March 24 - Encouragement to Be With God

A few thoughts to lead you into prayer. 
Praise God. 
Praise God that he is eternal. That before there was light on first day of creation, God existed from everlasting to everlasting. Give thanks to God that he is infinite in his being, and in his perfection, and that he will never change.  I Tim 1:17, Psalm 90:2, Hebrew 13:8, and Psalm 102:25-27.
Express thanks to God.
Express to God your thanks, that he is our God. That he is our Sovereign King, all powerful, and that apart from him we have and can do nothing.  Ephesians 1:4, Psalm 44:4, Isaiah 45:7-9, Proverbs 16:33, Psalm 16:2 and John 15:5.

Acknowledge sin.
Acknowledge that sin entered the world through Adam, and because of that you are a sinner who must daily confess specific sin. Do so by asking God to forgive you, in the knowledge that he will do so, and remember your sin no more.  Romans 5:12,19, Proverbs 28:13, Psalm 79:8,9 and Psalm 25:11.
Pray for our covenant children and youth.
Pray for our children and covenant youth, that they will be kept safe in these days of increasing vulnerability. Pray that parents would be careful not to exasperate their children, nor provoke them to anger, but love them in Christ. Ephesians 6:4.

A Psalm to Sing
The Psalm for this week will be Psalm 95A. Here is a link to the words and here’s a link to it being sung. Let me repeat what I said yesterday. I know it may seem strange to sing, if you’re on your own or with your family, but it is okay. Remember its not about perfection. It is about a joyful heart, because you are singing to God, and he loves and cares for you.

Let’s read Luke 1:5-17.
Now ask God the Holy Spirit to help you receive his Word.

What is the immediate national context of Jesus’ life, who is on the throne? That will become important as we shall see going forward. Who are the two people identified in these verses? What is their ancestry, and how are the characterized? Think about the daily commitment that took from this couple. What a positive example. Be aware of how you can stir one another up to good deeds in these days, by your loving obedience to the Lord. 

As for the righteousness of Zechariah and Elizabeth, it's not important whether it was imputed righteousness, that is righteousness given to them to make them right, with God, (justified), or whether it is the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives conforming them to the image of Christ, that is sanctification. Both aspects of righteousness are co-joined. You cannot have imputed righteousness, and not be a recipient of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life making you more holy, and visa versa. You cannot say, 'I love God will all my heart soul, strength and mind', and not live it. It’s just not possible for someone who is truly converted, (1 John 3:7).  So, thank God today for his work in your life. For the righteousness that has been imputed, given to you, by Jesus Christ, and the desire you have to live rightly before God every day, through the powerful working of the Holy Spirit in your life.  

What was the trail which God had laid upon Zechariah and Elizabeth? Childlessness isn't really an issue in our culture, is it? Let’s face it, the sanctity of life is no longer regarded an issue of importance in Canada. But for a Hebrew, being childless was a matter for real sorrow. Remember how deeply distressed Hannah, how she wept bitterly over the fact that she couldn’t have a child, (1 Samuel 1:10). So, let us be thankful for the children in the congregation, and be honest in our praying for the salvation for each one of them.
What does this difficulty, this trail tell us about the Christian life? Well, it tells us that just because we love God, and seek to do what he says, we are not except from trouble in life.  In fact, the opposite can sometimes be the case. The loving chastening hand of God comes into our lives to refine us, so that we will become perfect and complete. As James, the brother of Jesus writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:2-4,12

We are living in a season of difficulty. But let's succumb to them. Rather let's use them to bring us closer to Christ, our Saviour, to his living Word and through communion with the Father in prayer. Give thanks to God, that he has given you the desire today to spend time with him.

Take in Christ

Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley 
Minister Ottawa RPC

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