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Psalm 78:1-4; 12-16 1
1 O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old—3 what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. …. 12 He did miracles in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan. 13 He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand firm like a wall. 14 He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night. 15 He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas; 16 he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers.

clip_image006Background 2

We do not know who wrote the psalm. Maybe it was Isaiah after the fall of Ephraim, 720 years before Jesus was born. Ephraim was the name of the largest group of families in Israel. The whole psalm is a story, the story (history) of God’s people until the time of King David. It tells us that God was good to his people, but they were not good to him. They did not obey him. That is the problem in verse 2. We could translate it as “question” or “secret” or “puzzle”. It is something that we want an answer to. It is still true today. We still ask, “Why do people not obey God, when he is so good to them?” After the first 8 verses, above, verses 9 – 72 are in 6 parts. Each part tells a bit of the story.

Biblical Truths

Verses 12 – 13 He led them from Egypt to a country that would be theirs. To do this he made a road through the sea. The water was like a wall on both sides of them. This was a miracle because only God can make a road through a sea. God did this, but his people still did not obey his laws or keep the covenant.

Verse 14 He showed them the way through the desert. He did this with a special cloud in the day and the light of a fire in the sky at night. Again, they did not keep the covenant!

Verses 15 – 16 It was dry in the desert, and they had nothing to drink. They thought that they would die, but God gave them water. But even then “they continued to sin against him and fought against the Most High”, verse 17. We “sin” when we do not obey God.

Items for Discussion

  • How could we live in a nation where 80 percent or more of the people say they believe in God but yet crime is everywhere, fraud permeates our financial institutions and government, the right to have an abortion defines society and corrupt politicians continue to be re-elected?
  • We teach our children the stories of Moses but as adults, do we still believe in the stories of Moses?
  • Can we believe in God if we do not believe in those stories?
  • What is the link between our belief in miracles and our belief in God?
  • What are the characteristics of God that we learn from this Psalm?

 

Hebrews 6:10-12
10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Background 3

Most scholars today believe the document was written to prevent apostasy. (Apostasy is the abandonment of a political or religious belief.) Some have interpreted apostasy to mean a number of different things, such as a group of Christians in one sect leaving for another more conservative sect, one in which the author disapproves. Some have seen apostasy as a move from the Christian assembly to pagan ritual. In light of a possibly Jewish-Christian audience, the apostasy in this sense may be in regard to Jewish-Christians leaving the Christian assembly to return to the synagogue. In light of Pauline doctrine, the epistle dissuades non-Jewish Christians from feeling a need to convert to Judaism. Therefore the author writes, “Let us hold fast to our confession” (4:14).

The Bible’s Epistle to the Hebrews affirms special creation. It affirms that God by His Son, Jesus Christ, made the worlds. “God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…by whom also he made the worlds” (1:1-2). The epistle also states that the worlds themselves do not provide the evidence of how God formed them. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” ((Hebrews 11:3).

Biblical Truths 4http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/WesleysExplanatoryNotes/wes.cgi?book=heb&chapter=006[/ref]

This is direct text from John Wesley’s notes/commentary on Hebrews. John Wesley was an Anglican clergyman, evangelist, and co founder of Methodism. The 15th child of a former nonconformist minister, he graduated from Oxford University and became a priest in the Church of England in 1728. From 1729 he participated in a religious study group in Oxford organized by his brother Charles (1707-1788), its members being dubbed the “Methodists” for their emphasis on methodical study and devotion.

John Wesley became a Christian at the age of 35. Before his conversion, he had done missionary work among the American Indians as an Anglican minister. He was forced to leave the Anglican Church (the Church of England) and spent the rest of his life preaching in the fields and on the streets and wherever he was able to. He was up each morning before 5:00 for prayer and Bible study, and often rode on horseback 15 to 20 miles a day, preaching four or five times daily. During his lifetime, Wesley traveled 250,000 miles, preaching a total of 42,000 sermons. He died at the age of 88 and preached up to the very month in which he died. His commentary is a window into the soul of someone fully dedicated to God and totally reliant on the Holy Spirit.

Verse 6:10 – For – Ye give plain proof of your faith and love, which the righteous God will surely reward.

Verse 6:11 – But we desire you may show the same diligence unto the end – And therefore we thus speak. To the full assurance of hope – Which you cannot expect, if you abate your diligence. The full assurance of faith relates to present pardon; the full assurance of hope, to future glory. The former is the highest degree of divine evidence that God is reconciled to me in the Son of his love; the latter is the same degree of divine evidence (wrought in the soul by the same immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost) of persevering grace, and of eternal glory. So much, and no more, as faith every moment “beholds with open face,” so much does hope see to all eternity But this assurance of faith and hope is not an opinion, not a bare construction of scripture, but is given immediately by the power of the Holy Ghost; and what none can have for another, but for himself only.

Verse 6:12 – Inherited the promises – The promised rest; paradise.

Items for Discussion

  • If God is not unjust, why are we always surprised when our judgment does not prevail?
  • What is “hope that is sure?”
  • What would such hope do for a person?
  • What are the characteristics of a person who is using their Spiritual Gifts? Some points to think about are:
    • Can everyone see a person’s gifts?
    • Can gifts mature and become more useful or visible over time?
    • How are Spiritual Gifts extended so they are more useful to God?

Discussion Challenge

  • What is the roll of the church in helping Spiritual Gifts mature?
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