24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And 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. 26Everyone 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. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.”
Rains, floods, and winds have certain things in common. They are all forces of nature that come without warning. They are erratic, grossly varied, uncontrollable, life-threatening, and potentially destructive.
In our scripture reading, Jesus warns us that winds, rains, and floods are essential parts of human existence. As we all like to say, they are a “given”. We can never prevent their coming. We can never escape the pains and miseries they bring. We can only hope and pray with all our hearts that when they come, we are strong enough to endure and survive.
In our scripture reading, Jesus invites us all to pause once again, and face the very obvious: that we are vulnerable, and forever at risk of failing and falling; and that we need to cling on to God more desperately in these very critical and volatile times.
This is why many believers all over the world were greatly encouraged by the recent public prayer of Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a day of fasting and prayer attended by over 30,000 Christians representing different Bible-believing faiths. He invited the crowd to join him in prayer, saying: “Father our heart breaks for our nation. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government, and as a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, blesses us and for that we cry out for your forgiveness…”
The reactions to the prayer were varied especially as Perry later announced his bid for the 2012 US Presidential elections. Some were convinced that the prayer gathering was all an outrageous political event.
But you see, it is never a good thing to judge people’s hearts or motives. That’s for God to do.
What we know for sure is that many people, many leaders, and many nations are getting more and more frightened about the future of the world. Now, more than ever before, we are being called to confront the consequences of our past choices.
More importantly, the Lord is also inviting us to take a long and serious look into our hearts, and to remind ourselves that we cannot mock God. We cannot only turn the Lord when the winds, storms, and rains come, and forget about him when all is well.
In the words of Rev. Tony Cooke of Rock Church and World Outreach Center, one of the biggest soul winning churches today, Christianity today is “CASUAL, not committed ; based on CONVENIENCE, not on covenant; knows COMFORT, but not the cross; is COMPROMISED, not consecrated; and produces CARNALITY, not Christ-likeness”
In his book titled In the Pursuit of God (1982), author A.W. Tozer writes, “It will require a determined heart and more than a little courage to wrench ourselves loose from the grip of our times and return to biblical ways.”
Returning to the ways of God’s Word is the timeless invitation of Jesus, proclaimed in his well-known teaching on the Wise and Foolish Builders. The foolish builder built his house on an unstable ground. He poured out his wealth and his hard-earned resources building a house that turned out to be substandard when the storms came. The wise builder chose a very stable foundation on which to construct. When the mighty storms came, the house stood perfectly still.
Explaining about the parable, Jesus says, 24 “…everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Hearing God’s Word and obeying them, listening and acting out, paying close attention and applying to everyday life.
These days, when so many voices are competing for our attention, it is seriously challenging to hear God’s voice, especially when people start commenting that Scriptures are too absolute; too offensive; too patriarchal; too Jewish; too simplistic; too narrow-minded and exclusivist.
Meanwhile, we conveniently make up our own standards of morality; we design our own rules; we misuse and abuse our freedom and we convince each other that all is fine — not knowing that the sound of the strong winds lurks around, coming closer and closer than we ever thought or imagined!
Then we wake up one day in the middle of an unbelievable storm, sinking deeper and deeper into the ground, having nothing and no one to hold onto because we have lived like fools.
How do we operationalize the application of this sermon once we all step out of church, and head back to our usual lives? That’s a good question. I encourage first of all that we pray — harder, more sincerely, and more heartfelt than ever before.
Once we are in the presence of God, let us all feel free to have a change of heart to welcome a re-direction in our priorities and pursuits; and to allow the Holy Spirit to give us a fresh and right attitude towards the Word of God.
Second, we should take practical actions. We can start gathering again as families to reflect on God’s Word — we can consider making certain sacrifices in adjusting our schedules to make quality spiritual time for these priceless family moments. We can also consider attending Bible Study groups, especially for those of you who desire deeper studies and insights into the Word of God.
There are a number of groups you can join in the church. People are secretly frightened to attend these groups for fear they will be asked to pray or interpret a verse or disclose certain things in their lives that are too private. I know the feeling. It’s not as bad as we actually imagine it to be.
Taking the initial step in always the challenge, but once we take things to heart, God will surprise us with the rest.
Third, we persevere. Those of you who are stronger spiritually should start leading others closer to the Lord. It takes a different level of accountability to care and look after others.
But we can’t be just receiving and receiving every time. We need to have an output of our learning. Persevering also means taking greater pains in living lives that are truly Christ-like — avoiding compromising situations; walking away from petty fights, arguments, and useless competitions; overcoming sinful bondages; establishing godly relationships; pursuing faithfully what is truly merciful, just and right; and serving the Lord steadfastly with our time, our financial resources, and our God-given gifts and talents.
As we continue to witness the unfolding of human history in these very unstable times, may we, as God’s people in Christ, continually choose what is truly wise.
As builders of our lives in Christ, let us all humbly but courageously face the rains, the floods, and the winds. As we hear and obey Christ and his Words, let our hearts be strengthened beyond words.
Life may not be as we always hope and expect, but for sure, we are secure. Let us, therefore, brace ourselves. Ever prepared for the worse, but always hoping for the best in the Lord. Pray. Take practical actions. Persevere.