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Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Tender Mercies of God

The Tender Mercies of God


The Tender Mercies of God
by Edward Griffin
"I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness towards the house of Israel which he has bestowed on them, according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses." Isaiah 63:7
The prophet, when he uttered these words, appeared to labor under an ineffable sense of the tender mercies and loving kindnesses of his God. He had been contemplating the wrath with which God would one day visit Edom when he would come to deliver his people from her oppressions. Immediately he raises an interesting contrast, and sets before his eyes God's "great goodness towards the house of Israel" in loosing their Egyptian bonds and conducting them through the wilderness. In this type as through a glass, he revealed the wondrous love which redeems the Church from more oppressive chains, and supports her in her journey to the heavenly rest. Under this view he seemed transported, and in his rapture exclaimed, "I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness towards the house of Israel which he has bestowed on them, according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses."
Though we could not raise our eyes to the exalted love which shines in the Gospel, still we would have abundant reason to mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord. Without any adviser or helper he introduced us to rational existence, and raised us to intellectual enjoyment. By his unceasing care, that existence is hourly supported. Our table is furnished and our clothing supplied by his gracious hand. We are blessed with pleasant habitations and possessions; we enjoy the delights of refined society, the blessings of friendship, and the life and happiness of our friends. Our health is sustained by a thousand minute and constantly repeated touches of his hand to the various parts of our complicated machine. All the pleasures of imagination, of memory, of hope, of sympathy, and of sense; all the magic charms which play on nature's face, are the gifts of his bounteous hand. By his watchful care, we are protected from countless visible and unseen dangers. By innumerable impressions made on our animal spirits by his careful touch, we are put in tone to enjoy the objects around us. More numerous are his mercies—than the stars which look out of heaven. On no section of our life—on no point of nature's works—scarcely on a circumstance in our relations to society, can we fix our eyes, without seeing "the loving kindnesses of the Lord."
But when we lift our thoughts to his "great goodness towards the house of Israel," our souls faint under the labor of expressing the praise we owe. Redeeming grace most fully displays the richness and extent of his loving kindnesses; redeeming grace was the theme which transported the author of our text; and redeeming grace shall be the subject of this discourse.
To discover the heights or to fathom the depths of this grace, exceeds the power of men or angels; yet the view perhaps may be enlightened by some of the following reflections.
In purposing and planning the great work of redemption, the Eternal Mind was self-moved, uncounselled, unsolicited. No angel interceded or advised; no man by his prayers or tears excited pity. Before men or angels had existence, the purpose was fixed and the plan was formed by boundless love—unmoved, unasked, untempted by anything without, but the foreseen miseries of a perishing world.
This love was wholly unselfish, having no reward in view but the pleasure of doing good. What other recompense could God expect from creatures who have nothing to give, but what they receive? What other reward could eternal self-sufficience need?
This love is still more sublime, considered as acting towards inferiors. When love is not the most pure, we daily see, it will overlook those who have no eminence to engage respect. On this account the condescending regard which some benevolent prince may pay to the poor and forsaken, is peculiarly affecting. What then shall we say when we behold Infinite Majesty descending to such tender concern for dust and ashes?
Redeeming love is still more wonderful as exercised towards enemies; towards those who could reject the offered salvation—who were not to be moved by all the entreaties of heaven—and who had malice enough to murder the Author of life in the very act of bringing it to them!
This love appears altogether astonishing when we consider the greatness of the sacrifice it made. That God himself, (infinite, eternal, and self-sufficient as he was,) should bring himself down to a mortal form; that he who made the heavens should descend from among the adorations of angels to assume the form of a servant and to receive the spittings of Roman soldiers; that he should exchange the quiet of eternal repose—for a laborious life, the abodes of inaccessible light—for the degrading manger; the society of the Father and Spirit—for that of illiterate fishermen; the heights of infinite bliss—for the agonies of Gethsemane and Golgotha—and all to atone for abuses which he himself had received from men! This fixes angels in astonishment and rivets their eyes to him who still bears the prints of the nails and the spear. That this divine Sufferer did not withdraw, but remained immovable in his purpose in a near view of his agonies; that he did not strike his insulting murderers to hell, but spent his expiring breath in prayer for their life; evinces, not love only, but love unconquerable.
The extent of redeeming love further appears in the magnitude of the blessings which it intended for a ruined race. It stooped to catch a falling world; to snatch them from eternal flames—to the transports of immortal life; from everlasting contempt—to be "kings and priests" forever "unto God"; to raise them from the depravity of sin—to the purity of the divine image; from a dungeon—to the radiance of heaven; from the society of devils—to communion with angels; from the blasphemies of hell—to the songs of paradise; from universal destitution—to inherit all riches; to be sons and heirs of God, members of the Redeemer's body; to live in his family and heart, and forever to expand in the regions of light and life.
This mercy is heightened by the fact that the Savior is so necessary, reasonable, and all-sufficient. Entrusted with all the offices needful for man's redemption, he possesses powers fully adequate to the infinite work, and exerts them when and where they are most needed. It is his stated business to strike off the chains from wretched prisoners—to administer balm to those who are wounded to death, food to those who are perishing with hunger—eyes and light to the blind and benighted. He is the "shadow of a great rock in a weary land," — "a hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest."
In his prophetic office he brings out to view the secrets of the Eternal Mind. As a Priest he pacifies divine wrath by atonement and intercession. As a King he subdues the stubborn will, marks out the road to life by beneficial precepts, defends from spiritual enemies, and renders all events subservient to the good of his people. As Captain of the Lord's army, he will carry them through their warfare and bring them off victorious. As Physician of souls he will heal all their spiritual maladies and confirm them in immortal health. He is a most pleasant resting place from the perturbations of guilt, the vexations of care, and the anguish of affliction. Possessing inexhaustible life in himself, he is the source of unfailing life to his members, who before were "dead in trespasses and sins." As "Heir of all things" and Distributer of the whole estate, he has every necessary good to impart in this world and infinite riches in the world to come.
This mercy is still further heightened by the patience and condescending tenderness which he exercises towards his people. He calls them his friends, his brethren, his children, his spouse, the members of his body, the apple of his eye. In the character of a near and tender relation, he has become a mild medium through which they may look up into the transcendent splendors of the Godhead without dazzling or paining their sight. Although the awesome God of majesty, he is not ashamed to own and befriend a poor race of unsightly outcasts and to take them into union with himself. With unconquerable patience he bears with all their provocations, and with unfailing faithfulness remains their friend during all their perverseness and ingratitude. Though their returns are such as would weary any other love, he is still engaged in pardoning their sins, subduing their corruptions, and conducting them to glory.
As a tender Shepherd he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them in his bosom. And O with what overpowering kindness does he speak to them when he holds communion with them, when he meets them in a happy hour as they are walking out like Isaac to meditate at the evening tide, and drawing aside the veil, shows the sweetest countenance dressed in celestial smiles; or when finding them bowed to the earth and drenched in tears—he gently raises them in his arms, and with more than a mother's tenderness wipes the sorrows from their cheeks and breathes ineffable consolation into their spirits. You who have known his love, can witness the ineffable sweetness with which he manifests himself at such seasons. In his providence he takes care to allow no real evil to befall his people, to withhold from them no real good, and to make them the happier for every event. And when this trying life is past, he will receive them to his own presence, to a near and ever increasing union to himself, where perfect and reciprocal love, shall hold immortal reign.
This wondrous mercy is further expressed in the gift of his written Word. When we perceive the breathings of divine love in those precious Scriptures which were inspired by the Holy Spirit; when the soul lies at some divine promise, drinking in immortal refreshment, and filling itself as from some celestial spring—O how rich and vast does the love of God appear.
Fresh evidences of this love spring up at every review of his past providence towards the Church. "In his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and he bore them and carried them all the days of old." The preservation of Noah in the ark, the call and protection of Abraham, the deliverance of the Church from Egypt, its support in the wilderness and establishment in Canaan, the numerous deliverances wrought for Israel, their restoration from Babylon, the establishment and astonishing growth of the Christian Church, its protection during the successive persecutions, and the continued efforts of the Spirit to preserve and enlarge it, are all monuments of amazing love and faithfulness. And when we cast our eyes down the slope of ages and behold the glory of Zion filling all the earth, how do we rejoice, and think the bliss too great to be real. And then, when we open the Scriptures and behold a "Thus says the Lord" expressly to confirm our hopes, with what rapturous gratitude do we make our boast of him; "Lo this is our God, we have waited for him and he will save us: this is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
All these are the more affecting, as being marks of distinguishing love. Redeeming grace passed by the fallen angels—to bring salvation to men. The privileges of Gospel light and ordinances were taken from the heathen to be given to us. The blessings of personal holiness and divine communion are conferred on the people of God—while withheld from the rest of the world. Our lives are continued in a world of hope—while millions are called to their last account. While God was preserving the Hebrew Church and nourishing it with a Father's care—Edom, Moab, and Ammon were given to the sword. And while angels sing only of the goodness of the Lord, the redeemed will shout "gracegrace," and with higher notes and ecstasies chant the praises of redeeming love.
The grace of God appears still greater—as being abundant and free for all. The language of divine compassion is, "Ho everyone that thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat; yes come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
Having drawn this outline of the mercies of God, I shall now present them as motives to holy feelings and practical godliness.
What admiration should possess our minds—as we contemplate this wonderful love of God. Nothing in the universe is so amazing. Not an angel in heaven but lives in astonishment continually. And yet it is infinitely greater than ever Gabriel imagined. As the sublime intellects of the upper world expand, it will appear more and more amazing to eternity.
And while we wonder, let gratitude fill our hearts. Of what avail is our admiration without our thanks? It would only bring us to the condition of those who "gaze and wonder and perish." What are our hearts made of—if they can lie under the weight of all these obligations and be unthankful still? Let us retain a sense of divine mercies always upon our heart, and not allow them, after a transient impression, to pass off into oblivion. Let not the blessings of former years be forgotten, but let them frequently be brought in review before us, that we may never cease to remember how much we owe to our Lord.
To lasting gratitude—let lasting love be added. What infinite beauty and worth belong to Israel's God. And shall we be thankful for personal favors—and not love the benevolence which embraces the universe? This would be only the contracted gratitude of a heart—which can be engaged by nothing but the loaves and fishes.
Let it be our daily joy that the universe contains such a God—a God whose happiness consists in doing good, and who is executing so vast a plan for the promotion of creature happiness, that he already realizes infinite blessedness in gratified benevolence. Let universal joy catch from heart to heart and circulate through heaven and earth that such a God lives, reigns, and is happy. Let this be our morning and our evening song. Let it break in like the dawn of day upon our gloomy hours; and like the sinking but recovered David, let us be transported with the thought, "But you, O Lord, shall endure forever, and your remembrance unto all generations!"
To such a God our highest praise belongs. He is the object of the incessant and rapturous praise of all the choirs of paradise—and shall men neglect their harps? In the warm transports of David's heavenly muse, let us invoke the sun and all the orbs of light, the earth and all the things thereon, the heavens and all their happy spirits, to praise the Lord—to praise him in the heights and in the depths—to praise him with the voice of song, and with all the varieties of instrumental harmony.
Let such a God be the supreme object of our faith, our hope, our confidence. On him let us place our dependance for everything we need for time and eternity. Renouncing this delusive world and every idol which would rival him in our hearts, let us make him our only point of rest, our only portion. Let him be the object of our daily and cheerful worship. Let hypocrisy be banished from our religion, and let sincerity mark our worship of him whose friendship for man has been so sincere. Disclaiming all self-seeking, after his unselfish love to us, let us live only for him; and in duty to one who so greatly denied himself for us, let us largely practice self-denial. Henceforth let us consecrate ourselves to the service of him who served us in death; and by our obedience to all his commands attest the sincerity of our love and gratitude.
God forbid that we should be ashamed to confess him before men—who was not ashamed to own and befriend us before his Father and the holy angels; or that we should fail to speak to a listening world of his excellent greatness and his excellent loving kindness. It befits us to imitate his devotedness to the glory of God and the happiness of men; to put on sincere mercy and kindness, forbearing one another in love, doing good to all as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith; condescending to men of low degree, meek and gentle to all, affable, courteous, and obliging, ready to forgive injuries, given to hospitality, and generous in distributing to the poor the gifts of a generous God.
To the dominion of enthroned love—it befits us to submit; resigning all our interests to the divine disposal, and enduring with patience and not with petulance, whatever such a God is pleased to impose.
Against such a God it is that we have been found in arms. O "tell it not in Gath." Under the weight of all these obligations we have risen up to oppose unbounded love. Alas we knew not what we did. In vain might our tears and blood be applied to efface stains so ignominious and deep. Well may we go softly all our years in the bitterness of our soul. Let pride never again appear in natures capable of this. Let humility and brokenness of heart mark our future lives; and in sympathy with the publican let us smite on our guilty breasts and cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
And since our crimes are of so deep a die that nothing but atoning blood can wash them out, and since such infinite pains have been taken to provide a Savior for us—a Savior every way suited to our needs; let us gratefully seize the offered salvation and cast ourselves on him as the only ground of hope. And then, "though our sins be as scarlet—they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson—they shall be as white as wool."
Ah sinners, how long will you slight such endearing love and reject such heaven-astonishing mercy? How long shall infinite tenderness be grieved at your ingratitude? Why will you treat with abuse that excellence which angels adore? Why will you tread under foot that love which dissolves all heaven? When will you at length be wise, and for once, after so long a time, act like sincere creatures? Let the goodness of God lead us all to repentance, and let us spend our days in making mention of the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and in preparing to unite with the redeemed in singing, "Worthy is the lamb who was slain—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing."
"Now, unto him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever! Amen."

Saturday, April 14, 2018

God Sets No Limit (and others)

God Sets No Limit (and others)

"Let no man deceive you with vain words" (Ephesians 5:6)

Do you know that there are Bible "interpreters" now who believe they can set up rules as to how much we can have of God? However, the Lord Himself has promised that as far as He is concerned, He is willing to keep the candles of my soul brightly burning!

So, my heart tells me to ignore the modern scribes whose interpretations, I fear, are forcing the Spirit, the blessed Dove, to fold His wings and be silent. I turn rather to one of Dr. A.B. Simpson's hymns rarely sung now, probably because very few believers have this experience of which he wrote:

I take the hand of love divine,
I count each precious promise mine
With this eternal countersign -
I take - He under takes!

I take Thee, blessed Lord,
I give myself to Thee;
And Thou, according to Thy Word
Dost undertake for me!

Lord, fill me anew with Your precious Spirit. I pray that others will see You living in me today. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~
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Explore God's Word

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart" (Psalm 119:11)

What a strange paradox! The atheistic freethinker rants and raves about the Bible being a  "dangerous" book at the very same time that the Word of God is speaking like to my soul!

Strange indeed that some humans have the idea that the Word of God can only be approached with shivering fears. But that is true only of those who love their sin and hate their Saviour.

The blessed truth is that if I have my sin and love my Saviour, the Word of God is a wonderful revelation, indeed, and a trustworthy guide.

We need to be aware always that if we do not keep the Word of God on our side, we will be miserable in our souls continually. It is up to us. What do we sincerely will to do with God and His revealed Word?

Years ago, the saintly George Mueller said he had read the Bible hundreds of times, and then he added: "with meditation!"

Let us see to it that we read the Word. More than that, we should actually explore it!

Thank You, Lord, for giving us Your Word. I pray that it will not only illuminate my own heart, but I pray for those translating the Word into other languages so that it will illumine theirs as well. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~
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Faith And Obedience

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13)

What is our answer to the many confused persons who keep asking: "How can we know that we have come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?"

First, we stand together on the basic truth that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. A second fact is that men and women are saved by faith in Christ alone, without works and without our merit.

However, the fact that Christ came to save sinners is not enough - that fact in itself cannot save us. Now in our day, the issues of believing faith and the gift of eternal life are clouded and confused by an "easy acceptance" that has been fatal to millions who may have stopped short in matters of faith and obedience.

Faith is believing and receiving, as in Acts 16:31: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"; and as in John 1:12: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."

I praise You, Lord, for accomplishing the mission for which You came to this earth. I pray today for my family members and coworkers who have not put their faith in You. Bring them to Yourself, Father. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~
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Salvation's Price

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6)

Too many Christian leaders, acting like enthusiastic promoters, are teaching that the essence of faith is this: "Come to Jesus - it will cost you nothing!"

The price has all been paid - "It will cost you nothing!"

Brethren, that is a dangerous half-truth. There is always a price connected with salvation and with discipleship.

God's grace is free, no doubt about that. No one in the wide world can make any human payment toward the plan of salvation or the forgiveness of sins.

I take issue on Bible grounds with the statement that "everyone in the world has faith - all you have to do is turn your faith loose."

That is truly a misconception of what the Bible teaches about men and God and faith. Actually, faith is a rare and wonderful plant that lives and grows only in the penitent soul.

The teaching that everyone has faith is simply a form of humanism in the guise of Christianity. I warn you that any faith that belongs to everybody is not the faith that saves. It is not that faith which is a gift of God to the broken and contrite heart!

Lord, I praise You for extending Your grace so freely to me. I repent of any sins I have committed, both knowingly and unknowingly. Help my faith in You to grow today. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Directions for Profitable Reading of Holy Scriptures

Directions for Profitable Reading of Holy Scriptures 

Seeing the diversity of men's tempers and understandings is so exceedingly great, that it is impossible that anything should be pleasing and suitable to some, which shall not be disliked and quarreled with by others; and seeing in the Scriptures, that there are many things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest to their own destruction, 2 Peter 3:16; and the Word is to some the savor of death unto death, 2 Corinthians 2:16 - you have therefore need to be careful in reading it. And as Christ says, "Take heed how you hear," Luke 8:18; so I say, Take heed how you read!

Direction 1

Bring not an evil heart of unbelief to Scripture. Open the Bible with holy reverence as the book of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Remember that the doctrine of the New Testament was revealed by the Son of God, who was purposely sent from Heaven to be the light of the world, and to make known to men the will of God, and the matters of their salvation. Ponder carefully, if God should but send a book or letter to you by an angel - how reverently you would receive it! How carefully you would peruse it - and regard it above all the books in the world! And how much rather should you do so, by that book which is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and records the doctrine of Christ Himself, whose authority is greater than all the angels! Read it not therefore as a common book, with a common and irreverent heart - but in the dread and love of God the author.

Direction 2

Remember that Scripture is the very Word of God which you must live by, and be judged by at last. And therefore read with a full resolution to obey whatever it commands, though flesh, and men, and devils contradict it. Let there be no secret exceptions in your heart, to balk at any of its precepts, and rationalize that part of obedience which the flesh accounts difficult or dear.

Direction 3

Remember that Scripture is the will and testament of your Lord, and the covenant of most full and gracious promises; which all your comforts, and all your hopes of pardon and everlasting life, are built upon. Read it therefore with love and great delight. Value it a thousand fold more than you would do the letters of your dearest friend, or the deeds by which you hold your lands, or anything else of low concernment. If the law was sweeter to David than honey, and better than thousands of gold and silver, and was his delight and meditation all the day - then oh, what should the sweetest and precious gospel be to us!

Direction 4

Remember that Scripture is a doctrine of unseen things, and of the greatest mysteries; and therefore come not to it with arrogance as a judge, but with humility as a learner or disciple. And if anything seems difficult or impossible to you, suspect your own limited understanding - and not the sacred Word of God. If a learner in any art or science, will suspect his teacher and his books, whenever he is confused, or meets with that which seems unlikely to him - his pride would keep possession for his ignorance, and his folly were likely to be incurable.

Direction 5

Remember that Scripture is a universal standard and doctrine, written for the most ignorant, as well as for the curious; and therefore must be suited in plainness, to the capacity of the simple - and yet have matter to exercise the most subtle wits; and that God would have the style to savor more of the innocent weakness of the instruments, than the matter. Therefore be not troubled when the style does seem less polite than you might think befit the Holy Spirit; nor at the plainness of some parts, or the mysteriousness of others; but adore the wisdom and tender condescension of God to his poor creatures.

Direction 6

Bring not a carnal mind, which savors only fleshly things, and is enslaved to those sins which the Scripture condemns; "For the carnal mind is enmity against God, and neither is nor can be subject to his law," Romans 8: 7, 8. "The things of God are not discerned by the mere natural man, for they are foolishness to him, and they must be spiritually discerned," 2 Corinthians 2:14 - and enmity is an ill expositor.

The carnal mind will be quarreling with all, and making faults in the Word, which finds so many faults in you. It will hate that Word which comes to deprive you of your most sweet and dearly beloved sin. Or, if you have such a carnal mind and enmity, believe it not, any more than a partial and wicked enemy should be believed against God Himself; who better understands what He has written, than any of His foolish enemies.

Direction 7

Compare one place of Scripture with another, and expound the darkest place - by the light of the plainest, and the fewer expressions - by the more frequent and ordinary, and the more doubtful points - by those which are most certain; and not on the contrary.

Direction 8

Presume not on the strength of your own understanding, but humbly pray to God for light; and before and after you read the Scripture, pray earnestly that the Spirit which inspired it - may expound it to you, and keep you from unbelief and error, and lead you into the truth.

Direction 9

Read some of the best commentators or expositors; who being better acquainted with the phrase of the Scripture than yourselves, may help to clear your understanding. When Philip asked the eunuch who read Isaiah 53 "Do you understand what you read?" he said, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" Acts 8:30, 31. Make faithful commentators your guides, if you would not err.

Direction 10

When you are stalled by any difficulty which over-matches you, note it down, and ask your pastor for his help; or (if the minister of that place is ignorant and unable) go to someone who God has furnished for such work. And if, after all, some things remain still dark and difficult, remember your own ignorance, and wait on God for further light, and thankfully make use of all the rest of the Scripture which is plain. And do not thing as the papists, that men must refrain from reading Scripture for fear of erring - any more than that men must forbear eating for fear of poison - or that subjects must be kept ignorant of the laws of the king, for fear of misunderstanding or abusing them.

~Richard Baxter~

(The End)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Favorite Pastor Quotes 10

Favorite Pastor Quotes 10


It may be turned to good account--or it may be wasted, or misspent

(Ashton Oxenden, "
The Touchstone of Opportunity")

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

To use our time well and wisely, is a matter of the greatest importance--for oh, how quickly is it passing away! We should seize our opportunities while they exist, and 'gather up the fragments which remain, that nothing be lost.'

The value of time--its exceeding preciousness--is beyond measure. Our days and hours hasten by, never to return. They are like water, which, when once spilt, cannot be gathered up again. They are like the rays of the sun, which at the moment may warm and invigorate us, but cannot be laid up for future use. Our lives are very short at best--and on the manner in which they are spent, will depend our condition forever.

Who can say how important is every moment which is given to us? It may be turned to good account--or it may be wasted, or misspent. No wonder then that we are charged, 'Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise'--like travelers on a dangerous road, looking around them on every side, and prepared for any difficulty which may suddenly arise. We should live cautiously and carefully, 'making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.'

What shall we say of those who let days, and months, and years pass--without thinking of anything beyond their own ease and enjoyment? Time is to them as a tale that is told, which is soon forgotten. It is like a vapor, which rises before them--but is speedily swept away, and is gone forever. One day is like another--all equally unprofitable--all gone to waste--nothing done for God or for eternity--a number of precious opportunities, but not one of them improved! We have, many of us, done but little in the way of 'redeeming the time.' We have allowed it to pass by unimproved.

Bear in mind then that we all have our opportunities--opportunities of doing good, opportunities of benefitting our fellow-creatures, opportunities of doing some work for God--and for every one of these opportunities, we must give an account.

Again, our time is very, very short--and all depends upon the right employment of it. Remember that our time is becoming shorter every day!

"So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.Psalm 90:12

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It is only the humble who can feel the value of a Savior!(Ashton Oxenden, "The Touchstone of Humility")

A humble Christian will feel that he owes everything to God's grace and love. This was Paul's feeling:
'By the grace of God, I am what I am.'
'To me, who am less than the least of all saints--is this grace given.'

No one can be said to be really humble, unless he is fully persuaded that he has no merit whatever of his own. When anyone feels himself to be vile and sinful, and is convinced that he deserves nothing but eternal damnation--then how wonderful and glorious does the love of God appear in providing salvation for him!

Now, can you feel this? Can you say, "Thank God for having taught me this. I see it clearly. I am nothing--and infinite mercy alone can save me from the Hell I so truly deserve!"

I am certain of this--that it is only the humble who can feel the value of a Savior, and who will cordially and thankfully accept His offers of mercy. One of the first things therefore that the gospel of Christ does for us is . . .
  to humble us;
  to show us what we are--and what we deserve;
  to strip us of all our false coverings; and
  to place Christ before us as the only refuge for penitent sinners!

Well indeed it is, if your heart has been thus humbled--so that you feel inclined to lie low at the feet of Jesus, and to cling to His precious cross alone for safety.

I need not ask whether Christ is dear to you. He must be--for now that you are enabled to lay hold of Him by faith, you would not for the whole world exchange your treasure! You may be poor--but you can hardly call it poverty if you possess Christ. You may have trialsand sorrows--but how light is every one of them, now that you can feel you have a dear Friend by your side, who can turn all your sorrows into joys!

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I tremble for the amount of worldliness which prevails in some professing Christian families!


(Ashton Oxenden, "Worldliness!")

I tremble for the amount of worldliness which prevails in some professing Christian families! There is a great danger, lest pleasure and excitement should be regarded as the one object to be sought after--lest Jesus should be robbed of His true allegiance, and hearts, born for higher and better things--should be drawn down to earth, and riveted there by a chain which is not easily broken!

Oh, how soon, how fatally soon--we pass, imperceptibly perhaps, from things lawful to those which are doubtful--and then a step further, to those which are positively sinful! How soon does the heart, in which there was once a spark of the love of Christ--become chilled and warped by its contact with the world! How soon does the reading of light and frivolous books take the place of that precious Word, which is truth itself! And how soon is communion with God, exchanged for fellowship with the world!

I do indeed tremble for those who are dreaming away the best portion of their lives, who are spending them in vanity and emptiness--and will one day wake up with the miserable feeling that they have lived to no real purpose!

Did our Lord live thus, when here on earth? Did the early Christians live thus? Then we cannot live thus. No, unless we are willing to give up the Savior, whom we have pledged ourselves to follow, and the glorious inheritance we profess to be living for!

The question is: Are we candidates for everlasting happiness? If we are--then we must live, not for this world, but for eternity. Our hearts and our treasure must be there!

But there is a danger into which some fall. There are some people who imagine that they are giving up the world--when, in fact, they are merely transferring their attachment from one class of worldliness to fix it upon another. Parties and theaters are perhaps put aside--when other amusements of a kindred nature, and scarcely less attractive, are indulged in. This however is not self-denial--it is still enjoying the world, though in another shape--it is turning aside from one kind of self-pleasing, that we may indulge in another.

How sad to think that our best and truest Friend should ever be forcibly excluded from our hearts--and the world with all its trifles let in!

Ought we not then, as followers of Christ, to stand aside from a thoughtless, trifling world? Is not the beaten path, sometimes an unsafe path? Is not the stream that flows the smoothest, sometimes nearest to the precipice? Take care lest you are gliding down the stream of this world--lest you are walking in the broad road which hundreds walk in, and then suddenly find out that it is the way of eternal destruction!

Another reason why we should not love the world, is because its joys are at best unsatisfying. They are like alcohol to a thirsty man, which only make him thirst the more. They will never satisfy his desire, but only feed it. The worldly man, whether he is seeking after earthly pleasures, or earthly gains--is ever seeing a paradise in the distance; but the nearer he approaches it, the more sure it is to vanish, like an optical illusion, from his sight. 

There is another reason why you should not love the world--and that is because it is only temporary--its joys and gains are merely for a time. There is a shifting, fleeting, fading character about them.

This world is but a tent, spread out for our present abode--Heaven is a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 

This world is but a passing shadow--Heaven an enduring substance. 

This world a pilgrimage--Heaven is a home. 

This world is a desert--Heaven a paradise. 

This world is a strange land--Heaven is the place of our citizenship. 

This world abounds with storms--Heaven is a universal calm. 

This world is full of changes--in Heaven our lot will be forever fixed. 

This world is the abode of sin, and shame, and sorrow--Heaven is a scene of holiness, of glory, and of God.

It is not, I know, easy to take a decided and unworldly course. It will cost you much. Your conduct will be carped at, and counted as folly. Yes, the stream is strong--and you must stem it. The way is steep and narrow--we do not deny it. But then how blessed it is to be following Christ! How safe are those who are walking closely by His side!

No, we cannot serve two masters! We cannot drink the cup of the Lord--and yet quaff the sweet but poisonous cup of the world!

Oh, remember, the world may be in your heart--though not in your actions! You may love the world, and secretly pine after it--though you have outwardly renounced it. It is a great thing to be honest with ourselves--for God is not mocked. If you really desire to follow Jesus and to renounce the world, you must mortify your earthly affections--and raise them to things above. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ--set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above--not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Favorite Pastor Quotes 9

Favorite Pastor Quotes 9



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Christian! Your trials, crosses, and conflicts are all temporary.
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I am one of those old-fashioned ministers who believe the whole Bible and everything that it contains.
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There are no lessons so useful--as those learned in the school of affliction.
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Christ is never fully valued--until sin is clearly seen.
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Our Lord has . . .
  many weak children in his family,
  many dull pupils in his school,
  many raw soldiers in his army,
  many lame sheep in his flock.
Yet He bears with them all, and casts none away.
Happy is that Christian who has learned to do likewise with his brethren.
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A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing. A cheap Christianity, without a cross--will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown.
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That preaching is sadly defective, which dwells exclusively on the mercies of God and the joys of Heaven--yet never sets forth the terrors of the Lord and the miseries of Hell.
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Sin forsaken--is one of the best evidences of sin forgiven.
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The Prayer of the Backslider
Francis Bourdillon
 
Jeremiah 14:7-9.
"Though our iniquities testify against us — act, O LORD, for your name's sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you. O you hope of Israel, its Savior in time of trouble — why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? Why should you be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot save? Yet you, O LORD, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name — do not leave us."
 
O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for Your Name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against You. O the hope of Israel, the Savior thereof in time of trouble, why should You be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turns aside to tarry for a night? Why should You be as a man astonished, as a mighty man that cannot save? Yet You, O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by Your Name; leave us not.
The prophet Jeremiah speaks here in the name of his people. He himself had not gone astray like them. Amid all the wickedness of Israel, he was the faithful servant of God. But he here pleads with God on their behalf, putting himself in their place, and making himself one of them. He begins with confession of sin: "Though our iniquities testify against us."
We must never try to hide our sins when we pray. We must approach God as sinners, with words of humble confession; owning all, seeking to keep nothing back. In drawing near to God, we must take our right place before Him. "Our iniquities testify against us." They do testify or bear witness against us continually. They are written in God's book of remembrance. There they stand against us in the sight of God, as so many witnesses that we are sinners. Whether we remember them or not, whether we are concerned for them or not — there they are. We ourselves cannot blot them out.
When a man is convinced of sin, then his iniquities testify against him also in his own heart. He never used to feel them — but now he feels them deeply. They come back to his mind, one by one. Old sins, long forgotten — he now remembers. Things that he did years ago — seem fresh in his memory. He sees how wrong, how ungrateful, he has been. He wonders that he has been spared. His sins are like a great burden — too heavy for him to bear.
Oh, the comfort of prayer to such a one! While David kept silence and made no confession of his sin — he was miserable. It was only when he acknowledged his sin unto God, that he found comfort (Psalm 32:3-5). How happy for us, that, notwithstanding our sins — we may yet seek mercy! "Though our iniquities testify against us — act, O LORD, for your name's sake." We may go to God in the depth of our distress. With all the weight of our sins upon us, we may seek relief from Him. "Sinner as I am — Lord have mercy upon me! As often as I have transgressed — yet forgive me Lord!" Do all that my case requires. Grant me pardon and peace. Take away my heavy sin burden. Forgive my sins. Comfort me, help me, and strengthen me.
"For Your Name's sake." This is our only plea. We cannot say, "Do it for my sake" — for we deserve nothing. We cannot even say, "Do it because I am miserable— do it because I am in great need of it — do it because I am lost without it." That may be all true — yet it forms no reason in itself why God should hear us.
But when we can say, "Act for Your Name's sake" — then we have a ground of hope; for then we rest our hope not upon ourselves or upon our misery and need — but upon God Himself.
The prayer of Jeremiah was before gospel days. We to whom the gospel has come, are encouraged to draw near to God in the Name of His dear Son Jesus Christ. He is our Mediator and Advocate. In His Name, all our prayers are to be made. It is not as a mere form that we are accustomed to end our prayers with the Name of Jesus, "through Jesus Christ our Lord," or "for Jesus Christ's sake." We are really to pray through Him — to rest our case upon His merits and mediation.
"For His sake" is to be the feeling of our hearts when we pray. We are to feel that in those words is contained the only reason why we may pray at all — and the only plea that gives us a hope of being heard!
Jesus Himself said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life — no man comes unto the Father but by Me." Happy for us that He said also, "If you shall ask anything in My Name — I will do it" (John 14:6, 14).
But the prophet in his prayer mentions backslidings as well as iniquities. Now there is something in backslidings that makes them seem to us even more hard to be forgiven than common sins. A backslider is one who once walked with God, but has now forsaken Him, or at least has grown cold and careless toward Him. A backslider is one who formerly sinned, repented, and was forgiven — but has now sinned again, and that worse perhaps than before.
It may be that this has happened repeatedly. It was so in Israel's case, for the prophet says, "Our backslidings are many." Will God forgive the backslider? Hear His own words: "Return, O backsliding Israel,' says the Lord; 'and I will not cause My anger to fall upon you — for I am merciful,' says the Lord, 'and I will not keep anger forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God" (Jeremiah 3:12-13).
And again: "I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely — for My anger is turned away from him" (Hosea 14:4).
Even the backslider then may draw near to God in the Name of Jesus Christ. His backslidings are a fresh reason for pleading that Name alone. He cannot plead that he will now serve God better and never fall away again — his past backslidings forbid it. He has nothing of his own to plead. He can but place his whole hope in his Savior's merits. "Act for Your Name's sake — for our backslidings are many — we have sinned against You."
How full of comfort are the names by which the prophet calls upon God! "O the hope of Israel, the Savior thereof in time of trouble!" God is our only hope — and Jesus is our only Savior. We may go astray from God and seek happiness from other sources; but if ever we would find true happiness and safety — then we must come back to God.
Trouble often brings the heart back to God and leads us again to cry to Him as our only hope and our only Savior. Often, in the day of adversity — we are led to see how vain are all other hopes — how little the world can do for us — and how poor is the comfort which the thought of our own doings can bring. Thus we are brought to our God and Savior, as our only refuge. He never fails those who trust in Him. He never turns away from those who earnestly seek Him. Even the backslider, taught by sad experience the evil of his backsliding — is not rejected when he again seeks God. Again he is allowed to call upon Him as his only hope. When all other help and comfort has failed — again he may seek help and comfort in Him.
Yet the prophet seems to address God as if He had become estranged from His people: "Why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night? Why should you be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot save?" Truly our sins and backslidings do make a distance and a strangeness between us and God. One who has left off walking with God feels this. He cannot pray as he used to pray. He no longer feels God near. He has no comforting sense of His grace and help. He knows that God is almighty — yet has no happy belief that God's power is put forth on his behalf. And even when he turns and seeks God again — he does not at once get back those happy feelings toward Him which once he had. Some comfort he finds, some sense of the mercy and love of his Savior — but not yet a settled peace. He has but a visit, a glimpse, a momentary comfort — "like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night"; he has not yet Christ abiding with him by the Spirit.
But we, like the prophet, may seek this abiding presence. We may plead with God that, as unworthy as we are — He will yet give us again the comfort of His help continually. He has promised to dwell with the contrite of heart. We may be sure that when, after all our backslidings, we draw near to Him in the Name of Jesus, with a penitent and contrite heart — He will hear us and bless us with His presence.
The prophet ventures to plead with God, the very name by which Israel was called, as the people of God; and even the tokens of His presence among them, though shown in displeasure. "Yet you, O LORD, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name — do not leave us!"
The worst, the saddest thing that could happen to any would be that God should leave them — that He should cease to call them, leave off rebuking and chastising them, and give them up to follow their own way.
O God, our God, do not leave us! Rather than this, humble us, chastise us, afflict us — yet let us see some token of Your love; let us see that You have not given us up — do not leave us, neither forsake us, O God of our salvation. We have deserved to be left, for we have left You — yet do not leave us! We have not walked in a manner worthy of that holy Name by which we are called; yet it has pleased You in Your great goodness that we should be called Christians — by that sacred Name, and for His sake whose Name it is, because of His precious blood that was shed for us, and for His gracious intercession on our behalf — hear us and forgive us! Blot out our sins from Your book of remembrance — receive us, save us, and bless us. Amen.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Favorite Pastor Quotes 8

Favorite Pastor Quotes 8


BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known.” Psalm 77:19

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Visiting the Sea of Galilee is an unforgettable experience. The Lord Jesus walked on the water there, but you cannot see His footsteps. When a boat goes through the ocean, it doesn’t leave a trail does it? When a wagon goes across land, it does leave a trail, but a boat doesn’t.

In this passage in Psalms, what is God saying? That we will never know Him just by studying history—by simply studying what He has done. His ways are mysterious. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

But we can know His ways, for He says in Psalm 103:7, “He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel.” And in Micah 4:2 we find, “And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.”

ACTION POINT:
You can try to make sense of God with all your ingenuity, creativity, and intelligence, but God says we will never know Him that way. We have to lay our intellect in the dust and say to God, “Show me Your ways.”
~ Adrian Rogers~
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God's Treasury

"The LORD shall open unto thee His good treasure"   (Deuteronomy 28:12).
This refers first to the rain. The LORD will give this in its season. Rain is the emblem of all those celestial refreshings which the LORD is ready to bestow upon His people. Oh, for a copious shower to refresh the LORD's heritage!

We seem to think that God's treasury can only be opened by a great prophet like Elijah, but it is not so, for this promise is to all the faithful in Israel, and, indeed, to each one of them. O believing friend, "the LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure." Thou, too, mayest see heaven opened and thrust in thy hand and take out thy portion, yea, and a portion for all thy brethren round about thee. Ask what thou wilt, and thou shalt not be denied if thou abidest in Christ and His words abide in thee.

As yet thou has not known all thy LORD's treasures, but He shall open them up to thine understanding. Certainly thou hast not yet enjoyed the fullness of His covenant riches, but He will direct thine heart into His love and reveal Jesus in thee. Only the LORD Himself can do this for thee; but here is His promise, and if thou wilt hearken diligently unto His voice and obey His will, His riches in glory by Christ Jesus shall be thine.

~Charles Spurgeon~
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Morning

How great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee!
Since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. -- Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit. -- Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
        
PSA. 31:19.  Isa. 64:4.  I Cor. 2:9,10.  Psa. 16:11.  Psa. 36:7 9. I Tim. 4:8.

EVENING 

The Son of God, ... hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. -- Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. -- The Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. -- He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. -- A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.
The Lord knoweth them that are his. -- I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
        
REV. 2:18.  Jer. 17:9,10. -Psa. 90:8.  Luke 22:61,62. John 2:24,25.  Psa. 103:14.  Isa. 42:3. II Tim. 2:19.  John 10:14,27,28.

~Samuel Bagster~


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Favorite Pastor Quotes 7

Favorite Pastor Quotes 7


A Living Christ!

It has been suggested that one of the faults of much evangelical preaching is the too exclusive presentation of a suffering, dying, dead, and buried Christ — rather than of a risen, living, ever-sympathizing, ever-helping Christ. This fault results from the desire to hold forth "Christ crucified" as the one and only ground of salvation. But the consequence too often is, that the only conception of the Savior produced in the minds of the people, is that of One who suffered and died. They are led to trust for salvation to the one past act of redemption — rather than to the power of an ever-present Savior. Their eyes are turned back to the cross— rather than up to the throne.
A little reflection will satisfy anyone that the conception of a living Christ is not a vivid and powerful one in the minds of the mass of Christians. Somehow they read the beautiful and tender gospel story, and look back upon it as something in the far past, which belongs to them only as a bundle of sweet and fragrant memories. They think of Jesus very much as of a dear friend they have lost, or as one who lived centuries ago a noble life of self-sacrifice — but who lives no longer. His history is all they have. They read his tender words of love, follow him in his gentle ministries, and learn to love him.
Then they come to his cross, and that seems to be the end. His voice is heard no more. His hand no longer ministers in homes of need. His feet no longer come on love errands. They gather up the precious memories and cherish them most sacredly. They wish that they had lived when he was on the earth, or that he would come again and repeat that wondrous life that they might enjoy its blessings. But to them he is dead. They have not the consciousness of his living presence with them.
Now the Scriptures are at great pains to present Christ as a living Savior. The infinite importance of his death is everywhere recognized; but mark how all the New Testament writers labor to remove every shadow of doubt from the fact that he rose again, and how his resurrection is held forth as the most important fact in his history, the very foundation of all gospel truth and of all Christian hope.
His frequent appearances after his resurrection were meant to produce and confirm in the minds of his disciples — a most vivid conception of himself as living again. He sought to blot out of their minds the thought of a dead Master, which had so filled their hearts with despair while he lay in the grave, and to impress upon them by never-to-be-forgotten incidents the truth that he was really alive. And the apostles carried that conception, that glorious consciousness, with them into all their work and all their perils. To them Jesus was as truly alive and as really with them while they preached and suffered — as he ever was during the brief years of his human presence.
Then all the presentations of the epistles and especially of the Book of Revelation are most vivid pictures of a living Christ. Very little is said about a dying Christ — but a great deal about him who "ever lives."
Now, no one believes or preaches that he is now dead. I am only speaking of the way he is held forth as a Savior, saving men by his death on the cross, rather than by the power of his life.
Is Christ presented so as to produce in the minds and hearts of believers a vivid conception of a living person, ever caring for them, ever with them? Do they think of him as a Savior who performed the whole of their salvation-work nineteen centuries ago when he gave his life for them — or as a Savior who is saving them by his strong arm, moment by moment?
A vivid realization of Christ as living — is essential to noble Christian life. How easy it is to go to the throne of grace when we feel that on that throne sits that same Jesus whose tender and beautiful life is delineated on the gospel pages! We remember how compassionate, how pitiful, how kind he was, and how easy it was to go to him, and how lovingly he received all who came unto him, never turning one away unblest. If he is the God who hears our prayers and listens to the recital of our griefs and cares — then how boldly we can come to him! The thought of that "same Jesus" on the heavenly throne, as the God with whom we have to do, is a precious one.
He is there as our advocate to manage all our affairs for us; he is there to prepare a place for us, and to receive us when we go home. It is a comforting thought when things seem to go wrong with you — that it is the Jesus of Bethany and Calvary who presides over the affairs of providence. It was a glorious joy when Stephen was dying to see that "same Jesus" standing with open arms to receive him. And his eyes merely saw what is real with every dying believer. These joys are lost, when there is not a clear consciousness of a living Christ in the heart.
Then there is still a further blessing which springs out of the faith that realizes a living Christ. It is the consciousness of that Savior's presence with each believer all the time. Many people realize that he lives in Heaven, and manages their affairs for them, and will receive them at last; but they fail to realize the glorious truth of his abiding presence with them. There is no promise of the Scriptures repeated over and over again so often as this: "I will be with you — I am with you always." Jesus has not left the earth. He never will leave it for a moment until his last redeemed one has reached the heavenly Father's home. More precious still — he never for a moment leaves the side of any one believer, from the hour of his conversion until he enters Heaven to go no more out forever. That is the way Jesus preserves his people in this life — by his abiding presence with them.
It is the consciousness of his abiding presence that we need. It is true, but how many realize it? And if not realized it avails us nothing in our hours of need. Mary's heart was breaking in the garden while Jesus stood close beside her, because she did not know that he was with her. What a world of comfort and joy came into her heart, with the consciousness that Jesus stood by her side!
In the same way, in all the Christian's sorrows and trials — Jesus is with him. What he needs is to believe this, to realize it. Faith makes it a real presence, and what more does any Christian need?
For three years, the veil that hid God from our eyes was lifted to give us a manifestation of his perpetual presence and ministry of love among men. The gospel record is but a few pages torn out of the history of a life that has been going on upon the earth since the creation, and will go on until the end. We have Christ with us — as really as the disciples had.

The sinner who comes fresh from his sins can find, not merely atonement for his sins — but the bosom of divine love! The mourner can find, not words of comfort only — but the sympathy and tender heart of the Comforter. The tempted, fainting believer can find, not promises of strength merely — but the same living, mighty hand that Peter found when he began to sink in the waves. The lost sinner, crying out, finds not merely the assurance of pardon and life — but he finds himself lifted up by the Good Shepherd and borne gently along to the fold.