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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

By God's Strength, not Mine (Isaiah 17)

Have you ever heard the Bible verse, "God helps those who help themselves?" Or should I say, have you heard the "expression," because it is actually NOT a Bible verse. In fact, "God helps those who help themselves" is not really what God calls us to do.

Just to be clear, that doesn't mean God wants us to sit around being lazy, not working, and not contributing to our family and community. Scripture makes it very clear that we are to be productive rather than lazy and depending on the provisions of others:

2 Thessalonians 3:10 If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.

That's just common sense, isn't it? But could it be, where we get off track is when we insist on relying on ourselves and our own strength rather than relying on God?

Psalm 105:4 Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face.

That seems to be the repeated theme to me in Isaiah 17 - 26. People were relying on everything but God:

1) They were relying on the works of their own hands:

Isaiah 17:7-8 In that day people will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands.

2) They were relying on the strength of others and establishing alliances with other nations who did not follow God.

Isaiah 18:2 Go, swift messengers! Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction

3) They were relying on the strength of idols:

Isaiah 19:1 Look! The LORD is advancing against Egypt, riding on a swift cloud. The idols of Egypt tremble

We think we are being responsible when we say, "I've got this God. I can take care of this myself." But the fact is, God sees that as pride and rebellion, not faith.

Faith always admits our need for God and submits to Him for wisdom, strength and direction. Yes, God wants us to work hard and be productive. But no, God does not want us to do that on our own, independent of Him. He wants us to do it in concert with Him, under His constant direction, just as Jesus did when He walked on this earth.

Matthew 26:39 Going a little farther, He feel with His face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will."

So when we insist on doing it on our own, we are being prideful. And God hates pride.

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

To be honest this is something I need to work on. I don't like to ask for help because I tend to think I am being a burden on others and not worthy of the help. Then I direct that same attitude to God.

I take off working hard on what I think God wants me to do without constantly checking with Him, faithfully letting Him guide my every step.

So it's really easy for my "work hard" to become prideful, which is following Satan's example, rather than the example Jesus gave us to pray to God the Father in all things.

Philippians 4:6 Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything.

Dear Lord, Thank you for the reminder that I am not being weak when I ask you for guidance or ask others You send to me, for help. Lord, I want to follow You in all things, in the good times and in the bad, in the celebrations and in the sorrows. I know I need You in all things, for I am nothing without You. Lord, please keep me humble and make it clear to me when I am being prideful rather than humbly leaning into You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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