January 3, 2022
Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Some of you will no doubt remember the famous Wall Street brokerage house known as E. F. Hutton. We remember it from the famous catch-phrase on their 1980’s era television commercials: “When E. F. Hutton talks. . . . people listen.” We don’t hear much about E. F. Hutton anymore. It kind of reminds me of the greatest catch phrase of all time:
“The grass withers, and the flower fades, but the Word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
That’s the big point of today’s text isn’t it? When Jesus talks . . . people listen . . . or they don’t. In these closing words of the most famous sermon ever given (a.k.a. The Sermon on the Mount), Jesus gives us two home building packages. And these aren’t spec homes. They are custom homes. Though there be a thousand choices in the building of this home, only one choice ultimately matters. That choice is the foundation on which the house is built. We can choose to build our house on the firm foundation of the rock or on the shifting sediment of the sand. Only it turns out this is not really the choice at all. After all, who would willingly choose to build their house on a foundation of sand, right? The real choice is whether to listen to his words and put them into practice or to listen and not put them into practice. We will choose one or the other. There is no “middle way.” The choice we make with respect to the Words of Jesus determines the outcome of the house we build.
In case “The grass withers, and the flower fades, but the Word of our God endures forever” wasn’t clear enough, Jesus wants to make it even plainer: You pick the floor plan. You choose the building materials. Make it as spartan or spectacular or as you want. It matters not. There are two guarantees. Guarantee #1: Storms will come against your house. Guarantee #2: The foundation will determine its future. The Taj Mahal built on a foundation of shifting sand will fall with a great crash. The most humble shanty built on the firm foundation of the impregnable fortress of the Word of God will endure forever.
That was the point I was trying to make yesterday . . . and the day before . . . and again tomorrow.
“The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
So whatever happened to E.F. Hutton? Why doesn’t anyone listen to E.F. Hutton anymore? There is a supreme irony afoot here. It turns out through a sustained series of over two thousand fraudulent banking transactions—most of them small— they lost their way, and their business. And that sound we hear? It’s not the echo of E.F. Hutton’s words but the eternally reverberating words of Jesus,
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
And that harrowingly loud crashing sound of an implosion? That’s E.F. Hutton’s house collapsing into the sand.
Yes, Lord, I want to build my life on the foundation of your Word. And yet I wonder, will it take a storm to reveal the foundation on which I have built? Would you awaken me to the Word of God, beyond the ways I have known or experienced before. I sense a new readiness in my soul, a deeper sensitivity to something you want to sow deep into the soil of my heart. Thank you for your Word, written down on scrolls and wrapped in the human flesh of your Son. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
When is the last time you seriously contemplated cheating on your taxes? Or fudging in a business deal to your own advantage? Or trying to reframe the rules or slightly bend them to help your cause? Or your children’s? When we aren’t listening to Jesus and putting his word into practice, whose words are we listening to and practicing? Friendly reminder: It’s never worth it.
I want you to consider this short course I am leading this month, How to Read the Bible Better. It’s 3 1.5 hour sessions (Monday evenings beginning Jan 17) over 3 weeks with 3 super-star special guests. Zoom-based but available on demand if schedules don’t allow. If you are looking for the training between Sunday School and Seminary this is it. Scholarships available on request. Register Here Today. It will fill.
For the Awakening,