Building on a Solid Foundation

My granddaughters love the song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock.”  They’re too young to understand what it means to build on a solid foundation, but they enjoy dong the hand motions, and it is instilling into them the need to build their lives on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.

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The song is based on a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  This teaching is found in Matthew 7: 24 – 27:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

My husband is a civil engineer.  Recently, a client had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove soil from a building site that would not have properly supported the building and replace it with soil that would compact properly.  It was a lot of money for ‘dirt’ and it was painful for the client to write that check.  However, in the long run, it will save a lot of money over having to repair a damaged foundation.

Several years ago, the owner of a commercial building being erected near my office made a different, and very costly, decision. He took a chance that the engineer was wrong and poured his foundation on the existing soil.  When the building began to be erected, the foundation cracked.  The owner was then forced to tear out all the construction that had been done, replace the soil, and start again. He wasted much time and money–much more than if he had done the job properly the first time.

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We make these same type of decisions with our lives.  We can build on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ in the beginning and avoid costly mistakes and much heartbreak.  Or we can decide to do things our way until our foundation cracks and our world falls apart, before turning to the master builder for help.

Following Jesus does have a cost.  We have remove the ‘bad dirt’ of selfish ambitions and worldly pleasures.  In exchange, we build our lives on a structure that is strong and doesn’t crumble when the storms of life come our way. Unfortunately, many people don’t want to remove the bad dirt from their lives; they delay the decision to follow Jesus until storms destroy the life that they have build on a weak foundation.  Fortunately, Jesus does respond to them when they call out to Him from the rubble of their lives.  He cleans away the debris and provides a firm foundation for them to start the rebuilding process.  He cannot, however, reverse the clock–time has been wasted and heartache has ensued.  Any many times the problem which arose from a weak foundation have implications and cost for the rest of a person’s life.

Have you built your life on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ?  If not, I urge you do not delay any further.  Only with Jesus as your foundation will you be able to stand firm against the storms of life.

Seek Wisdom from God

Many times recently, as I have listened to the news, I have wondered what has happened to the sanity, reason, and wisdom of those who lead our nation.  Many of our elected leaders, particularly those that identify as socialist or progressive, are espousing ideas that seem designed to destroy the fabric of our nation.  How can a nation continue to exist if it advocates for the murder of babies who were ‘accidently’ born alive after a botched abortion?  How can we protect our citizens if we refuse to protect our borders?  How can we encourage diligence, innovation, and a strong work ethic if we hand out money to anyone who chooses not to work?

Every day politicians are getting behind these radical and dangerous ideas.  It can be discouraging and downright frightening.  And I would be truly terrified, if I put my faith in our government and politicians. Thankfully, I don’t.

My faith is firmly established in Jesus Christ.  Jesus has overcome this world, sin, and death.  He has already won the victory over Satan and evil.  And He promises victory to us as we put our faith and trust in Him.  “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  1 John 5: 4, 5

The problems we are facing in America today have their root in our failure to follow the Lord’s commands and honor Him.  Many people have rejected God and fail to worship Him.  Instead of following Biblical principals, they do whatever they think is right.  Without a Biblical foundation, however, there is no standard of what is right and what is wrong.  We are in a time of ‘political correctness’ where right and wrong change almost daily, based on the whims of those who are most vocal.

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us that creation reveals God to us. When we reject God and His truths, we become foolish.  In verses 21 – 22, we read “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

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I encourage each of you to pray daily for our elected leaders to seek God and ask Him for true wisdom to lead this nation according to God’s ordinances.  He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

In Deuteronomy 4:6-7, God told Israel to carefully observe His statutes, “for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’  What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?”

That is my desire for our nation!

 

Biblical Command to be Generous

The last parable of Jesus’s ministry recorded in the book of Matthew emphasizes the importance of Christ’s followers to be generous towards those who are in need. In this illustration, the Son of Man welcomes into eternity those who cared for the needy and equates such care as caring for Christ personally. Furthermore, those who did not care for the needy are sentenced to eternal damnation.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:  for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;  I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 4And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25: 31 – 46

 


help-othersThroughout both the Old and New Testament, God commands His people to be generous and care for the poor. Furthermore, the Bible also teaches that generosity should come from the heart and be guided by the Holy Spirit. Nowhere does the Bible teach that caring for the poor is the responsibility of the government. It is the responsibility of God’s people to take care of their poor neighbors as prompted by the Holy Spirit.

A very clear distinction is made, however, between those who less fortunate and those who are idle or wasteful. Specific instructions are provided as to those who qualify as truly needed care and those who have come to poverty by their unwillingness to work or by wasting their money on worldly pleasure.

This is the first in a series of posts which will examine Biblical teachings on generosity and caring for the poor. These teachings include:

  1. God commands us to be generous to the poor.
    Deuteronomy 15:11 “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”
  2. God blesses those who are generous.
    Proverbs 22:9 “He who has a generous eye will be blessed.”
  3. Generosity is a response to God’s saving grace. James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
  4. Generosity should be done with right motive.
    Exodus 35: 4, 5 “This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying: ‘Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord.'”
  5. We should take advantage of opportunities to be generous.
    Mark 14:7 “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good.”
  6. God hears the prayers of the generous.
    Daniel 4: 7 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

 

Jesus taught that we will always have poor people in our communities. It is no shame to be poor. In Samuel 2:7, we are told the “The Lord makes the poor and makes the rich.” We will always have widows and orphans in our midst who need our help We will also have people who are physically unable to support themselves.

Help should first come from family members, if the person in need has a family. Families are commanded to care for those in need within their own families. “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.” 1 Timothy 4:5

Furthermore, those who will not care for needy family members are being disobedient to God’s commands. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 4:8

When families care for those in need in their own families, the resources of the church are then available to help those who do not have anyone else to help them. “If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.” 1 Timothy 5:16

Paul ends this letter with a command to be generous. “Command them [those who are rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” 1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV)

Putting Faith Into Action: Ask God to reveal to you people in your family, church, neighborhood, and community who are in need of financial assistance. Pray about how God would have you help those in need.

 

Knowing Who You Are

I’d like to share a story by H. B. Kelchner that illustrates the importance of knowing who we are and not being defined about what others think of you.

“One time I was holding a meeting in a certain city and somebody attended my meeting who did not like me or what I preached. He sent an open postal card through the mail to the pastor’s home. He called me a liar, with everything else he could think of, and signed his own name and put it through the United States mail. When I came to the pastor’s home that evening, he said, “Preacher, here is some mail for you.” But when I looked at it, I said, “I am sorry, this is not me.” Another preacher sitting there took it. The longer he read it, the more angry he became. He said, “Brother, you could make yourself some easy money; you can sue him.” “But,” I said, “Brother, when I do that, I have to admit that it is me; and it is not me, so why should I worry?” So many people do not know who they are. I have heard people say, “They called me a liar; and I am not a liar. I’ll take them to court and sue them.” Well, if we are not a liar, then surely they are not talking to us. If I go down the street and someone runs up behind me saying, “Mr. Smith, you old Mr. Smith,” they can say all the things about Mr. Smith they want to; it is not going to bother me because I know my name is not Mr. Smith. My name is Kelchner. Many saints of God have not learned who they are and every time the devil sends a little dog barking along their Christian pathway, they get out of victory. As the common saying is, “They lose their sanctification, ” and want to start a fight. It pays to know who you are.”

From “Living Your Christian Life NOW in the Light of Eternity” Book 1, by H. B. Kelchner

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are:

  1. tA Child of God–“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
  2. A New Creation–“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ” 2 Corinthians 5:17
  3. Heirs of God–“And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him” Romans 8:17
  4. Chosen, Royal, Holy, Special –“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9
  5. Valuable–“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? ” Luke 12:24
  6. Precious–“Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you.” Isaiah 43:4
  7. Loved Forever by God–“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you.” Isaiah 54:10

Don’t let others try to define you. If someone says something untrue or unkind, remind yourself that they are not talking about you. You are not that person. You are a valuable, precious, loved, chosen Child of God.

Photo by Luiz Paulo on Pexels.com

My One Word for 2019–Commitment

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3 (NRSV)

My sister-in-law posted this verse on her Facebook page recently, and it spoke to my spirit instantly. I felt that this would be my verse to focus on for the year, and Commitment would be my One Word for 2019.

For this purpose, I am using as the definition of Commit, “to give in trust or charge.” I will ‘give in trust’ all my works to the Lord, and He, in return, will permit those works to come to fruition, so long as my works are in harmony with His word.

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This principle applies regardless of whether the work involves (1) doing my job, (2) improving my health, (3) taking control of my finances, (4) learning new skills, (5) building new relationships, or (6) stepping out into new areas of service and/or ministry.

The One Word concept is that one should focus on one word for the year, rather than making a bunch of resolutions that will be quickly broken. So for this year, I will focus on committing to the Lord whatever work I feel led to pursue. And, I will be certain that He will bless the efforts I commit to Him.

What word will you choose to reflect on in 2019?

I Serve A Risen Savior

This past weekend Christians around the world celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.  The Easter season begins Lent and culminates with Easter Sunday.  During this time, we focus on the events of the last week of Jesus’s life leading up to His atoning death on the cross, where He bore the burdens of our sin.  And on Easter morning, we celebrate the most remarkable event in world history–the resurrection of Jesus and His victory over death and the grave.

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The glory and power of Christ’s resurrection is what sets Christianity apart from other religions.  Christian serve a living God who sent His son to take the punishment that we deserve for our sins.  The Son now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf.  Many religions have been created to try to meet people’s spiritual needs, but none of them worship a risen Savior.  That is why other religions fall short and fail to meet the needs of their adherents.

Jesus is the only answer to the need for a Savior.  And He is alive!  This truth should spring forth from our hearts every day.  Jesus is alive!  Jesus intercedes for me!  Jesus loves me and wants to help me every day as I journey through life. When I take the time to focus on this truth, my heart burst forth with the words of the Easter hymns which so joyously celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  I particularly love “I Serve A Risen Savior” by Alfred Henry Ackley.

 

I Serve A Risen Savior

I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy;
I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me
I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary,
I never will despair;
I know that He is leading,
Through all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing
Will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him,
The Help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
So good and kind.

 

 

Do Not Fret Because of Evil Men

There is no doubt that our nation is becoming ever more accepting of sin and wickedness.  Over the past several decades, we have legalized the murdering of unborn children, accepted adultery and other forms of sexual immorality as the norm, and determined that everyone should do what is right in his or her own eyes.  As a person who strives to honor and glorify the Lord in my life, I find it is easy to become discouraged.  Our nation is pulling further and further from God and Christian are becoming persecuted for standing up for our beliefs.

As I read God’s word, however, I realize that this is nothing new.  Sinners have always done evil and tried to persecute those who serve the Lord.  David wrote often about his sufferings in the years between being anointed to be the next king of Israel and the fulfillment of that promise.

Psalm 36 opens with these words from David, “An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:  There is no fear of God before his eyes.  For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”  (Psalm 36:  1,2)  Wow!  Interesting choice of words, for sure:  “in his own eyes, he flatters himself.”   I have never thought of those who are leading our nation deeper into sins as flatters of themselves, but it does make senses.  Those who support the killing of innocent, unborn children have convinced themselves that they are ‘protecting the rights of women.’  This is certainly an example of self-flattery.  Not only have they convinced themselves that abortion is not a sin, but they congratulate themselves on doing something good and noble.

David continues, “The words of his [the wicked] mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good.  Even on his bed he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong.”  (Psalm 36: 3, 4)

It truly is discouraging to witness politicians and political activists leading our nation to even greater depths of sin.  Yet, I know that God is on the throne.  He allows mankind to run the show for a while, but He is never far away and He will not allow this evil to continue indefinitely.  In Psalm 37:7 – 9 David reminds us of this.  “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.  for evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”