Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for October, 2014

Off the Foundation

Notch off foundations

 

Several years ago, a flash flood lifted a huge building in our neighborhood off its foundations so that it would never be usable again.  It had to be dismantled.  At that time, it was discovered that the building had never actually been secured to the foundation.  The builders must have assumed that its weight would keep it there. (In the photo, you can see the pieces of metal sticking up from the square foundations where the building had originally rested.)

It reminds me of the children’s song based on Jesus’ parable in Luke 6:46-49: “The wise man built his house upon a rock…and the foolish man built his house upon the sand,” Whether there is a foundation or not, the building is not secure unless it’s fastened to it. 

Jesus’ concern wasn’t architecture but the stability of a life.  If our security is in our youth, beauty, health, wealth, talent, intellect, or popularity—those things don’t last.  Our health fails, the economy flounders, crowds are fickle, and our world fizzles. If our security is in our friends and family, their loyalty may fail and sooner or later they will die. 

Only one thing will serve as a strong, certain, secure foundation for our lives: Jesus Christ.  Are you fastened to Him, trusting in His death for your sins?  This is our only hope, and what a glorious hope it is!

Here’s Fernando Ortega singing “How Firm a Foundation.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvM1Cl4t1ZE

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The Power of a Choice

As a kid, we didn’t have TV at home, so going to my grandparents’ place was an opportunity to watch cartoons like Popeye and game shows such as Let’s Make a Deal.  The difficult thing about the latter was that people had to choose between two unknowns—such as money in an envelope and an object behind a door—or between one known and another unknown that might be much better or much worse than what they already had.

Thousands of years ago, King Solomon was given a choice. In fact, lots of people in the Bible were given a choice which determined the whole outcome of their lives and the lives of others.  But, unlike the game show, the options and their consequences were clearly stated from the start.  Solomon went into this with his eyes wide open, the whole deal laid out on the table.

Solomon got to make two major choices in his life.  First, at the outset of his reign, God appeared to him and offered him anything he chose.  Because he asked for wisdom instead of wealth or fame, God gave him all of these!  He treated him as a favored son, lavishing on him fabulous riches and renowned wisdom.  He had everything he could wish for! 

After some years, God presented him with another choice (1 Kings 9:4-9): 

1)  Live a life of obedience to God.  The result would be a continuing dynasty that would reign forever over Israel.

2)  Reject God and worship other gods.  The consequence would be that Israel would be uprooted from their beloved land and made an object of ridicule, and the magnificent Temple he had just built would be a shambles.

Now, is that a hard choice? Who would choose the latter?

Yet, that is just what Solomon did as the years went by.  He chose to marry wives from nations around him who brought their “detestable” gods along—gods that were worshipped by burning children alive and by lewd prostitution.  Solomon not only tolerated this kind of worship by his wives, but he also turned his heart from the true God and participated in the disgusting worship of his wives’ gods.  As a consequence, his glorious kingdom was divided as it passed to his son, and idol-worship became a constant problem as long as those two kingdoms lasted.  Finally, God had enough of it and they were expelled from their land as He had said.

It’s enough to make one cry.  Why, oh why would anyone choose to rebel against this loving and generous God and bring trouble upon themselves?  Well, the story goes on in the headlines today, in our neighborhoods, and even in our hearts. 

Each day brings its choices.  Will my choices today be those that please or displease Him?  Remember:  God does not “tolerate” what He has forbidden.  The consequences may be delayed out of His mercy, but they will surely come.

God’s Word—a joy or a joke to you?

Recently I participated in the dedication of a Bible translation into a language that had never had it before.  The highlight for me was the tears in the eyes of members of that community who shared what it meant to them! 

Those of us who have grown up with Bibles of all versions, sizes, shapes, colors, and editions too often fail to recognize this treasure right in our hands.  My recent reading in the Old Testament highlighted wildly varying responses to the arrival of God’s word:

King Josiah – When the scroll of God’s word was found in the Temple that had been neglected for decades, and he tore his robe, horrified that he and his people had not been obeying it.  What followed was major repentance, revival, and joyful celebration.

…18 years pass, and Jeremiah is receiving God’s words of warning to a nation about to be destroyed because of their stubborn rebellion against Him. 

Officials of King Jehoiakim –When God’s words are read to them, they looked at one another in fear and told Jeremiah to hide.

King Jehoiakim, who was notably the son of Josiah—When God’s words are read to him, he cuts up the scoll and burns it, then tries to have Jeremiah arrested.

When we hear God’s word, what is our response?  Do we humbly accept and obey it, or do we disdain or even try to suppress it? 

When I discovered your words, I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart’s delight… (Jeremiah 15:16)

Keeping the commandments keeps a person safe,
but scorning the way of the LORD brings death.  (Proverbs 19:16)

 

 

One Thing

“If you could take only one thing with you…”
“You have to choose one thing from this menu…”
“Your favorite food, your favorite song, your favorite Bible verse…” 

I have lots of them!!!  I hate making choices like that. Just like I could never say which of my children or grandchildren is my favorite.

Recently, however, I’ve become aware of a small set of verses in the Bible that point to “one thing” which has to be priority for God’s people.  And though they come from such diverse writers, they all converge:

David:  The one thing I ask of the LORD—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
delighting in the LORD’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple. (Psalm 27:4 NLT)

Paul:  I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Jesus (to a rich man inquiring what it would cost him to follow Jesus): “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”             (Mark 10:21)

Jesus (to Martha, busy in the kitchen while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, drinking in every word he said):  But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:41-42)

In all of these instances, everyday priorities—
     sins and successes,
     pride and achievements,
     possessions and cares of life–
drop by the wayside as that one thing comes into focus and defines who we are       and why we exist: 
     to know God,
     to worship God,
     to serve and please God
     to enjoy God’s best delights he reserves for his children!

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I Want to Know Christ (Listen to Larnelle Harris)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJW8D_22FlE

I know that I know that my life is redeemed
I know I have found what some only have dreamed
I hold in my heart the pearl of great price
Dear God, hear my cry
I want to know Christ

Chorus:
I want to know Christ
I keep Him before me
I lift up my eyes
I drink in His glory
I press toward the goal
His goodness unfolds
March on, oh my soul
I want to know
I want to know Christ

I know that my path is the way of the cross
So I count what I gain and forget what I’ve lost
In pain there is joy
In death there is life
Dear God, hear my cry
I want to know Christ

And the things that entangle me
I lay them down
All the treasures and trophies of life
Let them be lost
Only let me be found in Christ
For I want to know
Yes I want to know Christ

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