Day 26

The Two Foundations

from the The Sermon on the Mount reading plan

Matthew 7:24-29, Psalm 18:1-6, Isaiah 17:10-11, Matthew 25:1-13, 2 Corinthians 3:18, James 2:20-23

BY Amanda Bible Williams

Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:24-29, Psalm 18:1-6, Isaiah 17:10-11, Matthew 25:1-13, 2 Corinthians 3:18, James 2:20-23

Somewhere in Nashville there’s a toddler-sized red and white cowgirl outfit from the 60s, complete with embroidered yellow flowers and white leather fringe. It was given to my daughter by our elderly neighbors, brought out of a wooden chest and handed to my wide-eyed girl when she was about 3 years old. Now, several years later, it circulates among my friends and their own little wide-eyed girls.

Carlton and Joyce were good neighbors, always watching over our small yard from the front porch of their brick cottage across the street. I winced from my own front porch the day the wrecking ball swung with intention and knocked down that empty house. My toddler boys watched in delight and awe as the big, loud machines did their work, but my heart ached.

My friends lived three decades of life in that house. They raised their girls there, watching their city grow tall around them. They collected snowman figurines and looked out for their neighbors. Then, when most of their life had been lived, they moved on and let the wrecking ball do its worst.

The thing that strikes me about this short passage in Matthew is not the dichotomy of outcome, but the similarity of process. One house collapses with a crash and one stands strong—the contrast is stark. But the circumstances the two houses endure are remarkably similar. In fact, they are just the same: “The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house” (Matthew 7:25, 27). Similar process, very different outcome.

All of our earthly houses will one day fall. We’re all honest enough to admit it. We know the things of earth don’t last and we’d do well to store up eternal possessions instead. But how do we do that? How do we build a metaphorical house that literally lasts forever?

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

Hear Jesus’ words. Act on Jesus’ words. This is how we practically and actually build our house on the rock.

Did your brain just register that last little paragraph as, “Be a good Christian”? If so, you’re not alone. I hear that, too. So let’s slow down and consider it again.

Hear Jesus’ words. Act on Jesus’ words. Here are just a handful of them:

“Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
“Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another” (John 13:34).
“Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
“The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him” (John 7:38).

The words of Christ are life-giving; they are trustworthy and true. We can stake our lives on them. We can build our houses on them.

His words do not merely impart rules for smart living—tips for a favorable outcome. Jesus’ words impart life and love and salvation. The life Christ gives cannot be washed away by heavy rains, or consumed by the rising tide, or displaced by gale-force winds. His Word is eternal. It cannot become untrue.

So then, go ahead and build your life. Build houses and meet neighbors and raise wide-eyed girls and boys. Let’s live well this one life we’ve been given, but let’s do so on the only foundation that will last: the gospel of Jesus Christ. For when all our years and efforts and cottages crumble around us, His Word will stand. We are forever secure when our home is found in Him.


Post Comments (48)

48 thoughts on "The Two Foundations"

  1. Becky says:

    If anyone has been reading my comments throughout this devotional (and I have no idea if anyone has), I have news…my trip to Nicaragua was called off as of noon yesterday. A protest on Wednesday left at least 8 dead and the violence is very likely going to get worse before it gets better. The head of the school called off the next term and notified the four of us scheduled to teach that we would not be travelling into Managua next week.

    After 3 years of prayerfully considering this opportunity and 8 months of preparation, this is heartbreaking. How can God open so many doors and provide in so many ways only to slam the door shut with less than a week before departure? How can so many believers be of one mind in serving God and be so utterly wrong?

    Yesterday I was a mess. What do I do with my summer now? Do I hold off on my departure and see if things calm down? Do I go with my church on their other mission trip? Do I plan to visit my sister who I rarely get to see?

    All I know is this:
    * God’s plans have not been thwarted. Though I may not understand what He’s doing, He is not in heaven thinking “Oh no, I never saw that coming! My plans are ruined!”
    * The only thing that matters is that I do what God has asked me to do. Teaching in Nicaragua is worth nothing for eternity if God deems it “wood, hay, and stubble.”
    * God alone determines how He wants to use me. My ideas of what seem like good opportunities must be surrendered to Him.
    * I have to trust that God’s plan is good….even when it doesn’t make sense. God has used the last 6 weeks of prayer and fasting to change me in some way that is for my good and His glory. I don’t have to see it in order for it to be true.
    *God owes me no explanation. Job never got a reason for why he lost everything. I am not owed an explanation as to why things have turned out the way they have. I am free to ask, but not to demand. My faith cannot hinge on God “explaining himself.”
    * I am SO thankful for the example of prayer in Scripture. The psalmists pour out their frustration and angst and sense of despair. We don’t have to hold back with God. We don’t have to dress up our prayers in spiritual lingo. But the prayers in Scripture always bring us back to God’s goodness and faithfulness. They don’t leave us in the wilderness. As I prayed out my confusion to God yesterday, I tried to model my prayer after what I see in Scripture and to end with a profession of faith in who God is. I don’t know how genuinely I felt it at that moment, but I did try.

  2. amylou says:

    Thank you Amanda for this take on today’s passage. The ending brought a sting to my eyes; “For when all our years and efforts and cottages crumble around us, His Word will stand. We are forever secure when our home is found in Him.” Having seen death and how temporary life is firsthand through the passing of my mother two months ago, and now my dad facing his own cancer treatments, the solidity of the Gospel has never been more real and apparent. Following Jesus in this life as He leads us towards life eternal is all that matters.

  3. Erin says:

    *sigh* Reading this morning’s devo, post argument with my husband of four months is encouraging but also sobering. Will we be blown about and brought to ruin by gale force winds in this life, if our foundation is in Jesus? No. I am so glad for this, as I’ve seen the truth of it in my life time and time again– but my husband hasn’t really. He is a strong believer, but tends to engage God more with his mind and doesn’t seem to NEED Jesus at times. Time and time again, I have seen him come apart at the seams in the face of simple world discomforts, challenges and struggles. This makes my heart heavy. Not that I never succumb to that, but that I have experienced Christ’s peace in suffering and so cannot imagine being upset by minimal and mundane inconveniences in this life. I don’t mean to sound holier than thou– I have struggles that my husband doesn’t, but I feel very distraught this morning b/c I don’t see “streams of living water flow from deep within” him very often. :/ I’m just praying lately that God will work on both of our hearts to grow us both more towards him.

    Praying for any other ladies who find themselves in this situation, as I’m sure there are many. Praying for the wisdom to know how to spiritually encourage, without spiritually leading.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Erin, thanks so much for being willing to share. We definitely understand how difficult that can be, and we are praying that God would be glorified and lifted up in your marriage. We are so glad to have you here as a part of the She Reads Truth community! – Abby, The SRT Team

    2. Nads says:

      Erin, I could have written the IDENTICAL post to what you did – situation, feelings, faith , experience, weakness, and prayer…! Wow!

      May God bless all. I need to remember that Christ wants our unity with Him and one another even more than I ever could.

    3. Christy says:

      I’ve learned in marriage that it can be so tempting to focus on the other person, but we see more fruit when we focus on ourselves. Not suggesting being a doormat, but rather, how has God matching you with this man intended to sharpen you? If nothing else changes with him, how do you grow? Where do you lean into God in these circumstances? Praying sister that the Holy Spirit reveals himself to you in these circumstances and gives you whatever wisdom you need to navigate it.

    4. Madalyn McArthur says:

      Prayer is so powerful. Stormie Omartins book “the power of a praying wife” is absolutely amazing and essential.

    5. Jenny says:

      Erin, you are not alone! I feel the same way with my husband! As I’m sure many many other women do. Keep your heart and soul fixed on Jesus and take things one day at a time. The Lord has a path for you, Erin. Keep going. I will be praying for you!

    6. Elle says:

      You are a new bride and he is a new husband… You both have a lot of growing to do. Growing together and growing personally. Do not despair that you do not find your husband to be as mature as you hoped. (I’m pretty sure alot of newlyweds feel exactly that way… well, the wife anyways. ;)) Walk with him awhile… you will come to find that you respect him. I have been married for over twenty years. Falling in love with each other is something you do over and over. Be patient and prayerful… years from now, your husband will have won your heart hundreds of times.

  4. Cecelia says:

    I finished reading today’s devo and went to my daily bible reading and read the same verses in Matthew. My struggle is the worry that I’m not doing it. Not building my house on the rock. Because too often I feel shattered by what life throws at me. Thinking about it, though, Jesus doesn’t say the winds won’t blow a few shingles off. Maybe there’s some water in the basement. The house is there. It is liveable with some fixing. The fact that I feel sometimes wholly messy doesn’t say my foundation isn’t good. There are storms in life. The giants are real. But God. He is always with me. He is always stronger and victorious and he gives me this because of who I am in him. I don’t always recognize this fact immediately, sometimes it takes me awhile. But, at the end of the day, no matter what storms or giants I face, I know my Daddy God is for me. I know that my heart is all in for him. I’m human, I fall. But I get back up by the grace of God. He is good. In every circumstance. It’s by his grace that my foundation is unshakeable. Because it is him. Some days there’s a few external issues. But my God is faithful. And I am being made perfect and holy each day. I’m growing. And maybe one day the storms won’t so much as blow one shingle off. But because right now sometimes I need a little work after the storms I won’t let the enemy tell me I’m not built solid. I’m Daddy’s girl. He loves me. I am his.

    1. Erin says:

      LOVE the way you put this lady! That just because the winds blow a few shingles off, doesn’t mean that our foundation isn’t firm. :) Thanks for that picture, reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4: “we are struck down, but not not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…”

      1. Erin says:

        Whoops! “Persecuted, but not forsaken…” ;)

    2. Michelle says:

      I love the imagery you used here to describe what I think all of our houses look like…I think too of the DIY projects I’ve undertaken and how they didn’t quite turn out right. When it comes to the spiritual home, we can’t DIY we need to do it with Jesus!

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