Summary: Faith is the catalyst that releases God’s power in the world, but prayer is the key to building unwavering faith.
December 29, 2002
Text: Mark 9:14-29
Title: All Things Are Possible
I have been praying a lot about what it is going to take to see this church grow to where it should be, and then keep growing. You see I don’t want to go off on some tangent that seems right to me without knowing for sure that God is behind it. So I spend a lot of time trying to discern God’s will for this church and for my ministry here. God has really been speaking two things to me specifically. One is to preach the word. Continue to study and prepare and know the word of God so that I can present it in a logical and understandable fashion that the church would be edified by it.
The other thing the Lord is speaking to me is the need for prayer. On Thursday mornings we have women’s prayer and on the first and third Fridays of every month we have Prayer Alive. These are great times and I encourage you all to be a part of them if possible. That’s just part of what the Lord is saying to me about prayer. We need to pray more as individuals. Our prayer lives are lacking, often because we can’t find the time to pray. But our spiritual authority is lacking because we fail to find the time to increase our faith by praying. Classic Christian writer John Bunyon wrote, "You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed."
Now this is what God is speaking is to me as a pastor and, I believe, all other pastors, and also to all who are active in churches everywhere.
Today we see a story of a boy with an evil spirit and the circumstances surrounding the healing of this boy. In this passage, as in many others, there are many players and many sub-plots.
Leading up to this episode, Jesus had been on the Mount of Transfiguration with three of His disciples. When they came down they found the other nine in a heated discussion in the middle of a large crowd.
I. The argument. What was it about? Look at the whole passage. The apostles, the scribes, the crowd was involved. What do we know about the scribes? They were the teachers of the Law - Jewish lawyers. They did not have any authority of their own. Matt 7:28, "When Jesus had finished saying these tings, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He spoke with authority and not as their teachers of the law." Jesus often rebuked them. Luke 11:46-53 "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. Woe to you experts in the law, because have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say." This gives us some indication as to what was going on.
The apostles. Mark 3:14-15, "He appointed twelve - designating them apostles - that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons." Jesus had given them authority over demons but now here they were arguing with the scribes instead of performing miracles. What happened? The scribes were looking to catch Jesus in a mistake. The nine couldn’t do what Jesus had given them authority to do. The scribes began to argue. The one time that the apostles were unable to bring a cure and the scribes were taking full advantage of it. They simply wanted to discredit Jesus. After all He is the one who supposedly gave them authority. He was their leader. If they were frauds, then Jesus must be one also. Ever have that happen to you? The world is watching you to see if you will make a mistake. They really are watching ministers. Jesus called them (apostles) an "unbelieving generation" for their weakness.
"Unbelieving" indicates a real lack of faith to heal. When they were apart from Jesus, they lost something.
"How long shall I stay with you? How long do I have to be around you? What is it going to take before you get it? But Jesus never gave upon them. He wasn’t condemning them. He was teaching them. J. K. Johnston tells a story of a small town that prided itself in being a "dry" community. But an out of town businessman comes in and decides to open a tavern. He goes through all the proper channels and gets it ready to open. Then the church gathers together to pray that the Lord would not let this bar open. One day before the tavern was to open, while the church was at prayer, a violent thunderstorm arose, and lightening struck the bar burning it to the ground. The businessman sued the church. The church hired a lawyer to argue they had nothing to do with it. After reviewing the case the judge made a preliminary statement, "What ever the out come of this case is, one thing has been established. The tavern owner believes that prayer works. The church doesn’t."