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Watch 2022 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - The Longest House in the World

Levi Lusko - The Longest House in the World

Levi Lusko - The Longest House in the World
TOPICS: Miracle

If you have a Bible, we're going to be in Mark 2 and Malachi 3 today. Mark is the second book of the New Testament, and Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. I want to bring to you a message from these passages that I'm calling, "The Longest House in the World". The longest house in the world, and if you do like taking notes, there's a premium bonus... I'm sorry, one of my pages got dog eared and this is just my biggest pet peeve, when my Bible gets dog eared. Esther chapter 3, I didn't want that to be tarnished. Just have to keep it pretty, a little OCD, the pages in my Bible. The subtitle today is, "let us know," so you could jot that down. The longest house in the world, someone say my subtitle. Let us know. Come on Elsa, you can do better than that. Let us know.

Here's what we find in Mark's gospel, the second chapter. It says, "And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to him bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.' And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak blasphemy like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?' But immediately, when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, 'Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk?' But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on Earth to forgive sins.' He said to the paralytic, 'Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.' Immediately, he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!'"

Come on, that is a good day in church. No one is quite positive as to when skiing was invented. They found pairs of skis in Russia, somewhere outside of Moscow, that they think are thousands of years old. They have found more than 4,000 year old pictures, sort of drawings, depicting people skiing in Norway that go back a long, long time. So we know people have been skiing for pretty much ever. As long as there has been snow on mountains, people have figured out a way to slide down it quickly on skis. But we do know for sure the first time skiing ever took place in America was the year 1848 during the Gold Rush, when people from Norway were coming over en masse to make their fortunes by digging gold out of the Earth. Word spread quickly around the world that there was gold discovered on the West Coast of California.

And so, man, it was boomtown. People were showing up, and the Norwegians brought their skis with them, which is pretty impressive. You think about how difficult it was to get here, but they brought the skiing culture, maybe they made them when they got here, who knows. But they had these 12 foot long, super skinny, wooden skis. And they would use these poles as well, and the poles were not only how they turned, but also how they stopped. A skid turn had not been invented yet, the technology was not there, so the poles would be useful. And apparently, all around the mountains where they were digging for gold, there were these skiers. And quickly they got hired as mailmen, and they got hired as doctors, because they could make their way quickly. It was recorded that as much as 40 miles could be covered per day by someone who had these skis under their feet.

Now right around the time of the Gold Rush, which was simultaneous to the end of the Civil War, you also had this building of the Transcontinental Railroad. You had these people working from two different sides, from two different coasts, you had the Union Pacific on the Eastern side moving westward, and you had the Central Pacific on the West Coast moving eastward. And Lincoln was so smart to have two different companies, he was unleashing the power of competition. He's like, hey, whoever gets more miles gets paid more. If you want to make it rain, you got to make it train. And that's good, I got to write that down. Got to trademark that later, make it rain, make it train. It's a really good unintentional rhyme for 5,000 points. So they couldn't milk it. It was a government contract, so they couldn't milk it, because they knew if I'm idle, and kind of trying to make the hours count more, the other team's going to get there first. Whoever gets further is going to get paid more. It was paid by the mile, and the rate was a sliding scale based on how mountainous it was.

So you didn't make the same amount if you were on flat, versus hilly, versus super mountainous. And we'll talk about why that figured in a little bit. But they both had the motivation to keep going. But we do know that on the Central Pacific side many Norwegians, with their skis, ended up getting hired to be railroad employees. So all through the mountains as they built them, you would see, commonly see, skiing, and skiers showing up. And other workmen were like, dang, that's cool, got to get me some of those. And so you had people skiing as they were building the transcontinental railroad. But that's not it, because for the next 50 years, the area of the Gold Rush, and the area where the Central Pacific began building the railroad, is pretty much where skiing stopped, the same place that had started in the United States. It didn't really spread aggressively until the year 1936, in Sun Valley, Idaho.

The owner of a fledgling ski resort reached out to his friend who ran the Union Pacific Railroad and said, hey, you got all these locomotives, you have all these steam powered whatchamacallits, and contraptions, and all these things you've built with your steam powered locomotive, hook a brother up. Is there some way you could help me to bring people from the bottom of the mountain to the top of the mountain, sort of a way to lift them up? In Europe they were doing T-bars already, and they kind of had these things you would hold on to, but you had to stay standing. He said, this is America. We do one thing really well in America, we sit down, that's what we want to do. So none of this standing up, he said, can you lift people to the top of the hill in a chair? And the railroad running man, he went to the team, and he said... well someone said, hey, there's this device we made out of a locomotive in South America that made it faster to unload bananas off of ships.

You see, it would take a cable from the top of the bottom, and we had installed these hooks every 10 or 15 feet, and so every time they got to a hook, they would just put a bunch of bananas on it. And we could unload a ship faster because of this machine, maybe, just maybe. So he ordered one of those machines, they modified it, instead of hooks for bananas, they put chairs for lazy American skiers. And voila, that was really where skiing began to explode in this country. So you cannot separate skiing and the railroad, one of the many, many ways that the railroad has changed our lives for the better. And may all the skiers say Amen. Amen. Amen, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

We're using as a symbol of the things that we believe God has for our church to do in these coming days, the vision of the Golden Spike, which was the final of 7 million spikes driven to connect the East and the West Coast, during a time when our nation was being ripped apart. The Civil War, North and South, brothers taking up arms against brothers, and what was so fragile, this United States, was being divided. And Abraham Lincoln had it in his heart to bind together our nation, East to West, with two strips of iron running from Omaha all the way to Sacramento. He believed that it would be necessary to keep us together as a country. He knew it was necessary to win the Civil War for him to personally be able to transport goods and troops. And he also knew that it was the only way for us to actually take hold of this West, this dream, this Louisiana Purchase, and the Oregon Territories, and the California Territories, this whole mass of the United States that we couldn't get to.

Because we said that at the time that Jefferson brokered the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon, three out of four Americans lived within 75 miles of the East Coast. So we might have had this huge lower 48, but we couldn't very well get to it. And so we're using the language of the Golden Spike to speak of us laying hold of all that is ours in Christ. For Ephesians says, "We've been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ". But so many of us are not experiencing all of that blessing. We're not taking hold of all of our birthright. We are meant to be kings and priests to our God, taking ground, reaching people with all of God's resources, and the wind of the Holy Spirit at our back.

And so we're laying it down as a gauntlet, that we want to see God do more, that we want to connect heaven to Earth, and the gospel to lost people, and food to those who are hungry. And we want to raise up leaders, and we want to do all that God has it for us as Fresh Life Church, and our online family, everyone taking part in this ministry, praise God, digitally connected as we are, all 50 states, many countries around the world, all of us together linked up for what? To advance the name of Jesus in the world. It's the only name that can save, and we want to do all that God has for us to do. This language is beautiful, and the story is worthy of the effort, because here in this text before us, we see four men. Someone say, "four men". Four men. Help their friend by doing whatever they needed to do to get him in front of Jesus.

The text calls him a paralytic, but when you look into the commentaries, you will find that this was more than just some sort of a paralysis, it seems to have involved epilepsy as well. There was a lot going on, this man was in pain, this man could not move, and this man lived in a world that was not ADA compatible. And when you travel, and when you experience, you see how good this country is. If you're going to be handicapped in some way, this country is not a perfect country, but a wonderful country in the way that it prioritizes and serves those who have been disabled in any way. And in that part of the world, there was not the convenience of wheelchairs, and ramps, and elevators, and it would be a terrible thing. You see this picture of these men carrying their friend on a mat, for what other options did he have besides dragging his way through the dirt, if he was even able to do that? But these men had heard about Jesus.

And as everybody wanted to get in front of Jesus, they had this idea, and this man clearly was down for it, to get him to Jesus, and to do whatever it took to get in there. And here's the first, thing I want you to do I've done a few words today. You'll have to get them quick, they're not going on the screen, because I got to mix it up to keep you awake. Because sometimes you fall asleep when everything's just spoon fed for you right there on the screen. So jot this down, "recklessness". Recklessness. I see in these men just sort of a recklessness. It was like, let's get our friend to Jesus, and let's tear the roof out when... right? I mean. It's just they hit a barrier, there's tons of people, let's try again next week. Let's go let's go tomorrow. No, they said, we're going to go, we're going to go. But they're spilling out of the doorway, and the Apostles are there saying, no, no, no, seats are taken, no more room, try again next time. They said, OK, all right, and they scam, man, they like sneak in there.

These guys are hustling, they find their way to the roof. That's trespassing, right? And then, I hope this dude had homeowners insurance, because he's the unsung hero in all of this. Because he's left footing the bill to deal with the hole in his roof, and to figure that out. I'm sure he was happy to have been part of the Miracle on this day, but there's a cost involved. And there was just sort of a recklessness to it, and faith is reckless. And I think we should, more and more, use words like that to describe the faith journey. And then we have to look at our lives and make sure they're worthy of those words. Because I think faith sometimes is sort of this like passive, you just sort of let go, and you just sort of love God. Come on someone, it's tearing a hole in the roof to get someone to Jesus. My friend, Pastor Craig Groeschel likes to say that the church should do everything short of sin to reach lost people. And these guys are fudging with that line all, because this is arguably a felony. And yet, they don't even care, because they got to get this guy to Jesus.

And I just want to applaud that spirit, and I just want to encourage you, and push you to that kind of a life of faith. Now it's interesting because at times what takes the most faith is at times doing something that just doesn't make sense to our culture. When you give a tithe, that doesn't make sense. When the Sabbath day comes, when one day of the week, and you've worked six days, and you say now I'm going to take a day, and rest and worship. That doesn't make sense to our culture, because you've got to make hay while the sun shines. But I like how Eugene Peterson put it. I think we do have this one on the screen, so just be grateful for what you get today, because not everything's going up. Do we have it?

Eugene Peterson, he said, "There is a devil-may-care recklessness that sets the day aside for praying and playing despite compelling pressure to do something practical. And then you discover that this," taking that Sabbath day, that day of rest, "was the most practical thing of all to do". There's a recklessness to worship. There's a recklessness to faith. There's a recklessness to generosity. There's a recklessness, because the world says, you could be doing this, and you could be doing this, and you say, I'm going to pray, and I'm going to play, and I'm going to give resource away, and the devil-may-care, I'm going through the roof. I'm going to see God do something, so help me. I'm going to get to that Golden Spike, I'm getting to Promontory Summit, or I perish. The recklessness, what did it take? Let's today focus just on the Central Pacific, because they started out in Sacramento, and they got to get across, if they're going to get to Nevada, if they're going to get to Utah, if they're going to make some miles, and make it rain a little bit, they have to starting out get through the mighty Sierra Nevada, one of the most intimidating mountain ranges on Earth.

I mean, the tallest trees are there, one of the largest waterfalls in this country is there, and the highest point on the lower 48, Mount Whitney is there. I mean, this is just amazing. Oh and this mountain range, it's all made of granite. So different mountains are made out of different things, and from what I know of rocks, granite is particularly tough to get through. And why is that an issue? Because Crazy Judah, remember we called him that, Crazy Judah was the one who figured out we can get from Sacramento, where all the action's at, this Bay Area, and San Francisco, and Sacramento, so we got to get from there across. To do so, he said, I think we can go through the Sierra Nevada, and people were like, bro, you're nuts. He's like, yeah, I found a way. I mapped it out. I surveyed it. And what did you find, Crazy Judah? I think we can go over at Donner Pass. Donner Pass, where the Donner Party got lost and ate each other?

Yeah, that's a wonderful place for us to put the railroad through. He said, no, I really think we can do it. But his route called for no less than 15 different tunnels, tunnels through granite mountains, with no modern equipment. This was the last sizeable project done by hand. Here is a photo of one of the tunnels they built. This is tunnel number six, my personal favorite tunnel of the 15. This is the longest tunnel, at over 1,600 feet long, solid granite, a tunnel big enough for two trains, because you had to have coming and going, to get through this tunnel. Now imagine, your job is to get through this by hand with pickaxes and drills. You're like, I thought it was by hand? Yeah, the drills are not the drills like you and I have, baby. This is like I'm holding this thing here, and my friend has a giant hammer, and he's whacking the drill, and hopefully not my hand. The granite was so tough to get through, the drills had to be taken back to the blacksmith shop and resharpened every two hours, for they would lose their edge making it through the mountains.

And what were they using the drills for? They would make holes, it would take them up to eight hours to make a hole deep enough to put some black powder in, and then somebody would draw the short straw, and be like, one, two, three, not it. Who's going to light it and then run away? Many, many were killed by shrapnel. One of the main work bosses, a man named Strobridge, who the men called Stroh, who also brought his wife with him, and his family, and they had a boxcar designated for their family. His wife was the only woman to make the entire route, and journey. And every time the train would stop, she would put her porch decorations out, including a canary she hung from the front porch. So now we have connected the dots to our last series, there was a canary involved in the transcontinental railroad, people.

I discovered that this week and freaked out. OK, he, at one of the very first tunnels they tried to build, was a little bit too close looking on, and a piece of granite went right into his eye, blinding him in one of his eyes. And for the rest of the building of this railroad, Stroh, as the men called him, had an eye patch over his eye, warning everybody of the dangers of exploding granite, even from a, quote unquote, "safe distance". And most of the times when they would dig the hole and blow it, they would blow off a few inches of the granite. And working 24/7, it would take them an entire 24 hour revolution to make it through seven inches. And for just that tunnel I showed you, they had to go 1,600 feet. There were spies back and forth.

The Union Pacific would send spies around, now again, around is taking the slow boat around South America, or crossing through Panama, which is how Crazy Judah died, or you take life into your own hands on a wagon route to get across the mainland. And the spies who came over and saw how painstakingly slow the progress was for the Central Pacific getting through the Sierra Nevadas came back and said, we have several years. They will be three years, we estimate, getting through this mountain range. It took six months if you went on the wagon route, by the way, just to get across the Sierra Nevada mountains. Six months, so they said, we're going to make it all the way across the country. We will meet them at the foothills of the Sierras, and collect on this entire thing, because there's no way they're making it through, seven inches a day. But the Central Pacific did not take three years. In fact, they made it through tunnel number six in 15 months, and under two years to get through the entire mountain range. How? Ingenuity.

Like the story, it was not just one man who brought his friend to Jesus. How many were involved? Four... that's three, four, four friends brought. They unleashed the power of multiplication, because many people can do what one person could never do. And welcome to the power of the body of Christ. Welcome to a bunch of campuses working together. Welcome to church online family saying, hey, we can help, we can do it. So using just tunnel number six, the summit tunnel, as an illustration, this 1,600 foot long behemoth, working their way through a solid granite mountain, seven inches a day is going to take a long time, right? So they sent another team to the other side of the mountain, and they began working this way. And so now, we're accomplishing 14 inches per day. But they did the math, that's still going to take too long.

So what did they do? They went, like the men in the story in Mark 2, to the roof. If you look at this illustration, here's exactly how they approached it. By sending a team from above, they tunneled down below. And once the men were, every single day, lowered down into the bottom of the tunnel, they were now able to work to the left and to the right. So they worked on four faced four faces simultaneously, it's the power of multiplication. And like Crazy Judah used to say, you can eat an elephant just one bite at a time. I'm telling you, something impossible things can be done when we all take our part. Four different sides simultaneously, and the real bugger, is how do you make sure that those different teams don't all blow right past each other, or go below each other? And the real marvel of the thing was that when it was all said and done, they met and they were only off by two inches in their calculations. And it has been said that we even with modern day equipment, we couldn't do better in the 21st century at building something.

And if you ever find yourself in the area, the Amtrak does not use that tunnel anymore, but you can on foot, I'm told, go through, and walk the summit tunnel yourself, and marvel at what can happen when people put their minds to something, and a bunch of people come together. Second thing, jot this down, I see cooperation. Because it wasn't like one dude just put his friend on his back and said, I'll carry you to get there. To get a guy safely belaid down, I would say uninjured, but he was already injured, the point was to keep him from getting injured further, and so he could get help, it took cooperation. Each of them carried a portion of the way, they all had to do it in order for this to work. And I see the same thing in the cooperation it took. Not only the cooperation between all of the different aspects, the Central Pacific, and the Union Pacific, Abraham Lincoln's original saying, this needed to be done, the administration after him continuing to prioritize it, all that it took, there's a lot of pieces.

But even just within each team, like within the Central Pacific, a massive reason this was able to be done was because of the thousands upon thousands of Chinese people who had immigrated to the United States because of the Gold Rush, who one of the four, the big four, suggested could be good, because they weren't having as good of a time getting workers on the Central Pacific side. On the Union Pacific, it was almost all Civil War veterans, and Irish immigrants who had left Ireland because of the Great Potato Famine, ending up in the United States looking for work. But there wasn't quite as many of them on the West Coast, so Crocker said, well there's a ton of Chinese people. And Strobridge said, they're too small, they're only 120 pounds, most of them aren't even five feet tall, so they wouldn't be good workers.

And Crocker laughed, and famously said, they build the Great Wall of China, didn't they? It's sort of what they do. So he said, I'll make you a deal, and this is a true story. He said, I'll hire 50 of them for a month and just see how it goes. Well those 50 Chinese men who worked, so outworked every other person he had ever had working for him, he said for the rest of the project, I'll hire only Chinese people. And by the end, it was literally 80% Chinese that built the Transcontinental Railroad from the Central Pacific side. It's a beautiful story. But then I start to think about even just the dynamics at play here, because we don't know what the four men were like who carried their friend Jesus. One of them could have been tiny, and one of them could have been enormous. And one of them could have been shouldering the majority of the way, but the scrawny one was still a part of the story. We don't know how much each of them were all holding.

I know, at times, I'll ask my young daughters to help me carry stuff. And it really does help to have an extra set of hands on awkward stuff, but I know for sure I'm not allowing a massive amount of it to go into what could hurt them, or be beyond what they can help. I'm shouldering more then Lennox if, I ask Lennox to help me carry something that's weird and awkward, and he's still a part of the process. I would think about how the Union Pacific side, just a few years into this whole thing, were 500 miles of track, were 500 miles in while the Central Pacific was still floundering in the Sierra Nevadas, and how it would be easy to feel like we're doing so much more than you are. But when you look at the topography involved, it sort of changes your perspective a little bit. I'm going to show you what it was like for the Union Pacific.

If you look at this relief on the map, you see where they started, in Omaha, and where they were heading, to Promontory. You see they started, what, 2,000 feet above sea level? And look at the Great Plains, la de da de da. There's a few little hiccups here where they would jump 500 feet, 500 feet here, and 500 feet there, but that was their map. Now I'd like to show you the Central Pacific map for a second. Please look at this next one, right here. This is the Central Pacific. Starting in Sacramento on the left, an immediate 7,000 foot rise. They started at sea level, and their first task was Herculean. So again, if you look at the other one you're like, well, we've gone 500 miles, but you started at sea level and you were tackling the Great Plains. They're like a pancake, that's why tornadoes like them so much.

So then you see the other person who goes, OK, this is what, I've only made 59, in one entire calendar year they made 59 miles. But look at the 59 miles they had to make, it's been called the most amazing 59 miles in railroad history. And so when we think about December 5th, and we think about this Golden Spike offering, we think about the different families who are going to give. There are some who could give a 500 mile gift today, and others will look at that and go, wow, that's real faith, that's real generosity. But I am telling you, God doesn't just see what you give, God understands what you're up against as you give it, and he sees the faith that it takes to give it. This is not about equal giving, it's about equal sacrifice. It is about all of us saying, hey, and let me tell you something, what we have done, what we will do, has never been, will never be, because of a few people who are just really extraordinary.

I'm telling you, it is about the sacrifice of a lot of people. It is about modest sacrificial gifts across the spectrum of people who don't say, well, other people who have more can give more, and do more, it counts more to me. I'm telling you, God is looking for those who will say, out of what I've been given, here's what I am willing to do to say thank you Jesus for the cross, thank you Jesus for your kingdom, thank you Jesus that I get a seat at the table. And here's my faith to say, I'm nailing down a spike, I'm driving down a spike, I'm putting down a rail, I am putting down a tie. My family will be a part of something that goes from sea to shining sea. And when I hear the stories, when I see the reports, I will have pride, and know I was a part of that. It didn't matter if your name went down in the annals of history or not, you who worked on this railroad were a part of something significant.

And I believe that whether we're going to do an incredible, remarkable 39 miles, or we're going to do 500 miles, because we have been entrusted with more, the key is that we, all of us together, say here's what I have. And for some of you, the years are different. We had an investment we made five years ago mature this year, just we're able to look at that. Now listen, again, we're tithing every single week. So when we say, what is an offering going to be, we already know we're tithing, so that box is checked, y'all. For some of you, and we say this every single year, if you're not tithing already, you can't very well give an offering because it's above and beyond. So what we encourage everyone to do is to say, let your first gift be your first tithe, of what you haven't been doing already, that can be a way to get into the game.

So for us, as we say, every year start thinking about things we could do, things we could buy. And for me, it's other investments we can make, as opposed, but this to me is an eternal investment of what God has us being a part of. And I always talk about that because the scripture tells us that those leaders go first, and the leaders going first inspires the generosity of the people that are underneath them. And that's why scripture records, here's what David did, then David would get the priests together, so we as a staff are doing this. It's not like, hey, those of you who are aren't tithing, those of you who are part of it, it's all of us together saying we want to see God move in power, it's that cooperation. Like I told you, the Chinese did a disproportionate amount of the heavy lifting, and got a disproportionately small amount of the credit for it. But Strobridge by the end, like I said, his perspective was changed on them. And one thing that they did that others were not willing to do was they were willing to get in baskets.

I told you about the tunnels, I didn't tell you yet about the cliff face. To get through the Sierras they also had to get, somehow, over, around, through Cape Horn. And this is the finished result of Cape Horn, you see it is not a tunnel because it was miles long. They could never have built a tunnel that long by the deadline of 1876. So instead, what they did was they built out a ledge on a mountainside. All there was a goat path above it. So to build this ledge, to carve this ledge out of Cape Horn, which 2,000 foot drop in some places down to the river below, what they did was they allowed the Chinese to bring in baskets. They said, look, we've done stuff like this before, give us baskets. If you give us baskets, we can build you this cliff face. And what they would do is they would lower a man down in a basket, and sitting in a basket, criss cross applesauce, he would hammer a hole, fill it with black powder, and then he would light the fuse, and yelled to his spotter above to pull him up really quickly, hopefully really quickly, before it blew.

We don't know how many Chinese died in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad because, sadly, records were not kept. But it is estimated to be as high as 1,500, and they were willing to get in the baskets. I couldn't help but think about the lowering of this man when I came across that story. This man had to have faith to be lowered. We know he had faith, because Jesus said to him, "Your sins are forgiven you". And now we, as pastors and theologians who read this, know that the rest of the scripture teaches, you can't be saved unless you put your faith in God. But only the man's friends had faith that Jesus applauded. How did he have faith, how did Jesus know he had faith? The answer is given, when the enemies of God go, how dare he do this in their hearts? And Jesus answered their mental train of thought by going, oh, you got a problem with me?

Now here's what's amazing, they didn't say anything audibly, they only thought it. They had an evil thought of Jesus, and Jesus responded to them. And they went to themselves, ruh roh, we got a mind reader on our hands here. So some of us have read the text, wait a minute, how can this guy get saved when he didn't have faith? He did, it just wasn't expressed verbally. He clearly had faith in his heart, and that's why Jesus met him at the level of his faith. His friends had the faith to get him healed, he had the faith to get saved, by putting his faith in Jesus, by him being willing to be lowered like a man in a basket. And I love that Paul did the same thing. We're told in Acts, chapter 9, you can read it on your own time, when he was preaching the gospel and opposition got so thick, there came a time when he had to be lowered out of a city. The city was called Damascus, and he had to be low lowered in a large basket.

So the question is, with the cooperation, are we all willing to jump in the basket? Are we all willing to be put into that place of, hey, this is a sacrifice? Like we saw in the video we played a little bit ago, it's going to cost us something if it's going to mean something, if it's going to rightly be called a sacrifice. All right, the third word that we want to consider is the word, "proactivity". These men were proactive. They didn't wait for Jesus to come to them. They brought their friend to Jesus. They went in advance, they were aggressive, they went out there, and they received blessing and miracle as a result. One of my favorite details of dealing with the Sierras is how much snow they had to deal with.

Now we broadcast out every single week, all across the country, all 50 states. Show of hands, what state in the lower 48 do you think gets the most snow? Show of hands, do you think it is Utah? All my friends in Salt Lake are like, yeah, Park City. Do we think it's Montana? Come on, raise your hands, do you think it's Montana? Do we think it would be Nevada? The answer, of course, is California. California gets the most snow, specifically the Sierras, of anywhere in the lower 48. The two years that they were building this railroad, there were 44 different storms, 1865 to 1867. In that two year long period, they had an average of 18 feet of snowpack on the summit, and would get snowstorms that would drift snow up to 40 feet high. The workers had to build tunnels to get back and forth in the snow. And they even had windows in their tunnels, and they literally would go months and months without ever seeing the outside world. They would just go from where they slept, and then go through an ice tunnel to get to where they worked, and then back to sleep again.

So much snow took place that even though they had finished the track in some places, the trains kept getting stopped on the track they had built, because the snow was on the track. So do you know what they did? They did two different things. Well, they did a lot of things, but my two personal favorite, is number one, they had 5,000 men dedicated at all times to doing nothing but snow removal, up to 5,000 men just doing nothing but trying to keep the tracks free of snow so the trains could. Now that is not a long term, viable strategy, right? You can't just keep doing that forever. We're just going to always have 5,000 guys just on standby every time a train rolls through, you can't support that business model. The second thing they did, was they built the largest snow plow ever built in history.

Here's a photo of it. This sucker took three engines, three locomotives stacked together, to push it on the track, and even it would be stopped half the time by the drifts that it would encounter. And so they got together, the big four, all the workers, they got together, and someone said, look, we just we cannot keep trying to keep the snow off the tracks. We need to keep it from ever hitting the tracks in the first place. And so what he proposed, which was laughed at as ridiculous at first, was to cover the vulnerable portions of track with snow sheds. And so that's just what they did. Here's a photo of the snow sheds which ran for nearly 50 miles through the mountains. And it was a huge incursion of cost, that cost $25 million in today's money to build. They had to have 65 million feet of timber, 900 tons of bolts and spikes. One single stretch of them ran continuously for over 28 miles. But once they were built, no snow ever landed on the tracks ever again, it all just ran off to the sides.

And they were one of the most brilliant things that had been accomplished, have ever been accomplished. Because what they realized was, once you have these over the tracks, we're not having to waste so much energy and time keeping things off the tracks that never needed to land on them in the first place. Which brings us to Malachi chapter 3, where God says, "'Will a man rob God?'" verse 8, "'But you've robbed Me.' 'In what way, you say, have we robbed you God?'" Well he says, "'In tithes and offerings. You're cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into,'" and underline this word, "'storehouse, that there may be food in My house. And try Me now in this,' says the Lord of hosts, 'If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not even be room enough to receive it.'" That gets highlighted a lot, but I think we tend to forget the next part, which is equally important. "'And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,' says the Lord of hosts, 'All the nations will look upon you and call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,' says the Lord of hosts".

And I love this verse and, it's a perfect picture for us to say, to be continued going in to next week. Because here He says if you guys would be willing to stop robbing me, and that is an interesting phrase that God would use it, because God can't have less resource, right? So the only thing I can rob God of is his ability to bless me. So it's not that he's worried about money, it's that he's sad, as a father, that he cannot give the blessing He wants to give. But not only does he want to give blessing, which He always does, when we have that posture of giving, but it's also about what He stops from hitting us. He says, should you be willing to take Me seriously, at My call to honor Me in the tithes, and offerings above, and beyond that, I will rebuke the devourer, and he will not be able to land blight on your life, darkness on your life. He will not be able to wither on the vine. In unpacking what this means, Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary series, the BE Series, which he has written, which any aspiring students of the scripture, I would point you to the BE Series by Warren Wiersbe, he's written a commentary in every book of the Bible. He did that before he went to heaven.

Well done Dr. Wiersbe. I don't even know if he's a doctor, he should be, anybody who does 66 commentaries. He says that any money we fail to bring to God when he calls us to bring him the tithe, is money we will forfeit anyway. He says it's money that will end up going to the mechanic, going to the doctor, or going to the insurance company, or to the investment that goes belly up, or sideways. He says, the devourer, when we bring God's blessings on our life, it rebukes the devourer, and keeps him from bringing those things that would harm what we think we know better to hold back from God. And I just got this picture of the snow sheds, and how inefficient it seems, and what a crazy idea it seems, to put these roofs over the tracks. But then I got to thinking about how there are things the enemy wants to land on your life, but by faith, you put that snow shed over your tracks.

And the enemy wants to rain certain things down in your heart in the coming years, and the coming days. It's like that snow that was falling, and we're just spending all that time trying to get that snow away, while all they had to do was to build these snow sheds. And when they were built, they could stand back, and they could look at the storms coming, and they could say let it snow, let it snow, let us snow. And the men had a nickname for the snow sheds, they called them, "The Longest House in the World". And I'm just filled with faith thinking about extending the borders of our house a little longer to reach a few more people, to touch a few more people with the message of the gospel. Is anybody with me, in Jesus's name? And the payoff- the payoffs amazement church, "amazement," is the last word I want you to write down, amazement. What was said, what was said when the man was healed? What was said when the man was forgiven, what was said? It's the last verse in the text, verse 12, "'We never saw anything like this.'"

The story is told that when one of the chief engineers from the Union Pacific got a glimpse of all the track that had been laid, his statement that he exclaimed as he realized, no longer working on the minutia of it, but now when he stepped back and looked at the whole project, supposedly what came out of his mouth was this, "Nothing like it in the world". Nothing like it in the world. I am telling you, church, when we, tie by tie, rail by rail, when we, nail by nail, are a part of what God's doing, I'm telling you what you will exclaim when you throw your hands up and see what God's doing. You're going to say there's nothing like it in the world. Those four friends got to take their friend dancing, nothing like it in the world. No amount of effort, no amount of tearing holes, no amount of work, no amount of sleepless nights, no amount of difficulty, I'm telling you, when you see one person come to Christ, nothing like it in the world.

The thing that God showed me this week I didn't know before, because I finally looked at the Greek word for son, I had never looked at it before. When Jesus said, "Son, your sins are forgiven you". I assumed he was a man, but the word son in the Greek means young man. It's likely he was a teenager, he was a lad. And in my heart, our hope, our prayer, would be for us, going into this coming year, that like never before God would position us to reach the youth of this country, or we'll die trying seven inches at a time.

So Father, we pray for that perspective, we pray for your spirit, we pray for your strength inside of us. And I pray your blessings on all of us, that we all would hear from you how you would have us play a part. Some of us can give in inches, others can give in miles, but I pray that we all, before You would give as a response to what you've given.

If you're here today and you've never accepted Jesus as Savior, there's probably a laundry list of things you need God to do in your life. But Jesus prioritized forgiveness above anything else. If you're here and you say, well, I need a job, or I need a spouse, or I need this in my life, I would just ask you to first consider where are you at with God? For some of us, there's a need to re-up in our passion, our love, to repent from sins. For others of us, there's the need to give our hearts to Jesus for the very first time. We want to close out this worship experience with an opportunity, if you've never yet surrendered your life to Christ, to be able to do that. I believe God will deal with all the other things. I believe, for you, that you'll be able to walk home holding what at one point was holding you back. But it starts with you receiving what Jesus did on your behalf.

And so, if you're here and today you would say, this is my day, this is my time to know that I'm going to go to heaven, to know that I'm loved, to see God fill me with his power, I'm going to pray a prayer, and I'm going to ask our church family to pray it with you. But I want you to say this to God. You're watching this feeling just all alone, on the webcast, or on the podcast, or one of our locations, but God sees you. He doesn't see crowds, he sees individuals. He knows you. He loves you. Say this to him, he'll hear you.

Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I'm lost, broken, but loved. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. Please come into my life. I give it to you now, in Jesus's name.

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