God works in the life of his saints to strip away all false sense of power and ability to cope. He drives us to a single-minded dependence upon his providence. He nurtures in us, by experiences and trials, that clarity of mind that, instead of reacting with panic, turns automatically to trust in his care. He demonstrates that he continues to uphold his people as he has in the past, still fulfilling his promises—not that we should expect miracles, like those done by the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles, but that we must by all means know that he never fails to supply our needs and to equip us for his work in this world.
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James McFerrin, J. Randal Matheny, and Karen are discussing. Toggle Comments
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18, NKJV). “Pride” is one word in our English language that is both good and bad. For instance, when one says, “I am proud of my grandchildren because they graduated with honors from high school.” One does not hear this is any negative sort of way. The word “pride” in this proverb means, “an inordinate self-esteem, conceit” (Webster’s 1451). This is perfectly illustrated in the story of Esther, where Haman was so consumed with himself and his defeat of Esther’s guardian, Mordecai, that he failed to see clearly that his plans for the queen’s fatherly figure was actually a trap he laid for himself. P-R-I-D-E equals personal–ridicule toward other individuals wherein one’s personal destruction of ego is forthcoming! How’s that for a definition! However one might try to describe p-r-i-d-e, it will surely lead to a downfall! RT
Loy Pressley is discussing. Toggle Comments
No doubt Joseph felt like his life was going in circles on more than one occasion. Get rewarded, get punished! Get rewarded, get punished! Read Genesis 37:12-36 and all of chapters 39 and 40 and you can definitely see the circular pattern there.
But one thing that Joseph didn’t see, at least until later, was how God was using these “walking in circles” moments in his life to bring him “full circle” before it was all said and done. When speaking to the very betraying brothers who started the whole pattern, Joseph said, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
When we are introduced to Joseph in chapter 37, Joseph has some dreams. Before we leave Joseph in chapter 50, the dreams become a reality. Joseph didn’t get to where he was in relation to his brothers in a straight line, but with the help of God, he made it.
So, the next time you feel like your walk of faith toward Heaven seems to be taking you in circle after circle after circle and you want to quit, remember – there’s a difference in “walking in circles” and “coming full circle.” We just have to wait around long enough to see it played out.
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them,embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them…22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.” (Hebrews 11:13-16, 22)
God is able to work in our lives in ways that are beyond our capabilities to understand. Through providence, God acts in this world to accomplish his will. He is always moving forward with his plans (Revelation 4-5).
When providence is in motion, we cannot see it working around us because God’s worktable is larger than the universe. We just know he is still there for us (Hebrews13:5). We have to trust that he is involved and always good (Hebrews 11:6; Titus 1:2; 1 John 1:5).
We need to step back and consider some important thoughts on providence, so we will not be disappointed and allow Satan to turn us against God.
First, God never promised us that the Christian life would be painless (Matthew 6:34). We will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12) and suffer continual spiritual attacks (1 Peter 5:8). The presence of providence does not negate these facts. He did not take away his Son’s suffering because of God’s overall plan.
When Ralph Hart, of the Southside Church of Christ in Manchester, Tenn. and I were in central Russia in 1999, it seemed the pressure being brought to bear by the Russian Orthodox Church brought more people our way.
This was shortly after the government recognized the Orthodox Church as Russia’s national religion. Russia’s government and the Orthodox Church always shared a rather close relationship, even during the days of the Communist Party.
Police officers came to our room one morning while we were having breakfast and told us our lives had been threatened. But we continued to teach.
Not long after that, the following year I think, the church was planted there in Sosnofka. God be praised for his amazing ways!
If God gives to all men life and breath and all things, he acts with reference to each individual man, to each individual breath that each man breathes, and to each particular thing going to make up all the things which he gives them. Again, if God appoints beforehand the “periods” of the nation, (by which I understand all the great eras in their history,) and the “boundaries of their habitations,” he certainly directs the movements of individual men; for the movements of the nations depend upon the movements of the individual men of whom they are composed. Sometimes, indeed, the movements of one man, as of Christopher Columbus, determine the settlement of continents, and the destiny of mighty nations. In view of these facts, we must admit the most special and minute providence of God in all the affairs of the earth. It would never, perhaps, have been doubted, but for the philosophical difficulty of reconciling it with the free agency of men, and of discriminating between it and the working of miracles. This difficulty, however, affords no rational ground for such a doubt, for the method of God’s agency in human affairs is above human comprehension. To doubt the reality of an assured fact, the nature of which is confessedly above our comprehension, because we know not how to reconcile it with other known facts, is equivalent to confessing our ignorance at one moment, and denying it the next.J.W. McGarvey’s Original Commentary on Acts [pp. 221 — pertaining to Acts 17:22ff]
While enrolled at the Memphis School of Preaching (at the tender, immature young age of 20), it was my privilege to fill in for Garland Elkins from time to time, when he would be out of town preaching meetings. He preached at the Stanton congregation, a small group of about 30 or so, about an hour from Memphis. He would often ask me to fill in for him on Wednesdays. Whoever filled in would just go and preach a sermon, and it was a win-win for both the student and the congregation–they supported the school, so they got to see some of what they were helping to accomplish, and the students got much-needed preaching experience and the privilege of association with some fine brethren.
On one occasion, I left with just enough time to arrive for the start of services (as I was wont to do), and I left with my car’s gas tank sitting virtually on empty (as I was wont to do). I got to the building with about 5 minutes or so to spare (and pretty much no fuel to spare), preached, and spent about 30 minutes or so talking with a few families after services. One man (whose name escapes me now) and his wife were the last to leave, along with me. I said goodbye as he was getting ready to lock up and proceeded to a tiny gas station just a few blocks from the building. I got out, pumped $5 of gas and headed inside to pay. I handed the lady my credit card, only to have my heart sink when she said, “We don’t take credit cards.” I had absolutely no cash (any intelligent person living in Memphis will not carry cash), and I had left my checkbook at my apartment. Furthermore, this was before everyone carried cell phones, so I had no way of calling for help, either. I naively stated to the lady at the counter, “This is all I have…I don’t have any cash or my checkbook,” to which she (rather unsympathetically) replied, “Well…you pumped $5 of gas!”
I remember so well thinking to myself, “What do they do to people who can’t pay for their gas? I can’t just siphon it back out and, even if I did, I barely made it here, so there’s no way I’ll make it home.” In an effort that I can only think now was to buy myself some time, I said, “Let me go check for change in my ashtray,” knowing full well that if I had even a dollar in there, I’d be quite shocked. She said okay, and I headed outside. As I walked, head hung low, toward my car, I nearly ran into the brother who I’d just left. His arm was extended, with a $10 bill in his hand.
I nearly reached out and hugged that man! I asked, “Brother, you are a lifesaver!” I exclaimed. “How did you know?”
“Know what?” he replied.
I explained my situation, and he went on to laugh and tell me that he’d just said to his wife as they were leaving that he appreciated my filling in for bro. Elkins from time to time, and that he felt it would be nice to give me some extra money for gas and, since he saw my car at the station, he thought he’d do just that (having no idea, of course, of the predicament in which I had landed). I thanked him numerous times for saving me and, to this day, I believe it was by the providence of God that this brother happened to arrive at the station that night to rescue me. This is one of many occasions in my life where I have to look back and think, truly, “The Lord has been mindful of me”!
My favorite recorded conversion story is about the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. Here are some of my observations:
1) Through the providence of God, the angel spoke to Philip at just the right time for Philip to go and meet the eunuch at just the right place. This tells me that if an individual is truly seeking to know the gospel, God will provide the circumstances and the means for that to happen.
2) The eunuch had been to Jerusalem to worship, so we know he was a devout religious man. He was returning to his homeland, and had stopped to read out of the scroll which contained Isaiah’s prophecy.
3) We need to note that the Holy Spirit sent a “man” [Philip] to teach the eunuch (Acts 8:31). This account clearly shows that the teaching regarding man receiving direct miraculous “illumination” of the Scriptures from the Holy Spirit is false (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11).
4) The eunuch had a cursory knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, but did not understand who the prophet Isaiah was referring to in Isaiah 53:7-8.
5) It’s interesting to note that in Philip’s teaching, “he began at the same Scripture” (Acts 8:35) – he didn’t go off into left field on some other subject or tangent. He stayed with the gospel pattern of teaching.
6) Philip “preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35) because that was Who the prophet Isaiah was referring to. Preaching Jesus would have necessarily included the core of the gospel – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Philip obviously told the eunuch about being baptized “into Christ’s death” (to effectively appropriate the blood that was shed at Christ’s “death” – Romans 6:3-4), necessitating a “burial” in water, and being raised or “resurrected” [out of the water – Acts 8:39] to walk in newness of life – the act of baptism required for the remission of sins and the putting on of a good conscience before God (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-8; Gal. 3:26-29; 1 Peter 3:21).
7) After the eunuch was taught all of the above, they came to a body of water and the eunuch asked Philip, “what hinders me to be baptized?” Philip responded by telling the eunuch that if he truly believed the inspired words that Philip taught him, he could be baptized for the remission of sins. The eunuch responded by confessing Christ as the Son of God, and thus Philip baptized him. After coming up out of the water, the eunuch went on his way “rejoicing” (Acts 8:38-39) because he was a saved man “in Christ Jesus,” no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1).
In Philip’s teaching, he totally adhered to God’s pattern or plan of salvation. This conversion story illustrates the fact that as we teach others, we must adhere to the same gospel pattern or plan, not deviating from it.
After reading a blog article about a friend’s difficult childhood this afternoon, I started to think of mine. It was unconventional and, at times, volatile yet God was always there. I’ll be forever amazed and thankful for where I was and where He brought me.
My mother had a lot of problems. I wrote about her here:
We have no idea how much God has intervened in our lives through providence. Therefore, we must continually praise Him, because He is always at work!
I have been thinking about freewill lately. Your comment on this will be appreciated. I am not teaching anything here, only thinking aloud. “When a person gets in a car and drives on the highway, everyone on the highway has their own freewill. If God keeps us from having a wreck, does this violate other people’s freewill? If so, does this go against what we know of how God works in this world?”
Providence means that God acts in this world. However, it is complicated to identify its fruit.
Here is an article recently written by my husband, George Jensen:
Our wonderful supporters often ask questions which indicate their genuine concern for our children. It is one thing for Joy and I to make a commitment to live in a third world country, but what about the impact upon our children? These issues have been the subject of many prayers and careful consideration on our part. Some time back Joy authored an article entitled: “Are We Asking Too Much?” . The high spiritual standard we have set for our own children we also expect from any who might be interested in courting our children. One valid question arises: Can we expect to live far from America, have exacting expectations, and expect our children to find a suitable mate?
Having read the title of this entry, you already may know where this is headed. God’s providential workings cannot be fathomed by the human mind (cf. Rom. 11:33). I firmly believed that even with the seeming limitations of living here in Africa, God would not be hindered in answering our many prayers to bless our children with a mate at the appropriate time. Those prayers have been answered for our eldest child, Julia. We thank God for allowing her and us to meet Lee Parish. May we trust God’s willingness to bless us (cf. Rom.8:32).
The most important lesson I’ve learned to date is that God is not only alive, He is active in our lives today. Let me be clear here: I’m not talking about some mystical direct operation of the Holy Spirit, miraculous gifts, or guardian angels walking among us as many today believe. For many years I had a knee-jerk reaction to these scriptural misunderstandings and refused to recognize what could not be explained in any way other than God’s providential care in my life and in that of others close to me. This knee-jerk reaction negatively impacted my faith and thus my prayer life. This realization has brought me so much closer to God and has deepened my faith and ability to trust in God beyond my wildest dreams.
When God wants to make an impact on people’s lives, he usually sends another person. My parents, preachers, and other family influenced me profoundly in my developing years to become a Christian and to pursue ministry as a life. I was baptized by Carl Wills after hearing the preaching of a blind man, Tom Silva. Steve Bracken influenced me to preach the gospel. Many men mentored and blessed my life in those early days, giving me opportunities and showing me methods and techniques.
In all of this I realize that it is God who makes us adequate as His ministers (2 Cor. 3:5). Preachers have always been my heroes, and God uses men to shape other men in this undertaking for eternity. God blessed me with wonderful, godly, and faithful teachers in my university experiences. I am so thankful to them.
At 58 years of age and 40+ years of experience I am still learning and developing in my new ministry. God is opening up great opportunities to grow in His grace and knowledge. And I am thankful for the opportunity to serve.
I so deeply appreciate all the posts I see in TFR. I am learning from you all how to think more like Christ and how to grow in faith. Thank you for being my brethren.
Christ is all and in you all. I can see Him when I read your posts (Eph. 3:17).
I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men (Daniel 4:17,25,32; Daniel 5:21). And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?—Benjamin Franklin, to Colleagues at the Constitutional Convention.