Tag Archives: Bible

The object in putting these verses in the Bible

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(J. R. Miller, “Devotional Hours with the Bible”)

Malachi 1:
The LORD Almighty says to the priests: “You have despised My name!”

But you ask, “How have we ever despised Your name?”

“You have despised My name by offering defiled sacrifices on My altar!”

Then you ask, “How have we defiled the sacrifices?”

“When you bring blind animals for sacrifice–is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals–is that not wrong?” says the LORD Almighty.

The Jewish law required that every sacrifice offered unto God, must be without blemish. No lame, blind, or diseased animal would be accepted. It was an insult to God to bring to His altar anything that was maimed, blemished or worthless. Yet the people had been taking the best of everything for themselves, and then bringing the refuse–the blind and lame animals–as offerings to God!

Well, how is it with ourselves? The object in putting these verses in the Bible–was not to get us to condemn the people who lived twenty-three hundred years ago! It was to make us think whether WE are doing this base thing ourselves!

Do we give God the best of all we have–our best love, our best gifts, our best service? Or do we take the best of all for ourselves–and then give God the blind and the lame?

How many people in the church, when the collection plate is being passed, pick out the smallest bit of money–to put in the plate! We give our strength to our own work or leisure, and then have only our weariness to bring to God. We save our best things for ourselves, and then have only worthless things to offer our wondrous King! What kind of service are we giving to our glorious Lord?

The Lord’s answer to the arrogant defense of the priests is startling: “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not at all pleased with you–and I will not accept your offerings!”

What do WE bring to God–when we go through the forms of prayer, when we sing the sacred words of our hymn, when we make our offerings, when we sit down at the Lord’s table? If there is only words, words, words in all our worship–no heart, no love, no real presenting of ourselves to God, no laying of our best on the altar–God has no pleasure in us and will not accept our offerings at our hand!

“Now these things occurred as examples to keep US from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” 1 Corinthians 10:6

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They could burn–but they could not turn!

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(J. R. Miller, “Devotional Hours with the Bible”)

“As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music–you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up! Whoever does not fall down and worship–will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace!” Daniel 3:5-6

Every child knows this story. It is one of the classics of Christian households. We will never have to meet precisely the same trial of faith, that these three Hebrew children had to meet; but we need just as heroic a spirit–in order to be faithful.

Imposing images are set up even now in many a place–and all are expected to bow down to them–and woe to him who does not kneel!

We all have opportunity enough to be heroic. The popular religion of today, is inclined to limpness of the knees. We have grown wonderfully tolerant in these modern days! We bow to almost anything–if it happens to be fashionable.

“Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music–all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up!”

But there were some whose knees did not bend!

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king: O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king–that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up!” Daniel 3:16-18

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were all young men who were in peculiar circumstances. They were away from home, out from under parental influence and restraints, and exposed to very strong temptation. They had now their choice between duty–and the fiery furnace! We should study this lesson for its example of heroic devotion to duty, regardless of consequences. Even yet, the world’s promotion is obtainable ofttimes–only at the price of a trampled conscience!

There are several things to note in these young men.

Note their calmness; they displayed no excitement, no heat of passion. The peace of God ruled in their hearts.

Note also, their sublime courage. They had a contempt of death. They feared only one thing–sin!

Note also, their trust in God. They committed the matter utterly into His hands. They did not know what He would do–but they were sure it would be the right thing.

The king wanted to give them another chance, as he preferred not to burn such useful servants; but they told him there was no need for a second opportunity. They would have no other answer to give. They could make no possible change in their decision. The thing that was demanded of them was contrary to the plain law of their God–and that settled it forever. There was no room for discussion or for deliberation or for persuasion–when it was the law of God that was concerned. They could burn–but they could not turn!

It would save many people a great deal of weighing, balancing, and discussing of fine points–if they would act always on this principle–that the Word of God is final in all matters of duty. When a thing is forbidden in the Word–that should be the end of it.

But too many people parley with such matters–and usually end in yielding to sin. It is never safe to parley with temptation!

It would be well if all our modern Christians had the sublime moral courage of these three Hebrew children.

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Oh, live for eternity!

Jesus is back !

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(Mary Winslow)

What poor creatures we are–if left to ourselves!

What a mercy there is One that loves us better than we love ourselves, and will watch over us all our journey here, and who has engaged, by all the varying dispensations of His providence, to prepare us for that blessed home He has gone to prepare for us.

And oh, what a place will that be!

Love Him supremely!

Live for eternity!

Live for Jesus!

Have much to do with Him!

This world is not worth living for!

Its honors, its riches, its glories are things ever passing away; but the love of Jesus is as eternal as Himself.

Oh, live for eternity! The glory of this world is fading, and is soon gone, and gone forever!

Again I say, live for a glorious eternity!

If you could have the glory, the wealth, and the honors of this world laid at your feet–how short would be the empty enjoyment of them.

Then, live and act with reference to eternity!

And oh, the glory that awaits the true follower of Christ, who has cast overboard all that the world calls good and grand, and taking the Bible as his directory, walks as Jesus did.

__________________________

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The sin of wasting life!

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(J. R. Miller, “Numbering our Days“, 1912)

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

What is it to number our days?

One way is to keep a careful record of them. That is a mathematical numbering. Some people keep diaries and put down everything they do–where they go, what they see, whom they meet, the books they read. But mere adding of days is not the numbering that was in the thought of the Psalmist.

There are days in some lives–that add nothing to life’s treasures, and that leave nothing in the world which will make it better or richer. There are people who live year after year–and might as well never have lived at all! Simply adding days–is not living! If that is all you are going to do with the new year–you will only pile up an added burden of guilt.

Why do people not think of the sin of wasting life?

If you saw a man standing by the sea–and flinging diamonds into the water–you would say he was insane. Yet some of us are standing by the sea–and flinging the diamond days, one by one, into its dark floods! Mere eating and sleeping, and reading the papers, and going about the streets, and putting in the time–is not living!

Another way of numbering our days, is illustrated by the story of a prisoner who when he entered his cell, put a mark on the wall for each of the days he would be incarcerated. Then each evening he would rub off one of these marks–he had one day less to stay in prison.

Some people seem to live much in this way. Each evening–they have on day less to live. Another day is gone, with its opportunities, its privileges, its responsibilities and its tasks–gone beyond recall.

Now, if the day has been filled with duty and love and service–its page written all over with pure, white thoughts and records of gentle deeds–then it is well; its passing need not be mourned over. But merely to have to rub it off at the setting of the sun, leaving in it nothing but a story of idleness, uselessness, selfishness, and lost opportunities, is a sad numbering!

What is the true way of numbering our days? The prayer tells us, “So teach us to number our days aright–that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” That is, we are so to live–that we shall get some new wisdom out of each day to carry on with us.

Life’s lessons cannot all be learned from books. The lessons may be set down in books–but it is only in actual living–that we can really learn them.

For example, patience. You may learn all about patience from a sermon, from a teacher, or from a book, or even from the Bible. But that will not make you patient. You can get the patience–only by long practice of the lesson, in life’s experiences.

Or take gentleness. You can read in a few paragraphs what gentleness is, how it lives. But that will not make you gentle.

Take thoughtfulness. You can learn in a short lesson what it is and how beautiful it is. But you will not be thoughtful, the moment you have learned the definition. It will probably take you several years–to get the beautiful lesson learned.

“So teach us to number our days aright–that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Spiritual beauty

Spiritual beauty

(J. R. Miller, “Strength and Beauty“)

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth!” Psalm 96:9

“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.” Psalm 90:17

Paul enjoins that, “whatsoever things are lovely” shall be in the vision of life, into which we aim to fashion our character.

We are to follow in the footsteps of our Master. Jesus Himself was, “Altogether lovely!” Song of Songs 5:16

Humanity was made to be beautiful. God’s ideal for man was spotless loveliness–man was made at first, in God’s image. But sin has left its foul trail everywhere! We see something of its debasement, wherever we go. What ruins sin has wrought!

All of Christ’s work of grace–is towards the restoration of beauty of the Lord in His people.

Spiritual beauty is holiness. Nothing unclean is lovely. Character is Christ-like, only when it is beautiful.

All the precepts of the Bible are towards the fashioning of beauty in every redeemed life. We are to put away . . .
all that is sinful,
all marring,
every blot and blemish,
every unholy desire, feeling and affection,
everything that would defile–
and put on whatsoever is lovely and Christ-like.

The one great work of Christ in Christian lives–is the fashioning of holiness in them. We are to grow away from . . .
our deformities,
our faults,
our infirmities,
our poor dwarfed stunted life
–into spiritual beauty!

The mark set before us is the likeness of Christ, which, at last, we shall attain! “We know that when He appears–we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is! And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself–just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3

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The man who never laughs

(J. R. Miller, “The Duty of Laughter”)

“The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52

“The fruit of the Spirit is joy” Galatians 5:22

The Wise Man says that there is “a time to laugh.” That is, there is a time when laughter is right, when it is a duty–and when it would be wrong not to laugh. Perhaps we have not been accustomed to think of laughter in this way. We regard it as an agreeable exercise–but are not apt to class it among duties, like honesty or kindness.

It would be a sad thing, however, if laughter should be altogether crowded out of life. Think of a world of human beings with no laughter–men and women always wearing grave, serious, solemn faces. Think of the laughter of childhood,departing from the world–how dull and dreary life would be! Nothing on earth is more beautiful, than the merry laugh of childhood.

Laughter has its place in every wholesome, healthy, holy life. The man who never smiles–is morbid! He has lost the joy chords out of his life. He has trained himself to think only of unpleasant things, to look only and always at the dark side. He has accustomed himself so long to sadness–that the muscles of his face have become set in hard, fixed lines–and cannot relax themselves. His thoughts of life are gloomy–and the gloom has entered his soul and darkened his eyes!

Where there is no laughter–all evils nest. Demons do not laugh!

The man who never laughs, must not blame his fellows if they think there is something wrong with his life, something dark within.

If the streams which flow out are only bitter–the fountain cannot be sweet!

The Wise Man says:
“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13
“A cheerful heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace” Romans 15:13

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

God does not deal with us in this sentimental way

God does not deal with us in this ‘sentimental’ way!

(J. R. Miller, “The SILENT Christ“)

“A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to Him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession!’ Jesus did not answer her a word!” Matthew 15:22

We are apt to forget that the aim of God with us, is . . .
not to flood us with tenderness all the time,
not to keep our path always strewn with flowers,
not to continually give us everything we want,
not to save us from all manner of suffering.

No! God’s aim with us, is . . .
to make something of us,
to build up strong and noble character in us,
to mature qualities of grace and beauty in us,
to make us more like Christ!
To do this–He must ofttimes deny us what we ask for, and must seem indifferent to our cries. “Jesus did not answer her a word!

There are ‘sentimental ideas of God’ prevalent, which are dishonoring to Him. There are those who imagine that God’s love means tenderness that cannot cause pain. They think that He cannot look a moment on suffering, without relieving it; that He must instantly hear and answer every cry for the removal of trouble.

Not such a God–is the God of the Bible! When suffering is the best thing for us–He is not too sympathetic to let us suffer–until the work of suffering is accomplished in us. He is not too kind to be silent to our prayers–when it is better that He should be silent for a time, to allow . . .
faith to grow strong,
self-confidence to be swept away, and
the evil in us–to be burned out in the furnace of pain!

There is a danger with all of us–our tenderness lacks strength. We cannot tolerate to see people suffer, and so we hasten to give relief–before the ministry of suffering is accomplished. We think of our mission to others, as being only ‘to make life easier for them’. We are continually lifting away burdens, which it were better to have left resting longer on our friend’s shoulder! We are eager to make life easy for our children–when it were better if it had been left hard.

We must learn that God does not deal with us in this ‘sentimental’ way. He is not too tender to see us suffer–if more suffering is needed to work in us the discipline that will make us like Christ!

Here we have the key of many of the ‘mysteries of Providence’. Life is not easy for us–and God does not intend it to be easy!

Suppose for a moment, that God immediately gave us everything we ask for–and immediately removed every little pain, trouble, difficulty, and hardness that we seek to have removed; what would be the result on us? How selfish it would make us! We would become weak, unable to endure suffering, to bear trial, to carry burdens, or to struggle. We would be only children always–and would never rise into manly strength. God’s over-kindness to us–would pamper in us all the worst elements of our nature, and would make us only poor driveling creatures!

On the other hand, however, God’s wise and firm treatment of us, teaches us the great lessons which make us strong with the strength of Christ Himself.
He teaches us to yield our own will to Him.
He develops in us–patience, faith, love, hope and peace.
He trains us to endure hardness–that we may grow heroic, courageous and strong.

It is well for us to make careful note of this–that in all God’s delays when we pray–His aim is some good in us.

Perhaps we are willful, asking only for our own way–and must learn to say, “May Your will be done.”

Perhaps we are weak, unable to bear pain or to endure adversity or loss–and we must be trained and disciplined into strength.

Perhaps our desires are only for earthly good, not for heavenly blessings–and we must be taught the transitory character of all worldly things, and led to desire things which are eternal.

Perhaps we are impatient–and must be taught to wait for God. We are like children in our eager restlessness–and need to learn self-restraint.

At the least, we may always know that silence is not refusal–that God hears and cares, and that when our faith has learned its lessons–He will answer in blessing!

“The Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:6

“God disciplines us for our good–that we may share in His holiness.” Hebrews 12:10