Sermon Illustrations

A letter written by seminary professor, Dr. R. Scott Clark who teaches at Westminster Seminary California:

“Ironically, I warned the students in the doctrine of God class Wednesday and Thursday of last week that they must preach and teach the doctrine of providence to their people before their parishioners become ill or suffer in other ways. When folk are suffering is not the time to try to teach them the doctrine of providence. We need to develop the conviction that health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed all things come not by chance, but by his fatherly hand. We need this truth to gain perspective on suffering.

Sunday rolled around. We have a lovely day with the most hospitable George and Paula Barton. As we entered Escondido from the west we noticed a disturbingly large plume of smoke rising from the northeast corner of Escondido or from SE Valley Center. The rest, as they say, is history.

There is no question that whatever happens is under the control of the providence of God.

It’s appropriate to say "thanks" to those who have been praying for us in So Cal and at WSC in particular because we do not simply confess that God is sovereign and that all things are under his control but we also confess that God works through means. One of the most important means through which he accomplishes his purposes is prayer. For Christ’s sake alone he is pleased to hear our prayers and he answers them according to his perfect wisdom and righteousness.

In any case, his ways are inscrutable. They are beyond our knowing and he will glorify himself in all everything he does, even if it isn’t immediately apparent to us how a given providence and God’s glory are connected. We may never know.

If you are dealing with a hard providence right now or in the future, fix your eyes on Christ. If you’re tempted to shake your fist at your heavenly Father because he has not ordered things to your liking, consider his Son whom he gave up for sinners, whom he gave up for you. He sent his Son into the fury and maelstrom of human sin and wrath with God to propitiate the wrath of God for all his people. God himself is no stranger himself to hard providences and our Savior entered history knowing what that hard providence would be. You and I face them as they arise, but our Savior lived his whole life knowing what was to come.

His Father heard his righteous prayer and he hears our prayers in our righteous Mediator Jesus.

Over the last week we’ve had a mild foretaste of what divine wrath might look like. We should be chastened and we are certainly reminded of our finitude, sins, and mortality. We are also reminded of the mercy of our Father who does not give to us what we deserve but who is patient with his children and gives them grace -- which they manifestly do not deserve.

We are unusually ready for the Sabbath”.