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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Does God engineer our circumstances?

This is the Christian message I shared with the Parkrose United Congregation on Sunday 31/1/16
it is a draft and not the final address delivered live.

Does God engineer our circumstances?

A lot of people who are not Christians, when things happen to them, they quite often say;

“Oh that was just fate.”

” It was meant to be.”

They are in their own way acknowledging that they think  their circumstances are being manipulated.

That there is a destiny mapped out for them over which they have no control.

Do we as Christians think like that?

Do we ever think that God might allow things to happen to us so we can learn from them and grow in Him?

Do we think that God might have a plan for our lives?

I know that it was a strange journey for Lesley and I.

For a start we met on a blind date!

Was it really so blind or was God behind it?

I look back on the things that led to me becoming a Christian and I can see how God was maneuvering me all the way.

An early involvement in attending an Anglican Sunday School.

Being influenced by the lovely Sunday School Teachers.

A period of wanting nothing to do with Church as a young person.

Hiding from the Anglican deaconess when she rode to our house on a bicycle looking for me.

A young man in a suit coming up to me and a friend, while I was camped out in Rundle Street in a queue waiting for Beatles Concert tickets, and attempting to share the Gospel with us.

We ignored him.
Meeting my lovely wife to be when she was 17 and I was 20.

Neither of us Christians but she at least was a Churchgoer.

Having a breakdown at the age of 21 when I supposedly had the world at my feet.

In time at least becoming functional again after that and getting married.

Lesley had become a Christian before that, but not me.

Living  in Darwin by myself prior to getting married and being blown away by the beauty of God’s creation.

To cut a much longer story short becoming a Christian just before our first son was born.

I can see God’s hand on my life through the years in Oh so many ways but He never controlled my will.

He never does. We have been given a free will so we can come to Him because we want to not because we are forced to.

We hear today in our Bible reading from Jeremiah some very definite things that God has in store for Jeremiah but Jeremiah is very doubtful about this.
The Lord said to me, “I knew you before you were formed within your mother’s womb; before you were born I sanctified you and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.”
(If God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in his mother’s womb does that go the same for us? It does I believe. He even has the number of hairs on our head numbered Luke 12
6“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coinsb? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 7And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
Back to Jeremiah.
“O Lord God,” I said, “I can’t do that! I’m far too young! I’m only a youth!
(Do we come up with excuses when we are challenged to do the Christian thing? For example we might hear  a little voice saying. You should go and visit that sick person” but we find a reason not to or we conveniently forget about it.Or we might say I am far to old for that!))
“Don’t say that,” he replied, “for you will go wherever I send you and speak whatever I tell you to. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I, the Lord, will be with you and see you through.”
(Do we go forward in the same knowledge that what God is saying to Jeremiah, He is a saying the same to us?)
Then he touched my mouth and said, “See, I have put my words in your mouth! 10 Today your work begins, to warn the nations and the kingdoms of the world. In accord with my words spoken through your mouth I will tear down some and destroy them, and plant others, nurture them, and make them strong and great.”
“I will tear down some and destroy them, and plant others, nurture them, and make them strong and great.”

Could it be that God has similar plans marked out for each one of us?

I believe He has.

We are all, in reality, given a broad plan for our lives in the Great Commission and in the great Commandment.

The great Commission: Matthew 28: 19-20
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The Great Commandment:
Mark 12
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

If we learn to listen to God through His word and prayer we can be guided by God into what plans he has for us.

A great example of God activating His plan for someone is in Paul’s conversion.

He directly engineered Paul’s circumstances, and, there were others who were  part of that plan also.

Saul’s Conversion

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
How would you feel if you if you were struck down blind and then heard an audible voice giving you instructions about what to do and where to go.?

We might choose to ignore that and just go to see a doctor, as a sensible thing to do, but somehow Saul, who became Paul, was open to this as he was bewildered by the circumstances he found himself in.
Sometimes like Ananias we can be part of God’s plan for someone else without knowing it.

We might seem as an "angel unawares" to someone else.

Have you ever been fishing all night and caught nothing?

How skeptical would you be if someone said to you put down your nets in deeper water and you will get a catch?

Jesus said this

Luke 5:1-7 (We had this passage last week.)

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Obedience was the key to enjoying God’s providence to these fishermen and followed on that they became “Fishers of Men” for Jesus.

God was definitely intervening in their lives.
So some conclusions.

I believe if we are Christians , and even for many people who are yet to be Christians, God does engineer our circumstances but it is up to us to respond in the way God would have us.

We need to keep some main truths in mind.

One of my favourites is this one.

 Possibly yours also.

Romans 8:28 All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose”

But as my wife rightly tells me we need to take note of the whole context of this passage and not just glibly quote it.

We go back a couple of verses.

26 And in the same way—by our faith[e]—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.
29 For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him—and all along he knew who would—should become like his Son, so that his Son would be the First, with many brothers. 30 And having chosen us, he called us to come to him; and when we came, he declared us “not guilty,” filled us with Christ’s goodness, gave us right standing with himself, and promised us his glory.
31 What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?
33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has forgiven us and given us right standing with himself.
34 Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven.
In conclusion it is by God’s will we are all here today.
All of us have a story to tell and like the passage we have just read God’s Holy Spirit is ever anticipating our needs.
“26.And in the same way—by our faith[e]—the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don’t even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God’s own will. “

Isn’t that wonderful?

I am happy to let God be in charge of my life not me.

Is that how you feel too?

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