Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Providence of God The greatest comfort in this world

More sermon notes.


Ps. 62:11-2 One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are
strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done.

Ps. 62 is a psalm of David.
David up against it and near to falling
Ps. 62:3 How long will you assault a man? Would all of you throw him down-- this
leaning wall, this tottering fence? Ps. 62:4
They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; He is the king but uneasy lies
the head... Surrounded by lying, deceitful people
Ps. 62:4 they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their
hearts they curse.
So can he put his trust in people, no. People are not to be trusted
Ps. 62:9 Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a
balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath.
The king may be rich but does he put trust in wealth to protect him? No.
Ps. 62:10 Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your
riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
So if you are up against great difficulties, adverse circumstances, and people or
possessions are no help, what do you do?
Ps. 62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
Ps. 62:2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be
shaken.
The leaning fence finds stability on the rock. David is a rickety fence. God is a
castle fortress in whom he can be safe.
He encourages himself to trust in this God who alone gives hope for the future
Ps. 62:5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
God gives him confidence that he will not fall
Ps. 62:6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be
shaken.
He has confidence, not from self but from God.
I am amazes at the faith of the atheist, faith in self to survive, but my future
depends on God
Ps. 62:7 My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
I can run to the rock and be safe.
Prov. 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and
are safe.
He trusts and encourages others to trust whatever their situation.
Ps. 62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for
God is our refuge.
Ps. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
What is it about God that gives David this confidence?
Ps. 62:11,12 One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God,
are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Our God is strong, our God is loving.
This is the providence of God.
The Heidelberg catechism defines it like this
27. Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?

A. God's providence is His almighty and ever present power,[ whereby, as
with His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and
so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren
years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty,[3] indeed,
all things, come not by chance[4] but by His fatherly hand.[5]

We have a loving Heavenly father who rules and controls the world he has made for
the purposes of his glory and our good. Our world is not ruled by evil or by chance
but by our powerful, loving Father in heaven

Where do we best learn that God is strong, loving and in control?
At the cross, the death of the son of God.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The death of Jesus on the cross was no accident, no tragedy, but God's great plan
for our salvation.
This is what Peter and John confessed
Acts 4:27 -28 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and
the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom
you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
Men plotted to do evil but God meant it for good. God is so in control that he can
use the acts of evil men to accomplish his purposes.
Were these men forced? Was Judas compelled to betray? No. They act as responsible
agents but God is controlling it all for his purposes.
Men may plot evil. God uses it for his salvation.
Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery to be rid of him. They intended evil. What
did God intend? Joseph told his brothers
Gen. 45:5 -7 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for
selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For
two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there
will not be ploughing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a
remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Gen. 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish
what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Only a mighty sovereign loving God, who controls all his creation can do this, and
do it without violating the wills of people who remain responsible for their actions.

God is in control and man is responsible
Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.
This is the last phrase of our Psalm. it teaches human responsibility as well as
divine sovereignty. God is strong, loving and in control, yet we are responsible
for what we do. We will be held to account. no-one can say I sinned because God made
me do it.
Judas betrayed Jesus for the money. For 30 pieces of silver. Did God make him do it?
No, but God overruled and used the greed of Judas for our salvation. Judas knew he
was responsible. That is why he hanged himself.

We find it impossible to reconcile these two things that the Scriptures teach,
divine sovereignty and human responsibility. We do not have to reconcile them We
only have to believe them both for our comfort and our good because God tells us
both are true.
The best illustration is in Paul's shipwreck.
Acts 27:22 -25 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you
will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose
I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, Do not be afraid, Paul. You must
stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail
with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen
just as he told me.
Take courage for God is in control for our salvation

Acts 27:30-31 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat
down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow.
Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay with the
ship, you cannot be saved."

God will save but he will do it through the skill of the crew. God who orders what
will happen also orders that it will happen through responsible human action.
So you see this is no fatalism. It does not say. ke sira sira whatever will be will
be. It trusts God and acts. It doesn't say God will save people without our help.
It
says God will save people when we pray and preach the gospel for these are the means
he will use to accomplish his purposes.

Our God is strong, loving and in control. We are to trust him no matter what. this
is the trial of faith. Will we trust in God, in his promises, his word, his salvation
when things go well or will we neglect him?
When things go badly will we complain why this has happened to us or will we trust
in the loving providence of God?
We live in a fallen world which is in rebellion against God. Things go wrong. Big
things, little things. Is your hope and confidence in God alone?

How does this teaching help us?
28. Q. What does it benefit us to know that God has created all things and
still upholds them by His providence?

A. We can be patient in adversity,[1] thankful in prosperity,[2] and with a
view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and
Father that no creature shall separate us from His love;[3] for all
creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so
much as move.

patient in adversity
Job 1:21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
James 1:3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Ps. 55:22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let
the righteous fall.
Rom. 5:3 -5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know
that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope
. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our
hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

thankful in prosperity
1Ths. 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in
Christ Jesus.
with a view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and
Father that no creature shall separate us from His love;
Rom. 8:38 -39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor
demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor
depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love o
f God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

for all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so
much as move.
Prov. 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
Matt. 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall
to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
Job 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your
hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the
presence of the LORD.
God is in charge, not Satan
Prov. 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a
watercourse wherever he pleases.
No matter who wins the general election, God is in charge.

"A firm faith in the universal providence of God is the solution of all earthly
troubles." b.b.warfield

Do you know this God as your loving heavenly father? Come to him now through his
Son.

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