A Father With Two Problems

“Jesus asked the boy’s father,
‘How long has he been like this? ‘From childhood,’ he answered.
‘It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’
‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed,
‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”
Mark 9:21-24 (NIV)

The father we read about in Mark 9 has two critical problems. The first problem concerns his son who is demon possessed. The man’s love for his son is very evident because he brought the son to the disciples to see if they could remove the demon from him. Sadly, the disciples could not assist the son. As parents we are never more vulnerable than when one of our children are struggling with a serious life issue.

The man turned from the disciples to Jesus for help. When questioned by Jesus the father answered the questions and then made the pitiful statement, “…if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Our hearts go out to the man as he shows both concern for the son and is honest about his limited faith in Jesus’ ability to assist him. So, the second problem the father has is his shaky faith in Jesus.

In life, many of us find ourselves in situations like the father in our story. We bring our problem to Jesus, pray for help, but wonder if help will come. Are you in such a place today? You came to the Lord’s people for help, but you came away empty handed. You know Jesus is your final source for help so you come but you wonder if even He can help. Many times I have heard troubled people say, “We have done all we could. Now all we can do is pray.”

When “all we can do is pray”, we need to pray the father’s prayer, “Lord I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” We need to be honest and cry out to the Lord saying, “Take pity on me and help me.” Such prayers will not go unrewarded. Jesus respected both the father’s weak faith and his honesty. So, the son’s problem of demon possession, and the father’s problem of weak faith are both resolved by our compassionate Lord.

Come to your powerful Saviour and come now.

Come to the Savior now, He gently calleth thee;
In true repentance bow, Before Him bend the knee;
He waits to bestow Salvation, peace, and love,
True joy on earth below, A home in heav’n above.

Come to the Savior now, You who have wandered far;
Renew your solemn vow, For His by right you are;
Come, like poor wand’ring sheep Returning to His fold;
His arm will safely keep, His love will ne’er grow cold.

Come to the Savior, all, Whate’er your burdens be;
Hear now His loving call, “Cast all your care on Me.”
Come, and for ev’ry grief In Jesus you will find
A sure and safe relief, A loving Friend and kind.
-John Wigner

The Wonder Of Jesus

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
John 14:9 (NIV)

“They will see his face…”
Revelation 22:4-5 (NIV)

What was it like for the Apostles to see and hear the Saviour when He was on earth? What an amazing privilege it must have been for them! At some level they were astonished at His wisdom, power and grace. One day, when they were caught in a life-threatening storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus was asleep in the boat. The fear filled disciples awoke Jesus.

“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters;
the storm subsided, and all was calm…
In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this?
He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’” Luke 8:24-25 (NIV)

The apostles witnessed the Creator “fine tuning” His creation and they were astonished at His power over the elements.

On another occasion Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus up a mountain and there they saw the Saviour physically changed before them. Luke 9:28-31 (NIV)

“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.
As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed,
and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor,
talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure,
which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.”

So, the apostles saw something of our Lord’s glory in His physical appearance that day and again were astonished and at a loss for words. Jesus is well beyond a full and comprehensive description. As we seek to give a description of the Saviour, we must conclude by saying with the apostle John,

“Jesus did many other things as well.
If every one of them were written down,
I suppose that even the whole world would not have room
for the books that would be written.”

This remarkable Jesus waits for all of His people of all ages to be finally be gathered to His Father’s home where they shall “see His face”. This thought of “seeing His face” can be both thrilling and frightening. As Christians we long to see the One Who loved us and gave Himself for us. But, on the other hand. we think of the experiences of men like Isaiah (Isaiah 6) and the apostles Peter (Luke 5) and John (Revelation 1) who were so overwhelmed at the revelation of the Lord’s glory they sensed they were unworthy to be in His presence.

What will it be for us? I believe our initial response to seeing His face will be a sense of awe, amazement and humility. Then we will hear His voice welcoming us home and to our place in His Father’s mansion. Tears of joy will soon be wiped away and we shall gaze and gaze upon the wonderful face of our Beloved.

The king there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

Mercy, Grace Or Both?

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God…”
1 Corinthians 1:2-4 (NIV)

“But he gives more grace.
Therefore he said, God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6

When studying the Bible, we come across two very important words, “grace” and “mercy”. Which is most important? Our verses today speak about both. As I have said before, grace addresses us as needy and mercy addresses us as miserable. Let us consider the teaching in today’s verses and accept what the apostle teaches us.

First, we learn that grace comes from the Lord. We do not have in our own resources the wisdom and strength to live well and cope with the very difficult issues life brings to us. For example, suicide rates are expected to rise during the covid-19 pandemic. People are in great distress as they lose income, cannot pay their rent, have to choose between buying meds and buying groceries. Very major decisions indeed.

Jesus knew what it was like to be poor. He possessed nothing more than the clothes on His back. He once said He did not have a place to lay his head (Matt. 8:20). Further, Jesus had a thief among the apostles who stole money designated for the expenses of the ministry. Speaking of Judas we read, “…he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:6 NIV) SO when we pray we are talking to someone Who understands from personal experience what we are talking about.

We have an amazing description of our heavenly Father. He is called the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. Could we have a more magnificent description of the Lord? I think not! Do these titles not encourage you to run to Him and pour out your complaint? Why do you linger? Why are you hesitant? Come to Him and come now.

…He giveth more grace… James 4:6

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
Annie. J. Flint

Organized or Chaos?

“’For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord,
‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

One of a parent’s most important duties is to help their children organize their lives. I vividly recall our oldest son and his collection of dinky toy cars. Each day he would have 50-60 of his cars out on the floor. He never tired of playing with them. As we helped him put all the cars away at bedtime he always knew if one was missing. If one was missing, he would know it. He would describe it to us, and we would search until it was found. We were teaching him to organize his young life and keep his toys in order.

When we examine God’s creation, we easily see how it has a pattern, it is all well organized and displays how Someone has put everything in its proper place. Albert Einstein numerous times has commented on how orderly the universe appears. Some atheistic physicists express annoyance at Einstein for his many references to God. However, Einstein, being one of the most brilliant physicists who ever lived, was also honest regarding how the universe had the stamp of intelligent design. He accepted the principle Socrates stated, “Follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

Seeing in the universe profound evidence for a Designer we need to conclude that He also has definite plans for His people. Our verse today assures us that the Lord always works in a logical manner. God’s plan for His people is always for our good and His glory. God’s plan guarantees us a wonderful and glorious future. Whatever happens will ultimately work for our good. Romans 8:28 (NIV) says,

“And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”

Look today at some part of creation and observe the pattern of God’s handiwork. This tells us that God is orderly in all things regardless of how illogical it seems to be to us presently. William Cowper puts it so well in his marvelous hymn that follows. May your heart be blessed today and may you be encouraged to continue in spite of not understanding why your life seems so chaotic at this time.

God moves in a mysterious way, yes
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm

Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face

His purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain
For God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain.

Thank God For Angels

“The time came when the beggar died
and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side…”
Luke 16:22 (NIV)

“An angel from heaven appeared to him [Jesus]
and strengthened him.”
Luke 22:43 (NIV)

“Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong
and whom I serve stood beside me…”
Acts 27:23 (NIV)

As young people raised in Christian homes many of us thought angels were always flying around in heaven or strumming harps. However, when the Scriptural teaching is studied, we discover that they do much more than that. Our verses today give us insight into three very important duties of angels on our behalf.

First, angels come to the Lord’s children when they are about to leave this life and enter heaven. There are many stories of Christians on their deathbeds having visions of individuals the other people in the room did not see. My maternal grandmother had such an experience and I believe she saw an angel who had been sent to escort her to heaven.

Many times, when I attended a saint about to leave for glory, I have encouraged them to look for the angels who will come to assist them as they begin their journey to our Father’s house in heaven. No believer dies alone regardless of whether or not family is with them.

Second, we see our Lord in Gethsemane praying as He is about to go to His death. An angel came to Him and “strengthened” Him. Reading the context, we see that the Saviour is having a difficult time as He approaches the cross to have the sins of the world laid upon Him. He dreads the coming moments when the Father punishes Him during the three hours of darkness. However, strengthened by the angel, He was then fully able to endure the coming hours of extreme suffering.

When the child of God approaches death, they are sure to be met by ministering angels to make them totally ready to take the trip to heaven. This fact does much to relieve us of the fear we may have concerning dying. We shall find grace from the Lord when it is needed. Right now, most of us need grace for living, not dying. So, as we experience grace to deal with today’s issues, let us leave our concerns about tomorrow until then.

Third our last verse speaks about how angels come to believers and encourages them in times of trial. We never go through trauma alone. We may be certain, regardless of the difficulties we face, our loving, sovereign, Father in heaven, is watching us closely and will never ever allow anything to come our way that exceeds His amazing grace. His angels are with us always.

Thank God For Angels!

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

– William Cowper