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Help for the Day by J R Miller

J.R. Miller (1840-1912)


 
http://www.gracegems.org/Miller/BOOKS.htm


We may safely let our life write its own record


"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

We need not trouble ourselves to keep diaries of our good deeds and sacrifices, or to write autobiographies filled with pages of the good things we have done. 
We may safely let our life write its own record, and let Jesus be our biographer. He will never forget anything we do — and the judgment day will reveal everything. The lowliest services and the obscurest deeds, will then be manifested.

"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. At that time each will receive his praise from God!" 1 Corinthians 4:5

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Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart!

"You have placed our iniquities before You — our secret sins in the light of Your presence!" Psalm 90:8 

It does not take a rifle-bullet to destroy a life. Men have died from little scratch-wounds.

Some shepherds once saw an eagle soar out from a crag. It flew majestically far up into the sky, but by and by became unsteady in its motions, and began to waver in its flight. At length one wing drooped and then the other, and the poor bird struggled vainly for a moment, and then fell swiftly to the ground. The shepherds sought the fallen bird, and found that a poisonous little serpent had fastened itself upon it while it rested on the crag. The eagle did not know that the serpent was there. But the reptile gnawed in through the feathers, and while the proud monarch was sweeping through the air, the serpent's fangs were thrust into its flesh, and the eagle came reeling down into the dust! 
 
This illustrates the story of many a human life. For a time they seem quite promising; then suddenly they struggle and fall. 
Some secret sin has long been eating its way to the heart, and at last the proud life lies soiled and dishonored in the dust!

We need to be ever on our watch against these treacherous and insidious perils, these little, secret sins — which, unperceived, work death in the soul!

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Black seeds without beauty!

"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

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 fruits 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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The best thing most of us can do in this world!

There are a few people whom God calls to do great things for Him. 
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 face; and doing in our poor way, a few of the beautiful things He would do if He were here Himself.

"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 want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:11-13

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The end of God's goodness?

"The incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:7

"The unsearchable riches of Christ!" Ephesians 3:8

God never gives all He has to give. The time will never come, 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 His treasury of love — shows another door into another treasury beyond. The yet unrevealed, is ever better than the already revealed. 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 

"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:19

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This burden of ours!

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 sentimentality which would take all the load away, and leave you free from any burden.

God's purpose always is to make something of us, 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.

"Moreover let us exult in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance develops maturity of character." Romans 5:3-4

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Love's ministry

"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good." Acts 10:38 

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.

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. Duty is too large, the battles are too hard. It is our mission to do for these weary, overwrought, 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.

"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

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Our weakness

When we are strong, or deem ourselves strong — 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 — we are strong, because then we turn to Christ 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 trust Christ, He will transform 
our weakness 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 strength. 

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, then he was strong.

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong!" 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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The broken fragments of a life

In Florence, one of the treasures of art admired by thousands of visitors is Michael Angelo's representation in marble of the young David. The shepherd boy stands with firm foothold, the stone grasped tightly in his right hand, ready to be sped on its holy errand. When the statue was unveiled, three hundred and fifty years ago, it caused an unparalleled sensation among all lovers of art. It is, indeed, a marvelous piece of sculpture.

But the strangely winning thing in the story of that statue, is that it was the stone's second chance. A sculptor began work on a noble piece of marble — but, lacking skill, he only hacked and marred the block. It was then abandoned as spoiled and worthless, and cast aside. For years it lay in a back yard, soiled and blackened, half hidden among the rubbish. At last Angelo saw it, and at once perceived its possibilities. Under his skillful hand, the stone was cut into the lovely and marvelous beauty which appears in the statue of David.

Just so, God can take 
the broken fragments of a life, shattered by sorrow or by sin — and out of them make a new life whose music shall thrill many hearts. If one is discouraged, if the life seems to be hopelessly broken — the gospel of divine love brings encouragement. There are no ruins of life, out of which God cannot build beauty and blessing!

God is infinitely patient with all whose lot is hard. He never exacts more of us than we can do. He is never unreasonable. He knows when the burdens are too heavy for us. Once He, "being wearied with His journey, sat down by the well" in His exhaustion. He sympathizes with those who are weary, and helps them.

"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

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We are not saved by a creed!

That which makes one a Christian is not . . .
  the acceptance of Christ's teaching, 
  the uniting with His church, 
  the adoption of His morals,
  the espousing of His cause — 
but the receiving of Him as our personal Savior, the entering into a covenant of eternal friendship with Him as our Lord and Master. 

We are not saved by a creed which gathers up the essence of the truth about Christ's person and work, in a few golden sentences. We must have the Christ Himself, whom the creed holds forth, in His radiant beauty and grace.

A good 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 vital religion. 

True 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 thought and act 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 religious, 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 religion, as we get into our week-your life, and not a whit more!

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An easy, self-indulgent life

"And He was saying to them all: If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23 

We cannot live a life that will please Christ — without great cost to ourselves. It is never an easy thing, to be a disciple of Christ. 
An easy, self-indulgent life — can never be a Christ-like life. 

It was not easy for Christ to redeem sinners. From beginning to end of His earthly ministry, He poured out His own precious life. The people thronged about Him with their sins, their sorrows, and their needs — and virtue went out of Him continually to heal them, to comfort them, to feed their heart-hunger. He utterly forgot Himself — and gave His life and love without stint to every one who asked. At last He literally gave Himself, emptying out His heart's blood — to give eternal life to sinful and dead souls. 

His sufferings were finished, when He bowed His head on the cross. It is now our privilege to suffer for Him — to perpetuate the self-sacrificial love of Christ on this earth. Only in so far as we do this, are we living a life that will please Him. 

"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death!" Philippians 3:10 

"Anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:38

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We would be growing into monsters of selfishness!

At every point as we go on into the thickening experiences of life — the lesson of living with others meets us. It is not always easy to gracefully accept these contacts with others, and to enter into kindly relations with them. 

There are some people who seem to be very good alone, while no one comes near them, while no other life touches theirs, when they have to think of no one but themselves — who make wretched business of living when they come into personal relations with others! Then they are selfish, tyrannical, despotic, willful, and exacting! They will not yield to any other one's desire or needs. They must have their own way; and they drive their life like a rough plow-share right through the comforts, the desires, the feelings, of others!

It seems almost a pity there could not be a few corners fenced off in this great world for such people as these, where they could live altogether alone, with no one ever to interfere with their rights or liberties, or to impinge upon their comfort in any way. 

But this is not God's ordinance for human lives. We are to live together in families, in communities, in friendship's circle. Indeed, no worse fate could befall us, than to be doomed to live alone. 
We might thus be absolved from the duties of love, 
we could then have our own way, 
we would not be required to think of anybody but ourselves, 
and there would be no call for self-denial or sacrifice.
But meanwhile, 
we would be growing into monsters of selfishness! 

We never can learn love's lessons, except in life's school, where the lessons are set for us in actual human relationships.

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

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One of the finest things in a complete Christian character

One of the finest things in a complete Christian character
, is thoughtfulness. It gives a wondrous charm to a life. It makes one a blessing wherever he goes. It tempers all his conduct, softening all natural harshness into gentleness, and giving a spirit of kindliness to his every word and act, and to all his bearing.

A thoughtful person does not have to be asked to help others — he helps, as it were, instinctively. He is ever ready . . . 
  to do the obliging thing, 
  to say the encouraging word, 
  to show an interest in the life of others, 
  to perform those countless little kindnesses which so brighten the common pathway. 

In much home-life, there is a lack of thoughtfulness shown. Not always is the speech gentle — sometimes it is sharp and bitter, even rude. Without being aware of it, many of us are miserably selfish in our life among others. We practically forget that there are any other people, or that we ought to make any sacrifices, or practice any self-denials, for their sake. 

Thoughtfulness will seek always to say kindly words, never words that will give pain — but ever those that will give pleasure. We have no right, for the sake of saying a bright thing, to let loose a shaft, however polished, that will make a loving heart bleed!

We all know in our own experience, the value of sincere and Christly thoughtfulness. We do not like to come in contact with thoughtless people. We know well how it hurts and how unbeautiful, how unchristian, it seems when we see it in another — and when our heart is the one that suffers from its harsh, rude impact. We all long for thoughtfulness in others; our hearts hunger and thirst for it. It is bread and wine to us.

What we long for in others in their relation to us — we should be ready to give to them. What in others hurts us, gives us pain — we ought to avoid in our contact with others. Thoughtfulness is one of the finest, ripest fruits of Christian love — and all who would be like the Master must seek to learn this lesson, and wear this grace.

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Take all the tangled threads!

Heavenly Father, we would be strong for this new day, and we wait upon You to renew our strength. We need spiritual strength for the day that is before us. We shall have . . . 
   burdens to carry, 
   and battles to fight, 
   and trials to endure, 
   and duties to perform,
   and temptations to conquer,
   and conflicts with the evil world. 
We need strength for all these experiences. You alone can give us what we need. You are our refuge and our strength — a very present help in times of trouble. You have promised to be with us, and to strengthen us. You have said that as our days are — so shall our strength be; and that Your grace is sufficient for us. We accept these assurances, believing that we shall obtain help from You for every duty and every struggle this day.

We would lean . . .
   our weakness — on Your strength, 
   our ignorance — on Your wisdom, 
   our trembling insecurity — on Your unchangeableness. 

Restrain us . . .
   from all excess, of whatever kind,
   from all extravagance of speech, 
   from all foolish vanity, 
   from inordinate affection and emotion. 
Make us thoughtful, serious, solemn, watchful, and prayerful.

May we be . . .
   stronger in faith, 
   more earnest in purpose, 
   more holy in thought and feeling — 
because of our communion with You this day.

We ask You for grace . . .
   to perform our allotted tasks with diligence;
   to guide our affairs with discretion;
   to do all things, whatever we do, in the name of the Lord Jesus;
   and in all our ways to acknowledge You. 
Order our steps in Your word — and let not any iniquity have dominion over us.

Take all the tangled threads of our lives into Your own hand, and unravel them, weaving them into a web of beauty.

"Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength! They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint!" Isaiah 40:31

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A Christian is one who follows Christ

You must receive Christ as your Master and Lord. 
A Christian is one who follows Christ. This means the surrender of the whole life to Him. The heart must be given up. There can be no Christian life, without love to Jesus. Jesus demands the first place in the affections of His followers. If anyone loves father or mother, brother or sister, wife or child, more than Him — he is not worthy of Jesus, and cannot be His disciple.

But the most perfect obedience, if the heart is not in it, would not make one a Christian. We might devote our life and strength to Christian work, toiling unweariedly in the service of the church, giving our money lavishly for the advancement of Christianity or for the relief of suffering — and yet not be Christians. Love for Christ must be the motive at the heart of all our work for Christ. "Do you love Me?" is the test.

But the heart draws the whole life after it. If we truly love Jesus — we will obey Jesus. "If you love Me — keep My commandments." "You are My friends — if you do whatever I command you." 

We cannot accept Christ as our Savior — and not at the same time accept Him as our Lord and Master. We must begin at once to obey Him. Our obedience must be without reserve, without condition, without question. It must also be cheerful and glad-hearted — not compulsory, reluctant, or constrained. 

Christians are soldiers of Christ — and the soldier's first duty is to obey. Whether the will of Christ is made known to us in His Word, through our own conscience, or in providence — we should always promptly and cheerfully accept and obey. It may not be always easy — it may be very hard and costly; but when the will of our Master is made known, if we are His followers — we can only obey, and our obedience should be sweet with love.

We love Him — because He first loved us. We know Him — because He first calls us. Christ is ours — and we are Christ's. Being a Christian is living out His same life of love, obedience, surrender, and service, through all the days.

As Christians, we are to live out the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians: "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. Love never fails."

True faith will make us more gentle, more patient, more unselfish. A Christian life is a new Christ-life lived out in this world — we are to be Christ to others!

The heart of the Christian should be a well of living water, a fount of holy and blessed influences, whose streams flow in all directions — carrying comfort, cheer, encouragement, help, and gladness to every other life they reach. Mere orthodoxy of belief does not make one a Christian, nor does attention to church rituals and rules. A Christian is one in whom the life of Christ pulses, and the love of Christ glows and burns!

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Some people use pepper instead!

"Out of the overflow of the heart — the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34

Hence we must get our heart right — if we would speak words that are Christlike. A bitter heart cannot give out sweet words — nor can an impure heart speak wholesome, pure words. 

Most people talk too much — they chatter on forever. Silence is far better than idle, sinful, or foolish speech. 

We have suggestions in the New Testament as to the kind of speech that is worthy of a redeemed life. Paul has some very plain words on the subject: "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 impart grace to the hearers." Ephesians 4:29. That is, no word should be spoken which does not . . .
 help to build up character,
 make those who hear it better, 
 inspire some good thought, some holy feeling, some kindly act, 
 or put some touch of beauty upon the life. 

A Christian's words should "impart grace to the hearers." That is, they should impart blessing in some way. We all know people whose words have this quality. They are not always exhorting, preaching, or talking religiously — and yet we never speak with them without being the better for it. Their simplest words do us good. They give cheer, courage, and hope. We feel braver and stronger after a little conversation with them, even after a moment's greeting on the street.

In another place Paul says, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6. This means graceful speech, not merely as to its manner — but also as to its quality. It must be speech such as Christ Himself would use if He were in our place, and we know that every word of His was a holy seed. Our speech is to be "full of grace" — it is to be true, reverent, helpful, inspiring.

Our speech should be "seasoned with salt," that is, it should be pure and clean. Salt preserves from decay and putridity. The Christian's speech should have in it the divine quality of holiness, and its effect should be cleansing and purifying. Someone speaks of the words of Jesus as a handful of spices cast into this world's bitter waters to sweeten them. Every Christian's words should have like influence in society, wherever they are spoken.

The seasoning is important — our speech is to be "seasoned with salt." Love is salt. Truth is salt. Our speech should be always kindly. It should be without bitterness, without malice, without unlovingness in any form. The seasoning should be salt.
Some people use pepper instead — and pepper is sharp, biting, pungent. Their speech is full of sarcasm, of censure, of bitterness, of words that hurt and burn. This is not Christlike speech. 

We should never be content to talk even five minutes with another, without saying at least a word or two that may do good, that may give a helpful impulse or kindle an upward aspiration.

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John learned his lesson by lying on the bosom of Jesus!

Many Christian people are willing to confess to an ungentle temper. They seem to think it a matter of not very grave importance. Perhaps the very commonness of the infirmity, blinds our eyes to its unbeauty and its sinfulness. We are apt to regard the malady more as a weakness — than as a sin which makes us guilty before God.

But there is no question that bad temper is unchristlike. We cannot think of Jesus as acrimonious, touchy, irritable, peevish, or vindictive. Love ruled all His dispositions, His words, His feelings. He was put to the sorest tests — but never failed. He endured all manner of wrongs, insults, and hurts; but, like those flowers which yield their sweetest perfume only when crushed — His life gave out the more sweetness, the more it was exposed to men's rudeness and unkindness. We are like Christ, only in the measure in which we have the patience, gentleness, and good-temper of Christ.

We all agree that bad temper is very unlovely in other people. We know, too, what discomfort and pain a bad temper causes wherever the person goes. Bad temper is not any more lovely in us, as we appear to others' eyes.

An essential teaching of Christianity, is that marred human nature can be changed. The worst temper can be schooled into the most divine sweetness of spirit. The tongue which no man can tame — Christ can tame, so that, instead of bitterness, it shall give out only words of love.

Paul was quite an old man when he said he had learned in whatever state he was therein, to be content. His language implies also that it was not easy for him to learn this lesson, and that he had not attained full proficiency in it until he had reached old age. 

The lesson of sweet temper is probably quite as hard as that of contentment. It has to be learned, too, for it does not come naturally. This lesson can be learned. We need only to put ourselves into the school of Christ and stay there, accepting His teaching and discipline, and advancing little by little, until at last we can say, "I have learned in whatever circumstances I am, under whatever provocation, irritation, or temptation to anger or impatience — always to keep sweet-tempered!"

This lesson can be learned. Among Jesus' own disciple family, there was one who at the first was hasty, fiery, and vindictive — but who at length grew into such sweet beauty of disposition and character — that he was known as the beloved disciple, the disciple of love. 
John learned his lesson by lying on the bosom of Jesus. Intimacy with Christ, close, personal friendship with Him, living near His heart of love, will transform the most unloving, selfish nature — into sweetness of spirit!

Such love within the heart — will soon get control of all the outer life — the dispositions, the speech, the manners, and all the expressions of the inner life. Thus bitterness, wrath, clamor, and all evil speaking — will give place to gentleness, goodness, and grace.

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We would wreck everything!

Not only does God love us and desire our good — but His wisdom is infinite. He knows what is best for us, what things will do us the good we need. We ourselves do not know. The things we think would bring us blessing — perhaps would bring us irreparable harm! The things we dread as evil, and shrink from — perhaps are the bearers to us of divinest good! We would make pitiful work of our lives — if we had the ordering of our affairs in our own hands. If for but one day we could take matters into our own hands, out of God's hands — we would wreck everything!

"My times are in Your hands!" Psalm 31:15

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He makes no mistakes!

"He led them forth by the 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 plant grows best in the sheltered valley, another by the water's edge, another on the bleak mountaintop swept by storms. God puts every tree or plant in the locality where the conditions of its growth exist — and does God give more thought to trees and plants, than to His own children? He 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 especially need to bring out in us the beauties and graces of true spiritual character. God knows what is best — 
He makes no mistakes!

"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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Nevertheless, I want Your will to be done, not mine!

"Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.
Nevertheless, I want Your will to be done, not mine!" Luke 22:42 

The best thing possible for us, is always what God wills for us. Sometimes God's will may be pain, or worldly loss, or sore bereavement. Yet His will is always love, and insimple 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, I want Your will to be done, not mine!" 

This is also the way 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.

"Let the Lord's will be done." Acts 21:14 

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

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

Every obstacle to holy 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.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything!" James 1:2-4 

"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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God does not simply remove our ugly character traits!

"Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." Philippians 2:12-13 

Each one's battle must be a personal one. No one can reach the summit, without climbing the steep mountain path. We cannot be borne up on another's strong shoulder. No one can carry us up. 

God does not simply put beautiful Christian graces into our lives, as the jeweler sets gems in a coronet. 
God does not simply remove our ugly character traits — and replace them by lovely ones. Each Christian must persevere through trials, troubles and temptations — to all noble spiritual attainments. 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 

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The God of the broken-hearted!

"He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds!" Psalm 147:3

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

The world cares little for broken hearts. Indeed, men often 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 of His people attracts Him. The lament of grief on earth, draws Him down from Heaven!

"The LORD is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 

"He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted" Luke 4:18

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I was almost gone!

"But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and 
I was almost gone!" Psalm 73:2 

The God of the Bible, is the God of those who have failed. 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 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.

"Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory!" Psalm 73:23-24 

"My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me!" Psalm 63:8 

"Hold me up — and I shall be safe!"
 Psalm 119:117

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The countless lowly 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.

In the same way, it is not from the few great and conspicuous deeds of life that the blessings chiefly come which make the world better, sweeter, holier — but from 
the countless lowly ministries of the every-days, the little faithfulnesses that fill long years.

"Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing" Luke 19:17

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Following Jesus!

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

"After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. 'Follow Me,' Jesus said to him; and Levi got up, left everything and followed Him." Luke 5:27-28 

"We have left everything to follow You!" Mark 10:28 

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 no matter; we have nothing whatever to do with the kind of life to which our Lord 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 in eternal 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 day with earnest resolve in Christ's name to make it the holiest and most beautiful we have ever lived, as we follow Him.

"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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

There is a wondrous charm in a gentle spirit

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart" Matthew 11:29 

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

Close beside every Christian, stands One who holds all gifts and graces in His hands. Jesus looks into our face and asks what new adornment He shall give us. Let us pray for the spirit of gentleness, for no other gift will make us such a blessing to others.

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

"Let your gentleness be evident to all." Philippians 4:5 

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Do we understand what love is?

Do we understand what love is? We like to be loved, that is, to have other people love us, and live for us, and do things for us. We like the gratifications of love. 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, receiving. Nay, 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.

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Christian's dress all the week

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; but there are not moral precepts for the one day 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.

"You ought to live holy and godly lives" 2 Peter 3:11

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

With the fragments of the broken hopes and joys

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

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

In a great cathedral there is said to be 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 — and this is the most beautiful window of all. 

In the same way, God can build a noble character for you, 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 that lie strewn about your feet. No others by their worst work of hurt or marring, can prevent your building a beautiful character for yourself.

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Love was the interpreter!

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

In the same way, 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! The deeper their love for Him becomes — the more do the sacred pages glow with beauty and light!

"O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day!" Psalm 119:97

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

What the person IS, often mars the value of what he DOES!

A pastor was commending Christ to a boy, expressing the hope that he would trust in Christ in his youth. "Religion is a continual joy," he said. "Look at your sister, Sarah. How much that dear girl enjoys her religion!" 

"Yes," drawled the boy, with frank candor, "She may enjoy her religion — but nobody else in the house enjoys it!" 

There are professing Christians of whom it is true that their families do not enjoy their religion. It is not sweet. It is not a comfort to people. It is critical, rasping, censorious, exacting. It was a serious condemnation of this girl's religion, that her family did not enjoy it.

A keen observer has said, "Many a woman spoils her testimony in the church, by her tongue in the kitchen!" 

Another has said, "There are people who lead us Heavenward — but stick pins in us all the way!" 

In a conversation overheard on a railway train, one reports catching this fragment of talk: "Yes, I suppose she's a Christian — but she certainly isn't pleasant to live with!"

A Christian who isn't pleasant to live with, is shameful. We may do all our duties faithfully, conscientiously, bearing our share of the burdens and cares — and yet, if we are not pleasant to live with, we fail in the most essential quality of love. An unlovely spirit, frowns and chilling looks, sharp impatient words — overbalance the painstaking Christian service that does so much to help in practical ways. 
What the person IS, often mars the value of what he DOES!

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He will sustain us so that we may carry it!

"Cast your burden on the LORD — and He shall 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 duty — but He strengthens us for it. 

He does not deliver us from conflict — but He enables us to overcome. 

He does not withhold or withdraw 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 power is made perfect in weakness!" 2 Corinthians 12:9

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Silently entwining their invisible threads into a cable!

"Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22 

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

We indulge ourselves in many things which to us do not appear overtly sinful — but which leave on our soul a touch of blight, 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 cable which some day shall 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.

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

[Editor's note: Christians today are in great danger of allowing the world's sinful media and entertainments into our minds and hearts!]

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The sweeping away of our earthly hopes!

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!" Deuteronomy 33:27 

"You are my refuge — my portion in the land of the living!" Psalm 142:5

Often we do not learn the depth and riches of God's love, and the sweetness of His presence — until our earthly joys vanish out of our hands, and other beloved presences fade away out of sight.

The loss of temporal things seems often to be necessary to empty our hearts — that they may receive unseen and eternal realities. The heart's door is never fully opened to Him — until the soul's worldly joys are removed; 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 bare branches." Worldly losses but strip off the foliage, and disclose to us our heart's warm nest in the bosom of God!

"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble!" Psalm 9:9

"God is our refuge and strength — a very present help in trouble!" Psalm 46:1 

"You are my strong refuge!" Psalm 71:7

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

How can I avoid the annoyances which continually harass me?

The 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 trials? 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 annoyances which continually harass me?" 

There is nothing noble in such living. The soldier who flees when he smells the battle 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 harshly, bearing injuries meekly, returning gentle answers to insulting words?"

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Broken, trampled, torn!

Life may seem a failure here, crushed like a lily under the heel of wrong or sin —
broken, trampled, torn! But it may yet become a glorious success. Many of the truest and best of God's children, know only defeat in this world. They are ever 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.

"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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Death to the Christian!

"They are without fault before the throne of God!" Revelation 14:5

Death to the Christian
, only . . .
  washes out all his sins and stains, 
  shatters the crust of his mortality,
  sweeps away all his moral spots, blots, infirmities, weaknesses, follies, limitations and blemishes — 
and then life expands into perfect freedom, fullness, joy, and power. 

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

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He always gives sufficient grace

"Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves! About three o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them, walking on the water!" Matthew 14:24-25

God adapts His grace to the peculiarities of each of His children's necessity. For rough, flinty paths — He provides shoes of iron. He never sends anyone to climb steep, sharp, rugged mountainsides — wearing silken slippers. 
He always gives sufficient grace. 

As the burdens grow heavier — His 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 environment of trial or difficulty or hardship — in which we cannot live beautiful lives of Christian fidelity and holy conduct.

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Some day I shall be like that!

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

No sooner do we begin to behold the fair face that 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 foreordained to be conformed to His image. It matters not how faintly the Divine beauty now glimmers in our soiled and imperfect lives — some day we shall be like Him! 

As we struggle here with our imperfections and infirmities, with scarcely one 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 appears, we shall be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is!" 1 John 3:2

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Every word is practical

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 

It is necessary to read the Bible, not merely to know the will of God — but that we may do it. If it 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 word that rebukes any habit or attitude of ours — we are immediately to make the needed amendment. 

We are to accept its promises, believe them, and act as believing 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 that 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 to us its inmost meaning!

"Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart!" Psalm 119:34 

"This has been my practice: I obey Your precepts. You are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to obey Your words." Psalm 119:56-57 

"I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands." Psalm 119:60 

" I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey Your precepts." Psalm 119:100 

"Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them!" Psalm 119:129 

" I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly!" Psalm 119:167

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We can prevent them building their nests in our hair!

"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 surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:5-7 

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 over 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 around 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.

Is not God wise enough to manage the difficulties of our lives, and to bring order and beauty out of them?

Has He not skill enough?

Is He not our heavenly Father?

Will He not always do the very best and wisest thing for us?

Should we not trust Him, and cease to worry about anything that we have committed to Him?

Is not worry doubt — and is not doubt sin?

We are 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 tangled web of our life into patterns of beauty, unless by our follies and sins we mar it. But we must not hurry Him. 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.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry" Luke 12:22

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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 "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!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

There must be no conditions in the following of Christ

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me!" Luke 9:23 

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

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

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

"Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple!" Luke 14:27

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We could not understand them

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

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. 
We could not understand them. 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.

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 we 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 — when the arm is strong, the blood warm, and the heart brave.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We do not know that it would be best

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

When a beloved Christian's life hangs trembling in the balance — we should not, with all our loving yearning, dare to choose whether it shall be spared to us, or carried to its heavenly home. 

When some great hope of our heart is about to be taken from us — we should not dare settle the question whether we shall lose it or keep it. 

We do not know that it would be best. 

But we do know that God has a perfect plan for our life, marked out by His infinite wisdom. Surely we should not say that what we, with our limited wisdom, might prefer — would be better than what He wills for 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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The rough stalk of suffering!

"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!" Isaiah 48:10 

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

We take our place with the beloved disciple on the other side, and we see that those who in Heaven wear the whitest robes, and sing the loudest songs of victory — are "the ones who have come out of the great tribulation!" Revelation 7:14 

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, 
  its scenes of sorrow, where pale cheeks are wet with tears, and where hearts are broken.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

This lesson makes life easy and simple

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

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. 
It has enough to fill heart and hands for the one full day. We cannot live its life well, and use any of its strength outside of itself. The very best we can do for any day, 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.

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 get along for one short day — it is the projection of life into the long future that dismays and appalls us. 
This lesson makes life easy and simple.

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The very soul of all true prayer!

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

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly. My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water!" Psalm 63:1 

Longing is 
the very soul of all true prayer. Longing is . . .
  the empty hand reached out to receive new gifts from God; 
  the heart's cry which God hears with acceptance, and answers; 
  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! 

Indeed, longing is 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!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Unconscious unpurposed influences

It is not what a man does or says purposely and with direct intention, that 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. Character is not necessarily what the man does — but what the man is!

There are great multitudes of humble Christian lives lived on the earth, which have no name among men, whose work no pen records and no marble immortalizes — but which are well known and unspeakably dear to God, and whose influence will be seen, in the end, to reach to farthest shores. They make no noise in the world — but it does not need noise to make a life beautiful and noble. 

Many of God's most potent ministries are noiseless. 

How silently all day long the sunbeams fall upon the fields and gardens — and yet what cheer, what inspiration, what life and beauty they diffuse! 

How silently the flowers bloom — and yet what rich blessings of beauty and fragrance do they emit! 

How silently the stars move on in their majestic marches around God's throne — and yet the telescope shows us that they are mighty worlds representing utterly incalculable power!

The silent personal influence of a holy Christian has a healing, life-giving effect wherever it falls. Such a man goes about his daily duty as other men do; but, while he is engaged in common things, he is continually dropping seeds of blessing, which spring up behind him in heavenly beauty and fragrance!

In all true living, while men execute their greater plans — they are ever unintentionally performing a series of unconscious 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, impulses given by our salutations, 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 wondrous results of these unconscious acts of usefulness.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A ruined, worthless human life which has no beauty, no attractiveness

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! 

In the same way, 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 beautiful, precious, glorious, immortal!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

If we met ourselves some day on the street

We are very charitable towards our own shortcomings. We make all manner of allowance for our own faults, and are wonderfully patient with our own infirmities. We see our good things magnified — and our blemishes in a light that makes them seem almost virtues! 

So true is this, that 
if we met ourselves some day on the street, the self that God sees, even the self our neighbor sees — we probably would not recognize it as really ourselves. Our own judgment of our life is not conclusive. There is a self we do not see.

"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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The lesson may be hard to many of us

"The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell." James 3:6 

All true heart-culture is toward the control and the restraining of speech. 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 to 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 often silence is better. He who has learned to hold his tongue, is a greater conqueror than the warrior who subdues an empire! The power to be silent under provocation and wrongs, and in the midst of danger and alarms — is the power of the noblest, worthiest victoriousness.

"Study to be quiet" 1 Thessalonians 4:11

"There is a time to be silent — and a time to speak" Ecclesiastes 3:7 

"Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips!" Psalm 141:3 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Cast your cares on the LORD

"
Cast your cares on the LORD — and He will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22 

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 that 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 that comes to our hand.

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

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The easiest cross for each one to bear

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me!" Luke 9:23 

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

Sometimes we think our lot is peculiarly hard, and we compare it with the lot 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. 

The cross that seems woven of flowers, if we put it on our shoulders — we might find filled with sharp thorns under the flowers. 

The cross of gold that seems so bright — we would find so heavy that it would crush us. 

The easiest cross for each one to bear
, is his own!

"Anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:38 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We ought to learn this life-secret!

"You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence — with eternal pleasures at Your right hand!" Psalm 16:11 

This is a wonderful secret which all of us ought to learn: not to think so much about the toil and hardness of the way — but to look beyond to the glory of the end. It does not matter how rough the road is — if only it brings us to our Heavenly 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 blessings that are waiting for us in Heaven!

We ought to learn this life-secret, which made Christ look past the shame and sorrow of His cross — and see only the glory beyond. Learn to look up toward Heaven. Think of its  eternal joys and blessedness — until earth's trials shall melt away in the brightness, and its griefs and losses be forgotten in the hopes of glory!

"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, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God!" Hebrews 12:2

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

So all through life these balancings run

"Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" Job 2:10 

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.

"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 I, do not be afraid!

"But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, 'Take courage; 
it is I, do not be afraid!' Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished!" Mark 6:49-51 

It seems strange to us that the disciples should ever have been afraid of their own Master. They had been in great distress all the night because He was not with them. Yet, when He came, they were in terror at sight of Him. It was because they did not know it was Jesus, that His presence so affrighted them. 

It is often just so with us. We are in some need or danger, and Jesus does not come to us. We call upon Him, and most earnestly desire His coming. At length He comes; but it is not as we expected, in lovely visage and gentle deportment — but in form of terror. It is in some great trial that He comes.

We cry out in fear. We do not know it is the Jesus, veiled in the dark robe. We are affrighted at the form that moves over the waters in the dark night, though it is the very Divine love and Divine help for which we have been longing and pleading!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Fashioning the chains to bind them forever!

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.

In the same way, 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 and practice, which grow into habits and character. They are mere gossamer threads at first, which will become strong cables at last, if we allow them to be enrapt about our souls!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Old age is the harvest of all the years

All earthly life is a time for gathering. Not a day should pass when we do not store up something for the future:
  some new bit of wisdom, 
  some new lesson of Christian 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 advance in love or inner beauty.
That is the way to grow wise and godly 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.

"They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green!" Psalm 92:14 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A secret peace 

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

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 low 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.

"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

"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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Our refuge is in the very heart of God!

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in You my soul takes refuge." Psalm 57:1 

Not one of us can ever find a refuge at any door, except at 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 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.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble!" Psalm 46:1

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We always see what we are looking for!

"A joyful heart makes a cheerful face. But a broken heart crushes the spirit!" Proverbs 15:13 

We always see what we are looking for. If our mind has become trained to look for troubles, difficulties, problems, and all dark and dreary things — we shall find just what we seek. 

On the other hand, it is quite as easy to form the habit of always looking 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 seeing always the bright side in life, is worth a large income to a man. It makes life a great deal more cheerful. None of us are naturally drawn to a gloomy person, who finds something to complain about everywhere — but we are all attracted to one who sees some beauty in everything. Christian joy is a transfiguring quality — its secret is a glad heart.

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Faithful, happy, cheerful doing of everyday tasks

"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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God!" Romans 12:1-2 

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. 

There is no other way in which one's life will so surely and so quickly become transfigured — as in the 
faithful, happy, cheerful doing of everyday tasks. We need to remember that this world is not so much a place for doing things — as for making character. Household life is not primarily a sphere for good cooking, tidy keeping of things, thorough sweeping and dusting, careful nursing and training of children, hospitable entertainment of friends, and the thousand things that must be done each day. Home is a sphere for transforming souls into radiant beauty. But we must take heed always that we do our tasks, whatever they are, with love. Doing any kind of work unwillingly, fretfully, with complaint and murmuring, hurts the life.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

When his horse died

There are troubles or misfortunes which have already passed — so 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.

"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 

"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 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Careless 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 

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.

"Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips!" Psalm 141:3 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The petitions from our stained and unholy lips

"Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them!" Hebrews 7:25 

"Christ Jesus . . . is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." Romans 8:34 

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 that leave our hearts and lips spotted and unholy, without any beauty or sweetness — when they come up before God have become precious perfumes.

"We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Romans 8:26-27

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

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 

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus!" Hebrews 12:2 

It is not merely a brief glance now and then that 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!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Some weary one, shut away in the darkness, in the chamber of pain

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 liking. 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 severer 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 the Divine will as revealed in Scripture.

It may not be any form of activity — sometimes it is quiet waiting. 

It is not bringing a great many souls to Christ, attending a great many religious meetings, or talking a great deal.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

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. 

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The flowing out of the love in little words, acts, and expressions

We keep sad silences often with those who are dearest to us, even when their hearts are crying out for our comforting words. In many homes that lack rich and deep happiness, it is not more love that 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 of affection — and starve and die if it is withheld from them!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The bane of spiritual good

Unbroken worldly prosperity is 
the bane of spiritual good. For one thing, it hinders the growth of Christian graces and virtues. There are Scripture truths that can be learned better in the darkness of adversity, than in light of prosperity. There are Divine promises which by their very nature are invisible in the noonday of prosperity, hiding away like stars in the light — and revealing themselves only when it grows dark around us. The deeper, richer meaning of many a word of Scripture — is learned only amid life's painful changes.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

We must do our little nothings for His glory

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

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 shirt,
  or plane a board;
 — but, if it is done as unto the Lord, it will be owned and accepted by Him.

"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, tired as He was from the journey

"Jacob's well was there, and 
Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well." John 4:6 

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 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 to us a blessing of strength and cheer. 

Let all Christians whose work is hard, and who often are very tired, frame this picture in their memory and keep it always hanging up on the wall of their heart: "Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well."

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

I will make you fishers of men

"Come, 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. 

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 these things do not 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."

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

A story of a half-witted boy

There is 
a story of a half-witted boy whose idea of forgiveness was beautiful. He said that "Jesus came and with His red hand rubbed out all his sins!"

A quaint 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 book told the whole story of his life. 

The first page was black: that was his sin; that was his condition by nature. He would shudder when 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 cleanses us from all sin!" 1 John 1:7

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The darkness does not tell of Divine anger

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. 

In the same way, 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 Divine 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 He is bringing out in our souls!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Character grows and develops

Character grows and develops as the baby passes 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. Final character is the result of all these influences that work and co-work upon the Christian life. 

In the end we are to be altogether like Jesus; hence all life's aiming and striving should be towards Christ's blessed beauty.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Rough dark seeds  

"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 

We cannot expect to know all God's thoughts. We cannot expect to know God's design in the mysterious providences which 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. We cannot tell what blessing will come in the long future, from the sorrow that now lays its heavy hand upon us!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

No day is commonplace

No day is commonplace, if only we had eyes to see the veiled splendors that lie in its opportunities, in its plain and dull routine. There is no duty that comes to our hand, but brings to us the possibility of kingly service with Divine reward.

"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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

A Christian hero!

To live a holy life, is to . . . 
live well in one's place in the world, 
adorning one's calling, however lowly, 
doing one's most mundane work diligently and honestly, 
and dwelling in love and unselfishness with all men. 

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!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Opportunities for such ministry are occurring continually

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 heart and so much Christ into phrase and tone — as to uplift our neighbor all the day. In a few moments' conversation by the wayside, or during the informal call, or in the midst of the day's heat and strife — we may drop the word that will lift a burden, or strengthen a fainting heart, or inspire a new hope, or give warning of danger.

"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 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The quiet forces that have the greatest effect

In all departments of life, it is 
the quiet forces that have the greatest effect. 

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. 

It is in the lightning, not in the thunder-peal, that the electric energy resides.

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Peace is their pillow

"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 ask questions, 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 quiet trust robs . . .
  trial of its sharpness,
  sorrow of its bitterness,
  death of its sting, and
  the grave of its victory!

"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

A truer index of the life

The ordinary attainments of the common days is 
a truer index of the life, a truer measure of its character and value — than are the most striking and brilliant things of its 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.


When we are resolving to live more grandly

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 spirit, in temper, in speech, in heart.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Plank-eye!

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 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?" Matthew 7:3-4 

Our own imperfections unfit us for judging fairly. With planks in our own eyes, we cannot see clearly to pick specks 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. Thus in very many ways, we are unfitted in ourselves to be judges of others.

"Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind!" 1 Peter 2:1

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

It is not so much what we do in this world, as what we are

It is life itself, sanctified life, that is God's holiest and most effective ministry in this world — pure, sweet, patient, earnest, unselfish, loving life. 

It is not so much what we do in this world, as what we are — which leaves the best spiritual results and impressions. 

A 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!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

We should never criticize or correct

"Speaking the truth in love" Ephesians 4:15 

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

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 other's work — we would 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

 

My portion!

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and 
my portion forever!" Psalm 73:26 

What is the loss of money, savings, houses, costly furniture, musical instruments, and works of art — while love remains? What are temporal and worldly losses of the sorest kind — while God 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?

"You are my refuge and 
my portion in the land of the living." Psalm 142:5

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

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, just as we are" 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 to Christ our infirmities — and He will graciously receive us.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

We are not put in this world to have a pleasant and easy time!

"Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him: Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You! But He turned and told Peter: Get behind Me, Satan!" Matthew 16:22-23

It was Peter's love for Christ which made him so rebel at the thought of such a dire fate for Him. In his love — he sought to hold the Master back from so throwing away His life. But in doing this, he was acting the part of Satan in seeking to tempt Jesus away from His great work of atonement. This way of the cross was not an accident; it was the way marked out for Christ; to swerve from it, would be to fail in His mission.

Our best friends may become our tempters in the same way. In their love for us — they may seek to keep us from entering paths of duty which will lead us to great sacrifice. Mothers may seek to restrain their children from going to foreign mission fields. Any of us, in the warmth of our affection for our friends, 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 any 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.

We all need to guard, too, against the counsels of friends who would restrain us from costly or perilous service. In matters of duty — we must know only one guide, and follow the call of only one voice.

We are not put in this world to have a pleasant and easy time!
 We are not put here to consult our own inclinations at all. We are here — to go where Christ leads; to follow Him to sacrifice and to death — if He leads us in these paths. We dare not allow ourselves to be turned aside by any tenderness of human love. It is the way of duty, however hard, that takes us home to Heavenly glory!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The cause of discontent is not in men's circumstances

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances!" Philippians 4:11 

It is not half so much our circumstances in life which we need to have changed — as the attitude of our minds and hearts. 
The cause of discontent is not in men's circumstances — but in their own spirit and temper. Get the song into your heart — and you will hear songs all around you. Even the wailing storm will but make music for you. Get the peace of God deep into your own life — and you will find peace in your every circumstance!

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want!" Philippians 4:12

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Close to His warm, beating heart!

"No man ever spoke like this Man!" John 7:46

The words of Christ still have the same power. 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 thorns grew before. 

If you lean upon a promise of Christ, you will find in your hand an all-conquering word, before which all foes will fly. If you are weary, or in sorrow, and pillow your head on one of these precious promises — you will find that you are lying on your Father's bosom,
 close to His warm, beating heart. The world's richest treasures today, are the words of Christ!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

We may choke back the angry word that flies to our lips

"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

There are times when silence is golden, when words mean defeat, and when victory can be gained only by answering not a word. 

Many of the painful quarrels and much of the bitterness of what we call so often "incompatibility of temper" would never be known — if we would learn to keep silence when others wrong us. 
We may choke back the angry word that flies to our lips. The insult unanswered, will recoil upon itself and be its own destruction.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love!" Ephesians 4:2

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

It is not easy to become a godly man — a Christly man

It always costs unsparing toil to carve the beauty God which shows us, as an ideal for our life. It costs self-discipline, anguish often — as we must deny ourselves and cut off the things we love. Self must be crucified — if the noble manhood in us is ever to be set free to shine in its beauty. 

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

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life

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

A life lived for God is never useless or lost. The lowliest Christian service writes its history and leaves its impression somewhere. 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!

"Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master!" Matthew 25:21

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

We all want to have beautiful endings to our lives

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 this, 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

It is more blessed to give than to receive

"Lord, behold, here is your pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin!" Luke 19:20 

God does not like to bestow His blessings where they will be hoarded or selfishly accumulated. 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 that to him that has, shall be given; 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The one-talented man

"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' 
"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant!" Matthew 25:24-26 

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 that the sequel to his story flashes upon us, should arouse us to read the meaning of personal responsibility, and to hasten to employ every shred of a gift that God has bestowed upon us!

"Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Matthew 25:26, 30

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The old monks

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship." 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 the kind of service Christ wanted. But they were only wasting . . .
  in idle reverie,
  in useless sacrifice, 
  in unavailing suffering, 
  and in hideous self-torture — 
the 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 abilities, 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."

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Sculpture His sweet beauty

Into a prisoner's cell, a few rays of sunlight came each day for 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 in the stone he had cut the image of the Christ upon His cross. 

Just so, in the dark days of sorrow that 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!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

It is no sin to smile

"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 cheerfulness. 
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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

What a wondrous sphere of usefulness is thus opened to every one of us!

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart!" Proverbs 15:30 

There is an unconscious ministry . . .
  in our manner of greeting and handshaking,
  in our most casual conversation, 
  in the very expression we wear on our faces as we move along the street,
  in our gentle sympathy that adds such a thrill of strength to fainting weariness.

To meet some people on the side-walk and have their cheery "Good morning!" makes one happier all day. To encounter others, is as dispiriting 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!

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

As I have loved you

"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 

Before we can be in the place of Christ to sorrowing, suffering, and struggling ones — we must have the love of Christ in our hearts. When Paul said, "The love of Christ constrains me," he meant that he had the very love of Christ in him — 
  the love that loved even the most unlovely, 
  the love that helped even the most unworthy, 
  the love that 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 spirit of our loving Redeemer.

"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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

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

Only the most simple-hearted definiteness in prayer will meet the need. We must bring the very perplexity itself, and put it out of our hands into Gods, 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.

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

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need!" Hebrews 4:16

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

An unseen and mighty Helper!

"He led them forth by the right way." Psalm 107:7 

God always opens the way of duty for us, if we quietly move on. This applies to those beginning a Christian life. They say, "I never can be faithful. I never can do the duties. I never can bear the burdens!" But as they enter and go on, they find that 
an unseen and mighty Helper goes on before and prepares the way. Walls of stoneseem built across the path which we are required to walk over. But as we go on, the commandment is easy, and a gateway is opened in the wall. 

The practical lesson is, that we are never to hesitate nor shrink back because obstacles seem to lie before us; we are to go right on, and God will take them away for us. When He wants us to go anywhere — He will open the path for our feet. Knowing this, we may go on, feeling confident of our own safety.

"You will show me the path of life!" Psalm 16:11 

"Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain and even path!" Psalm 27:11

"Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it!" Psalm 119:35 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Death has no bitterness for the Christian

"Our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" 2 Timothy 1:10 

It is profitable for us to contrast the death of Christ, with that of His disciples in all ages since. He shrank from the "cup" — they are eager to drink it. He seemed forsaken of God — they look with ecstasy and unclouded vision into the Father's face.
Death has no bitterness for the Christian — because it was so bitter to the Redeemer. He drew the curse from it — and now it has in it only the sweetness of blessing! 

Indeed, there is no longer any death for the Christian. Jesus abolished death. What we now call death is death no longer, since He passed through it. It is now only the shadow of death, and even the shadow is lighted up with the beams of Divine glory bursting from Heaven. Let us never forget that death is now our chief blessing, because Jesus drained our cup of wrath!

"For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory!' Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" 1 Corinthians 15:53-57

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

When Christ is silent to our prayers

"And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying: 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed!' But He answered her not a word." Matthew 15:22-23 

Our Lord sometimes seems to be silent to His people when they cry to Him for help. To all their earnest supplication, He answers not a word. Is His silence a refusal? By no means. Often, 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 and said to her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire!' And her daughter was healed from that very hour!" Matthew 15:28

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

No being in the universe can compel us to do wrong!

"Pilate sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying: I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!" 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 which was brought to bear upon him by the enemies of Jesus. 

In the same manner, 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Abide in Me

"
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing!" John 15:4-5 

If we were truly to desire Christ to abide always with us, He would never go away. What a life of blessing and joy we would live — if He were indeed always with us! Unbroken communion with Him, would hold Heaven close about us all the while — and thus these sordid earthly lives of ours would be permeated and struck through with the sweetness and fragrance of holiness, and transformed into the likeness of Christ Himself! Then all life's experiences would be transfigured. Joy would be purer, and even sorrow would be illumined. All through life this should be our continual prayer; then in death our earthly communion with Jesus, shall brighten into heavenly glory with Him!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Seeds of Christian 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 so 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 Christian 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

God has two axes!

"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. Any moment the tree may be cut down.

The axe lying at the tree's root unused, tells of patience in the gardener; he is waiting to see if the fruitless tree will yet bear fruit.

The axe leaning quietly against the tree is very suggestive. The meaning is very plain. God waits long for impenitent sinners to return to Him; He is slow to punish or to cut off the day of opportunity; He desires all to repent and be saved. Yet we must not trifle with Divine patience and forbearance. We must remember that while the axe is not lifted to strike, still there is not a moment when it is not lying close, ready to be used; when the summons may not come, "Hasten to judgment!"

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.

The lying of the axe at the root, suggests that its use is not pruning — but cutting down. 
God has two axes. One He uses in pruning His trees, removing the fruitless branches, and cleansing the fruitful branches that they 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 — that feels its keen edge.

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.

All of life is 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 that will end forever the day of mercy! Only the supremest folly can be blind to duty in such a case!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

We like to think there is no sin in mere 'not doing'

Love always gives. If it will not give — then 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 need, is as great a sin as to break one of the commandments of the Decalogue. 

We like to think 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 they ought to have done. They have simply not fed the hungry, nor clothed the naked, nor visited the sick, nor blessed the prisoner.

"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' 
Then they will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' 
Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these — you did not do it to Me.' 
And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life!" Matthew 25:41-46

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

There is no one in Heaven taking care of us

Some people laugh at the simple faith of childlike believers in God, and say that it is all imagination — that 
there is no one in Heaven taking care of us. But we need not be worried by such foolish talk. 

There is a God in Heaven, and He is our Father! He never sleeps. He has charge of all the affairs of this universe, and is always at the helm. This should give us all confidence. 

Our whole duty is to be ready always to obey our heavenly Father. The place of duty is always the place of safety.

"The fool has said in his heart: There is no God." Psalm 14:1 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Do unto others

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 courtesy,
  the gentle kindness of the home circle,
  the patient treatment of neighbors,
  the thoughtful showing of interest in the elderly 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 unto others, as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

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The heart-motto in every public profession

It always a solemn hour when anyone stands before God and men to make a public profession of Christ, and to enter His service. 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 below is the motto, "Ready for either!" — 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, 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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When earth's wine runs out!

"When the wine ran out, Jesus' mother said to Him: They have no more wine." John 2:3

This incident is a very fitting illustration of the failure of all this world's joys. The wine ran out at a wedding-feast. There was not enough of it to last through to the end of the feast.

It is just so with all earth's pleasures. It comes in cups — not in fountains; and the supply is limited — and soon exhausted.

It is especially so with sin's pleasures. The prodigal son soon ran out of money, and began to be in need. A poet compared the pleasures of sin to a snowflake on the river, "a moment white — then gone forever!"

But it is true in a sense also — of pure earthly pleasures. Even the sweetness of human love is but a cupful, which will not last forever. The joy which so fills us today — tomorrow is changed to sorrow. Amid the gladness of the marriage altar — there is the knell of the end, in the words "until death do us part." One of every two friends must hold the other's hand in farewell at the edge of the valley of the shadow of death — and must stand by the other's grave, and walk alone for part of the way. The best wine of earthly life and of love — will fail. If there were nothing better in this world — how sad it would be!

But it is here that we see the glory of Christ's gospel. When earth's wine fails — Jesus comes, and gives Heaven's wine to supply the lack. How beautiful and how true is the picture here: the failing wine — and then Jesus coming with power and supplying the need! That is what He is doing continually. He takes lives which have drained their last drop of earthly gladness — and He satisfies them with spiritual good and blessing, so that they need nothing more.

When human joy fails — Jesus gives new joy, better than the world's, and in unfailing abundance! How sad it is for those who have not taken Christ into their lives, and who have nothing but the empty cup — 
when earth's wine runs out!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Giving perpetually love's richest gifts

"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

It is God's will that we should love others; 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, unserved, unrecognized, and unhelped. We are apt to pity such people; but may it not be that 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?

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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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The aim of the Divine helpfulness 

"I will strengthen you and help you." Isaiah 41:10 

The aim of the Divine helpfulness is not to make things easy for us — but to make something of us! 

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 poorest 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. 

"Judas and Silas . . . said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers!" Acts 15:32

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The flowers are growing, to scatter around their coffins

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 around 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 dead; but why should they not be spoken now, when they are needed so much, and when their accents would be so pleasing and grateful?

"The lips of the righteous know what is fitting" Proverbs 10:32 

"The tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18 

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

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones!" Proverbs 16:24 

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He was moved with compassion for them

"When He saw the multitudes, 
He was moved with compassion for them." Matthew 9:36 

We shall be prepared to seek the good of others in the largest, truest way — only when we have learned to look upon human lives as our Lord did. There was not a poor ruined creature that came into His presence under all the wasting of sin, whom He refused to minister unto. 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.

"I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you!" John 13:15

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When we must creep out of the bosom of human affection

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me!" Psalm 23:4 

The loneliest of all human experiences, is that of dying. Human love cannot go beyond the edge of the valley. 

But we need not be alone even in that deepest of all loneliness, for if we are Christ's we can say, "Yet I am not alone, because my Savior is with me!" When the human hands unclasp our hands — He will clasp them the more firmly. When beloved human faces fade out — His 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 desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" Philippians 1:23 

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The debasing influence of such a companionship

"A righteous man is cautious in friendship" Proverbs 12:26

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

We do not know what we are letting into our life when we take into companionship, even for one hour — one who is not good, not pure, not true. We cannot estimate
the debasing influence of such a companionship when continued until it becomes intimacy; 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.

"Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared!" Proverbs 22:24-25 

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Christian tact

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18 

Christian tact is wise and loving thoughtfulness. It is that charity which is wisely gentle to all, which bears all things, which seeks not her own, which thinks no evil. It has an instinctive desire to avoid giving pain. It seeks to please all men for their good.

It knows very well, that the surest way alienate others, is to antagonize them and excite their opposition and enmity. Therefore, as far as possible, it avoids all direct attack upon the life and opinions of others. It shows respect for the views of those who differ in sentiment or belief.

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The alabaster box of our heart's deepest love!

"They opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." Matthew 2:11 

It is not enough for us . . . 
  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. When there is call for gifts of sacrifice, or for real service — their consecration  instantly vanishes. People sing consecration hymns with great warmth — but when the collection box comes to them, they have no gifts to offer. The Wise Men not only brought presents — 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. 

    Take my life and let it be
    Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
    Take my moments and my days,
    Let them flow in endless praise.

    Take my hands and let them move
    At the impulse of Thy love.
    Take my feet and let them be
    Swift and beautiful for Thee.

    Take my voice and let me sing,
    Always, only for my King.
    Take my lips and let them be
    Filled with messages from Thee.

    Take my silver and my gold,
    Not a mite would I withhold.
    Take my intellect and use
    Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

    Take my will and make it Thine,
    It shall be no longer mine.
    Take my heart, it is Thine own,
    It shall be Thy royal throne.

    Take my love, my Lord, I pour
    At Thy feet its treasure store.
    Take myself and I will be
    Ever, only, all for Thee!

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Life comes to us in such little bits!

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

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

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

"Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age!" Matthew 28:20

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The family altar 

Hearts that are drawn together at God's feet every day, cannot get very far apart. The frictions of the day are forgotten — when all voices mingle in the same heavenly song. As the tender words of inspiration fall with their kind counsels — all feeling of unkindness melts away. 

The family altar wondrously hallows and sweetens the home fellowship. Besides, it puts new strength into every heart. 
It comforts sorrow.
It is a shield against temptation. 
It smooths out the wrinkles of care. 
It inspires strength for burden-bearing. 
It quickens every religious sentiment, and keeps the fires burning on every heart's altar.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

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 to 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 that lies fully in the light — we carry the light forward too, and it then shows us another step — that is, we learn to know the road by walking in it. If we will not take the one step that is made clear — then we cannot know the part of the way that is hidden in the shadow.

"You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory!" Psalm 73:24

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Life is conflict!

"Fight the good fight!" 1 Timothy 6:12

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 spiritual beauty and nobleness of character, except through long and sore struggle.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

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 clear of it. 

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 — and a more Christly character.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

This fellow began to build — and was not able to finish

"
This fellow began to build — and was not able to finish." Luke 14:30 

Sin in some form, draws many a builder away from his work to leave it unfinished.

It may be the world's fascinations that lure him from Christ's side. 

It may be sinful companions that lure him from loyal friendship to his Savior. 

It may be riches that enter his heart, and blind his eyes to the attractions of Heaven. 

It may be some secret debasing lust that 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 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.

"And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me, cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:27 

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Plank-eye!

"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 of 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 piercing 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.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 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 7:3-5

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The real goal of Christian living

In the presence of a great painting, a young artist said to Mr. Ruskin, "Ah! if I could put such a dream on canvas." 

"Dream on canvas?" growled Ruskin. "It will take ten thousand touches of the brush on the canvas to make your dream!" 

It is easier far to put the artist's dreams on canvas, than to put upon our human lives, the beautiful visions of Christ-likeness which we find on the gospel pages. Yet that is 
the real goal of Christian living. And, though hard, it is not impossible. If we but toiled and tried and wrought, in our efforts to get our visions of character translated into reality — we would all be very noble. Never yet, indeed, was ideal too fair to be realized at last, through the help of Christ. The heavenly visions God gives us are prophecies of what we may become, what we are born to become.

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

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We shall write many a crooked line and leave many a blotted page

Many a night we shall retire to weep at Christ's feet, over the day's failures. In our efforts to follow the perfect 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 keep through all a brave heart, an unfaltering purpose, and a calm, joyful confidence in God. Temporary defeat should only cause us to lean on Christ more fully. He will assist everyone who is loyally struggling to do the Divine will, and to grow into Christlikeness. And that means assured victory to everyone who perseveres.

"The one who endures to the end will be saved!" Matthew 10:22 

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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 is lighter and more easily carried than our own.

"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 want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:11-13

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

There is a hidden part in every Christian's life!

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 health and 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: faith, love, communion with God in His Word and in prayer. No one praises a Christian's inner heart-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.

"Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance, for out of it flow the springs of life!" Proverbs 4:23 

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Faithful in little things

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things!" Matthew 25:23 

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.

"Well done, my good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little matter, take charge of ten cities!" Luke 19:17

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Unavailing sorrow and regret

"Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry" Ephesians 4:26 

So uncertain is life, and so manifold are the vicissitudes of human experience, that any departing may be forever. We are never sure of an opportunity to unsay the angry word, or draw out the thorn we left rankling in another's heart. The kindness which we felt prompted to do today, but neglected or deferred — we may never be able to perform. 

The only way, therefore, to save ourselves from 
unavailing sorrow and regret, is to let love always rule in our hearts and control our speech. If we should in a thoughtless moment speak unadvisedly, giving pain to another heart — let reparation be made upon the spot. The sun should never go down upon our anger. We should never leave anything overnight, which we would not be willing to leave finally and forever just in that shape, and which we would blush to meet again in the great disclosure.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

We must report to Jesus all that we say, or do, or fail to do

"The apostles gathered around Jesus, and reported to Him all they had done and taught." Mark 6:30 

Often we are like the disciples who had toiled all the night, and caught nothing. At many a setting sun we come, weary and sad, with empty hands. Then sometimes we are tempted to stay away from the Master and make no report. What have we to report? Nothing but a fruitless day. But we should not therefore stay away from Him who sent us forth. 

Jesus had days in His own life that seemed fruitless, and He can understand our sadness when we come home with no sheaves. So let us tell Him all. 

That is the kind of evening secret prayer that will bless us. It will make us very watchful all day, if we remember that 
we must report to Jesus all that we say, or do, or fail to do; it will keep us in more intimate relations with Him. Then, His sympathy will strengthen us for better service each day.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Our soul's sustenance

"I am the bread of life." John 6:48 

"I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever!" John 6:51 

It is not enough that Christ gave Himself on the cross for sinners, and now holds out in pierced hands the blessings of redemption. These stupendous acts of love and grace alone will not save us. We must reach out our hands and accept and take what Christ so graciously and lovingly offers to us. 

Then, since bread us must be eaten to nourish, we must receive Christ into our life as
our soul's sustenance, feeding daily upon Him.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Don't you know Me?

"Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.' 
Jesus answered: '
Don't you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?'" John 14:8-9 

It is possible to be with Christ a long time, and to know very much about Him, without knowing Him in the true sense of the word. 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, to know Him only as a man, 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Life is too short

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 that is not easily provoked, that 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 improper 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.

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

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We do wrong to those around us

We are too stingy of our heart's gifts. God has given us His love, that with it we may make life sweeter, better, easier, truer, more victorious, for others. 
We do wrong to those around 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.

God has put it in our power to help each other in many ways: 
sometimes by deeds that lift away burdens, 
sometimes by words that inspire courage and strength, 
sometimes by sympathy that halves sorrow. 
Yet there is no other way in which we can serve others so wisely, so effectively, so divinely — as by prayer for them.

Our hands are clumsy and awkward, and often 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The birds teach us a lesson

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

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 birds' home — he looked up and there he saw them building a new nest amid the branches. 

The birds teach us 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 future life new.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

He cannot be hidden

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. 

In the same way, the sweetness of the Savior's life and love will always manifest itself 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 — 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 presence in this world.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Divine keeping

"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand!" John 10:27-29 

We cannot keep ourselves. A strong One, the mighty God, holds us in His divine 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!

"My help comes from the LORD, Who made Heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. The LORD is your keeper. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore!" Psalm 121

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The world crowns "success"

"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 

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; 
  we serve well in the varied relationships of life; 
  we stand heroically in our lot, resisting temptation and continuing true and loyal to God; 
  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."

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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 the Christ on His cross which hung upon their cell wall — the marks of His wounds would appear in them — the print of the nails in the hands and feet, the scar of the spear-gash in the side. 

This is but a gross representation of the spiritual truth which lies under it — that beholding Christ 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, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18 

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The trouble which touches 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 get food. A sudden and violent storm came up, 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. 

In the same way, those whom trouble drives to Christ, also find both shelter from the storm and food to meet their cravings.

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When our feet are tired after the day's tasks and journeys

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 other people do not understand them, do not sympathize with them. 

Others 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.

"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

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Temptation to sin, is not itself sin

There may be temptation to evil which does not defile, unless it is allowed to shape itself in thoughts, words, or deeds. The suggestion of wrong-doing is not a sin — until the suggestion is accepted and entertained. 
Temptation to sin, is not itself sin. 

Jesus was tempted. Suggestions of evil were made to Him by Satan; yet He never sinned, because these suggestions never found any lodgment in His heart, and therefore never found any expression in word or act, or even in thought. 

Temptations come to us from without. These things we cannot help; we are not responsible for them; there is no sin in merely having these suggestions. But the sin defiles the moment we open the door to one of these sinful solicitations. 

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

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The scars tell of toil and battle

We may go through life and keep our hands very white, unroughened, unwounded — yet at the end we may find that they have wrought nothing, and won nothing. 

When an army comes home from victorious war, it is not the regiment with the full ranks of unscarred men that the people cheer most loudly — but the regiment with only a remnant of soldiers, and these bearing the marks of many a battle. 

In the same way, hands scarred from conflict with life's enemies are more beautiful when held up before God, than hands white and unwounded and covered with flashing jewels — because 
the scars tell of toil and battle.

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Broken fragments of the full Divine beauty

The highest reaches 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 Durer, was a painting showing Christ on His cross. It was all complete, except the face of the Divine Sufferer, when the artist was summoned away by death. 

In the same way, 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 leave but a fragment of His matchless beauty. The glory of that blessed Face, we cannot reproduce. But when we go away from our little fragment of transfiguration — we shall look a moment afterward, at His Divine features — and, seeing Jesus as He is, we shall be like Him!

"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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A fruitful Christian life

"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." John 15:8

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 that 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.

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The way to spiritual health

We are not put into this world for idle ease, but for most earnest ministry work. They misunderstood the meaning of Christian life, who in olden days fled away to the deserts and dwelt in huts and caves and lonely cells, far from the noise and strife of the world. And they misread the Divine writing also, who think in these days to serve Christ only in prayer and devotion, while they go not out to toil for Him.

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 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 at last into fullest joy — but by living lives of devotion to duty.

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One of the first results of 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 relations. 

It makes a man a kinder neighbor, a more thoughtful husband, a gentler father. 

A Christian girl whose religion does not at 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.

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Christian peace

"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 

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 learned by the changing of life's 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. This would be paying too great a price even for peace. 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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Even the physical features share in the transfiguration

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 life softens the features, and gives them a warmth like the gentle beauty of spring flowers. 

Peace 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. 

Purity 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.

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. 

"A joyful heart makes a cheerful face. But a broken heart crushes the spirit!" Proverbs 15:13 

"The cheerful of 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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The law of Divine guidance

"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, 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.

Our daily prayer should be, "Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me." Psalm 119:133

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There are times when we should stop praying

There is in the Bible an instance of God forbidding prayer, and commanding action instead. At the edge of the Red Sea he said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward!" Exodus 14:15. 
There are times when we should stop praying, get up from our knees, and hasten out to duty.

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Broken strings and jangled chords

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

There is only One who can take our lives, with all their blemishes, faults and sins — their 
broken strings and jangled chords — and bring from them the music of love, joy, and peace. 

It is related that once Mendelssohn came to see the great Freiburg organ. The old custodian, not knowing who his visitor was, refused him permission to play upon the instrument. At length, however, after much persuasion, he granted him permission to play a few notes. Mendelssohn took his seat, and soon the most wonderful music was breaking forth from the organ. 

The old man was spellbound. At length he came up beside the great master and asked his name. Learning it, he stood humiliated and self-condemned, saying, "And I refused you permission to play upon my organ!"

In the same way, there comes One to us and desires to take our broken life and play upon it. If we would but yield ourselves to Him, He would bring from our souls heavenly music!

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The most beautiful thing we can do with our life

If we cannot do the beautiful things we see others doing for Christ, and which we long to do — 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 which 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 often He can do more with our failures, than with our successes.

The highest place to which anyone can attain in life, is that for which God has designed and made them for, 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 be great, or 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.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2 

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The exercise our 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 in us lead to no danger — but which to others with less stable character and less helpful 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 in upon them. We may not do anything our liberty, which might possibly harm others. We must be willing to forego 
the exercise our liberty, if by its exercise we  another's soul. 

This is the teaching of Paul in the words:
 
"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:13-14 

"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

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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. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world!" Psalm 19:1-4 

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. 
It 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, 
in the shelter and protection of every dark night. 

Yet how few of us see this glory. 
We walk amid the divine splendors, and 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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The final verdict!

"Then the King will say to those on His right: Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation 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; 
I needed clothes and you clothed Me; 
I was sick and you looked after Me; 
I was in prison and you came to visit Me." Matthew 25:34-36 

Life is measured by its final and permanent results — not by the place a man occupies before the public. 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 final judgement, that those who have labored silently, and without clamor or fame, have in many cases achieved the most glorious permanent results.

"The King will reply: I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me!" Matthew 25:40 

"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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We are always the only one

"Each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that." 1 Corinthians 7:7 

We are always the only one
 Christ has at the particular place at which we stand. There may be thousands of other lives about 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 do his work, and do it perfectly — my work waits for me, and, if I do it not, it will never be done.

"Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it." Colossians 4:17 

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Our "thorn"

"There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." 2 Corinthians 12:7 

Our "thorn" may either be a blessing to us, or it may do us irreparable harm — which, depends upon ourselves. 
If we allow it to fret us; 
if we chafe, resist, and complain; 
if we lose faith and lose heart — 
it will spoil our life. But if we accept it in 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 — it will work good, and out of its bitterness will come sweet fruit. 

The responsibility is ours, and we should so relate ourselves to our "thorn" and to Christ — that growth and good, not harm and marring, shall come to us from it. Such weakness is blessed only if we get the victory over it through faith in Christ.

"But He said to me: 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me!" 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Sweet submission

There is a wonderful secret in 
sweet submission — in simply giving up to things which we cannot change, and not 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 out of difficult circumstances, the bitterness, the hardness, the power to hurt us — and makes them serve us and do us good.

"Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done." Luke 22:42

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All of life's important lessons are slowly learned

All of life's important 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; 
  our harsh, chattering tongues — into sweet, quiet speech. 

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

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On and on the plant goes

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.

"Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." John 4:13-14

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Plank-eye

If we are quick to perceive blemishes and faults in others, the probability is that we have far greater blemishes and faults in ourselves. This truth ought to make us exceedingly careful in our judgments, and exceedingly modest in our expressions of censure — for we are really telling the world our own faults! It is wiser, as well as more in accordance with the spirit of Christ, for us to find lovely things in others, and to be silent regarding their faults.

Nagging is not a means of grace
. There is a "more excellent way," the way of love. It is better, when we wish to correct faults in others — to be careful to let them see in us, in strong contrast, the virtue, the excellence — opposite to the defect we see in them. It is the habit of a certain good man, if one of his family or friends mispronounces a word in his hearing, never pedantically to correct the error — but at some early opportunity to find occasion to use the same word, giving it the correct pronunciation. Something like this is wise in helping others out of their faults of character or conduct.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 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 7:3-5

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This life is so full of peril

"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 

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 blessing from God; 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 a gift from God, 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 stumble.

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He takes the poorest materials

It would not be hard to take an angel and  train him into a glorious messenger; but to take such a man as Peter, or as Paul, or as John Newton, or as John Bunyan, and make out of him a holy saint or a mighty apostle — that is the manifestation of divine power. 

Yet that is what Christ did, and has been doing ever since. 
He takes the poorest materials — despised, worthless, and outcast men — and when He has finished His gracious work, we behold a saint whiter than snow!

The sculptor beheld an angel in the rough, blackened stone which was rejected and thrown away. 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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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 in another light, the same picture shows a saint 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 God sees.

"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 

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

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Lenses!

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 a harvest of righteousness and peace.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. 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 12:10-11

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As the lily remains pure and unstained amid the soiled waters of the bog

"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 Divine Spirit — we shall be kept by Divine power from the corruption which flows around us. 
As the lily remains pure and unstained amid the soiled 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 blessing. 

The vision 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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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 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; or some strange and sweet surprise of love that is waiting for us. We must 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. 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 12:10-11 

"Behold, I have refined you, but not with silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction!" Isaiah 48:10 

The furnace fires of sickness burn off many a bond 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 apart 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 sacred places to us, as we remember that God has summoned us there for some special work upon our souls.

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

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

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them!" Romans 8:28

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Circumstances did not affect him

We should seek to have our life so trained, so disciplined, that no sudden change of circumstances shall ever stop its music; that if we are carried out of our summer of joy today into a winter of grief tomorrow, the song shall still go on — the song of faith, love, and peace. 

Paul had learned this when he could say, "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 want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:11-13 

Circumstances did not affect him, for the source of his peace and joy was in Christ.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

It is not hard to be a handmaid of Christ

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me!" Matthew 25:40 

When Jesus was on the earth as a man, some women left their homes and went with Him, ministering to Him. It is probable that they made garments for Him, prepared food for His meals, and did every little personal kindness they could. That was a very sweet privilege. No doubt, if He were here now, many noble young girls and women would do the same. 

He is not here in human form; but He has told us that if we do these same kindnesses even to the least and lowliest of His friends who are in need — it is the same as if we did them to Himself. So 
it is not hard to be a handmaid of Christ.

"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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Every true Christian life is beautiful

Every true Christian life is beautiful — so far as it fairly and truly represents Christ. Anything in religion that is not beautiful, is not a just or adequate expression of Christ. 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 that is unlovely in any case — but the human interpretation of it in disposition and conduct.

"Whoever says he abides in Him, ought to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself." 1 John 2:6 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

God makes no mistakes in planting His people

"Each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him, and to which God has called him." 1 Corinthians 7:17 

God makes no mistakes in planting His people
 in this world. He does not put any of us in a spiritual climate in which we cannot grow into beauty and strength; and, wherever He plants us, He sends the streams of grace to refresh us. So, whatever our circumstances may be, it is possible for us to live a godly life. 

The darker the night of sin about us — the clearer and steadier should be the light that streams from our life and conduct. Anyone should be able to live well in the midst of friendly influences and favoring circumstances; but it is doubly important that we be loyal and true to Christ, when in adverse and afflictive circumstances.

"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 want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:11-13

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

A great workshop in which to make godly men

(
J.R. Miller, "Young People's Problems" 1898)

This world is not a place merely to live in, nor a place in which to do certain kinds of business; it is
 a great workshop in which to make godly men.

It is not easy for us to be holy and to grow into beautiful life and noble character. It is not hard to take a lump of clay, and shape it into any form we desire. It is fairly easy to take a piece of soft wood, and carve it into a figure of beauty. It is harder to cut a block of marble into a form of loveliness, for the stone is hard. But it is harder still to take a block of marred and sinful humanity, and make it into a godly man, bearing the divine image. Yet that is what God is doing with every Christian who lies in his hands.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

A time to keep silence

"There is a time to keep silence" Ecclesiastes 3:7

We get from our Master the lesson of silence under injury or wrong. That is what meekness is — not answering back, not contending for one's rights, not striving against injustice, not resisting insult — but quietly submitting and enduring. Over and over we see Jesus bearing reproaches and injuries in sweet silence. He kept silent about Judas, while the treason was ripening. He was silent on his trial — reviled, but not reviling in return. On his cross he spoke no word of bitterness or of complaint. While the nails were being driven into his hands and feet, his only word was a prayer for those who were causing him such anguish.

It is hard to keep quiet when others say bitter or false things to us, or about us, or when we are suffering wrongfully. But silence is always better than words in such experiences. If we speak at all, when smarting under a sense of personal injury — we are almost sure to say words we would better not have said. Anger is a kind of temporary insanity. A furious man is a madman. We pity the dumb — but dumbness is safer and better than ungoverned speech which works havoc all about.

Surely it is "a time to keep silence", when we are under the pressure of any sense of wrong or injustice, for if we speak then our words will have a sting in them, and an hour later we shall be sure to regret that we spoke at all.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The church which comes nearest to the Master's ideal

In the great central truths of the gospel, all evangelical churches are agreed. Let us not waste a moment's time, or a breath of energy, in strife with other believers. Let us rather unite all our energies in doing good, by honoring Christ, by telling the story of His redeeming love to all men, and by carrying the joy and cheer of the gospel everywhere. The church which shows the world the most love, and which lives the most sweetly, the most joyously, and the most helpfully — is 
the church which comes nearest to the Master's ideal. That is the sort of church that every Christian should strive to make his church to be.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The stone was a diamond!

One of the great diamond fields in South Africa was discovered in this interesting way: One day a traveler entered the valley, and paused before a settler's door where a boy was amusing himself by throwing stones. One of the stones fell at the feet of the visitor; and he picked it up, and was about to return it to the boy when he saw a flash of light from it which arrested his attention, and made his heart beat with eager surprise. 
The stone was a diamond! The boy had no thought of its value; to him it was only a plaything. But to the eye of the man of knowledge, a gem of surprising value was unfolded in the rough covering. 

So it is that many of the events of Divine Providence appear to ordinary eyes as uninteresting, without meaning, ofttimes as even unkindly, adverse. Yet in each event, there is wrapped up a divine treasure of good and blessing for the child of God! We need only eyes of Christian faith to find in every painful experience, a helper to our spiritual lives. Precious gems of rarest blessing are enclosed in the rough crusts of hardship, care, loss, and trial, which we are constantly coming upon in our life's way. We shall find when we get to our Heavenly home, that many of the things from which we have shrunk as evils, have been the bearers to us of our richest treasures of good!

"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 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Out of earthliness and sinfulness, into purer and Christlier being

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5 

All base desires, all bad habits, all longings for ignoble things, that we vanquish and trample down — become ladder-rungs on which we climb upward 
out of earthliness and sinfulness, into purer and Christlier being. There really is no other way by which we can rise upward. If we are not living victoriously these 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.

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

A means of grace

Even the faults and the infirmities of those with whom we come in contact, may become to us 
a means of grace. It is harder to live with disagreeable people, than with those who are congenial — but the very hardness may become discipline to us and help to develop in us the grace of patience. 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

His richest blessings

God is continually blessing us by not allowing us 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 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 
his richest blessings. God knows that the success of his plans would be fatal to the higher interests of his spiritual life.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The only friendship that can really meet all our soul's deep needs and craving

Even with sympathetic companionships all about us, there is an inner life which each one of us lives altogether alone. We must . . .
  make our own choices and decisions,
  meet our own questions and answer them ourselves,
  fight our own battles,
  endure our own sorrows,
  carry our own burdens. 
Friendship may be very close and tender — but there is a sanctuary of each life into which even the holiest friendship may not enter.

Blessed are they who in this aloneness can say, "Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me!" God's is 
the only friendship that can really meet all our soul's deep needs and cravings.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

There are always other rungs of the ladder to climb

Every step of the heavenly way is uphill — and steep at that. Heaven 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 other rungs of the ladder to climb. The noblest life ever lived on earth, but began here its growth and attainment.

Mozart, just before his death, said, "Now I begin to see what might be done in music." That is all 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.

"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 3:13-14

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Much of our work must be done in simple faith

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, and 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 work on human lives may be seen . . . 
  in the conversation of the ungodly,
  in the comforting of sorrow, or
  in the uplifting and ennobling of the degraded.
And yet 
much of our 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 those we considered in vain.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

In Christian life the same law holds

Christ Himself first had humiliation, darkness, and the shame of the cross — and then exaltation, power, and 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. 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Those who sow in tears

"
Those who sow in tears — shall reap in joy!" Psalm 126:5 

The sowing is often 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. 

So it will 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

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 way and in their 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!" John 4:13 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The Gate of Death!

If we are true believers in Christ, 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 mountainside, 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 around, he saw above the gate he had entered, the words "The Gate of Life!" 

If we are in Christ, death is abolished, and the point which earth calls 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Whose prints are these? 

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, 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Since he has no root

"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 that 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Our mission in the world

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.

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us." Ephesians 4:32, 5:1-2

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The times of preparation

The times of preparation come silently and unawares; and many neglect them, not knowing what depends upon them; but neglected, and allowed to slip away — they can never be regained.

The man who finds himself in the presence of a great duty or opportunity which he cannot take up or accept because he is not prepared for it — cannot then go back to make the needful preparation. The soldier cannot learn the art of war in the face of the battle. The Christian cannot, in an unexpected emergency of temptation, gather in a moment all needed spiritual power. Not to be ready in advance for great duties or great needs, is to fail.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The heart of consecration

"I delight to do Your will, O my God!" Psalm 40:8

The heart of consecration, is not devotion to this or that kind of service for Christ — it is devotion to all of the Divine will as revealed in His Word. 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The best way for us to get good things to our friends

The good wishes of friends do not, by their mere utterance, become realities in our lives; if they did, how rich most of us would be, and how happy! 

Good wishes, however, may be made to come true; they may be turned into prayers by those who make them, and, passing through the hands of Christ, may be changed from mere empty breath — into blessings that shall enrich our lives, or feed our souls, or shine like sparkling gems upon our brows. 

The best way for us to get good things to our friends — is to pass them through Christ's hands.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Waiting is harder than working

Restlessness is not beautiful. Peace is a high attainment. Thus quietness indicates a rich Christian culture. 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 that runs noiselessly; the little machine fusses and splutters. Quietness in a man or a woman is a mark of strength.

"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

An acorn costs nothing

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Consecration must first be a spirit in us — a spirit of love, a life in our hearts which shall flow out to everyone, in desire to bless and help and make holier. 

Thackeray tells of one who kept his pocket full of acorns, and whenever he saw a vacant place in his estate he took out one and planted it. "
An acorn costs nothing— but it may sprout into a prodigious bit of timber." In like manner, he exhorts his readers to speak out kind words as they go through life, never losing a chance of saying one. To such a life, true consecration prompts and inspires. It takes lowliness of mind in many of us to accept such humble service.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Only 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. 

In the same way, other men touch our lives and draw from them only jangled notes. Christ takes them, and when He has put the chords in tune, He brings from them the music of love and joy and peace!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

These lustreless or stained lives!

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. 

In the same way, there are human lives everywhere around us that are rich in their possibilities of beauty and usefulness. 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. And you and I must be the hand of Christ to
these lustreless or stained lives!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Our best friends are not those who make life easy for us

Our best friends are not those who make life easy for us — our best friends are those who put courage, strength, and resolution into our hearts. There are thousands of lives dwarfed and hurt irreparably by pampering. Parents often, in the very warmth and eagerness of their love, do great 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

An invalid or a suffering one in the house

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. Such loving helps in sanctifying our souls. 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness

Do not keep the 
alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak uplifting, 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 overwrought — would it not be such work as God's angels love to do, to seek to put a little brightness and cheer into his life, to manifest true sympathy with him, and to put into his trembling hand the cup filled with the wine of human love?

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Disguised in unattractive garb!

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares!" Hebrews 13:2

Let us at least beware that we do not chase away from our door with fretted frown, one whom God has sent to us either with a message or a blessing for us. For even in these common days, God sends His angels, though they may come unawares, not wearing their celestial robes — but 
disguised in unattractive garb!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The art of true living

Our days are like the lines and spaces in the musical staff — and our duties are the notes. Each life is meant to be a perfect harmony, and in order to this, each single duty has its own proper place. One thing done out of its time and place, makes discord in the music of life — just as one note misplaced on the staff mars the harmony. 

Our life is a building, and the little acts are the materials used; the whole is in its own true place. 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 thing that 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!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

We sometimes forget

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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Sanctified wit

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones!" Proverbs 16:24 

Not the least highly gifted men are those to whom God has imparted the talent of humor, that they may make others laugh. 
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 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 happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:13 

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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

We need to revise our ideas of humility

We can only fulfill life's grand meaning, when we accept every responsibility with glad welcome and reverent dependence on God. There is a wide difference between self-conceit and that proper estimate of one's own abilities that rates them justly and fairly, and is not afraid to put them to the test. 

We should accept without distrust, the responsibilities which God lays at our feet. A man of great gifts, in order to be humble, is not required to esteem himself a poor ungifted and good-for-nothing man. 
We need to revise our ideas of humility. If we must give account to God for every gift of usefulness, and for its fullest possible exercise, we must honor our God-given abilities, appreciate their true value, and then devote them to the service of Christ and of our fellow-men.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

Spiritual building

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; where the spirit is obedient though the sick hands must lie folded and the feet must be still — the temple 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.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

A great wilderness of unfinished fabrics

Life everywhere is full of beginnings 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 beauty, high hopes, holy thoughts and purposes, and high resolves — an ideal of something lovely and noble.

But, alas! the visions, the hopes, the purposes, the resolves, never grew into more than beginnings. God's angels bend down and see . . .
  
a great wilderness of unfinished fabrics,
  bright possibilities unfulfilled,
  noble might-have-beens abandoned, ghastly ruins now,
  and memorials only of failure.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
 

The art of true living

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

Duty never is a haphazard thing; it does not come to us in bundles from which we may choose what we like best. There are never a half-dozen things, either one of which we may fitly do at any particular time. There is someone definite and particular thing in the Divine purpose for each moment. 

The art of true living, therefore, consists largely in doing always the thing 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. 

"Do you next thing!" says the quaint old Saxon legend. Our duty is never some far-away thing. We do not have to search for it; it is always close at hand, and easily found.
 

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

There is a wondrous charm in a gentle spirit

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart" Matthew 11:29 

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

Close beside every Christian, stands One who holds all gifts and graces in His hands. He looks into our face and asks what new adornment He shall give us. Let us pray for the spirit of gentleness, for no other gift will make us such a blessing to others.

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

"Let your gentleness be evident to all." Philippians 4:5 

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

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Death does not come to the Christian as a destroyer

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!

"But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body!" Philippians 3:20-21 

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

Good and evil in certain qualities do not lie very far apart. It is quite easy for devotion to principle — to pass over 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 — 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.

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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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Consecration

Consecration is a transfer of one's plans and ambitions into the hands of Christ. It is a solemn pledge, too, to accept the plans of the Master for the inconveniences of each 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 will patiently submit to every interruption. We will accept every duty. 

We will 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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Its unconsciousness is its greatest power

To those whose hearts are full of God's grace, there are large opportunities for quiet and unpurposed usefulness opened in their social life. The only thing that is needed, isa 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. 

He 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 peace — it is impossible not to leave heavenly influences with all whom we meet.

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Even life's most dreaded experiences


Even 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 no harvest, 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.

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

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Does He know this little one? 

There is something very wonderful in the thought that Christ calls His sheep by their individual names. Christ has millions scattered over all the world; it is hard for us to realize that He knows personally by name every one of these. 

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 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 am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me" John 10:14

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When He comes to us in the garb of pain or sorrow

Christ is continually coming. His hands are full of blessings. 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 heart. 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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Troubles must come to the Christian

Troubles must come to the Christian — but they need not rob him of his joy. He may be in deep sorrow — but all the while there is a fountain of joy welling up in his heart. 

Sometimes there is a fresh-water spring by the seashore. Twice every day the salt tides roll over it — but the spring never ceases to flow; and, when the brackish waves have rolled back, the waters of the spring are still as sweet as ever. 

That is the way with the Christian's joy. It is a living well in his heart. Even in his sorrow, he has a deep peace in his soul. Then, when the sorrow is past, the joy springs fresh as ever. The permanence of all joy depends upon the source from which it comes. If it is in God that we rejoice, then earth has no power to take the gladness from us.

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Sit down and rest a while

There never is a moment without its duty. 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.

"And He said to them: Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." Mark 6:31

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As we come to walk again in life's dusty ways

God sometimes gives us . . .
  spiritual raptures, 
  glimpses of His face and His glory, 
  foretastes of celestial joy, 
  fragments of heavenly vision — 
for the very purpose of making us stronger and braver for duty. It will be sad indeed, then, if they make us less fit for life with its burdens and cares. We should seek to bring the heavenly visions down to earth, 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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True affection's gentleness

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. We should seek to heal the things that are not as they should be, with 
true affection's gentleness.

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A fragrant influence and a loving, helpful ministry

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.

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Every life needs solitude

"Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place." Mark 6:31-32 

But 
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 which shuts us in alone with God. We need such hours for quiet thought, 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 always spent in solitude grows selfish. The weeds of evil desire and unhealthy emotion flourish in solitariness.

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The very best that the richest human love can do

When people are in sore 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 that the richest human love can do. It is thus in all of life's deepest 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 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

People will say that 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 that becomes seed-corn to produce bread by and by 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.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel will save it." Mark 8:35

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Devotion must fit us for duty

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 are transformed by Christ, and made to shine in the transfigured beauty of His blessed life. 
Devotion must fit us for duty.

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He is fulfilling God's plan for his life

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 spirit. For a time his hand never tired, his energy never slackened, and friends expected great things from him. Then his hands gave way, and now lay folded on a bed of sickness. 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 meanwhile growing more Christly. 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, faith, peace, joy, love. 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.

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Spiritual longing

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 that 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.

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly. My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1 

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Waiting for God

"Wait for the LORD and keep His way" Psalm 37:34 

We should always wait for God. Too many of us run before we are sent. In our zeal for God's cause and kingdom, we do not wait for Divine direction. We speak words out of season which, despite their earnestness and sincerity — do harm rather than good. We address men before they are prepared to hear, and often in words which drive them further away. We hurry out to preach, when we ought ourselves to be sitting quietly at our Master's feet as learners. 

The most common fault among Christians is that they are too slow in doing Christ's work and in heeding His calls. But it is also a fault to go too fast — to go before He sends us. He must prepare us for the work before we are ready to do it — and then He must prepare the work for our hand. In Christian work, we need patience and self-restraint — as well as zeal and earnestness.

"Wait for the LORD. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:14 

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Foot washing

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. 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.

"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 

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Each little life

The day is long enough for God's plan. The sun never sets too soon for His purpose.
Each little life is long enough for the little part of the world's work allotted to it. This is true even of him who dies in the maturity of his powers, with his hands yet full of unfinished tasks. No one can ever offer as an excuse for an unfulfilled life-work, that the time given to him was too short. It is always long enough, if only every moment of it is filled with simple faithfulness.

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Don't worry!

"
Don't worry about these things" Matthew 6:31 

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!

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The fruit of pain, of weakness, of trial

Many of God's noblest servants have carried "thorns" in their flesh all their days — but meanwhile they have had spiritual blessings and enrichment which they never would have had if their cries for relief had been granted. 

We do not know what we owe to the suffering of those who have gone before us. Prosperity has not enriched the world as adversity has done. The best thoughts, the richest life-lessons, the sweetest songs that have come down to us from the past, have not come from lives that have known no privation, no adversity — but are 
the fruit of pain, of weakness, of trial. Men have cried out for emancipation from the bondage of hardship, of sickness, of infirmity, of self-denying necessity — not knowing that the thing which seemed to be hindering them in their career — was the very making of whatever was noble, beautiful, and blessed in their life.

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Our most common work leaves heavenly results

"Fill the jars with water," Jesus told them. 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 good wine. So it always is when we do what Christ bids us to do — 
our most common 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 service like angel 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.

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When you pray

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 private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret." Matthew 6:6 

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God does not give us our work in one great heap

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 wrought with the strength we have. 

Says one, "The surest method of arriving at a knowledge of God's eternal purposes about us, is to be found in the right use of the present moment. Each hour comes with some little piece of God's will fastened upon its back." 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.

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God does not give us our work in one great heap

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 wrought with the strength we have. 

Says one, "The surest method of arriving at a knowledge of God's eternal purposes about us, is to be found in the right use of the present moment. Each hour comes with some little piece of God's will fastened upon its back." 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.

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A new incarnation of the Christ

Each one of us who knows the love of Christ, is ordained to be Christ to others; that is, to show to them the spirit of Christ, the patience, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and love of Christ. 

Scripture teaches us that "Christ lives in me." If this is true, Christ loves others through us, and our touch must be to others as the very touch of Christ Himself. Every Christian ought to be, in his human measure, 
a new incarnation of the Christ, so that people shall say, "He interprets Christ to me. He comforts me in my sorrow as Christ Himself would do if He were to come and sit down beside me, and is as helpful and patient as Christ would be if He were here."

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Heart religion

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." John 4:23 

The music of splendid choirs, and the repeating of creeds and prayers, do not make worship. Worship is heart adoration; 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. The teaching is not that we are not to use forms of worship; we cannot well worship without forms. 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 whether we put our hearts into the forms.

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The real quest in life

Contentment is the spirit of restfulness and peace in whatever circumstances one may be placed. Paul tells us what it meant in his life, when he says, "I have learned, in whatever state I am, therein to be content." The word content means satisfaction — and implies that he had in his own heart the secret of satisfaction, and was not dependent for it on any outside circumstances. 

Paul carried in his heart the secret of peace and of joy, and was not dependent upon circumstances. He wrote this insightful verse in a prison; but the prison atmosphere, hardship, and restraint did not affect his inner life of contentment.

Paul says he had learned this lesson of contentment. He was quite an old man when he wrote the verse, and we may suppose that he was a good many years learning it. Probably it was not an easy lesson for him, and we may suppose that he got it only through long discipline and careful training. At least we are quite sure that contentment does not come naturally to anyone. We have to learn to be contented, and usually it will take us a good while to learn it.

We should learn, therefore, to be contented. That is, not to be affected by the things around us; to keep sweet in the most trying experiences, amid trials and annoyances of whatever kind. Living in the midst of cares, we should keep the care out of our heart, having there only the peace of Christ.

Contentment is the peace of God in the heart, diffusing its restful calm through all the life, hushing all its disturbances.

The real quest in life is not to find easy circumstances in which to live — a new paradise where nothing uncongenial shall ever come near to us — but to have in ourselves the secret of sweetness and contentment, which nothing can disturb. 

"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

 

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