Archive for August, 2012

Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the September/October Bookmark.

September offers an opportunity to start anew as routines change with the changing weather. If your reading declined during the summer months, jump back in and join us. We’d love to have you share what God is teaching you. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Word of God, speak to us this month!
Sandy

Download all 2012 bookmarks here Download only the September/October 2012 bookmark here

Download a half-page PDF of the September Reading Plan here

Here’s the September reading plan:

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1David sang this song to the LORD on the day the LORD rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. 2 He sang:

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
3 my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my savior,
the one who saves me from violence.
4 I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and he saved me from my enemies.”
2 Samuel 22:1-4 (NLT)

There are many things one can say about King David. Obviously, he was a King. He was a victorious warrior. He was persecuted. He was a sinner. He was described by God as a man after His own heart. What has the strongest impact on me is that he was a man of praise. Whether running from Saul, winning tremendous victories or repenting from sin, David praised. He tasted the highest highs and lowest lows that mankind experiences. And he praised.

As I came to his song of praise in 2 Samuel 22 (today’s Resting at the River’s Edge reading), I was expecting a chapter like most other chapters in 2 Samuel. I was wrong. This is the longest chapter in the book of 2 Samuel and it is one of only a handful of chapters dealing with only one topic. At 51 verses, it has nearly 50% more verses than any other chapter in 2 Samuel and its single topic is praise.

17 “He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
19 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
but the LORD supported me.
20 He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me.”
2 Samuel 22:17-20 (NLT)

In today’s world of 144 character tweets and two or three sentence Facebook posts, 51 verses took me by surprise. I wonder how long it took him to write the song? I’m guessing it was longer than it will take me to write this blog post – which will probably be about 1,000 words – many of which are David’s. (David’s song, by the way, is 835 words long in this translation, 909 in NIV.)

I love to praise God! I am a worshipper at heart. (Yes, there is a difference between praise and worship, but that’s a topic for another blog.) These 51 verses of praise demonstrate practices of praise that stretch me and as I look at them, the Holy Spirit asks me several questions:

  • David’s praise is “crafted.”It has the characteristics of something that has been written and rewritten so that the meter and rhyme worked (in its original language) and so that it could be easily remembered and sang. I’m not a song writer , a poet or an artist. Yet there is value in taking time to think through the reasons we have to praise God and to shape those reasons into something that pleases God. In today’s world it might be a song, a poem, a blog, a piece of art, a scrapbook, a Pinterest pinboard or YouTube video.
    • And the Holy Spirit asks me “When was the last time you ‘crafted’ a praise to the Lord?”
  • It took David a bit of time to write this praise– undoubtedly at least an hour or two, perhaps many times more than that. The song praises God specifically for who He is and for what He’s done.
    • And the Holy Spirit asks me “When was the last time you spent an hour or two praising God in your own words?”
  • David “worked” at developing this praise.That may seem like a contradiction. We tend to have the perspective that praise should come naturally and when it doesn’t it feels like we are being hypocritical. Ignore your feelings. They are wrong. We are commanded to praise God. That means we’re to do it whether we feel like it or not. We’re to offer a “sacrifice of praise,” which is a phrase that is used repeatedly throughout the Bible. That means we’re to do it whether we feel like it or not.
    • And the Holy Spirit asks me “When was the last time you worked at praising God?”
  • David’s praise gave Him confidence in God.As you read through the 51 verses, you see David’s confidence in God grow as He praises God for His faithfulness and for His sovereign power.
    • And the Holy Spirit asks me “Are you learning to praise God when your confidence needs to be boosted?”

29 “O LORD, you are my lamp.
The LORD lights up my darkness.
30 In your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.
31 God’s way is perfect.
All the LORD’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
32 For who is God except the LORD?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
33 God is my strong fortress,
and he makes my way perfect.
34 He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights.”
2 Samuel 22:29-34

David’s praise was the result of a lifetime of triumphs and struggles. But a lifetime of triumphs and struggles don’t always result in a life characterized by praise. It is by praising – by practicing praise during those triumphs and struggles that our life become characterized by it. I want my life to be characterized by praise. That means developing the pattern of spending time with God crafting my praise, working at it even when I don’t feel like it, and praising Him when it looks like I’m about to go under.

Lord, help me praise with David:

 “The LORD lives! Praise to my Rock!
May God, the Rock of my salvation, be exalted!”
2 Samuel 22:47

Friends, let get our praise on!

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I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

I love it when science declares the glory of God. This video bears witness to the fact that we are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” by a Designer who knows no bounds.

This video it pretty amazing. It was created by Alexander Tsiaras, a former Associate Professor of Medicine and Chief of Scientific Visualization at Yale University. In addition to the video itself being amazing, I am quite surprised that it was presented at an INK Conference.

Just a bit of info about INK: INK (which stands for Innovation and Knowledge) is an organizational offshoot of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design). TED’s website describes the organization as “a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.” They sponsor semiannual conferences bringing the best and brightest in a variety of fields to speak in short segments (as in eighteen minutes short). Neither TED nor INK are Christian based. Yet in 1998 they invited Billy Graham to speak. You can watch the video of Billy’s speech here. He was given 26 minutes as the closing speaker and his message differs from any other I’ve heard him give…yet it is also the same, because he did a wonderful and totally culturally appropriate job of presenting the Gospel to the “best and brightest” assembled at the conference. Worth listening to.

In 2010, Mr. Tsiaras spoke at the INK conference and presented this video. The focus of the video is the visualization of life from conception to birth (and beyond) – well worth the trip! His discussions before and after the video are just as compelling. “It was hard not to attribute divinity to it,” Tsiaras says. “The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go — the complexity of these mathematical models – of how these things are indeed done – is beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician…I look at this with marvel…it’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.”

To God be the glory, great things He hath done! (from the hymn by Fanny Crosby)

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Be Still and Know that I am God
Psalm 46:10a (NLT)

A personal retreat provides a great opportunity to refocus, re-center, and refresh our life. TheChristianMediator.com says it this way:

When we’re being pulled in so many directions, we may become fragmented, losing our clear focus and purpose.  We begin to play catch up, trying to put out fuses, or just keep our heads above water.  We become reactive instead of proactive.  The principles of God, that we have built our life upon, become a little shaky and we begin to rely on our own human understanding instead of divine wisdom.  Striving replaces resting in Christ and often times, over exhaustion of our minds and physical bodies set in.  In other words, we become a hot mess mentally, physically, and spiritually.
from http://www.thechristianmeditator.com/christianprayerretreat.html

I love the author’s description. Phil put it this way after taking a personal weekend retreat at a local convent.

It was like someone washed the slate of my heart, soul and mind clean. It seemed like every day it gets written on and prayer and our time with God takes an eraser and rubs away the dirt, but that dirty, chalky residue is still there. During the retreat, it was all washed clean.

It’s interesting that after only a weekend of personal retreat Phil reported finding the traffic on the drive home jarring and the television intrusive.

Such experiences are wonderful for the soul…but it can be difficult (impossible?) to build several days alone with God into our schedules. That doesn’t mean we have to go without a personal retreat. While at least a full day is best, you can retreat with God in just a few hours. I experience a mini-retreat with God most Saturday mornings. I have the luxury of not having children who need care and I specifically set aside Saturday mornings to be with God. I guard that time carefully. It’s in my calendar and I don’t schedule something else in its place without recognizing that I am making a choice.

You cannot appreciate the true value of a retreat alone with God until you’ve experienced one. Let me encourage you to give it a try, though. You will walk away from the retreat with an uncharacteristic peace and calm about you. It’s a bit like a relaxing vacation on steroids because not only will you be relaxed, you’ll have met with God. Can there be anything more worthwhile? Can there be anything more exciting? Can there be anything more rewarding? Obviously, the answer to those rhetorical questions is “no.”

Here are some tips for making the most of your time away with God.

  • Approach your time apart with the Lord with the right perspective – have a right purpose. While the benefits of spending time away with God are many, they shouldn’t be the purpose of your retreat. The purpose of your retreat ought to be spending time away with God. Don’t go into the retreat with a list of things you expect Him to do for you. Approach it as you would approach dinner with a friend – that is, looking forward to spending time together, sharing the details of your lives and enjoying one another’s company. This is relationship building time.
  • Have a plan. This may seem counter-intuitive to the first point, but it’s really not. Having a plan simply directs your activity (or non-activity) during the retreat. If you’re not accustomed to taking time away with God, you may be uncomfortable with the time. Your plan will ease you into the retreat. You don’t have to stick to the plan if the Lord leads otherwise, but having a plan ensures you don’t spend your time staring at the walls or playing Solitaire. Having a planned start time will keep you from putting it off or getting caught up in other things. Your personal retreat with God is a very special date – who wants to be late for a date with their special someone?
  • Don’t over-plan. You want to include plenty of time to hear from God, so don’t over-plan with things that keep you busy. God doesn’t rush through thing. He does expand time to allow us to do more than it seems we should be able to do (and I don’t know how He does that, but it sure is cool!). But he doesn’t rush time. And spending time with Him shouldn’t rush from one activity to the next.
  • Include as many of the following things in your plan as time allows. If you have a whole day or more, you can enjoy al these activities with God. If you have only a few hours, limit your activities to just a few.
    • Worshipping through music. Have some idea of songs you might listen to and/or worship with.
    • Reading Scripture. I recommend reading it aloud at least part of the time. Hearing God’s Word can have a very different impact on us than simply reading it.
    • Prayer. Remember to include time to listen to God, not just talk to Him. Let Him speak to you.
    • Journaling in some way. Most people write or type their journal, but if you are an artist journal in pictures. If you enjoy scrapbooking, build time into your plan to journal the retreat in a scrapbook.
    • Enjoying His creation. This can be as simple as enjoying flowers in a vase to taking a nature hike to watching the snow fall or the puffy white clouds float by. Do something to connect to the awesome creative side of God’s nature.
    • Studying Scripture. There’s a difference between reading Scripture and studying it. Take some time to study a small passage in depth.
    • Closing time. A good retreat is hard to walk away from. Include time at the end of your plan to enjoy God and thank Him for meeting with you.
  • Be flexible. Don’t move from one activity to another simply because your plan says it’s time to do so. Move from one activity to the next when you feel a release from God or a “finished-ness” about the current activity. This is a no-pressure event. Accomplishing your plan isn’t your goal. Meeting with God is your goal.
  • Don’t let food be a distraction. Many recommend that you fast during a retreat. That can be very good. It can also be just fine to eat lightly during the retreat. There are times when I find fasting to be a distraction from meeting with God. There are other times when fixing food and eating is a distraction from God. Follow the Lord’s leading and don’t feel guilty about your choices.

Of course the most important tip I can give you is to just do it!

Retreats are a time when we stop everything and pay attention to God. Give it a try. He’s worth it.

Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.
1 Samuel 3:9 (NLT)

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I have been captured by the song Word of God Speak by MercyMe this week. You can read about it in yesterday’s blog. You can purchase the CD here.

In yesterday’s blog, I included a YouTube video that intermingles images and Scriptures while the song plays in the background. The video includes great verses about God’s Word, but as the video was ending,  I realized that the song brought a different verse to my mind:

Where there is no vision (revelation, prophetic vision, divine guidance), the people perish (cast off restraint, run wild), but happy are those who keep the law (whoever obeys the law is joyful).
Proverbs 29:18

The Word of God brings vision, revelation and divine guidance. Even when He is speaking discipline, that discipline comes wrapped in a package that includes vision for a better future – that we can be more than we are currently pursuing. It holds the hope of what can come next and the promise that God will help us get there.

By the way, that’s the difference between condemnation from the enemy and conviction from the Holy Spirit. When the enemy speaks it is in condemnation and it doesn’t come packaged with the vision for a better future. It doesn’t come wrapped in hope and a promise for help. It comes wrapped only in accusation, the sense of defeat and assurance of destruction. And in the face of such a future, we cast off restraint and step into that future of defeat.

When God speaks, good things happen:

1. Hope arises in our heart as we glimpse God’s vision. When He speaks, we begin to understand things from God’s perspective.

“He cares enough to speak to me, even though I have failed Him.”

“He has a vision for my future even when my sight is blurred or failing.”

“With Him, I can become the man/woman He wants me to be.”

“He has a part for me to play – a role in His eternal plan.”

2. Faith is ignited in our spirit when His Word speaks to us.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17 (NIV)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

3. Faith brings an increased measure of grace into our lives enabling us to hold onto and step into God’s vision. Our God is a God of the future. Yes, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, but He forgives the past and enables the future. When He speaks, His message offers us an opportunity to enter into that future – that vision He has given.

Word of God speak. To me. To my readers. To Your people. We need to hear Your voice. We need Your prophetic vision. We need it to instill us with hope, increase our faith and activate grace in our lives.

We need these things because without them – without hope, without faith and without God’s grace, we see and hear only what the enemy is doing around us and whispering in our ears (“failure”, “defeat”, “no way out”) and sensing defeat we cast off restraint. We run wild because we don’t see God’s vision and our part in it. And we run into our own destruction.

Word of God Speak.

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The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)

Tuesday morning was a little unusual. During the week I do my morning devotions at my desk in my home office. Tuesday I was reading more than usual, but not really directed reading as I normally would. I was a bit spacey, bouncing from one thing to another. At one point, I felt like I wasn’t really “done” but didn’t know what else I was to be doing. Duh – you think maybe pray a bit more…but I didn’t – like I said, I was spacey. Instead I opened my internet browser with the thought of checking email and beginning my workday. Pandora began playing “Word of God Speak” by MercyMe and the song just laid me out. From the first phrase of the song I was arrested and focused on the Lord.

It’s been a strange week in general with me being in the office alone most of the time. Chalk it up to the end of summer when everyone has so many other things going and work being slower than usual. (It’s a wonderful thing when these two events coincide.) Thursday afternoon I was diligently working away when I realized that the office was unusually quiet. Yes, I was the only one there, but sometimes the quiet seems quieter and this was one of those times. So again opened Pandora. Almost immediately, “Word of God Speak” was played. Again, I was stopped in my tracks.

This morning I woke up singing the song.

Do you think God is trying to tell me something? I hope so. I don’t know what yet, despite pausing each time He got my attention. That’s OK. Sometimes (often times?) it takes more than a pause to hear the Lord. I’ve set aside a good chunk of the day on Saturday to hear the Lord speak. I pray His schedule will be on my schedule. 🙂 But even if it isn’t, He’s got my attention and I’m listening.

Perhaps He wants your attention, too. Tune your ears to hear the Word of the Lord.

So this morning I went looking for the song on YouTube. I found this and I love the intermingling of Scripture with images while the song provides the background. There are some great verses about God’s Word in this video. Watch and listen. Or perhaps listen, then watch and listen.

As I watched, however, A verse that is not included here came to mind. It’s not included because it’s not really a verse about the Word of God. But it is…Read tomorrow’s blog for more on that special verse. In the meantime, spend just a few minutes with God…Watch and listen. Or perhaps listen, then watch and listen.

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A special thanks to my husband, Phil, who loves to travel – both virtually and in the real world. He sent me this link from his virtual travels. God has created a beautiful world for us to enjoy. Can you imagine how beautiful heaven must be? And what does such variety and beauty say about our Lord? Truly unimaginable, but worth my meditation.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
Colossians 3:1 (NLT)

While it’s hard to pick a favorite from the images on this site, here’s one of mine. Which is your favorite?

Marble Caves, Chile Chico, Chile

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Top Ten Most Influential Christians Since the Apostles

Dan from Texas won a copy of the book Top Ten Most Influential Christians Since the Apostles.

Thirteen different authors came together to write about men who have shaped Christianity since the time of Christ. While coming form a wide range of theological backgrounds, vocations and life experiences, these authors agree on the core of the Gospel message. John 3:16 says it well:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NKJV)

In the words of one reviewer, Pastor Fred DeRuvo, Th.D., the book rolls back the curtain so that the average individual has one more opportunity to see for themselves the names of those who have changed the course of church history for better or for worse.”

Hey, Dan! Let us know what your favorite part of the book was!

You can download an excerpt of the chapter I wrote here.

Click here to purchase the book. Enter “Top Ten” in the search box in the upper right corner of the screen and the book will appear below the search box. Click on the book and then add it to your cart.

If you want to purchase more than 10 copies, email Sandy@ApprehendingGrace.com for discount pricing.

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Firm Foundation Brick wallby guest blogger Pastor Dan Caudill

Yesterday’s blog looked at some of the things we might be tempted to build our lives on…things that we soon find don’t stand up to the storms of life.

Now let’s look at some pillars we can use to build a firm foundation. Let’s travel in the Scriptures to Ephesians chapter 6 and what is commonly called “the armor of God”. Verses 10-13 say this:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV)

Let’s look more closely at our armor:

Belt of Truth
It’s been said if you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said. Since “the devil is the father of lies” and “there is no truth in him” (John 8:44), if our lives are filled with anything less than the truth, essentially they are built on him (the devil). However, if we are bound by God’s truth, John’s gospel says that will set us free (vs. 32). I don’t know about you, but when I don’t physically wear a belt with my jeans, they tend to want to fall down. I would say the same about our lives and the “belt of God’s truth”. It truly will help to hold us together!

Breastplate of Righteousness
If we were to imagine a real suit of armor we would see that, along with other body parts, the breastplate covers the heart. Proverbs instructs us: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (4:23). A life of righteousness, or “rightness,” according to God and his will, protects our heart from the ravages and disappointments of sin. Just as weeds choke out the good plants in the garden, sinfulness chokes the life out of the goodness God wants us to have in our hearts. As David prayed may we too “hide his Word in our hearts, so that we would not sin against him” (Psalm 119:11).

Shield of Faith
Our cars are equipped with windshields, an umbrella shields us from the rain, and our deodorant shields us (and others) from odor. In other words, a shield is a protector. Scripture affirms that with a shield of faith, we can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. When we live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), we disarm two of Satan’s greatest weapons; doubt and discouragement. In Genesis, God saw Abraham’s faith (belief) “and credited it to him as righteousness” (15:6). He will do the same for us.

Helmet of Salvation
The helmet, obviously, is a covering for the head. Far too often, we allow Satan to trick our minds into questioning or doubting our salvation, resulting in the loss of the joy that should be present in all those who are the redeemed of the Lord. The Scripture says that if we “believe in the Lord Jesus” (Acts 16:31), “believe and are baptized” (Mark 16:16), “confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead” (Romans 10:9), we will be saved. If we truly know and believe we are saved, it will change how we live.

Sword of the Spirit (Word of God)
Satan has no defense against the power of God’s Word. When Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted, every time Satan opened his mouth with a temptation, Jesus quoted Scripture. He didn’t yell or threaten or call down fire from heaven. He simply said, “It is written” and quoted God’s truth from the Scripture. If it worked for Jesus, it will work for us. Satan doesn’t have to obey us no matter how loud or sincere or threatening we try to be. But he does have to obey God.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7, NIV

Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

God provides all we need to develop a strong, firm foundation – one that doesn’t crack, crumble or fall. But unless we cling to those pillars, unless we build upon them, there is nothing that can make our foundation firm.

Yesterday’s questions bear repeating: How is my foundation? On what or who have I built? Is my life staked upon The Rock, who is Jesus, or am I trusting in one or more false pillars?

Build your foundation on Jesus and practice putting on and using the full Armor of God every day. It will make the difference between losing and winning the battles you face.

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Cracked Foundation of Brick Wallsby guest blogger Pastor Dan Caudill

So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.’
Isaiah 28:16, NIV

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 3:11, NIV

Some time ago our church offered to the congregation a “Foundations” Bible study series, a sort of “Christianity 101,” revisiting the basics of the Christian faith. We were hoping that it would be a valuable tool for those in our body that were “young” in the faith. Our desire was to give them that firm foundation upon which they could build their walk with Christ for generations to come.

The strange thing is that many of our “seasoned veterans” of the faith looked forward to plugging in as well. I guess you could say they wanted to “check the foundation” for cracks or leaks. After all, we do that for our physical homes don’t we? You don’t have to be a contractor to know that if the foundation crumbles, the rest of the house is sure to follow. The same is true spiritually. If our foundation is weak or has gaps, chances are at some point in time, when tested by the storms of life, our faith will crumble. If our hope is in anything but Christ Jesus, then we are setting ourselves up for failure. Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:12 NIV, “I know whom I have believed, an am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” That’s the kind of faith and foundation I want. How about you?

Let’s take a quick look at five things we are easily tempted to build our foundation and faith upon other than Christ. Of course, none of these will stand up to the storms of life, so if our foundation is in one of these, it’s not a matter of if, but when, our lives will crumble around us.

Self
You’ve heard the old saying, “We have found the enemy, and it is us!” I don’t know about you, but I’ve sure found that to be true. The only thing that can really keep me from an intimate walk with God is ME! Satan can tempt all he wants, but he has no authority to make me do anything. This flesh, along with my feelings and emotions, just can’t be trusted. Besides, the best “game” I’ve got can’t hold a candle to the awesome power and wisdom of the most High God. I need Jesus’ resurrection power in my life. Truly Lord, “I Need Thee Every Hour.”

Money
I don’t know where you do your banking, but mine’s got a hole in it! My money leaks out as fast (or faster) than I can put it in. And in case you haven’t been watching the news or reading the papers in the last year or so, fortunes have been lost because of economic downturns and uncertainties. The world economy has more ups and downs than a roller coaster. At best, money is a gamble. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It can’t be trusted for the long haul. Easy come, easy go.

Religion
The Scribes and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were poster boys for what empty, powerless religion looks like. If you are like me and have tasted some of the same, you know it not only leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it certainly leaves you unfulfilled and wanting something more. Only Jesus satisfies, and a close, intimate relationship with Him will bring that deep abundant life that religion cannot deliver. Instead of just believing in something, I’d rather walk with Someone who has promised to never leave me nor forsake me.

Church Tradition
Just because we’ve “always done it that way” doesn’t automatically make it the way God would have us do it. We need to check everything we do to make sure it is founded upon Scripture and is Holy Spirit led and divinely appointed. God isn’t looking for good Methodists or Baptists or Catholics or Lutherans or any other denomination. He is looking for warriors, soldiers in the army of God, servants and followers who will seek His will, put on His armor, and rush headlong into battle against the enemy, at His command.

Popular Opinion
Sin is still sin even if everyone is doing it, and right is still right even if no one is doing it. God has never conducted an opinion poll. He, and He alone, is the Sovereign God. He gets to decide what is right and what is wrong. He doesn’t cut deals, or do favors, or just sweep things under the rug on the back porch. The Lord is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). In the end, we will give an account to Him. God will not have to submit to the vote or opinion of the masses. Opinions ARE like belly buttons, everyone has got one, but in the end, God’s is the only one that counts – and the only one that can be counted on. Lead us, O Lord, in paths of righteousness.

I guess this leaves each of us with a question that begs an answer. How is my foundation? On what or who have I built? Is my life staked upon The Rock, who is Jesus, or am I trusting in one or more of the false pillars mentioned above? Those pillars will crumble and let us down.

Hang onto the Lord, friends. He is our solid foundation. Tomorrow we’ll look more closely at pillars that build that firm foundation in Christ. For today, I proclaim the words of the hymn by Edward Mote and William B. Bradbury:

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10, NIV

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