Friday, March 7, 2008
What is Divine Providence?
First of all let me say that nothing in life happens by accident. There are no big bang theories at work in our lives. The Lord is an intelligent being that not only has a plan for mankind but plans for each individual. We are God’s creation and we are not cosmic accidents that go through life depending on luck and chance. God touches every aspect of our life. He is a God of reconciliation. The Lord’s number one concern is moving us into a loving relationship with Him. God is not some aloof character in the heavens. God is our father that wants certain things from us: 1. Our worship 2. Our love 3. A relationship with Him. I believe our every step is ordered by the Lord. He even takes our mistakes and uses them to our advantage. He chastens us when we need it and he leads even when we don't realize it.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. (Psalm 37)
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. (Psalm 139)
11 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
13 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. (Psalm 27)
The Lord is definitely interested in our activities. He wants to lead and guide us in His ways. Some of us grew up in horrible environments, some with a silver spoon. It is the Lord that determines the final outcome. His brothers abused Joseph. Falsely accused and imprisoned. Yet in the final analysis God said the brother did it for evil, but God allowed it for a greater good. Joseph was the reason his family (Israel) was able to survive a famine.
We often question God’s goodness when suffering or trial takes place but we must understand something I call “The Greater Good”. Often blessings come as a result of someone else’s sacrifice. In Hebrews 11 the “Hall of Faith” list those that endured plenty of hardship for Israel and the future church age.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
16 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. (Heb.11)
Notice the fact that Abraham was tried. Abraham was handpicked by God to be the Father of a Nation. With any movement or action someone must be the forerunner or leader. It is 1999 and African-Americans take for granted that they could vote, go to any college, and ride on the front of the bus. The truth of the matter is many Black men and women died and suffered so we could have these rights. Just praying that everything would change was not enough, there had to be some action as well. Remember faith should cause works to be birthed in each of us. Name it and claim it is not really scripturally accurate. God is not a cosmic ATM machine. He is a being with feelings and concerns for our lives and well being. He wants us to communicate our thoughts and feelings to Him not just quote some verses
And demand His attention.
19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.
20 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. (Lev.26)
Notice how it says God will break the pride of their power. Sometimes we are full of selfish motivation and our own self will. God will intervene in our lives to turn us in the right direction. This often comes in the form of chastening. The bottom line is this if your walk is contrary to your talk you will get some hands on discipline from God.
16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
17 That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. (Job 33)
Our purpose must be hid in His; we are the sheep of His pasture. We have to seek His will for our lives. The Lord will unfold His will as we open our hearts to Him and renew our minds in His Word. God even operates through the lives of non-believers. I call this divine providence or in some cases divine intervention. I’ll give you an example. I was activated for Operation Desert Storm 1 month after the bombing of Baghdad. I was sent to Loring AFB, Me. I stayed there for about 30 days. I was supposed to stay there 6 months. Through some treachery by my superiors my assignment got changed and I was sent to the border of Syria in Turkey. I was angry and upset because I felt like the enemy won. Why did I have to be away from my new wife for 4 ½ months? I’ll tell you why, there were 2 Moslems the Lord wanted me to lead to Him. God has plans for our lives. He allowed a lie to be told in order for my assignment to be changed. The souls of those two Turks were more important than my being home in New Jersey.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?(Romans 8)
Chaplain Mark H. Stevens, M.Min