August 6-12th Family Worship Guide 2023

The Guide for the Week
 August 6-12th 2023 AD.
10th Sunday After Pentecost

Bible Passage for the Week
Proverbs 7:1-5
1 Samuel 4
2 Peter 1
Psalm 84

Verse to Memorize
Jeremiah 32:17

Catechism Questions
Q. 1. Who made you?
A. God.

Q. 2. What else did God make?
A. God made all things.

People to Pray for: 
Church: Holy Trinity Reformed Church
                       Pastor James Brown
Ministry: Reformation Frontline Ministries
                         Austin Keeler
Civil Magistrate: Clark County Deputy Prosecutor
                                              Sarah M. Hart  
Notes for Parents:
Proverbs 7:1-5
Sin will keep you from the word of God.  The Word of God will keep you from sin.  
You can’t serve two masters, so who will it be?   Will you give yourself to the word of God, then you will be wise.   You won’t be easily led astray.  You will find it much easier to resist temptation.  
It’s when you are not in the word of God that you are an easy target for the devil and for temptation.  

1 Samuel 4
God’s people went out to battle and they lost.  They lost a good chunk of their troops and it was unexpected.  The elders gather and they wonder why has God defeated us.  Pay attention to this language throughout this chapter, because what you're seeing here is that, throughout this chapter, you never really see the Philistines win. It's not that the Philistines win, but that Israel is defeated. And it is God doing the defeating.

You know, one of the things that Jesus said is that he's building his church and the gates of hell will not prevail. And this is important: the enemies of God are not victorious. They're never victorious. They never will be victorious. They never win. Ultimately, they never win. God's enemies never win. They rise up, they seem to flourish for a while. They're like flowers, but they will face defeat. They will not prevail. They cannot prevail.

But what can happen is that God can lead his church into defeat as a means of discipline or judgment. We know, having read the previous chapters, that they have dishonored God and disobeyed Him. They've despised his sacrifices. The priests led the people into great sin and hypocrisy.

They're like, "Well, why did God allow us to be defeated?" It is the right question they asked, by the way. It was a good question that they asked – that God allowed them to be defeated. Now they may have gotten that right partially in their pride, thinking that they can't be defeated by any enemy like the Philistines. But they were right to wonder why God was not with them.
They had presumed that God would be with them and God was not. So, they wondered what had happened. Maybe it was because they didn't bring the ark. So, they said, "You know what we'll do? We'll bring the ark here. The ark of the covenant of the Lord. The Lord who sits above the cherubim."  This detail is here for our benefit. God sits in the heavens, and the angels are at his beck and call. He is the God of all might and power. He’s not like the wimpy gods of the pagans; He isn’t like the idols. He is the Lord who sits above all.

This line invokes the awesome power of God, and that thought should have moved them to fear God. Instead, they said, "You know what? We didn't have God's ark with us. That's why we didn't win. We didn't have the ark with us." So they thought, if they bring the ark, that would secure victory. They had carried the ark to other places before, and that had given them victory.
They asked the right question but didn’t get the right answer. The right answer should have been repentance for their sins. The right answer should have been that they needed to repent of their sins. The right answer should have been, "What have we done to dishonor God? We have not been glorifying God. No, but we've despised His offerings and we have not worshipped Him and glorified Him as we ought. We've presumed upon God. Oh God, have mercy upon us." They should have fallen on their faces, begging for grace and mercy.
But no, they are like, "We just need a little bit more of God in our life, and things will go well for us." They view God as a means to an end, and it's superstitious. Dale Davis in his commentary calls it "rabbit foot theology." They had rabbit foot theology. The idea was that they could kind of force God's hand. They could force God's hand by bringing in the ark. They could do a little religious thing, and God would be forced to act on their behalf.

Davis says, "Their assumption is if we bring the ark to battle, Yahweh will be forced to deliver us to protect his honor. Should something happen to the ark, it would make Yahweh the loser, and naturally he would not allow that to happen. He'll have to save us now, his honor's at stake. They now have God under pressure because they have the sign of his presence. Hence, he dare not allow them to lose. To have God's furniture is to have God's power. The Ark is their religious ace in the hole."

It's like what I tried to do once with my dad when I was a young teen. I wanted to have a friend sleep over. I got all the plans together. I invited the friend. He got permission from his parents, and they were getting ready to bring him over. Then I went to Dad to ask and said they are on their way, is it okay if my friend stays the night? My dad is like wait, hold on. How come you are coming to me last? You're putting the cart before the horse. You're putting this pressure on me to make this decision, because you think that if I say no at this point, I'll feel like I'm the bad guy. I'll be embarrassed before the other kids' parents. It's like it's just awkward, but it shows how people use religion while living in unrepentant sin.

That is what Eli’s sons had done. Remember Hophni and Phinehas, that's what they had done. They used their holy position for their own lust. They lived in unrepentant sin but would use religion for their own greedy gain. They continue to do it here by bringing the ark into the battle. It's superstitious. It's a superstitious use of God for their own gain, rather than a love of God for who He is, and His worth, His glory, looking towards Him, honoring Him.

Many people do this. I think we're tempted to do this. We're tempted to think that, okay, we know God's all-powerful, we know that God is necessary. If God doesn't build the house… But instead of giving ourselves to honoring and loving God and glorifying God, and that's the purpose of how we live, because it comes from what He's done for us, we try to twist it into, okay, if I do X, Y, and Z, then God has to do this. Or I know I need Him to build my house, so I'll do these three things, and then God will build the house, and then I'll get great success.
It's superstitious; it's a superstitious use of God. It reveals a heart that doesn’t fear God or love Him. They put their faith here in this object, this ark, which was a sign God had given them. It was a command from God to have this thing, this sign. It was an outward object meant to help them look forward to Christ. It was a holy thing meant to point them to God.
And yet they put their trust in this as if this is what will do the work for them. They think they can sin, they can act wickedly, they could live in their lusts and their evil and without repentance, but as long as they had this little religious ceremony, this religious symbol, they're going to be okay. We see this throughout the history of the Old Testament with the Old Testament people.

This is what the prophets warn them about. Isaiah the prophet says, “Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah. ‘What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?’ Says the Lord. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats. ‘When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood."
They're full of sin, and they think that they can just sprinkle a little religiousness on top of it, and God will honor it. But that’s not how it works out in real life. God disciplines His people and judges the hypocrites. They put their faith in the ark, and so He will take it away. It's not the Philistines; it's God. This is why I titled this sermon "Raider of the Lost Ark." Not raiders like the movie. No, God is the raider. He is the one who takes the ark away. He takes away what His people superstitiously trusted in.

They presumed on God's grace, they made a superstition of God, and God is the one who raids it. He takes away his own ark. He takes it out of there. He would rather have the temporary shame to his name here than to allow them to continue in unrepentant sin and abuse his name and abuse his glory, thinking that a few little ceremonial things are going cover it up.

2 Peter 1
The following is an outline of 2 Peter chapter 1 along with a commentary by Matthew Henry on verse 18-20.  May it be of help in your study of this chapter.
Chapter 1: Growing in Godliness and Virtue
Introduction and Call to Spiritual Growth (1:1-4)

Greeting and authorship (1:1-2)
Divine power for life and godliness (1:3)
Promises of becoming partakers of the divine nature (1:4)

Exhortation to Add Virtues (1:5-7)
Building on faith: virtue (1:5)
Adding knowledge, self-control, steadfastness (1:5-6)
Cultivating godliness, brotherly affection, and love (1:7)

Significance of Virtue and Spiritual Growth (1:8-11)
Ensuring effectiveness and fruitfulness (1:8)
Avoiding spiritual blindness and forgetfulness (1:9)
Pursuit of virtues on the path to the eternal kingdom (1:10-11)

Peter's Eyewitness Testimony of Christ's Glory (1:12-18)
Peter's intention to remind and stir up (1:12-13)
Personal witness of Christ's transfiguration (1:16-18)

The Reliability of the Prophetic Word (1:19-21)
The prophetic word as a lamp shining in a dark place (1:19)
Its origin in the Holy Spirit's inspiration (1:20-21)

Here we have the reason of giving the foregoing exhortation, and that with so much diligence and seriousness. These things are not idle tales, or a vain thing, but of undoubted truth and vast concern. The gospel is not a cunningly devised fable. These are not the words of one who hath a devil, nor the contrivance of any number of men who by cunning craftiness endeavour to deceive. The way of salvation by Jesus Christ is eminently the counsel of God, the most excellent contrivance of the infinitely wise Jehovah; it was he that invented this way of saving sinners by Jesus Christ, whose power and coming are set forth in the gospel, and the apostle's preaching was a making of these things known. 1. The preaching of the gospel is a making known the power of Christ, that he is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him. He is the mighty God, and therefore can save from both the guilt and the filth of sin. 2. The coming of Christ also is make known by the preaching of the gospel. He who was promised immediately after the fall of man, as in the fulness of time to be born of a woman, has now come in the flesh; and whosoever denies this is an antichrist (1Jn_4:3), he is actuated and influenced by the spirit of anti-christ; but those who are the true apostles and ministers of Christ, and are directed and guided by the Spirit of Christ, evidence that Christ has come according to the promise which all the Old Testament believers died in the faith of, Heb_11:39. Christ has come in the flesh. Inasmuch as those whom he undertakes to save are partakers of flesh and blood, he himself also took part of the same, that he might suffer in their nature and stead, and thereby make an atonement.

 This coming of Christ the gospel is very plain and circumstantial in setting forth; but there is a second coming, which it likewise mentions, which the ministers of the gospel ought also to make known, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with all his holy angels, for he is appointed to be Judge both of quick and dead. He will come to judge the world in righteousness by the everlasting gospel, and call us all to give account of all things done in the body, whether good or evil. 3. And though this gospel of Christ has been blasphemously called a fable by one of those wretches who call themselves the successors of St. Peter, yet our apostle proves that it is of the greatest certainty and reality, inasmuch as during our blessed Saviour's abode here on earth, when he took on him the form of a servant and was found in fashion as a man, he sometimes manifested himself to be God, and particularly to our apostle and the two sons of Zebedee, who were eye-witnesses of his divine majesty, when he was transfigured before them, and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light, exceedingly white, as snow, so as no fuller on earth can whiten them. This Peter, James, and John, were eye-witnesses of, and therefore might and ought to attest; and surely their testimony is true, when they witness what they have seen with their eyes, yea, and heard with their ears: for, besides the visible glory that Christ was invested with here on earth, there was an audible voice from heaven.

Here observe, (1.) What a gracious declaration was made: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased - the best voice that ever came from heaven to earth; God is well pleased with Christ, and with us in him. This is the Messiah who was promised, through whom all who believe in him shall be accepted and saved.

(2.) This declaration is made by God the Father, who thus publicly owns his Son (even in his state of humiliation, when he was in the form of a servant), yea, proclaims him to be his beloved Son, when he is in that low condition; yea, so far are Christ's mean and low circumstances from abating the love of the Father to him that his laying down his life is said to be one special reason of the Father's love, Joh_10:17. (3.)

The design of this voice was to do our Saviour a singular humour while he was here below: He received honour and glory from God the Father. This is the person whom God delights to honour. As he requires us to give honour and glory to his Son by confessing him to be our Saviour, so does he give glory and honour to our Saviour by declaring him to be his Son. (4.) This voice is from heaven, called here the excellent glory, which still reflects a greater glory upon our blessed Saviour. This declaration is from God the fountain of honour, and from heaven the seat of glory, where God is most gloriously present. (5.) This voice was heard, and that so as to be understood, by Peter, James, and John. They not only heard a sound (as the people did, Joh_12:28, Joh_12:29), but they understood the sense. God opens the ears and understandings of his people to receive what they are concerned to know, when others are like Paul's companions, who only heard a sound of words (Act_9:7), but understood not the meaning thereof, and therefore are said not to hear the voice of him that spoke, Act_22:9. Blessed are those who not only hear, but understand, who believe the truth, and feel the power of the voice from heaven, as he did who testifieth these things: and we have all the reason in the world to receive his testimony; for who would refuse to give credit to what is so circumstantially laid down as this account of the voice from heaven, of which the apostle tells us, (6.) It was heard by them in the holy mount, when they were with Jesus? The place wherein God affords any peculiarly gracious manifestation of himself is thereby made holy, not with an inherent holiness, but as the ground was holy where God appeared to Moses (Exo_3:5), and the mountain holy on which the temple was built, Psa_87:1. Such places are relatively holy, and to be regarded as such during the time that men in themselves experience, or may, by warrant from the word, believingly expect, the special presence and gracious influence of the holy and glorious God.

Psalm 84
Do you love going to church? The Psalmist did. He yearned to be in the presence of God and His people, desiring to be close to the place of God. This psalm contains several well-known verses: "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness." However, what struck me this time while reading it was verse 3: "Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God."

Imagine the Psalmist ascending to the temple to worship God and noticing a bird building its nest near the altars. This sight captures the Psalmist's attention. The temple is so revered that even the birds choose to nest there. Matthew Henry and John Gill both suggest that the Psalmist envies the bird, wishing he could be in its place. The bird seems to have the prime spot.

I recall an incident when I was in the Philippines attending a church service in the jungle. The building had open windows and doors, and while we were singing, a rooster strolled in, crowing along with us. All of creation praises God.

Our God is truly good, and being in His house is a delight. Do you share the same sentiment? It's important to note that the house of God isn't just a physical structure; rather, it's the collective body of believers. Do you find joy in being with fellow believers?

One way to gauge this is by examining your commitment to serving the church. Do you volunteer when there's a need? Do you extend invitations to others or visit their homes? Are you eager to participate in any gathering of believers? Do you have a deep longing to be in the presence of the Lord?

Speaking of birds, Jesus likened His kingdom, the Church, to a mustard seed that would grow into a substantial tree, providing shelter for birds. God's church will expand, and through it, Christ will counteract the world's curse. Eventually, even nature will be restored with Christ’s return.

Catechism/ Memory Verse
It is easy to get so wrapped up in our busy lives that we lose track of the wonder and marvel of God.  Its easy to miss the forest for the trees.   Our catechism questions and memory verse point us to some fundamental truths that we often take for granted.

The first catechism question reminds us that God is the maker of each one of us. He lovingly crafted us in His image, with purpose and intention.  Its easy especially if you have a growing family to lose track of the amazing design of God in each of our children.  He makes each unique and has gifted them in different ways.  Take the time today to reflect on God’s goodness in making us and to praise Him for making each of us for his glory.  This could be a good time for having each kids say something they are thankful about in their siblings.  Have them praise God for something unique or special in their brothers and sisters.  We often treat each other poorly because we don’t think about how each person is created in the image of God.
The second question broadens our perspective to the entire cosmos. God's creative power extends far beyond humanity. He spoke the universe into existence, forming galaxies, stars, oceans, and mountains with a word. Engage your family in a discussion about their favorite aspects of nature. Whether it's the delicate petals of a flower or the vastness of the night sky, each detail reflects the artistry of our Creator.

Everything around you is an opportunity to praise God.  Give God thanks for His creation.  Ask each child what is something that they think is awesome that God has created.
In Jeremiah 32:17, we glimpse the prophet's awe as he acknowledges the greatness of God's creative might. Through his words, we're reminded that nothing is too difficult for God. Reflect on instances in your lives when you've witnessed God's power and provision. Share these stories with your family, reinforcing the idea that the same God who crafted the universe is intricately involved in our daily lives.

As a family, set aside time to explore nature together. Go for a hike, visit a park, or simply take a walk in your neighborhood. Encourage everyone to pay attention to the intricate details in God's creation. Marvel at the diversity of plants, animals, and landscapes. Use this opportunity to offer prayers of gratitude for the world God has provided.

People to Pray for:
Prayer for Holy Trinity Reformed Church
Heavenly Father, Almighty and Eternal,
We approach your throne of grace with humble hearts, lifting up Holy Trinity Reformed Church and Pastor James Brown before you. We acknowledge your sovereignty over all things and seek your guidance, blessings, and protection for this congregation and its shepherd.
First, we implore you bring three new families into their fellowship within the next three months. Families who are not only eager to learn and grow in your Word but are also enthusiastic to serve your kingdom with wholehearted dedication. May these families be a source of joy and strength within the church community.
Precious Lord, guard Pastor James Brown from discouragement in the face of challenges. Strengthen him with your unwavering presence and grant him a spirit of resilience. Shield him from the snares of complacency and laziness that may hinder his passion for proclaiming your truth and shepherding your flock. Fill him with renewed vigor each day to serve as a faithful steward of your Word.
Lord, we want to see you work in a mighty way with Holy Trinity Reformed Church. Reveal your mighty power through the preaching of your word and the sacraments.  May these wonders be a testament to your presence and an encouragement to the congregation, strengthening their faith and inspiring them to carry out your work with dedication and joy.
In these petitions, we submit to your divine will, trusting that your plans are perfect and your ways are just. May Holy Trinity Reformed Church and Pastor James Brown continue to glorify your name in all they do. We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Prayer for Austin Keeler
Heavenly Father,
We come before You today, lifting up our dear brother Austin Keeler  in prayer, asking for Your steadfast support and blessings upon his life and ministry.
Lord, we pray that You would grant Austin unwavering boldness as he proclaims the Gospel in Shelbyville and the surrounding regions. Strengthen his spirit, fill him with Your Holy Spirit, and embolden him to fearlessly declare Your truth in a world that often rejects it. May his words be filled with power and conviction.  Give open ears and soft hearts to those who would hear his preaching so that they might come to the knowledge of Christ.
Father, we ask for Your protection over Austin, that he may resist and overcome temptation. Shield him from the allure of worldly distractions and grant him discernment to discern right from wrong. Strengthen his faith, enabling him to walk in purity and righteousness, setting an example for others to follow.
Loving God, we pray for Austin’s family. May his love for them reflect Your sacrificial love for the Church. Grant him the wisdom and patience to nurture and guide his family in the ways of the Lord.  We also pray that you would meet all of their needs. You are the ultimate provider, and we ask that You bless him abundantly, both spiritually and materially. Open doors of opportunity for him, that he may have the resources necessary to continue his ministry effectively.
Lord, Surround Austin with Your grace, protection, and favor as he serves You faithfully. May his ministry bear much fruit, leading many to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  In the precious name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Prayer for Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Sarah Hart
Compassionate and Just Creator,
In your presence, O God, we find both mercy and justice. We offer gratitude for the institution of civil governance, ordained to quell wickedness and safeguard the virtuous.  We are grateful for individuals like Sarah Hart, who give themselves to serving in this work.
We know that the only hope and comfort in this life is to be found in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins that He brings we beseech you to grant Sarah a profound awareness of her need for Christ as her Redeemer. May she continuously grasp the weight of her sins, leading her to seek your forgiveness and renewal. Help her understand that salvation solely rests in faith in Jesus Christ, who bore the brunt of our sins on the cross.
God, as Sarah fulfills her role as Deputy Prosecutor, we humbly seek your wisdom to navigate her path. Endow her with discernment to differentiate right from wrong and the strength to champion righteousness. In her pursuit of justice, may she shield the innocent and hold accountable those who perpetrate harm. May her actions reflect your righteous character, making her a beacon of justice within her community.
Loving Father, we earnestly pray for the protection of Sarah's heart and mind from the allure of dishonesty or greed. Guard her against the temptations of compromise, bribes, or shortcuts that erode the integrity of justice. Infuse her with unwavering honesty, an unyielding commitment to truth, and a profound empathy for those affected by crime. Shield her from any pressures that might lead her astray from prosecuting with fairness.
We ask that you would be with her in her home life.  Give her a deep gratitude for your creation of femininity and her call to live in obedience to her God ordained sex.  May she desire to care first and foremost for her home, husband, and any children that you may give, not allowing any other pursuits to interfere.  Bless her family with your love and care.
Lord, we entrust Sarah Hart into your care, recognizing that only you can transform hearts and guide lives. Surround her with your grace and compassion, empowering her to walk steadfastly in righteousness and serve as an instrument of justice.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the embodiment of justice and grace, we offer this prayer. Amen.

Church History Spotlight
Laurence, Deacon and Martyr
10 August 258

Laurence (or Lawrence) was chief of the seven deacons of the congregation at Rome, the seven men who, like Stephen and his companions (Acts 6:1-6), were in charge of administering the church budget, particularly with regard to the care of the poor. In 257, the emperor Valerian began a persecution aimed chiefly at the clergy and the laity of the upper classes. All Church property was confiscated and meetings of Christians were forbidden. The bishop of Rome, Sixtus II, and most of his clergy were executed on 7 August 258, and Laurence on the 10th. This much from the near-contemporary records of the Church.

The accounts recorded about a century later by Ambrose (see 7 Dec) and the poet Prudentius say that, as Sixtus was being led to his death, Laurence followed him, saying, "Will you go to heaven and leave me behind?" and that the bishop replied, "Be comforted, you will follow me in three days." They go on to say that the Roman prefect, knowing that Laurence was the principal financial officer, promised to set him free if he would surrender the wealth of the Church. Laurence agreed, but said that it would take him three days to gather it. During those three days, he placed all the money at his disposal in the hands of trustworthy stewards, and then assembled the sick, the aged, and the poor, the widows and orphans of the congregation, presented them to the prefect, and said, "These are the treasures of the Church." The enraged prefect ordered him to be roasted alive on a gridiron. Laurence bore the torture with great calmness, saying to his executioners at one time, "You may turn me over; I am done on this side." The spectacle of his courage made a great impression on the people of Rome, and made many converts, while greatly reducing among pagans the belief that Christianity was a socially undesirable movement that should be stamped out.

A prayer of thanks for Laurence:
Almighty God, who called your deacon Laurence to serve you with deeds of love, and gave him the crown of martyrdom: Grant that we, following his example, may fulfil your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Upcoming Events:
Morning Study Hour With Pastor 6-7AM
August 7 Nursing Home and City Council
August 13 New Members Class Staring – Second and Fourth Sunday of the Month
August 18 Family Ministry Night
August 20 Genevan Pub