From the Pastor

God's Hidden Wings

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Richard Dawkins, one of the famed "New Atheists", paints a picture of what the world looks like without God's providence from River out of Eden:

"Such a universe would be neither good or bad in intention. It would manifest no intentions of any kind. In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties that we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, but blind, pitiless indifference."

By way of contrast, the gospel of Jesus Christ is an announcement of God's sovereignty over our lives.  Every little detail is due to his care and attention, including the good and the bad.  Herman Bavinck, the Dutch theologian, reminds us of the reality of God's providence is meant to be a deep comfort: 

"It is above all by faith in Christ that believers are enabled—in spite of all the riddles that perplex them—to cling to the conviction that the God who rules the world is the same loving and compassionate Father who in Christ forgave them all their sins, accepted them as His children, and will bequeath to them eternal blessedness.

In that case faith in God’s providence is no illusion, but secure and certain; it rests on the revelation of God in Christ and carries within it the conviction that nature is subordinate and serviceable to grace, and the world is likewise subject to the kingdom of God.

Thus, through all its tears and suffering, it looks forward with joy to the future. Although the riddles are not resolved, faith in God’s fatherly hand always again arises from the depths and even enables us to boast in afflictions.”

In all circumstances of life, [God's providence] gives us good confidence in our faithful God and Father that he will provide whatever we need for body and soul and that he will turn to our good whatever adversity he sends us in this sad world, since he is able to do this as almighty God and desires to do this as a faithful Father." 

~Found in Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2, p. 595, 619

I'll leave you with the picture of providence from the gospel:  Jesus clung fast in love to His Father was delivered through resurrection.  This is our hope, according to Psalm 91:14-16

      “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
      I will protect him, because he knows my name.
            When he calls to me, I will answer him;
      I will be with him in trouble;
      I will rescue him and honor him.
           With long life I will satisfy him
      and show him my salvation.”

May you find rest in the shadow of God's wings!

You can find this week's study notes here: http://www.hopechurch.us/resources/sermons/gods-hidden-wings/

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Nate Thompson with

Loving the Outsider

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Here is William Wilberforce, the great 18th century Christian opponent of slavery on our obligation to love our neighbor:

"It is the true duty of every man to promote the happiness of his fellow creatures (his neighbors) to the utmost of his power."

And as promised, here is this week's study guide for personal use and discussion in our small groups. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Daniel Block, Judges & Ruth, 1999.
Sinclair Ferguson, Faithful God: An Exposition of Ruth, 2005.
Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules, 2008.
Paul Miller, A Loving Life, 2014.


Head: Understanding the Bible

1) Read Ruth 2. Why is Ruth going out alone to glean in the fields? Where is Naomi? What risks are involved for a single woman going out alone in the ‘days of the judges’?

2) What do we know about Boaz before he does anything? What words are used to describe him?

3) We learn about gleaning and God’s law form the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Read Lev. 19:9 and Deuteronomy 24:19-22. What is the motivation to allow the poor and needy to glean?

4) List everything Boaz does for Ruth. Is it more or less than the law of God demands?

5) Boaz care for Ruth the Moabite culminates with an invitation to eat with the men. Who serves this meal? How does a meal signify bring an outsider into the community?

Heart: Using the Gospel on Our Affections

“One of the really wonderful things about the demonstration of Jesus’s love is the way he addresses individuals where they are, without some mere one-size-fits-all formula. A rich young ruler whose money is his god is told he must sell all he has and give the proceeds to the poor. But that is not what Jesus tells a Samaritan woman he meets at a well. He tells her to fetch her husband, and of course she cannot do it, for she has burned through five husbands and is currently living with another man who is not her husband: she must address the barrier of her broken relationships. The Gentile leader with a child whose life is threatened, the broken woman who washes Jesus’s feet, the apostle who publicly disowns Jesus—in every case the Master’s love is not only profound but pointed and shaped to address personal needs most accurately.” D.A. Carson, The God Who is There

6) What is it like to be on the outside looking in? What causes you to feel like you don’t belong or aren’t welcome? With friends? Family? Church? Job?

7) What makes us outsiders in relationship with God, our Creator and Provider, outside of Christ? What does that feel like?

8) How does God communicate His gracious and generous welcome for outsiders like us in the gospel? Is there a meal involved? How is His love and care specifically tailored for us individually?

Hands: Applying the Gospel to Our Lives

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
~James 1:27

9) God through Jesus’ kindness and care for us, the outsider, has brought us into God’s family! What would it look like to apply our identity as God’s own dear child, living under His protection, when we enter into situations where we feel like we are outsiders?

10) How can we aim our lives to welcome and care for outsiders? At home? At church? What “Moabites” are around you? Is there a need to repent for a hard heart and closed hand towards outsiders?

 

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