Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Help me

 Reading: Ps 121

Where do you like to holiday? I like the mountains, but I need help there! They are hard work!  So the mountains make me think of the need for help.

Perhaps the most common prayer is for help; it is frequent in the Bible.  And help is promised (eg Ps 121:8).  The psalm promises three times that God will watch over us (NIV).  The older RSV translation uses the word "keep", which is both a better translation and more comforting than just watching.  The psalm says that God preserves, and protects, and then says "        From now and for evermore", again a better translation than the NIV.

So for help we go to GOD, so lift up eyes to the hills! They are not the source of help, but often speak of God. He is our Ebenezer (rock of help) (cf Matt 7:24f).  It is not surprising that God is often associated with mountains (cf 1 Ki 20:23,28).  Many significant things happened on mountains, eg Ararat, Sinai, Zion, Bryn Calfaria (Welsh for hill of Calvary. Look to God, look away from troubles.  Psalm 121 is "A song of ascents", sung by pilgrims on the way to worship in Jerusalem.

After all, He MADE the hills (Ps 121:2)!  He is able and reliable, there is no sleeping with him!

But if we want God's help, we first acknowledge the need!  The problem is that we are loath to, liking independence - asking for help offends our pride!  This is the root of sin. But we need God's help, both for salvation now and for evermore - we cannot save or help ourselves - why are we stubborn?

Our faith recognises the priority of grace, that salvation is not earned, but is a gift.  But then we work to develop God's salvation in us (Phil 1:23).  Part of this is that we help others by God's strength in us. Helping is working together (Phil 2:13). Love one another as He loved us.

So God sends helpers! Eve was created as Adam's helper (Gen 2:18), the Holy Spirit is aparaklete (called alongside).  Through him we are helped and God shows us what to do.

Then, amazingly, while we pray "Help me!", God requests OUR help!   He gives us the privilege of service.  If being helped offends our pride, here is something to be proud of. We are his workers in the world.  At his inaugural in 1961, President Kennedy appealed, "Do not ask what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country". So do not ask what God can do for you but what you can do for God!