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Author Topic: Give Me That Old Time Gospel  (Read 98892 times)
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« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2007, 02:23:36 PM »

The Little Flock

"Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." —Luke 12:32

The music of the Shepherd's voice again! Another comforting "word," and how tender! His flock, a little flock, a feeble flock, a fearful flock, but a beloved flock, loved of the Father, enjoying His "good pleasure," and soon to be a glorified flock, safe in the fold, secure within the kingdom! How does He quiet their fears and misgivings? As they stand panting on the bleak mountain side, He points His crook upwards to the bright and shining gates of glory, and says, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you these!" What gentle words! what a blessed consummation! Gracious Savior, Your gentleness has made me great!

That kingdom is the believer's by irreversible and inalienable charter-right—"I appoint unto you" (by covenant), says Jesus in another place, "a kingdom, as my Father has appointed unto me." It is as sure as everlasting love and almighty power can make it. Satan, the great foe of the kingdom, may be injecting foul misgivings, and doubts, and fears as to your security; but he cannot divest you of your purchased immunities. He must first pluck the crown from the 'brow upon the throne', before he can weaken or impair this sure word of promise. If "it pleased the Lord" to bruise the Shepherd, it will surely please Him to make happy the purchased flock. If He "smote" His "Fellow" when the sheep were scattered, surely it will rejoice Him, for the Shepherd's sake, "to turn His hand upon the little ones."

Believers, think of this! "It is your Father's good pleasure." The Good Shepherd, in leading you across the intervening mountains, shows you signals and memorials of paternal grace studding all the way. He may "lead you about" in your way there. He led the children of Israel of old out of Egypt to their promised kingdom—how! By forty years' wilderness-discipline and privations. But trust Him; dishonor Him not with guilty doubts and fears. Look not back on your dark, stumbling paths, nor within on your fitful and vacillating heart; but forwards to the land that is far off. How earnestly God desires your salvation! What a heaping together of similar tender "words" with that which is here addressed to us! The Gospel seems like a palace full of opened windows, from each of which He issues an invitation, declaring that He has no pleasure in our death—but rather that we would turn and live!

Let the melody of the Shepherd's voice fall gently on your ear—"It is your Father's good pleasure." I have given you, He seems to say, the best proof that it is mine. In order to purchase that kingdom, I died for you! But it is also His: "As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered, so," says God, "will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day." Fear not, then, little flock! Though yours for a while should be the bleak mountain and sterile wasteland, seeking your way Zionward, it may be "with torn fleeces and bleeding feet;" for,
"It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
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« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2007, 02:24:08 PM »

The Unlimited Offer

"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." —John 7:37

This is one of the most gracious "words" that ever "proceeded out of the mouth of God!" The time it was uttered was an impressive one; it was on "the last, the great day" of the Feast of Tabernacles, when a denser multitude than on any of the seven preceding ones were assembled together. The golden bowl, according to custom, had probably just been filled with the waters of Siloam, and was being carried up to the Temple amid the acclamations of the crowd, when the Savior of the world seized the opportunity of speaking to them some truths of momentous import. Many, doubtless, were the "words of Jesus" uttered on the previous days, but the most important is reserved for the last. What, then, is the great closing theme on which He rivets the attention of this vast auditory, and which He would have them carry away to their distant homes? It is, The freeness of His own great Salvation—"If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink."

Reader, do you discredit the reality of this gracious offer? Are your legion sins standing as a barrier between you and a Savior's offered mercy? Do you feel as if you cannot come "just as you are;" that some partial cleansing, some preparatory reformation must take place before you can venture to the living fountain? No, "If any man." What is freer than water?—The poorest beggar may drink "without money" the wayside pool. That is your Lord's own picture of His own glorious salvation; you are invited to come, "without one plea," in all your poverty and need, your weakness and unworthiness. Remember the Redeemer's saying to the woman of Samaria. She was the chief of sinners—profligate, hardened, degraded—but He made no condition, no qualification; simple believing was all that was required—"If you knew the gift of God," you would have asked, and He would have given you "living water."

But is there not, after all, one condition mentioned in this "word of Jesus?"—"If any man thirst." You may have the depressing consciousness that you experience no such ardent longings after holiness—no feeling of your affecting need of the Savior. But is not this very conviction of your need an indication of a feeble longing after Christ? If you are saying, "I have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep," He who makes the offer of the salvation-stream will Himself fill your empty vessel—"He satisfies the longing soul with goodness."

"Jesus stood and cried." It is the solitary instance recorded of Him of whom it is said, "He shall not strive nor cry," lifting up "His voice in the streets." But it was truth of surpassing interest and magnitude He had to proclaim. It was a declaration, moreover, especially dear to Him. As it formed the theme of this ever-memorable sermon during His public ministry, so when He was sealing up the inspired record—the last utterances of His voice on earth, until that voice shall be heard again on the throne, contained the same life-giving invitation—"Let him that is athirst come, and whoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." Oh! as the echoes of that gracious saying—this blast of the silver trumpet—are still sounding to the ends of the world, may this be the recorded result,
"As he spoke THESE WORDS, many believed on him."
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« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2007, 02:24:38 PM »

The Sonful Servitude

"My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." —Matthew 11:30

Can the same be said of Satan, or sin? With regard to them, how faithfully true rather is the converse—"My yoke is heavy, and my burden is grievous!" Christ's service is a happy service, the only happy one; and even when there is a cross to carry, or a yoke to bear, it is His own appointment. "My yoke." It is sent by no untried friend. No, He who puts it on His people, bore this very yoke Himself. "He carried our sorrows." How blessed this feeling of holy servitude to so kind a Master! not like "dumb, driven cattle," goaded on, but led, and led often most tenderly when the yoke and the burden are upon us. The great apostle rarely speaks of himself under any other title but one. That one he seems to make his boast. He had much whereof he might glory—he had been the instrument in saving thousands—he had spoken before kings—he had been in Caesar's palace and Caesar's presence—he had been caught up into the third heavens—but in all his letters this is his joyful prefix and superscription, "The servant (literally, the slave) of Jesus Christ!"

Reader! do you know this blessed servitude? Can you say with a joyful heart, "O Lord, truly I am Your servant?" He is no hard taskmaster. Would Satan try to teach you so? Let this be the refutation, "He loved me, and gave Himself for me." True, the yoke is the appointed discipline He employs in training his children for immortality. But be comforted! "It is His tender hand that puts it on, and keeps it on." He will suit the yoke to the neck, and the neck to the yoke. He will suit His grace to your trials. No, He will bring you even to be in love with these, when they bring along with them such gracious unfoldings of His own faithfulness and mercy. How His people need thus to be in heaviness through manifold temptations, to keep them meek and submissive! "Jeshurun (like a bullock unaccustomed to the harness, fed and pampered in the stall) waxed fat, and kicked." Never is there more gracious love than when God takes own means to curb and subjugate, humble us, and to prove us—bringing us out from ourselves, our likings, our confidences, our prosperity, and putting us under the needed YOKE.

And who has ever repented of that joyful servitude? Among all the regrets that mingle with a dying hour, and often bedew with bitter tears a dying pillow, who ever told of regrets and repentance here?

Tried believer, has He ever failed you? Has His yoke been too grievous? Have your tears been unalleviated—your sorrows unsolaced—your temptations above that which you were able to bear? Ah! rather can you not testify—"The word of the Lord is tried;" I cast my burden upon Him, and He "sustained me"? How have seeming difficulties melted away! How has the yoke lost its heaviness, and the cross its bitterness, in the thought of who you were bearing it for! There is a promised rest in the very carrying of the yoke; and a better rest remains for the weary and toil-worn when the appointed work is finished; for thus says "that same Jesus,"
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and you shall find REST unto your souls."
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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2007, 02:25:09 PM »

The Measure Of Love

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you." —John 15:9

This is the most amazing verse in the Bible. Who can sound the unimagined depths of that love which dwelt in the bosom of the Father from all eternity towards His Son?—and yet here is the Savior's own exponent of His love towards His people!

There is no subject more profoundly mysterious than those mystic inter-communings between the first and second persons in the adorable Trinity before the world was. Scripture gives us only some dim and shadowy revelations regarding them—distant gleams of light, and no more. Let one suffice. "Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him."

We know that earthly affection is deepened and intensified by increased familiarity with its object. The friendship that began only yesterday is not the sacred, hallowed thing which years of growing communion have matured. If we may with reverence apply this test to the highest type of holy affection, what must have been that interchange of love which the measureless span of Eternity had fostered—a love, moreover, not fitful, transient, vacillating, subject to altered tones and estranged looks—but pure, constant, untainted, without one shadow of turning! And yet, listen to the "words of Jesus," As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you! It would have been infinitely more than we had reason to expect, if He had said, "As my Father has loved angels, so have I loved you." But the love borne to no finite beings is an appropriate symbol. Long before the birth of time or of worlds, that love existed. It was together with Eternity itself. Hear how the two themes of the Savior's eternal rejoicing—the love of His Father, and His love for sinners—are grouped together—"Rejoicing always before Him, and in the habitable part of His earth!"

To complete the picture, we must take in a counterpart description of the Father's love to us—"Therefore does my Father love me," says Jesus in another place, "because I lay down my life!" God had an all-sufficiency in His love—He needed not the wearisome love of creatures to add to His glory or happiness; but He seems to say, that so intense is His love for us, that He loves even His beloved Son more (if infinite love be capable of increase), because He laid down His life for the guilty! It is regarding the Redeemed it is said, "He shall rest in His love—He shall rejoice over them with singing."

In the assertion, "God is love," we are left truly with no mere unproved affirmation regarding the existence of some abstract quality in the divine nature. "Herein," says the apostle, "perceive we THE LOVE,"—(It is added in our authorized version, "of God," but, as it has been remarked, "Our translators need not have added whose love, for there is but one such specimen")—"because He laid down His life for us." No expression of love can be wondered at after this. Ah, how miserable are our best expressions compared with His! "Our love is but the reflection—cold as the moon; His is as the sun." Shall we refuse to love HIM more in return, who has first loved, and so loved us?

"Never a man spoke like this man."
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« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2007, 02:25:48 PM »

The Brief Gospel

"Only believe." —Mark 5:36

The briefest of the "words of Jesus," but one of the most comforting. They contain the essence and epitome of all saving truth.

Reader, is Satan assailing you with tormenting fears? Is the thought of your sins—the guilty past—coming up in terrible memorial before you, almost tempting you to give way to hopeless despondency? Fear not! A gentle voice whispers in your ear—"Only believe. Your sins are great, but My grace and merits are greater. 'Only believe' that I died for you—that I am living for you and pleading for you, and that 'the faithful saying' is as 'faithful' as ever, and as 'worthy of all acceptance' as ever."—Are you a backslider? Did you once run well? Has your own guilty apostasy alienated and estranged you from that face which was once all love, and that service which was once all delight? Are you breathing in broken-hearted sorrow over the holy memories of a close walk with God—"Oh that it were with me as in months past, when the candle of the Lord did shine?" "Only believe." Take this your mournful soliloquy, and convert it into a prayer. "Only believe" the word of Him whose ways are not as man's ways—"Return O backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding."

Are you beaten down with some heavy trial? Have your fondest schemes been blown upon—your fairest blossoms been withered in the bud? has wave after wave been rolling upon you? has the Lord forgotten to be gracious? Hear the "word of Jesus" resounding amid the thickest midnight of gloom—penetrating even through the vaults of the dead—"Believe, only believe." There is an infinite reason for the trial—a lurking thorn that required removal, a gracious lesson that required teaching. The dreadful severing blow was dealt in love. God will be glorified in it, and your own soul made the better for it. Patiently wait until the light of immortality be reflected on a receding world. Here you must take His dealings on trust. The word of Jesus to you now is, "Only believe." The word of Jesus in eternity (every inner meaning and undeveloped purpose being unfolded), "Didn't I tell you that you will see God's glory if you believe?"

Are you fearful and agitated in the prospect of death? Through fear of the last enemy, have you been all your lifetime subject to bondage?—"Only believe." "As your day is, so shall your strength be." Dying grace will be given when a dying hour comes. In the dark river a sustaining arm will be underneath you, deeper than the deepest and darkest wave. Before you know it, the darkness will be past, the true Light shining—the whisper of faith in the nether valley. "Believe! Believe!" will be exchanged for angel-voices exclaiming, as you enter the portals of glory, "No longer through a glass darkly, but now face to face!"

Yes! Jesus Himself had no higher remedy for sin, for sorrow, and for suffering, than those two words convey. At the utmost extremity of His own distress, and of His disciples' wretchedness, He could only say "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me." Believe, only believe.

"Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."
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« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2007, 02:26:19 PM »

The Great Calm

"Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." —Mark 6:50

"It is I" (or as our old version has it, more in accordance with the original), "I AM! do not be afraid!" Jesus lives! His people may dispel their misgivings—Omnipotence treads the waves! To sense it may seem at times to be otherwise—wayward accident and chance may appear to regulate human allotments; but not so: "The Lord's voice is upon the waters"—He sits at the helm guiding the tempest-tossed bark, and guiding it well.

How often does He come to us as He did to the disciples in that midnight hour when all seems lost—"in the fourth watch of the night,"—when we least looked for Him; or when, like the shipwrecked apostle, "The terrible storm raged unabated for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone."—how often just at that moment, is the "word of Jesus" heard floating over the billows!

Believer, are you in trouble? listen to the voice in the storm, "Fear not, I AM." That voice, like Joseph's of old to his brethren, may seem rough, but there are gracious undertones of love. "It is I," he seems to say; It was I, that roused the storm; It is I, who when it has done its work, will calm it, and say, "Peace, be still." Every wave rolls at My bidding—every trial is My appointment—all have some gracious end; they are not sent to dash you against the sunken rocks, but to waft you nearer heaven.

It is sickness? I am He who bore your sicknesses; the weary wasted frame, and the nights of languishing, were sent by Me. Is it bereavement? I am "the Brother" born for adversity—the loved and lost were plucked away by Me. Is it death? I am the "Abolisher of death," seated by your side to calm the waves of ebbing life; it is I, about to fetch My pilgrims home—It is My voice that speaks, "The Master has come, and calls for you."

Reader, you will have reason yet to praise your God for every such storm! This is the history of every heavenly voyager—"SO He brings them to their desired haven." "So!" That word, in all its unknown and diversified meaning, is in His hand. He suits His dealings to every case. "So!" With some it is through quiet seas unfretted by one buffeting wave. "So!" With others it is "mounting up to heaven, and going down again to the deep." But whatever be the leading and the discipline, here is the grand consummation, "SO He brings them unto their desired haven." It might have been with you the moanings of an eternal night-blast—no lull or pause in the storm. But soon the darkness will be past, and the hues of morn tipping the shores of glory!

And what, then, should your attitude be? "Looking unto Jesus"—looking away from self, and sin, and human props and refuges and confidences, and fixing the eye of unwavering and unflinching faith on a reigning Savior. Ah, how a real quickening sight of Christ dispels all guilty fears! The Roman keepers of old were frightened, and became as dead men. The lowly Jewish women feared not; why? "I know that you seek Jesus!" Reader, let your weary spirit fold itself to rest under the composing "word" of a gracious Savior, saying—
"I wait for the lord, my soul does wait, and in HIS WORD do I hope."
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« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2007, 02:26:49 PM »

The Dying Legacy

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you." —John 14:27

How we treasure the last sayings of a dying parent! How specially cherished and memorable are his last looks and last words! Here are the last words—the parting legacy—of a dying Savior. It is a legacy of peace.

What peace is this? It is His own purchase—a peace arising out of free forgiveness through His precious blood. It is sung in concert with "Glory to God in the highest"—a peace made as sure to us as eternal power and infinite love can make it! It is peace the soul needs, that is nowhere else to be found, but through the blood of His cross! "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God." "HE gives His beloved rest!"

How different from the false and counterfeit peace in which so many are content to live, and content to die! The world's peace is all well, so long as prosperity lasts—so long as the stream runs smooth, and the sky is clear; but when the flood is at hand, or the storm is gathering, where is it? It is gone! There is no calculating on its permanency. Often when the cup is fullest, there is the trembling apprehension that in one brief moment it may be dashed to the ground. The soul may be saying to itself, "Peace, peace;" but, like the writing on the sand, it may by obliterated by the first wave of adversity. But, "not as the world gives" the peace of the believer is deep—calm—lasting—everlasting. The world, with all its blandishments, cannot give it. The world, with all its vicissitudes and fluctuations, cannot take it away! It is brightest in the hour of trial; it lights up the final valley-gloom. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace." Yes! how often is the believer's deathbed like the deep calm repose of a summer-evening's sky, when all nature is hushed to rest; the departing soul, like the vanishing sun, peacefully disappearing only to shine in another and brighter universe! "I seem," said Simeon on his deathbed, "to have nothing to do but to wait: there is now nothing but peace, the sweetest peace."

Believer! do you know this peace which passes understanding? Is it "keeping (literally, 'garrisoning as in a citadel') your heart?" Have you learned the blessedness of waking up, morning after morning, and feeling "I am at peace with my God;" of beholding by faith the true Aaron—the great High Priest—coming forth from "the holiest of all" to "bless His people with peace?" Waves of trouble may be murmuring around you, but they cannot touch you; you are in the rock-crevice against which the fiercest tornado sweeps by. Oh! leave not the making up of your peace with God to a dying hour! It will be a hard thing to smooth the death-pillow, if peace be left unsought until then. Make sure of it now. He, the true Melchizedek, is willing now to come forth to meet you with bread and wine—emblems of peaceful gospel blessings. All the "words of Jesus" are so many streams contributing to make your peace flow as a river—"These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace."

"I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace unto his people and to his saints."
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« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2007, 02:27:19 PM »

The Supreme Investiture

"All power in heaven and in earth is given unto me." —Matthew 28:18

What an empire is this! Heaven and earth—the Church militant—the Church triumphant—angels and archangels—saints and seraphs. At His mandate the billows were hushed—demons crouched in terror—the grave yielded its prey! "Upon his head are many crowns." He is made "head over all things to His Church." Yes! over all things, from the minutest to the mightiest. He holds the stars in His right hand—he walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, feeding every candlestick with the oil of His grace, and preserving every star in its spiritual orbit. The Prince of Darkness has "a power," but, God be praised, it is not an "all power;" potent, but not omnipotent. Christ holds him on a chain. He has set bounds that he may not pass over. "Satan," we read in the book of Job, "went out (with permission) from the presence of the Lord." He was not allowed even to enter the herd of swine until Christ permitted him. He only "desired" to have Peter that he might "sift him;" there was a mightier countervailing agency at hand: "I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not."

Believer, how often is there nothing but this grace of Jesus between you and everlasting destruction! Satan's key fitting the lock in your wayward heart—but a stonger than the strong man barring him out. The power of the adversary fanning the flame—the Omnipotence of Jesus quenching it. Are you even now feeling the strength of your corruptions, the weakness of your graces, the presence of some outward or inward temptation? Look up to Him who has promised to make His grace sufficient for you; "all-sufficiency in all things" is His promise. It is power, too, in conjunction with tenderness. He who sways the scepter of universal empire "gently leads" His weak, and weary, and burdened ones—He who counts the number of the stars, loves to count the number of their sorrows; nothing too great, nothing too insignificant for Him. He paves His people's pathway with love!

Blessed Jesus! my everlasting interests cannot be in better or in safer keeping than in Yours. I can exultingly rely on the all-power of Your Godhead. I can sweetly rejoice in the all-sympathy of Your Manhood. I can confidently repose in the all-wisdom of Your dealings. "Sometimes," says one, "we expect the blessing in our own way; He chooses to bestow it in His." But His way and His will must be the best. Infinite love, infinite power, infinite wisdom, are surely infallible guarantees. His purposes nothing can alter. His promises never fail. His word never falls to the ground.

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but MY WORDS shall not pass away."
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« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2007, 02:27:48 PM »

The Divine Glorifier

"He will bring me glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me." —John 16:14

The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus in the unfoldings of His person, and character, and work, to His people! The great ministering agent between the Church on earth and its glorified Head in Heaven—carrying up to the Intercessor on the throne, the ever-recurring needs and trials, the perplexities and sins, of believers; and receiving out of His inexhaustible treasury of love—comfort for their sorrows—strength for their tears—fullness for their emptiness—and this the one sublime end and object of His gracious agency—"He shall glorify Me." "He shall not speak of Himself, but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak." My words of sympathy—My omnipotent pleadings—the tender messages sent from an unchanged Human Heart—all these shall He speak. "He shall tell you," says Goodwin, commenting on this passage, "He shall tell you nothing but stories of My love." He will have an ineffable delight in magnifying Me in the affections of My Church and people, and endearing Me to their hearts; and He is all worthy of credence, for He is "the Spirit of truth."

How faithful has He been in every age to this His great office as "the glorifier of Jesus!" See the first manifestation of His power in the Christian Church at the day of Pentecost. What was the grand truth which forms the focus point of interest in that unparalleled scene, and which brings three thousand stricken penitents to their knees? It is the Spirit's unfolding of Jesus—glorifying Him in eyes that before this, saw in Him no beauty! Hear the keynote of that wondrous sermon, preached "in demonstration of the Spirit, and with power,"—"HIM has God exalted to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to His people, and forgiveness of sins."

Ah! it is still the same peerless truth which the Spirit delights to unfold to the stricken sinner, and, in unfolding it, to make it mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. All these glorious inner beauties of Christ's work and character are undiscerned and undiscernible by the natural eye. "It is the Spirit who quickens." "No man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Spirit." He is the great Forerunner—a mightier than the Baptist—proclaiming, "Behold the Lamb of God!"

Reader! any bright and realizing view you have had of the Savior's glory and excellency, is of the Spirit's imparting. When in some hour of sorrow you have been led to cleave with preeminent consolation to the thought of the Redeemer's exalted sympathy—His dying, ever-living love; or in the hour of death, when you feel the sustaining power of His exceeding great precious promises—what is this, but the Holy Spirit, in fulfillment of His all-gracious office, taking of the things of Christ, and showing them unto you; thus enabling you to magnify Him in your body, whether it be by life or death? As your motto should ever be, "None but Christ," and your ever-increasing aspiration, "More of Christ," seek to bear in mind who it is that is alone qualified to impart the "excellency of this knowledge."

"The Spirit of truth which proceeds from the Father, HE shall testify of ME."
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2007, 02:28:18 PM »

The Joyful Transformation

"Your sorrow shall be turned into joy." —John 16:20

Christ's people are a sorrowing people! Chastisement is their badge—"great tribulation" is their appointed discipline. When they enter the gates of glory, He is represented as wiping away tears from their eyes. But, weeping ones, be comforted! Your Lord's special mission to earth—the great errand He came from heaven to fulfill, was "to bind up the brokenhearted." Your trials are meted out by a tender hand. He knows you too well—He loves you too well—to make this world tearless and sorrowless! "There must be rain, and hail, and storm," says Rutherford, "in the saint's cloud." Were your earthly course strewed with flowers, and nothing but sunbeams played around your dwelling, it would lead you to forget your nomadic life—that you are but a sojourner here. The tent must at times be struck, pin by pin of the moveable tabernacle taken down, to enable you to say and to feel in the spirit of a pilgrim, "I desire a better country." Meantime, while sorrow is your portion, think of Him who says, "I know your sorrows." Angels cannot say so—they cannot sympathize with you, for trial is a strange word to them. But there is a mightier than they who can. All He sends you and appoints you is in love. There is a provision and condition wrapped up in the bosom of every affliction—"if need be;" coming from His hand, sorrows and riches are to His people equivalent terms. If tempted to murmur at their trials they are often murmuring at disguised mercies. "Why do you ask me," said Simeon, on his deathbed, "what I like? I am the Lord's patient—I cannot but like everything."

And then—"your sorrow shall be turned into joy." "The morning comes"—that bright morning when the dew-drops collected during earth's night of weeping shall sparkle in its beams; when in one blessed moment a lifelong experience of trial will be effaced and forgotten, or remembered only by contrast, to enhance the fullness of the joys of immortality. What a revelation of gladness! The map of time disclosed, and every little streamlet of sorrow, every river will be seen to have been flowing heavenwards—every rough blast to have been sending the ship nearer the haven! In that joy, God Himself will participate. In the last "words of Jesus" to His people when they are standing by the triumphal archway of Glory, ready to enter on their thrones and crowns, He speaks of their joy as if it were all His own. "Enter into the joy of your Lord."

Reader, may this joy be yours! Sit loose to the world's joys. Have a feeling of chastened gratitude and thankfulness when you have them; but beware of resting in them, or investing them with a permanency they cannot have. Jesus had his eye on heaven when He added—"Your joy no man takes from you."
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« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2007, 02:28:52 PM »

The Omnipotent Prayer

"Father, I will that they also whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory." —John 17:24

This is not the petition of a suppliant, but the claim of a conqueror. There was only one request He ever made, or ever can make, that was refused; it was the prayer wrung forth by the presence and power of superhuman anguish: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!" Had that prayer been answered, never could one consolatory "word of Jesus" have been ours. "If it be possible"—but for that gracious parenthesis, we must have been lost forever! In unmurmuring submission, the bitter cup was drained; all the dread penalties of the law were borne, the atonement completed, an all-perfect righteousness wrought out; and now, as the stipulated reward of His obedience and sufferings, the Victor claims His trophies. What are they? Those that were given Him of the Father—the countless multitudes redeemed by His blood. These He "wills" to be with Him "where He is"—the spectators of His glory, and partakers of His crown. Wondrous word and will of a dying testator! His last prayer on earth is an importunate pleading for their glorification; His parting wish is to meet them in heaven—as if these earthly jewels were needed to make His crown complete—their happiness and joy the needful complement of His own!

Reader! learn from this the grand element in the bliss of your future condition—it is the presence of Christ; "with ME where I am." It matters comparatively little as to the locality of heaven. "We shall see Him as He is," is "the blessed hope" of the Christian. Heaven would be no heaven without Jesus; the withdrawal of His presence would be like the blotting out of the sun from the firmament; it would uncrown every seraph, and unstring every harp. But, blessed thought! it is His own stipulation in His testamentary prayer, that Eternity is to be spent in union and communion with Himself, gazing on the unfathomed mysteries of His love, becoming more assimilated to His glorious image, and drinking deeper from the ocean of His own joy.

If anything can enhance the magnitude of this promised bliss, it is the concluding words of the verse, in which He grounds His plea for its bestowment: "I will—that they behold My glory;"—why? "For You loved (not them, but) ME before the foundation of the world!" It is equivalent to saying, "If You would give Me a continued proof of Your everlasting love and favor to Me, it is by loving and exalting My redeemed people. In loving them and glorifying them, You are loving and glorifying Me—so endearingly are their interests and My own bound up together!"

Believer, think of that all-prevailing Voice, at this moment pleading for you within the veil!—that omnipotent "Father, I will," securing every needed boon! There is given, so to speak, a blank check by which He and His people may draw unlimited supplies out of the exhaustless treasury of the Father's grace and love. God Himself endorses it with the words, "Son, You are ever with me, and all that I have is Yours." How it would reconcile us to Earth's bitterest sorrows, and hallow Earth's holiest joys, if we saw them thus hanging on the "will" of an all-wise Intercessor, who ever pleads in love, and never pleads in vain!

"Be it unto me according to YOUR WORD."
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« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2007, 02:29:22 PM »

The Immutable Pledge

"Because I live, you shall live also." —John 14:19

God sometimes selects the most stable and enduring objects in the material world to illustrate His unchanging faithfulness and love to His Church—"As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so does the Lord compass his people." But here, the Redeemer fetches an argument from His own everlasting nature. He stakes, so to speak, His own existence on that of His saints—"Because I live, you shall live also."

Believer! read in this "word of Jesus" your glorious title-deed. Your Savior lives—and His life is the guarantee of your own. Our true Joseph is alive. "He is our Brother. He talks kindly to us! That life of His, is all that is between us and everlasting ruin. But with Christ for our life, how inviolable our security! The great Fountain of being must first be dried up, before the streamlet can. The great Sun must first be quenched, before one glimmering disciple which He lights up with splendor can. Satan must first pluck the crown from that glorified Head, before he can touch one jewel in the crown of His people. They cannot shake one pillar without shaking first the throne. "If we perish," says Luther, "Christ perishes with us."

Reader! is your life now "hidden with Christ in God?" Do you know the blessedness of a vital and living union with a living, life-giving Savior? Can you say with humble and joyous confidence, amid the fitfulness of your own ever-changing frames and feelings, "Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me"? "Jesus lives!"—They are the happiest words a lost soul and a lost world can hear! Job, four thousand years ago, rejoiced in them. "I know," says he, "that I have a living Kinsman." John, in his Patmos exile, rejoiced in them. "I am He that lives" (or the Living One), was the simple but sublime utterance with which he was addressed by that same "Kinsman," when He appeared arrayed in the lusters of His glorified humanity. "This is the record" (as if there was a whole gospel comprised in the statement), "that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." Paul, in the 8th chapter to the Romans—that finest portraiture of Christian character and privilege ever drawn, begins with "no condemnation," and ends with "no separation." Why "no separation?" Because the life of the believer is incorporated with that of his adorable Head and Surety. The colossal Heart of redeemed humanity beats upon the throne, sending its mighty pulsations through every member of His body; so that, before the believer's spiritual life can be destroyed, Omnipotence must become feebleness, and Immutability become mutable! But, blessed Jesus, "Your word is very sure, therefore Your servant loves it."

"I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
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« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2007, 02:29:52 PM »

The Abiding Presence

"Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." —Matthew 28:20

Such were "the words of Jesus" when He was just about to ascend to Heaven. The mediatorial throne was in view—the harps of glory were sounding in His ears; but all His thoughts are on the pilgrim Church He is to leave behind. His last words and benedictions are for them. "I go," He seems to say, "to Heaven, to my purchased crown—to the fellowship of angels—to the presence of my Father; but, nevertheless, Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

How faithfully did the Apostles, to whom this promise was first addressed, experience its reality! Hear the testimony of the beloved disciple who had once leaned on his Divine Master's bosom—who "had heard, and seen, and looked upon Him." That glorified bosom was now hidden from his sight; but does he speak of an absent Lord, and of His fellowship only among the holy memories of the past? No! with rejoicing emphasis he can exclaim—"Truly our fellowship is with Jesus Christ."

Amid so much that is fleeting here, how the heart clings to this assurance of the abiding presence of the Savior! Our best earthly friends—a few weeks may estrange them—but centuries have rolled on—Christ is still the same. How blessed to think that if I am indeed a child of God, there is not the lonely instant I am without His guardianship! When the beams of the morning visit my chamber, the brighter beams of a brighter Sun are shining upon me. When the shadows of evening are gathering around, "it is not night, if He, the unsetting 'Sun of my soul,' is near." His is no fitful companionship—present in prosperity, gone in adversity. He never changes. He is always the same—in sickness and solitude, in joy and in sorrow, in life and in death. Not more faithfully did the pillar-cloud and column of fire of old precede Israel, until the last murmuring ripple of Jordan fell on their ears on the shores of Canaan, than does the presence and love of Jesus abide with His people. Has His word of promise ever proved false? Let the great cloud of witnesses now in glory testify. "Not one thing has failed of all that the Lord our God has spoken." This "word of the Lord is tried!"—"having loved His own, which were in the world, He loved them unto the end."

Believer! are you troubled and tempted? Do dark providences and severe afflictions seem to belie the truth and reality of this gracious assurance? Are you ready, with Gideon, to say, "If the Lord be indeed with us, why has all this befallen us?" Be assured He has some faithful end in view. By the removal of prized and cherished earthly props and refuges, He would unfold more of his own tenderness. Amid the wreck and ruin of earthly joys, which, it may be, the grave has hidden from your sight, One nearer, dearer, tenderer still, would have you say of Himself, "The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted." "Thanks be to God, who always makes us to triumph in Christ." Yes! and never more so than when, stripped of all competing objects of creature affection, we are left, like the disciples on the mount, with "Jesus only!"

"These things have I spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace."
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« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2007, 02:30:23 PM »

The Resurrection And Life

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." —John 11:25

What a voice is this breaking over a world which for six thousand years has been a dormitory of sin and death! For four thousand of these years, heathendom could observe no light through the bars of the grave; her oracles were speechless on the great doctrine of a future state, and more especially regarding the body's resurrection. Even the Jewish Church, under the Old Testament dispensation, seemed to enjoy little more than fitful and uncertain glimmerings, like men groping in the dark. It required death's great Abolisher to show, to a benighted world, the luminous "path of life." With Him rested the "bringing in of a better hope"—the unfolding of "the mystery which had been hidden from ages and generations." Marvelous disclosure! that this mortal frame, decomposed and resolved into its original dust, shall yet start from its ashes, remodeled and reconstructed—"a glorified body!" Not like "the earthly tabernacle" (a mere shifting and moveable tent, as the word denotes), but incorruptible—immortal! The beauteous transformation of the insect from its embryo state—the buried seed springing up from its tiny grave to the full-eared corn or gorgeous flower—these are nature's mute utterances as to the possibility of this great truth, which required the unfoldings of "a more sure word of prophecy." But the Gospel has fully revealed what Reason, in her loftiest imaginings, could not have dreamt of. Jesus "has brought life and immortality to light." He, the Bright and Morning Star, has "turned the shadow of death into the morning." He gives, in His own resurrection, the pledge of that of His people—He is the first-fruits of the immortal harvest yet to be gathered into the garner of Heaven.

Precious truth! This "word of Jesus" spans like a celestial rainbow the entrance to the dark valley. Death is robbed of its sting. In the case of every child of God, the grave holds in custody precious dust, because it is redeemed. Talk of it not, as being committed to a dishonored tomb!—it is locked up, rather, in the casket of God until the day "when He makes up His jewels," when it will be fashioned in deathless beauty like unto the glorified body of the Redeemer. Angels, meanwhile, are commissioned to keep watch over it, until the trumpet of the archangel shall proclaim the great "Easter of creation." They are the "reapers," waiting for the world's great "Harvest Home," when Jesus Himself shall come again—not as He once did, humiliated and in sorrow, but rejoicing in the thought of bringing back all His sheaves with Him.

Afflicted and bereaved Christian!—you who may be mourning in bitterness those who have died—rejoice through your tears in these hopes "full of immortality." The silver cord is only "loosed," not broken. Perchance, as you stand in the chamber of death, or by the brink of the grave—in the depths of that awful solitude and silence which reigns around—this may be your plaintive and mournful soliloquy—"Shall the dust praise You?" Yes, it shall! This very dust that hears now unheeded your footsteps, and unmoved your tears, shall through eternity praise its redeeming God—it shall proclaim His truth!

"Lord, to whom shall we go but unto you; you have the WORDS of ETERNAL LIFE."
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« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2007, 02:30:58 PM »

The Little While

"In just a little while I will be gone, and you won't see me anymore. Then, just a little while after that, you will see me again." —John. 16:16

Long seem the moments when we are separated from the friend we love. An absent brother—how his return is looked and longed for! The "Elder Brother"—the "Living Kinsman"—sends a message to His waiting Church and people—a word of solace, telling that soon ("a little while"), and He will be back again, never again to leave them.

There are indeed blessed moments of communion which the believer enjoys with His beloved Lord now; but how fitful and transient! Today, life is a brief Emmaus Journey—the soul happy in the presence and love of an unseen Savior. Tomorrow, He is gone; and the bereft spirit is led to interrogate itself in plaintive sorrow—"Where is now your God?" Even when there is no such experience of darkness and depression, how much there is in the world around to fill the believer with sadness! His Lord rejected and disowned—His love set at nothing—His providences slighted—His name blasphemed—His creation groaning and travailing in pain—disunion, too, among His people—His loving heart wounded in the house of His friends!

But, in just a little while, and all this mystery of iniquity will be finished. The absent Brother's footfall will soon be heard—no longer "as a wayfaring man who turns aside to tarry for a night," but to receive His people into the permanent "mansions" His love has been preparing and from which they shall go no more out. Oh, blessed day! when creation will put on her Easter robes—when her Lord, so long dishonored, will be enthroned amid the Hosannahs of a rejoicing universe—angels lauding Him—saints crowning Him—sin, the dark plague-spot on His universe, extinguished forever—death swallowed up in eternal victory!

And it is but "a little while!" "Yet a little while," we elsewhere read, "and He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry." "He will stay not a moment longer", says Goodwin, "than He has despatched all our business in Heaven for us." With what joy will He send His mission-Angel with the announcement, "the little while is at an end;" and to issue the invitation to the great festival of glory, "Come! for all things are ready!"

Child of sorrow! think often of this "little while." "The days of your mourning will soon be ended." There is a limit set to your suffering time—"After you have suffered a while." Every wave is numbered between you and the haven; and then when that haven is reached, oh, what an apocalypse of glory!—the "little while" of time merged into the great and unending "while" of eternity!—to be forever with the Lord—the same unchanged and unchanging Savior!

"A little while, and you shall see Me!" Would that the eye of faith might be kept more intently fixed on "that glorious appearing!" How the world, with its guilty fascinations, tries to dim and obscure this blessed hope! How the heart is prone to throw out its tendrils into the earth, and get them rooted in some perishable object! Reader! seek to dwell more habitually on this the grand consummation of all your dearest wishes. "Stand on the edge of your nest, pluming your wings for flight." Like the mother of Sisera, be looking for the expected chariot.

"He is faithful that promised."
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