Saturday, October 13, 2018

2018.10.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read 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 ▫ Read 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”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

2018.10.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read 1Corinthians 10:14-33

Questions for Littles: What should we flee (v14)? What are we sharing in if we take of the cup of blessing (16a)? What are we sharing in, if we take of the bread that we break (16b)? What did the people of Israel share in when they ate of the sacrifices (v18)? What, rather than “idols,” were actually receiving the sacrifices of the Gentiles (v20)? If they knowingly ate meat that was sacrificed there, with what would they be having fellowship? And if they were having fellowship with demons, from what was it necessary to prevent them from partaking (v21)? If the church allows willful, unrepentant sinners to continue taking the Lord’s Supper, what does it do to the Lord (v22)? Whose consciences would we deny ourselves to preserve (v23-29)? But, when it’s between us and God, rather than asking where the food came from, what should we be doing instead (v30)? What should our goal be in eating or drinking (v31)? What example did Paul set of how to do things to the glory of God (v32-33)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learned one shocking reason why it is so dangerous to participate in idolatrous worship or practice: doing so actually brings us into fellowship with demons.

Let us not assume that we are any harder to trick than the Gentiles were of old. Demons are still quite capable of fooling people into participating with them. That’s not just personally dangerous to ourselves, but the Scripture here says that if the church permits us to come to the Lord’s Table in that condition, then we are provoking Him to jealousy!

However, it is wonderfully true that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. If we don’t have reason to think that particular food, or drink, or any other kind of blessing is specifically a part of idolatrous worship, then we are free to receive it from the Lord.

There’s just one catch—if we receive everything as from the Lord, then we ought to be a thoroughly thankful people!

A thankful people will, obviously, give thanks. A thankful people will also seek the wellbeing of others, and do our best not to tempt them to violate their consciences. A thankful people will try not to make anyone stumble, because it is seeking their salvation unto the glory of God!
What are some ways that you do things unto the glory of God in your life?
Suggested songs: ARP189 “Universal Praise” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

2018.10.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read Joshua 4

Questions for Littles: How many men were they supposed to pick (v1-2)? What were they supposed to do (v3)? Who would ask about the stones in the future (v6)? Where did they set up the stones (v9)? Where were the stones at the time that the book of Joshua was written? What was the Lord doing to/for Joshua on that day (v14)? What happened as soon as the priests’ feet touched the dry land again (v18)? According to v24, why did the Lord dry up both the Red Sea and the Jordan?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we learned that the Lord loves us and cares to help us with our foolishness and easiness to forget His goodness, power, and salvation.

Not only does He bring the people across the Jordan in a miraculous way, but the Lord commands and emphasizes their making memorial of that miraculous salvation.

Oh how we need this merciful reminder from the Lord—precisely because we so easily forget! And there are at least three reasons for us to be so sure to remember:

First, we need to remember so that we can teach our children. Believers’ lives are filled with weekly Lord’s Days, sacraments, daily family worship, discipline and instruction, and more. All of it forces us to remember and gives them an opportunity to ask about what it all means to us.

Second, we need to remember because in all of these things, Jesus Christ is exalted before our eyes. Joshua doesn’t just have the same name as Jesus. He has the same role as Jesus: the appointed Savior of the people of God. Of course, Jesus is infinitely more of a Savior than Joshua. So, how much more important it is that He would be exalted in our sight, and that we would honor and obey Him!

Third, we need to remember so that we would tell others. It is our job to tell others about the mighty hand of the Lord and to encourage one another to fear Him as well (v24).
What is a daily way that we tell children about what the Lord has done for us? What is a weekly way that we tell children about what the Lord has done for us? How do you respond to Jesus’s salvation in your life? Whom do you tell about Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or TPH550 “Let Children Hear the Mighty Deeds”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Camp Fire from the Camp Out


Someone suggested that the congregation might like to see a clip of the fire from the campout last week. Well... here it is. But as we learned in the sermon, the more impressive site was all those beautiful (though imperfect) believers--not only created in the image of Him whose throne sits upon the firmament, but now being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, who sits upon that throne, even in His humanity! Hallelujah!

2018.10.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 2:10-18

Questions for Littles: Who is everything for? Who is everything from? Who is bringing many sons to glory? Who perfected Jesus through suffering? Who is the Captain of our salvation? Who makes Christians holy? What is Jesus not ashamed to call us? Who declares God’s Name to us and sings God’s praise in the midst of the church assembly? Who has given us to Jesus as children of God? How does Jesus destroy the devil? Who has helped the descendants of Abraham? Whom did Jesus have to be made like? What kind of High Priest is Jesus? What has He done about His people’s sins? What can He do, since He has been tempted and suffered? Whose name does preaching declare in the church’s worship? Who is declaring God’s name in that preaching? What does He call the people of the church? Whom does v13 talk about trusting God in the church’s worship? When we come to worship, Who brings us to God? What does He call us, when He presents us with Himself and says, “Here I am…”? Who has given His children to Jesus, in order that Jesus would bring us to worship?  
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin came from Hebrews 2:10-18. We hear in v10 that it is God who is bringing many sons to glory. And, we hear in v11 that it is Jesus who is getting us ready for that glory by making us holy. What a blessing to know this! God commands us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. God commands us to put to death our sin. God commands us to walk in a manner worthy of being called Christian.

But God also tells us that Jesus is the One who is making us holy, and that God is the One who has adopted us as His children, and who is bringing us to glory. Can they possibly fail? As Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this very thing: that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Finally, and most importantly, we hear in v17 that Jesus made propitiation for our sins. What does this mean? It means that on the cross, Jesus so completely suffered the wrath of God for our sin, that there is absolutely none of it left for us; it means that the only thing left for us from God is favor. Jesus has completely earned our forgiveness; we cannot earn any of it. Jesus has completely earned our blessing; we cannot earn any of it. He made propitiation for our sins!

God chose who would be saved. God gave us as a gift to Jesus. Jesus paid for all of our sins. Jesus is making us holy for glory. God is bringing us to glory as His children. From start to finish, all of our salvation is from the Lord!

The middle verses of our passage focus upon what we do when we get there. And that is: have a glorious family worship service! Except in glory, it’s not the Father leading family worship. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the One whom we are worshiping. And the Son is leading that worship!

Jesus had to become a man just like we are, except without sin, in order to save us. And when we believe in Jesus, we are adopted to become children like He is. So, Jesus became flesh and blood like we are. And He was tempted like we are. And He suffered in our place. And we are made sons like He is. And made holy like He is. And we will come to glory as He has.

But our passage says even more than that one day we will be perfected and enter glory. Just like Paul writes to the Ephesians, these verses are also talking about our being seated with Jesus already in the heavenly places (cf. Eph 2:6). We are especially able to see this if we compare 2:11-13 with 12:18-29.

When we obey the command in 10:19-25 not to neglect congregational worship, we join the worship assembly already in glory!

Here is something literally glorious about preaching: Jesus is the One who declares God’s name in the preaching (v12a)! How very careful the preacher on earth must be to proclaim and apply only what the Scripture says, if Jesus is the preacher from heaven! The preacher must not put his words into Jesus’ mouth, but the other way around.

Here is something literally glorious about congregational singing in worship: Jesus is the one singing God’s praise in the midst of the assembly (v12b)! How careful we should be to sing only Christ’s thoughts from Scripture, if He is the singer in our worship! We must not put our words in His mouth, but the other way around.

But how can sinners such as we are appear in glory week by week? Here is something literally glorious about our coming to God in worship: Jesus presents us there in Himself (v13b), and it is even Jesus’ own faith that is being counted for us while we are there (v13a)!
What is Jesus getting you ready for? Why is He doing so? How is He getting you ready?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place”

Monday, October 8, 2018

No Session Meeting Tonight--Postponed to the 15th

No Session Meeting Tonight--Postponed to the 15th

2018.10.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 1:6-8

Questions for Littles: What did God command to exist in v6? What would the firmament be between? What would it do to the waters? What new information does v7 give us? What does God call the firmament (v8)? What makes day two? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned that God spends an entire day of creation on something that almost never again gets mentioned: the firmament.

Here is something that turns out to be a display to us of the throne of God.

It is, first of all, a throne of glory. After Genesis 1, the next place that we see the raquiya (firmament) is in Psalm 19:1 and Psalm 150:1, and then not again until four times in Ezekiel 1:22-26. The last two times are Ezekiel 10:1 and Daniel 12:3.

Take the time to read each of those passages. You will see that every one of them is describing a special display of the glory God. In a couple places, it is specifically connected to God’s “sanctuary” and God’s “throne.”

The firmament is, second of all, a throne of judgment. As God “saw that it was good” last week, we learned about God that He makes judgments and distinctions. There is, perhaps, no book in the Bible where this is more clear than the book of Ezekiel (even though the name “Daniel” means “God is my Judge”!). And it is here, when God appears seated on the throne of the cherub-chariot, in judgment over His people (and all other peoples, cf. Ezek chs. 25-32), that we hear the most about a firmament… this interesting thing that He spent an entire day of creation on. The firmament is a throne of glory and a throne of judgment.

But finally, the firmament is a throne of grace. We know that already, of course. We come to God’s throne in Jesus Christ, and find Christ Himself seated on that throne. Hallelujah! And, the people of Israel, as they first received Genesis 1, would have done so knowing that when God broke that separation of the waters, the flood had come—but also that God had spared Noah and promised never to send such a judgment again. He spent a day of creation creating that separation. And then in the covenant of grace, He promised to maintain it. God’s throne is a throne of grace!
How are you bowing before God’s glory? God’s judgment? God’s grace!
Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH2B “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage?”