#017: Building on a Firm Foundation

To build any kind of structure that will last requires a firm foundation. Sand makes a poor foundation because water can easily wash it away. Gravel or hard clay is better, but the best foundation is built on solid rock.

House foundation

In most parts of the country, we have seen what can happen when homes are built on poor foundations. Southern California is no exception. Just about every spring during our “rainy” season we have homes undermined by rushing rain water run-off and ocean side cliffs that crumble into the ocean taking their beautiful homes with them. Occasionally, homes that are built on fill dirt will suddenly settle and break in half.

Florida seems to have their own problems. With the high water table and low elevation, many homes suddenly disappear into gigantic sinkholes that form when the water erodes the unstable soil below.

The Bible says for Christians it is important that our faith be built on a solid foundation–lest it be washed away or crumble under the pressure of the secular world in which we live. Matthew explains that for Christians a strong foundation is built on the solid rock, the Word of God.

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
24  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Jesus is explaining that hearing about how to live is like building on a weak foundation—it can be washed away. But if you put into practice what He says, if you make it part of your life, it will be like building on a firm foundation—it cannot be easily washed away.

Application

It is not enough to go to church where you hear the Word. It is not enough to stay at home and read the Word. If this is all we do, Jesus says we are foolishly building on a foundation of sand—our faith can be easily washed away. If you want to have a faith that will stand up against the storms of life:

1) You must put your faith into practice,

2) You must do what you hear, and

3) You must do what you read.

Only then are you like the wise man that built his house on the firm foundation of solid rock.

For believers, there is no middle ground. Once we know the Word of God we build wisely.

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. How is your foundation? Is one of these three steps harder for you than the others?

Category: Personal Development | Wisdom

#016: Life…You never know what you’re gonna get!

Most folks who love their chocolate have their favorites and my wife is no exception. So when she gets a box of mixed chocolates she presses her thumb into the bottom of each piece to see if it is one of her favorites. Occasionally the thumb test doesn’t work, and I’ll find a half eaten piece in the box. “Life,” as Forest Gump said, “is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Forrest Gump

As I read the newspaper or watch the evening news my stomach churns at the tragedies that surround us. In recent weeks we have experienced the loss of innocent life at the hands of a crazed gunman, the bombing of the Boston marathon, an explosion at a fertilizer plant, devastating tornadoes that decimated whole towns, rain storms that have flooded our communities, and most recently, forest fires that have ravaged mountain villages.

It is not surprising that in the midst of such tragedies a feeling of helplessness abounds and many wonder, “Where is God in all this?” The apostle Paul, who certainly faced great trials in his life, wrote this encouragement to the Corinthians, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Where is God in all this? He is right here waiting for us to come to Him so He can comfort us and guide us. Trust Him. Turn to Him. There is comfort in the arms of our heavenly Father! Moreover, God comforts us so that we can in-turn comfort others. It is amazing how our own troubles seem to lessen when we share God’s love and compassion with others who are hurting!

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you recently gone through a situation in your life in which you wondered “Where is God in all this?” What did you do to get through it? Has a friend or loved one experienced a challenging life situation? What did you do to help them?

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#015: To Forgive, Going Above and Beyond?

Have you needed to forgive someone and not wanted to? Did this person hurt you so badly that you felt forgiveness was going “above and beyond the call of duty?” I know I have!

Forgiveness

I hate to admit it but there have been a few occasions in my life when someone hurt me badly enough that I wished bad things would happen to them–sort of a cosmic pay-back for hurting me.

I’m like, “God you know they did me wrong! How about you send a little bolt of lightning down on them right now?” Actually, I’m glad God doesn’t carry out His judgement that way, or I would have been struck more than a couple times myself–since I’m sure I’ve done stupid things that hurt others as well. The important thing is how we handle these situations when we are hurt.

Jesus was all too familiar with the world in which he was despised and rejected by the very people he was trying so hard to save. Jesus knew the disciples would face some of the same difficulties. Luke records Jesus’ instructions to the disciples regarding the danger of sin, the need for repentance, and the importance of forgiveness.

Luke 17:1-10 (NASB)
1 He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!
2 “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.
3 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4 “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.
7 “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’?
8 “But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’?
9 “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
10 “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'”

There are four important lessons here:

  • It is inevitable that we will sin—we live in a fallen world.
  • We should be on guard and be prepared to help our brothers and sisters who stumble. Our approach should be to handle the situation privately, if the person repents, then forgive.
  • People will continue to sin and we are commanded to continue to forgive when they repent.
  • Forgiving the sinner who repents is not a matter of faith—but a command—it is a requirement.

 Application:

Forgiving the sinner who repents is what Jesus has called (commanded) us to do. It is our base requirement, our duty as servants of God. It is not a matter of faith, nor is it above and beyond the call of duty of one of Jesus’ disciples.

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? What is holding you back?

Category: Skills | Conflict Management

#014: What is our purpose? What on earth are we here for?

There’s a pretty popular book called Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren that delves into our purpose as God’s children. You may have heard of it—I’ve lost count of how many millions of copies have been sold in umpteen languages. This book is popular because it deals with one of the most common questions people have, “What is my purpose in life?”

Reconcile, Fiasco

The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, uses two doctrinal terms that are very important if we are to understand our purpose in life as believers: reconciliation and imputation.

 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NKJV)

18  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
19  that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
21  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Reconciliation

  • Because of his rebellion, man was out of fellowship with God.
  • Reconcile means “to change thoroughly” and in this case refers to the relationship between God and a fallen world.
  • God does not need to be reconciled to man because that work was accomplished by Christ work on the Cross.
  • Man needs to be reconciled to God. This reconciliation cannot be achieved through man’s works, but through Jesus Christ.

Imputation

  • Imputation means “to put to one’s account.”
  • When Jesus died on the cross all of our sins were imputed to Him or “put on his account.”
  • Additionally, Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us.

Application

What is our purpose? What on earth are we here for?

“We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us.” We carry the message of reconciliation and imputation to the fallen world. This is the ministry that God has entrusted to us! What can you do today, this week, to engage in the ministry God has entrusted to you as one of His children?

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome.

Category: Personal Development | Purpose/Passion

#013: What to do when you’re discouraged

Are there times in your life when you are discouraged? Perhaps when a promised promotion doesn’t materialize, or the raise you were expecting doesn’t come through.

Discouraged

Or maybe you’ve done everything you can think of to build your business, but still the market doesn’t respond. There are so many things in life that can bring us to the point of being discouraged. What matters, and what is important for us, is to learn how to deal with life when we are discouraged.

There are a number of characters in the Bible that faced discouragement. In the book of Jeremiah, we meet Baruch, who was the prophet Jeremiah’s scribe. Baruch spends all day, year-after-year recording the words of the prophet, only to have some unrepentant king burn all the scrolls. Jeremiah can’t simply hit “print” to get another copy, he has to re-dictate the whole scroll to Baruch. Baruch is understandably discouraged and that is where we pick up the story in Jeremiah 45:

Jeremiah 45:1-5 (ESV)
1  The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a book at the dictation of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:
2  “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch:
3  You said, ‘Woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.’
4  Thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD: Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up—that is, the whole land.
5  And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the LORD. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go.”

Background. Baruch is the grandson of Mahseiah, governor of Jerusalem under King Josiah. His brother Seraiah was an official who served in the court of Zedekiah. As a member of a prominent family, he likely could have had a prestigious job as a government official or even in the royal court, yet he chose to serve as a scribe for the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah began his prophecy calling for Israel to repent. This call for repentance goes on for 25 chapters! The next ten chapters (26-36) describe how Jeremiah stood against those who harassed him and refused to repent. Chapter 36 records King Jehoiakim who burns the words of Jeremiah that Baruch had written and read to the king’s court. Then Jeremiah dictates to Baruch another scroll saying the same thing!

In chapters 37-44 Jeremiah prophecies destruction for the nation—still they do not repent.

Baruch’s Discouragement. Baruch says woe to me, sorrow has been added to my pain, I am weary from all my groaning, and I have no rest (v3).

Remember God’s Sovereignty. God reminds Baruch that what He built He can break down, and what He planted He can pluck up—even the whole land (v4)!

God’s Counsel & Reward. Don’t worry about seeking great things for yourself. Judgment is coming on the whole land. Your reward is your eternal life (v5)!

Application:

Regardless of the desires of this world to achieve recognition, position, honor, acceptance, peace, security, prosperity, or wealth it’s all temporary. Even the greatest of the things man creates will ultimately come to ruin. Rather than being discouraged as you face life’s difficulties, be joyful in your eternal reward: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

Join in the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are encouraged. Have you faced a period of trials filled with discouragement? How did you get through it?

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God