Our Destiny in His Hands
If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
How shall we respond to the fact that God is able to and does in fact move in the minds and hearts of people to accomplish His will?
Our first response should be one of trust. Our careers and destinies are in His hands, not the hands of bosses, commanding officers, professors, coaches, and all the other people who, humanly speaking, are in a position to affect our future. No one can harm you or jeopardize your future apart from the sovereign will of God.
Moreover God is able to and will grant you favor in the eyes of people who are in a position to do you good. You can trust your future to God.
We should look to God in prayer in all these situations where some aspect of our future lies in the hands of other individuals. As Alexander Carson said, “If we need the protection of men, let us first ask it from God. If we prevail with him; the power of the most mighty and of the most wicked must minister to our relief.”
When Queen Esther was to go before King Xeras without being summoned- an act that would normally result in her being put to death- she asked Mordecca to gather all of the Jews together to fast and ( and presumably to pray) that the king would grant her favor. Esther did not presume to know God’s will- she said, “If I perish, I perish”( Esther 4:16)- but she certainly knew that God controlled the king’s heart.
Obviously we do not always know how God will answer our prayers, or whether He will move in the heart of another individual. But it is enough to know that our destiny is in His hands, not those of other people.
Two of the songs Sherry and I have shared over the last few months are Stand in Your Love by Josh Baldwin and Nobody Loves Me Like You by Chris Tomlin. In Stand in Your Love, the lyrics say, “My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in your love.” Our faith and security stand in nothing less than the knowledge of God’s love toward us. Yet it is this knowledge that most question especially in crisis. In our brokenness and trials, we often wonder where God is, whether He hears our prayers, and if He will actually intervene for us. From the beginning the strategy of Satan has been to tempt us to question this love of God. We read the verse above, “If God be for us” as though there is the possibility that He may somehow not be. O that God would open our hearts to see His incomparable love for us. Most of us know John 3:16 by heart but when we read that “God so loved the world”, we can find ourselves excluding us. To believe that God, who knows everything about us and yet without reservation love us challenges our thinking because few if any of us have ever experienced that kind of love. Most human love is conditional and far too often linked to performance rather than the person themselves. I tell people that of all the great things that God has revealed the most powerful is that I can substitute my name into John 3:16 and read it this way, “For God so loved John Thompson, that He gave His only Son…” That has changed my life. The courage, boldness and faith in my life comes directly from that knowledge. When facing fearful situations, this knowledge of the love of God and His control of my life and all that surrounds it gives me great peace. I remember being in Kenya, having been arrested and taken to the police station. I have no clue as to why to this day. As I was there in the interrogation room, being threatened by a drunken military police officer, the unexplainable peace of God flooded my soul. I had no control of that situation and I didn’t even know how it would turn out, but in that moment I knew what it was to be in the love and care of God. The peace was beyond amazing as the two guards brandished AK-47’s and the officer threatened to send me home in a body bag. All I could think about in that moment was Sherry and the children, wondering how they would manage. We were living in a parsonage and Sherry was in the eighth month of pregnancy with our son Mark. Though that was a concern, the peace of knowing that my Heavenly Father was in control gave me extraordinary boldness. When repeatedly asked why I came to Kenya, I replied, “I’m here to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are lost.” After a few times, I added to the officer, “And if you don’t know Christ as your personal Savior, I’m here to preach to you.” What gave me that boldness? The knowledge that I was standing in the love of God.
The words of the second song also play a role in our faith. I was blessed to be raised by parents who loved me. Though they had little of the world’s treasure, they gave a treasure beyond compare with their love and encouragement. To some degree I am where I am today because my parents never told me that I couldn’t be or accomplish my dreams. They actually encouraged me to try. My father had only a sixth grade education but when I wanted to not only graduate high school but to go on to college, he and my mom never discouraged that. Though they had no financial resources to make it happen themselves, through their encouragement, I found the means. But the love they showed pales in comparison to the live that God has for us. If you weren’t fortunate to have those kind of parents, let me encourage you to know that you are loved and that “nobody loves me like you love me Jesus”.
We can in the words of Bill Gaither “face uncertain days, because He lives.”
I say this repeatedly that this time is one of the greatest opportunities that we the people of God have had in my lifetime. In this time of fear and worry, in this time of uncertainty and confusion, in this time of darkness and evil, we are given the privilege as Esther was to stand before the world with great confidence and faith in the love of our God. I certainly don’t know the outcome of the virus, or the election, or what’s going to happen with the economy, or how all this will impact myself or the church, but I choose to believe that the Sovereign Lord rules over all and though our future may be totally different from anything we might imagine, it will be what is ordered by God and not what is devised by humans. As the people of God we can trust His providence. As for the church, Ephesians says that:
Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless.
Further we have the promise of Christ:
18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ]. 19 I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven.”
We have the great opportunity to influence the outcome of all we’re facing as the church if we will bring it all to God, trust in His love, walk in His peace and follow His will.
We can trust in the Lord. My very first sermon at Peters Creek was from Proverbs
Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil. It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles—all your inner parts] And refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones.
Dr. John Thompson