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
Today I want to share with you some choice thoughts from the Puritan writer John Owens, as quoted by Tim Challies on his blog. Note the startling implications following each positive statement.
A list of seven things that Christ is:
- He is the Way; men without him are Cains, wanderers, vagabonds:—
- He is the Truth; men without him are liars, like the devil, who was so of old:—
- He is the Life; without him men are dead, dead in trespasses and sins :—
- He is the Light; without him men are in darkness, and go they know not whither:—
- He is the Vine; those that are not grafted in him are withered branches, prepared for the fire:—
- He is the Rock; men not built on him are carried away with a flood:—
- He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the author and the ender, the founder and the finisher of our salvation.
It reminds me of an old song from the ‘70s:
Men are trying to find the answers to the questions that never cease
They find in life there’s something missing; they are looking for release
And the way to peace.
He is the way; without Him there’s no going
He is the truth; without Him there’s no knowing
He is the life now and eternally
He satisfies the searching heart and fills men with His love so rich and free!
I’ve just finished reading Madeleine L’Engle’s book, “The Young Unicorns” (copyright1968)—my first venture into her writings but definitely not the last.
Toward the end of this book, a man who is trying to take over the city by force says, “People don’t want freedom. Don’t you realize that? Can you not tell? People want serenity, safety. Freedom is too dangerous. You don’t want freedom, Robert….My trusty young followers have found something better than freedom, have you not, my lads?
“Young people today in applying for jobs are not looking for challenge….What the young man or woman applying for a job today is looking for is fringe benefits, a secure retirement policy… adequate, nay more than adequate hospital and medical insurance…
“Man is not capable of freedom. If we are given freedom we will destroy ourselves…The only way we can be freed from the slavery of freedom is by relinquishing freedom…in a reasonable and pleasurable way.”
Does this sound familiar?
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
This morning I read the very short book of Jude in a new Bible. When I looked back on the verses I’d marked, all of them were on the same theme! See if you can identify that theme in these verses:
v 1: I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ.
v 20-21: But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
v 24: Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. (Answer at the bottom in small type)
Now look once more at each of these verses to see who it is that is responsible for this. Here is a wonderful interplay of God’s sovereign power and my responsibility to stay close to him, safe from the pitfalls described at length in verses 4-19.
(Answer: keeping us safe)
Night is falling and the power is off, but I can draft a blog post as long as the computer battery holds up. And last week the water was off for a couple of days . At times like these I give thanks for things I normally take for granted, including also Internet, food, air, health, freedom, and the list goes on.
I can manage without some of these things for a short time, especially when it’s temporary. I’ve been very blessed to have lived in security and freedom, unlike so many who see no end to daily suffering from physical pain, deprivation, or oppression.
But—here’s the part I hate to think about, much less put in writing—how will I handle it if the time comes when it’s me in that position? Jesus warned us of coming suffering and persecution, and why should I be exempt? When that time comes, will I fall apart, or will I live in calm trust in the One who controls all? The words of this song challenge me:
Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own his cause or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease
While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?
Sure I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy word.
A look around us at the state of the world and where it’s going can produce panic. That’s how the Israelites felt as the Assyrian empire threatened to obliterate them. (Read in Isaiah, particularly in 28:14-16, 30:1-7, and elsewhere.)
When they weren’t in denial, they devised strategies. Their confidence was in bribing their enemies, making deals with potential allies (e.g. Egypt), and trying to build up their defenses (e.g. horses). God compares this kind of security to a “foundation made of lies” which will be swept away in the flood, or “a bed too short to lie on” with “blankets too narrow to cover” the sleeper! (28:17-20).
Instead, their confidence should have been in the “foundation stone…a firm, tested and precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.” (28:16) Safety and security in their own land would be assured if only they would obey God. But would they?
As 2012 begins, I want to keep in mind some of these words from Isaiah 26:
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you…
You are a God of justice…
Our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
All night long I search for you…Only when you come to judge the earth will people turn from wickedness and do what is right.
We have this assurance: those who belong to God will live; their bodies will rise again…and sing for joy!
Today we’re packing and tomorrow we fly to the other side of the world for another two or three years to continue with the work God has given us to help provide His Word for people groups that still need it.
A few years ago we were in this same situation. We were flying out of LA the next morning. But I could hardly face the idea of going for how many years, leaving all our family behind and whatever kind of “security” I might feel in my home country.
At that very time, God gave me this verse from Psalm 139.9:
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. (NIV)
This is just what I needed, and it fit our situation exactly—wings…dawn…far side of the sea…! The reassurance of God’s presence, guidance and protection is my security no matter where He takes me and what He allows to happen.