Lenten Devotion 03.24.2014

March 24 – Monday
Fasting Item(s): Computer (except for school) & Video Games.
Today’s Scripture: Mark 9:24 “The father instantly cried out, ‘I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!'” NLT
Question: What unbeliefs get in the way of your faith?
Devotion: I couldn’t imagine having a child with demon possession!  To think about something that is outside of our human understanding and scientific (quantifiable) data is beyond belief.  Or is it?  The father of this boy seems to have some sort of faith in Jesus’ power to heal, but perhaps this man’s unbelief wasn’t centered on the fact that Jesus was indeed the Messiah that prophecy had spoken about.  Before Jesus heals this boy, He tells the crowd, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?  How long am I to bear with you?  Bring him to me.” (Mark 9:19 ESV)  Why did Jesus say this BEFORE He healed the boy?  That’s a bit harsh don’t you think?  Some historians believe that Jesus was speaking to the disciples that were present.  It reveals His disappointment with them and their lack of faith in the Messiah (read Mark 8:16).  Jesus then asks the father how long this has been happening to him and the father responds, “from childhood, and it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him.  But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (verses 21-22 ESV).  Jesus’ response has always and still perplexes me, “If you can?  All things are possible for one who believes.” (verse 23 ESV)  I’ve seen many people say that if you have just enough faith, you can do anything and God will answer your prayer.  They also assume that God will answer it in the way the person offering the prayer decides.  This mentality reaps collateral damage in the hearts of believers.  I know a fellow youth worker whose father had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and a member of their church came and prayed for this man to be healed.  The main focal point of the prayer was that if the man had enough faith in Christ, then he would be healed of ALS.  His daughter (now adult child, my fellow youth worker) was present during this “well intended” minister’s prayer.  The sad reality that ensued months later was that her father did not get better, but rather died and the idea that if only he had more faith, then he would have been healed, lived deep in her heart.  The seed of unbelief had been set deep in her heart because of what she witnessed.  Many tears have been spent helping her deal with this unbiblical take on Mark 9:23.  I have heard similar stories from students that I minister to as well as other adults who are struggling with faith related issues.  The point I try to bring them always back to is this, was it God’s will?  Was it God’s will for this man’s demon possessed son to be rid of evil in his life?  Was it God’s will for my friend’s father to be healed of ALS?  Was it God’s will for the countless faith-centered issues that come up daily to be answered with a “yes”?  Isaiah 55:8 is pretty straightforward in answering our unending questions – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”  If that’s not a “get behind me satan (Mt. 16:23)” comment, I don’t know what is.  I believe that our unbelief centers on this, “do we trust Jesus enough to give us something other than what we ask for?”  Does our hearing a “no”, when we ask for a “yes” add to that unbelief?  Do we throw a fit when we don’t get our way?  Do we dangle “unbelief” in God’s face and say that we won’t believe in Him if He doesn’t give us what we ask for?  Maybe we aren’t much different than Jesus’ disciples in the time period in which Jesus served His earthly ministry. The disciples apparently had taken for granted the power given to them or had come to believe that it was inherent in them (verses 28-29).  A lack of prayer had indicated they had forgotten that their power over the demonic spirits came from Jesus.  Do you sometimes forget where your power comes from?  Do you take it for granted and think that it resides within you?  Does your belief structure center on something that keeps Jesus’ power on the fringes, as a sort of “go to” when you need a little extra?  Now that Jesus is no longer on this earth, are we left to our own devices to find faith in something?  The answer is “no”.  He gave us His Holy Spirit.  In fact He said this about the Holy Spirit, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”  (John 16:7-11 ESV)  May we be a people who center on Christ’s Helper, the Third Person in the Trinity, who is here to convict us of our sin and the righteousness that comes from God alone.  May our unbelief be so small and insignificant that we look at it and laugh, that it no longer has a hold on our lives.  Then we can look at disease and death and laugh at the devil’s schemes and find comfort that Jesus is truly the Messiah and realize that our power comes from Him, crucified and resurrected! 
Prayer focus: Kids and Parents pray for your friends and children in other countries who may not know Jesus.

Here’s the free Lent Calendar to follow along the path God is calling us to. Take others on the journey with you, but not in a “look at us” sort of way. This is a humble journey to be endured with the help of God.

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