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.

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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

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

The Call to Personal Reformation

I’ve heard many times the challenge to be a real Christian. Not just an I’ve-said-a-little-prayer ‘Christian’, but a true Christ-follower, who knows her Lord and Master, and strives to serve Him with a joyful heart.
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Our family recently attended a baptism at a local church to which we have several connections. But since then, I’ve promised myself to avoid that church like the plague, and here’s why: During a ‘message’, a lady gave this call to the congregation: “Don’t just be a good Anglican, saying and doing all the right things. We must be true followers of Christ.” This was hard to take, as many present we knew to be just that, “good Anglicans.” I don’t know what they were thinking as they sat there. But it didn’t seem to go very deep, because they all went to the kneeling rail for Communion.

Just saying a little prayer, or answering an altar call, or going to church
can’t make you a Christian. We were all dead in our sins, and only God can change that. And He does!

He has saved us, and we should rejoice in that. And we’re completely safe and dry. But we’ll never, in this life, be able to say “I’ve made it. Now that I belong to God, I do everything I can for Him.”  Well, you don’t, do you?

No matter who you are, where you live, or how old you are, there is always more work to be done. We don’t live our lives triumphantly, holding with uplifted arms the cup, the prize we’ve won. No. Instead, we press on toward the prize (Phil 4:13). There’s always more to be done. We can always be more humble. More obedient. More Christ-like. We can always be Reforming.

…He must increase…
…and I must decrease…

Purpose

Almost everyone has a purpose in life. Taoists say that their purpose in life is rejoining the One. Hedonists say that their purpose in life is to enjoy while they can.  Christians say that their purpose is to glorify God.

But often even we Christians seem to lose our purpose. We become listless. Our standard of work falls. We have fewer creative ideas. We can be careless of other people or their belongings. Sometimes we can lose respect for ourselves.

If we look at our human condition, that’s certainly easy to do. Our race has rebelled against God and the majority continues to defy Him. We are ruining our planet. Our personal lives are filled with suffering, mistakes and regret.

But we must look beyond ourselves. If we don’t stretch our gaze past the busyness and boredom of everyday life to above the heavens and see God, we are still lost.

Isaiah 51:6

Isaiah 51:6

I remember learning the Westminster Shorter Catechism when I was about 8 or 9. The first question and answer is this:

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

At that stage, I really had no understanding of that at all. God hadn’t yet begun to teach me to look beyond my immediate surroundings and see Him. The phrase was for me arbitrary, having no meaning beyond that of the individual words.

That changed. God began to work in my heart, first showing me my sin, and then filling me with His Holy Spirit and showing me His glory, beyond the clouds.

So then, I was filled with a new desire to seek His ways, to serve Him in all my doings. Glorifying God became the new purpose of my life. And I was enjoying it. But I didn’t understand that.

It took a few months. Then one winter morning as I was swinging my way down the South Hill, it hit me. I was enjoying God! And I was just going to keep on doing that, forever! In the midst of my sorrows and triumphs, I am still enjoying Him.

But the story doesn’t end there. My life is still going on, and I still need to examine my heart to find purposes hidden there. All which are contrary to God’s will, I have to ask Him to cut away, and all which are in conformity to His Word, I rejoice in!handshake

There’s one more point which I’ve covered elsewhere on my blog, in the post God’s Commands and Our Promises. I continue to struggle with this one. Why did I get out of bed this morning? Because I was hungry? Because I needed to be at the library before 9 am? Or was it simply because God’s Word says in Proverbs 26:14 that

As a door turns on its hinges,
So does the lazy man on his bed.

Beautiful poetry, of course. But what a strong message! The next time you turn off the alarm and roll back over, remember this!

So, on this earth and for all eternity, our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Have fun!

In Him,
Rhoda