Category Archives: John MacDuff

Persevering Grace

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“The righteous shall hold on his way.” —Job 17:9

Reader! How comforting to you amid the ebbings and flowings of your changing history, to know that the change is all with you, and not with your God! Your spiritual vessel may be tossed on waves of temptation, in many a dark midnight.

You may think your pilot has left you, and be ready continually to say, “Where is my God?”

But fear not! The ship which bears your spiritual destiny is in better hands than yours; a golden chain of covenant love links it to the eternal throne! That chain can never snap asunder. He who holds it in His hand gives you this as the pledge of your safety—”Because I live, you shall live also.”

“Why are you then cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? hope in God!” You will assuredly ride out these stormy surges, and reach the desired haven.

But be faithful with yourself: see that there be nothing to hinder or impede your growth in grace. Think how little may retard your progress. One sin indulged—one temptation tampered with—one bosom traitor, may cost you many a bitter hour and bitter tear, by separating between you and your God.

Make it your daily prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

by John MacDuff:  The Faithful Promiser

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there is a loving purpose behind this…

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“The Lord has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” Psalm 35:27

What is “prosperity?” Is it threads of life weaved into a bright outcome? a full cup? ample riches? worldly applause? an unbroken circle? No, these are often a snare; received without gratitude; dimming the soul to its nobler destinies. Often spiritually it rather means God taking us by the hand into the lowly Valleys of Humiliation; leading us as He did his servant Job of old; out of his sheep, oxen, camels, health, wealth, children; in order that we may be brought before Him in the dust, and say, “Blessed be His holy name!”

 Yes! The very reverse of what is known in the world as Prosperity (generally) forms the background on which the Rainbow of Promise is seen. God smiles on us through these rainbows and teardrops of sorrows! He loves us too well. He has too great an interest in our spiritual welfare to permit us to live on in what is misnamed “Prosperity.” When He sees duties languidly performed, or coldly neglected; the heart deadened, and love to Himself congealed by the absorbing power of the present world, He puts a thorn in our nest to drive us to the wing, and prevent our being grovelers forever!

 I may not be able now to understand the mystery of these dealings. I may be asking through the tears, “Why this unkind arrest on my earthly happiness? Why so premature a lopping of my boughs of promise? Such a speedy withering of my most cherished gourd?” The answer is plain. It is your soul’s prosperity He has in view. Believe it, your true Ebenezers will yet be raised close by your Zarephaths (the place of furnace). 


 His afflictions are no arbitrary appointments. There is righteous necessity in all He does. As He lays His chastening hand upon you, and leads you by ways you know not, and which you never would have chosen. He whispers the gentle accents in your ear, “Beloved I wish above all things that you would prosper, and be in health.”

 Rest in the quiet consciousness that all is well. Murmur at nothing which brings you nearer His own loving Presence. Be thankful for your very cares, because you can confidently cast them all upon Him. He has your temporal and eternal “prosperity” too much at heart to appoint one superfluous pang, one needless stroke. Commit therefore, all that concerns you to His keeping, and leave it there.

John MacDuff

a living hope

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“There is no pit so deep but Christ is deeper still.” Corrie Ten Boom

Consider Christian, that all your . . .
  trials and troubles,
  calamities and miseries,
  crosses and losses,
which you meet with in this world–is
all the hell that you shall ever have!

Here and now you have your hell.
Hereafter you shall have your heaven!

This is the worst of your condition;
the best is yet to come!
Thomas Brooks
  

 

 “Child of My Love! Lean hard! Let Me feel the pressure of your care. I know your burden, child!  I shaped it- I poised it in My own hand and made no proportion of its weight to your unaided strength. For even as I laid it on, I said I shall be near, and while she leans on Me, this burden shall be Mine, not hers.

So shall I keep My child within the circling ar ms of My own love. Here lay it down! Do not fear to impose it on a shoulder which upholds the government of worlds! Yet closer come! You are not near enough! I would embrace your burden, so I might feel My child reposing on My breast. You love Me! I know it. Doubt not, then. But, loving me, lean hard!”  Octavius Winslow

 

The gospel of Jesus Christ has a remedy for everything in life that is calculated to make us gloomy and sad.  It offers the pardon of sin to the penitent and believing; the aid ofgrace to those who struggle against an evil disposition; and help against temptation.  It promises to relieve the believer from fear and affords consolation in affliction. 

There is no reason why a true Christian should not be cheerful.  There are, indeed, many things, which he sees, within and without, that must give him pain.  But there is that in his Christian hope, and in the considerations brought to his mind from the Word of God which is able to bear him high above them all.  Harvey Newcomb

 

Who, amid these checkered experiences, does not sigh for something permanent, stable, enduring? The vessel has again and again slipped its earthly moorings. We long for some secure and sheltered harbor.

 “I change not!”  Heart and flesh may faint; yes, do faint and fail but there is an unfainting, unfailing, unvarying God. All the changes in the world around cannot affect Him. Our own fitfulness cannot alter Him. When we are depressed, downcast, fluctuating, our treacherous hearts turning aside “like a broken bow,” He is without one “shadow of turning.” “God who cannot lie,” is the superscription on His eternal throne; and inscribed on all His dealings.  John MacDuff

take my hand

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“The way is dark, my Father! Cloud on cloud
Is gathering thickly o’er my head, and loud
The thunders roar above me. See, I stand
Like one bewildered! Father! take my hand.

“The way is dark, my child! but leads to light;
I would not always have you walk by sight.
My dealings now you can not understand,
I meant it so; but I will take your hand.

“The day goes fast, my Father! and the night
Is drawing darkly down. My faithless sight
Sees ghostly visions: fears, a spectral band,
Encompass me. O Father! take my hand.

“The day goes fast, my child! But is the night
Darker to Me than day? In Me is light!
Keep close to Me, and every spectral band
Of fears shall vanish. I will take your hand.

“The way is long, my Father! and my soul
Longs for the rest and quiet of the goal.
While yet I journey through this weary land,
Keep me from wandering. Father! take my hand.

“The way is long, my child! But it shall be
Not one step longer than is best for thee;
And you shall know, at last, when you shall stand
Safe at the goal, how I did take your hand.”

“Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure.”

taken from John MacDuff’s “Palms of Elim” #29

FEARS QUIETED

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“This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose”—

“Do not be afraid.

I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17, 18

John’s loving Lord had been lost from sight, ever since the hour when He was borne upwards to heaven from the heights of Olivet. How the orphaned Apostle must have mourned over the irreparable loss! How often in thought would he re-travel these days of earth’s holiest and most sacred friendship—when he had walked by his Lord’s side, or leaned on His bosom, or listened to His words of divinest comfort! How often may he not have breathed the fond wish, in words which have enshrined themselves in many a bereaved heart—

“Oh, for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!”

And yet he would remember, too, the Christ of Nazareth and Galilee is no longer the lowly Man of sorrows, the Pilgrim of pilgrims. He is exalted in heavenly state—a name is given Him which is above every name! When, therefore, he had the first startling intimation of the Divine apparition in Patmos; when he heard the trumpet heralding his Lord’s approach, saw the bright blaze of glory projected from His path, and listened to the announcement in whose presence he was—”I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last”—he might have expected, on turning around, to gaze on some dazzling throne, gleaming with flashes of Truth, and Holiness, and Righteousness—tiers of attendant angels and burning seraphim lining the celestial pathway!

How different! He first sees a vision, and then hears a voice. Both are replete with comfort and consolation, and well fitted to dismiss and dispel all fear. The vision—It is the Lord holding a cluster of stars in His hand, and encircled with seven golden candlesticks; in gracious love moving in the midst of the Church militant; feeding each candlestick with the oil of His grace, and keeping every star in its sphere in the firmament. The voice—The vanished hand does touch, the stilled voice is once more heard: “He laid His right hand upon me, and said, Fear not.”

It would remind Him of that memorable morning descent, after the night of seraphic bliss on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the heavenly messengers had come and gone, and he and his companion-Apostles were returning back to the dull world again. “Alone!”—”yet not alone!” “When they lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Bereft they were of their celestial companions; but they had One compensating solace for all they had lost. The stars and satellites and moons had waxed and waned and departed—the candle-lights had been extinguished; but the great Sun still remained to illuminate their path, and perpetuate the bliss of that glorious hour. It was enough—they asked no more. With His love and presence to cheer them, they pursued the path, ready for duty, for trial, for suffering—animated by the sight of the crown, they descended more willing to bear the cross. So would it be now, in Patmos, as on Hermon.

We have, in this exquisitely tender dealing with John, an assurance of what Jesus still is. First, to His Church universal—”in the midst of it”—keeping the oil from decaying, and the gold from tarnishing, and the stars from abandoning their orbits. Then, also, what He is willing to be to every individual believer—the poorest, the humblest, the lowest, the most obscure—though his heart be a Patmos, lonely and desolate, and his home a desert rock, or a dungeon of captivity, or a hut of poverty, or a chamber of disease, or a bed of death—there He is, to lay His right hand of love on the trembling one, and say, “FEAR NOT!”

 Fear not, poor sinner, trembling under the load of your guilt—’I am He who was dead;’ My death is your life, My blood your plea, My cross the passport to your crown. Fear not, weak and faint-hearted, borne down under your corruptions, the strength of your temptations, the weakness of your graces, the lukewarmness of your love—”I am alive for evermore;” My grace will be sufficient for you.

Fear not, suffering one—you are contending with a great fight of afflictions; trial after trial, like wave after wave, has been rolling in upon you; your house has been swept, ties have been broken, graves opened—the tears scarcely dry when made to flow again. Fear not! I have “the keys of the grave and of death.”

Not one deathbed has been ordered, not one grave dug, not one tear permitted, without My bidding. Are you not satisfied when a Living Redeemer has the Keys of Death suspended from His belt? In whose keeping could they be better than in His? Are you afraid to die? Is the thought of death, of your coming dissolution, fearful to you? “Fear not! I was dead!” I have sanctified that grave and that dark valley by crossing it all before you. I am the abolisher of death; and to all my people I have made the gate of Death and the gate of Heaven one!

JESUS LIVES—what a motto and watchword for us! Many of the most loving and beloved of human friends come only, like Moses and Elias on the mount of which we have spoken, upon angel visits—illuminating the night of earth with a passing yet blessed radiance—then leaving us, like the disciples, amid the chill, gray mists of solitude—our path moist with dewy tears, as we hurry back once more to a cold, unsympathizing world. But blessed antidote to all cares! blessed balm for all wounds! blessed compensation for all losses! blessed solace in all sorrows!—if we can descend from the mountain-heights of worldly bliss to the deepest valleys of humiliation and trial with Him still at our side. Jesus lives!—the Living among the dead—Faithful among the faithless—Changeless among the changeable—the only unfailing, unvarying Friend in a failing, varying world. Jesus lives! Then when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall also appear with Him in glory! Like John, we will fall down at His feet and exclaim, “THIS GOD SHALL BE OUR GOD FOREVER AND EVER!”

“I love to hear that voice of old
Which o’er Patmos’ rocky shore
Thus sweetly spoke, ‘I live; behold,
I am alive for evermore!’

“My Savior lives!—no mortal ears
Can listen to more joyous strains;
High above yonder rolling spheres
My God, and yet my Brother, reigns.

“My Savior lives! He intercedes
Still as the Lamb—the Crucified;
‘Father, I WILL’—’tis thus He pleads—
Ne’er was the boon He asked denied.

“My Savior lives!’—and still His heart
Responsive beats upon the throne
To every pang from which I smart;
He makes my tears and woes His own.

“My Savior lives!’—to see His face
My endless happiness will be;
Lord, independent of all place,
Wherever Thou art, is Heaven to me!”

“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

by John Mac Duff, 1879 from “Paths of Elim” or “Rest and Refreshment in the Valley“, #22

Cast Out

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“Him that comes unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” —John 6:37

Cast out! My soul! how often might this have been your history! You have cast off your God—might He not often have cast out you? Yes! cast you out as fuel for the fire of His wrath—a sapless, fruitless cumberer. And yet, notwithstanding all your ungrateful requital for His unmerited forbearance, He is still declaring, “As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies.”

Your sins may be legion—the sand of the sea may be their befitting type—the thought of their vileness and aggravation may be ready to overwhelm you; but be still! your patient God waits to be gracious! Oh! be deeply humbled and softened because of your guilt, and resolve to dedicate yourself anew to His service, and so coming, “He will by no means cast you out!”

Despond not by reason of former shortcomings—your sins are great, but your Savior’s merits are greater. He is willing to forget all the past, and sink it in oblivion, if there be present love, and the promise of future obedience. “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?”

Ah! how different is God’s verdict from man’s! After such sins as yours, man’s sentence would have been, “I will in nowise receive!” But “it is better to fall into the hands of God, than into the hands of man;” for He says, “I will in nowise cast out!”