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Build Wisely...and Well
Today, it's January 1. On New Year's Day, Pastor Jim and I go around our house, cleaning out, cleaning up, checking this and that. One year we "attacked" the attic and the yard. Another year we just re-arranged furniture, adding and subtracting. This year it's the carpets and the garage. We find ourselves assessing things and making changes. We take a good look at our environment. Then we take stock of our lives. What have we done? What are we doing? What's going out? What's coming in? What's going on!
It's not that we make resolutions. We just get busy. I suppose the great Florida weather helps. We can go outside, open the windows, breath fresh air, etc. We just get into "a mood." A new year to us means a fresh start and another building block to be added to the foundations of our lives. Okay, we've been married 33 years March.
In just a few days, Marcia Murray and I travel to Australia/New Zealand. The fourth continent will be called to repentance and resurrection. Jesus Christ will be proclaimed the Rock of our salvation. As we minister, we will ascribe greatness to our God and speak truth to God's creation.
A focal point of this mission is Ayers Rock, Uluru. In Aboriginal mythology Uluru is the Intelligent Snake from the higher spirit realms of the universe who brought forth a great rainbow. From this rainbow a huge spirit snake slithered down to earth. This was Uluru, the Great Rainbow Serpent, a symbol of fertility, symbolic of the father and mother of all forms of life.
Deep in the arid center of Australia, this huge rock monolith is a metaphor through which Aborigines interpret the universe. Simple stories with spiritual significance, the origin myths form the basis of the law governing all aspects of aborigine behavior. The creation period is remembered as an age when the consequences of ancestors' behavior established the form of the natural world. The idea is that a particular being leaves a visible imprint of his/her activities at a series of locations. These become sacred sites. Aborigines believe some of the ancestors metamorphosed into nature, as rock formations, rivers, etc., where they remain spiritually alive. Aboriginal land is sacred over all.
Australian Aborigines are believed to have migrated from somewhere in Asia maybe 30,000 years ago. With some 500-600 distinct groups, the people possess unifying links, including strong spiritual beliefs tying them to the land. Aboriginal religion is the oldest belief system on the planet, a land-based spiritual belief system that has guided, sustained, and satisfied the material and non-material needs of Aboriginal society for tens of thousands of years. Aborigines respect the earth, adapting their ways to "the commandments of the earth," which they obey. They are survivors who see visitors as transient. However tied to the earth, they have learned the importance of building construction. They are nomads, not building houses or high-rises, but an enduring life. Only now are people coming to appreciate the skills that allow them to say, "We're still here!"
Ayers Rock sits as this huge red rock out in the middle of Australia. Yet it was at a dry and rocky place called Horeb (Exodus 17), when the people of God had no water in the desert, that God said to Moses, "Strike the rock with the staff with which you struck the Nile, and water will come out." The people were refreshed. Paul wrote later that the rock in the desert that was struck and split open was Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 10.4). Jesus shows up, you see, at the dry and thirsty and near-death places in life.
Jesus Christ is our Rock, not a something, but Someone who is unshakable, immovable, alive and actively doing the will of the Father. The Rock of our salvation is also the Cornerstone, even the capstone. Consider the God of the Bible:
1. He is the Rock. His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice. A God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He. (Deuteronomy 32.4) He is not to be lightly esteemed.
2. For who is God save Jehovah? And who a Rock save our God? (2 Samuel 22.32) He is to be exalted, not dishonored, forgotten, or neglected. For not as our Rock is their rock. (And our enemies are judges!) (Deuteronomy 32.31)
3. The God of Israel, the Rock of Israel, speaks. In time of trouble He shall hide us in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide us; He shall set us high upon a rock. (Psalm 27.5) He is a refuge, a stronghold, a fortress of defense to save. (Psalm 31.2)
4. God brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. (Psalm 78.16) He is a rock of habitations to which we may continually resort to find refreshment and renewal. Sing to the LORD! Shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. (Psalm 95.1)
5. David blessed Jehovah his rock, who trains hands for war and fingers for battle. (Psalm 144.1)
6. He will be as a sanctuary. But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 8.14) Be mindful of Him. Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty.
7. He is from everlasting, the Holy One. Therefore, look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. (Isaiah 51.1) There is no God besides Him, no Rock. (Isaiah 44.8) Do not fear, nor be afraid.
Build wisely and well this year. Jesus tells us that a wise man builds his house on the rock. After contrasting two kings of righteousness and devotion, two treasures, two masters, and two ambitions, Jesus brings His Sermon on the Mount to a decision point. Enter by the narrow gate, He says, not by the wide gate where the way is easy. Many enter the wide gate, for the way of the narrow gate is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7.13, 17)
He then describes the two ways (broad and narrow), two teachers (false and true), two pleas (words and deeds) and finally, two foundations (sand and rock). False teachers make the narrow way difficult to find and still harder to tread. We obey what we believe to be true. Verbal profession and mere intellectual knowledge will not cut it. Rather, these may be a camouflage for disobedience. Neutrality to the message of Jesus Christ is impossible.
An arid orthodoxy cannot save. What we know and what we say must translate into what we do. Follow the crowd or follow the Father. Be swayed by public opinion or be ruled by God's Word. Build wisely and well, Jesus says, on the rock. Grow into a holy temple in the Lord, a habitation of God through the Spirit. Fire will test your building. So will storms and floods. When the rain descends and the floods come and the winds blow, the house built on the rock will not fall down, but the house built on sand, will.
Jesus is the foundation stone, a sure foundation. He speaks truth. He is the way, the truth and the life. Build well, for some begin but then drift and doubt, and disobey. A wise man hears and obeys Christ. (Romans 10.17, 2 Timothy 2.15, Matthew 7.21, 2 Timothy 4.7) Secure the truth by putting it into practice. Don't look for the easy way out (working in sand), but do what is necessary to have a firm foundation. (Amos 6.1)
Value yourself as a living stone being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2.5) Consider that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit, filled with the glory of the Lord. Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12.1, 2) Ascribe greatness to God. You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2.9)
You are the building material God has chosen for His spiritual house, the sanctuary, created for the honor and glory of His name. The effect of the atoning work of Jesus Christ is that believers live in reconciliation with God the Father through sanctification by the Holy Spirit and in reconciliation among the body of Christ. (Colossians 3; 1 Corinthians 6.17, Hebrews 2; Ephesians 4)
Worship God and Him only. Determine this year that you will be a house of bread, a house of prayer, a house of power, a house of praise, a house of living water, a house of God's glory.
Ask the Lord to show you Christ in His glory as He is today. Ask Him to show you what He desires you to be today. Ask Him to change your heart make it one with His desires and purposes for your life. Ask Him what is your place as a living stone, a priceless treasure in His eyes. Everyone is a builder. Every one is building some type of house. Follow the blueprints designed by Jesus. Build an enduring spiritual house on a foundation that will place your soul's destiny on the way of eternal life. (1 Corinthians 3.9-17)
The blessing of Mary Craig Ministries comes from the relationships, innovative thinking, and diversity of people who contribute to our success. These relationships energize and lead us forward to reach out and extend boundaries, to find common bonds and provide the water of life to refresh souls thirsty for the living God. It is in relationship with one another that we demonstrate the truth that we know and believe Jesus Christ.
Building with you,
In You, O LORD, I put my trust…Be my rock of refuge,
A fortress of defense to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name's sake,
Lead me and guide me. (Psalm 31.1-3)
No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid,
Which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3.11))
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