First Things First

Matthew 6: 33

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.

In my Bible, this statement is in red. How does that affect you? In reality, the entire Bible is Jesus speaking to us, but still, there is something impactful about knowing Jesus taught this. Of course, Jesus was talking about seeking God’s kingdom. Provision is in the Father. Jesus was saying that we shouldn’t need to think about food and clothing or any of the other necessities of life. God knows we need those things. Jesus was trying to show people that their task is to seek the Father and the Father will provide. Can you honestly believe that with your heart?

Perhaps you have trusted God for something and not received it. What did that do to your ability to trust Him? Sure, you love Him, but do you trust Him to provide for you? Do you believe He will? If we are honest with one another, we can say that many Christians, many of our contemporaries do not actually put their faith in God’s provision. We have been taught to work for a living, not believe for a living. The mere reading of that statement confounds the mind. What else would we do but work for a living? We know no other way to approach life. Further, it is hard to rely on what we cannot see and touch and what we cannot affect with our own effort, because we have learned to rely on ourselves. This verse requires a different approach, and it is challenging.

None the less, one can see how this verse could be one of the most important scriptures in the New Testament. It is the basis for learning how to live as we ought. It is fundamental. That is to say, it is this scripture which forms the foundation of our Life in Christ theology.

This verse could, and probably should, be the first verse on any list of verses. Whether we need healing, have a bill that needs paying, a relationship issue or something else, this is the place to begin. Seek first, it says. Start here. When we begin with seeking the Father, He then leads us to other verses and to resources we need for our situation.

I cannot find the words to make this verse stand out in volume and magnitude to the degree it should. The beginning of all things is to seek the Father. God wants to be our provider. He is the source of all good things. We must invite Him though. If we will seek Him first, then He will show us the way and give us what we need.

This, literally, could be a weeklong teaching but we are not going to indulge ourselves to that extent. Here are some of the questions that still need consideration. What does it mean to seek God’s righteousness? In short, it means His way of doing things, but there is a whole book chapter there, so please ponder this further. Second, how does one seek God and His kingdom? Are they the same thing? Let me give you a small tidbit on this. First, it is not the same for all people. The question underlying this one is how do you connect with God personally? It necessarily requires slowing down your physiology and your mind so you can hear Him. After that it might involve praise, prayer, Bible study, simply reading the Bible, word studies and more. Some people sing, others even dance. My way is reading my Bible and praying, but that does not mean other forms are not valid or that my way is the only way to seek God. If you don’t yet know how you best connect with Him, then that is the first question I would seek Him about. Ask Him. Just get alone and speak right out loud. “Father, what is the best method for me to seek you? What is the best way for me to find you?” Then, listen. One of the best tools for capturing what you hear is paper and pen. Simply write down what God’s response is. Then look back at it later. If He shows you scripture, make sure to write down the citation so you can go back to it.

Seek the Lord, His kingdom and His methods. Seek His ways first. This is the number one best piece of advice I can give you regardless of the situation you face. He has the answer. He has the way. He has means to an end that you cannot even fathom and that might, frankly, surprise you. This one verse is a doorway to the blessing of God. Seek Him in all things and be blessed.

Wise One

Matthew 7:24

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

Those who are wise build their lives on the rock which is the teaching of Jesus. It is his words that form the firm foundation. Those who act on Jesus’ words are building their lives on that strong foundation.  Be clear.  The firm foundation isn’t built by a confession of Jesus.  It is constructed through deliberately, routinely acting on his words.

You know this but here is part two. If you have acted on the teachings of Jesus, if you continue to build your life on the rock, then you should expect your house to stand through the rain and wind. By God’s grace, you should expect to be able to weather the storm.

God has wisdom available for His kids and He gives His wisdom freely. We don’t have to blow in the wind. We can have a strong foundation which allows us to weather storms. Don’t misread me to say that I think we should act foolishly in a hurricane, tornado or any other life-threatening event. What I mean to say plainly is that when you listen to Jesus’ teachings and act on them, when you tune your ear to the voice of the Lord and obey what He says, you can, and should, expect your house to withstand the pressures of the storm.

It’s gonna rain folks. Winds will slam against our lives, but lean on that rock and you will be alright. Expect your house to stand.

Rocks and Stones

Psalm 118: 22 – 23

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

Today’s psalm has several famous verses in it. I chose this one because of the imagery of it. Among the ideas presented by this verse is the representation of Jesus, the rejected stone, as something hard and unflappable. He is the rock upon which we stand and the stone upon which the whole building is built.

Wikipedia says of the cornerstone, “The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.” As the foundational stone, the integrity of the whole building relies upon the cornerstone. It determines the strength of the whole building.

This is a more important concept than one might, at first, realize. Three of the four gospels quote this passage. It is also quoted in Acts and Paul referenced it in his letter to the Ephesians and it shows up in Peter’s first letter. Consider this from Peter:

[ As Living Stones ] And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,” and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. 1 Peter 2: 4 – 8 (See also Romans 9: 32 – 33).

This “chief corner stone” is also the rock of offense over which some will stumble but as for us, we are living stones; stones being transformed into the church of the living God through Jesus who is the principle stone upon which the entire structure depends.

I hope you find this as fascinating as do I. Since we have headed down this path, I wish to share one other verse with you that you may think about differently in light of the foregoing. “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone,” (Psalm 91: 11 – 12). This is commonly thought of a protection verse as, indeed, all of Psalm 91 is, but consider that Jesus is the stumbling stone, the stone of offense. Could it be that one of the angels’ duties is to help us to recognize Jesus as the corner stone so that we do not stumble over him to our eternal peril? At minimum, it is an interesting question.

I hope this Psalm Monday has found you well and that this excerpt from the psalms is a blessing to you. The Word of the Day will resume in October albeit in a slightly different form. We will continue our Psalm Mondays, but the other days of the week will be more brief. They will, as always, focus upon God’s Word as it is the life and breath we all need. I will, therefore, continue to send you a Bible verse daily. My elucidation thereof, however, will be shorter. It should make it easier for you to receive a dose of the Lord everyday without unduly burdening you. There will, of course, be the occasional message that needs a bit more but in any case, the Word of the Day will take five minutes or less to read. I hope this will aid you in your hectic schedules. Of course, I am always interested in your feedback. Simply reply to this email, use the comments section or leave us a comment on the website at

Rock and Sand

Matthew 7: 25

And the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.

Have you seen the movie, The Perfect Storm? Maybe you can picture a storm as described in this verse. Picture this: flooding, gale force winds and torrential rains. Against all these, who can stand? Jesus has an answer. He said this house stood because it was built upon the rock as contrasted with the house which was built upon the sand.

This is a metaphor for life. Jesus said that our lives can be compared to these two foundations. The house built upon the rock can bear the storms of life and will not fall. Of the house built upon the sand Jesus said, “Great was its fall” (v. 27). It is tragic seeing someone’s house crumble under the pressure of a storm; much more so when their lives cannot withstand the pressures of life.

Clearly, we all want to live in the house built upon the rock. We would all readily agree that a life built upon the rock means a life built upon Jesus. So often, though, these ideas turn into platitudes. We agree at a high level but what does it mean in practice, in real, everyday life? Fortunately, Jesus answered this question.

Everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to the wise man, who built his house upon the rock,” (v. 24). There are three distinct pieces to this statement: 1) a foundation built upon the rock, 2) the acts of the wise, and 3) how we handle Jesus’ words. A wise person is the one who hears Jesus’ words. We must put ourselves in the position to hear Jesus’ words spoken into our ears and our hearts. Of course, this involves reading the Word for ourselves but I also hear Jesus saying for us to hear others speak his words. We have many opportunities in the nations where most of us reside for Bible studies and to hear as many preachers as we want on either television or the internet. The opportunities are there, we need only avail ourselves of them, and this is wisdom.

Jesus did not stop with his admonition that we hear his words though. The next directive he gave us is the divider of people. He said in order for us to have an unshakeable foundation such that we will be able to bear the storms, we must act upon his words. Wouldn’t you say this is the real meat of the parable? Think of it this way. Jesus was a carpenter so let’s pretend we all attend his seminar on building a sturdy home. He tells us all about the foundation and building upon rock instead of sand. We all diligently take notes on every word he says. Then we go home. Some people take the notes and file them away. Some people leave them right on their dining room table for weeks where they see them frequently but eventually, the notes get lost or discarded. Then there are the few. Those few actually take every piece of instructive advice Jesus gave at the seminar and apply them. They build according to all Jesus has said. These people end up with an unshakeable house and unshakeable faith while the rest of us wonder what makes them so special and why this works for them but not for us. Didn’t we all hear the same Word?

Jesus has given us the wisdom of the Kingdom but in order for it to work in our lives, we must apply it. He is not going to build the house for us, he is not going to force us to use his wisdom. He gives freely but he will not take away our choices. He has pointed out the way. He has lit the path. Let’s learn how to take his teachings and turn them into application rather than theology. This is the way of the wise.

Foundation Stone

Isaiah 41: 10 -12

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing, and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing, and non-existent.

This is one of the scriptures that everyone should highlight in their Bibles because if you don’t need it right now, you will. It is, to me, a foundation scripture. By that I mean that it is one of the scriptures that you can build your foundation upon. Don’t you feel God’s strong right hand when you read this passage? He is with you through thick and thin and He absolutely will uphold you. You are never down and out when you have God. You may feel down. You may feel trod upon. But, you will be sustained by His strength and His love. Look to Him and focus your attention on His righteousness. As the scripture says, do not anxiously look all around you. Just look at Him and trust Him to deliver you. Keep your focus on Him and let those problems melt away under His scrutiny. He is your God. He is your strength. He is your father.

Building Foundations

Psalm 112: 1 & 7

Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. He will not fear evil tidings. His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

The word “fear” in the above passage means to revere and worship. Therefore, blessed is the person who reveres and worships the Lord, who treasures the Word of God. That person need not live in fear of anything. The Word of God is alive in his (her) heart. When you have developed an intimacy with the Word of God, your trust grows to the point that fear becomes an insult. Fear just begins to recede as the Word of God grows in your heart. You really do not have to do much; it just begins to happen increasingly. You find you believe more in the Word of God than you do the evil forebodings that want to take root in your mind and heart. Then your faith increases because your heart is rooted in the Word. Knowing God’s will makes you steady as well as making your heart steadfast. You become a firm fixture who is not easily blown from place to place. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and you will not be easily shaken. The Word is the foundation upon which that trust is built.

Building the Foundation

Isaiah 40: 8

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
What is your life and your faith based upon? As I observe people and religions I find it interesting to notice what underpins people’s lives and faith systems. When we construct buildings we certainly want the under girding to be very strong indeed. Yet with our lives we do not always give the same consideration. Surely, we all want our lives to be founded on that which is strong and true. The Bible teaches us in Ephesians 6: 14 to gird ourselves with truth. John 17: 17 says “Thy word is truth.” So, putting those together would direct us to under gird ourselves with God’s word. In other words, if we build our houses, our lives, on the firm foundation of God’s word, then we are building our lives on a platform of strength and stability. This is the foundation which stands forever, the Word of God. We need something of strength and durability to stand on and that is the Word of God.

I know there are many people who criticize the Bible or question its validity but this is what I have noticed. Many who make those comments have not spent much time with it. They have read very little of it and are really just commenting on what they have heard about it from someone else. Secondly, those who actually have spent time with the Word yet who do not revere it, rarely have anything substantial to supplant its use. They seem to have nebulous philosophies to which they loosely refer. That is fine. We all have to choose our own path in life but I say build your house on the rock and you will fare well in the storm (Luke 6: 48). The Bible works. It has been working for thousands of years. Its truths are infallible and the word of our God stands forever.