You Have Saved the Best Til Last!

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(J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890)

“Everyone brings out the choice wine first . . . But you have saved the best until now!” John 2:10

The world gives its best first–and the worst comes afterwards!

It is so in all sinful pleasures: first exhilaration–and then bitter remorse.

It is so in the chase for wealth, power, and fame: gratification first–and then painful disappointment. At first money brings gladness–a sort of satisfaction. But as time rolls on and wealth increases–cares multiply, anxieties thicken, burdens grow heavier, and at last–the rich man finds that in all his riches, he has less satisfaction than he had in the days when he was just a poor boy!

It is so in all mere worldly ambitions: the first cups of fame are sweet–but soon they pall upon the taste.

This truth holds especially in the sinful life: we need not deny that at the beginning, sin is sweet–but bitternessis found at the bottom of the cup!

In grace, however, this is reversed–the good wine is kept to the last! Christ Himself first had humiliation, darkness, and the shame of the cross–and then exaltation, power, glory!

In the Christian life, the same law holds:

First there comes bitterness–but out of the bitterness, sweetness flows.

There is first the deep sorrow of penitence–but this gives way to the blessed joy of forgiveness.

First comes self-denial and cross-bearing–but out of these experiences comes a holy peace which fills all the heart.

Sorrows are to be endured–but the good wine of comfort is poured into the emptied cup.

There is also a constant progression in the blessings of the divine life. We never get to the end of them! Indeed, we never get to the best! There is always something better yet to come. Christ keeps the really best wine until the very last–in Heaven! As sweet as Christ’s peace now is to the Christian–he will never know the fullness of the love of God, until he gets home to the Father’s house!

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We Are Not Expected To Like It, But…

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(J.R. Miller)

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord.” Proverbs 3:11

The Bible always talks to us as children. Chastening comes with a Father’s authority–and also a Father’s gentleness.

Of course, it is not possible that we should really find pleasure in being chastened. That is not natural. Indeed the Bible says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” Not even the grace of God in our hearts can take the sting out of chastening. We are not expected to like it–but we are told not to despise it. That is, we are to accept it without murmuring, without complaining, and submissively–as God’s messenger to us, bringing a blessing.

It will help us to receive chastening meekly, in faith and love–if we remember that it is our heavenly Father who sends it. We know that He loves us with infinite affection. He does not take pleasure therefore in causing us pain, nor would He do it at all–were it not in some way for our good. It is because He loves us and would do us good–that He sends or permits the suffering.

We should never despise any instruction our Father gives us, however costly and painful it may be. He lets us suffer because He loves us–and would make our lives beautiful and holy.

We should be willing to endure any pain or trial, in order to have the likeness of Christ fashioned in our life.

“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

These Rare Pictures of Beauty!

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(J.R. Miller)

“Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things!” Isaiah 40:26

They miss many a tender joy–who do not have a heart in sympathy with nature.

They lose many a whisper of love which drops from God’s lips–who do not have ears open to hear the voices of nature.

They fail to see many lovely visions of beauty–who have not learned to use their eyes in admiring the exquisite things that God has scattered everywhere in such glorious variety.

Yet most of us walk amid these inspirations, these rare pictures, these sweet voices–and neither feel nor see nor hear them! God meant us to get comfort and joy from the lovely things with which He has filled our earth.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world!” Psalm 19:1-4

Kill Those Evil Habits

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(J.R. Miller)

 

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.
Punish him with the rod–and save his soul from death!” Proverbs 23:13-14

To leave the roots of weeds growing in the garden among the flowers–is to insure the springing up of those weeds by and by, to mar the beauty of the garden.

In the same way, some parents have such foolish hearts that they cannot bear to correct a child lest they cause it pain. They forget that to leave an uncorrected fault in a child, or to allow any wrong habit to grow up in its life unchecked–is the greatest unkindness they could possibly do the child!

No tender feeling should ever prevent a parent from trying to correct a fault in a child. Love must always seek the best.

“Chasten your son while there is hope–and do not set your heart on his destruction!” Proverbs 19:18

Flinging Gold Coins and Diamonds into the Sea!

800px-Waves_lajolla(J.R. Miller, 1898)

“Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise–making the most of your time!” Ephesians 5:15-16

If you saw a man standing by the shore, and flinging gold coins and diamonds into the sea–you would say that he was insane. Yet God sees many people continually doing something very like this. Not gold and precious stones, do they this throw away–but minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years of time–possessions which are of greater worth than any gems of earth!

If we knew the intrinsic value of time–we would not allow a moment of it ever to be wasted!

It is said that in the mints, where gold is coined, that the sweepings of the floors are gathered and passed through the fire, and that in the course of a year large amounts of gold are saved from the mere dust of the precious gold which flies from it as it passes through the various processes of minting.

In the same way, what vast values would be saved if there were some way of gathering up all the little fragments of the days and hours–the golden dust of time, which people let drop amid the wastes!

Then think how much most of us would really add to the length of our life, if we had learned to use every hour and moment. We talk seriously of the brevity of life. We are often heard complaining about the shortness of the days, wishing they had many more hours in them. Probably the majority of people waste one-half of their time, and have made only one-half as much of their life as they might have done–if they had only used their time with wise economy, and had not squandered any of it.

There are many ways of wasting time. Many people waste a great deal of time in little fragments–five minutes here, ten minutes there, half an hour today, and an hour tomorrow. Those who understand the true value of time, and have learned the secret of using it, always have something worth while to fill up all the little interstices. They have a good book to read when they find a few minutes to spare; or on any occasion of delay.

Time is also well spent, in which we get a beautiful thought, an important fact or a suggestion of a lesson into our mind. Or the fragments of time may be filled with little acts of helpfulness or kindness. It is one of the finest secrets of life, to know how to redeem the minutes from waste, and to make them bearers of blessing, of cheer, of encouragement, of good, to others. Then the whole world is sweeter, because of every kindness done or good word spoken.

Much time is wasted in useless activities–in doing things which are not worth while. There are things which are not regarded as sins–but which are of no value to anyone, and bring no benefit to him who spends his time in doing them.

There is a great deal of reading that is not worth while. You go through book after book, and from all the pages you do not get one enriching thought, one helpful inspiration, or one impulse toward a holier life. All you have at the end of a year of such reading, is only a confused memory of exciting sensations, unwholesome incidents, and unreal experiences. You would better have spent the time in sleep or in sheer idleness, than in going through such worthless books!

There is altogether too much of such reading done. There are good novels, great works of fiction, which teach splendid lessons, which show magnificent character and noble conduct, which inspire their readers to truer, holier living. But there are novels which give unworthy and unwholesome thoughts of life, which leave in the mind of readers a residuum of unholy thoughts, false ideals, thetrail of the serpent. Then there are novels which, if they are not positively evil in their spirit and tendency–are inane, senseless, with nothing in them to make any one truer, holier, or sweeter-spirited.

A great deal of the popular reading of our day is but a waste of time, if not worse! If instead of it people would read only that which is worth while–how much richer they would be at the end of their life!

No problem that comes before us is more important than this–what to do with time. In youth, we learn how to live. The habits we form then, will go with us to the end of our days. If we learn then the value of moments, and form the habit of giving every minute something worthy to do–we shall have found a secret of successful living.

“Teach us to number our days aright–that we may gain a heart of wisdom!” Psalm 90:12

The Very Image of Jesus

jesus-returning-medium(J.R. Miller)

“He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” 1 Corinthians 4:17

We should so live, that those who know us shall recognize the unmistakable lineaments of Christ in us.

Retzsch, a German sculptor, made a wonderful statue of the Redeemer. For eight years it was his dream by night, and his thought by day. He set it before a child of five or six years old. There were none of the usual emblematic marks designating the Savior about the figure–no cross, no crown of thorns, nothing by which to identify it. Yet when the child was asked who it was–she replied that it was the Lord Jesus.

This was a wonderful triumph of art, this putting so much divinity into the face of the model, that even a little child recognized the artist’s thought.

Just so, we should exhibit in our life and character such a reproduction of the holiness and beauty of Christ, that everyone who looks upon us and sees our life may instinctively recognize the features of the Master, and say, “Behold the image of the Lord Jesus!” There is no other way of magnifying the Lord, which so witnesses to the world.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ!” 1 Corinthians 11:1

Filthy Rags Made Pure

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(J.R. Miller)

Queen Victoria stopped one day at a paper-mill near Windsor Castle, and was shown through it by the foreman. He did not know who she was, as she was alone and was plainly dressed. The queen was intensely interested in every process of the paper-maker’s art. She was conducted at last to a place where a number of rag-pickers were emptying out the dirty rags which they had gathered from the gutters and alleys of the great city. There was a large pile of these filthy, blackened rags, which looked as if they never could be made clean. The queen asked the foreman what he would do with these. To her amazement, he told her that he would make them into the finest, whitest paper.

When the queen had gone, the foreman learned who she was. Some days after, there was received at the palace–a package of the purest, most delicate paper, having the queen’s likeness stamped upon it, with a note from the foreman of the mill, telling her that this paper was made from the very ragsshe had seen on her visit!

In the same way, the Holy Spirit takes human lives, ruined and blackened by sin–makes them whiter than snow, and stamps upon them the holy image of Jesus!

No life is hopeless in its ruin–which the transforming grace of God renews.

God can take the most sin-soiled soul–and give to it radiant beauty!

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.And that is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

The Ever Powerful Arms of our Eternal God

X light(J. R. Miller, “A Life of Character”)

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!” Deuteronomy 33:27

The picture suggested, is that of a little child, lying in the strong arms of a father who is able to withstand all storms and dangers.

At the two extremes of life, childhood and old age–this promise comes with special assurance.

“He shall gather the lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom” (Isaiah 40:11), is a word for the children.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He; I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carryyou; I will sustain you and I will rescue you!” (Isaiah 46:4), brings its blessed comfort to the aged.

The thought of God’s embracing arms is very suggestive. What does an arm represent? What is the thought suggested by the arm of God enfolded around His child?

One suggestion, is protection. As a father puts his arm about his child when it is in danger–so God protects His children. Life is full of peril. There are temptations on every hand! Enemies lurk in every shadow–enemies strong and swift! Yet we are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God. “Underneath are the everlasting arms!”

Another thought, is affection. The father’s arm drawn around a child–is a token of love. The child is held in the father’s bosom, near his heart. The shepherd carries the lambs in his bosom. John lay on Jesus’ bosom. The mother holds the child in her bosom, because she loves it. This picture of God embracing His children in His arms–tells of His love for them–His love is tender, close, intimate.

Another thought suggested by an arm, is strength. The arm is a symbol of strength. His arm is omnipotence. “In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:4). His is an arm that can never be broken! Out of this clasp–we can never be taken. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish–ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!” (John 10:28)

Another suggestion is endurance. The arms of God are “everlasting.” Human arms grow weary even in love’s embrace; they cannot forever press the child to the bosom. Soon they lie folded in death.

A husband stood by the coffin of his beloved wife after only one short year of wedded happiness. The clasp of that love was very sweet–but how brief a time it lasted, and how desolate was the life that had lost the precious companionship!

A little baby two weeks old–was left motherless. The mother clasped the child to her bosom and drew her feeble arms about it in one loving embrace; the little one will never more have a mother’s arm around it.

So pathetic is human life with–its broken affections, its little moments of love, its embraces that are torn away in one hour. But these arms of God–are everlasting arms! They shall never unclasp!

There is another important suggestion in the word “underneath.” Not only do the arms of God embrace His child–but they are underneath–always underneath! That means that we can never sink–for these arms will ever be beneath us!

Sometimes we say the waters of trouble are very deep–like great floods they roll over us. But still and forever,underneath the deepest floods–are these everlasting arms! We cannot sink below them–or out of their clasp!

And when death comes, and every earthly thing is gone from beneath us, and we sink away into what seems darkness–out of all human love, out of warmth and gladness and life–into the gloom and strange mystery of death–still it will only be–into the everlasting arms!

This view of God’s divine care is full of inspiration and comfort. We are not saving ourselves. A strong One, the mighty God–holds us in His omnipotent clasp! We are not tossed like a leaf on life’s wild sea–driven at the mercy of wind and wave. We are in divine keeping. Our security does not depend upon our own feeble, wavering faith–but upon the omnipotence, the love, and the faithfulness of the unchanging, the eternal God!

No power in the universe can snatch us out of His hands! Neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come–can separate us from His everlasting arms!

The Wicked Tongue!

Mr Bumgrope 02The average person uses 15,000 to 16,000 words a day. On any given day, the average person swears 80-90 times. This is just profanity. How about cruel and insensitive words? How about discouraging and unloving words? The tongue is definitely a cruel and merciless weapon which MUST be tamed.

(J.R. Miller)

“The tongue has the power of life and death!” Proverbs 18:21

“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man–but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison!” James 3:6-8

The tongue is a very troublesome member! It is a very important member, however–and with it we can do great good.

Our words, if they are true and loving–carry blessings wherever they are heard. But the tongue is hard to control. When we have really gotten our tongue under control–we are almost perfect. One who can govern his speech–can govern every other part of his life.

small bit keeps a spirited horse in check–and a little rudder turns a great ship in its course. Just so the tongue, though so small a member, controls the whole life!

The tongue is harder to tame than wild beasts! There has been but one Man who never spoke foolishly, rashly, bitterly. Jesus never did–His words were always pure, sweet, helpful, and inspiring.

We ought to set ourselves the task of mastering our tongues–for then we can do untold good with them. Only Christ can help us to do it. He mastered everything–demons, diseases, winds, waves, death itself. He alone can help us to master the most unruly tongue!