Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
September 23, 2012
 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them.  And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.  And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”  And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute.  And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”  And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”  And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.  And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  And Jesus said to him, “‘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!”  And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”  And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.”  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.  And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
-- Mark 9:14-29, ESV
What did you bring to Jesus today? You brought yourself, probably in your Sunday best. That’s a good start. Jesus is glad you are here, but I’m not sure He cares that much about how we dress. They say clothes make the man but clothes do not make a man a man of God. Fancy clothes are not required.
You brought your money. In these skeptical days, people think money is what the church is after. Giving is important, but Jesus wants you to be here whether you give or even if you are given out. Money is not required.
You brought your Bible. That’s good. We are a Bible church, after all. But if you did not, Jesus still loves you. And, we have some Bibles available in your pews. Plus, we read the Scriptures slow and plain enough for you to follow along whether you have a Bible in your hands or not. Bibles are not required.
What exactly are we required to bring to Jesus when we come to worship? You may be surprised at what they are. Read Mark 9:14-29 and discover at least a few of the things you should always bring to Jesus.
Bring your problems to Jesus.
The anonymous man in this story, “Someone from the crowd,” said to Jesus, “I brought my son to you” (ref. vs. 17). In other words, I brought you my biggest problem. It was a monumental problem that stretched across spiritual, mental, and physical boundaries. Spiritually, demons were involved. Mentally, the son suffered from terrible seizures and could neither speak nor hear. Physically, the devil in the details of his delirium determined to destroy the boy’s body either by water or by fire. This was an exponential problem!
Frankly, we all share such problems. Who among us is not under spiritual attack by the enemies of God? Who among us does not suffer at least occasionally with some type of mental defect, mania, depression, lack of intelligence, or poor judgment? Who among us is perfectly physically fit and without flaw in the functioning of our body? We all have spiritual, mental, and physical problems and often they become quite severe. Plus we have family problems and financial problems and a boatload of other problems. What are we going to do? Hide them from God and others, or bring them, even publicly and unashamedly, to Jesus?
All too often we hide them from Jesus, from family and friends, from the public eye. Public worship, where God and man can see us, is the last place we want to be. We are not spiritually tuned up, so we don’t come to worship. We are not mentally in the mood, so we don’t come to worship. We don’t have the right physical stuff, clothes and money and a leather Bible, so we don’t come to worship. God forbid, for these troubled times are the times when we need God, and to worship God, the most.
Bring your problems to Jesus, no matter how big, how small, how many, how tall. Bring them with a banner waving, “I need love, God’s love, and the love of the members of the church.” Present yourself publicly to Jesus, just like the man in this text. Lay your burdens down at Jesus’ feet, at the foot of the cross, on the floor of the church. Bring your problems to Jesus, and along with them, bring your unbelief.
Bring your unbelief to Jesus.
The burdened father with the problem son says to Jesus, “I believe,” then perhaps after an awkward pause he adds, “Help my unbelief” (ref. vs. 24). This is one of the most honest confessions of faith we will ever read or hear. For all of God’s children at all times are believers and unbelievers at the same time.
“I believe,” he said, and obviously he did, enough to make a kind of public profession of faith. He confessed Jesus as the ultimate Teacher, the High Priest of pity (mercy), and the Healer with the hands of God. He brought his belief to Jesus, as do we when we come to worship the Lord. But he also confessed, “Help my unbelief.” He brought his unbelief to Jesus. As do we, every time we approach the Lord.
We know that without faith it is impossible to please the Lord (ref. Hebrews 11:6). So, how many of us have perfectly pleased the Lord this year, this week, even in the last hour? I submit that in the moments we sin, doubt, or otherwise lack faith, we believers are basically standing in unbelief (ref. also Romans 14:23). Who among us is absolutely perfect physically, mentally, or spiritually? We are all like this imperfect man who stood before the perfect Son of God and brought to Him his unbelief.
We must do the same thing. Are you struggling with sin? Do you lack faith in some of the faithful truths concerning the person and work of Christ? Has the word of God become hazy and hard to read, blurring the lines between right and wrong? Are you questioning some situation in your life so strongly that it seems that even God Himself does not have the answer?
Join the club. Do not do what you are tempted to do and run away from God, the word of God, and the people of God. Bring your unbelief to Jesus. “Come every soul by sin oppressed, there’s mercy with the Lord, and He will ever give you rest, by trusting in His word.”
Bring your problems to Jesus. Bring them with your humble human homogenization of belief and unbelief. Then, offer to Him your utmost prayer.
Bring your prayers to Jesus.
The man and his son disappear at the end of the story. So does their problem and their unbelief. How did this come about? Jesus said, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (ref. vs. 29).
When Jesus became indignant at the corruption in the church of Israel, He took action and made an important declaration. “My house,” Jesus said, “shall be a house of prayer” (ref. Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46).
This is most interesting and informative. When you come to Jesus, wear some good clothes, give an offering if you can, and bring your own Bible if you have one. When you come to Jesus, bring a song and a sermon, baptism and communion. But perhaps most importantly, bring a prayer, even if, and especially if, a prayer is all you have.
From time to time we hear, “He doesn’t have a prayer.” Well, don’t tell that to the man in this Gospel story. Did the man pray? I’d say so! Prayer is conversation with God. Prayer is confession to God. Prayer is coveting the things only God can give. The man spoke all this and more. Did the man receive prayer? I’d say so! Jesus spoke for him, on behalf of him, and with power upon his troubled son. As he encountered the living God, he realized he had come to the house of prayer, and he brought his prayer to Jesus.
What are you praying for today? Perhaps, like this wonderful man, God will provide the healing you need. Perhaps, like the Apostle Paul, God will allow you to live with chronic pain, be deserted by family and friends, and have your head cut off in a Roman prison. In either extreme and everywhere in the middle, God is there in the answer to your prayer. He will glorify Himself in every prayer by answering every one according to His own will. In the scope of eternity, His answer will be for your ultimate good and provide a godly witness to others. Of these things I am sure, for when we bring our prayers to Jesus, “all things are possible” with God – all good, God-centered, God-glorifying things.
So bring these things to Jesus, in your regular devotional time of private worship, and every Lord’s Day in public worship. Bring to Jesus your problems, your struggles with unbelief, and your honest prayers. “Only trust Him, only trust Him, only trust Him now, He will hear you, He will save you, He will bless you now.”