Sunday, March 10, 2013

Do You Believe?

Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things [are] possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"                                 Mark 9:23-24  NKJV
Something I have always appreciated about this passage and the story it tells is the honesty of this man looking Jesus in the eye and admitting he had a problem with unbelief.  Now obviously, he had faith enough to seek Jesus out believing He had the power to heal his son, yet he almost seems to be admitting that he also had doubts.  How often do we too, as believers, understand and believe that God has the power to do something, yet also have doubts as to if He will.

Speaking about this story, Ray Stedman had this to say about this man’s admission;
He said these words which have been the encouragement of many since: "I do believe; help my unbelief!" Out of the honesty of his weakness, he cast himself on the Lord. "Yes, Lord, I do believe; but I feel my unbelief and I don't know how to handle it. You make me believe." That kind of faith is small, but it is like a grain of mustard seed -- it is able to move mountains. The moment he said those words, the moment he cast himself in his weakness back on the Lord, that was all God wanted.

Now many might say that having doubts at times is perfectly normal, but I want to suggest that rather than normal, it is a result of forgetting the past, and focusing only on the present.  It seems to me that many of us suffer from what we could call the “Doubting Thomas Disease”, a condition where we feel our belief must be based solely on what we can see.
The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."                                                              John 20:25  NKJV

What I find really unfortunate here is that Thomas seems to have forgotten all that he had already seen Jesus do in the past few years.  Never mind that he had seen miracle after miracle performed by Jesus which should have proven without a doubt that He had the power to resurrect Himself.  After all, Thomas had seen Jesus bring Lazarus back to life only a few weeks before, yet he still had doubts, and wanted to see for himself.  Yet after Jesus appears to him and settles the matter of doubt, He says something to Thomas we should all make a point to remember.
Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed [are] those who have not seen and [yet] have believed."                                                                                         John 20:29  NKJV

Those who choose to believe without having seen are not only blessed, they are also said to have “faith”.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.                                                                                 Hebrews 11:1  NKJV

What do we as believers “hope for”?  I think most of us would answer that question with the word “salvation”!  Because we have heard the testimony of scripture, admitted our need for salvation, and have chosen to believe that Jesus is the Son of God sent to pay the price for our sins we then look forward to the day we will join Him in heaven.  Paul put it this way in his letter to the Corinthians.
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,                                                                                              2 Corinthians 5:2  NKJV

Why do we groan?  Personally, I groan because I understand that this life has nothing for me in comparison with what my eternal future life with Christ in heaven has to offer.  I don’t know about you, but I am increasingly impatient waiting for the day He will return for His church.  It is the knowledge of His promises to us, and the testimony of His Word, that helps us to walk in faith until He comes again.
For we walk by faith, not by sight.                                                                                                   2 Corinthians 5:7  NKJV

I would have loved to see Jesus face to face as the disciples did, and to watch Him perform miracles and minister to those who followed Him.  But I do, however, have the testimony of His Word which tells me of all that He did and that is more than enough for me.  Yet that is not to say that He is not at work among us today, for there are many examples of His presence among us in answers to prayer and provision for His people all around us.  Has He answered any of your prayers lately?  To me, that is just the icing on the cake.  To not only believe in what He has done, but to also see Him at work in our lives today.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, [being] much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see [Him], yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of [your] souls.                                                                                               1 Peter 1: 6=9  NKJV

Faith is acting on what you believe.  Do you really believe?  Find a way to act on it this week.  The father with the sick child had doubts, but he still had enough faith to come to Jesus and confess his doubts.  Jesus came through for him, and He will come through for us.

Keep watching.