A Possessed Boy’s Plight
Throughout the Gospels, we read of Jesus casting out evil spirits and displaying his authority over the demonic world. On Sunday, Pastor Andy highlighted one such story in Mark 9 where a demon-possessed boy was brought by his father to be healed by Jesus. The demonic possession that controlled this boy caused him to be mute, foam at the mouth and to occasionally be thrown to the ground. To put it simply: this young child was living, and had been living for his entire childhood, in complete bondage to demonic activity. He had no control over his body and health and was in a state of utter hopelessness. Do you find yourself in a similar circumstances in relation to his feelings? Are you in a situation in which you have no control over and feel hopeless?
As 21st century Christians, we often read such stories of demonic possession with a skeptical attitude. We often suspect that individuals living in the 1st century were gullible and superstitious, believing that common medical issues ought to be diagnosed as demonic activity. What we fail to realize is that demonic activity was rare and unsuspected even in Jesus’s culture. There were, in fact, individuals who believed the young boy in Mark 9 was suffering from epilepsy or lunacy, rather than demonic possession. We must remember that the same demonic forces that were present during Jesus’s ministry are still at work today, even if they operate in a different manner than they did back then. Do you believe in the unseen spiritual world that we read about in Scripture? Do you believe that Christ has authority over the entirety of the spiritual realm, including Satan and demonic forces?
As Pastor Andy explained on Sunday, Jesus came to destroy the spiritual realm of darkness. Christ was given all authority to cast out demons, to heal and to save the lost. The father of the boy in Mark 9 wanted to see his boy healed and hoped that Jesus could save his child, but lacked the faith that Jesus desired of him. Jesus was both willing and able to heal his son, and all that the father had to do was exercise faith in Jesus. Even with his weak faith, the father cried out to Jesus, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” And by exercising even a small amount of faith, his son was healed, showing us that the amount of faith that one exercises is far less important than the object of one’s faith. Even if you possess weak faith, like the father in Mark 9, are you placing your faith in Christ? Are you believing that he is able and willing to provide for you? If not, what are hoping in?
Jesus, thank you for being a God that is in complete control over our every circumstance. You give us hope when we are hopeless and you provide for us even when our faith is weak. Thank you for being the strong object of our faith. Lord, we ask that you help our unbelief. We ask that you will provide for us and supply us hope when we are hopeless. And we ask that you will give us the courage to proclaim your name to others so that they might know you and experience your love and mercy.
"Behold Our God"
Sovereign Grace Music
A Father’s Doubt and the Disciples’ Lack of Faith
In Pastor Andy’s sermon on Sunday, we saw that doubt and pride were a problem for believers in the 1st century just as they are now. Doubt and pride have a way of seeping into our minds and hearts and lead to a lack of faith. In the story of the demon-possessed boy whose father was desperate for Jesus to heal his son, we see that the father felt hopeless after years of watching his son suffer, causing him to doubt that Jesus or the disciples could actually help at all. Is there anything in your life that—if you’re really honest—you pray for but doubt that God can or will actually do?
This father asked that Jesus rid his son of this demon, but his request carried with it an underlying doubt that Jesus could, or would, do it or cared enough about his son’s plight to do so. It is so easy for us to fall into this same skeptical way of thinking, but we have to remind ourselves that if God can create the universe and love us enough to offer us salvation, then he can surely do anything that we ask, if we truly believe. This father believed, but he asked Jesus also to help the unbelief that was also in his heart. Do you regularly ask Jesus to help rid you of any areas of disbelief in your heart? Is there something in your life that you struggle to fully belief God about?
As Pastor Andy said in his sermon Sunday, it is not the strength of our faith that matters, but the object of our faith, who is strong. When the disciples attempted to cast out the demon from the child, they placed their faith in their own ability to do so and were filled with pride in their abilities. But they weren’t able to accomplish their task. They weren’t able to control the situation. They had gotten caught up in their prior success and forgot that it was Jesus, who they had put their faith in, who gave them their abilities. Do you ever find yourself assuming that you’ve reached success by your our strength? Do you pridefully put more faith in yourself that in Christ? If so, humble yourself and put your faith in Jesus alone. And ask him to help any unbelief that remains.
Father we praise you for being able to do the impossible in our eyes and more than we could ever think to ask. Thank you for being trustworthy and faithful without fail. Forgive us for the times that we doubt your ability to do the miraculous or doubt that you care. We believe that You are faithful and good, but help the unbelief that also springs up in our skeptical hearts.
"Sovereign Over Us"
Jesus's Promise and a Call to Prayer
In response to the desperate father's lack of faith, Jesus said "All things are possible to the one who believes." After seeing his son tormented and abused for years, this father has been made to know his own limitations. He understands that his strength is not enough. To this man, Jesus says all things are possible if the father would only believe in Him. Where the man is weak, ineffectual, and spent, Jesus is strong, sufficient, and unabating. What tasks or responsibilities in your day to day life leave you hopeless? How could Jesus succeed where you have failed?
In a state of vulnerable honesty, the father confesses to Jesus and begs of him, "I believe; help my unbelief!" Jesus had sparked faith in the father's heart, but his faith was just that- a spark. He needed Jesus to fan the spark into a flame that consumed his unbelief. When sin entered humanity, the human mind became riddled with contradictions. Our fallen minds can hold opposing beliefs, and we are hard pressed to see beyond our own sinful views of the world. For the Christian, this can lead to doubt and internal conflict, knowing the truth but having trouble believing it. How did Jesus respond to the father's confession? How do you think God responds to your lack of faith? Be encourage, he is a good father, who is eager to bless with grace and mercy and aid our lack of faith!
Together, nine of Jesus's disciples had failed to cast out the demon before Jesus arrived and healed the boy. Later, in private, He told the disciples that they failed because they did not pray. It seems they were confident in their own ability, having cast out demons successfully in the past. As the father pleaded with Jesus to help his unbelief, so the disciples should have prayed to God to strengthen their faith. On Sunday, Pastor Andy said, "Your faith in Jesus is revealed in your prayer life." Knowing that all things are possible for those who believe in Jesus, consider your prayer life. Honestly, how is your prayer life? Take stock. Affirm your belief in Jesus and ask Him to help your unbelief.
Father, you are the source of our faith and worthy of devotion! Your are sufficient in our failure; in our weakness you are made strong. We are a fickle people, Lord! We are filled with doubt and contradictions. Our faith is unsteady, despite your steady faithfulness. But You are a gracious God, forgiving our shortcomings and delivering us through trials and temptations. You restore our hearts and build up our faith as You draw us nearer to you. Through Jesus, You provide for our weakness and reveal Your glory. Thank you Lord! Give us over to prayerfulness, that our faith would increase. We need you to drive us to our knees, that we may depend on you and carry Your Gospel to our neighbors.
"Christ Is Enough"