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Waiting for God
Easy to say but hard to do.
Sinful human nature wants to run.
“I need it now,” I am tempted to say.
But the Holy Spirit commands me to wait.
For His glory and my good, He causes me to follow Him.

Obeying my God
Even when my own way I want,
My loving Father my heart does turn
And reminds, “your every need I fulfill.”
On the cross, His only begotten Son died
So in Heaven soon I will stand in white arrayed before Him.

Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.” I remember learning this Psalm for Sunday School merit work as a seven-year-old little girl and its first verse is my favorite text. What a comfort to be taught the Scriptures and to be able to recall many wonderful texts which have been a source of encouragement as I live with Cerebral Palsy (CP).

Some adults, young people and children have special needs because of how God directed their development in their mother’s womb. In some instances, God worked in such a way that he caused some babies to suffer a significant injury shortly before, during or shortly after birth. Other fellow believers may have suffered injuries or illnesses as a child, young person or adult through which their heavenly Father is pleased to give them special needs until he brings them to their heavenly home.

On March 31, 1972, my life’s journey as a special member of the body of Christ began. In his infinite wisdom, my heavenly Father’s hand created me with an abnormally short umbilical cord which wrapped around my neck and cut off my oxygen supply at birth. It was his will to use the doctor’s hands to preserve my life on this Good Friday morning. As a result of this lack of oxygen, my brain was significantly injured. My heavenly Father had determined that all the muscles of my body would be affected to one degree or another by my brain injury. In faith, trusting his wisdom, my parents brought me, their firstborn, home and lovingly cared for and instructed me to the best of their ability. Over time, they learned that my brain injury was called Cerebral Palsy and it was God’s will for me to be afflicted with this disability for my entire life upon earth,

For the first ten years of my life, it was God’s will for me to receive therapy and my education through the public school system. Home visits by therapists and nurses and regular group therapy sessions helped my parents carefully teach their tiny infant skills that “normal” babies learn easily on their own. Then my mother had to put her little toddler on a bus and entrust her care to bus drivers, teachers, aides, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists on a daily basis. Soon this toddler was a little girl, learning the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, and also working hard to learn how to control her muscles to the best of her ability to use a wheelchair, walk with a walker, speak as clearly as possible and do her schoolwork on a typewriter with a special guard placed over the keys to keep her hands and fingers from striking too many keys at once.

Mainstreaming from a special education classroom to a regular classroom was just beginning when my parents mainstreamed me to Hope Protestant Reformed Christian School. Teaching a special needs child in a regular classroom setting was a brand new concept for our Protestant Reformed Christian schools. Even in the public school setting, special needs students were just starting to mingle with, and join the regular education students for various activities in the classroom. My classroom teacher was unable to teach me as much as she felt I could handle because of the various special needs of the rest of the students in her classroom. When the Lord led my parents to discuss with my teacher the possibility of mainstreaming me to Hope School, she was very supportive and in fact had been prepared to talk to my parents about exploring this possibility.

I had attended Sunday School since Pre-Kindergarten and catechism since kindergarten with the children at Hope Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan who were my age. I advanced through each year of Sunday School and Catechism with the same class of kids but when I was mainstreamed, I was enrolled in Hope School‘s 4th grade class when I was 10½. The 4th grade class at Hope School was a small class of 19 students and my knowledge and skills were at the 4th grade level. Thanks be to God for the faithful labors of Miss Winifred Koole who was my first teacher at Hope School! Being the first special needs student to be mainstreamed to Hope School was a blessed experience for me, my parents, grandparents, siblings, relatives, teachers, fellow students and all my fellow saints.

Beginning in sixth grade, I spent many late nights and Saturdays, at my typewriter and later at my computer, finishing assignments. I worked hard and spent hours in my bedroom finishing assignments, reviewing material for tests and final exams. My studies were far from easy for me, but after six years of hard work, I was able to graduate from 9th grade with 13 classmates. My class was smaller than when I was first enrolled in Hope School because we lost students when Heritage Christian School in Hudsonville, Michigan opened.

After graduating from Hope Protestant Reformed Christian School, by God’s grace I was enrolled in Covenant Christian High School. Because my ninth grade year had been a more difficult year for me mentally and emotionally due to the increased complexity of the workload, my sophomore year was carefully planned for me. I was enrolled in five courses and two study halls each of my three years at Covenant. Since science classes were difficult for me, I was exempted from Biology and would fulfill my science requirement by taking Earth Space Science during my senior year. Eating my lunch during 4th hour study hall my sophomore and junior years enabled me to fellowship with the student body and watch intramurals during lunch break.

As I look back over my nine years of Christian education, I am so thankful for the fellowship I enjoyed with the students and teachers. I would not have been able to experience such fellowship if I had remained in the public school system. What a blessing that we fellow saints can, for the most part, learn and grow up together from infancy until we graduate from high school. This fellowship has indeed made my experience as a member of the body of Christ joyful. I had felt the love of Christ through the care and concern of my fellow saints through my entire life. Many have also seen Christ’s love and compassion as they have observed me working hard at learning and just living my life even outside the Christian school setting. For example, a fellow member of my congregation recently remarked that he remembered how the young people who knew me at the young people’s conventions I attended would encourage the young people who weren’t from the Grand Rapids area to listen while I spoke during discussion groups or wait patiently for me when I participated in an activity.

What a blessing to have had Christian School teachers who assisted my parents in teaching me how to use my talents to the best of my ability. My graduation from Covenant Christian High School was a momentous event for me, my parents, my classmates, family and all my fellow saints who knew and loved me. It indeed was a time for us to celebrate the completion of many years of hard work, of nine years of Protestant Reformed Christian education in which God had indeed given me much grace through the patience and assistance of my loving parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers and classmates to serve him by completing the work he had given me to do.

After graduation, my heavenly Father led me to continue my education and study accounting at Davenport College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Just before I started college, I began to use a power wheelchair which helped me get around campus and my community independently. No more did I have close friends available to help me during the day as I had in junior high and high school. With the help of Student Services at the college, I was able to get all the assistance I needed during the day. A second cousin attended Davenport College and her class schedule allowed her to help me get acclimated to campus, assist me during my free time, bring my computer (which was attached to a desk on wheels) to most of my classes my first term of college. I started college as a full time student, but I soon realized it was the Lord’s will for me to be a part time student. I had to make time to travel by GO!BUS (a door-to-door public transportation service for the disabled) and depending on their schedule I could spend a lot of time waiting for my ride and traveling between home and school. This cut into my study time.

After three years at Davenport College, I received an Associate Degree. Then I waited on the Lord for his will concerning a job. During this time, I volunteered doing data entry at Davenport College’s Placement Department, and helped my dad’s auto body shop business with their Accounts Payable. It took over a year of waiting on the Lord before I started volunteering at Hope Network. Eventually, I became an employee of Hope Network. Last February, I began my 15th year of employment at Hope Network. I have had positions in Billing and Accounts Payable. The majority of the time I have been responsible for data entry of the daily pay data of many of the special needs people we provide paid work to in our sheltered workshops or in various companies in the community.

As I reflect on my life, I am also thankful for the many good gifts that I have been able to use as I serve the Lord in every aspect of my life in this world as a child of God. Even the actions and laws of the world have been used by God to provide for my daily needs. I have in mind the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Yes, it is a law written by ungodly men, but it is one of God’s gifts to his people. When you go about your daily activities in the community, look at all the ramps, elevators, spacious restrooms, lower sinks and drinking fountains, wide aisles, wheelchair accessible store counters, more merchandise and exhibits at the eye level of a person using a wheelchair, special seating for those using mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes. Think about the kindness shown to you and your loved ones by the medical community. These conveniences make life easier for the person with special needs in the church and in the community.

Throughout the thirty-nine years of my life, the Lord has been with me and my family, upholding us in the joys and sorrows his loving hand has sent us. My family, church family and other fellow believers have been such a blessing to me. Truly, I have experienced the blessedness of the communion of saints. It means so much to me when a family member or other fellow believer will take the time to stop and engage or try to engage in a conversation with me. In a crowded church narthex, or busy family gathering, it can take more effort to understand my speech; but with some patience and careful listening, most of the time I can be understood. I am so thankful for the group of adults and young adults in the Grand Rapids area who take the time to organize activities for those who have special needs to fellowship with one another and for others who are interested in being close friends.

Parents and young people, please help the young children in your family feel comfortable around special needs people. Answer your family’s questions truthfully. If you have questions, do some research so you and your family are made more aware of the possible needs of the brother or sister in Christ who holds a very special place in the church. Take time to discuss with your family how each of God’s children is uniquely created in his image and has a special place in Christ’s church. Point out that God makes no mistakes and there really are no “accidents” because he determines and directs each life according to his will. I feel that it is alright to ask questions. That is how we learn about the life struggles of our fellow saints and how our heavenly Father bestows boundless grace upon them to be content.

I am thankful God has blessed me with this grace each day to live my life. I need his grace and strength to awake early and to take about two hours to prepare for the day with my mother’s assistance. I need grace to use the GO!BUS to go to and from my job. I need his grace to carry me through when I am weaker and more tired. I need grace to remain patient throughout each day because each task and activity is more difficult and takes more energy for me to do than it would for a “normal” person. I am so thankful that God’s grace is sufficient for my every need.

Clinging to his promises, I know that he will continue to give me the grace to trust him to provide for all my needs as he leads me down my life’s path. This path will lead me one day to my eternal home where he will make my soul and body perfect. All my sins, my physical limitations and all my struggles will be for ever gone! Sing with me Psalter 203 stanzas 2 and 4:

Thy counsel through my earthly way
Shall guide me and control,
And then to glory afterward
Thou wilt receive my soul.

Tho’ flesh and heart should faint and fail,
The Lord will ever be
The strength and portion of my heart,
My God eternally.

On the second Wednesday of this month, the consistories call to worship the members of the Protestant Reformed Churches in observance of Prayer Day. At this special worship service, we are reminded of our complete dependence upon the Lord and ask him to bless our labors. Soon the farmers will prepare their fields and will plant their crops. Then they will have to wait on the Lord as he, according to his sovereign will, causes the seeds to grow and bring forth fruit.

Often in Scripture, we are reminded of our calling to wait upon the Lord. The devil is well aware how difficult waiting on the Lord can be for us as children of God. Our sinful flesh wants everything now. We do not want to wait. If our sinful flesh dominates our life, we easily become distressed, afraid, anxious and restless. When this happens, we must ask God for the strength necessary to resist the devil and remind ourselves that we can and must wait on the Lord.

Our life in this world is characterized by waiting. From our earliest days, our parents have taught us the importance of waiting patiently. Whether it was waiting for our fathers to return home from work, for visitors to arrive, a birthday or another special day, we had to be taught to wait patiently. This lesson was probably difficult for us to learn as toddlers and preschool age children. As soon as we started school, we quickly learned the importance of waiting patiently in the classroom and on the playground. We had to learn to be patient while we waited for our assignments and tests to be graded. We had to learn to take turns while we were playing with our fellow students. In junior high, high school and college we, as young people, must constantly wait on the Lord for direction in our decisions in regards to our future education and our employment. We must wait on the Lord as we look for a mate or seek to serve him in single life.

Remember, the Lord directs the paths of our lives. Since this is true, we must make a conscious effort to wait on him as he continually guides us down the paths he has chosen for each of us to walk. We all need to be reminded of this again and again. The devil so quickly tempts us into thinking we do not need the Lord because it is so easy for us to make our own decisions. Everything seems to be going well for us, then suddenly we have a bad day and maybe a bad week. The devil knows this and now tempts us to get down on others and even on ourselves. Then suddenly the Lord graciously causes us to realize that we are not continually depending upon him for his guidance.

When we go to God, asking for forgiveness for our failures in waiting on him, we are assured of his grace toward us. Our troubles might not automatically disappear, but he reminds us that he is close to us and will never leave us. We must wait on him as he leads us through good times as well as the difficult times. The Holy Spirit inspired David to remind us twice in Psalm 27:14 of our calling to wait on the Lord; “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” In this Psalm, David confesses his complete trust in the Lord as his Light and his Salvation. Even though a host which is a huge army should encamp against him and go to war against him (verse 3); if his father and mother forsook him (verse 10); David believed the Lord would still be with him and be good to him. Cruel enemies were pursuing David, but he continued to trust the Lord’s leading him down a plain path.

As children of God, we must constantly ask him for the strength to wait patiently on him. How often do we forget to do this? Our personal prayers are rightfully filled with petitions to bless our loved ones, to bless the causes of the kingdom and to forgive our sins. Our prayers should not lack the request for the strength to wait upon the Lord. Each day we have to put forth a conscious effort to make this request. Then we ought to thank him for the grace we have been given in the past to trust in him alone.

In the way of confessing our trust in God alone, we will be made more aware of our complete dependence upon our God and Father. Committing ourselves to the Lord in all of the circumstances of our life, we will experience a greater enjoyment of the Lord’s blessing. Isaiah 40:31 speaks of this blessedness: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” We know we are unable do this in our own strength. The Holy Spirit must continue to give us this strength.

Depending on our Father, we experience a joy which cannot be taken away from us. As he speaks of the power of God in the salvation of his people, Isaiah testifies of this joy in Isaiah 25:9: “And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” This salvation is graciously ours and nothing is able to take it away from us. We may be experiencing great difficulties in our lives. We may be facing great temptations, but we know God is in control. What a comfort this is for us and this gives us a joy which will never be taken away from us.

Are we living the way we are commanded to live? Or are we giving in to our sinful natures? Do we go about our studies, employment and other daily activities humbly serving the Lord by serving others? Or are we letting the sin of pride dominate our lives?

All of us have to fight the sin of pride all life long. We can so easily elevate ourselves above others when we hear either good or bad news about others. Immediately we can speak words and think thoughts that give in to our sinful natures. “I would never do that,” or “I would have done that differently if you would ask me.” We say such phrases or think such thoughts or hear them from the lips of others. Then we go about our activities without considering that these phrases or thoughts are the result of falling into the sin of pride.

As we consider this, we realize that we have to constantly battle pride. All sin is rooted in pride because our human natures think we are wiser than God. Remember how Satan spoke through the serpent to Eve when he tempted her to partake of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 3:4, 5 we read, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” This was the serpent’s response to Eve when she tells him they may not eat or touch the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil lest they die. In pride Eve adds to God’s command to them, and this was wrong for her to do. God did not forbid them from touching the tree’s fruit, but he commanded them to not eat it. She then sees that the fruit of the tree was desirable to her eyes, took of it and ate it. She gave the fruit to Adam and he ate of it.

Through this sin of our first parents, the whole human race along with the creation fell under the curse. Think about how dreadful the sin of pride is. Because of sinful pride, a beautiful creation became ugly. Adam and Eve had been created to bear the image of God and now they needed to be covered with clothes to hide the shame their naked bodies displayed as a result of their sin against their God and Creator. They attempted to cover themselves by making aprons out of fig leaves, but God clothed them with coats of skins. Blood had to be shed and animals had to die because of Adam’s sin. Shedding the blood of animals for sacrifice in the Old Testament points towards the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. He is the Lamb of God who willingly sacrificed his life as he died on the cross to pay for this original sin and all the sins of his people.

Meditating on this great truth should cause us to humbly thank God for paying the ultimate price for our sins. We do not deserve this gracious gift of God to us. We deserve to be cast into hell forever. We deserve to spend eternity paying for our sins. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because Christ suffered the agony of hell and died the death we deserved to die, we will spend eternity in heaven thanking him for our great salvation. He was forsaken as he gave his life for us so that we can enjoy fellowship with God forever. He paid the debt we owed God so that we have the privilege of being taken to heaven when we die. This should always be the reason for our humility.

Our duty to glory in the Lord is a duty we must not take lightly. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God demands of Judah that they glory in him only: “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23, 24). The apostle Paul refers to the passage in Jeremiah in I Corinthians 1:31, “That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” We are called to glory in the Lord constantly throughout life. We may not take any breaks from this duty. God demands this of all of his people including young people.

As young people of the Church, you must be constantly aware that the battle against the sin of pride is fierce. Throughout the day, you must ask God for strength to fight this battle. You cannot fight this battle alone, for then you will certainly fall into the snare of the devil. Remember this as you wake up in the morning to prepare for the day. Think about this as you attend your classes and thank the Lord for your teachers. As you go to your place of employment, humbly ask the Lord for the strength to please him. In your recreation, seek to do the activities which would glorify his Name. Pray for grace to keep your mind fixed on him. At the end of the day, think about the activities you were engaged in and where you fell short of your calling to glory in the Lord. Then go to God in prayer confessing your sins and asking him for forgiveness.

As you strive to glory in the Lord you will experience the blessing of the Lord. The Lord is pleased when you glory in his name. Seek to please him always. When you are faced with peer pressure to give into pride, pray for the grace to resist this temptation. The more you think about the Lord and the great salvation he has given you, the easier it will be to give him the glory. Encourage each other as fellow saints to honor the Lord at all times. Continue to grow together in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Use the opportunities he has given you in your home, school, worship services, catechism and society to learn more of him. Trust God for the strength to daily fight the battle of faith and then humbly thank him for the grace he gives you to serve him each day of your life.

June has arrived, and for most of our readers, so has the beginning of the summer season. Many of us are looking forward to vacations and having more time to relax. Those of us who are students are looking forward to having more opportunities to earn money. While we enjoy the opportunities to labor and also rest, may we not lose sight of the true riches of the kingdom of heaven during the summer months.

Especially during the summer months, when many of us may be more tempted to obtain the riches of this world, may we remember the words of Jesus in his well-known Sermon on the Mount (or Sermon on the Kingdom). Matthew 6:19-21 records Jesus’ teaching concerning the contrast between the earthly treasures and the heavenly treasures. In this passage, he teaches the multitude gathered around him, his disciples, and all his people the proper attitude concerning earthly and heavenly treasures. In these verses, he states: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” We must pray for the grace and strength to do this because our sinful human nature can be so easily tempted to focus more on the corruptible earthly riches and less on the incorruptible heavenly riches.

As we fight this temptation, we have an entirely different attitude from most people in this world who are never satisfied with the earthly riches they have but are always coveting more riches. When we think about our Savior obtaining the true heavenly riches for us, then we are humbled. He is the Son of God and king of all creation who left the glorious riches of heaven, became a man and was born into poverty. When he was born, his mother Mary “wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Our God and Savior lived a life of poverty the entire 33½ years he walked upon this earth. Jesus implied this when a scribe came to him and told him that he was going to follow him whithersoever Jesus went. Jesus responded to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). The apostle Paul reminds us of our Savior’s poverty in II Corinthians 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” Our Lord Jesus loves us so much. He became a man and lived in poverty. Not only did he become a poor man, but he also took upon himself our sins and paid for all of them. Having paid for our sins through his suffering and death, he arose from the grave and ascended in heaven where “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). Because Jesus is exalted in heaven, we have eternal life and can enjoy the true riches of his heavenly kingdom forever.

With our eyes fixed on these true heavenly riches, we must labor when we are given opportunities to provide for our earthly material needs or help our parents provide for these needs. As we cheerfully labor, we should know the primary reason for doing this. We are not laboring just to obtain earthly goods. We are not earning an allowance or paycheck to update our wardrobes with the newest fall fashions. We are not laboring primarily for the means to have fun. We are laboring with our eyes set on the kingdom of heaven.

Thinking on the kingdom of heaven, we are willing to use the blessings of our labors to cheerfully assist our parents and all our fellow saints as the Lord provides. In II Corinthians 9:7, we are exhorted to cheerfully give because God loves a cheerful giver. Young people, pay attention when your parents remind you of the financial sacrifices they are making to provide you with a Christian education, and be willing to discuss with them your ability to assist them with their financial obligations. As young adults who have full-time jobs, may we use this time of our lives to give of our abundance to the causes of the kingdom.

We also can take time during the summer months to fellowship with our families and other fellow saints and enjoy the creation. Many of our young people will gather together as the summer months draw to a close at the Protestant Reformed Young People’s Convention for a week of spiritual fellowship. If we use these special opportunities properly, we will be refreshed physically and spiritually. We should not forget about our spiritual lives while we are enjoying our summer activities. We should be willing also during these times of fellowship to talk about the true riches of the kingdom.

With our minds set on the true riches, we will have a profitable summer. We will use all the opportunities we have to praise our Lord for the riches of salvation. Our goal this summer and always will be a life of serving him because we are thankful for the eternal life he has given us.

This month, we are reminded once again of God’s covenant faithfulness to us, his people, in the changing of the seasons. For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, this year the first day of Spring will be March 21st. Genesis 8:22 records God’s covenant promise to Noah regarding the seasons. “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” For the first two thousand years of history, the whole earth was one climate. Man did not experience the blessing of the seasons before the Flood. One of the lasting effects of the Flood was the creation of the seasons.

When I think about the changing of the seasons, I am reminded of stanza 3 of Psalter 286 where we sing:

The seasons are fixed by wisdom divine,
The slow changing moon shows forth God’s design;
The sun in his circuit his Maker obeys,
And running his journey hastes not nor delays.

What a comfort this stanza, and all of Psalter 286, gives us as God’s children. It reminds us of the sovereignty of our faithful creator over all things including the changing of the seasons. God sent the cold, wet, snowy, dark days of winter to remind us of the curse of sin and death that the world apart from Jesus Christ experiences. Now he sovereignly causes the changes of the moon so that according to his will the seasons change from winter to spring.

Concerning the beauty of the spring season, God inspired King Solomon to write: “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell” (Song of Solomon 2:11-13a). Spring is indeed a beautiful season. Everyone seems to acknowledge this, but we as children of God see the glory of our creator and heavenly Father when we observe though the eyeglasses of faith the beauty of the springtime flowers, the green grass, and the tiny buds on the trees forming into green leaves.

Although year after year we marvel at the beauty of the springtime, we still must remind ourselves that because of Adam’s fall into sin, the most beautiful scenery is under the curse. When Adam fell into sin, God placed the whole creation under the curse. In Genesis 3:17-18, God told Adam that the ground was cursed for his sake and it would bring forth thorns and thistles. Providing for the needs of his family would be so difficult for Adam, that in sorrow he would eat of the crops of the field for the rest of his earthly life. After the Flood, God lifted some of the harshness of this curse off the ground when he created the seasons (Gen. 8:21-22).

Because of the curse, each springtime is just a dim reflection of the eternal springtime of heaven. This is what causes us as children of God to watch with great joy the seasons change from winter to spring. As the creation slowly comes to new life, we are reminded of the new life God has given to each of us whom He has regenerated. We are also led to think of that day when God calls us to close our eyes in death and open our eyes to the glory of heaven. Now we see the glory of each spring gradually take place. When we are brought to our eternal home we will instantly see the full glory of heaven.

We must also think of the end of the world. Even now, the springtime of heaven is not as glorious as it will be when Christ returns as king of this creation to gather his church to himself and to destroy the creation and the wicked world by fire. He will create a new heaven and earth which will be far more glorious than the creation we live in now. Christ revealed this to the apostle John in a vision. Concerning this vision, John writes, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Rev. 21:1). The new heaven and earth will be far more glorious than they are now, and even more glorious than they were before Adam fell into sin. There will be no need for the sun and moon, for the glory of God through Jesus Christ will be the light of the new heaven and earth. This new creation will be glorious because there will be no more sin and death, and all of God’s people will be together enjoying perfect fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

Thinking on these things, let us rejoice in the springtime of this year and every year until we are called to leave the wintertime of this earth and enter the springtime of heaven. As we observe the new life in the creation, let us rejoice as we are led to think about the new life we enjoy in part now and will soon fully enjoy in the new heaven and earth forever.

A new year is a time for reflection. The Year of our Lord 2006 has swiftly drawn to a close and the Year of our Lord 2007 has begun. Has the Lord’s hand touched your life in a striking way in the past year? Have you shed tears because of the loss of a friend or relative in death? Are you or someone close to you dealing with a serious illness or injury? Are you content with your path of life?

The apostle Paul in Philippians 4:11 states: “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” He wrote this letter from Rome where he was imprisoned for his faith. In chapter 1, he speaks of a conflict within himself of remaining on earth or going to heaven to be with the Lord. By chapter 4 of this epistle, he confesses that he is content with God’s will for his life.

Contentment is a hard lesson for all of us to learn. When things are going well for us, it is easy for us to say, “Yes, I am content. I am able to wake up each day and enjoy good health and strength. I am able to do the work the Lord has given me to do as a student or as an employee. I live in a happy home. My friends are always there for me.” This may be true of the circumstances of our lives at this moment. If our lives were to suddenly change today, would we still be content?

For a moment, let us remember the history of Job. Job was a very rich man until he lost almost everything he had when the Lord used Satan to try him. He lost his oxen, sheep, asses, camels, most of his servants, his sons and daughters in one day. Then we read that in the midst of his sorrow over his losses, he confessed in Job 1:21, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” What an amazing confession of faith. Job had lost his sons and daughters and almost everything he owned and he worshipped God and made a beautiful confession concerning the sovereignty of God. Then we read: “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” (Job 1:22) When God used Satan to take away Job’s health and give him boils, Job’s faith faltered and he cursed the day he was born. Then, even though the words of his friends were often mean and unjust, Job again was led to confess God’s sovereignty and became content with His ways. At the end of Job’s trial, God reproved Job’s friends and blessed Job with seven more sons, three more daughters and more animals. We read in Job 42:12, “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.”

Are we quick to say, God won’t send trials as great as Job’s trial into our lives? Then we must remind ourselves that only God knows and controls the path of each person He has created. Job confesses this in Job 23:10, “But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” The prophet Isaiah in chapter 64 verse 8 confesses God’s sovereign control of our lives when he writes, “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Just as the potter can do anything he wants with the lump of clay and the pot he forms with it, so God fashions us and controls our lives. He does whatsoever He pleases with the life of each person He has created. He gives health and strength one moment and then He can suddenly send sickness or injury. He gives us family and friends and then He takes a loved one to Himself suddenly through death. He does this because He is our sovereign God and heavenly Father.

Knowing this, we as children of God find the grace and strength necessary to be content with our path of life, even when we are faced with great trials. We must be content because we know that God uses this life and the trials of this life to prepare us for our place in heaven. That is the goal of our life. We haven’t begun another year to acquire more of this world’s goods. We haven’t resolved to try to do better in our studies to receive more recognition. We haven’t chosen a healthy life-style so we can live longer. By the grace of God, we have asked God to give us more contentment. Being content, we walk with God down the path of life He hath made for us, knowing that we are getting closer to the day when our path will reach the gate of heaven.

We live in a fast-paced society. Every day the media bombards us with stories of corruption and violence. The devil uses the radio, television, newspaper, magazine, billboard, computer, video and DVD to openly display the philosophies of this evil age. The child of God feels the effects of these attacks of Satan as he is called to live in this wicked world.

As the world continues to increase in wickedness, Satan’s weapons are constantly changing, but the weapon of the Word of God never changes. Hebrew 4:12 states, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The child of God must use the Word of God to confront the attacks of Satan. Without the Word of God, he cannot stand against the attacks of Satan. This weapon will overcome all the attacks of Satan against the children of God.

Not only is the Word of God the child of God’s weapon against Satan, but it is also the food he needs for his soul. Just as he needs physical food and drink to sustain his body, he also needs spiritual food to sustain his soul. Going to church twice on Sunday to hear a faithful minister preach the Word of God is not normally sufficient spiritual nourishment for the child of God. He needs to be busy studying the Word as much as possible during the week privately and with his fellow saints.

Paul’s instruction to his spiritual son, Timothy, concerning his work as minister of the church at Ephesus is: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”(II Timothy 2:15) Yes, Paul was encouraging Timothy in the work of the ministry, but all of God’s children who have been blessed with the gift of the ability to study the Word of God need to be reminded of this text at the beginning of this Catechism and Society season.

The ability to study the Word of God is a gift that should never be taken for granted. Young people, thank God for the abilities He has given you to be able to read and study the Bible. The ability to attend Catechism and Society is also a wonderful gift God has given you. When Satan tempts you to be unprepared for Catechism and Society, remember some of your fellow saints have not been blessed with the opportunities or abilities to study the Word. A few of these fellow saints you may know personally and many others you won’t know until you reach heaven. Some of these fellow saints have been given by God various physical and mental afflictions perhaps for most of or their entire life. Other fellow saints live in places where there is war and persecution and are unable to enjoy the freedom to read and study the Word of God. Think about these fellow saints when you are tempted to take preparing for Catechism and Society for granted.

It is so easy for young people and all of God’s children to devote little time to the study of God’s Word because of the busyness of life with so many other activities. Some of these activities are profitable and others are unprofitable. We have to remember to examine ourselves continually and strive to keep our minds focused on the reality that we are pilgrims and strangers in this world and we are on the path to our eternal home in heaven. Yes, there are necessary activities and material goods in this world which we must engage in and use while it continues to be God’s will to bless us with these things. Soon we will be persecuted, and will no longer be able to enjoy this world’s goods. Then Christ will come to destroy the wicked and this creation. He will then create a new heaven and earth where He will dwell with His people forever.

With this in mind, let us make every effort to center our lives around the study of God’s Word. Young people, as you mature spiritually, you will grow more in your love for the Lord and you will desire to participate in profitable spiritual activities more and more. You will see that you need to take the time each day to have personal devotions so you can read and meditate on God’s Word and then go to God in prayer to ask Him to apply His Word to your heart. If you have not already confessed your faith, you will become more aware of your calling to use your catechism instruction to help you grow more to know and love the truth so that you can take this important step in becoming a spiritually mature member of your congregation. You will become more eager to attend the church worship services each Lord’s Day. You will actively participate in society or Bible study class. You will try to schedule your daily activities so that you can participate in devotions with your family. If you are living away from your family, take the time on a regular basis to read and study the Word of God with your friends.

Consciously living a life centered around the Word of God, you will be able to live in this wicked world with your eye fixed on God. As you live among the materialism and corruption of this evil age, the Word of God will constantly remind you that Satan and his weapons will one day soon be forever defeated and cast into hell. You will also grow in your love for the Lord, and will rejoice knowing that soon you will be in heaven and will be serving your Lord perfectly forever.

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” These words of Jesus found in Matthew 25:40 come to my mind as I reflect on my recent trip to Fayetteville, North Carolina. This text is found in the passage where Jesus speaks of His final coming when He will separate the sheep (believers) from the goats (unbelievers). As children of God, we are called to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, wherever we may come into contact with them whether they be those in our home, school, church or in small groups in the USA and throughout the world.

On March 29, 1998, the Protestant Reformed Fellowship of Fayetteville, North Carolina began to meet. At first, they heard the reading of a previously preached sermon. Later, they used videos and then DVDs to hear the preaching of the Word of God. The fellowship consists of two families and two individuals. They desire to establish a formal relationship with our churches. The Domestic Mission Committee of our churches has guided the fellowship for the past eight years. They have sent ministers and elders to encourage the fellowship on a regular basis. During the past year, the fellowship has had monthly visits from a pastor or an elder representing the Domestic Mission Committee.

Located sixty-three miles south of Raleigh, Fayetteville has a population of over one hundred twenty-one thousand. It is the home of Fort Bragg, an United States Army base, which is located northwest of the city.

On March 16-20, I accompanied my parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Moelker, to visit the Protestant Reformed Fellowship of Fayetteville, North Carolina, on behalf of the Domestic Mission Committee. This was my third visit, and I felt blessed to be able to be involved in this work. What a privilege to get to know them better as we visited and worshipped the Lord together.

As I reflect on the visit, I am grateful to God for the many opportunities we have in our congregations and on the mission field to gather together for Bible Study. In our congregations, we have Sunday School, societies and Bible classes for children, young people, young adults and adults. In Fayetteville, we had a Bible Study with most of the group and a few visitors gathered around the table eager to discuss the covenant and seeking a lifelong mate. It was an edifying experience for both old and young to discuss this important aspect of the lives of many believers.

As we prepared for the Lord’s Day, we had opportunity to gather together on Saturday evening for a pizza supper and fellowship with the group. On this evening, the Lord gave us opportunity to meet more visitors. A young woman who had visited on Thursday evening brought her family and a friend to supper. We had an opportunity to visit with another woman who had supper with us. During this meal, we had Christian fellowship with each other. At the conclusion of the meal, we read a passage from Isaiah 53 reading and explaining proof texts for each text, and we sang a few Psalter numbers and prayed together. Then we had more time to visit and some played a few rounds of Speed Scrabble.

On Sunday, we met for worship services in the morning and evening. Three visitors joined us for worship in the evening. Worshipping with these fellow believers, I was again struck by the reality that each Lord’s Day, God’s people throughout the world worship their Creator assembled in large or small groups. God speaks to us through the preaching of the Word whether we are sitting in a church building, a small meeting room or wherever we have the opportunity to meet to hear His Word proclaimed. On this Lord’s Day, we heard God speak to us through His servants by means of a DVD. We heard the powerful message of the gospel, and the Lord was speaking to the heart of each person in the building. The group was also privileged to hear my mother use the keyboard to accompany the singing instead of singing with the DVD.

Our trip to Fayetteville once again impressed upon us the need we all have as believers for fellowship whether in our churches or with contacts outside our churches. All of us are called to encourage each other in our walk with the Lord. Our brothers and sisters in small groups like the Protestant Reformed Fellowship of Fayetteville often feel isolated. We need to remember them in prayer daily and as we go to church each Lord’s Day. If we have the opportunity, we should go visit and spend a Lord’s Day with them. In doing this, we show our love for all our brothers and sisters in Christ, and will experience the Lord’s blessing now and on the final day when He shall say to His people “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” Matthew 25:34.

During this season of year, many young people have the opportunity to show their love and compassion to those with special needs. Several young people’s societies set aside one night during this time of the year to go caroling. They visit the aged and those who have special needs.

Last year, at the beginning of the Christmas season, Faith PRC’s young people’s societies sponsored a Special Needs Program. With the young people’s assistance, many special needs children, young people, and adults participated in the program. Voices joined together in Christmas carols and other songs of praise to worship our Savior. Some of the participants sang solos, duets, read scripture passages and other special writings which testified of God’s grace and goodness to us. It was a wonderful evening that brought tears to many eyes. Many said this program was more edifying than many of the professional concerts given during this season.

In the Grand Rapids area, those with special needs also have the opportunity to get together for fellowship on a regular basis. Young adults and those with special needs have formed a Christian Fellowship Club. At least ten times a year, on the third Saturday afternoon of the month, an outing is organized. We have had cookouts, gone on hayrides, played miniature golf, gone bowling, watched the Holland Tulip Time Parade of Bands, visited John Ball Park Zoo, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and the Fredrick Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sometimes we just meet to play games and sing the songs of Zion.

What a blessing it is when all God’s people can experience fellowship with each other.

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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