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Faithlife

The Wise Builder

The Moral of the Story  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Part 1 of 8

Notes & Transcripts
Introduction:
This weekend, we begin a new series called “The Moral of the Story”. There are three dozen parables in the gospels depending on who is counting. Most of them are less than 250 words but they are full of amazing truth. They are brilliant stories told by the wordsmith Jesus Himself and I want you to think of them as word paintings. Each parable is intricately nuanced like any well-known art masterpiece hanging in the museums throughout the world. So over the next seven weeks, we are going to play the curator’s game, if you will.
Matthew 7:24–27 NLT
24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 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. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
Illustration of me not being able to build much/building a bookcase.
But this parable isn’t about building a house or even a shelf, it is about building a life. Life is a little bit like a shelf or bookcase project, there is a lot of construction but my hunch is that there are some of you who are in a little bit of deconstruction. Maybe a little gut job needs to happen emotionally or spiritually and then reconstruction. Maybe some of you are rebuilding a marriage or a reputation, so its really all of those things and everything in between. So let’s talk about this parable.
Verse 25 says he build his house on the rock. Luke’s version says he dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock. Many people love the skyline of New York City but they would be even more fascinated with the city beneath the city. Let me explain. There are now 6,000 miles of sewers that run beneath New York City circulating 1.3 billion gallons of waste water. There are 9,000 manhole covers in the city and they service those sewers along with 92,000 miles of utilities. There are 722 miles of subway tracks beneath the city built about a hundred years ago. If they were laid end to end, they would stretch from New York to Chicago. When they first opened, it was quite the fascination for New Yorkers. In fact, subway explorers would actually go in and walk down the tracks and the trains we slow moving so they could jump out of the way when the trains came. They were called dodgers, which is where the Brooklyn Dodgers got their name. So there is the skyline of New York and then there is the city beneath the city. Then beneath the city that is beneath the city, that is the key because that’s where the rock is. It has a name. It is called Manhattan schist. It is the rock that everything on that city is built on. It is pretty critical. In some places, bedrock is pretty close to street level. Rockefeller Center got lucky because the Manhattan schist is pretty close to the surface, but the Woolworth building, which was the tallest building in the world until 1930, they had to dig down 120 feet to hit bedrock and once they did, they had to sink 69 concrete pillars into the ground. Here’s my point, the above ground city is really just a mirror of the subterranean topography. No matter what you are building, you have to find bedrock.
Stick with me.
In 1865, a civil engineer published a topographical map of the island of Manhattan and he superimposed the location of all the streams and waterways with a grid of the city streets. Engineers continue to reference that 1865 map as the key to building. Well, not everybody because when Chase Manhattan Plaza was built, the chief engineer did not look at this map. If he had, he would have known that in 1865, a stream ran right over where they were digging and he discovered quicksand which made it very difficult to build.
Here’s my point, if you don’t build on a bedrock, you are in big trouble. That’s it. The subterranean topography is the key to what happens above the surface of the ground and I think that it true of our lives even more than it is true of a physical building.
Transition: So the question is – what is bedrock? I think it is at least three things. I think it is core beliefs, core values and core vision.

I. Core Values

We value a statement of beliefs on our website at www.fellowsvilleag.org and I encourage you to check it out. Let me tell you what I believe is essential, or what is bedrock theology. The early church had a creed that was three words: Jesus is Lord. That was it. What we believe at Fellowsville AG is that Jesus lived a sinless life, fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life, died a substitutionary death on the cross bearing our sin and was raised again on the third day. That is essential. That is a litmus test if you will. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no under name under heaven given unto man by which you must be saved. says
Romans 10:9–10 NLT
9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.
There are those three words: Jesus is Lord. That is bedrock. When all else fails, you need to be able to fall back on something. I think might say it best:
Romans 8 NLT
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. 5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. 9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. 12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. 18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) 26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. 31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38 NLT
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
That is bedrock.
Now, I have what I call fallback positions. When all else fails, I fall back on these promises. Do you have some fallback positions? Here are some examples:
Proverbs 16:9 NLT
9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
Sometimes when I feel a little lost or a little disoriented, I just need to remind myself that God is ordering my footsteps.
Philippians 1:6 NLT
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
I believe that.
Ephesians 2:10 NLT
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 3:20 NLT
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Those are examples of bedrock promises. What are your core beliefs? If you have not surrendered your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, that is where it starts. That is where the spiritual journey begins. That’s how you build your life on the rock.

II. Core Values

Let me talk about core values. The Message paraphrases verse 24 this way
24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life. They are foundational words, words to build a life on.” 

24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life. They are foundational words, words to build a life on.” 

There is no question here that Jesus is talking about the Word. says that the Lord is watching over his Word to perform it. So more important than anything else is that you build your life on the Word of God. That is the foundation for us as believers. Pastor Mark Batterson spoke about the importance of foundational words as he said:
“But let me ask, do you have some foundation words? I think our family has four foundation words that we would love for those words to define us as a family. They are humility, generosity, gratitude and courage. Many years ago, we went through a process of trying to discern who we are, what we are about, what is our bedrock, what are our core values as a family. I promise you we are works in progress!
There is no question here that Jesus is talking about the Word. says that the Lord is watching over his Word to perform it. So more important than anything else is that you build your life on the Word of God. That is the foundation for us as believers. But let me ask, do you have some foundation words? I think our family has four foundation words that we would love for those words to define us as a family. They are humility, generosity, gratitude and courage. Many years ago, we went through a process of trying to discern who we are, what we are about, what is our bedrock, what are our core values as a family. I promise you we are works in progress!
Humility: if you stay humble and you stay hungry, there is nothing that God cannot do in you or through you. I believe that. Humility, we are striving after it.
Generosity: joy is found on the giving side of life. Good news, you can’t out-give God! Generosity is a foundation word for our family.
Gratitude: my goal this year was 1,000 gratitudes. Inspired by a wonderful book 1,000 gifts. I’m on number 561, a little more than half way. Almost every day, what I try to do is find something that I am grateful for. Gratitude is a core value for me.
Courage: I need more work in this area. If you asked me what the Lord showed me over sabbatical, there were a few things but I think one of them was this wonderful moment with Mary and Martha. Remember Martha was so busy making preparations and she was a little nervous and scattered and Jesus said something interesting to her. In the King James Version, He said, ‘Thou art careful.’
If you don’t have foundation words, do some excavation.”

III. Core Vision

Finally, let me talk about core vision. Let me talk about it as a church. We are called to be a place where anyone and everyone can come and feel welcomed and heard. This is a safe place where no one needs to be afraid of who’s sayin what and to whom. If we were to not exist tomorrow, we would want not only our community to notice it but be affected by it!
Let me talk about it as a church. We have some core values: We are called to be in the heart of the community. Everything is an experiment. Love people when they least expect it and least deserve it. Pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you.
We have some core values: We are called to be in the heart of the community. Everything is an experiment. Love people when they least expect it and least deserve it. Pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you.
We have some core convictions: The church ought to be the most creative place on the planet. The church belongs in the middle of the marketplace; not in the four walls of the church. Those are bedrock convictions for us.
says
Matthew 7:24 NLT
24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.
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
There is no distinction between knowing and doing. There were not two different words for these things. Knowing is doing and doing is knowing. If you don’t do it, you don’t know it. And that is critical as you are listening to what Jesus is saying. In other words, don’t show me your transcript, I don’t want to know what you know. Show me your resume. Don’t be hearers of the Word only but doers of it. Listening without doing is called disobedience. My great fear as a pastor is that if all you do is listen to a sermon but you don’t do anything with it, all that is happening is that you’ve been educated further beyond the level of your obedience already. Jesus is not going to say, ‘Well listened good and faithful servant.’ No! Well done good and faithful servant.
Let’s get practical. A dream without a to-do list is called a wish list. Whatever it is you want to accomplish for the kingdom, you have to have a to-do list. You have to do something about it.

GK Chesterton said Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.

Let’s get practical. A dream without a to-do list is called a wish list. Whatever it is you want to accomplish for the kingdom, you have to have a to-do list. You have to do something about it.

GK Chesterton said Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.

GK Chesterton said Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.

GK Chesterton said Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.

Conclusion:
A quick challenge, Thomas Shepherd, who actually help found Harvard College in 1636 had a little catch phrase. In his biography he said,
“Make a new experiment. He said make a new experiment with secret pray then come forth from your secret prayer and make immediate experiment on more love and more patience and more consideration for other men.”
Here was the backdrop. He said why do people experiment in the sciences but they don’t experiment with Scripture?
Here’s my last point:

If you think of a spiritual discipline as a spiritual discipline, it might seem like discipline.

It might be more helpful to think of it as a spiritual experiment. Try a prayer experiment. Pray for a person or a situation for a week or a month or 40 days and see what God does. Try a fasting experiment. Try a reading experiment. Maybe read through Luke’s gospels and turn one of the parables into an experiment. Maybe it is a tithing experiment. Try it for six months. Or just turn a verse into an experiment. Go the extra mile. Pray for those who persecute you. It is pretty simple. Make a new experiment and see what God does.
Father, help us to not just be hearers of the Word but doers of it. In Jesus name, Amen.
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