God Even Uses Your Mistakes
God Even Uses Your Mistakes
The Indian born, Canadian-American evangelist, Ravi Zacharias, recalls a visit he made to a place known for making the best wedding saris in the world: ‘With such intricacy of detail, I expected to see some elaborate system of machines that would boggle the mind in production. But this image could not have been further from the real scene. Each sari was made individually by a father and son team. The father sat above the son on a platform, surrounded by several spools of thread that he would gather into his fingers. The son had only one task. At a nod from his father, he would move the shuttle from one side to the other and back again. This would then be repeated for hundreds of hours, until a magnificent pattern began to emerge.
‘The son certainly had the easier task. He was only to move at the father’s nod. But making use of these efforts, the father was working to an intricate end. All along, he had the design in his mind and was bringing the right threads together.’
Ravi Zacharias ends the story by saying, ‘God alone can weave a pattern from the disparate threads of our lives – whether suffering, success, joy, or heartache – and fashion a magnificent design. Perhaps today, if you will stop and reflect on it, you will see that the Father is seeking to weave a beautiful tapestry in your life.’
Job said, ‘You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit’ (Job 10:12). Everything that happens in this world is within the sphere of God’s working. ‘Providence’ means God’s foresight: the way he anticipates and prepares for the future. ‘Providence’ is the way God guides and steers human history – he is present and active in the world – sustaining it and ruling it.
It is also the way he guides and steers your life personally and individually. As the apostle Paul wrote, ‘In all things God works for the good for those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). Even your mistakes he uses for good. In all the circumstances of your life and the events going on around you, you can trust in the providence of God.
Providence and prayerPsalm 72:1-20
Your prayers make a difference. Not only do they affect your own life but they can also affect the course of history.
How providence and prayer work together is a mystery. In some extraordinary way, your prayers affect the outcome of events. God is sovereign and works out his purposes through history. Yet he involves you in this process.
This psalm is David’s prayer for his son and successor, King Solomon. It was a strong reminder of his high calling. Yet it goes beyond what is humanly attainable. For example, ‘He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations’ (v.5). His reign is eternal and universal (v.8). Ultimately, it was only fulfilled in the Messiah, God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
This psalm is a prayer for blessing on the king and through him that all the people will be blessed with ‘prosperity’ (v.3). The good leader will be concerned about poverty and justice: ‘Please stand up for the poor, help the children of the needy, come down hard on the cruel tyrants’ (v.4, MSG). It is also a prayer that in his foreign policy ‘all nations will be blessed through him’ (v.17).
David says, ‘May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long’ (v.15b). It is clear that God’s blessing on the leader will come as people pray for him. How this works we do not know. However, it shows that praying really does make a difference. In his providence, God takes your prayers and uses them to bring blessing.
Lord, thank you that prayer makes a difference. I pray for our leaders whom you have set over us. Give them grace and wisdom. Enrich their lives that they may be a source of strength and inspiration, and promote your honour and glory.
Providence and prophecyActs 7:20-43
We see in this passage the extraordinary way in which God planned and prepared for the coming of Jesus. God in his providence foresees the future, and so in a mysterious way anticipates, prepares for it and guides it. Therefore, you can trust God’s providence in all the events and circumstances of your life.
Stephen’s speech rehearses the ways in which God had guided and watched over Israel’s history, and through it prepared for Jesus’ coming. In this section, he focuses particularly on Moses.
Moses had said that God would raise up a prophet like him (Deuteronomy 18:15). Peter has already applied this to Jesus (Acts 3:22–23). Now Stephen does the same. He says, ‘This is that Moses who told the Israelites, “God will send you a prophet like me from your own people”’ (7:37).
Moses was a ‘type’ of Christ. He foreshadowed and prepared the way. There are at least fifteen similarities between Moses and Jesus:
- Like Jesus, Moses was ‘no ordinary child’ (v.20). The circumstances surrounding the births of both Moses and Jesus were appropriately extraordinary.
- Like Jesus (Matthew 2:16–17), Moses was born at a time when newborn babies were being killed off (Acts 7:19–21).
- Like Jesus (Luke 2:40), Moses was noted for his wisdom (Acts 7:22).
- Like Jesus (John 7:46), Moses was ‘powerful in speech and action’ (Acts 7:22).
- Like Jesus, Moses had a season of preparation. We know little about the first thirty years of either of their lives. Both spent this time being trained for the task ahead (vv.22–23).
- Like Jesus (John 2:16), Moses showed righteous anger at sin (Acts 7:24). However, unlike Jesus, Moses committed a crime. But God, in his providence, even used this mistake.
- Like Jesus (John 1:11), Moses was sent by God to rescue his people, but was not recognised as such at the time. ‘Moses thought that his own people would realise that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not’ (Acts 7:25).
- Like Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:19), Moses aimed at reconciliation: Moses ‘tried to reconcile them’ (Acts 7:26).
- Like Jesus (John 5:22), Moses is described as ruler and judge. It was said to Moses, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?’ (Acts 7:27).
- Like Jesus (Luke 3:22), Moses heard the Lord’s voice (Acts 7:31).
- Like Jesus (John 1:14; 2:21), Moses recognised that the holy place was not in a specific religious location, but where God is present. For Moses this was at the burning bush for God said, ‘The place where you are standing is holy ground’ (Acts 7:33).
- Like Jesus (John 8:36), Moses set the people free from oppression (Acts 7:34).
- Like Jesus (4:11), Moses was misunderstood and rejected by his own people: ‘Moses whom they had rejected... they rejected him’ (7:35,39).
- Like Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:10), Moses succeeded in delivering his own people. Moses ‘led them out of Egypt’ (Acts 7:36).
- Like Jesus (2:36), Moses’ rejection brought God’s judgment, but led to eventual victory (7:42). As the apostle Peter put it on the day of Pentecost, ‘God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ’ (2:36).
Lord, thank you for the astonishing way in which you work your purposes out through history and through your prophets like Moses. Today, I trust in your providence over all the events and circumstances in my life.
Providence and protection2 Samuel 16:15-18:18
You can trust God with your future, your family, your church and your nation. The whole universe is in his hands and he is working his purposes out.
God is at work through all the human events that are described here.
The advice Ahithophel gave ‘was like that of one who enquires of God’ (16:23). If we are to give advice of any value, we have to be people who enquire of the Lord, in advance, what God is doing and what his will is.
If Absalom had followed Ahithophel’s advice, it would have been disastrous for David. Instead, Absalom chose to ignore Ahithophel’s wise advice and follow the bad advice of Hushai.
We see how God’s providential care and protection was around David: ‘For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel’ (17:14). This was an answer to the spirit of David’s prayer.
Here we see that God is the hidden hand and ruler of history. David and all the other people involved in the drama had enormous power and freedom to act. But they were not free to act as though the Lord was not there.
Thank you, Lord, that you are in charge of human history. You reign and rule over this universe. Thank you that in all things, including our mistakes, you work for the good of those who love you and who have been called according to your purpose (Romans 8:28).
2 Samuel 16:15–18:18
What was Absalom’s problem? He had everything. He was handsome, wealthy and powerful. How could he have got to a position of wanting to kill his father? He was angry at David’s handling of the Amnon situation. He was proud, envious and jealous. Because of Absalom’s actions 20,000 men died (18:7). One person’s anger can cause so much damage. Our attitudes affect the lives of the people around us. We can sow hate or we can sow love.
Verse of the Day
‘Kneel and pray… get yourself ready; I’m sending you’ (Acts 7:33–34, MSG).
Ravi Zacharias story: http://www.rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/from-disparate-threads/
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.