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Grace Gems

Discussion in 'Daily Devotionals' started by 357magnum, Oct 14, 2016.

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  1. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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

    (J.C. Pittman, 1917)

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

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

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

    Paul has a word concerning the sin of worrying. "Do not worry about anything." The reason is because we are in God's world, and He is able and willing to take care of all His people. "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

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

    John Wesley said: "I dare not worry--any more than I dare curse and swear!"
     
  2. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    Now I am accursed indeed!

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

    "If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ--let him be Anathema! (or accursed)." 1 Corinthians 16:22

    To be Anathema is to be cursed really--sentenced to real pains and real torments. These will be . . .
    so great,
    so grievous,
    so many,
    so extreme,
    so continual,
    and so universal--
    that they shall wring out a confession from you: "Now I am accursed indeed!"

    To lie in these flames which cannot be quenched, to burn in this fire in which I cannot be consumed--is such a curse, and so intolerable, that will make you curse the day in which you were born, and curse the time you ever lived in this world--because not better improved, to escape that curse you lie under in Hell.

    You shall cry out and roar, "Woe is me--a poor miserable wretch! I am tormented in this place, and cannot have one drop of water to refresh and cool my parched tongue! Woe is me--a poor cursed scoundrel! I am in pain--in extremity of pain--and have no ease! Alas! I toss and tumble in this bed of flames, and cannot rest! If I wander from one side of Hell unto another--I cannot find one corner where I might have a little rest! Oh! cursed creature, that I did not love Christ! If I had loved Christ as much above the world, as I loved the world above Christ--then I might have been among the blessed saints, and not in the midst of such a cursed crew! Had I loved Christ so much more than sin, as I loved sin more than Christ--then I might have been a blessed one. But because I did not love Christ--I am now this cursed wretch! I am as cursed as cursed can be! I was told that, for lack of love to Christ--this would be my accursed state. And now, for lack of love to Jesus--it is my accursed state forever! I was told that if I do not love Christ--I would be Anathema! I did not love Christ--and now I am Anathema!"
     
  3. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    God's School!

    (Francis Bourdillon, "Alone with God--Helps to Thought and Prayer, for the Use of the Sick")

    "Teach me what I do not see." Job 34:32

    I am now especially in the school of God. He has taken me aside to teach me. The whole world is a training place, and all of God's dealings with His redeemed children are to teach and discipline them. But God is giving me more than general teaching now. He has taken me aside from the great school of the world, to speak to me alone--doubtless because I need this special teaching.

    It is my earnest desire to learn of God. It is my great wish that this time of severe illness may not be sent to me in vain. Lord, give me a humble and teachable heart. Let no pride or hardness or carelessness of mine--come between me and Your teaching, nor hinder me from receiving the impressions of Your grace.

    "Teach me what I do not see." There is much that I do not see.
    There is much in the Word of God that has, I am sure, a deeper and more spiritual meaning than I have yet attained to seeing.
    I am not fully acquainted with my own heart.
    I have but a faint and shallow knowledge of the riches of God's grace in Christ Jesus.

    I do not fully see His precise purpose in sending me this present illness. I know that it comes to me for good, and that He takes me aside to teach me--but I would know His gracious will more clearly and distinctly, so that I may learn the very lessons which He is teaching me, and receive the very blessing which He designs for me.

    "Teach me what I do not see!" Lord, I turn to You as my teacher. I am blind and ignorant--but You know all. All that it would be for my soul's good to see and know--graciously teach me. Open my heart to understand the Scriptures--may Your Spirit unfold Your Word to me.

    Teach me to know myself--let me see myself, not in the light of self-esteem, or in that of the world's opinion, but as I am in Your sight.

    Reveal Christ to me more fully. Let me know more of His unsearchable riches. Cause my heart to be more deeply affected with His dying love, and teach me to clearly see the infinite value of His great atonement.

    Whatever special fault You mean to correct by this chastisement--enlighten my conscience to see it.

    Whatever in my way of life You would have me to change, as contrary to Your will--oh, show it to me now for Your mercy's sake.

    "Teach me." I might read books, or I might ask man's advice. I do not disregard either. But now, O my God, that You have taken me thus aside--now I turn to You as my teacher. Who teaches like You? Oh, teach me now--teach me by Your Spirit--teach me Yourself.

    Teach me, as You alone can teach--in my heart. Let me not only understand Your holy will--but experience it and follow it. Let me not only have an insight into Your truth and Your dealings--but let me receive a deep and lasting experience of Your grace, and may my every thought be brought into subjection to You.

    Teach me by whatever means You may see good to use. I do not ask so much that this time of trial may be shortened, and that Your chastening hand may be removed--as that I may receive all the blessings of such a time, and profit fully by Your chastening.

    Lord, I would not choose--choose for me. Order all for me. Keep all in Your own gracious hand. Deal with me after Your own wisdom and love. Only "Teach me what I do not see"--yes, all that I ought to see and know for my soul's health. By Your dealings, by Your Word, by Your Spirit--graciously teach me!
     
  4. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    The bosom of Jesus

    (Octavius Winslow, "The Loving, and the Loved" 1864)

    "This was the one who had reclined on Jesus' bosom at the supper . . . " John 21:20

    The bosom of Jesus still pillows the head of the weary, loving disciple of the Lord. There is no real rest for the soul, but in Jesus.

    Where should the Christ-loved, the Christ-loving disciple lean, with his sins and sorrows, with his weariness and want--but upon the bosom of his Lord? It is the place of repose, of faith, and of love.

    There is room for you there amid the countless ones who fly to it for consolation, safety, and repose. Go and lean with your burden, your grief, and your sin--where the beloved disciple reclined; and you shall realize the blessedness of the oneness, confidence, and affection which exist between Jesus and all the disciples whom He loves.
     
  5. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    I am sure they would not admit you to their fellowship!

    (Charles Spurgeon)

    "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25

    If you wait until you find a perfect church--then you must wait until you get to Heaven.

    Even if you could find a perfect assembly on earth, I am sure they would not admit you to their fellowship, for you are not perfect yourself.

    Find out those people who are nearest to the Scriptures, who hold the truth in doctrine and in practice, and are most like the New Testament church--and then cast in your lot with them, and you will be blessed in the deed.
     
  6. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    In everything give thanks!

    (Thomas Watson, "All Things for Good")

    "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

    See what cause the saints have to be frequent in the work of thanksgiving! In this, Christians are defective; though they are much in supplication--yet they are little in thanksgiving. The apostle says. "In everything give thanks!" 1 Thessalonians 5:18

    Why so? Because God makes everything work together for our good.

    We thank the physician, though he gives us a bitter medicine which makes us nauseated--because it is to make us well. We thank any man who does us a good turn; and shall we not be thankful to God--who makes everything work for good to us?

    God loves a thankful Christian! Job thanked God when He took all away: "The Lord has taken away--blessed be the name of the Lord!" Job 1:21. Many will thank God when He gives; Job thanks Him when He takes away, because he knew that God would work good out of it.

    We read of saints with harps in their hands--an emblem of praise. Revelation 14:2. Yet we meet many Christians who have tears in their eyes, and complaints in their mouths! But there are few with their harps in their hands--who praise God in affliction.

    To be thankful in affliction--is a work peculiar to a saint.
    Every bird can sing in spring--but few birds will sing in the dead of winter!
    Everyone, almost, can be thankful in prosperity--but a true saint can be thankful in adversity!

    Well may we, in the worst that befalls us, have a psalm of thankfulness--because God works all things together for our good. Oh, be much in giving thanks to God!

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    And did the Holy and the Just,
    The Sovereign of the skies,
    Stoop down to wretchedness and dust,
    That guilty worms might rise?

    Yes, the Redeemer left His throne,
    His radiant throne on high,
    (Surprising mercy! love unknown!)
    To suffer, bleed, and die!

    He took the dying traitor's place,
    And suffered in his stead;
    For man (O miracle of grace!)
    For man, the Savior bled!

    Dear Lord, what heavenly wonders dwell
    In Your atoning blood!
    By this are sinners snatched from Hell,
    And rebels brought to God!

    What glad return can I impart
    For favors so divine?
    O take my all, this worthless heart,
    And make it wholly Thine!
    Anne Steele, 1859
     
  7. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    The grace of God exempts no one from trouble!

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

    "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
    But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years." Luke 1:6-7

    Let us mark in this passage, the heavy trial which God was pleased to lay on Zachariah and Elizabeth. We are told that they had no child. The full force of these words can hardly be understood by a modern Christian. To an ancient Jew, they would convey the idea of a very weighty affliction. To be childless, was one of the bitterest of sorrows. (1 Samuel 1:10)

    The grace of God exempts no one from trouble! As righteous as this holy priest and his wife were--they had a "crook in their lot." (Ecclesiastes 7:13)

    Let us remember this, if we serve Christ--and let us not count trials as strange things. Let us rather believe that a hand of perfect wisdom is measuring out all our portion; and that when God chastises us--it is to make us "partakers of His holiness." (Hebrews 12:10)

    If afflictions drive us nearer to Christ, the Bible, and prayer--then they are positive blessings. We may not think so now. But we shall think so, when we wake up in the eternal world.
     
  8. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    A subtle leaven which the heart is always ready to receive!

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

    "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees--which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be made known." Luke 12:1-2

    The first thing that demands our attention in these verses, is Christ's warning against hypocrisy.

    This is a warning of which the importance can never be overrated. It was delivered by our Lord more than once, during His earthly ministry. It was intended to be a standing caution to His whole church in every age, and in every part of the world.

    It was meant to remind us that the principles of the Pharisees are deeply ingrained in human nature--and that Christians should be always on their guard against them. Hypocrisy is a subtle leaven which the heart is always ready to receive! It is a leaven which once received into the heart, infects the whole character of a man's Christianity. Of this leaven, says our Lord, in words that should often ring in our ears--of this leaven, beware!

    Let us ever nail this caution in our memories, and bind it on our hearts. The plague is around us on every side! The danger is at all times. What is the essence of Romanism, and formalism, and ceremonialism? What is it all, but the leaven of the Pharisees under one shape or another? The Pharisees are not extinct! Pharisaism lives still.

    If we would not become Pharisees--then let us cultivate a 'heart religion'. Let us realize daily that the God with whom we have to do, looks far below the outward surface of our profession, and that He measures us by the state of our hearts. Let us be real and true in our Christianity. Let us abhor all part-acting, and affectation, and semblance of devotion--put on for public occasions, but not really felt within.

    Our hypocrisy may deceive man, and get us the reputation of being very religious--but it cannot deceive God. "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be made known."

    Whatever we are in religion--let us never wear a cloak or a mask of religion.

    "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account!" Hebrews 4:13
     
  9. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    What is the best remedy against the fear of man?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    "I fear God," said Colonel Gardiner, "and therefore there is no one else that I need fear." It was a noble saying of martyred Bishop Hooper, when a Roman Catholic urged him to save his life by recanting at the stake, "Life is sweet and death is bitter. But eternal life is more sweet--and eternal death is more bitter!"
     
  10. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    There is no such thing as "chance," "luck," or "accident" in the Christian's journey through this world!

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

    "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that can do no more. . . . Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid--you are worth more than many sparrows!" Luke 12:4-7

    The last thing that demands our attention in these verses, is Christ's encouragement to persecuted believers. He reminds them of God's providential care over the least of His creatures: "Not one sparrow is forgotten by God!" He goes on to assure them that the same Fatherly care is engaged on behalf of each one of themselves: "The very hairs of your head are all numbered!"

    The providential government of God over everything in this world is a truth of which the Greek and Roman philosophers had no conception. It is a truth which is especially revealed to us in the Word of God. Just as the telescope and microscope show us that there is order and design in all the works of God's hand, from the greatest planet down to the least insect--so does the Bible teach us that there is wisdom, order, and design in all the events of our daily life. There is no such thing as "chance," "luck," or "accident" in the Christian's journey through this world! If we profess to be believers in Jesus Christ--then all is arranged and appointed by God. "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

    Let us seek to have an abiding sense of God's hand in all that befalls us. Let us strive to realize that our Father's hand is measuring out our daily portion--and that our every step is ordered by Him.

    A daily practical faith of this kind, is one grand secret of happiness--and a mighty antidote against murmuring and discontent!

    We should try to feel in the day of trial and disappointment--that all is right, and that all is well done. We should try to feel on the bed of sickness--that there must be a "needs be" for it. We should say to ourselves, "God could keep these afflictions away from me--if He thought fit. But He does not do so, and therefore they must be for my advantage. I will lie still, and bear them patiently. Whatever pleases God--shall please me!"

    Nothing whatever, whether great or small, can happen to a believer--without God's ordering and permission.
     
  11. 357magnum

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    The voyage of life!

    (John Newton's Autobiography, "Out of the Depths!")

    All true believers walk by the same rule, and mind the same things:
    the Word of God is their compass,
    Jesus is both their polar star and their sun of righteousness,
    their hearts and faces are all set Zion-ward.
    Thus far they are as one body, animated by one spirit. Yet their experience, formed upon these common principles--is far from being uniform.

    The Lord, in His first call, and His following dispensations, has a regard to the situation, temper, and talents of each--and to the particular services or trials which He has appointed them for. Though all believers are tried at times--yet some pass through the voyage of life much more smoothly than others. But he "who walks upon the wings of the wind, and measures the waters in the hollow of His hand," will not allow any of whom He has taken charge, to perish in the storms--though, for a season, perhaps, many of them are ready to give up all hopes.

    We must not, therefore, make the experience of others, in all respects--a rule to ourselves.
    Nor are we to make our own experience--a rule to others.
     
  12. 357magnum

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    The way to do good is to amuse people!

    (J.C. Ryle, 1884)

    A great change has taken place in the last forty years. A quantity of church work is continually being carried on both by clergymen and laymen, which, however well-meant, can hardly be called Christian--and in reality has a painful tendency to throw true Christian work into the background, if not to throw it entirely out!

    No one, for instance, can fail to observe that a large number of professors are spending all their time and strength on church music, church decorations, church programs, and an incessant round of church attractions. Others are equally absorbed in social work, feeding the poor, and improved dwellings for everyone. Others are incessantly getting up popular concerts, secular lectures, and evening recreations. They proclaim everywhere, that the way to do good is to amuse people!

    Others are always occupied with secular guilds, and societies, and associations--and think you very wrong and heathenish if you do not join them. Myriads of professors are restlessly busy about such things from one end of the land to the other; and superficial observers are often saying, "What a great deal of church-work there is in these days!"

    Now I would not for a moment be supposed to mean that all the things I have just mentioned are wrong and wicked. Yet I doubt whether the present state of things is altogether healthy. I doubt whether the work of the Holy Spirit on hearts and consciences, is not insensibly being left out in the cold and neglected. Amidst the incessant hustle and bustle about matters of entirely secondary importance--I doubt whether the sort of direct spiritual work to which the Apostles wholly gave themselves, receives as much attention as it ought.

    It is quite certain that musical services, and church decorations, and concerts, and bazaars, and social work, and the like--will not save souls.

    It is equally certain that, without repentance, and faith, and holy living, and practical, self-denying, kindly charity--no one is fit for Heaven. Do these simple, old-fashioned graces fill the place which they ought to do, in the daily proceedings of many so-called church-workers in this day? I confess I doubt it exceedingly.

    I certainly see on every side a vast increase of what people call "church-work." But there is little or no increase of true religion. There undoubtedly is more show and glitter and display. But I extremely doubt whether there is more spiritual reality, and more growth of practical godliness.
     
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    In this precious Book!

    (John Newton)

    "From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness--that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work!" 2 Timothy 3:15-17

    Set a high value upon the Word of God. All that is necessary to make you wise to salvation is there--and there alone.

    In this precious Book, you may find . . .
    a direction for every doubt,
    a solution of every difficulty, and
    a promise suited to every circumstance you can be in.

    There you may be informed of your disease caused by sin--and the remedy provided by grace.

    In the Scriptures, you may be instructed to know . . .
    yourselves,
    Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
    the wonders of redeeming love,
    the glories of the Redeemer's person,
    the happiness of the redeemed people,
    the power of faith, and
    the beauty of holiness.
    All are here fully and clearly represented.

    Nothing is lacking in the Scriptures to make . . .
    life useful and comfortable,
    death safe and desirable, and
    to bring down something of Heaven upon earth.

    But this true wisdom can be found nowhere else. If you wander from the Scriptures, in pursuit either of present peace, or future hope--then your search will surely end in disappointment.

    This is the fountain of living waters! If you forsake it, and give the preference to broken cisterns of your own devising--then they will fail you when you most need them.

    Rejoice, therefore, that such a treasure is put into your hand--but rejoice with trembling. Remember this is not all you need--unless God likewise gives you a heart to use the Scriptures aright--then your privilege will only aggravate your guilt and misery.
     
  14. 357magnum

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    He sees the nails and spear in every iniquity!

    (Charles Spurgeon)

    The heart of Christ became like a reservoir in the midst of the mountains. All the tributary streams of iniquity, and every drop of the sins of His people--ran down and gathered into one vast lake--as deep as Hell and as shoreless as eternity. All these met, as it were, in Christ's heart--and He endured them all!

    Sin is horrible to a believer--because it crucified his Savior! He sees the nails and spear in every iniquity!

    We cannot bear sin. When it is near us, we feel like a wretch chained to a rotting carcass--we groan to be free from the hateful thing.

    A very little sin, as the world calls it--is a very great sin to a true Christian!
     
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    Sentenced to Hell by this one Scripture!

    (John Flavel)

    "I will place My Spirit within you, and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances." Ezekiel 36:27

    The design and end of God in the infusion of the Spirit of grace, is practical holiness and obedience. The indwelling Spirit of God . . .
    elevates their minds,
    sets their affections upon heavenly things,
    purges their hearts from earthly dross, and
    fits them for a life of holiness and obedience.

    None are more forward to claim the privileges of religion--than those who reject the duties of it. Multitudes hope to be saved by Christ--who yet refuse to be governed by Him. But such hopes have no Scripture warrant to support them--yes, they have many Scripture testimonies against them!

    "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10

    O how many thousand vain hopes are laid in the dust, and how many thousands of souls are sentenced to Hell by this one Scripture!
     
  16. 357magnum

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    He goes to the forest--and chooses the most suitable 'rod' to correct us!

    (James Smith, "Divine Chastening" 1859)

    "You shall also consider in your heart, that, as a man chastens his son--so the Lord your God chastens you." Deuteronomy 8:5

    Our heavenly Father loves us just as much when He frowns--as when He smiles upon us.

    The Lord Himself chastens His children. He never allows His children to be flogged by others, nor keeps a drill-sergeant to do it. He Himself chastens every redeemed child.

    He selects the instrument. He does not take up a rod that may 'by chance' lay before Him–just because it comes first to hand. No, no! He goes to the forest--and chooses the most suitable 'rod' to correct us! Proud man always imagines that God . . .
    has chosen the wrong rod,
    or strikes on the wrong place,
    or corrects at the wrong time.
    But depend upon it--it is all right. If He . . .
    strikes the body,
    or seizes the property,
    or removes the family member,
    or alienates the friend,
    or afflicts the soul--
    it is all done in infinite wisdom, and perfect love.

    He numbers His strokes. Not one too many, nor one too few--but just the right number is appointed. LESS would not humble the proud heart, bend the stubborn will, or turn back the wandering feet. MORE would unduly depress, give Satan an occasion against us, or harden our hearts. Believer, you shall never have one more stroke than your Heavenly Father has appointed--nor will He appoint one more than is necessary!

    He marks the effects of the rod. He watches to see the effect produced by every stroke. If we fall at His feet, humble ourselves before Him, confess our sins, and appeal to His mercy--we take hold of His strength, and the chastisement soon ceases.

    Sanctified correction always . . .
    embitters sin,
    brings us nearer to God,
    softens our spirits,
    humbles our hearts,
    produces penitence, and
    leads us to admire the wisdom and love of God.

    Chastisement is designed to improve our characters--these, at best, are very imperfect. In order therefore to make us more watchful, prayerful, diligent, and devout--our heavenly Father uses the rod. And, if at any time we are left long without it, we become . . .
    lukewarm,
    careless,
    indifferent,
    conformed to the world,
    and carnally minded.

    When the tear of penitence is seen in our eye--the rod soon drops from His hand! Or, if the discipline is continued--then such comfort, peace, and meekness flow into the soul--that we call it sweet affliction, and bless His dear name for it.

    Nor can we then pray for the removal of the rod--but only for its deeper sanctification. We creep close to His feet, look up in His paternal face, catch His loving eye--and almost swoon with pleasure, humility, and love!

    He makes the rod beneficial to us. He corrects us, not for His pleasure--but for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. He uses the rod . . .
    to convince us of our folly,
    to keep us sensible of His authority,
    to make us smart for our inconsistencies,
    to bring us to repentance, and
    to make us cautious, tender, and humble.

    Whatever end He fixes upon--is beneficial; and whatever end He fixes upon--He will bring to pass. So that we may well say, even when smarting under the rod, "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

    He loves us too well, to give us any unnecessary pain--and He is too wise to allow our follies to go uncorrected.
     
  17. 357magnum

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    The devil's old delusion!

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

    "John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire!" Luke 3

    We have, in these verses, a specimen of John the Baptist's ministry. It is a portion of Scripture which should always be especially interesting to a Christian mind.

    We should first mark the holy boldness with which John addresses the multitudes who came to his baptism. He speaks to them as a "brood of vipers!" He saw the rottenness and hypocrisy of the profession which the crowd around him were making, and uses language descriptive of their case.
    His head was not turned by popularity.
    He did not care who was offended by his words.
    The spiritual disease of those before him was desperate, and of long standing--and he knew that desperate diseases need strong remedies!

    Well would it be for the Church of Christ, if it possessed more plain speaking ministers in our days--like John the Baptist.

    A morbid dislike to strong language;
    an excessive fear of giving offence;
    a constant flinching from directness and plain speaking--
    are, unhappily, too much the characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit.

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

    There are two texts which are too much forgotten by Christian preachers. In one it is written, "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you." Luke 6:26. In the other it is written, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men--or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were trying to please men--I would not be Christ's servant." Galatians 1:10

    We should mark, also--how plainly John speaks to his hearers about HELL and danger!
    He tells them that there is a "coming wrath!"
    He speaks of "the ax" of God's judgment--and of unfruitful trees being "thrown into the fire!"

    The subject of HELL is always offensive to human nature. The minister who dwells much upon it--must expect to find himself regarded as barbaric, violent, unfeeling and narrow-minded!

    Men love to hear "smooth things," and to be told of peace, and not of danger. Isaiah 30:10

    But the subject of Hell is one that ought not to be kept back, if we desire to do good to souls. It is one that our Lord Jesus Christ brought forward frequently in His public teachings. That loving Savior, who spoke so graciously of the way to Heaven--has also used the plainest language about the way to Hell.

    Let us beware of being wise above that which is written, and more charitable than Scripture itself. Let the language of John the Baptist be deeply engraved on our hearts. Let us never be ashamed to avow our firm belief, that there is a "coming wrath" for the impenitent; and that it is possible for a man to be lost, as well as to be saved.

    To be silent on the subject--is dreadful treachery to men's souls. It only encourages them to persevere in wickedness, and fosters the devil's old delusion in their minds, "You shall not surely die!" Genesis 3:4

    That minister is surely our best friend--who tells us honestly of danger, and warns us, like John the Baptist, to "flee from the wrath to come!"

    Never will a man flee--until he sees that there is real cause to be afraid.
    Never will he seek Heaven--until he is convinced that he is on his way to Hell.

    The religion in which there is no mention of Hell--is not the religion of John the Baptist, or of our Lord Jesus and His apostles!
     
  18. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    No sin can be little!

    (John Bunyan)

    No sin can be little, because it is committed against the great God of heaven and earth.

    To commit little sins--the sinner must find a little god!

    "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace!" Ephesians 1:7

    "The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:7
     
  19. 357magnum

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    Think of all the hard things there are in your life

    (Susannah Spurgeon, "Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898.)

    "Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You!" Jeremiah 32:17

    "Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?" Jeremiah 32:26-27

    Dear reader, your difficulties and trials may not be similar to those of "the weeping prophet"--but they are very real, and seemingly insurmountable to you. It is a fact that, of yourself, you can neither overcome nor endure them. So I want to remind you that the Lord's hand is not shortened--that what was true of His power in Jeremiah's time, is as certainly true today. Whatever present hardship may press upon you, or whatever burden may be weighing you down--you, yes, you may look up to Him with confident faith, and say, "There is nothing too hard for You!"

    Oh, the blessed peace which such an assurance brings! I do not know what your particular sorrow or hardship may be--but I do know that, whatever its nature--cruel, or bitter, or hopeless--it is as "nothing" to Him! He is able to deliver you--as easily as you can call upon Him for support and help.

    Now, dear friend, think of all the hard things there are in your life:
    poor circumstances,
    difficult duties,
    grievous pains,
    sore struggles,
    bitter disappointments,
    harsh words,
    sinful thoughts,
    a hard heart of your own,
    a hard heart in others.
    Gather all these, and many more together, and pile them one on another until you have one great mountain of afflictions--and your God still calmly asks the question: "Is there anything too hard for Me?"

    When our hearts are weary of life's cares and crosses, when our courage flags because of our helplessness, and we cry out with the patriarch, "All these things are against me!"--then what a support and stronghold is the fact that our God has all power in heaven and on earth! There is nothing too mighty for Him to manage--there is nothing too insignificant to escape His notice! Jeremiah's faith . . .
    sees no obstacles,
    stumbles at no hindrances,
    faints under no burden,
    shrinks from no responsibilities
    --because he realizes the sublime Omnipotence of God, and fortifies himself by calling to remembrance His "outstretched arm" in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Cannot we do likewise?

    I took up a book in a leisure moment the other day, opened it carelessly, and this is what I read: "It is a scientifically proved fact, that this great globe on which we live, spins around on its axis at the rate of a thousand miles an hour, and propels through space in its orbit at a speed immensely greater!"

    The thought of this, seemed almost to take away my breath! Was I calmly and constantly living in the swirl of such a stupendous miracle as this? Then surely I could say, "Ah, Lord God! there is nothing too hard for You! My little troubles and afflictions--how small they must be to You! Yet with what tender compassion, do You stoop from guiding the worlds in their courses--to support and comfort the hearts of those who fear You!"

    Never let us give up in despair, while we have such a God to trust in. If there is a great mountain of sorrow or difficulty in your way, dear friend--do not be cast down by the darkness of its shadow. Your God can either make a way for you through it--or He can guide you around it--or, just as easily, He can carry you right over it! There is nothing too hard for Him! Expect Him to make the crooked things straight, and to bring the high things low. And while you keep humbly at His feet, He will work wondrously, and you shall see His salvation!
     
  20. 357magnum

    357magnum AKA: Tom - Saved By Grace Supporter

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    Your daughter is dead!

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

    "While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. 'Your daughter is dead!' he said." Luke 8:49

    Let us notice in this verse--how universal is the dominion which death holds over mankind. We see death coming to a rich man's house, and tearing from him the desire of his eyes with a stroke!

    Such tidings as these, are the bitterest cups which we have to drink in this world. Nothing cuts so deeply into man's heart--as to part with beloved ones, and lay them in the grave. Few griefs are so crushing and heavy--as the grief of a parent over the death of an only child.

    Death is indeed a cruel enemy! He makes no distinction in his attacks. He comes to the rich man's mansion--as well as to the poor man's cottage. He does not spare the young, the strong, and the beautiful--any more than the old, the infirm, and the grey-haired. Not all the gold of Australia, nor all the skill of doctors--can keep the hand of death from our bodies, in the day of his power. When the appointed hour comes, and God permits him to smite--then our worldly schemes must be broken off, and our darlings must be taken away and buried out of our sight.

    These thoughts are melancholy, and few like to hear of them. The subject of death is one that men shut their eyes at, and refuse to look at. "All men think all men mortal, but themselves!" But why should we treat this great reality in this way? Why should we not rather look the subject of death in the face, in order that when our turn comes--we may be prepared to die?

    Death will come to our houses, whether we like it or not. Death will take each of us away--despite our dislike to hearing about it. Surely it is the part of a wise man to get ready for this great change.

    Why should we not be ready? There is one who can deliver us from the fear of death. Christ has overcome death, and "brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." He who believes on Him, has everlasting life. Though he dies--yet shall he live.

    Let us believe in the Lord Jesus--and then death will lose his sting. We shall then be able to say with Paul, "To me, to die is gain!" Philippians 1:21
     
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