The following is from a talk I did as a campus minister at the University of Arkansas at Monticello back in ’02. I stumbled back across it today and thought it might encourage some of you.
HELP! – God’s Favorite “4-Letter” Word
Look at four different snapshots that all reveal one thing:
It is vitally important to note when God sent help. It wasn’t until after Asa admitted his need and asked for it. Our Lord will put us the most desperate of positions in order to reveal to ourselves that we are not sufficient. We must cry out for help! Our cry of help is not only the delight of the Father’s ears, but it is also our admission that we are not God. As much as we might like to think that we are in control and that we can make things happen and that we can figure a way out, we are like the grass – here today and withered tomorrow, sustained only by the grace and light of God.
1. 2 Chronicles 14.9-ff (Asa). “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You alone. It is in Your name that we come against this vast horde. O Lord, You are our God; do not let mere men prevail against You.”
2. 2 Chronicles 26. (Uzziah). “He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.” (5)
Here is an example of a king that had to depend upon another person (Zechariah) to keep him straight with the Lord. Do you know people like that? These people are only faithful as long as someone is paying attention to them, thus their faith is revealed as being self-centered rather than God-centered. May we all be motivated internally to pursue an intimate love relationship with God, and thus be dependent upon Him rather than men.
“And he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.”
3. 2 Chronicles 32.1-20 (Hezekiah). “…cried to heaven.” (19)
“They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth.” (see also v13 – “were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able…?”)
Another important thought about when God gives help is that He always acts to bring glory and honor to His name! It is not for our fame and for our recognition that God works. From the beginning of Scripture to the end, God acts and works to bring glory to Himself. Wherever His name is being defamed, God will act quickly, even if it is to punish, destroy, or deliver.
In this passage, Hezekiah cries out for help, and it is evident that Sennecherib was defaming God’s glory and name, comparing Him to the “gods” of other nations.
4. Matthew 8.23 (Disciples). “save us!”
Again, we see that God is not inactive. God is not sleeping. God is waiting on us to realize our own predicaments apart from His power.
Some principles to chew on:
Our cry for help reveals our heart of dependence.
Calling for help deposes the gods of our life.
Calling for help is a loud scream to self that “you are not God!” Perhaps that’s why God waits for our cries. He wants us to be well aware of where our help comes from (Psalm 121).
Every day we live without help from another becomes a brick that we place into a wall. The walls form a structure. The structure eventually becomes a temple that we erect for ourselves in our feeble attempt to control and be god of our own life.
God delights to help those who ask for it. The very act of asking for help is something foreign to us – whether we’re asking God or another person. It’s an admission of inability. It’s an admission of inadequacy. It’s an admission of insufficiency. But it is the foundation of humility. Scripture repeats from Old Testament to New that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
So if we work at being humble, will that release God’s power? No. God does not help us based on our demonstration of humility, as if “getting humble” somehow was a magic formula that forced God to work on our behalf. God only works to deliver and help based on his faithfulness to His own glory! You see, God is not man-centered. God is God-centered.
“My glory I will not give to another.” Isaiah 48.11
“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I will give to no other.” Isaiah 42.8
“Glory to God in the highest!” Luke 2.14 (at the birth of Jesus. Notice how the rest of the verse indicates that God’s glory means our peace!)
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3.23 (the reason we are condemned apart from Christ is that we have failed to bring God the glory due His name!)
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” Isaiah 46.9
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19.7 (at the end of time)
Isn’t it obvious from these verses that His greatest glory means our greatest joy?! (This one phrase has become John Piper’s life message.)
In conclusion, look at these verses of help in light of what we’ve studied:
“Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honor of Your name. Oh, save us and forgive us for the sake of Your name.” (Psalm 79.9)
Even though we might have to cry out like the father of the demon-possessed son, “I do believe, but help me not to doubt,” God will still come to our aid, as Jesus demonstrated to the father. Not asking for help is not a demonstration of strength, but of weakness. Doing it on your own is not maturity but pride.
1 Peter 5.5 – “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
Perhaps we could boil the entire Gospel message down to eight words:
“I can’t. He can. I’m gonna let Him.”
Or maybe even to two words:
On this day...
Jeff is the pastor of Northstar Church in Blacksburg, Virginia. He grew up in Arkansas, loves fantasy football and is an Apple fan boy. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @journeyguy.
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