The Blessedness of Quietness

Quietness, like mercy, is twice blessed: it blesses him who is quiet, and it blesses the man’s friends and neighbors. Talk is good in its way. “There is a time to speak,” but there is also “a time to be silent,” and in silence many of life’s sweetest blessings come.

An Italian proverb says, “He who speaks does sow; he who holds his tongue does reap.” We all know the other saying which rates speech as silver—and silence as gold. There are in the Scriptures, too, many strong persuasives to quietness, and many exhortations against noise. It was prophesied of the Christ: “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.” As we read the Gospels we see that our Lord’s whole life, was a fulfillment of this ancient prophecy. He made no noise in the world. He did his work without excitement, without parade, without confusion. He wrought as the light works—silently, yet pervasively and with resistless energy.

Quietness is urged, too, on Christ’s followers. “Study to be quiet,” writes an apostle. “Busybodies” the same apostle exhorts to “quiet working, they may eat their own bread.” Prayers are to be made for rulers “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” Another apostle, writing to Christian women, speaks of their true adornment: “You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” Solomon rates quietness in a home, far above the best of luxuries: “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet—than a house full of feasting, with strife.”

A prophet declares the secret of power in these words: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength;” and likewise says, “The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.” It is set down also as one of the blessings of God’s people, that they shall dwell in “quiet resting-places.”

These are but a few of very many scriptural statements concerning quietness—but they are enough to indicate several lessons that we may profitably consider.

We should be quiet toward God. The expression “Rest in the Lord,” in one of the Psalms, is in the margin “Be silent to the Lord.” We are not to speak back to God—when he speaks to us. We are not to reason with him or dispute with him—but are to bow in silent and loving acquiescence before him: “Be still, and know that I am God.” It is in those providences which cut sorely into our lives, and require sacrifice and loss on our part—that we are specially called to this duty.

There is a moving illustration of silence to God in the case of Aaron when his sons had offered strange fire, and had died before the Lord for their disobedience and sacrilege. The record says, “And Aaron held his peace.” He even made no natural human outcry of grief. He accepted the terrible penalty as unquestionably just—and bowed in the acquiescence of faith.

This silence to God should be our attitude in all times of trial, when God’s ways with us are bitter and painful. Why should we complain at anything that our Father may do? We have no right to utter a word of murmuring, for he is our sovereign Lord, and our simple duty is instant, unquestioning submission. Then we have no reason to complain, for we know that all God’s dealings with us—are in loving wisdom. His will is always best for us, whatever sacrifice or suffering it may cost.

We should train ourselves to be quiet also toward men. There are times when we should speak, and when words are mighty and full of blessing. Universal silence would not be a blessing to the world. Among the most beneficent of God’s gifts to us—is the power of speech. And we are to use our tongues. There are some people who are altogether too quiet in certain directions, and toward certain people.

There is no place where good words are more fitting—than between husband and wife—yet there are husbands and wives who pass weeks and months together in almost unbroken silence. They will travel long journeys side by side in the railway-car, and utter scarcely a word in the whole distance. They will walk to and from church, and neither will speak. In the home-life they will pass whole days with nothing more in the form of speech between them, than an indifferent remark about the weather, a formal inquiry and a monosyllabic answer.

“According to Milton, Eve kept silence in Eden to hear her husband talk,” said a gentleman to a lady, adding in a melancholy tone, “Alas! there have been no Eves since!” “Because,” quickly retorted the lady, “there have been no husbands worth listening to!” Perhaps the retort was just. Husbands certainly ought to have something to say when they come into their homes from the busy world outside. They are usually genial enough, in the circles of business or politics or literature, and are able to talk so as to interest others. Ought they not to seek to be as genial in their own homes, especially toward their own wives? Most women, too, are able to talk in general society. Why, then, should a wife fall into such a mood of silence the moment she and her husband are alone? It was Franklin who wisely said, “As we must account for every idle word—so must we for every idle silence.” We must not forget that silence may be sadly overdone, especially in homes.

There are other silences that are also to be deplored. People keep in their hearts unspoken, the kindly words they might utter— and ought to utter—in the ears of the weary, the soul-hungry and the sorrowing about them. The ministry of good words is one of wondrous power—yet many of us are wretched misers, with our gold and silver coin of speech. Is any miserliness so base? Ofttimes we allow hearts to starve close beside us, though in our very hands we have abundance to feed them.

One who attends the funeral of any ordinary man and listens to what his neighbors have to say about him as they stand by his coffin—will hear enough kind words spoken to have brightened whole years of his life. But how was it when the man was living, toiling and struggling, among these very people? Ah! they were not so faithful then with their grateful, appreciative words. They were too quiet toward him then. Silence was overdone.

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

But there is a quietness toward others which all should cultivate. There are many words spoken, which ought never to pass the door of the lips. There are people who seem to exercise no restraint whatever, on their speech. They allow every passing thought or feeling—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”

“I heedlessly opened the cage
And suffered my bird to go free,
And, though I besought it with tears to return,
It nevermore came back to me.

It nests in the wildwood and heeds not my call;
Oh, the bird once at liberty—who can enthrall?
“I hastily opened my lips
And uttered a word of disdain

That wounded a friend, and forever estranged
A heart I would die to regain.
But the bird once at liberty—oh who can enthrall?
And the word that’s once spoken—oh who can recall?”

Rose Cooke in one of her poems—”Unreturning”, shows in very strong phrase, the irreparableness of the harm done or the hurt given by unkind words. Flowers fade—but there will be more flowers another year—-just as sweet ones, too, as those that are gone. Snow melts and disappears—but it will snow again. The crystals of dew on leaf and grassblade vanish when the sun rises—but tomorrow morning there will be other dewdrops as brilliant as those which are lost. But words once uttered—can never be said over to be changed, nor can they ever be gotten back.

Another kind of common talk that had better be repressed into complete silence, is the miserable gossip which forms so large a part—let us confess it and deplore it—of ordinary parlor conversation! Few appreciative and kindly things are spoken of absent ones—but there is no end to criticism, snarling and backbiting! The most unsavory bits of scandal are served with relish, and no pure character is armored against the virulence and maliciousness of the tongues that chatter on as innocently and glibly as if they were telling sweet stories of good. It certainly would be infinitely better, if all this kind of speech were reduced to utter silence. It were better that the ritual of fashion prescribed some sort of a speechless pantomime for social calls and receptions, in place of any conversation whatever, if there is nothing to be talked about but the faults and foibles and the characters and doings of absent people!

Will not someone preach a crusade against backbiting? Shall we not have a new annual “week of prayer” to cry to God for the gift of silence—when we have nothing good or true or beautiful to say? No victories should be more heroically battled for, or more thankfully recorded, than victories of silence when we are tempted to speak unhallowed words of others!

Silence is better, also, than any words of bickering and strife. There is no surer, better way of preventing quarrels—than by the firm restraining of speech. “A soft answer turns away anger;” but if we cannot command the “soft answer” when another person is angry, the second-best thing is not to speak at all. “Grievous words stir up anger.” Many a long, fierce strife that has produced untold pain and heart-breaking, would never have been anything more than a momentary flash of anger—if one of the parties had practiced the holy art of silence.

Someone tells of the following arrangement which worked successfully in preventing family quarrels: “You see, sir,” said an old man, speaking of a couple in his neighborhood who lived in perfect harmony, “they had agreed between themselves that whenever he came home a little contrary and out of temper—he would wear his hat on the back of his head, and then she never said a word; and if she came in a little cross and crooked, she would throw her shawl over her left shoulder—and he never said a word.” So they never quarreled.

He who has learned to be silent, spares himself ofttimes from confusion. Many men have owed their reputation for great wisdom, quite as much to their silence as to their speech. They have not spoken the many foolish things of the glib talker, and have uttered only few and well-considered words. Says Carlyle, denouncing the rapid verbiage of shallow praters, “Even triviality and imbecility that can sit silent—how respectable are they in comparison!”

An English writer gives the story of a groom wedded to a lady of wealth. He was in constant fear of being ridiculed by his wife’s guests. A clergyman said to him, “Wear a black coat—and hold your tongue.” The new husband followed the advice, and soon was considered one of the finest gentlemen in the country. The power of keeping quiet would be worth a great deal to many people, whose tongues are forever betraying their ignorance, and revealing their true character.

All true 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 ofttimes 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 provocations and wrongs, and in the midst of danger and alarms—is the power of the noblest, royalest victoriousness!

J.R. Miller, 1888
GRACE GEMS

 

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The Ministry of Kindness

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

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

Nothing is more worth while, than kindness. Nothing else in life is more beautiful in itself. Nothing else does more to brighten the world, and sweeten other lives.

Robert Louis Stevenson said in a letter: “It is our kindnesses, that alone makes the world tolerable. If it were not for that—I would be tempted to think that our life is a practical jest in the worst possible spirit.”

The man whose life lacks habitual kindliness may succeed splendidly in a worldly sense. He may win his way to high honor. He may gather his millions. He may climb to a conspicuous place among men. But he has missed that which alone gives beauty to a life—the joy and blessing of being kind. There are men who are so intent on winning the race, that they have neither eye nor heart nor hand for the human needs along the wayside. Here and there is one, however, who thinks more of the humanities, than of the personal success; that woos him forward, and who turns aside in his busiest hour to give help and cheer to those who need.

There is always this difference in men. There are those who have only one purpose in life, the making of their own career. They fix their eye upon their goal, and press toward it with indomitable persistence, utterly unheeding the calls and appeals of human need which break upon their ears. They fail altogether in love’s duty. They dwarf and deaden the qualities which are divinest in their nature.

Far nobler are those who, while earnest and diligent in business—yet let the law of love rule in their lives and are ever ready to forget themselves and sacrifice their own personal interest in order to do good to others. He who leaves ‘love for others’ out of his life-plan, leaves God out too, for love is the first thing in Godlikeness.

When we speak of kindness, we think not so much of ‘large’ things as of the ‘little’ things of thoughtfulness and gentleness, which one may do along life’s way. There are people who now and then do some great thing of which everybody speaks—but whose common days are empty of love’s personal ministries. There are men who give large sums of money to found or endow institutions—but who have scarcely ever been known to do a kindly deed to a poor man or to one in trouble or need, and who fail altogether in love’s sweet spirit in their own homes and among their own companions.

Is it not better that we shall have a gentle heart, which will prompt us to unbroken kindliness in word and deed—than that once in a great while we should do some conspicuous act of charity; living, meanwhile, in all our common relations—a cold, selfish, unsympathetic, ungentle and loveless life?

There are men and women who have learned so well the lesson of love taught by the Master—that all along their path, a ministry of kindness is wrought by them, which brightens and blesses the lives of all who come within their influence. Their course through this world is like that of a river across a desert whose banks are fringed with green. Like the Master, they literally go about doing good. They have a genius for kindness. They are ever doing thoughtful little things which add to the world’s sweetness and happiness.

Once in crossing a meadow, I came to a spot that was filled with fragrance. Yet I could see no flowers, and I wondered whence the fragrance came. At last I found, low down, close to the ground—hidden by the tall grass, innumerable little flowers growing. It was from these, that the fragrance came.

It is just so, when you enter some homes. There is a rich perfume of love that pervades all the place. It may be a home of wealth and luxury, or it may be plain and bare. It does not matter—it is not the house, nor the furniture, nor the adornment that makes the air of sweetness. You look closely. It is a gentle woman, mother or daughter, quiet, lowly, hiding herself away—from whose life the fragrance flows. She may not be beautiful, may not be specially well-educated, may not be musical, nor an artist, nor ‘clever’ in any way; but wherever she moves—she leaves a blessing. Her sweet patience is never disturbed by the sharp words that fall around her. The children love her—because she never tires of them. She helps them with their lessons, listens to their frets and worries, mends their broken toys, makes dolls’ dresses for them, straightens out their tangles, settles their little quarrels, and finds time to play with them. When there is sickness in the home—she is the angel of comfort. Her face is always bright—with the outshining of love. Her voice has music in it as it falls in cheerful tenderness on a sufferer’s ear. Her hands are wondrously gentle as their soothing touch rests on the aching head, or as they minister in countless ways about the bed of pain.

A young woman who had passed through deep sorrows, said to a friend one day, in speaking of the comfort certain people had given her unconsciously, “I wish some people knew just how much their faces can comfort another! I often ride down in the same street-car with your father, and it has been such a help to me to sit next to him. There is something so good and strong and kind about him, it has been a comfort just to feel he was beside me. Sometimes, when I have been utterly depressed and discouraged, he has seemed somehow to know just the right word to say to me; but if he didn’t talk, why, I just looked at his face, and that helped me. He probably has not the least idea of it, either, for I know him so slightly, and I don’t suppose people half realize, anyway, how much they are helping or hindering others!”

There is a great deal of this unconscious kindness in the world. Moses did not know that his face shone. The best people are not aware of their goodness. According to the old legend, it was only when it fell behind him, where he could not see it, that the saintly man’s shadow healed the sick. This is a parable. Kindness that is aware of itself—has lost much of its charm. Kindnesses that are done unconsciously, mean the most.

It is one of the blessings of pain or suffering—that it softens hearts, and woos out gentleness and kindness. A very common experience is given in the story of a worker in one of the slums, which tells of a whole family completely changed through the influence of a deformed child who became the angel of the home. The father was a drudge, the children were coarse and uncouth, and the mother, overworked and far from strong, had fallen into untidy habits. But there was born into that home—a crippled child, and she was the means of drawing out the sympathy, love, and tenderness of the whole family. The father nursed and petted his child in the evenings; the boys made playthings for her, and showed their affection in all sorts of pleasant ways; the mother kept the window clean, that her child, pillowed on the table, might look out on the court. Thus a large and blessed ministry of kindness was inspired by what seemed a misfortune. The suffering of a child transformed all the household life, making each heart gentler, sweeter, more thoughtful, more unselfish.

It is often so. Many a sweet home owes most of its sweetness, to a quiet, patient sufferer, whose pain has been the messenger of God to soften hearts and enrich common lives with heavenly tenderness.

One good rule of kindness, is never to allow a day to pass in which someone has not been made a little happier. We fail to realize, too, how much happiness even very little things give. It may be only a word of cheer, as we meet a neighbor on the street, or an inquiry at the door when one is sick, or a note of sympathy when there is trouble in the home, or a simple remembrance on a birthday or an anniversary. Such seeming trifles, costing nothing but thoughtfulness and an expression of love—are life and cheer to those to whom they come. They make the world a sweeter place to live in. They make burdens lighter, rough paths smoother, hard toil easier, loneliness more endurable.

Whatever else we may do or may not do—we should certainly train ourselves to be kind. It may not be an easy lesson to learn, for its secret is forgetting ourselves and thinking of others—and this is always hard. But it can be learned. To begin with, there must be a gentle heart—to inspire the gentle life. We must love people—if we do not, no training, no following of rules, will ever make us kind. But if the heart is full of the love of Christ, the disposition will be loving, and it will need no rules—to teach the lips to speak ever gracious words, and the hands to do always the things of kindness—and to do them always at the right time. Too many wait until it is too late—to be kind.

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

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

J. R. Miller, 1902
GRACE GEMS

 

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Getting Help From Criticism

Perfection in life and character, should be the aim of every Christian. Our prayer should ever be, to be fashioned into spotless beauty. No matter what the cost may be, we should never shrink from anything which will teach us a new lesson, or put a new touch of loveliness into our character.

We get our lessons from many teachers. We read in books, fair lines which set holy tasks of attainment for us. We see in other lives, lovely things which inspire in us noble longings. We learn by experience, and we grow by exercise. We may get many a lesson, too, from those among whom we live. People ought to be a means of grace to us. Mere contact of life with life—is refining and stimulating. “Iron sharpens iron—so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

The world is not always friendly to us. It is not disposed always to pat us on the back, or to pet and praise us. One of the first things a young man learns, when he pushes out from his own home, where everybody dotes on him—is that he must submit to criticism and opposition. Not all he does receives commendation. But this very condition is healthful. Our growth is much more wholesome in such an atmosphere, than where we have only adulation and praise.

We ought to get profit from criticism. Two pairs of eyes should see more than one. None of us have all the wisdom there is in the world. However wise any of us may be, there are others who know some things better than we know them, and who can make valuable and helpful suggestions to us—at least concerning some points of our work. The shoemaker never could have painted the picture—but he could criticize the buckle when he stood before the canvas which the great artist had covered with his noble creations; and the artist was wise enough to welcome the criticism and quickly amend his picture, to make it correct. Of course the shoemaker knows more about shoes, and the tailor or the dressmaker more about clothes, and the furniture-maker more about furniture, than the artist does. The criticisms of these artisans on the things in their own special lines, ought to be of great value to the artist, and he would be a very foolish painter who would sneer at their suggestions and refuse to profit by them.

The same is true in other things besides are. No one’s knowledge is really universal. None of us know more than a few fragments of the great mass of knowledge. There are some things somebody else knows better than you do, however wide your range of learning may be. There are very humble people who could give you suggestions well worth taking on certain matters concerning which they have more correct knowledge than you have. If you wish to make your work perfect you most condescend to take hints and information from anyone and everyone who may be ready to give it to you.

It is true, also, that others can see faults and imperfections in us—which we ourselves cannot see. We are too closely identified with our own life and work to be unprejudiced observers or just critics. We can never make the most and the best of our life, if we refuse to be taught by other than ourselves. A really self-made man is very poorly made, because he is the product of only one man’s thought. The strong things in his own individuality are likely to be emphasized to such a degree that they become idiosyncrasies, while on other sides his character is left defective. The best-made man is the one who in his formative years has the benefit of wholesome criticism. His life is developed on all sides. Faults are corrected. His nature is restrained at the points where the tendency is to overgrowth, while points of weakness are strengthened. We all need, not only as a part of our education, but in all our life and work—the corrective influence of the opinions and suggestions of others.

But in order to get profit from criticism, we must relate ourselves to it in a sympathetic and receptive way. We must be ready to hear and give hospitable thought to the things that others may say of us and of what we are doing. Some people are only hurt, never helped, by criticism, even when it is most sincere. They regard it always as unkindly—and meet it with a bitter feeling. They resent it, from whatever source it may come, and in whatever form—as something impertinent. They regard it as unfriendly, as a personal assault against which they must defend themselves. They seem to think of their own life as something fenced about by such sanctities, that no other person can with propriety offer even a suggestion concerning anything that is theirs, unless it is in the way of commendation. They have such opinions of the infallibility of their own judgment, and the flawless excellence of their own performance, that it seems never to occur to them as a possibility, that the judgment of others might add further wisdom, or point out anything better. So they utterly refuse to accept criticism, however kindly, or any suggestion which looks to anything different from what they have done.

We all know people of this kind. So long as others will compliment them on their work, they give respectful attention and are pleased; but the moment a criticism is made, however slight, or even the question whether something else would not be an improvement is asked, they are offended. They regard as an enemy anyone who even intimates disapproval; or who hints, however delicately, that this or that might be otherwise.

It is hard to maintain cordial relations of friendship with such people, for no one cares to be forbidden to express an opinion which is not an echo of another’s. Not many people will take the trouble to keep a lock on the door of their lips all the while, for fear of offending a self-conceited friend. Subsequently, one who rejects and resents all criticism, cuts himself off from one of the best means of growth and improvement. He is no longer teachable, and, therefore, is no longer a learner. He would rather keep his faults, than be humbled by being told of them in order to have them corrected. So he pays no heed to what any person has to say about his work, and gets no benefit whatever from the opinions and judgments of others.

Such a spirit is very unwise. Infinitely better is it, that we keep ourselves always ready to receive instruction from every source. We are not making the most of our life—if we are not eager to do our best in whatever we do, and to make constant progress in our doings. In order to do this, we must continually be made aware of the imperfections of our performances, that we may correct them. No doubt it hurts our pride to be told of our faults—but we would better let the pain work amendment, than work resentment. Really, we ought to be thankful to anyone who shows us a blemish in our life, which we then can have removed. No friend is truer and kinder to us—than be who does this, for he helps us to grow into nobler and more beautiful character.

Of course there are different ways of pointing out a fault. One person does it bluntly and harshly, almost rudely. Another will find a way to make us aware of our faults without causing us any felling of humiliation. Doubtless it is more pleasant to have our correction come in this gentle way. It is also the more Christian way to give it. Great wisdom is required in those who would point out faults in others. They need deep love in their own heart, that they may truly seek the good of those in whom they detect the 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 sharp 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.

Harm is done ofttimes, by the lack of this spirit in those whose duty it is to teach others. Paul enjoins fathers not to provoke their children to anger, lest they be discouraged. There are parents who are continually telling their children of their faults, as if their whole existence were a dreary and impertinent mistake, and as if parents can fulfill their duty to their children only by continually nagging at them and scolding them.

Those who are anointed to train and teach the young, have a tremendous responsibility for the wise and loving exercise of the power that is theirs. We should never criticize or correct—but 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 tell him of his faults.

But while this is the Christian way for all who would make criticisms of others, it is true also, that however we learn of our faults, however ungentle and unsympathetic the person may be who makes us aware of them—we would better accept the correction in a humble, loving way and profit by it. 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 severe 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 correct our deficiency. 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 better, nobler life, or to a higher and finer achievement.

There are people whose criticisms are not such as can profit us. It is easy to find fault, even with the noblest work. Then there are those who are instinctive fault-finders, regarding it as their privilege, almost their duty—to give an opinion on every subject which comes before them—and to offer some criticism on every piece of work that they see. Their opinions, however, are usually valueless, and ofttimes it requires much patience to receive them graciously, without showing irritation. But even in such cases, when compelled to listen to unjust and harsh criticisms from those who know nothing whatever of the matters concerning which they speak so authoritatively, we would do well to receive all criticisms and suggestions in good temper and without impatience.

An interesting story of Michael Angelo is related, which illustrates the wise way of treating even ignorant, meddlesome, and impertinent criticism. When the artist’s great statue of David was placed for the first time in the Plaza in Florence, all the people were hushed in wonder before its noble majesty—all except Soderinni. This man looked at the statue from different points of view with a wise, critical air, and then suggested that the nose was a little too long. The great sculptor listened quietly to the suggestion, and taking his chisel and mallet, he set a ladder against the stature, in order to reach the face, and climbed up, carrying a little marble dust in his hand. Then he seemed to be working carefully upon the objectionable feature, as if changing it to suit his critic’s taste, letting the marble dust fall as he wrought. When he came down Soderinni again looked at the figure, now from this point of view and then from that, at last expressing entire approval. His suggestion had been accepted, as he supposed, and he was satisfied.

The story furnishes a good illustration of a great deal of fault-finding to which we must listen. It is unintelligent and valueless. But it cannot be restrained. There is not subject under heaven on which these wise people do not claim to have a right to express an opinion, and there is no work so perfect that they cannot point out where it is faulty and might be improved. They are awed by no greatness. Such criticisms are worthy only of contempt, and such critics do not deserve courteous attention. But it is better that we treat them with patience. It helps at least in our own self-discipline, and it is the nobler way.

This, then, is the lesson—that we should not resent criticism whether it be made in a kindly or in an unkindly way; that we should be eager and willing to learn form anyone, since even the humblest and most ignorant man knows something better than we do, and is able to be our teacher at some point; that the truth always should be welcomed—especially the truth about ourselves, that which affects our own life and work—however it may wound our pride and humble us, or however its manner of coming to us may hurt us; and that the moment we learn of anything that is not beautiful in us—we should seek its correction. Thus alone, can we ever reach the best things in character, or in achievement.

J.R. Miller, 1894
GRACE GEMS

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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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