September 11-17th Family Worship Guide 2022

The Family Worship Guide for the Week of September 11-17th, 2022

Bible Passage for the Week
Deuteronomy 21:1-9
Matthew 23:13-38
Galatians 4
Psalm 39

Verse to Memorize
Romans 5:1-2

Catechism Questions
Q. 49. What did God the Father undertake in the covenant of grace?
A. To justify and sanctify those for whom Christ should die.

Q. 50. What is justification?
A. It is God's forgiving sinners, and treating them as if they had never sinned.

Q. 51. What is sanctification?
A. It is God's making sinners holy in heart and conduct.

People to Pray for:
Church: Clearnote Church
               Pastor David Abu-Sara
Ministry: The Mothers in the Church
Civil Magistrate: Franklin Commons Neighborhood Association
Song Recommendations:
1. There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one! No, not one!
None else could heal all our soul's diseases,
No, not one! No, not one!

Jesus knows all about our struggles,
He will guide till the day is done;
There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one! No, not one!

2. No friend like Him is so high and holy,
No, not one! No, not one!
And yet no friend is so meek and lowly,
No, not one! No, not one! [Chorus]

3. Did ever saint find this friend forsake Him?
No, not one! No, not one!
Or sinner find that He would not take him?
No, not one! No, not one! [Chorus]

4. Was e'er a gift like the Savior given?
No, not one! No, not one!
Will He refuse us a home in heaven?
No, not one! No, not one! [Chorus]
The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood red banner streams afar:
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink his cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below,
He follows in His train.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave;
Who saw his Master in the sky,
And called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
In the midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong:
Who follows in His train?

A glorious band, the chosen few
On whom the Spirit came;
Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
And mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant’s brandished steel,
The lion’s gory mane;
They bowed their heads the death to feel:
Who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Savior’s throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of Heav’n,
Through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
To follow in their train.

Notes for Parents

Bible Passage for the Week
God hates the shedding of innocent blood.  This is because we are created in the image of God.  To kill another human being is to assault that image.  It is an attack on God and on His creation which He loves.  In the Old Testament passage this week, we see that in the case where someone is found dead but there is no knowledge of whom the guilty party was, there is still a solemn duty to atone for this bloodguilt.  The land was not to be fouled with the guilt of bloodshed.  In this passage, the priests and the elders of the city worked together.  The elders representing the people confessed to their innocence and thus the innocence of the people they represented.  The priests offered a sacrifice to cleanse the land.  Other than being an interesting story, what we do with this account.   There are a couple of truths in this passage that we can learn from especially in our day with abortion.

  • We learn that our individualistic way of thinking is not found in the bible.  This bloodshed though not carried about by any known person in the community, still defiled the land.  It still made them guilty before God and had to be atoned for.  Our sins affect not only us but others.  Abortion, for example, is not just an issue between a woman and her doctor.  The shedding of that innocent blood is a taint on the whole community.  Our nation has much to repent of regarding the shedding of innocent blood.  We as Christians need to be constantly seeking God’s mercy for the whole nation.
  • The issue of one person’s sin impacting others isn’t limited to abortion. Our sins have an impact on our families and our church.  This is why you as fathers must discipline sin in your home.  If you allow sin to go unchecked it will impact the whole home.  This is why we exercise church discipline. 

In the book of Matthew, we see Jesus begin to strongly rebuke the leaders of the Jews.  This section includes eight different condemnations of their behavior.  Jesus pronounces eight woes.

This is like the scene of a court room and Jesus is judge reading off eight convictions.  He has tried the Pharisees and they are guilty.  He then ends with the sentencing.  The people will pay for the shedding of innocent blood. All the prophets blood they killed will come on their head.  They stand guilty because they rejected the sacrifice for it.   Next week we will be looking at this passage again.  Therefore, take your time through it this week.  Try to get the big picture this week and then next week look at the details.

In the book of Galatians, Paul is waging war against Judaizers who were seeking to turn the church back to the Old Testament ceremonial law system.  To help you understand this, let me explain how the OT law can be categorized.  The law in the Old Testament can be categorized in three categories.

  • The moral law- this is unchanging and based on the character of God.  It is found in nature and summarized in the Ten Commandments which Jesus summarized in two great commands-love God, love neighbor.  This law is binding on all people. 
  • The second category was the civil laws of the nation of Israel.  These are an application of the moral law to the civil government in Israel.  When that nation passed away that civil government ceased to exist.  The moral principles still exist and we can look at the civil law as a good example of justice for our civil laws.  Our civil government can learn much from it.
  • The third class of law is what our confession calls ceremonial law.  This is the feasts, dietary laws, cleanliness laws, sacrifices, and tabernacle/temple laws. They were given by God to the people in the OT to point them to truths about their need for a savior and faith in the coming messiah.  They did not yet have Jesus in their midst.  They also didn’t have a completed Bible.  These ceremonies both taught them of the savior to come and also marked them off from the gentile world.  The feasts, for example, not only commemorated God’s past deliverance such as being led out of Egypt but also his future deliverance from sin.  When Christ came, this ceremonial law’s purpose in the life of God’s people was complete.  It had accomplished what God ordained for it.   Christ came and brought down the dividing wall between jew and gentile.  God’s household expanded to the nations.

As a result of Christ’s sacrifice, the temple and its sacrifices are no longer needed.  The ceremonies associated with it are ended.  Jesus instituted for his church going forward two ceremonies- baptism and the lord’s supper.  They replace circumcision and Passover(all the feasts).

This was hard for the Jewish Christians to comprehend.  Much of the New Testament is written to deal with this controversy. The book of Hebrews, for example, warns Christians not to go back to the OT ceremonial system. We have Christ. We must not revert back to a system meant to point to Christ and completed by him.

There was a group of Jews trying to convince the gentile Christians they had to go back and keep all the ceremonies to be truly saved.  They needed to be circumcised and become Jews.  Paul condemned them strongly in the book of Galatians.  He sets before them two options here in chapter 3.  There is the way of slavery leading to death and there is the way of Christ leading to life.

In our day there are little groups often riddled with conspiracy theories against the church that try and convince Christians to keep Old Testament ceremonies. The Hebrew roots movement and other Jewish role-playing groups try to convince Christians that they need to keep OT feasts and dietary laws.  The problem extends even beyond what the issue of keeping the OT ceremonial system.  The problem is one of faith in Christ.  Will we believe Christ and rest our salvation in him or will we want some kind of external check list that we can mark off while not having to deal with our hearts.   Salvation is by faith in Jesus.  It is repentance of sins. The externals of our religion cannot save us.  They must flow from the inward changed heart.  But we are always tempted to exchange that living faith for mere external appearance of religion.  In this way, we can be like the Judaizers without ever having to evoke the OT ceremonial law.
Psalm 39 is a good prayer of repentance and waiting on the Lord.  Take the time as you read this passage to confront sins in your home and to confess sins in your home.

Catechism/ Memory Verse
Two key concepts are taught this week in the catechism time.  Justification and Sanctification.  It is important to learn the difference between these two truths as this is in many ways what the protestant reformation was about.   We must not blend the two truths.  We are justified, declared righteous, by the work of Christ.  It is through faith and that is the gift of God.  We are not justified by our works.  It is not our righteousness but Christ’s.  The Roman religion conflates the sanctification into justification and in the process makes our justification to be dependent upon our own works.

People to Pray for:
Please pray for Clearnote Church in Indy.  Pray for their work to proclaim the gospel.  Pray that they would be bold and faithful.  They have many young children in their church like us.  And like us, they have a lot of the same challenges regarding discipline in the home.

We are praying this week for mothers in the church.  Please pray that God provides them strength for their calling as mothers.  Pray that they do not grow weary of doing good and that they can see the big picture-they are raising sons and daughters for Christ.  It is easy through all the daily chores and challenges of motherhood to lose sight of that big picture.   Pray that God gives them patience and that they will guard their tongues- using their speech for life giving and not for tearing down.

Lastly, we are praying for the neighborhood in which our church is located.  This is a neighborhood where many people give hearty approval to sexual immorality and the slaughter of innocent children.  It is a neighborhood with several churches that have given in to the spirit of the age.  Please pray that God will make us a light in the midst of this darkness.

Church History Spotlight

Cyprian of Carthage 200-258 AD
Cyprian was born around 200 AD in North Africa, of pagan parents. He was a prominent trial lawyer and teacher of rhetoric. Around 246 he became a Christian, and in 248 was chosen Bishop of Carthage. A year later the persecution under the Emperor Decius began, and Cyprian went into hiding.

After the persecution had died down, it remained to consider how to deal with the lapsed, meaning with those Christians who had denied the faith under duress. Cyprian held that they ought to be received back into full communion after suitable intervals of probation to show fruit of repentance. In this he took a middle course between Novatus, who received apostates with no probation at all, and Novatian, who would not receive them back at all, and who broke communion with the rest of the Church over this issue. Novatian’s desire for the purity of the church overrode any consideration of the church’s peace, resulting in schism and the denial of the truth of the gospel-Peter had after all denied the Lord. Novatus on the other hand had no concern for the purity of the church. His desire for peace meant that there was no weight to the sins of denying Christ-the result of his practice would have been the denial of the power of the gospel to preserve through persecution.  Cyprian’s position became the position of the church, protecting both the peace and purity of the church.

During the reign of the Emperor Valerian, Carthage suffered a severe plague epidemic. Cyprian organized a program of medical relief and nursing of the sick, available to all residents, but this did not prevent the masses from being convinced that the epidemic resulted from the wrath of the gods at the spread of Christianity. Another persecution arose, and this time Cyprian did not flee. He was arrested, tried, and finally beheaded on 14 September 258.

Highlight from the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The difficulty of accurately defining God is because He is one of a kind.  There is no one else like God.  There is no one that we may accurately compare Him to.  This is due in part to the truth that He is spirit and we live in, as the 80’s pop song says, a material world. We are used to dealing with things we can see and touch.  In fact, you and I have grown up and been incubated into a materialist worldview.  That is, we are tempted to think that the material is all there is, that at the most fundamental level, everything that exists consists of nothing but matter and energy. Even thought we might not voice it this way, we are tempted to think every object is a purely physical object and every event has a purely physical cause.

The Materialist worldview rejects the idea that there are immaterial or spiritual entities, such as souls, angels or God because it rejects out of hand there can be anything that does not have a purely physical cause.  In the materialist worldview, science can explain everything in terms of matter and physics. Yet, for all the ways that people throw around the term “science” to be an infallible interpreter of life, science cannot explain all that there is.  Scientists doing the scientific method cannot account for science’s own foundation.  That is, there are certain things needed to be presumed in order to do science i.e., the existence of a theory-independent, external word, the orderly nature of the external world, the knowability of the external world, the existence of truth, the laws of logic, and the reliability of our cognitive and sensory faculties.  You cannot get to those presumptions by only using science.  

But we still live in a world where materialism is a dominating worldview, and we are tempted by it.  And because of so much of what we deal with is physical, we have a hard time accurately thinking of God.  Jesus told us in John 4:24 that God is Spirit.  What does that mean?

Alexander Whyte in his commentary on the catechism helpfully describes this
“This word Spirit,—" the profoundest word in human language",— as employed in Scripture and theology bears a figurative or metaphorical sense. The growth of the word is something like this. It first means air, the air that is the atmosphere of the earth, and the breath of all its living creatures. From this it is a short and easy step to become expressive of the life of man, and the life of his soul, as in the cry: "Into Thine hand I commit my spirit." And from that highest earthly use the word has been taken up and consecrated to describe for us the manner of God's own life. "God is Spirit." And this single expression at once does this great service for us, that it removes God's nature far from all association with material and corporal organization. For, as our Lord said: "A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."

Now this may make you think about God being like a ghost or a phantom.  We might be tempted to think of an ethereal transparent apparition, but this is not what we mean.   When the catechism, repeating after Jesus, says that God is spirit, it is teaching us that the Father is not limited by the physical, that he is life-giving and life-sustaining, that he can never be totally comprehended, and that he transcends creation.

He is not like anything else.  He is unique.  Men are defined by our localization, that is, we are at one particular place at one particular time.  Though we do have both a body and spirit, our spirits are tied to our bodies, in this life.  We are in one place at one time. God on the other hand is not limited to one place and time. He is not contained.  For something to be physical it has a limit or boundary to its being.  For example, our bodies extend out to a definite boundary.  God is spirit and has no extension or limit.  God is everywhere and yet He is at the same time not a part of everywhere.  God is not the creation and yet God is present working in His creation.

Let us reject the materialistic worldview that cannot even account for something like the human mind or the laws of logic.  Let us also marvel at God who is Spirit and who is infinite (more on that part tomorrow).  Reflect on how amazing it is that the God who is so far above the creation is present everywhere.  He is on the highest mountain and at the lowest point of the sea. He is present in Washington DC and in Southern Indiana.  No matter where you are today, the good news is that He is near.