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Fortifying Your Faith–part 2
Learning from the unbelief shown over a possessed little boy,
from Mark 9:14 to 29, part 2
How many of you take vitamins? I believe my mom invented taking vitamins. Growing up, I took at least thirteen vitamins every day–vitamin C, B, D, E, calcium, bone of dragon, eye of newt, and hair of yak. My mom fed us fish, organ meats, salads, and all this before all those were considered important. Vitamins were to help us grow strong and healthy. Good food was to prevent us from getting sick or being weak. We were to depend on all these nutrients to make us strong.
The Lord has good food and spiritual vitamins for us as well. His Word fills us up with good food, then trials work like weights to build spiritual muscle, causing us to grow strong. But strength in the Christian life is not independent strength. It is dependent strength–it’s learning to rely on Christ, His Spirit, His Word, and not ourselves. Spiritual strength can be seen as we grow in faith. Would you be considered a man or woman of faith? Do you live independently or dependently? Do you live by God’s Word or by your ideas? Do you walk through life, every task, every conversation, and every relationship relying on Christ, or relying on yourself?
Now to be a man or woman of faith, you have to be born again–the theological term is regeneration, where God makes you a new person. God must do that before He can give you the gift of faith–regeneration precedes faith. Being born again happens before you respond in faith to God. God must save you first—then you can have faith in God. Why?
You were dead in your sins, Ephesians 2:1. You didn’t seek God, Roman 3. But God loved you, sought you ought, changed your heart so that you could have a relationship with Him. First God saves you, makes you new, gives you a transformed heart so that then you can respond to Him in dependent faith and a change of life-direction in repentance.
Read 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again.” John 1:13, “Who were born, not . . . of the will of man, but of God.” Then once God gives you genuine saving faith, it’s meant to grow. As a genuine Christian, you’re meant to become more dependent with more trust, more reliance and more faith in God. We are to increase in our faith.
I believe that’s why God calls us to be like little children. No matter how tough, or big, or athletic, or mature, or smart we are, we’re still to be little children in our unqualified trust and absolute, dependent faith in Christ. Mature Christians have a strong faith, and a growing Christian has a growing faith. Your faith is not to remain little or weak Jesus says, don’t have a little faith. In Matthew 8:26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.
In our passage today, the Bible describes a weak faith. Mark 9:24, “Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’” God’s Word speaks of a great faith in Matthew 8:10, “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.’” Finally the Word of God even talks about abounding in faith in 2 Corinthians 8:7, “But just as you abound in everything, in faith . . . and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also.”
Faith is so important–we live by it, walk by it, overcome the world with it, and without faith we can’t please God at all.
Galatians 2:20, “we live by faith”
2 Corinthians 5:7, “we walk by faith”
1 John 5:4, “we overcame the world by faith”
Hebrews 11:6, “without faith, it is impossible to please God”
And today in our study of Mark, we’re going to learn how to fortify our faith. Open your Bibles to Mark 9:14 to 29 as Jesus and three of His disciples come off the mountain high back to real life. Today it’ll be faith in Christ that delivers an only child from a vicious demon. What’s been happening in Mark? In our verse by verse study in Mark 8, the Lord told His men plainly He was the Messiah, who must suffer, die and rise again. Therefore, if we know Christ, we will also deny ourselves and follow Him.
Then in Mark 9:1 to 13, Jesus proved it was all true by the Father causing Christ to be transfigured. The God-man revealed the visible glory of God as brilliant as the sun. Then a glorified Elijah and Moses discussed the Lord’s coming death in Jerusalem, proving that the cross was God’s predetermined plan, and Christ is the Old Testament promised Messiah. So God the Father commanded the three to listen to Jesus.
Now in Mark 9:14ff, it is the day after the Transfiguration–Jesus and the three come down the mountain and they get whacked. The nine disciples who stayed behind failed to deliver a little boy from a demon. Some hateful scribes use this failure to insult the disciples and especially Jesus in front of a crowd of people. The boy remains unhelped, still possessed by a cruel demon, and the father of the little boy is now desperate.
Jesus and the three arrive in the midst of this chaotic scene–from a heavenly mountain to a harsh valley, from a vision of deity descending down to a vicious demon. We studied verses 14 to 19 last time, and discovered some principles to fortify our faith. Last week taught us we are to be . . .
#1 Avoiding Spiritual Distraction Verses 9 to 13
As they come off the mountain, instead of focusing on the deity of Christ and His mission to die on a cross for the sins of His children, they were distracted by lesser thoughts. They also failed to be . . .
#2 Acknowledging You Need Difficulties Verses 14 to 15
Read verses 14 and 15, “When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him.” You can’t grow to be more like Christ, and can’t grow stronger in faith unless you live with trials and difficulty. Just like working out means lifting weights to grow muscle, growing in faith means enduring difficulties to grow spiritually. Plus to grow in faith you must come to the place where you are . . .
#3 Admitting the Frailty of your Faith Verses 16 to 19
You can’t get faith by your choice, nor can you live by faith in your own strength. And this situation reminds you to turn to God to gain faith, and as a believer to depend on God’s Spirit 24/7 to live by faith. This is a tough situation–verse 16, “And He asked them, ‘What are you discussing with them?’” Why do you scribes question them? Our Lord shuts down the scribes with a single question, then hears the father of a possessed little boy describe what happened in verse 17 and 18, “And one of the crowd answered Him, ‘Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.’”
This father’s only son is tormented by a murderous demon. The Greek verbs describe a demon that frequently and suddenly seizes the boy, throws him to the ground, makes him foam at the mouth, grind his teeth and become stiff as a board. Mark tells us the demon tears the little boy to pieces, breaks him, and violently causes him to roll around on the ground. Plus the demon has made the child deaf and dumb, trapping him in his own body as he’s tormented day and night.
Demons are angels who rebelled against God with Satan. They’re powerful, cruel, deceptive and vicious creatures–and we will learn this demon is actually one of the worst. It reminds me of Thomas Sullivan, Jr., a 14-year-old boy scout from Chicago, fascinated with Satan. His dealings with the devil brought him to a place where he was seeking to destroy himself through suicide. But before that happened, he had an argument with his mother about his satanic practices, which resulted in him flying into a rage and repeatedly stabbing his mother to death with his boy scout knife.
He then attempted to burn his own home down, in order to kill his sleeping father and brother who fortunately escaped because of the smoke alarm. Then finally, Thomas Sullivan, Jr. ran into his neighbor’s yard and killed himself by slitting his own throat. Make no mistake, Satan and his demons are murderous. John 8:44, “’You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning.’”
But as sad as this situation is, the good news is this father has no idea that he is now bringing his only beloved son into the presence of God’s only beloved Son. But the bad news is there’s very little faith present. No one is trusting Christ, who just revealed His glory as God. The crowds want a show–the scribes want to belittle Christ. The nine disciples were not depending on Christ in prayer. And the father is doubting whether Christ can help at all. This causes great heartache for our Lord. Look at His response in verse 19, “And He answered them and said, ‘O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?’” They weren’t exercising faith. They were not depending on Christ. Even the nine disciples tried to accomplish God’s work in their own strength.
This demonstrates that Christ is not tolerant—the highest value of our day, where He overlooks people’s differences with Him. No, Christ is patient, but you can see here His patience will not last forever. In spite of His own personal pain, instead of feeling sorry for Himself, our Lord looks beyond His emotions and lovingly commands the crowd at the end of verse 19, “Bring [carry] him to Me!”
The surest way to avoid pessimism and despair is to take what immediate action we can, and there’s always something to be done. Our Lord is ready to show His power and give His amazing love. That was all last week—what happens next? To grow in faith you must be . . .
#4 Appreciating Your RELATIONSHIP with Christ Verses 20 to 22
Even though Christ is now veiled again, even though He looks just like a man and not the God-man, though Christ is not shining as bright as the sun in His divine glory, the enemy instantly knows who Jesus is. He is God, Creator, with all authority over heaven and earth, man and demons. And this vicious demon knows what’s going to happen next. Look at verse 20, “They brought [carry] the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth.”
Don’t lose focus here–these verses may make you think all about demons, but that is only the backdrop to seeing the power, authority and heart of our Lord Jesus. The very moment this demon saw Christ, what’d he do? With unbridled hate for God the Son, the demon instantly threw the child into uncontrollable, violent shaking in a final attempt at killing or maiming the boy. The tenses of the verbs in verse 20 are terribly graphic. He was continually being slammed on the dirt, rolling on the rocks and foaming at the mouth.
It was not a pretty scene, so in order to help the father and his only boy, the Lord draws the father out by asking in verse 21, “And He asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’” And he said, ‘From childhood.’” Our Lord is a sympathetic physician. Jesus doesn’t need this information, but the father needs to recall just how long this has been going on in order to be all the more thankful for the miracle about to take place through the Lord. In drawing the Father out, Jesus allowed him to unburden himself, and to recognize the desperate need of his boy’s plight.
Imagine how the father felt each time the boy was attacked. What was it like, as a dad, to see your own son maimed with scars from being burnt, wallowing in the dirt, staring up at him with an unearthly look, through terror-filled eyes? His son could not talk nor hear a word–yet He could see and perhaps he could even plead for help through his eyes. Can you imagine the pain and heartache of this father?
When my boys were growing up, I rose and fell with their rejections and successes. There were times I would rather have taken a beating than see my sons endure what they had to experience. There were times I wanted to trade their pain and accept it as my own rather than to have them endure through some struggle. And this has been going on since the boy was a young child, telling us he is still a child–but this has been going on most of his life.
And this young boy is not only experiencing violent seizures, but this child actually has a murderer trying to kill him. I actually had someone threaten to kill me once, and mean it. It was not a pleasant experience. It affected our relationship. There was a young man who threatened to violently end my life at some random moment of his choosing. Imagine someone actively seeking to kill you–then realize that this possessed boy has a spirit-being living inside of him who has taken control of his life, and is actively trying to kill him. Imagine having a creature living in you, controlling you, shutting down your speech and hearing, and continually trying to kill you.
The father tells Jesus this in verse 22, “’It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.’” With all the open fires and small bodies of water in the area, this demon often threw the boy into a seizure by a fire to burn him alive, or by a body of water in order to drown him. This little son required 24/7 attention, and anyone working with a handicapped child knows just how demanding that can be.
But what’s it like to have your own pre-meditated murderer controlling you and living in you? The father knew these events were not by accident. Behind them was obvious demonic malice. The Greek word for “destroy” in verse 22 means to kill, to murder this little boy. How that father hurt. Then consider how Jesus felt. He cared like no one ever cared, and this father could see it in our Lord’s eyes. There never has been compassion like that of Jesus Christ. And this divine compassion is what drew out the father’s desperate cry at the end of verse 22, “’But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!’”
It seems the father knew Christ could deliver his son, but the father’s faith had been badly shaken by the disciples’ failure to help his son. Look at the first word of verse 22, “But.” The father is making a strong contrast between the desperate need of his boy with a murderous demon inside of him, contrasted with the potential power of Jesus to actually do something about it. To this father, the failure of the disciples splashed over on Christ. And the father was no longer certain that the Master Himself had sufficient power for this really tough demon. He is battling with his faith–he’s uncertain, doubtful, wavering.
So the father pleads in verse 22, “’Take pity on us.’” Have compassion on us. Be deeply affected in your inner being for us–be moved in your gut. Then, to call for help, verse 22 is a desperate cry for immediate aid. And did you see the “us”? Help us. That “us” links the father with the son, telling us like a compassionate dad, he’s just as miserable as his son. Deliverance for the son will also be deliverance for the father.
Genuine faith is fortified when you know Christ loves you. Christian brothers and sisters–it is more important to focus on Christ’s love for you, than on your love for Christ. You must be convinced He died for your sins, but daily you must also be certain Jesus currently, massively, and continually loves you. First John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” Jesus Christ loves you Christian. Jesus Christ reminds you . . .
Matthew 7:9 to 11, “’Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!’”
Want to grow in your faith? Begin each and every day convinced of the massive love of Christ for you. One great Bible teacher I knew started every day looking in the mirror. After laughing at his appearance he would smile, then repeat ten times in prayer, “Jesus loves me.” To grow in faith, appreciate the loving relationship Christ has with you as His child. This father is uncertain, so Jesus exposes his need to be . . .
#5 Accessing the POWER of FAITH Verse 23
Do you genuinely believe all things are possible to him who believes? Have you been disappointed by prayers that were not answered in the way you were hoping? Ever found yourself angry at God for seemingly remaining silent when you had a huge need? This is where the father is at. The disciples failed to help. Maybe Jesus will fail as well. Maybe Christ is unable to help. So Jesus says in verse 23, “And Jesus said to him, ‘”If You can?” [able] All things are possible to him who believes.’”
Look at this verse carefully–it’s a key to understanding the heart of Christ. If you can? The boy’s father just said, “If you can do anything,” and Jesus is responding back in essence, “You say, ‘If you can’ to me, but that isn’t the issue. Of course I can. No, my friend, the burden is on you, because everything is possible for him who believes.” Jesus is standing nose to nose with the man, and challenging him to believe, encouraging him to believe–will you trust that I am able?
So do you trust that God is able? Like in Mark 10:27, “Jesus said, ‘With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’” Do you believe God is able–yes or no? He’s the Creator of the universe. He left Heaven to be born a man. He died for you. Do you trust Him? Will you believe He’s able for your need? Your answer should be yes, but it has to be conditioned, yes–God is able to do anything and God can do the impossible. But He will only do that which is consistent with His character and according to His perfect will.
Your answer should be just like the answer Jesus gave to His heavenly Father. God will answer my prayer. God is worthy of my trust. I can trust Him and believe Him for anything. Yes, but He will answer–but always according to His will.
Look at how Jesus answers this question in Mark 14:36, “He [Jesus] was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.’” God is able to do the impossible, but He will only do that which is consistent with His character and according to His perfect will. God will answer your prayer with a “Yes, no, or wait,” but it will always be according to His perfect plan. John 14:13 and 14, “’Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.’”
“In my name” means according to my character, according to my person, consistent with who I am. “In my name” . . . ask anything according to my will and according to my character and the answer is yes. Trust God–He will always do what’s best. To grow in faith is to believe God is able–He can do anything, but He will always do what’s best, according to His character and perfect will. So how do we see God do the impossible? Be . . .
#6 Appropriating TRUST in God’s Word Verses 24 to 27
Verse 24, “Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said,“I do believe; help my unbelief.” This is one of the most abused verses in the Bible today. People have ripped it from its context and made it the rationale for saying all their wishes will come true if they can just work up enough faith. There are some who teach that faith can control God–that if you believe enough, God has to do what you ask. My friends, that is not found in the Bible–that is not true. That is a manmade, man-centered religion. Faith depends, not demands. The fact is, faith must never go further than God’s clear Word. Whatever goes beyond God’s Word is not faith, but something else.
For example, if you’re really concerned over your child’s health, and you desire for their recovery from a serious sickness, but you say, “I believe Christ will heal him. I will pray in faith, so now I know God must answer my prayer to heal my child”–that is not faith. That prayer goes beyond God’s Word. Certainly Christ can heal your child, but Christ has not told you He will heal your child, nor guaranteed He will heal your child. True faith prays affirming Christ can heal, but also trusting Christ may choose not to heal your child for His glory and your good.
Our God alone sees the big picture, and will always do what is best. True faith in God and His Word always submits to God’s will. Do you trust Christ and His Word more, or trust yourself more? Now there are times, sadly, when we don’t believe God can do anything. We fail to believe the promises of God’s Word, nor trust that God can do the impossible. But we should never cross the line of presuming we know more than God, or God must do what we want.
The father wants to trust Christ, but wants help with His doubts. Verse 24, “Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’” In the middle of this crisis, the father pours out his heart. He did have faith in Christ–but he also knew his faith was imperfect, being harassed by doubts. The father’s answer is only five words in Greek, but these five show us two truths:
1) a sincere profession of faith: “I do believe.”
2) a moving request, “Help my unbelief,” meaning, “Continue moment by moment to come to my aid, so I may overcome my unbelief.”
Like our faith sometimes, the father’s faith is frail. In this crisis, the father is desperate and at the brink of despair. I’m sure God has brought you to the end of yourself through some crisis, where you finally gave up relying on your resources, your ideas, your abilities, your friends and put your trust in Christ. Though imperfect, the father believed Christ and His Word, that God can do anything. Even in his imperfect faith, the father’s heart turns to depend on Christ and His Word. So in verse 25, “When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.’”
When they first saw Jesus arrive on scene, they all ran to welcome Christ. Then it seems as Jesus dealt with the father and his possessed little boy, the crowd may have given them some space. Yet as a miracle becomes imminent, they all run to Christ again. But Jesus is not interested in ratings or popularity. He doesn’t want to be a showman, but a Savior. So before the gathering crowd grows too large, Christ acts. The King of all kings rebukes the demon, meaning this possession will stop now.
The Lord of all Lords knows exactly who this demon is, verse 25. It’s unclean, having lost its original purity as an angel–this demon seeks to pollute this child with every abomination the Lord hates. And it is a demon which is able to cause deafness and muteness. So the one with all authority over all heaven and all earth commands this nasty demon to come out—clearly, get out! And don’t you love that Mark alone tells us Jesus adds, “and do not enter him again.” You’re through! Get out now and never come back–guaranteeing this little boy and his daddy are free from this torture now and forever.
What happens? Look at verse 26, “After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, ‘He is dead!’” Like a terrifying man-eating animal; growling, snarling, in hateful pretentious resistance, but with no choice but to enter a cage–this demon has no choice but to obey the one true God. But in defiant hatred, it uses the boy’s vocal cords to utter a blood curdling scream, as it throws him down into the dirt to roll around in ongoing, horrifying twists, spasms and shakes, only to finally depart, making it appear as if the little boy had died.
Most of the crowd watching this, potentially some disciples, even the father, may have actually said, “The boy is dead!” The boy now lay still, prostrate on the ground, foam still dripping from his open mouth, his eyes staring blankly at nothing. You can hear the crowd, right? “Jesus cured him alright–he’s dead.”
But verse 27 tells us what really happened. “But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.” The Lord must have smiled–in contrast to the prevailing opinion, the Lord saved this boy’s life and rescued him from a life of torture. The image of God in him was restored, and Satan was defeated again. And with divine tenderness, Jesus gripped his hand, lifted the little boy up, and Jesus literally awakened and recovered him.
The little boy is now vibrant with life—he got up. Luke 9:42 adds more tenderness. Can you picture this sweet moment? After restoring the boy, Jesus “gave him back to his father.” “Here he is, Dad–your boy has been completely restored.” He can hear again, talk again, play with friends again, with no fear of being burned alive or drown. There will be no more stiff, teeth-grinding seizures, and no foaming at the mouth. Here, Dad, is your only son. Can you hear the cheers from the disciples, and see the tears from the crowd?
It was so awesome, Luke 9:43 tells us, “And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.” “Greatness” is the Greek word describing great splendor, majesty and magnificence. It’s the actual word Peter uses to describe the divine majesty of which he, James, and John just saw in the Transfiguration, telling us Luke was probably thinking of the Transfiguration glory when the crowd was all amazed at the greatness of God. Unknowingly, the crowd watching this event was also seeing a glimpse of the kind of majesty the Lord will display at His second coming.
So, who is Jesus? He is God who became a man. Your sin is so bad no religion could fix it, and no good deeds could make it right. So God loved us so much He became a man in order to take care of sin. He died on the cross for your sins, and took the punishment you deserved. And He gave His life so you might live now and with Him forever. And He invites you to give your life to Him by faith. How could you not?
His healings prove His deity over the natural world—Earth. And His authority over demons proves His deity over the supernatural world—Heaven. Jesus Christ has all authority. Every knee in this room will bow. The demon was compelled to obey Jesus–there was no choice. And someday those who bow to Christ now and follow Him will have no choice but to live with Him forever in heavenly perfection. And someday, those who didn’t bow to Christ now or follow Him will have no choice in being cast into Hell forever in agonizing torment. We grow in faith when we rely on and trust in God’s Word. But why couldn’t the nine disciples cast out this demon?
#7 Applying DEPENDENCE in prayer Verses 28 to 29
This is the very question the disciples ask the Lord in verse 28. When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not [able] drive it out?” The Lord and His men have now moved indoors and can talk privately. They’d already been given delegated authority from Christ as apostles to cast out demons. They’d already cast out many demons. So Lord–why did we not have the ability to literally force out this demon? The nine were perplexed and embarrassed by their own failure.
Plus, the Greek text informs us they repeatedly tried to cast it out. While the three were gone at the Transfiguration, the nine attempted several times to eradicate this violent demon. Matthew’s gospel informs us they didn’t lack confidence. “We evoked your name, demanded it leave–but nothing happened. We did it many times before, Lord—why not this time?” Jesus answers them and us in verse 29, “And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot [able] come out by anything but prayer.’”
Answer: You didn’t depend upon Me! You trusted your gifts, your position, and your previous successes. You were confident cause you’re committed to Me, but you didn’t depend upon Me. And this demon was a tough one–there’re many different kinds and ranks of demons, Ephesians 6. And Jesus says this kind is not able to be removed except through dependent prayer.
Matthew tells us the Lord also told His men in chapter 17, verse 20, “He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith.’” They had cast out many demons before, but they forgot that they can do nothing without Christ–they forgot to depend. They forgot to ask. They forgot it was not their power, but Christ’s. They were relying on their past experience, but not on Jesus. They had saving faith, which they could not lose. They had trusting faith to some degree, or they would not have attempted to cure the boy. But they lacked sufficient faith in Christ and His Word to employ the power Jesus had given them in dependent prayer. How about you? Are you depending on Christ or yourself? You know these verses are . . .
1 A challenge to grow beyond LITTLE faith
Little faith is the kind of faith that believes Christ when you have something in your hand, when provision is already made–it’s certain. When things went well, the disciples found it easy to trust Christ. But as soon as their circumstances became difficult or threatening, their faith withered. Great faith trusts God when there’s nothing to eat and no money to buy more food. Great faith trusts God when your health is gone, work has dried up, your reputation is questioned, and your friends have abandoned you. Great faith trusts God while the storm is still howling and the pain continues. Jesus will soon be leaving His men, and living by faith will mean depending on Christ though unseen, just like they did when He was seen. These verses are . . .
2 A reminder about depending on Christ while SUFFERING
This father suffered and so did his little boy. Joni Erickson Tada has said suffering is little splash-overs from hell. So what is it that can make those hell splash-overs sweet? For the genuine Christian, real joy is found in hell splash overs when you experience Christ in the midst of them. Those of you suffering or in severe trial, ask the Lord to show Himself to you in a sweet way in the midst of your trial. These verses are . . .
3 A picture of God’s PATIENCE running out
God is not tolerant–God does not put up with our sin regardless. No–God is patient, and the Lord showed us in verse 19 that His patience will come to an end. Some of you students who’ve rejected your parents’ faith need to know, your time one day soon will run out. Spouses, friends too–God will not put up with your rebellion forever. Judgment will fall. Do not wait until it is too late. These verses are . . .
4 An exhortation to TRUST God’s Word and rest in God’s character
Even with imperfect faith, take your stand upon God’s Word and trust in our Lord, who is compassionate, gracious and tender. The Lord honored imperfect and weak faith, as long as that heart continued to depend on Christ and His Word alone. These verses are . . .
5 A warning to EXPERIENCED Christians
Don’t be like the disciples who trusted in their resources, their experience, their gifts and past successes. Teachers, leaders, disciplers–you can’t serve Christ, live the Christian life, or do anything for God’s glory unless you do it in dependent faith. Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” These verses are . . .
6 A warning of the subtlety of PRIDE and the consequence of sin
It is easy to depend on self or previous experience, and easy to forget that sin in one area of your life affects all other areas of your life. It’s your life which God looks at, not merely what you’re like at church. It doesn’t matter what the sin is–any area of our lives where we live in defiant sin means we are living in the flesh 24/7 until we repent. You’re not a Swanson dinner, but a chicken pot pie. These verses are . . .
7 A call for you to cry out to Christ for FAITH
Faith is a gift from God. Cry out to Jesus Christ to open your heart, and turn to Him in faith. He has to transform your dead heart to one that’s alive. He has to cause you to seek Him. And when He’s working in your heart, you’ll see yourself as a sinner who deserves Hell for your sins. And you will see Christ as the one who died for your sin on the cross and rose from the dead, to give you abundant life now and eternal life forever. Let’s pray.
CHALLENGE–Start praying for one impossible answer for you and one answer for FBC