January 30, 2013

The Secret to Peace

The other day I (Joni) was talking with my Dad after a particularly bad night spent together. Dad had really bad cramping for hour after hour and he was obviously in much pain.  I asked Dad if he prayed for God to take him. He shook his head no. That surprised me. When I am with him and he is in so much pain and can't sleep I pray often that God would take Dad and spare him any more pain. I asked if Dad prayed to be healed. He shook his head no again. I asked if he just prayed for strength for the day and he shook his head yes.  He typed out that he counts down the hours of the day, each day, and only asks to be faithful to the end. 

This morning I was reading a devotional from J.R. Miller "One Day at a Time" and it reminded me of my conversation with Dad last week. Everyone is struggling with burdens or trials of some sort.  There is so much pain and brokenness in our world, and no one is spared from sin's touch… what a blessing that God gives us one day at a time. And how incredible will heaven be - we won't need night or rest, just everlasting peace!

Miller says:

"As your days - so shall your strength be!" Deut. 33:25

One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life, is to live one day at a time. Really, we never have anything to do any day - but the bit of God's will for that day. If we do that well - we have absolutely nothing else to do.

Time is given to us in days. It was so from the beginning. This breaking up of times into little daily portions means a great deal more than we are accustomed to think. For one thing, it illustrates the gentleness and goodness of God. It would have made life intolerably burdensome if a year, instead of a day - had been the unit of division. It would have been hard to carry a heavy load, to endure a great sorrow, or to keep on at a hard duty - for such a long stretch of time. How dreary our common task-work would be - if there were no breaks in that, if we had to keep our hand to the plough for a whole year! We never could go on with our struggles, our battles, our suffering - if night did not mercifully settle down with its darkness, and bid us rest and renew our strength.

We do not understand how great a mercy there is for us in the briefness of our short days. If they were even twice as long as they are - life would be intolerable! Many a time when the sun goes down - we feel that we could scarcely have gone another step. We would have fainted in defeat - if the summons to rest had not come just when it did.

We see the graciousness of the divine thoughtfulness in giving us time in periods of little days, which we can easily get through with - and not in great years, in which we would faint and fall by the way. It makes it possible for us to go on through all the long years and not to be overwrought, for we never have given to us at any one time more than we can do between the morning and the evening.

If we learn well the lesson of living just one day at at a time, without anxiety for either yesterday or tomorrow, we shall have found one of the great secrets of Christian peace. That is the way God teaches us to live. That is the lesson both of the Bible and of nature. If we learn it, it will cure us of all anxiety; it will save us from all feverish haste; it will enable us to live sweetly in any experience.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34


January 25, 2013

The Question Should Rather Be.....(J.R.Miller)

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33

True victory is not found in escaping or evading trials--but in rightly meeting and enduring them. The questions should not be, "How can I get out of these worries? How can I get into a place where there shall be no irritations, nothing to try my temper, or put my patience to the test? How can I avoid the troubles which continually harass me?" There is nothing noble in such living. The soldier who flees when the battle approaches, is no hero; he is a coward.

The questions should rather be, "How can I pass through these trying experiences--and not fail as a Christian? How can I endure these struggles--and not suffer defeat? How can I live amid these provocations, these reproaches and testings of my temper--and yet live sweetly, not speaking unadvisedly, bearing injuries meekly, returning gentle answers to insulting words?"

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son!" Revelation 21:7
- J.R. Miller

January 21, 2013

Pray Daily for More Faith - J.C. Ryle

Do we desire to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we wish to make progress in our religion, and become strong Christians, and not mere babes in spiritual things? Then let us pray daily for more faith, and watch our faith with most jealous watchfulness. Here is the corner-stone of our religion. A flaw or weakness here will affect the whole condition of our inner man. According to our faith will be the degree of our peace, our hope, our joy, our decision in Christ’s service, our boldness in confession, our strength in work, our patience in trial, our resignation in trouble, our sensible comfort in prayer. All will hinge on the proportion of our faith. Happy are they who know how to rest their whole weight continually on a covenant God, and to walk by faith, not by sight.

~ J.C. Ryle

January 14, 2013

Sunday Tradition

It is Sunday morning and the tradition in our family, for the last 12 years, was that my parents and mother-in-law would come over after church for coffee and lunch. Her chair is now empty, and I am looking at her picture beside that chair. It is the end of an era for us as a family. Her apartment has been emptied, and her few simple earthly possessions have been divided. How quickly our earthly existence comes to an end, and life flies away to its eternal home.

Everything we own will soon belong to another. We actually never really own anything, but we are allowed to use material things for a little while. It all belongs to God. What is important is how we have used our time, talents, and possessions. Have we tried to serve and glorify God with all that we have, and all that we are? We are accountable to God for what we have done with our lives. At best, we can say that we are "unprofitable servants". Everything that we do is mixed with sin, and needs to be washed in the blood of Christ. Even our prayers and religious duties and devotions need to be cleansed.

Thank God that there is a solution in the gospel for us. By faith in the perfect righteousness of Christ, that cleansing power is available for free, "without money and without price" (Isaiah 55). The perfect works of Christ become ours by faith.

To update you a little on the progress of my disease, I rarely leave the house anymore. It is too difficult with the winter conditions, and I feel most comfortable in my own environment. To get through the nights peacefully, I am taking low doses of morphine. I sleep a little more, and it helps me tolerate the cramping a bit better. The only drawback is that I am more dopey in the mornings.

I am at peace with God's dealings in my life. Although the way is difficult, and I am tired of the journey, I do feel that God is walking with me and sustaining me every day. Please pray that Lena and I would receive the strength and patience to endure to the end.


January 1, 2013

The New Year

Pastor Pronk visited us on the last day of the year and he read this beautiful meditation which he found in the daily devotional book called "Morning Thoughts" by Octavius Winslow. We thought we'd share it with you.

"You have not passed this way heretofore." Joshua 3:4.

How solemn is the reflection that with a new cycle of time commences, with each traveler to Zion, a new and untrodden path! New events in his history will transpire- new scenes in the panorama of life will unfold- new phases of character will develop- new temptations will assail- new duties will devolve- new trials will be experienced- new sorrows will be felt- new friendships will be formed- and new mercies will be bestowed. How truly may it be said of the pilgrim journeying through the wilderness to his eternal home, as he stands upon the threshold of this untried period of his existence, pondering the unknown and uncertain future, "You have not passed this way heretofore!"

Reader! if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you will enter upon a new stage of your journey by a renewed surrender of yourself to the Lord. You will make the cross the starting-point of a fresh setting-out in the heavenly race. Oh, commence this year with a renewed application to the "blood of sprinkling." There is vitality in that blood; and its fresh sprinkling on your conscience will be as a new impartation of spiritual life to your soul. Oh, to begin the year with a broken heart for sin, beneath the cross of Immanuel! looking through that cross to the heart of a loving, forgiving Father. Do not be anxious about the future; all that future God has provided for. "All my times are in Your hands." "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you." Let it be a year of more spiritual advance. "Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward." Forward in the path of duty- forward in the path of suffering- forward in the path of conflict- forward in the path of labor- and forward in the path to eternal rest and glory. Soon will that rest be reached, and that glory appear. This new year may be the jubilant year of your soul- the year of your release. Oh spirit-stirring, ecstatic thought- this year I may be in heaven! - Octavius Winslow

We have a new year before us; one that Jack did not expect to see and one in which we "have not passed this way" before. We do not know what the Lord has in store for us this year, what "new phases of character will develop- new temptations will assail- new trials will be experienced- new sorrows will be felt- new friendships will be formed- and new mercies will be bestowed", but we do know that all our times are in His hands. We must start the year by confessing our guilt of the previous year; our short-comings and our sins and we will go forward in our path of suffering, casting all our care upon Jesus, for we know, and have experienced, that He cares for us. Perhaps this will be Jack's year of jubilee, the year in which his soul will be released into heaven to be with his Lord forever. What a happy new year that will then be for him !