Friday, November 16, 2018

2018.11.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:1-14

Questions for Littles: Where did Jesus go (v1)? Who followed Him (v2a)? Why (2b)? Where did Jesus go in v3? What does v4 specifically mention as being near? What does Jesus see in v5? What did Jesus ask Philip? Why did Jesus ask this (v6)? What does Philip say would not be sufficient in v7? For what would it not even be sufficient? What does Andrew point out in v8-9? What does Jesus say for them to do in v10? How many men were there? What did Jesus do first, when He took the loaves (v11)? Then what did He do? With what did He do likewise? When did Jesus speak to the disciples the words in v12? What did He tell them? How many baskets did they gather up (v13)? Of what? What did the men who saw the sign say in v14? 
In the Gospel reading this week, the primary issue, as usual, is: who is Jesus? John led off the book telling us that Jesus displays His glory as greater than Moses, and there are many gentle reminders of that in the passage this week.

First, Jesus leads His disciples over the sea and up the mountain. Remind you of anyone? And just in case we happened to miss that, John actually interrupts the narrative to point out that the Passover is coming. The Baptizer had said that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Here, Jesus feeds a multitude with miraculous bread. As we get further into the chapter, we’ll find that the people don’t miss the connection. In fact, when Jesus urges them to believe in Him, they will counter that the reproduction of manna bread would be a belief-worthy sign.

Finally, pay careful attention to what they say in v14: “This truly is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” This is a direct reference to Moses’s own prophecy that the Lord would send a prophet like him but greater.

For Christ’s part, we still remember from chapter 3 that He was entrusting Himself to no man. His wider popularity would prove to be very temporary, but Jesus is focusing on His own disciples.

Jesus knows what He is about to do, but He asks Philip the provocative question in v5-6. He has the disciples organize the people, distribute the food, gather up the leftovers. He is displaying to them who He is, that they would behold His glory as of the only begotten of the Father. Have you beheld that glory on the pages of Scripture? What have you done about it?
How can we tell if who Jesus is to us is more important than what He does for us?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH273 “Break Thou the Bread of Life”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

2018.11.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 14:1-25

Questions for Littles: What are the Corinthians to pursue (v1)? What word in the English of v1 isn’t in the original? What does the church receive from prophecies that it does not receive from tongues (v3-5)? What is the problem with tongues (v6-11)? What spiritual effect should they seek for the church (v12)? With what does the apostle teach us to pray and sing (v14-15, 18-19)? What do others need to be able to do after praying or singing (v16)? What does this mean that they need to be during praying and singing? What does this do for them (v17)? What are tongues for (v22)? To whom? But for whom is prophecy (v22)? Yet, what happens to an unbeliever, when the church is speaking the Word of God in a language that can be understood (v24-25)? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we continue hearing about the superiority of love (a sign that the true Word has taken effect in the hearers) over tongues (a sign that the true Word has been spoken) and prophecy (the speaking of the true Word).

As the apostle told us back in 8:1, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” This building up, this edification, must be the purpose at which the exercise of spiritual roles in worship aims.

Therefore, edification takes center stage here in chapter 14, but notice what else takes center stage: the understanding. God’s method of transforming us is through the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1-2). Jesus prays that we would be sanctified by God’s Word and its truth (Jn 17:17).

So, worship should aim at edification, and it should do so by being intellectual, cerebral, theological. In fact, the “Amen” in worship is designed to be an indication that while others are speaking, the rest of the congregation is paying attention and thinking and processing what is said. Then, to show that we have done so and give ourselves up to the Word to agree with it, we say, “Amen.”

But shouldn’t worship be evangelistic? Absolutely! That’s why, v24-25 say, that it should be so theological. It is theology that God has appointed as the means of exposing the unbeliever’s heart and putting him onto his face as a worshiper! Praise God for (and by means of!) theological worship!
Where can you find worship that aims at the understanding like this?
Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry Before You Come” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Session Meeting Friday, but Prayer Meeting CANCELED for tonight (14-Nov)

Due to illness, the Session meeting that had been planned for Monday was moved to Friday the 16th at 6p.m. As usual, all are welcome.

For the same reason, tonight's (14-Nov) Prayer Meeting is canceled. We encourage everyone to take that time for use in prayer. Corporate prayer is a biblically essential, but too-little practiced, component of being a true congregation of Christ's church. Though tonight may not be corporate in the sense of being gathered, it may still be so in the sense of a concerted action.

2018.11.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 8:1-29

Questions for Littles: What does Yahweh say to Joshua in v1? What difference does the Lord permit between what they do to Ai and what they were to do to Jericho? How many men does Joshua choose in v3? How does this compare to the number from before (cf. 7:4)? What kind of attack do they make (v4)? Why (2b)? How does Joshua take advantage of the previous defeat (v5-6)? Despite all this clever planning, what explanation does Joshua give for their sure victory in v7? What does Joshua tell them to do next in v8? How many of the thirty thousand were in the ambush (v12)? How many of his people did the King of Ai call together to pursue Joshua’s first force (v16-17)? What signal did Yahweh tell Joshua to use in v18? Of what other great signal does this remind you of a the destruction of the Egyptian army? What (who!) are the sea waters this time (19-26)? What did the people of Israel take (v27)? According to whose Word? What was still the case with the place of Ai at the time this Scripture was written (28)? Was the king left alive in defiance of God’s Word (29)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we find the difference that it makes to have the Lord with you, as opposed to having the Lord against you.

Of course, one great difference is that you cannot lose in the one case, while in the other case you cannot win. But this is a little like when Joseph was sold into Egypt by his brothers. The text of Genesis at that point kept saying “Yahweh was with him… Yahweh was with him… Yahweh was with him in all that he did.” So, the careful reader says, “Yahweh being with him must affect not only the results but what he himself is like and does—what does it look like for Yahweh to be with him?”

We want to know too, for we trust the Lord and look to Him to be with us, and desire to follow Him in truth. Perhaps most surprising is that greater confidence in the Lord leads not to pride but humility. When left to himself in chapter 7, Joshua was arrogant—sending just three thousand against twelve thousand. With the Lord with him, he musters 50,000, and employs shrewd tactics rather than a frontal assault. But Joshua doesn’t urge them to put confidence in the plan but rather that the Lord has said that He has given it to them. Finally, there are a couple more instances that emphasize their following the Lord’s own Word.

When we say, “may the Lord be with me to give me success,” let us learn here that we are saying, “may the Lord be with me to give me humility,” and “may the Lord be with me to give me wisdom” and “may the Lord be with me to give me faith” and “may the Lord be with me to give me obedience.”
In what situation do you most need the Lord with you right now? What does courage look like in that situation? Humility? Cleverness? Faith? Obedience?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH164 “God Himself Is with Us”

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”

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018.11.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 7

Questions for Littles: Whom does it say committed a trespass in v1? But who had specifically done this? What did Joshua send men to Ai to do (v2)? What counsel did the men give (v3)? How many did Joshua send to fight (v4)? What happened to them? How many actually died (v5)? But what was the result in the hearts of the people of Israel? How did Joshua respond (v6)? In front of what did he respond like this? What does he ask God if the Lord about why He brought the people over the Jordan (v7)? What argument does Joshua make—what does he say is at stake in v9? What does the Lord tell Joshua to do in v10? Of what does He inform Joshua in v11? What will the Lord not do with them anymore until they remove the accursed thing from among them (12)? What is Joshua to do to the people in v13? What will the process be, to identify who has the accursed thing in v14? What must be done to the person who has it (v15)? What tribe, clan, family, and household does the Lord identify in v16-18? What does Joshua tell Achan to do in v19? What had Achan taken and where had he put them (v20-23)? What does Joshua say to Achan? What does all Israel do to him? What did they raise over him in v26? How does the Lord respond?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we learn how seriously the Lord takes His holiness, and just how seriously we ought to as well.

If the Lord says that something is set apart to Him, then it is entirely set apart to Him. There are no “little things.” We reveal that we just don’t get it, if we are horrified at what happens to Achan.

We should instead have been horrified that someone was willing to take even the smallest thing that had been set apart to destruction before the Lord. We should have been horrified that anyone was willing to value their possessions ahead of participating faithfully in the life of God’s people. We should have been horrified that, as the Lord continued to narrow down and single out Achan, he waited all the way until Joshua commanded him before he actually confessed.

The interesting thing is that people are going to a much worse fate than we read about here from Achan, and we seem to be bothered relatively little. Parents are leading their children in godless, worldly lives—bringing them along straight to the everlasting flames of Hell. Are we horrified at that?

Even more than the astonishment of horror, let us stir ourselves up to a great astonishment of trust and worship. For, though each one of us deserves far worse than Achan received, it was the Lord Jesus Himself, who never sinned in the slightest, that bore the fire of God’s wrath so that the Lord’s fierce anger would turn away from us. Praise the Lord!
What do you do with God’s holy day? Holy worship? Holy Word? Holy Name?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches?” or TPH230 “Holy, Holy, Holy”

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

2018.11.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 5

Questions for Littles: What did the One on the throne have in v1? What question does the strong angel ask in v2? What was v3’s answer to the question? How did John respond to this (v4)? Whom did the elder say had prevailed to be able to do it (v6)? When John looks for this Lion in v6, what does he see (v6)? What does the Lamb come and take in v7? What had Jesus taken in v8? What do the four living creatures and twenty-four elders do when they see this? What does v8 call Jesus? What does a harp represent? What does the verse tell us the bowls of incense represent? What kind of song did they sing in v9? What did they say Jesus was worthy to do? Why do they say that He is worthy? What has Jesus made out of those whom He has redeemed (v10)? What does John see in v11? How many angels were there? What were they saying in v12? With what kind of voice? How many of the creatures in heaven were doing so (v13)? How many of those on the earth? How many of those under the earth? How many of those in the sea? To whom were they shouting this blessing and honor and glory and power? What did the four living creatures say in v14? What did the twenty-four elders do? What does v14 call Jesus?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Revelation 4:11-5:14.

Every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every knee and every tongue on earth. Every knee and every tongue in heaven.

No one else has the power to control all of history. And our Lord Jesus exercises this power to control in two infinitely important ways. First, He crushes His enemies. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is the Root of David. He has prevailed. He has crushed the serpent’s head!

But the truly glorious thing is the way that He did this. As we quoted earlier from Philippians 2, perhaps you remembered how that comes about it: Jesus Christ, for whom equality with God was not something that had to be grasped at, humbled Himself to become a man, and especially to die the death of the cross as a man.

So, when John looks for this Lion that the elder has told him about in Revelation 5, what does he see? Not a Lion but a Lamb… and not just any Lamb, but a Lamb that appears that it has been slain!

It is this, specifically, Jesus’s being saving us by shedding His blood for us, that makes heaven and earth explode with His praises! How about for you?
What about Jesus and what He has done brings out your praise the most?
Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH431 “And Can It Be That I Should Gain”

Monday, November 5, 2018

2018.11.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:24-27

Questions for Littles: Who commanded the earth to bring forth the living creature? What three classes of kinds did He command it to bring forth? According to what did He command it to bring forth? According to what did God make the beast of the earth (v25)? According to what did God make the cattle? According to what did God make everything that creeps? What did God see? Then what did God say in v26? Whom did He say should produce the man? In what? According to what? What would the man have over the other creatures? What does God repeat twice in v27? What does God specifically mention about man at the end of v27? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we see many differences between man and animals that help us understand how to live in the renewed image of God as redeemed Christians.

First, while it is the animals’ job to reproduce after their own kind, it is mankind’s job to emphasize His likeness in us. Thinking about just some of the things that we have seen about God in this chapter, that means orderliness, diligence, goodness, discernment, generosity, and delight in life.

The problem is that fallen people don’t naturally image God in this way. When the Pharisees refused to believe in Jesus, He told them that they were of their father the devil. So, being fruitful and multiplying means something far more significant than having a bunch of babies.

It means family worship. It means discipline and instruction. It means keeping the Lord’s Day. It means getting to the public worship and teaching and prayer of the church. It means eagerly receiving the shepherding of the elders. For parents, it means: making use of all of those means of grace by which our covenant Lord has promised to save our children. Not in a season of having children? Being fruitful and multiplying also means doing your part for the congregation’s covenant children while also devoting yourself to evangelism of those outside of the congregation.

Second, we see that we are to fill the earth and subdue it. In other words, the entire planet is to be managed and adjusted in order to be made habitable for man—not in wasteful or ugly ways, but certainly with such variety and creativity and beauty in every different kind of place until the whole earth is filled with image-bearers imitating the Lord in all His glorious character. That is the true environmentalism!

Finally, we see that we have a duty to take dominion over the creatures. This, of course, does not mean to abuse the creatures. How could one think that after seeing what God has done throughout the creation to prepare and provide for each creature?! But it does mean valuing other people above all the animals, which is a proper recognition of the image of God in those people. And it means managing the other creatures well, so that they may afford people as much health, help, comfort, and pleasure as possible.
What part of Jesus’ plan for making and multiplying Christians could you most improve in?
Suggested Songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH8B “Lord, Our Lord, in All the Earth”

Saturday, November 3, 2018

2018.11.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:24-27

Questions for Littles: Who commanded the earth to bring forth the living creature? What three classes of kinds did He command it to bring forth? According to what did He command it to bring forth? According to what did God make the beast of the earth (v25)? According to what did God make the cattle? According to what did God make everything that creeps? What did God see? Then what did God say in v26? Whom did He say should produce the man? In what? According to what? What would the man have over the other creatures? What does God repeat twice in v27? What does God specifically mention about man at the end of v27?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we read about God creating living beings who reside upon the earth. He names three classes of them: cattle, creeping things, and beasts. More importantly, He mentions that within those three classes, what He specifically creates is each kind.

This is just the latest in a series of clear incompatibilities between how God actually created according to Scripture, and the imaginary human theory of evolution. So-called “theistic evolutionists” would have us believe that we can hold onto Genesis 1:24-27 with one hand, while with the other hand we hold onto the idea that one kind came from another kind.

This simply isn’t possible. Just as God commanded that each plant kind would produce only the seed for its kind, so now He simultaneously creates all of the different land animal kinds. The kinds that we have are not the result of one different kind descending from another. They all existed already on day six.

Thus, evolutionary theory is exactly opposite Scripture, with the Bible agreeing with what we have observed: animals only ever produce their own kind, and never ever (not even once) a different or new kind.

Of course, where things will get interesting is when we get to the creation of mankind. Rather than being created according to the “man” kind, man is repeatedly described as being created in God’s image.

This is the most important disagreement with evolution. Man is not a kind of animal at all. Created in the image of God, He is completely unique among the creatures.

This, of course, is a foreshadowing, because there is an even greater way that man is unique among the creatures. One day, the Creator Himself will become a man. What a precious thing is a human being in the eyes of the Living God!
What people are you most tempted to value less than you should?
Suggested Songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH8B “Lord, Our Lord, in All the Earth”

Friday, November 2, 2018

2018.11.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 5:24-30

Questions for Littles: Who is speaking in this passage? Whose word does the person He is talking about hear? In whom does that person believe? What does that person have? What shall they not come into? From what have they passed? Into what have they passed? What does Jesus say is coming in v25? What does Jesus say now is? What kind of people will hear the voice of the Son of God? What will happen to those who hear? Who has life in Himself in v26? To whom has He granted to have life in Himself? What else has He given Him authority to do (v27)? Why? What does He tell them not to do in v28? Why not? Whom does v28 now say will hear His voice? What will they all do (v29)? To what kind of resurrection will those who have done good come? To what kind of resurrection will those who have done evil come? What can Jesus do of Himself (v30)? How does He determine what to judge? What is righteous in v30? Whose will does Jesus not seek? Whose will does Jesus seek?
In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus teaches us about spiritual death and bodily death.

First, Jesus teaches us about Spiritual death: the state of unbelief. The one who believes has everlasting life because he has already passed from death into life. A believer is someone who is already spiritually alive.

Well, how did the believer come alive spiritually? v25 tells us the answer: the dead hear Christ’s voice, and those who hear His voice live. Are you looking for spiritual life? Come prayerfully under the preaching of Scripture, where Hebrews (and other passages) tells us that Jesus addresses us with His Word. Ask that you would hear Him. Those who hear Him will live!

But we also learn about bodily death: that it is temporary. There is a bodily resurrection coming, also at the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what comes of us in that bodily resurrection depends upon whether or not we have been made spiritually alive.

We cannot earn the resurrection of life. That comes only by the grace of Jesus. But that grace does make us spiritually alive to do good. So, it is no surprise that it is those who have done good who receive a resurrection of life.

But woe unto him who is never made spiritually alive. Such a person is spiritually dead throughout his life on earth, and can only have been said to have done evil. Therefore, our passage warns that this person will most certainly come out of his grave—unto a resurrection of condemnation.

So, both salvation and condemnation announce to us that Jesus is the living God. Who can save but God alone? Who can judge and condemn but God alone? And it is God the Son who does both!
How are you making the most of your opportunities to hear the voice of Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP29 “You Sons of the Gods” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Thursday, November 1, 2018

2018.11.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 12

Questions for Littles: What is this passage “concerning” (v1)? What does the apostle want them not to be? What had they been (v2)? Regardless of how they were led, to what kind of idols had they been carried away? What had some who claimed to be speaking by the Spirit said about Jesus (v3)? What were others saying when they were taken over by the Holy Spirit? By what diverse things did this Spirit-speech come (v4)? What is another name for these gifts (v5)? What is another (v6)? But what is there only one of for this (v4)? And only one of (v5)? And only one of (v6)? For whom were these manifestations being given (v7)? What was one kind of word the Spirit gave (8a)? And another kind of word the Spirit gave (8b)? And what were different signs that the Spirit gave about these words (v9b, v10a, v10b, v10c, v10d, v10e)? And what was the Spirit, the Lord, the God who works all in all, working through these words that were being attested by these signs (v9a, 11)? How many bodies does Christ have (v12)? What do all members of the body have from the Spirit (v13)? What do all do into the Spirit? How many members does the body have (v14)? What should a member never say about itself (v15-19)? What should a member never say about another member (v20-21)? What should the members of the body be giving to one another according to vv22-24? What should the members of the body be giving to one another according to v25? What else should we be doing for one another (v26)? What activity (just as with vv4-11) has the central focus in the roles described in v28-31? What would the “best gifts” be, and who would have them? What kind of way is the next passage going to describe? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we begin hearing about spiritual life. Notice that I did not write spiritual “gifts.” That is because they, in fact, are not the focus here. v1 does not mention gifts, but simply spiritual (things/life).

They had had no spiritual life previously, because they followed idols that could not talk. True, demons sometimes talked (and still were—saying that Jesus was still accursed!). But there was no true revelation, and there was no spiritual life through it.

That was a stark contrast with real spirituality, in real Christianity, which was all through the Word. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word. Naturally, everyone wanted to be one through whom the Word came, or through whom the Word-authenticating signs came.

But that wasn’t a role that was for everyone. What were the roles for everyone? Faith—which came only by the work of God the Holy Spirit!... nothing to sniff at!! And recognizing oneself as part of the body. And recognizing others as part of the body. And honoring those in the body who seemed to be the least. And not having division among the body but caring for every single member. And suffering with one another. And rejoicing over one another’s honors.

These were the real evidences of Holy-Spirit-power!
What 1Cor 12 evidences of Holy Spirit power do you see? Can you be a part of?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

2018.10.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 6

Questions for Littles: What has been done to the city of Jericho, according to v1? What does Yahweh tell Joshua He has done with Jericho in v2? How many times are they to go around the city each day for six days (v3)? How many times will they go around the seventh day (v4)? What will the priests do with their ram’s horns on that day? What will all the people do at that point (v5)? And what will happen when the people shout? Which direction should each man go, when the wall falls down? What went behind the armed men and the priests as they marched around the city? What did the people not do at all during the march around the city on each of the first six days (v10)? Yet what did the priests do continually each of the six days (v13-14)? What did Joshua finally tell them to do in v16? What instruction do we find out about in v17? Why isn’t it likely that this was the first time that this instruction was given? What are they warned not to take at all in v18? What are they commanded to do with the items in v19? What are those items? Whose sparing is mentioned in v17, then again in vv22-23, and then again in v25? What curse is pronounced in v26? How does v27 summarize the point of this entire chapter?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we find at the end that Joshua chapter 6 was evidence that the Lord was with Joshua. Well, if that’s the main point, then what is this chapter telling us about the Lord?

First, it’s telling us that the Lord is powerful. Jericho’s doing it right: the city is shut up securely. Israel’s doing it wrong: having daily parades. But it doesn’t matter—so great is the exceeding power of the Lord that His “giving Jericho into Israel’s hand” is the only thing that matters from a military strategy perspective.

Second, it’s telling us that the Lord is gracious and faithful. Yes, we can see this in the fact that these newly circumcised, Passover-celebrating, manna-no-longer-eating children of a faithless and wicked generation are here conquering a great city. But, we can see it most of all in whom the Lord saves right out of the wall. The whole wall falls down except, presumably, the section of it that is Rahab’s house. And whom is the Lord saving? A harlot. And according to what is He saving her? According to promise. The Lord is gracious and faithful.

Finally, this passage is telling us that the Lord is holy. He is holy, holy, holy. Sinners deserve ultimate destruction. Everything that belongs to them is defiled and deserves destruction. Even little children and livestock. We may have a hard time with this, but that is only because we do not properly value the holiness of the Lord. It just highlights His grace to Israel and Rahab for us to see what all of us sinners deserve. He is holy, and worship and treasure are to be set apart to Him!

Joshua’s fame spreads as someone who has Yahweh with him. And may the Lord ever spread the fame of His church in the same way—not that we are great and impressive, but that we are a people in whose life the Lord is shown to be powerful, gracious, faithful, and holy!
What was one time when you were overwhelmed by how holy the Lord is?
Suggested songs: ARP32 “What Blessedness” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

2018.10.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 28:18-20

Questions for Littles: Who came and spoke to them? How much authority has been given to Him? Which authority has been given to Him? What are they to make, therefore? By what two actions are disciples made? Into what single name are they baptized? What are they taught to do with Jesus’s commands? How many of them? Who is with them always, as they make disciples? Even until when? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Matthew 28:18-20.

This is commonly called the great commission, but we can see from the beginning of the passage that it is Jesus’ great mission. It is, after all, what Jesus does with all of the authority in heaven and on earth.

What would you do with all of the authority in heaven and on earth? What Jesus does is sustain His disciples in making disciples. This is what disciples do: make disciples.

There are two things that Jesus commands here for making a disciple. The first is baptizing. Mark them as belonging to Him. Notice the singular name (not here plural, as three names, but singular as one tri-fold name): the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Triune God puts His name upon someone to make that person a disciple.

But they are made disciples not only by baptizing but by teaching. Again, let us notice something very subtle: it is not merely the commandments of Christ that are being taught here. This is not something that can be fulfilled in a classroom. Rather, it is the observation of the commands that is to be taught. This is not merely a way of thinking, but a way of life.

So—Jesus declares His authority, tells them what He wants them to do under that authority, and leaves them to get to it? No, no, no! Just as the commission is Jesus’s mission that He pursues by His authority, so also the success of the baptizing and teaching relies not upon themselves but upon Him.

This is one great reason why it’s so glorious when we see the fruit of one’s baptism and instruction—that he who receives the mark of Christ begins more and more to live His live according to the commands of Christ. It’s glorious because Jesus highlights this fruitfulness as indicative of the fact that He is STILL with His church.

Week by week, month by month, Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church!” A covenant child professes his faith, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” A father learns to lead his family, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” A woman overcomes her habitual gossip, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.” An elderly widower serves others in peace and joy, and Jesus announces, “I am STILL with my church.”
Where are you currently growing? What is Jesus still with you to help you do?
Suggested songs: ARP180 “Christ Shall Have Dominion” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”

Monday, October 29, 2018

2018.10.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:20-23

Questions for Littles: What is God doing at the beginning of v20? What does He say? What does He command to fly above the earth? Did they exist yet? Before the face of what do they fly? From what did God create the great sea creatures (v21)? What else did He create from nothing? What did the waters do with them? According to what were they created? According to what were the winged birds created? What did God do them in v22? And what did He command them to do? Then what came (v23)? And then what came? And what did that conclude? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard about “the great sea creatures.”

The word translated “sea creature” is elsewhere translated “Leviathan.” Among Israel, and the nations that surrounded them, unbelievers commonly thought of the Leviathan as an almost-mythical beast that was a physical manifestation of an evil god.

In the book of Job, where Job feels that everything is against him, and (even though Job didn’t know it) it was in fact Satan who had attacked him, one of the things of which God reminds Job is that Leviathan is under His absolute control.

Here, the Lord does not merely mention a single leviathan, but He uses the plural, leviathans. This isn’t some being of greatness to rival God. It’s a creature that is to be fruitful and multiply like the other creatures. In fact, it’s not just leviathans, but great leviathans in v21.

God delights to make impressively large fearsome creatures. Not so that we will be so fearful of the creature that we treat it like some kind of great demon. But so that we will see the impressive creation and be all the more impressed with its sovereign, almighty Creator.

Yes, in comparative size and strength, we may be closer to the minnows than the great leviathans. But that’s just it, isn’t it: not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from our God. He commanded the minnows to be fruitful and multiply because He delights in them as His creatures.

How much more with you, dear Christian? Though you feel ever so small, He has revealed Himself here already as God of the small. And small though you be, He not only created You in His own image, but He has taken upon Himself your humanity to save you. He is Lord over the great for the sake of the small. He is working all things for your good!
What great problems have you feeling small? How does Genesis 1:21 help you?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

Saturday, October 27, 2018

2018.10.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:20-23

Questions for Littles: What is God doing at the beginning of v20? What does He say? What does He command to fly above the earth? Did they exist yet? Before the face of what do they fly? From what did God create the great sea creatures (v21)? What else did He create from nothing? What did the waters do with them? According to what were they created? According to what were the winged birds created? What did God do them in v22? And what did He command them to do? Then what came (v23)? And then what came? And what did that conclude?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we’ll be hearing about God “bara”-ing again: creating from nothing. Whether it’s ancient near-eastern religions or “modern” science, so many have tried to explain the great variety and abundance of life as coming from the sea.

But Scripture tells us the reason that there is such an abundance and variety—NOT because the sea has such power to produce life, but because God commanded that abundance to exist there, then created it out of nothing to exist there.

Have you ever seen a school of fish on a nature show or a giant flock of birds during migration? There can be no doubt that the sea and the sky are FULL of thriving life. But rather than being an indication that the sea is very “fertile,” it is a display of our Lord’s delight in abundant life.

In fact, the Lord commands these new creatures to be fruitful and to multiply. When we hear the same thing to man on Day 6, we will understand that the Lord wants this world to be FULL of image-bearing, God-glorifying, in-God-delighting people.

There’s a how-much-more argument here. God is already displaying His delight in multiplying abundance on day four. Now, if that was true of birds and fish, how-much-more is it true of man on day six?

Why emphasize this point? Because we live in a world where anti-theists—and, sadly, even many professing Christians—speak and act as if there are already too many people in the world. Christians should be a people who choose people over rare insect ecosystems, children over possessions and vacations, who fight abortion and euthanasia with all that they are—who love life.
What kind of people are you most likely to despise? How should that change?
Suggested Songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH8B “Lord, Our Lord, in All the Earth”

Friday, October 26, 2018

2018.10.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 5:16-23

Questions for Littles: Whom were the Jews persecuting (v16)? What did they seek to do to Him? Why? Who answers them (v17)? Whom does He say is still working? Who is working now? Whom do the Jews seek all the more to kill in v18? Why-what did they think He had broken? With whom did Jesus make Himself equal? Who answers them in v19? What can Jesus do without His Father? How much of what the Father does, does Jesus do? What is the Father’s attitude toward the Son (v20)? What does the Father show the Son? How were Jesus’s coming works going to compare to healing the man who had been paralyzed for 38 years? What does v21 say the Father does? To whom does the Son give life? Whom does the Father judge (v22)? To Whom has all judgment been committed? Whom must everyone honor (v23)? If someone doesn’t honor Jesus, whom else do they not honor?
In the Gospel reading this week, the Holy Spirit overwhelms us with Christ’s glory.

First, Jesus is equal with God. Because the Jews had understood Him rightly, Jesus doesn’t correct their idea but infuriates them even more by making several more claims to equality with God!

Second, Jesus is One with God. First, He says that His actions are actually God’s actions (the Son can do nothing of Himself), but far more amazingly, God’s actions are actually His actions (whatever the Father does, the Son also does in like manner). This is astonishing. To all mere men, God says “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so much higher are My ways than your ways and My thoughts than Your thoughts.” We cannot even know “whatever the Father does.” Jesus claims not only to know all the works of God but to do all the works of God.

Third, the Father loves the Son. Everything the Father does, He does out of love for the Son! How can anyone ever be lost while clinging to Christ?!

Fourth, the Son’s will determines who will be saved. Yes, the Father has chosen the elect in His Son. But the Son has also chosen to give life to whomever He will. Here is a level of God’s sovereignty so great that many professing believers refuse even to attribute it to the Father. But here, Christ claims this sovereign will for Himself.

Fifth, the Son is at least as honored as the Father. This is the very reason that the Father has committed all judgment to Him!

Finally, NO ONE who fails to acknowledge Jesus as everlasting God will be acknowledged to honor the Father.

Now Jew is ever saved except by believing in Jesus. No one from any other religion whatsoever can be saved. All religions (cults) that claim to accept the Bible while denying the eternal Godhood of Christ are utterly false and cannot honestly consider Him even a good teacher since they so completely disagree with Him on this point. Islam. Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mormonism.

Even Roman Catholicism is utterly bankrupted by this passage. Who could possibly pray to Mary or any saint when they can pray to such a Christ? Even worse—what mere human’s works could we ever add to the works of Christ to improve them? Such rubbish thoughts are from the pit of Hell.

Finally, dear Christian, do you see how loved you are? The Father who loves and honors His Son the way that this passage describes has chosen You in the Beloved (cf. Eph 1:3)! The Son, whose special display of His own divinity is to choose to whom to give life, has chosen to give You whatever spiritual life You have! How infinitely great is Christ’s love for you! How infinitely great is Christ’s worthiness for you! Rest in Him as all of your righteousness and salvation, and you will surely be saved!
How are you developing the mental habit of dwelling upon and remembering Christ’s love and worthiness?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

2018.10.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 11:17-34

Questions for Littles: Was the Corinthians’ coming together making it better or worse (17)? What was the first reason that coming together for church was actually hurting them instead of helping them (18)? What is one reason that God allows these divisions—these factions—in the church (19)? Whose Supper, then, were they not eating (20)? Because whose supper were each of them taking (21)? From whom did Paul receive these instructions about the Supper (23)? What did Jesus take on the night He was betrayed (23)? When He gave thanks, what did He do with it (24)? What did He say? When did He take up the cup (25)? What did He say about it? What do eating the bread and drinking the cup proclaim (show forth) (26)? And for how long? If someone eats or drinks in the wrong way (“an unworthy manner”) of what are they guilty (27)? What is someone to do about the way he takes the Lord’s Supper (28)? What happens to us if we are wrong about that (29)? What was happening to them because they were taking wrong (30-32)? What should we do at the Lord’s Supper, when we come together to eat (33)? If we are hungry for food, what are we to do (34)? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn about the Lord’s Supper—one of the great gifts that the Lord Jesus uses to bless us in worship. But, it was hurting the Corinthians instead of helping them. Why? Because everyone was seeking their own interests (v21). It was a spill-over from the division in their church (v18) that God was using to expose the hearts of some who were not even believers (v19).

But even believers were getting caught up in this division and self-interest. v32 tells us that some who were being judged with death were those who would not be condemned with the world. That doesn’t surprise us. Believers are sinners. We nurse bitterness, color others ugly with our words.

But of course the Lord’s Supper must never be the place for this. Jesus was betrayed for His church. Jesus died for this church. And Jesus gives Himself to His church, at the Lord’s Supper in particular. When He is giving Himself to us, we must not come to the table for anything else. And when He is giving Himself to our brothers and sisters, we must not come to the table with hearts divided against them.

He gives us bread to eat. But He tells us that He is feeding us upon Himself. He gives us a cup to drink. But He tells us that this is a covenant pledge—an action of announcing and confirming His bond with us and our bond with Him.

So, if we are just trying to have a snack, or trying to display ourselves, or make ourselves feel a certain way… then we are ignoring Jesus. And if we aren’t recognizing that the ones taking the Supper with us were so precious to Him that He is doing the same for them, then we are ignoring Jesus.

And if we are ignoring Jesus at the Lord’s Supper, we are not just guilty of a procedural error, or momentary gluttony, or even failing to reconcile with a brother. If we are ignoring Jesus at the moment that He is giving Himself to us as fruit of His work on the cross, then we are sinning against the body and blood of Jesus.

This is the great self-examination as we come to the table. It’s not trying to figure out if we’re spiritual enough, or repentant enough, or believing enough. It’s a questioning of whether we are coming because we know ourselves to be sinners, and we know Christ to be our only hope. It’s a questioning of whether as we come, we will look to Christ by faith and rejoice that He gives Himself to our brothers and sisters, as well as to us.
Why do you take the Lord’s Supper? What are you looking for as you take? Are you also thinking about your brothers and sisters who are taking the supper? With whom do you need to reconcile, so that you can rejoice for them? 
Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or TPH201 “’Twas on That Night When Doomed to Know”

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

2018.10.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 5:13-15

Questions for Littles: Where was Joshua by? What did he see? What did the Man have in His hand? What did Joshua ask? What did the Man answer in v14? Whose army was He commanding? What does Joshua do? What does Joshua ask? What does the Commander of Yahweh’s army tell Joshua to do (v15)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, Joshua meets the God of the bush on Mount Sinai.

It’s a surprising meeting. The Lord has exalted Joshua in the eyes of Israel, so what Joshua needs more than anything is to be humbled before the God of Israel.

Rachael’s been waiting in her Jericho-wall-apartment for going on four chapters now. The invasion has been postponed by one dramatic event after another. And now… as Joshua is right by Jericho…

The Captain of Yahweh’s army appears. Joshua begins from a position of strength, “Are you for us, or for our enemies?” It’s a challenge from someone who is confident. Really, Joshua expects the answer to be one or the other. But the surprising answer is, “No.”

No? No. You might think that He would answer, “I am for you.” After all, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And it is true, the Lord would be fighting for Israel. But that is not the point of this particular interview. The point is that God’s allegiance to His people is never in question. What is in question, however, is God’s people’s allegiance to Him.

Joshua gets the message and falls on his face, worshiping. Don’t let that be lost upon you. By the time Joshua asks the next question, he is already on his face, worshiping.

What message can be so important that the Captain of Yahweh’s hosts would personally appear to deliver it to Joshua, now that he is by Jericho? Is it some last-minute intel from the city? Is it a last-minute tweak of strategy?

No. It’s a wardrobe command. Remove your sandals. There are a couple of surprising things here. First, Joshua’s feet aren’t even on the ground! Second, why would Yahweh show up to tell Joshua that the ground is holy, when the ground wasn’t even holy until Yahweh made this appearance?

The point is clear: far more important than any knowledge of Jericho, far more important than any knowledge of strategy, is the knowledge of the greatness of the holiness of God. Do you have that knowledge, dear believer?

Are you, first and foremost, awed and dwarfed by the white-hot holiness of the Lord? Or are you perhaps preoccupied with trying to figure out what’s going on in the circumstances of your life? Or coming up with a strategy of how to change those circumstances? The most important thing for any of us to know is the holiness of the Lord!                     

Our greatest danger is not on earth. It is the holiness of God against which we have sinned. Our only help is not on earth. It is our holy Redeemer who sits at God’s right hand! Unless we are convinced of God’s infinite holiness, we will miss the Redeemer and suffer infinite, eternal wrath.
How and when do you intentionally acquaint and affect yourself with the holiness of God?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH230 “Holy, Holy, Holy”

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

2018.10.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 73

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 22, 2018

2018.10.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:14-19

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 20, 2018

2018.10.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:14-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

2018.10.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 5:1-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

2018.10.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 5:1-12

Questions for Littles: What did the kings of the Amorites and the kings of the lowland Canaanites hear that Yahweh had done (v1)? For whom? What happened to their hearts as a result? What did they not have in them any longer? What did Yahweh tell Israel to do “at that time” (v2)? What did Joshua do (v3)? What did that place end up being called? What happened to the war-aged males who came out of Egypt (v4)? Who had been circumcised (v5)? Who had not been? How long had Israel walked in the wilderness (v6)? What had happened during that time? Why? But what does Joshua do with their sons (v7)? What did they do when they had finished circumcising all the people (v8)? For how long? What did God declare that He had done (v9)? What did they call the place? What did Israel do there (v10)? From what did they eat the day after the Passover (v11)? What kind of food was there? What ceased the day after they had eaten (v12)? What did they have instead?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we are astonished by grace.

It’s not really proper to say that those who were circumcised were orphans. The Lord had exercised great grace toward them by prolonging the lives of their parents. Though they deserved immediate execution, the Lord allowed them to fall slowly in the wilderness.

However, they were something worse than orphans. They were spiritual orphans. The Lord famously pronounces judgment upon them as having rebellious hearts (Ps 95) and hard hearts (Heb 3-4). And that hardness of heart is seen in more than just their one-time buying into the report of the spies. Their whole lives long, they had not circumcised their children.

They had not submitted themselves as belonging to the Lord. They had not submitted their children as belonging to the Lord. They had not obeyed God’s covenant command for God’s covenant sign. The Lord had almost killed Moses for disobeying this command (cf. Ex 4:21-26)! They had not recognized the sin of their hearts, and that they needed God to cut away their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh and remove from them their guilt by the shedding of blood.

Now, here is something sobering. How would we look by the same measure? Especially when so much of the church commits the error of viewing baptism as a testimony that we make about God and how we have believed in Him, rather than a testimony that God makes about us and how He has saved us.

But aren’t those of us who understand the sign better even more culpable? Are we living as those whom God has set aside as holy unto Himself? Are we treating His covenant children in our homes as His own—spending all day, every day, training them up in trusting and loving and obeying and serving their Lord? Is it possible that there is so little thought of Him and His Word that our children are spiritual orphans of physically living parents?

But here’s the sweetness of our passage: the Lord is gathering these spiritual orphans to Himself. He has melted the hearts of their enemies, whereas their earthly parents’ hearts had melted before their enemies. And now He gathers them to Himself and circumcises them, whereas their earthly parents had neglected to do so. Finally, He feeds them something much greater than manna. Manna was a stop-gap measure until they ate the blessed fruit of kept promises in the promised land!

Whether for ourselves or for our children: the solution to our unfaithfulness is our faithful God!
How does your life show submission to God’s signs? What is your hope—your faithfulness or His?
Suggested songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Audio Recording of Study Class on Principles for Correct Bible Study (Hermeneutics)

Usually, the study hour doesn't make for riveting listening. On October 7, however, we were studying one of the most important subjects for Christians (and one upon which there is so little clear teaching): how to study the Bible.

In God's good providence, that morning's sermon turned out to be a good case study for applying the three main considerations for good Bible interpretation:
(1) The immediate literary context: how does this passage fit into this book of the Bible? What type of literature is this? What do the words mean, in context, and how do the verb tenses inform us of what is being communicated here, particularly, and also within the overall teaching of this Bible book? etc.
(2) The original historical context: how was the Lord interacting with His people who first received this book? Do we know who the human author was, and who the first human audience was? If so, what do we know about their circumstances, as they received this part of the Bible? What was God teaching them about Himself and doing in their lives? What was He teaching them about themselves and what He wanted them to do? Since God never changes, what considerations about their particular place in the history of redemption inform us of what we can take away from this passage about the answers to those questions about them that might apply in our own lives?
(3) The theology of this passage in the context of the Bible as a whole (a.k.a. "The analogy of faith"): Since Scripture is the only authoritative interpreter of Scripture... what other passages treat the same subjects as this one? How do they help us understand this passage better? How does this passage help us understand those passages better?

If we have a healthy ministry of preaching and teaching, the elders (and especially the teaching elders) will be modeling correct handling of the Word of God for us, and we will be increasing our skill in applying these principles/considerations to our own Bible study. How blessed will be the children who grow up in a home where dad is leading them through the Scriptures, read and understood in this biblical fashion!

That's the basic content of the class, but you may also find it helpful to listen to audio of the class teaching and interaction:

Once you are thinking about these three things, here is the sermon that immediately followed the class. See if you can identify how each one of the three types of considerations helped us understand something about the meaning of the text and its application to our lives:

2018.10.16 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, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin 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, October 15, 2018

2018.10.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:9-13

Questions for Littles: Who told the waters under the heavens to be gathered together into one place (v9)? What would appear when they did? Who called to the dry land with its new name (v10)? What did He call it? Who called to the gathering together of the waters with their new name? What did He call it? What did God see about the earth and the seas? What command does God give about the earth in v11? What did God command that the herb/plant would yield/produce? What kind of seed would it produce? What did God command that the fruit tree would yield? What would be in the fruit? What kind of fruit and seed would a fruit tree produce? What did the earth bring forth in v12? How much time passes between v11 and v12? What did God see about the three types of things that the earth brought forth? Then what two things happened (v13)? And what did this conclude?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned that God puts His creation in a position to thrive as well as giving it the power to thrive.

We know that this doesn’t mean that the creatures are left to themselves and their own power. Scripture tells us that God upholds all things by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). God works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).

So, why does God create means for His creatures to thrive? Why not just make things happen immediately and miraculously?

Our God reveals Himself as One who delights in creating means to an end, and then blessing those means to that end. He has appointed means, and He honors them.

What are God’s means for your physical health? We trust in God for physical health—yes, by praying for it, but also by eating well and exercising and sleeping properly, etc.

What are God’s means for your spiritual growth? We trust in God for spiritual health—yes, by praying for it, but also by reading His Word daily, and praying according to His Word, and by keeping the Lord’s Day with its public and private exercises of worship.

God appoints means, and He honors them. What are His means for saving and growing your children? What are His means for growing His church?
Why isn’t it “trusting” God to “let go and let God”? What IS trusting in God?
Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd”

Saturday, October 13, 2018

2018.10.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:9-13

Questions for Littles: What did God command to gather into one place in v9? What did He command to appear? What did God call the dry land (v10)? What did God call the gathering of the waters? What did God see in v10? What did God command the earth to bring forth in v11? According to what was it determined what type of seed each grass or plant or tree would produce? What did God see about this in v12? What did evening and morning bring a conclusion to (v13)? 
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we will be hearing about God’s creation of the all of the amazing, thriving vegetation in our world. All of this plant life needs two things: place and power.

First, God gives it a place. He commands the water to gather in one place and reveal the dried out land. He commands the land itself to bring forth all of the grass, and all of the plants, and all of the trees. When we marvel at all the different types of soil that are perfect for so very many types of plants, we marvel at the power and wisdom of God.

And we need to apply this to our own place, too. The country into which we were born. The family into which God brought us. The church in which He makes us to grow up. Sometimes, we may be tempted to give ourselves credit for putting ourselves in a place or position to do well. But there is enough in our lives to affirm what we see here in Scripture, in the creation of all of the vegetation: God created the place for us and put us there.

Second, God gives the vegetation power to reproduce. Did you notice that God’s Word makes the ground produce the plants? Usually, it’s seeds that do that! So, God shows that He is ultimately the One who enables the plants to reproduce. He doesn’t just give them the seeds; He does the same work later with seeds that He did at first with His Word.

Now—whether with His Word in our spiritual lives, or any other success or fruitfulness that comes from us, don’t we know that the same is true? The Lord gives us means, and He expects us to make use of them. But He also teaches us to recognize that He is the One who makes them effectual. So, we need to put all our trust in Him (not us!) and give all praise to Him (not us!)
How does trusting help against fear? How does praising help against pride?
Suggested Songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or TPH551 “We Plow the Fields”

Friday, October 12, 2018

2018.10.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 4:43-54

Questions for Littles: How many days did Jesus stay with the Samaritans who were believing in Him (v43)? Where did He go after that? What had Jesus Himself testified (v44)? But what does v45 say the Galileans did? What had they seen? To where did Jesus come again in v46? What had He done there before? What kind of man did He meet there? What had happened to the nobleman’s son? Where was the son? What did the nobleman ask Jesus to do in v47? What did Jesus say to him in v48? But what did the nobleman say was about to happen to his son (v49)? What did Jesus tell the man in v50? And what did the man believe? What did the man’s servants come tell him in v51? At what moment had the son been healed? Who believed in Jesus as a result of this? What does v54 call Jesus’s healing of the nobleman’s son?
In the Gospel reading this week, we were reminded that Jesus’s miracles were not just to make people feel better or live longer before they died. Jesus’s miracles were signs. They announced who He is.

Yes, there is healing love here for a desperate father and a sick son. But there is something more. There is saving love for a household of sinners.

We must never think that Jesus is being rude, when He says things like, “Unless y’all see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” Our Lord is perfectly full of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, including gentleness and kindness.

The fact of the matter is that it’s true. We are a hard-hearted people. But did you notice that the nobleman believed before his son had been healed? What was it that caused the man to believe?
It was “the word that Jesus spoke to Him.”

Jesus Himself—His incarnation and death and resurrection—is the greatest sign and wonder. And we and our whole households should believe in Him because of it. And we have that same glorious thing that the Lord used to bring the nobleman to faith: the word that Jesus speaks to us.
Where do we find Jesus’s Word? When, especially, does He speak it to us?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”