Friday, July 24, 2009

The Word - Amazing Grace

It’s Friday my Friends!!
I pray that you had a good and productive week and that you could see God’s grace in your life. It was a very productive week here in LA, I am enjoying the training at USC (University of Southern California).

Ephesians 2:4-9
4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.

Sometimes being death does not mean that you are 6 feet in the earth. You can be spiritually death and buried, in form of depression, sickness or buried in immoral lifestyle. Such was the live of John Newton born in London in 1725, son of a commander merchant ship. His mother a devoted woman of God raised him a child of God, she taught him to read scripture and sing the hymns and prayed that John would become a Pastor when he grew up. His mother passed away when he was 7 years, his father send him to boarding school but soon he abandon school to work on a ship. He adopted the immoral life style of the sea, which is full of temptations and gave in to debauchery (excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures; intemperance.
A few years later he was captured and was forced to serve in the navy, he managed to escape but they got him back and made him serve in the lowest rank on board. In his journal he wrote, “My heart was full of indignation, shame and fear. I was now brought down to a level with the lowest and exposed to the insults of all. My breast was filled with the most excruciating passions, bitter rage and black despair.
He pleaded to be removed from the navy and his request was granted. He then joined another ship; he didn’t know that he was about to be part of the most hideous business, the slave trade. The transportation of slaves was very inhumane and cruel.
One night he faced a storm at sea as he struggled to keep the ship under control, he knew he was having an encounter with God. It must have been a very tough storm as he surrendered to God shouting “Lord have mercy on us”. He recorded in his journal his reflections on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far And grace will lead me home.

He continued in the slave trade after the conversion but tried to give better conditions to the slaves. From 1755 to 1760 Newton was surveyor of tides at Liverpool, where he came to know George Whitefield, deacon in the Church of England, evangelistic preacher, and leader of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. Newton became Whitefield’s enthusiastic disciple. He decided to become a minister and applied to the Archbishop of York for ordination. The Archbishop refused his request, but Newton persisted in his goal, and he was subsequently ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln and accepted the curacy of Olney, Buckinghamshire. Newton was not only a prolific hymn writer but also kept extensive journals and wrote many letters. Historians accredit his journals and letters for much of what is known today about the eighteenth century slave trade. Newton was not only a prolific hymn writer but also kept extensive journals and wrote many letters. Historians accredit his journals and letters for much of what is known today about the eighteenth century slave trade.

The Lord has promised good to me His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.

It has been said that the Grace of God is mostly cherished by those who have walked far from the light of God. During this week you have read about men who were devoted to God and lived a life to honor God. They all kept a journal and penned down their pains in life and the inner joy of having a friend like Christ. Today we read of a man who had a mother who invested in her child and prayed deligintly for the future of her son. John commented that “the scriptures and hymns followed me all the days of my life”. He repented from his sins and made peace with God, God accepted him with open arms not because of any of John’s deeds after he repented but because
of God’s AMAZING GRACE…

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil, A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below, Will be forever mine.

Join me in prayer and reflect on the stories you have read about and share them with others. If a Friend is where John used to be, here is a little prayer you can say from the bottom of your heart: Lord I repent of my sins and I open my heart to you and invite you in, recognizing Christ as your son, my Lord and Savior.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil, A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below, Will be forever mine.

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