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Truth For Now

This Week's Study

 

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THE BAKER OF CAPERNAUM,
a new novel, plays out in the time of Jesus. How does the baker
of the village perceive the young rabbi? Read more...

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Last updated: 2014-06-15

New studies are put on top. Scroll down for previous ones.

 

Providence

2. Accepting God's plan for your life

God has a plan for our lives. When I look back, I can see how his plan for me unfolded. Without my help, he brought into my life people, who influenced my development and direction.

God granted me parents who knew God and his word, practicing what they preached. Poor as they were, they left me spiritual riches I will not trade for anything. At age 9, when I was being suffocated by diphtheria, a doctor unexpectedly arrived at the remote farm, saving my life with a tracheotomy. I decided to study for the ministry, but could not find the money. Then out of the blue, someone offered me an interest-free study loan. A professor awakened my interest in psychology and so directed me to pastoral counselling that Iíve enjoyed for decades.

Mosesí life was also governed by Godís providence. How else could a baby born to slaves end up as a prince in the palace of the Pharaoh Ė the one who ordered the killing of all newborn slave-boys? Mosesí mother put him in a basket, launched him gently onto the River Nile, and entrusted him to Godís care. Just at the right moment, when the princess was bathing in the river, the basket turned up, and she decided to keep the baby.

In the palace, Moses was educated in the lifestyle and knowledge of royalty (Acts 7:22). Suddenly, God took him from royal opulence to desert hardship. Accused of murder, he fled to Sinai, where he married a Bedouin girl, and shepherded her fatherís flock. He got first-hand knowledge of the wilderness where Israel would later roam for 40 years. His palace and desert experience prepared Moses for his future task.

At the right time, Moses met God personally at the burning bush. When God told him that he would use him to lead Israel out of slavery, Moses tried to back off from this assignment, but God made him understand that he would miss the purpose of his life if he disobeyed. As the years rolled by, Moses gained perspective, realizing God was unfolding the plan for his life one step at a time.

In Egypt, God performed ten miracles through Moses, convincing the stubborn king to yield to Godís command: Let my people go! For good measure, God topped it off with the parting of the waters, enabling Israelís escape and the demise of the Egyptian army.

God miraculously provided bread, meat and water for the whole nation in the desert. With thundering voice, God gave them the Ten Commandments while the earth shook and the mountain smoked under Godís awesome presence. Moses saw abundant proof in his life of Godís unfolding plan for him.

 

1. Discovering God's plan step by step

 

When Ben and I met as students at a small station near the Kalahari, I had no idea what significant role he would play in my life. I later realized that God let us meet on that winter night. God used him to open doors to accommodation, youth ministry, two congregations (where we served as co-pastors), and a clinic where I worked as pastoral counsellor for two decades.

Godís hand was also clearly visible in my coming to Canada 22 years ago. A friend opened opportunities several times as my wife and I moved from north to south, settling in Lethbridge eventually. We did not do much to open doors, but when we entered, we had a lot of work to do.

  The Bible is saturated with stories about Godís providence. God let Noah build the ark in time for the great flood. God provided for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in a land where they only owned a tomb and a well. He took Joseph through 13 years of tribulations and made him governor of Egypt. God called Moses and David from shepherding to national leadership. He called four disciples from their fishing boats to become fishers of men. Through them the foundation of Christianity was laid, which now includes one third of humanity.

On the second missionary journey of the apostle Paul, his itinerary was often changed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16-18). Paul planned to go east to Asia, but God directed him west to Europe. He first had to visit a physician, and so he met Luke in Troas who became the author of the third gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.

While Paul waited for Godís guidance, he had a vision of a Macedonian calling: ďCome over and help us!Ē On arrival, he did not find a synagogue, only a womenís prayer group. When he drove an evil spirit from a slave girl, he was beaten by a mob and thrown into jail. Were his high hopes dashed? Not quite. After an earthquake, he led the jailer to faith in Christ.

Authorities asked him to leave, and he walked with a bruised body to Thessalonica. Driven from there, he fled to Berea where he was well received at first. When enemies stirred up trouble again, he fled to Athens where he addressed a learned audience. He proceeded to Corinth and stayed there 18 months. He wrote 4 letters (of which 2 survived) to the Corinthian church while he worked in Ephesus. These epistles reveal the practical problems the early church faced.

 Although Paul had to change his plans often, he remained receptive to Godís plan, which was best for him and the church.