Thursday, 13 August 2020
Title: Onward, Christian Seniors!
By: Cecilia Tan 陈俊芳

Psalm 92:12-15

The world defines a “righteous” person as one who does what is right – obeys the law or adheres to morals. The Bible however defines “righteousness” as the condition of being right in the sight of God.

Genesis 15:6 describes Abraham as one who “believed in the Lord; and He credited it to him as righteousness”. The basis for righteousness is faith. When we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that God has forgiven our sins because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross, we are declared righteous. Thus, righteousness is a wonderful gift from God to mankind through Christ’s act of love.

In verse 12, the psalmist declares that the righteous “flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon”. If God has blessed the Lebanese with their cedars, we, Malaysians, have also been blessed with our “chengal” trees which produce highly durable hardwood timber suitable for shipbuilding, railway sleepers and other heavy construction work.

What’s so special about the palm tree? This tree survives well in the desert because it sinks its roots deep into the ground to draw up scarce water in the desert. Whenever sandstorms occur, the palm tree bends over and gets back up again after the storm. As the tree gets older, its fruits get sweeter and sweeter!

What about the cedar tree? This tree can grow up to 40 metres and its wide-spreading branches can spread to over 15 metres. Its lifespan can range into thousands of years and its wood has very many uses including construction of buildings, furniture and shipbuilding. King Solomon purposely chose cedars to construct the wooden parts of God’s Temple which was designed to last for centuries.

Both the palm and cedar trees are evergreen, always flourishing, always thriving, always being useful to mankind. The psalmist wants us to manifest their features – deep-rootedness in the ways of God, resilience, durability, strength, usefulness and fruitfulness.

So, what fruit is the psalmist referring to? Bearing fruit must first be an inward process, seeking to be changed to be like Christ, manifesting the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23), showing “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Hard work will not get us there, as what is required is a humble submission to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and a willingness to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He takes us on the road to Christlikeness.

Bearing fruit should not remain an inward process. Inwardly transformed lives give rise to the desire to be the aroma of Christ, to reach out to others to bless them by sharing His love, joy and peace, rather than being the devil’s agent to sow strife and discord, and to provoke fear, anxiety, hopelessness and despair in this increasingly darkening world.

Now, we come to my favourite verse of the psalm. The psalmist declares in verse 14 that we will “still bear fruit in old age”.

How can we possibly be useful and bless others when we we are old? At this stage in our lives, without having to chase after wealth needed to keep our families going, each of us has become a treasure chest filled with an abundance of time on our hands, knowledge, skills and experiences in our respective areas of expertise, as well as accumulated wealth in various forms of financial assets. All of these treasures must be wisely channeled to bless others, as we will depart empty-handed when we reach our expiry dates!

Not everyone of us can be Mother Teresa, impacting thousands of lives for the better, but we can do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are, to make a significant difference in the lives of those in our respective spheres of influence – be it our families, church, friends, neighbourhoods, communities… even our whatsapp communities!

If we seek to heed the advice of Jesus that “it is more blessed to give than to receive”, ( Acts 20:35) we will never run short of ideas of how we can share our blessings with others.

What about the old who are housebound, less mobile or those facing health challenges? Even these can bear less spectacular but no less worthy fruit – enduring suffering with tremendous grace as they battle the challenging circumstances of life, testifying to God’s comfort and peace as they face the storms that assail them. Even they can be a blessing to many by storming the gates of Heaven with intercessory prayers for others!

So, my brothers and sisters in your golden years, let’s continue to bear fruit and march ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SENIORS!

Prayer

Our Heavenly Father, we thank You that You have declared us righteous by the blood of Jesus, Your Son, our Saviour. We ask for Your Holy Spirit’s empowerment for us to be like the palm and cedar trees, to grow in Christlikeness that we may bear fruit even in old age; to be the aroma of Christ and spark joy in a world that is daily bombarded with bad news that instil great fear and extreme anxiety. We pray this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

每日灵粮
星期四,2020年8月13日
标题:基督徒长者们, 向前迈进!
讲员:陈俊芳姐妹
翻译:巫惠如姐妹

诗篇92:12-15
义人要发旺如棕树,生长如黎巴嫩的香柏树。
他们栽于耶和华的殿中,发旺在我们神的院里。
他们年老的时候仍要结果子,要满了汁浆而常发青,
好显明耶和华是正直的,他是我的磐石,在他毫无不义。

世界将“义人“ 定义为做正确事,遵纪守法的人。然而圣经将“义”解释为,在上帝的眼中被视为正直。

创15:6形容亚伯拉罕为”信耶和华,耶和华就以此为他的义。”义的基础是信仰。当我们相信耶稣基督,相信上帝宽恕了我们的罪孽,因耶稣为我们的罪受刑罚,因他在十字架上受死,我们被称为义。因此,义是上帝透过基督的爱,给予人类的一份美好礼物。

诗人在第12节称义人“像发旺如棕树,生长如黎巴嫩的香柏树”。如果上帝赐予黎巴嫩人香柏树,那我们马来西亚人也蒙恩享得“Chengal”树(属于樟脑木科属种)。此木是相当耐用的硬木,适合造船、铁路枕木和其他重型建筑工作。

棕树有什么特别?这类树耐得住沙漠环境,因为它深陷地底吸收沙漠仅有的水。每当沙尘暴发生,棕树就会弯腰,在风暴之后再弹回来。树越老,水果就越甜!

香柏树有什么特别? 这类树可以高达40米,分支可以扩展到超过15米。 它的寿命可以长达数千年,木材有很多用途,包括建筑、家具和造船。 所罗门王特意选择香柏树来建造圣殿木制的部分,因为它们都可以维持木质几个世纪。

棕树和香柏树都是常青、永盛,茁壮的,也对人类有益。诗人希望我们的生命能表现出它们的特点 — 坚韧、耐久、坚强、有用并果实茂盛,以此展现他们扎根在主里不动摇。

那诗人所指的是什么水果?首先,结果子必须是向内的过程,渴望变得更像基督,显示“圣灵的果子”(加5:22-23),展现“仁爱、喜乐、和平、忍耐、恩慈、良善、信实、 温柔、节制”。辛勤工作不能带来以上的成果,因为我们需要谦卑顺服圣灵在我们生活中的工作,并愿意与圣灵同工,因他带领我们前往更像耶稣的路程。

结果子不应该停留在向内的过程。内心的改变会让人渴望拥有基督的香气,并以分享他的爱、喜乐和平安来接触及祝福身旁的人,而不是成为魔鬼的使者,撒下纷争与不和,在这个日益黑暗腐朽的世界中挑起恐惧、焦虑和绝望。

现在,我们来到本篇我最喜欢的一节经文,诗人在第14节宣称,我们“年老的时候仍要结果子”。

人老了,还有用吗?还能祝福别人吗?在人生的这阶段已不必养家糊口,我们每个人都成了一个宝库,装满了丰富的时间、知识、技能和经验,也累计了资产和财富。我们必须以智慧管理这些珍宝,因为时候将到,我们会空手离开!

并非每个人都能成为特蕾莎修女,为了更好的未来而影响成千上万的人,但我们可以尽我们所能,无论身在何处,在各自的影响力范围内,为身旁的人做出有意义的改变 — 无论是我们的家庭、教堂、朋友圈、邻里,社区……甚至是WhatsApp 群组聊天室!

如果我们听取耶稣的建议,“施比受更为有福。”(使20:35),我们永远不会缺少如何祝福他人的点子。

那些待在家里、少走动或身体有疾病的长者们该怎么办呢?即便没能结出令人惊叹的果子,但所结的果子还是具有价值的 — 在面对风暴及充满挑战的环境,雍容大度地忍受痛苦,见证上帝的安慰与平安。甚至对许多人来说,他们积极为别人代求也是一件美事!

所以,活在黄金岁月的弟兄姐妹们,让我们继续结果子。基督徒长者们, 向前迈进吧!

祈祷

我们的天父,我们感谢你,透过你儿子耶稣,我们救主的宝血,你使我们称义。我们求你的圣灵赐我们力量,让我们像棕树和香柏树,在基督里成长,即使年老也可以结果子;在一个每天都充满令人极度恐惧和极度焦虑的世界里,让我们成为基督的香气并散播欢乐。我们奉耶稣的名祈祷,阿门。

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