Weather or Not . . .

“Our local prognosticators predict rain for today. You say “Good!” Those in another state are looking for a warm, sunny day, and call that “Good!” Why do people call one good, and the opposite good as well?”

Because both are good!

“How can that be?”

Simple.  God is the ultimate Prognosticator—He always predicts what He has decreed! Since He decreed it—it is good.  It’s good because its purposes are His purposes.  And His purposes are good.

“Oh!  But what about those floods in the Midwest—or in New Orleans? I can see wiping out a portion of a place that calls itself ‘Sin City,’ – but farms and farmers in the Midwest?? And the consequent prices in food for all??”

“Or” you’ll ask, “ How about earthquakes, tornadoes, Tsunamis, great forest fires,  and the like?” How can they be good?

“Exactly.  What’s your answer?”

I already gave it to you.

“Huh?”

Yeah.  Whatever happens, happens because God plans it, and in His good providence, brings His plans to fruition.  In other words, God is always up to something (usually countless numbers of things) when He does something—all of them tied together into one great, good, purpose or plan.

“Wow!”

Exactly.

“But how can those sorts of things be for good?”

In countless ways.  We’ll never understand them all—or even a fraction of them.  God uses Assyria or Babylon—pagan nations, He plans to destroy—to punish His people before He does so. He warns His people Israel of judgment to come if there is no repentance by drying up their crops for three years. Of course, we don’t have an earthly theocracy any longer—and we don’t have prophets to interpret the weather. But we still can learn from the biblical principles involved.

“That means our country is receiving such weather from God’s and is also receiving a message from it! We ought to learn, take heed, repent.  But we don’t! Our country goes on sinning in every area of life.”

Right. God spoke to Israel through “four severe judgments” (Ezekiel 14:21) to bring them to repentance.

“WOW!”

 

Romans 8:28

“All things work together for good” is the part of the quotation usually given while omitting the words “to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” That is one fact to remember—when quoting the verse, include those words. The fact is, unless one has been called by God (through the Holy Spirit who then also “draws” him to God), the promise should not be made in counseling. Moreover, the promise is to those who “love God” as the verse teaches—a fact often not stressed even though quoted.

What is this promise? It is a statement about the providence of God.  He is not a God Who fails to care for His creation, but One Who plans His work, then works His plan. He is personally directing the circumstances involved in whatever a person’s situation may be at any given moment. That is why the promise makes sense, and can be relied upon.

The verse is one that should be used frequently in one’s counseling ministry. Why? Because it is reassuring to those who find themselves in situations that seem to indicate God has forgotten them. This verse indicates that God is in the problem (it is not a random occurrence), that He is up to something in it (there is a definite purpose to it) and that He is up to something good (to be learned, later, perhaps in the distant future or even after death).

Use the verse, stressing that one must be a believer (effectually “called”) who loves God, and that there is something that He has in mind (the difficulty is not without “purpose”). Use it often but explain it as you do so that your counselees will understand the facts about it which are often neglected. When these are neglected, the verse often loses its meaning and fails to bring its comfort—the very things for which it was given and which you quote it.

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Predestination

Do you believe the Bible?

“I CERTAINLY DO!”

Glad to hear that.  Then, that means you believe in predestination, right?

“Well . . .”

C’mon.  You’ve got to believe in predestination if you believe the Bible?

“How’s that? Nobody I know at church believes in it.”

That’s a very sad situation.

“How so?”

Because Arminianism (a view that hold an opposite of a belief) denies the biblical teaching about predestination—and to deny anything biblical is sad..  Especially, when one claims to believe the Bible.

“How do you know that the Bible teaches predestination?”

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Such an Ordinary Trip

“I’ve got to go to the grocery store.”

It seemed like a simple, routine thing at the time these words were spoken. But then it all changed!

A truck, carrying gravel, ran a red light and plowed into the rear end of her car. The grocery store turned out to be the ICU at the local hospital.

How quickly everything in life can change! Plans, purposes, intentions—all down the drain! Nothing left of any of them. Life will never be the same again.

In God’s providence—that is in His perfect will for His children—even occurrences like these have a good and eternal purpose. We may see it in part here; probably not with any amount of specificity until we look back from a heavenly perspective some day.

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Weather or Not

Up until this week we’ve had a warm fall. The leaves remained on the trees in the subdued hues of the South a lot longer than usual. Since at my age it is hard to keep warm even in warm weather, this is an added blessing. Now, I can look forward to a shorter period of cold, DV.

Interesting how weather itself can in many ways regulate the way we act from day to day—how we dress, whether or not we go swimming, what we eat and drink (Noodle soup on cold days), etc. And Who controls the weather? The One, of course, who determined that we would have changes in weather, and what and when these would occur.  If one factor in our lives—weather—can do so much to affect us, think how many other factors there are at work in God’s world that, providentially, guide our paths from day to day.

“Oh, Adams is writing about providence again,” is what some are thinking. Yes, and I hope it won’t be the last time! Providence—as I indicated in my latest book, Together for Good, is the way in which day by day God personally brings to pass those things He planned from eternity. And, in Romans 8:28, He makes it clear that for the Christian, those things work together for his good.

There are few consolations that a counselor can bring to a counseling session that can equal those that grow out of the doctrine of providence. We can’t always see how God does it, but He is bringing all the multitude of factors that occur together, in a harmony existing in His mind, that, in often quite curious ways, He intends for the benefit of every believer. Because we can’t know the future, and because we can’t control it, we must learn to trust His explanation of pain, misfortune, tragedy and the lot (as well as the more joyous happenings) as “good” in the long run.

So, weather [intentional spelling] or not, we thank Him for it—whatever it may be. That is the goal of every biblical counselor—to help his counselees understand this precious doctrine and to apply it to every circumstance of life. Just as Greg Dawson did in the book mentioned above. I couldn’t live in contentment without becoming furious with God if I didn’t believe in His providential working. Think carefully about providence; understand it thoroughly; teach it to your counselees so that they may learn to apply it to their circumstances; also help them learn to thank God day by day for their lot in life.

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If You Had It To Do Over Again

“If you had  it to do over again—would you?”

Have you heard people ask this question? Well, of course, it’s stupid.  The answer can only be “Yes.” How could you change past history? You can’t—and you are the you who in the course of history was ordained to be what you are, and do what you do. What they really mean is—given an opportunity to do something or other ­as the person that you are now would you do the same? In many cases, the answer would be “no.” But you will have no chance to go back and alter history as the liberals do in our children’s school books! Besides that—you are what you are and do what you do today because yesterday and the day before you did do what you did and were what you were (good or bad). So let’s stop this sort of asinine thinking and speaking. There is time enough to change the way you live today without thinking about “what ifs” from yesterday.

If you have things to repent about from yesterday that were never set straight—of course, you should repent today. If you have the past where it belongs in the past, then live for today—for the Lord who is giving you each day you live. Think hard about His will expressed in His Word, follow what He commands, and then sit down and relax. If you’ve done what He commands, tomorrow you need not think about what you are doing now, and say, “If I only had it to do again . . .” If yesterday was all; wrong, as I said repent and put it where it ought to be—in the past –and focus on what you are doing right now. Then do what He has commanded you to do (Matthew 28:20).

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God Knows Why

“There must be a reason.”

There always is. And, in this case there’s no difference in that regard.

“Well I, for one, am getting prepared—as much as I can be under such circumstances.”

Me too.

“How are you doing so?”

Pretty much the way everyone else is—except for one very great difference.

“What’s that?”

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Let It Snow

I’m not gloating over the fact that I no longer live in Baltimore where they just had a once-in-a-lifetime-snow. We got rain, and up a bit North of us, a few flurries.

WOW! Snow up to your armpits (if you’re short enough).

I’ve had my fill of shoveling snow—no snow-blowers in my snow days!

What will happen to all of the runoff when the sun comes out and it melts? Bound to be some flooding, if no floods.

God sends what He sends, and we must be satisfied with it. For some reason that snow is a great blessing (ask the kids, they’ll give you some reasons). But, while we must be satisfied with what God sends, we also have some responsibility in the matter of whether or not we get snowed in. Because it’s so unlikely for anyone to have that happen in SC where I now live, I made sure when I moved to take up residence here. I had other reasons, but that was surely a large factor!

This reminds us that we are responsible for the decisions we make. Now, it isn’t possible for everyone to move to SC (thanks for that!), of course. But if you could and you didn’t, well—let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

We’re talking about decisions you make that are based on options that are clearly yours to make—and which you could make either way! How often we complain, blame others, and curse the snow—when whatever it is that we are facing is due to our bad choices. Little more need be said. I’ll leave it there, except to say that before we blame other—or God, as many do—don’t forget who made the decision—you. Yes, you who just got your hat knocked off by a snowball!

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Jonah and the Great Fish

When you think of the book of Jonah, what immediately comes to mind?

“Jonah and the whale.”

Expected. I suppose given the word association test among people who think that they are up on the book, their answers would yield a similar response.

“And even if a person doesn’t know much about the book, one thing is certain, they’d know about that incident!!”

Right you are. But, now, let me ask you a further question: What is the purpose of the book? What’s it really about—at its heart and core? Certainly it isn’t Jonah’s fish-experience—that takes up only a couple of verses in the book. It’s startling, and therefore, memorable, but it isn’t central to the account.

“Well, probably something about Jonah’s disobedience.”

Pretty good. But still not the central message.

“How about repentance of the city of Nineveh? That’s a biggy.”

Correct. It surely is—yet, not the most prominent feature in the book.

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Providential Living

I can say that it is only because of God’s providential working that today I look back on my ministry as primarily a pastoral and teaching one. If you were to ask my wife at the time she married me what she thought we’d be doing for the next 60 years, she’d probably tell you, as she has told me, that she thought I’d become a missionary or a traveling evangelist. Instead, I have, at various times, been a Youth For Christ Director, a pastor, a professor, and an author. I suspect that at the time when I graduated from seminary in 1948, I would have also thought along similar lines as my wife. But only one of these objectives was in view—the pastoral ministry.

How, then, did things change? Not by any deliberate about face. Rather, it was a multitude of little providential happenings that moved me out of one ministry orientation into another. Looking back, I can say that, if what has occurred in my life is typical, God surely rules over each one of us in ways that, at the time, we don’t quite understand, to bring about His will.

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