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Grace Gems

Discussion in 'Daily Devotionals' started by 357magnum, Jan 10, 2010.

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  1. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    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!

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    Good News! -- The Holy Bible is the WORD OF GOD! -- God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit - The Creator Of All Things! -- "GOD'S GRACE" and "OUR WORKS" -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1623 to 1863 ) -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1961 to 2001 ) -- JESUS CHRIST - VERY GOD - LORD - SAVIOUR - MESSIAH - KING
     
  2. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain

    (Arthur Pink, "The Ten Commandments")

    "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, who takes His name in vain." Exodus 20:7

    This commandment bids us to speak of God with that frame of spirit which is agreeable to His dignity and solemnity and the majesty: that is, with the utmost sincerity, humility and reverence. O what high thoughts ought we to entertain of such a Being! In what holy awe should we stand of Him!

    Anything pertaining to God should be spoken of with the greatest sobriety.

    God’s Name is taken in vain--when we use it without due consideration and reverence. Whenever we make mention of Him before whom the seraphim veil their faces--we ought seriously and solemnly to ponder His infinite majesty and glory--and bow our hearts in deepest prostration before that Name.

    God's Name is not to be sported with and tossed to and fro upon every light tongue. O my reader, form the habit of solemnly considering whose Name it is you are about to utter. It is the Name of Him who is present with you, who is hearing you pronounce it. He is jealous of His honor, and He will dreadfully avenge Himself upon those who have slighted Him!

    It has become almost impossible to walk the streets or to enter mixed company without hearing the sacred Name of God treated with blasphemous contempt. The novels of the day, the stage, and even radio (and more lately television, the cinema, and the press) are terrible offenders, and without doubt this is one of the fearful sins against Himself, for which God is now pouring out His judgments upon us.

    God is dreadfully incensed by this sin, and in the common commission of this Heaven-insulting crime, our country has incurred terrible guilt! "The Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His Name in vain." Sore punishment shall be his portion, if not in this life, then most assuredly so, eternally so, in the life to come!

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    Good News! -- The Holy Bible is the WORD OF GOD! -- God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit - The Creator Of All Things! -- "GOD'S GRACE" and "OUR WORKS" -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1623 to 1863 ) -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1961 to 2001 ) -- JESUS CHRIST - VERY GOD - LORD - SAVIOUR - MESSIAH - KING
     
  3. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    I am a living commentary!

    (Letters of John Newton)

    We are poor, weak, inconsistent creatures--if left but a little to ourselves.

    When I think how cold, dull and heartless I have been; how often I have wandered, how often trifled upon the brink of temptation; when I consider what powerful, vigilant, and subtle enemies are combined against me; and how many professors have fallen on my right hand and my left--I am amazed at the greatness of His mercy in preserving me! I am a living commentary, that there is forgiveness with Him--and that He is able to save to the uttermost!

    "Hold me up--and I shall be safe!" Psalms 119:117

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    Good News! -- The Holy Bible is the WORD OF GOD! -- God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit - The Creator Of All Things! -- "GOD'S GRACE" and "OUR WORKS" -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1623 to 1863 ) -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1961 to 2001 ) -- JESUS CHRIST - VERY GOD - LORD - SAVIOUR - MESSIAH - KING
     
  4. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    An infallible test of our real self

    (J. R. Miller, "Psalm 19" 1912)

    We have a beautiful prayer at the close of Psalm 19: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." There could be no higher standard of life, than is set for us in this prayer.

    The conduct may be blameless--while the thoughts are stained with sin. It is easier to keep our acts without fault--than to keep our feelings, our desires, and our affections pure. We may do no outward act of cruelty or unkindness; while our hearts may be full of jealousies, envies, and all selfishness. We are to seek that our thoughts be so white and clean--that they will be acceptable in God's sight.

    The prayer covers our words, our thoughts, and our meditations; each a closer test than the one before. It is a great thing to be faultless in speech--but perfect grammar is not enough. Our words may be beautiful and graceful--and yet our thoughts may be full of hypocrisy, of deceit, of all evil! The prayer here is that our thoughts may please God. This is a higher spiritual attainment, than merely faultless words.

    Then, a still higher test of life--is our meditation. Meditations are our deepest thoughts, the quiet ponderings of our hearts. Meditation is almost an obsolete word in these times of hustle and bustle. The word belongs rather to the days when men had much time to think--and think deeply. We meditate when we are alone, when we are shut away from others. Our minds then follow the drift of our own desires, dispositions, and imaginations. If our hearts are clean and good--our meditations are pure and holy. But if our hearts are evil and unclean--our meditations are of the same moral quality. Thus, our meditations are an infallible test of our real self. "As a man thinks in his heart--so is he." Proverbs 23:6

    This prayer is, therefore, for a life of the highest character--one acceptable to God, not only in words and thoughts--but also in meditations. Such a life, everyone who loves God and would be like God--should seek to live!

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  5. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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

    (J. R. Miller, "The Way of Safety", 1912)

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

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

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

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

    We need to guard against carelessness concerning 'little sins'. The hidden fault lurking in the nature--may grow into a presumptuous sin!

    Sow a thought--and you will reap an act;
    sow an act--and you will reap a habit;
    sow a habit--and you will reap a character;
    sow character--and you will reap a destiny!

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

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

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    Good News! -- The Holy Bible is the WORD OF GOD! -- God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit - The Creator Of All Things! -- "GOD'S GRACE" and "OUR WORKS" -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1623 to 1863 ) -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1961 to 2001 ) -- JESUS CHRIST - VERY GOD - LORD - SAVIOUR - MESSIAH - KING
     
  6. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    A god who does not rule all things absolutely

    (Don Fortner)

    "Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him!" Psalms 115:3

    A god who does not rule all things absolutely is no God at all--but only a weak, frustrated, defeated idol, carved from one of the trees in the dark forest of man’s depraved imagination!

    "I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths!" Psalms 135:5-6

    "All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have You done?' " Daniel 4:35

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    Good News! -- The Holy Bible is the WORD OF GOD! -- God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit - The Creator Of All Things! -- "GOD'S GRACE" and "OUR WORKS" -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1623 to 1863 ) -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1961 to 2001 ) -- JESUS CHRIST - VERY GOD - LORD - SAVIOUR - MESSIAH - KING
     
  7. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    For final revision and approval

    (J. R. Miller, "Readings from the Psalms", 1912)

    "No good thing will He withhold, from those who walk uprightly." Psalm 84:11

    This may seem to be a surprising statement at first glance. Does God withhold no good thing from His people? We must focus on the word "good". It is not merely the things which we want--that God always gives. Nor is it not the things which we think are good--that God gives. Perhaps they are not really 'good things'--as God sees them. We must always leave to Him--to decide whether they are good or not. He is wiser than we are--and knows just what effect on us, the things we crave would have. We must submit all our requests to Him--for final revision and approval, when we make them.

    This is the teaching about prayer, so prominent in the New Testament, which bids us to add to all our most earnest pleadings: "Nevertheless not my will--but may Your will be done." If the thing we ask for does not come--we must therefore conclude that in God's sight, it is not a "good thing" for us. Thus it is--that God's withholdings are as great a blessing to us--as His bestowings!

    There is another phrase here, which we must study. It is "from those who walk uprightly" that God will withhold no good thing. It is only when we are walking obediently, in God's ways--that we have a right to claim this promise. For, "if I regard iniquity in my heart--the Lord will not hear me!" Psalm 66:18

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    Good News! -- The Holy Bible is the WORD OF GOD! -- God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit - The Creator Of All Things! -- "GOD'S GRACE" and "OUR WORKS" -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1623 to 1863 ) -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1961 to 2001 ) -- JESUS CHRIST - VERY GOD - LORD - SAVIOUR - MESSIAH - KING
     
  8. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    If you were to meet yourself on the street some morning

    (J. R. Miler, "Looking One's Soul in the Face" 1912)

    "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!" Psalm 139:23-24

    It will be worth our while--to think seriously of the things in us--that only God can see. There are sins which are hidden from ourselves, of which our conscience is not aware--our unknown errors. The evil in us which lies too deep to be discovered. There is a SELF in us, which even we ourselves do not see! There are depths of our being--into which our own eyes cannot pierce. You may say that you know of no sins, errors, or faults in yourself, and you may be sincere; still this is not evidence that you are sinless.

    Our conscience is not the final court. It is not enough to have the approval of our own heart. There are errors and evils in the holiest life on earth--which only God's eye can detect. We must ask God to search us, if we would be made clean.

    We cannot see our own faults--even as our neighbors can see them. There is wisdom in the wish that we might see ourselves, as others see us--for it would free us from many a blunder and foolish notion.

    We are prejudiced in our own favor. We are disposed to be charitable toward our own shortcomings. We make all sorts of allowances for our own faults. We are wonderfully patient with our own weaknesses. We are blind to our own blemishes. We look at our good qualities through magnifying glasses; and at our faults and errors with the lenses reversed--making them appear very small. We see only the best of ourselves.

    If you were to meet yourself on the street some morning--that is, the person God sees you to be--you would probably not recognize yourself!

    We remember the little story that the prophet Nathan told King David, about a rich man's injustice toward a poor man, and how David's anger flamed up. "This man must die!" cried the king. He did not recognize himself--in the man he so despised, until Nathan quietly said, "You are the man!"

    We are all too much like David.

    If the true chronicle of your life were written in a book, in the form of a story, and you were to read the chapters over--you probably would not identify the story as your own!

    We do not know our real self. We do not imagine there is so much about us that is morally ugly and foul, that is positively wicked. But God searches and knows the innermost and hidden things of our heart!

    "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way!"

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    Good News! -- The Holy Bible is the WORD OF GOD! -- God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit - The Creator Of All Things! -- "GOD'S GRACE" and "OUR WORKS" -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1623 to 1863 ) -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1961 to 2001 ) -- JESUS CHRIST - VERY GOD - LORD - SAVIOUR - MESSIAH - KING
     
  9. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    A wonderful Mecca for weary pilgrims

    (J. R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible")

    Every church should be in its community, as nearly as possible--what Christ would be--if He lived again in human form in a house just where the church stands.

    Imagine Jesus living here, and people coming to Him just as they used to do when He had His home for many months at a certain home on a certain street in Capernaum. Would not our church become a wonderful Mecca for weary pilgrims? The sorrowing, would come to find comfort. People having problems and perplexities, would come to have them solved. Those who have stumbled and fallen, would come to be forgiven and helped to start again. The weary, would come to get rest. This corner would be a great resort--for all who feel any need of help.

    Then all who come--would find a home for their souls here. We know how Christ welcomed all who came to Him. He was everybody's friend! No one was ever turned away from Him, unhelped. The church should be to the people who come to it--what Christ was to those who came to Him. It should be a true home of the soul.

    It is in a spiritual way, that the church should chiefly serve us. Some people forget this, and think that it is the business of the church to provide entertainment for those who come to it. We sometimes hear people complain that the church does nothing to furnish 'good times' for the young. But frankly, that is not the purpose of the church.

    Are schools--public schools, high schools, colleges--established to entertain those who come to them? Places of amusement are established to entertain--but the purpose of a school is to teach, to educate, to train the mind, to develop the intellect.

    Just so, the mission of a church is not to amuse, to provide fun and entertainment--but to lead people to Christ, to train them in Christian duties, to build up godly character in them, and to prepare them for usefulness and service to the souls of men.

    Entertainment is never to be the great purpose of the church. The aim must always be to honor God--and make the worshipers more holy!

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    Good News! -- The Holy Bible is the WORD OF GOD! -- God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit - The Creator Of All Things! -- "GOD'S GRACE" and "OUR WORKS" -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1623 to 1863 ) -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1961 to 2001 ) -- JESUS CHRIST - VERY GOD - LORD - SAVIOUR - MESSIAH - KING
     
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    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    The sin of wasting life!

    (J. R. Miller, "Numbering our Days", 1912)

    "So teach us to number our days aright--that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

    What is it to number our days?

    One way is to keep a careful record of them. That is a mathematical numbering. Some people keep diaries and put down everything they do--where they go, what they see, whom they meet, the books they read. But mere adding of days is not the numbering that was in the thought of the Psalmist.

    There are days in some lives--that add nothing to life's treasures, and that leave nothing in the world which will make it better or richer. There are people who live year after year--and might as well never have lived at all! Simply adding days--is not living! If that is all you are going to do with the new year--you will only pile up an added burden of guilt.

    Why do people not think of the sin of wasting life?

    If you saw a man standing by the sea--and flinging diamonds into the water--you would say he was insane. Yet some of us are standing by the sea--and flinging the diamond days, one by one, into its dark floods! Mere eating and sleeping, and reading the papers, and going about the streets, and putting in the time--is not living!

    Another way of numbering our days, is illustrated by the story of a prisoner who when he entered his cell, put a mark on the wall for each of the days he would be incarcerated. Then each evening he would rub off one of these marks--he had one day less to stay in prison.

    Some people seem to live much in this way. Each evening--they have on day less to live. Another day is gone, with its opportunities, its privileges, its responsibilities and its tasks--gone beyond recall.

    Now, if the day has been filled with duty and love and service--its page written all over with pure, white thoughts and records of gentle deeds--then it is well; its passing need not be mourned over. But merely to have to rub it off at the setting of the sun, leaving in it nothing but a story of idleness, uselessness, selfishness, and lost opportunities, is a sad numbering!

    What is the true way of numbering our days? The prayer tells us, "So teach us to number our days aright--that we may gain a heart of wisdom." That is, we are so to live--that we shall get some new wisdom out of each day to carry on with us.

    Life's lessons cannot all be learned from books. The lessons may be set down in books--but it is only in actual living--that we can really learn them.

    For example, patience. You may learn all about patience from a sermon, from a teacher, or from a book, or even from the Bible. But that will not make you patient. You can get the patience--only by long practice of the lesson, in life's experiences.

    Or take gentleness. You can read in a few paragraphs what gentleness is, how it lives. But that will not make you gentle.

    Take thoughtfulness. You can learn in a short lesson what it is and how beautiful it is. But you will not be thoughtful, the moment you have learned the definition. It will probably take you several years--to get the beautiful lesson learned.

    "So teach us to number our days aright--that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

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    Good News! -- The Holy Bible is the WORD OF GOD! -- God The Father, God The Son, God The Holy Spirit - The Creator Of All Things! -- "GOD'S GRACE" and "OUR WORKS" -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1623 to 1863 ) -- Thanksgiving Proclamations ( 1961 to 2001 ) -- JESUS CHRIST - VERY GOD - LORD - SAVIOUR - MESSIAH - KING
     
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    There is no spot in you!

    (Charles Spurgeon)

    "You are absolutely beautiful, My beloved! There is no spot in you!" Song of Solomon 4:7

    Having pronounced His Church positively full of beauty--our Lord confirms His praise by a precious negative, "There is no spot in you!" As if the thought occurred to the Bridegroom that the carping world would insinuate that He had only mentioned her lovely parts--and had purposely omitted those features which were deformed or defiled--He sums up all by declaring her universally and entirely lovely, and utterly devoid of stain.

    A spot may soon be removed, and is the very least thing that can disfigure beauty--but even from this little blemish, the believer is delivered in his Lord's sight. If He had said there is no hideous scar, no horrible deformity, no repulsive ulcer--we might even then have marveled. But when He testifies that she is free from the slightest spot--all these other forms of defilement are included, and the height of wonder is increased.

    If He had but promised to remove all spots in heaven, we would have had eternal reason for joy. But when He speaks of it as already done--who can restrain the most intense emotions of satisfaction and delight! O my soul, here is marrow and fatness for you; eat your full, and be satisfied with royal dainties!

    Christ Jesus has no quarrel with His spouse. She often wanders from Him, and grieves Him--but He does not allow her faults to affect His love. He sometimes chides--but it is always in the tenderest manner, with the kindest intentions--it is "My love" even then. There is no remembrance of our follies. He does not cherish ill thoughts of us--but He pardons and loves as well after the offence--as before it! It is well for us that it is so, for if Jesus were as mindful of injuries as we are--how could He commune with us? Our precious Husband knows our silly hearts too well--to take any offence at our follies and faults!

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    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    Oh, live for eternity!

    (Mary Winslow)

    What poor creatures we are--if left to ourselves!

    What a mercy there is One that loves us better than we love ourselves, and will watch over us all our journey here, and who has engaged, by all the varying dispensations of His providence, to prepare us for that blessed home He has gone to prepare for us.

    And oh, what a place will that be!

    Love Him supremely!

    Live for eternity!

    Live for Jesus!

    Have much to do with Him!

    This world is not worth living for!

    Its honors, its riches, its glories are things ever passing away; but the love of Jesus is as eternal as Himself.

    Oh, live for eternity! The glory of this world is fading, and is soon gone, and gone forever!

    Again I say, live for a glorious eternity!

    If you could have the glory, the wealth, and the honors of this world laid at your feet--how short would be the empty enjoyment of them.

    Then, live and act with reference to eternity!

    And oh, the glory that awaits the true follower of Christ, who has cast overboard all that the world calls good and grand, and taking the Bible as his directory, walks as Jesus did.

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    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    They could burn--but they could not turn!

    (J. R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible")

    "As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music--you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up! Whoever does not fall down and worship--will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace!" Daniel 3:5-6

    Every child knows this story. It is one of the classics of Christian households. We will never have to meet precisely the same trial of faith, that these three Hebrew children had to meet; but we need just as heroic a spirit--in order to be faithful.

    Imposing images are set up even now in many a place--and all are expected to bow down to them--and woe to him who does not kneel!

    We all have opportunity enough to be heroic. The popular religion of today, is inclined to limpness of the knees. We have grown wonderfully tolerant in these modern days! We bow to almost anything--if it happens to be fashionable.

    "Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music--all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up!"

    But there were some whose knees did not bend!

    "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king: O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king--that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up!" Daniel 3:16-18

    Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were all young men who were in peculiar circumstances. They were away from home, out from under parental influence and restraints, and exposed to very strong temptation. They had now their choice between duty--and the fiery furnace! We should study this lesson for its example of heroic devotion to duty, regardless of consequences. Even yet, the world's promotion is obtainable ofttimes--only at the price of a trampled conscience!

    There are several things to note in these young men.

    Note their calmness; they displayed no excitement, no heat of passion. The peace of God ruled in their hearts.

    Note also, their sublime courage. They had a contempt of death. They feared only one thing--sin!

    Note also, their trust in God. They committed the matter utterly into His hands. They did not know what He would do--but they were sure it would be the right thing.

    The king wanted to give them another chance, as he preferred not to burn such useful servants; but they told him there was no need for a second opportunity. They would have no other answer to give. They could make no possible change in their decision. The thing that was demanded of them was contrary to the plain law of their God--and that settled it forever. There was no room for discussion or for deliberation or for persuasion--when it was the law of God that was concerned. They could burn--but they could not turn!

    It would save many people a great deal of weighing, balancing, and discussing of fine points--if they would act always on this principle--that the Word of God is final in all matters of duty. When a thing is forbidden in the Word--that should be the end of it.

    But too many people parley with such matters--and usually end in yielding to sin. It is never safe to parley with temptation!

    It would be well if all our modern Christians had the sublime moral courage of these three Hebrew children.

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    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    Our words and deeds are irrevocable

    (J. R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible")

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    This is not an easy lesson to learn!

    (J. R. Miller, "The Law of Love")

    Christ did not so much give rules for special cases--as principles to govern all conduct.

    "I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you." Luke 6:27

    Loving enemies is not a natural affection.

    This is not an easy lesson to learn!

    It is never easy to be a Christian.

    The easy way does not lead toward heaven!

    The lesson of love continues, "Bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you." Luke 6:28

    These counsels are intensely practical. In answer to men's cursings, revilings and insults--we are to return words of peace, kindness and love. Those who mistreat us--we are to pray for, instead of uttering threats against them, or imprecations upon them.

    We remember how Jesus Himself lived out this law of love. There were many who cursed Him and reviled Him--but He never lost the sweetness of love out of His heart. He never on any occasion returned a word of cursing or anger or even of impatience--in response to the bitterest revilings of His enemies. "When He was reviled--He did not revile in return; when suffering--He did not threaten, but committed Himself to the One who judges justly." 1 Peter 2:23

    That is the example for us. We are to be silent when others speak evil of us or to us; or, if we speak, it is to be the soft answer that turns away wrath. We need not worry ourselves about the deserts of those who treat us unjustly, feeling that we should see to their punishment. We are to leave that to God--who judges righteously and who will take care also that no real harm shall come to us, from the wrongs which others inflict on us, provided we keep ourselves in His love and in an obedient spirit.

    The lesson has its ideal exemplification in our Lord's prayer on His cross for His murderers. His only answer to the driving of the nails through His hands and feet was, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!" That is the way He wants us to answer the cruelties and injuries which others may inflict upon us!

    We must be ready to endure not one--but many injuries from the others. We must be unresisting, like our Lord. No wrongs from others--should ever turn our love to hate. Christ's own life was an illustration of this. He was treated wrongfully at every step--but His heart never lost its sweetness, its gentleness, its patience, its desire to bless others and do them good.

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    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    These poor swine!

    (J. R. Miller, "A Troubled Soul")

    "A man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet Him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones!" Mark 5:2-5

    In this demoniac, we have a sample of the work of Satan--when he gets full control in a man. He destroys every beautiful thing in the life, and leaves only ruin! No chains could bind this demoniac. When sin is on the throne, all other influences and constraints become like spiders' threads in comparison! No chain is strong enough to bind the man--who has yielded himself to the sway of the Evil One! The love of a godly mother is a strong bond--but many a child tears off this holy chain and rushes into wayward and evil paths! Home ties are strong--but these too are broken asunder, by the victim of Satan's ungodly rule.

    We see that the demoniac cut and gashed himself with stones. This illustrates what in many ways, Satan's captives do. They may not literally go about cutting their flesh with knives or bruising their bodies with stones; but they do gash and bruise their souls! Sin always wounds the life--and one of its fearful consequences is the self-destruction it works. Every sin one commits leaves an ugly scar! We grieve God by our wrongdoing, and we harm others when we sin against them; but we always injure ourselves--by every evil word we speak, by every wrong act we commit, even by the evil thoughts we think in our hearts. The self-hurt of sin is one of its saddest consequences!

    Demons find their pleasure in working mischief, and in ruining lives. Godly men count that day lost--in which they have done no act of kindness to another. Demons count the day lost--in which they have stained no pure soul or led no one into sin!

    We ought to tear off Satan's mask and show him as he is! Evil comes to us pretending to be a friend. It holds flowers in its hands and whispers entrancing words, promising rich rewards: "Only do this--and it will bring you pleasure, honor, wealth and joy!" That is the way sin talks. But this is all false. Sin is never a friend to man. It never does good to anyone--but always harm. However plausibly Satan may present his temptations under the guise of pleasure--his secret aim is to destroy the soul he tempts. Nothing gives the Evil One so much pleasure--as to see a fair and beautiful life--stained and debauched!

    It is most comforting to us, to find that Christ is able to dislodge even the most obdurate and persistent demon! No one could bind this demoniac, nor resist his superhuman strength. But at His word--the foul spirit was compelled to leave the man he had possessed for so long. No human hand can break the chains of sinful habits. No mere resolution can free one from Satan's bondage. Only Christ can set the devil's captives free! Those who have long been trying in vain to reform, to break away from evil practices--see in Christ, the Friend who alone can deliver them and save them. No demon-power can resist His command. Only Christ can free the poor slaves of Satan, and save them from his terrible sway!

    "The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the swine. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned!" Mark 5:13

    In the swine, under demoniac possession, rushing down the steep cliff and perishing in the lake--we have another illustration of the end of all Satan's ruinous work. It is with men--as it was here with the swine. It never yet has been known that Satan impelled anyone upward to a better life or to anything noble and lofty; he always drives down sin's steep ways--into choking floods. God's ways leads upward--it is always uphill to Christ and to heaven. But the devil always drives downward. These poor swine, demon-possessed, rushed down the steep bank, into the lake--and perished. Just so do human souls, demon-possessed, rush down sin's precipitous course and perish!

    It would be well to keep this dreadful picture in our mind when we are tempted in any way by the devil; for if we follow him--this is the way it will surely end with us!

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    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    The object in putting these verses in the Bible

    (J. R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible")

    Malachi 1:
    The LORD Almighty says to the priests: "You have despised My name!"

    But you ask, "How have we ever despised Your name?"

    "You have despised My name by offering defiled sacrifices on My altar!"

    Then you ask, "How have we defiled the sacrifices?"

    "When you bring blind animals for sacrifice--is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals--is that not wrong?" says the LORD Almighty.

    The Jewish law required that every sacrifice offered unto God, must be without blemish. No lame, blind, or diseased animal would be accepted. It was an insult to God to bring to His altar anything that was maimed, blemished or worthless. Yet the people had been taking the best of everything for themselves, and then bringing the refuse--the blind and lame animals--as offerings to God!

    Well, how is it with ourselves? The object in putting these verses in the Bible--was not to get us to condemn the people who lived twenty-three hundred years ago! It was to make us think whether WE are doing this base thing ourselves!

    Do we give God the best of all we have--our best love, our best gifts, our best service? Or do we take the best of all for ourselves--and then give God the blind and the lame?

    How many people in the church, when the collection plate is being passed, pick out the smallest bit of money--to put in the plate! We give our strength to our own work or leisure, and then have only our weariness to bring to God. We save our best things for ourselves, and then have only worthless things to offer our wondrous King! What kind of service are we giving to our glorious Lord?

    The Lord's answer to the arrogant defense of the priests is startling: "Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not at all pleased with you--and I will not accept your offerings!"

    What do WE bring to God--when we go through the forms of prayer, when we sing the sacred words of our hymn, when we make our offerings, when we sit down at the Lord's table? If there is only words, words, words in all our worship--no heart, no love, no real presenting of ourselves to God, no laying of our best on the altar--God has no pleasure in us and will not accept our offerings at our hand!

    "Now these things occurred as examples to keep US from setting our hearts on evil things as they did." 1 Corinthians 10:6
     
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    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace

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    Their religion was all a pious farce!

    (J. R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible")

    "Go to Bethel and sin! Go to Gilgal and sin yet more! Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings--boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do!" declares the Sovereign LORD. Amos 4:5-6

    "Go to Bethel and sin!" cried the prophet. Bethel was their place of worship--but every time they came there, they sinned because their worship was sin. Instead of bowing before the true God and adoring Him, they bowed before idols and gave them the honor which belonged to God alone. The more devout they were, therefore, the more they dishonored the Lord. Their great zeal, as shown in their sacrifices and tithes and free-will offerings, only multiplied their sin and heaped up sorer judgment against them!

    Their religion was all a pious farce, and the more there was of it--the more of an abomination it was unto God. God cannot be pleased with mere forms of worship and with ceremonials. The more we multiply these, the more do we grieve Him--if our heart is not in them.

    We may say that we have no idols now in our churches; but are we sure of this? Do we truly worship God in our church services? When we sing the hymns--are our hearts fixed upon God? When we pray--are we really talking to God? When we confess sins--is the confession sincere? When we sit in God's house--are we truly in God's presence, breathing out our heart's love and worship to Him? If not, what or whom are we adoring, praising, worshiping? Empty religious forms--must have some idol at the heart of them!

    The prophet told them very plainly what was in their hearts. "This is what you love to do!" You love this! You love to make a great display in your religion. This display of piety--is just to your taste. You like to cover up your sins--with forms of worship, appearing as saints before the world, though in secret cherishing and practicing all manner of wickedness!

    This is God's own picture of these ancient 'worshipers'. We need to look honestly at it--to see if it is OUR picture. God looks at the heart! No external appearances are of any value--unless they are genuine expressions of what is in the heart! Pirate ships carry reputable flags--to cover their dishonorable character. Religious hypocrisy often puts at its masthead, the colors of devout saintliness. But God cannot be deceived.

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    A mere scratch of a pin

    (J. C. Ryle)

    "For what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his own soul?" Mark 8:36

    The loss of the soul is the heaviest loss that can befall a man. The worst and most painful of diseases; the most distressing bankruptcy of fortune; the most disastrous shipwrecks; are a mere scratch of a pin--compared to the loss of a soul. All other losses are bearable, or but for a short time, but the loss of the soul is forever! It is to lose God, and Christ, and heaven, and glory, and happiness--to all eternity. It is to be cast away forever, helpless and hopeless in hell!

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    We begin at the lowest grade

    (J. R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible")

    "Learn from Me--for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

    All of Christian life is a school. "Learn from Me," said the Master. We are only beginners when we first become Christians, and enter Christ's school. We begin at the lowest grade. We do not have to wait until we know a great deal before we begin to attend school. School is not for finished scholars--but for the most ignorant. We may come to Christ when we know almost nothing. He is the teacher--and all believers are learners.

    "Learn from Me--for I am gentle." Gentleness is a lesson which we are to learn. It will probably take us a good long while to learn this lesson--but we must learn it because it is in Christ's curriculum for all His students.

    Contentment is another lesson which we must learn. When he was well along in life, Paul said, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation." It was a long and difficult lesson for him to learn.

    Patience is a lesson that has to be learned. An impatient person is not a complete Christian.

    Thoughtfulness is a necessary lesson. There are a great many thoughtless Christians. They are always blundering in their interactions with others. They say the wrong word, they do the wrong thing. They are always hurting other people's feelings, giving pain to gentle hearts. Yet it is all from thoughtlessness. "I didn't mean to offend him. I didn't mean to be unkind. I just never thought!" There are few lessons in Christian life that more people need to learn, than this of thoughtfulness.

    We have to learn to trust. Worry is a sin. It is probably as great a sin as dishonesty or profanity or bad temper. Yet a good many Christian people worry--and one of the most important lessons in Christ's school, is to learn not to worry.

    Kindness is a lesson we must learn. It takes many years to learn the one little lesson of kindness.

    Joy is a lesson to be learned.

    Peace is another.

    Humility is another necessary lesson.

    Praise is a great lesson.

    All of life is a school, and it is in learning these lessons--that Jesus says we shall find rest for your souls. Christ Himself is our teacher, and with Him we should never fail to learn, though it be only slowly. Then as we learn our lessons, our lives will grow continually more and more into quietness, peace and Christlikeness.

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