Building on the Foundation of Christ – 1 Corinthians 3:11-13

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. – 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 NIV

In Matthew 7:24-27, at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells a parable of two builders. The wise builder builds his house on a rock, and the storms of life are unable to shake it. But the foolish builder built his house on sand and when the storms came, the house collapsed. What is it that made the builders wise or foolish? It was how they responded to Jesus words. The wise man practiced what he was taught. The foolish man did not.

Paul seems to have that parable in mind in this passage, although he is focusing on the house build on the rock. That rock is Christ, the only foundation worth building our house, or life, on. Paul’s bigger concern here is what we use to build the house with. Do I use gold, silver and costly stones? Or do I use wood, hay and straw? The quality of the building materials will be tested with fire when the house is complete. Will what I have built on the foundation of Christ survive, or will it be consumed? Will I be rewarded for building well, or will I barely escape from the flames?

As a believer, how I live this life has important consequences for eternity. Am I investing in the kingdom of God, living my life to honor God and advance the kingdom? Or am I living for self and today? Don’t be a builder who will stand ashamed of his workmanship at the end; entering heaven singed by the flames. Instead, build your house on the foundation of Christ so that at the end you will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.”

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The War Within – Romans 7:21-25

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! – Romans 7:21-25 NIV

In this passage Paul describes a battle that is going on within himself. On one side is his inner being, his spirit. This side loves God and wants to live in obedience to him. On the other side of the battle is the flesh, his human nature. This side wants to gratify it’s own desires and passions. And the two sides are in conflict with each other, with the flesh seeming to be the stronger.

Some folks see this as a battle that was in Paul’s past, before becoming a believer. But he describes it in the present tense rather than the past. And his delight in God’s law is something that would seem inappropriate for an unredeemed person. I believe Paul is describing the experience of many, if not most, believers. I want to serve God wholeheartedly, but I just seem unable to do that. Other competing desires and priorities are constantly distracting me and keeping me from that wholehearted devotion. Sin is an ever present reality in my life. Is there any hope for me?

On my own there is not. But thankfully God has not left me to live the life he called me to on my own. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to us (John 14:16-17), will enable us to have victory over our old nature. The battle will wage on as long as we live in the flesh, but Christ has delivered us from bondage to it, enabling us to live for him.

Leaving It All Behind – Matthew 19:29

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. – Matthew 19:29 ESV

What are you willing to give up in order to follow Jesus? The passage preceding this verse answers this question from the perspective of both a wealthy young man and the disciples. The young man, when called on to give everything to the poor and then follow Jesus, went away sorrowful, unwilling to give up his great possessions. The disciples, on the other hand, had given up everything, and were promised thrones in heaven.

Jesus’ promise to us in this verse is that we will ultimately be more than compensated for the things we leave behind for him. Clearly Jesus is not asking us to totally abandon our family relationships; even on the cross he expressed concern about his mother. But he is calling on me to not allow those relationships, or any of my possessions, to come before him. He wants to be Lord, not just in the inner reaches of my heart, but in my relationships with other people, and in my handling of the things of this world.

Is there anything that you are unwilling to surrender to the lordship of Jesus? His promise to us is that if we will give him our all, our eternal reward will be much greater than anything we leave behind for him.

Taking Up My Cross – Matthew 10:38

And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. – Matthew 10:38 ESV

Jesus tells me here that it is essential for me to take up my cross and follow him. If I do not, then I am unworthy of him, and according to the next verse, will lose my life. But what is my cross? And how do I take it up?

The cross was an instrument of death. Jesus took up his cross on the way to his crucifixion and death. Am I expected to do the same thing? To die on a Roman cross? Galatians 2:20 gives Paul’s answer to this question: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul had died to self and was now living his life by faith in Christ. Is anything less expected from me? Taking up my cross and following Jesus means that I no longer live this life for self, seeking to satisfying my own desires and goals. Instead I live in a way that would be pleasing to Christ, following his goals for my life.

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