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Mother, don’t you love me?


Grace logoMother, don’t you love me?

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

“I have seen his ways — and will heal him!” Isaiah 57:18

Here is one of the blessedly incomprehensible paradoxes of God’s love and mercy, which startles us by its excess of compassionate grace: “I have seen his ways, and . . .” — one would have thought that the next sentence must be, “I will punish him,” or at least, “I will rebuke him!” But, instead of wrath — here is pardon! Pity makes room for love; and in the place of bitterness, the Lord gives a blessing! “I have seen his ways — and will heal him!”

O wanderer, will not these tender words cause you to return to your Lord? 
O stony heart — will you not break at so loving a touch as this? 
O cold and half-dead soul — will not such a Divine cordial revive you?

“I have seen his ways.” What “ways” has God seen in you? Have they not been “wicked,” “crooked,” “perverse,” “your own ways” — “the ways of death?” Have you not turned aside from the path of life, and refused to walk “in all His way,” and chosen “a stubborn way” for yourself?

Our heart must give a sad assent to all these charges. As we bow humbly before Him, and say, “You are acquainted with all my ways” — we feel that such knowledge of us on His part, intensifies our wonder and gratitude at the loving compassion with which He regards us!

When I was a little child, and had been troublesome to my mother — her reproof or punishment would often be followed by my trembling question, “Mother, don’t you love me?” And my mother’s reply invariably was, “Yes, I do love you; but I do not love your naughty ways!” Poor mother! Doubtless I tried her very much, and this was the best that grieved parental love could say. But our heavenly Father has sweeter, choicer words than these, for His erring children.

His love is Divine, so He says, “I have seen his ways — and will heal him!” O sweet pitifulness of our God! O inexplicable tenderness! O love surpassing all earth’s loveliest affection! Do not our hard hearts yield under the power of such compassion as this?

God knows all our wickedness, He has seen all our waywardness; yet His purpose towards us is one of healing and pardon — and not of anger and estrangement.

As I learn more of God, I get so sick of my sin — indwelling-sin, heart-sin, that my soul welcomes this Word of the Lord, as a condemned prisoner embraces a pardon, or as a drowning man clutches the life-buoy thrown out for his rescue. To be healed of the disease which wastes us, to be delivered from the deadness and indifference which enchain us, to have a perfect heart with the Lord our God, and to walk before Him in a perfect way — this, I take it, is the blessed prospect held out by this promise. Who will claim its fulfillment at once? Who will take our gracious God at His Word, and believingly receive the priceless blessing which His love offers?

O blessed Lord, Your forbearance with us in the past, has been a miracle of mercy! You have seen so much in us which Your soul has abhorred — and yet You come now with this gift of healing in Your hands, which means not only pardon — but the power to be holy.

Lord, we lift up our empty, beseeching hands — to Your full ones. Our own ways have led us farther and farther from You; now let Your forgiving, healing love draw us so close to You, that we can never again be among those “who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness.”

The master-key which fits the locks!

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The master-key which fits the locks!

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

“The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loved you!” Deuteronomy 7:7-8 

My gracious God, there is a honeycomb of delight and sweetness in these words! Will You put the rod of faith into my hand, this morning, and enable me to dip the end thereof into this rich provision, that my soul may eat and be satisfied, and that the eyes of my understanding may be enlightened?

“Because the Lord loved you!” 
This is His great “reason” for all of God’s dealings with His redeemed people. It is a full and convincing answer to all the doubts and questionings with which Satan can perplex and distress the Lord’s timid ones. The enemy of souls has, alas! a powerful confederate in the wicked unbelief which lurks within us; but they will both be vanquished when we have learned to use this weapon of war against them.

Come, my heart, try its blessed force and quality at this moment! The foe says, “Why does God send you affliction, and sorrow, and suffering — when those who do not fear His Name have continual quietness and abounding prosperity?”

If you can boldly answer, “It is because the Lord loves me!” then you will have given him such a sword-thrust as will free you, for a time, at least, from his cunning devices and fierce onslaughts.

Or, look at the text as a shaft of sunlight, piercing through a chink in the shuttered window of some dark experience. Bring your fears and forebodings out of their dusky corners, and place them within the radiance of this light of love — you will be amazed to see them transformed into confident trusts — your doubts will vanish as if they had never been, and the evil and bitter things of life will all be transformed into blessings in a moment. 

“Because the Lord loved you!” is the master-key which fits the locks of the hardest question, and opens the mysteries of the deepest problem! It is a charm of wondrous efficacy, and every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ may not only rejoice in its possession — but use it constantly to obtain all the desire of his heart in spiritual things.

What ails you, poor soul?
 Is it loss of health, or friends, or means? Has God taken from you some dearly-loved one, and left you alone on this sad earth? Is He trying and proving you, by many and varied tests and troubles, “to know what was in your heart”? Whatever may be your immediate and peculiar sorrow, if you have grace and faith enough to say, “This is because the Lord loves me!” — then I dare to promise you that all the bitterness of the affliction will melt away — and the peace of God will fill you with a sweet contentment which surpasses understanding. No distress can withstand such Divine solace, no anguish can refuse the relief of this balm of Gilead. If all that happens to you can be traced directly or indirectly to the hand of your loving Lord — then how gladly should you bear life’s burdens, and how perfect should be the rest in which heart and mind should dwell!

O gracious Master, looking back over the years that are gone — the interminglings of grief and gladness, pass before my eyes as the clouds sail by on an April day. And though the memories of great affliction and sore bereavement cast deep shadows across the scene, and seem for a time to blot out all the brightness — yet, above and beyond those changeful skies — the sun has never ceased shining, and darkness as well as day has proclaimed the immutability of Your love. When the ears of my soul are attuned to catch the soft whisper of Your voice, I hear You saying: “All this, My child, was because I loved you! Left to yourself; you would have destroyed yourself; but in Me was your help found. All the tribulations you have endured, were but My servants to whom I entrusted the necessary discipline of your earthly life. Do not forget those words of Mine: As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten!”

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! And 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, 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!

Soul-Comfort

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Soul-Comfort

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

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me — Your comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:19 

“Your comforts delight my soul!” Blessed Lord, how sweet is this text in my mouth! The taste of it is “like wafers made with honey.” It is both food and drink to my heart, for every word has joy and refreshing in it; so that, like the “best wine” of the Canticles, it “goes down sweetly.” 

The first of Your comforts, gracious God, is this — that You have said unto my soul, “I am your salvation!” He saves us, not because of any merit in us, or any deservings of our own; but because sovereign grace chose us, and Divine compassion redeemed us. And when we were afar off, infinite pity brought us back, and made us near by the precious blood of Christ. This may well comfort our hearts — coming as it does directly from “our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace!” A saved and pardoned sinner can truly say, “Your comforts delight my soul!”

The next thought is that, having saved us — He keeps us. “We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” Comparatively few Christians put God’s keeping power fully to the test. If we would trust Him for the keeping, as we do for the saving — our lives would be far holier and happier than they are. “I will keep it every moment,” is one of those grandly unlimited promises which most of us are afraid of; and we store them away in the background because we dare not believe them, and bring them out into the light of our daily practice. O foolish and unbelieving hearts, how much of soul-delighting comfort do we thus miss!

Then comes another thought — He cares for us. Dear friends, if you are His, you know the exceeding comfort of casting all your care upon Him — and being quite sure that He will “undertake” for you. Have we not often come to Him oppressed and burdened with an intolerable weight of anxiety and distress — and been enabled to roll the whole mass of it on Him, leaving it all at His feet, and returning to our work with a lightened and restful heart? Some of us have had burdens and sorrows, which would have crushed the very life out of us — if we had not been enabled to look up and say, “You, O Lord, have helped and comforted me!” Yes, truly, God’s care for us is one of the sweetest comforts of our mortal life!

Closely linked with this, is the thought that He knows all about us. Our enemies — sometimes, even our friends — misunderstand and malign us; they misconstrue our words and actions, and impute to us motives which never actuated us. But our God knows the thoughts and intents of our heart, and never makes a mistake in the judgment He passes on us. The comfort of this knowledge on the Lord’s part, to those who are “suffering wrongfully,” is inexpressibly precious. They can lift up their heads with joy, and say, “The Lord is good. He knows those who trust in Him.” I have known this comfort to so delight my soul, that trials and temptations had no power to vex or annoy it, for my soul was hidden “secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.”

Lastly (though there are many, many more), one of the multitude of thoughts which stand out prominently from the rest, as a comfort which delights the soul — is that He loves us. This truth has been running through the fields of previous thought, as a silver streamlet glides through the meadows — here, it would deepen and expand to a broad and fathomless ocean, had I the power to speak of its height, and depth, and length, and breadth, and to tell of the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge! But my pen utterly fails here. You who love Him, and know that He loves you — must each one say to himself what that “comfort of His love” is to your own heart. This will be a better commentary than any I can offer. 

And, if some poor distressed soul is mourning the loss of the sweet consolation which Christ’s love alone can give — let him call to remembrance a tenderly precious promise which the Lord put into the lips of the prophet Isaiah, “I have seen his ways — but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him!” Isaiah 57:18 

Our thorn!

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Our thorn!

(J. R. Miller, “The Blossoming of Our Thorns” 1905)

“To keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud.” 2 Corinthians 12:7

We do not know how much of Paul’s rich, beautiful life, and his noble work for his Master — he owed to his thorn. Just so, we do not know how much we are indebted to our sufferings and sorrows. Our richest lessons — are the fruit of pain, of weakness, of sorrow.

There is not one of us who has not his own thorn. With one it may be a bodily infirmity or weakness. With another it is some disfigurement which cannot be removed. It may be some difficulty in circumstances, something which makes it hard to live beautifully. 

The Master told Paul that his thorn was necessary to him — to save him from becoming proud. We may think of our thorn, too — as something we need. Instead of allowing it to irritate us or to spoil our life — its mission is to make us sweet, patient, loving. Many people beseech the Lord to take away their thorn. Yet it may be, that the prayer is not answered, will not be answered, should not be answered. It may be, that the thorn is necessary to keep them humble at God’s feet.

God sends some of our best blessings to us in our thorns, and it will be a sad thing if we thrust them away and miss them.

The time has come for my departure!

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The time has come for my departure!

(James Smith, “The Better Land”)

The time has come for my departure! I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day!” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 

Aged believer, the time of your departure will soon come! Do not let your mind be troubled as to . . .
  where you shall die,
  when you shall die,
  or how you shall die!
These are all minor matters — and ought not to affect you. 

Simply look at death as Jesus did: “Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world — and go to His Father!” John 13:1 

Why should you regret to leave a poor world like this — where sin, sorrow, pain, grief, disappointment, and anxiety meet you at every turn? Why should you be reluctant to go HOME — to go to your Father? 
Do you not want to see His face? 
Do you not want to enjoy His company? 
Do you not want to be perfectly happy in His presence?

I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!” Philippians 1:23 

He will sustain you!

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He will sustain you!

(J.R. Miller)

“Cast your burden upon the Lord — and He will sustain you.” Psalm 55:22

The promise is not that the Lord will remove the load we cast upon Him, nor that He will carry it for us — but that He will sustain us so that we may carry it.
He does not free us from the duty — but He strengthens us for it.
He does not deliver us from the conflict — but He enables us to overcome
He does not withhold or withdraw the trial from us — but He helps us in trial to be submissive and victorious, and makes it a blessing to us. 
He does not mitigate the hardness or severity of our circumstances, taking away the difficult elements, removing the thorns, making life easy for us — but He puts Divine grace into our hearts, so that we can live sweetly in all the hard, adverse circumstances.

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

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13


The fruits and effects He produces

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The fruits and effects He produces

(J.C. Ryle, “The Holy Spirit“)

“When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.” (John 16:8)

Where the Holy Spirit is, there will always be deep conviction of sin — and true repentance for it. It is His special office to convict of sin. 

He shows the exceeding holiness of God. 

He teaches the exceeding corruption and infirmity of our nature. 

He strips us of our blind self-righteousness. 

He opens our eyes to our awful guilt, folly and danger. 

He fills the heart with sorrow, contrition, and abhorrence for sin — as the abominable thing which God hates. 

He who knows nothing of all this, and saunters carelessly through life, thoughtless about sin, and indifferent and unconcerned about his soul — is a dead man before God! He has not the Holy Spirit. 

The presence of the Holy Spirit in a man’s heart can only be known by the fruits and effects He produces. Mysterious and invisible to mortal eye as His operations are — they always lead to certain visible and tangible results.

Just as you know there is life in a tree by its sap, buds, leaves and fruits — just so you may know the Spirit to be in a man’s heart by the influence He exercises over his thoughts, affections, opinions, habits, and life. I lay this down broadly and unhesitatingly. I see it clearly marked out in our Lord Jesus Christ’s words, “Every tree is known by his own fruit.” Luke 6:44


Desiring God!

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Desiring God!

(Thomas Watson, “The Lord’s Prayer”)

“Whom have I in Heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You!” Psalm 73:25 

We may know the kingdom of grace is set up in our hearts — by having true desires after God. By the beating of this pulse — we conclude there is life

A true desire after God is sincere. We desire God for Himself, for His intrinsic excellencies. The savor of the ointment of Christ’s gracesdraws the virgins’ desires after Him. Canticles 1:3. A true saint desires Him not only for what God has — but for what He is; not only for His rewards — but for His holiness. No hypocrite can thus desire God. He may desire God for His jewels — but not for His beauty!

A true desire after God is insatiable. It cannot be satisfied without God; let the world heap her honors and riches — they will not satisfy. No flowers or music will content him who is thirsty. Just so, nothing will quench the soul’s thirst — but the blood of Christ! He faints away, his heart breaks with longing for God. Psalm 84:2; Psalm 119:20

A true desire after God is active. It flourishes into endeavor. “With my soul have I desired you in the night — yes, with my spirit within me will I seek You early.” Isaiah 26:9. A soul that desires aright says, “I must have Christ! I must have grace! I must have Heaven, though I take it by storm!”

A true desire after God is supreme. We desire Christ, not only more than the world — but more than Heaven! “Whom have I in Heaven but You?” Psalm 73:25. Heaven itself would not satisfy — without Christ. Christ is the diamond in the ring of glory! 

A true desire after God is increasing. A little of God will not satisfy — but the pious soul desires still more. A drop of water is not enough for the thirsty traveler. Though a Christian is thankful for the least degree of grace — yet he is not satisfied with the greatest degree of grace. He still thirsts for more of Christ, and His Spirit. A saint would have more knowledge, more sanctity, more of Christ’s presence. A glimpse of Christ through the lattice of an ordinance is sweet; but the soul will never stop longing — until it sees Him face to face! It desires to have grace perfected in glory! It desires to be wholly plunged into the sweetness of God. We would be swallowed up in God, and be forever bathing ourselves in those perfumed waters of pleasure which run at His right hand!

Surely this sincere desire after God is a blessed sign that the kingdom of grace has come into our hearts. The beating of this pulse shows life! Desires for God — are from God. If iron moves upwards contrary to its nature — it is a sign some magnet has been drawing it. Just so, if the soul moves towards God in sincere desires — it is a sign the magnet of the Spirit has been drawing it!

“He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him.” Psalm 145:19


Father knows best!

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Father knows best!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away — may the name of the LORD be praised!” Job 1:21

“Shall we accept good from God — and not trouble?” Job 2:10 
 

Let the Lord do as He wills to us! He will never be unkind to us! He has always been our friend — He will never be our foe! 

He will never put us into the furnace — unless He means to purge the dross out of us. Nor will there be one degree more heat in that furnace than is absolutely necessary — there will always be mercy to balance the misery — and strength supplied to support the burden to be borne.
 

Oh, children of God, your Father knows best! Leave everything in His hands and be at peace — for all is well.
 

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

“He is the LORD; let him do what is good in His eyes!” 1 Samuel 3:18 

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty — yet I will rejoice in the LORDI will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk 3:17-18 

This city was a moral cesspool, a sink of pollution, filled with all corruption, and reeking with vileness!

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This city was a moral cesspool, a sink of pollution, filled with all corruption, and reeking with vileness!

(Charles Naylor, “In Christ, and in Ephesus” 1920)

To the saints in Ephesus — the faithful in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 1:1 

Ephesus was one of the great centers of paganism. It was adorned with costly and magnificent heathen temples. It was rich and voluptuous. Both private and public life were utterly corrupt. Even the religious practices of the Ephesians were unspeakably vile. This city was a moral cesspool, a sink of pollution, filled with all corruption, and reeking with vileness! It was a second Sodom. Vice stalked abroad everywhere — and was honored and worshiped.

We might therefore well say, “Can any good thing come out of Ephesus? Can Christianity flourish in such surroundings?” 

Yes! There were saints in Ephesus — and faithful ones, too. They were such in their lives and characters as to win the commendation of that great apostle to the Gentiles. Out of that obnoxious cesspool of iniquity, were growing the pure white lilies of Christian character! That is the glory of Christianity and of Christ. Those who were now Christians were not superior to the other Ephesians — they were not by nature different. In fact, Paul tells them that they had been the children of wrath, even as the others — and that they had been such by nature. What a triumph of divine grace, which raised these people up out of such unspeakable filth — and made them faithful saints! And yet that is the power of our great Christ!

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8


This is too much!

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This is too much!

(Edward Payson, 1783-1827)

Only to be permitted to contemplate such a being as Jehovah . . .
  to ponder goodness, holiness, justice, mercy, patience and sovereignty — personified and condensed;
  to ponder them united with eternity, infinite power, unerring wisdom, omnipresence, and all sufficiency;
  to ponder all these natural and moral perfections indissolubly united and blended in sweet harmony — in one pure, spiritual being, and that being placed on the throne of the universe
 — to ponder this would be happiness enough to fill the mind of any creature in existence! 

But in addition to this, 
  to have this ineffable Being for my God, my portion, my all; 
  to be permitted to say, “This God is my God forever and ever!” 
  to have His resplendent countenance smile upon me;
  to be encircled in His everlasting arms of power and faithfulness and love;
  to hear His voice saying to me, “I am yours — and you are Mine! Nothing shall ever pluck you from My hands, or separate you from My love — but you shall be with Me where I am, behold My glory, and live to reign with Me forever and ever!” 

This is too much! It is honor, it is glory — it is happiness too overwhelming, too transporting for mortal minds to conceive, or for mortal frames to support!

Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?

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Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?

(Thomas Watson, “Body of Divinity“)

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I
 will have compassion on whom I have compassion.
 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or
 effort, but on God’s mercy.” Romans 9:15-16

God has a sovereign right and authority over man. 
He can do with His creatures as He pleases. Who shall 
dispute with God? Who shall ask Him a reason of His 
doings? “Who are you, O man, to talk back to 
God?
 Shall what is formed say to him who formed 
it—Why did you make me like this?” Romans 9:20

“Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases.”
 Psalm 115:3 

“The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and
 on earth, in the seas and all the depths.” Psalm 135:6

God sits as judge in the highest court, and is not bound 
to give a reason for His proceedings. “He puts down one, 
and raises up another.” He has salvation and damnation 
in His power. He has the key of justice in His hand, to 
lock up whomever he will, in the fiery prison of hell! And 
He has the key of mercy in His hand, to open heaven’s 
gate to whomever He pleases! The name engraved upon 
His vesture is, “King of kings, and Lord of lords!” He sits 
Lord paramount, and who can call Him to account? The 
world is God’s house, and shall not He do what He
desires in His own house? 

“My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please!”
     Isaiah 46:10

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!”
     Revelation 19:6

A sleeping lion

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A sleeping lion

(Thomas Watson, “Body of Divinity“)

“Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why 
do the treacherous live at ease?” Jeremiah 12:1

Such as are highest in sin—are often highest in 
prosperity. This has led many to question God’s 
justice. Diogenes, seeing a thief live on affluently, 
said, “Surely God has cast off the government of 
the world, and does not care how things go on 
here below.”

How can it be consistent with God’s justice
that the wicked should prosper in the world?

If God lets men prosper a while in their sin—His 
vial of wrath is all this while filling; His sword is 
all this time sharpening. Though God may forbear 
with men a while—yet long forbearance is not
forgiveness. The longer God is in taking His blow, 
the heavier it will be at last! As long as there is 
eternity, God has time enough to reckon with 
His enemies!

God’s justice may be as a sleeping lion—but the 
lion will awake at last, and roar upon the sinner!

“Yes, Lord God Almighty, Your punishments are
 true and just.” Revelation 16:7

Sacrilege!

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Sacrilege! 
(by Octavius Winslow) 

Cultivate a profound reverence for God’s Word. Nothing is more grievous to the Holy Spirit than a trifling with revelation. The words of Scripture are divinely inspired. “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 

Beware of referring to it with levity. To adopt the words of Scripture irreverently, or to employ its phraseology flippantly, is to cast discredit upon inspiration, to press it into the service of the flesh, and to make the Word of God the jest book of the profane. This is awful trifling with the thoughts and words of the Holy Spirit! 

Stand in awe of this Holy Book! 

God says, “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My Word.” Isaiah 66:2 

“Then all who trembled at the Words of the God of Israel…” Ezra 9:4 

“We will follow the advice given by you and by the others who respect the commands of our God…” Ezra 10:3 

“My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of Your laws.”   Psalm 119:120 

“My heart stands in awe of Your Word.” Psalm 119:161 

(Editor’s note: How very sad is it that many professing Christians use the holy Word of God to amuse others with ‘bible jokes’ and in other trifling and irreverent ways. Much of today’s pseudo Christian music, movies and children’s literature use the Word of God in a flippant manner, if not in a downright profane and sacrilegious way.) 
  

The Preciousness of God’s Children

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The Preciousness of God’s Children 
(“The Preciousness of God’s Children” Octavius Winslow) 

Oh, how precious to Jesus is 
  your tear of godly sorrow; 
  your touch of trembling faith; 
  your look of lowly love; 
  your offering of sincere gratitude; 
  your yearning and longing of holy desire! 

So precious to Jesus are you, that 
  His ear is attentive to your faintest cry; 
  His thoughts are never withdrawn from you for a moment; 
  His hand is ever extended to support you. 

You are so precious to Jesus that 
  He sits at the fountain of grace to supply all your need; 
  He bows His shoulder to your heaviest burden; 
  He unveils His heart to your deepest sorrow. 

O believer, do not live without a deep, constant 
realization of your preciousness to Jesus; and 
the depth, tenderness, and constancy of the 
love He bears towards you.  Let your faith grasp 
it, amid the varied phases and changes of your 
Christian course, and it will be as a sweet flowing 
stream gliding and sparkling by your side all 
through the sandy desert, imparting swiftness 
to your feet in travel, strength to your hand in 
labor, nerve to your arm in battle; soothing, 
reviving, and refreshing your spirit when sad, 
faint, and drooping by the way. 

Be assured of your personal place in His 
affections, and your home and sanctuary in 
His heart, and no act of obedience, of love, 
or of service on your part, will be too costly. 

Your love to Him will be the reflection of His 
love to you, proportioned in its degree and 
intensity to the vividness with which His love 
is seen and realized. 

Reader, let your eye see His beauty! 

Bow your heart before His cross! 

Fall at His feet! 

Crown Him Lord and Sovereign of your soul! 

The religion of JOY

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The religion of JOY 
(Octavius Winslow, “The Sympathy of Christ”) 
The religion of Christ is the religion of JOY. Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prison house, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Is  not this joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy; deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy in the gospel of Christ. The believer in Jesus is essentially a happy man. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven of inconceivable, unthought of, untold, and endless blessedness. With such a God, such a Savior, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not, to be a joyful man? 
  

“Little children, abide in him.”

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Little children, abide in him.” 
The following is from Spurgeon’s sermon, “Preparation 
 for the Coming of the Lord.” #2105. 1 John 2:28. 

Just as little children are in daily dependence 
on their parents, Christians depend upon the 
Lord’s care. 

Why, beloved, the Lord has to nurse you! He 
feeds you with the unadulterated milk of the 
Word; he comforts you as a mother does her 
child; he carries you in his bosom, he bears 
you all your days. 

Your new life is as yet weak and struggling; 
do not carry it into the cold atmosphere of 
distance from Jesus. 

Little children, since you derive all from Jesus, 
abide in him. To go elsewhere will be to wander 
into a howling wilderness. The world is empty; 
only Christ has fullness. Away from Jesus you 
will be as a child deserted by its mother, left 
to pine, and starve, and die; or as a little lamb 
on the hillside without a shepherd, tracked by 
the wolf, whose teeth will soon extract its 
heart’s blood. 

Abide, O child, with your mother! 

Abide, O lamb, with your shepherd! 

Cling to the Lord Jesus in your feebleness, 
in your fickleness, in your nothingness; and 
abidingly take him to be everything to you. 

Spiritual Joy!

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Spiritual  Joy! 
 (by Octavius Winslow) 

Spiritual joy is a holy, sensitive plant. 
It shrinks from the rude, ungentle touch; 
from every influence uncongenial with its 
heaven born nature. Watch it with sleepless 
vigilance; shield it with every hallowed defense. 

There are many hostile influences to which 
it is exposed, any one of which will seriously 
injure it. Temptation courted, sin tampered 
with, worldliness indulged, the creature 
idolized, means of grace slighted, Christ 
undervalued. 

Any one of these things will dampen your joy, 
and cause it to shrink, and compel it to retire. 

But nothing will sooner or more effectually 
do this than looking away from the Object 
and Source of joy, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

There is everything in Christ to make you a 
joyful Christian. There is all redundance of 
grace to subdue your corruptions, an 
overflowing sympathy to soothe your sorrows, 
a sovereign efficacy in His blood to cleanse 
your guilt, infinite resources to meet all your 
needs, His ever encircling presence around 
your path, His ceaseless intercession on your 
behalf in heaven. His loving attention of all 
you feel, and fear, and need. 

  Oh, is this not enough to make your heart a 
constant sunshine, and your life a pleasant psalm? 

Giddily gliding along the broad road that leads to destruction!


Grace logoGiddily gliding along the broad road that leads to destruction! 


(
Arthur Pink, “Laughter”)

There is a natural laughter, which is innocent and harmless.

There is a spiritual laughter, which is God-pleasing and beneficial.

There is a carnal laughter, which is sinful and injurious. 

“Woe unto you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep!” (Luke 6:25). The laughter which Christ here denounced, was a state of heart which lived only for the present, and had no serious concern for the future. It was His censure of those who are giddily gliding along the broad road that leads to destruction! In the light of the immediate context, the reference is to those who rejoiced in the abundance of their worldly possessions, and found their delight in making gods of their bellies. 

“I said of laughter, ‘It is madness,’ and of pleasure, ‘What does it accomplish?’” (Ecclesiastes 2:2). Those were the words of one who was granted the opportunity and afforded the means, of gratifying every carnal desire and of obtaining every object which the natural heart and eye can covet — only to prove from experience, that all were but “vanity and vexation of spirit.” There is no real or lasting happiness in anything which money can purchase. The void within the human heart cannot be filled by the objects of time and sense. For one to pursue the shadows — and miss the substance; to devote himself to the things which perish with the using — yet be indifferent to those which are eternal; to seek his delight in gratifying the lusts of the flesh — and neglect the welfare of his soul, is nothing but a species of insanity! “For as the crackling of thorns under a pot [noisy, but of brief duration] — so is the laughter of the fool!” (Ecclesiastes 7:6).

“All who see Me, laugh Me to scorn!” (Psalm 22:7). So far were they from pitying Him, they added to His afflictions with their ribaldry, making jest of His very sufferings! Horrid humanity! Fearful impiety! None should ever doubt the total depravity of man, as they see here to what unspeakable depths of iniquity man sinks, when the restraining hand of God is removed from him! The spectators of the dying Redeemer’s agonies, exerted the utmost of the venom of their hearts upon Him! This was a Diabolical laughter!

There is also a divine laughter, which is dreadful and disastrous. To such David referred: “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh” (Psalm 2:4), which is the laughter of derision against those who think to defy Him with impunity. 

And again God says, “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear comes!” (Proverbs 1:26), which is the laughter of divine retribution. He has “called” — by His Word, His providences, His ministers, and their own consciences — but they “refused” to heed Him. They were neither melted by the abundance of His mercies— nor awed by the dreadfulness of His threats. They did not respect His Law — and had no heart for His Gospel. But though He bears the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction with much long-suffering, He has appointed a day when they shall be made to reap as they have sown. As they scorned His messengers when they warned of the wrath to come — so shall He turn a deaf ear then to their cries for mercy, and righteously laugh at their calamity! Oh, that none our readers may ever be the objects of this laugh!

Our plans and dreams

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Our plans and dreams

(J.R. Miller)

“In his heart a man plans his course — but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart — but it is the LORD’s purpose which prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

There are few entirely unbroken lives in this world; there are few men who fulfill their own hopes and plans, without thwarting or interruption at some point. Now and then, there is one who in early youth marks out a course for himself — and then moves straight on in it to its goal.

But most people’s lives turn out very different from their own early dreams. Many find at the close of their life, that in scarcely one particular, have they realized their own life-dreams; at every point God has simply set aside their plans — and substituted His own. There are some people whose plans are so completely thwarted, that their story is most pathetic. Yet we have but to follow it through to the end, to see that the broken life was better and more effective, than if their own plans had been carried out.

“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

Think about such things!


Grace logoThink about such things!


(J.R. Miller)

“The cheerful heart has a continual feast!” Proverbs 15:15 

We pretty much see just what we are looking for. If our mind has become trained to look for troubles, difficulties, problems, and all gloomy and dreary things — then we shall find just what we seek. On the other hand, it is quite as easy to form the habit of looking always for beauty, for good, for happiness, for gladness — and here too we shall find precisely what we seek.

It has been said that the habit of always seeing the bright side in life, is worth a large income to a man. It makes life a great deal easier. 

None of us are naturally drawn to a gloomy person, who everywhere finds something to complain about — but we are all attracted to one who sees some beauty in everything. Joy is a transfiguring quality. Its secret is a glad heart.

“Finally, brothers, 
 whatever is true, 
 whatever is noble, 
 whatever is right, 
 whatever is pure, 
 whatever is lovely, 
 whatever is admirable — 
 if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — 
think about such things!” Philippians 4:8 

Black seeds without beauty

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Black seeds without beauty

(J.R. Miller)

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

“Lord, what do You want me to do?” Acts 9:6

The first condition of consecration, must always be entire readiness to accept God’s will for our life. It is not enough to be willing to do Christian work. There are many people who are quite ready to do certain things in the service of Christ, who are not ready to do anything He might want them to do. 

God does not send us two classes of providences
 — one good, and one evil. All are good. Affliction is God’s goodness in the seed. It takes time for a seed to grow and to  develop into fruitfulness. Many of the best things of our lives — come to us first as pain, suffering, earthly loss or disappointment — black seeds without beauty — but afterward they grow into the rich harvest of righteousness!

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 

The Delilah in the bosom!

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The Delilah in the bosom!

(Thomas Watson, “The Lord’s Prayer“)

If you would not come short of the kingdom of heaven, 
take heed of indulging any sin. One millstone will drown, 
as well as more. One sin lived in will damn, as well as more. 
If any one sin reigns—it will keep you from reigning in the 
kingdom of heaven. 

Especially keep from sins of your natural constitution; 
your darling sin. “I kept myself from my iniquity”—that 
sin which my heart would soonest decoy and flatter me 
into. As in the hive there is one master bee—so in the 
heart there is one master-sin. Oh, take heed of this!

How may this darling-sin be known?

1. That sin for which a man cannot endure the arrow of 
a reproof, is the bosom-sin. Men can be content to have 
other sins declaimed against; but if a minister puts his 
finger upon the sore, and touches upon that one special 
sin—then their eyes flash with fire, they are enraged, 
and spit the venom of malice!

2. That sin which a man’s heart runs out most to, and he 
is most easily captivated by—is the Delilah in the bosom! 
One man is overcome with wantonness, another by worldliness. 
It is a sad thing for a man to be so bewitched by a beloved sin
that he will part with the whole kingdom of heaven—to gratify 
that lust!

3. That sin which a man is least inclined to part with, is the 
endeared sin. Of all his sons, Jacob could most hardly part with 
Benjamin. “Will you take Benjamin away!” Gen 42:35. So says 
the sinner, “This and that sin I have left—but must Benjamin go 
too? Must I part with this delightful sin? That goes to my heart!”

Take heed especially of this master-sin. The strength of sin 
lies in the beloved sin, which, like a cancer striking at the 
heart, brings death. 

I have read of a monarch, who being pursued by the enemy, 
threw away the crown of gold on his head—that he might run 
the faster. Just so, the sin which you wore as a crown of gold 
must be thrown away—that you may run the faster to the 
kingdom of heaven. 

Oh, if you would not lose glory, mortify the beloved sin! Set it, 
as Uriah—in the forefront of the battle to be slain. By plucking 
out this right eye—you will see the better to go to heaven!


The Evil Consequences

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Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” 
Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.” 2 Samuel 12:13-14
David’s experience is very instructive to us. While it teaches us that God can and will forgive us, if we repent of our great and gross sins—yet it also teaches us that sin is an evil and a bitter thing; and that, though the guilt of it may be removed, the evil consequences of it will cling to us and be a subject of sorrow to us—until God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes!

Charles H Spurgeon

Her ways lead down to Hell

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Man loves his own ruin. The cup of pleasure is so sweet that though he knows it will poison him—yet he must drink it. And the harlot is so lovely, that though he understands that her ways lead down to Hell—yet like a bullock he follows to the slaughter until the dart goes through his liver! Man is fascinated and bewitched by sin.

Charles H Spurgeon

Think of all the hard things there are in your life

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Think of all the hard things there are in your life

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

“Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You!” Jeremiah 32:17

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:26-27

Dear reader, your difficulties and trials may not be similar to those of “the weeping prophet,” but they are very real, and seemingly insurmountable to you; and it is a fact that, of yourself, you can neither overcome nor endure them, so I want to remind you that the Lord’s hand is not shortened — that what was true of His power in Jeremiah’s time, is as certainly true today — and that whatever present hardship may press upon you, or whatever burden may be weighing you down — you, yes, you may look up to Him with confident faith, and say, “There is nothing too hard for You!”

Oh, the blessed peace which such an assurance brings! I do not know what your particular sorrow or hardship may be — but I do know that, whatever its nature — cruel, or bitter, or hopeless — it is as “nothing” to Him! He is able to deliver you — as easily as you can call upon Him for support and help. 

Now, dear friend, think of all the hard things there are in your life
  hard circumstances,
  difficult duties,
  grievous pains,
  sore struggles,
  bitter disappointments,
  harsh words,
  sinful thoughts,
  a hard heart of your own,
  a hard heart in others. 
Gather all these, and many more together, and pile them one on another till you have one great mountain of afflictions — and your God still calmly asks the question, “Is there anything too hard for Me?”

When our hearts are weary of life’s cares and crosses, when our courage flags because of our helplessness, and we cry out with the patriarch, “All these things are against me!” — what a support and stronghold is the fact that our God has all power in Heaven and on earth! There is nothing too mighty for Him to manage — there is nothing too insignificant to escape His notice! Jeremiah’s faith . . .
  sees no obstacles, 
  stumbles at no hindrances,
  faints under no burden,
  shrinks from no responsibilities — 
because he realizes the sublime Omnipotence of God, and fortifies himself by calling to remembrance His “outstretched arm” in the creation of the Heavens and the earth. Cannot we do likewise?

I took up a book, in a leisure moment the other day, opened it carelessly, and this is what I read: “It is a scientifically proved fact, that this great globe on which we live, spins around on its axis at the rate of a thousand miles an hour, and propels through space in its orbit at a speed immensely greater!” 

The thought of this, seemed almost to take away my breath! Was I calmly and constantly living in the swirl of such a stupendous miracle as this? Then surely I could say, “Ah, Lord God! there is nothing too hard for You! My little troubles and afflictions — how small they must be to You; yet with what tender compassion, do You stoop from guiding the worlds in their courses, to support and comfort the hearts of those who fear You!”

Never let us give up in despair, while we have such a God to trust in. If there is a great mountain of sorrow or difficulty in your way, dear friend — do not be cast down by the darkness of its shadow. Your God can either make a way for you through it — or He can guide you around it — or, just as easily, He can carry you right over it! There is nothing too hard for Him! Expect Him to make the crooked things straight, and to bring the high things low; and while you keep humbly at His feet, He will work wondrously, and you shall see His salvation!

What are you doing with your time?

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What are you doing with your time?

(J.R. Miller)

“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise — making the most of the time” Ephesians 5:15-16 

Our days, as God gives them to us — are like beautiful summer fields. 
The hours are like trees with their rich fruit, or vines with their blossoms of purple clusters. 
The minutes are like blooming flowers, or stalks of wheat with their golden grains. 

Oh the endless, blessed possibilities of our days and hours and minutes — as they come to us from God’s hands! 

But what did you do with yesterday? How does the little acre of that one day look to you now? 

What are you doing with your time? Every moment God gives you, has in it a possibility of beauty or usefulness — as well as something to be accounted for. 

Are you using your time for God?

“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life!” Psalm 39:4 

Two men look at the same scene:

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Two men look at the same scene:

(J.R. Miller)

“Be joyful always!” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 

“In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy!” 2 Corinthians 7:4 

Thankfulness or unthankfulness is largely a matter of the attitude of our heart. 
Two men look at the same scene:
 
  one sees the defects and the imperfections; 
  the other sees the beauty and the brightness. 

If you cannot find things to be thankful for today, and every day — the fault is in yourself, and you ought to pray for a changed heart — a heart to see God’s goodness and to praise Him. 

A joyful heart transfigures all the world around us! It finds something to be thankful for in the barest circumstances, even in the dark night of the soul. Let us train ourselves to see the beauty and the goodness in God’s world, and in our own circumstances — and then we shall stop grumbling, and be content and thankful in all situations.

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful!” Proverbs 15:13 

“The cheerful heart has a continual feast!” Proverbs 15:15 

“A cheerful heart is good medicine — but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 

Aqueous Fluid to an Infant’s Brow!

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Aqueous Fluid to an Infant’s Brow!
The following is from Spurgeon’s sermon,
    “UNPURCHASABLE LOVE”

The most unpopular truth in the world is this sentence which
fell from the lips of Christ–   “You must be born again.”

Consequently, there are all sorts of inventions to remove the
truth out of those words. “Oh, yes!” say some, “you must be born
again, but that means the application of aqueous fluid to an
  infant’s brow.”

As God is true, that teaching is a lie; there is no grain or
shade of truth within it. No operation that can be performed
by man can ever regenerate the soul.  It is the work alone of
God the Holy Spirit, who creates us anew in Christ Jesus.

Men do not like that truth.

Spiritual Truth Still Displeases the Natural Man.

Taken from GraceGems

What a Sight!

What a Sight! 
The following is from Spurgeon’s sermon, 
   “LOVE’S LOGIC” 

O the beauty of the person of Jesus, when seen with 
the eye of faith by the illumination of the Holy Spirit! 

As the light of the morning, when the sun arises, “as a 
morning without clouds,” is our Well-Beloved unto us. 

The sight of the burning bush made Moses put off his shoes, but 
the transporting vision of Jesus makes us put off all the world! 

When once He is seen we can discern no beauties 
  in all other creatures in the universe. 

He, like the sun, has absorbed all other 
glories into his own excessive brightness. 

This is the pomegranate which love feeds upon, 
  the flagon wherewith it is comforted. 

A sight of Jesus causes such union of heart with him, 
such goings’ out of the affections after him, 
and such meltings of the spirit towards him, 
that its expressions often appear to carnal men to 
be extravagant and forced; when they are nothing but 
the free, unstudied, and honest effusions of its love. 

Carnal men are themselves ignorant of the divine passion of love 
to Jesus, and therefore the language of the enraptured heart is 
unintelligible to them. They are poor translators of love’s 
celestial tongue who think it to be at all allied with the amorous 
superfluities uttered by carnal passions. Jesus is the only one 
upon whom the loving believer has fixed his eye, and in his converse 
with his Lord he will often express himself in language which is 
meant only for his Master’s ear, and which worldlings would utterly 
scorn could they but listen to it. The pious feelings at which 
they jeer, are as much beyond their highest thoughts as the 
‘sonnets of angels’ excel the ‘gruntings of swine’. 

Taken from GraceGems

The never-failing friend

The never-failing friend 
The following is from Spurgeon’s sermon, 
   “LOVE’S LOGIC” 

Experience of the love, tenderness, and faithfulness of 
our Lord Jesus Christ will weld our hearts to him. 

The very THOUGHT of the love of Jesus towards us is enough to 
inflame our holy passions, but the EXPERIENCING of his love 
heats the furnace seven times hotter. 

He has been with us in our TRIALS, cheering and consoling us, 
sympathizing with every groan, and regarding every tear with 
affectionate compassion. Do we not love him for this? 

He has befriended us in every TIME OF NEED, so bounteously 
supplying all our neediness out of the riches of his fullness, 
that he has not allowed us to lack any good thing. 
Shall we be unmindful of such unwearying care? 

He has helped us in every DIFFICULTY, furnishing us with 
strength equal to our day; he has leveled the mountains before 
us, and filled up the valleys; he has made rough places plain, 
and crooked things straight. Do we not love him for this also? 

In all our DOUBTS he has directed us in the path of wisdom, 
and led us in the way of knowledge. He has not allowed us to 
wander; he has led us by a right way through the pathless 
wilderness. Shall we not praise him for his. 

He has repelled our ENEMIES, covered our heads in the day of 
battle, broken the teeth of the oppressor, and made us more 
than conquerors. Can We Forget Such Mighty Grace? 

Are we not constrained to call upon all 
that is within us to bless his holy name? 

Not one promise of his has been broken, but all have come to pass. 

In no single instance has he failed us; 
he has never been unkind, unmindful, or unwise. 

The harshest strokes of his providence have been as full of 
love as the softest embraces of his condescending fellowship. 

We cannot, we dare not find fault with him. 

He has done all things well. 

His love toward his people is perfect, and the consideration 
of his love is sweet to contemplation; the very remembrance 
of it is like ointment poured forth, and the present enjoyment 
of it, the  experience of it at the present moment, is beyond 
all things delightful! 

At home or abroad, on the land or the sea, in health or sickness, 
in poverty or wealth, JESUS, THE NEVER-FAILING FRIEND, affords us 
tokens of his grace, and binds our hearts to him in the bonds of 
constraining gratitude. 

If we were we not dull scholars, we would, in the experience of 
a single day, discover a thousand reasons for loving our Redeemer. 

Taken from GraceGems

Return unto your rest, O my soul!

Return unto your rest, O my soul!

(Edward Griffin, 1770-1837)

Return unto your rest, O my soul — for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” Psalm 116:7

To rest in God, is  . . .
  to be satisfied with Him as our portion,
  to take Him for our supreme good, and
  to feel that we have enough and abound while possessing Him — though everything else is taken away. 

“Give me,” says the believer, “the enjoyment of my God — and I desire no more. Allow me to feast on heavenly truth — and I shall never complain that I am poor. Let worldlings divide the globe among themselves — let emmets contend for this little heap of dust; I have God — and I ask no more. Come wars and pestilence, come poverty and death — you cannot rob me of my portion.” 

Must it not be substantial rest . . .
  to have the infinite God for a portion,
  to have all the restless desires of the mind composed,
  to feel no anxious apprehension for the future,
  to know that if everything which time or death can destroy, were removed — the whole of one’s portion would remain; 
  to feel that nothing can injure, nothing impoverish, nothing perplex or disturb? 

Ah, give me this portion — instead of thrones and kingdoms!

“Whom have I in Heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!” Psalm 73:25-26

Taken from GraceGems

That very church which the world likes best!

That very church which the world likes best!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:16-18

That very church which the world likes best, is sure to be the church which God abhors most!

“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them!” 2 Timothy 3:2-5

“We have learned to live with unholiness in our churches, and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a church meeting, where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to church with a stick of striped candy, in the form of religious movies, games and entertainments.”

A. W. Tozer

The Unseen Places

“The Word of God judges the thoughts. The word “judge” means to critique, to be or act as a critic. This is to say that Scripture is able to accurately audit a person’s life and size it up for what it is. The Word of God is able to examine the unseen attitudes and motivations, expose the secret ambitions and desires, and then render the divine verdict. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart. This sharp, two-edged sword is able to penetrate into the hidden crevices of the heart and judge what only God can see. The Word makes known what we alone know about ourselves – and often what we do not yet know of ourselves. Scripture plunges deep into the unseen places of the human spirit and judges the private matters of the heart. Only the razor-sharp Word of God can do this.”

Steven J. Lawson

Cappuccino, Chicken Panini & The Immeasurable Riches Of His Grace

It’s Tuesday morning again and this means…..Going to Roots Coffee Shop to get a Cappuccino and a Chicken Panini. But this time while i was sat, my mind drifted to the grim reaper tattoo on my leg. It’s a constant reminder of the position i was in when i got it, and the position i’m in now….Which is life or death! 

As an unbeliever, i got it to simply look hard, and death was what people seemed to fear the most and they certainly didn’t like talking about it. So i thought this was the coolest thing…..Never knowing that God had already written about this. lol.

Ephesians 2:1-3 English Standard Version 

2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But now sitting here sipping my Cappuccino thinking….i still have the tattoo and yet i’m in a totally different position. Born again, a new creation….Not by anything i did, but by the Grace of our Lord Jesus. Unbelievable! 

Ephesians 2:4-10 English Standard Version 

By Grace Through Faith

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Each time i remember this tattoo on my leg, i remember that death has no sting for the Child of God…..

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 English Standard Version 

55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I fail to describe the Joy and Peace this gives me, knowing he has saved me and i can trust in Him. I love the line from the old Hymn: On Christ the solid rock i stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

A lamb with a wolf’s head!

(John Angell James, “Christian Fellowship” 1822)

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5

Christians should excel in the manifestation of Christ’s character. The mind which was in Jesus, should be in them. They should consider His character as a model of their own; and be conspicuous for their . . .

poverty of spirit,
meekness,
gentleness,
and love.

It is matter of surprise and regret, that many people seem to think that Christianity has nothing to do with character! And that provided they are free from gross sins, and have lively feelings in devotional exercises, they may be as petulant, irritable, and implacable as they please! This is a dreadful error, and has done great mischief to the cause of God!

A sour, ill-natured Christian, is like a lamb with a wolf’s head! Or like a dove with a vulture’s beak!

If there be any one word which above all others should describe a Christian’s character, it is that which represents his divine Father; and as it is said, that ‘God is love’, so should it be also affirmed, that a Christian is love–love embodied, an incarnation of love! His words, his conduct, his very looks–should be so many expressions of love!

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us!” Ephesians 4:32-5:2

💪🏼 A Huge Thanks To Vini!

Vini

 Hi all, i wondered if you’d join me in thanking this remarkable young dude Vini! 💪🏼 😀 

Vini has been my Gym Buddy for 7 months now and as a blind man trying to train….I can’t tell you how much having Vini around to encourage, enable, spot and push me to not quit helps me on this fantastic new healthy journey. 😀 

What’s even more remarkable……Vini came to the UK 6 years ago when he was 11, and he couldn’t even say hello to me, as he didn’t speak any english at all! Now he can speak better english than me, as i have a thick Derby accent, lol. 😀 

He’s now nearly a year into his A levels and can speak 3 languages so far as well as many other giftings.

I could go on and on, lol…..But i just wanted to thank him for his dedication to training, and for not minding having an old blind guy following him around. He just keeps on giving and helping me to achieve my goals, even though he’s got lots on with school etc…..And for everything he does and the excellent young man he’s becoming…..I’d like to give him a huge thanks! I feel so proud that he calls me “Uncle”. 💪🏼 😀 

Carrying A Princess

I thought i’d just share a couple of photos with you guys of my fun afternoon….Giving my lovely wife Sarah(Princess) a lift around our local common. I keep saying to Sarah “It’s great to finally give you a lift, as i haven’t driven a car since i was registered blind 18 years ago! lol. 😝

In case you’re wondering why……I’ve been challenge by Sarah’s nail tech/artist to do a Tough Mudder 5K on 13th October 2018 One of the activities(called Hero Carry) is to carry someone for a quarter of a mile. 

Sarah as my Backpack

Sarah as my Backpack 2

Big thanks to our friend Sara for capturing these fun photos. 😝 

Building The Muscle Of Faith!

Two dumbbells made of fruitFor the past 6 months I’ve started training in the gym! I know it was a surprise for me too. lol. 😝 

It came about when our friends Ben & Rosie had their latest son Leoin August 2017.  and while Sarah & i were visiting Rosie in hospital, Rosie mentioned that her son Vini(16 already) was going to the local Gym but needed some encouragement?!

Sarah quickly said “Steve knows loads about training at the gym and it would be great for Steve to get training again”. I said “Erm, i havn’t trained for over 20 years…..And i could see back then. I’ve tried Gyms since, but they are simply not accessible for me”. My avoidance tactic didn’t work, lol. 

A huge, huge huge Thank you to Vini…. 😝 

I was excited about the prospect of training again as my blindness kills my mobility and i lose hope of exercise etc. But after meeting Vini at the Gym, i realised that there were quite a few machines i could do, i can’t see the dumbbell sizes(or even the dumbbells for that matter) but it doesn’t matter much as Vini sorts all of that out. But unfortunately i still have to lift them on my own!

 It is really, really hard work. Every time I train I leave the gym completely exhausted and feeling very sore the next few days. Nothing beats when you begin to feel good after a workout and to see improvements every time you go. Being able to lift heavier, for longer and knowing your body is beginning to adjust and change according to your routine. 

The Christian Walk With God Is a little Like Training At The Gym…

The beginner gym goer is like the newly saved christian who has to build up their relationship with Jesus and become more familiar with the word of God slowly and consistently.

Iron Sharpens Iron…

The beginner needs to be discipled and encouraged along their journey, and not keep looking to the mature ones and comparing themselves to them. You are now born again, like a new born babe. The fruit tree starts out as a seed so pride has to be beaten down like a baddie in a film that doesn’t want to die! Yes by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body.

After the gym our bodies create muscle that wasn’t their before, it uses the energy and protein that our body stores and consumes through the food we eat. Like a muscle our faith can turn into something that it wasn’t before. If we feed it with the word of God, with prayer and fellowship with other christians we can have a stronger faith day by day.

Muscle fibres are being torn and broken down in the gym so they need repaired this causes pain for a few days after.

Sometimes growing in our faith and relationship with Jesus can be sore and uncomfortable as we will have to go through situations and rise up to challenges that seem difficult emotionally and physically but every time after this our faith will seem stronger than it was before if we keep being led by the Holy Spirit and not our fleshly desires.

So next time you’re at the gym, exercising, preparing healthy food or out for a walk etc, make sure to remember to schedule in your daily ‘training’ time with God and get building that ‘muscle’ of faith.

🙏 Prayer 4 2day…..

Lord, I ask that you would bring me the wisdom, motivation, and ability to properly exercise my body. Stir me up to train all for the glory of God!

In Jesus name, Amen!

In our eagerness to make converts

(A.W. Tozer)

In our eagerness to make converts, I am afraid we have been guilty of using the techniques of modern salesmanship–which is of course to present only the desirable qualities in a product, and ignore the rest. We go to men and offer them a cozy home on the sunny side of the hill. If they will but accept Christ–then He will . . .

give them peace of mind,
solve their problems,
prosper their business,
protect their families and
keep them happy all day long.

They believe us and come–and the first cold wind sends them shivering to some counselor to find out what has gone wrong; and that is the last we hear of many of them.

The teachings of Christ reveal Him to be a realist in the finest meaning of that word. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find Him making over-optimistic promises. He told His hearers the whole truth, and let them make up their minds. He never ran after the retreating form of an inquirer who could not face up to the truth–to try to win him with rosy promises.

He would have men follow Him, knowing the cost–or He would let them go their ways.

All this is but to say that Christ is honest. We can trust Him. He knows that He will never be popular among the lost world–and He knows that His followers need not expect to be. The wind that blows in His face will be felt by all who travel with Him, and we are not intellectually honest when we try to hide that fact from others.

And scarcely anyone appears to care!

(A.W. Tozer)

The only power God recognizes in His Church, is the power of His Spirit. Whereas the only power actually recognized today by the majority of evangelicals, is the power of man. God does His work by the operation of the Spirit–while Christian leaders attempt to do theirs by the power of trained intellect. Bright personality, has taken the place of the divine influence. But only what is done through the Eternal Spirit, will abide eternally.

For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was:

a device for wasting time,
a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience,
a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability.

But of late she appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god entertainment–she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his power.

Christianity is so entangled with the world, that millions never guess how radically they have missed the New Testament pattern. Compromise is everywhere!

Evangelical Christianity is now tragically below the New Testament standard.

Worldliness is an accepted part of our way of life.
Our religious mood is social, instead of spiritual.
We have lost the art of worship.
We are not producing saints.
Our models are successful business men, celebrated athletes and theatrical personalities.
We carry on our religious activities after the methods of the modern advertiser.
Our homes have been turned into theaters.
Our literature is shallow, and our hymnody borders on sacrilege.

And scarcely anyone appears to care!

God’s Love

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

And did the Holy and the Just,
The Sovereign of the skies,
Stoop down to wretchedness and dust,
That guilty worms might rise?

Yes, the Redeemer left His throne,
His radiant throne on high,
(Surprising mercy! love unknown!)
To suffer, bleed, and die!

He took the dying traitor’s place,
And suffered in his stead;
For man (O miracle of grace!)
For man the Savior bled!

Dear Lord, what heavenly wonders dwell
In Your atoning blood!
By this are sinners snatched from Hell,
And rebels brought to God!

What glad return can I impart
For favors so divine?
O take my all, this worthless heart,
And make it wholly Thine!

Anne Steele, 1859

Do we understand what love is?

(J.R. Miller, “Help for the Day”)

Do we understand what love is? We like to be loved, that is, to have other people love us, and live for us, and do things for us. We like the gratifications of love. But that is only miserable selfishness, if it goes no further. It is a desecration of the sacred name, to think that love, at its heart, means getting, receiving. Nay, love gives.

That is what God’s love does — it finds its blessedness in giving. “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.” That is what Christ’s love does — it pours out its very lifeblood, to the last drop!

The essential meaning of loving must always be giving, not receiving.

“Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25

A spiritual playpen where the crying babies must be appeased!

A spiritual playpen where the crying babies must be appeased!

(Joseph Bianchi)

In the twenty-first century, we are obsessed with self-satisfaction and getting our desires met. Hence, any teaching that invades our lifestyle and tells us we must alter or discard out old habits, is usually consigned to the junk pile. In so thinking and doing, the church has been transformed into a spiritual playpen where the crying babies must be appeased with what makes them feel good.

The Evangelical world is abuzz with terms like “purpose driven church” or “seeker friendly church”. What these terms really amount to is one thing: compromise.

The goal of churches should not be to see how much like the world they can be, so as to make worldly people feel comfortable. Rather, the churches should be so unlike the world, so alien to the world, that the disillusioned unbeliever will be drawn to them.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Religious entertainment!

Religious entertainment!

(A.W. Tozer)

A great company of evangelical churches have already gone over into the area of religious entertainment, so that many churches are tramping on the doorstep of the theater!

The tragic results of this spirit are all about us:
shallow lives,
hollow religious philosophies,
the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings,
the glorification of men,
trust in religious externalities,
quasi-religious fellowships,
salesmanship methods,
the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit.

These and such as these, are the symptoms of an evil disease–a deep and serious malady of the soul.

Religious entertainment has so corrupted the Church, that millions don’t know that it’s a heresy. Millions of evangelicals throughout the world have devoted themselves to religious entertainment. They don’t know that it’s as much heresy, as the “counting of beads” or the “splashing of holy water” or something else. To expose this, of course, raises a storm of angry protest among the people.

Isn’t there a difference between worship and entertainment?

The church that can’t worship, must be entertained. And men who can’t lead a church to worship, must provide the entertainment. That is why we have the great evangelical heresy here today–the heresy of religious entertainment!

The cross of popular evangelicalism!

The cross of popular evangelicalism!

(A.W. Tozer)

“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

The cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament.

It is, rather–a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity.

The old cross slew men–the new cross entertains them.

The old cross humbled men–the new cross amuses them.

The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh–the new cross encourages it.

The old cross brought tears and blood–the new cross brings laughter.

The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the cross. Before that cross it bows, and toward that cross it points with carefully staged histrionics–but upon that cross it will not die, and the reproach of that cross, it stubbornly refuses to bear.

We must do something about the cross, and only one of two things we can do–flee from it, or die upon it.

The man who takes up the cross no longer controls his destiny–he lost control, when he picked up his cross. That cross immediately became to him an all-absorbing interest, an overwhelming passion. No matter what he may desire to do, there is but one thing he can do–that is, move on toward the place of crucifixion!

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!” Galatians 6:14

From such love — may I ever be delivered!

From such love — may I ever be delivered!

(J.C. Ryle, “Christian Love” 1878)

Christian love does not consist in approving everybody’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 — then 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

The God of contemporary Christianity!

The God of contemporary Christianity!

(A.W. Tozer)

“These things you have done, and I kept silent. You thought that I was altogether like you! But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face!” Psalm 50:21

The God of contemporary Christianity is only slightly superior to the pagan gods of ancient Greece and Rome–if indeed He is not actually inferior to them, in that He is weak and helpless–while they at least had some imagined power.

Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry; for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is–in itself a monstrous sin–and substitutes for the true God, one made after its own likeness. Always this god will conform to the image of the one who created it–and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges.

The essence of idolatry, is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow–they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God–and acts as if they were true.

If we insist upon trying to imagine Him–we end with an idol, made not with hands but with thoughts. And an idol of the mind, is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand!

Before a Christian Church goes into a decline, there must first be a corrupting of her Scriptural thoughts of God. She simply gives a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?”–and goes downhill from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed–her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is–and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind!

The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God, until it is once more worthy of Him–and of her!

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