Help Me Lord...
A Prayer to Open Our Study
Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear and answer our prayers. Hear the prayer of every woman here today and answer in Your great love. Enter this place and meet with us today. Remove all fear and sadness and refresh our souls. As we look to You we see the radiance of God’s glory. Increase our faith as you reveal more of your character and your deeds to us. Shine into our night and drive the dark away, may your glory fill our hearts. May your grace be with our spirit.
It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Lesson Three Part Four: God’s Help Is For The Believer.
Mr. Stanley wants to make it clear for us that God uses adversity in the believer's life for many purposes, all of them ultimately for our good. Also, that God limits the adversity in the life of the believer, and He strengthens the believer to endure the trials that Satan brings. He reminds us that none of these statements can be made on behalf of the unbeliever. The unbeliever is in a position of estrangement and alienation from the Lord.
God loves unbelievers but if they interfere with God’s children or try to stop His plans they will be treated harshly. The enemy (Satan) has free access to all unbelievers, they are in danger physically, and emotionally, that’s why we should pay attention to Hebrews 3:12-13 “See to it, brothers, and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” The writer of Hebrews instructs us to find daily encouragement in one another, because it strengthens us for the day ahead. When we have overexposure to sin it causes hardness of our hearts. But being built up and encouraged daily will prove just the opposite. It will keep our hearts soft, and receptive to the Lord. As believers we need to share our lives with other believers drawing encouragement from them.
8. Mr. Stanley wanted us to consider what John 4:4 tells us about how having a friendship with the world makes us enemies with God, and what does it mean to have friendship with the world? You’ve probably heard a thousand times that Christians are supposed to “be in the world, but not of it.” This statement may seem confusing, but overexposure to the lure of this world will wreak havoc on your heart and your ability to trust God. But how do we live in the world and not have the world live in us?
"In the World but not of the World,"
When I was doing research for this subject, I came across a story I feel will help us put this idea in a fresh perspective. I don’t know the authors name, but she said. “One summer my parents gave our kids a blow-up raft to use in the neighborhood swimming pool. The first couple of weeks, it worked great. My three children had a great time paddling around the pool and giving rides to their friends.
Then the raft developed a small hole. The little bit of water it allowed in didn’t really cause any trouble. But soon other, larger holes developed, requiring the kids to constantly scoop out the water just to keep the raft afloat. We threw away the boat because it no longer served its purpose. It was designed to float, not to sink. It was supposed to be in the water, but water was not supposed to be in the boat.”
She went on to say, “The boat is designed to float in the water – to be in the water, surrounded by it on all sides. But there should not be any water in the boat. Our goal as followers of Christ is to actively engage our culture with the Gospel without allowing the culture’s ungodly morals, values, attitudes, and behaviors to infiltrate our lives. Unfortunately, many sincere Christians struggle to get it right.” So, how can we live in a way that impacts the world for Christ without allowing the world to impact us?
3 Ways Christians Relate to the World
1. Separate from the World
Some of us take our boats out of the water all together. Our intentions are good. We want to protect ourselves and our families from the sin of the world. Granted, it’s easier to live by God’s standards if we remove ourselves from the influence of the world. But there’s one big problem with that. In doing so, we also remove the influence of Christ from the world. Jesus calls us to go out into the world and take the Gospel (John 17:14-18), not hunker down in a holy bunker.
2. Compromise in One or More Areas
Others of us launch our boats out in the culture, but because we fail to adequately protect ourselves from its influence and guard ourselves against sin, we end up taking on water. Some believers simply throw up their hands in surrender without even trying to live by God’s standards. Following Christ may feel “too hard,” “too boring,” or just “too weird.” But the majority of us compromise little by little. Often, we don’t even realize it’s happening. We straddle the fence over here. We give slightly in another area over there. Sometimes, we even compromise with God’s holy standards in a misguided attempt to be “relevant.”
3. Live by God’s Standards Out in the World
Admittedly, being out in the world but not like it can be brutally difficult - much like paddling a boat upstream. In fact, some days it may be more like trying to go up Niagara Falls in a barrel.
How can we interact with lost people without being influenced by the unbelief and hostility towards God so prevalent in our culture? What does that look like? We find two key biblical principles in the very passage that coined the phrase “in the world, but not of it.” The following passage is part of a prayer Jesus prayed for His disciples on the night He was betrayed:
In John 17:6-18 Jesus says, "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world."
Jesus did not ask the Father to take His followers out of the world. In fact, Jesus commissioned them to go into the world as His ambassadors. Instead, He asked the Father to protect them from Satan and his schemes, to guard them from temptation, and to make them holy through the truth of His word. This is what they needed to fulfill their commission.
Did you notice that Jesus’ prayer was not just for those handful of disciples? Jesus included you and me in that prayer (John 17-20) “those who will believe in me through their message.” The truth principles also apply to us.
First, we must guard our own heart and lives from temptation. Take an inventory of your life. Where are you weak? In what areas are you most tempted? Ask God to help you identify those weaknesses and then take steps to protect them. Take precautionary measures. Find an accountability partner. Take things out of your life that constantly cause temptation. Patch the holes in your boat!
Second, immerse yourself in God’s Word. Know the truth inside and out so you can recognize lies when you hear them. Obey what God shows you in His Word so your life will be holy and above reproach. Then get your boat in the water! There are some drowning souls in need of rescue.
9. Mr. Stanley asks us, what does it mean to “lean on your own understanding and acknowledge God in all your ways?”
Read Proverbs 3:5-6
This is a familiar passage to many of us: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths." Verse 5 is a complementary pair of commands. We are told, positively, to trust the Lord and negatively, not to trust our own understanding. Those two things are mutually exclusive. In other words, if we trust in the Lord, we cannot also depend upon our own ability to understand everything God is doing. We only see part of the picture God is painting. If we are to trust Him, we have to let go of our pride, our programs, and our plans. Even the best-laid human plans cannot begin to approach the magnificent wisdom of God’s plan. We must approve of God’s ways, even when we can’t comprehend them.
Read Isaiah 55:8–9
God sees the entire picture, while we only see our tiny corner of it. To trust in the Lord with all our heart means we can’t place our own right to understand above His right to direct our lives the way He sees fit. When we insist on God always making sense to our finite minds, we are setting ourselves up for spiritual trouble. Our limited understanding can easily lead us astray.
Read Proverbs 16:25
All of us must decide whether to live our life according to personal preference or according to the unchanging Word of God. We often will not understand how God is causing "all things to work together for good" (Romans 8:28), but when we trust Him with all our hearts, we know that He is. He will never fail us.
Read Psalm 119:142 and Philippians 2:13
10. Read Lamentations 3:33 So, knowing all of this Mr. Stanley asks us, “If God “does not afflict willingly” why do you think He sometimes allows grief in your life?”
We have been talking about this for a while, and the big questions is, If God is all-powerful, loving, wise, and just, why is the world so full of hatred and injustice; and why does God allow suffering? Have you ever wondered is it wrong to ask why God allows suffering? Some worry that asking such a question means that they do not have enough faith or that they are showing disrespect for God. When reading the Bible, however, you will find that faithful, God-fearing people had similar questions. For example, the prophet Habakkuk asked God: “Why do you make me witness wrongdoing? And why do you tolerate oppression? Why are destruction and violence before me? And why do quarreling and conflict abound?” (Habakkuk 1:3)
Did God scold the faithful prophet Habakkuk for asking questions? No. God included Habakkuk’s sincere words in the inspired Bible record. God also helped him to get a clearer understanding of matters and to gain greater faith. He wants to do the same for you. God will use our adversities to grow our faith. Jesus emphasized the importance of having faith and Jesus asked this question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) Why was Jesus concerned about people having faith? Hebrews 11:6 tells us why faith is so important to God: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” How do we go about increasing our faith?
1. Ask God for more faith. We need to ask God to give us more faith as we go through trials.
Read 1 John 5:14-15 and
2. Focus on obeying God. We need to keep our thoughts on the things that God wants for us either to learn or to do.
Read Jeremiah 42:6 and Isaiah 1:19
3. Put God’s Word into your mind. By spending time reading our Bible we can accomplish 1 and 2.
Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 119:11
Charles Stanley wants us to consider these thoughts: Today and Tomorrow
Today: God does send adversity into my life, but He does it for my good - not for my suffering.
Tomorrow: I will thank and trust the Lord during trials- even as I ask Him to deliver me.
Closing Prayer, Charles Stanley
Father, we thank You for sending us difficult times, trials, and tribulations. We think about the fact You are such a loving heavenly Father that You are willing to allow us – as Your children- to go through times of trouble in order to build us up, strengthen us, and mature us in our faith. We thank You, Lord, for the lessons that You are teaching us by allowing adversity to confront us each day. You watch, build, strengthen, establish, and confirm, but You don’t take away the hurt until You have accomplished Your purpose. Thank You, Father, for the work that You are continuing to do in each of our lives. Amen.