Friday, June 10, 2022
Monday, May 23, 2022
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed’, says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!’” [Revelation 14:14 ESV]
Colin and Linda Gibb came to Namibia in the course of 2001, having been seconded here by the Standard Bank. Very soon they visited our church were united with the Eastside Baptist Church in membership on the 2nd December 2001. Eastside Baptist Church had gone through some very challenging years, and God knew that we needed a man of Colin’s stature. Much could be written and much could be said about his ability to encourage the discouraged and the fainthearted. His calm demeanor was rooted in his confidence in Christ.
Colin was one of our first ordained elders, for before this, Eastside Baptist Church did not have a plurality of elders. Colin had been an elder in his previous church for 18 years and thus came with that experience, maturity and humility which we so desperately needed.
He was very hands on and practical in so many ways - physically and spiritually. The pulpit at Eastside, from which the Word of God goes out every week to this day, is his handiwork. Colin loved the Word of God read and expounded. He made it his point to encourage the pastor regularly. And who will forget his ability to play Amazing Grace on the bagpipes?
Apart from shepherding God’s people as an elder he had a keen interest in the development of missionary thinking and strategy of the church. He was instrumental in drawing up our first mission’s policy.
Colin loved the work of prayer and was a faithful supporter of the weekly prayer meeting.
During their period in Namibia, Colin survived a heart attack and a near fatal aircraft incident in which the pilot managed to land the aircraft safely on one of Namibia’s many dirt roads. One of the passengers on the aircraft was said to have glanced back at Colin whilst the crisis was developing, only to see him smiling, and from then on she said that, “I knew that all would be well”.
Colin and Linda (and of course Granny Marge Thomas, Linda’s mother) left us in 2005 – now 17 years ago, to return to South Africa – and all too early for our liking. They had been a spiritual encouragement and a father and mother to many in our church. We were privileged to have had them for those few years. God truly adds people gifts to His church (Romans 1:11, 12) at appropriate times, and then He subtracts them - also in His time.
The time had now come for this valiant soldier to move not to another place on earth, but now to His heavenly home and on to His heavenly reward.
Colin, in Christ we salute you, with thankful hearts. You have been an example of a faithful Christian and a true elder and brother in the Lord.
Thursday, December 2, 2021
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Let me help you to understand the background against which the apostle Paul makes this statement, after which I will make a perhaps surprising observation.
The letter to the Romans is a profound exposition on the doctrine of salvation. Paul helps us to see that all people are in need of redemption, “for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God “ (Rom. 3:23). All of us are under the just wrath of a holy God (Rom. 1:18ff), unless God does something to change that problem. And He does! In mercy God chooses to freely, unconditionally and sovereignly impute righteousness to all who will trust in the substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. By this act Jesus bore the sins of many, making atonement for them (Rom. 5:15). By this act He justifies all those that actively believe in Him and trust Him with all their life. In substituting His righteousness for our unrighteousness He makes us positionally righteous before God the Father. That is why Romans 8:1-2 is such a great truth for every Christian to embrace:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
Once you are justified by God the Father through Christ the Son, by the working of the Holy Spirit who opens your eyes to the truth of God’s way of saving people you will never be the same!
Now here is the problem with which converted men and women frequently struggle: If I am justified by God through Christ, does this mean that I am now perfect – free from sin and all that?
Well, yes and no!
Yes, - because Christ has made you perfect, and should you die right now, you will be ushered into God’s presence, righteous and holy, on account of Christ’s merits which have been imputed to you.
No, - although you have been justified and are positionally perfect, you continue to live in a fallen body, and in a fallen world in which Satan still exercises his destructive and deceptive rule, until Christ comes again and defeats him. For this reason you still will experience struggle with sin in every way conceivable, and that is the point of Romans 7:15-20 where the apostle Paul confesses his own struggle with sin.
Now why am I telling you all this? Wasn't I supposed to tell you about my struggles with private prayer?
I am telling you all this because this is the context in which our text is found.
And now I am going to relate this context to the problem that (I suspect) we all have with prayer.
Let me begin by giving you three propositions from this text and context before applying this to a call to persevere in prayer, with the help of the Holy Spirit, no matter how much you and I may struggle right now...
Our three propositions are these...
(i) You must pray.
(ii) You cannnot and will not pray without help.
(iii) The Holy Spirit helps you to pray.
A SURPRISING OBSERVATION!
Were you surprised that I said that you can’t or won’t pray? Where do I get that from?
(i) from Experience
(ii) from Scripture
From experience. I have told you already. I know that my prayer life is horribly stunted. I suspect that this is also true for you, unless you have received unusual grace from God in this regard (and some people do!). But the average Christian will confess that he or she struggles to pray. The world, the flesh and the devil conspire against us in this. Many Christians will confess that they are easily discouraged and distracted and that they easily give up in prayer. Most of us know and confess that we do not pray as we ought to pray.
We see this also confirmed in the Scriptures which we have read. Read Romans 8:26 again:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought….” .
The apostle Paul confesses and identifies with you and me that he is weak and unable to pray as he ought to! That encourages me somewhat, but not too much, because I know that must pray. I know that prayerlessness has spiritual consequences. But I can’t seem to pray as I ought to. I can’t get going.
This means that we are going to have to look for the ability to pray elsewhere, but before we get there allow me just to make some things clear.
- The weakness of our prayer life does not lie in the fact that our salvation from God is lacking.The weakness of our prayer does not lie in our justification from God. Remember? Through Jesus Christ we are justified; we are made right with God. We lack nothing there.
- The weakness of our prayer life also does not lie in our sanctification. Sanctification is the progressive and ongoing work of the Holy Spirit after we have been justified. Many people erroneously think that sanctification is what they contribute to their salvation. I used to believe that, until I was corrected by the Scriptures. I now know that sanctification is as much the work of God as is our justification. There is nothing lacking here.
So where can the weakness of your and my prayer life be found?
It is found in us! Remember? We have weak bodies and weak minds. Together with all creation we are groaning inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:22,23). So, when we try to pray in our natural strength then we shall find that we do not have it in us to pray as we ought to pray. We find that we are either too phlegmatic or too tired or too distracted. The devil too helps in this!!!
We see this in Jesus’ disciples. The disciples could not keep awake in the hour of Christ’s great trial in the garden of Gethsemane. He asked them to watch and pray with Him. Three times He came back and found them asleep. He warned them that they should stay awake at this hour, otherwise they would fall into temptation (Matt 26:41) …. AND THEY DID! (Matt. 26:56).
In ourselves we lack ability and perseverance. When it comes to prayer then we know that we are weak. We find that many days go by without any meaningful prayer work being done. And when we do it, we find it dull and we watch the clock and we cannot wait for this time to finish, so that we can scratch the quiet time off our duty list! Does this sound familiar?
The same is true when it comes to attending our corporate prayer time at church. We need to pray corporately! We cant afford not to pray, because the work of God in and through our church is so big and so profound that all of our combined human genius will not cope with the spiritual demands before us. We must pray together, corporately, as one body! We see the powerful effects of corporate prayer in Acts 4:23-31; Acts 12; Acts 10; Acts 13:1-3 etc. You may even have been a part of a corporate, church prayer meeting after which God had moved in amazing swiftness and power to answer that prayer.
We struggle to pray, privately and corporately, but the point is that we must pray. It does not help us if we do not pray. We will remain powerless as long as we fail to plead with God to help us in this work.
What then must we do against our lack of desire to pray?
THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN PRAYER
We must rely on the power of the Holy
Spirit, and thankfully He is given by God the Father and the Son for this purpose - to help
us in our weakness!
Knowing then that it is not in you to pray as you ought, the Bible now suggests that you need to seek help from the Holy Spirit for this task.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Paul knows that the life and health of the church depends upon the power of God. The power and help of God for this great work must be solicited by prayer, and if the problem is that you can’t seem to pray or simply won’t pray – then what must you do?
You must cast yourself in ALL your weakness upon the Holy Spirit!
And what will He do, once you confess your weakness and your helplessness in this matter?
Here is the promise
(i) He helps us
(ii) He Himself intercedes for us with groanings to deep for words
(iii) He intercedes for the saints (you!) according to the will of God
This puts a fresh perspective on prayer, and I trust that you will be bold enough to test God in this matter. If prayer is God’s will (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Tim 2:8) and if you know that God wants you to do this, then ASK the Holy Spirit for help!
- You must pray
- You cannot and will not pray without help
- You must ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He is the promised Helper who is sent by Jesus (Jn. 14:16) to help us in our manifest weakness.
- This is what makes the Christian life a supernatural life. It is meant to be lived in dependence upon God from whom we must seek our help always - and particularly in prayer.
Saturday, July 17, 2021
- An (almost) daily log of Marcelle (M) and my (J) journey with the Covid Delta variant.
- Surnames have been abreviated to protect the identity of individuals
- Many people have not been mentioned. You know who you are, and we give thanks to God for you.
Dear church family and friends,
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)
Having just been diagnosed with Covid 19 today, after starting to feel unwell on Monday evening, 21st June, I wanted to keep an account of my body and soul for the next few weeks, but primarily I want to be an encouragement and a provider of perspective to you in it all. I will provide physical and spiritual updates on a separate WhatsApp group for all that are interested. Let me know, and I will add you.
I have a sore head, a sore body, night fevers and a cough at this time. This has been the pattern of the last 4 days. Thankfully, my sense of smell is maintained and my bronchial passages are clear at this time. Generally it is not too bad. Marcelle is still fine.
It is very easy to sink into a spirit of pessimism and fear at such a time. On a human level there are sufficient grounds for fear. Daily deaths are being reported, and recovery periods can be extensive. I am not sure how these days will turn out for us. Our Heavenly Father knows.
My greatest concern is that the present focus among us is almost entirely on the well-being of the body. That’s what I see and hear. I see few of us urging one another to look after the wellness of our souls. Little attention is given to the state of our eternal and immortal souls, which will have to give an account to the LORD after we die (Hebrews 9:27). I see very little drawing near to God in these times. The existence of the soul demands that I must spend much time in preparation for the day I must leave this mortal body. Remember too that eternity is much, much longer than 70 or 80 years.“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”.
Dear church family and friends,
“Christ wears the Crown”
Thank you for the outpouring of love and prayer for us. It does our soul a lot of good. Please remember Danny, Zara and children your prayers. They have all tested positive this week.
Jeane. K., our “soon- to –be- daughter- in- law” was our champion last night as she delivered a packet of prescription medication to our door step. I slept generally well last night, but woke up with body pains and a thick head this morning. Also, I discovered that my sense of taste had disappeared. After dosing myself with my chemical factory, the day improved. The sunshine did me good. Thank God for our little garden. Marcelle feels fine at this stage. We currently live at opposite corners of our home.
I have created a temporary WhatsApp platform, entitled, “Christ wears the Crown”. Christ bore the little crown of the cross and He now bears the glorious crown of the eternal kingdom. I trust that this isn’t lost on you. The Word “Corona” is the Latin Word for crown. This nasty little virus apparently has a crown shaped appearance. A crown is a symbol of authority and power. This vicious little ruler has induced a lot of fear in the world, and it rules the daily lives of billions of people right now. This is where we desperately need perspective.
Thank God that our Lord Jesus wears the ultimate crown of authority in this universe. And He bore that nasty little crown which was thrust on His holy head for our sake (John 19:2), only to take up that crown that makes Him King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation19:16).
While that nasty little crown was a reality for Jesus, and while this other nasty little crown is a reality for us, we must remember that the nasty crown that Jesus bore is infinitely more valuable for us, for in bearing it He carried the sins away of all that truly trust in Him. This other little crown (at its very worst) can only kill the body, but not the soul.
So, our dear congregation and friends, keep perspective and rejoice in the gospel of our Christ who wears the crown.
Day 6 (J)
Christ wears the Crown!
“Lord, he whom you love is ill” (John 11:3)
These words were spoken by the sisters of Jesus’ good friend Lazarus. This illness was in fact going to lead to Lazarus’s death. And when Jesus heard that he had died, he wept (John 11:35), because he loved him. The thrilling part of this story is that Jesus actually raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the grave for four days. This resurrection account has two points. Firstly, Jesus truly loved Lazarus and his sisters and therefore he gave Lazarus back to them for a while. But secondly, Jesus illustrated the fact that He was the One who had the ultimate authority over every disease and death. He is the One who will raise all people from the dead.
Most of us who have been afflicted with the corona (crown) virus are likely to survive by the grace of God. But all of us will die sometime. The question is this: When you die, in what hope do you die? If your hope is in Christ, who wears the Crown, and in whom you have trusted in this life, then you ALSO are the one whom He loves. Then you too are assured that you will live again (see John 11:25-27). By all means pray for and use effective vaccines and medication, but in the end you must put your hope in the gospel. The only vaccine for the most lethal sin virus is Jesus who wore that terrible crown of punishment for you.
Today is day 6 since I started with my symptoms. Thank you for your continued assurances of care and prayer. Today has been a dull and groggy day. My head feels thick, and I have slept a lot. I am thankful for the medication. It helps, although there is no cure at the moment for tastelessness ;-). Thank you to all who asked whether they might supply a meal or so. We are really ok at this time. We havevery little appetite for anything. We will use our church’s channel if the time should come in which we might need help. Please continue to pray for Marcelle’s health, as we occupy the same square meters.
There is no let up on the infections. Please pray for our good friend, pastor Henning V. and family. He has been diagnosed with Covid.
“Our Help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8)
Today is day 7, and essentially there is no regression - for which we are thankful. Thankfully the Oxygen levels are fine. Marcelle’s colleague from school organized us an oxymeter. Thank you Leanne M.! Marcelle went for the Covid test today and we expect to hear the results sometime soon. Our daughter Kezia is watching over us with an eagle eye-and from a distance, BUT we are very aware that over and above all is the hand of our gracious God. Christ wears the victor’s crown.
“My days are in His hands; Everyone by Him is planned; So why should I fear, when I know He is near.And my days are in His hands.” (Bill Bygroves)
Thank you to Frans B. (associate pastor and Uaundja K. (intern pastor) for the ministry of the Word this Lord’s day morning and evening. Can’t wait to be in church again.
Day 8 (J) ; 4 (M)
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
Day 8 wasn’t great. Fever and an aching body and a fuzzy mind dominated the better part of the day. And then we got Marcelle’s test results back, and as expected, she tested positive. Mrs Lenia Z.(senior) expressed her concern for us, and contacted her daughter Dr. Umoyo Z. who came to do a house visit this afternoon. She did a general check-up and drew blood samples. She also made a few changes in our prescriptions. What a wonderful doctor! What a wonderful providence.
But the saddest part today was hearing of the death (Covid) of Lorenzo B., oldest son of Hansie and Louisa B. - long standing friends in Baptist ministry. Please remember the family in your prayers.
Again we would remind you that our King who bore that crown of suffering for you is also the triumphant King who conquered death. Those who trust Him in this life shall receive THE CROWN OF LIFE. Please be very concerned for the souls of many who may be entering into a Christ-less eternity at this time. Oh that God would have mercy upon this generation.
Day 9 (J) ; 5 (M)
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13,14)
– Dr. Umoyo Z. sent and discussed the blood test results today. Marcelle seems to be doing ok under the circumstances. There are some concerns however with my situation. There is a possibility of blood clotting. My medical knowledge unfortunately is insufficient to explain everything in detail. Dr. Z. will monitor the situation. We continue trust the Lord to keep us in this situation. We have known this from the beginning.
Otherwise the day has not been too bad. I certainly had no pain or fever today. Only tired. Thank you for your prayers and ongoing support. Thank you to our son Jonathan for topping up the gas for our heater today. Thank you to Frans, Janet and Jandri B. who made food for tonight. Now pray that our sense of taste may return!
Day 10 (J); Day 6 (M)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6)
Today was a better day for both of us. Thank you for all the words and acts of kindness. There are so many and it is scarcely possible to acknowledge them all. Be assured that they all matter to us. We had another home visit and check- up from Dr. Umoyo Z. this evening. Again, Marcelle and I want to acknowledge God’s wonderful providence in sending her to us.
Today we want to acknowledge all medical professionals in our midst, and especially our pharmacists, doctors and nurses. Please pray for Drs Youssef & NancyS., Dr. Anotida T., Ronja K. (Pharmacist), Carina W. (Student nurse), Darion and Demi R. (medical interns) who have been working under much pressure.
And then please continue to pray for our sick. God is at work and He has been merciful. Thank you to all who have been helping with meals and other tangible helps. God sees! And Christ wears the crown!
Day 11 (J) ; Day 7 (M)
“And we know that for those who love God ALL THINGS work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)
Last night and today were not great. We both felt absolutely flat and wiped out. Even speaking on the phone was an effort. Later this evening we picked up strength as Alison B.’s Goulash soup did the trick. Nothing better than a nourishing soup.
It is utterly astounding how this illness drains you. I have not been able to pick up a book to read. Even reading my Bible has been a challenge. The brain feels foggy. Even writing this takes effort. We are comforted by the fact that God promises to carry us at such times. This too is for our good, and in some way (though I wish this on no one) I am glad that we could enter into the shoes of those who have suffered this terrible flu.
Once again we are thankful that we are in God’s hands. We are thankful to be in the hands of God’s people who pray for us and who care for us. Marcelle and I are particularly thankful to Kezia, Jonathan and Jeane – our children, who have gone the extra mile on many a day.
I am particularly thankful to our elders who have been in touch with the congregation. Remember those of your brothers and sisters that are ill. I just heard from Sean B. that he has contracted Covid. Bear each others’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2)
Day 12 (J) (Day 8 (M)
“Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)
Once again we have found ourselves in the hands of a kind and gracious God who directs our footsteps. There have been some gains made. The blood tests showed some improvement. It has been a better day all round.
Please remember the R. family in your prayers. Eliphas R. lost his oldest sister to Covid. Also remember Jessey K. J. who is really sick. Pray that she will respond to treatment. Thank you to all our doctors in the congregation who have taken interest in the sick.
Day 13 (J); Day 9 (M)
“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71)
It feels as if we have been living in a haze and in a bubble. Most of today we spent resting. Marcelle had some stomach issues, which is no wonder as one looks at the medication levels. Today we finished our cortisone treatment. Generally then we seem to be improving.
Thank you once again for your prayers and words of encouragement. I am thankful that there are so many of you taking care of the ill in tangible ways. God bless you all. Remember to ask God to have mercy on our country, Namibia. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)
Day 18(J) ; Day 14 (M).
Marcelle and I had a good day today, considering that we are pumped full of medication. Our doctor heard some more noise in Marcelle’s lungs today. Please pray for this to clear.
The doctrine of God’s providence has become a precious reality to us. We are living in the experience of God’s providence in so many ways. Every day we wake up by His grace. Every day, in unexpected ways He takes care of us by lifting our spirits in so many ways. Every day significant medical help is granted. We even have had opportunity to day to be of use to others and share in the burdens of others. And we played Scrabble…
So, thank you dear friends once again for your prayers and help given in so many ways. Always and with sincere love in our Lord Jesus, J & M
“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1,2)
Day 19 (J) Day 15(M).
Today was even better! The brain- fog has been lifting steadily, and today we have been experiencing a renewed appetite to read, pray and rejoice. Even our physical appetite is being restored. Again we thank God for His daily encouragements and providences in the form of people and things we need. Thank God for the internet (we had been down for 4 days), by which means we are able to have face to face interactions with our children in Wales.
Thank God for a medical aid! Dr. Z. has been wonderful in terms of medical supplies and expertise. Please pray for her. She has a heavy workload. One of our young student doctors at Eastside, Darion R. has stepped into the gap to administer the daily intravenous dose of antibiotics for J. We thank God for him and his wife Demi (also a medical intern), working in a Covid ward. Pray for her.
Marcelle and I have become “experts” at giving each other daily injections against blood clotting. Some of you have been giving us spiritual injections by way of written encouragements. Thank you! And continue to remember that Christ wears the true crown – ALWAYS! With sincere love in Jesus, always. J &M
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
Day 20 (J) Day 15 (M).
We continue to thank God for good progress. We look forward to the coming week when we shall, God willing, be on reduced medication. Today, Marcelle and I took a short drive into the country. What a wonderful thing to enjoy some freedom after 20 days of being laid up.
We continue to remember our country and in particular our health personnel in our prayers. Remember those that have been afflicted and those who have lost loved ones today. Our young medical intern Dorian R., currently looking after us, has lost another aunt today in the Covid battle. NEVER forget that Christ wears the crown!
“Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me; And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! (Charlotte Elliot: 1788-1871)
Day 21(J); Day 16 (M)
My morning Psalm really encouraged me today…
“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.3The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!” 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.6 The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. (Psalm 116:1-7)
Well, what can we say – except that the Lord’s mercies have been ours, once again today, and in abundance. We feel stronger externally and internally. Next week I want to (God willing) finally share a few reflections on the nature of bodily / spiritual trials.
Thank God for the Word that went out from our Eastside pulpit today. Marcelle and I were so encouraged by Le’ahm and Uaundja this morning and by Edgar and Josh tonight. His Word was nourishing to our souls: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul…” (Ps. 19:7)
May you all have a good night’s rest. Remember the afflicted, particularly Joubert B's mom at this time. As we enter into a new working week may our Lord guard and keep you in all your ways. Yours, as always in the wonderful love of Jesus, J & M
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne; Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own! Awake, my soul and sing, of Him who died for thee,And hail Him as thy matchless King throughout eternity. (Verse1: Matthew Bridges)
Day 22(J); 17(M)
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:33,34)
This verse has walked with me a long time – at least for 43 years, when I first confessed the Name of Jesus and became a Christian through a series of marvelous providences.
We had a home medical visit from our excellent Dr. Z. tonight. Whilst we are not completely out of the woods yet, we are making good process. Indeed, each day is a gift from God, and that is why the text speaks to our hearts. And again we remind ourselves, that this is the way in which life is meant to be lived. Not in large chunks … but in daily and humble dependence upon God. He is the Giver and Taker of Life – ultimately. The Bible warns us repeatedly against presumptuous living. James warns us,
“… yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that…” (James 4:14,15)
Well, there we are at the end of another day, and God has been good and kind. We had some special interactions with some people today. We remember you all with love and gratitude to God, from whom all blessings flow. J& M
“Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave, And rose victorious in the strive, For those He came to save. His glorious now we sing, who died and rose on high; Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.” (Verse 2: Crown Him with many crowns – Matthew Bridges- 1851)
Day 23(J); 18(M)
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom“. (Psalm 90:12). I quoted this text right at the beginning on the 24th June when I first fell ill with Covid. I want to get back to this text with the help of this text below:
“O LORD make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Psalm 39:4)
God has designed us to live! And every urge towards that end should be protected. For this reason Christians protect the life of the unborn. The hospital movement in the world was essentially born out of a Christian compassion for the sick. Christians embrace the proper science and technology that accompanies healing. Think of how many Christians were used in the development of medical science which now works for our advantage. Praise the Lord!
The sad thing is that we fallen people are rarely able to give glory to God, but we very quickly turn to worship the knowledge and things of and from God, and make them an end in itself (see Romans 1:18-23). It is a wonderful provision when we are healed because of medicine, or when illness can be prevented by way of a vaccine. However, remember that there is an appointed day on which you will die (irrespective of vaccine or treatment) and you will have to give an account God (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 9:27).
How is it today with your soul and God? On what are you resting your final confidence following your death, when you too must meet your Maker? The Bible has only one solution, and it is not a thing, or a method or a medical application. It is a Saviour! John says, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Dear one, if you are uncertain about your eternal future, then look to Jesus NOW, and look no further. Trust in Him ALONE. He is your final resting place. He wears the Crown.
Again, thank you for praying for us and loving us today in the wonderful marvelous love of God. We are steadily improving under God’s good hand and we trust Him for further fruitful work in the gospel – until He finally comes or calls.
With sincere Christian love for you all, J&M
“Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side, rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified; no angel in the sky can fully bear that sight, but downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.” (Verse 3: Crown Him with many crowns - Matthew Bridges 1851)
Day 24(J); 19 (M)
“O taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”(Psalm 34:8)
One of the significant aspects of having Covid is that one’s taste-buds disappear! It’s been weeks since Marcelle and I have last tasted a meal in the proper sense of that word. We are encouraged that there appears to be is a hint of “taste return”. Thank God for Susan M's delicious meal tonight. Susan, we could taste the love in your cooking! All that being said, we wanted to testify to an even greater sense of taste, in terms of our spiritual appetites, and as indicated in our text.
We have really tasted God’s wonderful goodness deep in our souls at this strange time. We cannot explain this on a natural level. We simply say this and reiterate this: God has mercifully visited us in this time of affliction, and has given us more perspective, more love and more joy at this time… and it is lovely.
We live in a moralistic, therapeutic, deistic society . This is a term that was first introduced in the 2005 book “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers” by the sociologists Christian Smith/ Melinda Lundquist Denton. The term is used to describe what they consider to be the common beliefs among U.S. youths. In this society (like our own) we are close enough to God to know what is right and wrong, and we use him as a sort of heavenly extra, and we know that He is there (in theory), but in reality He is so inconsequential when push comes to shove! God is not central but peripheral in this way of thinking. The point is that this sort of religion kills the heart of our Christian faith.
Thank God then for suffering. Suffering has peculiar qualities in Christian experience. We see this in the Bible. Don’t look for it! But when God sends you into that valley, embrace that which He has for you and see Him there! And there He is. More than sufficient, more than able and oh so good!
With these thoughts we encourage you to remain in the love of Jesus. Thank you once again for loving us and praying for us today, J&M
1.“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.
2 You fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds you so much dread; Are big with mercy and shall break, In blessings on your head. (William Cowper 1774)
Day 25(J); 20 (M)
“Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6)
Today began with some effort, as the bodies need to adjust to medicine withdrawal and to rebuilding of capacity. Climbing stairs takes some effort as gravity interacts with some diminished muscle tone. But we are glad to be moving again. Marcelle and I went to the hairdresser today for the first time in ages. Marcelle’s hairdresser has become a Christian in this difficult season. Praise the Lord! Their talk was full of the joy of the God who saves. I had another very meaningful spiritual conversation with a young man who sometimes attends at Eastside, and he has testified to significant dealings of God with his soul at this time. Again, praise the Lord! The thought occurs to me often these days … could this be a time when against all the odds, God might pour out His Spirit in revival power… again, as per our text? Let’s pray, dear brothers and sisters. God,in history has often been pleased to work in adversity. My long standing studies in, and love for church history and the history of revival makes me hope that this will be so!
This evening we had our very first special dinner guests in a long time. Our son Jonathan and his bride to be, Jeané K. came for supper, for the first of six of our pre-marital counselling sessions. It was indeed a special time. At the end of this I hope to have my pre-marital counselling booklet re-written, and for further use in fighting the good fight for God-centered marriages.
In the meantime the work of the virus continues. The sad news reached us today of the Covid related death of the wife of a very dear pastor under whom I served as a pastoral-intern in 1989, at Bellville Baptist Church. May the Lord comfort Pastor Andre B. (Benoni Baptist Church) and his children at this time.
Pray for all our health-workers. Pray for the renewal of the church in the midst of these days. The church in God’s economy remains the primary salt and light distributor on earth! (Matthew 5:13-16)
Again, with sincere love in Jesus, J &M
1 We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love, for Jesus who died, and is now gone above. Refrain: Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.
2 We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.
3 We praise thee, O God, for the joy thou hast giv’n to thy saints in communion, these foretastes of heav’n. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.
4 Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.
(WP McKay 1863 – written in a time of Revival)
FINAL REFLECTIONS – CHRIST WEARS THE CROWN
Day 26(J); 21 (M)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(Eph. 2:4-8 ESV)
Last week I said that I intended this daily ‘accountability page’ to come to a close. Today is the day. In this final reflection I wanted to say a little something about the physical realities in terms of this virus.
1. Be careful! This isn’t a common flu.
2. If you suspect that you have flu-like symptoms, get tested immediately.
3. Start treatment immediately. Many people may have died because they may have waited simply too long. You may have noticed that the real struggle for us did not occur in the first week, but well into the second week. On a medical level our treatment began immediately, and that action may have saved us later. Maintaining good oxygen levels is the key to recovery.
4. If you are older, you may have to expect a longer recovery season. Therefore take care and rest and be sensible. Your family and church family still need you to be around.
5. Make sure that you have your house in order (2 Ki. 20:1). Now is the time to make sure that your will is up to date and accessible.
6. Settle family matters and make peace with people, as far as it depends on you (Romans 12:18).
7. If you happen to find yourself with Covid, embrace the season, and see the good hand of the God who is rich in mercy, at work in you. And don’t give into a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). Let the joy of the Lord be your strength (Neh.8:10). Remember that Christ wears the crown, and He is utterly sufficient for such days. If you must die, be sure that you do this leaning on the strong arms of Jesus.
8. Do whatever is reasonable and sensible to prevent the spread of this virus, whether that means vaccination or social distancing, observing hygiene protocols etc.
Once again, thank you so very, very much for encouraging us so much in word and deed at this time.
And now let us pray that this Covid season will not be wasted on us, our families, our churches and nation. Pray for revival (Psalm 85:6). Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (Jas. 4:8)
Yours in the deep love of Jesus, J &M
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love; Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
(Samuel T. Francis – 1875)
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