A Firm Foundation, Part 1

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This weekend my church is starting some new programming. We’ve decided to do a one day vacation Bible School. Our theme for the day is going to be “Jesus is our Rock!” So I thought I would try to get into that subject this week. Today we are going to start with Jesus’ own words in Matthew.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sad. The rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell — and great was its fall.” –Matthew 7:24-27, NASB

This passage comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus had spoken many great truths to the Jewish people in his message, and knew that it was now up to them to decide what to do with it. He wanted them to know that unlike many others (sometimes called false prophets), he, like God, doesn’t change. You can rely upon Jesus to stay the same no matter what is happening. The comparison of the wise and foolish man is to compare the two choices the people had with his teaching. They could either take it and live lives based on good, unchanging foundations. Or try something else, that is quite possibly going to fail.

Jesus offers the same choice to you and me. He hasn’t changed in the last 2000 years, and he isn’t ever going to change. The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NASB). With someone who is that predictable and true, how could we not trust Him. I know that it gets hard. We have our own thoughts and opinions, and there are times that they contradict Jesus. I think this is where we have the hardest time trusting Him, because we say “This seems right to me”. Anytime I’ve ever followed my own opinion verses what Scripture says, I’ve always ended up wrong.

Jesus is our rock and firm foundation. When we build our lives upon Him, we won’t be disappointed. I’m reminded of what God says in Jeremiah,” For I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NASB). With plans like that for us, we should probably follow Him since we tends to lead ourselves away from welfare and hope.

We will be looking at more ways God promises to be our firm foundation throughout the week. Let this song be our song for the week.

 

Psalms to Pray: Psalm 17

The Letter to Thyatira

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Today’s letter was written to the Church at Thyatira. It seems that this church had similar issues to Pergamum. They were doing great things for Christ, but they tolerated pagan/evil beliefs to enter the church. The difference between the two is that Thyatira seems to allow a leader within the church to teach people these evil beliefs while in Pergamum it was the “regular attender”. Jesus calls this person Jezebel (which is a reference an Israelite queen that influenced Israel to worship other gods, and persecuted the prophets of God) and says of her, “she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray…” (Revelation 2:20, NASB).

This is certainly a message to those of us in leadership in the Church, to be careful what we teach. Whatever we say or do must come from the Bible and be Christ-centered. The instant that this isn’t true is when we become like Jezebel and lead people astray. God isn’t happy about that. He wants His people to follow Him and not some made up god or some made up truth. Church leadership has stress over this because they have to make sure they have a message that speaks to everyone, and cannot be misunderstood.

But what if I’m not a leader? This message still applies to you. Where ever I am, and I have a Bible sitting next to me (or I’m reading it), people always seem to ask questions about it. I’m sure many of you have had a similar experience. We even hear people that talk about Christians, but their understanding of who we are is completely wrong; so you stand up for us and answer their questions. Or maybe you don’t respond, but wish someone would correct them. In these moments, we all have the opportunity to be a leader and bring people to Christ. No we may not see a conversion right there, but at least someone may start to understand. That’s why we have to study and understand the Bible. That way we can use it everyday to help others along.

My prayer for you today is that God opens your eyes to something new in Scripture. I also hope that you pray for your church leadership: pastors, worship leaders, lay leaders, other elders, deacons, committee groups, etc. They all need that prayer for encouragement. We must all be vigilant to be sure that we don’t lead people astray, and be unlike the church in Thyatira.

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Everything Else Is Worthless

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So yesterday, I had a Scripture on my mind all day. I woke up early and read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. There is a statement he makes, that just floored me.

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become on with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” — Philippans 3:8-9, NLT

It took me awhile to wrap my head around such a statement. So I dug around Scripture for some time, really trying to understand this issue. To me, my family is a rather large priority. At times I can get my priorities messed up, and place them before God. So I started to question how they could be worthless in comparison to Christ, and God lead me to another passage from Paul.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body to be burned; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” — 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NLT

But I do love others. I honestly could do a better job loving you, if you aren’t my wife or children. So I didn’t quite understand yet what God was trying to piece together for me. So He lead me yet to one final place.

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” — 1 John 3:16, NLT

There it was! The only reason I know how to love my family is because of Jesus! There are so many other things that come from a relationship with Christ, like salvation from my sins. But yesterday, I discovered that it is only because of my relationship with Christ, that I have the life I do, and I am so thankful for it. I can now see that it is worthless when standing next to Jesus. He is my God and my Savior. There is no higher relation to me! This doesn’t mean my family is no longer important. It just means that I have a higher priority than them.

The way Paul says it in Philippians shows us that we must keep Christ at the center of our lives. He must have the highest place in our hearts for worship. Everything must pale in comparison to Christ! If this isn’t true for you, I encourage you to seek Scripture and pray for God to show you how you have given Him a lower priority than He deserves, and how to change that. Our lives are meant to be Christ-centeric, not anything else.

For God or For Man

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A servant’s towel and bowl

Who do we serve? Seems like a simple question. God is the right answer, but do we really do that sometimes? There are times we come across where we really have to check our motives. As a worship leader, it is really easy to lose sight of God, and just become a celebrity. In today’s culture, it’s very easy. We have worship leaders out there, like Chris Tomlin and the group Hillsong, that have a celebrity status. There is a pull to become more famous, more popular, and more influential.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul writes, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (1:10 NASB). This serves as a reminder that, quite often, what pleases God and what pleases man is different. So our focus and heart must be to seek what the Lord is calling for us to do.

This goes beyond the temptation for worship leaders. It extends to everyone. Paul also writes “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB). With these two verses in mind, going to work, caring for our children, eating at a restaurant, or running a few miles changes the way we should be viewing life. It is easy for us to say “it is my life” but really it is His life. He gave it to us as a gift. So just like the sweater your grandmother gave you that you don’t like that you wear around her because it makes her happy, we must live our lives for God!

I know its tough. The last few days have been pretty rough for me because I have not kept this focus. Instead I was being me-centered, when really I should be God-centered. Living a life for Him is the highest form of worship, because it shows our thankfulness that we are able to be alive. This is why I love the phrase “Worship isn’t what you do on Sunday mornings, worship is a lifestyle!” So as a Heart Man, that is to be our focus for the day; how is it that we can worship Him in everything we do? When we do this, that is when our lives become God-centered, and we are able to live out our purpose for life! It isn’t about what other people think anymore, it’s all about how He feels and what He wants from us.

So I ask again, who do we serve?