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Monday, December 31, 2018

181231FW Gen 3:12-15 - Gospel of Serpent-Crushing Grace

An imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship lesson in Genesis 3:12-15

2018.12.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:12-15

Read Genesis 3:12-15
Questions for Littles: Whom did Adam blame for his eating (v12)? Whom did Adam blame for the woman? To whom did Yahweh God speak next (v13)? What did He ask her? What did she answer? Whom did she blame? To whom did Yahweh God speak next (v14)? What does He ask the serpent? How does He begin His address to the serpent? Onto what will the serpent go? What will the serpent eat? How long will this curse, humiliation, and defeat continue with the serpent? What will Yahweh God put between the serpent and the woman (v15)? Between whom else will Yahweh God put enmity? What kind of wound will the woman’s Seed give the serpent? What kind of wound will the serpent give the woman’s seed?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we saw Adam and his wife challenged by God and give poor excuses. The woman uses the ever-popular “the devil made me do it.” Adam, even worse, goes with, “my wife made me do it, which is really Your fault, God.”

Do you know who doesn’t get challenged by God? Do you know who isn’t given a chance to offer his reason? The serpent! God just curses him. And, even though God gets Adam and his wife’s ridiculous excuses out in the open first, He doesn’t say a word of penalty to them until after He has finished declaring the curse upon the serpent.

Why does He do this? At least in part, because the curse upon the serpent includes the gospel for the sinful man and woman. They had failed to put enmity between themselves and the serpent? God will restrain their sin by putting that enmity between them Himself. They are sentenced to death, but God is going to create for Himself a covenant family people who are at odds with people who belong to the serpent.

And, from this covenant family people, God will bring a Descendant for whom the serpent is no match. The best the serpent will be able to do is inflict some pain, but the Descendant will deliver the death blow on behalf of the entire covenant family!

Before Adam or his wife hear a word of punishment, they already know about the Savior who will defeat the serpent. And we know that He will defeat the Savior by taking their punishment! Has He taken yours?

We deserve Hell. We deserve worse than anything that ever comes to us in this life. But the God whose holiness and justice are so entire that our sin cannot go unpunished is also the God whose grace is so great that He doesn’t intend for us to hear the bad news of His wrath apart from the good news of His salvation. The Savior has come. He has crushed the serpent’s head. He has suffered fully all that we deserve for sin. Is He your Savior? Cling to Christ. Place yourself entirely in His hands and at His mercy. For He is full of mercy, and He will save you!
What do you deserve? What has God done about it? And what have you done about that?
Suggested Songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Saturday, December 29, 2018

181229FW Gen 3:12-15 - Good, Serpent-Crushing, News

An imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship lesson in Genesis 3:12-15

2018.12.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:12-15

Questions for Littles: Whom did Adam blame for his eating (v12)? Whom did Adam blame for the woman? To whom did Yahweh God speak next (v13)? What did He ask her? What did she answer? Whom did she blame? To whom did Yahweh God speak next (v14)? What does He ask the serpent? How does He begin His address to the serpent? Onto what will the serpent go? What will the serpent eat? How long will this curse, humiliation, and defeat continue with the serpent? What will Yahweh God put between the serpent and the woman (v15)? Between whom else will Yahweh God put enmity? What kind of wound will the woman’s Seed give the serpent? What kind of wound will the serpent give the woman’s seed?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we have the first declaration of God’s precious gospel: He is going to humiliate the serpent (on his belly he will go!), and defeat the serpent (you shall eat dust!), and send a Son to deal the serpent his death blow.

Note that while Yahweh God puts enmity between the seed of the serpent and the Seed of the woman, it is not the serpent’s seed whose heads are crushed, but the serpent himself. He’s still there, and he’s still the serpent, when the Lord Jesus delivers him the death blow.

Once we realize that this isn’t a reptile, and that v14 is not some weird theology of a certain class of reptiles, we’re left to wonder… what does it mean that the serpent goes onto his belly all the days of his life? What does it mean that the serpent eats dust all the days of His life? What connection does this have with Jesus?

As we’ve been discovering, Scripture often readily interprets itself if we pay careful attention. Psalm 72:9 puts the desert dwellers on their faces and the enemies of Jesus licking the dust. It signifies humiliation and defeat, to go with the head-crushing in v15.

But let’s notice that the humiliation and defeat are not one-time occurrences. From the day of the fall onward, Satan’s existence will be one of continual humiliation and defeat. The Lord Himself will preserve His people from the devil and the devil’s people until at last Jesus Himself comes to earth and personally defeats Satan.

God is going to get around to telling the woman and the man the consequences of their sin, but not until they have heard Him announce that He is going to save them and defeat the devil—and even use them in the process of doing it! This is why He asked them those questions, but He asked the serpent nothing—He wanted them to fall back upon the gospel, even as they first heard the results of the fall!
When you experience sin and misery, what do you tend to fall back upon?
Suggested Songs: ARP183 “Under His Wings” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, December 28, 2018

181228FW John 7:1-13 - Jesus, Bringer of Sword and Division

A very imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship lesson in John 7:1-13

2018.12.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 7:1-13

Questions for Littles: Where did Jesus go in v1? Where did He not want to walk? Why not? What feast was at hand (v2)? Where did Jesus’s brothers tell Him to go (v3)? What did they suggest was a reason for Him to do that (v3-4)? Why would Jesus’s brothers treat Him like this (v5)? What does Jesus say about His time to go to the feast (v6, 8)? Why does Jesus say that the world hates Him (v7)? Where does Jesus remain at this point (v9)? Where does He go in v10? Why don’t people know about this? What are the Jews asking in v11? What was there much of in v12, among the people, concerning Jesus? Who spoke openly of Jesus (v13)? Why not? 
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus’s brothers are giving Him the business. Undoubtedly, this was not the first time! But this is much worse than boyish mischief between siblings.

v1 tells us that Jesus didn’t want to walk in Judea because the Jews sought to kill Him. And the very next verse has His brothers egging Him on to go to the very place where His life is being threatened. Surely, they don’t know this, right? Wrong! Their egging Him on implies that they knew something of His resolve not to go up, and v13 makes it plain that the Jews’ murderous intentions were common knowledge.

So, vv3-4 are not mischievous, but rather murderous. Why? Why does everyone seem to hate Jesus? The Jews. His own brothers. Why?

v7 tells us plainly: because He testifies of it that its works are evil. We so crave the admiration and approval of the world, that we tend to sell ourselves this idea that if the church were just nicer and more welcoming, then the world would love us.

But what of following Jesus? He testifies that our works are evil. He still testifies that the world’s works are evil. And the world still hates Him for it. We have a choice: stand with Christ to love a world that hates us; or, stand with the world to hate the Christ who loves us. Which will we do? Are we willing to testify that the world’s works are evil?

And what if it actually comes to the point where speaking of Him openly is not just unpopular but dangerous to us? Will we be willing to speak up on behalf of our Master?
Which of “the world’s works” are we most tempted to give a pass? Will you?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”

Thursday, December 27, 2018

181227FW 1Cor 15:50-58 - Victory in Jesus

A very imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship session in 1Cor 15:50-58

2018.12.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Questions for Littles: What does Paul call them in v50? What cannot inherit the kingdom of God? What kind of flesh cannot inherit an incorruptible creation? What hidden truth does the apostle now reveal (v51)? What shall we not all do? But what shall we all do? How long does this change take (v52)? When? What must corruptible flesh put on instead (v53)? What must mortal flesh put on instead? What will this transformation bring to pass (v54)? What does death no longer have (v55)? What does Hades, the grave, no longer have? What is the sting of death (v56)? What especially empowers sin to hurt us in death? Who has done something about this (v57)? What does God give us? Through whom? What work is a display of this victory in our lives (v58)? What does the apostle call them now? What does he command them to be? What do we know that our labor is not? In Whom is our labor not vain?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn a strong connection between our hope at being raised bodily from the dead and our daily lives now in this world.

First, this hope is for every believer. It is something that we are so united in that not only will each of us surely be raised physically from the dead, but we will all be transformed at the same time. And we will all be raised and transformed in the very same moment, in the very same twinkle of an eye!

Second, this hope is a great hope. It robs death of its sting. It robs Hades of its victory.

Third, this hope is a merciful hope. The entire reason that death is so horrible, and that sin is so culpable, is that we deserve death for having broken God’s law.

Fourth, this hope is righteous hope. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, God has given us victory over sin, without violating but rather by keeping the righteous requirement of the law (that we be punished for breaking it!)

Fifth, this hope is an effective hope. Sin can longer have us. Death can no longer keep us. Now, we belong to the Lord. And, so, the point of the work that we do now is not so much that it lasts forever, but rather that it is in the Lord Himself, that it is a display of His victory. Your labor is not in vain in the Lord!

Whatever it is that we do as believers, let us do it always as those who do not belong to ourselves, those over whom sin is no longer master, those who no longer operate in fear of death—let us live every moment as those who belong to the Lord!
What part of your life feels most like it is “in vain”? How does this passage help?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH338 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

181226FW Josh 11:1-15 - Shocking Grace

A very imperfect, but hopefully helpful, sample of a family worship session in Joshua 11:1-15, as we realize that what is really shocking in Joshua 11:1-15 isn't what happens to the Canaanites, but rather what happens to the Israelites

2018.12.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 11:1-15

Questions for Littles: Who “heard these things” (v1)? To which kings and nations and regions did he send word in v1-3? What did they do (v4a)? How does v4 describe the number of their soldiers? Of what else did they have very many? Where did they camp (v5)? To do what? Who spoke to Joshua in v6? What did He tell him not to do? What did He tell him to do? What did Joshua and all the people of war do in v7? Where? In what manner? Who delivered the great army of the nations into the hand of Israel (v8)? And what did Israel do? How many did they leave remaining? What does v9 say directed Joshua’s actions? What did he do? What did Joshua turn to and Israel do in vv10-12? By what does v12 say that these actions were directed? What special kind of city is mentioned in v13? Which of these did Israel burn? What did Israel do with their spoil and livestock (v14)? What did they do with the people? Who directed all this (v15)? Through whom? What is emphasized a third time in the end of v15?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we heard the account of the conquering of the northern portion of the land of promise. One could wish to focus upon how the nations all gathered as one, to destroy Israel. But, when the Lord repeats the same editorial comment several times in a passage, we need to deal fairly with that.

“But Yahweh said to Joshua…” (v6).

“Yahweh delivered them…” (v8).

“Joshua did to them as Yahweh had told him…” (v9).

“Just as Moses the servant of Yahweh had commanded” (v12).

“Just as Yahweh had commanded”  (v15a).

“He left nothing undone of all that Yahweh had commanded” (v15d).

The Lord anticipates our recoiling at the fierceness and completeness of the devastation of the conquest. And, recoil we have done! What frequent complaining there is about the conquest by wicked unbelievers!

But, if we are not going to read in filthy rebellion, then we cannot come away offended at actions that this passage emphasizes six times that this was what Yahweh commanded. Rather, we must come away stunned at what we deserve—that every single one of us deserves this, and worse!

What is truly amazing is that there is any nation that the Lord is speaking to at all. Any nation that the Lord is tolerating at all. Any nation that the Lord is helping at all. Any nation that the Lord is saving at all. Any nation that the Lord is enriching at all.

And through preserving this nation, the Lord is keeping His promise to do this for every single one, from all the nations, who believes in Jesus Christ. Amazing grace!
What should we think about ourselves, when we are surprised at God’s judgement? 
Suggested songs: ARP51A-B “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

2018.12.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:3-11

Questions for Littles: How should nothing be done (v3)? How should each view others? If we esteem others better than ourselves, for whose interests should we look out (v4)? Whose mindset was like that (v5)? Who is in the form of God (v6)? What was not robbery for Christ Jesus? What form did He take (v7)? What likeness? How low did Jesus humble Himself (v8)? Who exalted Him (v9)? What name did He give Him? Which knees will bow at the name of Jesus (v10)? What will every tongue confess (v11)? To whose glory?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Song of Adoration, and Announcement of the Gospel came from Philippians 2:3-11. We’ve learned about Christ’s humiliating Himself for our sakes. Becoming a man. Enduring weakness. Suffering trials.

And, of course, the greatest was submitting Himself to death… particularly death on a cross.

Our passage from Philippians points out something shocking about His doing this. When Jesus gave Himself for us, He was treating us as if we are as important as He is. He was attending not only to His own interests but also to ours.

We have two required responses.

The first way to respond to how Christ humbled Himself for us is to humble ourselves. Not just a little, but completely. Overlooking offenses, backing out of rivalries, treating everyone as better and more important than ourselves.

Of course, there are some people with whom that is easier than with others. If we’re imitating Christ, and examining ourselves, it’s the hardest people that we have to focus upon. With whom are we having difficulty? Nursing an offense? In a rivalry? Those who are sinning against us (as we have done to Him!) are the ones with whom we must most imitate Christ.

The second way to respond, the eternal way, is to worship. Every mention of His Name should be precious to us. We shouldn’t be able to tolerate any misuse of His Name. It is the Name that should always make our knees to bend, always make our tongue confess that He who gave Himself for us is Lord.

Finally, let us consider that it is not only the Son who has given all. God the Father, for our poor sakes, has given the humiliation and death of His beloved Son, with whom He is pleased!
With whom do you most need to humble yourself? How could you better honor Jesus’ name? 
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Monday, December 24, 2018

2018.12.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:7-11

Read Genesis 3:7-11
Questions for Littles: What were opened (v7) What did the man and woman know? What did they do about it? What did the man and woman hear in v8? Who was walking in the garden? When? What did Adam and his wife do? From whose presence were they hiding? Where did they hide? Who called to Adam in v9? What did He ask Adam? What did Adam say that he felt when he heard God (v10)? Why did Adam say he was afraid? What two questions did Yahweh ask in v11?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we were reminded of how personal our sin against God has been. The realization of nakedness showed us this. It’s interesting that Adam and his wife make the coverings together and employ them together. They don’t hide from each other, but they hide from God.

To a certain extent, we are ashamed in front of other people. But other people are sinners. There is a certain comfort in knowing that they are bad like we are. And other people have limited knowledge. It’s not like they can see into our souls to know just how bad we are.

Not so with the Lord. His knowledge is complete and penetrates to the depths of who we are. Worse, His righteousness is so great that it demanded the blood of Christ to satisfy for sin. He is perfectly holy—unbearably so for Adam, stained with just one sin. How about for you? How about for me? With our years of continual and innumerable sins?

But it’s not just that we break a code of conduct when we sin. Rather, we despise God Himself when we do so. The Lord underlines this for us in v11, when he calls the tree, “the tree of which I commanded you…” It has been called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It has been called “the tree in the midst of the garden.” But here, the Lord refers back to the personal conversation that He had with Adam in 2:15-17.

Have you faced this fact—that your sins are not merely against a code, but against the living God Himself? It’s personal! And this is why it’s so astonishing that He has provided personal forgiveness. He doesn’t cancel out our debt as an act of divine book keeping. No, He Himself personally came. Personally obeyed in our place. Personally bore our penalty. Hallelujah!
How have you responded to your personally betraying God and His personal sacrifice for you?
Suggested Songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”

Saturday, December 22, 2018

2018.12.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:7-11

Questions for Littles: What were opened (v7) What did the man and woman know? What did they do about it? What did the man and woman hear in v8? Who was walking in the garden? When? What did Adam and his wife do? From whose presence were they hiding? Where did they hide? Who called to Adam in v9? What did He ask Adam? What did Adam say that he felt when he heard God (v10)? Why did Adam say he was afraid? What two questions did Yahweh ask in v11? 
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we see the great mercy of God.

The serpent had been lying when he said, “your eyes will be opened” in v5. There’s no reason to think that he expected anything other than the immediate death of the man and the woman. But rather than their eyes being closed in final death, their eyes were opened to see their own spiritual death.

What they couldn’t see was the mercy of God.

God asks, “Where are you?” Now think about that… is God really in need of information? Is He having difficulty locating Adam? Of course not! Then what is God doing? Like a mother might ask her toddler if he was being naughty, Yahweh is getting Adam to interact with Him about his sin.

When Adam does come around to interacting, he reveals that he does indeed possess something that he did not before: shame. It totally makes sense to Adam that he was afraid and hid. What he doesn’t realize is that he is admitting that he has good reason to be afraid of God.

Again, the Lord asks Adam an obvious question. Of course God knows whether Adam has eaten from the forbidden tree! But, Adam hasn’t come clean with that yet. The Lord is pressing Adam to confess his sin.

It’s pretty ridiculous of Adam to think that he can save face with God rather than coming clean. But, isn’t that what the fig leaves were all about? What can a man do to cover his sin? Feel very sorry? Extra good works? Lots of spiritual activities? Fig leaves!! All of it is nothing more than fig leaves!!!

Only one thing can ever cover our sin: the blood of Jesus Christ.
How have you dealt (or failed to deal) with your sin before the living God?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, December 21, 2018

181221FW Jn 6:60-71 - Christ Alone Gives Spirit and Life by His Word


Family worship teaching time recording from today's Hopewell @Home passage

2018.12.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:60-71

Questions for Littles: Whose disciples said that His sayings were hard and difficult to understand (v60)? What does Jesus suggest, in v62, would be even more difficult for them to accept? Who gives life (v63)? How much does the flesh profit? Whose words give both the Spirit and life? What does Jesus say some of His hearers do not do (v64)? Who knew from the beginning who did believe and who did not believe? What else did Jesus know? What does Jesus say is the only thing that makes someone able to come to Him (v65)? What many of Jesus’s disciples do from that time (v66)? To whom does Jesus speak in v67? What does He ask them? Who answers in v68? What is the first reason that Peter gives for refusing to leave Jesus? What is the second reason that Peter gives for refusing to leave Jesus (v69)? How does Jesus answer Peter in v70? Whom was Jesus calling a devil? What would Judas end up doing? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we have a familiar passage with a shocking twist that you might not have noticed before. Jesus drives away the crowds, but the twelve remain with Him. When Jesus asks them if they want to go, Peter says that they refuse to leave Him because (a) He has the words of eternal life, and (b) they have come to believe and to know that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The shocking twist is how Jesus responds to this statement, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Wow—what an odd response to Peter’s beautiful confession!

Jesus is underlining the point that He had made back in v63-65. A group of people can hear the very same life-giving words, and some of them believe, while some of them do not. When Peter confesses that Jesus’s words give eternal life and confesses the truth about Jesus, the Lord Jesus Himself confronts them with the fact that even someone who agrees with those truths can be lost as the devil.

Coming to Jesus is a gift that only the Father can give. It’s pretty silly that this idea bothers some people. It would only bother us if we have more confidence in ourselves to come to Jesus than in the Father to bring us to Jesus.

As it is, however, this passage teaches us not to have false confidence just because we’ve heard the right things or agreed with the right ideas. Rather, let us be urgent and earnest in asking the Lord to bless His Word to us and to our children!
Whom do you know that hears the gospel on a regular basis and when? What do you need to be praying for them (and yourself!)? 
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Thursday, December 20, 2018

I Kissed Self-Indulgence and Impurity Goodbye - thinking about this week's catechism question

Hopewell children are working on Shorter Catechism 71 this week:
Q. 71. What is required in the seventh commandment? A. The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor's chastity, in heart, speech and behavior.
In our home, this of course led to a discussion of the word, 'chastity'. Our working definition is "self-control and purity concerning romantic things."

We've noted that just as with the sixth commandment (murder: hateful thoughts, words, actions) and the fourth commandment (Sabbath keeping: delight in the day, worshipful conversations, a day consecrated for actions of worship), so also the seventh commandment (and all the others) is one in which the Lord wants our hearts, mouths, and actions. This is, after all, the understanding of God's law that the entire Bible models and that Jesus Himself very specifically teaches in Matthew 5.

Of course, giving the Lord our actions feels impossible. And Scripture itself tells us that controlling the tongue is impossible. Keeping the heart is harder still. But nothing is more necessary--especially when it comes to romance. The battles with lust that destroy young lives later are often part of a war that was lost singing radio songs, watching Disney films, or reading 19th century novels.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (Prov 4:23)
We have to start from scratch in how we approach romance: a rejoicing in God's design for husband and wife, a delighting in His specific providence to us in all things and especially in whom He has chosen to be our specific spouse, and a dedication to seeing Him glorified in every detail of our lives and especially in that greatest detail that is our marriage. It was helpful to us to have just been through Genesis 2 on marriage in the morning sermons and be able to refer back.

So, of course, I was very interested in this article, commenting on a recently popular backlash against "purity culture." Whenever our consciences bother us, the easiest thing to do is to attack the legalists. Are there people who turn pursuit of purity into something by which we may maintain a right standing before God, and who think that it is something that we can accomplish by virtue of our effort and very carefully detailed list of do's and don'ts? Sure. There are legalists out there.

But the backlash isn't against them--it's against purity itself, and it's largely from people who haven't tried it. Other people's trying it makes them feel bad. And making someone else feel bad about his sin is the only thing left that our culture views as evil.

Here's the article (skip it, if you didn't live through the Josh Harris craze in the 90s. I'm sorry for him that he has been shamed into retracting what was such good advice!).

181220FW 1Corinthians 15:35-49 - What Kind of Body We'll Be Raised With


Babies crying. Five-year-olds asking to use the potty. Welcome to family worship! Imperfect people worshiping a perfect God through His perfect Word. May that Word be a blessing to you!

2018.12.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Questions for Littles: What question does the apostle suggest that someone will ask in v35? What does the apostle call this person in v36? What must happen to what is planted, in order for it to be made alive? How does the resulting plant compare to what was put in the ground (v37-41)? To what event does v42 compare a particular plant being produced by a particular seed? What kind of body is put into the ground? What kind of body comes out of it—what four things do v42-44 say about the body that is put into the ground? What four things do those verses say about the body that comes out? What did the first Adam become (v45)? What did the last Adam become? From where was the first Adam (v47)? From where is the last Adam? Who is the pattern for what happens to those who are in the first Adam (v48)? Who is the pattern for what happens to those who are in the last Adam? Whose physical image have we borne (49a)? Whose physical image shall we bear (49b)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we begin with a question that implies an objection that could have been reasonable. “With what body?...” implies the objection, “Have you seen my body, and what happens to it after death? I don’t want that body back!!!”

Of course not. That zombie stuff is literally what horror stories are made of. But, as the apostle says, it is a foolish objection. For the decline, death, and decay of our bodies all belong to the first Adam. It is what we deserve in him. It is what happened to him. It is what will happen to everyone who is in him. But he is not the pattern for us who believe in Christ!!

No, Christ is the pattern for us. And what happened with Christ? A corruptible, dishonored, weak, natural body went into the tomb. An incorruptible, glorious, powerful body that belongs to a world that is yet to come came out of the tomb.

And it is precisely the fact that we do decline and die and decay that should convince us that our resurrection bodies will be made just like Christ’s. For, if this principle of being physically conformed to our covenant head is what causes our current difficulty in the first Adam, then we are living proof that the principle is valid. Now, let us apply the principle to the last Adam: What has happened to Christ’s body as our covenant Head will happen also to us for His sake! Hallelujah!
With what kind of body will you be raised? Why? What will you experience in it?
Suggested songs: ARP16B “I’ll Bless the Lord” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

2018.12.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 10:29-43

Questions for Littles: Where did Joshua and Israel go in v29? What did they do there? Who delivered it and its king into the hand of Israel (v30)? Where did they go in v31? What did they do there? Who delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel (v32)? Who came and met them at Lachish (v33)? What did Joshua do to them? Where did Joshua and all Israel go in v34? What did they do there? To what does v35 compare their success? Where did they go in v36? To what does v37 compare their success? Where did Joshua and all Israel go in v38? What did they do there? To what does v39 compare their success? What land(s) had Joshua conquered at this point (v40)? How many of those that breathe did he leave alive? According to whose command did Joshua do this? What were their boundaries (v41)? Who fought for Israel (v42)? To where did they return (v43)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, Joshua and Israel conquer the southern portion of the promised land, and utterly destroy all that breathes. This is often offensive to unbelievers, but this should not surprise us. Unbelievers are in cosmic treason against the Creator and King of the universe.

We deserve to be on the business end of Joshua’s sword—and we deserve worse still! If we think what happened to Libna, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir is rough; then, wait until what happens to every unbeliever at the judgment!! At Christ’s great white throne, there will be no “he was a decent person” or “they’re moving on to a better place.”

From the believer’s standpoint, what we see is God having made promises and given commands. Joshua and all Israel exert great effort, measurable in sweat and blood. But, ultimately, they are doing so at Yahweh’s command (v40) and upon Yahweh’s strength (v30, 32, 42).

While our battle isn’t against unbelievers so much as against sin and unbelief, we have an otherwise similar charge and similar strength. But it seems like often we do not have a similar success!

In 2 Corinthians 2:12-13, the apostle describes having a door opened for ministry in Troas, but being compelled by a continuing anxiety of spirit to go to Macedonia and look for Titus. It’s not the kind of stuff that gets written up in the “Journal of Ministry Success”—except when you see it through the eyes of v14, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

This is probably a direct allusion to the conquest. The Lord is always accomplishing what He intends in His church, in our lives, in the world. Our job is to obey His commands to us and rest upon His strength alone, as we seek to be “the fragrance of Christ.” Yes, many are perishing, but what a privilege we have to serve in the age in which Christ is leading us on a conquering tour also of redeeming an innumerable multitude of sinners!
Unto whom, in your home and out of it, are you an aroma of Christ on a regular basis?
Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH421 “Christ Shall Have Dominion”

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

2018.12.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 6:1-7

Questions for Littles: In what year did Isaiah see this (v1)? Whom did he see? Where? What filled the temple? Who stood above the throne (v2)? How many wings did each have? What did each do with those wings? What did they cry to one another (v3)? By what were the door posts shaken (v4)? With what was the temple filled? What did Isaiah say about himself (v5)? What were his lips like? What had his eyes done? What did one of the seraphim do in v6? What did he have to use to take the coal from the altar? To what did he touch it (v7)? What did he say had been done when the coal touched Isaiah’s lips?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Song of Adoration, and Announcement of the Gospel came from Isaiah 6:1-7. This is a familiar passage about the great glory of God. Uzziah had been king for more than fifty years, but he was not the great king. The Lord is not only high, but higher than high: high and lifted up. So great is His glory, that the temple is not even standing-room-only. It is no-room-for-anyone-to-stand. You mayn’t step upon the King’s robe, and the train of His robe fills the temple!

The attendants of this King are “burning ones” (what “seraphim” literally means)—these are literally creatures of flame. Still, they are dwarfed and awed by the Holy-Holy-Holy One. They mayn’t stand, so they hover. They mayn’t look, so they cover their faces. Their feet are unworthy to be seen.

They cry to one another with such force that this heavenly temple of this glorious vision is shaken by their voices. This is no earthly shack, but still the praise of God makes it tremble as in an earthquake. Such is the crying out about the holiness of God that it causes a heaven-quake!!

It’s no wonder, then that Isaiah was concerned about how he had used his lips up to this point. As he hears the flame creatures, he realizes the one great purpose for which lips exist, and he realizes further that his own use of his lips has fallen so far short of this purpose that his very existence is self-destructive. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God… but all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God… so, woe is me, for I am undone!”

It is a conclusion that we must all reach now, from God’s Word, by God’s Spirit, lest we arrive at the throne ourselves on that Great Day, and hear that judgment pronounced by Him who sits upon it! Of course, the glory of the holiness that is on display is matched by an equally glorious display of mercy. A hovering seraph, who has been waiting for the King to will him into motion, flies into action. He takes a coal so hot that a flame-being must use tongs to handle it, and touches it to Isaiah’s lips.

That might sound like a recipe for lip-annihilation, but that is not the result. Rather, it is lip-atonement. The reason is truly astonishing: He who sits upon the throne was the sacrifice upon whom the fire of the wrath of the altar of God had been spent.

There is a very important passage in John 12, where v40 quotes v10 of this chapter, and then says about Jesus in v41, “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” Who is the Him? Yahweh of hosts (Isaiah 6:3). Here’s yet another declaration by Scripture that Jesus is Jehovah, the Christ is Yahweh Himself!

And He is Yahweh upon whom was poured all of God’s hatred and holy wrath against sin, for everyone who believes in Him. Oh, dear reader, I certainly hope that is you. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and You shall be saved!
Have you believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the true and Living God who gave Himself for you?  
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Saviour Bleed”

Monday, December 17, 2018

2018.12.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:1-6

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?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we see the folly of false spirituality. The woman did not give in to the temptation to consider God to be stingy. She flat out corrected the serpent on that. And of course she could see that the tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes. But that wasn’t new or different.

What had changed? Why did she decide to eat the fruit? 1Timothy 2:14 helps us understand what happened. There, we learn that Adam knew that he was doing wrong (he was not deceived), but his wife did not (the woman was deceived).

Looking at our Scripture with this in mind, we see how the serpent changed his tactic. He couldn’t convince her to rebel against God directly, so He convinced her that she was really obeying God. “You will be like God,” said the serpent. And, of course, this was exactly what she was created to be: in the image of God.

However, she allowed herself to be convinced that God had left it to her to figure out how to do that. Sure, He had brought her to her husband as soon as she was created. He had previously given her husband instructions for her. He had commanded her to be fruitful and multiply and take dominion.

But this seemed pretty exciting. Would she be willing to risk her life to fulfill her calling to be like God?

It’s a very deceptive temptation. Churches are full of believers who sincerely love God, but all of those ordinary things that God has given us to do just don’t seem to be the expressions of love that they are looking for.

We might be lazy, skip work or school to “minister,” and call it “trusting God for finances.” We might try to worship in a more “inspiring” or spectacular way than the plan reading, praying, singing, and preaching of God’s Word. We might come up with doctrines or practices that the world finds more acceptable and convince ourselves that we are being “winsome for the Lord” rather than unfaithful to His Word. We might delve into meditation techniques or man-made rituals that we’re convinced make us feel closer to God.
What kinds of spiritual things do you get excited about? How do you know/learn what God calls you to do for worship, for growing in Christ, for ministry? Whom has God given you to help you identify deceptive temptations? 
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Saturday, December 15, 2018

2018.12.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 3:1-7

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 from 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 14, 2018

2018.12.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:52-59

Questions for Littles: Who quarreled among themselves (v52)? About what? Who answered them (v53)? What did Jesus say we must do, or else we have no life in us? What does Jesus say that we have if we eat His flesh and drink His blood (54a)? What will Jesus do to us, if we eat His flesh and drink His blood (54b)? What does Jesus say is genuine food (55a)? What does Jesus say is genuine drink (55b)? How does Jesus describe eating His flesh and drinking His blood at the end of v56? Who is the source and purpose of Jesus’ human life and mission (57a)? What does v57 say about the person who feeds on Jesus? After having described feeding upon Him in these ways, what does Jesus say will happen to those who “eat this bread” (v58)? Who taught these things (59)? Where? 
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus resolves a quarrel for the Jews, and if we listen closely, He would resolve a Reformation quarrel for us too: “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

First in v53, Jesus presents us with a problem: we have no life in ourselves. How does He mean this? Physically? Of course not! There they are, living and breathing and arguing. Obviously, He’s talking about spiritual life. The eating and drinking that He’s talking about is one that resolves this problem.

Second in v54, Jesus directly connects “eating His flesh and drinking His blood” to v44, 47. If we look at those verses, “eating His flesh and drinking His blood” is the same as the Father dragging us to come to Christ (v44) and our believing in Christ (v47). Those who are brought to faith in this way are said to be “eating His flesh and drinking His blood.”

We understand this to be true about how we believe in Jesus to be joined to Him and declared righteous before God (justification). But Jesus is now emphasizing God’s sovereign gift of faith in Him as the key to His ongoing work in us for salvation (sanctification unto glorification).

When Jesus says that His body is “genuine food” and that His blood is “genuine drink,” He’s not saying that actual bread and wine are not actual food and drink. He’s saying that though in a spiritual sense, it is still in a very true and genuine way that His body and blood are food to us—that He Himself is food to us. And then He fleshes this true sense out in two ways:

First in v56, we abide in Him, and He abides in us. This happens with food and drink. Someone once asked me if I was nuts, to which I replied, “considering how many nuts I’ve eaten as I’ve grown, I’d have to say that to a significant extent, I am indeed nuts.” Of course, Jesus is “living” bread and wine. He does not become a part of our spirits in exactly the same way that molecules from bread and wine become part of our bodies. Rather…

Second in v57, we live on account of Him. He is the source, cause, and purpose of our lives.

As we move forward from when we first came to Christ, Jesus continues to be our everything, every day. And this is also how we turn our hearts to Him and feed upon Him at His table.
What does it look like to abide in Jesus and live because of Jesus on a daily basis? How do we look to Him in the same way while taking the Lord’s Supper?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH202 “Here, O My Lord, I See Thee”

Thursday, December 13, 2018

2018.12.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:20-34

Questions for Littles: What has Christ done (v20a)? Who became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep? What came by a man (21a)? Whet else came by a man (21b)? What do all who are in Adam do (22a)? What happens to all who are in Christ (22b)? When is the resurrection of those who are Christ’s (v23)? What comes then (24)? To whom does Christ deliver the kingdom? What will Jesus do to all other authorities? What will be the last enemy to be destroyed (v26)? Who is putting all things under Jesus’s feet (v27)? Who, then, is not put under Jesus’s feet? To whom will Jesus be subject (v28)? By even what people was the resurrection of the dead believed (v29)? And what were the apostles willing to do because of the resurrection (v30)? What did Paul say that he did daily (v31)? What would he do, if the dead are not raised (v32)? What should we be careful not to do with others who think like this (v33)? Whom should we know and think about instead (v34)?
In this week’s epistle reading, Paul makes the final argument for the resurrection: this is how it must all end! God must win at the last (v28).

The problem is that the first Adam sinned, and in him all died. The fact that we received spiritual death from him is an indisputable fact. We try to hide from it, but every one of us who is honest with ourselves find that it is true that our hearts are deceitful above all things (unknowable) and desperately wicked (unfixable).

How does this go with the fact that God must win at the last? There is another Adam, the last Adam—Christ. Since by a man came death, by a man resurrection had to come.

But when? Well, there are more things wrong with the world than just that we are spiritually dead. This sin and death has infected all authority, so that all has to be brought back under Christ’s feet. And even then, there is one more enemy to be defeated: death itself.

Christ’s mission to save us isn’t about us. It’s about God. God is displaying both His love and His power, and at the last He shall reign!

So the resurrection is sure. The question for you and me is, what difference does it make? Well, if you’re into false religion, you baptize for the dead—and how sad would it be if believers were less confident in the resurrection than such cults (v29)?

But the apostle sets us the true example. Be willing to risk much for the Lord (v30). Stop living for this life, and live for eternity instead (v31). Do battle with all that opposes Christ (v32a). Watch out for living for the flesh (v32b). Refuse to have as your companions those who live for this life (v33). And have instead, as your constant companion the Lord Himself (v34).
Are you living like someone whose hope is to enjoy yourself as much as possible for as long as possible? Or like someone who knows that you will rise from the dead unto everlasting joy?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH539 “Am I a Soldier of the Cross”

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

2018.12.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 10:16-28

Questions for Littles: What had five Amorite kings done (v16)? Who was told about it (v17)? What did Joshua say to do in v18? What would sealing up the cave for later allow them to do to the rest of the Amorites (v19)? Why was Joshua so sure that this would work (end of v19)? What were the results (v20)? What did the people do when they were done pursuing Amorites (v21a)? Now what would no one else do (21b)? Now that this was done, what did Joshua say to do in v22? Which five kings were these (v23, cf. v3)? What did Joshua have the captains of Israel do in v24? What does Joshua tell them, while in this position (v25)? Whom does Joshua tell them will defeat their enemies? What does Joshua do with the five kings in v26-27? What was the last city in this area to be defeated (v28)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we learn about the Lord’s ongoing war against one of His people’s greatest enemies.

You see, we often think that our problem is in our circumstances or in external forces. It certainly looked that way for Israel. Kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, Eglon, and Makkedah… and all their warriors who had fled into fortified cities.

But the Scripture makes quick work of those external enemies and circumstances. Where we can see the text slow down for speeches or ceremonial acts, we have one reminder after another that “Yahweh your God has delivered them into your hand” (v19) … “thus Yahweh will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (v25) … and then the displaying of the five kings with the memorial/historical comment, “which remain until this very day” (v27).

What enemy is being attacked in these verses? The enemy of self-trust is attacked by a reminder that it is Yahweh who fights. The enemies of fear and doubt are attacked by a reminder that Yahweh will always win. This last reminder also attacks the enemy of temptation to rebel.

Self-trust. Fear. Doubt. Temptation to rebel. Do you know anyone else who battles such enemies? Let us do that battle by the same strategy that the Holy Spirit employs here—only let us do so with an even greater example!

Let us be constantly reminded that the Lord Jesus Himself has obeyed perfectly when we couldn’t have. Jesus has suffered the penalty of sin completely, which wouldn’t have ended for us through all eternity. Jesus has taken on Satan himself and crushed that devil’s head. How could we ever go back to hopeless trust in ourselves, when we have begun by trusting in our absolutely sure and perfect Savior?

The Lord Jesus will always win. He sits enthroned in glory, and His enemies are being made a footstool for His feet. Whenever we are tempted to indulge ourselves, or fear men, or choose the lazy way out, let us remember Him there on the throne—lest we make it seem like a small thing to resist His rule. By God’s grace, let us keep our eyes on Jesus!
What daily exercises help you keep remembering the truths of the gospel? What else can you be doing throughout the day? How does keeping the Lord’s Day help?
Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH429 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2018.12.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 2:1-10

Questions for Littles: What did the Lord do to us (v1a)? Why did He need to do that (1b)? How did this death display itself (v2a)? In accordance with whom (2b)? Whose desires did we fulfill when we lived this way (3a)? What were we by nature (3b)? In what is God rich (4a)? What does God greatly have toward us (4b)? When did He perform the action in v5? What did He do to us in/with Christ? By what have we been saved? What two other things has He done to us in/with Christ (v6)? What ages are in view as the purpose of this saving (v7a)? What does He plan to do in those ages (7b)? Through what does grace save us (8a)? Where does it come from (8b)? What is salvation not of (9a)? Why not? What does v10a say that we are? In whom did God “create” us? For what? Which good works? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, Confession of Sin, Song of Adoration, and Announcement of the Gospel came from 1Corinthians 15:42-58 and Ephesians 2:1-10. Since we’ll be coming back to the Corinthians passage soon in the epistle readings, today let’s consider Ephesians 2:1-10.

As we’re about to find out in Genesis 3, our fall in Adam was complete. We aren’t just injured or disabled in trespasses and sins. No—we come into being as children of wrath by nature. We sin by fulfilling our own desires. Because each of us starts out dead in trespasses and sin.

We don’t just need a little help or healing. We don’t just need resuscitation. We need resurrection.
What’s amazing is what God does for us in the way by which this resurrection comes: union with Jesus Christ. Because we are united to Him, we aren’t just resurrected; we’re also ascended and seated with Him in the heavenly places!

That means that everything that we do now on earth, we do as citizens of heaven. Every act of life, no matter how unimpressive to the world, is an act of loving service and obedience to the Christian—a good work that God, who has created me new in Christ Jesus, specially selected and appointed for me before the world began.

Why would God do this for wicked sinners such as we are? Because He is rich in mercy. Because He has great love toward us. Because what He does in us now—bringing us to faith and making us to walk in good works—is going to be the talk of the cosmos forever and ever, when He displays us as the living testimony to “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Oh, dear Christian, such a God is worthy of all praise! How will we bring praise to Him? First, by refusing to hold onto, for our salvation, anything at all that we do; but, holding only onto Christ and what He has done. Second, by walking in good works as citizens of heaven who yet live on earth—other worldly creatures who bring glory to our (re)Creator!
What are you holding onto for salvation? What good works are you walking in?
Suggested songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Monday, December 10, 2018

Are we training our children to be committed to Christ and His Church?

In the second point of yesterday's sermon, one of our implications was that if our children have never engaged in covenanted commitment before, it is naive at best and negligent at worst to hope that they will be able to be committed in their marriages.

We applied that to our lives by talking about the view of commitment that they get by watching mom and dad, and the training that they receive in their own commitment to Christ and commitment to His Church.

We had already made a similar application in the first point, about re-defining all other relationships in terms of our relationship to Christ, and we were about to make a similar application in the third point, about living our lives in unity of purpose and pleasure with Christ.

Yes, the sermon highlighted a very important process for forging a faithful marriage: Clean Break, Clinging Commitment, and Communion of Life. But, in the application, we kept coming back to this: if we haven't learned how to belong to Christ (and taught our children to do so), then we cannot expect to belong to one another well in our marriages (or our children in theirs).

As often happens, the Holy Spirit had others of His people thinking about the same thing at the same time. This morning, a friend referred me to this [short but excellent article] about a clip of a Q&A in which Pastor Carl Trueman is answering a question about why the churches are losing their children.

A couple of quotes to whet your appetite:
The church is losing its young people because the parents never taught their children that it was important. I think that applies across the board. It applies to family worship, and it also applies to whether you are in church every Sunday and what priority you demonstrate to your children church has on a Sunday.--Carl Trueman

Parents makes choices all the time for their families. As they decide on what takes priority in family, every choice is carefully observed and taken into the heart of their children. Yes, they are watching you, and they are learning from you. Maybe the reason why our children have no love for Christ is due to the fact that we as parents do not show any love or passion for Christ, evidenced by how we prioritize our time both on Sundays and during the week. --contendfortruth.com

2018.12.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 2:24-25

Questions for Littles: Whom must a man leave? To be joined to whom (v24)? What do they become? What does v25 say about their clothes? What does it say about their hearts?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned the three step process for getting a biblical marriage started, and the glorious result.

We know, of course, that v24 is talking to us about ourselves and not Adam and Eve. Adam had no father to leave! If we think about it a little further, we find that this process is especially for a father to teach his children. Why? Because up until someone follows this plan, he’s going to be under his father’s teaching!

So, what do fathers need to teach their sons and daughters to prepare to do?

Leave the family. If the sons are going to be good heads for their wives, they are going to need to be the heads of their own households. If the daughters are going to give themselves completely to their husbands, they need to be ready to sever ties with their former family.

That’s drastic! Exactly. Look at Psalm 45:10. Even better, look at Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”

Coming to Jesus changes every relationship so that it is like they are restarted from scratch as something completely new and different. Coming to Jesus changes our very selves so that we treat our former selves as entirely disposable!

Marriage is so life changing, according to Genesis 2:24, that it is the one human relationship that shares these characteristics in common with coming to Jesus Christ.

The next thing that our children should be learning is how to covenant. No earthly covenant is going to be more serious or more permanent than their marriage. But they have other relationships, other commitments, and most importantly their covenant church memberships. Long before they profess their faith, they are in covenant with God and need to be trained in fulfilling their responsibilities and enjoying their privileges according to a Christ’s-blood-bought-serious commitment. Genesis 2:24 says a man must be joined to his wife.

Finally, our children need to learn what it means to be one flesh. This is something they cannot learn by experience before their marriage, so they must take advantage of two great model relationships.

The first is dad and mom’s relationship. Dad and mom can’t be sinless again, so a 2:25 relationship is off the table. But, as we heard last week from Ephesians 5, the way forward is even more glorious than the way back. The way for mom and dad to be “naked and not ashamed” with one another is to be completely honest with one another and extend great grace to one another. Forgiveness must permeate their marriage, such that they are always for one another, always either on the same page or coming back to it. This is the first way the children witness “one flesh.”

The second great model they have for becoming “one flesh” with their future spouse is their own relationship with Jesus. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Our children must learn to pursue what Christ pursues, approve what Christ approves, reject what Christ rejects, and enjoy what Christ enjoys! Their being one spirit with Him is forever and ever. And it is the best model they have for learning to be one flesh with their future spouses!
When is a good time for a young man to start working to be able to be independent? What are some ways that new brides might stay too much under their father and mother or not enough under their husbands? What are some ways that a husband and wife can work on having great fellowship? How does sin get in the way? How does the gospel fix this between us and God? How does the gospel fix this between us and each other?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH549 “O Gracious Lord”

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”

Monday, December 3, 2018

2018.12.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 2:23-25

Questions for Littles: What did Adam say in v23? Whom must a man leave to be joined to whom (v24)? What do they become? What does v25 say about their clothes? What does it say about their hearts?
In the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we arrive at the end of Day 6. Again. Last time that we arrived at the end of Day 6, in the first chapter, 1:27 summarized in a blink what would require 22 verses in chapter 2. But if we put the two together, v25 is ultimate display of man being made in the image of God, the climax that causes God to go from the first “not good” all the way to the very first “very good.”

The man and his wife’s fellowship with one another is a key part of their fellowship with the Lord. They were naked and not ashamed. Of course, they had no sinful nature, so there was no wickedness inside them to provoke. Also, without any sin, they were comfortable being fully exposed. They had nothing to hide.

This made their relationship an image of the relationship among the persons of the Trinity. They were in complete agreement. They were in perfect fellowship. They were entirely for one another. They didn’t even think of sinning against one another. They perfectly delighted in one another.

But it wasn’t just in front of one another that they were naked. They were also naked in front of God. They were in perfect fellowship with God. They were entirely for God, and they were sure that He was entirely for them. They were not yet even thinking of sinning against God. They perfectly delighted in God.

This is how we were created to be with God, but now we can only begin to recover it through the work of the Holy Spirit, applying to us the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Only a new nature can enable us to start being for God like we should, and this nature comes by the work of the Holy Spirit. And only Jesus’ blood and righteousness can turn God’s wrath away from us, so that He only has favor toward us.

And it is only those married couples who have this restored relationship with the Lord who can begin to enjoy a truly glorious God-imaging marriage with one another. Our problem is sin, and the solution begins not with a to-do list, but rather with the gospel—the good news of what Jesus has already done.
How are you safe before the Lord, even though you are laid bare before Him?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH549 “O Gracious Lord”

Saturday, December 1, 2018

2018.12.01 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, November 30, 2018

2018.11.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:22-40

Friday, November 30, 2018 ▫ Read John 6:22-40
Questions for Littles: What day is it in v22? Where were the people? What did they see? What did they know about the disciples? What other boats were there now (v23)? Where did they go (v24)? Whom were they seeking? Where did they find Him (v25)? What did they ask Him? According to Jesus, what wasn’t the reason that they were seeking Him (v26)? What was the reason that they were seeking Him? For what kind of food does He tell them not to labor (v27)? For what kind of food does He tell them to labor? Who will give them that food? How do they know that He will give them that food? What kind of labor do they ask Him about in v28? What does Jesus say is the “work” of God (v29)? In order for them to believe, what do they demand that Jesus perform (v30)? What kind of sign do they suggest (v31)? How does this relate to v26? Whom does Jesus say is the giver of true bread (v32)? What is the bread of God (v33)? For what do they ask (v34)? What does Jesus call Himself in v35? What two things will never be done again by a person who comes to Jesus for life? But what does Jesus say that His hearers are not doing (v36)? Who will come to Jesus (v37)? What will Jesus not do with those who come to Him? From where has Jesus come (v38)? What has Jesus not come to do? What has Jesus come to do? Whose will does Jesus describe in v39? To whom has the Father given particular people? What will Jesus not do with any of those people? What will Jesus certainly do with all of those people? What has the Father willed to give to everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him (v40)? What will Jesus do with that person on the last day? 
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus rebukes people for seeking something from Him. It’s not so much that He wasn’t the One that they were seeking. Rather, the problem was that He Himself wasn’t what they were seeking from Him.

They were hungry for bread, when they should have been hungry for Jesus. The sign didn’t announce that Jesus was where to get bread. The sign was announcing that Jesus IS the bread.

What is it that you seek with all your heart? Strength? Satisfaction? Joy? Belonging? A clear conscience? Every proper thing that there is to seek is to be found not merely from Jesus, but in Jesus—Jesus Himself.

Even the right work to do is to stop hoping in doing works but to believe in Him. Do not even believe in believing in Him—that is to believe in faith. But true faith doesn’t hope in itself. It believes only in Jesus!
What have you been seeking from Jesus so much that you risk seeking it more than Jesus Himself? What would it look like to seek Him more than it?
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, From the Depths” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”

Thursday, November 29, 2018

2018.11.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Questions for Littles: What is Paul declaring to the Corinthians in v1? What did he preach? What had they received? In what did they stand? By what are they saved (v2)? What other kind of faith is there than saving faith (end of v2)? What had Paul—first of all—delivered to them (v3)? For what had Christ died? In accordance with what? What was done with Him then (v4a)? But what did He do after He was buried? In accordance with what? By whom was He seen (v5a)? Then by whom (v5b)? Then by whom (v6)? After the gathering of over 500, by whom was He seen again (v7)? By how many of the apostles? Who was last (v8)? What does Paul say about the timing of his own becoming an apostle? What does Paul say about his place among the apostles (v9a)? Why (v9b)? How did such an one as Paul become an apostle (v10a)? What else did God’s grace enable Paul to do  (v10b)? But what is the same, no matter which apostle was preaching it, or which believer was believing it (v11)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we continued upon the theme of the use of the understanding in worship. Now, the apostle addresses us not upon the subject of how the understanding must be used in worship, but rather upon the subject of what it is that we should be understanding, as we think in worship.

What do you think about in worship? That’s a good question, and it needs answering, because v2 reminds us that there is something that looks like faith but is really empty. What is first of all? What is most important?

Christ. Christ dead for sins. Christ buried. Christ risen again.

Apostolic signs have been a subject for much of this letter, and Paul here clearly makes the case that there are no apostles after him—so that time coming of having a completed Bible, about which chapter 13 spoke (and which Jesus had promised in John 16) was coming soon.

But the signs of a true apostle did more than confirm the written Word of the apostles. The signs were also confirming the eye-witness of the apostles. The apostles, as well as these more than 500 others, were eye-witnesses of the resurrected Christ.

O, dear Christian, there is nothing so important to us as the resurrected Christ! And to think much of ourselves is directly opposed to humbling ourselves low before Him. By the grace of God alone we have whatever calling or place we find ourselves in. By the grace of God alone may we be faithful in that calling or place.

The most important thing about our place in the church is that, in it, we carry forward the gospel of Christ dead for sins, buried, and risen again! And He--this Christ--must consume our attention during worship.
How do you dwell upon our resurrected Lord? How often? How does it affect your life?
Suggested songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2018.11.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 9

Read Joshua 9
Questions for Littles: What did all the other kings begin to do (v1-2)? What did the Gibeonites do instead? What did they want Joshua to make with them (v6)? What kind of country did they know that they needed to look like they were from for Joshua to do this? Whom do they say in v9 is the reason that they want to be in covenant with Israel? What does v14 highlight the Israelites did not ask? What did Israel learn after three days (v16)? But what didn’t Israel do and why (v18-19)? What does Israel decide to do with them (v23, 25-27)? What answer do they give for why they acted deceitfully (v24)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we have an apparent act of great faith in Yahweh—but not from the Israelites.

Not once, but twice, the Gibeonites proclaim the greatness of Yahweh as the reason that they have done something. First, He is the reason that they were determined to get Israel to accept them in covenant. Second, He is the reason that they were willing even to be deceptive, if it would just mean that they would end up on His side.

Interestingly, the Israelites are the ones whom the passage sets up in a negative comparison with the Gibeonites. They are the ones who seem to treat it as a small thing to have the LORD on their side. They don’t even seek His counsel—even though it is apparent that they suspect that the Gibeonites are being deceptive. But what do they do? Take some of the Gibeonites’ provisions.

Not only were these much more meager than the ones that the Lord had just given them much of at Ai. The Gibeonites’ things were not even as good as what Israel themselves had dragged around the wilderness for 40 years, because the LORD whom they were taking for granted had not allowed their things to age and wear out.

It’s very interesting that the Lord Himself does not speak to rebuke Israel throughout this chapter. Why not? What does that accomplish? Well, one thing that it certainly does, as far as the telling of the story is concerned, is that it keeps the focus upon the Gibeonites and their valuing of the Lord.

And there they are, at the end of the passage: woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation. The Israelites finally found a permanent scapegoat for their most tedious chores! But do you know what else needs much wood and water? The house of God (v23), the altar of Yahweh (v27). What a blessing for him who desires to end up close to Yahweh no matter what!

When may you draw near the Lord? How urgently do you make use of those times?
Suggested songs: ARP84A “How Lovely, LORD” or TPH84B “O LORD of Hosts, How Lovely”