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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Favorite Pastor Poems

Favorite Pastor Poems

Love's Immensity

O past and gone!
How great is God! how small am I!
A mote in the illimitable sky,
Amidst the glory deep, and wide, and high
Of Heaven's unclouded sun.
There to forget myself for evermore;
Lost, swallowed up in Love's immensity,
The sea that knows no sounding, and no shore,
God only there, not I.

More near than I unto myself can be,
Art Thou to me;
So have I lost myself in finding Thee,
Have lost myself for ever, O my Sun!
The boundless Heaven of Thine eternal love
Around me, and beneath me, and above,
In glory of that golden day
The former things are passed away -
I, past and gone.

~Gerhard Tersteegen~
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The Rest of Faith

All Must Be Well!

Through the love of God our Saviour,
All will be well;
Free and changeless is His favor,
All, all is well;
Precious is the blood that heal'd us,
Perfect is the grace that seal'd us,
Strong the hand stretch'd out to shield us,
All must be well.

Though we pass through tribulation,
All will be well;
Ours is such a full salvation,
All, all is well;
Happy,still in God confiding,
Fruitful, if in Christ abiding,
Holy, through the Spirit's guiding,
All must be well.

We expect a bright tomorrow,
All will be well;
Faith can sing, through days of sorrow,
All, all is well;
On our Father's love relying,
Jesus ev'ry need supplying,
Or in living or in dying,
All must be well.

~Mary Bowley Peters~
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Sweet the Moments, Rich In Blessing

Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the Cross I spend;
Life and health and peace possessing
From the sinner's dying Friend.

Truly blessed is this station,
Low before His Cross to lie,
While I see divine compassion
Beaming in His languid eye.

Love and grief my heart dividing,
With my tears His feet I'll bathe;
Constant still in faith abiding,
Life deriving from His death.

For thy sorrows we adore Thee
For the griefs that wrought our peace
Gracious Saviour! we implore Thee,
In our hearts Thy love increase.

~Walter Shelly~ 
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Would Jesus Have the Sinner Die?

Would Jesus have the sinner die?
Why hangs He then on yonder tree?
What means that strange expiring cry?
Sinners, He prays for you and me;
Forgive them, Father, O forgive!
They know not that by Me they live.

Jesus descended from above,
Our loss of Eden to retrieve,
Great God of universal love,
If all the world through Thee may live,
In us a quick'ning spirit be,
And witness Thou hast died for me.

Thou loving, all-atoning Lamb,
Thee, by Thy painful agony,
Thy bloody sweat, Thy grief and shame,
Thy Cross and passion on the tree,
Thy precious death and life I pray,
Take all, take all my sins away.

O let Thy love my heart constrain,
Thy love, for every sinner free,
That every fallen son of man
May taste the grace that found out me;
That all mankind with me may prove
Thy sov'reign, everlasting love.

~Charles Wesley~
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He Dies! The Friend of Sinner Dies!

He dies! the Friend of sinners dies!
Lo! Salem's daughters weep around;
A soleman darkness veils the skies,
A sudden trembling shakes the ground;
Come, saints, and drop a tear or two
For Him who groan'd beneath your load;
He shed a thousand drops for you,
A thousand drops of richer blood.

Here's love and grief beyond degree;
The Lord of glory dies for man!
But lo! what sudden joys we see:
Jesus, the dead, revives again.
The rising God forsakes the tomb;
In vain the tomb forbids His rise;
Cherubic legions guard Him home,
And shout Him welcome to the skies.

Break off your tears, ye saints and tell
How high your great Deliv'rer reigns;
Sing how He spoil'd the hosts of hell,
And led the monster death in chains:
Say, Live forever, wondrous King!
Born to redeem, and strong to save;
Then ask the monster, Where's thy sting?
And, Where's thy vict'ry, boasting grave?

~Isaac Watts~


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Favorite Pastor Quotes 4

Favorite Pastor Quotes 4

We dwell within the palm of God's hand!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15

Not only are we, ourselves, in the hand of the Lord--but all that surrounds us is in His hand! Our times make up a kind of atmosphere of existence--and all of this is under His divine arrangement.

We dwell within the palm of God's hand!
 We are absolutely at His disposal--and all our circumstances are arranged by Him in all their details. We are comforted to have it so!

When one knows that his times are in God's hands--he would not change places with a king! No, nor even with an angel!

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Forward, and Not Back
J. R. Miller
It is a good thing always to face forward. Even nature shows that men's eyes were designed to always look forward—for no man has eyes in the back of his head, as all men certainly would have—if it had been intended that they should spend much time in looking backward. We like to have Bible authority for our rules in life, and there is a very plain word of Scripture which says, "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you!" Proverbs 4:25
There is also a striking scriptural illustration in the greatest of the apostles, who crystallized the central principle of his active life in the remarkable words, "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are ahead, I press toward the mark!" The picture is of a man running in a race. He sees only one thing—the goal yonder. He does not trouble himself to look back to see how far he has come—or how far the other runners are behind him; he does not even look to the right hand or to the left—to catch glimpses of his friends who are watching him and cheering him. His eyes look right on to the goal, while he bends every energy to the race.
That is the picture which Paul drew of himself as a man, as a Christian; he forgot his past—and lived only for his future. We must remember, too, that he was an old man when he wrote these words. Looking at him, we would say there was but little before him now to live for—but a little margin of life left to him. The young look forward naturally, because everything is before them—the long, bright future years, seem to stretch out for them almost inimitably; they live altogether in hope, and as yet have no memories to draw their eyes and their hearts backward and to chain their lives to the past. But old people, who have spent most of their allotted years and have but a small and fast-crumbling edge of life remaining, are much prone to live almost entirely in the past. The richest treasures of their hearts are there, left behind and passed by, and so their eyes and their thoughts are drawn backward, rather than forward.
Here, however, was one old man who cared nothing for what was past, and who lived altogether in hope, pressing on with quenchless enthusiasm into the future. What was gone was nothing to him—in comparison with what was yet to come. The best things in his life were still to be won; his noblest achievements were yet to be wrought; his soul was still full of unrealized visions—which would yet be realized. His eye pierced death's veil, for to him life meant immortality, and earth's horizon was not its boundary.
The last glimpse we have of this old man—he is about going forth from his Roman, dungeon to martyrdom—but he is still reaching forth and pressing on into the Eternal Before. His keen eye is fixed on a glory which other men could not see, as with exultation he cried, "The time of my departure is at hand. . . . Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown!"
There is something very sublime in such a life, and it ought to have its inspirations for us. We ought to train ourselves to live by the same rule. There is a tremendous waste in human energy and in all life's powers—resulting from the habit of ever turning to look backward. While we stand thus, with arms folded, peering back into the mists and the shadows of the dead past—the great, resistless, never-resting tides of life are sweeping on, and we are simply left behind. And few things are sadder than this—men with their powers yet at their best, left behind in the race, and left alone—because they stop and stand and look backward—instead of keeping their eyes to the front and bravely pressing on to the things ahead!
It is every way better to look forward—than to look back. The life—follows the eye; we live—as we look. But what is there ever behind us to live for? There is no work to do; no tasks wait there for accomplishment; no opportunities for helpfulness or usefulness lie in the past. Opportunities, when once they have passed by, never linger—that tardy laggards may yet come up and seize them; passed once, they are gone forever!
We cannot impress ourselves in any way upon the past; the records which are written all over the pages of yesterday, were made when yesterday was the living present. We cannot make any change on the past; we can undo nothing there, correct nothing, erase nothing.
We may get a measure of inspiration from other men's past—as we study their biographies and their achievements and grasp the secrets of their power.
"Lives of great men all remind us
 We can make our lives sublime,
 And, departing, leave behind us
 Footprints on the sands of time."
Then, we may get something, too, from our own past—in the lessons of experience which we have learned. He certainly lives very heedlessly, whose days yield no wisdom. Yesterday's mistakes and failures, should make the way plainer and straighter today. Past sorrows, too, should enrich our lives. All one's past is in the life of each new day—all its spirit, all its lessons, all its accumulated wisdom, all its power—lives in each present moment. Yet this benefit that comes from the things that are behind, avails only when it becomes impulse and energy to send us forward the more resistlessly and wisdom to guide us the more safely.
Therefore we should never waste a moment in looking back at our past attainments. Yet there are people who, especially in their later years, do little else. They are accomplished egotists—yet they never have anything but very old heroisms and achievements to talk about. They are talkative enough concerning the great things they have done—but it was always a long time ago, that they did them. All the grand and noble things in their life—are little more than past traditions. Their religious experiences, also, are of old date, and they seem never to have any new ones. Their testimonies and their prayers in the conference-meeting are quite like the tunes of street-organs—the same always every time you hear them; they never get a new tune, not even a new and revised edition of the old one. With mechanical invariableness and endless repetition, they relate the same experiences year after year. They can tell a great deal about what they felt, and what they did—a long time ago—but not a word about what they felt and what they did yesterday.
The utter inadequacy and the unworthiness of such living, are apparent at a glance. No past glory avails, for this living present. The radiance of last night, will not make the stars brilliant tonight; the beauty of last summer's flowers, will not do for the flowers of this summer; the industry of early manhood, will not achieve results in mid-life or in old age; the heroism of yesterday, will win no laurels for the brow today. What does it matter—that one did great things some time in the past? The question is—What is he doing now?
Suppose a man had ecstatic religious experiences ten or twenty years ago; ought he not to have had still more ecstatic experiences every year since? Suppose a man did a noble thing twenty-five years ago; why should he still sound the praises of that one lone deed after so long a lapse of time? Ought he not to have done just as noble things all along his life—as he did that particular day a quarter-century ago?
The ideal life, is one that does its best every day—and sees ever in tomorrow, an opportunity for something better than today. It is sad when any one has to look back for his best achievements and his highest attainments. However lofty the plane reached, the face should still be turned forward—and the heart should still be reaching onward for its best.
The true life has its image in the tree which drops its ripe fruits in the autumn and forgets them, leaving them to be food for the hungry; while it straightway begins to prepare for another year's fruits. What an abnormal thing it would be, for an apple tree to bear one abundant crop—and then never again produce anything each year, but a few scattered apples hanging lonesome on the wide-spreading branches, while the tree continued to glory year after year in its superb yield of long ago!
Is such a life any more fitting for an immortal man—than for a soulless fruit tree? Immortality should never content itself, with any past. Not back—but forward, always should our eyes be bent. The years should be ladder-steps upward, each lifting us higher. Even death should not intercept the onward look, for surely the best things are never on this side—but always on beyond death's mists. Death is not a wall cutting off the path and ending all progress: it is a gate—an open gate—through which the life sweeps on through eternity! Progress, therefore, is endless, and the goal is ever unreached!
Even the mistakes and the sins of the past—should not draw our eyes back. Sins should instantly be confessed, repented of and forsaken—and that should be the end of them! To brood over them—does no good; we can never undo them, and no tears can obliterate the fact of their commission. The way to show true sorrow for wrong-doing, is not to sit in sackcloth and ashes weeping over the ruin wrought—but to pour all the energy of our regret, into new obedience and better service! We cannot change the past—but the future, we can yet make beautiful, if we will. It would be sad if in weeping over the sins of yesterday, we should lose today also! Not an instant, therefore, should be wasted in unavailing regret when we have failed; the only thing to do with mistakes—is not to repeat them; while, at the same time, we set about striving to get some gain or blessing from them.

Defeats in life should never detain us long, since only faith and courage are needed to change them into real victories. For, after all, it is character we are building in this world; and if we use every experience to promote our growth, to make us better; if we emerge from it stronger, braver, truer, nobler—we have lost nothing—but have been the gainer. In reverses and misfortunes, then, we have but to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, caring only that no harm comes to our soul from the loss or the trial; and thus we shall be victorious. If we stop and look back with despairing heart, at the wreck of our hopes and plans—our defeat will be real and humiliating! Like Lot's wife, we shall be buried beneath the encrusting salt! But if we resolutely turn away from the failure or the ruin—and press on to brighter things—things that cannot perish—we shall get victory and win blessedness and eternal gain!

Look forward—and not back! Live to make tomorrow beautiful, not to stain yesterday with tears of regret and grief.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Favorite Pastor Quotes 3

Favorite Pastor Quotes 3


The jewelry of the Bible!

(Octavius Winslow, "The Preciousness of the Divine Promises") 

"God has given us His very great and precious promises!" 2 Peter 1:4The promises of God are the jewelry of the Bible! 
Every page of the sacred volume is rich and sparkling with these divine assurances of Jehovah's love, faithfulness, and power towards His people. 

Upon no spot in this wilderness world can the Christian plant his foot, strange and untrodden though that path may be--but a gem from this casket meets his eye, the sight of which inspires his heart with confidence, his spirit with comfort, his soul with hope! 

Imagine what would have been the condition of God's children apart from the divine promises of which the blessed volume is so full. What must have been the desolateness, the sadness, and the sinking--did we not have the divine assurances of God's Word to rely on; by which we are . . .
  guided in our march heavenward, 
  upheld in weakness, 
  cheered in depression, and
  conducted step by step to final blessedness. 

The promises are comprehensive in their character, and adapted to all the varied circumstances of our individual history. Child of God, you cannot conceive of . . .
  any condition in which you may be placed,
  any circumstance by which you may be surrounded,
  any sorrow by which you may be depressed,
  any perils that may confront you,
  any darkness that may overshadow you,
  or any needs that you may have--
in which you may not find some precious promises of His blessed Word which meet your case! 

The promises of Scripture are exceedingly precious, because they are all signed and sealed with the heart's blood of Jesus! They are the throbbings of the infinite love of Jesus! The promises are but echoes of His heart sounding from each page of the sacred volume! 

If you are sin-burdened or sorrow-stricken--just stretch forth your hand and receive these precious jewels as they flow out from the open casket of God's Word!

The promises have stanched may a bleeding wound. 

The promises have dried many a falling tear. 

The promises have calmed many a disturbed mind. 

The promises have guided feet through many a labyrinth.

The promises have shed light on many a lonely path. 

The promises, like voices of music, have broken sweetly on many a dreary night of weeping and woe. 

We have these rich clusters of precious promises bending down from the Tree of Life! 
We may pluck them at all times, in all seasons, and under all circumstances!
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I always carry an oil can in my pocket!

(J.R. Miller, "Intimate Letters on Personal Problems" 1914)

There is a good illustration in one of Dr. Parkhurst's books. He tells of a workman who was in a trolley-car one day. As the door was opened and shut, it squeaked. The workman quietly got up and, taking a little can from his pocket, dropped some oil upon the offending spot, saying as he sat down, "I always carry an oil can in my pocket, for there are so many squeaky things in this world which a little oil will help."
Dr. Parkhurst applies this to life, saying that love is a lubricant with which we can soften or prevent a great many unpleasant frictions with others--if we always have love and will speak the gentle word, the soft word, the kindly word, at the right time. I used the illustration recently in my church in a sermon, and suggested to the people that they all carry oil cans, thus trying to make the world a little sweeter place to live in.
"I am not writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning--that we love one another." 2 John 1:5
"The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you--so you must love one another." John 13:34
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How shall I follow in His steps?

(Alexander Smellie, "The Secret Place")

"Leaving an example for you to follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

How shall I follow in His steps?

The first requisite is a personal relationship to Him. I cannot wear the loveliness of Jesus--until I drink deep of the forgiveness of Jesus. From the Cross where He has saved me--I set out on the pilgrim-road of imitation.
It is necessary, also, that love for Him leaps and flames in my soul. No amount of intellectual comprehension is enough. The heart must enthrone Him, must adore Him, must turn to Him with the invitableness and the trust of the sunflower turning to the sun. I can only resemble Him, if my affection for Him is profound, controlling, and pervasive.
And there must be intimacy with my Lord. I am to share His thoughts, His temper, His motives, His decisions.
I must dwell much with Himself in prayer.
I must often meditate on the story of His life and death.
These are some of the modes in which I shall touch and grasp and imitate the grace and the wisdom and the loveliness and thegentleness and the splendor of Jesus Christ.
"Whoever says he abides in Him, ought to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself." 1 John 2:6 (Amplified Bible)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Favorite Pastor Quotes 2

Favorite Pastor Quotes 2


We Have a Trustworthy Guide


Hanging on my office wall is a print that I’ve had for nearly 60 years. It shows the Lord Jesus standing behind a young man whose eyes are focused in the direction that the Master is pointing. Jesus’ hand is on the man’s shoulder, and I imagine He is saying, “This is the way we’re going. I will get you to the destination.” Although the road will be marked with both joy and suffering, the Lord leads His followers all the way to their eternal home.
Anyone who is honest will admit that he or she is ill-equipped to go through life alone. Our all-knowing God created us with a need for His guidance. In our own strength, knowledge, and reasoning power, we are simply not able to figure out how to make the wisest decisions. But the Lord’s assuring hand at our shoulder can lead us down right paths to good choices.
The Lord is willing and able to guide us, if we will let Him. It isn’t difficult to fall in step with Him. Acknowledge that you have wandered down paths of life that led to sin and disobedience. Choose to follow His lead instead by reading the Word of God and applying biblical principles to your life. And learn to pray through both large and small decisions as you seek the path He has set for you.
Just beyond our last heartbeat lies eternity. That’s where our Savior is pointing us. The path may not be clear to our eyes, but Jesus is leading us there with a steady and sure hand. Our part is to follow in obedience so that we may reach heaven and hear the Father say, “Well done.”

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~
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Today's ReadingGenesis 16Matthew 5:27-28

Today's Thoughts: Fall on your Face

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly."  Then Abram fell on his faceand God talked with him. >Genesis 17:1-3 

Notice what the last verse says: "Then Abram fell on his face." The Lord has appeared to Abram and has begun to speak to him. As soon as Abram hears the Lord, he falls on his face. It does not say that he knelt down or bowed to the ground. It says he "fell on his face." We are not told from the Scriptures how the Lord appeared to Abram or how He spoke to him, but we can assume that Abram recognized the appearance and voice of God Almighty. At that moment, Abram lost all composure. Then, God talked with him some more. As the chapter continues, God continues to speak to Abram. What an awesome experience to be in the presence of God!
How do you react to the presence of God? When was the last time you fell on your face before the Lord? Many Christians today have never heard the Lord speak to them and have no idea of what it means to be in God's presence. Just saying you heard the Lord speak at all can bring raised eyebrows and concerned looks from other believers. Does the Lord still speak to His people? Can we really be in His presence and know it is Him? The answers are yes and yes. Yes, we can fall on our faces in the presence of holy God and yes, He will talk to us. 
We wrote and taught a study called "Practicing the Presence of God," and in the study we included two sections on how to Practice the Presence of Hearing God's Voice. The response from Christians was enlightening and encouraging. Those who had never experienced an intimacy with the Lord learned how to worship and pray. Those who were not sure how to know if they were hearing God's voice learned how to find confirmation in the Word as well as other ways that God confirms His message to us. Most of all, we learned how to fall on our face in worship, how to come to His throne in reverence, and how to know His presence.
Today, find time to fall on your face and worship the Lord. Ask Him to speak to you through His Word and to confirm His message to you through His Spirit. Your day will be blessed and nothing else will matter as much as it once did.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~
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The Path of Life


Life is like an untraveled trail with complex twists and turns. Appealing activities can be detours that lead to the quicksand of sin. And engaging philosophies may form side paths that end up in a mire of muddled thinking. Even the best route isn’t all sun-dappled meadows and quiet riverside lanes. We may at times have to journey over hard terrain or shadowed valleys. The only way to be sure we’re walking right is to follow one who knows the way perfectly.
God is the perfect, full-service Guide. No one can go wrong by keeping to the pathways He selects. Consider that He lovingly and intentionally created you for this time and this place. The Lord watches over your steps because He desires to see your purpose fulfilled and His plan come to fruition through you (Prov. 3:5-6). Therefore, He promises to counsel those who follow Him (Ps. 25:12). When God warns His children away from a tempting sidetrack, it is because He foresees the dangers that lurk on that road.
There’s a correlation between ignoring God’s guidance and ending up in trouble: the one who stumbles off course has trusted his own “sense of direction”--his emotions, desires, or personal version of morality. He’s been pursuing what feels good or looks right instead of seeking the Lord’s will.
God has mapped out the path before you. He is aware of every obstacle and miry pit, and He knows exactly which sidetracks will tempt you. What’s more, He has committed to walk beside you as a Guide and Comforter so that you never face the twists and turns of this life alone.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~
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Giving When No One Sees

Matthew 6:1-4 gives some important insight into giving,
"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.  Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.  Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."
Jesus points us to a truth that is vital to us as Christians:  Giving is an issue of the heart.
God will not honor your giving if, when you give, your heart is saying, "I want everyone to know what I'm doing.  I want to be noticed when I give.  I want everyone to know just how generous and kind I am and what a benevolent heart I have."
We should give with a pure motive.  When we give with the right motive, not to be seen by men but out of a right heart, God will reward us openly.  That may not exactly translate into dollars and cents, but it will translate into tangible blessings, things that people can see.
If nobody else knows you kicked in the extra hundred bucks, don't worry about it.  God sees, and He has a way of rewarding you openly.  Everyone will recognize the hand of God is on you.  God's blessings will come into your life.
So when you give, check your heart to make sure you are giving with the right motive.

~Bayless Conley~
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Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands - Genesis 16:9
Poor Hagar! No wonder that she fled. Her proud Arab independence and the sense of coming motherhood made her rebel against Sarah's hard dealings. We have often meditated flight, if we have not actually fled from intolerable conditions. Of  course, when God opens the door out of a dungeon we need not hesitate, as Peter did, to rise and follow. But this is very different to flight from the post of duty.
Our Cross. - For Hagar, Sarah; for Hannah, Penninah; for David, Joab; for Jesus, Judas; for Paul, Alexander the coppersmith. Life assumes hard and forbidding aspects.  Sometimes the cross is not a person, but a trial, the pressure of a slow and lingering disease; the demand for grinding and persistent toil; the weight of overmastering anxiety for those dearer than life, who have no knowledge of God.
Our Demeanor. - Return and submit. We are apt to suppose that we shall get rest and peace elsewhere. It is not so, however. Nowhere else shall we find the path less rugged, or the pillow less hard. To evade the yoke will not give us heartsease. The Master's advice is that we shall take His yoke, and bear it as He did; remain where God has put us, till He shows us another place; and bear what He ordains and permits, even though it comes through the means of others. Our Faith. - We cannot patiently submit to our lot unless we believe that what God permits is as much His will as what He appoints. Behind Sarah's hard dealings we must behold His permissive providence. Through all the discipline of life we must believe that God has a purpose of unfailing love and wisdom. Then our submission is not stoicism, but loving acquiescence in our Father's will.

~F. B. Meyer~

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Favorite Pastor Quotes

Favorite Pastor Quotes


The more bloody--the more lovely!

(Thomas Watson, "The Loveliness of Christ")

"Yes, He is altogether lovely!" Song of Solomon 5:16 

Lost men cannot see the stupendous beauty of Christ. All sparkling beauties are found in Him, but they lack eyes! 

He is infinitely and superlatively lovely! All that we could ever say about Jesus falls infinitely short of His matchless worth. He is pure, unspotted beauty! There is an infinite resplendency, a sparkling luster to His beauty! 

Jesus is most lovely in His sufferings, when He made an atonement for our sins. What, lovely in His sufferings? Lovely when He was buffeted, spit upon, and besmeared with blood?

Oh yes, He was most lovely upon the cross, when He showed most love to us.

He bled love at every vein! 

Those drops were love drops! 

The more bloody--the more lovely!Oh how lovely ought a bleeding Savior be to our eyes! Let us wear this blessed crucifix always in our heart! 

The cross of Christ is the key that opens paradise to us! 

How beautiful is Christ on the cross! 

The ruddiness of His blood, took away the redness of our guilt! 

Christ's crucifixion, is our coronation! 

He left His Father's bosom, that hive of sweetness, to come and live in this poor world. Truly, He exchanged the palace for the dunghill.

"The unsearchable riches of Christ!" Not even the angels can dig to the bottom of this mine! They adore Christ, being ravished with His amazing beauties! 

Jesus is the very extract and quintessence of beauty. He is a whole paradise of delights!

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t takes a long and painful process to purge it out!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

"I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!" Isaiah 48:10 

The love of Jesus will not preserve His people from trials--but rather, assures them of trials! All whom He loves--He chastens! He has a furnace to purge our dross, and refine our souls. His Word and the Spirit reveal to us our defilement and impurity--and His grace and providence co-operate to remove them. "I am the Lord God, who sanctifies you." 

It is divine love which . . .
  prepares the furnace, 
  kindles the flame, 
  brings the Christian into it, 
  superintends the whole process, and 
  brings him out as gold, seven times purified!

"From all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you!" He cleanses them in the laver of the Word by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit. But He also cleanses them by a variety of afflictive dispensations, through which He causes them to pass. 

Our sin calls for trials--His love sends them!


Our nature repines at trials--but grace submits to them!

Our flesh is enraged at trials--but the Spirit sanctifies them to our good, and our Savior's glory. 

He makes His people choice ones--in the "furnace of affliction!" He says, "I will put you into the fire--and will purely purge away yourdross." 

Believer, never repine at your trials, nor be over-anxious for their removal. They are appointed by Jesus as your Purifier--and are choice blessings in disguise! 

Seek their sanctification, 
wrestle with God that you may see His love in every stroke, and 
look to Jesus that you may enjoy His presence when passing through the flame! 

Nothing can hurt you--while Jesus is near you; and He is never nearer to you--than when you are in the furnace! For He sits right there as the Refiner . . .
  watching the process, 
  regulating the heat, and 
  waiting to effect a gracious deliverance--when the ends of His love are answered. 

He is only preparing you for fresh manifestations of His glory--and fitting you for larger communications of His love.

In the furnace, you will lose nothing that is worth keeping--but you will obtain what is truly valuable!

The flesh and the soul need constant cleansings--for corruption is so deeply rooted in our nature, that it takes a long and painful process to purge it out! But in reference to the furnace, your Lord says, "The Lord did this to purge Israel's wickedness, to take away all her sin!"

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Self-Denial
Richard Baxter

"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23
You hear ministers tell you of the odiousness and danger and sad effects of sin; but of all the sins that you ever heard of, there is scarce any more odious and dangerous than selfishness; and yet most are never troubled at it, nor sensible of its malignity. My principal request therefore to you is, that as ever you would prove Christians indeed, and be saved from sin and the damnation which follows it—take heed of this deadly sin of selfishness, and be sure you are possessed with true self-denial; and if you have, see that you use and live upon it.
And for your help herein, I shall tell you how your self-denial must be tried. I shall only tell you in a few words, how the least measure of true self-denial may be known: wherever the interest of carnal self is stronger and more predominant habitually than the interest of God, of Christ, of everlasting life, there is no true self-denial or saving grace; but where God's interest is strongest, there self-denial is sincere. If you further ask me how this may be known, briefly thus:
1. What is it that you live for? What is that good which your mind is principally set to obtain? And what is that end which you principally design and endeavor to obtain, and which you set your heart on, and lay out your hopes upon? Is it the pleasing and glorifying of God, and the everlasting fruition of Him? Or is it the pleasing of your fleshly mind in the fruition of any inferior thing? Know this, and you may know whether self or God has the greatest interest in you. For that is your God which you love most, and please best, and would do most for.
2. Which do you most prize—the means of your salvation and of the glory of God, or the means of providing for self and flesh? Do you more prize Christ and holiness, which are the way to God—or riches, honor, and pleasures, which gratify the flesh? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.
3. If you are truly self-denying, you are ordinarily ruled by God, and His Word and Spirit, and not by the carnal self. Which is the rule and master of your lives? Whose word and will is it ordinarily that prevails? When God draws, and self draws—which do you follow in the tenor of your life? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.
4. If you have true self-denial, the drift of your lives is carried on in a successful opposition to your carnal self, so that you not only refuse to be ruled by it, and love it as your god—but you fight against it, and tread it down as your enemy. So that you go armed against self in the course of your lives, and are striving against self in every duty. And as others think—it then goes best with them, when self is highest and pleased best; so you will know that then it goes best with you—when self is lowest, and most effectually subdued.
5. If you have true self-denial, there is nothing in this world so dear to you, but on deliberation you would leave it for God. He who has anything which he loves so well that he cannot spare it for God, is a selfish and unsanctified wretch. And therefore God has still put men to it, in the trial of their sincerity, to part with that which was dearest to the flesh. Abraham must be tried by parting with his only son. And Christ makes it His standing rule, "Any of you who does not give up everything he has, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).
Yet it is true that flesh and blood may make much resistance in a gracious heart; and many a striving thought there may be, before with Abraham we part with a son, or before we can part with wealth or life; but yet on deliberation, self-denial will prevail. There is nothing so dear to a gracious soul, which he cannot spare at the will of God, and the hope of everlasting life. If with Peter we would flinch in a temptation—we should return with Peter in weeping bitterly, and give Christ those lives that in a temptation we denied Him.
6. In a word, true self-denial is procured by the knowledge and love of God, advancing Him in the soul—to debasing of self. The illuminated soul is so much taken with the glory and goodness of the Lord, that it carries him out of himself to God, and as it were estranges him from himself, that he may have communion with God. This makes him vile in his own eyes, and to abhor himself in dust and ashes. It is not a stoical resolution, but the love of God and the hopes of glory—which make him throw away the world, and look contemptuously on all below, so far as they are mere provision for flesh.

Search now, and try your hearts by these evidences, whether you are possessed of this necessary grace of self-denial. O make not light of the matter! For I must tell you that self is the most treacherous enemy, and the most insinuating deceiver in the world! It will be within you when you are not aware of it and will conquer you when you perceive not yourselves much troubled with it. Of all other vices, selfishness is both the hardest to find out and the hardest to cure. Be sure therefore in the first place, that you have self-denial; and then be sure you use it and live in the practice of it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Importance and Value of Experience # 2

The Importance and Value of Experience # 2

Experience the Very Quality of Service

Experience is very important because, after all, it is the very quality of service. When we come to real life, and we are really up against things and the issues are of the greatest consequence, we do not want just information, we want experience, and we go where experience can help us. Is that not so? Thus experience is the very body and quality of service and usefulness to the Lord.

Bunyan, in his allegory, has a man called Experience, one of four shepherds on the Delectable Mountains - Knowledge, Experience, Watchful and Sincere - all, of course, parts of one whole ministry, and not to be regarded as separate. There is a knowledge which, if it is in the hands of or in company with experience, is all right, and one does not discount the value of knowledge; but it has to be experimental knowledge, it has to be in the company of experience. And of this Experience, the shepherd, what does Bunyan say? A visitor to the country of the four shepherds described him like this: 'Firmly knit in form and face, a shrewd but kindly eye, a happy readiness in his bearing, and all his hard-earned wisdom most evidently on foot within him as a capability for work and for control', 'hard-earned wisdom'. He was a shepherd, and we know that the Bible idea of the shepherd is different from ours. A shepherd in our land has to go scouring for sheep to try to get them together, using dogs and other means to collect them. A shepherd in Syria only had to go to a certain spot and begin to sing a psalm and the sheep knew his voice and gathered to him, and he could lead them anywhere while he was praying his prayer or singing his psalm. They knew his voice and followed him. And so it is today: leadership is shepherdhood; shepherdhood is leadership. But experience is the shepherd; shepherd, therefore experience is the leader.

Of course, it will entirely depend upon whether we are concerned to be of the greatest value to the Lord and to others, or whether we are self-centered. If we are thus concerned, this matter of experience will make appeal to us, but if otherwise, then what I am saying will not amount to anything. But here it is, the Lord puts value upon the matter of usefulness, and whether we are mentally interested in it or not, and whether or not our hearts have become as yet bound up with it, we cannot get away from the fact that the Lord is actively engaged on this work; He is seeking to make us useful. What is the why and wherefore of experiences, of the difficult and hard way that God takes us, and of the way in which He, so to speak, takes terrible risks with us? He does indeed seem to take risks. He risks our rebellion, He risks our bitterness, He risks our misinterpretations of His dealings with us, He risks our 'kicking over the traces' and breaking away and running off. He risks a lot when He puts us into difficult situations, but He thinks it is worth while for experience; for even our wrong reactions will make for experience in the long run. Even our rebellion and bitterness He will sovereignly control, and we shall come to know we can learn something along that line; we shall be able to help, instruct and advise where such help is acceptable and needed. Yes, He is doing it all to get experience, to make of us not professional pastors but men who are shepherds, 'firmly knit inform and face', with that 'shrewd but kindly eye', that readiness, with all the 'hard-earned wisdom', to be of help to those who need it. That is what the Lord is doing with us, to bring experience.

Experience Practical, Not Theoretical

So experience is the very sum of what is practical. It is experiential, experimental, it is the practical side of knowledge. That is almost too obvious to need saying. Tribulation is very practical, very real, you cannot get away from that. The demand for patience in tribulation in its working of patience is steadfastness, is experience, it is exceedingly good. We may lack many other things, we may not have great knowledge or learning, great capabilities or cleverness, by which the world sets such store. Should it come to our being tested by this world's standards of ability, and we were to answer and say, 'I have only experience', it would not go down at all. They would say, 'What degrees have you, what examinations have you passed?' To say that we have had some experience would not be sufficient, whereas if we had all the other without experience, we should very likely be acceptable in this world. But it is not like that with God. The examinations that are held are on another basis altogether. We may not have many things, we may not be very much, we may be despised when it comes to what we have accomplished in the academic way,what titles we carry, what degrees we have - we may not be much in that world, but remember that God puts a very great deal more importance upon experience than upon all the rest, and that is a thing we can all have. From the least to the greatest, we can all have experience, and because in the sight of the Lord it is so important, He sees fit to let us know a good deal of tribulation. "Tribulation worketh...experience".

Have you got the full meaning of that word that is translated into our English word "tribulation"? Tribulation is a picture word in the Greek - the picture of a farm instrument that we call the harrow; and you know what we mean when we say we have had a harrowing experience. Oh, the tearing and the cutting and the lacerating from the harrow! That is the word here, literally, actually; the harrow going over our backs, and it works experience. Experience is of such value.

Experience of Eternal Value

What more can one say other than that it must be of eternal value? The value must be eternal, otherwise life is an inexplicable mystery and an enigma. The time may come when you young people, having passed through deep experiences and having bought your experience at great price, and thus having in you possession something of very great value, find that younger people do not want experience, nor think anything at all of it, and never consult you. When what you have through deep experience has very little outlet in this world, a very limited scope for expression, what an enigma! All this you have gone through, all you have bought at so great a price, what is the value of it? It must be eternal. God must be working to get something with a longer range than this poor life. With tribulations increasing perhaps as you get older, what is it all for? Well, He is working with a longer view, and there must be something that counts with Him beyond time, and so He allows the tribulation to produce patience, and patience experience; "Whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away"; but experience shall abide and serve in the eternal ages.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)