Jeremiah 29: 11: "For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans for welfare and not for calamity I give you a future and a hope."
The words of an anonymous poet declare an important teaching of Scripture:
"Things don't just happen to those who love God,
They're planned by His own dear hand."
Christians, our lives are not haphazard, and they are not just a series of accidents.
A loving God is working in the life of every Christian.
God has His hand upon us.
He shapes our lives, and guides us according to His perfect plan.
The same poet concludes his poem with these words:
"Things don't just happen to those who love God,
To us who are in His hand
No matter the lot, the course, the price,
Things don't just happen, they're planned."
God's plan is perfect.
It includes just the right proportions of sorrows and joys, and always moves us toward
the perfect goal He has set for us.
We'll understand this more and more as we grow in our understanding of Him.
The great Creator of the universe created the stars, the sun, the moon, and also the earth,
with its elaborate plant and animal life.
- It was no accident.
- It was not haphazard.
- It all went according to God's plan.
God's plan also included the redemption of mankind.
The coming of Jesus to the earth was God's plan.
Paul said in Galatians 4:4:"But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son,
born of a woman, born under the Law."
This plan was conceived in the mind the God before the world began.
John speaks of the plan of redemption in the Book of Revelation, when he describes believers
as those whose names are "written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb
who has been slain." (Revelation 13:8)
God planned His plan, and carried out His plan.
And God has graciously invited us to become a part of that perfect plan with all its bountiful blessings.
God has plan for your life and my life.
And God will lead us each day to fulfill His divine plan for each one of us.
God's plan includes His gracious care for us.
God cares for His children.
God cares for you and for me.
God's Word declares in Romans 8: 28: "And we know that all things work together for good
to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Late one night a professor sat at his desk working on the next day's lectures.
He shuffled through the collection of papers and mail left there by his housekeeper.
He began to throw them in the wastebasket when one green colored magazine
-- not even addressed to him -- caught his attention.
It fell open to an article entitled, "The Needs of the Congo Mission," written by
a man named, Alfred Boegner.
Without knowing why, he began to read it.
Immediately it captured his interest, as he read, "The need is great here.
We have no one to work in the northern province of Gabon in the central Congo.
And it is my prayer, as I write this article, that God will lay His hand on one -- one on whom, already,
the Master's eyes have been cast -- that he or she shall be called to this place to help us."
This professor closed the magazine, laid it aside, and wrote in his diary:
"My search is over."
He gave himself to go to that place.
Who was he?
This man had a doctor's degree in philosophy, in theology, and in music.
He was an accomplished organist, and the world's most famous interpreter of Bach.
He also had a doctor's degree in medicine.
His name was Albert Schweitzer.
That little magazine, intended for another.
- By accident it was put in his mailbox.
- By accident it was placed on his desk by the housekeeper.
- By chance it fell open to the article
- By chance this busy man noticed the title which seemed to leap out at him.
In it all, God's hand was laid upon this reader who would meet the need of the missions
in the central Congo.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer went to French Equatorial Africa and gave his life in service
to the people of that country.
He became one of the great figures of the century, and one of the great Christians
of all times in a work almost unmatched and unparalleled in human history.
Was it by chance?
- By chance -- it happened.
- By chance, a mailman dropped that magazine into the wrong box.
- And by chance, the housekeeper didn't notice that it didn't belong there.
Oh, no, no!
Just as surely as I stand here, it was not by chance, or by accident, or by circumstance,
or just a coincidence.
It all happened by the province of God.
God planned it.
Paul said it in Romans 8: 28.
Here is the answer.
"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them
that are called according to his purpose."
There is no verse in all the Bible that offers greater promise and hope to you and me as Christians.
In all the mixed up circumstances of life, you and I can be absolutely certain that all things
are working together for our good.
Even the most trivial things, the so-called accidents of life -- they are all working together.
Paul is telling us that God works.
God is at work in this world.
God works in the affairs of people.
He has not wound up this universe like an alarm clock, and left it to run itself.
God is in this world.
God is at work.
God is intimately involved in this world.
He is the God of detail.
Every day, every minute of your life, every detail of your life -- God is there!
Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, a preacher, counselor, relates an instance that happened to him.
A woman who was deeply troubled went from her home into the park -- just to get away from everything.
By chance she sat down on a park bench.
There were many park benches, and many were empty.
Why did she sit down on a particular bench?
- On the other end of that bench sat Dr. Weatherhead reading a book.
- Why did he go into that park that morning?
- Why did he sit on that bench?
- Why was he reading a particular book?
- Why was the page open to a particular chapter?
The woman's eye noticed the title of the chapter.
She said, "Excuse me, sir. Your book interests me.
Could you give me the authors name?"
Dr. Weatherhead noticed the despair on her face, the tears in her eyes, and said,
"I can do better than that.
I know the author. I'll give you a card with his name and address.
Please, go and see him for he will talk with you."
She saw Dr. Weatherhead.
The meeting with Dr. Weatherhead had wonderful results.
A bitter argument was resolved between her and her husband.
Their marriage was restored.
Their home once again had love and stability.
Three children had a father and mother who loved them and each other.
All of this came about -- by chance? By accident?
Oh, no, no!
It came about because a loving God cares for all our needs.
God is at work in even the tiniest of circumstances.
There is nothing so minute and so insignificant, but that God will be involved in it.
God is here -- right here!
God works for good!
Notice, Paul does not say all things are good that happen in life.
Of course not.
Bitterness, heartbreak, disappointment and sorrow, hatred and persecution, death, defeat
and hard work that produces nothing -- these things are not good.
Neither does Paul say that all good things produce good results.
- Sometimes, good things turn out bad.
- Sometimes, opportunities turn into disadvantages.
- Sometimes, the good things in life can become curses to us.
- Sometimes, our prosperity, our affluence, our success that should be blessings can turn
into hurts and hindrances.
Paul is saying there are bad things that are bad; there are good things that can become bad,
but in everything, God has a plan and He fits everything together, and the ultimate ending will be good.
It was a bad day when Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery.
That was cruel and heartless.
But one day, those same brothers with their aging father stood before Joseph in Egypt.
Now he was a ruler, and God used Joseph to give food to his dying people.
Joseph said to his brothers, "Fear not. It was not you that sent me here, but God."
God was at work.
It was a bad day when Paul was shipwrecked, not just once, but three different times.
It was bad every time.
It was bad when Paul was beaten.
He was beaten not just once, but five times.
It was bad when he was stoned.
It was bad when his friends turned against him.
Many bad things happened to Paul, but Paul looked at them all and said,
"My God is so great, He can take them all and put them together for good.
All things that happened in my life have been for the furtherance of the gospel."
Maybe, someone is saying, "I can't see it. I can't understand that."
At the time we're going through these bad things and bad times, it is difficult for us to see
that anything good could come to us.
But when we can see the whole plan of God from beginning to end, you and I will declare
that God has worked all things for our good.
All things work together for our good as Christians.
They worked together for the good of Joseph.
They worked together for the good of Paul, and they work together for our good.
How do we know this?
That terrible tragedy that happened to you -- what's good about it?
Those bad things that have... -- what's good about them?
You probably answer that you don't know.
But I know!
So, I know that He loves me, and that whatever He is doing -- it is for good.
- I know that God loves me.
- He loves me so much that He sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for my sins.
- He gave Himself for me on that cross.
- He suffered in my place on that cross.
Because that is the kind of heavenly Father that we have.
God gave Christ to die for us -- the greatest thing that He can do for us.
Since He did that much, and loved us like that, how much more we can expect Him to do
If He loves us that much and has promised to care for us, even in the little things of life, then He will do it.
That is how we know.
A California woman in a Glendale restaurant almost choked to death while eating lunch.
She could not exhale.
This condition lasted a minute and a half.
A man rushed from across the room, and gave her a sharp blow across the back.
She said, "It was like a miracle. Almost instantly, I was okay."
She said that in brief time she was praying for help, and God sent this man in answer to her prayer.
She simply said, "Thank you, sir, you saved my life."
The man left the restaurant.
A waitress came over to the woman, and said, "That man has lunch here every Wednesday
for the past 11 years.
Today is Thursday.!"
Was that just a coincidence -- just blind luck?
Or was it God's miraculous care and answer to the prayer of this lady?
God took this bad incident, which could have been tragic, and worked it out for this woman's good.
"Just when I need Him, Jesus is near.
Just when I falter, just when I fear..."
None of us need to be victims of circumstances.
Not one of us need to go through life believing that we are victims of fate, or victims of bad luck.
Good things and bad things will happen to you and me.
Good things and bad things will happen to the saved and unsaved.
But, as a believer, I know something.
I know that all things work together for the good in my life.
Because I know God.
Because I know Jesus.
I know what He has done for me.
All things work together for the good of those that love God and are called according
to His purposes.
When we place ourselves in the center of His will.
When we are obedient and surrendered to our God, that is the crucial issue.
- The issue is not the goodness of God.
- The issue is not the providential care and love of God for you and me.
- There is no question about that. That is real!
The issue is: Have we put ourselves in a position to receive God's loving care and be blessed by it?
Do you really want peace and joy and fulfillment in your life?
Do you really want purpose and satisfaction?
You won't find it in sin.
You want find it in outward sin and rebellion against God.
Things will not work out for good if there is sin in your life -- conscious, unconfessed sin.
You will not find it with malice, with bitterness, and hostility in your heart.
You will not find it by sitting on the sidelines when God says, "Forsake not the
assembling of yourselves together..." when God calls you to be a part of a loving fellowship of believers.
When you are outside the church with the attitude of letting others do the work of the kingdom,
and you remain a spectator, you will not find the peace and joy and fulfillment that God gives.
You will find it when you move into the center of the will of God.
You'll find it when you say, "Today, to the best of my capacity and knowledge and ability,
I surrender to the will of God in my life."
Surrender now, and know that "all things work together for the good of them that love God,
and to the called according to his purpose."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White