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Choice Excerpts: Part 14

By J.R. Miller


      He loves us too well

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

      Sometimes the ways of God do seem hard.
      Our fondest hopes are crushed;
      our fairest joys fade like summer flowers;
      the desires of our hearts are withheld from us.

      Yet, if we are God's children, we believe that a blessing is hidden in every one of these losses or denials. Right here, we get a glimpse into the mystery of many unanswered prayers. The things we seek, would not work good for us in the end--but evil. The things we plead to have removed--are essential to our highest interests.

      Health is supposed to be better than sickness--but there comes a time when God's kindness will be most wisely shown--by denying us health. He never takes pleasure in causing us to suffer; He is touched by our sorrows. Yet He loves us too well, to give us things that would harm us, or to spare us the trial that is needful for our spiritual good. It will be seen in the end, that many of the very richest blessings of all our lives--have come to us through God's denials, His withholdings, or His shattering of our hopes and joys.

      We should never forget that the object of all of God's dealings with His children--is to sanctify us, and make us vessels fit for His use. To this high and glorious end, our present pleasure and gratification must ofttimes be sacrificed. This is the true key to all the mysteries of Providence. Anything that hinders entire consecration to Christ, is working us harm; and though it be our tenderest joy, it is best that it be taken away.

      Prayer is not always granted, even when the heart clings with holiest affection to its most precious joy. Nothing must hinder our consecration. We should never think first of what will give us earthly joy or comfort--but of what will fit us for doing the Master's service.

      Pain is often better for us--than pleasure;
      loss is often better for us--than gain;
      sorrow is often better for us--than joy;
      disaster is often better for us--than deliverance.

      Faith should know that God's withholdings from us, when He does not give what we ask--are richer blessings than were He to open to us all His treasure-houses at whose doors we stand and knock with so great vehemence. Our unanswered prayers have just as real and as blessed answer--as those which bring what we seek.
      



      The best that most of us can do in this world

      Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27

      Christ lives in me." Galatians 2:20

      Christ within us will be made manifest. If we have this divine indwelling, we will also have an ever-increasing measure in all of our life--of the gentle and loving spirit of the Master. We should not claim to have Christ in us--if, in our conduct and speech, in our disposition and temper, and in our relations with our fellow-men, there is none of the mind and temper of Christ. If Christ truly is in us, He cannot long be hidden in our hearts, without manifestation. There will be a gradual transformation of our outer life--into Christ-likeness.

      As He lived--so we will live;
      as He ministered to others--so we will minister;
      as He was holy--so we will be holy;
      as He was patient, thoughtful, unselfish, gentle, and kind--so will we be.

      Christ came to our world to pour divine kindness on weary, needy, perishing human lives. Christ truly in our hearts--would send us out on the same mission. The world today needs nothing more than true Christ-likeness, in those who bear Christ's name, and represent Him.

      If we truly have Christ in our hearts--it will work out in transformed life and in Christly ministry; it will lead to the brightening of one little spot, at least, on this big earth.

      There are a few people whom God calls to do great things for Him. The best that most of us can do in this world--is just to live out a real, simple, consecrated, Christian life in our allotted place. Thus, in our little measure, we shall repeat the life of Christ Himself, showing others some feeble reflection of His sweet and loving face, and doing in our poor way--a few of the beautiful things He would do, if He were here Himself.
      



      You will have many trials and sorrows

      "You may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33

      There is no life into which do not come many things calculated to cause anxiety and disturbance of mind: there are great sorrows; there are perplexities as to duty; there are disappointments and losses; there are annoyances and hindrances; there are chafings and irritations in ordinary life; there are countless petty cares and frets.

      All of these tend to break the hearts' peace and to disturb its quiet. Yet, there is no lesson which is urged more continuously or more earnestly in the Scriptures, than that a Christian should never worry, or let anxious care oppress his heart. He is to live without disturbance and with unbroken peace--even in the midst of the most trying experiences.

      "The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

      "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." Colossians 3:15
      



      Sermons without words

      When you are tempted to chafe and repine at the narrowness of your circumstances, and the limitations of your sphere--remember that for thirty years, Jesus found room in a humble peasant home for worthy living and for service, not unfitted to His exalted character.

      If you can do nothing but live a true Christian life--patient, gentle, kindly, pure--in your home, in society, at your daily duty--you will perform a service of great value, and leave many blessings in the world. Such a life is a little gospel, telling in sermons without words--the wonderful story of the cross of Christ.

      "Let your light shine before men--that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
      



      A living, loving, personal Savior

      We are in the habit of saying that Christ saved us by dying for us on the Cross. In an important sense this is true. We never could have been saved--if He had not died for us.

      But we are actually saved by our relation to a living, loving, personal Savior--into whose hands we commit all the interests of our lives; and who becomes our Friend, our Helper, our Keeper, our Burden bearer--our all in all.

      Christian faith is not merely laying our sins on the Lamb of God, and trusting to His one great sacrifice; it is the laying of ourselves on the living, loving heart of one whose friendship becomes thenceforward the sweetest joy of our lives!

      "The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20
      



      The God of all comfort

      "The Father of compassion--and the God of all comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:3

      There is a blessing in true human sympathy. God sends our friends to us, to bring us little measures of His own love--little cupfuls of His grace. But He Himself is the only true comforter. His love alone--is great enough to fill our heart, and His hand alone--has skill to bind up our wounds.

      However deep the sorrow may be--if we creep into God's bosom, and nestle there like a tired child in the mother's arms--God's love will enfold and embrace us, and flow into our heart--and we shall be comforted, satisfied.

      "As a mother comforts her child--so will I comfort you." Isaiah 66:13
      



      A living, loving, personal Savior

      We are in the habit of saying that Christ saved us by dying for us on the Cross. In an important sense this is true. We never could have been saved--if He had not died for us.

      But we are actually saved by our relation to a living, loving, personal Savior--into whose hands we commit all the interests of our lives; and who becomes our Friend, our Helper, our Keeper, our Burden bearer--our all in all.

      Christian faith is not merely laying our sins on the Lamb of God, and trusting to His one great sacrifice; it is the laying of ourselves on the living, loving heart of one whose friendship becomes thenceforward the sweetest joy of our lives!

      "The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20
      



      Worldly losses

      If we have God--no other loss is irreparable! There is surely enough in God's love, to compensate a thousand times for every earthly deprivation! Our lives may be stripped bare--home, friends, riches, comforts, every sweet voice of love, every note of joy--and we may be driven out from brightness and music and tenderness and shelter--into the cold ways of sorrow. Yet if we have God Himself left--ought it not to suffice? Yes, is not He Himself infinitely more than all His gifts?

      Often we do not learn the depth and riches of God's love, and the sweetness of His presence--until earthly joys vanish out of our hands, and beloved ones fade away out of sight. The loss of temporal things empties our hearts--to receive spiritual and eternal things! The sweeping away of earthly hopes--reveals the glory of our heart's refuge in God. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

      "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3
      



      The value of choice devotional reading

      "Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path." Psalm 119:105

      Nothing is more helpful and practical in Christian living--than the habit of getting a verse or phrase of Scripture into the mind and heart in the morning. Its influence stays through the day, weaving itself into all the day's thoughts and words and experiences.

      Every verse in the Bible is meant to help us to live--and a good devotional book opens up the precious teachings which are folded up in Scripture.

      A devotional book, which takes a Scripture text, and so opens it for us in the morning-- that all day long it helps us to live, becoming a true lamp for our feet, and a staff to lean upon when the way is rough--is the very best help we can possibly have. What we need in a devotional book which will bless our lives-- is the application of the great teachings of Scripture--to common, daily, practical life.
      



      If we would be like our Master

      "Whoever claims to live in Him--must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

      Every true Christian should desire to be Christlike in character. It is not enough to be honest, and upright, and true, and just. Christ had these strong qualities --but He was also gentle, and kind, and loving, and patient. If we would be like our Master--we must have these traits of character also in us. When we pray that the beauty of the Lord may be upon us, we must ask for these finer features of His beauty--as well as for the more rugged ones. We need His strength and truth and faithfulness and justice--but we need His love and tenderness as well. "Leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21m
      



      The hidden life

      "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart!" 1 Samuel 16:7

      Those who are striving to live near the heart of Christ, must realize that it is the hidden life which makes the character.

      What we are in the depths of our being, where no human eye can penetrate--that we are actually, as God sees us. This inner life will ultimately work its way through to the surface--transforming the character into its own quality.

      Nothing can be more important, therefore, than that the hidden life be true, pure, beautiful, and Christ-like.

      "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart!" 1 Samuel 16:7
      



      The school of suffering

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

      Most of us need the chastening of affliction. Pain is wonderful revealer. It teaches us many things we never could have known, if we had not been called to endure it. It opens windows through which we see, as we never saw before --the beautiful things of God's love.

      Many of the finest things in character, are the fruits of pain. Many a Christian enters trial--cold, worldly, unspiritual--and emerges from the experience a little later, with spirit softened, mellowed, and spiritually enriched.

      Sanctified afflictions soften the harshness and sharpness of one's character. They consume the dross of selfishness and worldliness. They humble pride. They temper carnal ambitions. They quell fierce passions. They show to us the evil of our own heart, revealing our weaknesses, faults, and blemishes--and making us aware of our spiritual danger. They discipline the wayward spirit.

      Sorrow draws its sharp ploughshare through the heart, cutting deep and long furrows--and the heavenly Sower follows with the seeds of godly virtues. Then by and by, fruits of righteousness spring up.

      Sorrow has a tenderizing influence. It makes us gentle and kindly toward each other. In no other school, do our hearts learn the lessons of patience, tolerance, and forbearance so quickly--as in the school of suffering.

      "It was good for me to be afflicted--so that I   could learn Your statutes." Psalm 119:71
      



      Not one of us would ever be saved!

      He always lives to intercede for them." Hebrews 7:25

      Some speak as if all Christ's work in saving us, had been done on the cross nineteen hundred years ago, in His giving up of Himself to die for us. But His actual work in saving us--is continued with us-- in teaching us life's lessons, giving us grace to overcome in temptation, lifting us up when we have fallen, going after us and bringing us back when we have wandered away, and keeping us from the world's deadly evils.

      Were it not for this patient, never-failing, watchful love of Christ--not one of us would ever be saved!

      "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish --ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28
      



      Work for God's eye

      "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." Matthew 6:1

      No grace shines more brightly in a Christian, than humility. Wherever SELF comes in--it mars the beauty of the work we are doing. Seek to do your work noiselessly. Do not try to draw attention to yourself--to make others know that you did some beautiful thing. Be content to pour your rich life into other wasted, weary lives--and see them blessed and made more holy--and then hide away and let Christ have the honor. Work for God's eye--and even then, do not think much about reward. Seek to be a blessing--and never think of self-glory.

      "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:4
      



      Unto the end!

      "Having loved His own who were in the world --He loved them to the end." John 13:1

      The most wonderful thing in the universe, is our Savior's love for His own people. Christ bears with all our infirmities. He never tires of our inconsistencies and unfaithfulnesses. He goes on forever forgiving and forgetting. He follows us when we go astray. He does not forget us--when we forget Him. Through all our stumbling and sinning, through all our provocation and disobedience, through all our waywardnesses and stubbornnesses, through all our doubting and unfaithfulness --He clings to us still, and never lets us go. "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

      "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish--ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28
      



      Your amusements

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

      Amusements are proper, both as to kind and degree--just so far as they make us better Christians. Whenever they become hindrances to us in our Christian living or in our holy walk --they are harmful, however innocent they may be in themselves.

      How do your amusements influence your spiritual life? They may be very pleasing to you. They may afford great gratification. But what is their effect on you, as a Christian? Are they hindering your love for Christ, and your growth in grace? We ought to be honest enough with ourselves, to answer these questions truthfully, and then act accordingly.
      



      The laws of nature

      God's will controls the smallest matters, and takes into account the smallest events in each life. A Spanish proverb says, "A leaf does not stir on the tree--without the will of God." God's hand is in every event. We talk of the the laws of nature--but what is nature? It is not something independent of God. The laws of nature are simply God's laws. Nothing takes place that is contrary to the divine will. Nothing--no storm, no earthquake, no cyclone, no tidal wave--ever gets out of God's control.

      This world is not controlled by chance, nor by any blind fate--but by Him who loved us so much, that He gave His son to die for us.
      



      Amid all the confusion and tangle

      Hold me up--and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

      Certain ancient mariners were accustomed to say, as they put out to sea, "Keep me, O God, for my boat is so small--and the ocean is so great and stormy!"

      There could not be a fitter prayer for a Christian--as he sets out in life. The world is vast and full of perils, and a Christian, even the best, is very weak and frail. He has no ability to face the difficulties, the obstacles, the hardships he must face, if he is to pass successfully through life. The world is large, and full of storm and struggle--and only a few get through it safely.

      If there were no one greater and stronger than ourselves, into whose keeping we may commit our lives, as we go out to meet the perils--what hope could we have of ever getting through safely?

      The Christian cannot guide himself. He cannot master the storms. He cannot shelter himself. "Keep of me safe, O God, for in You I take refuge!" (Psalm 16:1) should be his prayer, not only once when he launches his barque--but daily, hourly.

      Christ alone, is able to keep our lives. But does Jesus really care for our little individual lives? Yes! The very thing that Jesus does for us--is to be the keeper of our lives as we pass through the world with its storms and dangers.

      Christ alone, is able to guide us. The world is a great mass of tangled paths. They run everywhere, crossing each other in all directions. Hands are forever beckoning us here and there--and we know not which beckoning to follow. Even friendship, loyal as it may be, sincere and sympathetic as it is--lacks wisdom and may guide us mistakenly.

      But there is One only whose wisdom is infallible, whose advice never errs--and He is our Guide! There is a little prayer in Psalm 143 which pleads: "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul." This prayer, if sincere, will always be answered. We may see no hand leading us. We may hear no voice saying, as we walk in the darkness, "This is the way--walk in it." Yet if we seek divine guidance and accept it implicitly --we shall always have it.

      Not only do we have keeping and guidance in Christ--but everything we need on the way--and then eternal blessedness! We may commit our lives into His hands with absolute confidence. He will take us with all our faults and our sins--and will keep us from hurt in all the perils of the way. He will lead us in the right path amid all the confusion and tangle--and then He will bring us to glory!

      "To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!" Jude 1:24-25

Back to J.R. Miller index.

See Also:
   Part 1
   Part 2
   Part 3
   Part 4
   Part 5
   Part 6
   Part 7
   Part 8
   Part 9
   Part 10
   Part 11
   Part 12
   Part 13
   Part 14
   Part 15
   Part 16
   Part 17

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