Tag Archives: unbelief

Belief and Trust

“Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
Luke 5:12b-13, NLT*

Imagine the fervent, desperate hope in the leper’s voice – in his heart.

There was no cure for the disease at the time, and Luke calls it an “advanced case.” He might have been missing fingers, toes… part of his nose.

He believes – he knows – Jesus can heal him.

So he asks. Luke says he begs. There’s no sense of entitlement here. He’s lost all that a long time ago.

Jesus touches him – touches a potentially contagious untouchable. And Jesus heals him. Instantly.

The man is now whole. Clean, as opposed to unclean. Once the priests confirm it, he can go back to his home, his family. He’ll even be happy to go back to work.

Two things stand out to me in this man’s example: his belief and his trust.

He has no doubt that Jesus has the power and authority to heal and cleanse him.

If You are willing” suggests that he knows not everyone who asks gets healed. Even if he doesn’t know that, we do.

Unbelief can cripple our prayers. Remember the father of the demon-possessed boy? “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief”? (Mark 9:24, NLT*) But even believing prayers may be answered with a “no.” Remember how the Apostle Paul’s believing pleas for relief from his “thorn” were denied because it better served God’s Kingdom purposes for the thorn to remain. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

We need to pray “if You are willing, You can…” but we can’t let the “if” become doubt of God’s goodness.

In one sense, of course He’s willing – as in, He doesn’t want to see us hurting, and He loves us. But because He loves us so much, loves the whole planetful of us, sometimes His wisdom chooses to allow an unpleasant situation to continue, for the ultimate good – for us or for others.

“If You’re willing” must never become “If You’re good” or “If You love me” … or even “If I deserve it.” It simply means “You can, so I’m asking, but I don’t know Your full plan.” And we need to trust His heart, however He answers.

Almighty and all-wise God, Your plans and purposes are beyond our understanding, but You have clearly revealed Your heart in Jesus’ life and death. You’ve revealed Your power in His resurrection. If You are willing – if You choose – You can do anything. Forgive us for the times we doubt Your power, and for the times we doubt Your love. Help our unbelief. Teach us to trust You and to live and pray with confidence in Your care.

Trusting the God we know when we don’t know the details or the future… Here’s the Newsboys with “Lord (I Don’t Know)“. I’ve used this one as a prayer before.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Unbelief, or Rest?

So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.
Hebrews 3:19, NLT*

“They” were the Israelites, led by Moses. The people who heard God’s voice on the mountain and begged in terror not to hear it again. The people who experienced the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna in the desert. The people who swore to follow and obey God.

Hebrews 3:16-18 says they rebelled, made God angry, sinned. Disobeyed Him. Not just with the golden calf, but by refusing to enter the Promised Land because they trusted their fears more than they trusted God.

A lot of their disobedience came from unbelief. Aren’t we the same?

Sometimes we don’t believe because we don’t want to—we don’t want to obey, or to let go of our own ways or understandings.

But sometimes we don’t believe because we’re afraid. That’s when we need to pray, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” (See Mark 9:22-24)

God knows our weakness, and He wants us to get it right. He wants us to enter His rest, that’s why He invited us. We only need to ask.

Thank You, God, that You don’t disqualify us for our weakness, but You invite us to ask for help. Thank You for such grace and love to help us, again and again, when we’re in need. Help us remember to ask You—help us believe and obey.

We had this song back in November, but it fits again here: Brian Doerksen’s “Enter the Rest of God.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Belief and Unbelief

I’ve posted recently about believing the truth of God’s Word rather than our feelings or our circumstances: Believing the Truth and Handle with Care. This is one of those slow-learning areas for me, where I keep needing the message reinforced.

God has been doing that very nicely through a couple of Violet Nesdoly‘s Other Food: daily devos posts, and I want to share the basic nuggets here and encourage you to read her full entries if you haven’t already.

In Doubt, skepticism (a.k.a. unbelief), Violet looks at the sin of unbelief–and its consequences. Then she challenges:

I ask myself, do I as a believer in Jesus live a life characterized by belief or unbelief? What about you?

Her Clay Backtalk post includes this insight:

Being content with our lot in life, including our physical appearance and the strengths and weaknesses with which we were born, is part and parcel of our confidence/belief in God.

It’s so easy to forget to believe, as silly as that sounds. To forget to act on what we believe. To begin to complain or criticize our Maker. I’m thankful for these reminders to live like what we believe is true–because if we’re believing God, it is!

Repent and Believe

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’
Mark 1:14-15 NIV*

To repent is to intentionally turn from one way and walk in another. Feeling remorse yet staying the same doesn’t count. You might say “repent” means “straighten up and fly right”.

It’s abandoning sin and embracing God.

“Sin” raises images of evil, and those are the things we know need repenting. But I’m struck by the awareness of other types of sin that are better defined as “missing the mark”.

Specifically this verse has me thinking about the combination of “God is near… repent… believe the good news.”

On the Twolatincats blog, Lynda Schultz said “Stressed by our limitations, we hardly think to even call on the Spirit of God to illuminate the darkness of our minds, and untangle our tongues.” She was talking about that panic moment when we have a chance to speak of Jesus but can’t think quickly enough of what to say, but her words resonated in my spirit with this Scripture.

God is near. Why is it so easy to forget, to think I have to handle everything on my own? (And then to fear messing it up.) There’s such peace in knowing He is near.

Father, it looks like I’m back to praying “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief.” I choose to repent, to turn away from the sense of being alone. To believe the good news that You are near.

This week’s song is Jeremy Camp’s “Right Here.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


I Do Believe

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not … if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:17,18, 22b-24, NIV*

We’ve been talking about Philippians 4 and thanksgiving vs. anxiety for a few weeks now, and the irony is not lost on me: Today started with a sense of restless urgency, and my prayers kept circling back to someone for whom I care deeply.

I reminded myself to pray with petition and thanksgiving, to trust God’s care. Several times. Somewhere in the cloud of nervous energy He helped me realize something: today’s issue isn’t about my loved one, it’s about me.

Is there an immediate problem or danger? No, although I sense trouble in the offing. Does God need to do anything about it this second? No, although I believe He has a plan and a timetable for action, and has been calling people to pray.

So where’s the trouble? It’s me, fretting. Not letting go as I pray. Not being confident in God’s ability to work all things to His glory and His children’s good.

This always brings me back to Mark’s story of the man and his son, as I echo the man’s words: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus, help me believe You. You haven’t given me any specific word about this particular need, but I have plenty of truth in Your Word to cling to. You have already won the battle, and all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to You. Thank You for the peace You give when I finally stop long enough to remember Who You are. Thank You for what You will do, in the Father’s perfect timing and wisdom. Thank You for caring about me and my loved ones today.

I’m so thankful for Scripture, and for music which reminds me of God’s truth. A song that spoke peace to my spirit just now is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Yours.” Take time to let the words sink in….

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.