Wednesday, May 20, 2009

5/21- How do We Keep Faith?

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (II Timothy 4:7,8)

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Rev. 2:4,5) To those who are victorious and do my will to the end I will…give authority over nations (2:26), I will make pillars in the temple of my God- never will they leave it; (3:11); I will give the right to sit with me on my throne (3:21)

Calvin: There is no other reason why some persevere to the end, while others fall at the beginning of the course. For perseverance itself is indeed also a gift of God, which he does not bestow on all indiscriminately, but
imparts to whom he pleases. If one seeks the reason for the difference — why some steadfastly persevere, and others fail out of instability — none occurs to us other than that the Lord upholds the former, strengthening
them by his own power, that they may not perish; while to the latter, that they may be examples of inconstancy, he does not impart the same power. (II.5.3)

On this day (1536) Geneva declared itself Protestant. Ironically, today there are more Roman Catholics (39.5%) in the city than Protestant (17.4%). In 1816 the city allowed Catholic parishes within its bounds. On June 30, 1907 the city declared a separation of church and state. Since World War II the city state has steadily lost its Protestant population base.
Many Christians in the West are losing their faith (down 8-10% in the USA in ten years), while the faith is growing in China, Africa, and South America. There are many reasons for this from a secular point of view: 1) The secularism of the West, and the cutting out of the government’s even subtle support of the faith. 2) The accompanying degrading of a corporate day of rest and worship (time for God); 3) The sexual revolution and its accompanying rebellion against scriptural principles; 4) The Enlightenment idea that we are the judges of religion instead of religion judging us. 5) A lack of desire to believe the scriptures and a scholarly justification of that through hyper-criticism of scripture.
There was a study done concerning those who grew up Presbyterian and were still Presbyterians as adult, to find out what they had in common. The study basically found that those who went to summer camps or on mission trips as youth tended to keep their faith as adults. Those kind of retreat settings allow those in a secular environment see what it might be like to live as Christians in a non-secular, God-centered, believing environment.
In the end, Calvin had it right. We can go to camp, go on a mission trip, read the scriptures on our own, attend church regularly, but we still could fall away. Perseverance is a gift from God as much as anything else. So we should ask God for the gift of perseverance for our young people, and for the next generation. We need to ask that God would move again in our midst.

Prayer: Lord, you are able to keep us from stumbling. In a world full of darkness, keep our light shining that we might glorify and bless you. Move again, by the power of your Holy Spirit, and renew, reform, and remake us.

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