November 12

God’s Secret Purposes 

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand…A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way.”(Proverbs 19:21; 20:24)

I am still on the road, away from home by design to see a town I was curious about but had never seen. I am pretty sure I will return home today, but I cannot eliminate the possibility that God may have a different plan for me (which I pray will not come to pass, since the only imaginable thing to deter me would be difficulty driving). However, my plans with my traveling companion may change before we leave town if our local destinations aren’t what we imagined or are closed. The Lord may use even small, mundane arrangements in ways we cannot imagine. In August we considered Proverbs 19:21 with respect to disciplining our children, not knowing how the Lord might use our training in their lives. Are we not under the same rule of God’s providence, if we are walking with him through our faith in Jesus Christ?

God is divinely sovereign, and we are wise when we seek to align our choices and decisions with God’s instructions for living faithfully, submitting to the teachings of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit. If we are devoted to a gospel-centered life, God will disrupt our designs with his superior plans for our good and the good of others. He works through circumstances and the needs of others, through illness, tragedies, prosperity, accomplishments, quiet times, corporate prayer and worship, confession, Bible study, and (hopefully) devotions. If we are wise, we examine what we do and what we plan to do in light of what God may be doing in our lives. Proverbs is about living wisely with the Lord, and we rejoice that when we do so, it is God’s most excellent purposes that prevail.

“’How can a man then understand his way?’” the Lord’s way, not man’s; the way of the Lord in providence, which is as the deep, and unsearchable; and the way of life and salvation by Christ, which is of the Lord’s devising and resolving on; this way of peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life, is not known by the natural man; and when it is externally revealed in the word, and by the outward ministry of it, it is not understood so as to be approved of, but is despised, unless God gives a heart to know it.” * We contrive foundations and NGOs to solve the problems of the poor and committees to fix issues in our communities and churches. We give money to good causes and research, enjoy life and all the gifts God gives us, minister to those who don’t know the Lord, and memorialize those who have died. Thousands of books on Christianity, study Bibles, and Bible studies are published every year. In all these undertakings, God has his secret, hidden plans that he is perfectly orchestrating.

What are your plans for today, this week, or this year? Do you care more about your plans or the Lord’s purposes? How can you yield faithfully for the sake of God’s secret plans this week?

* John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 20:24,

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