Matthew 7:24-28  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.”

I set a dumpster on fire.  I didn’t mean to, but it was probably definitely my fault.  I had just moved into an apartment that had a working fireplace.  After a considerably cold weekend, I was cleaning up my apartment and collected all the ashes from the fireplace.  The thing is, I thought the ashes were fine.  I didn’t see any embers or coals, so I figured they were harmless.  I put them in to a garbage bag, took them down to the dumpster and threw them away.  Hours later I heard sirens as the fire department was called to put out the flames that were leaping out of the top of the dumpster.  I remember it taking a few seconds for me to put two and two together.  I thought, “I wonder what fool set the dumpster on fire.”  This thought was soon followed by the realization that I was probably the fool.

Very few people ever intend to cause damage.  We can hurt people around us without even knowing it.  We are just trying to do some good.  We are so proud of ourselves for helping.  It is only later that we realize our good deed has caused hurt and pain.

There are a lot of books about how missions can be more harmful than helpful.  We need to be very intentional about what we do and how we do it, especially when dealing with different cultures and customs.

 Mission trips are very delicate, because we have good intentions, but we can cause unintended damage.

Ideally, when a missionary decides to go out into the field, they study up on where they are going.  The learn languages and customs.  They plan ahead.  They establish a foundation in God’s will that helps them as they serve.  This mindset helps them reach people in a respectful and effective way.  They have built their house upon the rock.

The man who built his house on sand, in the parable above, never intended to build a faulty house.  He just started with a bad foundation.  His plans and work, while meant for good, could not hold up when the rains came.  How many of us go through life with an unstable foundation?  When we place our trust in anything other than God’s truth, our plans will fail.  The result of operating outside of God’s will leads to unintended and sometimes disastrous consequences.

The passages, leading up to the parable, are known as the Sermon on the Mount.  It is basically Jesus’ guidebook for living.  When he says, “Anyone who hears these words and puts them into practice…” he is referring to the content of his sermon.  He is saying, “This is what it takes to have a strong foundation in my kingdom.”  It is staggering to think what the world would be like if everyone followed these instructions.  How much damage would be prevented if we could just bring ourselves to follow His instructions?

How does your foundation look today?

When you face a problem is your first reaction to go to God, or do you rely on your strength?

Ask God to show you parts of your life that might not be built on the rock.

Day 4 of 6 from the 2014 Mission Discovery Devotional