The foundation is the most important part of any building. Cracks in the foundation jeopardize the integrity of the entire structure. When there are issues with the foundation, there will be problems elsewhere in the house. There can be cracks in drywall, crooked doors and windows, broken floor tiles and uneven hardwood floors.
Our families must be built on a solid foundation if they are to be strong and healthy. Your family’s tomorrow will be shaped by the firmness of the foundation today. When it comes to living your best life and living the blessed life, your foundation is more important than your education or your occupation.
When there are foundation issues in our lives, the problems show up in various places in our lives. Cracks in the foundation create cracks in our character, crookedness in our walk with the Lord, and brokenness in our spirit. Cracks in the foundation reveal themselves in the form of domestic violence, the use of pornography, hypocrisy, lying and deceit, infidelity, selfishness and much more.
It is not enough to just fix the windows, doors, and floors. We need to repair the foundation. The word of God provides us with the insight that we need to strengthen and repair the foundation of our homes.
Psalm 78 reveals that if you want a firm foundation you need to have confidence in who God is and what God has done. With God, life has stability even when there is uncertainty. History shapes identity. That is why we need to teach our children the works and commands of God. When you forget who God is, you will forget that it is in Him that we live, and move, and exist. It is in knowing God that we find our true identity. We were made by God. And we were made for God (Ephesian 2:10) Christians who are unfulfilled in life are unfulfilled because they are trying to find their identity outside of Christ. We need to understand how God’s history shapes our identity.
That's why we need to teach our children who God is and what He has done. We need to teach our children both God’s love and God’s law. Law and love are not in conflict with each other. God’s law is actually a manifestation of God’s love. We have to share the faith and show the faith if we want our children to have faith. When we build our lives upon God, we are building our lives upon a foundation that is sufficient for the future.
As we celebrate 91 years of existence as a congregation, we are also commemorating the conclusion of our current building expansion and renovation project. As I reflect upon the project, the story of how we got here comes to my mind.
The renovation project that began in 2018 was prompted by an event that occurred in November of 2015. On Saturday, November 28, 2015 I received a message with a photo of a hole in the ceiling over the pews near the elevator. Torrential rains and a bad spot in the roof combined to allow water to get into the building and pool over the “amen corner”. The sheetrock could not support that weight of the water and eventually came crashing down onto the pews. There was water damage to the floor and the pews. No amount of carpet cleaning could remove the stains.
Elsewhere in the auditorium we were getting runs in the carpet, dried gum, aging pews that were made in the mid-1900s when people weighed a lot less, and more stains on the pews that would not come out. The auditorium was in need of work. It needed more than just a touch up here and professional cleaning there. It needed a major renovation! Most of the signs were actually there before the ceiling collapsed, but that was really the tipping point. It was then when we said, “We have to do something!”
Second Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” In Christ, we don’t just get an update or an upgrade to the latest version of the same ole thing. We are totally new!
Are the signs already there signaling that your life needs to be renovated? Are there stains in your life that you have been ignoring? Are the things that used to work for you no longer working? Don’t wait until there is a collapse in your life. God’s cleansing and renewal are available now.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)
These words of Jesus are some of the toughest in scripture to live out in our daily walk. For many of us, the challenge is not in knowing what the scripture says, it is knowing how to do what the scripture says. Here are some things to consider that will help you apply this verse to your life.
· Understand that loving our enemies goes against our nature as humans. Therefore, in order to live out this command, I need to walk in the strength of God’s Spirit. When we try to love those who are difficult to love by our own power, we will fail. We must pray to God that He gives us the power to do something for our enemies, even when we have the ability to do something to our enemies.
· Set realistic expectations of others. It has been said that disappointment is the gap between our expectations and our reality. When we expect people of the world to behave as Christians, we are destined to be disappointed. Darkness cannot produce light. Christians have been called to be the light source that shines in a dark world. It is also important to know that not all Christians have grown to the point where they are consistent in their walk. While we should expect more out of our brothers and sisters in Christ than we do of people in the world, don’t expect perfection.
· Do not underestimate the power of prayer. Matthew 5:44 ends with the instruction to pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. How often do you pray for those who treat you in a less than ideal way? Often there is bitterness and an unforgiving spirit at the root of their treatment of others. Many times, how people treat you really has nothing to do with you. It has to do with an internal struggle that manifests itself in their external relationships.
· Embrace forgiveness. Sometimes our enemy is our enemy because we haven’t forgiven. Are you hanging on to some hurts from the past? It is only after you forgive that you can begin to heal. If you are the one who hurt or offended someone else, embrace their forgiveness. If they have expressed that they forgive you, don’t live like they hate you. At times we read too much into things because we assume that people will treat us how we would treat someone else. Since we have a hard time forgiving, we assume others do too. Learn to accept forgiveness and walk like you are forgiven.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.