Introduction to 1 & 2 Peter
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[Presented in 2 nights in December 2013.]
These letters were written by the apostle Peter and seem to be addressed to several churches, not just one congregation.

1 Peter is written to Christians who were suffering trials and persecutions for their faith. A characteristic passage on this theme is 1 Peter 1:3-7. We can take comfort from these passages: if we trust in Jesus, God's grace is with us in every trial.

2 Peter comes later in time and is Peter's farewell letter. Peter writes here to churches where the biggest danger was from false teachers. See 2 Peter 2, where the churches are warned against false teaching in language like that found in the short Bible book Jude.

Learn from this that the church must always be alert against the danger of false teaching. And the protection against this great danger of false teaching is paying attention to the inspired word of God. We learn this for example from the characteristic passage we read, which was 2 Peter 1:19-21.

Introducing Psalm 107
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[Presented about 12/22.]
Psalm 107 is a longer Psalm we will do some devotions from in the near future. So first we will introduce this Psalm, somewhat like we introduce Bible books - rather than read it all out loud at once and make our session a little too long.

This Psalm starts out urging us to be thankful to the LORD. As reasons for thankfulness the Psalm gives several different cases where people in great distress cried out to God for help, and He answered them.

We read out loud the section 107:4-9. This tells about some who wandered lost in the desert; in danger of dying or starving. They cried out to God for help, and were delivered. There are other sections telling about other cases:

Starting at verse 10 we hear about some jailed prisoners, imprisoned because of their sin. These cried out to God and were delivered.

Starting at verse 17 we hear about some who were gravely ill, in danger of death. These cried out to God and were delivered.

Starting at verse 23 we hear about some who were on ships at sea, in danger of death in great storms. These cried out to God and were delivered.

We can take away from this introduction to Psalm 107 something practical. God does not change. We should cry out to God in our own great trials and afflictions. Call out to Him with true faith, and He will hear, just as He heard His people in those days.
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Godly Character of (Saint) Joseph
vanitysquared
[Presented about 12/23 - somewhat suitable to the season.]
Read Matthew 1:18-21. Joseph in the New Testament is highly honored. He was not just a minor character. See Luke 2:48, where he is given the title "father". Never forget that Joseph was given the awesome responsibility of being the foster-father of Jesus.

Note how it describes the character of Joseph. First, he was "just" - he always had a concern to do what is right. So should we.

Some people have this concern to do the right thing, but that is not always enough. So Matthew 1:19 also describes this man's merciful character toward his fiancee, Mary. So also we should always want to do what is right, but if there is a way to be merciful as well, we should remember mercy.

Also, it says (Matthew 1:20) he "considered". He did not decide too hastily, and when he heard the truth from the angel he decided differently. (Some people aren't as good as this - they are so stubborn that even if an angel brought them God's word, they would have trouble changing their mind!)

To summarize, the Bible describes Joseph as having true wisdom, rather than being foolish. We can only mature to be wise like this, if we share the faith of Joseph - Hebrews 11:2.

From Galatians - the Cross of Christ is Crucial
vanitysquared
[Short presentations from a couple nights recently.]
Consider the figure of a cross [and actually show the diagram as a visual aid. There will be a few words on the diagram as well, as described in the "End note" below]:

       |
       |
------+------
       |
       |
       |

It has a direction that you can think of as going "up". It has another direction to it that does not make any progress toward going "up" - it is just going "sideways", left or right. Now in the Bible, you can think of these different directions while studying some verses - like this:

"up" direction - this is for a person or people who think, "Christ crucified is enough for me". The direction "up" can remind us this is the way to God.

"sideways" direction - this is for a person or people who think, "Christ crucified is not enough for me". The direction "sideways" can remind us this is not the way to God - this thinking does not get you closer to God.

Read Galatians 6:14. Which direction (in the cross diagram) describes the thinking here? [Let someone else answer - and it's better that you don't have a grown-up answer.]

Read Galatians 3:1-5. Which direction (in the cross diagram) describes the thinking of these people?

Pray that our thinking would always be: "Christ crucified is enough for me".

[End note. I don't often do diagrams with family worship talks. But for this one, I did draw a simple diagram with a cross figure, having directions "up" and "sideways", with the right and wrong ways of thinking about Christ crucified written next to each direction. This diagram lets you present a simple interactive approach to key verses in Paul. Even if you don't go over every detail of such a passage, even children can get the point whether the verse shows the right way of thinking, or warns against the wrong way.]
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