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2015-11 Man Proposes, God Disposes

Man Proposes; God Disposes

At the height of his military career, Napoleon was asked if God was on the side of France.  The world conqueror cynically replied: "God is on the side with the heaviest artillery."  Then came Waterloo!!  Napoleon not only lost that battle but his empire as well.  Years later, in exile on the island of St. Helena, the broken military genius humbly acknowledged:  "Man proposes; God disposes."  Thus, in a painfully abrasive rub with reality, Napoleon came to believe in the sovereignty of God, and in the truth of Proverbs 21:31 which reads: "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord."

Reflecting upon the circumstances of life, every clear-thinking person will, on occasion, ask the pertinent question: "Who's really in charge around here?"

In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, American theologian and Biblical scholar, A W Tozer, put it like this:  "An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool.  Its destination has been determined by proper authorities.  Nothing can change it.  This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty.  On board the liner are several scores of passengers.  These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree.  They are completely free to move about on the deck, read, talk, altogether as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a pre-determined port. Both freedom and        sovereignty are present here and they do not contradict each other.  So it is, I believe, with man's freedom and the sovereignty of God.  The mighty liner of God's sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history.  God moves undisturbed and unhindered toward the fulfilment of those eternal purposes which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began.  We do not know all that is included in these purposes, but enough has been disclosed to furnish us with a broad outline of things to come and to give us good hope and firm assurance of future well-being."

Understanding the pre-determined nature of our destination, it seems prudent to use our ‘freedom’ whilst on the deck of the liner of life to secure a safe passage to, and a permanent docking in, the harbour of heaven.  This we can do by embracing the Lord Jesus Christ, whose coming we celebrate at Christmas time.

Revd. Doug Atherton



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