05 December 2006

What Are You Building...What Are You Building It On?

Remember the story of the Three Little Pigs? One built a house of sticks, one built his house out of straw. But there was one little pig who knew better, and built his house out of bricks. So the Big Bad Wolf blew the first two houses down, but when he got to the third house, he huffed and he puffed until he could huff and puff no more, and couldn't blow down that house of bricks. So many people these days are like the first two little pigs. They build around them a life that gives them a sense of being safe. But when life comes howling along, that security they thought they had gets blown away.

Look at celebrities for example. They've got money, looks, fame. But look at who and what they really are. Every day when they get up, they have to put out a certain image, and it may not be an image they necessarily want to portray. But if they want to continue in the career that they have begun, they have to keep that image up, or lose that lifestyle they have grown so accustomed to. They may be all smiles for the camera, and they may look like they could not be any happier, but inside, they're dying.

On the other hand, there are some people who are going through pain, and trials and struggles that would bring most people to their grave. Yet, to talk to them, you would never know they, or their husband or wife, or their child or parent, was facing death, or sickness, or loneliness. How do you build that first kind of house? The one made of straw or sticks? It's easy. You build everything on your own strength. You face life with steel in your jaw and flint in your eye. And when the Big Bad Wolf comes, your determination gets worn down, and you crumble into a heap, and just slide into a hole.

What if you don't want to do that? What if you want to be able to stand tall in the midst of life's tough times? What if you don't just want to hear about how GOD will make you happy healthy and rich? What if you want to be able to tell the Big Bad Wolf to go jump in the lake? What if you want to build a house made of brick?

Well, the Bible contains many passages that serve as a guide to building a house that will withstand any kind of storm. When you get ready to build a house, there is a certain pattern you need to follow. It's not exactly the same for every house, but it is the general rule. The first thing you do is plan. I'd be kinda leery of a house that was built by someone who was just driving along with some lumber and bricks, screeched to a halt and said "Hey let's build a house!!" I don't know many people that do that. They have a survey taken of the land. They have an architect draw up blueprints. Then they hire a contractor, who brings subcontractors together, and so on. They have an idea of what they want that house to look like.

You may find this to be a bit of a surprise, but did you know that GOD makes plans before He does anything? You may be thinking, "He's GOD, He doesn't have to plan. He can just do stuff in the blink of an eye." Well, He can, but He usually doesn't. Twice in the book of Jeremiah, GOD talks about planning. Jeremiah 1:5, GOD says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." Before GOD even placed Jeremiah in his mother's belly, He knew what the prophet would look like, sound like, what color hair he would have, how tall he would be, how much he would weigh. And the same goes for every life that is ever conceived. You, me, everybody. And do you know, even before He created this universe, before He even "laid the foundation of the earth", He knew that we humans would fall into sin. So He made a plan to reconcile us. And it says in John 17:24. John records these words that our Lord Jesus Christ prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified. Jesus said to His Father, "Thou lovedst me BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD." 1st Peter 1:18-20 says, ...you were not redeemed with corruptible things...but with the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without blemish or spot. This was determined BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD...
Now, if GOD lays out His plans before He does anything, who are we to think we don't have to plan? And since He's a remarkable planner, doesn't it make sense that we ask Him to show us what to do? So, when we go about building our future, we need to plan. How do we do that? By seeking help from the best builder we could ever talk to. A builder who created a universe in less than a week. A builder who built a church with a couple of boards and three nails. Because if we ask GOD for help, listen to what He told us in Paul's letter to the Philippians: "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."

I know people who have had contractors tell them their house would be ready by such-and-such a time. Well, guess what? It wasn't. And why do you think so many products these days come with guarantees? Because the things we humans make and build are going to decay, fall apart and just simply break down. Well, we have a guarantee from GOD Himself. He guarantees that the work His Holy Spirit begins will not decay, it will not break down or fall apart, and it can never be taken away. GOD started it, and He'll finish it.

So, if we put our future in His hands, tell Him, "LORD, I really need to rebuild my life. I know You want me to be a house for You to dwell in, so will you please show me what Your will is for my life." Now, you may not have some sweeping vision come over you. You may not feel any different at the moment you say that, other than having peace in the fact that you have just entered into a partnership with your Almighty Creator, and have given Him permission to condemn the old you, and to build a new, improved you in it's place. So we work with our Planner. What's next? Well, unfortunately, we have to go back to the story of our little pigs. When many people seek advice on how to live their life, they look to all sorts of "wisdom" from people whose opinions change like the wind. So, how do we build a house that will still be standing when the Big Bad Wolf comes a huffin' and puffin'? We go to the One who knows how to build.

How do we start? We have to make sure we are on solid ground. In Matthew 7:24-27, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us a picture of the very different results of building your faith on man, or on GOD. He said, "Anyone who listens to My teaching and obeys Me is wise, like a person who builds his house on solid rock. Though the rain comes and the flood waters rise and the wind beats against that house, it will not collapse, because it is built upon the rock. But anyone who hears My teaching and ignores it is foolish, like a person who builds his house on sand. When the rains and floods come, and the wind beats against that house, it will fall with a mighty crash." If you want to build a house today, you have to get all kinds of permits from the county, city, the state. which is not necessarily a bad thing. They have to make sure that the ground you are building on is safe. And in much the same way, if we are seeking to build a life, or a family, or a ministry. Whatever kind of "house" we seek to build, we need to build it on solid ground. And that solid ground is our Lord Jesus Christ.

What's He saying here? He's saying, "Look, you can ignore Me, you can ignore what I'm trying to teach you. But if you do, and instead of listening to Me, you listen to men who don't know any better than you do, everything you build on that false knowledge is gonna come crashing down." So many people these days read this book or that book. They watch a famous doctor, a popular psychologist, always looking for that one hidden secret that will help them cope better with life. When one way doesn't work they try another. And when that doesn't work, they go on to a third, then a fourth. They never admit that all the ways they have tried were wrong, and that if they keep trying to do things the way popular opinion tells them they should, nothing they do will improve. It's funny, there was a book that came out a few years ago called "Life's Little Instruction Manual." And it was popular......for a while.

But with the Bible, we have life's ORIGINAL instruction manual. 2nd Timothy 3:16 says, And may the Lord of peace Himself continually give peace to you in every way. The Lord be with all of you. Now, many people today would hear that and say, "Well, so-and-so said on TV last week...", or "Well, so-and-so has a new book that says this or that." Well, guess what? A month from now, somebody else is going to come out with a book or TV show that says just the opposite of what the first book or TV show said! And yet people are depending on this advice from viewpoints that are constantly changing. But look at what our Lord Jesus Christ said. If we listen--or read--what He said, and obey that, then we will have a layer of solid rock on which to build our lives. There's an old hymn we sing sometimes:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus' name
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

Some of you may like Oprah. But if we do what she says one week, then Dr Phil the next, somebody else the week after and then back and forth yada yada yada, we're never going to be sure what to do. But if we build upon the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and upon every word that proceeds from the mouth of GOD--PRAISE HIS NAME, OUR HOUSE WILL STAND FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!

So, we build upon the solid rock of Christ. Next, we need to lay the foundation. The first thing you do in laying a foundation is to lay a cornerstone. The cornerstone may be THE most important part of the building process. It is by far THE most important part of the foundation. It has to be perfectly square. Because if your cornerstone is not perfectly square, all the angles of your house will be off, and instead of a square, or rectangle, you will have something like a trapezoid or a rhombus. Matthew, Mark and Luke record our Lord Jesus Christ quoting, from the book of Psalms, a passage that talks about Christ Himself--
"The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone." When we lay that cornerstone of Jesus Christ in our lives, and we begin with Him, and measure everything we do by Him, we will have a much better basis to build on. Then, once we lay the cornerstone, once we measure every aspect of our life against that of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can finish the rest of the foundation. How do we do that? In Ephesians 2:19-20, the Apostle Paul tells us: Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of GOD; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.

Everything in the Bible points to Christ. Everything the OT prophets wrote pointed forward to Christ; everything the NT apostes wrote points us back to Christ. So, if we take what they wrote, take the perspective of GOD that the prophets and apostles took, we will have a foundation which will line up with the cornerstone, and be a solid base with which to build the rest of our house. And if we do so, Ephesians 2:21-22 tell us that the building will fit together, and grow into a holy temple of GOD, in Whom we are also built together, for a habitation of the Holy Spirit. The building Paul is talking about is the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. How many buildings do you know of that can grow? But this "building" does grow. And it is a place where the Holy Spirit wants to live. Imagine that. GOD, the Holy Spirit, wants to live inside of you. Even someone who isn't saved, the Holy Spirit WANTS to live inside that person, if they will just let Him.

In the OT, there was always a cloud of smoke in the tabernacle--the tent they carried around in the wilderness--and the temple that Solomon built. That cloud of smoke symbolized the Holy Spirit. Well, the Apostle Peter tells us that these bodies are tabernacles, and Paul says that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit to dwell. Which is it? Both. Our body(the tabernacle) moves around so we can take the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ wherever we go, and they are temples prepared for when we are finally home in the kingdom of heaven. If we keep the Word of GOD as the basis for our thoughts, words, and actions, then we will grow. Some may grow quickly, some more slowly. But none the less, we will be called holy. And the best part is, GOD Himself will dwell in us.

So, we have solid rock to build on. We have a perfect cornerstone. We have a foundation all laid out for us. Now, for the rest of the house. Every house needs a door. Well, in
John 10:7-9, Jesus tells us, "Truly I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All them that came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." Now, if Jesus Christ is the door for our house, then everything we let come into our lives has to come through Him. And we're talking about a Savior who carried all the sins of all the world on His shoulders. As our Door, He may not keep sorrow out of your life, but He can keep all other stuff out so you can deal with it.

Now, for the walls. In
Ezekiel 13:10-11 the prophet gives this warning from GOD to the people of Israel: ...one builds a wall, and plasters it with untempered mortar--say to those who plaster with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There shall be flooding rain, and great hailstones will fall. And a stormy wind shall tear it down. Sound familiar? What is untempered mortar? Well, another way to say it is slime. Basically, they were painting over the cracks in their walls, instead of repairing them. That's what happens when we try to use the advice of people who don't know GOD, when we try to build a house suitable for GOD. When the winds and rains and floods come, those bricks don't hold together. They just slide against each other, and the whole thing comes tumbling down. But, listen to what Isaiah says, talking about the day when our enemy is defeated by GOD Himself: In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; GOD will appoint salvation for walls and towers. Thank GOD! our house isn't built with sticks and straw and slime. In fact, Jesus Christ Himself tells us in the book of John that he is preparing a place for us, so that when He comes back, we will have a mansion where we will be with Him, and He will be with us.

Now, how do we help others with their own house? Well, in
Ephesians 4:29-30, Paul says: Let no corrupt communication proceed from your mouth, but that which is good for building up others, that it may impart grace to the hearer. We can get in a whole lot of trouble with our mouths. James devotes almost a whole chapter to the subject of the tongue. He calls it an unruly evil, an untameable beast. But Paul says, "don't do that. use your words for building up others, not tearing them down." And if we use our words to build others up, then we will build up the house of GOD. What is the house of GOD? 1st Timothy 3:15 tells us that the house of GOD is the church of the living GOD and that it is ...the support and upholder of truth.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is our solid rock we build on. He is also our cornerstone with which we measure everything about us. The apostles and prophets are our foundation, our Lord Jesus Christ is our door, GOD has made our salavation like walls about us, and we are charged with with supporting and upholding His house, His Church, and His truth. One gentleman here is an electrician. Another is a muscian. If I have a problem with the wiring in my house, as much as I love Stephen, I know that if I call Wayne, and he looks for the problem, he's probably got a better chance of finding it than Stephen. So why would we look to people who have no idea of GOD, or who may not even believe in GOD for advice on problems that can only be handled with godly advice? When we have a Rock, a Fortress, a Strong Tower, that we can run to anytime?

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