Read Matthew 17:14-21
Do you remember sitting in the church building on Webb Street a couple years ago for our Sunday morning worship and the kids were reading?
Do you remember five years ago when the air conditioning had kicked in and was shaking that old church building during our Wednesday night service?
Do you remember going downstairs last year for the fellowship meals?
Why is it that I can’t remember those things? Maybe it’s because they never happened. At least those things didn’t happen at the old church building for the last fifteen years or so. We have been in this building for 15 years, and then some.
We actually had a couple of services before the building was what it is today. We did a lot of service in and around this building, but for the past 15 years, this is the building that we call home.
How did we get from that little wooden church to this place? In a literal sense, you drove east to Highway 44, then turned north until you went through the traffic light. Then you were here.
You know that’s not what I am talking about. How did we get from there to here? I will give you a hint. It’s been the topic of our messages for most of 2019.
It’s faith, small as a mustard seed faith.
I won’t share the whole story, but we have a fellowship meal following this message and I would ask you to ask some of the folks who were here then about how we got here now.
There are stories of faithful tithing. There are stories of building plans and committees. There are stories of driving to Tuttle to pick up pews that we had purchased. There are stories of busting concrete or cinder block walls or in the case of Jimmie Delp, throwing a brick through the old glass windows on the front of the old grocery store. That one checked one off Jimmie’s bucket list.
There are stories of nothing but waiting.
But the story that moved us from there to here is one of faith, because the facts and stats and money just didn’t add up. We were a people who had a $30,000 budget and were going to build a million-dollar building. That’s just crazy.
Oh, by the way, the building that we wanted was way overpriced. In spite of what the circumstances of the world appeared to be—and they should have appeared as overwhelming—a small body of believers stepped out in faith. Only then did things start to happen.
The disciples couldn’t drive out a demon. They had success at other things but this one had stumped them and they wanted to know why. Maybe there was a sequence or process that they didn’t know or understand. Maybe they tried at the wrong time of day. Maybe they should have had the sun at the back like an old west gunfighter. Maybe…
But Jesus said, “How long am I going to put up with you?”
You perverse, you wicked, and twisted and unbelieving generation! There is no complex formula. There is no ritual. It all boils down to one thing, and you don’t need truckloads of it.
It all comes down to faith, just an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, no there’s no bikini coming in these lyrics. It’s just a mustard seed’s worth of faith. Just a little bit of faith takes us beyond the boundaries of the world’s limitations.
This is the defining verse from the King James Version that has taken us from early in this year until now and it is just as applicable now as when we began.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Previously we talked about the substance of things hoped for using the faith of the Son of Timaeus as an example of faith having real touch and feel.
All Bartimaeus needed to do was get to Jesus. He had no doubt that he could and would heal him. He made quite a show of calling out to him. He was bold because of his faith.
This blind beggar had faith that had substance to it. Most people have faith that is still in the conceptual realm. The son of Timaeus had faith you could wrap your hands around.
But how much of this touch and feel faith do we need? A ton? A Pound? An ounce?
Jesus said, just the smallest amount will do incredible things. Faith the size of a mustard seed will move a mountain.
I think that I have faith but I have never moved a mountain. You might think, “Well, when have you needed to move a mountain?”
After two decades in the Marine Corps, I have a long list of mountains that I would have just as soon moved as climbed up. Oh, you don’t know how I would have loved to have said, “You guys keep on humping up the mountain, I’m just moving it out of my way.”
Don’t think that this scripture didn’t come to mind a hundred times when I was marching up hill with a hundred pounds or so on my back. But I have yet to move a mountain.
But I have been right in the middle of moving a church building, or working to get a new one. Some of you are blessed to have known what it is to have a mustard seed’s worth of faith and take that next step.
You were there. Now you are here.
Several years ago, I was sitting at my desk in the Ministerial Alliance meeting and a couple other pastors were talking about mission trips. They said they would be glad to have me along any time.
I said, when the Lord calls me to go somewhere, I will know it. Two days later, I get this email from a man in Africa named Chris Luswetti asking me to come train pastors and church leaders in western Kenya.
After first making sure this wasn’t some crown prince who was in prison and only needed my credit card numbers to get him out so he could share his buried millions with me, and after some prayer, I was in the middle of preparing for my first overseas mission.
Rick Ellis soon came on board and we raised about $14,000 for our first trip and about $18,000 for our return two years later.
This was not an organized mission trip that you just signed up for and a tour guide took it from there. This was a mission in response to an email. This was a missionary effort that was built from the ground up.
I had some money that I had set aside. I knew I could preach and teach. I had organized many endeavors. I had traveled internationally many times and knew that I could get there and return. That is to say, just about everything was taken in faith. All of the nuts and bolts of this trip were by faith.
I’ve never moved a mountain, but I have responded in the affirmative to an email asking me to go to the other side of the world not having a clue what was really involved.
You have these experiences too. Perhaps yours do not take you to Africa, but you know what it is to step out in faith.
You know what it is to take the faith you have been given and take the next step.
I have shared with you a couple times words that I never want to hear from Jesus. The first words are any sentence that begins with Woe unto you… I don’t want any part of that sentence.
The next are the words, You wicked, lazy servant. Again, I don’t want to be the subject or direct object or anywhere near that statement.
I want to add one more statement to that list. This is one more thing that I don’t ever want to hear from Jesus. Oh, you of little faith!
Jesus used this phrase a couple times in the gospels, but I don’t want it in any form or fashion. I don’t want to be lumped in with this perverse and unbelieving generation. Make no mistake, this designation applies today.
What do I want to hear? Well done good and faithful servant. You have done well with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things.
How do you get to hear those words? Faith. Faith as small as a mustard seed that is put to use.
I don’t know that I will ever move a mountain, but I don’t want to spend a day on this earth without living by faith, no matter how small that measure of faith may be.
Let’s do everything that our Master—our Lord Jesus Christ—has commanded. Let’s do it without it being a burden. Let’s do it in love. And let’s do it with faith.
Faith as small as a mustard seed is enough for us to do great things in the name of the Lord.
Our challenge, individually and collectively, is to take the faith we have been given and do what our Lord is calling us to do.
I doubt it will be to move a mountain. I expect it will be something much more meaningful in the life of your family, your friends, this church body, and this community.
Let’s take the faith that we have, however small, and do the great things the Lord has called us to do!