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Daily Devotion

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HOW DO YOU SEE THE WORLD? PART 2
September 15, 2022
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
Yesterday, we looked at the fact that 83% of church-going Christians do not have a “biblical worldview.”

And what is a biblical worldview?

Having a biblical worldview means seeing the world through the lens of the Bible.

In reality, a biblical worldview influences how we see two worlds – the small world of our everyday lives and the vast, much larger world around us.

Here is how these two worlds play out in our lives:

Our own little world – If we have a biblical worldview, Scripture impacts us right where we live, work and play. It shapes who we are, how we behave, and how we treat others in daily life. Like the psalmist, the Word of God functions as a lantern for our feet, shedding light on our path, guiding our decision-making, and helping us discern right from wrong.

The great, BIG world – On a macro-level, having a biblical worldview means that Scripture is central to how we understand what’s happening in the world. My pastor says, “We need to make sure we read current events through the lens of Scripture instead of reading Scripture through the lens of current events.” And boy, are we living in eventful times!

How do we possibly understand everything going on from a biblical perspective?

Well, take a deep breath and pay close attention because this is important stuff.

Remember, our worldview influences everything about us.

The first step is rooting ourselves in the overarching narrative of the Bible. Pastor Jack Wellman writes, “a biblical worldview starts in Genesis 1:1 and ends with Revelation 22:21.”

You see, from Genesis to Revelation, there is one grand story in the Bible. Theologians summarize this metanarrative in 4 concepts:

1. Creation There is one glorious, eternal God that intricately created the entire universe and made us in His image.

2. Fall – Mankind chose to rebel against God and fell into sin. This led to all kinds of brokenness in the world. Not only were there devastating consequences in creation, but even worse, our sin has separated us from a holy God.

3. Redemption Through His death and resurrection, Jesus paid the price or “redeemed” us so we could be set free from the power and penalty of sin. When we place our faith in Him, we experience peace and fellowship with God.

4. Restoration – One day, in His perfect timing, Jesus will come again. He will restore this fallen world and usher in a kingdom of righteousness. Those who have faith in Christ will dwell with Him forever (Revelation 21:3).

Think of these 4 concepts as the corners of a picture frame, forming our perspective of the world. Not only do they shape our understanding of global events, but they also help us answer the BIG issues of life, such as our origin, our meaning/purpose, and our ultimate destination. C..S. Lewis eloquently explains: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”

As the sun shines in the sky, may God’s Word illuminate our worldview.

Join us tomorrow for our conclusion on How Do You See the World? Part 3, where we’ll unpack how we formulate a Biblical worldview.


Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH
 

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CALLED TO WALK IN UNITY
September 18, 2022
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:2-3
In our current day and age, politics have become especially polarizing and divisive.

Social media and constant access to the news cycle have only heightened the existing tension. Differences of opinion quickly turn into heated arguments. Unfortunately, it is easy for this same division to creep into the local church.

How can followers of Jesus stay unified in our current cultural climate?

It’s important to remember that unity starts with you. Unity in the church can only happen if individuals are seeking God above all else. If you are a follower of Jesus, then you’re called to live your life with a Christ-like spirit and character. You are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you’ve received from God (Ephesians 4:1).

Paul explains what this looks like in Ephesians 4.

  1. We are to walk in humility – Which means having a healthy self-awareness of our strengths and weaknesses. We don’t compare ourselves to others but to Christ.
  2. We are to walk in gentleness – Gentleness can be described as strength under control. We do not seek to dominate or put others down. We are gentle and kind in our conversations and disagreements.
  3. We are to walk in patience – Like siblings need to be on a long road trip, we must bear with one another in love. This means we are patient with others, even when they frustrate us or we disagree.
If you are a Jesus follower, His Spirit empowers you to live your life in a way that honors God and reflects His character. When believers come together with our hearts and minds set on God and His Kingdom, unity can happen. But it has to start in our own hearts and lives first.

Where do you need to begin your pursuit of unity today? Think about your social media presence or conversations with others. How have you engaged with your family, your roommates, or colleagues lately?

Are you humble, gentle, and patient with those who disagree with you, or do you get defensive, closed-off, and shut down? Pray that God would help you to love those with whom you disagree.


Written by Bryant Wright, Founder, RFTH
 

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September 20
Reckless Decisions
Bible in a Year:

Because you did not trust in me . . . , you will not bring this community into the land.

Numbers 20:12
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Numbers 20:1–12
As a teen, I was driving way too fast trying to follow my friend to his home after a high school basketball practice. It was raining hard, and I was having a hard time keeping up with his car. Suddenly, my wipers cleared the watery windshield only to reveal my friend’s sedan stopped in front of me! I slammed on the brakes, slid off the street, and struck a large tree. My car was destroyed. Later I awoke in the comatose ward of a local hospital. While by God’s grace I survived, my reckless ways had proved to be very costly.
Moses made a reckless decision that cost him greatly. His poor choice, however, involved a lack of water—not too much of it (as in my case). The Israelites were without water in the Desert of Zin, and “the people gathered in opposition to Moses” (Numbers 20:2). God told the frazzled leader to speak to a rock and it would “pour out its water” (v. 8). Instead, he “struck the rock twice” (v. 11). God said, “Because you did not trust in me . . . , you will not [enter the promised land]” (v. 12).
When we make reckless decisions, we pay the consequences. “Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” (Proverbs 19:2). May we prayerfully, carefully seek God’s wisdom and guidance in the choices and decisions we make today.
By: Tom Felten
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Reflect & Pray
What regrettable decisions have you made based on impulse? Why is it vital to slow down and prayerfully seek God’s wisdom before reacting?
Jesus, please help me to follow Your wise instruction as Your Spirit leads me.
For further study, read Making Decisions God’s Way.
 

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YOU MAY BE LOST AND DON’T KNOW IT
September 20, 2022
“Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living.” – Luke 15:13
Lost things—and lost people—don’t always know they’re lost.

Sheep don’t know they’re lost, but the shepherd does.

A lost coin doesn’t know it’s lost, but its owner does.

The prodigal son didn’t think he was lost. He thought he was living it up and enjoying the adventure of a lifetime, but if you had asked his father, he would have said, “My son is lost.” Where was the father when his son was lost? Some would argue that he never left home; he never went after his boy. But I believe that not a day went by that the father’s heart and mind were not with his younger son. Day after day, hour after hour, the father suffered the anguish and emptiness of being separated from his son.

Can you relate to the pain of being physically separated from a loved one? The spouse of a loved one deployed in a foreign country goes to that country in their thoughts a thousand times a day.

The parent of a sick child fights the disease just as surely as their child does – feeling every pain and setback.

The father’s heart for his lost son is a picture of the supernatural love of God for us. And here is what is amazing about our loving God: He sent His Son to rescue us – to pay the penalty for our sin on the cross and to restore us to a right relationship with the Father. Talk about incredible, relentless love!

Are you lost? Maybe you haven’t realized it before, but God does. He’s offering you this redemptive love and reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of His only Son. Please don’t let another day go by without embracing the supernatural love of God. Jesus came to save us from our own self-destruction and lostness.

Isn’t it time you let Him bring you home?


Written by Bryant Wright, Founder, RFTH
 

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September 22
People Who Need People
Bible in a Year:

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

Romans 16:16
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Romans 16:3–16
In his hall-of-fame career as a sportswriter, Dave Kindred covered hundreds of major sporting events and championships and wrote a biography of Muhammad Ali. Growing bored in retirement, he started attending girls’ basketball games at a local school. Soon he began writing stories about each game and posting them online. And when Dave’s mother and grandson died and his wife suffered a debilitating stroke, he realized the team he’d been covering provided him with a sense of community and purpose. He needed them as much as they needed him. Kindred said, “This team saved me. My life had turned dark . . . [and] they were light.”
How does a legendary journalist come to depend on a community of teenagers? The same way a legendary apostle leaned on the fellowship of those he met on his missionary journeys. Did you notice all the people Paul greeted as he closed his letter? (Romans 16:3–15). “Greet Andronicus and Junia,” he wrote, “my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me” (v. 7). “Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord” (v. 8). He mentions more than twenty-five people in all, most of whom are not mentioned in Scripture again. But Paul needed them.
Who’s in your community? The best place to begin is with your local church. Anyone there whose life has turned dark? As God leads, you can be a light that points them to Jesus. Someday they may return the favor.
By: Mike Wittmer
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Reflect & Pray
Who are the people you know you can count on? Ask God to give you that kind of friend. How can you be a friend like that?
Father, what a friend I have in Jesus! May I be that kind of friend to others.
For further study, read Who’s My Neighbor?
 

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September 23
The Story Isn’t Over
Bible in a Year:

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 6:9–13
When British drama Line of Duty concluded, record numbers watched to see how its fight against organized crime would end. But many viewers were left disappointed when the finale implied that evil would ultimately win. “I wanted the bad guys brought to justice,” one fan said. “We needed that moral ending.”
Sociologist Peter Berger once noted that we hunger for hope and justice—hope that evil will one day be overcome and that those who caused it will be made to face their crimes. A world where the bad guys win goes against how we know the world should work. Without probably realizing it, those disappointed fans were expressing humanity’s deep longing for the world to be made right again.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is realistic about evil. It exists not only between us, requiring forgiveness (Matthew 6:12), but on a grand scale, requiring deliverance (v. 13). This realism, however, is matched with hope. There’s a place where evil doesn’t exist—heaven—and that heavenly kingdom is coming to earth (v. 10). One day God’s justice will be complete, His “moral ending” will come, and evil will be banished for good (Revelation 21:4).
So when the real-life bad guys win and disappointment sets in, let’s remember this: until God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven,” there is always hope—because the story isn’t over.
By: Sheridan Voysey
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Reflect & Pray
Why do you think we hunger for hope and justice? How can praying the Lord’s Prayer help you face evil and disappointment?
Heavenly Father, may Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!
For further study, read Living Justly, Loving Mercy.
 

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FINDING CONTENTMENT
September 25, 2022
“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” – Philippians 4:11
Advertisers would have us believe that their product is the key to finding fulfillment and happiness.

Television, magazines, and social media… are all shouting the message that we simply need more stuff. They want us to believe that these “things” are truly essential to our happiness.

Well, I’ve got news for you. Seeking satisfaction in things will never bring contentment; it just leads to further dissatisfaction. We will always want the next new thing; we will never be satisfied.

So, how do we find contentment? Like so many other things, contentment is a choice – it’s a by-product.

The apostle Paul, a man who experienced more than his share of difficulty in life, said, “I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances.” What was his secret? Jesus. It was in his relationship with Jesus Christ that Paul finally found contentment no matter his circumstances. It was a by-product of his relationship with Jesus Christ, his Savior and Lord.

And the same is true for the rest of us. So, stop wrestling with the fear of missing out (FOMO) on more stuff. Through Christ, we all have the opportunity to find true contentment, no matter life’s circumstances.

Now that you know, why not embrace a life of contentment today?


Written by Bryant Wright, Founder, Right From The Heart
 

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September 27
God’s Help for Our Future
Bible in a Year:

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Psalm 90:12–17
According to psychologist Meg Jay, our minds tend to think about our future selves similarly to how we think about complete strangers. Why? It’s probably due to what’s sometimes called the “empathy gap.” It can be hard to empathize and care for people we don’t know personally—even future versions of ourselves. So in her work, Jay tries to help young people imagine their future selves and take steps to care for them. This includes working out actionable plans for who they will one day be—paving the way for them to pursue their dreams and to continue to thrive.
In Psalm 90, we’re invited to see our lives not just in the present, but as a whole—to ask God to help us “number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (v. 12). Remembering that our time on earth is limited can remind us of our desperate need to rely on God. We need His help to learn how to find satisfaction and joy—not just now, but “all our days” (v. 14). We need His help to learn to think not just of ourselves, but of future generations (v. 16). And we need His help to serve Him with the time we’ve been given—as He establishes the work of our hands and hearts (v. 17).
By: Monica La Rose
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Reflect & Pray
How might you grow in taking care of your future self? How does keeping the bigger picture of your life in view help you to better serve others?
Dear God, thank You for the gift of life. Help me to cherish it with the time I’ve been given. Thank You that when my walk with You on earth is over, I can look forward to an eternity of fellowship with You.
 

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September 28
Out of the Heart
Bible in a Year:

Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Matthew 15:19
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 15:12–20
A rescue mission nicknamed “Operation Noah’s Ark” might sound fun for animal lovers, but it was a nightmare for the Nassau Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After receiving complaints about the noise and the horrid stench coming from a certain house, workers entered the Long Island home and found (and later removed) more than four hundred animals from their neglected conditions.
We may not be holding hundreds of animals in filthy conditions, but Jesus said we might be harboring evil and sinful thoughts and actions in our hearts that need to be exposed and removed.
In teaching His disciples about what makes a person clean and unclean, Jesus said it isn’t dirty hands or “whatever enters the mouth” that defiles a person, but an evil heart (Matthew 15:17–19). The stench from our hearts will eventually leak out from our lives. Then Jesus gave examples of evil thoughts and actions that come “out of the heart” (v. 19). No amount of external religious activities and rituals can make them clean. We need God to transform our hearts.
We can practice Jesus’ inside-out ethic by giving Him access to the squalor of our hearts and letting Him remove what’s causing the stench. As Christ uncovers what’s coming from our hearts, He’ll help our words and actions be aligned with His desires, and the aroma from our lives will please Him.
By: Marvin Williams
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Reflect & Pray
Why is it important to take frequent inventory of your heart? How can you seek God’s help?
Loving God, my heart is desperately wicked. Only You can fully know it and remove the evil that’s in it.
For further study, read The Forgiveness of God.
 

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IT WAS NEVER OURS IN THE FIRST PLACE
September 28, 2022
“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity, in any and every circumstance. I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:12-13
Sorting through your yearly expenses can be a sobering experience.

Believe me, I have been there, especially when our boys were in college. First, I paid the credit card bill, and then my quarterly estimated state and federal taxes. This was followed by an exorbitant check for out-of-state college tuition, which had risen 17% that year. (At that point, I imagined a giant vacuum cleaner in the sky, sucking up all our money.) Next, I checked on our retirement account, noting it had dropped double digits – for the third year in a row.

Slowly, this sinking feeling of despair began to creep over me. I must admit that I walked around pretty discouraged for a few days.

Then the Holy Spirit began to minister to me. It was like the Lord was saying, “Didn’t you have enough to pay all your bills? Haven’t I met all of your needs? Haven’t I ALWAYS met all of your needs? What makes you think that after all these years of so-called “spiritual maturity” that I’m no longer going to meet your needs?”

Let me tell you something: that was very convicting.

And then the Lord said to my heart, “Bryant, it never was yours in the first place. Whether you’re riding high one year or down in the dumps the next, that’s My decision. It has always been My decision. It has never been yours. I’m just interested in you striving to manage, to the best of your ability, what I entrust to you. And trust Me to take care of the rest.”

God has always taken care of me. And He will always take care of you.

All we must do is trust.


Written by Bryant Wright, Founder, RFTH
 

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September 29
The Coffee-Bean Bowl
Bible in a Year:

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
John 12:1–7
I’m not a coffee drinker, but one sniff of coffee beans brings me a moment of both solace and wistfulness. When our teenage daughter Melissa was making her bedroom uniquely hers, she filled a bowl with coffee beans to permeate her room with a warm, pleasant scent.
It’s been nearly two decades since Melissa’s earthly life ended in a car accident at age seventeen, but we still have that coffee-bean bowl. It gives us a continual, aromatic remembrance of Mell’s life with us.
Scripture also uses fragrances as a reminder. Song of Songs refers to fragrances as a symbol of love between a man and a woman (see 1:3; 4:11, 16). In Hosea, God’s forgiveness of Israel is said to be “fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:6). And Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet, which caused the house of Mary and her siblings to be “filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3), pointed ahead to Jesus’ death (see v. 7).
The idea of fragrance can also help us be mindful of our testimony of faith to those around us. Paul explained it this way: “We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Just as the scent of coffee beans reminds me of Melissa, may our lives produce a scent of Jesus and His love that reminds others of their need of Him.
By: Dave Branon
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Reflect & Pray
How can you be “the fragrance of Christ” to someone today? How has your life caused others to sense the presence of the Savior?
Dear heavenly Father, help me to pass along an aroma of life that makes others know I represent You.
 

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September 30
Where to Turn
Bible in a Year:

The Lord longs to be gracious to you.

Isaiah 30:18
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Isaiah 30:12–18
Everyone in high school admired Jack’s easygoing attitude and athletic skill. He was happiest in midair above a half-pipe ramp—one hand holding his skateboard, the other stretched out for balance.
Jack decided to follow Jesus after he started attending a local church. Up to that point, he’d endured significant family struggles and had used drugs to medicate his pain. For a while after his conversion, things seemed to be going well for him. But years later he started using drugs again. Without the proper intervention and ongoing treatment, he eventually died of an overdose.
It’s easy to turn back to what’s familiar when we face difficulty. When the Israelites felt the distress of an upcoming Assyrian attack, they crawled back to the Egyptians—their former slave masters—for help (Isaiah 30:1–5). God predicted that this would be disastrous, but He continued to care for them although they made the wrong choice. Isaiah voiced God’s heart: “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion” (v. 18).
This is God’s attitude toward us, even when we choose to look elsewhere to numb our pain. He wants to help us. He doesn’t want us to hurt ourselves with habits that create bondage. Certain substances and actions tempt us with a quick sense of relief, but God wants to provide authentic healing as we walk closely with Him.
By: Jennifer Benson Schuldt
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Reflect & Pray
Why is it important to recognize God’s grace in times of failure? How can you better mirror His faithfulness in your relationship with Him?
Dear God, please set me free from sinful patterns. Help me to turn to You when I'm tempted to find relief in something else.
 

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October 1
Look at the Fruit
Bible in a Year:

By their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:16
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Today's Scripture & Insight:
Matthew 7:15–20
“Will the real [person’s name] please stand up?” That’s the familiar line at the end of the game show To Tell the Truth. A panel of four celebrities asks questions of three individuals claiming to be the same person. Of course, two are impostors, but it’s up to the panel to discern the actual person. In one episode, the celebrities tried to guess “the real Johnny Marks,” who wrote the lyrics to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The celebrities found out how difficult it was to figure out who’s who, even when asking good questions. Impostors finagled the truth, which made for entertaining television.
Discerning who’s who when it comes to “false teachers” is a far cry from television game show antics, but it can be equally as challenging and is infinitely more important. The “ferocious wolves” often come to us in “sheep’s clothing,” and Jesus warns even the wise among us to “watch out” (Matthew 7:15). The best test is not so much good questions, but good eyes. Look at their fruit, for that’s how you’ll recognize them (vv. 16–20).
Scripture gives us assistance in seeing good and bad fruit. The good looks like “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). We’ve got to pay close attention, for wolves play by deception. But as believers, who are filled with the Spirit, we serve the real Good Shepherd, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
By: John Blase
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Reflect & Pray
When have you met a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Apply the “look for the fruit” test to that experience and now what do you see?
Great Shepherd, give me eyes and ears to look and listen for good fruit.
 

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FOUNDATIONS
October 02, 2022
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27
Any builder knows the importance of laying a solid foundation.

Consider the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The secret to the stability of this towering structure lies underground. Before they ever started building upward, workers spent over a year pouring the massive foundation, the sum total of which is 60,000 cubic yards of concrete weighing in over 100,000 tons.

Unlike the architects of the Burj Khalifa, we tend not to give much thought to the foundation of our lives. A time of crisis, however, is a wake-up call. Crises have a way of revealing what we’ve truly built our lives upon.

This is what Jesus is pointing out here at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. The noted author, Madeline L’Engle, says, “it is a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet and what is sand.”

I’ve thought about these insightful words a lot lately. These unsettling days in our world are yanking the props from under us and exposing 100% sand.

Jesus longs for His followers to experience two things:

1) A life built on a solid foundation. Notice that Jesus isn’t simply saying, “build your life on the rock.” He’s emphasizing how we build our lives on the rock. It’s a subtle nuance, but it’s so important in truly understanding these verses.

We build our lives on the rock not by simply hearing Jesus’ message, nor by being familiar with His teachings, but by seeking to apply biblical wisdom in our everyday life and relationships. Numerous people listened to the Sermon on the Mount that day. The true test on whether or not they actually heard Jesus was what they did with His words now that the message was over.

The same goes for us. Do we seek to live out what we read in our devotionals? Are we genuinely attempting to put His words into action throughout the rest of our week? James, the half-brother of Jesus, sums it up nicely when He says, “do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

2) Strength in the middle of any storm. Followers of Jesus are not exempt from experiencing storms. Jesus seems to imply it’s not if the storms will come but a matter of when.

Two men. Two houses.One massive storm. One house stands strong, and one is completely swept away. What makes the difference? One man sought to follow and obey Jesus in his daily life.

It’s like exercising a muscle. Or a builder laying brick upon brick day after day.

Consistent, practical obedience helps develop rock-solid strength so we can stand strong in the crises of life. This inner fortitude is available to all genuine followers of Jesus and is infinitely greater than anything we can muster on our own. It’s the strength of Jesus Himself who enables us to prevail.

Now that’s what I call a solid foundation.
 

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2 REASONS WHY WE SHOULD BE PATIENT WITH EVERYONE
October 03, 2022
Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14
The older our children get, the more I realize how different they are. They have different interests, different personalities, and different struggles. And as a parent, it’s my job to not just discipline and instruct them but to do so in a way that fits with who they are. I need to know my kids well enough to know not just what to say but to know how to say it.

Similarly, as Paul closed his letter to the Thessalonians, he gave some specific instructions for specific groups of people. While the letter is also full of generalized points, those broadly applicable to all the people in the church, here we find him drilling a little deeper and recognizing that there are different people with different personalities that need different kinds of instruction. There are, for example, those that work hard. Those people should be acknowledged and held in high regard for their work.

Then again, there are those who are idle and disruptive. Those people should be warned about their lifestyles so that they might persevere with the church in the faith. But there are also those who are weak and disheartened. They don’t need to be warned; they need to be encouraged.

And so on.

But even here, in this rapid-fire section of individualized instructions, we find something that applies to everyone:

Patience.

The Thessalonians were not to be patient with just a few people but rather be patient with everyone. Be patient with the idle. Be patient with the disruptive. Be patient with the weak. Be patient with the disheartened. Be patient with everyone. And surely that instruction still applies to us.

There are many around us – around you – that might be difficult to be patient with. These are the frustrating people; the annoying people; the people who are difficult to be around at all. And yet we are to be patient with them, too. Why is that? Why should we still exercise patience with all?

Here are two very good reasons:

Because God is working in you.

Patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. When we grow in things like love, joy, peace, patience, and a host of others, it shows that God’s work is real and active inside us. But we should remember that we are not passive spectators to the work of God in us; rather, we are constantly doing the hard work of faith and surrendering to His influence. What does that look like practically?

Well, we trust that God is working in us to make us patient, so we exercise patience. We do so despite the fact that the people around us might be difficult, argumentative, or annoying… through faith. We believe in God’s work in us, and that faith results in exercising patience.

Because God is working in them.

Inasmuch as God is working in us, He is also working in them. Those people that are hard to be around? Those people that are annoying? God is working in them, too, and He’s not done yet. Just as He’s not done yet with His work in us. No matter what group we come from, no matter what our personalities, and no matter what our struggles, the thing we have in common if we are in Christ, is that we are on the same journey. God is working in us all and moving us all toward Christlikeness. So we should be patient with those around us out of recognition of that work. We should embrace that these people, along with us, are moving steadily, if not slowly, toward who God has made us to be in Christ.

Be patient with everyone, then. This patience is an act of faith in the work of God in us and in all other Christians around us.

Written by Michael Kelley, Guest Contributor
 
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