This week, as we continue in our series in Luke, we will be reflecting on Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6:46-49 where we learn that we are to build our lives on the rock of Jesus’ teaching if we are to withstand the various storms that we will face. Today, we’ll reflect on the truth that God sends and allows storms so as to reveal and improve our heart and what we are building on.
‘“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”’ (Luke 6:46-49)
Lesson: The storms reveal the true nature of our spiritual condition and so allow us to treasure and build on Christ more devotedly.
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This week, as I was walking down the street, I was nearly hit by a grown man riding a bicycle on the pavement, which I found rather annoying. However, the man in front of me had a rather stronger reaction as he seemed to purposefully step in the cyclist’s way and then punch him on the shoulder as he passed! This led to further confrontation between them, which thankfully didn’t escalate beyond strong words of accusation. However, a few minutes later, I saw the chap who had responded angrily to the cyclist walk confrontationally through a group of men, refusing to move or give ground in any way. Again, this caused some annoyance and threatened to create violence.
I tell you this incident because our behaviour and words are the overflow of our heart. Angry and ungodly words and actions are the ‘fruit’ of our hearts, revealing the ‘foundations’ on which we are building. Storms reveal what is in us. We can pretend and keep things together when life is easy and we are getting our way, but the truth of our identity comes out in the storms. Dallas Willard wrote:
‘We live from our heart. The part of us that drives and organises our life is not the physical. This remains true even if we deny it. You have a spirit within you and it has been formed. It has taken on a specific character. I have a spirit and it has been formed. This is true of everyone. The human spirit is an inescapable, fundamental aspect of every human being; and it takes on whichever character it has from the experiences and the choices that we have lived through or made in our past. That is what it means for it to be “formed.” Our life and how we find the world now and in the future is, almost totally, a simple result of what we have become in the depths of our being—in our spirit, will, or heart. From there we see our world and interpret reality. From there we make our choices, break forth into action, try to change our world. We live from our depths—most of which we do not understand.’
The storms are often God’s way of revealing to us—not to Himself, for He knows—what’s in our hearts. The quality of our foundations is exposed by the storm. As our lives are battered and things begin to fall down, we are brought back to examine our foundations. In one case, the storms can take much of what one values, and yet they find Christ and treasure Him in a new way; in another case, the storms take what they value, and they blame and disown Christ.
I’m reminded of Jonah in his literal storm that revealed to him so much. Jonah, after running away from God’s call to go to Nineveh, ends up being thrown into the stormy sea—sent by God—and into the belly of a huge fish—also sent by God—for 3 days and nights. Here, in his storm, Jonah has a choice: He can descend into greater darkness, or he can turn to God in trust, prayer, and worship. Jonah's response was to exhort himself to turn to God in prayer and worship, acknowledging God's greatness and mercy; choosing not to let his mistakes and dark circumstances rob him of faith.
‘From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ (Jonah 2:1-4)
Tim Keller wrote of the purifying effect that storms have on us:
‘Countless Christians can attest to the same experience. It is only when you reach the very bottom, when everything falls apart, when all your schemes and resources are broken and exhausted, that you are finally open to learning how to completely depend on God. As is often said, you never realise that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.’ (Keller, Timothy. The Prodigal Prophet)
The storms reveal the true nature of our spiritual condition, allowing us to treasure and build on Christ more devotedly. What are your storms revealing to you, and how is your heart being exposed by the waves that may be breaking over you? Let’s pray together:
"Lord Jesus, just as you sent the storm and the great fish to Jonah to reveal the true condition of his heart, help me to learn and grow in the storms that you allow into my life. As you unveil my true foundations, may I make you my treasured and unshakable foundation. Amen."
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?
3. Worship together
Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.
4. Study and pray together
This week, as we continue in our series in Luke, we will be reflecting on Jesus’ teaching from Luke 6:46-49 where Jesus is finishing off this section often called ‘The Sermon on the Plain’. As He finishes, He ends with a parable in order to illustrate the vital place of building our lives on the good foundation of His teaching.
Please read Luke 6:46-49
On Sunday we saw that we are to be those who build on the rock of Jesus’ teaching; what aspects of Jesus’ teaching come to mind for you?
Our ‘icebreaker’ in our Community Groups is often: ‘How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?’ This is designed as a simple way of encouraging one another to read and do what’s in the Bible. When, where and how do you make time to devote yourself to the Bible?
What are the various ‘storms’ that assault and test the quality of our faith?
On Sunday, Phil shared a very painful storm that he had been through; Do you have any experiences that you would like to share of how you’ve persevered through storms and what truths did you stand on?
SIV - How will the way that we deal with the storms of life be a testimony to those in our lives?
SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ this week?
SIV - Lets now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV.
Does anyone want prayer out of what we have reflected on together or for anything else?