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[Read part one, Read part two]

Last week we God’s sovereignty and how He prepares His people even before they are born. That some of the things we go through in life are used by God for His glory. But even lengthy prep does not guarantee immediate success. Though God prepared Abram and Sarah to hear His call, and then called them to become a great nation through which blessings would come to all nations, for a long time all that distinguished them from anyone else was the promise of God.

There was no halo of glory surrounding their camels as they traveled; not was there a pillar of cloud and fire to lead them as Israel had coming out of Egypt.

At a time when many other people were traveling, they appeared to be just another group of travelers. Only the promise of God marked them out as different.

It’s the same way today! What marks you out from your non-Christian neighbors? You’re not smarter than they are; you're not richer; you're not better looking or healthier. You experience many of the same kinds of problems and crises that they do. So what marks you out as different? Only the promises of God do. If you're a believer, you know that God is working in you and through you to achieve His purposes in the world. As we read: “For those who love God all things work together for good.” (Rom. 8:28).

Acts 17:28 - “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.”

Proverbs 16:1 - “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.”

Proverbs 16:9 - “A man’s heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directs his steps.”

Proverbs 19:21 - “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”

For the non-Christian, there is no sense. His or her life may be going well, or it may not. If they are just pond scum or a chance collection of atoms, there is no reason why one’s life should go well or why one’s sufferings should have any significance. There is no promise that the non-Christian can claim. They are left simply hoping against hope that everything will turn out alright in the end, whatever “right” is.

We as believers, however, are different. We know that God is in control of all things, even if it doesn’t seem like it, God has a plan in which all things in heaven and under heaven will work out for His glory and our good.

Let’s end with a question in relation to this. How do we stay strong in the midst of trials and tribulations, when we find ourselves literally drowning in painful feelings, dire circumstances, or broken relationships? When we think we are on the right track with something and it all falls down around us? “Shouldn’t God bless us when we step out in faith and pursue His will?" It’s a question that I struggle with at times when I deal with failures in my own life. Circumstances often seem to conspire against me. People are hard to deal with and people problems are constant. God’s plan is wonderful, I am not. How can I really believe that God is going to work all this mess for good?

The answer is simple: at least in theory! We cling to the promises of God and the God of the promises. We don’t have to understand what God is up to; we just have to cling. This is the lesson Abram had to learn.

And like so many of us, he had to learn the lesson not once, not twice, but repeatedly! It took him awhile to catch on. But we have an advantage over Abram. We have the whole history of God’s faithful dealings with His people recorded in the Scriptures for our instruction.
What’s more is that God’s promises to us have been signed and sealed in the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ. AND we have the Holy Spirit in us to guide and direct our paths.

We have this further assurance: “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him us for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32).

God doesn’t use difficult circumstances to find out what we’ll do. He already knows what the future holds. He uses tests to reveal us to ourselves!

The good news for weak people like us is that even clinging to the promises is not ultimately left up to us. God is not holding His breath, waiting to see whether our strength will be sufficient to hold on to Him in the midst of life’s storms. He holds us firmly in the grip of His grace, and He will not let us go!

Last Update: Dec 29, 2019 12:13 pm CST

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