Saturday, July 28, 2018

2018.07.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:23-25

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle call Timothy in v23? What does he want them to know? What is he confident will happen to himself soon through their prayers (cf. v18-19)? If Timothy comes by soon, what will Paul do with him? Whom does he first tell them to greet (v24a)? Whom else does he greet (v24b)? Who greet them (v24c)? How does he himself greet them—what does he say (v25)?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard in v22 about how loving one another means helping one another hear preaching and give themselves to it. That’s a form of brotherly love that might be less obvious, but now in vv23-25 he models for us a few ways that are more obvious.

Those who love one another as brethren are interested in what is going on in one another’s lives—especially in the alleviation of suffering. When a brother has been ill, we want to know that he is recovering. When a brother has been imprisoned, we want to know that he has been set free. It’s a subtle emphasis, but we see it in v23 where he says “Know that brother Timothy has been set free.” We are interested—not in a manner of gossip, but in genuine care—to know that things are going well with our brothers.

Those who love one another wish to see one another. Like John at the end of 2John and 3John, this apostle is eager to see his readers—so much so that if Timothy wants to come along, he better get back there quickly! The apostle isn’t even released yet, but he’s planning to see them soon.

Those who love one another greet one another. They don’t just wish their loved ones well, they express to their loved ones that they wish them well. Yes, the apostle is greeting the leaders of their church and every last member of their church. But, he is also setting an example for them, and instructing them, to greet them. Otherwise, v24 would be redundant with v25, as he sends his own closing greeting to them all. Those who are with the apostle in Italy, due in part to his own example, send their own greetings.

And, those who love one another seek primarily for one another not what comes from ourselves but what comes from the Lord. Our working definition of grace is blessing for those who deserve only curse (cf. Eph 2:1-9) and strength for those who have only weakness (cf. 2Cor 12:9-10).

Yes, we serve one another however the Lord gives us privilege to be able to, but much more than that we are seeking for one another God’s grace: God’s joy and God’s strength. Isn’t this what leads us to desire them to receive the preaching, as we saw at the beginning of the passage? Grace be with you!
In whose life are you interested? Whom do you make effort to see? To whom do you express greetings? For whom are you seeking God’s own gladness and strength?
Suggested Songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Friday, July 27, 2018

2018.07.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:14-18

Questions for Littles: What did the Word become (v14)? What does this mean the Word had been before? When the Word became flesh, what did He do? What did the evangelist (John) behold? What kind of glory did they behold in the enfleshed Word? What did this glory mean that He was full of? Who bore witness of Him? Why did John the Evangelist say that Jesus was preferred to him (v15)? From what have received (v16)? What did we receive from His fullness? What was given through Moses (v17)? Through Whom did grace and truth come? Who has seen God (v18)? When has someone seen God? Who has declared (exegeted) God? Where is this Son that declares God?
In the Gospel reading this week, the emphasis is upon Jesus as the full and clear revelation of God.

No one has seen God at any time. In fact, we cannot see God, because He is invisible Spirit. But later in this book, Philip is going to ask to see the Father, and Jesus is going to answer, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Jesus’ point in Jn 14:9 is the same as John’s point in our little passage. Jesus is the complete revelation of the Father. There is nothing un-Jesus-like in God. If you have seen Jesus, there is nothing more left to see of God. Once you’ve seen Jesus, there is no longer any ground whatsoever to wish that you could see the Father.

Wow!! Of course, that wasn’t the first time that such a request was made. Moses had asked God to show Himself too, and when God did, He announced His own name in Exodus 34:6, “Yahweh, Yahweh God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” When that last phrase was translated into Greek, it was exactly the phrase at the end of our v14 today.

Jesus is Yahweh, who declared His name to Moses on the mountain! That’s what v14 is saying. And of course v15 says that He is eternal. And v16 says that He is the God of our salvation—all of our salvation—by grace upon grace. Moses came down from the mountain with the Law, but in Jesus Christ, Yahweh Himself has come down to us—all of that glory now inseparably joined to a human nature forever.

Oh, the wonder of this clause: “The Word became flesh”! If your chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then there is nothing more central to your existence and your purpose than to know, worship, and enjoy this Jesus Christ, with Whom the rest of the Gospel of John will be preoccupied.

Won’t you give yourself to that study?!
What religions claim to worship the same God as we do? Why don’t they really do so?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH280 “Wondrous King, All Glorious”

Thursday, July 26, 2018

2018.07.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 5

Questions for Littles: What kind of sin were the Corinthians tolerating at the time (v1)? How should they have felt about this (v2a)? And what should they have desired (v2b)? Who has already judged the man’s case (v3)? What does Paul command them to do with the man, and how, and why (v4-5)? What happens if a little sin-leaven is allowed to go unchallenged in the lump of the church (v6)? Who is our Passover, and what has been done with Him (v7)? What must we keep without leaven (v8a)? What are the “unleavened bread” for the feast that we do keep (v8b)? With whom were they not to keep company (v9)? Which ones did he not mean and why (v10)? Which immoral people are they not even to eat with (v11)? Whom are they commanded to judge (v12)? Whom may they not judge (v13)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we find a couple of the Lord’s reasons for church discipline.

One is that an unrepented sin within the membership of the church belongs to the entire church. In v2, he says that they should mourn that the one who has done this deed be taken from them. The implication is that as long as he is among them, and as long as there has not been repentance, the covenantal guild of that sin falls upon the whole body.

A second reason for church discipline is its usefulness in bringing the sinner to his senses. How does this happen? Because the one that is put out of the body is “handed over to Satan” “for the destruction of the flesh.” There is a protection from the attacks of the devil that we receive as members of God’s covenant. Being put out of membership eliminates that protection.

Now, the destruction of the flesh may either mean that Satan’s attacks are material attacks of some sort, or (more likely) that when a believer is handed over to be attacked by the devil, the result is a circumstance that the Lord uses in the believer’s life to mortify the flesh—to put sin to death… to open his eyes to its evil and danger so that he will run to and rest upon the Lord to battle it.

A third reason for church discipline is that unrepented sin in one church member begets unrepented sin in others. We cannot take a nonchalant view of others’ sin and expect that it will not affect our own weakness to sin.

A fourth reason is that whereas Passover was once a year for the Jews, our Passover sacrifice died once for all, and the Corinthians were keeping the feast of His redemption upon a weekly basis. The “unleavened bread” of that feast was sincerity and truth, which must not be compromised by tolerating unrepented sin!

v10 is a very important verse with respect to our Christian identity. Part of our identity in Christ is being hostile and opposed to all of those former aspects of our identity that were sinful. We have a new identity now. Yes, those in the world may have those things as essential to their identity, but Christians must not. If someone who is called “brother” maintains such an identity, we are commanded to break off our fellowship with him (v9-11), and the church is commanded to judge him (v12), and put him out of the membership (v13). It is part of the church’s identity that it practices this discipline every bit as much as it is part of the Christian’s identity that he practices this self-discipline.
Of what recent sin do you need to repent? What should the church do if you don’t?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness ” or TPH354 “Not All the Blood of Beasts”

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2018.07.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 27:1-40

Questions for Littles: What did Isaac want to do to Esau, but what did he feel like he needed Esau to do first (v1-4)? Who was listening in, and with whom did she make a plan, and what was the plan that she made for him (v5-10)? What was he concerned about, and what solution did she come up with (v11-17)? Of what was Isaac suspicious in vv18-24? What did Isaac still need, in order to get into the blessing mood (v25-26)? How was the part of the blessing in v29 different from the part of the blessing given in v27-28? What two people are surprised in vv30-37? For what does Esau beg with tears in v38? How does his blessing in v39-40 compare with Jacob’s in v27-29?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we find a disaster that has been a long time in coming.

Back in chapter 25, Yahweh had said of the nations in Rebekah’s womb, “One people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” So, Isaac already knew what the Lord had decreed concerning his sons.

However, it’s just five verses later in chapter 25 that we read, “And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” It’s not like Isaac couldn’t get food anywhere else. Esau would sell his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s red stuff (for which he now pleads and weeps for a change of mind). Rebekah whips up a sufficiently delectable meal right here in our verses today.

In other circumstances, Isaac has given such evidence of God’s work in his life. Now, his love for his favorite meal has reduced him to attempting a secret coup against the plan of Almighty God.

It’s not like everyone else is blameless. Rebekah overhears. Whether or not it was an accident, the action taken is very intentional. Apparently, it’s not even entirely unexpected. Who are you, my son? How is it that you have found it so quickly my son?—there was only one other option, right?... after all, the voice is the voice of Jacob(!!?!??!)—Are you really my son Esau?

Jacob was troubled that they might get caught in the lie—but apparently not about the fact that it was a lie! And clever old Rebekah is a block off the old chip—she really turns out to be the sister of Laban after all.

It’s not exactly the script that you or I would write for how the covenant line passed from Isaac to Jacob. But that’s the beauty of it. We are always trying to appear better than we really are, but the Lord doesn’t sugarcoat it. This is what sinners are like. The family from which Jesus comes is a disastrous mess.

There is no Savior, no salvation, except Jesus Christ. Not your family. Not your church. Not your cleverness. Sometimes, we just need a good, honest reminder of what we’re really like, apart from Christ!
Of what mere men are you thankful to have come from? Of what does this remind you about them?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

2018.07.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Samuel 7:3-12

Questions for Littles: To whom was Samuel speaking (v3)? What did he tell them to do with all their hearts? What did they have to put away? What would they need to prepare, if they were to serve the Lord only? What did Samuel promise, as God’s prophet, would happen if they did this (v3)? How do the people respond in v4? Then what does Samuel offer to do in v5? Even though the people have changed their ways, what do they do and say in v6? And what does Samuel do there? What do the Philistines do, when they realize that Israel is gathered in one place (v7)? And what do the people, now all the more, ask Samuel to do in v8? What does Samuel do, first, before he prays in v9? How does this verse describe his praying? What was Samuel doing in v10? How did the Lord respond? What did the Israelites do in v11? What did Samuel set up in v12?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation and Confession of sin came from 1Samuel 7:3-12, a point at which the Lord had severely humbled the Israelites. He had killed more than fifty thousand of them. This was so unbelievable that a few Hebrew manuscripts went ahead and deleted the fifty thousand and just left the seventy!

The question in 6:20 is one that we all need to ask: “Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God?” And there are three good answers here.

The first good answer is: those who come to God through His appointed Mediator. Samuel, here, is acting as a prophet, as a priest, and even as a ruler of sorts (a judge). He is a foreshadowing of Jesus. Who is able to stand before the holy God? The one who comes to Him in Jesus.

The second good answer is: those for whom there is an atoning sacrifice. Again, this looks forward to Jesus. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The third good answer is: certainly not God’s enemies! The holiness of God, and His almighty power, are great comforts to those who belong to Him in Jesus Christ. We know that no enemy, however powerful, can stand before Him.

At some point, every single one of us is actually going to stand before the holy God. Will we do so, as those who are coming to Him through Jesus Christ, our Prophet, Priest, King, and Atoning Sacrifice? Or will it be as an enemy who is about to perish? Lord, bring us to faith in You!
If you were to stand before the Lord, the holy God, today… could you?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or TPH32B “How Blest Is He Whose Trespass”

Monday, July 23, 2018

2018.07.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 13:22

Questions for Littles: To whom does the apostle appeal? With what does he ask them to bear? What kind of word is it? In how many words has he written to them? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we heard an outpouring of brotherly love from the apostle.

First, he appeals to his readers. He has the authority of an apostle. He has been reminding them that their elders rule over them. And yet, rather than wielding that authority like a hammer, he literally comes alongside them as a helper.

The verb translated “appeal” here is a form of the word that Jesus uses when promising to send the Holy Spirit as “another Helper.” It’s not that uncommon a verb, but considering that it would have been more natural just to use an imperative—or even to say, “I command you in the Lord”—there does seem to be an emphasis on the difference here.

Even more, it’s an intentional match to the term that describes what kind of word has been sent, translated “word of exhortation.” This word of paraclaeseos was a first-and-second-century term for the sermon in Lord’s Day worship, and it was directly connected to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

The term basically means to help in every way possible. It’s built from terms for “called” “alongside.” Jesus promised that there would be another One whom He would send to help His people in every way that they need, when He physically left them and ascended into heaven. And the Holy Spirit uses preaching, especially, to do this: appeal, comfort, command, console, correct, counsel, encourage, exhort, inspire, instruct, persuade, rebuke, teach, urge… and this is an incomplete list!

Here is the apostle, knowing the love of the Holy Spirit, imitating the love of the Holy Spirit, expressing the love of the Holy Spirit, appealing to them as brothers, calling them brothers, knowing the resistance of the flesh to preaching, urging them to overcome it.

Preaching is Jesus, declaring His Father’s name to us on the Lord’s Day, as a primary method of bringing us into His rest—making us to hear the voice that speaks better than the blood of Abel, as He shakes away what will not remain and produces in us the holiness without which we will not see the Lord. The apostle assures them that this is a short sermon and lovingly appeals to them to bear with it—to yield themselves to this episode of the Spirit’s weekly work in them.
How do you help your brothers give themselves to the Holy Spirit’s special help-words?
Suggested Songs: ARP95B “Today If You Will Hear His Voice” or TPH195 “Shine Thou upon Us, Lord”