Straining on tiptoe Romans 8:14-28

The last couple of months have been among the toughest I can remember in the life of any church. Folk seriously ill and in great pain, waiting for tests and for operations. Folk facing all kinds of challenges in their own lives or in the lives of family members. Sudden bereavements, mourning and grieving. Many worn out and desperately needing a holiday. For a church of our size to have so many people suffering so much all at the same time is very unusual. It’s stretching our reserves and our faith almost to breaking point. This morning we all need refreshment and encouragement and we turn to one of the most inspiring verses in Scripture.
Romans 8:19 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
J.B.Phillips lovely translation puts it this way. “The whole of creation is straining on tiptoe just to see the wonderful sight of the children of God coming into their own.”
What is it that keeps Christians going when the battle against sin and the world and the flesh and the devil seems too hard? When this life seems so full of pain and suffering and discouragement. When it seems as if everybody is against us in the world around and sometimes even in church – and it seems as though nobody is on our side? What keeps us going? It is the hope of heaven. The trustworthy promise of God that however grim this world may get, the next world will be literally “out of this world!”
THE SPIRIT WHO MAKES US GOD’S CHILDREN
God has put His Holy Spirit inside us to make us His children. The Spirit who makes God’s love real to us and assures us that we are Sons and Daughters of the Living God.
Romans 8 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’
The Holy Spirit inside us helps us to pray, Abba, Father. The Spirit brings us peace with God, and the Spirit also brings us “the peace of God” which passes all understanding. The Spirit brings us inexpressible joy in the midst of our sufferings. But these blessings are only the start of the wonderful things God is going to do for us.
We are also HEIRS OF GOD
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Heirs with God and co-heirs with Christ. Inheritance usually works when some good things come to us when somebody else dies. Only the Christian inherits when we ourselves die! But there are so many blessings waiting for us to inherit beyond the grave. This is how much God loves us!
1 John 3: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
So much is waiting for us in heaven, hidden with Christ in God! Of course the blessings of being identified with Christ in heaven are only for those who have been united with Christ on earth. “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” If you do not bear the cross you cannot wear a crown. But for those who have followed Christ in this life, listen to the glorious promises.
THE GLORY TO BE REVEALED
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
There is a foretaste of this promise back in Romans 5.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
We have this marvellous hope of sharing in God’s glory. The glory which is yet to be revealed. In the light of that amazing hope, our present sufferings are just not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. “Not worth comparing.”
The founder of the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther wrote this. “If we consider the greatness and the glory of the life we shall have when we have risen from the dead, it would not be difficult at all for us to bear the concerns of this world. If I believe the Word, I shall on the Last Day, after the sentence has been pronounced, not only gladly have suffered ordinary temptations, insults, and imprisonment, but I shall also say: “O, that I did not throw myself under the feet of all the godless for the sake of the great glory which I now see revealed and which has come to me through the merit of Christ!”
The sufferings of this life are not worth comparing with the glory which is to be revealed in us! The best is yet to come! As Thomas Moore said, “Earth has no sorrow which heaven cannot heal.” In 1 Corinthians 2:9 Paul quotes Isaiah 64:4. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”
The apostle John was granted a marvelous vision of what heaven will be like.
Revelation 22: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

And the Bible tells us that the marvellous salvation which God has prepared for his children even has cosmic dimensions! The glorious freedom of the children of God!
Romans 8 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
The Bible tells us that when Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, the whole of creation shared in the curse.
Genesis 3 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground.

God’s curse on creation was part of his plan of salvation.
Romans 822 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

We find this longing that creation be restored again even in the Old Testament.
Jeremiah 12 4How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished. Moreover, the people are saying, “He will not see what happens to us.”
The whole of Creation is longing to be set free and to share in
THE FREEDOM AND THE GLORY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD
Romans 8:21 the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
At last in Heaven, all created things will be free. Free from sin, free from death, free from decay, free from suffering, free from pain.
Revelation 21:3 And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with men: and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people: and God himself with them shall be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more. Nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new.
The glorious liberty of the children of God. Freed from distractions and trivia and temptations. Freed from our own failings and weaknesses. Free to serve God and worship God and love God. Free from the bondage to decay and and the inevitability of death. Since this is what God has prepared in store for us,
WE WAIT EAGERLY
23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
We are already God’s children, God’s beloved sons and daughters. But we won’t really know what we are until our bodies are redeemed and transformed to be like Christ’s glorious body. There is that marvelous passage we often read at a funeral from 1 Corinthians 15.
49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
So, says Paul, we wait eagerly for that transformation! And we wait patiently.
24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
This is our Christian hope. Not some vague optimism but a happy certainty. Hope is a combination of expectation and desire. I would love one day to walk on the moon. But since I have no expectation of that ever happening I can’t say “I hope to walk on the moon.” On the other hand one day I am sure I will have to visit the dentist. But since I have no desire ever to visit the dentist again it would be wrong to say, “I hope to visit the dentist.”
But my greatest desire is to spend eternity with Christ. And the promises of God make it absolutely certain that I will spend eternity with Christ. So it is correct to say, I hope to spend eternity with Christ. I hope to share in His glory. This is not wishful thinking. This is the happy certainty of our Christian hope.
And as a first instalment of all the good things God has prepared for those who love Jesus, we have
THE FIRSTFRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
The Holy Spirit inside us gives us a foretaste of heaven, a first instalment if you like.
2 Corinthians 5:1 Now 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. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
All the activity of God the Holy Spirit in our lives is a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance. So indeed throughout this life we are groaning with anticipation, longing to be with Jesus! And the Spirit not only maintains our Christian hope within us, but also helps us in our limitations, giving us a foretaste of what it is like to meet with God face to face by helping us in our prayers.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
The Spirit gives us a foretaste of heaven, not least in helping us when we pray. So when this life seems too hard to bear, we should lift our eyes and look to the future. Look beyond death and the grave. Look at what God is doing preparing us to share in his glory forever.
With all these wonderful promises in mind, we can put our trust God whatever this life may throw at us.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Whatever we or those we care about may be suffering in this life, we trust that God is at work behind the scenes to fulfil his promises! Those are waiting for us in His eternal presence in glory.
The story is told of an elderly couple who returned home from a lifetime of service on the mission field. Their ship was welcomed into port by bands and speeches but all that was for the President who was aboard – not for them. Nobody came to welcome them ashore. As they settled into their retirement flat nobody came to visit. The husband became resentful. In his prayers he poured out his heart to God. “I thought at least one person would come to welcome us home.” But God quietly spoke to him. “You aren’t home yet!”
Whatever hard times we are going through at the moment, whatever we may be suffering, we can find hope and strength and encouragement and comfort and peace in God’s promises. This is what we need to hear. The whole of creation is straining on tiptoe just to see the children of God come into their own. Every one of us can look forward to that day!

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