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I would like to talk about the conclusion of a sermon.  Now I know that it might seem strange that I want to begin with a conclusion but it’s the conclusion of most famous sermon ever preached by the most famous person in history.  I’m talking about Jesus and the conclusion of his Sermon on the Mount.  If we went into the complete sermon that Jesus taught, it would take a series of sermons that could last months but I since I only have this one Sunday with you I thought that we would look at the conclusion.


Even starting with the conclusion it might be a good thing is we recap the sermon in order to refresh you memories of what it entailed.  The actual Sermon on the Mount covers three chapters in Matthew and is the longest discourse we have on record, written in the Gospels, that Jesus ever spoke.  In Matthew chapter 5 beginning at verse one we read, “One day as He saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountain side and sat down,  His disciples gathered around Him, and He began to teach them.” (NLT)  Now Jesus had been traveling all over the country side and crowds of people had been following him and Jesus was casting out demons, healing, and all sorts of things.  It had to be overwhelming the number of people that He dealt with constantly.  Chapter 4 of Matthew 24 reads, “News about Him spread as far as Syria, and people soon begin bringing to Him all who were sick.  And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed – He healed them all.  Large crowds followed Him wherever He went – people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from the east of the Jordan River.”


Now think about this.  People from all over were following Jesus everywhere we went and not just that but they were bringing all sorts of sick people for Jesus to heal.  Jesus was famous and everyone was hearing about him.  “Did you hear that that guy Jesus, yea that guy who can heal with a touch, is in the next county.  Let’s take Aunt Bertha to him.  The doctors around here can’t seem to fix her lumbago.  Maybe he can.” People were bringing there husbands, wives, children, relatives, friends, and on and on.  And what did Jesus do?  He healed them.  I know that this had to be exhausting and Jesus was seeing probably hundreds of people.  So we see in the beginning of Matthew that Jesus moved out of the crowd and went up on a mountain side and gathered his disciples around him.  His disciples – a disciple is a person who follows the teachings of a particular teacher or rabbi.  This was more than just the twelve guys we call the Apostles because in Mark 3:13 we read that it was from this crowd that Jesus chose the twelve that would accompany Him.  But this was a crowd of disciples who want to listen to what Jesus had to say, not just want Him to do something for them – like heal physical ailments.  So begins the Sermon on the Mount.


Jesus begins his sermon differently than the way most preachers begin a sermon.  Most begin with a topic and then break it down and go from there but not Jesus.  He begins with blessing.  What we call the beatitudes or the blessings – Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the humble (the meek), and so on.   Matthew 5:3 – 11 outlines those blessings.


Then in the remainder of chapter 5 through chapter 7 Jesus began his teaching or sermon if you will.  These teaching can be broken down into about 17 or so different teaching.  Salt and Light, the Law, Anger, Adultery, Divorce, Vows, Revenge, Loving your Enemies, Giving, Prayer and Fasting, Money and Possessions, Judging, the Golden Rule, the Narrow Gate, the Tree and Fruit produced, and True Disciples.  These can be grouped together into 4 groups – what to be – Salt and Light; what Jesus came to do – fulfill the law; How to conduct their lives; and how to treat others.  Then Jesus closed with His teaching on building on a solid foundation and building on sand.


So that is the Sermon on the Mount in a fast synopsis.  Like I said if we really delved into it like I wish we could it would take a couple of months to really get through it all and Jesus did it in just one afternoon.  Proves He’s a better preacher than me.


Now here is what I want to bring to your attention today.  It’s the conclusion that Jesus used in Matthew 7 verses 24 – 27.  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”  (NLT)


I used the New Living Translation here because there are a couple of things that I want to point out that is different from the NIV and the KJV.  In both of those versions in verse 24 instead of saying “Anyone who listens to my teaching…” they use the work “hear” instead of listens.  Now this may not seem to be too much of a difference and it really isn’t but in a way it is.  I know that this sounds confusing but bear with me for a little bit.  Just about all of the translations use the work “hear” instead of “listens” so I went back to the Greek and lo and behold there are two different words used.  The same basic root word for ‘hear’ is used in both verse 24 and verse 26 but like I said the root word.  In verse 24 it is slightly different thereby rendering the meaning of the word to be different.  Just like the words “listen” and “hear” are different.  


Ok, you’re probably asking why this is important. What difference does it make what word is used here?  Ok if you look back at what Jesus said about true disciples in 21 – 23 it will begin to make sense.  “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.”


So what is the difference in listening and hearing?  When you listen to someone you are normally paying attention to what is being said.  You are in tune with what is being conveyed and hopefully you will have a better understanding. You take what is said and if you have listened you will understand what action or actions you need to take to put into practice or how to apply what is said to your life.  You become a stronger person for it.


Let’s contrast hearing instead of listening.  Everyday we have a lot going on in our lives that is all demanding our attention.  Let me give you an example.  At my secular job, my day job at DSS, I sit in very close proximity to three other supervisors.  As supervisors we have people in and out of our offices (cubicles really) and we are on the phone a lot.  There are a lot of conversations going on in each office.  I can hear each one of the other supervisors talking with staff and phones ringing, the printers printing, and so on.  There is a lot of noise.  I, along with the other supervisors, have learned to tune out, to disregard, what each other is doing in order to focus on our own individual tasks at hand.  In other words I hear them but it has become nothing but background noise.  I filter out all of that background noise to do what I do.  I can hear it but I don’t listen to it.  Does that make any sense?  People who just hear lets’ it go in one ear and out the other.  The information doesn’t even take time to rattle around – register- before it slips out of our awareness.


That’s what Jesus means in this conclusion.  Those that listen to his teachings take them to hear and build their lives on a solid foundation.  Those that just hear, they just hear what Jesus said as background noise, nothing of consequence, and focus on what is important to them, build their foundation on sand.


If we build on a solid foundation then no matter what storms come our way we will stand firm.  I like how the NLT talks about the storm. “Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house…”  It’s not just a little sprinkle to get the ground wet it comes down in buckets – torrents.  It rains so hard there is a flood – not just the overflowing of the creek over the bank – but a flood.  Then you have the wind beating – not just blowing against the house but actually beating against it trying to knock it off its foundation.  But since our house, our lives, are built on a solid foundation, we stand strong.


In diametric opposition is the house that is built on sand.  Everything looks the same.  It has the same outward appearance – strong looking walls, roof, doors, beautifully maintained yard, etc.  But underneath that beautiful yard is nothing but sand.  Sand as you know, shifts and moves when disturbed and whatever is sitting on it shifts and moves also.  So when the rain comes down in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the wind beats guess what?  The house begins to sway and move.  And as the sand under the foundation of the house is washed away the house falls with a might crash.


If our lives are built on that strong foundation that Jesus talks about we will stand strong no matter what is thrown our way.  Everyone has storms in their lives and many of them are more like hurricanes and tornados than just summer shower.  We get hammered.  But if our lives are built on the strong foundation, we will stand strong.


If our lives are built on shifting sand, then when the hurricane hits, our world and our carefully manufactured lives crumble.


So what is this solid foundation that Jesus speaks of?  What does Jesus say that we are to do? Look back in verse 24.  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise…”  We are to be listening to the teaching of Jesus and not just listening but following them.  We are to apply what Jesus says to our lives.  We are to be firm in Him and His ways.  Jesus lived what He preached.  He not only ‘talked the talk’ but He ‘walked the walk’.  He practiced what He preached.  We are to be more like Him.  Ephesians 5:1 says we are to be imitators.  “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do…” 


So how can we apply this in our lives today?  We live in what is commonly referred to as the “Information Age”.  We have so much information at our fingertips and so much that assails our senses on a daily basis that many times it doesn’t even register.  You come home from work, turn on the news, your spouse is informing you of what their day was like, the kids are playing noisy video games or yelling at each other, the dog is barking at the cat.  The phone rings and it’s your boss who needs you to finish a big project.  What get’s taken care of first?  How do you know what’s important?  Do you focus in on the loudest or the pushiest?


There are so many things in our lives that drown out what is important in our lives and we can even recognize it because of the ‘noise’ level.  We are just ‘hearing’ and not ‘listening’ to what is important.  Jesus has told us what is important – His teachings.  When we become like those disciples who listen to Jesus everything will fall into place.  We need to put God first in our lives. 


So how do we filter out what is important from what’s not important?  When our lives are grounded in Christ everything else will come into focus.  Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”  As we understand more and more of God’s Word it will guide us and we travel through this dark and murky world.  God speaks to us through His Word.  God and His word will be our filter.


There are a lot of people out there who claim to be Christians but they are not grounded, built, on the solid foundation of Jesus and His teachings.  We need to be firmly rooted deep into God’s Word.  We need that solid foundation that teaches us how to build and live our lives.  We need to study His Word daily and apply it correctly in our lives.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” (NLT)  The KJV says to “Study”.  We need to be in the Bible building a strong foundation.   I guarantee that you will be buffeted by storms if you proclaim to be a Christian and tell others about Jesus.  The last part of that verse says that we need not be ashamed and to correctly explain the Word.


Christ is our rock and our salvation.  When we build our lives on Him and His teachings, we can weather any storm that this world or the prince of this world can dish our.  A popular hymn says it best.

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;
All other ground is sinking sand.


Build a solid foundation in God’s Word.