April 9 - Encouragement to Be With God

Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God. 
Praise God for his love, his mercy and grace. Praise God that he did not leave mankind to our sinful and doomed ways, but that he eternally decreed salvation for his elect people. "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God, and so we are." I John 3:1, Ephesians 1:2-6.
Thank God.
Thank God for the coming of the Lord Jesus into the world to be the Saviour of his people. Thank him that our salvation is real, and it is personal. Philippians 2:5-11, Ephesians 2:4-10.
Acknowledge sin.
Let us acknowledge our sin of failing to thank God for, and respond to, his love for us in Christ, as we should. Ask God to help us, as we engage with him in his Word, to fall in love with our Saviour daily.  
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 2:1-7.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
These verses are astonishing, for they tell of the birth of the Son of God. Every birth of a living child is a wonderful event. It brings into being a soul that will never die. But never in the history of the world had there been a birth as marvellous as the birth of Christ. God was literally manifest in the flesh. And for what purpose? To open the way to sinners, men and women dead in their trespasses and sins and without hope, to everlasting life!
It had been prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem in Judea (Micah 5:2), but Mary was living 90 miles away in Nazareth with her 'betrothed' Joseph. They were married. Luke probably uses the word 'betrothed' because the marriage had not yet been consummated (Matthew 1:24,25). Was there any reason why they would want to make that 10-day journey, especially when the teenage Mary was so heavily pregnant? One wouldn't have thought so. And yet they did. Why? Because God worked in the mind of Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, and led him to make a decree 'that all the world should be registered'. Augustus was doing it to gather information for taxation purposes. God was doing it, moving ten of thousands of people around the Roman empire, to fulfil 'one' prophesy. Little did the Roman emperor, and his officer Quirinius, know that they were merely instruments in the hand of God. At the very time when the Jews were coming under the dominion and taxation of a new global power and all seemed lost, God was actually using that foreign power to lay the foundation of a new kingdom. A kingdom, before which all the rulers of the world will one day bend the knee (Ephesians 1:19-22). So, Joseph being of the line of David, travelled with his young heavily pregnant wife to Bethlehem, the city of David, to be registered and for God to keep his Word. 
We need to take care not to jump to too many conclusions about what is happening in the world. We need to keep in mind 'that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose' (Romans 8:28), and that 'and he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church'. (Ephesians 1:22). There are two things going on in the world, that which we see, and that which God is doing. The closer we get to God, the more the first fades and the clearer the second one becomes. Let us rest in the promise that our 'times are in God's hand' (Psalm 31:15). That nothing can happen in the world that has not been eternally decreed by Him, "whatever the Lord pleases, he does in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps." (Psalm 1356:6). So be careful not to become over-anxious about the course of events currently enveloping us. God knows what he is doing and why he is doing it. "Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself." (Matthew 6:34).
The inability of Joseph to get a place for them to stay, because of the number of people in the city to be registered, merely adds to the humble circumstances of the Son of God's birth. The actual birth itself is described very simply. Swaddling cloths are long strips that would be wrapped round and round the child to keep it warm. The fact that Mary wrapped the child herself is interesting and begs the question - was she alone at the birth? The child being laid in a manger has often been taken to mean that the birth took place in a stable, but it may have been a home where a family and their animals dwelt under the same roof. Whatever the case, the circumstances of the birth speak of poverty and obscurity.  
It is incredible that the Son of God "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:6-8). And for what? So that we could be redeemed, made alive, and dwell with him in the glory for all eternity. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)
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. 9. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is, God's making all things of nothing, by the Word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.
Scripture proofs pdf - https://opc.org/documents/SCLayout.pdf
Take care in Christ
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley