September 18-24th Family Worship Guide 2022

The Guide for the Week of September 18-24th, 2022

Bible Passage for the Week
Deuteronomy 21:10-23
Matthew 23:13-38
Galatians 5
Psalm 40

Verse to Memorize
Romans 5:7-9

Catechism Questions
Q. 52. For whom did Christ obey and suffer?
A. For those whom the Father had given him.

Q. 53. What kind of life did Christ live on earth?
A. A life of poverty and suffering.

Q. 54. What kind of death did Christ die?
A.  A. The painful and shameful death of the cross.

People to Pray for: 
Church: Holy Trinity Reformed Church
               Pastor James Brown
Ministry: The Sons in the Church
Civil Magistrate: Jeffersonville City Council

Song Suggestions:

Notes for Parents

Bible Passage for the Week
Sin causes all kinds of problems. It not only harms the individual who practices it, it often has impact on many other people.  Most importantly it besmirches the glory of God.   God hates sin.  He disciplines his people for their sin.  He rebukes sin.  He sent his Son to die on a tree, cursed for our sin.  And one day He will return to completely wipe away all sin.

God’s law is good.  Whenever we come to a passage in the Old Testament like the one we are reading today, we must begin by reminding ourselves that God’s law is good.  We are tempted to be ashamed of different parts of it.   But if we truly understand it, we will find ourselves bowing down to its wisdom and goodness.  In the book of Deuteronomy, we find a mixture of moral laws and laws given to govern the civil order of Israel.  In our passage, we find laws for governing the civil order.  Civil laws are built on moral principles that are ageless but the application of those moral laws must be fit to the particular setting and situation of the people.   When God gave these civil laws to Israel, He was dealing with them as a sinful hardhearted people.  Jesus said it was because of their stubbornness that Moses gave them laws dealing with divorce, for example.  

In our passage, we see God regulating polygamy and divorce as well as dealing with abusive and rebellious children.  The question is God giving approval to polygamy and divorce?  No.  But because of the people’s sins, they civil government would need instructions on how to judge in the case where sin was involved.   These laws are made to protect people and provide order.  Children born in polygamous marriages were not to be treated differently.  Their rights to inheritance where protected.  We might apply the moral principle today, to cases where there a mixed families-children from previous marriages.  A father should care for his children from his previous marriage well and not disregard them though that marriage has ended.  Children need protection from the sins of their parents.

Therefore when looking at these case laws in Deuteronomy, it is important to consider what the moral principle is and apply it.
Speaking of this it is important to make a distinction between principles and application of said principles.  Principles are unchanging and binding.  Application of principles are not always so.  Sometimes one has multiple principles in play when making a decision. Sometimes principles may seem to be at odds with each other.  Some principles can be weightier than others. A man making a decision will have to weigh out principles, discern the situation he is in (considering the frame and constitution of himself and others involved), have a plan for where he desire to go, and with reliance on the Holy Spirit make a decision thus giving application to principles.  Another man may make a different decision using the same technique and still be principled and faithful.

We must be careful that our application doesn’t run foul of God’s commands but also that we don’t mistake our application as God’s command.  There may be a time when an application logically and biblically necessarily flows from the principles, in which case to go against that application would be to sin.  But we must be careful not to judge others by our application and therefore seek to infringe on their liberty of conscience.

The Pharisees were very good and blurring this distinction.  They made their application instead hard law.  They built a whole system and framework of their own manmade laws and required all to hold to them.  Many times this they missed the greater moral principle while focusing on minutia.  In Matthew 23, Jesus rebuked them for their hypocrisy by saying that they strain at gnats while swallowing whole camels.   They neglected the weightier matters of God’s law like justice, mercy, and faithfulness.   But they were very meticulous on less important matters.  Jesus said they ought to put the emphasis where God does without neglecting the lesser matters.   There were other ways that the pharisees acted like hypocrites in this passage.  Perhaps the most damning was that they didn’t enter the kingdom but didn’t allow others to enter either.  They didn’t follow Christ and they made sure no one else did.  Or they were very careful about decorating the tombs of the saints but they hated the living saints.   Some people love to feign praise for people who have died but if those people were alive they have no time for them.  People today love to talk about Calvin or Luther but I wonder how many of us would love these men if they were alive today.  They constantly called out sin and rebuked it.

The Apostle Paul writes that we have been set free of the legalism of the Judaizers.  We are not under the law as a way to salvation.  The law was never meant to be the way to salvation but the Pharisees and their couterparts at the time of Paul, the Judaizers, insisted that to be saved one must keep the ceremonial laws.  Paul says you have been set free in Christ.  But our freedom is not freedom from obedience to God and his moral law.  Its not a freedom to sin but a freedom from sin.   We have liberty in Christ so that we do not have to follow man’s inventions in order to be saved.   We ought to be careful that we don’t allow anyone to put us under that yoke.  We must avoid legalism.  But we also must live like Christ.  We must obey God’s commands.

The Psalm writer says in Psalm 40 “Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.

What does this mean?  Didn’t God command the people to make sacrifices and burnt offerings?  I thought they were required?   Well yes they were required in that they were to be tutors to the people teaching them of their need for Christ’s sacrifice.  But no they were not required in the sense that they actually had any benefit to God.  The ceremonial law was for the people of God in the Old Testament.  It was for their benefit that God gave it to them.  God has no need of the blood of bulls and goats.  The people needed them so that they would look to forward to Christ.  It was God’s condescension to the people that was the reason He gave the ceremonial law.
 Yet, the temptation for the people was to think that if they just went through the ceremony, they were good.  God got what He needed and so they could go about their business.  But the Psalm writer knew that God desires obedience.  He desires our hearts loving him.  What God requires from us is faith resulting in loving obedience.  

People still attempt to buy God off today with ceremony, pomp, and sacramentalism.  If I just go to church once a week, I’ll be good.  If I get baptized, I’m good.  If I baptized my children, they are good.  I walked this aisle and said a prayer once a long time ago, me and God are good.  I gave God what He wanted and now I can go back to what I want.  How foolish.  God doesn't need that.

God requires true faith that leads to loving obedience.   Trust and obey for their is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to Trust and Obey.

Catechism/ Memory Verse
Fix your heart on Christ.  Look at his suffering and sacrifice for us.  A couple of lessons can be learned from these catechism questions.

1. We see how wicked our sin was.  It required the God of the universe to live a life of poverty and misery.  The King of the universe became poor and homeless for us.  He had to suffer and bleed.  He died to pay for our sin.   This is how evil our sins are.   The only way they could be taken care of was through Christ’s suffering and death.   Therefore we ought to hate our sins.  We need to see them for how harmful and wicked they are.

2.  We ought to see how great Christ’s love is.   Jesus loves me Yes I Know.   His love led him to lay aside the crown of heaven and take on the crown of thorns.  His love led him to give up the riches of heaven and take on the poverty of wicked men.   His love led him to suffer and die for those who were his enemies.  Therefore let us praise him and love Him.  Let us serve Him.  

3.  Let us remember that no servant is above his master.  If his life was a life of poverty and suffering, we should not expect ourselves to be above that.  It may be that in God’s providence that we have wealth.  But we must hold on to it loosely.  Don’t let the love of money keep you from loving God and neighbor.  Be willing to follow in the footsteps of Christ to love Him and others.

People to Pray for:
We are praying for Holy Trinity Reformed Church and pastor James Brown.  Please pray that God would give them growth.  They have been going through a trying time as they have had some people move away from the church.  It is discouraging to lose members.   Please pray that God would strengthen them.

Please pray for all the sons in the Church.  Pray for the young men of the church to be trained in discipline, faith, and love.  Pray that they will use the strength of their youth for God’s glory.  Pray that they will fight sexual temptation.  Pray they will submit to their Fathers.  Pray that they will take their place as Fathers in the church as God permits.

Lastly, we are praying for Jeffersonville City Council.  Please pray that God would give them wisdom for their work, health for their bodies, and his Spirit for their souls.  Pray that those who don’t know Christ will repent and those that do will be unashamed in ruling according to His commands.

Church History Spotlight
Theodore of Tarsus 602 – 19 September 690

Psalm 92:14 They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green,

When the pagan Anglo-Saxons invaded England, they drove the native Celtic inhabitants north into Scotland and west into Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall. The Anglo-Saxons were subsequently converted to Christianity by Celtic missionaries from the north and west, and Roman and Gallic missionaries from the south and east. As a result, they ended up with two different "flavors" of Christianity. The difference was expressed mainly in the form of a disagreement about the proper method for calculating the date of Easter, a disagreement which we may suspect was a stand-in for other disagreements a little more difficult to articulate.

A man named Wighard was appointed to be leader of the church in England but he died on his trip to meet with leaders in Rome.  It was there a man Hadrian was asked to go to England to do the work but he refused instead asking for someone else.  Finally, after almost no one would take the position, Theodore of Tarsus, a man who lived through military conflict in the east and was almost 70 years old agreed to go to England.  This surprising choice was used by God to unite the Church in England.  He instituted many reforms and established a school to train ministers which led to what is often called the golden age of Anglo-Saxon scholarship. Even all these years later, his influence is still felt in the churches that developed from the British isles including the Anglican and Presbyterian churches.

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.

Hebrews 13:8 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

“Yes, I know Leviticus says that God hates that sin but that was the Old Testament, man!  The New Testament says God is love.”  You might have run into this kind of argument before or have been the one tempted to make it.  Since the early days of the church, Christians have run into people who have argued that God in the Old Testament was full of wrath and vengeance but changed in the New Testament.  In the time of the early church, there was even one man who wanted to reject all of the Old Testament and keep only a select few of the New Testament books.  He went as far as to say that God in the Old Testament wasn’t really the true God but that the New Testament revealed a different and true God. He was rightly rejected as a heretic and false teacher. But old heretical lies have a way of lingering around to be repeated in future generations.

In our Catechism questions definition of God, we are disavowed of any notion of God being different or changed from the Old to the New Testament.  God is unchangeable.  He doesn’t change his mind and he doesn’t change in his character.  His justice and his goodness have always been the same and always will be the same.  The God who hated evil in the Old Testament is the same God who hates evil in the New.

It’s hard for us to get our heads around something that is completely unchangeable.  We are used to change happening constantly.  But one of the reasons why God is unchangeable is because He is perfect and complete in and of himself.  John Flavel puts it this way “The Immutability (unchangeableness) of God flows from the perfection of his Nature, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken away. If anything could be added to make him better than he is; or if anything could be taken away, to make him less good that he is, then he were not the chiefest Good, and consequently not God.”   To be truly God, God must be complete in himself. For him to change would mean either that he lacks something which would mean he is not God or it would mean that he is having something taken away from him which would mean that He lost part of his completeness.

But God is complete, as the Bible teaches, and therefore there is nothing that can be added to him or taken away.  He has infinite and eternal knowledge.  There is nothing that can be added to his knowledge and he certainly isn’t forgetful.  When God decreed something, there is no new information that can be found later that will make him change his mind.  But wait a second, what about the verses that speak of God repenting? For example, what about  when God doesn’t judge Nineveh but spares them.  Thomas Watson is helpful.  He says “Repentance is attributed to God figuratively because the Bible says 'He is not a man that he should repent' (Nu. 23:19). There may be a change in God's work, but not in his will. He may will a change, but not change his will.”  The Bible at times speaks of God in terms that help us see his work in history.  It is men who change but God who orchestrates history so that men will respond to His threats of judgement so that He will show forth his mercy.

So what do we learn from learn from God's unchangeableness? That he will accomplish his promises, Micah 7:20.  That we can rest in his love, Zeph. 3:17. We can trust him to finish the good work which he has begun in us, Phil. 1:6.   That God will judge the wicked and he will grant eternal life to the righteous. We can also have confidence in a culture changing its moral attitudes quicker than you can bat an eye that God’s moral standard has not changed. The culture may rave and rail against his commandments.  They may despise the fact that there are only two sexes.  They may try to redefine marriage and defend the murder of the preborn.  At the end of the day, they are coming up against an unchangeable and unmovable rock.  God’s law is fixed and the world will break before it does.  We can have confidence that all the efforts to thwart the will of God will never work.  We can also trust that if we live by faith and according to his commands, we will be living by the standard the world was designed to work with.  Things go well in the land when God’s unchangeable moral standard is followed.