“Are you God’s wife?”

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“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you,
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these….”

–Matthew 25:40

There is an old story of a beautiful lady who once visited New York city,

and there she saw on the sidewalk a ragged, cold, and hungry little girl gazing wistfully at some of the cakes in a shop window. She stopped, and, taking the little one by the hand, led her into the store. Though she was aware that bread might be better for the cold child than cake, yet, desiring to gratify the shivering and forlorn one, she bought and gave her the cake she wanted. She then took her to another place, where she procured her a shawl and other articles of comfort. The grateful little creature looked the lady full in the face, and with artless simplicity said, “Are you God’s wife?”

My dear friends, may I ask you a few questions? Do your actions and words lead people to believe that they see Jesus in you? Is your life lived in such a way, that the things you say, and the way you act, speak naturally of the Savior and your relationship to Him? Is your theology so sprinkled with the love of the Savior that it unerringly points to Jesus?  Or to others, do you usually seem, hard, cold, and unapproachable? Do you have a hard time trying to convince others of the Gospel you preach, or are people naturally drawn to it?

My prayer today is that your love and your charity will naturally lead people to ask if you are God’s child; if you are a Christian, and to inquire if they can have the same Christ that you have.  I also pray, that “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Amen. Grace and peace.

The Poisoned Arrow

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There was once a king of England, named Edward the First…

…he was the son of Henry the Third; and while his father was yet alive, Edward, who was a prince of great courage and bravery, resolved to join the crusaders in the Holy Land. These crusaders were people of many different nations, all united together to accomplish one object: namely, to rescue Jerusalem from the Turks and Saracens. The holy city had long been trodden under foot by the infidels; and the Christians there had been so cruelly treated, that it had roused the indignation of all Europe; and many crusades had been undertaken, and many a brave crusader had died on the plains of Palestine, far from his home and all its beloved ones, rejoicing in the thought, that his last breath was spent in so noble a cause. Prince Edward, ardent and enterprising, and burning to distinguish himself, sailed from England, accompanied by his wife Eleanor, and a large army of soldiers; and finally arrived in Syria.

You will think it strange that a young and delicate woman, such as Eleanor of Castille was, should possess courage and resolution sufficient to leave her home, to traverse many thousands of miles, to go into an enemy’s country, the seat of war and bloodshed, and to brave the scorching sun and enervating climate of the Middle-east. But Eleanor’s was no ordinary character: she loved her husband with deep and fond affection; and when he was leaving his native land, perhaps never to return, she thought not of herself, but of him who was so dear to her: and prince Edward felt and returned her affection.

Each crusader wore a cross on his right shoulder: the color of the English cross was white; of the French red; of the German black; of the Italians yellow; and of the Flemish green.

Shortly after the arrival of the English army, headed by Prince Edward, the contest was renewed with great vigor; and the red flag of England soon gained the ascendency; the Saracens were defeated in several battles, and the enemies of Christians began to tremble for the result. For a while, victory succeeded victory; for the turbaned hosts could not withstand the youthful arm, which every day spread confusion and dismay in their ranks; and they fled on all sides. But their animosity was not extinguished….

It was the custom of Prince Edward, after the fatigue and heat of the day were over, to sit at the door of his tent with his beloved Eleanor, and thus enjoy the exceeding loveliness of a calm evening. The moon had risen, and was shedding her pale light on the luxuriant and varied prospect before them, as they took their accustomed seat, one evening, more than usually glad of the refreshing breeze and peaceful stillness of the hour. The small but gallant band of soldiers was encamped around them: small, compared to what it had been, for disease and war had, alas! thinned their ranks; but gallant, undaunted, and brave, as when they first landed on the shores of Palestine. The wearied men had sought that sleep, which they much needed; and nothing was heard save the “All’s well,”of the watchful guard, or the distant neighing of a war-steed.

The thoughts of Prince Edward and his Eleanor were that evening turned upon England, and upon the home so dear to both; when Eleanor, taking up her guitar, commenced singing, in her rich melodious voice, one of the melodies of her native Spain. She had scarcely finished, when a sentinel approached, saying a courier from England waited his highness’s pleasure.

“Admit him,” said the prince. “Ah! Sir John Fitzwalter! Welcome to Palestine! How fares it with the king? Is all well in England? What tidings, good Sir John; what tidings?” “I rejoice in being able to inform your highness that all was well when I left,” replied Sir John. “His majesty was in tolerable health: but these letters from your royal father may inform your highness of farther particulars.”

The prince took the letters, and was engaged in reading the earnest desires of the king to his son, urging his immediate return home, as he felt his constitution rapidly decaying; when Eleanor suddenly uttered a piercing shriek, for the letters dropped from the prince’s hand, and Sir John Fitzwalter, rushing from the tent, shouted to the soldiers to secure the assassin; and, having given the alarm, flew back, to save, if possible, the life of his beloved prince.

It was too true: an arrow, shot from a distance by some unknown hand, had pierced deep into his arm; and as Sir John dispatched the frightened attendants for medical assistance, and Eleanor, the horror-stricken Eleanor, stood pale and breathless by, conceiving it for the moment to be some frightful dream, the prince himself drew the deadly shaft from his arm, and said with a faint smile, “Tis of no avail, Fitzwalter, the arrow is a poisoned one. Weep not, sweet Eleanor, we shall meet again; farewell!”

“Assist me, oh! thou God of mercy!” exclaimed Eleanor; and, with a sudden resolution and a devotedness of love rarely to be equaled, she knelt down by the side of her husband; and, before he could prevent her, she sucked the poison from the wound; and thus, at the imminent hazard of her own life, she preserved the life of Prince Edward. The eyes of Edward of England were suffused with tears, as he, clasping his wife affectionately to his heart exclaimed, “This is a woman’s love!”

My dear friend, you and I have been shot by that poisoned arrow of sin.

And that by the arch-assassin, Satan. We were doomed to die. Our fate should have been sealed, for sin is a fatal poison. Death was all we could expect. Yet Christ in his infinite mercy, came down from heaven. Love, infinite love, did not just risk his life for us, but gave his life for us. He died for us. Jesus died so that we might live. It was our only hope, it was and is, our only shot. We cannot get all the poison out of our lives. Many, spend their lives trying to do exactly that, that is, we try to suck the poison out of our own lives and character. Only Jesus can take our poison from us. He died so that he could. Only Jesus could heal all of our deadly wounds.

“He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.… Is. 53:5-6.

My dear friend, what will you do? Will you trust your own efforts to save you? Or, will you not repent of both your sin and your works to save yourself?  Will you not let the one who loves you more than you can realize, take care of you, –take your poison, heal your wounds, and give you His righteousness. It is my prayer that you do so, right now.

Grace and peace.

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The Story was taken and adapted from, “Anecdotes of Kings”
Author Unknown

I am sure that there is a Christian, a child of God, who feels that their sins are not yet forgiven. Are you that person?

Written by J. C. Ryle.
Edited for thought and space
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Consider, that the forgiveness set before you is a great and broad forgiveness.
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Jesus_Drawing_Cast_First_Stone_Hear what the Prince of Peace Himself declares: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall become as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Yes! though your trespasses be more in number than the hairs of your head, the stars in heaven, the leaves of the forest, the blades of grass, the grains of sand on the sea-shore, still they can all be pardoned.  As the waters of Noah’s flood covered over and hid the tops of the highest hills, so can the blood of Jesus cover over and hide your mightiest sins. “His blood cleanses from’ all sin” (1 John 1:7).   Though to you they seem written with the point of a diamond, they can all be effaced from the book of God’s remembrance by that precious blood.  Paul names a long list of abominations which the Corinthians had committed, and then says: “Such were some of’ you: but ye are washed” (1 Cor. vi. 11).

Furthermore, it is a full and complete forgiveness. 

It is not like David’s pardon to Absalom,—a permission to return home, but not a full restoration to favour (2 Sam. 14:24).  It is not, as some fancy, a mere letting off, and letting alone. It is a pardon so complete, that he who has it is reckoned as righteous as if he had never sinned at all. His iniquities are blotted out. They are removed from him as far as the east from the west (Psalm 103:12).  There remains no condemnation for him.  The Father sees him joined to Christ, and is well pleased. The Son beholds him clothed with ‘His own righteousness, and says, “Thou art all fair, .  .  .  there is no spot in thee” (Cant. 4:7). Blessed be God that it is so. I verily believe if the best of us all had only one blot left for himself to wipe out, he would miss eternal life.  If the holiest child of Adam were in heaven all but his little finger, and to get in depended on himself, I am sure he would never enter the kingdom.  If Noah, Daniel, and Job had but one day’s sin to wash away, they would never have been saved.  Praised be God that in the matter of our pardon there is nothing left for man to do.  Jesus does all, and man has only to hold out an empty hand and to receive.

Furthermore, it is a free and unconditional forgiveness

It is not burdened with an “if,” like Solomon’s pardon to Adonijah: “If he will show himself a worthy man (1 Kings 1:52).  Nor yet are you obliged to carry a price in your hand, or bring a character with you to prove yourself deserving of mercy.  Jesus requires but one character, and that is that you should feel yourself a sinful, bad man. He invites you to “buy wine and milk without money and without price,” and declares, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Isaiah 55:1; Rev 22:17) ‘Like David in the cave of Adullam, He receives everyone that feels in distress and a debtor, and rejects none (1 Sam. 22:2).  Are you a sinner? Do you want a Saviour? Then come to Jesus just as you are, and your soul shall live.

Again, it is an offered forgiveness.

 I have read of earthly kings who knew not how to show mercy,—of Henry the Eighth of England, who spared neither man nor woman; of James the Fifth of Scotland, who would never show favour to a Douglas.  The King of kings is not like them.  He calls on man to come to Him, and be pardoned. “Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men” (Prov. 8: 4).  “Ho, every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters” (Isaiah 4:1) “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink” (John 7:37). “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Oh, reader, it ought to be a great comfort to you and me to hear of any pardon at all; but to hear Jesus Himself inviting us, to see Jesus Himself holding out His hand to us,—the Saviour seeking the sinner before the sinner seeks the Saviour,—this is encouragement, this is strong consolation indeed!

Again, it is a willing forgiveness. 

I have heard of pardons granted in reply to long entreaty, and wrung out by much importunity.  King Edward the Third of England would not spare the citizens of Calais till they came to him with halters round their necks, and his own Queen interceded for them on her knees.  But Jesus is “good and ready to forgive” (Psalm 87:5).  He delights in mercy (Micah vii.18)  Judgment is His strange work.  He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). He would fain have all men saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. ii. 4)  He wept over unbelieving Jerusalem.  “As I live;” He says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  Turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways: why will ye die?” (Ezek.  32:11).  Ah, reader, you and I may well come boldly to the throne of grace!  He who sits there is far more willing and ready to give mercy than you and I are to receive it.

Besides this, it is a tried forgiveness. 

Thousands and tens of thousands have sought for pardon at the mercy-seat of Christ, and not one has ever returned to say that he sought in vain; sinners of every name and nation,—sinners of every sort and description, have knocked at the door of the fold, and none have ever been refused admission.  Zacchæus the extortioner, Magdalene the harlot, Saul the persecutor, Peter the denier of his Lord, the Jews who crucified the Prince of Life, the idolatrous Athenians, the adulterous Corinthians, the ignorant Africans, the bloodthirsty New Zealanders,—all have ventured their souls on Christ’s promises of pardon, and none have ever found them fail. Ah, reader, if the way I set before you were a new and untraveled way, you might well feel faint-hearted! But it is not so.  It is an old path.  It is a path worn by the feet of many pilgrims, and a path in which the footsteps are all one way.  The treasury of Christ’s mercies has never been found empty.  The well of living waters has never proved dry.

Beside this, it is a present forgiveness. 

All that believe in Jesus are at once justified from all things (Acts 13:38).  The very day the younger son returned to his father’s house he was clothed with the best robe, had the ring put on his hand, and shoes on his feet (Luke 15).  The very day Zacchæus received Jesus he heard these comfortable words “This day is salvation come to this house” (Luke 19:9). The very day that David ‘said, “I have sinned against the Lord,” he was    told by Nathan, “The Lord hath also put away thy sin” (2 Sam. 12:13). The very day you first flee to Christ, your sins are all removed.  Your pardon is not a thing far away, to be obtained only after many years. It is nigh at hand.  It is close to you, within your reach, all ready to be bestowed.  Believe, and that very moment it is your own.  “He that believeth is not condemned” (John 3:18).  It is not said, “he shall not be,” or “will not be,” but “is not.” From the time of his believing, condemnation is gone.  “He that believeth hath everlasting life” (John 3:36).  It is not said, “he shall have,” or “will have,” it is “hath” It is his own as surely as if he was in heaven, though not so evidently so to his own eyes. Ah, reader, you must not think forgiveness will be nearer to a believer in the day of judgment than it was in the hour he first believed!  His complete salvation from the power of sin is every year nearer and nearer to him; but as to his forgiveness and justification, it is a finished work from the very minute he first commits himself to Christ.

Last, and best of all, it is an everlasting forgiveness. 

It is not like Shimei’s pardon, a pardon that may sometime be revoked and taken away (1 Kings ii.  9). Once justified you are justified forever.  Once written down in the book of life, your name shall never be blotted out.  The sins of God’s children are said to be cast into the depths of the sea,—to be sought for and not found,—to be remembered no more,—to be cast behind God’s back (Mic. 52:19; Jer. 1: 20; 31:34; Isaiah 38:17).  Some people fancy they may be justified one year and condemned another,—children of adoption at one time and strangers by and by,—heirs of the kingdom in the beginning of their days, and yet servants of the devil in their end.  I cannot find this in the Bible.  As the New Zealander told the Romish priest, “I do not see it in the Book.” It seems to me to overturn the good news of the Gospel altogether, and to tear up its comforts by the roots. I believe the salvation Jesus offers is an everlasting salvation, and a pardon once sealed with His blood shall never be reversed.

Reader, I have set before you the nature of the forgiveness offered to you. I have told you but little of it, for my words are weaker than my will.  The half of it remains untold.  The greatness of it is far more than any report of mine.  But I think I have said enough to show you it is worth the seeking, and I can wish you nothing better than that you may strive to make it your own.

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0Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  John Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 – 10 June 1900) was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool. Ryle was born at Macclesfield, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Craven Scholar in 1836.  The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before choosing a path of ordained ministry. While hearing Ephesians 2 read in church in 1838, he felt a spiritual awakening and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish priest, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings.

jc-ryle-and-charles-spurgeonRyle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue-collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.