(J.R. Miller) “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles!” Isaiah 40:31
A gentleman had an eagle which had been caught when young, and brought up in a cage like a domestic bird. At length the owner was going away over the sea, and decided to give the eagle its freedom. So he brought it out of its cage, and it walked about, but seemed to have no thought whatever of flying away. The gentleman was disappointed. At length he lifted the great bird to the garden wall. It stood there a moment, and then looked up toward the sun. It seemed suddenly to remember that it was an eagle, whose home was amid the crags and the cliffs. A moment more and it lifted one wing, then the other, and was gone–soaring away into the blue of the sky! Continue reading
(J.R. Miller, 1893)
A California stagecoach driver had held the leather reins for so many years, that when he began to grow old, his hands were crooked into hooks, and his fingers were so stiffened into that shape–that they could not be straightened out.
There is a similar process that goes on in men’s minds and souls, when they continue to do the same things over and over. If you are trained, and train yourself, from childhood . . .
to be gentle and patient,
to control your temper,
to resist all wrong–
your life will grow into moral beauty, and the peacefulness of your heart will at length shine upon your very face.
“Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
“In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” Titus 2:7
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2
Unbelievers do not read the Bible, nor come to church to hear the gospel message. All that they learn about Christ and the Christian life–they must learn from those who bear Christ’s name and represent Him–as they view our character.
“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 happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13
“All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast!” Proverbs 15:15
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.” Ecclesiastes 3:12
“There is a time to weep–and a time to laugh; a time to mourn–and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:4
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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(James Smith, “Comfort for Christians!”)
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us! God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
The sweeter the truth–the more backward we often are to receive and believe it. Therefore it must be presented to us again and again. What is more pleasant, than the fact that “God is love”?
Yet so quickly we doubt it, or forget it, or fail to realize it. Therefore the Gospel presents it to us again and again, and in almost every possible form. Twice within the scope of a few verses, John tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16).