Whatever Your Hand Finds to do

 

Find your work wherever Christ has put you. Do whatever he gives you to do. Strive to be full of Christ; then strive to be Christ to the souls about you, who are lost and perishing, or who are in need or sorrow. Seek to make one little spot of this world brighter, better, purer. Christ has redeemed you and lifted you up—that you may lift up other souls about you. If your hand is only ready for service, you will always find work ready for your hand.

– J. R. Miller, 1840 – 1912, Green Pastures

 

 

Published in: on June 30, 2016 at 2:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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We are in debt to everybody!

“Little children, we must not love in word or speech–but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18

“Do not owe anyone anything–except to love one another.” Romans 13:8

We are in debt to everybody! Love is a debt which never can be altogether settled. You may pay it all off today–but tomorrow you will find it as heavy as ever. It is a debt which everybody owes to everybody. Nor can it be paid off with any mere sentimental love. It cost Paul a great deal, to settle his obligations and pay his debts to others.

There is a sort of philanthropic sentiment which some people have, which does not cost them very much. But to pay his debts of love, Paul gave up all he had, and then gave himself up to service, suffering, and sacrifice to the very uttermost. True love always costs! Love’s essential quality, is unselfish helpfulness, the carrying of the life with all its rich gifts and powers in such a way–that it may be a blessing to every other life which it touches.

As Christians, we owe love to everyone–and love always serves. Serving is an essential quality of love. The true standard of greatness–is service. It is not what our life is in gifts, in culture, in strength–but what we do with our life, which is the real test of character. Our Lord taught this truth when he said, “Whoever wants to become great among you–must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first–must be slave of all.” Mark 10:43-44. He who serves the most fully and the most unselfishly, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Love seeks to give, to minister, to be of use, to do good to others. The true Christian desires to serve others, to minister to their comfort, to be a help and a blessing to them. It is thus, that we should relate ourselves to every person who comes within our influence. Love will lead us to ask concerning everyone who passes before us, “What can I do to help this brother of mine, to add to his happiness, to relieve his trouble, to put him in the way of holiness, to comfort his sorrow?” If this were the habitual attitude of our love, paradise would soon be restored. It would put an end to all our miserable pride, to all our petty tyrannies and despotisms.

Love works most effectively–when it works unconsciously, almost instinctively, inspired from within. That is the best service, which flows out of the heart and life–as light from the sun, as fragrance from a flower. There is no other way of paying our debt of love to others, which is so Christlike as this. We are to be to others–what Jesus would be, if He were in our place!

– J. R. Miller, The Building of Character, 1894

Published in: on June 26, 2016 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Knowing our spiritual disease is the first step towards the cure

Shall I say what seems to me to be the clearest proof that man is a fallen and corrupt creature?

It is not open vice, or unblushing profligacy.

It is not the crowded ale-house, or the murderer’s cell in a jail.

It is not avowed infidelity, or gross and despicable idolatry.

All these are proofs, and convincing proofs indeed, that man is fallen. But there is to my mind a stronger proof still–that proof is the wide-spread “spirit of slumber” about their souls, in which most men lie chained and bound. When I see that multitudes of sensible men, and intelligent men, and decent-living men–can travel quietly towards the grave, and feel no concern about their sins, I need no more convincing evidence that man is “born in sin,” and that his heart is alienated from God. There is no avoiding the conclusion.

Man is naturally asleep–and must be awakened.
He is blind–and must be made to see.
He is dead–and must be made alive.

No heart is in so bad a state, as the heart that does not feel sin!

Light was the first thing called into being. When God created the world, He said, “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3) In the same way, light is the first thing that the Holy Spirit creates in a man’s heart, when He awakens, converts, and makes him a true Christian. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

For lack of seeing sin–men do not value salvation. Once let a man get a sight of his own heart, and he will begin to cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”

To know our spiritual disease–is one step towards a cure. To feel bad and wicked and Hell-deserving–is the first beginning of being really holy.

What though we are humbled to the dust, and cry, “Lord, I am vile! Lord, I am the very chief of sinners!” It is better a thousand times to have these feelings and be miserable under them–than to have no feelings at all. Anything is better than a dead conscience, and a cold heart, and a prayer-less tongue!

Ignorance of self and sin are the root of all mischief to the soul!

J. C. Ryle, Knots Untied, 1896)

Looking at our afflictions through the eyes of faith

“I was silent; I would not open my mouth–for You are the one who has done this!” Psalm 39:9

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

This stillness and silence befits us, when God lifts up His arm to afflict us. It is of little use at such times to struggle against His almighty power–to be restless and complaining when His heavy hand is laid upon us. Our wisdom is . . .
to bear the burden which oppresses us with patience,
to submit cheerfully to the will of God, and
to kiss the painful rod which scourges us.

We should remember that our Father does not afflict His children willingly, that is, for His own pleasure–but for their profit. He loves them; and when He punishes them, it is for their discipline, and to make them what He would have them to be–partakers of His holiness.

We should look at our afflictions in this light–and not let a murmur escape our lips! Our language should be, “It is the Lord–let Him do what seems good to Him!” 1 Samuel 3:18

It is often our duty, in the hour of trial or of difficulty, to be still, to lie passive in God’s hands, “to hope, and quietly to wait for the salvation of the Lord.”

Ashton Oxenden, “The Christian Life” 1882

The truly humble Christian

 

A humble Christian is one who not only considers himself to be nothing–but is willing to be thought so by others. There is a vast difference between knowing our own faults–and being willing that others should know them. It is very mortifying to be accounted nothing in the eyes of our fellow-men. Now, the really humble man is content to bear this. He has no wish to be more highly esteemed than he deserves–in fact, the flattery of his brethren is distasteful to him!

And yet how utterly contrary is this to our natural feelings! The Drunkard would not wish his neighbors to know that he drinks–he would conceal it if he could. The Dishonest man would wish to appear honest before others.

And why all this desire at concealment? It is because people are anxious to keep up a good image before their fellow creatures–although they may have lost it with Him who knows all. The truth is, they ‘love the praise of men, more than the praise of God.’

What a dangerous snare this is! To be thought well of by our brethren, and to stand high in their opinion–is too eagerly sought after by most of us. We have need not only to fight against the fear of man–but also, and still more, against the love and esteem of man. The esteem of godly men is well, as far as it goes; but it is clearly wrong to be always craving after it. We should rather feel that anything like flattering praise would be hurtful to us–and on that account we should shrink from it, and try to put it away from us.

It is hard, I know, to bring ourselves to this. To pray that we may become low in our own eyes–needs some grace. But to pray that we may be content to be lowered in the eyes of those around us–needs a large amount of grace!

Suppose you were to be informed that one, who stood high for his religious attainments, had expressed an unfavorable opinion of you–would not this be very displeasing? But I am inclined to think that a true Christian, though he would feel a little nettled at the time–would be able to thank God for anything which keeps down his pride, and sets him in his proper place!

The day is soon coming, when we shall be taken off the false heights which we often stand upon, and be brought to our true level–when all the esteem of others shall vanish and pass away like smoke–and we shall be just what God finds us to be, neither more nor less!

Ashton Oxenden, The Touchstone of Humility, 1884

Published in: on June 8, 2016 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This was not the pleasant life which they dreamed of on their wedding day…

Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward. – Job 5:7

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

There are many crucial lessons which Christians cannot learn in the sunshine of prosperity. So the great Teacher calls us apart and shuts the doors, to keep out the light and exclude the world’s noises–and then He teaches us the songs . . .
of peace,
of joy,
of trust,
of love.
Thus the painful things of life have their place in the divine training of our lives.

Many of the things our Master calls us to do or to endure, do not seem to our eyes at the time, to be the best things. Much of our life is disappointment. Sorrow comes ofttimes with . . .
its hot tears,
its emptyings of the heart,
its pain,
its bitterness.

We do not know when we set out on any bright, sunny path–into what sorrowful experiences we shall be led. A noble young man married a sweet, beautiful girl. They were very happy. Life began for them in a garden of roses. Only three bright years had passed, however, when the young wife broke down in health. Then she became an invalid, much of the time unable to leave her room. The burden has been a very heavy one for the husband, requiring continual self-denial and sacrifice, besides the grief and anxiety it has brought.

This was not the pleasant life which they dreamed of on their wedding day! They thought only of gladness and prosperity. It never occurred to them that adversity or any trouble could break into their sweet paradise.

But the Master has made no mistake. To those who have watched their lives and noted the fruit of the suffering in them, it is becoming apparent that divine love and kindness are written in all the painful lines of the long story. The young man has been growing all the years . . .
in strength,
in gentleness,
in purity of spirit,
in self-control,
in the peace of God,
in all manly virtues.
It seemed a strange place to make him cast his nets–into the deep waters of affliction and disappointment–but he is now drawing them full of rich and noble blessings.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

J. R. Miller, 1840-1912, The Glory of the Commonplace

Published in: on June 6, 2016 at 11:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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