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Move the Mountain Banquet

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A 4-year-old was in church when the wine and wafers were passed out. His mother leaned over and told him that he was not old enough to partake in Communion.

Later, when the collection plate came by, his mother again leaned over and tried to coax a nickel out of his clenched fist. He held firm and shouted, "If I can't eat, I won't pay."

submitted by J. R. Love, Rushton, Louisiana (preachingtoday.com)

Some of you are worried tonight that we’ve brought you here to eat and we’re going to ask you to pay!  You need not worry about that this evening. Tonight we’re going to celebrate our new facility and learn about a new stewardship emphasis. But before we do that, let’s pray…

As I stand before you tonight in this new building, I am reminded of an illustration that explains why we’re here. Perhaps you remember the illustration of the tanning bed and the light house.

Tanning beds exist solely for the benefit of the person desiring a healthy glow, and the light is focused inward so as to satisfy vanity.

Lighthouses exist for one purpose and one purpose only: to save others from perishing. Light is focused outward into the black of night with the hope that someone, anyone, will be saved. A lighthouse is also haven for those who have crashed upon the rocks.

Some churches – even some Christians individually – can be categorized as being like a lighthouse or a tanning bed. Lighthouse churches know why they exist. They will do whatever it takes, within the parameters of biblical principles, to “shine” the light of Christ out into the darkness of this world. Whatever the cost, whatever time it takes, whatever sacrifices are necessary, whatever agendas must be put aside, whatever risks must be taken, the light must shine! Eternal destinies depend upon it.

Tanning bed churches exist for themselves. They want bask in the light of blessings of Christ but never consider for a moment that Jesus has called them to sacrifice, to seek the lost, to spare no expense or resource in building up the Kingdom.

 

What a blessing to be a LIGHTHOUSE church and NOT a church like that of Laodicea! We have made sacrifices; we have endured inconveniences; we have taken chances; we have put our agendas aside to become the kind of church God wants us to be.

To understand where we are today it would do us well to take a look back at the past…

I.                    A look back

A.      Adding another service

I can still remember the Sunday morning I mounted the pulpit and realized we had to do something. A family of five could not have sat together. We began the process of adding another service, though it was hard for some and new territory for us all, Cedar Hill Baptist did the right thing and added an early service.

The early service is starting to look like it did back then!

 

B.      Hosting special events

1.)     Our first Easter Celebration

2.)     Our first Hallelujah Harvest

3.)     Our first Christmas presentation

 

C.      Expanding our ministries

1.)     GROW

2.)     Sunday School

Our avg in 1997 was 112; to date it’s 204.

3.)     Men’s Ministry

4.)     Women’s Ministry

5.)     Children’s ministry

 

As we look back it’s clear why we were led to expand our facilities: we had to match the work God was doing in expanding our ministries! Now let’s take a look around…

 

II.                  A look around

What you see is an expansion of the lighthouse, an incredible tool for ministry.

It’s also the result of much prayer and contemplation.  Remember how all this started? God worked in hearts and changed our plans from a sanctuary to a multi-purpose facility.

This 16,000 sq. ft. facility is…

 

A.      What we built

1.)     A gym

2.)     A fellowship hall

3.)     A sanctuary

4.)     Additional Sunday School space

5.)     New office and study space

 

Our building committee did a wonderful job of designing a family life center that will meet our needs for years to come. But of course, this wasn’t free. I wish it were, but it’s not. It costs a lot of money to build a shed these days, let a lone what you see before you tonight. Folks, sometimes its expensive to keep up with God. Well, here’s what is costs us to be here enjoying our new family life center tonight…

B.      What it cost: $1.765 million dollars

Now I know some of you need to catch your breath, in fact it looks like some of you need some oxygen tonight! Yes, that’s much, much more than we anticipated four years ago. There are three big reasons why…

 

1.)     Spike in steel prices

2.)     Costs associated with preparing foundation

3.)     Change in law requiring a very expensive sprinkler/fire alarm system

 

Let’s put this into perspective. Let’s say an avg. home costs $150,000 in Robertson county. The cost of our building equals to a little over eleven homes. In other words, what we’ve built to minister to the entire community is the equivalent to what less than a dozen families would invest in their homes, and we are a church of about 150 active families.

 

Thankfully, we don’t owe the total cost because of our Vision to Grow campaign. This three year campaign which ended in December of last year took $410,000 off the final cost. Thank you so much to all who contributed. Because of your faithfulness, we owe…

 

C.      What we owe: $1.265 million dollars

Fortunately, we were able to receive financing through a local bank. Our monthly payment on a thirty-year note will be approximately $8,800.

No matter how you look at it, that’s still a lot of money. And coming up with the needed funds each month to make our payment requires a…

 

III.               A step of faith

We just finished a study on Sunday nights called Experiencing God. How providential it was! In that study Henry Blackaby tells the following story…

Listen again to what he said: “Anytime God leads you to do something that has God-sized dimensions, you will face a crisis of belief. When you face a crisis of belief, what you do next reveals what you really believe about God.”

From the time we split into two services, and had our first Easter Celebration, and hosted our first H Harvest, and so on, we’ve seen this principle played out.

This is the biggest test of it so far in the history of CHBC. For a church our size to build and pay off such a building is a God-sized task. You might even say the God-sized prospect before us is a mountain.

 

You know, Jesus had something to say about mountains…

 

IV.                Move the Mountain

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt… even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.” Matthew 21:21 (NASB95)

Jesus was speaking to His disciples and he wanted to teach them a lesson on faith. The focus is on God and the key element is having faith in Him. The real answer to the question of how we’re going to pay for our new FLC is that God is.

God has the power to lift any mountain right out of the ground and cast it into the sea, but what if he decided to give you a shovel and the strength to move the mountain one scoop at a time? Would it be any less a work of God? Of course not.

This verse is the theme of our new stewardship emphasis, and the shovel is the symbol of it. We are facing a mountain with dollar signs in front it, and God is going to pay off every bit of this building, and he’s going to do it through every one of us one shovel at a time.

 

What is a stewardship emphasis? It’s when God’s people in a local fellowship of believers come together to support the kingdom work with financial resources. It can be a regular stewardship emphasis where the focus is the bread and butter ministries of the church. Or it can be a special emphasis calling upon a fellowship to support some particular ministry or project.

 

Dwight L. Moody understood the place of money in the kingdom of God, and he wasn’t timid about expressing it, either. He had gone to a certain Mr. Farwell time and time again and was finally back for another ten-thousand-dollar contribution.

Mr. Farwell said, “Mr. Moody, must you always be coming to me for money?” Moody replied, “Mr. Farwell, you grew up on a farm, just as I did. Did you ever take a pail to a dry cow?”[1] I don’t know if we have any dry cows but I’m thankful we are a church that understands that financial resources and what we do with them is a very spiritual and worshipful thing. And I am glad that I don’t have to worry about folks running off tonight like a chicken with it’s head cut off because we talked about money.

The Biblical basis for a stewardship emphasis is found in the book of Exodus…

 

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. “This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece. “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. “According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. Exodus 25:1-9 (NASB95)

 

Note that God said the contribution was for those whose heart moved them. In other words, it was a freewill and voluntary offering from the heart. That’s an important aspect of Move the Mountain. It’s not about how much you give; it’s about how much you put into determining what the Lord might have you give. We are asking for equal sacrifice, not equal gifts. And our prayer is that we’ll raise up people before we raise any funds.

 

As we draw tonight’s fellowship to a close I am going to ask you to open the packets at your tables and pull out what’s inside. These materials explain what our Move the Mountain emphasis is all about. The first thing you’ll notice is…

A.      Newsletter

This explains much of what we talked about tonight and some we didn’t have time for. Read it from cover to cover.

The next thing you’ll see is the…

B.      Commitment card

Let’s stop here a minute and talk about the importance of this little card and what it represents. First of all let me comment on why it’s important to record what the Lord may lead you to give.

No one has to fill out anything to support this emphasis, but when you do it helps you and the church. It helps you by making your commitment more tangible. And it helps the church in that the finance committee can plan and make adjustments for the future. You can be rest assured your commitments will be kept in the strictest of confidence. The only person who’ll see them is the church treasurer.

Let’s look at it together. There are three ways to make a commitment to our Move the Mountain emphasis…

 

1. Make a one time gift.

Some may feel led to contribute this way, or even to do this in addition to the other options.

Charles Spurgeon, the great English preacher, was once invited by a wealthy man to come to preach in a certain country church, to help the membership raise funds to pay off a debt. The man told Spurgeon he was free to use his country house, his town house, or his seaside home. Spurgeon wrote back and said, “Sell one of the places and pay the debt yourself.”[2]

I don’t know if anyone here has a seaside home, but if you would like to sell it and give to Jesus through the local church, we’d be delighted.

The second option is…

2. Commit to giving over the next three years.

This one is important and I’ll show you why. We know short of a tremendous working of God we won’t take up enough to pay off our debt in this campaign. Some of you may be thinking committing to give over your regular tithes and offerings on a weekly or monthly basis doesn’t seem like much, but put together with other like commitments, it really adds up. Look at this…

 

We have approx. 150 families in our church. If you divide that into our monthly payment, it would take only $58 per family per month to make our payment! If every family were able to sacrifice $100 per month, we’d be able to pay almost double our payment and pay this off much earlier than planed, which would save us interest and be good stewardship.

150 x $58.67 = $8,800

150 x $100 = $15,000

Some may not be able to give anywhere near $58 and some may be able to sacrifice much more than $100 per month, either way, when you add each contribution up, it really makes a difference.

If we could get enough commitments above and beyond regular tithes and offerings to make our monthly payment (and hopefully some extra), the finance committee will be able to leave our regular budget for the ongoing ministries of the church.

The third option is…

3. Pray. This is so critical. If all you are able to do is pray, then you have made a major contribution to our Move the Mountain emphasis. At least perhaps everyone will be able to check this one.

Your prayers throughout the emphasis are deeply coveted.

You have 15 days to seek God’s will for your life and decide what to put on this card. Put it in your Bible and keep it handy for May 6.

 

Look for a bunch of sheets of paper stapled together. That’s our…

 

C.      Devotional

Staring tonight, use this to prayerfully seek in what way the Lord will lead you to give to the emphasis.

 

D.      Envelope

Now this is the littlest piece in your packets, but it has the biggest potential of all the other things put together. Note that it has the shovel image on it. Every time you put a gift in this envelope, you are helping to take down the mountain one shovel at a time.

A well-known philanthropist was asked, “How is it that you give away so much, and yet have so much left.”

“I suppose it’s like this,” he replied. “I shovel out, and God shovels in, and he has a bigger shovel than I do!”[3]

These will be available for everyone throughout the campaign.

Conclusion: As our service ends tonight, I want you to begin asking God in what way He might use you to move this mountain. And then be ready on Sunday morning, May 6, to offer your commitments to the Lord. I’ll preach a special message on three men who moved mountains by God through faith. At the end of the service you can place your cards in special boxes at the altar or in the foyers.

Will you join me in moving this mountain before us in faith? We have always been and I believe will always be a lighthouse church. And as a lighthouse church I know we’ll come together and do our part.

Jesus said…

 

“Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt… even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.” Matthew 21:21 (NASB95)

Thank you, church, for being the best fellowship in Robertson County. Thank you for your faith and faithfulness in the kingdom work. And thank you ahead time of the sacrifices that will go into moving the mountain.

 

 


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[1]Michael P. Green, Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively, Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989).

[2]Michael P. Green, Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively, Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989).

[3]Michael P. Green, Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively, Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989).

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