ImportanceofBibleStudy, Jesus in Everyday Life, Matthew, My 15 Minutes

My 15 Minutes: Matthew 7:24-27: Sunshine and Thunderheads

rainWe had some of the strangest weather yesterday.

It started out with a constant misty-drizzle, everything was drippy and dreary. Then a few hours later, the sun came out displaying one of my favorite things: sunshine glittering off raindrops still clinging to the grass and trees. Everything looked bright and exciting, fresh and clean, holding the promise of a beautiful day.

Then the thunderheads started to bully their way across the sky.

rain 1.2From that point on, we flipped back-and-forth between downpours and sunshine. At one point there was thunder and lightning and sunshine all at the same time! Crazy!

While I stood at the window taking it all in, all I could think was, this is a perfect metaphor for my life right now. Some things are going beautifully. They’re a beacon shining bright, filling me with joy, anticipation, and excitement at what God is doing. (read about that here) And other things are a nasty storm rolling in, threatening to steal that joy by snuffing it out and wrapping it in darkness.

As I stood watching the leaves whip back and forth, playing tug-of-war with the wind, I wondered who would win.

Then a voice whispered: “God does. Every. Single. Time.”

Now, I know this is true. I believe it’s true. But for the first time, I allowed that Truth to take the infamous 18” journey from my head to my heart. There, it buried itself deep.

Then I prayed. Again I laid everything out before Him—my fears, worries, concerns, questions, doubts, hopes, dreams, desires, all of it—all while my own personal sunshine and thunderheads warred inside.

When I was done God reminded me of something I’d studied a few days before:

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 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. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come, and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. Matthew 7:24-27, NLT

Beloved, no matter what the weather does, what the circumstances in my life are—my faith will stand because I spend so much time in the sunshine building it on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ and The Word of God. Because I’ve committed myself to daily prayer and Bible study to build my relationship with Jesus. Because I’ve chosen to listen to listen to His teaching and follow it.

It is the same for you!

IMG_1015

What you do in the sunshine—in the good times, when things are calm(er)—is what is going to give you strength and endurance when storms hit. Believe me, a house can be built in the drizzle but it’s much harder in the storm. The same is true for our faith.

Why do you think that is?

First of all, we must remember building a house (our faith) is a process. It takes time, well-invested time. It requires a plan (Bible studies or reading plan) and quality materials (commentaries and other study aids) for the laborers (you, me, and other teachers) to work with. And the whole project will fail without a fabulous contractor (the Holy Spirit) to guide you every step of the way and help you understand the blueprints (The Bible). Without His counsel and guidance, the structure (our faith) will be unstable and fall flat when (life’s) storm beat against it.

foundation 1.0When we added onto our house, we had a solid foundation poured first to provide strength and stability, to keep things from sifting, to keep everything secure. Once that cured, our contractors started to build the framework and later the roof, walls, and interior

In regards to our faith, the foundation is already cured and ready to build on. That happened on a Friday 2000 years ago when Jesus died. And it was cured a few days later when He rose on Sunday. (Don’ you love how that worked in? ha!) The framework is the Gospel message, learning who Jesus is, and who we are in Christ. The rest of the structure is the remainder of the New and Old Testaments.

Our contractors had no problem building the framework while it was sunny and beautiful outside. In fact, it came together fast! Where there once was empty space, you could see where walls, windows, and rooms were going to be. It was amazing! Designs made on paper became realities on Earth!

Mist and drizzle slowed them down a little, but not too much. However, when we had thunderstorms, they weren’t able to do much of anything. It was too dangerous for them; they could slip and fall, get electrocuted by power tools, get hit by things getting tossed by the wind, or hit by lightning.

construction 1.0Even at that stage, after the storms passed everything was still standing, secure and unscathed. One storm was particularly nasty; I was afraid the wind was going to wrench the framed walls from the foundation, destroying everything, damaging the foundation. But it didn’t. What our contractors built in the sunshine was created with such precision, care, and superior craftsmanship it didn’t move!

It is the same with your faith.

A quick aside. What is faith?

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see… And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:1,6, NLT

As we study Scripture and follow what it says, what we read in black, white, and red becomes our reality—the foundation and structure for our lives.

What we build in the good times is what will guide us when earth-shaking thunder and hair-raising lightning disorient and confuse us. It’s what will keep us secure us when the winds howl and claw at our security. It’s what will sustain us when the torrents come threatening to drown us. It’s what will strengthen us when we want to give up and let go. We can join our voices with David and cry out:

I wait quietly before God,

for my victory comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress where I will never be shaken.

(Psalms 62:1-2, NLT, emphasis mine)

Beloved, none of your time spent studying God’s Word is wasted! Not one moment! None of your efforts was for nothing! Just like the placement of every cut in every precisely measured board, every nail, every screw, every brace, bracket, and brad—none of it was not wasted in building our addition. Each bit, each moment adds to the stability, strength, and quality of the structure.

Over time the rest of our addition came together. With each step, we could visualize the space much more clearly until it was done. (Okay, some things are still not done, but we’re getting there.)

IMG_5831It is the same with our faith. The more we study and read—the Old and New Testaments—the more God’s story becomes more clear. With each step, each moment our faith is refined, enhancing our relationship with Jesus. And the best part is, when it’s done, when it’s finished—we fall into our Savior’s embrace in Heaven.

However, when we slap our house (faith) together on whatever foundation we find—whatever is convenient, whatever is easy—it doesn’t stand up long term, does it?

Meaning, if you’re expecting rituals and rites to provide what you need when life gets ugly, that’s not going to be enough. You need the power of the Holy Spirit in you through a relationship with Jesus to provide security (Ephesians 1:19-21)

Houses built on sand = a life of hearing Jesus’ teaching and ignoring it; a life doing your own thing. This builds a false faith where

  • Scrutiny and criticism make it crumble
  • Threatening disaster make it wobble and waver
  • Crisis, trauma, hardship make it crash

The danger is, when things fall apart, you will likely blame God for it. Where before you wanted nothing to do with Him. You ignored Him. You rejected His teaching and offers of a relationship with you. You lead your own life. But because He didn’t prevent your house from crashing, you’re angry and indignant.

The truth is, you chose your foundation. You had a choice; it was there before you. You chose what you chose—to ignore Jesus and His teaching. You chose to do your own thing and reject His leading. Dear One, you can’t have it both ways. You have to choose. I had to choose. Each and every one of us has to choose.

BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS!

You’re not dead yet! There’s still hope! You can choose to rebuild your house on The Firm Foundation! That choice is always open to you!

foundation 1.1Beloved, if you are not a Believer in Jesus yet and you are in the midst of a stormy season, there is still hope! You do not have to stay in that dreary place. You can start building your faith on The Rock, which is Christ. If you are a Believer, you can get back on track.

It’s fair to warn you though, it’s a little more challenging to build during a storm. But it can be done! The fight is worth it! It just takes grit and determination. It takes a steadfast choice to believe, to surrender, to cling to Jesus.

Remember what He said: Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.

When the wind is howling it can be harder to listen, but it can be done!

When the ground is slick with rain or washed out from the floods, it can be hard to follow Him, but it can be done!

You are not alone. I am here praying for you, cheering you on. I will help you learn how to read your Bible and how to study it. Christ is here to give you traction and guide you, if you let Him. It will be harder to build your faith, but not impossible. There are other wonderful Christians and churches who will help you with the construction process.

sunsetAnd when the sun comes out again, and your foundation is secure, more building will happen. Then when the next storm rolls in, you will be safe, secure. YOU WILL NOT BE SHAKEN!

Blessings! xoxo

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