Devotional – Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How Sweet the Sound

Perhaps you are familiar with the name, John Newton, (1725-1807), United Kingdom. The following is an epitaph written by Newton himself, now carved in stone at his gravesite.

John Newton. Clerk. Once an infidel and libertine a servant {to slave trader} of slaves in Africa was by the rich mercy of our LORD and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST preserved, restored, pardoned and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.

John Newton converted to Christianity at the age of twenty-three and continued to command a slave ship for the next six years as well as educate himself by reading the Bible and classic literature. Later in becoming a pastor he began to publish hymns and it was during this time he began to deeply regret his former involvement in the slave trade and licentious life style. In 1772 this English poet and Anglican clergyman, John Newton, wrote, Amazing Grace, published in 1779. A wonderful testimony, but his full story is more complex.

At age six, his Puritan mother died and he went to sea with his stern father. While on shore as a rebellious teen he missed his ship’s departure, was captured and “press-ganged” aboard H.M.S. Harwich. Newton rebelled against harsh treatment and deserted. When caught, he was put in irons and flogged, yet, he remained a rebellious and ardent libertine. Later he was employed by a West African slave-trader who owned a lemon plantation. Newton was assigned to the slaver’s African mistress who treated him cruelly as she did other slaves and ultimately he was reduced to rags and to begging for food.

What does Grace sound like? How does one know when that amazing sweet oil has reached the inner ear and seeped into the soul? Last week I wrote about hearing and that faith comes specifically by hearing the Word of God. John Newton was a guilty man, condemned by his consciousness of horrific sins. He was also an angry man, mistreated by others, a victim of misfortune, violence, indentured service and pain. That is, until he heard. He heard the Word of God declaring how much more shall the blood of Christ . . . purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God. . . and that Jesus has died as a ransom to set you free from sin and condemnation. (Hebrews 9:14-15). Through Jesus Christ we are forgiven and are free to forgive. This good news is truly amazing and the sound is truly sweet. When John found freedom, not only for what he had done to others, but for what others had done to him, he knew without doubt that he was hearing the amazing Grace of God and oh, how sweet that sound.

I know who I was. I know who I am now. I have no story like John Newton, but I do have my own. Jesus changed my life. He took for me and from me a collection of hurt, resentment and bitterness which I had not only toward others but toward God as well. All of that stuff in me has been crucified with Christ and the life that I now live and the sweet sound that I now hear is that, day by day, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, in these days of turmoil when tensions rise and sounds of strife and anger grow ever loud throughout our land, offer a sweeter sound instead. Tell your story. Speak of God’s Grace, be heard and be amazed. To offend and/or be offended is human; to love and forgive is divine. It is God’s Amazing Grace.

Offered by Dak McInnis

Our devotionals are going out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, with an occasional lagniappe issue. Please look for these congregation devotionals in your email box at about 6:45 a.m.

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