Around the Web

A Creative Way to Unlock More of the Bible – Faith Spilling Over – explains some of the things I like to do that I’ve found helpful–using various translations, looking up a definition of English words, sentence flow (or Phrasing Scripture)–although she does more drawing, which looks interesting.

7 Surprising Facts About the LGBT Community – Millennial Evangelical

3. 4.3% of American adults identify as LGBT.

4. About 33% of Americans believe the LGBT population is higher than 25%.

I post this in part because it seems that much of the media would have us believe that there are much more people in this group than there really are. Not that they should be forgotten or unloved.

Why We Need the Puritans | Monergism – This is an excellent, but long (for a blog post) excerpt from a book by J.I. Packer. If you don’t want to read all of it but are interested in what it says, the first page will suffice. The whole thing is worth it, though.

How do I get the same passion as the Psalmists?

One of the things that is absolutely astounding to me is when I see professing Christians trying to create a division between God and his Word. That is, to attempt to disconnect what he says from who he is. To treat the Bible as a barrier for knowing and loving the Lord.

But this is something I don’t see the writers of Scripture even attempt to do.

8 Months Off Social Media, 8 Observations – RECOVERING WOMANHOOD – I don’t identify with every one of the 8 Observations, but I especially identify with number 5.

Clare De Graaf – Most Christians are Violating the 1st Commandment

Here’s a video introduction to Mark Jones’s new book God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God.

Psalm 84-Scripture and Song

I’m in the process of studying and memorizing Psalm 84. (I’d like to do a post on new–to me–memorization techniques.) In The Treasury of David, I found a song, which reads as a poem, attributed only to German Choral Music. It’s very interesting because it doesn’t just rewrite each line, it puts some parts of the Psalm into other parts, including a recapitulation of sorts, which connects the context. I didn’t explain that very well, but maybe you’ll see. It helps with meaning and visualization. I’ll include the KJV below, with the song version below that. (Or Psalm 84 NIV here) I hope you’ll benefit from it.

How amiable are thy tabernacles,
O LORD of hosts!
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD:
my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house:
they will be still praising thee. Selah.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee;
in whose heart are the ways of them.
Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well;
the rain also filleth the pools.
They go from strength to strength,
every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer:
give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

Behold, O God our shield,
and look upon the face of thine anointed.
For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand.
I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God,
than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield:
the LORD will give grace and glory:
no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
Psalm 84 KJV

O Lord of hosts, how lovely in mine eyes
The tents where thou dost dwell!
For thine abode my spirit faints and sighs;
The courts I love so well.
My longing soul is weary
Within thy house to be;
This world is waste and dreary,
A desert land to me.

The sparrow, Lord, hath found a sheltered home,
The swallow hath her nest;
She layeth there her young, and though she roam,
Returneth there to rest.
I, to thine altar flying,
Would there for ever be;
My heart and flesh are crying,
O living God, for thee!

How blest are they who in thy house abide!
Thee evermore they praise.
How strong the man whom thou alone dost guide,
Whose heart doth keep thy ways.
A pilgrim and a stranger,
He leaneth on thine arm;
And thou, in time of danger,
Dost shield him from alarm.

From strength to strength through Baca’s vale of woe,
They pass along in prayer,
And gushing streams of living water flow,
Dug by their faithful care;
Thy rain is sent from heaven
To fertilise the land,
And wayside grace is given
Till they in Zion stand.

Lord God of hosts, attend unto my prayer!
O Jacob’s God, give ear!
Behold, O God, our shield, we through thy care,
Within thy courts appear!
Look thou upon the glory
Of thine Anointed’s face;
In him we stand before thee,
To witness of thy grace!

One day with thee excelleth over and over
A thousand days apart;
In thine abode, within thy temple door,
Would stand my watchful heart.
Men tell me of the treasure
Hid in their tents of sin;
I look not there for pleasure,
Nor choose to enter in.

Own then the Lord to be thy Sun, thy Shield —
No good will he withhold;
He giveth grace, and soon shall be revealed
His glory, yet untold.
His mighty name confessing,
Walk thou at peace and free;
O Lord, how rich the blessing
Of him who trusts in thee!

–German Choral Music.

treasury-of-david

Why Deuteronomy Is Important

Every book of the Bible is important. This is a post about some reasons why Deuteronomy is important.

I’ve recently been reading the commentary on Deuteronomy (The NIV Application Commentary) by Daniel Block in a devotional sort of way. I’ve wanted to read a commentary on Deuteronomy for a long time because of it being theologically rich, along with having a lot of questions I wanted answered, one of which I’ll write about in another post. I found this one on sale in Kindle format for under $5 (along with the commentary on Job, which was excellent).

I came across a couple of quotes in the commentary on why it’s so foundational.

Although readers of the Old Testament often assume that expressions translated as “the law of the LORD” refer to the Pentateuch as a whole, the default view should rather be that “the Torah of Yahweh” and “the Torah of Moses” refer particularly to the book of Deuteronomy. This book is the heart of the Torah that the priests were to teach and model, in which psalmists delighted, to which the prophets appealed, by which faithful kings ruled, and by which righteous citizens lived (Ps. 1).

This was the book—long neglected—that Josiah’s officials found in the temple and which provided the theological impetus for his wide-ranging reforms (2 Kings 22–23); this was the book that Ezra read to the community of returned exiles on the occasion of the Festival of Booths (Neh. 8). And as the light of Old Testament prophecy was going out, this was the book to which Malachi called his people to return (Mal. 4:4). The book of Deuteronomy provides the theological base for virtually the entire Old (and New) Testament and is the paradigm for much of its literary style. Luke 16:19–31 and John 5:19–47 illustrate the enormous stature of Moses in the tradition of Judaism at the turn of the ages. In the Torah the Jews heard Moses’ prophetic voice, and in the Torah they read what he wrote.

Later on, Block writes:

At the theological level, the Song [of Moses–or of Yahweh, as Block would prefer to call it–Deut. 32] is unparalleled within the book of Deuteronomy, if not the entire Old Testament, for its concentrated but extraordinarily lofty theology.

The Shema (Deut. 6:4) is contained there, and the verse after it, which Jesus quotes as being the greatest commandment.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Deuteronomy

Also see:
Deuteronomy and the New Testament | Scripture Zealot blog

Around the Web plus Update

The Prayer God Loves to Answer Most | Desiring God

The Most Sympathetic Man in the World | HeadHeartHand Blog

No Reason to Complain (Brooks) « The Reformed Reader

Responding to Christianese: Since God is Love He would Never Violate our Free Will | Monergism

Personal Update:
Things have been rather difficult lately with medication changes, general life fatigue, and a little over a week ago I had surgery to replace my lumbar pain pump (just routine). I would like to at least get back to blogging as much as I was, but ultimately more than that. I can’t make any commitments on that though. A good thing is that I’ve been reading more and would like to post more quotes, with some reflections. But that leaves me with less time and energy to blog. So we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far.

Intimacy and Awe of Scripture

Those times when I fail to find any intimacy or awe in the text [of Scripture] (which are far more frequent than I care to admit), I find three primary culprits: I’m not reading it often, I’m not inviting the Author into my reading, or I’m not bothering to do what I read. When any of one of those three occurs, the Bible quickly becomes a dusty textbook. For those who find no joy in the Bible, I offer the following suggestions (and for those who don’t care to, I offer the following challenges): (1) Try “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so,” like the Bereans did.1 (2) Ask with the psalmist, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”2 (3) Take James’s advice to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”3 Read it, ask the Author for a sense of wonder, do what it says, and watch what happens.

–Thaddeus J. Williams, Reflect: Becoming Yourself by Mirroring the Greatest Person in History

1Acts 17:11
2Psalm 119:18
3James 1:22-25

I’ve found the benefits of reading it often after I started reading more of the Bible more consistently. Reading our Bibles often helps us to: 1.) Develop the habit of reading daily (Acts 17:11). 2.) Enables us to trust the Bible more (Acts 17:11 again). 3.) Allows the Spirit to speak to us and influence us (John 14:26, Romans 12:2, Romans 15:4, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Among many other things.

Around the Web

Should Christians Use Satire? – Amy Mantravadi
i.e. Babylon Bee, one of my favorites

4 Frameworks for Fighting Fear

Do You Exercise for the Wrong Reasons? | Desiring God

No, ‘Saul the Persecutor’ Did Not Become ‘Paul the Apostle’ – A misconception I had too

Speed Reading – Signal v. Noise

and while you’re there, this is relevant for those of us who hate it when people are wrong on the internet:

Give it five minutes – Signal v. Noise

There are two things in this world that take no skill: 1. Spending other people’s money and 2. Dismissing an idea.

I would add:
3. Making false assumptions–something I’m working on.

Being Content In All Circumstances

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.
Ecclesiastes 7:10

Contentment is a terribly difficult subject for those who’s lives aren’t what they’d like them to be. The Puritans wrote some great books on this subject, including The Crook in the Lot, The Art of Divine Contentment, and The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (quoted from below).

‘O if I had it again, I would do better than I did before.’ But this may be but a temptation. You should rather think, ‘What does God require of me in the circumstances I am now brought into?’ You should labor to bring your heart to quiet and contentment by setting your soul to work in the duties of your present condition. And the truth is, I know nothing more effective for quieting a Christian soul and getting contentment than this, setting your heart to work in the duties of the immediate circumstances that you are now in, and taking heed of your thoughts about other conditions as a mere temptation.

I cannot better compare the folly of those men and women who think they will get contentment by musing about other circumstances than to the way of children: perhaps they have climbed a hill and look a good way off and see another hill, and they think if they were on the top of that, they would be able to touch the clouds with their fingers; but when they are on the top of that hill, alas, they are as far from the clouds as they were before. So it is with many who think, If I were in such circumstances, then I should have contentment; and perhaps they get into circumstances, and they are as far from contentment as before. But then they think that if they were in other circumstances, they would be contented, but when they have got into those circumstances, they are still as far from contentment as before. No, no, let me consider what is the duty of my present circumstances, and content my heart with this, and say, ‘Well, though I am in a low position, yet I am serving the counsels of God in those circumstances where I am; it is the counsel of God that has brought me into these circumstances that I am in, and I desire to serve the counsel of God in these circumstances.

–Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Monergism Ebook Edition

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13 NIV

Book Cover

Around the Web

Words Matter: Recovering Godly Speech in a Culture of Profanity – Reformation21 Blog – Yes! – Even if you disagree, the last four points are the at the center of it.

The Coasting Christian – The Wardrobe Door

Anxiety: My Thorn in My Flesh – A Daughter of the Reformation

Some claim that strong faith is defined by throwing our energies into begging God for a miracle that will take away our suffering and then believing without doubting that he will do it. But faith is not measured by our ability to manipulate God to get what we want, it is measured by our willingness to submit to what he wants. It takes great faith to say to God, “Even if you don’t heal me or the one I love, even if you don’t change my circumstances, even if you don’t restore my relationship, even if you allow me to lose what is most precious to me, I will still love you and obey you and believe that you are good.”

–Nancy Guthrie (Hearing Jesus Speak Into your Sorrow [a good book I read])
from:
When God ordains thorns for me… | A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

New Books of Interest:
REFLECT: Becoming Yourself by Mirroring the Greatest Person in History by Thaddeus J. Williams

The Uniqueness of the Psalms by W. Robert Godfrey

The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul's Teachings by John F. MacArthur

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth by John MacArthur, Richard Mayhue

Discounted Kindle Books:
Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name by Bryan Chapell – $1.99 (I read it twice. This is often on sale if you miss it.)

The Promises of God: Discovering the One Who Keeps His Word by R. C. Sproul – $1.59

Prices as of this writing are subject to change.

9 Minutes With God – Learn Who Jesus Really Is

This is a repost. I made a few slight grammar and punctuation changes with the PDF document, and added an experimental Epub file.

When I first became a Christian, after or while reading through the book of John, I used the little pamphlet put out by The Navigators (NavPress) called 7 Minutes With God. This got me started on having a “quiet time” or what I now call devotional time or spiritual disciplines (what a scary word) which has stayed with me for over 25 years now.

While looking for this online, I found some adaptations and decided to write my own. If you like it, I would be thrilled if you use it for yourself or to give to others.

Nine Minutes With God (PDF File)

Nine Minutes With God (Epub File)

If you’re wondering how to start, or need to restart with some structure, this may help.

If you have any suggestions for ways to improve it, please let me know. This is meant to be printed and I purposely used a rather large typeface for the older folks.

Photo of a Bible

Around the Web

A Whole Bible & a Whole Christian – Tim Challies

Today the majority of those who read this site will be heading to church to hear a pastor preach the Word of God. A while back I jotted down several quotes about the Bible and thought I’d share them today.

God’s Wrath, God’s Love, and the Cross (Carson) « The Reformed Reader

Both God’s love and God’s wrath are ratcheted up in the move from the old covenant to the new, from the Old Testament to the New. These themes barrel along through redemptive history, unresolved, until they come to a resounding climax – in the cross.

Do you wish to see God’s love? Look at the cross.

Do you wish to see God’s wrath? Look at the cross.

–D.A. Carson

In Defense of Praying for Aunt Sally's Big Toe – Reformation21 Blog

Prayer: Often, Short, Strong (Luther) « The Reformed Reader – I wholeheartedly agree

How Not to Help a Sufferer

Interesting Verse of the Day: Ecology

The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.
Deuteronomy 7:22 NIV

I never noticed this before.

Photo of a Bible

Quotes From ‘Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow’

I’ve seen some blogs where they have 20 short quotes from each book the blog writer reads. I’m not into round numbers or always having to have a formula, and only want to post quotes I really like, but I like this idea of posting multiple quotes from books that have been read through. Anyone who frequents this little corner of cyberspace knows that I like posting quotes. I try to put some of my own commentary in there, and often mix authors with quotes of the same subject, along with Scripture. But posting a few random quotes might give you more of an idea of what a book is like.

I’ve made a new Category called Book Quotes. We’ll see how it goes. I may try to do some other recent books. See below for how I extract longer quotes in paper books.

These are from Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, by Nancie Guthrie.

When we feel disappointed by the spiritual nature of the fulfillment of God’s promises to heal us, it reveals the truth about what we think about our sin. We don’t really see our sin as that big of an issue. As we compare ourselves to those around us, we think we’re pretty good. We think of our sin problem as more like a case of the sniffles than a terminal disease.

Our disappointment also reveals that we don’t value the eternal promises of God as much as we want him to fix what we see as our most significant problems. What we really want from him is to give us everything he has promised us here and now. We think that physical life on this earth—the length of it and the quality of it—is of ultimate importance. We have a hard time grasping the signficance and the reality of the life to come.*

Pages 37-38

Honestly, I’ve come to think that looking for a specific answer to the question Why? is mostly an unsatisfying quest. What we really are in search of is not an explanation but a sense of meaning. We want to know that there is some meaning and purpose in our losses—that they are not random or worthless.

We want to see the ways God is using our loss for good. Sometimes God, in his goodness, draws back the curtain and I shows us; we can see how he is using our loss in our lives or in l the lives of those around us. And other times we have to wait. Certainly we can never expect to see the complete purposes of God in this life.

Page 88

To forgive, we need confident faith to believe that the satisfaction of being pleasing to God will be greater than the enjoyment of putting that person in his place, forcing her to see her selfishness, mining her reputation, him hurt like he has hurt you.

Page 103

The chapter on forgiveness was unexpectedly good.

Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow

For putting longer quotes in a blog post, instead of typing them out, I use an OCR app on my phone. Since I’m always having to lie down, it’s very difficult to type out quotes. I use OCR Instantly Free for Android. A photo is taken from within the app, the text is cropped, then ‘enhanced’, which just makes it very high contrast, then it does the magic of Optical Character Recognition. I then email it to myself or send it to Evernote. Since there are hard line breaks, I go to Remove Line Breaks Online Tool, correct a few errors (you may see a mistake or two–let me know), and that’s it. Probably more work than typing, but easier for me.

If it’s a Puritan paper book, I’ll look for a digital version of it to copy and paste, or if it’s a popular book, it may already be online. The Epub format, which I like to read on my phone, is the easiest to copy text from because they are all on my computer.

*Also see: What Providence Isn’t | Scripture Zealot blog

Grace and Grace in Prayer

In this manner these eminently wise and holy men [David and Daniel] thought themselves highly honoured in being permitted to contribute, by their prayers, to the execution of the divine purpose.

–Herman Witsius, Sacred Dissertations on The Lord’s Prayer

I see intercessory prayer partly as participating in God’s work. We can sit on the sidelines, or be active in bringing about God’s will in other people’s lives.

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Ephesians 6:18-20

With as little truth is it alleged that prayers are an insult to the goodness of God. We do not press them on the notice of God as the meritorious causes of the blessings he bestows, but view them rather as the marks and consequences of divine grace acting on our minds. The knowledge we have of what is good and desirable; the desire we have to obtain it, and the expression of that desire, accompanied by proper dispositions towards God, are themselves gifts which are usually followed up by another gift, the granting to us of the things desired, according to the saying in the Psalms, (Ps. 81:10) “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” The gifts of God become usually the more delightful to us in consequence of our obtaining them by our prayers. We then find that they came to us not by chance, but from the love of our heavenly Father, who keeps his ear open to our prayers. Hence arise comfort, joy, and filial love; Ps. 116:1, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication.” Meanwhile, it is certain that God bestows on us many blessings for which prayers have not been offered, which we did not even feel that we needed, and by his grace anticipates our application. [Eph. 3:20]

–Herman Witsius, Sacred Dissertations on The Lord’s Prayer

I suppose you could call this grace upon grace, although not meant quite in the same way John put it in his gospel.

God blesses our time in the Bible by showing us and reminding us of his will as revealed in Scripture. Also, I find that prayer can be a way of meditating on God, especially praise and thanksgiving. God shows us ‘new’ (but Scriptural) facets of his character and what he’s done, and things to thank him for that he’s done for us individually that we might not yet have thought of. By that grace of insight, we are further blessed in growing in our life with him. Let’s remember to always ask him for these things.

Order all my ways by thy holy Word
and make thy commandments the joy
of my heart,
that by them I may have happy converse
with thee.

–Christian Love from Valley of Vision

Also see:
Complete List of Paul's Prayers | Scripture Zealot blog

Union with Christ

Martin Lloyd-Jones in his Exposition of Ephesians 2 says:

There are two ways of looking at this great statement [union with Christ]. There are some people who take a purely objective view of it. They think of it exclusively in terms of our position, or our standing, in the presence of God. What I mean is that they think of it as being something that, in a sense, is already true of us in Christ, but is not true of us in practice. […] They say that it is true of us by faith now, but actually only by faith. It is not real in us now: it is entirely in Him. But it will be made real in us in the future. Now that is what I call the purely objective view of this statement. And of course as a statement, it is perfectly true, except that it does not go far enough.

This is the way I’ve always envisioned it. Union with Christ is not only our position in Christ. It’s something that changes us, feeds us, something we meditate on, something that hopefully affects how we act as we live in union with him. If two people are married, there is usually a relationship that goes on because of it, not just a legal document that was enacted at a ceremony. It should also impel us to act in a godly manner, because he is in us and we are in him. (Acts 17:28, Ephesians 2:22, Colossians 2:6-7)

But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
1 John 2:5-6

Later he continues:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5). The union between the branches and the vine is not mechanical: it is vital and organic. They are bound together: the same sap, the same life is in the stock as in the branches. But that is not the only illustration used. At the end of the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul says that the union between a Christian and the Lord Jesus Christ is comparable to the union of the various parts of the body with the whole body, and especially with the head. […]

All these blessings that we enjoy become ours because we are joined to Christ in this double manner: in the forensic, federal, covenant manner, but also in this vital and living manner. We can therefore claim that what has happened to Christ has happened to us. This is the marvel and mystery of our salvation, and it is the most glorious thing we can ever contemplate! The Son of God, the Second Person in the eternal Godhead, came down from heaven to earth; He took unto Him human nature, He joined human nature unto Himself, He shared human nature; and as the result of His work we human beings share His life and are in Him, and are participators in all the benefits that come from Him.

In another excellent article, Michael Horton writes:

Regeneration, or the new birth, is the commencement of this union. God brings this connection and baptism even before there is any sign of life–“while you were dead…he made you alive” (Eph.2:1). […] Through union with Christ, we receive his righteousness imputed (justification) as well as his righteousness imparted (sanctification).

Also see:

Union with Christ

What Providence Isn’t

Providence is that continued exercise of the divine energy whereby the Creator upholds all his creatures, is operative in all that transpires in the world, and directs all things to their appointed end.

–D. Martin Lloyd-Jones

Martin Lloyd-Jones writes about what providence is not at the beginning of a chapter on Providence from the book Great Doctrines of the Bible. I’m going to attempt to summarize his brief warnings, and hopefully won’t confuse the matter.

there are people who claim special providences in their own personal lives. ‘It is most amazing,’ they say. ‘Do you know, this is what has happened to me …’—and they describe to you how certain things seem to have been arranged particularly in order to suit their special circumstances! And then, when you tell them that they cannot say things like that, they resent the whole doctrine of providence.

I’m going to bluntly postulate that this is self-centered extra-Biblical guesswork.

He never really seemed to explain just what he meant until the end (somewhat):

Be careful—it is a warning! Always be careful in your application of any particular event. Let me explain: whenever anything good happens to us or to our country we are all very ready, are we not, to say that it was undoubtedly an act of God—the providence of God. I have explained what the doctrine of providence teaches, but I would warn you that it is dangerous to particularise about any particular thing. … In 1934 German Christians—and very fine Christians among them—issued this statement: ‘We are full of thanks to God that He as Lord of history has given us Adolf Hitler, our leader and our saviour from our difficult lot. We acknowledge that we, with body and soul, are bound and dedicated to the German State and to its Führer. This bondage and duty contains for us as Evangelical Christians its deepest and most holy significance in its obedience to the command of God.’ That surely makes us think, does it not? Here is another declaration of theirs in 1933: ‘This turn of history,’ they said, referring to Hitler’s coming into power, ‘we say God has given him to us, to God be the glory. As bound to God’s word we recognise in the great events of our day a new commission of God to His Church.’

Now those people were absolutely sincere; they were absolutely genuine. They were evangelical Christians, and they believed that! So I think you will agree that we must be a little cautious when we come to make particular claims. … Let us be very careful lest we bring God and His cause into disrepute by unwise and injudicious claims. … My point, then, is this: the doctrine is plain and clear, but let us be judicious and cautious, and have a great concern for the glory and the name of God when we claim any particular event as an instance of His special providence either with regard to us or our country.

God orders things in his way for his people mainly for the purpose of our continuation in salvation. We have to be cautious in trying to determine what he’s doing and why. The same goes for affliction. We can usually only go by what the Bible says–that it’s for our continued perseverance, perfection, righteousness (Hebrews 12:4-11, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7). God doesn’t normally indicate to us what he’s ‘teaching’ us if it’s not a consequence of sin. Nor can we usually tell exactly what he’s doing as he orders his web of a multitude of things far greater than we can ever imagine.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
Ephesians 1:11

If this is confusing, reading the whole chapter online may help. It’s one of the better treatments I’ve read on the subject.

Extra Credit:

In a clock, stop but one wheel and you stop every wheel, because they are dependent upon one other. So when God has ordered a thing for the present to be thus and thus, how do you know how many things depend upon this thing? God may have some work to do twenty years hence that depends on this passage of providence that falls out this day or this week.

–Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

Great Doctrines of the Bible by Martyn Lloyd-Jones