Friday, May 29, 2009

5/30- Through the Valley

(Calvin's empty chair)

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

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23)
Calvin: 4. Though I should walk. True believers, although they dwell safely under the protection of God, are, notwithstanding, exposed to many dangers, or rather they are liable to all the afflictions which befall mankind in common, that they may the better feel how much they need the protection of God. David, therefore, here expressly declares, that if any adversity should befall him, he would lean upon the providence of God. Thus he does not promise himself continual pleasures; but he fortifies himself by the help of God courageously to endure the various calamities with which he might be visited. Pursuing his metaphor, he compares the care which God takes in governing true believers to a shepherd’s staff and crook, declaring that he is satisfied with this as all-sufficient for the protection of his life. As a sheep, when it wanders up and down through a dark valley, is preserved safe from the attacks of wild beasts and from harm in other ways, by the presence of the shepherd alone, so David now declares that as often as he shall be exposed to any danger, he will have sufficient defense and protection in being under the pastoral care of God. We thus see how, in his prosperity, he never forgot that he was a man, but even then seasonably meditated on the adversities which afterwards might
come upon him. And certainly, the reason why we are so terrified, when it pleases God to exercise us with the cross, is, because every man, that he may sleep soundly and undisturbed, wraps himself up in carnal security.
But there is a great difference between this sleep of stupidity and the repose which faith produces. Since God tries faith by adversity, it follows that no one truly confides in God, but he who is armed with invincible
constancy for resisting all the fears with which he may be assailed. Yet David did not mean to say that he was devoid of all fear, but only that he would surmount it so as to go without fear wherever his shepherd should lead him. This appears more clearly from the context. He says, in the first place, I will fear no evil; but immediately adding the reason of this, he openly acknowledges that he seeks a remedy against his fear in contemplating, and having his eyes fixed on, the staff of his shepherd. (Commentary on Psalm 23)

Calvin believed that when life was good we become forgetful of God; but when life is hard we learn to look to God and trust in Him. Denying ourselves and carrying the cross are ways that we not only follow in Jesus’ footsteps as disciples. The hard things in life refine us, mold us, shape us, and cause us to remember God. Calvin had a tough life- as I have enumerated many times. He was sick much of his life; he had no children of his own; He slept little and worked with unflagging purpose and zeal. He was forced out of France, Italy, and Geneva. Yet the more he suffered, the closer he appeared to get in his faith. That is a lesson for us. In our day of economic hardship and tough times; In our day of sin’s growing and the church’s shrinking, God is shaping his people.

Prayer: Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me, fill me, mold me, use me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. (Daniel Iverson- Presbyterian minister NC)

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