It's important for us to have a strong foundation for the house we are building in our lives with Jesus.
All right, exhale. This is about extend and expand. We’re talking about the idea of growth and enlargement. That’s where we started the year and we’re just building on that. Last week some of you recall that we talked about how the way of Jesus was not something that was supposed to be joyless, but joyful. How He taught us that following Him was to be like a wedding and was to have a life in it. Now, I want to talk about something close to that, but also a little bit connected, not just the way in which we are supposed to approach life joyfully for Christ. But I want us to think about our life, I want to talk about the metaphor that Jesus used for your life and mine. I want to talk about the house we are building and the significance of the foundation and what that means.
Some people think that of all the teachings that Jesus gave us, the one that we’re about to look at in terms of its larger context was the most beautiful of them all. Certainly comprehensively, nothing can really match what is known as, and what Bible theologians call the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount covers three chapters, at least in Matthew’s gospel. It covers chapters five through seven. It just gives us this panoramic view of the kingdom of Jesus and what it really looks like to live a life, a life that is truly life for God. There’s so much in here. It’s almost like a giant. It contains all these wonderful truths. If you were to look at the Sermon on the Mount, this message that Jesus gave by the Sea of Galilee, looking down on those waters, there’s a mount that you can go to. Many of us went to it a couple of years back, actually just last year, a little before last year. We went, it’s called the Mount of Beatitudes.
You can get a sense of where the disciples and all these crowds would have been. How Jesus would have talked, overlooking the beautiful pastels of the Sea of Galilee. But these words just live on through time. In the message itself, there are things that many of us would recognize. You had things like the Beatitudes. Jesus talks about the attitudes that we are to embrace. The beautifuls, the Beatitudes, the blesseds, as they’re called, blessed are, blessed are. In that message, He includes the Lord’s Prayer. That’s in that same message. There are also things like the golden rule. Someone says, well, what’s the golden rule? Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you. That’s essentially part of his message. There is a lot of other really amazing things that Jesus says. It’s almost like you’re looking at this mountain range and it’s got certain peaks that just step out and demand our attention. People have marked those peaks for generations.
If you were to look at the very farthest one that stands out, the one at the very end of the message, it would be the one that we’re about to look at. It’s right here. It’s his conclusion. It’s the final peak, if you will, that we are gazing at. It’s really what the Lord tells us is essential about building a life. So if you can, let’s look at this together, Matthew 7:24. The words are in your handouts, follow along with the scripture here. It says, “Everyone who hears these words of mine,” Jesus said, “And does them, will be like a wise man, a wise person. A wise man, a wise woman who builds their house on a rock. And the rains fell,” Jesus said, and the floods came and this storm whips up and it’s so powerful. He says, “The winds blew and they beat on the house, but it didn’t fall because it had been founded on the rock.”
Then Jesus says, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them though, will be like a foolish one who built their house on the sand. When the rain falls and the floods come, the winds blow and it beats against that house, it’s going to fall. How great is that fall?” Then again, imagine if you were part of that listening audience and we were there and Jesus was saying all these things. He comes to this point, “And great was the fall of it.”Then he says, “Nothing.” That’s His word, that’s how he ends the message. “And great is the fall of it.” And it’s in their mind’s eye, the whole thing collapses, end of story. Again, it’s a reminder as we sit here at the outset of the year of things, isn’t it? It’s like, Jesus is saying,, “If you build your life on anything other than me, in the end, it will not last.”
I have a couple of things I’m going to be putting up on the board. I’m doing it a little differently. I’m not going to put them all towards the end. I want to just put this one up to start with. This is especially for those of us who take the notes and talk about it in our small groups and things like that or just write and ponder. Our life is like a house that’s being built. One of the things Jesus is telling us here is a suggestive and compelling metaphor, I want you to think about it. He’s saying your life is like a house being built stone by stone, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year until we run out of years.
Do you know what’s interesting? Take it for what it is. I shared this message twice already. This message went all the way to the Reardon Campus. But in between the message that was shared at the 10:30 service and now, somebody came up to me in the middle space, and again, I’m stunned by the things we’ve been wrestling with here in the scripture. You’re going to see it. They said to me, “Pastor, did you hear the news?” I said, “What?” He said, “Kobe Bryant just died.” Exactly, that’s what I said, in a helicopter crash. I was stunned just like some of us evidently are very stunned because he was a cultural icon. I said, “Are you sure? Are you sure?” We went back there and everybody’s showing me different stuff. It seems to be true. I guess that catches our attention because, for us, he’s so well-known. It seems as if, how could that happen to someone, 40, I think 41 years old?
Things like that actually, hit us sometimes in waves. It’s a reminder of sometimes the illusion of what really matters in life. How sometimes we miss prioritize what’s really important. That what Jesus taught us about what was truly life and actually the most important things, really does show up at certain times when we’re forced to look at it for what it is. It makes everything that we’re about to look at here even more meaningful to me. I look at this and say, “Our life is like a house being built.” We’re all builders, we’re a work in progress essentially. So I ask the question, what kind of house are we building? I’m talking about our life. What kind of house are we building? Is the emphasis on the right place? Will it endure? Is it built to last? Can it carry us into the next life across the great divide? Is that house capable of doing that?
There are real questions that we need to ask and ponder. For life as Jesus taught us is more than food and raiment, more than experience and entertainment, and more than power and achievement. I’ll say that one more time. Life as Jesus taught us is more than food and raiment, more than experience and entertainment, and more than power and achievement. Look at the other side of the column in the handout there, Matthew 6:31. He said this in the midsection of his message. He says, “Therefore in light of this do not be anxious saying, what shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?” He said, “For the Gentiles.” He’s talking about, in this case, he uses the Gentiles to talk about the cultural pacesetters. “The ones who set culture, they seek after all these things, but your heavenly father, he knows what you really need. He knows that you need them all, but I tell you.” Jesus said, “Don’t get stuck in the wrong place.” Don’t put the accent in the wrong place. “But I tell you, seek first the kingdom of God. Seek first, the loving realm of the Lord and his righteousness. Do what is right in his eyes, then all these other things, they will fall into their place in your life.” But make sure we’re focusing on the right things. It’s a very different message than what we hear. By the way, look at that again at the 31st verse, do not be anxious. Man, do we live in an anxious time. A lot of us, a lot of people do. Because I have a lot of different people who have different things that they’re having to struggle through in life, frequently anxiety is one of those things, isn’t it? We see this happen a lot.
I’m around, now more and more. I’m reading about it all the time, how anxious sometimes people are. We have so much technology and so many things that you would think, oh, we’ve got a lot of nice things and all kinds of things that people can have. Yet you would think that in a time as prosperous and as amazing is like this one, that people would be more at peace, but they are less at peace. I’m reading more and more about how people are crippled with anxious thoughts and a lot of pain. There’s a reason why people get into addictive habits. A lot of times, it’s just the culture invites us into these places and we get stuck. The Lord is reminding us not to be anxious, not to have anxiety.
I’m reading about it and I’m thinking, Lord, what’s going on here? This shouldn’t be this kind of epidemic. Why are people taking their lives? Why are there so many anxious, stressed out, and needing medication? It seems like an epidemic in our culture at a time when culture is so prosperous and has so much. Yet it seems like there’s so much struggle to have peace of mind. One of the things God talked about and Jesus taught us was that He had come to give us peace with God. Yes, a relationship with Him at peace to settle that. Peace with one another, relational capacity, and then peace of mind. This is a cultural grip with a lack of peace of mind. God wants to teach us how to have a faith that is really able to walk through life. Remember, I talked about it last week.
I said, the Lord wants to teach us how to have a highly adaptive faith that is capable of exceptional resilience. A faith that is able to take and deal with things in ways that don’t just destroy us, beat us down. I think a lot of times what happens is when we look at this passage and we think, the Lord is reminding us not to grip so hard. The Lord isn’t saying, you really want to be spiritual then, just don’t even think about what you’re eating, and don’t even bother with hygiene. Forget your clothes, it doesn’t matter. He’s not saying, “Hey, the uttermost spiritual thing is someone who just totally could care less about everything.” He doesn’t say that. He’s just saying, “Don’t let those things be where the accent of your life is.” He’s not saying it’s wrong to exercise, take your vitamins, or want to take care of yourself.
There is nothing wrong with achieving and pursuing a goal. Even acquiring things, there’s nothing wrong with that. He wasn’t saying that those things are, how we say, illegitimate. What He was saying was don’t make that the sum total of your life. Don’t make that the biggest thing in your life. Don’t get stuck and think that’s real life when it’s not. Those things will pass away. No matter what I do, I can’t keep this body, it’s going to leave, I’m going to leave it. It’s a tent, can’t last forever, not like this. I can scrape and I can be the best investor ever. I can achieve power and resource. I can have multiple assets everywhere. I’m not taking them with me, in fact, I don’t even know how they’re going to end up being used. I can think I have a say, but I really don’t. I don’t control anything. Do you know what I’m saying? Jesus is reminding us, don’t get stuck, don’t get consumed, don’t get stuck things. They’re not all bad, they’re just minor compared to the major. What is the major?
Your relationship with God, that’s what He’s saying. That’s the one you need to give attention to to build your life on a true foundation. I’m looking at that, and I’m saying, Lord, remind me of that, it’s not to be like the culture to find success. No way, it says, “The Heavenly Father defines it through Christ.” When we do that, when we do it His way, life works better. I’ve seen a lot of unhappy people who have a lot of things. I’m not against things, just don’t worship things. I’m not against power, achievement, and fame. Let’s not worship that as the supreme goal of life. It will pass. We are living illustration, today. This is a fragile thing, our life, but let’s shift back to the metaphor. We’re talking about the ecology of God. The way He set up things. God’s ecology is as real as our ecosystem, the stars above, the planets, gravity, and the law of gravity is real, it works.
It’s interesting because Jesus is describing it like this. He says, “Your life can be one of two things. It’s going to be like two houses are being built.” He says, “one’s on a foundation of sand. One’s on a rock and it’s easier to build on sand than a rock. Sand gets washed away, rock not so much.” C.S. Lewis said in one of the great books ever, for anyone who’s truly seeking after God, this book, Mere Christianity, “There are a lot of things you can do with sand, but don’t try to build a house on it.” That’s so simple but so good. Oh, and you know the context that he was making. If you actually read the context, he’s talking about relationships. He’s saying, “You need to be thankful for the special people in your life. Honor the ones that have made the most significant contribution and who are your greatest blessing.” But he says, “But never try to substitute them for God because they’re human.”
The context of that statement is about being careful about making a relationship more than it’s supposed to be. So think about, even in the context of what we’re talking about. Things, don’t put things above God, but also people. Even people we love, respect, and admire. No one is supposed to take the place of the Lord nor can they. We will set ourselves up, which is building on sand. That doesn’t mean don’t value our most beautiful relationships. I say far from that, we were taught by Jesus to love them and to love well. In the end, the rock is Christ. He or she who hears these sayings of mine and does them, this is the one, I will liken them to the one who builds their house on a rock. The key to our success in life is always connected to our foundation. What is our life built on?
What did Jesus teach us? He said, basically this, “That if we build our life on the rock, then we’re going to be highly resilient people. Because remember what he says, “When the storms hit.” He said, “The wind and the rain, it’s like a typhoon coming.” It’s heading your way. He says, “You know it, and I know it.” Some of us are very young in life. Some of us have lived many decades, but you know what? We all know this, storms hit life. Things hit us out of nowhere. Some things we see coming and we have time to prepare a little bit for it because we sense it’s coming. Other things, we didn’t see it and it hits us hard. What happens when that happens? Because in life, it will happen. I was preparing for another message. There was one, I’m thinking about doing.
I want to put something together around the Parable of the Good Samaritan and I was reading it. I was talking to my wife, Cheryl about it. I said, “You know what’s interesting? It’s because of the way Jesus describes that story, there’s this man on the road to Jericho and he’s walking around the bend, the Samaritan. He turns the corner of this road. All of a sudden he sees a man bloody, half-dead on the side of the road. He has to make a decision. As Jesus describes it, on this day, he didn’t know on this day, what was coming around the bend, hitting him with life. But at that moment, that day changed and he had to make a decision. Life hits us unannounced.” I tell you this, this year I had a plan in my mind. I shared with you my plans in some ways.
Yet when it started to play itself out, stuff I didn’t see coming started coming from the left and the right and it altered my plan. Storms hit, crises hit, what are we building when it hits? What we build when it’s not stormy, matters a ton when the storm hits. It may be a relational storm, it may be a personal thing inside of us, a crisis that hits us, that rocks our world, shakes us. I don’t know, I come in around the bend and all of a sudden I’m looking at it and I’m thinking, “What am I going to do about this?” In those places, what we’re building, matters a whole lot. This was the same message that Jesus was giving in the Sermon on the Mount.
Look what He said, some of this I’ve heard and I’ve read this verse before. Really looking at it, it means, even more, today. “Do not lay up for yourselves.” Jesus said, “Treasures on earth where moth and rust they can corrupt. Thieves can break-in and steal it. No, I tell you, be rich towards God and lay up for yourselves, treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can decay it. Thieves can’t break through steal it from you. No not even the turn of an economy, nothing. For where your treasure is, where your truest sense of treasure is, that’s where your heart is going to be.” Jesus was reminding everybody that we are to challenge the things that we build our life on. This is not an anti-well statement, it’s not an anti ambitious statement, but rather, what He is saying is where is the accent of our life? Where is our real sense of security, our truest sense of identity? The other things we cannot hold them indefinitely.
Are we compassionate? Are we generous? Are we lovers of God? Do we love our neighbor? What do we love most? Does our life line up with what we say we love most? Are we trying to grow? Are we cultivating a vital optimism? Are we serious about growing in the Lord? Is there a growing edge to our life? Are we learners? Or we want to be a blesser and we want to be better at trying to challenge things in our own heart. Are we not just simply conceding territory, but trying to grow as a man or a woman. This is important in the lure, these things matter. This is huge. Again, I look at this, and I think, “Oh God, right?” What did Jesus teach us here? Hearing, listen, is not enough. What did he say, “Doing.”
Hearing is good, but it is not enough, doing is required, Jesus says, “Or it won’t work, right.” If I simply know the principle and admire it from afar, it won’t work right. It has to be implemented. I think it was the late Keith Green, who was a poet, writer, and singer when I was just a teenager. I remember I was so excited to go to one of his concerts because he would say stuff and sing. I remember one time where I got to see him. He was in this church and I was just enjoying what he was saying. Then all of a sudden he says, “The most neglected word in the bible is a two-letter word.” I said, “What is that word? It’s a two-letter word, do.” I said, “Ah, yes, yes.” I don’t mean that we’re always going to get it right. Earnestness, sincerity, and right intentions as good as they are can not carry the day.
God wants us to not just be hearers but doers. Again, the Christian life is gritty, it’s designed to be lived out. You wrestle, I’ve never seen any growth that happens easy. Think about the image of a seedling coming through the ground. You ever see those ones that they do in slow motion time where they just, I don’t even know, remember the right word for it. But they are able to show you see the seed push through the seedling, push the soil, and push out of the soi. I’m reminded that growth requires something breaking. There’s a breaking, it’s growth. That’s how God wanted to grow new things in you and me. You see it in your soul growing out of the ground, a new thing and that means being honest about flaws, failures, and sins. Not just speaking a good game, but really being honest about where I’m at with the Lord. Wanting to grow and be around others who want to get better. Praying for one another and confessing my faults.
One, being honest about things God’s trying to correct me on. This happened to me a couple of days ago. It was Friday. It’s not really bad or anything like that, but I totally mishandled the situation. I don’t know why I did it, but I just way overreacted. I got angry. You know what, it’s one of those things where maybe you can relate. While you’re doing it you know you shouldn’t be doing it. You’re asking yourself, why am I doing this right now? Yet my pride, my past patterns kicking in and knowing at the same time, I’m going to have to come back around and own this with a person that I love. I’m in the wrong. Lord, I can, I know you know this, and I’m failing you right now. I just don’t like what I’m doing, but that’s about being honest with yourself in Christ, right?
That’s about trying to say, “Lord, I want to wrestle to get better. I want to be better. I want to, but I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to give myself a pass. I need to go be humble, I need to humble myself. I don’t even know why is this so hard for me to humble myself, but it is. Am I do it because I love you and that’s why I’m going to do it. I know that if I don’t own certain things, they’re going to have power over me. I don’t want them to have power over me. So I’m going to own it. I’m going to ask for forgiveness.” That’s what we do. It was part of living out our life in Christ, building our life on the rock is something that is going to require an authenticity that is going to show up in the everydayness of our life.
That’s what we talk about, living out our mission, that’s our church mission statement, right? To live out our faith in Jesus and invite others into life with him. Well, living out my faith in Christ, that requires effort, intention, and commitment on my part. If I do that, then God’s going to open up stuff for us. All of a sudden, now I’m part of a great adventure. Every turn on the road at some time has a potential opportunity for something to show up that I wasn’t seeing. Because God sets up a divine appointment. I had a situation, a neighbor, who I’ve never probably talked to for, I don’t know, much beyond hi and hello, for years. Yesterday, I was in my car, I ended up having a two-hour conversation that I had to end. I was thinking about that. I was thinking, what happened here, Lord? If nothing else, there was a conversation. Through it and around it, I could talk a little bit about the Lord, not a lot.
Then I was in the cornerstone cafe area. If some of you haven’t noticed, there’s this wall there from Vision Sunday. Where we had the sow, water, reap, and the names of people that many of us wrote down that we wanted to see God work in their life. We took a pen, one of those stickers, and we wrote their name down. We said, “By faith, I pray into this person’s life.” I was just looking at it before the nine o’clock service. I was looking at it and all of a sudden, in my mind, ‘what did you do yesterday?’ Now I’m getting ready for the message and I was thinking, well, what I did yesterday was I had a conversation with the neighbor. Then I looked at the board and I looked at the piece of paper and I said, “I’m supposed to write his name down and put it on that wall.” I did by faith in Christ, your name my friend is on the wall.
When our foundation is firm we can extend our reach. It’s one of the things I’m trying to do this year. A lot of us got the sow, water, reap wristbands at the Vision Sunday. If you lost yours, you don’t have one, you didn’t get one, you can pick one up. We’ve got some left, you can have one. This is just a goal that I’m doing. I’m inviting you to join me If you’re interested. Every Sunday that I come, I’m going to try to wear this for the entire year. I’ll probably have to wash it a few times, I agree with that. I’m going to try to do it as a reminding mechanism of what I want to see God do in my life. I want to encourage some of you to jump in with me on this. We’re basically one month down. So we’ve got 11 months ago. Sow, water, reap, a reminder of what do we want to see God doing.
Not only in our church, but in our own hearts. Seeds being sown, watered, and reaping a harvest that’s going to bless many people. The last thing I’ll say is that there should be if we’re serious about it, we need to have a daily, weekly, and seasonal building plan. Again, when it comes to a building plan, we need to have a daily, weekly, and seasonal building plan. I’m going to leave up the next piece for a little longer in case you want to take a shot of it because it’s going to be a little bit more extensive. But let me tell you how I understood this and I’m going to leave it with all of you.
I think anybody who’s serious about building a life in Christ is going to have some of these components in it. There needs to be a dailiness in it. As Jesus taught us, give us this day, our daily bread. The Christian life that is being built on the rock has a daily component to it day by day, a little at a time. So the Lord is on my mind at different parts of the day. It may not be all the time, clearly, but there are moments where he’s not that far away and he can interrupt my mind. You know why? Because it’s a relationship. A relationship that shows up in a daily way. It’s one of the reasons why we started Rise and Shine. It was to help create a mechanism for everyone to engage. People are using that and some are speaking their word, getting more in the scriptures, doing devotionals, and training with other people.
I’m growing on a daily basis trying to make sure that I’m not living my life disconnected from the Lord. The Lord is not on the margin, He’s in the center. Not on the margin and then on top of that dailiness, because Jesus said it and the apostle said this, didn’t he? “Though my outer man is perishing, my outer person is perishing. Yet my inner one is renewed day by day. Is that happening? Please lord, let me spend a little time with you every day. It may you, may your thoughts be on my mind.” Always keep Him on your mind. Weekly, like we’re doing now, the one in seven. You know what you’re doing, right? We’re worshiping, yes. But we’re also looking at our life, we’re reminding ourselves, we’re reassessing, we’re honoring The Sabbath principle, God set it in motion. Think about it, with the nation of Israel, He gave them things that they weren’t to do. Then He said, “But make sure you do this.” As your life is not defined just by work and activity.
Make room to look at your life and look at me through the lens of rest and recreation, create space. That’s what we’re doing. A building block of the healthy Christian life is gathering together in the one in seven. We pause to rank space. I hope we carry that out a little bit and push it further. We’re thinking about our lives and our priorities. We’re making room for long thoughts and saying, “God, search me, look at my heart. Is there something you’re trying to bring to my attention?” Then that connects to the other piece there. What is it? Do you see it? What is the seasonal thing that God is trying to do? What season are we in? Sometimes we get a sense that we’ve transitioned in life to a new season. Or we may feel or know that we’re about to go into a new one. Every season has these unique opportunities and focus points in the Lord.
There are purposes that God is trying to achieve in our lives at particular seasons of our life. Some seasons are far more selfless, others we’re giving. I can think of a young parent, that’s a selfless season where the children become a priority of that season. I can go on and on about what is a seasonal assignment. Sometimes God’s saying this season, you are to work on this area of your character as a priority. Like this pattern that’s been passed down, through what I was talking about earlier, that when the heat is on, why do I do that? Why do I do that? There are things that God’s trying to say, “You know what? This is the season where I want that to come to a close or be managed a whole lot better than how it’s been. I’m calling you to a new dimension of increase in growth and expansion in your life with me.
In order for that to happen, you’re going to have to train and set up your life. Reposition it in a different way. That’s going to require thinking long thoughts. Assessing, being prayerful, and looking at the things that really matter. Again, we have all kinds of time. We have time to be entertained, but this is real life. It’s not the game. It’s even more important, it’s real life. It’s more important, even the work. According to Jesus, we get to choose what we want to line up with Him or not. It’s the most important thing. Think about it, in life, I have an arc. My life has an arc. Sometimes that arc is shorter than what people think it should be. Sometimes it’s long. But in it, we have an opportunity to honor God with it. What are we going to do?
I’ll leave it with this. I was telling my wife, I said, “For some reason last night I’m thinking of Victor Hugo and what he said. What was that thing he said? He was an old man. He said, “Winter is on my head. But spring, eternal spring is in my heart.” I said, “Well, hun.” She goes, “Winter isn’t on your head.” I said, “But it’s on my beard. It’s on my beard.” I said, “Winter is on my beard.” No, I didn’t say that, but the idea was I want spring in my heart.
I want that for you too. Let’s pray. Then we have a quick time of giving. Lord, we come into this closing, these closing minutes, honoring you, yes. But also just bringing our thoughts in mind together and to just enjoy and contemplate the final word, it’s bringing us to a place where we can sit with what you’ve been trying to say to us. So let’s not be in a hurry. Let’s just finish this well. We ask for your blessing. Bless our time as we close this service. Thank you for what we’ve shared. Keep us young in our hearts Lord, and love with you, in Jesus’ name, amen God, amen.