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DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Today’s scripture reading:
Jesus’ words do not mean that we can automatically obtain anything we want if we just think positively. Jesus meant that anything is possible if we believe, because nothing is too difficult for God. We cannot have everything we pray for as if by magic, but with faith, we can have everything we need to serve him.
The attitude of trust and confidence that the Bible calls belief or faith is not something we can obtain without help. Faith is a gift from God. No matter how much faith we have, we never reach the point of being self-sufficient. Faith is not stored away like money in the bank. Growing in faith is a constant process of daily renewing our trust in Jesus.
The disciples would often face difficult situations that could be resolved only through prayer. Prayer is the key that unlocks faith in our life. Effective prayer needs both an attitude—complete dependence—and an action—asking. Prayer demonstrates our reliance on God as we humbly invite him to fil us with faith and power. There is no substitute for prayer, especially in circumstances that seem impossible. (NLT)
Mark 9:14-29 – At the foot of the mountain they found a great crowd surrounding the other disciples, as some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. The crowd watched Jesus in awe as he came toward them, and then they ran to greet him. “What is all this arguing about?” he asked.
One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son for you to heal him. He can’t speak because he is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever this evil spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground and makes him foam at the mouth and grind his teeth and become rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you until you believe? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.
He replied, “Since he was very small. The evil spirit often makes him fall into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us. Do something if you can.”
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
The father instantly replied, “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!”
When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Spirit of deafness and muteness,” he said, “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy lay there motionless, and he appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.
Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”
Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”
Paul wrote, “[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NRSV)
Mary J. Penny (Alabama) titled her story “WHAT ELSE IS THERE?” Here is Mary’s story:
“We lost our only son to suicide; our daughter lost her only sibling. Even though we have had other losses, this has been the most devastating loss we have experienced as a family.
“My daughter asked me recently if my faith in God has held. Is my faith enough? I thought about this a long time. My faith had surely been tested; and I had experienced times of despair, doubt, sorrow, and even anger. I had read scripture, prayed more than ever before, attended church, participated in a grief group, and received comfort from friends. Still, I was not yet able to answer her question. I mentioned the conversation to a friend who said, ‘But what else is there? What is the alternative to faith?’ My friend’s response went to the heart of the question. I had my answer: Yes, my faith is holding. The grace Jesus offers is sufficient.
“My faith may not be as strong as I would like it to be, and I have more questions than answers about my son’s death. I do believe my faith will see me through my earthly life. Nothing is better than my holding to faith in Jesus Christ. With the father in today’s reading, I cry, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – God is always with us – whatever our circumstances.
Prayer: May we never abandon our faith, Lord, because we know you will never abandon us. Help us to hold on to your promises of hope and eternity. Amen.
Prayer Focus: FAMILIES AFFECTED BY SUICIDE
To read other stories in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
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