Sunday, January 12, 2014


“Everyone who hears these words of mine - and acts on them
…may be compared to:
…a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it didn’t fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

Everyone who hears these words of mine - and doesn’t act on them
…will be like:
…a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
Matthew 7.24-27

Bullets bounce off of Superman’s chest.  That is so cool!  No matter what, bad guys cannot kill him by shooting at him.  Superman was indestructible. 

This is Jesus’ promise to us.  In the SOM he told us to expect persecution, encouraged us to love our enemies, go the extra mile and not worry.  It seems those who obey Jesus will become doormats and victims.  If we have to forgive those who wrong us, love everyone (even our enemies), give up our coats (and cloaks) to every cold guy, then doesn't that mean people will take advantage of us?  Won’t we be left as homeless, hungry, cold and persecuted martyrs? 

This is the challenge of the SOM.  It appears that if we obey it, we will be in an awful situation.  And this is what Satan wants us to believe.  Satan wants us to see the problem with turning the other cheek … namely, that people will take advantage of us.  Satan wants us to be worried about things and afraid of things, for if we are, then obeying the instructions in the SOM will be impossible. 

Children who are afraid of the water don’t want to get in the pool. 

But here at the end of the lesson Jesus offers us this simple promise:
If you obey the SOM, you’ll be indestructible

Take a moment now and consider the following terms, and how they may apply to you. 
Are you:
strong * weak 
fragile * durable 
brittle * resilient 
flexible * rigid

Jesus does not offer us health, wealth or great relationships.  God doesn't bribe His creation to obey Him.  But what God will do for us all, is make us so strong that the storms of life will not harm us.  

Imagine yourself being like Superman – being “bulletproof.”  But instead of bullets bouncing off of you, imagine your greatest fear … and then imagine that your greatest fear(s) will come true, but you’ll be SO strong, SO durable, SO resilient, that it won’t matter, because it will just bounce off of you.  

Seriously … take a moment and imagine it:  
  • Maybe your biggest fear is to be alone – now imagine that you will be alone all your life, but you’ll learn to love it, so it doesn't bother you. 
  • Or if your fear is that you’ll lose something – no imagine that you DO lose it, but it doesn't matter, because you have learned how to be happy without it. 
  • Or maybe it’s physical harm – that you become blind or deaf or maimed in some way, and it happens to you, and then it just so happens that you find the love of your life in therapy and it turns out to have been the best thing that ever happened to you. 

Jesus’ promise is true.  It really does work!  You cannot avoid pain or suffering or loss in this life.  Everyone is bullied, or gets sick or is poor or blind or stupid.  Everyone has problems, and it will always be so.  But Jesus has showed us how to make those problems not hurt! 

That's why we are the people with "incomprehensible peace" guarding our hearts (Phil 4.7); who have "rest for our souls" (Matthew 11.29); and who can walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fear (Psalm 23). 

don’t look at that, look at this

Here’s the trick to this: change your focus.  Most people work to modify their outward circumstances.  If we want to be warm, we turn on heat, or put on a coat or move to a warmer place, etc.  If we’re afraid of violent crime, we move to a safe community.  Afraid of flying?  Take the train.  We work to get money – so we can buy our way out of our troubles. 

Now Jesus is telling us to focus on one thing: obeying the SOM.  Make that your life’s work, your life’s focus, your constant ambition.  And if you do, when hurtful things happen, it won’t even faze you.  Things that would destroy most people … will bounce off of you like bullets off of Superman’s chest. 
So your goal should not be to avoid pain, but: to be so strong that nothing hurts.  Stop avoiding cold, but have such a tolerance that you can walk around in it naked, like a Polar Bear. Be so patient that no one can upset you, so durable that no unkindness can provoke you, so filled with faith that you'll move forward to love without fear.  

The goal for those who follow Jesus is to be super-resilient.  The teleios disciple is just like Jesus – indestructible. And to get there, you must: 
focus on the SOM – and live it, DO it

Most people, even (sadly) most Christians are fragile.  The least little thing upsets them.  Their feelings are hurt by the slightest comment or perceived slight.  They are afraid the country is going downhill, and that things are changing, and that young people are no good, and millions of other things.  Say one word they don’t like, and they’ll freak out.  

As long as people are like this, how in the world can they obey the SOM? 
  • If you’re scared you may freeze, how can you give someone your coat and cloak? 
  • If you’re afraid someone may take advantage of you, how can you be merciful or go the extra mile? 
  • If you’re worried your family may be exposed to hunger or danger or exposure, how can you not … worry about food and clothing? 

There are only two ways to go through life.  You can try to make sure you get everything you “need,” or you can learn how to be so strong you don’t need anything (or anyone) but God. 

Most people try to live a combination of the two.  They trust God for some things (like forgiveness), but they think it’s up to them to take care of other things.  Very few trust God for everything, and praise Him for providing all, and are so confident in His blessings that they can give all of themselves and their stuff away. 

The simple message of Jesus is this: instead of working for things that perish (money, relationships, power, success); work to obey the SOM. 

What will you focus on tomorrow? 
If you will focus on obeying the SOM, and keep doing that every day, then you will eventually become indestructible.  Storms will come either way, but if you’re indestructible, then it’s because you've built your house on the rock.  Houses on the rock are battered by the same winds as their neighbors, but when the storm is over their house still stands, and they can go help their foolish neighbors. 

3c reminder

We started this series of lessons by doing the “three column” bible study.  That third column (I will) is vital, and it’s the whole reason for this section of the SOM.  Jesus says that if you will really do that third column, you’ll be indestructible.  The question is: do you believe Jesus?  If you do, then you’ll devote your life to the SOM.  It won’t be a “once-in-a-while” study … it’ll be a lifestyle.  You’ll find yourself “seeking first the kingdom” and not worrying about tomorrow.  You’ll work hard to let your light shine so people glorify GOD (not you, not your church or your country, but GOD). 

And if you devote your life to following the SOM, you’ll discover that Jesus’ promise is true. 

Now … take a moment and think and pray, and consider what you might do next.  

I will pray that you’ll go back over the SOM again, this time focusing on the things you need to improve.  Put your third column (“I will”) into overdrive and see if you can really work to change your focus.  If you do, you will become indestructible.  And then you can show others how to do this, too.  

May God bless you with a willing servant’s pure heart.

“Everyone who hears these words of mine - and acts on them is like:
…a wise man who built his house on the rock.
The rain fell
The floods came
The winds blew and slammed against that house;
And it didn’t fall!

Everyone who hears these words of mine - and doesn't act on them is a fool.  
He built his house on the sand, and when the storm came, his world collapsed.”

Matthew 7.24-27 (paraphrased)

Proverbs 1:20-33

Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square:

“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded, & scoffers delight themselves in scoffing & fools hate knowledge?  
Turn to my reproof … I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

“Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand &
No one paid attention &
You neglected all my counsel &
You did not want my reproof

"I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock
When your dread comes,
When your dread comes like a storm
& your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you

“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because:
They hated knowledge & did not choose the fear of Yahweh.  
They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.

“So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way & be satiated with their own devices.  For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, & the complacency of fools will destroy them.

"But he who listens to me shall live securely & will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

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