Monday, February 20, 2023

Building a Life upon the Rock

In Matthew 27:24-27 Jesus tells us that everyone who hears His words and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. That the house stood against the floods and the winds that beat on it. The house stood because it had been built on a solid foundation. He also tells us that everyone who hears His words and doesn't do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. And that house on sand was not able to stand up against the floods and the winds that beat against it. As I think about the times we are living in, I think Jesus words are significant and deserve some deeper contemplation. 

The foundation of our faith is built on the Word of God given to us through people of God's choosing. It includes history that tells us of creation and of our own origin. It tells us of the Fall of man and its consequences that have stretched down though all of human history. It tells us of God's promise to send a Saviour. It includes the Law of Moses, which continually pointed to a coming Messiah, who would save His people. That Messiah ended up being Jesus--the ultimate perfect, sacrificial Lamb of God. It includes the books of poetry that show how relational, how compassionate, and how loving our God is. It includes words of the prophets that pointed out Israel's repetitive failures that drew their hearts away from the very God who radically loved them. And sadly, we are no different than them. It includes the gospels that tell the story of a God who left glory, took on human flesh and rubbed shoulders with men and women in desperate need of grace and then who performed the ultimate act of love--the laying down of His life purchase our redemption. It includes the book of Acts which reveals what life looks like when God's people are indwelled, filled, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It includes epistles written to believers, who needed reminders of who God is and what He has done so they could learn how to trust and obey Him and to lean into Him in the hard as they are being purified and built into building of believers. The believers who are living lives of growth as they are continually sanctified by His blood. It includes the book of Revelation that reveals to us bits of Heaven, encouraging us to live with our gaze on Jesus and our hearts set on eternity.  

Lett's think about the foundation of a building for a minute. When builders lay foundations, they lay them to bear the full weight of all of the building materials. The ground must first be leveled and dug out so that footings can be spaced just right so that the building will not fall. There will be layers of rocks and wires and rebar placed in preparation for the concrete to be poured. With out these the foundation would not be strong enough to hold the building. Maybe the groundwork before the foundation could picture the Old Testament. 

Then after the concrete is poured, it will need to be spread, smoothed, and pressed down so that it fills every nook and cranny of the prepared foundation. This will remove any bubbles and thin spots that might weaken it. It will then be tended to for several days so that it can set up perfectly and not become crumbly. No construction will be done until the foundation has completely set. The foundation is a great picture of our Lord, Jesus. As He walked this earth, Satan tried to tempt Him, offering Him counterfeit kingdoms. Satan tried to discourage Him by stirring throngs of crowds to persecute Him and spew hatred at Him. Satan also tried to stop God's plan through discouragement, which sent the Lord to the Garden of Gethsemane with a breaking heart where He pled for another way but the cross, while at the same time yielding Himself fully to His Father's will. And it was Jesus' resolve to yield that makes the foundation of our faith strong enough to build upon. 

We sometimes forget our salvation rests solely on Jesus and His Word. Some of us think our good works, our kind words, our service has somehow helped us merit becoming a part of the house of God. But our good works are only as good as our worst work, our kind words are only as good as our most hurtful words spewed in anger, and our service...well that is only as good as the service we don't render to the one we didn't feel worthy enough to even glance at. A foundation built with any part of us in it is a shoddy foundation because we are a perfectly imperfect people. The foundation has to be built on Jesus and Jesus alone. He is the only one who perfect enough to have died and paid for sin--his resurrection proved that, and we enter into a relationship with Him by faith and faith alone.

The Word tells us that as we are saved so we shall live. That means we live daily, hourly, moment by moment by faith. If we, as individuals or as congregations, let stress, trials, temptations, business, hurt, or failure take our eyes off of Jesus it is like building a little shack on a massive, glorious foundation. But if we are intentional about keeping our eyes on Jesus, a glorious house will be built that will reflect the Saviour to a lost and dying world. 

It is important to think about what a life of faith looks like. When stress comes, it means remembering who Jesus is and holding on to that so He can dispel the fear and the hesitation that grows so easily in our hearts. When trials come our way, it means remembering that the God who endured and overcame every kind of trial we could ever face indwells us and can strengthen and empower us if we trust Him. When temptations come, it means holding on to Him as long as it takes like Jacob did as He wrestled with God and his own the personal weaknesses.  It means remembering that because of the sealing of the Holy Spirit, we are no longer slaves of sin, we are free to walk in victory. When business comes, it means spending time on our knees, asking Him to purify our hearts and motives and trusting Him to order our days so that the use of our gifts and passions are the most fruitful they can be. And when hurt comes it means, remembering that by Jesus' stripes we are healed. He sees what is done to us. He hears the things said to us. He notices the times we're overlooked, ignored, or pushed aside. And those stripes He bore in His body constantly remind us that He, too, suffered trauma in order to love us well. He is for us, and He is offering us Himself. And when failure comes (and it will because we are human) it means keeping our eyes on Jesus and leaning into Him through confession, knowing His blood alone is and always will be enough to cover our sin. The building will still stand in our imperfection because the foundation is perfectly strong--the foundation is a rock. 

As we learn to live by faith, we will learn to live fully in His grace and that will enable us to learn to we learn to love as He loves, which will enable us to come together to build our lives upon the Rock. 

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!