Weekly Newsletter

Pastor David’s Weekly Devotional
     Growing in godliness can be both exhilarating and discouraging; exhilarating as we see ourselves making tangible steps toward spiritual maturity, and discouraging as we see our spiritual growth slow and sometimes waning.  This struggle is beautifully and accurately, described in a hymn by John Newton in 1779.  John Newton (1725-1807) was a devoted husband, faithful pastor, and prolific hymn-writer (author of the most famous hymn “Amazing Grace”).  But this hardly tells the story of his life.  Newton was born in London (1725) to a godly mother and an irreligious, sea-faring father.  His mother died of tuberculosis about two weeks before Newton’s seventh birthday.  By the time he was eleven, Newton was basically a sailor.  His life chronicles one tragedy after another, which culminated in dissipation, enslavement, and disgrace.  According to Newton, chief among his sins was being a slave-trading sea-captain for several years.  It wasn’t until after he suffered an epileptic seizure (or severe stroke) in 1754, which effectively ended his sailing career, that Newton gave up slave trading.

     From this point on, in 1755 (about 30 years of age), Newton’s life was forever changed.  With a renewed faith in Christ, and influence from godly men such as George Whitefield, John Wesley, and William Carey, he began pastoring and writing hymns.  It wasn’t until he was in his fifties (1779) that Newton published Olney Hymns, a hymnal that featured such songs as “Amazing Grace” and “I asked the Lord that I Might Grow” – both beautifully describing God’s sovereign love and grace.

     When I think about all the suffering Newton endured and caused in his life, and that God redeemed this man to be a faithful preacher and pastor, I cannot help to praise the Lord and to pray that He make me more like Christ.  But this prayer comes with a caveat.  As Newton’s hymn depicts, spiritual growth is neither profitless nor painless.
 
I asked the Lord that I might grow / In faith and love and ev'ry grace
Might more of His salvation know / And seek more earnestly His face
 
'Twas He who taught me thus to pray / And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way / As almost drove me to despair
 
I hoped that in some favored hour / At once He'd answer my request
And by His love's constraining power / Subdue my sins and give me rest
 
Instead of this He made me feel / The hidden evils of the heart
And let the angry powers of hell / Assault my soul in ev'ry part
 
Yea more with His own hand He seemed / Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I'd schemed / Humbled my heart and laid me low
 
Lord why is this I trembling cried / Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death
'Tis in this way the Lord replied / I answer prayer for grace and faith
 
These inward trials I employ / From self and pride to set you free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy / That thou may'st find your all in Me
 “I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow” by John Newton (written in 1779) © public domain

Together in and for Christ,
Pastor David

Scripture Readings for the Week (Monday – Sunday ~ Week #11):
Genesis 40-43; 1 Samuel 1-5; Psalm 30-32; Job 21-22; Isaiah 56-61; Mark 1-2; 1 Corinthians 5-6
Recommended Reading:
“Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald S. Whitney

1 Comment


Robert Duffy - March 14th, 2022 at 4:00pm

I’ve never heard of this hymn before, but it’s a new favorite…