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Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken. Isaiah 28:16 NLT

 

The word picture that Isaiah paints is amazing. A foundation stone. Firm. Tested. Safe. Something you can count on to withstand the effects of time. The cornerstone was considered precious because it formed the basis for the rest of the building. The meaning of the word implies that even were the rest of the building collapse and the other three corners sink away, this one precious cornerstone would remain intact.

It’s a firm cornerstone. It’s securely placed. It won’t be affected by the winds of change or climate.

It’s a tested cornerstone. It has withstood the tests of time. It has weathered attacks from all angles. It has survived the ravages of war; the destructive effects of nature; the subtle deterioration of neglect.

It is safe. The dictionary definition of safe is simply to be free from harm or risk. What can you find in life that doesn’t involve risk? What would you give for a pill that, when taken, would protect your child from all harm?

The Apostle Paul tells us that “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.” (Ephesians 2:20 NLT)

Jesus tells us there will be storms; there will be trials; there will be rejection in this world. Then he says, don’t worry. I’ve already overcome the world. In another spot he proclaims victory for all generations of those who follow him when he tells us that the gates of hell will not prevail, rather the church will be triumphant.

We live in perilous times. It may seem to you like the church is losing ground; like evil is running rampant; that God’s word is being overwhelmed. His word will not return void. His True church will not fail because it is built on a cornerstone that is firm, tested and safe.

That stone is Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. All things that are made are made by him and for him. His glory will prevail. So, don’t be discouraged by the struggles that face you. Don’t lose heart when society seems to be destroying all we hold to. We have a safe place in which to rest in Jesus Christ our Lord.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I look around me at the state of our world. I’m troubled by the things I see, the things I hear and the things I see people do. I’m confused as to why many who claim your name seem to be going against your precepts. Help me to remember I am safe in you. Empower me to reach out in grace to those who need to know the True Way. Amen.


So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. 2 Timothy 1:8

My wife has a job in which she spends time in close contact with her clients. Often when they come to her they are in physical pain and nervous. She is a master at putting even the most difficult client at ease. So much so that people will ask for her rather than some of her colleagues. What’s her secret?

“Get them talking about themselves.”

When people can talk about something they are passionate about or knowledgeable about, they relax. Their focus turns from whatever pain they are going through to something they enjoy. One recent example was a client that she had been warned about. Others had worked with him and he was rude and obnoxious, or wouldn’t talk at all. My wife had him chatting and laughing before the end of their first session. The trick? She asked him about a tattoo on his arm.

The Apostle Paul is writing to his young protégé, Timothy. Timothy was going through some tough times in ministry and Paul was concerned that Timothy may lose heart. Those of us that work in ministry or in any other ‘service’ areas know how that can happen. We know we are right, we see the destructive path others are taking. Perhaps we’ve taken that road and found it to be painful and we urge others to avoid the trail, all to no avail.

What’s the secret to remaining true to our calling? Keep passionate about Jesus. People don’t need to hear about theology or doctrines. This generation in particular isn’t impressed with denominational dogma or the importance of following some tradition that has long ago lost its meaning or significance.

When Jesus walked on earth he spent most of his time focusing on the needs of others, not his own agenda. In fact, focusing on other people’s needs WAS his agenda. The defining characteristic of Jesus’ dealing with other people was leaving them with an increased sense of value. Value in themselves. Value in their own ability. Value in making important life changes.

Never grow weary in talking about Jesus. Never allow other people’s disposition and lack of faith keep you from expressing what Jesus has done for you. People can argue doctrine; they can’t argue what has happened to you personally.

During these perilous times when people are desperately searching for meaning and fulfillment, let your answer to them be your passion for Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. During this time of Lent there are many people who are seeking answers to questions about their own lives. They are seeking relief from pain, doubt and worry. I may not be able to answer all their questions of relieve their concern, but help me to share my passion for all you have done for me. Amen.


There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

My daughter is amazing. She’s ten, going on 30 something at times. She’s bright and philosophical and has a heart for people who are struggling with life. She’s always writing down thoughts; paragraphs which seem far deeper than her years. One of her writings included this phrase, “Next time you complain because the shower is cold remember that someone else in the world is saying “Ah, I love this shower. I haven’t had a shower in weeks. They don’t care if it’s cold or warm, they just enjoy the shower.”

It’s easy to get sucked into the mindset that we need to be comfortable, to have a life that is free of pain, free of frustration, free of worry. God’s word tells us over and over again that we shouldn’t expect that kind of existence in this world. Jesus tells us ‘The foxes have holes, the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). He says this in reference to those who want to follow him. Discipleship has no place for those who seek an easy life here on earth.

To follow Christ may mean, we break ranks with the popular notions of our times. Being a Christ-follower means we step outside the realm of political correctness while at the same time exhibiting grace.

That’s the hard news. The good news is this. While we may struggle to find a place of rest here on earth, Jesus is preparing a place for us where we will finally receive what we all really seek in this world, a place called home.

Here we grow weary with the battle. Here we endure the hardship of living in a world that seems intent on destroying all we know is pleasing to our Father. Here we are forced to make difficult choices that may tarnish our earthly reputation. Our sense of belonging can be shattered by misunderstanding and suspicion.

Jesus words still ring true. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry at the struggles of daily life. There’s a place for you. A place I’ve designed especially for you to enjoy for eternity. In this world we’ll have struggles, but He has overcome the world, and through him we can overcome as well (John 16:33).

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I strive to live for you every day. It seems as though it gets harder to make the decisions I need to make to follow you in a world intent on self-destruction. I praise you for the promise that I can overcome all that comes before me in your name. I praise you that I have a place with you; a place called home. Amen.


“The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field.” Psalm 103:15

The marketing behind roses is one of the great success stories of all time. Anyone who knows how to impress the one they love knows about roses. The smell good, bring joy to the receiver…and die quickly! However, somewhere along the line we were ‘taught’ that the very best flowers to give were roses and so, we buy roses.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing wrong with roses, and I admire a good marketing plan. However, the fact remains that there are many other flowers that smell good, last a long time and are less expensive.

Why this tirade? There are plenty of passages in the Bible that remind us of the mortality of the human race. The death rate among humans is 100% and at this point there is no indication that a cure will be found. That’s the bad news.

The good news is this; you were created to be a flower! Maybe you are a rose. Maybe you are a carnation. Perhaps you are some sort of wild flower in the fields, being tossed by summer breezes, refreshed by summer rains and chilled by early fall frost. The fact of the matter is, you are a flower.

Jesus said, look at the flowers. They don’t worry about clothing, they don’t worry where the next paycheck is coming from, they don’t worry about gas prices or if their retirement account will sustain them. They aren’t challenged by unruly flowers, nor are they concerned that their seedlings will be accepted into FSU (Flowery State University).

Flowers have one purpose in life: To bring joy to those around them by blooming! Everything else is in the Father’s hands.

So. Bloom! Bloom while you can! For those of us who know Jesus as our personal savior we know this world is not our home. The very best we can hope for here is nothing compared to the worst part about eternity with Jesus. So bloom while you can. Bring joy into the lives of others by spreading the love of Jesus in your thoughts, words and actions.

Our time is short, but our impact can be breathtaking!

PRAYER: Father God. For too long I’ve seen the negative part of your word concerning the shortness of human life. From this day forward help me to see the positive. Help me to bloom for you in Jesus name. Amen!


But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” John 12:4-5

On occasion I am a referee for basketball games. While the money isn’t bad, I mostly do it for the exercise and because I enjoy the sport and the kids. I certainly don’t do it for the esteem or the accolades I get from the fans. In fact, when I’m on ‘the other side’ and sitting watching a game I’m amazed at the ignorance and impatience fans have with the men and women in stripes. On the lighter side, there’s an old joke among sports officials. “If you leave the gym with everyone mad at you, you’ve called a good game!”

The reality is, you will never please everyone and sometimes it’s hard to please ANYONE!

What’s true for basketball officials is unfortunately true for leaders as well, especially for spiritual leaders. The number of men and women who felt ‘called to the ministry’ and have since dropped out due to spiritual abuse is staggering.

To be fair, when a spiritual leader falls or leaves the ministry battered and bruised, it’s not always the fault of their followers. Like the basketball official, they make bad calls from time to time. But all too often the attacks on leadership are based on personal differences and have nothing to do with the ‘call of God’ on someone’s life.

Truth of the matter is, when you set your mind on your own agenda you will never see God’s working. A good case in point is none other than Jesus Christ himself. If you are like me, you have often marveled at what it was like to sit at the feet of Jesus; to see him heal the sick; to watch him deal with those who were demon-possessed or struggling with some life issue.

Yet, even Jesus wasn’t immune to the attacks of people. Some of those people were those closest to him! Take for example, Judas. At some point Judas must have seen Jesus as one worth following. Why? We aren’t sure. But there was something in Jesus Christ that attracted him, and conversely, something in Judas that attracted Jesus or he wouldn’t have chosen him as one of the 12, and the groups treasurer. (Okay, some of you theologians are going to argue that it was all part of the divine plan, and I’ll give you that, but from a human perspective, there was an attraction at the outset so bear with me!)

Somewhere along the line, Judas became disgruntled with the spiritual leadership (aka: Jesus of Nazareth). From that point forward, there was nothing that even the Son of God could have done to change him. Judas’ decision was from the heart and God will always allow us to choose. Rather than trust God, Judas chose to trust his own perspective and the results were devastating.

As spiritual leaders we are called to lead as Christ led – as servants. As those under the tutelage of spiritual leaders we are called to pray for and support our leaders. When these two attitudes are followed the body of Christ will prosper.

Don’t allow yourself to be a Judas and question how God wants to work in your life and the lives of others. Once you allow disgruntlement to set in (as a leader or a ‘follower’) you will never see the power of God manifested.

PRAYER: Father God, I confess to you that sometimes I struggle with my attitude towards those who are leaders in my life. Help me to keep a clear mind and to pray for those with whom I may disagree. Amen.

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