The sovereign and intentional balance

We know that God is sovereign, and by that we think that he will intervene in our lives and move and make things happen that need to happen. Our response to this is that we sit back and wait, and wait and wait. We wait for God to move. But, I believe, He is often waiting for us to move. Yes, absolutely He is Sovereign, but there is a dynamic of responsibility and intentionality that we have lost. The picture comes to mind of a man sitting in his sitting room praying for a new car. God hears his prayer and answers, by sending a car to the local showroom that is just what he prayed for and at just the right price. The man praying waits and waits, the new car doesn’t come. The car in the show room gets sold. The man is disappointed that he hasn’t received a car. “God you are sovereign, I felt that you had answered the prayer, but where is the car? ”

God had moved, but it needed the man to be international to receive what God had for him. I have prophesied over hundreds and hundreds of people. If I sat and waited for the Spirit to move then I would probably wouldn’t have shared as many words as I have. But as I step out with the little God as given, God always gives more. Or if I have nothing, I begin to pray and my faith is such that if I pray, God will want to say something. I am deliberately intentional.

How does that work with the man and his car? Well, if he knew in his heart that God had answered his prayer, then to be intentional would look like him getting out of his chair and looking around at car showrooms, classified ads etc.

We know God heals, but how often do we pray from afar for healing and get disappointed with the results? Jesus says to lay hands on the sick and they will be healed. That takes a degree of being intentional. I have to engage with the person who is sick, I have to lay hands on them and pray. That’s being intentional. You could take it further. If you feel God has called you to lay hands on the sick (arguably that is all of us) but for those who particularly feel God has called them to do this, then to be intentional is to look for those who are not well and deliberately engage with them with the intention of praying for their healing.

Paul the Apostle is the master of being intentional.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:24-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Paul ran a race with marked intentionality balanced with marked awe, and wonder at the sovereignty of God. His own conversion experience couldn’t have been more sovereign, and is often who I refer to in prayer when petitioning the Lord for Him to move sovereignly.

As a caveat, within all of our intentional behaviour we walk by the Spirit and follow his leading and his prompting. We are often waiting for the green light of permission when it is already on. We have permission already and we’d be better off stepping out with what we see in front of us, the Lord is very able to say no.

Again, Paul the Apostle is a great example, in Acts16:6-10 we have a passage that shows Paul’s intionality and God sovereignty.

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭16:6-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We have three oportunites for Paul to be intentional, when trying to enter Asia and Bythinia the Lord intervenes sovereignly, and when they go to Troas there no problem. We then have the Lord granting a vision to Paul of the Man from Macedonia where they are sovereignly directed to go. But to go, they have to be intentional and deliberate in going.

I love it, there was such a harmony between the Lord and Paul and his companions. They were proactive in preaching the gospel, but obedient to the leading of the Spirit in directing them and shutting doors.

I want to be more like that, trusting that as I plan and build according to wisdom he has given, if I start to go where I shouldn’t then the Lord will break in.

We are too often waiting for permission when permissiohas been granted!