Be doers of the Word
Matthew 7:24-27 
 ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’
This parable from Jesus is not about whether you build on the Port Hills or whether you build at Brighton where there is liquefaction.  It is about being hearers of the word and doers of the word.
The question we have to ask ourselves is:  “How deep does my faith go?  Is it a surface layer or is it right down to the core?”
If it’s the former, then Jesus has harsh words for us.
Matthew 23:26-28
Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, so that the outside may become clean as well.  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. In the same way, you appear to be righteous on the outside, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.…
When we put on Christianity as an outer layer of clothing – worn today, taken off again until next Sunday, then we are, as I said last week, ashamed of the gospel. We are the classic hypocrite, that classic accusation against Christians.
Unfortunately the truth is that there are many people in churches who have their heads filled with information from the Bible, but they don’t obey what the Bible commands. Sitting in the pews of Sundays for years means an awful amount of teaching has gone into our ears, but what have we done with it? The answer for many is: nothing! 
That may sound harsh, but surveys commonly show that there is substantially no difference between evangelical Christians and the population at large on most moral and social beliefs and behaviour. 
When we have an outer layer of Christian piety and goodness when we are out and about with people, but when we are at home we mistreat our spouses and children, we indulge in out addictions and watch things that we shouldn’t, and use inappropriate language then we fall into the category of the Pharisees and reap the condemnation of Jesus like them. 
Receiving, reading, researching, remembering, and reflecting on the Word of God are all useless if we fail to put them into practice. We must become doers of the word. 
When our faith is superficial, when all we have done is heard the Word, then when the wheels fall off our lives then we will have nothing of substance to hold on to. That is why Jesus says in the parable that they will fall greatly. But if we have ingrained the word so much so that we act on it, then our second nature is built on a firm foundation.
But putting the Word into deeds is a hard step, because Satan fights it so intensely. He doesn’t mind you going to church as long as you don’t do anything with what you learn. We fool ourselves when we assume that just because we have heard or read or studied a truth, we have internalized it. 
James 1:22-23
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves. For anyone who hears the word but does not carry it out is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and after observing himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.…

The word of God is like a mirror that reveals to us the very thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Heb. 4:12). It shows us our ugly, self-centred attitudes. It exposes our pride. It confronts our contempt for others and our lack of compassion. It hits our sinful anger and our rotten speech. It uncovers our deception, greed, and lust. But, if we just take a quick glance at the word once in a rare while and rush out the door, without doing anything to address the problems that it reveals, it won’t do us any good.
I don’t want to focus on the negative – we know the negative – we know our failings without them being pointed out to us. I want to focus on what if means for us if we go beyond being merely hearers and actually become doers of the word.
Scripture goes on to say that the one who hears the word and becomes an effectual doer “will be blessed in what he does.” There are four things to note:
We need to look intently at the Word.
Rather than a quick glance, the doer of the word looks intently at it. The Greek word means to stoop and look carefully at something. This isn’t the quick glance of the guy who rushes out the door, but rather the careful look of one who notices a blemish or spot of dirt on his face and takes the time to correct the problem.  We need to ask: Have just snacked on the Word of God today or have I actually had a sit down and chew meal?  Have I treated God’s word as an UpnGo drink or fast food snack rather than a decent meal? Then we need to ask: What does it mean for ME if I were to take that passage or that Scripture to heart? What would my thoughts and actions look like if I actually took on that Scripture?  
Often I get people come up after a service and say “That was a wonderful sermon today” and I will ask them what I said and they can’t tell me.  Have they taken it in or have I just tickled their ears? 
If you take notes during the sermon, do you actually during the week go back to those notes and ask the question: what does this word mean for me?  When I go to seminars and conferences, I take notes, but do I ever go back to those notes and dwell on them?
We need to not only change our outward behaviour but our heart
Jesus and the writer of James knew that their fellow Jews were prone to keep the Law outwardly, while their hearts were far from God. They were like the rich young ruler. They thought, like him, that they kept all of the commandments from their youth up, but they and him were violating the great commandment, because they loved their money more than they loved God (Matt. 19:16-22).   I wonder also if they loved the idea of church rather than having a relationship with Jesus. 
Jesus rebuked the Jews (Matt. 15:8, citing Isaiah 29:13), for this façade of keeping the Law: “This people honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me.”
God’s word applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit frees us from bondage to sin (John 8:31-36). We must apply the word on the deep level even below the level of conscious thought if we want to overcome sin, because all sin stems from the heart (Mark 7:21-23). We need to integrate God’s word into our very being.
We need to continuously apply the word to our lives
It is not about coming to the word for a quick fix for our immediate problem. If we do that, we get our answer and say, “Thanks, see you next time I’m in trouble!” Instead, the Bible must be continually applied to our hearts over our entire lifetimes. It’s a long-term approach that requires discipline and diligence to reap the benefits. As Psalm 1:1-3 states,
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season. And its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
When God’s word takes root in our hearts, it shifts our focus from self to others.
We have to move from having good intentions to obey the word to actually doing it. It’s easy for me to think, “I need to go see so-and-so and encourage him in his faith.” Great thought, but if I don’t put it in my schedule, it won’t happen.
As God’s people, we are to be in the world, but not of the world (John 17:15-19). We are not to join monasteries to keep ourselves from being tainted by this evil world. When James later says (4:4), if we make friends with the world, we have made ourselves enemies of God. He means that we are not to embrace the world’s goals, priorities, and temporal values. We should not find pleasure in the world’s entertainment if it mocks God and His word. We are to go into the world and befriend sinners, as the Saviour did, and yet not be stained by their evil thinking and evil deeds. Be Teflon coated like the frypan.
The hearer and doer who is blessed looks intently at the word. He applies it, not just to his outward behaviour, but also to his heart. He continues applying it over a lifetime. 
Finally, we need to own our own responsibility; we need to do what we hear.
A grey-haired old lady, long a member of her church, shook hands with the pastor after the service one Sunday morning. “That was a wonderful sermon,” she exclaimed, “just wonderful! Everything you said applies to someone I know.” 
James doesn’t want us applying the word to others. He doesn’t want us taking notes which are never re-read or applied.  He wants us to apply it to ourselves. James is clear: Don’t be a forgetful hearer of the word. Become an effectual doer and you will be blessed by God.
Build your house on the rock and not on the shifting sands.