Bulletin Edition February 2021

Near the cross of Jesus!
(Octavius Winslow, “Nearness to the Cross”)

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother….” John 19:25

Take your place with Mary, by the cross of Jesus.

There meet and blend suffering and love, sorrow and
sympathy. Standing in faith by the cross, you are near
the suffering Savior, the loving Son, the sympathizing
Brother born for your present grief. Jesus, in the depth
and tenderness of His love, is at this moment all that
He was when, in soul travail, He cast that ineffable look
of filial love and sympathy upon His anguished mother.

He can….
  enter into your circumstances,
  understand your grief,
  sustain and soothe your spirit
as one only can who has partaken of the cup
of woe which now trembles in your hand.

Drink that cup submissive to His will, for He drank
deeply of it before you, and has left the fragrance
of His sympathy upon its brim.

Your sorrow is not new to Christ.

Stand close to the cross of Jesus!

It is the most accessible and precious spot this
side of heaven; the most solemn and awesome
one this side of eternity.

The cross of Jesus is the focus of
divine love, sympathy, and power.

Stand by it in suffering, in persecution, in
temptation. Stand by it in the brightness of
prosperity and in the gloom of adversity.

Go to Christ’s cross in trouble, repair to it in
weakness, cling to it in danger, hide beneath it
when the wintry storm rushes fiercely over you.

Near to the cross, you are near a Father’s heart, a Savior’s side.

You seem to enter the gate of heaven, to stand
beneath the vestibule of glory. Nothing but love
will welcome your approach to the cross of Jesus;
love that….
  pardons all your sins,
  flows over all your unworthiness,
  heals all your wounds,
  soothes all your sorrows, and
will shelter you within its blessed pavilion until
earth is changed for heaven, and you lay down
the warrior’s sword for the victor’s palm, and
spring from the foot of the cross to the foot
of the throne, “forever with the Lord.”

If the path of prosperity should be chequered—if human props fail—if human refuges reveal themselves to be refuges of lies—if worldly substance be impaired—if earthly love dies—may that which is perishable and corruptible only drive me nearer to the incorruptible—to seek closer and more intimate fellowship with Him in whose presence there is fullness of joy. Thus, trusting You and loving You, let me rise superior to all that is fleeting and fluctuating around.
John MacDuff

Christ’s sleepless vigilance over His people!
(Winslow, “A Word in Season from Christ to the Weary”)

What an exalted and endearing truth is Christ’s
sleepless vigilance over His people!

Imagine yourself threading your way along a
most difficult and perilous path, every step of
which is attended with pain and jeopardy, and
is taken with hesitancy and doubt.

Unknown to you and unseen, there is One
hovering each moment around you, checking
each false step, and guiding each doubtful one;
soothing each sorrow, and supplying each need.

All is calm and silent.

Not a sound is heard, not a movement is seen;
and yet, to your amazement, just at the critical
moment, the needed support comes; you know
not from where, you know not from whom.

This is no picture of imagination.

Are you a child of God on your pilgrimage to
paradise by an intricate and a perilous way?
Jesus is near to you at each moment, unseen
and often unknown.

You have at times stood speechless with awe
at the strange interposition on your behalf,
of providence and of grace. No visible sign
betokened the source of your help. There was
no echo of footfall at your side, no flitting of
shadow athwart your path. No law of nature
was altered nor suspended, the sun stood not
still, nor did the heavens open.

And yet deliverance, strange and effectual deliverance,
came at a moment most unexpected, yet most needed.

It was Jesus your Redeemer, your Brother, your
Shepherd, and your Guide. He it was who, hovering
around you, unknown and unobserved, kept you as
the apple of his eye, and sheltered you in the hollow
of his hand. It was he who armed you with bravery
for the fight, who poured strength into your spirit,
and grace into your heart, when the full weight of
calamity pressed upon them.

Thus has he always been to his children.

The eye that neither slumbers nor sleeps was upon you.

He knew in what furnace you were placed, and was
there to temper the flame when it seemed the severest.

He saw your frail vessel struggling through the tempest,
and he came to your rescue at the height of the storm.

How has he proved this in seasons of difficulty and doubt!

How often, at a crisis the most critical of
your history, the Lord has appeared for you!
  Your lack has been supplied,
  your doubt has been solved, and
  your perplexity has been guided.

He has delivered…
  your soul from death,
  your eyes from tears, and
  your feet from falling.

You are never for an instant….
  out of his heart,
  out of his thoughts,
  out of his hands, or
  out of his eye.

Go, and lay your weariness on Christ.

The Lord’s secret power in our souls?

(J. C. Philpot, “Power Given to the Faint”, 1845)

“He gives power to those who are tired and worn
 out; and increases strength to the weak.” Is. 40:29

The Lord’s people are often in the state that they have
no might. All their power seems exhausted, and their
strength completely drained away; sin appears to have
gotten the mastery over them; and they feel as if they
had neither will nor ability to run the race set before
them, or persevere in the way of the Lord.

Now what has kept us to this day? Some of you have
made a profession ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years.

What has kept us?

When powerful temptations were spread for our feet,
what preserved us from falling headlong into them?

When we felt the workings of strong lusts, what kept
us from being altogether carried captive by them?

When we look at the difficulties of the way, the
perplexities which our souls have had to grapple with,
the persecutions and hard blows from sinners and
saints that we have had to encounter–what has still
kept in us a desire to fear God, and a heart in some
measure tender before Him?

When we view the . . .
  pride, and
  presumption of our fallen nature,
what has kept us still . . .
and looking to the Lord?

When we think of our . . .
  love to evil,
  aversion to good, and
  all the abounding corruptions of our nature,
what has kept us from giving up the very profession
of religion, and swimming down the powerful current
that has so long and so often threatened to sweep
us utterly from the Lord? Is it not the putting forth
of the Lord’s secret power in our souls?

Can we not look back, and recall to mind our first
religious companions; those with whom we started
in the race; those whom we perhaps envied for their
greater piety, zeal, holiness, and earnestness; and
with which we painfully contrasted our own sluggishness
and carnality; admiring them, and condemning ourselves?

Where are they all, or the greater part of them?
Some have embraced soul-destroying errors; others
are buried in a worldly religious system; and others
are wrapped up in delusion and fleshly confidence.

Thus, while most have fallen into the snares of the devil;
God, by putting forth His secret power in the hearts of His
fainting ones, keeps His fear alive in their souls; holds up
their goings in His paths that their footsteps slip not; brings
them out of all their temptations and troubles; delivers them
from every evil work; and preserves them unto His heavenly
kingdom. He thus secures the salvation of His people by
His own free grace.

How sweet and precious it is . . .
  to have our strength renewed;
  to have fresh grace brought into the heart;
  to feel the mysterious sensations of renovated life;
  to feel the everlasting arms supporting the soul . . .
    fighting our battles for us,
    subduing our enemies,
    overcoming our lusts,
    breaking our snares, and
    delivering us out of our temptations!

The cry of weary, care worn humanity

(John MacDuff, “Hospice of the Pilgrim” 1891)

“Oh, where can rest be found?”

This is the cry of weary, care worn humanity.

This is the cry embracing every nation and every
climate, from the yearnings of heathendom to the
longings and aspirations of the present hour.

From the tumultuous sea of the world’s unrest,
this cry has gone up like a dirge of baffled souls,
“Oh, where can rest be found?”

“Come unto me,” is the address of many
siren voices, titillating tones of questionable
or forbidden pleasure, leading only to . . .
  heart weariness,
  life failure;
tinted soap bubbles with a momentary
iridescence, then collapsing.

The existence of many is a pursuit after spurious
and counterfeit rest, misnamed happiness; an
aimless, vapid life of pleasure; engrossed with
objects which bring with them no sense of
satisfaction; a dull, weary round on the world’s
monotonous treadmill.

Some strive to find rest through the gateway
of ethical systems and philosophic tenets.

Others, through the gateway of human merit.

Others through . . .
  ceremonial observances,
  fasts and vigils, 
  penances and pilgrimages,
  rites and ceremonies,
  creeds and dogmas.

These, and such as these, are
alike spurious and unavailing.

“Oh, where can rest be found?”

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary
 and carry heavy burdens, and I will give
 you rest.”   Matthew 11:28

Onesimus: A Picture Of Grace   

Philemon 15

     Philemon was a truly gracious man (v. 5). He loved Christ,his church,his gospel,and his servants. He maintained a church in his house. He treated God’s servants with the highest respect, kindness, and generosity. He was an especially benevolent friend to the Apostle Paul. Onesimus was a slave whom Philemon had come to trust. But this trusted steward of Philemon’s household betrayed his master, stole his money, and ran away to Rome. At Rome, by one means or another, he was brought into contact with Paul in prison. There he heard the gospel of Christ and was converted. Converted or not, Onesimus still belonged to Philemon. He was a wanted man.His master had a lawful right to have him executed, but he might be gracious. So Paul wrote this little epistle to Philemon and sent Onesimus back to his master with a plea for mercy.What a picture this is!The only way any sinner will ever be saved is to return to his Master, who has every right to slay him, pleading for mercy. As Onesimus found mercy at the hands of Philemon, so every repenting sinner finds mercy at the throne of grace when he returns to God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Read this little epistle carefully and you will see seven lessons clearly taught in it.

1. All true believers are united to one another in sincere love (vv. 1-5, 16).

2. God always uses the appointed means of grace, gospel preaching, to save chosen sinners (v. 10). By one means or another, he causes his elect to hear the Word (Rom. 10:17).

3. The transforming power of God’s sovereign grace makes the most useless sinners profitable servants to him (v. 11; I Cor. 1:26-30; 6:9-11).

4. The providence of God arranges all things for the salvation of his elect, overruling the most evil deeds of men, even the sins of his chosen, to bring them to Christ (v. 15; Psa. 76:10).

5. As Onesimus was accepted for Paul’s sake, so God’s elect are accepted for Christ’s sake on the basis of his substitutionary work and intercession (vv. 17-18).

6. Saved sinners owe a debt of gratitude to those who are the instruments of their salvation (v.19;Isa.52:7).

7. The most blessed thing in the world is the experience and the exercise of free forgiveness (v. 17; Matt. 6:14-15; Eph. 4:32).

Don Fortner

Help from the sanctuary

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble. May the name of the God of Jacob set you up on high, send you help from the sanctuary, grant you support from Zion.” Psalm 20:1, 2

When the soul has to pass through the trying hour of temptation, it needs help from the sanctuary. All other help leaves the soul just where it found it. Help is sent from the sanctuary because his name has been from all eternity, registered in the Lamb’s book of life—engraved upon the palms of His hands—borne on His shoulder—and worn on His heart. Communications of life and grace from the sanctuary produce spirituality and heavenly-mindedness. The breath of heaven in his soul draws his affections upward—weans him from earth—and makes him a pilgrim and a sojourner here below, looking for a city with eternal foundations—a city designed and built by God!

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