The Providence of God

Philippians

Providence – The Invisible Hand Of God

Romans 8.26-30

A baby is born with no developed brain... Only a brain stem. 

The doctors tell the parents that she has no chance of surviving. 

But somehow she lives for eleven years. 

Everyday the parents struggle to take care of her. 

A seemingly healthy twelve-year-old girl develops severe headaches. 

On Friday she is taken to the hospital... Saturday she dies. 

The father reasons... "Why is it that the sunshine of my life is gone."

A man and a woman meet while attending a Bible College... Fall in love... Get married.

Feeling called to the mission field... They end up serving the Lord in a remote stretch of the Amazon in Peru. 

While on a routine flight home... The Peruvian Air Force mistakes them for drug smugglers and shoots their plane out of the sky. 

The mother and an infant daughter die as one of the bullets rips through the cabin. 

A policeman steps into his patrol car... Fastens his seat-belt... Reaches to turn on the ignition... Only to see a man standing outside... Gun in hand.

The young officer is shot several times at point blank range. 

These stories are all true... Some of them happened right here to people we know.

Now... There is a doctrine that helps us understand.

No... The providence of God doesn't answer all of our why questions... But at least it provides a possible foundation for some understanding.  

In English… The word providence has two parts... Pro and video. 

Put together... They literally means... to see before... To see forward.

When applied to the spiritual realm... Providence speaks of… the guidance and protective care… of God... Because he sees tomorrow. 

Webster indicates that providence is... 

1) To see the future... 

2) To make adjustments necessary to accommodate the desired outcome of future events.

Listen to these Scriptures that teach... that God is present... That His power is at work in our life... Working all things out to our betterment...

Lamentations 3.37-38... Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? 

It is from the Most High that both calamities and good things come?

Daniel 2.21 & 4.17 indicate... He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and 

deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. The Most 

High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes and 

sets over them the lowliest of men... No-one can hold back His hand or say to Him... 

What is it You have you done?

Listen to Paul... Romans 8.28... We know that in all things God works for the 

good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Ephesians 3.20... Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we 

ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.

Now to our text in Philippians one... Verse 6... Being confident of this, that he who 

began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of 

Christ Jesus.

Verses 12 & 13... I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has 

really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout 

the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

Verse 19... For I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit 

of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

In this chapter... Paul goes on to say... Whatever happens to me... Good or Bad... Death or Life... It is God's power at work... And that I am the winner because of it.

Indeed... Providence says...

• God upholds all things.

• He governs all events.

• He directs everything to its appointed end.

• He does it always for his own glory... 

• And to our ultimate good.

When it comes to providence… I like what the Westminster Confession of Faith says… God the great Creator of all things… Does... uphold… Direct… Dispose… And govern all creatures… Actions… And things... from the greatest… To the least… By His most wise and holy providence… According to His infallible foreknowledge… And the free and immutable counsel of His own will… To the praise of the glory of His... Wisdom… Power… Justice… Goodness… And mercy.

You see the doctrine of God's providence teaches us two important truths...

First... God cares about the SMALLEST details of life. 

Nothing escapes His notice... He's concerned about the small as well as the GREAT. 

In fact... With God there seems to be no big or small. 

He cares for the birds of the air and the flowers in the field.

He knows when a sparrow falls... He numbers the hairs on our head. 

He steers the course of galaxies in space... Tracks the stars... Guides the flow of rivers. 

He sets the day of our birth our death... And ordains everything that happens in between. 

Second... God's ultimate purpose is to shape us into the image of Jesus.

Romans 8.29 reads... For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, 

Peter indicates that He often even uses difficult moments and human tragedy to accomplish that purpose... Through faith... You are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Church... Listen to these other familiar Scriptures that speak of God's Divine Providence...

Acts 17.28... In Him we live and move and have our being...

Colossians 1.17... By Him all things hold together...

Hebrews 1.3... Sustaining all things by His powerful word...

Proverbs 16.9... In his heart man plans his course... But the Lord determines his steps...

Psalm 115.3... Our God is in heaven... He does whatever pleases Him.

These verses tell us there are no accidents with God... Only incidents... That even seeming senseless tragedies can be used by Him for... Our good... Our benefit... Our betterment.

In the words of R.C. Sproul... God doesn't roll dice... Nothing happens by chance. 

After all what is chance?... Chance is nothing!!... Chance can't cause anything to happen.

Nor can chance work anything out to our benefit... But God can... But God can!!

At this point in our lesson... I want to sound a warning...

I'm concerned that some of us no longer believe that God supernaturally works in our world... And that we should not pray for such workings.

Some contend that God only works through NATURE... And that Providence only has to do with God working through nature and in no other way.

Listen... God is not dead... He didn't retire at the close of the New Testament. 

I want you to note that the Early Church believed in the supernatural providence of God... 

Acts 4.23... 26 & 27 tells us that... 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. LISTEN NOW... They did what your power and will had decided.

God is alive and well... He continues to work in UNEXPLAINABLE ways... In our world... And in the lives of His children.

We are not Deist... Believing that God created the universe and everything in it... But that He is no longer active in world affairs.  

It was Jesus who said in John 5.17... My Father is always at His work... Read it again!!

Church... We would be poor Bible students if we didn't believe that Prayer has and continues to changed history... Biblical History... World History... Church History... My and your History... AMEN??

Next... Let's see what we can learn from providence at work...

Our first illustration comes from Abraham... Genesis chapter twenty-two... He's told to offer his only begotten son to the gods on Mount Moriah.

Isaac is the first to speak... Father... The fire and wood are here.... But where is the lamb?

Abraham answered... God will provide.

We know the rest of the story...

Church... Where did this ram come from that was caught in the thicket?...

How come it appeared to Abraham at the exact knife raising moment?... PROVIDENCE!

God seeing the future and arranging events to bring about His desired results.

No Biblical Narrative speaks of God's foresight anymore than the life of Joseph.

So much so that at the end of his life... When his brothers were fearful for all the ugly things that had happened to him... Joseph said... You meant it for evil... But God meant it for good... Your motives were bad... But God worked it all for good. 

God used their evil to bring about His desired result... The saving of the Abrahamic Family.

God was at work...

• Of all the cisterns in the area... How come this one was not filled with water?...

• Joseph was removed at the right moment... When Midianites were passing by... 

• He was sold to Potiphar... Falsely accused by Potiphar's wife... Landing him in jail...

• At just the time that the... Butler... Baker... Cupbearer... Were imprisoned...

• At the right moment... He interpreted their dreams...

• At the right moment the cupbearer remembered Joseph...

• At just the right time he was promoted to Prime Minister over all Egypt...

• At the right time Joseph's family moved to Egypt.

Jacob's family of 70 plus was saved... Egypt saved... The Israelites prospered... All this done by God's Divine Providence without violating any individual's Free Will... Providence!

Then there was Esther... This Book... Each of the ten chapters… Is filled with providence.

God sees the future and works HIS good out of Haman's evil intentions and behavior.

It was Mordecai who asked the question that each of us must ask ourselves at times... Who knows... You... I... May have been brought to this time and place in God's Kingdom.

Church... 

• Why are we here and not in Heaven?... 

• What is our purpose?...

• Why is God keeping us alive?... 

• What does He want me to do... Before my life is over?

Providence tells us that God has a purpose for our being here... 

Providence tells us God has a ministry for us... Something He wants us to do... Accomplish.

One more... Peter is jailed by Herod... The text in Acts chapter twelve... Tells us that Peter was guarded by four squads of soldiers... As the church prayed for his release... He was being guarded by eight to fourteen Soldiers!... Two of which were chained to him,

Watch now as God's providence goes to work...

• Suddenly an angel appears in the cell.

• Peter is awakened and told to get dressed without any prison officials noticing...

• The iron chains fall from his wrists without waking the two soldiers… 

• Peter and the angel walk through the interior of the prison without being challenged...

• They come to a high iron gate leading to the city... Exit is impossible... But the text says 

that the gate opened of it's own accord... No key... No force... The Greek word for this 

opening is automate... Self-Moved.

Call it what we like...

• Providence?...

• A Miracle?...

• A supernatural event?...

God intervened in the life of one of His children... Taking what appeared to be an ugly event... Turning it into a blessing for Peter and the First Church... PROVIDENCE!

We end our study by noting some benefits of God's Providence...

Providence frees us from Bitterness...

If anyone had a right to become bitter and want to get even... It was Joseph.

But things change when we understand...

• That God's invisible hand is at work in our lives.

• That He is working all things out to our... Good.... Benefit... To our Betterment.

Providence gives us a new perspective on our tragedy.

Here it is church... God is involved with us even in the worst moments of life.

No... We'll not find the answer to... Why did this or that happen.

Most of the time we are only left to wonder why.

• I mean who would dare say to a mother... This is why your child was stillborn... 

• To a grieving family... This is why your loved one died... 

• Or to a father... This is why your daughter was abused. 

Providence doesn't tell us everything we would like to know... But it does assure us that God is there... that He cares for us... and is working in our darkest moments.

I will never leave you... 

I will never forsake you...

So... We can say with confidence...

The Lord is my helper…

I will not be afraid.

Providence gives us courage to keep on going in the Tough times.

Providence doesn't promise us an easy road... Or... A rose-garden existence.

But it does tell us that there's Biblical evidence & Promise that God is designing something good out of what seems to us to be chaos.

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform...

He plants His footsteps in the sea

And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unsearchable mines

Of never-failing skill...

He treasures up His brightest designs

And works His sovereign will.

Providence tells us that prayer is not wishing upon a star.

Scripture teaches that our prayers touch the heart of the Sovereign God.

Church prayers made a difference in Peter's prison release... They will make a difference in our life... James promises...

If you are cheerful... Pray!

Anyone suffering?... Pray!

Anyone sick?... Pray!

Anyone caught up in sin?... Pray!

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

Providence brings blessings out of TRAGEDY.

I gotta tell you… Losing the radio station thirty-five years ago was one of the worst tragedies I could have imagined…

• A thirty year career gone… 

• A mountain of debt that I could not see around… 

• Shame and embarrassment… 

But then.. 

• I would not have known you… 

• This church… 

• And the best thirty-five years of my life.

I've experienced love and understanding in ways that I could have never understood any other way.

That tragedy has become my greatest blessing.

Church... Don't miss the point… The invisible hand of God is at work in our lives... This is Bible

If you are not His child this morning... Consider giving your life to God by... Faith... Repentance... Confessing Jesus... And being born again in New Testament baptism.

If you are His child... Trust in His invisible hand... As we stand and sing!




Written By

Parker Willis

Subscribe


You might also like...

Judges: Part 10
Read more...
Lifeline 10.20.21
Read more...