May 19 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God.
Praise God for the new life in Christ that we have by faith. Praise God that it means that we can, even through the wrestle with sin, seek by his help, to live radically different lives from the world.

Acknowledge sin.
Confess the sin of not fully comprehending who we are in Christ as new creations and the implications of that for our lives.  Pray that God would help us to grow in our understanding of this.



Let's read Luke 6:27-28.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
V27. You who are hearing.
There were a lot of people listening to what Jesus was saying, remember v17b, “a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people”. But, Jesus knew that many of them were not really hearing what he was saying. They were listening, but they weren't engaging mentally and in their hearts with what was being said. This was not a one-off occurrence; you'd probably be surprised to know the number of times Jesus said, 'he who has ears, let him hear,' after he had preached. It is remarkable though, given the authority of his teaching, that this could have been the case, but it was. It's not surprising that the same is true today when God's Word is preached, and it is an encouragement for the preacher to know that it is not just a modern phenomenon. Even good people can sit and listen to the preaching of God's Word and, six months later, when an issue arises around the same subject which now affects them personally, they will respond as though the matter has never been addressed.  
Given the privilege of being recipients of God's Word, we must think about how we listen to, and hear, God's Word when it is preached. We need to be proactive in consciously training ourselves to listen/hear. Many elements go into the conscientious hearing of God's Word. Preparation by getting a good night's sleep on a Saturday night. The active humbling of one's heart on a Lord's Day morning. The schooling of one's mind to pay active attention to the train of thought, the message in the sermon. Those are all beneficial steps the hearer can take that will bear fruit, but it is also necessary to cultivate the habit of intentionally asking God for his help in hearing. David asks God to open his eyes that he may behold wondrous things out of his law, Psalm 199:18. The same must be true concerning the ears and the hearing of God's Word. The fact that our retention levels increase substantially when we hear a sermon two or three times is a real incentive to listen, to do so. Something we can now easily do through It is sobering to think that, "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." Luke 12:48.
V27. Love your enemies.
"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you." Probably one of the best-known statements and most often quoted statements of Jesus. But what does it mean? Well, it is helpful to consider the word 'Love' used here. Jesus was not asking for 'storge', natural affection, nor for 'eros', romantic love, nor for 'philia', the love of friendship. He is speaking of 'agape', a love marked by intelligent comprehension, and corresponding purpose, towards the unworthy - those who do nothing to merit or elicit it. 
Jesus is accepting that there is a ready willingness among his hearers to love their neighbours. That's not the issue; the issue is loving one's enemies. He goes on to speak of blessing those who curse us and praying for those who abuse us. This is shocking stuff. It's incredible. Even the most liberally minded would find this disturbing, which is an indication of just how radical this is. It is an approach that can only be truly considered by those who are new creatures in Christ. 
The verbs are used to demand a lifelong response. This is not advocating a one-off type response to a particular situation in a specific context. There are no caveats. Hating, cursing, and abuse are lifelong experiences, and this love must meet them daily wherever they are. So, what is the purpose, the goal? The believer is being instructed to receive the hatred, the cursing, and the abuse, and to respond out of a desire to see the perpetrator freed from their bondage to sin. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that would commend the aggressor to such a response. Yet, the command is given to reach out to them in love, and with gentleness, to seek to direct their thinking to a consideration of their anger and their bitterness. The aim being to get them to question themselves. The world knows nothing of this. It can't even begin to process this, and maybe we have difficulty doing so too. We know that there are people who don't like us and sure, we can love them as long as it doesn't come into our face. Okay, they may occasionally have an outburst of cursing towards us, but as long as it doesn't become too frequent. But what if the hatred is manifesting itself in not just cursing directed at us, but abuse of us; now, that is a whole new level altogether. Yet, the command of Jesus to those who will hear is that we are to love them with a desire to see them changed by his grace. 
I think we need time to think about this; I certainly do. So, I will leave it at that for today, suffice to say that the motivation for taking this incredible approach in our lives is to be found in v36 of this chapter. "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." In other words, do to others what God has already done for you, i.e., loving you when you hated him, loving you when you cursed him, loving you when you abused him and his gifts to you. As John writes in 1 John 3:1, "See what kind of love (literally what manner of love, love from another place) the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." And what did that love produce? "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." Now there is a radical action born of radical love.  

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 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 37 - What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death? 
Answer - The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness and immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, rest in their graves until the resurrection.
This is taken from where you find proof texts.
Thank God.
Thank God for the love, love from another place, with which he has loved us.
Thank God that, as new creatures in Christ Jesus, we are enabled to love others in the same radical way. Ask God to help us think about this. 
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley