The Mystery of Human Responsibility and God’s Providence

Day 25

Genesis 50:1-26; Exodus 1:1-2:10; Matthew 16:13-17:9; Psalm 21:1-13; Proverbs 5:1-6

The Mystery of Human Responsibility and God’s Providence.

Genesis 50:20 – “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Even though Joseph’s brothers committed a horrific sin by selling their brother into slavery, God used their actions to save the entire family and by extension the entire nation of Israel from annihilation by starvation.

Indeed, God is in control. He providentially guides and directs His creation using everything to accomplish His good purposes and will—even the evil intentions of sinful humans.

Notice the mystery of human responsibility and divine sovereignty. The brothers are held responsible for their “evil” actions and God is given the credit and glory for the good purposes accomplished by their actions. Joseph marvels at the beauty of the tapestry of God’s providence, and yet we are given no explanation on how the threads are tied.

The Apostle Paul shares a similar thought when he says in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” All things–even the bad things–will ultimately be used and redeemed for good in the lives of those who love God and are called according to His good purposes.

We are responsible for our evil intentions and actions, but God’s good plans and purposes will not be thwarted!

The Rev. Charlie Holt
The Church of St. John the Divine
Houston, TX

Not Just the King’s Battle!

Day 24

Genesis 48:1-49:33; Matthew 15:29-16:12; Psalm 20:1-9; Proverbs 4:20-27

Not Just the King’s Battle!

Psalm 20 is a prayer of the people of Israel for their King to have success in battle. What is the relevance of this for us? We are not kings riding into battle against enemies. Yet, in light of the New Testament emphasis on spiritual warfare (“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil…” – Eph. 6:12), the prayers of this Psalm remain appropriate for followers of Jesus. “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress” (v.1), “May He give you the desire of your heart, and make all your plans succeed” (v.4), and “May the Lord grant all your requests” (v.5b). We can gladly pray these prayers!

But will ALL your requests be granted? Do we always receive the desire of our hearts? Verse 3 states, “may He remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings” as a condition for God’s granting our requests and desires. We are no longer under the Old Testament sacrificial system. Our total lives offered in service to the Lord is the sacrifice He requires (Rom. 12:1). We pray “in Jesus’ name,” meaning in accordance with the character and will of Jesus. As we love, trust and follow Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, our desires will be transformed and can be granted. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (v.7).

Laura Madison
The Summit Church
Lake Mary, FL

We’ve Never Done It That Way Before

Day 23

Gen 46:1‐47:31, Matt 15:1‐28, Ps 19:1‐14, Prov 4:14‐19

We’ve Never Done It That Way Before

The seven most deadly words for any congregation are, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Traditions held too tightly can become precarious if we don’t understand their purpose. Translated from the Greek word “paradosis,” tradition means to “give over” or “hand down.” The question therefore is what are we handing down, why are we doing it, and to whom are we giving it over?

For Jews there are 613 commandments. To break one means that all have been broken. While the self-righteous Pharisees derided Jesus for not washing His hands before eating, thus breaking a “commandment,” in doing so they were guilty of an even graver sin. God had told the Jews to honor their father and mother. But the teachers of the law had negated God’s commandment by telling Jews that if they gave money to the temple, they did not have to give money to their parents. Rabbinic ordinances thus became man’s law, taking the place of God’s commandments. The Pharisees and teachers cared for the rules that they had imposed, more than those imposed by the heavenly Ruler.

God-inspired traditions are important, for they bring us into the presence of the Holy. But going through the motions of a ritual or adhering to a tradition with no thought of its origins or purpose, give such traditions no more value than just doing so because, “We’ve never done it that way before.”

The Rev. Danielle Dubois Morris
St. Michael’s
College Park, FL