April 8 - Encouragement to Be With God

Prayer Thoughts. 

Praise God. 
Praise God that he has given us 150 Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs to praise him. Songs that minister to our minds, our hearts, and our souls in every circumstance of life. "He put a new song in my mouth, a song to praise our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." Psalm 40:3
Thank God.
Thank God, for it is good to give thanks to him. "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name O Most High." Psalm 92:1
Acknowledge sin.
Accept that our knowledge of, and appreciation for, those 150 Songs could be greater than what it is. Ask God to give us all a growing love for them, so that we would turn to them first in times of need and joy.  
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 1:68-80.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
Zechariah's joy at the birth of his son John, his firstborn, overflows in an inspired song. 
v68-71. Thanksgiving for the fulfilment of God's promise of a Messiah. 
When he got his speech back, Zechariah blessed God, v64. Who inspired what he said? People talk today about 'inspired' songs, but the inspiration of the Holy Spirit ended with the completion of the canon of Scripture in the book of Revelation. Hundreds of encouraging and uplifting Christian songs have been written since, but none of them are inspired by God the Holy Spirit. Every one of them is subject to the sinful inclinations of the human heart, no matter how godly the author. 
As in the case of Mary, Zechariah's opening refrain of “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel” shows his awareness of the Psalms, e.g. Ps. 41:12, Ps. 72:18, Ps. 106:48, to cite just a few. What lies at the heart of Zechariah's thanksgiving?  It is the coming, or visiting, of God to the earth to redeem his people (v68) according to his foreordained plan (v70). Note the tense that Zechariah is using in these verses. This use of the past tense speaks to the fact although he is addressing the future, it is seen as already having taken place; such is the certainty of God's promises.
Having a front-row seat in the fulfillment of the oldest promise in the Old Testament, the promise of a Saviour, must have been a phenomenal experience for Zechariah. For this promise, found in God's covenanted Word, was what Old Testament believers lived on - even given that Zechariah’s experience is nothing like ours. In comparison with what we can know, his knowledge about Christ's life, his death, resurrection, exaltation, and ascension was incredibly limited. We read that the prophets who prophesied concerning this salvation searched the Scriptures and enquired carefully about it, and that these are things into which even angels 'long to look', (1 Peter 1:10-12). Some think of Old Testament saints as being somewhat inferior to us, but the reality is that their need to walk by faith was far greater than ours. We can read of the life and finished work of Christ on the Cross. We can hear the voice of Christ in his Word, we can delight in Union with him, and we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It has been promised to us that the world, the flesh, and the devil, shall never prevail against us (Matthew 16:17-19). We know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We know that we shall be presented spotless before the Father's throne (Ephesians 5:27). We know that our final glory is secure by divine promise and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13,14). We know that Christ, our Saviour, is coming again to gather his saints together and to give them a crown of righteousness (John 14:3). There is a good reason, therefore, for saying that our praise and thanksgiving to God should far exceed that of Zechariah's. Our issue is our need to rest on, and embrace, the promises which God has given us. Maybe this season will enable us to do that in a new way.
v72-75. The covenant remembered and the coming Kingdom.  
Again, we find Zechariah going into the Old Testament. What does he reference this time? Central to the oath which God swore to Abraham is the salvation of his people. But it is not just deliverance from the hands of their enemies; there is, more importantly, the ushering in of a new kingdom, the Kingdom of Messiah, in which the people of God will serve him ‘without fear in holiness and righteousness all their days.' This is the calling of each person who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ. It is a calling that was planned and predestined before the foundation of the world. It is a calling foretold in the covenant God made with Abraham. "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." (Galatian 3:29). It is your calling and mine, as professing believers in the Lord Jesus as our Saviour. We are called to serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness, throughout each day of life that he gives us.
v76-80. John's role and preparation. 
In these verses, Zechariah now turns to praise God for his son John. What does he say John will be called and why? What will John's daily task be? At the heart of the Kingdom is the declaring of the “knowledge of salvation”. The message of repent and believe for the forgiveness of sins. The good news of God's grace and mercy. That which provides light and peace to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death. How did God prepare John for his life's work, verse 80? In the wilderness one has time to slow down, to think, to see things as God wants us to see them. A season in the wilderness is no bad thing; make good use of this current season. 
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. 8. How doth God execute his decrees? 
A.      God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.
Scripture proofs pdf
Take care in Christ
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley