Pastor Cosand: January 2019
THE MYSTERY OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE
God's holy governing of all things
We love to quote Romans 8:28, especially when we are in trouble or in pain. Some manuscripts read "For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God" and other manuscripts read "For we know that God causes all things to work together for good . . . ." In either case, the idea is the same. The promise is that for believers, every event in life is part of a divine plan which ultimately results in that which is good. But it is one thing to say with our heads that this is true and quite another thing to respond deep in our hearts to rest in its truth.
God rules in His universe by His providence. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines God's providence as "His holy, wise, powerful activity by which He preserves and governs every creature and every action." That does not mean that human beings are like machines responding as if they are somehow programmed. The great mystery of providence is that while still allowing the liberty of choice, God governs the outcome of 'every action' so that His holy designs are all brought to their appointed ends. There are many statements in the Bible declaring God's sovereign rule:
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens;
And His kingdom rules over all. Psa 103:19
[God] works all things after the counsel of His will. Eph 1:11
. . . the Most High rules the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will. Dan 4:25
. . . not one of them [sparrows] will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Mt 10:29
But our God is in the heavens;
He does all that He pleases. Psa 115:3
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Prov 16:9
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Prov 19:21
God's providential rule even governs the outcome of sinful acts, as in the case of the treachery of Joseph's brothers or Judas' betrayal of Jesus. "The wishes of sin are the wishes of man. Man is guilty; man is to be blamed. But the all-wise God prevents those wishes from producing actions indiscriminately. He compels those wishes to take a certain Divinely narrowed course. The floods of iniquity are from the hearts of men, but they are not allowed to cover the land. They are shut up to the channels of God’s sovereign appointment and men, unwittingly, are held in bounds, so that not one iota of God’s purpose shall fail. He brings the floods of the ungodly into the channel of His providence to turn the mill of His purpose" (Percy Heward in Definitions of Doctrine, by Claude Cole, 157).
The question often is 'Why does He allow, and within His design, pain and sorrow?' Though the Bible does not answer every question regarding this that we might have, there are some answers given in the Scriptures.
God brings painful experiences … to do a greater thing later, like in the life of Joseph (Gen 50:20); to bring salvation to someone, like through Paul's blindness (Acts 9:1-19); to bring repentance over some sin, like in Miriam's leprosy (Num 12:9-15); to produce an opportunity for the gospel to be preached, like in Paul's imprisonment (Phil 1:12,13); to bring honor to His own name, like in Peter's death (probably a crucifixion - Jn 21:18,19).
Every event in our lives has purpose in His providence and the purpose is always good, though not always pleasant nor comfortable. If through sorrow or pain God is disciplining us or teaching us as His children, that is a good thing. If He is bringing honor to His name by some heartache in our lives, like in the case of Job, that is a good thing. We are the children of a Father who governs everything, and that means that everything that comes to our lives comes to us out of His love for us … everything. We must come to trust that in a fallen world, God knows best how to govern all things for His wise and holy purposes. Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), the great English pastor, summed up this point well: "Had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you find yourself, divine love would have placed you there."
Trusting God's holy hand,
Joseph A. Teisan - January 2019
HOW DID GOD SAVE JERUSALEM FROM THE ASSYRIANS?
(2 Kings 19:32-35)
The Assyrian king, Sennacherib, surrounded Jerusalem with a mighty army and demanded surrender of the city. His officers told Hezekiah, King of Judah, that no power could stand against the might of the Assyrian army (2 Kg. 18:33-35). They made fun of the Lord God. Hezekiah prayed and asked God to save Jerusalem (2 Kg. 19:14-19). That night, God destroyed the whole Assyrian army with a miracle that showed His unlimited power. “And it came to pass that night that the angel of the Lord went out and slew in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000; and when men arose early in the morning, behold they were all dead bodies” (2 Kg. 19:35).
The following poem by George Gordon (Lord Byron), gives a well-painted picture of how God’s miracle may have taken place around 700 B.C., outside the walls of Jerusalem. Does the poet show a high view of the sovereignty of God?
THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB
By LORD BYRON (GEORGE GORDON)
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
Joseph A. Teisan
(1931 – 2018)
Pastor Cosand: November 2018
GOD'S OWN KINGDOM
meditation on Daniel 2
Daniel chapter 2 is an amazing chapter, written 600 years before Christ. This passage reveals, in some detail, the three empires which would follow the vast Babylonian Empire. This historical overview of human history is a repeated theme in the book of Daniel as this book holds up for us the glorious sovereign rule over the affairs of men and over the very movement of the history of mankind. King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream. It was disturbing because he did not know what it meant.
In his dream he saw a giant statue of a man. The head of the statue was gold, the chest and arms were silver, the belly and thighs were bronze, the lower legs were iron, and the feet were a mixture of iron and clay. A mysterious stone, cut without hands, appeared and crushed the statue on its feet and the rest of the statue became like chaff from the threshing floor, which the wind carried away. Not a trace of the statue was found, but the stone became a great mountain and filled the earth.
Joe Teisan: November 2018
Romans 10:1-21: Have you made the Big Decision? “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (10:9).
1-5: Paul prays with all his heart for the salvation of Israel. The Jews have a zeal for God, but without knowledge. God’s Way, is to come to Him by faith in Christ (Jn. 14:6). Jews and many others insist on coming on their own terms, their own way, with works, “keeping the Law”, and trusting in human traditions. “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God” (3). Moses demands of habitual sinners, the impossible, keep the Law and you shall live (Lev. 18:5). “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). I keep the Law in Christ who kept it for me as my Substitute. He fulfilled all the Law’s requirements and gives me the righteousness that Law can never give.
6-13: The goal of law is to bring guilty sinners to Christ so we can believe in Him, be set free from the penalty of sin and declared holy (Gal. 3:24, 3:10-13). Jesus is near, here and now. Just open your mouth and say from the heart, “Christ, I trust in You as my Personal Savior!” The lips of my soul are saying, “Jesus is my Lord, Savior and God! A key passage for leading people to Christ is Rom. 10:9-13. “With the heart man believes . . . and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation . . . Whoever believes in Him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek . . . For every one who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”