Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Sunday Message Based on the Parable of the Two Foundations (also known as the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders)

This week I will preach on the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders also known as the parable of the Two Foundations

You can read this parable here: niv2010 // ceb

 

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He taught them many things by parables…. ” (Mark 4:2, Matt 13:3).

Today we come to the conclusion of the series of sermons about the Parables of Jesus. Parables are simple and memorable stories. Parables have layers of meaning and they can be interpreted in a variety of different ways depending on where we are on our walk with God. Jesus gave these stories to his followers in order to challenge them and to make them think. Jesus taught in parables so that his followers would learn to pay attention, to reflect and to think, to recognize God’s presence and guidance in their lives, and to recognize their own impact on the world around them. Parables are stories that paint for us a picture of who we are today and give us a vision of who we MIGHT want to become tomorrow. The parables of Jesus have changed the world and will continue to do so as long as there is intelligent life anywhere in the universe.

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Last week we talked about the Parable of Ten Young Women.

There are many possible interpretations of this parable. It can be interpreted as a story of who is saved and who is not. It can be interpreted as a story about sharing and social justice. We touched on eschatological aspects of this parable.

The reality is that the Parable of the Ten Young Women is about all of that. Each of those interpretations (holy living, social justice, searching for God’s will for our lives, who is and who is not saved, to name a few) is an important aspect of what Jesus was teaching his followers. In its entirety, this parable is about how our vision and understanding of God’s presence in our world and in our lives shapes our vision for the future. This is a story about the Kingdom of God and our role in making that Kingdom a reality.

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Most of us, if not all of us, have been in the shoes of the five women who ran out of oil; those are our “oops” moments. Most of us, if not all of us, have been in the shoes of the five women who had the vision to prepare and to purchase additional oil; those are the moments when we recognize major accomplishments in our lives. As we mature in age and grow in understanding and wisdom, the parable of the Ten Young Women challenges all of us to learn from our life experiences and to live more productive lives, to have fewer “oops” moments and more “Praise the Lord” moments in our lives.

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Today I want to talk about the Parable of the Two Foundations. Sometimes this parable is referred to as the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders.

Let us listen to the words of this parable and may God add God’s blessing to the reading, hearing and understanding of these words.

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Matthew 7:24-27 NIV2010 The Wise and Foolish Builders

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. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

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Who among us has not had to make some difficult decisions at one time or another? Who among us has not had to live through some tough periods of our lives: periods when we were challenged to the core of our being and had to question everything and everybody including ourselves and our motives? Who among us has not had his or her faith tested, shaken violently or even shattered in a gazillion shards at one time or another? Those are the times that we need God’s guidance and assurance that we are with God!

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Unfortunately many of us stopped learning about God when we were in the second grade Sunday school class when all that we could comprehend was that “Jesus is our friend,” that “Jesus loves me this I know” and that “Jesus loves the little children.” I am talking about the stuff that kids learn in Miss Chris’ Sunday school class (1 Cor 13:11). It was a time when we were satisfied with simplistic answers that we could understand at that stage of our lives. Quite often at least some of us regress into that time period of our lives; that is one of the reasons why we say things like, “I get so much out of the children’s sermon.” When we are in that state, God is kindda-sort-of like our favorite aunt or uncle who showers us with treats every time they come to town. Many of us mature emotionally and physically in other areas of our lives, but not in our faith.

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When we have to live through difficult circumstances and our faith does not have a strong foundation, the reality of our life comes in conflict with the simplistic faith that we had when we were children and that we may never have bothered to develop.

If as adults we think that such overly simplistic faith is all that there is, then it makes sense to abandon our faith and our church family altogether because it does not sustain us through the tough periods of our lives.

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In John 14:2 Jesus says: “In my father’s house there are many rooms.” Because each one of us is created in the image of God, there are many rooms in the house of our lives – I think of them as soul-rooms.

It is our human condition to build at least some of our soul-rooms on sand instead of rock. How many of us have heard an unkind word when we were kids or young adults and believed it; how many of us internalized those words and live our lives with those words still ringing throughout our lives, affecting the choices and decisions that we make. We build our lives based on those internalized premises. That is just one example of how we build our soul-rooms on sand. And when we build enough soul-rooms on sand, our whole lives are based on something that has no foundation. At any sign of strife or trouble our lives come crashing down all around us because we cannot find a theology and philosophy of life that sustains us at that time. We become depressed, frustrated and maybe even ask ourselves, “How did I get so lost?” We have a hard time discerning where God is… We even begin looking for meaning in idols.

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Today’s Gospel reading is an invitation from God to each one of us to look into these “rooms” of our soul and ask ourselves whether we are truly walking with God. And I am not talking about asking ourselves easy questions; I am talking about questions that challenge us, questions that force us to take a serious look at ourselves and evaluate where we are on our walk with God. These tough questions help us to build our “soul-rooms” on rock rather than on sand.

As strange as it sounds, many devout and sincere Christians build their whole lives on shifty foundations. When we believe that we know it all, when we believe that we have figured God out, that we can fit God into the couple of pounds of brain matter between our ears, and that we have all the answers and our neighbors don’t – that is the most extreme case of building our lives on sand. When that happens, and that happens to Christians from all walks of life (well off and extremely poor, conservatives and liberals, across all denominations), we become resistant to God’s shaping of our souls, leading and guiding us and working through us.

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That comes back to vision. What is your personal vision? My personal vision is “God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart.” That is where I want to go, that is who I want to become, and anyone who knows me knows that God has God’s work cut out for God.

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What is our vision as a church? Do we want to have Christ United Methodist church in Chestertown in fifty or sixty years? Or do we want to close our doors once most of us join the Church Triumphant a.k.a. “die and go to Heaven?”

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Parables are simple stories that changed the world. “… everyone who puts [these words of mine] into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24 paraphrase) said Jesus. Parables are about our faith, how we can honor God with our lives, and how we can reimagine our lives in the changing world that we live in.

  • How is Jesus changing your world?

  • What is the rock that you are building your life on?

  • What is the rock that we are building our church on?

{Transition to the Sacrament of the Holy Communion}

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