If God is in Control...Are there Coincidences?

Oct 6, 2013 by: Joel Sutton| Series: If God is in Control...
Scripture: Ruth 2:1–2:23

If God is in Control . . . Are there Coincidences?

Ruth 2

Pastor Joel Sutton, Oct. 6, 2013; If God is in Control . . . Sermon 4

Ruth's story

 

Our "coincidences" are within His control. 2:3-4

 

Our "accidents" are within His care. 2:8-9; 15-16; 20; 4:13-17

 

Truths to Remember:

  • All of life is under God's rule. James 4:13-17; Prov. 16:33

 

  • God is active even in the "humdrum" events of our lives. Matt. 6:26-30

 

  • Don't make decisions according to "chance"; learn to use wisdom.

 

 

Take Home Idea: What appears to be "by chance" to us, is not "by chance" to God.

 

 

Sermon Discussion Guide

 

  • Read Acts 10
  • Discuss:
    • In verses 10.1-2, we get some background on Cornelius; we are told of his a God-fearing man, and that he prayed continually. We then read that God sends a vision to Cornelius, informing him that his prayers had been heard, and that he should therefore send for Peter.
      • How do you think Cornelius felt after receiving this message? (Not his response to the angel, but to the message)
      • How would you feel if you received such a clear indication that your prayers had been heard, and that God was going to answer them?
    • In 10.9-17, Peter receives a strange vision from God.
      • When does it say Peter received this vision? Do you think Luke (author of Acts) thinks this is a coincidence?
      • What does Peter make of the vision at the time?
      • (Looking ahead) When does Peter actually figure out what the vision means?
    • In 10.18-33, Peter travels to Cornelius' house and the two compare notes on what has been going on.
      • How much do Peter and Cornelius know about what is happening before they meet and "compare notes?"
      • If it wasn't obvious before, who does this passage reveal to be in control of the situation?
    • 10.44-48 is a fitting conclusion to this story, and a pivotal moment in the history of salvation.
      • When exactly does Cornelius' household respond in faith to the gospel?
      • Why might that be important? Who does it reveal - yet again - to be in control, directing steps, providing words, and changing hearts and minds?
      • How does Peter respond to this situation?
  • Apply:
    • Make a list of things this passage reveal about God?
  • What does this passage teach us about our responsibilities as believers? What can we learn from Peter and Cornelius?

 

 

Sermon Discussion Guide - Leader's Guide

 

  • Read Acts 10
  • Discuss:
    • In verses 10.1-2, we get some background on Cornelius; we are told of his a God-fearing man, and that he prayed continually. We then read that God sends a vision to Cornelius, informing him that his prayers had been heard, and that he should therefore send for Peter.
      • How do you think Cornelius felt after receiving this message? (Not his response to the angel, but to the message)
        • Possibly surprised, comforted, etc. to discover so plainly that God hears his prayers and that God is at work in and through his life
      • How would you feel if you received such a clear indication that your prayers had been heard, and that God was going to answer them?
    • In 10.9-17, Peter receives a strange vision from God.
      • When does it say Peter received this vision? Do you think Luke (author of Acts) thinks this is a coincidence?
        • While Cornelius' men are on the way to Peter - as Luke later discloses, he and Peter know this is no coincidence, rather it is God's plan to prepare Peter
      • What does Peter make of the vision at the time?
        • Not much - he is perplexed, and so far as we can tell, does not even suspect at first that it might have anything to do with the men who have come for him
      • (Looking ahead) When does Peter actually figure out what the vision means?
        • He begins to realize the significance in v.28, he perhaps recognizes what it means more fully in vv.44-48.
    • In 10.18-33, Peter travels to Cornelius' house and the two compare notes on what has been going on.
      • How much do Peter and Cornelius know about what is happening before they meet and "compare notes?"
        • Both know but a little, and certainly neither knows how God has been working behind the scenes to prepare the other
      • If it wasn't obvious before, who does this passage reveal to be in control of the situation?
        • The Holy Spirit - preparing both men, arranging events, and at the end, transforming hearts in such a way that it was obvious to Peter that Cornelius' household had received salvation
    • 10.44-48 is a fitting conclusion to this story, and a pivotal moment in the history of salvation.
      • When exactly does Cornelius' household respond in faith to the gospel?
        • During the middle of Peter's sermon - while he was still speaking
      • Why might that be important? Who does it reveal - yet again - to be in control, directing steps, providing words, and changing hearts and minds?
        • It confirms clearly for Peter that God is at work here, that it is the power of the Holy Spirit - not Peter's words - that matters.
      • How does Peter respond to this situation?
        • Peter - quite rightly - seeing that the Holy Spirit is leading the way - simply follows
  • Apply:
    • Make a list of things this passage reveals about God?
      • God is in control - It is obviously the Holy Spirit who guides and directs this whole sequence of events
      • God has a plan - This story also reveals quite clearly that God always has a plan - even if we (like Peter and Cornelius) don't always see where it is going
      • God is always at work: Sometimes we get it backward - we think we have the plan and occasionally call on God for help. As we see here, God has the plan, he is always working, and he occasionally uses us to accomplish his work
    • What does this passage teach us about our responsibilities as believers? What can we learn from Peter and Cornelius?
      • Prayer is important - both Cornelius and Peter are people of prayer.
      • We are expected to obey - both Peter and Cornelius are given commands, and both obey even when they don't fully understand what God is doing
      • As believers, it is never only about us - we are apart of God's worldwide project to restore his creation!

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