Thursday, April 29, 2010

Providence and Sovereignty

This past Sunday I was given a slip of paper with the question: “In the next few months, what will be coming up in the life of you or your family?” Most of us would not hesitate to jump right in and expound on our plans for the future. But a question like this should be answered with hesitancy and give us pause to reflect on the God whom we serve and our perception of how He operates in our lives.

First and foremost, God is absolutely sovereign and within His sovereignty is His providence. Sovereignty is the free exercise of God’s will and authority over all things. Providence is God’s active, continual involvement in guiding all people, events, and circumstances, whether good or evil, toward their divinely appointed ends. Following are three scriptures that are personal favorites of mine and that I have had to make application of many times:

Prov 16:9- A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Prov 19:21- There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel; that will stand

James 5:14-15- whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with planning. There is wisdom in planning. I myself am the chief of all planners. And my plans have been thwarted many times. We should not be surprised, or even discouraged, when our Sovereign God, in His providential care for us, comes in and “interferes” in our lives for our own good and for His good will and purposes. When our plans do not come to fruition, many times because of trials and tribulation, we should not get upset but be thankful to God that He providentially cares for us enough to intervene and direct our steps.

Calvin gives great advice concerning the providence of God:

Gratitude of mind for the favorable outcome of things, patience in adversity and also incredible freedom from worry about the future all necessarily follow upon this knowledge. Therefore, whatever shall happen prosperously and according to the desire of his heart, God’s servant will attribute wholly to God, whether he feels God’s beneficence through the ministry of men, or has been helped by inanimate creatures. For thus he will reason in his mind: surely it is the Lord who has inclined their hearts to me, who has so bound them to me that they should become the instruments of his kindness.

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