Good morning Bereans. We are going through something in this country that we have never experienced before. "Social distancing" is the new thing. This virus has caused a quasi quarantine which means that many people can't work and are wondering how they will pay their bills. Many businesses are shut down, causing small businesses to wonder how they will survive.
Fear and discouragement are rampant, being spread by the media. Some are saying it is a government takeover to remove all our freedoms. Others are predicting a financial crash that will send our country into a depression. Others are saying it is an end-time plague. Let me say this: Whatever is happening, it is under the sovereign control of Yahweh.
Many are not as worried about the virus as they are about what our government is doing in response to it. Our government is corrupt, and many politicians are doing all that they can to take away our freedoms and, thereby, to line their own pockets. It seems that justice has left the building as these corrupt politicians continually get away with murder--some literally. By the way, Epstein didn't kill himself!
Does injustice bother you? Does it make you furious when law enforcement or courts of law are unjust? When politicians are corrupt? Do you maybe question the sovereignty of God in the midst of these kinds of circumstances? Let me remind you what the Scriptures teach and injustice. The trial of Christ was unjust because He was innocent. Yet He was condemned to death. Here is what I want you to understand: This unjust trial was God's plan to bring us grace.
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Yeshua of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Yeshua, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Acts 2:22-23 ESV
The word "delivered" here is a word used commonly of those who are surrendered to their enemies. God delivered Yeshua to death, not by the will of men because they plotted it out. God did not look into the future, see what men were going to do, and then somehow work that into His plan. On the contrary, it was God's foreordained plan to have His Son be delivered over to death. God laid out this plan according to His sovereign will. Yeshua would die on the Passover by crucifixion.
Through Christ's unjust treatment, grace has come to all His elect. Would you agree? It may seem strange to you that injustice can be part of the plan of a just God, but it often is. Would you say that the selling of Joseph into slavery by his brothers was unjust? Would you say that his imprisonment by Potiphar was unjust? Notice how Joseph's father felt:
And Jacob their father said to them, "You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me." Genesis 42:36 ESV
"All this has come against me"—he was dealing with some difficult circumstances. He had thought Joseph to be dead—Joseph, the son of Rachel, his beloved wife. There was a famine in the land and they had no food. Simeon had gone to Egypt for food but the prime minister (Joseph) held him there, demanding that Benjamin come to join him. Joseph was further bereaved at the thought of losing Benjamin, the younger son of Rachel. Joseph was dead, Simeon was being held captive, and they couldn't get more food unless Benjamin went to Egypt. Jacob responded that, "All this has come against me." Many of you may be feeling the same way right now. With all that is happening in our country, you may feel things are out of control. But they are not!
In actuality, at the very moment that Jacob uttered, "All this has come against me," everything was working for him and not against him. Joseph, the son that he had thought dead, was not only alive. He was the prime minister of Egypt, the greatest kingdom on the earth at that time. Egypt was the place that had the grain that could solve their famine problems. In addition, Joseph, the prime minister, the beloved son of Rachel, was longing to be with his family. The very time when Jacob said, "All this has come against me," was the very time when all of these things were working out for his ultimate blessing and good. It was through Joseph's unjust treatment that grace came to his family. To Jacob it all looked horrible. To him life seemed to be over. But in fact, however, the sovereign God was working these terrible circumstances for his good.
In our study last study we talked about Sovereignty and Circumstances. This morning I want to follow that up with a message on Sovereignty and Duty. God's sovereignty doesn't dismiss our duty. Last week I said that God's sovereignty is absolute. He not only created the universe; He controls it—all of it. And He controls it all in accordance with what He has ordained. Do you realize that whatever takes place in time is what God planned from eternity past? The "Westminster Confession of Faith" puts it this way:
God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass (chapter 3, section 1).
The Bible puts it this way:
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, Ephesians 1:11 ESV
All that comes to pass in our lives is according to the eternal plan of the all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving great God and our Father.
The sovereignty of God is absolute, irresistible, and infinite. God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, and always as He pleases so that whatever takes place in time is but the outworking of that which He decreed in eternity. Is this too strong for you? If it is, you do not understand the God of the Bible:
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalms 115:3 ESV
Nothing happens, nothing, outside the sovereign will of God. Understanding the totality of God's sovereignty usually raises one big question: If God is in control of all things, including our actions, how can we have a duty to do anything?
How many of you believe that God is sovereign? Now, let me ask this question: "How many of you feel that you have duties in life? Do you feel you have a duty to raise your children, maintain your house, fix your car? Why? If you believe that God is sovereign and that whatever takes place in time is but the outworking of that which He decreed in eternity, why do you feel a duty to do things and why pray? Nothing that we could possibly do could change God's plan, so why do anything?
The doctrine of God's sovereignty, properly understood, won't paralyze us from carrying out our duties. The doctrine of God's sovereignty is a comfort to us. It assures us that He is able to do what He has promised us. If God wasn't sovereign, He would make promises like we do—maybe with all good intentions—but without the power to carry them out. But because He is sovereign, He can, in fact, carry out every promise that He has made. God is in control of all things, including our actions. Why, then, do we have a duty to do anything?
This seeming tension between God's sovereignty and our duty has caused much debate over the years. On one side of the spectrum, to the far right, you have the hyper-Calvinists who contend that if God wants something done, He'll do it without the help of you or me. According to the hyper-Calvinists, there is no duty to share the Gospel. God does it all. On the far left of the spectrum are the Arminians who claim that if we don't do it, it won't get done. Somewhere in the middle of these extremes is the teaching of Biblical Calvinism that proclaims that although God is sovereign, we have a duty to share the Gospel. This proper understanding brings harmony between God's sovereignty and man's duty. However, in the thinking of many people, the sovereignty of God and the duty of man seem to be irreconcilable. Many ask how both can be true?
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 ESV
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, Ephesians 5:15 ESV
To the Western thinker, these verses pose the problem of how can we have a duty to walk wisely if God is directing our steps? The issue here is that the Bible is an Eastern book, and we live in a Western culture.
David Bivin writes: "In any attempt to understand the Bible, there is no substitute for a knowledge of ancient Jewish custom and practice." The Bible, in its original languages, is, humanly speaking, a product of the Hebrew mind. The following are two of the great tragedies of the last 2,000 years.
(1) The removal of all things Hebrew from the church. The church has divorced herself from her Hebrew roots. In the Byzantine period any person who became a member of a church in North Africa, Augustine's church, had to take an oath that they would never read Hebrew, never eat Jewish foods, never have Jewish friends, never go to Jewish festivals, and never read a Jewish Bible.
(2) The influence of Greek philosophy upon the interpretation of Scripture. When Greek logic is used to understand Scripture, the reader is filled with feelings of contradiction.
The biblical authors never argue the existence of God; they only assume it. God is not understood philosophically, but functionally. He acts. The Hebrews primarily thought of Him pictorially, in terms of personality and activity, not in terms of pure being or in any static sense.
There are basically two ways of thinking or approaching truth: Eastern thought and Western (Greek) thought. The Greek philosophers said the human being is god. One of the four qualities of the human that they elevated to the throne is the mind. Information is prior to experience.
Westerners are abstract thinkers. We like to put information in definition and proposition form; we like organization. We like words that carefully explain. For example, if I were to ask you who God is, what would you say? You might say that He is love and that He is almighty, holy, just, righteous, awesome, and omnipresent. Close your eyes and tell me what you see when I say these words. You don't see anything because the words love, just, and holy are not picture words. They are definitions. This is information that doesn't really affect us. It is abstract.
A Hebrew, an Eastern thinker, thinks in the form of story or picture. If you ask them who God is, they answer that God is my rock, shepherd, bread, shade, living water, Father. This is all very personal--God is "my." It is also very pictorial—you can see these! The most common symbol in the Tanakh for God is "shepherd." The second is "rock."
And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. Mark 4:24 ESV
This phrase, "Pay attention to what you hear," is obscured in the English. The words, "Pay attention" are from the Greek word blepo which means "to look at." The Greek text says "Look at what you hear." You can only do this if it is a picture.
It is clear that the Hebrews think differently than we do, and we need to have an understanding of how they think if we are going to properly interpret the Scriptures. The Hebrews often made use of block logic. Marvin Wilson wrote this about Hebraic reasoning:
Concepts were expressed in self-contained units or blocks of thought. These blocks did not necessarily fit together in any obviously rational or harmonious pattern, particularly when one block represented the human perspective on truth and the other represented the divine. This way of thinking created a propensity for paradox, antimony, or apparent contradiction, as one block stood in tension—-and often illogical relation—to the other. Hence, polarity of thought or dialectic often characterized block logic.
The Greeks used a linear logic that flows in steps from premises to a conclusion. Each step was linked closely to the next in a coherent, rational, logical fashion. The conclusion is almost always limited to one view—a human being's limited perspective on reality.
Hebraic reasoning does not focus as much on linear thought (argument) or linear narrative. Instead, it focuses on blocks of context or subject matter. For example, the Gospel narratives have chronological problems at some points because in the Hebrew mind, chronology takes a back seat to theme and content. Chronology is subsumed by more important principles. This doesn't mean that the Bible cannot be trusted in its chronology. Rather, we must understand where it is attempting to be chronological and where it is not.
Rabbi Akiva, who lived one generation after Yeshua, was regarded as one of the greatest Jewish rabbis. The Talmud (Menachos 29a) compares him favorably to Moses, which is the ultimate compliment in the Jewish Lexicon. A pronouncement of Rabbi Akiva is in effect an affirmation of the two contradictory sentiments: "All is subject to providence, yet man possesses free will" [Mishnah, Avot 3:16].
The Hebrew mind was willing to accept the truths taught on both sides of the paradox. It recognized that mystery and apparent contradiction are often signs of the divine.
The renowned biblical scholar, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, writes, "We [Jews] are practical. We are more interested in discovering what God wants man to do than we are in describing God's essence." He goes on to say that "Judaism is never afraid of contradictions… it acknowledges that full reconciliation of the two is possible only in God. He is the coincidence of opposites."
It is particularly difficult for Westerners—those whose thought patterns have been influenced more by the Greeks and Romans than by the Hebrews—to piece together the block logic of Scripture.
Eastern thinkers can live with the tensions and paradoxes surrounding block logic. To the Jew, the deed was always more important than the creed. He was not stymied by language that appeared contradictory from a human point of view. Neither did he feel compelled to reconcile what seemed irreconcilable. He believed that God ultimately was greater than any human attempt at systematizing truth.
Christianity has written a lot of creeds. Can you think of one Hebrew creed? It was gentile Christians, influenced by Greek philosophy, who both intellectualized and systematized Christian doctrine. The biblical Hebrews, and the Apostolic Era of the Church, had no formal theology as such. Nothing was systematized.
Christians are inclined to subject each other to litmus tests of orthodoxy while Jews are concerned mainly with behavior. In fundamentalist Christian circles, it is often more important to believe and espouse "the right thing" than it is to live the right way. This is why we are so obsessed with creeds, doctrinal statements, and Systematic Theologies. This mode of thinking is thoroughly Western and utterly Greek.
Intellectually, we are Greeks, not Hebrews. We apply Aristotelian and Socratic thought patterns to practically everything. It is surprisingly difficult to escape these patterns and enter into the Hebraic mind-set. We insist on rendering everything into logically consistent patterns, on systematizing it, and on organizing it into tight, carefully reasoned theologies. We cannot live with inconsistency or contradiction.
So, if we are going to understand the Bible, we will have to understand it Hebraically not Hellenistically. This will require a philosophical and intellectual paradigm shift on our part.
With that said, what I want us to look at this morning is the subject of the sovereignty of God and the duty of man. There is a tendency of some individuals to see the Doctrine of Sovereignty as fatalism. For example, on the subject of a hurricane, the fatalist would say the following: "God is going to do what He wants to do, so I'm not going to concern myself about it." They would make no preparations. They wouldn't run to the store for supplies or make sure that they had batteries or water. They wouldn't bring in or tie down the things in their yard. They would say, "If God has determined this thing to blow through my window, it will." Because they know that God is sovereign over the weather, they would make no preparations, and they wouldn't even bother to pray about the situation. You can see how this could become an excuse for all kinds of irresponsible behavior.
On the other hand, the person who rightly understands God's sovereignty would make all the preparations that wisdom dictates while the whole time praying for wisdom and protection. You might ask how prayer and the sovereignty of God fit together. In other words, if God is sovereign, why bother to pray. That is a good question. I'm glad you asked it. Let's think about this for a minute. If God weren't sovereign, what would be the use of praying? Why pray to a god who couldn't answer your prayers? The sovereignty of God, when properly understood, is an encouragement to pray, not an excuse to fall into fatalism.
Let's look at how the New Testament saints dealt with situations in light of the sovereignty of God. In the fourth chapter of the book of Acts, Peter and John are threatened by the Jewish Sanhedrin and commanded not to speak any more of Yeshua. When they shared this with the other believers, the response was, "Well, God is sovereign. I guess He'll do what He wants to do." NO! This was not their response. Their response was what? It was prayer!
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, Acts 4:24 ESV
I want you to notice that the first response of this group of believers was to turn to God in prayer. Is prayer your first response in difficult situations?
They are going to God in prayer because He has commanded them to preach the Gospel of Yeshua to all the world, but their rulers, the Sanhedrin, had commanded them not to ever preach Yeshua. They had told the court that they would not obey them, and they all knew that this was going to get ugly. So, they go to God in prayer. And they begin their prayer by affirming God as the sovereign Creator of all things:
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Yeshua, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, Acts 4:27-29 ESV
Notice verse 28. What does it teach us? There were no Arminians in the early church—they all knew that God was sovereign over everything, even over the death of His Son. The evil men threatening them were only doing what God's hand and council had foreordained. Their belief in the sovereignty of God didn't cause them to fall into fatalism; it was an encouragement to pray. Prayer assumes the sovereignty of God.
What did they pray for? Protection? No! They prayed for boldness. They were more concerned about their mission than about their comfort.
Paul, more than any other New Testament writer, taught the church about the sovereignty of God, and he lived trusting in that sovereignty. But notice that he still encouraged believers to pray:
At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. Philemon 1:22 ESV
Prayer was the expression of his confidence in the sovereignty of God. God's sovereignty does not negate our duty to pray, but, rather, makes it possible to pray with confidence.
Just as God's sovereignty does not set aside our duty to pray, it also does not negate our duty to act wisely. Acting wisely, in this context, means that we use all legitimate, biblical means at our disposal to avoid harm to ourselves or others and to bring about what we believe to be the right course of events.
David gives us a good illustration of how to act wisely when he fled from Saul. Saul was determined to kill David. So, David did everything he could to avoid Saul. David acted wisely. David knew that he was to be king some day:
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. 1 Samuel 16:13 ESV
He had already been anointed to succeed Saul. And David knew that the Sovereign God would carry out His purpose:
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. Psalms 57:2 ESV
But even thought David knew that God would fulfill His purpose for him, he didn't just sit down and say, "Saul can't hurt me because God had ordained that I be king, and I can't be king if I'm dead." David fled from Saul and took every precaution so that Saul could not kill him. David didn't presume upon the sovereignty of God, but acted wisely in dependence upon God to bless his efforts. He ran from Saul, and he prayed to God.
We see this same wisdom in Paul's life. Paul was a prisoner of Rome on his way to Rome when the ship was caught in the midst of a severe storm. Let's pick up the narrative at verse 19:
And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. Acts 27:19-22 ESV
How could Paul say this? How did he know that no one would die? God told Him:
For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island." Acts 27:23-26 ESV
Paul and the men on the ship had a promise from God that there would be no loss of life. At this point, did they all just sit back and enjoy the ride? No! They still used wisdom and did all they could to save the ship and themselves. When some of them tried to leave the ship in lifeboats, Paul said:
Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved." Acts 27:31 ESV
Why did Paul say this? Even though he had a promise from God that none of them would die, he still acted wisely—he used all legitimate, biblical means at his disposal to avoid harm to himself and others and to bring about what he believed to be the right course of events. Paul did not see a conflict between God's sovereignty and his duty to act wisely.
Paul knew God's sovereign will on the matter, and yet he still worked hard to bring it about. We don't know God's sovereign will in specific situations. So, we too should use wisdom and act responsibly, praying the whole time. We need to act wisely because God usually works through means. We see this in the story of Hezekiah:
In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, 'Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.'" Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, "Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: "Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, 2 Kings 20:1-5 ESV
Hezekiah had been told by God that he was going to die, and yet he still prayed. He didn't say, "Well, God You're sovereign, so do what You will." He cried out to God in prayer, and God added fifteen years to his life:
and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David's sake." 2 Kings 20:6 ESV
Great story! Hezekiah prays, and God grants him fifteen years. God told him, "I will add fifteen years to your life." That is a promise from God, and Hezekiah could depend upon it. But notice the next verse:
And Isaiah said, "Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover." 2 Kings 20:7 ESV
What if Hezekiah had said, "God is sovereign and He said I am to live for fifteen more years, so I don't need the figs." I believe that Hezekiah would have died because God used the means of the figs to preserve his life.
We also see how God uses means to carry out His sovereign will in the book of Nehemiah. When Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, he and the people faced the threat of attack from their enemies:
But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. Nehemiah 4:7-8 ESV
Notice carefully Nehemiah's response:
And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. Nehemiah 4:9 ESV
They turned to God in prayer, and they posted a guard. They prayed to God, and they also acted in wisdom:
From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. Nehemiah 4:16-18 ESV
Did they have their weapons because they did not trust in God? NO! They trusted God:
In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us." Nehemiah 4:20 ESV
They knew that God would fight for them, but they also knew that God uses means, so they were ready to be used of God in the fighting. Nehemiah 4:9 really gives us a good picture of what it means to trust God:
And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. Nehemiah 4:9 ESV
Prayer is the acknowledgment of God's sovereignty and of our dependence upon Him to act on our behalf. Wisdom is the acknowledgment of our duty to use all legitimate means. We dare not separate these two. We also see this truth illustrated in:
The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had valiant men who carried shield and sword, and drew the bow, expert in war, 44,760, able to go to war. They waged war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab. And when they prevailed over them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him. 1 Chronicles 5:18-20 ESV
Here we have a bunch of well-trained, well-armed warriors. They had wisely prepared for battle, but they did not trust in their training or their ability. They used wisdom and prepared for battle, and they trusted in God when the battle came. They "cried out to God in the battle"—this is prayer. They prayed because they trusted God and not their own ability. Please notice carefully why God answered their prayers—"because they trusted in Him."
I hope that you can see from this that trust in God does not negate acting wisely on our part. We do all we can do to prepare for a certain situation, and while doing it, we trust completely in God and not in our own wisdom. All of our wisdom in planning is useless without the Lord:
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalms 127:1 ESV
This verse sums up our responsibility—building and watching. In all areas of life, physical and spiritual, we should be building and watching. But according to this verse, none of our efforts will be prosperous apart from God. This verse speaks of God Himself doing the building and watching, but that doesn't mean that we are not involved. It means that we are totally dependent upon Him if our efforts are to be successful. This is dependent discipline. We are totally dependent upon God, and yet we discipline ourselves to do what we know is wise.
We need to trust God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. There are times and circumstances in life when we can do nothing but trust in God's sovereignty. An example of this is seen in Deuteronomy 8.
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV
The Israelites didn't need to work for their food. All they needed to do was trust God to provide it. God was teaching them to trust in Him.
We must also trust Him to enable us to do what we can do for ourselves. The farmer must work very hard to produce a crop. He plows, plants, waters, and harvests. But he is completely dependent on God to make the crop grow. God controls the forces of nature which he depends upon to bring forth the harvest. We all know that a farmer must depend upon God for the harvest. But what we might overlook is that the farmer is also dependent on God for the ability to plow, plant, and harvest. Every ability that he has, every ounce of strength that he has, and every bit of knowledge and skill that he has come from God also.
For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV
You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:18 ESV
Everything we are and have comes from the hand of God. We are dependent on Him for every breath we take and for every beat of our heart. There are times when we can do nothing, and there are times when we must work. In both circumstances we are equally to trust in God.
We are never to use the Doctrine of God's Sovereignty as an excuse for our laziness or our lack of wisdom. Because God is sovereign, should we just sit back and count on Him to feed us? If He has planned for us to eat, we will—right? Wrong! God uses means to accomplish His ends, and the way He feeds us is through our labor:
The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing. Proverbs 20:4 ESV
Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks. Ecclesiastes 10:18 ESV
The house is not said to decay because of God's sovereign plan but because of man's laziness. If a student fails an exam because he did not study, he can't blame it on God's sovereign will. The fault rests upon his own lack of diligence. God is sovereign over everything that happens in life, but we still have a duty to ack wisely. Don't ever use God's sovereignty as an excuse for your failure to use wisdom.
Alexander Carson put it this way: "Let us learn… that as God has promised to protect us and provide for us, it is through the means of His appointment, vigilance, prudence, and industry, that we are to look for these blessings."
The Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign. He rules the universe. He controls everything that happens. The Bible also teaches just as clearly that we have a duty to act wisely. Let's hold equally to both, doing our duty as it is revealed to us in the Scriptures and trusting God to sovereignly work out His purpose in us and through us.
I pray that the teaching on God's sovereignty will not be misused by us to neglect our duties but that it will encourage us to pray and act wisely as we trust in our sovereign God.