May 21 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God.
Praise God that he has eternally decreed everything that is. Praise God that we do not live in a random world, governed by chance or fate. Ephesians 1:11 and Acts 15:18.
Acknowledge sin.
Thank God that he is Sovereign (Absolute Ruler) over all that he has created. That there is nothing beyond his everyday control. Psalm 24:1,2 and Matthew 10:29-31.

Let us "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2.
Acknowledge and confess the sin of being anxious and worried, especially in today’s situation. Pray that God would help you to trust him and the promises he has made. Matthew 6:25-34.

Let's read Luke 6:32-35.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
We are still in the realm of love. Jesus taught a lot about love; why? Because it is 'love' that distinguishes us from the world, so we need to understand what it is. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus spent time with his 11 disciples (Judas had left them to go off and do what he had planned), and he spoke to them of what was important to him. 
At the heart of it all was, 'love each other and abide in me'. Three times in one sentence, Jesus tells them to love one another, because the world 'will know that you are my disciples.' John 13:34,35. So love is a big issue for Jesus, a huge issue, and, here in Luke, he is speaking of how our love must go beyond those who love us to engage with those who hate us. Again, this is radical. But it is the radicalness of it that makes it so important. Is it not the radicalness of God's love for us, by nature God-haters, that sees you reading this now? 
V32. Loving as the world loves.
What is the first point that Jesus makes about the nature/type of love that he is speaking about? Note, he is not saying that we should not love those who love us; he is saying that we are to love those who do not love us. Obviously, many people love others. Some of the most loving, caring people I have met, and you would probably say the same, have been non-believers. They have been kind, considerate, patient, and genuinely wanting to help. That cannot always be said of those who profess the name of Christ. The love that Christ wants us to practice is a love that reaches out to those who don't like us, who don't have a good word to say about us, who basically despise our presence in their lives. It is these specific individuals that we are to love. And we are to do so with an intelligent understanding and a purpose-driven attitude, that we might see them come to faith in Christ. And that is the goal. In essence, while it is about you and the other person, it is not really about you and them. It is about the other person and Jesus. You and I are just little imprints in the process. That's why we must get what Jesus is calling us to do here.
V33,34. Doing good and lending.
The doing of good and the lending to others is merely an outworking of the doing of 'love'. But, in citing these two examples, Jesus underscores the quid-pro-quo nature of human activity. It is all based on reciprocation. Certainly I will help you because I know that 'one good turn deserves another'. I will 'scratch your back if you scratch mine'. These are sayings that convey the same thing. I will help you because one day, I will come to you looking for help, and because I have helped you, then you are duty-bound by the unwritten laws of humanity to help me. It is the way of the world. It is what makes the wheels of human activity go round. And while it doesn't always concern all sorts of immoral and unethical activity, frequently it does cater for it. The Christian's doing good and lending is to be from another place, for another reason. It is to be done, as we shall see in a minute, with an entirely different end in mind. 
What question does Jesus ask in each of these examples? It is 'what benefit is this to you', or 'what credit is it to you?' What is he getting at with these questions? Who is he addressing when he asks them? Well, obviously, you and me. So, Jesus sees a benefit, a credit, to us when we engage with others. That's interesting, isn't it? Jesus recognizes that, as human beings, we do things to get a benefit. That is how we have been created. He does not deny the reality of human life, and therefore, he doesn't ask us to act in a way that is contrary to our human nature. So, what is he saying? He is asking us to engage with others in a way that will be a benefit to us. Yes, you did read what I wrote correctly. Jesus is asking us to deal with others in a way that will be to our credit. 'But I thought that Jesus was talking about selfless, sacrificial love.' Yes, he is; but, in doing so, he is steering the undoubted God-given appetite we have, to seek benefit for ourselves towards, and this is the crucial bit, its proper end. Sin misdirects the seeking of benefit that God has placed in our hearts. It does it so well that man's heart becomes consumed with the sole pursuit of personal self-fulfilment, apart from God. This manifests itself in greed, self-promotion, etc. 'I will be good to you because when you are then good to me, I will use that to climb the 'I am better than you' life-ladder'.
Therefore, it is wrong to think that we should; love others, be good to others, and lend to others, without seeking a benefit. That is not reality. That is why we must give ourselves to exercising this love, doing good and lending, in the knowledge that we will gain a reward from God for living for his glory. That's the radically exciting bit. We are not doing these things to gain the meagre human benefits that motivate those around us as they try to climb the non-existent ladder of self-promotion that leads nowhere. We are to do things expecting nothing back because we know that our reward will be great. Remember Jesus, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2. 
V35. Don't despair, look to God Most High.
Continuing to develop the previous thought. We are to give to others without 'expecting anything in return'. Literally, not despairing if they just take, take, and take from us. Why, because our goal is not to get anything back from them in return. To do so is pointless. For what can they give us that will be to our benefit or credit. They cannot add one scintilla to the riches we already have in Christ. They cannot increase the reward that is being generated in heaven by our acts of love, being good, and lending. There is nothing they can give us that we need because we already have all we need in Christ. I know I am repeating myself, but it is worth saying twice. How liberating is that thought? We don't need to live as the world does. It's futile seeking after pointless time and space rewards which are continually being eaten away by rust and moth, holding nothing for us. We have truly been set free from such bondage, made alive in Christ, to live on an entirely different plane. We can live today, but for eternity we can live as sons of the Most High. Oh, why do we spend our lives trialling along with the sons of Adam? Why do we often seek nothing higher than material rewards or the pats on the back, which we crave, and delight in, so much? Why will we not own the adoption we have experienced, and look to the Most High and say, I will love, I will do good and lend without seeking a return, to lift up your Name. Surely, if God is kind to the ungrateful and evil, what measure of kindness will he bestow on you and me as his adopted sons and daughters.

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 39. What is the duty which God requires of man?
Answer. The duty which God requires of man is obedience to his revealed will.
This is taken from where you find proof texts.
Thank God.
Thank God that he has set us free to live a different life. A life free from the futile bondage of seeking to elevate ourselves. A life free to live for his glory and whatever eternal reward he chooses in his kindness to bless you with.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley