Thursday, July 18, 2013

Are You Running Today's Race on Yesterday's Faith

God gave you both the desire and the faith for what you are believing for. The desire often manifests as a strong feeling that seems to grow stronger. It is visceral, palpable, and deeply knitted into the very fabric of your soul. Psalm 34:7 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The problem is, we very much remember the desires of our heart, but we often forget how to delight ourselves in the LORD. It is innately human and natural to let disappointments distort the perception of our faith. Too often we stop at, “I just don’t have the faith for that.”

My husband and I went to an estate sale a couple of weeks ago. On the way, Adam pointed out the street name on the opposite side—Whit’s End.  He couldn’t help but notice the play on words. He asked me jokingly, “How would you like to live on ‘Whit’s End?’
The truth is, many couples feel like they are stuck in this precise spiritual location. A lot of junk mail has piled up with their names on it. They have come to a dead-end in one or more areas of their lives and feel that this must just be their permanent address. You may even feel like you have somehow let God down because of an apparent lack of faith. I have learned that we are often harder on ourselves than God is. Jesus does not condemn you for not having faith, He meets you just where you are so He can give you new faith.
One of my favorite passages is in Mark 9, where the father of a son who was possessed by a spirit since childhood approached Jesus. In verse 22, the father speaks, “It has often thrown him both in the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” In verse 23, Jesus responds to him, “‘If You can?‘ All things are possible to him who believes.” Keep in mind, earlier the father had brought him to the disciples, but they could not cast the spirit out. For years the father had experienced the emotional and spiritual turmoil of raising a child with such an extreme infirmity. The father was completely exhausted and exasperated. You could say, for all intents and purposes, he had been living at his “wit’s end” for quite some time.
This Scriptural account gives us insight into the enemy’s tactics in our lives. One of his favorite schemes is to wear us down to such a point that doubt and unbelief become a residual part of our spiritual makeup. The enemy knows that Jesus has all authority—that is something he can never change. Therefore, his tactic is to try to skew our perception of Jesus. Notice the father’s words, “if You can…” When the word “if” enters through your mind in a negative package, you can be sure the author of that thought is Satan himself. Remember in Matthew 4:6 when Satan tempted Jesus: “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
This is why in Mark 9 Jesus had to address the father’s unbelief first. Satan had utilized the passage of time, marked by disappointments and delay, to plant seeds of doubt in the father. Jesus had the power to heal his son and the desire to heal him. Jesus wanted the father to first know Him personally in His true identity—as the Son of God.
When the father received this revelation, his response is powerful. In verse 24, the father said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” At first read, you may think this is a contradictory statement. If he believes, how can he have unbelief? But, if we were to be honest with ourselves, we all know this is exactly how we have felt at different points in our lives. Through the father’s statement, we glean a better understanding about faith.
·         Faith is not something that originates in ourselves- The father’s statement showed the spiritual dichotomy of human nature versus God’s nature. He effectively was saying, I don’t have anything left in me that even resembles faith, but You are God. He met Jesus as the Author and the Finisher of his faith.

·         Faith given by God is multiplied in His love- He believed that God was the source of all faith and that through His infinite compassion, He could touch and heal His spirit of unbelief and resurrect new faith in Him. As the father was seeking a physical miracle for his son, the father received a parallel miracle in the Spirit. The son was suffering from a physical condition that had “...often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.” Similarly, I would imagine the father must have oscillated from the fiery anger of confusion to the drowning waters of his emotional turmoil—both seeking to destroy the health of his soul. After Jesus commanded the deaf and mute spirit to come out of the boy, verse 26 says, “After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” Is that not exactly the scheme of the enemy? He wants to get into your soul so that you will not hear (deaf spirit) and not speak (mute spirit) God’s Word in faith. You may even feel spiritually dead instead. Oh, how I love verse 27, “But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.” No matter what you feel, or how it seems…BUT JESUS….

·         Jesus does not run out on us when our faith runs out- God knows that we cannot run today’s race with yesterday’s faith. He designed it this way so that we would have fresh encounters with the Living God. Imagine if you told your spouse, “Remember, I talked to you a month ago.” Many times, we think, we have already prayed, so why bother to talk to God about it again. More than anything, the Lord wants to draw us into intimacy with Him. He longs to hear the voice that He created speak His Name. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts, but we must first delight ourselves in Him.



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