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Mark 9:14-29

And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them.  (15)  And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.  (16)  And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”  (17)  And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute.  (18)  And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”  (19)  And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”  (20)  And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  (21)  And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.  (22)  And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  (23)  And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”  (24)  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  (25)  And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running 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.”  (26)  And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.”  (27)  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.  (28)  And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”  (29)  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Faith That Glorifies

True disciples of Jesus live by faith which glorifies God

Warren Wiersbe once said: “The Christian life is ‘a land of hills and valleys.’” The “hills” are times of genuine spiritual renewal when we’re seeing Christ more clearly and when we sense His presence more fully. We’re growing in our faith, and we have a hunger to know God’s Word and to do His will. These are the “hills” – mountaintop experiences – like the disciples had on the Mount of Transfiguration. We cherish the “hills.” We need these hills. The hills refresh and renew us.

The “valleys” are times for us when we struggle spiritually. It seems to be a challenge to take God at His Word and to trust His plan for our lives. We think about our work in the ministry and wonder if the sacrifice is worth it, or we may be frustrated by a lack of engagement from people – we plan and we organize, we give of our time, and people say, “nah.” That can be discouraging, and we fade into depression, we drift from God’s Word, and our prayer life disappears. These are the “valleys” of the Christian life.

When Peter, James and John came down off the mountain, Jesus led them into the valley below. And in leading them into the valley, Jesus, The LORD of Faith, taught His disciples some very important lessons about effective kingdom ministry work: that it can only be done by the power of God. Genuine believers in Jesus Christ are disciples of Him who live by faith, and Jesus wants His disciples to know that sometimes they LACK faith.

Our faith is imperfect, doubts can mix in (v.14-18)

A man with a demon-possessed son shows up looking for Jesus, but Jesus was up on the mountain. The disciples tried to help but they failed. The disciples loved Jesus. They were committed to Him. This isn’t a matter of genuine faith v. false faith, belief v. unbelief. They had been given authority from Jesus over demons, but in this case, they could not cast out the demon. The disciples discovered that they had limitations in the flesh. This was spiritual work that required spiritual strength. We cannot fight spiritual battles in the flesh. We will lose, just like the disciples.

Jesus is the LORD of faith (v.19-27)

He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He wants our total dependency on Him so that He can do His work.

(v.19): “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?”  The issue Jesus has is with the disciples but identifies that the problem isn’t a problem that’s restricted to a few people. This is a problem that affects everyone.

(v.20):  …when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  When evil spirits are confronted by Jesus, there is always a violent reaction because they KNOW who He is.

(v.21):  And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.”  Jesus knew about this boy. He knew how long he had been suffering. Jesus wasn’t asking the question for Himself; He was asking the question for the dad and those watching and listening. Jesus was demonstrating sympathy by allowing the man to share his pain. Mature faith seeks unity, and is sympathetic, compassionate, tender, loving, humble.

(v.24):  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  Jesus intended to use this man as an illustration for the disciples of what even imperfect faith in Him can accomplish. The Lord is not limited by imperfect faith; even the strongest faith is always mixed with a measure of doubt. Keep in mind that self-sufficiency is the enemy of total dependency; if He is the LORD of faith, then we line up under Him.

Trusting in ourselves demonstrates a lack of faith. Prayer acknowledges God’s power (v.28-29)

Why did the disciples fail? Because of a lack of faith. (v.29)  “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”  Mature faith says, I KNOW I can’t do this on my own; immature faith says: “I’ve got this.” The point is that a lack of faith ignores the power of God. Have we tried to serve others with the same self-reliance as the disciples? John MacArthur said: “Prayer is the highway that faith takes into the power of God.”  We can’t ever approach kingdom ministry from a human standpoint – from the strength of men. It requires faith in Christ, and that faith will be manifest as prayerful dependency.

The mountaintop experiences refresh and encourage our faith. The valley experiences challenges and refines our faith. Both are important. And a faith that glorifies God is one that lives in total dependency to Christ, relying on His power, seeking to do His will.


(Zechariah 4:6b)  Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

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