Rock Solid?

So, just before we flip the calendar into September, let me ask you, “How’s it going?”  Not at all like you planned, I’d guess. 2020 is the year of surprise and change, much of it not by choice, forced on us by pandemic and government policy.  If you’re an investor, your portfolio looks much different today than it did on January 31. Educators are scrambling to create new learning models, 2 day school weeks and meaningful online content. My primary interest today is in the state of your heart!  Growing numbers of people, including teenagers and young adults, are reporting anxiety on a scale not known before in our generation. The uncertainty that swirls around us from pandemic and political upheaval, along with more isolation, has brought more drug and alcohol abuse, along with alarming rates of suicide, especially among the young.

Christian, God invites us to faith and wants us to be people of hope who are rock solid in this world.

This Monday morning, I want to point us away from the shifting sands of human plans to the level foundation of God’s love!  Jesus told a simple story that is profoundly meaningful. “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” (Matthew 7:24-27, The Message)

In order to live in the peace of God, we cannot just read a daily snippet of Scripture to find a little word of inspiration. We must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to rebuild us from the ground up with the love of Christ Jesus at the core of our existence. We cannot hang onto our love of things, our attachment to pleasure, our intense devotion to our own pursuit of happiness and, at the same time, find the peace of God.  We must choose.  Remember the challenge that Joshua put to the people of the Lord just as they were getting ready to enter the land of Promise? “Choose today whom you will serve. … But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15, NLT)

Who are you serving, really? Don’t just listen to your words, look at your life. Where do you expend your greatest effort?  Jesus tells us that ‘no one can serve two masters.’  If your home were taken away, if your job ceased to exist, if you were reduced to poverty, if your health failed – would you still love and trust Jesus? Unless He is the Lord of our life today, we are fooling ourselves if we think that He would suddenly become our Great Savior in the crisis.

Isaiah, moved by God’s Spirit, points the way to peace. “The Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says, “Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you! One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a distant mountaintop.” But the Lord still waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for him to help them.” (Isaiah 30:15-18, NLT)

Will we return to Him, quiet before Him, or will we chase a hundred other saviors? The people who first heard those words were facing the probability of annihilation by the armies of Assyria. Many were insisting that the had to ‘do something.’ They were trying to make an alliance with Egypt, their neighbor the south. God tells them that they can go that route but the result won’t be their salvation. He, alone, is their Hope. God asks them to wait on Him. It is so hard to do when life is falling apart, isn’t it?  Attempting to control outcomes in life without giving God the reins will bring on folly. If we think we are the master of our fate we are deluded. In growing desperation, we become ‘like a lonely flagpole on a mountain.’  What a picture of isolation.

This Monday morning we can pray, humble, honest, heart-felt prayers of dependence. Paul’s words are familiar, but rich in meaning. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)  Present your requests to God. Find a place alone, where you can get real. While you pray, you may become aware that you are asking for things lesser than God desires for you and the focus of your prayer will shift higher.

When the wisdom of the Spirit finds us and grows in us, we will begin to understand these words from Proverbs, where ‘wisdom’ is personified as a woman to be pursued.  “Happy are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home! For whoever finds me finds life and wins approval from the Lord.” (Proverbs 8:34-35, NLT)

Here is a word from the Word. The passage is full of promise and also challenges the very core assumptions of a modern, materialistic worldview. Meditate on Jesus’ word and may they become soul food, true nourishment, a source of peace for our time. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. . . .  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  . . .  And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world (those who do not know God) runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:22-31, NIV)

Our Great Savior

Jesus! What a friend for sinners!
Jesus lover of my soul!\
Friends may fail me, foes assail me;
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah what a Savior.
Hallelujah what a Friend.
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! What a strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him;
Tempted tried and sometimes failing,
He, my strength my victory wins.

Jesus! What a help in sorrow!
While the billows o’er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort helps my soul.

Hallelujah what a Savior.
Hallelujah what a Friend.
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Our Great Savior- J. Wilbur Chapman © Public Domain

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