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Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.

After about a week in the hospital, Alice came home again. Now she could be fed through a tube directly into her stomach. It seemed a strange way of being fed, and Alice herself did not always appreciate it. The insertion of a plastic tube into the small opening into her stomach did not hurt, but seemed to be a bit uncomfortable for her. Not a few times the tube would be inserted too far—and Alice was sure to let us know; or it was not always inserted far enough. But she again received necessary nourishment. Alice could still eat and drink by mouth if she wished—and she did keep trying to drink a bit. But that fear of choking was lessened. The family was reassured in knowing that Alice was not starving to death.

Good Morning Alice: 

It’s snowing again this morning and cold. We have more bunnies and no cardinals. I don’t know where they go in the cold, but they don’t come here! 

I think these verses

John 15:26-27

teach us a good lesson. As with a lot of John’s gospel, we may think Jesus is talking just to the disciples. He is talking to His disciples, but it is still God’s, Word to us, just like Paul’s letters to Corinthians are. 

When the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, sent by Jesus, from God the Father, He testifies in our hearts, (whether that comes before conception or late in life) of the salvation Christ has merited for us. 

And although it’s true, we were never with Jesus bodily, when we confess we belong to Him, we are also to bear witness of Him even by our actions. 

Let us strive to live, that others may see Him living in US. 

With love, Your friend 

Please read

I Tim. 1:14-16

The additional work of tube feeding, plus the increasing amount of care required by Alice, was again placing undue stress on John’s family. It was becoming once more a question whether they could continue to bear the brunt of the work. The rest of the family tried to take their regular turns; and regular nursing care helped. But the greatest stress still fell on John’s family. Surely it was only by the wonderful grace of our God, and by taking each day at a time, that all of the necessary care could be given.

Good Morning Alice: 

I’ve been “in” Timothy a couple of times in societies and these verses always strike me.

The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant! 

I, too, say I am chief of sinners. At first I could never see how Paul could say that, but the more I see my own sin, the more I understand. There is no one that I know that sins as much as I do. I can number them all day long. I was impatient, I neglected prayer, again! I wasted time that I could or should have used better. I was selfish (why don’t my kids think of my needs once), and on and on and on. 

But verse 14 tells me of God’s boundless grace; verse 15 tells me how I receive that grace, and verse 16 tells me that my salvation is used as an example to others. And THAT should make me desire all the more to obey. 

Oh, that my children, friends, and neighbors can see God’s grace in me—to everlasting life. 

What exceeding abundant grace we receive, Alice—how thankful we must be because we know what we are saved from! 

With love, Your friend 

Please read

Isaiah 63:7

The daily notes from Alice’s “friend” continued to arrive—to her great joy. She looked forward to each one, and, in fact, eagerly awaited the mailman each day. She seemed to know just when the mailman would arrive at this rural mailbox. We never did figure out just how she knew this. She could not look directly out of any window to see his arrival. Somehow she must have noticed a reflection or heard some sound which indicated that he had come. She was pleased always at the other cards she received too. And she would insist on sharing both the note and other cards with her nurse and the rest of the family. And her “friend” especially gave new hope and encouragement for another day.

Good Morning Alice: 

It looks like it’s going to be another sunny day! It sure does get light earlier and earlier.

The verse I told you about for today really makes me ashamed. Isaiah says he will make mention. I don’t think what Isaiah says here is that he will suggest in passing as we use that word; I think what he says is that he will list often the lovingkindness of the Lord. 

I’m sure of that, because he doesn’t stop there; he goes right on to describe the wonderful mercies of God. 

How we fail! We thank God in our prayers for His love and kindness, and when we discuss with friends, we tell of God’s mercies to us; but we fall far short of Isaiah’s free way of expressing gratitude. 

Maybe it would help to read this verse often, putting our own names in, and truly be thankful. 

And again, as always, I’ve seen how important it is to continually read and search God’s Word. When we do, He gives us all we need—and so richly! 

With love, Your friend 

Please read

John 8:36

Alice enjoyed participating in family activities. Though she could not move more than her head and eyes, and could not speak anymore, she enjoyed watching the children and listening to their conversations. And frequently, she would want to contribute something: some minor detail of a story being told, or some report of recent news from South Holland, IL; she insisted on correcting anything which was not correctly told. And her ever-present spelling card would be required to spell out, painstakingly, what she wanted others to know. Often, it was rather unimportant information or changes, but she had made her contribution—something which pleased her immensely.

Good Morning Alice: 

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 

The Jews talking with Jesus were very upset with Him when He told them the truth would make them free. 

They were Pharisees, Abraham’s seed, free already—who said they weren’t? 

Jesus firmly teaches them that whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. But then He gives a wonderful promise. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. That is living in the circle of that law of liberty we talked about. That is freedom.

We know we are the children of God because of His testimony in our hearts, but we have to be ever watchful that we are not careless with our salvation. We cannot think just because we are elect we automatically live in that liberty. 

Yes it is Christ who has made me free, but I must now consciously strive to abide in that liberty by living in obedience to Him that I can know that freedom. 

And then I also long for the day that I will be with Him, and no longer have to battle my “‘old man” to experience that freedom. 

In Him for Whom we wait, Your friend 

Please read

Romans 8:23-28

(Why don’t you read the whole beautiful chapter, Alice?)

Participation could take other forms as well. Alice always enjoyed playing the old and new parlor games: Rook, Trionomoes, Racko, and others. When she could still use her hands, that worked well. Now she could not do that anymore. But ways were devised that she could still play one game: Uno. With a special rack, Alice would select her playing card by nodding a “yes” or “no” as her neighbor pointed to each card in turn. And she really would enjoy making another to “draw four”. Frequently Alice would win the game, too.

Good Morning Alice: 

When you start reading

Romans 8,

you want to keep going and then read it over and over.

From verse 1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus . . . . ” to the very end of the chapter, “For I am persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” But I better stick to the verses that I asked you to read: verses 23-28. 

It is explained here so clearly why we don’t experience total freedom from sin. It is our hope to be with God, without sin. If we experienced that now, we would no longer have that strong hope to be with God. 

But we do hope, and because that hope is so great (life forever with Him, without sin—can you imagine?) we patiently wait for that day. 

Just as the Spirit works that hope in us, so He helps us wait! 

And He prays for us! Don’t you find it so often that you just don’t know what to pray for? You ask one thing and then you think: is that what I need? Is that in God’s will? 

And so often we just don’t pray enough. But God knows all and determines all and in His mercy, His Spirit, in unity with Him, makes intercession for us—makes our prayer conform to God’s will. 

Knowing all this, we know too that whatever comes in our life, it is God’s will. He desires—and more—He causes our lives to be the way they are—for our good. 

If we can just acknowledge this and trust in Him whatever comes our way, we will face it as the conquerors He makes us. 

May you conquer your day in Him, Alice. 

In His love, Your friend 

Please read

II Tim. 4:7-8