Happy New Year!
The first post of this year is in the form of a guided reflection considering one of the metaphors applied to Jesus in the bible: Jesus: Sure Foundation, Cornerstone. As you read you will be guided through the process of reflection the heart of which is three passages from the bible along with some suggested questions you may want to ask and two written prayers from early church history. I suggest you put aside at least 50 minutes to follow this. We have been encouraged in the last couple of weeks through Kenny’s preaching from the book of Hebrews to spend time considering Jesus. I hope that this will help you start to do just that.
Opening remarks: Foundations are important. In building and construction having a strong foundation ensures that whatever is built upon it will be supported and successfully carry the load it supports. As babies grow and develop they learn skills in a particular order each level of attainment being the foundation to the development of the next. They will not be able to walk before they can crawl (or bum shuffle!). They will not attain a new skill until they have mastered the previous level. They don’t reach 2 years old, get up one morning, pick up a knife and fork and eat the breakfast they just prepared.
I am sure we have all found out by now that our lives can be beset by storms that shake us to our foundations. Many of these events are not unique to individuals but are part and parcel to life in a fallen world: disease, pain, suffering, poverty, broken relationships, grief, loss, death to name but a few. How can we build foundations that will stand against the inevitable storms of life? On what are such foundations secure?
The bible teaches about the importance of foundations and can answer these questions. In this mini-retreat you will have the opportunity to reflect on the foundations you have made or possibly need to repair or maybe still need to build.
Prayer: ‘O God of Light, Father of Life, Giver of Wisdom, Benefactor of my soul, who gives to the fainthearted who put their trust in you those things into which the angels desire to look; O Sovereign Lord, who has brought me up from the depths of darkness to light, who has given me life from death, who has graciously bestowed upon me freedom from slavery, and who has scattered the darkness of sin within me, do Lord now also enlighten the eyes of my understanding, and sanctify me wholly in soul, body, and spirit. AMEN.’
Adapted from the Liturgy of St. Mark.
Jesus, the foundation, the cornerstone: Read and reflect on the following passages. These establish the credibility of Jesus as the true and sound foundation on which everything should be established. Ask the Holy Spirit to open up these passages and to reveal new things or to remind you of things you already know and may have forgotten.
Ephesians 2:18-22 ‘For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows intoa holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.’
1 Peter 2:4-8 ‘As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up asa spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honour is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.’
These passages make it clear that Jesus is the only foundation on which our lives should be laid. Spend some time reflecting on these passages recognising Jesus’ place in your salvation giving thanks for Him.
Jesus tells this parable about foundations targeted at those who call him Lord but who do not then follow his ways. In Part 1 you reflected on Jesus as the sure foundation, the cornerstone, whom ‘of old…laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of [his] hands (Ps102: 25). Read and reflect on this parable:
Luke 6: 46 – 49 (ESV) Build Your House on the Rock
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
- What are the foundations of life?
- Which of the foundations of your life are built on Jesus?
- What is secure, what needs repaired, what needs torn down and rebuilt, is anything a bit ‘wobbly’ and needs to be shored up?
- Are you hearing what the Holy Spirit has been saying to you?
- Have you been ignoring Him?
Closing Prayer: ‘O God, who hast taught me Thy divine and saving oracles, enlighten the soul of me a sinner for the comprehension of the things which have been before spoken, so that I may not only be seen to be a hearer of spiritual things, but also a doer of good deeds, striving after guileless faith, blameless life, and pure conversation. Release, pardon, and forgive, O God, all my voluntary and involuntary sins, such as I have committed in action and in word, knowingly and ignorantly, by night and by day, in mind and thought, forgive me all in goodness and love. Sanctify, O Lord, my soul, body and spirit; examine my minds and search my conscience; take from me all evil imaginations, all impurity of thought, all inclinations to lust, all depravity of conception, all envy, pride and hypocrisy, all falsehood, deceit and irregular living, all covetousness, vain glory and sloth; all malice, anger and wrath, all remembrance of injuries, all blasphemy and every motion of flesh and spirit that is contrary to the purity of Thy Will. AMEN.’
Adapted from the Liturgy of St. James.
Written by Tosh