Living Providentially, Part 2: Failing Smart – Proverbs 20:24, Romans 8:28

failure“A person’s steps are from the Lord; how then can people understand their path?” (Proverbs 20:24,CEB).

“We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, CEB).

According to the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:28, our steps are indeed from the Lord and we can know and understand God’s will and where He is leading us. We can live providentially.

But, when things go bad, we act like it won’t work out. We don’t believe these bad things can be part of the “all” things that work together for good.

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Living Providentially, Part 1: Good Happens – Proverbs 20:24, Romans 8:28

failure“A person’s steps are from the Lord; how then can people understand their path?” (Proverbs 20:24,CEB).

“We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, CEB).

Does Solomon ask a rhetorical question in this proverb? How can we know what will happen to us in life since it is all determined by God?

Or, is he decrying the fact that it is impossible for human beings to know God’s will because we’re not spiritual enough to fully understand God?

Maybe he is simply issuing a challenge: God has a plan for your life, so discover what it is!

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God Is Good! All The Time? – Nahum 1:1-8

God-is-Good-All-the-Time“The Lord is good, a haven in a day of distress. He acknowledges those who take refuge in him. With a rushing flood, he will utterly destroy her place and pursue his enemies into darkness” (Nahum 1:7-8, CEB).

Nahum prophesied during a time when Judah was attempting to gain independence from its Assyrian overlords. His prophecy foretold the destruction of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.

Nahum begins his prophecy on the downfall of Assyria by laying a theological framework describing the character of God. In verse 1 Nahum says God is jealous and vengeful, full of wrath, and rages against His enemies. He says that although God is great in power, God is calculating  and severe when administering justice: “Who can stand before his indignation? Who can confront the heat of his fury?” (vs 6).

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God’s End Game – Lessons from John 6

GodsEndGame“They asked, ‘What must we do in order to accomplish what God requires?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is what God requires, that you believe in him whom God sent'” (John 6:28-29, CEB).

Most Christians are trying to find and do God’s will in their lives. In fact, a lot of our personal prayer and Bible study efforts are focused on knowing and doing God’s will.

As we attempt to find and do God’s will, we have a tendency to gauge whether a thing is God’s will by our circumstances. If things are going our way and we’re successful, then we must be doing God’s will. But if we’re facing difficulties and things aren’t going as planned, then we must be missing God’s will.

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Willing To Do God’s Will – Philippians 2:12-13

Willing“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13, NASB).

Recently I told a friend about an important life decision that I had made, yet I hadn’t received specific guidance from the Lord that this was what I should do. In my heart it just seemed to be the right decision and one that pointed in the same direction as God has been leading me.

My friend then quoted Psalm 37:23 (ESV): “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”

At first I thought that doesn’t seem very spiritual. How can the everyday decisions I make be established by the Lord? After all, I make a lot of bad decisions, too!

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How Not to Accomplish God’s Will – I Samuel 4:1-16

arkofcovenant“The man said to Eli, ‘I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.’ And he said, How did things go, my son?” Then the one who brought the news replied, ‘Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken'” (1 Samuel 4:16-19, NASB).

When the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant from the Israelites, it was the direct result of the presumption of the Israelites that God was on their side no matter what they did or didn’t do.

The ark of the covenant was the visible sign of the presence and power of God. Until this time the ark had been housed in the tabernacle (tent sanctuary) at Shiloh, where it resided since the Israelites entered the promised land (Joshua 18:1). Now, Israel was disastrously defeated by the Philistines and the elders of Israel realized that the defeat was the work of the Lord.

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More Knowledge, Greater Accountability – Deuteronomy 29:29, Luke 12:48

accountability“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.” (Deuteronomy 29:29, NLT)

When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required. (Luke 12:48, NLT )

These two verses, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, present the same biblical principle–personal responsibility. It seems we live in an age when people are reluctant to assume personal responsibility for their own negligence and bad behavior. Or when Christians are reluctant to share the good news of Jesus.

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Whatever You Are, Be a Good One – Ecclesiastes 9:10

passionWhatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NASB).

Whatever you do in life, do it with gusto, do it with enthusiasm, do it with passion! Do the best job you can do, no matter what you are doing! Abraham Lincoln said it like this: “Whatever you are, be a good one!”

And then, do whatever you are doing as if you are doing it for God.

When you become passionate for doing God’s will, for achieving success for God’s kingdom and God’s glory and not just your own, then what you do in life takes on eternal significance and it becomes your God-appointed assignment, God’s will for you. “For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God” (vs. 1).

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Connected to Eternity – Deuteronomy 1:1-21

possess_the_land“See, I have placed the land before you, go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them…See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 1:8,21, NASB).

Most of the book of Deuteronomy consists of speeches made by Moses to the Israelites during the final months of his life and just prior to entering the land of Canaan. This particular admonition to go and possess the promised land, contained notably in the first chapter of Deuteronomy, was repeated twice in the first twenty-one verses.

But, I think it’s also significant because it was not only God’s injunction to the Israelites, but He’s still directing His people in the same way and  with the same provocation today. God implores us to possess the promises He has made to us, to accomplish His plans and purposes for our lives, to achieve our destiny in Him.

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The Long Way to God’s Will – Acts 25:24-25

long-road“Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are here, this is the man whose death is demanded by all the Jews, both here and in Jerusalem. But in my opinion he has done nothing deserving death. However, since he appealed his case to the emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome” (Acts 25:24-25, NLT).

When the Apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, he had a hearing before the Jewish High Council. During his testimony before the Council, they began to argue among themselves and Paul was remanded back to prison in Jerusalem.

While in prison, God spoke to Paul in a vision and told him he must preach the good news of Jesus in Rome: “That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well” (vs. 23:11).

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