Summary: Ezra had confidence in God’s providence. When you see God’s providential hand of control it takes away your worries and fears and it gives you joy and peace and assurance. When you see God in control it gives you boldness and confidence to do the things H

1. Our history has been providentially guided by God

2. Our life’s journey is providentially guarded by God

3. Our mission is providentially given by God

Sam was a very dedicated pastor. But, like many who follow God’s call into the ministry, there were people who didn’t like Pastor Sam. There were even people in his own church who had sworn to be his enemies. But Pastor Sam had a tremendous sense of God’s providence. He had a tremendous sense that God was in control of everything. Even in the midst of dealing with difficult people, Pastor Sam was OK. He was OK because he knew that God was in control. No matter what his enemies tried to throw at him, they couldn’t rattle him. Things got so bad that one of his church members even set fire to the parsonage to try and discourage him. The terrible thing was, one of Pastor Sam’s eight children was trapped in a room upstairs. As the fire raged, some neighbors came to his aid. One neighbor stood on the other’s shoulders and pulled the scared little boy out of the window. Within seconds, the roof collapsed. Pastor Sam had come within seconds of losing his little 5-year old boy. When the little boy was safe, Sam gathered the neighbors and said, “Come neighbors, let us kneel down. Let us give thanks to God. He has given me all my eight children. Let the house go. I am rich enough.” Pastor Sam continued to labor at that church for 40 years with very little to show for it. Very little to show for it except for the boy who was, as he referred to it in the words of Amos 4:11, “a brand plucked out of the fire.” A boy by the name of John Wesley. Under the providential hand of God, the boy that was saved that night grew up to be one of the greatest evangelists ever. God’s providential hand guided the lives of Samuel and John Wesley. His providential hand guarded the lives of Samuel and John Wesley. And God’s providential hand gave John Wesley a ministry to millions. And gave that same ministry to Samuel through the life of his son. Things happen in each and every one of our lives that we can’t understand. I don’t understand why I have friends who treat their bodies like garbage, but are in perfect health. While at the same time I have a friend who seemed to be the poster boy for Men’s Health Magazine. He died a few weeks ago of a massive heart attack in his mid-forties. In the immortal words of Charlie Daniels, there’s some things in this world you just can’t explain. It’s hard to see the big picture when you’re living life close up, isn’t it? But God doesn’t always call us to see the big picture. God calls us to live our lives in the close up and trust Him for the big picture. As Samuel Wesley was watching all his worldly possessions burn up in front of him… as he helplessly heard the cries and screams of his five-year old boy… do you think he thought, “well, everything’s going to be OK, because little John is going to grow up to be used of God for the salvation of millions?” Of course not. I’m sure he thought about very little else but saving his boy. But when John was safe, Samuel recognized God’s providence. He recognized the fact that God was in control—even in the fire. And because of that he was able to go back and serve as a pastor to those people who had nearly killed his child. Do you see how powerful it can be to recognize God’s sovereign providence? When you see God as in control, it takes away your worries. When you see God in control, it takes away your fears. When you see God as in control, it gives you joy and peace and assurance. When you see God as in control, it gives you boldness and confidence to do the things He’s called you to do. One thing you’ll notice about our passage tonight is that Ezra had confidence in God’s providence. Two times in this short passage and many times throughout the book, he says, “God’s hand was upon him.” Do you see God’s hand on your life? Do you see it on all of your life or only the good times? That’s what I want for us tonight. I want us to see God’s hand of providence on our lives. I want us to feel the security and peace that only comes from knowing that the One who knows the end from the beginning is providentially in control. In order to do that, we’re going to look in this passage at how Ezra announced his arrival on the scene. When he announced his arrival on the scene, he showed God’s providence in three areas of his life. We have those same three areas in our lives today. The first area is that our history has been providentially guided by God. Look at verses 1-6:

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