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14-Feb-2016 Worship Plan

With God's help, we hope to worship Him according to the following plan on the next Lord's Day, the 14th of February

The Lord’s Day, February 14, 2016
Morning Service (9:30a.m.)
(before worship) prayer for God’s help
Psalm 38:1-10, Prayer
Song: #487 In Thy Wrath and Hot Displeasure
Deuteronomy 25:1-16, Prayer
Song: #59 Forever Settled in the Heavens
Philippians 3:7-9, Prayer
Songs: #656 Jesus, Priceless Treasure; #642 Be Thou My Vision
The Lord’s Supper
Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Evening Service (6 p.m.)
(before worship) Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 13 (p870) and prayer for God’s help
Hebrews 5:3, Prayer
Song: #254 Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed
Luke 8:26-40, Pastoral Prayer
Song: #40 God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength
Zechariah 3:6-10, Prayer

Song: #194 O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Dismissal by God’s Blessing

Meditating on Scriptures from 7-Feb, Preparing for Scriptures on 14-Feb

Audio recordings of the preaching and teaching from yesterday's worship services are now available at http://harvestoc.net/sermons.html

Follow-up devotionals for those passages were posted [here] last week

The following devotionals are designed to help you work through the passages for 14-February, either in preparation beforehand or follow-up afterward:

Follow-up devotionals for use in Private and Family Worship
Psalm 38:1-10
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• From whom does David receive his current situation (1-3)? What seems to be the worst part of it? Why is it happening (4-5)? • How has David’s trouble affected him (6-8, 10)? Whom does He expect has noticed and cared (9)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What sins or guilt are tormenting you? What great trouble are you in? How have these things affected you? • Who can see and care about this? What purpose of His is accomplished now, as you bring this psalm to bear on your situation?
Suggested songs: Psalm 38, #487 In Thy Wrath and Hot Displeasure
Suggested memory verse: Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. (Psalm 38:9)
Deuteronomy 25:11-16
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• What was not permissible even to save one’s husband (11)? What would the wife be sacrificing in this case (12)? • What is the bag in v13 for? Why would someone use different weights at different times? Where else was such a strategy a temptation (14)? • But what would such an approach actually lose for them (15b)? What kind of economic dealing was in their own best interest (15a)? • What does God say about anyone who willfully and unrepentantly sins (16)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What are situations in our culture where private parts tend not to be respected? How do you plan to avoid or act differently in them? • Where have you had the opportunity to seek your own interest by unfair economic dealing with someone outside the home? How does this passage give you the incentive to be upright instead? With whom in your own house must you discipline yourself to deal fairly?
Suggested songs: Psalm 119, #59 Forever Settled in the Heavens
Suggested memory verse: For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord your God. (Deut 25:16)
Philippians 3:7-9
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• What does “gain for me” mean when talking about pride or credit in v7? Who is doing the losing in this verse? • Now, in 8a, who is losing what? Between “all things” and what(Whom) is Paul forced to choose (8b)? And what has he chosen? Why (8c-d)? • What is the personal result of gaining Christ (9a)? What is the legal result (9b-c)? What is the relational result (9d)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What things would you have been tempted to consider as being to your own credit? How does this coming at the cost of being Christ’s loss keep you from viewing them that way? • What sins and temptations must you give up in order to have Christ? Which are the hardest to give up? • What good things make up that righteousness which you refuse to have? What righteousness do you have instead? How?
Suggested songs: Psalm 2, #642 Jesus, Priceless Treasure
Suggested verse: But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ (Phil 3:7)
Hebrews 5:3
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• What kind of priest (1a) is v3 talking about? What does he have (end of v3)? What do the people need him to do for them? What does he need himself to do for himself? • How is Jesus’ high priesthood similar? How is it different?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What do you deserve? Why do you need atoning sacrifice? What would happen to you if you do not have it? • What sacrifice has made you right with God? Who is your priest? Where is your priest? What is He doing there right now?  
Suggested Songs: Psalm 130, #254 Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed
Suggested memory verse: Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. (Hebrews 5:3)
Luke 8:26-40
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• Where did this take place (26)? What kind of people were these (32a)? What are some of the strange things about the man in v27? In this light, how is v28 even more strange? • What does v29 give as the reasons for Jesus casting the demon out? What does this show that He cares about? • What does the interaction in v30-32 show about the relationship of Jesus to the demons? • What does the immediate action in v33 show about the nature/character of the demons? • What was the job of those giving the report in v34? To whom would they have been giving the report? How would such news have been received? • But what did they see when they came (35)? And how did they feel upon seeing this (end of 35)? • What are the “means” to which the report  in v36 refers? What further effect did this have upon them (37)? • What did the delivered man desire (38)? What does Jesus tell him to do instead (39a)? How is what he actually did a little different (39b)? How is it the same (39a)? What is the result of what the delivered man did (40)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• In what ways are you affected by the things that made Jesus scary to the demons and to the Gadarenes? From what has Jesus delivered you? By what means? • Whom have you told? Whom are you going to tell? • Where do you want to be? What do you hope will be the result of your being here instead to tell others?
Suggested songs: Psalm 46, #40 God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength
Suggested memory verse:  “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:39)
Zechariah 3:6-10
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• Who is addressing Joshua in v6? And who is Joshua (8a)? Where was Joshua being envisioned to be at the time (7)? What privileges did he have on earth? What privileges did he look forward to in heaven? What would have to be true of his earthly life in order for him to retain these privileges? • Who are “men of a sign or wonder” in v8b-c? How is it a wonder that there are still Israelites at all, and that they have a high priest, and that they are in Jerusalem? What sure hope is demonstrated/validated by all of this (8d)? • What two titles is Messiah given in 8d? What does each of these titles teach/emphasize about Him (cf. Isa 41-53; Isa 4:2, Jer 23:5, Zec 6:12)? • What does God lay before the high priest in v9a-b? When God promised to do this in Isa 28:16, what(who!) was the stone? What is usually the significance of the number in 9c? What is the significance of divine eyes (cf. 2Ch 16:9; Psa 11:4; Prov 15:3) • On what day does God remove all of the guilt of His people’s sin? On what day does God remove every remaining stain, and what are they like upon that day (9-10)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• How is Christ your confidence before God? What kind of life should you live, if this is your hope? In your specific life, how can you improve service, obedience, and generosity?
Suggested songs: Psalm 110; #194 O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Suggested memory verse: For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. (Zechariah 3:8d)

God's Indescribable Gift Is God (some thoughts on Acts 8:12-18)

Today, someone wrote to ask about Acts 8:12-18. Looking at the passage to help the inquirer left me again amazed at how wonderful our God is. Hoping that your own consideration of the passage will do the same for you, I reprint my response here:

Up to this point in Acts (and also later in ch 10), the immediate tangible evidence of receiving the Spirit was speaking in tongues or doing miracles. It takes time for the fruit of the Spirit to develop, so in His providential mercy, God granted this sign as something that could be seen immediately.

It is apparent that although Philip himself had done signs and miracles, God had reserved the ability to confer gifts of signs for the apostles only, and so it was necessary for Peter and John to come and lay hands. I had never noticed this before, but it is another strong argument for tongues being a sign that is specific to the apostolic age. Which of the twelve (or the apostle Paul?) has come and laid his hands upon anyone today who claims this gift?

It's a wonderful contrast, between Philip and Simon Magus. Although Philip's miracle gifts amaze Magus in how they outclass his magic, Philip is content to defer to the apostles in humility, while Magus seeks to advance himself by means of money.

And it is wonderful that what is mentioned as great to receive was not whatever the sign was, but the Holy Spirit Himself as a Person.
Up to this point in Acts (and also later in ch 10), the immediate tangible evidence of receiving the Spirit was speaking in tongues or doing miracles. It takes time for the fruit of the Spirit to develop, so in His providential mercy, God granted this sign as something that could be seen immediately.
It is apparent that although Philip himself had done signs and miracles, God had reserved the ability to confer gifts of signs for the apostles only, and so it was necessary for Peter and John to come and lay hands. I had never noticed this before, but it is another strong argument for tongues being a sign that is specific to the apostolic age. Which of the twelve (or the apostle Paul?) has come and laid his hands upon anyone today who claims this gift?
It's a wonderful contrast, between Philip and Simon Magus. Although Philip's miracle gifts amaze Magus in how they outclass his magic, Philip is content to defer to the apostles in humility, while Magus seeks to advance himself by means of money.
And it is wonderful that what is mentioned as great to receive was not whatever the sign was, but the Holy Spirit Himself as a Person.
How much more, then, should we rejoice not only over having a completed Bible, but over the Holy Spirit, the Person, who gave it and continues to use it. And how much more, then, should we rejoice not only over growing in the fruit of the Spirit (the most excellent way, the greater gift), but over the Holy Spirit, the Person, who is producing in us this fruit!
This brings me to one last point about a verse later in the passage: in v20 "the gift of God" can grammatically mean "the gift that is from God" or "the gift that is God," and in the context of the passage, the latter is actually more likely!
Isn't it glorious? 
God the Father has given us two great gifts: the Son and the Spirit whom He sent to bring us to Himself.
God the Son has given us two great gifts: the Father to Whom He brings us, and the Spirit whom He sent, by Whom to bring us to the Father.
God the Spirit has given us two great gifts: the Father to Whom He brings us, and the Son in Whom He brings us to the Father. 
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Study Questions to Prepare for Thursday's Prayer Meeting

Whether the Prayer Meeting Bible Study has been serving you best by its timeliness of application to where we, our church, and our country are at; or, by its stirring your heart up toward the Lord for the prayer portion of the meeting, you will be better able to benefit if you prepare in advance to spend time in the Scripture. The following summary from last time and preparation questions for this time are designed to help you:

Summary from last time (Nehemiah 10:1-31): The first leadership duty of civil leadership is to lead in commitment to the Lord, and the first leadership duty of church leadership is to lead in commitment to the Lord. When we covenant with God, we covenant not just personally to be set apart to Him, but in our actions to be set apart to His law. Each man, woman, boy, and girl—everyone with knowledge and understanding—in His church must individually profess their own commitment.
Discussion questions for Nehemiah 10:32-39
• For what do all the duties in v32-39 provide (end of v39)? Since what time had such duties been particularly necessary? What is implied by the fact that they are especially identifying these duties as they “cut a firmness” here?
• What was one thing needed for the temple service (32)? For what did they need it (33)? Who would be making and working with what was purchased in this verse?
• What was not a specifically priestly or levitical duty, but was just as necessary for the temple service (34)? Among whom was this labor divided now? Who had done it before (cf. Josh 9:23)?
• What is the connection between obedience and wisdom (e.g. logistics) demonstrated in v35-37? What does v38 show about who tithes

2-Feb-16 Website Updates

Minor updates have been made to the website, including the processing and uploading of some recent audio files. If you or someone you know is willing to serve in doing some or all of these tasks, please let an elder know!

2-Feb-16 Reminders for this week

A few important calendar items that you may wish to remember this week:

Wednesday (tomorrow) at 7p.m. - Monthly stated elders' meeting
Wednesday (tomorrow) at 11:59p.m. - Deadline for Pulpit Committee nominations
Thursday at 7p.m. - Prayer Meeting (Nehemiah 10:32-39)
Lord's Day at 9:30a.m. - Corporate Worship
Lord's Day at 11:15a.m. - Called meeting to elect Pulpit Committee
Lord's Day at 12p.m. - Fellowship Meal
Lord's Day at 6p.m. - Corporate Worship
Lord's Day at 7:30p.m. - Afterparty

Replace Deadly Self-Confidence with Super-Confidence IN CHRIST

Yesterday, in the morning and evening sermons, we heard from Philippians 3:2-3 about watching out for morally dangerous and spiritually deadly self-confidence, and replacing it not with a lack of confidence but with SUPER-confidence IN CHRIST. Take a listen to the...

Morning Sermon

and Evening Sermon

Preparing to Hear from Holy Scripture in 7-Feb-2016 Worship Services

Another thing that we heard from Luke 8 yesterday is that before "taking heed how we hear" (v18) proceeds to meditation, action, and endurance, it first involves "receiving the Word with joy" (v13) and "hearing with a noble and good heart" (v15). That is to say that we are to plan for hearing with joy by bringing our hearts to a particular condition even before we come. One excellent way of doing that is by thinking about the Scripture passages ahead of time. In order to do that, you may wish to use the following devotionals on Scripture passages that are planned for next Lord's Day's worship services.
Follow-up devotionals for use in Private and Family Worship
Psalm 37:32-40
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• What two groups are watching the righteous (32-33)? What does each want? Who wins? • Whom should the righteous keep his eye on (34a)? With what purpose (34b)? And what result (34c-d)? • How do current circumstances (35) sometimes compare to this long-term certainty (36-38)? Then why is the long-term result certain (39a)? Besides that certainty (40), what other help do they have in current circumstances (39b)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What wicked people, especially attackers of the righteous, do you see prospering? What is their end? Can you give an example of this from Bible history? From other history? • What righteous and blameless people do you see currently in trouble? What is their end? Can you give an example of this from Bible history? From other history? • What trouble are you currently in? In what/whom have you been finding strength in it? What will be the long-term result of it? Why? How?
Suggested songs: Psalm 37:32-40, #40 God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength
Suggested memory verse: But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble. (Psalm 37:39)
Deuteronomy 25:1-10 (for 14-Feb)
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• What is the duty of a court (1)? How many are involved in this work? But how many are involved in sentencing (2)? Even for the wicked, what is a significant consideration in sentencing (3)? • How is v4 especially illustrative of the level of fairness and consideration that God requires of His people? How does it especially apply to the concept of “a living wage”? • How could a family line be preserved, if a woman was widowed without children (5-6)? Was this required (7-8)? How was it encouraged (9-10)? How would this encouragement be especially significant to someone who was concerned with preserving his own name (9-10)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• Where did the American justice system of juries and judges come from? Who is currently defining what is “righteous” and what is “wicked”? How is this different from the Bible and from the foundations of our justice system? • What are some ways that godly families can be preserved and perpetuated today? How do these verses communicate the value of children? To what current issues does this most apply? How would a higher value upon children modify your own plans/behavior?
Suggested songs: Psalm 19, #151 Jehovah’s Perfect Law
Suggested memory verse: You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain. (Deut 25:4)
Philippians 3:4-7
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• Why is Paul a good case study for not having confidence in oneself (4)? To what kinds of self-confidence was he tempted (5-6)? • How was circumcision related to church membership? How was the timing related to precision in congregational duties? What was special about Jacob/Israel’s family? What  was special about Benjamin’s tribe? From whom were the Hebrews distinct? And what would a “super Hebrew” then be? • What relationship did the Pharisees have to the law? What is the difference between knowledge, service, and obedience? Which one can result in self-confidence? • What would have been diminished if Paul felt confident in his strongest spiritual advantages (7)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What do you think are the strongest points about your place in the church? What do you think are the strongest points about your Christian walk? How are these strong points your greatest dangers?
Suggested songs: Psalm 32, #461 Not What My Hands Have Done
Suggested verse: But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ (Phil 3:7)

Hebrews 5:1-2
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• From among what group must a high priest be taken (1)? For whom is he appointed? Before whom does he serve? What does he offer? • As he does so, what are his feelings toward those for whom he is appointed (2)? What are their flaws? What aspect of the high priest’s condition enables him to sympathize with their flaws? What part of his work makes it clear that he does not excuse their flaws?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• How do you know that Jesus sympathizes with you, without excusing your sin? What has He done about your sin? What does He continue to do about it? How does He feel toward you as He does it?
Suggested Songs: Psalm 130, #306 Jesus, My Great High Priest
Suggested memory verse: He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. (Hebrews 5:2)
Luke 8:19-25
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• Who wanted to see Jesus (19-20)? What might we have expected as a godly response? How does this make v21 startling? In the long term, and at a deeper level, how is v21 exactly correct? What part of Jesus’ answer wasn’t necessarily true of everyone in the crowd? What do vv19-21 remind us about Jesus’ person? • What do vv22-25 remind us about Jesus’ power? Whom did the disciples think were perishing (23-24)? Why could this not have been true? Why were the disciples still afraid in v25?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• Who are your earthly family? Who are your eternal family? If these are ever in conflict, which is more significant? • What about Jesus’ person indicates His relationship to the Father? How can you identify His adopted family? By these criteria, would someone identify you as His adopted family? • Why is it as impossible for something to be to a Christian’s ultimate harm, as it is that Jesus would die in any other way than the cross? How much more fearful is His power than any other fear? What habits do you have in place to keep yourself mindful of His fearful power?
Suggested songs: Psalm 2, #162 Of the Father’s Love Begotten
Suggested memory verse:  But He said to them, “Where is your faith?”And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” (Luke 8:25)
Zechariah 3:1-5
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• At what time is the vision of v1 (cf. Haggai 1:1, 1:12, 1:14, 2:2, 2:4)? Why would it be odd that someone is representing or interceding for a high priest? Who is representing him in v1? Who is opposing him? • Who is speaking in v2? But whom does He call upon to rebuke Satan in v2? • How is the Lord described in v2? How is Joshua described? From what fire was he plucked? • Even having such representation, what is Joshua’s ongoing problem (3)? For whom would this provide fodder? How is this fodder taken away (4-5)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• Who stands opposed to you to accuse you? What true things does he have to say? Who is the only One who can defend you? What has He done to take away your guilt? What else does He promise you? What does righteous clothing look like in our lives? Where do we get it?
Suggested songs: Psalm 51; #306 Jesus, My Great High Priest

Suggested memory verse: Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” (Zechariah 3:4)

7-Feb-2016 Orders of Service

We hope, by God's help, to worship Him next Lord's Day according to the following plan:

The Lord’s Day, February 7, 2016
Morning Service (9:30a.m.)
(before worship) prayer for God’s help
Psalm 37:32-40, Prayer
Song: (handout) Though the Wicked Hound the Righteous
Philippians 3:4-7, Prayer
Song: #461 Not What My Hands Have Done
The Lord’s Supper
Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Evening Service (6 p.m.)
(before worship) Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 12 (p870) and prayer for God’s help
Hebrews 5:1-2, Prayer
Song: #306 Jesus, My Great High Priest
Luke 8:19-25, Pastoral Prayer
Song: #162 Of the Father’s Love Begotten
Zechariah 3:1-5, Prayer
Song: #305 Arise, My Soul, Arise
Dismissal by God’s Blessing

Meditating upon Holy Scripture from 31-Jan-2016 Worship Services

One of the things that we heard yesterday from the gospel of Luke is the danger of hearing Scripture and then having the words snatched away as if the hearing never happened. According to 8:12, the devil is actively trying to do this. The Scriptures, however, teach us to do exactly the opposite. They teach us to mull over (meditate upon) God's Word day and night.

So, let us continue to think upon, absorb, work in, work out, apply, plan, and act upon what we have heard from the Scriptures!

The following are some follow-up devotionals to help you do that by way of asking (and you answering!) simple questions about the Scripture and yourself:

Follow-up devotionals for use in Private and Family Worship
Psalm 37:23-31
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• From whom are a man’s steps (23a)? What does the Lord think of His own plan (23b)? • What does this mean for believers when they stumble (24-25b)? Who else benefits from this (25c, 26b)? What does this confidence free believers to do (26a)? • What instruction for us is supported by the description of the good man (27)? What does observation of providence prove to be true about God’s character (28a)? What action of God is therefore certain for believers (28b-c, 29)? For the wicked (28d)? • What two things can you hear from a righteous man (30)? Where does he get these things (31a)? What else does he do with these things (31b)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What trouble are you in right now? What promise does this passage give you about that trouble? • How does this passage shift you from thinking about “how to get out” of your situation more toward “how to be godly” in your situation? What changes might you make in your approach as a result of this new focus? • How would an emphasis upon worshiping God’s faithfulness help you maintain this focus? What will you do to emphasize this worship?
Suggested songs: Psalm 37:23-31, #108 Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right
Suggested memory verse: The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. (Psalm 37:23)
Deuteronomy 24:5-22
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• What principle of behavior for individuals and for cultures does v5 teach concerning marriage? v6, 10-13, 17-18 concerning lending? v7 concerning man-stealing? v14-15 concerning wages? v16 concerning criminal justice? v17a concerning criminal and civil justice? v19-22 concerning charity? • What principle of behavior for individuals and churches does v8 teach regarding keeping themselves fit for worship? How does the ministry of Jesus’ superior priesthood improve upon the details of regaining cleanness before the Lord? • What reasoning is given for following these laws in vv9, 18, 22? What does this teach us about the connection between history and following God’s law? What do we want God to see and hear in connection with our lives (13)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• Whose future or current marriages can you bless? How? • From what kind of person have you borrowed money, and on what terms? To whom have you loaned money and on what terms? How can these situations be brought more into line with this passage? • In what ways is justice corrupted in our local courts? What can you do to contribute to the biblical solution rather than the problem? • What do you have in abundance? How can you give to the poor from your extra?
Suggested songs: Psalm 19, #151 Jehovah’s Perfect Law
Suggested memory verse: You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow’s garment as a pledge. (Deuteronomy 24:17)
Philippians 3:2-3
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• What three names does Paul give the circumcision party here (2)? What special point does each name make about them? • Who are the truly circumcised now (3a, cf. Rom 2:29, Col 2:11)? Where are they permitted to worship (3b, cf. Jn 4:19-24)? In what Lord do they rejoice (3c, cf. 3:1, Neh 8:10)? • By comparison, how much confidence do they have in their body or themselves (3d)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What actions of yours are you tempted to put your trust in? Can they give God’s access or strength?
Suggested songs: Psalm 119, #461 Not What My Hands Have Done
Suggested memory verse: For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Phil 3:3)
Hebrews 4:16
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• Is v16 describing individual action or corporate action? How do you know? Does it also apply to the other? • Where does corporate worship take place (16b)? Who is there? Which Persons? On what basis is Each gracious and merciful? • What kind of place is the throne for us? For what two things are we to come to it? Under what conditions are we to come to it? When do we find ourselves in those conditions?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What are your needs this week? What have they been in other weeks? • Where do you need to go? With whom? To whom? In what way? For what reason? • How does this verse change inform the priority of corporate worship in your life? How does it inform your attitude toward corporate worship?
Suggested Songs: Psalm 130, #507 Approach, My Soul, the Mercy Seat
Suggested memory verse: Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Luke 8:4-18
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• What was the group who needed the warning of this parable (4)? What is the purpose of this parable for the disciples (10a)? What is the purpose of it for others (10b)? • What is the seed (5a, 11)? Who is active in taking our attention off of the Word (5b, 12)? What is our faith like if something else is more foundational when we are desperate in a trial (6, 13)? • If we make much of the cares of this world, what will it do to our life from the Word (7, 14a)? What other things can we kill our faith by making much of (14b)? • If the Word is the seed, what kinds of thoughts and actions are the fruit (8, 15)? What is required in order to bear such fruit (end of 15)? • What (18a) are vv16-18 still talking about? What, then, is the lamp in v16? What can we be sure will happen with biblical truth at the last (17)? And what will happen to us, depending upon how we hear it (18b-c)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What opportunities do you have to see Scripture? What are some of the ways that the devil has tried to take it off of your mind/heart at these times? How are you going to fight against that? • When you have a trial, upon what do you tend to fall back, other than Scripture? What are you doing to make Scripture first? • What cares have you been making much of? What pleasures have you been making much of? • In what situations have you been doubtful or embarrassed of the Word?
Suggested songs: Psalm 1, #383 Almighty God, Your Word Is Cast

Suggested memory verse: Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him. (Luke 8:18) 

21-Jan-2016 Prayer Meeting Study, Nehemiah 9

What are you doing tomorrow evening? May we recommend corporate prayer, calling upon God's Name together, as stirred up by His Spirit in the study of His Word?

Should you find this a good recommendation, the following study prep may enable you and your family to enter into it with more eagerness and understanding:

Summary from last time (Nehemiah 8:13-18): In times of revival, God convicts the heads of households of His people that they need to study the Scriptures so that they can immediately lead their families in eager, active, and delighted obedience to laws which remind us again of the greatness of God’s love and faithfulness to us.
Discussion questions for Nehemiah 9
• In what mood had the people spent much of the seventh month (ch 8)? Now what are they gathered to do (9:1)? Where had they learned of the need to do this?
• Who were permitted to participate in this fasting (2a)? What aspect of their confession made this even more necessary (2b)? How did they know what to confess (3a)?
• Based upon a twelve hour day, how long did they spend reading the Book of the Law of the LORD (3a)? And how long did they spend confessing and bowing low before Him (3b)?
• Where did the leaders stand (4)? What two types of groups seem to have been leading here (4-5)?
• With what kind of truth do they begin their confession (6-15)? For what great actions, and what great gifts, did they particularly praise Him?
• How is the theme of this first great part of their prayer sprinkled even into the next section (16-31)? What is the primary theme about themselves in this section? What are some examples of this? What are the two great themes about God in this section? What are some examples of each?

• How does putting those three past themes together in v16-31 encourage them to make the request in v32? What data do they provide that makes them candidates for grace (33-37)? What parts are particularly surprising? What do they commit now to do, and who lead in affirming it (38)?

24-Jan-2016 Orders of Service

As you prepare for the coming Lord's Day's worship assemblies, you may find it helpful to preview the orders of service:

The Lord’s Day, January 24, 2016
Morning Service (9:30a.m.)
(before worship) prayer for God’s help
Psalm 37:12-22, Prayer
Song: (handout) Wicked Men against the Righteous Plot
Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Prayer
Song: #720 Happy the Home When God Is There
Philippians 3:1, Prayer
Song: #143 How Precious Is the Book Divine
Dismissal by God’s Blessing
Evening Service (6 p.m.)
(before worship) Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 9-10 (p870) and prayer for God’s help
Hebrews 4:15, Prayer
Song: #305 Arise, My Soul, Arise
Luke 7:36-8:3, Pastoral Prayer
Song: #486 God, Be Merciful to Me
Zechariah 2:6-13, Prayer
Song: #66 God Is Known among His People
The Lord’s Supper

Dismissal by God’s Blessing

17-Jan-2016 Follow-up Devotionals

Due to illness and the extreme cold, many of us were unable to gather this past Lord's Day. So, for us to worship well in the Word this coming Lord's Day, perhaps it will be even more helpful than usual to work through the previous passages' devotionals, that we may give ourselves well to the next passages.

Follow-up devotionals for use in Private and Family Worship
Psalm 37:1-11
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• How are we tempted to respond to the wicked (v1, 7b-8)? And why shouldn’t we (2, 9a, 10)? What heart conditions should substitute for this fretting and envy (3a, 4a, 5a-b, 7a, 9b)? With what result (3b, 4b, 5c-6, 9c, 11)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• Over what evildoers are you currently tempted to fret? With what life habits will you establish trusting in the Lord and delighting in the Lord instead? What good are you doing in direct opposition to what the evildoers are doing?
Suggested songs: Psalm 37:1-11, #671 Forever Trusting in the Lord
Suggested memory verse: Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. (Psalm 37:3)
Deuteronomy 23:15-25
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• If a foreigner wanted his runaway slave back from Israel, why would he have had to come get the slave himself (15)? Until such time, where could the slave stay (16)? In order to do so, what would he have to agree to (cf. Num 15:29-30)? • What were common things to spend money upon in worship at that time (18)? Why must money never be brought to God for such things (17)? • What was the only reason for lending to a brother (19)? For what other reason might one have loaned to a foreigner (20)? • What was the safest one might do concerning vows (22)? But what was permitted, and what was required in such a case (21, 23)? • What did God imply He would sufficiently bless His people for, and what were they to do with that abundance (24-25)? How did God make clear that this was not an invitation to profit from one’s neighbor’s loss?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• How should the church today apply the principle of allowing fugitives a place within the congregation? •  What are some things that people might expect in return for giving offerings that they should not? • What opportunities do you have to be generous to a believer in need? • What have you vowed to the Lord? When are you tempted to make rash vows? • What abundance do you have, and how have you gone about making the overflow of that abundance readily available to other believers?
Suggested songs: Psalm 19, #139 Your Word Is Like a Garden, Lord
Suggested memory verse: That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth. (Deuteronomy 23:23)
Philippians 2:25-30
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• What five things does Paul call Epaphroditus in v25? What does this tell you about Epaphroditus (cf. v30)? What does this tell you about Paul (cf. v27)? • What had happened to Epaphroditus (26-27)? What was his concern in this (26)?  For what two reasons does Paul him (28)? • What are the Philippians to do with him (29a)? With whom else are they to do this (29b)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• Who has been a good example to you of living as someone who belongs to Christ? Who has been a good example to you of living as someone who belongs to the church? • What is your plan for spending time with such people? How do you prepare yourself to rejoice over them? How do you plan to feel and express honor for them? • How can you do this with brothers from church history too?
Suggested songs: Psalm 133, #359 Blest Be the Tie That Binds
Suggested memory verse: Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem. (Phil 2:29)
Hebrews 4:14
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• In addition to the role that Jesus has as our Prophet, what other role does Jesus have in our worship? In what great place does He do this? What great Person does this? Why would we not give up those things that we say together?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What are some reasons that you are tempted to give for absence from public worship? What are some reasons that you are tempted to give for adding to it something that is not from Scripture? How can you stack up in your mind the truths of this passage to keep you holding fast to what the church has thought and said about worship since the book of Hebrews?
Suggested Songs: Psalm 110, #306 Jesus, My Great High Priest
Suggested memory verse: Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14)
Luke 7:17-35
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• Why couldn’t John come himself (18-19)? What question doe he ask (19b)? What answer does Jesus give in action (21)? What answer does Jesus give in Word (22, cf. Isa 61:1-2)? • For what reason was John tempted not to believe in Jesus (23, cf. Lk 3:18-20)? For what reason were the church leaders and theologians unwilling to accept John’s office and John’s message about Jesus (29-30)? For what reasons are many of that generation unwilling to acknowledge Jesus as the right Messiah (31-34)? • What is need for acknowledging Jesus (35a)? Who will acknowledge Jesus as Messiah (35)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What disappointments have you had in the progress of Christ’s kingdom? What disappointments have you had in your own life? What dangerous response might you have to such disappointments? • Who are God’s messengers to you about Jesus as the Christ? How have you responded to their calls for repentance? How have you responded to their calls for faith? In what way might having a bad attitude about them endanger you in your response to the Christ whom they preach? • How are the things that you grieve over and the things that Scripture grieves over different? How are the things that you celebrate and the things that Scripture celebrates different? When you answer these questions, whose child are you, if you are acknowledging that Scripture is right and you are wrong?
Suggested songs: Psalm 2, #166 Wondrous King, All Glorious
Suggested memory verse: But wisdom is justified by all her children. (Luke 7:35)
Zechariah 2:1-5
Questions for understanding this Scripture passage
• Which of the comforting words in 1:14-17 were reinforced by the vision in 1:18-21? Which are in 2:1-5? • What does the man in v1 have? For what would he be measuring? What does Zechariah ask him in v2a? What does the man answer in v2b? • What impression do v3-4a give you about the significance of the message? How does the message in v4b relate to the task in v2? Why won’t the wall be built? • What problem does a wealthy city have, if it cannot have walls? What is the solution for this problem in v5a? Where has this solution worked before (cf. Ex 14:19-20)? • What are some of the glories of various great cities? What city has the preeminent glory over them all, and what is that glory (5b)?
Questions for living out this Scripture passage
• What successes for you and for the church are you looking for from the Lord? How does this passage remind you that He intends even more? • To what dangers does the church seem exposed? What is the reality of the strength of its position? • What might we be tempted to present as our church’s glory? How would we act if we were confident in the preeminent glory of the Lord Himself?
Suggested songs: Psalm 87; #345 Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
Suggested memory verse: ‘For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’ (Zechariah 2:5)