So today is the big conclusion to our summer series, and I have to tell you…I’m sad to see it go.  I just feel like what we have studied and walked through all summer long is such a big deal.  I have been thinking and dreaming a lot of a day where we literally live out this life that Jesus lays out for us in Matthew 5, 6, and 7.  Behind the scenes Ken and I keep talking about that idea and imagining a day when a group of people would take these words and apply them to their lives.  It’s that big.  It’s that awesome…and frankly it is all there for us.  What a gift we have in this sermon from Jesus.  You know, as I have been preparing these talks, and taking time to reflect on it and personalizing it for myself…this series just felt big.  Jesus is giving us huge concepts to grab hold of and apply to life, the funny thing is most of us have heard this stuff before, it’s the living it out part that really is my focus.  So if you remember we looked at the last illustration Jesus tells as He closed down the series last week, and in these last few verses I think we really see the heart or motivation for this teaching here.

Matthew 7:24 “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. 25 Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit — but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. 26 “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. 27 When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” MSG

We talked a lot last week about this.  Jesus isn’t messing around giving us trivial words that are meant to make us feel good and give us good positive info…no these are foundational words to build a life on.  We are to put His words into practice in our lives.  I love the warning in verse 26 that we see in the Message version here…

Matthew 7:26 “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. 27 When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” MSG

I love that, because for so many of us these words from Jesus just stay in the Bible study, or in the church for a Sunday morning which is a big set up that we really talked about last week.  Now here’s what is really interesting, for most of us who get up every Sunday morning and do the church thing, we would never think that we are doing what I just said.  At the very least we are not doing it intentionally.  I mean we love Jesus, and want to live out the life to the full thing that Jesus said He came to give us…but if we are honest, most of us can’t really say we are walking through life living out life and life to the full.  We spend time with God on a Sunday at church and leave inspired, but life just keep happening and as we talked last week, God isn’t exactly screaming for our attention the way the rest of the world seems to be screaming for our attention and somehow our spiritual lives just slip to the background.  Sunday we are good, it’s just that Monday through Saturday, it’s not something we are doing intentionally but it keeps happening.  We are inspired on Sunday, and then head face first into another very challenging week and we just don’t prioritize our lives around God all week long.  This is the big set up for so many of us and all summer long we realized as we studied this sermon, that Jesus is giving us a road map.  He is showing us how to live our lives as His disciples.  It’s all found in putting His words into practice in our lives each and every day.  This is a way to live life at home, with the family, in your relationships, at works, at school, and out in your community.  Unfortunately for many of us it takes something challenging in our lives to pull our focus off of ourselves a little and onto God doesn’t it?  This is really what we saw last week, Jesus let us know that storms are coming, and that is when the true foundation of your life comes out.  It is so true isn’t it?  When the tough times hit God sure is in the forefront of your mind, but when life is rolling along well…when the bills are paid, when the kids are healthy, it isn’t as easy to keep Him the focus of your life.

The challenge is getting to a place where can keep God central in our lives, without the storms, or life hitting so hard right?  That is what Jesus lays out for us in these three chapters, a way to live life that is simply the best way we could possibly live.

Now I want to show you something really interesting because I think what happens next is absolutely fascinating, and frankly it isn’t all that uncommon when it comes to church today.  So Jesus gives this amazing sermon, he concludes with the story we just read and I want you to see how the people respond…

Matthew 7:26 “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. 27 When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” 28 When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. 29 It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying — quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard. MSG

Look at how the people respond!  They burst into applause.  They are so excited, absolutely amazed at this teaching that they just heard.  Which is pretty cool right?  It’s always nice to get positive feedback after a sermon.  Here’s what is so interesting, in our churches if we get this kind of response from people we would leave pretty excited wouldn’t we?  How amazing is this, the people are cheering, everyone is amazed…but remember Jesus doesn’t care about crowd approval.  I can almost see Him rolling His eyes at this response as he starts to head down the mountain on that day after the talk, because what Jesus is focused on is us actually living our lives as He asked us to live them, not on how excited we are in the moment.  Jesus is more worried about who we are, and how we are actually living our lives than how much we clap for His talk or how emotional we would get on a Sunday morning.  How do I say this so confidently?  Well listen to Jesus’ words here.

John 5:41 “I’m not interested in crowd approval. 42 And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda.”  MSG

Wow!  Do you see it?  It is about God’s love being central in our lives…which would translate to us living out this teaching, not just enjoying the sermon on a Sunday morning.  I have to tell you growing up around church I have seen a lot of these big emotional moments, where we cry and pray and feel phenomenal on a Sunday morning…but in my heart I often am praying that it actually translates to living differently all week long…you know the other 6 days of the week as well.  I find it fascinating that the disciples clap and cheer for this amazing teaching where Jesus explains how important it is to live this stuff out because the storms in life are coming and then immediately after they hear this, life starts to hit, it’s intense, it’s emotional, it is messy.  Remember Jesus just told them the storms were coming…well he wasn’t kidding!  Chapter 8 starts this way…

Matthew 8:1 Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. MSG

So throughout the day Jesus begins ministering to people.  First He heals a leper, then a Captain of the Roman Army’s servant, then Peter’s mom who had a fever.  After that we see that Jesus healed many people that day who were afflicted by demons.  Now in Scripture this is just a few sentences, but I want you to think about how crazy, and emotional, and messy this all is.  Lepers, demon afflicted, roman soldiers, Peter’s mother.  This is intense.  This is life and it is coming at them hard and fast.  Do you think there was a moment or two when they thought back to the peace they had moments ago as Jesus taught them on the mount?  It’s like life just went from zero to 60 mph in hurry!  It’s intense, they are full go in the craziness of life.  Crowds of people around them cheering for Jesus.  He is healing people. People are pulling Him in every direction and the disciples are seeing all of this.  People are coming up to Jesus wanting to follow Him, this is pretty chaotic.

So let’s take a moment and think this through.  They just had a beautiful moment listening to a sermon, and then stepped right into the intensity of life.  Now I know you aren’t healing lepers and spending your time healing the sick and casting out demons, but I think any of us can personalize this and see the same types of things playing out in our lives.  We can have a great moment in church, where we feel so good.  We worship, we cry, we could even clap or cheer…then what happens?  You leave the parking lot and you get slammed with texts, emails, afternoon activities, immediately back into the craziness of life.  Amazing how that happens right?  Emotional moment on Sunday, back to reality maybe even before you get into your car to head to lunch right after the talk ends!  So let’s keep reading because I am amazed at the irony that happens that night.  The crowds are growing so they get on a boat and check this out…

Matthew 8:23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a terrible storm came up, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 And Jesus answered, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly all was calm. 27 The disciples just sat there in awe. “Who is this?” they asked themselves. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” NLT

Ok, so this has been a long day for these guys right?  They have gone from this amazing, emotional spiritual moment on the mountain into the intensity of a cheering crowd, all wanting and needing different things from them.  Anyone else think they might have been on overload at this point of the day and now what?  A storm!  Can we just go back for a moment to Jesus ending the Sermon on the Mount by explaining how important His words were because…of the storms of life which will expose us for who we are and not even 24 hours later after a whirlwind of a day, they are scared to death thinking they are going to die, in a storm…anyone else think that is pretty amazing?  Think Jesus wanted to just remind them of the morning teaching?

Matthew 7:24 “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. 25 Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit — but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. 26 “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. 27 When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” MSG

Hmm, Jesus said that to them in the morning…there are going to be storms coming and here we are moments later needing Jesus to save us in the storm.  Jesus looks at these guys and questions their faith…and I have to wonder if there wasn’t a moment where they thought to themselves (assuming Peter probably said something out loud! Ha, that’s just my imagination though) “Jesus where is our faith…we are here with you!  We are following you!  We even cheered for you at the end of the sermon this morning.  What do you mean where is our faith?”

I want you thinking about this today.  Hours after Jesus gives the greatest sermon ever taught, where they had this big emotional response, it was like they forgot everything Jesus said.  It’s incredible isn’t it?  And can I tell you something it isn’t all that uncommon in the world we live in today as well.  We show up and do the church thing on a Sunday morning, we may have a great emotional response to the teaching or the worship, but it’s how we live our lives that matters.  It’s bigger than just what happens on Sunday and I think what we are seeing the disciples walk through here is something very common around church today.  We engage a Sunday service, we feel really good, and then life hits…the storms come, and next thing we know it’s Saturday night again and we just kind of plowed through life without centering on God…again.  This can become a cycle that many can get into that is hard to get out of…do you see it.  I live my life however…I get tossed around by the wind and the waves and the crazy of life…but I cried on Sunday, so I’m ok right?  Well no, Christianity is more than an emotional response on Sunday, it’s how we live our lives.

After this summer of walking through the Sermon on the Mount, you will walk back into the craziness of life.  For me with all the kids I get it as they jump into the school year and fall sports, etc.  Everyone pulling you in different directions.  Look, I get it.  With 4 children and all their activities and schedules and details it’s amazing how distracted I can feel just getting them around to things, let alone then bumping into so many people in every environment those activities put me in then add my own stuff too…I get it, life is crazy.  We all have a lot going on, and I think that can be the set up.  We have all of these commitments and appointments and to-do lists.  Storms are going to pop up.   Unexpected problems are coming.  It will feel so overwhelming, you might forget everything Jesus taught and have that sense that you are failing or losing.  We must center on God.  It isn’t easy because He isn’t screaming out for our attention the way the rest of life does, but it is so important that we live this stuff out.  Christianity is all about life change, transformation, living this stuff out!  This is what Jesus was talking about, and I think why He sounds a little frustrated here in the boat in the storm with the disciples.  He is saying “Hey, we just talked about it, and you just cheered for it…so where is your faith right now in the middle of the storm that I told you was coming?”  Amazing isn’t it?

I think one of the biggest challenges is in living this stuff out.  Remember Jesus said this…

Matthew 7:24 “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. MSG

Jesus isn’t interested in the big emotional response on a Sunday morning.  He is after your heart, true life change.  He wants us to get to a place in our lives where we live out the words that He taught us.  It’s bigger than crowd approval.  It’s bigger than an emotional moment on a Sunday morning…in the end Jesus is laying out for us a way to live our lives with the right foundation, so we can withstand all that life has to offer and if you have been on this planet for any length of time you know that the storms of life aren’t always easy to push through.

I think the emotional, but I cried on Sunday trap as I like to call it is very real.  I think it’s easy to walk in and out of a church service, hear the right song, watch the right video, and be inspired in the teaching for that moment…and when we do have that big emotional response in church it can be easy to think…I’m good now.  I cried or I cheered on a Sunday.  How did that work out for the disciples in the story that we looked at today?  Maybe instead of picking on them, let’s personalize it even more.  How did that work out for you?  Let’s be real for a moment, it isn’t easy to sustain that emotion all week long…not with the kind of crazy that we live in today!  I really believe that is what Jesus was doing in this teaching, and I believe that is why He ended it with the story of the builders and the storms, where He was really stressing the importance of a good foundation.  The foundation matters because life is crazy…and as we saw for the disciples, an emotional moment on a Sunday morning wasn’t going to be enough to sustain them through life and the intensity of the storms of life…it didn’t even sustain them for 24 hours of one day!  We need to learn from this and see that our Spiritual lives are bigger than just Sunday morning moments…they are a lifestyle that we should live all week long.

So maybe you are thinking ok Sam, this is great.  I get it, and I totally agree with you hear, so what do I do?  How do I get to a place where I know that I’m building Jesus’ words into my life?  So I will answer that very practically first, and then we will close down the series with some words from my buddy Paul.  I think practically there are some very important things you need to do.

1st – If you have never done this, it’s time to ask Jesus into your life and begin submitting your life to Him.   This is foundational and so important.  Jesus is everything.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. NIV

2nd – Spend time with God each and every day!  Listen, I know this comes up every week, but it is so important.  Our spiritual lives are more than just a Sunday morning experience and we must invite Jesus into every day of our lives.  We do this by spending time with God in prayer, reading God’s written word in the Bible, and reflecting on it.  It’s in staying focused on God and His word that it starts to become a living and active part of our lives…and it’s when something really special happens.  If you remember this to me is the key to whether or not we can live the life of a disciple of Christ out or not.

Matthew 6:6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. MSG

That is the key to everything!

3rd – Engage your church and serve others and the mission of Christ.  Why would serving be on this list?  It’s because when you serve something shifts in your heart that just won’t shift any other way and I believe for many Christians they spend their whole lives looking for more programs to grow spiritually, looking for churches to build friendships and community for them, and they will never find it if they won’t serve.  Something changes in your heart when you serve and engage the mission of a local church…and as a bonus, yes, you gain community and friendships that you wouldn’t have had if you stayed on the sidelines wondering what the church was going to do for you next.  Jesus says this…

Matthew 23:11 “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. 12 If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty. MSG

Listen, Jesus is laying out a life for us…not a bunch of nice positive informational type things for us to keep in our minds, but a way to live that needs to penetrate our hearts and come out in our actions.  That is when Christianity gets fun, when it’s more than just words, when it becomes part of our lives.  So as we close down this series on the greatest sermon ever preached I hope you see it and more importantly I hope you can live it out.

I’m going to leave you today with some words from Paul in his letter to the Ephesians because it just kept hitting my heart as I was preparing this talk today.  Listen to what Paul writes from his jail cell here…I can’t think of a better way to end this awesome series…

Ephesians 6:10 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. 11 So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. 12 This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. 13 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. 14 Truth, righteousness, 15 peace, 16 faith, 17 and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. 18 In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. MSG

Listen, the foundation matters.