May 18 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
               
Praise God.
Praise God for the blessings of the Sabbath Day, for the privilege of public worship and rest. Thank God that, even with the current restrictions, we can still ‘gather together’ to worship him.  Praise God that there is a King in heaven; a risen glorified man who is ruling over all creation today, for his glory and our good.
 
Acknowledge sin.
Confess the sin of not fully appreciating just what God has given us in the Lord’s Day, and not always owning and delighting in it as we should.



Let's read Luke 6:24-26
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
 
No one likes to hear bad news. You don't wake up in the morning thinking; I hope the phone rings and it is someone who wants to share something terrible with me. Yes, bad news is part of life because of the consequences of sin. What's remarkable is that the bad news which Jesus shares here is about things which many view as the most important things in life. 
 
V24. But woe,
The word 'woe' expresses the terribleness of that which will be experienced by those whom Jesus applies it to. Note, it is neither an expression of a wish, nor is it a simple description. It is a declaration of the Lord's judgement. The critical thing to note is the fact that it is a present judgement. Jesus is not speaking of a future judgement; he is announcing a judgement that is being rendered now. 
 
V24. The rich.
The first woe is declared upon whom? Who are these rich? They are those who think that they have all they need, and therefore see themselves as having no need for God. They may be materially wealthy, but it may equally apply to those who see themselves as rich in other ways. The point is that, unlike the 'poor', these people have no sense of their sin; the misery it produces does not consume them. The grace of God has not come upon their lives, and their natural hostility towards God remains unchecked and unabated. In their richness, their response to the free offer of the gospel is an arrogant, 'I don't need God'. Regardless of what their circumstances are, they hold their head high and speak in bold tones when expressing a sense of being at complete ease with themselves and their life. The riches of these 'rich', is anything in which their soul trusts, and is consequently satisfied with.
             
I remember well getting a phone call one evening shortly after starting my ministry in Airdrie. It was from a man threatening suicide. I didn't know him, but I called one of the elders, and we went to his home. As we sat and listened to his story, I began to speak with him of sin and the fact that by nature he was a sinner. Initially, he refused to accept it, but as I took him to the Word of God and patiently explained it, beginning with Adam and Eve and working it through to himself, he did get to the point where he agreed with me. I then showed him that the consequence of sin is eternal death and that, while he may be wanting to take his own life, this death was incomparably more serious. Again, it took time for him to grasp what I was saying, but he did. I shared Christ with him; the son of God who did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped but made himself nothing, came to earth, born without sin, lived under the law in perfect obedience, and therefore the only man who should never have died; and he listened. As I told him of Jesus' voluntarily laying down of his life as a sacrifice for sin, I could see him becoming more engaged in what I was saying, and I thought, 'this man is going to be converted here in front of me'. So, I said to him; you have admitted to me that you are a sinner by nature, and this because of what you say and do. You have agreed with me that God was just in bringing death to man. You have listened intently as I have told of Jesus, now will you confess your sin and believe in him? His response was, 'No, I have always lived my life by my own rules, and I'm not going to ask anyone for help now.' When I gently challenged him as to the illogicality of what he was saying, given my presence in his home, and urged him to call out to God for mercy, he became indignant that I would suggest that he needed God to save him. So, there the man sat, in his small bedsit, surrounded by a few possessions, genuinely reaching out to a local minister for help; but when it came to it, all he could resort to was the extolling of the riches of his rebellion against God. 
 
What is the consolation that these rich 'in spirit' have received? It means that they have received from God all they are going to get from life. What they have now is it. God owes them nothing more, by way of the good things that they are already experiencing. "For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45. Life as they know it, now under the grace common to all men, is paying in full all they will ever enjoy. The Kingdom of Heaven will not be theirs to experience for even an hour, let alone eternity.
 
V25. The full.
Who are the full? Well, they are the same people as the 'rich', but there is an emphasis on the extent of the blessings received. They are not only rich, but they are full in the sense that they have all they want. As they see it, they lack nothing; what more could they desire? This is true of both the materially wealthy and of the materially poor. Ultimately, they are filled with the same desires of the heart, albeit expressed in different forms, and have no craving for God and his righteousness in their lives. The problem is that all that fills their hearts will always leave them hungry. There is nothing, and no one, but Christ who can meet the innermost cravings of their souls; but they will not have him. It may take years for that hunger to press itself upon them, as they invest themselves in suppressing it through relationships, work, hobbies, possessions; but, a day will come when that hunger will grip them, and there will be nothing to assuage or satisfy it.
 
Who are those who laugh? They are the people who seek to meet God's desire in their lives with the pleasures of life. The advocates of 'eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die'. Those who laugh at the truth that Christ rules overall, and that a day of judgement awaits all. Yes, their peels of laughing fill the airwaves, social media platforms, and the streets; but, there is coming a day when they will laugh no more. When they will mourn and weep uncontrollably, and that mourning and that weeping will never end. It will be their eternal reality. 
 
V26. When all men speak well of you.
Why would all men speak well of a person? What would give them cause to? All men speak well of someone when that someone is a chameleon. A person who changes 'colour', attitude, principles, to marry with those he is currently with. The false prophets in the Old Testament were past masters at this. Give the people what they want and you keep your job. It is too cheap a shot to say that many politicians are the modern equivalent, because all who stand apart from Christ have one longing in their soul, and that is to be well spoken of by others. It is integral to the pride of the human heart. What is their end? It is like the rest, 'Woe', literally, 'how terrible'.


A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 40B. 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.
Ephesians 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 
 

Truth for the Mind and Heart
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 36 - What benefits in this life accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification?
Answer - The benefits in this life which accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification are: assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, progress in holiness, and perseverance in it to this life’s end.

This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you find proof texts.
 
Thank God.
Thank God for the poverty of spirit you have by his grace.
Thank God for the emptiness of soul he gave you that saw you seek Christ.
Thank God that you are prepared to speak the truth and be reviled by men for Christ’s sake.
 
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley

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