Building Strong Foundations
Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
It is not a question of if storms will come in life by when. Sometimes they are smaller, a couple of inches of snow or rain, and we go through them and forget about them. Sometimes storms that are forecast don’t happen. Other times storms can be dangerous and devastating. Hurricanes, tornadoes, monstrous ice storms, or blizzards. Things can happen in life personally and in the world around us that can permanently change the landscape of our existence. God can calm the storm or protect us through the storm. But we can prepare by building our life on the right foundation: God and His word, the Bible.
In January I felt from the Lord something to emphasize that we have always done at the Pentecostals of Genesee. That is to build strong foundations: with God, with family, and with church. We are at a time when many who are not even religious or Christian can feel that in our world everything that can be shaken is being shaken. As believers for ourselves and our families, and also for us to effectively minister to people in our community, we must build strong foundations in our lives.
Our first and primary foundation is our relationship with God. This is built through our personal commitment to daily time in prayer, Bible reading, and participating at church. I was taught by my first Pastor Rev. G. A. Mangun (a revered and respected elder in the Pentecostal movement) that we needed to have an hour a day with God in prayer and personal Bible reading as our goal. This becomes our personal time alone with God where we are strengthened and rejuvenated individually. This is where we build our personal relationship with Jesus. Everything in our walk with God begins with this. In our church, lessons on prayer and our walk with God are taught in our Discipleship series. These subjects are also often expanded upon in weekly Bible teaching/preaching.
Our second priority after our foundation with God is our foundation with our family. A strong personal walk with God as individuals makes us better in our relationships with our spouse and family. Whether we are married, with children, single, or single parents (the hardest), our relationship with our family is second only to our relationship with God. Our relationship with our spouse and our children must be as defined by the Bible, God's word and lived God’s way. Anything else will not work and result in a second-best or lesser outcome. I will not take time to teach everything the Bible gives us on marriage but only give these basic scripture references here. (Ephesians 5:21-33; Ephesians 6:1-4) Colossians 3:18-21) Jesus also said we can't love anyone, spouse, children, father or mother more than we love him. (Matthew 10:37). Strong Christians and churches are built on strong families which have built strong personal relationships with God. If we are a parent, then we are responsible for teaching and training our children to love and live for God. (Deuteronomy 6:1-9) The church, the pastor, Sunday school teachers, and youth workers are our greatest helpers but the primary job is ours as parents to teach our children. Remember children learn more from what we do than what we tell them to do. If we place God and the things of God in secondary priority, then our children will also. In the busyness of today's world, we can be easily and unintentionally distracted with school, family, and other activities that can hinder our relationship and our children’s relationship with God.
The last foundation we must build and consistently maintain is our foundation with our church. The church is the body of Christ. Each local assembly of believers is to represent Jesus Christ to their community through their words, actions and lives. All believers need to be faithful members of a Bible teaching, truth proclaiming, local Apostolic church. God designed all members of his body to have a function in the body. Therefore we need to be involved not just attending church but actively worshiping and serving the Lord through that local church. There are jobs and functions that God has for us to fill as a member of His local body. This is where faithfulness to our local church services and activities becomes important.
There are many reasons not to miss church services, Bible studies, and functions. In our church as in most United Pentecostal churches, no two services are alike. God spirit can move differently in each service. The message or teaching from word of God is ministered on different themes and subjects as the pastor or minister feels directed by God. If you are there, you can receive what God has for you. If you are not, you will miss it. A powerful example of this principle is seen when Jesus went to the pool of Bethesda in John 5. Only at certain seasons did an angel suddenly stir the water and only those who were first in the pool were miraculously healed. While God is not restricted in time or place that he can answer prayer, what if the waters are stirred and the healing you need is available but you are not there? What if the word of encouragement or teaching that you need is ministered and you are not there to receive it? Mature believers need to also consider, if a part of the body such as a leg or arm is missing, the total activity and effectiveness of the body is greatly hindered. What if only half or a quarter of your cells in your arm muscle showed up... would you not be greatly weakened? By our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and our local church, the body of Christ can be greatly strengthened. We all have a function, a role, a service, a gift and a ministry that we can contribute to the body of Christ. Jesus also said to be greatest in his kingdom is to be servant of all. We need to approach participation and Service in our local church with the heart of a servant if we are to be a mature Christian.
Thus for ourselves and our families, building and maintaining strong foundations of commitment to God, our family, and our church in our lives will help us survive and even overcome the storms of life that may come our way.