Benhar Evangelical Church
THE BENHAR BANNER
‘Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it
may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.’
Previous Banners are available here
A CALL TO PRAYER
The minister and elders of Benhar Evangelical Church call our members and adherents to turn to God, in repentance and faith, pleading for the revival of His church, the awakening of the lost, and a merciful deliverance from the Coronavirus Pandemic.
While we are unable to meet for public worship, we would ask the Lord’s people to unite in prayer in their own homes at 3 pm on the Lord’s Day.
‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ (Hebrews 4:16)
SERMON FOR SUNDAY
Last year I listened to a volume of J.C. Ryle’s papers titled, ‘Practical Religion.’ The paper which I found most helpful was his chapter on sickness. The following is the second of its three parts. I trust and pray it will bolster your faith and bless your soul.
‘…he whom thou lovest is sick.’ (John 11:3)
II. THE GENERAL BENEFITS WHICH SICKNESS CONFERS ON MANKIND
The second point I propose to consider is the general benefits which sickness confers on mankind.
I use that word "benefits" advisedly. I feel it of deep importance to see this part of our subject clearly. I know well that sickness is one of the supposed weak points in God’s government of the world, on which sceptical minds love to dwell – "Can God be a God of love, when He allows pain? Can God be a God of mercy, when He permits disease? He might prevent pain and disease; but He does not. How can these things be?" Such is the reasoning which often comes across the heart of man.
reply to all such reasoners, that their doubts and questionings are most
unreasonable. They might as well doubt the existence of a Creator, because the
order of the universe is disturbed by earthquakes, hurricanes, and storms. They
might as well doubt the providence of God, because of the horrible massacres of
Delhi and Cawnpore. All this would be just as reasonable as to doubt the mercy
of God, because of the presence of sickness in the world.
I ask all who find it hard to reconcile the prevalence of disease and pain with the love of God, to cast their eyes on the world around them, and to mark what is going on. I ask them to observe the extent to which men constantly submit to present loss for the sake of future gain, present sorrow for the sake of future joy – present pain for the sake of future health. The seed is thrown into the ground, and rots: but we sow in the hope of a future harvest. The boy is sent to school amidst many tears: but we send him in the hope of his getting future wisdom. The father of a family undergoes some fearful surgical operation: but he bears it, in the hope of future health – I ask men to apply this great principle to God’s government of the world. I ask them to believe that God allows pain, sickness, and disease, not because He loves to vex man, but because He desires to benefit man’s heart, and mind, and conscience, and soul, to all eternity.
Once more I repeat, that I speak of the "benefits" of sickness on purpose and advisedly. I know the suffering and pain which sickness entails. I admit the misery and wretchedness which it often brings in its train. But I cannot regard it as an unmixed evil. I see in it a wise permission of God. I see in it a useful provision to check the ravages of sin and the devil among men’s souls. If man had never sinned, I should have been at a loss to discern the benefit of sickness. But since sin is in the world, I can see that sickness is a good. It is a blessing quite as much as a curse. It is a rough schoolmaster, I grant. But it is a real friend to man’s soul.
A – SICKNESS HELPS TO REMIND MEN OF DEATH
The most live as if they were never going to die. They follow business, or pleasure, or politics, or science, as if earth was their eternal home. They plan and scheme for the future, like the rich fool in the parable, as if they had a long lease of life, and were not tenants at will. A heavy illness sometimes goes far to dispel these delusions. It awakens men from their daydreams and reminds them that they must die as well as to live. Now this I say emphatically is a mighty good.
B – SICKNESS HELPS TO MAKE MEN THINK SERIOUSLY OF GOD, AND THEIR SOULS, AND THE WORLD TO COME
The most in their days of health can find no time for such thoughts. They dislike them. They put them away. They count them troublesome and disagreeable. Now a severe disease has sometimes a wonderful power of mustering and rallying these thoughts and bringing them up before the eyes of a man’s soul. Even a wicked king like Benhadad, when sick, could think of Elisha (2nd Kings 8:8). Even heathen sailors, when death was in sight, were afraid, and ‘…cried every man unto his god…’ (Jonah 1:5). Surely that which helps men to think on their frailty and the shortness of their life is a good.
C – SICKNESS HELPS TO SOFTEN MEN’S HEARTS AND TEACH THEM WISDOM
The natural heart is as hard as a stone. It can see no good in anything which is not of this life, and no happiness excepting in this world. A long illness sometimes goes far to correct these ideas. It exposes the emptiness and hollowness of what the world calls "good" things and teaches us to hold them with a loose hand. The man of business finds that money alone is not everything the heart requires. The woman of the world finds that costly apparel, and novel-reading, and the reports of balls and operas, are miserable comforters in a sick room. Surely anything that obliges us to alter our weights and measures of earthly things is a real good.
D – SICKNESS HELPS TO LEVEL AND HUMBLE US
We are all naturally proud and high–minded. Few, even of the poorest, are free from the infection. Few are to be found who do not look down on somebody else, and secretly flatter themselves that they are ‘…not as other men…’ (Luke 18:11). A sick bed is a mighty tamer of such thoughts as these. It forces on us the mighty truth that we are all poor worms, that we ‘…dwell in houses of clay…’ and are ‘…crushed before the moth’, (Job 4:19), and that kings and subjects, masters and servants, rich and poor, are all dying creatures, and will soon stand side by side as equals at the bar of God. In the sight of the coffin and the grave it is not easy to be proud. Surely anything that teaches that lesson is good.
E – FINALLY, SICKNESS HELPS TO TRY MEN’S RELIGION, OF WHAT SORT IT IS
There are not many on earth who have no religion at all. Yet few have a religion that will bear inspection. Most are content with traditions received from their fathers and can render no reason of the hope that is in them. Now disease is sometimes most useful to a man in exposing the utter worthlessness of his soul’s foundation. It often shows him that he has nothing solid under his feet, and nothing firm under his hand. It makes him find out that, although he may have had a form of religion, he has been all his life worshipping an ‘…UNKNOWN GOD’ (Acts 17:23). Many a creed looks well on the smooth waters of health, which turns out utterly unsound and useless on the rough waves of the sick bed. The storms of winter often bring out the defects in a man’s dwelling, and sickness often exposes the gracelessness of a man’s soul. Surely anything that makes us find out the real character of our faith is a good.
I do not say that sickness confers these benefits on all to whom it comes. Alas, I can say nothing of the kind! Myriads are yearly laid low by illness, and restored to health, who evidently learn no lesson from their sick beds, and return again to the world. Myriads are yearly passing through sickness to the grave, and yet receiving no more spiritual impression from it than the beasts that perish. Whilst they live, they have no feeling, and when they die there are ‘…no bands in their death…’ (Psalm 73:4). These are awful things to say. But they are true. The degree of deadness to which man’s heart and conscience may attain, is a depth which I cannot pretend to fathom.
But does sickness confer the benefits of which I have been speaking on only a few? I will allow nothing of the kind. I believe that in very many cases sickness produces impressions more or less akin to those of which I have just been speaking. I believe that in many minds sickness is God’s ‘…day of visitation…’, (Isaiah 10:3; 1st Peter 2:12), and that feelings are continually aroused on a sick bed which, if improved, might, by God’s grace, result in salvation. I believe that in heathen lands sickness often paves the way for the missionary, and makes the poor idolater lend a willing ear to the glad tidings of the Gospel. I believe that in our own land sickness is one of the greatest aids to the minister of the Gospel, and that sermons and counsels are often brought home in the day of disease which we have neglected in the day of health. I believe that sickness is one of God’s most important subordinate instruments in the saving of men, and that though the feelings it calls forth are often temporary, it is also often a means whereby the Spirit works effectually on the heart. In short, I believe firmly that the sickness of men’s bodies has often led, in God’s wonderful providence, to the salvation of men’s souls.
I leave this branch of my subject here. It needs no further remark. If sickness can do the things of which I have been speaking (and who will gainsay it?), if sickness in a wicked world can help to make men think of God and their souls, then sickness most assuredly confers benefits on mankind.
We have no right to murmur at sickness and repine at its presence in the world. We ought rather to thank God for it. It is God’s witness. It is the soul’s adviser. It is an awakener to the conscience. It is a purifier to the heart. Surely, I have a right to tell you that sickness is a blessing and not a curse – a help and not an injury – a gain and not a loss – a friend and not a foe to mankind. So long as we have a world wherein there is sin, it is a mercy that it is a world wherein there is sickness.
A HYMN OF HOPE - tune
Behold the throne of grace!
The promise calls us near;
There Jesus shows a smiling face
And waits to answer prayer.
That rich atoning blood,
Which sprinkled round I see;
Provides for those who come to God,
An all prevailing plea.
My soul, ask what thou wilt,
Thou canst not be too bold;
Since His own blood for thee He spilt,
What else can He withhold?
Beyond thy utmost wants,
His love and power can bless;
To praying souls He always grants
More than they can express.
Since ’tis the Lord’s command,
My mouth I open wide;
Lord open Thou Thy bounteous hand,
That I may be supplied.
POINTS FOR PRAYER
Pray for all people because all people need God’s grace and mercy.
Pray for all people in general, and particularly for all in authority.
Pray for our Queen and her governments, for the National Health Service, for scientists working on a vaccine, for key workers, for our country, our communities, and our church.
Pray for the sick and the sorrowing.
Pray for the poor and the lonely.
While we are unable to meet in our church building for our weekly prayer meeting and Bible study, each Wednesday at 7:30 pm, let us give the same time to prayer and Bible reading.
Let me know of any prayer requests you would like brought to the attention of our church members and adherents.
‘Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:’ (Isaiah 26:4)
Let me encourage you once again to make Bible reading a part of your daily routine. Just as we take time each day to feed our bodies, we should take time each day to feed our souls. Take up the Daily Reading Plan you received at the beginning of the year and feed your soul with the Word of God.
In Job 23:12, Job says,
‘Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.’
Great God, with wonder and with praise
On all Thy works I look:
But still Thy wisdom, power, and grace,
Shine brighter in Thy Book.
Then let me love my Bible more;
And take a fresh delight
By day to read these wonders o’er,
And meditate by night.
2. What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify Him?
The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (Ephesians 2:20; 2nd Timothy 3:16) is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify God and enjoy Him (1st John 1:3).
DR. GUTHRIE AND THE INFLUENZA OUTREAK
There’s a statue on Prince’s Street, Edinburgh, of a minister wearing a Geneva robe with a Bible under one arm and a child under the other. This is a memorial to the Rev. Dr. Thomas Guthrie, a Presbyterian minister, whose evangelistic preaching and charitable works had a great impact on the city. He studied surgery and anatomy at Edinburgh University. Then he focused on theology but was unable to secure a parish because of his reputation as an evangelical. He spent the next two years in Paris where he studied medicine and science. When he returned to Scotland, he was employed in various positions including a bank manager. Then he became the minister of Arbirlot in Angus where both his training for the ministry and medical knowledge was put to good use. In his autobiography, Guthrie writes,
“A special danger to myself occurred in 1837. In that year influenza – “the influence,” as the Italians originally called the disease – of a most virulent type, spread all of a sudden over the whole land, slaying its thousands and tens of thousands like a deadly plague. Men absurdly reject the Bible because of its mysteries; there is no mystery greater than the propagation of that disease. In the beginning of the week, my parish was in the enjoyment of its usual health, and before the week was closed, almost every house was smitten. Attacked myself on Friday, I passed the night in a state of delirium; but having recovered sense enough on Saturday morning to send my servant boy through the parish to intimate that there would be no service the following day, I learned to my surprise, on his return, that the disease had already swept over the whole parish, like fire over the prairie. There was not, indeed, as in Egypt, a dead body in every house; but in every house, or almost every house, there was one or more ill; and of the eleven parish churches in my Presbytery, the Presbytery of Arbroath, more than the half were shut that Sunday. I fancy the like never happened before or since. My own illness was much aggravated in consequence of leaving my bed to go to the death-bed of Mr. Burns, my father-in-law, one of the parish ministers of Brechin, and one of the most pious and devoted ministers of the Church of Scotland. Laid up in Brechin, I was for three weeks in great jeopardy, and for three days, to use a common expression, swam for bare life. But in answer to prayers inspired only by the faith that God can save at the uttermost, I weathered the storm, and after some months resumed my duties at Arbirlot.
And here let me warn those who read these lines against putting off to a death-bed the things that concern their everlasting peace. Though I lived, I went at that time, I may say, through the process of dying. To the sufferer, dying is not at all the terrible thing onlookers often suppose. The feelings are akin to those of one who, weary and drowsy, is about to fall asleep. If there is not delirium, or actual coma, there is great apathy – a state of strange indifference to the concerns of the soul that is passing into eternity, of the body that is descending to the grave, of the parents, wife, and children, amid whose tears, and prayers, and lamentations, we are dying – but dying unaffected, the only one there with a dry eye. I remember an eminent saint, Lady Carnegie, saying, “Let no one delay to old age, seeking and making sure of an interest in Christ; for I have now seen eighty-five years, and yet don’t feel old.” And this, which is a great blessing if not abused, accords with my own experience. But if, for this and for many other reasons, old age or the approach of it is a bad season, a death-bed is every way a much worse one, for making our peace with God – a work requiring our utmost efforts and most earnest prayers, if these words have any meaning, ‘…the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.’
An incident of this illness may be mentioned as an example of shrewdness on the part of a sick-nurse. When death seemed at hand, and when my wife was engaged in prayer, along with my mother and sisters, for (as they thought) the passing spirit, this woman burst into the room to exclaim, “Na! he is to live yet! He has lifted his hand to scratch his brow!” A curious ground of confidence this, and yet there was philosophy in it; that simple act proving that vitality and sensibility were returning. And since the tide had turned, it gave ground to hope that the ship, after all, was moving and might float off the reef, and come safe to land.”
Let me encourage you, once again, to phone for counsel, prayer, and practical advice. It would be good to hear from you and have fellowship with you.
The minister and elders of Benhar Evangelical Church, recognising the need to use what is available to us to maintain a public witness to our community during the Coronavirus Pandemic, agreed to set up a Facebook page to post Bible verses, sound hymns, and other items that will be of benefit and blessing to those who use this facility. The page was set up on the 20th March, the first post was Psalm 91:1-2, and it now over 230 likes.
There are several ways in which you can continue to give your weekly offerings: (1) You can set up a direct debit. (2) You can transfer them to the church account using online banking. (3) You can lay them aside until services resume.
To set up a direct debit or to transfer the offering using online banking you will need the following details:
Name of bank account: ‘Benhar Evangelical Church Treasurer’s Account.’
Sort code: 83-2228.
If you choose to set up a direct debit or weekly transfer, and have filled out a gift aid declaration, the church will continue to receive gift aid on your offerings.
QUESTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF GENESIS
- To whom did Joseph’s brothers sell him?
- What was the interpretation of the butler’s dream?
- What was Pharaoh to do during the seven good years?
- What did Joseph do when he saw Benjamin?
- What land did Joseph give to his family?
- What did Pharaoh ask Jacob?
- What age was Joseph when he died?
ANSWERS FOR LAST WEEK’S QUIZ
1. A living soul (Genesis 2:7)
2. Coats of skin (Genesis 3:21)
3. Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 6:10)
4. Ararat (Genesis 8:4)
5. One hundred (Genesis 21:5)
6. Laban (Genesis 24:29)
7. Bethlehem (Genesis 35:19)
I remember when Dr. Arnold, who has gone to God, was delivering a sermon, he used an illustration. The sermon and text have all gone, but the illustration is fresh upon my mind tonight and brings home the truth.
He said, “You have been sometimes out at dinner with a friend, and you have seen the faithful household dog standing watching every mouthful his master takes. All the crumbs that fall on the floor he picks up, and he seems eager for them, but when his master takes a plate of beef and puts it on the floor and says, ‘Rover, here’s something for you,’ he comes up and smells it, looks at his master, and goes away to a corner of the room.”
“He was willing to eat the crumbs, but he wouldn’t
touch the roast beef – though it was too good for him.” That is the
way with many Christians. They are willing to eat the crumbs, but not willing
to take all God provides. Come boldly to the throne of grace and get the help
you need; there is plenty of good meat for every man, woman, and child.
 Ryle, J.C. Practical Religion
 Newton, J. Behold the Throne of Grace Verse 1-5
 Watts, I. Great God, With Wonder and With Praise Verse 1 & 7
 Matthew 11:12
 Guthrie, T. Autobiography of Thomas Guthrie, D.D. and Memoir 1876
 Moody, D.L. Children’s Stories
Rev. Ian S.D. Loughrin
The Evangelical Manse, 59 Baillie Avenue, Harthill, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5SY