Tag Archives: J.R. Miller

An arm that can never be broken!

An arm that can never be broken!

(J. R. Miller, “A Life of Character”)

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!” Deuteronomy 33:27

The picture suggested, is that of a little child, lying in the strong arms of a father who is able to withstand all storms and dangers.

At the two extremes of life, childhood and old age–this promise comes with special assurance.

“He shall gather the lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom” (Isaiah 40:11), is a word for the children.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He; I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you!” (Isaiah 46:4), brings its blessed comfort to the aged.

The thought of God’s embracing arms is very suggestive. What does an arm represent? What is the thought suggested by the arm of God enfolded around His child?

One suggestion, is protection. As a father puts his arm about his child when it is in danger–so God protects His children. Life is full of peril. There are temptations on every hand! Enemies lurk in every shadow–enemies strong and swift! Yet we are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God. “Underneath are the everlasting arms!”

Another thought, is affection. The father’s arm drawn around a child–is a token of love. The child is held in the father’s bosom, near his heart. The shepherd carries the lambs in his bosom. John lay on Jesus’ bosom. The mother holds the child in her bosom, because she loves it. This picture of God embracing His children in His arms–tells of His love for them–His love is tender, close, intimate.

Another thought suggested by an arm, is strength. The arm is a symbol of strength. His arm is omnipotence. “In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:4). His is an arm that can never be broken! Out of this clasp–we can never be taken. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish–ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!” (John 10:28)

Another suggestion is endurance. The arms of God are “everlasting.” Human arms grow weary even in love’s embrace; they cannot forever press the child to the bosom. Soon they lie folded in death.

A husband stood by the coffin of his beloved wife after only one short year of wedded happiness. The clasp of that love was very sweet–but how brief a time it lasted, and how desolate was the life that had lost the precious companionship!

A little baby two weeks old–was left motherless. The mother clasped the child to her bosom and drew her feeble arms about it in one loving embrace; the little one will never more have a mother’s arm around it.

So pathetic is human life with–its broken affections, its little moments of love, its embraces that are torn away in one hour. But these arms of God–are everlasting arms! They shall never unclasp!

There is another important suggestion in the word “underneath.” Not only do the arms of God embrace His child–but they are underneath–always underneath! That means that we can never sink–for these arms will ever be beneath us!

Sometimes we say the waters of trouble are very deep–like great floods they roll over us. But still and forever, underneath the deepest floods–are these everlasting arms! We cannot sink below them–or out of their clasp!

And when death comes, and every earthly thing is gone from beneath us, and we sink away into what seems darkness–out of all human love, out of warmth and gladness and life–into the gloom and strange mystery of death–still it will only be–into the everlasting arms!

This view of God’s divine care is full of inspiration and comfort. We are not saving ourselves. A strong One, the mighty God–holds us in His omnipotent clasp! We are not tossed like a leaf on life’s wild sea–driven at the mercy of wind and wave. We are in divine keeping. Our security does not depend upon our own feeble, wavering faith–but upon the omnipotence, the love, and the faithfulness of the unchanging, the eternal God!

No power in the universe can snatch us out of His hands! Neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come–can separate us from His everlasting arms!

He Will Sustain You!

He will sustain you!

(J.R. Miller)

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

The promise is not that the Lord will remove the load we cast upon Him, nor that He will carry it for us–but that He will sustain us so that we may carry it. 

He does not free us from the duty–but He strengthens us for it.
He does not deliver us from the conflict–but He enables us to overcome.
He does not withhold or withdraw the trial from us–but He helps us in trial to be submissive and victorious, and makes it a blessing to us.
He does not mitigate the hardness or severity of our circumstances, taking away the difficult elements, removing the thorns, making life easy for us–but He puts Divine grace into our hearts, so that we can live sweetly in all the hard, adverse circumstances.

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

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

Their photograph flatters them!

Their photograph flatters them!

(J. R. Miller, “What God Thinks of Us” 1909)

One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves, is what God thinks of us.

One has pointed out that in every man, there are four different men:

the man whom the neighbors see,

the man whom one’s family sees,

the man whom the person himself sees,

and the man whom God sees.

The community knows us only in a general way, superficially. What people think of us, we sometimes call ‘reputation’—what we are reputed to be. It is a composite made up of all that people know about us, gathered from our conduct, our acts, our dispositions, our words, the impressions of ourselves we give to others.

The knowledge the community has of a man, is only superficial. It is evident that the world’s opinion about people is not infallible, is not complete, is not final.

A person may be better than his reputation; his external manner may do him injustice. Some men, by reason of their shyness, their awkwardness, or some limitation in power of expression, fail to appear at their true value. The world knows only a man’s outward life, and there may be good things in him which it does not know.

Then some people, on the other hand, are worse than their reputation. Their photograph flatters them! What they pretend to be—exceeds the reality. They practice tricks which give a glamour to their lives, so that they pass in public for more than they are. They wear veils, which hide defects and faults in them, and thus they seem better than they are.

Hence we cannot accept the judgment of the community, regarding anyone—as absolutely true, fair, and final.

But there is another man in us—the man GOD sees. And this is most important of all. We do not even know all the secret things of our own hearts. There is an Eye that sees deeper than ours! It is pleasant to have people commend us, when we have tried to do our duty. It gives us great joy to have the approval of our own hearts. But if we do not have the commendation of the Master, human praise and self-approval amount to nothing! “What does God think of me?” is always the final question.

Men are cruel. They judge often harshly. They know only part of the truth concerning us. They are not patient with our infirmities. But we are safe in the hands of God. He knows the worst in us—but He also knows the best. We may trust our lives, therefore, to God’s judgment, even if they are full of defects and flaws. He knows all, and will bring to light all the hidden things.

The Habit of Encouraging Others

The Habit of Encouraging Others

J.R. Miller

“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory!” 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

In one of her books Miss Mulock tells of a gentleman and a lady walking one day in a lumber-yard beside a dirty, foul-smelling river. The lady said, “How good these pine boards smell!” “Pine boards!” sniffed her companion. “Just smell this foul river!” “No, thank you,” the lady replied, “I prefer to smell the pine boards.” She was wiser than he.

It is far better for us to find the sweetness that is in the air, than the foulness. It is far better to talk to others of the smell of pine boards, than of the heavy odors of stagnant rivers.

Yet too many people seem ever to have an instinct for the unpleasant things. They never see the beauty — but they always find the disagreeable. They have no eye for the roses — but they are sure to find even the smallest thorn. They never discuss the good qualities in those about them — but they instantly detect the faults.

It is a far nobler thing when one has learned to find the things that are lovely and good and true in those about one — and to be blind to the blemishes and defects. It is a pitiful waste of time and strength for one engaged in Christian work, for example, to do nothing but look for mistakes or imperfections in that which others are doing. It is far wiser to devote one’s life and energy to doing good in a positive way.

We do not have to answer for other people’s mistakes. We are not set to be judges of other people’s motives. The only true Christian course is to do our own part as well as we possibly can, having charity meanwhile for all about us who are engaged in the work of our common Master.

It shows a very narrow spirit to have nothing but evil to say of those who are working alongside of us in the same vineyard. Very likely they are quite as holy as we are, and are doing their work quite as well as we are doing ours. But if they are not, our sin in watching them with unkindly eye is worse than any ordinary mistake in their service could be.

We are told that once the disciples criticized very sharply another friend of their Master’s, calling her way of working a wasteful way. But we should not forget that it was Judas who led in this criticism and faultfinding, and that Jesus severely rebuked the censorious spirit in his disciples and spoke in warmest defense of the gentle woman who had done what she could.

We should train ourselves, therefore, to the utmost patience with those who work beside us in the service of the same Master. We should seek to encourage them in every possible way. There may be faults in their method — but, if so, the Master will look after these, and certainly it is no part of our duty to judge, to find fault, to condemn.

We are likely to overlook the unlovingness of this spirit of criticism and fault-finding. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another,” said the Master himself. Love implies not only patience with the infirmities of others — but also readiness to help them and to work with them in all kindly, sympathetic ways. Love sends us forth to be helpers of each other — not hinderers; encouragers — not discouragers.

It is very easy for us to go forth any day and make life harder for every person we meet. We do this when we assume a superior air, when we relate ourselves to others only as a critic, a fault-finder.

The worst of all heresies is the heresy of unlovingness. We understand the spirit of the gospel of Christ only when we get its thoughtfulness, forbearance, gentleness, into our life. We begin to be like Christ, only when in us is born the desire to be of use to everyone we meet. Many people go among others, however, bearing the name of Christ — yet lacking the spirit of Christ. Instead of making life easier for those among whom they mingle — they make it harder! They say discouraging things. Even when they imagine they are giving comfort — they are only adding to the burden of sorrow.

Some good people go into sick rooms, with true sympathy in their heart and desire to do good — but only add to the pain of those they would help.

Job’s three friends, the suffering and bereft man found to be “miserable comforters.” Scarcely any better comforters are many of those who come to people in these days as messengers of consolation. They go over all the sorrow, opening the wounds afresh — instead of saying cheerful, uplifting, inspiring things which would have made the sad hearts braver and stronger.

Shall we not train ourselves to speak only kindly words, to say only encouraging things, to give only cheer? It is a great thing to live so that everyone who meets us shall be a little happier, with a little more courage for life’s struggles, and with new hope in the heart. Words of encouragement and good cheer are better than angels’ visits to those to whom they are spoken.

Thackeray tells of an English nobleman who always carried his pocket full of acorns as he walked over his estate, and whenever he found a bare spot he would plant one of these. So should we carry with us ever a heart full of loving thoughts and impulses, and whenever we find a life that is sad, discouraged, or defeated — we should drop a seed of kindness which by and by will grow into something beautiful.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

A truly thoughtful person.

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Some people seem to have a genius for making others miserable! They are continually touching sensitive hearts, so as to cause pain. They are always saying things which sting and irritate. If you have any bodily defect, they never see you without in some crude way, making you conscious of it. If any relative or friend of yours has done some dishonorable thing, they seem to take a cruel delight in constantly referring to it when speaking with you. They lack all delicacy of feeling, having no eye for the sensitive things in others, which demand gentleness of treatment.

Thoughtfulness is the reverse of all this. It simply does not do the things which thoughtlessness does. It avoids the painful subject. It never alludes to a man’s clubfoot or humpback, nor ever casts an eye at the defect, nor does anything to direct attention to it or to make the man conscious of it. It respects your sorrow–and refrains from harshly touching your wound. It has the utmost kindliness of feeling and expression. A truly thoughtful person, is one who never needlessly gives pain to another.

Thoughtfulness does not merely keep one from doing thoughtless things; it also leads to continued acts of kindness and good will. It ever watches for opportunities to give pleasure and happiness. It does not wait to be asked for sympathy or help–but has eyes of its own, and sees every need, and supplies it unsolicited. When a friend is in sorrow, the thoughtful man is ready with his offer of comfort. He does not come the next day, when the need is past–but is prompt with his kindness, when kindness means something.

Thoughtfulness is always doing little kindnesses. It has an instinct for seeing the little things that need to be done, and then for doing them!

There are some rare Christians who seem born for thoughtfulness. They have a genius for sympathy. Instinctively they seem to understand the experiences of pain in others, and from their heart, there flows a blessing of tenderness which is full of healing. This is the highest and holiest ministry of love. It is not softness nor weakness; it is strength–but strength enriched by divine gentleness.

Thoughtfulness is one of the truest and best tests of a noble Christian character. It is love working in all delicate ways. It is unselfishness which forgets self, and thinks only of others. It is love which demands not to be served, to be honored, to be helped–but thinks continually of serving and honoring others. He who has a truly gentle heart, cannot but be thoughtful. Love is always thoughtful.

(J. R. Miller, “The Grace of Thoughtfulness” 1896)

When I grumble about the weather

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“The Lord has heard all your grumblings against Him!” Exodus 16:8

Does God really hear every discontented word which I ever speak?

Does He hear when I grumble about the weather . . .
about the hard winter,
about the late spring,
about the dry summer,
about the wet harvest?

Does He hear when I grumble . . .
about the frosts,
about the drought,
about the high winds,
about the storms?

Does He hear when I grumble . . .
about my circumstances,
about the hardness of my lot,
about my losses and disappointments?

If we could get into our heart, and keep there continually, the consciousness that God hears every word we speak—would we murmur and complain so much as we now do?

We are careful never to speak words which would give pain to the hearts of those we love. Are we as careful not to say anything that will grieve our heavenly Father?

“I tell you this—that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak!” Matthew 12:36

“He who complains of the weather—complains of the God who ordains the weather!” William Law

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

Love flowing out in little gentlenesses.

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“I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in My name because you belong to Christ — will certainly not lose his reward!” Mark 9:41

It seems indeed astonishing — that God should keep note of such a little thing, as the giving of a cup of water to a thirsty Christian. It shows how dear to Him His people are — since the smallest things done to one of them — He accepts, remembers, and rewards.

The mention here of the giving of a cup of water suggests that this promise is for little, commonplace acts — rather than for great showy deeds. We are too stingy with our helpfulness. God has put His gifts of love into our hearts — not to be kept locked up and useless — but to be given out.

We would call a man selfish — who would refuse a cup of water to one who was thirsty; yet many of us do this continually. It is the heart which ‘thirsts’ — and the ‘water’ we refuse to give, is human kindness.

Kindness is just the word for these small acts. Kindness is simply love flowing out in little gentlenesses. We ought to live our lives — so that they will be perpetual blessings wherever we go. All that we need for such a ministry — is a heart full of love for Christ; for if we truly love Christ — we shall also love our fellow-men; and love will always find ways of helping. A heart filled with gentleness — cannot be miserly of its blessings.

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


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