When Faith Falters
A. For Peter, James and John life was incredible. They had witness Jesus radiating like the sun; they had seen two great heroes (Moses and Elijah) who were dead, but obviously living talking to Jesus; they had heard the voice of God speaking and affirming Jesus as the one to whom we should listen and now it was time to come down from the mountain. I can imagine how they wanted to share, maybe even try to one-up, with the other disciples what happened up on that mountain.
B. Mountain top experiences are exhilarating. One reason why I love when you all get invested into some type of local ministry or go on a trip somewhere to serve others is the passion you have when you talk about that experience with the congregation. Kids that love church camp come home excited, but they miss camp, and Sunday school or my preaching is just not camp. They want that camp experience all the time and find that doesn’t happen.
C. The problem with mountain top experiences is they are difficult to keep when you are not on that mountain. So how do live life, how to find faith when you’re not on the mountain hearing God speak? Instead you may be dealing with a financial issue that feels like it will destroy your family? How do find faith when a person you care about no longer cares about you; or your relationship with a spouse, child or what you thought was a great friend now feels distant or they has broken the trust in your relationship? Keeping your faith in the spiritual desert is not easy.
D. Platitudes and slogans are nice, but they don’t help me find faith when I feel like mine is faltering or failing. I love scripture, but when I am hurting deeply, I don’t need you to tell me, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” All you did was aid in my feeling that maybe I don’t love the Lord enough. Faith is not easy when fear or pain flood my soul.
I. The Scripture Setting
A. Matthew, Mark and Luke all put our text today on the heels of the mountain top experience that Peter, James and John had. I want to set the stage for this lesson by help you to see this story in its context. They come down from the mountain and Jesus finds his disciples arguing with some scribes. He asks them why the argument and we get this answer. Read Mark 9:17-19.
B. You need to understand that the disciples had been sent out previously and were given power to heal the sick and cast out demons, this was not something they had never done. But for some reason they were unable to cast out this demon. I don’t know what words were said, but I do know one answer.
C. After everything was done, we see this. Read Mark 9:28-29. What was their problem? Was it they didn’t pray first or was because they didn’t bring God into the healing? Matthew records Jesus telling them that is was because of their little faith.
D. Faith is the very center of this narrative. It is the core of the teaching of Jesus. With0ut faith we have nothing. Do I have faith, conviction, true belief that God has the power over everything – even demons?
E. When Jesus said, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you.” I don’t think he was talking to scribes. I believe he was speaking to his disciples.
F. It must have been a great shock that these men were not able to cast out this demon when they had cast out other demons in the past. But faith is the key, so let’s see what happens next.
II. Help My Unbelief
A. This part of the story absolutely hits me hard. I feel so much emotion in this father and I find myself sometimes saying his words. READ mark 9:22-24.
B. I want to start by saying this father was honest. He didn’t try to play a game with Jesus. He didn’t try to say the right religious words to sound like he had more faith than he did, he simply stated where he was at that moment. “I believe, help my unbelief.” This dad simply didn’t understand all that was happening.
C. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in Jesus. He did, he brought his child to Jesus. It was an admission that he just didn’t know how to have a faith in this trial. Sometimes all I have is “maybe.” Sometimes the best I can offer Jesus is the truth that I want to believe, I know I should believe, but right now I feel like my world is in a free-fall and I can’t fix it.
D. Personally, I believe we grow more when our faith is tested than when everything is a mountain top experience. Faith finds its strength in the valleys of life.
E. Be honest with your weakness. Speak them to Jesus. You just might find that when you reach out your hand, he lifts you up and you can walk in ways you didn’t realize.
A. When Peter walked on water everything was great until he took his eyes off of Jesus and saw the wind and the waves. Then, when is faith faltered he began to sink. But he did the best move possible – he reached out and called for Jesus. Just listen to one statement (READ Matt. 14:31-32). It’s that last phrase I want you to ponder as we close. “When they got into the boat.” Here is what I believe, when Peter reached out for Jesus, Peter walked on the water with Jesus back to the boat.
B. Yes, sometimes you doubt. Yes, sometimes fear feels overwhelming. Yes, sometimes pain is so deep you either question God or get silent with God. But when you want some help with your unbelief, I want you to reach out your hand to the one who saves. Together, you and Jesus can walk back to the boat – on the water.
C. For most of you, your faith is growing and you are walking well even with the world in chaos over this virus. But if your faith has felt some doubt, if your anxiety is growing faster than your peace with God, reach out your hand to Jesus. He will lift you up and bring you back to the boat.
Because of Jesus,