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April 1, 2007

John Newton spent the early years of his life as the captain of a slave ship, capturing, selling, and transporting African slaves to plantations in the West Indies and America.  He was a man devoid of any moral or Christian virtue.  In the midst of a storm at sea, as death seemed certain, John Newton cried out to God for mercy.

As God delivered John Newton, he came face to face with Godís grace.  As a result of that experience and later conversations with Christians, on May 10, 1748, John Newton came to accept Jesus as his Savior, surrendering his will to his new master.

Today, we remember John Newton as one of 18th Century Englandís greatest preachers and hymn writers.  He is the author of the beloved words, ďAmazing 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.Ē  Words that are a testimony to John Newtonís own relationship with God.

As I am reminded of the story of John Newtonís life and the words he wrote, I cannot help but think of Paulís words, ďFor by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of GodĒ (Ephesians 2:8).  These words exemplify the life of John Newton and each one of us who has been found by the grace of God.

Salvation is the amazing gift of Godís grace.  Which of us can really explain salvation by Godís grace?  By what formula does this gracious salvation work?  What method of human logic or reason can define grace within the understanding of man?

What I know of grace is that in my sin God found me and that through Jesus I know Him.  I do not deserve His grace.  I cannot earn it.  Yet, it is God who chooses to graciously act for the salvation of mankind.

What a  joy it is to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus!  Jesus who died, now resurrected, now glorified, is the means of our salvation!  Celebrating His Resurrection is the celebration of His grace and the certainty of salvation.  Jesus lives and so shall I.

Do you know the joy of His resurrection?  Iím not writing about a religious holiday (Easter), a date on the calendar when we come to church or stuff ourselves with exorbitant amounts of food.  I am writing of the graciousness of God, of resurrected life.

To really celebrate His resurrection is to experience the resurrection of life which comes through personally knowing Jesus Christ.  It is to accept our own sinfulness and inability to come to God, and to seek His forgiveness.  It is to surrender our own will before the graciousness of God, accepting Jesus as our Savior and to make Him the new master of our lives.

If you do not know the joy of resurrected life, I pray that you will receive Godís gracious gift and accept Jesus as your Savior.  During this season of the year as we celebrate His resurrection, and throughout the year, may we  declare His ďAmazing Grace.Ē