Dec 28, 2012
Dec 28, 2012
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46
A large, illuminated cross stands erect on Table Rock, a rocky plateau overlooking my hometown. Several homes were built on neighboring land, but recently the owners have been forced to move out due to safety concerns. Despite their close proximity to the firm bedrock of Table Rock, these homes aren’t secure. They have been shifting atop their foundations—nearly three inches every day—causing risk of major water pipes breaking, which would accelerate the sliding.
Jesus compares those who hear and obey His words to those who build their homes on rock (Luke 6:47–48). These homes survive the storms. By contrast, He says homes built without a firm foundation—like people who don’t heed His instruction—cannot weather the torrents.
On many occasions, I’ve been tempted to ignore my conscience when I knew God asked more of me than I had given, thinking my response had been “close enough.” Yet the homes in the shifting foothills nearby have depicted for me that being “close” is nowhere near enough when it comes to obeying Him. To be like those who built their homes on a firm foundation and withstand the storms of life that so often assail us, we must heed the words of our Lord completely.
Help me, Lord, to obey You fully and with my whole heart. Thank You for being my firm foundation.
God’s Word is the only sure foundation for life.
A temptation when hearing Jesus’s words is to be moved and inspired without wrestling with the ways His words demand change in our lives. Jesus knew that would be our tendency, and so He emphasizes that an emotional confession (“Lord, Lord,” v. 46) is of no value if we do not obey, if we do not let His words challenge the way we live and what we believe. Building our lives on Him means a life of daily transformation, of daily following Him.
What “norms” in your life do you think Jesus’s words might challenge?
For further study, see Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Oswald Chambers at dhp.org/studies.
Yesterday we learned that God is our protector. Today’s verses from Psalm 121 also portray Him as our keeper.
“He who keeps you will not slumber” (v. 3). Many young children are fearful in the dark. If they awaken when everyone else is sleeping, they might feel alone and scared. Our Caretaker needs no sleep; He is always alert and attentive to our cries, even when our feelings seem to tell us otherwise.
“The Lord is your keeper … He will keep your soul” (vv. 5, 7). When parents have to leave their children for a while, they choose a trusted person to put in charge. We often say that this individual is “keeping” the kids. The babysitter is expected to protect and provide for the children. How much more invested and capable is our heavenly Father! Besides preserving us physically and spiritually, He restrains us from wrong thoughts, harmful words, and inappropriate actions. His Holy Spirit gives warnings to keep us from evil, and He also provides guidance so we’ll grow in godliness.
“The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever” (v. 8). God is sovereign. He is with us always—protecting, pointing the way, and teaching us. He accompanies and leads even in the small tasks that seem insignificant.
When we grow up, many of us feel sadness and a little fear as we leave the safety of our parents’ home. But we never leave the precious love and care of our heavenly Father. God is our keeper, and He cares for us better than any earthly mom or dad ever could.
“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” (Psalm 107:2)
This hymn of praise for God’s providence centers around four examples of God’s deliverance from particular problems. The four situations are as follows: Lost travelers who are out of provisions far from a city (vv. 4-5), prisoners imprisoned for their own rebelliousness (vv. 1-12), those who have been brought to physical illness due to their sin (vv. 17-18), and sailors who face shipwreck on stormy seas (vv. 23-27). In each case, the individuals prayed for deliverance that resulted in God’s miraculous rescue and a response of praise.
This cycle reminds us of the pattern during the time of the Judges when “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Due to their rebelliousness, God brought the people of Israel into captivity over and over again. Each time, in the midst of their oppression, they cried unto the Lord, who raised up a judge and empowered him to vanquish the enemy and free the people.
The exact same pattern can be found in Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple. He recognized man’s tendency to rebel and forget the Lord’s provision when things are going well, thus eliciting God’s judgment. But God has always used times of trouble to bring men and women back to Himself. He is a God of grace and mercy and love, desiring to forgive and restore those who repent and call to Him for deliverance (2 Kings 8).
The same truth applies today. We still tend to rebel, and He remains long-suffering, willing to forgive and restore upon repentance. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). JDM
This he knew, but the impressive circumstance was mentioned to awaken his mind to a sense of his own responsibility and the need of his at once proceeding to act. The deaths of good men are calls to others to bestir themselves.
This was easier said than done; but Joshua’s faith staggered not. He knew that the Lord was master of the river as he had been of the sea.
Here were exceeding great and precious promises to cheer him. A promise of conquest in war, guidance upon the judgment seat, and of blessing for himself personally. The Lord abounds in tender promises. May he, by the Holy Spirit, speak home some gracious word to our hearts. It would be a joy, indeed, to hear him say, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
The oath and covenant of God are a mainstay to faith, hence the Lord mentions them to his servant. There is no better rock of confidence than the immutable promise of a faithful God.
It seems, then, that it needs strength and courage to be obedient to God. Some count the godly cowards, but the Holy Spirit thinketh not so. He is a brave man who is afraid to sin, and he is a hero who flees youthful lusts which war against the soul. Note that Joshua was to avoid a turn to the right hand as much as a turn to the left: we are no more permitted to offend with the view of doing more good, than with the idea of doing mischief.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, talk about it
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, think about it
that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein, practise it
for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success, rejoice in it
Before the Lord obedience is prosperity, and transgression is a root of bitterness. In order to practical obedience, however, there must be a delight in the Lord’s law. Those who forget to meditate soon cease to obey, in fact their heart has never been truly in accord with the divine statutes.
Where God’s command is our authority we can afford to be bold. Who shall gainsay us when the Lord of Hosts gives us leave? Fear, in such a case, is dishonour to our Invincible Commander. When the Lord is on his side, confidence is but the reasonable condition of a believing man.
By faith I on thy strength lay hold,
And walk in Christ my way,
Divinely confident and bold
Thy precepts to obey.
I would perform thy utmost will,
With heart most fixed and true;
And dare to follow onward still
Where Jesus bids me go.
We of Jehovah’s wrath have heard
The thunders from above;
And trusting his prophetic word,
Take refuge in his love.
Now in the window of our soul
The scarlet line we tie;
When judgment o’er the earth shall roll,
Its sword shall pass us by.
Have you ever been so frustrated at waiting for a fruitful time in your life that you said to the Lord, “When is the fruit-producing season ever going to start in my life? I’ve worked, believed, and waited, but I am a little tired of waiting to see the fruit I long to see in my life. How long do I have to wait, Lord?”
I encourage you today to stay on track and refuse to give up, because you’re about to reach the greatest period of fruitfulness you’ve ever known. Before a fruit-producing tree reaches a time in its growth when it blossoms and bears fruit, first it sends its roots down deep into the earth where it can draw on a constant source of nourishment. Then as it continues to be nourished from below, it begins to send its limbs upward and outward.
During the life of that tree, it must endure the elements of every season—the heat, the cold, the sleet, the rain, and the snow—before it ever blossoms. Because those roots are deeply tapped into a continuous source of strength, nourishment, and energy, the tree is able to outlast all the seasons and eventually become a fruit-producing tree.
Psalm 1:3 uses the example of a tree to declare that when a person is rooted in God’s Word, he is “… like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
If you are wondering how long it is going to take before your fruit-producing season finally arrives, don’t get too discouraged! The bigger the tree, the greater the need for that tree to send its roots down deep into the earth to draw nourishment and to give it a firm footing against the wind, the weather, and the elements of the different seasons. That continual nourishment will also protect the tree from pestilence that may try to attack it through the years.
In light of this, consider what the apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 2:7: “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” I want you to especially notice the word “rooted” in this verse. It comes from the Greek word ridzo, which means to be firmly and deeply rooted, making the object fixed, steady, stable, and strong. This is the picture of a strong tree whose roots go down deep and reach its source of nourishment. The tree is also held securely in place by those roots, regardless of the weather or the environmental opposition that comes against it.
Rather than complain that it’s taking too long for your fruit-producing season to arrive, you need to thank God for this time in your life! Take this time to send your roots down deep and tap into the strength of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. If your roots are securely fixed in Jesus Christ, you will outlast every season, every foul climate, and every storm. Eventually you will enter into the finest fruit-producing season of your life, your ministry, your family, or your business.
Honestly, you need to thank God that things haven’t happened faster in your life! Have you ever seen someone who reached success too quickly? That person usually loses his success just as quickly as he gained it because he didn’t have the roots and the experience necessary to maintain the success he gained. When people achieve success too quickly, it often means they don’t have the roots, the depth, and the sure foundation to bear them up in the difficult times they will encounter as they go through the seasons of life.
So take this time to work on your personal life, your mind, your thinking, your discipline, your finances, your weight, your relationships, and your behavior. While you are waiting for that fruit-producing season to come to pass in your life, use this time to put off the old man and to put on the new man (Colossians 3:9, 10). Spend this phase of your life wisely by renewing your mind to the Word of God (Ephesians 4:23) and being certain your affections are set on things above, not on things of this earth (Colossians 3:2).
If you use your time wisely, there will be no wasted time in your life. But if you just sit around and complain that it’s taking too long to get where you want to go, you will waste time. Sitting and complaining doesn’t make anything happen faster—and it often further delays the manifestation of the answer you’ve been waiting for.
So refuse to belong to those who are grumpy and complaining all the time. Instead, look at this time in your life as a blessing sent from Heaven to help you get yourself rooted deeply in Jesus Christ! Then send your limbs upward and outward as you tap into the power of God. Eventually you’ll begin to see blossoms budding in your life, signaling that you are about to enter your long-awaited season of bringing forth much fruit!
Lord, I thank You for not sending success to me too quickly. I know that if I had achieved success earlier, I wouldn’t have been ready for it. In fact, I might have destroyed it due to my own lack of experience and my immaturity. Help me embrace this time in my life as a time of preparation. Help me to truthfully analyze every part of my life in order to see what areas need to be more deeply rooted in You. I want my roots to go down so deeply that no storms of life and no attacks from the devil will be able to move me from the place where You have called me.
Help me to stay so fixed, firm, strong, and stable that once I enter the fruit-producing season, I will never leave it!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I am firmly and deeply rooted in God’s Word. As a result, I am fixed, steady, stable, and strong like a tree whose roots go down deep. I am tapped into the life of Jesus Christ, and He has become my Source of nourishment. I am held so securely in place that I am unaffected by the storms of life and the pestilence that the devil tries to use to attack me. I will outlast every season, every foul climate, and every storm. I am about to enter into the finest fruit-producing season of my life, my ministry, my family, and my business. My fruit-producing season is getting ready to begin!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Which category do you fall into:
|PROUD, UNBROKEN PEOPLE
|Focus on the failure of others||Are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need
|Are self-righteous; have a critical, fault-finding spirit; look at their own life/faults through a telescope, but at others’ with a microscope
|Are compassionate; forgiving; look for the best in others|
|Look down on others||Esteem all others better than self
|Are independent/possess a self-sufficient spirit||Possess a dependent spirit/recognize the need for others
|Maintain control; must have it their way
|Have to prove that they are right||Are willing to yield the right to be right
|Claim their rights||Yield their rights
|Have a demanding spirit||Have a giving spirit
|Are self-protective of their time, rights, and reputation
|Desire to be served||Are motivated to serve others
|Desire to be a success||Desire to be faithful to make others a success
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)