Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not By Chance, Chapter 5: Governing Providence: A Case Study

This fifth chapter of the excellent book Not By Chance moves on to the topic of governing providence. Here is the definition again:

God guides and governs all events, including the free acts of men and their external circumstances, and directs all things to their appointed ends for His glory.
It is important to note that God does not initiate or cause all events. He does not force or even tempt men to sin; He does not lie; He cannot deny Himself.

The story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50 is used as the basis for a lengthy list of lessons we can learn about God's governing providence. Here are several from Chapter 37 alone:

God, in His providence, blesses, exalts, and uses whom He will (p. 65). “God is always right and God is always good”…regardless of our perception.

God, in His providence, allows and uses the anger and hatred of people to accomplish His purposes (p. 66)

God’s providence incorporates the faithfulness and obedience of His children (p. 69). We must still be obedient; we can’t be “lackadaisical or fatalistic.”

God’s providence often encompasses human aid (p. 70). Isn’t it nice to know that God can, and often does, use what we see as “chance encounters”?

God, in His providence, restrains evil plans and intentions that do not serve His purposes (p. 71)

God, in His providence, may allow the failure of good intentions (p. 71)

God’s providence encompasses apparent coincidences (p. 71)

God, in His providence, may allow us to be betrayed and cruelly sinned against (p. 72)

Here are several from subsequent chapters:

God, in His providence, may allow us to be falsely accused and unjustly maligned (p. 74). Note Joseph’s response when thrown in prison (Gen. 39:21-23)

God, in His providence, gives us favor with those of His choosing (p. 75)

God, in His providence, gifts us to minister to others (p. 75)

God, in His providence, allows our suffering to be prolonged, our gifts and abilities to go unnoticed, our deeds to be forgotten, sometimes for a long time (p. 76)

God, in His providence, causes us to be remembered and recognized in His timing, and lifts us to minister to others (p. 76)

God, in His providence, employs natural phenomena to effect His purposes in people’s hearts (p. 79)

God, in His providence, may allow His own people to suffer need (p. 81)

God, in His providence, causes us to face the consequences of our sins and actions (p. 81)

God, in His providence, can effect a total transformation of character, though it be years later (p. 81)

The conclusion of the story of Joseph (although we call it a story, keep in mind that it really, factually happened) is summarized in Genesis 45:5-8 and 50:20. It was indeed the plan of God for Joseph to be enslaved, lied about, mistreated, imprisoned, and forgotten—so that he could be in the place that God wanted him to be years later, able to provide for his family (and several countries) and keep them from starvation.

How do we respond when we are faced with betrayal, deception, accusations, etc.?

How do we respond when we are unfairly treated, unjustly maligned, wrongly accused, or forgotten?

Do we respond as Christ did when He was accused, tried, and crucified?

Do we look up trials and afflictions as light and momentary?

Do we measure present problems by eternal standards?

For Previous Chapters:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

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