Steven Furtick - You Didn't Lose It
Mark Chapter 9, Verse 14-29 I want to read this whole passage to you. Let's look at this proclamation God wants to make: You Didn't Lose It. Mark 9:14: "When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him". "What are y'all fighting about now"? Jesus asked. I wonder if he's still asking that question. "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.'"
Listen to the phrase Jesus uses. "'You unbelieving generation,' Jesus replied, 'how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.' So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion". So, this thing that has been controlling this boy isn't going out without a fight. It's not going to go out just because you came to church one time. It's not going to happen just because you watched one YouTube sermon. It's not going to happen because you listened to worship on the way to work for two days in a row. So, the boy falls to the ground and rolls around and foams at the mouth.
We said last week, let's not get so caught up in the symptoms that we miss the spirit that was at work in this situation. It's the Devil. It's the Evil One. He comes to kill and steal and destroy. In this boy's case, it was a physical manifestation, but in many of our cases, it doesn't manifest in this way. It manifests in different ways. We all have different ways that we experience this. "Jesus asked the boy's father…" I think this is an important question. "'How long has he been like this?' 'From childhood,' he answered. 'It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.'"
This is the part that stood out to us last week. "'"If you can?"' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.' Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!' When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. 'You deaf and mute spirit,' he said, 'I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.' The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, 'He's dead.' But Jesus…" "Many said…but Jesus…" Popular opinion never overrides God's purpose. "Many said…but Jesus…" Do y'all love the Bible? "Many said…but Jesus…" They don't have the last word. "But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up".
Now here's where we want to go today. "After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, 'Why couldn't we drive it out?' He replied, 'This kind can come out only by prayer.'" "Why couldn't we do it"? My first instinct in reading the text was to judge the disciples for their lack of faith to help this boy. I even wanted to tell them, "If you would have spent less time arguing with the teachers of the law, maybe you could have helped the boy". I have to be honest. I'm hard on myself, so maybe I'm reading into the text how I feel about myself. Holly helps me with this. Holly has helped me in so many ways, but one of the main things she helps me with… I'm telling you, man.
People will come up to me all the time. It's like, "We like you a lot, but we love Holly". I'm like, "That's how I feel too". I only like me sometimes. I love her. She's amazing. However amazing she looks, she's much more amazing up close. Not everybody is like that, but she really is like that. She has gotten better every year, and she has taught me so much. She teaches me things… She did a Bible study for y'all, and we're going to share this with our eGroups. It's called Essentials. She's going to break down the essentials. Just getting back to basics, fundamental training…core strength, to put it in fitness terms. We're going to share it this fall with our eGroups. When she came home from filming it, she said something I've never said after I preached. "It was really good". Never once have I put down the mic and walked off and gone, "That was really good". Never, ever, because I'm really hard on myself, and she helps me with this. The best it gets for me is "I don't want to die". That would be my version of really good. "I don't want to quit and go get a job at Guitar Center".
I'm really hard on myself, and she helps me with that. My instinct is… And I shouldn't be confessing all this. I always feel like I said too much after I preach, too, which is part of the reason I never like it after I preach it, because I open up my gaping wounds and bleed all over you, and then I walk back to stitch it together myself. Holly helps me because I'm typically thinking my best is behind me. For instance, if I preach a sermon and I feel like, "I didn't say it like I was supposed to," and "I saw seven people yawn when I was in only my first point," and "Wow! That guy is asleep over there…" If I see all that when I'm preaching, my instinct is to think, "I think I've lost it".
Or if I open my Bible and I'm looking for a sermon and it's Monday and I can't find one, that's fine. If I'm looking for a sermon and it's Tuesday, that's fine. Wednesday, I'm okay. Thursday, Friday, Saturday… Saturday I start repenting of every sin I committed from childhood, stuff I did when I was 16. I start telling the Lord I'm sorry for everything, just in case, because I'm like, "Where did you go, Lord? I think I lost it". Sometimes when I'm going to create… Chris can tell you this. A lot of times, if we go to write a song and we don't get a good song that day, I'll leave and I'll be like, "I don't know. Maybe my season of songwriting is over". It only takes one bad day. "I lost it". Holly is really good, because she'll get in there, and she talks tough to me. She has a whole other gear, a whole other demeanor that's not sweet. At the same time, she's like, "You didn't lose it". She's really good about getting me to see that a bad day doesn't mean you're going backward in general. I'm a catastrophizer.
If I walk into the room and there are not as many people as there were the week before, I'm like, "It's over. We're losing relevance. We're losing ground". It's terrible. I'm not bragging about this. I just relate to the disciples because I think they're afraid. They go to cast out this demon, and they can't do it, and they're like, "Jesus! What happened? Did we lose it"? They did this before. They cast out demons before. It isn't like they never did it before. But they go to do it, and it doesn't work. Then Bartholomew tries, and it doesn't work, and Andrew tries, and it doesn't work, and then Judas tries, and you know it didn't work. After they're all finished trying… Now, Jesus is up on a mountain being transfigured. The voice of the Father is speaking over him, "This is my Son whom I love, and I am well pleased with him".
That's what happened in Mark, chapter 9, part A. And he has with him his favorite disciples, like you have your favorite kid. Peter, James, and John come back down the mountain only to find that the glory and the radiance they experienced on the mountain is not exactly in full operation in the valley. Isn't life just like that, to where you have to get from the mountains of inspiration and encouragement to get into the valleys of these hardships? Now more than ever I'm kind of looking at the disciples in a new light, because I'm a middle-aged man, and I know what it feels like to be like, "This isn't working like it used to work". Before I go into the gym I have to wrap up my elbow, my wrists. I'll be wearing head gear before I go in there soon. My son says, "Dad, you look like a robot you're so wrapped up". Because stuff hurts. It doesn't work like it used to work. I think for a split second here the disciples are asking Jesus… I want to point this out. Verse 28: "After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, 'Why couldn't we drive it out?'"
They asked Jesus privately. I wrote down a question. How much better off would we be if we asked Jesus some things privately instead of saying things publicly? Instead of blaming the teachers of the law, they finally realize, "We have to fix this internally, privately". Jesus said, "This kind can come out only by prayer". So, now the disciples are asking Jesus privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out"? and the father… I don't know if you noticed this, but the father in verse 24 says something that sounds like a contradiction on the surface. The really spiritual, overspiritual, "scratch and sniff" Christians don't like this verse because it doesn't sound so concrete. It's a little too abstract. It has too much tension in it. He said, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief"! The father who brought his son to Jesus who needed healing is struggling with the same thing the disciples are struggling with: unbelief. He immediately exclaimed, "I do believe; help my unbelief".
The message last week was built around the idea that there is a difference between you and your feelings. There's a difference between you and your thoughts. There's a difference between you and your emotions. There's a difference between you and your successes. There's a difference between you and your failures. You are not it. This boy is possessed by a spirit that's making him do all kinds of things to harm him, but he's still the son of the father, and the father still sees his son beneath the things he struggles with, just like your heavenly Father still sees you separate from the things you struggle with and how he dealt with the sin that stood against you on the cross. He doesn't see your sin when he looks at you. He doesn't see your successes when he looks at you. He sees a son. He sees a daughter. You are not it. We are so addicted to it in our culture that when we really want to compliment somebody that they're good at something we'll say, "You're a machine". "Man! You're a machine. Wow! You're just amazing. You're a machine". That's a downgrade.
How did you take me out of the animal kingdom and make me a machine? How did you demote me into what I just did? The trick is you can't let people do that to you positively or negatively. You can't let people identify you with your gift, because you're more than your gift. You can't let people identify you with your sin, because you're more than your sin. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. You are made in his image and in his likeness. The father said, "This is my son," just like God the Father said over Jesus, "This is my Son". The father in Mark, chapter 9, says, "This is my son, and he has problems, but he is not it". The disciples and the father are learning a valuable lesson that in owning your doubts, you don't disqualify your faith. "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief". There are a couple of miracles in this passage. One is that the boy gets healed of his condition, and the second is that the man asks for help.
How many women know that for a man to ask for help is a miracle in itself? Now not me. I ask Holly for help all the time. I particularly… This is one of the things in our marriage. I told you she helps me a lot. I am horrible about losing things and then freaking out and thinking it's gone forever. Holly is more calm. Every morning, we start our day with me losing my AirPods. Every morning. I know these are some real first-world problems I'm telling you about up here, but every morning, this is the first thing we do. I don't seek the Lord; I look for my AirPods, because I have sleep issues, so I always put something really boring in my AirPods to fall asleep to. I spend the first 10 minutes of the day looking for the AirPods, and then after five minutes of looking for it, I ask Holly to help me, and she does. She has been doing this our whole marriage, because my first instinct is, "It's gone. It's gone. It'll never be back again". Whether it's sunglasses, AirPods, my anointing… I told you my first instinct is "It's gone". "I don't feel God's presence right now. I guess it's gone". "I've been looking for my AirPods for 30 seconds. They're not here. They're gone". She says, "Do you think they got up and walked away? You put them in your ear seven hours ago. They are here somewhere".
This is what she taught me: "You don't know how to look". She said, "You don't know how to look". I said, "I looked". She said, "You looked with your eyes. To really look you can't just use your eyes". This was several years ago. She said, "I'm going to teach you how to look". She started picking stuff up. She said, "See what I'm doing? I'm lifting while I'm looking. See? I'm looking underneath stuff. I'm moving the pillow. I'm peeling back the covers". God said some of y'all look, but you don't lift. You don't know how to look. So, in the past six months you've said stuff like this: "I've lost my faith". You didn't lose it. You just don't know how to look. When I talk to people, I notice the way we phrase things. We say, "I lost my joy. I lost my peace". How many of y'all have said in the last 30 days, "I feel like I'm losing my mind"? How many of y'all didn't even get that specific? Just "I feel like I'm losing it". You didn't lose it. You just have to learn how to look.
Sometimes looking means lifting stuff, looking under stuff. Not just walking in… "It's gone"! "Well, I woke up in a good mood, but y'all just… The Devil just stole my joy". I guess he did. You left it lying right out for him to take. You didn't lock the door, roll up the window… I'm preaching to me. I'll say I lost it, but I haven't really even looked. The man said, "I do believe. That's why I brought my boy to you. I still have faith, but will you help me with my unbelief"? What I want to teach you today is there's a difference between having unbelief and being an unbeliever. He did not say, "I'm an unbeliever". He said, "I have unbelief". When you have doubts about anything in your life, what God spoke to you or even who God is… Sometimes many of us doubt the existence of God. That doesn't make you an unbeliever. There's a difference between having unbelief… "Immediately he exclaimed…" Did you see that word? Immediately he exclaimed, "I do believe, but help my unbelief".
We understand that although his explanation was immediate his unbelief probably came over time. His boy has been in this condition since childhood, and perhaps at the first sign or symptom that his boy had something wrong with him he believed, but life has a way of layering unbelief. Beneath the layers of unbelief is still a you who trusts God. We try to bring you into church sometimes and remove all of the doubts from the equation. We do that sometimes through preaching clichés or by making vague promises that "You're going to make it to the other side," and things like that. I preach those things too, and sometimes they have value, but sometimes I think we think God is going to decrease our doubts. The father in this passage prayed Jesus would increase his faith. "Help me overcome my unbelief". He has shifted now. When he first started talking to Jesus… "Your disciples couldn't do it". The first instinct was to blame, but now he's understanding that "It's not going to get me anywhere to blame Jesus' staff. If I want my boy healed, I'm going to have to get beneath all of the surface reasons it didn't work, and I'm going to have to own this for myself. Help my unbelief".
Would you have the guts to pray that out loud? "Help my unbelief". Now, we pray, "Help my bank account". We pray, "Help my husband act right". We pray all kinds of things, but when you say, "Help my unbelief," power happens. That's the connection right there. "Help my unbelief". There are some things we need to unbelieve before we can believe what we need to believe. Unbelief creeps in. It doesn't come in all at once. You don't wake up one day and talk about "I just don't believe anymore". As years go by, as disappointments accumulate… Here's one way of saying it: faith doesn't disappear; it deteriorates. It wears away. I wrote a book in 2010 in my journey of faith called Sun Stand Still. It was a good book. It was about believing God for the impossible. I watched my dad die of ALS a couple of years later. I had to go back and revisit "Do I still believe God can do the impossible"?
My friend Levi Lusko prayed "Sun stand still" over his 5-year-old daughter, and she died in his arms of an asthma attack as he tried to resuscitate her. I have to go back in my life now and separate out the events that happened that caused me to doubt from the faith that I have to realize that sometimes we didn't really lose our faith, we misplaced it. It didn't get up and walk away. You didn't lose your faith; you misplaced it. In the father's case, he said, "Your disciples couldn't drive it out. Your disciples couldn't do it". The disciples weren't the ones you needed to believe in to begin with. Many of us lost our faith in Jesus because we put our trust in people. So, we lose our faith in God because somebody else let us down? Because the disciples couldn't do it, you're going to walk away from what God has for you? "I don't go to church anymore. I got burned".
Have you ever had a bad meal? Do you still eat? "Help my unbelief. I've watched my son like this so long…" When it has been so long like this, it just adds up over time to where his first instinct is, "I do believe, but will you help me overcome the part of me that doesn't"? I'll never forget when I was in Orangeburg, South Carolina, preaching on a Friday night. I preached this sermon back in the day on Jonathan from 1 Samuel 14, an Old Testament character. He was the son of Saul the king. I preached 1 Samuel 14:6 so many times. I used to talk about how Jonathan said, "Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving". I talked about how that sounds kind of like he hasn't quite made up his mind. "Nothing can hinder the Lord. Perhaps God will act". I called it the perhaps paradox.
Now, this was a small church, and I was…I don't know…19 years old. This guy drove me back to the host home where we were staying. The guy's name was Rodney who was driving me. On the way home… You know, I'm insecure, so I said, "How did you like the sermon, Rodney"? I shouldn't have asked that. He said, "I don't know if I'd call that a sermon what you did up there". I'm not making this up. He said, "There's no perhaps about it. If God said he'll do it, he'll do it. That stuff you're preaching up there isn't faith; it's doubt". I said, "But I got it from the Bible, Rodney. I read the Bible. That's what Jonathan said in the Bible. I was preaching the Bible verse". He said, "No, no, no. If God said he'll do it, he'll do it, and there's no if about it". Hold on. "'If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.' 'If you can? Everything is possible for one who believes.'" And Jesus did it even though the man said if.
So, I started arguing with Rodney. I said, "Rodney, there are a lot of people in the Bible…" (I'm putting a substitute name in there. His real name wasn't Rodney. I still remember what it was. I'm not going to say it. I don't want to get sued or canceled.) The man said, "Well, real faith in the Bible…" I said, "Moses had doubts. He said God couldn't use him. God got so mad at Moses the Bible said his anger burned against him, but he still used him even though he had to get Aaron to speak for him. You have more faith than Moses"? I said, "Abraham lied about his wife". I went through a whole list of people who doubted but God still used them. I said, "You have more faith than all of them"? He said, "Well, I guess when it comes to that I do".
By the time we got to where he was dropping me off in the driveway, we were about to fistfight in the driveway. The man whose home it was came running out of the house. He said, "What in the world is going on"? He kind of broke us up, and he took us into the house, and Rodney left and spun out of the driveway in the pickup truck. I sat down in the house, and I said, "We were arguing about… He said if you have any doubt, you don't have real faith". This is what the man said to me. He said, "If you teach that and preach that, you're going to be broke, poor, and sick all your life, and so will all of the people you lead and your future children, if you have any". I'm like, "Hey, man. Leave my hypothetical future children out of this. You can make fun of me if you want". But he really thought that. He really thought the proof of faith is the absence of doubt. He had no room in his view of who God is for an if. But Jesus did what the man needed even though the man wasn't perfectly convinced he could do it, because the man invited Jesus into the place where he had the greatest doubt and the greatest pain.
Now I think this might be my favorite prayer in the Bible, because I can get with this. I can get with this when I'm in a bad mood. I can get with this when I'm in a good mood. I can get with this when I'm riding high. I can get with this when the news is bad. I can get with this any day of the week. "I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief". I'm not asking God to just take it away. I'm asking God "Help me overcome it". My faith is not gone. I just have to learn where to look. Sometimes the greatest faith…I need you to get this…is right underneath that biggest doubt.
Sometimes the greatest thing God wants to show you, if you will start lifting and looking and lifting and looking… Do you see what I'm saying? We can't just cover over it. We can't just come to church for a fresh coat of paint over our problems. We can't just come to church for a three-hour scriptural sugar boost to get us feeling good for a moment. It won't work, and we'll end up like the disciples, saying, "Why did I shout and sing and listen and take notes in church"? Because you didn't invite Jesus into the real place of your pain. You didn't lose your faith; you just stopped looking at the surface. "It's gone. It's gone". One boy broke up with you. "I guess I'll never be loved". You're 14 years old! "I guess it's gone. I guess you can't trust anybody". See how we do it? "It's gone". You have to know where to look.
Can I preach something else? Sometimes you are so intimidated by it you forget about him. "When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit". He didn't argue with the disciples. He didn't argue with the teachers. He didn't have to. He was bigger than it. So, the disciples said, "Why couldn't we drive it out"? He said, "Because you lost your focus. This kind can only come out through prayer". When we think about prayer, we think about maybe a list of things we say to God, but God is showing me lately that prayer is more about a lens than a list, and it's more about what I see than what I say. So, if my prayer is always just "Let me just say my prayers…" When Jesus said, "This kind can only come out by prayer…" The King James says "…and fasting," but the original manuscripts don't say "by fasting". Even the fact that he said, "This kind can only come out by prayer…" He's letting you know you can't do it alone.
I looked on my message last week, and somebody said on a comment… I don't usually read the comments. Pray for me. I read them more than I should. They said, "You left out fasting. It said 'By prayer and fasting.' They didn't get the demon out because they didn't fast". Isn't that just like us to think if we'll just do one more thing, if we'll just do one more step… It was their inability to rely on God's power in them that got them in the predicament to begin with. He said, "It's only by prayer". It's intimidating. How dare we judge the disciples that they couldn't cast out a demon? That's like all of the out of shape people watching these Olympic athletes, talking about "That was pretty good. I mean, second place. It was all right". I want to judge the disciples. "Why couldn't you drive out the demon? You should have confessed the name of Jesus and prayed and fasted". I can't even get my kids to clean their room, y'all, and I'm going to judge the disciples for not casting out a demon? This is a demon that has been with this boy since childhood. How dare we judge them for that?
It was intimidating. He said, "This kind can only come out by prayer". This isn't going to be like one of your other problems you can fix in your own strength. I wonder, have you been losing it because you've been fighting on the wrong level? One of my friends went into a business situation a few weeks ago, and he said when he pulled up to the person's house for the meeting, the house was so big and so beautiful he lost his confidence. He said, "I went in there, and I thought, 'I can't do this. I can't do this.'" When he went in to meet with the people… After he left, they sent him a text and said, "You are amazing. We have not stopped talking about your spirit". He's a great Christian. This guy changes the atmosphere of every room he walks into. He said, "Afterward, they were texting me how amazing the meeting was and how they were so impressed with me". He said, "I couldn't believe it, because I went in so scared". And do you know what I told him? I said, "Yeah, because you got so caught up in what you were walking into you forgot what you were walking in with".
Who is this for? You were so focused on what you were walking into, but God says if you will get a focus on what you are walking in with… Not just your abilities, not just your education, not just your knowledge, not just your wisdom. At some point, that will fail you, but if you remember you are walking in with the Spirit of God… This is a guarantee of your inheritance. This is not corruptible. It cannot perish. It cannot spoil. It cannot fade. Whatever it I'm walking into, I'm walking in with something that is greater. Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world. When Jesus confronted it, it had to back down, because greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world! I've got it, Devil! I have the Spirit of God. I have the calling of God. I have the purpose of God. I have the Word of God. I have the assurance of God. I have the anointing of God. I have a sling and a stone and a promise and a Savior. And I still have faith. After all I've been through and all it cost me and all they took… It robbed my speech, but it didn't take my faith. I do believe! I still believe!
So, let me give you a Scripture. Lift before you look. Stop looking at stuff on the surface and saying, "Oh, there's nothing there". Lift before you look. This is what Holly taught me. "It's not gone; you just haven't looked yet". You haven't looked, so you haven't seen the opportunity that's in this hardship. You haven't seen the blessing that's in this rejection yet because you haven't looked. "I will lift my eyes to the hills". What did the psalmist do? He said, "I have to lift before I look". They looked at the boy, and he looked dead, but Jesus reached down and lifted him up. Why? Lift before you look. Before you look at your schedule for the day, lift your eyes to the hills. You're going to need help today, and you have it on the inside. Don't look so much at what you're walking into that you forget what you're walking in with. "Oh, no! I'm a nobody with a somebody on the inside of me. I have to decrease so he can increase. I lift my eyes to the hills".
I might be preaching for three people, but you haven't really looked yet. You've been saying, "There's nothing special about me. I don't really have a gift. I'm not anointed like those other people. I'm not called. I don't really see any benefit in this situation". You haven't really looked until you've lifted. When you lift your eyes to the hills… The turning point for the father is when he stopped looking at the crowd, stopped looking at the disciples, stopped looking at the symptoms, and finally saw Jesus. I see Jesus coming toward your unbelief, coming toward your struggle, coming toward your issue. Will you lift your eyes? Lift before you look. He said, "I lift my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help". It's not going to come from the disciples. It's not going to come from my own flesh. It's not going to come from my own solutions. "My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not suffer your foot to be moved. The Lord keepeth thee. He will not slumber nor sleep. For the Lord is thy keeper. The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. He that keepeth Israel shall preserve your soul, even forevermore".
Will you lift your eyes for a moment? You've been looking in the wrong places for your joy, for your peace. You didn't lose it. You just need somebody to help you look. That's what the Spirit of God does. He searches all things. He helps you look in the places where you haven't looked yet. God has put his help on the inside of you, and I just want to help you look for a moment. Stand to your feet. One time, Paul prayed that the eyes of your heart might be opened. Prayer isn't just about saying things to God. It's about seeing things as God sees them. I do believe. Would you say that?
I do believe. Life has layered me with unbelief, but I'm not an unbeliever. I do believe. That's why I came today. I still believe. Sometimes my faith feels very weak and my joy feels very low, but I receive this prophetic word today. I didn't lose it. I just need Jesus to help me look for it.
I want you to pray. Like I ask Holly, I want you to ask God. Say:
Help me look, Lord, because when I see things with my own eyes, I misjudge them. I see them from a human appearance. Show me what's really going on with my children. Show me what's really driving that behavior. Show me what's really beneath the fear I feel. Show me what's lurking beneath that. Help me overcome my unbelief.