How Firm Is Your Foundation?

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Jesus stressed the importance of laying a good foundation for your life. But WHY should I be concerned with my life's foundation, and HOW can I make sure I've laid the right foundation?

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By Jeff Strite
By Jeff Strite
Summary: Jesus stressed the importance of laying a good foundation for your life. But WHY should I be concerned with my life's foundation, and HOW can I make sure I've laid the right foundation?
Several years ago there was a new housing subdivision in Mesquite, NV. It was a beautiful building project and absolutely brand new… but there was a problem. Several months after many of the families had moved in, serious cracks began to develop in the driveways and roads, and there was a constant disturbing smell of methane gas coming from ground
What was wrong? Well, it seems the builders of the subdivision had built about 8 of the homes directly on top of a landfill –and that landfill was about 20 feet beneath the living rooms of these homes. Things got so bad the floors shook and the walls began to crack… and houses began to sink into the ground.
Obviously – someone had forgotten the importance of building on a good foundation
Now, renovators of older houses will tell you that there are 2 things they look for when they decide to take on a project. First, they want to know if the roof sound, and second they want to make sure the foundation is solid. They can fix just about anything else… but if either of the roof or the foundation is bad they won’t even look at the house.
Here in , Jesus tells us to pay close attention to our foundation. Jesus tells us the wise man “dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” But the fool “built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
ILLUS: In the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus used a much similar illustration. But in that sermon He spoke of the wise man building his house on a rock whereas the fool built his on sand. Now, in the days of Jesus, that was a powerful piece of imagery. His audience could picture a man building his house on the sand where he would lose it to a massive flood. You see, back that day, much of the water in Israel came down out of the mountains. And when there’s a heavy rain in the mountains it came down in a flood, and you could pretty well tell where the water was going to flow because there were dry river beds (called wadis) where the waters thunder down toward the sea. When there were no floods, the river bed was flat and easy to build on… but a wise man would never do that.
Here’s a video I found online that gives you an idea of how foolish such a construction job would have been: (timestamp 1:09-1:54)
Now, why would anybody in their right mind build on dry riverbed if that’s going to happen? Well, apparently someone who would do that would not be in their right minds. They’d not be very smart. In fact, the only motivation for building a home on those river beds would have been laziness. It was flat, easy ground and housing construction wouldn’t take much effort.
But notice what Jesus said about the wise man: he “dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock”. The wise builder had to work hard to make sure his foundation was secure.
ILLUS: Years ago my daddy built a house into the side of a hill. And he wanted to make sure that the basement of the home (which was the foundation of the house) had “6 bag cement”. Have any of you ever heard of “6 bag cement” (some of the older members had). That was an old farmer’s way of saying he wanted enough bags of cement in the mix to make sure that the foundation would be strong and solid. All the time that mom and dad lived in that house, there was only one minor crack that ever showed up in that basement because dad built his house on a firm foundation.
Now, everybody in Jesus’ audience understood the absurdity of a person being so lazy that they didn’t even bother to think about how or where he they built their house. But, of course, Jesus wasn’t talking about a “Stick-built home”. Jesus was talking about the kind of foundation you build your LIFE on.
Just to be clear, as long as it doesn’t rain, it doesn’t matter what kind of foundation you build on. But sooner or later… it’s going to rain. It doesn’t matter if you’re a righteous man of God… or a selfish godless atheist… the rain is going to fall And what Jesus is saying is saying is this: There will come a time when you’re going to struggle. A time when the wind will blow, and the rains will fall, and the floods will beat upon your life, and you’ll feel like everything is falling apart. And HOW you build your FOUNDATION is going to make all the difference of whether or not you can stand in the midst of those storms.
Now Jesus is saying there are basically only 2 types of foundations you can build your life on. You can build on the teachings of Jesus’ … or you can build on something else.
Jesus’ teachings will work. Everything else won’t. Jesus said a wise man is the one who “… COMES to me and HEARS my words and DOES them….” Everybody else is like the fool who builds his house on a foundation of sand.
That’s it. There’s no other foundation. It’s either Jesus… or its sand.
In fact, Scripture tells us there’s only one true foundation you can depend on. says “…no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Without Jesus you can build a house. But without Jesus you won’t have a foundation.
In fact, Jesus says something like that in . “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Seriously? That’s doesn’t seem right. How could it possibly be true that you can’t build on any other foundation than Jesus?
I gave that a lot of thought, and suddenly I saw my answer in the key statement of this passage: Jesus said, a wise man (who builds on the rock) is someone “… who comes to me and HEARS my words and does them.”
There’s a lot of people out there who think the Bible has some good stuff to tell us. But they also believe that there’s a lot of OTHER TRUTH out there that’s just as good as what we find in Scripture. They believe there are other good books with great wisdom that we should listen to. And so they tend to mix a lot of human reasoning (from those other books of wisdom) into God’s reasoning… because, well, they believe they’re both equally good stuff.
ILLUS: That’s the kind of thinking that got the Catholic Church into trouble. Back in the Middle Ages for example, the Catholic leaders got so they weren’t satisfied with centering their thinking on Scripture. They felt the Bible was God’s Word…but they’d gotten to the point where they didn’t believe it was the FINAL WORD!
There were a lot of really smart people in the Catholic Church who began to study the philosophers and great teachers of other cultures - and specifically Greek culture - and they seriously began to believe that these human teachers/philosophers were almost infallible. I mean – those ancient teachers were so smart!
But then, one day there came a man named Galileo – he studied stars through his telescope and he strongly believed in Scripture. From his study of heavenly skies, Galileo became convinced that the earth revolved around the sun. Is that true? Does the earth revolve around the sun? Of course it’s true. We’ve known that thruth ever since childhood.
Well, back in that day, the Catholic Church didn’t believe that. They (along with many others of their time) believed that the sun revolved around the earth! In fact, they so firmly believed this that they built their theology around that falsehood. And so, when Galileo began to question what they KNEW was true, they became so angry with him that they accused him of heresy, put him under house arrest – and threatened him with torture unless he recanted. So he did.
Now there have been various skeptics like Voltaire who have maintained that the main reason the medieval Catholic Church was so convinced of the sun revolving round the earth was because - that’s what the Bible taught. But that’s not true. The Catholic teaching on this was not based on Scripture. Instead it was based on the teachings of a Greek philosopher named Aristotle. Through defective experiment, Aristotle determined that the earth was at rest, and therefore, the sun must orbit the earth and not vice-versa. (“The Private Life of Galileo” (London, England, 1870), p. 73 quoted by James Brodrick, S.J., Galileo, the Man, His Work, His Misfortunes (New York City, New York: Harper & Row, 1964), pp. 76-77; translated by Mary Allan Olney)
You see, the theologians of that day were convinced that there was a DIFFERENT truth out there than Scripture. They weren’t satisfied with just hearing God and basing their thinking on His Word. They wanted to hear other authorities as well. And if those other authorities contradicted or modified the Bible… well, the Bible was just Old Stuff, and pretty boring stuff. The other experts were just so much more impressive… and therefore they felt they ought to listen to them.
But Jesus said: "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know THE TRUTH, and the truth will set you free."
In His final prayer in the Garden Jesus asked the Father to “Sanctify (His followers) in the truth; YOUR WORD IS TRUTH.”
And Jesus said … "I am the way, and THE TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus and his teachings are truth. Anything that contradicts it is false.
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t read other books, or that we should ignore the wisdom of other cultures or wise men. What I am saying is that they are secondary to God’s Word. I’ve got 1000s of illustrations in my files with 100s upon 100s of quotes by clever people who make very wise observations. And I have 1000s of stories and statistics by wise individuals who help me better understand God’s Word and man’s character. But here’s the deal… the only way those quotes, stats and stories get into my files is if they adhere to one basic truth:
God’s Word is ALWAYS right. I can be wrong… but God is NEVER wrong.
A wise man HEARS the words of Jesus because Jesus’ words are TRUTH.
So a wise man HEARS the words of Jesus. Secondly, a wise man DOES what Jesus asks Him to do. Jesus tells us a wise man (who builds on the rock) is someone :… who comes to me and hears my words and DOES them.”
The foundation of your life is going to be based upon what you decide to DO in your life. And you can either DO what YOU want to do, or you can DO what JESUS wants you to DO! But either decision will determine the foundation you lay down.
ILLUS: This is all has to do with WHO IS IN CHARGE of your life. (I had a chair on stage that I moved to the front of the stage). This chair represents the throne of my heart. Before I became a Christian (I sat down on the chair) I was the one who sat on that throne. But after I became a Christian that had to change. I had to surrender that throne to Jesus (I stood up, and then kneeled beside the chair). I had to let Him take authority in my life and decide what I needed to do.
But why would that make any difference? Can’t I decide to do what I want to do with my life? Well of course you can… no one’s going to stop you. But if that’s your pattern - if your pattern to choose YOUR path over Christ’s - then you’re gonna end up hurting yourself
tells us “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death.”
But how come? Why would that be?
Well, your decisions (and mine) are based on limited understanding.
ILLUS: Yesterday, Scott (our family minister) and I had a need to go to a specific place in Marion, IN. I’ve been to Marion about 3 times in my lifetime and Scott’s been there once. Thus, all we knew was that Marion was off somewhere “that way” (off to the East). Now, we might have just started driving in that direction… and we might have stumbled on the right road to get to that city But even then, once we got to Marion we had NO IDEA where the building was we were looking for.
So, what do you think we did? That’s right, we used our GPS (Global Positioning System). We needed a map… a guide… something to help us find our way… because our understanding was limited. If we wanted to get where we needed to get. We needed GPS. If we hadn’t had that, we were bound to get lost, get frustrated and maybe not even reach our destination.
Now, what Jesus is telling us is this… you can’t get what you need to get in your life if you’re not willing to use His GPS (GOD Positioning System). Unless we’re willing to do what He tells you to do we’re gonna get lost… frustrated… and things aren’t going to work out real well for us. So… we need to LISTEN to Jesus, and DO what He tells us to do.
The last thing I want to focus on is this: Jesus tells us a wise man (who builds on the rock) is someone “… who COMES TO ME and hears my words and does them.”
There’s a lot of people out there who believe that Jesus is a great teacher, and that all you need to do is read His words and obey what He teaches and everything will be just fine. They don’t want to come to Jesus… they just believe obeying His teachings is sufficient.
But if that’s all Christianity is … IF Christianity is just a bunch of teachings – a lot of “DOS and DON’TS - then Christianity would be no different than any other religion, because they’re all based on DO and DON’TS too
What those other religions teach is that YOU can DO what has to be done. But the Bible says… no, YOU can’t. “All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Thus, without Jesus… you and I simply don’t have what it takes to do what takes to DO the right things in our lives.
That’s why Paul wrote: “… I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
You see, without Jesus – all we’re left with is moral code. Now, that’s not a bad thing, but it leaves us to do everything on our own. Thus, when the storms rise, and the rain falls, and floods beat upon our lives we can be overwhelmed. Without Jesus we don’t have any real hope in this life because there isn’t anyone there with us.
But WHEN Jesus died for us, buried and rose from grave He proved to us that He was capable of overcoming the most threatening storm we face in our lives – death. And God tells us that the same power that overcame death lives in us. ()
Jesus is our foundation. His teaching are critical to how we live our lives… but it’s Jesus Himself who makes the difference.
Lee Strobel wrote: “As we say around here, other religions are spelled 'D-O,’ because they teach that people have to do a bunch of religious rituals to try to please God. But Christianity is spelled ‘D-O-N-E’ because Christ has done it all on the cross — and we just need to receive Him.”
That’s why the Bible never says you need to clean yourself up FIRST before you can come to Jesus. You could NEVER do enough to be clean enough to make it so Jesus would love you. Which is just as well… because He said He loved you and I just as we were.
All you need to do to become receive Jesus is
BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
REPENT of your sins.
CONFESS JESUS as your Lord and Master
And be BURIED in the waters of baptism and rise up a new creature.
Then (and only then) can His teachings do all that you need done in your life.
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