December 12 - 18
The God of Help
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Ps. 27:1-3; 48:14; Isa. 41:10; 59:18-20; Nah. 1:7; Eph. 3:20.
MEMORY TEXT: "So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"' (Hebrews 13:6, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: God's unlimited power is available to help us, protect us, and guide us in all situations.
"I NEED AN AMBULANCE!" When people dial an emergency telephone system for help, they immediately reach a dispatcher who reads on his or her computer screen the caller's name, phone number, and address. That way, even if the person calling cannot clearly describe the problem, the dispatcher can still send emergency person nel. As Christians, we have a God who knows our name, location, and circumstance even before we call for help.
If, in past ages, God's people needed to know Him as their Helper, there is much greater need today. Now in earth's last hours, there are greater trials, temptations, and dangers than ever before. We are living during the time in which Christ warned that efforts would be made, if possible, to "deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:24). These are the times about which God spoke when He said the devil would come down in "great wrath," knowing "that he hath but a short time," and that the dragon would be "wroth with the woman" and would "make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:12, 17). In this lesson, we shall endeavor to become better acquainted with God as our divine Helper and Protector.
What was Paul's view of God's power to help? Eph. 3:20. Focus on the significant words he used to describe the extent of God's willingness to help.
When we want someone to do something for us, we go to someone who is able to do it. If we want a watch repaired, a motor fixed, a house built, we go to someone competent.
We are conditioned to think that, in these days of scientific progress, there is no limit to what science can do. We talk of the miracles of medicine and technology. We think that all we need to do is to invest more money and time, and we will find the answers. But the fact is that we are limited by time and conditioned by environment. With all our efforts and skill, we still face death and the end of the world. If we are wise, we will look beyond the immediate and recognize a God who is there to help; and there is no limit to what He can do.
Explain Paul's attitude regarding his "weakness," or "thorn." 2 Cor. 12:7-10.
"The weakness or defect can bring people into the condition in which they are open to God's Spirit. We come to God through the sense of need. The feeling of inadequacy turns into prayer.... We come to that dependence only when self-sufficiency has been broken by some situation or experience that is too much for us. When self in its various forms is laid in the dust, God can fully come in."The Interpreter's Bible, vol. 10, p. 409.
Isaiah 40:28-31 assures us that when we "wait upon the Lord," our strength will be renewed, and we will soar like eagles. To "wait upon the Lord" is not simply to do nothing. It is to look to God for guidance and strength. In Him and not in ourselves is the secret of success in our struggles with ourselves, with our environment, and with the task God has given us to do.
Does the church feel that Christ's command to give the gospel to all nations is too great a task? Let it recall His promise: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:20, 18). Yes, the One who promised to be with us has all the power in the universe!
|What "weakness" have you been struggling with lately? How has it taught you to depend more on God? Pray that He will give you strength to endure and guidance to continue working for Him.|
Why does God say we need not be afraid in any circumstance? Isa. 41:10.
Every child of God may have complete confidence in God's willingness to help and in His ability and purpose to strengthen and uphold. As a mother loves her child and would make any sacrifice in its behalf, so with God.
When Elijah ran for his life after Jezebel threatened him, the Lord made Himself known to Elijah, showing him "that quiet trust and firm reliance upon God will ever find Him a present help in time of need....
"We have the frailties of mortal feelings to contend with. But if we trust in God, He will never leave nor forsake us. Under all circumstances we may have firm trust in God, that He will never leave nor forsake us while we preserve our integrity."Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp.292, 293.
"To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way. 'The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly.' 2 Peter 2:9. From every temptation and every trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a richer experience. "The Desire of Ages, p. 528. (Review 1 Kings 19:3-18.)
How certain was the psalmist that God would provide for him? Ps. 27:10. What assurance may we have concerning the watcheare of God? Ps. 121:3-7.
"In His loving care and interest in us, often He who understands us better than we understand ourselves refuses to permit us selfishly to seek the gratification of our own ambition. He does not permit us to pass by the homely but sacred duties that lie next to us. Often these duties afford the very training essential to prepare us for a higher work. Often our plans fail, that God's plans for us may succeed....
"In the future life, the mysteries that here have annoyed and disappointed us will be made plain. We shall see that our seemingly unanswered prayers and disappointed hopes have been among our greatest blessings. "The Ministry of Healing, pp. 473, 474.
|If God is always for me, why do events so often appear to be against me? Why does God often seem "ling to help me at a time or in a way of His choosing instead of mine? How can I keep from becoming discouraged when this happens?|
List the things David did not fear, because the Lord was his light and salvation. Ps. 27:1-3.
Do we sometimes feel the whole world is against us? Perhaps! But we have no reason to fear the outcome. With God, our Helper, on our side, we can be sure of victory. We have enemies. But we need not fear them. We who endeavor to do right have the forces of evil against us. But we need not live in terror. What we need is faith in God and the courage that comes with it. With these we may have peace in our heart and victory in our life.
What may be our confidence? Ps. 17:6-15.
In this psalm, David dials, as it were, God's emergency phone system.
Apple of the eye. The Hebrew for this phrase literally means "a little man." "The term is applied to the pupil of the eye, probably because, as in a mirror, one sees a tiny image of himself. The prayer is that God will guard the psalmist as a man protects his eyesight. Compare a similar figure in Deut. 32:10 and Prov. 7:2.
"Shadow of thy wings. This phrase, common in the psalms, suggests a mother bird protecting her young. Compare a similar figure in Deut. 32:11, 12 and Matt. 23:37."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 668.
"All Paths Are Beset With Peril.-You need not be surprised if everything in the journey heavenward is not pleasant. There is no use in looking to our own defects. Looking unto Jesus, the darkness passes away, and the true light shineth. Go forth daily, expressing the prayer of David, 'Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.' All the paths of life are beset with peril, but we are safe if we follow where the Master leads the way, trusting the One whose voice we hear saying, 'Follow me. ' 'He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.' Let your heart repose in His love. We need sanctification, soul, body, and spirit. This we must seek for."Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1143.
|What "armies" are attacking you? What "wars" are you righting? Perhaps something or someone is tempting you or a particular situation you are in is making the present and the future quite glum. Which of God's promises help you in such situations?|
When God's people find themselves in emergency situations, what will He do for them? Isa. 59:18-20.
We live in a world where those who endeavor to serve God must expect manifestations of the power of the enemy and revealings of the power of God. Left to themselves alone, the children of God would be no match for the relentless foe. But the battle is not theirs alone. It is God's. In every crisis the Lord is with His people, ready to defend and deliver.
"Again and again throughout history God has intervened in the most marvelous ways to deliver His people. Such will again be the experience of God's people in the great crisis at the end of time. At the moment the wicked of earth think they have the saints completely within their power, the Lord will manifest Himself, destroying their enemies and taking the saints home with Him to receive their inheritance."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 312.
Review some of the emergency situations listed here. How does the Lord's intervention in each case help to strengthen your faith? Exod. 14:5-33; Esther 3-8; Dan. 3. What does verse 18 teach us about the true nature of faith?
"From age to age the Lord has made known the manner of His working. When a crisis has come, He has revealed Himself, and has interposed to hinder the working out of Satan's plans. With nations, with families, and with individuals, He has often permitted matters to come to a crisis, that His interference might become marked. Then He has made manifest that there is a God in Israel who will maintain His law and vindicate His people. "Christ's Object Lessons, p. 178.
"His [God's] power is absolute....
"In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, have faith in God. He is working out His will, doing all things well in behalf of His people. The strength of those who love and serve Him will be renewed day by day.
"He is able and willing to bestow upon His servants all the help they need. He will give them the wisdom which their varied necessities demand."The Ministry of Healing, pp. 481, 482.
|In what emergency situation do you presently find yourself?. How is God helping you through it? Can you say, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, "Even if God does not save me from this situation, I will still serve Him"?|
What does Psalm 48:14 tell us about our need for God's guidance? How personal is God's guidance? Ps. 32:8.
"I will guide you with My eye" (NKJV). Guidance with the eye is a close and intimate guidance. It is more than giving instructions and leaving a person to carry them out. It means watching the person continually to make sure every move is correct. It is the guidance a parent would give a child, freely, willingly, and with a deep concern for the child's best interest.
"Bob Mumford, in Take Another Look at Guidance, compares discovering God's will with a sea captain's docking procedure:
"A certain harbor in Italy can be reached only by sailing up a narrow channel between dangerous rocks and shoals. Over the years, many ships have been wrecked, and navigation is hazardous.
"To guide the ships safely into port, three lights have been mounted on three huge poles in the harbor. When the three lights are perfectly lined up and seen as one, the ship can safely proceed up the narrow channel. If the pilot sees two or three lights, he knows he's off course and in danger.
"God has also provided three beacons to guide us. The same rules of navigation
applythe three lights must be lined up before it is safe for
us to proceed. The three harbor lights of guidance are:
1. The Word of God (objective standard)
2. The Holy Spirit (subjective witness)
3. Circumstances (divine providence)
"Together they assure us that the directions we've received are from God and will lead us safely along his way. "Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching From Leadership Journal, Craig Brian Larson, ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1994), p. 108. (See also Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 512.)
"Let all who claim to be preparing for the coming of the Lord humbly seek Him for a knowledge of His will, and for a spirit that is willing to walk in all the light He sends.... Let us go to the Word of God for instruction. "Selected Messages, book 2, p. 326.
Memorize one of the following prayers for God's guidance and pray it often: Ps. 27:11; 31:3; 43:3.
|How can we make sure the impressions of our hearts (subjective witness) are right impressions?|
FURTHER STUDY: What role does trust in God play when it comes to seeking His help? Nah. 1:7. What about the human experience contributing to a lack of trust in God? 2 Cor. 1:9; Heb. 3:12. Explain what trust in God meant to the psalmist (Ps. 48:5-9). Also read Education, pp. 253-256.
There is no limit to what we may accomplish when we go forward with full confidence in God and complete reliance on His strength. Read Philippians 4:13. Paul was well aware of his own weaknesses. But he also was acquainted with God's infinite strength that was placed at his disposal.
"God will do great things for those who trust in Him. The reason why His professed people have no greater strength, is that they trust so much to their own wisdom, and do not give the Lord an opportunity to reveal His power in their behalf. He will help His believing children in every emergency, if they will place their entire confidence in Him, and faithfully obey Him."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 493.
SUMMARY: Trust in God lies at the heart of all we have studied this week. God wants to provide us with every type of assistance in our battle with the enemy and in our growth as His sons and daughters. But it is clear that unless we are walking in the path of obedience and trust, most of God's help will be unavailable to us. God has the power to help. He is willing to help. But His sovereignty ends where a rebel's sovereignty begins. If we are rebels, He can give us no more help, no more protection, than He provides for all inhabitants of our wayward world. But the moment we step under His banner, claiming Him our Commander, He accepts the gift of our sovereignty and begins to work in us to will and to do His good pleasure. It is His pleasure to care for us, protect us, and guide us. He will be our God of help.
Apricots for Souls
J. H. Zachary
God works mightily through people who put their trust in Him. Alexander Butoy escaped from Communist Romania and journeyed through Italy and Brazil, finally settling in Southern California. When Communism collapsed in Romania, Butoy prayed for a way to share his love for God with the people of Mari, his home village. In 1992 he returned to Mari, taking 50 Bibles with him. When he arrived he discovered that not one home had a Bible! He traveled to Bucharest to buy 105 more Bibles, so each home would have one.
While in Mari, two men from Veda, a neighboring village, came to see Butoy. "Please bring Bibles to our village too," they pleaded. Butoy promised to help them, but he had no more money.
He returned to California, praying that God would answer the prayers of these spiritually hungry people. He visited two of his cousins whose ancestral home was Veda and challenged them to help provide Bibles for their village. A few months later Butoy and his cousins returned to Veda with Bibles for every family.
While visiting the homes, they met the Orthodox priest. He thanked the men for providing the Bibles. "I cannot attend your meetings," he said. "But I encourage my people to attend. It is all right with me if half of the town becomes Adventists!" the priest told his surprised visitors.
Butoy wanted to provide Bibles for six additional villages in Romania. He asked The Quiet Hour and several churches to help him provide 2,500 Bibles.
Then some of the people who had received Bibles asked for help to understand the Word of God better. But Butoy had no money to support lay Bible teachers in the villages. Again he asked God to provide for this outreach.
Butoy saw his three apricot trees in full bloom. He knelt under one of the trees and dedicated it to the Lord. "I will sell the apricots from this tree to finance lay workers in Romania," he promised God. The apricot tree he had dedicated to God produced twice as much fruit as the other two trees. The funds from the apricots paid for several lay workers to teach the people in Mari and the surrounding villages. Today there is a company of believers in each of these villages.
J. H. Zachary is international evangelism coordinator for The Quiet Hour
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