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God Teaches us to Rely on Him

fishWe’ve all heard the adage:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

The idea is to make people self-reliant, so we don’t have to give them aid over and over again. It is a good principle, often used in the context of aid to poor countries – teaching them to farm, to provide for themselves, so they don’t become dependent on aid.

There can even be a spiritual analogy, where we teach people how to pray for themselves or minister to others independently, so they can do so without their teacher or instructor.  Again, this is a great idea that makes us self-reliant and productive.

There is a danger though, in stretching the spiritual analogy too far.  God taught Israel in the desert, not so they could become independent, but so they would learn to depend on Him.  When He told them to go and possess the land, they balked, but later decided to go on in their own strength.  The results were predictable—defeat.

Time after time, after God gave both victories and peace, Israel would begin to believe in themselves and trust in their own strength.  Then they would face defeat again and have to repent and restore fellowship with God.  God gave Israel manna and quail not to teach them how to grow manna and trap quail, but to teach them to depend on Him for everything.

Remember the 120 in the Upper Room?  They had to wait until the Holy Spirit came on them in power and then rely on Him everyday in preaching to the ends of the earth.  Their strength was not a requirement; in fact it was an obstacle.  Paul himself says, in speaking to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:4),

4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

It is always better to go in God’s power.  That’s why He tells us in Ephesians 6:10,

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power”

Paul also states in 2 Corinthians 1:7-9:

8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Since even the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength, why would I want to go in my own strength anyway? There is no area of greater reliance on God than in the ministry of healing. In so many areas of ministry, you can ‘wing it’ without it being evident that you lack a reliance of God. Powerful prayers, great-exhortation, erudite preaching can all take place in man’s strength.

However, in healing ministry, it is immediately apparent if we have reached a place of dependence on God or not. When we do, there are healings, when we don’t, a lot of nothing will be happening.

Does this mean that dependence on God always brings healing? Sadly, no. what I mean is that, dependence on Him in he ministry of healing is necessary, but not sufficient. While simple, healing is also quite multifaceted, leading us to remember the scripture in 2 Timothy 2:15 that says:

“study to show yourselves approved of God, a work man who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth”

What this means is that the Word and the Spirit are essential for healing.  The Holy Spirit will always break yokes and heal, but without the Word, we cannot understand fully what He says.  We need to know the Word on Healing.

So, in closing, God teaches us, not become self-sufficient, but to depend on Him even more – on His Word and His Spirit.  No matter how mature we are and how much we know, we must rely on Him more and more in the ministry of miracles.  May we learn to do this.

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