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God Helps Those who Help Themselves 4/30/2017

God Helps Those who Help Themselves

White House Press Conference

Deut 8:17; 1 Peter 5:5

Deut 8:17 ‘7“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me. But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

 

I Peter 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

There is a degree of truth in this misquote.  My geometry teacher used to say to me “even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.”

Benjamin Franklin first mentioned this quote  in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1735 but the saying itself is much older than that.

Likely it came from one of Aesop’s Fables that said ““A wagoneer was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. He came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the wagoneer threw down his whip, knelt down, and prayed to Hercules: “Oh, Hercules, help me in my hour of distress.” But Hercules appeared to him and said, “Man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The gods help them that help themselves.”

This is a misquote that is almost never said in kindness or in a good way. In fact it is usually applied to laziness, or at least what we perceive as laziness.

So here is where the ½ truth comes in. Laziness is part of your sinful nature. A lot of people would like to just lay on the couch all day and have God feed them, pay their electric bill, and upgrade their TV package.

But in 2 Thess 3:10-12 Paul says “10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” 11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.”

There’s no place for laziness in the life of a Christian. The Bible says that we work for the Lord.  And so, for a person who’s looking for a job. First thing you do is pray, then you get up and go put your application in several places and see what options open up.

You don’t just lay around and wait for your phone to ring with a great job offer.

God uses an ant as an example to us. In Prov 6:6-7 it says ““You lazy fool, look at the ant. Let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed?” (The Message)

A Children’s teacher was using this verse in Sunday School one day. She said, “Boys and girls, every day the little ant gets up and goes to work. Everyday, the ant works hard. And in the end what happens to the ant?” Little Johnny raised his hand and said, “He gets stepped on!”

So that’s the ½ truth, we aren’t to be lazy.

I. The lie: Self Help is the Best Help

Our society is saturated in self-help books. And not all of these books are bad, there are insights to be gained.

On Amazon.com the best selling self-help books are : There are over 650,000 to choose from

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Modern Romance: An Investigation

Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking

Think Like a Warrior: The Five Inner Beliefs That Make You Unstoppable

Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

These are some good ones, but there are some out there that may be slightly less helpful:

How to be Pope: What to do and where to go when your inside the Vatican

How to get Millions of Idiots to Buy your Book

The Practical Pyromaniac: Build Fire Tornadoes, One Candle Engines and more Incendiary Devices

How to lose 5 lbs in 6 years

Some of these may be helpful in some areas, but not in your relationship with God. In fact, self-reliance can lead you away from God. Not closer to Him. Why is that?

Self –Reliance makes you Arrogant

Muhammed Ali was well known for his arrogance. He would look into the TV and shout “I am the Greatest.”

Once he boarded an airplane for a trip and he refused to buckle his seatbelt for takeoff. He told the flight attendant “Superman don’t need no seatbelt.” Without missing a beat she said “Well, superman don’t need no airplane either so buckle up.”

We might not be as arrogant as Ali, but we all were born self-centered.  People today create their own little universes with them at the center. You see it all the time on facebook and instagram and places like that.

That’s our nature, so when we’ve done something we want to take all the credit for it. But the Bible says that it’s God who gives us the ability to accomplish anything.

Our nature is that we want to feed our egos. To make ourselves look as smart and as powerful as possible.

6.Deut 8:17 “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me. But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

If God had rearranged a few of your brain cells, you might not have all of the stuff that you think you’ve earned on your own.

And so, we need to give credit where credit is due. 1 Peter 5:5 says “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

So be on guard against pride

Self-Reliance makes you forget your Dependence on God

If you believe that God helps those who help themselves you’ve likely convinced yourself that you can handle what life throws at you on your own.

Maybe you think God is only for really big challenges, I’ve got it other than that.

Well God is not looking for self-reliant people, He’s seeking people who understand that they aren’t self-reliant at all, that they are completely dependent on God for everything.

Jer 17:5 says “This is what the Lord says, ‘Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans. Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.”

Lots of us think that we can rely on our intellect, our muscles, our money, our hard work and so they really don’t need God. Man how foolish.

This lie can go so far as to make people believe that God actually needs our help rather than we need His.

In the OT there’s a woman named Sarah. Her husband was named Abraham and they were childless. Many years prior God had made a promise to Abraham that he would have a son and that his descendents would be as many as there are stars in the sky. So lots of kids, grandkids, etc.

Well many years passed by and Sarah began to think that God needed a little help. Perhaps He had forgotten her.  Let’s read about her solution in Gen 16:1-2 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children[a] by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

Imagine a wife in her mid 70’s bringing a to her husband a young woman and they have relations and the young woman gets pregnant the first time. What do you think it was like in that house?

Well Hagar and Sarah despised each other. Hagar had a son and named him Ismael. 13 yrs later Sarah got pregnant and gave birth to a son named Isaac.

The angel told Hagar that Ishmael “Gen 16:12” He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone's hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

So, the Arab Muslims trace their lineage back to Abraham through Ismael and the Jews trace their lineage back to Abraham through Isaac.

Are they at odds? Perhaps it all could have been avoided if Sarah hadn’t thought that “God helps those who help themselves.”

Listen to me, God doesn’t need my help! He’s got it under control.

II. The Truth: God Helps the Powerless

God responds to those who cry out for help. God helps those who:

Admit that they are powerless to help themselves

Boy that sounds good but it’s so tough. We are so full of pride. Men won’t stop and ask for directions, they won’t go to the doctor, women don’t like to get child rearing advice from others. The list goes on and on.

Our society admires the self made man, we are a do it yourself culture. But when it comes to this you can’t do it yourself.

In The Grace Awakening, Charles Swindoll writes about this subject ““I consider

the most dangerous heresy on earth the emphasis on what we do for God instead of what God

does for us. Some are so convinced of the opposite, they would argue nose to nose. They are

often the ones who claim that their favorite verse of Scripture is ‘God helps those who help

themselves.’ The fact is, God helps the helpless, the undeserving, those who don’t measure up,

those who fail to achieve His standard. Nevertheless, the heresy continues louder now than ever

in history. Most people see themselves as ‘masters’ of their own fate, ‘captains’ of their own

souls. And why not? It supports humanity’s all-time favorite subject: self.”

You and I have to admit that without God we are sunk.

Look at Psalm 94:17-19 17 If the Lord had not been my help,
    my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18 When I thought, “My foot slips,”
    your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
19 When the cares of my heart are many,
    your consolations cheer my soul.

David is saying I’m about to die and I can’t do anything about it. If God hadn’t stepped in it would have all been over.

“Man of Sorrows, What a Name” written by Phillip Bliss.

3 Guilty, helpless, lost were we;
blameless Lamb of God was he,
sacrificed to set us free:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

4 He was lifted up to die;
"It is finished" was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

5 When he comes, our glorious King,
all his ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we'll sing:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!  

One reason I like it is because it tells the full story of the act of atonement, or forgiveness. The third verse speaks of how helpless we are without Jesus: “Guilty, vile, and helpless we; Spotless Lamb of God was He; Full Atonement! Can it be? Hallelujah, What a Savior!”

2.Trust Him alone for Help

God is not one in a long list of help, He is the only true source of help.

Psalm 121 1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

The Hebrew Grammar makes it clear that David was asking a question. He was asking “does my help come from the hills? No, my help comes from God.”

David knew that the hills were full of danger. Enemies, thieves, wild animals, the only reason that he could sleep at all was because He knew that God was not sleeping and that God was watching over him.

What keeps you up at night? What is lurking in the hills around you?

I heard about a businessman who was leaving for a 2 week trip, he prayed “Lord, please protect Sharon and the kids while I’m gone.” After he finished she looked at him with a smile and said “thanks for the prayer, but who do you think protects us while you’re here”

III.   Conclusion

So God doesn’t help those who help themselves, God helps those who are helpless.

With the beginning of the 20th century and Darwin’s book Origen of the Species in 1859, mankind began to believe that there was no limit to what he could accomplish. They thought that peace, progress, and prosperity for all were on the way. You had the telephone, airplane, and electric light. Man thought that a utopia was on the way for sure.

The pinnacle of all of that progress was the USS titanic. When it was dedicated on May 31, 1911 it was overheard that “Even God Himself could not sink this ship.”

On her maiden voyage captain EJ Smith cruised along at 22 knots, he didn’t fear anything out there in the ocean. After all, this was the unsinkable ship.

Then on April 14, 1912, Titanic swiped an iceberg, tearing a 300 ft gash in it’s starboard hull.

In a twist the watertight compartments that were supposed to keep the boat afloat caused it to sink. The compartments were left open at the top so when water filled them they were pulled down at such an angle that they all filled up with water.

There were 3000 people on board and enough life boats for 1000. An amazing display of arrogance in and of itself.

Well it only took 2 hrs and 40 minutes for the ship to settle on the bottom of the North Atlantic. 705 people survived while 1528 people lost their lives because there was no lifeboat.

The iceberg wasn’t as responsible for all of those deaths as much as human arrogance was.

This world is kind of like Titanic, we are plunging full steam ahead, the music is playing, the people are dancing, unaware and uncaring about the iceberg that lays ahead.

People say, preacher don’t bother me with reports about an iceberg, I’m enjoying the glitz and the glamor too much.

Friend that iceberg is coming, and your lifeboat is Jesus Christ. We are all helpless and sunk without Him. God helps those who are helpless.