A Measure Above | John Newton

In a letter to a friend, John Newton helped him view things as they really are.

To see life through spiritual eyes is uplifting – no matter the storm.

“Encompassed as we are with snares, temptations, and infirmities, it is possible (by His promised assistance) to live in some good measure above the world—above the influence of its cares, its smiles, or its frowns.

Our citizenship is in heaven—we are not at home—but only reside here on earth for a season, to fulfill our appointed service.

The Lord, whom we serve, has promised that He will guide us by His wisdom, strengthen us by His power, and comfort us with the light of His countenance, which is better than life. Every temporal blessing we receive from Him, is a token of His favor, and a pledge of that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which He has reserved for us in heaven.

Oh! to hear Him say at last, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Lord!’ will be rich amends for all that we can lose, suffer, or endure, for His sake!”

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined—what God has prepared for those who love Him!”

~1 Corinthians 2:9

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home,
And grace will lead us home.

~John Newton, Amazing Grace

You can read the entire letter here. Several of John Newton’s letters are posted at Grace Gems. And, if you’ve got a long commute, it would be encouraging to listen to  John Piper’s talk on John Newton.

In Christ

It refreshes the soul to pause and reflect on what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

“A Christian is one who has been ‘crucified with Christ,’ who has died with Him, been buried with Him, risen with Him, ascended with Him, and is seated ‘in heavenly places’ with Him. (Romans 6:3-8; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:5,6; Colossians 3:1-3)

As such he reckons himself dead unto sin, but alive unto God. (Romans 6:11)

As such he does not yield his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but he yields himself unto God, as alive from the dead, and his members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

As such he seeks ‘the things which are above,’ and sets his affection on things above, mortifying his ‘members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil [desire] and covetousness, which is idolatry.'” (Colossians 3:1-5)

~Horatius Bonar from God’s Way of Holiness

I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down thy head upon My breast.’
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.

Horatius Bonar was a Scottish minister, hymn writer, and poet who lived in the 19th century.

His Sacrifice, Our Hope

“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not graciously give us all things?”

~Romans 8:32

The circumstances of life can bring us to a state of hopelessness. Thankfully, God uses many means  – coupled with His Spirit – to renew our hope. Among those means are God’s Word, caring friends, and faithful ministers of today and long ago.

One of those faithful ministers is Reverend Henry Law. He reminded 18th century believers (and you and me today) that there’s fresh hope found in reflecting on Jesus Christ and His sacrifice at Calvary.

“Hope is renewed in strength and mounts up with wings as eagles, when it contemplates what Christ has suffered for His people. He has redeemed them, but with what price!

He paid not silver and gold for their ransom. He gave not all the precious things of earth as their equivalent. He heaped not worlds upon worlds and placed them as payment in the balance of God’s justice. All  such expenditure would have been unfailing as the chaff.

He gave Himself, His life, His blood. He gave so much that He could give no more; and He gave this to bear the extremest curse of God, to endure all the punishment, and all the miseries, and all the anguish which His people must have suffered if they had wailed through all the endless ages amid the torments of the lost.

Hope sweetly reasons. He who has done so much, will He not surely give all that His people really need! Therefore it treads down all hosts of doubt, and against all timidities of reason, ‘laughs at impossibilities, and says, It shall be done!’

O Lord, we look to thy suffering Cross as our sure Hope.”

~Henry Law from Christ Is All

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

~Psalm 42:5

Why ‘Fear Not?’

There’s no doubt that our Good Shepherd knows how easily and often His sheep are frightened. His response is to urge us not to fear because He is with us.

Frances Havergal wrote several hymns including Take My Life and Let It Be. She also authored many books. In her little devotional, Royal Commandments; or, Morning Thoughts for the King’s Servants, she spent some time focusing on the issue of fear. Hopefully, you’ll find it beneficial.

“Would our King tell us again and again, ‘Fear not!’ if there were any reason at all to fear?

Would He say this kind word again and again … only to mock us, if He knew all the time that we could not possibly help fearing?

Only give half an hour to seeking out the reasons He gives why we are not to fear, and the all-inclusive circumstances in which He says we are not to fear; see how we are to fear nothing, and no one, and never, and nowhere; see how He Himself is in every case the foundation and the grand reason of His command, His presence and His power always behind it and then shall we hesitate to say, ‘I will fear no evil for Thou art with me’? Shall we even fancy there is any answer to those grand and forever unanswered questions, ‘The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’

There is a ‘fear not’ for every possible case and kind of fear; so that we have never any answer to give when He asks, ‘Why are you fearful?’ but we are ‘without excuse.’

It is part of His holy covenant that we should serve Him without fear. It is one of His precious promises that ‘thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear.’ It is one of the blessed results of His reign that His flock shall fear no more.’

It is no impossible thing, but the simple natural consequence of really seeking and really trusting the Lord, that He will deliver us not from some, but from all our fears. He did this for David, will He be less kind to you and me?”

~Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879)

[F]ear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

~ Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

A Greater Treasure

In his classic, The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer wrote, “The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.

Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them,  the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight.

Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.

O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.”   

May this new year find God working in our hearts in such a way that He becomes more and more of a treasure to us.

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.”

~ Psalm 73:25 (ESV)

Following Wise Men

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.'”

~Matthew 2:1-2 (ESV)

Charles Simeon used the Christmas story to stir the hearts of those in his flock to a more consecrated life. Here’s a small portion of his sermon that day as he spoke about “the wise men from the east.”

“Let us not regard any scoffs, difficulties, or dangers that we may have to encounter in the way of our duty. Doubtless, the [wise men] found many obstacles in their way; but they persisted to the end; and never ceased from their labor, till they had found Him whom they sought. Thus, let us resolutely seek the Lord Jesus, till we have found Him. He is pointed out to us, not by a star, but by “the more sure word of the Gospel.” …

[H]aving found Jesus, let us present to Him all that we are, and all that we have. Let our body, soul, and spirit be consecrated to Him. Let us confess Him as “King of kings, and Lord of lords;” let us devote to Him our silver and our gold; and let us glorify Him with our body and our spirit, which are His. This is our reasonable service; and if we be backward to render it unto Him, surely [the wise men] will rise up in judgment against us; for if they so honored Him, when they saw Him as a babe in swaddling clothes, much more should we, who viewed Him seated on His throne of glory.”

~Charles Simeon, 1759-1836

Charles Simeon served for 49 years as the pastor of Trinity Church in Cambridge, England. Read or listen to Dr. John Piper’s meditations on this faithful believer’s life by clicking here.

You can access Reverend Simeon’s entire sermon here.