Bulletin Edition May 2023

Have you ever noticed how believers who have been severely tried under the hand of God become more cautious and humble?  They do not speak quite so fast as they used to speak; they do not have a ready solution for every problem; they do not boast of what they have done, will do, or would do under certain circumstances; they are not quite so critical of others who fail; they have little to say about their own doings and much to say about the wonderful grace of our Lord.  Afflictions and trials have a way of mellowing believers and creating a certain character which cannot be mistaken or imitated.  David wrote in Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn…..” 

 ~Henry Mahan (1926-2019)


BY John MacDuff, 1885

Prayer for one in dangerous illness

O God, our Heavenly Father, in You we live, and move, and have our being. We rejoice to think that Your hand is never shortened, that it cannot save—that Your ear is never heavy, that it cannot hear. We thank You for Your own recorded promise, that the prayer of faith, if consistent with Your blessed will, will save the sick. We entreat You to look down in great mercy on that member of our family who is this day laid on a bed of languishing. May it please You of Your infinite goodness speedily to restore him. Rebuke his disease. Bring him back from the gates of the grave. May this sickness not be unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. Mitigate the severity of pain. Grant him patience under his sufferings, and unmurmuring submission to the will of Him who afflicts not willingly. His times are in Your hands. We commend him soul and body to You, the great Physician. If You see fit to raise him up, may restored health and strength be more than ever given unto him; but if You have otherwise determined, fit him for his eternal change. To him to live, may it be Christ—to him to die may it be great gain.

It is I
The following is from Octavius Winslow’s sermon,
“Be Not Afraid Or, The Voice of Jesus in the Storm”

“Be of good cheer: It is I;be not afraid.”
Mark 6:50

Listen, then, to the voice of Jesus in the storm.

It is I who raised the tempest in your soul,
and will control it.
It is I who sent your affliction, and will be
with you in it.
It is I
 who kindled the furnace, and will watch
the flames, and bring you through it.
It is I who formed your burden, who carved your
cross, and who will strengthen you to bear it.
It is I who mixed your cup of grief, and will
enable you to drink it with meek submission
to your Father’s will.
It is I who took from you worldly substance,
who bereft you of your child, of the wife of
your bosom, of the husband of your youth,
and will be infinitely better to you than
husband, wife, or child.

It is I who have done it all.

I make the clouds my chariot, and clothe
myself with the tempest as with a garment.
The night hour is my time of coming, and
the dark, surging waves are the pavement
upon which I walk.

“Be of good cheer: It is I; be not afraid.”

It is I, your Friend, your Brother, your Savior!

am causing all the circumstances of
your life to work together for your good.

It is I who permitted….
the enemy to assail you,
the slander to blast you,
the unkindness to wound you,
the need to press you!

Your affliction did not spring out of the ground,
but came down from above; a heaven sent
blessing disguised as an angel of light clad
in a robe of ebony.

I have sent all in love!

This sickness is not unto death,
but for the glory of God.
This bereavement shall not always
bow you to the earth, nor drape in
changeless gloom your life.

It is I who ordered, arranged,
and controlled it all!

In every stormy wind,
in every darksome night,
in every lonesome hour,
in every rising fear,
the voice of Jesus shall be heard, saying,
“Be of good cheer; It is I; be not afraid.”

“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” John 11:4

Octavius Winslow

The season of sickness is the schooling of the soul. More of God is unfolded then, and more of his truth is learned, than perhaps in any other circumstances. Oh, how the character, and the perfections, and the government of God become unfolded to his mind by the teachings of the Spirit of truth! His dim views are cleared, his crude ideas are ripened, his erroneous ideas are rectified; he contemplates God in another light, and truth through another medium. But the sweetest effect of all is the personal appropriation of God to his own soul. He can now say, “This God is my God, and is my Father, and is my portion forever,”- words of assurance hitherto strange to his lips. The promises of God were never realized as so precious, the doctrines of grace were never felt to be so establishing, and the precepts were never seen to be so obligatory and so sanctifying as now; blessed results of a hallowed possession of the season of sickness! And what a pruning of this living branch has taken place! What weanedness from the engrossing claims of the earthly calling, from an undue attachment to created good, from the creature, from the world, and what is the greatest weanedness of all, from the wedded idol, self! What humility of mind, what meekness of spirit, and self-renunciation follow! He entered that chamber as a proud man; he leaves it as a little child. He went into it with much of the spirit of a grasping, covetous, worldly-minded professor; he emerges from it with the world under his feet: “Consecration to Christ and Holiness to God”, written upon his substance, and engraved upon his brow. He has been near to eternity! He has been looking within the veil! He has been reading his own heart! He has been dealing with Christ! He has seen and felt how solemn a thing it was to approach the gate of death, to enter the presence of God- and from that dreadful point of vision, he has contemplated the world, and life, and human responsibility, as they are; and he has come back like a spirit from another sphere, clothed with all the solemnities of eternity- to live now as one soon in reality to be there. Truly, his sickness was “for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be gloried thereby.”

Our wisest plans and best endeavors!

(Letters of John Newton)

We are disciples — Jesus is our Master. The world we live in is His school, and every person and event is under His management, designed to forward us in the great lessons which He would have us to learn — such as . . .
  a distrust of creatures, and
  an absolute dependence upon Himself.

In this view,
  afflictions — are mercies,
  losses — are gains,
  hindrances — are helps, and
  all things, even those which seem most contrary — are working together for our good.

Creatures smile upon us — or frown upon us; caress us — or disappoint us;
friends grow cool — and enemies become kind — 
just as His wisdom sees most expedient to promote our spiritual progress.

Where we look for most blessing — it often comes to little;
where we look for nothing — we often obtain most benefit.

Our wisest plans and best endeavors at one time produce great troubles!
At another time, what we do at random, and what we account the most trifling incidents — are productive of happy, lasting, and extensive consequences.

It is well for us if, by a long train of such changing, checkered experiences — we at length attain to some proficiency, and can say with David, “My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.”

The heart possession of two maxims of Matthew Henry, is well worth all that the acquisition can cost us:
  1. Every creature is to us — only what God makes it.
  2. We cannot expect too little from man — nor too much from God.

In this school I am placed — and these lessons I am aiming to learn. But I am a poor scholar and indeed any master but He who condescends to be my teacher — would turn me out as an incorrigible dunce!

Yet I sincerely wish to be willing to be what, and where, and how the Lord would have me be — to cast all my cares simply upon Him, and to be always satisfied in my mind that He assuredly cares for me!

I am black, but lovely!

(Henry Law, “The Song of Solomon” 1879)

I am black, but comely!” Song of Solomon 1:5

The believer pictures her state. It is a seeming paradox. The extremes of lowliness and greatness are combined. She presents two aspects: deformity and loveliness compose the portrait. “I am black, but comely!

Blackness is frightful and repulsive. No eye can rest on it complacently. But blackness is the emblem of our state by nature. We are conceived and born in sin; and sin is most hideous wherever it appears. The Spirit has revealed this truth to each enlightened convert.
He sees it;
he feels it;
he owns it;
he bewails it.
It is his constant misery.

When he would do good, evil is present with him. He hates and loathes and abhors himself in dust and ashes. Surveying the innate corruption, which is his, he mournfully confesses, “I am black! I am vile!”

But he looks off to Christ. He sees the precious blood washing out every stain and obliterating
the crimson dye.

The blackness disappears.
In Christ he is whiter than the whitest snow.

He puts on Christ, and adores Him as made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He sees His pure and perfect obedience wrought out as a robe to hide his every defect, so bright, so lovely, and so glorious, that it exceeds all admiration.

He feels that this righteousness is through grace imputed to him. He knows that he is lovely through divine loveliness. Thus clothed and decked, he triumphantly tells his friends, “I am black, but comely!

“Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee!” Song of Solomon 4:7

This God is our God forever and ever!

(“Every Day!” Author unknown, 1872)

This God is our God forever and ever! He will be our Guide even unto death!” Psalm 48:14

Those who have fled for refuge to the hope set before them in the gospel, all who are living a life of faith—are privileged to say of the Lord, “This God is our God forever and ever!”

Believers are privileged to say that the God who has all power in Heaven and earth, whose understanding is infinite, who is good, and who does good continually: “This God is our God forever and ever!”

Believers are privileged to say the God of holiness, righteousness, and justice; the God of mercy, truth, and grace; the “just God and the Savior”: “This God is our God forever and ever!”

Believers are privileged to say the God whose name and whose nature is love, and who has manifested His love toward us in sending His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him: “This God is our God forever and ever!”

Believers are privileged to say the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; the Refuge of the oppressed, the Helper of the helpless, the Hope of the hopeless, and the Savior of the lost: “This God is our God forever and ever!”

Believers are privileged to say the Source of every good and perfect gift; the promise-keeping God: “This God is our God”—and always will be; for He never leaves nor forsakes His redeemed people. “He will be our Guide even unto death,” and our portion forever and ever!

“This God is the God we adore;
 Our faithful, unchangeable Friend;
 Whose love is as great as His power.
 And knows neither measure nor end!”

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15.

Octavius Winslow

It is solemnly true that there is a “time to die.” Ah! affecting thought- a “time to die!” A time when this mortal conflict will be over- when this heart will cease to feel, alike insensible to joy or sorrow- when this head will ache and these eyes will weep no more- best and holiest of all- a time “when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality,” and we shall “see Christ as He is, and be like Him.” If this be so, then, O Christian, why this anxious, trembling fear? Your time of death, with all its attendant circumstances, is in the Lord’s hand. All is appointed and arranged by Him who loves you, and who redeemed you- infinite goodness, wisdom, and faithfulness consulting your highest happiness in each circumstance of your departure. The final sickness cannot come, the “last enemy” cannot strike, until He bids it. All is in His hand. Then calmly, confidingly, leave life’s closing scene with Him. You cannot die away from Jesus. Whether your spirit wings its flight at home or abroad, amid strangers or friends, by a lingering process or by a sudden stroke, in brightness or in gloom, Jesus will be with you; and, upheld by His grace, and cheered with His presence, you shall triumphantly exclaim, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me: your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” bearing your dying testimony to the faithfulness of God, and the preciousness of His promises. My time to die is in Your hand, O Lord, and there I calmly leave it.

Comments are closed.