Strong Foundation

I hope you enjoy these thoughts as we start the week.  I received this from Jason Cicero, one of my best friends and most importantly a brother in Christ.  Consider your foundation this morning and take some time in meditation and prayer about how much God has loved you and how willingly and freely He blesses you so that you might be filled up with His blessings and be a blessing to others in whatever role or situation you find yourself in.  Have a great week!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NKJV)

A foundation is a strong, stable base on which a life is built.  A blessing is a gift from God.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17; NKJV).  In Christ there are “showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:26; NKJV).  Of all the blessings God has given us it seems to me that there are five that we can fall back on as we make our journey from Earth to Heaven.

Five Foundational Blessings.  Grace is God’s kindness to the guilty and undeserving.  Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve.  Mercy is God withholding from us what we do deserve.  Love is God’s active good will toward us.  Forgiveness of sins is the release from the debt, guilt, and punishment for our transgressions.  Hope is the confident expectation He fills us after we receive forgiveness.

Why I don’t deserve them.  I do not deserve these five foundational blessings because I have sinned.  By definition I do not deserve grace.  I am guilty and undeserving.  He is well within His holy nature to give me what I deserve.  He loves me despite my sins.  He longs to forgive me.  He fills me with a living hope even though I have let Him down again and again.  

Why I’ve been given them.  I have been given these five foundational blessings to the praise of His glory!  We have been given “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” for the purpose of glorifying His name (Ephesians 1:3).  He gives me grace, mercy, love, forgiveness of my sins, and hope that I would praise His name!  Receive these blessings “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14; 2:7; 3:20-21).

My response to them.  Because of these five foundational blessings I will rejoice always!  I will pray without ceasing!  I will give thanks in everything!  Because of these five foundational blessings I have a relationship to God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that will sustain me no matter what happens.  Nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39; NKJV).  In this I rejoice and praise His name!

Live joyfully with the wife whom you love

Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

…and rejoice with the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18).

Do you see that, men? Solomon in his wisdom from God, tells us to “live joyfully with the wife whom you love.” He says to “rejoice with the wife of your youth.” Marriage, by design, is to bring joy. But for many men, we have at times not lived joyfully as Solomon counseled us, and we should reflect upon why this may happen.

What causes us to live un-joyfully with our wives?

  • Bitter and unforgiving hearts, resenting past hurts and holding them over her (Colossians 3:19). Bitterness is a root that really can take hold of our hearts (Hebrews 12). Living joyfully with her cannot take place when you won’t release your hold on her past mistakes (Read Matthew 18:21-35).
  • Being overly focused on the busyness of life and getting all the things on the list done. Life becomes all about work, errands, repairs, problems to fix, etc. Don’t forget to plan times of just having fun together. But also, you can do the chores and work around the house together without having a grumpy attitude. You can enjoy the mundane work with your wife.
  • A lack of thankfulness. We forget to step back and appreciate the blessings of God in our lives and in our relationships. Men, do we daily thank God for our wives? Are we thankful for what He is doing in our lives, even in the midst of trials?
  • Not living under grace. We are never satisfied with what we have done, because it is never good enough. We can always do more. That is the voice of someone who is not satisfied with himself and is not living contented in the grace of God. God’s grace was not given to us so that we will always live in guilt and dissatisfaction with our lives and the lives of others. When we live that way, we won’t accept ourselves and we most certainly won’t accept our wives. How can we live joyfully when we are never good enough or our wives will never be good enough? Maybe it is time in your marriage as a husband to revisit the cross of Jesus Christ. If you live under grace, you can rejoice. If you live under perfection salvation, you will never be satisifed and contented.

Learn to rejoice and live joyfully

  • Revisit the cross of Jesus as a husband. This will be good for you and for her. Think about what happened at the cross and how that affects how Jesus sees you, and how He sees your wife. Rest your hope fully on the grace of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13).
  • Pray for God to help you find joy and contentment even in the mundane and busyness of life. Learn to smile more. Try it. I know sometimes it is hard, believe me. Chill out a little bit when it comes to getting goals accomplished. Don’t be such a sargeant. Have some fun with the kids doing the chores. Loosen up and try to goof off a little.
  • Go back to dating if you are not doing it. Think of something fun that she would like to do, and go do it. Bring back the courtesy and politeness you had at first. Remember how you did everything in your power to win her heart before you were married? That was not a one-time goal you accomplished never to revisit, that is a daily calling.

Let’s pray for each other, men, as we seek to live out the high calling of being a godly husband! Rejoice with your wife today!

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Habakkuk was deeply distressed about the immoral state of his nation. He was certainly justified in these feelings. In his distress he cried out to the Lord, but the answers he received from the Lord were not comforting at first. God would deal with the sin of Judah, but he would use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to do it. “Wait a minute,” Habakkuk thinks, “how can a righteous and holy God use such a wicked and violent nation to punish His own people?” That is not the answer he was expecting…at all!

Through his conversation with God, we see the true character of Habakkuk shine as he is refined by God.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Question: How can a man rejoice in the midst of wickedness, chaos and pending doom?

Habakkuk was told by the Lord that the righteous man “shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). “Trust Me,” God is saying. Trust His nature, His motives and His promises. Know and assume that God will always do the right thing, even if it doesn’t make sense to you and me.

Regardless of what happens around me, Habakkuk had to wait quietly for the day of distress (Habakkuk 3:16). There is a value to silence. The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him (Habakkuk 2:10). You know, this time of judgment was going to come whether or not Habakkuk had the right attitude! God was going to bring punishment upon Judah by Babylon and then He would destroy Babylon.

The purposes of God will be accomplished, so let us trust that God will always do the right thing. Let us also quiet our minds knowing that God will always take care of His people. We are “sealed” and “marked,” God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). If you are a follower of God, you won’t get lost in the sauce.

So if the economy tanks and the nation crumbles (no produce, flocks and herds lost), yet we will rejoice in the Lord. The Lord and only the Lord is our strength. If my focus is on the material, then I will never develop true joy.

What Habakkuk learned long ago is what we as God’s men today must get straight in our heads. Especially now in America.