Saturday, August 07, 2010

A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Part One

"The people who most cherish the sovereignty of God in suffering are those exposed to the greatest dangers." (John Piper. Crossway Books. A SWEET AND BITTER PROVIDENCE. p.26.)

I just finished reading a fabulous book by Pastor John Piper entitled A SWEET AND BITTER PROVIDENCE. This week was VBS (vacation bible school) at the church to which the homeschool group (in which we participate) attends. While the kiddos were doing that I was in the church library reading this book. It is short and most could probably devour it in one day but it took me three days. And given it was a Piper book (which generally takes me much longer to read than most because his are saturated with God's word that requires deep thought for me), surprisingly it was an easy read... but fantastic just the same.

"It may be hard to embrace when the pain is great, but far worse would be the weakness of God and his inability to stop the blowing of the wind and the flight of a bullet." (p. 29)

...all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, "What have you done?
" (Daniel 4:35. ESV.)

A SWEET AND BITTER PROVIDENCE is about the book of Ruth and all for which Piper feels it stands. When I went over Ruth chapters 1-4 I missed a lot of the beauty Pastor John highlights.

"God's providence is sometimes very hard." (p.45)

"If anything painful has fallen on you to make your future look hopeless, learn from Ruth that God is at work for you right now to give you a future and a hope. Trust him. Wait patiently. The ominous clouds are big with mercy and will break with blessing on your head." (p.45)

I personally cling to God's complete sovereignty. Others may not, and I am not here to debate with them. Each has been given a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) and I get that. For me, believing that God is the ultimate authority and has the final say helps me sleep better at night and wrap my head around things I otherwise do not understand.

"In the darkest of our times, God is plotting for our glory. If we would believe this and remember it, we would not be as blind as Naomi was when God began to reveal his grace." (p.58)

"Grace is not intended to replace lowliness with pride. It's intended to replace sorrow with joy." (p.65)

And how easy is it to boast in one's self? It is insanely effortless to take the credit for God's work. But then I remind myself of Herod who did not give God the glory...he was eaten by worms and died (Acts 12:21-23). When it comes to honor, God does not appear to mess around. And (something else I preach to myself whenever I think I want to be a cocky bugger is), the demons (who are mentioned in the scriptures) knew who Jesus was, who His Father is, and they were afraid. It stands to reason, I should have the fear of God as well.

To be continued....
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