Posts tagged ‘suffering’

May 10, 2015

Daily Devotionals: (May 10th): Prayer for a Proper View of Suffering

by Aaron Dunlop

Reading: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.” Philippians 3:10  

O blessed Saviour, this morning I bring again my troubles to You—what are my troubles to Yours! What are my bitterest tears and aching heart in comparison with what You so freely endured for me! May the remembrance of this Your fellowship in my suffering, and my fellowship in Yours, help me to patiently endure whatever You see fit to lay upon me.

Give me grace ever to see that sin is my bitterest trial and grace to feel that my wandering treacherous heart is my heaviest cross. When I think of that blessed time when God shall terminate the tears of a weeping world, may this be my loftiest ground of rejoicing—there will be then no sin to cause them.

Humbly I would lie at my Saviour’s feet, disowning all trust except in Him—exulting in His finished work, and meritorious righteousness, and all-prevalent intercession. I rejoice to think of the redeemed multitude before His throne, “whom no man can number,” and to feel that His ability and willingness “to save unto the uttermost” are still the same.

Command, O Lord, Your richest blessing this day on all whom I love. May all my relatives be related to You in the common bonds of the gospel. Though separated by distance from each other may we enjoy the consolation that we are all treading the same invisible road heavenward—that earth’s dearest and tenderest ties will, in the end be strengthened and perpetuated in the full vision and fruition of You our God. This I ask in the name of my blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Adapted from the Rev. John McDuff, D.D., The Morning Watches, 1852.

John Ross Macduff was born at Bonhard, near Perth, on May 23, 1818. After studying at the University of Edinburgh, he became parish minister of Kettins, Forfarshire,  in 1842. In 1849 he moved to St. Madoes, Perthshire, and in 1855 to Sandyford, Glasgow. He received the degree of D.D. from the University of Glasgow in 1862, and from the University of New York about the same time. He retired from pastoral work in 1871, moved to Chislehurst, Kent where he died in 1887.

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June 3, 2014

Thomas Cranmer—Final Advice for Suffering Saints

by Aaron Dunlop

250px-Thomas-Cranmer-ezAfter the death of Edward VI Thomas Cranmer (Archbishop of Canterbury) signed several recantations of the Reformed Faith to appease the wicked Queen Mary. In the end she was not happy with a private signing and demanded a public signing and a public humiliation. When he came to sign the document in public he refused. Deviating from a speech he had previously prepared and submitted, he denounced the pope as antichrist and the Catholic religion as heresy: “And as for the pope, I refuse him, as Christ’s enemy, and Antichrist with all his false doctrine.” He was pulled from the University Church (Oxford) and burned at the stake where Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley had been martyred just six months before.

With the flames growing around him, he fulfilled his promise he had made in the church and placed his right hand into the fire saying, “Forasmuch as my hand offended, writing contrary to my heart, my hand shall first be punished there-for [sic].” He continued, for as long as he could, repeating; “that unworthy hand,” until finally he uttered his last words, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit…. I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (see Diarmaid MacCullouch, Yale University Press, 1996; p. 603).

Prior to his death Cranmer had written these words to his friend Peter Martyr:

Yet I have not deemed it right to pass over this one thing, which I have learned by experience, namely, that God never shines forth more brightly, and pours out the beams of his mercy and consolation, or of strength and firmness of spirit, more clearly or impressively upon the minds of his people, than when they are under the most extreme pain and distress, both of mind and body, that he may then more especially show himself to be the God of his people, when he seems to have altogether forsaken them; then raising them up when they think he is bringing them down, and laying them low; then glorifying them, when he is thought to be confounding them; then quickening them, when he is thought to be destroying them.

So that we may say with Paul, “When I am weak, then am I strong; and if I must needs glory, I will glory in my infirmities, in prisons, in reviling, in distresses, in persecutions, in sufferings for Christ.” I pray God to grant that I may endure to the end.

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May 10, 2013

Daily Devotionals: (May 10th): Prayer for a Proper View of Suffering

by Aaron Dunlop

Reading: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.” Philippians 3:10  

O blessed Saviour, this morning I bring again my troubles to You—what are my troubles to Yours! What are my bitterest tears and aching heart in comparison with what You so freely endured for me! May the remembrance of this Your fellowship in my suffering, and my fellowship in Yours, help me to patiently endure whatever You see fit to lay upon me.

Give me grace ever to see that sin is my bitterest trial and grace to feel that my wandering treacherous heart is my heaviest cross. When I think of that blessed time when God shall terminate the tears of a weeping world, may this be my loftiest ground of rejoicing—there will be then no sin to cause them.

Humbly I would lie at my Saviour’s feet, disowning all trust except in Him—exulting in His finished work, and meritorious righteousness, and all-prevalent intercession. I rejoice to think of the redeemed multitude before His throne, “whom no man can number,” and to feel that His ability and willingness “to save unto the uttermost” are still the same.

Command, O Lord, Your richest blessing this day on all whom I love. May all my relatives be related to You in the common bonds of the gospel. Though separated by distance from each other may we enjoy the consolation that we are all treading the same invisible road heavenward—that earth’s dearest and tenderest ties will, in the end be strengthened and perpetuated in the full vision and fruition of You our God. This I ask in the name of my blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Adapted from the Rev. John McDuff, D.D., The Morning Watches, 1852.

John Ross Macduff was born at Bonhard, near Perth, on May 23, 1818. After studying at the University of Edinburgh, he became parish minister of Kettins, Forfarshire,  in 1842. In 1849 he moved to St. Madoes, Perthshire, and in 1855 to Sandyford, Glasgow. He received the degree of D.D. from the University of Glasgow in 1862, and from the University of New York about the same time. He retired from pastoral work in 1871, moved to Chislehurst, Kent where he died in 1887.

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July 4, 2011

Suffering #4 To intensify our hatred of sin

by Aaron Dunlop

It is important that we remind ourselves here that all afflictions are not the result of actual sin. Adam in his original sin brought all mankind into a state of sin and misery. Job said in 14:1 “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (cf. 5:7). Also, Paul says in II Timothy 3:12 “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (cf. Galatians 5:11). While it is ill-advised to read the providence of God in afflictions, there are times in our lives when we can look back and say, ‘this affliction is the result or consequence of my sin.’ Whether this is the case or not, afflictions make us spiritually sensitive. In sorrow we see more clearly the frailty of the flesh, the vanity of mankind and the sinful tendencies of our own hearts.

Afflictions remind us of sin.  History teaches nothing more emphatically than that unmingled prosperity is one of the chief sources of national and individual degeneracy. Pride and fullness of bread (Ezekiel 16:49) embolden wickedness, inflate insolence, become the aliment of angry dissention, collisions of interest, and pervading corruption” (Rev. Gardiner Spring, The Mission of Sorrow). This is the reason why the preacher said it is better to go to the house of mourning; to lay it to heart (Ecclesiastes 7:2). Job said through his sufferings, “I abhor myself” and Paul tells the Galatians to take heed when they see a brother being overtaken in a fault, lest [you] also are tempted (Galatians 6:1). The constant presence of affliction, either personal or perceptible ought to humble us before God (II Chronicles 33:12; Job 23:10).

Afflictions restrain us from sin. Having that sense of corruption and abhorrence, the Christian will naturally and penitently look to the Lord for deliverance, strength and encouragement (Job 42:6). It was in times of affliction that Israel was most sensitivity to their spiritual condition. Jeremiah 22:21 “I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.” The Psalmist said in Psalm 119:67, 71 “Before I was afflicted I went astray:… It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” It is to our benefit to pray that the Lord would give grace in affliction, not necessarily removal of the affliction but grace in and through the suffering (Amos 4:6; Hosea 4:17).

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June 30, 2011

Suffering #3 To Prove The Power of God’s Grace

by Aaron Dunlop

Reading: II Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

When Paul prayed for the removal of the “thorn in the flesh” (a figure of speech denoting affliction, pain and trouble) he received an answer that he did not want to hear, but one that he came to appreciate and rejoice in (II Corinthians 12:9). Paul came to realize that the “thorn in the flesh” was God’s gift to him.

The answer Paul received; “my grace is sufficient for thee” is the culmination of a thread of thought running throughout the second letter to the Corinthian Church. In 1:8 Paul writes “we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.” Later in 4:7 he testifies that the gospel is contained “in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” and in 12:9 he discloses the Lord’s answer to his prayer; “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” All of this weakness and despair bound up in earthen vessels has purpose for the Christian; to prove the power of divine grace.

The connection between the grace of God and the power of God here is the focus of the parallelism in Vs. 9. “My grace” corresponds with “my strength,” as grace given “for thee” corresponds to “weakness” in this parallelism. Grace is not given merely to endure the struggle or resign ourselves to it passively, but grace is given to display the power of God throughout the trial and actively submit to God. The power of God is displayed in the grace given. The power of God becomes a reality (“perfected”) in the weakness of man and the weakness of man is exemplified in the trials of life; “thorn in the flesh.”

The verb tenses of the verse are particularly significant; Paul says in the aorist tense “there was given a thorn…I prayed…” and then in the perfect tense the Lord “said” and what he said continues to hold good. This perfect tense implies an action the influence of which continues. In other words, the Lord told Paul, no matter the circumstance, whether the present thorn or when that passes, a future thorn my grace continues to be sufficient. God’s grace is sufficient in times of extremity. The power of God accomplishes its end in us when we are at an end of ourselves and apply to God for grace at the appointed means; God gives thorns to prove the power of grace.

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