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

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 judgement, 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

Published in: on October 31, 2016 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Amusements or Worship?

Religion, if you please, is now big business. A countless number of amusements flourish everywhere, paid for by the consecrated tithes of people who ought to know better.

Christianity has seen a steady rise of religious entertainment as a source of mental pleasure. God’s people have turned to the amusements of the world to try to squeeze a bit of juice out of them for the relief of their dry and joyless hearts.

I want to tell you something. If I want to see a show–I know where I can see a good one put on by top flight actors who know what they are doing. If I want a show–I’ll go down to a theater and see a show hot out of Hollywood by men and women who are artists in their field. I will not go to a church and see a lot of ham actors putting on a home talent show. And yet, that’s where we are in evangelical circles. We’ve got more show in evangelical circles than anywhere else. I would not give a plug nickel for the whole business of it!

The church is not a religious theater to provide a place for amateur entertainers to display their talents.

– A.W. Tozer, 1897-1963

The true ideal of all Christian life

Jenny Lind (known as “the Swedish Nightingale”) once said to another, in accounting for the motive and spirit of her wonderful singing, “I sing to God!” She meant that she looked into God’s face, as it were, and consciously sang to Him. She did not sing to the vast audience that hung on her words and was held spellbound by them. She was scarcely conscious of any face before her, but God’s. She thought of no listening ear, but God’s.

We may not all be able to enter into such perfect relation with God as did this marvelous singer — but this is the only true ideal of all Christian life.

We should do each piece of work for God.
The business man should do all his business for God.
The artist should paint his picture for God.
The writer should write his book for God.
The farmer should cultivate his ground for God.
This means that we are always engaged in the Father’s business, and must do it all in a way that He will approve.

Jesus was a carpenter, for many years working at the carpenter’s bench. We are sure that He did each piece of work for His Father’s eye. He did it skillfully, conscientiously, beautifully. He did not skimp it nor hurry through it, so as to get away from the shop earlier.

– J. R. Miller, 1840-1912, The Glory of the Common Place

To be more hidden

“And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman (Mary of Bethany) came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.” – Mark 14:3

“Jesus said,…She has done a good work for Me.” Mark 14:6

“She,” said Christ, “has worked a good work for Me,” which He never said of Martha, good as Martha was. He censured, a little, the elder sister for being cumbered with much serving. But Mary’s work He commended and decreed that it should be remembered as long as the world stands. Though she does not bear the name of a worker in the vulgar judgment, yet is she the queen in the kingdom of good works! Yet, I remind you, she did not say a word. There is such a thing as spoiling what you do by making so great a fuss, before you do it. Moreover, there is such a thing as talking so much afterwards of what we have done that it spoils it all. It seems as if we must let all the world know something about ourselves — whereas the joy and bliss of it all is not to let yourself be seen, but to let the oil go streaming upon the Master till He is anointed with perfume and we, ourselves, sink back into our natural insignificance. Silent acts of love have musical voices in the ears of Jesus! Sound no trumpet before you, or Jesus will take warning and be gone!

If we could all do more and talk less, it might be a blessing to ourselves and, perhaps, to others. Let us labor in our service for the Lord to be more and more hidden! As much as is the proud desire to catch the eye of man, let us endeavor to avoid it.

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834-1892

Published in: on September 11, 2016 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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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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Disciples, not Converts

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you.”Luke 10:20

As Christian workers, worldliness is not our snare, sin is not our snare, but spiritual wantoning is, viz.: taking the pattern and print of the religious age we live in, making eyes at spiritual success. Never court anything other than the approval of God, go “outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have the commercial view – so many souls saved and sanctified, thank God, now it is all right. Our work begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation; we are not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace; our work as His disciples is to disciple lives until they are wholly yielded to God. One life wholly devoted to God is of more value to God than one hundred lives simply awakened by His Spirit. As workers for God we must reproduce our own kind spiritually, and that will be God’s witness to us as workers. God brings us to a standard of life by His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that standard in others.

Unless the worker lives a life hidden with Christ in God, he is apt to become an irritating dictator instead of an indwelling disciple. Many of us are dictators, we dictate to people and to meetings. Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever Our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced it with an “IF,” never with an emphatic assertion – “You must.” Discipleship carries an option with it.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Published in: on May 1, 2016 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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