J.R. Miller

Building Character or Complaining?

donkeyTheir greatest obstacle in the way of spiritual growth and transformed character

(J.R. Miller, “The Transfigured Life!” 1893)

Nothing helps more to develop the transfigured life in us, than work. Some people chafe because they have so much to do. Their days are filled from morning to night with dreary, monotonous task-work. With men it is the never-ending work of the farm, the office, the store, the shop, the mill. With women it is the thousand duties of the household, the care of the home, the tending of children, the weary chores of domestic life.

There are many people who think their greatest obstacle in the way of spiritual growth and transformed character–is in the drudgeries to which they are indentured by their condition. They imagine that if they could be freed from these and could have leisure for reading, for study, and for fellowship–then they would grow into far more radiant beauty of character.

But this is a mistaken impression. The only one perfect life the world has ever known, was not spent with a book–but with a hammer and a saw! The school of common taskwork, with its perpetual round of dreary duties–is the best place in the world in which to attain noble spiritual culture. There is no other way in which one’s life will be so surely, so quickly transfigured–as in the faithful, cheerful doing of every-day tasks.

We need to remember that this world is not so much a place for doing things–as for developing character.Household life is not primarily a sphere for good cooking, tidy keeping of rooms, thorough sweeping and dusting, careful nursing and training of children, hospitable entertainment of friends, and the thousand things that must be done each day; it is a sphere for transforming women’s souls into radiant beauty.

The shop, the mill, the factory, the store, the office, the farm–are not primarily places for making machines, selling goods, weaving cloths, building engines, and growing crops; they are, first of all, places for making men, building character, growing souls.

Right in the midst of what some people call drudgery–is the very best place to get the transformed, transfigured life! The doing of common tasks patiently, promptly, faithfully, cheerfully–makes the character beautiful and bright!

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We have just published J.R. Miller’s insightful short article, “The Transfigured Life!

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Dim Eyes

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Our dim eyes cannot read the dark pages!

(J.R. Miller)

“You do not know now what I am doing–but later you will understand.” John 13:7

Peter could not understand why Jesus should so condescend as to wash his feet. It perplexed and puzzled him, and he shrank from submitting to it. Jesus said, “You do not know now what I am doing–but later you will understand.” And so it proved. There came days afterwards when he understood it all, when he knew why his Master had done it–and when he truly saw beauty, wisdom, love, richest instruction, and divine necessity in it.

And the same principle applies all through our life. There are many things in the providence of God which at the time appear dark and obscure–but which the future makes clear and plain. The Lord lays us aside in the midst of our usefulness, He desolates our homes, He breaks our harp-strings, He pours bitterness into our cups of sweetness. Our lives are full of strange, perplexing things–and we do not know what they mean.

Our dim eyes cannot read the dark pages.
Our dull ears cannot hear the voice of love which speaks out to us from every adverse circumstance.
Our heavy hearts cannot perceive the love which throbs with full pulse in every darksome event.

But there will come a day when every dark page in our life’s history shall be explained–when all the tangleand confusion shall be unraveled, and the web shall lie before us woven through unto the end, warp and woof, with threads of gold and silver.

This word of Christ is the key to all the dark and strange providences in the life of every believer: “You do not know now what I am doing–but later you will understand.”

One reason for the present obscurity–is our ignorance, or limited knowledge. We know now, only in part. We see now, only through a glass darkly. We are all scholars in God’s school. The lessons set for us seem at first like the pages of an unknown language. We cannot pronounce the words. We cannot understand their meaning. They confuse and perplex us. We see no wisdom, no beauty, no love in them.

But the passing years bring riper wisdom and fuller knowledge. We shall then be able to read them off with ease. Then we shall see that every line held a golden lesson for our hearts–that every dark providence in our lives was one of God’s precious love-thoughts written out for us–and the whole page will glow with divine beauty!

Only fuller knowledge is needed to explain to us much of the mystery of our lives. In the cloudless light and perfect revelation of Heaven–every shadow of mystery will vanish, and the strangest providences will seem as plain and easy as childhood’s first lessons are to ripened and cultured manhood.

Another reason why many of the Lord’s ways seem so strange to us, is because we see them only in theirincompleteness. We must wait until they are finished, before we can fully understand what God is doing.

The work of sanctification is the process of painting the features of spiritual and divine beauty on human souls. And in this process, the Divine Artist oftentimes employs trials as His instruments. He first seems to destroy–but tribulation works patience. Many a man learns submission–when the Father’s hand rests so heavily upon him, that he cannot rise.

Many a feature of beauty in the soul–is brought out in the darkness of affliction. The process seems to be destructive–but afterwards it yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Not at the time–but afterwards. When God finishes His work–then it is beautiful and very good.

In the bitterness of his soul Jacob cried out, “All these things are against me!” But these things were not against him–God had not yet finished His work. The final result had not yet been wrought out. All thingsseemed against him–but he lived to praise the Lord for all the strange providences which appeared so cruel at that hour. These were but the crude blocks out of which God was building up a beautiful home for his old age, and with which He was laying the foundation of future greatness and glory for his family. They were links in a golden chain of blessing.

So it ever is, “You do not know now what I am doing–but later you will understand.” Wait until God has completed His work–and then all shall be well. You may see it even on the earth. Before you close your eyes in death–you may see the good brought out of the seeming evil of your life. But if not, if you die with the mystery still unsolved–then one moment in Heaven will explain all! Then you shall see all things completed. You shall see the web out of the loom–all its beautiful figures perfect, not one thread dropped or tangled. You shall see the temple finished–every block in its place, and the whole adorned with glory. You shall see thepicture when the artist has put the last touches to it–and when it appears no more marred and spoiled, as you thought it would be by so much trial–but perfect and beautiful, bearing the likeness of Christ in every feature.

Then you shall see all the dark providences of your life carried out to their final result. You shall see . . .
both the discipline–and its blessing;
both the affliction–and its rich fruits;
both the furnace-fires–and the brilliant gold!

This is the Kind of Bible That Should Be Seen By Children

004I would recommend all parents to get this kind of Bible

(J.R. Miller)

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path!” Psalm 119:105

In many houses you will see beautiful Bibles bound handsomely in morocco leather, with gilt edges, and full of bright pictures. I love to see a beautiful Bible in a home–especially if it is not kept too clean and unsoiled. But the most beautiful form in which a household Bible can be bound, is in the holy life of godly parents. There is no tinted, gold-edged paper so lovely–as the pages God gives us on which to write our daily record.

The precepts and lessons of the inspired Word sound very sweetly when read out of a richly-covered volume–but they sound far more sweetly, when the child can spell them out of the parent’s daily life.

It is well for a parent to read to his child from the inspired page about the beauty of holiness; but it is better still when the child can see that beauty shining out transfigured in every feature of his parent’s character.

It is well for him to read of the patience, gentleness, meekness, forbearance, and love of Christ; but it is better when he exemplifies all of these traits.

It is well for him to teach the child what the Bible says about lying, profanity, intemperance, and all sins; it is better when his life proclaims all these lessons.

No family Bible is so well printed and bound, as the one that is printed on the heart, and bound up in the life of a godly parent. I would recommend all parents to get this kind of Bible–and to keep the dust off it always by constant use. This is the best kind for a lamp to the children’s feet.

A beautiful Christian life is a living epistle written by the hand of God–which the youngest child can read before it has learned to spell out the shortest words of the language. It is a sermon that preaches Christ all day long–seven days in the week!

There is no heresy so dangerous to childhood–as heresies lived in the home!

Jesus Never Gave Money

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(J.R. Miller, “Woman’s Ministry”)

Many shrink from ministering to the poor, because they have no money to give. But money alone is the poorest alms ever bestowed! There are gifts which every true Christian, however poor, has to bestow–which are infinitely better than money.

The apostles gave no money. They had no silver nor gold to bestow.

Jesus never gave any money! We never read of Him giving a mite to any who were poor or in distress. And yet no man was ever such a lavish giver of beneficence as He. What Christ gave was loving service, pity, sympathy, compassion, tears and personal help.

These are the coins that the Christian should chiefly give. They are coins that bear the stamp of Heaven. The image and superscription of Jesus, our great King, are upon them. They were minted in Heaven! They are better than gold–for money is a poor thing to give, without love. “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames–but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3

Money will neither . . .
comfort the sad,
nor cheer the lonely,
nor lift up the fallen,
nor strengthen the faint,
nor support the tempted,
nor heal the broken-hearted,
nor soothe weariness,
nor wipe away tears.

Love-gifts are what the poor, suffering, and sorrowing most need.
And these heavenly coins, the poorest Christian may scatter!

Jesus asked nothing nobler on earth than this–and He has made these lowly ministries forever glorious and divine.

Let Christians go out into the world, and repeat everywhere the tender, beautiful, helpful ministry of Jesus–and they will do more to bless the world, than if they opened a mine of wealth and made thousands rich!

Glittering Deception

img_5327(J.R. Miller)

“Will you set your eyes upon that which is not? Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone–for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle!” Proverbs 23:5

People are badly cheated in this world. They often imagine that gold, silver, houses, lands, and stocks are the real treasures. So they toil for these things and gather them into their possession, and pile up what they suppose to be wealth. Thus they live like princes in their fine houses, and call themselves millionaires.

But one day their supposed riches take to themselves wings and fly away like eagles to the skies. Or they may keep their wealth, perhaps, and die at last in the midst of it, and have a great funeral. But then they find that they cannot carry a penny of it with them!

“How much did he leave?” was asked about a rich man who had died.

“He left all of it!” was the answer.

If men only knew that there are other things far more worth setting eyes and heart upon–things which will never fly away–they would pass by these glittering unrealities–to lay hold of the true riches!

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived–what God has prepared for those who love Him!” 1 Corinthians 2:9

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We have just published Arthur Pink’s superb 36 page booklet, “Eternal Punishment“. You may want to make time to read this helpful booklet this weekend.

Christ Jesus Knows His Own

Stories_of_old_or_Bible_narratives_(1863)_(14579310939)Christ knows His people by certain distinguishing marks

(J.R. Miller)

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own sheep–and they know Me!” John 10:14

The Jewish shepherds had certain marks by which they knew their own sheep. Even in this country, the farmers put “brands” on their sheep–their own initial, or an “ear-mark,” or some other particular sign by which they will know them anywhere. Christ knows His people by certain distinguishing marks.

He knows them by their faces. There is something in every true child of God, which shows to whom he belongs–some family likeness, some feature of the Divine image shining out. The prodigal’s father knew his son when he saw him a long way off. In his rags, in his beggary–the eye of love recognized the child. Just so, Christ knows His own people, however dim the likeness–by their faces. The crowds do not recognize heaven’s princes, in the humble Christians they meet; but Jesus does!

Not only does Christ know His own by their faces–but also by their voice. The mother knows her child’s voice anywhere, even in the darkness, and can distinguish it among a thousand voices. Christ knows the voices of His own people, wherever He hears them speak or cry.

He knows them also by their character. Even if the outside is rough and uncouth, it does not hide from His eye, the inner life–the spirit, the heart. He saw the future Peter with all his grandeur of character–in the crude Simon who was brought to Him.

He knows His friends by their obedience. He knows His disciples–by their following where He leads.

He also knows the white garments of righteousness which His redeemed ones wear.

He knows the penitent heart–by the fragrance it puts forth. It is an altar of incense. It is a box of ointment broken open. Just as we find out the hiding-places of flowers by their fragrances–so God knows the home of the penitent heart by the sweetness that wafts up from it.

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own sheep–and they know Me!”

The Clumsiness of Humanity

(J.R. Miller)

“I do not practice what I want to do–but I do what I hate!” Romans 7:15

Think of the brokenness, the incompleteness, the littleness–of these lives of ours!

We get glimpses of beauty in character–which we are not able to attain!
We have spiritual longings–which seem to us too great ever to come true.
We dream of things we want to do–but when we try to work them out, our clumsy hands cannot put them into realizations!

We have glimmerings of a love that is very rich and tender, without a trace of selfishness, without envy or jealousy, without resentment–a love which does not seek its own, nor is not provoked, and bears all things. We get the vision from the life of Christ Himself. We say, “I will learn that lesson of love–I will be like that!” But we fail.

We strive to be sweet-spirited, unselfish, thoughtful, kind–but we must wet our pillow with tears at the close of our marred days, because we cannot be what we strive to be! We have glimpses of an inner peace which is very beautiful. We strive after it strive with intense effort–but do not reach it!

So it is in all our living. Life is ever something too large for us. We attain only fragments of living. Yet take heart, “The desire of the righteous shall be granted!” Proverbs 10:24

You Are Immortal!

97000000000254224_1920x1080(J.R. Miller, “Morning Thoughts”)

“Herod immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went and beheaded John in the prison.” Mark 6:27-28

Jesus knows how His followers can best serve Him.

He sent the apostles out to teach and heal. John the Baptist, however–He permitted to be seized, to languish in prison, and to be cruelly beheaded.

Just so, we should be willing to serve our Master in any way He desires. He may want us to give a long life to active usefulness–or He may want us to serve and honor Him by enduring persecution and being murdered.

The life of John seemed to be a failure. He preached only a few months! He was a great preacher, too, and hundreds went to hear him. It seemed to his friends a pitiful waste of life, an irreparable loss to the heavenly kingdom–when he was murdered.

But John’s work was done. He accomplished all that he was sent into the world to do. There really was no reason for his living an hour longer.

When one dies in youth, we are apt to deplore his death as untimely. But God makes no mistakes! “Every man is immortal–until his work is done!”

We have published J.R. Miller’s superb book, “Morning Thoughts“–over 200 choice excerpts!

Why Worry?

download-001(J.R. Miller, “Morning Thoughts” 1906)

“Do not worry about anything–but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Learning not to worry, is one of the lessons that every Christian should master.

Worry is a terribly wasteful experience:
it uses up the strength we need for our duty,
it unfits us for doing our work well,
it is dishonoring to God, for He has promised to care for us, if only we do His will faithfully,
it is utterly fruitless, for it does not take away the things that it frets over.

The Bible gives many lessons on the subject–but none that makes plainer just how we are to eliminate worrying from our life, than what Paul here tells us to do.

First of all, we are simply not to worry: “Do not worry about anything.”
There is no room for exceptions, special circumstances, and all that.
We are not to worry about anything.

What then shall we do with the matters that we are disposed to worry over? Put them into the hands of God in prayer–and leave them there! If we do this–then the peace of God will guard our hearts and thoughts from all anxiety.

It will be a great benefit to us in every way, to learn this lesson.

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We have just published J.R. Miller’s superb book, “Morning Thoughts“–some 200 choice excerpts!

What a Tangled Web We Weave

(J.R. Miller)

“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

Our affairs are forever getting tangled, like threads in a child’s hands–and we cannot straighten out the tangles ourselves! We cannot see how anything beautiful or good can come out of our poor living, or our feeble striving.

Our days are full of disappointments, and our night’s rest is broken by anxieties. Yet it is the Christian’s privilege to commit all life’s tangles into the hands of Jesus Christ. He can take our broken things–and build them up into beauty!

One of the finest windows in a great cathedral is said to have been made out of the fragments of broken glass which the workmen had thrown away as worthless. A skillful hand gathered them up–and wrought them into lovely form.

In the same way, Jesus Christ can take . . .
our failures,
our mistakes,
our follies,
our broken fragments of life,
and even our sins–
and make them into beautiful life and character!

“Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5