Sermon by Rev. Lance Filio
Last Lord’s Day, we learned about God’s providence and sovereignty. We heard about God making the lot as well as the crooks in it and God gave us afflictions according to his purpose. We were exhorted to renew our minds when afflictions come and receive God comforting purposes over the matter.
We’ve completed going through three of God’s purposes for the crooks in our lot. We’ve established how God placed them in our paths in order to: 1) Test our faith; 2) Orient us to heaven; 3) Convict us our sins.
We will continue with the rest of the four reasons for God permitting crooks in our lot and later end with the third point of our sermon which comments about the proper response when affliction namely humility.
Again, let us pray before we continue.
God is sovereign over all our afflictions
God permits afflictions in our lives in order to: 4) Correct us in sins; 5) Prevent us from sinning; 6) Discover our own sinfulness; 7) Exercise God’s grace in our lives.
To summarize these remaining reasons from 4 to 7, let me take them as unit and comment on it as a whole.
God punishes sin with sin. He allows them in order to demonstrate both his justice and mercy. God permits crooks in our lot temporarily to display his displeasure over our sins. He also appoints them in order to restrains us from further destruction. While none of them completely plunges us towards death, God deems it necessary for us take this journey towards perdition to teach us a lesson. He wants us to understand our own iniquity. He desires for us to mature in our faith. He molds us to hate sin and love his righteousness. In the end, God provides these crooked path to build our character. He supplies us with his grace in order to live not with sight but by faith. He proves himself to be sufficient for us both in our justification as well our sanctification. Our journey towards glorification may have been laid with crooks in it but God made sure to provide us with his grace to persevere until end.
After Eli’s heart operation, things in my own life got complicated as well. We need to pay the big debt we incurred from it. It was a big burden to bear specially Nikki had to eventually resigned from her job during this period because it was a delicate pregnancy. After regaining her health from her c-section operation, she began looking for a job and it was so difficult. We had to settle for a less than ideal offer and waited for other job opportunities along the way. On my end, I had to take a higher paying job which later on proved to be a disaster because I was not competent then for it. I had to resign and was jobless for less than a year before finally getting a lower paying job at Skycable.
I remember then crying to God asking why allow this to happen to us. Were we not faithful serving him and his church? Looking back now, I have discovered a latent corruption in my own heart. It was self-righteousness. I did not think I deserve temporal punishment from God because I served him. I foolishly placed merit on my works expecting only but blessing in return. My self-righteous attitude made me think I am sovereign over God but my crook proved me wrong. God is sovereign and I am only living because of his mercy because I am a sinner. I don’t really deserve anything good from him except what he determined for himself to give because of his grace and if He allows adversity to lay hold of me I can trust it is for my good. It is foolish to think I can do a better job than God. God alone is wise and good. His providence proves good and wise for all his people.
God calls us to live humbly before Him
We end our lesson about God’s providence and sovereign with our response of humility before him. But again before we continue, I would like to balance these things with a point of clarification. We may ask does this lead us to life of determinism and fatality? Are you saying we just live and let God?
No. Determinism and fatalism teach us to resign whenever we face adversity while our doctrine of providence teaches us to face them with humility. The former charges God of evil while the latter upholds his goodness and wisdom. Rather than just letting “nature takes it course”, we are called to live faithfully to God regardless of any situation we are in, either in prosperity and even in adversity.
This is the lesson the book of Job teaches. We are encouraged to be thankful in prosperity but at the same time, patient in adversity (Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 10). In Job 1: 9 Satan challenges God over this matter. He questions the demonstration of faith of God’s people. He premises Jobs obedience to God is solely based on God blessing him with prosperity. So God allow Satan to place unimaginable adversities over Job so see whether he will still remain faithful. Will Job abandon his faith towards God? Will Job charge God of being unfaithful or worst doing evil towards him? No. For in the end of chapter, our writer concludes: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong (verses 20-22).”
The crook in our lot is made by God to teach us the good lesson of humility. It is an opportunity for every believer to learn from it the proper way of submitting our will to God. Accepting the crooks in our lot, while proves difficult, helps us face them with faithfulness and patience. Boston exhorts: “The crook in the lot, rightly improved, has turned to the best account, and made the best time to some that ever they had all their life long, as the Psalmist from his own experience testifies: “Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I have kept Your word. ” There are many now in heaven who are blessing God for the crook they had in their lot here. What a sad thing must it then be to lose this teeth-wind for Immanuel’s land!”. While the unregenerate and hypocrites neglect or even despise crooks in their lots, the believing regenerate will always welcome them and face them with humility. They submit to the sovereign hand of God. So take heart Christian, God is good and wise even at times of adversity.
ZCRC(Imus), God is sovereign. He allows adversity in our lives in order to demonstrate his faithfulness and to help us live humbly before him. May the Lord continue to teach us his providence. Amen.
Rev. Lance Filio is a minister of the Word and Sacraments at Zion Cornerstone Reformed Church (Imus). He finished his Bachelor Degree in Electronics Engineering at Mapua Institute of Technology and He is currently taking his Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) at MINTS. He lives in Taguig City, Philippines with his wife and three children.