Firm Foundation

cracked road
Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. —Matthew 7:24

Earthquakes are prevalent in the Pacific Rim region known as the “Ring of Fire.” Ninety percent of the world’s earthquakes and 81 percent of the world’s largest earthquakes occur there. I learned that many buildings in the city of Hong Kong have been built on granite, which could help minimize damage in the event of an earthquake. The foundation of buildings is especially important in earthquake-prone regions of the world.

Jesus Christ told His followers that a stable foundation is critical in building lives. He said, “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” (Matt. 7:24-25). The foundation of Jesus Christ is what will give us the stability our hearts and lives need now and into the future.

Here, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus returns to a theme He had already discussed earlier in this message—the Father’s will. In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus teaches His followers the “model prayer,” which begins with “Our Father” and continues with “Your will be done.” The Father is the object of our worship and devotion, and in everything we want His purposes to be fulfilled.

By allowing the Lord’s wisdom to guide us in our relationships, decisions, and priorities, we find that He provides the most trustworthy foundation any life could be built upon.

Gracious Father, You are the Lord God, the King of heaven, and I choose to place my hope in You because You alone are worthy of my trust.

Jesus is the best foundation upon which to build a solid life.

By Bill Crowder

Listening With Purpose

1 Samuel 3:1-10

Yesterday we learned about hearing the Word with eagerness and attentiveness. Now, let’s think about approaching the Bible purposefully, expectantly, and prayerfully.

Christians study the Scriptures not just individually but also corporately to learn more about God. Underlying this simple concept is a big challenge. To gain biblical knowledge with purpose means deciding in our heart to obey what we hear (Psalms 119:33). And to do so expectantly means believing that the Lord is going to speak to us (Psalms 25:4). Sermons, Bible study lessons, and quiet times on our own should be a part of our life. God uses these to build us up, strengthen us, or offer us comfort—so listening to Him is worthwhile. And obedience is the only proper response to this kind of personal attention.

Approaching the reading of Scripture prayerfully prepares our hearts to listen and ushers in an attitude of purpose and expectancy. Today’s passage tells the story of young Samuel’s first encounter with God. The priest Eli gives the boy valuable advice—that when the Lord calls, he should say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). Pray those simple words with conviction before you open your Bible, and you will hear God more clearly.

If you want to experience God working in your life, come to Scripture with a prayerful, expectant, purpose-filled attitude. Mourners are comforted. The weary gain strength. Those convicted of their sin repent and know peace. Recognize what a gift God’s Word is.

Prosperity Versus Contentment

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

In this day of Madison Avenue sales pressures and an ever-increasing array of technological gadgets and creature comforts, the Christian virtue of contentment is a rare commodity. There is even a widespread error among born-again Christians that material prosperity is a token of spirituality and divine approval on an affluent lifestyle.

Instead of a blessing, however, such affluence (if it comes) should be regarded as a testing, for Jesus said: “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48).

Paul was perhaps the most faithful and fruitful Christian who ever lived, yet he died penniless in a Roman dungeon. His own testimony concerning material possessions and standards of living was this: “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12).

In the context of our key verse above, the apostle Paul has actually been warning young pastor Timothy against the influence of those who suppose, among other things, “that gain is godliness,” and who think that their material prosperity is proof of their spiritual prosperity. “From such” says Paul, “withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:5). Material gain in no way either produces or denotes godliness; rather, godliness itself is the gain, if accompanied by contentment in Christ (otherwise, of course, it is not true godliness)! Even the most impoverished believer can acquire riches in heaven, where it really counts. In the meantime: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). HMM

Just Meditate for a Month

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. —Psalm 1:2

Let the old saints be our example. They came to the Word of God and meditated. They laid the Bible on the old-fashioned, handmade chair, got down on the old, scrubbed, board floor and meditated on the Word. As they waited, faith mounted. The Spirit and faith illuminated. They had only a Bible with fine print, narrow margins and poor paper, but they knew their Bible better than some of us do with all of our helps.

Let’s practice the art of Bible meditation…. Let us open our Bibles, spread them out on a chair and meditate on the Word of God. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it.

I do challenge you to meditate, quietly, reverently, prayerfully, for a month. Put away questions and answers and the filling in of the blank lines in the portions you haven’t been able to understand. Put all of the cheap trash away and take the Bible, get on your knees, and in faith, say, “Father, here I am. Begin to teach me!”

Guide me, Lord, as I take time to meditate on You. Biblical teachers stimulate me, but my real desire is to hear from You. I’ll get on my knees this morning Lord, in quiet expectation. Amen.

Our Lord Jesus Was Bruised for Our Iniquities

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…. Isaiah 53:5

The word “iniquity” is not a good word—and God knows how we hate it! But the consequences of iniquity cannot be escaped.

The prophet reminds us clearly that the Saviour was bruised for our iniquities.

We deny it, and say “No!” but the fingerprints of all mankind are plain evidence against us—the fingerprints of man found in every dark cellar and in every alley and in every dimly lighted evil place throughout the world. God knows man from man, and it is impossible to escape our guilt and place our moral responsibility upon someone else.

For our iniquities and our transgressions He was bruised and wounded—and Israel’s great burden and amazing blunder was her judgment that this wounded one on the hillside beyond Jerusalem was being punished for His own sin!

The prophet foresaw this historic error in judgment, and he himself was a Jew, saying: “We thought He was smitten of God. We thought that God was punishing Him for His own iniquity for we did not know then that God was punishing Him for our transgressions and our iniquities.”

For our sakes, He was profaned by ignorant and unworthy men!

Resurrection: A Fact

Be established in the present truth… For we have not followed cunningly devised fables. 2 PETER 1:12, 16

The resurrection of Christ and the fact of the empty tomb are not a part of this world’s complex and continuing mythologies. This is not a Santa Claus tale—it is history and it is a reality!

The true Church of Jesus Christ is necessarily founded upon the belief and the truth that there was a real death, a real tomb and a real stone!

But, thank God, there was a sovereign Father in heaven, an angel sent to roll the stone away and a living Savior in a resurrected and glorified body, able to proclaim to His disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth!” (Matthew 28:18).

Brethren, He died for us, but ever since the hour of the Resurrection, He has been the mighty Jesus, the mighty Christ, the mighty Lord!

Our business is to thank God with tearful reverence for the cross, but to go on to a right understanding of what the Resurrection meant both to God and to men. We understand and acknowledge that the Resurrection has placed a glorious
crown upon all of Christ’s sufferings!

Lord, I praise You that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact and not a fable. Because He lives, I have real purpose in this life and I can look forward to the life hereafter.