Helpless Not Hopeless

    Call to Worship:   2 Samuel 7:22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you."

    Songs:  Praise to the King -   Steve Green 
    He Reigns with Awesome God -Travis Cottrell                                               
    Indescribable  -   Steve Green

    Scripture: Hebrews 12
    Song: Giants Fall - Francesca Battistelli 
    Sermon: “Helpless Not Hopeless”

    Closing Song:  By Faith - Keith & Kristyn Getty  

    Benediction:   Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
    Sermon: “Helpless Not Hopeless”
                Today I want to look at being totally helpless but at the same time in our helplessness we are not hopeless. Helpless be defined as “having no ability to take care of or protect yourself from harm.” Another definition describes helplessness as “a feeling of being unable to manage,” such as depression. Hopeless is defined “as being certain of failure, without hope because there seems to be no possibility of comfort or success.” Someone who's hopeless believes that nothing good can happen — a happy ending seems impossible.” This is the exact opposite of what we are talking about today. Because of God’s word, in our helplessness we are hopeful not hopeless, which means full of promise because we stand on God’s promise.  The helplessness I am talking today does not lead to depression but to strength. I took a quick look at some facts about mental health and without getting into all of them I will cite a few of them. Depression is soon to become the second leading cause of disability in the world (next to heart disease)”  “The fourth leading cause of disability and premature death in the world: Depression.” “The group of illnesses that contributes more to the global burden of disease than all cancers combined: Mental disorders.” “Most common cause of violent death in the world: Suicide” These came from “Facts about Mental Illness and Addiction in Canada.” But what I did not see was a cry to return to God.
                As we return to God our helplessness is about the inability to act on our own and realizing the only solution is surrendering the results to God. This is not about curling up into a ball unable to function without medication but bowing before God saying I cannot function without you. We live in a day where most are functioning on their own. We have all kinds of people doing things for the Lord but most are not doing anything in the Lord’s power. Yes they say they are but in reality they are just operating as most do in this world. Yes there are great success stories in this world and each generation has them. So yes just like the world there are many successful businessmen in the church, running the church as if it were a fortune 500 company. Yes many are successful and yes many will copy what they are doing but most have not turned from their wicked ways and humbled themselves helpless before God. They are not willing to wait for God’s power to be revealed. Also most do not know enough to call out for help against the enemy. They are not really dependent, on God they just say they are. Success in the church today is not about the power of the Holy Spirit flowing but whether or not the machine is running full stream ahead.
                Here are a few more stats. Since we live in Canada the “Highest per capita users of psychiatric medications in the world: Canadians. The second highest users of sedatives and the fourth highest users of prescription narcotics in the world: Canadians. The rate at which the costs for anti-depressant medications have risen in Canada: 1981 ($31.4 million) 2000 ($543.4 million) Estimated costs for 2005 ($1.2 billion).” Stats Canada grouped “Prescription medications are the second most costly component of health care, accounting for almost 14% ($29 billion) of Canada’s annual health care spending in 2013. Everything just keeps rising. This gives us all the more reason to repent and return to God. It is time for us to understand a new meaning of helplessness as wait on God to empower us once again to heal our land. This helplessness we are talking about defeats our enemies. Helplessness does not immobilize us but we mobilize against our enemies.
                David said to Solomon 1 Chronicles 22:11 “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. 12 May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” It was said about King Uzziah. 2 Chronicles 26:3 “Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem. 4 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. 5 He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.
                Understanding that we need to be helpless to be hopeful before God is crucial. Understanding helplessness is paramount in becoming humble and turning from our wicked ways. The enemy wants you to believe that your helplessness is weakness, which is true in the world’s eyes but not God’s. You may be thinking as we wait, that the enemy is too strong and all looks hopeless but that is right where we need to be. You may be thinking I need to strengthen myself. You may be thinking what can I do to get through this? You may be thinking the enemy has us surrounded just as happened to King Hezekiah. You may be thinking all is lost. You may thinking I need to prepare the sacrifice and take care of things myself because the enemy us upon us like King Saul did but Samuel came just in time, victory is just around the corner if we trust in God’s plan. David said, Psalm 18:6 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. 19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
                Being in a helpless state is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Be strong; be courageous; do not fear for God is near. Isaiah 8:12 “do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread. As Nehemiah said Nehemiah 2:17 “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding.” Ezra 5:11 “This is the answer they gave us: “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.” In our weakness God will do great things.
                This rebuild will only happen in our weakness. The weaker we are the better. Paul said 1 Corinthians 1:25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” Most will never understand this. In North America we have a “do it yourself” mentality, which has infiltrated the church. Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. Now if Saint Augustine actually said that he is a fool as are all the people who believe this is biblical. Plus this saying is on Pinterest, so it must be right. Here in our country we have this “look busy attitude” and if we are busy working for God, we must be working for God or are we just busy. Yes many busy people will be rewarded by the term successful but not by God. Colossians 1:28 “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” This is not the same as being busy. If you are not filled with the power of the Holy Spirit with the gifts operating, then you just busy. Some people are very good at it. The problem is then people follow these men and women who make business an art form and they follow after them as if they were Gods. Many follow the early church fathers like they do the so called late church fathers but as I said a few weeks ago look at he Willow Creek fiasco and tell me why thousands of churches have been following them all these years. In the end it was just man’s way.
                In order to work like Paul we must also be filled with the Holy Spirit. Our emptiness enables us to be filled with the Spirit of God. That is the only way to defeat our enemies as he did. This is the only way to be victorious in our helplessness. To carry out Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me;” we must be helpless before God. We also must be willing to submit ourselves wholly before God and wait for him to act. As the enemy continues to attack are you willing to admit your helplessness or will you try to solve it yourself?
                I want to read from 2 Chronicles 20:1 “After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. 2 Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ 10 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
                This last sentence really sums up being helpless before God. “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” We see this also when King Hezekiah prayed 2 Kings 19:15 “And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. 17 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.” We also see this when 1 Chronicles 5:18 “The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had 44,760 men ready for military service—able-bodied men who could handle shield and sword, who could use a bow, and who were trained for battle. 19 They waged war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish and Nodab. 20 They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him. 21 They seized the livestock of the Hagrites—fifty thousand camels, two hundred fifty thousand sheep and two thousand donkeys. They also took one hundred thousand people captive, 22 and many others fell slain, because the battle was God’s. And they occupied the land until the exile.”
                David had become King just as Samuel said. 1 Chronicles 11:3 “they anointed David king over Israel, as the Lord had promised through Samuel.” 1 Chronicles 14:2 “And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of his people Israel. 1 Chronicles 11:9 “And David became more and more powerful, because the Lord Almighty was with him.” God will empower us in our weakness so we do not have to fear.  2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Remember Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” I think you can agreed with me that this kind of power would be a real kick in the teeth to mental health disorders. We need to change our thinking in this area. We need to move away from accepting that we have mental health disorders to expectant to defeat them. We are not just talking about busyness but being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to go and make true disciples of Jesus Christ by turning them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.”
                When we see the enemy approaching or surrounding us, taunting and ridiculing know that God is more powerful just like Habakkuk knew when he said Habakkuk 3:17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” When we see the vast army we cry out and trust, we don’t attempt to defeat the enemy on our own. This is not a time to be hopeless.
                Part of understanding helplessness is having our eyes opened to know that we are helpless. Christians are confused because they have been taught they should be strong but they know they are not. Most Christians are running around naked thinking they have the armour of light but they don’t; they are just naked. They are defenseless against the power of the enemy and are dying daily. You can’t fight this spiritual battle with clever branding and websites or comfy theater seating listening to edgy sermons that have little or no biblical truth. You can’t defeat this enemy without the power of the Holy Spirit yet many are trying. They won’t turn from their wicked ways because they do not know they are wicked. The enemy is so deceptive that most do not know they have been deceived until it is to late. The only way to be victorious is to be helpless. In that helpless state is where God empowers us but even when God empowers us, we must remain humble. King Uzziah became self sufficient and paid for it. 2 Chronicles 26:16 “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 21 King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died.” Self-sufficiency or a do it yourself mentality is the opposite of helplessness. So many go around proclaiming they are dependent on God yet they rule by their own authority and do as they please while going their own way. Jeremiah 5:31 “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” They have no authority or power and no gifts of the Spirit to defeat the enemy.
                So by being powerless we become powerful. Here are a few verses about this. 2 Chronicles 14:11 “Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.” 2 Chronicles 32:7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.”8 With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 17:45 “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Corinthians 15:54 “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
                As we prepare to cross the Jordon and take the land as we have been promised, we must understand that we have great hope in our helplessness. No we cannot defeat what we are about to face on our own but at the same time we do not have to be afraid because God said he would go before us and be with us always. Deuteronomy 20:1  “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”  Deuteronomy 31:7 “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
                Now ask yourself are you really willing to be helpless before God and believe he will do as he said he would. If so Joshua 1:1 “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” As Jehoshaphat was told in 2 Chronicles 20:17 “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” And as Israel was told when about to be annihilated by the Egyptians at the Red Sea, Exodus 14:13 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
                Having the armour on does not mean we can defeat our enemies in our own strength. Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” You can’t win this war on your own so embrace your helplessness and wait on God to be victorious.
                Psalm 10:1 Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. 3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. 4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 5 His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. 6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” 7 His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. 8 He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; 9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. 10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. 11 He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.” 12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. 13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? 14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out. 16 The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. 17 You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.”