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2021 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - A Great Promise for the New Year

David Jeremiah - A Great Promise for the New Year


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David Jeremiah - A Great Promise for the New Year

In the northeastern United States, codfish are not only delectable, they are a big commercial business. There's a market for eastern cod all over, especially in sections the furthest removed from the northeast coast. But the public demand poses a big problem to the shippers. At first, they froze the cod and then shipped them elsewhere, but the freeze took away the flavor. So, they experimented with shipping them alive in tanks of seawater, but that proved even worse. Not only was it more expensive, the cod lost its flavor and, in addition, they became soft and mushy, and the texture of the fish was seriously affected.

Finally, some creative soul solved the problem in the most innovative manner. The codfish were placed in the tank of water along with their natural enemy, the catfish, and from the time the cod left the East Coast until it arrived at the westernmost destination, those ornery catfish chased the cod all over the tank. And you guessed it. When the cod arrived at the market, they were as fresh as when they were first caught. There was no loss of flavor. There was no texture affected. If anything, it was even better than before. True story.

Couple of questions seem worth asking. Can you name some catfish swimming in your tank? Maybe you live with one of them, or it's somebody at work whose irritating presence drives you to your knees several times every week. Or, God forbid, even the church has a few catfish. They're here to keep all the cod from getting soft, mushy, and tasteless. Anyway, our sermon today should help you understand why the catfish show up sometimes in your life. According to Paul, even when that happens, God is still in charge, and he has never lost control.

Listen to Paul's words from one of the most famous verses in all of the Bible, verse 28 of Romans 8. "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose". Now, before we unpack this verse, let's just notice upfront the simplicity of it. I mean, the simplicity of Romans 8:28 is truly stunning. It's made up of the plainest one-syllable words in the English language, words that you would see on the reading chart of a first-grade classroom. Of the 25 words, 22 of them are simple 1-syllable words, yet in these 25 humble words are the greatest truths to be found anywhere in the Scripture.

Romans 8:28 is the foundation stone of the very workings of your destiny and mine. It is both our birthmark and our epitaph. Christians cling to this verse during the difficult times of their lives like you would cling to a life raft in a stormy sea, so here from this verse are five great truths to launch you into confidence and excitement. Number one, this is a definite promise. The verse begins "and we know". How incredibly important it is to know.

In this age where people say you can't know anything for sure, where truth and knowledge seem to have taken a backseat to errors and opinions, I am here to tell you that what you know is important. We want to know what we know, and here we are told something we can know. We don't have to hope or hypothesize or hallucinate. We don't postulate, speculate, or fabricate. We don't toss and turn in anxiety. We just simply know. We know God, we know his providence, and we know we can trust his provision. The phrase "we know" is used five times in the book of Romans. Paul says that you and I can know beyond all doubt that every aspect of our lives is in the hand of God and will divinely be used by the Lord not only to manifest his glory, but to work out our own ultimate blessing.

Donald Grey Barnhouse, who wrote prolifically on the book of Romans, said it would be wonderful if all things worked together for our good without our knowing it, and we just found it out later. But it is possible here and now for us to know that all things work together for our good, and to lay hold of this fact, he said, is to calm the turbulence of life, to bring quiet and confidence into the whole of life. Nothing can touch me unless it passes through the will of God. God has a plan for my life, and he is working according to a fixed, eternal purpose. We can know.

Now, earlier in this context, Paul has spoken of other things we can know, but it's interesting, in verse 26, he tells us something we can't know. In the context of what we can know is a Word about what we can't know. Notice verse 26. "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought"... Now, the adjacency of these two verses close to each other is not an accident, one about knowing and the other about not knowing, for here is the difficult road that we walk on as believers. While we can know that God is ultimately in control of our lives, we don't know the details, and we can't see what he's up to. And in our day-to-day experience, we don't even know how to pray about it sometimes. Can I get a witness?

One of the paradoxical things about being a Christian is this: we are often the most certain about the ultimate when we are the most uncertain about the immediate. I mean, I know what God's up to, and I know that one day I'm gonna be with him in heaven. I know he's got control of my life, but he doesn't let me in on the details of the day-to-day experience. So, I have to believe with all of my heart that while I can't see it, and sometimes it's so confusing I don't even know how to pray about it. God is in control. I can know that.

I want you to stop for a moment and think about the importance of knowing what you know, because there's going to come a day in your life and in mine where all of the other things are gonna be unimportant and the only thing that's gonna matter is what you know. What do you know? And the Bible says we can know that all things work together according to God's plan. I'm so thankful. And that's not just the only thing we know. Every week, we come together here and open the Word of God, and we learn, and we know. And the more you know about what God is up to, the more you know about what he's communicated to you through his Word, the better you're gonna be prepared for whatever happens.

It's important to know something. Now, I say that because in our world today, especially in a lot of churches, they've almost legitimized ignorance. They've almost said, "Turn your mind off. Let your emotions take over". I wanna tell you something. When you get into a deep problem, your emotions aren't gonna help you. They're gonna hurt you. What you know, what you know for certain, that's what's going to make a difference in your life. I love this little phrase, "and we know". Say that with me, "And we know".

It's a definite promise, and then it's a divine promise. We know that God works. Here is how the NIV translates Romans 8:28. I think it's more accurate. At least, it's more in keeping with the word order in the language of the New Testament. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose". In other words, the reason we know is because it is God himself who is bringing this all to pass.

My friend, Rob Morgan, said it this way: "We have a God who turns our problems inside out, all our perils and perplexities. None is excluded for those who are God-lovers, those called according to his purpose. God brings blessings out of burdens, and he knows how to wrangle gladness out of sadness. He guarantees us in Romans 8:28 he can alter our moods, dissipate our discouragement, lessen the pangs of our grief, and usher confidence back into our hearts". We know that it is God who is involved in all of this.

Now, if you said, "Pastor, I want you to know I'm doing my best to help you," I'd be encouraged, but I don't know that I'd feel a whole lotta confidence, depending on who you are and what you do and what kind of influence you have. But when the God of the universe says to you, "You can know this, here's what I want you to know: I am for you. I am with you. In fact, I am working behind the scenes in your behalf," you can count on it. You can take it to the bank. God is working. This is not only a definite promise, and we know. And a divine promise, that God works. It's a definitive promise. In other words, there are some words here that tell us what this includes.

"And we know that God works"... What are the next two words? "All things". The text actually says that in everything God works for good. The "all things" of this verse is totally comprehensive. It has no limits. "All" is the biggest word in this verse. God is not talking about some things or a few things or a lot of things or select things or good things or bad things or sad things or funny things, but all things. There are no exceptions. There are no exemptions. This promise includes all things. Nothing in your life can ever be outside those three letters: A-L-L. As someone has said, all means all, and that's all "all" means. The little word draws a circle that encloses every detail of every life, every tragedy, every trial, every teardrop, every burden, every problem, every death, every day.

All things work together, all things within the compass of existence, all things within the range of possibility, within the knowledge of God. There are no exceptions to the sweeping breadth of this statement. There is no will or act of creatures, men, angels, or demons, that can do other than work for our good. "No dog can bark against us," says Donald Grey Barnhouse. "No dog can bark against us, no man can speak or act against us, no sinister power of evil can be against us, but all must be for our good". There is no phenomenon of nature, fire, flood, storm, earthquake, that can work us ultimate ill. The law of gravity cannot trip us up or cause anything to fall on us unless it has been first sifted through the will of God. Every experience of our individual circumstances, whether temptations or whatever, humbles us and forces us to rely on him. All things work together for our good. All things.

Now, let me just stop for a moment, because some of you already got question marks on your face. This verse does not say that it is good if I break my leg, or my house burns down, or I get robbed and beaten, or my child dies, but it does say that God uses these events and weaves them together with every other facet of my life in order to produce what he knows to be the very best for me.

Please hear me. Don't go out of here and say, "Dr. Jeremiah brought us through the Scripture today, and he told us that every bad thing is good, and every good thing is okay, and it's all the same. There's no difference". No, that's not what I'm saying. Please hear me. All I'm saying is that God understands what's going on. He knows what's going on. He takes what happens in this world in which we live, and he weaves it together into a plan that is for your good and for his glory. Now, we get a little more insight into it when we come to this next point. This is a definite promise, and we know. It is a divine promise that God is working. It's a definitive problem, all things, but it's a dynamic promise, together for good. God is working all things together for good.

Now, let me tell you something I've learned from the study of this passage in the language in which it was written. This expression translates a word in the Greek language which is pronounced "sunergeó," and it is the word from which we get our word "synergism". Synergism is the working together of various elements to produce an effect that's greater than, often completely different from the sum of each element acting separately. I know that's a wordy statement, but, in other words, synergism is taking things that you wouldn't think have anything to do with each other, have their own purpose, and synergism brings them together and creates something out of that that is usually greater than the sum of the parts.

In the physical world, the right combination of otherwise harmful chemicals can produce substances that are extremely beneficial. If you don't believe that, when you go home for dinner today don't put any salt on anything, because ordinary table salt is composed of two poisons: sodium and chlorine. But when you put 'em together you sprinkle it on everything you eat. It's good on French fries. Once again, it's important to point out that this is not saying that things will just work out. It is saying that God causes the synergism to happen. He is the one who is stirring the mix.

Randy Alcorn, who wrote the best book on heaven that's ever been written and continues to bless the body of Christ with his research and his writing, helps us understand what I'm saying by telling us a story about himself when he was growing up. He said, "When I was young, my mother used to bake delicious cakes. Before she made a cake, she would lay out each of the ingredients on the kitchen counter. One day, I decided," said Randy, "to try and experiment. One by one I tasted each one of the individual ingredients to a chocolate cake. Think about it. Have you ever tasted baking powder? How about baking soda? And what about flour? Have you ever just eaten flour? It's horribly bland, and I won't try to describe the raw egg that I ate. Even the semi-sweet chocolate tasted bitter compared to the sweet milk chocolate I was used to eating. To sum it up, almost everything that goes into a cake tastes terrible by itself. The striking thing was that when my mother mixed it all together in the right amounts, placed it in the oven, and laid it out to cool, an amazing metamorphosis took place. The cake was delicious. Isn't that something? While the individual ingredients tasted terrible, the final product tasted terrific. If would have judged he whole cake on the basis of the individual ingredients, I wouldn't have believed it could be like this, and I wouldn't have tasted it at all".

And you see the analogy to what Paul is saying in Romans 8:28. The individual ingredients of trials and apparent tragedies that come into our lives are neither delicious nor desirable. In fact, at first taste they are often so bland or even bitter, but God, who Randy Alcorn calls the Master Baker, but God is capable of carefully measuring out and measuring in and mixing up these ingredients in order to produce a final product that is for our very best. This is a definite promise, and we know. This is a divine promise, that God works. This is a definitive promise, he works all things, and it's a dynamic promise. He works them all together for good. And finally, this is a defined promise.

Now, Romans 8:28 is one of the most absolute verses in all of the Scripture. We absolutely know that absolutely all things work absolutely together for absolute good. It's absolutely wonderful, but now comes the part that's not absolute. This promise does not apply to absolutely everyone. There is a precondition that must be met before the promise works for you. Notice that the verse says, "To those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose".

Now, let's take those two phrases and sort them out. First of all, this promise is for those who love God. "Those who love God" is the fraternity pin of the believer. I've been totally blessed at how many times in the Bible we, as believers, are described simply as those who love God. What a great name for believers. We're God-lovers.

Deuteronomy 7:9 says, "Therefore know that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love him".

Psalm 145: "The Lord preserves all who love him".

1 Corinthians 2:9: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared," who? "For those who love him".

1 Corinthians 8:3: "But if anyone loves God, this one is known by him".

James 1:12: "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him".

What religion do you belong to? I belong to the God-lovers. I'm a God-lover. The Bible says this verse, this promise, this wonderful encouragement, this motivation for the new year is for those who love God, so the question I need to ask you today, are you a God-lover? No, don't just tell me you believe in God. No, God-lovers are those who have taken God's wonderful gift of eternal life to themselves. In fact, these two phrases, "those who love God," "those who are called," are really two sides of the same coin. Those who love God looks at it from our perspective, we love God, but those who are called looks at it from God's perspective. He calls us to himself. And I don't wanna get into all of the nuances that go along with that whole truth, but let me just tell you, you are here today because God has called you here. He's brought you here.

If you're not a God-lover, he wants you to be a God-lover. Once you become a God-lover, you will not only be a God-lover, you'll be a called one, because God calls people to himself. We are called, according to the Scripture. God has a purpose for our lives. All of these wonderful truths that we have unpacked today about God working in your life and in mine, they all belong to a certain group of people, those who love God and are called by God for his purposes.

What an important moment, for us to just stop at the beginning of this new year and ask this question: have I come to the place in my life where I could truly be called a God-lover? Have I loved God with my heart and my soul? Have I received his wonderful gift of eternal life? Am I one of the called ones? Let me tell you something, men and women. The incidents in our lives are not incidental. The trials in our lives are not trivial. God is up to something in your life and in mine. He is using our setbacks to advance our spiritual maturity to a place where we could never go without them. He's up to something with what's happening in your life and in mine. And if you're a God-lover, if you're a called one, listen carefully. This is about you. This is about what God is doing in your life.

Now, if this were just a verse and there was no support for it anywhere else in the Bible, it would still be powerful, but I wanna take you on a quick, little journey, as we wrap all of this up today, into the lives and experiences of four different people or groups of people. And while I didn't plan it this way, I was so delighted when I found out that all of these people I wanted to take you to visit have names that start with J. I want you to visit with me for a moment with Job, Joseph, the Jews, and Jesus.

Let's start with Job. The story of Job is one of the saddest stories I have ever read in my whole life. Here's this mature, upright man who's described in the Bible as a man who feared God and shunned evil, and one day rustlers stole his 500 yoke of oxen, his 500 donkeys. Lightning killed his 7,000 sheep. Chaldean bandits stole his 3,000 camels and killed all of his servants. He's having a bad day. Finally, a building collapsed on his seven sons and three daughters, and Job was left with nothing.

Job's response to these many tragedies is recorded at the end of the first chapter that you read when you read the book of Job. He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord". Then, Job was stricken with boils from head to feet. He called his friends to come and help him. All they did was heap guilt and misery on him, telling him in so many words that he was only getting what he deserved.

Even his wife tried to encourage Job. She told him to curse God and die, but Job stood firm in this faith. And even though he did not understand all that God was doing, he expressed his faith in the sovereignty of God when we read in Job 23:10, "He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold". Why did Job say that? Because he knew something. He knew his God. Though he was being tested at the very core of his life, he stood strong in the midst of it all. You and I have had some bad days. Maybe you've had a couple this year. I promise you nobody in this room gonna have a bad day like Job had. If God is faithful even in the midst of all of that, he's gonna be faithful to you.

What can we say about Joseph? Joseph's one of the few characters in the Bible about whom no evil report is ever given. When he was 17 years old, his father asked him to go and check up on his brothers, who were caring for his father's herds, and when Joseph found them they threw Joseph into a dry cistern, intending to leave him there to die. But then, some Midianite traders came by, and they seized the opportunity, and they sold Joseph as a slave. The Midianites took Joseph to Egypt, sold him to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's soldiers.

For a period of time, Joseph prospered under Potiphar, but when Potiphar's wife tried to seduce Joseph into sexual activity, he was uncooperative. And he was then arrested and spent the next two years of his life in prison. Finally, Joseph is summoned by Pharaoh to interpret the king's dreams, and when Joseph gave the correct interpretation he was released from prison and installed as the number-two man in Egypt, with a responsibility and authority over all the food supplies in the entire country. Joseph followed the Lord, was the savior of his own family and all of Egypt, as well.

When he ultimately reunited with his brothers and they realized who he was, that he was actually the brother that they had sold into slavery and now he was number two in Egypt, they remembered what had been done to them, they were terrified. Then, Joseph gave 'em this Word, which is the Romans 28 of the Old Testament. "But as for you, you meant it evil against me," Joseph said to his brothers, "but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive".

When all that was happening to Joseph, during all the time of the famine, the pit experience, the false accusations, the time in prison, the exile from his father and his family, God was still at work in Joseph's behalf, working all things according to his plan. Joseph wasn't aware of any of it, but God was doing it anyway. Now we get to look back on it and we see the hand of God in it all. And Joseph had enough insight into it to say to his brothers, "All that you did, you meant it for evil, but that's not the big deal. The big deal is that what you meant for evil, God was meaning for good, and he was orchestrating it in his great plan, bringing us together at this moment". And what God did for Job and what God did for Joseph, God's doing for us.

And then, let me just tell you a word or two about the Jewish people. Been in the news a lot these days. God is at work among the Jews. Here's Jeremiah the prophet writing about a moment in Jewish history that you will remember as you listen to the words. "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: 'Like these good figs, so I will acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; and I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and that they shall be my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart".

Jeremiah wrote in God's name a letter to the Jews in Babylon. After the catastrophic destruction of Jerusalem, in the midst of their captivity, in the midst of all of the difficult things they were going through, on behalf of God, Jeremiah wrote to the Jewish people, and he said, "'I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you, not to harm you, but plans to give you a hope and a future.'" When all the bad things were happening to the Jewish nation, God was just taking it and stirring it and incorporating it because he had a plan. When all the tough things are going on in your life or in mine, we may not understand it, but we can know. We can know one thing: God is at work, making all things work together for his good.

And then, the final and most impressive illustration of this is what happened to Jesus. And I sure wish I had more time to ferret this out, but all I can ask you to do is to listen carefully to what I'm about to read. And notice sometimes when I'm reading it, it sounds like Jesus was a victim, and sometimes it sounds like it was supposed to happen the way it happened all along. Listen carefully. "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death". "For truly against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together," listen carefully, "to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done".

It looks like Jesus is a victim, but then it looks like he's not a victim. That God is involved in this. That he's involved somehow in allowing it to happen. No, in determining it to happen. God took the most absolute evil that Satan could devise and turned it into the greatest conceivable blessing he could ever offer to fallen mankind, eternal salvation from sin. God wants to take all that stuff and bring it to the place where it brings honor and glory to his name. I feel embarrassed to ever preach on a verse like this, but it's grabbed hold of my heart, so I thought I would finish this all off today by telling you three things that God has spoken to me about, and I hope he'll speak to you about, too.

So, let me just ask you this question before I do that. What if you had some kind of divine impression come upon you? Like, what if you absolutely knew and there was no possibility it wouldn't be true? What if you knew that everything I'd said about Romans 8:28 today, what if you knew it was true? What if you knew that God was at work in your life and that nothing you could do would miss out on his ultimate plan for you? That God would incorporate it into his purpose. What if you knew that? What if you absolutely, certainly knew that? That you could risk your life on it? What if you knew that? What difference would it make in your life? Well, as I've meditated upon this I've come up with a couple of conclusions.

Number one, I am determined to trust God. I believe God is worthy of my trust, and I'm determined to trust him. Listen to what Isaiah says about God. "For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.' Indeed I have spoken it; I will bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it". That's my God. That's your God. There will not be anything that you and I will face in the new year that will surprise God. He has already told me that all things are under his control.

I choose not to live my life out of fear of what might happen, but out of faith in what could happen. This is not reckless, fearless living. This is radical, faithful living. I've made my choice. I believe I have a great God who's worthy of every ounce of energy I have to give back to him and every pound of faith I can muster for him. I'm choosing to trust God in this new year. I don't trust the government. I don't trust the politics. I don't trust what's going on here, but I trust God. And when I walk with God every day there's not anything I have to fear. Are you gonna trust God this year? Trust him.

Number two, I'm determined to be grateful. Count your blessings and see what God has done. Back when I was going through cancer years ago, I got started in journaling, and journaling is really important, and I enjoy doing it. And I've not done it every day, but I've done it off and on since then. But here's what I've discovered about journals, and you all listen to me if you're a journal writer. Journals usually are filled with stuff that you're going through. You tell your journal all the stuff you don't wanna tell anybody else, how bad things were this day, and how you don't know how you're gonna get through, and, "What in the world are we gonna do with this kid and how are we gonna get the money we need?" and all of that. And you don't notice that till you go back at the end of the year and you harvest your journals and all of a sudden you realize your journals can be pretty negative.

And if you read all the stuff you wrote in your journals, you're almost over it, but when you read it you get it all back again. I'm not saying don't write journals, but journals, they can kill you. I mean, they can just kill you, so let me give you an idea for a journal that will never do that to you. You can't get anything in this journal that's not a blessing. No burden is allowed. The only thing you put down in this book is how God has blessed you today. I just started it, and I don't know if it's gonna be like this the rest of the year.

I don't know if I can take it. I mean, see, we get going so fast in our lives. We're going from here to there. We got this to do, that to do. Oh, we just came through, Christmas has been awesome, but it's also been challenging. And all this time God is blessing us with his wonderful goodness to us, and it's just going right over our head, and then we don't see that. But what we always do is we catch all the flak that comes from the bad things, so what I want you to do, join me in this project. Get a blessing book. Get a book by faith that you think's gonna be big enough to handle everything you wanna write in it. And then, every day, maybe at night, maybe lunchtime or whatever, any time God does something that blesses you or you're blessed by your children or you're blessed by a friend, just take a note.

And then, when you get a chance put the number next to it. "This is number five". And write a little two sentences, "Today, God did this for me. This is how I was blessed". Then, when you're going through that stuff that you used to write in your journal, get your blessing book out and read that. Don't read your journal. God wants to bless us. That's the one thing that comes from Romans 8:28. God wants to work all things together what? For good, not for bad. He wants us to be blessed, so if he wants to bless us let's keep score. Let's write it down. You say, "Well, Pastor, I probably... yeah, you probably have lots of blessings. You're a pastor. I know pastors. They get blessed". You should see my journal. Yeah, I get blessed. No kidding. It's true, but I have to honestly tell you a lot of the things that God has done to bless me, I've let slip through my fingers without really noticing it, until I look back and, "How did I miss that"?

I want you to keep your eye on what God's up to in your life. I can't tell you what he's up to, but I can surely encourage you to take note of what he's doing. And then, when you get a real good one, call somebody up and say, "Hey, listen. This is number 87 in my blessing book. I just thought you'd like to know it". Let's start a revolution around here. Let's get off the negative stuff that so occupies. I mean, we have to work hard to overcome the negativity that's in our world, do we not? So, let's fill up this whole world with blessings in the new year. Amen.

Number three, yeah, I'm determined to live gritty. It should probably be said, "Live gritty". To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and personal goal. To be gritty is to invest day after week after year in challenging practice. To be gritty is to fall down seven times and get back up eight. Edgy. Gritty. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Don't say, "I'm gonna let it come to me". Go after it and live your life as if you believed God has created a safety net for you. He's created us not to be passive, but to be active in serving him. God is good. God can be trusted. You may not know what he's doing, but he's doing something. You may not understand what's happened to you, but it's a part of his plan. God is up to something good.

Handley Moule was a great Bible teacher. I love this guy. He's a great writer, and I've got almost all his commentaries. He lived in the 1900s, died in 1920. One occasion, he was called to the scene of a terrible accident at a British coal mine. Many friends and relatives of the victims of the cave-in gathered, and it was Dr. Moule's responsibility to address them, something that looked like it was really, really bad had just happened. "Very difficult," he said to them, "for us to understand why God would let an awful disaster happen, but we know him and we trust him, and all will be right".

Then, he said, "I have at home an old bookmarker given me by my mother. It is worked in silk, and when I examine the wrong side of this bookmark, I don't see anything but a tangle of threads. It looks like a mistake. One would think that someone had done it who did not know what she was doing, but then I turn it over and look at the right side, and what I see there is a beautifully embroidered message: God is love. We are always looking at this today from the wrong side".

We look at life the way we see it. It's a tangled bunch of threads, but these threads are attached to the message that we learned today. That God is up to something, and God is love, and we know that all things work together for good for those who are God-lovers and called ones. That's your promise as you step into the new year.
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