The world we live in is beautiful because it is created and sustained by God. It is broken because it is cursed by God because of sin. Even though we like to say the every day is a beautiful day out on Bittersweet Farm, some days are more beautiful than others, because even on our peaceful acres in our quaint farmhouse we cannot escape the effects of sin and the fall and the curse.
Paul wrote about this with poetic beauty in the eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. He wrote that because we live in a sin-cursed world we groan and all of creation around us groans.
Yesterday I worked hard which involved hours of moving things and carrying boxes, some of them up and down stairs. When I got into bed I indulged in a little groaning.
I groaned a little last week, too. Last Friday on my day off I was looking forward to some reading and writing and watching the first blush of autumn from one of our porches on Bittersweet, but early in the morning I discovered a plumbing disaster and spent the entire day figuring out how to keep it from destroying our hickory hardwood floors. After hours of work, multiple trips to Home Depot, calls to our plumber son Wes and prayers (no I’m dead serious) genuine crying-out-to-God prayers, Lois turned on the faucet and everything worked like is supposed to. She quietly said; “Thank you.”
But that took a lot of groaning and grunting and grumbling first, because all is not well in this world, even out on Bittersweet.
It’s true with Lois and I and our whole family. We are sinners saved by grace and seated in the heavenliness in Christ. We are, each of us, heirs of eternal life and sealed with the indwelling Spirit of God. We are chosen and cherished by God. We are holy and blameless before Him in Christ. We are a part of the family, but we all still have very real struggles with sin.
Let me repeat myself. Please read this carefully. We still have very real struggles with sin and they can be ugly sometimes. Lois is a gifted photographer and so we have some beautiful pictures of the children and grandchildren. By the grace of God her genes usually overshadow mine and our offspring tend to look more like her than I, so that doesn’t hurt, so we have some nice pictures of the family, but you need to know they are staged, even the ones that look like they are not.
I like to say, the Pierpont Family is like a mediocre roofing job. We look good from the road but up close you are going to notice a few crooked shingles in each of us.
The only thing that all of us are consistently good at in sin. We each wrestle hard with what Paul called “indwelling sin.” But we wrestle by the grace of God. We know that sin wars against our souls every day. Peter said it like this: “Abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.”
Sometimes people will say to me, “Well, you’re an optimist. I’m more of a realist.”
I reply, “As a Christian, given how we know this will end for us, I like to think it’s only realistic to be optimistic.”
My son, Chuck told me the other day; “Dad, you need to be careful. Someday you might fall out of the the Pollyanna Tree and hurt yourself.”
I think when I opened up the crawl-space under the kitchen and had to pump 70 gallons of steamy water from under our house I may have fallen out of the Pollyanna Tree and landed in water under the house, but I bounced when I landed because I have spent my lifetime trying to see life from God’s point-of-view and I am not surprised by evidence of fallenness in and around me even out on Bittersweet Farm where every day is a beautiful day and the little light in the kitchen is always on.
September 24, 2019
(This is Wes, our plumber son. I so thank God for him every day, but especially on days when I am trying to fix the plumbing. I continually thank God for Wes and whoever came up with Sharkbite connectors).
Take a couple minutes to read this. (It is Romans 8 in The Living Bible Paraphrase)
8 So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine through Christ Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death. 3 We aren’t saved from sin’s grasp by knowing the commandments of God because we can’t and don’t keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours—except that ours are sinful—and destroyed sin’s control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 So now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us.
5 Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God. 6 Following after the Holy Spirit leads to life and peace, but following after the old nature leads to death 7 because the old sinful nature within us is against God. It never did obey God’s laws and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their old sinful selves, bent on following their old evil desires, can never please God.
9 But you are not like that. You are controlled by your new nature if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that if anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ living in him, he is not a Christian at all.) 10 Yet, even though Christ lives within you, your body will die because of sin; but your spirit will live, for Christ has pardoned it. 11 And if the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives in you, he will make your dying bodies live again after you die, by means of this same Holy Spirit living within you.
12 So, dear brothers, you have no obligations whatever to your old sinful nature to do what it begs you to do. 13 For if you keep on following it you are lost and will perish, but if through the power of the Holy Spirit you crush it and its evil deeds, you shall live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 And so we should not be like cringing, fearful slaves, but we should behave like God’s very own children, adopted into the bosom of his family, and calling to him, “Father, Father.” 16 For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we really are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. 19 For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect his children. 20-21 For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command—will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy.
22 For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event. 23 And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us—bodies that will never be sick again and will never die.
24 We are saved by trusting. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have—for a man who already has something doesn’t need to hope and trust that he will get it. 25 But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.
26 And in the same way—by our faith—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.
29 For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him—and all along he knew who would—should become like his Son, so that his Son would be the First, with many brothers. 30 And having chosen us, he called us to come to him; and when we came, he declared us “not guilty,” filled us with Christ’s goodness, gave us right standing with himself, and promised us his glory.
31 What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?
33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has forgiven us and given us right standing with himself.
34 Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven.
35 Who then can ever keep Christ’s love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because he doesn’t love us anymore? And if we are hungry or penniless or in danger or threatened with death, has God deserted us?
36 No, for the Scriptures tell us that for his sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day—we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; 37 but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. 38 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, 39 or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.