February 27, 2012

Suffering Saviour, Suffering Disciples - J. C. Ryle

Suffering is a part of the process by which the children of God are made holy. They are chastened to wean them from the world, and make them partakers of God’s holiness. The Captain of their salvation was made "perfect through suffering," and so are they (Hebrews 2:10; 12:10). There never was a great saint who had not experienced either great hardships, or great persecutions.

Let us try to settle this in our hearts also. The children of God all have a cross to bear. A suffering Saviour generally has suffering disciples. The Bridegroom was a man of sorrows. Therefore, the Bride must not be a woman of pleasures and unacquainted with grief. Blessed are they that mourn! Let us not murmur at the cross. This also is a sign of sonship.

February 24, 2012

God of the Valleys

In our last blog we wrote about the valley of affliction. The following Lord's day. Dr.G.M.Bilkes preached a sermon in our church based on 1 Kings 20 vs.28, "..Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord." 

The theme of the sermon was,"The Folly of Limiting the Lord". The Syrians had their own gods and believed that the god of Israel only had power in the hills so they decided to fight the battle in the valley. They were sure they would win there, but God displayed His limitless power and gave Israel a great victory in the valley, thereby proving that He is not only God of the mountains but also of the valleys. God is not only present in the spiritual "mountains" or good times,of our lives but He is also there for us when we are in the valleys, or times of trials or affliction. God is omnipresent, He is everywhere and never leaves his people or forsakes them.

This sermon was especially comforting to me because as I will be heading into another valley, the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I do not need to be afraid: for He promises that He will be with me and will comfort me. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever," Psalm 23

If you would like to listen to the whole sermon, here is the link to it.

February 17, 2012

He Gives More Grace - A. J. Flint

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction he addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure;
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done.
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit;
His grace has no measure;
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth,
and giveth,
and giveth again!

February 15, 2012

The Eye of Christ Upon Us – J. C. Ryle

Let us remember that the eye of our loving Saviour is upon us morning, noon, and night. He will never suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear. He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, for He suffered himself being tempted. He knows what battles and conflicts are, for He Himself was assaulted by the prince of this world. Having such a High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  - J.C. Ryle

February 14, 2012

In the Valley of Affliction

As my disease progresses, daily tasks are becoming increasingly more difficult. My walking is very minimal and unsteady, talking is slow and laboured and causes shortness of breath, I'm losing my appetite because I'm not very active and eating is laborious, sleeping is very fragmented and using the laptop is getting difficult and tiresome. These are all activities that used to be a joy but are now a chore.

We have noticed in this last week, that the atmosphere in our home is more sombre because of this. We don't seem to laugh and enjoy life as much as we used to. And this week I said to Lena, "It's not fun anymore". When we're driving in the van, I sit in the back and we don't talk like we used to when we sat beside each other, we drive in silence, each in our own thoughts.

Photo Credit: HERE
We think that this is probably a natural progression and that perhaps it is God's way of slowly releasing me from this world and the things I used to enjoy, in preparation for the greater joys I will experience in Heaven.

When we are under trials and afflictions, there are unique temptations that may come our way, such as:
Having harsh thoughts about God because of the affliction He has given instead of realizing that God allows affliction for our profit (Psalm 119);  
Doubting the promises and comforting verses which are found in the word instead of trusting and believing in them to our comfort;
Thinking too much about temporal, health, or financial matters, and not enough about eternal matters;
Complaining about personal physical discomforts rather than thanking God for his boundless spiritual blessings and grace;
Not witnessing to others about God`s goodness and mercy when opportunities arise.

To be tempted is not a sin, but to fall into temptation is. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, but He resisted. Satan used pride, coveting, and not trusting in God's providence to tempt Jesus, but Jesus used the Word of God as a sword and shield against these temptations (Matthew 4).

Photo Credit: Here
In the Lord's prayer, Jesus has given us the petition, "lead us not into temptation", as an example of how we should pray. The best way then to resist Satan's temptations and negative thoughts is to spend quality time in reading the Bible, meditating on it, and in prayer. When the apostle Peter focused on Jesus, he was able to walk on water but when he took his eyes off of Jesus and looked at the surrounding waves, he began to sink. Thankfully, Jesus was right there to pull Peter back to safety.

There is a good lesson for me here. I may be reassured that Jesus is there for me as well, while I am in the waves of affliction. I only need to keep my eyes fixed on Him.

February 8, 2012

The Plea of Jesus: Come Unto Me - by J. C. Ryle

The Lord Jesus does not bid the labouring and heavy-laden "go and work." Those words would carry no comfort to heavy consciences - it would be like requiring labour from an exhausted man. No! He bids them "Come!" He does not say, "Pay Me what you owe." That demand would drive a broken heart into despair - it would be like claiming a debt from a ruined bankrupt. No! He says, "Come!" He does not say, "Stand still and wait." That command would only be a mockery - it would be like promising to give medicine at the end of a week to one at the point of death." No - He says, "Come!" Today; at once; without any delay, "Come unto Me!"

February 6, 2012

Our Children

"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: ...Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:" (Psalm 127)

As parents of three married children, this scripture has been fulfilled in our lives, and we especially experience it now during this time of illness in our family. Our children have been an encouragement and a blessing to us in so many ways. This journey has been difficult for them as well, but they have remained strong and supportive, for our benefit.

Our oldest daughter, Joni, has been helping us with physio and brings meals once in a while. She is the family photographer and event planner and is always willing to help in any way she can. 

Her husband Willem, an Optometrist, keeps a close tab on my eye care. He has made adjustments to my wheelchair, making it more comfortable and efficient for me. He is also very adept at solving any computer or ipad questions that we may have.

Our second daughter, Sarah, has designed and maintained our blog from day one. She gives helpful advise and is very prompt at posting the articles which we submit. She is a very good writer herself and has contributed several blog entries for us. She also has brought over meals for us and runs errands, when needed and has helped out with physio once in awhile.  

Her husband Goran, an Engineer, commits to once a week doing the physio and also helps out with equipment problems and set up. Dad enjoys these one-on-one times with him. Since he lives so close by, he is the one we call in the middle of the night if Jack has fallen and Lena cannot get him up by herself.  Since he is self employed now, his schedule is very flexible and he's available to help whenever needed.

Our son Gerrit, who is a licensed carpenter, has done so much for us. He worked in our previous home getting it ready to be sold and now in our new home, he has spent much time modifying it to make it wheelchair accessible. He recently painted walls and put up new trim in our living room. It looks beautiful and we enjoy it so much, seeing that we spend most of our day there. 

His wife, Sarah, kindly helps Lena by regularly cleaning our home. She seldom arrives empty handed, bringing along a meal or some home made baked goods.

Thank you, Joni and Willem, Sarah and Goran, Gerrit and Sarah.

We love you all very much!