Monday, September 9, 2013

"This Kind" - Part One

"He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation,
 how long shall I be with you? 
how long shall I suffer you? 
bring him unto me."
Mark 9:19

It must have been quite a blow to have Jesus look into your eyes 
and into the eyes of the surrounding crowd
and call all of you a "faithless generation".

I think had I been standing there that day,
I would have more than likely shirked off into the background someplace private.
I would have hung my complete shame.
I would have not been able to withstand the piercing condemnation
that came from seeing the disappointment in His eyes.
Especially, if I was one of His Own.
A disciple.
An elite.
A part of His inner circle.

After all He had their presence.
After all they had seen and been eye-witnesses to.

Still, they had no faith.
Still, they doubted what He could do.
How it must have frustrated Him!
You can hear the tone of His words.

I can just picture Him shaking His head in total and complete amazement
at their lack of belief in His power and abilities.

The circumstances surrounding His remark had to do with a desperate man
who brought his severely afflicted, devil-possessed son to Jesus' disciples,
with the hopes they could cast out the devil and rid him of his awful problem.
The man, obviously had faith.
Otherwise, he wouldn't have approached the disciples asking for help.
The problem came when the disciples could do not as the man asked.
The disciples did not have the required faith
to take authority over satan and command him to leave.
They doubted.
They had unbelief.

How could they?

These men were eye-witnesses.
They weren't hearing of Jesus' power second-hand.
They weren't reading about His power in the Holy Bible.
They were right there.
Walking with Him.
Day after day.
Seeing the multitudes.
Watching the sick, lame, maimed, and broken-hearted
walk away healed, restored, whole, and mended.

They witnessed the demise of demons and how they had no power or authority
standing in the presence of Almighty God, in the flesh.
They watched as Jesus freed people who were demon-possessed.
How He commanded the devil to release control,
and how the devil had no choice but to do as he was told.

They saw this.
They knew this.
They knew Him...were convinced of His identity.

Yet, when a pitifully-distressed father brought his anguished, demon-possessed son
to them for them to step out in the faith in the power of Jesus name
and take authority over the root cause of the problem,
Jesus' disciples did not have enough faith to do what needed to be done.

So, the boy remained tormented.
Bound to the chains satan had wound around him.
Torn, foaming, teeth-gnashing, and fainting.
Unable to help himself
Powerless to break free.
Enchained, tormented, and hopeless.
Standing in the presence of the men who followed Jesus everywhere He went.
Men whom He had chosen.
Men who should have believed.

Had even one of them ventured to believe,
had just one of them dared to speak to the devil, in Jesus' name,
the victory would have been won.
Because satan trembles when he comes within earshot of that name.

No wonder Jesus found the whole thing incredulous.
Had they learned nothing of all He had endeavored to teach?
Hadn't He gone beyond words and demonstrated His authority time after time?
Hadn't He told them that they would do even greater works than He had done?
That all they needed to do was believe in the power of His name and what He could do?
What was their problem?

"...bring him unto Me", Jesus said.

As soon as the demon in the boy came into contact with Jesus,
it acted out.
When the boy saw Jesus and the demon within him discerned who Jesus was,
it showed itself.

"And they brought him unto Him:
and when he saw Him, straightway the spirit tare him;
and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming."

We don't read anything about the demon recognizing Jesus' disciples.
Could it be that the devil sensed their lack of faith,
and he didn't perceive them as any form of threat
so, he was comfortable enough to feel "safe" inside the boy?

I believe the devil can sense a lack of faith.
When he does, he jumps all over the tiniest seed of unbelief,
adding fuel to the flame.
Bringing disparaging thoughts.
Coming up with new add to our doubtful minds.
Reinforcing his position, digging in his heels, and winding a tighter chain.

One look at Jesus, and the devil started to worry.
He knew the stranglehold grasp he possessed over the boy was now jeopardized.
He knew Jesus had never lost a battle against him.
He knew his time had come, and this was one soul he would not claim.
So, he had the audacity to dare to torment the last time....right there in the presence of God.

Jesus asked the man how long his son had been tormented in this way.
The man told Him it had come upon him when his son was a child.

A child.
Wouldn't you think a child would be safe somehow?
Don't you think a little, defenseless child should be cut some slack?
Even by satan?

You would think so, but unfortunately this is not the way it is.
He doesn't care.
He is 100% evil.
He will attack anyone weak.
The weaker, the better, in his book.
He loves to destroy the defenseless.

Did you ever notice how when you are at your lowest point,
he pounces the hardest?
Do you think he will give those a pass who are young, inexperienced, and most vulnerable?
Do you think he lets up on those who are elderly, strength-diminished, and dependent?

Satan does not fight fair.

Somehow, he had managed to gain complete control over this father's son,
and the anguish and torment it had caused was untold.

The man was at his wit's end.
I can't imagine his pain and disappointment when the disciples could not help him.
This was the last straw...for him.

Then Jesus spoke these precious words,
"If thou canst believe, 
all things are possible to him that believeth."

Oh, bless God!
Praise His wonderful name!
A glimmer of hope sprang in the man's heart.
A ray of light shone that hadn't been there before.
This encounter was going to be different.
This Man...this Person....speaking these words....
there was something so different about Him.
Something so powerful.
So real.
So intense.
There could be no challenge to this Man's authority.

"And straightway the father of the child cried out,
and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

Can you feel his torture?

He had a measure of faith.
His faith was mingled with shreds of doubt.
There was, mixed with the hope that Jesus could do this,
some fear that maybe He couldn't....or wouldn't.
The man recognized his own unbelief.
He acknowledged it.
He admitted the truth.
He confessed his need.
He wanted victory.....more than anything in the world.
This man was crying.
Clinging to the hope that had just appeared on his horizon.

His tears touched the heart of Jesus.
Jesus saw...He heard the anguish in the man's cry.
He saw straight through right into the man's inner soul.
And He gave the man exactly what he asked for.

Jesus helped his unbelief.
He took the faith offered to Him,
He esteemed it as precious,
and He added more faith to it...
casting out the man's doubts.
He gave the man what he wanted.
He healed his son.
He took control and authority over the devil,
He spoke directly to the problem,
and He cast the devil out.
And said, "enter no more into him."
Permanent healing.
Total release.
Complete defense.

When Jesus and His disciples went inside, His disciples came to Him privately.
There was one burning question on their minds.
Shame covering their faces.
They had failed.
They couldn't deliver.
They were powerless.

"Why could not we cast him out?"

"And He said unto them,
This kind can come forth by nothing,
but by prayer and fasting."

And there it is.
The answer.
To their lack.

I have pondered this verse for years.
Looked at it from so many angles.
Tried to dissect it.
What does "this kind" mean?
This kind of what?

I believe Jesus meant
the kind that will spawn such audacious faith 
that we will dare to stare satan in the face
and take authority over him, in Jesus' name.
The kind of faith that is so sure,
so rooted,
so steadfast,
so definite,
that it absolutely expects the work to be done,
when it asks it to be.
The kind of faith that won't let go.
That takes control.
That dares to stand on the authority of Almighty God and His precious promises,
and to command the victory, in Jesus' name.
Faith that is grounded to the firmest of relationship with God Himself.
Faith that has seen God and become convinced of His identity
to the point that it will dare to stand firm in the most adverse circumstances.
Faith that becomes real substance before hope becomes reality.
Evidence...before results are seen.
Faith that absolutely envisions a finished work.
Faith that doesn't see the blind man asking for healing, but a seeing man walking with no cane.
Faith that ignores the doctor's report of cancer,
because God said nothing was impossible to him that believes.
Faith that pierces past the MRI results, because God, not man, is in control.

This kind is not automatic.
This kind is not easy.
This kind requires sacrifice.
To obtain this kind, one is compelled,
to fall on the face,
bathed in anguish,
prostrate before God,
tears falling, splashing on the floor,
pleading, interceding, daring to ask...
GOD for it.

This kind comes by wanting it so bad,
we are willing to go beyond just prayer.
This kind requires an added element of sacrifice....
a giving up of food.

Wait a minute!
Fasting is so hard.
So difficult.
It means I can't have what I want...just because I want it.
It means I will have to pass on feeding my flesh...
for a period of time.
Is that pushing things too far?
Is that asking too much?

Fasting isn't the most popular item of discussion these days.
I rarely, if ever, hear it preached.
Is it too old-fashioned?
Do you know anyone who actually does it anymore?
Could this be part of our problem?
Could this be why we have such little, if no, real faith or outstanding power with God?
Could this be why Jesus asked,
"Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh,
shall he find faith on the earth" in Luke 18:8?

He prophesied that in the end times, we would be just as in the days of Noah.

"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking,
 marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away;
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be..."
Matthew 24:37-39

Food is a modern-day god.
Everything we do, every social event, every celebratory occasion...
revolves around food.
We have mastered its creative potential...
in the most scrumptious and presentable of ways.

To state that we all have to eat is unnecessarily redundant.
Food is essential to life.
But, has something that is vital to life become something
that is spiritually life-depleting and faith-impeding
because of our over-indulgence and refusal to lay it aside,
from time to time,
for the sake of the good of the Kingdom of God?
Have we built its pedestal so high that we refuse to abstain...
to obtain "this kind"?

This kind is in a class by itself.
It is resilient.

This kind will dare to speak in Jesus' name,
commanding satan to leave and take all of his control elsewhere.
This kind will "resist the devil", knowing, without a doubt,
that "he will flee".  (James 4:7)
This kind does not cower.
This kind is not the norm.
It is fearless.
Void of doubt and unbelief.

Jesus said it comes only through the combination...
of prayer and fasting.

Is He asking too much?
How bad do we want it?
Is He asking anything more of us...
than what He did Himself?
Didn't He pray?
Didn't He fast?

If He, being the Son of God,
God in the flesh,
God, personified,
felt the need to pray....and fast....
shouldn't we?

Isn't "this kind" worth the sacrifice?

(The Holy Spirit has brought more thoughts on this subject, 
to the point that I need to publish it in at least two parts.
I feel led to end the discussion here for now.
Part two will be published within the next few days, Lord willing.
Please check back soon!)

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