Castles In The Sand

Castle 1Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Matthew 4:8-9

Building sandcastles is child’s play. Who has not built them either at the beach or in a sandbox in the backyard. A dream world of make-believe in your fingertips, a personal kingdom fashioned just to your liking and desires. Sandcastles – big, small, elaborate or just a row of simple pillars made from upside-down buckets of wet sand. Some things never change. The dreams just get deeper and more intense.

Cities of the world are built of the same stuff. Sand is the principle ingredient of concrete and glass. Skyscrapers are basically pillars of sand reaching the heavens, lifting and supporting its building occupants high above the earth. And the older we get it seems we prefer them bigger, higher and with fancier street names and fashionable zip codes.

The Bigger The Sandcastles The Better

It appears mankind has an innate, almost morbid proclivity to challenge God. The tendency surfaced long ago in the first created man, Adam. His legacy proceeded him for generations to include a man the Bible identifies as Nimrod:

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and … Genesis 10:8-10

Nimrod was in the sandcastle business big time. The Bible refers to him as a “mighty hunter”. A mighty hunter not of the earth, but “before the LORD”. We never read anywhere where he ever hunted and killed an animal. But, he surely hunted after good real estate. There are nine cities listed in Genesis 10 attributed to him. And the man picked some prime real estate to build the greatest sandcastle of his day, what is commonly referred to as  the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9).

In essence Nimrod said: “I will build a tower to reach the heavens. Just let God send another flood this way. I’ll teach Him. We’ll build a tower higher than God’s floodwaters can ever reach. Who needs the Lord and His protection?”

Jesus knows all things. He knew about this innate tendency within us to build sandcastles. You see, building them is easy for us. The material is plentiful, easily obtained, cheap and the results appear before our eyes almost instantaneously.

Unfortunately, the building of God’s kingdom does not work this way. God’s kingdom is not propagated with sand, but with three principle ingredients – faith, hope and love:

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:6

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I Corinthians 13:13

And all three are invisible with only their aftereffects to show evidence of their presence. It is said that the Apostle Paul gauged a church’s maturity and spirituality using these three criteria. How strong is their faith, how deep is their hope and how pure is their love? These things are priceless. Jesus desires his people to move beyond the sandcastle business and into the business of things eternal:

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:27-28

Some Sandbox Rules

Building sandcastles and playing in a sandbox is a regulated industry. Within the sandbox are rules and regulations to follow.

Here is a list of the important ones:

1.  Play nice. Consider who you are playing with and who invited you here.
2. Stay on your side of the line and don’t play in my sand. Play in your own sand.
3. Don’t ever wreck or touch my work and sand creations. And I won’t touch yours either.
4. Never, never, never offend me by throwing sand, especially in my eyes!

Does something sound familiar here? We grow older in this life, but the rules of engagement do not seem to change. Maybe it is only this blogger, but we sometimes find ourselves playing by rules forged early in life. Sandbox rules. May the Lord help us grow up and to look up:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. I Corinthians 13:11

Built Upon A Rock

Most are familiar of the parable Jesus spoke concerning the foundation material upon which one builds their house:

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. Matthew 7:24-25

Jesus came to this earth not to deal with its sand, Jesus came to this earth with the distinct intention of dealing with souls. Jesus came with the anticipation of life waiting to happen – abundant life. How we fall so short sometimes in realizing God’s expectations of us and how we fall short in realizing our expectations of God. There was one man in particular mentioned in the Bible who “got it”. His name was Abraham.

Abraham was a man of faith. He simply believed God was who He said he was. And Abraham trusted Him. In fact his trust was so sure that he offered his only son Isaac upon an altar with the expectation that God would raise him from the dead if needed (Genesis 22:2). That is pure faith. Abraham’s faith did not end there. Abraham was not looking for a castle made of and  in sand. He was looking for a castle that would stand the test of time. He was looking for a castle where God was not only the architect, but God was also the ditch digger:

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:8, 10

A city built on rock and not sand.

My Own Sandcastle

In conclusion, we must ask ourselves what am I building my hope and trust in this life on and where am I building it? A simple thought, but with profound repercussions. What foundation am I building my house upon? Sand or rock? We can claim many things as our own, but there is only one reference in the Holy Bible that mentions the true owner of God’s church on earth. Who is it? It’s found right here:

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

The Apostle Paul referred to many things as “My”: Gospel, Service, Helpers, Life, Kinsmen, Fellowprisoners, God, Brethren, Ways, Spirit, Work, Will, Liberty, Understanding, Soul, Joy, Children, Conversation, Body, Prayers, Record, Bonds, and Doctrine. Paul never penned the words “My Church”.

Jesus is the only one to refer to the church as “Mine”.  God’s church is His mighty fortress on the earth. The opening scripture shows the enemy’s strategy to point attention to kingdoms made of and built upon “sand” – sandcastles. What castle am I building today, the one on earth or the one forged upon ‘The Rock’ Christ Jesus spanning both earth and heaven?

 

The Heaven and The Earth – Part I

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1

He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is h&e2earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. John 3:31
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The Heaven and the Earth. Two simple words, yet so profound in meaning and purpose. One enduring forever, transcending time and space. The other bound by time, waxing old and eventually passing away.

Such are we. One part of us has access to the heavenly sphere, the other part anemic and earthbound. The God of Creation merged the two and spontaneously ignited lifeless, inorganic material with His spirit.

A Living Soul

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

The supernatural embraced substance, eternity cloaked herself in a garment fashioned by time, the Holy intermingled with earthly dust – the Heaven and the Earth.

Heaven and earth are united in His unique creation called “a living soul”. Never to die as the fowl of the air or the beasts of the field, but to live forever – somewhere. Heaven and the Earth embodied in unison, co-existing to experience oneness with the Creator of all:

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? Genesis 3:8-9

It is God’s desire to fellowship with His creation; an encounter between the heavenly and the earthly. It is on God’s earthly stage that the visible manifestation of the interplay between things that are eternal and the things that are temporal are acted out – God’s will-in-action, if you will. This interplay is recorded in what we know as the Bible – The Word of God.

God’s Word is the source code that runs the program we know as life on earth. Nothing escapes His eyes and no action on earth evades His awareness. Even the very birds of the air are under His command:

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Matthew 6:26

Did you catch the last part of that scripture? Sometimes we forget really how much Jesus is involved or wants to be involved in our lives. The Lord is more concerned about us than we will ever fully realize in this life. There is a God in Heaven who is keenly concerned about what goes on on this earthly theater:

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Our Choice

The question remains – which will we choose? Our actions are constantly weighed and tested. We make decisions daily between the heavenly or the earthly. The battle never ceases and it rages both on the inside and on the outside:

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Romans 7:23-24

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  I Peter 5:8

The Overcommers

But, there will be a reward awaiting those who choose to do what is right and live above the reproach of sin.

The word “Overcometh” occurs 11x in ten verses of the N.T. Eight of those verses are located in the Book of Revelation, a book written to describe the end of time. This is not a coincidence. Only overcommers will inherit eternal life; those who made deliberate and intentional heavenly choices over earthly alternatives:

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:6-7

The Lord did not create us to be robitrons or zombies forced to obey His commandments in autopilot. He gave us the gift of free will – the option of choice.

And true love can only be revealed from a human will that is free to choose. A love based on one relational non-negotiable – faithfulness. And faithfulness is proven how? By making consistent decisions that prefer one choice (and only one) above all others that compete and oftentimes combat to supersede.

The Lord has given us the liberty and the freedom to seek after the heavenly or the earthly. The choice is ours to make. And His grace is sufficient to keep us all on the right path that will lead to eternal life.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Coming next in Part II: Carbon or Christ?