Problematic Stones

hazy-water

Stones can be many things — colorful, hard, rugged, polished, precious, and numerous other qualities that makes them all unique and different. We’ve been studying about how stones are used in the Bible and about how Christ is the cornerstone upon which we build our lives and our faith. We went on then to study about our roles as living stones that build up our Savior’s church, as referenced in I Peter 2, and how the living water of Christ’s love smooths us out and forms us in His way.

To conclude this series, we’re going to look at how to avoid becoming dead stones. We know what it means to be living stones, but how can we begin to erode and crumble under the weight of this world? Are we being the smooth stones that Christ’s love shapes, or are we retaining sharp edges that can harm our fellow Christians?

Living Under a Rock

Have you ever used the expression, “What rock have you been under?” It usually refers to someone who seems out of touch in some important way. Moreover, what are we allowing to grow up under us as stones? Have we become a haven for negativity and harmfulness because we have grown stagnant in our spiritual development.

There are many forms a stone can take. I Peter 2:8 refers to Christ’s rejection being a stone of stumbling, but we can become stumbling stones for other reasons. Consider Romans 14 where Paul speaks about being stumbling blocks because we are holding each other to standards other than God’s. Instead of promoting peace, we create conflict and cause others to trip and fall.

Unmovable Stones

We can furthermore allow ourselves to stumble over the truth of Christ’s word. It might contradict our traditions. Christ’s word might simply say what we don’t want it to say. In that case, we become unmovable stones. It is a good thing to stand firm in the rock of Christ’s word, but we must beware of becoming so rooted in our own opinions and traditions that we don’t allow God’s word to move us. This kind of stone is also inactive. It’s there, but it’s not doing anything useful.

Jesus speaks of stony ground in the parable of the sower. We should be building up, but, if we’re just sitting in the ground, we are creating an area where nothing can grow. This sort of inactivity not only fails to support the church, but it actively hurts growth and development. We are called to encourage each other in unity, as living and active stones, to better build up the fellowship of Christ.

Sharp Stones

Some stones are harmful. They are sharp and abrasive. They are oddly shaped, and a stonemason will use a chisel to carve that stone into a useful shape. Likewise, our Lord should be reshaping and changing us so we can better fit together. We lose our hurtful qualities. We lose our abrasiveness and rough edges so we can better form His church.

As living stones, we have to be able to fit together. We come from various backgrounds and will all have various opinions on a number of topics. We will have different characteristics, and different ways of communicating. Putting that many people together will invariably cause problems, but we can fit together better if we allow God to reshape us and allow His unity to hold us together.

Stones and Death

Stones have also been used to seal tombs, as Christ’s was after the crucifixion. Stones seal away the dead. These stones live in the past, and we can’t be the type of stone that seals away life in favor of preserving  the past. This might look like traditionalism or defeatism. We have to be the type of stones that open up to life rather than preserve what is past.

Alternatively, stones can cause death. David used a stone to bring down Goliath. Stones were common tools of execution in ancient cultures. as in Deuteronomy 21 and 22.  We see this form of execution actually happen to Stephen in Acts 7:59. We can be stones that God uses to defeat Satan, or we can allow ourselves to be used to harm other Christians. Our words can be stones that harm others, or they can use words that build each other up. The type of stones you and I allow ourselves to be will inform how we let ourselves be used.

Reshaped Stones

God wants us to be living stones, entirely and completely submerged in His reshaping love and forgiveness. He wants to mold us into something better and more useful to His ministry. But it begins with you and I deciding to enter into that flood. It begins with totally giving ourselves over to Him so that we can each be what He would have us to be. His invitation is to come to the eternal fountain that will wash us and make us new stones, ready to be built into His kingdom.

lesson by Dawson Guyer

The Chief Cornerstone

hazy-water

Last time we were together, we looked at the importance of stones and rocks in God’s word, specifically using rocks as memorials. Today, we’re going to look at another rock, our chief cornerstone that is Christ. Isaiah 28:16 speaks of a foundation stone, a sure cornerstone, upon which God’s kingdom will be built. This chief cornerstone is the most solid foundation upon which we can build our trust.

A Solid Foundation

The cornerstone of the capitol building is over 24,000 pounds. It’s entire purpose is to keep the building straight and secure. The entire structure of that building, even additions to it, rely on that cornerstone being there and being secure. It is a stone that is tested and proven, and, for us, that tested and true stone is our Savior Jesus Christ.

Christ is the pillar and support of our hope, of our salvation, of our standard for truth. Any stone set by man will erode over time, but our cornerstone never changes or wears away. In Isaiah 28, Isaiah says that those who trust in that ultimate cornerstone will never be disturbed. Things may shake us and try to beat us down, but we will never completely fall as long as our faith and hope is in Christ.

A Perfect Architect

Psalm 118:22 says the rejected stone is the one who will become chief, and it’s God who put Him there. He is the foundation placed by the perfect architect. I John 1:5 describes this architect as all-righteous, and Psalm 102:25 – 27 tells us this is the God who laid the foundations of our world. He is all-knowing, unchanging, ever true, and perfectly righteous.

When we deviate from His plans, our structure will crumble. I Peter 5:7 says we should always humble ourselves before Him, so He may lift us up. We have to be willing to put His will before our own so that we may build a strong life upon the foundation He provides for us. He provides us with a cornerstone. God provides us with plans. It is ours simply to humble ourselves and obey.

In Christ Alone

In Acts 4:8, Peter makes the bold claim that there is no salvation except for in Jesus. Like the wise man in Matthew 7:24, we have to stand on the rock if our faith is to endure the storms and trials of this life. Ephesians 2:19 tells us we are built together on His foundation to be a holy sanctuary. If He is our foundation, His word is at the center of all we do. I Corinthians 10:1 – 4 tells us even Moses and the children of Israel found hope in the rock that is Christ before they ever new Him.

Christ’s position as cornerstone in our lives is more than a symbolic thing. It’s not something we simply point at as a token. Wearing Christ’s name is more than a label. If we are truly building our lives on Christ, that affects every aspect of who we are. If we are truly wearing His name, it changes who we are. He provides for us a sure foundation and a refuge of safety from the world. I Peter 2:6 tells us we will never be put to shame if we trust in the cornerstone. We may not know what our daily lives will bring us, but we can trust in a future with our Lord if we wholly trust in Him and the foundation He has laid for us.

lesson by Steve Jones

Written in Stone

hazy-water

Stones are important in God’s word. From early in the Bible to the final book, God places great significance on stones. One of the things stones serve as in the history of God’s people are memorials. Stones get placed in remembrance of something that happened at or near that location, and an early example of that is in Genesis 28:18. Here Jacob builds a stone memorial that will help Him remember God’s promises to Him, and God wants us to remember His promises today.

A Law in Stone

We sometimes refer to things as written in stone when we really mean it. In fact, James 5:12 tells us our word should be like this. If I make a promise, it is as if it is written in stone. Our promise is a memorial like that stone memorial Jacob built memorialized God’s promises. Genesis 31 sees Jacob build another stone memorial to seal a promise between him and Laban. Our promises and God’s promises are strong as the rock of the earth.

Later, when God’s people would build alters, God wanted them to use uncut stones. Their alters were to be built with stones as God made them, not fashioned with man’s hands. Likewise, God’s covenant with His people were written in stone, and they were handed down from a great stone — Mount Sinai in Exodus 19-20. Those stone tablets would remain in the ark of the covenant as a perpetual reminder of the promises between God and His chosen.

II Corinthians 3:7 tells us our new covenant is not written on physical stones. Rather, that covenant is on our hearts, and it should be written there every bit as securely as if carved in stone. The glory of the old law is nothing compared to the perfect law of liberty written on our hearts. He gives us a new covenant that transforms us into a new image. We become living stones upon which His promises are written.

Teaching Stones

Stones were to memorialize, and they were meant to be teaching tools as well. When Joshua leads the people across the Jordan River in Joshua 3 and 4, he has twelve people bring stones across to build a memorial. The purpose is to teach future generations what happened at that place. Think of the monuments and memorials spread around our country that allow us to teach our children what happened in our nation’s history.

We should be teaching others about what God has done for us. We should be teaching about Christ’s great sacrifice. We have a memorial we observe every week about that sacrifice. Let’s use it to teach each other the importance of what happened. As we use earthly memorials to teach about what others have done for us, we should be all the more passionate about passing God’s word and His promises on to our children.

Landmark Stones

Deuteronomy 19:14 is an example of using stones as landmarks. They mark boundaries and special locations. They should be unmovable and unchangeable. God’s word is that landmark to us, unmovable and unchangeable. Our standards do not alter because of changing standards in the world, nor do we move one word of God’s covenant with us. Christ died once and for all, and His covenant is set in stone.

We are under a new covenant that Hebrews 8 outlines as stronger and better than the one that came before it, and we are all the stones that help build the kingdom of the covenant. We are building blocks, and each of us is important to help each other keep His word, teach each other of His promises and deliverance, and help support one another. I Peter 1:22-25 tells us that our lives are like grass, but God’s word is forever. If we place our trust in that rock, though our lives are short, our hope endures forever.

lesson by Herb Smelser