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Our great lesson!

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Our great lesson!

(James Smith, “The Pastor’s Morning Visit”)
“I will¬†instruct¬†you.” Psalm 32:8
At best we know but little, and we are slow to learn. 
But the Lord has promised to instruct us. 
The Lord’s teaching always produces . . .
  humility,
  self-loathing,
  confidence in God,
  zeal for His glory, and
  heart devotion to Him!

The Lord’s teaching always . . .
  brings us to the feet of Jesus, and
  delivers us from the present evil world. 

Under Divine instruction we learn . . .
  the true nature of sin,
  the vanity of the world,
  the emptiness of creatures, and
  the fullness and preciousness of Christ!

Is God willing to instruct us? 
Then let us be early and often at His throne of grace, praying, as the Psalmist did, 
Show me Your ways, O LORD,
 teach me Your paths;
 guide me in Your truth and teach me;
¬†for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5¬†

Then shall we exclaim, as Elihu did, 
“God is exalted in His power.¬†Who is a teacher like Him!”¬†Job 36:22¬†

The Lord will teach us to profit, and sanctify us through the truth He imparts. 

Christ is
 our great lesson, and to know Him rightly is life, peace and joy!

Is Jesus your Teacher? Then . . .
  sit at His feet,
  treasure up His Words, 
  and show forth His praise! 

He says, “Learn of Me.” Learn to . . .
  know Him,
  love Him,
  obey Him, and
  live upon Him!

Teach¬†me Your way, O LORD;¬†lead¬†me in a straight path!” Psalm 27:11¬†

We begin at the lowest grade

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We begin at the lowest grade

(J.R. Miller, 1909)

Learn from Me–for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

All of Christian life is a school. “Learn from Me,” said the Master. We are only beginners when we first become Christians, and enter Christ’s school. We begin at the lowest grade. We do not have to wait until we know a great deal before we begin to attend school. School is not for finished scholars, but for the most ignorant. We may come to Christ when we know almost nothing. He is the teacher, and all believers are learners. 

“Learn from Me–for I am gentle.” Gentleness is a lesson which we are to learn. It will probably take us a good long while to learn this lesson, but we must learn it because it is in Christ’s curriculum for all His students.

Contentment is another lesson which we must learn. When he was well along in life, Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” It was a long and difficult lesson for him to learn. 

Patience is a lesson that has to be learned. 
An impatient person is not a complete Christian. 

Thoughtfulness is a necessary lesson. There are a great many thoughtless Christians. They are always blundering in their interactions with others. They say the wrong word, they do the wrong thing. They are always hurting other people’s feelings, giving pain to gentle hearts. Yet it is all from thoughtlessness. “I didn’t mean to offend him. I didn’t mean to be unkind. I just never thought!” There are few lessons in Christian life that more people need to learn, than this of thoughtfulness.

We have to learn to trust. Worry is a sin. It is probably as great a sin as dishonesty or profanity or bad temper. Yet a good many Christian people worry, and one of the most important lessons in Christ’s school, is to learn not to worry. 

Kindness is a lesson we must learn. It takes many years to learn the one little lesson of kindness.

Joy is a lesson to be learned. 

Peace is another. 

Humility is another necessary lesson. 

Praise is a great lesson. 

All of life is a school
, and it is in learning these lessons that Jesus says we shall find rest for your souls. Christ Himself is our teacher, and with Him we should never fail to learn, though it be only slowly. Then as we learn our lessons, our lives will grow continually more and more into quietness, peace and Christlikeness.

The Joy Of The Christian

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‚ÄúThe Christian is not superficial in any sense, but is fundamentally serious and fundamentally happy. You see, the joy of the Christian is a holy joy, the happiness of the Christian is a serious happiness. … it is a solemn joy, it is a holy joy, it is a serious happiness; so that, though he is grave and sober-minded and serious, he is never cold and prohibitive.‚Ä̬†
‚Äē¬†David Martyn Lloyd-Jones,¬†Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Have you learned your lesson so badly?

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Have you learned your lesson so badly?

(George Mylne, “Lessons for the Christian’s Daily Walk” 1859)
“All is¬†vexation¬†of spirit!” Ecclesiastes 1:14

Who has not felt vexation?
Who knows not what it means?

The infant in its cradle,
the schoolboy at his play,
youth in all its vitality,
manhood in its prime,
and especially old age
all, all have felt vexation!

My soul,¬†you¬†know it well! Your sins, your fallen nature, your infirmities–all lay you open to¬†vexation.¬†
How easily irritated you get! 
How quick to feel offenses! 
How swift to gather sorrows to yourself through your excess of sensitivity!
Often have you murmured at your lot, rising in mutiny against your Maker! 
How often has your patience failed! 
What trifles have often wounded you! 
Some scheme of pleasure has been thwarted–and you were quite vexed!¬†
A rainy day, or even some trifling inconvenience–has often ruffled your composure.¬†
How often a kind reproof, a friendly warning–some¬†imagined¬†slight–a look–a smile withheld, and yet with no intention of unkindness–has filled you with vexation!¬†
How often has . . .
  wounded pride; 
  a humbling sense of your infirmities;
  a deep conviction of your lack of judgment; 
¬† the fear of standing low in man’s opinion
–vexed you beyond expression!¬†

My soul, you are not singular in your vexation. 
Go where you will, you will find it. 
The world is full of vexation.¬†“All is vexation of spirit!”

This does not mean that . . .
 woes may lawfully be brooded over, or 
 sense of injuries may be cherished in the soul, or 
 that morbid feelings may be indulged in, or 
¬†that moody silence, brooding vexation, and carking care–are healthful for the soul! Oh, no!¬†

If God is true, if Scripture precept has its weight, and promises their meaning–then vexation, O my soul, should have no part in you! Open you must be to its trials day by day. But . . .
  where is your grace; 
  where is your holiness; 
  where is your consistency; 
  where is your strength, your comfort, and your steadfastness
–if you are¬†conquered¬†by vexation?

Have you, then, learned of Christ, the lowly and the meek One–and not found rest for your soul? (Matthew 11:29.)¬†Have you learned your lesson so badly?¬†Go, learn it over again. Fight, then, against this¬†habit of vexation. Give it no place within you. Look to the Comforter to help you. Taste the tranquility of God. Take every trial, as it rises, to Jesus, your Savior-Friend. Then¬†peace¬†shall be your portion–not¬†vexation.

“Peace I leave with you;¬†My peace¬†I give you.
 I do not give to you as the world gives.
¬†Do not let your hearts be¬†troubled, and do not be afraid!” John 14:27¬†

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,¬†
¬†will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus!” Philippians 4:7

A life-giving stream for parched pilgrims!

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A life-giving stream for parched pilgrims!

The¬†Word¬†and the¬†Spirit¬†are so intimately conjoined, that we are scarcely warranted in thinking of the one without the other. The Word does not operate without the Spirit’s agency; and the Spirit does not work apart from the Word.

It was by the Spirit’s¬†inspiration¬†that the Word was first given, for “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

It is by the Spirit that we are enlightened (Ephesians 1:17, 18), yet the Word is the means He employs. 

It is by the Spirit that we are sanctified (Romans 15:16), yet not apart from the Truth (John 17:17). 

It is by the Spirit, that we are strengthened (Ephesians 3:16) as He causes the Word to dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16). 

It is by the Spirit, that we are comforted (Acts 9:31) as He applies the Divine promises to our hearts. 

How appropriate, then, that the¬†grand instrument¬†employed by the¬†Spirit¬†of grace, should be termed “the¬†Word¬†of His grace.”

The “Word¬†of His grace” proclaims . . .
  rest for the weary,
  pardon to the guilty,
  justification to the ungodly,
  adoption to the outcast,
  eternal heavenly treasures for spiritual paupers! 

It is “the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind” who are to be called to the feast which free grace has spread! (Luke 14:13)

“The Word of His grace” not only instructs us where grace is to be found, and how further supplies of it are to be obtained–but it is the principal medium through which grace is actually imparted to the soul. It is¬†a life-giving stream for parched pilgrims–as they journey through this “wilderness of sin.”¬†

As its sacred pages are reverently perused–
  the mind is instructed,
  the conscience is enlightened,
  the affections are warmed,
  and the will is moved. 

As its exceeding great and precious¬†promises¬†are meditated upon and treasured up in the heart–new strength is imparted to the soul.¬†

As its holy¬†precepts¬†are turned into earnest prayer–help is obtained for the discharge of duty.¬†

As its timely¬†warnings¬†and admonitions are heeded–temptations lose their power and the snares of Satan are avoided.

As its cheering revelation of what God has prepared for those who love Him is received by faith–new hope is kindled in the heart, and the trials of life are borne with greater fortitude. And as the end of the journey is neared–death loses its terrors and the call to leave this “valley of tears” becomes more desirable.¬†

Without “the Word of His grace” we would be¬†mariners upon the sea of life–without chart or compass!
 
“Now I commit you to God and to¬†the Word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified!” Acts 20:32¬†

The transforming power of the Spirit!

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The transforming power of the Spirit!

(J.C. Ryle, “The Lord’s Garden“)
“To all those in Rome who are¬†loved¬†by God and¬†called¬†to be saints.” Romans 1:7

Believers are separated from the world by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit calls them out from the world, and separates them as effectually as if a wall were built between them and it. He puts in them . . .
  new hearts,
  new minds,
  new tastes,
  new desires,
  new sorrows,
  new joys,
  new wishes,
  new pleasures,
  new longings.

He gives them . . . 
  new eyes,
  new ears,
  new affections,
  new opinions. 

He makes them¬†new creatures. They are born again–and with a new birth they begin a new existence. Mighty indeed is¬†the transforming power of the Spirit!

No longer will there be any curse!

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No longer will there be any curse!

(Maria Sandberg, “Glimpses of Heaven!” 1880)

“No longer will there be any curse!” Revelation 22:3¬†
Our beautiful world, filled with the wonderful works of God, bears evident traces¬†that it is not what it was created at first. It bears everywhere, the marks of a great change–which change is accounted for in the Bible by the fall of Adam. God made everything very good–but man sinned, and¬†the curse¬†came upon himself and the whole creation! Though still beautiful, yet how much is its beauty¬†marred¬†and¬†defaced!¬†Now, thorns and thistles spring up, where once were only lovely flowers and sweet fruits. The wild beasts of the forest, though still beautiful in outward form–now possess violent and ferocious dispositions; and the beasts of¬†burden¬†groan under the tyranny of man. Man himself is subject to labor and toil, to sorrow and sickness and death. Even his most innocent enjoyments are marred by sin!

But thanks be to God, the promise of¬†deliverance from the curse¬†sounds in our ears in this blessed Scripture, “No longer will there be any curse!” Where then, is this land of blessing and perfection? It is that¬†Paradise¬†which Christ has gone to prepare for His people; that “Rest¬†which remains for the people of God.”¬†

Here on earth, even our very blessings are mixed with signs of the curse. 
But there shall be no more curse in our Heavenly home:
  no more toil and labor,
  no more weariness and faintness,
  no more hunger or thirst,
  no more bitter cold or burning heat,
  no more disappointment, 
  no more sorrow,
  no more pain,
  no more sickness, 
  no more death! 

In Heaven there shall be no more curse, but all will be the perfection of bliss. Who can conceive the happiness of such a state? For this, the whole creation groans and travails in pain, eagerly waiting for its consummation.

Let us, then, who have such exceedingly great and precious promises, when sighing under the¬†effects¬†of the curse in any of its forms–gladly turn our thoughts to meditate on Heaven’s glorious realities! And when admiring the beautiful works of God, which still exist to show us what they once were–let us also turn our thoughts to the greater beauty and glory of our Paradise above!

One reason why the church has so little influence over the world

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One reason why the church has so little influence over the world

(Charles Spurgeon)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!” Romans 12:2 

I believe that one reason why the church has so little influence over the world–is because the world has so much influence over the church!

It is overwhelming to see the growing worldliness of the visible church. Many professed Christians–the Lord alone knows whether they are true believers or not–give us grave cause for apprehension. We see them tolerating practices which would not have been endured by their fathers; my blood chills when I think of how far some fashionable professors go astray!

When the Church descends to the world’s level, her spiritual power is gone. Jesus said, “Preach the gospel to every creature!” But men are getting tired of the divine plan; they are going to be saved by the music, or by the theatricals, or by the amusements! Well, they may try these things as long as ever they like; but nothing can ever come of the whole thing but utter disappointment and confusion:
  God is dishonored,
  the gospel is travestied,
  hypocrites are manufactured by thousands, and 
  the church is dragged down to the level of the world!An unholy church! It is useless to the world–and of no esteem among men. It is . . .
  an abomination,
   Hell’s laughter, and
  Heaven’s abhorrence! “The world has absorbed the Church, and the church is content that it should be so!” Horatius Bonar

“Conformity to the world, in all ages, has proved the ruin of the church!” Rowland Hill

“The spirit of the world is eating out the very heart and life of true godliness!” George Everard

Refined worldliness is the present snare of the Church of God!” Horatius Bonar

The antidote for fear!

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The antidote for fear!

(Alexander Smellie, “The Secret Place” 1907) ¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

“Fear not, for I have¬†redeemed¬†you! I have¬†called¬†you by your name–you are¬†Mine!” Isaiah 43:1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My subtlest and strongest enemies are within myself!

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My subtlest and strongest enemies are within myself!

(Alexander Smellie, “The Secret Place” 1907)

Fighting a long and hard campaign, I shall be very foolish if I underestimate my foes. 
There are many of them, but they serve under a trinity of wicked captains.

1. “If any man loves the¬†WORLD,” writes John, “the love of the Father is not in him.” The world is my sworn and unrelenting enemy; an enemy all the more dangerous because it professes to be something so different–the best of comrades and the truest of friends.¬†

I must take my part, and that with diligence, in the world’s¬†business. Yet what a risk there is, that it should absorb my thoughts morning and night! Then I shall become¬†selfish¬†and¬†earthly¬†and¬†unspiritual.¬†

I must make acquaintance with the world’s¬†literature, and much of it is beautiful and good. But I am prone to give it an undue attention, and to forget the¬†divine library which God’s finger has penned.¬†

I must mingle among the world’s¬†citizens, and many of them are love-worthy and full of charm. Yet, when I prize them overmuch, they separate me from Father and Son and Holy Spirit.¬†

Under its kindly face, the world is a hostile power!


2. “Your adversary the¬†DEVIL,” writes Peter. Here is another stupendous antagonist. The¬†accuser of the brethren¬†prowls about, unseen and malignant, sleeplessly plotting my harm! Never should I leave off my spiritual armor.

3. “The¬†FLESH¬†lusts against the Spirit,” writes Paul. After all,¬†my subtlest and strongest enemies are within myself!¬†Old sin comes back, seeking the mastery again. And much in me loves it, and goes out to meet and embrace it. There, indeed, is my greatest hazard–there¬†my most deadly snare!

“O wretched man that I am!” I re-echo the ancient cry, “who shall deliver me from the body of this death!”¬†Yes, my worst foes are entrenched within the citadel of Mansoul, within my own heart!

My God, I have no might against this great company, neither do I know what to do! But my eyes are upon You!

“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy–to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!” Jude 1:24-25

The happiness of Heaven!

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The happiness of Heaven!

(Thomas Sherman, “Divine Breathings; Or, a Pious Soul Thirsting after Christ”)
“No¬†eye¬†has seen,¬†
 no ear has heard, 
 no mind has conceived,
¬†what God has prepared for those who love Him!” 1 Corinthians 2:9

The vessel of our soul is too capacious to be filled with all the pleasures and delights the world put together. But hereafter, our pleasures and delights shall be too great for the most capacious vessel to hold! Our glory shall be so great, that power as well as goodness, shall be given by God Himself to renew and enlarge these vessels, that they may be capable of receiving and retaining that glory. Strength and love shall go forth together, to prepare and elevate our dispositions, that they may be suitable for such a transcendent and exalted state!

At present, we are too weak to bear such a weight of glory; therefore God will immortalize us, that we may be able to sustain it! And because our eternal joys cannot fully enter into us while in this world, we shall fully enter into them in heaven. 

What fool would place only a few drops of carnal pleasures into so large a vessel as the soul; and neglect the spring, or rather the ocean of unspeakable bliss, and everlasting glory!

O my soul, what a glorious day is coming, when the¬†vessels¬†of mercy shall be cast into the¬†ocean¬†of mercy, and be filled to the very brim with¬†divine¬†mercy! Then the soul that is love-sick for Jesus–shall lie in the bosom of divine love, and forever be satisfied with unfathomable love! Then the children of God shall have a full fruition of God, and be forever satisfied with the presence of God! The joy of His glorious presence, the fullness of His joy, the¬†sweetness¬†of this fullness, the eternity of this sweetness–the heart of man can never adequately comprehend.¬†

Lord, let the glory which you have prepared for me, turn my soul from the vanities of earth!

“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!” Psalm 16:11

Such a god should be derided!

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Such a god should be derided!

(William S. Plumer, “A Treatise on Providence” 1865)
The unrenewed heart is atheistic in its inclinations.

“They say: The Lord doesn’t see it. The God of Jacob¬†doesn’t pay attention.” Psalm 94:7″The wicked say to themselves: ‘God isn’t watching!¬†He will never notice!’
¬†Arise, O Lord! Punish the wicked, O God!”¬†Psalm 10:11-12

Nothing more derogatory to the character of God can possibly be said, than that He does not rule the world. 

God¬†reigns¬†is a logical conclusion from God¬†is. To deny God’s¬†providence¬†is as atheistic as to deny His existence! A god, who neither sees, nor hears, nor knows, nor cares, nor helps, nor saves–is a vanity, and can never claim homage from intelligent men.¬†Such a god should be derided, not worshiped! He might suit the mythology of Paganism, or meet the demands of an infidel heart–but could never command the allegiance, or win the confidence of an enlightened and pious man!¬†

The world may as well be without a god–as have one who is incompetent to rule it, or, who, wrapping Himself in a mantle of careless indifference, abandons creation to the governance of puny mortals, to the rule of devils, or to the sway of¬†blind chance!¬†Such conduct may well comport with the character of false gods–but is wholly abhorrent to the nature of Jehovah! God’s tender mercies are over all His works. His kingdom rules over all!

“Our God is in Heaven and does¬†whatever He pleases!” Psalm 115:3¬†

“For I know that the Lord is great; our Lord is greater than all gods. The Lord does¬†whatever He pleases¬†in Heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths!” Psalm 135:5-6″Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!”¬†Revelation 19:6

The result has been . . .

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The result has been . . .

(Arthur Pink, “An Exposition of the Gospel of John”)
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first.¬†If you¬†belonged¬†to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you¬†out¬†of the world.¬†That is why the world hates you!”¬†John 15:18-19¬†

“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you!” 1 John 3:13¬†

The professing Church has boasted that it would convert the world. To accomplish this aim, it has sought to “popularize” religion. Innumerable devices have been employed¬†to attract the ungodly–many of which even a sense of propriety should have suppressed!¬†

The result has been that the world has converted the professing Church! 

But notwithstanding this, it still remains true that the world hates the true followers of the Lamb. And nowhere is this more plainly evident, than in those who belong to what we may term the religious world!

If you resolve that by Divine grace you will live godly in Christ Jesus, then know that persecution must be your portion. And that persecution will come upon you not from atheists and infidels, but from those bearing the name of Christians. It will issue from those who still keep up a form (or semblance) of godliness, but who are strangers to its living power. It will come to you from empty professors whose compromising ways are condemned by your refusal to conform thereto; whose worldliness and carnality is rebuked by your spirituality. 

Remember, it was the religious leaders who hounded the Savior to His death!

¬†“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus¬†will¬†be persecuted!” 2 Timothy 3:12¬†

But he was a leper!

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But he was a leper!

(Arthur Pink, “Gleanings from Elisha”)
“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a¬†great man¬†. . .¬†but he was a leper!” 2 Kings 5:1¬†

Naaman was a great man . . . but he was a leper! He was the victim of a loathsome and incurable disease. He was a pitiful and repulsive object, with no prospect whatever of any improvement in his condition.

Yes, my reader, the highly-privileged and honored Naaman was a leper–and as such he portrays what you are and what I am by nature. God’s Word does not¬†flatter¬†man. It lays him in the dust, which is one reason why it is so unpalatable to the great majority of people. It is the Word of truth, and therefore instead of painting flattering pictures of human nature–it represents things as they actually are.
 
Instead of¬†lauding¬†man–it¬†abases¬†him.

Instead of speaking of the dignity and nobility of human nature, it declares it to be leprous–sinful, corrupt, depraved, defiled!

Instead of eulogizing human progress–it insists that “every man at his best state is altogether vanity!” (Psalm 39:5)

And when the Holy Scriptures define man’s attitude toward, and relationship with God–they insist that “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God” (Romans 3:10-11). They declare that we are His¬†enemies¬†by our wicked works (Colossians 1:21), and that consequently we are under the condemnation and curse of God’s law, and that His holy wrath abides on us! (John 3:36)

The Word of truth declares that by nature¬†all of us are spiritual lepers–foul and filthy, unfit for the divine presence, “being alienated from the life of God.” (Ephesians 4:18)¬†

You may occupy a good position in this world, even an eminent station in the affairs of this life. You may have made good in your vocation, and wrought praiseworthy achievements by human standards. You may be honorable in the sight of your fellows–but¬†how do you appear in the eyes of God?¬†You are a leper–one whom His law pronounces unclean, one who is utterly unfit for His holy presence! As it was with Naaman, so it is with you:¬†“He was a great man–but a leper!”

We would not be faithful to our calling were we to glide over that in God’s Word which is distasteful to proud flesh and blood. Nor would we be faithful to our readers if we glossed over their frightful and fatal natural condition. It is in their souls’ interests that they should face this humiliating and unpleasant fact: that in God’s sight, they are spiritual lepers!

But we must¬†personalize¬†it. Have¬†you, my reader, realized this fact in your own case? Have you seen yourself as you are in God’s sight? Are you aware that your soul is suffering from a disease that neither you nor any human being can cure? It is so, whether you realize it or not. The Scriptures declare that from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head, there is no soundness in you. Yes, that in the sight of the holy God, you are a mass of “wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores!” (Isaiah 1:6) Only as you penitently accept that divine verdict, is there any hope for you.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save¬†sinners!” 1 Timothy 1:15

Two Filthy Rooms!

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Two Filthy Rooms!

(Arthur Pink)
“And when the Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” John 16:8

One of the principle things which distinguishes a regenerate person from an unregenerate one, may be likened unto two filthy rooms:

In one room, the blinds are raised and the sunlight streams in, exposing the filth all around. 

In the other room, the blinds are lowered, and one walking through the room would be unable to discern its real condition.

Thus it is in the case of one who has been renewed by the Spirit: his eyes have been opened to see the awful filthwhich lurks in every corner of his heart.

But in the case of the unregenerate, though they have occasional twinges of conscience when they act wrongfully, they are very largely ignorant of the awful fact that they are a complete mass of corruption in the pure eyes of the thrice holy God.

Abraham acknowledged,¬†“I am dust and ashes!”¬†Genesis 18:27

Job said of himself, “I am vile!” Job 40:4

David admitted, “I am a worm!” Psalm 22:6

Isaiah confessed, “Woe is me! I am ruined!” Isaiah 6:5

Peter affirmed, “I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke 5:8

Paul considered himself, “The chief of sinners!” 1 Timothy 1:15

Lost

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LOST!

(Arthur Pink, 1951)
“But if our gospel is hid–it is hid to those who are¬†LOST!¬†The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers!” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4¬†

What multitudes of people there are who have no concern over, in fact, no consciousness of, their woeful condition! While they do not regard themselves as perfect, yet they are not aware that there is anything seriously wrong with them. They are respectable people, law-abiding citizens, and nothing particular ever troubles their conscience. They consider that they are certainly no worse than their religious neighbors, and though they scarcely ever read the Bible or enter a church, they fully expect to go to Heaven when they die. 

Some of them will indeed admit that they are sinners, but imagine that their good works far outnumber their bad ones. Some of them were sprinkled as infants, attended a Sunday school class as children, said their prayers each night, and later joined the church. Nevertheless, to this moment, they have never realized that they are the enemies of God, an abomination in the eyes of His holiness, and that Hell is their just desert! They see no beauty or glory in the Gospel, no suitableness in it unto their case–and therefore do they despise and reject it.

Though Satan rules in their hearts and lives (Ephesians 2:2), yet it is by their own free consent. They voluntarily obey him and submit to his will. His dominion over them is maintained by . . .
  keeping their minds in darkness,
  deceiving and deluding them,
  blinding them by pride, prejudice, and the workings of their own corruptions. 

Nowhere but in the Scriptures, can we learn what is the real condition of the natural man. There his case is diagnosed with unerring precision by the divine Physician. Many are the terms used therein by the Holy Spirit to describe the solemn and direful state to which the fall has reduced every descendant of Adam; and among them probably none is more pointed and awesome than is the term LOST! How dismal is its sound! How much is summed up in that single word! It signifies . . .
  that the natural man is in a sinful, wretched, and perilous state, 
  that he is far astray from God,
  that he has willfully and wantonly forsaken the path of duty. 

Lost! A traveler from time to eternity, treading the road that leads to certain and everlasting destruction! 

Lost! A creature who has forfeited the approbation and favor of his Maker, and is now an outcast from Him!

Lost! One who has squandered his substance in riotous living, and is now a spiritual bankrupt and pauper. He is out of the way of eternal peace and blessing, and utterly incapable of finding his way back to it! 

Fearful beyond words, is the condition of fallen man. His case is as hopeless as that of a dying person whose disease is incurable. A lost¬†child¬†is a pitiful object–but what mind can estimate, or pen depict, the tragedy of a lost¬†soul?¬†Lost now, lost¬†forever–unless a sovereign God intervenes and performs a miracle of mercy for its recovery!¬†

Man is lost positively, in that he is not what he should be. He is . . .
  a defiled creature,
  a guilty criminal, 
  a child of disobedience!

Lost¬†judicially, under the curse of God’s broken Law, sentenced to death, “condemned already” (John 3:18), the wrath of God now abiding on him! (John 3:36)

Lost¬†meritoriously, for his transgressions deserve eternal death, which is the wages of sin–and fully has he earned them.¬†

Lost¬†experientially¬†in point of¬†ability¬†or¬†power¬†to recover himself, he is “not subject to the law of God, neither indeed¬†can¬†he be” (Romans 8:7). The moral impotency of man is such that he is utterly incapable of performing a single spiritual act: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good, who are accustomed to doing evil! (Jeremiah 13:23)

None will know how utterly man is lost, until they experience God’s wrath in Hell, and can then measure the fearful distance they have departed from Him!

Thus man is lost in every way, and in every sense! 
Federally, by the imputation to him of the guilt of his representative’s offence.¬†
Effectually, by the transmission of a corrupt nature from his parents. 
Actually, by his own evil conduct, “you have destroyed yourself” (Hosea 13:9).¬†
Practically, by the forming of evil habits, so that now he is “held with the cords of his sins” (Proverbs 5:22).¬†

Lost to God, for He has no love, no service, no glory from the unregenerate; so that they deprive Him of the honor of their creation. 

Man is lost to himself . . .
  to all reason and rational inducements, 
  to right conceptions and perceptions, 
¬† to every consideration of God’s claims upon him.¬†

Lost to all sense of shame for his horrible condition in the eyes of the Holy One. 

So lost as to have “delight in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12).¬†

Lost to piety and true happiness. 

Out of the way of holiness, peace, and security. 

Lost in sin, in ignorance, and error. 

Lost¬†irretrievably, like a sheep that wanders farther and farther astray, until it perishes. Man is utterly unable to find his way back to God, for he is in total darkness–a wanderer in a pathless desert, perishing in a howling wilderness. What makes man’s case yet worse, is that¬†he has no desire to be recovered!¬†He has perversely set himself up to be his own master, and stubbornly determines to please himself and carve out his own career.¬†

Rather than return unto God, the unregenerate would take any road which leads farther away from Him. They resent His expostulations and resist the strivings of His Spirit. If not with their lips, with their hearts, they say unto God: “Depart from us, for we have no desire to know Your ways!” (Job 21:14). Yes, they would much prefer to be annihilated than yet meet God face to face, and have to give an account of themselves to Him (Romans 14:12). They hate His holiness and dread His justice, while despising His goodness and abusing His mercies!¬†

An unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life!

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An unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life!

(Arthur Pink, “The Attributes of God“)

God has placed His Word in our hands for an intensely practical purpose; namely, to direct our walk and to regulate our deportment. The primary purpose for which God gave the Scriptures, is to make a practicaluse of them–ordering the details of our lives by its rules and regulations.

“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. The metaphor used here is taken from a man walking along a dangerous road on a dark night, in urgent need of a lantern to show him where to walk safely and comfortably, to avoid injury and destruction. 

God, in His infinite condescension and transcendent grace, has given us His Word for this very purpose, so that we need not stumble along blindly, ignorant of what pleases or displeases Him–but that we might know His mind. That divine Word is not given to us simply for information, but . . .
  to regulate our conduct,
  to enlighten our minds,
  and to mold our hearts.

The Word supplies us with an unerring chart by which to steer through the dangerous sea of life. If we sincerely and diligently follow, it will deliver us from disastrous rocks and submerged reefs; and direct us safely to the heavenly harbor. That Word has all the instructions we need for every problem, and every trouble we may be called upon to face. That Word has been given to us “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:17. How thankful we should be, that God has favored us with such a Word!

This world is a dark place, and it is only as we take heed to the Word, to the light God has given us–that we shall be able to perceive and avoid “the broad road which leads to destruction,” and discern the narrow way which alone “leads unto eternal life.”

Our first duty, and our first aim, must be to take up the Scriptures to ascertain what is God’s revealed will for us–what are the paths He forbids us to walk, what are the ways pleasing in His sight.

The Scriptures are not given us, primarily for our intellectual gratification, nor for emotional admiration, but for life’s regulation. Nor are the precepts and commands, the warnings and encouragements contained therein, simply for our information. They are to be reduced to practice; they require unqualified obedience. He who treasures the divine precepts in his heart, and diligently seeks to walk by their rule, will escape those evils which destroy his fellows.

Thus the great business of the Christian is to regulate his life by, and conform his conduct to–the precepts of the written Word, and the example left us by the Incarnate Word. As he does so, and in proportion as he does so, he is . . . 
  emancipated from the darkness of his natural mind,
  freed from the follies of his corrupt heart,
  delivered from the mad course of this world,
  and escapes the snares of the devil.

Correcting in love–not smiting in wrath!

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Correcting in love–not smiting in wrath!

(Arthur Pink, “Comfort for Christians“)

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“Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.” Hebrews 12:6

The Father’s wise and loving discipline is in view here.

It is of first importance that we learn to draw a sharp distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement. The distinction is very simple, yet is it often lost sight of. 

God’s people can never by any possibility be punished for their sins, for God has already punished them at the Cross. The Lord Jesus, our Blessed Substitute, suffered the full penalty of all our guilt; hence it is written “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” Neither the justice nor the love of God, will permit Him to again exact payment of what Christ discharged to the full. The difference between punishment and chastisement lies not in the nature of the sufferings of the afflicted. There is a threefold distinction between the two: 

First, the character in which God acts. In the former, God acts as Judge; in the latter, as Father. Sentence of punishment is the act of a judge–a penal sentence passed on those charged with guilt. Punishment can never fall upon the child of God in this judicial sense, because his guilt was all transferred to Christ, “Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree.”

But while the believer’s sins cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned (Romans 8:3)–yet he may be chastised. The Christian occupies an entirely different position from the non-Christian; he is a member of the Family of God. The relationship which now exists between him and God is that of parent and child; and as a son he must be disciplined for wrongdoing. Folly is bound up in the hearts of all God’s children, and the rod is necessary to rebuke, to subdue, to humble.

The second distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement lies in the recipients of each.

The objects of the former are His enemies
The subjects of the latter are His children

As the Judge of all the earth, God will yet take vengeance on all His foes. 
As the Father of His family, God maintains discipline over all His children. 

The one is judicial; the other parental.

A third distinction is seen in the design of each.

The one is retributive–the other remedial. 

The one flows from His anger–the other from His love. 

Divine punishment is never sent for the good of unrepentant sinners–but for the honoring of God’s law and the vindicating of His government. 
But Divine chastisement is sent for the well-being of His children: “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10)

When the believer is smarting under the rod let him not say, “God is now punishing me for my sins!” That can never be! That is most dishonoring to the blood of Christ. God is correcting you in love–not smiting in wrath! 

Chastisement proceeds from God’s goodness and faithfulness, and is one of the greatest blessings for which we have to thank Him. Chastisement evidences our Divine sonship. It is designed for our good, to promote our highest interests. Look beyond the rod–to the all-wise hand which wields it!

Some of the saintliest of God’s people, some of the most obedient of His children–have been, and are the greatest sufferers. 

Oftentimes, God’s chastenings are corrective. They are sent to empty us of self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. They are given to discover to us hidden transgressions, and to teach us the plague of our own hearts. 

Or again, chastisements are sent to strengthen our faith, to raise us to higher levels of experience, to bring us into a condition of usefulness. 

Still again, Divine chastisement is sent as a preventative, to keep under pride, to save us from being unduly elated over success in God’s service. 

Remember, your afflictions are among the “all things” which work together for good. Learn, then, to look upon trials as proofs of God’s love–purgingpruning, and purifying you.

What is most needed today

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(Arthur Pink, “Eternal Punishment”)

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It is my deepening conviction that what is most needed today, is a wide proclamation of those truths which are the least acceptable to the flesh.

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the character of God:
His absolute sovereignty,
His ineffable holiness,
His inflexible justice,
His unchanging veracity.

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the condition of the natural man:
his total depravity,
his spiritual insensibility,
his inveterate hostility to God,
the fact that he is “condemned already” and that
the wrath of a sin-hating God is even now abiding upon him!

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the alarming danger which sinners are in; the indescribably awful doom which awaits them; the fact that if they follow their present course only a little further–they shall most certainly suffer the due penalty of their iniquities!

What is needed today, is a scriptural setting forth of the nature of that dreadful punishment which awaits the lost:
the awfulness of it,
the hopelessness of it,
the unendurableness of it,
the endlessness of it!
Excepting the Cross of Christ, nothing else so manifests the heinousness of sin–as the doctrine of eternal punishment.

It is just because these truths have been withheld so much from public ministry to the saints–that we now find so many backboneless, sentimental, lop-sided Christians in our assemblies!

A clearer vision of the awe-inspiring attributes of God, would banish much of our levity and irreverence.

A better understanding of our depravity by nature, would humble us and make us see our deep need of using the appointed means of grace.

A facing of the alarming danger of the lost sinner, would cause us to “consider our ways” and make us more diligent to make our “calling and election sure.”

A realization of the unspeakable misery which awaits the lost (and which each of us has fully merited) would immeasurably deepen our gratitude, and bring us to thank God more fervently–that we have been snatched as brands from the burning, and delivered from the wrath to come! It would also make us far more earnest in our prayers, as we supplicate God on behalf of the unsaved.

Where are you going?

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(Charles Orr, “How to Live a Holy Life”)

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We have only one life to live–only one! Think of this for a moment. 

Here we are in this world of time, making the journey of life. Each day we are farther from the cradle, and nearer to the grave! Solemn thought!

See the mighty concourse of human lives; hear their heavy tread in their onward march. 
Some are just beginning life’s journey, 
some are midway up the hill, 
some have reached the top, and 
some are midway down the western slope. 

But where are we all going? 

Listen, and you will hear but one answer, “Eternity!” Beyond the fading, dying gleams of the sunset of life–lies a boundless, endless ocean called Eternity! There, you and I are daily traveling.

Time is like a great wheel going its round. On and on it goes. Some are stepping on, and some are stepping off. But where are these latter stepping? Into eternity! 

See that old man with bent form, snow-white locks, and tottering steps–his has been a long round, but he has reached his end at last. 

See the middle-aged man–his round has not been so long, but he must also step off. 

See the youth–he has been on only a little while, but he is brought to the stepping-off place. He thought his round would be much longer. He supposed that he was just getting started–when that icy hand was laid upon him and the usher said, “Come, you have made your round, and you must go!” 

The infant that gave its first faint cry this morning, may utter its last feeble wail tonight!

And thus they go. But where? Oh, where? ETERNITY!

If you were to start today and ask each person you met the question, “Where are you going?” and, if possible, you were to travel the world over and ask each one of earth’s inhabitants–there could be but one correct answer, “Eternity!”

“Oh, eternity, Long eternity! 
 Hear the solemn footsteps of eternity!”

Only one life to live! Only one life–and then we must face vast, endless eternity! We shall pass along the pathway of life but once. Every step we take, is a step that can never be taken again. 

This world is not a play-ground–or a place to trifle with time
Life is not given us to squander nor fritter away. 
To trifle away time, is indeed, to be the greatest of spendthrifts. 
If you squander a dollar, you may regain it; but a moment wasted, can never be regained. God gives us all the time we need to accomplish all that He purposes us to accomplish–but He does not give us one moment to trifle away.

We have only one life to live–only one!”So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 

The miserable dregs of self!

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(J.C. Philpot, “Meditations on Matters of Christian Faith & Experience”)

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“To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He  has made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

We are ever looking for something in self to make ourselves acceptable to God. 
We are often sadly cast down and discouraged when we cannot find in ourselves . . .
  that holiness,
  that obedience,
  that calm submission to the will of God,
  that serenity of soul,
  that spirituality and heavenly-mindedness, 
which we believe to be acceptable in His sight. 

Our crooked tempers,
our fretful, peevish minds,
our rebellious thoughts,
our coldness and barrenness,
our alienation from good,
our headlong proneness to evil,
with the daily feeling that we get no better, but rather worse, 
make us think that God views us just as we view ourselves. And this brings on great darkness of mind and bondage of spirit, and we seem to lose sight of our acceptance in Christ, and get into the miserable dregs of self–almost ready to quarrel with God because we are so vile, and only get worse as we get older.

Now the more we get into these dregs of self, and the more we keep looking at the dreadful scenes of wreck and ruin which our heart presents to daily view–the farther do we get from the grace of the gospel, and the more do we lose sight of the only ground of our acceptance with God. It is “in the Beloved” that we are accepted, and not for any . . .
  good works,
  good words,
  good thoughts,
  good hearts, or
  good intentions of our own.

If our acceptance with God depended on anything in ourselves, we would have to believe we might be children of God today, and children of the devil tomorrow.

What, then, is to keep us from sinking altogether into despair, without hope or help? Why, a knowledge of our acceptance in the Beloved, independent of everything in us, good or bad. 

“You are complete in Him!” Colossians 2:10

“Their righteousness is from Me, says the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17

“He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy.” Titus 3:5

Even your own relatives think¬†you are almost insane!

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(J.C. Philpot, “The Abiding Comforter” 1858)

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“The Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.” John 14:17

The world–that is, the world dead in sin, and the world dead in profession, men destitute of the life and power of God–must have something that it can see. And, as heavenly things can only be seen by heavenly eyes, they cannot receive the things which are invisible.

Now this explains why a religion that presents itself with a degree of beauty and grandeur to the natural eye, will always be received by the world; while a . . .
  spiritual,
  internal,
  heartfelt and
  experimental 
religion will always be rejected.

The world can receive a religion that consists of . . .
  forms, 
  rites, and 
  ceremonies. 
These are things seen.

Beautiful buildings,
painted windows,
pealing organs,
melodious choirs,
the pomp and parade of an earthly priesthood,
and a whole apparatus of ‘religious ceremony’, 
carry with them something that the natural eye can see and admire. The world receives all this ‘external religion’ because it is suitable to the natural mind and intelligible to their reasoning faculties.

But the . . .
  quiet, 
  inward, 
  experimental, 
  divine religion,
which presents no attractions to the outward eye, but is wrought in the heart by a divine operation–the world cannot receive this, because it presents nothing that the natural eye can rest upon with pleasure, or is adapted to gratify their general idea of what religion is or should be.

Do not marvel then, that worldly professors despise a religion wrought in the soul by the power of God. Do not be surprised if even your own relatives think you are almost insane, when you speak of the consolations of the Spirit, or of the teachings of God in your soul. They cannot receive these things, for they have no experience of them; and being such as are altogether opposed to the carnal mind, they reject them with enmity and scorn.

My grace is sufficient for you!

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(J.C. Philpot, “Strength Made Perfect in Weakness”)


My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.”¬† 2 Corinthians 12:9

Not your strength, 
not your wisdom, 
not your prayers, 
not your experience; 
but¬†“My grace”–My free, My matchless grace:
  independent of all works and efforts,
  independent of everything in the creature,
  flowing wholly and solely, fully and freely, out of the bosom of Jesus to . . .
    the needy,
    the guilty,
    the destitute,
    the undone.

You who are tried in worldly circumstances, who have to endure the hard lot of¬†poverty–“My grace is sufficient for you.”¬†

You who are¬†tempted, day by day, to say or do that which conscience testifies against–“My grace is sufficient for you.”¬†

You who are harassed with¬†family troubles¬†and afflictions, and are often drawn aside into peevishness and fretfulness–“My grace is sufficient for you.”¬†

Our weakness, helplessness, and inability are the very things which draw forth the power, the strength, and the grace of Jesus!

Believer, your case is never beyond the reach of the words–“My grace is sufficient for you!”

The free, the matchless, sovereign grace of God, is sufficient for all His people–in whatever state, or stage, or trouble, or difficulty they may be in!

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Why does God afflict us? 

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Why does God afflict us? 

(Ashton Oxenden, “The Blessings and Trials of Sickness” 1863)

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“Affliction does not come forth from the dust, neither does trouble spring forth out of the ground!” Job 5:6 

“Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.” Deuteronomy 8:5

“I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me!” Psalm 119:75

“As many as I love, rebuke and discipline!” Revelation 3:19 

“For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:6 

“I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!” Psalm 39:9 
 

Dear Reader, 
I have come into your sick-room, as it were, and wish to tell you a few things for your comfort and profit.

God has seen fit to stop you in the midst of your busy life, and to lay you aside for a while. It is not by chance that His afflicting hand has fallen upon you. It is not at random that He has chastened you. It may seem to be a mere accident that you are afflicted, and not another. But no; God has done it purposely! 

Learn this then–that your present sickness or affliction is from God. It is His doing. He it is, who has brought this present chastisement upon you. Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father’s ordering, and He prizes His redeemed children more than many sparrows.

Sickness usually comes as a messenger of divine love–it is sent to be a blessing, and may be made, by God’s grace, a very great blessing to the soul. God afflicts His children, because He desires to do them some great good. 

The gardener cuts and prunes his tree, to make it grow better, and bear more precious fruit. In the same way, God often uses His sharp knife for some gracious purpose. 

The wise and loving father thwarts his child, and sometimes scourges it, for its good. Just so, God uses His chastening rod for the very same reason. 

The skillful physician prescribes nauseous medicines to restore his patient’s health. In the same way, God makes us take His bitter medicines, though at the time they are very distasteful to us.

Why does God afflict us? 

Because He loves us, and wishes to make us holy as He is holy, and happy as He is happy. For, as it has been well said, “Fiery trials make golden Christians!” 

God had one Son without sin–but He never had any son without sorrow.

God chastens purposely and lovingly. Affliction comes from Him; and He afflicts, not as a stern Judge, but as a Father and a Friend!

Before then you go a step further, ask God to convince you of this precious truth: “It is my Father who corrects me–even He who loves me! I will receive this chastisement then from Him, and remember that it is a loving hand that smites. I will kiss the very rod that scourges me. Father, not my will, but may Your will be done!”

A true Christian will receive affliction with submission. It is his Father’s doing, and therefore he quietly submits. It comes from Him, and must therefore be well. He feels that there is a needs-be for it. What a sweet pillow is this, on which to rest his weary head!

“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 

I will rejoice in Your salvation!

I will rejoice in Your salvation!

(William Nicholson, 1862)

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I will rejoice in Your salvation!” Psalm 9:14

The minds of the wicked find joy from the most¬†trivial¬†causes–causes which the Spirit of God has taught the Christian to estimate as mere “vanity and vexation of spirit.” To the enlightened mind, the pursuits of this world, and the possessions of the most wealthy, dwindle into insignificance when compared with the value of the soul and its great salvation. If a sinner finds cause for joy in his career of¬†iniquity, the end of which is damnation–then surely the believer has¬†an unfailing source of joy and consolation in God’s salvation!

No one can rejoice in salvation, unless he understands it. There will be a knowledge . . . 
of the¬†necessity¬†of salvation, arising from the conviction of one’s fallen, guilty, and condemned state before God;¬†
of the accomplishment of salvation, by the atoning death, resurrection, and intercession of Jesus Christ, 1 Timothy 1:15; 
that when received, salvation will grant . . . 
  pardon to the guilty, 
  justification to the condemned, 
  liberty to the spiritual captive, 
  health to the spiritually sick, 
  sight to the spiritually blind, and, in short, 
¬† “all spiritual blessings¬†in heavenly places in Christ Jesus!”

No one can ever rejoice in salvation, unless he has felt his need of it. The Spirit has opened the eyes of his understanding, and revealed to him his great guilt and need of the Savior. He now knows the plague of his own heart. He now feels his utter helplessness, and perceives the adaptation of the Savior to his state as a perishing sinner.

True salvation always¬†produces joy¬†and rejoicing!¬†“I will rejoice in Your salvation.”
The sick person rejoices when his disease departs, when the bloom of health again mantles his cheek, etc. 
The debtor rejoices when his debts are discharged, etc. 
The culprit rejoices when reprieved, when he hears the opening of the doors of his prison-house. 
And shall not the penitent and believing sinner rejoice? He is saved! Saved from . . .
  the guilt of sin, 
  the condemnation of sin,
  the dominion of sin,
  the power of death, 
  the dominion of the grave, and 
  the vengeance of everlasting fire!

This joy springs from the realization of divine mercy, through the sin-atoning death of Christ. This rejoicing is over . . .
  an infinite soul, 
  redeemed by an infinite price, 
¬†¬†from¬†an infinite damnation–
to infinite joys, realized first here, and then to be realized fully in an infinite Heaven. 

What a possession! What a prospect!¬†“I will rejoice in Your salvation!”¬†

1. The believer rejoices in the¬†origin¬†of salvation. It is the result of distinguishing grace–the sovereign goodness and unmerited compassion and favor of God. Man . . .
  did not deserve it,
  had no equitable title to it,
  never solicited it. 
God beheld him as an outcast, pitied him, and condescended to save him! 

2. The believer rejoices in the¬†procuring¬†of salvation. When he sees his Redeemer in the garden and on the cross, he weeps–but they are¬†tears of joy.¬†There he sees Christ’s astonishing love. There he sees Him bearing his sins and dying in his stead, etc.

3. The believer rejoices in the glorious properties of salvation . . . 
  the freeness of it, requiring no qualifications nor conditions,
  the purity of it, unto holiness,
  the power of it, saving him from the guilt, dominion, and pollution of sin,
  the extensiveness of it, investing him with every spiritual blessing,
¬† the¬†certainty¬†of it, assuring the soul, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish–ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28¬†

4. The believer rejoices in the prospective consummation of salvation in Heaven. He anticipates with joy . . .
  the full harvest,
  the fruition of hope, and
  the vision of glory in which faith shall be lost. 

“You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!” Psalm 16:11¬†

People with sore and bruised hearts

People with sore and bruised hearts

(J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890)

“When¬†a woman who had lived a sinful life¬†in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume . . .” Luke 7:37¬†

It is wonderful how genuine goodness draws to itself:
  the unfortunate, 
  the troubled,
  the friendless, 
  the outcast,
  the fallen. 

Wherever Jesus went, these classes always found Him out and gathered about Him. It was because He was the true, unselfish friend of all men. They found¬†sympathy¬†in Him. He would¬†listen¬†to their story. Though He was the sinless One, there was yet no air of, “I am holier than you” about Him. He was just as gentle to an outcast sinner, as to a religious Nicodemus. No matter who reached out a hand for help, He was ready to grasp it. One of the truest things ever said of Jesus, was the prophetic word concerning him,¬†“He shall not break a bruised reed!”¬†He always dealt most gently with¬†sore spirits¬†and with¬†bruised hearts!

Those who want to be useful in this world, must have the same qualities as Jesus. There is a kind of false “holiness” which draws nobody to itself–but rather repels. Genuine holiness, however, wins its way everywhere into men’s hearts. The secret of it all is in living¬†“not to be served–but to serve;”¬†in considering one’s self not too good to serve the most unworthy of God’s creatures. If we live in this world to¬†be¬†served, we shall be of no use to anyone. But if we live to minister to others, yearning to be of service to everyone we meet–then our life will be of great worth. The¬†hungry-hearted¬†and the¬†soul-needy¬†will be drawn to us, and God will love to put work into our hands.

We need, too, to train ourselves to¬†exceeding gentleness¬†in dealing with human souls in their spiritual crises. Many earnest people, in the excess of their zeal–do incalculable harm to those whom they greatly desire to help.¬†People with sore and bruised hearts, usually need loving sympathy and strong, kindly friendship–much more than they need a lecture in theology!

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28¬†




Dead Fish Go With The Flow!

Adapted From Calvin Schlabach

‚ÄúBE DIFFERENT! Don‚Äôt go with the flow!‚ÄĚ we are urged. ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt follow the crowd! Even a dead fish can float downstream.‚ÄĚ It does not take any effort or work on the part of a fish to go with the flow and drift downstEven a dead fish can float. Only a living and healthy fish can swim against the current and travel upstream. In the same way, any weak Christian can live like the world; it takes a vital, healthy faith to enable someone to stand on their convictions, firm against the tide of opinion and the example of unbelievers. 

Perhaps we can carry the analogy a bit further. With the polluted condition of many of our modern streams and rivers, it is not only dead fish that float downstream. Trash, industrial waste, and pollutants of one kind or another floats downstream. A fish that travels in that direction finds itself swimming in increasingly fouled and filthy waters. The purest, cleanest waters are found farther upstream nearer the source, where people rarely go. What kind of water would you rather swim in? What kind of life would you rather have? Pure waters are reached only by swimming against the current! 

Obviously, we do not want to be one of those wimpy, weak-willed, dead-fish Christians; yet it is so easy to go with the flow and follow the crowd. If we carelessly live like everyone else, we will find ourselves surrounded by the pollution of sin. Is there any way out of this mess? What does it take for us to be able to swim against the current and move farther upstream? I suggest that we need to concentrate on five main points. 

Convictions 

We will have to know what we believe and then hold to it strongly, for, as it has often been said, those who stand for nothing will fall for anything. We are given the teachings of the apostles and prophets so that we may ‚Äúno longer be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine‚ÄĚ (Ephesians 4:14). We must read our Bibles, accept the principles we find there as our standard of conduct, and then stand firmly on scriptural convictions! How rare it is to see that today! Most of us are so caught up in feelings and tradition, we do not allow truth to shine through. 

Courage 

The unbelievers will not make it to heaven: ‚ÄúBut for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death‚ÄĚ (Revelation 21:8). When they see that God‚Äôs way will require them to leave the false security of doing what all the rest of the world is doing and strike out on their own, their hearts will fail them. Rather than standing against the crowd with the courage of convictions (Romans 8:31), they take the easy way out, turning back to the world, to sin and condemnation. Joshua said, ‚ÄúBe strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go‚ÄĚ (1:9).

Strength 

We must have power and might to stand firmly against the flood of evil that would swiftly sweep us downstream to our destruction. Paul said, ‚ÄúBe on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong‚ÄĚ (1 Corinthians 16:13). We could not successfully withstand temptation and sin that threatens our spiritual well-being by ourselves. Therefore, we are called to ‚Äúbe strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might‚ÄĚ (Ephesians 6:10). Fortified with power that comes only from God (Ephesians 3:16), we can say with Paul, ‚ÄúI can do all things through Him who strengthens me‚ÄĚ (Philippians 4:13). 

Endurance 

For most of us, the Christian race is not a brief sprint to the finish line, but rather it is a long, grueling marathon. Listen to the words of the Hebrew writer, ‚ÄúYou have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised … ‚ÄėMy righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him‚Äô‚ÄĚ (10:36, 38). It is so sad to see those who have started on the Christian way later give up, forfeiting the race. They did not have the the long-distance endurance to run the race through to the end. Therefore, ‚Äúlet us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus‚ÄĚ (Hebrews 12:1-2). 

Heavenly Goals 

The reason we want to travel upstream is because we are seeking something better and higher than the careless world around us. We are not trying to be different from the world just for the sake of being different. We are different because we are pursuing different goals. We have to keep these goals continually before us. Paul said, ‚ÄúKeep seeking the things above, where Christ is … Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth‚ÄĚ (Colossians 3:1-2). Raise your sights! Don‚Äôt follow the foolish crowd!






One of the finest things in a complete Christian character

One of the finest things in a complete Christian character

(J.R. Miller, “Learning to Be Thoughtful” 1898)

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One of the finest things in a complete Christian character
, is thoughtfulness. It gives awondrous charm to a life. It makes one a blessing wherever he goes. It tempers all his conduct, softening all natural harshness into gentleness, and giving a spirit of kindliness to his every word and act, and to all his bearing.

A thoughtful person does not have to be asked to¬†help¬†others–he helps, as it were, instinctively. He is ever ready . . .¬†
  to do the obliging thing, 
  to say the encouraging word, 
  to show an interest in the life of others, 
  to perform those countless little kindnesses which so brighten the common pathway. 

In much home-life, there is a lack of thoughtfulness shown. Not always is the speech gentle–sometimes it is sharp and bitter, even rude. Without being aware of it, many of us are miserably selfish in our life among others. We practically forget that there are any other people, or that we ought to make any sacrifices, or practice any self-denials, for their sake.¬†

Thoughtfulness will seek always to say kindly words, never words that will give pain–but ever those that will give pleasure. We have no right, for the sake of saying a bright thing, to let loose a shaft, however polished, that will make a loving heart bleed!

We all know in our own experience, the value of sincere and Christly¬†thoughtfulness. We do not like to come in contact with thoughtless people. We know well how it hurts and how unbeautiful, how unchristian, it seems when we see it in another–and when¬†our¬†heart is the one that suffers from its harsh, rude impact. We all long for thoughtfulness in others; our hearts hunger and thirst for it. It is bread and wine to us.

What we long for in others in their relation to us, we should be ready to give to them. What in others hurts us, gives us pain–we ought to avoid in our contact with others.¬†Thoughtfulness is one of the finest, ripest fruits of Christian love–and all who would be like the Master must seek to learn this lesson and wear this grace.

It is not your¬†work¬†that He wants most–it is you!

It is not your work that He wants most–it is you!

(J.R. Miller, “The Glory of the Commonplace”)

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“Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, and come with Me!” Song of Songs 2:10 

“He said to them: Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place” Mark 6:31 

G. Campbell Morgan tells of a friend of his who had a little daughter that he dearly loved. They were great friends, the father and daughter, and were always together. But there seemed to come an estrangement on the child’s part. The father could not get her company as formerly. She seemed to shun him. If he wanted her to walk with him, she always had something else to do. The father was grieved and could not understand what the trouble was. 

His birthday came and in the morning his daughter came to his room, her face radiant with love, and handed him a present. Opening the parcel, he found a pair of exquisitely made slippers.

The father said, “My child, it was very good of you to buy me such lovely slippers.” 

“O father,” she said, “I did not buy them–I made them for you!”

Looking at her he said, “I think I understand now, what long has been a mystery to me. Is this what you have been doing for the last three months?”

“Yes,” she said, “but how did you know how long I have been at work on them?” 

He said, “Because for three months I have missed your company and your love. I have wanted you with me–but you have been too busy. These are beautiful slippers–but next time buy your present, and let me have you all the days. I would rather have my child herself, than anything she could make for me.”

Just so, we are in danger of being so busy in the Lord’s work that we cannot be enough with the Lord in love’s fellowship. He may say to us, “I like your works, your toils, your service–but I miss the loveyou gave Me at first.” 

There is real danger that we get so busy in striving to be active Christians, so absorbed in our tasks and duties, our efforts to bring others into the church–that Christ Himself shall be less loved, and shall miss our communing with Him. 

Loyalty to Christ means first of all devotion. Has Christ really the highest place in your heart? It is not your work that He wants most–it is you! It is beautiful to do things for Him, it is still more beautiful to make a home for Him in your heart. 

A young man, at great cost, brought from many countries the most beautiful materials he could find, and built an exquisite little chapel as a memorial to his dead wife. Only a few men could do anything so rare, so lovely. But the poorest of us can enthrone Jesus in our hearts–making a little sanctuary in our hearts for Him.

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love!” Revelation 2:4

Cut it off!

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Cut it off!

(J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890)

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“If your hand or your foot causes you to sin,¬†cut it off¬†and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled–than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire!” Matthew 18:8

Our life is so full of temptation and peril, that even its best things may become stumbling-blocks. Our very qualities of strength, may become fatal forces driving us to eternal ruin. 

Human beauty
¬†is a blessing from God–and yet beauty has proved a snare to many a woman, drawing her away from God.¬†

Ability to make money¬†is a perilous gift,¬†which has led many a man to spiritual ruin. It is better to altogether throw away the money-making ability, and go poor through life with the talent wasted and shriveled, and reach Heaven–than to exercise the ability and grow rich, and be lost forever! These are illustrations of our Lord’s meaning when He speaks of ‘cutting off’ the hand or the foot which causes us to sin.

The appetites, desires, and affections–are part of the glory of humanity; and yet, when they are¬†unbridled,¬†they have whirled many a noble life to eternal destruction!

A steam-boat came into port which had long been out on the sea. An accident had happened which caused delay. The¬†coal¬†gave out; then all that would burn–cargo, stores, furniture–had to be burned up, in order to bring the vessel home. At last she gained the shore,¬†but stripped of everything of value. Yet it was better to burn up all her cargo and stores,¬†than perish at sea.

Just so, some men can get to Heaven, only by sacrificing every earthly pleasure and crucifying every sinful desire; but who will say that the prize is not worth the sacrifice? 
The hand would be better chopped off
, than steal or strike down another. 
The foot would be better cut off
, than carry one into crime or sin. 
The eye would be better plucked-out
, than by its lustful gazing set the soul on fire. 
A man on a wrecked vessel had better¬†throw his bags of gold into the sea¬†and have his life saved–than hold on to the gold and sink into the waves!

 

You shall love him!

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You shall love him!

(J. R. Miller, “Loving Your Neighbor”)

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“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”¬†Mark 12:31

What is it to love our neighbor? It is the loving that is hard. We could do almost anything else, short of loving unpleasant neighbors.

But¬†love¬†is the word–and no¬†revised version¬†changes it. No matter how disagreeable, unlovely, unworthy, our neighbors may be–still the commandment persistently and relentlessly says to us, “You shall love him!

Our neighbors are around us all the time, needing our love. Indeed, they touch our lives so continually, that we must¬†guard¬†our every look, word, and act–lest we hurt some sensitive spirit.¬†

Some people seem to forget that other people have feelings. They are constantly saying words and doing things which give pain. True love is thoughtful. We ought to train our hearts to the most delicate sense of kindness, that we may never, even jokingly, give pain to any other human being.

Our neighbors have¬†hearts, and we owe to every one of them–the¬†beggar¬†we meet on the street, thedegraded wretch¬†we find crawling in the mire of sin’s debasement, the¬†enemy¬†who flings his insults in our face–to every one, we owe the love that is thoughtful, gentle, and gives no hurt.

Our love ought also to be¬†patient. Our neighbor will have his faults. But we are taught to bear with one another’s infirmities.¬†

If we knew the story of men’s lives, the¬†hidden burdens¬†they are often carrying, the¬†unhealed woundsin their heart–we would have most gentle patience with them.¬†Life is hard for most people, certainly hard enough without our adding to its burdens–by our criticisms, our jeering and contempt, and our lack of love.

From The Archives: Draftin’

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¬†My Thoughts ūüí≠¬†

is your heart causing a¬†‚Äėdraft’ over people?
Are you the ice cold draft that puts a chill into people even before you meet? If someone were to say your name does it make them sigh and say “Oh no I haven’t got the energy.” Or does your name bring a smile to their face as they can’t wait to meet up again.¬†
 
Or…Are you a draft project?
Not quite finished or ready to be published yet, a broken toy forgotten on a shelf complaining because you feel your days are over. Are you sat waiting to bury your dead? waiting for your inheritance which you think will heal you. Then, and only then you decide to let Jesus walk alongside you…But NEVER in front!
 
Or…Do you create a backdraft?
Are you opening doors you know you shouldn’t be opening? Are you letting the flames consume you and pollute your mind??
 
Or‚Ķare you draftin’?¬†
Are you letting Jesus lead?¬†Are you following really close behind as he pulls you along, while leaving you with the energy to help others and become your own draft?¬†ūüôŹ¬†ūüėĬ†

A great and noble army of holy women

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A great and noble army of holy women

(J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890)¬†

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“And many¬†women¬†were there beholding from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee,¬†ministering¬†unto Him” Matthew 27:55

These were the¬†earliest¬†of¬†a great and noble army of holy women–attached to Christ by deep, personal love, following and ministering unto Him.¬†

In all the ages since,¬†Christian women¬†have shown similar¬†devotion¬†and¬†constancy¬†to Christ–and similar heroic love in¬†serving¬†Him. The record of¬†women’s ministry to Christ, is one of the brightest in all the world’s history!

Women owe an incalculable debt to Christ. He has lifted them up from base thraldom and from degradation. Women have always been grateful too, and have served Christ with great devotion. 

Women are found in every¬†sickroom, bending over the sufferer with unwearying solicitude, with matchless tenderness ministering to bodily comfort, and pouring the warmth of affection upon feverish spirits. They are found in the wards of hospitals, and upon battlefields, moving like¬†God’s angels¬†in blessed, loving ministry.

Faithful Christian mothers are following the Master and doing work which will shine forever in glorious luster! 

Faithful¬†Christian Sunday school teachers¬†are doing quiet service in lowly paths–which in God’s sight, is nobler than that of many of earth’s famous ones!

Everywhere, too, there is an¬†open field¬†for woman’s ministry. Christ is no longer here in¬†person¬†to be served, as He was served by these women who followed Him from Galilee; but¬†in His needy and suffering followers, He is ever present; and whoever will, may minister unto Him! For He said that in doing acts of kindness to the least of His people, we do them unto Him.

Much practical teaching is in this picture, which is here held up before every woman, inspiring her to wholeheartedly follow Christ. 

Why do so many young Christian girls choose a life . . .
  of idleness,
  of love of pleasure,
  of aimless, purposeless existence,
¬† of mere dressing, promenading, and trifling–
when such a life of glorious service is open to them?

 

The goal of living in this world

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The goal of living in this world

(J.R. Miller, “Things That Endure”)

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The goal of living in this world, is ever to grow into more and more radiant and lovely Christ-like character–whatever our¬†conditions¬†or¬†experiences¬†may be.

We cannot escape¬†temptations–but we are so to meet them and pass through them, as not to be hurt by them; to come out of them with new strength and new radiancy of soul.¬†

We cannot escape¬†trials¬†and¬†difficulties–but we are to live victoriously, never defeated, always overcoming.¬†

We cannot find a path in which no¬†sorrow¬†shall come into our lives–but we are to live through the experience of sorrow, without being hurt by it.

Many people receive harm from the¬†fires¬†which pass over them. Many fall in¬†temptation¬†and lie in dust and defeat, not rising again. Many are soured and embittered by the¬†difficulties, the¬†irritations, the¬†frictions, the¬†cares¬†of life. But the problem of Christian living, is to keep a sweet Christ-like spirit amid all that might embitter us–to pass through the¬†fires, and not have the flames kindle upon us.

We live in the midst of the countless dangers through which we must pass in this world. Danger lurks in every shadow, and hides in every patch of sunshine. There are tempters all around us. Only by committing our lives day by day into the hands of Christ, can we be kept in safety amid the perils of this world. He is able to keep us from falling, to guard us from stumbling, and to set us before His presence without blemish, in exceeding joy!

 

Joy

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“Joy is a choice. It’s a matter of attitude that stems from one’s confidence in God- that He is at work, that He is in full control, that He is in the midst of whatever has happened, is happening and will happen. Either we fix our minds on that and determine to laugh again, or we wail and whine our way through life. We determine which way we will go.” –¬†Chuck Swindoll

Will worrying make matters any better?

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Will worrying make matters any better?

(J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890)

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“Who of you by¬†worrying, can add a single cubit to his height?” Matthew 6:27¬†

So it is¬†useless¬†to worry! A short person cannot, by any amount of anxiety, make himself an inch taller. Why, therefore, should he waste his energy and fret his life away–in wishing he were taller?¬†

One worries because he is too short–another because he is too tall;¬†
one worries because he too lean–another because he is too heavy;¬†
one worries because he has a lame foot–another because he has a mole on his face.¬†
No amount of fretting will change any of these things!

People worry, too, over their circumstances. They are poor, and have to work hard. They have troubles, losses, and disappointments which come through causes entirely beyond their own control. They find difficulties in their environment which they cannot surmount. There are hard conditions in their lot which they cannot change.

Now why should they worry about these things? Will worrying make matters any better? Will discontent . . .
  cure the blind eye, or 
  remove the ugly mole, or
  give health to the infirm body? 

Will chafing make . . .
  the hard work, lighter; 
  or the burdens, easier; 
  or the troubles, fewer? 

Will anxiety . . .
  keep the winter away, or
  keep the storm from rising, or
  put coal in the cellar, or 
  put bread in the pantry, or 
  get clothes for the children? 

Even human reason shows¬†the¬†uselessness¬†of worrying, since it helps nothing, and only wastes one’s strength and unfits one for doing one’s best!

The Christian gospel goes farther, and says that even the hard things and the obstacles–are¬†blessings, if we meet them in the right spirit. They are stepping-stones lifting our feet upward–disciplinary experiences in which we grow.¬†

So we learn that we should quietly, and with faith in God’s Providence, accept life as it comes to us–fretting at nothing, yet changing hard conditions to easier ones if we can. And if we cannot, then we must use them as means for growth and advancement.

¬†“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’¬†¬†For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.¬†¬†But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”¬†Matthew 6:31-33

These are the idols of the heart!

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These are the idols of the heart! 

(John Angell James, “Spiritual Idolatry“)

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The first commandment of the decalogue says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The meaning of this precept, which is the foundation of all religion, is not merely that we shall not acknowledge any other God besides Jehovah–but also that we shall¬†treat¬†Him as God! That is, we . . .
  must love Him with all our hearts,
  serve Him with all our lives, and
  depend upon Him for our supreme felicity. 

It is obvious that whatever we love most, and are most anxious to retain and please–whatever it is we depend most upon for happiness and help–whatever has most of our hearts–that is in effect, our God! It does not matter whether it is friends, possessions, desires–or our own selves!¬†

These are the idols of the heart! 

SELF is the great idol which is the rival of God, and which divides with Him the worship of the human race. It is surprising and affecting to think how much SELF enters into almost all we do. Besides the grosser form of self-righteousness, which leads many unconverted people actually to depend upon their own doings for acceptance with God; how much of . . .
  self-seeking,
  self-valuing,
  self-admiration,
  self-dependence,
there is in many converted ones! 
How covertly do some seek their own praise in what they professedly do for God, and their fellow-creatures! How eager are they for the admiration and applause of their fellow-creatures! How much of self, yet how little suspected by themselves–is seen by One who knows them better than they know themselves, at the bottom of their most splendid services, donations, and most costly sacrifices!

In how many ways does self steal away the heart from God! How subtle are its workings, how concealed its movements, yet how extensive is its influence. How SELF . . .
  perverts our motives,
  lowers our aims,
  corrupts our affections, and
  taints our best actions!

How much incense is burned–and how many sacrifices are offered on the altar of this idol!¬†

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols!” 1 John 5:21

 


A lamp for my feet!

Grace logoA lamp for my feet!

(J.R. Miller)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

“Your Word is¬†a lamp for my feet¬†and a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

God’s Word is represented as¬†a lamp for the feet.¬†

It is a “lamp”–not a blazing sun, nor even a lighthouse–but a plain, common lamp or lantern which one can carry about in the hand.¬†

It is a lamp “for the feet,” not throwing its beams afar, not illumining a hemisphere–but shining only on the one little bit of road on which the pilgrim’s feet are walking.

The law of divine guidance is,¬†“Step by step”. One who carries a lantern on a country-road at night, sees only¬†one step¬†before him. If he takes that step, he carries his lantern forward, and thus makes another step plain. At length he reaches his destination in safety, without once stepping into darkness. The whole way has been made light for him, though only a¬†single step¬†of it at a time. This illustrates the usual method of¬†God’s guidance.

If this is the way God guides, it ought never to be hard for us to find¬†our duty. It never lies far away, inaccessible to us–but is always near. It never lies out of our sight, in the darkness, for God never puts our duty where we cannot see it. The thing that we think may be our duty, but which is still lying in obscurity and uncertainty–is not our duty yet, whatever it may be a little farther on.¬†The duty for the very moment is always clear, and that is as far as we need concern ourselves; for when we do the little that is clear, we will carry the light on, and it will shine on the next moment’s step.

Jesus said, “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness.” Prompt, unquestioning, undoubting following of Christ–takes all the perplexity out of Christian life and gives unbroken peace. There never is a moment without its duty; and if we are living near to Christ and following Him closely, we shall never be left in ignorance of what He wants us to do.

Our daily prayer should be, “Direct my¬†footsteps¬†according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me.” Psalm 119:133

We should learn a lesson from the old heathen artist!

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We should learn a lesson from the old heathen artist!

(J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890)

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

“In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah . . . and his wife Elizabeth . . . Both of them were upright¬†in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” Luke 1:5-6

This is a beautiful thing which God said of them. Yet, after all, that is the test which every life must endure. It is not enough to have¬†human¬†commendation. The question is: How do we stand before God? How does our life appear to¬†Him?¬†It does not matter how¬†men¬†praise and commend us, if¬†God¬†seesthat we are living wrong. The Pharisees were righteous before¬†men;¬†but if you would see how they stood in¬†God’s eye, read the twenty-third chapter of Matthew: “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to Hell!” (verse 33)

We are in¬†reality, just what we are¬†before Godnothing less, nothing more!¬†The question we should always ask ourselves is,¬†“What does¬†God¬†think of me?” If we would meet His approval, we must first have our hearts right–and then we must be blameless and upright in every part of our life.

One of the old heathen artists was chiseling the back part of his marble statue with great pains. “Why do you carve the tresses on back of the head of your statue so carefully?” asked one; “it will stand high in its niche against the wall, and no one will ever see its¬†back.”¬†“The gods will see it!”¬†was the reply.

We should learn a lesson from the old heathen artist!¬†We should do our work just as honestly, where it will be covered up and never seen by human eyes–as where it is to be open to the scrutiny of the world. For God will see it!¬†We should live just as purely and beautifully in secret,¬†as in the glare of the world’s gaze!¬†

There really is no such thing as¬†secrecy¬†in this world. We¬†imagine¬†that no eye is looking, when we are not in the presence of¬†men. But really,¬†we always have a spectator–we are living all our life in the presence God Himself! We should train ourselves, therefore, to live for the Divine eye in all that we do–that our life may stand the Divine inspection, and that we may have the approval and commendation of God Himself!

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account!” Hebrews 4:13

 

The God of the broken-hearted

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The God of the broken-hearted

(J.R. Miller, “The Beatitude for the Unsuccessful” 1892)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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

“The Lord is near the broken-hearted.” Psalm 34:18

The God of the Bible is the God of the broken-hearted. 

The world cares little for the broken hearts. Indeed, people oftentimes break hearts by their cruelty, their falseness, their injustice, their coldness–and then move on as heedlessly as if they had trodden only on a worm! But God cares. Broken-heartedness attracts Him. The plaint of grief on earth, draws Him down from heaven.

Physicians in their rounds do not stop at the homes of the¬†well, but of the¬†sick. So it is with God in His movements through this world. It is not to the whole and the well–but to the wounded and stricken, that He comes with sweetest tenderness! Jesus said of His mission: “He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted.” Isaiah 61:1

We look upon¬†trouble¬†as misfortune. We say that the life is being destroyed, which is passing through¬†adversity. But the truth which we find in the Bible, does not so represent¬†suffering. God is a repairer and restorer of the hurt and ruined life. He takes the bruised reed, and by His gentle skill makes it whole again, until it grows into fairest beauty. The love, pity, and grace of God, minister sweet blessing of comfort and healing–to restore the broken and wounded hearts of His people.

Much of the most beautiful life in this world, comes out of sorrow. As “fair flowers bloom upon rough stalks,” so many of the fairest flowers of human life grow upon the¬†rough stalks of suffering. We see that those who in heaven wear the whitest robes, and sing the loudest songs of victory–are those who have come out of¬†great tribulation. Heaven’s highest places are filling, not from earth’s homes of glad festivity and tearless joy–but from its chambers of pain; its valleys of struggle where the battle is hard; and its scenes of sorrow, where pale cheeks are wet with tears, and where hearts are broken. The God of the Bible is the God of the¬†bowed down–whom He¬†lifts up¬†into His strength.

God is the God of those who¬†fail. Not that He loves those who stumble and fall, better than those who walk erect without stumbling; but He helps them more. The weak believers get more of His grace, than those who are strong believers. There is a special divine promise which says, “My divine power is made perfect in weakness.” When we are conscious of our¬†own¬†insufficiency–then we are ready to receive of the¬†divine¬†sufficiency. Thus our very weakness is an element of strength. Our weakness is an empty cup, which God fills with His own strength.

You may think that your weakness unfits you for noble, strong, beautiful living–or for sweet, gentle, helpful serving. You wish you could get clear of it. It seems to burden you–an ugly spiritual deformity. But really it is something which, if you give it to Christ–He can transform into a blessing, a source of His power. The friend by your side, whom you envy because he seems so much stronger than you are–does not get so much of Christ’s strength as you do. You are weaker than him–but your weakness draws to you¬†divine¬†power and makes you strong.

“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

Our words and deeds are irrevocable

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Our words and deeds are irrevocable

(J.R. Miller, “Devotional Hours with the Bible”)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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


“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for¬†every careless word¬†they have spoken!” Matthew 12:36¬†

We cannot recall any¬†word¬†we have spoken. It may be a¬†false¬†word or an¬†unkind¬†word–a word which will blast and burn! Instantly after it has been spoken, we may wish it back and may rush after it and try to stop it–but there is no power in the world that can¬†unsay¬†the hurtful word, or blot it out of our life!

It is just so with our acts. A moment after we have done a wicked thing, we may bitterly repent it. We may be willing to give all we have in the world to undo it, to make it as though it never had been. But in vain. A deed done takes its place in the universe as a fact, and never can be recalled. 

We should be sure¬†before¬†we speak¬†a word or do¬†an act that it is right, that we shall never desire to have it recalled–for when once we have opened our lips, or lifted our hand, there will be no¬†unsaying¬†or¬†undoing¬†possible.

Our¬†words¬†and¬†deeds¬†are irrevocable. We cannot recall anything we have done, neither can we change it. But by other words and deeds, we may in some measure¬†modify¬†the effect of that which we cannot blot out. Paul could not undo his persecutions of Christians–but by a life to devotion to Christ’s cause–he could in a sense make reparation for the terrible harm he had done.¬†

Just so, we cannot undo the¬†wrong things¬†we have done–but we should strive to set in motion other influences which may at least compensate in some sense for the harm they have wrought. We cannot unsay the sharp word which wounds our friend’s heart–but we can by kindness and loyal devotion, yet bring good and blessing to his life.

Something to ponder
“There is no surer characteristic of a sincere lover of Christ, than a habitual desire to be like Christ, and an ardent zeal to promote His glory!” Archibald Alexander, 1772-1851

Do we love the Word?

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Do we love the Word?

(Thomas Watson, 1620-1686, “The Godly Man’s Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil“)

A godly man is a lover of the Word of God. Christ is the fountain of living water, the Word is the golden pipe through which it runs! 

A godly man diligently¬†reads¬†the Word of God. The noble Bereans “searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). Apollos was mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:24). The Word is the field where the Pearl of Great Price is hidden. How we should dig for this pearl! A godly man’s heart is the library to hold the Word of God; it dwells richly in him (Colossians 3:16). By diligent conversing with Scripture, we may¬†carry a Bible in our heads!

A godly man frequently¬†meditates¬†on the Word of God. “Oh, how I love your law!¬†I¬†meditate¬†on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97). A pious soul meditates on the truth and holiness of the Word. He not only has a few transient thoughts, but leaves his mind¬†steeping in the Scripture. By meditation, he sucks honey from this sweet flower, and ruminates on holy truths in his mind.

A godly man¬†delights¬†in the Word of God. It is his recreation. “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s¬†delight” (Jeremiah 15:16). Never did a man take such delight in a dish that he loved, as the prophet did in the Word. And indeed, how can a saint choose but take great pleasure in the Word? All of his eternal hopes are contained in it. Does not a son take pleasure in reading his father’s will and testament, in which he bequeaths his estate to him? “I¬†delight¬†in your commands¬†because I love them!¬†(Psalm 119:47)¬†

A godly man¬†hides¬†the Word of God. “Your word have I¬†hidden¬†in my heart” (Psalm 119:11)–as one hides a treasure so that it should not be stolen. The Word is the jewel; the heart is the cabinet where it must be locked up. Many hide the Word in their memory–but not in their heart. And why would David enclose the Word in his heart? “That I might be kept from sinning against You.” As a man would carry an antidote about him when he comes near an infected place, so a godly man carries the Word in his heart as a spiritual antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin. Why have so many been poisoned with error, others with moral vice–but because they have not hidden the Word as a holy antidote in their heart!

Do we love the Word? 
When we need direction, do we consult this sacred oracle? 
When we find¬†corruptions¬†strong, do we make use of this “sword of the Spirit” to hew them down?¬†
When we are disconsolate, do we go to this bottle of the water of life for comfort? 
Then we are lovers of the Word! 

“I¬†love¬†your commands¬†more than gold, more than pure gold!”¬†(Psalm 119:127)

 

I belong to the church; I suppose I am a Christian

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I belong to the church; I suppose I am a Christian

(J.C. Ryle, “Are You Born Again?“)

Are¬†you¬†born again? This is one of life’s most important questions. Jesus Christ said, “Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God!” John 3:3

It is not enough to reply, “I belong to the church; I suppose I am a Christian.” Thousands of¬†nominal¬†Christians show none of the signs of being born again which the Scriptures have given us in the First Epistle of John.

“No one who is born of God will¬†continue¬†to sin” 1 John 3:9¬†

“We know that anyone born of God does not¬†continue¬†to sin” 1 John 5:18

A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin. He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination. There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil. There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends. But the true Christian . . .
  hates sin, 
  flees from sin, 
  fights against sin,
  considers sin his greatest plague,
¬† resents the burden of sin’s presence,
¬† mourns when he falls under sin’s influence,¬†
  and longs to be completely delivered from sin. 

Sin no longer pleases him, nor is it even a matter of indifference to him; it has become the horrible thing which he hates. However, he cannot eliminate its presence within him.

If he said that he had no sin, he would be lying, 1 John 1:8. But he can say that he¬†hates¬†sin, and that the great desire of his soul is not to commit sin at all. He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appearing in both his words and his actions. He knows that “we all stumble in many ways,” James 3:2. But he can truly say in the sight of God, that these things cause him grief and sorrow, and that his whole nature does not consent to them. What would the apostle say about you? Are¬†you¬†born again?

“No one who lives in Him¬†keeps on¬†sinning. No one who¬†continues¬†to sin has either seen Him or known Him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.” 1 John 3:6-7¬†

 

A poor shoemaker in his dreary little shop

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A poor shoemaker in his dreary little shop

(J.R. Miller, “The Wider Life” 1908)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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


“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though¬†outwardly¬†we are wasting away, yet¬†inwardly¬†we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

“For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die!” 1 Corinthians 15:53

The lesson of the imperishable life, has a special application to those who suffer from sickness or from any bodily affliction. It will help us to endure physical sufferings quietly and unmurmuringly, if we will remember that it is only the outward man that can be touched and affected by these experiences, and that the inward man may not only be kept unharmed, but may be growing all the while in beauty and strength, being spiritually renewed through pain and suffering.

A poor shoemaker in his dreary little shop¬†in a great city, one day noticed that there was one little place in his dark room, from which he could get a view of green fields, blue skies and faraway hills. He wisely set up his bench at that point, so that at any moment he could lift his eyes from his dull work–and have a glimpse of the great, beautiful world outside.¬†

Just so, from the darkest sick-room, and from the midst of the keenest sufferings, there is always a point from which we can see the face of Christ and have a glimpse of the glory of Heaven. If only we will find this place and get this vision, it will make it easy to endure even the greatest suffering.

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down–when we die and leave these bodies–we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

Sickness is discouraging and is hard to bear. But we should remember that the doing of the will of God is always the noblest, holiest thing we can do any hour–however hard it may be for us. If we are called to suffer, let us suffer patiently and sweetly. Under all our sharp trials, let us keep the peace of God in our hearts. The¬†outward¬†man may indeed decay, but the¬†inward¬†man will be renewed day by day.

 

They play with fire, and wonder why they are burned!

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They play with fire, and wonder why they are burned!

(J.R. Miller, “The Way of Safety“, 1912)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from¬†presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” Psalm 19:12, 13

Here the Psalmist prays to be kept from committing presumptuous sins. He knows the danger there is in such sins, and so pleads to be held back from them–that is, from willful, conscious, high-handed sins.

Mark the teaching, too, that these presumptuous sins spring out of the minute hidden faults. From hidden, obscure, undiscovered faults–come presumptuous sins.¬†

A slight¬†moral weakness–grows into an evil tendency;¬†
and the¬†evil tendency¬†indulged–develops into a loathsome vice;¬†
and the¬†loathsome vice–ripens into a¬†presumptuous sin!¬†

We need to guard against carelessness concerning ‘little sins’.¬†
The hidden fault lurking in the nature, may grow into a presumptuous sin!

¬†¬† Sow a¬†thought–and you will reap an act;¬†
¬†¬† sow an¬†act–and you will reap a habit;¬†
¬†¬† sow a¬†habit–and you will reap a character;¬†
¬†¬† sow a¬†character–and you will reap a¬†destiny!

The course of sin is terrible! The little beginnings of sin, grow into appalling consequences! Be afraid of little sins and temptations.

There are some people who are always¬†courting danger. Sin seems to have a¬†fascinationfor them. One of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer is, “Lead us not into temptation.” To expose ourselves needlessly to temptation, is presumption! Yet there are many who do this.¬†They play with fire, and wonder why they are burned!¬†They¬†dally with ‘little sins’, and end in¬†shameful degradation¬†at the last! They pay the penalty in moral and spiritual ruin.¬†

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