January 14 “Unbelief”

Unbelief

Unbelief was an affliction more damaging to the soul than leprosy to the body.
It was more binding to the spirit than demon possession to the mind. Jesus could reverse the degeneration of disease with miraculous regeneration of tissue. With a word He could send demons away shrieking in terror. When he encountered unbelief, sicknesses remained and demons relaxed. His mighty words fell to the ground like spoiled fruit from a tree too late in the harvest. He walked this earth in the power of the Spirit but it was a divine power working through human agreement. Faith made all things possible. With unbelief impossibilities remained in power.

Two Sides of the Sea of Galilee
On one side of the sea, miracles abounded—lives were changed by His words and His touch. On the other side, after demonstrating His dominion over hell, the local leaders sent Him away. They saw no more miracles. Back on the faith side, miracles continued. The presence or the absence of faith was the difference—Jesus was the same.

Back to Nazareth
A delegation of “His own people” had made the crossing and tried in vain to get Him cease and desist. Surely the pain of this brought Him to the synagogue in His hometown. The details of this worship service are given in Luke’s gospel. Mark deals with the broad strokes of the story. He taught with unusual authority and the people were astonished. They could only see such behavior as pretentious and above His station in the community. As if by reflex, they tried to cut him down to the proper size.

“Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?”

“His own people” were offended by Him. They thought they knew Him but they were mistaken. They believed something that wasn’t true and this amounted to unbelief. We can hear the pain in Jesus’ voice.

“A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives,
and in his own house.”

There is much more to the story but we will leave that do Dr. Luke. The sad epitaph given by Mark is this:

Now He could do no mighty work there…because of their unbelief …

Traveling light, Jesus had few belongings so gathering them up took little time. On His way out of town a few people reached out to Him in faith and found in Him the healer they needed. On He went to preach His message to those who would believe.

Such a Strange Truth
It seems excessively strange that the God who can do absolutely anything would limit Himself to accomplish the things that require human beings to believe. Yet the words of Jesus affirm this fact time and again:

  • With faith as small as a mustard seed you can move mountains.
  • All things are possible to him who believes.
  • Impossible things for men are possible with God.
  • Without me you can do nothing.

This is a fact of life, a fact of faith. This is the secret behind the need for our prayers. With them we confess our agreement with God; we express our belief. Believing is health to our bones. Believing is safety to our lives. Believing sets the promises and power of God in motion.

Scriptures:
Mark 6: 1-6
Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.
Matthew 17:20-21 NKJV
I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
Mark 9:23 NKJV
“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Luke 18:27 NKJV
“The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
John 15:5 NKJV
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Prayer:
Lord, I believe in You! I believe in Your Word. I believe in Your Holy Covenant. I believe You hear and answer prayer. I believe that by Your stripes I am healed. I believe and my faith is bigger than a mustard seed so I will speak to the mountains in my path and watch You move them. I am a branch in You, the Vine, and I believe I will bear much fruit. With this confidence in You, I believe nothing is impossible when I am following You. Lord, I believe in You! Amen.

Song:
Have Faith in God
Traditional

Have faith in God.
Have faith in God.
Have faith in God for the answer,
Have faith in God.

God answers prayer.
God answers prayer.
God answers prayer in the morning,
Have faith in God.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory Devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

August 2, 2017 “Waiting”

Waiting

Do you know anyone who is good at waiting?
Waiting occupies the time between the moment a need is realized until it is met.

  • It could be a few seconds, like waiting for the thunder after the lightning struck nearby.
  • It may be a matter of minutes as in waiting for your food to arrive after the waiter has taken your order.
  • We wait for days for an order we placed online to arrive in the mail.
  • It certainly is a careful accounting of weeks and months until a new baby arrives.
  • Perhaps we wait (and work) faithfully for years building the credits to be awarded the degree.

We wait seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, years—and sometimes, a lifetime.

It would be accurate to suppose that any moment in anyone’s life is a moment spent waiting on something.

A Skill Learned in Childhood
Just when a child is old enough to communicate what he/she wants, he/she has to learn how to wait. Even as adults, we are never quite happy about “waiting our turn” if what we are waiting for promises to be pleasurable.

On the Path of Life, waiting takes its place alongside the other essential skills required by the prospect of getting from here—life on earth—to there—life in the glories of heaven:

  • Learning skills: reading, writing, listening, speaking—and waiting;
  • Spiritual skills: believing, confessing, praying, praising, reading the Word—and waiting;
  • Interpersonal skills: loving, being lovable, supporting, being supported, honoring; receiving honor—and waiting;
  • Financial skills: giving, receiving, saving, investing, spending, selling, buying—and waiting.

I need not go on.

A Skill Demanded by Adulthood
I don’t mean a certain age, though sometimes age and adulthood arrive simultaneously. What I really mean is spiritual maturity. Waiting is an exercise in faith, a demonstration of confidence in God, a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in advance of answered prayer.

Since waiting is something we all must do, let’s put a smile on our heart as we wait on God.

  • Parents of prodigals—God has heard your prayers and is at work in their rebellious, trouble hearts.
  • Pastors of troubled churches—keep preaching the Word, loving God and feeding the sheep. Jesus still brings down walls of hostility.
  • Worship Leaders and Lead Worshipers—keep praying and leading in prayer, praising and leading in praise. The Lord has promised to pour out His Spirit in the Last Days.
  • Students—keep on studying; salesmen keep on selling; managers keep on managing and workers keep on working.

Waiting is not passive inactivity. Waiting is the work life demands—the planting, watering and tending that brings the harvest.

Scriptures:
Psalm 130
Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication. If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand? For there is forgiveness with you; therefore you shall be feared.  I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, wait for the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy; With him there is plenteous redemption, and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.
Hebrews 6:13-15 NIV
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
Psalm 27:13-14 NIV
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 37:1-7 NIV
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Jude 20-21 NIV
But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Titus 2:11-14 NIV
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Romans 8:23-25 NIV
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to wait in faith believing! When answers to prayers are delayed, I will wait in faith believing. When needs persist, I will trust in You and wait in faith believing. When it seems the enemy will win, I will wait for Your victory in battle. As I praise You, give me confidence. As I obey You today, going about my work as if everything is just fine, each completed task draws me closer to Your answer, Your provision, Your reward. I will wait upon You and You will renew my strength! Amen and Amen.

Song:
Waiting on the Lord
Words and Music: Charles F. Weigle

1. Waiting on the Lord, for the promise given;
Waiting on the Lord, to send from Heaven;
Waiting on the Lord, by our faith receiving,
Waiting in the Upper Room.

Refrain:
The Power! The Power!
Gives victory over sin and purity within;
The Power! The Power!
The power they had a Pentecost.

2. Waiting on the Lord, giving all to Jesus;
Waiting on the Lord, till from sin He frees us;
Waiting on the Lord, for the heavenly breezes
Waiting in the Upper Room!

Refrain

3. Waiting on the Lord, longing to mount higher;
Waiting on the Lord, having great desire;
Waiting on the Lord, for the Heavenly fire;
Waiting in the Upper Room.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved