Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
In our world today, it is more evident than ever all of the “kingdoms” of man that have been built on sand. All of our economic systems, political systems, medical systems, they all hang precariously in the balance, and one unforeseen change or incident could send the entire house of cards tumbling down.
Jesus is addressing the large crowd who has been listening to him all day, preaching the kingdom of God as he delivers the Sermon on the Mount. He closes out this iconic sermon about how to live with these words above (Matthew 7:24-27).
He is telling them (and us), “Follow me. I have the words of life. I have the way to true fulfillment. If you follow my ways, you will not be shaken, you will be able to stand firm when the storms of life come at you.”
2020 was an epic storm in human history. Many are still reeling from its far-reaching effects. The world is teetering on the edge, overwhelmed with fear, confused by the constant uncertainty, shaken by the jarring changes that have occurred.
But then there is Jesus. He has words of life and encouragement today. Stand firm in His ways. Follow His path of righteousness. Live the right way, seeking first His kingdom, not your own needs or your financial portfolio, or your own sense of self-worth. Lay those selfish ways down, and follow the way of Jesus outlined in the previous in chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew, and you will establish your life on the firm foundation of the word of God.
Some highlights from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount are provided below.
Meditate on these. Pray on these. Ask Jesus how He wants you to live these out today: in your home, in your workplace, out with friends, in your interactions with neighbors and strangers. Experience God’s life-changing work in you and put your faith in His ability to uphold you when things around you seem unstable.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:3-11 (ESV)
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
…Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV)
…Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.Matthew 5:39 (ESV)
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute youMatthew 5:44 (ESV)
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.Matthew 6:31-34 (ESV)
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.Matthew 7:12 (ESV)
I know there is a lot here. But this really is just scratching the surface. Read through these, and then go directly to the Bible and read the “Sermon on the Mount” in full (Matthew Ch 5-7). Remember, the Bible isn’t a list of rules to follow or things to check off a list. Jesus calls us saying, “Follow me.” It is a journey we take with Jesus that He leads us down the path to a fulfilling, abundant life. Choose today to engage with Him about where He is leading you, and He will set your feet on solid ground.
Here’s one more passage to reflect on, from the psalmist, King David. He was called a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). But he faced some uncertain times. Before he was king, the acting king, King Saul repeatedly sought to kill him. He ran for his life, he hid in caves, and he lived in exile. Later when he was king, he committed a terrible sin, adultery with a married woman, Bathsheba, and then tried to cover it up by having her husband, Uriah, killed in battle. In his older years as king, his own son, Absalom, tried to usurp him as king, forcing him again on the run into hiding. David knew about uncertain times in life. Upon reflecting on one of those instances, or possibly reflecting at the end of his life, he wrote this psalm:
I waited patiently for the Lord;Psalm 40:1-4 (ESV)
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
4 Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
When David turned to the Lord, He set David’s feet upon the rock, firm foundation on which he could stand. When you cry out to God for His deliverance, He will hear your cry and lift you up, and set your feet on the solid rock as well.
Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. The foundation to build your life on:
Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.Ephesians 2:20 (NLT)