January 1-7th Family Worship Guide 2023

The Guide for the Week of January 1-7th, 2023
The Second Week Of Christmas

Bible Passage for the Week
Deuteronomy 28:27-45
Matthew 2
Isaiah 60
Psalm 68

Verse to Memorize
Matthew 2:1-2

Catechism Questions
Q.  Who were the first gentiles to worship Jesus?
A.  The Magi were the first non-Jewish people to worship Jesus.
Q. Who were the magi?
A.  The Magi, sometimes called the wise men,  were astrologers from Persia who had seen a star in the east representing the birth of a new king and traveled to Judea to worship this new king.

Q.  What gifts did the Magi give to Jesus?
A. When the Magi saw Jesus they bowed down to worship him and presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Q.  What was King Herod’s reaction to hearing that the king of the Jews was born?
A.  Herod was distressed and wanted to kill baby Jesus.  God protected Jesus by warning the wisemen in a dream not to return back to Herod and Joseph to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt.

People to Pray for: 
Church:  Christ Church Columbus
                Pastor Andrew Halsey
Ministry:  Sweetwater Research
Civil Magistrate: Indiana House of Representatives
Notes for Parents:

Deuteronomy 28:27-45
Do you fear God? The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.  There are two types of fears that people will have.  One is the terror of the presence of God. It is a terror because the awesome pureness and righteousness of the Lord is like a fire consuming all that it comes into contact with.  The purity of the Lord is like an acidic compound used in purifying metal that destroys all dross.  When you read the curses found in this passage, one sees the awful judgement of the Lord against sinners.  When you recognize your sins and His holiness, you cannot help but tremble.

Sadly, many are self-deluded and willfully blind.  They therefore do not tremble with fear as they read these passages. They go about life as if everything will be good.  They give no thought to their maker.  One day they will stand before him and they will have nothing but this fear.   There will be no relief at that time.  The fear of the Lord will be realized and they will not escape.
When you read God’s law and see the Holiness of the Lord it should lead you to tremble.  But there is another type of fear that comes upon those who have this first fear but are drawn by the Father to Jesus.  When you have Christ, this first fear is transformed.  It is as the song Amazing grace says It was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved.   Tremble at God’s word but trust in Christ.  Christ took the curse for you so that you who were God’s enemy might be called the his son.

As His child, the first fear, what some theologians call a slavish fear, will transform into a fatherly fear.  That is you will no now longer fear condemnation.  No, the perfect love of Christ will cast out that fear.  But it will replace it with the fear that one has for their loving father.  It is more than simple respect.  There is still some trembling in it but it is the kind of fear that causes a child to want to draw near their father rather than shrink back.    It is the fear of disobeying and disappointing your father.   It’s the fear a small child has when father raises his voice to tell him “no.” The child if it is a good father will want to be comforted by the father.

When you read this curse, if you are in Christ, the first type of fear has been relieved for you.  You need not fear destruction.  No, God is your Father.  You should draw near to Him.  Fear disobeying Him because you love Him.  Love Him because He first loved you.

Matthew 2
There are three responses found in Matthew 2 to the star signifying the birth of the new King, Jesus.  
1.  The Magi, gentile astrologers- foreigners to the promise, are yet drawn to the promises of God because of the star.  How did they know about the promise of a king?  The most likely explanation is that they had received tradition handed down from the time of Daniel.  When Daniel and the other Jewish young men were taken into captivity into Babylon, they were trained to become magi.  They were made servants of the king.  Because of God’s favor, they rose to the top.  Daniel received several prophesies.  It is no stretch to think that these made their way through the years to the current Magi.  In addition, years before Daniel, another gentile prophet, Balaam make a prophesy of the Messiah that explicitly mentioned the star.  Whatever the case, these Magi were drawn by God to find out more about Christ.  When they got to Jerusalem, they were able to inquire and hear directly from scripture about the place where Christ was born.   The Magi are drawn by God, hear God’s word, and they respond by going to Christ.  When they find Him, they fall down and worship Him.  They give him their famous gifts.  

2.  The Second response is the response of King Herod.  Herod hears the news of a newborn King and all he can think of his how this will impact his thirst for power.  Herod loves his position and thus his sin more than any good news of the Messiah.  Herod does seek out more information but not so that he can go to Christ and worship.  No, Herod only gives a feigned acknowledgement of Christ’s lordship.  The light has come but the darkness will try to over come it.  Herod cannot stand the thought of the Messiah.  He must snuff out the baby as soon as he can.  Herod’s hatred of good leads him to slaughter little children in an attempt to take out Jesus.

3.  The third response to Christ is the response of the priests and scribes.  These are the people entrusted with the word.  They have grown up in the religion.  They know the promises of the Messiah.  When the Wisemen come and King Herod enquires they are able to give chapter and verse where the Messiah would be born.  They know where Christ will be born.  They know the truth.  But they do nothing.  They don’t travel with the Magi to visit Jesus.  They don’t encourage Herod to worship. They are just indifferent.  Of all the people, these are the ones who should have rushed to worship Christ, yet they are cold and dead.  Later on in the gospel of Matthew, these people don’t stay indifferent.  The adult Christ won’t let them.  Eventually, their hypocrisy is put on full display and they take their place with the Herods of the world trying to snuff out Christ.  Their indifference turns into hatred and then to murder.
There is a lesson here for the wise.

Isaiah 60
This is a great prophesy of Isaiah that foretells of the coming of Christ and how the nations will worship Him.  If you ever wondered why at Christmas time the magi are often called the three kings it is because Christians saw how this chapter of Isaiah found some of its completion in the visit of the Magi to Jesus.  They were a first fruits of how as the gospel goes forth many nations and their leaders will worship Christ.  This is a very hopeful message.  Even in a dark time there is hope.

Psalm 68
This is a song of rejoicing.  God is triumphant over his enemies.  Like Isaiah 60, Christians throughout the years have seen this psalm to refer to Christ being visited by the magi in verse 29 which says  Because of Your temple at Jerusalem Kings will bring gifts to You.
Catechism/ Memory Verse
The catechism questions help you check your children’s understanding of the bible passage we are reading this week-Matthew 2.  This is a familiar story but we should not let its familiarity cause us to neglect its importance nor to keep us from learning from it.  The magi visiting Jesus is more than a cute Christmas story.  It is fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy and a foreshadow of the gospel going to all the nations.  The response of the magi to Christ should be an example for us all.  We must come and bow before King Jesus.

People to Pray for:
I spoke to Andy Halsey this week. He appreciated our church’s financial support and prayer.  He asked us to pray for wisdom as they grow and also as they are sharing a building with another church from a different denomination.  They too have faced a lot of sicknesses lately and being a small church plant, they feel each absence intensely.  Please pray for them to have health and to grow in number and wisdom.

Sweetwater Research is an organization of scientists that help bring clean water to impoverished places while also sharing the gospel.  Some of the things they are requesting prayer for is wisdom in mentoring an Ethiopian scientist to provide sustainable water management practices for her community, continued success in research of trout ecology on the North Fork White River, and more opportunities to strengthen the young African church there.

Pray for the Indiana House of Representative as they will begin work again in the new month of so.  New members will take up their seats.  Pray that they will serve with wisdom, integrity, and faith.

Church History Spotlight
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, My true love gave to me….
Most people know the Christmas carol, “The twelve days of Christmas”, but many don’t know what it is referring to.  We often think of Christmas as a one-day celebration and then its over till the next year.  But in many church calendars, the church celebrated the birth of Christ for 12 days, starting on December 25th and going to what is called Epiphany, January 6th.
"Epiphany" is a word of Greek origin, related to such English words as "theophany," "phenotype," and "phenomenon." It means an appearance, a displaying, a showing forth, a making clear or public or obvious. Early in Church history, Christians celebrated the making known of Jesus Christ to the world by reflecting on and preaching about several events in the life of ourr Lord, such as: the coming of the Magi; His Baptism; His first miracle at Cana.
Epiphany then was a day to commemorate the visit of the Magi, the firstfuits of all the nations of the earth who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, God, and Savior. The visit of the Magi is recorded in the second chapter of Matthew.  The Magi, or wise men, were men who probably operated as counselors to the political rulers of the nations east of Palestine. They were mentioned in the book of Daniel and often relied on astrology or other fortune telling devices.  Magi is where we get the word magic from.  The Magi in Matthew 3 had seen a star signaling the birth of Christ.  Perhaps, these Magi were familiar with the work of Daniel in his day pointing to the coming of Christ.  Whatever the case, they serve as a sign that the Messiah would be not just for the Jews but for the nations.  Jesus is the light of revelation to the gentiles.  For that we can celebrate more than 12 days.

My family and I celebrate Epiphany with a couple of family traditions.  We take down the Christmas lights on January 6th.  After getting out of the cold, we drink hot chocolate and eat King’s cake.  One of our friend’s Dale Sochia from New Orleans introduced us to King’s Cake a few years ago during an Operation Save America event.  You can find some recipes online for it.  
Next we read Matthew 2 and sing some songs.  Finally, the whole family walks through each room of the house asking God to bless our use of it for his glory.  We end up at the front door where we write with chalk over the door 20 CMB 23.  The letters are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. Who knows whether that was their names but more importantly, CMB  also represent the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, which means: “May Christ bless the house.”   For our family this a fun way to close out the Christmas season and remind ourselves that we need God’s blessing for the New year.  Feel free to borrow any of these ideas for your own family.