January 12, 2004

Encouragement for Today

Character Counts ~ Part 1: Laying a Lasting Foundation

Renee Swope

Key Verse:

"I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice." Luke 6:47

Devotion:

Once upon a time there were three little pigs. Each pig had to build a house, so he could live happily ever after with his pretty piglet princess. Well, that wasn’t how the story went, but as a child it is how I always hoped it would go! Why couldn’t the first two pigs wise up and use better building materials so they could live happily ever after?

Each of the three little pigs built a house and each faced a storm. They were gone with the wind when the big bad wolf came huffing and puffing and blew their house down. All except the third pig who built with materials that would last. And every time the same lesson was learned: Be careful what you build with!

Jesus told a similar story in Luke 6:46-49. He described the choices every builder has to make. He described the ones who heard Him as builders. He promisd that if we listen to what God says and apply what we hear, we will build our house (or our life) on a solid foundation. He also warned that if we hear Him, but do not put do what He tells us, we are building a house (or a life) without any foundation. The first option gives us a house that will last the test of time. The second option is like building on sinking sand and that house will be washed away by the storms of life. Jesus tells us the same thing I wanted to tell those first two pigs, "Be careful what you build with, it determines how your story ends."

We are all building something. Brick-by-brick with the choices we make, we construct a life that reflects what is most important to us. The decisions we make and the accomplishments we celebrate tell our children, our friends and everyone around us what matters most. So, I guess we need to ask ourselves, "What am I building with? Whose words am I listening to as I lay a foundation for my life?"

The world will tell us to build our foundation with the materials of power, performance and prestige. Television commercials communicate that academics, athletics and appearance pave the way to success. But Jesus says the opposite. He describes a successful life as one built on the foundation of His word. He knows that academics, athletics and appearance will take us places, but only character will keep us there. All throughout scripture we find Him talking about the condition and character of our heart, because that is what matters most. Without the foundation of responsibility, perseverance, trustworthiness and patience— when the huff and puff of reality comes— the houses we have built will all come tumbling down.

Yes, the world looks at what we do, but God looks at who we are. He knows when we follow His ways and allow His word to shape us from the inside out, our character will be strengthened and our foundation made firm. Character is what counts in building a life that will last.

This is an important truth to apply in our own lives, and also to pass on to our children. You see we are not only building our foundation, we are laying groundwork for others to build on as well. We need to take time to tell our kids what matters most to God and then live out the truths of His word in our homes. Are you a parent? If so, you have little eyes set on your construction site. If not, you are probably being watched, too. So be careful what you build with, it will determine how your story ends!

For the next two days we are going to look at specific ways we can make character count

as we shape the hearts of our children and the heart of our home from the inside out!

My prayer for today:

Lord, I want to build a foundation that will last. I want to leave a legacy worth living. Teach me the value of your Word and ways I can apply it in my every day life. The world’s measuring stick tempts me away from the truest measure of success: to have a heart that reflects your character. Help me to hear your words and apply what I hear and lay a lasting foundation for my life and those that are watching me!

Application Steps:

Begin by identifying the materials (values) that make up the foundation your life is build upon. Ask God to reveal areas where His Word is not guiding your building process and look for ways to apply any truths He shows you.

Reflection points:

When I make decisions, do I try to impress others or please God?

Do I make most of my choices based on character or convenience?

If someone were to describe the foundation I am building on, what would they say?

What are some ways I can teach my children to build on the foundation of God’s Word?

Power Verses:

Psalm 119:59-60, I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. I will not hasten to obey your commands. (NIV)

Matthew 13:23, But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what is sown. (NIV)

Romans 12:2, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

Isaiah 42:20, You have seen many things but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing. (NIV)

Additional Resources:

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child ~ Character Chart, by Renee Swope
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/miningchart.html

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child ~ Seminar Cassette, by Renee Swope
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/miningtape.html