Life on the Rock
Life on the Rock
About five years ago, I was in Maryland walking down the hall of the church I worked at and stopped to chat with a coworker at his cubicle. It was a normal event on a normal afternoon. As we talked I felt a little funny. I seemed to have a dizzy flash. It seemed like the walls were moving a little. I felt startled and looked at him and I could tell he knew something was wrong. I wondered what might be happening to me, and then I realized… the walls were moving. We looked at each other and couldn't figure it out. People jumped up from their desks, and then someone yelled it “EARTHQUAKE!” I had no idea what to do. Finally someone shouted "everyone out of the building". With the ground trembling before us we made our way down the stairs and out the door. We got out safely but people were scared. Some were crying.
This was a new experience for me. I had never been through an earthquake. Never seen walls move. The most confusing thing about an earthquake is that every other event or threat in life seems to be solved by going inside. Rain, thunder, lightning, tornados, hurricanes: get inside and bunker down. I have been through those. But now in an earthquake the very thing you count on for security is threatened. It throws you into confusion. We all left the building and were outside under the concrete awning of the church. It could have fallen any moment. We had to see things from a different light. I discovered the thing that I had always trusted in suddenly was not worthy to be trusted. It let me down. I saw it in a new light.
We are talking about hope for the family. In family you go through the ups and downs with each other. You are going to go through seasons that you experience a shaking- a realization that what you thought, that what you trusted in, is not as trustworthy as you thought. It raises the question of what is worthy to build your life on. As we build family and relationships we need to make sure that we are building on what is worthy to be trusted.
Today we are looking at a passage that answers that question. We need hope for our families.
"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it." (Matthew 7:24-27 ESV)
Prop: Doing the words of Jesus is the rock we build our lives on and find security, so we must throw off all other foundations and build on this one.
If you are looking for a firm grounding that is where we find it in life.
Grounding for the Storms of Life
We are going to have shakings and storms, but if we keep our trust in him, we will not fall. There are storms in life. When you experience the storm don’t think something strange is happening.
Prepare now for the trials you will face in the future. Go deep in the word. Deep in knowing God. Go deep with others. Ask them the trials they have been through. Young people, grab lunch with some fathers and grandfathers in the faith. I bet they will pay for your lunch. And then you ask them about their life. What trials have they been through. (Don’t wait for discipleship to come to you. Go and seek it out. Learn from others.)
Life changes, storms change, but they are always present. You are going to be tested in school: can I really get all that work done, how am I ever going to find a college. You will be tested when friends don’t invite you to parties. You will be tested when you don’t get the job you want or get overlooked for the promotion. You will be tested when you don’t get married by the age you thought you would be married. When you are told you can’t have kids. Or when you are told you are fired at work. When you find out your baby has a birth defect and won’t make it. Those are storms. We all go through them. Wonder if people remember you or care about you.
In these storms there is a stripping down. You can often see your faith is built on the rock but there is a lot of mud between your feet and the rock. God refines us. The storms are mean to change us. The temptation in these times is to think there is a problem with God, but more it is with our understanding of him. We have frameworks in which we view God, ourselves and the world, and sometimes we need our frameworks changed. I could never get cancer. I will never get fired. God wouldn’t do that to me.
When you realize your pursuit of Jesus has not been what it should be.
It’s like moving into someone's house and you realize the couch won’t fit through the door. You can’t change the house so you adjust the furniture. Storms cause us to change and conform to God. The problem is that we want him to conform to us.
When everything is so flimsy what is worth trusting in? What do we build our lives on? We build our...
Life on the Word.
It's Jesus words that we trust. This parable might remind you of the story of the three little pigs. One builds a house of straw and it gets blown down, another builds with sticks and it is quickly taken care of. It’s the one who builds his house with bricks that withstands the threats of the wolf. He is the wise builder. We need to be wise, too.
If you want to build you life on a solid foundation, then you build it on Jesus' words. The one who created all things, who has planned all things for a reason has spoken to us so we can know what to do and how to live. That is mercy. Grace.
It’s not Dr. Oz, or Twitter, or whoever the latest and greatest teacher of our age is. It's not on Mueller’s report or who signed Kawhi Leonard. It’s in the words of Jesus. God has spoken to us through Jesus. It is his word we need to abide by.
It is in the word of God that we know God. Some people say the Bible is unnecessary today. That is not true. If there is no Bible there is no testimony to Jesus. Without his word there is no witness. No testimony. No revelation of God and his love. It has always been God’s agenda to preserve and mark, and hold responsible through a recorded word of his revelation. This is why Christians in the New Testament were devoted to reading it with others.
It immediately prompts the question - are you reading God’s word? Is it a priority in your life and is it a priority in your kids lives? It is staggering how illiterate most professing Christians are today:
Recent survey says ⅕ church goers don’t read the Bible at all.
surveys of children found many could not identify common Bible stories. Almost 1 in 3 didn't choose the Nativity as part of the Bible and over half (59 percent) didn't know that Jonah being swallowed by the great fish is in the Bible.
British parents didn't do much better. Around 30 percent of parents don't know Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, or the Good Samaritan are in the Bible.
To make matters worse, 27 percent think Superman is or might be a biblical story. More than 1 in 3 believe the same about Harry Potter. And more than half (54 percent) believe The Hunger Games is or might be a story from the Bible.
It's like saying you love football but you don't watch it. Like saying you are a shopper but don't shop. What is a Christian if you don't read and know the Bible. This is what we want to help others do and experience.
Take time to read the Bible in your family. Build your family on that. Take time to read through books of the Bible. Narrative books are great for kids. You may need to skip parts but read it. You will be amazed at what they pick up.
What stands out? What is going on in this passage? What is confusing?
What does it mean?
How do you apply it? What do you need to do, think, or believe?
Read the word. Hear the word. But also notice it is not just hearing the word. Two times in this passage it mentions doing the word. It is not enough to hear, or even to approve. Many have heard of Jesus. Many approve of what he said. Few actually do it. That is the difference in a true believer. They do. This section of Scripture has much pertaining to genuine faith.
Are we obeying God’s word or have we tuned it out?
In 1820 Thomas Jefferson completed his work "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth". With a razor and glue Jefferson had gone through the gospel accounts and chronologically arranged the teaching of Jesus. To go along with his deistic worldview Jefferson cut out everything miraculous (even if it meant cutting off a verse mid sentence). The morals survived even if the miracles didn’t and it was mainly Jesus’ milder admonitions. Jefferson edited out the parts of the Bible he didn’t like. We all may be appalled at Jefferson, and rightly so, but I bet most of us have a version of Jesus' teaching that we appeal to and a large section we have edited out.
You can hear about the need to read the Bible but do you do it? You can hear about the need to tell others about salvation in Jesus, but do you do it? You hear about the call to love your spouse sacrificially but do you do it? You hear about honoring God with finances but do you do it? The call to be baptized but do you do it?
*Jesus isn’t just important. He is first.* He is our foundation. We build everything on him. Don't say he is your rock and then you run out the door to build your house on something else.
We build on the rock. That is God’s words and ways. God first. Family second. It can sometimes be weird telling people that your spouse isn’t the most important thing in your life, that your kids are not the most important. As soon as you make them first, you invert the building plan, and it is destined to fail.
Are you in church just so that you can have obedient kids? We want the good Christian family, but really we just want the appearance of a good Chrstian family, and Jesus is a means to your worship of self. We want our kids in church but don't want them to get too carried away where they might go on a mission trip somewhere. Are we teaching our kids and building our families on the idea of a costly discipleship? It cost something to follow Jesus.
The most important thing you can give your family is your own personal passion for Jesus Christ. Build your life on his word. What commands of his do you need to follow? Which have you ignored. Talk with your kids about what to read in the Bible. Talk to them about how you can serve in church. Talk about who you are reaching out to and praying for. Do this with your friends. This is called being a chrisit.
In a few weeks life is going to get crazy again. Take the last few weeks to seriously consider how you are doing in your walk with Christ. Are you following his word? What are your spiritual goals? What do you want to stand before the Lord and boast about that you did? Now I know we won’t be boasting of what we have done. But we boast of skydiving, driving fast cars, swimming in secluded beaches. What about boast of I shared the gospel with this person, I went on a mission trip here, I gave this much money, I helped a church get started.
Also, evaluate where you are functionally. You can ask your kids what is important to you. They are going to say whatever it is that you never miss, that you are never late, that you spend your time on and that you think about.
The Great Fall
Jesus tells of a great consequence to those who do not adhere to what he says. Their fall will be massive. Jesus will return and judge people based on what they have done. Not on what they knew, but on what they have done.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Mat 7:15 ESV)
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' (Mat 7:21-23 ESV)
Trees known by fruit.
Wolves in sheep’s clothing will be seen for what they are.
How are we living out our faith? Do we live like following Jesus really matters? I think most Christians live like it’s not that big a deal. Our culture sends a message that it's ok to be religious, just don’t take it too seriously. We believe eternity hangs in the balance of following Jesus now. We have all rebelled and merit his punishment. Too many are too complacent. If you are not that serious about your walk with Christ then you could go to church or sleep in. Doesn’t really matter does it. Jesus doesn’t allow that.
If Jesus returned today what would you be embarrassed to have to give an account of? Is it the way you treat your spouse? Is it the way you followed him? Would you regret not having attacked sin in your life. Would you have read your Bible more and spent more talking talking about it with friends.
What are you committed to in life? That will show you what you are building your life on, and everybody has something at the foundation of their life. People are committed to television shows: I can't miss America’s Got Talent. Committed to the Falcons or Atlanta united. Grandpa hasn’t missed a game since 1998. And look, it is fine to enjoy things like that, but keep them in their proper place. Would people look at your life and say, “Wow, he is devoted to Jesus. He never misses church. Something happens in the office and he has a Scripture to share. He is reaching out to those who need help."
Let me say this about church. What does your commitment to church say about your faith in God. Do you believe God is living and active and in our midst? Commitment to giving, to building up the body, and reaching the lost.
Church as crux.
We want to be a church that we believe God is living and moving in our midst. We want to be a church that when we come we believe he is going to meet us and change us. And that as we bring our friends in God is going to work in them.
We want to see God do something awesome here. What is greater than seeing a place that very few people want to be at and seeing it grow into something that is changing people.
What is your view of the church? What is your view of God working in the world?
You can stay in the shallow, where no one will hurt you. It's safe and superficial. We want to go deep.
When you fall, come back to the rock. No one builds perfectly. No one goes through life without discovering the layer of mud between them and Jesus. When you fall, turn back to him, trust him. Do that to avoid the great fall at the end of life. Do that when you realize you have not been trusting in the rock.