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The Struggle Between Self-Reliance and God Dependence - A Guest Blog

I met Mark Barnard (via a phone call) about 5 years ago (around 2018). Since then I have been observing his work at Blessing Point Ministries. I have been encouraged and inspired as I read about his work. I wanted to introduce you to him through an article he recently wrote. I have used this article with permission.

"The struggle between self-reliance and God dependence has been around for a long time. The human tendency to trust one's (or a group’s or an expert’s) judgment rather than seek God's advice goes back to the Garden of Eden. Eve was the first to lean on human judgment instead of God’s. If only she had uttered a prayer for wisdom before eating the forbidden fruit! How much happier the world would be today!

"Lots of other people in the Old Testament made the same mistake. When they did, it led to painful consequences. The problem still exists. Human initiative and “business experience” dressed up as Divine guidance has waylaid many a church. It is a danger every ministry faces. If they're not careful, churches can fall into an attitude of collective self-reliance (as did Laodicea in Rev. 3), and they become oblivious to their disconnection from their Divine Head (Col. 2:19).

"To demonstrate that replacing God-dependence with self-reliance is no fun for anyone, let's review three times God's people relied on themselves and the devastating results:

"Failure to Seek the Lord. When the cunning Gibeonites tricked Joshua into saving their skin, they claimed to be from a far-off land (Josh. 9). Their clothes were dusty, and their food was crusty. They desired a covenant with Israel because God's blessing on them was apparent, so they claimed. The ruse worked. Joshua "did not ask for the counsel of the LORD." Instead, he trusted his eyes and made a covenant with them. That was something God never intended. To add insult to injury, the congregation took their anger out on Joshua and the other leaders for their self-guided decision.

"The Sin of Presumption. The sin of presumption also got God's people in trouble. When Israel balked at entering Canaan at Kadesh Barnea, the Lord assigned them to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Instead of milk and honey they got sand, serpents, and scorpions. In response to this grievous news, the formerly fearful followers assumed they could make things right by taking up arms and invading the hill country on their own initiative (Num. 14:39-45; Deut. 1:41-46). But the Lord was not with them. They retreated, suffering casualties while hastily retreating. They did not heed Moses' warning, and their presumption proved deadly.

"Relying on Human Resources. Failing to consult the Lord and acting presumptively relates to relying on human resources instead of relying on God. David's sin in taking a census (2 Sam. 24) was an outward expression of his inward failure to see God as his Deliverer. When Joab reported the census results, David knew he had sinned. And the nation paid the price.

"When God's people took matters into their own hands, there were always corporate repercussions. Because Joshua failed to seek the Lord, Israel tolerated idolaters living among them for centuries to come. Those who acted presumptuously at Kadesh Barnea endured a painful defeat that shook the nation. David's census caused a sharp decline in population as 70,000 men lost their lives!

"Based on these examples, should we be shocked when a self-reliant denomination finds itself on a downward trend because of expedient decisions, trusting in human ingenuity, or presumptive plans? Should we be surprised when a church finds itself in an untenable situation because, years earlier, leaders ignored godly voices who cautioned against a pivotal decision?

"Instead of relying on ourselves, consider King Hezekiah's example. Surrounded by an army of invaders, with only a remnant of Jews left in Jerusalem, he spread his situation out before the Lord. As a result, the Lord sent a destroying angel who obliterated the opposing army overnight (2 Kings 19:14-36).

"Rather than joining the ranks of the self-reliant, why not spread your church's situation out before the Lord? Give Him the chance to do something unexpected! Those who lean on self-reliance can only imagine outcomes derived from their limited imaginations. May God grant us the ability to see how vast His resources truly are!"

Excerpted from Getting our HOUSE in Order, a soon to be released book by Mark Barnard. Mark serves with Blessing Point Ministries which works to heal churches with painful histories. Learn more at"

Thanks Mark

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