Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Sermon on the need to be among the hurting in order to be able to minister God’s love.

Down in the Valley

Mark 9:9, 14-29

On a morning news show this week, I heard one of the most incredible acts of either bravery or lunacy. A mountain climber (forgive me, I did not write down his name) went up Mt. Everest, and was the first person ever to ski down the entire mountain in a single run! Can you imagine that—climbing Everest in the first place and then skiing down? Amazing! I’ve never climbed a mountain. But I did attempt the skiing thing as a child, and after a week of lessons on the beginner’s hill my journey down the “adult” mountain assures me Mt. Everest is definitely off limits.

I love the mountains. Their majesty, their sheer beauty take one’s breath away. Add to this that the mountains have been where God met his people so many times within the Word of God, and it is not hard to see why, to this day, if someone says “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” we know that it is a powerful metaphor for victory.

Consider, Noah’s ark came to rest on a mountain, and the human race was spared. It was on a mountain that Abraham raised a knife to sacrifice Isaac, and his faith was affirmed before God—who did supply a ram. On a mountain, Moses met God, and the Exodus was born. On a mountain, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal, and Israel’s faith in God was restored. In the first part of the chapter we’ve look at this morning, the mountaintop was the place of Christ’s transfiguration. And from a mountaintop, Christ ascended into heaven, with the promise that he would return one day.

The mountaintop experience is amazing, awe inspiring, life-changing. But, please notice, while the mountain was a place of true encounter with God, it was not the place where God’s people lived out their lives. The mountaintop was rarely the end of the story for Israel. The valleys and plains were where most of the action took place. In our text this morning, Jesus came down from the mountain to free a young boy from spiritual bondage. Today, there are still many people with needs that only Jesus can meet—Jesus calls us to be his instruments to meet those needs. How can that happen in our lives? How can we really be used by God to make a difference in this world? Together we have examined this passage before, from the perspective of the father. Today, as we examine the passage from the perspective of the disciples, we can discover the following ways we can make a difference in this world.

In order to make a difference in this world . . .

I. We must be willing to come down from the mountaintop of spiritual experiences.

A. The mountaintop experiences of the Christian life call out to our hearts.

1. It is not hard to understand Peter’s reaction to the mount of transfiguration, is it?

2. While I’ve never had a “vision” as such, there have been times in my spiritual walk that I, too, would have liked to built a shelter and settled down forever in an experience with my God.

B. But Jesus doesn’t call us to live on the mountaintop.

1. Jesus and the disciples had to come down from the mount of Transfiguration—the experience had accomplished its task.

2. The mountaintops of spiritual experience are not ends in themselves my friends.

C. While our walk with Jesus can be, and should be, fresh and powerful every single day, the full encounter with God’s glory must await the day we see him face to face—in the meantime, he gives us the mountaintop occasionally, so that we will continue on the journey—not so we will sit down and bask in the glory!

In order to make a difference in this world . . .

II. We must be willing to face the real world of needs around us.

A. In the valleys of life, people are hurting.

1. Jesus and the disciples came down from an incredible experience of the mountaintop to face pandemonium below.

2. Perhaps pandemonium reigns somewhere in Nicholson this morning . . .

B. If we close our eyes, if we seek to keep our faith here in this moment, in this place, needs will go unmet.

1. We cannot be spiritual Pollyannas playing a “glad game” who somehow believe everything is wonderful and rosy.

2. Please, understand—I am not talking about giving in to despair, I am not talking about giving Satan more credit than he deserves, I am not talking about defeat!

C. We have such incredible hope to offer this world—but we must be willing to go out into the world to offer it—we cannot stay here in the safety and warmth of a sanctuary: the people are hurting “out there” and it’s “out there” where the needs will be met: if we will open our eyes!

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