“That He (God) might show the exceeding riches of His Grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).
John Newton the famous composer of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace” was once the captain of a slave ship carrying Africans as slaves to England in the eighteenth century. On March 10, 1748, his ship was caught in a terrible storm, and when nothing could be done, he was led to read ‘The Imitation of Christ’ by Thomas Kempis.
The Holy Spirit began working in his heart and he accepted the Lord Jesus as his Saviour. Realizing the depravation of the slave trade, he left the ship. The Lord guided him to do His work and encouraged by the eminent evangelist George Whitefield, he plunged into the ministry and became the pastor of a church near Cambridge.
In 1785, when he was the distinguished Pastor of St. Mary Woolnoth in London, he came into contact with William Wilberforce, a young brilliant politician of only 26 years, but already a member of the Parliament. Since he had recently experienced religious awakening, the born-again Wilberforce sought the 64 year old Rev, Newton for council. He wanted to know whether he should resign from Parliament and enter the ministry. Newton advised him not to resign but told him, “God can make you a blessing as a Christian and as a Statesman”.
Young Wilberforce took up the cause of slavery, which Rev. Newton preached against. He addressed the Privy Council which included Prime Minister William Pitt and said, “The slaves lie in two rows, one above the other, on each side of the ship like books upon the shelf. The poor creatures are in irons on both hands and feet. Every morning more instances than one are found of the living and the dead fastened together”. In March 1807, Parliament passed the Wilberforce Bill abolishing slavery. In December that year John Newton passed on to glory in his 82nd year with his last words, “l am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour”.
Amazing Grace, which brought people deliverance from human slavery in England is always abounding to bring deliverance from slavery under the devil and sin through the Saviour Jesus Christ.
Are you still a slave under sin? There is deliverance only in Christ Jesus.
“By Grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God… For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph, 2:8,10).
Taken from the book ‘Truths for the soul” by Dr. Daniel Sundararaj. Published by GLS Publishing.
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You have said, ‘I am overwhelmed with trouble! Haven’t I had enough pain already? And now the Lord has added more! I am worn out from sighing and can find no rest.’ (Jeremiah 45:2-3 NLT)
Baruch was the young scribe that wrote and read to the people Jeremiah’s prophecies. Like Jeremiah, he got a lot of persecution for the prophet’s words. The Lord responded to the scribe’s pain with truth and loving kindness. Baruch found out there is always a cost in following God.
Young disciples often become discouraged when they find out that serving God is not all fun and games. Discipleship, often involves God crossing our will with his. The Lord’s response to Baruch came in the form of correction and encouragement. “Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people, but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (V.5) If we have our eyes focused on the things of this world, be it fame or fortune, we become impatient when difficulties arise. We can develop a spiritualized entitlement mentality. When trouble comes, we lose heart and our passion wanes. When desire diminishes, we can never fulfill our calling.
Attitude is a big part of dealing with adversity. It appears that Baruch had come to the point of blaming God for his predicament (“And now the Lord has added more! V.3). Our response when God crosses our will with his determines when discipleship starts and ends. Discipleship has a cost but also a prize. “I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go” (v.5).
By Ken Barnes
This Revelation of Jesus Christ has to do with His relationship to the Father, to the human race and to the church. It has to do with His relationship to Israel, to the nations, to our enemy the devil and to the coming judgment. Ministers faithful to the Word of God have always said that Christ can be found on every page of
the Bible. In the Revelation, we see Him dominating the eternal future. The message of the book is the almost overwhelming portrayal of Christ’s victory, bringing about thefinall destruction of Satan and all of his works.
Part of our Christian restfulness comes from the fact that we are in the hands of a loving God who
has already existed throughout all of the tomorrows. Because all time is in God, the flow of time never concerns God. He never has to run in an effort to catch up with the movement of time. The end of time is seen by God just as easily as the beginning of time.
That is why the Bible tells us that God knows the end from the beginning. That is why a godly man like John, caught up in the Spirit of God, could be shown the outline of future events. They were future to him, and they are future to us. That is because we are in the stream of time. They are not future to God because He is not in the stream of time.
Taken from the book ‘Jesus is Victor’ by AW Tozer. Published by Gospel Literature Service.
Jesus said in John 16:33 (NIV), “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.”
Jesus had just finished telling His disciples some things that, at that time, they could not fully understand. But, He didn’t leave them clueless. He made a statement of fact: “In this world you will have trouble.” He doesn’t say our troubles will go away. He doesn’t say we will no longer be plagued by fear or doubt. Instead, our solution to a troubled heart, is to find peace in Him. But, He takes that a step further by saying something strange. He tells us to, “take heart,” or, “cheer up.”
So, when we are lonely or depressed, have doubts about our faith or feel the weight of the world pressing us down, we are to “cheer up”? This makes no sense until we read our Lord’s last statement: “I have overcome the world.”
We win our battles when we surrender to Jesus who has already fought them for us. We free ourselves from a bag full of burdens when we lay it at the cross and leave it there. We find peace, in the midst of life’s storms, when we rest in the One who walked upon the water and said, “Peace! Be still.”
He, who was rejected and despised of men, is now our Overcomer. That is definitely something we can all cheer about.
By Bob Valleau
Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Hebrews 2:15 NLT)
Fear is a hard taskmaster. It is the slave master that has no compassion. The foreboding of death is the ultimate fear, yet, Jesus Christ came to deliver us from the dread of dying.
Death is the great equalizer. It matters not if we are rich or poor, black or white, successful or not, if Jesus tarries, we will all have to deal with the grim reaper. We dread our demise so much that we cannot bring ourselves to talk about it. We don’t allow ourselves to even think about it, yet, its reality lies just under the surface of our conscious thoughts. Death is inevitable, but the good news is that the enemy has been defeated. The Apostle Paul mocked death in I Corinthians 15:55 (NLT); O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” When our perishable bodies become imperishable, then “Death is swallowed up in victory” (vs. 53-54). Christ has set us free from the bondage of the fear of death. Matthew Henry has told us that “death is not only a conquered enemy but a reconciled friend.” Barring the rapture of the Saints, the demise of our mortal bodies is the only avenue into eternal bliss. It is not a termination but a transformation from death to life.
Are you walking under the cruel taskmaster of slavery to the fear of dying? If Christ has freed you from the curse of death, you can echo those famous words of Dr. King, and apply them to your soul. “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I am free at last.
By Ken Barnes
‘Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God.’ Luke 8: 11
The good soil of the heart not only receives the Word of God with joy but the seed is held fast and takes root because that soil is full of honesty, humility and goodness. And thus it bears fruit with patient endurance and unshakeable faith in that Word. What is the condition of our hearts?
In times of testing, the crucible where our faith in God is proven, the seed will not fall away onto cynical or doubtful ground, but remain secure and be acted upon. The seed is not choked by the cares and concerns of each day. The pleasures of life are nothing to be compared with the promises of God. The seed’s growth is unhindered by such affairs. Despite temptations and distractions, the seed is embedded deeply in the heart and matures slowly to bear glorious fruit. Finally, the seed is not swept away by the enticements of others. For the heart remains faithful to One voice alone and delights in that familiar voice, ready and eager to obey.
The seed is the Word of God. Our hearts are the arena offering a welcome place for the seed to flourish. Our lives bear evidence to the seed maturing in our heart. What hinders us from providing a place whereby God’s Word can take root and grow? Are we ruminating upon the Word planted in our heart and then acting upon it each day? Let this deep, mysterious work that God is developing be without hindrance or resistance in the depths of our heart.
By Jennifer Woodley