Scripture: Matthew 7:21-29 (alternate reading: Luke 1:5-17)
21 "Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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?' 23 And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' 24 "Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon 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." 28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Meditation: If you could foresee a threat to your life
and the loss of your home and goods, wouldn't you take the
necessary precautions to avoid such a disaster? Jesus' story of
being swept away by flood waters and wind storms must have caught
the attention of his audience who knew that terrific storms did
occasionally sweep through their dry arid land without any warning
signs. When Jesus described the builders who were unprepared for
such a life-threatening storm, he likely had the following proverb
in mind: When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but
the righteous stand firm for ever (Proverbs 10:25).
The only foundation that can keep us safe
What's the significance of the story for us? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms and trials of life that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool one another with our words, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is - with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2).
There is only one way in which a person's sincerity can be proved, and that is by one's practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we must choose between what is true and false, good and evil. Do you cheat on an exam or on your income taxes, especially when it will cost you? Do you lie, or cover-up, when disclosing the truth will cause you pain or embarrassment? A true person is honest and reliable before God, neighbor, and oneself. Such a person's word can be taken as trustworthy.
Christ is the only rock that can save us
What can keep us from falsehood and spiritual disaster? If we make the Lord Jesus and his word the rock and foundation of our lives, then nothing can shake us nor keep us from God's presence and protection. Is the Lord Jesus and his word the one sure foundation of your life?
"Lord Jesus, you are the only foundation that can hold us up when trials and disaster threaten us. Give me the wisdom, foresight, and strength of character I need to do what is right and good and to reject whatever is false and contrary to your will. May I be a doer of your word and not a hearer only."
1 O God, the heathen have come into your inheritance; they have
defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food, the flesh of your saints to the beasts of the earth.
3 They have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them.
4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those round about us.
5 How long, O LORD? Will you be angry for ever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?
8 Do not remember against us the iniquities of our forefathers; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name's sake!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The house falls if Christ is not the rock and foundation, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
"'For neither death nor life nor angels nor other things can
separate us from the love of Christ' (Romans 8:38-39). Neither can
the flooding of rivers, as in the lands of Egypt and Assyria
[symbolize worldly wisdom opposed to God], do harm. Only those are
harmed who build on sand, who practice the wisdom of the world.
The winds that blow are like the false prophets. All these, coming
together in one place, 'beat upon' the house. If it is founded on
rock, they do no harm. 'The way of a snake upon a rock' is not to
be found (Proverbs 30:19). But in the form of temptations and
persecutions, which may mount into a flood, they beat upon even
the one who seems to be well-founded. The house falls if it does
not have Christ as its basis and foundation. But the truly wise
person builds one's house 'upon a rock.' This is the way the Lord
builds his church - upon the rock, with steadfastness and
strength. This is why 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against
it' (Matthew 16:18). All the persecutions that fall upon that
house accomplish nothing. The house is founded upon the rock. (excerpt from FRAGMENT 153)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.
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