Missions of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

Domestic Missions

revaspriensma 1With the organization of the Pittsburgh PR Fellowship into an established congregation in 2016 and the calling of missionary-pastor W. Bruinsma to serve as her pastor, the PRC appointed Byron Center PRC to be the calling church for a new home missionary. In September of 2017 Rev. Aud Spriensma accepted the call to serve this position.

Pastor Spriensma works out of the West Michigan area, where he assists Byron Center PRC's evangelism efforts (for example, the bi-weekly Bible study on the gospel of John held at Dorr Public Library on Thursdays) and other PRCs in the area in their evangelism work. But he is also involved in preaching, presenting mission/evangelism programs, and following up on contacts wherever requested and needed - in the PRCA and beyond.

If you are interested in having the home missionary contact you, please visit this page.

May the Lord of the harvest continue to bless these home mission labors of the PRC and her missionary.

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Who Is Jesus?

Would you like to know who Jesus is and why He is the only Savior of sinners?

Pastor Spriensma has developed a series of brief, basic gospel tracts and podcasts explaining who Jesus is as set forth in the gospel according to John. The entire series may be found on this page and here (podcasts). The individual tracts and podcasts are also listed here with the link (with a printable pdf also attached).

1. Who is Jesus? The Word Made Flesh (podcast)

2. Who is Jesus? The Lamb of God (podcast)

3. Who is Jesus? The Bread of Life (podcast)

4. Who is Jesus? The Light of the World (podcast)

5. Who is Jesus? The Door of the Sheep (podcast)

6. Who is Jesus? The Good Shepherd (podcast)

7. Who Is Jesus? The Resurrection and the Life (podcast)

8. Who is Jesus? The Way, the Truth, and the Life (podcast)

9. Who is Jesus? The True Vine (podcast)

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Below you will find some of our home missionary's recent reports on his labors.

Secretary for Domestic Mission Committee: 

Rev. James Slopsema: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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What Are We Doing?

Report from PRC Home Missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma

[This report was also published in the September 1, 2019 issue of the Standard Bearer.]

Notice the title of the article, “What are we doing?”  Missions is the work of the church.  In the year 2001, we had three home missionaries, working in three different declared fields with church plants:  Northern Ireland, the eastern United States, and the Western United States.  The calling of the church was to pray for our missionaries and, of course, financially support the work with their offerings.

In the year of our Lord, 2019, we have one home missionary, with no declared field of labor, except of course, the whole of the United States and Canada.  Are we doing anything?  Is it the case that eighteen years ago the PRC was considerably more involved with domestic mission work than we are today?  Have we lost our mission-mindedness?

First of all, the Domestic Mission Committee (DMC) does not jump in today and start a church plant immediately when we receive a call to “come over and help us.”  When we received these requests in the past year, the DMC sent their home missionary and others to investigate whether it was feasible to begin a church plant in those areas.

Second, the DMC, with diminished requests “to come over and help us,” is working with a new approach to establish a definite field of labor.  In this model, our congregations are more involved in starting evangelistic Bible studies in their communities and their outlying areas.  To date, we have or have had nine of our congregations busy establishing these outreach Bible studies in various areas along with teaching men in correctional facilities.  Our congregations are developing contacts that they can pursue or refer to our missionary to labor with.

Is this not the labor of home missions?  The congregations are doing the work of missions, not only praying for and financially supporting the work of paid missionaries.  The PRC, I believe, is becoming more evangelistic and energetic in this labor.  Mission work is a very important calling from Christ to His church, for He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” (Matt. 28:19).  In the Canons of Dordt we have a beautiful statement:  “And that men may be brought to believe, God mercifully sends the messengers of these most joyful tidings, to whom He will and at what time He pleaseth; by whose ministry men are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified” (Canons I, Art. 3).  Again, in the Canons, we read, “Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel” (Canons II, Art. 5).

How important this work is, especially for rather isolated churches!  The apostle Paul on his missionary travels preached, and the Holy Spirit established churches that were geographically close to one another:  Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.  These churches could encourage and labor together as the churches of Asia Minor.  In the Philippines, our missionaries labor not only with the first church that was organized, but with pastors and churches that are near the first congregation, so that we now have a federation of churches laboring together.  How important this work is for small churches that have been dependent upon synodical subsidy for many years. It is easy for an organized church, whether large or small, to be content with their church life, not bothering to go and seek to save the lost in the communities around them.  It is through missions that the Lord is pleased to add to His church such as should be saved.

You might ask, “Why have Bible studies in our areas when we already have Bible studies within our churches?  Why go out into the communities when others can come to our worship services?”  There are a number of reasons.  First, one cannot expect those who have little or no church affiliation to travel long distances to come to our churches.  It just will not happen.  Second, these community members would not feel comfortable in many of our church societies or services.  Many of them know little of our Reformed terminology or even Bible history that we take for granted and use.  Third, they do not know anyone else that goes to our church and who often huddle in small groups afterwards.  These people from the neighborhood are often intimidated.

The church and her members must obey Jesus’ command to “Go!”  As we live in different neighborhoods, work in the world’s workplaces, shop in their stores, and eat in their restaurants, we must be friendly, approachable, caring about and listening to our fellow human beings and their life situations.  As the Canons teach, “As to others, who have not yet been called, it is our duty to pray for them to God, who calls the things that are not, as if they were.  But we are in no wise to conduct ourselves towards them with haughtiness, as if we had made ourselves to differ” (Canons III/IV, Art. 15).  One way to reach those in our communities is to set up Bible studies and personally invite folks to join us in seeking the truth from the Scriptures.

And we might then ask, what is our missionary doing?  Your missionary seeks to encourage and inspire our churches in this work by preaching ‘mission sermons’ and doing mission presentations.  The missionary is also available to help the churches set up these Bible studies and pick material to be used. We are also writing material or tracts that will be more easily understood by those with a limited knowledge of the Bible.  Just finished is a series of nine tracts on the subject of the person of Jesus Christ.  It is entitled, “Who is Jesus?”  And when contacts come in to the missionary and the DMC, the New Fields Committee does investigative work to determine if this is where the Lord is opening up a door for us to labor.  The missionary then goes to such contacts and begins a Bible study there.

May the Lord Jesus be pleased to continue to cause His church to love the truth that we have been given and to love our neighbors as ourselves, to seek and to save the lost.  This is our work in home missions.

Divine Election

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Divine Election

Meditation on Ephesians 1:4-6

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In Eph. 1:3, we saw that God “has blessed us…with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” How does such blessing become ours? Is it because we are so good and lovely? How can we possess the blessings God has for us? The answer is found in verses 4-6. Verse 4 begins with the word “according”. The Greek word can also be translated "just as" or "because". It links verse 4 to verse 3 as an explanation for verse 3. Spiritual blessing is ours because God chose us in Jesus Christ before the creation of the world. Why would God do that? These verses emphasize the sovereignty of God in regard to salvation all the way through. The blessings of salvation come because God has determined from before the creation of the world to give them to some people, and for that reason only!

There are various views that people hold about election. There are those who deny the truth of election outright. Others acknowledge that election is taught in Scripture, but it is an election based on foreknowledge. God elects some because He knows beforehand of their willingness to believe. It would be like a captain of a softball team choosing members for his team based upon his knowledge of their ability to play. John Calvin put it like this:

How should God foresee that which could not be? For we know that all Adam’s offspring is corrupted and that we do not have the skill to think one good thought of doing well, and much less therefore are we able to commence to do good. Although God should wait a hundred thousand years for us, if we could remain so long in the world, yet it is certain that we should never come to him nor do anything else but increase the mischief continually to our own condemnation. In short, the longer men live in the world, the deeper they lunge themselves into their own damnation. And therefore God could not foresee what was not in us before he himself put it into us. (Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians).

We believe in God’s sovereign election. We are hopelessly lost in sin. Instead, God in His mercychose us (vs. 4), “in love having predestinated us to the adoption of children” (vs. 5), “according to the good pleasure of his will” (vs. 5). God accomplished our salvation by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for our sins. God made us capable and willing to respond to Him by sending the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and heart to the truth and glory of the gospel. All the blessings we enjoy must be traced back to this sovereign electing purpose of God toward us in Jesus Christ!

What are some of the blessings of election for you and for me as believers? First, election eliminates boasting! This is contrary to the human nature. We like to think that we did something. All the glory of all our salvation is in our Triune God! This is the purpose of election as we read in vs. 6, “to the praise of the glory of his grace…” Second, election gives assurance of salvation! If my salvation were based upon my feelings or my works, I would be one of the most miserable people around. My feelings are so fickle and my obedience so small. Our salvation would be as unstable as you and I are. We might be saved one moment and lost the next. Because our faith is grounded in God’s election, we can be assured of our salvation.

Third, election leads to holiness! We read in verse four, “he hath chosen us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” A person might say, “Well, if I am elect, I suppose I’ll be saved regardless of what I do.” It is like that phrase of the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” In verse 4, the purpose of election is holiness! John Stott says, “Far from encouraging sin, the doctrine of election forbids it and lays upon us instead the necessity of holiness” (Stott, God’s New Society, p. 38). The glory of God is revealed in us as we live positively in holiness, and negatively, without any fault. We stand before the face of God and reveal His virtues. This is the purpose of our election.

Finally, election promotes evangelism! There are those who think that election makes evangelism unnecessary. The argument goes, “If God is going to save certain individuals anyway, then He will save them, and therefore evangelism really is not that important.” What folly that is! The fact that God elects to salvation does not eliminate the means by which He calls those elect persons to faith. God uses the proclamation of the gospel to sinners (Lord’s Day 31). God is pleased to use the testimony of believers and their godly obedience that “others may be gained to Christ” (Lord’s Day 32, Q.A. 86). We do not know who the elect are, but we sow the seed of God’s Word, leaving the harvest to Him.

What a blessed truth for you and me to ponder and celebrate again! God loved me eternally!

Oh love of God, how strong and true, Eternal, and yet ever new, Uncomprehended and unbought, Beyond all knowledge and all thought. (Virgil Taylor, 1847)

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A Golden Chain of Every Spiritual Blessing

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Golden Chain of Every Spiritual Blessing

Meditation on  Ephesians 1:3 

Blessed  be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

My wife Alva always helps me with my writing, correcting the use of tenses, past and present. She also often tells me when my sentences are too long. It is a good thing that she was not there to try to correct the Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit. Our text is the introduction of one long sentence beginning in verse 3 all the way through verse 14. English translators generally break up the words for ease of reading, but in the Greek Paul simply began with a note of praise to God for “every spiritual blessing” and then kept going, adding phrase upon phrase, and doctrine upon doctrine, as he listed these benefits. We could call it a golden chain of many links.

Eph.1:3 is a sort of doxology, with the object: God. The apostle expresses praise to God. And he does that because God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. If we look carefully at this long sentence (vs. 3-14), we will notice the interconnecting doctrine of the Triune God.  The work of God the Father is described in verses 3-6. The work of the Lord Jesus Christ is listed in verses 7-10. The application of this work is by the Holy Spirit, found in verses 11-14. Or we could look at these verses temporally. There is the past blessing of election in verses 4-6. The present blessing of adoption is found in verses 5-8. The future blessing  is given in verses 9-14, when God will gather together in one all things in Christ in which we have an inheritance.

When we read these verses,  do we break forth in praise? Our worship services begin and end with a doxology. So should our prayers, at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day. God is worthy of praise now and always for who He is and what He does. He is not only the Triune God, but He is also the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This means that through our Lord Jesus Christ He blesses us with every spiritual blessing. Our Lord Jesus Christ is personally the Son of God. He is also the Son in His human nature, as He appeared in the world. As the Christ, He came in your and my flesh. The name “Jesus” means that “Jehovah saves.” Jesus took all our sins upon Himself, and with those sins walked the way of the cross. He merited for you and me righteousness and eternal life. As the “Christ”, He was appointed and sent by God. He revealed to us the Father. He took upon Himself our sins and removed them. He rules in us by His Spirit and Word. That is why He is called “our Lord”. This is why the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is the object of the apostle’s praise, and ours!

But let us speak a moment of the “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” In the Greek it is literally, “he hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” The term is singular, referring to the separate spiritual blessings which we have in Christ. What are those blessings? They are the separate spiritual blessings such as forgiveness of sin, righteousness, new life, our adoption as children of God, justification, sanctification, and eternal life. These blessing are numerous. Do you each day think about them and praise God for them? There is a chorus of a hymn that goes: “Count your many blessings, name one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done…”

When they are called “spiritual blessings, they are contrasted with natural or earthly gifts or blessings that God gives. These are spiritual blessings because they are given to us by the of Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle adds, “in the heavens.”  They are heavenly blessings because Christ is in heaven. Christ is exalted, no longer on earth. From heaven, Jesus  our Savior is pouring out on God’s children the benefits of His cross and resurrection. Because we are engrafted into Christ, what is His is ours. His glory is ours. We are “in him” by faith. We are members of His body. These blessings are ours only in Jesus Christ! Each day may we think on this blessing and “praise God from whom all blessings flow!”

In our earthly pilgrimage, we encounter many trials and troubles. Maybe it is a life-long illness, the death of a loved one, the loneliness inflicted upon us by Covid-19, a rebellious son of daughter, or a spouse who has forsaken us. In our tears, we look up to praise God for who He is and what He is doing for us. He hath “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven in Christ!”

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy  you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by.

 When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold; Count you many blessings- money cannot buy, Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great of small, Do not be discouraged- God is over all; Count your many blessings- angels will attend, Help and comfort give you  to your journey’s end.

Edwin Excell (1851 – 1921)

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A Description of God's People

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Description of God's People

Meditation on Ephesians 1:1,2

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

A blessing was spoken by the Apostle Paul to the believers in Ephesus. This letter was written while Paul was in prison, either in Caesarea or in Rome. Paul could have begun his letter with a rehearsal of his many accomplishments or even a reminder of what he had personally endured to bring the gospel of Christ to Asia. Paul did not this. Instead he introduced himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”

He was an apostle. The Greek word literally means ‘to send’. Paul was appointed by the Lord Jesus to go and proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was an apostle “by the will of God.” This means at least two things. First, this letter that is written is not to be regarded as other letters might be, just a friendly letter by a man or woman. This is God’s own revelation . It is from God. Therefore it is all true; it speaks with authority. Second, this letter told his readers how Paul came to be an apostle. It was not by his own will but “by the will of God.” Indeed, if it had not been for God’s sovereign and efficacious will , Paul would not have be an apostle. He would not even have been a Christian! Left to himself, apart from the grace of God, he fought against God and attempted to destroy His church. Is this not a picture of each and every one of us?

The Apostle Paul wrote to believers at Ephesus. He identified them as “the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.” This phrase contains three definitions of believers, what constitutes a Christian.

First, Christians are saints! The Apostle Paul could have addressed them as the church of Jesus Christ. But he did not. He called them saints. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a saint is one of a few particularly holy persons who has proof of at least one miracle, declared by the church to be a saint by ecclesiastical procedure. This is false. To be a saint means that a person has been redeemed and sanctified. This is true of all true believers. Ephesus was a capital city, an old city, that is now in ruins. It was a city that was very idolatrous. These believers were those who were set apart from the world. It is something that God does quite apart from human merit. They are set apart by God in sovereign election, by the redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, and by the work of the Holy Spirit. A Christian is set apart when God reaches down through the person and power of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and thus draws him into the company of God’s church. Every true believer is a saint, set apart from the world. It is not that we are taken out of the world. We are still in the world, but removed from belonging to the world. We belong to God and are set apart to holy service for God.

Second, believers in Jesus are called “the faithful.” There are two ideas in this. The first and primary meaning of the word “faithful” is exercising faith. A Christian is one who has heard the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ and who has then exercised faith in that gospel or believed it. There are two parts in faith. Faith is a sure knowledge of all that God has revealed in His word. Believing, there is a certain assurance or confidence that not only to others but to me also is freely given forgiveness of sins, righteousness and the hope of eternal life. There is a second idea, that of perseverance and the preservation of the saints in Christ Jesus. They “continue in faith.” Because God is faithful, he preserves His saints. He does not let them fall away. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. Therefore, a true believer perseveres; he runs the race set before him. He fights the good fight of faith. He will receive the crown of righteousness when God takes him out of this vale of tears.

Third, believers are “in Christ.” I will not say much about this now, but this is an idea that is characteristic of this book and of Paul’s writings in general. The phrase, “in Christ” or “in him” occurs nine times in the first three chapters of Ephesians and occurs 164 times in all of Paul’s writings. It describes the sphere in which the faithful are placed. To understand a little of what this phrase means, there are numerous images to teach us. There is the union of a man and woman in marriage (Eph. 5:22-33), and the union of the vine and the branches (John 15: 1-17). We have the picture of Christ as the foundation of the spiritual temple and believers as lively stones built upon Him (Eph. 2:20-22). Finally, there is the picture of the human body. Christ is the head, and believers are the members of the body in one organism (I cor. 12:12-27).

From the brief introduction to this letter, what a beautiful description we have of believers: ourselves and our fellow believers in the church! May we keep this in mind as we live our lives and as we deal with one another in the church.

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Sweet Evening Psalm

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Sweet Evening Psalm

Meditation on Psalm 4: 7,8

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

This is a verse that my son-in-law quoted to my mother-in-law the evening before the Lord took her home to glory. This is also a verse that I never used as a call to worship! Please do not go to sleep until after the sermon.

How closely this psalm is related to Psalm 3, which one could call a morning psalm. In Psalm 3: 5 we read, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” Now in Psalm 4: 8 we read, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep.” It is an evening psalm. It reminds me of a prayer taught to us as little children to recite as we went to bed. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord, my soul to keep. If I should die, before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take.”

In verses 6-8, the psalmist delightfully contrasts his own satisfaction and safety with the disquietude of the ungodly in their best estate! “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time when their corn and their wine increased.” In verse one, he cries to the “God of my righteousness”. Indeed, what peace we have when we rest, not in our own good works, but only in the righteousness that God Himself gives to us, the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. There we have peace. God is not against us but for us. This is what we read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you know that peace?

In the midst of trials and difficulties, I will not sit up to watch and wait in fear. Nor will I lay down and stay awake all night with worries, listening to every tick of the clock and the noise coming through my window. I will lie down in peace and sleep. I have nothing to fear! My God surrounds me like a mother hen’s wings cover her young. I have the Good Shepherd watching over and tending the sheep of His flock. I am given guardian angels that are given charge over me.

Notice in our verse, that it is the “LORD only makest me dwell in safety.” God alone was David’s keeper. Though he was all alone without man’s help, he was “alone with God.” How many saints have felt all alone during Covid- 19. No visitors were allowed. They were forced to stay alone in their room. No children or friends were allowed to visit or put their arms around them. Day after day, and month after month, they were alone. And yet they were not alone. Christ Jesus is with us always by his Spirit and Word. David, God’s friend, had to flee from his home and loved ones into the wilderness, but he could lay down on the hard ground and sleep. His God was keeping him in safety. God is our keeper . He “shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand” (Psalm 121:4,5).

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “A quiet conscience is a good bedfellow. How many of our sleepless hours might be traced to our untrusting and disordered minds? They slumber sweetly whom faith rocks to sleep. No pillow so soft as a promise; no coverlet so warm as an assured interest in Christ.”

We should never lose sight of our Lord Jesus while reading this psalm. In your mind, can you see Him as he was sound asleep in the little fishing boat, even when the wind was howling, the waves rolling and the water flooded the boat? The disciples panicked, waking the Master and asking if He cared not that they perish. Jesus speaks, “Be still.” Not only was there perfect calm and peace upon the sea, but also in the hearts of his disciples. Matthew Henry wrote of the farmer, “Having cast his seed into the ground, he sleeps and riseth day and night, and the seed springs and grows he knoweth not how. So a good man having by faith cast his care upon God, he resteth night and day, and is very easy, leaving it to his God to perform all things for him according to his holy will.”

When you and I walk with God from dawn until night, then at night we can renew and confirm your peace with God by faith and prayer. It is good to “commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4). Lie down with some Scripture meditation on your mind, your head full of good thoughts, and your heart will be in a better frame both to sleep and awaken in the morning. In a time when we are surrounded with strife of tongues and violence, we rest in the Lord. He is on His throne, exercising personal care for all those who are His own.

The psalmist said, “I will both lay me down and sleep in peace.” He does this in absolute trust and dependence. We commit to the Lord all of our troubles and fears. How sweet is His care and immeasurable love for each of His own! He is there in all the hours of our loneliness, grief, illness, weariness, and pain. We lay ourselves down. We give up our own guardianship, and resign ourselves into the hands of our great God. Oh, that we might trust God more and more, and experience perfect peace. The Lord makes me dwell in safety. Happy is the saint that can go to bed each night and finally to his death and grave with this verse. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

When in the night I meditate on mercies multiplied, My grateful heart inspires my tongue to bless the Lord, my Guide. I know that I shall not be left forgotten in the grave, And from corruption, Thou O Lord, Thy holy one wilt save.” (Psalter # 28, George Allen)

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Divine Confidence (A Meditation on Psalm 3)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Divine Confidence

Meditation on Psalm 3: 3-5

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. I laid me down and slept; I awakened; for the LORD sustained me.

What storms or trials are you going through? This is a Psalm of David when he was forced to flee from Jerusalem for his life. David’s son, Absalom, had raised an army to kill him. David complained of the multitude of his enemies. In II Samuel 15: 12, we read “The conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.” It was not only was his son in rebellion, but even Ahithophel , one of David’s faithful counsellors joined the rebellion along with generals and soldiers of his army.

But, it was not only men that opposed David. Satan was seeking to prevent the house of David to progress to its fulfilment in the throne of Christ. For we know that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Not only was David fleeing from his son, but he was also fleeing into exile from the presence of God. The Levites brought the ark of the covenant out to follow David into exile, but David told the high priest: “Carry the ark of God back into the city: if I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and show me both it and his dwelling habitation. But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him” (II Sam. 15:25,26).

In verse 2, David complained, “Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.” What an attack! These enemies declared that God has forsaken David! Shemei cursed him and swore at him to his face. David knew that his troubles were partly because of his sins with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. Trouble followed him in his family. Doubtless, all the storms, crosses, and trials of life would be even more bitter if there is no help from God!

How might we respond under similar circumstances? Would we abandon all hope? To whom would we turn? In verses 3-4 we find that David lost neither heart nor faith in his covenant God. David called the Lord his “shield”, the one who surrounded him. He also called God his “glory”, the one who lifted his head. In David’s desperation, he cried out to the Lord and He answered him “from his holy hill”. This is an amazing series of statements. In the OT, God’s people knew and experienced God’s presence by being in close proximity to the tabernacle. To draw near to the Lord meant to draw near the tabernacle. But David could not do this, He was in exile. Yet, while David was in exile from God’s presence in the tabernacle, God continued to make His presence known. He was with David and answered David’s pleas. David was able to lay down and sleep (vs. 5). He was not afraid of ten thousands of people (vs. 6). The Lord would arise and defeat his enemies. The Lord gave him the perfect peace that surpassed all understanding and comforted him with His presence. “Salvation belongeth unto the LORD; thy blessing is upon thy people” (vs. 8).

We must see in King David the type. It was Jesus Christ who was forced into exile. Unlike David, He was exiled not because of His own sin, but as He stood in the place of us and our sins. He left the glory of heaven to come down into our sinful world. Bearing our sins, He cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” He was crucified outside the camp, exiled from the benevolent presence of His heavenly Father. His enemies taunted him, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matt. 27: 43). Even the thieves who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing. But our Lord Jesus had the confidence that His Father is a shield for him, his glory, and would lift Him out of hell on the third day.

In what way is David’s flight connected to the church? We have many enemies who taunt us and persecute us. When we are in need of rescue, we can only turn to our faithful covenant God, even when it appears as if He has abandoned us and we are surrounded by our foes. Pray this psalm when you feel as though the enemies of God surround you. Pray this psalm for the persecuted church today. Seek shelter in the knowledge that the Christ has lived, suffered, died, and undergone exile from the benevolent presence of God so that we will not know this judgment. Sing this psalm as a song of praise as we celebrate the mercy and love of Christ and His righteous judgment against the wicked. He will smite all our enemies upon the check bone and break the teeth of the ungodly. Do not lose heart. As David had confidence and peace in face of trials, may we also! Pray like David that God will comfort you through Christ and the presence of His Holy Spirit. No matter what storms might swirl around you, you will know peace and rest. Rejoice, for salvation belongs to the Lord and His anointed. Indeed, blessing be upon us, the people of God.

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Divine Laughter (A Meditation on Psalm 2)

 This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Divine Laughter

Meditation on Psalm 2: 1-7

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

The Lord reigns! Just as Hurricane Laura came on our shores with howling wind and restless waves of the sea, so do the wicked rage. Psalm 2 describes the terrible opposition that David experienced once he was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel. But the opposition against David is only a faint type of the reaction of the wicked against the Lord Jesus. Jesus, the righteous King is contrasted with the world which is filled with those who hate the instruction of the Lord. They are those who walk, stand, and sit in the counsel of the wicked (cf. Psalm 1). When Jesus’ righteousness reveals the wickedness of those in the world, they naturally respond in hatred. This is true not only for Christ, God’s anointed, but also for all those who follow Him. There is a conflict between those who seek shelter in the Christ and those who refuse Him. This is the conflict of the ages between the Lord’s Anointed and the nations.

Think back to the beginning of Christ’s ministry. Hearing of the birth of Jesus, Herod immediately began to plot against him. Later, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes plotted to kill Jesus. Jews and Gentiles (Pilate and the Romans) tried to extinguish the light of the world! In Acts 4: 24-28 the Apostles John and Peter report the evil treatment they received of the religious leaders. They pray to God using Psalm 2 to describe the opposition to Christ’s ministry. But clearly, they point out that the wicked doing this are only carrying out what God’s hand and counsel determined beforehand. The wicked put Jesus to death; the Lord raised and exalted Him.

What is the LORD’s reaction to this rebellion and hatred of his Son? The Psalmist writes, “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.” Just as the raging sea could not hurt Jesus and His disciples when out on the Sea of Galilee, so also the plotting of the wicked cannot hold back the reign of Christ Jesus nor His kingdom. God has set His Son on His throne. He did this after Jesus’ victory over sin, Satan, and death in His death and resurrection. He ascended up into heaven, and His enemies are made his footstool. The Apostle Paul quotes this part of Psalm 2 in Acts. 13:30-33. Paul identified the resurrection of Jesus as His royal enthronement.

What comfort this was to the church in Paul’s day. They underwent persecution from the Jews and the Gentiles. The nations hatched their plots and schemes, yet the Lord “sitteth in the heavens” and laughs. Even though Christ has been installed on Mount Zion, the nations still conspire and rebel against His authority. Do we not still see this today? Think of all the persecution of the church in many nations. Think of the sinful and rebellious counsel of the wicked in our own land. The abortion of little children is seen as essential while the worship of the Lord in His house had been banned. What a rebellious and sinful world we live in. And it will only get worse!

For the rebellion of the wicked, Christ will come with a rod of iron and dash them to pieces. We see God’s judgment in the world today with the violence and upheaval in the streets of our cities. There are the natural disasters: fires, floods, and hurricanes. This is only the beginning. Kingdoms rise and fall. But Christ is coming again in glory, and will bring judgement. Not one of the wicked will escape. They will be broken like a piece of pottery.

The Psalm ends with a call to repentance. Instead of rebelling against the Lord’s Anointed, let people abandon their sinful ways and submit in faith to Christ. “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son…Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (vs. 11,12).

When we find ourselves suffering for the sake of righteousness, we too must seek shelter in the hope of this psalm. Try as they might, the nations and the wicked will not overthrow the reign of the Lord and his Anointed. Christ reigns and will shelter all those who take refuge in Him. Oh, the heathen rage! Many take counsel together against the Lord and His Christ in rebellion. But Christ is already enthroned. Those who take refuge in Him shall also one day reign with Him. Whatever the opposition, no human power can ever nullify or undo God’s divine purpose.

Are you allowing pessimism to affect you, or are you hanging on to the hope that Christ’s kingdom will prevail in every nation? Do you serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling? Have you kissed the Son in submission and love? One day, maybe very soon, Christ will return as Judge.

 

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A Good Man Brings Forth Good Things

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Good Man Brings Forth Good Things

Meditation on Matthew 12:35

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Jesus healed a man possessed with a devil. The man had been both blind and unable to speak. This glorious miracle produced varying effects on different individuals. The man who was possessed was healed! All the people were amazed, saying, “Is not this the son of David?” The Pharisees blasphemed, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by the prince of the devils.” It is to the last group that Jesus directed this discourse. What a powerful warning is given to those who observe divine works and speak in an evil manner about them. They will have to give an account in the judgment day.

Jesus contrasts the two reactions as that of a good tree producing good fruit or an evil tree bringing forth corrupt fruit. Where does this fruit come from? In verse 35, notice Jesus uses the word ‘good’ three times and the word ‘evil’ three times. There is the good man out of a good treasure of the heart that brings forth good things.

Who is that ‘good man’? In the absolute sense, “there is none good but God.” God alone possesses original, essential, independent, perfect goodness. Truly, the Lord Jesus is the good man. But Scripture gives the term also to human beings who by the atoning work of Jesus’ blood and the renewing work of the Holy Spirit have been endowed with the principle of godliness. This will be exhibited it in their speech and conduct. It was said of Barnabas, that he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and faith.

Our text says that the good man “out of the good treasure of the heart” brings forth good things. The good treasure of a good man is contrasted with the evil treasure of the evil man. The heart is the mainspring of human conduct. Jesus said in vs. 34, “for out of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The heart of a person is one's rational soul, which has the ability to think, will, desire, and feel. The heart is where we have love or hate, joy or sorrow. The heart contains that which is excellent or base and corrupt. The heart of a child of God has been renewed, and is good. It contains a treasure. That treasure of th heart is like the seed bag of the farmer, the medical kit of the doctor, the cupboard of the housewife, or the benevolent fund out of which the deacon dispenses mercy. The cupboard must be full to feed the family. The medical kit of the doctor must be filled with the medical tools or medicines in order for the doctor to heal. The farmer must have a full bag of corn if he is going to seed a large field. The stream must be full of water if it is going to provide for the thirst of individuals. So also, the good man’s heart must be full.

The good man takes this supply, employs and dispenses of this holy fund within himself. First, he dispenses in order to glorify his God. Second, he uses it for the comfort of his own soul. Third, he employs it for the benefit of others. He uses this supply confident of the approval of Christ, unto things that are pleasing to God, and that are profitable for him and for others. To sum up, a good treasure in the heart is necessary to communicate good things. A treasure has the idea of sufficiency, having no lack. The granary of Egypt was carefully built up by Joseph so that there would be no lack in the days of famine.

How do we build up that supply? God does it, but God uses means. He uses His Spirit and His Word. David says, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” So we are careful what we digest and meditate on. Take in the garbage of the world, with its amusements and actions, and there will be filth instead of godliness. We cannot be lazy when it comes to what we feed on to supply ourselves. Spiritual blessings only will make believers blessed. A great supply of Scriptural knowledge is a priceless treasure! David says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and light upon my path. We fill our hearts with treasure being instant in prayer. The Apostle Paul prayed that believers “may be filled with all the fullness of God.” May we know the love of Christ which passes all knowledge. Let our minds be filled with heavenly light. May we be filled with all grace. Then we pray, “Lord make me a vessel of mercy unto others. Use me as a channel of peace. Open my mouth, that I may give expression to what thou hast done for me.” Without the operation of God’s grace, there can and will be no holiness of life. All fruits of godliness, love, and carefulness of life must flow from a pure heart that is filled with love and thankfulness to God for His grace.

This treasure, like all treasures, is kept safe so that neither the devil nor any other person may rob us of it. God fills our hearts, so that we may be channels of His grace. Does Jesus’ description fit you? “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good fruit.”

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The Righteous Man (A Meditation on Psalm 1)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

The Righteous Man

Meditation on  Psalm 1

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Today, via the internet, there is a vast variety of different choices from which to read or follow. But the psalmist puts before us only two different ways of thinking and living. These two ways are antithetical. The Psalmist sets forth the way of the righteous man and the way of the ungodly. The blessed man walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, does not stand in the way of sinners, and finally does not sit in the seat of the scornful. There is a progression of sin. He walks with them, then he stands with them, and finally he is in a close relationship sits down with them.

Imagine that you are walking along a road with someone who strikes up a conversation with you. You listen carefully, and you stand there with him to digest and consider what he has said. Finally, you sit down with him to have a meal and become friends. This is the way of the wicked.

The righteous man steers clear of evil. Instead, his delight is in the law of God. He delights in that law. He meditates on that law. He constantly puts it before his mind and prays over it. He is instructed and guided by that law so that he can walk in it.

As a result, fruit is produced in his life. That man is like a tree, well planted. What a comparison! As a tree is nourished by the sun and nutrients of the soil, and watered by the stream, it naturally produces fruit. When the righteous man is nourished by God’s instruction, there will be fruit. But the growth and production of fruit is progressive. Not immediately is there fruit on the tree. Likewise, the work of sanctification is also gradual. After prayerful meditation of God’s instruction, there is eventually fruit.

Over against this growth and production of fruit, the wicked hate instruction. Therefore, the ungodly will not stand and abide, but like the chaff of wheat, they are blown away as worthless. The wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. The LORD knoweth the way of the righteous. He says, “They are mine!” He has destined them for heaven and eternal life. The wicked are also destined, for hell.  Their way will perish!

So who is this righteous man? It is so easy to think that it is you and I. Notice, it is singular. Some like to translate this verse as saying, “Blessed are those people”. They want to use more inclusive language. The Hebrew word is not a generic word that refers to all human beings. There is one particular man in view. Who is he? It is the Lord Jesus! You see, this Psalm is Messianic. Jesus Christ did not walk in counsel with the wicked, stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scorners. Rather, Jesus said of Himself, “My food is to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.”

You and I need to look by faith to Jesus as the one righteous man to save us. He will not only save us, but will fill us with His Holy Spirit and enable us to be like Him. Only in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can you and I approach the instruction of God and delight in it. Only in Christ can we be fruitful like the tree planted by streams of living water.  Jesus taught in John 15, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

Nothing happens overnight. Patiently wait for God to conform you to Christ’s likeness. Delight in God’s Word, meditate upon it. Flee wickedness and find your refuge in Christ, the righteous man.  He forgives us our sins. He produces in us new life. A good tree bears not bad fruit, but good fruit. Christ Jesus is the blessed and righteous man. He by His life, death, resurrection, and ascension makes us righteous and fruit-bearing people. Do you delight in God’s instruction? Do you meditate upon His word day and night?

Take this Psalm and by grace, may it describe you too.

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Praying for Laborers for the Harvest

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Praying for Laborers for the Harvest

Meditation on Luke 10:2

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

As you drive through the countryside, have you taken notice of the fields on the farms? In springtime, we saw the planting, during the summer the growth of the crops, and now the harvesting. How abundant are the crops! The warm sunshine and the timely rains have been given by God, so that the corn, wheat, alfalfa, and soybeans are luxurious! The wheat has been harvested, the hay is getting baled up, and soon the corn and soybeans also will also be harvested. One thinks of the harvest song in Psalm 65.

But in Psalm 65, the spiritual blessings of God are mentioned first. They are more blessed and worthy of God’s praise. We are chosen by God in eternity, redeemed by Jesus Christ’s blood, and indwelt by his Spirit so that we approach and dwell in his courts. And we are indeed satisfied!

Because God has chosen for Himself a people in Jesus Christ, that people must be gathered from the nations. God does that through the preaching of the Word. Ministers bring the Word of God to their congregations each Sabbath day. Missionaries are sent out by the churches as were the apostle Paul and Barnabas, and later, Paul and Silas, and Barnabas and John Mark. As Jesus had prayed in John 17: 18, “As thou hast has sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”

Do you have eyes to see and a heart that believes what Jesus says in Luke 10: 2? It is a harvest that is truly great. In Matt. 9:37, we read, “The harvest truly is plenteous.” John 4:35ff makes it more urgent. “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labours.”

“The fields are white unto harvest.” This means that it is time! The time is until the Lord Jesus returns. He comes quickly! Let us labor. Let us pray the Lord Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, for men to become preachers and missionaries. Let us also pray that as men, women, and children who love the Lord, we gladly witness for him and his kingdom! Oh, like the fields of corn and wheat, some years are much more plenteous and abundant than other. So also, in the history of missions, there are times when the fruit is more bountiful in one place over another. But the outcome of our sowing and reaping is not what we fix out eyes on. The Lord will give the increase in His own time and way. Ours is to labor for the Master.

Why do missions? Let me give five reasons:

1. Because God our Father is a glorious God whose fame must be spread abroad.

2. Because Jesus Christ has sent his church into the world, and we must be obedient.

3. Because we love our neighbors, and desire that they too may know and believe in Christ.

4. In love for the church, we desire to see those outside the church brought in. The church is greatly enriched by the zeal and joy of new believers. Otherwise the church will languish as it turns inward.

5. Jesus Christ has promised to come quickly. But He will not come until every elect saint has been born and has been saved. So let us labor! The field is great and abundant, white unto harvest.

Far and near the fields are teeming with the waves of ripened grain; Far and near their gold is gleaming o’er the sunny slope and plain. Lord of harvest, send forth reapers! Hear us Lord, to Thee we cry. Send them now the sheaves to gather, ere the harvest time pass by.”

Send them forth with morn’s first beaming, send them in the noontides glare; when the sun’s last rays are gleaming, bid them gather everywhere. Lord of harvest, send forth reapers! Hear us, Lord, to Thee we cry; Send them now the sheaves to gather, ere the harvest time pass by.”  ~ B. O. Clemm, 19th century

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn to setting sun, Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care; Then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”  ~ James Black

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A Single Eye

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

A Single Eye

Meditation on Matthew 6:22

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

What is your aim in life? On what have you set your eyes? Are you focused?

David’s son Absalom had his eye on his father’s kingdom. With that focus he plotted, planned, and curried the people’s favor. But later, in Jerusalem, he listened to the counsel of Ahithophel and then the advice of Hushai. Ahithophel suggested that Absalom send some men after his father David and strike him while he was tired and on the run. Hushai told Absalom to wait until a large army was gathered that Absalom himself could lead against his father. Absalom chose the advice of Hushai.

Certainly Absalom’s eye was on success! He wanted the kingdom of his father. But his eye was also focused on being seen as the leader of a mighty force, perhaps as great a leader as his father had been in his younger years. Pride was before his eyes. What pleases our sinful nature the most is often what seems best to us. Because Absalom was vain, he chose Hushai’s advice to his own destruction. In a worldly sense, Absalom did not have a single eye. Rather he had an evil eye. “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Spiritually, you and I must have a single eye. “The eye,” says John Calvin, “is the torch or lamp of the body. If the hands and feet and mind are improperly directed, blame the eye.” The Greek word for ‘single’ means simple, uncomplicated, without speck, sound, and not double. This same word is at times applied to the heart (see Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22). A single heart is sincere, has integrity and uprightness, and unmixed with ulterior or selfish motives.

What is to be our single eye? What is our life to be focused on? For those who are God’s children, washed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and indwelt with His Spirit, there can only be one focus: to promote the glory of God! We have in life one aim, one focus, one goal, and one eye.

But in the service of God, you are and will be grievously tempted to be distracted by the private feelings and interests of our old sinful nature. When these desires assert themselves, you will be tempted to lose the clear, simple, and single line of duty to do God’s will. You wish to do God’s will, but at the same time you are unwilling to sacrifice the sinful desires of the flesh. Other desires cloud your sight like cataracts. You do not have a clear sight of the right path.

Oh, the struggle that we have with the old sinful nature! We are called to crucify the old man. You are called to choose the cross. No one can combine two opposite goals: glorifying God and satisfying the yearnings of the flesh. Matthew 6:24 tells us, “No man can serve two masters.”

How we need to look to the Captain of our salvation. In the Garden, he cried out, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.” We look at the grace of God at work in the Apostle Paul’s life when he was on the Damascus road. Paul cried out, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” We see the singleness of eye, the utter disregard for personal interests in the Apostle Paul’s entire devotion to the service of his Master. In I Cor. 9:27, Paul says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.”

May we pray for a single eye for the glory of our God, and a single eye that we follow in Jesus’ footsteps. The Light of the Word of God must be held before our eyes, filling them with light. Pray for that single eye. Pray for that eye that you may see clearly. Our focus must be on our great covenant God and His marvelous love manifested towards us in Jesus Christ. Is it yours? When God fills our eye, all else fades in comparison A single eye: is it yours! “None of us liveth to himself; for whether we live, we live unto the Lord, or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord unto Thee, Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love, At the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee; Take my voice and let me sing Always, only, for my King, Always, only, for my King. Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages for Thee; Take my silver and my gold - Not a mite would I withhold, Not a mite would I withhold. Take my love- my God, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store: Take myself - and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee, Ever, only, all for Thee.”  ~ H. A. Cesar Malan, 1787-1864

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