April 13 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 

Praise God. 
That he is our God, the Lord of Hosts and the God of Jacob, and that he is with us. That he is our refuge, strength and fortress, and when he speaks, the earth melts. That he will be exalted among the nations. Psalm 46
 
Acknowledge sin.
Confess the sin to God, of having too low a view of his being and power. Ask God to give you a desire to know him as he is.
 
Let's read Luke 2:21-25
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
 
v21 His Obedience.
What do we read happens to Jesus in the first days of his life? Circumcision on the eighth day was a requirement of God's Law. (Genesis 17:12). But why was it necessary for the perfect Son of God to be circumcised? Circumcision, after all, is a sign of God's covenant blessing of grace upon his sinful people. Jesus was circumcised to bear public recognition to the fact that he was "born under the law to redeem those who were under the law". (Galatians 4:4). Without it, he would not have fulfilled the Law's requirements as a Jew. He also needed to be circumcised to be accepted as a rabbi, teacher, in Israel. Without it, he would have been barred from teaching in lawful Jewish assemblies and from participating in any Jewish ordinance. Simply put, the Jews would have looked at him as being no better than an uncircumcised Gentile, an apostate to the faith.
 
As it was, throughout his life, Jesus lived under the Law, but he did so without ever breaking it. In fact, we are told that he learned 'obedience through what he suffered'. (Hebrew 5:8). An astonishing statement when considered that it refers to the perfect Son of God.  
 
Whilst, like the Old Testament saints, we cannot earn salvation through obeying God's Law, there is, nonetheless, a direct correlation between the keeping of God's Law, obedience, and God's blessing. Antinomianism, the rejection of God's Law as being applicable today, is a real problem in the church at large today. For example, the disregarding of the command to keep the Sabbath day holy has done untold damage both to people's lives, and the witness of the church. The consequence has been a weakening of our nation. Of course, that doesn't mean that we have to act oddly. Just as Jesus submitted throughout his life to God's Law and had good relationships with those around him, so we can uphold the Law of God and still be wise and engaging in our interaction with others.
 
v21 His Name.
What name was the child given and who choose the name? What does the name Jesus mean? The word Jesus simply means "Saviour". It is the same word as "Joshua" in the Old Testament. J.C. Ryle writes, and I think he makes the point excellently, so I will just quote him, "The selection of this name is very striking and instructive. The Son of God came down from Heaven to be not only the Savior — but the King, the Law-giver, the Prophet, the Priest, the Judge of fallen man. Had He chosen any one of these titles, He would only have chosen that which was His own. But He passed by them all. He selects a name which speaks of mercy, grace, help, and deliverance for a lost world. It is as a Deliverer and Redeemer that He desires principally to be known. Let us often ask ourselves, what our own hearts know of the Son of God. Is He our Jesus — our Savior? This is the question on which our salvation turns. Let it not content us to know Christ as One who wrought mighty miracles, and spoke as never man spoke; or to know Him as One who is fully God, and will one day judge the world. Let us see that we know Him experimentally — as our Deliverer from the guilt and power of sin, and our Redeemer from Satan's bondage. Let us strive to be able to say, 'This is my Friend! I was dead — and He gave me life! I was a prisoner — and He set me free.'"
 
v22-24 The Presentation at The Temple
Two separate ceremonies are involved here; there is the presentation of the child, and the purification of the mother. The presentation of the first-born male child was required for that child was called “holy to the Lord”. The quotation is a summation of the sense of several Old Testament passages, Exodus 1:2,12,15 and Numbers 18:15. It was usual that five shekels were paid to redeem the firstborn. (Numbers 18:15ff). The fact that Luke does not mention it, which is unusual for a man who records many of the details, leaves us pondering whether or not it was paid. But probably best to leave it at that. The Levitical Law stated that after the birth of a son, a woman would be unclean for seven days leading up to the circumcision and that she should then keep away from holy things for thirty days after that. (Leviticus 12:1-5, for a daughter the time was doubled.) Thereafter, she would bring a lamb, and a dove or a pigeon as an offering to the Lord. If she could not bring a lamb, i.e. she couldn't afford one, she could bring a second dove or pigeon. (Leviticus 12:6-13). It is an indication of just how poor the home was that Jesus was born into that Mary could only do the latter. 
 
If we think about it, we tend to think of the act of Jesus' coming to earth from heaven as a colossal condescension, a step down. A big part of it, though, was not just the fact of his coming, which is mind-boggling in itself, but it is that poverty marked the entirety of his life. He was raised in a poor man's home, loving yes, but still poor, and of his adult life Jesus said of it, "foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head". (Luke 9:59).
 
Poverty is something that we fear, and I am not advocating careless wanton behaviour, but as we enter what could be a decade of financial difficulty, let's take care to remember the daily real-life experience of Jesus, and the fact that if God can care for the birds of the air who neither sow nor reap, then he will care for us. As Jesus said, our heavenly father knows what we need and will provide it; our task is to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and everything we need will be given to us. (Matthew 6:25-34.)
 
 
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 23B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
 
 
Memory Verse. 
Keep up the memorizing, it will be good for your heart relationship with the Lord.
Psalm 121C:1-4, "Unto the hills I lift my longing eyes; whence comes my aid? The Lord's my help, the heavens and earth by him were made. Your foot from stumbling He will always keep; the One who guards your life will never sleep. He who keeps Israel slumbers not nor sleeps, by night or day."
 
 
Something to think about. Shorter Catechism.
Q. 11. What are God's works of providence? 
A. God's works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.

Scripture proofs pdf - https://opc.org/documents/SCLayout.pdf
 
 
Thank God.
Thank God for the privilege of worship yesterday and for his loving provision of everything that he gives to us. Thank him that the Lord Jesus showed us by his life that we do not need 'things' to give value and meaning to our lives, but rather we need a living relationship with God through him. 
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley