Archive for the ‘providence’ Category


This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Philippians 1:12-14. What follows is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The gospel advances because of suffering – non-believers hear the gospel and believers are encouraged and strengthened.

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on Acts 16:6-40 as I begin a new series in the book of Philippians. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: In the beginning of the church in Philippi, the sovereignty of God is pervasive and undeniable.

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This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Genesis 1:1, 26-31. I began a short (hopefully) topical series on the topic of God’s Design for Gender and Sexuality. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: God created you (and everything else) in His image, for Himself, and with a purpose.

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One of the most precious, and possibly memorized, passages in all of Scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

The positive command is to trust God, and that with all of our mind, affections, will, and our bodies. In other words, we trust God with everything we are, our whole being. This is the main point of these two verses.

The other side of the coin – the negative command – is not to trust ourselves. The point is that we can either trust (lean on) ourselves or we can trust (lean on) God. In our sinfulness and fallenness, we don’t have all the facts and we don’t know what we don’t know.

The commands of verse 5 are followed by the promise of verse 6. If we acknowledge God as we trust Him, He promises to direct our paths. He’ll give us wisdom if we trust Him rather than ourselves.

In His Word, God gives us a number of negative examples, like Abram. Genesis 12:10-20 records Abram (before God changed his name to Abraham) going to Egypt with his wife Sarai to escape a famine. To keep themselves safe, they came up with a scheme: they’d tell everyone they were brother and sister, not husband and wife. They leaned on their own understanding, didn’t trust God, and didn’t acknowledge Him (until the end). They thought their plan was better. It clearly wasn’t. Abram and Sarai sinned in their lying and deception. Yes, God used it in His providence, but they sinned by not trusting God with their circumstances.

God’s promise remains firm and reliable – He will direct our paths and give us wisdom in any and every situation we face. God’s command remains firm and reliable, too – Trust Him with all your heart, not yourself, and acknowledge Him. We need to look no further than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who exemplified Proverbs 3:5-6, for ourselves and for the church. We trust God for His glory and our good!

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I posted this on Facebook late last night regarding the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States:

I can’t say I wasn’t surprised that Donald Trump won the election, but I’m glad he did. He was my seventeenth choice of the seventeen Republicans, but once he was the official nominee, I supported him. I didn’t, and don’t, defend everything he’s ever done or said – I wouldn’t do that with any fallen and sinful human being. But at this point in our nation’s history, he’s the flawed vessel needed to pump the brakes on the runaway Leftism that is seriously damaging our nation. I hope he does it. He has my prayers, as does Mike Pence. As a nation, we have a lot of problems to work on, and a lot of sins for which to repent. Maybe, just maybe, God has given us mercy in the form of time to do just that. Although the Presidential campaign seemed to last forever, the real work has just begun. I’m especially thankful that, by God’s providence, we live in a country that has non-violent transfers of power.

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Most of the time, we want God to change our circumstances. “Lord,” we pray, “I don’t like this. It hurts. Would you please take it away.” This is a normal reaction because none of us like pain or suffering. But is it the right response?

Think of it this way: What if God said yes and changed your circumstances? On the surface, we would, of course, be ecstatic. The pain and suffering would be gone – a thing of the past. But what happens when the next storm, or dark providence, comes into your life? “Lord, take this away,” and the cycle repeats.

That cycle can be interrupted by realizing that the best thing that could happen is not God changing our circumstances, but rather God changing us. Here’s something we need to remember: God brings these circumstances – this pain, this suffering – to change us, to mature us, and to grow us up. James says, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).  Or consider Paul’s statement in Romans 8:28-29: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. 

It’s entirely possible for us to have our circumstances changed while we remain entirely unchanged. To paraphrase John Piper, “Don’t waste your pain.” God’s plan is to use our circumstances to make us more like Christ, and to achieve that end, our best response is to ask Him to change us for His glory and our good.

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When things don’t go the way we want them to in our lives, what is our response? Even as Christians, we question God’s plan (“Why isn’t God giving me what I asked for?” intimating that maybe, just maybe, He doesn’t know what He’s doing); question God’s goodness (“Maybe He isn’t who the Bible says He is,” or “If God was really good…”); and sometimes question His existence.

The problem, at its core, is we think God exists to make us happy. We have an image of what we think our life should look like: a nice family to grow up in, a good school to attend, a great job with unbelievable pay and benefits, a spouse we’ve always dreamed of, children who are both obedient and brilliant, a home that could be featured in House Beautiful, vacations to the most exotic places, no sickness or disease, and the list goes on. If those things, which obviously differ from person to person, don’t come to pass (for ourselves or others) we tend to blame God. We think He didn’t come through, or that He doesn’t love us or care about us, or maybe all of those things we’ve been taught about Him aren’t really true. As a result, we create an idol in our own image and call it “God.” We are sinful to the core, which this devolution of thinking proves.

The truth of the matter is that God’s “job,” if you will, is to make us – His people – holy. Paul tells the church in Rome, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:28-29). God causes all things to work together for good for His people. For what purpose? “To become conformed to the image of His Son.”  Therefore, God’s job is to make us like Jesus – who is holy – and He’ll use everything in our lives to accomplish that purpose.

Our image of what should happen in our own lives, or the lives of others, may not accomplish God’s good purpose for us – our holiness. The sovereign and loving God will do what is best for us. We can count on it!

God’s job is to make us holy, and in holiness we find our happiness.

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