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May we see our sins

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May we see our sins

(
Henry Law, “Family Prayers”)

O God the Holy Spirit, have mercy upon us miserable sinners. Move, we beseech You, in our disordered hearts. Remove the deformities of unruly desires and hateful lusts. Chase away the mists and darkness of unbelief. Brighten our inner man with the pure light of truth. Sow abundantly the seeds of righteousness. Make our souls fragrant as the garden of the Lord. Enrich them with every godly fruit. Beautify them with heavenly grace. Be our comforter, our guide, our light, our sanctification. 

Especially take of the things of Christ, and show them with enlarged power to our longing souls. May we daily learn more of His love, His grace, His tender compassion, His faithfulness, and His beauty. May we delight ourselves in Him with increased delight.¬†Lead us to the cross, and show us in His wounds–the hateful character of sin.¬†May we see our sins, as . . .¬†
  the nails which transfixed Him,
  the cords which bound Him,
  the sword which pierced Him,
  the thorns which tore Him,
  the taunts which stung Him. 

Help us to read in His cruel death, the reality and immensity of His love. 

Open to us the wondrous volumes of glorious truth in the cry,¬†“It is finished!”¬†
Our atonement is forever achieved, 
our debt is fully paid, 
all our guilt is washed away,
all our sins most righteously forgiven,
our souls saved,
Hell vanquished,
the devil crushed,
Heaven won, and 
eternity of glory our rightful home!

Holy Spirit, deepen in us these saving lessons. 
Write them with Your finger on the tablets of our hearts. 

May our walk be . . .
  sin-loathing,
  sin-fleeing,
  Christ-loving,
  God-fearing!

Believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil

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Believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil

(Charles Spurgeon)

“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¬†

The Christian does not merely hold this truth as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet. 

The poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions, have worked the cure. 

The sharp cuts of the lancet, have cleansed out the infected flesh and facilitated the healing. 

In every event of your life, God has always worked out the most divinely blessed results.

Believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil–the believer’s heart is comforted, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine! Send me what You will, my Father, so long as it comes from You!”

The crying evil of both the Church and of the world!

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The crying evil of both the Church and of the world! 

(Thomas Reade, “The Desire of More”)¬†

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and¬†covetousness, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5¬†

“You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or¬†covetous¬†person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a¬†covetous¬†person is really an¬†idolater¬†who worships the things of this world.” Ephesians 5:5¬†

The love of money
 under every form, insinuates itself into every heart. 

A day is fast approaching when it will be clearly seen whether Christ or Mammon has swayed our affections. 

Covetousness
, in the language of Scripture, is the desire of having more. If we are habitually desirous of riches, for their own sake, we are, in the estimation of God, covetous people, idolaters, the servants of mammon. Our station may be exalted; our profession of religion may be outwardly strict, but still our destruction is sure. 

There are, perhaps, few sins which assume so plausible an appearance; and for which so many excuses are made as for that ofcovetousness. And hence it is that we have need to guard so much the citadel of the heart. 

Covetousness
, eating¬†like a canker, upon the vitals of our religion–is¬†the crying evil of both the Church and of the world!¬†

What advantage did Lot’s wife, Achan, Gehazi, Judas, and Ananias and Sapphira, gain by their desire for more? They reaped shame and death; and now stand as¬†beacons¬†in the Word of God to warn us against their soul-destroying sin!¬†

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?”¬†Luke 9:25¬†

As foolish as to hope to bind an angel with a string, or to lure a star with music!

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As foolish as to hope to bind an angel with a string, or to lure a star with music! 

(Charles Spurgeon)

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes!” Romans 1:16¬†

To try to win a soul to Christ by keeping that soul in ignorance of any truth, is contrary to the mind of the Spirit. To endeavor to save men by mere claptrap, or entertainments, or excitements, or oratorical displays–is¬†as foolish as to hope to bind an angel with a string, or to lure a star with music!¬†

The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men, is the truth as it is in Jesus. The gospel will be found equal to every emergency. The gospel is an¬†arrow¬†which can pierce the hardest heart–a¬†balm¬†which will heal the deadliest wound. Preach it, and preach nothing else. Rely implicitly upon the old, old gospel.¬†

You need no other nets when you fish for men; those your Master has given you are strong enough for the large fish, and have meshes fine enough to hold the little ones. 

Spread those nets and no others, and you need not fear the fulfillment of His Word, “I will make you fishers of men.”

The diamonds of Heaven!

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The diamonds of Heaven!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“You keep track of all my¬†sorrows.
 You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
¬†You have recorded each one in Your book.”¬†Psalm 56:8

“Behold, he is praying!” Acts 9:11¬†

Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven. The moment Saul began to pray, the Lord heard him. Here is comfort for the distressed but praying soul. Oftentimes a poor broken-hearted one bends his knee, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears; yet that groan has made all the harps of heaven thrill with music; that tear has been caught by God and treasured in the¬†lachrymatory of Heaven.¬†You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.”¬†This¬†implies that they are caught as they flow!¬†

The suppliant, who groans out his words, will be well understood by the Most High God. He may only look up with misty eye; but¬†prayer is the falling of a tear!¬†Tears are¬†the diamonds of Heaven!¬†Sighs¬†are a part of the music of Jehovah’s court, and are numbered with the most sublime strains which reach the majesty on high!

Do not think that your prayers, however weak or trembling, will be unregarded. Our God not only¬†hears¬†prayers, but also¬†loves¬†to hear them. “He does not forget the cry of the humble.”¬†

True, He does not regard proud looks and lofty words. 
He no concern for the pomp and pageantry of kings. 
He does not listen not to the swell of martial music. 
He does not regard the triumph and pride of man. 

But wherever there is a contrite heart full with sorrow, or a lip quivering with agony, or a deep groan, or a penitential sighŤĎČhe heart of Jehovah is open! He marks that prayer down in¬†the registry of His memory!¬†He puts our prayers, like rose leavesŚā≠etween the pages of His book of remembrance, and when the volume is opened at last there shall be a precious fragrance springing up therefrom!

When a tear is wept by you–do not think that God does not behold it

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When a tear is wept by you–do not think that God does not behold it

(Charles Spurgeon)

“The LORD said:
  I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt.
  I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers,
  and I am concerned about their suffering.
¬† So I have come down to¬†rescue¬†them . . .” Exodus 3:7, 8

Perhaps no figure of speech represents God in a more gracious light, than when He is spoken of as stooping from His throne and coming down from Heaven to attend to the wants and woes of His redeemed people. 

How can we but love Him, when we know that He . . .
  numbers the very hairs of our heads,
  marks all our paths, and
  orders all our ways?

When a tear is wept by you–do not think that God does not behold it
, for . . .
“You keep¬†track¬†of all my sorrows.
 You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
¬†You have¬†recorded¬†each one in Your book.” Psalm 56:8¬†

Your sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah, 
your whisper can incline His ear unto you, 
your prayer can stay His hand, 
your faith can move His arm!

Do not think that God sits on high taking no account of you. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him.

There is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life!

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There is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life!

(Charles Spurgeon) 

“Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age!” Matthew 28:20¬†

It is well that there is One who is ever the same, and who is ever with us. It is well that¬†there is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life. O my soul, do not set your affections upon rusting, moth-eaten, decaying treasures–but set your heart upon Him who abides forever faithful to you. Do not build your house upon the moving quicksands of a deceitful world–but found your hopes upon this rock, which, amid descending rain and roaring floods, shall stand immovably secure!

My soul, I charge you–lay up your¬†treasure¬†in the only secure cabinet; store your¬†jewels¬†where you can never lose them. Put your¬†all¬†in Christ; set . . .
  all your affections on His person,
  all your hope in His merit,
  all your trust in His efficacious blood,
  all your joy in His presence,
and so you may laugh at loss and defy difficulties. 

Remember that¬†all the flowers in the world’s garden wither and die–and the day is coming when nothing will be left but the black, cold earth.¬†Death’s black extinguisher¬†must soon put out your candle. Oh! how sweet to have¬†sunlight–when the¬†candle¬†is gone! The¬†dark flood¬†must soon roll between you and all you have!¬†

So wed your heart to Him who will never leave you. Trust yourself with Him who will go with you through the black and surging current of death’s stream, and who will land you safely on the celestial shore, and make you sit with Him in heavenly places forever!¬†

Go, sorrowing son of affliction–tell your secret troubles to the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Trust all your concerns with Him . . .
  who never can be taken from you,
  who will never leave you, and
¬† who will never let you leave Him, even “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”¬†

“I am with you always,”¬†is enough for my soul to live upon–though all others forsake me!

All the ‘littles’ of our little world!

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All the ‘littles’ of our little world!

(Charles Spurgeon) 

Divine omniscience affords no comfort to the ungodly mind, “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¬†

But to the child of God it overflows with consolation, “How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God.” Psalm 139:17

God is always thinking upon us; He never turns aside His mind from us, and has us always before His eyes! This is precisely as we would have it–for it would be dreadful to exist for a moment, beyond the observation of our heavenly Father! His thoughts are always filial, tender, loving, wise–and they bring to us countless benefits. Hence it is a choice delight for us to remember them.

The Lord¬†has¬†always thought upon His people–hence their election and the covenant of grace by which their salvation is secured.¬†

He always¬†will¬†think upon them–hence their continual preservation by which they shall be brought safely to their heavenly rest.¬†

In all our wanderings, the watchful glance of the Eternal Watcher is evermore fixed upon us!¬†We never roam beyond the Shepherd’s eye!¬†In our¬†sorrows¬†He observes us incessantly, and not a pang escapes Him! In our¬†toils¬†He marks all our weariness, and writes in His book all the struggles of His faithful ones. These thoughts of the Lord encompass us in all our paths, and penetrate the innermost region of our being. Not a nerve or tissue, valve or vessel, of our bodily organization is uncared for.¬†All the ‘littles’ of our little world, are thought upon by the great God!

Dear reader, is not this precious to you? The Lord lives and thinks upon you! 

If the Lord thinks upon you, then all is well, and you may rejoice evermore!

We are tossed upon an ocean of troubles, fears and temptations!

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We are tossed upon an ocean of troubles, fears and temptations!

(John Flavel)

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” John 16:33¬†

The way to Heaven lies through much tribulation. All our troubles are not over when we are saved by Christ; nay, then commonly our greatest sorrows begin! Nor are we to expect freedom from our troubles, until harbored in Heaven.

This winter weather shall be useful to destroy those noxious weeds, which the summer of prosperity bred. By wintry trials, God will mortify and purge our corruptions!

At present¬†we are tossed upon an ocean of troubles, fears and temptations–but these will make Heaven all the sweeter. Cheer up, then, O my soul, your salvation is now nearer than when you first believed! Yet a few more days, and then comes that blessed day you have so long waited and panted for!

God will shortly put a blessed end to all of your soul troubles, cares and watchings. The time is coming, when your heart shall be as you would have it, when you shall be discharged of all these cares, fears and sorrows, and never more cry out: “O my hard, my proud, my vain, my earthly heart!”

The time is coming, when all vanity shall be purged perfectly out of your thoughts–and they will be everlastingly, ravishingly, and delightfully entertained and exercised upon that supreme goodness and infinite excellency of God!
 
“Then the King will say to those on His right: Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world!” Matthew 25:34

The one indispensable book!

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The one indispensable book!

(Daniel March, 1870)

The Bible is the¬†oldest–and the¬†newest¬†of books.

The Bible surveys the whole field of¬†time–and it looks farthest into the infinite depths of¬†eternity.¬†

The Bible lends the most vivid and absorbing interest to the scenes and events of the¬†past–and it keeps us in the most active sympathy with the time in which we live.¬†

The Bible gives us the most reliable record of what¬†has¬†been–and it affords us our only means of knowing what is¬†yet¬†to be.¬†

The Bible is¬†holy¬†enough to denounce the very shadow and semblance of sin–and it is¬†merciful¬†enough to save the chief of sinners.¬†

The Bible is full of¬†God–and must therefore be read with a pure heart, or its true glory will not be seen.¬†
The Bible is full of¬†man–and must therefore always be interesting and instructive to all who would know themselves.

The Bible is the¬†plainest¬†of books–and yet it has¬†depths of wisdom¬†which no created mind can fathom.¬†

The Bible is set up as a beacon to show all wanderers the safe way–and yet its light shines forth from thick clouds of mystery, and from abysses of infinite darkness.¬†

The Bible describes all conditions of life–and it gives utterance to all desires and emotions of the soul.¬†

The Bible has a song of triumph for the¬†overcomer–and a wail of defeat for the¬†overcome.¬†

The Bible . . .
  sparkles with the fervor and gladness of youth,
  celebrates the strength and glory of manhood,
  bewails the sorrows and infirmities of old age. 

The Bible . . .
  exults in the mighty deeds of kings and conquerors, 
  sympathizes with the poor and lowly, 
  lifts up the fallen, 
  delivers the oppressed, and 
  breathes the blessing of peace upon the quiet homes of domestic life. 

The Bible describes with startling clearness . . .
  the seductions of temptation,
  the conflicts of doubt and
  the miseries of skepticism. 

The Bible . . .
  searches the secret chambers of the heart, 
  brings to light its purest love and its darkest hate, 
  reveals its highest joy and its deepest grief. 

The Bible compasses the utmost range of¬†thought¬†and¬†feeling¬†and¬†desire–and it sounds the utmost depth of¬†motive¬†and¬†characterand¬†passion.

Thus in the Bible, 
  God and man,
  earth and heaven,
¬† time and eternity–
speak with one voice and teach the same truth. 

The Bible sets forth the most spiritual and heavenly truths–in the lights and shadows of earthly scenes and human characters.¬†

Thus the Bible is the one indispensable book . . .
¬† for all ages–and all nations,
¬† for all classes of men–and all states of society,
¬† for all capacities of intellect–and all necessities of the soul!

The Complaint!

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The Complaint!

(James Smith, 1864)

“O my God, my soul is cast down within me!”¬†Psalm 42:6¬†

And why are you cast down? 

“My heart is burdened with a sense of my short-comings.¬†
 Every holy duty I perform is so imperfect. 
 Every good purpose I form is so soon frustrated. 
 Every hope of seeing better days is so soon beclouded.
 My heart is so fearfully depraved.
 My life is so unlike the life of Jesus.
 My affections are so unholy.
 My prayers are so brief and heartless.
 My praises are so feeble and fitful.
 I do so little good.
 I live to so little purpose.
 My evidences are so dim. 
 My prospects are so overcast. 
 I am harassed sometimes with the fear of death. 
 I cannot grasp the glories of Heaven. 
¬†I am dissatisfied with the¬†world–and yet glued to it!¬†
¬†I hate¬†sin–and yet fall into it!¬†
 I am a riddle, a mystery, a mass of inconsistency! 
¬†Is it, then, any wonder that I am cast down?”¬†

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

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

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

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

Regardless of any amount of spiritual progress, your¬†dying prayer¬†will still be,¬†“God be merciful unto me–a sinner!”

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

He will save you for His own sake, and present you before assembled worlds as a monument of His mercy, and a trophy of His grace!

“Why are you cast down, O my soul?¬†Why so disturbed within me?
 
Put your hope in God,¬†for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and ¬†my God!”¬†Psalm 42:5

My Father’s home!

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My Father’s home!

(James Smith, “The Better Land”)

“Do not be troubled. There are many rooms in¬†my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am!” John 14:1-3¬†

How familiar with Heaven–how well acquainted with that “better land” must Jesus be! He calls it¬†“My Father’s home!”¬†Sweet view of our eternal residence!

Dying is but ‘going home!’ Going home to our Father! Going to our Father’s home!

And shall we fear this? Fear it! Can we do anything other than eagerly desire it? Do we not wish to go home and see our Father? We shall not be strangers there–so many of our Christian friends have gone home before us. And even if some of our loved ones are not there–we could not possibly feel unhappy where JESUS is!

“I am leaving the world,” said Jesus, “and am¬†going to My Father!”¬†Such should be our language in the prospect of death. O that, with child-like simplicity, we could receive into our minds the testimony of God’s Word! O that we could view death and Heaven–just as the Scriptures represent them! Where would our¬†doubts¬†and¬†fears¬†be then? What would become of our¬†reluctance¬†to leave the world then? Then, if we spoke of departed Christian loved ones–we would use similar language to that of Judah in reference to his younger brother Benjamin,¬†“He is this day with our Father!”¬†We would no longer talk of¬†losing¬†friends or relatives. Oh no! we should speak of them as being in our Father’s home, or of being with our Father!

My soul, I charge you in future to look to Heaven, simply as¬†your Father’s home!

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18¬†

They sing best in their cages!

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They sing best in their cages!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name!”¬† Psalm 33:21

Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress. Although trouble may surround them, they still sing. Like many birds–they sing best in their cages!¬†

The¬†waves¬†may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God’s countenance.¬†

In times of trouble, the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy.

He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. 

He is¬†dying, but Jesus puts His arms around him and cries, “Fear not, beloved, to die is to be blessed–the waters of death have their fountainhead in Heaven. They are not bitter–they are as sweet as nectar, for they flow from the throne of God.”¬†

As the departing saint wades through the stream and the billows gather around him, the same voice sounds in his ears, “Fear not, I am with you! Be not dismayed, I am your God.”

As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown, Jesus says, “Fear not, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom!”

Thus strengthened and consoled, the believer is not afraid to die. No, he is even willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs to gaze upon Him as the sun in its strength. “I desire to depart and¬†be with Christ, which is better by far!” Philippians 1:23

Truly the presence of Jesus is all the Heaven we desire! 

You must be born again!

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You must be born again!

(Don Fortner)

“You must be born again!” John 3:7

In order for God to save a sinner two things must be done: 
God must do something FOR you, and God must do something IN you.

  Redemption is the work of God FOR sinners. 

  Regeneration is the work of God IN sinners. 

Both are the works of God. Man has nothing more to do with regeneration, than he has to do with redemption.

“You must be born again” because by nature we are fallen, sinful, depraved children of human flesh. All flesh is defiled. All flesh is corrupt. All flesh is sinful. All flesh is condemned. All flesh must die. Unless we are born of the Spirit, we will die in our sins, and our flesh¬† shall be justly damned.

“You must be born again!”¬†
You can reform your life without the new birth. 
You can be baptized without the new birth. 
You can join the church, be zealous in religion, teach a Bible class, serve as a deacon or elder; you can even preach with great success without being born again. 

“You must be born again” for without the new birth . . .
  you will never enter the kingdom of God, 
  you will never be a part of the family of God, 
  you will never have eternal life, 
¬† you will never be admitted into the presence of God’s glory in the bliss of Heaven.¬†
Only new creatures will enter the New Jerusalem. 
Only holy men will walk into the Holy City. 
Only Heaven born citizens will possess the bliss of Heaven.

To be born again is to be made new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). 
In the new birth, God the Holy Spirit gives chosen, redeemed sinners . . .
  a new heart to love God,
  a new will to bow to the rule of Christ,
  a new mind to understand the things of God,
  a new spiritual nature to know, enjoy, and live upon spiritual things,
  new eyes, eyes of faith, with which to see Christ,
  new ears with which to hear His voice,
  new hands, hands of faith, with which to lay hold of Christ and do His will,
  new feet, with which to flee to Christ and walk with Him in the newness of life.

John 3:3, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again!”¬†

What a compassionate, gracious arrangement!


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What a compassionate, gracious arrangement!

(Susannah Spurgeon, “Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!” 1898)

“My times are in Your hand!”¬†Psalm 31:15¬†

Why then, need I worry or tremble? That great, loving, powerful¬†hand¬†keeps all the events of my life sealed and secure within its almighty clasp! Only He, my Maker and my Master, can permit them to be revealed to me as His will for me.¬†What a compassionate, gracious arrangement!¬†How eminently fitted to fulfill that sweet promise of His Word, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You!” If we fully believed this, we would be absolutely devoid of the¬†worry¬†which corrodes and chafes the daily life of so many professing Christians.

“My times.” Not one or two¬†important¬†epochs of my history only–but¬†everything¬†that concerns me:
  joys that I had not expected,
  sorrows that must have crushed me, if they could have been anticipated, 
  sufferings which might have terrified me by their grimness, had I looked upon them,
  surprises which infinite love had prepared for me,
¬†¬†services¬†of which I could not have imagined myself capable–
all these lay in that mighty hand, as the purposes of God’s eternal will for me.¬†

But, as they have developed gradually and silently–how great has been the¬†love¬†which appeared enwrapping and enfolding each one!¬†
Has not the¬†grief¬†been measured–while the¬†gladness¬†has far more abounded?¬†
Have not the comforts and consolations–exceeded the crosses and afflictions?¬†
Have not all things been so arranged, and ordered, and undertaken, and worked out on our behalf–that we can but marvel at the goodness and wisdom of God, in meting out from that dear¬†hand¬†of His, all the “times” that have passed over us?

You agree with me in all this, do you not, dear reader? Then I beg you to apply it to your present circumstances, however dark or difficult they may be.¬†They have come directly from your Father’s hand to you, and they are His dear will for you!

What! The Whole Of It Meaningless?

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What! The whole of it meaningless?

(Charles Spurgeon) 

“Behold, all is vanity!” Ecclesiastes 1:14

Nothing can fully satisfy a person, but the Lord’s love and the Lord’s own self. Saints have tried other pursuits, but they have been driven out of such foolish and fatal refuges.

Solomon, the wisest of men, was permitted to make experiments for us all, and to do for us what we must not dare to do for ourselves. Here is his testimony in his own words: “So I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind! Nothing was gained under the sun!” “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

What! the whole of it meaningless?¬†O favored monarch, is there nothing in all your wealth? Nothing in your wide dominion reaching even to the sea? Nothing in your glorious palaces? In all your music and dancing, and wine and luxury–is there nothing?¬†
“Nothing!”¬†he says,¬†“but a chasing after the wind!”¬†
This was his final verdict, when he had trodden the whole round of pleasure.

To embrace our Lord Jesus, to dwell in His love, and be fully assured of union with Him–this is¬†all in all.¬†

Dear reader, you need not try other forms of pleasure in order to see whether they are better than the Christian’s. If you roam the world around, you will see no sights like a sight of the Savior’s face! If you could have all the comforts of life, but lost your Savior–you would be most wretched. But if you possess Christ,¬†though you should rot in a dungeon–you would find it a paradise! Though you should live in obscurity, or die with famine–yet you would be satisfied with the favor and goodness of the Lord!¬†

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.¬†What is more,¬†I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ!” Philippians 3:7-8¬†

The Savior’s abiding presence with His redeemed people!

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The Savior’s abiding presence with His redeemed people!

(J.R. Miller, “The Practical Value of a Promise“)

“O LORD, You have searched me and You know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
 You perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
 You are familiar with all my ways!
¬†Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, O LORD!” Psalm 139:1-4

Doctrines are not such cold, lifeless things as some would have us to believe. There is no doctrine of Scripture which is not fitted toaffect the life¬†of him who believes it. Consider the proper influence upon us, of the doctrine and promise of¬†the Savior’s abiding presence with His redeemed people. If we believe and always recollect that Christ is truly with us always–how will it affect us?

For one thing it will make us very thoughtful and careful in all our words and acts. Christ is present in His¬†holiness¬†as well as in His love and tenderness. His pure eyes see all our life, and see into our hearts. He is ever beholding us–our real inner life.

The thought of the Master’s eye¬†upon us should . . .
  make us holy,
  rebuke our sins, and
  hold us back from evil. 

We cannot do wicked things in the presence of even a pure and holy human friend. But could we be continually conscious of Christ’s perpetual presence with us, of His eye ever resting upon us, then . . .
  Could we run into sin?
  Could we live carelessly?
  Could we trifle?
  Could we speak sharp, bitter, or unkind words?
  Could we do unholy, unlovely things? 

Surely the realizing of His perpetual abiding presence would make us live reverently, purely, lovingly–so as always to please and never to grieve Him.

Walking in the truth

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Walking in the truth

(Charles Spurgeon)

“For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, even as you walk in the truth.” 3 John 3¬†

The truth was in Gaius–and Gaius walked in a the truth.¬†
If the first had not been the case–the second could never have occurred.
If the second could not be said of him–the first would have been a mere pretense.¬†

Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it–or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of¬†mere creed–are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the body. But doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body.¬†

Truth must be a living force in us, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the warp and woof of our being. 

It is a rule of nature–that the¬†inward¬†affects the¬†outward, as light shines from the center of the lantern through the glass. When, therefore, the truth is kindled within–its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and conduct.¬†

It is said that the food of certain silkworms, colors the cocoons of silk which they spin. In the same way, the nutriment upon which a man’s inward nature lives–gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him.¬†

To¬†walk in the truth, imports a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity–the natural¬†product¬†of those principles of truth which the gospel teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We may judge of the¬†secrets of the soul–by their manifestation in the man’s life.¬†

Be it ours today, O gracious Spirit, to be ruled and governed by Your divine authority, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its malignant influence to our daily walk among men. 

A cross of their own choosing

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A cross of their own choosing

(Thomas Watson, “The Art of Divine Contentment“)

“I have learned to be content¬†whatever the circumstances. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have¬† a lot. In¬†any¬†and¬†all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content–whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” Philippians 4:11-12

Paul knew how to manage in every state–he learned to be content whatever his circumstances.¬†
If he was in prosperity, he knew how to be thankful. 
If he was in adversity, he knew how to be patient. 
He was neither lifted up with¬†prosperity–nor cast down with¬†adversity.

A Christian should be content in¬†any¬†and¬†every¬†situation. Many are contented in¬†some¬†conditions–but not in¬†every¬†condition. They can be content in a wealthy state. When they have the streams of milk and honey–now they are content. But if the wind turns and is against them–now they are discontented. While they have a¬†silver crutch¬†to lean upon–they are contented; but if God breaks this crutch–now they are discontented.¬†

Many would be content with their affliction–if God would allow¬†them¬†to pick and choose. They could better endure sickness–than poverty; or bear loss of estate–than loss of children. If they might have¬†a cross of their own choosing, they would be content.¬†

But a contented Christian does not desire to choose his cross–but leaves God to choose for him. He is content both for the¬†kindof the afflictions, and the¬†duration¬†of the afflictions, which God gives him. A contented man says, “Let God apply¬†whatevermedicine¬†He pleases, and let it lie on as long as He desires. I know when it has done its cure, and eaten the¬†venom of sin¬†out of my heart–that God will take it away.”

A contented Christian, being sweetly captivated under the authority of the Word, desires to be wholly at God’s disposal, and cheerfully lives in whatever circumstances that God has placed him in. “I¬†delight¬†in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) He does not only¬†submit¬†to God’s dealings, but¬†rejoices¬†in them!

A whore’s forehead!

Grace logoA whore’s forehead!

(Thomas Brooks, “The Privy Key of Heaven” 1665)

“You have¬†a whore’s forehead, you refuse to be¬†ashamed!” Jeremiah 3:3

“Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No,¬†they have no shame at all!
¬†They do not even know¬†how to blush!” Jeremiah 6:15¬†¬†

They had sinned away shame–instead of being ashamed of sin.¬†Continuance in sin¬†had quite banished all¬†sense¬†of sin and all¬†shame¬†for sin; so that they would not allow nature to draw her¬†veil of blushing¬†before their great abominations. How applicable these scriptures are to the present time, I will leave the prudent reader to judge.

But what does the prophet do, now that they were as bold in sin, and as shameless as so many harlots; now that they were grown up to that height of sin and wickedness; now that they were above all shame and blushing; now that they were grown so proud, so hardened, so obstinate, so rebellious, so bent on self-destruction–that no¬†mercies¬†could melt them or allure them, nor any¬†threatenings¬†or¬†judgments¬†could in any way terrify them or stop them? The prophet goes into a corner, he retires into the most secret places, and there he weeps bitterly; there he weeps as if he were resolved to drown himself in his own tears. “I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears.” Jeremiah 13:17

In the times wherein¬†we¬†live, Hell seems to be broken loose, and men turned into incarnate devils! Soul-damning wickednesses walk up and down the streets with¬†a whore’s forehead, without the least check or restraint.¬†

Ah, England, England! What pride, luxury, lasciviousness, licentiousness, wantonness, drunkenness, cruelties, injustice, oppressions, fornications, adulteries, falsehoods, hypocrisies, atheisms, horrid blasphemies, and hellish impieties–are now to be found rampant in the midst of you! Ah, England! England! How are the Scriptures rejected, God derided, and wickedness tolerated!

And what is the voice of all these crying abominations–but¬†every Christian to his closet–every Christian to his closet–and there weep, with weeping Jeremiah, bitterly–for all these great abominations whereby God is dishonored openly. Oh weep in secret for their sins–who openly glory in their sins, which should be their greatest shame. Oh blush in secret for those who are past all blushing for their sins; for who knows, but that the whole land may fare the better for the sakes of a few, who are mourners in secret!

When I die I shall then have my greatest grief and my greatest joy

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When I die I shall then have my greatest grief and my greatest joy

(J.C. Ryle, Christian Leaders of the Last Century)

William Grimshaw was, above all, a man of rare humility. Few gifted men, perhaps, ever thought so humbly of themselves, or were so truly ready to honor others.

“What have we to boast of?” he once said. “What do we have, that we have not received? Freely by grace we are saved.¬†When I die I shall then have my greatest grief and my greatest joy: my greatest grief that I have done so little for Jesus; and my greatest joy that Jesus has done so much for me. My last words shall be,¬†“Here goes an unprofitable servant!”

On his deathbed he said, “Alas! what have my wretched services been. I have now need to cry, at the end of my unprofitable course:¬†God be merciful to me a sinner!”¬†

Shortly after, laying his hand on his heart, he said, “I am quite exhausted; but I shall soon be at¬†home, forever with the Lord–a poor miserable sinner redeemed by His precious blood!”

Our proper enjoyment of every earthly blessing

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Our proper enjoyment of every earthly blessing 

(Hannah More,¬† “The Love of God”)¬†

There are three requirements to our proper enjoyment 
of every earthly blessing
 which God bestows on us: 

  1. A thankful reflection on the goodness of the Giver. 

  2. A deep sense of the unworthiness of the receiver. 

  3. A sober recollection of the precarious tenure by which we hold it. 

The first would make us grateful, the second humble, the last moderate.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” James 1:17¬†

What is the best remedy against the fear of man?

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What is the best remedy against the fear of man?

(J.C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858)

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.¬†But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” Luke 12:4-5

One thing that demands our attention in these verses, is¬†Christ’s warning against the fear of man.¬†“Do not be afraid,” He says, “of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.”

But He not only tells us whom we ought¬†not¬†to fear–but of whom we¬†ought¬†to be afraid. “Fear Him,” Jesus says, “Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” The manner in which the lesson is conveyed is very striking and impressive. Twice over the exhortation is enforced. “Fear Him!” says our Lord. “Yes, I tell you, fear Him!”

The¬†fear of man¬†is one of the greatest obstacles which stand between the soul and Heaven. “What will others say of me? What will they think of me? What will others do to me?” How often these little questions have turned the balance against the soul, and kept men bound hand and foot by sin and the devil! Thousands would never hesitate a moment to storm a breach–who dare not face the laughter of relatives, neighbors and friends.

Now if the¬†fear of man¬†has such influence in these times–then how much greater must its influence have been in the days when our Lord was upon earth! If it is hard to follow Christ through ridicule and scornful words–then how much harder must it have been to follow Him through prisons, beatings, scourgings, and violent deaths! All these things our Lord Jesus knew well. No wonder that He cries,¬†“Do not be afraid!”

What is the best remedy against the fear of man?¬†How are we to overcome this powerful feeling, and break the¬†chains¬†which it throws around us? There is no remedy like that which our Lord recommends. We must supplant the fear of¬†man¬†by a higher and more powerful principle–the fear of¬†God. We must look away from those who can only hurt the body–to Him who has all dominion over the soul. We must turn our eyes from those who can only injure us in the life that now is–to Him who can condemn us to eternal misery in the life to come. Armed with this mighty principle, we shall not play the coward. Seeing Him that is invisible–we shall find the lesser fear melting away before the greater, and the weaker fear before the stronger.

“I fear God,” said Colonel Gardiner, “and therefore there is no one else that I need fear.” It was a noble saying of martyred Bishop Hooper, when a Roman Catholic urged him to save his life by recanting at the stake, “Life is sweet and death is bitter. But eternal life is more sweet–and eternal death is more bitter!”

And thus the churches were filled with unregenerate members!

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And thus the churches were filled with unregenerate members!

(Arthur Pink, 1886-1952)

Many of the pulpiteers of the past fifty years acted as though the first and last object of their calling was the salvation of souls, everything being made to bend to that aim. In consequence, the feeding of the sheep, the maintaining of Scriptural discipline in the church, and the inculcation of practical piety, was crowded out; and only too often all sorts of worldly devices and fleshly methods were employed under the plea that the end justified the means; and thus the churches were filled with unregenerate members! 

In reality, such men defeated their own aim. The hard heart must be ploughed and harrowed before it can be receptive to the gospel seed. Doctrinal instruction must be given on the character of God, the requirements of His Law, the nature and heinousness of sin–if a foundation is to be laid for true evangelism. It is useless to preach Christ unto souls, until they see and feel their desperate need of Him!

Engaged in the most menial part of the Lord’s work

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Engaged in the most menial part of the Lord’s work

(Charles Spurgeon)

“These were¬†potters, and those who dwelt among¬†plants¬†and¬†hedges. They lived there in the service of the King.” 1 Chronicles 4:23¬†

Potters¬†were not the very highest grade of workers–but “the King” needed potters, and therefore they were in royal service, although the material upon which they worked was nothing but clay. We, too, may be¬†engaged in the most menial part of the Lord’s work–but it is a great privilege to do anything for “the King”.

The text tells us of those who dwelt among¬†plants¬†and¬†hedges, having rough hedging and ditching work to do. They may have desired to live in the city, amid its life, society, and refinement–but they kept their appointed places, for they also were doing the King’s work. In the same way, the place of our habitation is fixed by God, and we are not to remove from it out of whim and caprice–but seek to serve the Lord in it, by being a blessing to those among whom we reside.¬†

These potters and gardeners had royal company, for they “lived there in the service of the King.” Just so, no lawful place, or gracious occupation, however lowly, can debar us from communion with our divine Lord. In visiting hovels, swarming lodging-houses, workhouses, or jails–we may go with the King. In all¬†works of faith¬†we may count upon Jesus’ fellowship. It is when we are in His work, that we may reckon upon His smile.¬†

You unknown workers who are occupied for your Lord amid the dirt and wretchedness of the lowest of the low–be of good cheer, for . . .
  precious jewels have been found in such lowly places,
  earthen pots have been filled with heavenly treasure, and
  noxious weeds have been transformed into precious flowers! 

Dwell with the King doing His work–and when He writes His chronicles, your name shall be recorded!

Nothing in this world is more beautiful

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Nothing in this world is more beautiful

(J.R. Miller)

A¬†ship¬†is made to go in the water, and no matter how deep the sea nor how wild the tempest–all goes well as long as the water does not get into the ship. The problem of managing a ship, is not to keep the ship out of the water–but to¬†keep the water out of the ship!

In this sinful world, we cannot avoid all¬†cares¬†and¬†trials¬†and¬†temptations.¬†The goal of of true Christian living is to keep these cares and trials and temptations from getting into our souls. Some people let all their frets and worries at once into their hearts–and they soon live out their lives in sourness, irritability, and discontent. They become thus miserable themselves–and they make all around them miserable. They cast, not cooling, healthful, refreshing shade on others–but melancholy, darksome, chilling shadows.¬†

Learn to keep your cares in your hands–and out of your hearts.¬†Nothing in this world is more beautiful¬†than a Christian life with many trials and cares–yet remaining ever peaceful and joyous amid them all. This is the real goal of noble Christian living.

On whom do you trust?

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On whom do you trust?

(Charles Spurgeon) 

On whom do you trust?” Isaiah 36:5

Reader, this is an important question. Listen to the Christian’s answer, and see if it is yours.¬†

“On whom do you trust?”

“I trust,” says the Christian, “in the triune God of Scripture!”

I trust the Father, believing that He has chosen me from before the foundation of the world. I trust Him to provide for me in His providence, to teach me, to guide me, to correct me if need be, and to bring me home to His own house where the many mansions are!

I trust the¬†Son. The¬†man¬†Christ Jesus–is also the true¬†God. I trust in Him as my¬†Redeemer–to take away all my sins by His atoning sacrifice, and to adorn me with His perfect righteousness. I trust Him to be my¬†Intercessor, to present my prayers and desires before His Father’s throne. I trust Him to be my¬†Advocate¬†at the last great day, to plead my cause, and to justify me. I trust Him . . .
  for what He is,
  for what He has done, and
  for what He has promised yet to do!

I trust the Holy Spirit. He has begun to save me from my inbred sins; I trust Him to finally drive them all out. I trust Him . . .
  to curb my debased temperament,
  to subdue my stubborn will,
  to enlighten my darkened understanding,
  to check my evil passions,
  to comfort my despondency,
  to help my spiritual weakness,
  to provide my spiritual nourishment, 
  to reign in me as my loving King,
  to sanctify me wholly, and then
  to take me up to dwell forever in glory!

Oh, blessed trust! To trust Him . . .
   whose power will never be exhausted,
   whose love will never wane,
   whose kindness will never change,
   whose faithfulness will never fail,
   whose wisdom will never be confounded, and
   whose perfect goodness can never know a diminution!

Happy are you, reader, if this trust is yours! So trusting, you shall enjoy sweet peace now, and glory hereafter! The foundation of your trust shall never be removed!

You are greatly loved!

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You are greatly loved!

“A man greatly loved by God.” Daniel 10:11¬†

Child of God, do you hesitate to appropriate this title? Ah! has your unbelief made you forget that you are greatly loved by God? 

Must you not have been greatly loved–to have been bought with the precious blood of Christ? When God smote His only begotten Son for you–what was this but being greatly loved by Him? You lived in sin and rioted in it–must you not have been greatly loved for God to have borne so patiently with you? You were called by grace and led to the Savior, and made a child of God and an heir of¬†Heaven! All this proves, does it not–a very great and super-abounding love for you?¬†

Since that time, whether your path has been¬†rough with troubles, or¬†smooth with mercies–it has been full of proofs that you are greatly loved by God. If the Lord has¬†chastened¬†you–yet it was not in anger. If He has made you¬†poor–yet you have been¬†maderich in grace. The more unworthy you feel yourself to be–the more evidence you have that nothing but unspeakable divine love could have led the Lord Jesus to save such a soul as yours! The more demerit you feel–the clearer is the display of the abounding love of God, in having chosen you, and called you, and made you an heir of everlasting bliss!

Now, if there is such great love from God to us–let us live in the influence and sweetness of it, and use the privilege of our exalted position as God’s redeemed children. Do not let us approach our Lord as though we were¬†strangers, or as though He were¬†unwilling¬†to hear us–for we are greatly cherished by our compassionate Father!

“He who spared not His own Son–but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Come boldly, O believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubtings of your own heart–you are greatly loved!¬†Meditate on the exceeding vastness and faithfulness of Christ’s matchless love to you!

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!”¬†Ephesians 3:19¬†

I would recommend all parents to get this kind of Bible

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I would recommend all parents to get this kind of Bible

(J.R. Miller)

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path!” Psalm 119:105¬†

In many houses you will see beautiful Bibles bound handsomely in morocco leather, with gilt edges, and full of bright pictures. I love to see a beautiful Bible in a home–especially if it is not kept too clean and unsoiled. But the most beautiful form in which a household Bible can be bound, is in the holy life of godly parents. There is no tinted, gold-edged paper so lovely–as the pages God gives us on which to write our daily record.¬†

The precepts and lessons of the inspired Word sound very sweetly when read out of a richly-covered volume–but they sound far more sweetly, when the child can spell them out of the parent’s daily life.¬†

It is well for a parent to¬†read¬†to his child from the inspired page about the beauty of holiness; but it is better still when the child can¬†see¬†that beauty shining out transfigured in every feature of his parent’s character.¬†

It is well for him to read of the patience, gentleness, meekness, forbearance, and love of Christ; but it is better when he exemplifies all of these traits. 

It is well for him to teach the child what the Bible says about lying, profanity, intemperance, and all sins; it is better when his life proclaims all these lessons.

No family Bible is so well printed and bound, as the one that is printed on the heart, and bound up in the life of a godly parent.¬†I would recommend all parents to get this kind of Bible–and to keep the dust off it always by constant use. This is the best kind for a¬†lamp¬†to the children’s feet.

A beautiful Christian life is a¬†living epistle¬†written by the hand of God–which the youngest child can read before it has learned to spell out the shortest words of the language. It is a sermon that preaches Christ all day long–seven days in the week!

There is no heresy so dangerous to childhood–as heresies lived in the home!

In love He blessed us with all spiritual blessings!

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In love He blessed us with all spiritual blessings!

(James Smith, “The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion” 1859)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3

God’s love to us is infinite. He considers nothing too good or too great to confer upon His redeemed children. Having chosen us in His Son, that we may be holy and blameless before Him–in love He blessed us with all spiritual blessings. He gave us . . .
  grace in Jesus,
  grace before the foundation of the world, 
  grace for all time, 
  grace for all trials,
  grace to be given to us as our circumstances may require. 

In going to the throne of grace, therefore–we simply go to receive what our heavenly Father has stored up in Jesus for us. What sweet encouragement is this! Well may the apostle say, “Therefore let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find¬†grace¬†to help in time of need.”¬†

Blessed Lord, we thank You, we praise You, we bless Your glorious name–that You have chosen us and put us into Christ, made provision for us in Christ, and will make us perfectly holy through Christ. Teach us to come with boldness and confidence to Your throne, that we may obtain for our use, all that You have treasured up for us in Jesus. O give us . . .
  more faith in Christ,
  more humility when at your throne,
  more zeal for Your glory when in the world, 
  more love to You and Your people; and 
teach us to eat, drink, dress, and do everything to Your glory! 

O to be thoroughly Christ-like! O to reflect the glory of God on all around us! O to live and act as on the confines of eternity, as if always impressed with this fact,¬†“I shall soon be in Heaven!”¬†Gracious Savior, raise me above this world, fix my affections on Yourself, fill me with Your Spirit, and enable me to lie down tonight with the assurance that all spiritual blessings are mine!

You are either in the Word–or in the world!

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You are either in the Word–or in the world!

(Howard Hendricks)

You are either in the¬†Word,¬†and the Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ–or you are in the¬†world,¬†and the world is squeezing you into its mold!

The first reason for studying Scripture is that it is a means of spiritual growth. There is no growth apart from the Word. It is God’s primary tool to develop Christian character.

The Word of God is able to transform your life, but you must probe for its wisdom. You have to penetrate the surface with more than just a cursory glance.

The Bible was written not to satisfy your curiosity, but to conform you to Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner, but to make you like the Savior. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts, but to transform your life.

The will of God is found in the Word of God. The more a person grows, the more he begins to think instinctively and habitually from a divine perspective.


The panacea for all the ills of life!

Grace logoThe panacea for all the ills of life!

(James Smith, “The Spirit’s Work in the Believer” 1861)

“The mind of sinful man is death, but¬†the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

Spirituality flows from the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit in the soul, who . . .
  kindles spiritual love, 
  awakens spiritual desires, and 
  produces spiritual devotion. 

The Spirit’s work in the believer¬†consists:

1. In convincing us of sin, when we go astray from the right ways of the Lord.

2. In working repentance within us, and leading us to confess and mourn over our sins before God.

3. In opening up, and applying the Word of God, so that it . . .
  meets our case,
  feeds our faith,
  fires our love, and
  deepens our humility.

4. In exciting and drawing forth the soul in¬†prayer, praise, and adoration at the throne of God–so that we sometimes . . .
  melt in contrition,
  are crumbled down in humiliation,
  and are almost dissolved in love.

5. In giving us soul-refreshing glimpses . . .
  of the glorious person of Jesus,
  of the everlasting covenant,
  and of eternal glory.

6. In melting us down in sincere gratitude before God, under a sense of His undeserved favor.

7. In removing all legal fears, and causing holy peace to flow through the soul like a river.

8. In melting us in meekness, and producing sweet submission to the sovereign will of God.

9. In sweetly soothing and consoling under trials and bereavements; and enabling us to look heavenward with hope and joy.

10. In giving us sweet intimations of the love of God to us, by holy discoveries of His grace.

11. In witnessing to our¬†adoption, awakening the cry of¬†“Abba, Father!”¬†in our hearts, and enabling us to claim a filial relationship to God.

12. In drawing forth our souls in¬†love to God–under an overcoming sense of His free and unparalleled love to us.

13. In enabling us to¬†mount upward¬†as on the wings of an eagle, and to¬†run¬†with pleasure and delight in God’s holy ways.

15. In quickening us to rejoice in the Lord, when all things around are calculated to fill us with despondency and gloom.

16. In producing¬†perseverance¬†in our souls, and enabling us to look away from the things which are seen and temporal–and to look to unseen and eternal realities.

The Spirit works within the Christian, teaching him daily to make use of Christ as the panacea for all the ills of life!

In all these things, and many more–the work of the Spirit in the experience of the believer appears.

Reader, do you know anything of these things in your own experience? 
Is the Spirit daily working in your heart, and do you pay attention to . . .
  the lessons He teaches,
  the impressions He makes, and
  the direction in which He points?

O for more of the Spirit’s work within us–that we may live to the praise and glory of Him who loved us, and died to redeem us from sin, death and Hell!

Holy Spirit, work in us more and more–teaching us Your truth, and conforming us to Christ! O for more of Your power, love, and holiness!

We Drift…

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‚ÄúPeople do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.‚ÄĚ ‚Äē D.A. Carson


Busy yourselves about toys and trifles!


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Busy yourselves about toys and trifles!


(“Christ’s Famous Titles!”¬†
William Dyer, 1632-1696)

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.” John 6:27

Labor more for inward purity–than for outward felicity.¬†

That man who is a laboring bee for earthly prosperity, will be but an idle drone for heavenly felicity. 
Gold in your bags will make you greater–but it is grace in your heart that will make you holier.¬†
He is a rich man who lives upon his wealth–but he is a righteous man who lives upon his faith!¬†
A heavenly conversation, is better than any earthly possession.
It is a great mercy to have a portion in the world–but to have the world for a portion, is a great misery.¬†

Our affections were made for things that are above us, and not for things that are below us. “If you have been raised to new life with Christ,” What then? “Set your¬†hearts¬†on things above! Set your¬†minds¬†on things above, not on earthly things!” Colossians 3:1-2

But, alas! some men are so in love with their golden bags, that they will ride with all possible haste to Hell–if they are but paid well for their pains! They look upon¬†gain¬†as the highest good, and not upon¬†godliness¬†as the highest gain!¬†
They mind the¬†present¬†world so much–as if it would never have an ending!¬†
They mind the world¬†to come¬†so little–as if it would never have a beginning!¬†
The perishing things of this world–are all the happiness of the men of this world!¬†
Oh, what wretched worldlings!
 

They are diligent about what is temporal–but negligent about what is eternal!¬†
They are careful about fleeting vanities–but slothful about durable excellencies!¬†
They feast their bodies–but starve their souls!¬†
They lay up treasures on earth–but none in Heaven!¬†

“Why do you spend money on what is not food, and your wages on what does not satisfy?” Isaiah 55:2. He who knocks at the¬†creature’s door¬†for true happiness–will find but an empty house kept there.¬†

Oh, beloved, what is gold, compared to grace? What is earth, compared to Heaven? that you thus neglect the great things, the weighty things, the eternal things–and¬†busy yourselves about toys and trifles!¬†You have a¬†crown¬†to look after, a¬†Heaven¬†to look after, a¬†kingdom¬†to look after!

I beseech you, beloved, labor more for inward holiness–than for outward happiness!¬†
Labor more for the seed of grace–than for the bag of gold!
Labor more for inward piety–than for outward plenty!
Labor more for a heavenly kingdom–than for an earthly possession!¬†
The earth is a saint’s¬†passage–but Heaven is a saint’s¬†portion!

They are preaching up the devil’s old, favorite doctrine!

Grace logoThey are preaching up the devil’s old, favorite doctrine!

(J.C. Ryle)

There is such a place as Hell. Let no one deceive you with vain words. What people do not¬†like–they try hard not to¬†believe. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to judge the world, He will punish all who are not His disciples with a fearful punishment!

All who are found unrepentant and unbelieving; 
all who have clung to sin;
all who have set their affections on worldly things; 
all who are without a saving relationship to Christ–
all such shall come to a dreadful end! “Anyone whose name was not found recorded in the¬†Book of Life, was thrown into the¬†Lake of Fire!”¬†Revelation 20:15

1) I know that some people do not believe that there is¬†any¬†Hell at all.¬†They think it impossible that there can be such a place. They call it inconsistent with the¬†mercy¬†of God. They say that it is too awful an idea to be really true. The devil of course, rejoices in the views of such people. They help his kingdom mightily.¬†They are preaching up the devil’s old, favorite doctrine,¬†“You shall not surely die!”¬†Genesis 3:4

2) I know furthermore, that some do not believe that¬†Hell is¬†eternal!¬†They tell us that it is incredible that a compassionate God will punish people forever. They imagine that He will surely open the¬†prison doors of Hell¬†at last. This also is a mighty help to the devil’s cause.

3) I know also that some believe that there is a Hell, but never allow that anybody is going there! They imagine that . . .
  all people are good,
  all are sincere, 
  all mean well, and 
  all, they hope, will go to Heaven when they die!
Alas! what a common delusion is this!

If I never spoke of Hell–I would think I had kept back something that was profitable, and would look on myself as¬†an accomplice of the devil.

Reader, I beseech you, in all tender affection–beware of¬†false¬†views of the subject on which I have been dwelling. Beware of¬†new¬†and¬†strange¬†doctrines about¬†Hell¬†and the¬†eternity of punishment. Beware of manufacturing a¬†god¬†of your own:¬†
¬† a god who is all mercy–but not just;¬†
¬† a god who is all love–but not holy;¬†
¬† a god who has a Heaven for everyone–but a Hell for none;
  a god who will make no distinction between the godly and the ungodly in eternity. 

Such a god is an idol of your own imagination! It is as truly an idol, as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple! The hands of your own¬†imagination¬†and¬†sentimentality¬†have made it! It is not the God of the Bible–and beside the God of the Bible, there is no God at all.

Why do we love Jesus?

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Why do we love Jesus? 

“We love Him, because He first loved us!” 1 John 4:19¬†

We love Him, because He “gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own!”¬†Titus 2:14¬†

We love Him, because we have life through His death, and forgiveness through His blood. 

We love Him, because¬†“though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, so that we through His poverty might become rich!” 2 Corinthians 8:9¬†

We love Him, because of the excellency of His person. We are filled with . . .
 a sense of His beauty,
 an admiration of His charms,
 a consciousness of His infinite perfections! 

We love Him, because¬†His greatness, goodness, and loveliness, in one resplendent ray–combine to enchant our soul until it is so ravished that it exclaims,¬†“Yes, He is altogether lovely!”¬†

We love Him, because His love binds our hearts with chains more soft than silk, and yet stronger than iron! 

“To you who believe, He is precious!”¬†1 Peter 2:7¬†

It is not a loss to die!

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It is not a loss to die!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“The day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth!”¬†Ecclesiastes 7:1¬†

“I do not want to live forever.”¬†Job 7:16¬†


It is the very joy of this earthly life, to think that it will come to an end.


The best moment of a Christian’s life is his last one, for then he is nearest Heaven.¬†


The only people for whom I have felt any envy have been dying Christians.

 
It is not a loss to die–it is a lasting, perpetual gain.


“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21¬†


“My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better!” Philippians 1:23¬†

A sermon that will make the devils in Hell laugh, and the angels of God weep!

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A sermon that will make the devils in Hell laugh, and the angels of God weep!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2¬†

The best sermons are the sermons which are most full of Christ. 
A sermon without Christ it is a horrible thing! It is . . .
  an empty well; 
  a cloud without rain; 
  a tree twice dead, plucked by the roots. 

It is abominable to give men stones for bread, and scorpions for eggs–and yet they do so who preach not Jesus.¬†

A sermon without Christ! As well talk of a loaf of bread without any flour in it. How can it feed the soul? Men die and perish because Christ is not there, and yet His glorious gospel is the¬†easiest¬†thing to preach, and the¬†sweetest¬†thing to preach–there is most¬†variety¬†in it, there is more¬†attractiveness¬†in it than in all the world besides!

The sermon which does not lead to Christ, or of which Jesus Christ is not the top and the bottom–is a sort of¬†sermon that will make the devils in Hell laugh, and the angels of God weep!

The mark of true Gospel preaching is where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where salvation is all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus.

“We preach Christ crucified!” 1 Corinthians 1:23¬†

The sin before us is a very old one!

Grace logoThe sin before us is a very old one!

(J.C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858)

“Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.” Luke 22:24¬†

We see in¬†this passage how firmly¬†pride¬†and¬†love of preeminence¬†can stick to the hearts of Christian men. The strife was one which had been rebuked by our Lord on a former occasion. The Lord’s Supper which the disciples had just been receiving, and the circumstances under which they were assembled–made the strife particularly inappropriate.¬†

And yet at this very season, the last quiet time they could spend with their Master before His death–this little flock begins to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest!¬†

Such is the heart of man–ever weak, ever prideful, ever ready, even at its best times, to turn aside to what is evil!

The sin before us is a very old one. Ambition, self-esteem, and self-conceit–lie deep at the bottom of all men’s hearts, and often in the hearts where they are least suspected! Thousands imagine that they are humble, who cannot bear to see an equal more honored and favored than themselves. Few indeed can be found who rejoice heartily in another’s promotion over themselves.

If we make any profession of serving Christ, then let us live on our guard against this great evil. The harm that it has done to the Church of Christ, is far beyond calculation. Let us learn to take pleasure in the prosperity of others, and to be content with the lowest place for ourselves. The rule given to the Philippians should be often before our eyes, “In lowliness of mind–let each esteem others better than themselves.” The example of John the Baptist is a bright instance of the spirit at which we should aim. He said of our Lord, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”¬†

Christian, think about this!

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Christian, think about this! 

(Richard Baxter)

“Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us!”¬†Ephesians 5:2¬†

Is it a small thing in your eyes to be loved by God–to be the son, the spouse, the beloved, the delight of the King of glory?

Christian, think about this!¬†You will be eternally embraced in the arms of the love which was from everlasting, and will extend to everlasting–of the love which brought the Son of God’s love . . .¬†
  from Heaven to earth,
  from earth to the cross,
  from the cross to the grave,
¬† from the grave to glory–
that love which was weary, hungry, tempted, scorned, scourged, buffeted, spat upon, crucified, pierced–which fasted, prayed, healed, wept, sweated, bled, died.¬†That love will eternally embrace you!

“May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is! May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!”¬†Ephesians 3:18-19

It is your duty to assure him that he is not saved

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It is your duty to assure him that he is not saved

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Not everyone who¬†says¬†to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’¬†will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who¬†does the will¬†of My Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 7:21¬†

“I will tell them plainly: I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!” Matthew 7:23¬†

If a professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord’s will, but does not mean to¬†obey¬†it–then you are not to pamper his presumption, but¬†it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved.¬†

Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified, by going to religious worldlings and telling them that they are saved–while they are still wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so, I . . .
  tell them a lie,
  pervert the Gospel,
  insult Christ, and
  turn the grace of God into a license for sin!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Some benefits of sickness and affliction

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Some benefits of sickness and affliction

(J.C. Ryle)

Sickness helps . . .
  to remind men of death,
  to make men think seriously of God, and their souls, and the world to come,
¬† to soften men’s hearts, and teach them wisdom,¬†
  to abase and humble us, 
¬† to try men’s religion, of what sort it is.

The¬†storms of winter¬†often bring out the defects in a man’s dwelling. In the same way, sickness often exposes the gracelessness of a man’s soul. Surely anything that makes us find out the real character of our faith, is a good thing.

Sicknesses, losses, crosses, anxieties and disappointments–seem absolutely needful to keep us humble, watchful and spiritual-minded. They are as needful as the pruning knife to the vine; and the refiner’s furnace to the gold.

There is no commentary that opens up the Bible, so much as sickness and sorrow!

There are no lessons so useful–as those learned in the¬†school of affliction.¬†

By affliction, God . . .
  shows us our emptiness and weakness, 
  draws us to the throne of grace, 
  purifies our affections, 
  weans us from the world, 
  and makes us long for Heaven!

He is a bad preacher!

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He is a bad preacher!

(Charles Spurgeon) 

“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” Joel 1:3¬†

In this simple way, by God’s grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land. The beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the gospel to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants.¬†

This is our¬†first¬†duty–we are to begin at the¬†family hearth.¬†He is a bad preacher, who does not commence his ministry¬†at home. The heathen are to be sought by all means, and the highways and hedges are to be searched–but¬†home¬†has a prior claim, and woe unto those who reverse the order of the Lord’s arrangements.¬†

To teach our children is a¬†personal¬†duty. We cannot delegate it to Sunday School Teachers, or to the church. These can¬†assist¬†us–but cannot¬†relieve¬†us from the sacred obligation. Mothers and fathers must, like Abraham, command their households in the fear of God, and talk with their offspring concerning the wondrous works of the Most High God.¬†

Parental teaching is a¬†natural¬†duty. Who is so fit to look to after child’s well-being, as those who are the authors of his actual being? To neglect the instruction of our offspring is worse than brutish!¬†

Family instruction is necessary for the nation, for the family itself, and for the church of God. By a thousand plots, atheism is covertly advancing in our land, and one of the most effectual means for resisting its inroads is left almost neglected, namely, the instruction of children in the faith. Would that parents would awaken to a sense of the importance of this matter. 

It is a¬†pleasant¬†duty to talk of Jesus to our sons and daughters, and the more so because it has often proved to be an¬†accepted¬†work, for God has often saved the children through the parents’ prayers and admonitions.¬†

May every house into which this counsel shall come, honor the Lord in this matter and receive His smile!

“These commandments that I give to you today are to be upon your hearts.¬†Impress them on your children.¬†Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates!”¬†Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the¬†training¬†and¬†instruction¬†of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4¬†

‚̧ԳŹLove At First Sight…Village – 15 Years On!!!

¬†This week i‚Äôm celebrating 15 years since i met my lovely wife Sarah at ‚ÄúSight Village, Birmingham, UK‚Ä̬†

This is a major Sight Village show in Birmingham which is held in July each year. Exhibitors throughout the world take part and welcome many thousands of visitors, including people who are blind or partially sighted, professionals, business people and family members.

I was there (from Derby) working for a charity called LOOK and Sarah was there (from Surrey) working for RNIB. She came to my table as she had a magazine which she had just published an article about LOOK and wanted to show me. Sarah opened the magazine and said here are the pictures and the article, i said ‚ÄúWow, fantastic, it all looks great‚ÄĚ which made Sarah quite proud of her work. I then said while laughing ‚Äúyou know i didn‚Äôt see any of what you‚Äôve just shown me, as i‚Äôm blind!‚ÄĚ. Then as always, a brief pause as Sarah checks out my eyes to see if i‚Äôm joking, then Sarah laughed and said ‚ÄúNo way, me too!‚ÄĚ. We both approach blindness in a similar way and love blossomed from that point. ūüôā

Photos Throughout The Years….

Sarah  i 2005

 ⇧ 2005 ⇧ 

Sarah  i 2006

Me Sarah  Bruce 2006

 ⇧ 2006 ⇧ 

Sarah  I Wedding photo

 ⇧ 2007 ⇧ 

Me Sarah  Bruce 2009

⇧ 2008 ⇧ 

Sarah  i 2009

⇧ 2009 ⇧   

Valentines heart

 ⇧ 2010 ⇧ 

Steve sarah at friday street1

⇧ 2011 ⇧  

Sarah  i 2012

Me  Sarah in Church

 ⇧ 2012 ⇧  

Sarah  i holding hands 2014

 ⇧ 2013 ⇧ 

Sarah & i stood in front of the barbados sunset

IMG 3598

MIL 6290

Me  Sarah

ūüďĖ Bible Verse

Ephesians 5:25 Easy-to-Read Version

Husbands, love your wives the same as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.

ūü§Ē My Thoughts…¬†

This is one of my favourite Bible verses that i try desperately  each day to live up to. As soon as i first read this verse it convicted me straight away and i knew i wanted to be a husband like that!

ūüôŹ Prayer

Holy Spirit, thanks for being a constant guiding presence in my life. Give me the faith to take practical and radical action to keep in step with You, so that You can love my spouse through me in a way that will sustain a fun, loving & trusting relationship. Amen.

When the Father of Lies enters the pulpit with a Bible under his arm!

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When the Father of Lies enters the pulpit with a Bible under his arm!

(Arthur Pink, 1886-1952)

The success of a counterfeiter depends largely upon how closely the counterfeit resembles the genuine article. 

Heresy is not so much the total denial of the truth, as a perversion of it. That is why a half-lie is always more dangerous than a complete repudiation. 

Hence when the Father of Lies enters the pulpit with a Bible under his arm it is not his custom to flatly deny the fundamental truths of Christianity; rather he tacitly acknowledges them, and then proceeds to give an erroneous interpretation and a false application.

False prophets are to be found in the circles of the most orthodox, and they pretend to have a fervent love for souls–yet they fatally delude multitudes concerning the way of salvation! These¬†pulpit hucksters¬†have wantonly lowered the standard of divine holiness and so adulterated the Gospel, in order to make it palatable to the carnal mind.

Any preacher . . .
¬† who adulterates God’s Word,
  who denies repentance to be a condition of salvation,
  who assures the giddy and godless that they are loved by God,
  who declares that saving faith is nothing more mental assent
–is a false prophet, and should be shunned as a deadly plague!

It is only those who truly love Christ who are fitted to minister to His flock! 
The work is so laborious, 
the appreciation is often so small, 
the response is so discouraging, 
the criticisms are so harsh, 
the attacks of Satan are so fierce,
that only the “love of Christ”–His love for us and our love for Him–can “constrain” to such work.¬†

“Hirelings” will feed the goats–but only those who love Christ can feed His sheep!

Christian Love Part 3 Of 4 By J. C. Ryle

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III. Let me show, thirdly–where¬†the love of the Bible comes from.

Love, such as I have described, is certainly not¬†natural¬†to man. Naturally, we are all more or less selfish, envious, ill-tempered, spiteful, ill-natured, and unkind! We have only to observe children, when left to themselves, to see the proof of this. Let boys and girls grow up without proper training and education–and you will not see one of them possessing Christian love! Mark how some of them think first of themselves, and their own comfort and advantage! Mark how others are full of pride, passion, and evil tempers! How can we account for it? There is but one reply. The¬†natural heart¬†knows nothing of true love.

Christian love will never be found except in a heart prepared by the Holy Spirit. It is a tender plant, and will never grow except in one soil. You may as well expect grapes on thorns, or figs on thistles–as look for love when the heart is not right.

The heart in which love grows, is a heart changed, renewed, and transformed by the Holy Spirit. The image and likeness of God, which Adam lost at the fall, has been restored to it, however feeble and imperfect the restoration may appear. It is a “partaker of the Divine nature,” by union with Christ and sonship to God; and one of the first features of that nature is¬†love. (2 Peter I. 4.)

Such a heart is deeply convinced of¬†sin–hates it, flees from it, and fights with it from day to day. And one of the prime motions of sin which it daily labors to overcome, is¬†selfishness¬†and¬†lack of love.

Such a heart is deeply sensible of its¬†mighty debt to our Lord Jesus Christ. It feels continually that it owes to Him who died for us on the cross, all its present comfort, hope, and peace. How can it show forth its gratitude? What can it render to its Redeemer? If it can do nothing else, it strives to be like Him, to drink into His spirit, to walk in His footsteps, and, like Him–to be full of love. “The love of Christ shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit” is the surest¬†fountain¬†of Christian love. Love will produce love.

I ask my reader’s special attention to this point. It is one of great importance in the present day. There are many who profess to admire love–while they care nothing about¬†vital Christianity. They like some of the¬†fruits¬†and results of the Gospel–but not the¬†root¬†from which these fruits alone can grow, or the doctrines with which they are inseparably connected.

Hundreds will praise love–who hate to be told of man’s corruption, of the blood of Christ, and of the inward work of the Holy Spirit. Many a parent would like his children to grow up unselfish and good tempered–who would not be much pleased if conversion, and repentance, and faith, were pressed home on their attention.

Now I desire to protest against this notion, that you can have the¬†fruits¬†of Christianity, without the¬†roots–that you can produce Christian tempers, without teaching Christian doctrines–that you can have love which will wear and endure, without grace in the heart.

I grant, most freely, that every now and then one sees a person who seems very charitable and amiable, without any distinctive Christian religion. But such cases are so rare and remarkable, that, like¬†exceptions–they only prove the truth of the general rule. And often, too often, it may be feared in such cases the love is only¬†apparent, and in private it completely fails. I firmly believe, as a general rule, you will not find such love as the Bible describes, except in the¬†soil¬†of a heart thoroughly imbued with Bible religion. Holy¬†practice¬†will not flourish without sound¬†doctrine. What God has joined together, it is useless to expect to have separate.

The delusion which I am trying to combat, is helped forward to a most mischievous degree by the vast majority of novels, romances, and tales of fiction. Who does not know that the heroes and heroines of these works are constantly described as patterns of perfection? They are always doing the right thing, saying the right thing, and showing the right temper! They are always kind, and amiable, and unselfish, and forgiving! And yet you never hear a word about their religion! In short, to judge by the generality of works of fiction, it is possible to have . . . 
excellent practical religion–without doctrine,¬†
the¬†fruits¬†of the Spirit–without the¬†grace¬†of the Spirit,¬†
and the¬†mind¬†of Christ–without¬†union¬†with Christ!

Here, in short, is the great danger of reading most novels, romances, and works of fiction. The greater part of them give a false or incorrect view of human nature. They paint their model men and women as they¬†ought¬†to be, and not as they¬†really are. The readers of such writings get their minds filled with wrong conceptions of what the world is. Their notions of mankind become¬†visionary¬†and¬†unreal. They are constantly looking for men and women such as they never meet–and expecting what they never find.

Let me entreat my readers, once for all, to draw their ideas of human nature from the Bible, and not from novels. Settle it down in your mind, that there cannot be true love without a heart renewed by grace. A certain degree of kindness, courtesy, amiability, good nature–may undoubtedly be seen in many who have no vital religion. But the glorious plant of¬†Bible love, in all its fullness and perfection, will never be found without union with Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Teach this to your children, if you have any. Hold it up in schools, if you are connected with any. Lift up love. Make much of love. Give place to none in exalting the grace of kindness, love, good nature, unselfishness, good temper.¬†

But never, never forget, that there is but one¬†school¬†in which these things can be thoroughly learned–and that is the school of Christ. Real love comes down from above. True love is the¬†fruit of the Spirit. He who would have it–must sit at Christ’s feet, and learn of Him.

Christian Love Part 2 Of 4 By J. C. Ryle

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II. Let me show, secondly, WHAT the love of the Bible really is.

I think it of great importance to have clear views on this point. It is precisely here that mistakes about love begin. Thousands delude themselves with the idea that they have “love,” when they have not, from downright ignorance of Scripture. Their love is not the love described in the Bible.

(a) The love of the Bible does not consist in¬†giving to the poor.¬†It is a common delusion to suppose that it does. Yet Paul tells us plainly, that a man may “bestow all his goods to feed the poor “(1 Corinthians 13:8)–and not have love! That a charitable man will “remember the poor,” there can be no question. (Galatians 2:10.) That he will do all he can to assist them, relieve them, and lighten their burdens–I do not for a moment deny. All I say is, that this does not make up “love.” It is easy to spend a fortune in giving away money, and soup, and milk, and and bread, and coals, and blankets, and clothing–and yet to be utterly destitute of Bible love!

(b) The love of the Bible does not consist in never disapproving anybody’s conduct.¬†Here is another very common delusion! Thousands pride themselves on never¬†condemning¬†others, or calling them¬†wrong, whatever they may do. They convert the precept of our Lord, “do not judge,” into an excuse for having no unfavorable opinion at all of anybody! They pervert His prohibition of¬†rash¬†and¬†censorious¬†judgments, into a prohibition of¬†all¬†judgment whatever.¬†

Your neighbor may be a drunkard, a liar, and a violent man. Never mind! “It is not love,” they tell you, “to pronounce him, wrong!” You are to believe that he has a¬†good heart at the bottom!¬†This idea of love is, unhappily, a very common one. It is full of mischief. To¬†throw a veil over sin, and to refuse to call things by their right names, to talk of “hearts” being good, when “lives” are flatly wrong, to shut our eyes against wickedness, and say smooth things of immorality–this is not Scriptural love!

(c) The love of the Bible does not consist in never¬†disapproving anybody’s religious opinions.¬†Here is another most serious and growing delusion. There are many who pride themselves on never pronouncing others mistaken, whatever views they may hold. Your neighbor may be an Atheist, or a Buddhist, or a Roman Catholic, or a Mormonite, a Deist, or a Skeptic, a mere Formalist, or a thorough Antinomian. But the “love” of many says that you have no right to think him wrong! “If he is sincere, it is uncharitable to think unfavorably of his spiritual condition!”

From such love–may I ever be delivered!

At this rate, the Apostles were wrong in going out to preach to the Gentiles!

At this rate, there is no use in missions!

At this rate, we had better close our Bibles, and shut up our churches!

At this rate, everybody is right–and nobody is wrong!

At this rate, everybody is going to Heaven–and nobody is going to Hell!¬†

Such¬†love¬†is a monstrous caricature! To say that all are equally right in their opinions–though their opinions flatly contradict one another; to say that all are equally in the way to Heaven–though their doctrinal sentiments are as opposite as black and white–this is not Scriptural love. Love like this, pours contempt on the Bible, and talks as if God had not given us a written standard of truth. Love like this, confuses all our notions of Heaven, and would fill it with a discordant inharmonious rabble. True love does not think everybody right in doctrine. True love cries, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world!” 1 John 4:1. “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him!” 2 John 1:10¬†

I leave the negative side of the question here. I have dwelt upon it at some length because of the days in which we live and the strange notions which abound. Let me now turn to the positive side. Having shown what love is not, let me now show what it is.

Christian love is that “love,” which Paul places first among those fruits which the Spirit causes to be brought forth in the heart of a believer. “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” (Galatians 5:22.)¬†

Love to God, such as Adam had before the fall, is its first feature. He who has love, desires to love God with heart, and soul and mind, and strength. 

Love to man is its second feature. He who has Christian love, desires to love his neighbor as himself.

Christian love will show itself in a believer’s¬†doings. It will make him ready to do kind acts to everyone within his reach, “both to their bodies and souls. It will not let him be content with soft words and kind wishes. It will make him diligent in doing all that lies in his power to lessen the sorrow and increase the happiness of others. Like his Master, he will care more for ministering than for being ministered to, and will look for nothing in return. Like his Master’s great apostle, he will very willingly “spend and be spent” for others, even though they repay him with hatred, and not with love. True love does not want¬†wages. Its work is its reward.¬†

Christian love will show itself in a believer’s¬†readiness to bear evil¬†as well as to do good. It will make him . . .
patient under provocation, 
forgiving when injured, 
meek when unjustly attacked, 
quiet when slandered. 

It will make him bear much and forbear much, put up with much and look over much, submit often and deny himself often–all for the sake of peace. It will make him put a strong¬†bit¬†on his temper, and a strong¬†bridle¬†on his tongue.

True love is not always asking, “What are¬†my¬†rights? Am¬†I¬†treated as I deserve?” but, “How can I best promote peace? How can I do that which is most edifying to others?”

Christian love will show itself in the general spirit and demeanor of a believer. It will make him kind, unselfish, good-natured, good-tempered, and considerate for others. It will make him gentle, affable, and courteous, in all the daily relations of private life. It will make him thoughtful for others’ comfort, tender for others’ feelings, and more anxious to give pleasure than to receive.¬†

True love never¬†envies¬†others when they prosper, nor rejoices in the calamities of others when they are in trouble. At all times, it will believe, and hope, and try to put a good construction on others’ actions. And even at the worst, it will be full of pity, mercy, and compassion.

Would we like to know where the¬†true Pattern¬†of love like this can be found? We have only to look at the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, as described in the Gospels, and we shall see it perfectly exemplified. Love shone forth in all His¬†doings. His¬†daily life¬†was an incessant “going about” doing good. Love shone forth in all His¬†bearing. He was continually hated, persecuted, slandered, misrepresented. But He patiently endured it all. No angry word ever fell from His lips. No ill-temper ever appeared in His demeanor. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.” (1 Peter 2:23.) Love shone forth in all His¬†spirit¬†anddeportment. The¬†law of kindness¬†was ever on His lips. Among weak and ignorant disciples, among sick and sorrowful petitioners for help and relief, among publicans and sinners, among Pharisees and Sadducees–He was always one and the same–kind and patient to all.

And yet, be it remembered, our blessed Master never¬†flattered sinners,¬†or¬†connived at sin. He never shrank from¬†exposing wickedness¬†in its true colors, or from rebuking those who would cleave to it. He never hesitated to¬†denounce false doctrine, by whoever it might be held, or to exhibit¬†false practice¬†in its true colors, and the certain end to which it tends. He called things by their right names. He spoke as freely of Hell and the fire that is never quenched, as of Heaven and the kingdom of glory. He has left on record an everlasting proof that perfect love does not require us to approve everybody’s life or opinions, and that it is quite possible to condemn false doctrine and wicked practice–and yet to be full of love at the same time.

I have now set before my readers the true nature of Christian love. I have given a slight and very brief account of what it is not, and what it is. I cannot pass on without suggesting two practical thoughts, which press home on my mind with weighty force, and I hope may press home on others.

Think, for a moment, how deplorably little love there is upon earth!¬†How w conspicuous is the absence of true love among professing Christians! I speak not of¬†heathen¬†now, I speak of professing Christians! What angry tempers, what passions, what selfishness, what bitter tongues–are to be found in private families! What strifes, what quarrels, what spitefulness, what malice, what revenge, what envy between neighbors and fellow-parishioners! What jealousies and contentions between Churchmen and Dissenters, Calvinists and Arminians, High Churchmen and Low Churchmen! “Where is love?” we may well ask, “Where is love? Where is the mind of Christ?”–when we look at the spirit which reigns in the world. No wonder that Christ’s cause stands still, and infidelity abounds–when men’s hearts know so little of love! Surely, we may well say, “When the Son of man comes, shall He find¬†love¬†upon earth?”

Think, for another thing, what a happy world this would be–if there was more love.¬†It is the lack of love which causes half the misery which there is upon earth. Sickness, and death, and poverty, will not account for more than half the sorrows. The rest come from ill- temper, ill-nature, strifes, quarrels, lawsuits, malice, envy, revenge, frauds, violence, wars, and the like. It would be one great step towards doubling the happiness of mankind, and halving their sorrows–if all men and women were full of Scriptural love.

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