Crazy things Jesus said #3
You can move mountains
May 12, 2018 RUMC
A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smokies built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member. Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building.
Until the church doubled the size of the parking lot, they would not be able to use the new sanctuary. Unfortunately, the church with its undersized parking lot had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built. In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the backyard.
Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had “mountain moving faith.” They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the backyard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service the following week.
At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation’s 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o’clock the pastor said the final “Amen.” “We’ll open next Sunday as scheduled,” he assured everyone. “God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time too.”
The next morning, as he was working in his study there, came a loud knock at his door. When he called “come in,” a rough looking construction foreman appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered.
“Excuse me, Reverend. I’m from Acme Construction Company over in the next county. We’re building a huge new shopping mall over there and we need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? We’ll pay you for the dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge if we can have it right away. We can’t do anything else until we get the dirt in and allow it to settle properly.”
The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with “mountain moving faith” on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week!
When Jesus said “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.” the crowds must have thought he was crazy. I doubt that they did the math, but if anyone did they would know that Mount Everest which is the highest, but not necessarily the largest mountain conservatively weighs 7 and a half trillion pounds. That’s half a ton for every man woman and child on earth.
That sounds absolutely foolish, ludicrous, impossible and just plain crazy.
Obviously, Jesus is not talking about moving literal mountains.
Let’s look at the story to see if we can gain a better understanding of what he was saying. Let’s turn to Matthew chapter 17, which is on page 18 of the New Testament in your pew Bibles.
Jesus, Peter, James, and John came down from seeing Jesus transfigured. You remember that story where Jesus glowed with radiant divine light ant mosses and Elijah appeared with him.? You’ll find it at the beginning of Chapter 17.
When they came down from that mountaintop experience Jesus is immediately hit by a man who says your disciples weren’t able to help my son, can you.?
Beginning in verse 14 23 read “When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15 and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
I don’t think he was trying to make anyone look bad, but he was going through the appeals process to try to get help for his son.
Even though I don’t think he was trying to make trouble, boy he did, didn’t he. Jesus let loose on the disciples and the crowd spewing impatience and frustration everywhere. “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.”
Can you imagine how the disciples’ heads must have hung? They must have been felt whipped by Jesus sharp words. They were probably demoralized and discouraged. Not to mention embarrassed. This happened, after all, right in front of the crowd. I would have been so embarrassed! I can take criticism, but do it one on one or in a small group. Don’t call me out in a crowd. That just crushes my spirit.
So there were the disciples with their heads dropping from the tongue lashing Jesus gave them. But they were students. They wanted to learn. So they asked, “What were we doing wrong. Teach us how to do better.”
What Jesus had to say made them go from drooping heads to dropped jaws. “Nothing will be impossible for you.” They went from “faithless and perverse” in one sentence to “Nothing will be impossible for you” in the next.
Jesus answers their question by saying, “you couldn’t do it ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.’ ”
When some people set out to change the world, they set out with armies, or political machines, or hundreds of thousands of people rallied around a common cause.
But sometimes change comes from the smallest of things. A pine nut that happens to fall in the crack of a boulder can split the boulder in half.
An apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head changed our understanding of the world.
A conviction that I should not be treated differently because of the color of my skin has certainly changed our culture for the better.
A little inspiration like maybe we can use electricity to make our lives better has transformed human life in more ways than any of the early scientists and inventors could have dreamed.
But none of that can move mountains. There is something more powerful than any of those: faith. FAITH Faith is believing that God is, trusting that God can, and relying on the fact that God will act in our lives and our world. Relying on God is not easy. To rely on God is to bet our lives that God is, God can, and God will act.
Jesus is saying that when we go beyond believing that God is, and go beyond trusting that God can, and when we get to depending on God to act - or relying on God to act - or staking our lives on God’s action… that is when mountains move, rocks split open, the inner workings of the creation are revealed, prejudice is defeated, and life is made better.
If we go beyond believing, go beyond trusting, to the point of having faith.. even just a little faith… amazing things happen. Mountains are moved and nothing is impossible.
When I think back on our time together I ask myself what mountains has God moved? What have amazing things happened? What has happened that so clearly exceeded our ability, that the only explanation is that God acted?
I think of a few of which I am most proud:
In 2007 would anyone have guessed that we would dissolve Sunday school and start LIGHT and see hundreds of children and families touched by the ministry of this church. If I had offered you a bet that there would be almost 100 people there the first night, how many of you would have thought that would be easy money? When we fully rely on God mountains are moved and nothing is impossible.
When we started Homes 4 Haiti, if I would have bet you that we could buy four of those houses, and counting this one 5 safety homes… how many of you would have thought I was off my rocker. When we fully rely on God mountains are moved and nothing is impossible.
If I would have told you that we could send 20 youth and adults on a weeklong mission trip how many of you would have laughed at me. When we fully rely on God mountains are moved and nothing is impossible..
What are some of your favorite mountain moving memories and nothing is impossible. <<<When we fully rely on God mountains are moved and nothing is impossible. >>>
Let’s look at the present. If I would have told you 6 months ago that 25% of the leadership team would be about 40 or younger what would you have said?… let me tell you When we fully rely on God mountains are moved. …mountains are being moved and nothing is impossible.
If I told you last year that we would have a children’s church and paid nursery attendant, what would you have said? We are almost there. When we fully rely on God mountains are moved. …Mountains are being moved and nothing is impossible.
Let’s look at the future. If I told you that by this time next you will see a few new young families in the church, and in 5 years you will be trying to figure out what to do with all the children… what would you say? Let me tell you when we fully rely on God mountains will be moved. …even today mountains are being moved and nothing is impossible.
I believe that betting your lives on becoming a church for all generations where young families are proud to invite their friends and the elderly are loved, respected, and cared for will move mountains. … If you bet your life on that-- whatever that means (if it means backing up our young leaders, it means a remodeling project, coffee in the sanctuary, additional staff, volunteering for something you have never tried before) if you are willing to bet everything on that vision, God is going to move mountains and nothing is impossible.
If I told you that the outreach you have started with pancake breakfasts, bluegrass festivals, GR8, the preschool building, service projects and more would turn this church around and transform this community… what would you say? I’m telling you that betting your life on continued outreach will not only bear fruit, it will move mountains. When we fully rely on God mountains are moved. And they are already moving.
I have been using a phrase Fully rely on God. Some of you may know this already.
FROG… fully rely on God.
I have cards for you to post on your refrigerator, or bathroom mirror or desk.
When we fully rely on God mountains are moved and nothing is impossible.