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Friday, April 20, 2012

Building Your House on the Sand or the Rock?

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."

Never put your trust in something that can be taken away. It doesn’t matter what it is. The things which you lack that cause you insecurity will also be the things which you cannot have enough of to give you security. If you are insecure about money there will never be enough money to make you secure. If you are insecure about your abilities, no amount of compliments will suffice to heal your insecurity.

Trust proceeds obedience. The reason people fail to obey the Lord is a lack of trust in Him. They believe that doing what makes them feel good for the moment is better than what God has commanded them to do. In other words, they do not trust that God has their best interests in mind. They see Him one who demands for His own purposes alone. They do not see His purposes as also best for those who serve Him. They may think of Him as such because they fail to obey Him when it is either inconvenient or circumstances appear unfavorable.

Thus, they fail to obey God with a tithe because they do not believe God will supply their needs. They fail to pray because they do not believe He will answer. They fail to have any real peace because they are always fearing that they will lose the things they have put their trust in. They fear for retirement because they don’t think they will have enough money. They fear for their health, their children, their jobs, their marriages and everything else they have trusted in which can be lost.

Of course, this also means that they fail to “know” God’s will. The reason they fail to recognize God’s will because they cannot grasp doing something outside of their past experiences. Their lives are filled with their hard work which has resulted in good things. They do not trust that God has given them their jobs or health or anything necessary to accomplish their work. Though they may say they trust in God, they act like He doesn’t exist.

So, they have a very immature faith. They believe in eternal life only because they have no known alternative but reject almost every other act. An act of obedience from faith rather than a forseeable future is met with words of absurdity. They ridicule those who speak of reaching any number of new believers outside the numbers they have previously seen. They do not understand the spiritual aspect of giving as a God who moves in the hearts of others to raise any amount of money needed. They do not grasp that real prayer results in people being healed, jobs being given or God giving direction in what should be done.

Their lives are so full of anxieties because they believe that their anxieties would be relieved if they only had more of what they are anxious about. This is the real reason they do not obey God. This is the real reason their lives sink, shake and are blown around. They are always victims of circumstances. They never have the peace of God.

Their houses are always subject to a great crash.

It is not so for those who trust in God. They listen for His commands and do them. They have already given up trust in those things that can be taken away. Unlike the “rich, young ruler” they have counted all that they have as being subject to the Lord’s command. They would sell everything they had and give it to the poor if the Lord commanded. They can do so because they are not putting their trust in these things.

Their trust in the Lord is very stable. They hear His commands because their past experiences are full with hearing Him. They trust more readily because their past is full of times of trust. Their circumstances may not be so different from the untrusting but they are not tossed back and forth like straws in the wind. They can be characterized as mature.


Anonymous said...

For this text of Matt 7:24-27 about the house on the sand or the rock, there are 2 angles to be considered. One, Ps Prentis has touched on, in his entry, which is “What is the foundation made of”; the other is that about “How is the foundation laid”.

The house here can be said generally as our life. What is your life’s foundation? What is it founded upon? Does it collapse easily? It said, metaphorically, that if it were founded on sand, like a house can be founded on such, it collapses easily; on the other hand, if it were founded on the rock, it does NOT collapse. This reminds me of the story of the 3 little pigs, which pig are you? (Hope none is offended!); the one who built the house out of brick, or the one who built his home out of straw? Now, concerning this – the building of our life or house, there are 3 issues:

1) Some knows, some does NOT know what makes a strong foundation for a house or life. Some thinks it is sand, some thinks it is wood, some thinks it is rock or brick. So, the first question is “Do you know what makes the strong foundation?” The answer is the Word of God – there, in verse 24.

2) Now, that you know, it is the Word of God that is what would make the strong foundation, the next question is, “Do you know how to lay the foundation?”

Many people say, “I know that” whenever they hear the truths being preached to them, or whenever read of the same, somewhere. When we speak about a certain truth or truths in Scripture, straightaway, these people say in their heart or aloud, “I know that”. Mere “I know that” does NOT build a foundation for your house or your life.

Faith is NOT “I know that”, Obedience is NOT “I know that”, and love is also NOT “I know that”. “I know that” simply means you have knowledge. Knowledge NOT applied, is nothing; and more often than NOT, our saying, “I know that” are mere empty words.

Empty words don’t build strong foundation; knowledge NOT applied does NOT build strong foundation. It is even NOT Incorrect, to say that the Word is neutral; just like we say, the Bible can be “just ink on paper”, and “just a book”. To the unskilled builder of a house or life, the rock is just a material, the Bible is just a book; the Word is just a way of life!

The Word is a way of life, but it is NOT merely a (or any) way of life. If one views the rock as just one of the materials, the Word is just a book, or it is one of the many ways of life, he is NOT going to build a strong foundation for his home or his life. Inevitably their attitude becomes, “I can choose if I will use it! Maybe I will use it; sometimes, I will use it, or if it is convenient, I will use it; otherwise, I will apply something else; or worse still, the rock is left in the shack, or the Word is left to collect dust on the top shell of the cabinet!”

Stop the “I know that” and start to apply the Word in your life. Jesus was very clear as to how to build the foundation; first, the material for the strong foundation is His Word, and then the way to go about using the material to build the foundation is to apply it, practise it – it is clearly written there, in verse 24.

3) The third issue is “Do you want to do that; I mean build a strong foundation by practising His Word?” You know that, but you are NOT doing that! Yes, there is all “the because”; but I will NOT particularly, go into the “because or reasons”. The point is, you need to “want to”, build a strong foundation.

Interesting, “Never put your trust in something that can be taken away.” Ultimately, our trust is in God. So, is God something that can be taken away? Ps Prentis is right, that God is NOT something or someone that can be taken away; it is you leaving Him behind! It is NOT someone or something takes away your God or my God, it is we leaving Him behind, and continuing on our journey or doing our things.

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Anonymous said...

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Money, you don’t leave behind or leave it by the roadside, but still it can be taken away from you – you can be robbed, conned, made to depart with it. Even peace, you can be robbed of it. God is different, He is NOT a finite item or person; no one needs to take away another’s God so that he/she can have his/her God. God is infinite or His Word is inexhaustible, meaning I can have as much of God and draw as much as I want from the Word, and you can still get equally much if NOT more out of God or His Word. There is no “zero sum game”, here. Or we say there is NOT a “musical chair” scenario at work.

Money, on the other hand, is a finite thing; there is only so much money in circulation until to your government print more! If you are a US citizen, nowadays, one of the debates is: should the government print more money, without the value being supported! You know it affects; if you double the dollar bills, the same dollar you are having is going to buy you half the stuff!

On the other hand, there is just no reason for Christians to be selfish, or in Singapore’s lingo, there is NO need to be “kiasu”. Like in the feeding of the 5,000, there is always enough for all, and still some left over! Ps Prentis is saying rightly, “Our primary trust must NOT be on things that are exhaustible, that can diminish. You want to put your primary trust in your monetary assets, like your villa or bungalow? Well, one hurricane, or one earthquake, and they can vanish into thin air! Well, you say, “I sure can always depend on my clever brain, my powerful mind with all the knowledge and skill I possessed.” Any strange disease can come on, and you can lose your brain power just like that! The list can go on and on; the conclusion is: our primary trust is to be in God. Only in God, we can rest secure, because He changes NOT; He diminishes NOT; and He is inexhaustible.

Trust is an interesting thing, it cannot exist devoid of knowledge; but is also NOT that full knowledge is implied when trust is called for. Some people think of trust this way: “I will trust you if you bring it to appear before my eyes!” When you have a thing as a fact, there is no trust; absolutely no trust involved. At the same time, trust also cannot exist in complete absence of knowledge. When you trust with no knowledge at all, you are just being plain gullible! As a believer, our proposition to a non-believer is NOT that.

Before we can speak about trusting a person, be it a man or a being, God even, we need to have some knowledge of the person; better still, know the person to some extent. It is impossible to trust with nil knowledge. Remember, I am NOT saying there is no place for knowledge; there is a place for “I know that”, but it is, “it is NOT to stop there”
If you know next to nothing about Jesus, how are you to accept Him as your Lord and Savior! That is why we have to tell people about Jesus. Our relating of the Gospel gives “some knowledge” upon which trust can possibly form. The biblical faith, closely akin to trust, operates the same manner, and in Heb 11:6, it is said there that “without faith it is impossible to please God”, and it went on to say that he that cometh to God must believe “that He is”, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. To believe “Who He is” implied you have some knowledge of who He is. You may NOT have all knowledge of Him, but you need to have some knowledge of Him, before you can believe or trust Him.

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Anonymous said...

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A lot people could NOT be bothered with the “missing link” between getting from a non-believer to be a new believer, and then to an obedient/mature believer! Yes, Ps Prentis said, “Trust precedes obedience”. But it does NOT tell fully what the missing link is. The missing link is growth in knowledge of Him, and growth in knowing Him. From knowing next to nothing, to knowing some basic knowledge of Jesus or God, enabling us to have faith to believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, to entrusting our life, NOT just in pledges, but in willing submission, we need to know more about God, and know Him more and more.

Of course, the difference between knowing ABOUT God and knowing Him is that the latter is about knowing Him personally. However, it is NOT that we must know everything about God or all of His ways, that we will trust Him. The very meaning of trust implied “we do NOT have full knowledge”. It is right to say, “Trust precedes obedience”, but it is NOT necessarily that we must know and understand the rationale behind what we are asked to do by God, that we go do it, or obey it. In other words, obedience to God does NOT need you understanding (so don’t insist!); only needs you to trust God.

Do you believe and trust in what the Word declared of God as Holy and as Wisdom, and as Almighty; meaning there is no evil in God (God is good, and good all the time, and God cannot be evil), and that He is Wisdom (He is the wisest!), and that He is all powerful (none as powerful as Him)? If you do, then God’s command is primarily to be obeyed, and NOT for us to ask, “Why; before we will obey!” Meaning, God can be trusted as having our interests at heart, even as His interest must come first.

Now I must insist that we must include the latter, in the last sentence above. “Even as His interest must come first” needs to be inserted, when we expound God’s goodness to individuals. Recently, I have had a teenage girl coming up to me for prayer in my altar ministry, and before she could finish explaining her prayer request, she was sobbing away because she was disappointed in God. To her, “God failed her and her team”. Now, I really cannot blame the teenager; after all, she is still young in her faith, although she explained she was born into a Christian family. She is part of a squash school team, and she shared that she and her team practised hard, and she prayed hard, that they would win, which will make their school proud, and glorify God, for she prayed hard, and her teammates knew that.

She related that although she was ranked as a good player and she knew she was (meaning it was a fact), and she was arranged to play against a player of another school whom she also knew was NOT ranked as a good player, yet she lost miserably; one of her worst games ever! She explained she was so sad, it could turn out to be like that, despite she practised hard and prayed hard.

You see one of the problems we have, if you have NOT been reminded from time to time, is that we think God should be looking after our singular interest only. No, no, it is NOT all about you alone. We forget so easily that there are others, God has to take care of, too. You are a child of God, another, from another school, he/she too, is a child of God; you prayed hard; he/she can also be praying hard if NOT harder; must God just ignore the fellow in that school, and only favor you alone?

I am NOT saying there is anything wrong with the teenage girl’s motive to win for the school and to glorify God, but it is that we have to grow to understand that it is one thing to know of our identity as a child of God, it is another to live out that identity. We have to grow and know, and accept that we are a child of God, many are, too, and God has to love them even as He loves you. In one sense, this is what God meant when He said He plays NOT “favoritism”. Often times, I noticed preacher made “too much deal” out of our identity, instead of telling people to live out their identity.

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Anonymous said...

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The next time you think God failed you (your house/life crashed!), despite you have done all the right stuff, don’t be angry with God; don’t decide NOT to pray to Him anymore, or don’t decide NOT to go to church anymore or protest by dropping the use of your Christian name (people do that; when I was a teenager, a school friend who shared the gospel to me; he did that after he did NOT do well in his examination). It can be, there is a chastisement element involved, or it can be, He is refining you, a molding to get you to grow in a certain area, etc, or He is indeed favoring another brethren who needed what you needed, more than you, and God considered it you are worthy to be sacrificial!

For the last point, we should view it as an honor and privilege to be God’s vessel of blessing. It is indeed, you have sacrificed if you ought to have gotten the contract, for example, instead, God “swung it” to another party. This is also why, it can be said to us, that in all things, we are to give thanks unto God. Yes, God has our interest at heart, yet He cannot be untrue to Himself, by ignoring all others, and has His world revolves only around you all the time. That is why Scripture also said most emphatically, that if you love God, share His love for others. Don’t be angry with God, I repeat.

Recently, a brethren of my age, shared that more than 16 years ago, he left church, because he took it that God had disappointed him when his girlfriend whom he brought to the church, ditched him for another brethren in the church. He chose to leave God behind, and wandered out there; done so much damage to his own life, and he almost lost his life, and at his near death encounter, God was gracious to beckon him back, and he came back into the church. It can be, a part of maturity, to accept that you have prayed and the outcome is still NOT to your liking! If you dump God, you do so at your own detriment!

So much for God failing people! Actually, God does NOT fail. Let’s look at the other way round; people failing God, instead. People fail God because they do NOT obey; and they do NOT obey because 1) they do NOT want to obey, 2) they want to know why, and God is NOT obliged to tell why, and so, they obey NOT; 3) they do NOT believe enough of who God is, and they chose NOT to trust; 4) they are too casual with God.

Of the reasons above, the last one, “being too casual with God” is the most insidious failing! I must admit I am guilty of that, too often. I am too casual with, “It’s alright, God can understand!” I ask for indulgence too much! What about you?

Scripture or the Word is the material of the foundation of our life, but why do we NOT practise it? It prescribes “THE way of Life” (not just a way of life), but do we go by it? It all boils down to: we have NOT come to know more ABOUT Him, know Him more, and to trust Him more. Rather, we put our trust in men, in other deities, in things, in our ability, in our wealth, etc. The important idea to latch on too, is the same idea as “precept upon precept”, meaning we build trust, level upon level; and so, it takes intensity and time to arrive at certain level(s), and consistency. Jesus used the right word, “practise” His Word.

We have too often chosen to want to experience the purported successful ways of the world, instead of putting to practice, the ways of God, as prescribed in His Word. This inclination of ours, is further reinforced by skewed teachings from the overly grace segment of the Christian community, telling us to just bask in grace, and NOT work on the practising of ways of God (in this world) as our enforcing of the victory of Christ Jesus, as our role of bringing down of the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, of letting the will of God be done on earth as in Heaven.

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Anonymous said...

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There has to be a balanced teaching on relying and resting on the grace of God, and the need for us to do our part, even as God does His part. If we just bask and do nothing, meaning we don’t put into practice, the WHOLE counsel of the Word of God, our life is NOT going to be robust enough to withstand the storms. Relying and resting on the grace of God does NOT mean “God, I don’t have to do anything at all, NOT even to put my endowment and ability to work; it is you, you God, who must do all the work!” It is NOT like that; turn that wolf in sheep skin out, please.

On the other hand, when we work and we let our ability and effort swell our head, we will fall prey to the snare of the world and of the devil, to trust in ourselves, to our detriment. Once we are NOT humble before God, we become enemy of God. We may put our hands to the plough; if there is to be true establishment of our work; it is God who establish it, without which we may labour in vain; or success is short-lived. The Word said and declared: God opposes the proud. The moment you become proud, God opposes you; God treats you as enemy; it is as simple as that. A proud needs to be humbled before he will humble, and that is going to be how it is; God will oppose you, until you humble (think about The Pharaoh of old!).

There has also to be a balanced teaching on a believer’s horizon perspective. By this, I mean the way a believer views the continuum of time, from our current earthly living to death, and to eternal living. A believer must NOT be living with the “now only” mentality. Living a life, ignoring tomorrow, is wrong. Christians are called to live a godly life with contentment; but it is NOT a call to “live and let live”; neither is it a call to be nonchalant about making it to Heaven; and it is also NOT right to concentrate on living in the present, and NOT plan and work a little for tomorrow.

It is utter rubbish to say that Scripture teaches us to just live for today, and NOT to plan or be bothered with tomorrow. Scripture only teaches us NOT to worry about tomorrow. Scripture only teaches us NOT to be anxious about tomorrow. Scripture teaches us to focus on the right stuff. The right thing is of course, we are NOT to live in yesterday; we only need to learn from yesterday, but we are to live today, AND “plan a little and work a little for tomorrow”.

I tell you a secret which many surprisingly do NOT know (because they were misled by skewed teachings), and it is that your Father God tweaks real-time! In other words, as a matter of norm, God looks at what happened, does what is needed for today, with a view of tomorrow. The problem with many people is that they “freeze”. Don’t freeze and live in the past, be like your Father God, move on; live today, but NOT ignoring tomorrow altogether. Some people, ok, they unfreeze, but then they move to “living today” completely ignoring tomorrow; that is NOT any good either, because you will crash out. Kick the fellow off the pulpit, if he tells you your life is a completed movie, as if God is like a director, and has directed the movie and is presently screening the movie involving you. That is NOT only superstition; that is fatalism. Christianity is neither.

A child of God cannot be nonchalant about making it to Heaven. Each time I think about this; I cannot help but say that it grieves God to hear, his children could NOT be bothered if they would make it to Heaven; what kind of love is that, that you have, for God, if you want NOT, absolutely, to get to Heaven; you break the Father’s heart, if you don’t mind NOT going to Heaven! Banish that kind of thinking, for it will provide the foothold the Devil needs, to come in and ensnare with the likes of “live and let live”, and have you counted with him (the Devil), who is destined to the burning fire of Hell.

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Anonymous said...

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We are to practise His Word (v24), and rely on His grace which flows from several heads (and NOT one head, as taught by some), the head of His love and faithfulness, the head of His righteousness and justice, and the head of His sovereignty. Scripture warns about being lazy; but Scripture does NOT say God has asked that you must do this or do that, when you are NOT up to it, before He will grant His grace; grace is without our merit; but it is also NO license for us to be lazy, and saying, “Everything is your part, God!” There is a lot more that can be said concerning the earthly phase of the Kingdom of God and the Heavenly phase of the Kingdom, and Christians have to understand they are in their earthly phase now, and their destination is, into the Heavenly phase; and so, their living is, in that sense, now and for tomorrow and eternity.

The Christian life is NOT “Now that I have accepted Christ, I am 100% going to Heaven; and that is all, how I live and what I do, in the rest of my earthly life matters NOT! And it is NOT, “I just need to have faith I will go Heaven because I have given my life to Christ; and I do NOT need to have faith with regard to anything else!” It is NOT just about the future, and it is NOT just about the present; it is NOT we are still outside of the Kingdom of God, when we have entered into salvation. It is we are already in the Kingdom of God, the earthly phase of it, and we have to live out our identity as members of the Kingdom, even now. The living out of an identity included these: 1) Receiving the blessing of the identity without merit, by grace; 2) Bearing the responsibility of the identity; and 3) accounting to higher authority, the King.

Many preachers only talk about item 1, the blessing associated with the identity, and stop there. As a prince, there are blessings associated with that identity; and we are a prince, for we are sons of the King, The Most High God. But prince has responsibility, and is accountable to the King. You are no prince if you bear NOT the responsibility of a prince, and you are no prince of the Almighty God if you refuse to account to the King. Be careful if you want to challenge God based solely on legalism! If you tell to God, “Look, I am a prince, your Word said so!”; don’t be surprised, God says, “In what ways are you a prince?” Do you have any answer for that? No answer!

God may ask you, “Who is your King; is it Me?” If your answer is, “Yes”. Don’t be surprised He asks, “Have you done anything I commanded?” What is your answer? Do you think you can answer, “I thought I only needed to have salvation faith, fullstop!” Or are you going to ask God if He had been clear that you were supposed to work (produce fruit or doing good works) or exercise faith? Well, I will answer for God, for you: Eph 2:10, you are saved unto good works! The call of God is, to me, NOT “God gets you to accept Jesus Christ, and when you done that, you are immediately perfected, and you can then dump God at the sidewalk, and you go on to do whatever you like, then on your death, you just pick God back up, and say to Him, “Now, God, open the gate of Heaven that I may enter!”

If you are effectively dumping God at the sidewalk, you should NOT be surprised that you experience NOT the peace of God, prayers always do NOT work for you, you have to work “your tails off”, and God does NOT seems around; you dumped Him behind there, by the sidewalk!

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Anonymous said...

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Maybe you are NOT like that, but you are more like me, and so many others, if they care to admit; we often don’t dump God, but we cold-storage God. When we reach church, we take God out of the storage, and when we leave church, we stuff Him back into the box. When we need something, we again take Him out of the box, and we pray, and then, we stuff Him back into the box. And when we give up on prayer, we don’t even think about Him. Is that how we should be viewing our identity? Is that how we should be responsible, and be accountable to one who gives us the identity? When we cold-storage God, we are choosing to face the world ourselves; to take all the punches from the world without God; and so we face the consequences of that, and we bear all the inability and anxiety from that. We are unable because we cold-storage the Able One; we are full of anxiety, because we have told the Peace Giver, to shut up; that you will deal with the world yourself!

What most of us lack is 1) the lack of the hearing the Word being correctly taught out, 2) the lack of putting into practice of those correctly taught truths, and 3) the lack of positive experiences with God, the direct result of the first 2 lacks. Positive experiences with God are important; it will help bolster our faith and trust in God.

If you do NOT know about God enough, you have to get to know more about Him; go to a good church, where the core theologies of the faith are correctly taught. If you do NOT know God enough, you have to get to know Him more; start serving Him in some way; that is the best advice I can give you, so that you can begin to experience Him. It is when you are working together with God, that you will able to see how God is.

You may say, “But I don’t know what He wants me to do?” Follow the logos commands in the Word; obey His commands (e.g. be engaged in the Great Commission, be blessing, in the name of the Lord), and be diligent to apply His Word. And you will find God coming alongside you, by His Spirit, and revealing Himself to you, directly, or indirectly through your working together with Him. When it is the case of a man, we either learn to trust the fellow more and more, or after seeing all the unacceptable ways of the fellow, you distrust him; but with God, your positive experiences with His Spirit will bolster your trust in Him.

Banish from your mind, that we who trust God (more than you), got it all by just basking in grace; most of us grow by “constant use” described in Heb 5:14, bit-by-bit, we eat the Word of God, by hearing and practising them, thereby building the foundation of our life.

Sometimes, we do hear that someone seems to have come this far, through some short-cut! Short-cuts are of grace flowing from the sovereignty of God; stop banging on them; receive in, the grace from the love and faithfulness of God, let it undergirds you, and you are then to lock onto the grace that is more predictable and that is flowing from the righteousness and justice of God, and which is stepping from the infallibility of His Word, for, by and large, His righteousness and justice is in His written Word. The sooner you embark on the right track, the earlier you are building a proper and strong foundation for your life and your home. Don’t just bask in grace, but live out your salvation with fear and trembling, as exhorted by the Apostle Paul (Phil 2:12).

Anthony Chia, high.expressions