Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Year with Newton #17

Today I am continuing to share my reading experience with John Newton. I have completed John Newton's sermon series on Handel's Messiah. I am moving on to his LETTERS. 

Today I'm sharing snippets from "Desires Unrealized" which dates from 1772.
"You cannot do the things that you would." (Gal. 5:17) This is an humbling, but a just account of a Christian’s attainments in the present life, and is equally applicable to the strongest and to the weakest. The weakest need not say less, the strongest will hardly venture to say more.
It would be easy to make out a long list of particulars which a believer would do if he could, but in which, from first to last, he finds a mortifying inability.
1. He would willingly enjoy God in prayer. He knows that prayer is his duty; but, in his judgment, he considers it likewise as his greatest honor and privilege.
But, alas! how seldom can he do as he would. How often does he find this privilege a mere task, which he would be glad of a just excuse to omit! And the chief pleasure he derives from the performance is to think that his task is finished: he has been drawing near to God with his lips, while his heart was far from Him.
2. The like may be said of reading the Scriptures. He believes them to be the Word of God; he admires the wisdom and grace of the doctrines, the beauty of the precepts, the richness and suitableness of the promises; and therefore, with David, he accounts it preferable to thousands of gold and silver, and sweeter than honey or the honeycomb. Yet while he thus thinks of it, and desires that it may dwell in him richly, and be his meditation night and day, he cannot do as he would. It will require some resolution to persist in reading a portion of it every day; and even then his heart is often less engaged than when reading a pamphlet.
Here again his privilege frequently dwindles into a task. His appetite is vitiated, so that he has but little relish for the food of his soul.
3. He would willingly have abiding, admiring thoughts of the Person and love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Glad is he, indeed, of those occasions which recall the Savior to his mind; and with this view notwithstanding all discouragements, he perseveres in attempting to pray and read, and waits upon ordinances. Yet he cannot do as he would.
Ah! what trifles are capable of shutting out of our thoughts, of whom we say, He is the Beloved of our souls, who loved us, and gave Himself for us, and whom we have deliberately chosen as our chief good and portion.
4. He would willingly acquiesce in all the dispensations of Divine providence. He believes that all events are under the direction of infinite wisdom and goodness, and shall surely issue in the glory of God and the good of those who fear Him. He doubts not but the hairs of his head are all numbered—that the blessings of every kind which he possesses were bestowed upon him, and are preserved to him by the bounty and special favor of the Lord whom he serves; that afflictions spring not out of the ground, but are fruits and tokens of Divine love, no less than his comforts—that there is a needs-be, whenever for a season he is in heaviness.
Alas! How vain is man in his best estate! How much weakness and inconsistency, even in those whose hearts are right with the Lord! And what reason have we to confess that we are unworthy, unprofitable servants!
The more vile we are in our own eyes--the more precious will Jesus be to us. A deep repeated sense of the evil of our hearts is necessary to preclude all boasting, and to make us willing to give the whole glory of our salvation where it is due.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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