Bulletin Edition March 2023

“It shall be well with the righteous”  – Isaiah 3:10

In spiritual things all your temptation, all your darkness, all your wandering God will overrule.  It shall be well with you.  There shall never be a night, but that morning shall come; there shall never be a day of trouble, but a day of prosperity shall follow; there shall never be an emptying, but there shall be a filling; there shall never be a bringing down, but that He will raise you up again. Let it be either darkness or light, sorrow or grief, night or day, life or death, time or eternity, “It shall be well with the righteous.”                                                                             ~Scott Richardson (1923-2010)

The Gospel is About Christ

    A man will arrive at right doctrine through the knowledge of Christ; but it is possible for him to know orthodox doctrine and yet not know Christ.  The Gospel is not a collection of dry doctrines; but is the revelation of a living, merciful and ever-present Lord.

 Henry Mahan


            The Lord told His disciples that even if their brother offends them seven times in a single day, they were to forgive him seven times.  They did not reply, increase our ability to forgive, or our ability to love our offending brother but, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).  Faith is the root grace.  As our faith is increased, our capacity to forgive will increase, and so will every other grace. If we would grow in grace, this should be our continual prayer, “Increase our faith.” 

Todd Nibert

A Bag, a Book, and a Bottle!

God takes great care to comfort His people in their many trials and sorrows in this world. One of the goals which He commands His preachers to have, is the comfort of His people. He says, “Comfort, comfort My people.” Here are three things described in the Word of God that should be of great comfort to every believer:

1. God has made A BAG FOR OUR SINS. Job said, “My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and you sew up my iniquity.”  In ancient times when men died at sea, their bodies were placed in a weighted bag which was sewn together and sealed. Then they were cast into the depths of the sea.

That is what God has done with our sins. They are cast “into the depths of the sea.” When Christ died for our sins which were imputed to Him, He put them all away. They were buried in the sea of God’s infinite forgiveness, put away never to be brought up again. God almighty will never charge us with sin, impute sin to us, remember our sins against us, or treat us any less graciously because of our sin. That is the forgiveness of God! “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

2. The Lord has written A BOOK FOR OUR NAMES. Take heart child of God. Your name is written in the book of God! Before the worlds were made, the Lord God inscribed the names of His elect in the Lamb’s book of life. In that book God has recorded, not only the names of the chosen heirs of Heaven, but also all things pertaining to them. The Lamb’s book of life is the book of God’s eternal purpose of grace, predestination, and election. The fact that our names are written in that book means that our salvation is a matter of absolute certainty; and that all things work together for our good by God’s arrangement to secure our predestined end, which is perfect conformity to Christ. When our Lord says, “Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven,” He is telling us that we have nothing to fear. All is well with those whose names are written in Heaven!

3. Moreover, the Lord God keeps A BOTTLE FOR OUR TEARS. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” It was customary at ancient Egyptian funerals for mourners to have a small cloth or sponge to wipe away their tears. Then they were squeezed into a small vial, a tear bottle, and placed in the tomb with the dead, symbolizing the care the mourners had for the one who had died. Even so, the Lord our God, our heavenly Father, our almighty Savior, and our holy Comforter, tenderly cares for us. We are the very apple of His eye.

The Lord our God has . . .

  put our sins in a bag and buried them,

  written our names in a book to remember them, and

  placed our tears in a bottle to show His tender care for us.

Could anything be more comforting in this world of sin, sorrow, and death?

Don Fortner

Our refuge and strength!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“God is our refuge and strength—a very present help in trouble” Psalm 46:1

 He is our refuge — let us hide in Him.

 He is our strength — let us array ourselves with Him.

 He is our help — let us lean upon Him.

 He is our ever-present help — let us rest in Him now.

This alone is the vexed soul’s refuge!

(Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889)

“In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!” Colossians 2:3

The one true resting-place where doubt and weariness, the stings of a pricking conscience, and the longings of an unsatisfied soul would all be quieted—is Christ Himself!
Not the church, but Christ.

Not doctrine, but Christ.

Not religious forms and ceremonies, but Christ.

Christ the God-man . . .
  giving His life for ours,
  sealing the everlasting covenant, and
  making peace for us through the blood of His cross!

Christ the divine storehouse of all light and truth, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!

Christ the infinite vessel—the enlightener, the teacher, the quickener, the comforter—so that out of His fullness we may receive grace upon grace.

This, this alone is the vexed soul’s refuge, its rock to build on, its home to abide in—until the great tempter is bound and every conflict ended in victory.

Our refuge!

(Joseph Philpot, “An Immutable God
 and a Strong Consolation” 1866)

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my
 deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom will I trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalm 18:2

On every side are hosts of enemies ever
invading our souls, trampling down every
good thing in our hearts, accompanied by
a flying troop of temptations, doubts, fears,
guilt and bondage sweeping over our soul.
And we, as regards our own strength, are
helpless against them.

But there is a refuge set before us in the
gospel of the grace of God. The Lord Jesus
Christ, as King in Zion, is there held up
before our eyes as . . .
  the Rock of our refuge,
  our strong Tower,
  our impregnable Fortress;
and we are encouraged by every precious promise
and every gospel invitation when we are overrun
and distressed by these wandering, ravaging,
plundering tribes to flee unto and find a safe
 in Him.

“Preserve me, oh God: for in Thee do I put my trust.”
     Psalm 16:1

“O Lord my God, in Thee do I put my trust; save me from all them that persecute me,
 and deliver me.”
     Psalm 7:1

God is our abode, our home!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“The eternal God is thy refuge.” Deuteronomy 33:27

The word “refuge” may be translated “abiding place”—which gives the thought that God is our abode, our home.

There is a fullness and sweetness in the metaphor, for our home is dear to our hearts—although it may be the humblest cottage or the scantiest garret. But dearer far is our blessed God, who is our eternal refuge.

It is at home that we are safe—here we shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. Just so, God is our shelter and retreat—our abiding refuge.

It is at home that we take our rest—it is there that we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. In the same way, our hearts find rest in God when, wearied with life’s conflict, we turn to Him, and our soul dwells at ease.

At home, also, we let our hearts loose—we are not afraid of being misunderstood nor of our words being misconstrued. Just so, when we are with God—we can commune freely with Him, laying open all our hidden desires.

Home, too, is the place of our truest and purest happiness. In the same way, it is in God that our hearts find their deepest delight.

“God is our refuge and strength—a very present help in trouble!” Psalm 46:1

“Still let me be with Thee, Father,
and ever be Thou with me:
When the clouds and tempests gather,
oh, then, let me trust in Thee:
Let me hide in Thy quiet shadow,
let me dwell in Thy secret shrine,
The home of the souls that love Thee,
the souls that Thou callest Thine!”

John Mac Duff

A weak, defenceless, foolish creature!

(Letters of John Newton)

(John Newton, “The Great Shepherd”)

“He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs with His arms and carry them in His bosom, and will gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11

Our Lord expressly calls Himself the “good Shepherd of the sheep”, and the apostle Peter calls Him the “chief Shepherd.” (John 10, 1 Peter 5:4)

With respect to power and authority, He is the chief, and, indeed, the sole Shepherd. The eyes of all His people are upon Him—and His watchful eye is upon and over all His flock. None but an omnipotent and omnipresent Shepherd can relieve all the necessities of all of His people, in all places, in the same moment, and be equally near and attentive to each one! Such is our great Shepherd! He is eminently the good Shepherd also, for He laid down His life for His sheep, and has redeemed them by His own blood.

This great and good Shepherd has a flock, whom He loved from eternity, and whom having once loved—He will love them to the end! (John 13:1). He humbled Himself for their sakes, submitted to partake of their nature and their sorrows, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. He died for His sheep, “the just for the unjust,” to redeem them from the curse of the law, from the guilt and dominion of sin, from the power of Satan—and to bring them to God!

They all, by nature, had “gone astray, every one to his own way;” but having thus bought them with His blood, in His own appointed time—He seeks, finds and restores His sheep! By the power of His Word and Spirit, He makes Himself known to their hearts, causes them to hear and understand His voice, and guides them into His fold! They are then under His immediate protection and government.

Considered as individuals, they are fitly described by the name of “sheep”. A sheep is a weak, defenceless, foolish creature; prone to wander, and can seldom return of its own accord. A sheep has neither strength to fight with the wolf, nor speed to escape from it; nor has a sheep the foresight of the ant, to provide its own sustenance.

Such is our character, and our situation!
 We are . . .
  unable to take care of ourselves,
  prone to wander from our resting-place,
  exposed to enemies which we can neither escape nor withstand,
  without any resource in ourselves, and
  taught, by daily experience, the insufficiency of everything around us.

Yet, if Jesus is our Shepherd, as weak and helpless as we are—we may say with David, “The Lord is my Shepherd—I have everything I need! Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever!” Every sheep has an inheritance reserved for them in heaven, (1 Peter 1:4-5) and they shall be safely kept, while they are sojourners upon earth, for the Shepherd of Israel is their keeper.

The Good Shepherd cares for His flock. Not the slightest circumstance in their concerns, escapes His notice. When they are ready to faint, borne down with heavy exercises of mind, wearied with temptations, dry and disconsolate in their hearts—He seasonably revives them. Nor are they in affliction without a needs-be for it. All His dispensations towards them are medicinal, designed to correct, or to restrain, or to cure—the maladies of their souls. And they are all adjusted, by His wisdom and tenderness, to what they can bear, and to what their case requires.

The Good Shepherd is represented as counting their sighs, putting their tears into His bottle, recording their sorrows in His book of remembrance; and as being “able to sympathise with our weaknesses”.

There are lambs among His flock, and for these He expresses a special tenderness. “He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart.” Though they are weaklings, they shall not be left behind. If a poor lamb is weary, and unable to keep up with the flock, He shall carry it. These are new converts in the Lord’s family—they are, as yet, weak, unsettled and inexperienced. Almost every day brings them into a new and untried situation. They often meet with opposition and discouragement. What would become of them in such circumstances, if their faithful Shepherd had not promised that “He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart!”

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