Mark 9:17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not. 19 He answered him and said, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me. 20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. 21 So He asked his father, How long has this been happening to him? And he said, From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. 23 Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more! 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could we not cast it out? 29 So He said to them, This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.
Introduction: There is a power among us that is being used but not at its greatest potential. It is the power of faith arising out of failures, disappointments, fears, hurts and frustrations. It is a power which can and will take us to the next place in God’s ordained will for this Church. The key to releasing the possibilities is first a real desire to lay aside petty differences and coming into a corporate agreement with one another that God can do anything but fail us and this mission.
This Church is on a journey and it has been on one for almost 16 years. This journey was birthed out of faith that the victory would come from a vision for a people who have not always had the easiest time in life. At this time in the life of our Church, we are at the edge; we are sandwiched between wilderness and Promise Land. It is a time that changes must be embraced; it is a time when all of us are called to new level of commitment. It is a time of excellency in all our ministries. It is a time of prayer and focus on God who is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph 3:20).
But in order to see that vision turn to victory, we must overcome another hurdle that lie in the way of every saint. A hurdle that has tripped many Christians from seeing vision fulfilled in their individual lives and in their fellowships. That hurdle is unbelief.
What is “Unbelief?” Unbelief is lack of belief or faith in God and His provision. Unbelief does not hinder God’s faithfulness, but it does affect the individual’s ability to receive the benefits of that faithfulness. The unbelief of many Israelites, for example, kept them from seeing the Promised Land.
Heb 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
The unbelief of the Nazarenes prevented them from witnessing Christ’s miracles.
Matt 13:58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Doubting is an attitude that limits us in what we might see or know, while at the same time, “all things are possible to him who believes.”
I know that there are those of us in this room today who believe in Jesus Christ, we believe in the Bible and we believe in miracles. But there are times in our Christian walk when God asks us to do something that appears to be too large for us to handle. It appears to be out of our scope of possibilities. Looking at the task and then looking in the mirror, we often begin to doubt, or just flat out suffer from unbelief.
Mark 9:21 So He asked his father, How long has this been happening to him? And he said, From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. 23 Jesus said to him, If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!
Mark 9:21 (Amplified) And [Jesus] asked his father, How long has he had this? And he answered, From the time he was a little boy. 22 And it has often thrown him both into fire and into water, intending to kill him. But if You can do anything, do have pity on us and help us. 23 And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If You can do anything? [Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes! 24 At once the father of the boy gave [an eager, piercing, inarticulate] cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! [Constantly] help my weakness of faith!
Something happened before Jesus got to this father. The Disciples had tried to cast the demons out but couldn’t. Now here comes Jesus out of the Mountain of transfiguration into this situation. The man had already experienced failure once that day already. So now he faces Jesus with fear, yet wanting help and doubting all at the same time.
Have you ever been there? Have you been at that place where your confidence was shaken? Have you been there? You faced failure and the critics said that you would never get up. Have you ever been there? Fears of past experiences lock you out of future hopes and dreams. Have you ever been there? Wanting God’s hand of mercy to stretch out toward you just one more time and yet while wanting, wondering if you even have the strength to reach up, or to hold on, until your change comes. Have you ever been there? Tired of the punches the devil puts on you day after day. Have you ever been there? One disappointment after another, nothing seems to work out for you, no matter how hard you try. Have you ever been there? Wanting to believe, needing to believe, I must believe and at the same time wishing you had pause button for your mind that would stop the tape of doubt from running. Have you ever been there?
If you have ever been there, you will understand just what happened to this father. The very day that his child was to be delivered, this father got jacked. He was robbed. He believed that this was going to be his day. He came boldly…but the man was robbed. His faith was built up, everything was working in his favor, he couldn’t miss, his heart was right, but he got robbed.
That’s just how the enemy works. You heard from God last Sunday when the Pastor preached “When We Do Things God’s Way,” but then came Monday, or maybe it was Tuesday, or did you make until Thursday, and then came Friday and it looked like, felt like, even smelled like, as a matter of fact, you got all the way home filling like a winner, but you still got robbed.
Now all of a sudden, stuff you believe in, stuff you believed for has been shattered and destroyed. What should you do when your dreams are stolen, what should you do when hope is gone, what should you do when folk have talked you out of your vision, what should you do when you fill helpless and destitute. The Bible gives us the answer.
Some times all we can do is cry out. I’m not talking about some wimpy little cry, I’m not talking about some intelligent cry…I’m talking about a cry that will wake heaven and get God’s attention. I’m talking about the kind of cry that a mother hears when her child is in distress, I’m talking about the way this father cried…Lord I Believe, Help My Unbelief.”
What was this man saying to the Lord? He was saying it is useless for me to try and hide anything from you. I believe, but there is unbelief that still struggles in this heart of mine; but that heart bears me witness that I do believe in you Lord. If distrust still remains, I now disown it, I wrestle with it and I am asking you for help against it.
You see if this man had not had faith, he would have never felt and owned up to the presence of unbelief. It took the strength of the man’s faith to reveal to his own conscious this unbelief. Also, his plea to Christ for help against his unbelief set in motion the power to heal his son. At that very moment, the work was already done and the man got what he wanted. As the disorder and confusion in the crowd was now increasing, Jesus as Lord of spirits gives the word of command to the dumb and deaf spirit to be gone, never again to return to his victim.
1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
1 John 5:14 (Amplified) And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. 15 And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.
I have just one more thing that I want to share with you today about this text.
Mark 9:28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could we not cast it out? 29 So He said to them, This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.
Notice with me these next two scriptures.
Mark 6:7 And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits.
Mark 6:13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.
The Disciples had great success casting out demons and healing people of sickness. But unfortunately they were relying on those past prayers and power. They had God’s power for the old assignment, but they didn’t have God’s power for this assignment.
It wasn’t that these demons were any more powerful than the ones they had driven out before; the problem was that they were depending on their own power and their power didn’t work.
All Satan has to do is get us to trust in our own little strengths and abilities. When that happens, failure is right around the corner and unbelief comes into our hearts. Then all of a sudden, we have questions for God.
Think back for a few minutes over this past year. Can you think of a time when your faith didn’t rise to the occasion? Have you discovered some “cracks in the armor” of your faith? Are there some areas in you life where you haven’t been honest about your doubts? Have you brought it to Jesus and laid it at His feet and said, “I believe, help me in my unbelief?” Are you willing to let Jesus take over and grow you to a deeper level as you face and wrestle with your doubts? God delights in increasing the faith of His children. Maybe what you need to do today is just turn the burdens you are carrying over to God and ask Him to help in the areas you are weak. When you turn it all over, that gives God room to work. When the storm has passed, and it will, you can look back and see how you grew in faith and got closer to God.
It is not God’s intention for us to have doubts and unbelief. It is certainly not His intention for us to stay there. But, He can use it for good and make us stronger through it. Don’t stay in the land of doubt, with God’s power, push through to greater faith.