Embracing Change Series: What Is Your Foundation Built On? – September 3, 2017

Rev. Bruce Lamb

September 3, 2017

Pentecost 12A – Matthew 7:24-27

Embracing Change: What Is Your Foundation Built On?

Matthew 7:24-27 – Hearers and Doers

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

What is your foundation built on?

If I asked you to describe your house to me, you would most likely tell me about the location, color and the design among other things. But you probably wouldn’t tell me about the foundation. Perhaps you don’t know anything about your house’s foundation, but it’s the foundation that makes all the difference. This is not only true of our houses, but also of our lives. Our foundation.

Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 7 today comparing and contrasting two builders: a wise and foolish one. Jesus emphasizes how critical it is to have a strong foundation. Building a house is simply an analogy for building a life. When we build our lives the foundation we choose is the most important feature of our lives.

We are called to build our lives on a strong foundation and that’s Jesus.

Jesus says:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

25 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:

27 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

The thing about foundation is that we can’t see it, it’s hidden. The difference will only be reveled when the storm comes. The wise man built his house on a rock. What’s this rock? This rock, this foundation, is Christ. You can be sure that it will never give way.

If we build our lives on Christ, our lives will stand safe and sure. Christ will help us whether any storm that comes our way.

What does it mean to build our life on Christ? It means that we live a life of total dependence on Jesus. We let go and let God. As we talked about last week, in all things we seek God first.

So let’s look at three ways today on how we build our foundation on Christ:

1) First, Jesus begins by stating that we must hear his words.

Say –Hear

We do this by reading the Bible, praying, being together in community and in worship and being together in Bible Study and small groups among many other ways.

This is what we do in every other area of our lives, right?

If we want to learn a skill we study it. We go to school, or if we want to learn to cook we might watch cooking shows or take cooking classes or study recipes. An athlete listens to coaches and more experienced players.

2) In each of these cases it is essential to not just hear the truth, but to listen to the truth.

Say – Listen.

The key to listening is to interact with the one doing the speaking. The best listeners are the ones who ask a lot of clarifying questions such as, “What do you mean?” or “Can you explain further?” These questions show that a person is listening.

3) Third, Jesus urges us to not only hear and listen to his words, but also to act upon his words.

Say – Act.

Author and pastor Barbara Brown Taylor says, “Right belief doesn’t change a thing unless it leads to right action.”[1]

Friends, if we are going to build our lives upon a solid foundation we must not only hear and listen to Jesus, but actually do what Jesus wants us to do. Just hearing his words is not enough.

In verse 25 we discover why it’s so critical to build our foundation upon Jesus’ words. Jesus says, “And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”

Jesus tells us straight up that storms will come. Anyone can build a house that will stand firm when the sun is shining and the wind is still, but it’s the storms that reveal the strength of our foundation. God’s word should penetrate our ears so that it becomes the foundation of our lives, reaching the deepest part of our hearts.

As we continue in our period of discernment embracing change looking to where God is leading us to be most effective in ministry we are focusing on two very important areas of our foundation: the two m’s – ministry and mission. Our mission as the United Methodist Church is to, “Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

So, how can we be most effective in our ministry together at Ardsley and St. Paul’s?

And

How can we live out our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?

Friends, let’s start by – building our foundation on Jesus Christ, the best flood insurance we can invest in. Storms will come and go and there is so much in our lives that we cannot control, but as Rev. Vicki Kemper says, “We can choose to put ourselves in the path of the light, even if that means getting up in the dark. We can decide to open ourselves to grace, which might require moving out of our comfort zones. We can ask God to heal us at the broken places, and then get with the program.”[2]

Let us get with the program by building our lives on Jesus, because

when you build your foundation on Christ we have nothing to fear.

The hymn-writer in the famous hymn, “How Firm A Foundation,” reminds us, “Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.”

Amen.

 

 

 

[1] “The Right Answer” sermon by Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wds3OxzHNAIhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wds3OxzHNAI

[2] Kemper, Vicki, “Something New Under the Sun” devotion. http://www.ucc.org/daily_devotional_something_new_under_the_sun

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