Tag Archives: GraceGems

You must keep the circus going!

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You must keep the circus going! 

(Ernest Reisinger)

Whatever means you use to get people into the church, is precisely what you must use to keep them.

If you get them with a ‘religious circus’ then¬†you must keep the circus going–you must keep up the entertainment.

If you get them with biblical preaching and teaching, then that will keep them and you will not need the entertainment. 

“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:2-3¬†

If you saw Christ standing beside you all the time

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If you saw Christ standing beside you all the time

(J.R. Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems”)

Scripture says of Moses, that¬†“he endured as seeing Him who is invisible!”¬†Hebrews 11:27. That is, Moses always remembered that God was right beside him, his friend to¬†help¬†him–and this made him strong. He did not actually¬†see¬†God–but it was¬†as if¬†he saw Him. That is, he¬†realized the divine presence¬†in all of his life.

If you saw Christ standing beside you all the time–it would not be hard for you to keep sweet, or to keep control of your temper and speech.¬†

Well, Christ¬†IS¬†beside you–just as really as He was beside Mary when she sat at His feet in Bethany, or beside Peter and the other disciples as they walked together over the hills of Judea and Galilee. What you need, is to¬†realize this fact.¬†

We know that Jesus is present with us all the time, at every moment, by day or by night. He is closer than any human friend can be to us. Indeed, we are to¬†practice His presence–that is, we are to live all the time, as if we actually saw Him!

You must remember that Christ¬†is¬†always besides¬†you, not only to¬†see¬†you–but to¬†help¬†you, as your truest and best Friend!

Do not judge a minister . . .

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Do not judge a minister . . .

(Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ!“)

“If you point these things out to the brethren, you will be¬†a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the¬†truths¬†of the faith and of the¬†good teaching¬†that you have followed.” 1 Timothy 4:6¬†

It is sad to see how many preachers in our days make it their business to enrich men’s¬†heads¬†with lofty, empty, airy notions–instead of enriching their¬†souls¬†with holy truths.¬†

Fix yourself under that man’s ministry who makes it his business, his work–to enrich the soul, to win the soul, and to build up the soul; not to tickle the ear, or please the fancy. This age is full of such light, vain souls–who dislike everything but what is empty and airy.

Do not judge a minister . . .
  by his voice, nor
  by the multitude who follow him, nor
  by his affected tone, nor
  by his rhetoric and flashes of wit;
but by the holiness, heavenliness, and spiritualness of his teaching! 
Many ministers are like empty orators, who have a¬†flood¬†of words–but a¬†drop¬†of matter!

Some preachers affect rhetorical strains; they seek abstrusities and love to hover and soar aloft in dark and cloudy expressions, and so shoot their arrows over their hearers’ heads–instead of bettering their hearers’ hearts.¬†

Mirthful things in a sermon are only for men to gaze upon and admire. 

He is the best preacher, not who tickles the ear–but who breaks the heart!


“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power!” 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

A diligent pupil in the College of Contentment

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A diligent pupil in the College of Contentment 

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

These words show us that contentment is not a¬†natural propensity¬†of man. Grumbling, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man–as weeds are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and weeds; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth. Just so, we need not teach men to¬†complain; they complain fast enough without any education.¬†

“Ill weeds grow quickly.” But the precious¬†things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have¬†wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want¬†flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care.¬†

Now,¬†contentment¬†is one of the¬†flowers of Heaven, and if we would have it–then it must be cultivated, as it will not grow in us by nature. It is the new nature alone which can produce contentment–and even then we must be especially careful and watchful, that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us.¬†

Paul says, “I have learned… to be content;” as much as to say, that he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mastery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, “I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content,” he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave–a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome.

We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him–if we too might by any means attain unto his high degree of contentment. Do not indulge the notion that you can learn contentment without discipline. It is not an ability that may be exercised naturally–but a grace to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be–and continue¬†a diligent pupil in the College of Contentment.

The blessed man!

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The blessed man!

(James Smith, “Comfort for Christians!”)

Blessed¬†is the man You¬†chasten, O Lord–the man You¬†teach¬†from Your law!” Psalm 94:12¬†¬†¬†
    
The chastenings of the Lord¬†often appear severe–but they are¬†merciful. They . . .
  correct our follies,
  subdue our proud wills, and
  soften and humble our hard hearts before Him.

When God¬†chastens–He¬†teaches. The¬†lessons¬†are found in His Word–but we never learn many of them, until we go through the¬†furnace of affliction!¬†We often learn more truth from one short, sharp affliction–than we do from many books and sermons!

In affliction, God teaches us . . .
  our own emptiness and vanity,
  our dependence on Himself, and
  the insufficiency of all our earthly things! 

In affliction, God . . .
  endears the Lord Jesus and His great salvation to us;
  shows us the value of the provision of grace;
  makes our consciences tender and honest; 
  qualifies us for usefulness on earth; and
  fits us for the enjoyment of Himself in Heaven.

We¬†need¬†chastening. If we do not receive it–we become . . .
  carnal and worldly,
  light and trifling,
  unsavory and useless in both the world and the church! 

It is a blessed thing to be chastened of the Lord, especially when the rod teaches us such important and invaluable lessons! Chastened Christians are generally the most useful and attractive Christians. 

“Heed the¬†rod–and the One who appointed it!” Micah 6:9¬†
Chastened Christian! Seek grace . . .
  to bear the rod, 
  to bless the rod, and 
  to kiss the hand that holds the rod!

Blessed¬†is the man whom God¬†corrects–so do not despise¬†the chastening of the Almighty!” Job 5:17

People never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it

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People never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it

(J.C. Ryle, Thoughts For Young Men)

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed!” John 3:19-20¬†

Be very sure of this–people never reject the Bible because they cannot understand it.¬†

They understand it only too well! They understand that it condemns their own behavior. They understand that it witnesses against their own sins, and summons them to judgment! They try to believe it is false and useless–because they don’t like to believe it is true.

An evil lifestyle must always raise an objection to this holy book. 

Men question the¬†truth¬†of Christianity–because they hate the¬†practice¬†of it!

“For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12¬†

What a pavilion of comfort is this!

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What a pavilion of comfort is this!

(Octavius Winslow)

“As the Father has loved Me–so have I loved you!” John 15:9¬†

Believer, you have a home in the heart of Jesus!¬†What a pavilion of comfort is this–the love of Christ! To know that the affections of Jesus embrace and entwine around us, to be assured that He loves us each one as though we were the only one whom He loved–what a privilege and a bliss!

And yet so it is, Jesus loves you, cares for you, watches over and sympathizes with you–as if you were the only one whom He loved. “He loved¬†me–and gave Himself for¬†me!” Seek this individual consciousness of Christ’s love, and you will be supremely happy!

The Bible is always a new book to those well acquainted with it!

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The Bible is always a new book to those well acquainted with it!

(Arthur Pink, “The Divine Inspiration of the Bible“)

Although one may know, word for word, the entire contents of some chapter of Scripture; and although he may have taken the time to thoughtfully ponder every sentence therein–yet, on every subsequent occasion, provided one comes to it again in the spirit of humble inquiry, each fresh reading will reveal new¬†gems¬†never seen there before and new¬†delights¬†will be experienced never met with previously. The most familiar passages will yield as much refreshment at the thousandth perusal–as they did at the first!¬†

The Bible has been likened to a fountain of living water–the fountain is ever the same, but the water is always fresh!

O for a spirit of habitual prayer!

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O for a spirit of habitual prayer!

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

“But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress–and He hears my voice!” Psalm 55:16-17¬†

The well taught Christian carries everything to God–and in so doing, obtains relief, enjoys peace, and grows in grace.¬†
For all that we¬†need–we should call upon God.¬†
And from all that we¬†fear–we should flee unto God.¬†

At the close of every day, it is our mercy to call upon the Lord.
We must make confession of sin–and obtain pardon.¬†
We must carry to Him our burdens–and obtain relief.¬†
We must tell out before Him our needs–and obtain a supply.

Oh, how precious it is to go to the Lord at the close of each day, and tell Him all that has . . .
  vexed us,
  grieved us,
  cast us down, or
  disquieted our spirits! 

And how blessed to go to him each morning, and seek grace to live holily and happily through the day! 

Nor is it less blessed to have a few minutes with God at¬†noon–breaking, as it were, the day in two, and keeping short accounts with God.¬†

O for a spirit of habitual prayer
, that at evening, and at morning, and at noon–we may pray, and cry aloud to God!¬†

If we were more with the Lord in prayer, we would have . . .
  more strength to carry our crosses,
  more patience to bear our troubles,
¬† and more¬†comfort¬†amidst life’s sorrows.¬†

Holy Spirit, take up your residence in my heart as a Spirit of prayer, and lead me daily, hourly, yes, very often–to the mercy-seat. Let me find the hours of prayer to be precious seasons. And especially at eventide, when worn and exhausted with the toils and troubles of the day–let me find sweet solace and refreshment in pouring out my soul unto God.¬†

Precious Lord Jesus, draw our souls to You evening by evening, and lead us into the presence of Your Father, that we may have sweet and hallowed fellowship with God! Let our devotions ascend as sweet incense to God.


The line between the Church and the world seems completely effaced and forgotten!

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The line between the Church and the world seems completely effaced and forgotten!

(J.C. Ryle, 1884)

“For if the trumpet makes an¬†uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?” 1 Corinthians 14:8¬†

We need a more certain sound about personal holiness. I fear that the standard of holy living is lower just now than it has been for many years. Professing Christians seem unable to realize that there is anything inconsistent in ball-going, theater-going, gambling, card-playing, excessive dressing, novel-reading, and an incessant round of gaiety and amusements! 

The line between the Church and the world seems completely effaced and forgotten!

A crucified life of self-denial and close walking with God, a life of real devotedness and zeal for holy living–is hardly ever to be seen!¬†

Yet surely our Lord meant something when He spoke of “taking up the cross!”¬†

Surely Paul meant something when he said, 
¬† “Come out from among them and be separate!”¬†
¬† “Be not conformed to this world!”¬†
¬† “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord!”¬†

If Christ returns the second time in this generation, we shall find His words about the days of Noah and Lot fully verified. Those days are upon us!

“Just as it was in the days of¬†Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all!”
“It was the same in the days of¬†Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all!” Luke 17:26-29¬†

“Ask for the¬†old paths, where the good way is–and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

Whence does it come?

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Whence does it come?

(Francis Bourdillon, “Man is Born to Trouble!” 1864)

Affliction¬†does not come from the dust–nor does¬†trouble¬†sprout from the ground. For man is born unto trouble–as surely as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:6-7

Affliction does not come of itself; it does not spring up from the dust of the earth, nor grow naturally from the ground, as plants do; nor has¬†chance¬†anything whatever to do with it. As¬†common¬†as it is–affliction does not come without a cause, or without being sent on purpose by God.

Yet affliction does fall to the lot of all. No one, however prosperous, is without sorrow and trial. Sooner or later: “Man is born unto trouble–as surely as sparks fly upward.” As surely as sparks go up from anything burning, or from iron beaten on the anvil–so surely does trouble in some shape befall every man who is born into the world.

Whence does it come?¬†God sends it–or at least allows it to come. But it is not saying too much, to say that He¬†sends¬†it.

When Adam fell and¬†sin¬†and death entered into the world–then¬†trouble¬†came too. This was God’s appointment. He said to Adam, “Because you have listened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you–cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken–for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.”

And not only is trouble¬†in general¬†appointed to man by God–but¬†each man’s particular trouble¬†is of God’s appointment as well. Your troubles and mine do not come forth of the dust or spring out of the ground. They do not arise by¬†chance¬†or¬†accident. God sends them! Sickness and sorrow are ordained for us by Him–each sickness and each sorrow as it comes. We do not see the hand that sends them, but a hand there is–the hand of God!

Job’s troubles¬†were many and great–yet let him not despair. Everything was in God’s hand. All that happened was ordered by Him–all was subject to His control. “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:¬†“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,¬†and naked I will depart.¬†The Lord¬†gave–and the Lord has¬†taken away;¬†may the name of the¬†Lord¬†be praised.”¬†Job 1:20-21¬†

To all who truly know God–it is a most comforting thought that¬†their affliction comes from Him. It seems to take away the¬†strangeness¬†and the¬†bitterness¬†of it. When once they can realize His hand, then in all their sorrowful thoughts about their afflictions–they think about God too, and this comforts them. It is no longer mere trouble–but trouble which¬†God¬†has sent. If He has sent it–then it is¬†wisely¬†and¬†kindly¬†sent. Is there not a hidden blessing in it? Then the heart goes in search of the blessing and begins to ask¬†why¬†the trouble was sent, what it was meant to do, and how far it has done what it was sent for. And this is the very way to find the blessing.

Besides, when the sufferer thus sees the hand of God in trouble–he reasons that¬†God will never let the trouble be too great. If He sends it–He will not send it too sharply, nor too heavily. There is¬†no chance¬†about it.¬†All is measured and dealt out by an omnipotent hand of wisdom and love!¬†The affliction, therefore, cannot become too sore. When the right point has been reached, when the fit time has come–then He who sent it will say, “Hitherto shall you come, but no further!”

We need to be on our guard against Solomonian religion!

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We need to be on our guard against Solomonian religion!

(J.R. Miller)

“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his¬†heart¬†was not fully devoted to the Lord his God.” 1 Kings 11:4¬†

The trouble was all in Solomon’s heart! It is the heart which needs watching and keeping with all diligence. The heart must be wholly devoted in its aim and motive, to God and His service.

Solomon had a corner in his heart for the Lord–and then other corners for the gods of all the other nations. The Savior’s words are: “You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

We need to be on our guard against Solomonian religion!¬†There is plenty of it these days. It abhors the preaching of the stern truths of God’s Word about sin and punishment, and about holiness.¬†It sends well-near everybody to Heaven–and regards Hell as a mere fable!¬†It calls holy Christians “puritanic” or “strait-laced.” It calls great sins “escapades,” and finds no use for such psalms as the fifty-first.

It is not hard to see in this verse, however–which of the two kinds of religion pleases God best, and which leads to the best end.

What is most needed today!

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What is most needed today!

(Arthur Pink)

It is my deepening conviction that what is most needed today is a wide proclamation of those Scripture 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; and 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 dreadfulness of it,
   the hopelessness of it,
   the unendurableness of it,
   and the endlessness of it! 

Why are those blessed, who hear and obey the Word of God?

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Why are those blessed, who hear and obey the Word of God?

(Francis Bourdillon, “Short Sermons for Family Reading” 1881)

“Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28¬†

The Word must be obeyed–as well as heard. We must not hear it carelessly. Nor must we be hearers only, forgetting it as soon as heard. We are to guard it and keep it–to treasure it in our hearts as a precious possession. We are to believe it and to follow it–then the full blessing will be ours.

Why are those blessed, who hear and obey the Word of God?

1. Because the Word of God tells us of the¬†Savior, speaks pardon and peace, and opens to us God’s wondrous way of saving sinners. This can be said of no other book, and no other thing. The¬†works¬†of God in nature tell us much–but they do not tell us this. Many books of man are written on these subjects–but they are but man’s books after all.¬†

2. They are blessed also, because the Word of God is a¬†sure guide. It is a difficult path through the wilderness of this world. Many hindrances and perplexities meet us–and many different rules are offered for our guidance: fashion, custom, prudence, man’s opinion, etc. But the Word of God is the only¬†sure¬†guide. A simple, humble, earnest following of this guide–is the wisest, happiest, safest course! The poorest and most unlearned who through grace take this course–have more security for going right than the greatest and wisest who follow any other path. Therefore they are blessed who hear and keep the word of God–because they have a sure guide through life.

3. The word of God also¬†comforts¬†in trouble, and therefore they are blessed who hear it and keep it. This world has its sorrows as well as its difficulties–sorrows many and great; but the word of God has comfort for all of life’s sorrows. It is full of comfort. It has promises and declarations of God’s love. It contains examples of mourners whom He has comforted–and these in great number and variety. There is no kind of trouble for which some suitable comfort may not be found in the Bible. In time of deep sorrow–a comfort and consolation are found in the Word of God which are sought in vain in other books. It is the best of all books for those in trouble.

Universal nonsense!

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Universal nonsense!

“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the¬†sheep.” John 10:11

“You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save¬†His people¬†from their sins.” Matthew 1:21¬†

Where does the Word of God proclaim . . .
¬† an¬†atonement¬†that doesn’t atone,¬†
¬† a¬†redemption¬†that doesn’t redeem,¬†
¬† a¬†deliverance¬†that doesn’t deliver,¬†
¬† a¬†ransom¬†that doesn’t set free,¬†
¬† a¬†Savior¬†who doesn’t save?¬†

Nowhere!

Universal redemption is no redemption at all!

Universal redemption is universal nonsense!

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

“I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved¬†me¬†and gave Himself for¬†me!” Galatians 2:20

All life’s tangles!

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All life’s tangles!

(J.R. Miller)

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28¬†

Our affairs are forever getting tangled, like threads in a child’s hands–and we cannot straighten out the tangles ourselves! We cannot see how anything beautiful or good can come out of our poor living, or our feeble striving.

Our days are full of disappointments, and our night’s rest is broken by anxieties. Yet it is the Christian’s privilege to commit¬†all life’s tangles¬†into the hands of Jesus Christ. He can take our broken things–and build them up into beauty!

One of the finest windows in a great cathedral is said to have been made out of the¬†fragments of broken glass¬†which the workmen had thrown away as worthless. A skillful hand gathered them up–and wrought them into lovely form.

In the same way, Jesus Christ can take . . .
  our failures,
  our mistakes,
  our follies,
  our broken fragments of life,
¬† and even our sins–
and make them into beautiful life and character!

“Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

Go dogs, and eat the garbage!

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Go dogs, and eat the garbage! 

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

I believe that one reason why the church at this present moment has so little influence over the world, is because the world has so much influence over the church! Nowadays, we hear mere professors pleading that they may do this, and do that–that they may live like worldlings. My sad answer to them, when they crave this liberty is, “Do it if you dare. It may not cost you much hurt, for you are so bad already. Your worldly cravings show how rotten your hearts are! If you are hungering after such dog’s food–go dogs, and eat the garbage!

Worldly amusements are fit food for pretenders and hypocrites. 

If you were God’s children, you would loathe the thought of the world’s evil joys. Your question would not be, “How far may we be like the world?” but your cry would be, “How can we get away from the world? How can we come out of it?”

“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

Absalom’s Monument!

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Absalom’s Monument!

(J.R. Miller)

“They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him . . . During his lifetime, Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as¬†a monument to himself¬†. . . He named the pillar after himself, and it is called¬†Absalom’s Monument¬†to this day.” 2 Samuel 18

It has been said that every man lives for a funeral–that is, a man’s funeral often tells what kind of a man he has been. Absalom had already built a splendid monument, which he meant should mark his grave. Instead, however, of being laid away to rest in honor by a weeping nation, beneath the shadows of a noble monument–his mangled body was hurled in dishonor into a pit in the forest, and covered with a large heap of rocks.

It was still true, however, that¬†Absalom built his own monument. His own hand dug the¬†grave of shame¬†into which his body was cast.¬†Sin’s harvest is sure and terrible!¬†

Too many young men think that it is unmanly to be holy, true-hearted, and pure–and that a “fast life” is the manly one. We have, in the story of Absalom, an illustration of the career of one who lived such a life–and we must notice that the story is written out to its last chapter.

The trouble too often is, that men do not think of what the end will be.

A splendid sum in addition!

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A splendid sum in addition!

(J.R. Miller)

“ADD . . .
  to your faith, virtue; 
  to virtue, knowledge; 
  to knowledge, self-control; 
  to self-control, perseverance; 
  to perseverance, godliness; 
  to godliness, brotherly kindness; and 
  to brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 

Our verses presents us with a splendid sum in addition! These graces are to be added one to another.

Faith¬†comes first. But faith cannot stand-alone, so we add to our faith,¬†virtue–that is, conformity of one’s life and conduct to the highest moral and ethical principles.

Next we are to add¬†knowledge. Knowledge, of course, of the true kind–wisdom for life, spiritual knowledge, knowledge of God, and of God’s will as found in His Word.

Self-control¬†comes next–this is the key of all noble life. No matter how strong we are, or how much we know–if we have not self-control, then something is lacking. He who can rule himself is strong–while he who lacks self-mastery, no matter what other gifts he may have, is pitiably weak.

Self-control produces another element–perseverance, perseverance in all Christian duties.¬†

Another quality to be added to patience is¬†Godliness–Godlikeness, Christlikeness.

Then comes¬†brotherly kindness–affectionateness and forbearance to those among whom we mingle.

Last of all–love, the crowning gift and blessing!¬†

These elements of character make up Christian maturity.

This good, old couple!

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This good, old couple!

(J.R. Miller)

“They were both¬†righteous before God–walking in all the¬†commandments¬†and ordinances of the Lord.” Luke 1:6

It is a beautiful thing which we read of¬†this good, old couple, Zacharias and Elisabeth–that they were righteous¬†before God. Some people¬†appear to men¬†to be righteous–who before God have no such record.¬†

Real character is what our hearts are–our hearts make us. We ought not to be satisfied only doing well, the things which¬†men¬†can see. We ought to work and live ever for¬†God’s eye.¬†

Sometimes we say that it is does not matter how we do certain things, because nobody will see them. But we should remember thatGod¬†will see them–and surely we should never do careless, faulty work for His eye.

The word “commandments” suggests that the holiness of these people was of a very¬†practical¬†kind.¬†

Some people’s religion is chiefly¬†emotional. They¬†talk¬†about loving God–but they pay little heed to His commandments.¬†

God is pleased with ardent devotions, but He wants us to prove our religion by obedience–doing the things which He gives us to do.

A crucified Savior will never be content to have a self-pleasing, self-indulging, worldly-minded people!

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A crucified Savior will never be content to have a self-pleasing, self-indulging, worldly-minded people!

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

“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it–but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world–and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:23-25¬†

We learn here, the absolute necessity of daily self-denial. Every day we ought . . .
  to crucify the flesh,
  to overcome the world,
  and to resist the devil. 

We ought to keep our bodies under control, and bring them into subjection. We ought to be on our guard, like soldiers in an enemy’s country. We ought to fight a daily battle–and war a daily warfare. The command of our Master is clear and plain, “If any man will come after Me–let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

Now what do we know of all this? Surely this is a question which ought to be asked. A little formal church-going, and a decent attendance at a place of worship–can never be the Christianity of which Christ speaks in this place.¬†

Where is our self-denial? 

Where is our daily carrying of the cross? 

Where is our following of Christ? 

Without a religion of this kind–we shall never be saved.¬†

A crucified Savior will never be content to have a self-pleasing, self-indulging, worldly-minded people!

No self-denial–no real grace!¬†

No cross–no crown!¬†

Shall we refuse to give unto God’s children this valuable bread, merely because dogs snap at it!

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Shall we refuse to give unto God’s children this valuable bread, merely because dogs snap at it!

(Arthur Pink)

“Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in¬†election¬†might stand: not by works but by him who calls–she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Romans 9:10-13

We ask the reader–ought not the doctrine of¬†election¬†to be plainly and freely proclaimed?¬†

If God’s Word is full of it,¬†
if the gospel cannot be Scripturally preached without it, 
if the grace of God cannot be maintained when it is suppressed,
if the proclamation of it abases man into the dust, 
if it is a divinely appointed means of faith, 
if it is a powerful incentive unto the promotion of holiness, 
if it stirs up the spirit of praise in the soul, 
if it establishes the Christian in his eternal security, 
if it is such a source of stability to the child of God, 
if it supplies encouragement to praying souls,
if it works in us a sweet submission to the divine will–
then¬†shall we refuse to give unto God’s children this valuable bread, merely because dogs snap at it!
 
Shall we withhold from the¬†sheep¬†this vital ingredient of their food–simply because the¬†goats¬†cannot digest it!

They have often destroyed, by their daily lives–the whole work of their lips!

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They have often destroyed, by their daily lives–the whole work of their lips!

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

“He told them: Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.” Luke 9:3-4¬†

Let us observe that our Lord charges His apostles, when He sends them forth–to study¬†simplicity of habits, and¬†contentment¬†with such things as they have.¬†

These instructions contain a lesson for all time. The spirit of these verses is meant to be remembered by all¬†ministers¬†of the Gospel. The leading idea which the words convey–is a warning against¬†worldliness¬†and¬†luxurious habits.¬†

Well would it be for the world and the Church, if the warning had been more carefully heeded! From no quarter has Christianity received such damage–as it has from the hands of its own ministers! On no point have its ministers erred so much, and so often–as in the matter of personal¬†worldliness, and¬†luxury of life.¬†They have often destroyed, by their daily lives–the whole work of their lips!¬†They have given occasion to the enemies of religion to say that they love ease, and money, and earthly things–far more than souls.¬†

From such ministers, may we pray daily that the Church may be delivered! They are a living stumbling-block in the way to Heaven. They are helpers to the cause of the devil–and not of God. The preacher whose affections are set on money, and finery and feasting, and pleasure-seeking–has clearly mistaken his vocation. He has forgotten his Master’s instructions. He is not an apostolic man!

The characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit!

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The characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit!

(J.C. Ryle)

John¬†said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him:¬†You brood of vipers!¬†Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath! Produce¬†fruit¬†in keeping with repentance!” Luke 3:7-8

Well would it be for the Church of Christ, if it possessed more plain-speaking ministers like John the Baptist.
  A morbid dislike to strong language;
  an excessive fear of giving offence;
¬† a constant flinching from directness and plain speaking–
are, unhappily, too much the characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit!

Uncharitable¬†language is no doubt always to be deprecated. But there is no ‘charity’ in¬†flattering unconverted people–by abstaining from any mention of their vices, or in applying smooth names to their damnable sins!

There are¬†two texts which are too much forgotten by Christian preachers. In one it is written, “Woe unto you–when all men shall¬†speak well¬†of you!” (Luke 6:26)

In the other it is written, “Obviously, I’m not trying to be a¬†people pleaser!¬†No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people–I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10)

The sword of God’s truth!

Grace logoThe sword of God’s truth!
 
(Arthur Pink, “Faithfulness”)
 
“Their speech is filled with flattery.”¬†Psalm 5:9
 
This is the identifying mark of the “hireling,” the false pastor. He aims at pleasing his hearers, making them feel satisfied with themselves, ever patting them on the back.¬†
 
“But he who has My Word–let him speak My Word faithfully” (Jeremiah 23:28)–no matter how unpalatable it may be to the flesh, how much of a weariness to those who wish to have their ears tickled with novelties, or how loud the outcry against it is!¬†
 
Ministerial faithfulness includes . . .
  loyalty to his Master, 
  devotion to His interests, 
  steadfast adherence to the preaching of His Word,
  dispensing the truth unto those whose souls are committed to Him,
  not mixing it with his speculations, much less substituting false doctrine.

A far higher motive than the pleasing of his hearers must actuate and regulate ministerial service. 

Faithful preaching¬†will render the minister unpopular, and will¬†empty¬†churches–not¬†fill them!
 
“Then you will know the¬†truth–and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Souls are¬†caught fast in the meshes of Satan’s lies–and nothing but¬†the sword of God’s truth¬†can cut them free!¬†
 
“A faithful man–who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6).¬†Why is this?¬†Because it is the part of fallen human nature to take the line of least resistance, and choose the path easiest to the flesh. But remember, my reader, whoever you are, that, “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord–but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” (Proverbs 12:22)
 
“Be faithful unto death–and I will give you a crown of life!” (Revelation 2:10)

Wise counsel for Preachers

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Wise counsel for Preachers

The year was 1768. A twenty-eight year old preacher by the name of¬†Augustus Toplady, who wrote many of our best hymns, including “Rock of Ages”, spent the afternoon in London with Mr. Brewer–an older, veteran Gospel preacher, whom he greatly admired and from whom he learned much. This is what Mr. Brewer said to the young Toplady, as Toplady later recorded in his diary:¬†

“I cannot conclude without reminding you, my young brother, of some things that may be of use to you in the course of your ministry:

    1. Preach Christ crucified, and dwell chiefly on the blessings resulting from His righteousness, atonement, and intercession.

¬†¬†¬† 2.¬†Avoid all¬†needless controversies¬†in the pulpit–except it be when your subject necessarily requires it; or when the truths of God are likely to suffer by your silence.

¬†¬†¬† 3.¬†When you ascend the pulpit, leave your¬†learning¬†behind you. Endeavor to preach more to the¬†hearts¬†of your people–than to their¬†heads.

¬†¬†¬† 4.¬†Do not affect too much¬†oratory. Seek rather to¬†profit¬†your hearers–than to be¬†admired¬†by them.”

Christian ministers would do well to print out these four simple principles, tuck them in their Bibles, are refer to them every time they preach!

Tenderly and graciously does He deal with us!

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Tenderly and graciously does He deal with us!

(Francis Bourdillon, “A Psalm of Blessing!” 1864)

“For He knows how weak we are–He remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone–as though we had never been here! But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:14-17

The¬†shortness¬†and¬†uncertainty¬†of our lives–our weakness, frailty, and sinfulness–God knows them all.¬†Tenderly and graciously does He deal with us!¬†In His great mercy and compassion, He . . .
  bears with us;
  raises us when we fall;
  strengthens us when we are weak; and
  helps, guides, sustains and comforts us. 

He has . . .
  a perfect knowledge of our needs, 
  an unspeakable compassion for them,
  and full power to supply them all.

His mercy is everlasting. It will never wear out–and never come to an end.¬†

As for us, we are frail and short-lived. Let but a few years pass, and . . .
  the strongest will have fallen to the sythe of death,
  the longest-lived will have all passed away, and
  our own course here below will have come to a close. 
“Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone–as though we had never been here!”¬†

Not so is the mercy of the Lord, and the things which He has prepared for those who love Him. They are from everlasting to everlasting. His promises will never fail. Jesus is . . .
  an all-sufficient Savior,
  an unfailing Advocate,
  an everlasting portion!

Well may every believer join with the Psalmist in rejoicing and praising God,
¬†¬† “Praise the¬†LORD, O my soul–all my inmost being, praise His holy name!
¬† ¬†¬†Praise the¬†LORD, O my soul–and do not forget all His benefits!”¬†Psalm 103:1-2

A man who hears many sermons

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A man who hears many sermons

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Oh, how I love your law! I¬†meditate¬†on it all day long!” Psalm 119:97

It is well to¬†meditate¬†upon the things of God–because it is only by¬†pondering¬†the Scriptures, that we get the real nutriment out of them.¬†A man who hears many sermons–is not necessarily well-instructed in the faith. We may read so many religious books that we overload our brains, and they may be unable to work under the weight of the great mass of paper and of printer’s ink.

The man who reads but one book, and that book his Bible, and then meditates much upon it–will be a better scholar in Christ’s school than he who merely reads hundreds of books, and does not meditate at all!

Oh, that we might get into the very¬†heart¬†of the Word of God–and get that Word into ourselves!¬†

As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord–not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it until we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetic expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models–and, what is better still, your spirit is redolent with the words of the Lord!

“Your words were found, and I devoured them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart!” Jeremiah 15:16¬†

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth;¬†meditate¬†on it day and night, so that you may be careful to¬†do¬†everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful!” Joshua 1:8

The one who profits me most!

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The one who profits me most!

(Arthur Pink)

“Be an example to all believers . . .
  in what you teach,
  in the way you live,
¬† in your love, your¬†faith and your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

I will name some of the criteria by which I measure the helpfulness of a preacher or writer to my own soul. 

The one who profits me most, is the man . . .
  whose ministry brings the most awe of a holy and sovereign God into my heart,
  who reveals my sinfulness and failures to me,
  who conveys the most light on my path of duty,
  who makes Christ most precious to me,
  who encourages me to press forward along the narrow way.

“Watch your life and doctrine closely.” 1 Timothy 4:16

Nothing more quickly or truly indicates an irreverent and undevout mind!

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Nothing more quickly or truly indicates an irreverent and undevout mind!

(Octavius Winslow)

“Our Father in Heaven, may Your name be kept holy.” Matthew 6:9

Nothing more quickly or truly indicates an irreverent and undevout mind, than¬†levity on sacred subjects. The individual who can provoke a smile, or indulge in a cleverness, or shape a witticism–at the expense of what is divine and sacred–is blasphemous indeed! He who can treat in a light manner any religious subject, who can turn the Bible into a jest-book, and intersperse secular conversation with religious phraseology or Scripture language in sport–will the great God hold such an irreverent and profane mind guiltless?

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain–for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain!” Exodus 20:7


How loudly and persuasively does His conduct preach!

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How loudly and persuasively does His conduct preach!

(Edward Payson, 1783-1827)

“He who says he abides in Christ, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” 1 John 2:6

It was highly important and desirable that the Lord Jesus should not only¬†describe¬†Christianity in His discourses, but¬†exemplify¬†it in His life and conduct. In Him, we see pure and undefiled religion embodied. In Him, Christianity lives and breathes. How convincing, how animating is our Savior’s example!¬†How loudly and persuasively does His conduct preach!¬†

Would you learn submission to parental authority? See Him, notwithstanding His exalted character, cheerfully subjecting Himself to the will of His parents; and laboring with them, as a carpenter, for almost thirty years. 

Would you learn contentment with a poor and low condition? See Him destitute of a place where to lay His head. 

Would you learn active beneficence? See Him going about doing good. 

Would you learn to be fervent and constant in devotional exercises? See Him rising for prayer before the dawn of day. 

Would you learn in what manner to treat your brethren? See Him washing His disciples’ feet.¬†

Would you learn filial piety? See Him forgetting His sufferings, while in the agonies of death–to provide another son for His desolate mother.¬†

Would you learn in what manner to pray for relief under afflictions? See Him in the garden of Gethsemane. 

Would you learn how to bear insults and injuries? See Him on the cruel cross!

In short, there is no Christian grace or virtue, which is not beautifully exemplified in His life. 

There is scarcely any¬†situation, however perplexing, in which the Christian, who is at a loss to know how he ought to act–may not derive sufficient instruction from¬†the example of his divine Master.

“Leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

Fanning the inextinguishable fire, and sharpening the tooth of the immortal worm!

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Fanning the inextinguishable fire, and sharpening the tooth of the immortal worm! 

(Edward Payson, 1783-1827)

If you would learn the full extent of that wretchedness which sin produces--then you must follow it into the eternal world, and descend into those regions where peace and hope never come. There behold sin tyrannizing over its wretched victims with uncontrollable fury–fanning the inextinguishable fire, and sharpening the tooth of the immortal worm!

See angels and archangels, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers–stripped of all their original glory and beauty–bound in eternal chains, and burning with rage and malice against that Being in whose presence they once rejoiced, and whose praises they once sang!

See multitudes of the human race, in unutterable agonies of anguish and despair–cursing the Giver and Prolonger of their existence, and vainly wishing for annihilation to put an end to their miseries.¬†

Follow them through the long, long ages of eternity–and see them sinking deeper and deeper in the bottomless abyss of ruin! View them perpetually blaspheming God because of their plagues, and receiving the punishment of these blasphemies in continued additions to their wretchedness.¬†

Such are the wages of sin–such the doom of the finally impenitent!

From these depths of anguish and despair–look¬†up¬†to the mansions of the blessed, and see to what a height of glory and felicity, the grace of God will raise every sinner who repents. See those who are thus favored in unutterable ecstasies of joy, love, and praise–beholding God face to face, reflecting His perfect image, shining with a splendor like that of their glorious Redeemer, and¬†bathing in those rivers of pleasure¬†which flow forever at God’s right hand!¬†

Some professors of religion are like the catbird!

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Some professors of religion are like the catbird!

(Charles Naylor, “How to Fertilize Love” 1920)

There are very many things that may choke¬†out love in the home. One of these is the¬†lack of kindness. If you have grown less kind in your feelings, in your actions, and in your words–then love cannot thrive. Kindness is one of the best fertilizers for love.¬†

There are so many people who have two sets of¬†tones¬†in which to speak–and two sets of¬†manners¬†in which they act. They have their¬†company¬†manners–and their¬†family¬†manners. When they have company–then the voice is soft and pleasant, and the manners are agreeable and kindly. They treat their friends with the greatest consideration; but as soon as their friends are gone, the pleasant voice changes into crossness or harshness and fault-finding–and the pleasantness of manner disappears! In how many homes is this true!

The greater¬†consideration, the greater¬†kindness–is due the¬†home¬†folks. Otherwise, love cannot flourish. If you wish to have love for your home folks–then you must show them the¬†consideration¬†that is due them.

Some professors of religion are like the catbird!
¬†When it is away from its nest–then it is one of the sweetest of the northern warblers; but when it is close to its nest–then you will hear only a harsh, discordant note. It has no sweetness in its voice while at its nest.

In the same way, some people reserve all their kindness, tenderness, and sweetness–for those¬†outside¬†the family circle. Is it any wonder that love dies in such a home?¬†

“Love must be without hypocrisy.” Romans 12:9¬†

He will sustain you!

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He will sustain you!

(J.R. Miller)

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

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

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

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

Fly into the bosom of Christ for refuge and safety!

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Fly into the bosom of Christ for refuge and safety!

(J.R. Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems” 1914)

“Whoever¬†humbles¬†himself like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:4¬†

It is very sweet just to¬†nestle down in the bosom of Christ–to be¬†as a little child¬†with Him. Those who come otherwise do not get near to Him–but the¬†child-like¬†always find a close place in His heart. So the more like children we can be in our trust and in the simplicity of our faith, in humbleness of disposition, in willingness to do His will and to learn of Him–the nearer to Him shall we get, and the more shall we enjoy of His love.¬†

Some years ago, as I was passing along one of our streets one afternoon, I heard a fluttering of birds over my head and, looking up, saw a little bird flying wildly about in circles, chased by a hawk! The bird flew down lower and lower, and then darted into my bosom, under my coat. I cannot quite express to you, the feeling which filled my heart at that moment–that a little bird, chased by an enemy, had come to me for¬†refuge, trusting me in time of¬†danger. I laid my hand over the bird, which nestled as quietly and confidently under my coat, as a baby would in a mother’s bosom. I carried the little thing along for several blocks until I thought the way was clear of danger, and then let it out. It flew away into the air again, but showed no fear of me. Ever since that experience, I have understood better what it is to¬†fly into the bosom of Christ for refuge and safety¬†in time of danger, or in time of distress.¬†

All this helps me to understand better¬†what it means to Jesus¬†when we, hunted and chased by enemies, or suffering from weakness or pain–fly to Him and hide ourselves in His love.

That is all we need to do–just to creep into the bosom of Christ, and lie down there, with no fear, no anxiety, but with simple trust.

The lines of Wesley’s old hymn have meant more to me ever since:

“Jesus, lover of my soul,
 Let me to Thy bosom fly,
 While the nearer waters roll,
 While the tempest still is high.

 Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
 Till the storm of life is past;
 Safe into the haven guide;
 Oh, receive my soul at last.

 Other refuge have I none,
 Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
 Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
 Still support and comfort me.

 All my trust on Thee is stayed,
 All my help from Thee I bring;
 Cover my defenseless head
¬†With the shadow of Thy wing.”

You have a heart fit to do the deed!

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You have a heart fit to do the deed!

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

“But they kept shouting:¬†Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”¬†Luke 23:21¬†

Let us often pray that we may thoroughly understand the sinfulness of man’s heart.¬†

Christ is never fully valued–until sin is clearly seen.¬†

We must know the depth and malignity of our disease–in order to appreciate the great Physician.

Few of us, it may be feared, have the least conception of the strength and virulence of the spiritual disease with which we are born! Few entirely realize that “the carnal mind is enmity against God,” and that unconverted human nature, if it had the power–would cast its Maker down from His throne and crucify Him!¬†

The behavior of the Jews before us–is only a picture of what every natural man would do to God, if he only could!¬†

If the bosom of God were within the reach of men, it would be stabbed a million of times in one moment! If the bosom of God were now within your reach, and one blow would rid the universe of God–you have a heart fit to do the deed!”¬†Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Remember that you are the son of a king!

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Remember that you are the son of a king!

(William S. Plumer, “Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness”)

When a prince was about to travel, he asked his tutor for some maxims by which to govern his behavior. 
He received this answer: “Remember that you are the son of a king!”¬†

Let all Christians remember that they are the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty–and “if sons, then heirs, heirs of God, and¬†joint heirs with Jesus Christ!

“You are . . .¬†
  a chosen people,
  a royal priesthood,
  a holy nation,
¬† God’s special possession
–chosen that you may proclaim the excellence of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light!” 1 Peter 2:9¬†

Jesus Christ is completely sufficient!

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Jesus Christ is completely sufficient!

“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and¬†you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power!” Colossians 2:9-10¬†

One of the great tenets of Scripture, is the claim that Jesus Christ is completely sufficient for all matters of life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4)! 

He is sufficient for:
  creation (Colossians 1:16-17)
  salvation (Hebrews 10:10-12)
  sanctification (Ephesians 5:26-27)
  and glorification (Romans 8:30). 

So pure is He, that there is no blemish, stain, spot of sin, defilement, deception, corruption, error, or imperfection in Him! (1 Peter 1:18-20)

So complete is He, that . . .
  there is no other God besides Him (Isaiah 45:5)
  He is the only begotten Son (John 1:14, John 1:18)
  all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him (Colossians 2:3)
  the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Him (Colossians 2:9)
  He is heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2)
¬† He created all things–and all things were made¬†
      by Him, through Him, and for Him (Colossians 1:16)
  He upholds all things by the word of His power (Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3)
  He is the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15)
  He is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3).

He has no beginning and no end (Revelation 1:17-18) 
He is the spotless Lamb of God (John 1:29)
He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14) 
He is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1) 
He is our life (Colossians 3:4) 
He is the living and true Way (John 14:6) 
He is the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16) 
He is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11) 
He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2) 
He is Captain of our Salvation (Hebrews 2:10)  
He is the Elect One (Isaiah 42:1) 
He is the Apostle and High-Priest of our confession (Hebrews 3:1) 
He is the Righteous Servant (Isaiah 53:11).
He is the Lord Almighty (Malachi 3:17)
He is the Redeemer (Isaiah 41:14)
He is the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 54:5)
He is the God of the whole earth (Isaiah 54:5) 
He is the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) 
He is the Light of the world (John 9:5)
He is the Son of Man (Matthew 20:28) 
He is the true Vine (John 15:5)
He is the Bread of Life (John 6:48)
He is the Door to Heaven (John 10:7)
He is the Sovereign Lord (Philippians 2:10-13) 
He is Prophet, Priest and King (Hebrews 1:1-3) 
He is our Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:9) 
He is our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6) 
He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, 
   the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) 
He is the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4) 
He is the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5)
He is the Rock of Salvation (Psalm 62:2)
He is the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13)
He is the Counselor and Comforter (John 14:26)
He is the Messiah (John 4:25-26) and 
He is the great I AM (John 8:58)!

Where is Christ in your theological system?

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Where is Christ in your theological system? 

(Charles Spurgeon)

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning¬†Himself.” Luke 24:27¬†

“These are the Scriptures that testify about¬†Me!” John 5:39¬†

Take this Book and distill it into one word–and that one word will be JESUS! The Bible itself, is but the body of Christ, and we may look upon all its pages as the swaddling bands of the infant Savior–for if we unroll the Scripture, we come upon Jesus Christ Himself.

Where is Christ in your theological system? 
He Himself is . . .
  the Doctor and Doctrine, 
  the Revealer and Revelation, 
  the Illuminator and the Light of men. 

He is exalted in every word of truth, because He is its sum and substance. 

He sits above the gospel, like a prince on His own throne. 

Doctrine is most precious, when we see it distilling from His lips and embodied in His person. 

Sermons are only valuable, in proportion as they speak of Him and point to Him!

Look at it–there is blood still upon the handle!

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Look at it–there is blood still upon the handle!¬†

(Charles Spurgeon)

A sight of Christ on the cross will cause us to hate our sins. 

If you ever, by the¬†eye of faith, see Jesus Christ dying for you–sin will never be sweet to you again.¬†

What was it that slew our blessed Lord? It was our sin!

When we discover that our iniquities put our dearest and best Friend to death, we vow revenge against our iniquities, and henceforth hate them with a perfect hatred. 

Let me illustrate this very simply: 
Here is a¬†knife¬†with a richly carved ivory handle–a knife of excellent workmanship. Yonder woman, we will suppose, has had a dear child murdered by a cruel enemy. This knife is hers, she is pleased with it, and prizes it much. How can I make her throw that knife away? I can do it easily, for that is the knife with which her child was murdered!¬†Look at it–there is blood still upon the handle!She drops it as though it were a scorpion–she cannot bear it. “Put it away,” says she, “it killed my child! Oh, hateful thing!”¬†

Now,¬†sin¬†is such a hateful thing. We play with it until we are told that it was sin which killed the Lord Jesus, who died out of love to us–pure, self-sacrificing love. Then we say, “Hateful thing–be gone! How can I endure you!”¬†

See there the wounds of the Son of God; 
behold the crimson stains on His blessed body;
mark the thorn-crown; 
gaze upon those pierced hands; 
weep over the nailed feet; 
see the deep gash which the lance made in His side! 

Sin did this cruel work–this bloody deed!¬†

Down with our sins!
Drag them to the cross!
Slay them at Calvary!
Let not one of them escape, for they are the murderers of Christ!

“It was you, my sins, my cruel sins,
  His chief tormentors were;
  Each of my crimes became a nail,
¬† And unbelief the spear!”¬†

Every feature of this hideous monster!

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Every feature of this hideous monster!

(Thomas Charles, “Sanctification” 1838)

Meditation on the sufferings and death of Jesus, produces a hatred towards sin. 

It was sin which made it necessary for the Lord of glory to come down from Heaven and take on Him the form of a servant. Sin was the cause of His deep humiliation, abasement and sufferings.¬†Viewing sin through the cross–the believer abhors it, and regards it with perfect hatred. He therefore diligently strives against it, and strenuously resists Satan, from whose iron chains he could never have been delivered, had it not been for the death of the Son of God.¬†

Sin will never appear in its own deformity and horrid nature–until we see it in its effects in the Son of God–until we “behold the Lamb of God” bearing our sin on the cruel tree. Christ crucified, like a magnifying glass–exhibits to view¬†every feature of this hideous monster!

‘Anything rather than sin!’¬†is the language of the Christian’s heart!¬†

“A bleeding Savior I have viewed–and now I hate my sin!”
 John Newton

“Look to the cross, and hate your sin–for sin nailed your Well-Beloved to the accursed tree!”¬†Charles Spurgeon

Yet it is a profitable loss!

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Yet it is a profitable loss!

(Thomas Charles, “The Benefits of Affliction” 1838)

“God disciplines us for our profit, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:10-11¬†

Inasmuch as God has assured us that He causes all things to work together for our good–patience and resignation to the divine will in all things, is our duty. In His good time He may allow us to see such wisdom and goodness in all of our circumstances, as to fill our hearts with transports of joy. To follow Him is our part–without murmuring or complaining.

Nothing befalls us without a cause–no trouble comes upon us sooner, or presses more heavily, or continues longer–than what God knows that our case requires. What our short-sighted ignorance calls¬†adversities¬†or¬†evils–are in reality and truth, well-designed and gracious¬†blessings, and form a part of the means employed by God’s goodness and grace, to prepare us for the exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Away then with all impatience and all murmurings!

All our desire in this world, should be to live¬†holily¬†and live¬†usefully–and affliction, by the blessing of God, has great influence in promoting both. Sanctified affliction greatly promotes holiness, and is also a great preparative for usefulness. It is working out at the same time a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory in the eternal world. God always chastens us, for our profit. Though we may thereby lose earthly comforts, ease and enjoyments–yet it is a profitable loss. What we lose in these things–we gain in holiness. It is for our profit, to become partakers of His holiness.¬†

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!” Romans 8:28

How kind and merciful Christ is to dull and slow believers

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How kind and merciful Christ is to dull and slow believers

(J.C. Ryle)

“Then He said to Thomas:¬†Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”¬†John 20:27¬†

We should mark in this verse,¬†how kind and merciful Christ is to dull and slow believers.¬†Nowhere, perhaps, in all the four Gospels, do we find this part of our Lord’s character so beautifully illustrated as in the story before our eyes.

It is hard to imagine anything more tiresome and provoking than the conduct of¬†Thomas, when even the testimony of ten faithful brethren had no effect on him, and he doggedly declared, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side–I will not believe!”¬†John 20:25

But it is impossible to imagine anything more patient and compassionate, than our Lord’s treatment of this weak disciple. He does not reject him, or dismiss him, or excommunicate him. He comes again at the end of a week, and apparently for the special benefit of¬†Thomas. He deals with him according to his weakness, like a gentle nurse dealing with a froward child, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side.” If nothing but the plainest, coarsest, most material evidence could satisfy him–even that evidence was supplied. Surely this was a¬†love¬†that surpasses knowledge, and a¬†patience¬†that passes understanding.

A passage of Scripture like this, we need not doubt, was written for the special comfort of all true believers. The Holy Spirit knew well that the¬†dull, and the¬†slow, and the¬†stupid, and the¬†doubting–are by far the commonest type of disciples in this evil world. The Holy Spirit has taken care to supply abundant evidence that Jesus is rich in patience as well as compassion, and that He bears with the infirmities of all His people.¬†

Let us take care that we drink into our Lord’s spirit, and copy His example. Let us never set down men as godless, because their faith is feeble and their love is cold. Let us remember the case of¬†Thomas–and be very compassionate and of tender mercy.¬†

Our Lord has . . .
  many weak children in His family,
  many dull pupils in His school,
  many raw soldiers in His army,
  many lame sheep in His flock.
Yet He bears with them all, and casts none away. 

Happy is that Christian who has learned to deal likewise with his brethren. There are many in the Church, who, like Thomas, are dull and slow–but for all that, like Thomas, are real and true believers.

God washes and scours, trains and nurtures them!

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God washes and scours, trains and nurtures them!

(The Preacher’s Book)

Frankincense, when it is put into the¬†fire–gives off the greater perfume.¬†

Spice, if it is¬†pounded¬†and¬†beaten–smells the sweeter.¬†

The earth, when it is torn up with the¬†plough–becomes more fruitful.¬†

The seed in the ground, after¬†frost¬†and¬†snow¬†and¬†winter storms–grows the thicker.

The nearer the vine is¬†pruned¬†to the stock–the larger grapes it yields.

The grape, when it is most¬†pressed¬†and¬†beaten–makes the sweetest wine.

Linen, when it is¬†washed¬†and¬†wrung¬†and¬†beaten–is so made fairer and whiter.¬†

In the same way, the children of God receive great benefit by affliction–for by it¬†God washes and scours, trains and nurtures them.

“Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit!”¬†John 15:2¬†

Self-sins!

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Self-sins!

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be¬†lovers of themselves” 2 Timothy 3:1-2¬†

(A.W. Tozer)

We all have a number of self-sins:
  self-righteousness,
  self-pity,
  self-confidence,
  self-sufficiency,
  self-admiration,
  self-worth,
  self-love and 
  a host of others like them!
These self-sins are not something we¬†do, they are something we¬†are–and therein lies both their subtlety and their power. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures, to come to our attention–until the light of God is focused upon them.¬†

The grosser manifestations of these sins–egotism, pride, arrogance, self-elevation, self-promotion–are strangely tolerated in¬†Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy! They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel. I trust that it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a¬†requisite for popularity¬†in some sections of the¬† visible Church.¬†

Promoting¬†self¬†under the guise of promoting¬†Christ–is currently so common as to excite little notice!¬†

“They do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely” Philippians 1:17¬†

Home, sweet home! There is no place like home!

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Home, sweet home! There is no place like home!

(James Smith, “Rills from the Rock of Ages”, 1860)

“These all died in faith . . . they confessed that they were¬†strangers¬†and¬†pilgrims¬†on the earth” Hebrews 11:13

The day of life with them is ended. Its duties are ended. Its responsibilities are past. Its hours are fled away.

What a trying day some of them had! How stormy. How sultry. How often overcast. How gloomy. But it is now past–and past forever!¬†The toils of the wilderness are over!¬†They had much to afflict and pain them . . .¬†
  a difficult and dangerous journey,
  a long wearisome march,
  many a heavy cross to carry,
  many a stubborn foe to face,
  many a painful doubt,
  numerous gloomy fears.

But now the¬†wilderness¬†is all behind them! The¬†afflictions¬†of the pilgrimage¬†are terminated. Those sufferings were sharp, and some of them continued long. Many of them were endured in secret, without sympathy and without relief. They were¬†soul¬†sorrows, agony of¬†mind–as well as sharp pains of¬†body. But however multiplied, however severe, however protracted those sorrows–they are past and gone, never, never to return!

The sweetest repose is now enjoyed. The poor¬†tabernacle¬†has been taken down, and is laid in a quiet resting-place until the resurrection morning. The¬†soul¬†is gone to be with Jesus. It has traveled through the rough path of life–and is now in God’s presence, where there is fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore!

As Christians, we are going to the same place. The¬†graves¬†will soon be ready for our bodies–and the¬†mansions of glory¬†for our souls.¬†We are going home!¬†Home to our Father’s house! Home where our¬†hearts¬†have long been. Home where all our¬†prayers¬†will be answered, and all our best¬†desires¬†will be gratified. “Home, sweet home! There is no place like home!”¬†Especially our home!¬†Aparadise¬†without a tempting serpent! A paradise where all are holy, all are safe, all are happy. Those pure and perpetual joys, which are at God’s right hand, await us! We¬†taste¬†them now and are delighted with a¬†sip–but there we shall soon drink¬†full draughts¬†of eternal glory, eternal joy, and eternal blessedness!

Amidst present toils and trials, dangers and distresses–when wearied, way-worn, and tempted to fret–remember that you will soon be HOME! Think, think, O my soul, of an eternity of enjoyment–when the sufferings of time are ended!¬†

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away!” Revelation 21:3-4¬†

(Please forward this uplifting post to all of your Christian friends who are going through times of affliction.)

What are you doing with your time?

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What are you doing with your time?

(J.R. Miller)

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

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

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

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

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

Are you using your time for God?

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

Jeremy Taylor: “God has given to man a short time here upon earth, and yet upon this short time eternity depends!”

Ryle: “No time is so well spent in every day–as that which we spend upon our knees.”

Spurgeon: “Time is short. Eternity is long. It is only reasonable that this short life be lived in the light of eternity!”

“So teach¬†us¬†to number our days–that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12¬†

Better to rot in prison!

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Better to rot in prison!

(J.R. Miller, “Practical Lessons from the Story of¬†Joseph“)

“How can I do this great wickedness–and sin against God!” Genesis 39:9

“After hearing his wife’s story, Potiphar was furious! He took Joseph and threw him into the prison!” Genesis 39:19-20

Sometimes it costs very dearly to be true to God. Joseph lay now in a dungeon. But his¬†loss¬†through doing right, was nothing in comparison with what he would have lost–had he done the wickedness to which he was tempted. His prison gloom, deep as it was–was as noonday, compared with what would have been the¬†darkness of his soul¬†under the blight of evil, and the bitterness of remorse. The¬†chains¬†that hung upon him in his dungeon, were but like¬†feathers–in comparison with the¬†heavy chains¬†which would have bound his¬†soul, had he yielded to the temptation. Though in a prison, his feet hurt by the fetters–he was a free man because his¬†conscience¬†was free and his¬†heart¬†was pure!¬†

No fear of consequences should ever drive us to do a wrong thing. 

It is better to suffer any loss, any cost, any sacrifice–than be eaten up by remorse!¬†

Better be hurled down from a high place for doing right–than win worldly honor by doing wrong.¬†

Better lose our right hand–than lose our purity of soul.¬†

Better to rot in prison–than to sin against God!

It was the prayer of a young queen, which she wrote with a diamond point on her castle window,¬†“Keep me¬†pure–make others¬†great.”¬†That is the lesson of Joseph’s victory over temptation: dishonor, loss, dungeon, death–anything before sin!

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