A Restful Christmas

One of my favorite Christmases was the Christmas after I first became a Christian. I was 25 years old and I remember going to church and singing the Christmas hymns I had sung since I was a child. But that year I could relate to the words of the songs like never before. I knew in my heart that the new born King we were singing about was my King!

Earlier that year, I became a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. My life was different. I had a peace inside like never before and  I wanted to live my life for God.

I hope you can relate to my experience those many years ago. But maybe you can’t. Perhaps you’ve gone to church all your life, but you know in your heart that you’re not a Christian. Others think you are, but you know deep down inside that you’re not.

I understand how you feel. I felt that emptiness, that restlessness, for a long time.

May I encourage you to talk to someone about how you’re feeling? You likely know someone you feel is a true Christian. You’ve watched his or her life and you know that they are a believer. If you’d like to talk to me, you can email me at rickdrob@gmail.com. I’d love to visit with you.

Also, I encourage you to read the Bible and as you’re reading ask God to help you understand what you’re reading. A good place to start is in the book of John.

Life is empty and pointless, unless it’s lived for Jesus Christ. I’m sure you’ve felt that. Someone has said that our lives are restless until they find their rest in Jesus Christ. I know that to be true.

The Bible says to seek the Lord while He may be found. That’s right now. Please don’t delay.

Edward Payson lived a couple centuries ago in America. Here’s a small portion of a message he shared around Christmas one year. He had a heart for those who had not yet found their rest in Jesus.

“Trembling sinner, … permit me to take you by the hand and lead you to Jesus.

Why do you linger, why do you hang back?

It is to Christ, it is to Jesus, it is to the Babe of Bethlehem, to a man like yourselves, to the meek and lowly Savior of sinners, that I would bring you. Here are no terrors, no flaming sword, no burning throne to appall you.

Come, then, to His feet, to His arms, to His heart which overflows with compassion for your perishing souls.

Come and contemplate the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and receive of His fullness grace for grace.”

~Edward Payson, 1783-1827

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

For Unto Us

Here’s a small portion of a Christmas day message from Reverend Edward Payson to help us as we determine – with God’s help – to make this a Christ-centered Christmas season.

“Is it true that unto our sinful race a child is born, to whom belong the wonderful names mentioned in our text, and to whom the salvation and the government of the world is committed? Surely then, my friends, it becomes us to rejoice, and to commemorate this all-important event with most lively emotions of thankfulness and praise.

In this offering all mankind are called upon to join [in], since the gift is to the whole race of men; for all people, and nations, and tongues, and languages, may cry,

‘Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.’

And the song [that started] in one part of the earth at the dawn of this [Christmas day], ought to be echoed round the world as the same day dawns successively on its different chimes.

Even the blessed spirits of the ‘just made perfect’ in heaven may be considered as rejoicing in the birth of the great Deliverer, who redeemed them from worse than Egyptian bondage, brought them into the glorious light and liberty of the children of God, and finally raised them to the blissful mansions which they now inhabit, and where the increase of happiness will never end.

Nay more, the blessed angels themselves, who sang ‘glory to God in the highest,’ when they announced the Saviour’s birth, may be considered as repeating the same song.

Let it give intensity to our joy, that we may now celebrate His birth and resurrection at once.”

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'”

~Luke 2:11-14 (ESV)

Reverend Edward Payson, whose dad was a pastor too, was born in 1783 in Rindge, New Hampshire. His daughter, Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, wrote the familiar hymn, “More Love to Thee.”

Unparalleled Sufferings

” [Jesus] was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; by His stripes we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to His own way and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6

“Here, my friends, we see the true cause of our Savior’s unparalleled sufferings. He was cut off, says the prophet, but not for Himself. He knew no sin, but He was made sin, made a curse for us. We have all strayed from the path of duty. Yes, you and I,  and all our race, have forsaken the God that made us, and chosen the path that leads to hell. God’s violated law condemned us to die.

Justice demanded the execution of the sentence. There was apparently no remedy. It is true that God, as our Creator and Father, bade Him to do it, unless a suitable atonement could be found.

There was but one individual in the universe who could make such an atonement, and that being, prompted by infinite compassion, offered Himself for this purpose.

The Father, with equal love, accepted the offer. To carry it into effect, the Son assumed our nature, and appeared on earth; and the bitter cup, which the divine law condemned us to drink, was put into His hand, and He drank it to the last drop. …

Come then, sympathize with your sorrowing Master in His sufferings. Come and look at this great sight, until sin appears above all things hateful, until Christ appears most precious and lovely, until your hearts are broken for sin, and the love of Christ constrains us to feel and live to Him who died for you.”

~The Complete Works of Edward Payson

The One Far Distant

Some old books are a difficult read for me. That’s not true when it comes to the works of American pastor Edward Payson (1783-1827). Now that I think of it, most all of that I’ve read by him is probably from transcripts of his sermons, his letters, or possibly journal notes – so that may explain it. Regardless, it’s an easy read.

“Suppose two persons equally desirous to gain your affections; one far distant, and not expecting to see you for a long time; the other always present with you, and at liberty to use all means to win your love, able to flatter and gratify you in a thousand ways.

Still you prefer the absent one; and, that you may keep him in remembrance,  you often retire by yourself to think of his love to you, and view again and again the mementos of his affection, to read his letters, and pour out your heart in return.

Such is now your case; the world is always before you, to flatter, promise, and please.

But if you really prefer to love God, you will fix your thoughts on Him, often retire for meditation and prayer, and recount the pleasant gifts of His providence, and especially His infinite mercy to your soul; you will read frequently His Holy Word, which is the letter He has sent you, as real as if it were directed to you by name.”

~The Complete Works of Edward Payson

A More Noble Race

Here’s an excerpt from a sermon Edward Payson preached for New Year’s a couple centuries ago. It’s pretty challenging.

“Too long have I run in the race with men of this world, who have their portion in this life.

Too long have I been a competitor for the worthless prize which they are pursuing. But I will be so no longer.

I forsake the race, I stand aside, and say, Let others pursue and obtain, if they can, the pleasures, the applause, the possessions, which this world offers … I resign them all.

I have another race to run, I have nobler objects to pursue; and to this race, to these objects, to the service of my Savior, and to the pleasures, the honors, the possessions of eternity, I now, in the presence of God, consecrate my future life and all my powers.”

Read the entire sermon here.

~Edward Payson, 1783-1827

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

~Hebrews 12:1-2

Silence Says a Lot


“It is natural to man, from his earliest infancy, to cry for relief when in danger or distress, if he supposes that any one able to relieve him is within hearing of his cries.

Every man then who feels his own dependence upon God, and his need of blessings which God only can bestow, will pray to Him. He will feel that prayer is not only his duty, but his highest privilege.

The man then who refuses or neglects to pray, who regards prayer not as a privilege, but as a wearisome and needless task practically says in the most unequivocal manner, I am not dependent on God; I want nothing that He can give; and therefore I will not come to Him, nor ask anything from His hand.

I will not ask Him to crown my work with success, for I am able, and determined, to be the architect of my own future.

I will not ask Him to instruct or guide me, for I am competent to be my own instructor and guide.

I will not ask Him to strengthen and support me, for I am strong in the vigor and resources of my own mind.

I will not request His protection, for I am able to protect myself.

I will not implore His pardoning mercy nor His sanctifying grace for I have need of neither the one nor the other.

I will not ask His presence and aid in the hour of death.

For I can meet and grapple, unsupported, with the king of terrors, and enter, undaunted and alone, any unknown world into which He may usher me.

Such is the language of all who neglect prayer.”

~Edward Payson, 1783-1827