Hebrews 11: 1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. NKJV
Mark 16:9-15, Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. NKJV
I am baffled by the unbelief and hardness of heart that the disciples walked in while following Jesus... yet they still followed Him. It seems that they were alright as long as Jesus was with them. However, the moment He was arrested, every one of them forsook their Lord. This scenario reminds of the principle written about by King Solomon in Proverbs 29. Where there is no vision or revelation, the people perish or cast off restraint.
When Jesus called the twelve men to lay everything down and follow Him, it seemed as though they had no problem with that degree of sacrifice. There had to have been something about being in the presence of Jesus that gave them the peace to lay down their livelihoods, forsake all, and follow Him. We can know that the power of His presence was the reason they walked with Jesus because the moment He was no longer leading them, they all forsook Him and returned to their old ways.
This brings me to the reason for today's word. Were the disciples walking by faith as they followed Jesus, or were they walking in unbelief? According to Hebrews 11, true faith is the substance which produces hope in the hearts of true believers. By this definition, the disciples didn't have faith in their hearts. Moreover, because of the principle I spoke of in Proverbs 29, we understand why the disciples threw off the restraints that originally caused them to sacrifice in order to follow Christ. Without faith, they had no hope to endure the night season.
Many confess faith in Christ. However, the Lord will prove those who are truly committed and expose those who only confess, but don't believe; He does this by fiery trials. Peter teaches us in his epistle not to consider it strange when we find our faith being tried by fire. James also teaches us to count it all joy when we're surrounded by various trials. Obviously, the disciples discovered something about Jesus in the time of separation that eventually solidified their faith, because you never read of them denying Him again. Jesus is just as PRESENT through our faith in His Word as He was when they were walking with Him physically.
Our faith must not waiver, even when it appears as though Jesus has forsaken us. When we enter a dark season, and we no longer FEEL as though God is with us, then that is the time for our faith to become energized. Faith will give us the hope that one day this will pass, just like an eclipse. You will sense His presence and experience His goodness once again. In the past five years, have you gone through some dark, depressing, and hopeless days? How did you respond to the trial when it looked as though God had turned His back on you? Did you go "a fishin'," or did you stand on God's Word until God said, "Let there be Light"?
It's time for hope to return to the church, and for those who have gone through the sifting of Satan to return to the Lord and strengthen one another with their testimonies. Through Christ, we are overcoming the lies of the enemy and realizing at a deeper level what the Lord was saying all along, "Greater is HE that is in you, than he that is in the world."
Luke 22:31-32, And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." NKJV
Jesus prayed for Simon's faith, and Simon returned to Jesus after the sifting was over. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of our heavenly Father, and He lives forever to make intercession on our behalf as our High Priest.
One Day, We Will See Him Again,
Pastor Asa Dockery