Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Recognizing and Planning Accordingly - Matthew 7:24-29

What's Your House's Foundation?

24 "Therefore everyone who hears and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

25 "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

26 "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

27 "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house; and it fell - and great was its fall."

There's something interesting about this familiar parable - it seems that it applies in a couple of different situations.  I mean, look at the storm mentioned...it could refer to either the final judgement when your eternal fate is decreed, or to the so-called "storms of life."  As for the former, clearly, those who put their trust in Jesus and built their lives around Him will spend eternity with Him, whereas those who did not will not. 

Yet, as for the latter, it also makes complete sense that if we live in relationship with God, no matter what horrible things happen in our lives, the thing that is most important to us will remain.  Let's look at Ephesians 3:13-19 for some elaboration on that:

Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from who every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.

Another layer of the "storms of life" angle is what the Proverbs argue - that godly living reaps practical rewards, like people trusting you.  Building your lifestyle after Christ's example can, depending on circumstances, protect you in this world.  The part about "and acts on them" definitely comes into play here (for more on how obeying relates to the above two, see our last Bible study).

So, we see that this parable applies in three realms: the spiritual in the eternal sense; the spiritual and emotional in the earthly sense; and the purely earthly sense.

Here's another important point to glean from the parable: the wise man observes what is true and plans accordingly.  If we truly believe that we could face the King of Kings at any moment, that the unsaved people in our lives really are facing eternity in hell, and that this world doesn't matter one bit compared with eternity, our lives will change accordingly.  The wise man knows that his house - that is, his life and lifestyle - can only protect him so much; he doesn't depend on himself or put too much faith in his own abilities.  He prioritizes - and that priority is God.  You'll probably recogzine some of the passages dealing with different aspects of this subject:

Luke 12:19-21
(Foolish man speaking) "And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.'"  But God said to him, "You fool!  This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?"  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

Matthew 16:2-3
But He replied to them (the Pharisses), "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.'  And in the morning, 'There will be a storm today, for the sky is threatening.'  Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?
(This is referring to physical storms, which I think makes it even more poignant to today's parable - we're obsessed with physical weather and plan ahead, but we far-too-often treat spiritual weather as something to be dealt with only when it arrives.)

Philippians 3:8
More than that, I count all things to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.

Clear Authority

28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds wer amazed at His teaching;

29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

These may seem like an odd couple of verses to spend much time on, but there's actually some cool stuff in here.

First off, it's clear that there was something about Jesus that these people recognized.  Personally, I think it was the Holy Spirit flowing through Him in His words, and they were able to sense it, perhaps without being able to pinpoint exactly where His authority came from.  There have been quite a few times in my life when I've been able to "sense" the Holy Spirit working powerfully through another believer...it is a feeling like no other.  It makes you wonder - when can others sense the Holy Spirit in you?

Second, I believe we as humans are "predisposed" (read: created) to recognize godly wisdom; we just choose to ignore it.  So, I think it likely that many people in the crowd that day were able to recogzine the wisdom in His words because they were seeking it.  They felt its pull.

Does not wisdom call,
And understanding lift up her voice?
"To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men.
Now, therefore, O sons, listen to me,
For blessed are they who keep my ways.
Heed instruction and be wise,
And do not neglect it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at my doorposts.
For he who finds me finds life
And obtains favor from the Lord.
But he who sins against me injures himself;
All those who hate me love death."
She (wisdom) has set out her maidens, she calls
From the tops of the heights of the city:
"Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!"
To him who lacks understanding she says,
"Forsake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding."
Proverbs 8:1, 4, 32-36; 9:3-4, 6        Read the entire passage here

Third, we are created to recogzine God when we truly seek Him (missionaries can testify to this - I've heard numerous stories of people having sought God for years, and instantly recognizing that the missionaries are the ones who speak the truth).  Let's look at a couple of Scriptures relating to this:

(Jesus speaking) "I am the good shepherd, and I know my own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep...My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
John 10:14-15, 27

Jeremiah 29:13
"You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."

All of these combine to create the picture that there is "something" about God our souls recognize and respond to.  Deep down, we know we are incomplete - and recogzine that it is He who completes us.

[If you want to try to wrap your head more around this, I highly recommend The Attributes of God by A.W. Tozer and Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge.]

Questions for You

What "storms of life" has God helped you to overcome?  Have you ever "sensed" God working through others, or "sensed" His presence?  Anything else you'd like to ask, mention, add, etc.?

New Features for You

You may have noticed it looks a little different around here.  Or maybe you didn't notice, but it's a little different all the same. :-)  Here are some highlights that will directly impact you:

There are now bars on each side - the LEFT side is all about "Tools for You," whereas the RIGHT side is more focused on stuff about the blog.  All this means: Less scrolling to get to what you want.

You can now follow by e-mail in case you don't have a Google account (right bar).

If added another link in the Bible study tools section (left bar).

I've updated my list of Christian blogs you might like (left bar).

I've synthesized the list of posts by topic so it's easier to navigate (left bar).

I've instituted a post schedule that I will actually try to stick to (surprise, surprise) so it's easier to know when to expect what (left bar...I might decide to move it to the right...).

Also, the Topic: Spiritual Gifts tab has needed reorganizing for quite some time because, frankly, it's a mess.  I've completely reorganized it and added hyperlinks - so now it's both far easier to use and is more visually appealing. :-)

Anything you'd like me to add or change (I'm doing this for you, so any input on how I can better minister to you, even if it's a "little" as a different font, is totally welcome!)?  And, to be totally random, would you prefer the post schedule on the right or the left? :-)

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