April 7 - Encouragement to Be With God

Prayer Thoughts.
 
Praise God.
Praise God that he has the power to do whatever he chooses. Nothing is beyond his control and ability. “Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God.” Psalm 62:11, Job 42:2, Romans 4:21,
 
Thank God.
Thank God that he uses his power for the good of his people, the Church. Romans 8:28, 37-39, Ephesians 1:15-22.
 
Acknowledge sin.
Acknowledge the fact that too often we fail to trust that God will fulfil the promises he has made to us.  Confess this, and ask God to help us to accept that he is all powerful.  Luke 1:37
 
 
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 78B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
 
 
Let's read Luke 1:57-66.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
 
v57,58 The Joy of Birth.
What do we read happens? How does Luke describe God's dealings with Elizabeth? Every pregnancy is unique, and the birth of each child is a gift from God. It is why we as a fellowship seek God's mercy for every mother and child, when we hear the wonderful news of a pregnancy. Note the reaction of the family and neighbours at the news of John’s birth. There is rejoicing.  Women tend to be good at rejoicing when a child is born.  Men generally have more of a mindset which says, 'it's a baby', unless of course it is their own. It would probably be good for some of us men to develop a more joyfully engaged attitude when a child is born. One of the strengths of a godly man is his ability to relate to everyone around him, regardless of who they are. Such relational interaction takes thought and care, but when practised correctly it can be an immense influence on the well being of the church.  A thoughtful word of encouragement can be such a blessing. A carefully chosen expression of consolation can be a real help to the struggling soul. We need to work at and overcome our tendency to stand back and think someone else will do it. We need to take the command of Christ, and "rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15.)
 
v59-66 The blessing for many, of a lesson learnt by one.
The provision in Old Testament Law was that a male child should be circumcised on the eighth day of his life (Genesis 17:12 and Leviticus 12:3).  There is no such requirement for the baptism of a covenant child in the New Covenant.
 
What name do the relatives and neighbours want this child to have? What is Elizabeth's reaction? Why do you think she was so emphatic in her rejection of their choice of a name? Her response, though was not well received. Who do they now turn to? It's funny isn't it that they make signs to Zechariah. We know that he wasn't able to speak, but he could still hear.  Its strange what people do when they are excited.  Interestingly, Luke includes this little piece of apparently irrelevant information. But it is precisely this type of observation that gives authenticity to his account. He sees this, and he tells us about it because it struck him at the time as either being either odd or funny. It is not something you would make up if it hadn't happened, hence the authenticity. 
 
What does Zechariah do?  He is just as clear as Elizabeth when it comes naming the child. The clamour to have his son named after him, traditional honour, was tempered by the schooling his heart he’d received by the nine months of silence he’d experienced. He had probably learned more in those nine months about his heart, and about God, than he had learned in a lifetime before. The angel Gabriel, who had come from the presence of God, had commanded that the child would be called John, and ‘John’ is what it will be called. Zechariah now believes every Word that Gabriel had spoken to him, and every Word of that message shall be obeyed. Like Job, he could say of God, "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you!" (Job 42:5).
 
I am praying that this season of relative 'silence' will be used of God to bring you to a new spiritual viewing point in your life. An elevated escarpment from where you and your family can see, and be with him anew. We have a tremendous opportunity you have been given to do so. Take care though, not to harden your heart but rather open yourself in submission to God.  Seize the opportunity given to you, to lay into your life a new pattern, a habit of daily communion with God. Ryle writes, " 'Sanctified afflictions,' says an old divine, 'are spiritual promotions.' The sorrow that humbles us, and drives us nearer to God — is a blessing and a downright gain. No case is more hopeless than that of the man who, in time of affliction — turns his back upon God. There is a dreadful mark set against one of the kings of Judah: 'In his time of trouble — King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord.' (2 Chronicles 28:22.)
 
What was the immediate effect of his obedience, on Zechariah's life? For the first time in nine months he speaks. What does he say? What reaction did the neighbours have?  How far did the news carry of what had happened? We need to understand the impact our humble obedience to God has on those around us. We tend to think what is the point, no one is going to see us. Yes, they do. In fact, they see much more than we think.
 
v66 'The hand of the Lord was with him.'   
We are not told what these words mean. But it is clear from the future unfolding of John's life that the Lord renewed his mind, regenerated his heart, and made him into the man that he was to become as the forerunner of the Lamb of God. 
Is this not what we want for our own children and for the children in the covenant fellowship of God's household? Our constant prayer, and that is not meant as just a nice-sounding phrase, should be that the Lord's hand would be upon them. That by the power of God the Holy Spirit their minds would be renewed, their hearts regenerated, and that they would become lovers of God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind. What a wonderful, second to none privilege we have, not only to rejoice at the birth of a child, but to give ourselves to praying for, and training them in the glorious and good ways of the Lord. 
 
 
Memory Verse.
Psalm 121C:1-3, "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."
 
 
Doctrine to think about – Shorter Catechism.
Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A.      The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
Scripture proofs pdf 
 
Take care in Christ
Andrew
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley

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