“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.”  (Matthew 7:26-27, NLT)

Most of our personal calamities or failures occur for lack of obedience to Jesus’ teaching.  It is not because the calamity is God’s “payback” for our disobedience; rather, it is because we have ignored God’s blueprint that we discover, frequently in tears, that our own designs are inadequate for the stresses of life.  In this instance, we are responsible for our choices.

It is helpful to note that in Jesus’ parable, both houses are beat upon by the rains, and assaulted by the floods.  However, only the house built on a solid rock is able to withstand the events that test our foundation.

When the next storm of life arrives, will your life’s foundation prove adequate?  Jesus says, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” (verse 24)  – Luther

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“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14, NIV)

The verses preceding today’s citation, to which we commonly refer (in part) as “The Sermon on the Mount,” gives us an idea of the kind of behavior that comprises”the narrow gate” to which Jesus refers: Be humble.  Be discreet.  Don’t bear grudges.  Go the extra mile.  Love your enemy. . .

Such behaviors often take extra time and energy from us, and we prefer living the “highway life” because we don’t like delays and detours.  We do all that we can to avoid any kind of inconvenience.  As a result, we cruise on our own road to nowhere.  Today, look for the little gate.  Eschew the crowd.  Keep on the narrow road.  It is there — and there only — that you will find life in all of its abundance.  – Luther

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“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping.  ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter.  ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'”  (Matthew 26:40-41, NIV)

We are full of potential!  Of all of the external influences that conspire to limit our achievement and hobble the power of the spirit within us, physical fatigue is arguably the most formidable.

Then, we are tempted to excuse our failure to follow-through on our physical limitations: We are old (or young); we are ill-positioned; we are exhausted; we are handicapped.  Jesus did not expect the disciples to do more than any of them were able.  He never did. He expected only that they watch with Him for 60 minutes.

Our physical limitations are real, but they are not insurmountable — especially if we are willing to pray as we stand watch; and watch as we stand praying.  Our physical limitations are real, but they are not insurmountable — especially if we are willing to include those nearest to us in the task.  What might have been the outcome, despite their fatigue, had the 11 disciples chosen to (as Paul and Silas did some years later in prison; please see Acts 16:22-26 for the full story) pray and sing hymns to release the spirit; energize the flesh — and see the power of God come down?  The spirit is willing!  – Luther

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