Sunday, September 16, 2018
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"
Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve been looking at what we need to do together to see the hand of God move out of these walls. I thought about writing a covenant agreement for everyone to sign. This church is on a journey. A journey that was born from a vision of another Church to grow right here in Willowick and to be a mission outpost. Right now, we are in the midst of changes; some major, some minor. But in order for us to see that vision, we must overcome a hurdle that lies in the way of every saint. A hurdle that has tripped many Christians from seeing vision fulfilled in their individual lives and in their fellowships. That hurdle is unbelief.
In our lesson today, we hear of a man whose son is possessed by a demon. The disciples were trying to cast out the demon, but they couldn’t. Almost out of desperation, the father goes to Jesus. The man asks Jesus to help his son if He could. Jesus replied with a powerful statement, “all things are possible for one who believes”. Then the man said something that I believe is said by virtually every Christian at one point or another. “I believe, help my unbelief”.
There’s no doubt in my mind that there are people in this room today who believe in Jesus, the Bible, miracles, etc. But there are times when God asks us to do something that appears to be too large for us to handle. Looking in the mirror, we begin to doubt, or just flat out suffer from unbelief.
Star Wars gives us great example of this unbelief in the Empire Strikes Back. Luke Skywalker goes searching for someone one who will train him to become a Jedi knight. He crashes his fighter on the swampy planet of Degobah. There he’s shocked to find that the one who is to train him, is an old, small green guy by the name of Yoda. In the scene I'm referring to Yoda is trying to convince Luke that he’s able to lift his spaceship from the swamp. It’s a lot like when God asks us to do something that seems virtually impossible.
Yoda tells him, “unlearn what you had learned”. There are times in my past, and even times today, that I do exactly what Luke did. Luke admitted defeat before he even started, and he grumbled and complained. And, he was filled with unbelief.
There are things in our walk with the Lord that He asks us and expects us to do. And to accomplish and fulfill our vision, purpose and destiny we have to operate, not in the realm of doubt, but in faith. So, this morning I want us to look at the effects of unbelief, and how we can overcome it.
Unbelief can prohibit vision fulfillment; Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them. (Numbers 20:12)
Unbelief can prohibit a miracle from being birthed in your life; And so He did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief. (Matt 13:58)
It can bring discouragement among God’s people; But the other men who had explored the land with him answered, “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So, they spread discouraging reports about the land among the Israelites – (Numbers 13:31)
It can weaken your defenses; In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan (Ephesians 6:16)
It can prohibit peace in troubling times; Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion. Frantically they woke Him up, shouting, Teacher, don’t You even care that we are going to drown? When He woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the water, Be Still! Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. And He asked them, why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in Me?
What must I do to overcome unbelief? Unlearn what you have learned. The world teaches you to say, I’ll believe it when I see it. I’ve heard many people say that they would believe in God and the Bible if they would see some type of evidence or sign. I really don’t think that would work, because it didn’t even work with those who physically walked with Jesus. They saw many signs and wonders, yet they still struggled with doubt and unbelief.
The ways of God are totally upside down than those of the world. Instead of saying, I’ll believe it when I see it, the Word of God teaches, I’ll see it when I believe it.
So, you may be asking yourself, how do I do that? The answer is in Romans 12:2. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you’ll know what God wants you to do, and you’ll know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is. We have to let God, through His Word, help us to unlearn what we have learned by changing how we think.
Read the Word of God (Romans 10:17); So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
So where does faith come from? It comes by reading and listening to God’s Word. The more and more you get into His Word, He will change the way you think. Because you see, faith doesn’t make common sense.
Believe (have faith in) the Word of God
Many of you read God’s Word, but do you believe it? I’ve heard many utter the number one lie out of the pit of hell. I don’t have any faith. The Bible clearly says that God has given everyone a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). Jesus told His disciples that if they had the faith of a mustard seed, they could look at a mountain and tell it to cast itself into the sea (Matthew 17:20). When we understand that God will honor His Word, and He has given us a measure of faith to believe His Word, His promises will be obvious in your life.
The Bible teaches us to have a child-like faith. There are many things that we believed, or had faith in, when we were children. We believed that when we placed our tooth under our pillow, there would be a dime or a quarter there in its place the following morning. But I believe that when Jesus said that we should have a child like faith, He meant we need to get past our “intellectual reasoning” and believe as a child. We as adults always want to analyze things, where children usually take things at face value.
Act upon or (do) the Word of God; Here’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s one thing to read the Bible, and it’s another thing to believe it (even the devil believes it) but acting on it is what can move the hearts of others.
When Christ was here on Earth, we know that He did some awesome miracles. Some of those miracles were the result of someone reaching out to Him in faith. They heard about Jesus, they believed that He was able, and they acted on their faith.
Our faith has an effect on someone else (Mark 2:5). The Bible tells us that there was a time when Jesus was teaching in a man’s house and it was packed full of people. There were some men who had a friend who was crippled, and they were carrying him, but they couldn’t get through the crowd to bring their friend to Jesus. So, they went on top of the house to lower Him down through the roof. You see when you want something bad enough, you may have to go by some unconventional means. But the Bible said that when Jesus saw their faith, He told the man on the stretcher to take up his bed and walk.
So how do I overcome unbelief? Put your faith into action. The book of James tells us, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Faith without works of faith is dead, it’s just talk. But a genuine faith will produce works of faith. And when you see God move in your life, it will assist you in overcoming unbelief.
You may read the Word, but do you believe it? If you believe it, are you doing it? There may be those in this room right now who have never asked Jesus in their lives, or once did, and have fallen away because you’re struggling with unbelief.
If you’re here this morning and you’re struggling with doubt or unbelief in an area that God is leading you into and would like prayer, while I'm praying for the specific needs of those who have asked in advance, tailor your personal prayer and ask for help with your unbelief.