[3-24-96]
Greetings

It has been an interesting week for me. I discovered I have pneumonia, praise God for antibiotics, the winter temperatures dropped to -15 F, and I finally got my furnace fixed (we've been heating with wood since September).

I received a letter this week from an observant member showing me that I accidently cited 1Pe 1:16-18, when I should have written 2Pe 1:16-18.

Another comment that came to me concerned my song suggestions, that I include the words and perhaps a midi file of the music. I will include the words to the songs, but unfortunately I don't have the facilities to include midi files. Most of the songs that I refer to can be found in an excellent song book titled "Songs of Faith and Praise", by Howard publishing Co. Inc. You can contact them at 1-800-858-4109, or ask at your local Christian book store. They also offer audio tapes of all the songs and a computer program for song leaders to be used in conjunction with the book.

Welcome To Our Newest Members

This Week's Devotional

In last week's devotional we stood on the Mount of Transfiguration and saw the Glory of Jesus. This week we join Jesus, Peter, James, and John as they come down the mountain and rejoin the other disciples. What they have witnessed must be kept a secret, but they will never falter in their faith again - or will they?

Open your Bibles to Mark 9:14-29. Read this section through several times until you are familiar with the text.

Verses 14-15

Have you ever gone on a spiritual retreat and drawn close to God only to return home and find things in complete chaos? Before you realize it you have been overwhelmed by the world and the Lord seems far, far away. Suddenly the four are surrounded by the noisy crowd and the mountain top experience seems to fade away.

Verse 16

Jesus did not try to avoid the situation but confronted it head on. The Spirit will always lead us to resolve life's problems, not avoid them. Do you find this true in your life? (see 2Tim1:7)

Verses 17-18

The man had done the right thing. Imagine his disappointment when the Apostles could not heal his son. Imagine the frustration of the Apostles when they found themselves powerless to help. Imagine the whole situation degenerating into a side show, with the Apostles arguing back and forth with the Teachers of the Law, while the whole crowd looked on.

Have you ever gone to God with your prayer for help and been disappointed? Have you ever tried serving God with your Spiritual Gift only to find yourself ineffective? Have you ever found yourself angry, arguing, and under attack? Losing control and helpless? When these things happen it is usually because you have your eyes on yourself or the problem at hand and not on God. God always responds to faith, always empowers to serve, always provides the answer and always sows love and peace, but not in the absence of faith.

Verse 19

Jesus words are directed both at the man and the Apostles.

Verses 20-22

In the presence of Jesus the demon's anger and hatred lash out one last time to destroy the boy. The sight of the boy being torn about before their eyes strangles the last trace of faith the father possesses, could anyone overcome the power of the unclean spirit. "but IF you can do anything," these words are the goal of Satan. It is his desire to plant them in our hearts and make our relationship with Jesus powerless and hopeless. When doubt enters into our prayers Satan laughs. Remember the Glory of Jesus on the Mount and "hear Him."

Verses 23-24

Jesus' harsh words are like a slap in the face. "everything is possible," is not a guarantee that we will get everything we ask for, it is a promise that God is all powerful and able to rescue us from any situation. (see Eph3:20-21)

The man's desperate cry for help is common to us all. Again the man does rightly in confessing his need to the only one has the power to supply answer. Do you confess your weaknesses to God? Don't be afraid to admit that you are weak and helpless, if the Apostles had done that, they would have found that God alone could supply the strength and power they lacked to heal the boy.

Does Jesus rebuke the father for his lack of faith? See what he does.

Verses 25-27

Jesus did not heal the boy for publicity, he cast out the demon before the crowd arrived. His words "never enter him again" show the absolute power of Jesus to have authority over unclean spirits.

The father stands over the "lifeless" body of his son. Had the demon won? Is this Jesus's way of freeing the boy, to let him be killed. Had Jesus failed like his Apostles? The fathers heart must have been near breaking as the crowd arrived and agreed that the boy must be dead. If only we could see the nearness of God during those dark moments when it seems that we have been abandoned by God. We must learn to take our eyes off our circumstances and fix them on Jesus. He is always the answer to our needs and He is always near and able to save.

Just when it seems like all is lost, Jesus lifts the boy up and he is alive, and free of the unclean spirit. Now the father believes. Jesus has granted his request for help both in the boy's healing and in the man's faith. The Lords ways are always perfect.

Verses 28-29

Here we see the Apostles doing what is right. They have been humbled by their failure and they confess it and turn to Jesus for help. We must always view our failures as opportunities for us to approach God and find forgiveness and help. Jesus explanation shows that the Apostles had grown over confident of their own authority and power to cast out the demon (see Mrk 6:7), and had forgotten where their authority came from. Our prayer life is a good indicator of our level of faith. If you don't pray daily, you are not faithful (full of faith). Nothing is more important than to establish a strong prayer life. Look at Daniel, he prayed three times daily and look at how God was able to use him. (see Dan 6:10) Do you pray earnestly three times a day? Why not start today? Some situations yield only to faithful prayer.

This Week's Song

Faith is the Victory

Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise,
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith they, like a whirlwind's breath,
Swept on over every field;
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

To him that over comes the foe
White raiment shall be given;
Be fore the angels he shall know
His name confessed in heaven;
Then onward from the hills of light,
Our hearts with love a flame;
We'll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus' conquering name.

REFRAIN

Faith is the victory!
Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory
That overcomes the world.

Our Prayer

Father, we confess that our faith in you is often overcome by doubt. Forgive us and work in our lives through your Word and our circumstances to make us learn to depend on you.
In Christ

Greg Spencer

gspencer@execpc.com

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