Into the Hands of God
Proverbs 3: 1-7
Proverbs 3: 1-7
Today is a special day. It is my wedding anniversary of 34 years. It all started years ago when I was in my senior year of high school. I feel in love. She was petite and beautiful and we had just started working together at McDonalds. Her name was Bonnie. It was my first real serious relationship and I even brought her to the New England Bible School for a visit. But shortly after my birthday we broke up and I was devastated. I was starting my first year of college and it was a lousy way to get started. I tried to heal my broken heart by keeping things realistic. Even though we had talked about the bible together she showed no interest and the discussions even gave her a head ache.
A year passed and on the very same day we had broken up, exactly one year later I received a note from an even more beautiful girl I was working with and she shared some of her feelings for me. Her name was Gayle and relationship started a bloomed. She had recently lost her Mom to cancer and when we talked about the bible she expressed real interest. Three years later we were married. It is interesting that it was exactly one year after a very difficult breakup that Gayle came into my life.
We all believe that God is at working directing things. He directs the times and the seasons. He puts men in charge of nations. He was instrumental throughout the life of the men and women we read about in the bible. Is He at work directing things in our life? Sometimes it is hard to say. When things work out we feel that God may have had a hand in the matter and that He has blessed us. But things don’t always work out and sometimes we can feel that we are just on our own. And sometimes the bad just keeps on coming and we can feel discouraged and depressed.
Almost a month ago it appears that I was bitten by a spider. I don’t remember getting bitten, but my nose had a red spot on it and it began to puss up. Within a couple of days the skin around the area had died and I was left with a hole in my nose that is still healing today. The difficult part is that the injury occurred right in the center of my face, in an area that everyone can see. Over the next month I would speak at a grave side service, I would perform a wedding ceremony; I would preside for memorial service and other public duties. Needless to say it is very embarrassing, and perhaps it is just time and chance but regardless God could have intervened and prevented it from happening in the first place.
Do you ever feel that way? Things happen to us that just don’t make any sense and we wonder why they happen and we wonder why God didn’t prevent them from happening. We do believe in God -- don’t we? We can see how involved He was in the life of those in the bible. For example look how he worked in the life of Noah to help him prepare for the flood. Look how he took care of Moses when he was hidden in the river and raised him up to lead the people out of the greatest nation of man at that time. Look how he caused David to rise from watching sheep to become a King? Look how he worked in the life of Daniel, a young captive that was brought to Babylon and helped protect him from the mouth of very hungry lions. If God was so involved in the lives of these men, why do we have trouble believing that He is involved in our life?
Oh, we say we do believe He is involved in our life. Well that may be true, but it seems to fall apart every time some bad things happen to us. Remember how Joseph suffered jealousy and hatred from his brothers and they wanted to kill him. Remember how they sold him into slavery. Remember how he was falsely accused and thrown in prison. If any one of those happened to us we might have become so depressed and discouraged that we might turn away from God. But God was there through all those bad things. He was there getting Joseph ready for something that would come. It wasn’t time and chance; it wasn’t just a bad day.
The bad things that happen to us can range from job difficulties, difficult people, heath problems and sicknesses, money troubles, car problems, trouble at school, trouble at home, trouble with another brother or sister, family problems, weather issues, stress, overworking, and just about everything you can imagine. Which of those things are in God’s Hands?
The correct answer is ALL of them. It doesn’t matter what it is, maybe even a spider bite that has left a mark on us. Whatever it is that we are wrestling with, the best place for it to be in in the hands of God. If we turn all our problems over to God, we have to trust that all will be well in the end. Obviously the temptation is for us to think we need to take control of it. For us to think it is better in our hands and that we can handle it. Isn’t this what happens when someone says something to us that rubs us the wrong way. Inside us, we want to lash out. We want retribution. We want justice. But when we put it in God’s hands, we will find the strength to give a soft answer instead of wrath, or even to just let it go.
There are two elements to this. First we need to believe in God. That is the easy part. Second we need to believe that He is at work in our life. I will be the first to admit that I have some psychological issues. It is easy for us to feel insignificant. It is easy for us to feel that we don’t matter. It is easy for us to feel invisible. We need to also put all these feelings into the hands of God and just trust Him.
The best way to counter those feelings is with truth. And the one solid source of truth we have is the bible. The bible should be a greatest possession. It is our light, it is our life. It is what connects us to truth. I will even being as bold as to say that because we are here today, among this group of people that love the bible, among this group of people that seek out truth within its pages, because we are in this room that is a strong indication that God is at work in our life.
But reading and understanding the bible does take some diligence on our part. Because we know that millions of people read this same bible and millions of people end up believing different things about what it teaches. I was talking to a very devout Baptist a couple weeks ago. He believes strongly that the bible teaches that there is a literal hell. And in this literal hell there is a literal devil that is in charge and that there are demons and other creatures that are work. And that in this literal hell will be everyone that is not in the Kingdom and they will be tormented and burned and put though pain every day of their lives and they will live that way forever and ever. Lots of people are taught and believe that this is a teaching of the bible. This devout Baptist even said that the reason he is so devout is because he is so afraid of going to Hell.
Wow, how terrible it would be if this devout Baptist were correct about Hell. Can you imagine that while we might be enjoying peace, love, happiness in the Kingdom of God that right down the street from us there would be pain, suffering and torment? But this teaching of Hell, which is very popular out there, really goes against everything that God is planning for this earth, and I would even say that if it were a true teaching that I would not want any part of the Kingdom of God because really, how in the world could I truly be happy knowing that there were people crying out in pain and suffering.
It would be nice if we could go around and preach to the people of Springfield, to our friends, our neighbors and even our own family that if they don’t repent that they will suffer years and years of torment burning in hell. Maybe putting the fear of God in them would be a way to fill these seats. After all, wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone in town believed in the same God and went to the same Church and every Sunday life just stopped and we would spend the day in worship to God? But God doesn’t want people to follow Him because they are afraid. In fact, we are told by His son to fear not, it is the Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
He has given the people of earth a choice. They can enjoy the life they have, enjoy the sunshine and the rain, enjoy the blessing of family and whatever else this world can offer them. Many choose this path. For some it works out but then one day it all comes to an end.
The other path is not as easy and requires faith. It means giving up some of the pleasures of life. It means putting the needs of others first. It means loving the Lord our God with our entire heart. For those who choose this path it leads to someplace even better than all the joys this world offers.
Neither choice frees us from the current pain and troubles that come from living day to day. Neither choice means that we won’t suffer bad things. Neither choice means that there won’t be days where we just want to give up. But choosing the way of faith, letting our lives be in God’s hands, can be a wonderful release knowing that God directs our steps. And the thing that will help us get through the days of coming pain and sorrow will be the assurance we have from the bible that our road will lead to the Kingdom.
Do you know the power that is at work in your life? Do you really appreciate that the only Living God is directing your steps? Do you think that things happen by accident?
What if I were to tell you that I have a place for us to eat lunch today? When you leave meeting today, go down to the Springfield shopping plaza and when you get there you will see a man carrying two shopping bags crossing the walking bridge? Follow him into the house he goes to and then tell him that Steve sent you and wants to eat at his house for lunch today.
Turn to Luke chapter 22:
8 And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. 9 And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? 10 And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. 11 And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? 12 And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. 13 And they went, and found as he had said unto them.
This is the type of power that we put our trust in. This is amazing. How did Jesus know that at the same exact time that the disciples entered a city a man would be carrying a pitcher of water? There is no indication at all that the man carrying the water knew that Peter and John were coming. Not only that but for them to then follow this man into whatever house he entered and then tell the owner of the house that they would eat the Passover there. The owner could have kicked them out. He could have laughed at them and said he had other plans. But somehow Jesus knew that the man would welcome them and show them a large upper room that they could make ready.
This type of power is repeated throughout the pages of scripture. Jesus knew ahead of time that Peter would deny him three different times before the sun would rise?
God knew that twins would be born to Isaac and Rebekah and that the older boy would end up serving the younger boy?
God knew that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth more than 700 years before it happened?
Never underestimate the power of the Living God. He is at work in the life of all believers – He is activity at work in the life of all believers – He is actively at work in YOUR life! (Romans 8:29)
There is a passage in the chapter we read almost every week that I think is misinterpreted. 1 Corinthians 11:30 “For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and some sleep”. The traditional way of interpreting this verse is that those who partake of this bread and this cup in an unworthy manner become weak, become sick, and some die.
But I think there is a better understanding that fits into the context of the passage. Why in the world do we find Paul talking about the breaking of bread in this chapter anyways? Well back in verse 17 is where he addresses a problem in the meeting. He said you’re coming together is not for the good, but for the worse. There are divisions and you are not eating the Lord’s Supper. Why? He is more direct in verse 21: “For in your eating each one takes before others his own supper; one is hungry and one is over fed.” Verse 22: “You put to shame those that have not.”
They are being selfish and not thinking about the needs of their brethren. This is the reason why Paul then tells them what he understands about the breaking of bread is so that they know the whole purpose of the bread and wine symbolizes a life sacrificed for others. So he is telling us to DO THIS. To sacrifice ourselves for others. And he then says, this is the reason why there are those that are weak and sick among you, they are there so that you will learn to nourish and care for them. This is why some have sleep, there are there so that you might learn to look after the widows and those without parents.
If you don’t discern the body of the Lord, if you don’t see that we are all part of that body, if you don’t wash each other’s feet like Christ demonstrated when he broke bread, if you don’t spend time caring for one another, then you are piling judgment on yourself.
And this is why Paul says he is giving judgment on them now about this, so that they might not be condemned with the world. The whole point is summarized in verse 33: When you come together to break bread, wait (other versions say tarry, take care) for one another.
God is at work among us right now and the purpose of bringing us together to break bread is that we might care for one another. This is divine providence at work right before our eyes.
There is a scripture that says it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. And for those who walk away from Him it is fearful. But for those who willingly fall into his Hands, it is a wonderful thing.
I also know that this is the day we also celebrate Father’s Day. Even though we all have a Father in heaven, it is also nice to have a Dad on earth. I have been blessed to have a wonderful Dad. When he was alive I didn’t think of him as a normal person. But I know now that he faced the same struggles that we all face. But he was never a burden to anyone because he always put things in the hands of God. Perhaps one of the greatest trials he bore was that many of his own children and grandchildren have shown little interest in walking in the same steps and getting together with believers. This must have been hard and depressing for him. But he never let it get to him and he kept going regardless of how discouraging life became. I thank him for the example he lived of how to truly put our lives in Gods hand.