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Providence. It’s not just the capital of Rhode Island, it’s the word that describes God’s powerful and tender care of his creation.That is what the phrase “Divine Providence” means.
This week, you will look at five passages of Scripture that will help you know and be comforted by God’s providential work in your life. You will also look at how God is with you in times of difficulty and suffering. Your daily response should be to “trust in God, do not be afraid, and do not worry.”
DAY 1 // God’s Work in Human History
Read Genesis 45:3-5 and 50:15-21
In Genesis 37-50 the focus is on the story of Joseph, one of the sons of Israel. Joseph had some very bad things happen to him. At turn after turn in his life, things went wrong. But God was at work in everything that happened to Joseph. Later, Joseph came to understand that the hand of God was providentially guiding all of the things that happened in his life. These passages in Genesis show how Joseph believed God was at work through his suffering to bring great good to many others.
Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish follower of Christ. He said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”That is a profound insight. You simply cannot understand exactly what is happening when it happens, nor can you understand why it is happening. It is even more difficult to understand what God can do through what is happening, which is why we must always live by faith, with hope, and in the love of Christ.
Reflect: As you look back on your life, do you understand the wisdom of Kierkegaard? What does that mean for what you are going through right now?
Pray: Pray that you would live daily by faith, with hope, and in love.
DAY 2 // God Your Protector
Read Daniel 3 (especially vs. 13-18)
This is the story of the famous fiery furnace that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego experienced. You can skim the entire chapter to get the background, but read carefully the faithful response of these three spiritual friends to King Nebuchadnezzar. I am impressedwith two things. First, they have faith in God their protector. God can and God will deliver them. But then, even more impressive, is this: Even if God does not rescue them, they will not worship anyone other than God.
God is your Protector.He watches over you. He is mighty to save. Still, you experience fiery furnaces of struggle and opposition.When you have these experiences, will you have faith in the ProvidentialProtector?
Reflect: What are your greatest trials and tribulations? How is your faith in God during these times? How have you seen God deliver you in times of past trial?
Pray: Pray that you would trust, obey, and follow God no matter what your circumstances.
DAY 3 // All Things Working Together
Read Romans 8:26-39
This is one of the most loved passages in the Bible. It has a very high theology and a very deep spirituality. It is about the sovereignty and love of God at work in the daily affairs of life. God is always at work (John 5:17). God is always at work in your life. God is always doing new things. And God is always at work in your times of suffering.
There are several things to point out in this passage. It does not say there will be no suffering in your life. It does say that God is with you and God is at work in your times of suffering. It doesn’t say that God will remove your suffering when you pray. It does say that God will do something powerful and beautiful in your life through suffering. It does promise thatGod is greater than your suffering. And it promises that suffering cannot finally defeat you or separate you from God.
Study: This passage is worth a careful reading and some hard thinking. Make a list of 5 to 10 of the best beliefs taught in this passage. Do you understand the implication of these doctrines of our faith?
Reflect: Think back about your life and Christian journey. How have you already experienced the promises in these verses?
Pray: Consider what you are enduring right now. Pray for strong belief and faith to trust these promises, to see what God is doing, and to wait and see what God will do.
Pray: Think of a friend who is going through unusually difficult times. Encourage them with these words and pray these promises on their behalf.
DAY 4 // Do Not Be Anxious
Read Matthew 6:25-34
Jesus describes how the Father in Heaven takes care of creation,even those most helpless to take care of themselves. It is a message on providence – protection and care. It isa message on how important you are to God. It is a message on how much you can have comfort that God is looking after you. It is a message on the futility of worry and anxiety. It is a message about peace and trust.
Reflect: How much do you struggle with worry and anxiety? What do you tend to worry about most of all? Why are you worried about those things? What keeps you from living with faith, hope,peace, and joy?
Reflect: Why can Jesus say (to you), “Do not worry about your life …”? If you don’t trust God for your life, then what or who are you trusting? How is that working for you?
Reflect: Verse 33 is central to this passage. What does this verse mean? How will you be putting this into practice to help alleviate worry?
Pray: Pray for the grace to experience and trust God’s providential care and protection for you and those you love.
DAY 5 // The New Creation
Read Philippians 1:6 and Revelation 21:1-22:5
The Bible begins with God creating the universe (Genesis 1) and ends with God restoring the universe (Revelation 21-22). Everything in between is God about his work of restoration, redemption, and renewal. This is when we experience God’s providential work in a still fallen world, where evil happens.
God is at work in your life right now, but the final work is still to come. God is already blessing you right now, but the final blessing is still to come. God is already healing you, protecting you, and caring for you, but the final and full work is still to come.
Live it Out: As you know what is to come, find comfort, faith, hope, and love. Trust God in all things. Do not be afraid. Love, serve,worship, and follow Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
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