Saturday, September 1, 2018

2018.09.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 16:18-28

Questions for Littles: What name does Jesus give Simon (v18)? What does Jesus say He will build upon the rock of Peter’s confession? What won’t prevail against the church? What will Jesus give to Peter (v19)? What will have been bound in heaven? What will have been loosed in heaven? What were the disciples not supposed to tell yet (v20)? What did Jesus begin to show the disciples about Himself in v21? How did Peter respond (v22)? Now what does Jesus call Peter in v23? Of what is Peter not being mindful? Of what is he being mindful instead? What does Jesus say we must take up in order to follow Him (v24)? What will happen to the one who desires to save his life (v25)? What will happen to the one who gives his whole life up to Christ? Suppose that, by living for yourself, you could gain the whole world—what does v26 say about whether or not that’s worth it? According to what will we be rewarded on the last day (v27)? What did Jesus say some of those standing there would see before they tasted death (v28)?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned what Moses and Elijah already knew, and what Peter, James, and John would find out—that the eternal glory of Christ, and the privilege of knowing and enjoying Him in that glory… that these things are worth infinitely more than anything and everything that this world has to offer us.

We easily forget this. Peter takes four verses to go from being commended as the one whose confession of Christ is exactly the foundation upon which Christ will build His church to the one whose counsel to Christ comes from the very pit of Hell.

Let that get through our thick skulls and cold hearts: the temptation to live for comfort comes from the pit of Hell.

Just as Jesus insisted that He would go to the cross to pay for our sins, so also He insists that in order to follow Him, we would take up the cross of our own. We must do works that correspond to reward for which we hope.

That is to say: the days of living for myself are done, and from here on, I will live only for Christ. That old way is crucified. Now, I live only by faith. Jesus’s way by Jesus’s life. Who cares what I might miss out on in this life? I shall have, instead, not only the wellbeing of my eternal soul, but its immeasurable pleasure in His unimaginable glory!
In what part of your life is obedience to Jesus most uncomfortable?
Suggested Songs: ARP32B “Instruction I Will Give to You” or TPH541 “The Son of God Goes Forth to War”

Thursday, August 30, 2018

2018.08.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 2:13-22

Questions for Littles: What was at hand (v13)? Where did Jesus go? What did He find in the temple (v14)? What did Jesus make (v15)? What did He do with that whip? What did He say to those who sold doves (v16)? What did the disciples remember from Psalm 69 (v17)? What did the Jews demand from Him in v18? What sign does Jesus say that He will give (v19)? Why do the Jews think this is crazy—how long had it taken to build the temple (v20)? But of what temple was Jesus speaking (v21)? When Jesus had risen from the dead, and the disciples remembered what He said here, what two things did they come to believe (v22)? 
In the Gospel reading this week, we were reminded that Jesus’s resurrection means that have to obey every word that He says.

Jesus was certainly acting like a prophet. The response of the Jews in v18 is quite interesting. They don’t seem to dispute at all whether Jesus was right about what He said. Rather, they want to know what’s special about Him—what gives Him the right to say it? If He’s really a prophet, they insist that He perform signs like the prophets did.

It’s at this point that Jesus begins referring to His resurrection. No one understood Him at the time. Later, His disciples would come to understand that He meant His body. Paul tells us in Romans 1, that it was by His resurrection that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power!

Indeed, once He had risen from the dead, the disciples believed that the promised Savior and salvation of Psalm 69 had come. He had demonstrated Himself to be the long-hoped-for Forever-King.

That has implications for your life, doesn’t it? Jesus rising from the dead gives Him the right to confront us from His Word at all times and all places.

Often, when His Word exposes some wickedness in our lives, as He had done at the temple, we respond like they did: what gives You the right to say that? His resurrection is the great sing of His right to say it!

Jesus is the long-awaited Christ. The forever-King from the line of David. The prophet greater than Moses. And our lives must be a continual obedience and service unto Him!
What should we remember, whenever we are tempted to resist Christ’s Word?
Suggested songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Your Ear” or TPH358 “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem”

2018.08.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 7:10-16

Questions for Littles: To whom is Paul talking in v10? Whom does he claim to be quoting? What does he say that a wife must not do? What are her only options if she makes a separation like this (v11)? What may a husband not do? Whom does Paul now say he is not quoting in v12? What does he say a Christian husband should do, if his unbelieving wife is willing to live with him (v13)? What does he say a Christian wife should do, if her unbelieving husband is willing to live with her (v13)? What people are made holy (sanctified) by a believing wife, even if they themselves are unbelieving (v14)? Whom should they permit to depart (v15)? To what has God called us? What possibility, in God’s providence and mercy, is an encouragement to stay together (v16)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we received more instruction about Christian marriage.

It is important to note that this is all equally Scripturally authoritative. Paul says in v40 that he is giving this counsel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The difference between quoting Jesus and not quoting Jesus is that, when he is quoting Christ, he is basically telling them things that they should already have known.

Here, the apostle addresses the married—in part, because of that very bad advice which some of them had written, that it is not good for a man to touch a woman. But marriage is a good gift from God for many purposes.

One of these purposes of healthy, faithful marriages is for the producing of godly descendants (cf. Malachi 2:13-16). Now, 1Corinthians 7:14 teaches us that God counts the children as holy if even one of the parents is a believer (who, of course then, should receive the covenant sign and seal) —and that He even treats the unbelieving spouse according to the covenant. In fact, v16 (cf. 1Pet 3:1) even implies the Lord’s inclination to bring such a spouse to faith in Christ!

All of this is why, if a spouse is willing to live with a believer despite their faith, that believer is to stay in the marriage. Yet, if the unbeliever is not willing, the believer is neither to be pushy toward the spouse nor anxious in himself/herself. We are called to peace. What a blessed truth: we are called to peace.
How are you preparing for or protecting your own marriage? Others’ marriages?
Suggested songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH549 “O Gracious Lord”

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018.08.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 29:15-30

Questions for Littles: Who asked Jacob what his wages should be (v15)? What did Laban have (v16)? What were their names? What did Jacob notice about Leah’s appearance (v17)? What did he notice about Rachel’s? What did Jacob say, in v18, that he would like to receive for his wages? How long did he offer to work for her? What did Laban say about giving her to Jacob in v19? How long did Jacob serve for Rachel (v20)? How long did it seem to him? Why? For whom did Jacob ask in v21? What did Laban make in v22? Whom did he bring to Jacob in v23? What does Jacob discover in v25? What does he ask? What does Laban give as a reason in v26? Who proposes that Jacob would have a second wife in v27? What does he call Rachel? How much of a honeymoon does Leah get before her husband takes another wife (v28)? What did Laban give to each of his daughters (v24, 29)? Whom did Jacob love more (v30)? How many more years did Jacob now serve? 
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we continue learning about Jesus’s family.

It’s rather an ugly story. If it were a film, we mightn’t allow our children to watch it.

  • A daughter is basically being sold as wages. 
  • The covenant patriarch is sizing the two daughters up by their appearance. 
  • The father of the girls intentionally gives the wrong daughter on the wedding night. 
  • As far as we can tell, there’s no covenanting ceremony before the man and woman sleep together. 
  • The unwanted daughter goes along with her father’s plan. 
  • The excuse given is something that the man literally had seven years to tell him, but somehow had never mentioned it? 
  • Rather than receive his wife as God’s providence, or perhaps ok though not as good, ask for an annulment because of the deception, Jacob goes along with the plan for him two have two wives. 
  • Going against God’s design for one man and one woman for marriage immediately causes them to suffer the consequences, as one of the wives is loved less (v30, in fact, should probably read “instead of Leah” rather than “more than”).

What are we to make of all of this? Well, at least two things. The first is that the only true hero of the history of redemption is Jesus Christ. The second is how badly Christ was needed. At every step, these people felt like they had good reason for what they were doing. But this whole account is dripping with sin and folly. Come, Lord Jesus, and save Your people!
Why shouldn’t you want others to see you as a spiritual hero? Who should be?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

2018.08.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 149

Questions for Littles: Whom shall we praise (v1)? What shall we sing? Where? In whom is Israel to rejoice (v2)? In whom must the children of Zion be joyful? What aspects of the worship led by Levitical priests are named in v3? In whom does the Lord take pleasure (v4)? With what does He beautify the humble (v4)? In what should saints be joyful (v5)? What should they do on their beds? What should be in their mouths (v6)? And what should be in their hands? For what purpose (v7-9a)? Which of the Lord’s saints have this honor?
This week’s Call to Worship, Invocation, and Confession of sin came from Psalm 149. This is a Psalm about corporate worship—the praise of the Lord in the assembly of the saints. Yes, it’s a praise that continues to resound in their hearts and mouths even when they are at home on their beds (v5). But it is something that distinctly belongs to the assembly (v1), as evidenced by the reference to the specific Levite-led activities of v3.

We, of course, are no longer led by Levites in a temple on earth, but we ourselves are the temple, and we are led by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

Therefore, the joy of the song is not diminished, but rather increased—as the saints are joyful in glory. In particular, we now know how it is that Yahweh Himself takes pleasure in us (v4!!). It is because we come to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.

But not only do we have the privilege of a great reception on High, week by week in this life. We also have the privilege of a great power on earth.

Which of the Lord’s saints wield this great sword to which v6-9 refer? All His saints. v9 says, “This honor have all His saints”!!

Now, we know that not all His saints carry physical swords by which they subjugate rulers. But, just as our worship must come from God and not be merely the worship of men, so also our weapons are the weapons of God.

As we believe the Scripture together, and confess it in worship, and admonish one another with it, and teach it to our children, we are participating in the subjugation of all the nations, which shall surely be accomplished by God’s mighty Word. Hallelujah!
In what part of worship are you participating in the overthrow of kings?
Suggested songs: ARP149B “O Praise the Lord, O Sing Aloud” or TPH166 “You Who His Temple Throng”

Monday, August 27, 2018

2018.08.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 7:13-23

Questions for Littles: By what gate should we enter (v13)? Where do the wide gate and broad way lead? How many go in by it? Where do the narrow gate and difficult way lead (v14)? How many find it? Of whom must we beware (v15)? What do they look like? Wat are they inwardly? How can we know them (v16-20)? What, specifically, are not the fruits to look for (v22)? What are the fruits to look for (v21, 23)?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we received a very serious warning. This was not just a pep-talk to say, “Go team! Let’s live a life of service!” No, this was a Messianic rescue mission.
What is before us in this passage is destruction and life, hell and heaven.

Why is it that we love to be popular? God help us! The wide gate and broad way lead to destruction. It is not that we should desire to be unpopular, either. But surely, if we find that many are signing up to go along with us, this passage should be cause for alarm.

Now, it’s not difficult to check whether we have entered by the correct gate: for that gate is nothing other than Christ alone. No work of ours. No doctrine of ours. Nothing in our hands we bring. Simply to Him we cling. Any other gate—any attempt to add to this gate—is an entrance to the way to Hell. That’s intolerant. Truth often is.

Yet, woe is us that we wish to be comfortable! We hate pain and love pleasure; we want to enjoy ourselves thoroughly. There is hardly a worse sounding thing to our ears than “that isn’t fun.” Here again, are words that should terrify us. The spacious, agreeable, pleasant way leads to destruction. If we have made it our aim to have comfort and fun—and, even worse, if we have succeeded—then we can be almost certain that we haven’t entered by the narrow gate.

Those who enter by the knowledge of Christ slaughter their self-will and live by the law of Christ. We may say “Lord, Lord” and “in Your name” until we are blue in the face, but unless we have learned to die to self and live to Christ, we can expect to hear “I never knew You” on the last day.
In what part of your life are you most in danger of choosing comfort over Christ?
Suggested Songs: ARP119B “How Can a Young Man Cleanse His Way?” or TPH266 “Thou Art the Way”