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 Quotes of the week - 2017

July

~~~

Encouragers - not Discouragers


“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11


How much better it would be—if instead of being discouragers, we would all learn to be encouragers of others! The value of words of cheer is incalculable!

There is an old story of a fireman who was climbing up a ladder amid smoke and flame, trying to reach a high window—to rescue a child from a burning building! The man had almost gained the window—but the heat was so intense, and the smoke so blinding, that he staggered on the ladder and seemed about to turn back. The great crowd below was watching him with breathless interest and, seeing him waver and hesitate, began to “cheer” him! This nerved the fireman anew for his heroic task, and in a moment the brave fellow had entered the house and soon returned, saving the child. It is ‘cheer’ that people need, not discouragement, when they are fighting a hard battle!

Men who give us only their doubts and fears, are misanthropists. True philanthropy brings us hope and heartening. The truest helpers of others—are those who always have words of exhortation and inspiration to speak, who always are encouragers.

– J. R. Miller, 1902


June

Remedy for Anxiety

"Therefore, I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life — what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than they?

"Which of you, by being anxious, can add one moment to his life-span? Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin, yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith?

"Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient." - Matthew 6:25-34


These verses are a striking example of the combined wisdom and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ’s teaching. He knows the heart of a man. He knows that we are all ready to turn off warnings against worldliness, by the argument that we cannot help being anxious about the things of this life. "Have we not our families to provide for? Must not our bodily needs be supplied? How can we possibly get through life, if we think first of our souls?" The Lord Jesus foresaw such thoughts, and furnished an answer.

He forbids us to keep up an anxious spirit about the things of this world. Four times over He says, "Don’t be anxious." About life — about food — about clothing — about the morrow, "don’t be anxious." Be not over-careful. Be not over-anxious. Prudent provision for the future is right. Wearing, corroding, self-tormenting anxiety is wrong.

He reminds us of the providential care that God continually takes of everything that He has created. Has He given us "life?" Then He will surely not let us lack anything necessary for its maintenance. Has He given us a "body?" Then He will surely not let us die for lack of clothing. He that calls us into being, will doubtless find food to feed us.

He points out the uselessness of over-anxiety. Our life is entirely in God’s hand. All the care in the world will not make us continue a minute beyond the time which God has appointed. We shall not die until our work is done.

He sends us to the birds of the air for instruction. They make no provision for the future. "They don’t sow, neither do they reap." They lay up no stores against time yet to come. They do not "gather into barns." They literally live from day to day on what they can pick up, by using the instinct God has put in them. They ought to teach us that no man doing his duty in the station to which God has called him, shall ever be allowed to come to poverty.

He bids us to observe the flowers of the field. Year after year they are decked with the gayest colors, without the slightest labor or exertion on their part. "They don’t toil, neither do they spin." God, by His almighty power, clothes them with beauty every season. The same God is the Father of all believers. Why should they doubt that He is able to provide them with clothing, as well as the lilies "of the field?" He who takes thought for perishable flowers, will surely not neglect the bodies in which dwell immortal souls.

He suggests to us, that anxiety about the things of this world is most unworthy of a Christian. One great feature of heathenism is living for the present. Let the heathen, if he will, be anxious. He knows nothing of a Father in heaven. But let the Christian, who has clearer light and knowledge, give proof of it by his faith and contentment. When bereaved of those whom we love, we are not to "sorrow as those who have no hope." When tried by cares about this life, we are not to be over-anxious, as if we had no God, and no Christ.

He offers us a gracious promise, as a remedy against an anxious spirit. He assures us that if we "seek first" and foremost to have a place in the kingdom of grace and glory, everything that we really need in this world shall be given to us. It shall be "added," over and above our heavenly inheritance. "All things shall work together for good for those who love God." "He withholds no good thing from those who walk blamelessly." {Romans 8:28 Psalms 84:11 }

Last of all, He seals up all His instruction on this subject, by laying down one of the wisest maxims. "Tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient." We are not to carry cares before they come. We are to attend to today’s business, and leave tomorrow’s anxieties until tomorrow dawns. We may die before tomorrow. We know not what may happen on the morrow. This only we may be assured of, that if tomorrow brings a cross, He who sends it, can and will send grace to bear it.

In all this passage there is a treasury of golden lessons. Let us seek to use them in our daily life. Let us not only read them, but turn them to practical account. Let us watch and pray against worry, and an over-anxious spirit. It deeply concerns our happiness. Half our miseries are caused by imagining things that we think are coming upon us. Half the things that we expect to come upon us, never come at all. Where is our faith? Where is our confidence in our Savior’s words? We may well take shame to ourselves, when we read these verses, and then look into our hearts. But this we may be sure of, that David’s words are true, "I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread." {Psalms 37:25 }

- J. C. Ryle, 1816-1900


Modern church machinery

Friends! the churches have no need for the modern machinery which has supplanted the simplicity of faith.

I truly believe, that if the Lord swept the church committees and schemes out of the universe, we would be better without them.

I hope the church will soon say, like David in Saul's clanking armor, "I cannot go with these"--and with only her sling and her stone, confident in her God, I trust she will confront her foe.

We can do all things, if we can but trust Christ. But nothing is possible to your man-made schemes and systems.

God will sweep them away yet, and happy shall be that man who shall lead the van in their utter destruction! Go up against her, take away her bulwarks, for they are not the Lord's; He did not ordain them, nor will He stand by them.

The fact is, God does not need our power--but our weakness.
He does not need our greatness--but our nothingness.

- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892
 


May

Home churches


These first believers were in such a condition that their homes were holy places. I beg you to notice this, that they were breaking bread from house to house, and did eat their food with gladness and singleness of heart.

They did not think that religion was meant only for Sundays, and for what men now-a-days call the 'House of God'.

Their own houses were houses of God, and their own meals were mixed and mingled with the Lord's Supper. They elevated their meals into diets for worship. They so consecrated everything with prayer and praise that all around them was holiness unto the Lord.

I wish our houses were thus dedicated to the Lord, so that we worshipped God all the day long, and made our dwellings temples for the living God.

Does God need a 'special house'?

He who made the heavens and the earth, does he dwell in temples made with hands? What crass ignorance is this!

No house beneath the sky is more holy than the place where a Christian lives, and eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and praises the Lord in all that he does. There is no worship more heavenly than that which is presented by holy families, devoted to his fear.

To sacrifice home worship to public worship is a most evil course of action.

Morning and evening devotion in a cottage is infinitely more pleasing in the sight of God than all the cathedral pomp which delights the carnal eye and ear.

Every truly Christian household is a church, and as such it is competent for the discharge of any function of divine worship, whatever it may be.

Are we not all priests? Why do we need to call in others to make devotion a performance? Let every man be a priest in his own house.

Are you not all kings if you love the Lord? Then make your houses palaces of joy and temples of holiness.

One reason why the early church had such a blessing was because her members had such homes. When we are like them we shall have "added to the church daily of the saved."

C. H. Spurgeon, "Additions to the Church" No. 1167
 


 April

The Will of God

The doing of God's will is always a great thing—whether it is something that affects the welfare of a nation, or something that concerns only the good or the comfort of the lowliest of Christ's little ones.

There is a legend of an angel who was sent to earth to keep a king from sinning; and also to help a little struggling ant home with its burden. Both tasks were alike noble, because both were God's will.

In a great painting by one of the masters—there is a kitchen in which angels are doing their work. One is putting the kettle on the fire, one is lifting a pail of water, one is reaching up after a plate. These angels appear just as heavenly in this lowly work—as if they were doing Divine errands around God's throne!

We need to learn the lesson: that anything that is God's will—is great; and that whatever is not God's will—is unworthy and ignoble, though it be to sway a scepter over a nation, or being the world's idol. Many of us have to spend most of our life—in what seems 'drudgery'. Perhaps we think it is unworthy of us. We feel that we are capable of greater things, and should not be required to spend our time in matters so trivial, perhaps so menial. But if it is God's will that we are doing, our drudgery, as it appears to God's eyes, is as radiant as angel's ministry!

- Source unknown


The Nature of Grace

1.  Grace is God acting freely, according to His own nature as Love; with no promises or 
  obligations to fulfill; and acting of  course, righteously—in view of the cross.

2.  Grace, therefore, is uncaused in the recipient: its cause lies wholly in
     the GIVER, in 
GOD.

3.  Grace,  also  is sovereign.  Not having debts to pay,  or fulfilled conditions on man’s
 part to wait for, it can act toward whom,  and how, it pleases. It can, and does, often,
 place the worst deservers in the highest favors.

4.  Grace cannot act where there is either desert or ability: Grace does not help--it
     is absolute, it does all.

5.  There being no cause in the creature why Grace should be shown, the creature must be
  brought off from trying to give cause to God for His Grace.

6.  The discovery by the creature that he is truly the object of Divine grace, works the utmost humility: for the receiver of grace is brought to know his own absolute unworthiness, and his complete inability to attain worthiness: yet he finds himself blessed,—on another principle, outside of himself!

7.  Therefore, flesh has no place in the plan of Grace. This is the great reason why Grace is hated by the proud natural mind of man. But for this very reason, the true believer rejoices!! For he knows that “in him, that is, in his flesh, is no good thing”; and yet he finds God glad to bless him, just as he is!

- William Newell, Romans, Verse by Verse


The Place of Humiliation

If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. —Mark 9:22

After every time of exaltation, we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they really are, where it is neither beautiful, poetic, nor thrilling. The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him. Peter thought it would be a wonderful thing for them to remain on the mountain, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mountain and into the valley, where the true meaning of the vision was explained (see Mark 9:5-6, Mark 9:14-23).

“If you can do anything….” It takes the valley of humiliation to remove the skepticism from us. Look back at your own experience and you will find that until you learned who Jesus really was, you were a skillful skeptic about His power. When you were on the mountaintop you could believe anything, but what about when you were faced with the facts of the valley? You may be able to give a testimony regarding your sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you right now? The last time you were on the mountain with God, you saw that all the power in heaven and on earth belonged to Jesus— will you be skeptical now, simply because you are in the valley of humiliation?

- Oswald Chambers, 1874-1917, My Utmost for His Highest (October 2)


March

Quiet Time with God

A quiet hour spent alone with God at the beginning of the day, is the best beginning for the toils and cares of the day. A brief season of prayer, looking to God for wisdom and grace and strength, and seeking the assistance of the Holy Spirit--helps us to carry our religion into all of the events of the day. It brings joy and peace within the heart.

And as we place all our concerns in the care and keeping of the Lord, faithfully striving to do His will--we have a joyful trust that however dark or discouraging events may appear--our Father's hand is guiding everything, and will give the wisest direction to all our toils.

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. - Psalm 5:3


What is Holiness?

Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God's judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word (the Bible). He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.

- J. C. Ryle, 1816-1900, Holiness


Some professors of religion are like the catbird!

There are very many things that may choke out love in the home. One of these is the lack of kindness. If you have grown less kind in your feelings, in your actions, and in your words--then love cannot thrive. Kindness is one of the best fertilizers for love.

There are so many people who have two sets of tones in which to speak--and two sets of manners in which they act. They have their company manners--and their family manners. When they have company--then the voice is soft and pleasant, and the manners are agreeable and kindly. They treat their friends with the greatest consideration; but as soon as their friends are gone, the pleasant voice changes into crossness or harshness and fault-finding--and the pleasantness of manner disappears! In how many homes is this true!

The greater consideration, the greater kindness--is due the home folks. Otherwise, love cannot flourish. If you wish to have love for your home folks--then you must show them the consideration that is due them.

Some professors of religion are like the catbird! When it is away from its nest--then it is one of the sweetest of the northern warblers; but when it is close to its nest--then you will hear only a harsh, discordant note. It has no sweetness in its voice while at its nest.

In the same way, some people reserve all their kindness, tenderness, and sweetness--for those outside the family circle. Is it any wonder that love dies in such a home?

"Love must be without hypocrisy." Romans 12:9

- Charles Naylor, How to Fertilize Love, 1920


The true recipe for a miserable existence

The first law of true religion is submission to God's will. Where it does not exist, there is no piety--and just as truly there is no tranquility of soul. 

What a hideous sight to see a human creature in full rebellion against God's providence . . .
  repining at His allotments;
  fighting against His dispensations;
  and cursing His judgments! 

The true recipe for miserable existence is this: Quarrel with Providence! 

When God means to make us happy, He teaches us submission--a resignation of everything into His hands, and an acknowledgment that whatever He does is wisest and best. 

O how sweetly even afflictions fall, when there is such a temper to receive them! "Shall we accept good from God--and not trouble?" Job 2:10. Such a disposition tends to tranquility of soul; and even amidst chastisement, there is internal quiet.

"The Lord gave--and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21

"He is the Lord--let Him do what is good in His eyes." 1 Samuel 3:18 

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

- James W. Alexander, Consolation 1852


He lived poor and died poor

"Jesus replied—Foxes have holes and birds of the  air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place  to lay His head." Matthew 8:20

Jesus does not say, Kings have palaces—but I have none. Nor does He say that rich men have houses and lands and mansions to entertain their followers—but I have none; but, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but I have no place to lay My head."


Your outward condition is not worse than Christ's was, when He was in the world. Christ's condition was low, yes, very low and humble in this world. He was born in a stable, lived on the charity of others, and did not have enough money to pay His taxes. The great Architect of the world had no place to lay His head—but emptied Himself of all, and became poor to make us rich, not in goods—but in grace; not in worldly wealth—but in the treasures of the eternal world. He lived poor and died poor. 

Are you houseless, are you penniless, are you poor, and low, and base in this world? So was Christ! Remember "the servant is not greater than his Lord!" 

It is unfitting to see the Head all begored with blood and crowned with thorns—and the members to be decked with roses and jewels, and to smell of rich spices, and perfumes!

Are you in a worse condition than Christ was, in this world? Oh no, no! Why then do you murmur and complain? Why do you say there is no sorrow like your sorrow, nor any suffering compared to your suffering? O sirs! it is honor enough for the disciples of Christ to fare as Christ fared in this world. Why should the servant be in a better condition than His Lord? Did you but seriously and frequently meditate and ponder upon the poverty and low estate of Christ while He was in this world, your hearts would be more calm and quiet under all their crosses and losses!

Thomas Brooks, London's Lamentations, 1670

 


February

I Never Knew You

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.              - Mt. 7:23

I never knew you. That is, I never approved, loved, or regarded you as my friends. This proves that, with all their pretensions, they had never been true followers of Christ. Jesus will not then say to false prophets and false professors of religion, that he had once known them, and then rejected them; that they had been once Christians and then had fallen away; that they had been pardoned, and then had apostatized; but that he had never known them.

— THEY HAD NEVER BEEN TRUE CHRISTIANS.

Whatever might have been their pretended joys, their raptures, their hopes, their self-confidence, their visions, their zeal, they had never been regarded by the Savior as his true friends. I know not a moredecided proof that Christians do not fall away from grace than this text. It settles the question; and proves that whatever else such men had, they never had any true religion.
 

- Albert Barnes, 1872-1951, Barnes Notes


Serving Christ at Home

Many people think that work for Christ must be something outside, something great or public. They imagine that to minister to Christ, they must teach a Sunday-school class or join a missionary society, or go out to visit sick people, or go into hospitals or prisons on missions of mercy. These are all beautiful and important ministries, and Christ wants some of you to do just these things too; but the very first place you are to serve him is in your own home. Let the blessed light of your life, first be shed abroad in that most sacred of all spots. Brightening that little place, you will be the more ready to be a blessing outside. Those who are the best Christians at home—are the best everywhere else.

– J. R. Miller (1840-1912), In Green Pastures


January

No Secular and Sacred

A spiritually vigorous saint never believes that his circumstances simply happen at random, nor does he ever think of his life as being divided into the secular and the sacred. He sees every situation in which he finds himself as the means of obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude of unrestrained abandon and total surrender about him.

- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (from July 11th reading)

 


Providence

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. - Ephesians 1:11

It is most important for us to learn that the smallest trifles are as much arranged by the God of Providence--as the most momentous events!

He who counts the stars--has also numbered the hairs of our heads!

Our lives and deaths are predestined--but so, also, are our sitting down and our rising up.

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam, does not move an atom more or less than God wishes.

I believe that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its ordained orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens.

I believe that the chaff from the hand of the winnower--is as much steered by God, as the stars in their course.

The creeping of an aphid over the rosebush--is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence.

The fall of a leaf from a poplar tree--is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche!

- Charles Spurgeon, 1834-1892


The First Lesson of a Christian

Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. - 1 Peter 5:5-6

"For those who would learn God's ways, humility is the first thing, humility is the second thing, and humility is the third thing."

- Augustine, 354-430


True Religion

"This is true religion:
to approve what God approves,
to hate what God hates, and
to delight in what God delights."

- Charles Hodge, 1797- 1878


 



"I am the light of the world" John 8:12