Sunday, February 26, 2023


Lifted unto a Rock

As we saw in last week's sermon, David used the metaphor of a rock when speaking of a place of security and strength. The relevance to the people of the llanos who lived through an annual flooding of their land was found in the name of their church building—La Roca Viva; The Living Rock. These people know by experience the meaning of a place of security and strength.

But David also wrote of a rock in another way. I am certain that the people of the llanos could also closely relate to this illustration of the rock.

For these people of the plains of Venezuela, when the rains began and their land became inundated with flood water, and the roads at best were reduced to muddy trails, getting from place to place usually involved a good amount of walking.

Also in David’s day of course, traveling from one place to another mostly meant going by foot.

In daily lives for these people of the llanos, good walking conditions are greatly valued, as they also were in the days of David. In these Venezuelan plains, where the people live much of their year struggling with the water and the mud, such things as a dry path becomes a luxury where one may walk without having to be on the guard constantly against slipping in the slime and the muck.

We all know that walking becomes much easier when the ground becomes dry. After a season of mud, or as in the case in northern climates, a season of ice and snow, it becomes a rare pleasure to walk without being constantly on the guard against slipping and falling. When applying this metaphor to one’s spiritual life, David wrote also of this:

I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me up from the pit of despair, out of the miry clay;

He set my feet upon a rock, and made my footsteps firm.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:1-3 BSB)

At the church of La Roca Viva, after our swim in the river with the piranhas (which I mentioned in the sermon last week), I sat with the pastor of the church. As he and I spoke together, he told me of some of the rewards and trials of the work that the Lord had given him to do in that place, and how life in general was living in the llanos.

As we talked, I could not help but notice his feet. We sat facing one another, a mere four of five feet apart, and he had feet like I had never before seen. He had no shoes on, so they were in obvious sight directly in front of me. I tried not to stare, but I could hardly avoid inspecting them. His feet were extremely rough and callused and had widened from walking bare-footed over many miles.

In those surroundings, it was not difficult to imagine those feet walking through the mud and the mire and trying to find firm footing. I could almost picture how pleasant it must have been for him and what a relief when finally, like the Lord did for David, God also gave the pastor a firm place on which to stand. When his path became dry, he walked with more confidence and his pace could quicken.

The Shoes with the Logo, “The Gospel of Peace”

But there was something else that I thought of when I saw the pastor’s feet. It was not only David’s words of being lifted out of the mud and having one’s feet set on a rock. The sight of the pastor’s feet also made me think of the words that Isaiah wrote long ago. Again, who can miss the application?

How lovely are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7; quoted also in Romans 10:15)

A wealthy person in a more affluent society may have been ashamed to show his bare feet in this condition. The feet of the pastor were feet that would not fit into Italian dress shoes. But these feet of the pastor needed no expensive shoes to make them beautiful. They were the feet of a servant who carried the good news to the scattered people of the llanos. This pastor was one of the instruments through which God could express his love for the people of that area of the world who sometimes had no other means to hear the Word of God from the outside.

The trials through which the pastor was required to pass turned out to be the means of bringing a blessing to the people of his area. Indeed, is this not also what David said when God had put his feet on a solid rock? I will again quote the verses we earlier saw, but this time I will put some emphasis on certain words of the text:

I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me up from the pit of despair, out of the miry clay;

He set my feet upon a rock, and made my footsteps firm.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

To Those Who Seek

We often speak of our need to seek the Lord. We think of verses such as Isaiah 55:6: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near,” or Luke 11:9: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

The book of Proverbs tells us that “Those who seek me diligently find me” (Proverbs 8:17).

God says directly to us, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Seeking the Lord is important. It is our responsibility to do what is in our power to seek the ways of the Lord. But there is another perspective in all of this. It is not only we who seek. God also has always sought and is always seeking. God is seeking out those who would come to him.

The Seeking Shepherd

Everyone loves the story of the lost sheep. It is a picturesque and bucolic story of a loving shepherd searching for a poor little lamb who has gone astray. It is a simple story. It is one that we tell our small children. But in its simplicity, this story speaks of a deep truth. God is seeking out those who are lost.

Remember that Jesus said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

God said, “Behold, I Myself will search for My flock and seek them out. As a shepherd looks for his scattered sheep when he is among the flock, so I will look for My flock” (Ezekiel 34:11-12).

From our perspective, we see the need to seek out the Lord. But from God’s perspective, that is, from the eternal perspective, he sees the people of the world as if we were a flock of scattered sheep who need to be sought and brought back into his care. The scattering came about because of sin. This is the great rebellion against God that began in the Garden of Eden and has continued to this day. It has had consequences far beyond what we sometimes imagine.

If you follow the entire story of the Bible throughout its pages, you will see a God who is seeking the lost. It is true that there are other aspects to God’s character that we learn about in the Scripture. We learn of his love for all that is good and his hatred for all that is evil. We learn of his promise of forgiveness to all who would ask it of him and we learn of his promise of punishment for all who reject him. We learn all of these things about God in the Bible, and many more things.

And among all of these characteristics of God, we also see a God who seeks: He is seeking for those who would be his children and part of his household in the heavenly kingdom.

Many people see God in the Old Testament as being concerned only with the nation that he began through the patriarch Abraham, that is the nation of Israel. Many people reading the Old Testament think that God chose only those people and was opposed to all other nations. Many people think that he established the nation of Israel as a means to destroy other nations.

But this was not God’s purpose. He wanted to destroy, and he will destroy evil, that is true, but this was not God’s purpose in calling out a nation. His words to Abraham demonstrate what was truly the purpose of God:

“I will make you into a great nation,” God told Abraham. “I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and through you, all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3 emphases added).

We see in this calling of Abraham that God will indeed reward good deeds and punish those who are opposed to good, but we also see a God who seeks. He is seeking to bless these scattered ones.

Our Seeking God

Go out, go out through the gates; prepare the way for the people!

Build it up, build up the highway; clear away the stones; raise a banner for the nations!

Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the ends of the earth, “Say to Daughter Zion: See, your Savior comes! Look, His reward is with Him, and His recompense goes before Him.”

And they will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of The LORD; and you will be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. (Isaiah 62:10-12 BSB)


For this is what the Lord GOD says: “Behold, I Myself will search for My flock and seek them out. As a shepherd looks for his scattered sheep when he is among the flock, so I will look for My flock.

I will rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples, gather them from the countries, and bring them into their own land. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines, and in all the settlements of the land. I will feed them in good pasture, and the lofty mountains of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in a good grazing land; they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.

I will tend My flock and make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bind up the broken, and strengthen the weak; but the sleek and strong I will destroy. I will shepherd them with justice.” (Ezekiel 34:11-16 BSB)

Sent to Seek

This sentiment of God to seek out the lost extends into the New Testament as well: “Go into all the world and preach the good news,” Jesus told his disciples (Mark 16:15).

I think that it is significant that at the Last Supper, on the night before Jesus would be brought to trial and to be crucified, that he girded a towel around his waist, poured some water into a basin, and then, one by one, he proceeded to wash the disciples’ feet.

I know that the main lesson that he was teaching on that night was that they should serve one another and serve others. Jesus told them, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).

But I also like the fact that he demonstrated this act of servanthood by washing their feet. These would be the feet that Jesus had commissioned to go out to proclaim the good news to all who would listen and believe. These would be the feet that would go out to seek those scattered sheep who were lost in the wilderness of the world. He was sending these disciples to seek the lost ones.

“And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” Paul writes. “As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, and who bring glad tidings of good things!’” (Romans 10 15)

Paul also urges us to put on what he calls “the armor of God.” Do we not remember that part of these instructions is to have our feet “fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace?” (Ephesians 6:15)

God is still sending those out who would preach the gospel of peace. This calling to go does not exclude our little Log Church of Tripoli. God has never intended that we huddle together every Sunday and stay within the confines of our church. This call to “go” also involves you and it involves me. 

The Pastor’s Feet

That pastor of the church in the llanos of Venezuela had feet like I had never before seen. They were calloused and had scars from cuts and wounds that had healed. They were feet that had become widened from walking on paths that were muddy and slippery, and also on paths that were rocky and hard. They were feet for which any shoe salesman would have a very hard time finding shoes that would fit.

They were among the most beautiful feet that I had ever seen.


How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7 BSB)


“Look to the mountains—the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; fulfill your vows.” (Nahum 1:15 BSB)


“With your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace…’Go into all the world and preach the gospel’” (Ephesians 6:15; Mark 16:15)

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