At Gateway Church in Austin, we are hearing from authors this month in our series called Voices.
Melissa Fisher spoke about moving mountains.
Check out the NEXT STEPS to apply the message to your life. This is great material for conversations at the dinner table with your roommates, family, or with your life group.
Here is the video from the message from Melissa:
Here are the notes from the message from Melissa:
All of us have horrible moments. Those moments when you go “Uh-oh”. I am in trouble….
For me, one of my big moments of trouble happened in July of 2009 when I hit that rock bottom and a couple weeks later I walked into Gateway for the first time. The first time I sat in these seats I sat in the center section, aisle seat, a couple of rows from the back. My trouble had me walking in angry, defensive, full of shame, guilt, and pain. Some of you get those emotions cause you’ve walked in here with your own trouble. Like this immovable mountain of trouble just parked itself in the middle of your life and you don’t know how to get around it or get through it.
I walked in the doors of Gateway with a big mountain of trouble and I doubted that church was a safe place for me. I was worried that you “church people” would judge me for what I was walking in with. I just want you to know if that is you…wondering if we might kick you out because your mountain is too big or too this or that, please know you are welcome just as you are. You and your mountains are welcome here regardless of what they are.
I wasn’t sure of that one when I walked in here though. You see…I walked in with mountains most churches don’t really welcome. My big mountain? Let’s label it “Sexuality”.
Yes, I walked in having previously lived a life as straight. Then confused. Then gay. Then in a same-sex marriage. Then single. Hurting. Lost. Confused. No matter how I tried to tackle this sexuality mountain I couldn’t find peace or lasting happiness. Real joy.
In the past 8 years, I’ve seen this sexuality mountain get moved. If you want to know all the exciting details of how, I’ve written about it in my book, “The Way of Hope”.
But I know some of you here are like “great, so glad for you….Your big mountain got moved. But what about my life?” Which I am so glad you brought that up because I have a question for you….what about YOUR life? What mountain is in your life that you’d like to see God move?
What’s Your Mountain?
Take a second to name it. Maybe write it down. Text it to yourself. Whisper it out loud.
Whatever it is. A disease. Health. Loneliness. Finances. A child. Needing a healthy friend. A mountain of grief from a loved one? Your anger issue. Drinking. Sex. Drugs….
There may be a seemingly hopeless mountain is in your life but let me take you to a story in the Bible. It’s a story told three different places in scripture….by three writers in the New Testament. Their names were Matthew, Mark, and Luke. For those of you new to the Bible, all three were disciples of Jesus and they each saw this story unfold and thought it was so important that they all shared about it in their gospel writing. The story is found in Matthew 17, Mark 9:, and Luke 9:. I’m gonna pull some verses from all three so you can catch the full picture of the story.
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” Matthew 17:14-16
So, before we go any further….let’s pause and grasp this man’s situation and mountain….we learn that the mountain is his son’s health. Not only is it his son, but we learn from Luke it’s his only child. And from reading all three gospels we learn he has been suffering for years….And it’s not just seizures. But…he screams, convulses and foams at the mouth. He can’t speak. He has no body control as his issues cause him to fall into water or fire. And it’s destroying his son. Which I can only imagine is destroying him. And notice again how long that mountain has been there? YEARS….So a hurting child was the man’s mountain. What’s your mountain again?
Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
Do you notice that? Freedom? That means freedom from mountains…big or small….” But that’s not all the verse says…The Apostle Paul gives us an answer as to how to live free….
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Gal 5:1
Now some of you are thinking….well, MY mountain is different. My mountain IS TOO big. It can’t be moved. The doctor said this. Or I’ve tried that. Or my mountain is too that. It CAN’T be moved. This brings up my next point…
Turn your Can’t into a Can.
What I mean is that Jesus CAN move ANY mountain. No, this isn’t prosperity gospel preaching. I’m not gonna tell you to name it and claim it. This is reality gospel preaching. And the reality of the Christian faith is sometimes hard. God allows mountains to stay in our lives longer than we’d like. At least I know he has in mine. But one thing I’ve come to learn….He lets external mountains stay in order to move our internal ones. And I hear some of you right now saying, “you don’t get it, this mountain has shattered my heart”. And maybe that’s what your mountain is. Your broken heart. You carry a grief and a sadness that you have no idea how to handle. But Jesus does. That’s why he came. We learn this in Luke when Jesus…went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. Luke 4:16
They had in their synagogues seven readers every sabbath, the first a priest, the second a Levite, and the other five Israelites of that synagogue. He stood up to read the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21
Today as you read these words I pray that they once again are fulfilled as you hear….
That there is good news for the poor.
There is freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
Also, a binding up the brokenhearted
Comfort all who mourn
For those who grieve….A crown of beauty instead of ashes
Oil of gladness instead of mourning
Garment of Praise instead of a spirit of despair.
That’s great..….but how? Glad you asked.
Three things we can learn from our story in Matthew 17 you need to move a mountain.
Notice how the man approaches Jesus. Reread verse 16.
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. Matt 17:14
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. The Father’s “I Can’t” made way for God’s “I can.” Your “I can’t” makes way for His “I can.” Humility starts mountains moving.
#2. Do the Work.
He responds to the man in verse 17 saying….
“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Matt 17:17
Yes, Jesus’ words are a little harsh here. But notice who He is calling unbelieving and perverse…the generation. The culture and crowd. Not the man.
He simply makes a request of the man. Which is work.
The man physically goes to the disciples. Then he runs to Jesus. Then he kneels down before Jesus. Then he gets up to go get the boy. Which brings me to an important point. You see every mountain moving miracle I can think of in Scripture involved someone physically doing something when Jesus asked. But often times we just sit by our mountain. Play the victim. Feel sorry for ourselves. And when we hear or feel a nudge, we burrow in more comfortably and say, NOPE. I am staying right here.
Which sets us up for the next realm we have to do work in….Mental realm. We have thoughts. Scripture says we are to take those captive. To work on making our thoughts match God’s thoughts about himself, about us, about each other…And can you imagine this man’s thoughts that went through his head when the disciples couldn’t heal him? How many times did he have to push away the lie that this is hopeless?
And not only his thoughts…but can you imagine the emotions this man had felt? Because we are emotional beings. Emotions are meant to move too and often times they are what can keep a mountain stuck. Because we hold onto anger. We are afraid or unwilling to grieve. We believe the lie it’s not okay to feel. Or cry. We live emotionally constipated when we don’t have to. Reality is, I need to feel what I am feeling, and then Regardless of how I FEEL, I need to step into truth and let that truth drive my actions.
Now some of you are ahead of me and realize there is one more realm we haven’t talked about much. Let’s jump back into the story in Matthew 17
“…Bring the boy here to me. Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.”Matt 17:18
Can you imagine what this was like for this father and son?? One moment the mountain was there. The next moment it was gone. The mountain appeared to be physical but was caused by something spiritual. Now…some of you might be saying, “are you telling me there are angels/demons and some spiritual war thingy that you really want me to believe”. Yes, there are as Ephesians 6:12 states:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
For many of you…your mountains are there because of work that needs to be done in the spiritual realm. Now…this doesn’t mean there is a reason to freak out or get paranoid. There are two wrong camps you can be in. First…that there is no spiritual war….Well, the verse from Ephesians kinda shatters this. The other end of the spectrum is that there is a demon behind every chair. Unaware or Hyper-aware…the bible never calls us to either end. Aware and Prepared. That’s what we are called to. For those of you that realize you have some learning to do about the spiritual realm, I’ve included some resources for you to consider in the Next Steps. And know that we all have work to do in the Spiritual Realm. Even the disciples realized they had more work and learning to do, after they asked the question to Jesus of why they couldn’t drive the demon out.
“After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”He replied, “This kind can only come out by prayer.” Mark 9:28-29
Do you see where the work was to be done? In the spiritual realm. Jesus gives another reason though in
Matthew 17:19-21 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matt 17: 19-21
Why did the mountain stay stuck? Because they didn’t do the right work and had so little faith.
I don’t want this to be true of us. I want us to continue to see big mountains, little mountains, scary mountains, “not-so-sure-but-I-think-it’s-a-mountain?” moved. Because our Jesus is in the mountain moving business. Jesus isn’t bored, napping, or too busy for you. Jesus isn’t still hanging on the cross. He’s not still in the tomb. The veil has been torn. He moved the heaviest mountains of all. He moved DEATH! For those of you that have never had a relationship with Jesus, he’s inviting you to give him that mountain of sin that you walked in with. Whatever it is. There is no mountain of sin too big, bad, or nasty for him. He’s alive and STILL in the mountain moving business! The invitation is to have faith in what HE can do. And notice again how much faith do we need? A mustard seed worth.
For those of you who are hopeless, I pray that in this moment you can hear that there is hope. Jesus wants you to know He is for you and there isn’t any mountain too big that today He can’t start to do something about.
And if there feels like there is more unbelief than belief..know that is okay. You are not alone. In the account of Mark we see this important exchange occur between Jesus and the father before his son is healed….
“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” ‘If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”Mark 9:22-24