Summary: God is actively at work in our lives accomplishing His purposes.
The Providence of God
Woodlawn Baptist Church
December 29, 2003
Do you believe that God is directly involved in the affairs of man? that He is actively working in the world today? Or better yet, do you believe that God is actively working in your life today? Many believe that He is not. They may believe in God, but so far as His involvement with man is concerned, some people believe that God created the earth and all that is in it, got the ball rolling so to speak, and then stepped back to see what happened. The Bible is clear in its teaching that God is, always has been and will continue to be directly and closely involved in our lives. As Paul was reasoning with the people of Athens in Acts 17, he explained to them that although they didn’t know Him, God was very near to them, and in fact was only as far away as they made Him, for God is ready and willing to be a part of any life that is willing for Him to be so. Then Paul made a statement that I want you to hear. He said,
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being…”
I know you heard me, but I want to say it again: “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” The Scriptures affirm this fact over and over. In Colossians 1 we are told that by Him all things consist. In Hebrews 1:3 we are told that all things are upheld by the power of Christ. If you look at that word upheld, it is the Greek word phero, which means to carry something from one place to the next. In other words, Jesus isn’t just holding everything up, He is continually carrying all things along, actively involved in bringing events to pass so that our lives fulfill His purposes. In Genesis, the Bible tells us that God formed man from the dust of the ground and then breathed into him the breath of life. Job 34:14-15 tell us that if God were to remove His Spirit and His breath from the earth that all life would cease to exist! I don’t know about you, but that tells me God is involved in my life!
Once you and I realize that God is at work in our lives, and that nothing you can do will change that fact, then the question Why? arises. Why is God at work in my life? Generally speaking, the answer to that question is the same for everyone, for God has expressed His purpose for man in His Word. He is at work in the world for one purpose – and that is to glorify and exalt Himself. Everything that happens happens for that reason. I want you to look at Ephesians 1:9-12. Paul said,
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
You see, God’s eternal purpose is to glorify Himself – and because God is sovereign He is going to do what He wants to do. So far as it concerns you and me, God’s purpose is that we “be to the praise of his glory.” God’s purpose for us is that we exalt and glorify Him! Everything that happens, everything He does, everything that occurs in the world happens with that chief end in mind: God working in the world, bringing events to pass, so that everything moves in that one direction – the glorifying of God the Father through God the Son!
Now, I have said that generally speaking, that is God’s purpose for all of mankind. You and I have that one same purpose – but specifically speaking, God’s purposes for each of us can be very different. In other words, even though God is at work in your life and in my life to bring honor and glory to Himself, how He goes about that work in our lives may be very different. Every one of us has been distinctly formed with talents, abilities, personalities, desires, interests and emotions that God uses to accomplish His purposes. You see, think of mankind, or any unit in it: churches, families, nations, or any other group as a box of puzzle pieces. Each piece in the box is shaped with its own individuality and colors, but God takes each piece and fits them all together to form the bigger picture. You and I sitting in the box can’t always see or understand what God is after as He works in our lives, but He has given us something that will help us if we allow it to. When you are working on a puzzle, how many of you throw away the box with the picture on it? When I work a puzzle, I keep the box propped up in front of me so I can see what I am working toward – and I think the Bible does that. It gives us the big picture – the thing that God is after, and while it doesn’t give us the specifics about everything He is doing in our lives, this one thing is still clear – He is actively at work every moment using our actions, our behavior, our decisions, every part of who we are, as individual as we are – to bring glory to Himself! It has been said that God cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do.