control of circumstances

©2020 dan bulkley |


In Part 1 of this series, we discussed how our sinful human nature desires to be in control, even of God. We too often want God to act and behave according to what we want, often ending up in a wrestling match with our Creator for control.

Similarly, as sinful humans, we often want to control the variable and the circumstances around us. In this part of our study, we will examine the human desire for control over our circumstances, and the flaws in our desire to be in control.

control of circumstances

section 1

While circumstances are not really in our control jeremiah 10:23 , we delude ourselves thinking that we can somehow substantially bend our situations to our will habakkuk 1:11 through various means, whether by exerting power over others matthew 20:25-28, trying to get those with power on our side proverbs 29:26 , manipulation and duplicity proverbs 6:12-15 proverbs 23:6-7 , striving and laboring to get what you want proverbs 23:4 ecclesiastes 4:4 6 ecclesiastes 6:9 matthew 6:31-32 , etc.

supporting scriptures

jeremiah 10:23

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.

habakkuk 1:11

Then they sweep past like the wind and go on— guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”

matthew 20:25-28

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

proverbs 29:26

Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.

proverbs 6:12-15

A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth,

13 who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers,

14 who plots evil with deceit in his heart— he always stirs up conflict.

15 Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

proverbs 23:6-7

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies;

7 for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

proverbs 23:4

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.

ecclesiastes 4:4

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

ecclesiastes 4:6

Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

ecclesiastes 6:9

Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

matthew 6:31-32

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

section 2

When we try to control/manipulate those circumstances by our ways, we will inevitably use wicked means to do so james 3:15-16 james 4:1-2 romans 1:28-31 matthew 15:19 : i.e. slander, flattery, exaggeration, stealing, gossip, guilt-tripping, lying, murder, boasting, bribery, conflict, etc.

supporting scriptures

james 3:15-16

Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

james 4:1-2

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

romans 1:28-31

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

matthew 15:19

For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

section 3

Every sin at its core is about getting, keeping and/or experiencing something for yourself i john 2:16 . Controlling our circumstances is really only a white-washed, pragmatic approach matthew 23:27 i corinthians 1:21-23
i thessalonians 2:5 to controlling the God of our circumstances acts 17:26 .

supporting scriptures

i john 2:16

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

matthew 23:27

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

i corinthians 1:21-23

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,

23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

i thessalonians 2:5

You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness.

acts 17:26

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

section 4

One should be careful to recognize that God alone is the Master of our here and now ecclesiastes 7:13-14 . We make our plans proverbs 16:1 and take our steps proverbs 16:9 , but it is the Lord Who actually controls our circumstances in which we live james 4:13-16 proverbs 3:5-6 ; no matter how we may try to create our own reality; Truth wins out job 9:12 isaiah 46:10-11 ii corinthians 13:8 .

supporting scriptures

ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?

14 When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.

proverbs 16:1

To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

my notes:

james 4:13-16

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

job 9:12

If he snatches away, who can stop him?

Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’

isaiah 46:10-11

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’

11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.

ii corinthians 13:8

For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.

my notes:

section 5

So do not give into fear and deceive yourself by thinking controlling your circumstances will help luke 12:22-32 ; rather respond to the Lord, understanding that He has given us our lot in life ecclesiastes 5:19-20 psalm 16:5 , and trying to change our circumstances i corinthians 7:24 outside of God’s Biblical instruction i corinthians 7:21 jeremiah 26:13 only leads to more evil psalm 37:8 .

supporting scriptures

luke 12:22-32

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

my notes:

ecclesiastes 5:19-20

Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.

20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.

psalm 16:5

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

i corinthians 7:24

Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

i corinthians 7:21

Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so.

jeremiah 26:13

Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the Lord your God. Then the Lord will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you.

psalm 37:8

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.

my notes:

section 6

For when one obeys God’s instruction matthew 7:24-27 you are not trying to control God, your circumstances or others, but rather submitting to the Father of our spirit hebrews 12:9 psalm 32:8-9 ; which is the opposite of selfish, wicked control and yet accomplishes the very thing that selfish control would futilely seek to obtain proverbs 19:16 matthew 16:24-25 at the cost of others galatians 5:15 titus 3:3 , but through God’s instruction abundant life is obtained WITH the benefit to others and God’s glory and not to their detriment romans 13:8-10 . His instructions then frees us to enjoy the will of God and speak the “so be it” ii corinthians 1:20 knowing it is the Lord Who brings about His good will for our life romans 12:2 as He wrestles with our hearts to deal with us just as we individually need i kings 8:39-40 i kings 8:58-60 for the benefit of all titus 3:8 . It is as God wills i chronicles 29:11-12 psalm 31:15 isaiah 45:7-12 .

supporting scriptures

matthew 7:24-27

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

hebrews 12:9

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!

my notes:

psalm 32:8-9

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

proverbs 19:16

Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life, but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.

matthew 16:24-25

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

galatians 5:15

If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

titus 3:3

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

romans 13:8-10

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

ii corinthians 1:20

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

i kings 8:39-40

then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.

my notes:

i kings 8:58-60

May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. 59 And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other.

titus 3:8

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

i chronicles 29:11-12

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.

psalm 31:15

My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.

my notes:

isaiah 45:7-12

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

8 “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the Lord, have created it.

9 “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?

10 Woe to the one who says to a father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to a mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’

11 “This is what the Lord says— the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?

12 It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.

don’t forget parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of this series, available separately