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A Dream Is Fulfilled Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2022 1:00 am

A Dream Is Fulfilled Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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January 11, 2022 1:00 am

Are you striving to accomplish a dream that seems impossible? Much of the anxiety can dissolve when you realize that God directs all things towards an appointed end in His world. If you are God’s child, you can trust His providence. In this message, you’ll explore the scope of God’s providence in Joseph’s life, so you’re equipped to remain joyful, committed, and free from anxiety. God’s providence reminds you of His purposes at work in your troubled past, for your future, and even in evil.  

 Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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Renewing Your Mind
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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

It was a long road from a pit in Canaan to a palace in Egypt. For Joseph, God's dream had been fulfilled. The fate of men and nations depended on one man holding on to a dream God had given him, one component in what's known as the providence of God. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we've come to the last message in this series.

Give us a preview. You know, Dave, no matter how often I've read this story, and of course I've read it many times, I am still totally impressed by Joseph's theology, the fact that you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, and then his ability to forgive his brothers in such a remarkable way. You know, no matter what else we learn from this passage of scripture, it is important to learn in our own lives from the life of a man who lived well even when his dream died.

And of course, as we know, God revived it. I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win. We are in 20 different countries in three different languages, and we are continuing to expand.

Would you consider helping us monthly? Here's what you can do for information. You can go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com.

Click on the endurance partner button, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now let us listen to the life of Joseph as his story comes near the end. Back in 1994, when a plane crashed near Pittsburgh, the investigators had the gruesome task of finding and identifying the bodies, and one of them came across a human hand with its fingers crossed. Do accidents just happen in life?

Is it just chance that does whatever happens, or is there some kind of a divine purpose to it all? Today I want to speak to you on the topic of the providence of God. It's the last in a series of messages on the life of Joseph, and I invite you to take your Bibles, if you would please, and turn to Genesis. Genesis chapter 45, verse 8. Genesis chapter 45, verse 8, where Joseph, without the benefit of the New Testament, with all of its teaching regarding God and his providence, Joseph has enough insight to say to his brothers when his dream was fulfilled, and at this point it was fulfilled, verse 5, now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me here to preserve life. Did you catch it? You sold me here, God sent me here.

Providence. Take your Bible now and continue in the book of Genesis and just turn to the last chapter, chapter 50. Jacob is dead, the brothers are expecting that Joseph might retaliate against them, and finally quote even the score, and what does Joseph say to them? Verse 20, as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive. So therefore do not be afraid, I will provide for you and your little ones.

He comforted them and spoke kindly to them. What do we mean by the providence of God? Providence means that God preserves his creation and then he directs all things according to his desires toward an appointed end.

I don't know about the rest of Shakespeare's theology but I do know that when Hamlet said, wasn't it in Act 5, scene 2, there is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough Hewitt as we will, he was very, very biblical. There is a divinity that shapes our ends. There is a purpose to which God directs all things, the providence of God. What do I expect your response to be as a result of this message?

I should think that if it is preached well, if it is used by the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God, if the word is accurately expounded, some of you are going to be different for the rest of your life. You are going to leave here today relaxed, joyful, committed, no longer striving, much of the anxiety will be gone because finally you will realize that this is God's world ultimately, God's world and if you are God's child, you are number one on his priority list. God directs all things, all things toward an appointed end. What I'd like to do today is to first of all discuss with you briefly the scope of providence. Now I've made the statement that God directs all things to its appointed end but we need to explain that and to unpack it so that we better understand it.

What do I mean? First of all, God of course directs such things as the physical universe, the physical universe. It is God, you know, who created the stars, the Bible says, and he calls them all by their names. Who is it that decided that the earth is going to be the sphere of his activity, the place where the drama would be played out? Who is it that decided that the earth would be the scene where human beings would be created, where Satan would have his seat?

And who decided that amid all the planets and amid all the stars? God decided it. Weather is the weather in God's hands. Who is it that created that storm for Jonah mentioned in his book? The text says very clearly, and God hurled, God hurled a storm upon the sea. God did it.

And during the ministry of Jesus, when you had the storm on the Sea of Galilee and Jesus said, peace be still, and there was a very great calm, who calmed that storm but God. He has it in his control because he directs it. You know, the scripture says that Christ moment by moment upholds all things by the word of his power, Colossians 1.17. Here's what most Christians think.

They think that God created the universe with its laws and with its gravity and all of the intricacies of nature, and then he kind of lets it run. And every once in a while, he tinkers with it. And when he does that, we call it a miracle.

Normally, when people die, their bodies disintegrate and they never come back to life again. But occasionally they do. Jesus is the best example. And so we say, in that instance, he intervened.

That's what most people think. I want you to know today that the Bible says differently. Christ upholds all things by the word of his power and by him all things present tense consist. Moment by moment, God is controlling what is happening in his physical universe.

Moment by moment, he is holding it all together. And when he does something extraordinary, we consider it to be a miracle, something out of the ordinary, but he is actively involved in it all the time. God has his physical universe that falls under the scope of his providence. Well, secondly, what else falls under the scope of providence?

The human race. Paul says in Acts chapter 17 verse 26 that it is God who created from one blood all the nations of the earth, and he determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation appointed by God. If we ask the question why it is that the sons of Jephthah happened to move to Europe and the sons of Ham happened to go to Africa, the answer is because God so willed it.

God willed it such. And then when you begin to think of the governments of the world, Nebuchadnezzar, you remember, he went insane because of his pride. And at the end of the days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, my understanding returned to me. And I blessed the most high and praised and honored him who lives forever and ever, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and whose dominion endures from one generation to another. And he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand or say to him, what doest thou? What did Daniel teach? It is the Lord who appoints the leaders of the world and sometimes puts over the nations the basest of men. Psalm 75 verses 6 and 7, promotion cometh neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south, but God is judge.

He puts down one and he sets up another. God's providence extends to the physical universe. It extends also to the human race. And all that is somewhat understandable.

But now we begin to get into some hot water. Does it extend to the human will, to the human will? Can God actually direct people's choices? This, as you know, is an area of controversy and there are two different interpretations. First of all, there is in the history of the church what is generally known as Arminianism. Arminianism says that the human will is free, that God would never impinge upon the human will. So an Arminian would read this story from Joseph and he would say well Joseph, your brothers had the option of selling you or not selling you.

They could have been kind to you or they could not have been kind to you. That was their free unfettered choice. If so, by the way, it would be very difficult for us to understand what Joseph meant when he said God sent me here. Joseph seems to be not only saying that God took evil and used it for good, but that the evil was actually a part of the divine plan. Well, as you know, there's another view sometimes referred to as Calvinism and the names are not important. The question is whether or not their theology is biblical. Calvinism stresses that there are some choices that God even directs. He doesn't program us like computers to be sure.

We are not robots. But through secondary causes, he can cause these brothers to sell Joseph because the hatred is in their hearts and he uses the coat and the dreams to bring it all to the surface. So indirectly God was determining their decision. You know there's that old story about those who believed in free will versus those who believe in predestination and they were having an argument.

And it's a view that has often been argued. And so they separated into two camps. Here over on the one side were those who believed in predestination, on the other side there were those who believed in free will.

There was one man who, typical of many today, didn't know which camp he belonged to so he decided to go over to those who believed in predestination. They said, why did you come here? He said, I came here of my own free will. They said, get out of here.

You don't belong here. So he went over to the other group and they said to him, why are you here? And he said, I was sent here. They said, you can't be here unless it's your own free will, your own free choice.

And so the guy was left out in the cold. My daughter said to me today, just home from college for the weekend, she said, Dad, there's so many kids at college who believe in free will. And of course, we know that that should not surprise us.

But the question is this, and I simply leave it with you and then we hurry on today. You know, the scriptures indicate that if it were up to us regarding free will to accept Christ or not accept him, that none of us would accept him. We'd use our free will to reject him. But it is God who works in the human heart, who grants us the desire, who shows us the conviction of our sin. And we end up doing what we want to do, namely to believe in Christ. But behind that choice is God.

Well, it was not my intention to scare up more rabbits today than I can shoot. But I need to simply say there are two things that must be held in tension. One is that we are not robots. God holds us fully responsible. We are not programmed like computers. But on the other hand, God does move history, events, and even people toward an appointed end.

We must live with both of those truths, even though it's difficult to hold them in tension. Now, I mention that because when we begin to see that God is sovereign over all things and that he is the one you see who can even direct events, and at least indirectly people, then we begin to understand that the scope of his providence does indeed include everything. I think Joseph believed that. Joseph believed it.

You sold me. God sent me. What I'd like to do now is to give you some implication of providence, some implications, and this should really transform our lives. We should look at everything differently after we have understood this. First of all, evil has a purpose. We may not understand the complete purpose at all.

We understand a little bit based on the Bible, but it is not haphazard. It does not come about because God is in heaven and he's looking at his world and saying, well, there's nothing that I can do. I gave people free will and all that I can do is watch what's happened and not be involved. There is a divine purpose as God marches history and individuals to their appointed end. Now, I marvel at Joseph. You remember the words that we just read? You meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good.

Do you notice what he was able to see long before the New Testament was written? He was able to see that there are really two purposes. There is the purpose of the evil and the perpetrators of the evil, and we could say the purpose of Satan. His purpose is always to destroy. His purpose is always to ruin. His purpose is always to antagonize God. That's the purpose of evil. But in the very same event, God has a purpose.

He is meaning it for good. Joseph would have delighted in Romans 828, all things work together for good to them who love God to those who are the called according to his purpose. All things work for good.

Do you realize what that means in practical terms? That means that even when evil is done against us, even though there are people who would like to sue us frivolously, people who would like to falsely accuse us, people who would do evil against us because they intend to do evil, that in that very trial, in that very difficulty, God is working it toward an appointed end that is benevolent and good. And that means in your life and mine that even though things may be going very bad, they may actually be going very good, very good, because God is in those things working them toward his purpose. You see, once we begin to understand this, how it changes the way in which we view the vicissitudes of life.

Those haphazard things that we can't control. There are some people who are into control and they spend their whole life saying, if only I had done this, then that might have happened and that might have happened, and if that hadn't happened, then perhaps this would have turned out better. And now you can give all that up.

You can give it up. Because you realize that even when things work against us, they're actually working for us. You know, out on the farm we used to take clocks apart, not the quartz ones that you have today, but just those old clocks that you used to wind up. And you look at those little wheels, and my brother and I used to always take them apart, and we ended up with a lot more wheels when they were put back together than we originally had. But you'll notice that they are turning in opposite directions. One wheel is going one way, the other wheel is going the other way.

If that's all that you saw, you would not know that they are actually cooperating together for good so that time could be accurately registered. And that's what God does, and that's what he does best, is he takes evil that is done against us, and he turns it for good. Oh, I know there's somebody here who says, oh, but I was abused.

I was abused. How can that possibly be for good? What good can come out of my ruined dreams? What good can there be when everything is against me and every time I turn around, something does not work out? How can that be for good? Well, the best answer is the answer that the Puritans used to give. They said that the reason that Satan is given to us to fight against, the reason that we have so many things that constantly are working against us is why? Because God is increasing the eternal joy of the saints. He's increasing the eternal joy of the saints. What if he wanted to prove that the suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us? And so he has some people who are allowed to go through tremendous trials and discouragements. Why he is working it all for an ultimate, eternal good, because God is at work. First of all, then, evil has a purpose. Secondly, that means that your past, your past has a purpose.

I again refer to Joseph's words in chapter 50 verse 20. You meant it for evil. When I was sold that day into slavery, when I was in the pit and I cried in loneliness, when I was sold to the Midianites and went over into Egypt, a country whose language I did not understand, when I was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife and thrown into jail because of my commitment, when all that ugly thing was happening, I know that you meant it for evil, but God meant my past for good. My friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. If we can hang on to that, it will help us every single day of our lives. You meant it for evil. I'm speaking to people who perhaps have experienced great injustice and you wonder whether or not God can redeem it, whether or not he can use you.

Well, the answer from the life of Joseph is yes, a resounding yes. And we're so thankful for the many of you who support this ministry. I'm holding in my hands a letter from someone who says, I praise God for your ministry because it has really prevented me from almost wanting to end my life.

You, my friend, have had a part in testimonies just like this. Those of you who support this ministry, well, we are so thankful for you and I'd like to encourage you to become a part of the Running to Win family by becoming an endurance partner. Endurance partners are those who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.

Here's what you can do, and I hope that you have time to get a pencil. Write this down, rtwoffer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let me give you that contact info again, rtwoffer.com.

Click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Behind every turn in Joseph's life, we see God's hand. And God has a plan for you and me, a dream He wants to see brought to pass. If your life seems haphazard, take hope. Next time, Dr. Lutzer wraps up his series on the life of Joseph, speaking on A Dream is Fulfilled, telling us how God in His providence works out all things to achieve His purposes. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-29 15:49:55 / 2023-06-29 15:58:19 / 8

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