Thursday, January 29, 2009

January 30 Providence

January 30

“For everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power, and everything is for his glory.” (Romans 11:36 LB)
“You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3).

Calvin: To make God a momentary Creator, who once for all finished his work, would be cold and barren, and we must differ from unbelievers especially in that we see the presence of divine power shining as much in the continuing state of the universe just as much now as when it was begun. Unless we pass on to his providence—however, we may seem both to comprehend with the mind and to confess with the tongue- we do not yet properly grasp what it means to say “God is Creator.” Carnal sense thinks there is an energy divinely bestowed from the beginning , sufficient to sustain all things. But faith ought to penetrate more deeply, and ought to conclude he is also everlasting Governor and Preserver. God not only drives the framework of the world in a universal motion, but He also sustains, nourishes, cares for everything he has made even to the least sparrow [Mt. 10:29]. The prophet forbids God’s children “to fear the stars and signs of heaven as disbelievers commonly do.” Jer. 10:2]. When unbelievers transfer the government of the universe from God to the stars, they believe that their luck or misery depends upon the motion of the stars and not on God’s will. So their fear is transferred from him , toward whom alone they ought to direct it, to stars and comets. God is the keeper of the keys and governs all events. (Inst. I.16.1-4)

Who is really in charge of things? Calvin asks and answers that question. It is not us- we are finite and basically selfish. It is not the stars- they were made by God, set in motion by God. Today many live as if no one is in charge, and so they are responsible to take charge.
One thing this economy teaches us is that really hard workers, really smart people, really dedicated people who do all the right things can still get laid off. Sometimes it is impossible to take charge. If we are in charge and we the current is too strong to swim against, then it is a problem. People have thought that education, hard work, and buying things are the meaning of life. Yet people who are educated are unable to get jobs. People who work hard are being laid off. People cannot buy what they used to buy.
The Christian alternative is to trust God. The meaning in life is not tied to what we can create or produce. If that was true then those who are sick or who are retired could have no meaning. The meaning is not tied to what we create, but to the Creator Himself. Meaning is not something that happens once and stops. God instills the earth and all creation with meaning, energy, and His sovereign hand. It makes sense that the God who , in his power created the universe, still has power over it. God is a good governor, a righteous governor, and defines love and goodness by His nature (in contrast to Rod Blagojevich). We can trust God’s faithfulness and care for us.
Below are two quotes about God’s providential care. One shows God as our provider. The other points out (by one of our founders) that our nation needs God to sustain it.
Back of the loaf is the snowy flour,
And back of the flour the mill,
And back of the mill is the wheat and the shower,
And the sun and the Father's will.
Maltbie D. Babcock (1858-1901)

The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of man; and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?
-- Benjamin Franklin

Providence enables us to trust instead of be afraid- to have peace and hope. This is important today.

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