Written by Johnny Rivera on 10/4/18

Hurricane Michael made landfall last week and one of the hardest hit areas was Mexico Beach, Florida. Aerial images showed many of the homes along the Shore completely destroyed. But in one of the images captured (above) you can see one home that survived the storm. In a New York Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/14/us/hurricane-michael-florida-mexico-beach-house.html) the owner mentions the great lengths that he went to build a home that could withstand a storm like Hurricane Michael. One of the key specifications was building the home to withstand 250 mph winds even though he was only required to build to withstand 175 mph winds. The owners built their home to withstand a storm that they could not possibly foresee yet would arrive just a year later. They built meticulously then to survive a storm later.

Jesus spoke of building a spiritual home that would survive the storms in this life. We find this teaching at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:24-29. I have taught on this passage several times over the last 15 years. I have always believed what it teaches, but today I am more convinced than ever of the truth being illustrated through this passage. Jesus closes out the Sermon on the Mount with these words,

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.” 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Jesus teaches here that, when storms come our way, our ability to withstand the storm will depend on whether our foundation was on the rock. In this context, the rock is hearing Jesus’ Word and putting it into practice. In this world we cannot choose if we have storms and we cannot choose when we have storms. But we can choose to prepare for the storms. Talent, temperament or worldly wisdom do not determine whether you stand through the storms. It is where you lay your foundation that will determine if you stand or fall in the storm. I am more convinced than ever that the time to prepare for the storm is now not later.

In October 2012 our area was hit with Superstorm Sandy. I remember going to the supermarket to get some things in preparation. I remember sealing the windows with plastic and tying down loose chairs and tools in the backyard. In the midst of the storm I remember looking outside and seeing the trees bend almost in half and I remember thanking God that I did not have to go outside in that weather. When a storm is coming we don’t wait till it arrives to go to the supermarket. We don’t pick up batteries and flashlights when the rain and wind are strongest. No, that wouldn’t make much sense! And of coarse we don’t start to build or check foundational structures while the storm is overhead. We go before the storm so that we are prepared, as best we can, before the storm actually hits the area. The same principle applies to the storms we face in life.

On Thursday night September 6th a storm came into our lives with no warning. I would never choose the storm that came our way and I certainly wouldn’t choose for it to hit on Glory’s birthday! That night was a nightmare. As I write this, four weeks later, I can now see the sun peaking through the clouds. The storm was difficult to deal with, to say the least. There have been times in the midst of this storm when it has been difficult to read and take in the Word, not because I didn’t want to but because it has sometimes been difficult to concentrate. But let me tell you this, I have stood through this time because of the many quiet times I had leading up to this storm. I cannot tell you how many times I have referred to or just remembered a quiet time that I have had over the last few months, or even year, that has helped me get through a moment or a tough day. I love to read and learn about God and His Word, but there are absolutely times that I don’t feel like reading. But I read because I know I need it. In the moment I may not know just how much I will need it, but later I am so grateful that I pushed myself in those times. Every time counts because each time we read and take in His Word we are building on the rock and getting prepared for a future storm. You don’t want to find yourself in a storm without preparing! It’s hard enough having prepared and having the support of family and friends. I cannot imagine going through times like this without God, His Word and His people! It’s not wise to prepare for the storm during the storm, when the rain is coming down and the winds are the strongest.

If we know that we should be reading our Bibles, why do we often struggle to read? I was reading an article in Christianity Today (link below) that highlighted some research that sought to answer that question. According to Lifeway Research 9 out of 10 households in America own at least one Bible. Yet here’s what else they found,

“Despite the fact that most Americans could likely walk around their homes and count more than a few Bibles dispersed throughout, only one in five Americans have actually read the Bible in its entirety and more than half of Americans (53%) have read merely a smattering of passages to none at all.”

But perhaps even more interestingly, they sought to discover why people don’t really read the Bible as often as they should, “In an effort to explain this phenomenon once and for all, LifeWay Research surveyed Americans asking them: Why have you not read the Bible more? Some of the excuses provided by individuals for not spending time in scripture range from the usual, “I don’t have time” to “I don’t read books” to “I don’t prioritize it.”

But by far, most respondents (35%) in this survey actually selected “None of the above” as their response.

Americans unwillingness to select one of the answers offered in this survey brought me to a compelling realization: most people are aware that they aren’t spending the time in Scripture that they feel they need to, and they don’t really know why! It’s not that they don’t like it or don’t know that they should read it; they’re choosing not to for reasons that remain ambiguous even to their own conscience.

The bottom line is this, whatever the reason we have for struggling to read daily, we need to put it aside and make the time. Knowing that it’s important is not enough. We must invest time in reading the Scriptures. I am more convinced of this than ever. Read your Bible early and often! His Word will not come back empty! His Word will help you to weather the storms. His Word will transform you and help you to live life to the full! Make the time now and reap the benefits now and later!

Johnny Rivera
Elder & Evangelist
Central Jersey Church of Christ

Link to the entire article at https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/september/dumbed-down-why-reading-bible-important-ed-stetzer.html

Additional Scriptures to consider:

Isaiah 55:10-11
Psalm 119:92-93
Psalm 119:105
Isaiah 40:8
Psalm 18:30
James 1:22
Hebrews 5:13-14