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When Sermon Illustrations Come To Life…

So, I mentioned yesterday that God’s will is known to be certain only in hindsight and volunteered that I was traveling to Brisbane and I’d know it was God’s will that I go there when I arrived.

I took this photo of Rundle Mall on my morning walk today intending to contrast it with, perhaps, the Queen St Mall in Brisbane.

Instead, I’ll include this photo of Melbourne.

Our direct flight was cancelled and we’ve been transferred on a two-step flight with an arrival time five hours or so later than intended. We’ll go (hopefully, if it’s God’s will) directly from the airport to the opening service of assembly.

Such is the stuff sermon illustrations are made of.

By the way, this is why I travel qantas when I get the choice, replacement booking, food voucher, help in other ways. Their customer service is outstanding.

Anyway, later there’ll be photos from Brisbane.

I hope.


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Living Between ‘Personal Power’ And ‘Presuming Providence’ (via Mike Emlet)

Mike Emlet encourages us to find the line that has trust in God’s providence on one side, and reliance on our effort and initiative on the other.

it’s easy to become imbalanced and to drift into either the “power mode” or the “presumption mode.” In the power mode, we take charge of our lives as though human responsibility were the only piece of the equation. Overplanning is common in this scenario. Here there is a functional absence of a sovereign God—we, of course, acknowledge God’s sovereignty, but practically speaking, it doesn’t affect our daily lives. On the other hand, there is a magnified emphasis on secondary causes. As a result of these imbalances, we may be tempted toward anxiety, fear, over-control, over-responsibility, perfectionism, and anger. Why? Because we think it’s all up to us.
In the presumption mode, we let go of our lives as though God’s sovereignty were the only piece of the equation. Little or no planning is common. Here there is a magnified emphasis on God’s sovereignty but a functional absence of secondary causes. As a result of these imbalances, we may be tempted toward laziness, passivity, stoicism, fatalism, and indecision. Why? Because we think it’s all up to God.
Scripture steers clear of either extreme. We are called to live neither by power nor by presumption. God’s Word provides an alternative: prudence. Prudence involves wise and prayerful planning. It is characterized by a robust view of God’s sovereignty and providence—He is responsible. Further, it retains a proper emphasis on secondary causes—I am responsible, too. We see this dual emphasis throughout the entire Bible. Time and time again, Scripture calls us to trust God’s providential care and to plan well and work hard in various spheres of life.

Read the whole article at Ligonier.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 9

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 9

Chapter 5 – Of Providence cont. (Paragraphs 5-7)
V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, does often times leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.
VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, does blind and harden; from them he not only withholds his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings,and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraws the gifts which they had; and exposes them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God uses for the softening of others.
VII. As the providence of God does, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it takes care of his Church, and disposes all things to the good thereof.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 8

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 8

Chapter 5 – Of Providence (Paragraphs 1-4)
I. God, the great Creator of all things, does uphold, direct dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
II. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet, by the same providence, he orders them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
III. God, in his ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.
IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extends itself even to the first Fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 6

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 6

Chapter 3 – Of God’s Eternal Decree
Cont. (Paragraphs 5 – 8)
V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.
VI. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
VII. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extends or withholds mercy as he pleases, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.
VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending to the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 5

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 5

Chapter 3 – Of God’s Eternal Decree (Paragraphs 1 – 4)
I. God from all eternity did by the most and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions; yet has he not decreed any thing because he foresaw it as future, as that which would come to pass, upon such conditions.
III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.
IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it can not be either increased or diminished.


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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 7

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 7

Q & A 18
Q What are God’s works of providence?
A God’s works of providence are his most holy,1 wise,2 and powerful preserving3 and governing4 all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions,5 to his own glory.6

*1 Psalm 145:17.
*2 Psalm 104:24; Isaiah 28:29.
*3 Hebrews 1:3.
*4 Psalm 103:19.
*5 Matthew 10:29-31; Genesis 45:7.
*6 Romans 11:36; Isaiah 63:14.