The Mountain and the Valley

Bible Book: Matthew  17 : 1-20
Subject: Ministry; Power; Service; Victory; Missions
Introduction

Today we are one week from our World Missions Conference at The Church That Loves. Next week we will have missionaries from around the world here in our church, as well as those who serve near us. The question we face as servants of the Lord concerns where we get the power and wisdom to confront the evil one and to help those who he has wounded. I want us to get ready for this conference by considering a wonderful and beautiful incident in the life of our Lord and His disciples.

We live in a world with deep problems. These problems affect our lives, our families and our community. There is little question that the lack of moral standards and the lack of power to uphold what little standards most people have are corrupting our society at an alarming rate. Middle School girls are getting pregnant, kids are killing kids, and sadly they are doing these things because they are following the examples of adults - adults who used to be seen as role models in society. When we see the desperate times in which we live, we can complain, decry the situation or perhaps throw up our hands in desperation; or, we could find an answer - the only answer. Is there hope for our society? Is there an answer to the rampant breakdown or moral decency? Is there a way for marriages to be mastered, for corruption to be conquered, for people like us to make a difference in an indifferent world?

The answer to these questions is Yes! There is a way, but we must understand that it is God’s way. We must get a new understanding of the need for God’s power to enable us to do what we cannot do ourselves. If we would impact our society for God, we must have God’s help! However, an emphasis on missions without an understanding of the motivation for it will fizzle and cause us to fumble our opportunity. The truth is, missions cannot be done without the power of God and the power of God is not available outside the presence of God. True and effective missions proceed from the throne of God through believers to the world. This means that we cannot do missions properly until we are in a right position with our Lord. If we would see our world changed, it will be because we go at it God’s way.

Let me further say that no person in right relationship to the Lord will delay in doing missions. When we are near the Lord, His heartbeat becomes our heartbeat; His passions become our passions; His love for a lost, hurting world becomes our love for a lost and hurting world.

No Christian would deny that there is a need for a great revival in the Church of our Lord. The world around us cannot be changed without power from above. We cannot resist the evil one without the power of the Sovereign One. Our homes cannot be saved without the Bridegroom from heaven breathing a fresh breath of morality and love into our families. We need and we must plead for a fresh touch of God on His people. We cannot worship Him properly or work for Him powerfully without a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church!

In short, what the Church needs, what we need individually, is a heaven sent revival. We need a sin-killing, hell-defying, Christ-exalting, soul-saving, heaven-sent revival. We don’t need a new work to do; we need an old-fashioned, Holy Spirit infilling to come to the people of God.

When this happens, it will restore a proper balance to God’s people: a balance of morality and mission. This balance has a dual dimension. First, there is the Spiritual Dimension. Secondly, there is the Service Dimension. There is an Upward Life and an Outward Life. Every real revival or spiritual awakening that has taken place in Christian history has revealed these two characteristics. One equates with faith and the other with works. One without the other corrupts true Christianity. Faith without works is hypocritical, works without faith is Pharisaical.

As we enter into a time of emphasis on missions, I want us to see the proper balance between our worship of the Lord and our works for the Lord. When the two segments of the Christian life are viewed and acted on properly, you have true revival - a genuine spiritual awakening. Four elements are present when a true spiritual awakening occurs:

· Devotion to the Lord

· Joy in the Lord

· Enthusiasm for the Lord

· Service with the Lord.

These four result in a quartet of experiences:

· Purity

· Praise

· Passion

· Performance

A Christian who is truly revived will abhor sin, bubble over with joy unspeakable and full of glory, have a fire for the cause of the Lord and will go forth to serve in His name and in His power!.

We see the real-life dramatization of this truth in a dual experience in the life of Christ found in Matthew 17. Turn with me to this passage and note the experiences which took place: one on the mountain top and the other in the valley. One without the other is an aberration.

I. The Mountain Top Experience 17:1-8

Let's  begin by looking at the upward experience, or what we might call the Mountain-Top Experience with the Lord, for you cannot work in the valley till you have the power from the mountain. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” So let's visit the mountain top with the Lord.

In the passage before us, we see Jesus taking Peter, James and John up on a mountain which has become known as the Mount of Transfiguration. While on the mountain, the disciples became sleepy and drifted off. When they awoke, they saw Jesus glistening with a heavenly glow. He was transfigured; hence, the experience is called the Mount of Transfiguration.

What the disciples experienced on the mountain, one might call a revival experience. They were inspired and energized. The light of Jesus’ glorious presence awakened them from their lethargy. The Transfigured Lord transformed His disciples. You and I need to have a mountain top experience with Jesus. If we do, note what will accompany such an encounter.

A. Recognition (Matthew 17:1-2)

To look and be lifted up into the glorious light of His presence is to obtain a new recognition of who He is. The disciples saw Jesus as they had never seen Him before. Granted, they had been with Him, but on the mountain top they had a new a deeper reality of the person and glory of Jesus.

Jesus was not transfigured because of light that shone upon Him, but because of light that burst forth out of Him. His earthly frame could not contain His glory in those moments upon the mountain. The disciples saw Him not just a teacher or prophet but as the Lord of glory, the Lord full of glory and power. They recognized who He was. They saw His beauty. They reveled in His resplendent effervescent brightness.

B. Rejoicing (Matthew 17:3-4)

Such a view of Jesus creates joy - joy unspeakable and full of glory. There is joy in God’s presence and we need that joy. Remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength! Many Christians are downhearted because they are downcast. They are looking at the world around them, the problems surrounding them, the depression within them instead of looking at the Lord above them!

C. Reverence (17:5-6)

The disciples had a renewed respect, awe and reverence for Christ. We are stricken with awe in the presence of the King. Our sins are repugnant to us. His glory is thrilling to us. His sovereign, mighty power is seen and appreciated.

D. Revelation (17:7-8)

They learned things in those moments on the mountain which they had not known before. Being lifted up into the glorious presence of the Lord Jesus opens our minds and hearts to the deeper things of God. New truth is made known to us. We are more open to know the things of God and to desire His Word. The knowledge of the Lord increases!

This experience was so wonderful that the disciples wanted to remain there. They offered to build three tabernacles - one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. When we truly see Jesus, it creates within us a desire to remain close to Him. We do not want to leave. We hunger for more. Our interests turn from the world to the Lord. How desperately we need this today. Many Christians go through the motions of worship and can’t wait to get back to things of the world. They simply give God a few minutes in church and feel that they have done their duty. When we see Jesus for who He really is, when His glory is on display, our desires change.

What a wonderful experience the disciples had. They had what we would call a mountain top experience with Jesus. But just when they had begun to enjoy the glory of it all, just when they had entertained the idea of staying right there in that lovely, heavenly environment, Jesus said it was time to move out. They were leaving the mountain for the valley. Now, this is the very thing I want you to see. Without the mountain top, we are not fit for service in the valley; but, if we think that simply enjoying the presence of Jesus in all His glory is all there is to the Christian life, we are sadly mistaken.

II. The Valley Experience 17:14-20

Jesus, Peter, James and John came down the mountain to the valley below. Here we see how God works in our lives to change the atmosphere of the valley because we have been with Him.

A. The Multitudes that are Looking (Matthew 17:14)

In the Valley, there are multitudes of people looking for answers to life’s troubles and heartaches. They turn from one place to another for an answer, but come away empty and sad. Christians who simply enjoy the presence of the Lord but fail to see that there are multitudes in the valley of decision make a serious mistake.

B. The Malicious ones that are Lurking (Matthew 17:18)

The reason many are seeking answers in the valley of life is because Satan is lurking around every corner. He is looking for opportunities to extend his reign and rule. Everywhere he goes, trouble follows. His minions carry out his plans, even though the average person has no idea that the problems they are having are the result of Satanic invasion. We see that right here in the passage before us. The father had a boy who was trying to destroy himself. Do we see that among our young people today? Drugs, alcohol and other activities are driving our children to the brink of disaster – and some are actually falling over the precipice. Satan comes only to kill and destroy.

C. The Miracles that are Lacking (Matthew 17:15-16)

The only answer to the problems many people face is to experience a miracle of divine proportion. Normal actions will not change their situation. They need something from above! Philosophy will not help them. Biology is empty to them. The natural answers will not do, they need a supernatural move of God! That was the case with the father and his son. Sadly, we note that the disciples of Jesus who had not been on the mountain were totally unable to help the man or his boy. They were helpless and clueless as to what might be done to assist in the awkward and terrible circumstances they faced. Those of us who serve the Lord cannot provide answers to the problems people face without visiting the mountain with God; on the other hand, we cannot meet people at the point of their need if we simply desire to enjoy God’s presence. All around us there are people who need a miracle of God's grace and power to overcome the evil of this world. We cannot help them on our own. We need power from above to meet problems here below!

D. The Method that is Liberating (Matthew 1719-20)

We must bring the Mountain down to the Valley. What does that mean? Unless we are near the Lord, we cannot do great things for the Lord - or, to put it more correctly, we are not ready for Him to do His work through us unless we are allowing Him to do His work in us! I believe that Jesus must have pointed to the mountain when he spoke and said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to that mountain, Move from here to there, and it will be moved.” Note that Jesus did not say, “…you can say to "A" mountain and it will be moved.” Jesus said, …you can point to "THIS" mountain and it will be moved.” He was speaking of a specific mountain when he spoke to His disciples. Certainly he was speaking of the mountain he had just descended.

For us to have power to confront the evil in our lives, those of our families of those of people around us, we must obtain  that power from the Lord. Our personal worship time and public worship must lead us to a mountain top place with Jesus. Then we must descend into the real world and bring with us the faith to move that mountain of God’s presence into the valley of Satanic attack. In other words, that mountain top experience can be moved into the valley of life by faith, faith revealed in prayer and commitment!

Conclusion

Do you sometimes feel impotent in the face of Satan’s attacks on your life, that of your family and those you encounter in life? To be sure, we all lack the personal power to deal with the evil one; however, there is One dwelling in every believer who is greater than he that is in the world. We need a fresh surrender to the love, presence and power of Jesus today so that we might be the useful servants God calls us to be. Then, we need a new commitment to allow us to be used to bring His blessings to those in the valley of need. This isn’t about us being blessed; it is rather about us being a conduit for God to bless others through our lives.