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

Monday, November 30, 2015

What is communion with God?

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Communion with God 
is an expression often in my mouth—but which sinks no further. I may know the word—but neither its blessed import, nor glorious extent. My prayers and practice jar; for while I beg it with my lips, I study not to attain it in my life. Ah! what a stranger am I to that which I would gladly have flattered myself that I am acquainted with! Alas what do I know of walking with God—of that joy which is found in believing? What do I know of the lasting and abiding impressions of his inexpressible love! What do I know of that transforming vision, and assimilating sight which is enjoyed below, whereby the soul is changed into God's image, from glory to glory! What do I know of dwelling in his presence all the day long! What of pouring out my soul in prayer to him! and wrestling with him for the blessing! How seldom is my meditation of him sweet!
Union with God is the basis of communion with him; for how can those walk or talk together who are not agreed? O then be joined to the Lord, and become one spirit! But, my soul, mistake not communion, for it lies not in a flaming profession, nor in the performance of Christian duties, as reading, hearing, praying, praising, though enjoyed in these; nor in the greatest abilities, and brightest talents; nor in lofty expressions in prayer; nor in the knowledge of divine things.
What is it then? It is just a dwelling in and with God, and God dwelling in and with the soul. It is God's love going out on the soul, and the soul in love going out on God. God dwells in the duty with supplies of grace, in the meditation as its subject, and in the heart as a portion and chief good. And the soul dwells in God as her ultimate end, dilates in his fullness, delights in his bliss. The soul that is blessed with such a communion, favored with such a fellowship, knows no other object for her love; no other subject for her thoughts; no other employment for her faculties; no higher degree of happiness for her attainment, than consummate communion; no other beloved for her affection; and no other end for her existence. Nor is this all. In communion with God, the soul shares of his fullness, communicates of his glory, drinks at his pleasures, satiates herself with his love, participates of his communicable perfections, enters into his joy, and partakes of the divine nature. O life of angels! O paradise of love, O transporting employ! O ecstasy of bliss! The soul is always with Gods now in prayer, then in praise; now in meditation, then in worship. She has not a complaint but she tells to God; not a grief but she makes known to him; not a sin but she mourns over, to him; not a request, not a desire—but she reveals to him. O that holy intimacy that is contracted between the soul and God! that freedom of converse, that wrestling with God in prayer, disputing about the blessing! Let me go—I will not let you go until you bless me! This is the life of heaven on earth, God come down to man—or man taken up to God.
Now, my soul, what do you think of all this? Ah! the carnal mind is enmity against God, and against communion with God. Then I must either be crucified to the world, or cursed with the world. Communion with God is not a 'Sunday's devotion'—a rapture in time of praise or prayer, and returning greedily to the world. Communion is another thing than I have hitherto taken it to be. It is constant and continual. I should endeavor to keep my soul always in an heavenly frame, even in earthly affairs—thus the angels, even in messages to our world, carry heaven with them. Although I must mind the necessary affairs of this life, yet I should carry God to the field with me, and to the closet, to the street, and to my table. I should work, and walk, fall asleep, and awake in his presence; and talk with him on my bed, when all around me keep silence; and when hurried away with vain rovings, my soul should still return to God, as her center, as her resting place.

O the pleasure that is in this life of communion with God! It is a young heaven, with which, in the highest degree of perfection, all the saints in glory are blessed. Then, Lord, begin this life of communion in my soul, to which I am too much a stranger! Destroy everything that would destroy it! And as I would desire to live with you hereafter, so let me endeavor to live with you here, and thus improve for eternity, and prepare for the world to come!


by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Will any, or will I, pretend to teach the Most High knowledge, seeing he is excellent in all his working, and perfect in all his ways? Then, since I cannot direct him, why am not I submissive to his disposal? Can I predict events, or foresee futurities? No! How then can I promise myself serenity from a cloudless sky? or fear storms from an obscured heaven? when, as to the first, the gathering meteors may suspend an unexpected shadow before the sun; or, as to the second, the gathered clouds may scatter, and let the welcome beams refresh the weary world. So, Lord, as from present appearances, future contingencies cannot be discerned—it is my duty, and shall be my study, to be WHOLLY, FULLY, and FOREVER, at your disposal, to whom all your works, all my purposes, and all my wanderings, are known from the beginning!
O! how the Christian should glory in God's choosing for him the lot of his inheritance, and be content with that condition which Heaven accounts best for him, though not the grandest or greatest; nor the richest or happiest; nor that state he most desires. I am not my own—for I am bought with a price, and dearly paid for too! Would it not be too daring for me to instruct God how to decorate the heavens, how to set the sun, station the moon, place the poles, plant the stars, and guide the wandering planets? Now, I am as much his by right, (yes, in the ties of love, more,) and as much at his disposal, as any of these his other creatures; and if I cannot complain of his conduct with these, why quarrel at his providences toward me?

Another thing which ought to encourage to submission, is, that God's way is not only equitable in itself, but profitable for his people, for the latter end of the righteous is peace; and the end of the Lord is always gracious to his afflicted ones—who chooses them in the furnace of affliction, brings light out of darkness, order out of confusion, real good out of seeming evil; and, finally, brings through fire and water to a place of eternal glory!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

All for Christ!

George Everard, 1882

There is an exquisite hymn of Christian experience which tells of the writer's growth in grace. It testifies of an increasing sense of Christ's preciousness. In the four verses four steps show the progress made:
"All for self — and none for Thee." 
"Some for self — and some for Thee." 
"Less for self — and more for Thee." 

Then comes the blessed outcome:
"Higher than the highest Heaven, 
Deeper than the deepest sea: 
Lord, Your love at last has conquered; 
Grant me now my soul's petition: 
None for self — and all for Thee."
"All for Christ" is the aim every Christian should cherish in life. We can only enjoy the comfort and peace which Christ gives, in proportion as we walk as He directs. If we desire to spend a happy, useful life, if we desire to meet the trials and the cares it may bring in quiet confidence and hope — we must not only rely upon the Savior's all-sufficient grace, but carefully obey the precepts He has given us.
Doing this, we need never be afraid. Dark clouds may overshadow our path, disease and death may visit our homes, losses and bad debts and hard times and multiplied troubles may come upon us — but doing God's will, trusting in His never-failing Providence, relying upon His free grace and mercy in Christ, we are assured that He is with us, and will never fail us.
"All for Christ" is our motto. The Apostle Paul gives it in a few striking words: "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by Him" (Colossians 3:17).
We mark here, that true Christian principle has universal sway and operation. It has deep foundations. It rests on the solid rock of revealed truth. It takes its stand on sound doctrine, the Divine Sonship, the atonement, the resurrection, the mediatorial power and dignity of the Lord Jesus, on the renewing and regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, as the source of all peace and consolation. But, resting here, as the ground of hope and security . . .
the conscience purged through the sprinkled blood, 
the heart changed and the will molded by the Spirit,
the believer goes forward in a spirit of lively gratitude to carry into daily practice the lessons which grace has taught him.
And in the obedience to be rendered, there is no limitation. The precept is as broad as the promise. "Whatever you shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it to you." "All things, whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive." Thus runs the promise. (John 16.23; Matthew 21.22.) Exactly parallel runs the precept: "Whatever you do . . . do all in the name of the Lord Jesus;" or again, "Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10.31). On the one hand you have the "whatever" of promised good; on the other, the "whatever" of obedience commanded. You have the "all things" given in love to the believer; you have the "all things" to be performed out of gratitude according to God's will.
So we see that the precept takes in the whole field of a Christian's life and duty. It covers every inch of ground. It distinctly bears on every act and word and thought, and on every moment of our time. It permits no exceptions. From our first waking thought in the morning to the last breath we draw before we sleep at night, from the first day of January to the last day of December, and that of every year of our lives, until our course is run — all is to be yielded, gladly and willingly, to the service of our Redeemer-King.
"Business is business, work is work, religion is religion," is the thought of some who profess and call themselves Christians. Not so. Business is religion, work is religion, our common every-day duties are religion, if only they be done as the Master bids us.
A commercial traveler once gave me his idea on this subject: 
"Our clergyman comes out of a hot bed," said he, "and preaches on Sunday a sermon on our duty far higher than we can reach. So I listen to what he says, and then go back to my work on Monday remembering my chief duty is to provide for my wife and my family."
There was a measure of truth in his words. I admit that the precepts of Christ are "far too high" for a man of the world. To do as Christ commands must be an intolerable bondage to one who has no living faith, who knows nothing of Christ's love, nor has received the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. But it is not too high for one who is a Christian indeed. No aim can be too exalted for one who has been purchased by the blood of Christ, and who has yielded himself as a living sacrifice to the Father in Heaven. We dare not to please man, lower the standard or lessen the responsibility which is laid upon us. We dare not, and we must not, narrow the limit of our service or the extent of our obedience.
The standard which the Apostle gives, reaches to every sphere and concerns every part of life. It touches the hidden world of the heart, and claims a control over every thought and motive and purpose. It comes to the little world of the family circle, and is our guide as to all we should speak and do amidst children or others about us. It follows us into the social world of friends and acquaintances, and is to control our pleasures and recreations, the amusements we frequent, the books we read, and the company we choose.
It pursues us to the world of business, and takes note of our course of action in the shop, in the counting-house, in the market-place, or the exchange.
It does not leave us in the world of politics, but marks how far, in the use of our influence, in giving a vote at an election, we have regard to the upholding of His truth, and the interests of His kingdom. I
n the religious world we are still to be directed by the same precept. What worship we offer, what liberality we show, what labor we are willing to give — all this is taken into account by Him who searches the heart and knows all our ways.
In fact, there is no part of our life that must be exempted from Christian principle. Business and recreation, social fellowship, the use of our money and our time — all we are, all we have, all we do or say must be for Christ, if we would be true to Him. We must never mark out one acre, or one square yard, or one inch of our life, and say in our heart, "Christ has nothing to do with this!" If we willfully take one single moment of our lives, or one single act, or word, or thought out of the direct control of the fear and love of God — that moment, or act, or word, or thought is one of sin.
But what is it to do all "in the name of Christ"? Let us first look at it NEGATIVELY. It teaches me that I must not act at random. Many are led by the impulse of the moment. They are driven hither and thither by every wind. To do this, is to be as a ship without the rudder — sure one day to be wrecked on the rocks or the quick-sands. It is to be as a carriage going down a hill without a hand to direct the horses. It is to be as a train rushing on without driver, until some terrible collision or other accident brings it to a stop.
Neither must I act as the world does. Just to be like those around them, to be no better and no worse, satisfies many. But to copy the customs and follow the standard of an evil world, is far below the calling of a Christian. To set examples rather thanfollow them, is his duty and privilege. To be a child of God "in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation," to shine as a light in the world, is the Master's plain command.
Neither must I act merely as a good citizen, a good neighbor, a good husband, or father, or wife, or child. To be exemplary in the family relationship brings a present reward. We can only be too thankful for those who act thus. Would that there were more who endeavored to rise as high as this.
But the Christian goes further. To do all in the name of Christ is to act in everything as one of Christ's disciples. It is to live as one who bears the name of Christ, a representative here below of the great Redeemer exalted to the Father's right hand. The living Christ is there in glory. But if you are His, He dwells in your heart by His Spirit, and you are to go forth into an evil world bearing His mark, guided by His Spirit, so that men may see in you, as in a looking-glass, something of the Savior's grace, and majesty, and glory.
It is a very high standard, and there are none but come sadly short of it. But let us set it before us. Let us remember we are called to it. Let us be content with nothing lower, and then we shall be assured that Christ is with us, and will in some measure enable us to attain as we desire.
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Here is our aim. The main thought is, that in everything, the Christian acts as a representative of Christ. But in seven particulars the idea seems to branch out, and each one may assist the Christian in holy walking.
1. Do all in the STRENGTH of Christ. From first to last, a Christian has no power in himself. He has no power to resist evil or rise higher, or to fulfill a single precept. As soon may a child two years, kill a robust lion, as a Christian in his own strength conquer sin. Perhaps a man says about some particular fault or temptation, "I have no fear on that score!" But it is not at all unlikely a few weeks after, he may have to lament his self-confidence. Or perhaps a man says, "That is not one of my weak points!" and he glories that in that direction there is no likelihood of his falling. But whether it be our weak point or our strong point, there is no security except in lowly trust in the Savior.
Moses was meek — but he was angry with the people, and spoke unadvisedly with his lips, and so was never permitted to enter Canaan. Hezekiah had been a faithful and devoted servant of God — but when God left him to try him, he soon fell into evil. But depend continually on the grace of the Lord Jesus, and you will conquer. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
A working man had followed Christ for twenty years, but he found the glass of beer was getting too strong a hold of him. It was a great struggle with him what he should do; but he wisely determined, as the only safe remedy, to give it up altogether. But he found it harder work even than beginning to serve Christ at first. Friends did not understand his being so particular, and he found it rather hard crossing "the Bridge of Sneers," and getting up "Opposition Hill." One day, however, he took up an old hymn-book, and his eye lighted on this verse —
"Let not my heart despond and say, 
How shall I stand the trying day? 
He has declared by firm decree, 
That As your day, your strength shall be."
The words cheered his heart and sent him on his way rejoicing, and ever since he has been thankful for the help thus afforded him. If you wish to overcome, remember the secret. It is by ever clinging to the strong One. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
2. Do all out of LOVE to Christ. Here is to be our motive. Love makes duty light. Love makes toil and labor pleasant. Love sweetens the bitter cup, and makes self-denial easy. A spirit of grateful love, changes the character of everything we have to do. Hence nourish the sacred flame. "Let the love of Christ constrain you." Think of all He is, how infinitely worthy of the love of man and angels. Think of all that He has done for you by His life and His death. Think of . . .
His everlasting love to you, 
His constant intercession for you, 
His continual watching over you, 
His ever guiding your footsteps, 
His delivering you from dangers on the right hand and on the left, 
His preparing a glorious home for you in His kingdom above.
Look for the Spirit to stir up within you perpetually the remembrance of His love. Come to His table that you may be the more quickened in the knowledge of His exceeding great love and tender mercy. Pray that your heart may be "hot with the love of Christ" — so shall your life praise Him, and show forth what He has done for you.
Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest; 
Now You alone I seek, 
Give what is best! 
This all my prayer shall be, 
More love, O Christ, to Thee. 
More love to Thee! 
3. Do all for the GLORY of Christ. The passage, Colossians 3:17, "Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus," is well explained by the parallel passage in 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatever you do — do all to the glory of God." The leading idea seems also precisely the same. Whatever is done, even in the commonest matters of life, the food we eat, our conduct at the breakfast table or the dinner table — is to be done for the glory of the Father and the Son. We must seek grace that "to live" may be "Christ, that He may be magnified in our bodies, whether by life or death!" (Philippians 1:20, 21); that "the name of the Lord Jesus may be glorified in us "(2 Thessalonians 1:12).
Here is the very highest aim it is possible for man to cherish. No angel or archangel before the throne can rise to a loftier height. "To glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever," is Heaven on earth — and Heaven above. And this one desire will simplify a Christian's life, and give to it a unity and a beauty which nothing else could yield. Men are often swayed hither and thither by a variety of motives, sometimes in a right direction, and sometimes the very reverse. Passion, or pleasure, or self-interest, or a kindly feeling toward another, or the desire for man's praise or favor, or the reproof of an uneasy conscience — will actuate them in turns, so that there is no consistency about their conduct.
But let a man ever set this before him: "What will most honor my Redeemer-King? What will bring glory to Him in the world? What will advance His kingdom? This I must do."
Let a man follow an object like this, and it will give a fixedness, a steadfastness to his walk, which will prove greatly in the end for his own true peace. It will at once solve many a difficulty, and direct a man in the course he should pursue.
"To do all for the glory of Christ" will bring an immediate decision in most all cases. Self and ease and luxury will be sacrificed, and Christ will be honored.
In many other matters the same motive will afford the guidance that is needful. Two courses of action are open to a Christian. There are strong reasons on each side, and both are lawful. Which shall be followed? For example, a young man is choosing his vocation for life. A door is open for great advantage in business, or in some secular profession — but a desire is awakened for the ministry of Christ's Church. But in this latter there may seem but little prospect of worldly promotion. It may be that for many years the slender stipend of a pastor's assistant may be all he may obtain. What shall be the choice?
In his earlier life, Dean McNeile had something of this difficulty. Large property from a relative with the probability of high advancement at the bar, offered on the one side. On the other side, the loss of a fortune, and far less apparent likelihood of temporal advantage. But he chose the latter, and great was his reward in the honor God bestowed upon him in being so useful a champion of His truth.
In many similar cases — in the choice of friends, in the arrangement of our households, in the disposal of our time — we shall never err if we act in the same spirit. We shall never regret hereafter, what we have done "for the glory of Christ."
4. Do all to PLEASE Christ. This is closely connected with acting for the glory of Christ; but it has a distinctness which it is well to bear in mind. It is strongly brought out by the Apostle Paul, in speaking of the Christian being a good soldier of Jesus Christ: "No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who has chosen him to be a soldier." (2 Timothy 2:4).
Servants also are bidden to obey: "Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men." (Colossians 3:22, 23).
Ever seek to please Christ! In one sense you ought to "please all men in all things; not seeking your own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." Whenever, for the good of others, you can deny yourself, or please them — fail not to do so.
But to please Christ must be your chief desire. Though you may have to displease man, though you may have to risk hard words, unkind suspicions, ridicule, and persecution — yet if you please Christ it will be well. "Teach me to do the thing that pleases You, for You are my God!"
But how can you please Christ? With so much evil in you, and so many infirmities — is it possible to please the Holy Savior? Oh yes, Christ is not hard to please! He is no "hard man, reaping where He has not sown, gathering where He has not scattered seed." Nay, if only done in humble love, the least thing is pleasing to Him. Both the alabaster box of ointment and the widow's two mites, were alike acceptable. The least gift you offer, the least upward glance of the heart, the effort to do common work as before Him, a word spoken by the way to guide a little one, to comfort a mourner, to stir up a sleeping professor — each and all is pleasing to Him when done with a single eye for His sake.
5. Do all in the PRESENCE of Christ. Nothing will help you more than this. Live ever seeing Him who is invisible. By His Spirit, He will manifest Himself to you, as He does not unto the world. "The world sees Him no more, but you see Him" — and seeing Him ever near at hand, you shall better be able to please Him. To live ever as in the presence of Christ, seems to me to be the one special preservative against four great disturbers of the Christian's peace.
(1.) The fear of man. This is ever coming in to mar our usefulness. We are afraid of following that which conscience approves. We are afraid of confessing Christ, or standing alone in the reproof of sin, or speaking a word in a railway carriage to win a soul for the Master. But if we see Christ by our side, we shall conquer. "Those who are with us are more than those who are against us."
(2.) Wanderings in prayer. In church and in our chamber these enemies come in and disturb us. If, for a moment, the mind is fixed, the next instant some new imagination carries us miles away, and we are thinking of some indifferent thing. The best antidote is a more lively sense of Christ's nearness. When the soul truly sees Christ at hand, bowing down His merciful ear to catch each petition — then we speak in reality as a friend to friend. Then, through the Spirit, prayer is a comfort and a help, and we are conscious that our petitions reach the mercy-seat.
(3.) Evil tempers. There are few families where, in some shape, these intruders do not come. Sometimes like the thunderstorm, sometimes like the thick, depressing fog, sometimes like the drizzling rain, or the cold north wind — these enemies disturb our peace and grieve the Holy Spirit. It may be passion, or dead silence, or the perpetual monotony of complaint and bickering, or cutting satire, or the like, that does much harm to the soul of the one who indulges it, and puts no small stumbling-block in the way of others.
But realize Christ's presence, believe that He is in the room, and hears and marks each word and thought and feeling — and it will do much to enable you to overcome this sin. "Would you get into a passion if I were in the room with you?" I once said to a Christian, who was complaining of his inability to overcome this snare.
"Of course not," he said. "Then remember," I said, "that there is always someone in the room, and this will help you." The thought was not lost on him. More than a year afterwards he told me that, since he had spoken to me, peace in his home had not been broken.
(4.) Anxiety and worry. Here are the thorns that too often choke the good seed. The word of life cannot grow and bear fruit in the heart, because depressing cares and worries fill the mind. Means are short, money comes in very slowly, debts are pressing, family matters do not run smoothly. A very little thing often brings a great burden — and often a real trouble weighs like a mountain of lead on the heart.
But we have the same resource. Christ's presence is a sure hiding-place. His shoulder is strong enough to bear every weight of care or sorrow we have faith to lay upon it. Near to Him, and sheltered beneath His wing, we shall find all that comes to be needful discipline. We shall not repine and we shall not despair. "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" — we shall go on our way, and reach in safety the promised land.
6. Do all after the PATTERN of Christ. He is the Shepherd — and we must walk in His footsteps. He is our Model — and we must copy every lineament in His holy and spotless character. He is our Sun — and upon Him must we gaze, that a reflection of His glory may rest upon us.
If we read and study the narratives of His wondrous life, we shall find illustrations of every virtue and grace we need to put on, and types of every good work He would have us practice. Courage and meekness, zeal and gentleness, unwearied devotion, and constant well-doing to those around — tracked every footstep. Oh that every worker in the Lord's vineyard, every minister of Christ, every Christian — were more like the Master, and each would be far more successful in his labors! A few stammering words, backed up by a very Christ-like life, will often do far more for the Redeemer's kingdom than a torrent of eloquence, where this is lacking.
It has been said that "a clergyman may preach two or three sermons a week, but a holy life is preaching a thousand sermons." It is a true witness; therefore follow the Master, and follow Him closely. "He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked."
7. Do all in view of Christ's second coming. Here is the final end of all service. The Lord is at hand. He comes to prove all our work. What is wood, hay, stubble — and what is gold, silver, or precious stone — will then be clearly known. What has been the pure truth according as He gave it, and His Spirit revealed it — and what has been human tradition and the vain imagination of a man's own heart. What has been done before His eye and for His glory — and what has been done for any lower motive. What has been the lasting and permanent result of work — and what only a passing emotion in the breast. What souls have been reclaimed from sin, error, unbelief, worldliness, and impenitence; what true blessing has been granted in raising Christians to a nobler life and a loftier standard — all this is hidden for the present, but will be made manifest when Christ comes.
What a day of revelation will it be! What a day of dreadful discovery to those who have been at ease in Zion, and have taken no pains to please the Master or to advance His kingdom! What a day of loss to those who have been in the main the servants of Christ, but have been building rotten materials on the true foundation! What a day of joy to true faithful Christians, who mourned over their failures, and thought they had done but little for Christ, and yet who went on humbly waiting upon Him, and sowing the heavenly seed with tears and prayers!
In all your work, think of that day! Think of the Master's "Well done!" Think of the joy of His approving glance! Think of the joy of harvest sheaves — souls gathered in safe to the garner, and that forever. Think of the great reward of the faithful follower of Christ, even where there has been apparent failure in the Lord's work.
I heard the other day a striking illustration of this. A missionary in China was greatly depressed through the carelessness and indifference of his hearers. The old question of Isaiah seemed to suit his case: "Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" But he had a dream. He was standing on a rocky boulder, and with a sledge hammer in his hand was trying to break it. Blow after blow was given, but no impression was made. At length he heard a voice: "Go on; I'll pay you all the same whether you break it or not." So he was contented, and learned the lesson. He could enter into the spirit of the prophet's words: "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing — yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work is with my God."
Think of the Lord's coming, and rejoice in hope. Now is the time for labor and toil — then is the time for rest. Now we sow in tears and fears — but then the ripened grain will be our recompense. Now our faith may be dim, and the Lord may sometimes hide His face, and we may have seasons of darkness and distress — but then we shall see His face, and His name shall be on our forehead, and we shall share His glory and His kingdom. All through coming months and years, let our eye be toward the horizon, where the Sun of Righteousness will arise in His majesty. "Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ."
With two thoughts I will close this address.
(1.) If this standard be the true one, if the Christian is to do all in the name of Christ — then what multitudes of the professing people of God will be found lacking at the Great day!
There are many who bear the name of Christ — who yield only a divided heart and a very partial service. You wish to be a Christian — but you have no intention of giving God your best, and doing everything as Christ bids you, and being unreservedly and entirely devoted to Him. You know perfectly well, that you are not whole-hearted in God's service. Your conduct in business tells it. Your neglect of week-day means of grace testifies to it. Your love of ease and comfort that hinders you from taking an active part in good works, your shrinking from confessing Christ in the world — all speak the same language, and prove that hitherto you have been very far from doing all "in the name of the Lord Jesus."
What a hollow, empty, worthless thing this profession of yours is! What possible good can come from a Sunday religion, from a little head knowledge of Christian truth, which leaves you so utterly unlike the Lord Jesus? Hear the Lord's own solemn words: "Not every one who says unto Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven."
I have often used a very simple illustration as to the value of such profession. Your little girl has an egg for breakfast; when she has finished it, she turns over the shell and says, "See my egg." It looks like an egg, but it is only a shell. It is all hollow, and a minute or two after it is crushed and crumpled up, and loses the very appearance of an egg.
Such is your religion. It has no heart about it. It has no substance. It is only a deceit and a pretense. And very soon it will be made plain to others that it is so — and that when it will be too late for a remedy. Friend, don't make a mistake for eternity. Search your own heart. Don't beguile and deceive yourself with a name, and a shadow, and a Christian profession — when you have never given yourself really to Christ, and have nothing of His Spirit dwelling in you. Take heed in time! Turn to God now in sincerity and truth. Confess all the unreality and heartlessness of days gone by.
It is true, a vast, enormous debt of guilt lies at your door. It is true that every action of your life, every moment of days gone by condemns you — for when did you do one single thing for the glory of God? But there is free forgiveness. There is a righteousness in Christ which can cover all your mountain of sin. There is a full salvation through His blood, and there is a mighty power to raise you through His Spirit. Nor is it far to seek. It is very near you. Only creep low. Only lay aside every proud, self-confident pretension, and on the footing of a sinner deserving damnation, seek life in Christ, and it is yours. It cannot be denied you. Christ never yet rejected a sinner that sincerely came to him, and He never will. "Christ is all," and He is enough. He gives all, He does all that the sinner needs.
Salvation to the uttermost, 
a perfect justification, 
grace to be holy, 
strength for the journey, and 
everlasting life in His kingdom —  
He gives, and gives freely, to every one who sincerely returns to Him.
(2.) I would add a few words of encouragement to those who desire to put God first, and who wish in everything to follow Christ. While many are contented with serving God a little — and serving the world a great deal more; while there are many double-minded ones who go two ways, as King Saul, and Balaam, and Judas, and Ananias, and Sapphira, and Demas, and the like — you desire to have one aim — to keep a single eye, and through good report and ill report, through storm and sunshine, to serve Christ at all hazards, and under all circumstances to fulfill His commandments.
Let this ever be your object in life. Set it ever before you as the only end worth living for. When, for a moment, you have been drawn aside by some subtle form of self-pleasing, or have turned away to escape a painful cross — yet go back again to your great purpose and determination. Fall back on Christ's justifying righteousness for your acceptance — look up to the risen Savior to give you more of the mighty power of His quickening Spirit — and pray fervently for steadfastness, perseverance, and reality.
"Let my heart be sound in Your statutes, that I be not ashamed!" Let this be your cry, so that you be not like some tempting orchard fruit — on the outside all rosy smiles, and within rottenness and the worm and decay, making it bitter and loathsome to the eater. But rather sound and true to the heart's core, so that the more you are known, the more you are valued for your genuine piety and unswerving integrity of purpose.
Follow this course — be all one thing in the fear and love of God — and great shall be your reward. You shall have the comfort of a good conscience. Though in conscious unworthiness before God, and knowing how far you fail of reaching the high standard of holiness which He has set before you — yet you will be conscious that you wish in everything to be true as in His sight. Your conscience will bear witness that you allow yourself in no known evil, and that it is your most earnest endeavor to fulfill every duty which He sets before you.
You shall have the consolation of God's presence and love. He will never fail His servant who thus desires to honor Him. You may look for His Spirit to rest abundantly upon you. You may feel assured that He delights in your service, and will be with you at all seasons.
He is with you, with you always!
All the nights, and all the days; 
Never failing, never frowning, 
With His loving-kindness crowning; 
Tuning all your life to praise.
He is with you, your own Master,
Leading, loving to the end; 
Brightening joy, and lightening sorrow, 
All today, and more tomorrow, 
King and Savior, Lord and Friend.
The life of her who wrote these lines, and who was, a few years ago, called to her eternal rest — was a very marked evidence of the double consolation which those enjoy who are wholly consecrated to the Lord's service. Miss Frances Havergal has been removed from us in the flesh, but she lives in many a heart by the remembrance of her bright and joyous Christian life, and her unflagging zeal and earnestness in the Savior's cause, and in many a home by her loyal utterances for the King she loved.
Once she heard me speak on the topic of this address. Afterwards she spoke on the matter with great feeling, longing that all Christian people should thus "do all for Christ." And, doubtless, through her writings, and the fragrance of her own holy and devoted life, it will be seen hereafter that not a few have so learned to act.
Christian, remember the time is short! Workers in the vineyard are called away, and you and I must soon follow. You may remember the saying of a poor seamstress, hard at work with her needle in a London attic: "I must make haste, for I have but one candle, and it will soon go out!"

Our one candle is burning out apace. Year follows year, and the stream of life quickly rolls on. Let us seize the passing hour. Let us work while we may. If it is true that in a hive of bees there are fifteen thousand workers, and only a few hundred drones — why, in the Church of Christ, should there be such a large proportion of drones who are neither building the cells nor gathering in honey? May God grant that it may not be the ease with any reader of this book!

An ignorant, profane, and soul-flattering clergy

"Be an example to all believers . . .
  in what you teach,
  in the way you live,
  in your love, your faith, and your purity." 1 Timothy 4:12
A preacher's life should be a commentary upon his doctrine; 
his practice should be the counterpart of his sermons. 
Heavenly doctrines should always be adorned with a heavenly life.
An ignorant, profane, and soul-flattering clergy, are the greatest pest, plague, affliction and judgment, which can befall a people! There is no rank nor order of men on earth, who have so enriched Hell, who have been such benefactors to Hell--as the ignorant and profane clergy! How many are there in these days, who are more ready and willing to make a sacrifice of the gospel . . .
  for profit sake,
  and preferment sake,
  and prestige sake,
  and lust's sake!
Where there is no serious, sincere, faithful, and powerful preaching--there the people grow abominably wicked, and will certainly perish and go tumbling to Hell.
Pastors! Either preach as the ministers of Jesus Christ ought to preach . . .
and live as the ministers of Jesus Christ ought to live . . .
--or else lay down your names of being the ministers of Jesus Christ. Do not any longer put a cheat upon yourselves, nor upon the people--by making them believe that you are ministers of Jesus Christ, when you have . . .
  nothing of the spirit of Christ, 
  nor of the anointings of Christ,
  nor of the grace of Christ,
  nor of the life of Christ in you.
"Watch your life and doctrine closely." 1 Timothy 4:16

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I am chained to the chariot of rolling time!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Swiftness of Life!")
"My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle!" Job 7:6
"My days are but a breath!" Job 7:16
"My days are swifter than a runner — they flee away!" Job 9:25
"My days pass by like swift ships — like an eagle swooping on its prey!" Job 9:26
"Are not my days few?" Job 10:20
"My days are cut short, the grave awaits me!" Job 17:1 
"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14
Let me speak to you of . . .
  the frailty of human life,
  the fleeting nature of time,
  how swiftly time passes away,
  how soon we shall all fade as the leaf, and
  how speedily the place which knows us now, shall know us no more forever.
It is a great fact that life to the young man appears to be long.
Yet to the old man, life is ever short.
And to all men, life is really but a brief period!
Children sometimes blow bubbles, and amuse themselves thereby. Life is even as that bubble. You see it rising into the air; the child delights itself by seeing it fly about, but it is all gone in one moment! So uncertain is life!
Human life is not long. Compare it with the ages of the universe, and it becomes a span; and especially measure it by eternity — and how imperceptible does life appear! It sinks like one small drop into the ocean — and becomes as insignificant as one tiny grain of sand upon the sea-shore!
Life is swift!
Your pulses each moment beat the funeral marches to the tomb!
I am chained to the chariot of rolling time — there is no bridling the steeds, or leaping from the chariot. The wind of time bears me along — I cannot stop its motion. I am moving through time at an incalculable rate. Oh! what an idea it is, could I grasp it!
The wise man says, "For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow?" Ecclesiastes 6:12. Now what can there be less substantial than a shadow? What substance is there in a shadow? Who can lay hold thereof? You may see it, but the moment the person passes by, it is gone.
Yes, and who can grasp his life? Many men reckon upon a long existence, and think they are going to live forever; but who can calculate upon a shadow? Go, O man, who say to your soul, "Eat, drink, and be merry; I have much goods laid up for many years!" Go, and store your barn with shadows; go and pile shadows up, and say, "These are mine, and they shall never depart." But, say you, "I cannot catch a shadow!" No and you can not reckon on a year, for it is as a shadow, which soon melts away and is gone!
"My days pass by like swift ships!" 
Like a swift ship, my life must speed on its way until it reaches its haven. But where is that haven to be? Shall it be found in the land of eternal bitterness and punishment — that dreary region of the lost? Or shall it be that sweet haven of eternal peace, where not a troubling wave can ruffle the quiescent glory of my spirit?
Wherever the haven is to be, that truth is the same, we are like "the swift ships."

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

John Newton's tombstone

In his old age, when he could no longer see to read, John Newton, the author of "Amazing Grace" heard someone recite this verse, "By the grace of God — I am what I am." 1 Corinthians 15:10. He remained silent a short time, and then said: 
I am not what I ought to be. Ah! how imperfect and deficient.
I am not what I might be, considering my privileges and opportunities. 
I am not what I wish to be. God, who knows my heart — knows I wish to be like Him. 
I am not what I hope to be. Before long, I will drop this clay tabernacle, to be like Him and see Him as He is!
Yet, I am not what I once was — a child of sin, and slave of the devil!
Though not all these — not what I ought to be, not what I might be, not what I wish or hope to be, and not what I once was — I think I can truly say with the apostle, "By the grace of God — I am what I am!"

At the age of 82, Newton said, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner — and that Christ is a great Savior!"

John Newton's tombstone reads: "John Newton, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy!"

"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

My politics

(Letters of John Newton, 1778)

The whole system of my politics is summed up in this one verse, "The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!" Psalm 99:1

The times look awfully dark indeed; and as the clouds grow thicker — the stupidity of the nation seems proportionally to increase. If the Lord had not a remnant here, I would have very formidable apprehensions. But He loves His redeemed children; some are sighing and mourning before Him, and I am sure He hears their sighs, and sees their tears. I trust there is mercy in store for us at the bottom; but I expect a shaking time before things get into a right channel — before we are humbled, and are taught to give Him the glory.

The state of the nation, the state of the churches — both are deplorable! Those who should be praying — are disputing and fighting among themselves! Alas! how many professors are more concerned for the mistakes of government — than for their own sins!
"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns!" Revelation 19:6

Dear Believer

Believer, open your eyes widely to your real position. Bright indeed are your hopes. The Lord, who bought you, watches you with unfailing love. The angels are your guards. The Spirit is your teacher. The Word is your text-book. Heaven is your final home. Your eternity is glory. You will not fail finally. "He who has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Phil. 1:6. Your God will perfect that which concerns your soul. But still Satan never ceases to hate and tempt. Draw then nearer and nearer to the sheltering side of your beloved Lord. Let your eyes ever gaze upon the cross. The more you see redeeming blood, the more you will abhor iniquity. Trust not, however, to previous grace. It was sufficient for its day. But each day needs its own supply. This help is ready. The treasury is open. Approach by faith. Go in by prayer. Receive heaven's bounty. Seek, also, in all things to be conformed to Jesus' image. He was "holy--harmless--undefiled--separate from sinners." Heb. 7:26. Above all, feast on the precious promises--so will you cleanse yourself "from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 2 Cor. 7:1.
But still remember, that each day is full of peril. Therefore never cease to watch. Do not forget, that in one unguarded moment a terrible downfall may occur. Think, also, that one false step brings terrible disgrace on your good reputation, and causes hell to laugh, and all the enemies of God to revel in blaspheming sneers. Your sin may ruin multitudes. Therefore, for your soul's sake--as you love Jesus--as you desire the progress of His truth--as you would cause the Gospel to be honored, be very careful--abstain from evil's contact--let your light shine brightly.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The fatal mistake

The fatal mistake of thousands is to offer unto God the fruits of the flesh—instead of the fruits of the Spirit. Fleshly holiness, fleshly exertions, fleshly prayers, fleshly duties, fleshly religious forms, fleshly zeal—these are what men consider good works, and present them as such to God. But well may He who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity, say to all such fleshly workers, 'And if you offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?' All that the flesh can do is evil, for every imagination of man's heart is only evil continually—and to present the fruits of this filthy heart to the Lord Almighty, is to offer defiled food upon His altar!
A broken heart—a contrite spirit—a tender conscience—a filial fear of God—a desire to please Him—a dread to offend the great God of heaven—a sense of the evil of sin—a desire to be delivered from sin's dominion—a mourning over our repeated backslidings—grief at being so often entangled in our lusts and passions—an acquaintance with our helplessness and weakness, simplicity and godly sincerity—a hanging upon grace for daily supplies—watching the hand of Providence—a singleness of eye to the glory of God—these are a few of the fruits of the Spirit.

J.C. Philpot

Monday, November 23, 2015

A disciple of Jesus

Image result for painting of a disciple of Christ

A disciple of Jesus is one who is admitted by the Lord Jesus into His school—whom He Himself condescends personally to instruct—and who therefore learns of Him to be meek and lowly of heart. A disciple of Jesus is one who sits meekly at the Redeemer's feet—receiving into his heart the gracious words which fall from His lips.
But a true and sincere disciple not only listens to his Master's instructions, but acts as He bids. So a disciple of Jesus is one who copies his Master's example—and is conformed to his Master's image. A disciple of Jesus is also characterized by the love which he bears to his Master. He is one who treasures up the words of Christ in his heart—ponders over His precious promises—and delights in His glorious Person, love, and blood. A disciple of Jesus is one who bears some reflection to the image of his heavenly Master. He carries it about with him wherever he goes, that men may take knowledge of him, that he has been with Jesus. The true disciple shines before men with some sparkles of the glory of the Son of God.
To have some of these divine features stamped upon the heart, lip, and life is to be a disciple of Jesus. To be much with Jesus is to be made like unto Jesus—to sit at Jesus' feet is to drink in Jesus' words—to lean upon Jesus' bosom is to feel the warm heart of Jesus pulsating with love—and to feel this pulsation, causes the heart of the disciple to beat in tender and affectionate unison. To look up to Jesus, is to see a face more marred than the sons of men—yet a face beaming with heavenly beauty, dignity, and glory. To be a disciple of Jesus, is to copy His example—to do the things pleasing in His sight—and to avoid the things which He abhors. To be a disciple of Jesus, is to be as meek as He was—humble as He was—lowly as He was—self-denying as He was—separate from the world as He was—living a life of communion with God, as He lived when He walked here below.
To take a worm of the earth and make him a disciple of Jesus is the greatest privilege God can bestow upon man! To select an obstinate, ungodly, perverse rebel, and place him in the school of Christ and at the feet of Jesus—is the highest favor God can bestow upon any child of the dust. How unsurpassingly great must be that kindness whereby the Lord condescends to bestow His grace on an enemy—and to soften and meeken him by His Spirit—and thus cause him to grow up into the image and likeness of His own dear Son. Compared with this high privilege, all earthly honors, titles and robes sink into utter insignificance!

J.C. Philpot

Saturday, November 21, 2015

little heathen

(from Philpot's biography, written by his son)
There was nothing my father mistrusted more than 'childhood piety.' He insisted that children should never be taught or allowed to use the language of 'personal possession' in reference to God. To sing, for instance, "Rock of Ages, cleft for ME" or, "MY Jesus." Herein he was most logical. For by early influence and example you can train up a child to be a little patriot—a little Catholic—a little Calvinist—or a little Bolshevist. But no power on earth can make him a child of God. He took great care that we, his children, attended the means of grace, and never missed chapel or family prayers. But he never expected us to be anything but little heathen. We had, it is true, to be well behaved little heathen. If not, we got "the stick," or its equivalent.