Tuesday, October 23, 2018

2018.10.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read Psalm 73

Questions for Littles: How does the Psalm summarize its teaching in v1? But what does the Psalmist immediately admit about himself, concerning faith in God’s goodness, in v2? What are some things that he had noticed about the wicked in vv3-12? What did he conclude about himself and his godliness in v13? What circumstance from v14 had led him to decide that there was no point in being godly? But what would he have done if he had spoken like that out loud (v15)? When he tried to figure this out, what happened (v16)? What ended up making the difference (v17)? Whose end does he understand in v17-20? What does he conclude had been his problem in vv21-22? Who is always with him? Who will receive him into glory? Whose end is he learning about now? What does that teach him about what to value in v25? What does that teach him about whom to depend upon in v26? What will happen to those who are far from God (v27)? What is good in v28? What is the ultimate purpose of trusting in the Lord in v28? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Psalm 73:17-28.

Here, we learn the value of true worship—because it teaches us what a true life of thanksgiving looks like.

It looks like remembering what our end could have been (losing everything we have on earth, and falling into destruction as we are condemned by God).

It looks like remembering what our end is instead (enjoying the glorious holiness of God forever and ever).

It looks like realizing that we have, now already, Him who is the heavenliness of heaven. We are continually with Him! It is He who holds us by our right hand! It is He who guides us with His counsel! Who is He? The glorious One who will receive us into His own glory.

It looks like concluding that if we have Him, we have already, now, in heaven and earth, more property than we could ever hope to desire. God is our portion forever.

It looks like concluding that if we have Him, we have already, now, more power than we could ever fear to need. God is the strength of our heart.

Is God near to us? Then we have not kept our hands clean in vain. Are we far from God? Then we are on the cusp of eternal destruction.

Why have we trusted in God? Not so that we can get all the other earthly stuff that we love, but so that we can realize and tell all that God is more glorious and worthy than all else combined!
What trials do you have right now? What earthly things do you desire? How does God compare? How has your life been showing a desire to tell others His praise?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord”

Monday, October 22, 2018

2018.10.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read Genesis 1:14-19

Questions for Littles: Who commanded lights to exist in the firmament (v14)? What were the lights to divide? What else would these lights mark off? What did God command that they would give onto the earth (v15)? How many great lights did God make (v16)? Which would rule the day? Which would rule the night? What did He make “also”? Where did God set them (v17)? To do what? What did they rule over (v18)? And what did they divide? And what did God see? Then what happened (v19)? And then what? And what did this conclude?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we noticed that the Lord created this greater light, lesser light, and billions of stars and doesn’t bother to give a single one of them a name. Is it because He does not take a special ownership over them? Of course not. He gives them commands—even for busywork. He assigns them a job serving the rest of His creatures.

This, of course, was in direct opposition to the imaginations of unbelievers who saw the sun, moon, and stars as powerful gods to be worshiped and feared. The Lord is emphasizing that there is no other god. He is the almighty Lord, the sovereign One who works all things according to the counsel of His will.

In our culture today, people tend to find their security or take their pleasure in technology. We tend to live for entertainment. We fear government, or otherwise put our hope in it, as if it were some kind of god. Perhaps the most subtle god we trust in and serve is ourselves: “believe in yourself” is the ultimate doctrine preached by many.

Let us learn to look up into the sky. We know now the size and magnificence of these servants that the Lord has hung in the sky for us. Our God is infinitely superior to them. He alone is worth fearing. He alone is worthy of worship.

And, most of all, it is He who has given Himself for us and to us. Let the sun, moon, and stars take our attention to the cross of Jesus Christ, where the sun went dark. God announces His power and love for us in Christ with every sunrise, sunset, beautiful moon, and shining star!
What do you tend to fear instead of the Lord? Trust? Find pleasure in?
Suggested Songs: ARP136 “Thank the Lord for Good Is He” or TPH136 “O Thank the Lord, for He Is Good”

Saturday, October 20, 2018

2018.10.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read Genesis 1:14-19

Questions for Littles: Who commanded lights to exist in the firmament (v14)? What were the lights to divide? What else would these lights mark off? What did God command that they would give onto the earth (v15)? How many great lights did God make (v16)? Which would rule the day? Which would rule the night? What did He make “also”? Where did God set them (v17)? To do what? What did they rule over (v18)? And what did they divide? And what did God see? Then what happened (v19)? And then what? And what did this conclude?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we’ll be hearing about God’s creation of the sun, moon, and stars.

Of course, He doesn’t even mention the sun or moon by name, and the creation of untold trillions (or more) of stars is mentioned almost as an afterthought. These things were all worshiped as gods by the cultures that surrounded the Israelites. But here, they are just little lights embedded in the floor under God’s throne.

There’s not even a competition between man’s idol-impostors and the one, true God. Those creatures which man worshiped for their necessary usefulness are actually provisions from God.

In God’s providence we depend (humanly speaking) upon light. And we very much need to be able to mark time to remember things. And the cycle of the seasons is physically and mentally essential for us. The cycle of years does the same for us on a long-term basis.

So, from the Lord’s own account of day four, we learn that what others worship as gods, the Lord created to be our servants—generous provisions from a loving Creator. But there’s this language of ruling over the day and ruling over the night. Notice that these lights do NOT rule over man. Man does not yet exist, and when he does, God will command him to take dominion over all of the living creatures.

Rather, the lights that govern day and night demonstrate that God builds order into His creation and establishes governors to maintain that order. Within God’s created order, ruling is a matter of service.
What are some different kinds of rulers? How do they serve those they rule?
Suggested Songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH8B “Lord, Our Lord, in All the Earth”

Friday, October 19, 2018

2018.10.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read John 5:1-15

Questions for Littles: Where did Jesus go during the feast in v1? What gate was the pool beside (v2)? What was the pool called? How many porches did it have? What kind of people lay in these porches (v3)? What were they waiting for? What does v4 say they were waiting for an angel to do to the water? And then what would happen to the first person who entered? How long had the man in v5 had his infirmity? Who saw him lying there in v6? What did Jesus ask the man? What does the man answer in v7? What does the man apparently not believe that Jesus can do? What does Jesus command the man to do in v8? How long did it take for the man to be healed (v9)? What day of the week was it? What do the Jews tell the man that he shouldn’t be doing (v10)? But whom does the man say told him to take up his bed and walk (v11)? What did they want to know (v12)? Why didn’t the man know (v13)? Who found the man in v14? What did Jesus tell the man to stop doing? What did Jesus say would happen if he didn’t? What did the man depart and do in v15?
In the Gospel reading this week, we have an account of absolute mercy.

We are so foolish. Jesus reminds us in v14 what the real evil is (not weakness but wickedness) and what the real danger is (not that we might become ill, but that we might burn in Hell).

But here’s a great multitude, hoping for magic at a place called “House of Mercy” (Bethesda).
God Himself, now man, walks among them—come to suffer Hell on the cross for our sin. And when He asks a man if he wants to be healed, the man answers that he doesn’t have anyone to shove him into the pool fast enough.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t wait for the man to recognize who He is or ask Him to help. Jesus just heals him. Pure, simple, sovereign grace.

Sadly, the foolishness continues. Even after Jesus heals the man, the man quickly turns upon Him. Jesus warns him to repent of his sin, and rather than trusting in Jesus, the man turns around and commits the greatest possible sin: betraying Christ.

Dear believer, have you made a habit of displaying your foolishness? Even after Christ has revealed Himself to you? Even after He has healed you? Here is a glorious truth: Christ’s grace is relentless. It will keep pursuing you.
How did you last royally mess up with Christ? What is He still doing anyway?
Suggested songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH32B “How Blest Is He Whose Trespass”

Thursday, October 18, 2018

2018.10.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read 1Corinthians 11:1-16

Questions for Littles: What does Paul say, in reference to chs 7-10, and also now for 11 (v1)? For what does the apostle praise them in v2? Who is the head of every man (v3)? Who is the head of woman? Who is the head of Christ? Whom does a man dishonor if he prays or prophesies with his head covered (v4)? Whom does a woman dishonor if she prays or prophesies with her head uncovered (v5)? What would this be “one and the same” as? What is shameful (v6)? What should be done for her, if she finds herself in this shameful situation? But what must a man not do (v7)? Why? Whose glory should be displayed in worship, and whose glory should not? Who is from whom, according to v8? Who was created for whom, according to v9? What kind of symbol must be on a woman’s head (v10)? Because of whom? Who is not independent of whom (v11)? In whom is this true? From whom is woman (v12)? Through whom does a man now come? From whom are all things? What does the apostle ask in v13? What answer does he expect? What does the apostle ask in v14? What answer does he expect? What does nature itself teach us? What is a glory to a woman, according to v15? For what was her hair given to her? Who else is to observe this custom (v16)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we have a passage about glory and honor. Worship is all about the glory of God, and He has established a particular order for displaying that glory, which He spells out in v3.

He has also, generally, providentially provided women with a display of their particular place in that order: longer hair. But there is also an accommodation for a woman who is providentially unable to grow that hair. She is not robbed of her symbol of authority. She may wear a head covering.

Do the roles of men and women make women less valuable? Absolutely not! The Lord has made both of them essential and valuable in both nature (v12) and the church (v11).

The real question here is whether we are going to accept God’s order, and whether we are glad to display God’s glory. As always, if we come up with our own order, or attempt to display our own glory, we will dishonor our head, and bring shame to ourselves.

When we gather as a church, let us seek to do things God’s way, since we are there for God’s glory!
What are some worship differences between God’s way and man’s way? 
Suggested songs: ARP179 “The Church’s Doxology” or TPH564 “Now Blessed Be Jehovah God”