The Value of Adversity

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The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, is a Christian devotional book first composed in Medieval Latin as De Imitatione Christi (c. 1418–1427). The devotional text is divided into four books of detailed spiritual instructions. The devotional approach of The Imitation of Christ emphasizes the interior life and withdrawal from the mundanities of the world, as opposed to the active imitation of Christ practiced by other friars. The Imitation is perhaps the most widely read Christian devotional work after the Bible, and is regarded as a devotional and religious classic. The book was written anonymously in Latin in the Netherlands c. 1418–1427. Its popularity was immediate, and after the first printed edition in 1471-72, it was printed in 745 editions before 1650. Apart from the Bible, no book had been translated into more languages than the Imitation of Christ at the time.

THE VALUE OF ADVERSITY – THOMAS à KEMPIS

IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory. When to all outward appearances men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men.

When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God, without Whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries and sufferings, he laments and prays. He wearies of living longer and wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ. Then he understands fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on earth.

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Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1996), 19.
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Discipleship – No Limitations

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. – Ecclesiastes 12:13.

“So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'” – Luke 17:10.

Not Just What’s Expected

The mule is a genuinely intelligent animal that has proved its superiority to the horse in durability, memory, and dietary control. Pack mules have been used for years to lug gear for exploratory and recreational expeditions. They will carry seventy-five pounds on each side – but only seventy-five pounds. According to one veteran packer, if you put additional weight on a mule, it will buck the load off, refuse to move, or head for a tree to scrape the load off. These animals have sensitized their inner scales to the ounce and will haul nothing more.

Jesus warned about the mule in each of us: the spirit of mere duty that produces only what is expected and nothing more. He encourages us to go beyond that, to love Him with the same unqualified depths that He loves us. The mule has an excuse – it’s only a mule. What possible excuse could we have who are made in the image of God, redeemed in the likeness of Christ, and possessed even now of the Holy Spirit?


Courtesy of Speaker’s Sourcebook of New Illustrations by Virgil Hurley copyright © 1995 by Word, Incorporated. Used by permission.
*Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Applicable Quotations

Many would save themselves much sorrow and trouble if they would only remember the question—“What does it cost?” – J.C. Ryle

O speak nothing, act nothing, think nothing, but as you are taught of God! – John Wesley

If Jesus’ example is the example for the world to follow, it certainly must be feasible to follow it. But we need to remember this great fact. After we have asked the Spirit to tell us what Jesus would do and have received an answer to it, we are to act regardless of the results to ourselves. – Charles Sheldon

Let the Church awake to her calling to train the feeblest of her members to know that Christ counts upon every redeemed one to live wholly for His work. This alone is true Christianity, is full salvation. – Andrew Murray

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Daily Prayer & Praise 5/27/2022


Prayer for Friday 5-27-2022

Lord our God, our Father in Heaven, we thank You for letting us receive so much that is good in all circumstances on earth. We thank You that we can have joy in life in spite of our shortcomings, mistakes, and worries. You bless us with heavenly gifts, so that rejoicing, we can walk on earth as if in heaven. Keep the gifts of Your Spirit alive in us. Keep alive in us everything that Jesus Christ was, everything He is, and everything He will be on earth for all people. Allow His light to shine forth in us, in His name, in the name of Jesus, we pray.

Amen.

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Adapted from the Daily Written Prayers of Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, 1842–1919. In Public Domain
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The Eternal Name – C.H. Spurgeon

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For Friday May 27, 2022:

THE ETERNAL NAME

Psalm 72:17 (NKJV)
His name shall endure forever.

Do you see yonder thief hanging upon the cross? Behold the fiends at the foot thereof, with open mouths; charming themselves with the sweet thought, that another soul shall give them meat in hell. Behold the death-bird, fluttering his wings over the poor wretch’s head; vengeance passes by and stamps him for her own; deep on his breast is written “a condemned sinner;” on his brow is the clammy sweat, expressed from him by agony and death. Look in his heart: it is filthy with the crust of years of sin; the smoke of lust is hanging within, in black festoons of darkness; his whole heart is hell condensed. Now, look at him. He is dying. One foot seems to be in hell; the other hangs tottering in life—only kept by a nail. There is a power in Jesus’ eye. That thief looks: he whispers, “Lord, remember me.” Turn your eye again there. Do you see that thief? Where is the clammy sweat? It is there. Where is that horrid anguish? Is it not there? Positively there is a smile upon his lips. The fiends of hell where are they? There are none; but a bright seraph is present, with his wings outspread, and his hands ready to snatch that soul, now a precious jewel, and bear it aloft to the palace of the great King. Look within his heart: it is white with purity. Look at his breast: it is not written “condemned,” but “justified.” Look in the book of life: his name is engraved there. Look on Jesus’ heart: there on one of the precious stones he bears that poor thief’s name. Yes, once more, look! Do you see that bright one amid the glorified, clearer than the sun, and fair as the moon? That is the thief! That is the power of Jesus; and that power shall endure for ever.

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C. H. Spurgeon and Terence Peter Crosby, 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (Leominster, UK: Day One Publications, 1998), 154.
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I Believe In Christianity . . .

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5-27 ns I believe

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G.K. Chesterton Quote 5/27/2022

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Sowing Seeds 5/27/2022

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*Pastor’s Note: The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, so we will keep sowing seed for the Glory of the Lord!

Sowing Seeds of Joy for 5-27-2022

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Coffee and a Side of Psalms – Psalm 31:4


PROLOGUE TO PSALMS:
There is one thing that a Child of God can always rely upon with their Heavenly Father; HOPE and ASSURANCE! His plans for the world may appear to be harsh, yet He is always thinking of ONLY the best for those Whom He calls by name! Remember that when you look around at the situations in the world then realize and remember, our Home is NOT of this world!

coffee and a psalm 31_4

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Philemon Verses 10-11

Philemon 1:10-11, I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.

As we have seen in the few verses we have covered already, Paul is relying on Philemon’s established character in the Lord, his love and care for the saints that meet in his home as a fledgling church and his support for those he calls brothers and sisters. Paul now gets to the “meat” or substance of his letter and thus his heartfelt appeal.

In the original language the name Onesimus actually comes last. The verse could best be rendered thus: “I am appealing to you concerning my child whom I became the father of during my imprisonment, Onesimus.” (LEB).

I can just imagine, Philemon, already in a state of mind while thinking of his friend and mentor, Paul and reading Paul’s kindhearted words and then reading of a “son” of his while in chains. Philemon most likely knew that Paul referred to most all of those he had a part in converting to Christ as sons or daughters, so it probably didn’t surprise him much, until the Apostle dropped the name, Onesimus, the slave that ran away!

Can you even begin to imagine the thought process that must have been going on in Philemon’s mind? He must have been completely and totally surprised and disarmed. We all know what it’s like to hear something that we least expect, that takes us by total surprise! Can you imagine his surprise when the name of that rascal, Onesimus was mentioned? The thoughts that must have been immediately going through his mind. Yet right there, the Apostle calls Onesimus his son, whom he had “begotten while in chains.” Paul was relaying to Philemon that somehow Paul had led Onesimus to Christ Jesus.

Somehow, some way, when Onesimus ran away and escaped, he ran into Paul while in Rome. A Greek tradition that was more-or-less adopted by the Romans was that a slave could find sanctuary at an altar. It could even be in the home of a private family and the head of that household would give protection to the slave while trying to convince them to return to their master. If the slave refused, often times, the slave would be auctioned off and the funds received given to the slaves old master. So how fortuitous that through Providence, Onesimus found his way to Paul, who was then in the process of trying to work the issue out with his friend Philemon.

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As so many other examples in the Bible, the Word of God, we see due to the focus of hindsight, that God ALWAYS works things out for the best! (Romans 8:28). In Onesimus’ case and even for Philemon, the circumstance couldn’t be better as we shall explore as we go along. Just to consider the hand of God in this circumstance, Paul was the one who also led Philemon to Christ and now through such great odds, the Apostle also led his friends slave to Christ! There is no such thing as luck or coincidence in a Christian’s life. A disciple of Jesus Christ does not believe in those things when you recognize and realize that our steps truly ARE ordered of the Lord! (Proverbs 16:9; Psalm 37:23).

In one of my favorite commentary’s I found this in regards to this situation:

One of the hidden delights of the Christian life is to see God working in marvelous, miraculous ways, revealing Himself in converging circumstances that cannot be explained by coincidence or chance.[1]

So now, you can begin to understand the Apostle’s train of thought in the first few opening verses. Both Philemon AND Onesimus were converted to Christ through the Apostle’s service! They were now not just master and slave, which still held true in the secular or natural sense, but now they were blood-bought brothers in service to Christ Jesus! I am tickled just writing this as I glance at the verses! What an awesome God we truly serve!

One of the things that I love to do in most of my studies is to take a look at the original words used. Now mind you, I do not spend a lot of time looking up the Hebrew and the Greek for the simple truth is, I’m just not a scholar. I’m more of a student and I do love to learn new things; so when I see a reference to a word or a word or phrase used that intrigues me, I’m like the guy who gets a bit distracted and follows the proverbial rabbit!

Onesimus’ name was one such instance. There’s a lot that can be inferred from someone’s name. I guess it goes back to my own childhood and what I learned about my own name. In this case however, the name Onesimus was at the time of the Apostle Paul a fairly common name for slaves. It’s really not clear if that is the name many were given at birth or if it was more of a “nickname” due to the situation of their lives.

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It’s actually a phenomenon that is pretty common. Even today, many names are derived from occupations or skills though they weren’t necessarily given because of perspective career hopes in parent’s children. However, there actually is a greater than coincidence of people whose names are common in the types of work they do and there are actually grammatical terms used by linguists (those who study words and their origins) to describe that.

For instance, a “euonym,” from the Greek eu meaning ‘good’ and onym ‘name’, literally means a good name. It’s more commonly defined as a name well suited to the person, place or thing named. But furthermore there is also a term named an “aptronym,” which is a name that is aptly suited to its owner, or an “aptonym,” a proper name that aptly describes the occupation or character of the person, especially by coincidence. So it is evident that it is far from a new thing that a person’s name fits his or her position in life. All I can say is, interesting!

However, there was a point in this little language lesson and evidently the very educated, such as Paul was, back in his time, were very familiar with the meanings of people’s names.

The name Onesimus means “useful” or “profitable”; the Greek word for “useful,” euchrēstos, sounds like the Greek word for “Christ,” christos; and the Greek word for “useless,” achrēstos, sounds like the Greek word achristos, meaning “without Christ.” These wordplays advance Paul’s appeal: Since Onesimus is now part of God’s people, Philemon should treat him primarily as his brother in Christ, not just as his slave.[2]

Now I want you to think about this overall situation for a moment. This is what makes studying the Word of God so enjoyable to me and it should to you as well. The supposed “profitable or useful” Onesimus was probably in Philemon’s mind, nothing but a useless scoundrel! Paul probably realized that to a slave owner, it would only be natural for someone to think that, so in his brilliance and his wisdom, the dear Apostle was making a play on Onesimus’ name that would probably get Philemon’s mind on another track! Again, so very evident that the Holy Spirit was at work, not just in the writing of the letter, but what would play out in Philemon’s mind!

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Paul reminds his friend that yes, the “useful” one was not very useful or profitable at all, but now because of his conversion to Christ and all the spiritual changes that accompany that conversion, Onesimus would now live up to his name. Paul expands his thoughts by the statement that “now he’s profitable to you and to me.” Paul is letting Philemon know that it isn’t just Philemon that Onesimus is now useful to, but is also useful to Paul. In other words, he was a much better slave AND person, who was returning than the one who had run away to escape.

This is usually the case even today when considering employer and employee relationships. A Christian worker is more likely to be a much better employee than one who doesn’t have any scruples or disciplines in his life. There are those teachers and commentators who surmise that in the early New Testament times, Christian slaves garnered a higher price for their services than others. It should stand therefore that the same thing holds true today in the work market that a Christian employee should be much more valuable than unbelieving employees.

But here is the intriguing thing; Paul is telling Philemon that in the future, Onesimus would be much more profitable or useful to him, but right now he is useful to Paul. The Apostle adds Onesimus’ usefulness to his own self as well. In essence, Philemon’s friend is telling him that yes, he will be worthwhile to you when he comes back, but he’s already worthwhile to me now and could be in the future.

So what is the Apostle getting at? One thing, he’s already making a commendation concerning Onesimus’ character which in turn should soften the blow upon Onesimus’ return to the household of Philemon. A commendation from the Apostle, though he has made it clear he is writing as a friend and a brother and not an authority figure, would most likely still carry a lot of weight in Philemon’s mind.

So, “useful” was not so useful at first but is now going to be more than useful in the future all because of Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit. I love the wordplay, but more than that, in those simple few words the Apostle is laying out an awesome spiritual fact concerning the changes that take place in the lives of those who accept Christ Jesus as Lord!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17.

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Next post we will begin with Philemon verse 12.

[1] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 2150.
[2] John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Phm 11.
*Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
**Lexham English Bible (LEB) 2012 by Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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The Five Fingers of Prayer

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*Pastor’s Note: This is one of those whimsy little articles that I have had “archived” for a long time. Well, this week, prayer has been exceptionally heavy on my heart and that caused me to remember I had this tucked away. As with so many of these types of things that I have stored away, they come from email circulations and articles that went around some of the early style groups.


  1. Your thumb is nearest to you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C.S. Lewis once said, a “sweet duty.”
  1. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal; this includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.
  1. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God’s guidance.
  1. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger; as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.
  1. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all. Which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, “For he who is least among you all will be great.” – Luke 9:48. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

Author Unknown

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A Faithful Prayer


*Pastor’s Note: When you’ve been involved in online ministry for as long as I have, it’s easy to make friends and acquaintances along the way. Sister Nancy Burr was one of them. Soon after I got started online and I learned how to create websites, I ran across her beautiful poetry. She was one of the very first Christian poets to let me use her poetry. I miss her as she’s at home with the Lord now, but I still have some of her poetry. The following is one of those poems I love. It’s simple, yet to the point. For me, her poems always hit the inspirational mark. I hope and pray you will enjoy it also.

A FAITHFUL PRAYER

Sometimes as I go through life,
Problems come my way.
It makes me feel so far from You,
I am lost and gone astray.

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Then I find You in a prayer,
You tell me that You love me.
I find you in a faithful prayer,
You say You will not leave me.

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You find me in my hiding place,
I can’t escape Your love.
You give me all I’ll ever need,
A gift from up above.

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I know I don’t deserve You,
Your mercy or Your grace.
But still You’re always there for me,
You shine upon my face.

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© Nancy Burr – Surrendering to God – Used with permission.
Sister Nancy is now home in the arms of the Lord.

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Daily Prayer & Praise 5/26/2022


Prayer for Thursday 5-26-2022

Dear Father in Heaven, we thank You for wanting to give us happiness and for holding our earthly life firmly in Your hands. May we have the confidence and the faith that we are in Your hands. Grant us the light of faith. Let this light of faith guide us in all things and help us to wait in patience until the doors open for us to pass through according to Your pleasure and perfect will. So bless us all. Bless our life. May we grow joyful and free of heart through all that Jesus Christ gives. On the foundation He establishes for us may Your divine working, Your fatherly love, lift and support us throughout our lives, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ and for Your glory, we ask these things.

Amen.

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Adapted from the Daily Written Prayers of Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, 1842–1919. In Public Domain
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Too Hard For God? – A.W. Tozer

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For Thursday May 26, 2022:

TOO HARD FOR GOD?

Jeremiah 32:27 (NKJV)
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

What does it mean to us, that God Almighty has all the power there is? It means that since God has the ability always to do anything He wills to do, then nothing is harder or easier with God. “Hard” and “easy” can’t apply to God because God has all the power there is. Hard or easy applies to me. . . .

God, who has all the power there is, can make a sun and a star and a galaxy as easily as He can lift a robin off a nest. God can do anything as easily as He can do anything else.

This truth applies specifically to the area of our unbelief. We hesitate to ask God to do “hard” things because we figure that God can’t do them. But if they are “easy” things, we ask God to do them. If we have a headache we say, “Oh God, heal my headache.” But if we have a heart condition, we don’t ask the Lord about that, because that’s “too hard” for the Lord! What a shame! Nothing is hard for God—nothing whatsoever. Nothing! In all God’s wisdom and power He is able to do anything as easily as He is able to do anything else.

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Tozer on the Almighty God : A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2004).
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Thanks To The Lord!

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5-26 ns thank you God

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G. Campbell Morgan Quote 5/26/2022

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Sowing Seeds 5/26/2022

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*Pastor’s Note: The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, so we will keep sowing seed for the Glory of the Lord!

Sowing Seeds of Hope for 5-26-2022

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Coffee and a Side of Psalms – Psalm 31:3


PROLOGUE TO PSALMS:
There is one thing that a Child of God can always rely upon with their Heavenly Father; HOPE and ASSURANCE! His plans for the world may appear to be harsh, yet He is always thinking of ONLY the best for those Whom He calls by name! Remember that when you look around at the situations in the world then realize and remember, our Home is NOT of this world!

coffee and a psalm 31_3

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Daily Prayer & Praise 5/25/2022


Prayer for Wednesday 5-25-2022

Lord our God, we stand before You and rejoice that we may have fellowship with You through our Lord Jesus Christ. Grant us the light of Your Spirit. Grant our hearts strength for life. Open for us the paths of life, that we may find joy and hope in spite of all the suffering we must go through on earth. Let all humankind be entrusted to Your care for we know You do sit on the throne. Continue to rule over all with Your power, whether they are aware of it or not, and take world history into Your hands so that Your plans will be fulfilled and all people may receive Your mercy. In Christ Jesus, we beseech You and ask these things.

Amen.

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Adapted from the Daily Written Prayers of Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, 1842–1919. In Public Domain
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The God of The Aged – C.H. Spurgeon

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For Wednesday May 25, 2022:

THE GOD OF THE AGED

Isaiah 46:4 (NKJV)
“Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.”

Middle aged man! Listen to what David says, again, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Go on, then, unsheathe your sword once more. “The battle is the Lord’s;” leave your declining years to him, and give your present years to him. Live to him now, and he will never cast you away when you are old. Do not lay up for old age and keep back from the cause of God; but rather trust God for the future. Be “diligent in business;” but take care you do not hurt your spirit, by being too diligent, by being grasping and selfish. Remember you will

“Want but little here below, Nor want that little long.”

And lastly, my dear venerable fathers in the faith, and mothers in Israel, take these words for your joy. Do not let the young people catch you indulging in melancholy, sitting in your chimney corner, grumbling and growling, but go about cheerful and happy, and they will think how blessed it is to be a Christian. If you are surly and fretful, they will think the Lord has forsaken you; but keep a smiling countenance, and they will think the promise is fulfilled. “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Do, I beseech you, my venerable friends, try to be of a happy temperament and cheerful spirit, for a child will run away from a surly old man; but there is not a child in the world who does not love his grandfather if he is cheerful and happy. You can lead us to heaven if you have got heaven’s sunlight on your face.

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C. H. Spurgeon and Terence Peter Crosby, 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (Leominster, UK: Day One Publications, 1998), 152.
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Don’t Create Problems

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5-25 ns solving problems

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