Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Afflictions are necessary

(James Smith,
"Afflictions Necessary"
1853)

"He does not afflict willingly." Lamentations 3:33

Here is a fact well known--the Lord afflicts His children.
Trouble never springs out of the dust--nor do afflictions come
by 'chance'. No! Every trial and affliction is sent from our
Father's throne--and its direction is written by our Father's
hand. He appoints the kind, the degree, and the
direction of our afflictions.

We are afflicted with disappointments, losses, and crosses. None
are exempt. None can always escape, for "the Lord tries the
righteous." "Many are the afflictions of the righteous."

"He does not afflict willingly." He only grieves us
from necessity. He has fixed His end, which is to make us holy,
and to conform us to the image of His Son; from this, He will
not be diverted--but He will surely accomplish it.

In the afflictions which He sends, God aims at . . .
  our deeper sanctification,

  or our greater usefulness,
  or simply at His own glory,

which is always linked with our good.

He therefore afflicts us--to exercise our graces; these
would otherwise often lie dormant, become weak, fade, and wither.

God afflicts His children--to wean us from the world, to
which we are too much attached, and would be more so, if it were
not for trials, disappointments, and vexations.

God afflicts His children--to  embitter sin, which
is the prolific root, on which every pain, grief and sorrow
grows. 

God afflicts His children--to endear the Savior, who is
our solace in sorrow, and will be our glorious deliverer from
it. Never does Jesus appear so precious--as in the hours of
trouble and trial.

God afflicts His children--to prevent our falling into
temptation, which we would do more frequently, if we were not kept
awake and watchful by our various sorrows.

God afflicts His children--to fit us for usefulness, for
as the land must be ploughed, harrowed, and crushed--if it is to
be fruitful and supply our needs; just so must we be tempted,
tried, and troubled--if we are to be of much use to
man, or to bring much glory to God.

God afflicts His children,
to make us long for heaven--which
we seldom do when all is pleasant, bright, and sunny below.

If God loves us with an infinite love;
if He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His
Son;
if He will make us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the
saints in light;
and if He will correct our faults and our follies

--He must afflict us!
  HT-Grace gems

Monday, February 14, 2011

Brought Low

Brought Low — but Helped
James Smith, 1861


"I was brought low — and He helped me!" Psalm 116:6
The circumstances of the Christian often vary — and it is
no uncommon thing for his frames and feelings to vary with his
circumstances. On this account, many of the Lord's people are either
elevated — or depressed, but seldom enjoy a calm, peaceful,
and settled state of mind. Their depression is great — or their
joys are high. But even this is overruled for their good, and is
sanctified to the humbling of the soul, and the preserving it from
self-importance and pride. What a mercy it is to have a God to go to — let
our frames and feelings be what they may. What a mercy to have one that will
sympathize with us, and of whom it is said, "Like as a father pities his
children — so the Lord pities those who fear him." This was David's
encouragement, and lay at the root of much of his experience, and led him to
say, "I was brought low — and He helped me."


His Painful Condition. "I was brought low." O how low the believer is brought sometimes,
into what straits and trials, into what troubles and distresses!
Sometimes in his outward circumstances, by the loss of property, or friends, or situation; all seems against him, everything seems to conspire together to bring him low.
Sometimes in body, by strong pain, extreme weakness, or nervous disorders; so that everything loses its relish, and he can enjoy nothing earthly. At other times it is distress in the soul, by
violent temptations, by distressing bereavements, by the hidings of the Lord's face, or his withholding divine communications. Now everything appears to be covered with a pall — and gloom and darkness spreads over the soul. But at times the Lord so sanctifies the circumstances, as painful as they are, that they become real blessings:

pride is humbled, false confidence is destroyed, and the man walks softly before the Lord.
Yet at other times — faith is shaken, the heart is straitened, doubts spring up, fears are strong, the evidences are beclouded, prayer becomes a task — and we think that God must be angry with us. This brings us low, lays us prostrate, and we cry plaintively unto God. Then in
answer to the cry of faith, the Lord sends help, or appears for our relief, and soon we are able to say, "I was brought low — and he helped me!"His Encouraging Testimony. "He helped me." Blessed be his holy name, he never allows us to sink — but he comes to our help! He helps us in
trouble:

by rendering his assistance,

by sending us supplies,

by raising us up friends,

by restoring us to health and strength,

by reviving our graces and raising our spirits;

or by imparting a little scriptural light, a little holy love, a little Heavenly dew, or a little spiritual unction. Thus he draws out our souls in prayer, excites hope in his mercy, awakens confidence in his Word — and we sink in deep humility at his footstool. Now we can bear trouble with patience, and look for deliverance with courage. He helps us out of trouble, by turning our captivity as he did Job's. Now . . .

providence smiles,

health returns,

promises are applied,

comfort is imparted,

the Spirit bears his inward witness,

the heart is enlarged,

confidence is produced, and

sweet communion with himself is granted.

This is sending and taking us out of the deep waters. This is bringing us up out of the horrible pit — and setting our feet upon a solid rock. This is like returning to the days of our youth. Now we can sing in the ways of the Lord, because great is the glory of the Lord. Now we can
say with the prophet, "O Lord, I will praise you, though you were angry with me — your anger is turned away, and you comfort me."We must sink — before we rise. This is always true in grace, for before honor — is humility. We must pace the valley of humiliation, before we ascend the mount of high and holy communion with God. And very frequently is it the case, that the
lower we sink — the higher we rise. If the Lord is stripping us, emptying us, pruning us, and bringing us low; so that we feel weak, empty and void of good — it is in order that he may strengthen us with his might, bring us to rest on his Word, fill us with his own love, and lead us to look for everything in Jesus. When brought low — hope should be encouraged. The Lord
will help us. We ought not then to encourage fears, or yield to despondency — but should rather chide ourselves for yielding to such feelings, as David did, when he said, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." He who brings down — will raise up. If the Lord bring us down by his providence — he will support and raise us up by his grace. He may lay us so low — that no hand may be able to reach us but his own; or our affairs may become so perplexed — that no one can
unravel them but himself. But as sure as this is the case, he will appear for us, and work our deliverance. He will never leave us prostrate, for it is his prerogative to raise up the poor out of the dust, and lift up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make
them inherit the throne of glory!
None of God's people die in the pit. Joseph was cast into one — but the coming of the Midianite merchants, caused him to be taken out. Jeremiah was cast into a worse pit — but Ebed-melech
the Ethiopian, was used to deliver him. Just so with us, whatever pit we may fall into, or be thrown into — so sure as Daniel was taken up unhurt out of the den of lions — so shall we be delivered. The church of old testified, "We went through fire and through water — but You brought us out into a wealthy place." Just so shall we shortly be delivered, and when we stand on the borders of the promised land, when we are about to cross the river that separates time from eternity, when about to close the eyes on everything below, we shall then with our dying breath for the comfort of those we leave behind us say, "I was brought low — and He helped me!"
"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine! When you go through deep waters — I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty — you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression — you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel,
your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3

HT-Grace gems