God Help Not Self Help

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Joshua 1:1-8 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

We live in a “self help” age.
Hobby Lobby brings in 4.3 Billion $ yearly.
“My Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen is a best seller.
We worship the words of Oprah and Dr. Phil.
Mega Church leaders are telling us how to GROW!

When I pastored a sweet community Church called Rock Hill I had several preachers that I prayed with every week. I wish I could find preachers now who would pray with me! Anyway, when I got together with my preacher friends and prayer partners the subject of growing the Church always came up. We were amazed at the growth of Churches like Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church with weekly attendance of 22,000 people and Bill Hybels Willow Creek Church with weekly attendance of 24,000 people. I knew I was not called to pastor Churches of this size, but we all wanted to see our congregations grow and reach the communities we were in. We weren’t interested in what the so called “Prosperity Preachers” did, but Saddleback and Willow Creek were conservative leaning Bible believing Churches. Saddleback is part of our denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention.

Bill Hybels surprised us one year when he made a statement about Willow Creek1:

“We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their Bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.”

I was shocked when Bill Hybels resigned from Willow Creek in April of 2018 amid charges of sexual misconduct. The Church itself is falling into disarray and confusion. I’m not gloating over this by any means. The Apostle warned:

1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

We are all fallible – we all walk with a limp. We all need to keep our eyes on Jesus!
We all need to rest in His Word!

You will never become strong and effective Christians unless you follow the principles that God has given you. Your families will never produce strong Christian men and women who will lead this Church into the future unless you do as your God has commanded you. You cannot make a difference in the land unless you follow His directives and His Word. You MUST follow the Christian disciplines:

You must PRAY to God through Christ.
You must MEDITATE on His Word.
You must be CONSISTENT in absorbing & doing His Word.
You must be UNIFIED as a people under Christ.
You must be DOERS and not just hearers.
You must be IN LOVE with Jesus!

As Israel prepared to go into the Promised Land what did God emphasize? Did He teach them to build better weapons? Did He tell them the best route to follow? Did the Lord tell them where the best rest stops were, or the best places to eat were at? No, not at all! The Lord said “Focus on My Word” and “Focus on My Leadership”. A strong Israel would be a God led Israel, just as a strong Church must be a God led Church. When the maximum number of believers in the local Church are focused on the daily reading and personal application of God’s Holy Word, that Church cannot be destroyed. When God’s people focus on private as well as public prayer, that Church can pass through the flame of adversity unscorched. God promised those who lovingly follow Him that nothing would stand in our way.

Isaiah 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Internalize God’s Word!

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Look at the first words of this text: “This Book of the Law”. The Bible is not just a neat old Book that we carry to Church with us and sit on the coffee table at other times.

The Bible is a Book of Law!

A Law is something that is decreed by a HIGHER AUTHORITY for the common good.

God gave His people the Bible because He loves us. He has set laws forth in this Holy Book that we must obey if we expect to be blessed in life. God told Israel:

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth;

What you SAY is what you BELIEVE. We are to let His Word come out of our mouths. The words will not come out of our mouths if it is not IN OUR HEARTS. God does not want you to be a Heavenly Parakeet. He wants you to HEAR, then TEACH what you have head. He tells His people:

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 … these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,

If you love God in your heart then His Word and His promise will come from your mouth. I have heard it said before – and it is true – We are what we do! The Word of God is YOUR Law, it is MY Law, it is OUR Law – but each of us must be focused on applying it to our own lives.

The way of failure is to hear the Word of God and then spend your time applying it to your neighbor’s life.

It is the Word of God and the Work of God that changes people’s lives.” – Charles Stanley

The Lord wants you to take His Word and put it into action in YOUR life. Ask yourself as you read it,

What does this Word have to say to ME”?
Internalize the Book!

King David, a man after God’s own heart, applied the Word of God diligently in His own life. In the longest Psalm in the Bible David wrote:

Psalms 119:97-100 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. {98} Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. {99} I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. {100} I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

When you read and meditate on God’s Holy Word the Spirit Who indwells you empowers you to really live. The more you focus on God’s Word and meditate on its teachings, the more God-minded you will be. David went on to say:

Psalms 119:113-114 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. {114} Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

Though peer pressure and the world may direct us to do the wrong thing, the heart filled with God’s Word will always follow God’s leading. The Christian who “meditates day and night” on God’s Word will be less likely to fall into Satan’s sin pit.

The Apostle Paul directed the wayward Corinthian Church to turn away from selfishness and sinfulness and to turn toward God’s Word. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

How do we have “the mind of Christ”? Every time Jesus was asked a question or attacked by an enemy, how did He respond?

It is written”

Jesus lived the Word – He is the Word. His mouth was directed by the Word. God told Joshua:

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth;

The Word of God should be in your mouth. We experience things through our mouths. We eat great foods – steak and seafood – and delight in their flavors.

We should be discussing the Word with one another, and encouraging one another in its study. We should be building our Sunday School classes, because this is so important to the growth of the Christian. When we are in the midst of suffering we often run to the doctors for relief. There’s nothing wrong with doctors. A doctor called Luke was used of God to write Scripture. But before we seek other sources, let us seek His Word.

Treasure God’s Word!

Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

The reason why many who profess Christ do not have JOY and REJOICING is because our minds dwell on mindlessness rather than the Mind of God.

We watch mindless TV.
We listen to mindless Music.
We stare at mindless Phones.
And fill our minds with bubbles.

How many times do you just TURN OFF the electronic noise and TUNE IN to God? What you fill your mind with is what you will become. The Scripture says:

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

If your heart is focused on God’s Word, your actions will follow your focus. This is why God told Israel “meditate – think on My Word – day and night”. If your mind is on God’s Word it cannot be on Satan’s deceptions.

But we cannot leave out the last part of this Holy Chain:

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein

God expects us to “do according to all that is written therein”. There is a doing that must not be put away. We can put a piece of steak in our mouths, we can think about eating it, but if we do not DO – chew and swallow – we have no benefit. Jesus told His disciples:

Luke 6:46-49 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? {47} Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: {48} He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. {49} But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

The doing of the Word of God always produces great results. We do exactly as God tells us to do without equivocation, and we shall be blessed.

We cannot be godly unless we think godly thoughts.
We will not be godly unless we do godly things.

2 Peter 1:4-7 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. {5} And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; {6} And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; {7} And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

God has given His people exceeding great and precious promises that we might be partakers of the Divine Nature. The Lord wants to bless us – but our blessing and prosperity is conditioned on our personal application of the Word of God in our lives. As our focal text tells us:

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Let God Take Over Your Life

Joshua 1:2-5 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Too often in this life we make ourselves visible, but God invisible.
We need to reverse this if we will be blessed!

The country that would become the United States of America won it’s independence from a vastly superior nation. Great Britain ruled the seas. Her military was the most powerful in all the known world. How in the world did we defeat a vastly more powerful enemy?

At that time in history battles were fought following European methods. Armies dressed up, marched in formation, and fired facing one another on a battlefield. Each army in battle had to stand there and take it. Cannons and flintlocks killed large numbers of soldiers on both sides. There was no way that the American colonies could defeat armies like Britain’s. But we learned from the native American Indians how to fight and win. We hid ourselves. Rather than stand in parade on a battlefield we hid behind bushes, trees, and in ditches that we dug. The British forces were trained to stand out PROUD, EXPOSED to every bullet and cannon ball. Our militia fought from cover. And we won.

The Church cannot win the battle against the forces of satan if we proudly display ourselves. We need to hide ourselves behind Jesus.
We need His Word in our hearts and in our hands!

We who have been saved by faith need to internalize the truth that “the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest”. On the day that you became “born again” God the Holy Spirit came to live in the Temple of your body. He is – as Jesus said – the Promise of God, the “Spirit of truth; Whom the world cannot receive” (John 14:17). This Holy Spirit – very God of very God – lives inside of you. The Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest”. He is the silent Witness Who watches you as you go through this life. He sees you whether you obey God or not. He is with you throughout everything you do.

“When we are faithful to keep ourselves in God’s holy presence, and set Him always before us, this hinders our offending Him, and doing anything that may displease Him.” – Brother Lawrence, Practicing The Presence of God

We need to learn to practice the Presence of God. He is. We need to act as if He is in our presence – for He is. We need to move through this life as if He is in our presence – for He is. When we sit down to watch television we need to be aware that God sees what we are seeing – for He dwells in us. When we speak to our friends He hears every word we say. If we neglect to pray – to speak to Him on a regular basis – He knows that. God is with us because He has promised to be “with thee whithersoever thou goest”. Job even in the midst of adversity declared:

Job 23:11-12 My foot hath held His steps, His way have I kept, and not declined. {12} Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.

Keep your eyes on the Lord. Let Him shine through you. The fainthearted cannot win the land for God. Be strong and of a good courage. Make sure you’re going where God tells you to go – then without hesitating go there. Be strong, for God is with you. Practice His Presence in prayer. Study His Word. Go forward in the Name of Jesus, and God will richly bless you.

May God’s Word richly bless and keep you all!

1 From Baptist Press (November 1, 2007): A Shocking Confession From Willow Creek

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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