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Saturday, August 11, 2018

2018.08.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 78:67-72

Questions for Littles: Whom did the Lord not choose (v67)? Whom did He choose instead (v68)? Why? What did He construct there (v69)? Whom else did He choose (v70)? From where did He take him? From doing what did He take him (v71)? For doing what did He take him? What did he do and how (v72)?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned about God’s plan for bringing the cycle of failure to an end.

At first, it seems like this passage is only about David the son of Jesse. After all, v70 calls him by name and v70-71 describe his beginning as a shepherd, following mama sheep and baby lambs.

But then v72 describes a result from this “shepherding” that we don’t quite come away from 2Samuel satisfied has happened: “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” Bathsheba. Uriah. Amnon. Absalom. Adonijah. There’s a fair measure of integrity and skill missing.

Even worse, we go from king to king, finding that they are just about all thieves and robbers, just as the Lord declared they would be in 1Samuel 8, and as the Lord rebukes them for being in Ezekiel 34.

At last, there is One who comes and says, “I am the door of the sheep… all who came before Me are thieves and robbers… I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10).

As we go through the history of Israel, we wonder when the time will come that there will be one faithful generation after another? Then we put John 10 together with the end of Psalm 78, and we find that this is a big part of what Jesus means when He announces that the kingdom has arrived.

Jesus is the promised, forever-King. He is great David’s greater Son, the Good Shepherd. And it is His generations who transmit faith, worship, and obedience from one generation to the next. If ever there was a time when Psalm 78:5-7 would be fulfilled among God’s people, it is now!
How does Christ’s Kingship over the church come out in daily and weekly life?
Suggested Songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or HB146 “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed”

Friday, August 10, 2018

2018.08.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 1:19-36

Questions for Littles: What did the Jews want to know from John (v19)? Whom did he say he was not (v20-21)? Who/what did he say that he was (v23)? With what did John baptize (v26)? What did John call Jesus in v29? What did he say Jesus would do? What reason does he give for Jesus being greater than he (v30)? What does John say he saw in v32? With what/whom does John say that Jesus will baptize (v33)? Whom does he say that Jesus is in v34?
In the Gospel reading this week, the Jews are looking for the Christ, and they wonder if John the Baptizer is He. But he’s not the Christ. He’s not Elijah who would come first (cf. Malachi 4:5). He’s not the Prophet (cr. Deuteronomy 18:15).

Ironically, John didn’t even know it, but Jesus would later identify him as the Elijah who would come (cf. Matthew 17:11-13). What John did now is who Jesus is: Yahweh Himself, come to save us.

First, John identifies himself as going ahead to announce the arrival of the Yahweh (v23, cf. Isaiah 40:3).

Second, even though Jesus is six months younger than John, John says that Jesus is greater than he is, because Jesus was before him (v26-30).

Third, John presents Jesus’ ability to pour out the Holy Spirit as being like John’s ability to pour out water (v33).

Finally, John directly says that Jesus is the Son of God (v34). The son of man is man. The Son of God is God.

Four proofs that John knew Jesus is God—and he still begins to doubt when he’s imprisoned. Let us never be surprised at how our faith can waver!

But even more amazing than the fact that Jesus is God is what He came to be—not just a man, but a lamb. No, not a cute, little, wooly mammal. A sacrifice. A man whose blood would be shed to pay for sins—not just of one man but of men from all over the world.

As God, and the Lamb, there no one whom we must worship but Jesus, and no one whom we must trust in but Jesus.
How have you responded to Jesus’s divinity? To Jesus’s sacrifice?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH280 “Wondrous King, All Glorious”

Thursday, August 9, 2018

2018.08.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 6:1-11

Questions for Littles: If we have a matter against one another, where should we “got to law” (v1)? Whom else will the saints judge (v2)? And whom else (v3)? How does the church esteem the judges of the world (v4)? What has already happened, when Christians go to court against one another (v7)? What should they rather accept and allow instead? What are they doing to one another (v8)? What kinds of people will not inherit the kingdom (v9-10)? Who had been among this group (v11)? What happened to them? In what name? By what Person?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we find out another role for church courts.

In the previous passage, we learned about the necessity of church discipline. Now, we find that church courts also help believers sort out their issues.

On the one hand, believers don’t esteem the judgment of unbelievers (v4, 6). Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. Justice and righteousness are defined by His law.

On the other hand, going to unbelievers brings shame upon the name of Christ—something that is itself a defeat. We should rather be cheated than allow something so terrible.

I wonder, dear reader, do we treasure Christ’s honor more than our rights?

We do if we are on our way to inheriting the kingdom. However, if we are willing to cheat one another, we should be very alarmed. If we are unrepentant about that, then perhaps our identity is not in Christ.

It’s an either-or proposition. Either your identity is in your sin (whether covetous, slanderer, homosexual, etc.), or it is in Christ.

What an encouragement to read the list of the different kinds of former sin-identities from which one may be redeemed! And yet it’s necessary to see that this change in identity is not optional.

Don’t let anyone deceive you. That’s a command from v9. Anyone whose identity is still bound up in their sin is still outside of Christ. What’s your identity—with your enslavement or your freedom?
In what situation do you have a chance to set aside your rights for Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or HB276 “There Is a Fountain”

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

2018.08.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 27:41-28:9

Questions for Littles: What did Esau plan to do (v41)? Who found out (v42)? Whom did she tell? Where did she want to send him (v43)? How long did she think it would take (v44)? How does Rebekah set Isaac up to send Jacob away (v46)? What does Isaac do in vv1-2? What does he add in vv3-4? When had he done this before? What is different this time? When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, what did Esau do (v6-9)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we find sinful people being sinful, and our merciful God being merciful.

Esau is vengeful and murderous. Not only does he want to kill Jacob, but when he says that the days of mourning for Isaac are at hand, he may even be implying that he’s willing to accelerate his father’s pace to the grave.

Rebekah is still operating a spy network, and is ready to put another manipulative plan into action. She plays on the irritating Hittite daughters-in-law.

But we do see a repentant sinner, by God’s mercy. Isaac. He’d been fighting the idea of giving Jacob the blessing. He tried to put one over on God.

But, at last, he shook with the realization that Jacob would indeed be blessed. Now, he takes the opportunity to bless Jacob with his eyes wide-open (so to speak). We could have easily missed it, but vv3-4 are Isaac finally yielding himself to the Lord’s word and willingly giving Jacob the blessing of Abraham.

What a mercy of God to him to give Isaac such a second opportunity! And the greatest mercy of God is that all of this occurs in the process of bringing the Christ into the world.

Sadly, sometimes there are deep and abiding consequences to our sin. Rebekah thought her manipulations would separate her from Jacob for a few days. As far as we know, she never saw him again. Oh what a tangled web we weave…
What costly sins have you committed? How has God been merciful anyway?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

2018.08.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2Corinthians 4:13-18

Questions for Littles: What do those who believe do (v13)? What will He who raised up the Lord Jesus also do (v14)? Why does God save so many by grace (v15)? What do we not lose (v16)? What is perishing? What is being renewed day by day? What kind of affliction do we have (v17)? For how long? What is it working for us? How much and for how long? What do we look at (v18)? What is the difference in how long the seen lasts vs. how long the unseen lasts?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of sin came from 2Corinthians 4:13-18.

What is it that a Christian believes and says? That since his faith is into Christ, his whole future is bound up with Christ. Faith unites us to Jesus, so if Jesus was raised, we will be raised.

All things work together for Him, and so all things work together for us. And more than that, all of this produces thanksgiving unto the glory of God. So, our being raised up in glory with Christ must certainly come.

What, then, is the purpose of our troubles? Why, to work glory for us, of course! And how big are our troubles by comparison to that exceeding weight of glory? Light. And how long are our troubles by comparison to that eternal glory? But a moment.

Now, it’s well enough to know that these things are true. However, our passage tells us that we do more than just know this truth; rather, we look at this truth.

We need to be dwelling upon the fact that we are guaranteed an eternal weight of glory. It’s in dwelling upon glory that our affliction is shown to be light and short. It’s in clinging to Christ—in whom that glory is guaranteed—that we are able to be inwardly renewed day by day, even if we are outwardly wasting away.

This is why we need faith, and why we must cry out for that most precious gift of God. What we need to look at is unseen to the physical eye. We can only see it with the eye of faith. God grant us to see it!—to see Him!
If faith comes by hearing the Word of God, how do you look for it from God?
Suggested songs: ARP16B “I’ll Bless the Lord Who Counsels Me” or HB378 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”

Monday, August 6, 2018

2018.08.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 78:1-8

Questions for Littles: To what are to give our ears and incline them (v1)? What will we be told (v2)? Where have we heard this (v3)? Whom will we tell (v4)? What will we tell? What has God established and where (v5)? What did He command our fathers to do? To whom else would this be communicated (v6)? What are the three parts of the application of this teaching (v7)? What had previous generations not done (v8)?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned God’s plan for the reformation and preservation of His church: on generation teaching another generation of teachers—all of whom put that teaching into practice.

Of course, teaching begins with your ears. You can’t teach what you haven’t studied. In our flesh and our folly, we would like to skip to faith, worship, and obedience. But, the Lord’s plan for us and assignment to us begins with our minds. Listen and learn. We cannot teach the next generation until we have learned from the previous one.

What are we to learn in order to teach? The Lord’s testimonies and laws. His teachings and His commands. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man.

There are three primary responses to this knowledge:

Faith. “That they may set their hope in God.” One generation doesn’t just teach the other. They put their hope in God, training the next generation by example as well.

Worship. “And not forget the works of God.” Worship is the first part of faith. We fall at His feet saying, “My Lord and my God.” We don’t forget His works, but rather acknowledge and praise Him.

Obedience. “But keep His commandments.” Obedience is worship in action in the life. Having acknowledged the Lord as God, we give up our right to ourselves and live according to whatever He says.
In what situations are you listening to God’s Word? In what situations are you teaching God’s Word? What place does worship have in each of your days? In each of your weeks? What difference does it make daily that you are living a life of obedience?
Suggested Songs: ARP95B “Today If You Will Hear His Voice” or HB146 “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed”