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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Boston Greenway
Boston Greenway over traffic tunnel
An elevated highway ran over this very spot when we lived in New England in the nineties.

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"How Firm A Foundation!"

"Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm" (2 Timothy 2:19).

South Station, BostonYesterday we went into Boston, one of our favorite cities. It's known as the walking city since many major tourist spots are within walking distance. It's also well known for the Freedom Trail due to the many historical figures and settings learned by history students over the years. We walked a lot yesterday!

I often made pastoral hospital calls in Boston when we lived up that way. Boston is notorious for traffic and parking problems so I normally drove to the Braintree commuter station outside the city and took the Red Line into South Station downtown. Yesterday we came into the city from the west and I had quite a hard time finding my bearings to get us to a Green Line station with parking!  As a result we browsed many beautiful and expansive homes along with the busy cities and traffic as we tried to find our way around.

Boston Greenway
The entire time we lived in New England Boston was in the midst of a massive public works project popularly known as "The Big Dig".  It has been commonly reported as the largest public works project in human history. Essentially they rerouted the major freeway through the heart of the city underground. It had been an ugly green elevated highway but now you can see the user friendly park scene in our top photo.

South Station was right smack in the middle of the work.
I recall when I arrived at the station and departed the train I began to think of all the work going on above and below me as I could feel the vibration and detect the overhead rumblings from scores of jackhammers and heavy machinery.  I had a sense of foreboding as I walked off the train and up into the station at street level!

Skyscraper foundationAt that time a skyscraper was being built very near the Big Dig work and only blocks from the waterfront. The foundation went down about 50 feet with massive steel framework but this is nothing compared to the world's deepest skyscraper foundation.  The Petronas Towers has a foundation that is 394 feet deep!  I was intrigued by all the work that goes into a foundation, particularly since much of it would be below sea level and later unobservable. Foundations are not made for eye appeal but are a critically important part of any structure, most of it invisible to onlookers.

I am grateful today for a far more important foundation that the people of faith have in God.  Our daily Scripture portion calls it a "solid foundation".  This foundation stands firm and always will.

The prophet Isaiah twice used the image of a foundation to illustrate the great stability we have in God. He wrote, "He will be the sure foundation for your times" (Isaiah 33:6) and our Lord is "a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed" (Isaiah 28:16).

Get a good grip on today's Scripture portion.  The word, "nevertheless" is significant.  Paul had written concerning those who had wandered from the truth and destroyed the faith of some (v. 18). This is still happening today of course and destroyers of the faith abound. One commentator writes, "The conjunction 'nevertheless' is one which expresses strong contrast. Thus the dismal scenery of man's perversion (2 Timothy 2:16-18) is now set in contrast with the majestic reality of God's protection and preservation."

But "God's solid foundation stands firm."  It remains firm and ever will.  Great classic hymns express this truth such as "How Firm a Foundation", "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation" and "The Church's One Foundation", all filled with rich doctrinal teaching. These hymns have brought comfort and assurance to believers for generations. Much of the doctrine we learn directly from reading the Bible is often written on the tablets of our hearts indirectly from memorizing hymns that teach in a pleasurable, melodic format.

All of us need to hide this Scriptural assurance deep within our hearts. Hide it deep so that you are not easily swayed when the assailing trials besiege you and shake the foundation of your faith.  Or when skeptics attempt to confuse you or belittle your stand for Christ. We just don't know when other foundations in life will crumble, such as our health, marital bonds, a seemingly secure job position, the loss of a loved one, a troubled relationship, etc. 

Read the daily verse slowly several times and accept its truth deep within your spirit: "God's solid foundation stands firm."  It really does.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, my hope is built on Jesus' blood and righteousness. It is on this solid Rock that I anchor my soul and hold fast until the storms of life are passed. You uphold me by Your Spirit giving me faith that smiles when skies are frowning, faith that is purified by my suffering. Firm and fearless, help me to be as I walk the path designed for me. When thorns at times will pierce me, may my faith be unwavering as I hold to Thee.  Amen.

(Thoughts adapted from hymns, "The Solid Rock" and "Let My Faith Take Hold of Thee")

Today's Scripture portion in several other versions:

"Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands" (NASV)
"But God’s firm foundation stands" (ESV)
"But the firm foundation of (laid by) God stands, sure and unshaken" (Amplified)
"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure" (KJV)

Brooksyne's Note: Today's message is so very important for every believer, especially those young in the faith.  I spoke with a young man who is a newer believer in the Lord.  He was raised in a Christian home with godly parents, but chose to walk in rebellion and got caught up in drugs and all the devastation that goes with it.  I asked him how his Christian walk was going. He grimaced somewhat and then very honestly shared, "Pretty good until something happens."  His girlfriend recently broke up with him which tempted him to go back to the old vices and destructive attitudes.  I reminded him, "If it isn't your girl there will always be something else."  He smiled and said, "That's just what my mom said."

And it's true….that's why the firm foundation of God's Word must be the anchor for our soul; not our spouse, our job, our title or our family name.  I concluded my conversation with the young man by asking what he does when he's tempted to go back to his old ways. Thankfully, he has a couple solid believing friends he met as he was recovering from his sinful lifestyle and he calls on them.  I also reminded him of how blessed he was to have a praying mom.

Whatever you need to do, believing friend, to keep standing on the foundation of God's Word make sure you do it.  As the hymn writer wrote, "His hope, 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." Read the Word, sing the Scripture, pray and be accountable to a godly brother or sister in the Lord.  Never, ever give up!

New England Photos

DL Moody plaque, Court Street, Boston, MA
We spent about 45 minutes trying to find this plaque commemorating the very location D.L. Moody committed his life to Christ as a young man in 1855! Even with smart phones and two young local ladies we had a hard time finding it. Turns out part of the time we were looking some men were leaning against it, hiding it from view! For future reference the plaque is located here! We will share a story about D.L. Moody tomorrow.

Boston skyline view from Rowes Wharf
One of our favorite city views is through the huge archway at the Rowes Wharf Hotel

Yacht at Rowes Wharf, Boston
Looking the other way out from the archway was our yacht. We anchored it while walking Boston (just kidding!!)

Newbury Street window display, Boston
An interesting window display on Newbury Street. (This was about 1/4 of the display.) You may be looking closely to see if you're looking at what you think is sewing machines.  And you would be right!  Hundreds, perhaps a thousand treadmill machines decorate this store front.  Mostly Singer but there were a few other brands thrown in.  This store's distinctive is that all the clothes they sell are black, white or gray - sort of like the machines on display.  It was a fascinating sight!

Nicole and Jackie with Ester, Boston, Massachusetts
Jackie and Nikki joined us and walked the city as tour guides, then joined us for dinner at our favorite pizza place in Boston, interestingly the Chicago Uno Pizzeria.  I wonder if we ate in Chicago we'd want to find a Boston Uno Pizzeria (though I don't know that any exist.)

Family with skyline view, Boston, Massachusetts
This was taken in front of the Boston Public Gardens.

Feeding horse in Boston
We saw this horse near Faneuil Hall and thought the feeding method looked rather uncomfortable. How would you like to eat a bowl of cereal with it strapped around your neck and up to your face!  But we didn't see the horse complain and I guess it prevents any feed from falling in the cracks between the bricks.  Perhaps this is a method we could try when we're eating on the run!

For those interested here is a map with several placemarks of our several hours in Boston yesterday. It really is a very walkable city! See here for what the elevated highway looked like when we lived up that way.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"How Firm A Foundation"  Video  Sovereign Grace Music

"How Firm A Foundation"  Video  Piano instrumental

Exposition notes on the daily text See here for an online commentary I have really appreciated as I prepare these messages (actually it's a compilation of many commentaries).

Ray Pritchard shares these thoughts concerning the word "Nevertheless" in daily text:

Do false teachers seem to abound?
    The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are perilous times upon us?
    The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we fear for the future?
    The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are we worried for our children’s safety?
    The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we wonder how the church will survive?
    The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do we see some falling away from the faith?
    The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Are we tempted to despair?
    The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Could persecution come to us?
    The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”
Do evildoers rise to power?
    The Lord says, “Nevertheless.”

And I believe a proper response to "Nevertheless" would be:
Nevertheless we will serve the Lord!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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