“O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace. In righteousness you will be established: tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you…. this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their righteousness from me, ” declares the Lord.
This is what the Lord says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast.. and foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
(Isa 54.11-14,17; 55.1&2,6&7)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written; “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
One of the many wonderful gifts that we receive as God’s children when we come to faith and new life in Jesus Christ, is the gift of assurance. When our salvation, forgiveness, new birth as God’s children and future eternal life are all secured for us by Jesus, then we can be absolutely sure of them, can build our lives on them and stand firm on them when doubt assails us, when we mess up (again!) and the devil tries to undermine our confidence.
I am sure because Jesus rose from the dead and thus proved in his body that he had triumphed over all that divided me from God. It is not my capacity to earn or even to retain my salvation by my own efforts which is important, but rather – and most wonderfully – the ability of Christ to hold me fast in the covenant love of the Lord God. I have an inalienable inheritance – it cannot be lost by me, or given to anyone else – which is mine even now, and most fully in the life to come. I am already a child of the King of Kings, of the royal line of Christ, beloved by God and never forgotten or overlooked. I already have a place in his new creation, a home in my name, and a family to belong to. I am rich beyond all imagining, in the things that really matter and that will last, beside which all the glory, wealth and power of this world are as dust.
It is my response to this inheritance for which I take responsibility, but I take no pride in my efforts because again, it is by the power of God in his Spirit within me that I am able to make godly choices, to embrace holiness, to keep on turning to Christ in every circumstance and need. As I consider the amazing generosity of our God, I am refreshed and renewed in desire to love him with all my heart and soul and mind, and to love my neighbour for his sake. As I consider his power and holiness, his mercy and grace, I long more and more to put him at the centre and to orient my life, my thinking, spending and doing around him and his purposes – to be like the priests in the temple, living to serve and glorify the author and finisher of my faith.
As I am enabled and motivated by God’s grace each day to do these things, I will increasingly experience and also exercise the blessings of my salvation, putting myself at his disposal to use as and when he pleases. My inheritance is unchanging and secure, but I can and should aspire to realise it more and more in my daily experience now. As this happens, I can be sure that even death itself will only bring me to a deeper and richer enjoyment of what is already mine – since I dwell already with the Lord and his people, secure within his walls and joyful in the house of prayer. This is my true condition, Heavenly Father let me live it!