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beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
“Behold, thou art fair, my Beloved.”

Song of Solomon 1:16

From every point our Well-beloved is most fair. Our various experiences are meant by our heavenly Father to furnish fresh standpoints from which we may view the loveliness of Jesus; how amiable are our trials when they carry us aloft where we may gain clearer views of Jesus than ordinary life could afford us! We have seen him from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, and he has shone upon us as the sun in his strength; but we have seen him also “from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards,” and he has lost none of his loveliness. From the languishing of a sick bed, from the borders of the grave, have we turned our eyes to our soul's spouse, and he has never been otherwise than “all fair.”

Many of his saints have looked upon him from the gloom of dungeons, and from the red flames of the stake, yet have they never uttered an ill word of him, but have died extolling his surpassing charms. Oh, noble and pleasant employment to be for ever gazing at our sweet Lord Jesus! Is it not unspeakably delightful to view the Saviour in all his offices, and to perceive him matchless in each?—to shift the kaleidoscope, as it were, and to find fresh combinations of peerless graces? In the manger and in eternity, on the cross and on his throne, in the garden and in his kingdom, among thieves or in the midst of cherubim, he is everywhere “altogether lovely.”

Examine carefully every little act of his life, and every trait of his character, and he is as lovely in the minute as in the majestic. Judge him as you will, you cannot censure; weigh him as you please, and he will not be found wanting. Eternity shall not discover the shadow of a spot in our Beloved, but rather, as ages revolve, his hidden glories shall shine forth with yet more inconceivable splendour, and his unutterable loveliness shall more and more ravish all celestial minds.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. – Acts 9:1-9.

Is there anything or anyone that can really change someone’s life on a permanent basis? Is that possible? I have known many people, and you probably have too, who have made New Year Resolutions to turn over a new leaf and start living right who did not even keep the resolution for a day much less for a week or for the rest of their lives.

I think I can probably include myself in that group along with the other failures. Because of that we are skeptical when hearing someone say that their life has changed, or we hear about someone whose life appears to have changed. We question, doubt, whether it is true and based on our own experience, we have reason to do so.

The amazing thing that we see in the Bible is that people really do change.
Perhaps the most dramatic example is that of the apostle Paul. Saul as he was known then was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there when Jesus in a brilliant light appeared to him in such a powerful way that he was blinded and fell to the ground. Saul did go to Damascus but because of his blindness, he was led there.

Ananias prayed for Saul and after spending a few days with the disciples we see a shocking thing: “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?’ But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” By the time of his first missionary journey Saul had become known as Paul (Acts 13:9). What changed Saul the persecutor into Paul the apostle, evangelist, and missionary? Jesus. Jesus is the One who changed him.

Even with Jesus we have our doubts. We know people who have made public decisions in a church somewhere and the next day went out and committed some terrible crime. One of my former clients did that nearly beating his girlfriend to death. What is the difference in the decision made by that man and the one made by Saul?

The difference is in the heart. It comes down to whether we are serious and in that moment of time truly repent, commit, and mean it when we invite Christ Jesus into our hearts and lives. Jesus is the only One who can truly change a hardened religious persecutor like Saul into an apostle. When Saul realized the truth that he had been wrong and that Jesus was actually God, at that point Saul wanted to change. We have to reach the same point as Saul did and that is that we really want to change.
Then, in our heart of hearts we believe upon Jesus unto salvation (Romans 3:22). That is change that we can really believe.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
“Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money.”

Isaiah 43:24

Worshippers at the temple were wont to bring presents of sweet perfumes to be burned upon the altar of God: but Israel, in the time of her backsliding, became ungenerous, and made but few votive offerings to her Lord: this was an evidence of coldness of heart towards God and his house. Reader, does this never occur with you? Might not the complaint of the text be occasionally, if not frequently, brought against you?

Those who are poor in pocket, if rich in faith, will be accepted none the less because their gifts are small; but, poor reader, do you give in fair proportion to the Lord, or is the widow's mite kept back from the sacred treasury? The rich believer should be thankful for the talent entrusted to him, but should not forget his large responsibility, for where much is given much will be required; but, rich reader, are you mindful of your obligations, and rendering to the Lord according to the benefit received?

Jesus gave his blood for us, what shall we give to him? We are his, and all that we have, for he has purchased us unto himself — can we act as if we were our own? O for more consecration! and to this end, O for more love! Blessed Jesus, how good it is of thee to accept our sweet cane bought with money! nothing is too costly as a tribute to thine unrivalled love, and yet thou dost receive with favour the smallest sincere token of affection! Thou dost receive our poor forget-me-nots and love-tokens as though they were intrinsically precious, though indeed they are but as the bunch of wild flowers which the child brings to its mother.

Never may we grow niggardly towards thee, and from this hour never may we hear thee complain of us again for withholding the gifts of our love. We will give thee the first fruits of our increase, and pay thee tithes of all, and then we will confess “of thine own have we given thee.”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
Forgiveness

A letter written to a man on death row by the Father of the man whom the man on death row had killed:

You are probably surprised that I, of all people, am writing a letter to you, but I ask you to read it in its entirety and consider its request seriously. As the Father of the man whom you took part in murdering, I have something very important to say to you.

I forgive you. With all my heart, I forgive you. I realize it may be hard for you to believe, but I really do. At your trial, when you confessed to your part in the events that cost my Son his life and asked for my forgiveness, I immediately granted you that forgiving love from my heart. I can only hope you believe me and will accept my forgiveness.

But this is not all I have to say to you. I want to make you an offer — I want you to become my adopted child. You see, my Son who died was my only child, and I now want to share my life with you and leave my riches to you. This may not make sense to you or anyone else, but I believe you are worth the offer. I have arranged matters so that if you will receive my offer of forgiveness, not only will you be pardoned for your crime, but you also will be set free from your imprisonment, and your sentence of death will be dismissed. At that point, you will become my adopted child and heir to all my riches.

I realize this is a risky offer for me to make to you — you might be tempted to reject my offer completely — but I make it to you without reservation.

Also, I realize it may seem foolish to make such an offer to one who cost my Son his life, but I now have a great love and an unchangeable forgiveness in my heart for you.

Finally, you may be concerned that once you accept my offer you may do something to cause you to be denied your rights as an heir to my wealth. Nothing could be further from the truth. If I can forgive you for your part in my Son’s death, I can forgive you for anything. I know you never will be perfect, but you do not have to be perfect to receive my offer. Besides, I believe that once you have accepted my offer and begin to experience the riches that will come to you from me, that your primary (though not always) response will be gratitude and loyalty.

Some would call me foolish for my offer to you, but I wish for you to call me your Father.

Sincerely,
The Father of Jesus
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
What The Bible Says About Mercy


The Bible mentions mercy frequently. What are some of the more profound Bible verses about mercy? What Bible verses are your favorites when it talks about mercy?

Mercy Defined
You’ve probably heard mercy as not getting what we truly deserve. In other words, if God was not merciful, we would receive the full measure of His wrath because we’ve all broken God’s law. The only time when God was not merciful was when Jesus was on the cross. That’s when the entire wrath of God was poured out on Him for what should have been poured out on us. Webster defines mercy as compassion or forbearance shown, especially to an offender…showing leniency.

Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt 9:13). Jesus was saying this to the Pharisees because they had scorned Him for eating with tax collectors and sinners, but they completely missed the point. Jesus was a friend of sinners but an enemy to those who were “religious” or self-righteous. He came to save that which was lost and not to those who believed that they were already righteous.

There is more hope for a murderer than one who thinks that they don’t need the forgiveness of God because they’re already “good.” That’s contrary to biblical teaching (Rom 3:10-12, 23). Somehow they thought their works were a sufficient sacrifice to God. They didn’t believe they needed God’s mercy, but how wrong they were. They not only needed His mercy, but they should have focused more on mercy than sacrifice. The Pharisees weren’t merciful to sinners, and later, they showed no mercy to Jesus at Calvary.

Mercy Shown
Jesus spoke about mercy in the Beatitudes, saying, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt 5:7), so what does it mean to be merciful to others? Jude wrote that we are to “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 1:22-23), and Jude appears to be writing this in the context of persevering in the faith because he contrasts the gospel presentation of mercy with one of fear. If one has not trusted in Christ, then God is angry at the sinner every day (Psalm 7:11).

Even now His wrath is being stored up against that Day (Rom 2:5-6), but it is God’s wrath that makes God’s mercy relevant. Even in the Old Testament, God said that “the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him” (2 Chron 30:9). Return in this context means to repent and turn away from their sin (idolatry) and turn to God and place their trust in Him. This is why we’re told to “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36), but what does that look like? It means to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28).

If we really understood just how merciful God has been to us, then I believe we would be more merciful to those who hate us and persecute us. Why? Because God first loved us; even when we were still sinners; Jesus died for us while we were still His enemies (Rom 5:6-10). What a powerful display of the mercy of God. He didn’t wait for us to believe in Him and then die for us. No, He died for ungodly, wicked enemies before they were even born (us!).

Mercy Received
The author of Hebrews writes, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). The psalmist adds, “For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy to all them that call on you” (Psalm 86:5). If you were a convicted criminal and headed to jail, you probably wouldn’t receive any mercy from the judge, but God’s mercy is called “plenteous” and available to “all that call on” upon Him.

He is “good, and ready to forgive,” which is what mercy is all about. Receiving God’s mercy means that someday we can enter the presence of God because we now have the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21). When Moses sought to see the glory of God,“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” (Ex 34:6-7a).

Forms of Mercy
Discipline might not seem like a form of mercy but Nehemiah wrote about the time in which Judah had fallen into idolatry and was then taken into captivity. Reflecting on that, he wrote, “But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies” (Neh 9:28).

God is still delivering people from their bondage, but it’s the bondage that sin has on them and the captivity that it brings (Rom 6:6), so He is still hearing their cries and having mercy upon all who would call upon Him. Trials often bring us to our knees, and as a loving father disciplines his own children, so God chastens every child of His (Heb 12:6). God’s discipline is actually part of His mercy because if He never disciplined us it would mean that He really didn’t care about us. Parents discipline their children so they won’t hurt themselves, and surely that’s done in love, so David had it right in writing, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).

Conclusion
One man told the Christian sitting next to him that he didn’t need God’s forgiveness because he was no longer a sinner. If that man felt that way, wouldn’t his view of God’s mercy be skewed? On the other hand, if we knew that our sins offended a holy God, and that this man who claimed he wasn’t a sinner, but probably sinned before his feet hit the floor this morning (like all of us), saw no need to confess. He thought, “If I’m not a sinner, what do I have to confess,” so that Christian asked him if he was married.

The man said yes, so he asked the “sinless” man, “What if you hurt your wife in some way? Would you feel it’s unnecessary to confess it and apologize for it? Since you’re already married and have a relationship with your wife, does this mean you don’t have to apologize anymore?” The Apostle John wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8), and “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10), so if we say we’re no longer sinners, then one of us is lying, and it isn’t God.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.”

Philippians 1:27

The word “conversation” does not merely mean our talk and converse with one another, but the whole course of our life and behaviour in the world. The Greek word signifies the actions and the privileges of citizenship: and thus we are commanded to let our actions, as citizens of the New Jerusalem, be such as becometh the gospel of Christ. What sort of conversation is this?

In the first place, the gospel is very simple. So Christians should be simple and plain in their habits. There should be about our manner, our speech, our dress, our whole behaviour, that simplicity which is the very soul of beauty. The gospel is pre-eminently true, it is gold without dross; and the Christian's life will be lustreless and valueless without the jewel of truth. The gospel is a very fearless gospel, it boldly proclaims the truth, whether men like it or not: we must be equally faithful and unflinching.

But the gospel is also very gentle. Mark this spirit in its Founder: “a bruised reed he will not break.” Some professors are sharper than a thorn-hedge; such men are not like Jesus. Let us seek to win others by the gentleness of our words and acts. The gospel is very loving. It is the message of the God of love to a lost and fallen race. Christ's last command to his disciples was, “Love one another.”

O for more real, hearty union and love to all the saints; for more tender compassion towards the souls of the worst and vilest of men! We must not forget that the gospel of Christ is holy. It never excuses sin: it pardons it, but only through an atonement. If our life is to resemble the gospel, we must shun, not merely the grosser vices, but everything that would hinder our perfect conformity to Christ. For his sake, for our own sakes, and for the sakes of others, we must strive day by day to let our conversation be more in accordance with his gospel.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
All the Lonely People: What’s Inside the Heart of a Mass Killer


The news alerts flashed across the screens. Another school shooting by a sulking, isolated young man.

Every time this happens, we look for a common thread. Video games. Political affiliation. Guns. Anti-depressant drugs. Some factors fit the pattern. Others don’t.

People have had easy access to guns since the early days of this nation, so you can’t blame that. Video games numb young men to the “killing sprees,” and yet millions play and never would think about pulling a gun. The killers come from the far-left, the far-right and all points in between. Atheists, Christians, and Muslims are all equal opportunity killers.

And so we are still left wondering.

Have we considered the impact of Loneliness, especially when evil enters into the picture.

These lone wolves, inspired by little else than movies, or news stories or video games, never tell a soul of their murderous intents. There is no one to confide in, no one to trust, no one who can separate out the crazy from the normal.

“Is there nothing else out there?”
Amazingly, in this world of endless entertainment, active lives and bustling streets, men and women are still empty and alone. I put the cause directly in lap of modernism, the god of this age. Modernism teaches us that the material world is the end of all things. This ideal maintains that the scientific method, the world that is measured and observed and touched, is all that ever was and that there will ever be.

Is this all? Is there really nothing else out there?

From this seed has sprouted the weed of thought that technology can solve all our ills. If technology is indeed our king, then humankind is its servant. As on que, secular society does all it can to silence the supernatural. You don’t have to answer to a higher authority.

This boy felt that there was nothing else in life.

Loneliness robs our passion
Just look down your street. If it’s like mine, we have built fences around our castles, avoiding any neighborly contact with the push of a garage door opener. We enter these castles eating quick heat dinners and hovering over computer screens with no true connection to our fellow man.

The only substitute is an eerie quiet as we are alone with our empty heartbeats. Left with nothing but machines and computers and inventions, we are isolated and empty creatures. While evenings were once filled with visiting family and friends, they are now filled with parents and their children tapping out directions in front of computer screens, exchanging emails and chatting with strangers.

Thomas Wolfe said that “loneliness is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man.” It surrounds our thoughts. Loneliness robs our passion. It strangles our hearts


It’s not about poverty
Most of these killers from middle- to upper-middle income homes. They aren’t killing because they are poor.

While money buys automobiles, homes, and clothes, it ultimately buys isolation. If we were without this wealth, we would once again learn interdependence on each other. We would learn the meaning of borrowing a cup of sugar, of helping a neighbor out of a predicament, of community.

Materialism is such a false lover. It leaves us empty and cold. Still, we charge and we consume. And in the end, we swallow the bitter pill of rejection. Our toys stand lifeless, unable to meet our deepest needs.

Loneliness transcends all classes of people. I’ve lived in one of the most affluent communities in the nation. Parties. Purchases. Plans. These people substituted busyness for importance. And at night, like the rest of us, they still look in the mirror and the hollowness mocks them.

Reaching out to fill the holes in our souls, we find nothing. So we doubt our self worth, pushing ourselves away from others and burrowing in a world that no one can understand.

Where do they all belong?
Combating loneliness cannot be overcome with companionship; otherwise a dog would fit the bill. Walking down a busy city street can be among the loneliest activities if you don’t know anyone.

We fill the void with casual relationships. We run from pleasure to pleasure, looking for ‘soul mates’ and acquaintances. Rarely do we find a true friend that we can cry with or share our deep needs. Those that do allow a sliver of light quickly shut the door when we ‘get personal.’

Our lack of intimacy causes us to try to fill the void with work and pursuits. We work long hours for recognition that never comes. We drop in our beds exhausted — and lonely.

The Beatles sang the song “Eleanor Rigby” a generation ago. She was a simple woman who walked the streets in complete isolation, a mere extra in the movie of life. 52 years later “Eleanor” is more than a simple analogy, she has morphed into a picture of modern society. The song was insightful into human nature, yet provided no solutions.

“Where do they all belong?”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
“Afterward.”

Hebrews 12:11

How happy are tried Christians, afterwards. No calm more deep than that which succeeds a storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain? Victorious banquets are for well-exercised soldiers. After killing the lion we eat the honey; after climbing the Hill Difficulty, we sit down in the arbour to rest; after traversing the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting with Apollyon, the shining one appears, with the healing branch from the tree of life.

Our sorrows, like the passing keels of the vessels upon the sea, leave a silver line of holy light behind them “afterwards.” It is peace, sweet, deep peace, which follows the horrible turmoil which once reigned in our tormented, guilty souls. See, then, the happy estate of a Christian! He has his best things last, and he therefore in this world receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are “afterward” good things, harsh ploughings yielding joyful harvests. Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and becomes full by being emptied; if, then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what shall be the full vintage of joy “afterwards” in heaven?

If his dark nights are as bright as the world's days, what shall his days be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be? If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven! If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol him before the eternal throne! If evil be good to him now, what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then? Oh, blessed “afterward!” Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown which cometh afterwards? But herein is work for patience, for the rest is not for to-day, nor the triumph for the present, but “afterward.” Wait, O soul, and let patience have her perfect work.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
Heaven's grocery store


I was walking down life’s highway a long time ago.
One day I saw a sign that read, “Heaven’s Grocery Store”.
As I got a little closer the door came open wide,
and when I came to myself I was standing inside.
I saw a host of Angels, they were standing everywhere.
One handed me a blanket and said, “My Child shop with care”.
Everything a Christian needs is in that grocery store,
and all you can’t carry, come back the next day for more.

First, I got some Patience, Love was in the same row.
Further down was Understanding, needed everywhere you go.
I got a box or two of Wisdom, a bag or two of Faith,
I just couldn’t miss the Holy Ghost, it was all over the place.
I stopped to get some Strength and Courage to help me run this race,
but then my blanket was getting full, and I remembered I needed Grace.

I didn’t forget Salvation, which like the others was free,
so I tried to get enough of that to save both you and me.
Then I started to the counter to pay my grocery bill,
for I thought I had everything to do my master’s will.

As I went up the aisle, I saw Prayer and had to put it in,
for I knew when I stepped outside, I would run right into sin.
Peace and Joy were plentiful, they were on the last shelf.
Song and Praises were hanging near, so I just helped myself.

Then I said to the Angel, “How much do I owe”?
The Angel smiled and said, “Just take them everywhere you go.”
Again, I politely asked “How much do I really owe?”
The Angel smiled again and said, “My Child, Jesus Paid Your Bill A Long Time Ago.”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
“Continue in the faith.”

Acts 14:22

Perseverance is the badge of true saints. The Christian life is not a beginning only in the ways of God, but also a continuance in the same as long as life lasts. It is with a Christian as it was with the great Napoleon: he said, “Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must maintain me.” So, under God, dear brother in the Lord, conquest has made you what you are, and conquest must sustain you. Your motto must be, “Excelsior.” He only is a true conqueror, and shall be crowned at the last, who continueth till war's trumpet is blown no more.

Perseverance is, therefore, the target of all our spiritual enemies. The world does not object to your being a Christian for a time, if she can but tempt you to cease your pilgrimage, and settle down to buy and sell with her in Vanity Fair. The flesh will seek to ensnare you, and to prevent your pressing on to glory. “It is weary work being a pilgrim; come, give it up. Am I always to be mortified? Am I never to be indulged? Give me at least a furlough from this constant warfare.”

Satan will make many a fierce attack on your perseverance; it will be the mark for all his arrows. He will strive to hinder you in service: he will insinuate that you are doing no good; and that you want rest. He will endeavour to make you weary of suffering, he will whisper, “Curse God, and die.” Or he will attack your steadfastness: “What is the good of being so zealous? Be quiet like the rest; sleep as do others, and let your lamp go out as the other virgins do.” Or he will assail your doctrinal sentiments: “Why do you hold to these denominational creeds? Sensible men are getting more liberal; they are removing the old landmarks: fall in with the times.” Wear your shield, Christian, therefore, close upon your armour, and cry mightily unto God, that by his Spirit you may endure to the end.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
Leave your hurts in the sand

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:
TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.

The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?”

The other friend replied “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”

LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND AND TO CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them.

Do not value the things you have in your life. But value who you have in your life!
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.”

Lamentations 3:21

Memory is frequently the bond slave of despondency. Despairing minds call to remembrance every dark foreboding in the past, and dilate upon every gloomy feature in the present; thus memory, clothed in sackcloth, presents to the mind a cup of mingled gall and wormwood. There is, however, no necessity for this. Wisdom can readily transform memory into an angel of comfort. That same recollection which in its left hand brings so many gloomy omens, may be trained to bear in its right a wealth of hopeful signs. She need not wear a crown of iron, she may encircle her brow with a fillet of gold, all spangled with stars.

Thus it was in Jeremiah's experience: in the previous verse memory had brought him to deep humiliation of soul: “My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me;” and now this same memory restored him to life and comfort. “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” Like a two-edged sword, his memory first killed his pride with one edge, and then slew his despair with the other. As a general principle, if we would exercise our memories more wisely, we might, in our very darkest distress, strike a match which would instantaneously kindle the lamp of comfort.

There is no need for God to create a new thing upon the earth in order to restore believers to joy; if they would prayerfully rake the ashes of the past, they would find light for the present; and if they would turn to the book of truth and the throne of grace, their candle would soon shine as aforetime. Be it ours to remember the loving kindness of the Lord, and to rehearse his deeds of grace. Let us open the volume of recollection which is so richly illuminated with memorials of mercy, and we shall soon be happy. Thus memory may be, as Coleridge calls it, “the bosom-spring of joy,” and when the Divine Comforter bends it to his service, it may be chief among earthly comforters.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
The fence


There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence.

The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
“Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho.”

Joshua 6:26

Since he was cursed who rebuilt Jericho, much more the man who labours to restore Popery among us. In our fathers’ days the gigantic walls of Popery fell by the power of their faith, the perseverance of their efforts, and the blast of their gospel trumpets; and now there are some who would rebuild that accursed system upon its old foundation. O Lord, be pleased to thwart their unrighteous endeavours, and pull down every stone which they build. It should be a serious business with us to be thoroughly purged of every error which may have a tendency to foster the spirit of Popery, and when we have made a clean sweep at home we should seek in every way to oppose its all too rapid spread abroad in the church and in the world.

This last can be done in secret by fervent prayer, and in public by decided testimony. We must warn with judicious boldness those who are inclined towards the errors of Rome; we must instruct the young in gospel truth, and tell them of the black doings of Popery in the olden times. We must aid in spreading the light more thoroughly through the land, for priests, like owls, hate daylight. Are we doing all we can for Jesus and the gospel? If not, our negligence plays into the hands of the priestcraft.

What are we doing to spread the Bible, which is the Pope's bane and poison? Are we casting abroad good, sound gospel writings? Luther once said, “The devil hates goose quills” and, doubtless, he has good reason, for ready writers, by the Holy Spirit's blessing, have done his kingdom much damage. If the thousands who will read this short word this night will do all they can to hinder the rebuilding of this accursed Jericho, the Lord's glory shall speed among the sons of men. Reader, what can you do? What will you do?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
Paid in full

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.

As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.

Curious, and somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angry, he rose his voice to his father and said “with all your money, you give me a Bible?” and stormed out of the house.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father’s house, a sudden feeling of sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still gift-wrapped Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse, Matt.7:11, “And if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,how much more shall your Heavenly Father which is in Heaven, give to those who ask Him?”

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL.

How many times do we miss God’s blessings because we can’t see past our own desires?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
“That henceforth we should not serve sin.”

Romans 6:6

Christian, what hast thou to do with sin? Hath it not cost thee enough already? Burnt child, wilt thou play with the fire? What! when thou hast already been between the jaws of the lion, wilt thou step a second time into his den? Hast thou not had enough of the old serpent? Did he not poison all thy veins once, and wilt thou play upon the hole of the asp, and put thy hand upon the cockatrice's den a second time? Oh, be not so mad! so foolish! Did sin ever yield thee real pleasure? Didst thou find solid satisfaction in it? If so, go back to thine old drudgery, and wear the chain again, if it delight thee.

But inasmuch as sin did never give thee what it promised to bestow, but deluded thee with lies, be not a second time snared by the old fowler— be free, and let the remembrance of thy ancient bondage forbid thee to enter the net again! It is contrary to the designs of eternal love, which all have an eye to thy purity and holiness; therefore run not counter to the purposes of thy Lord. Another thought should restrain thee from sin. Christians can never sin cheaply; they pay a heavy price for iniquity. Transgression destroys peace of mind, obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer, brings darkness over the soul; therefore be not the serf and bondman of sin.

There is yet a higher argument: each time you “serve sin” you have “Crucified the Lord afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Can you bear that thought? Oh! if you have fallen into any special sin during this day, it may be my Master has sent this admonition this evening, to bring you back before you have backslidden very far. Turn thee to Jesus anew; he has not forgotten his love to thee; his grace is still the same. With weeping and repentance, come thou to his footstool, and thou shalt be once more received into his heart; thou shalt be set upon a rock again, and thy goings shall be established.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
The file room


In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings.

As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “People I Have Liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed.”

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told”, “Comfort I Have Given”, “Jokes I Have Laughed At”. Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.” Other I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger”, “Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents”. I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards?

But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Have Listened To”, I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented. When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts”, I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only and inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: “No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards.

But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot.

Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self- pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With”. The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. “No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written in His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.” I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
Teach me thy ways...

Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes;
and I shall keep it unto the end.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law;
yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Make me to go in the path of thy commandments;
for therein do I delight.

Incline my heart unto thy testimonies,
and not to covetousness.

Psalm 119:33-36 KJV

__________________

I will give them a heart to know me,
that I am the LORD.

They will be my people,
and I will be their God,
for they will return to me
with all their heart.

Jeremiah 24:7 NIV

__________________

Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God.

Jeremiah 31:18b NIV

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
Experience grace


I left work early so I could have some uninterrupted study time right before the final in my Youth Issues class. When I got to class, everybody was doing their last minute studying. The teacher came in and said he would review with us for just a little bit before the test. We went through the review, most of it right on the study guide, but there were some things he was reviewing that I had never heard of. When questioned about it, he said that they were in the book and we were responsible for everything in the book. We couldn’t really argue with that.

Finally it was time to take the test.

“Leave them face down on the desk until everyone has one and I’ll tell you to start,” our professor instructed.

When we turned them over, every answer on the test was filled in! The bottom of the last page said the following:

“This is the end of the Final Exam. All the answers on your test are correct. You will receive an ‘A’ on the final exam. The reason you passed the test is because the creator of the test took it for you. All the work you did in preparation for this test did not help you get the A. You have just experienced…grAce.”

He then went around the room and asked each student individually, “What is your grade? Do you deserve the grade you are receiving? How much did all your studying for this exam help you achieve your final grade?”

Now I am not a crier by any stretch of the imagination, but I had to fight back tears when answering those questions and thinking about how the Creator has passed the test for me.

Discussion afterward went like this: “I have tried to teach you all semester that you are a recipient of grace. I’ve tried to communicate to you that you need to demonstrate this gift as you work with young people.

Don’t hammer them; they are not the enemy. Help them, for they will carry on your ministry if it is full of GRACE!”

Talking about how some of us had probably studied hours and some just a few minutes, but had all received the same grade, he pointed to a story Jesus told in Matthew 20. The owner of a vineyard hired people to work in his field and agreed to pay them a certain amount. Several different times during the day, he hired more workers. When it was time to pay them, they all received the same amount. When the ones who had been hired first thing in the morning began complaining, the boss said, “Should you be angry because I am kind?” (Matthew 20:15).

The teacher said he had never done this kind of final before and probably would never do it again, but because of the content of many of our class discussions, he felt like we needed to experience grace.

Have you thanked your Creator today because of the grace you have experienced?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Old Timer
“He will make her wilderness like Eden.”

Isaiah 51:3

Methinks, I see in vision a howling wilderness, a great and terrible desert, like to the Sahara. I perceive nothing in it to relieve the eye, all around I am wearied with a vision of hot and arid sand, strewn with ten thousand bleaching skeletons of wretched men who have expired in anguish, having lost their way in the pitiless waste. What an appalling sight! How horrible! a sea of sand without a bound, and without an oasis, a cheerless graveyard for a race forlorn!

But behold and wonder! Upon a sudden, upspringing from the scorching sand I see a plant of renown; and as it grows it buds, the bud expands—it is a rose, and at its side a lily bows its modest head; and, miracle of miracles! as the fragrance of those flowers is diffused the wilderness is transformed into a fruitful field, and all around it blossoms exceedingly, the glory of Lebanon is given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. Call it not Sahara, call it Paradise. Speak not of it any longer as the valley of deathshade, for where the skeletons lay bleaching in the sun, behold a resurrection is proclaimed, and up spring the dead, a mighty army, full of life immortal.

Jesus is that plant of renown, and his presence makes all things new. Nor is the wonder less in each individual's salvation. Yonder I behold you, dear reader, cast out, an infant, unswathed, unwashed, defiled with your own blood, left to be food for beasts of prey. But lo, a jewel has been thrown into your bosom by a divine hand, and for its sake you have been pitied and tended by divine providence, you are washed and cleansed from your defilement, you are adopted into heaven's family, the fair seal of love is upon your forehead, and the ring of faithfulness is on your hand—you are now a prince unto God, though once an orphan, cast away. O prize exceedingly the matchless power and grace which changes deserts into gardens, and makes the barren heart to sing for joy.
 
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