Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Christian's ambition!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"So we make it our ambition to please Him" 2 Corinthians 5:9 

"It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known" Romans 15:20 

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands" 1 Thessalonians 4:11 

Three times over in his Epistles, Paul speaks of the Christian's ambition. I may learn much from every one of his three messages.

What should be the ambition of my personal life? It should not be to be merely pardoned, nor simply permitted to escape from eternal wrath. "We make it our ambition," the apostle says, "to please Him."

What should be the ambition of my church life? It should be to further the prosperity and to enlarge the boundaries of my Lord's kingdom on earth. It should be to proclaim His Evangel, and to extend His realm, and to win some new captives and subjects for Him. "It has always been my ambition," the apostle says again, "to preach the gospel where Christ was not known."

And what should be the ambition of my social life? It should be, in my ordinary duties, in my simplest and lowliest occupations, to exhibit Christlikeness and my heavenly citizenship. If I cannot be holy at my daily work, it is scarcely worth while taking trouble to be holy at other times. "Make it your ambition," says the apostle to me once more, "to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands."

These are the apostolic ambitions. Lord, let them be mine. Towards such goals, to gain such prizes--I would lay aside every weight, and run the race with perseverance!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The thief!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise!" 
   Luke 23:42-43 

"Twas a thief," Robert Browning writes, "who said the last kind word to Christ."

In the morning the thief was OUT of Christ:
  far from God and far from righteousness,
  the helpless captive of sin,
  the child of despair and death.

At noon the thief was IN Christ:
  remembered graciously by the Savior of the lost,
  redeemed with an everlasting redemption,
  endowed with the new heart,
  and freely and perfectly justified.

In the evening the thief was WITH Christ:
  gazing on the glories of paradise,
  safe at home with his good Shepherd and adorable Redeemer.

What a crowded and memorable day this was in his history! So much was pressed into these few hours. Such a glorious and unprecedented transition they brought,from the cruel cross--to Heaven's glory!
OUT of Christ, 
then IN Christ, 
then WITH Christ!

then grace, 
then glory!

Hopelessly lost in the far country, 
then safe under the Savior's wings, 
then beside the Lord on His glorious throne!

Are these the three stages in my spiritual biography? 

I know the first only too well. 
Am I growing more and more familiar with the second? 
Is it my joy to look forward to the third? 

"I ask not the favor given to Paul," Copernicus said, "I seek not the grace bestowed upon Peter--but I beg the mercy granted to the thief on the cross!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Two gates, two ways, two ends!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Enter by the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction--and there are many who go in by it.
Because narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way which leads to life--and there are few who find it!" Matthew 7:13-14

There are only two GATES:
One of them wide. Its name is Self . . .
  my own desires,
  my own proud thoughts,
  my own righteousness,
  my own beloved and darling sins,
  my own plans and pleasures.

The other gate is narrow. Its name is Christ--Christ sought with repentance and godly sorrow--Christ followed at any hazard. It is the gate of the crucifixion of Self!

There are only two WAYS:
One of them is broad, easy, pleasant, comfortable, pleasing to the flesh, thronged with multitudes--a primrose path, but always tending downward, and bringing disastrous consequences.

The other way is difficult and narrow, as it were through a gorge between craggy cliffs which nearly meet, haunted by dangers and enemies, chosen by comparativelyfew. The Christian's toilsome pilgrimage and dangerous journey--ah, how the road climbs up and up!

There are only two ENDS:
One of them is destruction--
   dark, hopeless, irretrievable,
   the death of peace,
   the death of hope,
   the death of every good impulse,
   the death of the soul!

The other end is life--
   life at its fullest, sublimest, sweetest,
   life without sin and without sorrow,
   life in the land of life and glory,
   life in the presence of Christ to all eternity!

Consciously, deliberately, unequivocally, may I seek . . .
  the narrow gate,
  the difficult way,
  the end which is everlasting life!
   ~  ~  ~  ~  ~