December 18-24th Family Worship Guide 2022

The Guide for the Week of December 18- 24th, 2022 
The Fourth Week of Advent

Bible Passage for the Week
Deuteronomy 28:1-14
Luke 1:26-38
Micah 5:1-5
Psalm 53

Verse to Memorize
Luke 2:14

Catechism Questions
Q.  Where was Jesus born?
A. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David.

Q. If Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, how was Jesus born in Bethlehem?
A. Caesar Augustus had given a command that everyone must return to their hometown for a census, and since Joseph was from Bethlehem, Mary and He traveled there.

Q. Where did Mary place Jesus when He was born?
A. Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger.

People to Pray for: 
Church: Clearnote Church
               Pastor David Abu-sara
Ministry: Daniel Courney
Civil Magistrate: US Supreme Court
Notes for Parents:
Deuteronomy 28:1-14
Obedience and Disobedience to God has consequences.   There are blessings that attend obedience to God’s law and there are cursings that come when we disobey.   This is a foundational principle of life.  Sin brings death.   Part of your work as parents is helping your children understand these principles.  This is why you discipline your children.  You cause them some temporary pain when they disobey so that they learn that disobedience to God brings pain.  You need to be faithful and consistent in your discipline.  I want to share with you an excerpt from the sermon a week ago about God’s work through Joseph.

“When a merciful man deals with sin its not about seeking his own personal vengeance.  He can and will forgive offenses given to him personally.  When he must do justice its not about him.  Its about the glory of God.   When he carries out discipline in his home its is about the glory of God, not about slights to him.  When a father or mother disciplines a child, they need to remember this.  You discipline your children not just because they offended you or aggravated you.  It is about the glory of God.

I remember talking to someone and they said that the wife has a shorter leash then them and they have a longer leash.  What they meant is that the wife was quicker to discipline because certain behaviors more quickly got her attention while he was able to put up with more.  As I think about that, its not the right thing.  Our discipline standards should not be because we can put up with more things.  That makes it all about when our putting up with is over.  Our discipline needs to be according to God’s standards.   Justice and mercy deal with God and not our personal tolerances for sin in the home.

A merciful man though will not make justice or discipline about his own personal vengeance.   A merciful man carries out discipline for the glory of God, the name of the church, and the wellbeing of the offender. “

Do the work of showing that there are curses associated with disobedience but then also recognize that there are blessings associated with obedience.  Reward good work with your children.

Lastly,  this principle must be seen in light of the gospel.  Because we all deserve nothing but the curses of God.  When you read the Psalm passage for this week, you will be confronted with the fact that no one does good.  We all have disobeyed God and we do not deserve blessing.  But praise God, Christ became a curse for us and through his perfect obedience procured all the blessings mentioned here for us even though we do not and could not deserve this.   Therefore, we need to always read this in light of the gospel.  Because of Christ, we have access to these blessings by the merit of Christ.  If we have faith, these are ours.  And therefore our obedience is not merely in terms of trying to earn merit and blessing but is a response of faith to merit that was earned by Christ.    We then can return to this passage with hope.  

So does the gospel make null the principle about obedience and disobedience?  No.  There are still earthly blessings and cursings that attend to disobedience in the life of a Christian.  If we are in Christ, we will not face curses in the ultimate sense but we will still often face consequences for our action in this life.  Therefore, love God, have faith in Christ, Obey, and be blessed.
Luke 1:26-38
Last week we considered how Christ entering into the world changed everything.  It brought considerable change to Joseph’s life.  He went from a man just looking to get married and settle in his hometown to the father of a child who was not his biologically, a son who would be savior of the Universe.  He became a protector of Mary and Christ as he led them to escape the wrath of Herod into Egypt.  Now consider how Christ coming also changed Mary’s life.

She was a young woman with virtue.  She was sexually pure.  She was humble.  She was faithful.  She was obedient.  She had a gentle and quite spirit.  And she would be with child before being married even though she was all these things.  She would probably spend much of her life fielding accusations of adultery.  She would be maligned.  Yet, she believed God’s promises.  She overcame through childbirth.  

As protestants, we see the abuses of Rome towards Mary and thus are tempted to downplay her significance.  But we see that God honored motherhood.  Mary is a good example then for young women.  She is feminine and it is through her femininity that she was honored.  All generations will call her blessed.  

Take the time this week Father to praise your wife and honor the femininity of your daughters.  The antidote to feminism is not a belittling of women but a restoration of the dignity and honor of femininity.

Micah 5:2-5
Micah was prophesying to Jerusalem and Samaria around the same time as Isaiah. His work was to call both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah to repentance for their idolatry.  He also warned them that they would be destroyed if they did not repent.  The northern kingdom was first to be judged as the Assyrians conquered them and dispersed the 10 northern tribes.  Jerusalem in the south would also be judged.  Micah proclaimed that the Babylonians would bring them low.  It was devastating news but in the midst of this judgement, Micah also foretold that though the great city of Jerusalem would be destroyed, God would not forget His promises to Kind David to have a king on the throne.  In the small town of Bethlehem, too little to be counted among the great cities of Judah, God would raise up a ruler.  There would still be a King for God’s people.  This of course was a prophesy foretelling of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem.  See the section below on the catechism questions for more about Bethlehem.  

Psalm 53
The fool says in his heart there is no God.   Atheism and its sister Agnosticim are foolish.  We all know that God exists because God has made it plain to us.  He has written it into the stars in the heavens, in rising and setting of the sun, in the trees, mountain, and creatures that He made.  He has written a knowledge of Him on each of our hearts.  No one on this planet is without excuse.  We all know God and yet because we do not give thanks to Him and worship Him as we ought, He gives us over to foolish and debased minds.  We worship the creation rather than the creator.  Any one who is in their right mind can see how foolish that is.   The Psalm teaches us that this foolishness isn’t just limited to professing atheists.  There are ways that people who profess with their lips there is a God to say in their heart there is no God.  How?  The rest of the Psalm speaks of how every single person commits wickedness.  When we sin, we in effect live and act as if there is no God.   We forget the fear of the Lord.  We place Him to the side and go on in our life as if there is no God.  Because if we were always proclaiming God in our heart, there would be no room for our sin.  If we were controlled all the time by the fear of the Lord, how could we ever act and think in a way to break his commands.  Sin is a declaration by our hearts of unbelief.  

We need the gospel of Jesus to free us from this wicked condition.  We cannot save ourselves.  We need the Holy Spirit to give us faith and cause us to walk in the fear of the Lord.  The opposite of foolishness then is humble dependence upon the Holy Spirit so that we may love the Lord with all our HEARTS, minds, and souls.
Catechism/ Memory Verse
We read the narrative of the birth of our Lord every year at this time.  It is good and fitting to celebrate the first coming of Jesus Christ.  But it can be easy to become so familiar with the account that you just gloss over it as it becomes just another holiday tradition.  Tradition can be good for helping to inculcate truths into us through repetition, but we must not be content with just vain repetition.  Rather we should meditate on these truths and let them be the reason for our joy.

Our Catechism questions this week are focused on the location of Christ’s birth.   Everything about the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is full of meaning.  And all these things are orchestrated by the hand of God for our salvation.  Consider that Joseph and Mary did not usually live in Bethlehem.   Yet, the prophesy that was given back in the Old Testament said that it was from Bethlehem, a small town historically connected to King David, that the Messiah would come from.  How then was it that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem instead of Nazareth where Joseph and Mary lived?  Our second catechism question recounts how scripture says that the Roman Emperor established a census for the purpose of collecting taxes that required everyone to travel back to their hometowns to be registered.

You could imagine how this census inconvenienced many.  Perhaps there were people ready to revolt against the Roman emperor.  Countless people were required to travel and none of them could have had even a clue that God had moved the heart of the Emperor and was orchestrating this event for the salvation of mankind.  This does not mean that God gave moral approval to the Emperor’s command but it does mean that even what the Emperor meant for his own reasons, God would use for His glory.

This ought to be an encouragement to us on several fronts.  One, we should know that God is able to turn the hearts of even kings where He will.  He is able to guide them into decisions that will work to the good of His people.  God is King over all the earth and all things will do His bidding.

Secondly, we should know that God has good purposes for all things that happen even when we cannot see those purposes for ourselves.  Again, consider how many people were impacted by this decree to return to your hometown.  For some it may have been a minor inconvenience.  For others it may have seemed like the worst of things.  Perhaps their trip home was like the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles where everything that could go wrong went wrong.  Perhaps for others the trip home forced them into opportunities of reconciliation and restoration with family.  We will never know all the stories.   We do know that God had planned all of this and it results in the savior of the Universe being born in just the right location, a humble manger in the town of Bethlehem.  God’s good purpose for all of mankind was being worked out on a large scale.  And we do not know all the other ways that God did good to many people through this event.  Therefore we should take heart that when we face troubles and trials in this life that all things will work to our good if we are in Christ Jesus.  We may never know all the answers to why He allows certain events in our lives.  Some may seem so random or pointless but we know that they are not because God is in control.

People to Pray for:
Clearnote Church in Indy is about the same size as our church and just like us has a lot of little ones.  They also like us have experienced a lot of sickness lately.  Please pray for the church that she will grow in maturity and that the many children will be raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Pray for Pastor David Abu-sara that God would give him a boldness to proclaim the word and humility in spirit as God uses him.

Daniel Courney is back in the United States for a while preaching in various cities.  He is also going through a court trial after an abortion doctor accused him of harassment for preaching the gospel.  Pray that judge in that case will fear God and throw out the false accusations.  Pray for Daniel’s work preaching the gospel.

The Supreme Court has several important cases before it this session.  In particular, they are deciding whether they will allow so called Homosexual marriage be used as a tool to suppress Christian speech.  Pray that they will repent of their support of this abomination and will do what it is right to protect Christians from being compelled to support this sin with their work.

Church History Spotlight

The Apostle Thomas (Hebrew or Aramaic for "twin") was also called "Didymus" (Greek for "twin"). He was absent when the Risen Lord appeared to the other apostles and refused to believe that Christ had indeed risen until he had seen him for himself, but when he had seen Him, he said to Him, "My Lord and My God." (John 20:19-29) Because of this episode, he has been known ever since as "Doubting Thomas." But we ought also to remember his earlier words, when Jesus announced His intention of going to the Jerusalem area, brushing aside the protests of His disciples that His life was in danger there, at which Thomas said to the others: "Let us also go, that we may die with him." (John 11:7,8,16) If Thomas was pessimistic, he was also sturdily loyal. At the Last Supper, Jesus said: "I go to prepare a place for you.... And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." Thomas replied: "Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?" To this Jesus answered: "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:1-6)
A couple of centuries later a story was circulating in the Mediterranean world that he had gone to preach in India; and there is a Christian community in India (the Kerala district) that claims descent from Christians converted by the the preaching of Thomas. The tradition among Christians in India is that Thomas was speared to death near Madras, and accordingly he is often pictured holding a spear. Paintings of martyrs often show them holding or accompanied by the instruments with which they were put to death.