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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Arkansas mountain view
Oark, Arkansas

"The Assurance Of God's Providence"

Message summary: God is always active in His children, working out even the most difficult situations for our good. What blessed assurance when "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). That's the assurance of God's providence!

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"Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him" (Genesis 37:20). "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20). "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

A friend of mine had an interesting experience. He was eating lunch in a restaurant with another friend and candidly shared with him his attempts to get another job. Unbeknownst to my friend, after he had been seated, the son of the company owner he worked for had sat down directly behind him!

Although my friend was sharing discreetly he nevertheless was overheard by the owner's son who reported the employee's conversation back to the owner (his dad). Needless to say my friend was unemployed a bit quicker than he had intended. Although he was hoping to move on from his current job he didn't expect to do so that quickly! I heard from him later that he soon got another job and was then able to chuckle about this "act of providence".

Last month David, a reader from Arizona, sent me a book by John Piper simply titled "Providence". At over 700 pages it will be quite a slog to read the entire book but I find blessing from the description on the cover.

"From Genesis to Revelation the providence of God directs the course of redemptive history. Providence is 'God's purposeful sovereignty'. Its extent reaches down to the flight of electrons, up to the movements of galaxies, and into the heart of man. Its nature is wise and just and good. And its goal is the Christ-exalting glorification of God through the gladness of a redeemed people in a new world.

Consider how God uses events in our lives and the actions of others that may, at the time, seem to make no sense at all. It could be a mistake on our part or the malicious attempts of others to do us harm, but God is always at work for the ultimate good of His children. However, we may very well see nothing at all "good" about it in the short term. Some of you are in the midst of that "short term" as you read this.

R.C. Sproul, in his book "The Invisible Hand", points out that "the doctrine of concurrence refers to historical events in which the work of Providence has been acted out through human agencies. That means at the same time human agents are acting, God is acting in and through them." This is true in our own lives as well. He's still the same God at work in our lives!

When we are hurt our faith and character are tested by how we respond. We must settle this question. Is God really in charge or not? Of course He's in charge, absolutely, all the time, even when we make a mistake or others seek to hurt us.

Joseph is a perfect example of providence at work. He certainly experienced the emotional pain of rejection and mistreatment, and he had a long, long wait to see God's plan come about. Just consider having brothers who would scheme together and say to their younger brother,
"Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him" (Genesis 37:20).

Yet Joseph stayed faithful and when things finally came to a head he could assure his fearful brothers,  "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20). He realized that although his brothers had intended him harm (which they certainly did) God has a wonderful way of over-riding the intents of others to fulfill His overall purpose.

Some of you reading this are stinging with hurt and the root of bitterness is growing. You must get a grip. We are in the middle of the story and that's where our faith is especially critical. Like Joseph others may certainly intend to hurt us. The difficult circumstances of life also seem to bring us harm.

However, our God is always active in His children, working out even the most difficult situations for our good. What blessed assurance when "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). That's the assurance of God's providence!

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I am so very thankful that You inspired Moses to record the events that took place in Joseph's life. Many times I've read his story and it brought personal awareness that You had an overall plan for me even when I was quite perplexed about my own situation. Joseph reminds me that obedience to You may come with a mighty big price tag, even unfair consequences. The very sin Joseph was intent in avoiding, he was accused of by one who was lying. I'm so thankful that he did not grow bitter and turn his back on You, but rather He permitted You to develop his leadership skills even while in prison. And those leadership skills would serve him well years later during Israel's famine. I wonder how many hardened hearts were changed by simply spending time with him in his prison duties. Remind me that when I'm in the midst of unfair circumstances I can also impact others and I'm also in training for the higher goal of Your sovereign plan for my life that may be played out years in the future.  Help me to find ways to be thankful rather than bitter. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Trust His Heart"  Video  Newsong  Brooksyne's note: I remember when I first heard this song in 1992 as I was praying at my kitchen table.  God had revealed to Stephen and me that He wanted us to move on in our ministry, but He had not shown us when or where the place was to be. As I listened intently to these words I was reminded that our future was in His hands and in the midst of our uncertainty we could "trust His heart." It was a very memorable spiritual experience and I pray that this truth will minister to your needs as well.

God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don't understand,
When you don't see His plan,
When you can't trace His hand,
Trust His heart.

All things work for our good,
Though sometimes we can't see how they could.
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blind us to the truth,
Our Father knows what's best for us;
His ways are not our own.
So when your pathway grows dim,
And you just can't see Him, remember, you're never alone,

He sees the master plan.
He holds the future in His hands.
So don't live as those who have no hope;
All our hope is found in Him.
We see the present clearly,
But He sees the first and the last.
And like a tapestry, He's weaving you and me
To someday be just like Him.

"Same God"  Video  Kristy Montgomery & Woodlands Worship  We have been singing this song in our church and it has sure ministered to us the last several months that indeed God is still the same God!

David Penley, a friend who taught for many years at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth Texas, pointed out the photo we posted yesterday was from their campus.

Franisz, an observant reader from Indonesia noted regarding the photo, "It's Indonesia at the center, and Lord Jesus Christ loves Indonesia (a nation with thousand of islands, as well as the largest Muslim population country), too, amen."

Today we share some photos and notes from Brooksyne's trip to Oklahoma and Arkansas to see family. She returned late yesterday afternoon.

Arkansas barn
This old barn reminds us both of our childhood visits to our grandparents: Brooksyne's in mountainous Arkansas and Stephen's in rural southwest Missouri. It just seems like there were (and are) a lot of midwestern and southern barns with rusty roofs!

Arkansas mailboxes
My grandparents, who owned 200 acres in Batson (Mountain Top, AR)  lived on a dirt road about three miles from their mailbox. During our visits from OK Grandpa Sherrell would saddle up his horses so my siblings and I could ride the horses to pick up their mail. Many times there were blackberries along the way so we pulled over the horses and ate blackberries to our heart's content. I took a photo last week of the twenty mailboxes that replace Grandpa's one mailbox. The population of the mountain has grown, many of them my own kin folk. If you can make out the posted sign it tells the service times at Sherrellville Church, the church my grandpa was building when he suffered a massive heart attack and died at 82 years of age. His funeral was the first service to be held in that church which is now over 40 years old.

Brooksyne with her brother Jody
Jody and I sitting on a big rock at the 40 acre property my parents inherited upon my grandpa's death. Jody inherited the property from my folks and has a cabin there where I stayed with Ester and my sister, Elaine, for several days, (he resides in Tulsa). I enjoyed petting the donkey, mule and horses that graze in Jody's pasture land and even cleaned the secretions from their eyes each morning. After having Sadie, our shih tzu dog, for three years, I am in the habit of cleaning the secretion from her eyes just about everyday, so why not the horses in place of her. There has been no rain for many weeks on the mountain so the dust is plentiful and probably an irritant to the animals' eyes.

Oark Cafe
Oark Cafe is the oldest continuous operation store in Arkansas, established in 1890. It has the original floors, walls and ceiling. In my childhood, before Daddy drove us twenty miles on dirt roads up the mountain to see my grandparents, he always stopped by the Oark Store so we could buy orange pop and peanuts. It is now a cafe with a few groceries for campers and a fun place to meet with family members.

Oark Cafe
Here we are with family members who are now in their retirement years. Where did time go! Three of my cousins pastored churches in the area and others farmed.

Aunt Violet
Me and my siblings with our 96 year old Aunt Violet, my dad's oldest sibling - only three still living. What a delight to see her and my Uncle Carroll, though we visit over the phone several times a year.

Aunt Violet brought me two quarts of sorghum molasses which our family ate most every breakfast morning while I was growing up. Molasses I often buy but I can't find sorghum here in the northeast and it does taste a bit different than molasses. After telling her over the phone about how much I miss it she brought me two quarts. Imagine wrapping two quarts of sorghum in a suitcase and fearing the worst when the workers throw my bags on the conveyer belt at the airport. But it was worth taking a chance and the bags with the jars arrived safely without breakage or leakage. Whew! It sure was tasty this morning on our biscuits at breakfast.

Oark Cafe
Ester with one of her favorite uncles, Jody. He is the "baby" of my family.

Brooksyne's grandpa
While visiting my Uncle Carroll he proudly showed us the memorial he has on his shelf of Grandpa's "famous" and well worn hat. I can hardly remember seeing him without it on his head. The plaque touched my heart as I read it and knew it to be true. He truly is my greatest inspiration for following Jesus:

George Elbert Sherrell

Was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend.
His love for Christ showed in everything he did.
He was a prayer warrior who built Sherrellville Church
for all to serve and praise the Lord.
He loved to walk the mountains and valleys of his
beloved home in Batson, AR.
Hard work was a way of life and you could see it
in His calloused hands and sun weathered face.
He was married to Fay Harmon Sherrell and their children were
Violet, Elberta, Brooklyn, Ramona, Bonnie and Carroll their baby.
Elbert was born September 5, 1899
and went to be with the Lord on March 10, 1981.
He is forever loved and remembered.
John 3:16

Brooksyne in Dad's truck
When I got to Tulsa my brother, Jody, got my dad's old '96 Ford pick up and running so I could drive it over the days I visited family in the Tulsa area. It sure brought back some great memories as my dad was so proud of his "new" truck at the time before his death in 2000.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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