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May 23, 2013

Text: “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Descending from the mountain where he had been transfigured before Peter and James and John,  Jesus returns to the other nine disciples to find a firestorm. In His absence the nine left at the foot of the mountain were arguing with some scribes.  The nine had been accosted by a distressed father who asked them to evict a demon which had long possessed and endangered the life of his son. Their attempts failed at what Jesus could have done easily. The troubled father then turned to Jesus and described the child’s situation. He closes with a request of Jesus: “…but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.”  Jesus reassures the father saying, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” The father responds with a wonderful payer: “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Belief (or faith) is a necessary quality. Hebrews 11:6 reports, “And without faith it is  impossible to please him.” (i.e. God)  Furthermore, Jesus said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life…” John 3:36  Thus faith is a necessity for going to heaven. Faith is more than just saying it is so, it is putting what you believe to work. “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:12

To be sure, we all have doubts, uneasiness, qualms,  and vacillations. The strength of our faith can rise and fall due to circumstances, setbacks, or fear of ridicule or persecution for what we believe. During periods of trials or tragedies our faith may waver. Loneliness and despair may provoke dubiety. But that is part of our humanity.

Even those we admire as great men of faith had their uncertainties.  Jesus on a few occasions called his twelve apostles “men of little faith”. Peter sank in Galilee when trying to demonstrate his faith (Matthew 14:28-33).  Thomas doubted the reports of Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:24-25).

Here is what we must not allow to happen. We must never allow our faith to be compromised.  Satan would like nothing better than to infiltrate and weaken our belief. Doubt must not be allowed to undermine our faith. Doubt is insidious and is patient to work slowly on us. Trounce it before it gets strong.  Do not reproach or loathe yourself. This is the self-pity that the Devil uses to wear you down. You may waver, but never break. Remember what was said of the faith-hero Abraham. “No distrust made him waver concerning the promises of God, but he grew strong in faith as he gave glory to God.” (Romans 4:20, RSV)

Here are some pointers to strengthen faith.  “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous,  be strong.” I Corinthians 16:13  “Resist him, firm in your faith…” I Peter 5:9  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”  Colossians 3:16a  “…taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one…” Ephesians 6:16 “But you, beloved,  build yourselves up on your most holy faith…” Jude 20

So, when you feel doubts, pray to God, “Help my unbelief.”

And don’t forget to repent and rebuild.

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