Sunday, May 24, 2009

5/24- Providence, Hope, and Memorial Day

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

6 The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit— a wife who married young, only to be rejected," says your God. 7 "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 3 All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace. 14 In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. (Isaiah 54)

Calvin: The Lord has not only testified that the office of magistrate is approved by and acceptable to him, but he also sets out its dignity with the most honorable titles and marvelously commends it to us.F954 To mention a few:
Since those who serve as magistrate are called “gods” [Exodus 22:8, Psalm 82:1, 6]. It has not come about by human perversity that the authority over all things on earth is in the hands of kings and other rulers, but by divine providence and holy ordinance. For God was pleased so to rule the affairs of men, inasmuch as he is present with them and also presides over the making of laws and the exercising of equity in courts of justice. Paul also plainly teaches this when he lists “ruling” among God’s gifts [Romans 12:8, KJV or RV], which, variously distributed according to the diversity of grace, ought to be used by Christ’s servants for the upbuilding of the church. For even though Paul is there speaking specifically of a council of sober men, who were appointed in the primitive church to preside over the ordering of public discipline (which office is called in the letter to the Corinthians, “governments” [1 Corinthians 12:28]), yet because we see the civil power serving the same end, there is no doubt that he commends to us every kind of just rule. (IV.20.4)

It is no accident that Calvin himself and many of his followers were persecuted. Nobles, kings, and priests saw the Reformed faith as a threat to their power, and perhaps to stability in their country. It is no accident that many of Calvin’s followers came to the new world seeking freedom. Calvin himself sent two chaplains to Brazil with a French Huguenot group of colonizers. By doing so, he was lending his approval to finding a place of hope and refuge for his followers. He hoped for a place where they could be free from religious persecution, and free to practice their faith. The Huguenots came early (Brazil, Port Royal, and Florida), but failed in their attempt to found a colony. They later came in droves to South Carolina (Henry Laurens-first president of the Continental Congress was a Huguenot, so was Francis Marion- the Revolutionary War general, and other).
Puritans came trying to escape to the new world and start a “city on a hill” a light for all the world to see. Pilgrims and Baptists (often Calvinistic/English Baptists) came as well. Sometimes religious freedom was hard to be grasped as the newly founded groups came to power themselves, sometimes restricting others. There is no doubt Calvin indirectly had a profound affect on early America and does so today. On Memorial Day weekend, this is an important concept to remember.

Prayer: God of the nations, King of kings, help us to trust in you to guide the nations. Guide our country, Lord, into the future.

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