Stormy Weather

How odd are these storms today?  It’s November, 70+ degrees, and there are tornado and thunderstorm warnings.  It’s like April again.  I wrote on the different severities of the storms of life last week then tonight as I get ready to write again it is actually storming.  So I am going to talk a little more about storms (trials) and how we react to them.

At Bible study this week, we read the first few verses of James 1.  It reads as follows:

 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,  To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:  Greetings.  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.   (James 1:1-4 ESV)

“Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds”.  How many of us are excited about the bad stuff that happens to us?  I know I am usually not.  But as believers, James tells us that we should be.  Why? Because the testing of our faith produces a closer bond with Jesus.  And with that perfect relationship we will have all we need.  Also notice the reference to different kinds of trials.  It’s the same as we saw last week in Matthew where he speaks of wind, rain, and flood.  So how do we accept our trials with joy?  By giving them over to HIM.  We must give it all to Jesus and let him handle it for us.  It is so hard for us (guys especially) to swallow our pride and not try to handle everything on our own.  My typical response to any difficulty is “I’m a man, I’m 30, I can handle this”.  That sounds so ignorant.  Why does my pride get in the way of my faith?  And this is just not in the storms, but in the sunshine too.

This past Saturday while at the Clemson game, I can’t remember hearing more clearly from the Lord.  He might as well have been in the seat beside me.  He wasn’t there pulling for the Tigers (I think), He was there to teach me a lesson in patience and faith.  I won’t go in to details but it was such a surreal moment.  He showed me that His timing is better than my timing, trust Him, He has something better.  When you give it all to Him it is such a peaceful and comforting place.  The more you are willing to surrender, the closer you become to Him.

I am so thankful for the men I get to do life with and hear and learn from on a weekly basis.  Each week, but this week especially, there stories really encourage me in my walk with Christ.

Wow, the rain is really pounding on the roof and windows now.  The storms coming, but it’s going to be alright.

Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season

Bible study is just great.  A group of men gathered around a fire with cigars and God’s word on a cool, crisp night; what could be better?  This week we read Matthew 7:24-27, titled Build Your House on the Rock.  Have you ever stopped to think about what this illustration even means?  “It means rely on Jesus, He is our rock” is the typical answer, and that is correct. But let’s go deeper.  Here is the passage.

 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
(Matthew 7:24-27 ESV)

First, lets talk about the foolish guy.  He is foolish because he built his house on the sand.  What kind of foundation is sand? Shaky? Weak? Those are just a couple of words to describe it.  So if the house is built on this type of foundation it is easy to see what will happen when the storms come; it is going to collapse.  Sure, he probably built the house much quicker and cheaper than the wise man, but he didn’t have the insight to see that his ways were foolish.

Ok, now the wise man who built his house on the rock.  That’s a foundation that isn’t going to give way.  It can get hit by a hurricane and it may sway a little, but when the storm passes it is still going to be standing.  This solid foundation costs a lot more and it probably took longer to build having to dig those footers and all, but in the end this guy was very wise.

Now let’s look at this passage differently.  The foolish person relies on himself, others, other world religions, or anything else that isn’t Jesus.  This person is shaky and weak and probably doesn’t even know it.  They don’t get that big promotion at work and their knees buckle a little.  They end up losing their job and have that gut wrenching pain of what to do next.  They lose a loved one and hit their knees, not knowing where to turn or how to deal with the pain.  The wise man, however, handles these life challenges differently. He knows that when he doesn’t get that promotion life goes on.  If he loses his job, God has something better in store, and when he loses a loved one, Jesus is there to comfort him in his time of grief.

You see, the wise man has read the instruction manual for going through this life.  He knows that the storms are coming but also that his foundation is THE Rock!  His house can with stand any storm.  Notice in the passage that first the rain fell, then it flooded, and finally the winds came.  Life’s obstacles will sometimes be a summer shower, but then at other times may be a Cat 5 hurricane.  Whatever the case, if Jesus is your foundation you are going to be alright.

Is your foundation made of sand or rock?  Are you sure?  It’s easy to think you are on solid ground when life is going great.  Don’t wait for the storm to realize that you were actually living on the sand.