Tag Archives: Love

How can we learn contentment?

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How can we learn contentment? 

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

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

How can we learn contentment? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does our church need?

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What does our church need?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The unchangeable method of God!

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The unchangeable method of God!

(Matthew Mead, “The Almost Christian” 1661)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True excellency!

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True excellency!

(Jonathan Edwards)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A glance into heavenly bliss!

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A glance into heavenly bliss!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rapture rushes in at every part!

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

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

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

O the pleasure that is in His presence! 

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

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

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

O state of complete happiness and consummate bliss!

Your everlasting treasure, and your unchangeable Friend!

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Your everlasting treasure, and your unchangeable Friend!

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

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

Glory in Christ–and in Him alone!¬†

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Altogether lovely!

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Altogether lovely!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Heaven is enamored with His beauty!

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

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

The greatness of the sin of gluttony!

ūü§Ē My Thoughts…

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

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The greatness of the sin of gluttony!

(Richard Baxter, “Directions against Gluttony”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The more I see of Jesus

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The more I see of Jesus

(Mary Winslow)  LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The God of contemporary Christianity!

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The God of contemporary Christianity!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are ‘Jebusites’ in every Christian heart!

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There are ‘Jebusites’ in every Christian heart!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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This precept is very extensive and important

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This precept is very extensive and important

(John Newton)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” Romans 12:2

This precept is very extensive and important. As believers, we are strangers and pilgrims upon earth. Heaven is our country–and the Lord is our King. We are to be known as His subjects–and therefore it is His pleasure that we do not speak the language or adopt the customs, of the land in which we sojourn.

We must not conform to the¬†spirit¬†of the world. As members of society, we have a part to act in it, in common with others. But though our business is the same–our¬†principles¬†and¬†ends¬†are to be entirely different!¬†

We must not conform to the¬†maxims¬†of the world. The world in various instances calls evil, good–and good, evil. But we have recourse to the law and to the testimony, and are to judge of things by the unerring Word of God–uninfluenced by the determination of the¬†great¬†or the¬†many.

We must not conform to the world in their¬†amusements¬†and¬†diversions. We are to mix with the world, only so far as our necessary and providential connections engage us–so far as we have a reasonable expectation of doing or getting good, and no farther.¬†

“What fellowship has light with darkness, or what concord has Christ with Belial?” What call can a believer have into those places and companies . . .
  where everything tends to promote a spirit of dissipation;
  where the fear of God has no place;
  where things are purposely disposed to inflame or indulge corrupt and sinful appetites and passions, and to banish all serious thoughts of God and ourselves? 

If it is our duty  . . .
  to redeem time,
  to walk with God,
  to do all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  to follow the example which He set for us when He was upon the earth, 
  and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling
–then it must of course be our duty to avoid a conformity with the world in those vain and sensual diversions, which stand in as direct contradiction to a spiritual frame of mind, as darkness to light.

 

The only weapon to fight sin with!

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The only weapon to fight sin with!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors¬†through Him¬†who loved us.” Romans 8:37

We go to Christ for forgiveness, and then too often look to our own strength to fight our sins. Paul thus rebukes us, “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” Galatians 3:3

Take your sins to Christ’s cross, for the old man can only be crucified there.¬†The only weapon to fight sin with, is the spear which pierced the side of Jesus!

To give an illustration: you want to overcome an¬†angry temper–how do you go to work? It is very possible you have never tried the right way of going to Jesus with it. How did I get salvation? I came to Jesus just as I was, and I trusted Him to save me. I must kill my angry temper in the same way! I must go to the cross with it, and say to Jesus, “Lord, I trust You to deliver me from it.” This is the only way to give it a death-blow.

Are you¬†covetous?¬†Do you feel the¬†world¬†entangle you? You may struggle against this evil as long as you please–but you will never be delivered from it in any way but by the blood of Jesus. Take it to Christ. Tell Him: “Lord, Your name is Jesus, for You save Your people from their sins. Lord, this is one of my sins–save me from it!”

Ordinances are nothing, without Christ as a means of mortification. Your prayers, and your repentances, and your tears–the whole of them put together, are worth nothing apart from Him. “None but Jesus can do helpless¬†sinners¬†good;” or helpless¬†saints¬†either. You must be conquerors through Him who has loved you, if conquerors at all.

 

Why are we here? What is our purpose?

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Why are we here? What is our purpose?

(Frank Hall)

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“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1¬†

Before there was a Milky Way–there was God!¬†
Before there were galaxies, solar systems, constellations, and nebulae–there was God!¬†
Before Mercury, Venus, and Mars were plugged into their sockets–there was God!¬†
Before Polaris was fastened above the North Pole–there was God!¬†
Before Orion the hunter had a belt, and Saturn had its rings–there was God;¬†all alone, perfect and content, glorious in His solitary existence as the eternal I AM!¬†

Before there was a sun, a moon, or an earth; 
before there was grass to clothe the field, and flowers to adorn it; 
before the mountains were brought forth, and the sea filled the depths; 
before the eagle soared through the sky, and the fish swam through the sea; 
before angels, devils, and men had their being–there was God alone!¬†

If we would understand things aright, we must not begin with¬†man, but with¬†God, for He is the beginning of all things. To begin with man is folly, for man is but a creature–a production of the Creator. We must back up and begin where the Bible begins, with God!¬†

God’s people know, and have always known what continues to baffle the minds of the scholars and scientists of our day, that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Through faith, God’s people understand the mystery of creation.¬†

I ask you,¬†Why are we here? What is our purpose?¬†What is God’s purpose?”¬†Can we even know the answer to these questions? Indeed we can.¬†¬†

The twenty four elders seated around God’s throne in Heaven give us the answer in Revelation 4:10-11, “The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:¬†You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and¬†for Your pleasure¬†they exist and were created!”

You, me, angels, animals, plants, rocks, and all other things, exist and were created for one reason–the pleasure of the Creator.¬†We were created according to His will and purpose, for His pleasure and glory.¬†¬†

God did not create the Heaven and the earth arbitrarily. He created them to be the stage upon which He would perform His eternal purpose of grace, and reveal all the wonders of His goodness and mercy toward His elect. It is upon the stage of time, that God displays His eternal purpose and shows forth His glory in the salvation of chosen sinners. He created this world for the salvation of His people, that they would be recovered from their sin by His almighty grace.

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying:¬†My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure!”¬†Isaiah 46:9-10

Paul’s three-word description of what sin does to all people

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Paul’s three-word description of what sin does to all people

“People will be lovers of themselves” 2 Timothy 3:2

¬†¬† It’s the inescapable, destructive commitment of every person that was ever born. It marches down a pathway of separation from God and our ultimate doom. None of us successfully avoid it. We see it in others and it bothers us, but somehow we are blind to it in ourselves. It shapes what we think, desire, say, and do. It shapes our unwritten law for the people we live with and a host of unrealistic expectations for the situations we live in. It explains why we are so often irritated and impatient. It describes why some of us are perennially unhappy and some of us trudge through life depressed. It causes us to want what we will never, ever have and to demand what we do not deserve. It puts us at odds with one another and in endless fights with God. It is one of the deep diseases of our sin nature and a core reason for the birth of Jesus.

¬†¬† Paul says that Jesus came so “that those who live might no longer live for themselves” (2 Corinthians 5:14‚Äď15). Consider¬†Paul’s three-word description of what sin does to all people:¬†“live for themselves.”¬†That’s what we all do from the first moment of our lives. We all demand to be in the center of our world. We all tend to be too focused on what we want, on what we think we need, and on our feelings. We all want our own way, and we want people to stay out of our way. We all want to be sovereign over our lives and to write our own rules. We demand to be served, indulged, agreed with, accepted, and respected. In our self-centeredness, we convince ourselves that our wants are our needs, and when we do, we judge the love of God and others by their willingness to deliver them. When we are angry, it’s seldom because the people around us have broken God’s law; most often we are angry because people have broken the law of our happiness. Because we live for our happiness, happiness always eludes us–because every fulfilled desire is followed by yet another desire.

[Taken from “Come Let Us Adore Him” by Paul David Tripp, 2017, pp. 82-82. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,¬†www.crossway.org.]

 

Drinking bitter cups!

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Drinking bitter cups!

(Octavius Winslow) 

“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¬†

Oh truth most divine! 

Oh words most consolatory! 

All things under the government of an infinitely great, all wise, righteous, and beneficent God, work together for good. 

What that good may be, the shape it may assume, the complexion it may wear, the end to which it may be subservient–we cannot tell.¬†

To our dim view it may appear an evil, but to God’s far seeing eye it is a positive good.¬†

His glory secured by it, and His end accomplished–we are sure it must be good.¬†

How many whose eye traces this page, it may be whose tears bedew it, whose sighs breathe over it, whose prayers hallow it, may be wading in¬†deep waters, may be¬†drinking bitter cups, and are ready to exclaim, “All these things are¬†against¬†me!”¬†

Oh no, beloved of God, all these things are for you! 

“The Lord sits upon the¬†flood.”¬†
“The voice of the Lord is upon the¬†waters.”¬†
“He makes the¬†clouds¬†His chariot.”¬†

Be not then afraid. 

Calmly stay your faith on this divinely assured truth, that “all things work together for good to those who love God.”¬†

Will it not be a good, if your present adversity results . . .  
  in the dethronement of some worshiped idol; 
  in the endearing of Christ to your soul; 
¬† in the closer conformity of your mind to God’s image;¬†
  in the purification of your heart; 
  in your more thorough fitness for Heaven; 
¬† in a revival of God’s work within you;¬†
  in stirring you up to more prayer? 

Oh yes! good, real good, permanent good must result from all the Divine dispensations in your history.

Bitter repentance¬†shall end in the experienced sweetness of Christ’s love.¬†

The festering wound shall but elicit the healing balm. 

The overpowering burden shall but bring you to the tranquil rest. 

The¬†storm¬†shall but quicken your footsteps to the ‘hiding place’.¬†

In a little while, oh, how soon! you shall pass away from earth to heaven, and in its clearer, serener light shall read the truth, often read with tears before, “All things work together for good to those who love God.”

Where is there a more sinful spot to be found upon our guilty globe?

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“When disaster comes to a city‚ÄĒhas not the LORD caused it?” Amos 3:6

It concerns us all to seriously reflect upon our own sins, and the sins of our land‚ÄĒwhich have brought these calamities upon us.

We and our countrymen are sinners, aggravated sinners! God proclaims that we are such‚ÄĒby His judgments now upon us: by withering fields and scanty harvests, by the sound of the trumpet and the alarm of war!

O my country, is not your wickedness great, and your iniquities infinite? Where is there a more sinful spot to be found upon our guilty globe? Pass over the land, take a survey of the inhabitants, inspect into their conduct‚ÄĒand what do you see? What do you hear?

You see the gigantic forms of vice bidding defiance to the God of heaven‚ÄĒwhile true religion and virtue are forced to retire, to avoid public contempt and insult!

You see herds of drunkards swilling down their cups, and drowning all morality within them!

You hear the swearer venting his fury against God‚ÄĒtrifling with that Name which prostrate angels adore, and imprecating that damnation, under which the hardiest devil in hell trembles and groans!

You see avarice hoarding up her useless treasures, dishonest craft planning her schemes of unlawful gain, and oppression unmercifully grinding the face of the poor!

You see prodigality squandering her stores! You see luxury spreading her table!

You see vanity laughing aloud and dissolving in empty, unthinking mirth; regardless of God, of time and eternity!

You see sensuality wallowing in carnal pleasures, and aspiring, with perverted ambition‚ÄĒto sink as low as her four-footed brethren in the stalls!

You see cards more in use than the Bible; the backgammon table more frequented than the table of the Lord; novels and romances more read‚ÄĒthan the history of the blessed Jesus!

You see trifling, and even evil diversions and amusements, become a gigantic business! The outcome of a horse-race is more anxiously attended to‚ÄĒthan the concerns of eternity!

And where these grosser forms of vice do not shock your senses‚ÄĒyou often meet with the appearances of a more refined impiety, which is equally dangerous!

You hear the conversation of reasonable creatures, of candidates for eternity‚ÄĒ engrossed by trifles, or vainly wasted on the affairs of time! These are their important subjects of conversation, even at the threshold of the house of God!

You see swarms of prayerless families all over our land! You see ignorant, wicked children, unrestrained and untaught by those to whom God and nature have entrusted their souls!

You see the holy religion of Jesus‚ÄĒabused, neglected, disobeyed, and dishonored by its professors!

You see crowds of professed believers, who are in reality, practical atheists! These nominal Christians are really unholy heathens! They are abandoned slaves of sin‚ÄĒwho yet pretend to be the servants of the holy Jesus!

You see multitudes lying in a deep sleep in sin all around us! You see them eager in the pursuits of the vanities of time‚ÄĒbut stupidly unconcerned about the important realities of the eternal world just before them! So few are concerned what shall become of them‚ÄĒwhen all their connections with earth and flesh must be broken, and they must take their flight into strange, unknown regions! So few lamenting their sins! So few crying for mercy and a new heart! So few flying to Jesus!

(Samuel Davies, “The Justice of God‚ÄĒand the Sins of Our Country” 1755)

ūüôŹ Hope: My Testimony By Steve

The sermon of your life in tough times ministers to people more powerfully than the most eloquent speaker.

Bill Bright 

Me  Sarah playing in Church

¬†Please click the photo above to read ‚ÄúMY Testimony‚ÄĚ.

Hi all, after reading and updating ‚ÄúMy Testimony‚ÄĚ this morning‚ĶI realised i hadn‚Äôt shared it for years on here! I know lots of you have read it and left me some proper humbling comments that have just left me in tears(including this morning after i went through a lot of them again). ¬†

If someone like me can be transformed by the reality and power of the Gospel, i know i need to share and make as many people aware of this amazing news of hope‚ĶAs Jesus is the ¬†Way, the Truth and the Life and no-one gets to ¬†the Father but by Him. He‚Äôs the forgiver of Sins, breaker of chains, and the only Salvation! ūüôŹ ūüėĬ†

With all of the personal stories, news reports of suicide and ‚ÄúBlue Monday‚ÄĚ coming up next week…I just wanted to remind people that Jesus has the “Good News‚ÄĚ. I know this as it has happened to me and i want to¬†share¬†it with everyone! ūüėĬ†

As we launch out into another year

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As we launch out into another year

(Arthur Pink, “New Year’s Comfort” 1943)

The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you!¬†He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid–do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

As we launch out into another year, there is little visible prospect of a smooth and pleasant voyage. To the natural eye, the clouds are dark and fierce storms seem imminent. The very uncertainty of what the morrow may bring forth, fills many with uneasiness and trepidation.

But how different should be the state of God’s children!¬†An¬†all-sufficient Object¬†is presented to the eyes of their faith, from which unbelief derives no comfort. The poor¬†worldling¬†is concerned with¬†what¬†lies before him–but it is the blessed privilege of the¬†believer¬†to be occupied with¬†Who¬†goes before him–the One who is his Captain, his Guide, his Forerunner.¬†“The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you!”¬†What a difference that makes! O that writer and reader may be enabled to lay hold of this grand Truth as we enter another period of time, and keep it steadily in mind throughout the coming days!¬†¬†¬†

“Do not be afraid–for I have ransomed you.
¬†I have called you by name–you are Mine!
¬†When you go through deep waters–I will be with you.
¬†When you go through rivers of difficulty–you will not drown.
¬†When you walk through the fire of oppression–you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
¬†For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!” Isaiah 43:1-3

ūüéĄ #23 The Glorious Incarnation ~ Meaning Of Christmas

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¬†‚ÄúThis is the meaning of Christmas. Oh, that God would waken your heart to your deep need for mercy as a sinner! And then ravish your heart with a great Savior, Jesus Christ. And then release your tongue to praise him and your hands to make his mercy shine in yours.‚ÄĚ

John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

 

ūüéĄ #15 The Glorious Incarnation ~ A Giving Love

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¬†‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the kind of love the Father has. It is a giving love. It gives his most precious treasure‚ÄĒhis Son. Meditate on that this Advent. It was a very costly love. A very powerful love. A very rugged, painful love. The meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this love. ‚ÄúGod so loved . . .‚ÄĚ And wonder of wonders, God gives this costly love to an undeserving world of sinners, like us.‚ÄĚ

John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

 

ūüéĄ #14The Glorious Incarnation ~ Christmas Gift

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¬†‚ÄúSay to the next generation again and again: God is truthful; God keeps his word; God does not lie; God can be trusted! That‚Äôs one blessing of Advent. Receive it as a wonderful Christmas gift, and give it to as many people as you can.‚ÄĚ

John Piper, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent

 

Let us ever wear the garment of . . .

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Let us ever wear the garment of . . .

(John Fawcett, “An Essay on Anger” 1824)

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”¬†Colossians 3:12-14

Let us be very assiduous to cultivate . . .
  the Christian virtues of kindness and forgiveness,
  a ready and hearty submission to the Word of God, 
  and a cheerful resignation to His all-wise providence.

Let us be modest, humble, and lowly in our behavior towards men. Let us ever wear the garment of humility, and the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. This will be more to the honor of our divine Savior and more to the credit of our holy religion, than the most exact orthodoxy.

If we are wholly destitute of a true Christian temperament, the mind that was in Christ Jesus–then we are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. It matters not to what sect of Christians we professedly adhere. If pride, anger, wrath, and malice reign in our hearts and govern our lives–then all our religion is hypocrisy!


He shall save His people from their sins!

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He shall save His people from their sins!

(Frank Hall)

“You shall call His name JESUS, for¬†He shall save His people from their sins!” Matthew 1:21

Glorious Jesus, Your name is . . .
  the cure for sin-sick hearts,
  the resting place for the weary pilgrims of Zion,
  heavenly manna for every true Israelite wandering through this barren wilderness of darkness and sin. 

This name, “which is above every name” . . .
  calms the troubled sea within,
  sweetens every bitter trial, 
  illuminates every sad and lonesome path,
  dispels the darkness of doubt and despair,
  and soothes the trembling heart
–of every redeemed child of God.

This precious verse teaches us that Jesus Christ cannot fail to save¬†His people¬†from their sins. He established¬†perfect righteousness¬†for them by His obedience unto death, and obtained¬†eternal redemption¬†for them with His own precious blood. When He shouted from the cross,¬†“It is finished”¬†. . .
  salvation was finished,
¬† God’s holiness was appeased,
  satisfaction for sin was made,
  and judgment was over
–for all the people of God.

God did not send His Son into this world to save¬†all¬†men from their sins; rather, He sent His Son into this wicked world to save “His people” from their sins.¬†¬†

God’s salvation, in its entirety, is for His elect people, who are identified in the Scriptures as “the people of God.” All that the Lord Jesus did, does, and will do–is, has always been, and will always be for His chosen people. He came into this world, was born of a virgin, lived under the law, was in all points tempted like as we are, and perfectly obeyed the will of God in all things for one reason–that He might save His elect people with an everlasting salvation. He¬†loved¬†them,¬†chose¬†them, and¬†gave¬†Himself for¬†them–them, and only them.

He was born for His people. 
He kept the law for His people. 
He suffered for His people. 
He was made sin for His people. 
He died for His people. 
He arose from the dead for His people. 
He ascended into glory for His people. 
He rules all things for His people. 
He intercedes for His people. 
He is coming again for His people.

Listen to the reverberation of¬†God’s distinguishing grace¬†as the apostle Paul sounds the gospel trumpet: “Christ loved¬†the church¬†and gave Himself up for¬†her¬†. . . to present¬†her¬†to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless!” Ephesians 5:25-27


Our dim eyes cannot read the dark pages!

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Our dim eyes cannot read the dark pages!

(J.R. Miller)

“You do not know¬†now¬†what I am doing–but¬†later¬†you will understand.” John 13:7¬†

Peter could not understand why Jesus should so condescend as to wash his feet. It perplexed and puzzled him, and he shrank from submitting to it. Jesus said, “You do not know¬†now¬†what I am doing–but¬†later¬†you will understand.” And so it proved. There came days afterwards when he understood it all, when he knew why his Master had done it–and when he truly saw beauty, wisdom, love, richest instruction, and divine necessity in it.

And the same principle applies all through our life. There are many things in the¬†providence of God¬†which at the time appear dark and obscure–but which the future makes clear and plain. The Lord lays us aside in the midst of our usefulness, He desolates our homes, He breaks our harp-strings, He pours bitterness into our cups of sweetness. Our lives are full of strange, perplexing things–and we do not know what they mean.¬†

Our dim eyes cannot read the dark pages. 
Our dull ears cannot hear the voice of love which speaks out to us from every adverse circumstance. 
Our heavy hearts cannot perceive the love which throbs with full pulse in every darksome event.

But there will come a day when every¬†dark page¬†in our life’s history shall be explained–when all the¬†tangle¬†and¬†confusion¬†shall be unraveled, and the web shall lie before us woven through unto the end, warp and woof, with threads of gold and silver.¬†

This word of Christ is¬†the key to all the dark and strange providences¬†in the life of every believer: “You do not know¬†now¬†what I am doing–but¬†later¬†you will understand.”¬†

One reason for the present obscurity–is our ignorance, or limited knowledge. We know now, only in part. We see now, only through a glass darkly. We are all¬†scholars¬†in God’s school. The lessons set for us seem at first like the pages of an unknown language. We cannot pronounce the words. We cannot understand their meaning. They confuse and perplex us. We see no wisdom, no beauty, no love in them.¬†

But the passing years bring riper wisdom and fuller knowledge. We shall then be able to read them off with ease. Then we shall see that every line held a¬†golden lesson¬†for our hearts–that every dark providence in our lives was one of God’s precious love-thoughts written out for us–and the whole page will glow with divine beauty!¬†

Only fuller knowledge is needed to explain to us much of the mystery of our lives. In the cloudless light and perfect revelation of Heaven–every shadow of mystery will vanish, and the strangest providences will seem as plain and easy as childhood’s first lessons are to ripened and cultured manhood.

Another reason why many of the Lord’s ways seem so strange to us, is because we see them only in their¬†incompleteness. We must wait until they are finished, before we can fully understand what God is doing.¬†

The work of sanctification is the process of painting the features of spiritual and divine beauty on human souls. And in this process, the Divine Artist oftentimes employs trials as His instruments. He first seems to destroy–but tribulation works patience. Many a man learns submission–when the Father’s hand rests so heavily upon him, that he cannot rise.¬†

Many a feature of beauty in the soul–is brought out in the darkness of affliction. The process seems to be destructive–but¬†afterwards¬†it yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Not at the time–but¬†afterwards. When God¬†finishes¬†His work–then it is beautiful and very good.

In the bitterness of his soul Jacob cried out, “All these things are against me!” But these things were not against him–God had not yet finished His work. The final result had not yet been wrought out. All things¬†seemed¬†against him–but he lived to praise the Lord for all the strange providences which appeared so cruel at that hour. These were but the crude blocks out of which God was building up a beautiful home for his old age, and with which He was laying the foundation of future greatness and glory for his family. They were links in a golden chain of blessing.

So it ever is, “You do not know¬†now¬†what I am doing–but¬†later¬†you will understand.” Wait until God has completed His work–and then all shall be well. You¬†may¬†see it even on the earth. Before you close your eyes in death–you may see the good brought out of the seeming evil of your life. But if not, if you die with the mystery still unsolved–then one moment in Heaven will explain all! Then you shall see all things¬†completed. You shall see the¬†web¬†out of the loom–all its beautiful figures perfect, not one thread dropped or tangled. You shall see the¬†temple¬†finished–every block in its place, and the whole adorned with glory. You shall see the¬†picture¬†when the artist has put the last touches to it–and when it appears no more marred and spoiled, as you thought it would be by so much trial–but perfect and beautiful, bearing the likeness of Christ in every feature.¬†

Then you shall see all the dark providences of your life carried out to their final result. You shall see . . .
¬† both the discipline–and its blessing;
¬† both the affliction–and its rich fruits;
¬† both the furnace-fires–and the brilliant gold!

These predominant sins!

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These predominant sins!

(J.A. James, 1785-1859)

Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and¬†the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1¬†

Almost all of us have ‘favorite pet sins’–which there is not ordinarily that concern and labor for putting them away, which there should be. They are indulged, instead of being resisted. Thus they gain strength by such indulgence, and most sadly disfigure our character and disturb our spiritual peace!

Prosperity, like sunshine upon weeds, often causes them to grow rapidly! And then God in great faithfulness, love and mercy sends¬†adversity, like frost, to kill them. Upon a bed of sickness, and in other severe trials–they are often remembered, understood, and seen in all their sinfulness. They are then lamented, confessed, and mortified.¬†

Nothing can be a darker sign than for a professor’s conscience to be so dull and drowsy during a time of trial, as to leave him unadmonished respecting¬†these predominant sins.¬†

It is sometimes a blessed fruit of tribulation, that¬†these predominant sins¬†have been weakened, if not eradicated. It is worth any amount of suffering to secure this result. Happy is the Christian who comes out of the furnace, with his dross removed by the fire! No matter what he has lost–he has gained freedom from these inward enemies of his peace and purity.¬†

We have just published¬†J.A. James’¬†uplifting short article, “White Robes and Palms!


The duty, the privilege, the safety, the unspeakable happiness!

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The duty, the privilege, the safety, the unspeakable happiness!

(John Newton)

“Looking unto Jesus!”¬†Hebrews 12:2

Look unto the Lord Jesus Christ!

Look unto Him as He hung exposed, wounded, bleeding, dead, and forsaken upon the cross! 

Look unto Him again as He now reigns in glory, possessed of all power in Heaven and in earth, with thousands of thousands of saints and angels worshiping Him! And then compare . . .
¬† your sins–with His blood,
¬† your needs–with His fullness,
¬† your unbelief–with His faithfulness,
¬† your weakness–with His strength,
¬† your inconstancy–with His everlasting love!
If the Lord opens the eyes of your understanding, you would be astonished at the comparison!

“Looking unto Jesus” is¬†the duty, the privilege, the safety, the unspeakable happiness, of a believer–are all comprised in that one sentence!

It is by looking to Jesus, that the believer is enlightened and strengthened, and grows in grace and sanctification.

Holiness

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Holiness

(John Angell James,¬†“The True Christian” 1846)

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“You ought to live holy and godly lives.” 2 Peter 3:11

Holiness is a very comprehensive word, and expresses a state of mind and conduct that includes many things. 

Holiness is the work of the Spirit in our sanctification. 

Holiness is the fruit of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Holiness is the operation of the new nature, which we receive in regeneration. 

Holiness may be viewed in various aspects, according to the different objects to which it relates. 

Toward God, holiness is . . .
  supreme love;
  delight in His moral character;
  submission to His will;
  obedience to His commands;
  zeal for His cause;
  seeking of His glory. 

Toward Christ, holiness is . . .
  a conformity to His example,
  imbibing His spirit.

Toward man, holiness is . . .
  charity,
  integrity,
  truth,
  mercy. 

Toward sin, holiness is a hatred of all iniquity, a tender conscience easily wounded by little sins, and scrupulously avoiding them; together with a laborious, painful, self-denying, mortification of all the known corruptions of our heart.

Toward self, holiness is . . .
  the control of our fleshly appetites;
  the eradication of our pride;
  the mortification of our selfishness. 

Toward divine things in general, holiness is . . .
  spirituality of mind, 
  the habitual current of godly thought,
  godly affections flowing through the soul.

And, toward the objects of the unseen world, holiness is heavenly-mindedness, a turning away from things seen and temporal, to things unseen and eternal. 

Oh, what a word is holiness! 
How much does it comprehend! 
How little is it understood, and how much less is it practiced!


Not our home

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Not our home 

(David Harsha, “Immanuel’s Land”)¬†

“For this world is¬†not our home; we are looking forward to our city in Heaven, which is yet to come!” Hebrews 13:14¬†

We are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. This present world is not our home. We are coming up from the wilderness with our faces Zionward; we are traveling to the Celestial City! 

Our path is rough, but the Savior sustains us. 

Our pilgrimage lies through a¬†wilderness, but faith cheers us with a view of the glorious rest of the redeemed in our Father’s house, in mansions of blessedness!¬†

Let this consideration animate us amid the conflicts of life. In a little while we shall obtain a joyous entrance into the glorious rest above. The¬†storms of life’s ocean¬†will soon carry us into the¬†haven of peace, where there is no trouble.

The language of Scripture is, “Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined beyond all remedy!” Micah 2:10

Your Savior, pilgrim Christian, has prepared for you a nobler rest than this polluted world! 

In our Father’s house are many spacious mansions, where your happy spirit, after tasting the¬†bitter cup of life’s sorrow, shall rest in eternal blessedness!¬†

“For this world is¬†not our home; we are looking forward to our city in Heaven, which is yet to come!” Hebrews 13:14¬†

“We would rather be absent from the body, and¬†at home with the Lord!”¬†2 Corinthians 5:8¬†

Though we mourn, we must not murmur

Grace logo Though we mourn, we must not murmur
(John Angell James, “Sorrow for the Death of Friends”)
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life.¬†The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord! Job 1:21
“See, I am the only God. There are no others. I kill, and I make alive.¬†I wound, and I heal, and no one can rescue you from My power.” Deuteronomy 32:39
When a holy and beloved object of our affection is removed by death, we ought to sorrow–humanity demands it, and Christianity, in the person of the weeping Jesus, allows it. The man without a tear, is a savage or a stoic–but not a Christian.
God intends when He bestows His gifts, that they should be received with smiles of gratitude; and when He recalls them, that they should be surrendered with “drops of sacred grief.” Sorrow is an affection implanted by the Creator in the soul for wise and beneficent purposes; and it ought not to be ruthlessly torn up by the roots, but directed in its exercise by reason and piety.¬†
The work of grace, though it is above nature–is not against it. The man who tells me not to weep at the grave–insults me, mocks me and wishes to degrade me! Tears are the silent, pure, sincere testimony of my heart to the excellence of the gift He gave in mercy; and in mercy, no doubt, as well as judgment, He has recalled.
But then, though we mourn, we must not murmur. We may sorrow, but not with the violent and uncontrolled grief of the heathen who have no hope. Our sorrow may flow as deep as we like–but noiseless and still in the channels of submission.¬†
It must be a sorrow so quiet as to hear all the words of consolation which our Heavenly Father utters amidst the gentle strokes of His rod.
It must be a sorrow so reverential as to adore Him for the exercise of His prerogative in taking away what and whom He pleases. 
It must be a sorrow so composed as to prepare us for doing His will, as well as bearing it. 
It must be a sorrow so meek and gentle as to justify Him in all His dispensations. 
It must be a sorrow so confiding as to be assured that there is as much love in taking the mercy away, as there was in bestowing it. 
It must be a sorrow so grateful as to be thankful for the mercies left, as well as afflicted for the mercies lost.
It must be a sorrow so trustful as to look forward to the future with hope.
It must be a sorrow so patient as to bear all the aggravations that accompany or follow the bereavement, with unruffled acquiescence. 
It must be a sorrow so holy as to lift the prayer of faith for divine grace to sanctify the stroke. 
It must be a sorrow so lasting as to preserve through all the coming years of life, the benefit of that event, which, in one solemn moment, changed the whole aspect of our earthly existence.

God’s all wise, gracious, and adorable providence!

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God’s all wise, gracious, and adorable providence!

(Frank Hall)

“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

We often find ourselves in . . . 
  trying circumstances,
  inexplicable difficulties,
  and perplexing situations. 
Experience teaches us daily that life is filled, not with joy and happiness only–but with troubles, heartache, and pain. We prove the words of brother Job every single day of our lives, that,¬†“Man who is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble!”¬†

Is there consolation to be had in such times of trouble? Indeed there is! If there is a verse of Scripture that ministers comfort to my doubting fearful heart, it is the verse before us. Romans 8:28 is . . .
  help for the helpless,
  comfort for those in trouble, and
  a beacon of light that guides believers on the tumultuous sea of life. 

My beloved brothers and sisters in trouble and strife–all remains well with our souls.
  Not only has the Father elected us unto salvation, 
  not only has the Son redeemed us from our sins, 
  not only has the Spirit regenerated us and given us spiritual life, 
but God our Father works all things together for our eternal good! God is our Father, and our God is on His throne ruling all things for the glory of His name, and the everlasting salvation of our immortal souls! 

Who¬†knows? Paul begins this comforting verse with two precious words, “WE know!”¬†¬†
  The people of God know, 
  believers know, 
  the redeemed of the Lord know, 
¬† those who are “the¬†called¬†according to God’s purpose” know.¬†
This is knowledge that only the saints of God have. 
They know, not with a bare theoretical head knowledge–but by faith rooted in their hearts.¬†
They know because God has taught them this knowledge effectually by His Spirit and grace. 
They know because they believe His infallible Word of truth. 
They know in such a way as to find solace and comfort in what He has revealed. 

God’s people are here identified by two distinct characteristics:
  they love God, and 
  they are called according to His purpose. 

1. All of God’s people¬†love¬†God!¬†They love His glorious¬†person¬†and rejoice in all of His¬†perfections¬†as God:
  His righteousness,
  His immutability,
  His holiness,
  His sovereignty,
  His wisdom,
  His power,
  His love,
  His grace. 
They love . . . .
  His will, 
  His Word, 
  His ways, 
  His gospel, 
  His Son, 
  His Spirit, 
  His purpose, 
  His providence, 
  and His people. 
God’s people love God–and all that pertains to God.¬†

2. All of God’s people are “called according to His purpose!”¬†They are a particular, distinct, special people, here named the “called.” They have been graciously and effectually called in grace, by God’s Spirit through the gospel–not according to their works, merit, or choice–but according to God’s eternal purpose which He purposed in Himself before the foundation of the world.¬†¬†¬†

All things do not work together for the good of ALL men–but for God’s people alone, because their God¬†providentially rules¬†over all things for their eternal good and salvation. God rules . . .
  all things,
  all men,
  all angels,
  all demons,
  all circumstances,
  all events,
  in every place,
¬† at all times–
and He does so for the good of His people! 

What¬†do we know? “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!” Things may¬†appear¬†to be against us, but it only¬†seems¬†that way. We should not judge God’s purpose by His providence–but His providence by His purpose. If we judge using the former method, we are sure to misjudge and we will never have peace in this life.¬†

All pleasures, joys, and delights are certainly ruled by our God–but that’s only half of His rule. He rules all¬†evil–as well as all¬†good.¬†
All death, 
all opposition, 
all sickness,
every disaster, 
every problem, 
all our pain, and
all our sorrow–
are¬†sovereignly ruled, governed, ordered, and controlled by our God–to bring about eternal good for our souls. God does not tells us¬†how¬†He does this–only¬†that¬†He does.¬†

Whatever my God brings to pass in time, is the outworking of His purpose of grace–and it’s for my good, whether it be in my little sphere of existence, or in the universe at large.¬†

Oh God help me to believe Your Word! Teach me not only to¬†submit¬†to your providential rule–but to¬†rejoice¬†and¬†rest¬†in it! Set a watch upon my mouth, that I murmur not!¬† Arrest my heart by your grace, and give me peace! Keep me from sinning with my lips and complaining against¬†Your all wise, gracious, and adorable providence, for it is good!¬†

God controls and directs all things with . . .
  infinite power,
  absolute sovereignty, and
  unfailing wisdom and grace!
Nothing can . . . 
  hinder Him from doing His will,
  keep Him from having His way, or
  stop Him from accomplishing His purpose. 

“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

Who am I that God should be so mindful of me?

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Who am I that God should be so mindful of me?

(Frank Hall)

“What is¬†man¬†that You are mindful of him?” Psalm 8:4

What is man that God should even¬†look¬†in his direction? Who am¬†I¬†that the infinite, glorious, triune God should glance my way–much less be mindful of me?

Beloved in Christ, understand that your God is without a doubt ever-mindful of you. He has . . .
  numbered every hair on your precious head,
  appointed the bounds of your habitation, and
  determined the very second of your death. 

He . . .
  bottles your every tear,
  knows your every sorrow, 
  records your every work, and 
  remembers every cup of cold water given in His name. He is deeply concerned for your immortal soul, has purposed to do you good, and has staked His glory on your everlasting salvation. Your God is more mindful of you, your soul, your life, and your welfare than you will ever understand in this life. 

In the light of such staggering knowledge–who¬†God¬†is, and what¬†you¬†are–do you not ask yourself in utter astonishment, “Who am¬†I¬†that God should be so mindful of me?”¬†

As mere creatures such a thought is beyond profound, but as guilty sinners the thought surpasses the unthinkable! 

“Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated!”¬†Romans 9:13¬†

God loved Jacob, and hated Esau. Who am¬†I¬†that I should be identified with the former, and not the latter? Christ died for His elect and put away their sins forever by the sacrifice of Himself–and the rest of humanity He leaves to themselves.¬†

Who am I that my name should be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the foundation of the world? The Sovereign dispenser of all grace and all blessedness has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens. Who am I that I should be a¬†vessel of honor¬†prepared for glory, and not a¬†vessel of wrath¬†fitted for destruction?¬†

Who are we, brothers and sisters, that we should . . .
  partake of the boundless provision of grace in Christ,
  be redeemed, justified, and forgiven,
  should live forever with Him in glory? 

Who are we that the incomprehensibly glorious God would be so mindful of us, that He not only took on our nature, but . . .
 lived a perfect life for us, that we could never live, 
 died a sin-atoning death for us, that we could never die, and 
 satisfied a Law for us, that we could never satisfy? 

“By the grace of God I am what I am!” 1 Corinthians 15:10¬†

The only difference between a¬†saved¬†sinner and a¬†lost¬†sinner–is the difference that God makes by His¬†distinguishing grace!¬†It is not our decisions, lives, prayers, or works that make the difference, but God and God alone.

Though¬†all¬†who read these lines deserve to be in Hell for their sin–God has been pleased to save¬†some¬†freely by His grace. Though all are equally sinful, equally guilty, and equally deserving of everlasting torment–God has been pleased to save some for no other reason than His own glory.

What a pillow on which to rest your aching head

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What a pillow on which to rest your aching head 

(John MacDuff) 

“Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season,¬†if need be, you are in heaviness through many trials.” 1 Peter 1:6¬†

“If need be!”¬†Three gracious words!¬†

Not one of all my tears has been shed for nothing!

Not one stroke of the rod has been unneeded, or that might have been spared! 

Your heavenly Father loves you too much, and too tenderly, to bestow harsher correction than your case requires! 

Is it loss of health, or loss of wealth, or loss of beloved friends? 
Be still! there was a needs be! 

We are no judges of what that “needs be” is. Often through aching hearts we are forced to exclaim, “Your judgments are a great deep!”¬†

But God here pledges Himself that there will not be one¬†unnecessary thorn¬†in the believer’s crown of suffering!

No burden too heavy will be laid on him. 

No sacrifice too great will be exacted from him. 

God will temper the wind to the shorn lamb. 

Whenever the “need be” has accomplished its end, then . . .¬†
  the rod is removed; 
  the chastisement is suspended; 
  the furnace is quenched. 

“If need be!” Oh!¬†what a pillow on which to rest your aching head–that there is not a drop in all your bitter cup but what a God of love saw to be absolutely necessary!¬†

Trust His loving heart–even though you cannot¬†trace His mysterious hand!

Do not be too curious to prying into the “Why¬†it is?” or “How¬†it is?”¬†
But satisfied that “So¬†it is,” and, therefore, that all must be well.

“What I am doing you do not understand¬†now, but¬†afterward¬†you will understand.”¬†John 13:7 ¬†

Broken people!

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Broken people! 

(Don Fortner)

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“The LORD is near to those who have a¬†broken heart, and saves such as have a¬†contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18

A broken heart, a contrite spirit, and a subdued will are rare things, especially in this age in which men everywhere are taught to demand their rights; and the church has become a place where man is exalted and enshrined as though he were God. Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-promotion are the cry of the day. Every man does that which is right in his own eyes. All men by nature are exceedingly proud, selfish people.

Preachers today, knowing man’s natural pride, have capitalized upon it. They have developed a¬†flesh-pleasing theology of pride. Our forefathers exalted the dignity, the majesty, and the supremacy of¬†the eternal God.¬†But the¬†smooth-tongued preachers of deceit¬†in our day have set themselves to exalt the dignity, majesty, and supremacy of¬†puny man!¬†It seems that religion today is dedicated not to the honor of¬†God, but to the honor of¬†man. Its purpose is to make man feel good about himself. Therefore we hear little about . . .
  brokenness of heart, 
  contrition of the soul, and
¬† the subduing of man’s will.

The Lord God declares, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My Word!” (Isaiah 66:2). God will have broken hearts with which to build His kingdom. Sooner or later, the Lord God will bring us to nothingness before His presence. God’s people, all of God’s people are a¬†broken people.

No man has ever experienced the grace of God in salvation, until his heart is thoroughly broken before the holy Lord God, revealed in the crucified Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. If ever a man finds out:
  who he is,
  who God is,
  who the Lord Jesus Christ is,
  and what He has done for sinners
–he will be a broken man!

When Job saw himself in the presence of his three miserable friends, he vindicated himself. But when he stood in the presence of God, he was a broken man; and he spoke as a broken man. He saw¬†himself¬†in all the hideousness of his sin; and he saw¬†God¬†in all the holiness of His glorious majesty. Then he said, “Behold I am vile!¬†I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You. Therefore¬†I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!” There is no pride and egotism here, no haughtiness, no self-vindication. Once Job had seen the Lord–he was broken, he loathed himself and blamed himself. Once Job saw the Lord–he honored God and vindicated Him. The truly broken heart will always vindicate God, no matter the cost.

This brokenness can be produced in proud, stubborn, sinful men and women–only by the saving revelation of Christ in our hearts. Brokenness is found at the cross–only at the cross. Have you been to the cross? Have you had the crucified Christ revealed in your heart? Has your heart been broken by the knowledge of the Lord? O Lord, evermore break our hearts before You!

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

Why me, Lord?

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Why me, Lord? 

(Letters of William Romaine, 1714-1795)

“By the grace of God I am what I am!”

Oh, what was I, that God should set His love upon me before time; and in time to call me to the saving knowledge of His Son, whom to know aright is life eternal? Why me, Lord? 

And what am I even now, since I have felt something of the power of His precious gospel? Why me, Lord? 

What¬†was¬†I, what¬†am¬†I–that I should be¬†eternally chosen¬†and¬†effectually called¬†and¬†perfectly accepted¬†in the Beloved? Not unto me, in the least, not unto me, but unto Your sovereign grace be all the praise!

“Oh, help me to ascribe to You the glory due to Your great name; for I am surrounded, I am loaded with Your benefits. All Your dealings with me show forth Your loving-kindness. In temporals, as well as spirituals, I am singularly favored. Oh, let me never be allowed to rob You of Your glory, but help me to give it all where it is due, in life and death and to all eternity–to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.”¬†


#28 ‚úě 28 Motives to Love Jesus!

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28 Motives to Love Jesus!

(Thomas Doolittle, “Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!” 1693)

#28. Will not love to Jesus best help us to PERSEVERE in the Christian race?           

When trials, suffering and persecution come, only those who truly love Jesus will be able to endure.

 

CONCLUSION 

What shall I say to advance Jesus in your esteem, that you might love Him? Is He not a comprehensive good? Is He not eminently all? There is no goodness in the creature, but it is formally, or virtually, in Jesus. 

Is there wisdom in the creature? There is more in Jesus. 
Is there beauty or power in the creature? There is much more in Jesus. 

“For it pleased the Father, that in Him should¬†all fullness¬†dwell.” Jesus is “full¬†of grace and truth.” This is the One whom I beg you to love. This is He who is¬†altogether lovely and desirable.¬†

Consider now, I plead with you–can you ever imagine a better offer than Jesus? Can you find a better match for your soul? Can you say all this, or any one of all these things–concerning the objects you have loved previous to Jesus?

Oh then say, “I never understood the loveliness of Christ before this! How has¬†sin¬†fooled me! How has the¬†world¬†bewitched me! How has my¬†foolish wicked heart¬†deceived me–that I have lavished my love upon the creature and sin–when there was a Christ to love! Such a Christ to love! Such a good as is not to be found in all the world! Now He alone shall have my heart, my love–my¬†all!”

#27 ‚úě 28 Motives to Love Jesus!

Red Love logo with reflection 

28 Motives to Love Jesus!

(Thomas Doolittle, “Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!” 1693)

#27. Is not love to Jesus the best help against the TEMPTATIONS of Satan?         

Is not Satan your enemy? Is not your heart sometimes anxious to yield to him? But love to Jesus would garrison your hearts, fortify your souls, and make you courageous and resolute against all the batteries of Satan and the assaults of sin. It would make you watchful against the allurements and amusements of the world, so that you would say, “Shall I offend my dearest Lord? Shall I displease Him who has done me such good, such everlasting good? Oh! how can I do this great evil, and sin against Him whom I love!” Do you not find that love forbids, and exceedingly restrains–from grieving, offending or wronging the one whom you entirely love?¬†

Riches and Poverty!

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Riches and Poverty! 

(J.C. Ryle, “Riches and Poverty!“)

Many in every age have disturbed society by stirring up the poor against the rich. But so long as the world is under the present order of things, universal equality cannot be attained.

So long as . . .
  some are wise, and some are foolish;
  some are strong, and some are weak;
  some are healthy, and some are diseased;
so long as children reap the fruit of their parent’s misconduct;
so long as sun, and rain, and heat, and cold, and wind, and waves, and drought, and blight, and storm, and tempest are beyond man’s control–so long will there be inequality in this world.

Take all the property in England by force this day, and divide it equally among the inhabitants. Give every person over twenty years old an equal portion. Let all share alike, and begin the world over again. Do this, and see where you would be at the end of fifty years. You would just have come round to the point where you began! You would just find things as unequal as before!

¬†¬† Some would have worked–and some would have been lazy;
¬†¬† some would have been always careless–and some always scheming;
¬†¬† some would have sold–and others would have bought;
¬†¬† some would have wasted–and others would have saved.
And the end would be that some would be rich–and others would be poor.

We might as well say . . .
  that all people ought to be of the same height, weight, strength, and cleverness;
  or that all oak trees ought to be of the same shape and size;
  or that all blades of grass ought to be of the same length
–as that all people were meant to be equal.

Settle it in your mind that the main cause of all the suffering you see around you, is sin. Sin is the grand cause . . .
¬† of the enormous luxury of the rich–and the painful degradation of the poor;
¬† of the heartless selfishness of the highest classes–and the helpless poverty of the lowest.

Sin must be first cast out of the world;
the hearts of all people must be renewed and sanctified;
the devil must be bound;
the Prince of Peace must come down and take His great power and reign
–all this must be before there ever can be universal happiness, or the gulf be filled up which now divides the rich and poor.

Beware of expecting a millennium to be brought about . . .
  by any method of government,
  by any system of education,
  or by any political party.

Labor to do good to all men; pity your poorer brethren, and help every reasonable endeavor to raise them from their low estate. Do not slacken your hand from any endeavor . . .
  to increase knowledge, 
  to promote morality,
  to improve the temporal condition of the poor.

But never, never forget . . .
  that you live in a fallen world,
  that sin is all around you,
  and that the devil is abroad.


#26 ‚úě 28 Motives to Love Jesus!

Red Love logo with reflection 

28 Motives to Love Jesus!

(Thomas Doolittle, “Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!” 1693)

#26. Is not love to Jesus the most universally NECESSARY love?        

One man loves one thing, and a second another, and a third another. But there is no necessity that all men should love any one thing–except for Jesus, and things pertaining to our having and enjoying Him. Love to Jesus is absolutely necessary for poor and rich, for great and small, for noble and low-born, for learned and unlearned, for slave and free.¬†

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