Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jesus, I Do Believe; Help Me Overcome My Unbelief (Mark 9:14-29)

Jesus, Peter, James and John were coming down the mountain…
When they come to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. ‘What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked. A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.’ ‘You unbelieving generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.’ So they bought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?
(Mark 9:14-21,

From childhood,” the father cries helplessly. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Jesus then encourages the man to have faith, to believe in Him. “Everything is possible for one who believes” (9:23). But the confused father cries the words that describe the state of faith in most Christians: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (9:24). When I first read it, it sounds like a contradictory statement. But I personally identify with that man as I heard myself once prayed, “Lord, I believe in You and Your power. But I’m having trouble believing in You for a particular situation. Help me in this area of my faith.” The statement is not contradictory – it’s reality! So, Jesus responded the desperate father by delivering his son from the evil spirit (read Mark 9:25-27).

Faith, in simple terms, is the ability to see and act upon what God can do in a certain situation. For example, Oliver can “see” his friend Khai coming to Christ in the future, so he prays for Khai and invites him often to a campus Bible Study. Supang “see” God active in her life as a result of her personal quite time, so she spends 10-15 minutes each morning before she go to work reading the Word and praying to God. Faith look ahead to see what God wants to do and then acts on what it sees. The Bible uses strong words to describe the role of faith in the Christian life: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6); “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17); “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the apostle Paul said faith was one of the three great qualities in the Christian life – the others being hope and love. In Christian life, faith is indispensable.

But in reality, there are times when our faiths can look ahead and see God at work; but there are also times when doubt, worry and spiritual ignorance can blinded us to what God wants to do. The father in Mark 9 could see God doing somethings, but he couldn’t see his son being delivered from the evil spirit. Oliver can see Khai becoming a Christian, but he has difficulty seeing God at work in his studies, so he worries about CGPAs constantly. Supang sees God at work as a result of her quite time, but sometimes she is unable to see God’s provision for her financial needs, so she seldom gives any generous gift to the church. Yes, faith is sometimes like Kit Kat: now you see, now you don’t. Sometimes I’m able to exclaim, “I do believe!” But at other times I beg God to “help me overcome my unbelief.” And if you feel that way too, take heart. It’s a confession that is common to all hopeful Christians.

Two encouraging messages about faith from God’s Word in Mark 9:14-27 that I learned at this moment. First, God is the One who distributes faith to me (read Romans 12:3). I can’t earn it or buy it – God gives it. Second, faith grows in proportion to my relationship with Jesus and the Word of God (see Romans 10:17). I can expect my faith to grow toward “I do believe” and away from “unbelief” as I relate myself to Jesus and His Word through reading, studying, obeying and sharing the truths in the Bible. It assures me to know that even Jesus’ disciples, though they watched Him minister for three years, were often short of faith (see Mark 9:28-29). Perhaps you, like me, are convinced of your need to grow as men and women of faith. Let us recite the disciple’s prayer for more faith: Lord, Jesus “increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). Amen.

Everything is possible for one who believes

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