Category Archives: The Believers Walk

Does God Count You Faithful?

1 Timothy 1:12-14

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

I like to take credit. I like to think I did something myself. It was me who read the Bible and gained the knowledge I have. It was me who began to understand how the Old and New Testament worked together., It was me who figured out how the scripture applies to everyday life. I wrote all these poems and songs through the years. The moving of the Holy Spirit is due to my ability and expertise in putting a worship service together. All these years, I have been slaving away for God and coming up with these thoughts and ideas on how God works in our lives. I did it. Me!

That paragraph is the definition of pride. I did it. I accomplished it. I figured it out. This is where I lived for years, and truly believed the sayings in that paragraph. It caused me to start top think I could disregard all that I had learned and do what I wanted to do. After all, I had done it all for God!

But I soon fell hard, lost my job and almost my family and had to take inventory on my spiritual life. What I found out was what Paul says here. God has enabled me. I do not have the ability within myself to do the things above. It is God in me and through me. That is the only way these things can minister the way they do. That is the only way the right words can get on paper that will touch hearts and heal up wounds of the soul.

You see, I was once very much like Paul. I certainly was a blasphemer, a breaker of all the commandments, a drunkard and drug addict and a person who could care less about God. My own way was the way I would go and no one could tell me I was in the wrong. I had walked away from God in high school and had no plans on coming back to Him. I was a persecutor, maybe not of the saint, but of everyone around me. I would put down, speak badly of, and try to hurt with words anyone that wronged me. I was a smaller guy and not a physical specimen, so I relied on a quick wit. This also made me injurious, like Paul. My words could injure peoples spirits and hearts quicker than a dart being thrown at them. The bigger problem is that they could dodge a dart, but could not avoid my stinging words.

Then grace came in. Love came in. Faith came in. Somehow I found myself driving to Iowa to see my best friend. Clear out of the blue I had decided to make the 1300 mile drive from Massachusetts to Iowa. When I arrived at his house, we had a great reunion, having not seen each other for over a year. He was a Christian, and had tried to sway me a year earlier at our high school reunion. It didn’t work, but it also did not hurt our friendship. Here I was on His doorstep in Iowa. Through the last year we had sent letters back and forth and each one of his letters had a scripture address on it. I had to look it up to see what he was saying. He was a sly old fox (well, not that old. He was a week older than me).

Then he said come to church with us tonight, and I said OK. I had no problem going with him, just don’t give me any of that salvation stuff. Don’t tell me I need saving. I was doing just fine. And I was so wrong. That minister, who was a missionary home on leave, told me I was headed for a burning hell. I did not want to go there! Then he told me there was only one way to avoid it, and that was Jesus Christ, I wanted Jesus. Jesus took me into His arms later that week and saved my soul. His grace covered me completely.

Now He enables me. I do everything I can to keep my thoughts out of this blog, out of the poetry, out of the songs that fill the pages of my web sites. I seek God’s wisdom and His words for these pages, not mine. I have nothing of value to give except my life. These are His words, His thoughts, His songs. I claim no ownership.

Since He has enabled me, it is now up to me to be an open conduit. He has put me into this ministry and now I need to allow His message to flow through me out to you. Paul tells us that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet (1 Corinthians 14:32). This means God gives us the ability to shut it down or make it flow. We can muzzle the message God gives us to share. We can say “God gave this to me and I’m not going to share it!” We absolutely can. But I do no want to be that person.

My heart’s desire is to be counted faithful. Jesus said that to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). The words, songs, melodies and so on come from God. He has given them, for some reason I will never understand, to me. He entrusted me with the ability to hear His voice, and I for one want to make sure He will say I did it well. I could care less if anyone on this earth says the same. I am aware that very few hear God the way I hear Him. Very few have learned to listen as He has taught me to. He holds me accountable for those things He has entrusted to me.

What about you? What gift, or gifts, has God given to you? What talents do you possess? What are you doing with them? I suggest you make a list of all the gifts and talents God has bestowed on you. Some will have just a few items they can think of, others might have many dozen. Pray about it and be thorough. Once you have compiled your list, take each item one by one and ask God if you are doing a good job with that talent. If you’re like me, there are some you are doing well with and others you need to do better.

After this is done, ask God to help you do a better job of ministering in the areas where He has gifted you. Ask Him to enable you to reach more, teach more, love more and touch more. Ask Him to make your light shine so that you might bring Him glory. Give yourself as a living sacrifice for Him so that you might prove the will of God is alive in your life. Be vigilant in your ministry and never back down. This world needs you!

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The End of the Commandment

1 Timothy 1:5

5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

What a mouthful this little verse is. It seems Paul wanted to sum up all of the commandments regarding our relationship to one another with one sentence, and I think he did a superb job. The words penned in this verse resonate to every aspect of our interpersonal relationships and we would do well to practice these simple things every day. He even says this is the “end of the commandment.” This means that once you put them all together the result is found in three simple steps. As we go through these steps, evaluate how you are doing with each one. Ask God to help you do better if you struggle in one area or another.

First we have charity out of a pure heart. As you all know, charity is the same as love when it comes to the Bible. Charity is the word used in 1 Corinthians 13, where love is defined as well as any college textbook or psychologist has ever defined it. Practicing love out of a pure heart takes into account all the attributes of love found in that famous chapter. Let’s take a quick look at what Paul says there.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8:

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. We use all kinds of flowery words and sound so sentimental when we tell someone we love them. In our world today, love is one of the most overused and misused words in the English language. “I love that dress you’re wearing,” I love the way you did your hair,” I love the Patriots (Yes, I really do), or ” I love meatloaf.” Love is used to lure women and men into doing things they would rather not do. An old saying days that men use love to get sex and women use sex to get love. It is a word that has no meaning behind it when used in this context. It’s just a sounding cymbal, a noise amidst all the other noises of the band. Unless there is loving action with it and expects nothing in return, the word love is misused.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. I can have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, walk around performing miracles in Jesus name. I can have all the knowledge in the world and a vast knowledge of the Bible and it’s implications for life. My faith can be as powerful as possible, able to move obstacles that are in my way because I believe it can happen. All these are great things, but if love is not attached to them they are nothing to God.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. I can give away all that I have to help others in their time of need. This is a good and honorable thing to do. Or I can give my life for the Gospel. But if I do not have the love of God as my driving force, these things will only add to my pride, and they are not profitable to my spiritual life,.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, People with love are patient with others. They does not get anxious or upset if someone else is blessed and they are not. They wait on God without demanding of Him. They do not think of themselves any more than they think of others. They understand that they are supposed to put others before themselves and do not get boastful about their accomplishments.

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; The kind of love we should have will never behave in a crass or vulgar way. It will not cuss or speak rudely at any time. This love will look out for the other person before thinking of themselves and will not get offended or upset very easily. It also will not even think of bad things about people.

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; This kind of love does not take pleasure when someone else falls into trouble, and does not think kindly to any type of sin in their own lives. They strive after the truth in all things.

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. This love bears with anything that might happen around them because they believe and have faith in those people around them and hope for the best at all times. They endure anything that might come their way without offense.

8 Charity never faileth: This charity that we are supposed to have will never fail to do what it says it will do in light of all these characteristics. It will always be there for our friends and our enemies. It will not fail to reach out to someone else with a pure heart.

This charity Paul is speaking of is a high calling to all who take the name of Christ. We cannot do it in ourselves, but only by His strength and with His love shining through us like a beacon. Jesus said the world will know we are His disciples by the love we show to others (John 15:35). I personally have a lot to work on when I look at this list.

The second point Paul makes to Timothy is that he must have a good conscience. There should be nothing he is doing that would need repentance or forgiveness from someone else. We get a guilty conscience when we wrong someone or deceive them. This should never be done by a Christian. We should walk in such a place that all can know what we do day to day. God knows! Does He approve of everything you do, or is there an area of your life where you have a guilty conscience?

This pure conscience extends to the people around us. When we do good deeds, do we do it to gain favor, or to hold it over their heads or to make ourselves look good? None of these type of acts are done with a good conscience unless your conscience has been hardened through repeated defiance. If the love you are extending to others is for greedy purposes and you are not hearing that still small voice in your head saying you must repent and make it right, I think you better examine yourself. You should feel guilty when you take advantage of someone else. If you don’t, something is wrong.

The third attribute Paul wants to see is faith unfeigned. Unfeigned means that there is no hypocrisy or impure motives. It is faith in other people that is genuine and authentic. No one will question the sincerity of this person to minister the Gospel only for the sake of helping other people see the way to Christ, not for reasons of self-indulgence or self-promotion. I have a real problem when I hear countless advertisements for books or CD’s or teachings from a preacher on the radio. I know that is how they make the money to be able to do the shows, but sometimes the promotion is longer than the actual message. They could keep these promos separate and short. The constant harping for funds is one of the main reasons people are turned off by the church.

We need to step back and see ourselves as the world sees us. We need to look in the mirror and understand exactly what others see in us and in the actions we take from day to day. Then we need to compare what we see with these three simple things Paul asks of Timothy. I have a lot to work on in order to be seen ion the pure light of the gospel. How about you?

No Other Doctrine

1 Timothy 1:3-4

3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

Paul faced a constant battle with false teachers everywhere he went. He would set up a church, explain to them that salvation is by grace through faith, and they would all rejoice that they did not to do anything to earn their salvation. After he left the area, false teachers would come in and tell them they were not saved until they were circumcised or baptized or some other work of the flesh that was needed. It was happening all over the new church and it was deceiving many into thinking they actually had to do these things to be part of Christ’s church.

As we explained in the last post, our salvation was secured at Calvary. The only thing you have to do is accept the free gift. Jesus paid the price. He took the penalty for sin once and for all. There is nothing you can do, or have to do, to earn your salvation. It can’t be earned, It can only be taken as the free gift it is. If you are depending on anything else, or any work of the flesh, to obtain your salvation, then you have been listening to false teachers.

Paul decided to leave Timothy in Ephesus so he put down some of these teachings. He specifically mentions two things. Endless genealogies and fables. Timothy had a task ahead of him. The teachers in the church were teaching these things and Timothy had to put a stop to it. Paul wanted to make sure that the teachers were teaching things of God that would edify the people and their faith. Paul went on to Macedonia to check on the churches there and possibly start more.

Endless genealogies points to teaching that says our lineage is what makes us acceptable to God. In those days, being a son of Abraham was a big deal, and claiming that you were a son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was an even bigger thing. There are many places in the Bible where God is described as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have top remember that Jacob was later named Israel, and thus the father of the nation. Isaac was also the father of Esau, who was the father of the Edomites, arch enemies of the Israelites. We could spend days hashing out genealogies and get nowhere.

The fact is that we are part of the faith covenant with Abraham. Abrahams seed includes all who by faith accept Christ’s sacrifice since Christ was the fulfillment of the law. We are blessed, just as the nation of Israel is blessed, when we have this faith in God because without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The Bible says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). This is the faith we must have. Not faith in genealogies, but faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ.

In today’s world, many think that they can hang on the coattails of their parents and grandparents. They think that their genealogy can get them into heaven. The believe that because they go to their parents church and have been good all their lives, they are assured a place in heaven. This could not be further from the truth. We all make heaven our home by our own personal decision. We must believe that Jesus died as an atonement for our sins and that he rose again to give us eternal life. We must act on that belief by accepting the sacrifice He made and making Him the Lord of our lives. We must relent of our sins and leave them at His feet. This is what brings salvation into our lives. Once saved, we must obey His commandments in order to even see the Kingdom of heaven. Nothing in your genealogy can save you. Your parents cannot take you to heaven. Only you can make that decision.

Fables speaks of things made up that falsify the truth. One of the chief examples of this in Paul’s time was the Judaizers. They preached that circumcision must be done to those who accepted Christ. This was a subversion of the truth of the gospel. Paul tells Timothy here that anything that ministers questions in the mind of the believer should not be taught, but things that minister grace.

We have to remember the times they were in. The gospel was preached to the people, not read by the people. The heathen, or Gentiles, did not know the Old Testament either. They had to take the word they were told and process it. It is so different today. When Paul preached, people took him at his word. It was all they knew about what happened. When false teachers came in and told them something different, it raised questions in their minds whether Paul was telling the truth. This is what Paul was trying to stop.

Today we have a lot of examples of false teaching that raises questions. Some would say that all Protestants are following a fabrication of the truth and that Catholicism is the only way to God. Of course, I disagree because Christ is the only way to God, not any church organization. Some would say that once you are saved you are always saved and cannot lose your place in heaven. Jesus clearly says otherwise (Matt 7:21). Some would say if you want something, anything, just claim it from God and it’s yours. If you don’t get it, you don’t have enough faith. I do not believe that for a minute because God is sovereign and He will decide what is best for you. You really don’t know what is best for you at any given moment. God knows you better than you know yourself and he will always do what is best for you.

Then there are some who say once you get saved, grace will cover anything you do after that. Jesus also contradicts that belief by saying we should be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:48). As stated above, He says that not everyone who calls Him Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father. What is that will? It is found in Matthew chapters 5-7. We are under grace, but we are also told we must do you best to follow Christ’s commands. We can’t just go and do anything we want and expect grace to cover us. Even Jesus knew this as shown by His testing in the wilderness. Satan came to Him three times tempting Him and Jesus did not fall for his charms (Matthew 4:1-11). If anyone would have been covered by grace it would be Jesus. Paul says God forbid that we should continue in sin so grace can cover us (Romans 6:1-2). Let’s not fall for the grace covers all gospel.

These and many more “fables” are around in the church today to lure even the very elect away from the gospel message (Matthew 24:24). The NAR (New Apostolic Reformation church is the latest in trickery. I am not going to get into all the various ways that this cult is drawing people away from the gospel, but I suggest you study it out yourself. It is very deceptive and is sweeping through churches around the globe. I am saddened by how easily people are drawn away from Christ and the pure Gospel message.

Let us be ministers of grace. Grace that leads people to repentance. Grace that tells people of the cross and the price that Jesus paid for them so many years ago. Grace that says you can accept this sacrifice of love by faith if you’ll only believe. It is a simple message that is as profound in so many ways. Christ crucified, the hope of glory. Let us never forget the Gospel message and let us preach it wherever we go.

A Son in the Faith

1 Timothy 1:1-2

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

The word Apostle used here is the Greek word apostolos which means a messenger, one sent on a mission or one commissioned by another to represent him. This same word is used of the twelve disciples, or apostles, that followed Jesus around for His three and a half years of earthly ministry. The twelve disciples were chosen by Christ specifically and in person. He asked each one of them to follow Him. They traveled with Him, prayed with Him, ate with Him, slept with Him and watched over Him all that time. There were also times that Jesus sent them off to minister on their own while he was still on this earth. Jesus trusted them with His life and with His message, and they did not fail Him.

Paul puts himself on a level playing field with these twelve disciples when he uses this word to describe himself. How could this be, seeing Paul came on the scene a good 3 years after Christ died? How can Paul say he was an apostles by the commandment of God and Jesus? I bet most of you can answer that question, but I’ll help you out.

Paul was quite a leader, and he was commissioned by the Pharisees to put an end to this so called church that had sprung up after Jesus died and supposedly rose from the dead. Paul’s job was to search out Christ’s followers and bring them to the judgment hall where they would be punished for following this Jesus. The first we see of him is at Stephens stoning, where it says he consented to Stephens death. Paul, whose name was Sauk at the time, even picked up Stephens robe after he died.

Shortly after this, Paul was headed to Damascus to find other followers there and either bring them back to Jerusalem or kill them. While on the road, he was suddenly struck down from his horse and a bright light shone down from above, blinding him. Out of that light spoke a voice that all those who rode with him heard. It said “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Paul had no idea what was going on or who was speaking so he yelled back “Who art thou Lord?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Paul was afraid and surprised. His only reaction as to say “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” The voice, who Paul now knew was Jesus himself, said “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” This is the commission of Paul. Paul was never the same after that day. He went into the city and was met by a man just as God said he would be. That man prayed for his eyes and they opened. Paul was then told he would suffer much for Jesus, and he certainly did see (2 Corinthians 11).

Has Jesus ever confronted you? I don’t mean through the words of the Bible, or through the Holy Spirit, but Jesus Himself come before you and spoken to you, in a dream or in person. I know He has never confronted me, but He has given me a vision of Himself on the cross. I was at Pure Life Ministries in the summer of 2008. This is a place where men go to get their eyes back on Jesus. I had wandered far away, yet was still professing my faith. Pride was eating me up. This place had us doing intense bible study and devotions, as well as in church 9 times a week. One day God confronted me in my Spirit with the question “Do you now how many people were affected by your sin?” As I thought about that, I fell to my knees sobbing. I was restless the rest of that evening and had a hard time sleeping that night. Finally at around 3 in the morning, I headed out into the meadow and down to the life-size cross that sat above the trail. I knelt before it weeping and slowly prayed Psalm 51 over and over again. Very slowly, allowing the words to sink into my soul.

The words of that Psalm penetrated deeper than they ever had. A Pastor of mine had urged me to memorize that [prayer years before, and I was so glad he did. On that morning, after I had finished praying that prayer, I looked up at the cross. That is when I saw Jesus, blood dripping from His brown where the crown of thorns lay. His body was covered with bruises ands scars from the lashes He had received. His hands and feet were nailed to that cross, blood dripping down. I could almost smell the stench of the blood. I looked up and His eyes were on me although He was not alive in this vision. I looked into those eyes, weeping large tears, and asked Him to forgive me. My spirit was suddenly at ease, knowing that from that cross he spoke the words “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I was forgiven. I was a moment in my life I will never forget.

Paul’s call came directly from Jesus on that road and he took it very seriously. The result of that day cannot be overstated. Paul went on to travel throughout Asia starting churches and preaching the Gospel to all. He suffered much, but said he counted it all joy to suffer for Jesus. There was no one who did more to advance the Gospel than Paul did. He was truly a messenger sent by Christ.

Then he names Timothy as his son in the faith. The Bible never mentions Timothy’s real father, although it does mention his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois in 2 Timothy 1:5. Many believe that Lois and Eunice had received the gospel message and helped Timothy to see the truth about Jesus. Since they are not mentioned elsewhere, one can only speculate about their faith, but the scripture says that faith “dwelt in them.” Most likely Timothy benefit from the influence of these two women and learned about faith from them.

Who do you have in your life that was a mentor or a teacher? Who led you into deeper faith by their example? Make sure you take time to thank those people who raised you in the faith. Often we forget to show our appreciation for all they have done for us. Paul mentions these ladies to show how much he appreciated their contributions to Timothy’s faith. Timothy was valuable to Paul, and these two women helped him become the man he was.

Paul took Timothy under his wing as a son. Fathers have an awesome responsibility to help their sons grow in the knowledge of God. We read in Deuteronomy 6:6-7

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Paul and Timothy traveled together on many missionary journeys. I have no doubt that while on these missionary journeys Paul would instruct Timothy in the things of God. Paul knew the law of God and he knew how Christ fulfilled that law. He also understood the grace and mercy of God probably better than most of us understand it today. Walking beside Paul all those years must have been an incredible experience for Timothy. I imagine it would be like walking beside Billy Graham when he was still alive. All he preached was Christ crucified. This is what Timothy needed to know. That is what we all need to know.

In our world today, preachers are teaching all kinds of things. We have books abounding to teach us how to walk in the Spirit, how to have a secure financial future, how to this and how to that. There are teaching out there on how to start churches and how to grown churches. There are books on building accountability groups and how to have a better marriage. Books about all kinds of subjects. But not very many about Christ crucified.

We have a responsibility to teach our children and those who we mentor. We have a responsibility to teach them Christ crucified. We don’t have to dress it up and we certainly should not get off subject. The only message that is important is Christ crucified. We shouldn’t talk about end time theology or all those other subjects that seem to be so prevalent around us. Just Christ crucified.

Christ crucified explains the Garden of Eden Christ crucified explains the sacrificial system. Christ crucified explains the prophets. Christ crucified opens up the Old Testament to the eyes of our children. It opens up who God is and how much He loves us. It explains His mercy and His grace. It explains the salvation He provided when He gave His life on the cross. It explains that He rose again to give us eternal life.

As we go through this book, we will see a lot of teaching about church leadership and discipleship. Timothy was on his own often and Paul had given him the task of developing leaders in the early church. It was an awesome responsibility and it still is today. These letters to Timothy and used by many churches as criteria for their own leaders. What is in these letters is as relevant as anything in scripture, and we should be teaching these things. But let us never forget the message of Christ crucified. None of this matters without that!

Next Study – Timothy and Titus

I have been praying what direction to go next in our Bible adventures and feel the urge to head into the pastoral letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus.  These three letters contain many great timeless principles for the church and for church leaders.  These letters are generally accepted as written by Paul, although through the years there has been some discussion about possible other authors.  The writing style is very similar to Paul,s and Paul identifies himself as the author in all three.  I’m not sure why the controversy ever came up!  We will agree with the general opinion that Paul wrote these for this studies sake.

These letters are different than Paul’s other writings in that these are addressed to the church leadership, while all his other letters are for the entire body of believers at each church.  Contained in these short letters are guidelines which are still used today to ascertain the qualifications of deacons and elders.  We will ,learn a lot about our own walk as we go through these beautiful letters.

Timothy is first mentioned in scripture in Acts 16:1.  Timothy was mentored by Paul (Acts 16:3) and from all we can understand received salvation under Paul’s ministry.  Timothy was a Greek and most believe Paul met him at Ephesus and this letter was written shortly after that. Timothy’s mother and grandmother are both mentioned in scripture but there is no mention of Timothy’s father.  Paul considered him a son and was very close to him.  Timothy became an evangelist and traveled with Paul to many cities and on his own to some.  He also came to Paul’s aid when he was imprisoned in Philippi.

Titus was also a Greek thought to be from Antioch.  He too was converted under Paul’s ministry and traveled quite a bit with Paul.  Titus was used by Paul to settle things down in the Corinthian church after Paul’s first letter had them reeling.  Titus was also an evangelist  and a missionary, going on many journeys of his own.

As e go through these letters, we will be getting a glimpse into the early church and the discipline Paul saw necessary to make them witnesses in the early life of the church.  Separating out leaders was critical to the development of the church.  Timothy and Titus were two leaders who went on to teach other leaders.  I pray you will see that these leadership skills are needed today just as much as they were back in the first century church.

Where is Your House Built

Matthew 7:24-27

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

This is probably one of the most familiar little stories of Jesus. We sang it as a children’s song when we were young and I would guess all of us believe we know the meaning of this verse. We tell people we have built our house upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ and the wind and waves of life cannot topple our house. We think of Him as our great foundation, holding us up by His word and His promises. What more can I possible say about this verse to give it deeper meaning?

Jesus was a great orator. We don’t often think of Him like that. We think of His healing and miracles, about His parables and stories, and about the price He paid for us. We think about His birth, His baptism and His death and resurrection. We think about blind eyes being open, the dead rising up, lepers healed and demons cast out. But we don’t give much thought to what a great speaker He was.

I have seen many great speakers in my life. Zig Ziglar, Colin Powell, Brian Tracy, Billy Graham and many others have awed crowds with their use of the right words to motivate others and get their message across. I have been in Toastmasters for over 30 years and have won many a speech contest, once taking the Iowa Table Topics contest 1st place trophy. There are elements that make a speech great, and the conclusion is the most important.

The conclusion must make an appeal for action to the listener based upon everything else the speaker has said. It should sum up in a few short sentences what the speaker is trying to get the audience to understand and should leave them with a desire to do what the speaker is asking them to do. We’ve all seen preachers who “close” their sermons three or four times before it is finally over. This is not great speaking, but it can be effective. Here, Jesus closes once.

This little analogy is very powerful and very specific. It is about doing what Christ has asked us to do in the previous three chapters. It is about following through with all that He has said, not just part of it. Jesus does not want us to flounder and fall into the waves that life will toss at us. He wants us to have that solid foundation that is based on His word. This is a foundation that the world is trying to do away with. The world does not want to have a standard of morality. The world does not want anyone to tell them what is right and wrong.

Jesus says the choice is simple. You either follow the words He has said and stay on a solid foundation or you don’t do what he says and you fall. Real simple, real precise. The Sermon on the Mount is a revealing of the kingdom of heaven on earth, and we best heed His words and do His words if we want to be a part of that kingdom for all time. What Jesus reveals to us is God’s will for our lives. This is how God desires that we should live here on this earth. This is how we should treat one another – not just our brother, but everyone. This is the standard, this is the way. In our last lesson we went through all the various things Christ taught us in Chapter 5. Let’s move on now and review Chapters 6 & 7.

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us to keep our giving to ourselves and not let others know what we are doing. We shouldn’t even let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. He says our prayer lives should be private, not public. They should be personal, not vain repetitions.. He teaches us a pattern of prayer with the Lord’s Prayer, then He tells us we should forgive or our father in heaven will not forgive us. That should be enough to get your attention! Jesus next addresses fasting, telling us we should not let others know we are fasting by our appearance, but make sure we look good even though we are fasting. It’s none of their business! He tells us that the most important treasure we can store up is that which we have in heaven not on this earth. What a contrary statement to the worlds thinking this is! He explains how we must be singularly focused on the Light and not darkness, and that we can only serve one master. Then He explains how important it is to trust God for the daily necessities and focus our attention first on the Kingdom of heaven. We should not worry what tomorrow will bring. That’s a lot to take in from one speech and we still have another chapter to go!

In Matthew 7 He starts out by telling us not to judge others. We have enough troubles of our own to figure out. We should take care of our own faults before trying to fix someone else’s. Keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking if you want an answer to pray is Jesus next point. We are told to do good things for each other, and He gives us the Golden Rule. He tells us the narrow gate leads to life. This narrow gate is at the end of a path that is straight and follows His words. He also says the broad gate has many people going to it because they do not want to follow His Word and stay on the straight path. We then are warned of false prophets and are told we will know them by what they produce. They are very deceptive, and we must be diligent. We must do the will of the Father or Christ will say He never knew us on that day when He returns. The will of the Father is all in this Sermon.

The conclusion is that we have a choice. We can choose to live out all the things that Christ taught us in Matthew 5-7 or we can choose to just do what we want to do and maybe follow some things but not others. We can strive to please the Father or we can aim to please ourselves. This is our choice. Jesus tells us that if we will follow His Word then we shall have a solid foundation to stand on. Our lives will be built on the rock, and no storm will be able to knock us down. This is a promise that there will be storms, and what we do with Jesus’s words will determine how well we will survive those storms.

Or we can choose to just go our own way and follow what we choose to follow. If we make that choice, our house is built on sand, which shifts whenever the tide comes in. There is no solidity to it. There is no sure foundation, but it changes all the time., When the storms come in, the sand can wash away, leaving us trying to stand up with little or no foundation. I do not want to ever be in that place. I want to be where I can firmly stand.

Please never take this story away from the previous three chapters and all that Jesus tells us we should be doing. God desires us to be so strong in the storm that our light will shine for all to see. He wants us to be a lighthouse to a lost and dying world because they are floundering in the storms with no foundation. They have chosen their own way and are falling farther down all the time. They need us to reach out and grab them by the hand and pull them back up on the firm foundation.

Will you be there for them, standing on the Rock?