June 22 “Future”

Future

Sometimes it isn’t difficult to predict the future. The outcomes of tomorrow are often seen in the details of today.
It isn’t difficult to predict that a healthy apple tree will produce apples in season. In fact, we depend on this predictability to produce our economy. In Bible terms, “We reap what we sow.”

Trees and People
Often in the imagery of the Bible people are compared to trees. Psalm 1 says the righteous person would be like a fruitful tree planted by rivers of water. Here, Jesus explains that like a tree is known by its fruit, a person is known by the results of the life he/she chooses to live. Good things in the heart produce good things in life. At the same time, evil in the heart produces evil in life.

A Question from the Lord Jesus
We can hear the pain in the question Jesus asked of those He was teaching,

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

Perhaps He looked to the people in that crowd that day or perhaps He looked down through time to our day. Could it be that Jesus was puzzled by their behavior and by ours? Why would they—why do we?—call Him Lord and refuse to obey Him? It doesn’t make sense. We find a Savior, receive His grace, and then fail to follow through with obedience.

The Visible Future
To illustrate the predictable future, Jesus switched metaphors from people and trees to life and houses. To hear His words and obey them is like a man who builds his house on a deep foundation of solid rock. Storms come and water rises but the house is unmovable. In vivid contrast, the person who ignores the words of Jesus, even while calling Him Lord, builds a house with no foundation at all. The same storms bring this shaky structure down in short order.

Avoiding Ruin
The future is coming for each of us. The choices we make today determine what that future will be. Without Jesus each of us is headed for ruin. There is only one way to avoid that terrible future. Give your heart to Jesus and after you have done that—follow Him! Obey His Word!

The Fruitful Life
Returning to the metaphor of the tree, we see the opportunity before us to build a future that will last forever.

  • Fill your heart with good things!—The Word of God, the Will of God, the Love of God, the Plan of God, the Work of God!
  • Fill your days with good works done in His name!—deeds of mercy, acts of kindness, offerings of worship, words of witness, the Love of God!

The world needs good people. We must bear His name to the lost. We must touch them with His love. We must tell them His story. We will then have a future to enjoy.

Sometimes it isn’t difficult to predict the future. The outcomes of tomorrow are often seen in the details of today.

Scriptures:
Luke: 6:43-49

“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to call You Lord and do the things You say. I want my house to be built on the Rock Christ Jesus and be safe from all storms. I want to fill my heart with Your Word so that the fruit of my life will be good. I want to be a good person in this evil world, a blessing to all who know me. With Your blessing, today I will do the work that will ensure a fine future for me. In Your Name, Lord Jesus, Amen.

Song:
Make Me a Blessing

Words: Ira B. Wilson; Music: George S. Shuler

1. Out in the highways and byways of life,
many are weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife
making the sorrowing glad.

Refrain:
Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing,
Out of my life May Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O savior, I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

2 Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love;
Tell of His pow’r to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove
true ev’ry moment you live.

Refrain

3 Give as ’twas given to you in your need;
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed;
Unto your mission be true.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

March 27 “Building”

Building

We are all builders, trying to build something—a life, a business, a career, a ministry.
The conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount connects all these topics and instructions into one powerful promise. To hear these words and do them, is to build one’s house on a rock—on Jesus Himself, the Rock of Ages. For those who hear these words and simply file them away with all the other things they have read, the end is not so wonderful. It is tragic. The one who hears and obeys is called wise and the one who hears and does not obey is called foolish.

There will be storms.
To follow Christ and live in relationship with Him is not to live a life without storms. Storms come to everyone. Rains descend on everyone. Winds beat against and flood waters rise on everyone. The difference is in the foundation. The house built on Jesus will stand while the one built on lesser stuff will fall and will fall with terrible destruction. What is this lesser stuff?

It is the wisdom from this fallen creation. James, the Lord’s half brother, tells about two kinds of wisdom:

  1. wisdom from below: “earthly, sensual, demonic,” and
  2. wisdom from above: “pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

This is the catalog! This is the choice. What wisdom will you use to build your life? The limited, discredited, phony, and deceptive wisdom from below may have the appearance of solid rock but it is only sand. Build on it and your house will not stand the storm. The wisdom from above is tried, true, solid, proven, genuine, and always applicable. It not only has the appearance of Rock—it is Solid Rock! All hell came against it in the greatest storm of evil ever known at Calvary. The rains of wrath pounded Him. The winds of hate beat upon Him and an overwhelming flood of sins—yours and mine—covered Him to the point that even His father could not look upon Him. The storm took His physical life for three days and then He came roaring back and angels danced on the empty tomb. Hell had done its worst and the Rock still stood, mightier than ever, tested by time and eternity. He is your foundation! Storms don’t have a chance.

Now that you have heard these things—do them!
Start building on the Rock today! There is no time to waste. Storms are on the horizon. The forecast has gone out. Why build on sand when Rock is available? You can be “blessed” even when the circumstances of life turn against you. Your light can shine in the darkness lighting someone the way. You can turn enemies into friends with “coals” of kindness. You can be a tree that bears good fruit. You can spend time every day in the Secret Place with your loving Heavenly Father who already knows everything you need. If you seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, hungering and thirsting for life itself, you can be filled. When the storms come, you will stand.

Scriptures:
Matthew 7:24-29
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
1 Corinthians 3:9-17
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
James 3:13-18
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the Solid Rock! Built upon You, my life is safe from the worst of storms. Help me to carefully hear Your words and to consistently obey them. Help me, as Paul says, to build carefully on the True Foundation so that my life’s work, like my life itself, shall stand forever. Help me to carefully attend to the wisdom from above and completely avoid the “wisdom” from below. There is no reason that I should fail at living for You when I am building on the Solid Rock! Thank You, Jesus! Amen and amen.

Song:
The Solid Rock
Words: Edward Mote; Music: William B. Bradbury

1. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In ev’ry high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the ‘whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.