Tag Archives: Romans 14

For all the saints…

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. The father of a righteous child has great joy; he who has a wise child delights in them. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice.

(Prov 17.6 & 23.22-25)

For none of us lives for ourselves alone and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

(Rom 14.7&8)

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Endure hardship as discipline.. God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

(Heb 11.39-12.2 & 12.7,10&11)

Ten years ago this week, my mother died. It will be fifteen years this spring since my father died. Gone, almost as if they had never been. Their house is owned by another, and their belonging largely gone. There are no monuments or trust funds in their names, no awards or philanthropic projects to perpetuate their memory. There are three adult children and four grandchildren – the latter with very patchy memories of the grandparents who died while they were still young.

And yet, I know that because my parents were christians, followers of Jesus, they live. I know that they died in full assurance of their future resurrection, and that one day I will join with them and all the other dear departed saints as we rejoice with the Lamb at the great marriage banquet in glory.

They left family members in whom their genes are perpetuated – traits of character and shared physical attributes. But they also left a legacy of loving service and investment in the kingdom which will only be fully appreciated when the Lord comes to make all things new and to reveal what He is working by his Spirit in and through us.

They left a legacy in our lives, a priceless¬† model of faithful living. They weren’t perfect, and we saw the struggles from the inside. They faced many challenges, and we saw how at times they were near overwhelmed. BUT we also saw how they lived in dependence on Jesus, the saviour who had won both their hearts in early adulthood, and who remained Lord of their lives through all that followed. They showed us that God’s discipline was worth enduring, and his wisdom worth treasuring more than all that this world can offer us. I was and remain so very proud of my parents, so thankful for their lives and all they taught us. I want to be that kind of parent to my own children, and pray to be a blessing and not a stumbling block to them.

The last gift that both mother and father gave us was the acceptance of God’s timing and manner of dealing with them at the end of their lives. They completely submitted themselves to the Lord, reckoning death as nothing to fear, but something to be preparing for in faith and trust. There was no complaining, no “why me, why now?” And this has left me with a great peace and acceptance in my turn that my Lord knew what he was about – I was not somehow deprived of something I needed by their deaths.

In life, as in facing death, their desire was to glorify their Saviour. It is my prayer that I too might do this, to emulate all those dear saints who have gone before in trust and obedience. My best tribute to my own parents is to follow their example, to live for and die with my Lord. May he give me grace to serve him in this way, for his glory and my blessing. Amen.

Attitude, not achievement..my little can be enough

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification..

(Rom 14.17-19)

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come…So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body of away from it.

(2 Cor 5.1-5,9)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see…[Enoch] was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists…

(Heb 11.1,5&6)

Today, I worship the Lord by whose sacrificial love I am brought into a relationship with the living God. Today, I choose to reflect on the completed task of Jesus Christ in fully paying my debt, taking all the judgement for my rebellion against God upon himself. Today, I see again the miracle which is my new life as a beloved child of a Heavenly Father, whose purpose in history is to embed me into his family along with a multitude of others, each one precious in his sight.

I  consider these things, and I give thanks with a grateful heart, astonished that one as insignificant as myself should matter enough to the unimaginably great Author of creation. To be thus beloved brings peace beyond measure and security beyond price.

Then I see the question that remains for believers…since Jesus has done everything necessary for our salvation, what is our purpose in remaining? The grace of God means that I already have everything I need, and don’t have to earn my salvation by a series of achievements; whether keeping rules, doing good works, developing a particular form of spiritual life, or anything else which I may feel I ‘ought’ to do. In a way, this is such a relief, as my powers are weak and my capacity for great works non-existent! But we all want to have some sense of purpose in living – and having formed us, God knows this full well. We fret for lack of direction and thrive on a sense of achievement and the satisfaction of fulfilling worthwhile tasks.

I rejoice with gladness then, as I see that God has asked me to do something for him – not to earn my salvation, but rather as an expression of my profound thankfulness for that priceless gift. I am not presented with some list of difficult tasks to prove my love to God, bur rather offered the opportunity to cultivate an attitude to life grounded in  faith. Will I take my homesickness for heaven, and offer it to God, letting it drive my worship and witness to others who also long for an eternal home and the forgiveness of sin? Will I accept that my hunger to be delivered from this mortal body (this tired and ugly tent, a thing woven through with doubt, prejudice and vulnerable to temptation), is a motivation to pursue Christ in all his beauty and perfection, and to co-operate with the work of the Spirit within me?

Dear friends, as believers, we have the privilege of choosing to live in ways which will bring gladness – pleasure – to the  Almighty God whose we are. We may feel that our own gifts and lives are so small and weak that we have nothing to bring him, but that’s not the point. The very fact that our desire is to gladden our Father’s heart is in itself a joy to him!

Perhaps today you feel that you are without purpose, that your life might as well stop for all the difference it would make. Please, dear friend, look up and consider the loving heart of the God who made you for this time and this place, and who daily delights in you. In continually recommitting ourselves to growing in faith, to this transformational attitude to our lives, we make the Eternal glad. You, me and all those who call him Father, bring him pleasure in our weakness and the small things that we are and do. Our little is enough, so let us take courage and go on into this week, this year, this life, focussing on our attitude not our achievements, and leaving Jesus to take all the glory, while we receive the blessings of his love and care.