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When Providence Stings #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
May 9, 2024 12:00 am

When Providence Stings #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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May 9, 2024 12:00 am

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Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in the Truth Pulpit. We have been for several months in the midst of a series called Building a Christian Mind, and in my judgment, it's the most important series that I've ever preached, even though I'm approaching it and doing things in a slightly different way than some are accustomed to.

There is no question that we need a Christian mind in order to face the world that is disintegrating around us and as we face many difficulties in our personal lives. We've come to a point after looking at how to know that God exists, how to know that the Bible is true, how to know that Jesus is Lord, and having preached some 30 or 40 messages on those matters in addition to what we're studying now, we've come to the topic of divine providence. We've looked at the matter of the divine decree that God established before the world began, everything that would happen. He appointed how His creation would unfold. He created things, set it all in motion, and now He is governing things in His power by what is known as His divine providence. And we've defined this as follows.

If you haven't had this definition written down, you need this definition. God continually upholds His entire creation and sovereignly works in absolutely everything that happens, and thus directs all creatures and events to accomplish His will. God continually upholds His entire creation and sovereignly works in absolutely everything that happens, and thus directs all creatures and events to accomplish His will. God established his will before time began. That will has never changed and it never will change because God himself never changes. God created the universe, set things in motion, and then he did not step back, as the deists say, he did not step back and turn his back and have no interest in what followed after that. Actually, he's been actively working out his will ever since, and we've established that in our recent messages and I won't review it any further than that, except to say this, that God's providence is infinitely broad, it is infinitely detailed, and it is infinitely personal. However many people are in this room, Scripture says God knows the number of hairs on your head, which by stating things at the lesser level, everything greater is included in that.

If he cares about the number of hairs on your head, then everything else is equally the subject of his divine concern and his divine direction. And beloved, that means that everything that happens to you and me throughout the course of our lives has been divinely planned. Whether it seems comfortable or not, whether it seems good to us in the moment or not, it's all been divinely planned, it's all working according to a plan and a timetable that cannot deviate and which cannot be wrong. Now, with that in mind, when life is pleasant, we think the Providence is favorable to us, and we like that. In fact, when life is favorable, we tend not to think about divine providence and we just live in the ease of favorable circumstances and we're content there, and that's a vulnerable place to be spiritually because when we're content with circumstances, then we tend to let our foot off the spiritual accelerator and that's when bad things start to happen as the Lord disciplines us and corrects us. But, you know, when life is pleasant, we think that Providence is favorable. Here's the question for today, what about when life is difficult?

What about when life is challenging and painful and all of those things? Over the years, some have called such times a frowning Providence. Providence is frowning upon you.

I have no problem with that term, but I want to change the picture slightly to make it hopefully a little bit more helpful. What do we do when Providence stings, when it hurts, when it's difficult? For any thinking Christian, for any serious minded person, sooner or later you're going to have to come and deal with this question. If God is in control, as we have seen, and if he genuinely loves us, then why is life hard? Why is it often so difficult? If Christ has saved us and we're reconciled to God in his Son, in his beloved Son, why does Providence sting us as Christians?

Why is that? And it's precisely at this point, my friends, that having a Christian mind is so necessary, so vital, and so practical, and it takes, beloved, to develop a Christian mind takes more than just going verse by verse through an individual passage. It takes a comprehensive absorption and assimilation of the entirety of revelation in order to be in a position where you are strong and able to respond to these things, be able to understand them for yourselves, and being able to help others in them as well. Now what I want to do today, I have intensely pastoral goals here this morning. I am here entirely and exclusively on a human level to help you, each one of you today. I'm here because what Scripture says is designed to help you. Indeed, in Romans chapter 15 verse 4, the Apostle Paul said that whatever was written in former times was written for our instruction so that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

So what we're wanting to do is we're wanting to take the the fullness of what the Word of God says here and present it in a way that genuinely helps you in life. So I want to ask you a question for you to contemplate in your own mind and to frame the way that you hear everything else that is said here this morning. What is it that's making life difficult for you today? What's been difficult over the past several days, few weeks, few months, even over the past few years?

What is it that makes life sad for you or difficult for you today? Frame that in your mind and say that's the issue that I'd like help on and understand that God brought you here today in his providence. Every one of us is here by divine appointment from God. God brought you here in his providence in order to minister his grace and mercy to you today through his Word. And I want you to understand that to the best of my ability, I realize this is a little bit of a construct in what I'm about to say, but it is my intention and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it is my intention to speak to you personally today as though we're talking to each other one on one. We're having a private conversation to encourage you in Christ even though it's in this public format. The intention and the way that I would hope that the Lord would help you receive this as though it's a private conversation, one where we're able to interact one on one together and you have, as it were, have laid out the concerns of your heart and now we have the opportunity one on one together to open the Word of God and see what it says and how it will help you. And so today, without apology, I tell you that this is not a traditional expositional message. That's totally okay because I know that this will help many people and that we are giving you truth from God's Word in the form that we're giving it, and so I am not concerned about outward form today as I explain Scripture.

I simply am here to, by the grace of God I trust, to be a help to the people of God. Now there are two sections to this sermon as we think about the stinging providence in your life and I want to break those down for you here at the start. I want to talk about the context of a stinging providence and then secondly to talk about the goals of a stinging providence. The context and the goals. What is the spiritual context of that stinging providence that you've identified in your mind? What's the big picture of that?

There's a few points that I want to make under that heading. And then I want to talk to you about the goals of a stinging providence. If we understand the context and why it is that we have a stinging, frowning providence in our lives, that goes a long way to helping us accept it and to respond rightly to it. And if we know what the goals of God are in that stinging providence, then we are really conditioned and in a position to be able to respond rightly to it. Now let me just say one other thing by way of the the whole context of this so-called mega series on building a Christian mind. The things that I am about to explain to you are only going to be stable and enduring in your mind if somehow you have given yourself to the study and the application of those prior 30 or 40 messages. If that seems overwhelming to you, too bad. I don't mean that to be flippant or dismissive, but you cannot hear a single message in like this without context, without reference to the whole fullness of biblical truth that informs it. And that's what we've been trying to lay the foundation for.

And so if you're coming in late, that's okay. Just go back and review those messages. If you've been in and out of truth for whatever reason and have kind of fallen behind, go back and catch up, because these things are essential for life, and they are essential for the world that is now here and is going to come and get worse. We need the full context of a Christian mind, and we evade these things, and we avoid these things, and we ignore them at our peril. You avoid them at your peril.

That's all I can say. And Warren and help and caution and beckon you to come to the Word of God for these things that we've been giving ourselves to for this entire calendar year. So let's consider the context of that stinging providence, okay? The context of that stinging providence that you've identified in your mind, and now we're interacting one-on-one together to consider it. When you are a Christian, if you are a Christian, you always need to step back from the individual challenge that you're facing, that particular adversity you're thinking.

You need to step back from that, pick it up as it were, and set it aside for a time so that you can do something spiritually profitable. You need to be able to step back and consider the big picture that is at stake in your stinging providence. And so let's ask and answer this question, what is the big picture of the life challenges that you're facing here today?

And what is the big picture that will always apply as the challenges evolve and morph into different things over the course of time? What is the big picture for any and every stinging providence that we go through under the hand of God? I'm only going to touch on these briefly, and you need to meditate on these things in the days to come.

You cannot walk out of here having heard this once and then setting aside and never coming back to it again and think that matters have been solved for you. These things require, they demand repeated rehearsal in your mind. We need to be transformed by the renewing, the continual renewing of our minds in these things. And so at one point there's a limit to what any pastor can do. The pastor can lay out the banquet before you, invite you to come and eat of the things that God has given in his word.

Thy words were found and I ate them and thy words became for me a delight in the joy of my heart for I've been called by thy name O Lord God of hosts the Prophet Jeremiah said we have to come and eat and chew on these things again and again and again and so I can only fulfill my responsibility by laying it out what I want you to understand is that you have your own personal responsibility to take these things in and rehearse them in your mind and you're accountable to God for that. And a proper mental context will help you assess these things well. So what's the context?

Here's the first one for you. Here's the first principle of context for that stinging providence. Number one, we live in a fallen world. We live in a fallen world.

As I've said earlier, I'm just going to touch on these ever so briefly. Each one of these ten points this morning could be the subject of an individual sermon itself and so this is highly concentrated, highly condensed, but we live in a fallen world. Beloved, ever since Adam fell in Genesis chapter 3, this earth has been under a curse and this earth has been operating under the wrath and judgment of God.

That's the environment in which we live. We live in an environment that suffers under the wrath and judgment of God and the best that I can do, if you have any question about that whatsoever, is to point you to Romans chapter 1 verses 18 through chapter 3 verse 20. Scripture says in Romans 1 verse 18 that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and all unrighteousness of man. Creation itself is under a curse and we are alienated from God and the world is alienated from God and if you have any question about that, beloved, you can reference 1st John chapter 5 verse 20.

1st John chapter 5 verse 20, which we'll come to this point again in a few moments, but in chapter 5 verse 19 actually, I misspoke, the Bible says that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. We live in an environment over which Satan has sway, it's a fallen world, and Scripture says that groaning is part of life in this environment. In Romans chapter 8 verses 22 and 23, Romans 8 22 and 23, we read this, for we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now and not only the creation but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons the redemption of our bodies. There is groaning in this life, there is groaning in this creation, and becoming a Christian does not lift you out of that environment and exempt you from the consequences of it. We live in a fallen world and a fallen world is going to be groaning and it's going to give us things that cause us to groan. Fallen things will happen to us, fallen people will sin against us just as you in your fallenness have sinned against others, and beloved this is a reality check, it does no one any good whatsoever to wish that it was different. It does no one any good to say I don't want to think about that, I just want to think about happy things, I want to go and find a church that tells me that Jesus wants me to be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous.

You can go look and find a church like that, there are a dime a dozen, but beloved they're not telling you the truth when they teach you to view life through that prism. It's a fallen world and false theology doesn't evade the consequences of it. It's appointed for man to die once and after this comes judgment, and so we have to be realistic and realize that groaning, a stinging providence is going to be part of living in this fallen world.

If we're not going to be realistic we're wasting our time because to be realistic is to live and to think according to truth, so we live in a fallen world. Now secondly, another aspect of the context of that stinging providence is that we live in light of our past sins, don't we? We live in light of our past sins, we live in a fallen world, we live with our own past sins, and this is something that's humbling, this is something that in and of itself stings to acknowledge and to admit, but we live with our past sins. Now let me quickly hasten to say that not all suffering is directly related to personal sins that we have done.

People get sick, people get cancer without it being tied directly to anything that they've done. In that sense it's a broader sense of living in a fallen world. The patriarch Job suffered greatly, suffered many great personal losses, suffered the loss of his personal health in a most painful, gruesome, enduring way even though he was blameless before God. And so not all suffering can be traced directly to personal sin, and that's where the faith word movement, you know, if you just have enough faith and you speak your reality into existence and everything can be good if you just have enough faith, total lie, total hypocrisy, total dismissal of everything that Scripture says about these things. Sometimes suffering comes and you haven't done anything to deserve it. That's what Jesus said about the blind man in John chapter 9. Disciples said, look at that blind guy! Who sinned, him or his parents? As if it was a closed system and those were the only alternatives.

You know, there was a binary choice there. Either that man sinned or his parents sinned to produce that condition of suffering that he was under. Jesus said it's not because either one of them sinned. This is a suffering for the glory of God. And so not all suffering is directly related to personal sins that we have committed. Having said that, beloved, the truth of the matter is is that you and I bring a lot of sorrow onto ourselves, don't we?

Let me just give you some examples to show you what I mean. The woman who loses her family because she committed infidelity is suffering due to her own sin. Sooner or later that catches up and you regret it, but then it's too late.

Life moves on, you've established yourself as an adulterous. Or, give you another example, the man who has wet brain from years of drunkenness suffers as a result of patterns of his sin. The continual absorption and and consumption of alcohol has a physiological change in his brain that he now suffers the consequences with, and sometimes that's irreversible.

You bear responsibility for that, and it does nobody any good to say, oh, it's a sickness and he's an alcoholic. Scripture doesn't talk about it that way. Scripture recognizes, yes, there's an enslavement to sin, to drugs, to alcohol when that comes, but there was a morally accountable choice that stepped first into that direction, and sin takes so many people places where they never intended to go. That's not God's responsibility, it's in God's providence, but we need to step up and recognize that, you know what, I made decisions and broken relationships and different things that have come from that are a result of my own decisions. And the first starting point of entering successfully into the healing nature of God's providence is to say, I'm responsible for that, I did that, I made those choices, I sinned against God, and to stop blaming other people for sins that you committed. Another example, I don't, I know nothing about the financial condition of anyone in this church, so I'm just stating principles here, but a young family, a middle-aged family that has lived beyond their means on credit for many years suddenly finds that the bills come due, and it stings, and the adversity of that and the pressure of that and the phone calls and the letters and and the continual inability to repay those things, we've got to admit I'm in that condition because I lived beyond my means. Now we're stating things in general, maybe there's a extenuating circumstances from time to time, but beloved, don't miss the broader point for the sake of trying to explain things away that Excal paid us from, any personal accountability.

Those are just brief examples to make this point. God, this is so important, beloved, and only the person that's willing to humble themselves under what I'm about to say can benefit from anything else to follow. God has ordered the moral universe according to this principle. What a man sows he will reap.

Galatians 6 7. What a man sows he will reap. Now sometimes God graciously allows us to have evade some of the natural consequences of our sins and choices, sometimes he doesn't, sometimes he lets us feel the full weight of it, and if that's the context of your stinging Providence, all I can encourage you to do is to humble yourself before God and make the honest admission and confession, Lord, my marriage is a mess because of things that I did. My finances are a mess because I was greedy, covetous, and I wanted what this world had to offer more than being content and satisfied in what you gave me.

My physical health has suffered as a result of bad choices that I have made. We have to start there, beloved. That's the context of the stinging Providence, and if we're not willing to do that, then we're kind of wasting our time. If that's the kind of stinging Providence that we have, we need to just humble ourselves and without qualification say, I'm the one to blame here. God be merciful to me, the sinner. Don't depart from me, don't leave me here, but God I am responsible and I accept full responsibility. I'm done blaming my spouse, I'm done blaming my boss, I'm done blaming climate change, I'm done blaming everything, Lord, it's me.

It's me. And we recognize in the context of that stinging Providence this important principle. And these things can be true of Christians, and they are true of Christians, and I'm assuming that they're true of many of you, whether I know about it personally or not. Salvation in Jesus Christ saves us from the guilt of sin for which we give him eternal thanks, but it does not necessarily enable us to evade the natural consequences of our prior sin. And so what Providence does, and why Providence sometimes stings, is that God disciplines us through the natural consequences of our sinful decisions.

And when you feel the sting of that, if you put your hand on the stove and it's been burned, you know not to do that again. And sometimes we need to feel deeply the sting of sin so that we say deep in our hearts, I'm never going there again. God orders that to help us, and so sometimes Providence stings because God disciplines us through the natural consequences of our sinful decisions. I visited men in prison, dear men that come to my mind by name and by face, that I would gladly hug again when I see them again, but they're in prison because of desperately sinful choices that they made. The relief for men like that is not getting out of prison, the relief for men is making an honest acknowledgement of that and receiving the freedom that comes from Christ of having your sins forgiven, not necessarily the freedom of living beyond the walls of the consequences of those choices that make.

You wouldn't have reason to know this, we have I think dozens of men that receive our prison transcripts each week and you know I just as the transcripts come to them they can know I was thinking about them as I said these things in love for their benefit as well as for yours. So why does Providence sting? We live in a fallen world, fallen people sin against us, we live with the consequences of our own past sins. Thirdly, and here's one that we should not overlook, I alluded to it earlier, we have a supernatural adversary. We have an evil supernatural adversary that is bent on our destruction and seeking the destruction of the kingdom of God if it were possible for him to do so. You see, beloved, as we look at life as we go through things we must always, if we're going to have a Christian mind operating continually about us, we must realize that there is more to life than what we see about us.

There is more to life, there is more to our environment than what we perceive and touch with our physical senses. Scripture tells us that there is an invisible spiritual world in which great conflict is taking place. Scripture tells us that we have an adversary, the devil who hinders us. He confuses us with false religion and false philosophy. He stirs up opposition to us and makes things difficult. He hinders our circumstances. He stirs up doubt within our souls. He sends fiery darts and and blasphemous thoughts pop into our minds seemingly out of nowhere.

All of those things and a thousand others. Beloved, let me be very careful and very precise here. You should not try to link specific difficulties that you have directly to Satan or to a demon. You shouldn't do that. You shouldn't think that way and say, oh my car broke down because Satan messed with the ignition. Don't think that way. That's foolish and you can't establish that, there's no way to falsify that, and it's thinking at far too carnal and physical a level to realize what's going on. It's enough for you and me to know that as 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 8 says, we have an adversary who prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Someone that we cannot see, someone that is immensely evil and hostile with no restraint whatsoever by any goodness or kindness or sympathy whatsoever.

The more he can destroy the happier he is, if you can use the word happy to describe a devil that's doomed to be in the lake of fire and sulfur forever and ever. There's a spiritual reality to this. Ephesians 6 tells us, goes into great detail about this. And so beloved, what is the context of the stinging providence in your life? Understand that you live in the flesh in a fallen world with a spiritual adversary that has his sights trained on you.

You know what that is? That is a recipe for difficulty. To be in a fallen world, being fallen yourself, living in light of your own sins, sins of others, spiritual adversaries. It's no wonder, beloved, it is no wonder whatsoever that the Bible says this, and I quote from Acts chapter 14 verse 22, through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. The way to life is narrow, Jesus said in Matthew chapter 7.

In fact, it would be good for us to just look there real quickly. Matthew chapter 7. Matthew chapter 7 verses 13 and 14. And there comes a point where you have to make a decision. You have to make a choice.

Which way do I want? Which way will I walk in? Jesus said in Matthew chapter 7 verse 13, enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many, for the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few. Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. The entrance into the heavenly kingdom is guarded, so to speak, by a narrow way that's fraught with difficulties in this life, and if you're expecting something different then you need to conform your expectations to what God's Word actually says. If, beloved, and I say this with all the compassion that I can muster up in my shriveled little heart, if in times past you thought you were coming to Christ based on what you were told were his promises that he'll make life good for you, that because he loves you he'll fix every problem right away and he never wants you to suffer or anything because he's supposedly loving like that, then, beloved, you were brought to Christ under false pretenses and God is graciously clearing away the muddy windshield so that you can see through it clearly to know where you're now going. Obviously, obviously, beloved, the teachers of health and wealth have peddled many many lies for many many decades and we are soaking and drowning in the Church of Christ under that prior influence.

It's one of the reasons why we're doing this series. You can't counteract decades and decades of that kind of false teaching that has permeated the attitude of the church, that has permeated the whole mindset of expectations for millions of people. You can't counteract that with a single message. You can't counteract it with a with a light-hearted joking 15-minute sermon and set people on the right path to help them discern the error and to move on the truth. This is a long-term project that long will outlive my own lifetime. The correction of this takes decades unless the Spirit of God is pleased to send an incredible revival unlike anything we've seen for 300 years. We have hard work to do here and the fact that it's hard, the fact that it takes time, the fact that it may seem like we're bringing up unpleasant things because you know the fact that we live in an environment where you're not supposed to say anything is true or false that that's wrong that that person is a false teacher you're not supposed to say any of those things it just makes it all the more difficult for what we're trying to accomplish in building a Christian mind the beloved the fact that it's difficult is no reason not to do it that's all the more reason to do it that's Don Green here on the truth pulpit and here's Don again with some closing thoughts well my friend thank you for joining us here on today's broadcast of the truth pulpit where we love to be teaching God's people God's Word and I just want to send a special invitation to you if you're ever in the Midwest area come to see us at truth Community Church we're on the east side of Cincinnati Ohio we're easy to find easy to get to we have services at 9 a.m. on Sunday and 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday evening for our midweek study you can also find us on our live stream at the truth pulpit calm that's the truth pulpit calm but we would love to see you and if you do happen to be able to visit us in person do this if you would come and introduce yourself to me personally fight your way through the people and tell me that you listen on the truth pulpit and that you're here visiting I would love to give you a word of personal greeting so hopefully we'll see you one day in person at truth Community Church you can find our location and service times at the truth pulpit calm that's Don Green founding pastor of truth Community Church in Cincinnati Ohio thank you so much for listening to the truth pulpit join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-09 04:55:47 / 2024-05-09 05:08:35 / 13

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