In Spite of Myself…

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or his statue, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

Every day, I am amazed and humbled that God would choose to use me in any capacity — much less to be a preacher of the Gospel. But several years ago, someone sent me a list that I have kept to remind me of how God has a different perspective than I do. Think about this…

Moses stuttered.

David’s armor didn’t fit.

John Mark was rejected by Paul.

Hosea’s wife was a prostitute.

Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.

Solomon was too rich.

Abraham was too old.

David was too young.

Timothy had stomach problems.

Peter was afraid of death.

Lazarus WAS dead.

Naomi was a widow.

Paul was a murderer.

Jonah ran from God.

Miriam was a gossip.

Gideon struggled with doubt.

Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.

Elijah was burned out.

John the Baptist was a loudmouth.

Martha was a worrywart.

Mary was lazy.

Samson had long hair.

What a list! Whenever I read that list I am reminded that the Good News for you and me is that God doesn’t require a traditional job interview. God doesn’t look at the bottom line of financial loss or gain. He’s not prejudiced or partial. God does not judge us based on our worthiness. He judges us according to the worthiness of His Son. The devil looks back and sees our mistakes. God looks back and see the cross of Christ.

There are a lot of reasons why God shouldn’t want me or you. But when we seek His face and when we love Him above all other things, He will use us in spite of who we are, where we’ve been or what we look like.

I, for one, am thankful for that!

True Beauty…

“His shoots will sprout, and his beauty will be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.” (Hosea 14:6)

Hosea is one of my favorite books of the Old Testament, and the fourteenth chapter of Hosea is one of my favorites in the book. Hosea was a prophet of the grace of God and the need for human repentance. In chapter 14, both of those themes are clearly seen. The longer I’m in ministry, the more I understand that the same message preached to the northern kingdom of Israel is the same message that needs to be preached in America today. We need to be continually reminded of our need to return to God.

When you get to verse 6 of Hosea 14, we find that Hosea is describing what happens when we return to God — our fellowship with Him grows and we claim His promises for the future. Hosea describes the blessings that a restored Israel will receive by drawing illustrations from nature — sprouting shoots, olive trees and the cedars of Lebanon. I want to focus for just a minute on just one of the characteristics Hosea mentions. He says that a person who returns to the Lord is beautiful.

In our culture, we hear a lot about beauty. The media is constantly telling us and showing us what they believe is beautiful. There is a push for men and women to maintain a certain physical beauty. Movie stars are held up as models of beauty for our children to copy. And yet, from the accounts I have read concerning many of these people, I have some real doubts about the accuracy of describing them as beautiful.

There are people in this world however who are truly beautiful. They are the people who possess an inward quality that shows itself in their love for God and others. Christians OUGHT to be “beautiful people.” We shouldn’t be described that way because we have conformed ourselves to the standards of this world, but because we have repented of our sin and have fellowship with God. We should be beautiful not because we set the pace for a certain style of life, but because we portray the most desirable qualities of life. We should be beautiful not because we have all the social graces, but because we are zealous soul winners for our Lord Jesus Christ.

I read this account from a worker among the Amazon Peoples of the Amazon River Basin (www.imb.org):

 “He was only 12 years old when a jaguar attacked him. His relatives rescued him, put him in a canoe, and his father took him down the river to a small town. He was then flown to a city, where he received medical treatment for two years.”

“I remember the television news report seven years ago about the 12-year-old boy who was almost killed by a jaguar. However, what I did not know until recently was that my 19-year-old friend and student, C, was that same little boy! C’s father had plans for him to become a great witch doctor among his people, but God had other plans for him.”

“C was invited to live at the Christian Training Center so he could study in the river town. He began studying God’s Word and participating in our Storying Training sessions each week. He has now accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He says, ‘God gave me another chance to live because He has plans for my life. God saved me twice: He saved me from the jaguar, and He saved me from my sins.’ Pray that C will be able to take this message to his people, and that they will hear and receive the Good News.”

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I would contend that C is a beautiful person! I also believe that those workers in the Amazon River Basin are beautiful people. The Bible says, “Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News of good things.” (Romans 10:15) THAT is real beauty. Sharing the grace of our Lord with others who desperately need to know of His love and salvation — that’s a pretty good definition of beauty to me.

Facing Life Head-On

“When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem…” (Luke 9:51)

The party aboard ship was in full swing. Speeches were being made by the captain, the crew, and the guests enjoying the week-long voyage. Sitting at the head table was a seventy-year old man who, somewhat embarrassed, was doing his best to accept the praise being poured on him.

Earlier that morning a young woman had apparently fallen overboard, and within seconds this elderly gentleman was int he cold, dark, waters at her side. The woman was rescued and the elderly man became an instant hero.

When time finally came for the brave passenger to speak, the stateroom fell into a hush as he rose from his chair. He went to the microphone and, in what was probably the shortest “hero’s” speech ever offered, spoke these stirring words: “I just want to know one thing — who pushed me?” (Ted Engstrom, Motivation to Last a Lifetime)

Do you ever feel like that? I know I sure do. Life flows along and I look around to see who pushed me! There are other times when I face a crisis that must be met with courage and I actually NEED a push!

Today, I would suggest that when we are faced with a crisis that demands courage, look to Jesus. Jesus never tried to bypass the cross, but the Bible actually says that “He was determined to go to Jerusalem.” Nobody had to give him a push — He knew exactly what needed to be done and He did it.

Though Jesus was God incarnate, He was also a perfect man. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:15 that “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all thing as we are, yet without sin.” As Jesus faced the cross, He had the courage to face that crisis with confidence. Where did His confidence come from? It came from the knowledge that God the Father was with Him.

The same is true for me and you today. When we face the crises of life, we must simply trust God and move on. When we resolve to trust the Lord and we remain obedient to Him, He will provide the victory. In addition, God uses every situation in life to prepare us to better meet the next test we will face. From the day we are saved, the Bible says that God works to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). That fact alone is enough to encourage me to face whatever this day brings with faith that God is going to use it to make me more like Jesus.

So don’t wait to get pushed in — face your crisis today head-on with a God-given determination to overcome it.

 

It’s Not MY Fault

“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)

Genesis 3 is one of the most important chapters in the Bible. It teaches us some very important lessons about ourselves. I meet more than my fair share of people who do not believe in the historicity of the Old Testament — especially Genesis 1-11. And yet, I believe that this historical account of the first man and first woman tells me where I came from. It tells me what kind of person I am and what kind of person I can be. It teaches me that God wants to have a personal relationship with me.

You know the story. The perfect God created a perfect setting for Adam and Eve. They were put in the garden in order to bring glory and pleasure to God. Then EVERYTHING went wrong! I don’t know exactly what the conversation sounded like, but using my sanctified imagination, I  suppose it could have gone something like this:

GOD: Adam, where are you? Why are you hiding from Me?

Adam: Well Sir — Ummm… I heard You walking in the garden, and I was afraid that You would see me. You see, Sir, I’m not dressed.

GOD: How did you know that? Who told you? Have you eaten what I told you not to eat?

Adam: Well Sir, it’s like this. IT’S NOT MY FAULT. In fact Sir, well, if You think about it — I really believe that YOU bear the majority of the blame in this instance. YOU gave me that woman to start with. Things were going along pretty well, until she showed up. She gave me the fruit and I had to eat it. You know, Sir — she’s been nothing but trouble since the day YOU brought her here.

GOD: Eve…what have you done?

Eve: Hold on just a minute here! I heard what Adam told you and I’m not taking the fall for this one! IT’S NOT MY FAULT.  The serpent tricked me into doing it.

And on it goes. We are all separated and mad at one another. We play the blame game because we don’t want to confess our own sins. The problem that Adam and Eve had is the very same problem that I have and you have it too.

You see, sin is a matter of trust. You either trust God, or you trust something or someone that God made. Trusting something other than God is rebellion against God. It is denying that God is good, wise, or loving. Sin promises one thing and delivers something entirely different. You think sin will make you a better person. We are taught that it will put us on top of the world. And yet, we discover — very often too late — that sin separates us form God and makes us afraid of God. No longer is God the ultimate friend who walks with us each day. Now we believe that He is our enemy coming to punish us. And our response? We hide and we make excuses.

Thankfully God’s history tells us that God seeks those who are lost and separated from Him in order to restore the broken relationship. I know the “IN” thing right now among young pastors and new churches is to be “seeker sensitive.” Can I just say something? Lost people don’t seek God — that’s why they are lost. What are they seeking anyway? God is not lost — YOU ARE! God SEEKS you — not the other way around. We have brought the world into our churches in an attempt to make everybody feel better about themselves and to make it seem as though God is just waiting for us to come and find Him. NOWHERE in Scripture do you see that happening. God ALWAYS seeks us. He comes looking for us. His Holy Spirit draws us to Christ. 

While I was trying to hide from Him, He came seeking me out so that I could experience His love and forgiveness. Don’t give yourself any credit here. You can have all the worldly music, skinny jeans wearing, hip talking, club atmosphere you want — but you don’t have God. In our natural state, we are hiding from God. The only remedy to that is for you and me to come humbly before God and confess our sin and repent. God offers His love and forgiveness. It’s a free gift available to WHOEVER calls upon the name of the Lord.

As a believer, you and I are instruments of the Holy Spirit to go out to the highways and hedges and compel those who are lost to be saved. We are the seekers — used by God to tell the Good News so that those who are hiding in their sin can experience the liberating grace and love given freely by God to all who will receive it.

 

What Kind of Teacher Are YOU?

“Again I said, ‘The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?'” (Nehemiah 5:9)

I heard about this fellow who was known for his stinginess. He wouldn’t buy ANYTHING unless it was on sale. However, students in the business class from the local college would often go to his door to try and sell all kinds of things. Finally he asked one of them, “Why do you all keep coming to my house? You know I never buy anything.” The student smiled and said, “That’s easy to explain. You are lesson number 12: ‘How to Approach the Hopeless Customer.'” This old man was teaching and didn’t even realize it.

Nehemiah is one of my favorite Old Testament books. He constantly reminded the Israelites that they were communicating a false concept of the one true God in front of their heathen neighbors because of their conduct. The rich were lending money to the poor at a high interest rate, then selling those who couldn’t repay the loans into slavery. They were constantly talking about how they believed in the One True God who was holy and kind, yet their lives did not match what they said.

Teachers have always had a tremendous impact in my life. From Doris Pope in the first grade to Janice Lassiter in the sixth grade to John and June Parker and Ronnie Sue Pfeiffer in high school — I can point to something each one of these people taught me not only about the school subject they taught — but life lessons that I carry with me today. My sister, Brenda Jernigan is a teacher at a Christian school in Fayetteville, North Carolina. My daughter, Danielle teaches third grade in one of the hardest schools in Raleigh, North Carolina. My guess is that all of them wondered and wonder today, if what they taught or are teaching impacted anybody’s life. I’m sure they ask many times — “Is ANYBODY even listening to what I’m saying?” I can assure them — we are listening — more than you even realize.

You see — ALL of us are teachers in some respect and we are ALWAYS teaching. You don’t have to teach first grade or third grade or high school math, English or French. Just by living our lives and offering encouragement and correction to our families and friends, we are teaching. Those fathers who stay at home instead of going to church with their family are teaching their children. A Christian who twists the truth in order to get himself out of a difficult situation is teaching a lesson to anyone who sees him about honesty. A teacher who takes the time to encourage a student who feels out of place is communicating that all students are special.

I’m pretty sure I couldn’t actually pass a high school physics test today and my ability to speak French is not as sharp as I’m sure Mrs. Pfeiffer would like. Mrs. Parker would probably scream out loud if she heard the way I murder the King’s English on occasion. But those teachers (and so many others) certainly were not failures by any stretch of the imagination. They all taught me so much more than just the basics of physics, English and French. They taught me by their example to care about people.

I wish I had paid more attention in class all those years ago. In spite of the fact that I may not have learned all the subject matter I should have known — I did learn this…

We are ALL teachers and we are ALL teaching ALL the time. Take heart teachers — we are learning more than you realize. You all have taught me to ask this question every day of my life — “Keith, what kind of teacher are you going to be today?”

What Characterizes Your Ministry

“In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity.” (Acts 9:36)

In Aramaic, her name was Tabitha. In Greek it is Dorcas. In English, her name means “gazelle.” I think that name fits her well. When I think of a gazelle, I think of swiftness and gracefulness. I believe that describes Dorcas. She was swift to show mercy to others and she was graceful in her demonstration of her Christian character.

I just love studying about Dorcas. According to Luke, Dorcas was a woman who used her spiritual gifts for the benefit of others. The Bible says “she was ALWAYS doing good works and acts of charity.” She was a servant in every sense of the word. Be careful here to remember this. Good works are not necessary FOR salvation, but good works are definitely a RESULT of our salvation. 

I believe we all have a ministry given to us by God to bring glory to Him. That ministry is to be characterized by mercy and compassion. Our good works should point others directly to Christ and the cross. We are to be swift to do good works for others expecting nothing in return. In my life and ministry, I want to be a “gazelle” — like Dorcas.

Think for a minute about your life and ministry to others. How long has it been since you…

   took the time to go see someone who lives alone?

   wrote a note or an email to someone who the Lord brought to your mind?

   read the Bible to someone who was too ill to read for themselves?

   encouraged someone who was having a hard time?

   prayed earnestly for someone who was faltering in their faith?

   tried to have a Bible with someone you knew was lost?

   told a teenager that you were proud of his/her efforts to live for the Lord?

   spent more time on your knees praying than on your telephone talking?

My point is all of us could be more like Dorcas — couldn’t we? Every Christian can and should do something to encourage someone else. The problem is that far too often when it comes to helping someone else, too many people stop at NOTHING…

Think about that.

I pray I will be more like Dorcas today as I meet people.

A Contrast In Parents…

“It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord.'” (I Samuel 1:20)

“Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord.” (I Samuel 2:12)

Now…go back and read those two verses again. Do you see the contrast in PARENTS? On the one hand, you have Hannah who diligently prayed and sought God in order to have a child. When he was born, she dedicated him to God and the Bible says in I Samuel 2:21 — “The Lord visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew before the Lord.” Hannah made it her purpose to bring up her children for God.

Now on the other hand, you have Eli. It appears that he put so much time into his “ministry,” that he forgot his number one ministry was to be a parent. Because he paid more attention to everybody else than he did his own children, his boys turned out to be “worthless men.” Their sins were an abomination, and their behavior caused others to “despise the offering of the Lord” (I Samuel 2:17).

Unfortunately, in my 30 years of ministry, I have seen preacher’s kids who left the church and literally “hated” anything that had to do with church or religion mainly because they felt that the church had robbed them of their dad and that the church had taken the place of their family. I had wonderful ministry mentors like James Hester and Elmer Joyner who taught me that God is first in your life and family comes next. As a pastor, the church is NOT my bride. The church is the Bride of Christ. EDNA is MY bride. Therefore, my first responsibility is as a husband and father. After that comes my responsibility as a pastor. On many occasions, I have told the churches I served that if I ever had to choose between my family and the church — I don’t even have to pray about it — I choose my family. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed to serve churches who not only understood that concept, but encouraged it.

I heard about a father who paraphrased the story of the lost sheep in Luke 15 for his young son. He told how the little sheep had found a hole in the fence and crawled through. He wandered so far away that he was hopelessly lost. The father told how the little sheep was chased by a wolf, but just in time, the Shepherd showed up and saved the little cheep. The little boy was greatly interested in the story. When his father finished, the little boy said, “Daddy, did they ever fix that hole in the fence?”

THAT’S THE KEY! It is much easier to train our children early in life than to retrain them after they begin to make harmful choices that affect their lives forever. The only way to really fix the hole in the fence is to make sure our children are saved at an early age and then to live lives before them that show Christ as they grow and mature.

Again, throughout my ministry I’ve had parents call me all distraught because their son or daughter had made some bad decision and now they didn’t know what to do. As I investigated, I often learned that these parents wanted me (the pastor) to fix a problem in 10 minutes that had taken them (the parents) 15 years to create. Teaching our children EARLY and living the Christian life as an example to them is the best way to help them as they grow.

Let me quickly add this. There is absolutely NO guarantee that our children will not make poor choices in their lives. Even the very best parents are heart-broken today because of a wayward child. But it is much less likely for them to wander away if they have been led to a personal relationship with Christ early in life. There is NOTHING that you and I will ever do that is more important than leading our children to salvation through Jesus Christ! There is NOTHING that you and I will ever do that is more important than living a Christ-like life before our families so they can come to salvation through Jesus Christ.

If you have wayward children today — email me at preacherkeith@nc.rr.com. I want to pray for you and for your children. I want to encourage you so that as parents we may be more like Hannah and less like Eli. ESPECIALLY if you are in ministry of any kind — please don’t allow the church to take you away from your primary responsibility as husband/father, wife/mother. I’m praying we raise a generation of Samuels and not worthless men like the sons of Eli.

 

There is Just ONE Door…

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Throughout the Gospels, there is an exclusiveness to the claims of Christ. For example, in today’s verse, Jesus says, “I am the door.” One commentary I read calls this “the offense of the particular.” Jesus says that He is the ONE entrance by which the sheep can enter the fold and join the flock. There is no other way for them to have access to the full treasure of life.

The world I live in doesn’t like that AT ALL. They try and make other “doors” into heaven. They have conferences, gatherings, write books and a host of other things to announce that eternal life can be achieved in any number of ways. The problem with that is it flies in the face of everything that is taught in the New Testament. Jesus Christ is unique and He is the true Savior of the World. He didn’t say that He was A door — He said that He was THE door. Anybody who comes preaching any other doctrine is a thief and a liar.

I’ve been preaching that Jesus is the ONLY way now for 30 years. Times haven’t changed a whole lot in that period. Whenever I suggest that Jesus is the ONLY way to God — I am immediately labeled “intolerant,” “judgmental,” and “out of touch.” The unpardonable sin in America today is the sin of preaching an exclusive Gospel. Rather than worshiping the God of the Bible, we have created a NEW god in our own image. This new god acts the way WE think he should act.

For example, here are some of the things people have said to me about their god…

“The god I worship would NEVER allow anyone to go to hell.”

“The god I worship accepts ANYONE into heaven if they are good enough or if they are sincere in what they believe.”

That may sound nice and may make you feel better, but there’s really only one problem with them — they are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Scripture. Listen to me very carefully…If you are worshiping a god that you have made up in your mind, you are not worshiping the true God. You are serving a god of speculation rather than the God of revelation.

Hey! This is America! You can make your little god into anything you want him or her to be — but know this…when you do that, you completely change the nature of salvation that is provided in Scripture. Acts 4:12 clearly says, “and there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

“So, Pastor Keith…what about all those ‘FEEL GOOD’ gods that people serve?” 

Good question. I’m going to say something to you that is rarely said in our culture today. It actually offends MANY people…but here goes…THEY ARE WRONG.

“Oh, Pastor Keith…you are so intolerant.”

See? I told you some people wouldn’t like it. We don’t like to be told that we are WRONG. We don’t like to admit that we are WRONG. But the truth of the matter is this. The Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. IT is RIGHT and the opinions of man are WRONG.

People who think that God is somehow going to wink at sin and just disregard His own written Word are in for a big surprise. God has done us the eternal favor by even telling us the absolute truth concerning Himself and concerning sin. God owes you and me NOTHING, and yet He has told us how to be saved. He said, “I am the door. If you want to get in, you have to go through me.” Simple.

Don’t let people try and sidetrack you with the “sincerity” argument. Those who reject Christ — who refuse to come through THE DOOR — will be sincerely lost.

 

I Need More TIME!

“The is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

I just read about a watch that contains 874 diamonds (201 carats) valued at $25 MILLION! To tell you the truth — it was ugly. I can’t even begin to imagine why you would want a $25 million dollar watch. Does the owner of that watch have one more second in a day that I do with my Timex from Walmart?

NOPE — we both have the exact same amount of time. God gives us 86,400 seconds every day. You have the same amount of time in your day that I have in mine and that every person on earth has. So when you hear someone say (because I know you would never say anything like this), “they must have more time than I do” — you will immediately know that simply is not true.

The only thing that we have is today and it is a gift from God — that’s why we call it the PRESENT! Get it? Present? Ok — moving on…

In the book The Finishing Touch, Dr. Chuck Swindoll gives five proven methods to help us waste time. Think about this for a minute…

“First, worry a lot. Start worrying early in the morning and intensify your anxiety as the day passes.

Second, make hard-and-fast predictions. for example, one mont before his July 1975 disappearance, Jimmy Hoffa said, ‘I don’t need bodyguards.’

Third, fix your attention on getting rich. You’ll get a lot of innovative ideas from the secular bookshelves (I counted fourteen books on the subject the last time I was in a bookstore), plus you’ll fit right in with the most of the hype pouring out of entrepreneurial seminars and high-pressure sales meetings.

Fourth, compare yourself with others. Now, here’s another real time-waster. If it’s physical fitness you’re into, comparing yourself with Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jane Fonda ought to keep you busy.

Fifth, lengthen your list of enemies. If there’s one thing above all others that will keep your wheels spinning, it’s perfecting your skill at the Blame Game.

Put these five surefire suggestions in motion and you will set new records in wasting valuable time.”

Now seriously — remember this. The Bible says that every morning God’s mercies are new (Lamentations 3:22-24). Every day, God gives us time to learn, time to work, time to laugh and time to love. He gives us EXACTLY enough time to do EVERYTHING  that He wants us to do. The key is being so in touch with Him that what He wants us to do becomes our passion.

Pastor John Haggai said, “Yesterday is a cashed check; tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is cash in hand so use it — invest it.”

Forbes magazine researched the subject of success and failure and found that the number one factor for success or failure was time management. What is true in business is also true in the Christian life. Christian stewardship requires the effective management of our time.

Here’s a little challenge for you. For a few days, I challenge you to micromanage yourself in the area of time management. Every day, set a goal for the number of minutes you are going to spend in prayer, the number of minutes you are going to spend in Bible study, the number of minutes you are going to minister to the needs of others. All of these things are a part of our stewardship of our time. And all of these things can be accomplished within the context of our daily schedule if we look for the opportunities Go gives to us.

Remember — “THIS is the day the Lord has made…” What are you doing to maximize your impact with the time God has given you?

 

Prayerlessness = Powerlessness

“Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do believe! Help my unbelief.'” (Mark 9:24)

This is one of my favorite stories in Scripture. Let’s set the stage. Jesus had just come down from the mountain where He had been transfigured. While Jesus was on the mountain with three of his disciples, chaos reigned in the valley below. Jesus was told that the nine disciples who had not gone with him up the mountain were unable to heal a demon-possessed boy. The fact that they were powerless to do this had raised a few questions among the people as to whether they really had the gifts that had been attributed to them.

As Jesus came down from the mountain — He was immediately met with this serious situation. The devil was ruining the little boy’s life. I’m afraid the same thing is happening in many places today. Just this morning, I heard of a couple of girls who were arrested in Florida because they had bullied another girl and she had committed suicide. Drug abuse continues to be rampant — even among pre-teens! Young people today are being confronted with hard choices before they are old enough even to think about such things.

Interestingly, there are always people who think all this talk about the devil is unnecessary. They somehow are blinded to the fact that we are at war for the souls of men, women, boys and girls. But just look at TV! The closer we get to Halloween, the more demonic things I see advertised and the more gruesome movies and TV shows get. We are engaged in a spiritual war and the devil is alive and well I’m afraid. Listen — the devil does NOT love you. If you or I were neck deep in quicksand, the devil would just come by and pat us on the head. The devil doesn’t love you — he wants to destroy you and your family.

The father in our story had brought this little boy to the disciples of Jesus in hopes of having the demon cast out of him. In Mark 6, we know that Jesus had given them authority over the unclean spirits. In fact, Mark 6:13 says, “And they were driving out many demons, anointing many sick people with olive oil, and healing them.” On other occasions, they had been successful in this work, but not today. Mark 9:18 says that the father of the boy said to Jesus, “I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.” That’s sad.

Notice Jesus’ response to the man in Mark 9:23. He says, “Everything is possible to the one who believes.” And that’s when the man responds to Jesus with our verse for today. He said, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.” In effect, this father is saying, “I believe — but my faith is weak. Give me the power to have a stronger faith.” This man realized that he had a measure of faith, but he was also aware of the doubts that lingered in his heart. Jesus responded by healing the man’s son.

I think this event served as a wonderful lesson for the man, his son, the disciples AND US!

After healing the boy, Jesus reminded His disciples of a very important principle. Mark 9:29 says, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” The reason for our powerlessness today is often prayerlessness. The source of power in helping us with our faith and in helping us to reach a lost world comes not from ourselves. It comes only through our relationship to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. The only way to get a stronger faith — the only way to get the power of God into a church or an individual is through PRAYER. 

I’ve been convicted lately of this…if we (Christians) would pray the way we ought to pray, we would see more people getting saved in our services, more families being saved from the ravages of divorce, more children and young people delivered from the demonic forces of drugs and alcohol.

My prayer today is the same of that father in Scripture — “Lord, I do believe, but sometimes my faith seems very weak. I pray you would help me to have a stronger faith.” I believe that is a sincere prayer that God will answer by providing me (and you) the strength we need to accomplish whatever He gives us to do.

Don’t allow the devil and his imps to keep you from receiving the power that belongs to you through prayer.  Reach out to God in faith and allow Him to give you what you need to do His work!