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”