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Matthew 17:19-21

Lesson # Matt. 17:19-21
Study Material - Matt. 17:19-21

You must be in fellowship prior to your Bible study, so that the spiritual information you receive can become a source, of blessing to your soul and produce spiritual growth.

Matt. 17:19-21

19 Then [tote] came [proserchomai] the disciples [mathetes] to Jesus [Iesous] apart [kata] [idios] , and said [epo] , Why [diati] could [dunamai] not [ou] we [hemeis] cast [ekballo] him [autos] out [ekballo] ?
20 And [de] Jesus [Iesous] said [epo] unto them [autos] , Because [dia] of your [humon] unbelief [apistia] : for [gar] verily [amen] I say [lego] unto you [humin] , If [ean] ye have [echo] faith [pistis] as [hos] a grain [kokkos] of mustard seed [sinapi] , ye shall say [ereo] unto this [touto] mountain [oros] , Remove [metabaino] hence [enteuthen] to yonder place [ekei] ; and [kai] it shall remove [metabaino] ; and [kai] nothing [oudeis] shall be impossible [adunateo] unto you [humin] .
21 Howbeit [de] this [touto] kind [genos] goeth [ekporeuomai] not [ou] out [ekporeuomai] but [ei me] by [en] prayer [proseuche] and [kai] fasting [nesteia] . KJV-Interlinear

Matt. 17:19-21

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, 'Why could we not cast it out?' 20 And He said to them, 'Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you. 21 ['But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.'] NAS

The disciples came to Jesus privately. Wouldn't want everyone to know that they were now spiritually impotent. Probably somewhat embarrassed and perplexed to boot. Besides they sought to remove the demon in front of a huge audience (an audience which included the scribes who were probably filled with glee at their failure), and that has got to be an embarrassing moment. 'Demon - get out!' And nothing happens.

Several things are in view here. Their failure is of course obvious. The argument they were engaged in, indicates their lack of focus, and their distraction. Jesus indicates their faith is small, but then compares faith to a mustard seed (very small - but never gives up and therefore succeeds in growing up against all odds). We studied the mustard seed a short time ago.

Next Jesus mentions moving mountains or that is to say, getting by huge obstacles in our lives as opposed to small obstacles (implied). Then prayer enters into the picture. And last in verse 21, the requirement of persistent prayer, because just as the demon resisted vigorously, he still lost the battle because prayer, or the power of prayer, and better still, the power of persistent prayer is far greater than any power on earth.

Our perfect example is in the news, and what timing. You probably have heard of that little girl that was kidnapped in Utah last summer (some 9 months ago). And you probably heard the news of her recovery yesterday. If you have any humanity in you, then the news conferences on TV and radio, should have brought you to tears because of the reuniting of the family after such a long and seemingly hopeless ordeal.

For those of you that are out of the country (outside of the USA), this was a story that broke last summer. A little girl (14 years of age) was kidnapped from her home. No one knew where she was. The story was a big one in the US. And it was filled with unbelievable obstacles for the family. The local authorities wouldn't work with the federal authorities, the method of entry (a cut screen window) was presumed cut from the inside, the dad was a suspect, then a man seen in the area was suspected but could not be found, but was later found and arrested on other outstanding warrants against him. That man had medical problems and died. All search roads seemed to have stopped there. And that was mid Fall of last year. It is March now (late winter up here in case you are reading this down under) and the child was found yesterday. How? That is where the real story begins.

All through the news conferences the family kept mentioning their faith and their constant prayer. But for those who are skeptical there is more. The news media (vultures that some of them are) kept prodding the dad for his comments against the man who did the kidnapping. The news media kept baiting the dad with questions and leading questions to get him to respond with anger at the authorities, at the kidnapper, at anyone, 'Who do you blame for all of this?' Kind of questions. The dad was very poised and cool. 'We are grateful that God has heard our constant prayers and has answered us with the return of our daughter.'

When all had given up, the family took photos or sketches of a man, that the only witness described. The only witness? The younger child who faked being asleep when the older child was kidnapped. She was ignored by the authorities. Anyway, the photos were spread through the news media constantly by the family during this past month. The family even went so far as to publicly complain about the work of the authorities. That is where this whole bizarre set of events becomes the real story.

The kidnapper, who had been traveling around the country, just happened to be back in the Salt Lake area on the very day (yesterday) that the families complaint was in the local paper along with the sketches, and two sets of people saw the kidnapper with the girl, called it in, the police responded and indeed it was her. A total fluke of a sequence of events came together, apart from any ones control, and the girl was rescued, the kidnapper caught, the family reunited. After many overwhelming obstacles (mountains), that were beyond their control.

How did the family deal with it. They persevered. They persisted. They were proactive. These things anyone can do, even unbelievers. But they prayed, and the combined package was answered by God. No one could have timed yesterday's events of story after such a long time, with the reappearance of the kidnapper (wearing a wig) back in town on the same day, let alone being recognized (or suspected by bystanders), and again all on the same day. And after most had given up on this story like so many stories of young children, kidnapped and never seen again.

The bottom line? Nothing is impossible when faith and prayer are combined.

Where does faith come from? The daily study of Bible doctrine. The daily study of Bible doctrine while in fellowship (most important). The living of ones life while in fellowship (you should really revisit Matt. 5 because that chapter really gets into the meat of the spiritual life). John chapter 5 is another very good chapter regarding just who Jesus really is.

Faith is the muscle of the spiritual life. In this world we cannot control much of anything around us. We may think we can, but really we cannot. We can't control the direction of the stock market. We can't control the weather. We can't even say for sure that we will be alive tomorrow (God could call us home at any moment).

The disciples had become complacent in their relationship with Jesus. They were not under much pressure. Many folks have their good job, or a good business. Many have a steady income, a nice home, they are comfortable, and from that perspective there are not many issues in their life. Not much with which to test faith. Faith is like muscles get when you stop exercising them. They get out of shape, flabby. And you do not realize it until you do some strenuous work (testing) - aches and pains galore!

Faith results from spiritual growth. Spiritual growth comes from hearing, learning, believing, understanding, applying spiritual information to your life and repeating that cycle over and over again throughout your life. Faith is the muscle of your spiritual life. Testing in life exercises that faith. Sometimes that testing is trivial, daily, little things. Sometimes the testing is overwhelming as in the story above.

In Jesus words, if you have the faith of that mustard seed - persist against all odds - then nothing will be impossible for you. This also has to be incorporated within, and compatible with, Gods Plan. Don't pray for the moon to turn to gold and settle down in your back yard - not going to happen. You also have three responsibilities expected of you in your spiritual life. Does anyone even remember what those are?

Faith is true faith (that which results from true spiritual growth). It is not wishful thinking. Very few people in life have faith of the magnitude described by Jesus in verse 21. Why? Because they do not comply with all the requirements of their spiritual life. An insatiable desire for spiritual knowledge is generally lacking. There are too many other things in life that interest them more. Will a man get his priorities together in life? Will a woman subordinate herself willingly to her husband? Will we say no to our social desires, to our hobbies, to whatever desires you have, that distract you from growing up spiritually? Will we obey Gods command to support His Word, to help others? Will we pray regularly? Will we check our fellowship status often? Are we really interested in our own spiritual life? Or are we interested in that which is more convenient and immediate in our lives? Do we have convenient arguments which render many of the above questions (and even more questions) as stumbling blocks preventing our spiritual growth?

Eternity is coming for each one of us. We cannot stop it. What is more important to you? The desires of that which you can have in this life (Esau's meal - remember that he traded away his birthright for a meal), or the 'beyond' imagination blessings (you cannot see them) which God promises you in eternity?

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End Of Lesson

Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.

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