The Sacredness of Opportunity

Jesus said, “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you!”

Sometimes darkness is very welcome. It is welcome to the weary man who can scarcely wait until the sun sets to cease his toil. To him darkness means rest. It folds him in its curtains, away from the noise and strife, and restores his exhausted strength. Darkness is welcome in many a home, for it is the signal for the home gathering of loved ones and the joys of the evening fireside. All day the hearthstone has drawn upon the hearts of the scattered household, and the coming of the night—is the signal for the home gathering.

But it is not a friendly darkness to which our Lord refers. The figure his words suggest is that of a wild beast coming upon the traveler, pursuing him, overtaking him, pouncing upon him, devouring him! Thus it was that Jesus urged his disciples to walk in the light while they had it, to be quick to use the few moments of the day that remained, before the devouring darkness should swoop down upon them!

The lesson is for us. Most of us live as if we had a thousand years to stay here in this world! We loiter in the golden hours of our little days—as if the days were never to end! We do not see how swiftly the sun is whirling toward his setting, while our work is but half done, our task perhaps scarcely begun.

We fritter away days, weeks, months—not noticing how our one little opportunity of living in this world is being worn off, as the sea eats away a crumbling bank until its last shred is gone! We set slight value on time, forgetting that we have only a hand-breadth of it—and then comes eternity!

What did you do yesterday that will brighten and glorify that day forever? What record of blessing in other lives did you give it, to carry to God’s judgment? What burden did you lift off another heart? What tear did you wipe away? On what soul did you leave a mark of beauty? Where is your yesterday?

Many of us fail to appreciate the value of ‘single days’. “A day is too short a space,” we say, “that it cannot make much difference if one, just one, is wasted—or idled away in pleasure!” Yet the days are links in a chain, and if one link is broken—the chain is broken. In God’s plan for our life—each little day has its own load of duty, its own record to make. We never know the sacredness of any particular day—what it may have for us amid its treasures.

Its sunshine may be no brighter than that of other days, there may be no peculiar feature in it to mark it as ‘special’ among a thousand common days, and yet it may be to us a day of destiny. If we fail to receive it as God’s gift—we may miss and lose that without which we shall be poorer all our life and in eternity.

How often do we see afterward, that the days which are gone, were bearers of heavenly gifts to us—which we had not the wit to recognize, nor the grace to take? When they have passed beyond recall—then we see what we missed in wasting them. How these lost days shame us—as they turn their reproachful eyes upon us out of the irrevocable past!

“Walk while you have the light—before darkness overtakes you!” There are many illustrations of this coming of darkness, this ending of opportunity. The lesson touches everyone’s life. There is the darkness that comes—as season after season of privilege closes.

Here the teaching is especially for the young: Some things God gives often; some only once. The seasons return again and again, and the flowers change with the months—but youth comes twice to none! Youth is the time for preparation. The success of the after life depends upon the diligence of the first years. A wasted youth—is followed by the darkness of misfortune and failure.

Youth is the time to gather knowledge. It is the time, too, to form good habits. It is the time to make good friendships. It is the time to follow Christ. It is the time to train the faculties, for the best work in life. It is the time to prepare for life’s business. When youth closes, with its opportunities, leaving one unready for the days of stress, struggle, duty, and responsibility that must come—perilous indeed is the darkness that wraps the life and drags it down!

Many young people are wasteful of time. They fail to realize its value. They appear to have it in such abundance, that they never dream it can end. They do not know that a day lost in golden youth may mean misfortune or failure for them sometime in the future. They do not know that missed lessons, squandered hours, minutes spent in idleness, may cost them the true success of their life, bringing failure or disaster, and may even blight their destiny. Young people should walk earnestly while they have the light, redeeming the time, buying up the opportunity, lest darkness overtake them. They should not make the mistake of imagining they have so much time that they can afford to let days or hours or even minutes be wasted. They cannot afford to lose one golden minute of any day. That may be the very minute of all that day on which their destiny hangs.

Says a thoughtful writer: “One of the illusions—is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart—that every day is the best day in the year. No man has leaned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is doomsday.” This is very true. We do not know what momentous issues, affecting all our future, are involved in any quietest hour of any common-place day. There is a time for everything—but the time is short, and when it is gone and the thing is not done—it never can be done!

“Never comes the opportunity that passed;
That one moment—was its last!”

“Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you!” While you have your eyes, use them! A young man was told by his physicians, that in six months he would be blind. At once he set out to look upon the most beautiful scenes in nature, and the loveliest works of art in all parts of the world—so that, before his eyes were closed forever, his memory might be stored with visions of beauty to brighten the darkness into which he was surely moving. Use your eyes while you have the light. See as many as possible, of the lovely things God has made. Read the best books you can find, and store your mind with great and noble thoughts. Learn while it is easy to learn. Be a student. Be a worker, too. Fill your days full of intense activities—for it will be only a little while till darkness shall overtake you, when you can work no more. What you do—you must do quickly. What you make of your life—you must make in a few years at the most; for the human span is short, and any day may be your last one!

This lesson is for those who are in life’s prime, and for those who are advancing toward old age, as well as for the young. Every day that passes—leaves life’s margin a little less for each of us. Our allotment of time is ever shortening. We must work—while the day lasts. We must do good—while our hearts are warm. We must speak the words of life—before our lips grow dumb. We must scatter kindnesses in the world—before our hands grow feeble. We must pour out love to bless the lonely—before our pulses are stilled.

We must not crowd God’s work out of our busy days, hoping to have time for it by and by—when leisure comes. Ah! By and by—it will be too late! Those who need us now—will not need us then. The deeds of love which we should do today—we cannot do tomorrow. The sick neighbor who now longs for our warm sympathy and gentle ministry—will not need us when our tasks have been finished and we have leisure time; there will be death-crape on the door then, and there will be no use in our calling with our word of love.

The child needs the father’s care, guidance, counsel, and loving patience—NOW! A few moments given each day, would make indelible impressions upon the boy’s soul, and bind him fast with chains of gold about the feet of God. But a little later—it may be no use to try to bless his life. He will have passed beyond the period when even a father’s hand can mould his life!

Never leave out of your busy days—love’s duties to your heart’s own, whatever else you may leave out. It were better to miss almost anything else in life—than what affection demands. Work while you have the light; do the things that are most important, most sacred, most vital.

Over the doorway of a certain church, is the inscription: “Only the eternal is important!” There are a great many things it is not worth our while to do. Some of us spend our days in poor trivialities which bless no one, and which will add no lustre to our crown. “Only the eternal is important!”

Therefore “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you!” Waste no opportunity. Despise no privilege. Squander no moment. There is just time enough in God’s plan for you to live your life well—if you spend every moment of it in earnest, faithful duty. One hour lost—will leave a flaw. A life thus lived in unbroken diligence and faithfulness, will have no regrets when the end comes. Its work will be completed. It will not be night that then overtakes it in the mystery which men call death—but day, rather, the morning of eternity!

J. R. Miller, 1888
GRACE GEMS

 

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A Word About Temper

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

More than half of us are bad-tempered—at least an English social scientist tells us so. He claims that this is no mere general statement and no bit of guesswork; he gives us the figures for it. He arranged to have about two thousand people put unconsciously under espionage as to their ordinary temper, and then had careful reports made of the results. The calculations of the returns has been announced, and is decidedly unflattering to the two thousand tempers that were thus put to the test. More than half of these people—to be entirely accurate, 52 percent of them—are set down as bad-tempered in various degrees.

The dictionary has been well-near exhausted of adjectives of this order, in giving the different shades of bad-temper: aggressive, angry, bickering, bitter, capricious, choleric, contentious, crotchety, despotic, domineering, easily offended, gloomy, grumpy, hasty, huffy, irritable, morose, obstinate, reproachful, peevish, sulky, surly, vindictive—these are some of the qualifying words. There are employed, in all, 46 terms which describe a bad temper.

We do not like to believe that the case is quite so serious—that many of us are unamiable in some offensive degree. It is easier to confess our neighbor’s faults and infirmities, than our own. So, therefore, quietly taking refuge for ourselves among the 48 percent of good-tempered people—we are willing to admit that a great many of the people we know, have at times rather ungentle tempers. They are easily provoked; they fly into a passion on very slight occasion; they are haughty, domineering, peevish, fretful or vindictive!

What is even worse, most of them appear to make no effort to grow out of their infirmities of disposition! The sour fruit does not come to mellow ripeness in the passing years; the roughness is not polished off the diamond to reveal its lustrous hidden beauty. The same petulance, pride, vanity, selfishness and other disagreeable qualities are found in the life, year after year! Where there is a struggle to overcome one’s faults and grow out of them, and where the progress toward better and more beautiful spiritual character is perceptible, though ever so slow—we should have sympathy. But where one appears unconscious of one’s blemishes, and manifests no desire to conquer one’s faults—there is little ground for encouragement.

Man-like it is—to fall into sin.

Fiend-like it is—to dwell therein.

Saint-like it is—for sin to grieve.

God-like it is—for sin to leave.

Bad temper is such a disfigurement of character, and, besides, works such harm to one’s self and to one’s neighbors, that no one should spare any pains or cost to have it cured! The ideal Christian life is one of unbroken kindliness. It is dominated by love—the love whose portrait is drawn for us in the immortal 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.” That is the picture of the ideal Christian life!

We have but to turn to the gospel pages—to find the story of a life in which all this was realized. Jesus never lost his temper. He lived among people who tried him at every point—some by their dullness, others by their bitter enmity and persecution—but he never failed in sweetness of disposition, in patience, in self-denying love. Like the flowers which give out their perfume only when crushed; like the odoriferous wood which bathes the axe which hews it with fragrance; the life of Christ yielded only the tenderer, sweeter love to the rough impact of men’s harshness and wrong. That is the pattern on which we should strive to fashion our life and our character. Every outbreak of violent temper, every shade of ugliness in disposition, mars the radiant loveliness of the picture we are seeking to have fashioned in our souls! Whatever is not loving—is unlovely character.

There is another phase: bad-tempered people are continually hurting others, ofttimes their best and truest friends. Some people are sulky—and one person’s sulkiness casts a chilling shadow over a whole household! Others are so sensitive, ever watching for slights and offended by the merest trifles—that even their nearest friends have no freedom of fellowship with them! Others are despotic, and will brook no kindly suggestion, nor listen to any expression of opinion! Others are so quarrelsome that even the meekest and gentlest person cannot live peaceably with them! Whatever may be the special characteristic of the bad temper, it makes only pain and humiliation for the person’s friends!

A bad temper usually implies a sharp tongue. Sometimes, indeed, it makes one morose and glum. A brother and a sister living together are said often to have passed months without speaking to each other, though eating at the same table and sleeping under the same roof! A man recently died who for twelve years, it was said, had never spoken to his wife, though they continued to dwell together, and three times daily sat down together at the same table!

Bad temper sometimes runs to sullen silence. Such silence is not golden. Generally, however, a bad-tempered person has an unbridled tongue and speaks out his hateful feelings; and there is no limit to the pain and the harm which angry and ugly words can produce in gentle hearts!

It would be easy to extend this portrayal of the evils of bad temper—but it will be more profitable to inquire HOW a bad-tempered person may become good-tempered. There is no doubt that this happy change is possible in any case. There is no temper so obdurately bad—that it cannot be trained into sweetness. The grace of God can take the most unlovely life—and transform it into the image of Christ.

As in all moral changes, however, grace does not work independently of human volition and exertion. “I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me!” Colossians 1:29. God always works helpfully—with those who strive to reach Christlikeness. We must resist the devil—or he will not flee from us. We must struggle to obtain the victory over our own evil habits and dispositions, although it is only through Christ that we can be conquerors. He will not make us conquerors, unless we enter the battle. We have a share, and a large and necessary share, in the culture of our own character.

The bad-tempered man will never become good-tempered until he deliberately sets for himself the task, and enters resolutely and persistently upon its accomplishment. The transformation will never come of itself, even in a Christian! People do not grow out of ugly temper into sweet refinement—as a peach ripens from sourness into lusciousness.

Then the thing to be accomplished, is not the destroying of the temper; temper is a good quality in its place. The task is not destruction—but control. A man is very weak—who has a strong temper without the power of self-control. Likewise is he weak—who has a weak temper. The truly strong man—is he who is strong in the element of temper—that is, has strong passions and feelings capable of great anger—and also has perfect self-control. When Moses failed and broke down in temper—in self-control, he was not the man to lead the people into the Promised Land; therefore God at once prepared to relieve him. The task to be set, therefore, in self-discipline is the gaining of complete mastery over every feeling and emotion, so as to be able to restrain every impulse to speak or to act unadvisedly.

We represent Christ in this world. People cannot see Him; they must look at us—to see a little of what He is like. Whatever great work we may do for Christ—if we fail to live out His life of love, kindness and patience—we fail in an essential part of our duty as Christians.

Nor can we be greatly useful in our personal life, while our daily conduct is stained by frequent outbursts of anger, and other exhibitions of bad temper. In the old fable, the spider goes about doing mischief wherever it creeps, while the bee by its wax and its honey, makes “sweetness and light” wherever it flies. We should be bees—rather than be spiders; living to turn darkness into light—and to put a little more sweetness into the life of all who know us. But only as our own lives shine in the brightness of holy love, and our hearts and lips distill the sweetness of patience and gentleness, can we fulfill our mission in this world—as Christ’s true messengers to men.

Then there is need of a higher standard of character in this regard, than many people seem to set for themselves. We never rise higher than our ideals. The perfect beauty of Christ should ever be envisioned in our hearts—as that which we would attain for ourselves. The honor of our Master’s name—should impel us to strive ever toward Christlikeness in spirit and in disposition.

In striving to overcome our impatience with others, it will help us to remember that we and they have the common heritage of a sinful nature. The thing in them which irritates us—is, no doubt, balanced by something in us which looks just as unlovely in their eyes and just as sorely tries their forbearance toward us!

Very likely, if we think our neighbors are hard to live peaceably with—they think about the same of us! And who shall tell in whom lies the greater degree of fault? Certain it is, that a really good-tempered person can rarely ever be drawn into a quarrel with anyone. He is resolutely determined that he will not be a partner in any unChristian strife. He would rather suffer wrongfully, than offer any retaliation. He has learned to bear—and to forbear. Then, by his gentle tact—he is able to conciliate any who are angry.

A fable relates that in the depth of a forest, there lived two foxes. One of them said to the other one day, in the politest of fox-language, “Let’s quarrel!”

“Very well,” said the other; “but how shall we go about it?”

They tried all sorts of ways—but in vain, for both would give way. At last, one fox brought two stones.

“There!” said he. “Now you say they are yours—and I’ll say they are mine—and we will quarrel and fight and scratch! Now I’ll begin.

“Those stones are mine!”

“All right!” answered the other fox, “you are welcome to them.”

“But we shall never quarrel at this rate,” replied the first.

“No, indeed, you old simpleton! Don’t you know, that it takes two to make a quarrel?”

 So the foxes gave up trying to quarrel, and never played at this silly game again.

The fable has its lesson for other creatures, besides foxes. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,” Paul tells us, “we should live peaceably with all men.”

A wise man says, “Every man takes care that his neighbors shall not cheat him—but a day comes when he begins to care—that he does not cheat his neighbors. Then all goes well.” So long as a man sees only the quarrelsome temper of his neighbor—he is not far toward holiness. But when he has learned to watch and to try to control his own temper, and to weep over his own infirmities—he is on the way to Christ-likeness, and will soon be conqueror over his own weakness!

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 loving and 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 a 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.

J.R. Miller, 1888
GRACE GEMS

 

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The Splendor of Kindness

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Kindness has been called the small coin of love. The word is generally used to designate the little deeds of thoughtfulness and gentleness which make no noise in the world — rather than the large heroic acts which all men note and applaud. One may live many years and never have the opportunity of doing any great thing — but one may always be kind, filling all one’s day with gentle attentions, helpful ministries, little services of interest and sympathy, and small courtesies. Wordsworth speaks of “That best portion of a godly man’s life — his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”

Kindness is beautiful in its spirit and motive. It usually springs out of the heart spontaneously. The greater things men do are prepared for, planned for, and are done consciously, with intention and purpose. Kindness as a rule, is done unconsciously without preparation, without thought. This enhances its beauty.

There is no self-seeking in it, no thought of reward of any kind. It is done in simplicity, prompted by love, and is most pleasing to Christ.

The things we do consciously, with thought and intention, oft-times have much of self in them. The things we do without purpose or plan, are the truest indexes of the heart and mean most in God’s sight.

The world does not know how much it owes to the common kindnesses which so abound everywhere.

There had been a death in a happy home, and one evening, soon after the funeral, the family was talking with a friend who had dropped in, about the wonderful manifestation of human sympathy which their sorrow had called out. The father said he had never dreamed there was so much love in people’s hearts as had been shown to his family by friends and neighbors, even by mere acquaintances, that week. The kindness had come from all classes of people, from many from whom it was altogether unexpected, even from entire strangers. “It makes me ashamed of myself,” said the godly man, “that I have so undervalued the goodwill of those around me, and that I have failed myself so often in showing sympathy and kindness to neighbors and friends in their times of sorrow.”

No doubt it often takes trouble or sorrow to draw out the love there is in people. We all feel sympathetically even toward a stranger who is in grief or suffering. Death-crape on the door of a neighbor makes us walk by the house more quietly, more softly, as we think of those within sitting in their grief.

It may require sorrow or suffering to call out the kindly feeling — but the feeling is there all the time. No doubt there is cruelty in human hearts — but this is only the exception. The majority of people have hearts of kindness if only the right chord is struck.

It has been noted that among the poor there is even more neighborliness shown than among the rich. The absence of conventionality makes the life simpler. The poor mingle more freely in their neighborhood life. They share each other’s burdens. They minister to each other’s needs. They nurse each other in sickness and sit with each other in times of sorrow. Their mutual kindness does much to lessen their hardships and to give zest and happiness to their lives.

The ministry of kindness is unceasing. It fills all the days and all the nights. In the true home, it begins in pleasant greetings with the first waking moments, and all day goes on in sweet courtesies, in thoughtful attentions, in patience, in quiet self-denials, in obligingness and helpfulness.

Out in the world kindness goes everywhere with . . .
its good cheer,
its gladness of heart,
its uplift for those who are discouraged,
its strengthening words for those who are weary,
its sympathy with sorrow,
its interest in lives that are burdened and lonely.

Some of us, if we were to try to sum up the total of our usefulness, would name a few great things we have done:
a gift of money to some benevolent object,
the starting of some good work which has grown into strength,
the writing of a book which has done good to many lives,
the winning of honor in some service to our community or to our country.

But in every worthy life, that which has left really the greatest measure of good, has been its ministry of kindness. No record of it has ever been kept. People have not talked about it. It never has been mentioned in the newspapers. We do not even remember it ourselves. But wherever we have gone, day after day, if we have simply been kind to everyone, we have left blessings in the world which in the aggregate mean far more than the few large things we set down as the measure of our usefulness among men!

Our Lord’s wonderful picture of the Judgment reveals another phase of the splendor of kindness. He tells us that the little things we do — feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, showing hospitality to the stranger, visiting the sick, and the other nameless ministries of love of which we take no account — if done in the right spirit, are accepted as though they had been actually done to Christ himself! He tells us that the godly will be surprised to know that in their kindly acts they had been ministering to the King, when they supposed they were only doing little things for needy neighbors. This revealing exalts to highest honor, the lowliest things of the common days, wrought in love for the Master.

The best thing we can do with our love, is not to watch for a chance to perform someone fine act that will shine before the world — but to fill all the days and hours with little kindnesses which will make countless hearts nobler, stronger and happier.

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

J.R. Miller
from GRACE  GEMS

 

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New Year’s Comfort

As we launch out into another year, there is little visible prospect of a smooth and pleasant voyage. To the natural eye, the clouds are dark and fierce storms seem imminent. The very uncertainty of what the morrow may bring forth, fills many with uneasiness and trepidation. But how different should be the state of God’s children—an all-sufficient Object is presented to the eyes of their faith, from which unbelief derives no comfort. If the poor worldling is concerned with what lies before him, it is the blessed privilege of the believer to be occupied with Who goes before him—the One who is his Captain, his Guide, his Forerunner. “The Lord! HE it is who goes before you” (Deut. 31:8). What a difference that makes! O that writer and reader may be enabled to lay hold of this grand Truth as we enter another period of time and keep it steadily in mind throughout the coming days!

1. The Lord has gone before you in the grand decree of His PREDESTINATION. Last year was one of suspense and sorrow, of trial and trouble—and perhaps you tremble at what this one has in store. Well, here is solid comfort. Your future has all been marked out for you! You shall not tread a step which is not mapped on the grand chart of God’s foreordination. All your circumstances have been Divinely ordered for you. Ah, Christian reader, what an immense difference this makes that you are not a child of chance, that your lot is not decided by the caprice of fickle fortune. Infinite wisdom and infinite love have arranged everything. You will go nowhere during 1943—but where God has decreed, His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2), planning your path, your life. A predestinating God has appointed “the bounds of your habitation” (Acts 17:26). You may be thrust into the furnace of affliction—yet you will not be deserted. You may be brought low—yet it will be for your future blessing. You may be chastened—yet the rod is in the hand of your Father.

“Your times of trial and of grief,
Your times of joy and sweet relief,
All shall come and last and end—
As shall please your heavenly Friend.”

2. The Lord has gone before you in the preparations of His PROVIDENCE. “My God shall supply all your needs” (Phil. 4:19), full provision has already been made for it. Jehovah does not have to improvise. No unexpected emergency can overtake Him, “known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). Therefore is it written, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer” (Isaiah 65:24). Before we reach a place, God has provided for us wherever the road leads, all has been made ready. “He went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in” (Deut. 1:33); and He will not do less for His people today. Canaan was fully prepared for Israel long before they arrived there, “The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land filled with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant” (Deut. 6:10, 11). Here is comfort for the preacher too, “The Lord, He it is who goes before you,” to prepare hearts for the message, for the reception of the Truth.

3. The Lord has gone before you in PERSON. The path which He calls you to tread—has first been traversed by Himself. None other than the Lord of Glory became incarnate, entered this world of ours and tabernacled here for thirty-three years in the flesh, that He might be the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10). “When He puts forth His own sheep, He goes before them” (John 10:4). Are they required to tread the way of obedience? Well, their Shepherd has Himself preceded them therein. Are they required to deny themselves and take up their cross? Well, He Himself did nothing less. Are they called upon to be buffeted, not for their faults but when they do well, to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake? Well, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). What comfort is there here—that the trials we endure for the Truth’s sake, that the unkind treatment we meet with from professing brethren because we dare not compromise are an essential part of the process of our being conformed to the image of God’s Son! Shall we be called upon to pass through the valley of the shadow of death? Well, the Christian has nothing to fear, for Christ has gone before Him and extracted the sting of death.

4. The Lord has gone before you in the directions of His PRECEPTS. “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet—and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105), revealing the way of peace and blessing through this dark world. Especially is that true of its preceptive portions, for they make known the paths of righteousness which we are to tread. Ignorance of God’s will concerning the way we should go is inexcusable, for He has already clearly and definitely made known His will. The highway of holiness does not have to be made by us—it is there plainly enough before us in the Word and it is ours to walk in it. “You shall guide me with Your counsel—and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24). A “guide” is one who goes before us, directing our course and the “counsel” of our Divine Guide is contained in His prohibitions and commandments and according as we heed them shall we escape the dangers around us and be kept in the narrow way which leads unto Life.

5. The Lord has gone before you in the provisions of His PROMISES. What are the Divine promises, but so many anticipations of our varied needs and guarantees, which God stands pledged to supply. They are so many proofs of His omniscience which foresaw what would meet our requirements. They are so many tokens of His loving-kindness to manifest His tender concerns for us, long before we had any historical existence. They are so many evidences of His faithfulness, that He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly. Whatever tomorrow may hold, the Divine promises assure the Christian that the Lord has gone before and made every provision for him. No dire situation, no pressing emergency, no desperate peril can possibly arise, but what there is one of the “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) exactly suited to our case. Their value lies in the fact that they are the word of Him who cannot lie. “This God is our God forever and ever—He will be our Guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14).

6. The Lord has gone before you into PARADISE. Did He not expressly announce before He left this scene, “In My Father’s House are many mansions—if it were not so I would have told you—I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2)? Not for Himself, but for His redeemed—nor would He entrust this task unto the angels. How it tells of the love of the Bridegroom for His Bride! Christ has entered Heaven on our behalf, taking possession thereof in our name, “where the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus” (Heb. 6:20). His entry, ensures ours. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (John 17:24).

“He and I in one bright glory
Endless bliss shall share:
Mine, to be forever with Him,
His, that I am there.”

“The Lord, He it is who goes before you” (Deut. 31:8). Here, then, is real substantial comfort—and what shall be my response thereto?

First, my eye should be constantly fixed upon Him, “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2), looking away from all else, trusting none other.

Second, then it is my business to follow Him—for what other purpose is a Guide? “When He puts forth His own sheep, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him” (John 10:4). And as they do, so they find that He makes them to lie down in green pastures, that He leads them beside the still waters. Ah, who would not follow such a Shepherd! O that the Lord may say of us as He did of Caleb, “he has followed Me fully” (Num. 14:24).

Third, then fear should be entirely banished from my heart. And will it not be so—if faith really lays hold of this, “The Lord, HE it is who goes before you, He will be with you, He will not fail you, neither forsake you; fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deut. 31:8).

7. The Lord has gone before the PREACHER. This little message would hardly be complete if we failed to include a special word for the minister of the Gospel. Nor has God overlooked him at this very point. “Behold HE goes before you” (Matthew 28:7), is addressed immediately unto the servants of Christ and it is for their faith to appropriate the same. According as they do so—will their hearts and hands be strengthened. If you are really the servant of Christ, your Master has not called you to draw a bow at a venture—but has appointed your specific place in His vineyard and has ordered everything in connection therewith. That does not mean that all will be smooth sailing. It did not mean that for the Apostles, as the book of Acts shows. But it did mean that they were not left without a Pilot. HE not only went before them but gave assurance, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). That is the grand consolation of this writer. May it be yours, too!

Arthur Pink, 1943

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It’s now illegal to share food with the homeless in Florida.

(NaturalNews) If you’re someone who believes in personal (not government-provided) charity and who likes to make sure that as many homeless people as possible get a decent meal each day, good for you. But you might want to avoid Fort Lauderdale, Florida, because you could wind up with a hefty fine and some jail time.

Seriously.

According to reports, police in the city issued citations and further threatened to arrest two priests and a 90-year-old World War II vet for the “crime” of feeding homeless people. A group of bozos on the city council recently approved a measure making the sharing of food a citable offense. As reported by The Daily Sheeple:

Fort Lauderdale police removed at least three volunteers, as well as the Sunday lunch they were serving to several dozen homeless people, citing a controversial new ordinance that prohibits food sharing. Passed in October, the measure was created to try to cut down the growing population of homeless people in Fort Lauderdale.

All it has really done is put a chill on charity.

‘The whole world is watching’

In video footage located on this web page, you can see three police officers show up and disrupt an in-progress feeding program, removing Arnold Abbott, 90, the Rev. Canon Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Dwayne Black of the Sanctuary Church.

As the men are being removed and the operation disrupted, several people begin to protest the police action, following the police officers as they escort the men to their patrol cars.

“Shame on you, arresting an elderly man!” shouted someone in the assembled crowd.

“The whole world is watching!” another shouted.

But the officers, who don’t have any choice but to enforce laws the city passes, were unrelenting. In the video one officer explains to the three men, “Basically you are going to be cited for serving to the community without proper accommodations. Everything is explained in here. This is a citation. If you guys continue to come out here you will face arrest.”

As The Daily Sheeple further reported:

The ban on sharing food is part of city officials’ recent efforts to cut down on the burgeoning downtown homeless population. The most recent law – passed by a 4-1 vote – limits where outdoor feeding can be located. It can’t be situated near another feeding site; it has to be at least 500 feet from residential property; and feed program organizers must seek permission from property owners for sites in front of their buildings.

City officials say the new laws are merely “public health and safety measures,” but opponents have begun referring to them as “homeless hate laws,” the Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported.

“We are simply trying to feed people who are hungry,” Sims told the paper. “To criminalize that is contrary to everything that I stand for as a priest and as a person of faith.”

The program in question is operated by a group called Love Thy Neighbor. Abbott, its founder, has served food to homeless people for two decades.

‘We’ve lost our collective minds’

The anti-homeless feeding ordinances follow additional mandates in Fort Lauderdale that have banned homeless people from soliciting at the city’s busiest intersections, from sleeping on public property uptown, and have strengthened measures against defecating in public. There is also a new measure making it illegal for anyone to store their personal belongings on public property.

“I’m not satisfied with having a cycle of homeless in the city of Fort Lauderdale,” said Mayor Jack Seiler, in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel. “Providing them with a meal and keeping them in that cycle on the street is not productive.”

But such ordinances don’t really do anything to address the cycle, either, or correct it – they just penalize anyone who wants to help such people.

“I think we’ve lost our collective minds. We’re arresting people who should be lauded and lauding people on Wall Street and elsewhere who should be arrested,” Joel Berg, executive director of the New York Coalition Against Hunger, according to Sheeple’s source.

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What are you thankful for?

Sherry_Colorful_Thanksgiving_Turkey[1]Thanksgiving, 2014.

My youngest grandson, Noah Fredrick is nine years old.  He  wrote a list of things he is thankful for at school and colored a big turkey with beautiful colors!  Noah is in the fourth grade,  a very bright and happy child who is also thoughtful and mindful of the people around him.  Here is his list:

Toy sets
Having a family
Artistic [abilities]
Nice friends
Kathy (Mom)
Sam (my Gecko)
God
Indians
Valentine’s Day
Independence
Nan (Grandma)
Good food

And what are YOU thankful for this Thanksgiving Day?  I am thankful for forgiveness of sins in the LORD Jesus Christ, for all God’s bountiful provisions for me and for my family in this life and for eternal life in heaven with Him in the future.  Thank You, LORD!

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NO MAN CARES FOR MY SOUL

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I AM THAT I AM

“I AM THAT I AM”  Exodus 3:14

Reader, look down now from this astounding glory and fix your eye on Bethlehem’s manger. A lowly Babe lies in the lowly cradle of a lowly town, the offspring of a lowly mother. Look again. That child is the eternal “I AM.” He whose Deity never had birth, is born “the woman’s Seed.” He, whom no infinitudes can hold, is contained within infant’s age, and infant’s form. He, who never began to be, as God, here begins to be, as man. And can it be, that the great “I AM THAT I AM” shrinks into our flesh, and is little upon our earth, as one newborn of yesterday? It is so. The Lord promised it. Prophets foretold it. Types prefigured it. An angel announces it. Heaven rings with rapture at it. Faith sees it. The redeemed rejoice in it. But why is this wonder of wonders? Why is eternity’s Lord a child of time? He thus stoops, that He may save poor wretched sinners such as we are. Could He not by His will or by His word? Ah! No. He willed, and all things were. He speaks, and all obey. But He must die, as man, that a lost soul may live. To rescue from one stain of sin, the Eternal must take the sinner’s place, and bear sin’s curse and pay sin’s debt, and suffer sin’s penalty, and wash out sin’s filth, and atone for sin’s malignity. “I AM THAT I AM” alone could do this. “I AM THAT I AM” alone has done it. What self-denial, what self-abasement, what self-emptying is here! Surely, royalty in rags, angels in cells, is no descent compared to Deity in flesh! But mighty love moves Jesus to despise all shame, and to lie low in misery’s lowest mire. Through ages past His “delights were with the sons of men.” Prov. 8.31.

Henry Law
GRACE GEMS

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What Caused the Reformation?

Many people might answer that question by pointing to Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.

But if you were to ask Luther himself, he would not point to himself or his own writings. Instead, he would give all the credit to God and His Word.

Near the end of his life, Luther declared: “All I have done is put forth, preach and write the Word of God, and apart from this I have done nothing. . . . It is the Word that has done great things. . . . I have done nothing; the Word has done and achieved everything.”

Elsewhere, he exclaimed: “By the Word the earth has been subdued; by the Word the Church has been saved; and by the Word also it shall be reestablished.”

Noting Scripture’s foundational place in his own heart, Luther wrote: “No matter what happens, you should say: There is God’s Word. This is my rock and anchor. On it I rely, and it remains. Where it remains, I, too, remain; where it goes, I, too, go.”

Luther understood what caused the Reformation. He recognized that it was the Word of God empowered by the Spirit of God preached by men of God in a language that the common people of Europe could understand and when their ears were exposed to the truth of God’s Word it pierced their hearts and they were radically changed.

It was that very power that had transformed Luther’s own heart, a power that is summarized in the familiar words of Hebrews 4:12: “The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.”

During the late middle ages, the Roman Catholic Church had imprisoned God’s Word in the Latin language, a language the common people of Europe did not speak. The Reformers unlocked the Scriptures by translating them. And once the people had the Word of God, the Reformation became inevitable.

We see this commitment to the Scriptures even in the centuries prior to Martin Luther, beginning with the Forerunners to the Reformation:

In the 12th century, the Waldensians translated the New Testament from the Latin Vulgate into their regional French dialects. According to tradition, they were so committed to the Scriptures that different Waldensian families would memorize large sections of the Bible. That way, if Roman Catholic authorities found them and confiscated their printed copies of Scripture, they would later be able to reproduce the entire Bible from memory.

In the 14th century, John Wycliffe and his associates at Oxford translated the Bible from Latin into English. Wycliffe’s followers, known as the Lollards, went throughout the countryside preaching and singing passages of Scripture in English.

In the 15th century, Jan Huss preached in the language of the people, and not in Latin, making him the most popular preacher in Prague at the time. Yet, because Huss insisted that Christ alone was the head of the church, not the pope, the Catholic Council of Constance condemned him for heresy and burned him at the stake (in 1415).

In the 16th century, as the study of Greek and Hebrew were recovered, Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, with the New Testament being completed in 1522.

In 1526, William Tyndale completed a translation of the Greek New Testament into English. A few years later he also translated the Pentateuch from Hebrew. Shortly thereafter he was arrested and executed as a heretic—being strangled and then burned at the stake. According to Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Tyndale’s last words were “Lord, Open the King of England’s Eyes.” And it was just a couple years after his death that King Henry VIII authorized the Great Bible in England—a Bible that was largely based on Tyndale’s translation work. The Great Bible laid the foundation for the later King James version (which was completed in 1611).

The common thread, from Reformer to Reformer, was an undying commitment to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, such that they were willing to sacrifice everything, including their own lives, to get the Word of God into the hands of the people.

They did this because they understood that the power for spiritual reformation and revival was not in them, but in the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:16–17). And they used the Latin phrase Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”) to emphasize the truth that God’s Word was the true power and ultimate authority behind all they said and did.

It was ignorance of Scripture that made the Reformation necessary. It was the recovery of the Scripture that made the Reformation possible. And it was the power of the Scripture that gave the Reformation its enduring impact, as the Holy Spirit brought the truth of His Word to bear on the hearts and minds of individual sinners, transforming them, regenerating them, and giving them eternal life.

Nathan Busenitz
October 29, 2014
WORLDVIEW WEEKEND

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Waiting at Wisdom’s Gates

“Blessed is the man who hears Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors” (Proverbs 8:34). In the Scriptures, no more than two classes of people are declared to be in the world. The one class is called “the blessed of the Lord,” and the other “the cursed of the Lord,” or “the people of God’s curse.”

This latter class contains all the “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction”; all “the generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness”; all the “generation of vipers that cannot escape the damnation of hell”; in short, all “whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life,” who are not among those whom Jesus has “redeemed unto God out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

The former class, to which the characters spoken of in the text belong, contains all who are “chosen by God the Father in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before Him in love”; all whom He “predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace wherein He has made them accepted in the Beloved; in whom they have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:3-7); all whom the Lord the Spirit “quickens into spiritual and eternal life” (Eph. 2:1); and all to whom Jehovah says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you” (Jer. 31:3).

Of both these classes, or of the characters which make up these two distinct families, the Holy Spirit has given in His Word plain and striking descriptions. He has drawn their likenesses with His Divine and unerring hand, and has clearly separated the sheep from the goats, “the chaff from the wheat,” and “the precious from the vile.” In the text we have exhibited to us the portrait of a blessed character, an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ. His features are drawn from the life by the Spirit of life with the pencil of Divine Truth, and happy are we if we can trace any of these features in the fleshy tables of our hearts, and discover any conformity to the image of Jesus in our souls. May it be our happiness to feel that we are of the “blessed of the Lord,” while attending to the description of the blessed man of whom Wisdom speaks. May “the light of life” shine upon the Word, and shine into our hearts, that although we may only see through a glass darkly, we may be enabled to hear the still small voice of the Lord saying to our souls, “Unto you is the word (and power) of this salvation sent.”

“Blessed is the man who hears Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors.”

John Gadsby, 1843 from GRACE GEMS
November 3, 2014

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