“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son!” Romans 8:29
No sooner do we begin to behold the beauteous face which looks out at us from the gospel chapters, than a great hope springs up in our hearts–we can become like Jesus! Indeed, if we are God’s children, we shall become like Him. We are predestined to be conformed to His image!
It matters not how faintly the Divine beauty glimmers now in our soiled and imperfect lives–some day we shall be like Him! As we struggle here with imperfections and infirmities, with scarcely a trace of Christlikeness yet apparent in our life, we still may say, when we catch glimpses of the glorious loveliness of Christ, “Some day I shall be like that!”
“We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!” 1 John 3:2
A minister lay dying in Scotland. A fellow-minister called to see him, and inquired, “Well, my brother, what are you doing?”
“Doing?” answered the dying servant of God. “Doing? I will tell you: I am gathering together all my prayers and sermons, all my good deeds and bad deeds–and am going to throw them all overboard together, and swim to glory on the plank of free grace!“
“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved!” Acts 15:11
“It is by God’s grace that you have been saved!” Ephesians 2:5
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“He will not break a bruised reed, and He will not put out a smoldering wick.”
What is weaker than the bruised reed–or the smoldering wick?
A reed that grows in the marsh–let but the wild duck land upon it, and it snaps; let but the foot of man brush against it, and it is bruised and broken; every wind that flits across the river–moves it to and fro. You can conceive of nothing more frail or brittle, or whose existence is more in jeopardy, than a bruised reed.
Then look at the smoldering wick–what is it? It has a spark within it, it is true–but it is almost smothered; an infant’s breath might blow it out; nothing has a more precarious existence than its flame. Continue reading
(James Smith, “The Pastor’s Morning Visit”)
“Only acknowledge your iniquity!” Jeremiah 3:13
Will the Lord receive us when we have backslidden from Him, and are desirous of returning to Him? Oh, yes, He invites, He exhorts, He beseeches us to return! Nor does He prescribe any hard conditions–but He says, “Only acknowledge your iniquity!”
He is so ready to forgive, so infinitely gracious in His nature–that if we only confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Have we wandered?
Have we left our first love?
Let us go and return to our first husband, for then it was better with us than now. His affections yearn for us, His arms are open to receive us, and He waits to fall upon our neck and kiss us!
Let us go to His throne of grace–and there . . .
confess our sins,
beg His pardon,
sigh for the enjoyment of His love–
and He will restore unto us the joys of His salvation.
Let us daily confess our iniquities unto the Lord, and He will pardon our numerous sins.
In His favor is life. In His frown is distress and woe.
He delights in mercy.
He will receive us, pardon us, and bless us–like a God!
His mercy endures forever!
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(Joseph Caryl, “Practical Observations on the Book of Job”)
“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him! He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8
We ought not to be satisfied with low degrees of grace; or content ourselves to be like others in grace. We should labor (if it is possible) to go beyond all others in grace. It did not satisfy Job that he had gotten to such a degree, to such a frame and temper of heart, to such a course of holiness–as his neighbors or brethren had attained unto; but he labored to go beyond them all, “There is no one on earth like him!”
It is a holy ambition–to labor to exceed all others in grace and godliness. Continue reading