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Grace Gems

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#1
nChrist

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From Grace Gems:
Very Old - But Beautiful and Timeless Treasures.
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A picture of what every Christian life should be!

(J.R. Miller)

A writer tells of going with a group of visitors, down into a coal mine. On the side of the passageway grew a flower which was perfectly white. The visitors were astonished, that there, where the coal dust was continually flying--this little flower would be so pure and white. A miner, who was with them, took a handful of black coal dust and threw it upon the plant, but not a particle adhered. Every atom of the black dust rolled off. The visitors themselves repeated the experiment, but the coal dust would not cling. There was a wonderful enamel on the folds of the white flower to which no speck could adhere. Living there amid clouds of black dust--nothing could stain its snowy white!

This is a picture of what every Christian life should be. We live in an evil world. We go among the ungodly continually in our daily walk and work. Unholy influences breathe all around us; but it is our mission to be pure amid all this vileness--undefiled, unspotted from the world.

If God can make a little flower, so that no black dust can stain its whiteness--can He not by His grace so transform your heart and life, that no sin can cling to you? If God can keep a little flower stainless, as white as snow, amid clouds of black coal dust--can He not keep hearts of His people in like purity, in this world of sin?

"So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe!" Philippians 2:15

"Religion that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this . . . to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world!" James 1:27


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#2
nChrist

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God knows best what cross we need to bear!

(J.R. Miller)

There is a poem called "The Changed Cross." It represents a weary one who thought that her cross was surely heavier than those of others whom she saw around her, and wished that she might choose another cross instead of her own.

She slept, and in her dream she was led to a place where many crosses lay--crosses of various types, shapes and sizes.

There was a little cross most beauteous to behold, set in jewels and gold. "Ah, this I can wear with comfort," she said. So she took it up, but her weak form shook beneath it. The jewels and the gold were beautiful, but they were far too heavy for her.

Next she saw a lovely cross with fair flowers entwined around its sculptured form. Surely that was the one for her. She lifted it, but beneath the flowers were piercing thorns which tore her flesh.

At last, as she went on, she came to a plain cross, without jewels, without ornate carving, with only a few words of love inscribed upon it. This she took up, and it proved the best of all, the easiest to be borne. And as she looked upon it, bathed in the radiance which fell from Heaven--she recognized her own old cross. She had found it again, and it was the best of all, and lightest for her!

God knows best what cross we need to bear!

We do not know how heavy other people's crosses are.

We envy one who is rich--his is a golden cross set with jewels. But we do not know how heavy it is.

Here is another whose life seems very lovely. She bears a cross entwined with flowers. But we do not know what sharp thorns are hidden beneath the flowers.

If we could try all the other crosses which we think are lighter than ours, we would at last find that not one of them suited us as well as our own!

"I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right and righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me!" Psalm 119:75

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:10-11


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#3
nChrist

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From Grace Gems:
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The crosses we make

(J.R. Miller)

A cross is composed of two pieces of wood. The shorter piece represents your will--and the longer piece represents God's will. Lay the two pieces side by side--and there is no cross; but lay the shorter piece across the longer one--and you have a cross.

Just so, whenever our will falls across God's will--there is a cross in our life. We make a cross for ourselves . . .
every time we do not accept Christ's way,
every time we murmur at anything He sends,
every time we will not do what He commands.

But when we quietly accept what He gives, when we yield in sweet acquiescence to His will, though it shatters our fairest hopes, when we let our will lie alongside His--there are no crosses in our life, and we have found the peace of Christ.

"My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done." Matthew 26:42

"I delight to do Your will, O my God!" Psalm 40:8


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#4
nChrist

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Are you seeking great things for yourself?

(J.R. Miller)

"Are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them!" Jeremiah 45:5

This lesson is not an easy one to learn, for we all want to erect our work for God on the summit of a mountain, where it will be seen by all the world. We easily forget that sometimes the greatest work we can perform for Him, is to do the little things He gives us to do, quietly and sweetly.


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#5
nChrist

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From Grace Gems:
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The power of habit!

(J.R. Miller, 1893)

A California stagecoach driver had held the leather reins for so many years, that when he began to grow old, his hands were crooked into hooks, and his fingers were so stiffened into that shape--that they could not be straightened out.

There is a similar process that goes on in men's minds and souls, when they continue to do the same things over and over. If you are trained, and train yourself, from childhood . . .
to be gentle and patient,
to control your temper,
to resist all wrong--
your life will grow into moral beauty, and the peacefulness of your heart will at length shine upon your very face.

If, on the other hand, you give way from childhood . . .
to all ugly tempers,
to resentful feelings,
to all bitterness and anger--
your life will grow into permanent moral disfigurement.

One who accustoms himself to think of pure and holy things, who sets his affections on things above, and strives to reach for things which are true, things which are honorable, things which are lovely--will grow heavenward toward the things which he loves and thinks upon.

But one who lets his mind turn habitually . . .
to debasing things,
to unholy things,
to impure things,
to earthly things--
will find his whole soul bending downward, and growing sinful, corrupt, and evil.

"Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise!" Philippians 4:8


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#6
nChrist

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From Grace Gems:
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The flowers are growing to strew on their graves

(J.R. Miller)

There is a great host of weary men and women, toiling on through life, toward the grave--who most sorely need, just now, the cheering words and helpful ministries which we can give.

You are gathering incense of affection to scatter about their coffins; but why should it not be scattered in the hard paths on which their feet today are treading?

The kind words are lying in men's hearts unexpressed, trembling on their tongues unvoiced--which will be spoken by and by, when these weary ones are sleeping in their graves. But why should they not be spoken now, when they are needed so much, and when the kind words would give such cheer and hope?

The flowers are growing to strew on their graves; but why not cut them now to brighten their dreary lives and dark paths.

Many a godly man goes plodding through life, living obscurely--yet living a true Christian life, doing many a quiet kindness to his neighbors and friends--yet seldom hearing a word of appreciation or praise. The vases, filled with the incense of affection, are kept sealed. The flowers are not cut from the stems. One day you stand by his coffin, and there are enough kind things said to have brightened every hour of his life--if only they had been said at the right time. There are enough flowers piled upon his casket, to have kept his chamber filled with fragrance all through his years--if only they had been sent day by day. How his heavy heart would have thanked God, if, in the midst of his toils, burdens, and struggles--he could have heard a few of the words of affection and appreciation which are now wasted on ears that hear them not! How much happier he would have been in his weary days--if he had known how many kind friends he had!

But, poor man! he had to die before the appreciation could express itself. Then he could not hear the gentle words spoken over his cold lifeless body. The love blossomed out too late!


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#7
nChrist

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Their blessings fall upon us as perpetually, in a gentle rain of grace

(J.R. Miller)

We need Jesus just as much in our bright, prosperous, comfortable days--as in the days of darkness, adversity, and affliction. We are quite in danger of thinking that religion is only for sickrooms and funerals, and for times of great sorrow and trial . . .
as a lamp to shine at night,
as a staff to help when the road is rough,
as a friendly hand to hold us up when we are stumbling.

This is not true. Jesus went to the marriage feast--as well as to the home of sorrow. His religion is just as much for our hours of joy--as for our days of grief. There are just as many stars in the sky at noon, as at midnight--although we cannot see them in the sun's glare. And there are just as many comforts, promises, divine encouragements, and blessings for us--when we are in the sunshine of our human gladness and earthly success--as when we are in our nights of pain and shadow. We may not see them in the brightness about us, but they are there, and their blessings fall upon us as perpetually, in a gentle rain of grace.


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#8
nChrist

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A boy growing up in a home of poverty

(J.R. Miller)

A good many years ago, there was a boy growing up in a home of poverty, with no advantages. He was long and lanky--a most clumsy boy. He would lie on the earthen floor at night, when the day's work was done, reading by the dim firelight. There seemed little hope that the boy would ever be a man of influence. But the years pass, and we see him as President of the United States. One day we see him taking a pen and signing a paper which frees millions of slaves, and writes the name of Abraham Lincoln among the immortal names.

Just so, we should all just go on with our daily tasks, doing the best we can in our circumstances--and wait for God's timing. It takes months for the apple to grow mellow and sweet on the tree. If you are a disciple of Christ--He is going to make something very beautiful, very noble out of your life, when His work on you is finished. You will not always be struggling with faults, fainting under infirmities, bowing beneath burdens, striving in vain against difficulties. It does not yet appear what you will be; but there is glory in reserve for every faithful follower of Jesus!


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#9
nChrist

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The infallible umpire

(J.R. Miller)

The throne of Russia was once occupied by two boy princes. They sat side by side and gave their decisions on the gravest questions. Their judgments were so wise and just, that men marveled that princes so young and inexperienced, could know so much of statecraft, or speak with such discretion on questions so difficult. But the secret was that close behind the throne where they sat, hidden by a thin veil, was the Princess Sophia. She heard the cases which were brought to them, and she gave the decisions which they delivered. They referred every question to her, and waited until she had whispered to them the wise answer, which they gave out.

In like manner, the Word of Christ should dwell richly in our heart. We are to refer every matter to the Holy Spirit, and wait for His decision. Then what He bids us to do--we are to do. Thus Christ will rule every thought, every feeling and every affection. He will settle every point of duty. He will sit as the infallible umpire in all questions of daily living--of duty, of relationships, of recreations, of business.

"I have better understanding and deeper insight than all my teachers, because Your testimonies are my meditation!" Psalm 119:99

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word." Psalm 119:9

"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom." Colossians 3:16


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#10
nChrist

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The volcano

(J.R. Miller)

The volcano is quiet and silent for years. No fires and lava pour forth from its crater. Meanwhile, people venture up its slopes, and lay out their gardens, and build their villas, and plant their vineyards. And flowers bloom, and fruits hang in purple clusters, and beauty covers the once fire-swept, lava-furrowed mountain slopes. But has the volcano really been tamed? Have its fires been put out? Is all permanently peaceful in the volcano's heart?

Just so is the heart of a man, who has merely trained himself into good moral and ethical habits. What the best mere self-culture can do for a life--is no more than the planting of flowers and vineyards on the volcano's sides--while all its fires still burn within, ready to break forth again any day in all their old fury! Good manners are not saving religion. The heart must be changed. The heart of stone, must be made a heart of flesh. The heart that hates God, and holiness and purity--must become a heart that loves God, His holy ways, and His holy Word.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." Ezekiel 36:26-27


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#11
nChrist

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True, victorious living

(J.R. Miller)

Many of us find life hard and full of pain. The world treats us meanly and roughly. We suffer wrongs and injuries. Other people's clumsy feet tread upon our tender hearts. We must endure misfortunes, trials, and disappointments. We cannot avoid these things, but we should not allow the harsh experiences to deaden our sensibilities, or make us stoic or sour. The true aim of living, is to keep our hearts sweet and gentle amid the hardest conditions and experiences.

If you remove the snow from the hillside in the late winter, you will find sweet flowers growing there, beneath the cold drifts, unhurt by the storm and by the snowy blankets that have covered them. Just so, should we keep our hearts tender and sensitive beneath life's fiercest winter blasts, and through the longest years of suffering, and even of injustice and wrong treatment. That is true, victorious living.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28


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#12
nChrist

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Heaven! Heaven! It is Heaven!

(J.R. Miller)

An author tells of a French ship which had been lost for months amid storms in the southern seas. One morning land was espied from the mast-head. Passengers and crew gathered on deck, awaiting the sight of the coming shore in suspense. Vague outlines only were seen, so vague that the uncertainty almost broke the hearts of the watchers. Was it land? If so, what land? Could it be France? Was it indeed France? Or was it some strange country?

Nearer and nearer they came. Clearer and more distinct became the outlines. After some hours, hours which seemed days, the lookout cried, "France! France! It is France!" The joy of the ship's company knew no bounds. They were indeed home after all their wanderings, and all their dangers and fears!

So will it be with us believers, when, through the mists of that sea which we call death, we approach the shores of eternal life. After the dimness of dying--our eyes shall open to behold the banks of the celestial land! Then the shout will not be, "France! It is France!" but "Heaven! Heaven! It is Heaven!" The storms will all be past. We shall be in eternal glory. Then we shall have life in all its fullness. Then we shall be home forever!

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard, and
no mind has imagined--
what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9


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#13
nChrist

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The cost of all truly helpful and holy living

(J.R. Miller)

Prosperity has never enriched the world, as adversity has done. The best thoughts, the richest lessons, the sweetest songs which have come down to us from the past--have not come from the minds and hearts of those who have known no privation, no suffering, no adversity. They are the fruit of pain, of weakness, of trial.

Men have cried out for emancipation from the bondage of hardship, of sickness, of infirmity, of poverty--not realizing that the very trial which seemed to be hindering them in their career--was making whatever was noble, beautiful, and blessed in their life. The cost of all truly helpful and holy living, is pain!

We must not forget that redemption and Heaven come to be ours, only through the bitter sufferings and cross of the Son of God.

In all of life, the sweetest comforts and the richest blessings, come to us at the cost of suffering and tears. The fruit of earth's "thorns" seems bitter to the taste, but it is the wholesome food of human souls.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11

"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word." Psalm 119:67

"It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees." Psalm 119:71

"I know, O LORD, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75


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#14
nChrist

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From desert to garden!

(J.R. Miller)

In traveling to California, we passed over hundreds of miles of the dreariest desert. The hot sands glowed and burned under the sun's rays. Rain scarcely ever falls, and nothing grows on the arid wastes except straggling sagebush and wild cacti. On and on our train rolled, hour after hour, amid choking dust and unrelieved desolation.

At length, however, we began to pass into the first fringes of luxuriance, and soon we were in the midst of the garden splendors of Southern California--flowers, fragrance, and fruit, masses of roses and flowers of all kinds, orange groves, clumps of ornamental trees, vineyards, and palm trees. In an hour we had left behind us the dreary desert--and had entered the richest garden luxuriance of the world!

It is just so with many Christians, in leaving this poor world for Heaven. Here on earth are trials, afflictions, struggles, strifes, bitter tears, disappointments, injustices, hardships and cares. Life seems all desert to these desert toilers. No springs of fresh water burst up along the way to refresh them. Nothing grows in the hot arid fields, to be food for their heart hunger.

What must Heaven be to these weary ones, when they enter it--leaving forever behind them, the dreary desolation of this world? In an hour they will pass from the heat, strife, and bitterness of earthly sorrow--into the eternal blessedness, the perfect love, and the unbroken joy of Heaven!


"In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are eternal pleasures!" Psalm 16:11

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard, and
no mind has imagined--
what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9


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#15
nChrist

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The eye of God is ever upon us!

(J.R. Miller)

A flower blooms no more sweetly, because it is gazed at by an admiring crowd. It would be just as lovely, if it grew in the depths of a great forest where no eye ever saw it.

The stars look down with as much brilliancy into the desert, where no one looks up at them--as into the streets of the great city where thousands behold them.

The sea breaks with as much majesty on an uninhabited shore--as where its waves kiss the feet of multitudes.

It is just so in all true Christian life and work. When one is doing any great thing, and shows by his attitude that he is conscious of it--more than half the greatness is gone from the performance. When a man knows that he is living a life that is very great in its service, when he is conscious that he is being noticed by others--much of the glory is gone from his life. We should live just as sweetly and beautifully when no one is looking upon us to see our deed and praise our life--as when all the world is beholding. The eye of God is ever upon us, and it is His approval and commendation that we should always seek to deserve.

It is said of the great sculptor, Michael Angelo, that when at work he wore a little lamp fastened on his cap, in order that no shadow of himself might fall upon his work.

Just so, we need to take care that no shadows of ourselves, of our pride, our ambition, our self-seeking--shall fall upon our work for Christ.

To labor in Christian work, that we ourselves may have the glory--is to dim and darken the beauty of all we do, and also to make ourselves vessels unfit for the Master's use. We are ready for the most sacred of all ministries--only when we are content to be nothing, that Christ may be all in all.

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets--to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4


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#16
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Mamma, kiss me!

(J.R. Miller)

That was a touching story which Mr. Gladstone gave in Parliament, when announcing the death of the Princess Alice. Her little boy was ill with diphtheria, and the mother had been cautioned not to inhale the poisoned breath. The child was tossing in the delirium of fever. The Princess stood beside him and laid her hand on his brow to caress him. The touch cooled the fevered brain, and brought back the wandering soul from its wild delirium. He nestled a moment in his mother's lap; then, throwing his arms around her neck, he whispered, "Mamma, kiss me." Mother-love was stronger than all the injunctions of physicians--and she pressed her lips to the child's. The result was her death.

You say that she was foolish. Yet where is the mother who would not have done the same? Love stops at no peril, at no sacrifice. There was great peril in Christ's own mission to this world. In His marvelous love for us, He put his lips to the poison of our sin--and died in our place!

"Christ loved the church, and gave Himself up for her!" Ephesians 5:25

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep!" John 10:11


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#17
nChrist

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We must not cut our lives in two!

(J.R. Miller)

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do--do it all for the glory of God!" 1 Corinthians 10:31

True religion is simply living out the principles of Christianity in one's ordinary week-day life! It is getting the Bible, and the prayers, and the church services--into thought and act and character!

We must not cut our lives in two, and call one part secular--governing it by one set of principles; and then regard the other part as sacred--to be controlled by another set of rules. ALL of life should be made sacred, in the sense that everything is to be done in such a way as to please God, under the direction of His counsel in His Word. We have just as much true religion, as we get into our week-day life--and not a whit more! Whatever we do, even to eating and drinking--we should do to the glory of the Lord Jesus!


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#18
nChrist

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Her goodness touches their vileness!

(J.R. Miller)

A lovely and godly woman learned of a poor district in a great city, whose people are ruled by the basest passions. They live in wretchedness and degradation. Moved by a loving pity--she leaves her own happy home, and goes to live in the midst of these debased men and women. She moves in and out among them. She teaches their children. She visits their miserable abodes when they are sick, and ministers to their needs.

It is costly serving for her. She suffers terribly in her sensitive soul, from their abject wickedness. But she makes no complaint, and continues to live out her sweet, pure life among them. Her goodness touches their vileness--and begins to dispel it. Her love blesses their soiled lives.

There she stays--a loving, patient, ministering angel, giving out her life--until that spot of wretchedness has begun to change. The degradation yields to purity. Into the squalor of their homes--come bits of beauty, and hints of moral refinement. On Sundays you may see this lovely angel-woman, with a company of restored lives around her, which she has lifted up out of sin and debasement, by the mighty power of her pure, unselfish love. That is true Christlike serving!

"Then the King will say to those on His right: Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!
For I was hungry--and you gave Me something to eat;
I was thirsty--and you gave Me something to drink;
I was a stranger--and you invited Me in;
I was naked--and you clothed Me;
I was sick--and you visited Me;
I was in prison--and you came to visit Me!" Matthew 25:34-36


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#19
nChrist

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His unsleeping watchfulness

(J.R. Miller)

"You are the God who sees me!" Genesis 16:13

Go where we may, we cannot get away from the calm, clear gaze of the Divine Eye! Neither in the blue depths of the heavens, nor in the dark abysses of the grave--can we hide away from God. If we could take the morning sunbeams for wings, and fly away on them with all the swiftness of light to the remotest bounds of space--we could not get beyond the reach of the Divine Eye. If we creep into the darkness, darkness so deep and dense that no human eye can behold us--still God sees us as clearly as if we stood in the bright noon-day sunshine! Darkness hides not from Him. Night shines to His eye, as brightly as day.

When we know that God loves us, there is infinite comfort in this thought of His unsleeping watchfulness. It is our Father who watches us! There ought also to be wondrous encouragement and inspiration in this consciousness.

While the Eye of divine love is looking upon us, we should always strive to be pleasing to Him in all things!

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea--even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast! If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You!" Psalm 139:9-12


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#20
nChrist

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"It is appointed for man once to die--and after that comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27

The contracting walls!

(J.R. Miller)

There was a medieval dungeon of singular construction. When the prisoner first entered it--it seemed very bright and pleasant. It had a cheerful appearance. But in three or four days, he saw that the walls, which were of iron, were slowly contracting. On oiled hinges and in silent grooves, the metal plates were ever drawing nearer and nearer to each other.

By and by the prisoner could hardly move. Then the place was too small for him to lie down in. The next day, there was only room for him to stand. Now he put his hands frantically against the iron walls to keep them from crushing him. But all was in vain. The walls silently and remorselessly closed upon him.

In the same way, your years are the walls of just such a prison. They are bright and beautiful to you. But each day the prison is contracting, its walls are narrowing around you. With every pulse-beat, the iron walls draw closer and closer around your soul.

The only refuge from this prison, is Christ. Without Christ, life means nothing but illusion and disappointment, ending in death and eternal damnation! Christ is the only door into liberty, into blessedness, into joy, into Heaven!

"For the wages of sin is death" Romans 6:23

"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved!" John 10:9


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