What Makes a Trustworthy Foundation for Life? (Matthew 7:24-27)
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
Jesus begins by warning of false foundations. He set forth a simple test with a simple illustration. It is not enough to just hear His Word, but also to actually do it (James 1:22-25.) That doing begins with trusting Christ. Jesus uses another simple illustration from life: a house and its foundation.
A structure built upon bedrock will be solid and stable. Failing to build on an enduring foundation leads to destruction. A structure built without any foundation may stand for a short time, but when the inevitable storms come, the foundation of the house will collapse.
The clear and simple application is of not only hearing, but actually doing the full spectrum of God’s Word in our lives. Some people miss salvation because they have built their lives on the shifting sands of religion.
The actual doing of God’s Word is the foundation that brings strength, security and blessing. This is true in the matter of being saved in the first place and it is particularly true of the ongoing Christian life. It is the doer of the Word who is like the house on the rock. The one not doing His Word is likened to the house on the sand.
Christ Jesus is the foundation stone for every true believer, a resting place for those who build for eternity. The Words of Christ are a trustworthy foundation. Obeying God is like building a house on a strong, solid foundation that stands firm when storms come. When life is calm our foundations don't seem to matter. But when crises come our foundations are tested. Be sure your life is built on the solid foundation of knowing and trusting Jesus Christ.
The Bible never says that the rains won’t come. But if we’re built solidly on God’s Word, then we’ll survive the storm. If we’re built on worry, doubt, fear and the world’s temporal pleasures, then our lives will shift, crack and eventually crumble. Wise people hear the Word of God and do what it says. Foolish people hear the Word of God but don’t do what it says.
We shouldn’t be afraid of the storms because we believe in the God of the storms. We shouldn’t pray that God takes away our trials, because trials help mold us into His image—and they reveal the person we really are. Take some time today to examine your life. Is it built upon shifting sands, or on the strong foundation of God’s Word?
Prayer: Almighty Father, there are so many times when I turn the volume down on You and go my own way. I honestly don’t know why I do that because it never goes well. I want to be more sensitive to Your Spirit. Help me to stand on Your Word and live according to Your principles. Help me to trust You enough to obey Your Word. Forgive my unbelief and pride to think I can manage on my own. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Designed by Him to Shine for Him (Matthew 5:14-16)
Matthew 5:14-16 – “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” While Jesus walked this earth, He was the light of the world. However, in His absence, we now are. As Christ is in us and shines through us, we, in His physical absence, have become the light of the world. The world about us is dark spiritually.
What’s nine times more efficient than a light bulb and doesn’t need electricity? It’s the lightning bug. The lightning bug, or firefly, is a winged beetle which uses bioluminescence to produce light. We see this insect each summer. They are fascinating little creatures. I find it amazing that some of man’s most expensive scientific research is devoted to duplicating what often occurs naturally in Creation.
If the chemicals utilized by the lightning bug were not mixed in the right proportion, the firefly could not emit light. It therefore could not attract a mate or prey and it would die. This little beetle is not the product of evolutionary mutations over millions of years, but it is the handiwork of an intelligent Designer.
Just as every detail of the lightning bug has been intricately designed by God, so He directs every circumstance of our lives. God knows that if your experiences are not mixed in the right proportion, you cannot bring Him glory. God knows your needs. If He can make a little beetle shine for His glory, then He can make His glory shine through your life! Resolve to shine brightly for Him in even your darkest circumstances.
God has called us to be a lighthouse to a perishing world. Part of our duty as Christians is to be a prism through which the light of the Gospel can be focused upon a dark world. We are called of God to shine the light of the Gospel. Our heavenly Father is glorified by honesty, or other good works, that reflects the light of the Gospel.
Prayer: Father, I know that You desire to shine brightly through my life. Though the world is getting darker may Your Light shine even brighter through me. Help me to reflect Your love so that mankind can see Your love through me. Help me so that my works will point others to You, as Christ as our example. Amen.
The Power of the Resurrected Life (II Corinthians 4:10-11)
II Corinthians 4:10-11, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
Throughout his ministry, Paul had faced continual opposition, physical injury and even death. To that degree, he bore in his body the Lord’s death. However, it was so that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. Paul’s thought may be, notwithstanding the dangers of the ministry, that he and his associates were the messengers of the life available through Christ. It was manifest through his body as he witnessed, taught, and preached. As he had written in I Corinthians 15:31, “I die daily,” Paul faced constant threat of martyrdom. Nevertheless, he and his friends determined that the resurrected life in Christ would continually be made manifest through their presence as long as they lived. In other words, as long as he had breath, he was determined to witness of Christ.
Why is Jesus alive? Payment for sin is complete; that’s His past accomplishment (John 19:30). Someday Christ will rule the earth; that’s His future promise (Revelation 19:15). But what about today? Yes, He’s alive because He rose from the dead—but why? Yes, He’s alive because He is God—but why? Yes, He’s alive “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” (Acts 2:24)--but what purpose does His present life serve?
Over and over the New Testament tells us Jesus is actively making intercession for us. He comes before the throne of heaven as our mediator and He makes requests before the Father for our moment-by-moment needs (Hebrews 7:25). Today Christ lives to bring His victorious power to bear upon our character. Not only does He offer victory over sin and death and give forgiveness to all who believe, He also wants to live His life through us. That is what Christian living is all about--“that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (II Corinthians 4:11).
The true Christian life is Christ in you. It’s a brand of living far superior to the Christ-in-my-own-strength program, which only leads to disappointment, exhaustion and failure. Jesus is the only One who ever lived the Christian life successfully. There’s no possible way to live the Christian life in, or on, our own power. While you can seek knowledge and understanding and you can serve, worship and walk with Him, you have zero power, or personal strength, to resource true, full obedience. There’s nothing in you that can enable you to live for Him; not strength, willpower, or perseverance.
The only source of power is the exchanged life—Christ living through you. Your part is to get out of the way and let Him. When you do and people see victorious resurrected life in you, whose is it? It’s Christ’s, not yours. If people see anything worthwhile in your life, if there is anything eternal and lasting, it is the actual life of Christ flowing through you. The only true resource, the only power for lasting transformation, is Christ in you. This powerful, simple truth can absolutely change your life. Consider this a turning point, an invitation to the power of a resurrected life: Christ living in you. It begins with honesty, admitting your sin and powerlessness to live for the Lord on your own. Because of His death, once you die to yourself, “the life also of Jesus” can be manifest in you.
What in your life indicates you are living in your own strength? How is that working for you?
How might your life look if you embraced the resurrected life—Christ living in you?
Prayer, Lord, I am so weak. Every day of failed effort to live a righteous life is sore and a strong reminder of that fact. Today I turn as never before to You alone. I die to myself by faith, and today, Lord, I trust You to live Your life through me. Please help me to reflect the truth of the resurrected life—Christ in me. Thank You that You are alive to intercede for me today. In the strong name of Jesus I pray, amen.
The Manifestation of God’s Love To Us
(I John 4:9-10)
I John 4:9-10, In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
No one disputes that Jesus Christ suffered. But the idea that His suffering was necessary—that He had to suffer has often been the subject of scorn from those who have criticized and ridiculed Christianity through the centuries. It is also what sets Christianity apart.
Many, for example, show respect for the person of Christ, but see the cross of Christ as a stumbling block and regard Christ’s atonement through suffering as foolishness.
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we purposefully stand in this ridicule and embrace the cross of Christ. This perfectly illustrates I Corinthians 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
Jesus suffered to pay for the sins of mankind. I John 4:10, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It wasn’t enough for Him to die. Jesus had to pay a debt. The payment was necessary.
Jesus suffered to satisfy the demands of God’s wrath. As much as God loves you, He hates your sin with a holy, burning hatred that we cannot comprehend. The only way that He could embrace you was to get someone else—someone perfect, to pay for it. Romans 5:1, Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Jesus suffered to purchase the opportunity for our sins to be forgiven. No longer do we have to carry our sin around. We can be forgiven. God laid all of our sinfulness upon Jesus as He willingly suffered and died upon the cross. The debt was paid, opening the door to my forgiveness and yours.
Jesus suffered to provide the way to eternal life. To get a gift, you must receive it (Romans 6:23). Have you? Do you know that Jesus is the gift of eternal life? His suffering has made that gift possible.
That’s the Gospel; that’s the whole subject. Jesus paid for the sins of mankind. He suffered to buy our forgiveness. So the question remains—are you carrying around the burden of your sin and the wrong that you’ve done. Forgiveness. I tell you—it’s Good News!
Prayer: Father, You sent Your only Son to pay for the debt that I owed. Why You did that is hard to comprehend. Jesus Christ did nothing wrong, and I can’t seem to stay away from sin! But Your love is greater than my sin. What an amazing gift You have given me. Thank You for bringing me into a relationship with You through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to never forget the debt Christ paid for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Promises of God (II Peter 1:4)
II Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
The more we come to know and understand the Word of God accurately, there unfolds unto us great and precious promises. Due to this truth, this should encourage the believer to take out their spiritual shovels and begin exploring by digging deep for His riches in the Bible. The Bible is full of promises which give us insight and help in the issues of life.
God, despite who we are and how often we fail Him, still continues to promises us some things. God’s promises are inconceivable, unthinkable, unimaginable and mind-blowing. God says these recorded promises are exceeding great and precious!!!
We have all made promises before. Sometimes we have made superficial promises. This is because we are human. We even make these kinds of promises to the ones we love and don’t always keep them. However, when God promises, He delivers. Nothing can stop or delay His promises. In fact, He is going to do exactly what He said He promises to do. He is always going to follow through - on time - every time. He keeps His Word and His commitments.
Prayer, God, thank You that even when I am faithless, You are faithful. You always keep your promises, and I can depend on You. For all the times I’ve made promises to You and haven’t kept them, I’m sorry. I feel humbled by how You faithfully, gently draw me back to You. I want to become more and more a person of my word, even when it costs me. Help me to make wise, thoughtful promises and to keep those promises. Please grow me into someone on whom others can count. In Jesus’ faithful name I pray, amen.
Rejoicing in the Lord (Psalm 118:24)
Psalm 118:24, reminds us that every day is a cause for rejoicing. Today is a non-renewable resource, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Our responsibility as believers is to use this day in stewardship to the Lord will and in the service of His people. When we do this, we enrich our lives and the lives of those we love. The Lord has richly blessed us and He wants you to rejoice in His gifts. That’s why as believers, we have a duty, this day and each day that follows, we are to rejoice in the LORD.
The psalmist cried out, This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. The songs and shouts had gone up from outside the city. So this is a special day, the day the Lord has made, a day for rejoicing in him. This was the attitude of King David. He said today was “the day that the Lord hath made,” therefore we should “rejoice in it”. Similarly, the Apostle Paul commanded Christians to rejoice—and he was writing from a Roman prison. In each day there are 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, & 86,000 seconds-& every one of them is a precious gift from God. Time is something we feel we never have enough of, yet we give it away so easily. Someone once said, "Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back."
God is the Creator, the possessor of time. We are the stewards of the time that God has given us. One day, we will answer to God for what we did with the time He gave us. This can be a sobering thought because we easily waste the precious time God has given. But it can also be a motivating thought. We can have joy in knowing that God has given us today, right now, to serve Him. Each morning is cause for rejoicing, especially when we pause to reflect upon Him who made it. The glories of the day surely reflect Him who created the day. But there very well may be greater truth here. The immediate preceding context speaks of the church of Jesus Christ of which He is the cornerstone. As Christians, we have every reason to embrace each new day as a fresh opportunity to serve and live for God. There are people to be encouraged, souls to be won for the Lord, and our LORD to be praised.
All of us have regrets concerning wasted time of the past. But let's determine to give today to the Lord-to use it for His purposes and for His glory. When I stand before the Lord, I want to have wisely stewarded the time He has so graciously given me. None of us know if we will have another year, another day, another hour to serve God; so use today for the Lord.
Strength in Unity (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Ephesians 4:1-3, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Having told us what God expects of us, Paul now moves to tell us how to bring this to pass in our lives. He teaches us in these verses how to walk the worthy walk. He mentions “unity” in Ephesians 4:3, and again in Ephesians 4:13. The word means “agreement.” It simply means that we are to walk together as one in the Lord. Let me just pause here and say that unity is God’s goal for His church. If the Lord is that interested in unity is His church then we should be interested in it as well. The church has no greater testimony than when we are united in Jesus in spite of our differences. By the same rule, there is no greater slander against the cause of Christ than a church family in which the members are at odds with one another.
God put in each of us a deep inner need for fellowship. The need for relationship is deeply rooted in all of us. According to Hebrews 10:24-25, Christian fellowship is designed to challenge us to unity and fellowship. God’s plan is that we will exhort one another and encourage one another. God, in His wisdom, didn’t give us everything we needed to follow Him successfully. Instead He chose to give us one another. God fills in the gaps (the areas of need) in the church. Have you ever noticed when God adds someone to the church body, He places them in a position that fills the gap that was needed?
Let me illustrate: In some ways, men are like redwood trees. Redwoods grow for millennia—some are two thousand years old. They reach as high as 350 feet. Yet their roots generally run only 6-10 feet below the surface. How do these top-heavy monsters stand the tests of storms and high winds? The reason they are able to is they grow close together (NO GAPS), and they literally intermingle their roots. In essence, they stand strong because they stand together. In today’s world, men often have an independent “go-it-alone” mentality. Yet, like redwoods, we will find it’s easier to stand strong when we “stand together”.
Rooted in the Word of God does 4 Things.
1. Roots are unseen: First, the important thing to do is to set aside time in privacy (underground). By doing this we immerse ourselves in God’s Word and grow in Him.
2. Roots are for taking in: Quiet time alone in God’s Word to feed upon it will ensure your spiritual growth.
3. Roots are for storage: As you daily study God’s Word, you’ll find a vast, deep reservoir of Divine hope and strength forming for the rough times ahead.
4. Roots are for support: A deep-rooted Bible study will help you to stand firm against the pressures of life. The routine care for your roots through exposure to God’s Word will cultivate you into a remarkable Christian of endurance.
Prayer, Father in Heaven, I am so thankful that You desired to have a personal relationship with me. I know that it was only possible through the shed blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ. I desire to have a deeper relationship with You. I understand that the closer I walk with You the stronger my relationship with You and with others will be, Amen.
Mountain Moving Faith (Matthew 17:19-20)
Matthew 17:19-20, “Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Because we live in a demanding word, all of us have mountains to climb and mountains to move. Moving those mountains requires faith. Are you a mountain mover whose faith is evident for all to see? God needs more men and women who are willing to move mountains for His glory and for His kingdom.
The disciples were very wise in seeking the Lord concerning their confusion. The root cause was deficiency of faith. Without it we will not go very far spiritually. Though faith is the simplest exercise of the spiritual life, it is also the highest. The spirit must yield itself in perfect accessibility to God’s Spirit and become strengthened for this activity. Such faith depends entirely on the state of the spiritual life. Only when this is strong and in good health—when the Spirit of God has total influence in our lives—does faith have the power to do its mighty deeds.
What does Christ mean by "faith as a grain of mustard seed"? The mustard seed was known for its small size, the smallest of all plants, yet according to Matthew 13:32, it grew to be one of the largest bushes. Picture a mustard seed lying in a person's hand. It is real and it is small. Just imagine the potential for growth and use. So it is with faith: faith is "as a grain of mustard seed." It is real and small, yet it has enormous power for growth and use and for ministry. A mountain can represent any problem, or difficulty, in the life of faith of the believer.
Our Lord used this occasion to teach an even greater truth. The reason for the impotency of the disciples was their lack of faith. He went on to describe that if they had faith as small as a mustard seed they could do anything. It is not faith which moves mountains. Rather, it is God who moves mountains. However, God is motivated to act as we trust Him. When God gets into the picture nothing is impossible.
Prayer, Father in Heaven, I am so grateful for how You grow me in my faith. Though there are circumstances I would not have the courage to choose, they do their work in me and that grows my faith in You. Thank you for everything that teaches me to know You in a fuller, richer relationship. I ask You to mature me in faith so that, through You, nothing will be impossible. Help me to trust You regardless of my circumstance, simply trusting You for who You are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
10 Concerns in the Christians Walk with God – Part 10
10. Express Your Attitude of Gratitude
Thankfulness is the attitude that perfectly displaces our sinful tendency to complain and, in so doing, releases joy and blessing into our lives. Thankfulness is the ideal replacement for complaining.
Sometimes we think that we are thankful people, but too often we neglect to express our gratitude. II Thessalonians 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Often this is the result of failure to appreciate what we have.
Gratitude is a Vital Virtue
Here are two reasons gratitude is a vital virtue for spiritual development:
1. God requires our thanksgiving.
The most important reason we express gratitude is because God requires we offer Him our thanks. God takes our gratitude or lack thereof extremely seriously. We are always required to give God what He is due, including our thankfulness. Everyone can make the decision to give thanks and acknowledge the goodness of God
2. Gratitude keeps our focus on God (and off ourselves).
When we develop a habit of gratitude we are constantly asking two questions: “For what should I be grateful?” and “To whom do I owe thanks?” The more we express our gratitude the more our eyes are opened to the benevolence of God and His generosity in bestowing us with goodness and blessings. When we see how much we owe to God it helps to reduce our own self-centeredness.
When we ponder on all the good things we have because of God’s grace and rejoice in the Lord our hearts will erupt with gratitude. Gratitude heals our hearts. It displaces lethal complaining. It opens our eyes to the innumerable graces of God in our everyday lives. In our hurry through life, we neglect gratitude. Rather than rushing off to the next thing, spend some time thanking Jesus for specific gifts in your life. Make a gratitude list.
Prayer, Heavenly Father, please forgive my shallow, immature, faith-choking ingratitude. You shower me with Your blessings, yet how rarely I stop to truly thank You. Thank You for all that You have done for me. Please replace my complaints with thanks. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus. It’s in His name I pray, amen.
10 Concerns in the Christians Walk with God – Part 9
9. Communicate to a Person who has Invested in You and Tell Them You Love Them
The Bible gives us examples of the power of personal investment and how it inspired the recipient to the high ground of moral excellence. Making the investment to influence others can be seen in Scripture. Barnabas clearly mentored Paul; Elijah influenced Elisha; and Moses prepared Joshua. Jesus invested much in Peter. In spite of his failings, Jesus was determined to do well on His investment in His disciple. Jesus told him, “Feed my sheep.” Peter went on to lead the early church in evangelistic impact that brought thousands into Heaven. He was faithful to the end, dying a martyr’s death.
Paul poured his life into Timothy, and urged him to press on fearlessly in the face of opposition. He charged Timothy, II Timothy 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Paul visualized a faithful finish for Timothy, one that would impact future generations with the truth.
To influence someone is the power to motivate and lead a person to make a crucial choice in their life. Your life is the result of many loving investors who have sacrificed considerably for your success. Reflect on those who have invested in you encouraging you. Listen to the wise people the Lord has places in your life. Those who led you to Christ, taught your Sunday school classes, or discipled you in the faith. Remember the investment of parents, teachers, pastors, authority figures, or work supervisors who have provided for you in so many ways. What about the friends who have helped you, encouraged your faith and strengthened you in tough times? What about the family members who have sacrificed time, money and prayers on your behalf? As you run your race visualize them in the stands. They love you and want the very best for you.
Those who have invested their lives in you deserve a good return on their investment. A lot of people have sacrificed for you and have invested in you. Make them proud.
Who will you impact? We all have something to contribute: our example, testimony, investment, prayer, patience, instruction, wise counsel, giving, serving, etc. We all can and must invest in others! We can make a difference!
Prayer: LORD, help me to always honor those who have invested their lives in me as I journey on the path of life. Help me to siege every opportunity You give me to positively impact those You allow me to cross paths with. Help me to live a life that will influence others to have a desire to want to know You.
Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.