This morning I want you to place yourself in a father's situation. This situation is discussed in Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, and Luke 9:37-42.

I invite you to read with me as we read Mark 9:14-27.
When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. And He asked them, "What are you discussing with them?" And one of the crowd answered Him, "Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it." And He answered them and said, "O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!" They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief." When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again." 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!" But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.

Place yourself in this father's situation. Your son is born! As a father (in that world), you are filled with such a sense of joy. This is your heir! This is the one who will let your name live! This is the one who will continue the traditions of your family and their presence on earth! This is much more than the birth of another baby--it is your family's hope for the future!

  1. Quite early in the child's life it is obvious something is seriously wrong.
    1. At first you notice that your son is not learning to talk.
      1. That deeply distresses you, but nothing you try helps.
      2. As time passes and you see more, your distress grows deeper.
      3. One day your son who cannot talk has a convulsion.
        1. But it is more than just a convulsion.
        2. It is like some unseen force suddenly throws him on the ground.
        3. There he writhes uncontrollably and foams at the mouth until he becomes very still and stiff.
        4. It is as though he died.
        5. Then slowly he revives.
      4. It gets worse.
        1. One day this violent force seizes him and throws him into the cooking fire.
        2. If Mom had not been there, he would have died in the flames.
        3. Another day this violent force seizes him and throws him into a stream.
        4. If you had not been there, he would have drown.
    2. It becomes evident that something far more powerful is wrong with your son than just physical problems.
      1. Something seeks to violently kill him.
      2. He will go for a while living as normally as a child who cannot talk can live.
      3. Then, suddenly, with no warning, he is slammed to the ground, or thrown into a fire, or thrown into some water.
      4. Each time this violence happens, someone is near to rescue him from death--he surely cannot help himself.
      5. But inside you know it is only a matter of time when he will die a violent death.
      6. Some demonic force wants to destroy him, and there is nothing you can do.
      7. As months fade into years, you give up hope and deep within accept the inevitable.

  2. Then one day you hear about a man by the name of Jesus who has power over demonic forces, and you hear he is in your area.
    1. Frantically, you find out where he might be found.
      1. With difficulty you take your son on foot to locate this man.
      2. Even though you hoped to see the man Jesus himself, you found only nine of his disciples.
        1. Like everyone else in the crowd around the nine you want to see Jesus, but you hear that these men also have power over demons.
        2. You make opportunity to approach the nine, explain your son's need, and ask for their help.
        3. They are nice folks and listen to you willingly, with compassion.
        4. After hearing the problem, in the confidence that they can help, they try to help, but it is obvious to them and to you that they do not have the power to throw the demon out of your son.
      3. Your hopes fall.
        1. Maybe no one can help.
        2. Maybe Jesus himself could not help.
        3. Maybe you were foolish for thinking anyone could help.
        4. Maybe you were stupid for bringing your son out to what now seems to you a desolate place.
      4. Instead of finding help, you sparked a fierce argument between some of the critics who watched and the nine.
        1. When the nine could not cast the demon out of your son, the critics verbally confronted them.
        2. The critics did all they could to shame and disgrace the nine.
    2. Just as your hope hit bottom and your distress overwhelmed you, the man Jesus appears with three of his disciples.
      1. He sees the argument and asks what is going on.
      2. You see your opportunity and explain the situation.
        1. "My son has a spirit that prevents him from speaking."
        2. "Sometimes that spirit seizes my son, slams him into the ground, makes him grind his teeth and foam at the mouth until he becomes stiff."
        3. "I asked your disciples to throw this spirit out of my son, but they could not."
      3. Jesus groaned when he heard the nine could not make the demon leave.
        1. His spiritual influence on them had not produced what he longed for them to have.
        2. He asked for the boy to be brought to him.
        3. At that moment the spirit throws the boy on the ground, and the boy rolls around and foams at the mouth.
        4. Jesus asks you, "How long has this been happening?"
          1. You say, "Since he was a child" or as we might say, "All his life."
          2. Now your desperation speaks--your hope has been dashed once.
          3. In desperation, he asks, "If you can, take pity on us and help us."
        5. Jesus answers, "If I can? All things are possible to him who believes."
          1. The father responded with what I consider one of the most truthful statements ever made to Jesus: "I do believe; help my unbelief."
          2. Jesus commands the spirit to leave and never return.
          3. It did, but the spirit leaves the boy looking dead.
      4. Jesus, the life giver, raises the boy to his feet.
    3. Later, in a house, in private, the mystified disciples asked Jesus, "Why could we not drive the spirit out of the boy?"
      1. Jesus' answer was brief and to the point.
      2. "Only prayer can force this type of spirit out."

  3. We live in a very evil world and a very evil society.
    1. Yet, we are so deceived we often think that we live in a good world.
      1. Every day of our lives, evil influences seep through our pores and saturate our minds and emotions.
      2. Every day of our lives, evil invades our souls and convinces us to regard forms of evil as blessings.
        1. Daily, commercials persuade us to measure the importance and success of our lives on the basis of (a) what we own and (b) what we consume.
        2. Television programs and movies frequently tell us that sexual perversion, sexual pleasure, and sexual addiction are common, are good, and are desirable--and to think otherwise is ridiculous.
        3. News stories often tell us that causes are more important than people.
        4. Political statements often confuse justice with the preservation of our life styles.
    2. As a result, when we search for the causes of our personal struggles, we Christians commonly begin the search outside ourselves.
      1. "Let's straighten the nation out, and all our problems will vanish."
      2. "Let's straighten our community out, and all our problems will vanish."
      3. "Let's straighten the church out, and all our problems will vanish."
      4. "Let's straighten theology out, and all our problems will vanish."
      5. "I wish you would get control of your family, because when you do, I will not have any problems."
    3. Far too few of us say, "God, straighten me out; that is the foundation of my problems."
      1. This world is not fair, and if you believe otherwise you are deceived.
      2. This life is not just, and if you believe otherwise you are deceived.
      3. Society is not composed of a majority of kindness, and if you believe otherwise you are deceived.
      4. God did not ask us to go into all the world and make it fair, or just, or kind.
      5. He said go into all the world and find people who will make Jesus Christ their Lord by learning to live life as he teaches.

  4. All of us have struggles, and all of us hurt.
    1. In your hurt and struggles, what is the solution?
      1. Are the struggles created by someone else, or are the struggles found in you?
      2. Is step one addressing everyone else's shortcomings, or dealing with yourself?
      3. Is your hope in Jesus Christ, or is you hope in controlling other people's lives?
    2. Many times Jesus emphasized the importance of believing.
      1. Too often we are like the father.
        1. We hurt as our world crumbles and we watch helplessly.
        2. We struggle as we oppose all the forces "out there" trying to find hope.
        3. Then our hope is dashed and desperation rules us instead of faith.
      2. As we are brought to our knees, we say, "Lord, if You can do anything, take pity on me and help me!"
        1. We say to the Creator, "Lord, if you can do anything..."
        2. We say to Him Who gives life, "Lord, if you can do anything..."
        3. We say to Him Who resurrects from death, "Lord, if you can do anything..."
        4. We say to Him Who rules eternity, "Lord, if you can do anything..."
      3. And when He finally "gets through" to us, He says, "If I can do anything?"
        1. And suddenly we understand, we realize who God is, who Jesus is, and who God's presence in our lives is.
        2. And when we do, with a heart writhing in agony, with shame, we shout, "Lord, I believe!"
        3. And even as our hearts shout our belief, we know it is so small, and we beg God to deepen its roots.

The key in coping with our struggles is not "fixing" everything else. The key to coping is not even "fixing" ourselves. The key to coping with our struggles is learning to trust our God--even in death.

None of us can realize the wonderful things God plans for us if we will learn to trust what He does for us in Jesus Christ.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 15 June 2003
Study Along With David Chadwell
A Worship Worksheet
June 15, 2003

This morning place yourself in the situation of a ______________________.

Quite early in the child's ___________ it is obvious something is wrong.

At first you notice your son is not learning to ________________.

One day your son has a ___________________.

It seems that some force is ________________ him to the ground.

One day the force throws him into the _____________ ______________
and another time it throws him into a ___________________.

You conclude there is more wrong with your son than _____________ _____________.

Time passes and these type events continue and inside you begin giving up __________.

One day you hear about a man named ______________ who has power.

When you look for him, you do not ___________ him. Instead you find __________ of his disciples.

The nine cannot help you despite their efforts and an ___________________ breaks out among the people who are there.

What is the reaction of Jesus when he learns the nine can't help? _______ __________.

Why does he do this? _____________________________________________________

Why does Jesus tell the disciples they could not drive the demon out?

What type of world do we live in? _______________

What are the influences around us?

We __________________ begin the search for our personal struggles outside ourselves.

What do we usually blame for our struggles?

What is the real solution to our hurts and struggles?

The key to coping with our struggles is learning to _______________ God. Always!

How does your trust in God show today?

provided by Gary Brown

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