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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? Ps. 11:3
Date Posted: March 4, 2022

When “the foundations” are referenced in scripture as being moved, shaken or destroyed, it’s sometimes in regard to a natural disaster or more likely as punishment from on high. In this instance, oppressors and wicked men are referred to, inferring that the destroyed foundations may be David’s sense of well-being and the comfort or security he feels in his surroundings; making him – at least temporarily – question who and what he has depended on in the past. His religious principles and political ideals were being challenged and the way he chose to apply them ridiculed. Uncharacteristically, he’s not sure how to respond.

Sometimes things don’t work out and it’s our fault. We say and do some pretty stupid things occasionally, making failure and ridicule inevitable. At other times, despite our best intentions and effort, things just don’t work out as well as we hoped and thought. And then there are those who, because of disbelief, dislike or distrust, hinder our every move and challenge everything we try to do. Periodically, we face trials and tribulation that has nothing to do with our behavior or the antagonism of others, but comes our way as a result of our living in a less than perfect world due to it’s “fallen” state. All of which is unsettling, causing uncertainty, fear and occasionally panic. We don’t know what to do or who to trust; hardly the situation to foster decisiveness or bold action.

But the next verse of Ps. 11hints at what can settle our nerves and stiffen our resolve. “The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne.” In other words, regardless of our present circumstances, God is still in control. In spite of what others think and say, “...God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows who are his,...”; recognized by their confession of faith and faithfulness to His word. 2 Timothy 2:19 “Righteousness and justice (being) the foundation of (His) throne,...” Psalm 89:14 The expectation then being that righteousness and just dealings with our fellowman will be a cornerstone of our lives as well. (See Matthew 23:23)

Having our “foundations” shaken from time to time is inevitable and, at times, beneficial. We avoid complacency by periodically examining our traditions, beliefs and doctrine. But it’s rarely enjoyable. That’s why scripture repeatedly encourages individual believers and the church as a whole to, “Be strong and courageous.” Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and very courageous. (Part of which is accomplished by living according to the words of the “Book”, meditating on what it says and aligning ourselves with God’s will.) “...that you may be prosperous and successful wherever you go.” Again, the confusion, discouragement and fear life sometimes throws at us being alleviated by the fact that, “...the Lord will (then) be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-9 (See also Exodus 14:13 & Matthew 10:22)

As Christians, we are assured that, “...the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” But we are equally assured that if we are, “...self-controlled and alert.. Resist(ing) him (and) standing firm in the faith.”; we will be delivered and restored. ( 1 Peter 5:6-9) Paul exhorting us to, “...stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 Those teachings being, “...the word of the Lord (which) stands forever.” 1 Peter 1:25

A better pattern of living can hardly be found – outside of Christ – than Paul; who found peace, purpose and contentment in, “...consider(ing) everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” Philippians 3:8 Having, “...learned to be content whatever the circumstances... in need... and plenty... well-fed or hungry...” Through all these experiences gaining confidence in Christ and realizing that, “I can do (or endure) everything through (Christ) who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 So much so that he could declare, “...I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in difficulties. (Seen as opportunities for Christ’s power to settle on him and more completely control his life.) For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9,10

Likewise Peter, constantly blundering into controversy, however well-intentional he meant to be, and continually being corrected by his Lord. Ultimately, through all the new experiences, challenged assumptions, corrected behavior, up-ended tradition and change of occupation: he became the first Apostle to the Gentiles, a beloved shepherd to his sheep, a revered founder of the church and a humble servant of his Lord. Through it all, learning to “...make very effort to add to (his) faith, goodness, …knowledge; …self-control; …perseverance, …godliness; …brotherly kindness; …and love.” His life proving, “...if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive...” 2 Peter 1:5-8

These men, and others like them, learned through heartache, hardship and trial and error, what seemed to come naturally for Mary; Jesus’ mother. A young, unmarried girl, confronted by an angel with words that “greatly troubled” her. She would become pregnant and give birth to a son, whom she was to name Jesus; her pregnancy and delivery occurring before her marriage to Joseph to whom she was betrothed. She was assured her pregnancy would be the result of the Holy Sprit’s miraculous working through her to bring about the birth of God’s Son and salvation to all men. (Try explaining that to your parents.) After some tense moments of confusion and fearful anticipation of the rumors and disapproval to come her way, she replied “I am the Lord’s servant...”, and accepted her fate/destiny – now seen as a glorious opportunity – with joy and praise. ( John 1:26-49)

Her courage, resolve and dedication to a difficult task was later mirrored – although belatedly – by Jesus’ disciples. Having left jobs, families and friends, “betraying” their traditional beliefs and allegiances, they were suddenly at a total loss as to what to think or do when Jesus turned out to be something other than what they expected. At least at first. But after seeing his resurrected body and being assured and consoled by his undying love for them, they found the courage to wait expectantly for whatever would happen next. Which is exactly what they were told to do; go to a certain place and wait for a blessing. Just doing what you know to do at this moment often being all the instruction you’ll get – for now. As a result of their prayerful obedience in this one thing, they were then blessed from on high and empowered, in a few short years, to turn the world upside down. (See Acts 17:6 KJV) Exemplifying the characteristics Paul called for in his letter to the Corinthians. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do(ing) everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

Check back next week for more on what the righteous can do when all about them seems shaken and unstable.

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (50 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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