Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Posts tagged ‘Choosing Wisely’

Foundations – Choosing a way to Live Life

For the last several weeks I’ve been delivering messages about Judgment Day, about Spiritual Warfare, about the armor God provides us to do battle with the enemy, about preparing for the “End Times,” and about having a Christ-centered worldview.

There’s a common thread woven through all these messages:  How to live in light of the days we are living in, and how best to prepare for the days to come.

I feel led to continue that thread today, starting in Matthew 7:24-27:

24 “Anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  26 But anyone who hears My teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

I believe there are three takeaways from today’s message for you to think about.  They are:

  • There’s a right way and a wrong way to build a life
  • The foundation is the key to building the right way
  • The materials used in the building process are critically important

Take a look at this picture.  Can you see the foundation?

I went for a walk in my neighborhood yesterday and went by a new house being constructed.   From the road I could see that the blocks and bricks were now in place and I wanted to take the opportunity to inspect the foundation.

When I got to the site I thought, “I’m seeing exactly what Jesus was talking about in our text.”

Anyone building a house starts with the foundation … and you can do it the right way or the lazy, wrong way.  Nobody will know which course you took in the foundation stage until storms come.

Jesus made note that two builders – a wise one and a foolish one – would have to build a SPIRITUAL house that would withstand rain, floods, and winds.   Both houses would have to withstand storms that would ferociously beat against them.   

Do you think Jesus was talking about hurricanes and tornadoes, or was He talking about other kinds of storms? 

Jesus made note that the wise man’s house would stand while the foolish man’s house would catastrophically collapse.

Paul wrote two letters to First Century believers living in the ancient city of Corinth, and in the first letter he explained …

1 Corinthians 3:9-11

9  …You are God’s building.   10 Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder.  Now others are building on it.   But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful.  11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have — Jesus Christ.”

Paul was a wise builder in the Kingdom of God, and with God’s grace he brought the Good News about Jesus Christ.  First, Paul preached the Cross.  He said that was the most critical part of the foundation he was laying in Corinth.

1 Corinthians 2:1-2

1 “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s mysterious plan.   For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the One who was crucified.”

Paul started with the Cross.  I will call the Cross the cornerstone of the Gospel.  The Cross is where sin and death were defeated, and our salvation was purchased with Christ’s shed blood.

People everywhere are building their lives.  Some will wisely build their life upon Jesus, the firm foundation, while others will build their life in the worldly-wise way, using worldly ideas.

I give you some examples of what I’m talking about.

In America we are taught that worldly-wise people should start building a life with a good education (nursery school, then pre-K all the way to doctoral degrees), followed by a good job, finding a good mate, living in a good neighborhood, belonging to a good gym, making wise investments, preparing for retirement, etc.

And while all these things are good, aren’t they temporary?  

  • And what if a person doesn’t have access to a good education?  
  • And what happens if there are no jobs … good ones or bad ones?  
  • What if your Prince Charming turns out to be just a charmer, or your Cinderella turns out to be a sad fantasy?  
  • What happens when housing bubbles explode, and you find yourself homeless?  
  • What if your health fails and your investments dry up?   
  • What if …??

What happens when the storms of life beat against your house?

I believe Jesus was saying, and Paul was wholeheartedly agreeing … OUR SPIRITUAL HOMES, OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES must rest on a foundation.  The foundation MUST BE OUR STARTING POINT.   And I believe our foundation for a life is meant to last for eternity, not just for time.

Hebrews 11:10 says, “Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundationsa city designed and built by God.”

The first two takeaways from Jesus’ teaching about SPIRITUAL FOUNDATIONS are:

  • There’s a right way and a wrong way to build a life, AND …
  • The foundation is the key to building the right way

So … do you think you are building wisely, and do you have a firm foundation?

The third takeway from today’s message is found in Paul’s teaching about “no other foundation” that we referred to earlier.

In 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, Paul writes about the materials used in the SPIRITUAL LIFE building process, and how they are critically important.

12  “Anyone who builds on that foundation (JESUS CHRIST) may use a variety of materials — gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw.  13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done.  The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.  14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.  15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss.” 

I believe Paul was specifically talking to pastors and teachers that would follow him to Corinth … people that would build upon what Paul had already taught.

But I’m going to take some license with the text and suggest that what Paul addressed to church leaders applies to each and every member of the Body of Christ.  

That’s you and me.  Paul wrote, “Anyone who builds on that foundation …”.  Are you an “anyone?”  Yes, you are.  So …

Ultimately, you and I are responsible for our SPRITUAL LIVES … not imperfect pastors, passionate prophets, energetic evangelists, appealing apostles, memorable missionaries, tremendous teachers or fellow believers!  Mom and Dad are not responsible for you or how you build!  Your social status, your bankroll, and your personality won’t matter on Judgment Day.

So, how will you build upon your foundation?  What will it be?  “Gold, silver, jewels …” or “wood, hay or straw?”

I fear that most of the people who claim to be Christians in my beloved country think they are using precious materials, but I fear they are using flammable materials instead.

How do you spend your time?  How do you spend your money?  What do you dream about?  For what will you expend energy?  What do you idolize?  How much do you value others?

Jesus was very clear in our original text … the one found in Matthew 7:24-27.  Wise SPIRUTAL LIFE builders are, “Anyone who listens to My teaching and follows it…”.   

[And while you’re at it, look at Luke’s version of this same teaching.  It’s found in Luke 6:46-49.]

What are the teachings Jesus was referring to?

I would begin with what Jesus said were the greatest commandments.  

He said (1) to totally and without reservation love God, and (2) love others.  

Another one of His teachings was found in John 3, in His conversation with Nicodemus.  He told Nic, “You must be born again.” That applies to you and me, too.

I did an internet search and came up with the a list of the teachings of Jesus.  There may be more, but this is a good start:

  • Have communion – the bread and the wine – in remembrance of Him
  • Love your enemies, not just your friends and family
  • Forgive everyone
  • Avoid swearing oaths, or swearing at others (“Raca,” right?)
  • Rejoice when you are persecuted
  • Take another look at the 10 Commandments because Jesus said He didn’t intend to abolish them but fulfill them
  • Let your light shine and glorify God while you are doing good works
  • End disputes quickly
  • Whatever causes you to sin, get rid of it
  • Give to the poor and don’t announce it when you do
  • Feed the hungry and clothe the naked
  • Don’t lust or murder in your heart
  • Be like the “Good Samaritan”
  • Keep your word
  • Don’t lie
  • Go the second mile
  • Turn your cheek
  • Do meaningful things secretly, like praying and giving to the needy
  • Seek God’s Kingdom first!
  • Do not judge
  • Don’t oppose other believers
  • Have faith in God
  • Be merciful
  • “Do to others in the same way you want them to do to you”
  • Beware of false teachers and prophets
  • Pray.  Talk to Him, and then listen to God
  • Honor your parents
  • Deny yourself and follow Him
  • Be prepared to take up YOUR cross
  • Take really good care of children and guard them from harm
  • Honor marriage, and love your spouse
  • Be a servant 
  • Pay your taxes
  • Be expectantly waiting for His return
  • Go into all the world and make disciples
  • Teach new disciples everything Jesus has taught you
  • Be filled with the Holy Spirit

Are you building your life on Jesus and His teachings?  Or are you following the ways of the world?

The worldly way is:

  • God may be just a fantasy, right up there with Santa and the Tooth Fairy
  • Love friends and family as best you can, and punish your enemies
  • Forgive if you feel like it
  • Swear all you want
  • Forget the 10 Commandments.  Those ideas are passé
  • Sue everyone
  • Ignore the poor, the hungry and the naked
  • Lust all you want, just don’t get caught
  • Lie if you must, and keep your word when its convenient, or it won’t cost you anything
  • Turn your cheek?  Right!  Payback is the name of the game
  • Judge others – they deserve it, and you are right and they are wrong
  • No mercy
  • Forget the “golden rule”
  • Pray when you need some way to get out of trouble
  • Never deny yourself 
  • Love your spouse as long as he or she is the best in show
  • Avoid taxes
  • Be filled with spirits … like a good bourbon, whiskey or scotch.  Eat, drink and be merry.

My dear friends … Jesus said it and I believe Him:  The storms of life are going to come!  

You can be wise or foolish.  That’s up to you.  You get to choose.  Even God can’t force you to build wisely, but He will help you if you do decide to do life His way.  

Simply put, you can choose to build your life using the ways of this world, or you can choose to do LIFE God’s way.

Worldly foundations may last a lifetime.  Foundations built on Jesus will last forever.