Limiting God’s Power

3 December 2017 AM – Mark 9:14-29 – Mr17 – Scott Childs

Introduction: The story is told of a bushman who knew very little about civilized life. One day he went to town to buy a saw. A chainsaw salesman promised him that he could cut down a hundred trees a day with this fine saw. Proudly the bushman bought the saw and headed for the woods. A week later the exhausted bushman returned to the store to complain. He said, “You promised this saw would cut 100 trees a day and I worked for a whole day and only cut down one.” Surprised the salesman examined the saw. Everything was in fine condition. He then pulled the starter cord and it roared loudly. The startled bushman jumped back in fear and said, “What’s that noise!” The saw had no power because he had never started the engine.

As Christians, we too often accomplish little of any value because we limit God’s power. This was the problem Jesus’ disciples had.

Transition: This morning I want to see two things that Jesus said limit God’s power in our lives.

The 1st thing that limits God’s power is …

1.        Lack of Faith (v.14-27)

a.         First, let’s summarize the context
1)         Jesus just came down from the transfiguration experience. A man with a demon-possessed son came looking for Jesus to heal his son (v.14).
2)         In Jesus’ absence, the disciples tried to heal him and failed. Evidently, the Scribes were disputing with the disciples because of their failure.
3)         Upon His return, Jesus took charge (v.15-18).
4)         Jesus rebuked all of them for being faithless (v.19).
5)         He evaluated the problem (v.20-22), and then He told the father that if he believed, all things were possible (v.23).
b.         Now let’s define faith.
1)         Faith is acting upon trusted information.
a)         The words “faith” and “believe” are from the same Greek word. (Hebrews 11:1) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, Faith is confidence of things hoped for, conviction of things not seen.
b)         We cannot have faith in something we know nothing about. Thus, the Apostle Paul wrote, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17). Hearing of God’s power in His word can build faith in your heart. That is one of the reasons personal Bible study is so important.
c)         All true faith produces action, or it is not faith. (James 2:20) “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
c.          Lack of faith limits God’s power
1)         God can do anything! (Jeremiah 32:17) “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:”
2)         The disciples failed because they lacked faith (v.19).
3)         The father would have failed to receive help if he lacked belief or faith (v.23). Faith is trusting and acting upon God’s word.
4)         If you try to serve the Lord in your own abilities, you will lack God’s power. Power does not reside in talent or technique but in dependent faith in God.
²  Seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:15) were powerless to cast out demons without personal faith in the Lord. “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”

5)         Self-confidence and pride in our talents or abilities will limit God’s power. If we sing, play an instrument, witness, teach, serve or preach in our own abilities, we will lack God’s power. Note what God said through Isaiah. (Isaiah 42:8) “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
d.         Faith in God is required to receive His power (v.23)
1)         Note the father’s response to Jesus’ challenge.
a)         He cried out with tears.
b)         He begged Jesus to help his unbelief.
c)         The man’s humble prayer revealed sufficient faith. Jesus healed the son.
2)         Does God still heal today? Yes, in answer to prayer, but not through professed “healers.”
a)         God can answer a sincere prayer for healing.
b)         With God, all things are possible but God knows that healing is not always best. Sometimes the ailment is necessary to make us depend on Him. This was true for Paul. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9).
The 2nd thing that limits God’s power is …

2.        Lack of Prayer and Fasting (v.28-29)

a.         This is what limited the disciples!
1)         The disciples asked Jesus why they failed.
2)         Jesus said it was because they did not pray and fast.
a)         They did not prepare their own hearts through prayer and fasting. Fasting intensifies prayer.
b)         They did not depend fully on God through prayer. They ministered in their own strength.
3)         Jesus said in (John 15:5) “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
b.         What can prayer do for us?
1)         By prayer: God gave Gideon courage (Judg 6:39); God sent down fire for Elijah (1Ki 18:38); God softened the king’s heart for Esther (Est 5:2); God caused the king to let Nehemiah rebuild Jerusalem’s wall (Neh 2:6); God gave Daniel wisdom to interpret the king’s dream (Dan 2:19); God sent an angel to let Peter out of prison (Ac 12:7).
2)         It is through prayer we get right with God. (1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
3)         Through prayer we can draw near to God. (James 4:8) “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
4)         Through prayer we can petition God’s help. (Philippians 4:6) “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
5)         Through prayer we can receive from God. (1 John 5:14-15) “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” Sometimes when our request is not God’s will He will answer is “NO.” Even when God’s says “NO” we still received from Him.
Conclusion: Faith is acting upon God’s promises. Prayer is depending upon God’s power.

Today we have learned that lack of faith and lack of prayer limit God’s power in our lives. The disciples went through the motions of healing but nothing happened because they were trusting in their own abilities not in God’s power. Have you been limiting God’s power through lack of faith? Have you been trying to serve God by your abilities without God’s power? It won’t work! Your talents are useless to God if you are not depending on Him.

The disciples also lacked God’s power because they did not pray sufficiently. How is your prayer time with God been lately? Do you just pray a few shallow, thoughtless, hasty words as you rush about your day or are you seeing God work through your prayer?

If you are a Christian, you CAN have God’s power on your life as you serve Him, but you must fully depend on the Lord. It takes effort.

The first faith a person needs is faith in Christ for eternal salvation? The only way anyone is going to get to heaven is by faith in Christ. Forgiveness and eternal life cannot be earned. They must be received as a gift. If you will admit you are a sinner and believe that Christ paid your sin’s debt, you can ask Him and He will forgive you and give you eternal life.

Song: Teach Me to Pray – 346