Tuesday, February 25, 2014

PRAYING: The Act of Faith (part 1/2)

The past few weeks have been particularly difficult.  With increased appointments and obligations, I have struggled to keep a sense of balance and maintain calmness.  I know this may sound like the norm for most moms but life has been, to say the least, CRAZY!!!  I have struggled to get into prayer and have fought to be able to focus long enough to study and meditate on God’s word.  It has truly been a battle and one that I’m sure all of us fight at some point or another.  Whether it’s kids and situations that arise from raising children, or work, or projects we are engulfed in, there is always something pulling on our time and sometimes we can feel like we’re drowning in it all. 

That’s how I have felt the past few weeks.  I have three children (twin 6 year olds and an 11 year old with special needs who often requires extra doctor visits) who are home-schooled and involved in scouts and the YMCA.  I teach Speech and French in a home-school coop.  Within the coop I also help with fundraisers and am working on our 2015 trip to France.  I am in school, studying to finish my degree.  I am involved in leadership in our church and teach a small, home-based Bible study on Friday nights.  I also write and love to read whenever I can. 

I didn’t say all that to complain.  In fact, I LOVE being a part of every single thing and am blessed by each area I am involved in!  I listed the condensed version of my schedule to show you that I truly know what it means to be overwhelmed at times. 

So in the midst of all this, I have been seeking God for direction and wisdom.  I began to study Mark 9 and the story of the father who brought his possessed and sick son to Jesus.  (The story can be found in Matthew 17:14-20).

Here we see that the disciples have begun to work under the direction of Jesus and a man whose son was possessed.  He has attempted to commit suicide by being thrown into the fire or the water.  By the way, this is just another example of the enemy seeking to steal, kill, and destroy!  So, the father, being at the end of his rope, takes the boy to the disciples to see if there’s anything they can do.  Surprise!  They can’t!  There comes some discussion about it and a crowd is coming to see what’s going on.  Everyone seems to want to find the latest and biggest scandal to stand and watch.  But I love that Jesus comes to put it all to rest with a simple display of love and who He is!  Jesus comes up and says, in verse 16, “What are you discussing with them?”  The father steps forward and tells Him that his son is possessed and he came to them for help but they couldn’t do anything for his son.

*** What happens next has been a huge mystery to me until this week.  The whole purpose for writing tonight is because of this revelation and understanding of God’s word! ***

Jesus stops and looks at the disciples.  He says in verse 19, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?”  In Matthew, we hear Jesus say “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?”  These were HIS disciples and He was calling them faithless and perverse! 

As I prayed over this statement and the serious spanking the disciples just got from Jesus, I started asking God to show me why.  It bothered me that He would say this to them.  Jesus used the word faithless.  The original Greek word is apistos, which means disobedient, untrustworthy, or unbelieving.  As the Holy Spirit began to open my understanding to what Jesus was saying, I started realizing that they were imperfect too.  It was not because of their imperfection though.  It was because they allowed the muck of the world to distort, and pervert the truth and purity of what Jesus was giving them!  They had been brought out of the world but were still covered in the filth of the world.  

I picture it like driving through all of the snow and muck of winter!  We’ve gotten some pretty heavy snowfall this year and the roads are covered in the nasty sand and salt that they use to keep the roads clear.  You can see it in the horrid shade of brown snow on the sides of the road!  I wouldn’t dare eat it much less touch it.  It is NASTY snow!  However, when it’s all over and the snow is gone, we have to wash the muck and grime away and off the cars.  Why?  Because it will begin to eat at the paint and erode the body causing rust and decay.  Eventually it breaks down the integrity of the body of the car!

Imagine that.  They were covered in the stuff they were driving through.  The grime, the muck and the stuff that is supposed to get rid of the clean white blanket that covers everything and makes it white as… snow!  They were set free from it when they chose to follow Jesus but it still covered them and was causing disbelief and disobedience. 

So now we have Jesus dealing directly with the father of the possessed boy.  He just witnessed the rebuke of the disciples and probably is a bit humbled by it.  Jesus asks him how long the boy has been like this.  I believe Jesus knew.  He knew everything about this man and his son!  This was a divine set up!  The father tells him and then says “IF you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  He had lost hope and had no trust in God.  He had been let down time and time before and hurt by each and every disappointment.  Disappointments led to him not being able to trust anyone and doubt every claim put before him.  BUT, this is Jesus!

Jesus says to him in Mark 9:23, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  He threw that IF right back out and reminded the father, and everyone around, who He is!  I believe this also reminded the demon who He is, as Jesus asserted His authority!

This is the turning point in the story!  The Father repents saying, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”  This has also caused me some confusion in the past because how can someone believe and not believe all at the same time?  However these are two different words in original Greek that it was written in.  The word belief is actually the word pisteuo, which means trust or have faith in – to submit to authority, agree with or yield to.  The first thing the father does is put his trust in Jesus and submit to his authority as God The Son!  Then he asks Jesus to “…help my unbelief!”  Here again we see the word, apistos, (the word Jesus used when rebuking the disciples) which is disobedience or unfaithfulness.  After submitting to Jesus, he is now repenting for disobedience!  This marks the invitation for divine intervention into their lives!  THEY GOT SAVED!

Once Jesus revealed Himself to the father and the father understood the greatness of who was standing before Him, the father repented and now the way was made for Jesus to intervene.  That’s when the boy began to convulse.  The devil will never let go without throwing some kind of a temper tantrum and putting on a show!  That never stops Jesus though!   

***Just a side note for the “church folk” out there.  Jesus didn’t have a conversation with the demon.  He didn’t stop to find out what his name was or become familiar with it.  He didn’t take a week to study up on it and pray about it!  Anything you ask it would be a lie anyway because satan is the father of lies and nothing of truth can come from him so why ask?   Jesus didn’t put on a show, HE ENDED THE SHOW!***

In verse 25 it says, “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!””  Jesus put an end to the show!  He abruptly stopped the attempts at attention and the self glorification!  Why? Because He came to seek and save the lost for the glory of God The Father! 

It was finished and the boy was free.  They were saved and went about their way.  Having seen all of this, the disciples took Jesus aside and asked Him why they couldn’t do what He did.  Jesus replied, ““This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”  (v. 29)  That is profound to me because Jesus was saying, that you have to be constantly in prayer and fasting.  Does that mean never eating and always praying?  No.  It means having the lifestyle of prayer and fasting.  Regularly going to God and regularly surrendering to Him so that the flesh decreases and the spirit increases!  It means that when we get dirty in the sludge we have to get cleaned up so that we don’t start to erode and the integrity of “the Body” (of Christ) isn’t compromised by perversion or distortion from all the grime and muck!  He told them that in order to walk in this power, we must be in an intimate relationship with God the Father… Just as He is.  The awesome part about that is, we CAN be in an intimate relationship with God the Father!

Today, I pray that you come to realize that it isn’t about the show.  We can get busy with all the stuff going on around us and the muck and grime that we have to plow through. However, as His children of God, we need to stop and seek His face and live a life a prayer and fasting in an intimate relationship with God!  As we do that, the power to face our challenges will come through the power of the Holy Spirit being active in our lives.  It all stems from the love we have with Christ!  He died for us, not so that we could put on a good show, but so that we could be set free from the things that bind us and enter into a trusting, loving relationship with Him.

You may know who His is by now, but do you truly know Him?  Do you speak with Him regularly and have an intimate relationship with Him?  He wants you to!  He promises in Jeremiah 29:13, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  If you seek Him earnestly and sincerely, ask Him to show Himself to you because He promises that He will!  He loves you so much that He wants to put an end to the drama and the show so that you can live free in Him!

I challenge you to allow God to show Himself to you and bring you into a true relationship with Him! 

It takes faith and surrender!  That’s it!  It’s a free gift so believe the gift is for you and receive it!

I pray that God blesses you as you continue to seek and serve Him!

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