Before we stand and speak...

(A better title for this week's message would be: "Have Faith in God".)

Many of you know that my family and I are facing a mountain of difficulties right now: being "homeless" in the aftermath of the tree that fell on our house for six weeks and counting; having serious back issues and then surgery; and dealing with several other issues. It's easy to be overwhelmed when we come up against such a mountain of discouragement, deception or despair. The shadow of this mountain tends to block our light of hope and peace. Instead of having faith in God, we try to work out man-made solutions. In the process, we lose sense of who we are in Christ and the authority we have as His. We might become hopeless or "religious", both of which lead to our undoing. In this week's message, we find our way back to the source for the victory and peace that is rightfully ours.

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Baptizing Eliza Raper this morning

 

10:35 - Offering is an act of worship. Not an obligation. We’re saying, “God, we trust you with everything. And we give out of the cheerfulness of our heart. You are willing to give it all.” So never give out of a feeling of responsibility, but as an act of worship to our Lord.

 

Title: “Before I Stand And Speak”

 

As we wait on the Lord to hear what he has for us today, I’d like to pray for us again. Earlier today, the Lord spoke to me.

 

Prayer - Lord, we love you. And God, oh God, look at my heart and help me look at my own heart. I truly want my words to match up with my heart. I pray that for each of us that our words would match up. I pray we’d be like little children in awe of your Word. Knowing that the God of all creation, king of kings is with me, communing, speaking to me.

May all spoken be inspired by you. May your word go forth and pierce hearts and transform lives.

We pray your kingdom would be established and your will be done. Convict of sin, righteousness, truth.

 

A familiar passage, but God has challenged my heart. I’m going to be honest with you, this message came out of my personal quiet time with the Lord, speaking to me about some challenges in my life. As I struggle to apply these to me, he said that this isn’t just for me but for you as well. So I pray your hearts will be stirred. 

I believe that the more I yield to the truths of this message, God’ll do miraculous things. I think that’ll be true for you.

 

There’s going to be a question at the end of this message that all of us will have to wrestle with. This is a message where Jesus calls us out. He does that a lot because he loves us and wants us to grab ahold of and wrestle with some things that prevent us from experiencing the fullness of Christ, and allow us to be transformed into his image.

 

Mark 11:20ff (ESV) -  20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.

 21* And Peter remembered and said to him, ‘‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.’’

 22 And Jesus answered them, ‘‘Have faith in God.

 

Jesus always speaks only truth. But to make his point emphatic, he really highlights this and makes us pay attention:

 

 23* Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

 

“to you” - to each one of us. I need you to hear and internalize this.

 

 24* Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

 

That statement should have some of you feeling really uncomfortable. A place where we say, “I can’t hear this. Because this means there must be a problem.”

 

 25* And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.’’

 26

 27* ¶ And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him,

 

all the top religious leaders

 

 28* and they said to him, ‘‘By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?’’

 29* Jesus said to them, ‘‘I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.

 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.’’

 31* And they discussed it with one another, saying, ‘‘If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’

 32* But shall we say, ‘From man’?’’--they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet.

 33* So they answered Jesus, ‘‘We do not know.’’And Jesus said to them, ‘‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’’

 

There are a couple of challenging things in this passage.

 

v20-21 - Remember that they all had been with Jesus when he was going into the temple earlier, looking for fruit from the tree, but cursed the tree. As he goes into the temple he’s outraged that the leaders had turned the temple into a den of thieves, where they’re cheating people. He’s furious with righteous anger. He overturns the money tables. “This is supposed to be a place where you commune with God. But you’ve made a mockery of what this place represents.” And this is correlated with the fig tree.

 

Jesus takes care of business and no one messes with Jesus. He speaks with authority.

 

All of them saw Jesus curse the tree. Only 1 takes notice: Peter. “Lord, I remember that you cursed this tree and now it’s withered and died.

 

Jesus: “Have faith in God.”

 

Even though all the disciples had been following, only one recognized the activity of God and that Jesus was at work and spoke with authority.

 

It’s not enough just to follow Jesus. All the disciples were, but they were missing it. As you follow, keep your eyes open and recognize God’s at work around you and be wiling to call out what God’s doing. Speak “God is at work.”

Once we recognize this, we must have faith in God.

 

Jesus addresses Peter and all the disciples with “Have faith in God.” “Listen, I need all of you to understand. You need to walk in faith. Have true faith in God, who alone is God.” He’s creator of all the universe. He spoke and the world was created: stars, sun, moon, separating water and land. God speaks and life happens.

Have faith in God.

 

During my own quiet time, I had to stop right there. I was going through some things. A tree fell on our house. Living in a hotel 6 weeks. Injured my back. Feeling frustrated. In despair about some things. And of course the enemy loves it. He’s “carpe diem” all the way. As soon as he sees you weary, he jumps on the opportunity and wreaks havoc. “I’m bringing as much despair, self-centeredness and destruction into your life.”

As the enemy saw the things happening in my life, he threw it at me. And I was feeling despair. But as I was sitting in my quiet time, God spoke: “Have faith in God., the creator of all.”

As I started to think, I remembered and realized again that God’s not only my creator, he’s my heavenly father. He’s capable, willing, and does love me way more than I can love myself.

Suddenly I had an overwhelming sense of the presence of the Father and His love.

Jesus loves to put us in that place.

“Michael, truly I say to you, ‘whoever says to this mountain…and doesn’t doubt…it will come to pass. It will be done for him.”

The Lord asked me, “M, how are you responding to these mountainous situations? Are you allowing them to overcome you?”

Peter saw that God was at work. He needed to go farther. Follow. See. Understand. As a child of God, if you speak to the mountain, it’ll be done.

The mountain he was talking about was the hill where the Herodian fortress was. Interesting that there was a mountain next to that one. But Herod, because he wanted to make it a fortified place, had the other mountain removed. 

How was he able to do this? He had the backing of Rome. He spoke and the mountain was removed. And Jesus was saying “You can do even greater.” You’re with the true king. K of K and L of L.

 

What resources do you have?

1. The undivided great love of the Lord and God the Father. You’ve been adopted into the Kingdom of God. As a child of God, the Holy Spirit has sealed your heart. You stand in authority as a child of God. You have the Fathers love and care.

Recognizing this, when the mountainous situation occurs, you can speak and have it tossed into the sea. Herod had no problem recognizing this.

A lot of us say Amen to this, but a lot of us are challenged in walking it out.

The challenge is the three letter word BUT. It’s a big but. “But what if…” what if I speak into this and nothing happens. As soon as I know I need to speak into this, a but comes.

Jesus calls it a test of true faith. To speak and not doubt in your heart. NOT doubt BUT believe that it will come to pass. We have to decide whether Jesus is liar or Truth.

 

 24* Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

 

We have to catch a hold of this. He says that if we address the situation in prayer. Here’s what happens. In the flesh we see a mountain and we say, “I see it. I need to speak to it.” But then something happens. You decide you’ll take it one step further. You say, “Jesus says, ‘as you ask in prayer…’” Prayer is more than just speaking. It’s waiting on God. So as you come before God and begin to wait on him and listen. HEre’s where you faith comes in once again. As you wait, you’re expecting God to speak. To speak into your situation.

And God speaks to you, the mountain isn’t what you see. Eg., you’re struggling in your relationship with your spouse. And you’re praying, “God, I pray you’ll move the problem with my spouse.” As you pray on it, the Lrod reveals that the mountain isn’t your spouse, but the communication between yo and your spouse. So as you begin to look at it, you speak that the dividing wall…anger, bitterness that we’re harboring to each other. The sense of self-defense and aggression we have toward each other.” I pray that this will be lifted up s that clarity will come.

The mountain wasn’t what you thought it was but was something else.

 

So, we must speak God in prayer first of all .Allow him to speak to us.

 

Now that mountain MAY BE that it’s a physical mountain. A real true mountain. “God this is going to take a maricale.” And God said, “I invented that word. I am the miraculous. Have faith in me.”

 

It’s not enough just to follow him. just to recognize his activity. We must have faith in him and who he is. We have to come to grips with that. With who he is. As we seek him in prayer, and as he reveals what the mountain really is, we can speak to the situation and the mountain will be removed.

 

Whenever you stand praying, forgive, so that the Father can forgive your trespasses.

 

You can say, “I hear him speaking bot something’s not right.” He says “the reasons there’s a blockage is because you’re full of bitterness or angst. Get rid of that so you can hear from me and trust in who I am. As you look at the mountain, you can speak and it’ll be removed.”

 

 27* ¶ And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him,

 28* and they said to him, ‘‘By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?’’

 

There’s another group of people. Not the disciples but another crowd. Steeped in religion. When it comes t the supernatural. When it comes to trusting Jesus beyond what I can control and manage, they had a dilemma. There was such a man-made institution of religion. They had humanism cloaked in spirituality. It’s about doing the right things. That make you look pious, spiritual. So when it came to true issues of stepping out in faith, that’s where this ‘spirituality’ stops.

You’ll give. You’ll come to the Bible studies, prayer meetings. No problem with that. You’ll serve in the community. No prob with that. You’ll do wonderful ‘spiritual’ things, but then when it comes to trusting a supernatural God, we have a problem.

That’s exactly what the scribes, priests, elders faced. They had a problem recognizing Jesus as the supernatural son of God.

because we see through eyes of flesh and not of faith, we have trouble seeing God as the supernatural God.

A religious person has to have religion on his own terms. We have to be able to comprehend everything. If our eyes can’t see it, we can’t believe it. It has to fit in our box of understanding.

 

The religious crowd—God’ll pierce your heart and mess with your stuff. He says “I want to work in your situation.” And the Spirit of God speaks to you and says ‘respond’. The religious crowd says, “That’s beyond my comfort zone. Beneath my dignity. I can’t respond to that. I have to take into consideration the people around me.”

That’s what the elders did. They asked him a question, and when he asked them a question, they refused because they were concerned with what the people would think.

Jesus wasn’t even looking for a RIGHT answer, he was just looking for an answer. But they were unable to answer because they were concerned what others think. So they missed out on what God was wanting to reveal to them.

 

One of the biggest problems we have is our dignity. If I respond broken. If I trust you as a supernatural God…. But what if… “What if I walk in this and people see me walking in this and nothing happens? God, I can’t do it. I can’t trust you in this. I can’t walk in this. I just can’t.”

And then we miss out on God.

 

The quandary is here. They wanted the godliness but they wanted it in their own humanistic ways. And those ways were hindering them from walking in true godliness. So when it comes to the question, “do you truly have faith? speak into the situation and stand.”

If that came to you, would you do it? I truly believe that because God’s a gracious God, he wouldn’t allow you to remain comfortable. He says, “I don’t need pious religion. I need disciples who see me at work and wrestle with the struggles.” He’ll bring mountains before us and challenge us with “Do you believe in me?”

That’s true believers.

There are 100 different ways to build churches. Door prizes even. Bells and whistles and pomp. Marketing strategy. But it’s not about that. It’s about us being true disciples, wrestling with faith. And at the end of the day being broken before God saying, ‘i believe. I have faith in you.’

 

The Lord may be speaking to some of you right now. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is thinking. You can let God speak to you and just sit. Or you can come to the steps. Or you can speak to a prayer partner. But let’s just respond. As we respond, hear what God wants to do.

 

Let’s stand.

 

Following God isn’t easy. Those who follow God are constantly being challenged. The struggle is worth it. Let’s respond as the Lord leads.

 

If you don’t know Jesus, I invite you to come forward and I’ll introduce you to a relationship with the Lord Jesus.

 

Cydney joining the church

Bella being baptized

 

Karen Smith asking us to pray for Ned Hughes and being in the hospital for many weeks. I know what it’s like to be weary and watch your husband suffer. I want our body to pray for him today. [Prays for Ned.] Sometimes we don’t see Your picture. But I have faith to see you at work. And I pray Betty would see you at work and feel strengthened with a peace that passes all understanding.

And as Ned said, “Soak in God’s truth today.” I pray you bring healing to his body. God you have the power to put it back together and work the way it’s supposed to. We’re asking for a miracle. And while we wait, help us trust you and be persistent in prayer. To love you and know you see, understand, and have command.

 

11:39