Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sermon Lessons: Construction

24-25"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.  26-27"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."
(Matthew 7:24-27)

Our entire neighborhood is "under construction" at this time - streets are almost impassable due to the roads and sidewalks being torn up to retrofit them to meet standards for the disabled, deal with cracked walkways, and to even out the very uneven patches of walkway we have been dealing with for years.  At 5:00 a.m. this morning, the trucks were back - air brakes blasting, cement sliding down chutes, and men scrambling to get the cement formed before it dries.  In Arizona, construction has to begin early in the summer months - especially the pouring of the concrete.  The hot sun bakes that stuff faster than you'd imagine!

The inconvenience of having only one lane to drive down, sidewalks that are impassable, and cars parked everywhere except their own garages is just something we have to deal with as this project is underway.  The benefits of the construction project will indeed be nice once it is all done.  In the meantime, we have to deal with the noise, mess, and inconvenience of the construction process.

The same is true in our lives - we are definitely "under construction".  That construction process involves quite a bite of noise on our part - usually complaining, whining, and statements about not understanding what is going on!  We deal with a lot of mess - because our lives are more than a little messy.  We certainly view the constructive processes of our lives as less than convenient, as they rarely "fit" our schedule!

Jesus tells his disciples that these lessons he has brought into their lives during this time away with him are more than just stories - they are life lessons that need to be "worked into the core" of their lives.  In other words, they are the foundation of all they are, will do, and will experience.  As is the case with our sidewalks, driveways, and roadways here in the neighborhood, the "cement" of our lives is poured, smoothed out, and takes form by the skilled work of his hands.  It is not a quick project - it takes time to get it right!

The better the foundation, the stronger the structure.  The process of preparing us for the foundation to be laid is as important as pouring that which will bring foundation into our lives.  The ground of our hearts and minds must be prepared to receive what God is doing.  The recesses of what brings "unevenness" into our lives must be explored so that the things that would "trip us up" are removed.  Then, and only then, is the ground prepared for the receiving of the "cement" of his Word.  

That "poured" Word has to be smoothed out into all the corners of our lives - taking on the form he desires to see.  Just as with the cement, the Word is carefully eased into the corners, worked and reworked, in order to get out all the tiny "bubbles" that would form weak areas if they remained.  God is careful in his design because it is paramount to the success of the next phases of our usefulness!  He takes time to "form us" so that we don't just take the Word in, and then it dries up and is worthless in its purpose or design.

There is a design to the cement work being done here this morning on my street.  There is an even greater design in what God is doing in our hearts!  He is about the process of "molding" us into what it is that will bring him honor, bring others access to him, and give us usefulness in his hands.  These Words are what give us strength, allow us to pass from one stage of growth to another, and give passage to the waters of the storms that come.  

We cannot escape the "construction" work of the Word - if we do, we are certain to have cracked foundations, weak spots, impassable areas of our hearts, and little shelter from the storms of life.  It is by his hand that we were formed - it is out of his heartfelt love that we receive his Word.  What we allow to be formed within us is what will become foundational to all we do in life.