From the “Letters of John Newton”
I am bound to speak well of my Physician–He treats me with great tenderness, and bids me in due time to expect a perfect cure. I know too much of Him (though I know but little) to doubt either His skill or His promise.
It is true, I have suffered sad relapses since I have been under His care. Yet I confess that the fault has not been His–but my own! I am a perverse and unruly patient! I have too often neglected His prescriptions, and broken the regimen He appoints me to observe. This perverseness, joined to the exceeding obstinacy of my disorders, would have caused me to be turned out as an incurable long ago–had I been under any other hand but His! Indeed–there is none like Him! When I have brought myself very low–He has still helped me. Blessed be His name–I am yet kept alive only by means of His perfect care.
Though His medicines are all beneficial–they are not all pleasant. Now and then He gives me a pleasant cordial; but I have many severe disorders, in which there is a needs-be for my frequently taking His bitter and unpalatable medicines!
We sometimes see published in the newspapers, acknowledgments of cures received. Methinks, if I were to publish my own case, that it would run something like this:
“I, John Newton, have long laboured under a multitude of grievous disorders:
a fever of ungoverned passions,
a cancer of pride,
a frenzy of wild imaginations,
a severe lethargy, and
a deadly stroke!
In this deplorable situation, I suffered many things from many physicians, spent every penny I had–yet only grew worse and worse!
In this condition, Jesus, the Physician of souls, found me when I sought Him not. He undertook my recovery freely, without money and without price–these are His terms with all His patients! My fever is now abated, my senses are restored, my faculties are enlivened! In a word, I am a new man! And from His ability, His promise, and the experience of what He has already done–I have the fullest assurance that He will infallibly and perfectly heal me–and that I shall live forever as a monument of His power and grace!”
Few days back, I had to endure some severe pain in my body. No medication, no pain killer, nothing worked. I was in tears because of the intensity of the pain. My entire family did not know how to deal with the situation. Though some suggested that I should be admitted to the hospital right away, I was in no condition to travel.
In such a severe pain, I wanted to divert my mind and opened my email, and there was this email I receive daily from gracegems.org, with the title, “HE cannot love you more – and He will not love you less.” As soon as I saw the heading, to be honest, my mind thought that it is going to be a devotional, where it says, God loves you so much and He would deliver you from this affliction… apparently, my mind has become so tuned to this century Christian teaching. But it was a devotional from Spurgeon and it was exactly opposite to what I thought… and it brought tears into my eyes… tears of joy and tears of love. And I surrendered myself, with all the pain and affliction, to the love of God and soon, the pain became tolerable. This is the devotional.
He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less! – Charles Spurgeon
“Having loved His own who were in the world–He loved them to the very end!” – John 13:1
Christian, God’s love to you is always the same. He cannot love you more–and He will not love you less!
Never, when afflictions multiply, when terrors frighten you or when your distresses abound–does God’s love falter or flag. Let the rod fall ever so heavily upon you–the hand that moves, like the heart that prompts the stroke, is full of love! Judge not the Lord by feeble sense–but trust Him for His grace. Whether He brings you down into the depths of misery, or lifts you up into the seventh Heaven of delight–His faithful love never varies or fluctuates–it is everlasting in its continuity!
“His faithful love endures forever!” – Psalm 136:1
“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love!” – Jeremiah 31:3
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!” – Lamentations 3:22
Today we were eating a black cake, which was delicious. As we were making slices, one of the believers was there, so we gave her a slice too. She really enjoyed it and quite innocently, she asked us: “Is this cake made of Ragi flour?”
We ended up laughing so hard, she was quite embarrassed. Then I explained to her, that when she does not know what something is, she should just ask what it is, instead of trying to associate with something she knows. I don’t know if she understood what I meant.
But it made me thinking. She is quite uneducated and all she knew was the pulses that are typical Indian. So, when she ate something that looked black, she assumed it to be made of Ragi flour. While it was funny, I also realized something.
I am reading the Book of Job now and as I am reading, I saw many verses there, which have arguments defending God Almighty. And, I had used the same kind of arguments in the past to defend God, and in one case, I had used literally the same words. But the sad thing is all those verses were used by the friends of Job, who ended up accusing him of being wicked and then being reprimanded by our Lord.
By the grace of God, I don’t use such arguments anymore. But I realized that I too had a Ragi-flour-cake mentality. I did not know how great our Lord is; I had not understood how vast His love is for us; and, I had no inkling of what grace really meant. Whatever I knew little, whatever I had known from my little experiences, I had tried to defend the Lord. And now, I am ashamed how shallow I had been.
Lord, forgive me for all those instances where I tried to defend You with my “ragi-flour-mentality.” Instead of letting Your Son and His great sacrifice at Calvary take the centre stage, I let my little understanding and knowledge to explain Your ways. I deeply regret those who were hurt by me. May Jesus, Him crucified, be all in all in my conversations. May Your grace and mercy guide me in all my conversations. May Your Name alone be magnified. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Enoch walked with God. – Genesis 5:24
This is an astounding statement: ‘Enoch’, a sinful man like you and me, ‘walked with God’! And ‘he had this testimony, that he pleased God’. In his daily life Enoch walked in company with the living God, living in God’s presence as his constant Friend, in whom he confided and by whom he was loved. What kind of man was Enoch? What kind of life did he live? The answer is clear: Enoch was a man of faith, and he lived a life of faith. He was not a sinless man. He did not live a higher life, a deeper life or a holier life than anyone else who lives by faith. It was not Enoch’s conduct, his personality, or his disposition that pleased God, but his faith in Christ (Hebrews 11:5-6).
There was nothing at all remarkable about the character or works of this man Enoch by nature, which caused God to look upon him with pleasure. Enoch did not win God’s favor by something he did. God was pleased with Enoch, because Enoch believed God. He believed that which God has spoken. Enoch’s faith was the same as Abel’s before him and Noah’s after him. The faith by which Enoch walked with God and pleased God was the same faith that the dying thief possessed. And it is the faith of God’s elect today.
My friend, walking with God is neither more nor less than believing God. The only way anyone can walk with God and please God is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No man pleases God, but his Son. No man walks with God, but his Son. And the only way any fallen child of Adam can please God and walk with God is by faith in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our sanctification, like our justification, is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We grow in grace as we grow in faith. Having begun in the Spirit, we are not now made perfect by the flesh. We do not begin and go a certain distance by faith in Christ, and then finish our course by the works of the law. To walk with God is to continue as we began — by faith in Christ. ‘As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith.’
– From “Grace for Today” by Donald Fortner
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “ – Luke 2:10-11
Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Are you sinner? Is your guilty conscience haunting you? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Friend of sinners.
Are you afraid that your sins are so dark, and you are scared that you are lost forever? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, Who came to save the sinners – even the worst of them.
Are you afraid that you are like a lost sheep, gone astray from the paths of righteousness? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Great Shepherd Who seeks those sheep that are lost.
Are you afraid that your sins are so blatant that everyone knows and are condemning to the eternal fire that is the hell? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Compassionate Judge Who says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on, sin no more.”
Are you afraid that you are unclean and unworthy of God’s kingdom? Do not be afraid, for born to you is a Savior, the Loving Lord, Who stretches His hand and touches you, saying, “I will; be clean.”
“There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer,
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King.”
A few years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, “If Christ had not come.” It was founded upon our Saviour’s words, “If I had not come.” The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.
In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Saviour had disappeared.
A ring at the door-bell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with, the weeping child and as he reached the home he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.
Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of a glorious resurrection, no open Heaven, but only “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” and one long eternal farewell. He realized at length that “He had not come,” and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.
Suddenly he woke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:
“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,
O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.”
Let us be glad and rejoice today, because “He has come.” And let us remember the annunciation of the angel, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).
“He comes to make His blessing flow,
Far as the curse is found.”
May our hearts go out to the people in heathen lands who have no blessed Christmas day. “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared.” (Nehemiah 8:10).
J.B. Phillips, in The Visited Planet, tells the Christmas story from the viewpoint of the angels. In one dramatic scene, a senior angel is showing a very young angel around the splendors of the universe. They view whirling galaxies and blazing suns, and then flit across the infinite distances of space until at last they enter one particular galaxy of 500 billion stars.
As the two of them drew near to the star which we call our sun and to its circling planets, the senior angel pointed to a small and rather insignificant sphere turning very slowly on its axis. It looked as dull as a dirty tennis-ball to the little angel, whose mind was filled with the size and glory of all he had already seen.
“I want you to watch that one particularly,” said the senior angel, pointing with his finger.
“Well, it looks very small and rather dirty to me,” said the little angel. “What’s so special about that one?”
The little then angel listened in stunned disbelief as the senior angel told him that this terrestrial ball was, in fact, the renowned Visited Planet.
“Do you mean that our great and glorious Prince…went down in Person to this fifth-rate little ball? Why should He do a thing like that?” the little angel asked, his face wrinkled in disgust. “Do you mean to tell me,” he said, “that He stooped so low as to become one of those creeping, crawling creatures of that floating ball?”
“I do,” said the senior angle. “And I don’t think He would like you to call them ‘creeping, crawling creatures’ in that tone of voice. For, strange as it may seem to us, He loves them. He went down to visit them to lift them up to become like Him.”
The little angel looked blank. Such a thought was almost beyond his comprehension. And then he whispered, “O Lord, make me more and more like You.”
Once I heard a song of sweetness,
As it cleft the morning air,
Sounding in its blest completeness,
Like a tender, pleading prayer;
And I sought to find the singer,
Whence the wondrous song was borne;
And I found a bird, sore wounded,
Pinioned by a cruel thorn.
I have seen a soul in sadness,
While its wings with pain were furl”d,
Giving hope, and cheer and gladness
That should bless a weeping world;
And I knew that life of sweetness,
Was of pain and sorrow row borne,
And a stricken soul was singing,
With its heart against a thorn.
Ye are told of One who loved you,
Of a Saviour crucified,
Ye are told of nails that pinioned,
And a spear that pierced His side;
Ye are told of cruel scourging,
Of a Saviour bearing scorn,
And He died for your salvation,
With His brow against a thorn.
Ye “are not above the Master.”
Will you breathe a sweet refrain?
And His grace will be sufficient,
When your heart is pierced with pain.
Will you live to bless His loved ones,
Tho” your life be bruised and torn,
Like the bird that sang so sweetly,
With its heart against a thorn?