- Matthew 7:24-27– “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
- Luke 7:35–“But wisdom is justified by all her children.”
- John 12:35– Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.”
- Matthew 12:25–But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
A WISE MAN WHO BUILT HIS HOUSE ON THE ROCK
Choice. In this week’s lesson, choice is a huge thing. There is must that happens in life over which we have no control. But at what point is it our own personal responsibility to choose how to live as a result?
You may have a difficult childhood, but how long will you let that dictate your life? You may have been abused. At what point are the decision you make controlled by that?
Our life and the circumstances therein absolutely can influence the rest of our lives. We may see the world a little differently as a result. There may still be healing needed because of some of those circumstances. But at what point do you decide to no longer be a victim of those circumstances?
Looking at your life, in what areas do you feel you don’t have a choice?
Working with college students, I often hear some version of “I don’t have a choice.” But that is a flat lame excuse for not wanting to take responsibility. Let’s take a look at fictional Bob. Bob says, “I don’t have a choice. My parents have no money and I refuse to take out a loan. I work three jobs to pay for school. How am I supposed to find time to do all this homework? It’s stupid to ask that much of me! It’s not like I have a choice in the matter!” Actually, even int he case of fictional Bob, there are many points of choice he could have made. Bob could have chosen to attend a less expensive school, go to school part-time, work full-time in order to save enough to cover tuition, take out a reasonable loan, accept that college would be difficult and working three jobs while attending school full-time would be extremely difficult.
In the situations you listed earlier, what choice do you actually have?
Choice is important to understand. In Matthew 7, Jesus speaks of two men: one who built his house on a rock and another who chose sand. Read Matthew 7:24-27. What stands out to you?
The men had a choice where to build their house. And that decision set the stage for the life they would experience when the rains came. I am reminded of a Californian family whose house was destroyed because of rains and mudslides. The rather large home had slid down the hillside along with tons of mud and debris. The story was compelling…until the reporter mentioned that this same family lost a house the same way on the same piece of land only three years earlier. Seriously?!? They rebuilt on the exact same spot and were shocked when the exact same thing happened.
And we are exactly like them. We build and rebuild and rebuild on the same shifting ground and are somehow shocked when we get the same results as before.
In what ways have you rebuilt on the same shaky ground in your life?
Read Luke 6:47-49. This is the parallel passage of the same parable. What do you notice about Luke’s account?
And he dug through rock so that the foundation of his house would be solid. It would not have been an easy task–but he did it for the sake of a solid future.
What challenges stand in the way of you making good choices in your life?
The man who built his house on the rock probably had to spend a great deal of time doing it. Digging through rock often does. In many areas, we lack both the patience and persistence evidenced by the man who built his home wisely.
In what ways is impatience actually impeding your progress in the choices you have identified for your life?
We all have choice to make. To lay a foundation in rock, it will take hard work and patient persistence. Will you choose to do the work? Will you choose diligence?
What is God asking of you?
Luke 7:35–“…wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
WALK WHILE YOU HAVE THE LIGHT
Life happens. Sometimes is happens to us–yet we still can control, at minimum, our reaction to it. In every situation, we have choice. And wherever there is choice, we have impact. Even the slightest change has an impact. Adding a single teaspoon of sugar to your coffee impacts not only the sweetness of the coffee, but also the number of calories consumed while also increasing the importance of brushing your teeth later.
The slightest changes make an impact in your spiritual life as well. Read Luke 13:18-19. What stands out to you?
A mustard seed is tiny. Yet it grows large enough that birds can nest in its branches.This section’s theme, walking in the light, is a choice. And in that choice, even the smallest movement hold promise for significant impact.
For each of the following verses, list the qualities of light and/or dark you observe in the text:
2 Peter 1:17-19
Look at your completed list. In your life, which deeds of the light are present?
Which deeds of the dark do you still need to eradicate?
What of the light do you need to increase?
Review Ephesians 5:6-17. “…be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, for the days are evil.”
Make the most of your time. Choose wisely.
ANY CITY OR HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF WILL NOT STAND
We’ve explored choices. We have studied light versus darkness. Not it is time to set up the context of our lives so those other decisions have the best change of success. For what benefit is there to make a positive choice when surrounded by the context that will make it near impossible to carry out that positive decision. Some contexts are outside of our control. If you have an unreasonable boss, you likely won’t be able to change them. However, you can adjust your environment to give you the best chance at interacting well with that boss. Maybe you reserve the 15-20 minutes before a meeting with the boss to not be filled with anything–no back-to-back meetings, no emails. You set that time so you can clear your mind, remind yourself of your commitment to better interaction, and create the best change that you can actually fulfill that commitment.
Making positive decisions surrounded by a negative environment can create a situation where you are actually working against yourself. Yes, there are things you cannot control, but if you adjust the situation as much as is in your power, at least all of your energy is working in the same direction. To do otherwise sets yourself against yourself–and as Jesus describes, that is a situation that will not stand.
There is much that stands in the way of positive choices. Satan doesn’t want you living in the light. The world wonders why you do what you do, sometimes even showing hostility toward it. And if that weren’t enough, your natural self stands in the way as well.
Review the past couple of sections of study and complete the following steps.
List positive decisions made over the past couple of sections of study, leaving room between each one.
Next to each positive decision, list elements in your life and/or environment that might serve as obstacles to persisting in those decisions.
In order for positive changes to me made, we first identify potential challenges in the environment. Positive changes do not happen simply because the choice is made–it all it took to make a change was to make the choice to change, all of our New Year’s resolutions would already be completed.
In order for positive choices to translate into positive changes, we must also commit to creating an environment for success. Read Romans 6:1-6. What stands out to you?
We have died to our old self that we might live in grace. This serves as a great model for other positive decisions. We can set up our environment to help us put away the old ways.
For each obstacle in your list of positive decisions, identify at least one change in environment that will help facilitate the positive decisions you have already made this week.
Prayerfully review the list, the obstacles, and the positive changes in environment to support the positive decision.
Which decisions is Jesus asking you to prioritize?
What immediate actions must you take to carry them out?
Embrace the reality that you can make positive decisions. And those decisions can create lasting change in your life. Prayerfully address your life, lean continually on God, and set Jesus as your example. And oh, the legacy you can leave behind as a result.
End this week’s study praising Jesus for the freedom to change and the power He provides to do so. Walk–because you have the Light.