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Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Cross Is Not Made of Soft Feathers! (and other devotionals)


The cross is not made of soft feathers!
(Charles Spurgeon)"Take up the cross--and follow Me." Mark 10:21
You have not the liberty of making of your own cross; although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making. Neither are you permitted to choose your own cross; although self-will would gladly be lord and master. Your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love--and you are cheerfully to accept it. You are to take up the cross as your chosen portion, and not to stand caviling at it. Jesus bids you to submit your shoulder to His easy yoke. Do not . . .
  kick 
at it in petulance, or 
  trample 
on it in vain-glory, or
  fall under it in despair, or 
  run away 
from it in fear.
Take it up like a true follower of Jesus.
Jesus was a cross-bearer; He leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if He carried a cross--what nobler burden would you desire?
The Way of the Cross is the way of safety--do not fear to tread its thorny paths.
Beloved, the cross is not made of soft feathers, or lined with velvet--it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders! But it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colors! It is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows carried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit--you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt!
Remember that the cross will soon be followed by the crown. The thought of the coming weight of glory--will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. May the Lord help you to bow your heart in submission to His divine will--that you may go forth to this day's cross with the holy and submissive spirit which befits a follower of the Crucified One.
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Spoiled children!(J.C. Ryle, "The Duties of Parents")

Train your children to a habit of obedience. No habit, I suspect, has such an influence over our lives as this. Parents, determine to make your children obey you--though it may cost you much trouble--and cost them many tears! Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and disputing, and delaying, and answering back. When you give them a command, let them see plainly that you will have it done.

It ought to be the mark of well-trained children, that they 
cheerfully do whatever their parents command them. Where, indeed, is the honor which the fifth commandment enjoins, if fathers and mothers are not obeyed cheerfullywillingly, and immediately?

Parents, do you wish to see your children happy? Take care, then, that you train them to obey when they are spoken to--to do as they are told.

To my eyes, a parent always yielding--and a child always having its own way--are a most painful sight!Painful, because I feel sure the consequence to that child's character in the end will be self-will, pride, and self-conceit!

Parents, if you love your children, let obedience be a motto and a watchword continually before their eyes!

Learn to say "No" to your children. Show them that you are able to refuse whatever you think is not fit for them. Show them that you are ready to punish disobedience, and that when you speak of punishment, you are not only ready to threaten, but also to perform. Do not merely threaten.Threatened folks, and threatened faults, live long. Punish seldom, but really and earnestly. Frequent and slight punishment is a wretched system indeed.

Beware of letting small faults pass unnoticed under the idea, "it is a little one." There are no little things in training children--all are important. Little weeds need plucking up as much as any. Leave them alone, and they will soon become giants!

Parents, if there is any point which deserves your attention, believe me, it is this one. It is one that will give you trouble, I know. But if you do not take trouble with your children when they are young--they will give you trouble when they are old! Choose which you prefer!

Do not be afraid, above all, that such a plan of training will make your child unhappy. I warn you against this delusion. Depend on it, there is no surer road to unhappiness than always having our own way! To be indulged perpetually is the way to be made selfish--and selfish people and spoiled children, believe me, are seldom happy!
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Beneath the cross of Jesus!

(George Everard, "Beneath the Cross" 1877)

Beneath the cross of Jesus
, I shall best learn to know my sin aright. For in the presence of Him who was crucified for me, I learn how fearful is the character of sin. Sin is . . .
  the knife that slew my best friend;
  the nail that pierced His hand;
  the spear that wounded His side;
  the scourge that bruised Him;
  the thorn that marked His brow.

With this sight before me . . .
  let me hate my sin with deadly hatred;
  let me never cloak or excuse sin, though in the most subtle form;
  let me abhor the very shadow, the very approach of evil;
  let me keep at the utmost distance from that which crucified my Lord.

The more I keep beneath the cross of Jesus, the more shall I grieve over the evil I have done, and grow in humility before God.

Beneath the cross of Jesus, I also see the completeness and the all-sufficiency of my sin's remedy!However great the evil I discover--help and salvation is close at hand. I can never despair, while I gaze on Him who was wounded for my transgressions and who bore my sins in His own body on the tree!
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Mary's portion!

(George Everard, "The Home of Bethany" 1873)

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42

"Only one thing is needed." Not many things, but one. Not the provision for the table, the food that perishes--but the Bread of Life; for "man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

Dear reader, one thing is needful for you . . .
  the wedding garment to cover you, 
  the pearl of great price to enrich you,
  the water of life to refresh you, 
  the balm of Gilead to heal you, 
  the Rock of Ages to shelter you, 
  the Everlasting arms to uphold you, 
  the wing of your Redeemer to cover you.

Yes, "one thing is needed;" in a word, Christ! His love, His presence, His grace, His image, His glory! With this, you are rich and happy through eternal ages!

And this was Mary's portion. This was her rich inheritance. This was the good part which she had chosen, and which would never be taken from her. Her choice was without wavering or hesitation. She could say in truth, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed. I have one desire, one aim, one deep longing--to know You, to love You, to cleave to You more and more."
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Leave It To God
"Roll on Jehovah thy way" (Ps. 37:6).
Whatever it is that presses thee, go tell the Father; put the whole matter over into His hand, and so shalt thou be freed from that dividing, perplexing care that the world is full of. When thou art either to do or suffer anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it, and acquaint Him with it; yes, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet, diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters. Roll thy cares, and thyself with them, as one burden, all on thy God. --R. Leighton
***
Build a little fence of trust
Around today;
Fill the space with loving work
And therein stay.
Look not through the sheltering bars
Upon tomorrow;
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow. --Mary Butts
***

We shall find it impossible to commit our way unto the Lord, unless it be a way that He approves. It is only by faith that a man can commit his way unto the Lord; if there be the slightest doubt in the heart that "our way" is not a good one, faith will refuse to have anything to do with it. This committing of our way must be a continuous, not a single act. However extraordinary and unexpected may seem to be His guidance, however near the precipice He may take you, you are not to snatch the guiding reins out of His hands. Are we willing to have all our ways submitted to God, for Him to pronounce judgment on them? There is nothing a Christian needs to be more scrutinizing about than about his confirmed habits and views. He is too apt to take for granted the Divine approbation of them. Why are some Christians so anxious, so fearful? Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord. They took it to Him, but brought it away with them again. 

~L. B. Cowman~



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