Thursday, October 22, 2009

10/22- Luke 1:51-55 God Honors

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

10/22/09 Luke 1:51-55

51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors."

Calvin abridged: “He has performed mighty deeds” – The arm of God is contrasted with every other aid: as when Isaiah said, “I looked and there was none to help (Isa. 63:5). The proud gain nothing by endeavoring to oppose God; or, because God does not display the power of his arm for salvation, except in the case of the humble, while the proud are thrown down. So Peter [and James] say, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord that He may lift you up” (1 Pt. 5:6). “Scattered the proud…in their thoughts”- As their pride and ambition are outrageous, as their covetousness is insatiable, they pile up deliberations into an immense heap- building the tower of Babel (Gen 11:9). When God has for a time looked down from heaven on their splendid preparations, he unexpectedly scatters the whole mass—as when a building is overturned, and its parts formerly together, are widely scattered in every direction. 52- “He has brought down rulers”- God does not delight in changes or elevate in mockery to a lofty station, those whom he has determined to quickly throw down. It is the depravity of human beings that overturns the state of things, because no one acknowledges that the disposal of everyone is placed in his will and power. When Mary says that it is God who casts down nobles and exalts the humble, she teaches us that the world does not revolve by a blind impulse of Fortune, but by the Providence of God and his justice. “He has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty”- This is because the great, the rich and powerful, raised by their abundance, ascribe all the praise to themselves, and leave nothing to God. We should carefully be on our guard against being carried away by prosperity, and a proud contentment in the non-spiritual, lest God should suddenly deprive us of what we enjoy. To the godly who are poor or hungry and lift up their cry to God, this doctrine that God cares for their need is a great consolation. 54-“He has helped his servant Israel”- The meaning is that God has now granted the salvation that was previously promised. “Servant” could also be translated “child”; The reason why the nation was lifted up though it was fallen was so that his mercy would be shown in its preservation. 55- “To Abraham and to his descendants”- She is talking of the solemn covenant with Abraham and his posterity. We are part of his descendants if we have the faith of Abraham.

Thoughts: We are proud in our thoughts. In our culture we believe we are ontologically better than the people of old. Not just that we have more gadgets and easier lives, but that we really know so much better. In our knowledge (which puffs up), we go against what Mary has said. There is a huge difference in believing it is all up to us, and trusting in God as the lifter of our heads. The difference is not found in our actions as much as in our attitudes. Mary is someone who would have disappeared in history, but instead is the leading female of all of history. This poor servant girl would be remembered more than most kings , queens, dukes, or politicians. Luke who wrote these words, could not have possibly understood how her fame would be spread through all of history and throughout the world, almost to the edge of worship by some. Mary knew God was lifting her up, and she knew it not by a political poll, or someone giving her a trophy or an interview- but by shear faith. We would do well to imitate her trust in God. When God was lifting up the boy Samuel to a position where he would anoint kings, he said, "He who honors me I will honor." God lifts us up, and He is worthy of our honor.

Prayer: You, O Lord, are a shield around us. You’re our glory and the lifter of our heads. (Psalm 3:3).

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