It Takes Faith and Prayer

Mark 9:14-9:29

It Takes Faith and Prayer Pastor Frank Zerbel © 2005 FORGIVEN! Community Church

I can remember one Saturday afternoon in the 60’s as I was outside with the push mower cutting the grass for my father when two men carrying a box down our driveway caught my attention. They sat it down outside the front door and unpacked our first color TV.

It had a beautiful solid wood cabinet and a 21” screen. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but here it was and my father was so proud. Before we could turn it on my dad went up on the roof with one of the delivery men to put up a new antenna, while the other man made the connections inside.

It didn’t take long and we had our first picture to adjust the color to. What we saw shocked us and held our attention for what seemed like hours. Even the delivery men kept their eyes on the screen.

There before us in full color, was the Watts riot. Less than 12 miles from where we were sitting the city was on fire. As we watched we saw homes and business’ burning to the ground, we saw fireman being shoot and lose their lives as they rushed in to put out the flames.

What a thing to remember about my first color TV.

Two weeks latter I was with my father as he drove through those streets where so many lost their lives and so many more, mostly innocents were still homeless or trying to recover what ever they could from the burned out shells that was left of their lives.

What I remember of those riots was the many reasons the media, politicians, and even residence gave for these chain of events that hurt so many. But it all boiled down to poverty.

A few young men and women of the thousands that lived there took it upon themselves to make known their rage to the City of Los Angles about the conditions they had to endure. And it all spiraled out of control faster than anyone could imagine.

They didn’t take into account the prayers of the faithful; they got tired of waiting for progress of the local officials working unceasingly to better their lot in life.

Six months later the media hailed the event as the catalyst, as the City poured money into the area and new construction was in full swing.

Not mentioned were the innocent residents who got caught in the crossfire. Families now without a father or a mother, kids orphaned, people permanently crippled, families financially ruined. What about the heroes in uniform hurt or even killed trying to protect?

What happened was these people got impatient and took upon themselves what God had in the works.

To many times we empower ourselves into action. We let the deceiver tell us that we can handle it, we puff up our chests and march out to change the world on our terms. And than it all spirals out of control and many times people not involved get hurt.

We have to realize that the real power to conquer life’s hardships is with the Power of Christ’s name and prayer.

In our lesson today, we see Jesus coming back from His trip up the mountain and His transfiguration. Jesus, Peter, James and John were coming back into town:

Mark 9:14-19 (NIV)

The Healing of a Boy With an Evil Spirit

14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them.

15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.

18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 19 “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Why couldn’t the disciples drive out the evil spirit?

In Mark 6:13 we read that they drove out demons while on their mission to the villages. I believe this story is to show that the battle with Satan is a difficult, ongoing struggle. It very will could be the same thing that happens to us as we grow comfortable in our religion. The more we count on what we did yesterday, the more we become proud of our abilities, the less we focus on who gave us that power in the first place, and the less power we posses. I believe that the disciples at this point relied on what they thought was in them and not the authority given in the name of Christ.

This is the same thing that happened in Watts. Anger, fits of rage, selfish ambition, jealousy and envy are the tools of the deceiver that put us over the edge and take us away from Christ. These young people took it upon themselves to right a wrong, and many lives were affected for the bad. Think of what could have happened if they would have come against the problems facing them with the authority of Christ. We have to remember that victory over sin and temptation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, not through our own efforts.

Mark 9:20 (NIV)

20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Have you ever noticed that when the Holy Spirit is present the deceiver gets very uncomfortable? More times than not, when you feel a unity of the Spirit in a church service, small group, home teaching or public gathering the deceiver cannot survive. I’ve seen people without the Spirit in them run for the door when He takes over the service. When the Word of God is preached in its unvarnished truth the deceiver will not be comfortable. The deceiver becomes powerless in the presents of Jesus Christ.

What happened when the deceiver’s spirit saw Jesus?

It immediately threw the boy into a convulsion!

That spirit knew it was in trouble because it knew who Jesus Christ was. And it wanted to do as much damage as possible before it was defeated!

When the deceiver gets a hold of a believer in Christ, he knows he has to do as much damage as he can before we turn it over to the Holy Spirit. And to many times we choose to handle the problem ourselves instead of turning it over. Sometimes we let ourselves believe that too much damage has already been done and even Christ can’t heal it all.

Yes, many times we have to suffer the consequences of the choices we make in this life, but there is nothing that true faith in Christ can’t handle. The past choices may have hurt us but Christ can change our future.

Look at the boy in our lesson when Jesus asked the boys father:

Mark 9:21-22 (NIV)

21b “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered

22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

All of us find times in our life when we unknowingly question God’s ability to take care of our needs. I know I have at times asked God “If you can do anything, please help.” What kind of faith is that! How can we in one breath, praise His name and bow down in worship and when we need Him the most say “If you can do anything.” And it offended the Jesus when He heard this.

Mark 9:23 (NIV)

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

I get tired of people coming to church and acting as if they believe that they truly have victory in Christ and living the rest of the week questioning what He can do. What we have to understand is that nothing in impossible for God and maybe the problem is we are trusting to much in ourselves and not enough in Him. By our own attitudes we stifle the Spirits work in us and throw the blessings that God has for us out the window.

Now, Jesus’ words do not mean that we can automatically obtain anything we want if we just think positively. Jesus meant that anything is possible if we believe, because nothing is too difficult for God. We cannot have everything we pray for as if by magic; but with faith, we can have everything we need to serve him.

Let us be like the boy’s father:

Mark 9:24 (NIV)

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

That should be our prayer every day to “Help me overcome my unbelief.” Unbelief is the main thing that keeps Christians in bondage. Oh, sure you say I do believe, but ask yourself this question; If I believe why do I still worry, why am I afraid, why do make things happen instead of waiting on Jesus? We can say what we want, we can think what we want, but true belief is in action not words, attitude not thought. If you truly believe you have victory in Christ, SHOW IT!

We have to understand that there is no evil, no magic, no object for us to worship that can stand up to the sheer power that is Jesus. As the crowd rushed in it was Jesus that delivered the victory, not the disciples.

We have to realize we cannot put our hope and faith in any man, church, ministry or organization they can do nothing without the authority of Christ. It is that extreme authority that we must call on. The moment we forget that it is from Christ that the power flows we are rendered helpless.

Mark 9:25-27 (NIV)

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the devils spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.”

27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

The disciples tried, they had been given the authority by Jesus to heal and cast out demons when they went to do their village ministry, but they got so confident when the boy with the evil spirit came to them they put God in a box and thought to themselves, “I did it before, I can do it again.”

But what they hadn’t taken into account was that they needed to call upon the authority of Jesus to get the job done. Doing things just because you did them before is calling on yourself to get those things done. You have no back up, no army behind you, you’re going against a legion of demons all by yourself. And you will lose!

But if you:

call on the name of Jesus, ask for the authority of Christ, then God’s will well be done no mater what the outcome and you will have Victory in Jesus!

With only 4 months to go till the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, with almost 3 years of first hand instruction at the hand of God Himself they still didn’t get it. They still had no clue as to what had gone wrong. Why had their power dried up?

Look at verse 28 and lets see just how they framed the question.

Mark 9:28 (NIV)

28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

Did you catch that WE?

Why couldn’t we drive it out?

I don’t know about you, but I have had spiritual successes only to find that the next time I was in the same position I failed miserably. And as I look back I realize that the first time I was unsure and left everything in Jesus’ hands and the next time I was confident and left it in my hands.

I remember setting in the church office working on a sermon when I heard something in the sanctuary. As I got out there I saw a ragged young man stepping out the door. I caught up with him and asked if I could help him. He was crying and proceeded to tell me who he was and that he felt something call him to this place and he was afraid.

It turned out that he was one of the biggest drug dealers in the area and he wanted help to get cleaned up and change his life. A few years earlier he was a member of a church in Raleigh with a wife and a new baby, and then he got hooked on drugs.

Over the previous two years, as the drugs took over, he lost his home, his wife and child and everything he’d worked for. And then the drugs became his master. He was a slave to his habit. He now sold the drugs he craved to support his habit.

I asked if he knew Jesus and he told me that he lost sight of Him long ago. At this point I was at a loss as to how to handle the situation, so I began to pray. He talked, I listened and prayed and then the words came. With more eloquence than I had in me the words flowed.

Before long this young man had rededicated his life to Christ and allowed me to help him get into a rehab clinic. Once he was dropped off and checked in, we prayed once more and I left him in God’s hands.

Two weeks past when I got a collect call from Raleigh, it was the ex-wife letting me know that he had stayed with the rehab and was doing much better. She thanked me for all the help and asked if there was any way we could help him get a ticket home to her and his daughter. Through a program at the Salvation Army a bus ticket was made available and home he went. A few months latter I received a call that it was hard but he was holding down a job, back in a church family and remarried to his wife.

I thanked God for all He had done and proceeded to let the church know what could happen when you let God work.

A few months later another drug dealer came to the door. I knew just what to do. I didn’t have to just set, listen and pray this time. I knew the formula!

I started by asking him if he had ever had Jesus in his life. And he told me that his Grandmother used to take him to church every Sunday and he surly knew Jesus. So I asked him if he wanted to rededicate his life to Christ and I prayed the prayer with him. Satisfied, I tried to get him to go to rehab or even detox, but all he wanted was something to eat and he left. That afternoon I saw him selling drugs on the corner.

For a week he came every day and the process was repeated, rededicate, eat, leave, rededicate, eat, leave, rededicate, eat, leave over and over until I had to stop it cold.

I thought about this man for weeks, something was wrong.

Why couldn’t I help him like the other guy What was different I had done the same thing!

Then I remembered one step that was different. In the first case, I admitted that I did not know what to do and I prayed while he talked. I asked God to take control and he responded by giving me authority over the situation.

The second time I had too much confidence and tried to do it myself. By not listening and praying to start with I had no direction to go. I had no idea if this person was sincere or just trying to take advantage.

If I had asked for guidance the outcome may have been different. By acting in the Name of Jesus, either this man would have been cast out earlier or the demon in him would have been cast out just like the first.

So it seems the lesson that I learned is that we can do nothing without the authority granted by Jesus Christ in a particular situation. And the way authority is granted can only be through your personal relationship with Christ.

When the disciples went on their mission trip to minister to the villages, Jesus personally gave them the ability to cast out demons. But when the boy with the evil spirit was presented to them they had confidence in their own abilities and nothing happened. The key here is they weren’t granted authority to cast out this spirit.

Now I know that we’ve gone around and around and we’re still not sure how to obtain this authority. Will it’s so easy Jesus told us Himself.

Mark 9:29 (NIV)

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Jesus, please forgive us for being so blind we can’t see that it is by You we were saved, for You that we serve, with You that we minister, and through You that we gain power and authority over the deceiver. Help us to leave ourselves behind when called to serve and allow You to discern, guide and speak for us when we are faced with evil. Jesus we understand that we can do nothing without You in command, use us as Your army and help us to stand ready serve.

In the Name above all names, Jesus Christ we pray, Amen

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