Standing in a Storm

Matthew 7: 24 – 27

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”

Jesus spoke these words. He says that anyone who hears his words and acts on them is like a wise man. The rain, floods and wind represent the storms of life. Those people who hear and act on Jesus’ words will be able to withstand the storms of life. Those who do not listen to and act on Jesus’ words get battered and destroyed by every storm that blows. Do you want to be able to stand in the roughest of times? Then you must commit yourself to the Word of God. God’s wisdom is contained in these pages and through your relationship with him, he reveals the deep truths contained therein. Is there anyone foolish enough to say that he/she does not want God’s wisdom? There probably is though it is very difficult to understand. Obviously, he is without wisdom if he would say such a foolish thing. Therefore, since most of us do want the wisdom of God, let us dedicate ourselves to reading his word. This need not be tiresome. Get a version that is more readable than the King James if it helps you. Go to any Christian store and read the same passage in several different translations. There are plenty out there these days that are not written in Elizabethan English. There is also the One Year Bible if you are ready to commit to reading the entire Bible. It also comes in a couple of translations. Do yourself a favor; start reading a little each day and let the Lord of Hosts bring life and wisdom to you.

Storm Preparedness

Luke 6: 49

But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed and the ruin of that house was great.

Jesus was imploring his followers to not only listen to His words but also to act upon them. He tells us that by listening and acting upon his words, we build a strong foundation for our lives; a foundation so strong, in fact, that it can withstand all of the storms of life. Those who don’t listen at all and even those who listen but never put Jesus’ words to work in their lives will experience great ruin when the storm comes. What words is Jesus specifically talking about? The first is his commandment to love. We are also taught to be merciful and to forgive, to plant seeds. All we need do is read all of the type which is in red in the New Testament and we will have a great synthesis of the actions that should be evident in our lives. Jesus teaches us how we should behave. His teaching is designed to help us withstand the storms. In other words, it is for our own good that he teaches the things he does. He is not trying to take anything away from us. He is trying to give us life and that more abundantly.

Dig Deep

Luke 6: 46 – 49

“And why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”

The first sentence of this quote is arresting. The easiest way to read it is to pretend that Jesus is speaking to someone else. Otherwise it is just too painful to read. However, it is true that most of us have fallen right here at one time or another. It is enough of an indictment on its own but when taken with the rest of today’s passage we begin to understand that some of the stormy times when we were washed to and fro were because we failed to do what Jesus said.

The other side of the coin is for us today. The past is the past and thank God for that. Today we turn over a new leaf and decide to dig deep. That is what Jesus is calling us to do. He said that there is one whom the storms of life will not rattle. This person is the one who dug deep and built a solid foundation. So the question would seem to be, “How do we build a solid foundation?” We dig into the Word of God.

Jesus said it, the strong foundation is what allows us to weather the storms. The man with the strong foundation, Jesus said, is the one who “comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them.” So, there are three parts there. Hearken to Jesus, to his words and then do what he has said. This is the first of all things which he said. If you will obey him in what he said in today’s verses then all else will follow therefrom. You are going to be able to stand while others fall. The people around you will bow with every breeze but you will be a strong fortress in the Lord. 

I have a saying that I would like to share with you. There is an easy way and a hard way to do everything. Whenever possible do things the easy way. This advice from Jesus today is the epitome of doing things the easy way. You can fight and strain against the wind or you can just stand in the strength that is the Lord. The choice is yours. If you want to be able to withstand hurricane force storms, then you must dig deep.

Life in the Word

John 12: 47 – 50           NIV

“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

Jesus’ words bring life to those who find them. Jesus tells us that his father’s command leads to eternal life. Moreover, Jesus said that everything he said came from the father so everything that Jesus ever said leads us to eternal fullness of life. Everything we want, everything we need is fulfilled through Jesus’ word.

It sounds simplistic to say that everything we need can be obtained through the Word until we remember that God created the entire universe with the spoken word. Now He has given us His words. With them there is nothing which is impossible to us. If we are not where we want to be in life, then we need only go to His Word and get more life. Jesus said that he came to bring us abundant life and we know from John 1: 1 that Jesus is the Word. So the Word came to give us abundant life.

Conversely, if we are not living the abundant life, then we have not allowed the life of Christ to fill us and we need to put more of Jesus inside of us by ingesting his word. The Word of God is the seed and the soil is the heart. When we plant his word in our hearts it yields a harvest. If we fail to bear fruit then Jesus need not judge us for we are already judged. The word that he has given us produces life so our lives will show whether we have accepted or rejected Christ’s word.

Do you remember the story of the talents in Matthew 25: 14? The servants were not tasked with safeguarding the master’s assets. The mission is to use the talents God has given us to produce a crop. He has given us his word and it is our job to do something with it. Prepare the soil; till it and pull out the weeds. Then plant the seed. If you will be diligent and faithful at reaping season you will have a bountiful harvest.

Jesus Reveals Himself

John 14: 21, 23 – 24

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

What powerful words from our Lord Jesus! One thing you might find interesting is discovering how many times the Lord spoke about words. It is quite fascinating. In this passage Jesus makes an outstanding promise to us. To paraphrase; if we will keep Jesus’ commandments then he and the father will love us AND Jesus will show himself to us. Those seem like enormously great promises. One of the techniques you can use in helping you glean fullness from scriptures is to look at the reward and work backward. I want Jesus and the Father to love me. I want Jesus to reveal himself to me so all I have to do is to look backward and I can see what I need in order to see that promise fulfilled. It is honoring the words of Jesus that yield the reward. We begin by reading our Bibles but we do not stop there. Reading the Bible is great but think about it for a moment, a lot of folks read the Bible who are not Christians. That which makes us Christians is the implementation of what we read in the Bible.

We can work backward in the second part of the passage as well. When we do so we discover that those who do not obey Jesus’ teachings do not love him. This might cause us each to pause and consider our ways. Are we following Jesus’ teachings? If we do not then do we really love Jesus? Do we say we love Jesus but fail to do the things that show that love? Has our love grown cold? 

These verses certainly cause me moments of quiet contemplation. We might very well ask, “What are these words, teachings and commandments that we are supposed to be obeying.” Well, I say start with the red letters and work your way out. Every word in the Bible is divine because Jesus is the word. He has given us each of the books of the Bible in order to teach us vital lessons, sometimes even what not to do. When all is said and done, though, you will find all of Jesus’ teachings encapsulated in the One Commandment, the commandment of love but it takes the whole book including the divine revelations given to Paul and John for us to even know what love means much less how to walk in a command to love.

Further, when we understand that Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus then we should embrace immediately Jesus’ statement that the words that he speaks are not his own. He spoke what he heard the father speak. This is a good model for us as well. Once we learn what Jesus spoke and how he spoke, once we connect with Jesus inside of us, then perhaps we can say that the words we speak are not our own but rather those given us by our savior and Lord.  

Ultimately, when we heed the words that Jesus gave us, the words of life, then we experience the life of Christ growing within us. When we honor his commandments with obedience we give permission for our life in Christ to swell and fill us. As we give way from our ideas to God’s ways the love of God and of His dear son fill us and we will see Jesus revealed to us. More importantly, others will see Jesus revealed through us. Amen.