Tuesday, November 13, 2018

2018.11.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 121

Read Psalm 121
Questions for Littles: What type of song does the psalmist label this Psalm? To where does he lift his eyes (v1a)? What question does he ask (1b)? What is the answer (2a)? What has the Lord done (2b)? What will the Lord not allow, according to the first part of v3? What is the Lord doing (3b)? What will He not do? Whom else is the Lord keeping (4a)? What two things will He not do (4b)? What name does He repeat for Himself twice in v5? What is He in 5a? What is He in 5b? Where? What cannot strike you during the day (6a)? What cannot strike you at night (6b)? From what will Yahweh keep you (7a)? What will Yahweh keep in the second part of v7? What two things does Yahweh keep in the first part of v8? When? For how long?
This week’s Call to Worship and Prayer for Help came from Psalm 121. Prayers for help have often been used as calls to worship—in the great Reformed church in Geneva, Calvin always used Psalm 124:8 as a call to worship, “Our help is in the name of Yahweh, who made the heavens and the earth.”

This is exactly what the Psalmist tells himself here in v2. He has looked up to the hills, and there are a couple possibilities here of the significance of that. Either there is danger in the hills, and he needs to know where the help is going to come from if the danger appears. Or he is already needing the help where he is, and he is looking up to the hills wondering if help might possibly come from there.

But that’s just the point of the Psalm isn’t it? If he needs help already, then help is already with him. Yahweh is there. If he is wondering if help may be available in a pinch when it is suddenly needed, then, yes, he can be sure that the help will be available; because Yahweh will be there.

And will the help be enough? Of course it will be enough! Just as there is no uncertainty about the presence of the help, so also there is no uncertainty about the power of the help. Yahweh has made heaven and earth!
Dear believer, are you in need of help? Are you looking at the near future and anticipating needing it? Are you wondering if it will be enough? It will!
For what particular situation do you need help? How will you remind yourself of the truth of this Psalm now? How will you remember it then?
Suggested songs: ARP121 “I Lift My Eyes and See the Hills” or TPH121A “I Lift My Eyes Up to the Hills”

Monday, November 12, 2018

2018.11.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:28-2:3

Questions for Littles: What did God do to the man and the woman at the beginning of v28? What is the first thing that He told them to do? What two things were they to do to the earth? What were they to do to the living things of sea, air, and land? What did God command them to see (v29)? For what did God give them every plant? To whom else did God give every plant for food (v30)? What did God see in v31? Then what came? And then what came? What did this evening and morning conclude? The creation of what things were finished (v1)? On what day did God stop working (v2)? How many times does He say this in v2? What two things did God do to the seventh day in v3? Why?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we saw God’s great plan for man and God’s great provision for man. But, the greatest part of each was the Sabbath day.

God’s plan for man is great. He blesses them to be fruitful. He blesses them to multiply. He blesses them to fill the earth. He blesses them to subdue it.

In these last two, in particular, they are to image God. God created a heavens and earth that was void and without form. He filled the empty void. He subdued the chaos of the formlessness. And now He has created man in His image to carry both the filling and the forming to the next level. He even created other kinds of living creatures for man to take dominion over, just as God has dominion over everything and everyone everywhere.

So, what does God call man to do on his very first day of following this great plan? Rest. The whole day. Why? Because God is resting. As we learn from God’s own interpretation of this passage in Hebrews 4, the rest here is something other than napping, or success, or even completion of work. It is an entering into the rest of God Himself. It’s the kind of rest that we anticipate having not at the weekend or at retirement, but rather in glory itself forever and ever.

God also makes great provision for man: every green herb for food—and much more, as we’re about to see in chapter 2. But the first and greatest provision is fellowship with Himself on the day that He declares blessed and holy. Man fell, but God maintained to us His greatest plan and provision!
Why is the Lord’s Day the most important day in your week? How does your practice of keeping it show that it fulfills that role in your life?
Suggested Songs: ARP92 “It’s Good to Thank the Lord” or TPH152 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Saturday, November 10, 2018

2018.11.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:28-2:3

Questions for Littles: What did God do to the man and the woman at the beginning of v28? What is the first thing that He told them to do? What two things were they to do to the earth? What were they to do to the living things of sea, air, and land? What did God command them to see (v29)? For what did God give them every plant? To whom else did God give every plant for food (v30)? What did God see in v31? Then what came? And then what came? What did this evening and morning conclude? The creation of what things were finished (v1)? On what day did God stop working (v2)? How many times does He say this in v2? What two things did God do to the seventh day in v3? Why?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we have a rather odd sequence of events.

First, God gives the man and the woman several rather demanding tasks.

They are to be fruitful and multiply. As we were thinking about on Monday, this meant more than just having babies. It meant teaching those babies to love and obey God.

Second, they are to fill the earth and subdue it. That sounds like a monumental task. In fact, it sounds a whole lot like what God has been doing to the creation since it was tohu and bohu (chaotic and empty) all the way back on day one. So, that’s a God-like task!

Third, they are to take dominion over… well, over every living thing, everywhere. Again—sounds like a task just about worthy of God Himself.

So, here we are at the end of day six, and God has just given Adam and Eve this gigantic workload. And what is the first step to doing all of that work?

Rest. How long? An entire day. Uh… now, I know that Adam had kind of a long day with the establishment of the covenant of works, and the whole animal-naming thing, and then the first major surgery, followed by his wedding. Long day. Sure. But, he’s unfallen. Never mind that Eve only just came in at the very end there. Why in the (newly created) world do they need a rest?
Because it’s not physical rest. God blessed the seventh day. He made it some glad and beneficial. God made holy the seventh day. He set it apart to Himself. Before He launched Adam and Eve into a life of delight in and devotion to all that God had made them for, God made it clear that He had first of all made them for Himself.

Of everything that God made, perhaps the most important thing that He made was this holy day. The Sabbath is a weekly and perpetual reminder that God has made us in order that we might be delighted in and devoted to Him. All day. Every day. This is the lesson of the Sabbath Day!
How are you treating the Lord’s Day as wholly holy unto the Lord? As a blessing?
Suggested Songs: ARP92 “It’s Good to Thank the Lord” or TPH152 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”

Friday, November 9, 2018

2018.11.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 5:31-47

Questions for Littles: Whom does Jesus not claim as a witness for Himself in v31? What does He claim to have from another instead in v32? Whom does He name as a witness of Himself in v33? Why is this witness not that important to Him personally (v34)? If not, then why did He mention that witness? What does Jesus call John the Baptizer in v35? What kind of witness does Jesus claim to have in v36? Who gave Him works to do? What did those works testify that the Father had done? Whom else does Jesus say, in v37, has testified of Jesus? Who had never heard His voice? What had they not seen? What did they not have abiding in them (v38)? Why not? What did they search (v39)? What did they think they would have in the Scriptures? But of Whom do the Scriptures testify? To whom were they unwilling to come to have life (v40)? From whom does Jesus not receive His honor (v41)? But what did His hearers not have for God (v42)? In whose name did Jesus come (v43)? What name were they more willing to receive? From whom were they willing to receive honor (v44)? Who will accuse them to the Father (v45)? About Whom did Moses write (v46)? What did Jesus expect them to reject, since they do not listen to Moses (47)
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus addresses a rather common claim of those who do not believe in Him: they say that there’s just not enough evidence.

Of course, as Jesus points out, there’s plenty of good testimony to Jesus as the only hope of eternal life. John the Baptizer witnessed to Him as the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus’s works were signs that He performed in which others might behold His glory. The Father Himself spoke from heaven at Jesus’s baptism. And the Scriptures in general—and Moses in particular—spoke of Jesus as the One in whom they might have eternal life.

So, why is it that people refuse Christ, when there is this fourfold witness? Why is it that others refuse to believe in God at all, despite all of the evidence about Himself that He has built into the creation?

The problem is not in the evidence. The problem is not in the argument. The problem is in the heart of the unbeliever. YOU ARE NOT WILLING (v40). YOU DO NOT HAVE THE LOVE OF GOD IN YOU (v42).

What we need, in order to come to Christ, is not more evidence, but to realize that it is our rebellious wills and wicked hearts that are the problem. Once we relent, we are ready to listen to the Scriptures, which we know from this passage that they will be speaking to us of Him!
Have you admitted your own rebellious will and wicked heart? Whom do you know that is rejecting Christ? What do they need? What can you do for them?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH271 “Blessed Jesus, at Your Word”

Thursday, November 8, 2018

2018.11.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 13

Questions for Littles: What kind of authenticating sign would Paul be, if he had tongues signs even more than actually existed, but was missing the love sign (v1)? If he has prophecy, and understands it all completely and believes it, but does not love, what is he (v2)? If he performs great acts of self-sacrifice, what might he still not have? And what will it profit him (v3)? What does love do (4a)? What does love be (4b)? What two things does love not do (4c-d)? What is love not (4e)? How does love not behave (v5)? What does it not seek? How does it not respond to offenses? What does it not think/calculate? What does love not rejoice in (v6)? What does love rejoice in? What does love bear (v7)? What does love believe? What does love hope? What does love endure? Which of the authenticating signs will never end (v8)? What were currently partial at the time that Paul wrote (v9)? Did God’s revelation remain incomplete? When the completion arrived what happened to partial words of prophecy and knowledge (v10)? How does v11 describe the age of partial revelation? How does v12 describe the age of partial revelation? What three things outlast the age of partial revelation (v13)? Which is the greatest of the three? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we continued hearing about the spiritual aspect of our lives. Last week, in chapter 12, we learned that the whole point of having God’s Word spoken and authenticated to us was the fact that this Word is what the Holy Spirit uses to work faith in each of us, and to make every one of us a necessary and effective instrument of God in the lives of the other members of the congregation.

This is why prophecy in a known tongue is going to get such a hearty recommendation in chapter 14. It’s what God uses to build us up. But here, in chapter 13, the focus is upon what that building up looks like.

There were spiritual gifts that were authenticating signs for the delivery of God’s Word during the age of partial revelation. But even at that time, those signs did not compare with love. Love was not only a sign that the effective Word was being spoken; it was a sign that the authentic Word had taken its effect.

Now, there is much that we could say about love here, but that section from the middle of v5 to the end of v7 doesn’t get nearly enough consideration. Love is most easily identifiable when it is being mistreated. How does love react then?

It is not provoked—love refuses to take offense. It doesn’t calculate wrongs—there’s no keeping of score here. It has eyes not so much for what ill has been done because it is busy delighting in what has been true.

It bears all things—love doesn’t say, “I’ve had it” or “I’m done.” It believes all things—if there’s a possible explanation with a good intention, that’s the one that love chooses to believe. It hopes all things—love doesn’t say, “this will never get better” but rather “it’s worth giving him another chance.” It endures all things—love says, “It’s worth it for me to carry the pain in order to continue in this relationship.”

“NO ONE loves like that, when they are mistreated!!” Exactly. Well, not exactly. Real Christians do. That’s why it works as a sign. Here is the authentication of the fact that the Holy Spirit has done real work in someone by His real Word: that person has come to love like 1 Corinthians 13 describes!
When have you felt mistreated lately? How is this an opportunity to show true Christian love?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”