May 14 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 
Praise God.
Praise God that throughout the history of his people he has given to them apostles, prophets,  evangelists, pastors, and teachers to do the work of the ministry; so that his church will be built up; so that as people mature in the faith unity is established, and biblical worship and service to him become the life of the community. Ephesians 4:11ff
 
Acknowledge sin.
Acknowledge the sin of not always receiving and benefiting from these ‘gifts’ which God has given to the church as we might. Pray that God will enable us to thoughtfully do so for his glory and our good. 



Let's read Luke 6:12-16.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
 
V12. Jesus prays.
Now we are back to non-chronological Luke. The other gospels don't give any real indication either, so there is no clarity about when this took place. One commentator says, "the best calculation places this act about a year before Jesus’ death."
 
What does Jesus do? How long does he spend in prayer? Why did Jesus spend so long in prayer? Why did he even need to spend so long in prayer? After all, he knew the plan of God as one who had participated in devising it. 
 
Let's step back and ask a more general question. What is prayer? Prayer could be defined in several ways. But in essence, is it not about our going into the presence of God to discern his will, and then, being led to walk accordingly in his strength? Jacob's wrestle with the pre-incarnate Christ, Genesis 32:22-31, has to be instructive. I wonder, are we too often guilty of thinking of prayer as our going to God in an attempt to bend his will, even if it is just a little bit, to get what we have in mind? Of course, we don't say that, or possibly even think it, but an honest examination of how we pray may reveal more of that type of attitude than we'd like to admit. I have looked at my own praying to see if it is what it is because I am afraid of that wrestle, or I am scared of the effort involved, or the cost it is going to elicit from me to be submissive to God. One thing I do know. Each time I read of the perfect Son of God going out by himself early in the morning to pray, it drives into my heart. I think of the hectic pace of his life, of the constant demands relentlessly coming at him, and I say to myself, 'what a presumptive fool I am to think that I can survive on a few scratchings of prayer a day'. May God be gracious to me as I seek to own and address this in my life. May God, in his grace, meet you where you are at on this, and take you to where you need to be.
 
V13. The calling of the Twelve apostles. 
Morning breaks, and what a day it will be for these men and the world. Jesus calls his apostles from a huge number of disciples. Luke refers to them in v17 of this chapter as “a great crowd”. As we have seen previously, a disciple was a student or a pupil of their teacher. These men didn't just study a subject; they studied the man, in this case, Jesus, who revealed the subject. We can understand that because there is a level of personal attachment in the word 'disciple' which isn't present in 'student'. 
 
So, the entire body of disciples is called to witness what is going to take place. Jesus begins calling out names. Each one of these men has been with Jesus from the beginning of his public ministry. They have seen and heard so much as they have faithfully followed him wherever he has gone. Now, they are about to begin a new season of intimacy with Jesus. A season where they will walk, listen and learn from him up close. They are no longer going to be just his disciples; they will be his apostles. Men who will be sent as messengers, on behalf of Jesus, to declare the message he will give them. The word 'apostle' is derived from the verb 'to send' and means to be 'someone who is sent', 'a messenger'. Jesus had been commissioned and 'sent' by the Father. Now Jesus, following communion with the Father, is choosing and commissioning these twelve men to send them out. Luke will use the word 'apostle' another five times in his gospel, plus twenty-eight times in his letter to Theophilus – the book of Acts. The other gospels use the word only once; Matthew 10:21, Mark 3:14, preferring the term 'the twelve'. Mark does add the purpose for which they are going to be sent out, "so that they might preach and have authority to cast out demons." Mark 3:14.  
 
Christ is the Head of his Church. It is he who chooses and commissions the men whom he would have to serve as leaders within her. Yes, men can self-appoint themselves and set up 'their own church', but such communities will not stand the test of time and eternity. Yes, congregations can promote men to office for a variety of reasons, but, ultimately, only those men who have been called and commissioned by Christ will stay the course and bear fruit that will last. That is why it is essential, when the Church comes to choose office-bearers, that time is spent in prayer, beforehand and when it comes to the time of the choosing, so that the biblical pattern, set out in Acts 7, is closely followed. There, we see the people of God selecting men whom they observe are fulfilling specific criteria. Those men are then 'presented' to the existing leadership for closer scrutiny to see if they actually do meet the stated criteria. And, when it was agreed that they do, then the leadership prayed and laid hands on them, 'ordaining' them to office. When this biblical pattern is practiced, the potential for good things to follow is created. 
 
So, here are twelve men who had previously been called to follow after Jesus, and now they are being set apart in a public 'ceremony' for this specific task. Why twelve of them? Because it recalls the twelve patriarchs and twelve tribes of Israel. There are minor variations in the order in which they appear in the gospels; but dividing the names into three groups of four, we find the same names occurring in each group, albeit in a different order. Each group is also headed by the same name in all the gospels. The first group begins with Simon. Jesus gave him the name Peter, and, from now on, Luke will use Peter when speaking of this apostle. All three Synoptics end with Judas Iscariot, and refer to his subsequent betrayal of Jesus. He is identified as a traitor. Notwithstanding the best efforts of God's people and godly men, bad men do, in the providence of God, gain access to the leadership of his Bride, and for God's glory and the ultimate good of His Church, even if we don't understand it at the time.  


A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 32A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.


Memory Verse. 
'Hiding' the Word of God in your heart is a wonderful thing. It will bless you in ways you will never expect.
Psalm 121C v1-3 
1. 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. 
2. 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
3. You will be safe, protected by the Lord, By his control.
For every evil that may come your way He'll keep your soul.
While you go daily out and, in your door,
The Lord will keep you now and evermore
 
 
Truth for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 34 - What is adoption?
Answer - Adoption is an act of God's free grace by which we are received into the number and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you find proof texts.
 
 
Thank God.
Thank God that Christ calls and commissions those who will lead his Bride.
Give thanks that Christ does protect his Bride by taking from her leadership men who have not received that Call from him.
Praise God that when Christ does, for a season, permit bad men to be part of the leadership of his Church, it is because he has a reason, and all his ways are perfect.
Give thanks to God for the men he has called to serve and lead in our congregation.
Pray that Christ will be working in the lives of those godly men whom he will call to serve and lead this congregation in the future.
 
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew 
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley