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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mount Joy stone farmhouse 1/2/18
Stone farmhouse near Mount Joy, PA
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"A Consideration Of Foundations"

Message summary: To build a godly life, let God be the architect and His Word the blueprint.

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"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (Matthew 7:24-27).

Yesterday we passed the old stone farmhouse seen in our lead photo. Many older residential houses have the date of construction engraved on a stone inscription but, even after I enlarged the above photo, I saw no such information. It was surely built in the 1800's and possibly late 1700's so it's old by North American standards (although it would be newer in Europe and certainly the Middle East!).

As we drove around the bend on Fairview Road the rural setting caught our attention as the sun was shining on the stone house surrounded by the blue sky and brilliant snow. We observed the sparse but attractive holiday decorations along with the burgundy trim, a nice blend with the aged stone work. Having worked with our Amish stonemason friend, Jesse, I could tell the stone had been cleaned and repointed in recent years.*

But when we looked at the home we didn't give any consideration to the foundation; its strength, material, or depth! I didn't think of it until after I posted the photo and  began to work on today's message.

It can be that way in our own life as well or the way we view others. We tend to focus mostly on what we see. We may observe their apparent health, financial status, possessions, vibrant personality or other such notable traits. Examining others spiritually we may observe their church attendance, apparent grasp of Scripture, familiarity with Christian music, etc. But only upon closer examination can we see the foundation from which their faith is derived.

As we begin another year let us examine our own personal spiritual foundation.
Certainly we will all, in various ways and degrees, face storms in 2018.  "The storms of life reveal the strength of our faith." Or as one old seaman explained while giving good navigation training, "In fierce storms there is only one way to survive: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there."

Jesus, in His concluding illustration of the Sermon of the Mount spoke of two contrasting foundations; one built on the rock and the other built on sand. Is your foundation built on the rock which Jesus refers to as the wise man who "hears these words of mine and puts them into practice".

A simple outline for today's passage is:

Alan RedpathAlan Redpath, a British preacher who lived from 1907-1989 wrote, "We live in a broken world. In every direction there are breaches which are wide and deep. There are broken hearts and broken homes, and that which once was sacred is but a waste place. Whereas once there was a carefully guarded fence around the sanctity of family life, sex life, and the right to personal privacy, now there is just a waste place. The wall of protection is in ruins, and (for many) life has lost all its meaning." He surely wrote this a generation ago, yet his words are far more greatly evidenced today than at the time of his writing!

One commentator notes, "Those who serve God with sincere hearts and actions also accomplish things for God's kingdom. They rebuild and raise up, and are 'called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell'. You can't build anything for God's Kingdom on the foundation of a superficial walk with God."

May God grant us a firm resolve in this new year of 2018 to be the faithful remnant in our age who remain true to His ways, so that we witness a restoration of the age old foundations as prescribed in the Bible!

Be encouraged today and build upon on the foundation of Jesus Christ, the solid rock.

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father in heaven, we ask You to help us to embrace the reason that we must apply Your teachings to our lives - so that our foundation will be unshakable and storm-proof when the howling winds and surging rains beat against us. The foundation of this world is temporal and growing more and more decadent, so we choose instead to build our lives on the eternal foundation of Your Holy Word, as You teach us all throughout Scripture. We will come to regret that which consumed our heart, our mind and our time in building temporal foundations, but we will never come to regret building a spiritual foundation comprised of Jesus Christ and His eternal worth. Keep us clear minded and focused so that we are aware of the difference in that which only satisfies us here and that which satisfies for all eternity. Amen.

Four Foundations That Will Stand!

1) The solid foundation of Biblical authority. "The grass withers, the flower fade.  But the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

2) The solid foundation of Jesus Christ.  "According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:10,11).

3) The solid foundation of the church. "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:19-21).

4) The solid foundation of the apostolic doctrine. "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42).  "Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 3).

Ruins from stone barn wall in Lancaster County PAAbout a mile and ˝ from our home behind the Cameron Inn Estate is an old farm with this unusual sight. An old stone barn wall remains, standing for many years after the barn burned down or was otherwise demolished. (We first noticed these ruins shortly after we moved to our present home in 2002).

Our region was settled in the 1700's so these barn ruins are nothing compared to the "ancient ruins" of the Middle East, yet the stone wall still brings to mind the daily verse which can be understood as the promise of rebuilding a torn-down Jerusalem.

However, in a spiritual analogy, it can also be understood as those who follow the Lord and keep His precepts. They will be the devout followers who rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the age-old foundations of Biblical truth. 

I believe this refers to getting back to the old, correct ways. Newer doesn't always mean better. I am blessed by a verse in Jeremiah 6:16 that states, "This is what the LORD says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it'".

Paymaster's Building, Cornwall Iron Furnace, PA 1/2/18
Early yesterday morning we passed through Cornwall, PA and drove by the historic Cornwall Iron Furnace. This was the Paymaster building where the ironworkers and miners picked up their pay.

Amish team in snow, Harvest Road 1/2/18
"A farmer's work is never done"
It was very cold yesterday but it appears an Amish famer was preparing for some work with his team yesterday afternoon on Harvest Road north of Mount Joy.

Sheep in snow, Grandview Road, Mount Joy 1/2/18
We enjoy seeing the sheep out in the snow. We took this photo yesterday afternoon north of Mount Joy on Grandview Road.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"How Firm a Foundation"  Video  Congregational singing

* Repointing

Finally today:

Mollie on her seventh birthday 1/3/17
Happy Birthday Mollie!  Today our youngest canine turns 7 years old. Mollie is Ester's dog though we all do plenty to care for her from day to day! She's a smart border collie/lab mix and challenges us pretty regularly, but she is so playful and eager to see us upon awakening each day that annoyances diminish in comparison to the fun she brings to our family. Her greatest passion: frisbee! She has been playing out in the snow and regardless of how far the frisbee is thrown she will dash through the snow and will normally catch it in the air and return for another throw. She seems to have learned that she does not want to have to dig the frisbee out of the snow!

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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