Saturday, January 31, 2009

Polished Palaces, Part 2

Welcome back! In the last post I introduced the concept of becoming a polished palace. In this post I would like to dig a little deeper into our theme verse, and explore the concept of a cornerstone, as well as the building materials necessary to build a polished palace on the right foundation.

“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:”
Psalm 144:12

What is a cornerstone? It is the stone built into one corner of the foundation of an edifice as the actual or nominal starting point of a building. It is the chief stone in the foundation.

The Scriptures have many references to the cornerstone.

1. Christ is called the cornerstone.

Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

1 Peter 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

Ephesians 2:19 - 22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone. He is the foundation upon which we are to build our lives. Paul refers to this is 1 Corinthians 3 as he discusses the types of materials that can be used to build one’s life.

1 Corinthians 3:11-13 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

Our spiritual lives must be built upon the Chief Cornerstone. If we try to be a good person, or live a good, moral life apart from having a relationship with Jesus Christ, then we are building on the wrong foundation. Once Christ is in the center of your life, then you can start to use the materials described by the Apostle Paul to build your polished palace.

2. We have seen that Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone. Our theme verse compares us to cornerstones. How can we be cornerstones? I think that we are to be cornerstones in our homes. As wives and mothers we will have great influence over our husbands and children. What kind of a cornerstone are we? Do we have the right foundation ourselves, or are we striving to have a good marriage and raise good kids without the Lord?

Are we secure? The cornerstone was that by which was the building was made square. If you are not built upon Christ then you are re not stable and secure, and your building will not stand.

3. The Building materials are important. If I were the general contractor in charge of building a magnificent edifice, I would not get my materials from the dump or the junk yard. The quality of the materials used will play a part in the quality of the finished building. When I think of a polished palace, I think of smooth, polished marble and granite, sparkling gold and silver, soft velvet and deep, rich colors.

As Christian women we have a choice in the building materials we will use in developing our palace. 1 Corinthians 3:12 describes them as gold, silver, and precious stones; or wood, hay, and stubble. When I consider the quality of these two different groups of materials I see that one is imperishable, and the other is consumable. One is precious, and the other is economical. Once is expensive, and the other is cheap. One is beautiful, and the other is commonplace. By daily studying the Word of God and developing my intimate relationship with Him, He will help me to implement the correct type of materials in my life. What is done for Christ will have lasting, eternal value, and what is done in my own strength will be burned to dust.

When I was in high school I participated in a leadership development program at the Wilds of the Rockies Christian Camp in Kremling, Colorado. The teens in the program had extra sessions with the preacher during the camp week. I recall discussing the passage in 1 Corinthians 3 about our building materials. The preacher told us that every moment we were living in and operating in the flesh, we were sending wood, hay, and stubble up to heaven. It will be consumed in the testing fire when I stand before Christ. In contrast, every moment that is lived for Christ, and every activity that is performed for Christ and in His strength is making a deposit of gold, silver, and precious stones into my eternal treasure chest. It will come through the fire when it is tested.

What kind of materials are you using as you build your palace? Right now are you sending wood, hay and stubble up to heaven, or are you laying gold, silver, and precious stones upon your foundation? What kind of a cornerstone are you in your home? Are you grounded and firmly established on the foundation of Christ, so that you are an example to others? Take a moment to consider these questions, and to list some practical steps you will take to correct a wrong foundation or poor building materials in your life.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Polished Palaces, Part 1

“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:”
Psalm 144:12

Let us begin by examining the context of our key verse.

Psalm 144:11 – 15 Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: 12 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: 13 That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: 14 That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets. 15 Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.

Verse 12b is the theme verse for this blog. I want to begin by examining this passage, in which David (the author of this Psalm) describes the happy people. David pleads to be delivered from a society of vain words, dishonest dealings, and lying, a society that is strange or foreign to the ways of God. He desired the young men of his kingdom to be mature young men, and the ladies beautiful young ladies who are grounded in godliness. David asked God to increase the produce of their crops and herds, and that their work would be blessed. He desired to live in a place where complaining was not heard. This is the state of the happy people. They are happy because they are godly, prosperous, and blessed. This is a result of having God as you LORD.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in society that could fit that description? It starts with having God as your LORD. If you are unsure of your relationship with God, I invite you to
click here and learn more about Who God is, what He has done for you, and how you can know that your sins are forgiven. Once we are living in a right relationship with God, we can live our lives in such a way that we will fit the description above.

The phrase as plants grown up in their youth refers to a state of maturity. How can one be grown up when he is young? By acting, behaving, choosing, thinking, and living in a way that is fully grown and developed – that shows maturity and wisdom beyond what you would expect for one of such an age. I think our society today boasts a generation of immature young people. But when God is in the center of your life you can learn from His Word how to live wisely, and He will develop in you wisdom beyond your years.

As you sincerely pray the words of Psalm 25:4-5, “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day,” God will teach you. Psalm 32:8 promises “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Again, Psalm 119:66 – “Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.” James 1:5 promises that He will give wisdom to those who lack it in their trials, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

The phrase that really grabbed my attention in this passage is polished after the similitude of a palace. (Later I will go into more detail on how I believe this can be accomplished.) Have you ever seen a “polished palace”? A structure that your breath away and left you in awe of its richness, splendor, glitz, and beauty? I had the privilege to spend eight weeks in Spain for my missionary internship. While I was there I toured the Alcazar (Castle) de Segovia. This amazing structure was built to be used as a fortress, but it has also been used as a palace in the time since its establishment. The first reference to this castle dates to 1120. That is 889 years ago, yet the structure is still standing today! As I toured the castle I was in awe of its height, its size, and its sure foundation that allowed it to remain standing until this day. I could close my eyes and imagine the royalty that had lived within its walls. I could hear the rustle of fancy dresses as
they swished down the corridor. I could imagine the feasts and banquets that were held in the golden rooms. Although the castle might not be in a “polished” state today, I could imagine it in its splendor.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines polish as “to make smooth and glossy usually by friction; to smooth, soften, or refine in manners or condition; to bring to a highly developed, finished, or refined state.” I would like to be that kind of a lady! Sometimes God brings difficult situations into our lives so that he can polish us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. The process of friction, of smoothing, and of polishing may not be pleasant, but the results are worth it! When I stand before God I don’t want to just be an ordinary, bland palace. I want to be polished, as beautiful as I can possibly be, so that I look like Jesus!

What steps do you need to take in your life to allow God to polish you? Are there areas in which you need God to develop some maturity? Take a few moments and search your heart in prayer, asking God to show you what He wants for your life, and then humbly submit to His will.