Grace Gems for February, 2018

Trials are medicinal!

(John Newton)

Trials are medicinal. They are designed by God to correct or to restrain or to cure — the maladies of our souls.

Though He puts forth His hand, and seems to threaten our dearest comforts — yet when we remember that it is His hand, when we consider that it is His design, His love, His wisdom, and His power — we cannot refuse to trust Him!

Every affliction in the life of the believer — is designed by God and sovereignly implemented by Him.

"Before I was afflicted I went astray — but now I obey Your Word!" Psalm 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted — so that I might learn Your decrees." Psalm 119:71

"I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75

Christ's suffering was punitive — the Christian's suffering is restorative.
The cup which Christ drank, was filled with Divine wrath — the cup of suffering which God calls His children to drink, is only medicinal to promote their chief good.

Like heavy weights on a grandfather clock — trials are necessary for the Christian life to operate properly.
God will allow nothing to grieve us — but what He intends to employ as means for our greater advantage.

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So far as we attain to this — we are secure from disappointment!

(John Newton)

One of the greatest privileges and brightest ornaments of our profession, is a sweet acquiescence in the Lord's will — founded in a persuasion of His wisdom, holiness, sovereignty and goodness. So far as we attain to this — we are secure from disappointment!

Our own limited views and short-sighted purposes and desires — may be, and will be, often over-ruled. But then our main and leading desire, that the will of the Lord may be done — must be accomplished.

How highly does it befit us, both as creatures and as sinners — to submit to the appointments of our Maker! And how necessary it is to our peace!

This great attainment is too often unthought of, and overlooked. We are prone to fix our attention upon the second causes and immediate instruments of events — forgetting that whatever befalls us is according to His purpose, and therefore must be right and seasonable in itself, and shall be productive of good in the final outcome. From hence arise impatience, resentment, and secret repinings — which are not only sinful, but tormenting.

Whereas, if all things are in His hand; if the very hairs of our head are numbered; if every event, great and small, is under the direction of His providence and purpose; and if He has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which everything that happens is subordinate and subservient — then we have nothing to do, but with patience and humility to follow as He leads, and cheerfully to expect a blessed outcome.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:12

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The God of contemporary Christianity!

(A.W. Tozer)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The most important thing about us!

(A.W. Tozer)

What comes into our minds when we think about God, is the most important thing about us!

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base — as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason, the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself. And the most portentous fact about any man, is not what he at a given time may say or do — but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.

Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid — for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech.

Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain, is the thought of God. The weightiest word in any language, is its word for God.

That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God, is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him — our creedal statements are of little consequence.

A right conception of God is basic not only to theology — but to practical Christian living as well. There is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics — which cannot be finally traced to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.

It is my opinion that the current Christian conception of God is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God, and actually to constitute something amounting to a moral calamity!

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My coward heart!

(A.W. Tozer)

Father, I want to know You — but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from You the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my self — so that You may reign there without a rival. Deliver me from the tyranny of things — and from the idols of my heart. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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The error of textualism

(A.W. Tozer)

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

"But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name — He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14:26

"When He, the Spirit of truth comes — He will guide you into all truth." John 16:13

The doctrine of the inability of the human mind to understand divine teaching and the need for divine illumination, is so fully developed in the New Testament, that it is nothing short of astonishing that we should have gone so far astray concerning the whole issue.

Evangelicalism has stood aloof from Liberalism in self-conscious superiority, and has on its own part fallen into the error of textualism — which is simply orthodoxy without the Holy Spirit.

Everywhere among Conservatives we find people who are Bible-taught, but not Spirit-taught. They conceive truth to be something which they can grasp with the mind. If a man holds to the fundamentals of the Christian faith — then he is thought to possess divine truth.

But that is an incorrect assumption. The Bible is a supernatural book — and can be understood only by supernatural aid!

Conservative Christians in this day are stumbling over this truth. We need to re-examine the whole thing. We need to learn that truth consists not in correct doctrine — but in correct doctrine plus the inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. A re-preachment of this vital truth could result in a fresh breath from God upon a stale and suffocating orthodoxy.

Most Christians see Bible knowledge as something to be stored away in the mind, along with an inert mass of other facts.

The modern scientist has lost God, amid the wonders of His world.
And we Christians are in real danger of losing God, amid the wonders of His Word!

Scripture truths must be experienced — before we can really know them.

"Lord, I do believe in the authority of the Scriptures, and thank You for that foundation of truth. But I need to remember that even the inspired text is not alive — until the Holy Spirit takes it and enlightens the recipients. May the Spirit indeed take what I teach and embed it in the hearts and minds of my hearers. Amen."

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The Bibles of worldlings!

(Charles Spurgeon, 1889)

Newspapers are the Bibles of worldlings!
How diligently they read them!

Here they find . . .
  their law and profits,
  their judges and chronicles,
  their epistles and revelations!

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The cross of popular evangelicalism!

(A.W. Tozer)

"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24

The cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament.

It is, rather — a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity.

The old cross slew men — the new cross entertains them.

The old cross humbled men — the new cross amuses them.

The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh — the new cross encourages it.

The old cross brought tears and blood — the new cross brings laughter.

The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the cross. Before that cross it bows, and toward that cross it points with carefully staged histrionics — but upon that cross it will not die, and the reproach of that cross, it stubbornly refuses to bear.

We must do something about the cross, and only one of two things we can do — flee from it, or die upon it.

The man who takes up the cross no longer controls his destiny — he lost control, when he picked up his cross. That cross immediately became to him an all-absorbing interest, an overwhelming passion. No matter what he may desire to do, there is but one thing he can do — that is, move on toward the place of crucifixion!

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!" Galatians 6:14

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The Lord is my Shepherd — I shall not want!

("Every Day!" 1872)

"The Lord is my Shepherd — I shall not want!" Psalm 23:1

"I shall not want!" Surely not! He is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep; and if He has loved me, and given Himself for me — then what will He withhold?

Oh that I knew Him better, and trusted Him as He deserves! Then I would be kept quiet from fear of evil, and be ever assured that He will supply all my needs, according to His riches in glory.

Do I need guidance? The Good Shepherd goes before His sheep — He instructs and teaches us in the way we should go.

Do I wander — and need to be reclaimed? He seeks and finds His straying ones, "He restores my soul, and leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."

Am I wounded? He binds up my wounds, and heals me.

Do I need rest and refreshment? "He makes me to lie down in green pastures, and leads me beside the still waters."

Do I need encouragement? "His rod and His staff, they comfort me."

Do I need provision? "He spreads a table before me in the presence of my enemies."

My Shepherd is infinitely wise and kind and gracious. Surely then, "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!"

"The Lord my Shepherd is,
 I shall be well supplied;
 Since He is mine, and I am His,
 What can I want beside?"

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A life once spent, is irrevocable

(Adoniram Judson)

Of how much real happiness we cheat our souls — by preferring a trifle to God! We have a general intention of living a consecrated life — but we intend to begin tomorrow or next year. For the present moment, we prefer living for our trinkets, and say, "A little more sleep, a little more slumber." Well, a little more sleep — and we shall sleep in the grave! A few more days — and our work will be done. And when it is once done, it is done to all eternity.

A life once spent, is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity.
If it is marked with sins — the marks will be indelible.
If it has been a useless life — it can never be improved.
Such it will stand forever and ever.

The same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it — it will exhibit forever. It will always remain true — that such a day was spent in such a manner. Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny. No day will lose its share of influence in determining where our place shall be in Heaven.

How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It will then be too late to mend its appearance.

It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked.

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The great woe is not the presence of these religious toys and trifles

(A.W. Tozer)

"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the LORD Almighty! Zechariah 4:6

You know, the Church started out with a Bible, then it got a hymnbook, and for years that was it — a Bible and a hymnbook. The average church now certainly wouldn't be able to operate on just a hymnbook and the Bible. Now we have to have all kinds of religious bunk. A lot of people couldn't serve God at all without at least a vanload of equipment to keep them happy.

Some of these attractions that we have to win people and keep them coming may be fine, or they may be cheap. They may be elevated, or they may be degrading. They may be artistic, or they may be coarse — it all depends upon who is running the show! But the Holy Spirit is not the center of attraction, and the Lord is not the one who is in charge. We bring in all sorts of anti-Scriptural and unscriptural claptrap to keep the people happy and keep them coming.

As I see it, the great woe is not the presence of these religious toys and trifles — but the fact that they have become a necessity, and the presence of the Eternal Spirit is not in our midst!

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That my dear friend, is about the end of any nation!

(Adrian Rogers)

"For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work — he shall not eat.' We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy — they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ — to settle down and earn the bread they eat." 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

You cannot legislate the poor into freedom — by legislating the wealthy out of freedom.

What one person receives, without working for — another person must work for, without receiving.

The government cannot give to anybody — anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them; and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for — that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation!

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

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Have you ever wondered what a church full of Pharisees would be like?

(Adrian Rogers)

Have you ever wondered what a church full of Pharisees would be like?
   1. They would all attend every service.
   2. They would all tithe.
   3. They would all work in the church.
   4. They would all go to Hell!

"Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!" Matthew 23:15

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Short pithy quotes from Adrian Rogers

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Our sins were the nails that nailed Him to that tree — and our hard hearts were the hammers that drove those nails!

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Reputation is what others think about you.
Character is what God knows about you.

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If you live for this world — then you are in the junk business. It's all just premature junk!

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Some people go to to Hell — with a chest full of Sunday school attendance pins!

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Anything you love more, fear more, serve more, or value more than God — is your idol!

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To be almost saved — is to be totally lost!   

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The devil would just as soon send you to Hell from the pew — as from the gutter!

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God is sovereign — so live confidently.
God is holy — so live reverently.

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Where God leads — He feeds.
Where God directs — He protects.
Where God guides — He provides.

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Why the Cross?

(Octavius Winslow)

True sanctification is a daily mortification of the root of sin in the heart — the continual destruction of the principle.
What is your predominant sin? Lay the axe at its root!
Seek its death and destruction — or it will be death and destruction to you, as long as it prevails.

One sight of a crucified Savior imparted by the Holy Spirit, will effectually weaken the power of indwelling sin — more than all other means combined.

O the might of the Cross!
O the virtue of the blood!
O the power of the grace of Jesus — to crucify, cleanse, and subdue our iniquities!

While the Cross is a comforting truth — it is also a sanctifying truth.

Why the Cross?

To evince the exceeding hatefulness of sin, and to show that nothing short of such a stupendous sacrifice could remove sin consistently with the glory of the Divine nature, and the honor of the Divine government.

When the mind is diverted from the Cross — sin appears to be a trifle. It can be . . .
  looked at without indignation,
  tampered with without fear,
  committed without hesitation,
  persisted in without remorse,
  gloried in without shame,
  confessed without sorrow.

But when Divine justice is seen drinking the very heart's blood of God's only Son, in order to quench its infinite thirst for satisfaction; when Jesus is seen in His humiliation, suffering, and death — all with the design of pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin — then how fearful a thing does it seem to sin against this holy Lord God! How base, how ungrateful, does our sin appear — in view of love so amazing, of grace so rich, and of glory so great!

Cultivate a constant, an ardent thirst for holiness. Do not be discouraged if the more intensely the desire for sanctification rises — the deeper and darker is the revelation of the heart's hidden evil. The one is often a consequence of the other. The struggle may be painful, the battle may be strong — but the result is certain, and will be a glorious victory — victory through the blood of the Lamb!

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Short pithy quotes from A.W. Tozer

Among the plastic saints of our times — Jesus has to do all the dying.
All we want, is to hear another sermon about His dying!

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It is no longer either dangerous or costly to be a Christian!

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Some Christians have taken all the justice, judgment and hatred of sin out of the nature of God — and have nothing left but a soft god.

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Let us start reading our Bibles with the thought that God means exactly what He says!

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The most godly Christian is the one who knows himself best.
No one who knows himself, will believe that he deserves anything better than Hell.

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God's gifts often take the place of God Himself — and the whole course of the man's life is upset by the monstrous substitution!

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The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God — and the Church is famishing for lack of His presence!

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Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so — by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days.

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We have learned to live with unholiness in our churches — and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing.

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Brethren, is not this the very cream of Heaven!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" 1 John 3:2

Here we have seen Jesus by faith in such a way that we have beheld our burdens laid on Him, and our iniquities carried by Him into the wilderness — where, if they are sought for, they shall not be found. We have seen enough of Jesus to know that "He is altogether lovely." We can say of Him, that He "is all my salvation, and all my desire." Sometimes, when He opens the lattice, and shows Himself through those windows of agate, at the Lord's Supper — the King's beauty has entranced us even to our heart's ravishment. Yet all that we have ever seen of Him, is somewhat like the report which the Queen of Sheba had of Solomon's wisdom. When we once get to the court of the Great King, we shall declare that the half has not been told to us! "I myself will see Him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" Job 19:27

Brethren, is not this the very cream of Heaven!

There have been many suggestions of what we shall do in Heaven, and what we shall enjoy, but they all seem to me to be wide of the mark compared with this one — that we shall be with Jesus, be like Him, and shall behold His glory!

Oh, to see the feet that were nailed, and to touch the hands that were pierced, and to look upon the head that wore the thorns — and to bow before Him who is ineffable love, unspeakable condescension, infinite tenderness! Oh, to bow before Him, and to kiss that blessed face! Jesus, what better do we want than to see You, and be with You forever!

The streets of gold will have small attraction to us, and the harps of angels will but slightly enchant us — compared with the King in the midst of the throne! He it is who shall . . .
  rivet our gaze,
  absorb our thoughts,
  enchain our affections, and
  move all our sacred passions to their highest pitch of celestial ardor.

We shall see Jesus!

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The Christian's compass and chart, by which he is steered safely over the tempestuous ocean of life!

(William Nicholson, "God's Word, a Preservative From Sin" 1862)

"Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You." Psalm 119:11

The Psalmist deposited the precepts and promises of God in his heart, and proved their value and efficiency . . .
  to preserve him from sin,
  to comfort him in trouble, and
  to cheer him in a dying hour.

Just so, Christians must "let the word of Christ dwell in them richly, in all wisdom" — which will preserve them from sin, and make them wise unto salvation.

The Word must be deposited in our hearts, woven into our natures — by carefully reading and meditating upon it. "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it." Joshua 1:8

The Word is the perpetual standard of all moral excellence. All its precepts tend to purity.

Its doctrines present the most powerful motives against sin.

When the Christian looks at the sufferings and death of the Redeemer . . .
  in His intense agony,
  in His bloody sweat,
  in His transfixing on the cross,
  in the desertion of His Father,
  in the endurance of the penalty of sin —
he sees in all these complicated and unparalleled sorrows, "the exceeding sinfulness of sin!"

Why is he redeemed? "Christ gave Himself for us — to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good!" Titus 2:14

Why is he regenerated? "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Why is he adopted into God's family? But to bear the image of Him who adopts.

What is the tendency of all the doctrines of grace which he has received? "For the grace of God . . . teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age!" Titus 2:11-12

Why is he preserved? "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!" 1 Thessalonians 5:23. "But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation!" Colossians 1:22

Above all, when he contemplates the character of his Savior . . .
  His ardent love,
  His ineffable meekness,
  His profound humility, and
  His unexampled obedience —
he perceives such a bright constellation of virtues, that he is dazzled by their splendor, and longs and prays to be impressed with His image and likeness.

Thus the Word of God is hidden in his heart . . .
  as his counselor,
  as his guide,
  as his pattern!

The Word of God is the Christian's compass and chart, by which he is steered safely over the tempestuous ocean of life!

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And scarcely anyone appears to care!

(A.W. Tozer)

The only power God recognizes in His Church, is the power of His Spirit. Whereas the only power actually recognized today by the majority of evangelicals, is the power of man. God does His work by the operation of the Spirit — while Christian leaders attempt to do theirs by the power of trained intellect. Bright personality, has taken the place of the divine influence. But only what is done through the Eternal Spirit, will abide eternally.

For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was:
  a device for wasting time,
  a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience,
  a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability.
But of late she appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god entertainment — she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his power.

Christianity is so entangled with the world, that millions never guess how radically they have missed the New Testament pattern. Compromise is everywhere!

Evangelical Christianity is now tragically below the New Testament standard.
Worldliness is an accepted part of our way of life.
Our religious mood is social, instead of spiritual.
We have lost the art of worship.
We are not producing saints.
Our models are successful business men, celebrated athletes and theatrical personalities.
We carry on our religious activities after the methods of the modern advertiser.
Our homes have been turned into theaters.
Our literature is shallow, and our hymnody borders on sacrilege.
And scarcely anyone appears to care!

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I will uphold you with My victorious right hand!

("Every Day!" Author unknown, 1872)

"Having obtained help from God — I continue until this day." Acts 26:22

This is the testimony of the great apostle of the Gentiles. Many were the perils to which he was exposed, and many were the hardships which he endured — but he was borne up and carried through them all, by the help of God his Savior.

Just so, He who was the Helper of the great apostle — is the Helper of the feeblest child in His family, or the weakest lamb in His flock.

He is your Helper, beloved Christian reader! He who has redeemed you, not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with His precious blood — will assuredly afford you seasonable aid. Look then to Him, in the discharge of your daily duties — for all needful wisdom and strength.

In domestic cares and trials — remember that your Helper is near.

In every hour of weakness and sorrow — cast yourself on His sustaining grace.

In the hour of your extremity, when human help avails nothing — then cling to Him, and listen to Him as He says,
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you!
 Do not be discouraged, for I am your God.
 I will strengthen you and help you.
 I will uphold you with My victorious right hand!" Isaiah 41:10

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If Jesus had not been their Savior, their Shepherd, and their Shield!

(John Newton)

The gracious purposes to which the Lord makes the sense and feeling of our depravity subservient, are manifold.

Hereby His own power, wisdom, faithfulness and love — are more signally displayed.

His power is displayed — in maintaining His own work in the midst of such opposition, like a spark burning in the water, or a bush unconsumed in the flames.

His wisdom is displayed in defeating and controlling all the devices which Satan — who, from his knowledge of the evil of our nature, is encouraged to practice his wily arts against us.

The unchangeableness of the Lord's love, and the riches of His mercy, are likewise more illustrated, by the multiplied pardons He bestows upon His people — than if they needed no forgiveness at all.

Hereby the Lord Jesus Christ is more endeared to the soul; all boasting is effectually excluded; and the glory of a full and free salvation is ascribed to Him alone.

After a long experience of their own deceitful hearts, after repeated proofs of their weakness, willfulness, ingratitude, and insensibility — they find that none of these things can separate them from the love of God — and Jesus becomes more and more precious to their souls. They love much — because much has been forgiven them.

They dare not, they will not ascribe anything to themselves, but are glad to acknowledge that they would have perished a thousand times over — if Jesus had not been their Savior, their Shepherd, and their Shield.
When they were wandering — He brought them back.
When they were fallen — He raised them.
When they were wounded — He healed them.
When they were fainting — He revived them.

In a word, some of the clearest proofs they have had of His excellence, have been occasioned by the mortifying proofs they have had of their own vileness. They would not have known so much of Him — if they had not known so much of themselves!

These are some of the advantages and good fruits which the Lord enables us to obtain from that bitter root, indwelling sin.

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This is the God whom we adore!

(Letters of John Newton)

"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!" Psalm 135:5-6

God rules all!
And though He is concealed by a veil of second causes from common eyes, so that they can perceive only the means, instruments, and contingencies by which He works, and therefore think He does nothing; yet, in reality, He does all according to His own counsel and pleasure, in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.

Who can enumerate all the beings and events which are . . .
  incessantly before His eye,
  adjusted by His wisdom,
  dependent on His will,
  and regulated by His power!

If we consider the heavens, the work of His fingers, the moon and the stars which He has ordained; if we call in the assistance of astronomers to help us in forming a conception of the number, distances, magnitudes, and motions of the heavenly bodies — the more we search, the more we shall be confirmed that these are but a small portion of His ways! Without His continual energy upholding them — they would rush into confusion, or sink into nothing! They are all dependent upon His power, and obedient to His command.

To come nearer home, and to speak of what seems more suited to our scanty apprehensions — still we may be lost in wonder. With respect to mankind, He reigns with uncontrolled dominion over every kingdom, family and individual. Before this blessed and only Potentate, all the nations of the earth are but as the dust upon the balance, and the small drop of a bucket — and might be thought (if compared with the immensity of His works) scarcely worthy of His notice! Yet here He presides, pervades, provides, protects, and rules! All changes, successes, and disappointments — all that is memorable in the annals of history, all the risings and falls of empires, all the turns in human life — take place according to His sovereign plan!

In Him His creatures live, move, and have their being. From Him, is their food and preservation. The eyes of all are upon Him; what He gives, they gather — and can gather no more! And at His word they sink into the dust!

There is not . . .
  a worm which crawls upon the ground,
   or a flower which grows in the pathless wilderness,
   or a shell upon the sea-shore —
but bears the impress of His wisdom, power, and goodness!

He preserves man and beast, sustains the young lion in the forest, feeds the birds of the air, which have neither storehouse or barn, and adorns the insects and the flowers of the field with a beauty and elegance beyond all that can be found in the courts of kings!

All things serve Him, and are in His hands — as clay in the hands of the potter. Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of saints!

This is the God whom we adore! This is He who invites us to lean upon His almighty arm, and promises to guide us with His unerring eye!

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The epithet employed to designate the character of God's people

(William Nicholson, "Fears Dispelled" 1862)

"Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob" Isaiah 41:14

The epithet employed to designate the character of God's people
is "worm." This word is used to describe a base, weak, vile, and despised thing, "How much less man, who is but a maggot — a son of man, who is only a worm!" Job 25:6

(1.) This epithet implies baseness.
A worm is a creature of little worth;
its residence is the ground;
it has no beauty in it.
What is more contemptible than a worm?

Just so, man's origin as to his body, is the dust. In his fallen state, he is empty, having no good in him — and lighter than vanity. Sin has . . .
  degraded him,
  enervated his powers, and
  alienated his heart from God.

This baseness is frequently felt by Christians . . .
  when they think of the grandeur and glory of God,
  when they think of their sins and imperfections,
  when they think of their duties and trials, their ignorance, and their tendency to return to the dust from whence they came.

(2.) This epithet implies pollution. A worm is regarded as unclean. Its element is putrescence.

Just so, man is now degraded from his original dignity even below the brute creation! Yes, he has debased himself even unto Hell! "Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness — only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil!" Isaiah 1:4-6

Every Christian feels his tendency to pollution — he feels himself to be a worm.

(3.) This epithet implies danger. A worm is a creature frequently exposed to danger. Every foot is ready to crush it.

Just so, the body of man is liable to casualties — to death, sudden or protracted, from insignificant causes. And the precious soul of man is surrounded by danger — sin, the world, sinful pleasures, and Satan, are ready to crush it!

(4.) This epithet implies weakness. A worm is not able to make resistance, defend itself, or attack its opponent.

Just so, what resistance can a rebel sinner make against God! Ah! he is only a worm. "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground!" Isaiah 45:9

What can a believer do against his enemies — the world, the flesh, and the devil — without Divine aid? Without it, he feels himself to be a worm.

"Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel — for I Myself will help you, declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel!" Isaiah 41:14

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He will never trifle with men's souls!

(A.W. Tozer)

It is very strange that people who modestly decline to risk an opinion on matters which do not closely concern them at all, such as philosophy or science for instance — are often ready and eager to pronounce with finality on matters of religion, which above all else is vital to their welfare for this world and that which is to come.

This follows the popular notion that everyone is capable of discovering the true way to Heaven for himself — and that one man's belief is as good as another's.

A second tenet in this creed, is that no one has the right to question the belief of anyone else, or to try to influence him in any way in religious matters.

This leads naturally to the third tenet, which is that we should practice complete acceptance toward every expression of religious belief, however base or ill-founded it may be, and accept it as a legitimate way of worshiping God, even if it isn't ours.

All this has about it a certain savor of charity and slips well off the lips of politicians, who are forced to try to please everyone — and liberal ministers who find it profitable to do so. But the true Christian can never bring himself to sell out his soul in that manner. The man who has heard the voice of Jesus saying, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" — can never get the consent of his heart to thus trifle with religion. He has been smitten with the love of God, and the wonder of the cross — and he can never again be flexible in things which concern his soul and the souls of his fellow men.

He will live beside, be patient with, minister to, pray for and love any religionist of whatever color or creed — from a Catholic Cardinal, to a medicine man from the bush — but never will he compromise the truth to stay on good terms with anyone.

He will never trifle with men's souls!

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In our eagerness to make converts

(A.W. Tozer)

In our eagerness to make converts
, I am afraid we have been guilty of using the techniques of modern salesmanship — which is of course to present only the desirable qualities in a product, and ignore the rest. We go to men and offer them a cozy home on the sunny side of the hill. If they will but accept Christ — then He will . . .
  give them peace of mind,
  solve their problems,
  prosper their business,
  protect their families and
  keep them happy all day long.

They believe us and come — and the first cold wind sends them shivering to some counselor to find out what has gone wrong; and that is the last we hear of many of them.

The teachings of Christ reveal Him to be a realist in the finest meaning of that word. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find Him making over-optimistic promises. He told His hearers the whole truth, and let them make up their minds. He never ran after the retreating form of an inquirer who could not face up to the truth — to try to win him with rosy promises.

He would have men follow Him, knowing the cost — or He would let them go their ways.

All this is but to say that Christ is honest. We can trust Him. He knows that He will never be popular among the lost world — and He knows that His followers need not expect to be. The wind that blows in His face will be felt by all who travel with Him, and we are not intellectually honest when we try to hide that fact from others.

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The love that surpasses knowledge!

(Horatius Bonar, "The Chief Among Ten Thousand")

"To Him who loves us, and has freed us from our sins by His blood!" Revelation 1:5

The name of Him who loves us is not given, because it would be superfluous to state it. Only One could be meant. His is love like Himself . . .
  never ending,
  yet free!

Love stronger than death or the grave — love that loves us . . .
  out of sin,
  out of the grave,
  out of Hell,
  into Heaven!

It is the love whose breadth and length, depth and height, are immeasurable — the love that surpasses knowledge!

"May you have the power to understand, as all God's people should — how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is!" Ephesians 3:18

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

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Reverent and sweet submission

(Joseph Hall, 1574-1656)

"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9

He is not worthy to pass for a child of God, who does not receive His stripes with reverent meekness. Tears may be allowed — but a murmuring frown is no better than rebellion.

Let infidels, then, and ignorants, who think they suffer by chance — repine at their adversities, and be dejected with their afflictions.

For me, who knows that I have a Father in Heaven who is full of mercy and compassion, whose providence has measured out the due proportions of my sorrows, counting my sighs, and reserving the tears which He wrings from me, in His bottle — why do I not patiently lie down and put my mouth in the dust, meekly submitting to His holy pleasure, and blessing the hand from which I smart?

"You keep track of all my sorrows.
 You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
 You have recorded each one in Your book!" Psalm 56:8

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When we eat an apple

(Letters of John Newton)

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11

Remember your exalted privilege — you have the Bible in your hands, and are not bound to follow books or preachers any farther than what they teach agrees with the Oracles of Truth. We have great reason to be thankful for the instructions and writings of spiritual men — but they are all fallible, even as ourselves.

One is our master, even Christ — what He says, we are to receive implicitly — but we do not owe implicit subjection to the best of our fellow-worms. The Bereans were commended because they would not implicitly believe even the Apostle Paul — but examined the Scriptures every day to see if what he said was true. May the Lord give us a spirit of humility and discernment in all things.

When we eat an apple — we first cut out the blemishes, then eat what is good, and lastly throw the core away. Such a rule I would observe in reading human authors — the best may be defective, and the wisest may be mistaken. We are not only permitted, but enjoined, to call no man master.

"Examine everything carefully — hold fast to that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21