Mail from John Newton

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“I think the Lord has seen fit to visit you with much … [illness] of late; I say He has seen fit, for all our trials are under His immediate direction, and we are never in heaviness without a need-be.” 

Hymn writer and pastor John Newton shared that consolation in a letter to an ailing friend in 1768.

One of the things that encourages me most about John Newton’s letters is his confidence that the Lord is the one who orchestrates life’s events – even illness. I find great comfort in that.

The man who brought us Amazing Grace and Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken went on to write:

“How happy is the state of a believer, to have a sure promise that all shall work together for good in the end, and in the meantime a sure refuge where to find present relief, support, and protection!

I trust He does and will give you strength equal to your day, and sweeten what would be otherwise bitter with the essence of His precious love. I hope soon to hear that you are restored to health, and that you have found cause to praise Him for the rod.

How … [comforting] is it, when trouble is near, to know that the Lord is near likewise, and to commit ourselves and all our cares simply to Him, believing that His eye is upon us, and His ear open to our prayers.

Under the conduct of such a Shepherd we need not fear: though we are called to pass through fire and water, through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us, and will shew Himself mighty on our behalf.”

You can read the entire letter here.

Stationed in a War Zone

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This land we live in is a spiritual war zone. Some days it’s more evident than others, but it’s a reality that we live in a fallen world where every day light opposes darkness and good goes head to head with evil.

The believer feels it in his soul. The Apostle Paul did. “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” –Romans 7:21-23

Since we agree we’re in a war zone, then it’s imperative that we resolve to stay alert. The honor of our King is at stake.

So how do we stay alert?

  1. Stay in God’s word. When I neglect the Bible, I start drifting away from the Lord. I let my guard down. I sin.
  2. Determine to spend time alone with God.
  3. Be faithful to rub elbows with saints whose lives and words point you to the things of God.

A saint who always points me Godward is Amy Carmichael, the missionary to India. These thoughts from Amy seem more like commands from a general, a general who understands the dangers of war. Listen closely:

“Comrades, in this solemn fight, this awful conflict with awful powers, let us settle it as something that cannot be shaken.

We are here to live holy, loving lives.

We cannot do this unless we walk very, very close to our Lord Jesus.

Anything that would hinder us from the closest walk that is possible to us, till we see Him face to face, is not for us.”

~Amy Carmichael from God’s Missionary