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Date: Dec 11, 2013 Previous
Who would purposely build a house on sand, knowing that the first storm would literally bring down the roof? No one. Jesus asks, Why build your moral foundation on something just as flimsy as sand? The great news is, He offers something much better!
Hello everyone, this is Connie Jeffery, and we welcome you to our broadcast. As we begin, I want to let you know that we’re offering free of charge a wonderful little book called More Than a Good Teacher. It’s all about Jesus. I’ll tell you after Lonnie’s talk how you can receive one for yourself. But for now, here’s Lonnie Melashenko with today’s message called, “No Fine Print.”
Susan and Frank, a young couple in Louisiana, thought that they had found a real bargain in the green 2004 Honda Accord they were looking at. Assured by the car salesman that it was like new, the couple test drove it and, impressed, bought the vehicle. Only later did they find out that it had been nearly totaled in a wreck.
Worse, as soon as they took it home, things started going awry. The car doors locked on their own, the horn went off without warning, the sun roof didn't work, the air bag malfunctioned, and the vehicle often shook uncontrollably when going in reverse.
“It shook so much I thought that I was driving on three flat tires!” Susan said.
But that was only the beginning of their problems. Tucked away on the back of the sales contract was a binding arbitration clause. In short, this meant that Frank and Susan had given up the right to ever sue the dealer in court if anything went wrong with the car.
Talk about not reading the fine print! Who can’t relate? I mean, when I buy something, I rarely, if ever, read every word of the contract. Who does? And if I wanted to, in some cases I think I’d need a magnifying glass because the words are so small.
Yes, this couple was a victim of the proverbial “fine print,” information that those who write the contract don’t want you to know but are legally obligated to put in. So what do they do? They try and hide the information at the bottom, in small print, hoping you don’t notice and thus sign on the dotted line below.
Jesus, however, was not like that. When Jesus preached, He was right up front about what it meant to follow Him. He didn’t try and pull people in, give them all sorts of promises, and then only later drop in some fine print.
No, early on, up front, and in no uncertain terms, Jesus presented the great moral principles of His kingdom. No one could come away later, saying, “I didn’t know, I didn’t know.”
For the past few days we have been looking at the moral code that Jesus taught. Though Jesus came to die for our sins, and to offer us the promise of eternal life through His death, He also made it clear that He expected us to live a certain way. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus laid down the moral principles of His kingdom—principles that He expected us to follow.
How do I know that? Well, listen to how Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount. He says: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24, NIV).
What words? Words like, “Blessed are the pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8, NIV). Or, “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39, NIV) or, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).
Three full chapters of moral instruction, of Jesus telling people how to relate to God and to others. And then, as He comes to the end, He’s says to them, basically, “Hey, I’m not just up here expounding platitudes. I’m telling you these things because I expect you to do them. I expect you to obey.”
That’s why, friend, He goes into His conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, which is the story of the two men who each built a house, one on rock and one on sand. And with this story Jesus is giving us an important lesson in what obedience is all about.
Jesus said: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (Matthew 7:24-27, NIV).
Pretty simple, isn’t it? Those who hear and obey are building on a firm foundation, one that can withstand trials and tribulations, while those who hear and don’t obey are building on sand.
Now, if you were building a house, would you want to build it on rock or on sand? Of course, the answer is obvious. And so is Jesus’ message to us about obedience. If we obey, our foundation is secure; if not, we’re building on sand.
Notice what these two men have in common: Both hear His words, both build houses, and both face trials. The only difference, friend, the only one, is that one man put Jesus’ words into practice, and one didn’t.
Jesus didn’t say that He, Himself, would sweep away the one who didn’t obey. This is important. Jesus wasn’t punishing him for his disobedience, because the one who obeyed faced storms as well.
No, Jesus’ point is that in this life, no matter who we are, whether obedient or disobedient, we will face storms, floods, trials, and winds of strife, but that those who obey Him, those who do what He says will withstand those trials and stay firmly rooted in Him.
In other words, by doing what Jesus says, you’re building a strong relationship with Him, and this will sustain you through the dark times that, inevitably, come to us all. Jesus is telling us that by doing what He says, we will come to know Him, to trust in Him, and to have a firm reliance on Him. Our relationship with Him will be solid as a rock, as opposed to shaky as sand. And so, when disaster strikes, when trials come, we will not be swept away by doubts about God or His love because we will have, through obedience, built a strong relationship with Him in which we learn to trust Him, no matter what.
There was a terrible fire in a Brooklyn apartment complex. The streets were filled with trucks and flashing lights; the air was howling with sirens. The building was blazing, totally out of control.
Everyone had escaped, or so they thought. Then a horrible sight played out before them: a little girl, clutching a brown teddy bear, stood in a fifth story window. Yet the fire was so bad, the firemen couldn’t get in. They pulled out a tarpaulin, and tried to get her to jump, but she just stood there, clutching her teddy. “Jump! Jump!” they kept on yelling but to no avail.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, her mother appeared and screamed, “Heidi, jump!” Instantly, Heidi--teddy bear clutched in her arms--jumped. Why? Because Heidi knew her mother well enough to trust her.
Friend, God wants us to obey Him, not because He’s harsh or arbitrary, but because He knows that obedience is good for us. Obedience strengthens us in our relationship with Him so that we can know Him well enough to trust Him even in the dark times. And, friend, when anything can happen to any one of us at any moment, how important to be able to trust in Jesus. I mean, it’s a pretty scary world out there, is it not, and Jesus--with this story--is giving us powerful instruction on how to be prepared to face it.
A plane went down, into the water off some islands in the Caribbean. Only a few people survived, including a child. Later, after being rescued, the child said something that especially caught my interest because I do a lot of flying. He said that those who paid attention when the flight attendant gave the safety instructions, and did what she said—survived. In contrast, those who weren’t paying attention didn’t know what to do and, when tragedy struck, they were killed.
Can you see the point? It’s the same point in the story of the two builders that Jesus told.
We all build on lives on something, right? I mean, we all focus our time and energy and attention on self, on making money, on our careers, on trying to look good in the eyes of others, whatever.
And yet how stable and secure are those things, really? What good will your money do when a CAT scan shows an inoperable tumor in your brain? What happens when the career that you sold your own soul for is suddenly terminated? What happens when a reputation that you spent your entire life cultivating is ruined? These things happen, friend, they happen all the time. And when they do, what do you have left? Nothing.
Jesus offers us something so much better, so much more stable, so much more secure. Jesus is saying to us, Build on Me. Build on the only foundation that will not crumble when everything else comes tumbling down around you. And He’s saying that the only way we can do that is by obeying Him, by doing the things He asks us to do.
Friend, do you feel as if the ground is giving way beneath you, that maybe you’ve built your whole life on sand? Maybe right now, at this moment, Jesus is saying to you, Come to me, and I will be your foundation. You can remain safe and secure in Me.
If you believe that He is talking to you, don’t wait another moment but give your heart and life to Him now. It’s not too late.