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Moving Mountains

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September 10, 2017

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Matthew 17:14–19 ESV
And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
Mt 17:14-
The disciples in this moment were being faced with a task that they just couldn’t seem to accomplish.
This inadequacy was looming in front of them like Mount Arbel on the sea of Galilee.
I want to start this morning by asking you...

What are the mountains in your life?

Trials, Hardships, Pains, Temptations, Struggles,
We all have some type of mountains in our lives.
Even Jesus had these moments in his life.
The reasons I call these mountains is because when we are looking at them, they often feel extremely big and we feel extremely small.
These things could crush us, but for some reason, we are all called to face them in our lives.
Ask yourself; what are the things in my life that seem impossible for me to conquer?

We all have a plan for how we will conquer these mountains.

I believe that there are three typical responses for facing a mountain in our life.
Two of these postures are sinful; one of them is the very posture of Jesus.
What is my plan for facing this mountain?

Posture One: Fear

One instance that I always remember from the Bible is the exchange in which Moses is called to face potentially the biggest mountain of his life; leading the nation of Israel out of Egypt.
Moses responds to God’s calling with fear of inadequacy.

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Exodus 3:11 ESV
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Evangelical Commentary on the Bible E. Moses’ Call (3:1–4:17)

God informs Moses that he will represent Israel’s cause before Pharaoh. Moses’ objections are twofold (v. 11): Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Who am I that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt? Knowing that the previous king had sought his life makes Moses fearful about returning to the Egyptian court. But his upbringing and court training make him the ideal candidate for this assignment.

God informs Moses that he will represent Israel’s cause before Pharaoh. Moses’ objections are twofold (v. 11): Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Who am I that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt? Knowing that the previous king had sought his life makes Moses fearful about returning to the Egyptian court. But his upbringing and court training make him the ideal candidate for this assignment.

12 He said, “But I will be with you

Hoffmeier, J. K. (1995). Exodus. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, p. 43). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
There was a reason that God had chosen this mountain for Moses, but Moses was still extremely scared of his inadequacy.
God gives Moses a reason to not worry. He establishes that when He has placed a mountain in your life, there is no reason to fear.
Exodus 3:12 ESV
He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
Exodus 3:12 ESV
He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
The hebrew is
“hyh im atta”
Can you imagine the comfort in knowing that no matter what you are facing God is with you?
This reassurance is not only found in the Old Testament though.
We see this same type of comment from the New Testament.
Jesus even told the disciples that he would always be with them.
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20 ESV
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Because of the things that God has told us in the past, we can be confident that He will be with us in our present and future.

Posture Two: Pride

As I was studying for this second posture that I have perceived I came across something very interesting.
Typically in the Gospels we will see some of the same accounts, but often with a little variation. But in one case, there are two accounts that are recorded almost exactly the same. and Luke 20
Mark 12:38–40 ESV
And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Luke 20:45–47 ESV
And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
It is very clear that because the accounts line up so well, this was a big moment in Jesus’ ministry.
It is very clear that because the accounts line up so well, this was a big moment in Jesus’ ministry.
So, what is happening here?
Jesus had just finished answering a question asked by the scribes.
What is the greatest commandment?
Jesus answers “love God and love others.”
Then Jesus goes on the offensive.
Was Jesus condemning the devotion to God that the scribes had?
What was he condemning?
He was condemning their pride.
While they had a devotion to God, they also had a devotion to their own reputation.
WE HAVE THIS SAME EXACT PROBLEMS SOME TIMES.
Often when facing a mountain we will rely on ourselves to move it.
We must realize that no matter how strong both mentally and physically we are, sometimes we cannot deal with the mountains we face.
Our pride inevitably leads us into what the book of Proverbs describes as the fall.
Proverbs 16:18 ESV
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18 ESV
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 1
“Shouting at the mountains”
Eventually you’ll run out breathe
“Gossiping about the mountains”
Eventually, you’ll run out of people to tell
“Digging away at the mountains”
Eventually you’ll start to get tired
“Hiking up the mountain”
Good luck climbing Everest all by yourself.
Why are we so quick to fight our battles on our own?

Begin with silence and prayer (5 minutes)

Gather together as a community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Say a quick prayer to invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together. Then spend a few minutes in silence. Why silence? Because we live in a busy, noisy world, under a non-stop assault of distraction. In the midst of all the chaos, it’s hard at times to hear the voice of God, and that of our brothers and sisters. As we gather together as a family, we want to hear what the Father is saying to and through each of us, and respond in turn. A great way to do that is to begin each time with silence and prayer.

Debrief last week’s practice in small groups (10–15 minutes)

If you are in a community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender). Spend a few minutes catching up on life...
Then talk about the following debrief questions from last week’s practice:
Did you listen to the podcast? What did you think?Is sabbath already a part of your life, or no?Does the idea of practicing sabbath sound good, bad, “legalistic,” freeing?

Open to the Bible together (10 minutes)

Have somebody read Genesis 2v1–3
Talk about the following questions:
Is the idea of a sabbath new to you? Part of your upbringing? Background? Practice?Did you grow up with any kind of a bias against the sabbath?Notice that the sabbath takes place in Genesis, long before the “Law.” What does that say about God’s original intention for a day of rest and worship?God works and rests. What are the implications of that for people made in his image?

Talk about the coming week’s practice as a community (10–30 minutes)

Here’s the practice for the coming week:
• Mark out a 24 hour time period (or as close as you can) to rest and worship
• Pick a ritual to clearly begin and end your sabbath.
• Ideas to begin:
Light two candles (symbolic for the two commands to “remember” and “observe” the sabbath.Pour a glass of wine (or grape juice for the kids, or the straight edge)Read a Psalm or say a liturgyPray: ask the Holy Spirit bring a spirit of rest over your life and lead and guide you through the next 24 hoursShare a meal with your family or friendsGo around the table and do “highlight of the week”
• Ideas to end:
Take a prayer walkRead a PsalmThank God for the last 24 hoursExtinguish the candles of sabbathShare a meal
• Spend an entire day in rest and worship: fill your day with activities that are life-giving - eating, drinking, reading the Bible or a good book, making love to your spouse, playing games with your kids, time with family and friends, a walk to the park, napping, prayer, singing, etc.

Discussion questions for the coming week:

1. What day of the week will you Sabbath? Ideas:
Friday night to Saturday afternoon, starting and ending twenty minutes before Sundown. This is the traditional Jewish Sabbath.All day Saturday or Sunday.Saturday night through Sunday afternoon, ending with church at Bridgetown.
2. Will your Sabbath start the night before or in the morning? (We recommend the night before)
3. What needs to change in our normal, weekly routine to make sabbath happen?
4. What activities will be restful and worshipful for you?

Posture Three: Prayer

The final posture that I see in the Bible of facing a mountain in our life is the exact same as Jesus when He is about to face the cross.
In the final part of his life Jesus shares a meal with his disciples and then he does something that we are probably all familiar with...
Matthew 26:36 ESV
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”
Mt 26:3
Jesus is facing certain death and the first this he does is spend time with Father and to align to his will.
Jesus tells the Father that if there was another way to conquer this mountain (other than death) he would take that option.
But then, thinking of his love for us and for the Father, he submits to his will and prepares to go to calvary.
For Jesus, the act of prayer was the only way to accomplish this task that he was faced with.
Jesus’ anxiety drives him to prayer.
The prospect of the cup (cf. 20:22–23) and abandonment by the Father (27:46) explains Jesus’ agony. Far from meekly resigning himself to the inevitable, God the Son pleads with God the Father to alter his plan. Yet the Son does not pit his will against the Father’s. By an act of his will he submits to the Father. The submitting (v. 39b) does not substitute for, but results from, the striving (v. 39a).
The prospect of the cup (cf. 20:22–23) and abandonment by the Father (27:46) explains Jesus’ agony. Far from meekly resigning himself to the inevitable, God the Son pleads with God the Father to alter his plan. Yet the Son does not pit his will against the Father’s. By an act of his will he submits to the Father. The submitting (v. 39b) does not substitute for, but results from, the striving (v. 39a).
Chamblin, J. K. (1995). Matthew. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, p. 756). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Chamblin, J. K. (1995). Matthew. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, p. 756). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House
One commentary states...
Evangelical Commentary on the Bible A. Preparation for the Passion (26:1–46)

Jesus’ anxiety drives him to prayer.

The prospect of the cup (cf. 20:22–23) and abandonment by the Father (27:46) explains Jesus’ agony. Far from meekly resigning himself to the inevitable, God the Son pleads with God the Father to alter his plan. Yet the Son does not pit his will against the Father’s. By an act of his will he submits to the Father. The submitting (v. 39b) does not substitute for, but results from, the striving (v. 39a).

You see, Jesus wasn’t relying on himself, but he also wasn’t backing down.
He knew that the only way to accomplish the task at hand was with the empowering of the Father, and He finds that in His time of prayer!
He asks the Father if there is another way, but there wasn’t. So he stood up, and walked the road to calvary knowing that through this, God was accomplishing something amazing.
When we come back to the story of the disciples and their inability to heal the boy, Jesus gives a clear cut reason that they couldn’t do it.
Matthew 17:20–21 ESV
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Mtt 17:20-21
Our ability to conquer the mountains is found only in our ability to trust the power of God over the things in our lives.
When Jesus prayed before the crucifixion he was facing a mountain much bigger than most of us will ever know. And because of His faith in the Father, this prayer fueled Him for what he was called to accomplish.
Jesus in his moment of need looked at His mountain and embraced a new posture.
Kneel
This posture is the only one that will get us through the day to day trials that have the power to crush us.
When faced with a mountain we must pray to the Creator of the mountains.
Why is the posture of prayer often times viewed as our last resort?
How can we embrace this posture and the first line of defense when life gets rough?
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