April 29 - Encouragement to Be With God

Remember, you can use this material in whatever way best works for you and your family. The key thing is that you use it in a way that will lead you to delight in God himself. This is about you and God. This is about your family and God. This is about daily growing in your knowledge of, and love for, God. 
Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God. 
Praise God that he has revealed himself in Creation, in his Word and in the person of his Son. Praise God that he spoke, and all that is came into existence. Praise God that he has breathed out his truth for us. Psalm 19, 2 Timothy 3:16,17, and 2 Corinthians 4:6.
Acknowledge sin.
Acknowledge the sin of not fully comprehending the magnitude and majesty of Creation, and the power involved in creating it. Give thanks that genuine scientific discoveries are continuing to speak to the truth of Creation.  Confess your sin of failing to engage with God in his Word as befits a follower of Christ, and a lover of God. Confess your excuses for not doing so.  Pray to God for his help to be disciplined as you pursue him and his glory.

Let us "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2.
Pray for the RP ministers in Canada that they would be given strength to continue their work in the current restrictions. Pray that they would not grow weary in doing good.

Let's read Luke 4:14-22.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
We now come to the ministry of Jesus in Galilee. 
V14. Jesus' public ministry is in the Power of the Spirit. 
How does Luke describe Jesus' return to Galilee? People could clearly see the power of God the Holy Spirit in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is at the heart of all God's work in our lives. It is the Holy Spirit who renews the mind and regenerates the heart. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to understand God's Word. We must ask for his help when we come to God's Word. It is the Holy Spirit who gives boldness in preaching and help to the hearers. We must ask the Holy Spirit for both. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches the believers how to live to the glory of God. We must try not to grieve him but rather to pray and ask that he would breathe his power into our lives and the church. We want a report to spread in this community about what God is doing in his church. We want people to come and hear the Word of life and be converted. Would you fix a time to commit to each Saturday and ask God for that? A simple thing, but one that could have a huge impact on many people's lives.
v16. It starts in the Synagogue in Nazareth.
Where does Jesus begin his public ministry? What are we told is his custom? Jesus was in the habit of going to the public worship of God on the Sabbath. That's why we should push back when we meet professing followers of Jesus who say they don't need to gather for public worship with other Christians. Yes, we are currently in exceptional circumstances due to COVID-19, but that will come to an end, and when it does, one of our foremost desires must be to gather with God's people on the Lord's Day to worship him.
What does Jesus do? Jesus' standing to read God's Word shows his respect for it. This practice in the synagogue communicated that the breathed-out words of the living God were about to be read and that the hearer's full attention was required. When the public reading of the Scriptures is undertaken in a nonchalant way, it says something about the reader's attitude to God's Word, and you can be reasonably sure that what he has to say after that will be of little spiritual value.  
Which book or scroll, as the case was, did Jesus read from? (It was not until the 5th Century that the various books of the Bible were collated into the format we have today.) What is the first thing that Jesus does? He obviously knew the prophesy of Isaiah and where he wanted to turn to. It wasn't a case of just opening it up somewhere and then start reading. There was an intentionality about everything Jesus would do in his ministry, including his use of the means of grace. He had a real sense of reason and purpose about him. We live in an age when so-called spontaneity is considered by many as a necessary aspect of public worship. Seemingly, it shows evidence of the Spirit's leading. Jesus was filled with the power of the Spirit, Luke 4:14, 18, and his approach was marked by thought, preparation, discipline, focus and order. I encourage you to lay hold of order, discipline and focus in your life. Especially so where your communion, private, family and public, of God is concerned. Give up the half-hearted, 'I'll do it if I feel like it', 'we'll do it if we have time', approaches that beset so much of Christian living and witness. The worship of God is a matter of eternal significance and requires the best, not the dregs, of our lives.   
Note, Jesus doesn't just read from one passage; he reads from two. What are they? Again, this shows both Jesus' knowledge and understanding of God's Word and the predetermined nature of his approach. What, or rather who, do the verses from Isaiah speak of? They speak of Jesus. Imagine hearing Jesus reading detailed information about his life from a scroll, the contents of which were written 750 years previously.
What does the passage say the Messiah would do? To whom would this message of good news be intended for? Who are the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed? The year of the Lord's favour does not mean, of course, a calendar year; it is referring to the year of salvation that has now dawned. What does Jesus do after he has finished reading? Sitting down, as I preached on the Lord's day morning past, was not the adoption of a lazy approach but rather the formal posture for a teacher in eastern culture. In sitting down, Jesus was saying; I am now going to expound this passage to you. See how all eyes are fixed on him. They are looking to hear what Joseph’s and Mary's son is going to say. 
What is the first word that Jesus utters? Why is the word 'Today' significant? It's important because Jesus' contemporaries would not have doubted that God's kingdom would come someday, but Jesus is saying 'Today' it has come. God is acting now; the future is here. We must crave the acting of God in our lives, in the lives of our children, in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the church – now, not in the future.  
How is this Scripture fulfilled, or where has it been fulfilled? It is in the hearing of God's Word that it is fulfilled. As Paul would later write to the church at Rome, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Romans 10:17. That is why it is so vital that we take every opportunity that we have to be in public worship when the church’s Session calls it. There is something that happens; it is the work of God the Holy Spirit when the Word of God is publicly read and preached. This cannot be replicated anywhere else. Our private and family worship is critical to our lives, for it brings us in to dwell in the Word of God. Through our daily communion, we abide in the person of Christ. Our attendance at the public means of grace on Lord's day morning and evening has to be a non-negotiable must in our lives, for there we are exposed to the hearing of Christ's voice and the power of the Holy Spirit in a unique way. (That is said in the understanding that exceptional circumstances may prevent some from being able to do so.)
V22. The hearer's response?
How do his neighbours, those who had watched him grow up, respond? They cannot deny what Jesus has just read and said to them, so clearly and powerfully. In fact, they are astonished by it. But then what happens? They say, 'it's not possible'. This is Joseph's boy; he can't be the Messiah. Doubt governed by 'sight' drives out the potential for life generated by 'faith'. They may have been astonished by what they had heard, but their hearts were not open to pondering it. They didn't have the attitude Mary had at Jesus' birth, Luke 2:29, and at the subsequent temple encounter, Luke 2:51.
We need to take care not to be astonished by what we hear from God's Word and then respond with 'sight'-governed doubt. You and I need to pray. We need to pray that God would create within us believing hearts, hearts governed by the principle of faith.  
Tomorrow, God willing, we will see how Jesus' ministry in Nazareth develops.   

A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 25B. 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:1-6, 
"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.
The Lord keeps you, a shade on your right hand The Lord will stay.
Throughout the day the sun will never smite, Nor will the moon afflict you in the night."
Truth for the Mind and Heart. Shorter Catechism.
Q. 23. What offices does Christ fill as our Redeemer?
A. Christ as our Redeemer fills the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, in his states both of humiliation and exaltation.
Scripture proofs pdf - https://opc.org/documents/SCLayout.pdf
Thank God.
Thank God that 'Today' is the day of salvation.
Thank God that 'Today' is the day of sanctification.
Thank God that we can live our lives today in Christ and with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to his glory!
Take care in Christ,

Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley