Saturday, November 24, 2018

2018.11.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 2:18-25

Questions for Littles: What did God say was not good (v18)? What did He say that He would make for the man? What did God form out of the ground (v19)? Where did He bring them? Why? What did Adam do (v19-20)? What could not be found? What did God do to Adam in v21? What did God do with the rib (v22)? Where did He bring the woman? What did Adam say in v23? Whom must a man leave to be joined to whom (v24)? What do they become? What does v25 say about their clothes? What does it say about their hearts?
In the Scripture for tomorrow’s sermon, we learn about the covenant of marriage.

After God has made clear to Adam that he exists in covenant with God as his covenant head, God now gives him the gift of marriage, in which he is to be his wife’s covenant head.

The first thing Adam had to hear was that he was not meant to be alone. It is really quite shocking to hear that something is not good, after everything has been good up until this point.

So God proceeds to help Adam feel the reality of that. In one sense, Adam is already beginning to subdue the earth and take dominion over the living creature. God yields to Adam the privilege of naming each of the land creatures and flying creatures.

But there’s a problem. As Adam names the other living creatures, one thing becomes painfully clear: none of those creatures correspond to him. He truly is alone. It’s at that point that God takes the rib, closes up the space, and puts Adam to sleep.

The results are spectacular, as evidenced by Adam’s almost-song in v23. This woman exactly corresponds to him! As we had learned in chapter one, she is created in God’s image every bit as much as he is.

But there is more. While they are equally in God’s image, Adam is still her covenant head. Here is the second example of one living creature receiving life from another. The first was when the Lord Himself breathed into Adam’s nostrils to make him a living creature.

As Adam names her, he is taking to himself the responsibility of headship over her. But it is not a form of domineering oppression. Rather, we’ve spent the bulk of chapter 2 watching Adam learn from the Lord what good covenant headship looks like. And here, he’s committing to be that for his bride.

Ultimately, it is the last Adam who is the perfect groom. When Christ weds His perfected bride to Himself, all other marriages will have been superseded by an eternal marriage that is infinitely better. There are many who don’t marry at all in this life, and many more whose marriages are a source of great grief. But even if we have had a blessed marriage, let us look forward most of all to the marriage of the Lamb!
What does being a good husband or wife look like? How do Christ and the church do that?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH45B “My Heart Does Overflow”

Friday, November 23, 2018

2018.11.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 6:15-21

Questions for Littles: Who perceived that the people were going to take Him by force (v15)? What were they going to do to Him? Where did Jesus go? With whom? Where did the disciples go (v16)? What did they get into (v17)? Who had not come by dark? What arose (v18)? Why? How far had they rowed in v19? Whom did they see walking on the sea? How did they feel? What did Jesus tell them not to be (v20)? What did they do then in v21? What happened to the boat immediately?
In the Gospel reading this week, the Lord Jesus has a very strange response to recognizing that the people want to make Him King. He literally runs to the mountain.

Didn’t Jesus want to be King? Of course He does, but only in the manner and sequence the Lord … we have seen before the suggestion that Jesus go a different way and skip the cross. That suggestion came from Satan.

Though we know that He is on the mountain praying, and other accounts actually mention that He personally dismissed the crowds. This account of the incident doesn’t mention either of those things. Instead, it just tells us that He went up the mountain (alone, this time—another Moses reference), and that He waited until after dark to come to His disciples.

Jesus seems to be sending the message that He’s there at this point particularly for the disciples, not the crowds. In the next passage, the crowds will actually express some irritation that He had given them the slip.

Considering the context, what stands out is our Lord’s commitment to being with His disciples. Obviously, neither the dark nor the storm nor even gravity bother Christ. But they are bothering those who are dear to Him.

So, Jesus ignores it all and walks across the water to comfort them and get into the boat, which arrives immediately at the land where they were going. Soon, He will be driving away the crowds with His divine and Messianic claims—while using the very same to teach His disciples and grow their faith in Him. He wants to be our King. On His terms alone!
How does King Jesus want you to grow in Him? Where can we learn what to do?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH273 “Break Thou the Bread of Life”

Thursday, November 22, 2018

2018.11.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 14:26-40

Questions for Littles: What kinds of things did each member of the Corinthian church wish to contribute to the worship assemblies (v26)? What principle was to govern how each was to be done? How many were permitted to speak in a tongue total (v27)? How many at a time? What had to be done if it were in a tongue? What was he to do if no one could translate (v28)? How many of those who had the gift of prophecy could speak total (v29)? What were the others who had the gift of prophecy to do? With whom else’s words did they have a similar role (v37)? How many prophets may speak at once (v30)? For what purpose does each speaker speak (v31)? Over what are the prophets to exercise control (v32)? Why (v33)? Who were not to be the speakers for any of these things (v34)? What else taught that? Where and to whom should they ask their questions (v35)? Why? Why wasn’t Corinth permitted to come up with its own “worship style” (v36)? What would all true prophets in the Corinth church acknowledge about Paul’s letter (v37)? What was true of those who failed to do so (v38)? This passage is a summary of the teaching about which two gifts during the period of new revelation (v39)? What enduring principle applied, even in that period and to those gifts (v40)? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn the importance of the Spiritual gift of prophecy during the time that the New Testament was being completed.

It was not just sermon texts that were coming by way of prophecy. Even the singing was coming that way, just as we had also learned earlier in the chapter that the praying was.

Incidentally, this is another great argument for the first-day Sabbath of the Lord’s Day. If the churches during this period were entirely dependent upon the immediate revelatory work of the Holy Spirit, it certainly was not they who determined which day of the week they gathered upon, and we know that the Holy Spirit was gathering this church on the first day of the week (cf. 16:1-2).

The use of tongues in public worship was only if there was also interpretation, so that it could function as prophecy. Otherwise, as we learned in the previous passage, tongues was only an authenticating sign for the conviction of unbelievers.

Only those with the gift of prophecy could lead the service (and none of these, therefore, were permitted to be women—even as God taught in the Law in Genesis 2-3, cf. 1Tim 2:11-15). And they had other duties, including affirming the authenticity of the words that other prophets spoke and acknowledging as Scripture those letters from the apostles which were commandments of the Lord Jesus.

And all of this was subject to two primary considerations that of course must still govern our worship today: that everything be done to build up the others in the congregation (v26), and therefore also that everything be done peacefully and calmly (v32-33) and also decently and in order (v40). God grant to us such worship!
How can you help corporate worship be more intelligible for yourself? For others?
Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry Before You Come” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

2018.11.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joshua 8:30-35

Questions for Littles: What did Joshua build in v30? To whom? Where? According to whose command (v31)? Written where? What could not be done to this altar? What did they offer on it? In whose presence did the writing in v32 take place? Upon what did Joshua write? What did Joshua write? Who stood on opposite sides of the ark in v33? What particular groups are mentioned as being there? In front of where were one half of them standing? In front of where were the other half of them standing? Who had commanded this meeting? What was the ultimate purpose of it? What did Joshua read in v34? Which particular parts does v34 emphasize to us that he read? What does v35 emphasize about how much Joshua read? What does it emphasize about to whom Joshua read?
In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, Joshua has what seems like an odd response to victory over Jericho and Ai: he makes an altar and a giant Ten Commandments monument (Deuteronomy 27 specified that it should be upon large, white-washed stone) in the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerazim.

Once the sacrifices are offered and the monument is set up, the nation shouts back and forth at each other in a ceremony to renew the vows of the covenant.

The way Moses had said it in Deuteronomy 27, these blessings and curses would hearken back to Moses’s own day, on which he had said, “Take heed and listen, O Israel: This day you have become the people of Yahweh your God” (27:9). So here, at the end of Joshua 8, it is something like a marriage renewal ceremony.

And what a ceremony it is! At first the people of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali—standing together on the foot of Mount Ebal—shout across the valley, “Cursed shall be… cursed shall be… cursed shall be…” And after every curse, the whole nation says, “Amen!”

And at the foot of Mount Gerazim, the other six tribes stand and shout blessings across the valley (perhaps those in the first half of Deuteronomy 28).

If you go back and read some of the particular applications of the ten commandments in Deuteronomy 27, you see that this national covenanting ceremony emphasized the individual, moral responsibility of every single Israelite, right down to little children.

And that is exactly what we see in our Old Testament passage today. Everyone was there—from the highest officials of the land whose duty it was to apply the law to others, to the women and children and even foreigner residents who were expected to know and keep the law.

Each one’s personal obedience was an essential part of the national covenant. And your own, personal, obedience to Christ’s law is an essential part of your family’s covenantal relationship with God, your church’s covenantal relationship with God, and your nation’s covenantal relationship with God.

Be careful not to confuse this with the legalistic idea that your obedience keeps you righteous before God. Only Christ’s obedience and sacrifice do that. However, these other covenantal relationships of which you are a part are very real. And you can expect real blessings and real curses to result from individual obedience or sin… just ask the nation that had this ceremony following the incident with Achan!!
Of what household, church, and nation are you a member? How does your morality affect them, both internally and also covenantally, before God? Who/what is the only hope for improving this?
Suggested songs: ARP65A “Praise Awaits You, God” or TPH89B “My Song Forever Shall Record”

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

2018.11.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 24

Read Psalm 24
Questions for Littles: To whom does the earth belong (v1)? How much of the fullness of what it contains belongs to Him? What else belongs to Him? Who else belong to Him? Why—what has the Lord done to the earth (v2)? What questions does v3 ask? How does v4 answer? What two things does v5 say He receives? From whom does He receive them? What does v6 call the generation of those who seek God? What commands do v7 and 9 give? To whom? What questions do v8 and 10 ask? What answer do they give?  
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer of Invocation and Confession of Sin came from Psalm 24, which have to do with the worthiness of God, and the worthiness required of those who would come near to Him.

First, the Lord is worthy of everything because He made everything. Every single thing belongs to Him. Every single person belongs to Him.

So, He is worthy of worship that is absolutely perfect. But are we worthy to give Him that worship? If we look at the criteria in v4, we have to answer that we are not!

The clean hands in v4 are not our hands. The pure heart is not our heart. The faithfully devoted soul and reliably true lips are not ours either. We know this to be true because of our Scriptural theology and personal experience, but we can also see it in the fanfare in vv7-10.

The One who is ascending the hill of Yahweh to stand in His holy place is Yahweh of hosts, the King of glory Himself! For Him, the gates are to lift up their heads. For Him, the everlasting doors are to be lifted up. He is the Champion, returning from battle!

On this side of the cross, it is not so difficult to know how this can be. The LORD Himself became a man, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. His hands have always been perfectly clean. His heart pure. His soul faithful. His lips true.

We are His and belong to Him by faith—by seeking Christ, and in Christ seeking the very face of God. And Christ has received for us blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of our salvation.

Christ alone is worthy, and we must cling to Him alone as our worthiness!
What kind of worship does God deserve? How are you going to give it to Him? 
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH24B “The Earth and the Riches”

Monday, November 19, 2018

2018.11.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 2:4-17

Read 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?

From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we were introduced to the covenant of works. The Lord provided Adam with every possible good, in addition to a sacramental “Tree of Life” holding out the promise of some eternal state of life even greater than what Adam had in the garden.

And He gave Adam general duties (serve and keep) that also have (here in Genesis 2, and throughout Scripture) very specific meanings at times: worship and obey.

Sadly, for Adam, he broke the terms of this wonderful covenant of life. The penalty was clear: dying you shall die. And it was much worse than merely returning to the dust. Adam died spiritually. He brought himself not only under God’s curse but under His wrath.

But it wasn’t sad merely for Adam. We were in Adam. We died that day with him, because we sinned that day in Him. We came under His wrath and curse.

Wondrously, God has not left us in that sin and misery. Nor has He restored us to the garden of Eden. Every good gift in Eden has a superior counterpart in Jesus Christ. He is the last Adam, who brings us into a better covenant, with better gifts, and which He has perfectly kept on our behalf!
Which Adam are you in? How do you know? What has he earned for you? 
Suggested Songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH89B “My Song Forever Shall Record”