Recently in a stadium packed with people, these words were preached: “If you continue to say something, eventually it will become a reality. Whether you realize it or not you are prophesying your future, prophesying your success. . . . Our attitude should be, ‘I’m getting younger. God is renewing my youth like the eagles. I’m getting stronger, healthier, better looking. . . .’ Don’t go around cursing your future. Start blessing your life. Prophesy good things. Your life will move in the direction of your words.”
It is a common message: A God without wrath sent the Christ without a cross to a world without sin. How do you think that message was received? Was the speaker booed off the stage? No, the people hung on his every word. Why? Because who wouldn’t want to believe that? It’s what itching ears itch for. But is it true? Does God help those who help themselves?
Where does my help come from?
By nature, we are dead (Ephesians 2:1). Dead people cannot do anything to help themselves. But my sinful nature leads me to believe that I can do something to be right with God.
Give specific examples of how you see this truth in other religions, denominations, and even in your own heart.
God must do the “helping”
Read 2 Corinthians 4:6.
Paul compares our conversion to God’s work at creation. In what way is God’s activity in creation like conversion?
Read Luke 18:9-14
In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, the Pharisee thanked God that he was not like other sinners. Far from being repentant, he bragged about his own accomplishments. We think, How arrogant! And yet, when we look to our own actions or when we look down on others who struggle with a sin, we act like the Pharisee. Remember who went home justified: the repentant tax collector. God must do the helping!
Read Romans 4:4,5; 5:8.
What advice would you give to someone who says, “If I can just kick this habit (or sin), I’ll feel closer to God.”
For further consideration
Acts 14:22 says, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Even if we are living faithfully, God does not always “help” from a worldly perspective. Give an example of someone for whom this was true. Think about the apostles, patriarchs, and even your own life.
Compare the difference between the outlook on life of those who believe “God helps those who help themselves” and those who understand “God helps us because of his grace.”
Author: David Scharf
Volume 107, Number 04
Issue: April 2020
- Psalm 103: When you count your blessings
- Psalm 91: When God lifts you up on his lap
- Psalm 4: When you draw nearer to the end
- Psalm 42: When you ask, “Where is God when I’m hurting?”
- Psalm 32: When you need forgiveness
- Psalm 130: When rocks fall
- Bible study: Freedom in service
- What does this mean for me? Article 6
- Bible study: Spiritual gifts
- What does this mean for me? Article 5
- What does this mean for me? Article 4
- Bible study: Rejoice in your status!
- Bible study: Baptismal blessings
- What does this mean for me? Article 3
- What does this mean for me? Article 2
- Bible study: Gifts of tongues and miraculous healing
- What does this mean for me? Article 1
- Bible study: Jesus is everyone’s Savior
- Bible study: Love one another
- Bible study: Above all things!
- Bible study: The comfort of God’s providence
- The book of James: Waiting for Christ’s return
- Bible study: Precious grace
- The book of James: Active in using prayer
- Bible study: Rewards of grace
- The book of James: Active in showing love
- The book of James: Correctly evaluating riches
- Bible study: What’s going to happen on the Last Day?
- The book of James: Avoiding loveless judging
- Bible study: Interpretation practice
- The book of James: Taming the tongue
- Bible study: The Bible’s attributes
- Bible study: The importance of the family altar
- Bible study: God’s attitude is grace
- Bible study: The Bible’s account of Easter morning
- Bible study: Different types of sin
- Bible study: God’s inspiration
- Bible study: Giving God glory
- Bible study: Judge for yourself
- The book of James: Using the Word of Truth
- Bible study: The need for the Bible and worship
- Bible study: Citizens of two kingdoms
- The book of James: Active in good works
- The book of James: When battling temptation
- Bible study: God cares
- Bible study: God made the world
- The book of James: When facing trials
- Bible study: A loving God saved people from hell
- The book of James: A blueprint for living out our life of faith
- A Bible story just for me: Guilt
- Bible study: God provides victory over death!
- A Bible story just for me: Anxiety
- Bible study: God forgives and refuses to remember our sins
- A Bible story just for me: Grief
- Bible study: God helps those who cannot help themselves
- A Bible story just for me: Depression
- Bible study: God has not grown soft on sin
- Bible study: Only one path leads to God’s presence
- A Bible story just for me: Trauma
- A Bible story just for me
- Bible study: God wants me in heaven
- Bible study: The incarnation of our Lord