Saturday, November 17, 2018

2018.11.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 2:4-17

Questions for Littles: This passage is the history of what came from what (v4)? On what day did 1:31 say that God had completed making the heavens and the earth? Plants of what and herbs of what had not yet grown (v5)? Why—what did this specific type of plant and herb growth need to be done to the ground and by whom? What had God provided in advance for watering (v6)? From what did God form the man (v7)? What did God plant (v8)? Where? Whom did He put there? What did the Lord God make to grow out of the ground (v9)? What two things does v9 say about these trees? What two special trees were in the midst of the garden? What came out of Eden to water the garden (v10)? Into what did it split? What was the first river called (v11)? What land did it skirt? What was there? What else was there (v12)? What was the second river called (v13)? What did it go around? What was the third river called (v14)? Toward where did it go? What was the fourth river? What did the Lord God put the man into the garden to do (v15)? What did God command  the man in v16? What did God forbid the man in v17? What did God say would happen if the man disobeyed?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we see the Lord setting for Adam an example of generous covenant headship. The first thing that we notice is that the Lord makes for Adam a situation for which he is needed. God has created all of the plant, herb, and tree kinds, but He has left for the man to cultivate coordinated production/reproduction of these plants.

Second, we see God’s provision of water—both the mist that is watering the Adamah (ground—different word than has been used for ‘earth’ or ‘field’ up until this point), and then especially the rivers, which we’ll note more about later.

Third, we see God’s provision of relationship. This is the first use of that particular word for forming, and it would be intimate enough if the man were merely the first creature that the Lord described as being crafted in this fashion. But, it’s far more intimate that the Lord Himself breathes into the man’s nostrils his very soul. This is simply unique among the creatures.

Fourth, we see the Lord’s provision for man’s mind. Did you notice that He specifies that He made trees “pleasant to the sight” even before “good for food”? God has created the man with a capacity to appreciate beauty, and He surrounds the man with beauty to appreciate.

Fifth, obviously, God provides the man with food—permitting him to eat freely of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Sixth, He provides the man with raw materials for making beautiful things—not just gold but of a particular quantity. Also other beautiful stones, possibly implying that there are still others as well.

Finally, he gives the man a law to obey. This may not seem like much to you, but it gives the man a clear and easy way to please God and to show that he delights to belong to God and submit to Him. Taking this together with the “third” paragraph above, we can see what an important part this was of God’s provision to Adam. And to us!
How has God provided for you in each of these ways? Praise and serve Him!
Suggested Songs: ARP145C “The Eyes of All Are Turned to You” or TPH551 “We Plow the Fields”

Friday, November 16, 2018

2018.11.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:1-14

Questions for Littles: Where did Jesus go (v1)? Who followed Him (v2a)? Why (2b)? Where did Jesus go in v3? What does v4 specifically mention as being near? What does Jesus see in v5? What did Jesus ask Philip? Why did Jesus ask this (v6)? What does Philip say would not be sufficient in v7? For what would it not even be sufficient? What does Andrew point out in v8-9? What does Jesus say for them to do in v10? How many men were there? What did Jesus do first, when He took the loaves (v11)? Then what did He do? With what did He do likewise? When did Jesus speak to the disciples the words in v12? What did He tell them? How many baskets did they gather up (v13)? Of what? What did the men who saw the sign say in v14? 
In the Gospel reading this week, the primary issue, as usual, is: who is Jesus? John led off the book telling us that Jesus displays His glory as greater than Moses, and there are many gentle reminders of that in the passage this week.

First, Jesus leads His disciples over the sea and up the mountain. Remind you of anyone? And just in case we happened to miss that, John actually interrupts the narrative to point out that the Passover is coming. The Baptizer had said that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Here, Jesus feeds a multitude with miraculous bread. As we get further into the chapter, we’ll find that the people don’t miss the connection. In fact, when Jesus urges them to believe in Him, they will counter that the reproduction of manna bread would be a belief-worthy sign.

Finally, pay careful attention to what they say in v14: “This truly is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” This is a direct reference to Moses’s own prophecy that the Lord would send a prophet like him but greater.

For Christ’s part, we still remember from chapter 3 that He was entrusting Himself to no man. His wider popularity would prove to be very temporary, but Jesus is focusing on His own disciples.

Jesus knows what He is about to do, but He asks Philip the provocative question in v5-6. He has the disciples organize the people, distribute the food, gather up the leftovers. He is displaying to them who He is, that they would behold His glory as of the only begotten of the Father. Have you beheld that glory on the pages of Scripture? What have you done about it?
How can we tell if who Jesus is to us is more important than what He does for us?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH273 “Break Thou the Bread of Life”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

2018.11.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 14:1-25

Questions for Littles: What are the Corinthians to pursue (v1)? What word in the English of v1 isn’t in the original? What does the church receive from prophecies that it does not receive from tongues (v3-5)? What is the problem with tongues (v6-11)? What spiritual effect should they seek for the church (v12)? With what does the apostle teach us to pray and sing (v14-15, 18-19)? What do others need to be able to do after praying or singing (v16)? What does this mean that they need to be during praying and singing? What does this do for them (v17)? What are tongues for (v22)? To whom? But for whom is prophecy (v22)? Yet, what happens to an unbeliever, when the church is speaking the Word of God in a language that can be understood (v24-25)? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we continue hearing about the superiority of love (a sign that the true Word has taken effect in the hearers) over tongues (a sign that the true Word has been spoken) and prophecy (the speaking of the true Word).

As the apostle told us back in 8:1, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” This building up, this edification, must be the purpose at which the exercise of spiritual roles in worship aims.

Therefore, edification takes center stage here in chapter 14, but notice what else takes center stage: the understanding. God’s method of transforming us is through the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1-2). Jesus prays that we would be sanctified by God’s Word and its truth (Jn 17:17).

So, worship should aim at edification, and it should do so by being intellectual, cerebral, theological. In fact, the “Amen” in worship is designed to be an indication that while others are speaking, the rest of the congregation is paying attention and thinking and processing what is said. Then, to show that we have done so and give ourselves up to the Word to agree with it, we say, “Amen.”

But shouldn’t worship be evangelistic? Absolutely! That’s why, v24-25 say, that it should be so theological. It is theology that God has appointed as the means of exposing the unbeliever’s heart and putting him onto his face as a worshiper! Praise God for (and by means of!) theological worship!
Where can you find worship that aims at the understanding like this?
Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry Before You Come” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Session Meeting Friday, but Prayer Meeting CANCELED for tonight (14-Nov)

Due to illness, the Session meeting that had been planned for Monday was moved to Friday the 16th at 6p.m. As usual, all are welcome.

For the same reason, tonight's (14-Nov) Prayer Meeting is canceled. We encourage everyone to take that time for use in prayer. Corporate prayer is a biblically essential, but too-little practiced, component of being a true congregation of Christ's church. Though tonight may not be corporate in the sense of being gathered, it may still be so in the sense of a concerted action.

2018.11.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 8:1-29

Questions for Littles: What does Yahweh say to Joshua in v1? What difference does the Lord permit between what they do to Ai and what they were to do to Jericho? How many men does Joshua choose in v3? How does this compare to the number from before (cf. 7:4)? What kind of attack do they make (v4)? Why (2b)? How does Joshua take advantage of the previous defeat (v5-6)? Despite all this clever planning, what explanation does Joshua give for their sure victory in v7? What does Joshua tell them to do next in v8? How many of the thirty thousand were in the ambush (v12)? How many of his people did the King of Ai call together to pursue Joshua’s first force (v16-17)? What signal did Yahweh tell Joshua to use in v18? Of what other great signal does this remind you of a the destruction of the Egyptian army? What (who!) are the sea waters this time (19-26)? What did the people of Israel take (v27)? According to whose Word? What was still the case with the place of Ai at the time this Scripture was written (28)? Was the king left alive in defiance of God’s Word (29)?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we find the difference that it makes to have the Lord with you, as opposed to having the Lord against you.

Of course, one great difference is that you cannot lose in the one case, while in the other case you cannot win. But this is a little like when Joseph was sold into Egypt by his brothers. The text of Genesis at that point kept saying “Yahweh was with him… Yahweh was with him… Yahweh was with him in all that he did.” So, the careful reader says, “Yahweh being with him must affect not only the results but what he himself is like and does—what does it look like for Yahweh to be with him?”

We want to know too, for we trust the Lord and look to Him to be with us, and desire to follow Him in truth. Perhaps most surprising is that greater confidence in the Lord leads not to pride but humility. When left to himself in chapter 7, Joshua was arrogant—sending just three thousand against twelve thousand. With the Lord with him, he musters 50,000, and employs shrewd tactics rather than a frontal assault. But Joshua doesn’t urge them to put confidence in the plan but rather that the Lord has said that He has given it to them. Finally, there are a couple more instances that emphasize their following the Lord’s own Word.

When we say, “may the Lord be with me to give me success,” let us learn here that we are saying, “may the Lord be with me to give me humility,” and “may the Lord be with me to give me wisdom” and “may the Lord be with me to give me faith” and “may the Lord be with me to give me obedience.”
In what situation do you most need the Lord with you right now? What does courage look like in that situation? Humility? Cleverness? Faith? Obedience?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH164 “God Himself Is with Us”

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

2018.11.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 121

Read Psalm 121
Questions for Littles: What type of song does the psalmist label this Psalm? To where does he lift his eyes (v1a)? What question does he ask (1b)? What is the answer (2a)? What has the Lord done (2b)? What will the Lord not allow, according to the first part of v3? What is the Lord doing (3b)? What will He not do? Whom else is the Lord keeping (4a)? What two things will He not do (4b)? What name does He repeat for Himself twice in v5? What is He in 5a? What is He in 5b? Where? What cannot strike you during the day (6a)? What cannot strike you at night (6b)? From what will Yahweh keep you (7a)? What will Yahweh keep in the second part of v7? What two things does Yahweh keep in the first part of v8? When? For how long?
This week’s Call to Worship and Prayer for Help came from Psalm 121. Prayers for help have often been used as calls to worship—in the great Reformed church in Geneva, Calvin always used Psalm 124:8 as a call to worship, “Our help is in the name of Yahweh, who made the heavens and the earth.”

This is exactly what the Psalmist tells himself here in v2. He has looked up to the hills, and there are a couple possibilities here of the significance of that. Either there is danger in the hills, and he needs to know where the help is going to come from if the danger appears. Or he is already needing the help where he is, and he is looking up to the hills wondering if help might possibly come from there.

But that’s just the point of the Psalm isn’t it? If he needs help already, then help is already with him. Yahweh is there. If he is wondering if help may be available in a pinch when it is suddenly needed, then, yes, he can be sure that the help will be available; because Yahweh will be there.

And will the help be enough? Of course it will be enough! Just as there is no uncertainty about the presence of the help, so also there is no uncertainty about the power of the help. Yahweh has made heaven and earth!
Dear believer, are you in need of help? Are you looking at the near future and anticipating needing it? Are you wondering if it will be enough? It will!
For what particular situation do you need help? How will you remind yourself of the truth of this Psalm now? How will you remember it then?
Suggested songs: ARP121 “I Lift My Eyes and See the Hills” or TPH121A “I Lift My Eyes Up to the Hills”

Monday, November 12, 2018

2018.11.12 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?
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we saw God’s great plan for man and God’s great provision for man. But, the greatest part of each was the Sabbath day.

God’s plan for man is great. He blesses them to be fruitful. He blesses them to multiply. He blesses them to fill the earth. He blesses them to subdue it.

In these last two, in particular, they are to image God. God created a heavens and earth that was void and without form. He filled the empty void. He subdued the chaos of the formlessness. And now He has created man in His image to carry both the filling and the forming to the next level. He even created other kinds of living creatures for man to take dominion over, just as God has dominion over everything and everyone everywhere.

So, what does God call man to do on his very first day of following this great plan? Rest. The whole day. Why? Because God is resting. As we learn from God’s own interpretation of this passage in Hebrews 4, the rest here is something other than napping, or success, or even completion of work. It is an entering into the rest of God Himself. It’s the kind of rest that we anticipate having not at the weekend or at retirement, but rather in glory itself forever and ever.

God also makes great provision for man: every green herb for food—and much more, as we’re about to see in chapter 2. But the first and greatest provision is fellowship with Himself on the day that He declares blessed and holy. Man fell, but God maintained to us His greatest plan and provision!
Why is the Lord’s Day the most important day in your week? How does your practice of keeping it show that it fulfills that role in your life?
Suggested Songs: ARP92 “It’s Good to Thank the Lord” or TPH152 “O Day of Rest and Gladness”