The wise J. C. Ryle writes:
The first beginnings of the work of grace in a sinner are generally exceedingly small. It is like the mixture of leaven with a lump of dough:
A single sentence of a sermon…
A single verse of Holy Scripture…
A word of rebuke from a friend…
A casual religious remark overheard…
A tract given by a stranger…
A trifling act of kindness received from a Christian…
…some of these things are often the starting-point in the life of a soul. The first acts of the spiritual life are often small in the extreme–so small, that for a long time they are not known except by the person who is the subject of them, and even by them not fully understood:
A few serious thoughts and prickings of conscience…
A desire to pray for real and not formally…
A determination to begin reading the Bible in private…
A gradual drawing towards means of grace…
An increasing interest in the subject of religion…
A growing distaste for evil habits and bad companions…
…these are often the first symptoms of grace beginning to move the heart of man. They are symptoms which worldly men may not perceive, and ignorant believers may despise, and even old Christians may mistake. Yet they are often the first steps in the mighty business of conversion. They are often the “leaven” of grace working in a heart.
~ J.C. Ryle
Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke vol. 2 , Banner of Truth, 1998, 126, 127.
PS: I always enjoy reading Ryle. I find these compact volumes some of the best Christian reading in print today! – pdb
While the mainstream media spotlights Tiger Woods’ affairs and troubles, and while others “throw stones” here is Fox News commentator, and professing Christian, BRIT HUME discussing his advice to Tiger: flee to Christ for forgiveness. The video clip is HERE at YouTube.
(Thanks to follow blogger Russ Gaippe for pointing me to this).
Today I have been incredibly humbled as I consider my Christian conversion 30 years ago this July 11th. I was 18 and just out of high school when I was, by grace, born again by the Spirit of God. Perhaps I will post a short testimony in the days ahead.
But now, on this day, I pause in awe of this great God of wonders, who pardons the sins of men, and draws us in to feast on fellowship with Him! Praise the Lord with me — with this great hymn of wonder and praise!
How sweet and awesome is this place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!
Here every bowel of our God
With soft compassion rolls;
Here peace and pardon bought with blood
Is food for dying souls.
While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?
“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”
’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.
Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.
We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.
Amazing grace to us is preceding by an amazing God! A wonderful truth about the character of our God is expressed in Isaiah 30:18, the text from my sermon yesterday —
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
Waiting? Why would God wait to be gracious to His people? A good answer is found in the writing of a great baptist divine of nineteenth century England, John Gill —
[The LORD] waits till the set time comes to arise and have mercy on them; he has taken up thoughts and resolutions of grace and favor concerning them, and has fixed the time when he will show it; and he is, as it were, panting and longing after it, as the word used signifies, until it is up; he waits for the fittest and most proper time to show mercy; when things are brought to the worst, to the greatest extremity, and when his people are brought to a sense of their danger, and of their sins, and to repentance for them, and to see their need of his help and salvation, and to implore it, and to depend upon him for it; then, in the mount of difficulty, and in the most seasonable time, does the Lord appear; and hereby the mercy is the sweeter to them, and
his grace is the more magnified towards them: so he waits to be gracious to his people….
If you see your need of Him now, you need not wait. Flee to Christ Jesus the Lord for grace and mercy. There is no safer nor sweeter refuge to be found.
P.S. — I must share this too: we have a report that after the service yesterday, a young mother who has been attending CPCC for just a few months, prayed to confess her sins and profess faith in Christ Jesus as her Savior and Lord. PTL for this new believer! Amazing grace! Amazing God!