Prayer was Missing

Re:Verse reading–Mark 9:14-29 (day five) 

Why were the disciples unable to drive out the demon? It was a question that was haunting them. They posed the question in private. Jesus’ response, prayer was missing.

Perhaps the questioning and arguing of the scribes distracted and/or discouraged the disciples. Both can lead to doubt and uncertainty.   Often times the criticism and cynicism around us have the same effects. (Jesus’ frustration could have been aimed at the scribes) Maybe the disciples were self-confident and self-reliant when dealing with the possessed boy. “We got this!” “Been there, done that!” could have been their perspective. We can get complacent and “cocky” in our relationship and in our faith with God. (Jesus frustration could have been aimed at His disciples)

Faith/belief must be constantly cultivated. Jesus modeled and taught that spiritual disciplines such as prayer are means by which our faith and belief are strengthened. Prayer places our focus and dependence on God. Both needed for the disciples and for us.

 

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Do You Believe?

Re:Verse reading–Mark 9:14-29 (day four) 

Jesus had given the disciples authority over the demons.  It should have worked…they should have been able to cast out the demon from the boy!  What was the difference?  Why couldn’t they do it?  This was embarrassing.  Jesus said it was their lack of faith.  “These only come out by prayer.”

Before, Jesus was always there or had empowered them and sent them out.  This time He was meeting with Elijah and Moses on the mountain.  The disciples thought they could do it on their own.

Each of us faces one or several times in our life that we realize that our faith must be our own.  We can’t work on the faith of our parents, or our spouse, or our Sunday School teacher, or our friend.  Our faith must be our own.  To face the tough challenges of our spiritual walk, our faith must be based on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  To receive salvation, it must be our repentance…our belief…our faith.  Do you believe?

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Mastering

Re: Verse reading–Mark 9:14-29 (day three)

“How long shall I put up with you?”  When Jesus made a whip of cords and overturned the money-changers tables, when he glared at the Pharisees in the presence of the man with the shriveled hand, when he called out the hypocrites who ignored the plight of the crippled woman, he was angry.  It was no less the case here.  Jesus understood the power of anger—power to intoxicate or to animate.  He channeled anger in the latter direction, leveraging it to move toward revelation, healing, recognition of dignity, and, in this instance, the vanquishing of an unclean spirit and patience with unbelief.  Anger did not rule Jesus; it was his servant.  Part of our work in learning his kind of life is learning how he used anger.

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Not Without Prayer

Re:Verse reading–Mark 9:14-29 (day two) And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” vs. 29

Take time to be holy, Let Him be thy guide, And run not before Him whatever betide

This verse from the much loved hymn speaks volumes to each of us who are seeking after God’s will. Whatever your assignment, whether vocational or avocational, Jesus has called each of us to play some part of kingdom building. With so many gifts and resources it can be very exciting to stand on the precipice of a program or a calling and dive right in, only to realize in our excitement we somehow forgot to pray. We got ahead of God. Likely this was not our intent, but even with our best intentions we can never run ahead of his plan and timing. Take time, set yourself apart, and do nothing without prayer.

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Are you so dull?

Re: Verse reading–Mark 9:14-29 (day one)

One of the men in my circle said this week that the verse that spoke to him the most was Mark 7:18, “Are you so dull?”

We don’t usually imagine Jesus being frustrated with His disciples (or with us).  But, there it was, a comment from Christ that suggests the opposite.

In Mark 9, Jesus says something similar.  “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you?  How long will I put up with you?”–v 19.

Probably we don’t see our lives with the same urgency that Christ does.  We assume we have a long time.  He doesn’t!  He knows the time is short.   To be honest, we probably are much slower in our responses and progress than He desires.  Could I learn faster/better if I paid better attention?  Yes.

It’s a sad image.  Motivating.  A facepalm in heaven–the faithful (and frustrated)  Lord saying to his slow children, “Why are you so dull?”

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Satan says

Re:Verse reading–Mark 8:27-38 (day seven)

“Get thee behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”–v 33.

Most moderns (materialists, we are) don’t believe in Satan, anymore.  Jesus did.

He knew the voice of His enemy.  The well-worn strategies.  The proposal of an “alternative wisdom” that over the years has proven so effective with foolish and unfaithful men.  “Hath God said?” he whispers constantly in our ears.

Jesus recognized this malignant source even in the voice of His friends.  It doesn’t matter who says foolishness, it is still foolishness.  Jesus didn’t believe that truth was relative, that all opinions are legitimate.  He believed that some truth came directly from Satan and was to be confronted.  Wisely.  Firmly. Without apology.

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction.”–2 Timothy 4:2

Easy work?  No.  Necessary work?  Yes.  Lord, please make us like you!

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Seeing

Re:Verse reading–Mark 8:27-38 (day six)

Jesus wanted Peter to see, not in part but the whole of things. That’s why this moment between Jesus and Peter is one of grace; it was spittle gently applied to his eyes (much like he did with the blind man). All he could see was blurred images, but soon he would see clearly.

What was true for Peter is true for us. Jesus desires that we not only see Him for who He is, but also see clearly the nature of God’s Kingdom. It is nothing like the Kingdom of men that fight for self-preservation at the expense of their own souls. No, we lose our life to Jesus because it is in Him that our eternal lives and joy rest most secure. Do you see?

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Choose Your Weapon

Re:Verse reading–Mark 8:27-38 (day five)

When Peter makes the great confession, there were assumptions that go along with it. Jesus will be a king, a shepherd, and redeemer. Yet they missed the parts of scripture that prophesied of His affliction, suffering, and death. (Isaiah 52-53) Jesus begins to teach them what it really meant for Him to be Messiah. They were thinking/believing that the weapon that would establish and grow the Kingdom of God would be the sword. Then Jesus clears their confusion. When Jesus begins talking about His own suffering and death, maybe the disciples concluded that they would probably meet the same fate. Fear, uncertainty, and self-preservation quickly took over. Peter speaks (rebukes) in strong reaction.

Jesus then describes the strategy and weapon that will establish and grow God’s Kingdom- the Cross. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” The weapon needed is not the sword (political and social revolution), but rather the Cross (humility, sacrifice, suffering, and obedience).

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On The Way

Re:Verse reading–Mark 8:27-38 (day four)

V. 27 – Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned his disciples,”

In this chapter, Jesus begins to focus on His disciples.  V. 27 says “and on the way…”  Jesus was the model teacher.  He took every opportunity to teach God’s ways.  Often, we get so busy getting from one place to another, or from one job to the next, that we forget to model and teach those around us God’s Word.  Jesus was investing His teaching in those who would carry on His message after He was gone.

We are called to do the same.  We are to train the next generations to love God, to know His Word, to be faithful and obedient, and to serve God with a whole heart.  If we want our children and grandchildren to walk in a manner worthy of God, then we must train them. It will not happen by accident.  On the way…teach and train!

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Strength

Re:Verse reading–Mark 8:27-38 (day three)

“The Son of Man will be ashamed…” Shame seems to have become little known in our current society. How quaint a notion it is. Surely we’re more authentic, honest, and accepting now, whereas our forebears denied their feelings, repressed their desires, and shunned those who violated arbitrary behavioral standards. Religious talk of shame such as this verse just seems to cement the perception of shame as a tool of the powerful to force the weak to tow the line. But it’s really all of us who detest weakness–that very avenue that Jesus said is the only way to strength and life. We’re so ashamed that the Savior would live a weakling’s life and die a weakling’s death that we attempt to reimagine God in our own heroic image. And the Lord says, “I never knew you.”

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