Saturday, March 21, 2009

Only Prayer Solves Some Problems

2 Kings 4:8-37; Mark 8:14-29 / Isaiah 1:1-20

I. A Crowd Gathered for a Dispute

A. After His private time with the three disciples on the mountain, Jesus encountered a crowd, and it was interested in Him. “And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.” (Mark 9:14-15)

B. Jesus asked the scribes about the cause of the crowd and the dispute taking place; leaders of the religious establishment were always demanding that Jesus perform tricks for them. “And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?” (Mark 9:16) “And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. (Mark 8:11)

C. A man in the crowd drew attention to his suffering son. “And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; (Mark 9:17)

D. An evil force sought to torment and ultimately kill the son; the disciples were unable to help sufferers. “And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.” (Mark 9:18) “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

II. Heaven and Hell Skirmished

A. Jesus was annoyed but He called for the boy. “He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.” (Mark 9:19)

B. The evil force fought back to retain the captive. “And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. (Mark 9:20)

C. Jesus gathered the diagnostic history. “And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.” (Mark 9:21)

D. The parent was so worn down that he brought only slim hope, not faith, to the situation, asking Jesus to do something if He could. “And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” (Mark 9:22) They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. (Psalm 126:5)

E. Jesus explained that the situation demanded more than longing; faith opens the door to success. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23)

F. Faith, undergirded with confident expectation, is essential to successful prayer. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

G. The father was willing to do whatever Jesus wanted; believers must begin where they are with what they understand and trust God for the rest. “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

III. Jesus Displayed Heaven’s Power

A. Jesus expelled the evil spirit. “When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. (Mark 9:25)

B. The evil spirit put up a major fight to protect the stolen property. “And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. (Mark 9:26)

C. Jesus was stronger than the evil He fought. “But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. (Mark 9:27) He “arose” is a translation of the word also used for “resurrection.”

D. Even the disciples were amazed; how was Jesus able to do what they could not do? “And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?” (Mark 9:28)

E. Some problems are so great that they can only be solved by total reliance on God; it is only in human weakness that God’s strength is utterly obvious. “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29) “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:” (Daniel 9:3)

F. God reveals His glory by using the weak things of the world to destroy the power and influence of things which the world considers to be mighty. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (1 Corinthians 1:27)

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