Saturday, December 8, 2018

2018.12.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:1-8

Questions for Littles: Who was more cunning than any beast of the field (v1)? To whom did the serpent speak? Whose words did the serpent question? How did the serpent change God’s words (v1, cf. 2:16)? Who answered the serpent (v2)? How does she change God’s words (v3b, cf. 2:17a)? How does the serpent change God’s words in v4 (cf 2:17b)? What did the serpent say that God knew in v5? What three things did the woman see about the fruit in v6? What did she do about that for herself? Who was with her? What did she proceed to do with the fruit? What did he do with it? What happened to them in v7? What did they do about it?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we meet for the first time the enemy that is still around in Revelation 12—that old serpent, the dragon. Just as we see him doing later, in Revelation, so also we see him doing here: taking advantage of the weak and attacking where he can.

One of the great tragedies of this passage is when we get to v6 and discover that her husband is with her. Well, then, can we understand the apostle’s complaint in 1Timothy 2, when he says that the man was not deceived, but that the woman, having been deceived, fell into transgression.

It is not the woman’s behavior that we find so inexplicable, as the devil appears as an angel of light. Rather, we are horrified at the man who stands there, listening to the serpent purposefully misquote God, and to his wife make smaller errors with God’s Word… and the man does nothing about it!

In fact, once his wife is convinced that this is what the Lord really would have her do, and she eats of the forbidden fruit, he himself eats—not because he has been tricked into thinking it is good, but because he somehow believes that he can get away with it!

Though their physical eyes do not close in death, their spiritual death is expressed by open eyes. They know themselves to be sinners and immediately have suspicions about one another from which each one wishes to hide. But even their effort at a remedy is a spectacular failure, as can be attested by those who have sewn leaves or are familiar with how long they last in that condition.

What a critical place marriage has had, from the very beginning, in the battle against sin and Satan! How very much evidence there is in our closest relationships—our marriages—of our crucial need of Jesus Christ! How useless are all of our own attempts to remedy the effects of sin without Him!
How is Jesus the remedy for sin? How can Christians live together by His power?


Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, December 7, 2018

2018.12.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:41-51

Questions for Littles: About whom were the Jews complaining in v41? Why did they complain about Him? Whom did they say Jesus is (v42)? From where did they think that Jesus could not have come? What does Jesus tell them not to do in v43? What does Jesus tell them they can’t do in v44? What is the only way that someone can come to Him? What will Jesus do for that person? When? Who else said that God Himself would enable people to come to Him (v45)? Who has seen the Father (v46)? Who has everlasting life (v47)? What does Jesus call Himself in v48? What happened to those who ate manna (v49)? What will happen with those who “eat” Jesus (v50)? What bread did the Father give (v51a)? What bread does Jesus give (v51b)? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we learned how dangerous complaining and murmuring are. It may not appear, at first, what a big deal these words are in v41 and v43. The key is in v47, “he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”

Complaining and murmuring are the opposite of faith. When we complain, we refuse to accept Jesus’s words and trust instead in what we think we know. They thought they knew where Jesus came from. When we worry, we think we know that God is dropping the ball in our lives. How terrible!

But that’s our sinful nature. Terrible. Wicked. Unbelieving. Refusing to come to the Lord Jesus unless the Father drags us to Him, hand over hand (v44). Thankfully, God does draw people to Christ. He does teach and train our hearts to receive Him by faith, to feed upon Him by faith.

We needed Jesus to come be the perfect flesh-and-blood man, so that by believing in Him, we could become part of His new humanity and live forever (v51).

But the Jews don’t want to be freed from sin. They just want full stomachs. The Father’s precious gift—His own Son as living bread!!—is standing right in front of them. And all they can do is complain about how they want a nice loaf of mostly carbohydrates.

Don’t we get caught up in desiring those earthly things too? Let us ask our Heavenly Father to train our hearts so that we might look to Jesus Himself with faith and receive Him as the source of our true and eternal life!
Where does Jesus invite us to feed (by faith not food) upon Him for our life? 
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH202 “Here, O My Lord, I See Thee”

Thursday, December 6, 2018

2018.12.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Questions for Littles: What were some of the Corinthians saying (v12)? But who is preached, that He has been raised from the dead? If there was no resurrection from the dead, then Who would not be risen (v13, repeated in v16!)? What two things does v14 say become empty if Christ is not risen (v14)? And against whom have the apostles borne false witness, if the dead do not rise (v15)? Again, if Christ is not risen, what v16 say about our faith? What are we still in, if Christ is not risen (v17)? If Christ is not risen then what happens to all who fall asleep in Him (v18)? What is true about us, if in this life only we have hope in Christ (v19)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn yet another shocking error to which some of the Corinthian church was holding. Some of them did not even believe that we would be resurrected from the dead!

Apparently, they thought that they could believe that Jesus was a special case—that He could be raised from the dead, even though no one else can. In our short text, the apostle directly corrects this not once but twice. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen” (v13). And “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen” (v16).

In effect, he’s saying something very similar to what we learned from Hebrews: that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was made truly and fully Man.

So, v17 is true in two extremely important ways. (1) If Jesus is not made just like other men, subject to all of the same rules and conditions—except that He is not a sinner—then, He is not qualified to be our Substitute. (2) If Jesus did not in fact rise from the dead, then He has continued under the curse of death, and there has been no visible display and declaration from God that His sacrifice has been accepted for the forgiveness of our sins (cf. vv3-4).

One of the problems that we have in our culture is that we seem to be content without the resurrection. “Rest in Peace” we often say or hear—even about those who have nothing like a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ!

But even about those who believe in Christ, vv14, 18, 19 say that this would be a terrible mistake! If Christ was not raised, then we have not been made right with God. If we will not be raised, then we have not been made right with God.

Are there advantages for this life in being renewed and learning to love and obey God and one another? Sure there are. But if there is no resurrection, then there has been no forgiveness, and Christians who die would not be “absent from the body and present with Christ” in glory. Rather, if there is no resurrection, then there has been no forgiveness, and Christians who die would be suffering Hell.

As it is, others are most pitiable, because they seek after the “good life” that Asaph coveted in the first 2/3 of Psalm 73, but they will be suddenly and eternally destroyed. If the resurrection were not true, then we indeed would be most pitiable: living a life that builds for and anticipates everlasting joy, only to find that at last Hell opens its mouth to swallow us in eternal suffering.
Thinking about your own heart: how often do you think about Christ’s resurrection? How much does it mean to you? Why or why not? What would help you think more often about Him being resurrected and alive and returning soon? What has He given in the life of the church to stir us up to think about these things more frequently? How often do you think about your own bodily resurrection? How important is it to you? How can you see it making a difference in your choices?
Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

2018.12.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 10:1-15

Questions for Littles: Who heard what Joshua had done to Ai and Jericho and their kings (v1a)? What else had he heard about (v1b)? How did he and others respond (v2a)? Why? To whom did he go (v3)? What did he ask them to do (v4-5)? Whom did the Gibeonites ask for help (v6)? What does Joshua do (v7)? What does Yahweh tell Joshua not to do (v8)? Why not? How did Joshua arrive (v9)? What did Yahweh do in v10? Who killed more than whom and how in v11? What did Joshua tell the sun to do (v12)? Until when (v13)? Where else was this event recorded? What does v14 say make this day so special?  
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we see the mercy and faithfulness of the Lord. Throughout the entire mess-up with the Gibeonites in chapter 9, the Lord had been silent.

The Israelites hadn’t consulted Him, but they had sworn in His name, and ended up in a situation where they were sparing what we now find out is an entire group of great and mighty cities!

What will the Lord do? We’ve seen how He punished Israel for the sin of Achan! The question becomes very important when a military coalition comes and attacks Israel’s brand new allies.

Amazingly, Joshua again makes his decision without consulting the Lord. And this is where we see the Lord’s mercy. Rather than being harsh and exact with Joshua about all of his recent mistakes, Yahweh instead pledges Himself to destroy the Amorites.

The Lord’s mercy reigns here, in part, because He is keeping His promise to give the land to His people, and His prophecy about destroying the Amorites for their sin (cf. Gen 15:12-21) in order to give the land to Abraham’s descendants.

We tend to remember God killing more with hailstones or the sun standing still. But the remarkable thing, according to Scripture, is that God listened to a voice of a man!!

Now, of course, God continually listens to the voice of a man: the true and great Joshua (Yeshua). Jesus intercedes for us, and God is merciful and faithful, despite our great sin!
What situations have you messed up, in which God is still doing you good?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH431 “And Can It Be that I Should Gain”

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

2018.12.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 98

Read Psalm 98
Questions for Littles: To whom are we to sing (v1)? What kind of song? Why—what has happened to occasion this new song? What has Yahweh made known (v2a)? What has He revealed (v2b)? In whose sight? What has He remembered (v3a)? Who has seen this (3b)? Who, then, is to shout joyfully to Him (v4)? Into what are they to break forth (4b)? What priestly instruments are named in vv5-6? What parts of creation join this praise in vv7-8? At what point (v9) has all of creation become the church? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of Sin came from Psalm 98. There is little that will give us a bigger view of God, a more honest view of ourselves, and therefore a more damning view of our sin than beholding God as Creator, Redeemer, King, and Judge.

Here is a psalm that claims to be a “New Song” on the occasion of the Lord’s having won the victory, kept His covenant, spread His church, and returned to judge.

What has gained Him the victory? Not the works of men sustained by Him, but only His own work. His right hand. His holy arm. Because there was none to save, the Lord Himself has come to do the saving—by Himself alone. Hallelujah! (cf. Isa 41:28-42:4; 59:16-21)

He revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. How? By putting on display the Pharisees, who deluded themselves into thinking that they were doing a great job of obeying the commandments? No! But by putting on display His Son as the payment for sin, showing that God’s righteousness is so complete and so exact that nothing less could ever satisfy it (cf. Rom 3:21-26).

What’s wonderful is that Jesus isn’t just displayed to the nations (at the cross, at Pentecost, and in the spread of the gospel), but He is the Savior of the nations. All who believe into Him are engrafted into Israel. God’s covenant love and covenant faithfulness to Israel (v3) turn the entire earth into His redeemed worshipers (v4).

The nations—and indeed the entire creation (cf. v7-8)—become members of the sacred assembly.
Not only do they sing and shout, but the priestly instruments which were ordained by King David are commanded here to accompany the singing (v5-6). In great David’s greater Son, the priesthood may be abolished, but there is still a melody (grace, Col 3:16) played upon an instrument (our hearts, Eph 5:19).

This is a song for when all nations shout before their King (v6) upon His coming in glory to be Judge of all (v9)! It’s a salvation song. It’s a Christian song. It’s that New Song that we will sing forever and ever in glory. May God fill our hearts with its praise already now, while we continue to wait for its final fulfillment!
How does it increase your praise to God to remember that you didn’t contribute anything to your salvation? 
Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH98A “O Sing a New Song to the Lord”