Mark 11:20-26 (NIV)
V20- In the morning as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.
V21- Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
V22- “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.
V23- I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.
V24- Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.
V25- And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Faith in God is a living, dominant conviction concerning God, His being, His character and government.
It is that act and habit of the soul by which the truth concerning God is drawn from the distant region of speculation and enthroned over the character and life. It is an act of the whole MIND: of the INTELLECT, which sees; but also of the CONSCIENCE, which responds; of the WILL, which chooses; of the HEART, which fears and reveres, loves and trusts. It is that act and habit of the soul by which the notion concerning God becomes a reality. It is by this faith that Christianity accomplished its success at first; it is by this faith all great reforms have been carried on; it is also by this faith that Christians overcome their obstacles and temptation.
Our key text records Jesus cursing the fig tree for its fruitlessness and the next morning, when Peter noticed the dead tree, Jesus said, “Have faith in God”.
The phrase, “Have faith in God” means “Constantly be trusting in God: live in an attitude of dependence on Him.”
Jesus began to use this account of the fig tree to teach his disciples on Mountain-Moving Faith.
And that is the title of my message this morning- MOUNTAIN-MOVING FAITH.
In our key text, Jesus speaks of a faith that can move mountains, cause miracles and healing and accomplish great things for God. Just what is this faith that Jesus is speaking of?
1. TRUE FAITH IS AN EFFECTIVE FAITH
True faith is an effective faith that produces RESULTS: ‘IT WILL REMOVE MOUNTAIN” (Verse 22).
What does “removing mountain” here mean? This phrase about “removing mountains” was quite a common Jewish phrase. It was a regular vivid phrase for REMOVING DIFFICULTIES. It was specially used of wise teachers. A good teacher who could remove the difficulties which the minds of his scholars encountered was called a mountain-remover. One who heard a famous Rabbi teach said that ‘he saw Resh Lachish as if he were plucking up mountains.” So the phrase means that if we have true faith, prayer is a power which can solve any problem and make us able to deal with any difficulty.
What is your problem and difficulty today? Is it so immovable like a mountain blocking your pathway? If you believe in the power of God who is mightier than your problem, then even this so-called “mountain” of your life can be removed when you call upon God in true faith.
I was very encouraged and amazed by a powerful testimony during the cell group. Pas Joseph was sharing with the whole group how one of his Region E members, who is a maintenance officer of our church on Sunday, encountered an insurmountable mountain in his life last week. His brother just collapsed suddenly and fell into a comatose. When he rushed his brother to the hospital, the ER resuscitated him with all the apparatus but to no avail and they pronounced him dead. So they asked him to sign the papers to acknowledge the certification of the death of his brother so that his body could be committed to the morgue. Just as our member was about to sign it, he was overwhelmed with sadness over the sudden demise of his brother. He went over to the “dead body” and just prayed a simple prayer over the body, “Let the life of Jesus come upon you and if you live again, you must serve Jesus.” To the amazement of our member, he saw tears rolling down the cheek of this so-called dead brother. In panic, he alerted the ER team and they resuscitated him one more time and to the glory of God, the dead man became alive. What a mountain-moving faith that inspires this brother to call upon God and God removed the mountain called “death”. Today, this brother is in the ICU and is still alive.
Who is this brother of Region E? He is just an ordinary man who simply exercises mountain-mountain faith in Christ and God moved miraculously.
If God can raise a dead, which is the highest mountain of impossibility, He can do the same for you.
True faith is effective – It produces results and will remove the mountains of your life.
2. TRUE FAITH IS NOT A BELIEF IN ‘FAITH’
True faith is not a belief in “faith” as a force or power but it is a FAITH IN GOD.
V22- Have faith in God.
V24- Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.
We should not interpret Mark 11:24 to mean, “If you pray hard enough and really believe, God is obligated to answer your prayers, no matter what you ask.” That kind of faith is not faith in God: rather, it is nothing but faith in faith, or faith in feelings.
True faith in God is based on the Word. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7); “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
And His word reveals His will to us. It has well been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get man’s will done in heaven but to get God’s will done on earth.
3. TRUE FAITH IS AN OUTFLOW OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
1 John 5:14-15 – This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us –whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.
Mountain-moving faith is not an emergency measure that we turn to when we have a problem. Real faith is a part of our constant communion with God and worship of God. It is a work of God within the hearts of Christians (Mk 9:24; Ph 2:13). It involves an awareness divinely imparted to our hearts that our prayers are answered. It is created within us by the Holy Spirit; we cannot produce it in our own minds.
I can see the hunger among some young people for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You are doing the right thing by earnestly desiring the higher gifts. Some of you earnestly desire from the Holy Spirit the gift to prophesy. But why not press in for the gift of faith? Do you know faith is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11? There are nine gifts of the Holy Spirit- gift of prophesy, gift of message in tongues and gift of speaking in tongues [vocal gifts]; gift of knowledge; gift of the word of wisdom, gift of discernment [knowledge gift]; gift of faith, gift of healing and gift of working of miracles [power gift]. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12: 31 to “earnestly desire the higher spiritual gifts”, “especially that you can prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:1) so that you can edify the church. I say to you, why not covet the power gifts? There are so many people in the power of sickness and demons and only those who are endowed by the Holy Spirit with the gift of faith can combat the dominion of darkness. But the power gifts like healing and miracles all have to start with faith. So desire for the gift of faith because when it comes, you will see healing and miracles.
I am not a “faith” type of person and preacher. Pastor Toh Nee is more on that. You will notice in my preaching that the forte of my messages centers on victorious Christian living, practical living, discipline, righteousness and sins. However, during one of the crisis that hit Jan, I remember recording in my spiritual journal on March 4, 2011, “Mei’s GCE A levels results are out: 3 As and 3 Bs. Mei is very broken by the results and cries a lot. Toh Nee finds it hard to accept and is now troubled in spirit for his beloved daughter. For me, I am taking it in stride. On one hand, it is good that this happens to Mei because lately she is very argumentative and arrogant. Each time she argues with me about every little thing, I say to myself, “Oh boy! She hasn’t even made it to the top and her attitude is so atrocious. How much worse if she makes it to UK or France?” On the other hand I feel sorry for Mei that she has to be bruised in her pride and dream. I know how it feels to disappoint people and especially yourself. Lord, I still thank you nonetheless for Mei’s results. I still have this faith that she can go to France but this time, it will be by the grace of God who opens the door for Mei and not by her own effort or merit. Somehow I have this faith that God will remove this mountain for Mei. So according to Mark 11:23, I say to this “mountain” of 3 Bs, be removed and be cast to the sea. I totally believe with my heart with this mountain-moving faith and my mouth confesses so. God, I have this faith in you to turn things around for Mei. God, I won’t doubt your leading for Mei. I surrender the destiny of Mei’s educational pathway to you.” After I recorded my journal, I turned around and assured Pas Toh Nee that everything would be fine. I told him to remember that Mei has to engage in the fight of faith first because our family is called to fight for every inch of our inheritance in Christ, even though Christ has already given them to us. Then Pas Toh Nee marveled at the confident faith that I have in Christ and he asked me how I managed to uphold that kind of attitude. Well, my secret is years of abiding in Christ through prayer and Bible devotion. And when you face a mountain, the mountain-moving faith will just automatically be birthed within you by the Holy Spirit for that point in time.
Since true faith is a gift imparted to us by Christ, it is important to draw near to Christ and his Word and to deepen our commitment to, and confidence in him (Roman 10:17; Ph 3:8-15). We are dependent on him for everything: “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
In other words, we must seek Christ as the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). His close presence and our obedience to His Word are the source and the secret of our faith.
4.TRUE FAITH IS A PRAYER OF EXPECTATION
V24- Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, BELIEVE that you have received it and it will be yours.
It is the universal fact that anything tried in the spirit of confident expectation has a more than double chance of success.
The patient who goes to a doctor and has no confidence in the prescribed remedies has far less chance of recovery than the patient who is confident that the doctor can cure him. It is proven medically the placebo effect on patient. In the World War II, many soldiers were wounded and hospitalized and the hospital ran out of antibiotics and pain-killers and so the nurses just injected water to the wounded soldiers without their knowledge. These soldiers believed the injection were antibiotics and pain killer and they were cured, even though the injection was just water. Why such miracle? Because the wounded soldiers anticipated cure in the medicine and miracles flowed according to their expectation.
When we pray, it must never be a mere formality. It must never be a ritual without hope. It should be a thing of burning expectation.
I was very blessed by the testimony of Pas Dag, a very anointed and powerful speaker, with gift of healing, who our Mother Church has invited. He said, “One night when I was ministering at a Miracle Wave Convention something astonishing happened. There were thousands of people present that night and the power of God was flowing. That night I remember when I finished preaching the Word, I felt that God had already moved. It wasn’t even necessary to do anything further.
There was a lady sitting up in the balcony with her baby and husband. This lady suddenly experienced an open vision. Her eyes opened supernaturally and she could see me and everybody else on the stage. But she saw a huge angel standing on my left hand side suspended in midair.
She said, “As you were preaching, you would say things like, “I see you blessed!’, “I see God answering your prayer!, ‘I see you healed in the name of Jesus!’, “I see you getting a job that you have been looking for so long!” The angel would hand out blessings as I spoke and smaller angels would carry them to the people.
She said that some people had outstretched hands and were very receptive. The angels would go straight to them with the blessings. While others were receiving, others were dozing off and missing out on the spiritual impartation that was taking place.
I believe that that angel goes around with me whenever I minister. I know the “big guy” has been assigned to me. He’s my ministering angel. The Bible teaches us that angels are ministering spirits that minister for us. They work for us and help us. That is why the angel was distributing spiritual parcels to those who believe the Word and expecting it.”
“According to your faith, it shall be done unto you.”
I had great expectation towards God for the Ignite. The “mountains” confronting me for the Ignite were finances; the new ones and the very cold and passive hearts of old members. How to remove all these financial mountain and mountains in the hearts and lives of these people? Will the new ones understand the gospel? Will vices, sins and wrong lifestyle be broken from their lives? Will the old and dead bones live again? Pas Toh Nee believed in God for finance and when he casually mentioned the financial need of the Ignite during his preaching on “The Coming Blessing”, people just came forward to give him the money and he collected P43,500/- for the Ignite. His faith in God was P30,000 but God honored his faith above and beyond that by P13,500. As for me, I believed in the Word of God for the people coming for the Ignite. I have mountain-moving faith in Isaiah 64:1-2 –‘Oh that thou wouldest rend the heaven, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence’. I believed the mountains in all these hearts would melt and flowed down; they would be flattened. And true to my expectation and faith in God, He did just that last Friday. At first during the morning session, there was great difficulty for us to get the message and the Holy Spirit across, especially after the third sermon on Forgiveness. When the people came out to the altar, there seemed to be a block. Both of us could sense tall mountains still standing arrogantly and stubbornly in their hearts. I felt that the congregation was harder to handle than the congregation at Lauuan, Antique. After that sermon, there was a lunch break. Pas Toh Nee and I didn’t proceed to the 4th floor for our lunch. Instead we remained on the 3rd floor and both of us held our hands and exercised the mountain-moving faith. We commanded in our joint prayer for these mountains in the hearts of the people to flow down and melt in the presence of God. We pressed in in our faith and prayer. We refused to give in to the ‘mountains’. God honored our prayer of faith. During the afternoon session, Pas Toh Nee preached on the Manifest Presence of God and during the altar, the presence of the Holy Spirit really fell on the people and there was great filling and healing in the hearts of the people. We tarried quite long at the altar and at the end of the meeting, 38 people indicated their desire to take the step of water baptism, 24 were baptized in the Holy Spirit and 49 were born again. There were so many glorious testimonies from the attendees on how God mowed down the mountains in their heart. Glory be to God.
Now, there is another principle -When you really expect God to remove your mountain, it will outflow through your “mouth”.
V23- I tell you the truth, if anyone SAYS to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his HEART but believes that what he SAYS will happen, it will happen for him.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). When we speak faith words, we release the power of God to remove the mountain of our lives. But when we speak negative and unbelieving words, we release demonic power to block and curse our lives.
I shared with the Antique CPM leaders that many times, we don’t believe God will remove our difficulties and problems. I challenged them to sow right attitude, especially an attitude of faith. I told them we have a tendency each time we face a crisis or a mountain, our mouth loves to negatively confess, “Die, Die!” That is wrong. Even if your mountain still stands as tall and immovable like Mt Everest, have this expectation in your heart and BELIEVE in your God and then SAY, “Life, Life ,life” and you shall eat the fruit of victory.
I will not doubt in my heart concerning even this Mountain of our building project to be removed. I will not doubt in my heart concerning the growth and the surging birth of this church. I will not doubt for the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives and set my people free from sins and vices. I will not doubt concerning the hardest of hearts among the new and old ones in this church to be transformed. I will not doubt in my heart concerning the salvation of my hard-core Buddhist mother and I believe when I say to all these mountains to be removed, they shall be removed.
5. TRUE FAITH IS A PRAYER OF FORGIVENESS
V25- And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
The prayer of a bitter man cannot penetrate the wall of his own bitterness. Why? If we are to speak with God, there must be some bond between two people who have something in common. The principle of God is LOVE. If the ruling principle of a man’s heart is BITTERNESS, it is not a common bond with God. He has rather erected a barrier between himself and God.
I must be in fellowship with both my Father in heaven and my brethren on earth if God is to answer my prayers. The first words in “The Lord’s Prayer” is our – “OUR Father which art in heaven” and not “My Father which art in heaven.” Though Christians may pray in private, no Christian ever prays alone, for all of God’s people are part of a worldwide family that unites to seek God’s blessing.
If ever the prayer of such a man is to be answered, he must first ask God to cleanse his heart from the bitter spirit and put into it the spirit of love. Then he can speak to God and God can speak to him.
Faith works by love. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal 5:6).
If I have mountain-moving faith in God, I will also have love for my brother.
I really thank God for the move of the Holy Spirit through the many Encounter and Ignite services that I have helped Pas Toh Nee to conduct. The Holy Spirit really worked in my heart concerning the issue of unforgiveness. It was during the Lauaan Encounter that God really spoke to me on the need to release blessing to my enemies. I really resisted strongly at first. But through the preaching of Pas Toh Nee during the Encounter, the Holy Spirit quickened this remma to me in KJV which I had never seen in the RSV version before and that is in Job 42:10-And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, WHEN HE PRAYED FOR HIS FRIENDS; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”
The Lord overturned the captivity or the bondage of Job when he prayed for his friends, who were actually foolish friends who misrepresented God and accused Job wrongly. God spoke to me during Lauaan Encounter- I want you to bless and pray for your enemies. Then I will overturn your captivity and then I will bless you double-fold.” Suddenly, my spiritual eyes were opened to see the reasons why God wanted me to forgive – He has been wanting to give me this double-fold blessing but because I was so afraid to release love and forgiveness, I bind His hands in releasing that blessing to me. Now God shows me – release forgiveness now. Then whatever faith that you have in my promises will materialize into actual blessing for your life and it will be double-fold. There and then, I allowed the Holy Spirit to arrest my heart and I literally spoke and prayed blessing to my enemies.
Today, is your mountain-moving faith in God blocked because of unforgiveness in your heart towards your enemy? To release the power of mountain-faith, you have to forgive first.
HOW MUCH FAITH DO I NEED TO EXERCISE MOUNTAIN-MOVING FAITH?
Some of you may say like me to God, “I’m not so much of a faith person.” I am not a giant in faith but a pygmy and so how am I going to exercise faith to remove a mountain in my life?
Jesus said in Matthew 17:20- I tell you the truth, if you have faith, as small as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain. “Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
That is how much you need in order to exercise mountain-moving faith – as small as a mustard seed.
A man was taken up to heaven in a vision and there Christ brought him to the Blessing Storehouse of heaven. Inside the storehouse, he saw many legs, limps, hands, eyes and many body parts of human. Intrigued, he asked Jesus what those were and Jesus replied, “Unclaimed blessings of the saints.” Those were the blessings Jesus wanted to impart to us on earth for the sick but because we do not have mountain-moving faith, all those blessing are still remaining in the storehouse of God, waiting for your faith to claim them.
If you want to win people over to Christ in these last days, people need to see the manifestations of God. People need to see the anointing of Elijah operative in your life where when you say to heaven, “Be shut up, it shuts up for 3 years and when you say rain, it rains.”
At 1.30am on Saturday, I was very troubled by the heavy storm raging outside and I text to Pas Carlos about the possibility of transferring the venue of the water baptism from the sea to a swimming pool at a Subdivision. I talked to Pas Toh Nee who just woke up and he told me, “Dear, have faith that the rain will stop by the time of the water baptism.” Then he turned to the window and commanded the rain to stop by morning and true enough, the rain stopped by 7am and we were able to conduct the water baptism service at the beach where 38 people were baptized. Glory be to God.
There are so many people still in the clutches of Satan and it takes a power encounter to lose them. The gift of faith is a power gift and it behooves all of us to press in for this gift of faith. There are so many unclaimed blessings of healing for the people here on earth. Even if it is not the blessings of healing you need, there are still many obstacles and difficulties blocking you from becoming what God wants you to be. Only mountain-moving faith can remove all of them and allow you to claim the blessings due to you.
I just sense that along with this move of the Holy Spirit, He will be imparting this mountain-moving faith to many hearts. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith, it is impossible to translate the notion and the promise of God into reality. Without faith, it is impossible to release the power of healing and the miraculous. Without faith, it is impossible to operate in the realm of the Spirit. Without faith, the mountains in your heart and in your lives cannot be removed.
So, let us ask the Holy Spirit to release and work this true faith into our hearts this morning.
True faith is an effective faith that produces results: “It will remove mountain.
True faith is not a belief in faith. It is faith in God.
True faith is an outflow of our relationship with God.
True faith is a prayer of expectation.
True faith is a prayer of forgiveness.
END OF SERMON
SERMON OF PASTOR LILY. PREACHED AT EFC IC ON 26 MAY 2011