God Doesn’t Help Those Who Help Themselves

Today I’m sharing from Core Christianity

God Doesn’t Help Those
Help Themselves

By Michael Horton

According to a Barna survey, 87 percent of today’s Evangelical Christians (the heirs of the Reformation) affirm that medieval Roman Catholic conviction, that “God helps those who help themselves.” Two-thirds of the Evangelical Christians in America said that we all pray to the same God whether we’re Buddhists, Muslims, Jews or Christians.

Through the middle ages, Christianity became entangled with the vines of superstition, ignorance and spiritual lethargy that same thing we see all around us today. When Luther uncovered the theological scandal, the fragile Roman scaffolding began to creak. The essentials of the Reformation were doctrinal. It was part of the Renaissance to call for a return to the original sources, so it made sense that Christian scholars returned not only to the great classics of Western civilization and to the early fathers, but to the biblical text itself.

The Reformation was the greatest back to the Bible movement in the history of the church since the death of the apostles. But they went back to the Bible not simply as an end in itself, but in order to recover the essential truths that the Bible proclaimed and that the church had either forgotten or actually rejected. Those essentials were Scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone and to God alone be the glory.

Why is the Reformation needed today?

What was so special about the Reformation in the first place that makes a second one so worthwhile? 

Well, do you believe that the Reformation got these doctrines out of balance with other doctrines as the Roman church believed? Or do you believe that the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone to the glory of God alone and that this is the Bible’s central message from Genesis to Revelation?

If it’s the Bible’s central message, then it must be essential for us as it was for the Reformation in the 16th century. The problem we’re facing as a church today is that our situation is even worse than it was for the medieval church. Now just look at each of those slogans in the light of today’s realities, first of all the so-called evangelical, Bible-believing Christians in America are supposedly the spiritual heirs of the Protestant Reformation, and yet according to their responses to recent surveys, their views are actually much closer to those of medieval people before the Reformation.

The battle cry, “Scripture alone,” is rarely heard even in these conservative Protestant churches today as pop psychology, marketing, and management principles, pragmatism, consumerism, sociological data and political crusades tend to have the greatest authority and weight in the churches. Christ alone is challenged by the voices of those who are following our culture of religious pluralism insist that Jesus is the best, but not the only way to the Father. In fact, two-thirds of the Evangelical Christians in America said that we all pray to the same God whether we’re Buddhists, Muslims, Jews or Christians, two-thirds. Grace alone has fallen prey once more to the moralism and self-confidence of the human heart.

Read the rest here.

How to Use Apologetics for Your Own Growth

Today I’m sharing How to Use Apologetics for Your Own Growthwhich is the followup to Why You Should Use Apologetics for Your Own Growth, from Clear Lens.

How to Use Apologetics for Your Own Growth

When you study apologetics for your own growth, you will be better prepared to answer questions posed by others. Here’s how to reap the benefits.

By Amanda Fischer

This post is a “part two” of sorts–a follow-up to my post “Why You Should Use Apologetics for Your Own Growth.” A reader asked for a better picture of how to put this idea into practice, so that’s what I’d like to share with you today.

Here’s a one-sentence summary of my previous post: Apologetics isn’t limited to answering others’ questions; you can use it to answer your own questions as well.

If you’re doing this truth-seeking and truth-sharing life right, you should be finding yourself in intellectually stretching situations regularly. For example, you might read something from a perspective you disagree with, and force yourself to think through the challenges presented. Or you might have a solid, engaging conversation with that coworker of yours who seems to always shoot down your carefully-presented reasons. Whatever the situation, you will discover new challenges.

When you come across these challenges, you’re initially stumped. The conversation moves on or ends, and you’ve finished reading the book or article. There’s not an immediate drive to have the answers for someone you’re engaging with. So, is it still worth digging into the issue? It’s up to you to discern, but many times it’s valuable to put in the effort to learn.

This is apologetics for your own growth: searching out the answers to your own questions. After all, if we aren’t fully persuaded, how can we persuade others?

Read the rest here.

Why You Should Use Apologetics for Your Own Growth

Sharing today from Clear Lens.

Why You Should Use Apologetics for Your Own Growth

Even if no one is around to hear your evidences or respond to your arguments, if your own faith is strengthened, the time you spend studying is worth it.

By Amanda Fischer

Have you ever heard the expression “preach the gospel to yourself”?

I’m not sure where it originated, but the idea is that the gospel is more than a once-and-done lesson for us. We are forgetful people and we need to hear it again…and again. We aren’t necessarily going to hear the gospel from someone else every day, so the duty lies to us.

Apologetics works the same way.

Usually, we think of apologetics as something we do with other people. It’s a debate, or at least a conversation. It’s a question and answer exchange. So how can you apply apologetics to yourself? What does it mean to practice apologetics for your own growth?

To tackle this question, we must understand what the purpose of apologetics is, and what our motivations are for engaging in it.

The purpose of apologetics

As the oft-quoted 1 Peter 3:15 says, as Christ-followers, we should always be prepared to give an answer for the hope we have. In the context of the chapter, the idea becomes clear: be a living witness for unbelievers, and when they ask you why you live like you do, have answers for them.

Of course, there are other passages that deal with the components of what we consider apologetics, which talk about making arguments and tearing down strongholds. And there’s the word itself, apologia, which simply means “to give a defense.” This leaves a lot of room for how exactly we are to give this defense, and what form it will take.

So to apply this to the topic at hand: Do you ever answer your own questions? Do you ever defend yourself, against yourself, to yourself? (Don’t even try to tell me you’ve never argued with yourself.)

In case this is getting confusing, let’s look at an example.

Read the rest here.

#JOY Mishmash

JOY-Mishmash-Collage

Today’s mishmash is brought to you by the word JOY. The dictionary describes JOY as:

  • the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
  • a state of happiness or felicity
  • a source or cause of delight

However, this definition of Christian JOY by John Piper is the kind of JOY I’m writing about:

Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world.¹

I haven’t done this in awhile, so today I’d like to share another of the devotionals I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis particular devotional was included in the section titled “Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving.

When I want to thank God for His joy . . .

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

—Psalm 100:1-2
 

[The  LORD says] The joy of the LORD will fill you to overflowing.
You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.

—Isaiah 41:16 NLT
 

We are praying . . . that you will be filled with his mighty,
glorious strength so that you can keep going  no matter what happens—
always full of the joy of the Lord.

—Colossians 1:11 TLB
 

You will make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy.
—Psalm 16:11 NASB
 

Be full of joy in the Lord always.
I will say it again, be full of joy.

—Philippians 4:4 NCV

. . . I will pray.

Glorious Father,

Today I woke up singing a praise song that I heard on the radio yesterday. I guess it must have settled into my mind because I remember hearing it play through my dreams during the night as I slept. What a wonderful way to start the day! No matter how tired, cranky, or achy I feel when I wake up, praising You in song overcomes any pain or irritation I may be experiencing.

There are so many reasons to be joyful when thinking about You. Knowing I can always turn to You for guidance makes me smile with gratification. Your comforting arms holding me close make me sigh in blissful contentment.

Your heavenly joy becomes visible when I hear the delighted giggling of a child or see the tiny hands and feet of a newborn baby. And how can I not rejoice with You when a glorious rainbow paints the sky? I always appreciate Your readiness to show me the joys in life, especially when I’m at my lowest. You give me joy enough for each and every day. Thank You for Your gracious gift.

Amen.

I have no understanding of a long-faced Christian.
If God is anything, He must be joy.

—Joe E. Brown

¹ How Do You Define Joy?


AnytimePrayersForEverydayPeople

[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]


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Believe!

Believe-RusticCross-smaller--AMP

 If we really believed that God meant what He said – what should we be like! Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?  —Oswald Chambers

There is a strong connection between the words believe and faith. They both come from the same root word in the Hebrew.

Faith (pistis) is a noun, something you have:

  • a firm persuasion
  • assurance
  • certain conviction
  • Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1

Believe (pistueo) is a verb, something you do, based upon that faith:

  • to trust in and fully rely upon
  • to accept as genuine and true
  • to be firmly convinced about
  • For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. —2 Timothy 1:12

True faith in God should lead to our believing in what He has done for us.

Some people will think: If I really could believe!  

but the point truly is: if I really will believe.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
 
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe stands condemned already
because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
 

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,
but people loved darkness instead of light
because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light
for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
 
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done
has been done in the sight of God.
—John 3:16-21

Jesus places much emphasis on the sin of unbelief:

 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue,
so that they were astonished, and said,
“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?
 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary,
and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
“And His sisters, are they not all with us?
Where then did this man get all these things?”
And they took offense at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor
except in his hometown and in his own household.”
And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
—Matthew 13:54-58

“This is a tremendous revelation. Note what it was that limited the power of God when He was here. It was unbelief! “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. He did very few miracles there. My friend, the great problem with you and me is that we do not have faith to believe—and I’m talking about faith for the salvation of men and women. We need the kind of faith that believes Christ can save the lost. He is limited today in your own community, in your church, in your family, and in your own life by unbelief. And this is certainly true of me also. Our Lord states a great truth here. Let’s not bypass it.” (1)

Beloved, read that last verse again:

And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
—Matthew 13:58 

It should not surprise any of us that Jesus places so much importance on the sin of unbelief.

If you have any questions on how to be saved—in other words, in how to completely trust in Jesus—please read my A…B…C… page. And you are always welcome to email me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com. 

Related: http://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/spiritual-life/believe-in-your-heart/

(1) Copyright © 1983. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee

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Our Selfless Savior (Part 4) [REPOST]

~This is the fourth part of the series on John 13 by Donna Baker~

Last Thursday Donna left us with this:

Each time we fall short of God’s standard for us, all we need to do is confess those sins to Him and we are immediately washed clean.

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” — John 13:7

The disciples seemed obtuse to us, but they didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet. We do, and we still fall so short of understanding. It is sad how little I know of His Word.

Jesus told them not all of them were clean. This is true for us as well. Not all in our midst are saved. It is like the parable of the wheat and tares.

Tares Among Wheat

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying,

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.

27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’

28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’

29 But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.

40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.

41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

 Tares are a weed resembling wheat.

We are not called on to pull up the tares because we don’t know who they are…just like the apostles didn’t know that Judas was a devil in their midst.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

And that is what some of you were.

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. —1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Here again we are told there are those among us who are not clean. The unlined verses say some of us were, but we are now washed clean.

How?

“…in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

We are to serve others, we are to preach the Word, because it is the power of God unto salvation.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. —Romans 1:16

Dr.J. Vernon McGee defines salvation as the all-inclusive term of the gospel, and it simply means “deliverance.”

It embraces everything from justification [the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin] to glorification [the future and final work of God upon Christians, where he transforms our mortal physical bodies to the eternal physical bodies in which we will dwell forever].

Dr. McGee describes salvation as both an act and a process, and goes on to say that it is equally true that “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I shall be saved.

I ask myself:

  • Am I teaching others His Word?
  • Am I modeling His Word as He did to His disciples?
  • Can my children and grandchildren look at my life and see the reflection of His Word at work in my life?
  • Or am I hiding in a corner shrinking back in fear or disappointment at how my life has unraveled?

Beloved, how about you?

 

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God is the great I AM [REPOST]

TREASURE TUESDAY

Today’s Treasure Tuesday post is brought to you thanks to my mentor and friend, Patricia Knight.

God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’   —Exodus 3:4

God is.

God is able.

God is able to do.

God is able to do great things.

He is able to do great things for us.

Sometimes the simpler we describe God, the more majestic He becomes. Isn’t it with simplicity that He guides us in our faith? It was never His goal to make our walk with Him complicated. “Come as a little child” (Matthew 18:3), He told His disciples long ago. He instructs us the same way today. That is why I love to observe our grandsons and learn truths about God from applying analogies to their activities. We can learn from all people, young and old.

God tells us to “get wisdom, knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23b) and to treasure them.  God wants us to learn and grow. Not a static faith, Christianity comes alive in Christ. Worship at the throne of Grace where we can find our Lord, not as a hard-handed authoritarian, but as a loving, merciful, gracious Father.

If we knew we could plug our bodies and minds into a Source of power to gain energy and ability, wouldn’t we rush to do it? We can call on the God of all power who created and sustains the universe. If we knew we could inherit an eternal life of bliss, with no suffering or sadness ever again, wouldn’t we stand in line waiting for an extended period of time to gain access to such a gift?

There is no need to cool our heels in long lines. Come to the Savior personally. With humility and meekness, imitating Jesus, bow down before the Savior of the world, requesting forgiveness and a new life with God as the Lord of your life.

Believe.

Has God made our faith in Him too simplistic?  It was designed so that a child could understand the terms. At times when we struggle with trials, we are convinced the Christian life is complicated. There are adversities to be lived and learned so that we can develop into the best disciples possible. There is predicted persecution from following Jesus, but we have never been told to go it alone.

God is with us and promises

never to leave us or forsake us” (Joshua 1:5). 

What security! What blessedness! What absolute joy! God is in the quietness. Listen carefully for Him. You will hear Him speak through His Word, through other Christians, through your experiences, and in prayer.

We will never hear Him if we are striving and fumbling about with our own goals.  Prayer is a two-way conversation. Talk and then—listen. Listen with impunity. Listen with intent. Listen with reverence. Hear with purpose so that once the quietness is past, the goals become manifest. Go forward in faith, knowing what God has spoken is solemn and sovereign.

God is faithful.

He will meet all your needs” (Philippians 4:19).

That is a promise! God said it and that makes it so. Do not fret. Do not worry. Forsake anxiety and confusion, for God offers peace and comfort. God is immutable. It is impossible for Him to make mistakes or to go back on His Words. It just can’t happen, for it would alter the character of God.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
—Hebrews 13:6

What a firm foundation for our faith!

As you go forward with new plans for each day,cast your cares and worries on God, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He will free you from questions and doubts to accomplish the work for which He has chosen you. Keep your faith strong by remaining  locked in God’s Word. He will steer your life and your plans. Stay the course. As you leave your home bay for a destination on the other side of the waters, keep your eyes on the Light in the distance, for God will lead you home. Allow God to be your pilot, your oarsman, your guide. He promises to provide you with His strength for the journey, though it may occasionally be long and treacherous.

Dare to think big. Dare to trust in a God who is big, who is strong and mighty, and who controls the elements of nature with complete authority. Become one with God so that His goals are yours; His power and strength are transferred to your life. God lavishes His children richly with His gifts. In return, give yourself obediently to the Lord; all of your body, mind, and soul.

He will never fail you. On that you can depend, for He is simply, but elegantly,

the Great I Am.

Thank you, dear Pat, for sharing your heart with us here again.

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