Righteousness and Good Works

dandelionLast week I talked about being content. But I can’t stop there. I tend to err on the side of being too content.

I’m meant to be serving God with joy, but that has softened into happiness. Which melted down into contentment – not with myself, but with my place in life. I’m often satisfied with living a socially acceptable life and letting God’s grace fill in the gaps. I’m not zealous for the Lord! I’m just satisfied with where my life is going, and that is not the same thing at all. There must be love for God’s Word, fear of His holiness, and zeal for walking in the Spirit.

Matthew 6:5 says:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
For they shall be filled.

And the Westminster Confession tells us that good works are the fruits and evidences of a true and living faith.

Good works must come from a heart that is humble and right with God. A good work can only be what is commanded in the revealed will of God. And it must be done for the kingdom and glory of God, with the intention of loving God and my neighbour.

Good works come from the Holy Spirit’s influence, but we mustn’t always wait for His special leading. Instead, we must be diligent in stirring up the grace of God in us.

“Why should we do good works if we have been saved? What purpose can there be in struggling against the flesh when salvation is sure?” you might ask. Well, I know how hard and even hopeless striving for godliness can seem in this broken world. But here are the reasons given by the Heidelberg Catechism  – and, sister, these are biblical reasons!

86 Q. : Since we have been delivered by grace alone through Christ, why must we yet do good works?

A. : Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, also renews us by his Holy Spirit to be his image, so that with our whole life we may show ourselves thankful to God for his benefits, and he may be praised by us.
Further, that we ourselves may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and that by our godly walk of life we may win our neighbours for Christ.

The Westminster Confession Chapter 16 says that by doing good works, we show thankfulness, strengthen our assurance of salvation, edify our fellow believers, adorn the profession of the gospel, deprive our opponents of arguments against it, and glorify God. Great!

NB I am not talking about salvation by works, but life after salvation by grace.

Singleness and Contentment

singlenessWhen I was about 13, I decided that getting married when I was 17 would be realistic, so I wrote up a chart of when I would start having children. According to that list, I gave birth to triplet girls on the 8th of February 2015 (at age 18). I would then have a son in 2017, another in 2019, have another set of girl triplets 11 months after that, and finally end up having twins, my 13th & 14th children at the age of 31.

Honestly?

No, friends, that simply hasn’t happened! And it doesn’t bother me a bit. In fact, I’m quite glad that I’m not a mother of three.🙂

I’m not a married woman. I’m still single. And this post is about being single, and being content with life just the way it is.

To me, being single isn’t a big deal. It’s not a bad thing at all! It’s just that marriage isn’t the Lord’s will for me yet. If it ever is, I’ll be happy to accept.

And I think contentment really starts with realising that what you do have comes from God, and you don’t actually deserve any of it. Everything in your life is a gift from God. So thank and praise Him for His gifts, every day.

Another thing is that God is always near. No matter where you are, or how you feel, He is right there with you. You can pour out your heart to Him.

So, sister, if marriage has not come your way, I would encourage you to have a thankful spirit, pray to God often, have a peaceful spirit, and enjoy life the way God has given it to you.

Love, Rhoda

Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris

(First published by me on Jewels of Jesus in June 2014)

Do Hard things: a teenage rebellion against low expectations.

“Most people don’t expect you to understand what we’re going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don’t expect you to care. And even if you care, they don’t expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don’t expect it to last. We do.” – Alex and Brett Harris

This is one of my favourite books for young people! Do Hard Things is all about challenging the ‘teens’ in today’s culture to see that there is more to life than friends and video games. Rather, the teen years are the “launching pad of life.”

It’s about what you do after you’ve become a Christian. Your heart has changed, and so must your life.

There are five kinds of hard things:

  • Things that take you out of your comfort zone
  • Things that go above what is expected or required
  • Things that are too big to accomplish alone
  • Things that don’t earn an immediate payoff
  • Things that challenge the cultural norm

I like this book because it is practical as well as being about the history of adolescence. There are a lot of books that talk about feelings, or relationships, but Alex and Brett have taken the challenge and written this one. They’ve also written Start Here, a follow-up book about how others are doing hard things, and just how you can get started and join them.

I think every Christian young adult should read this book, because that’s who it’s written for – a whole generation willing to serve God above themselves.

Rivers of Living Water

In the last few weeks I have listened to three sermons with commonality – all three preachers talked about water.

The first two sermons were read in our church one Sunday. They were both written by pastors in the Reformed Churches of New Zealand. One sermon was on Jeremiah 2:9-13, and the second one was on Romans 1:8-17. The third I heard on RefNet; it was by John Piper.

The first illustration is that God is a spring of living water. He supplies all our needs. From Him flows a fountain of life, love, mercy, and joy. Through Jeremiah, God is saying that the Israelites had this, but they forsook God and made themselves idols. Idols are a lot of work to make and look after! And the other thing – they can give us nothing! They are but cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water. Idols cannot provide life and love, mercy and joy. They are brokenness and deceit, a waste of time and a fraud. There is no-one like God.

The second illustration is about us, the people of God. The way I see it is, when all that cool velvet water of life comes pouring over us, what are we doing with it? We can be a reservoir by trying to keep the water for ourselves, hang on to moments, and live in the past. Or, we can let the water flow through every corner of our lives and on into the lives of other people we know. We can follow Jesus, and strive to be like Jesus.

The Gospel must not stay in my heart. It must flow on like a river.

Thirdly, in John Piper’s sermon “The Pleasure of God in Public Justice” he says

I have a fountain of living water that never runs dry and always satisfies my thirst.

That is Who God is for us. So I encourage you to let the waters of God fill your life and overflow into the lives of other people. Serve God by becoming more like Jesus, and do it all with joy!

Love, Rhoda

Our Stories, edited by Ian Wishart

our storiesI’ve just finished reading Ian Wishart’s book “Our Stories: The Way We Used to Be: The New Zealand Time Forgot,” (published by Howling At the Moon in 2014) and wanted to share it with you.

It’s actually a collection of newspaper articles written in the 1800s and 1900s. Wishart has searched them out from Papers Past(1), and written his commentary in between the articles.

It was a format I’m not used to, and the age of the articles made them a bit heavy-going, so Wishart’s summarising notes helped a lot. I still loved the way it came together as a simple, honest look at what happened in New Zealand and what New Zealanders used to be like. The chapter called “The Telephone Comes to NZ” was especially amusing.

The whole book comes from Wishart’s viewpoint of discussing history they way it happened, no matter what’s politically correct in our day. He includes things that I’d never heard of, like the tsunami in 1868, and the big Christchurch earthquake in 1888 (read the Oamaru Mail article here).

I liked being able to read a book about New Zealand history from a different perspective, and enjoy the fruits of Wishart’s labours chasing down the old newspaper stories.

…the most fascinating forgotten tales of our past, told through the eyes of the people who were there. (quote from back cover)

So if you are interested in hundred-year-old news stories, or in New Zealand history, or you just love to read Ian Wishart, this is a book for you!

~I did not receive any compensation or reward for reviewing this book~

P.S. This book review serves as an introduction to my blog, Rhoda’s Reviews

(1) Papers Past is an amazing resource of searchable historical newspapers which have been digitised by the National Library of New Zealand curators.