Thief of Unbelief

Thief of Unbelief 

Daily Reading: (Mark 9:23-25):

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, He rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” He said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

“If you can”. Those are three deadly words that are robbers of grace.

In the middle of their drama, they were amazed to find the grace of God with them and they ran to receive Him joyfully. There is a word for all of us who will go through some extremely difficult, dramatic times in our lives. The grace you need to overcome whatever it is that you face is found in Christ Jesus who is with you now, receive Him joyfully (Mark 9:15).

“So they brought 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” (Mark 9:20). You would think that when the boy was brought to Jesus, he would have instantly been better and the symptoms would have stopped. But the same thing that had been happening to the boy continued. Jesus’ nine disciples couldn’t do anything for the boy and here at this moment in the presence of Jesus it appears the boy is not doing any better.

“Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him” (Mark 9:21-22).

The father thinks back to how long his son has suffered. The past has made the man believe that his future will be no different. As believers, we can look at our past, and have our past tell us something different, that in Christ, everything has changed (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

God’s grace and His favor is upon your life, believe and receive the grace that you need to overcome whatever it is that you face.

Verse 22b “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Now Jesus has an issue with three words that are robbing this man from receiving the compassionate grace of God.

In the Gospels, Jesus consistently affirms those who express faith and rebukes those who express doubt and unbelief. The leper He healed is a great example. This man said to Jesus, “If you will, you can make me clean” (Mark 1:40). This is a declaration of faith, and it moved Jesus to a compassionate response of healing.

But the father of this afflicted boy said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us”. “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” The statement for your life in Christ that will lift you up in your darkest days and give you the greatest hope in your most trying times, is when we properly understand this verse in the Greek. “Can you believe that all things are possible to Him [Jesus] who is always believing?” It’s not about how well or how much you can believe, but who you will believe. Jesus is the only one whose faith is always constant and never wavers. His faith never fails! And if you can believe that all things are possible for Jesus who never doubts, never wavers, then you are on your way to your miracle!

When there’s a problem, a strategy of the devil is to get your attention onto fixing the thing that’s not broken. If Christ lives in you, then there’s nothing wrong with your faith. But you still might have a problem with unbelief. God’s will is to heal, but unbelief will limit the power of God in your life.

Don’t worry about your faith, you already have enough to move your mountain, apply the hammer of God’s word to your unbelief and be ready to receive your miracle.

The Adventures of Four

Adventures of Four

Daily Reading: (Matthew 17:1):

“After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.”

Today I want to look at Jesus’ inner circle and what this means for us in our pursuit of disciple making. So out of the 12 there are 3 who had the privilege of being with Jesus in some very special moments where the others did not. Peter, James and John. Every time in Scripture the three are mentioned always in this same order. Their names in this order communicated a message of what Jesus was here to do on earth.

The stone (Peter)—which the Law was written on was supplanted (James) and replaced by God’s grace (John). 

 “After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John…”

Matthew wants to let us know it has been six days since the last recorded detail of Jesus’ life. By doing this we are instantly connected to the past six days and the heaviness of Jesus’ words where He prophesied about His own death and the kind of things the disciples would experience. Jesus is preparing the inner three for more responsibility than the rest. Within the various individuals that you will disciple there will be some who you should spend more time with. Everyone is unique and different and some are going to take on more of a leadership role in the future.

Luke chapter 9 tells us that “Jesus brought them up the mountain to pray.” Luke shows Jesus’ dependence on God the Father. I can not, but He can and He did and in Him and through Him nothing is impossible. This is what the disciples needed to learn because Jesus was soon to ascend to Heaven.  In this time of God’s grace that we live in, we need to place our total dependence on God. The three disciples are taken to prayer because prayer is dependence on God, invoking His power, grace, love, and goodness.

Peter near the end of his life reflects back on this moment in his life and says in 2 Peter 1:16: “but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” What does the Mount of Transfiguration that the three disciples were privy to have to do with me? As you behold the glory of the Lord your life is forever changed. There is power for healing, freedom from addiction, and peace to a troubled soul.

When Jesus transfigured there were two well-known individuals that were there Moses and Elijah. “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” What did the three disciples need to hear that day? What do disciple-makers need to do for those they are discipling? Bring them to grace. Listen to the voice of grace only. The names of the three testified to what was on display on the mountain that day. The Law was supplanted by God’s grace.

Matthew 17:6 “And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one” (Matthew 17:6-8). The word “arise” (Matthew 17:7) is in the passive voice. What Jesus is telling His disciples is to “allow yourself to be lifted by God.” And when you are lifted, you realize that you stand on equal ground with Him because you have been given His righteousness. This is our job as disciple-makers to allow people to be lifted by God’s grace. Jesus died to give you His standing. This moment with the three is a beautiful picture of God’s grace.

What About the 9?

We know what was happening with the three who experienced God’s grace on the Mount of Transfiguration but what about the other nine who were not with Jesus at this moment in time?

Matthew 17:14-16: “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.They were amazed to find the answer to their problems, not in themselves, but in the Lord” (Mark 9:15). The reason the nine could not drive out the demon is they tried in their own strength. The answer was always in the Lord, it is in His grace that we receive power and authority to drive out demons. It happens in the name of Jesus.

Have you wondered why the disciples were not able to heal this boy because they were successful in other places, driving out demons and “healing people everywhere” (Mark 6:13, Luke 9:6). Their past success puzzled even them when they failed on this occasion: Matthew’s Gospel says – “Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Matthew 17:19).

Jesus’ answer to their question why they could not drive out the demon and heal the boy might answer questions you might have about why more people aren’t healed today. The answer is not their faith, but their unbelief.

Natural unbelief is fueled by what we see and hear. We get a bad report, x-ray or scan and believe the worst. We’re now walking by sight rather than faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Even if we have faith, our unbelief will send us to the Internet looking for reassurance and hope. We may be declaring the promises of God over our situation but at the same time we’re feeding our doubts by focusing on our circumstances. Some translators equate unbelief to having little faith, but Jesus clearly says right after this “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Little faith is not the issue. If little faith can move a mountain, it can surely heal one small boy. It’s not about the size of your faith but whether your faith is handicapped by doubt and unbelief (Matthew 17:21). How do we deal with unbelief? Starve our doubts and fears by feeding on the Word of God and through prayer.

Everything is Possible

Daily Reading: Mark 9:23:

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

When they looked up from the mess they were in, they were amazed to find the answer to their problems, not in themselves, but in the Lord (Mark 9:15).

In order to properly understand the story in Mark 9, imagine you are one of the nine disciples who did not make the journey up the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. A father brings his son to you, the boy has a seizure right in front of you, demonic forces at work in this instance, and you can’t heal him. How would you react? Would you;

  1. a) conclude that it’s not God’s will to heal all the sick?
    (b) tell the father that God can heal but He is not going to heal your son right at this moment – maybe in eternity?
    (c) speculate that the son has some unconfessed sin in his life?
    (d) declare that the boy is healed even though he is still writhing on the ground?
    (e) be puzzled

Matthew’s Gospel gives us the answer to the disciples response: “Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Matthew 17:19).

Jesus’ answer to their question of why they could not drive out the demon and heal the boy may surprise you. It may also answer questions you have about why more people aren’t healed today. So why did the disciples fail to heal this boy? Contrary to what you may have heard, the answer is not their faith but their unbelief.

Note that some translations interpret “unbelief” as “little faith.” So Jesus’ answer in verse 20 begins, “Because of your little faith.” But this is a poor translation that makes Jesus sound like He’s contradicting Himself. The Greek word for unbelief (apistia) in the passage above is the same word used by the boy’s father when he says, “help my unbelief.”

Some translators equate unbelief with little faith, but Jesus clearly says right after this “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Little faith is not the issue. If little faith can move a mountain, it can surely heal one small boy. It’s not about the size of your faith but whether your faith is handicapped by doubt and unbelief.

With the seizing boy, the father, like many of us, wanted God to take responsibility for the healing. “Lord, help us!” Yet Jesus said, “If you have faith, you can heal him.” We think healing the sick is God’s job, but He wants us to do it in Jesus’ name (Mark 16:18).

Why was unbelief a problem for the disciples in this case?

In his book You’ve Already Got It, Wommack identifies three different kinds of unbelief.

1)There’s unbelief that arises from ignorance

(“I didn’t know God heals the sick”)

2) unbelief that arises from bad theology

(“I don’t believe God heals the sick any more”)

3) and unbelief that arises from our natural senses

(“look at the size of that tumor!”).

How do we deal with unbelief? Starve it!

And He replied to them, “This kind (of unbelief) cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29)

Unbelief that arises from ignorance and bad theology can be corrected by showing people the truth (Mark 6:6), but overcoming natural unbelief may require prayer and fasting. If the Internet is fueling your doubts, then stay off the Internet! If your “faith sense” is dull because of your natural appetites, then curb your appetites.

“Your prayer and fasting doesn’t move God. Neither does it move the devil. Fasting and prayer moves you. It affects you… You don’t have a faith problem. What you have is an unbelief problem. Instead of trying to build bigger and bigger faith, we need to stop feeding unbelief (God Wants You Well, p.121,124).

Peter, James, and John

Daily Reading: Mark 9:1-8- And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
Transfiguration from Mark’s writings-
Jesus’ “clothes became dazzling white” (Mark 9:3). Shining, glistening exceedingly beyond measure  of the light and brightness of the snow.
Mark 9:7- Unlike, Moses and Elijah our Lord Jesus Christ will never fail or be discouraged. Grace is greater than the Law and the Prophets, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Mark 9:2-The stone (Peter)—which the law was written on was supplanted (James) and replaced by God’s grace (John).
Transfiguration from Luke’s writings-

Luke’s Gospel varies from Mark’s Gospel in that Luke adds the detail that they went up the mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. (Luke 9:28-29). Prayer brought forth the outward expression of God’s glory.

Transfiguration from Matthew’s writings-
The word “arise” (Matthew 17:7) is in the passive voice.  What Jesus is telling His disciples is- “Allow yourself to be lifted by God.”
When you are lifted, you stand on equal ground with Him. That is what Jesus died to give you, His standing. That is a picture of His grace.