Wednesday, January 30, 2013


“Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s decree will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21 (HCSB)

It was one of those moments!

Having heard about the man called Jesus, he thought it might be worth a try to see if He just might be able to do something about the desperate problem he had been having with his son.

It is likely that he had to do some research to find where Jesus would be that day, but after checking around, he was soon on his way. He was tired of dealing with the boy’s problem.

What he may not have known, however, was that Jesus, Himself, had slipped away for a while. He had gone up a high mountain along with his closest confidants in the group of disciples, leaving the others behind. It was a special moment for the foursome as God showed them His heart!

As for the rest of them, an old king reflects, “Better what the eyes see than wandering desire. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 6:9)

“What made them so special to go with him up the high mountain?”

When God looks for faith, presumption and unrealistic expectations quickly surface. I remember what happened while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments. It wasn’t a pretty picture!

The other disciples had been with Jesus. They had seen Jesus do it many times. Why not show who they really were? As luck would have it, the problem might disappear as well! However, the man, himself, may have been wondering why they were attempting what Jesus, himself had been doing. Needless to say, neither the group, nor the man, were satisfied with the outcome.

As the foursome came down from the high mountain, they approached the comrades that they had left behind, and saw a crowd gathered. The religious people were involved in a dispute.

Suddenly, when the whole crowd saw Him, they were amazed and ran to greet Him. Then Jesus wanted to know what they were arguing about.

A man out of the crowd answered Jesus, saying, “Teacher, I brought my son to You. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I asked Your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.”

Jesus gives a stinging rebuke to the entire age group! I even bite my own upper lip as I remember similar rebukes in my own walk with the Lord! “Better an open reprimand than concealed love.” (Proverbs 27:5)

“You unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me.” So they brought him to Him. When the spirit saw Him, it immediately convulsed the boy. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus looks the father in the eye, and asks for some history about the problem. “How long has this been happening to him?”

“From childhood,” he said. “And many times it has thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

Jesus then addresses the issue of faith, “‘If You can’? Everything is possible to the one who believes.”

The father of the boy immediately cries out in recognition of what Jesus is saying, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”

The scripture record continues with the story. When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly coming together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!”

Then it came out, shrieking and convulsing him violently. The boy became like a corpse, so that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.

After He went into a house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

Jesus explained that faith prays, and faith also sees God’s heart for the need.

The disciples that had been left behind that day did not realize that the man really did not trust them. They needed to pray before undertaking such an exercise, and they needed to understand God’s heart and the heart of the boy.

And He told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer [and fasting]a.”

An authentic faith matched with a verified authentication of the action of a supernatural God, is what brings Him into action!

An old song comes to mind, “Do you know my Jesus? Do you know my Friend? Have you heard He loves you, and that He will abide till the end?”

a From Mark 9:14-29 [Other mss omit bracketed text] (Italicized remarks are quotes from the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5a)

Obedience always goes hand in hand with faith. Faith has to do with what captures our heart. Obedience adds integrity and gives faith its stability. (2 Peter 1:5). But, obedience must have faith to undergird it before it is valid. Otherwise it could be very dangerous.

In other words, obedience is no better than its ultimate object.

God also knows! Faith is born when one senses that its object is exactly what it was made for!

I sensed amazement for the first time this year at the response of Zacharias to the angel when he announced the birth of John the Baptist! It is so different from Mary’s response. The responses are similar, but close scrutiny shows that Zacharias did not have faith, while Mary did. To Zacharias, the angel Gabriel had messed up his pre-planned order of worship, just to tell him they were going to have a child! He was upset, and demanded an explanation!

“. . . Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” (Luke 1:18-20 esv)

In direct contrast, Mary gets a visit from the same angel, Gabriel, with an even more astounding announcement, that she would bear a son without knowing a man in an intimate relationship. Listen to her response, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34 kjv) The angel then explained what would happen, giving sufficient information to quiet her heart with peaceful rest.

It is a lesson in faith! Zacharias did not believe, so demanded proof. To give Zacharias a little room, we need to remember he didn’t do this “priest thing” that often, so was ill-equipped, when facing the angel. Did he think that angels were figurines on top of temple furniture? It looks like he had not done his homework in matters of faith prior to showing up for his appointed time as high priest.

By direct contrast, Mary did believe, and simply asks “how”? There is immense safety in her question, since that demanded an answer worthy of royalty!

When faced with unusual situations in life, I am finding the need to learn to be more consistent in asking myself if I am always addressing the question of faith. We would save ourselves a lot of trouble if we would do just that! Zacharias could not speak until they brought the young child to the temple for the rite of circumcision, and the naming of the child. It was then that he obeyed the angel’s instruction and named him, “John”. Faith had won its day!

We would do well to bring our struggles, questions, insights and ideas before the Lord, and ask Him about our faith. When we have difficulties, and situations that will not go away, we can ask what God wants to accomplish through the scene, and ask Him to train us in matters of faith.

Many years prior to this, God was preparing Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. He was struggling with faith issues, (Exodus 6:30). He acknowledges that he has uncircumcised (kjv), or faltering (niv) lips. This meant that there was trouble in his heart concerning faith. Isn’t it amazing that he knew that God was at work everywhere around him, but he still couldn’t trust him? It shouldn’t really surprise us. Moses had bought into Egyptian ways so much, that when he murdered the Egyptian, he subconsciously communicated that this was how he would free the Israelites. That was not faith, that was compensation. God’s chosen people knew that it would be God who set them free – not another tyrant, no matter how deserving of death! Proverbs 30:10 warns that we dare not accuse a slave to a master, lest we be found to be the guilty party.

We would save ourselves so much trouble if we addressed the issue of faith first, rather than try to solve problems in our own way!

Many years later, as they entered Canaan, when Joshua was by Jericho, an angel appeared to him with a sword in his hand. He asks where he comes from, and finds out the source of this confrontation. It was then that he was instructed to treat the place as holy ground. (Joshua 6:15)

Many years later, a farming family, Nabal and his wife Abigail, along with their hired hands, were having a feast at sheep shearing time. It was soon after God had instructed Samuel to anoint David to replace King Saul. However, while Saul was still king, David and his men were protecting the borders of the land. Consequently, David and his men thought they had the right to enjoy this farmer’s feast since he and his men were protecting them, a great service! David sent his men over to the plantation, and they ran into an angry Nabal who would not let them anywhere near! When David heard of it, he did not inquire whether this was a faith issue or emotional. Even though in the right, he decided to proceed on his own and fight! Abigail steps in just in time, provides for them, and sends them on their way. Later, the next morning, when Nabal had sobered up, Abigail told him what she had done. Now Nabal was both frightened of David and his men, as well as angry about the situation, and died! (From 1 Samuel 25)

In spite of this earlier experience, David still made the same mistake as Nabal did, when he tried to patch up his affair with Bathsheba. He hid the affair, murdered her husband, Uriah, then took her as his wife. When learning of her pregnancy, he murdered her husband, Uriah. God wasn’t to be outdone, however, since God’s enemies now had great cause to blaspheme God, He took the child!

This Christmas and New Year’s, may every battle we face, be a faith battle, remembering that the victory ultimately belongs to Him!

Every “sea” in 2013 begs to have someone bring it down to size! In Peter’s heart on stormy Galilee one night, he knew that if the Lord Jesus would give him permission to walk on it, he would be invincible. He was right! But, he had to have more than permission – which is external in nature. He had to have persevering faith, which placed the boat, the sea, and the situations at hand, under his control, as delegated by Christ. That is persevering faith! It is a faith intertwined with God’s vision for lives in the present and the future!

I pray that you will join me in praying that God will give us such a year in 2013!