Proverbs & Short Pieces


 A second series of short, pithy expressions of truth.

"He that is wise will hear, and will increase learning" (Prov. 1: 5)

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101

Persecution is coming—that seems certain; what is not certain is whether we are ready for it.

Not everyone can or should preach, but we can all shine our light before men (see Matt. 5: 16).

Anyone can read a newspaper. Only the Christian sees God’s hand behind the reports.

The Christian is an upside–down tree: fruits on earth, roots in heaven.

Men worry about the future; God also requires the past.

Unbelief sees obstacles. Faith removes them (see Matt. 17: 20).

We must look up to heaven for guidance and encouragement; we need to look down from heaven, as it were, in order to get a proper perspective on our situation here.

We must look up to heaven for guidance and encouragement; we need to look down from heaven, as it were, in order to get a proper perspective on our situation here.

Get into the Scriptures and the Scriptures will get into you.

102

True Christianity is living down here in relation to the Man up there.

Worldly religion embraces everything and condemns nothing—except wholeheartedness for Christ.

The Bible is either absolute or obsolete.

At “the time of the end … knowledge shall be increased” (Dan. 12: 4), but “the god of this world has blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving” (2 Cor. 4: 4).

We have a natural tendency to be obsessed with gift. It takes something unnatural to be obsessed with Christ.

The fashions of Christendom change as often as those in the world. The Bible is unchanging.

The Christian ought to have but one ambition: to be more like Christ every day. 

When there is something in the Bible that worldly Christians don’t like they call it legalism.

103

If your pathway is smooth it is also likely to be slippery.

Atheism is a religion. It has a god (Darwin), it has a belief system (evolution) through which everything must be interpreted, and it has evangelists (Dawkins etc.) to proclaim its message.

The world has many problems, but men will not go to the Man with the answers.

Being “[the] most miserable of all men” (1 Cor. 15: 19) is playing Christianity in this world, without hope in the next; Being “sober in all things” (2 Tim. 4: 5) is taking account of things here as God sees them, while having real hope in another world.

Levitical service is the portion of every Christian: all ought to be occupied with carrying what is of Christ through this world.

You may be able to train a pastor to be a better pastor, but you cannot train to be a pastor.

Appeal to the head and you may win the argument. Appeal to the heart and head, and you may win a soul.

Follow the Bible and you may be seen as out of date—but it ought never to mean that you are out of touch.

104

First confess your sins to God; second, confess your Saviour to men.

The Devil is a master-copier – and we are often the unwitting dupes of his imitations.

If my Lord has prepared me a place there (see John 14: 2, 3), how can I ever think of seeking a place here?

Christ in all the Scriptures (see Luke 24: 27), but not Christianity in all the Scriptures!

Paul’s Christianity involved overabounding in joy under affliction (see 2 Cor. 7: 4). In all honesty, what do we know of this?

How lightly we think of error is but another way of saying how lightly we value truth.

Boasting of the past is evidence of weakness in the present.

The saints may fail in zeal and earnestness, the Enemy will not.

105

In the garden, the Devil implied that God was holding something back from man (see Gen. 3: 5). Romans 8: 32 is the divine answer to this lie: “He who, yea, has not spared his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him grant us all things?”

You are a reflection of the company you keep. If you are not much like Christ then you have not been much in His company. 

It’s a poor thing not to be evangelical—and it is a poor thing to be only evangelical.

We must have right relations with the Lord before we can have right relations with one another.

“God is light” (1 John 1: 5)—and so we are to “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5: 8). “God is love” (1 John 4: 16)—and so we are to “walk in love” (Eph. 5: 2).

Money is a universal provider for everything but happiness, and a universal passport to everywhere but heaven.

He took my place so that I might have a place with Him.

Every Christian is in full–time service: “Whatsoever ye do, labour at it heartily, as [doing it] to the Lord, and not to men” (Col. 3: 23).

106

Ezekiel in Chebar, Daniel in Babylon, Paul at Lystra, and John in Patmos—how near these men were to God, despite the times of persecution and scattering in which they lived!

The shipwreck in Acts 27 had its roots in not listening to Paul (see vs 11, 21)—and yet how often we hear it said “That’s only Paul”?!

‘Easy come and easy go’ reception makes the Assembly a hotel and not the house of God.

That history repeats itself is no less true in ecclesiastical circles than it is in the world.

Looking for the Lord’s coming is as much a question of the heart as it is of the head.

Anyone can read a sermon; only those who have been with God can deliver a message from heaven.

Read the Scriptures, not as a duty, but because you cannot do without them.

A shallow ministry will never produce persons able to swim in deep water or rough seas.

107

We help other souls just so far as we put them in contact with Christ.

There is no such thing as enjoying the heavenly portion of the Church without conflict with the Enemy.

Some things can be measured; God’s grace is beyond measure.

Ignorance can be addressed and opposition can be dealt with, but indifference to the truth is the most difficult of all situations to meet. 

We need to live in hope—not as if there were any question about it, but to live out now the bright prospect we have before us.

Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in God (see 1 Sam. 23: 16). Whatever else may be said of him, that was an admirable service, and one, sadly, we see little of. 

If we are drifting, we are in danger of shipwreck for there is no intelligent guidance of the vessel. 

The more I feed the more I want—such is the effect of reading God’s Word.

108

Abraham had power with God in relation to men; Lot had no power with men in relation to God.

God not only counts our actions but weighs them (see 1 Sam. 2: 3)— He observes quality as well as quantity.

In all ages, the people love to move with the tide. If the tide is flowing in the right direction (as in Josiah’s revival) many will go with it—outwardly (see Jer. 3: 10). If, however, the tide is flowing in the wrong direction, then the mass will go with it eagerly.

“Come with me, and see my zeal for Jehovah” (2 Kings 10: 16)—a true servant of the Lord does not speak in this way.

Faith, love and hope (see 1 Cor. 13: 13)—how these things must shine in a world of unbelief, hatred and hopelessness.

Prayer and Bible–reading need to be in balance—in the one I speak to God, in the other He speaks to me.

Many are prepared to serve. Fewer are prepared to allow God to prepare them for service.

Human dignitaries are addressed using specific reverential terms— ‘Your Majesty’, ‘Your Honour’ and so on. Innovation in this area inevitably implies a lack of respect. In a similar way God ought to be addressed in the terms He has set out in Scripture.

109

When all you have is the Lord, then you have all.

“Better is as meal of herbs where love is, than a fatted ox and hatred therewith” (Prov. 15: 17).

Opening the floodgate to the world by a crack is easily done; shutting it is quite another matter.

Clubs and societies write their own constitutions; the Assembly’s is already written.

The more I look into them, the greater and more wonderful my blessings are. This is indeed ‘Glad Tidings’!

However many books men write, they all shrivel into irrelevance before the one book that God has written. The Bible stands alone.

The simplest believer can appeal to Scripture. Any other ‘authority’, living or written, is really only a form of popery.

What you spend your time on and what you devote your energy to shows you where your heart is.

110

It is to Paul’s kinsmen “according to flesh” to whom pertain “the promises” (Rom. 9: 3, 4, my emphasis). This nullifies the prevalent idea that the Church has inherited Israel’s promises.

The faults of some brethren are maximised in the telling, while others are minimised. How does this honour the Lord we profess to serve? 

Christ has come out of heaven; He has come out of the grave; He will yet come out of Zion (Rom. 11: 26). 

‘I once was lost’—awful condition. ‘But now am found’—a blessing that cannot be put into words. 

There is a difference between being governed by Scripture and being governed by a tradition with which Scripture agrees. The authority of the first is Scripture, the authority of the second is tradition. 

I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

 Sound doctrine must go hand in hand with sound living.

111

If God has called you to it, then you can live by faith in the office or the factory just as much as on the mission–field or in the pulpit.

The land was the same. Unbelief saw walled cities “very great”, faith saw a “very, very good land” (Num. 13: 28; 14: 7).

He has done great things—and yet we are so often preoccupied with little things!

The sheep have been scattered, but they still need feeding. Do what you can—minister Christ to them.

The man of God cannot help being distressed by what he sees around him, but he is not disturbed. The Book predicted these things long ago. Surely the Master cometh!

Playing church is often followed by the lesson of humility.

Everything that has ever happened in history, and everything that will ever happen, is as nothing when compared to the fact that the Christ of God was made sin at Calvary.

The knees must be used before the tongue, the eyes shut in prayer before the mouth opened.

112

The sinner who has the greatest sense of sin has the greatest sense of the grace which forgives sin.

Christ is sight to the blind, bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, and clothes to the naked.

Sin entered the scene of innocence, grace has entered the scene of ruin.

Christ is a saviour, indeed, the Saviour, but is He your Saviour?

The Bible is more fervently loved, and more intensely hated, than all the rest of the world’s books put together.

We may know forgiveness, and like Martha, be engaged with “much serving” (Luke 10: 40), but what about sitting at His feet?

Man will believe anything, apart from what God has said about him.

The Scriptures are the only light we have with regard to the knowledge of God, and we must either take them as they are, or reject them altogether.

Get heaven’s view-point—only then will you begin to appreciate the extent of God’s work today. The soldier can see the battle, the general sees the war.

‘Lost’ speaks of my will; ‘found’ speaks of His will.

113

It is one thing to accept the Spirit’s order and pray for Him to work in His own way; it is quite another to set up our order and then pray for Him to work according to our arrangement.

Christ is the only one who delivers up His kingdom (see 1 Cor. 15: 29). All others have their rule taken away from them.

2 Tim. 3: 16 proves that Scripture comes from God; Rom. 15: 4 that it comes to us.

The weakness is in ourselves, not in the truth.

Unbelievers may not listen to your preaching, but they can do nothing about your prayers.

If you do what God wants you to do, you will not have time for what He does not want you to do.

Why do some Christians grow faster than others? It’s simple really: they devote more time to feeding on Christ.

If there’s little heart for the Gospel, then there’s little heart for Christ; if there’s little heart for the Church, then there’s little heart for Christ.

114

The proof that I am not governed by tradition is that I am prepared to heed the hard sayings of Scripture.

Your soul is only ever progressing or regressing.

Israel is the key player on the prophetic and political stage—all others are being moved by an unseen hand in relation to her.

My personal relationship with Christ underpins everything—neglect Him, and everything else will begin to crumble.

Nations scarcely out of barbarism are being blessed in the Gospel, while nations with a long history of blessing are scrabbling back from whence they were delivered!

There are no God–honouring compromises with regard to the truth—only surrenders.

Foolish jesting by the preacher means the world is in the pulpit.

Believing on Christ is good, following Christ is better, but being devoted to Christ is best of all.

115

In this world’s darkest hour, God’s love shines out like never before.

The more worldly we are, the less effective our evangelisation.

How much should we love the saints? “He has laid down his life for us ... we ought for the brethren to lay down [our] lives” (1 John 3: 16).

If our relationship with Christ is right, then our relationships with each other will be right too.

Daniel’s friends were government ministers of the empire but over and above that, they were servants of the Most High God (see Dan. 2: 48; 3: 26). Nebuchadnezzar might make proclamation, but all that mattered was that God had already spoken.

We are almost too–familiar with some divine truths. Stop and think, and you will regain that sense of wonder at all that God has done. 

Evidence by itself will never turn a man to God. No one will be converted without there first being a work of God in the soul.

116

We grow in wisdom by being content to take the place of having none.

What can break the seal of the Spirit? Nothing!

Worldliness does not simply relate to what we do—it is an attitude of mind. Thus it is impossible to preserve oneself against worldliness by legalism—a list of do’s and don’ts.

The only One in the universe who can condemn the sinner (see John 5: 22) is the crucified of Calvary, and He is now sitting on the throne of God as Saviour.

One of the saddest results of spiritual weakness among Christians is the rarity of restoration. 

We cannot earn our salvation, but neither can we lose it.

Doctrinal differences should never be made personal, and personal differences should never be made doctrinal.

Get out of communion with Christ and you will seek to maintain what you have lost by legal means.

117

It is not difficult to take a theory to Scripture and find evidence for it. That is not the same as testing it by Scripture.

A salvation that will not save from the world will also not save from Hell.

If a knowledge of the past is important, then a knowledge of the future must be more important still.

What judgment shall be inflicted on those who delight to proclaim themselves doubters, while claiming to be ministers of a religion of which faith is the essential characteristic?

To maintain that we cannot know that the Bible is the Word of God is equivalent to asserting that the God who made us cannot speak to us in such a way that we are convicted that it is from him.

Peter witnessed every miracle, including the transfiguration, but his faith was based, not on miracles, but a revelation (see Matt. 16: 17).

One mighty man’s deliverance of a plot of lentils seems trivial, but it was a portion of the divinely–given inheritance to be defended (see 2 Sam. 23: 11, 12). So is every link in the chain of truth.

Where Christ is made much of, then we may be confident that there is the Spirit’s power. Where the Spirit is supposedly to the fore, then the power is from elsewhere (see John 16: 14).

118

A doctrine cannot be proved true by the number of its adherents, or by the length of time during which it has been generally received.

In creation, “God divided between the light and the darkness” (Gen. 1: 4)—it has been the object of the Devil ever since to re–unite them.

It is one thing to occupy a right position and quite another to be in a right condition.

No amount of failure alters divine truth. We are as responsible as our fathers to go back to that which is written and act in faith upon it.

Apply yourself to the Scriptures and the Scriptures to yourself.

You are either investing in this world or the next.

Is it not a shame, indeed, a disgrace, that it should ever be true of saints going to heaven, that they are unconcerned about sinners going to hell?

One reason there is so little power with much of the preaching and teaching of today is a lack of consistently doing the truth before proclaiming it.

119

A sinner hides from God, a saint hides in God.

No room for Him at birth, no place among the great in life, and only a borrowed tomb in death. Yet God has highly exalted Him!

Who does 'whosoever' (John 3: 16) mean? Better to ask 'Who does it not mean?'!

Sin in the life of the believer is different from sin in the life of the unbeliever. It is worse.

The Lord prepared us for heaven when He died on the cross, and prepared heaven for us when He went back there as man.

A fixed order of service may be written or unwritten—but neither is the leading of the Spirit.

With every step into God's inheritance, the landscape widens out before me. His blessings are inexhaustible.

Saints of long ago "thought upon his name" (Mal. 3: 16). What of saints today?

The question of the believer's eternal security is simply answered by a question: Who saved me? If Christ saved me. How can I ever be lost? It is impossible! “Salvation is of Jehovah” (Jonah 2: 9).

120

God is willing to save, but many are not willing to be saved in God’s way.

Our salvation from first to last is entirely of God; our ruin, if lost, is entirely of ourselves.

It is not enough that the truth is in your head, or upon your lips—it must be in your heart.

Just as a man cannot live without breathing, so a man is not a believer unless he prays.

Faith is to prayer what the feather is to the arrow: without it prayer will not hit the mark.

Daniel had all the affairs of a kingdom on his hands, and yet he prayed three times a day.

The flute, the pipe and the trumpet each have their peculiar note, yet the breath that calls forth the notes is, in each case, one and the same. So it is with the writers of Scripture.

Fellowship is mutual—it is as much about you agreeing to walk with me, as I with you.

The right way of interpreting Scripture is to take it as we find it, without any attempt to force it into any particular system.

121

Sin and prayer do not go together: we must give up one or the other.

How can Christians divorce, when divorce is going before the law (see 1 Cor 6: 1–11)?

“Thou art the man!” (2 Sam. 12: 7)—the first man, a guilty sinner. “Behold the man!” (John 19: 5)—the second man, the guiltless, holy lamb of God.

What is the subject of your conversation? What you delight to talk about reveals what means most to you. Is it Christ and His things—or something else?

There is only one question worth asking about our actions: How will they look at the judgment seat?

Flagrant sinners carry out “wicked works” (Col. 1: 21) and religionists practise “dead works” (Heb. 9: 14), but Christians have “been created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2: 10).

The grace of God led a degraded woman in a doomed nation to be left “outside the camp of Israel” (Josh. 6: 23), then to dwell “in the midst of Israel” (v25), and finally to be placed in the royal line that led up to Christ (see Matthew 1: 5).

122

For the believer, the question of sin was settled at the cross; for the unbeliever, it is postponed to the day of judgement.

Where there are no cares there will generally be no prayers.

How many of us are like Naphtali and “goodly” in our words (Gen. 49: 21), yet also like Rueben and “unstable” in our ways (v4, AV)!

Faith is sometimes so weak and feeble that it looks like nature. Nature is sometimes so plausible and well–dressed that it looks like faith.

The only way to pass through things seen with comfort and look forward to things unseen without fear is to have Christ as our Saviour and friend.

God has been very patient with me; let me, therefore, be very patient with others.

Believing Christ died is belief in history; believing Christ died for me is belief in God.

We are disappointed in others, and others are disappointed in us. There is, however, One who never disappoints.

Beware of making selections from your Bible to suite your taste—refusing, like a spoilt child, whatever you think bitter and seizing whatever you think sweet. It would be better to say over every chapter and verse “Speak, Jehovah, for thy servant heareth” (1 Sam. 3: 9).

123

James says “Be not many teachers” (Jas 3: 1) but there is no corresponding ‘be not many learners’.

The Bible is a rock from which all the hammers of criticism have never chipped a single fragment. 

I ought never to be irritated by circumstances: God uses them for my blessing. 

Having one foot in the world is like putting one foot off the boardwalk into the marsh: it is impossible to stay on the path.

The world has its mirth and laughter—trivial, shallow and transient. The Christian has a joy behind price, immeasurable and eternal. 

God is doing great things in the world today, far greater than our minds can comprehend. May we ever resist being insular in our thoughts! 

The first lesson in Bible study is that the more you learn, the more you realise you don’t know.

The One who has been made “very high” (Is. 52: 13), was the One who made himself very low (see 2 Cor. 8: 9). 

Saints with Christ as their one object, and the Word of God as their one guide will not be long in seeing eye to eye.

124

If you show others what Christ has done for you, then they may be persuaded to see what He can do for them.

What is worse than a breakdown in fellowship is an acrimonious breakdown in fellowship.

I have never met a soul who set out to satisfy the Lord who has not been satisfied himself.

Man was made in the image of God, but it is foolish to imagine that God is in the image of man.

Liberty for some of the gifts is not the same as liberty of gift.

When God looks down on me He ought to see a life that reflects Christ. There may be explanations if it is otherwise, but there are no excuses.

Ecclesiatical separation is no barrier to worldliness of heart.

Life is short, but it can also be full. What are you filling yours with?

125

“Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32: 23)—and yet how often we imagine otherwise, whether in personal things, business affairs or ecclesiastical matters!

Revivalism, as commonly understood, is a misnomer. An unconverted person is dead in trespasses and sins, and cannot be revived.

The route to spiritual power is to acknowledge my incapacity to do anything for God: I become strong out of weakness (see Heb. 11: 34).

I shall never fully comprehend what God has done for me: His giving has been beyond measure.

Religious fame and flattery is no different from worldly fame and flattery—but more dangerous because it looks so fine.

Beware of choosing a Bible translation simply to get a form of words that suits you.

If people do not go in for heavenly things there is only one reason and it is always this reason: they do not value them.

It is very foolish for a Christian to have ‘rigid views’. They may as well say they understand all Scripture perfectly, for they see no need of its “correction” (2 Tim. 3: 16).

Faith grows best in the winter of trial.

126

“Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32: 23)—and yet how often we imagine otherwise, whether in personal things, business affairs or ecclesiastical matters!

Revivalism, as commonly understood, is a misnomer. An unconverted person is dead in trespasses and sins, and cannot be revived.

The route to spiritual power is to acknowledge my incapacity to do anything for God: I become strong out of weakness (see Heb. 11: 34).

I shall never fully comprehend what God has done for me: His giving has been beyond measure.

Religious fame and flattery is no different from worldly fame and flattery—but more dangerous because it looks so fine.

Beware of choosing a Bible translation simply to get a form of words that suits you.

If people do not go in for heavenly things there is only one reason and it is always this reason: they do not value them.

It is very foolish for a Christian to have ‘rigid views’. They may as well say they understand all Scripture perfectly, for they see no need of its “correction” (2 Tim. 3: 16).

Faith grows best in the winter of trial.

127

The more we are tested, the more our imperfections come out; the more He was tested, the more His perfections came out. 

There is no such thing as chance, luck, or accident in the Christian journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God, and all things are working together for the believer’s good.

The old nature knows no rules, and the new nature needs no rules.

Finding Scripture to support one’s views is a completely different thing to getting one’s views from Scripture.

Investment in prayer provides the greatest dividends.

It is good to be well–versed in Scripture; it is even better to also be well–acquainted with Christ.

Doing things by the letter is not enough. It will always turn out badly unless it also done by the Spirit.

There is a man living at God’s right hand in glory today—amazing when you review the sad history of every other man that ever lived.

No doctrine is so sacrosanct that it cannot be brought to the bar of Scripture.

128

If you cannot define a doctrine in the vocabulary of Scripture, then there is something wrong with the doctrine.

It is the grace of God that carries with it salvation for all men (see Titus 2: 11), not the law of God.

Christ’s work makes us secure, God’s Word makes us certain.

The same flesh which makes us indulgent to our own faults makes us sharp on the faults of others.

The law condemns the best of Adam’s line, grace can save the worst.

In the types of the last dispensation God was teaching his children their letters. In this dispensation He is teaching them to put those letters together, and they find that, arrange them as they will, the letters spell Christ, and nothing but Christ.

What God has not said is to be respected as much as what He has said.

The reality of fellowship is seen, not with those who we are naturally inclined to get on well with, but with those whom we are not.

Man’s work, if we are continually poring over it, will soon weary us—a little attention will in time make us masters of it. Yet the more we examine and look into God’s work, then the more it opens out, at each step unfolding fresh and endless wonders.

129

All things we do, are to be “done in love” (1 Cor. 16: 14), even the separation from an erring brother (see 1 Cor. 5: 11–13).

To be ‘well–taught’ or ‘well–read’ is, in itself, of little value; to be ‘like Christ’ is priceless.

You cannot misappropriate what is promised to Israel in the OT and retain the fullness of the truth of Christianity in the NT.

The Lord Jesus entered the darkness (see Matt. 27: 45) in order that we might enter His wonderful light (see 1 Pet. 2: 9).

Christ took up His Cross (see John 19: 17) in order to make you and I His own.

Job did not think, or hope, or imagine—he said “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19: 25, my emphasis).

If you are gathered only on the ground of the one body, then you must accept all true Christians, irrespective of their behaviour.

“What she could she has done” (Mark 14: 8)—may it be said of you and I with respect to the service of the Lord!

Science now believes that it has found the particle that holds the universe together—the Higgs boson particle. The Bible told us the Person who holds the universe together nearly two millennia previously: “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Heb. 1: 3) and “all things subsist together by him” (Col. 1: 17).

130

Watch a mother serve her family. She is a slave to them, yet free because of the bonds of love. True love makes slaves of each believer.

Death is a reality, but it is no more real than the certainty of “thus we shall be always with [the] Lord” (1 Thess. 4: 17).

The shortest distance between your problems and their solutions is the distance between your knees and floor. Those who kneel down to God can stand up to anything.

We do not grieve as the rest who have no hope, for we are sons of light and of day (see 1 Thess. 4: 13; 5: 5).

Man in his natural state never trusts God; God, on His part, never trusts man.

All things, whether in heaven or earth or under the earth, will be subjected to Christ (see Phil. 2: 10), but only the things in the earth and heaven will be reconciled to God (see Col. 1: 20).

Some dear Christians insist on using words that the Holy Spirit has not taught (see 1 Cor. 2: 13). Do they know better than God?

God is ever faithful to us: “his compassions fail not; they are new every morning” (Lam. 3: 22, 23).

In the power of the blood of Christ, God can accomplish all his eternal counsels of grace. He can save the Church and raise it into the heights of glory, restore Israel’s scattered tribes, unite Judah and Ephraim, accomplish all the promises made to Abraham Isaac and Jacob, bless untold millions of the Gentiles and restore creation itself. All this He can do and will do, but the one solitary pedestal upon which everything will rest forever is the blood of the cross.

If you assert a doctrine as being Biblical, then on you lies the obligation of proving it.

131

Revelation does not always include explanation. If we add our own, then we only have speculation.

We are told that Solomon was seven years building the temple and thirteen years building his own house (see 1 Kings 6: 38; 7: 1). And see what time and money Christians will spend upon the adornments of their own houses compared with what they give for the furtherance of the house of God!

God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to produce rain, broken grain to give bread and broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. Not only that, God loves those with a contrite heart and a broken spirit.

It doesn’t matter how small your light is—in the darkness it will still show.

Faith in God is a step into the light not a leap into the dark.

The Holy Spirit does not gather Christians around views and opinions but around a blessed Person.

An ecclesiastical position is nothing; what matters is how much of Christ is there in me?

132

It is very easy to hold things in mere doctrinal terms when the vital power of them is gone.

Creativity is a virtue in an original author, but it is a crime in an interpreter.

Jonathan stripped himself of everything for David except his shoes (see 1 Sam. 18: 4). Shoes speak to us of a person’s walk with Lord, and this was Jonathan’s problem. He was not prepared to go with David.

If I cannot read Scripture unless it is through the prism of what others have said, then my reading is no different, in principle, to the Romanist idea that it is the Church that interprets the Scriptures.

The Lord Jesus only did the things that pleased His Father (see John 8: 29). As believers, we are not given the option of pleasing ourselves.

We may, by grace, be able to avoid being overcome by evil, but still be almost paralyzed as to doing anything positive for the Lord. Let us not give in to this feeling, for His word is “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19: 13, AV).  

It is one thing to study the condition and capacity of those we minister to and to prepare accordingly; it is quite another to study likes and dislikes, and to seek to please them.

It is very wrong to set one Scripture against another, and to use one to weaken the force of the other.

Real ministry points to Christ: they heard John speak and followed Jesus (see John 1:37).

133

If the eye is not fixed on the Lord then there is a danger of making a little world even out of Christian service.

I ought to recognize gift wherever it is. To ignore it, is to slight the Giver.

Christ was made sin for us (see 2 Cor. 5: 21)—how this Scripture brings out the depth both of His suffering and His love!

When I awake in His likeness I shall be satisfied (see Ps. 17: 15)—blessed prospect for the departing saint!

I am not outside the camp, not at all—unless I, personally, have gone forth to Him (see Heb. 13: 13).

In the Assembly I cannot be neutral: my presence is either a help or a hindrance.

We are waiting for the Lord to arrive so that we can depart.

Get persons focused on Christ and they will love one another. Just telling people to love each other will achieve nothing.

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We are left here below to reflect the One above.

There is nothing wrong with having a trade, but my career is to be Christ (see Acts 18: 3; Phil. 1: 21).

If you become unbalanced spiritually, then you are likely to have a fall.

Spiritual blindness is not the exclusive preserve of the unbeliever— thought it ought to be.

The Lord Jesus opened up the Old Testament to His own so that they could see “in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24: 27). And yet how much of that volume is a virtual closed book to you and I!

I must not bring my own thoughts to Scripture, but instead I am to open it, and let it speak for itself.

“What she could she has done” (Mark 14: 8). Could that be said of me?

We are to be liberal in giving (see 2 Cor. 8: 2), because God has been unrestrained in His giving.

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God’s love is the source of the Gospel, God’s grace is its characteristic, but God’s righteousness is its basis.

When the Law was given, 3000 perished (Exod. 32: 28); when the Spirit was given, 3000 were made alive (see Acts 2: 41).

Living a good life can never erase the smallest sin.

If the life of Christ is the basis of our justification and His death the basis of our pardon (as many preach), then we have the nonsense of justification preceding pardon!

You must distinguish between what seems good to the brethren and the plain and explicit instructions of Scripture.

Solomon’s temple was built according to a divine pattern (1 Chron. 28: 12, 19). How sad that he afterwards abandoned the divine pattern for his own life!

We can look back to better days, we can look forward to a better day, but what of today? What is my relationship with the Lord today?

Scripture never says the Father forsook the Son (see John 16: 32).

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Scripture is a land never exhausted by the harvests it yields.

You can never improve on the language of the Spirit of God.

True wisdom is subjection to the will of God. To natural eyes, no plan for taking Jericho could have been more foolish than that which Joshua adopted—but it was God’s plan and so it was a complete success.

The only One in the universe who can condemn a sinner is the crucified of Calvary.

Job had three bad friends; Daniel had three good friends.

Whether in matters of Church history or in relation to doctrine, there is an enormous difference between ‘presenting a case’ and recording all that is relevant—whether favourable to the case or not.

We are not asked to believe in God—we are asked to believe what He has said.

It is a characteristic of Scripture, in its most simple passages as well as its most difficult, to invite research and to hold back something to be the reward of diligence.

While delighting in the intimacy of the relationship into which he has been brought, the Christian is never to forget that the Father is ever God—hence the often repeated expression “God and Father” (Eph. 1: 3 etc.), in which God is always placed first.

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Only One who knew not sin could be made sin for us (see 2 Cor. 5: 21).

Joshua was qualified to lead the people into the land because he had been there himself.

God still heals people today, but there is no gift of healing.

Practical Christianity is the only sort of Christianity there is.

Am I governed by what most people think (orthodoxy) or what God says (Scripture)? 

Christ is the image of the invisible God (see Col. 1: 15) and the expression of the Father (see John 14: 9). 

Gift is given for “the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4: 12), not just a select band of the similarly–minded. That the day is ‘difficult’ does not absolve us from our responsibility towards all.

The Scriptures are opened up to us in the company of Christ (see Luke 24: 27).

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God has a bag for His people’s transgressions, a bottle for their tears and a book for their names (see Job 14: 17; Ps. 56: 8; Mal. 3: 16).

Never go before your faith and never lag behind your conscience. 

The mystery is neither mysterious nor mystical.

If God could fail in His promises to Israel, then He can also fail in His promises to the Church.

My eternal blessing rests simply on whether I believe what God has told me: “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4: 3). 

No man or woman can train you for ‘the ministry’—only God.

The moment our understanding of Scripture becomes formulated, then the danger is for that ‘orthodoxy’ to become the test of everything, rather than Scripture itself.

In terms of the Church’s activities, Paul was marginalised (see 2 Tim. 1: 15), but he was in the forefront of God’s activities.

We are not directors of conscience but ministers of the Word, and our desire is to so minister as to leave readers to direct their own consciences by the Word.

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No matter what may be the subject in the Word of God, we are certain to learn it more truly and deeply, if we view it in its connection with the person of Christ rather than dwelling on the way the truth may affect ourselves, or relate to ourselves.

We are to do good towards all, especially those of the household of faith (see Gal. 6: 10). Scripture never envisages a narrower circle of philanthropy.

I do not think God ever intended Christians to learn primarily through books. The place of learning ought to be through current ministry of the Word in the Assembly.

When Samuel first met Saul, Saul was looking for his father’s asses which he could not find; when Samuel first met David, David was keeping his father’s sheep, which he did not lose (see 1 Sam. 9: 3-10: 2; 16: 11–13; 17: 34, 35).

As the appearance of the star in the East was the sign of the birth of Emmanuel, so the disappearance of the sun at noonday was the signal of his death (see Matt. 2: 2; 27: 45).

What is faith? It is thinking as God thinks.

Every purpose fails that is entrusted to the first man. But the purposes of God stand because there is a second man.

As a ray of sunlight remains pure, whatever objects it might shine upon, so the pathway of the Lord Jesus was unsullied by any of the scenes through which He passed (see Heb. 7: 26).

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To be old and learned does not make one a father (see 1 John 2: 14). By definition it is a title of relationship—with younger persons. 

Sometimes we are exhorted to make better use of our time. Better to realise that it is not our time at all.

The unity of the body is to recognised, the unity of the faith is to be aimed for, and the unity of the Spirit maintained (see 1 Cor. 10: 17; Eph. 4: 3,4,13). 

One of the great distinctive features of the present dispensation is access by the Spirit to the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The good news in the Gospel is not that I have accepted what Christ has done, but that God has accepted it, and that there is salvation in believing His testimony regarding it.

A great deal of so-called exposition of Scripture is making the Bible say what we want it to say. You can ‘interpret’ any work of literature this way. My business ought to be to find out what God is really saying. 

We can get very depressed by the current state of things among Christians—the remedy is to remember that the Lord is the same as He ever was.

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There are at least three things that the Church never does. It does not teach, it does not preach and it does not baptise. All three services are the responsibility of individuals.

Civilisation and barbarism are simply the same fallen human nature working under different conditions.

There is no such thing as the power of prayer. Power lies in the One prayed to.

If you want to know what the time is on God’s clock, look at Israel.

Daniel lived in Babylon, but he did not live for Babylon. His windows were open towards Jerusalem (see Dan. 6: 10).

When it is impossible to beg to differ from a recognised teacher without eyebrows being raised, then we are already too far down the road of transferring authority from Scripture to those who teach.  

The really devoted servant will keep his eye not on his service, but on his Master. If I am thinking only of Him, then planting churches and making tents will be both alike to me. I will not mind doing either, so long as it is His will.

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Believers are not promised a better deal in this life than unbelievers. They still get sick and they still die. What they are assured of is that the Lord will be with them in all their trials. 

Prayer is a lack of confidence in self, and an expression of confidence in God. 

There are two great lessons of the wilderness: we learn what man is, and we learn what God is.

God is less interested in my ability as in my availability.

God uses little things to great ends.

The only errors in the Bible are those of the copyist, the translator or the printer.

The same genial beam of the sun which melts the wax also hardens the clay. Grace accepted softens the heart, grace rejected hardens it. 

All things which the Lord Jesus heard from His Father He told to His disciples. In His absence from them, He promised that the Holy Spirit would do likewise (see John 15: 15; 16: 13).

What counts with God is not what men judge as success, but the obedience that flows from affection.

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God makes no mistakes: all the circumstances of life are for our good.

What is true is not necessarily trustworthy—ecclesiastical histories being a case in point. Is it the whole truth?

The fear of Jehovah is to hate evil (see Prov. 8: 13). In proportion as evil is excused so is God not feared. 

Man hopes for mercy; God provides grace abounding.

The Gospel of Matthew begins with “God with us” and ends with “behold, I am with you all the days, until the completion of the age” (Matt. 1: 23; 28: 20).

The mother of the Lord had a unique place of favour, but the Lord sets hearing and keeping the Word of God above that place (see Luke 1: 42, 48; 11: 27, 28).

Salvation costs me nothing; it cost the Saviour everything. 

The Lord Jesus has not bridged the gulf between the sinner and God; in His death He has removed it. 

Calvary reveals the true nature of man, and the true nature of God.

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My Master may go where He pleases, but I must go where I am told.

A fugitive is a man who has fled from home. A vagrant is a man who has no home. A stranger is a man who is absent from home. A pilgrim is a man who is on his way home.

“Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude v21). God always loves us, but we are most blessed if we keep near His side. 

However strong the opposition, it is helpless in the face of our prayers. 

The unspiritual consider only their own circle; the spiritual does “good towards all, and specially towards those of the household of faith” (Gal. 6: 10). 

Pride is a deceiver, and spiritual pride the most delusional of all.

It is not unheard of for refugees to sell their food vouchers in order to obtain a Bible: “Work not [for] the food which perishes, but [for] the food which abides unto life eternal, which the Son of man shall give to you” (John 6: 27). While such have never read John 6: 27, they know far more of its reality than those of us who possess many Bibles, can quote the verse and expound upon it, but who have never had an empty stomach.

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The believer’s household must be so ordered that it reflects the character of the God that he serves (see Gen. 18: 19; 1 Tim. 3: 4).

John characteristically speaks of light, life and love—remarkably, three things that man’s mind struggles to explain.

Your principles may preserve you—but only as a museum piece. The Spirit preserves in life.

You cannot walk in the Spirit without abiding in Christ.

Testimony to the world depends on separation from the world.

Christ as Man is the image of God—the perfect representation to Man of God.

You do not occupy simply a non–sectarian position simply by charging all others with sectarianism. 

Dealing with sin is not a matter of pragmatism or expediency (see Deut. 24: 8–9), but of doing what is Scriptural.

According to the Bible, there is no ‘right to life’. No one has the right to live because “all have sinned”, and “the wages of sin [is] death” (Rom. 3: 23; 6: 23).

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God does not use an angel to wipe away His people’s tears (see Rev 7: 17)—He does it Himself. 

Your ways can appear entirely Scriptural and yet you may not be governed by Scripture. 

It is one thing to sing ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’, quite another to prove it in your own experience. 

Joseph sought the welfare of his brethren (see Gen. 37: 14); they sought his hurt (see v18). 

Dislike of the Biblical concept of God is not a rational basis for unbelief.

If in walking in separation, your focus is on evil, then you are sure to miss some. Separation must, first and foremost, be to God.

To teach an illiterate shepherd boy how to repeat “The Lord is my Shepherd,” he was told to touch the tops of the first three fingers of his left hand as he repeated the first three words. When, however, he repeated the fourth word “my”, he was to grasp the fourth finger with his right hand. Not long afterwards, while seeking his sheep in a snowstorm, he perished. His body was found with the fourth finger of the left hand firmly grasped by the right hand. He died in the faith. “The Lord is my shepherd” (Ps. 23: 1 AV; my emphasis).

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The Lord’s service brought Him into the company of others; His character made Him a man apart from others. 

God’s Word: know it in the head, store it in the heart, show it in the life, and sow it in the world.

Just–as–if–never–sinned is word–play and wrong. In the Biblical description of justification, our account is not just cleared of debt, but we have received credit in the form of the “free gift of righteousness” (Rom. 5: 17).

The price of our redemption was paid. There was no lesser price, and there was no greater price. And such a price was paid in full.

Long before I began with Christ, He began with me. 

Satan’s counterfeit religion is the Church without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance and salvation without regeneration. 

Mercy would have taken the prodigal back as a hired servant. Grace however, clothed him in the best robe, gave him a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet. Best of all, it covered him with kisses (see Luke 15: 19–22).

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Christ is spoken of as the “light of the world” (John 8: 12), as the “Sun of righteousness” to Israel (Mal. 4: 2) and as the “bright [and] morning star” to the Church (Rev. 22: 16). 

It says Abraham believed God (see Rom. 4: 3) not that he understood God. At the time, the message was too great for his mind to grasp, but he believed it because of the One who told it to him.

Except a man be born again, he will wish one day that he had never been born at all.

It is not the absence of sin but the grieving over it that distinguishes the child of God from an empty professor. 

True Christianity is not merely believing a set of dry propositions —it is to live in daily, personal communication with the living God. As the apostle Paul could say, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim. 1: 12, my emphasis).

Faith makes all things possible, love makes all things easy.

A cheap Christianity without a cross will in the end prove a useless Christianity without a crown.

Simply stating the truth alone will not suffice to rebut error. Error has an advantage over the truth in that it fits in easily with the natural principle of our hearts. Error needs to be exposed by the truth, and for that it needs to be named.

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Denials should be issued with care, for usually more knowledge is needed to deny than to assert. Thus I may assert that a certain thing is in the Bible, and need know very little of the book. However, if I deny a thing is in the Bible, then my knowledge needs to be extensive.

“Even what my God shall say, that will I declare” (2 Chron. 18: 13) are the words of a truly faithful servant.

The point of departure being the point of recovery applies just as much to companies as it does to individuals.

Circumstances may be the form of the expression of God’s will for us, but the normal thing for the Christian ought to be an inward apprehension of the Lord’s mind.

When we pray it is good to remember that God “is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask” or, even if we don’t dare ask it, “above all which we ask or think” (Eph. 3: 20, my emphasis).

Truth is truth whoever uttered it, and error is error whoever uttered it. Let us not be blinded by personalities.

The true measure of God’s love is that He loves without measure. 

Christ must have the first place, not in most things, but all things.

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It is the Lord’s work we are to be concerned with, not our own vindication. It does not matter if I am misrepresented. It does matter if the Lord is misrepresented.

The apostle Paul was a minister, both of the Gospel (see Col. 1: 23), and of the Church (see vs. 24, 25). He was a balanced servant, never emphasising one aspect of the truth to the detriment of another.

Sometimes we meet so–called Bible experts; sometimes we meet people who know such Bible experts; the fact is, there are no experts—we are all students.

Ministry read as the last word on the subject is ministry mis–read.

Sorrow and shame can be are only reaction when we ponder church history; joy and exultation will be our feeling when we consider all that Christ has done and will do. 

No amount of failure alters divine truth. We today are as responsible as our fathers were to go back to that which is written and act in faith upon it.

The Lord is personally interested in me with an interest that is unwavering and unending.

Serving the Lord is not a question of being busy but of obedience.

Under the old covenant, there was “a calling to mind of sins yearly” (Heb. 10: 3); under the new covenant, “their sins and their lawlessnesses I will never remember any more” (v17).

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Christians often make much of the truth as a matter of doctrine while allowing themselves to become utterly negligent in walking in that truth daily. They are like a cake not turned, all brown on one side and raw dough on the other. Doctrinally, they might be very particular. Practically, however, they are loose and unconcerned.

How can you be satisfied with the extent of your practical Christian fellowship in such a day as this? Thankful for any measure of fellowship that can be had, but never satisfied.

It is a small thing to mark your Bible, but it is a great thing when it marks you.

God says “there is no God else beside me” (Is. 45: 21). We are not giving a choice of the sort of God we want to believe in or not believe in. This, is the God who we must face.

See to nurture your own relationship with God first, then seek the spiritual welfare of the family God has given you, then the interests of all God’s people, and finally the blessing of men generally.

God does not ask merely for the first place in our hearts, for He wants it all: “My son, give me thy heart” (Prov. 23: 26). 

Grace is not merely unmerited favour, but favour despite merited judgment.

Many see service as a means of thanking God for what He has done for them. It is good to be thankful, but that is not the primary reason for service. I serve because I am a servant.

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