of His watchful and ceaseless care in this life, and hereafter to be presented by Him, faultless, before His glorious presence in Heaven.
~ ~ ~ ~
What believers need for their continued comfort and peace, is to be daily receiving Christ, not only as their Savior, but as their ever-living friend and helper.
You need to have an unwavering assurance of present salvation, and a bright and assured hope of future glory. You need the consciousness of possessing a faithful friend always with you, who can understand and help you, and overrule all things for your good; one who loves you truly, and whose love nothing can alter.
~ ~ ~ ~
What He has done for you is the result of a love without beginning and without end
The Lord Jesus did not die merely to make salvation possible for sinners, if they would but truly repent, and trust in Him, and persevere in faithfulness to the end of life.
He died, not to make salvation possible, but to make it certain, for all whom the Father gave Him. His death ensures that all such shall receive grace to repent and believe, and persevere to the end.
What He has done for you is the result of a love without beginning and without end. Whom He loves, He loves always; notwithstanding all the changes, and perverseness, and unworthiness of the object loved.
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Some things to be remembered!
The Apostle Paul speaks of "putting in mind." The Apostle Peter also says, "I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you know them;" and again, "I think it fit to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance." It is as needful now as in the days of the apostles, for believers to stir up one another by putting each other in remembrance of truths already known. Therefore—
Remember that your salvation is an accomplished fact which nothing can alter.
Remember that your salvation was accomplished when the Lord Jesus died; for by His death was removed the condemnation which your sins deserved.
Remember that you have nothing whatever to do to make the death of Christ effectual for your salvation; for it was made effectual for you personally by God your Father, when, in covenant with His beloved Son, He laid all your iniquities upon Him who bore them in His own body on the cross.
Remember it was because His death was effectual for your salvation you were brought by the Holy Spirit's quickening influence (which quickening influence is one of the blessings resulting from salvation already provided) to see your need of this salvation, and your utter hopelessness without it.
Remember that your salvation was not accomplished because of any foreknowledge on God's part that you would, as an awakened sinner, have a desire for reconciliation, and a desire after Christ. This desire for reconciliation, and this desire after Christ, are also blessings resulting from salvation already provided, and cannot, therefore, be any conditions to procure it. They are God's gracious gift; He foreknowing that you would never have any true desires after Christ, until He awakened those desires by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Remember that no tears of sorrow for sin, no prayers, no duties of any kind whatever—could have removed you from the position of a guilty criminal before justice, and have left you simply in the position of a child before a loving Father; but that this has been solely the doing of the glorious Three in One—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in covenant—whereby Christ Himself took the criminal position as your substitute, that you might take your place as a child, and look up to God as your Father, seeking daily forgiveness for daily sins from Him as your loving and gracious Father.
Remember that your Father readily gives more abundantly the Holy Spirit to His reconciled children, that they may better understand what He has done for them, and what the Lord Jesus has done for them; and to enable them to look more and more to the Lord Jesus, now at the right hand of God, so that they may receive from Him that grace which will enable them better to love and serve Him.
Remember that the evidence that salvation is yours, and, consequently, that all the good things of the covenant of grace are yours, and that Christ Himself is yours, rests on God's pledged word.
That word is pledged on behalf of all sinners who are conscious of their guilt, and of their need of Christ, and who trust in Him for all their salvation. That word declares that they shall never perish, and that all the blessings of the covenant of grace are theirs (John 3:16; Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Philippians 1:6).
You know that through grace you have been made conscious of your guilt and of your need of Christ, and that you rest only in the precious blood of Christ for salvation. Therefore to you is God's Word pledged, and that Word is unchangeable.
These are a few of the blessings which are yours; and if you have them in constant remembrance, you cannot fail to have much comfort thereby, through the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit. Nor can you fail to render grateful praise, in heart and life, to the God of all grace, who has thus loaded you with benefits.
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The most prominent truths, with their effects in experience and practice, which the Holy Spirit usually teaches out of His Word to the soul that, notwithstanding every hindrance, really follows on to know the Lord, are as follows:
First. The soul experiences a state of unrest from a knowledge of its guilt before God, and inability to obey His law, and procure peace and salvation by its own efforts.
Second. The soul becomes conscious that salvation is through Christ alone, because of His bearing the curse of the law instead of the guilty, and thus looks only to Him, trusts only in Him. This soul is saved though it may not have the full assurance of a higher experience, or a spiritual understanding of the deep things of God.
Third. The soul learns its full acceptance, as well as full deliverance in Christ. It learns its standing in perfect and changeless righteousness before God, and rejoices with thankfulness in having been already made fit for the heavenly inheritance (Colossians 1:12).
Fourth. The soul further learns that salvation is not merely the manifestation of God's mercy to undeserving sinners, but the manifestation of a Father's love for His wandering and ruined children, for whom He has made all needful provision, so that they might at last reach the family home above, which His Fatherly love had provided for them. The soul now begins to realize sonship as well as salvation, and consciously takes its position as a child of God.
Fifth. The soul learns that salvation and its attendant blessings are the result of covenant arrangements between the Father and the Son before the world was; arrangements in which the Holy Spirit also had His part and office; and that nothing can hinder the full accomplishment of the Father's purposes of everlasting love concerning His chosen family.
Sixth. The soul now begins to realize that it is one with Christ in all that Christ is, and has, as the first-born among many brethren, and their representative before the Father.
Seventh. The soul becomes more fully conscious of a hidden life before God, which is more its real life than its outward life among its fellows—a life of daily heart-communion with the risen and ascended—yet ever-present Jesus, as a loving friend and ever-ready helper in all the incidents, and duties, and trials of the daily path; earnestly desiring in all things to please Him and live to His glory; walking also in daily communion with the Father in a loving yet reverential manner, realizing His presence and love as that of a real Father, and earnestly desiring to live always as becomes the child of such a Father.
Such are some of the more prominent truths of the Word of God, which the Holy Spirit generally leads the soul into the experimental knowledge of.
Alas! how few understand the glorious privileges given them by the God of grace and love!
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He will never leave any sinner to die unquickened
The Holy Spirit never fails in due time to quicken with new life, all those whom Christ redeemed from the curse of the law by being made a curse for them.
He will never leave any sinner to die unquickened, for whom Jesus died.
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Our needs are particularly ordained by the Lord for each of His children, with a view to the particular spiritual training of each. Wisely and graciously He works, and with untiring discernment as to what is best suited for each, for He well knows that what is suitable for one will not be suitable for another. No two of His dearly loved ones have been led in exactly the same path of experience, although all are led by the hand of the same Father, and by the hand of the same Friend and Savior, the Lord Jesus (John 10:28, 29).
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Often His best and most blessed help is not in the exercise of His power to deliver, but in the gift of His grace to bear—not in the removal of tribulation, but in giving joy in the midst thereof.
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It is a cause for thankfulness if the Lord Jesus does not permit us to lean on any creature whatever. When we keep quite close to Him and do not even expect rest in anything or anybody else, nothing will move us. Let us then ever remember that Jesus is always with us. We have not to make His presence a fact, but to live conscious of that which is already and always a fact. We rest on that, and what our lips cannot even whisper forth of the struggling within, let our heart speak in silent communings with that loving One, who well knows all we are, and all we feel.
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It is when His perfect power meets our perfect weakness, and His greater grace our deeper ill-desert--that both His power and grace obtain their highest glory in us.
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Avoid all unnecessary things that have a tendency to lead you astray from Jesus.
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True believers are often wretched because they are not what they want to be. They doubt their sincerity because they see so many evils within, some of which, to their great grief, occasionally find an outlet in the daily life.
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It is always well to look above second causes for the secret reason of things, and to the believer such secret reason is ever found in that eternal love which chose him in Christ Jesus before the world was. That love, in union with infinite wisdom, plans all the path of grace, and all the path of providence to the end of the journey here.
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The great cause of the lack of spirituality of mind in believers is that they do not live in daily life as before the Lord, walking as in His presence with a sincere heart, being perfectly sincere before Him, perfectly open with Him in all things, and sincerely desirous of growing in the knowledge of Him.
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It is well to remember that the best help, in every season of need, is the realized presence and love of Jesus
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The heart of God the Father is ever full of love to all His chosen, redeemed, regenerate children. He loves them with an everlasting love. It is love from all eternity to all eternity.
If you would have full joy in Him, and constant strength for all from Him--then you must make much use of Him, as your living and ever-watchful, ever-present friend.
By bringing your need to Him, you not only obtain help, but you give Him glory by acknowledging Him thus, as your only hope and helper. Be intimate and constant in your dealings with Him, as the special friend and helper given you by your Father to be your guide, and strength, and joy all through life.
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Ever remember that this power of the Holy Spirit is given to believers to enable them to look more to Christ, to live more upon Christ, and to realize more fully the presence and love of Christ, and to receive more grace out of the fullness of Christ; for the power by which to live to God, and walk in faithfulness and victory, is the power and grace of Christ!
A Believer should look to the Lord Jesus and walk in fellowship with Him, as One who, though invisible, is yet personally watching over him as his almighty, ever-gracious, wise, and loving friend.
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The religion of the Gospel is the religion of sanctified common sense that can give a reason for things, because guided by the plain teachings of God's Word.
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The believer carries within him, a foe as artful and deceitful as any outside, but more annoying and more untiring than those outside, because this enemy within is ever at hand and always ready to seize every opportunity to manifest its evil propensities.
Our hearts are ever a sowing and a growing ground. We may be assured that if the wheat is not growing luxuriantly within--then the tares are springing up a prolific crop.
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Our most earnest desire in fellowship with other believers should be increased fellowship with Jesus, increased knowledge of Him, increased likeness to Him, increased love for Him, and a fuller consecration to His service.