How’s Your Foundation?

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…

One of the first things I noticed was the diversity of the homes built right on the beach. Some were large and ostentatious while others were small and quaint – and some were either partially or totally destroyed. We had a friend in the church who built a lot of houses in that area, so I asked him why some houses seemed to withstand the storms while others didn’t. His explanation really hit home!

Some people wanted a house built quickly, so they simply built a house on the sand. They often used inferior materials and made little preparation, but they did see quick results. Others wanted a house built right. That not only takes superior materials, but a lot more time. The sand has to be cleared away, scraped down to the coral bed of rock. Holes are then drilled in the coral and pilings are attached. Finally, a cement foundation is poured, and the actual building of the house begins. The houses built on the sand could not withstand the storms of South Florida. The houses built on the coral rock could.

The same is true in our lives.

The foundation upon which a life is built will determine the strength of that life.

We are so human. We often make people the foundation upon which we build a life. Or maybe it is our career, our intelligence, our gifts and abilities, loved ones, a spouse or children. None of these things are strong enough to support the weight of life. Only God can do that. Only God can be the foundation that brings us purpose and meaning. Only God can empower us to withstand the storms of life.

I ran this idea by our son, who is a master carpenter and superintendent for a local construction company. At one point in his career, Jered bought and flipped houses for a living. I can remember his process of going to inspect several houses but choosing only one or two to buy. I had often wondered what criteria he used to choose the houses he wanted to remodel. Jered was quick to explain. “Mom, I always checked the foundation first. If it was unstable or unsound, I immediately dismissed it as an option. I knew I would basically have to start over if I wanted to sell the house. A faulty foundation will always support a faulty house.”

What is the foundation on which you are building your life? Today, make a new commitment to make a solid personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the relentless pursuit of His truth the rock on which your life stands.

Have a blessed day!

Choose to Praise God

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

I once saw a refrigerator magnet that said, “I know that God promises to never give me more than I can handle. But sometimes, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” When trials come and life seems hard, we plead with God to deliver us from the problem when many times, His plan is to deliver us in the problem. Praise does not depend upon an understanding of the circumstance or trial. Praise depends upon an understanding of and faith in God.

As humans, we will never fully understand God – this side of heaven. God is holy and without blemish. God is all powerful and omniscient. He is Creator of the universe and yet lives in me. He is the only true, living God! We may understand some of His ways and comprehend the reasoning behind some of His plans. We may even come to the place of knowing him on what we call an intimate level, but a full understanding of God is reserved for heaven. Until then, we walk by faith, not by sight. We praise him in the darkness, knowing that the light is just ahead. We trust him for things we cannot see and turn to him in the valleys. Honestly, the thought of serving and relying on a God I can understand is not a reassuring thought.

Most people who know me well would describe me as a strong person, someone who can usually handle what life holds. I thought the same thing until, in 1995, I found myself a powerless, prisoner of the darkness as I battled clinical depression. It took me two long years to climb out of that pit and not a day goes by that I am not reminded of that wonderful, horrible time.

One of the many lessons I learned from my “pit experience” was that I cannot depend upon my own strength or my fickle emotions. God often asked me to praise him when, as far as I could tell, there wasn’t a whole lot to praise him for! I didn’t feel like praising him.

I began to understand that praise is not a feeling but a choice, a step of obedience taken without the assurance of a changed circumstance or the elimination of a trial. Praise focuses on God, not the circumstance, and fixes its gaze upon God’s truth and God’s character instead of the trial at hand or just ahead. That is why we can celebrate the battle before it begins. The outcome is neither our responsibility nor our goal. Praise begins and ends with faith in the very nature, personality and integrity of God … and that never changes.

No matter what lies ahead, God is faithful. No matter how hot the fiery trial may be, God will deliver us. No matter what man says or does, God loves and accepts us. So praise God! Thank Him today for every victory tomorrow holds! Celebrate – knowing that the battle belongs to God and because of that single truth, victory is certain.

Have a blessed day!

I Want a Love That Satisfies

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. ~ Psalm 90:14, NIV

I’m needy when it comes to love. Remember that game Hungry Hungry Hippos? Well, I’m pretty much Hungry Hungry Gwenno. (Don’t remember that game? Google it and then buy it for your child, four-year-old nephew, neighbor or grandkid. You’ll thank me.)

It seems our old friend Moses was a bit of a hungry hippo too.

In Psalm 90 he asked God to fill him and God’s people full of love: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (v. 14). Love this! Note that Moses connected the love of God with a satisfaction that put a song in his heart and a skip in his step.

Yes. I want this too. So my prayer each morning becomes, Satisfy me with Your love today, Lord. Fill me with Your joy and gladness, and lead my actions to sing of You.

As I pray this, God’s companionship meets my loneliness.

His grace overwhelms my grump.

His joy trumps my anger.

His provision satisfies my need.

David recognized that he needed God’s all-satisfying love too. He celebrated it … was desperate for it … was responsive to it. Look at what he penned in the familiar words of Psalm 63:

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (vv. 1–5)

I see my own heart reflected in David’s words and realize that when I’m hankering for a hunk of love, my longings are best met in the arms of my Lord. His is the love of power and glory. His love is “better than life.” And, like David, I choose to respond to His love with worship. My lips will glorify Him. I will lift up my hands. I will praise the all-worthy One. In doing so, my soul is secure. Satisfied.

Ultimately, I experience the satisfaction of God’s love through Jesus.

God’s perfect love compelled Him to sacrifice His Son to bridge the chasm of death between His holiness and my humanness. His is the love that holds, the love that heals, the love that refines, the love that calls my waywardness back to purity with kindness, the love that is always with me, that rejoices over me with singing and takes “great delight” in me (Zeph. 3:17).

This sacred, scarlet love of Jesus is the Living Water that quenches the desperate longings of my thirsty soul. If I want all the love God has for me, my feeble hands must reach for the ones that were pierced for my transgressions.

Every day.

When the sun shines.

When the storm screams.

I find God’s love when I reach out to Jesus.

His is the only love that satisfies.

Have a blessed day!

Who Really Signs Your Check?

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

She works with eager hands (Proverbs 31:13, NIV).

I have had many jobs over the years. I started babysitting when I was twelve years old. In high school, I worked in a clothing store, as an aid for my choral director, and as a recruiter for an employment agency. In college, I was a secretary for the president of our social science honors program and often gave tours to visiting dignitaries. Some jobs I liked more than others but working in an insurance office when my husband attended seminary was one of my least favorite jobs. I soon discovered that I was not alone in my lack of enthusiasm as I read the following note posted on the office bulletin board:

“If you don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, you ought to be here five minutes before quitting time!”

Our attitude about our work will determine the success of our work. Scripture tells us that the Proverbs 31 woman literally “pounced upon” her work with “chosen delight.” Notice the word “chosen.” No job is perfect, and no workplace is always wonderful, but we can learn to choose our inner attitude about our work regardless of the outer circumstances of our workplace. Like this woman, we can learn to train our heart and choose our attitude about our work.

The author of Ecclesiastes writes, “My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor” (Ecclesiastes 2:10). In other words, joy in work can be found when we look for it. The Proverbs 31 woman chose an attitude that guaranteed success in her work. The right attitude in any workplace is to view our work as an act of worship to God. This woman’s workplace was an altar upon which she laid her best efforts as an offering of praise.

The story is told of three men who were working on a large building project. “What are you doing?” one of the men was asked. “I am mixing mortar,” he responded. The second man said, “I am helping put up this great stone wall.” When the third man was asked, he replied, “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God.” We need to understand that what gives work eternal value and makes it successful is not the product or service we offer; it is doing the job faithfully to the glory of God. It doesn’t matter if you close a million-dollar deal or do a million loads of laundry. If you do it unto God as part of your life worship of Him, you are a success.

The apostle Paul was a very successful man whose work ethic is made clear in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Every customer you serve or every child you hug, every toilet you clean or every deal you close can be an act of worship when it is done for the glory of God.

A survey by the Families and Work Institute found that 70 percent of people in the United States often dream about doing something different for a living. Books, consultants, and employment agencies offer to help us land our dream job. However, is finding a different occupation always the solution to job satisfaction, or could the key to successful work be discovering a new approach to the work we already do? Twice in Colossians 3, Paul used the phrase “whatever you do” as a call for wholehearted service to the Lord.

A wholehearted effort is difficult when working for a critical, ungrateful boss. Minimum effort then becomes a response that certainly seems justified under the circumstances. However, when our work is done for Christ and we view Him as our supervisor, we will strive to do our best all of the time. The boss may sign the paycheck, but the Savior issues our reward. Obviously, it’s not wrong to seek work that fits our skills and interests, but it is pointless to move from one job to another without first settling the issue of who it is that we truly are serving in the workplace. Daily work takes on eternal significance when it is done for God.

Have a blessed day!

The Secret of Being Content

Thank you Michele Cushatt for today’s message.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12, NIV).

“It’s too hot!” he complained over the kitchen counter, complete with rolled eyes and his best pre-adolescent attempt to pretend he might pass out from the heat.

Nice acting job, buddy. I restrained rolling my own eyes.

Moments, before I’d told my twelve-year-old to go outside and play with friends. He needed to get some fresh air and sunshine. Otherwise we both might have a meltdown.

Granted, it was close to 90 degrees outside. Warm, no doubt about it. But not scorching or dangerous. And our neighborhood boasted plenty of large trees and front porches providing shade. It was a normal summer day, but already the break from school had lost its luster.

“It’s beautiful outside!” I told him. “Besides, remember a couple weeks ago?”

I went on to remind him of those early June days when the temperature had remained unseasonably cool and the summer shorts stayed in the drawer.

“You didn’t want to play outside then because it was ‘too cold.’” I grinned, hoping he’d see the irony. Instead …

“70 degrees!” he countered. “Every day needs to be 70 degrees. That would be perfect.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. He had a point. Seventy-degree sunny days are just about as perfect as they come. But expecting every day to deliver perfect weather is not only unreasonable but impossible. The planet needs a combination of rain and sun, night and day, to thrive.

Sometimes I’m not all that different from my son. Although I don’t wake up expecting perfect weather, I do expect my life to go according to plan, to follow a predictable routine and meet my every need. In a sense, I want a string of seventy-degree days. I don’t want too many crises, too much discomfort, too many challenges. And if life doesn’t deliver my definition of perfect weather, I can easily grow frustrated and lose my peace and contentment.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul claimed he’d learned the “secret of being content in any and every situation” (4:12). That means on the hot days and cold days alike. His secret?

Finding an outside source to regulate his temperature.

Like a furnace and air conditioning unit regulates the temperature inside the house regardless of the weather, we need an outside source to help us stay centered even when life grows uncomfortable. We need someone who can counteract our crises with his unwavering presence and soothe our anxiety with his unending peace.

Jesus. The one who comforts day after day with his nearness.

To pine away our days waiting for perfection will only leave us complaining in the kitchen about everything that’s wrong. In the process, will miss what’s waiting for us outside, the fresh air and sunshine and adventure of a life in Christ. No, we can’t control the weather. But we know One who can. And He makes the difference from being a woman who melts down in the heat of life and a woman who knows how to shine in spite of it.

Have a blessed day!