Introduction

  1. Text: Eph. 3:20,21.
  2. God’s “providence” is the fulfilling of His promise to “provide” for us.
  3. In accomplishing His purposes, much of what God does is beyond our knowledge or comprehension.
    1. But we can be encouraged by God’s promises without knowing how His providence works. (I don’t need to know how my cell phone works in order to benefit from its use.)
    2. It is enough to know that God is active in the world — and that all will be well in the end.
  4. If we couldn’t be sure that God will provide, we would bog down in uncertainty, helplessness, and fear — but trusting God’s goodness and His power to govern the world, we’re able to take the steps that lie before us each day.
  5. Between now and eternity, the path may take many unexpected turns, but it is enough to know that God is waiting for us at the end — and in the meantime He will provide.
  6. Consider four areas where God’s providence makes a difference.

I. Our Work in the Lord

  1. All of us are involved in the Lord’s work in one way or another – 1 Cor. 12:14-20.
    1. We should have no higher priority than to serve faithfully in the work that is ours to do, whatever that may be.
    2. But questions plague us . . . Will I be able to do what is expected? What if my abilities are too small to meet the need? What if the responsibility is greater than I can bear? Will the nature of my responsibilities change in the future?
  2. Paul would have had the same questions that we do, but his confidence was exactly what it should have been: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
  3. We will never be faced with an impossible task in the Lord’s work — whatever He expects us to do, He will enable us to do.
  4. We may not know how and when He will do so, but our trust in His providence keeps us working . . . one day at a time.

II. Problems

  1. In this world — broken as it is by sin — problems come in many shapes and sizes.
    1. On an average day, we spend much of our time doing things that wouldn’t need to be done in a problem-free world.
    2. Some of our problems are trivial — but some are of great consequence.
    3. Many words describe what we have to deal with: difficulties, troubles, dilemmas, complications, sorrows, pains, heartaches, obstacles, temptations, persecutions, etc. Cf. “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
  2. We have only two basic choices: (1) bury our heads in the sand and pretend the world is in better shape than it is, or (2) deal with the brokenness of the world honestly.
  3. But if we choose to deal with it honestly, how can we keep from being overwhelmed with despair?
    1. Individually, we don’t have what it would take to solve these problems, and if we’re realistic, we have to admit that the human race is not solving these problems either.
    2. For every step forward, we create several new problems. All things considered, the world is getting worse.
  4. But, as the song says, “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet” — this is our Father’s world, and He is guiding it toward a conclusion that will be the fulfillment of His love and wisdom. Cf. Jn. 16:33.
    1. Based on His proven trustworthiness in the past, we trust that what He is doing will overcome the threat of His adversary, Satan, and solve every problem that has ever arisen.
    2. If we are found in Christ at the resurrection, we will see that our personal problems were solved along with the problems of the world around us.
  5. This is our confidence and our hope — this is how we face our problems.

III. Uncertainties

  1. Most of us demand a good deal more predictability from life than God ever promised we would have.
  2. We want to know what tomorrow will be like, but all that we have is today — Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mt. 6:34).
  3. The thing that we call “worry” is usually nothing more than the fear of what might happen.
    1. When there is uncertainty, there is fear — fear that what is going to happen might be painful, unpleasant, or difficult.
    2. But God’s answer to our fears is not to tell us what is going to happen — He simply promises to provide.
    3. It is our trust in the providence of God that takes the worry out of our uncertainties.

IV. Prayer

  1. All of this should make a difference in the way we pray.
  2. As I grow older, I find myself making fewer specific requests and more often simply praying that God will do whatever is best.
    1. As our Father, God certainly wants us to make our heartfelt requests to Him – Phil. 4:6.
    2. It is a wondrous thing that, at times, He yields to our requests and says, “Yes, My child, I will grant your request.”
    3. But more often, I am learning to pray, “Father, I might have my preferences about what will happen, but more than that I simply want you to be glorified. My prayer is that You will intervene in the situation that I am praying about, and overrule the sinful designs of your adversary, Satan. I will give thanks for whatever outcome You deem is best.”
  3. This keeps me doing what I can in the Lord’s work, it helps me put this world’s problems into a larger perspective, it releases me from worrying about the uncertainties of tomorrow, and it makes a huge difference in the way I pray.

Conclusion

  1. The bedrock foundation of our faith is that God is both good and all-powerful — He will provide whatever we truly need.
  2. “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24,25).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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