Topic: Wednesday Evening Bible Study
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Matthew 17:14-21 NKJV And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, (15) “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. (16) So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” (17) Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” (18) And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. (19) Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” (20) So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (21) However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
The unbelief made their faith un-productive.
Jesus called them “faithless.” What is interesting about this word in the Greek language is that it is “apistos” or “not believing, like an unbeliever.”
(Same story in Mark 9:14-29)
So the Disciples had been successful in casting out demons before but Mark points out some things that contributed to the unbelief of the Disciples and kept them from being able to cast this demon out.
- They were trying to cast the demon out in front of a large group of people.
- Their critics were standing right there disputing with them while they were trying to do this.
- When the child came to them, the spirit probably responded to them by throwing the boy down in front of them just like it did with Jesus.
The unbelief came when they had the report of their eyes, the report of their fears, and the report of their critics.
They felt the pressure and it allowed the unbelief to surpass the power and anointing that was on their lives that Jesus had put on them to do the work.
Jesus shows up on the scene and Jesus did not care what the people thought, He did not care what the scribes thought, and He was not moved by the report of His own eyes looking at what was happening to the boy. He was only concerned about pleasing His Heavenly Father and doing the Word of God.
We need to understand that the disciples were not rebelling against God and refusing to believe Jesus. They thought it was going to work and it did not.
What is unbelief?
Two types of unbelief in the Word:
Hebrews 12:1 NKJV Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
There are weights and there are sins.
Sin causes unbelief, however it is easy to get rid of sin by confessing it to the Lord and allowing the Blood of Jesus cleanse and forgive you.
This can be a rebellious unbelief such as caused an entire generation to be lost in the wilderness because of their unbelief and kept them from receiving their Promised Land.
Hebrews 3:19 NKJV So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Mark 4:18-19 NKJV Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, (19) and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
None of these things initially are sins but they can become sins but they can choke the Word of God in their lives.
The seed of the Word is not diminished; it just gets choked off by these things and is not allowed to produce. (Hosepipe illustration)
It is getting wrapped up in the things of life and it causes the Word to get smothered by other things.
Jesus did not allow the things of this life to choke the Word in His heart.
Which consumes the most time in our lives? Is it the things of the Word of God or the things of this world that are consuming the majority of our time in life?
Matthew 17:20-21 NKJV So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. (21) However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Remember, Jesus said that this kind of unbelief does not come out but by prayer and fasting.
Sometimes it takes a lifestyle change to get rid of unbelief in our lives.
Fasting is the putting away of the hindrance and the prayer is the replacing of it with the Word of God and spending time with God.
Why is it that we are not consumed with the Word of God like we used to be? Have we allowed the things of the world to creep in and fill our time?
If you want to get rid of unbelief, you must starve it to death.
In other words, you will have to cut some things off that are feeding that unbelief in your life, but that is not enough.
You must replace unbelief with the food of God’s Word and spending time with the Lord.
Again, you do not overcome unbelief with more faith, you must destroy the unbelief.
You are causing that hose to become unclogged and closed off and it will allow the power of God to flow through you unhindered.
Romans 10:17 NKJV So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 12:3 KJV For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
(Matthew 9:28-29 MSG) When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” They said, “Why, yes, Master!” (29) He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.”
How did this unbelief work?
James 1:5-8 AMP If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. (6) Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. (7) For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, (8) [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].
When the disciples were countered with the contrary information, they allowed those doubts to enter in and became double-minded.
Think of the power of God working through us like a water hose. When the water has a clear unhindered path to flow through, it is able to accomplish what it needs to. But if the hose gets blocked, or kinked, the water cannot flow freely through it and thus nothing gets the water.
The same is true with us. Unbelief is the clog or kink in the pipe of God’s power that He desires to have flow through us.
You are causing that hose to become unclogged and un-kinked and it will allow the power of God to flow through you unhindered.
- What I starve dies; what I feed thrives.
Just like faith is fed, unbelief is fed.
The way unbelief comes and grows is by listening to the reports of what you can see with your own eyes, the reports of circumstances, and the reports of people.
- If you want to get rid of unbelief, you must starve it to death.
You do not overcome unbelief with more faith, you must drive out and destroy the unbelief.
In other words, you will have to cut some things off that are feeding that unbelief in your life, but that is not enough.
You must replace the unbelief with the food of God’s Word and spending time with the Lord.
Romans 4:19 NKJV (19) And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
- You will not be able to stay strong in faith if you continue to look at the natural negative circumstances.
Abraham DID NOT CONSIDER his body. If you look at the natural negatives, you will talk yourself out of the promises that God has made to you.
Some think that God always works in measurable degrees. He may work either way: with a “suddenly” or over time. In other words you may pray, and things get worse instead of better. The news may not always conform to what God has said.
Abraham does not deny his circumstances. He refuses to focus on them.
Romans 4:20-21 NKJV He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, (21) and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
Who was it that fully persuaded Abraham? Did God do it? Who then persuaded Abraham? Abraham persuaded Abraham.
- You and I have the responsibility to persuade ourselves to believe what God has already said.
James 1:1-4 NKJV James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. (2) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (4) But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Patience is not what brings you the answer to your prayer.
Patience is what keeps you in faith while the answer is on its way.
Patience works on you while faith works on your problem. That is why they work together.
If we become impatient, we can stop our faith from working.
James 1:5 NKJV If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James gives us asking for wisdom as the example for something we are praying for.
Wisdom is the number one thing that we can get from God.
James 1:6-7 NKJV But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (7) For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
When you pray for wisdom, you may not immediately get it and that is why he says do not waver. It still has to be received by faith.
You may be in the middle of a crisis and need wisdom immediately and so you ask for it but it may not come immediately and in the way you think it should.
We must not waver after we ask. Wavering will lead you to doubt and doubt will lead you to completely lose your answer.
The enemy’s approach is always going to be through your mind.
The negative circumstances that happen in our lives are designed to be attacks on your mind more than attacks on the natural side.
The mind is the front door of your house.
Satan operates on the power of suggestion coming against your mind.
Those thoughts are seeds in the fertile soil of your mind.
Those thoughts will then spread to your emotions. You were designed for your mind and your emotions to work together. God designed you to be able to feel that thought as well as have the thought.
Your emotions have to be managed and controlled. You can become a slave to your emotions.
When controlled, your emotions can become wonderful helpers to you. But your emotions are not problem solvers but rather can be like throwing gasoline on a fire.
This is a great story of someone controlling their emotions.
2 Kings 4:18-37 NKJV And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. (19) And he said to his father, “My head, my head!” So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” (20) When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. (21) And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out. (22) Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.” (23) So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.” And she said, “It is well.” (24) Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” (25) And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel. So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the Shunammite woman! (26) Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’ ” And she answered, “It is well.” (27) Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the LORD has hidden it from me, and has not told me.” (28) So she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?” (29) Then he said to Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way. If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him; but lay my staff on the face of the child.” (30) And the mother of the child said, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. (31) Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing. Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him, saying, “The child has not awakened.” (32) When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. (33) He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the LORD. (34) And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. (35) He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. (36) And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite woman.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” (37) So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out.
Her faith was in the Prophet coming to her house.
This woman did not allow her emotions to take over in her life.
This story tells us that it is not over unless God says it is over.
What is the process of doubt?
If you understand how doubt works, it is much easier to keep it out of your life.
Mark 11:23 NKJV For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
It is possible to have doubt in your head and not in your heart. You have to keep doubt out of your heart.
Matthew 14:22-32 NKJV Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. (23) And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. (24) But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. (25) Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. (26) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (28) And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (29) So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. (30) But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (31) And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (32) And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
We have the idea that when we are right in the middle of the will of God, that everything runs perfectly smooth. That just is not true.
It is the fourth watch of the night which is a little bit before daybreak.
If you have to wait for an answer for a long time and it looks like it is coming down to the line and the Lord comes through it is always great and miraculous.
Don’t throw in the towel. Hang in there because He will come through for you.
It was Peter’s idea to walk on the water as a way to prove that it was Jesus.
Peter looks at something that is completely irrelevant to his walking on water to Jesus. Whether it is storming or it is a bright sunny, calm day has nothing to do with walking on the water.
There is one thing that is enabling Peter to walk on the water and it is the one Word that Jesus spoke, “Come.”
When you are in the middle of the battle and the circumstances are storming all around you, remember they are irrelevant to your victory. The determining factor of your victory is the Word of God and whether you hold fast to that Word.
God’s Word gave you something to stand on.
When you look around at your circumstances is when doubt is going to arise.
However, when you have that thought of doubt does not mean that you are going to immediately sink. Peter began to sink.
How do I keep doubt out of my heart?
When doubt begins to cast its seeds into your mind you cannot ignore them. You must respond to them.
Luke 6:45 NKJV A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Have an answer already prepared before you need to have an answer.
Develop your answers before the time of battle.
Proverbs 15:28 NKJV The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.
You eliminate doubt by studying to answer ahead of time.