A Little Time With The 1689: Day 86

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Day 86

Of Divine Providence

Chapter 5, Paragraph 2.

... yet by the same Providence he ordered them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

Scripture Lookup

Genesis 8:22.

Reflection

Knowing that God has decreed all things, and that He upholds, directs, disposes and governs all things by providence, it is important to make some clarifications. While God’s decree is the first cause by which all things come to pass, He uses second causes to enact His providence. Thus while God may decree that you will receive a sunburn, He uses the sun’s light to hit your skin in order for the sunburn to happen.

God orders all things to fall out either necessarily, freely, or contingently. There are physical laws that usually produce the same result. If you throw an apple up, it will necessarily come back down. We freely choose to throw that apple, although it is part of God’s providence. And the growth of that apple is contingent upon it receiving enough light, food, and water. All those things happen as a result of God’s providence.

How does this affect us? While God has decreed all that comes to pass, we are not to sit back and let life pass us by. As Christians we are charged with obeying His commands, all the while trusting that God will use us to fulfill His purposes. One great example is in sharing the Gospel. While God causes the growth, He uses second causes to do so:

How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?….So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. -Romans 10:14,15,17

May God use us by His providence to bring glory to Him!

Questions to Consider

  • What second causes has the Lord used in your life?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 85

fullsizeoutput_2332Day 85

Of Divine Providence

Chapter 5, Paragraph 2.

... so that there is not anything befalls any by chance, or without His providence;…”

Scripture Lookup

Proverbs 16:33.

Reflection

“Befalls” is a word not often used in common conversation. You may recognize it from the hymn “Be Thou My vision”: “Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, still be my vision, O Ruler of all.”  Another hymn also uses the word befall: “For I know whate’er befall me Jesus doeth all things well.”

Befall means “to happen”. As the Confession keeps reminding us, there is nothing that happens to anyone without God’s providence. This can be difficult to acknowledge. So quick are we to proclaim that we’re “#blessed” when all is well according to our standards. How about when you’re troubled? When the future does not seem so certain? Are we willing to be resigned to trust in His wisdom in ordering all things?

When all seems to be going smoothly is the time to remind ourselves that no matter what, the Lord is our Ruler who does all things well. For when the trials come, and emotions rise up and threaten to overwhelm us, it is these truths previously stored away that will come to mind. In prosperity or poverty, all that befalls us is not by chance.

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

-Fanny Crosby

 

 

Questions to Consider

  • Do you agree that “whate’er befalls me Jesus doeth all things well”?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 84

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Day 84

Of Divine Providence

Chapter 5, Paragraph 2.

Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly;...”

Scripture Lookup

Acts 2:23.

Reflection

Dazzled and frazzled by the things of this world, it is sometimes hard to remember that all things happen because of God’s decree. There is so much that consumes our senses and our time. We see the blooming burst of flowers in the Spring. Spices and textures make for a delicious dinner. There is much to watch out for, as well: we hear the squeal of tires as we avoid a car crash. A certain smell emanating from a baby tells us a diaper needs changing.

With so much vying for our attention, it is easy to lose sight of God’s work in creation. All that is happening around us has been decreed by Him. Nothing takes God by surprise. There is no error in the unfolding of His decree. How will you live in light of that?

Sovereign Ruler of the skies!
Ever gracious, ever wise!
All my times are in Thy hand,
All events at Thy command.

-John Ryland

Questions to Consider

  • Are you trusting that God’s decree is without error and unchangeable?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 83

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Day 83

Of Divine Providence

Chapter 5, Paragraph 1.

...by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were Created; according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable Counsel of his own will; to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.

Scripture Lookup

Ephesians 1:11.

Reflection

You glorify God.

Like His decree, God’s providence is not not something that you can influence or control. He knows all things, and is not constrained by anything or anyone in carrying out His decrees. God does not change, and as a result His providence does not change.

So your life, along with everyone else’s life, is designed by God to glorify Him. All creatures and things are governed and directed by Him for a reason, and they all have various abilities and characteristics that God uses in His works of providence. Your personality and your abilities have all been decreed by God and are intertwined with all those around you. All those around you also have personalities and abilities decreed by God, and as the sun rises and sets, as we rise and rest, as we interact with one another, His providence unfolds.

Through God’s providence we see His wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness and mercy. This is why no matter what, everything and everyone will glorify God. Through providence we see His goodness towards His creation; through providence we see His power displayed. Those forgiven through Christ glorify Him to the praise of His mercy; those who deny God glorify Him through the administration of His justice. We can rest in His infinite wisdom, and trust that His providence is right and good.

 

Questions to Consider

  • What acts of providence in your life display God’s glory?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 82

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Day 82

Of Divine Providence

Chapter 5, Paragraph 1.

...from the greatest even to the least,…”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 10:29-31.

 

Reflection

Crying out to God often happens in the midst of great trials in our lives. When circumstances scream to us that this is out of our control, we remember that God directs and upholds all things, and we turn to Him. This is good and right, for God does govern events through His providence, and major upsets are not beyond His governance.

How often, though, do we remember that God upholds and directs even the little events in our lives! From finances, to health, to scheduling our weeks and raising our children, we can be so focused on working towards a certain outcome that we perceive ourselves as solely responsible for any outcome. Our culture does not help in this. Want something badly enough, it says, and work hard enough and it will be yours. Take charge, follow x, y, and z and this outcome is guaranteed! So much emphasis is placed on the power of the individual, that God’s involvement is forgotten.

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

-Proverbs 16:9

But it is God who gives and takes away. It is God who has numbered every hair on your head, yes even the unruly hair that won’t smooth down – that is governed and directed by God. It is God who directs the breath you are breathing right now, it is God who upholds you while you drive on the highway, it is God who governs over your checking account. We are responsible to work and steward our gifts wisely, but we must never forget that all is through His providence, from the greatest to the least.

My times are in Your hand

-Psalm 31:15

Questions to Consider

  • Do you recognize God’s providence in the little events of your life?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 81

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Day 81

Of Divine Providence

Chapter 5, Paragraph 1.

God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power, and wisdom, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all Creatures, and things,...”

Scripture Lookup

Hebrews 1:3

Job 38:11

Isaiah 46:10,11

Psalm 135:6.

Reflection

Providence reminds us that God is intimately involved with His creation. What is providence? Providence, as Zacharias Ursinus states in his Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism,

…is the eternal, most free, immutable, wise, just and good counsel of God, according to which he effects all good things in his creatures; permits also evil things to be done, and directs all, both good and evil, to his own glory and the salvation of his people.

Look at all the actions God performs in these works of providence:

  • He upholds all creatures and things. By the word of His power everything is sustained.
  • He directs all creatures and things. The severity or mildness of a season, the rise to power of rulers and the tumbling of others, all are directed by God.
  • He disposes all creatures and things. This doesn’t mean He throws them out; rather, God arranges or positions His creation to fulfill His decree.
  • He governs all creatures and things. The Lord God reigns and rules over His creation!

If you needed more reasons to trust the Lord besides His word, look to His providence. “In Him we live and move and have our being..” (Acts 17:28) He is the good Creator who works these things. We have no reason to doubt Him!

And, indeed, it were not worth while to live in a world devoid of God and Providence. -John Flavel

Questions to Consider

  • How does God’s providence affect you?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 80

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Day 80

Of Creation

Chapter 4, Paragraph 3.

...which whilst they kept, they were happy in their Communion with God, and had dominion over the Creatures.

Scripture Lookup

Genesis 1:26, 28.

Reflection

What was the best thing about the garden of Eden before the Fall?

If you’re like most people, the focus is on the lack of hardship: no sickness, no sorrow, no snow. There was eternal sunshine, good food, amiable animals.  Most probably think of Eden like they do an ideal vacation.

Unlike a vacation, Adam was given instruction to work. There was no laying about in the garden! Much of the work in Eden was to tend to the garden and the creatures. While our work is affected by the Fall, we are not called to idleness, and benefit from useful activity.

Adam and Eve were also to care for the animals. Not because they were on equal footing with them as some believe today, but because they had dominion over them. Humans still have a responsibility to tend the earth and animals wisely. Needless cruelty to animals and flagrant waste show disrespect for our role as stewards.

Despite all the bliss of the material comforts of creation in its initial state, that was not the best thing about the garden of Eden. The best thing was that Adam and Eve had communion with God. Many rush after an idyllic vacation, filling their senses with material beauty. While God has created wondrous things for us to enjoy, so many ignore the One this beautiful creation declares. True happiness is only obtained when you have communion with God. Everything else is of little worth without Him.

Questions to Consider

  • When thinking about Eden, what attracts you more, the delights of creation or the closeness with the Creator ?