April 16 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 
Praise God. 
Praise God for his life-changing mercy and grace. Praise God for the hope of new life in Jesus Christ for all eternity. Ephesians 2:1-10. 
 
Thank God.
Thank God for his Word and the blessing it is to our lives. Thank God for the opportunity to rest our mind and body, and worship him this past Lord’s Day. Psalm 19:7-14, Exodus 20:8-11, Psalm 27:1-6.
  
Acknowledge sin.
Acknowledge and confess the sin of sometimes being complacent in our interaction with God through his Word. Ask God to give us a daily hunger for him and his Word. Psalm 63:1-3, Matthew 5:6.
 
Let us "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2 
Pray for those in the congregation working in hospitals and other front-line services. 
 
 
Let's read Luke 2:41-52.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
 
The Boy.
We know nothing of Jesus' boyhood apart from this one incident, which Luke alone relates. It would be nice to know more of the young Jesus' life, how he interacted with his siblings, how he handled the years of transition from childhood to youth, how much he enjoyed his work-life before he was thirty, but we bow to, and accept, the silence of Scripture on the subject. If it had been good for us to know more, then more would have been revealed.
 
V41. The reason for going to Jerusalem.
What are we told the parents do annually? Male Jews were required to observe the three Feasts per annum at the Temple. These were the Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. (Exodus 23:14-17). Given the distance involved, with Jews scattered all over the Roman empire, many made the journey once a year. Joseph, joined by Mary, made the trip once a year to observe the Passover, the feast that commemorated the deliverance of the nation from Egypt. (Exodus 12). It was approximately a 150 km journey and would have meant probably being away from home for at least two weeks, not an inexpensive occurrence for a relatively poor family. But God had given Israel a command, he had appointed an ordinance for their spiritual good, and Joseph and Mary observed it together as a family. 
 
This current season is giving us an opportunity to do things differently. If you are not in the habit of worshipping God as a family, I urge you to do so. Is there a better thing a family could do together than worship God in their home, and with the people of God on the Lord's day?
 
V42. Jesus in the Temple. 
What age was Jesus when this particular event happened? When a Jewish boy was thirteen, he would become a 'son of the law,' a full member of the synagogue according to rabbinic literature, i.e. not Biblical law. As a point of interest and nothing more, the rabbis based this on Genesis 34:25, which refers to Levi as a 'man'; when a calculation from other verses suggests that Levi was thirteen at the time. Some of this rabbinic literature provided for a boy to be taken to some of the Feasts a year or two years before he was thirteen, so that he would be prepared for the day when he would become a full member of the synagogue. 
 
V43. Jesus is ‘lost’.
When the Feast is over, what happens? Those who are parents will relate to the situation well. With friends and family, the children are playing together and every one is enjoying each other's company. Time passes, the day goes quickly and then it is 'where is ….?' He/she is probably with 'so and so' and then the search begins, the attitude is reasonably relaxed to start with, but then as the child isn't found the search becomes that bit more frantic. Not being able to find Jesus, Joseph and Mary conclude that there is only one place he can be - back in Jerusalem, and so they make the days journey back. All the time their minds would have been churning with; 'how could this have happened?', 'why did I/you/we not check?', 'how is he going to cope by himself?', 'are we going to find him?' Remember, Jerusalem would have been teaming with people from all over the Roman world attending the Festival, and milling among the thousands of people there for the feasts would have been those with malicious intentions seeking to take advantage of the relative chaos in the city at the time.
  
V46. How long did it take them to find Jesus, presumably from when they last saw him? Where did they find him? And who was he with? What was he doing? As an aside, it is interesting that this child was welcome to sit among these men and ask questions of them. It displays the type of openness that should be present in any form of teaching. What does this event tell us about the young lad Jesus and his desire to know the ways of God? 
 
V47. The interaction with the Teachers of the law.
What is the reaction of the Jewish teachers to Jesus' interaction with them? Now remember, Jesus is engaging here with them as a normal 12-year-old boy, albeit with a mind unaffected by sin. So, it is clear that what he had been taught as a child he had learned and processed for himself. We need to be praying that our children, as they are taught, will learn and process what they are being taught for themselves, especially in regard to the things of God. We are currently learning Psalm 121 as part of this Daily Encouragement and I am struggling, primarily because I memorized the Scottish Metrical version of Psalm 121, along with a number of other Psalms, as a child. It is a struggle I am glad to have. When I went to theological college, I couldn't understand why Systematic Theology came to me so easily; it was only years later that I realized that, as a child, I had attained a basic understanding of doctrine through memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Let's not be slow to teach, instruct, catechize in the Word and doctrine of God, and let's not be surprised at what children can and do learn. 
 
V48. Joseph’s and Mary's reaction and Jesus’ response.
What is Joseph's and Mary's initial reaction? What does Mary say? Their response and Mary's words are totally natural, aren't they? It shows us the fact that this was a typical family. What does Jesus say in response? His answer indicates that Jesus, even at such a young age, had a clear idea of the importance of service to God. His use of 'my Father' also shows that he probably had some sense of the special relationship he had with God the Father. So, the first recorded words of the Messiah relate to his unique relationship with God, and of the necessity of his being and serving in his Father's house. This was something which obviously his parents couldn't grasp all at once. It was something that they would come to understand more over time.
 
V51. They return home as a family.
It seems such a simple statement, 'he went down with them to Nazareth and was submissive to them' and yet, how powerful it is. Jesus was obedient to his parents even though he knew and understood more than they did about God and his truth; why? Because he was obedient to his Father in heaven. And, again we find, as she did on the night he was born, Mary treasuring these things in her heart. 
 
V52. Jesus continues to grow in every way.
Just read and ponder with joy the beauty of this verse. 
 
 
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. 14. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.
Scripture proofs pdf - https://opc.org/documents/SCLayout.pdf
 
 
Thank God.
Thank God for the privilege we have to teach and instruct our covenant children. Pray that God would give us the humble desire to do so with an eye to them attaining a greater measure of knowledge and understanding than ourselves. 
Pray for their salvation and that we might see, by God's grace, them grow into becoming lovers and servers of God. 
 
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley