Journal Mark 9 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: [A stranger says to Jesus] “’But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’
And Jesus said (declared with emphasis), ‘If you can!?! All things are possible for one who believes.’
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:22b-24
Observation: Belief and unbelief—these conflicts in the mind of man–especially found with emphasis in the mind of believers.
Application: This belief/unbelief conflict is possibly the most difficult discipline for a Christian.
It is for me, anyway. Perhaps others have it nailed.
I find I must tackle it in a few ways.
- I recognize it as a gift from the Holy Spirit and not a mind game effort.
- I don’t think it is the power of positive thinking, as Norman Vincent Peale proposed, nor the folks who aspire to prosperity teaching.
- It is not a superpower, even though there are times (in my vanity) where I imagine it so.
Just like the disciples who could heal in His Name and cast out demons in His Name BUT there were times they couldn’t perform, belief and unbelief were recognized and called out by Jesus to his group of 12 knuckleheads (even Judas Iscariot).
The question then becomes, “How do I strengthen belief and weaken (or vanquish) my unbelief?” Are faith and belief synonymous (are they different words but the same definition)? How do I get there?
- I must renew my mind (Ro 12:2-3):
“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God…”
- I must change my perception and conform to what the Bible says this world is about and not necessarily what my eyes see:
“For John (the Baptist) came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him…And even when you saw it, you did not afterwards change your minds and believe him.” (Matt 21:32)
- Plant His word deep in my heart systematically, cultivating like a trained farmer wanting a full and hearty harvest, looking for a defined and visible, measurable maturity.
“When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” John 2:22
“…If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples…” (John 8:31b)
“Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” (1 Tim 4:15)
I remind myself (as a way of encouragement and to not lose heart) that this is a life-long effort and not a one-and-done.
Note: this is not about doubt/unbelief (like belief in salvation), at least not in my mind and should not be in any reader’s mind either.
This has everything to do after that initial step of “I believe that you are my redeemer”, and now what? What am I supposed to do now?
Prayer: Father, how does my faith increase? I know, by implanting your Word. Let it grow tall, strong and deep within, and help me to bear good fruit within the mirror, the family, the church, and this world.
Ricky Two Shoes