Christian Character
By J.R. Miller


Reputation is what a man's neighbors and friends think of him.
Character is what the man IS.

Character is personal. It is not a possession we can share with someone else. We can give a hungry person part of our loaf of bread; we can divide our money with one who needs it; but character is something we cannot give away or transmit. The brave soldier cannot share his courage with the trembling recruit who fights by his side in the battle. The pure, gentle woman cannot give part of her purity and gentleness, to the defiled and hardened woman she meets.

Character is our own a part of our very being. It grows in us over the years. Acts repeated become habits, and character is made up in the long run, of those habits which have been repeated so often, that they become a permanent part of our lives.

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!

As the tree falls so must it lie;
As the man lives so must he die!
As a man dies such must he be;
All through the ages of eternity!

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Two men look at the same scene:

"Be joyful always!" 1 Thessalonians 5:16

"In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy!" 2 Corinthians 7:4

Thankfulness or unthankfulness is largely a matter of the attitude of our heart.
Two men look at the same scene:

  one sees the defects and the imperfections;
  the other sees the beauty and the brightness.

If you cannot find things to be thankful for today, and every day the fault is in yourself, and you ought to pray for a changed heart a heart to see God's goodness and to praise Him.

A joyful heart transfigures all the world around us! It finds something to be thankful for in the barest circumstances, even in the dark night of the soul. Let us train ourselves to see the beauty and the goodness in God's world, and in our own circumstances and then we shall stop grumbling, and be content and thankful in all situations.

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful!" Proverbs 15:13

"The cheerful heart has a continual feast!" Proverbs 15:15

"A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22

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What are you doing with your time?

"Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise making the most of the time" Ephesians 5:15-16

Our days, as God gives them to us are like beautiful summer fields.
The hours are like trees with their rich fruit, or vines with their blossoms of purple clusters.
The minutes are like blooming flowers, or stalks of wheat with their golden grains.

Oh the endless, blessed possibilities of our days and hours and minutes as they come to us from God's hands!

But what did you do with yesterday? How does the little acre of that one day look to you now?

What are you doing with your time? Every moment God gives you, has in it a possibility of beauty or usefulness as well as something to be accounted for.

Are you using your time for God?

"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life!" Psalm 39:4

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Christian liberty

We should keep watch over our words and deeds, not only in their intent and purpose but also in their possible influence over others. There may be liberties which lead to no danger for us but which to others with less stable character, and less wholesome environments would be full of peril. It is part of our duty to think of these weaker ones, and of the influence of our example upon them. We may not do anything in our liberty, which might possibly harm others. We must be willing to sacrifice our liberty if by its exercise, we endanger another's soul. This is the teaching of holy Scripture:

"Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." Romans 14:19

"Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall." Romans 14:20-21

"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." 1 Corinthians 8:9-13

"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

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Black seeds without beauty

"Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Luke 22:42

"Lord, what do You want me to do?" Acts 9:6

The first condition of consecration, must always be entire readiness to accept God's will for our life. It is not enough to be willing to do Christian work. There are many people who are quite ready to do certain things in the service of Christ, who are not ready to do anything He might want them to do.

God does not send us two classes of providences
one good, and one evil. All are good. Affliction is God's goodness in the seed. It takes time for a seed to grow and to  develop into fruitfulness. Many of the best things of our lives come to us first as pain, suffering, earthly loss or disappointment black seeds without beauty but afterward they grow into the rich harvest of righteousness!

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

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Think about such things!

"The cheerful heart has a continual feast!" Proverbs 15:15

We pretty much see just what we are looking for. If our mind has become trained to look for troubles, difficulties, problems, and all gloomy and dreary things then we shall find just what we seek. On the other hand, it is quite as easy to form the habit of looking always for beauty, for good, for happiness, for gladness and here too we shall find precisely what we seek.

It has been said that the habit of always seeing the bright side in life, is worth a large income to a man. It makes life a great deal easier.

None of us are naturally drawn to a gloomy person, who everywhere finds something to complain about but we are all attracted to one who sees some beauty in everything. Joy is a transfiguring quality. Its secret is a glad heart.

"Finally, brothers,
 whatever is true,
 whatever is noble,
 whatever is right,
 whatever is pure,
 whatever is lovely,
 whatever is admirable
 if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
think about such things!" Philippians 4:8

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Our plans and dreams

"In his heart a man plans his course but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

"Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the LORD's purpose which prevails." Proverbs 19:21

There are few entirely unbroken lives in this world; there are few men who fulfill their own hopes and plans, without thwarting or interruption at some point. Now and then, there is one who in early youth marks out a course for himself and then moves straight on in it to its goal.

But most people's lives turn out very different from their own early dreams. Many find at the close of their life, that in scarcely one particular, have they realized their own life-dreams; at every point God has simply set aside their plans and substituted His own. There are some people whose plans are so completely thwarted, that their story is most pathetic. Yet we have but to follow it through to the end, to see that the broken life was better and more effective, than if their own plans had been carried out.

"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

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Our best striving

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on" Philippians 3:12

The highest reaches of holiness which we can attain here on earth, are but broken fragments of the full Divine beauty. At the best, we can only become dimly transfigured; only faintly does the beauty of the Lord appear in us.

The last design made by the great painter, Albert Diirer, was a painting showing Christ on His cross. It was all completed, except the face of the Divine Sufferer, when the artist was summoned away by death.

Just so, at the end of the longest and holiest life we shall have but a part of the picture of Christ wrought upon our soul. Our best striving shall attain but a fragment of His matchless beauty. We cannot reproduce the glory of that incomparable Face. But when we depart from our little fragment of transfiguration, we shall look a moment afterward upon the Divine features, and, seeing Jesus we shall transformed into His lovely image!

"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is!" 1 John 3:2

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We are not saved by believing a creed

"Do not be amazed that I said to you: You must be born again!" John 3:7

That which makes one a Christian, is not . . .
  the agreeing with Christ's teachings,
  the uniting with His Church,
  the adoption of His morals,
  the espousing of His cause
but the receiving of Him as our personal Lord and Savior, and entering into a covenant of eternal friendship with Him. We are not saved by believing a creed which gathers up in a few golden sentences, the essence of the truth about Christ's person and work we must have the Christ Himself, whom the creed holds forth, in His radiant beauty and grace!

Many people think that being a Christian is . . .
  to pray a few moments morning and evening,
  to read a daily chapter or two in the Bible,
  and to attend church on Sundays.
These duties are important as means of grace but they are not true religion. Real religion is living out the principles of Christianity in one's ordinary week-day life. It is getting the Bible and the prayers and the services into our thoughts and acts and character.

We must not cut our lives in two, and call one part secular, governing it by one set of principles and regarding the other part as sacred, to be controlled by another set of rules. All of life is to be made sacred in the sense that everything is to be done in such a way as to please God, under the direction of His counsel. We have just as much true religion as we get into our week-day life, and not a whit more!

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What a man IS

There are virtues, fruits of character, treasures, spoils of moral conquests which men carry with them out of this world. Someone says, "The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried, is character." This is true. What a man IS survives him. It never can be buried. His character lingers about his home, when his footsteps come there no more. It lives in the community where he was known. And that same thing what a man IS he carries with him into the next life. Money and rank and circumstances and earthly gains, he leaves behind him but his character, he takes with him into eternity!

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True religion is intensely practical

A little girl, when asked what it was to be a Christian, replied, "For me to be a Christian is to live and behave just as Jesus would live and behave if He were a little girl and lived at our house."

No better definition of practical religion could be given. Each one of us is to live just as Jesus would, if He were living out our little life in the midst of its actual environment, mingling with the same people with whom we must mingle, and exposed to the very annoyances, trials, and temptations to which we are exposed. We need to live a life that will please God, and which will witness to the genuineness of our piety.

True religion is intensely practical
. Only so far as it dominates one's life, is it real. We must get the commandments down from the Sinaitic glory amid which they were first engraved on stone by the finger of God and give them a place in the hard, dusty paths of our earthly toil and struggle. We must get them off the tables of stone and have them written on the walls of our own hearts. We must bring the Golden Rule down from its bright setting in our Lord's 'Sermon on the Mount' and get it wrought into our daily actual life!

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Work out your own salvation

"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" Philippians 2:12

Each one's battle must be a personal one. We may decline the struggle but it will also be declining the joy of victory. No one can reach the summit without arduously climbing the steep mountain. We cannot be carried up on another's shoulder.

God does not put virtues and graces into our lives as the jeweler sets gems in a ring. God does not automatically remove and replace our unholy and sinful elements with holy ones. Through personal efforts, each must win his way through temptations, struggles and difficulties to all noble attainments. The help of God is given in cooperation with our aspiration and energy. While God works in us we are to work out our own salvation.

"To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me!" Colossians 1:29

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Family devotions

Hearts that are drawn together at God's feet every day in family devotions cannot drift very far away from each other. The domestic frictions of the day are forgotten when all voices mingle in the same heavenly song. As the tender words of Scripture fall with their gracious counsels all feeling of unkindness melts away. The family altar in the midst wondrously hallows and sweetens the whole home. Besides, the family altar . . .
  puts new strength into every heart,
  comforts all sorrows,
  is a shield against temptation,
  smoothes out the wrinkles of care,
  inspires strength for burden-bearing,
  quickens every holy sentiment, and
  keeps the fires of devotion burning on every heart's altar.

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Life comes to us in such little bits

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

"As your days so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25

We should be thankful that life comes to us in such little bits.

We can always live one day well enough.
We can always carry one day's burdens.
We can always do one day's duties.
We can always endure one day's sorrows.

It is a blessing that one day is all that God ever gives us at a time. We should be thankful for the nights that cut off our tomorrows from our view, so that we cannot even see them until they dawn. The little days, nestling between the nights like quiet valleys between the hills, then seem so safe and peaceful.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own!" Matthew 6:34

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The questions should rather be

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33

True victory is not found in escaping or evading trials but in rightly meeting and enduring them. The questions should not be, "How can I get out of these worries? How can I get into a place where there shall be no irritations, nothing to try my temper, or put my patience to the test? How can I avoid the troubles which continually harass me?" There is nothing noble in such living. The soldier who flees when the battle approaches, is no hero; he is a coward.

The questions should rather be, "How can I pass through these trying experiences and not fail as a Christian? How can I endure these struggles and not suffer defeat? How can I live amid these provocations, these reproaches and testings of my temper and yet live sweetly, not speaking unadvisedly, bearing injuries meekly, returning gentle answers to insulting words?"

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son!" Revelation 21:7

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God has three axes!

God has three axes! One He uses in pruning His trees, that the fruitful branches may bring forth more fruit. The work of this axe is not judgment or destruction but mercy and blessing. It is the good, the fruitful tree which feels its keen edge. "Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:2

Then God has another axe, which He uses only in judgment in cutting down those trees which after all His culture of them, bring forth no fruit. "The axe already lies at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit, will be cut down and thrown into the fire!" Matthew 3:10. The picture is very suggestive. The axe at the tree's root, or raised in the woodman's hand to strike shows that judgment impends, hangs ready to fall. At any moment, the tree may be cut down! "Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil!" Luke 13:7

The axe of death really lies all the while, at the root of every life. There is not a moment when it is not true that there is but a step between us and death! Life is all very critical. There is not a moment in any day, on which may not turn all the destinies of eternity. It certainly is an infinitely perilous thing, for an immortal soul to rest an hour with the axe of judgment waiting to strike the blow which will end the day of mercy forever! Only supremest folly can be blind men to such vital interests!

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An ox stands between an altar and a plough

It is always a solemn hour when anyone stands before God and men, to make a public profession of Christ. The act is nothing less than the consecration of a human soul to Christ's service, for life or for death.

On the seal of an old missionary society, an ox stands between an altar and a plough, and written below is the motto, "READY FOR EITHER!" That is, ready for sacrifice or for service.

This should be the heart-motto in every public profession; it should be . . .
  a solemn devotement to Christ,
  an entire surrender to Him for obedience, duty and sacrifice;
  a consecration of the whole life to Christ and His service.
Such consecration all have made, who have publicly given themselves to Christ.

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A time to laugh!

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:13

"All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast!" Proverbs 15:15

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22

"I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live." Ecclesiastes 3:12

"There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance" Ecclesiastes 3:4

There is no inconsistency between holiness and laughter. It is no sin to smile. Indeed, a somber religion is unnatural. Gloom is morbidness. Our lives should be sunny and songful. Christ's religion is joyous, even amid sorrows. We hear songs in the night.

There is a flower which is most fragrant after the sun has set, and in the darkness pours its richest aroma on the air. Just so, true religion grows in sweetness as the shadows deepen. He misrepresents Christianity and the likeness of the Master whose piety is cold, dreary, cheerless, joyless, or who frowns upon innocent gladness and pure pleasures.

Sanctified wit has a blessed mission. Life is so hard, so stern, with so many burdens and struggles that there is need for all the bright words we can speak. The most wretched people in the world are those who go about in sackcloth, carrying all their griefs in their faces and casting dark shadows everywhere. Every Christian should be a happiness-maker. We need a thousand times more joy in our lives, than most of us get. We would be better men and women, if we were happier.

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." Proverbs 15:30

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." Proverbs 12:25

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The grace of forbearance

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Matthew 5:38-39

There are at least two motives which should be sufficient to lead us to cultivate the grace of forbearance. One is that no insult can do us harm unless we allow it to irritate us. If we endure even the sorest words, as Jesus endured His wrongs and revilings they will not leave one trace of injury upon us. They can harm us only when we allow ourselves to become impatient or angry. We can get the victory over them and utterly disarm them of power to do us injury by holding ourselves superior to them. The feeling of resentment will change to pity when we remember that not he who is wronged but he who does the wrong, is the one who suffers.

And to help in bearing with disagreeable people or those with unamiable qualities, there is nothing better than a sincere wish to do them good.

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9

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This is a wonderful secret which all of us ought to learn!

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame!" Hebrews 12:2

"In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice. In the morning I will order my prayer to You and look up!" Psalm 5:3

This is a wonderful secret which all of us ought to learn
: We should not think so much about the toil and hardness of the way but to look beyond to the brightness of the end! It does not matter how rough the road is if only it brings us HOME at last!

Many of us go worrying all through this life, keeping our eyes always downcast on the path we are treading. We see all the troubles, the difficulties, and discouragements but we never raise our eyes to see the joys and the eternal blessings which are waiting for us. We ought to learn this life-secret, which made Christ look past the shame and sorrow of His cross and see the glory beyond. Learn to look up toward Heaven! Think of its joys and its blessedness until earth's trials shall melt away in the brightness, and its griefs and losses are forgotten in the hopes of eternal glory!

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body!" Philippians 3:20-21

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We might find it filled with sharp thorns under the flowers!

"Then He said to them all: If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." Luke 9:23

It is our own cross, and not some other man's which we are to take up. It is the particular cross that God lays at our own feet, which we are to bear. We are never to make crosses for ourselves but we are always to accept those which our heavenly Father has allotted to us. Each one's own cross is the best for him.

Sometimes we think that our circumstances are peculiarly hard, and we compare it with the circumstances of this or that other person, and wish we had his cross instead of our own. But we do not know what other people's crosses really are. If we did, we might not want to exchange. If we put that cross which seems woven of flowers on our shoulders we might find it filled with sharp thorns under the flowers! That cross of gold which seems so bright we would find so heavy that it would crush us!

The easiest cross for each one of us to bear, is our own!

"Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation which God called him to!" 1 Corinthians 7:24

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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 poverty. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:11-13

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Our own imperfections unfit us for judging fairly

"Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law." James 4:11

"And why do you look at the mote in your brother's eye, but do not consider the beam in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3

Our own imperfections unfit us for judging fairly
. With beams in our own eyes we cannot see clearly to pick motes out of our brother's eye.

One of the qualities which make us incapable of impartial judgment of others, is envy. There are few of us who can see our neighbor's life, work, and disposition without some warping and distortion of the picture. Envy has a strange effect on our moral vision. It shows the beautiful things in others, with the beauty dimmed. It shows the blemishes and faults in them, exaggerated.

Then, the lack of personal experience in struggle and pain, makes many people incapable of sympathy with sorely afflicted ones. Those who have never known a care, nor felt the pinching of poverty cannot understand the experiences of the poor.

Thus in very many ways, we are unfitted to be judges of others.

"Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls." Romans 14:4

"You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother?" Romans 14:10

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The subtle beginnings of self-indulgence!

We do many things which to our own eyes appear innocent and harmless but which have in them a hidden evil which we cannot see.

We indulge ourselves in many things which do not appear sinful to us but which leave on our soul a touch of blight, and a soiling of purity of which we do not dream!

We permit ourselves many little habits in which we see no danger but which are silently entwining their invisible threads into a strong cable which may some day bind us hand and foot!

We spare ourselves self-denials and sacrifices, thinking there is no reason why we should make them, unaware that we are lowering our standard of holy living, and permitting the subtle beginnings of self-indulgence to creep into our hearts!

"Blessed is the man who does not . . .
  walk in the counsel of the wicked,
  or stand in the way of sinners,
  or sit in the seat of mockers!"
    Psalm 1:1 

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Do it!

"Whatever He says to you do it!" John 2:5

How can we know what Jesus says? We cannot hear His voice as the servants at the wedding heard it.

He speaks now to us in His Word, and the reverent heart may always hear what He says as the sacred pages are prayerfully pondered.

He speaks in the conscience that is kept tender by loyal obeying.

He speaks in the providence which brings the present duty to our hand.

There never is any real uncertainty as to what He says, if we are truly intent on knowing His will.

"Whatever He says to you do it!!" It is the doing which is important. We should never ask questions nor make suggestions, when Jesus has spoken the one thing for us is obedience. We should never ask what the consequences may be, or what it may cost us we are simply to obey. Jesus knows why He wants us to do the thing and that should be reason enough for us.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." John 14:15

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We could not make the angels happy

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water!" Jeremiah 2:13

The human soul cannot be satisfied with any of earth's good things. This is not the fault of the things of earth they are good and beautiful, in their own way and in their own place. But the soul is spiritual and immortal. Money and fame and power can never be food for a soul made in the Divine image; nothing less than God Himself can answer its cravings.

We could not make the angels happy by giving them gold and diamonds, and building them fine marble palaces to live in, and putting crowns and fine clothes on them. No more can we satisfy our own souls with such things. Men try to do so but their thirst is only momentarily quenched and soon they must drink again. Gratification only intensifies desire.

"Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life!" John 4:13-14

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The little book told the whole story of his life!

A quaint old man used to carry a little book which he took very often from his pocket, and which he called his "biography." It had only three pages, and there was not a word written on any of them; yet he said the little book told the whole story of his life!

The first page was black that was his sin, which was his condition by nature. He would shudder whenever he looked at it.

The second page was red that was the blood of Christ, and his face glowed when he gazed upon it.

The third page was white that was himself washed in Christ's blood, made whiter than snow.

His book told the whole story of every redeemed life. Between the black of our sins, and the white of redemption must always come the red of Christ's blood.

"The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!" 1 John 1:7

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How shall we endure the things which hurt and wound us?

"When they hurled their insults at Him He did not retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly." 1 Peter 2:23

None of us can live long in the thick of life and not sometimes be touched rudely, perhaps even cruelly, by others. How shall we endure the things which hurt and wound us? We know what Jesus would do, what He actually did. "When they hurled their insults at Him He did not retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats." They drove the nails into His gentle hands, and as the iron went crashing through His tender flesh He prayed, "Father, forgive them!" They hung Him on the cross but in answer to that cruelty, instead of a withering curse upon the world, He wrought salvation there for men!

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

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He will sustain you!

"Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you." Psalm 55:22

The promise is not that the Lord will remove the load we cast upon Him, nor that He will carry it for us but that He will sustain us so that we may carry it.
He does not free us from the duty but He strengthens us for it.
He does not deliver us from the conflict but He enables us to overcome.
He does not withhold or withdraw the trial from us but He helps us in trial to be submissive and victorious, and makes it a blessing to us.
He does not mitigate the hardness or severity of our circumstances, taking away the difficult elements, removing the thorns, making life easy for us but He puts Divine grace into our hearts, so that we can live sweetly in all the hard, adverse circumstances.

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

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

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The rough stalk of suffering

"These are those who have come out of the great tribulation!" Revelation 7:14

Much of the most beautiful Christian living in this world, comes out of sorrow. As "fair flowers bloom upon rough stalks" so many of the fairest flowers of human life, grow upon the rough stalk of suffering.

We take our place with the beloved disciple John on the other side, and we see that those who in Heaven wear the whitest robes, and sing the loudest songs of victory are those who have come out of "great tribulation". Heaven's highest places are filling, not from earth's homes of glad festivity and tearless joy but from . . .
  its chambers of pain,
  its valleys of struggle where the battle is hard, and
  its scenes of sorrow, where pale cheeks are wet with tears, and where hearts are broken.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all!" 2 Corinthians 4:17

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He always lives to make intercession for them!

"Therefore He is able also to save forever, those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them!" Hebrews 7:25

If we would pray acceptably, it must be in dependence on Jesus Christ, our High Priest in Heaven, who shall take the petitions from our stained and unholy lips, cleanse them of their sin and fault and defilement and then add to them the pure incense of His own holy offering and intercession, and present them to the Father! That is what praying in the name of Christ means. Praying thus, our prayers are sweet fragrances to God. The thoughts and words which leave our hearts and lips spotted and unholy, without any beauty or sweetness when they come up before God, have become precious perfumes!

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Until His image burns itself upon the soul

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image!" 2 Corinthians 3:18 

It is not merely a brief glance now and then, which is here implied; not the turning of the eye toward Him for a few hurried moments in the early morning or in the late evening but a constant, loving, and reverent beholding of Him through days and years, until His image burns itself upon the soul. If we thus train our heart's eyes to look at Christ, we shall be transformed into His image. And even though but little seems to come from our yearnings and struggles after Christ-likeness, God honors the yearning and striving, and while we sit in the shadows of weariness, disheartened with our failures He carries on the work within us, and with His own hands produces the Divine beauty in our souls!

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

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All base desires, all bad habits, all longings for ignoble things which we vanquish and trample down become ladder-rungs on which we climb upward out of earthliness and sinfulness into purer and Christlier character. There really is no other way by which we can rise upward. If we are not living victoriously in our little common days we surely are not making any progress. Only those who climb, are mounting toward the stars. Heaven itself at last, and the heavenly life here on earth are for those only who overcome.

"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne!" Revelation 3:21

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son!" Revelation 21:7

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Some day I shall be like that!

"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son!" Romans 8:29

No sooner do we begin to behold the fair face which looks out at us from the gospel chapters, than a great hope springs up in our hearts we can become like Jesus! Indeed, if we are God's children, we shall become like Him. We are predestined to be conformed to His image! It matters not how faintly the Divine beauty glimmers now in our soiled and imperfect lives some day we shall be like Him! As we struggle here with imperfections and infirmities, with scarcely a trace of Christlikeness yet apparent in our life, we still may say, when we catch glimpses of the glorious loveliness of Christ, "Some day I shall be like that!"

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

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Every word is practical

We must not merely read the Bible but strive that we may obey it. If the Bible is not the guide of our life it is nothing to us. Its truths are to be applied. If we read the Beatitudes, we are to compare ourselves with their Divine requirements and seek to be conformed to them. If we come upon a Scripture which rebukes any sinful habit or attitude of ours we are immediately to make the needed amendment. We are to accept its promises, believe them, and act upon them. We are to allow its comforts to enter our hearts, and support us in sorrow.

There is nothing written in the Bible, merely for ornament or beauty. Every word is practical. There is no truth in it which has not some bearing upon actual living. When we come to it eager to know how to live, and ready to obey its precepts we shall find it opening its inmost meaning to us.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." John 14:15 

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Only as Christ dwells in our hearts

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18

Only as Christ dwells in our hearts by His Spirit, shall we reach the true ideal of Christian life and experience. Then shall we do right, not by direction of written rule but by the promptings of the indwelling Christ. Then shall our dull lives be transfigured by Christ in our hearts, as He slowly changes all the earthliness to Heavenliness. Then shall the features of the Divine image come out, little by little, as the new life within forces itself through the dull crust of the old nature until at length the full beauty of Christ shines, where once only sin's marred visage was seen!

"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son!" Romans 8:29

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All wrongs will then be righted

There are wrongs which are not righted here on earth. There are godly people misunderstood, maligned, misrepresented, bearing the odium of false accusation all their days, suffering for the sins of others, waiting all their years for vindication which never comes, and at last dying with a dark shadow upon their name.

If there were no life beyond death, we could not always say that God's ways are just. But life goes on, on the other side of the grave, and there will be time enough there for the fullest outworking of all earth's unfinished providences. All wrongs will then be righted and all perplexities solved. The shadows of injustice which have hung over godly people in this world, will vanish; and the names bearing reproach here without cause, will shine forth like the stars.

"This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares." Romans 2:16

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The only thing that concerns us

"And 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

Is not God wise enough to manage the complications of our lives and to bring order and beauty out of them? Has He not skill enough? Is He not our Father? and will He not always do the very best and wisest thing for us? Should we not trust Him? and cease to be anxious about anything that we have committed to Him? Is not anxiety, doubt? and is not doubt, sin? We are simply to commit our way to the Lord, trust Him, and be at peace.

The only thing that concerns us, is our DUTY. God will weave the complicated web of our lives, into patterns of beauty unless we mar it by our follies and sins. But His plans are sometimes very long, and our impatience may mar them, as well as our sins. The buds of His purposes, must not be torn open. We must wait until His fingers unfold them.

"Commit your way to the LORD. Trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:5

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And why should we?

"As your days so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25

God's storehouses of grace are never opened to us until we really need their blessing. They are placed, so to speak, along our life-path the right supply, at the right point. By the plan of God for His children . . .
  in every desert there are oases;
  at the foot of each sharp, steep hill there are staffs for climbing;
  in every dark gorge there are lighted lamps;
  at every stream there is a bridge.

But we find none of these until we come to the place where we need them. And why should we?
Will it not be soon enough to see the bridge when we stand by the stream?
Will it not be soon enough, when it grows dark for the lamps to shine out?
Will it not be soon enough, when the cupboard is empty for God to send bread?

"And 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

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There are always more rungs of the ladder to climb

"But just as He who called you is holy so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15-16

Every step of the heavenly way is uphill and steep at that. Heavenly life always keeps above us, no matter how far we climb toward it. We never in this world, get to a point where we may regard ourselves as having reached life's goal, as, having attained the loftiest height within our reach there are always more
rungs of the ladder to climb. The noblest life ever lived on earth, is but beginning its growth and attainment.

Mozart, just before his death, said, "Now I begin to see what might be done in music." That is all which the saintliest man ever learns in this world about living he just begins to see what might be done in living. It is a comfort to know that that really is the whole of our earthly mission just to learn how to live, and that the true living is to be beyond this world.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

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Is Jesus like anybody I know?

A little child was thinking about the unseen Christ to whom she prayed, and came to her mother with the question, "Is Jesus like anybody I know?"

The question was not an unreasonable one it was one to which the child should have received the answer of "Yes." Every true disciple of Christ ought to be an answer in some sense, at least to the child's inquiry. Every little one ought to see Christ's beauty mirrored in its Christian mother's face. Every Sunday-school teacher's character, should reflect some tracings of the Eternal Love on which the scholars may gaze. Whoever looks upon the life of any Christian, should see in it at once the reflection of the beauty of Christ.

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory" 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Much of our best work

We cannot measure spiritual results, as we can those that are physical.

The artist sees the picture growing upon his canvas as he works day by day.
The builder sees the wall rising as he lays stone upon stone.
But the spiritual builder is working with invisible blocks, is rearing a fabric whose walls he cannot see. The spiritual artist is painting away in the unseen. His eyes cannot behold the impressions, the touches of beauty He makes.

Sometimes the results of our work may be seen . . .
  in the conversation of the ungodly,
  in the comforting of sorrow,
  in the uplifting and ennobling of the degraded.
Yet much of our best work must be done in simple faith; and perhaps in Heaven it will be seen that the best results of our lives have been from their unconscious influences, and our most fruitful efforts were those we considered in vain.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain!" 1 Corinthians 15:58

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The best we can bring

"Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water'; so they filled them to the brim." John 2:7

"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish but how far will they go among so many?" John 6:9

Our Lord calls His people always to be His helpers in blessing the world. We cannot do much. The best we can bring is a little of the common water; but if we bring that to Him He can change it into the rich wine of Heaven, which will bless weary and fainting ones. If we take simply what we have, and use it as He commands, it will do good. Moses had only a rod in his hand but with this he wrought great wonders. The disciples had only five barley loaves but these, touched by Christ's hand, made a feast for thousands. So the common water, carried by the servants, under the Master's blessing became wine for the wedding.

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First there comes bitterness

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus . . . who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God!" Hebrews 12:2

Christ Himself had humiliation, darkness, and the shame of the cross and then exaltation, power, glory. In Christian life, the same law holds.

First there comes bitterness but out of the bitterness, sweetness flows.

There is the deep sorrow of penitence but this gives way to the blessed joy of forgiveness.

First there are self-denial and cross-bearing but out of these experiences comes a holy peace that fills all the heart.

Sorrows are to be endured but the good wine of comfort is poured into the empty cup.

There is also a constant progression in the blessings of the Divine life. We never get to the end of them; indeed, we never get to the best. There is always something better yet to come. Heaven will make amends for all!

"Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5

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Let us remember this picture

"Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well." John 4:6

Do we get all the blessings we might get, from the truth of our Lord's actual human experiences? When we have been working hard all day and are weary and faint, let us remember this picture Jesus, footsore and dust-covered, sinking down in sheer exhaustion on the stone curb of Jacob's well.

He has not forgotten even now in His glory, how He felt that day; and as He sees us in our weariness His heart feels tenderly for us. He looks down upon us in compassion, and sends us a blessing of strength and cheer. Let all Christians whose work is hard, and who ofttimes are very tired, frame this picture in their memory, and keep it always hanging up on the wall of their heart.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are" Hebrews 4:15

"He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust." Psalm 103:14

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The faith which the gospel requires

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me!" Matthew 16:24

Christ asks for absolute surrender to Him. He wants us to trust Him, while we obey Him unquestioningly.

The faith which the gospel requires
, is the utter unreserved devotement of the whole life to Christ, and the unquestioning committal of every interest and hope to Him, for time and for eternity!

The question what He will do with us or for us, how He will provide for us should not for an instant be raised. There must be no conditions in the following and the consecration to Christ. We may not bargain with Him for an easy, comfortable life but should simply give ourselves to Him absolutely and forever, to follow where and to whatever He may lead us.

"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:27

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We may take easy work if we will

"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." Luke 9:24

Work for others which costs nothing, is scarcely worth doing. At least, it takes heart's blood to heal hearts. Too many of us are ready to work for Christ and to do good to our fellow men only so long as it is easy and requires no sacrifice or self-denial; but, if we stop there, we stop just where our service is likely to become of use. This saving of our own life proves, in the end, the losing of it.

It is those who sow in tears who shall reap in joy. It is he who goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed who shall come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

We may take easy work if we will work which costs us nothing, which involves no pain or self-denial but we must not then be surprised if our hands are empty in the great harvest-time.

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The Master adds some new touch of loveliness to the picture

"I have tried you in the furnace of affliction!" Isaiah 48:10

Many a Christian enters a sore trial, cold, worldly, unspiritual with all the better and more tender qualities of his nature locked up in his heart, like the beauty and fragrance in the bare and jagged tree in January. But he comes out of it with gentle spirit, mellowed, richened, and sweetened, and with all the fragrant graces pouring their perfume about him.

The photographer carries his picture back into a darkened room that he may bring out its features. The light would mar his delicate work.

Just so, God brings out in many a soul its loveliest beauties while the curtain is drawn and the light of day shut out. The darkness does not tell of God's anger; it is only the shadow of the wing of Divine love, folded close over us for a little while the Master adds some new touch of loveliness to the picture which He is bringing out in our souls.

"When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold!" Job 23:10

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All of life's aiming and striving

"He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6

Character grows as the baby matures into manhood. Every day something is written here some mark made.
The mother writes something;
the teacher writes something;
every day's experiences write some words;
every touch or influence of other lives, leaves some mark;
temptation and struggle, do their part in filling the page;
books, education, sorrow, joy, companions, friends
all of life touches and paints some line of beauty or scratches some mark of marring.

Our final character, is the result of all these influences which work and co-work upon our life. In the end, we are to be altogether like Jesus; hence all of life's aiming and striving should be towards His blessed beauty.

"For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son!" Romans 8:29

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Then He will tell us these other things

"I still have many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now." John 16:12

God cannot show us the stars, while the sun shines in the Heavens; and He cannot make known to us the precious things of love that He has prepared for our nights, while it is yet day about us.

Christ says to us then, "I still have many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now." We could not understand them now. But by and by, when we come into places of need, of sorrow, of weakness, of human failure, of loneliness, of sickness, of old age then He will tell us these other things, and they will be full of joy for our hearts. When night comes, He will show us the stars.

There is a very large part of the Bible which can be received by us only when we come into the places for which the words were given.

There are promises for weakness which we can never get while we are strong.

There are words for times of danger which we can never know while we need no protection.

There are consolations for sickness whose comfort we can never get while we are in robust health.

There are promises for times of loneliness, when men walk in solitary ways, which never can come with real meaning to us while loving companions are by our side.

There are words for old age which we never can appropriate for ourselves along the years of youth while the arm is strong, the blood warm, and the heart brave.

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Your weakness

"When I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

You may think that your weakness unfits you for noble, strong, beautiful living or for sweet, gentle, helpful serving. You wish you could get rid of it.

Your weakness seems a burden to you, an ugly deformity. But really, it is something which, if you give it to Christ, He can transform into a blessing, a source of power. The friend by your side, whom you envy because he seems so much stronger than you are, does not get as much of Christ's strength as you do. You are weaker than he; but your weakness draws to you Christ's power, and makes you strong.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

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

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This lesson makes life easy and simple

We have nothing to do with life in the aggregate that great bulk of duties, responsibilities, struggles, and trials which belong to a course of years. We really have nothing to do even with the nearest of the days before us tomorrow. Our sole business is with the one little day, now passing. Its burdens will not crush us we can easily carry them until the sun goes down. We can always get along for one short day it is the projection of life into the long future, which dismays and appalls us.

Each day is, in a certain sense, a complete life by itself. It has its own duties, its own trials, its own burdens, and its own needs. The very best we can do for the perfecting of our life as a whole, is to live the one day well.

We should put all our thought and energy and skill into the duty of each day, wasting no strength, either in grieving over yesterday's failures or in anxiety about tomorrow's responsibilities.

This lesson makes life easy and simple.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

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"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!" Psalm 42:1-2

Longing is the very soul of all true prayer. Longing is . . .
  the empty hand reached out to receive new gifts from Heaven;
  the heart's cry which God hears with acceptance;
  the ascending angel that climbs the starry ladder to return on the same radiant stairway with blessings from God's very throne;
  the key that unlocks new storehouses of Divine goodness and enrichment.
Spiritual longing is, indeed, nothing less than the very life of God in the human soul, struggling to grow up in us into the fullness of the stature of Christ.

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The unconscious unpurposed influences

It is not what a man does or says purposely and with direct intention, which leaves the deepest mark in the world and in other lives. But it is the unconscious unpurposed influences which go out from him like the perfumes from a garden, whether he wakes or sleeps, whether he is present or absent.

God seems to blight the things which we are proud of, and to make them come to nothing. Then, when we are not intending to do anything grand, He uses us for noble purposes, and to make lasting impressions on the hearts and lives of others.

In all true living, while men execute their greater plans they are ever unintentionally performing a series of secondary acts which often yield most beneficent and far-reaching results. There is a wayside ministry, for instance, made up of countless little courtesies, gentle words, mere passing touches on the lives of those we meet casually, influences flowing indirectly from the things we do and the words we speak a ministry undesigned, unplanned, unnoted, merely incidental and yet it is impossible to measure the results of these unconscious influences.

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Repulsive, blotched, and stained by sin

A piece of canvas is a trifling thing. You can buy it for a few pennies. You would scarcely think it worth picking up, if you saw it lying in the street. But an artist takes it and draws a few lines and figures on it, and then with his brush touches in certain colors, and the canvas is sold for hundreds of dollars.

Just so, Christ takes up a ruined, worthless human life which has no beauty, no attractiveness but is repulsive, blotched, and stained by sin. Then the fingers of His love add touches of beauty, painting the Divine image upon it, and it becomes precious, glorious, immortal!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

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If we met ourselves one day on the street

We are very charitable towards our own shortcomings. We make all kinds of allowances for our own faults, and are wonderfully patient with our own infirmities. We see our good things magnified and our blemishes in a light which makes them seem almost virtues. So true is this, that if we met ourselves some day on the street, the self which God sees, even the self which our neighbor sees we probably would not recognize it as really ourselves! Our own judgment of our life is not conclusive. There is a large part of us, which we do not see at all.

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Sparing them struggles, self-denials, and hardships

Our best friends are not those who make life easy for us; our best friends are those who put courage, energy, and resolution into our hearts. There are thousands of lives dwarfed and hurt irreparably, by pampering. Parents ofttimes, in the very warmth and eagerness of their love, do sad harm to their children's lives, by over-helping them; by doing things for them which it were better to teach them to do for themselves; by sparing them struggles, self-denials, and hardships which it were far better for the children to meet.

Friendship is in constant danger of over-helping. When one we love comes to us with a difficulty it is love's first impulse to solve it for him; whereas it would be a thousand times better kindness, if we put him in the way of solving it for himself.

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The lesson may be hard for many of us

True Christian faith gives a quietness which in itself is one of life's holiest blessings. It gives the quietness of peace a quietness which the wildest storms cannot disturb, which is a richer possession than all the world's wealth or power.

"Study to be quiet."
The lesson may be hard for many of us but it is well worth all the cost of learning. It brings strength and peace to the heart.

Speech is good but ofttimes silence is better. He who has learned to hold his tongue is a greater conqueror than the warrior who subdues an empire. The ability to be silent under provocation and wrongs is one of life's noblest achievements.

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life" 1 Thessalonians 4:11

"That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." 1 Timothy 2:2

"The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:4

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If we see life with the veil torn away!

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands!" 2 Corinthians 5:1

If we see life only as a narrow stage bounded by the curtain that falls at death, ending there forever how poor and little and limited does existence appear! We may cherish no joys which will reach over into the life hereafter. We may sow no seeds which will come to harvest on the other side of the grave. Our souls may be thrilled by no aspirations and hopes which have their goal beyond the shadows of death.

But how different if we see life with the veil torn away! The future is as much in our vision and as real, as the little present. We may scatter seeds which we know shall not come to harvest for long ages. We may cherish hopes and aspirations whose goals lie far away in the life to come.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:18

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God's most effective ministry in this world

"For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life!" 1 Thessalonians 4:7

It is life itself a holy life, which is God's most effective ministry in this world a pure, sweet, patient, earnest, unselfish, loving life. It is not so much what we DO in this world, as what we ARE. A good and holy life is like a flower, which, though it neither toils nor spins yet ever pours out a rich perfume, and thus performs a holy ministry.

"God has saved us, and called us to a holy life" 2 Timothy 1:9

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Leaving the ordering and outcome of it to His wisdom

"Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7

During the brief pauses of a great battle, the soldiers heard a sparrow sing snatches of song from among the branches of a tree. Then, when the awful roar burst out again, its song was hushed.

Is that the full meaning of the peace that Christ promises? Is it only a sweet bird-note now and then, amid the long days and years of discontent and struggle? They sadly misread the blessed words of Divine comfort, who find nothing better than this promise.

We are permitted to roll our care entirely over to God and to let it stay there! We are to put the broken plan, the shattered hope, the tangled work, the complicated affair into the hands of the God of providence, leaving the ordering and outcome of it to His wisdom.

The provocation,
the friction,
the burden which presses sorely,
the annoyance,
the hindrance
instead of permitting ourselves to be vexed, exasperated, or disturbed by them we are quietly to turn the matter over to God, and then go on calmly to the next duty which comes to our hand.

"Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you. He shall never permit the righteous to be moved." Psalm 55:22

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A writer says:
A cold firebrand and a burning lamp started out one day to see what they could find.

The cold firebrand came back and wrote in its journal that the whole world was very dark. It did not find a place wherever it went in which there was light. Everywhere was darkness.

The burning lamp, when it came back, wrote in its journal: "Wherever I went it was light. I did not find any darkness in all my journey." The whole world was light. The lamp carried light with it, and when it went abroad it illuminated everything. The dead firebrand carried no light, and it found none where it went.

Just so, living men and women go through the world, and, returning, write records of observation just as diverse as these. Some find only gloom in the fairest paths, and amid the loveliest scenes, they see nothing beautiful. Others find nothing but beauty and brightness even in the deepest valleys of earth. Each one finds just what he takes out in himself. The colors he sees, are the tints of his own inner life.

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Our lives may be stripped bare

"Whom have I in Heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26

What is the loss of money, houses, costly furniture, musical instruments, and works of art while God remains? What are temporal and worldly losses of the sorest kind while God's love remains? There is surely enough in Him, to compensate a thousand times for every earthly deprivation. Our lives may be stripped bare home, friends, riches, comforts gone; every sweet voice of love, every note of joy silenced and we may be driven out from brightness, music, tenderness, and shelter into the cold ways of sorrow; yet, if we have God Himself left, ought it not to suffice?

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights!" Habakkuk 3:17-19

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Never, Lord!

"From that time on, Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things . . . and that He must be killed . . .
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to You!"
Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan!"
Matthew 16:21-23

Our best friends may become hindrances and tempters to us. In their love for us, they may seek to keep us from entering paths of duty which will lead to sacrifice. Parents may seek to restrain their children from going to dangerous foreign mission fields.

Any of us, in the warmth of our affection for our loved ones, may seek to dissuade them from perilous or costly service which it may be their duty to undertake. We need to guard ourselves at this point.

The path of true success, does not always lie along the sunny hillside; sometimes it goes down into the dark valley of self-sacrifice. And if we try to hinder anyone from entering upon hard duties, urging them to choose easier ways we may be doing Satan's work. We may be plucking the crown from the brow of our friend, by holding back his feet from the way of the cross!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Until they are vanishing out of our sight

We never see the beauty of our beloved ones until they are vanishing out of our sight. While they were with us, we were impatient with their faults. Their bad habits fretted us. But when death touched them it clothed them in a garb of brilliant beauty. They appeared transfigured. Out of the dull, faulty character, sprang a radiant angelic form, and hovered just beyond our reach forever. What joy and blessing it would have brought to our lives to have seen the beauty and the worth, before the vanishing!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Bring the boy here to Me!

"Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything!" Luke 5:5

"I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not heal him."
Jesus replied, "Bring the boy here to Me!" Matthew 17:16-17 

When teachers have incorrigible scholars in their classes on whom they can make no impression, their discouragement and failure should lead them to bring them to Jesus, for He is yet able to take them and change them into noble beauty. When troubled souls have sought in vain for comfort and help from the Church and from Christian ministers they should go to Christ themselves, for He can comfort. No matter in what we have been defeated, Christ stands ready to take our humiliation and turn it into victory. The disciples toiled all night in vain but, when they dropped their net at the Lord's bidding, great was their success. So always, in the shadows of our human failure, He stands to give blessing.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The secret of being content

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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 need. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:11-13

It is not so much the unfavorable outward conditions in life, which we need to have changed as the attitudes of the inner life. The cause of discontent is not in our external circumstances but in our minds and hearts.

Get the song into your heart and you will hear songs all around you. Even the wailing storm will make music for you. Get the beauty and the good into your own soul and you will see only beauty and good in all things. Get the peace of God deep into your own life and you will find peace in every condition of life.

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He has given us very great and precious promises!

"He has given us very great and precious promises!" 2 Peter 1:4

The words of Christ still have the same power now, as they did when He walked this earth. They are yet . . .
  calming spiritual tempests,
  opening spiritually blind eyes,
  expelling evil spirits,
  and raising the spiritually dead.
They are yet giving . . .
  comfort to sorrowing ones,
  and hope to despairing ones,
  and forgiveness to penitents.
They are still . . .
  changing hearts,
  sweetening bitter fountains, and
  making flowers bloom, where only thorns grew before.

If you are weary, or in sorrow, and pillow your head on one of His precious promises you will find that you are lying on your Father's bosom, close to His warm, beating heart. Our richest treasures today, are the promises of Christ.

"You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed!" Joshua 23:14

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

When others wrong us

"A time to be silent" Ecclesiastes 3:7

"But I tell you: Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Matthew 5:39

There are times when silence is golden, when victory can be gained only by not answering a word. Many of the painful quarrels and much of the bitterness of life, would never be known if we would learn to keep silence when others wrong us. We may choke back the angry word which flies to our lips. The insults of others can never really harm us.

"When they hurled their insults at Him He did not retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly." 1 Peter 2:23

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It is not easy to become a holy man a Christly man

It always costs unsparing toil, to carve a beautiful and holy life. It costs self-discipline, anguish ofttimes as we must deny ourselves and cut off the things which we love. SELF must be crucified if the noble Christian ideal is ever to shine in its beauty in our life.

Michaelangelo used to say, as the chippings fell thick and fast from the marble onto the floor of his studio, "While the marble wastes the image grows."

Just so, there must be a wasting of self, a chipping away continually of the things which are dear to our human nature if the things which are true and pure and holy and lovely are to be produced in us. It is not easy to become a holy man a Christly man. Yet we must never forget that it is possible. God never yet put into a soul, a dream of holy manhood or womanhood, which He is not able and ready to help make real.

"To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:29

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our life-building

"Each one should be careful how he builds." 1 Corinthians 3:10

We ourselves are always the real builders in our life. Others may lift the blocks into place but we must lay them on the wall. Our own hands give the touches of beauty, or of marring   no matter what other hands hold the brushes or mix the colors for us. If our life-building is marred or unsightly when it is finished we cannot say it was some other's fault. Others may have sinned against you and you may have been harmed by them. Others may have sorely wronged you and the hurt yet stays in your life. Still you are the builder of your own life. Even the broken fragments of what seems a ruin, you can take, and with them, through God's grace, you can make a noble life-building.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The most humble Christian life

"His master replied: Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" Matthew 25:21

There is never a life lived for God, which is useless or lost. The most humble Christian life writes its history and leaves its impression somewhere, and God will open His books at the last, and men and angels will read the record.

In this world, these quiet lives are like those modest lowly flowers which make no show but which, hidden away under the tall plants and grasses, pour out sweet perfumes and fill the air with their fragrances. And in Heaven they will receive their reward not praise of men but open confession by the Lord Himself in the presence of the angels and of the Father.

"Then the King will say to those on His right: Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me." Matthew 25:34-36

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Beautiful endings

We all want to have beautiful endings to our lives. We want to leave sweet memories behind, in the hearts of those who know and love us. We want our names to be fragrant in the homes on whose thresholds our footfalls are accustomed to be heard. We want the memory of our last parting with our friends, to live as a tender joy with them as the days pass away. We want, if we should stand by a friend's coffin tomorrow, to have the consciousness that we have done nothing to embitter his life.

We can make sure of these things only by so living always, that any day would make a tender and beautiful last day; that any hand-grasp would be a fitting farewell; that any hour's fellowship with a friend or neighbor would leave a fragrant memory; and that no treatment of another would leave a regret or cause a pang if death or space should divide us forever.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Throw that worthless servant outside!

"Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Matthew 25:30

Our humility serves us falsely, when it leads us to shrink from any duty. The plea of unfitness or inability, is utterly insufficient to excuse us. It is too startlingly like that offered by the one-talented man in the parable, whose gift was so small that there seemed no use in trying to employ it. The shocking light which the sequel to his story flashes upon us, should arouse us to take our personal responsibility seriously, and to hasten to employ every shred of a gift which God has bestowed upon us.

God does not bestow His blessings where they will be hoarded or used selfishly. He loves to put His very best gifts, into the hands of those who will not store them away in barns, or fold them up in napkins and hide them away. He puts songs into the hearts of those who will sing them out again. This is the secret of that promise, "For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance," and of that other little understood, little believed word of Christ, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Heaven's blessing comes, not upon the receiving but upon the dispensing. Men are good and great before God, not as they gather into their hands and hearts the abundant gifts of God, whether temporal or spiritual but as their gathering augments their usefulness, and makes them greater blessings to others.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Only the living sacrifice is pleasing to God

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1

The old monks used to hide away in deserts and mountains and in monastery cells, as far as possible from human sin and need and thought that was the kind of service Christ wanted. But they were only wasting away, in idle daydream, useless sacrifice, unavailing suffering, and hideous self-torture the glorious gifts which God had bestowed upon them to be used in serving others.

Only the living sacrifice is pleasing to God. We bring our natural endowments, our acquired powers or gains, our gifts and blessings, to His feet; and, touching them with His blessing, He gives them back to us and says, "Take these again and use them for Me in bearing joy, help, comfort, cheer, or inspiration to those about you and in life's paths who need your ministries."

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The sweeping away of our earthly hopes

Often we do not learn the depth and riches of God's love, and the sweetness of His presence until other joys vanish out of our hands, and other beloved idols fade away out of sight. The loss of temporal things, seems ofttimes to be necessary to empty our hearts that they may receive unseen and eternal realities. The door is never opened to Jesus, until the soul's dead joys are borne out; then, while it stands open, He enters bearing into it immortal joys. How often is it true that the sweeping away of our earthly hopes, reveals the glory of our heart's refuge in God!

Someone has beautifully said, "Our refuges are like the nests of birds: in summer they are hidden among the green leaves but in winter they are seen among the naked branches." Worldly losses but strip off the foliage, and disclose to us our heart's warm nest in the bosom of God.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The alabaster jars of your love and tenderness

"A woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head." Mark 14:3

Do not keep the alabaster jars of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them. The things you mean to say when they are gone say before they go.

If a sermon helps you it will do the preacher good to tell him of it. If the editor writes an article that you like he can write a still better one next week if you send him a note of thanks. If a book you read is helpful do you not owe it to the author to write him a word of acknowledgment? If you know a weary or neglected one, or one over-burdened it would be a holy work to seek to . . .
  put a little brightness and cheer into his life,
  manifest true sympathy with him, and
  put into his trembling hand the cup filled with the wine of human love!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What a wondrous sphere of usefulness

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." Proverbs 15:30

We can strengthen and uplift others, even in . . .
  our greetings,
  the most casual conversations,
  the expression we wear on our faces as we move along the street,
  the gentle sympathy which adds such a thrill of strength to fainting weariness.

To meet some people on the sidewalk and have their cheery "Good morning!" makes one happier all day. To encounter others, is as depressing as meeting a funeral procession!

A joyful person scatters gladness like song-notes. A consecrated Christian life sheds a tender warmth wherever it moves. What a wondrous sphere of usefulness is thus opened to every one of us!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He gives always sufficient grace

"Your shoes shall be iron and bronze. As your days so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25

God adapts His grace to the peculiarities of each of His children's necessities. For rough, flinty paths He provides shoes of iron. He never sends anyone to climb sharp, rugged mountainsides wearing silken slippers. He gives always sufficient grace.
As the burdens grow heavier the strength increases.
As the difficulties thicken He draws closer.
As the trials become sorer the trusting heart grows calmer.

Jesus always sees His disciples when they are toiling in the waves, and at the right moment comes to deliver them. The sharper the temptations the more of Divine grace is granted. There is, therefore, no trial or difficulty or hardship, in which we cannot live beautiful lives of Christian faithfulness and holy conduct.

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

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Seeds of kindness

It is not only our elaborately wrought deeds, which leave results behind. Much of the best work we do in this world, is done unconsciously. There are many people who are busied in what is called secular toil, that they can find few moments to give to works of benevolence. But they come out every morning from the presence of God and go to their daily business or toil; and all day, as they move about, they drop gentle words from their lips, and scatter seeds of kindness along their path. Tomorrow flowers of the garden of God spring up in the hard, dusty streets of earth, and along the paths of toil in which their feet have trodden.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The law of Christian forbearance

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling! There is no blemish in you!" Song of Songs 4:7

Does Christ look upon us sharply, critically, suspiciously? He sees every infirmity in us but it is as though He did not see it. His love overlooks it. He throws a veil over our faults. He continues to pour His own love upon us, in spite of all our blemishes and our ill-treatment of Him.

The law of Christian forbearance
requires the same in us. We must not keep our fault-finding eye ever on the watchtower or at the windows looking out for neglects, discourtesies, wrongs, or grievances of any kind. We must not be hasty to think evil of others. We had better be blind, not perceiving at all the apparent rudeness or insult. It is well not to hear all that is said; or, if hear we must to be as though we heard not.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Not doing the things which they ought to have done

Love always gives. If it will not give it is not love. It is measured always by what it will give. The needs of other people are therefore Divine commands to us, which we dare not disregard or disobey. To refuse to help a brother who stands before us in any kind of real need is as great a sin as to break one of the commandments of the Decalogue. We like to think that there is no sin, in mere not doing. But Jesus, in His wonderful picture of the Last Judgment, makes men's condemnation turn on not doing the things which they ought to have done. They have simply not fed the hungry, nor clothed the naked, nor visited the sick, nor helped the prisoner.

"Then he will say to those on His left: Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!
For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink,
I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in,
I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me,
I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me!" Matthew 25:41-43

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Spiritual building

"Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock!" Matthew 7:24

We must not measure spiritual building by earthly standards. Where the heart remains loyal and true to Christ; where the cross of suffering is taken up cheerfully and borne sweetly the temple of our heart rises continually toward finished beauty.

But there are abandoned life buildings, whose story tells only of shame and failure. Many people begin to follow Christ, and after a little time turn away from their profession, and leave only a pretentious beginning to stand as a ruin, to be laughed at by the world, and to dishonor the Master's name.

"This man began to build and was not able to finish!" Luke 14:30

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The castaway fragments of lives

"Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost." John 6:12

It is strange how many of earth's most beautiful lives, have grown up out of what seemed defeat and failure. Indeed, God builds spiritual loveliness, out of the castaway fragments of lives even of sin's debris!

In a great cathedral there is a window made by an apprentice, out of the bits of stained glass which were thrown away as refuse and worthless, when the other windows were made. Yet this is the most beautiful window of all.

Just so, you can build a life of noble character, in spite of all the hurts and injuries done to you, wittingly or unwittingly, by others with the fragments of the broken hopes and joys, and the lost opportunities which lie strewn about your feet. No others by their worst work of hurt or marring, can prevent you building a life of beautiful character.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Not unto us!

"Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us but to Your name be the glory!" Psalm 115:1

In all of our service to Christ, let us beware lest we take that honor which belongs to Christ. Let us also beware, lest our friends see only us and not Christ. Let US keep ourselves out of the way that they may behold HIM! Let us remember always, that there is One standing unseen beside us, while we do our work, who is far mightier than we and that we should strive only and always to put the honor upon Him, utterly forgetting ourselves.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The true conception of Christ's character

"Your God has anointed You with the oil of joy above Your fellows!" Psalm 45:7

Amid all His sorrows, under all the deep shadows which hung over His life Christ carried a heart of joy. Exteriorly, His life was hard and full of grief but the hardness did not crush His spirit. His heart was like one of those fresh-water springs that burst up in the sea ever sweet under all the salty bitterness. Not one cynical word ever fell from His lips. He did not frown upon the children's plays, upon the marriage festivities, or upon the sweet pleasures of home. A gracious joyfulness plays over nearly every chapter of His blessed life.

The true conception of Christ's character is of a deeply serious man, earnest, thoughtful, living an intense life but never somber, gloomy, or cynical. The deep earnestness of His character, was struck through with a quiet joy, and a calm, steady light of a holy peace.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We may not seek our own pleasure in any way

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4

Not a day passes in the commonest experiences of life, in which other people do not stand before us with their needs, appealing to us for some service which we may render. It may be only . . .
  ordinary courtesies,
  gentle kindness to those in our home circle,
  patient treatment of our neighbors or acquaintances,
  the thoughtful showing of interest in old people or in children.
On all sides, the lives of other people touch ours, and we cannot do just as we please, thinking only of ourselves and our own comfort and good unless we choose to be false to all the instincts of humanity, and all the requirements of the law of Christian love. We must think continually of other people. We may not seek our own pleasure in any way without asking whether it will harm or mar the comfort of some other.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Do we understand what true love is?

"Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her" Ephesians 5:25

Do we understand what true love is? We like to be loved that is, to have other people love us, and live for us, and do things for us. But that is only miserable selfishness, if it goes no further. It is a desecration of the sacred name, to think that love, at its heart, means getting and receiving.

Nay, true love gives! That is what God's love does it finds its blessedness in giving. "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son." That is what Christ's love does it pours out its very lifeblood, to the last drop. The essential meaning of loving, must always be giving not receiving.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It is more blessed to give than to receive

"And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:27-28

It is God's will that we should love others but it may not always be God's will that we should be loved. It seems to be the mission of some in this world, to give and not to receive. They are called to serve, to minister, to wear out their life in giving sweetness, comfort, and help to others while none come to minister to them, to pour love's sweetness into their hearts, and to give them daily bread of affection, cheer, and help.

In many homes we find such lives a patient wife and mother, or a gentle, unselfish sister blessing, caring for, serving, giving perpetually love's richest gifts themselves meanwhile unloved, unappreciated, unrecognized, and unhelped.

"The Lord Jesus Himself said: It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35

We are apt to pity such people but they are nearer the heavenly ideal of doing God's will, than are some of those who sit in sunshine of love, receiving, ministered unto but not giving or serving!

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

An easy, self-indulgent life

"Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her" Ephesians 5:25

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world" Galatians 1:3-4

It was not easy for Christ to redeem us. Virtue went out of Him continually to supply the needs in other lives. At last He literally opened His heart and poured out the last drop of its rich blood to become life for dead souls.

We cannot live a Christian life that will please Christ, without some cost to ourselves. It can never be an easy thing to be such a disciple as Christ wants you to be. An easy, self-indulgent life, never can be a deeply Christlike life.

"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:27 

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Able to overcome life's difficulties

"Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness." Hebrews 12:10

God's aim for His redeemed children, is not to make things easy for us but to make something of us to help us grow strong to transform us into Christlike character.

We need to keep this Divine principle in mind in our helping of others. It is usually easier to give relief, than it is to help another to grow strong. Yet in many cases relief is the worst help we can give; the very best is inner help that which makes one stronger, purer, truer, braver; that which makes one able to overcome life's difficulties.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

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The loneliest of all human experiences

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

The loneliest of all human experiences, is that of dying. Human love cannot go beyond the edge of 'the valley of the shadow death'. But we need not be alone, even in that deepest of all loneliness, for if we are Christ's redeemed child, we can say, "Yet I am not alone, because my Savior is with me!" When the human hands unclasp us His hand will clasp ours the more firmly. When human loved faces fade out His face will shine above us in all its glorious brightness. When we must creep out of the bosom of human affection it will be only into the clasp of the everlasting arms, into the bosom of Christ! Death's loneliness will thus be filled with Divine companionship.

"I have set the LORD continually before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken!" Psalm 16:8

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Then the book was dull no longer

"He who does not love Me, will not obey My teaching." John 14:24

A young lady purchased a book and read a few pages but was not interested in it, and laid it aside. Some months afterwards she met the author and a tender friendship sprang up, ripening into love and betrothal. Then the book was dull no longer. Every sentence had a charm for her heart. Love was the interpreter.

Just so, to those who do not know Christ personally the Bible seems dry and uninteresting. But when they learn to know Him, and to love Him then all is changed; and the deeper their love for Him becomes, the more do the sacred pages glow with beauty and light.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." John 14:15

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The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4

There is a wondrous charm in a gentle spirit. For instance, the gentle girl in the home . . .
  may not be beautiful,
  may not be well educated,
  may not be talented,
  nor clever in any way;
but wherever she moves she leaves a blessing.

Let us pray for the spirit of gentleness, for no other gift will make us such a blessing to others!

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

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One of the happiest Christians I ever saw

"Songs in the night" Job 35:10

All true music is sweet but no songs have such sweetness in the ear of Christ, as those which rise out of sickrooms where patient sufferers sing in their pain, through all the long night-watches; or from the darkened chambers of grief where heart-broken mourners look up through their tears and praise God with quivering lips.

One of the happiest Christians I ever saw was a woman who for many years had not drawn a breath without agony. Every joint of her body was arthritic, and her life was a continual torture. But her face was radiant with the outshining of an inner joy, and her heart never ceased to sing. Such endurance in Christ's name, is the bringing of sweetest spices for Him.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The plodders

"Whatever your hand finds to do do it with all your might!" Ecclesiastes 9:10

The most useful people in any community, are the plodders who make choice of one class of work, and devote themselves to it year after year. It is better for most of us, that we devote ourselves to the helping and uplifting of a few people than that we scatter our influence over hundreds. Then we can make impressions on their lives that will last forever. Jesus gave His whole public life to twelve men but He so stamped His impress on their lives that they went out and moved the world.

"Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach" Mark 3:14

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We should bring our best

"After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." Matthew 2:11

It is not enough for us merely .  . .
  to sing our songs of praise to Christ,
  to look up adoringly into His face,
  to bow before Him in reverent worship,
  and to speak our heart's homage in words.
We should bring our gifts too, to lay at His feet. There is a great deal of mere sentiment in the consecration of many people and when there is call for gifts of sacrifice, or for real service, it instantly vanishes. People sing missionary hymns with great warmth, and when the collection box comes to them they have no gifts to offer. The Wise Men not only brought gifts but they brought those that were costly. We should bring our best:
  our gold, our frankincense and myrrh,
  the alabaster box of our heart's deepest love,
  and the best of all our life and service.

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A bitter cup is given

God gives His redeemed children blessings, as we need them. Every painful experience, brings to us its own store of blessings. Sorrow comes; but, veiled in the sorrow, the angel of comfort comes too. It grows dark, and then the lamps of promise shine out. Losses are met but there is a Divine secret that changes loss into gain. A bitter cup is given but it proves to be medicine for our soul. Death comes, and seems the end of all; but lo! it is only the beginning of life, for it leads us away from empty shadows to eternal realities!

"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

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This invests every Christian's life with a wondrous sacredness

"Serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

We are not here on earth to . . .
  receive and to gather but to give and to scatter;
  be served and treated generously but to serve, regardless of men's character or their treatment of us. This invests every Christian's life with a wondrous sacredness. It brings down our pride, and keeps it under our feet. It changes scorn to compassion. It softens our tones, and takes from us our haughty, dictatorial spirit.

Instead of being repelled by men's moral repulsiveness our pity should be stirred, and our hearts go out in deep, loving longing to heal and to bless them. Instead of being offended by men's rudeness and unkindness we should bear patiently with their faults, hoping to do them good. Nothing that they may do to us, should turn our love to hate. Following in the footsteps of our Savior, we should continue to seek their interests, despite their slights, insults, and cruelties.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" Philippians 2:3-5

"Whoever wishes to become great among you, shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you, shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:43-45

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Good and evil

Good and evil in certain qualities, do not lie very far apart.

For example, it is quite easy for devotion to principle to shade off into obstinacy.

It is easy for self-respect, consciousness of ability to pass over into miserable self-conceit.

It is easy for a man to make himself believe that he is cherishing justifiable anger when in truth he is only giving way to very bad temper.

It is easy to let gentleness become weakness; and tolerance toward sinners to grow into tolerance toward sin.

It is easy for us to become very selfish in many phases of our conduct while in general we are really quite unselfish.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Life is conflict!

"Fight the good fight of the faith." 1 Timothy 6:12

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes!" Ephesians 6:11

Life is conflict! Every good thing lies beyond a battlefield and we must fight our way to it. There must be a struggle to get it.

This is true in physical life: from infancy to old age, existence is a fight with infirmity and disease.

In mental life, the same is true. Education is a long conflict the powers of the mind have to fight their way to strength and development.

So it is in spiritual life: enemies throng the path and contest every step of progress. No one ever attains to beauty and nobleness of character, except through long and sore struggle.

"Therefore put on the full armor of God!" Ephesians 6:13

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8

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Perhaps few of us hear the honest truth about ourselves

Perhaps few of us hear the honest truth about ourselves
, until someone grows angry with us and blurts it out in bitter words. It may be an enemy who says the ugly thing about us; or it may be someone who is base and unworthy of respect. But, whoever it may be we would better ask whether there may not be some truth in the criticism; and if there is, then set ourselves to get rid of our fault. In whatever way we are made aware of a fault, we ought to be grateful for the fact, for the discovery gives us an opportunity to rise to a holier, nobler life or to a higher and finer achievement.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'" Luke 14:28-30

Sin in some form draws many a builder away from his work, to leave it unfinished.
It may be the world's fascinations, which lure him from Christ's side.

It may be sinful companionships, which lure him from loyal friendship to his Savior.

It may be that riches enter his heart, and blind his eyes to the attractions of Jesus.
It may be some secret debasing lust, which gains power over him and paralyzes his spiritual life.

Many are there now amid the world's throngs, who once sat at the Lord's Table, and were among God's people. Their lives are unfinished buildings, towers begun with great enthusiasm, and then left to tell their sad story of failure to all who pass by. They began to build and were not able to finish.

"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him: If you continue in My word then you are truly disciples of Mine." John 8:31

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The God also of the broken-hearted

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

The God of the Bible is the God also of the broken-hearted.

The world cares little for broken hearts. Indeed, men ofttimes break hearts by their cruelty, their falseness, their injustice, their coldness and then move on as heedlessly as if they had trodden only on a worm!

But God cares. The broken-heartedness attracts Him. The lament of grief on earth, draws Him down from Heaven.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

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If we could change places with anyone

If we could change places with anyone the one of all we know who seems to have the most favored lot; if we could take this person's place, with all its conditions, its circumstances, its cares, its responsibilities there is little doubt that we would quickly cry out to God to give us back our own old place, and our own old burdens. It is because we do not know all, that we think our neighbor's load lighter and more easily carried than our own.

"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11-13

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Does God give more thought to trees and plants than to His own children?

"He led them by a right way" Psalm 107:7

God leads every one of His children by the right way. He knows where and under what influences, each particular life will ripen best. One tree grows best in the sheltered valley, another by the water's edge, another on the bleak mountaintop swept by storms. There is a marvelous adaptation in all of nature every tree or plant is found in the exact locality where the most favorable conditions for its growth exist. Does God give more thought to trees and plants than to His own children? He also places us amid the circumstances and experiences in which our life will grow and ripen the best. The peculiar discipline to which we are each subjected, is the discipline we each need to bring out in us the beauties and graces of true spiritual character. God knows what is best for us and He makes no mistakes!

To follow Christ, is to go where He leads, without questioning or demurring. It may be to a life of trial, suffering, or sacrifice but that does not matter; we have nothing whatever to do with the kind of life to which our calls us. Our only simple duty is to obey and follow. We know that Jesus will lead us only in right paths, and that the way He takes slopes upward, and ends at the feet of God in glory. Each new day on which we are about to enter is unopened, and we know not what shall befall us; but if we follow Christ we need have no fear. So let us leave the old day with gratitude to God for its mercies, with penitence for its failures and sins and let us enter the new with earnest resolve in Christ's name to make it the best and most beautiful we have ever lived.

"And 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

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Practice-lessons in the application of the theories of Christian life

Every obstacle to true living, should only serve us with fresh determination to succeed. We should use each difficulty and hardship, as a leverage to gain some new advantage. We should compel our temptations, to minister to us instead of hindering us. We should regard all our provocations, annoyances, and trials, of whatever sort as practice-lessons in the application of the theories of Christian life. It will be seen in the end, that the hardships and difficulties are by no means the smallest blessings in our lives. Someone compares them to the weights of a clock, without which there could be no steady, orderly life.

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No prayer, therefore, is pleasing to God

"He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying: O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39

The best thing possible for us is always what God wills for us. Sometimes it may be pain, or worldly loss, or sore bereavement; yet His will is always love, and in simple acquiescence to this will, we shall always find our highest good. No prayer, therefore, is pleasing to God, which does not end with this refrain of Gethsemane, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." This is the way also to peace. As we yield with love and joy, and merge our own will in our Father's the peace of God flows like a river into our souls.

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This wonderful system of compensations

Every shadow, has its light;
every night, has its morning;
every pang of pain, has its thrill of pleasure;
every salt tear, has its crystal beauty;
every weakness, has its element of strength;
every loss, has its gain.

So all through life, these balancings run. He is not a thoughtful or reverent observer, who has not been struck by this wonderful system of compensations found in all God's providence. Wherever we turn we can see it if only we have eyes to see.

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Heavenly influences

To those whose hearts are full of love and grace, there are large opportunities for quiet and unpurposed usefulness, opened in the social life. What is needed is a deep and sincere piety which breathes out unconsciously in face, and word, and act, and manner like the fragrance of a flower, like the shining of a star. Indeed, its unconsciousness is its greatest power.

She who goes intending to say certain things, or carry certain blessings, or leave certain influences may fail. But, going from house to house with a soul full of goodness, purity, and love, with a heart sincerely longing to leave blessings everywhere, with a speech seasoned with grace and breathing kindness and love it is impossible not to leave heavenly influences in every social encounter.

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The root

The root is not a very beautiful part of a tree it is hidden away out of sight, and nobody praises it; yet it is essential to the tree's life.

In like manner, there is a hidden part in every Christian's life. It does not seem to bless the world in any way. It is the heart-life, heart-faith, heart-love, heart-communion with God in His Word and in prayer. No one praises a Christian's inner, closet life it is secret, and no one sees it. Yet it is the root of the whole strong, beautiful life which men do see and praise, and whose ripe fruits feed their hunger.

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There is no temper so obdurately bad

"Love is patient, love is kind" 1 Corinthians 13:4

Life is too short to spend even one day of it in bickering and strife. Love is too sacred to be forever lacerated and torn by the ugly briers of sharp temper. Surely we ought to learn to be patient with others since God has to show every day such infinite patience toward us. Is not the very essence of true love, the spirit which is not easily provoked, which bears all things?
Can we not, then, train our life to sweeter gentleness?
Can we not learn to be touched even a little roughly, without resenting it?
Can we not bear little injuries and apparent injustices, without flying into an unseemly rage?
Can we not have in us something of the mind of Christ which will enable us, like Him, to endure all wrong and injury and give back no word or look of bitterness? The way over which we and our friend walk together, is too short to be spent in wrangling.

There is no temper so obdurately bad that it cannot be trained into sweetness. The grace of God can take the most unlovely life and transform it into the image of Christ!

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Go to the homes of the worst people

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed" Luke 4:18

There is no danger of receiving defilement from touching the worst outcasts, if you go to them with the love of God in your heart, yearning to do them good. Do not stand far off and toss the bread of life to them as men throw gifts into leper hospitals. Do not slip your tract under the door and hurry away as if you were ashamed of what you had done. Go to the homes of the worst people, and give them your hand; it will not soil it to clasp theirs, and you never can know what a thrill of new life it may start in hearts long unused to tenderness, yet yearning for sympathy. Put heart and inspiration into all that you do. You never can know what a thrill of inspiration and life, you may give to weary and disheartened ones.

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The best way to help others

The parent who does not pray for a child, whatever else he may do for him sins against the child. Whoever fails to pray for one he loves, fails in the most sacred duty of love, because he withholds love's best help. A prayerless love may be very tender, and may speak soft words of sweetest sound; but it lacks the deepest expression and the noblest music of speech. We never help our dear ones so well, as when we pray for them.

God has put in our power, the ability to help each other in many ways:
  sometimes by deeds which lift away burdens,
  sometimes by words which inspire courage and strength,
  sometimes by sympathy which halves sorrow.
Yet there is no other way in which we can serve others so wisely, so effectively, so divinely as by intercession for them. Our hands are clumsy and awkward, and ofttimes hurt the life we would heal with our touch, or strengthen or uphold with our strength. But in prayer, we can reach our friend through God, and His hand is infinitely gentle, and never hurts a life.

"Brethren, pray for us" 1 Thessalonians 5:25

"Finally, brethren, pray for us" 2 Thessalonians 3:1

"Pray for us" Hebrews 13:18

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Here is a little orphan child

"He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out." John 10:3

"I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me. I lay down My life for the sheep." John 10:14-15

There is something very wonderful in the thought that Christ calls His sheep by their individual names. Christ has millions of His people scattered over all the world; it is hard for us to realize that every one of these, He knows personally by name. The Bible tells us that He calls the stars by their names but then the stars are so big, that it does not seem so strange.

But here is a poor Christian widow, one of His own, living in a desolate garret in the heart of a great city, amid thronging thousands. Does He know her name? Here is a little orphan child, one of His own, left with no human friend to protect. Does He know this little one? Certainly He does!

This ought to be a very precious truth to every one who loves Christ and belongs to Him. He knows if any of His own are suffering, or in need, or if they are in danger; and He will never neglect even the least of them!

"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

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A mere dreary treadmill life

Our days are pretty much the same; it lies with ourselves, whether we make them radiant and beautiful, whether we fill them with usefulness. A mere dreary treadmill life waking, eating, drinking, walking, working, sleeping is not enough to make any life worthy; we must put the glory
  of love,
  of best effort,
  of sacrifice,
  of prayer,
  of upward looking and Heavenward reaching,
into the dull routine of our life's every day and then the most burdensome and uneventful life will be made splendid with the glory of God.

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do do all to the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest

"Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31

There never is a moment without its duty; and, if we are living near to Christ and following Him closely we shall never be left in ignorance of what He wants us to do.

If there is nothing absolutely nothing for us to do at any time, then we may be sure that the Master wants us to sit down a moment at His feet and rest. For He is not a hard Master, and, besides, rest is as needful in its time as work. We need to rest in order to work; so we must not worry when there come moments which seem to have no task for our hands. The next thing, then, is to sit down and rest a while.

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Though all seems lost

There are some everywhere who in the discouragement of defeat and failure, feel that it is now too late for them to make their character beautiful. They imagine that have lost their opportunity. But this is never true.

A poet tells of walking in his garden and seeing a bird's nest lying on the ground. The storm had swept through the tree and ruined the nest. While he mused sadly over the wreck of the bird's home, he looked up and there he saw them building a new one amid the branches. The birds teach us immortals a lesson. Though all seems lost, let us not sit down and weep in despair but let us rise and begin to build again!

No one can undo a wrong past. No one can repair the ruin of years that are gone. We cannot live our lives over again. But at our Father's feet, we can begin anew and make all our life new.

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Our hours of communion with Christ

God gives us . . .
  our spiritual raptures,
  our glimpses of His face and His glory,
  our foretastes of celestial joy,
  our fragments of heavenly vision
for the very purpose of making us stronger and braver for duty. It would be sad indeed, then, if they make us less fit for life here with its burdens and cares. We should seek to bring the heavenly visions down, and give them reality in our lives, that others may see the beauty too, and be cheered by it. Our hours of communion with Christ, should leave some gleams of brightness on our faces, as we come to walk again in life's dusty ways.

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Why, mamma, Jesus could never use my doll

Christ may sometimes have special use for even the humblest of our possessions. The Lord had need of the good Samaritan's donkey to carry the wounded man to the inn. He had need of the lad's five loaves to feed the multitude.

A lady was trying to teach her child that she ought to give everything to Christ, to be used in any way He might choose. "Why, mamma, Jesus could never use my doll,"she replied. Yet in an hour the child was letting a poor waif that came to the door, play with her doll. Was not the Lord using it then? The Lord may need our horses to carry burdens for others, or to carry those who cannot walk. He often has need of our money, our hands, our feet, our lips, our influence; and we do well when we hold all our possessions ready at any call of His, to be used as He desires.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Eyes of love

We should train ourselves to see the good, not the evil, in others. We should speak approving words of what is beautiful in them not bitter, condemning words of what may be imperfect or unlovely. We should look at others through eyes of love, not eyes of envy or of selfishness; and should seek to heal with true affection's gentleness, the things that are not as they should be.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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Beautiful homes!

Some people like to gather beautiful things into their homes paintings, sculptures, rare things from foreign lands, objects of interest and attractiveness. Some pride themselves on the elegance of their furniture and the fineness of the decorations in their houses.

But in no other way can the Christian bring into his home so much beauty, so much joy and comfort, so much true peace as by making Christ his abiding guest. No matter how quietly Jesus enters, the neighbors will soon know it, and they will also get the benefit and blessing of it; for from a home where Christ abides, there always go forth a fragrant influence and a loving, helpful ministry.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

His transforming presence

Christ never can be hidden. He can be in no place in this world very long and His presence not be recognized. You may hide sweet flowers so that they cannot be seen but soon the fragrance will disclose their hiding-place. Just so, the sweetness of the Savior's life and love, will always tell when He is near.

When He enters a human heart, He cannot be hidden for soon His spirit begins to breathe out in all the words, actions, and life of the new follower.

When He enters a home, He cannot long be hidden, for the home is changed worldliness, bitterness, and sin will give place to prayer and praise, to the spirit of love and gentleness, and to purity and holiness.

When He enters a community, He cannot remain concealed.

Christ will always reveal His transforming presence in this world.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We are in Divine keeping

"My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27-28

We are not saving ourselves. A strong One, the mighty God, holds us in His 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. While we trust in Him, we never can sink away in any floods. 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 love!

"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" Romans 8:37-39

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The world crowns success but God crowns faithfulness

"She has done what she could Mark 14:8

It is not great things that God requires of us unless our mission is to do great things. He asks only that we be faithful in the duties which come to our hand in our commonplace days. That means that we do all our work as well as we can; that we serve well in the varied relationships of life in which from time to time we find ourselves; that we stand heroically in our lot, resisting temptation and continuing true and loyal to God; and that we fulfill our mission in all ways according to the grace given unto us, using every gift and talent for the glory of God and the good of the world. The world crowns success but God crowns faithfulness.

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" Matthew 25:23

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The old monks had a superstitious notion

The old monks had a superstitious notion, that if they would gaze continuously and intensely on the figure of Christ on His cross which hung upon their cell wall that the marks of His wounds would appear on their bodies the print of the nails in His hands and feet, the scar of the spear-gash in His side.

This is but a gross representation of the spiritual truth which lies under it that beholding Christ in Scripture by faith, produces the real "marks of the Lord Jesus" in our souls. Looking upon Him with steady, loving gaze, the glorious vision that our eyes behold prints itself deep in our hearts, and the "beauty of the Lord" shines out in our dull faces!

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory!" 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Enforced rest

"Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31

There are lives which to our eyes, seem only to have been begun and then abandoned which to God's eyes are still rising into more and more graceful beauty.

Here is one who began his life-work with all the ardor of youth, and all the enthusiasm of a consecrated heart. For a time his hand never tired, his energy never slackened, and friends expected great things from him. Then his hands gave way. The diligent hand lies folded now on his bosom. His enthusiasm no longer drives him afield. His work lies unfinished.

"What a pity!" men say. But wait. He has not left an unfinished life-work as God sees it. He is resting in submission at the Master's feet, and is growing meanwhile as a Christian. The spiritual temple in his soul, is rising slowly in the silence. Every day is adding something to the beauty of his character, as he learns the lessons of patience, trust, peace, submission, and contentment. His building at the last, will be more beautiful than if he had been permitted to toil on through many busy years, carrying out his own plans. He is fulfilling God's plan for his life.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The way to spiritual health

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

There is no such thing as a consecrated life, which is not consecrated to Christian service. The way to spiritual health, lies in the paths of toil. The reason of so much doubt and discontent in the hearts of Christian people, is that so many sit with folded hands, with no occupation but brooding over their own problems and cares. If they would but go out and begin to toil for others, they would forget themselves, and the joy of the Lord would flow into their souls. There is no way to fulfill life's grand meaning, and to enter into life's fullest joy but by living lives of devotion to Christian service.

Usefulness is the true measure of living. Our Lord made fruit the test of discipleship. What is fruit? It is something which the tree bears to feed men's hunger. In discipleship, then, fruit is something which grows upon our lives which others may take and feed upon. It is anything in us, or that we do, which does good to others. A fruitful Christian life is one, therefore, which is a blessing to men one that is useful and helpful.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The only really happy people in the world

"To guide our feet into the way of peace." Luke 1:79

"Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace." Proverbs 3:17

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

A great many people think that the Christian life is hard and unpleasant, that it is a rough and steep road; but truly, it is a way of pleasantness and peace. The only really happy people in the world, are those who are following Christ along the way of holiness. They have their share of troubles, disappointments, sorrows but all the time in the midst of these, they have a secret peace of which the world knows nothing.

There are paths in the valleys, among the great mountains, which are sweet pictures of the Christian's way of peace. High up among the peaks and crags, the storms sweep in wild fury but on these valley-paths, no breath of tempest ever blows. Flowers bloom and springs of water gurgle along the wayside, and trees cast their grateful shadow, and bird-songs fill the air. Such is Christ's "way of peace" in this world.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our commonest work among life's trivialities

"Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water'; so they filled them to the brim." John 2:7

The servants carried only common water from the spring but with Christ's blessing, the water became choice wine. So it always is, when we do what Christ bids us to do our most prosaic work leaves heavenly results. No labor is in vain, which is wrought in the Lord. Our commonest work among life's trivialities, in business, in the household, which seems but like the carrying of water to be emptied out again is transformed into radiant ministry, and leaves glorious results behind. The simplest things we do at Christ's bidding, may become immortal blessings to other souls, or to our own.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Grace in the heart

One of the first results of grace in the heart is sweeter, kindlier, truer, more helpful living, in all life's common relationships. It makes a man . . .
  a kinder neighbor,
  a more thoughtful husband,
  a gentler father.

A Christian girl whose religion does not make her a better daughter and a more loving, patient sister has not rightly learned Christ. A wife and mother shows the beauty of holiness not only in her earnestness in prayer and church work but in her devotion to the interests of her home. Mrs. Prentiss said, "A mother can pray with a sick child on her lap, more acceptably than if she left it in order to go and pray by herself."

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble!" 1 Peter 3:8

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The lesson of peace is one that has to be learned in the school of life

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

"The fruit of the Spirit is . . . peace" Galatians 5:22

Christian peace is the calm of the heart which is not dependent on any circumstances, and which no circumstances, however full of danger or alarm, can break. Its secret is perfect trust in God. The lesson of peace is one that has to be learned in the school of life. It is not gotten by the changing of life's painful conditions, so as to hide one away beyond the reach of storm. Nor is it gained through the deadening of the feelings and sensibilities, so that life's pains and trials will no longer hurt the heart. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It comes through the encircling of the life with God's own peace.

"Do not be anxious 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

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Step by step

"I guide you in the way of wisdom, and lead you along straight paths." Proverbs 4:11

"He guides the humble in what is right, and teaches them His way." Psalm 25:9

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Psalm 32:8

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105

The law of Divine guidance is, "Step by step." One who carries a lantern on a country road at night sees only one step before him. If he takes that step, he carries his lantern forward, and thus makes another step plain. At length he reaches his destination in safety, without once stepping into darkness. The whole way has been made light for him, though only a single step of it at a time.

This illustrates the usual method of God's guidance. His Word is represented as a lamp unto the feet. It is a lamp not a blazing sun, nor even a lighthouse but a plain, common lamp or lantern which one can carry about in the hand. It is a lamp "unto the feet," not throwing its beams afar, not illumining a hemisphere but shining only on the one little bit of road on which the pilgrim's feet are walking.

"Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip." Psalm 17:5

"Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me." Psalm 119:133

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The charm of all

Bodily health
is beautiful, mental vigor is beautiful but heart purity is the charm of all. All spiritual loveliness begins within. That the beauty of the Lord our God may be on us, that the winning charm of God's loveliness may shine in the features of our life which men can see we must first have the Divine beauty in us. A holy heart will, in time, transfigure all the life. And the only way to have a holy heart, is to have Christ dwell within the heart and affections.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:23-24

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A happy heart makes the face cheerful

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:13

There is no cherished sin which does not work up out of the heart, however deeply it is hidden there, and reveal itself in some way in the face. In like manner, good in the heart works its way up into the face, and prints its own beauty there.

Love in the heart softens the features, and gives them a warmth like the gentle beauty of spring flowers.
in the heart soon gives a quiet calm to the countenance.
Many a perturbed, restless face, grows placid and reposeful under the influence of inner peace.
in the soul shows itself in the upward look and the thoughtful reverence which tells of communion with God.
Benevolence writes its autograph on brow and cheek.
Thus, in a sense, even the physical features share in the transfiguration of the life of faith and holiness.

"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7

"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life!" Proverbs 4:23

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There are times when we should stop praying!

"When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic: Son, your sins are forgiven." Mark 2:5

God can see faith. He can see it in the heart where it is exercised even before there has been any expression of it in word or act; but here the emphasis lies on the fact that He sees it in act. He is pleased when we show our faith by our works. There are many prayers without words, and God sees them, when He does not hear them.

There is in the Bible at least one instance of God forbidding spoken prayer, and commanding action instead. At the edge of the Red Sea He said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward!" Just so, we should learn to put our faith into instant act. There are times when we should stop praying, get up from our knees, and hasten out to duty!

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Well, I must walk now

There are troubles or misfortunes which have already passed why should we vex ourselves over these? We cannot help sorrowing, when a loved one has been taken from us but why should we refuse to acquiesce in the will of God? When some misfortune has taken money from us, or when some turn in affairs has hurt our worldly interests why should we sit down and grieve over the loss? Worry will not retrieve it, nor give us back the old favorable conditions.

It is a great deal more sensible for us to face the fact of our diminished resources, or to accept the new and changed conditions, adjusting ourselves to them, and go right on with our life. He was a wise traveler who, when his horse died, said, "Well, I must walk now," and trudged on with cheerful energy.

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Reckless words

"Reckless words pierce like a sword but the tongue of the wise brings healing!" Proverbs 12:18

Quietness is carried too far, when it makes us disloyal to the hearts which crave our words of love and sympathy.

But there is a quietness toward others, which all should cultivate. There are many words spoken, which ought never to pass the door of the lips. There are people who seem to exercise no restraint whatever on their speech! They allow every passing thought to take form in words. They never think what the effect of their words will be how they will fly like arrows shot by some careless marksman, and will pierce hearts they were never meant to hurt. Thus friendships are broken and injuries are inflicted, which can never be repaired. Careless words are forever making grief and sorrow in tender spirits.

We pity the mute whom sometimes we meet. Muteness is more blessed by far than speech, if all we can do with our marvelous gift is to utter bitter, angry, abusive, or sharp, cutting words.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

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The highest place to which anyone can attain in life

"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." 1 Corinthians 4:2

The highest place to which anyone can attain in life is that for which he was designed and made. The greatest thing anyone can do in this world is what God made him to do, whether it be to rule a kingdom, to write a nation's songs, or to keep a little home clean and tidy. The true goal of life is not to get rich, nor to be famous, nor to do great things but to be just what God meant us to be. If we fail in this, though we win a place far more conspicuous our life is a failure.

"She has done what she could!" Mark 14:8

"Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities." Luke 19:17

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She has done what she could!

If we cannot do the beautiful things which we see others doing for Christ, and which we long to do then we can at least do some lowly work for Him. We shall learn, too, that self-surrender to God, though our heart's fondest hope is laid down is, in God's sight, really the most beautiful thing we can do with our life. We shall also learn that the hands that can do no brilliant thing for God may yet become hands of blessing in the world. If we are truly fellow-workers with God, He can use whatever we have that we really surrender to Him. And ofttimes He can do more with our failures, than with our successes.

Life is measured by its final and permanent results. Not by the place a man occupies before the public but by the benefits and blessings which he leaves behind him in other lives must his true effectiveness be rated. It will be seen, in the great consummation, that those who have served silently, and without notoriety or fame, have in many cases achieved the most glorious permanent results!

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward!" Matthew 10:42

"She has done what she could!" Mark 14:8

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We walk amid the divine splendors

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard." Psalm 19:1-3

If we had eyes to see the glory of the Lord in the every day of Divine Providence, we would find light and comfort a thousand times where now we walk in darkness with sorrow, uncomforted. The glory of the Lord is everywhere! It shines . . .
  in the lowliest flower,
  in the commonest grass-blade,
  in every drop of dew,
  in every snowflake!
The glory of the Lord burns in every bush and tree. It lives in every sunbeam, in every passing cloud. It flows around us in the goodness of each bright day, and in the shelter and protection of every dark night. Yet how few of us see this glory. We walk amid the divine splendors but often see nothing of the brightness. We cry out for visions of God, when, if our eyes were opened, we would see God's face mirrored in all about us.

There is a legend of one who traveled many years and over many lands, seeking God but seeking in vain. Then, returning home, and taking up her daily duties, God appeared to her in these, showing her that He was ever close to her.

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Little portions

There is only one way of having all our day's work done when the day closes: we must do promptly and faithfully each hour's duty in its own hour. God does not give us our work in one great heap but in little portions, just large enough to be taken up and performed with the strength we have. One says, "The surest method of arriving at a knowledge of God's eternal purposes for us is to be found in the right use of the present moment." While duty covers every moment of all our years each moment has its own little section of duty, and we have only to do that.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own!" Matthew 6:34

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When I am weak

"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When we are strong, or deem ourselves strong then we are really weak, since then we trust in ourselves, and do not seek Divine help.
But when we are consciously weak, knowing ourselves unequal to our duties and struggles then we are strong, because then we turn to God and get His strength!

Too many people think that their weakness is a barrier to their usefulness or make it an excuse for doing little with their life. Instead of this, however, if we give it to Christ He will transform it into strength. He says His strength is made perfect in weakness; that is, what is lacking in human strength He fills and makes up with Divine power. Paul had learned this, when he said he gloried now in his weaknesses, because on account of them, the strength of Christ rested upon him, so that when he was weak in himself then he was strong  in Christ.

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Do it with all your might!

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning" Ecclesiastes 9:10

We are always the only one Christ has at the particular place at which we stand. There may be thousands of other lives around us; we may be only one of a great company, of a large congregation, of a populous community; yet each one of us has a life that is alone in its responsibility, in its danger, in its mission and duty. There may be a hundred others close beside me but not one of them can . . .
  take my place, or
  do my duty, or
  fulfill my mission, or
  bear my responsibility.

Though every one of the other hundred does his work, and does it perfectly my work waits for me, and, if I do it not, it will never be done.

"Each one should carry his own load." Galatians 6:5

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10

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Let Him do what seems good to Him!

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

There is a wonderful power of contentment . . .
  in sweet submission to the revealed will of God,
  in simple acquiescence to things which we cannot change, without fretting over them;
  in taking cheerfully what must be taken, and
  in making the best of unpleasant conditions in which we must stay for the time.
This sweet submission takes the bitterness, the hardness, the power to hurt us, out of painful circumstances and makes them serve us and do us good.

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised!" Job 1:21

"It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him!" 1 Samuel 3:18

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All of life's lessons

"First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens." Mark 4:28

Just so, all of life's lessons are slowly learned. It is the work of years to school our . . .
  wayward wills into uncomplaining submissiveness;
  our hard, proud, selfish hearts into soft, gentle thoughts,
  and our harsh, chattering tongues into sweet, gracious speech.

The natural process of spiritual growth is first the blade, then the heads, then the ripened grain and these developments require time. We cannot have the wheat bud, blossom, and ripen all in one day. We must be content to learn the great lessons of life very slowly.

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He sits constantly in every Christian sickroom

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

It is a great comfort to know that, while we may not expect miraculous healing of our bodily illnesses we are sure at least that . . .
  our Lord is not indifferent to these distresses;
  He designs to use them for our spiritual benefit;
  He is ready to give us the grace we need to endure them patiently and submissively;
  He is ready to heal us when His wise purpose in these afflictions has been accomplished.
So we may be sure always of the sympathy, love, and help of Christ in all our sickness. He sits constantly in every Christian sickroom, and where faith is strong and clear, He gives great comfort and peace. When He was on earth He did not go very often to the places of festivity but whenever there was anyone sick in a home He was sure to go there. Sickness and pain draw Him to us, and whenever He comes, He brings blessings.

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Those who drink only of this world's springs

There is said to be a strange plant in South America which finds a moist place, and sends its roots down and becomes green for a little while, until the place becomes dry, when it draws itself out and rolls itself up and is blown along by the wind until it comes to another moist place, where it repeats the same process. On and on the plant goes, stopping, wherever it finds a little water, until the spot is dry; then in the end, after all its wanderings, it is nothing but a bundle of dry roots and leaves.

It is the same with those who drink only of this world's springs. They drink and thirst again, and go on from spring to spring, blown by the winds of passion and desire and at last their souls are nothing but bundles of unsatisfied desires and burning thirsts. We must find something better than this, or perish forever.

"Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life!" John 4:13-14

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Judging of others

"Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts." 1 Corinthians 4:5

A great deal of our
judging of others is misjudging, or unjust judging because we do not know all the facts in their personal lives. It would ofttimes grieve us and make us greatly ashamed of ourselves, if, when we have judged another severely we would be shown a glimpse of his inner life, revealing hidden sorrows and struggles which are the cause of the things in him we have blamed so much.

"You, then, why do you judge your brother?" Romans 14:10

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Cut it off and throw it away!

This life is so full of peril, that even its best things may become stumbling-blocks! Our very qualities of strength, may become fatal forces driving us to ruin. Human beauty is a memento of unfallen life; and yet beauty has proved a snare to many a woman, drawing her away from God. Power to make money is a perilous gift, which has led many a man to spiritual ruin.

The appetites, desires, and affections are part of the glory of humanity and yet, unbridled, they have whirled many a noble life to destruction. These are illustrations of our Lord's meaning when He speaks of cutting off the hand or the foot which causes us to sin.

"If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire!" Matthew 18:8

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He continually stands before us in some disguise

"Please give Me a drink." John 4:7

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward!" Matthew 10:42

Jesus began His ministry of blessing to a woman by asking a simple favor of her. "Please give Me a drink," He said. In like manner, He continually stands before us in some disguise, asking some service.

He Himself has told us that in the least of His little ones who appeal to us for bread in their hunger, or relief in their distress He Himself comes; and that what we do for these we do for Him. So we never know when it is Christ who stands before us, in some suppliant or needy believer with a timid request for help. We should be careful how we treat the lowliest, lest some day we deny a cup of water to the blessed, glorious Christ!

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Your daughter is dead!

"While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. 'Your daughter is dead!' they said." Mark 5:35

Jesus never comes too late and never waits too long. It certainly seemed that He had tarried too long in the case of Jairus' daughter; but, when we see how it all came out, we are sure that He made no mistake. True, the child died while He lingered; but this only gave Him an opportunity for a greater miracle. He waited that He might do a more glorious work.

There is always some good reason for it, when Christ delays to answer our prayers, or come to our help. He waits that He may do far more for us in the end. So we have one more lesson for our Lord have His own way with us, even in answering our prayers. He knows best when to answer, and what answer to give.

"He took her by the hand and said to her, 'Talitha koum!' (which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished!" Mark 5:41-42

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True worship

"My son, give me your heart!" Proverbs 23:26

The music of splendid choirs, and the repeating of creeds and prayers, do not make true worship. Worship is heart adoration of God, and the only true homage that rises from an assembly, or from a private closet where one bows alone is just the love and praise and prayer and devotion of hearts ascending in the words of human lips. No mere forms of worship are acceptable the form must be breathed full of love and life. No offerings or gifts avail in worship unless they are the expression of holy affections.

It is not that we are not to use forms of worship; we cannot well worship without forms. The simplest ritual will be pleasing to God if the heart's love fills it. But the most magnificent ritual will be empty of real worship, and will be an abomination to God if there is no true worship of the spirit in it. All depends upon the heart which we put into the forms of worship.

"True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks!" John 4:23

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The blessedness and glory of being a Christian

We have not begun to realize the blessedness and glory of being a Christian.

There is a picture which, seen in one light, shows a poor weary pilgrim lying on a miserable pallet in a dreary garret; but, seen from another aspect, the same picture shows a child of God, an heir of glory, arrayed in white robes, surrounded and carried up by angels to heavenly glory! The first view is that which human eyes see in the Christian; the other is the reality that which we will be forever!

"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is!" 1 John 3:2

"No eye has seen,
 no ear has heard, and
 no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

"In Your presence is fullness of joy! At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore!" Psalm 16:11

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A messenger from God

"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

Tears are lenses through which our dim eyes see more deeply into Heaven, and look more fully upon God's face, than in any other way.

Sorrows cleanse our hearts of earthliness, and fertilize our lives.

The days of pain really do far more for us, than the days of rejoicing. We grow best when clouds hang over us, because clouds bear rain, and rain refreshes. Then God's comfort is such a rich experience, that it is well worth while to endure trial, just to enjoy the sweet and precious comfort which God gives in it.

But, to receive from our sorrows their possibilities of blessing we must accept the affliction as a messenger from God, and pray for true comfort not the mere drying of our tears but grace to profit by our affliction, and to get from it the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." Hebrews 12:10

"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 in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75

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A lesson from the lily

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this . . . to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

It is an evil world in which we live; but if we faithfully follow Christ, doing His will, keeping our hearts open to every influence of the Holy Spirit we shall be kept by Divine power from the corruption that flows all around us.

As the lily remains pure and unstained amid the murky waters of the bog in which it grows so does the lowly, loving, patient heart of the Christian disciple remain pure, in the midst of all this world's corruption. Over such a heart, God's face beams in perpetual benediction. The vision of God on earth, of course, is never full and clear but it grows brighter and brighter as the believer walks ever toward the morning, and at last it will be unclouded and full in the perfect day of Heaven!

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God!" Matthew 5:8

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The struggle does us good!

This burden of ours, is God's gift to us and to lay it down would be to lay down a blessing. Surely it is a wiser love, which puts new strength into your heart and arm, so that you can go on with your hard duty, your heavy responsibility, your weight of care, without fainting than would be the love which should take all the load away, and leave you free from any burden.

God's purpose is always to make us more holy, to bring out the best that is in us. Hence He does not clear the forest for us but puts the axe into our own hands, and bids us to cut it down for ourselves! And while we prepare the ground for tillage, we grow healthy and strong ourselves through the toil. He does not drive out the enemies for us. He puts the sword into our own hands, and sends us to drive them out. The struggle does us good! The wrestling makes us strong!

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God's messengers

The things which we call trials and adversities are really God's messengers, though they seem terrible to us. If we will only quiet our hearts and wait, we shall find that they are messengers from Heaven, and that they have brought blessings to us from God. They have come to tell us of some new joy that is to be granted some spiritual joy, perhaps to be born of earthly sorrow, some strange and sweet surprise of love that is waiting for us. We need to learn to trust God so perfectly, that no messenger He ever sends shall alarm us!

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The furnace fires of sickness!

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness." Hebrews 12:10

The furnace fires of sickness burn off many a chain of sin and worldliness. Many now in Heaven will thank God forever for the invalidism in this life, which kept them from sin. We may be sure that God never calls any of His children into the sickroom, without a purpose of blessing. There is . . .
  some lesson He wants to teach them,
  some new glimpse of His love He wants to show them,
  some beauty in them He wants to bring out.
Sickrooms should always be to us sacred places, as we remember that God has summoned us there for some special work upon our souls.

"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 in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75

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Christ keeps a memorial

"Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me!" Matthew 25:40

Christ keeps a memorial of any beautiful thing we do unto others, out of love for Him. He will forget nothing.

Men go about with hammers, breaking the rocks, and find embedded in the heart of them the imprint of ferns, leaves, flowers, which fell on the soft clay long ages ago. Every line and vein and fold is preserved in perfect feature. In like manner, your smallest deeds unto others, done out of love for Jesus, which seem to be forgotten are writing their records these common days in God's book of life, and in the ages to come their story will be read by angels and men.

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:42

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The faults and the infirmities of others

Even the faults and the infirmities of others, may become to us a means of grace. It is harder to live with disagreeable people, than with those who are congenial but their very harshness may become discipline to us and help us to develop the grace of patience. In like manner, association with quarrelsome, quick-tempered people, may train us to self-control in speech, teaching us either to be silent under provocation or to give only the soft answer which turns away wrath.

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Long unbroken years of simple faithfulness

The glamour of the brilliant, is apt to deceive us. There is so much glorifying of the unusual and the phenomenal in life, that we come to think the common as of but small importance.

People whose days are all alike in their dull routine, feel that their life is scarcely worth living. If only they could do something startling or sublime, or even sensational, to lift them out of the dreary commonplace of their everydays they would feel that they were living nobly and worthily. But, if they could realize that it is by its moral value that life's worth is measured, they would know that there is ten times more true nobility in long unbroken years of simple faithfulness, without distinction or conspicuousness at any point than there is in any unusual brilliancy in an occasional day or hour.

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The heart of consecration

Many of us have our little pet projects in Christian work, our pleasant pastimes of service for our Master, things we like to do. Into these we enter with enthusiasm. They are to our mind. We give ourselves to them eagerly and with ardor. We suppose that we are thoroughly consecrated to Christ's work, because we are so willing to do these things. Possibly we are but there is a truer test. It is not whether we are ready to do things for Christ which we like to do but whether we are ready to do just as heartily anything He may give us to do.

The heart of consecration is not devotion to this or that kind of service for Christ but devotion to His will, whatever it may be. It may not be any form of activity; sometimes it is quiet waiting. It is not . . .
  bringing a great many souls to Christ,
  visiting a great many sick or suffering ones,
  attending a great many religious meetings,
  or talking a great deal about religion.

Some weary one, shut away in the darkness, in the chamber of pain, may be illustrating true consecration far more beautifully than those whose hands are fullest of Christian activities in the bustling world. Consecration is devotion to the will of Christ. It is readiness to do not what we want to do in His service but what He gives us to do. When we reach this state, we shall not need to wait long to find our work.

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They first gave themselves

"They first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God." 2 Corinthians 8:5

There is a difference in the way people give, though the gift or favor or act is precisely the same. One gives the help only; the other gives part of himself in the help.

There are some very beautiful flowers which have no fragrance; but how much more a flower means, which has in it perfume as well as loveliness! Just so, we should give ourselves with our gifts. We should let part of our own life flow out with every deed of kindness we do. Love is the fragrance of the flowers of the heart, and what we do in love love for Christ and love for man shall never be lost. The world will be richer and better, for even the smallest deeds of Christlike charity.

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The best evidences of Christianity

"The works that I do in My Father's name they bear witness of Me!" John 10:25

Look at the footprints of Christ, and see whether they are a man's or God's. Whose prints are those . . .
  by the gate of Nain,
  by the grave of Bethany,
  coming away from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea?
Whose prints are those by the doors of sorrow; or along the path where the leper, the blind, the lame, the demoniac waited for Him?

Or look around at what you see now churches, missions, hospitals, asylums, sweetened homes, cleansed sinners, renewed lives, comforted mourners whose prints are these? These works, wrought by Christianity, are the best evidences of Christianity. Christ wants to be judged, not by His claims but by His works. The world is full today of the proofs of Christ's divinity.

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Emotional religion

"The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." Matthew 13:20-21

Emotional religion is not apt to be permanent. It bursts up into great luxuriance today but we are not sure that it will be found tomorrow in healthy life. Too often the enthusiasm is but transient. In the heat of trials, temptations, toil, or sorrow the rootless graces will droop down and die.

Usually the religious life which is most permanent, is that which springs up naturally, and grows slowly to strength and luxuriance. It has good soil, and the roots go down deep into the earth, and are unaffected by the frequent changes in temperature, by heat or cold, by rain or drought.

If anyone finds that his spiritual graces are rootless, and that there is a hard rock in his heart underneath the surface he should seek at once to have the rock broken by penitence and prayer, and sincere faith in Christ.

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Our mission in the world

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another." John 13:34-35

We fulfill our mission in the world, when we live a life of true love towards all men. To every life that touches ours we have some message of love. Everyone who meets us even casually should be the better for it. Every life within the range of our influence should receive some good from us. Whenever God brings a human need into our presence so that we can see it He thus makes it our duty to consider it, and do what is best or what we can for its relief. The world is very full of sorrow and we are set in it to be comforters. There is no other art in which we should seek more earnestly to be well trained, than in the art of giving consolation.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God's thoughts

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29

We cannot expect to know all God's thoughts. We cannot expect to know God's design in the providences that touch human affairs and affect our own lives. We cannot trace the results of His acts through centuries to come, to know what the final outcome will be. We cannot tell what beautiful trees, with full rich fruitage, will grow from the rough dark seeds which today the Master plants in our life-garden. Just so, we cannot tell what blessing will come in the long future, from the sorrow which now lays its heavy hand upon us.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts!" Isaiah 55:8-9

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Make it your ambition

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands" 1 Thessalonians 4:11

To live well in one's place in the world, adorning one's calling, however lowly, doing one's most commonplace work diligently and honestly, and dwelling in love and unselfishness with all men is to live nobly. To fight well the battle with one's own lusts and tempers, and to be victorious in the midst of the countless temptations and provocations of everyday experience, is to be a Christian hero.

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This is the secret

"Does it hurt you severely?" one asked of a friend who lay with a broken arm. "Not when I keep still," was the answer.

This is the secret of much of the victoriousness we see in rejoicing Christians. They conquer the pain and the bitterness, by keeping still. They do not question God, nor demand to know why they have trials. They believe in God, and are so sure of His love and wisdom, that they are pained by no doubt, no fear, no uncertainty. Peace is their pillow, because they have learned just to be still. Their quietness robs . . .
  trial of its sharpness,
  sorrow of its bitterness,
  death of its sting, and
  the grave of its victory!

"Be still, and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10
"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9

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The heart of consecration

The heart of consecration is not devotion to this or that particular kind of service for Christ; it is submission and devotion to the Divine will. It is readiness to do, not what we want to do in Christ's service but what He gives us to do. When we reach this state of spirit, we shall not need to wait long to find our work.

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The touch of the Master's hand

Only the Master's hand can bring out of our souls, the music that slumbers in them.

A violin lies on the table silent and without beauty. One picks it up and draws the bow across the strings but it yields only wailing discords. Then a master comes and takes it up, and he brings from the little instrument the most marvelous music.

Just so, other men touch our lives and draw from them only jangled notes; but Christ takes them, and when He has put the chords in tune, He brings from them the beautiful music of love and joy and peace!

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A truer measure of its character and values

The ordinary attainment of the common days is a truer index of the life, a truer measure of its character and values than are the most striking and brilliant things of life's exalted moments. It requires more strength to be faithful in the ninety-nine commonplace duties, when no one is looking on, when there is no special motive to stir the soul to its best effort than it does in the one duty, which by its unusual importance, or by its conspicuousness, arouses enthusiasm for its own doing.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Divine sympathy

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way" Hebrews 4:15

Human sympathy in suffering, is a wonderful help but the assurance of Divine sympathy is infinitely more uplifting. Christ gives real help. He was moved with compassion as He saw the widow of Nain in her lonely sorrow and restored her dead son to her. He wept with Mary and Martha and then raised their brother. He sighed as He looked on the misfortune of the deaf man and then opened his ears. He is able to "sympathize with our weaknesses," and then gives grace to help in time of need. We have only to bring our infirmities to Christ, and we will experience His loving sympathy.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sculpture His sweet beauty

A few rays of sunlight came into a prisoner's cell each day for only a half an hour. He found a nail and a stone on his floor, and with these crude implements cut and chiseled day after day during the few moments when the light lay upon the wall, until he had cut the image of the Christ upon His cross in the stone.

Just so, in the dark days of sorrow which come to us, we may serve Christ by seeking to sculpture His sweet beauty, not in cold stone but on the warm, living walls of our own hearts.

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The love of Christ constrains me!

Before we can be in the place of Christ to sorrowing, suffering, and struggling ones we must have the mind in us, which was in Him. When Paul said, "The love of Christ constrains me!" he meant that he had the very love of Christ in him the love . . .
  which loved even the most unlovely,
  which helped even the most unworthy,
  which was gentle and affectionate even to the most loathsome.

We are never ready to do good in the world, in the truest sense, or in any large measure until we have become thus filled with the very love of Jesus.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Crushed like a lily under the heel of wrong or sin

Many of the truest and best of God's children know only defeat in this world. They are evermore beaten back and thrust down. The burdens are too heavy for them. They are overmastered by sorrows. The world's enmity treads them in the dust. They are not worldly wise, and, while others march by to great earthly success, they live obscurely oppressed, cheated, wronged, and lie buried away in the darkness of failure.

Life may seem a failure here, crushed like a lily under the heel of wrong or sin broken, trampled and torn. But it may yet become a glorious success.

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

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May not many of us learn a lesson from the little child?

It is not enough to kneel down and make a prayer, nor is it enough to pray about the particular matter that worries us, asking for help or deliverance. Only the most simple-hearted definiteness in prayer will meet the need.

In prayer, we must bring the very perplexity itself, and put it out of our hands into God's, that He may work it out for us. We are to bring the matter as literally to Him as we would carry a broken watch to the watchmaker's, leaving it for him to repair and readjust.

The little child playing with a handful of cords, when they begin to get into a tangle, goes at once to her mother, that her mother's patient fingers may unravel the snarl. How much better this, than to pull and tug at the cords till the tangle becomes inextricable! May not many of us learn a lesson from the little child?

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The Christian's dress

Religion and common life are not two different and distinct things. We may not cut our existence in two parts, and say, "Over this Christ shall rule but over that He shall have no control." True religion knows no difference between Sunday and Monday, so far as the ethics of life are concerned.

Each day brings its own specific duties;  there are not moral precepts for Sunday which are suspended when its sun sets, that for six days a mitigated or less holy law may prevail. Holiness is to be the Christian's dress all the week through in every hour's conduct. All pleasures and amusements must be tested by the unvarying rule of right. The standard of perfect purity, cannot be lowered.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31

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Seeds of kindness

It is not only our elaborately wrought deeds, which leave results behind. Much of the best work we do in this world, is done unconsciously. There are many people who are busied in what is called secular toil, that they can find few moments to give to works of benevolence. But they come out every morning from the presence of God and go to their daily business or toil; and all day, as they move about, they drop gentle words from their lips, and scatter seeds of kindness along their path. Tomorrow flowers of the garden of God spring up in the hard, dusty streets of earth, and along the paths of toil in which their feet have trodden.

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Lives everywhere are full of hopeful beginnings which are never carried on to completion. There is not a soul wreck on the streets, not a prisoner serving out a sentence behind prison bars, not a debased, fallen one anywhere in whose soul there were not once visions of happiness, high hopes, noble thoughts and purposes, and high resolves. But, alas! the visions, the hopes, the purposes, the resolves never grew into more than beginnings. We look around and see a great wilderness of . . .
  unfinished fabrics,
  bright possibilities unfulfilled,
  noble might-have-beens abandoned,
  ghastly ruins, and
  memorials only of failure.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Weary men and women toiling through life toward the grave

There is a great host of weary men and women toiling through life toward the grave who sorely need just now, the cheering words and helpful ministries which we can give. The flowers are growing to scatter about their coffins but why should they not be scattered in their paths today? The kind words are lying in men's hearts unexpressed, and trembling on their tongues unvoiced, which will be spoken by and by when these weary ones are in the grave but why should they not be spoken now, when they are needed so much, and when their accents would be so pleasing and grateful?

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Foot washing

"An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest!" Luke 9:46

We shall be prepared to seek the good of others in the largest, truest way only when we have learned to look upon others as our Lord did. There was not a poor ruined creature who came into His presence by faith, whom He did receive and love. There was not one whom He thought it a degradation to serve. When the disciples were quarreling as to which one should take the servant's place and wash the feet of the others, He quietly arose and performed the humble service.

"Jesus rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded." John 13:4-5

"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:14-15

"The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:11-12

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The companion of fools

"He who walks with wise men will be wise but the companion of fools will be destroyed." Proverbs 13:20

We do not know what trouble we are letting into our life, when we take into companionship, even for one hour one who is not good, not pure, not true. Who can estimate the debasing influence of such companionship . . .
  when continued until it becomes intimacy and close friendship;
  when confidences are exchanged;
   when soul touches soul;
   when life flows into and blends with life?
When one awakens to the consciousness of the fact that he has formed or is forming a companionship with one whose influence cannot but hurt him, and perhaps destroy him, there is only one true thing to do it must instantly be given up!

"A man of too many friends comes to ruin!" Proverbs 18:24

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Do not work for the food which perishes

"Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life" John 6:27

It is never right for us to starve our spiritual nature, to get food  for our bodies. It is our first duty to keep God's commandments, and obedience is the highest good that we can attain in this world. Sometimes the best thing that we can do for our life is to lose it; we had better any day starve to death than commit the smallest sin to get food. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Getting food should not be our first object in living, and is really not our business at all. We are to be true to God always and everywhere and then leave to Him the caring for our bodies.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" Matthew 6:25

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Means of grace

Anything which helps to reveal more of Christ to us and to bring us into closer relations with Him; anything which becomes to us a disciplinary experience, drawing out and strengthening our life in any of its elements; anything that makes us better, holier, sweeter in spirit is to us a means of grace. Under this head, therefore, we may put . . .
  work, which develops our physical and mental powers;
  the struggle with trial and temptation, through which our natures are disciplined;
  the enduring of sorrow and pain, by which we are made more pure;
and all experiences of life which result, or are designed to result, in the growth of our spiritual life.

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Just one little step at a time

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105

We can learn the path of duty, only by walking in it. There is no promise of anything more than this. The Word of God is a lamp unto our feet; not a sun to light a hemisphere but a lamp or a lantern to carry in our hand, to give light unto our feet, to show us just one little step at a time. If we move on, taking the step which lies full in the light we carry the light forward too, and it then shows us another step. That is, we learn to know the road, only by walking in it. If we will not take the one step that is made clear, we cannot know the part of the way that is hidden in the shadow.

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The gentle fingers of love

Christ never lowered, by so much as a hair's breadth, the perfect standard of holiness by which He measured all men. Nor must we. We are ever to keep living in our souls, the pure and unspotted ideal.

We are not to look upon any sin leniently or apologetically, and yet we are to love the erring brother, to pity him and have compassion upon him; and, instead of turning away from him in horror and self-righteous pride, we are to seek by every means, to lift him up and restore him. Under all the ruin of his sin, is the shattered beauty of the Divine image, which the gentle fingers of love may repair and restore.

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He will take pity on the weak

"He will take pity on the weak and the needy, and save the needy from death." Psalm 72:13

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." Isaiah 40:29

The God of the Bible, is the God of those who have not succeeded. Wherever there is a weak, stumbling Christian, unable to walk alone to him the Divine heart goes out in tender thought and sympathy, and the Divine hand is extended to support him and keep him from falling. Wherever one of His redeemed has fallen, and lies in defeat or failure over him bends the heavenly Father in kindly pity, to raise him up and to help him to begin again.

"Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony." Psalm 6:2

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If someone is caught in a sin

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." Galatians 6:1

Great wisdom is required in those who would point out faults to others. They need deep love in their hearts, that they may truly seek the good or those in whom they detect flaws or errors, and not criticize in a spirit of exultation. Too many take delight in discovering faults in other people, and in pointing them out. Others do it only when they are in anger, blurting out their keen criticisms in fits of bad temper. We should all seek to possess the spirit of Christ, who was most patient and gentle in telling His friends wherein they failed.

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The countless humble ministries of the every-days

"She has done what she could!" Mark 14:8

It is in the everyday of life, that nearly all  the world's best work is done. The tall mountain-peaks lift their glittering crests into the clouds, and win attention and admiration; but it is in the great valleys and broad plains, that the harvests grow and the fruits ripen, on which the millions of earth feed their hunger.

Just so, it is not from the few conspicuous deeds of life that the blessings chiefly come which make the world better, sweeter, happier but from the countless humble ministries of the every-days, the little faithfulnesses that fill long years.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'" Matthew 25:23

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Temporary defeats

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus!" Philippians 1:6

Many a night we shall retire to weep at Christ's feet, over the day's failures. In our efforts to write after the copy set for us by our Lord we shall write many a crooked line, and leave many a blotted page blistered with tears of regret. Yet we must persevere with a brave heart, an unfaltering purpose, and a calm, joyful confidence in God. Temporary defeats should only cause us to lean on Christ more fully. God will preserve each of His sheep, who is loyally struggling to do His will and to grow into Christlikeness. And that means assured victory to every true Christian.

"My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:27-28

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It is to him who is faithful in little things

"As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow Me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men!" Matthew 4:18-19

If we want Christ to call us to important places, we must be busy and active, that when He comes seeking for people to do His work, He will see that we are competent and worthy. We should notice also that Christ often calls those who are engaged in lowly places. If we think our occupation is unworthy of us, the way to rise to a better one is to be faithful and diligent where we are, until we are called to a nobler and worthier pursuit. It is to him who is faithful in little things, that the charge of greater things is promised. He who does not fill well the lower place, is wanted neither by God nor by men for the higher place.

"His master replied: Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" Matthew 25:21

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Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me?

"Philip said to Him: Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.
Jesus said to him: Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father!" John 14:8-9

It is possible to be with Christ a long time, and to know very much about Him without truly knowing Him. Philip knew Jesus as a man, as a worker of miracles, as having a very beautiful character; but he seems never to have gone below the surface in understanding Him. He did not know Him as the revealer of the Father. He never saw Divine glory in the radiance which streamed from that blessed life. And not to know Christ in this aspect is not to know Him at all. To leave out the Divine in our thought of Christ, is not to have any Christ at all.

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When we come to the hard, rough, steep path

"Your shoes shall be iron and bronze. As your days so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25

Life's most dreaded experiences, when we meet them often carry in themselves the light which takes away the peril and the terror.
The night of sorrow, comes with its own lamp of comfort.
The hour of weakness, brings its secret of strength.
By the brink of the bitter fountain, grows the tree whose branch will heal the waters.
The wilderness with its hunger and heat, has daily manna.
In dark Gethsemane, where the load is more than mortal heart can bear an angel appears ministering strength.

When we come to the hard, rough, steep path
we find iron for shoes.

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How may we grow into Christlikeness?

How may we grow into Christlikeness? Not merely by our own strugglings and strivings. We know what we want to be; but, when we try to lift our own lives up to the beauty we see and admire we find ourselves weighted down. We cannot make ourselves Christlike by any efforts of our own. Nothing less than a Divine power is sufficient to produce this transformation in our human nature.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me." John 15:4

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If we find others in sorrow

If we find others in sorrow, it is our duty not to tell them merely how sorry we are for them, how we pity them but, coming close to them in love, to whisper in their ears the strong comforts of Divine grace, to make them stronger to endure their sorrow.

If we find others in the midst of difficulties and sore struggles, faint and ready almost to yield, it is our duty not merely to bemoan the severity and hardness of their battles with them, and then to leave them to go on to sure defeat but to stimulate and inspire them to bravery and victoriousness.

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The transfigured life

There is a little prayer in one of the Psalms, which says, "May the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us!" It is not too high a prayer for any of us to use every day. Christ came into this world, and lived and died to make it possible for us to wear the Divine beauty. We may wear it not merely as a holiday dress or when we are engaged in some religious service. The beauty of the Lord shines just as bright in homespun attire, in the midst of the dust and clatter of the shop or the mill, or in the lowly duties of the kitchen as it does in the church service, in the sacredness and quietness of the sanctuary.

The transfigured life is not a matter of place or time, or occupation it is a matter of character. Many of the world's most radiant saints, walk the earth in lowliest disguises.

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We are too stinting of our heart's gifts

We are too stinting of our heart's gifts. God has given us love, that with it we may make life sweeter, better, easier, truer, more victorious, for others. We do great wrong to those about us, when we stint the measure of love we give them, when we withhold the words of cheer, appreciation, encouragement, affection, and comfort which are in our hearts to speak or when we fail to do the gentle, kindly things we could so easily do to make life happier and sweeter for them.

Many of us fail in our neglect of love's duty, quite as much as in the hurts we give to others. We walk in cold silence beside one whose heart is aching or breaking, not saying the warm, rich word of love which we might say, and which would give so much comfort. All about us are hungry ones, and the Master is saying to us, "Give them something to eat!" But we are withholding from them what we might give, and they are starving when they might be filled.

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That is the very best which the richest human love can do

"Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea" Mark 6:47-48

When people are in great trouble of any kind no human aid can reach them. Human friends eagerly want to help, and they come to offer sympathy and consolation. But in such hours, the most helpful of us are only like men standing on the shore of a dark and stormy sea, while our friends are far out on the wild waves. Our little boats cannot ride in the mad surges. All we can do is to stand on the shore, as it were, and look with pitying eye and heart at the struggling ones in the angry sea. That is the very best which the richest human love can do. It is thus, in all of life's deep needs.

It is in such hours that we realize the blessedness of Christ's power to help. He can go out on any wave, into the wildest sea, to reach those who are driven and tempest-tossed. He can carry help to all who are troubled. He can comfort in any sorrow, and give victory in any strife.

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The way to make our lives eternal successes

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it." Matthew 16:25

People will say you are foolish to waste your golden life to sacrifice yourself for the sake of others, or in Christ's cause. But was Christ Himself foolish, when He went to His cross? Let the redeemed Church be the answer. Were the martyrs foolish, when they threw their lives away for Christ's sake? Ignatius said, when facing the fierce lions in the arena, "I am grain of God. Let me be ground between the teeth of lions, if I may thus become bread to feed God's people!" Were such martyred lives wasted, thrown away? Is any life wasted which becomes seed to produce bread for the world? The way to make nothing of our lives is to be very careful of them. The way to make our lives eternal successes is to do with them just what Christ did with His.

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Devotion to God fits us for service to men!

We must listen at Heaven's gates before we can go out to sing the heavenly songs in the ears of human weariness and sorrow.
Our lips must be touched with a coal from God's altar before we can become God's messengers to men.
We must lie much upon Christ's bosom before our poor earthly lives can be struck through with the spirit of Christ and made to shine in the transfigured beauty of His blessed life.

Devotion is never to displace duty it often brings new duties to our hands. Devotion to God fits us for service to men!

"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

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Spiritual longing

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!" Psalm 42:1-2

Spiritual longing is the heart's cry, which God hears always and answers with more and more of His fullness. It is the ascending angel which climbs the starry ladder, to return on the same radiant stairway with ever new blessings from God. It is nothing less than the very life of God in the human soul, struggling to grow up into the fullness of the stature of Christ. It is the transfiguring spirit in us, which cleanses these dull earthly lives of ours, and changes them little by little into the Divine image!

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The merciful hand of God laid on us

The trouble which touches us, is the merciful hand of God laid on us to lead us back to our place of safety and blessedness at His side.

A man was traveling and was hungry but did not know where to go to find food. There came up a sudden and violent storm, compelling him to seek shelter. Fleeing under a tree for refuge, he found not shelter only but food, for the storm brought down fruits from the tree's branches for his hunger. Just so, those whom trouble drives to Christ, also find both shelter from the storm and food to meet their cravings.

"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

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The comfort of sympathy

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are" Hebrews 4:15

When our feet are tired after the day's tasks and journeys, it ought to be a very precious comfort to remember that our blessed Master had like experience, and therefore is able to sympathize with us.

It is one of the chief sadnesses of many lives that people do not understand them, do not sympathize with them. They move about us, our neighbors and companions even our closest friends and laugh and jest and are happy and light-hearted while we, close beside them, are suffering. They are not aware of our pain; and, if they were, they could not give us real sympathy, because they have never had any experience of their own that would interpret to them our experience. Only those who have suffered in some way, can truly sympathize with those who suffer.

One who is physically strong, and has never felt the pain of weariness, cannot understand the weakness of another whom the least exertion tires. The man of athletic frame who can walk all day without fatigue, has small sympathy, with the man of feeble health who is exhausted in a mile.

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We need to be on our guard perpetually against little sins

It is said that one of the great prisons of this country was built by the prisoners themselves. They dressed the stones and built the walls which afterwards shut them in.

The legend is familiar, too, of the man to whom the devil came, ordering a chain of a certain length. Returning at the appointed time, he ordered the chain made longer, and then went away. When at last it was finished he came again, and with it bound the poor man who had fastened its links at his command. So sinners are everywhere building their own prison walls, and with their own hands fashioning the chains to bind them forever.

We need to be on our guard perpetually against little sins of thought, of habit mere gossamer threads at first, which will become strong cables at last, if we allow them to be enrapt about our souls.

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A beautiful, wise, noble, happy, and useful old age!

All earthly life is a time for gathering. Not a day should pass when we do not lay up something for the future
  some new bit of knowledge,
  some new lesson of experience,
  some new word of God to rest upon,
  some new joy of pure friendship to warm the heart,
  some new strength gotten by overcoming,
  some new meaning of love or beauty.
That is the way to grow wise and helpful.

Old age is the harvest of all the years. A life of summer gathering gives a beautiful, wise, noble, happy, and useful old age!

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The piety which best pleases Christ

When we get to Heaven we shall find heavenly work to do. But for the present, our duty is here in the midst of this world and he is the best Christian who does it best. We do not need a religion which will lift us up into a seventh Heaven of rapture, making us forget our duties to those about us. But we need a religion that will bring God down to walk with us on all the hard paths of toil and struggle, and which will lead us out into all sweet ministries of love.

People often praise Mary, and censure Martha. Jesus blamed Martha's worry but not her service. It is good to sit at the Master's feet. The piety which best pleases Christ, is that which waits most lovingly at His feet to receive blessing and strength and then goes about, diligent in all love's duties and fidelities.

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Don't do it!

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry!" Matthew 6:25
"So do not worry!" Matthew 6:31
"Don't worry about anything!" Philippians 4:6

When you are inclined to worry don't do it! That is the first thing. No matter how much reason there seems to be for worrying still, there is your rule. Do not break it; don't worry! Matters may be greatly tangled, so tangled that you cannot see how they ever can be straightened out still, don't worry. Troubles may be very real and very sore, and there may not seem a rift in the clouds nevertheless, don't worry!

"Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken!" Psalm 55:22

"Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7

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What a beautiful thought of dying!

"Simeon  took the child in his arms and praised God, saying: Sovereign Lord, now let Your servant die in peace, as You have promised, for I have seen your salvation!" Luke 2:29-30

The aged Simeon's "let "means "set free" "Set Your servant free to die" implying that what we call life is like the imprisoning of the eagle; and what we call death, after one has seen Christ, is blessed and glorious emancipation. What a beautiful thought of dying!

On the gravestone are the words, "Out of the darkness into the marvelous light!" All we need, then, is truly to see Christ before we die. When He has lifted away the curse of sin, and put His own holy life into our souls, we are already in the portal of Heaven while in this world; dying will be but entering in, to behold Christ face to face forever!

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Private prayer

There are some people who claim that they can pray and commune with God just as well in one place as in another. They do their praying while they walk about and while they do their work. They see no use in going alone to pray.

Yet if anyone could pray well in a crowd, or while engaged in work Jesus could. No doubt He did hold communion with His Father even in His busiest hours but this did not meet all the needs and longings of His soul. He left the crowd, left even His own disciples, and retired into places where no eye but God's could see Him, where no human footfall or voice could interrupt the quiet of His soul. Surely, if He required such conditions in praying we do too.

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:6

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We are both better and worse than others think us to be

We are both better and worse than others think us to be. The best things in holy lives do not flash their beauty before human eyes. None of us can ever manifest to others, all that is worthy in us.

There are countless stars in the depths of the sky which no human eye ever sees. Just so, in the depths even of the most commonplace Christian, there are splendors unrevealed to human gaze.

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Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!

God never gives all He has to give. The time never comes when He has nothing more to bestow. We never reach the best in Divine blessings there is always something better yet to come. Every door that opens into a treasury of love shows another door into another treasury beyond. We need not fear that we shall ever come to the end of God's goodness, or to any experience for which He will have no blessing ready.

"No eye has seen,
 no ear has heard, and
 no mind has imagined
 what God has prepared for those who love Him!"
     1 Corinthians 2:9

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us; to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

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Love's ministry

"Serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

There is need everywhere for love's ministry. The world today needs nothing more than true Christlikeness in those who bear Christ's name and represent Him. Christ went about doing good; He sought to put hope and cheer into all He met. If Christ is in us, we should strive to perpetuate this Christ-ministry of love in this world. Hearts are breaking with sorrow, men are bowing under burdens too heavy for them. Their duties are too large, their battles are too hard. It is our mission, if Christ is in us, to do for these weary, heavy-burdened, defeated, and despairing ones what Christ Himself would do, if He were standing where we stand. He wants us to represent Him; and He fills us with His Spirit, that we may be able to scatter the blessings of helpfulness and gladness all about us.

Yet one of the saddest things about life is, that, with so much power to help others by kindliness of word and kindliness of act many of us pass through the world in silence or with folded hands.

"Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." 1 John 3:18

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If He were here Himself

If we have the true servant spirit of Christ in our hearts it will work out in Christly ministry; it will lead to the brightening of one little spot at least on this big earth.

There are a few people whom God calls to do great things for Him. But the best thing most of us can do in this world, is just to live out a real, simple, consecrated, Christian life in our allotted place. Thus, in our little measure, we shall repeat the life of Christ Himself, showing men some feeble reflection of His sweet and loving heart, and doing in our poor way a few of the beautiful things He would do, if He were here Himself.

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Out of its bitterness will come sweet fruit!

Our "thorn" may either be a blessing to us or it may do us irreparable harm depending on our attitude towards it.
If we allow our thorn to fret us;
if we chafe, resist, and complain about it;
if we despond and lose heart
  then it will spoil our life.
But if we accept it in the faith that . . .
  in its ugly burden, it has a blessing for us;
  if we endure it patiently, submissively, unmurmuringly;
  if we seek grace to keep our heart gentle and true amid all the trial, temptation, and suffering it causes
then it will work good, and out of its bitterness will come sweet fruit!

We should so relate ourselves to "our thorn" that growth and good, not harm and marring shall come to us from it.

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Choosing our friends

It is a sacred thing to take a new friend into our life. We accept a solemn responsibility when we do so. We do not know what burdens we may be engaging to carry, what sacrifices we may unconsciously be pledging ourselves to make, what sorrows may come to us through the one to whom we are giving our heart's love. We should choose our friends, therefore, thoughtfully, wisely, prayerfully; but when we have pledged our love we should be faithful, whatever the cost may be.

"A man of many friends may come to ruin" Proverbs 18:24

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Dying grace

Many people dread death, and fear that they can never meet it with triumph; but God does not give grace for victorious dying when one's duty is to live. He now gives them grace for living, grace for honesty, grace for fidelity, grace for heroism in life's battle. Then, when death comes, when life's work is finished, and the hour comes for the departure He will give dying grace.

"My grace is sufficient for you" 2 Corinthians 12:9

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A miracle of transformation

It would not be hard to take an angel and train him into a glorious messenger; but to take such a sinful man as Simon-Peter, or as Saul, or as John Newton, or as John Bunyan and make him into a holy saint or a mighty apostle that is a miracle of transformation. Yet that is what Christ did, and has been doing ever since. He takes the poorest materials despised, and worthless, outcast of men ofttimes and when He has finished His gracious transforming work we behold a saint whiter than snow.

The sculptor beheld an angel in the rough, blackened stone, which had been rejected and thrown away. He worked his trade on it and when men saw the stone again, behold there was the angel cut from the block!

Just so, Christ can take us, rough and unpolished as we are, and in His hands our lives shall grow into purity and loveliness, until He presents them at last before the throne, faultless and perfect!

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True repentance

True repentance is not merely a little twinge of remorse over some evil thing.
It is not simply a gush of tears at the recollection of some wickedness.
It is not mere shame at being found out in some immorality, or dishonesty, or other sin.

It is the revolution of the whole life! Sins wept over must be forsaken forever. Repentance is a change of heart, a turning of the life just the other way. It is well for us to make diligent search, to be sure . . .
  that we always abandon the wrongdoing which we deplore,
  that we leave the evil course which we regret,
  that we turn away from the sin which we confess.

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Truth must be wrought into the very grain and fiber of his manhood

The active virtues must be cultivated, as well as the passive. Meekness must not become weakness. The soft speech must not become the timid utterance of moral feebleness. The Christian man must have a touch as gentle as an infant's and yet possess the courage of a hero to smite evil and to do the Lord's work. With the charity which bears all things and endures all things he must have the force of character which will make his influence a mighty positive power for good. Truth must be wrought into the very grain and fiber of his manhood.

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Our little nothings

"Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me!" Matthew 25:40

The moralist does right things but without any reference to Christ, not confessing Him or loving Him. The Christian does the same things but does them because the Master wants him to do them. As one has beautifully said, "What we can do for God is little or nothing but we must do our little nothings for His glory." This is the motive that, filling our hearts, makes even drudgery divine, because it is done for Christ. It may be but to sweep a room, or rock an infant to sleep, or teach a ragged child, or mend a rent, or plane a board; but, if it is done as unto the Lord, it will be owned and accepted.

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:42

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The richest blessings

God is continually blessing us, by allowing us not to do certain things which we greatly desire to do. He thwarts our worldly ambitions, because to permit us to achieve them, would be to allow our souls to be seriously harmed.

One Christian man desires worldly prosperity but in his every effort in that direction, he is defeated. He speaks of his failures as misfortunes, and wonders why it is that other men, less industrious and less conscientious, succeed so much better than he. He even intimates that God's ways are not equal. But, no doubt, the very disappointments over which he grieves, are in reality the richest blessings. God knows that the success of his plans, would be fatal to the higher interests of his spiritual life.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

No wonder husbands and wives drift apart in such homes!

We keep sad silences ofttimes with those who are dearest to us, even when their hearts are crying out for words. In many homes that lack rich and deep happiness, it is not more love which is needed but the flowing out of the love in little words, acts, and expressions. A husband loves his wife, and would give his life for her; but there are days and days that he never tells her so, nor reveals the sweet truth to her by any sign or token. The wife loves her husband with warm, faithful affection but she has fallen into the habit of making no demonstration, saying nothing about her love, going through the duties of the home-life almost as if there were no love in her heart. No wonder husbands and wives drift apart in such homes! Hearts need their daily bread, and starve and die if it is withheld from them.

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Until we begin to do what it teaches

We never get to understand the Bible, merely by studying it. It will not reveal itself to us, until we begin to do what it teaches. He who seeks to obey it, shall know it. Many people have the impression that there is something mysterious about the words of the Scriptures. But this impression vanishes, if they accept the Divine teachings and begin to fashion their lives according to them. Many Christians will readily recall how dim and obscure faith in Jesus Christ seemed to them before they believed, when they were trying to find the way and then how simple and clear it appeared, after they had begun to follow the Savior.

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The bane of spiritual good

Unbroken worldly prosperity is the bane of spiritual good. For one thing, it hinders growth in knowledge and experience. There are truths that can be learned better in darkness, than in light. We would never see the stars if there were no darkness to blot out the glare of the day. Just so, there are truths in the Bible which are perhaps never learned in the brightness of human joy. There are Divine promises which by their very nature, are invisible in the noonday of gladness, hiding away like stars in the light, and revealing themselves only when it grows dark around us. The deeper, richer meaning of many Scriptures, is learned only amid life's painful changes.

"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes!" Psalm 119:71

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It is impossible to avoid worrying

Someone may say that it is impossible to avoid worrying. The disturbing experiences will come into our lives and we cannot shut them out. It is true they will come but it is not true that we must admit them and surrender ourselves to their power.

It was a saying of Luther that "we cannot prevent the birds flying about our heads but we can prevent them building their nests in our hair!" In like manner, it is impossible to keep cares from flocking in great swarms about us but it is our own fault if they are allowed to make nests in our hearts! We are to hold our hearts' doors and windows shut against them, just as resolutely as against the temptations that constantly assail us, craving admission into our lives.

"Do not be anxious 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

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Our eyes did not discern the brightness

The light of human joy wanes;
our health gives way;
disappointments come;
sorrow breaks in upon us;
some human trust fails us;
the sunlight that flowed upon us yesterday, has gone out, and our path lies in darkness.

Then, the words of God which have lain so long in memory, without apparent brightness flash out like heavenly lamps, and pour their welcome radiance all about us. Did those words have no light in them before this? Yes, the lamps were shining all the while but our eyes did not discern the brightness until this world's lamps went out and it grew dark about us. The goodness was laid up, reserved until we needed it.

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Christ continually comes in unrecognized ways

"When a Samaritan woman came to draw water . . . " John 4:7

The way of duty, is always the surest place to come upon Christ. No one ever yet found Him, in the path of disobedience. The Samaritan woman was unaware of the glory of the presence beside her. Jesus met her in the form of a weary and way-worn man and won His way to her conscience and heart before He revealed His divine glory to her. Christ continually comes in unrecognized ways, getting near to us and drawing out our love and trust, before we know that it is Christ whom we are loving and trusting; then He drops the veil and shows us His blessed face!

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Those who sow in tears

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." Psalm 126:5-6

The sowing is ofttimes in tears but the reaping is always in joy.

Christ Himself found the sowing hard and sorrowful but He has never been sorry in Heaven for what it cost Him here. The old prophet having spoken of the sorrows and sufferings of Christ's life, said, "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." As He sits now on His throne and sees the millions of the redeemed coming home to glory, all saved through His sufferings He never regrets that He gave such a price for their redemption but rejoices and is satisfied with the wages that He receives. Just so will it be with all His followers who are permitted to suffer in any way, in bringing lost ones home. The wages will a thousand times compensate for all the sacrifice and cost. Heaven will make amends for all.

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It shall accomplish that which I purpose

"So shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

No true work for Christ has been in vain. On earth many a seed is dropped, which dies in the soil; but no seed of heavenly truth which is sown in faith and watered with tears, ever fails to spring up somewhere and sometime into a plant of righteousness. It may not always grow as the sower hoped, nor always just where he hoped, nor when; yet no living Word of God can ever die.

We should notice the kind of wages God gives His reapers. He does not pay them in gold and silver but in life life eternal. Those who work in God's harvest-fields may not grow rich in men's eyes but they themselves grow into richer, riper, holier spiritual blessedness.

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The Gate of Life

If we are true believers in Christ then dying is but leaving darkness and sin and danger to pass into light and holiness and safety.

A poet represents one coming up to a gate on a mountain-side, over which were written the words, "The Gate of Death"; but when he touched the gate it opened, and he found himself amid great brightness and beauty. Then, turning about, he saw above the gate he had entered the words, "The Gate of Life."

Just so, if we are in Christ, death is abolished, and what men call the point of death, is really the point of life. We need then to make sure of only one thing that we are truly Christ's by living faith and loving obedience.

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Christ alone can make anyone truly a "fisher of men."

"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

We cannot become "fishers of men", just as we become carpenters or merchants or physicians. It is not one of the trades or professions to be taken up and learned, as trades and professions are. Bible colleges and theological seminaries cannot make men "fishers of men." They may teach them how to think, how to write, how to speak; they can furnish them with knowledge of many kinds, can teach them systems of theology, and make them exegetes, logicians, rhetoricians, orators. But none of these things make men fishers of men. These requirements may be helpful to them in their spiritual work, if they are consecrated to Christ. But the point to be remembered is, that Christ alone can make anyone truly a "fisher of men."

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Defeats in life

Defeats in life should never detain us long, since only faith and courage are needed to change them into real victories. For, after all, it is character which we are building in this world; and if we use every experience to promote our growth in character, to make us holier, if we emerge from it stronger, braver, truer, nobler we have lost nothing, but have been the gainer. In reverses and misfortunes, then, we have but to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, caring only that no harm comes to our soul from the loss or the trial; and thus we shall be victorious.

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No day is commonplace

One's vocation is never a far-off possibility; it is always for the present the simple round of duties which the passing hour brings. Someone has pictured the days as coming to us with their faces veiled but, when they have passed beyond our recall, the draped figures become radiant, and the gifts we rejected are seen to be treasures fit for king's houses. No day is commonplace, if only we had eyes to see the veiled splendors which lie in its opportunities, and in its plain and dull routine. There is no duty which comes to our hand, but brings to us the possibility of kingly service, with Divine reward.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

How good is a timely word!

We have an errand to each one with whom we are permitted to hold even the briefest and most casual conversation. What it is, we may not know; but, if the desire is in our hearts, God will use us to minister blessing in some way. Opportunities for such ministry are occurring continually. In a morning's greeting, we may put so much of the love of Christ into phrase and tone, as to make our neighbor happier all the day. In a few moments conversation by the wayside, or in the midst of the day's heat and strife we may drop the word which will . . .
  lift a burden, or
  strengthen a fainting heart, or
  inspire a new hope, or
  give warning of danger.

"How good is a timely word!" Proverbs 15:23

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Peace is a high attainment

In all departments of life, it is the quiet forces which are most influential.

The sunbeams fall all day long, silently, unheard by human ear; yet there is in them a wondrous energy and a great power for blessing and good.

Gravitation is a silent force, with no rattle of machinery, no noise of engines, no clanking of chains and yet it holds all the stars and worlds in their orbits, and swings them through space with unvarying precision.

The dew falls silently at night when men sleep, and yet it touches every plant and leaf and flower with new life and beauty.

Thus even in nature, strength lies in quietness, and the mightiest energies work noiselessly.

Restlessness is not spiritually beautiful. Peace is a high attainment. Thus quietness indicates a rich Christian maturity. It is not easily reached. It is easier to be in the midst of the active duties and struggles of spiritual life, than it is to be compelled to wait and be still. Waiting is harder than working. For many people it requires more strength to work quietly, than it does to bluster. It is only the great engine which runs noiselessly; the little machine fusses and splutters. Quietness in a man or a woman is a mark of strength.

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Look close about our feet

When we are resolving to live more grandly in the future than in the past it will help us if we bring our eyes down from the far-off mountain-peaks, and from among the stars, where there is nothing whatever for us to do and to look close about our feet, where lie . . .
  many neglected duties,
  many unimproved opportunities, and
  many possibilities of higher attainment in attitude, in temper, in speech, in heart.

    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The transforming touch!

Someone tells of going into a jeweler's store to look at certain gems. Among other stones, he was shown an opal. As it lay there, however, it appeared dull and altogether lustreless. Then the jeweler took it in his hand and held it for some moments, and again showed it to his customer. Now it gleamed and flashed with all the glories of the rainbow. It needed the touch and the warmth of a human hand to bring out its iridescence.

Just so, are human lives everywhere about us, that are rich in their possibilities of beauty and glory. But as we see them, they are dull and lustreless. Perhaps they are even covered with stain, and defiled with sin. Yet they need only the touch of the hand of Christ to bring out the radiance, the loveliness, the beauty, of the Divine image in them.

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Speaking the truth in love

"Speaking the truth in love" Ephesians 4:15

We should never criticize or correct except in love. If we find ourselves in anger, or cherishing any bitter, unkind, or resentful feeling, as we are about to point out an error or a mistake in another person or in the another's work we had better be silent and not speak until we can speak in love. Only when our heart is full of love are we fit to judge another or to speak of his faults.

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." Galatians 6:1

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The blessing comes through the serving

When God sends you one to love who becomes a burden upon your heart, who calls for sacrifice, service, patient care, and thought and cost lift up your eyes and reverently thank Him, for there is a Divine blessing for yourself in this ministering in Christ's name. This is a losing of life, which is in reality the finding of it. The blessing comes through the serving, through the giving out of life. An invalid or a suffering one in the house is often the means of softening, refining, and enriching all the household lives.

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Death only sweeps away the limitations, breaks down the walls, shatters the crust of mortality, washes out the stains and then life expands into perfect freedom, fullness, joy, and glory!

The translation of a Christian life from earth to Heaven, is but like the removal of a tender plant from a cold northern garden, where it is stunted and dying into a tropical field, where it puts out most luxurious growths and covers itself with splendor!

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Everything is beautiful in its time

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Everything is beautiful in its time but out of time, the loveliest acts lose much of their loveliness. The art of true living, therefore, consists largely in doing always the duty which belongs to the moment. But how to know what is the duty of each moment, is a question which to many is full of perplexity. Yet it would be easy, if our obedience were but more simple. We have but to take the duty that comes next to our hand that which the moment brings. Our duty is never some faraway thing. The trouble is, that we complicate the question of duty for ourselves, by our way of looking at life, and then get our feet entangled in the meshes which our own hands have woven.

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Is His silence a refusal?

"Jesus did not answer her a word." Matthew 15:23

Our Lord sometimes yet seems to be silent to His people when they cry to Him. To all their earnest supplication, He answers not a word. Is His silence a refusal? By no means. Ofttimes, at least, it is meant only to make the suppliants more earnest, and to prepare their hearts to receive richer and greater blessings. So, when Christ is silent to our prayers, it is that we may be brought down in deeper humility at His feet, and that our hearts may be made more fit to receive Heaven's gifts and blessings.

Then Jesus answered, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour." Matthew 15:28

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No being in the universe can compel us to do wrong

"When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" Matthew 27:24

We read that Pilate took water in the presence of the Jews and washed his hands thus by symbol declaring that he was not responsible for the sentencing of Jesus to die. But the water did not wash away one particle of the stain of the guilt of that terrible sin. Pilate had the misfortune to be the only man in all the province who could send Jesus to the cross. Upon him, therefore, the final responsibility rested, no matter what the pressure that was brought to bear upon him by the enemies of Jesus.

Just so, the fact that others urge us to sin, does not take away our guilt for that sin. No being in the universe can compel us to do wrong. If then, we do wrong, the sin is our own.

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What these things cost our Redeemer

We sometimes forget, while we pillow our heads on the promises of God and rest secure in the atonement, and enjoy all the blessings of redemption and the hopes of glory what these things cost our Redeemer. In . . .
  those long years of poverty,
  those sharp days of temptation,
  those keen hours of agony
He was laying up treasures of blessing and glory for us! There is not a hope or a joy of our Christian faith, which does not come to us out of the treasures stored away by our Redeemer during the years of His humiliation, and the hours of His agony and death.

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Heralds of hope!

"The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because he has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed" Luke 4:18

If we are true and loyal messengers of Christ we can never be prophets of gloom, disheartenment, and despair. We must ever be heralds of hope! We must always have good news to tell. There is a gospel which we have a right to proclaim to everyone, whatever his sorrow may be. In Christ there is always hope, a secret of conquest, a power to transmute loss into gain, to change defeat to victory, to bring life from death. We are living worthily, only when we are living victoriously ourselves at every point, when we are inspiring and helping others to live victoriously, and when our life is a song of hope and gladness even though we sing out of tears and pain.

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Death does not come to the Christian as a destroyer

There will be time enough in Heaven's long summer, for every life to put out all its loveliness and glory. No hopes are blighted, which are only carried forward into the immortal years. No life is incomplete, because it is cut off too soon to ripen, in an earthly home, into the majesty of form and glory of fruitage; for death does not come to the Christian as a destroyer.
It dims no splendor.
It blots out no beauty.
It paralyzes no power.
It blights no bud or germ.
It only takes out of life whatever is dull, earthly, and sinful, whatever is corrupt and mortal and leaves it pure, brilliant, glorious.

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Consecration is a transfer of one's plans and ambitions into the hands of Christ. It is a solemn pledge, also, to accept the plans of the Master for the occupation of the day, no matter how much they may interfere with arrangements we have already made, or how many pleasant things they may cut out of the day's program. We are to answer every call. We are to patiently submit to every interruption. We are to accept every duty. We may go on with the work which seems best to us, if the Master has nothing else for us to do; but, if He has, we will cheerfully drop our own and take up that which He clearly gives instead.

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When He comes to us in the garb of pain or sorrow

Christ is continually coming to us and His hands are full of blessings. Do we receive Him? Is it not true of us, that He comes unto His own, and His own receive Him not? Do we really take from the hand of Christ, all that He offers us? Do we not daily grieve Him and rob ourselves of blessings, by declining what He brings? Especially do we reject Christ often when He comes to us in the garb of pain or sorrow. Many times the blessings He brings to us then, are the very richest and the most precious in all His store. But how many of us receive Christ as gladly, and take the gifts from His hand as cheerfully and gratefully when He comes in grief or suffering, as when He comes in the garb of joy or worldly prosperity?

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Visitors to the Mammoth Cave

When visitors to the Mammoth Cave are preparing to enter that wonderful cavern, the guide puts a lighted lamp into the hand of each tourist. It is noonday perhaps, and it seems very foolish to walk down the green bank carrying the lamps in the bright sunshine. But when the party enters the mouth of the cave, and go a little distance they understand the use of their lamps. In the darkness they would perish, but for their pale light.

Just so, some people do not think, when they are moving along in joy and gladness, that they need Christ; but by and by it grows dark in some path of sorrow and then they learn the blessing of having Christ beforehand. If they have Him in their hearts, they find it light all about them; if they have Him not, the gloom is turned to despair.

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Life in solitude grows selfish

We grow best, as Christians, in our true places in social life. Solitariness is not good; in the broader as well as in the narrower sense it is not good for man to be alone.

Every life needs solitude at times; we should all get into each of our busy days an hour of silence, when human presences shall be shut away by the veil that shuts us in alone with God. We need such hours . . .
  for quiet thought and meditation,
  for communion with Christ,
  for introspection, for spiritual feeding,
  for the drawing of blessing and holy influences down from Heaven to replenish the waste produced by earth's toil, struggle, and sorrow.
There is a time for being alone but we should not seek to live always nor usually in this way. Life in solitude grows selfish. The weeds of evil desire and unhealthy emotion, flourish in solitariness.

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Helping others

"How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye!" Matthew 7:4-5

We must be cleansed ourselves, if we would seek the cleansing of others. What if our own hands, with which we would wash the feet of other disciples, are not clean but are themselves covered with sin? Instead of cleansing the lives we touch we shall then leave stains upon them. So we must see that our own hands have been washed in the blood of Christ, before we undertake to wash the feet of others. Then we must be willing to yield over our own feet to the water. The washing is to go all around; we are to wash one another's feet. The secret of all, must be genuine love for others.

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Many of God's children sit in darkness

There is a picture of a woman seated on the low rocks, looking out upon a wild sea, down into which the treasures of her heart have gone. Her face is stony with hopeless, despairing grief.
Almost touching the black robe of the mourner, hovering over her shoulder, is the shadowy form of an angel softly touching the strings of a harp. But she is unaware of the angel's nearness. She bows in silent unconsciousness, with breaking heart and unsoothed sorrow while the heavenly consolation is so close.

Just so, many of God's children sit in darkness, crushed by their sorrows, yearning for comfort and for an assurance of the Divine love and sympathy, hearing no soft music, no whisper of consolation while close beside them the Master Himself stands unperceived, and Heaven's sweetest songs float unheard in the very air they breathe.

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Let your light shine

"Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world!" Philippians 2:14-15

God wants our lives to be bright. He wants them to shine like lamps in the darkness. The world needs nothing so much as light not light blazing in the far-off sky but light pouring out softly, close by, from human lives which have been kindled at the heart of God. The aim of the gospel of Christ is to make human lives bright with the brightness of God's own holiness. There is a word in one of Paul's letters which puts this truth in the form of an exhortation: "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

A German tale describes a fisherman's log hut, which was transformed into an exquisite temple, by a lamp which burned within. This is an illustration of what takes place in a human life when the lamp of the Holy Spirit burns within it.

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

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Our refuge is in the very heart of God

Not one of us can find a sure refuge at any door, except the door of divine Mercy. But here the vilest sinner can find eternal shelter; and not mere cold shelter only, for God's mercy is "tender." We flee here for refuge, and find it. Strong walls shut out all pursuing enemies, and cover us from all storms. Then, as we begin to rejoice in our security, we learn that we are inside a sweet home, and not merely a secure shelter. Our refuge is in the very heart of God; and no mother's bosom was ever so warm a nest for her own child, as is the Divine mercy for all who find refuge in it.

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior." 2 Samuel 22:2-3

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There are no promises for presumption

Sometimes God wants us to be tried, because we can grow strong only through victory. We have a word of Scripture which says, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

Yet we ought never ourselves to seek any way of life, in which we shall have to be exposed to the peril of conflict with sin. Temptation is too terrible an experience, fraught with too much danger, to be sought by us, or ever encountered, except when God leads us in the path on which it lies. We must never rush unbidden or unsent into any spiritual danger. There are no promises for presumption. "It is written," said the Master, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God."

When God sends us into danger, we are under His "protection; when we go where He does not send us, we go unsheltered.

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The hand of faith

"People brought all their sick to Him and begged Him to let the sick just touch the edge of His cloak, and all who touched Him were healed!" Matthew 14:35-36 

The picture of the people thronging about Christ, pressing upon Him, each one eagerly struggling to touch Him, is very graphic and vivid. A touch was enough: all who touched Him with the hand of faith, were made whole. Life and health flowed into the diseased bodies when the trembling fingers came in contact with the Healer, even with His garments.

So a touch is enough always. Anyone who really touches Christ by is healed. It is not enough to be in the crowd which gathers about Him. Only those are healed, whose faith truly brings them in contact with Him. One sitting or bowing next to us may receive a great blessing while we receive none at all. It is because he reaches out his hand of faith and touches Christ, while we, who are as close to Christ as he is, do not put out our hand to touch Him, and therefore receive no blessing.

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Holiness of character

Every true Christian life is beautiful, so far as it fairly and truly represents Christ. Anything in religion which is not beautiful is not a just or adequate expression of the Lord Jesus. Holiness of character, is simply the reproduction in human life of the likeness of Christ. Any feature that is not lovely and winning, is not truly Christlike, and hence misrepresents Christ. It is not the Christian religion itself which is unlovely in any case but the misrepresents of it, in disposition and conduct of professing Christians.

"The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." 1 John 2:6