I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Matthew 7:24-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Hearers and Doers
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
As I write this, outside my window are the sounds of construction in preparation for the children’s wing expansion here at the church. To provide power for the new facilities, as well as the current facilities, we had to put in a new underground electrical vault with three transformers. The vault is large and to build it, the contractors has to dig a very large hole more than twenty feet deep. Just a few feet under the surface they hit rock. This church was built on rock—a firm foundation.
As I thought about that, my mind went to the words of Jesus at the close of the Sermon on the Mount: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed.”
So, there is this other sense in which our church is built on rock—the solid rock of listening to and acting on the teachings of Jesus.
When Jesus spoke about houses and foundations he knew what he was talking about. We know from the gospels that Jesus was a stonemason by trade and his family was most likely in the construction business. The Greek word that is translated “carpenter” in the gospel of Mark when Jesus’ trade is described is the word “techton,” which means “construction worker.” Jesus’ trade involved using all the materials available for building—including wood. However, houses were not built of wood. They were built of stone. The people there, listening to Jesus’ teaching, understood well the significance of building houses upon rock versus sand. But many people chose not to live in the rocks. It meant grading the side of a slope and hauling up materials. Living in the hills made for more difficult travel. Water had to be carried uphill and winter winds were colder. Many people followed the path of least resistance and built along the riverbeds. It was just easier that way.
Though flooding was a danger, most of the year the streams trickled pleasantly down the hillsides into the river nearby. But on rare occasions, perhaps only once a generation, the 100-year flood would come. There would be a combination of an unusually heavy snow, a quick spring thaw, a torrential downpour. The result was a vicious flashflood that swept away everything in its path. Entire villages washed away. House after house gone—completely destroyed!
That’s the image drawn here in Matthew 7. It comes from the life of these people gathered around Jesus on that day he delivered this sermon. Jesus was talking about a choice that was very real in the life of the people: what kind of foundation will I build on? There is hardly a more important decision than the foundation on which a building is built. That’s why in construction core samples are taken and engineers involved in planning before the dirt is even moved.
The Foundation we build on is the key! That goes not only for buildings, but for lives. So, Jesus’ parable has something important to say to us today:
We are all involved in building a life and the structure of our faith. Jesus was calling on us to think about the building of our lives. These words of Jesus raise a very important question: On what kind of foundation are you building your life?
Jesus is saying that in large measure you and I determine what kind of person we will become by choosing what kind of foundation we build our lives on. You and I are building our lives. Everyday of our life, either consciously or unconsciously, we are involved in building. How strong is the foundation on which we are building?
This is important because storms will come. They come to every life. Very few people, if any, avoid the storms. For some, they are frequent and severe. For others, only a few storms assault in a lifetime, but the storms of life confront every human being. Sometimes those storms are intense.
We are not exempt from the storms of life. They come at us from all directions. They hurt. When the storms of life rage against us–no matter what they are–we need a firm foundation. That foundation is the teaching of Jesus put into action.
It is clear that building a life on words and thoughts and intentions is not enough. A life built on a strong foundation requires action.
Some of the people who use a Christian vocabulary most vocally and loudly live lives that bear little resemblance to self-giving, loving, disciplined and trusting life of Jesus.
The hope of the world is that there will be many people who will build their lives on the firm foundation of understanding and living Jesus’ teachings.
So, what are the central aspects of the firm foundation of Jesus’ teachings? There are many we could name, but here are a few:
Investment in Other People—Self-Giving
Trust and Confidence.
There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “How Firm a Foundation”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster