Tag Archives: Grace

Such a god should be derided!

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Such a god should be derided!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The result has been . . .

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The result has been . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But he was a leper!

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But he was a leper!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Filthy Rooms!

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Two Filthy Rooms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost

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LOST!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost to piety and true happiness. 

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

Lost in sin, in ignorance, and error. 

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

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

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

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

(Arthur Pink, “The Attributes of God“)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Correcting in love–not smiting in wrath!

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Correcting in love–not smiting in wrath!

(Arthur Pink, “Comfort for Christians“)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The one is judicial; the other parental.

A third distinction is seen in the design of each.

The one is retributive–the other remedial. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is most needed today

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(Arthur Pink, “Eternal Punishment”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where are you going?

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

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

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

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

But where are we all going? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The miserable dregs of self!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cut it off!

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Cut it off!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

You shall love him!

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You shall love him!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A great and noble army of holy women

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A great and noble army of holy women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The goal of living in this world

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The goal of living in this world

(J.R. Miller, “Things That Endure”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Joy

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

Will worrying make matters any better?

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Will worrying make matters any better?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the idols of the heart!

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These are the idols of the heart! 

(John Angell James, “Spiritual Idolatry“)

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

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

These are the idols of the heart! 

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

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

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

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

 


A lamp for my feet!

Grace logoA lamp for my feet!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We should learn a lesson from the old heathen artist!

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We should learn a lesson from the old heathen artist!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The God of the broken-hearted

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The God of the broken-hearted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our words and deeds are irrevocable

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Our words and deeds are irrevocable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do we love the Word?

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Do we love the Word?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

(J.C. Ryle, “Are You Born Again?“)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A poor shoemaker in his dreary little shop

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A poor shoemaker in his dreary little shop

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is never safe to make pets of tigers!

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It is never safe to make pets of tigers! 

(J.R. Miller, “The Story of Cain and Abel” 1908)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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“Cain was very¬†angry, and his face was downcast.” Genesis 4:5¬†

“Cain attacked his brother Abel and¬†killed¬†him!” Genesis 4:8

See here, the¬†fearful growth of the evil¬†feeling¬†in Cain’s heart. It was only a¬†thought¬†at first, but it was admitted into the heart and cherished there. Then it¬†grew¬†until it caused a terrible crime! We learn here, the danger of cherishing even the smallest beginning of bitterness; we do not know to what it will grow!¬†

Some people think lightly of bad temper, laughing at it as a mere harmless weakness.
But it is a perilous mood to indulge, and we do not know to what it may lead.

“Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you!” In His reproof of Cain, the Lord likens his sin to¬†a wild beast lying in hiding by his door, ready to leap on him and devour him. This is true of all¬†sin¬†which is cherished in the heart. It may long lie quiet and seem harmless, but it is only¬†a wild beast sleeping!

There is a story of a man who took a young tiger and resolved to make a pet of it. It moved about his house like a kitten and grew up fond and gentle. For a long time its savage, blood-thirsty nature seemed changed into gentleness, and the creature was quiet and harmless. 

But one day the man was playing with his ‘pet’, when by accident his hand was scratched and the beast tasted blood. That one taste, aroused all the¬†fierce tiger nature, and the ferocious animal flew on his master and tore him to pieces!

So it is, with the passions and lusts of the old nature, which are only petted and tamed and allowed to reside in the heart. They will crouch at the door in treacherous lurking, and in some unguarded hour they will rise up in all their old ferocity! 

It is never safe to make pets of tigers! 

It is never safe to make pets of little sins!

We never know what sin may grow into–if we let it abide in our heart!¬†

“Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him!” That is what came of the passion of¬†envy¬†in Cain’s heart! It was left unrebuked, unrepented of, uncrushed–and in time it grew to fearful strength. Then in an evil moment, its¬†tiger nature¬†asserted itself!

We never know to what dreadful stature, a little sin may grow!

 

Secrets Of Joy!

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‚ÄúIt is supposed by some that religion makes people solemn, takes the sunshine out of their life, the joy out of their heart, the song out of their mouth. But the reverse of this is the truth. No other one in the world has such secrets of joy as has the Christian. Christ teaches his followers to rejoice. He bids them rejoice even in sorrow and trial.‚Ä̬†
‚Äē¬†J.R. Miller

God-pardoned, God-reconciled, Sin-delivered, God-arrayed, Heaven-entitled souls!

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God-pardoned, God-reconciled, Sin-delivered, God-arrayed, Heaven-entitled souls!

(Archibald Brown, “What Christ Has Done for Me!” 1872)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul!” Psalm 66:16

No one word¬†can fully express all that God has done for my soul, though in general it may be described as¬†saved.¬†Saved!¬†Ah, that is a grand word worthy of being written in letters of gold!¬†A saved soul¬†includes many things–I can only mention them:

1. A saved soul is a God-pardoned soul. All its sins are forgiven, and its iniquities are drowned in that deluge of pardoning love that rises high above the topmost peaks of all its mountain sins!

2. A saved soul is¬†a God-reconciled soul. Once at enmity, God and the sinner are now at peace. All differences are at an end. The¬†prodigal sinner¬†has been embraced and kissed by the father. The¬†rebel¬†has thrown down his weapons, and bent his knee to the Monarch–and the Monarch has raised him up, and with a smile of love, has put him among His children. If I may so express it,¬†God and the sinner have met and shaken hands beneath the shadow of the cross!¬†They are at at-one-ment there.

3. A saved soul is also¬†a sin-delivered soul. This is something more than pardon, or reconciliation. It is a higher blessing.¬†Pardon¬†remits the¬†punishment¬†of sin, but leaves the¬†guilt¬†of sin. But¬†justification¬†acquits the person of every charge. Believer, your sins are not merely forgiven–but they are done away with, put out of sight, removed from you as far as the remotest east is from the extreme west! In the eye of God, you are as guiltless as His spotless Son! “You are altogether beautiful, My love; there is no flaw in you!” Song of Songs 4:7¬†

4. A saved soul is also¬†a God-arrayed soul. This is higher still. The former blessing was a negation of guilt, this is a possession of righteousness. A righteousness, mark you, that is not capable of improvement, but a righteousness that is superlative in its quality–it is the righteousness of God Himself! A saved soul, even to the omniscient eye of Deity, is not only without spot or wrinkle or any such thing–but it is altogether lovely and glorious, robed in the splendor of “Jehovah Tsidkenu”–“The Lord our Righteousness!”

5. A saved soul is a Heaven-entitled soul. This crowns all. Not merely am I delivered from Hell, but in my hand is placed a title-deed to eternal glory! This is no fiction or flight of imagination, but a blessed fact. Possessed by every saint, is a title to Heaven that God Himself will declare to be valid to all eternity. 

Now believer, if all these things are included in what God has done for our souls, then did I not say rightly that many words were necessary to describe the work? Let us then, as¬†God-pardoned, God-reconciled, Sin-delivered, God-arrayed, Heaven-entitled souls–call on all, far and near, to come and listen to our joyous tale.

God looks upon His redeemed people as the masterpieces of His love and power; and He will before assembled worlds exhibit us as the grandest trophies Heaven contains!

The rose taught me a lesson

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The rose taught me a lesson

(J.R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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“Turn my eyes from looking at what is¬†worthless.” Psalm 119:37¬†

We must be always¬†turning–if we would keep our life true and according to God’s commandments.¬†

There are some¬†flowers¬†which always turn toward the¬†sun. There was¬†a little potted rose-bush¬†in a sick-room which I visited. It sat by the window. One day I noticed that the one rose on the bush was looking toward the light. I referred to it, and the sick woman said that her daughter had turned the rose around several times toward the darkness of the room–but that each time the little flower had twisted itself back, until again its face was toward the¬†light. It would not look into the¬†darkness.

The rose taught me a lesson: never to allow myself to look toward any evil, but instantly to turn from it. Not a moment should we permit our eyes to be inclined toward anything sinful. To yield to one moment’s sinful act, is to defile the soul. One of the main messages of the Bible is, “Turn from the wrong, the base, the crude, the unworthy–to the right, the pure, the noble, the godlike!” We should not allow even an unholy thought to stay a moment in our mind–but should turn from its very first suggestion, with face fully toward Christ, the Holy One.

“I will set before my eyes no¬†vile¬†thing!” Psalm 101:3

“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

 

Our thorn!

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Our thorn!

(J.R. Miller, “The Building of Character” 1894)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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“Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a¬†thorn¬†in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” 2 Corinthians 12:7

Paul tells us that his “thorn” was given to him–to keep him humble, and save him from spiritual peril. Without it, he would have been exalted above measure and would have lost his spirituality. We do not know how much of his deep insight into the things of God, and his power in service for his Master–Paul owed to¬†this torturing “thorn”.¬†It seemed to hinder him, and it caused him incessant suffering–but it detained him in the¬†low valley of humility, made him ever conscious of his own weakness and insufficiency, and thus kept him near to Christ whose home is with the humble.

There are few people who have not some “thorn” rankling in their flesh:¬†
in one it is an infirmity of speech; 
in another an infirmity of sight; 
in another an infirmity of hearing. 

Or it may be lameness; 
or a slow but incurable disease; 
or constitutional timidity, 
or excessive nervousness; 
or a disfiguring bodily deformity; 
or an infirmity of temper. 

Or it may be in one’s home–which is cold, unloving, and uncongenial;
or it may be some moral failure; 
or it may be a bitter personal disappointment through untrue friendship or unrequited love. 

Who has not his thorn?

We should never forget that in one sense, our¬†thorn¬†is a “messenger of¬†Satan,” who desires by it:
  to hurt our life,
  to mar our peace,
  to spoil the divine beauty in us, and
  to break our communion with Christ. 

On the other hand, however,¬†Christ¬†Himself has a loving design in our “thorn.” He wants it to be a blessing to us. He would have it keep us humble–and save us from becoming vain. Or He means it to soften our hearts–and make us more gentle. He would have¬†the uncongenial things in our environment¬†to discipline us into heavenly-mindedness, give us greater self-control, and help us to keep our hearts loving and sweet–amid harshness and unlovingness. He would have¬†our pain¬†teach us endurance and patience; and our¬†sorrow¬†and¬†loss¬†teach us faith.

Thus,¬†our¬†thorn¬†may either be a choice¬†blessing¬†to us–or it may do us irreparable¬†harm.¬†

If we allow it to fret us; if we chafe, resist, and complain; if we lose faith and lose heart–it will spoil our life!¬†

But if we accept it in the faith that¬†in its ugly burden–it has a blessing for us; if we endure it patiently, submissively, unmurmuringly; if we seek grace to keep our heart gentle and true amid all the trial, temptation, and suffering it causes–it will work good for us; and out of¬†its bitterness–will come sweet fruit!

He had to ‘learn the lesson’ just as we do!

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He had to ‘learn the lesson’ just as we do!

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

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“I have¬†learned¬†to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have¬†learned¬†the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in need.” Philippians 4:11-12

Life is a ‘school’. All its¬†experiences¬†are ‘lessons’.

We are all in ‘Christ’s school’–and He is always ‘educating’ us.¬†

Disciples¬†are ‘learners’ and all true Christians are disciples.¬†
We enter the lowest grade when we begin to be Christians. 
We have everything to learn. 
Each new experience, is a new lesson set for us by the great Teacher.

The business of¬†noble Christian living, is¬†learning. We know nothing when we begin. Learning is not confined to what we get from reading books.¬†All of life¬†is a school. ‘Christ’s books’ are ever being put into our hands, and ‘lessons’ are set for us continually.

Paul tells us of one of the¬†lessons¬†he had learned in the ‘school of experience’. “I have learned,” he said, “the secret of being content in any and every situation.” We are glad to know that Paul had to¬†learn¬†to be contented. We are apt to think that such a man as he was, did not have to¬†learn to live¬†as we common people do; that he always knew, for instance, how to be contented. Here, however, we have the confession that¬†he had to ‘learn the lesson’ just as we do. He did not always know ‘the secret of contentment’. He was well on in years when he said this, from which we conclude that it took him a¬†long time¬†to learn the lesson–and that it was not¬†easy¬†for him to do it.¬†Christ’s school is not easy.

Sorrow¬†is a choice lesson in Christ’s school. Sorrow is not an¬†accident¬†breaking into our life, without meaning or purpose. God could prevent the coming of the sorrow, if He so desired. He has all power, and nothing can touch the life of any of His children–unless He is willing. Since we know that God loves us and yet permits us to suffer–we may be quite sure that there is a blessing, something good, in whatever it is that brings us pain or sorrow.

We shrink from¬†pain. We would run away from¬†afflictions. We would refuse to accept¬†sorrow. But there are things worth suffering for–things dearer than¬†ease¬†and¬†pleasure. We learn lessons in pain, which repay a thousand times the cost of our tears!

The Bible tells us that God preserves the tears of His children, putting them in His tear-bottle. Tears are sacred to God, because of the blessings that come through them, to His children. In Heaven, we will look back on our lives of pain and sorrow on the earth, and will find that our best lessons have come through our tears!

All the¬†Christian graces¬†have to be learned in ‘Christ’s school’. There Paul had learned contentment. He never would have learned it, however, if he had had only¬†pleasure¬†and¬†ease¬†all his life. Contentment comes from learning to do without things, which we once supposed to be¬†essential to our comfort. Paul had learned contentment through finding such fullness of blessing in Christ–that he did not need the ‘secondary things’ any more.

Perhaps¬†we¬†would succeed better in learning this same grace–if we had fewer of life’s comforts, if sometimes we had experience of¬†need. The continuity of blessings that flow like a river into our lives, gives us no opportunity to¬†learn contentment.¬†

When sufferings come into our life . . . 
  disagreeable things, instead of pleasant things; 
  hunger and poverty, instead of plenty; 
  rough ways, instead of flower-strewn paths; 
God is teaching us the ‘lesson of contentment’, so that we can say at length, that we have¬†learned the secret of being content!

 

The life-boat of free grace!

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The life-boat of free grace!

(James Smith, “The Complaint!” 1864)

“I am cast down!”

And why are you cast down?

“My heart is burdened with a sense of my short-comings! Every duty I perform is so imperfect. Every 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 temper is 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 realize the glories of Heaven. 
I am dissatisfied with the world ‚ÄĒ and yet glued to it!¬†
I hate sin ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ 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 Jesus to save you from them ‚ÄĒ then, in spite of them ‚ÄĒ 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 gloomy thoughts.

But we must look away from self ‚ÄĒ for if we do not, we shall become anxious, doubting and gloomy! We must run the race, not looking at our imperfections, short-comings, and failures ‚ÄĒ but looking unto Jesus. He knows what we are. He knew what we would be ‚ÄĒ before He called us by His grace; yes, before He shed His 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 all the glory of saving us, and He will get great glory by doing so, because we are such great sinners; and do not, cannot, do anything to repay Him for His wondrous love! Salvation is by free grace ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ but trust in your Pilot, rely on your Captain, and expect His mercy and merit to land you safe in Heaven at last!

As imperfect as you now are, and as imperfect you will be ‚ÄĒ your dying prayer will still be, “God be merciful unto me ‚ÄĒ 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.

Hope in God, for you shall yet praise Him. 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!

 

We must hew our Agags to pieces!

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We must hew our Agags to pieces!

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†Download audio

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


“Since he had no sword, he ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill the giant and cut off his head!” 1 Samuel 17:50-51

If he had not cut off the giant’s head–the old Philistine champion would have gotten up by and by, and walked away; for he was only¬†stunned, not¬†killed, by the stone. David made¬†sure work¬†of his victory!

A great many of¬†our attacks upon sin¬†in our own hearts, and in the world–only¬†stun, and do not¬†kill¬†the evil. We walk away, thinking we have done a fine thing. But shortly, we meet the ‘old giant’ again, stalking abroad as before! He soon recovers from our blow, and we have to fight the battle over; and perhaps we fight it again in the same¬†halfhearted¬†way–and thus on and on, to the end of our life!

Most of us have had just such experience as this with our own evil lusts and passions. We overcome them very often and think each time that we are through with them, but soon again they are as active as ever.

We need to learn a lesson from David and finish our victories by cutting off the head of every giant we strike down!

There is no other way of killing sins!

The¬†life¬†is in the¬†head, and the head must be struck off–or the enemy will be facing us again in a day or two, with but a¬†scar¬†on his forehead!

The only way to get a real victory over vices is to decapitate them! Bruises and wounds are not enough. There must be thorough work done, in the name of the Lord. Half-way measures will not avail.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5¬†

“Samuel¬†hewed Agag to pieces¬†before the Lord.” 1 Samuel 15:33¬†

Like Samuel, we must hew our Agags to pieces! 

 

The Lord is my Shepherd!

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The Lord is my Shepherd!

(J.R. Miller¬†“Bethlehem to Olivet” 1905)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†Download audio

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“The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need!”¬†
Psalm 23:1

The¬†shepherd¬†is a favorite Scriptural picture of the¬†divine love and care. In the Old Testament, the¬†twenty-third Psalm¬†gathers the whole wonderful truth in exquisite lines, which are dear to young and old wherever the Bible is known. Then in the New Testament, when our Lord would give His friends the sweetest revealings of His heart toward them, and tell them what they are to Him, and what He would be to them–He says,¬†I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”¬†John 10:11¬†

The Hebrew shepherd¬†lives¬†with his sheep. If they are out in the storm–he is with them. If they are exposed to danger–so is he.¬†
Just so, Christ lives with His people. He enters into closest relations with them.

The shepherd knows his sheep. He has a name for each one and calls them all by their names. 
Just so, Christ knows each one of His friends, and has intimate personal knowledge of each one. He knows the best in us–and also the worst. He knows our faults, our sins, our wanderings. Yet, knowing us as we are–He loves us still and never wearies of us!

The shepherd is most¬†gentle¬†with his sheep. He does not¬†drive¬†them–but goes before them and¬†leads¬†them. When they need rest on the way–he¬†makes¬†them lie down, and chooses for their resting-place, not the dusty road–but¬†green pastures. He is especially kind to the¬†lambs, gathers them in his arms and carries them in his bosom.¬†
All this is an exquisite picture of the¬†gentleness of our Good Shepherd in His care of His sheep.¬†He is thoughtful toward the weak. He loves the¬†lambs¬†and makes room for them in His bosom. Whatever the need is, there is something in the heart of Christ which meets its craving and supplies its lack! “He will feed His flock like a shepherd.¬†He will carry the¬†lambs¬†in his arms,holding them close to His heart.¬†He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”¬†Isaiah 40:11

The shepherd defends his flock in all danger. Often he had to risk his own safety, even his life, in protecting his sheep. 
Just so, the Good Shepherd gives His¬†life–for His sheep!

Christ’s sheep are absolutely¬†safe¬†in His keeping. “I give unto them eternal life,” He said; “and they will never perish–ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!” Then at last, He will bring His own all¬†safely home, “and they shall become one flock–with one Shepherd!”

 

 

How can we learn contentment?

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How can we learn contentment? 

(J.R. Miller, “The Hidden Life” 1895)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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

“I have¬†learned to be content¬†in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11

How can we learn contentment? 

One step toward contentment, is patient submission to unavoidable ills and hardships. No earthly lot is perfect. No mortal ever yet in this world, has found a set of circumstances without some drawback. There are . . .
  trials which we cannot change into blessings,
  burdens which we cannot lay down,
  crosses which we must continue to carry,
  thorns in the flesh which must remain with their rankling pain.
When we have such trials, why should we not sweetly accept them as part of¬†God’s best way¬†with us?¬†

Discontent never made . . .
  a rough path smoother,
  a heavy burden lighter,
  a bitter cup less bitter,
  a dark way brighter,
  a sore sorrow less sore. 
It only makes matters worse! 

One who accepts with patience, that which he cannot change–has learned one secret of victorious living.

Another part of the lesson, is that we can learn to¬†moderate our desires. “Having food and clothing,” says Paul again, “let us be content with these.” Very much of our discontent arises from envy of those who seem to be more favored than ourselves. Many people lose most of the comfort out of their own lot–in coveting the finer, more luxurious things which some neighbor has. Yet if they knew the whole story of the life they envy for its greater prosperity, they probably would not exchange for it their own lowlier life with its more humble circumstances. Or if they could make the exchange, it is not likely they would find half so much real happiness in the other position, as they would have enjoyed in their own.¬†

Contentment does not dwell so often in¬†palaces–as in the homes of the¬†humble. The¬†tall peaks¬†rise higher and are more conspicuous–but the winds smite them more fiercely than they do the¬†quiet valleys. And surely, the lot in life which God makes for us, is always the¬†best¬†which could be made for us for the time. He knows better than we do, what our true needs are.¬†

The real¬†cause¬†of our¬†discontent¬†is not in our¬†circumstances; if it were, a change of circumstances might cure it. It is in¬†ourselves, and wherever we go–we shall carry our¬†discontent heart¬†with us. The only¬†cure¬†which will affect anything, must be the curing of the¬†fever of discontent¬†in us.

A fine secret of contentment, lies in¬†finding and extracting all the pleasure we can get from the things we have–the common, everyday things; while we enter upon no mad, vain chase after¬†impossible dreams. In whatever state we are in, we may find therein enough for our needs.

No earthly misfortune can touch the wealth which a Christian holds in the divine promises and hopes. Just in the measure, therefore, in which we¬†learn to live for spiritual and unseen eternal realities–do we find contentment amid earth’s trials and losses. If we would live to please God, to build up Christlike character in ourselves, and to lay up treasure in Heaven–we shall not depend for happiness, on the way things go with us here on earth, nor on the measure of temporal goods we have. The earthly desires are crowded out by the higher and spiritual desires. We can do without¬†childhood’s toys–when we have¬†manhood’s¬†better possessions. We desire the¬†toys of this world¬†less, as we get more of God and Heaven into our hearts.

Paul knew this secret. He cheerfully gave up all that this world had for him. Money had no power over him. He knew how to live in¬†plenty; but he did not fret when¬†poverty¬†came instead. He was content in any trial, because earth meant so little–and Christ meant so much to him. He did not¬†need¬†the things he did not have. He was not made poor by the things he lost. He was not vexed by the sufferings he had to endure–because the sources of his life were in Heaven and could not be touched by earthly experiences of pain or loss.

These are hints of the way we may learn to be content in whatever circumstances. Surely the lesson is worth learning! One year of sweet contentment, amid earth’s troublous scenes–is better than a whole lifetime of vexed, restless discontent! The lesson¬†can¬†be learned, too, by anyone who is truly Christ’s disciple; for did not the Master say, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you.”

The artist painted¬†life¬†as a dark, storm-swept sea, covered with wrecks. Then out of the midst of the wild waves, he made to rise a great rock, in a cleft of which, high up, amid herbage and flowers–he painted a dove sitting quietly on her nest. It is a picture of Christian peace in the midst of this world’s strifes and storms. In the cleft of the Rock, is the home of contentment.

What does our church need?

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What does our church need?

(James Smith, “Good seed for the Lord’s field!” 1856)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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


“Our gospel came to you not simply with words–but also with¬†power, with the¬†Holy Spirit¬†and with¬†deep conviction.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5

“We have,” said one pastor, “the gospel regularly preached, the prayer meetings are continued, the church is in peace–but very few souls are converted to God!¬†What does our church need?

It needs the¬†presence¬†and¬†power¬†of the Holy Spirit! For unless the Holy Spirit works–your minister may preach, your church may meet–but no real good will be done! God’s work is carried on, not by might nor by power–but by the Spirit of the Lord Almighty. It is the Spirit who must . . .
   open the heart, 
   quicken the soul, and 
   sanctify the person!

And if the Spirit works–then the feeblest ministry is efficient, and the smallest church prospers!

All the¬†success¬†that followed the preaching of Peter and the labors of Paul, was from the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul says, “God¬†gave the increase.”¬†Then¬†the church felt her¬†need¬†of the Spirit; she realized her¬†dependence¬†on that divine Agent; she prayed with faith, fervor, and importunity for the blessing; and God answered her prayers, and filled His servants with the Holy Spirit and with power!

But now-a-days,¬†we merely¬†talk¬†of the Spirit–rather than feel our need!¬†
We boast of our¬†instruments–rather than realize our dependence on the Almighty Agent!

 

The unchangeable method of God!

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The unchangeable method of God!

(Matthew Mead, “The Almost Christian” 1661)

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“I have not come to call the¬†righteous, but¬†sinners¬†to repentance.” Luke 5:32

That is, such as see themselves as sinners, and thereby in a lost condition. 
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the¬†lost.” Luke 19:10

God will have the soul truly sensible of the¬†bitterness of sin–before it shall taste the¬†sweetness of mercy. The¬†plough of conviction¬†must go deep, and make deep furrows in the heart, before God will sow the precious¬†seed of grace¬†there–so that it may have depth of earth to grow in.¬†

This is¬†the unchangeable method of God¬†in bestowing grace–to begin with¬†conviction of sin.¬†
¬† First to show man his¬†sin–then his Savior;¬†
¬† first his¬†danger–then his Redeemer;¬†
¬† first his¬†wound–then his cure;¬†
¬† first his¬†own¬†vileness–then Christ’s righteousness.¬†

The sinner must see the worthlessness and vileness of his¬†own¬†righteousness–before he can be saved by¬†Christ’s¬†righteousness. The Israelites are first stung with the¬†fiery¬†serpents–and then the¬†brazen¬†serpent is set up to heal them.¬†

We must see the¬†leprosy¬†of our righteousness, and be brought to cry out,¬†“Unclean, unclean!”¬†We must mourn for Him whom we have pierced–and then He sets open for us “a fountain to cleanse us from all sin and impurity.” Zechariah 12:10, 13:1.

Be convinced of the¬†evil¬†of sin–the¬†filthy¬†and¬†heinous¬†nature of it.¬†
Sin is the greatest evil in the world:
  it wrongs God;
  it wounds Christ;
  it grieves the Holy Spirit;
  it damns a precious soul.
All other evils cannot be compared with this. Though to DO sin is the worst work–yet to SEE sin is the best sight! Sin discovered in its vileness–makes Christ to be desired in His fullness!

Alas! it is Christ’s infinite¬†righteousness¬†which must atone for our sins–for it is an infinite God whom we have sinned against!¬†

If ever your¬†sin is pardoned–it is Christ’s infinite¬†mercy¬†which must pardon it!¬†

If ever you are¬†reconciled to God–it is Christ’s infinite¬†merit¬†which must do it!¬†

If ever your¬†heart is changed–it is Christ’s infinite¬†power¬†which must effect it!¬†

If ever your¬†soul escapes Hell, and is saved at last–it is Christ’s infinite¬†grace¬†which must save it!

True excellency!

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True excellency!

(Jonathan Edwards)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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Worldly men imagine that there is true excellency and true happiness in those things which they are pursuing. They think that if they could but obtain them, that they would be happy. But when they obtain them, and cannot find happiness–then they look for happiness in something else, and are still upon the futile pursuit.

There is a transcendent glory, and an ineffable sweetness in Christ.

Jesus Christ has true excellency, and so great an excellency that when you come to truly see Him, you look no further, but your mind rests there.

You see that you had been pursuing shadows, but now you have found the substance.

You realize that you had been seeking happiness in the stream, but now you have found the ocean.

The excellency of Christ is an object adequate to the natural cravings of the soul, and is sufficient to fill its capacity.

Christ has an infinite excellency, such as the mind desires, in which it can find no bounds.
The more the mind contemplates Him, the more excellent does He appear.

Each new discovery of Christ makes His beauty appear more ravishing, and the mind can see no end to His excellency. There is room enough for the mind to go deeper and deeper, and never come to the bottom.

Christ’s excellency is always fresh and new, and will as much delight us after we have beheld Him a thousand or ten thousand years–as when we have seen Him the first moment.

The soul is exceedingly ravished when it first looks on the beauty of Christ. It is never weary of Him.

“His mouth is most sweet, Yes, He is¬†altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!” Song of Songs 5:16¬†

“Put the beauty of ten thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden in one; put all trees, all flowers, all fragrances, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all loveliness, all sweetness in one. O what a lovely and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less compared to our dearest well-beloved Christ–than one drop of rain compared to the whole seas, rivers, and lakes of ten thousand earths.”¬†Samuel Rutherford

 

A glance into heavenly bliss!

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A glance into heavenly bliss!

(“Solitude Sweetened” by¬†James Meikle, 1730-1799)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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O Eternity! All at once I find myself in an unbounded flood of bliss, a spacious sea of glory–lost in wonder amidst ineffable delights, and transported with the raptures of seraphic harmony! While all His saints rejoice in His excellent glory–what ardor glows in every soul, and what rapture swells in every song! O the wondrous displays of His perfections, the manifestations of His goodness, the outlettings of His love!

Here we received out of His fullness–grace upon grace, and glory upon glory.¬†
Our heavenly possession is worthy of our liberal Giver. We have . . .
  a kingdom which cannot be moved,
  an undefiled inheritance, which does not fade away,
  a city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God,
  garments of glory,
  a crown of righteousness and eternal life,
  the tree of life to feed upon,
  the fountain of life to drink of, 
  the garden of God to walk in,
  life above the reach of death,
  health secured from sickness, 
  eternal pleasure without pain! 

Our bodies are immortal, 
our souls are immaculate, 
our senses are sanctified, 
our conceptions are spiritualized, 
our faculties are enlarged, and 
our whole soul is glorious! 

Our past bliss is with us in the sweet remembrance, 
our present bliss enchants us in the enjoyment, and
our future bliss is present with us in the full assurance of our eternal felicity. 

Thus we are forever blessed to the highest degree. We are . . .
  above all fear,
  beyond anxiety and doubt,
  and fixed above all change!

Our service is sincere, 
our adorations are ardent, 
our knowledge is profound and satisfying. 

Rapture rushes in at every part!

Our eyes are ravished with seeing the King in His beauty;
our ears are ravished with hearing the songs of the inner temple;
our nostrils are ravished with the fragrance of the Rose of Sharon, the plant of renown; 
our feet are ravished with standing in His holy place; 
our hands are ravished with handling of the word of life; and 
our¬†mouths¬†are ravished¬†with the wine of our Beloved, which goes down sweetly–causing our souls to shout aloud, and our lips to sing and never cease.¬†

Our experience of His fullness, our vision of His perfections and glory–constitute our most exalted bliss, and are the heaven of heavens!

O what torrents of eternal love teem from the glorious throne into our souls! 

O the pleasure that is in His presence! 

O the exuberant rivers of joy that flow at His right hand! 

O love! never to be forgotten–which has brought me safely through so many winding labyrinths and crooked paths, in sight of so many enemies–in spite of . . .¬†
  a tempting devil, 
  the accusations of my sins,
  the rebellion of my lusts, 
  the carnality of my affections, and
¬† the weakness of all my graces–
to dwell at last forever in heavenly bliss!

O eternity! Once the comfort of our longing expectations–now the transport of our enlarged souls! For we are . . .
  forever with the Lord,
  beholding His unclouded face,
  wearing His divine name,
  drinking at the streams of His pleasures,
  eating of His hidden manna,
  sitting beneath the Tree of Life,
  basking under the beams of the Sun of Righteousness,
  singing hallelujahs to Him who loved us, who washed us from our sins in His blood, and brought us here to be with Him forever!

O state of complete happiness and consummate bliss!

Your everlasting treasure, and your unchangeable Friend!

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Your everlasting treasure, and your unchangeable Friend!

(George Everard, “Up High!” 1884)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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


“Thus says the Lord:
  Let not a wise man glory in his wisdom,
  and let not the mighty man glory in his might,
  let not a rich man glory in his riches. 
But let him who glories, glory in this–that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things!”¬†Jeremiah 9:23-24

Glory in Christ–and in Him alone!¬†

Glory in Him as your Faithful Shepherd, who will care for you, and guard you, and restore you, and keep you even to the end. 

Glory in Him as your Unfailing Physician, who will heal your soul-wounds, and bind up the bleeding, broken heart. 

Glory in Him as your Great High Priest, who ever lives to plead your cause before the Throne of grace. 

Glory in Him as your Omnipotent King, who reigns over the events of Providence, and will make all things work together for your eternal good. 

Glory in Him as your Mighty Redeemer, who will deliver you from every enemy, and make you conqueror over sin, death and Hell. 

Glory in Him as your¬†Everlasting Portion, remembering that when all else shall take wings and flee away–when the home is broken up, and dear ones die, and means grow less, and health decays, yes, when everything on earth fails you–He will beyour everlasting treasure, and your unchangeable Friend!

And let this glorying be seen by your¬†entire resignation to His will–and by choosing His path rather than your own.

“Not I, but Christ!”¬†Lord, choose for me,¬†
 And make me love what pleases Thee. 

“Not I, but Christ!”¬†His will be done,¬†
 And mine with His be merged in one. 

Myself no longer would I see, 
But Jesus crucified for me. 

His eye to guide, His voice to cheer, 
His mighty arm forever near. 

“Not I, but Christ!”¬†Lord, let this be¬†
 A motto throughout life for me!

 

Altogether lovely!

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Altogether lovely!

(“Solitude Sweetened” by James Meikle, 1730-1799)¬†¬†LISTEN to audio!¬†¬†Download audio

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“Yes, He is¬†altogether lovely!¬†This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!” Song of Solomon 5:16

Why does the world reject the wondrous Savior? Why do they abhor Him who is altogether lovely, and hate Him who is the best Friend of sinners? 

O men of the world! what good can you desire which is not in Christ? The excellencies of earth are but His footstool; the excellencies of Heaven are but His throne! How excellent, then, must He Himself be! 

His treasures are infinite–and open for you!¬†

In Jesus are . . .
¬†¬†riches–if you are poor;¬†
¬†¬†honor–if you are despised;¬†
¬†¬†friendship–if you are forsaken;
¬†¬†help–if you are injured;
¬†¬†mercy–if you are miserable;
¬†¬†joy–if you are disconsolate;¬†
¬†¬†protection–if you are in danger;
¬†¬†deliverance–if you are a captive;
¬†¬†life–if you are mortal; and
¬†¬†all things–if you have nothing at all.¬†

Time and eternity are His–and He can give you all the glorious things of eternity!

Moreover, He can deliver you . . .
  from all your fears;
¬† from¬†sin–the worst of all evils;
¬† from¬†self–the most hurtful of all companions;
¬† from¬†death–the most dreadful of all changes;
¬† from¬†Satan— the most subtle of all enemies;
¬† from¬†Hell–the most horrible of all prisons; and
¬† from¬†wrath–the most horrifying doom of all sinners!

Now, where will you find such a one as Jesus? 

Why, then, refuse life, and seek after death and damnation?

All Heaven is enamored with His beauty!

The longer we look on ‘created gaieties’, the leaner and less lovely they grow; so that, by the time we have viewed them forty, fifty, or sixty years–we see nothing but¬†vanity¬†in the creature! But when ten thousand ages are employed in beholding the perfection and beauty of Jesus, He still appears¬†more and more lovely–even¬†altogether lovely!

Alas! I can say nothing of His true excellencies! They overwhelm my laboring thought, and are too vast for my feeble conception to bring forth!

The greatness of the sin of gluttony!

ūü§Ē My Thoughts…

Wow, this post hit me hard this morning!! I know all about this struggle and these words really humble me to my knees! ūüôŹ¬†

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The greatness of the sin of gluttony!

(Richard Baxter, “Directions against Gluttony”)

1. Gluttony is a sin exceedingly contrary to the love of God–it is idolatry!¬†
What an odious, swinish, damning sin it is–for a man’s heart to be set upon his belly!

2. Gluttony is self-murder! Though it does not kill suddenly–it kills surely!

3. Gluttony is a deadly enemy to the mind, and to all the noble employments of reason.

4. Gluttony dulls the body as well as the mind. It makes men heavy, and drowsy and slothful.

5. Gluttony is the immediate effect of a carnal mind, and of the damnable sin of flesh-pleasing. 

6. Gluttony is the breeder and feeder of all other lusts.

7. Gluttony is a base and beastly kind of sin.

8. Gluttony is a wasteful consumer and devourer of the creatures of God.

9. Gluttony is a most unthankful sin–it takes God’s mercies, and spews them as it were in His face!

10. Gluttony is a sin which turns your own mercies, and wealth, and food–into your snare and deadly ruin. You please your throat–and poison your soul!

11. Gluttony is a thief that robs you of your estates, and devours that which is given you for better uses, and for which you must give account to God.

12. Gluttony is a sin so much the greater–by how much the more delight you have in the committing of it. The sweetest, most voluntary and beloved sin–is the greatest sin. Few sins are more pleasant and beloved than gluttony.

13. Gluttony is the greater sin, because it is so frequently committed. Men live in it as their daily practice and delight. They live for it, and make it the end of other sins. Being turned into beasts–they live like beasts continually!

The more I see of Jesus

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The more I see of Jesus

(Mary Winslow)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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“My ears had¬†heard¬†of You, but now my eyes have¬†seen¬†You!
¬†Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6¬†

The more I see of Jesus, the more He opens to me His loving heart–the deeper is my sorrow for sin. I lie down in the dust at His feet closer than ever I did before. I can truly say I abhor myself in dust and ashes before Him. My heart seems ready to melt into contrition in view of the ten thousand thousand sins, willful and aggravating–that I have committed against Him who loved me with an everlasting love, and with loving kindness drew me to Himself.¬†

So eternal and deep, so sovereign and boundless is the love of Jesus, that angels cannot fathom it! He is nothing but sincere, constant, and unabating love–to the weakest and most unworthy of all His little flock.¬†

I feel such a weariness of this world that nothing here gives me anything more than a momentary, passing pleasure–and it is gone at a glance.

Oh, to have such a Friend as Jesus, who feels all our sorrows, carries all our burdens; and has promised to bring us safely through this trying world, and place us at last at His own right hand, where neither sickness nor sorrow shall ever come! 

Oh for Heaven! Nothing else will satisfy my longing soul, but the sight of Him it loves! 

Jesus is all in all to me, and He will be all in all through eternity! 

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name!

 

The God of contemporary Christianity!

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The God of contemporary Christianity!

(A.W. Tozer)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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“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!

There are ‘Jebusites’ in every Christian heart!

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There are ‘Jebusites’ in every Christian heart!

(J. R. Miller, “Miller’s Year Book–a Year’s Daily Readings”)

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem, to¬†fight¬†against the¬†Jebusites¬†who inhabited the land.” 2 Samuel 5:6

The Jebusites still held a¬†stronghold¬†in the heart of the country, never having been dislodged. Just so,¬†there are ‘Jebusites’ in every Christian heart!

In every heart, there are little ‘Jebusite strongholds’, which it seems impossible for us to conquer. Sometimes it is a¬†secret sin¬†which lives on, unconquered, amid the general holiness of a life. Sometimes it is a remnant of the old nature–such as pride, worldliness, selfishness, lust, or bitterness. There are many other such¬†citadels of evil, which rear their proud towers and defy conquest.

“We all have our faults!” we say, and under this¬†cloak¬†we manage to tuck away a large number of¬†dear idols¬†that we do not want to give up!

We ought to give attention to¬†these unsubdued parts of our life–that every thought, feeling, and temper may be brought into subjection to Christ. It is perilous to leave even one such¬†unconquered stronghold¬†in our heart!

“If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of Hell!” Matthew 18:9¬†

“For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the evil deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13¬†

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.” Colossians 3:5-7¬†

 

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