Devotional Week 38 Monday
“Jesus said to Peter, ‘You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later on.’”
John 13: 7
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.”
(1731 – 1800)
Today’s Study Text:
“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, accepted and acceptable, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor.”
II Kings 5: 1
“God Is His Own Interpreter”
“God is not a God in heaven only, He is also a God among men and women, and will be known as much: He will be recognized as a God, who resides and governs in the midst of us; and, great in the smallest things, His guiding hand directs the most minute affairs. For this reason His works of grace proceed commonly through the intervention of human means; and He conceals His own sovereign control under the concurrence of a variety of apparently accidental and trivial circumstances. Nevertheless, He shows by the event, that all was Divinely arranged; and thus displays to us not only his work, but Himself as the all-governing, omnipotent, omnipresent Jehovah.”
F. W. Krummacher
In what “small” ways in my life have I been able to identify God’s divine “guiding hand”?
When I look over the history of my life, how has God moved in ways that have made it possible for me to see His grand and wonderful leading?
“The sovereignty of God is that golden scepter in His hand by which He will make all bow, either by His word or by His works, by His mercies or by His judgments.”
Thomas Benton Brooks
“It is better to have no opinion of God at all than such an opinion as is unworthy of Him.”
Ever since Transformation Garden began, nearly eight years ago, I’ve believed that God has been at work, often in ways I did not perceive at a specific moment in time, providentially leading step-by-step.
This particular week, and the studies we will be undertaking in the next 30 days only reinforce what I witness each day as we study God’s Word; as we lift each other up in prayer; and as I read the notes you send to me.
At a time when much of the world’s focus has been diverted to a country named Syria, our studies in God’s Word not only take us into Syria, but we will also be able to witness the hand of God at work in the events of history down through time.
I’ve been quite amazed by some of the current remarks made by individuals regarding the tragic upheaval in our world that has left innocent children as the victims of unspeakable acts. What has been surprising to me is the fact that some who claim “prophetic wisdom” have been so quick to try and grab media attention as they insist they have accurate predictions, which they proclaim are coming to fruition right now.
Who knows, maybe some of the theories that are being floated have a tinge of truth to them. However, I have found throughout my life that as the great hymn-writer William Cowper so eloquently penned, “God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.” And I’m in full agreement with John Chrysostom who observed, “A comprehended God is no God.” The day that I think that God can fit into my “pea-sized” brain and that all His ways can be grasped by a mortal like myself is truly a sad day, indeed.
And so, it is with great trembling and fervent prayers that I open up God’s Word to II Kings 5 where we are going to get a phenomenal glimpse into our heavenly Father’s work, not only in heaven but upon this earth as well. Let me be clear, I come to these studies with the firm belief, so beautifully expressed by James Bordwine, that my God, our heavenly Father, “is sovereign…that is to say that His power is superior to every other form or expression of power; it is to say that God does what He chooses, as He chooses, when He chooses.”
If you and I believe our God to be sovereign…to be in charge…to have the whole world in His hands, then it means that everything which happens, has been passed through my heavenly Father before it touches my life. But there’s more to God’s sovereign rulership than what goes on in Dorothy’s limited world each day.
At some point in our lives, we do ourselves a huge favor by recognizing that everything that happens in our world is under the guiding hand of our Father, too. Now here’s the relief we can have when we come to this conclusion – it is the knowledge that my all-loving, all-knowing and all-gracious Father has your world and mine under control. Oh, it may not seem like it at times, I know I didn’t feel much like God had my world in control when I awoke one day to find ten different tubes coming out of my body and plugged into my arms, legs, chest, throat and nose.
At that point in time I thought the wheels on my world had come off – big time. But over the past few years, I’ve come to recognize that the words of Pastor Charles Stanley are absolutely, positively true: “God has made provision for our needs before the needs ever arise.” And if this piece of wisdom isn’t enough, I’d like to share with you the words penned by Frank Gabelein which I keep taped right by the chair where I write each day: “There is comfort in the fact that God can never be taken by surprise.”
Our heavenly Father is in control. And just so you and I won’t forget about His ability to operate effectively in our world today, He has given us the Bible, His Word, as a map, a directional guide that shows us the way He has been at work throughout history.
This is what II Kings 5 is all about for in the very first verse, we meet a commander named Naaman, who was in charge of the army of Syria. Oh, and by the way, the Bible calls him a mighty man of valor just to highlight the fact that this guy was a Syrian big shot.
But before we think this is the point of II Kings 5: 1, let’s take another look at the critical – all-important – detail in this verse. In the Amplified version of the Bible, this phrase reads: “Because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria.” The Voice Bible gives us this insight: “He (Naaman) was the military commander of Aram’s army, and he had won many important battles for Aram by the power of the Eternal.” Here’s how The Message Bible lays out II Kings 5: 1, “He (Naaman) was important to his master (the king of Syria) because it was by him that Godhad given victory to Aram.” You can bet your life that the king of Syria liked Naaman. Why? Because the God of heaven and earth was with him. God gave him victory. Those aren’t my words. This is what God’s Word, the Bible tells us.
The victory of Syria over surrounding countries was because of God’s involvement with a heathen commander who lived in a country that worshipped at the temple of Rimmon. What do we have to say about this? I’ll tell you what – our God runs the whole show – every bit of it – Praise His name! It means that when the world, as I see it, through my limited vision goggles, comes unglued and things look like they are going to fall all apart, I just take some time to read words from one of my personal Biblical heroes, Job. This man had every right to comment on what it’s like to have your world turned upside down and inside out. But here is how Job viewed his world after he had lost his family, lost his possessions and found himself sitting by the city dump covered in boils: “No one can oppose You, God my Father. You have the power to do what You want.” What an enlightened view of our Almighty Father in heaven who, as the Apostle John in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, reminds us, is “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” And if that wasn’t enough for a mere mortal like me, John continues: “Our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory, honor and power. For You created all things, and by Your will they were given existence and life.” I’d say John sums up the whole of our world with the fact that God created us in the first place and then to add a little “umph” to this fact, he reminds us that without God, we wouldn’t take another breath and our hearts wouldn’t beat at all.
When I was a young girl, my grandma gave me a book to read called, “Cyrus, the Persian”. But as usual, with grandma, she didn’t just hand me this worn out version of a small little volume. Instead, she made this comment, “Dorothy, God has a plan for all of us. He has a plan for you. It doesn’t matter where a person is born, what their education is, or what other people happen to think about them. Even Cyrus, who people called a heathen, was selected by God to carry out His plans on earth.”
I was reminded about this book last week when my mother, who is going through my dad’s extensive library of old religious books, handed me a copy of a little volume called, The Man Who Forgot. As I began to read this treasure, Chapter 2, entitled “God In History” really caught my attention for it began with the words of the prophet Isaiah, “I girded thee, though thou hast not known me” (Isaiah 45: 5, K.J.V.). These were words spoken by God to Cyrus, the ruler of Persia. Here’s how author Clarence Macartney, inspires you and me, who are living in the 21st century, with a heavenly reminder that our Father is in control. As he shares:
“In the first book of Ezra we find these words:
‘Thus saith Cyrus King of Persia,
‘The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem.’
As author Macartney continues: “If this proclamation by Cyrus, so contrary to the custom of the age and of conquerors, is remarkable, even more remarkable is the prediction of it by the prophet Isaiah…This means that history is not a happen-so, not an accident. It means that the supreme actor on the stage of history is God; and the great epochs, the great nations, and the great personalities are but the brief embodiment and the transient realization of God’s eternal purpose…God’s providence is universal. It takes in all events…trust in providence delivers us from fear.”
In the words of Josiah Conder:
“The Lord is King! Who then shall dare
Resist His will, distrust His care,
Or murmur at His wise decrees,
Or doubt His royal promises?”
This is the firm foundation on which our lives are built today. God is in charge! Now that’s enough information for me to get a good night’s sleep, no matter what is going on around me!
“Almighty and merciful God, Father of all men,
Creator and Ruler of the universe, Lord of history,
whose designs are inscrutable,
whose glory is without blemish,
whose compassion for the errors of men is inexhaustible,
in Your will is our peace!
Mercifully hear this prayer
which rises to You from the tumult and desperation of a world
in which You are forgotten,
in which Your name is not invoked,
Your laws are derided
and Your presence is ignored.
Because we do not know You, we have no peace…
Grant us prudence in proportion to our power,
wisdom in proportion to our science,
humaneness in proportion to our wealth and might.
And bless our earnest will to help all races and peoples to travel, in
friendship with us,
along the road to justice, liberty, an lasting peace:
But grant us above all to see that our ways are not necessarily Your
that we cannot truly penetrate the mystery of Your designs
and that the very storm now raging on this earth
reveals Your hidden will and Your inscrutable decision.
Grant us to see Your face in the lightning of this cosmic storm,
O God of holiness, merciful to men:
Grant us to seek peace where it is truly found!
In Your will, O God, is our peace!”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author