May 4 - Encouragement to Be With God

Early in these studies, I indicated that I was taking the general outline/thought process from J.C. Ryle's commentary on Luke. Just in case any of you have followed up on that, and are reading Ryle's notes for yourself, you will find now that I am gathering my information from several sources beside Ryle.
Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
Praise God. 
Praise God that we can step aside from the failed pursuit of happiness in our lives, and, as recipients of his wonderful blessings in our lives, rest in active obedience and faithfulness. Psalm 1, Psalm 32.
Acknowledge sin.
Acknowledge and confess the futile sin of chasing after circumstantial happiness when God has gifted us with numerous blessings. Ask God to help you to discern both the vanity of investing in that which will pass away and the wisdom of giving yourself to growing in your knowledge of, and delighting in, him.

Let us "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2.
      Pray for the church that the Lord would keep us safe. That he would keep us from drifting from our keeping of the Lord's day and participating in public worship.

Let's read Luke 4:38-44.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
V38, 39. Jesus heals Simon's mother-in-law.
Where does Jesus go after he leaves the Synagogue? Interestingly, Luke tells us of this before he informs us of the calling of the first disciples. By this, Jesus had called Simon, his brother Andrew, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Mark tells us that all four men were present for the events that will now unfold. Mark 1:29. 
Who is unwell? All of the Synoptists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, state that Simon's mother-in-law had a fever, but only Luke tells us that she had a high fever, an indication again of his medical background. The cause of the high fever is not given. We are just told that she has it, and that those present ask Jesus to heal her, the impression being that her life was in serious threat. We learn from this that Peter is married and that his mother-in-law lived at his home, which implies that she is a widow. We don't know a lot about the families of the disciples, so it is interesting, when we do read something like this, to stop and take note. We can sometimes think of the disciples as being twelve bachelors who choose to 'accept and follow' Jesus because they were looking for something different in life. This reminds us that at least some of these men had families with the demands of family life. Taking the opportunity this presents, let me share a little bit more information. We know, for example, that Simon's father, is mentioned in Matthew 16:17 and John 21:15, but in such a way that it gives the impression that he is dead. We never hear of Peter's mother (Peter – the name Jesus gave to Simon, John 1:42). We know, based on 1 Corinthians 9:5, "Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? (Cephas – Peter), that Peter's wife travelled with him in his work.
Back to the present account, and we find Jesus standing over the lady and rebuking the fever, and we read that 'it left her'. Mark tells us that Jesus grasped her hand, as he did so. In a few words, Jesus declared his will, and his will was done. As with each of the miracles Jesus did, the person was healed instantly and entirely. How do we know that this was the case here? 
V40. The sun is setting, the day isn't over for Jesus.
The sun is setting; the evening is drawing in; one would think that it is a time for Jesus to reflect on the incredible demands of the day, both preaching and healing, and get ready for bed. This is the day when he has taught the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, and, as well as healing the demon-possessed man, he has healed a leper, the centurion's servant, and now Peter's mother-in-law. But, he is not going to get any rest. What do we read happens? Why do the people rush to Peter's house as the sun is setting? Because it is the end of the Sabbath rest, and having seen or heard about events earlier in the day, they are determined to seize the opportunity and bring their sick relatives and friends to where Jesus is, for them to be healed. Mark says that the whole city gathered at Peter's door. Mark 1:33. 
How does Jesus respond? Note the total lack of self-regard on Jesus' part. As we have already seen, he has had a phenomenally demanding day. He must be exhausted. Yet, he stands as, one by one, people are brought to him. He lays his hands on each person and, no matter what the sickness, illness, or disease, he heals every single one of them. What love and care this man has for these people, as with one gentle personal touch he performs one miracle after another, restoring each life to its full health and strength. What an impact these miracles would have had, not only on the individuals involved, but also on their families, those who had invested themselves in caring for them. Think about the blessing this would have been to the entire community, as men and women, restored to health, were able to resume providing and caring for their families. Think of the children and youngsters who had their daddy and mammy back once again to play a full role in their developing lives. Consider how all the social difficulties, which arise from illnesses in families, would have been entirely wiped out. Jesus transformed this entire community in one beautiful Sabbath evening. 
I think sometimes we fail to grasp the magnitude of the demands on Jesus' life. We can tend to think of him pottering about here and there, giving the occasional sermon, teaching the disciples in beautiful pastoral scenes, and healing people now and then when their paths happen to cross. Yes, of course, there were the big events when many people came to hear him preach, and he did things like feeding the 5,000, but, by and large, his life was lived at a relatively sedate pace. No, his life was one of perpetual daily giving and arising, as we shall see, out of constant receiving from the Father. 
V41. You are the Son of God.
Luke is the only one who tells us that the expelled demons, and he says that there were many of them, cried out, 'You are the son of God!' This is a repeat of what had happened earlier in the day with the demon-possessed man in the Synagogue. It is remarkable how these demons always recognize and speak of Jesus in terms of his deity. Why is this the case? There are two reasons. First, for them, this is a supernatural battle; and second, they know full well that Jesus does not want his deity to be revealed at this point. But they are determined to do all they can to try and agitate, and seek to disrupt, the plan and purpose of God. The time for the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah will come, but it will come in the fullness of God's time, not in the Devil's. As with the demon earlier in the day, Jesus once again issues a rebuke and refuses them the liberty to speak; literally, he orders them to 'be muzzled'. He silences them instantly. Finally, the day comes to an end for Jesus. Time for a good night's rest and, if possible, a bit of a lie-in in the morning. 
V42. Rising very early in the morning.
This is what Mark tells us, Mark 1:35. Luke says, 'and when it was day, he departed'. But where does he go? Why the desolate place? To get some peace? Mark again supplies a critical piece of information, 'and there he prayed’. (That is why it is good to cross-reference the Synoptics when reading, it gives a fuller picture of what took place.) So, Jesus got up quietly, got dressed, made his way out to a place where he was on his own, and prayed. He did what? He prayed. But why did he need to pray? He has just taught the first of what is going to be a series of five phenomenal sermons that are going to change the face of the entire world, up to the present day. A few hours previously, he had just healed every sick person in Capernaum. Why does he need to be getting up before the sun rises to go off and pray? If anything, he needs a good night's rest, surely, he can catch up with the Father at some point when things are a bit less hectic. No, this communion with the Father was Jesus' lifeblood as a man. It begs an obvious question of you and me, 'why do we believe that we can live our lives, with so little personal interaction with our Father in Heaven?' How can we expect to cope with what has too often been little more than a quick 'please God help me with this!'
I hope that you are being richly blessed as you take the opportunity to be more with God at this time. I hope that you are discovering a new depth of love for, and joy in, God because of doing so. I am excited about what God is going to do in all of our lives, as a result of this. 
V42. Jesus moves on, driven by his purpose in life.
The people go looking to see where Jesus is, and they find him. They don't want him to leave Capernaum. Who could blame them given what had happened the previous day? Certainly, if I had been in their shoes, I would have been at the front of the crowd, pleading with Jesus to stay. Jesus refuses to accede to their passionate requests. Why? Because he needs to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to other towns? Why he is so focused on preaching? Surely, his healing is having a huge impact on peoples lives, why is that not the priority in his life? Why is he not driven by that goal? It would be amazing, would it not, if he were to heal the whole of Judea of every known sickness, illness, and disease. Think of the human benefit that would be derived from changing thousands of people's lives, not only in terms of their health but also socially and economically. It would transform the region for generations to come. Yes, that would be true, but it's not what Jesus was sent to do. He was sent to preach. But why? Because preaching is God's chosen means of transforming people's souls, and that is of both lifetime and eternal consequence. 
The Kingdom of God is the all-encompassing story of the New Testament. It is about God's rule over all creation, bringing all things under the feet of the Mediator King, who will be anointed upon his completion of the task set before him. It is what Jesus was and is all about. As professing citizens of this Kingdom, this King and his rule should dominate our lives. It should be the substance of our breathing, our thinking, our speaking, and our acting, every day until we go to be with him in the glory.  

A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 1A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.

Memory Verse. 
The memorizing of God's word is good for your heart relationship with the Lord and as a defence against sin.
Psalm 121C:1-3, 
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.

Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism

Question 26 - How does Christ fill the office of a King?
Answer - Christ fills the office of a king in making us his willing subjects, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

This is taken from 
Thank God.
That the Lord Jesus Christ had the power to do the miraculous things he did.
Thank God that Jesus was focused on his life's purpose – to preach the gospel of good news, and that he did so enabled by his daily communion with the Father.
Praise God for the blessing we have today because of Jesus' application in his life-purpose and work.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley