It’s September again, which means it’s the start of another school year for millions of children and their families. Why? Because a formal education is recognized by most countries and cultures as foundational to the development and betterment of both individuals and societies.
In Psalm 11:3 David asks the question; “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Hebrew word used here for foundations means “a basis, political or moral support, purpose.” We know in our physical world that if the foundation of a building is faulty then that building is in danger of collapse, especially if it is subjected to unusual stress, such as an earthquake. The same principle holds true in the non-physical structure of society in general, and in the personal, spiritual life of every individual as well. In fact, Matthew 7:24-27 records that Jesus made this same comparison. He had been discussing the two choices given to all of mankind: destruction and death via the broad, well-traveled road, or life at the end of the narrow, less popular way; and He carried His point about choices to foundations. The right choice, the foundation that would withstand the storms, was built upon the rock, thereby making it solid. This, Jesus said, compares in the spiritual realm to “every one who hears these words of Mine, and does them”. He then continued to say that all those who refuse to act upon His words would experience destruction, for the foundation they were building upon was as sand.
How firm is your foundation? What thinking forms the basis of your life? What will happen to you when the storms of life hit or an earthquake shakes you? You know – those unexpected tragedies, or financial reversals, or physical afflictions, or relationship problems. Our world is full of disasters – famines, fires, floods, fighting – all bringing destruction and death. Would you “hold up” under such pressure? Is your foundation solid? Christians have neither basis nor right to assume that hardships will not befall us. In fact, Jesus warned that we will have tribulation in this life (John 16:33), and we could also expect persecution just because we are His (Matthew 5:11).
So how do we prepare for the approaching storms? Maybe you feel like the wind and waves are already buffeting and pounding against you. How can you be sure your foundation is solid? Examine it! What is the basis for your thoughts and actions? (If it’s your emotions – watch out! There’s no stability there!) Are you living according to the word of God, obeying His commands and believing in His promises? Are your decisions based upon what God has said, or do you “lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)?
Psalm 119:89 declares: “Forever, O Lord, Thy word stands firm in heaven.” God’s word is eternally unshakeable, unchangeable, and unalterable. In contrast, the ideas and ideals, the philosophies and “facts”, the declarations and decisions of mankind are constantly in flux, like shifting sand. We must abide in God’s word. This means more than merely having a knowledge of it or a familiarity with it; but rather, our daily, practical decisions need to be based upon God’s unchanging truth and eternal perspective. You and I need to live upon God’s word “by the renewing of (our) mind” (Romans 12:2); that is, changing our thinking to align with His thoughts rather than going along with the messages and ways of our secular world. Jesus told Satan that it is God’s intent and desire that man live “on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)
But there is also more to our foundation than words. Isaiah 28:16 says: “… ‘Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.’” In 1 Corinthians 3:11, Paul identified that proven, stable foundation as Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Living Word of God, and that means He is our foundation. He is that immutable, immovable Rock for He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17). He is the completion of the word of God. Furthermore, 2 Corintians 1:20 tells us that “all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen”. God’s words of assurance and encouragement, strength and promise to believers are affirmed and confirmed through the Person of Jesus Christ. (Likewise His judgments against the wicked!) The Word which “became flesh” (John 1:14) is in total agreement with the Divine revelations and is the very Embodiment of God’s promises. Not only is Jesus Christ the Source of and the Power behind the promises of God, but He IS the culmination of each and every promise to the believer. This, therefore, is the sure foundation of every believer – the life of Jesus within. To be firmly “built” upon that Foundation is to abide in Jesus by cultivating a deliberate commitment to and a personal relationship with Him.
However, God does not intend for believers to be isolated, independent individualists. As basic and crucial as our own individual walk with the Lord is, we need to understand that we are also “being fitted” and “built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21,22) In other words, we’re all in this together! Therefore, the condition of my foundation is going to affect my brothers and sisters in Christ, and the strength (or weakness) of your relationship with Jesus is going to have an influence on me.
So how do we strengthen our foundation? 2 Timothy 2:19 states: “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let every one who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.’” This “seal” is two-fold and is like an extra measure of protection and an additional reinforcement of strength against the storms.
Although it’s very possible to deceive one another and even ourselves, no one can fool God. Job asked his accusers: “Will it be well when (God) examines you? Or will you deceive Him as one deceives a man?” (Job 13:9) And Jeremiah 17: 9,10 says: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately wicked; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart; I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Since it’s our basic human nature to find fault with and criticize ourselves and one another (and Satan himself is “the accuser of our brethren” – Revelation 12:10), it is comforting and strengthening when under such an attack (regardless of the source) to remember Jesus’ words: “I know My own” (John 10:14). And the protection against self-deception is found by studying God’s word, for “the word of God is … able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Therefore, every time we choose God’s way over our own, choose to believe His word and trust in Him rather than in our own reasoning and resources, we are strengthening our foundation. But remember, we must not be “hearers only, deceiving (our)selves” (James 1:22), but we need to put God’s word into action. Action confirms (cements) our beliefs.
The other layer of sealant that we can apply to strengthen our foundation is to flee from evil. Paul twice exhorted Timothy in this (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22), and Peter wrote: “Beloved, I urge you … to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
So, believing in and living according to God’s words in doing good and avoiding evil, and growing in our relationship with the Word of God (Jesus), will provide us with the stability and strength we need to withstand the storms of life. Therefore, “Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)