Tag Archives: GraceGems

May we see our sins

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May we see our sins

(
Henry Law, “Family Prayers”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

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

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

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

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

The diamonds of Heaven!

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The diamonds of Heaven!

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

“Behold, he is praying!” Acts 9:11¬†

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Charles Spurgeon) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(John Flavel)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Complaint!

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The Complaint!

(James Smith, 1864)

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

And why are you cast down? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Father’s home!

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My Father’s home!

(James Smith, “The Better Land”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You must be born again!

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You must be born again!

(Don Fortner)

“You must be born again!” John 3:7

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

  Redemption is the work of God FOR sinners. 

  Regeneration is the work of God IN sinners. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

What! The Whole Of It Meaningless?

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What! The whole of it meaningless?

(Charles Spurgeon) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking in the truth

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Walking in the truth

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our proper enjoyment of every earthly blessing

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Our proper enjoyment of every earthly blessing 

(Hannah More,¬† “The Love of God”)¬†

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the best remedy against the fear of man?

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What is the best remedy against the fear of man?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And thus the churches were filled with unregenerate members!

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And thus the churches were filled with unregenerate members!

(Arthur Pink, 1886-1952)

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

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

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

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

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing in this world is more beautiful

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Nothing in this world is more beautiful

(J.R. Miller)

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

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

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

You are greatly loved!

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You are greatly loved!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In love He blessed us with all spiritual blessings!

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In love He blessed us with all spiritual blessings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Howard Hendricks)

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

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

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

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

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


The panacea for all the ills of life!

Grace logoThe panacea for all the ills of life!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Busy yourselves about toys and trifles!


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Busy yourselves about toys and trifles!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is not a loss to die!

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It is not a loss to die!

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

The sin before us is a very old one!

Grace logoThe sin before us is a very old one!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christian, think about this!

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Christian, think about this! 

(Richard Baxter)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Charles Spurgeon)

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

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

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

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

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

Some benefits of sickness and affliction

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Some benefits of sickness and affliction

(J.C. Ryle)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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IV. Let me show, lastly–why¬†love is called the “greatest” of the graces.

The words of Paul, on this subject, are distinct and unmistakable. He winds up his wonderful chapter on love in the following manner: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the¬†greatest¬†of these is love!” 1 Corinthians 13:13¬†

This expression is very remarkable. Of all the writers in the New Testament, none, certainly, exalts “faith” so highly as Paul. The Epistles to the Romans and Galatians abound in sentences showing its vast importance. By faith, the sinner lays hold on Christ and is saved. Through faith, we are justified, and have peace with God. Yet here the same Paul speaks of something which is even¬†greater than faith!¬†He puts before us the three leading Christian graces, and pronounces the following judgment on them, “The greatest is love!” Such a¬†sentence¬†from such a¬†writer¬†demands special attention. What are we to understand, when we hear of love being greater than faith and hope?

We are not to suppose, for a moment, that love can¬†atone¬†for our sins, or make our¬†peace¬†with God. Nothing can do that for us, but the blood of Christ; and nothing can give us a saving interest in Christ’s blood, but faith. It is Scriptural ignorance not to know this. The office of justifying and joining the soul to Christ, belongs to¬†faith alone. Our love, and all our other graces, are all more or less imperfect, and could not stand the severity of God’s judgment. When we have done all–we are “unprofitable servants.” (Luke 17:10.)

We are not to suppose that Christian love can exist independently of faith. Paul did not intend to set up one grace in¬†rivalry¬†to the other. He did not mean that one man might have faith, another hope, and another love–and that the best of these, was the man who had love.¬†The three graces are inseparably joined together.¬†Where there is faith, there will always be love; and where there is love, there will be faith. Sun and light, fire and heat, ice and cold, are not more intimately united than faith and love!

The reasons why love is called the greatest of the three graces, appear to me plain and simple. Let me show what they are.

(a)¬†Love is called the greatest of graces, because it is the one in which there is some¬†likeness between the believer and his God. God has no need of faith. He is dependent on no one. There is none superior to Him in whom He must trust. God has no need of hope. To Him all things are certain, whether past, present, or to come. But “God is love” and the more love His people have–the more similar they are to their Father in Heaven.

(b)¬†Love, for another thing, is called the greatest of the graces, because it is most¬†useful to others. Faith and hope, beyond doubt, however precious, have special reference to a believer’s own private individual benefit.¬†Faith¬†unites the soul to Christ, brings peace with God, and opens the way to Heaven.¬†Hope¬†fills the soul with cheerful expectation of things to come, and, amid the many discouragements of things seen, comforts with visions of the things unseen.¬†

But¬†love¬†is pre-eminently the grace which makes a man useful. It is the¬†spring¬†of good works and kindnesses. It is the¬†root¬†of missions, schools, and hospitals. Love made apostles spend and be spent for souls. Love raises up workers for Christ, and keeps them working. Love smooths quarrels, and stops strife–and in this sense, “covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8.) Love adorns Christianity, and recommends it to the world. A man may have real faith, and feel it–and yet his faith may be invisible to others. But a man’s love cannot be hidden.

(c)¬†Love, in the last place, is the greatest of the graces, because it is the one which¬†endures the longest. In fact, it will never die.¬†Faith¬†will one day be swallowed up in sight–and¬†hope¬†in certainty. Their office will be useless in the morning of the resurrection; and, like old almanacs, they will be laid aside. But love will live on through the endless ages of eternity! Heaven will be the abode of love. The inhabitants of Heaven will be full of love. One¬†common feeling¬†will be in all their hearts, and that will be¬†love.

I leave this part of my subject here, and pass on to a¬†CONCLUSION. On each of the three points of comparison I have just named, between love and the other graces, it would be easy to enlarge. But time and space both forbid me to do so. If I have said enough to guard men against mistakes about the¬†right meaning, of the¬†greatness¬†of love–I am content. Love, be it ever remembered, cannot justify and put away our sins. It is neither Christ, nor faith.¬†
But love makes us somewhat like God. 
Love is of mighty use to the world. 
Love will live and flourish when faith’s work is done.¬†
Surely, in these points of view–love well deserves the crown!

(1) And now let me ask every one into whose hands this paper may come a simple question. Let me press home on your conscience the whole subject of this paper. Do you know anything of the grace of which I have been speaking? Do you have Christian love?

The strong language of the Apostle Paul must surely convince you that the inquiry is not one that ought to be lightly put aside. The grace, without which that holy man could say, “I am nothing,” the grace which the Lord Jesus says expressly is the great mark of being His disciple–such a grace as this, demands the serious consideration of every one who is in earnest about the salvation of his soul. It should set him thinking, “How does this affect me? Do I have Christian love?”

You have some¬†knowledge, it may be, of religion. You know the difference between true and false doctrine. You can, perhaps, even quote texts, and defend the opinions you hold. But, remember the knowledge which is barren of practical results in life and temper–is a useless possession! The words of the Apostle are very plain: “If I can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge–but have not love, I am nothing!” (1 Corinthians 13:3.)

You think you have¬†faith, perhaps. You trust you are one of God’s elect, and rest in that. But surely you should remember that there is a faith of¬†devils, which is utterly unprofitable–and that the faith of God’s elect is a “faith which works by love.” It was when Paul remembered the “love” of the Thessalonians, as well as their faith and hope, that he said, “I know your election of God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:4.)

Look at your own¬†daily life, both at home and abroad, and consider what place Christian love has in it. What is your temper? What are your ways of¬†behaving¬†toward all around you in your own family? What is your manner of¬†speaking, especially in seasons of vexation and provocation? Where is your good-nature, your courtesy, your patience, your meekness, your gentleness, your forbearance? Where are your¬†practical actions of love¬†in your dealing with others? What do you know of the mind of Him who “went about doing good”–who loved all, though specially His disciples–who returned good for evil, and kindness for hatred, and had a heart wide enough to feel for all?

What would you do in Heaven, I wonder, if you got there without love? What comfort could you have in an abode where love was the law, and selfishness and ill-nature completely shut out? Alas! I fear that Heaven would be no place for an uncharitable and ill-tempered man! A little boy said, “If¬†grandfather¬†goes to Heaven–I hope my brother and I will not go there.” “Why do you say that?” he was asked. He replied, “If he sees us there, I am sure he will say, as he does now–‘What are these boys doing here? Get them get out of the way!’ He does not like to see us on earth, and I suppose he would not like to see us in Heaven!”

Give yourself no rest, until you know something by experience of real Christian love. Go and learn of Him who is meek and lowly of heart, and ask Him to teach you how to love. Ask the Lord Jesus to put His Spirit within you, to take away the old heart, to give you a new nature, to make you know something of His mind. Cry to Him night and day for grace, and give Him no rest until you feel something of what I have been describing in this paper. Happy indeed will your life be, when you really understand “walking in love.”

(2) But I do not forget that I am writing to some who are not ignorant of the love of Scripture, and who long to feel more of it every year. I will give you two simple words of exhortation. They are these:

Practice love diligently.¬†It is one of those graces, above all, which¬†grow¬†by constant¬†exercise. Strive more and more to carry it into every little detail of daily life. Watch over your own tongue and temper throughout every hour of the day, and especially in your dealings with children and spouse. Remember the character of the excellent woman: “In her tongue is the¬†law of kindness.” (Proverbs 31:26.)¬†

Remember the words of Paul: “Let ALL your things be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14.) Love should be seen in¬†little¬†things, as well as in great ones.¬†

Remember, not least, the words of Peter: “Have fervent love among yourselves;” not a love which just keeps alight, but a burning shining fire, which all around can see! (1 Peter 4:8.) It may cost pains and trouble to keep these things in mind. There may be little encouragement from the example of others. But persevere. Love like this brings its own reward!

Finally,¬†teach love to others. Press it continually on your¬†children. Tell them the great duty of kindness, helpfulness, and considerateness, one for another. Remind them constantly that kindness, good nature, and good temper, are among the first¬†evidences¬†which Christ requires in children. If they cannot know much, or explain doctrines–they can understand love. A child’s religion is worth very little if it only consists in repeating texts and hymns. As useful as they are, they are often . . .
learned without thought, 
remembered without feeling, 
repeated without consideration of their meaning, 
and forgotten when childhood is gone!

By all means let children be taught texts and hymns; but let not such teaching be made¬†everything¬†in their religion. Teach them to keep their tempers, to be kind one to another, to be unselfish, good-natured, obliging, patient, gentle, forgiving. Tell them never to forget to their dying day, if they live as long as Methuselah, that¬†without love, the Holy Spirit says, “we are nothing.” Tell them “above all things–to put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.” (Colos. 3:14.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From such love–may I ever be delivered!

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

At this rate, there is no use in missions!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That dead man or dead woman

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That dead man or dead woman

(Thomas Brooks, “A Believer’s Last Day, His Best Day”)

“What the wicked dreads will overtake him;
¬†what the righteous desire will be granted.” Proverbs 10:24¬†

“The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
¬†but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.” Proverbs 11:23¬†

We should lament over that dead man or dead woman . . .
  whom Hell harbors,
  whom the devil devours,
  whom divine justice torments!

But let us rejoice over those departed believers whom Christ embosoms, and whom all the court of Heaven comes forth to welcome!

“Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my end be like theirs!” Numbers 23:10¬†

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints!” Psalm 116:15

Pride cannot live beneath the cross!

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Pride cannot live beneath the cross!

(Charles Spurgeon) 

“He humbled Himself.” Philippians 2:8¬†

Jesus is the great teacher of lowliness of heart. We need daily to learn of Him. 

See the Master taking a basin and towel to wash His disciples feet! 
Follower of Christ, will you not humble yourself?
See Him as¬†the Servant of servants–and surely you cannot be proud!¬†

Surely this sentence is the¬†compendium of His biography: “He humbled Himself!”¬†

While on earth, He was always stripping off first one robe of honor and then another–until He was fastened to the bloody tree. And there He emptied out His inmost self, pouring out His life-blood, giving up¬†His all¬†for us–until they laid Him penniless in a borrowed grave!

How low was our dear Redeemer brought! How then can we be proud? 

Stand at the foot of the cruel cross, and count the¬†purple drops¬†by which you have been cleansed of your infinite sins! See the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills. See His hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn. See the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in His outward frame. Hear the horrid shriek:¬†“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me!”¬†

If you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross–you have never seen it!¬†
If you are not humbled in the presence of the dying Jesus–you do not know Him.¬†

You were¬†so lost¬†that nothing could save you–but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son.¬†
Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you–bow yourself in lowliness at His feet.¬†

A sense¬†of Christ’s amazing love to us–has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt!¬†

May the Lord bring us in contemplation, to Calvary–and then we will no longer think of ourselves with pompous pride. We shall then take the humble place of one who loves much, because much has been forgiven.¬†Pride cannot live beneath the cross!¬†Let us sit there and learn our lesson–and then rise and carry it into practice.

Some annoying interruption!

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Some annoying interruption! 

(Hannah More, “Practical Piety”)¬†

We must trace the hand of our Heavenly Father in those daily little disappointments and the hourly vexations which occur even in the most prosperous circumstances, and which are inseparable from the condition of fallen humanity. 

We must trace that same beneficent hand, secretly at work for our purification and our correction in the imperfections and unpleasantness of those around us, and in those interruptions which break in upon our favorite engagements. 

We are perhaps too much addicted to our innocent delights, or we are too fond of our leisure. A check then becomes necessary, but it is given in a most imperceptible way. The hand that gives it is unseen and unsuspected–yet¬†it is the same gracious hand which directs the more important events of life!¬†

Some annoying interruption breaks in on our projected privacy, and calls us to a sacrifice of our inclination and to a renunciation of our own will. 

Let us cheerfully bear and diligently receive these smaller trials which God prepares for us. Submission . . . 
  to a cross which He inflicts,
  to a disappointment which He sends,
  to a contradiction of our self love which He appoints, 
is a far better exercise than great penances of our own choosing. 

Perpetual conquests over impatience, ill temper and self will, indicate a better spirit than any self imposed mortifications. 

By these incessant tests of our temper, God cultivates the more difficult virtues of . . . 
  humility, 
  submission,
  and patience. 

Far from a world of grief and sin–with God eternally shut in!

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(Charles Spurgeon)

“Those He¬†predestined, He also called;
 and those He called, He also justified;
¬†and those He¬†justified, He also¬†glorified!” Romans 8:30¬†

Here is a precious truth for you, believer. You may be poor, or in suffering, or unknown–but for your encouragement take a review of your “calling” and the consequences that flow from it, and especially that blessed result here spoken of.¬†

As surely as you are God’s child today–so surely shall all your trials soon be at an end, and you shall be rich to all intents of bliss! Wait awhile, and your weary head shall wear the crown of glory, and your work-worn hands shall grasp the palm-branch of victory.¬†

Do not lament your troubles–but rather rejoice that before long you will be where “there shall be neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” The chariots of fire are at your door, and a moment will suffice to bear you to the glorified. The everlasting song is almost on your lips. The portals of Heaven stand open for you.¬†

Do not think that you can fail of entering into eternal rest. 
If He has effectually called you–then nothing can divide you from His love.¬†
Trials and troubles cannot sever the bond;
the fire of persecution cannot burn the link; 
the hammer of Hell cannot break the chain. 
You are eternally secure! 

That voice which effectually called you to Jesus at first–shall call you yet again from earth to Heaven, from death’s dark gloom toimmortality’s unuttered splendors!¬†Rest assured, the heart of Him who has predestined, called and justified you–beats with infinite love towards you! You shall soon be with the glorified, where your everlasting portion is. You are only waiting here to be made fit for your Celestial inheritance, and that done, the wings of angels shall waft you far away to the mount of peace, and joy, and blessedness, where, “Far from a world of grief and sin–with God eternally shut in,” you shall rest forever and ever!

Afterwards!

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Afterwards!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“No chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless,¬†afterwards¬†it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”¬†Hebrews 12:11¬†

How happy are tried Christians, afterwards. There is no calm more deep than that which follows a storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain? Victorious banquets are for well-exercised soldiers. 

After killing the lion–we eat the honey;¬†
after climbing the Hill Difficulty–we sit down in the arbor to rest;
after traversing the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting with Apollyon, the shining one appears, with the healing branch from the tree of life. 

Our sorrows, like the passing keels of the vessels upon the sea, leave a silver line of holy light behind them “afterwards.” It is peace, sweet, deep peace–which follows the horrible turmoil which once reigned in our tormented, guilty souls.

See, then, the happy estate of a Christian! He has his¬†best things last, and he therefore in this world receives his¬†worst things first. But even his worst things are “afterwards” good things–harsh ploughings–yielding joyful harvests. Even now . . .¬†
  he grows rich by his losses,
  he rises by his falls,
  he lives by dying, and
  he becomes full by being emptied. 

If, then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life–what shall be the full vintage of joy “afterwards” in Heaven? If his dark¬†nights¬†are as bright as the world’s days–what shall his¬†days¬†be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun–what must his sunlight be? If he can sing in a dungeon–how sweetly will he sing in Heaven! If he can praise the Lord in the fires–how will he extol Him before the eternal throne! If evil is good to him now–what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then?¬†

Oh, blessed “afterwards!” Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present¬†cross–for the¬†crown¬†which comes afterwards?¬†

One blessing after another!

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One blessing after another!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“From the fullness of His grace we have all received¬†one blessing after another!¬†John 1:16¬†

Our Lord Jesus is ever giving–and does not for a solitary instant withdraw His hand.¬†
As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim–the oil shall not be stopped.¬†

He is a sun ever-shining. 
He is manna always falling round the camp. 
He is a rock in the desert, ever sending out streams of life from His smitten side. 
The rain of His grace is always dropping. 
The river of His bounty is ever-flowing. 
The well-spring of His love is constantly overflowing. 

As our King can never die–so His grace can never fail.¬†

Daily we pluck His fruit, and daily His branches bend down to our hand with a fresh store of mercy. 

Who has ever returned from His door, unblessed?
Who has ever risen from His table, unsatisfied? 
Who has ever come from His bosom, un-imparadised? 
His mercies are new every morning–and fresh every evening.¬†

Who can know the number of His benefits, or recount His infinite bounties? 

Every sand which drops from the glass of time–is but the tardy follower of a myriad of mercies. The wings of our hours are covered with the silver of His kindness, and with the yellow gold of His affection. The¬†river of time¬†bears from the¬†mountains of eternity–the¬†golden sands of His favor.¬†

Who can count the¬†dust of the benefits¬†which He bestows on His redeemed people, or number of His mercies towards us? How shall my soul extol Him–who daily loads us with benefits, and who crowns us with loving-kindness?¬†

O that my praise could be as ceaseless as His bounty! O miserable tongue, how can you be silent? 

“Praise the Lord, O my soul!¬†Do not forget all of¬†His¬†benefits!”¬†Psalm 103:2¬†

With God for your portion!

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With God for your portion!

(Charles Spurgeon)

You are my portion, O Lord.” Psalm 119:57¬†

Look at your possessions, O believer–and compare your portion with the lot of your fellow men.¬†

Some of them have their portion in the field; they are rich, and their harvests yield them a golden increase. But what are harvests compared with your God, who is the God of harvests? What are bursting granaries compared with Him, who is the heavenly Gardener, and feeds you with the bread of heaven? 

Some have their portion in the city; their¬†wealth¬†is abundant, and flows to them in constant streams, until they become a very reservoir of gold. But what is¬†gold¬†compared with your¬†God?¬†You could not live on it; your spiritual life could not be sustained by it. Put gold on a troubled conscience–and could it allay its pangs? Apply it to a desponding heart–and see if it could relieve a solitary groan, or give one grief the less? But you have God, and in Him you have more than gold or riches ever could buy!¬†

Some have their portion in that which most men love–applause and¬†fame. But ask yourself: Is not your God more to you than that? What if a myriad trumpets should be loud in your applause–would this prepare you to pass the Jordan of death, or cheer you in prospect of the final judgment? No! there are griefs in life which fame and wealth cannot alleviate; and there is the deep need of a dying hour, for which no riches can provide.¬†

But when you have God for your portion, you have more than all else put together. 
In Him every need is met, whether in life or in death. 
With God for your portion you are rich indeed, for He will . . .
  supply your real needs,
  comfort your desponding heart,
  assuage your deepest grief,
  guide your steps wisely, 
  be with you in the dark valley of death,
and then take you home to Heaven, to enjoy Him as your portion forever! 

“My flesh and my heart may fail,¬†but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!”¬†Psalm 73:26¬†

A holy man!

Grace logoA holy man!

(J.C. Ryle)

Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of . . .
¬† agreeing with God’s judgment,
  hating what He hates,
  loving what He loves, and
  measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. 

A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live a life of faith in Him and draw from Him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labor to have the mind that was in Him and to be conformed to His image!

It opens the eye of the mind!

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It opens the eye of the mind!

(Joseph Alleine, “An Alarm to the Unconverted” 1671)

Conversion is a deep work, a heart work.

It makes a new man in a new world! 

It extends to the whole man–to the mind, to the affections, to the motions of the whole life.

Conversion turns the balance of the judgment, so that God and His glory outweigh all carnal and worldly interests.

It opens the eye of the mind, and makes the scales of its native ignorance fall off, and turns men from darkness to light. 

The man who before saw no danger in his¬†condition, now concludes himself lost and forever undone–except renewed by divine grace.¬†

He who formerly thought there was little hurt in sin, now comes to see it to be the chief of evils! He sees the stupidity, the deformity and the filthiness of sin; so that he is affrighted by it, loathes it, dreads it, flees from it, and even abhors himself for it! Romans 7:15; Job 42:6; Ezekiel 36:31

He who could see little sin in himself, and could find no matter for confession–now sees the rottenness of his heart and the desperate and deep pollution of his whole nature. He cries,¬†“Unclean! Unclean! Lord, purge me with hyssop, wash me thoroughly, create in me a clean heart!”¬†He sees himself altogether filthy, corrupt in both root and branch. He writes ‘unclean’ upon all his supposed virtues and good works. He discovers the filthy corners that he was never aware of, and sees the blasphemy, and murder, and adultery that is in his heart, of which before he was ignorant.¬†

His hatred boils and his anger burns against sin. He has no patience with himself; he calls himself ‘fool’ and ‘beast’; and thinks any name too good for himself, when his indignation is stirred up against sin. He could once wallow in it with much pleasure; now he loathes the thought of returning to it as much as of licking up the filthiest vomit!

Hitherto he saw no form nor loveliness in Christ, no beauty that he should desire Him; but now he finds that Jesus is the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of great price for which he is willing to sell all to obtain.

We need the teaching of the Great Expositor!

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We need the teaching of the Great Expositor!

(“Every Day!” Author unknown, 1872)

“Lead me in Your truth–and teach me!” Psalm 25:5

What a mercy it is, in the midst of prevailing errors, to possess the truth of God–the sure word of His testimony–the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. May we read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the truth–that we may find it profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness.¬†

Too frequently the Word of God is read with little profit, because it is read with little prayer. We need Divine illumination! We need the teaching of the Great Expositor, in order rightly to understand the Word of God, and to receive it in the love of it. 

May the prayer of the psalmist be my prayer: “Lead me in Your truth–and teach me!”¬†

Lead me into the¬†knowledge¬†and¬†experience¬†of it–let it dwell in my heart, and influence my life.¬†

Lead me into the¬†enjoyment¬†of it–may I find Your Word, and eat it; may it be sweet to my taste, yes, sweeter than honey–than honey from the comb.¬†

And lead me into the¬†practice¬†of it–may my ways be directed to keep Your statutes, and may I be a living epistle, read and known by all men.

May Your Word come to me with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!

“When He, the Spirit of truth, comes–He will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13¬†

A comfort to the believer, and a terror to the unbeliever!

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A comfort to the believer, and a terror to the unbeliever!

(R.C. Sproul)

“His eyes are on the ways of men; He sees their every step!” Job 34:21¬†

“The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” Proverbs 15:3¬†

“Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” Jeremiah 23:24¬†

The doctrine of¬†God’s omnipresence¬†appropriately fills us with¬†awe.¬†

In addition, the doctrine also proves to be¬†comforting. We can always be certain of God’s undivided attention. We don’t ever need to stand in line or make an appointment to be with God. When we are in God’s presence, He is not preoccupied with events on the other side of the world.

The doctrine is, of course, not at all comforting to the unbeliever. There is no place to hide from God! There is no corner of the universe where God is not. The wicked in Hell are not separated from God–only from His benevolence. His wrath is with them constantly.

For the unbeliever, the doctrine highlights the fact that people cannot hide from God. Their sins are done in God’s presence. Like Adam, they seek to hide. However, there is no corner of the universe that God’s gaze, either in love or wrath, fails to reach.

God’s omnipresence is¬†a comfort to the believer, and a terror to the unbeliever!

“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

It is unwise to try to carry next week’s burdens today

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It is unwise to try to carry next week’s burdens today

(J.C. Pittman, 1917)

“Do not worry about anything–but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7¬†

There is no harm in looking ahead–but¬†it is unwise to try to carry next week’s burdens today. There is nothing wrong in looking ahead, but¬†needless worry¬†in regard to the future, is not only¬†useless¬†but¬†injurious–besides evidencing lack of implicit trust in our heavenly Father’s care for His redeemed people. Worry looks tremblingly ahead–but never accelerates, and always hinders the speed in life’s race.

Yet many drag through life weighted with all sorts of¬†needless cares–and are never in their element unless looking for still more trouble. They are always watching for¬†clouds–and are never content to bask in the sunshine.

Paul has a word concerning the sin of worrying. “Do not worry about anything.” The reason is because we are in God’s world, and He is able and willing to take care of all His people. “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.”¬†

Never bear more than one kind of trouble at once. 
Some people bear all three kinds of trouble at once:
  all they have had,
  all they have now, and
  all they expect to have.

John Wesley said:¬†“I dare not worry–any more than I dare curse and swear!”

The more I see of Jesus

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The more I see of Jesus

(Mary Winslow)

“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, the 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! 

   ~  ~  ~  ~ 

For those who desire additional devotional reading, here is an uplifting short article by¬†J.R. Miller, “Heavenly Worship”¬†

One continued dream and delusion!

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One continued dream and delusion!

(Thomas Boston, “Human Nature in its Fourfold State“)

“There is no one who understands.” Romans 3:11

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” Ephesians 4:18

The natural man’s apprehension of divine things is corrupt. The¬†understanding, that leading faculty, is despoiled of its primitive glory, and covered over with confusion.¬†

Tell them how they may advance their worldly wealth, or how they may gratify their lusts–and they will quickly understand these things. But it is very hard to make them know how their souls may be saved, or how their hearts may find rest in Christ. They are very¬†stupid and unteachable¬†in the matters of God. What woeful delusions prevail over them! Do we not often see those, who in other things are the wisest of men–yet are notorious fools with respect to their soul’s eternal interests?¬†

Many who are eagle-eyed in the¬†trifles of time–yet are like owls and bats in the light of¬†eternal realities. Nay, truly, the life of every natural man is but¬†one continued dream and delusion, out of which he never awakes, until either, by a divine light darted from Heaven into his soul, he comes to himself–or, in Hell he lifts up his eyes in torment!

Sin has closed the windows of the soul, and darkness covers the whole. The prince of darkness reigns there, and nothing but the works of darkness are framed there. We are born spiritually blind–and cannot be restored without a miracle of grace!

“For though your hearts were once full of¬†darkness, now you are full of¬†light¬†from the Lord!” Ephesians 5:8

The chief dangers which will confront the church in the coming century!

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The chief dangers which will confront the church in the coming century!

(William Booth, 1829-1916)

The chief dangers which will confront the church in the coming century will be . . .
  religion without the Holy Spirit,
  Christianity without Christ,
  forgiveness without repentance,
  salvation without regeneration,
  Heaven without Hell. 

We have seen such a tragic repetition of it in our own days

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We have seen such a tragic repetition of it in our own days

(Arthur Pink)

“With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction!” Hosea 8:4¬†

Sad indeed is the above passage–and the more so, because¬†we have seen such a tragic repetition of it in our own days.¬†

Oh what earthly-mindedness, what indulging of the flesh, what sinful extravagance–are now seen among professing Christians today!

How practical godliness has waned; 
how the denying of self has disappeared; 
how covetousness, pleasure and worldliness now possess the great majority of those calling themselves the people of God. 

Yet as great as the sin of the people is–far greater is that of most of the preachers, who, instead of warning, admonishing, rebuking, and setting before their people an example of sobriety and contentment–criminally remain silent upon the crying sins of their hearers, while they themselves encourage the reckless indulgence of worldly lusts.

Experimental conformity to the image of Christ

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Experimental conformity to the image of Christ

(Arthur Pink)

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word–that you may¬†grow¬†thereby” 1 Peter 2:2

It behooves each one of us to honestly and diligently examine himself, so as to discover whether or not we are growing in grace. 

We are not to be content with an increase of¬†mere head-knowledge of Scripture. What we need to be most concerned about is our¬†practical growth–our¬†experimental conformity to the image of Christ.¬†

One point at which we may test ourselves is:¬†“Does my reading and study of God’s Word make me less worldly?”

“But¬†grow¬†in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18¬†

The object of God’s tender, perfect and ceaseless care!

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The object of God’s tender, perfect and ceaseless care!

(James Smith, “Divine Care!” 1865)

“Casting all your care upon Him–for¬†He cares for you!”¬†1 Peter 5:7

Our¬†cares¬†must be cast upon our God, or they will prove a burden too heavy for us–they will depress, bewilder, and make us wretched!¬†

WHO is it that cares for us? 

It is the¬†Lord Almighty–the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy!¬†
It is He whom the angels obey, the seraphim adore, and all creation glorifies! 
It is the Lord–who is so¬†great, that we have no adequate conception of His greatness!¬†
It is He who is so¬†good–that it is impossible fully to set forth His goodness!¬†
It is He who is so¬†glorious–that no sinner can see His face and live!¬†
It is He who created all things with His Word!
It is He who governs all things by His wisdom!
It is He who upholds all things by His power! 
It is He whose resources are infinite!
It is He whose compassion is exquisite!
It is He whose patience is without limit! 

But though He is so exalted, so happy, and so unspeakably great–He cares for you!

He cares for you–as base as you are.¬†
He cares for you–as sinful as you are.¬†
He cares for you–as depressed and discouraged as you are.¬†

HE cares for YOU!

May I pass through the present world under the impression, “I am¬†the object of God’s tender, perfect and ceaseless care!

“Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22¬†

The worldling’s Bible!

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The worldling’s Bible!

(Charles Spurgeon)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16¬†

The worldling’s Bible¬†is the Christian. He never reads the Book–but he reads the disciple of Christ, and he judges the Christian religion by the lives of its professors!¬†

The world does not read the Bible–the world reads Christians!

“For it is God’s will that by doing good, you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men!” 1 Peter 2:15¬†

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2

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